Category Archives: Science

IPCC Climate predictions change in AR5

Shortly after I left town for a 2 week trip to the East Coast, the IPCC released their latest assessment on climate change, it’s Fifth Assessment is nicknamed AR5.  Today I pulled up some of the report from the web.    It was full of surprises.

The press did not surprise.  Gloom and doom has been everywhere these past two weeks.   Lost is all the hoopla is a significant change in the way the IPCC makes predictions.  They have become more circumspect.    Gone are absolute short term predictions like this one from AR4 made in 2007:

For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emissions scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all GHGs and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected. Afterwards, temperature projections increasingly depend on specific emissions scenarios. {3.2}

AR4 included the following charts to help explain their short term temperature predictions:

https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/fig/figurespm-5-l.png

Now look at what AR5 says:

It is more likely than not that the mean global mean surface air temperature for the period 2016–2035 will be more than 1°C above the mean for 1850–1900, and very unlikely that it will be more than 1.5°C above the 1850–1900 mean (medium confidence).

A quick peek at the East Anglia University  temperature data set will allow us to interpret what 1 degree C since 1900 really means:

The world average from 1850 to 1900 was about 0.7 degree C cooler than the year 2000 baseline used in AR4.   So the new report is saying that the world has about a 65% chance (more likely than not) of being about 0.3 degrees C warmer on average between 2016 and 2035 than it was in the year 2000.  They also say that temperature is very unlikely to be as high as 0.8 degrees C higher.

Compare that statement  to the chart from AR4.  The IPCC predicted  0.8 degree C above 2000 as a most likely case in the year 2035.    The AR5 report lowers their estimate and changes the way it is calculated.  AR5 deals with average temperatures over a period of time while AR4 made much more specific and higher predictions.  AR4 effectively ignored natural climate variation.  AR5 does not repeat the mistake.

AR5 includes two significant temperature prediction caveats.   They acknowledge that natural climate variation makes specific temperature predictions difficult in the short run and they included a statement on volcanic activity:

This projection is valid for the four RCP scenarios and assumes there will be no major volcanic eruptions or secular changes in total solar irradiance before 2035.

IF the earth experiences a significant  (Mt. Pinatubo equivalent) volcanic eruption, then IPCC projections will likely be wrong according to the IPCC.   How likely are Pinatubo equivalent eruptions?  Volcanic eruptions are measured using the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI).   Mt. Pinatubo was a 6.   A chart courtesy of Wikipedia describes VEI and offers their best guess for each classification.  Here it is:

https://climateswag.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/6ac18-veitable.jpg

This chart says both VEI 5 (Mt St. Helens) and VEI 6 (Mt. Pinatubo) eruptions happen at rates that are less than one every 100 years.   What are these guys smoking?    The Wall Street Journal published a chart that shows each VEI 5 or higher event in the last 200 years.

Between April of 1815 and August of 1991, the Earth produced 19 VEI 5 or greater eruptions.   Mt. Tambora,  got things started in April of 1815.   This category 7 event was really special.  5,000 feet of this Indonesian volcano disappeared in a single event.   There was so much crap in the air that 1816 was named the year without a summer.  It was followed by 14 category 5 events, and  4 category 6 events culminating with Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.

Recent history is going to give us the best data.  Recent history says the IPCC is ….well…wrong.   We probably will have a significant eruption before 2035.   I suspect wild ass guessing at the UN.  Mother Nature gave us 4 category 6 events in the 108 year period from August of 1883 (Krakatoa) to June of 1991 (Pinatubo).

I am glad AR5 noted the exclusion of volcanic activity and made some references to natural climate variation.  These inclusions make the work so much better. The admission really was necessary.  AR4 short term temperature predictions were so flawed that they had to do something to explain why they were so wrong.

AR4 was full of bad wild ass guessing….and at least  AR5 acknowledges that they might be wrong.  The IPCC admits that there is a one in three chance that they are being too aggressive simply because normal climate variation makes specific predictions difficult.  A VEI 6 Volcanic eruption will totally mess with their predictions.

Lets assume VEI 6 eruptions happen every 40 years or so.   A VEI 6 volcanic eruption between now and 2035 carries a 50% probability.  We must then reduce the probability that the IPCC predictions are correct by that 50% since they admit they assumed a zero probability.

I’m just glad to see the IPCC adjusting to the real world…at least a little bit.

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Polar Bears, Whales, Climate Science and Exxon

Wow!

What  a day. Four different articles in Section One of the Anchorage Daily News worthy of a post.  Most days nothing catches my eye.  Not today….well it is April Fools Day.

  1. UN Court orders Japan to halt Antarctic whaling was the feature page 1 story of the day.   The court voted 12 to 4 against the Japanese claim that killing up to 1000 whales a year was a form of scientific research.
  2. Researchers use DNA to trace lineage of polar bears was also a page one story.  A University of Alaska Fairbanks study used DNA evidence to demonstrate that the Polar Bear, Black Bear and Brown Bear have specific genetic histories.   The article went on to discuss the Endangered Species Act and the use of computer models to try to place the Polar Bear on the Endangered Species List.
  3. Exxon: Climate Change Policy Highly Unlikely to Limit Fossil Fuel Sales appeared on Page 3.   This article featured arguments between Exxon scientists and Environmental scientists about the relative costs and benefits of fossil fuels to society.  Surprise…they disagree.
  4. UN report: Global warming dials up our risks made it’s appearance on page 5.  The UN released a 32-volume report on climate on Monday.   This AP article discussed the impact climate change will have on food production.  The article talked about the impacts on poor people and the impacts on fine wine and coffee too.

There you have it, four wonderful April Fools Day treats in the first five pages of  my local paper.

Article 1 – Whaling in Antarctica

Apparently, last year the UN’s highest court had a trail.  In that trial, the Japanese government claimed that killing up to 1000 whales a year in the Antarctic was being done as a form of scientific research.

The Japanese position fails the laugh test.  When a legal position is so bad that others witnessing the lawsuit might actually laugh during the argument, that position has failed the laugh test.  Trust me, no lawyer wants to present a position that fails the laugh test.  Japan just failed.

This story says  something about Japan and about the UN too. 4 judges agreed with the Japanese position?!  And it took the court months and months to come to this conclusion?  World politics is a constant source of amazement.

Article 2 – Polar Bears

When I first started reading about Polar Bears, the conventional wisdom was that they became a distinct species about 200,000 years ago.   Perhaps two years ago, early DNA studies changed that to 600,000 and then another study last year said it could be as high is 4 million years.   This study pegs the change at 1.2 million years plus or minus.  And the study acknowledges that the time clock being used is approximate.

The lead scientist, Dr. Matthew Cronin, has been a vocal critic of the Endangered Species Act.   He has made, according to the article,  the following statements about the listing of the Polar Bear as an endangered species

It seems logical that if polar bears survived previous warm, ice free periods, the could survive another.

and

This is of course speculation, but so is predicting they will not survive, as the proponents of the Endangered Species Act listing of polar bears have done.

and

I don’t think you should base endangered species on predictions and models.  It should be focused on real-world problems.

All this was music to my ears. No so for Dr Steven C. Amstrup, principal author of the report recommending the ESA listing.  He called Dr Cronin’s study incautious and misleading.  Dr. Amstrup then pointed out that the current warming cycle was happening much more rapidly than had previous cycles.

Wrong.  The world is predicted by IPCC climate scientists to begin rapid warming soon. The World has been warming for over 200 years, but most of that has been natural climate variation.  The 2007 IPCC Climate Synopses predicted immediate warming.  The world was supposed to be about .2 degree C warmer than it is right now and that warming was supposed to accelerate with time.  The IPCC was wrong.

Warming to date is well within the normal range of the last 10,000 years.  The Earth warmed at a relatively rapid rate between 1993 and 1998, which also included a climate changing volcanic eruption and a strong El Nino.  Warming stopped and has been relatively stable since 1998 as this Satellite Temperature chart demonstrates:

https://i2.wp.com/www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_February_2014_v5.png

Perhaps Dr. Amstrup is just a tiny bit defensive.   He based all his arguments on climate models that have …at least so far…been wrong.

Article 3 Exxon vs Environmentalists

This article seemed perfect to me for April 1st.   Exxon and the Environmental lobby differ on the relative value of fossil fuels.   Duh!  Talk about a firm grasp on the obvious.   The article can be summed up by a single paragraph about halfway through the article.

Exxon and the environmental groups agree that climate change is a risk and that society will take steps to reduce emissions from fossil fuels to slow the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  They differ, however, on how drastic society’s response could be, and what would cost more — severely restricting fossil fuel consumption or not doing so and allowing more carbon dioxide to build up in the atmosphere.

Exxon thinks emissions will peak in about 2030.  The peak level of emissions will be less a risk than the environmental lobby predicts.    I have no idea where the truth lies.  Vested interests are everywhere.   The article really broke no new ground and provided no new information.

Article 4 — UN Report on Climate

Our local paper ran an AP story titled UN Report: Global warming dials up our risks in today’s paper.  I cannot find the article at AP or at adn.com (The Anchorage Daily News website).  I found stories with the same title.   I also found a story with the same title written by the same AP writer, but the story was completely different.  The Anchorage Daily News has a history of editing AP articles, so I read the online AP article.   The two articles are completely different. I have never encountered this before.

It does feel a bit like an April Fools Day prank…on page 5 of the Anchorage Daily News.

My local newspaper version of the AP story is an awful story.  It focuses solely on food supply issues caused by global climate change.   I wish I could find a way to link it.   The article mixes starvation in India with fine wine and coffee in the developed world.  Global climate change will change food availability and costs according to the article.  And not in a good way.

The article talked about potential starvation in India.     Yep, as India goes from a country with a billion people to a country with 1.5 billion people, food is going to become more of an issue.   Perhaps birth control or lack thereof might be a part of India’s food supply problem.   Maybe even more important than carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere?

 

 

Sea Level Questions Continue

Yesterday, I read a piece in our local newspaper discussing the problems rising sea level will cause.   Built into the article were two assumptions, both of which are probably  incorrect.

  • Assumption 1 – Sea level could rise by as much as a meter by the year 2100
  • Assumption 2 – Man can take actions to alter this in some significant way.

When I look at sea level data I see confusion.   Today was no exception.   My inquiry began with a look at Satellite data courtesy of  Colorado University.

Sea level, according to CU, is rising at a rate of about 3.2 millimeters a year (plus or minus 12.5%).  That’s about an 1/8 of an inch per year or about a foot per century.  Plus or minus an inch or two.  Not exactly a meter, but coastal regions will have difficulties.  Sea level has been rising since the Little Ice Age ended some 250 years ago.   If I had land in Key West, I’d be worried.

But sea level in Key West isn’t rising at 3.2mm/yr, it’s rising at 2.24 mm/yr.  And the trend has been steady for the 100 years of the data.

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 8724580 - Key West, Florida

Key West may be under water at some date in the future, but the rate of change appears to be much less than predicted by IPCC scientists.  I suppose Key West could be an oddity, but it’s unlikely.   I visited the NOAA web site and checked many places I thought might be interesting.   Places like Bermuda, Honolulu, San Francisco, Venice.   Yep, Venice, well Trieste, it’s just across the bay.

http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/trends/270-061.png

Trieste’s rate is less than 40% of the Satellite predicted rate.

1.24/3.4 = .397 or 39.7%

The margin for error is half the satellite data rate (.2 mm vs .4mm)

Every place I checked  had a trend rate that was less than the satellite data.   In most cases the predicted margin for error was less than the satellite data too.    A few select data points have a longer history too. I tabulated the results

City                                            rate of change       data history

San Francisco                             2.01 mm/yr       160 years                                              Honolulu                                       1.50 mm/yr       110 years                                                     New York                                     2.77 mm/yr       120 years                                                 Bermuda                                       2.04 mm/yr         70 years                                          Narvik, Norway                       -2.06 mm/yr          60 years                                          Cochin, India                              1.71 mm/yr          70 years                                                Hong Kong                                  2.92 mm/yr          60 years                                        Nagasaki, Japan                        2.20 mm/yr         45 years                                          Sydney, Australia                     0.65 mm/yr         130 years                                     Auckland, New Zealand         1.29 mm/yr         120 years

This data doesn’t tell the full story of the confusion.  Individual sites provide lots of conflicting data.   Honolulu has been trending down since about 2002:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 1612340 - Honolulu, Hawaii

The NOAA presentation of the Bermuda data a bit odd:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 2695540 - Bermuda,

Most of the increase shown in Bermuda happened before 1960.  Had the data set begun in 1955 instead of 1934 the trend line would have shown nearly no net change.  Sea level rose fairly rapidly from 193o until 1955 and has been relatively stable since then.  Go figure.

Virtually every city I checked showed a less ominous looking trend line than the satellite data.  This land based data has it’s limitations.   Many international cities have tiny data sets, particularly in South America and Africa.   Only one data point exists for all of Antarctica

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 999-003 - Argentine Islands, Antarctica

I would argue that the Antarctica data doesn’t really suggest a trend but NOAA calculates the trend at  1.43mm/yr.  When I look at the data I see no net changes since 1960.  Sounds kind of like Bermuda’s data to me?

Something is wrong.   Every land site I checked showed less overall change than the satellite data.   How can that be?   The satellite data is an average for the whole world.   Some specific locations should be higher and some places should be lower.

Northern locations like Alaska and Norway are showing reduced sea level due to reduced gravitational pull from the Arctic Ice Sheet (presumably).  Where are the equatorial places that are compensating for that reduction?   I can’t make sense of the data.   Satellite data and measurements at land interfaces don’t tell the same story.

Sea level is extraordinarily difficult to calculate.   Sea level changes in one part of the world can take years and years  to impact the ecosystem.  I understand that storms and changing ice sheets impact the data.  Change that can take decades to correct.

WHY is the satellite data very nearly ALWAYS significantly higher than the land data?

The Satellite data has been higher every year since the data began in 1993.   Every year! Most places I have checked disagree by about 1 mm per year.  After 20 years of data the sources disagree with each other by about 20 mm.  or about .78 inches.  The longer this condition exists, the less I trust the data sets.

It really is difficult to make accurate predictions about sea level if you don’t have the ability to accurately graph the underlying trend line.  Sea level, almost certainly,  has been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age some 250 years ago.  But by how much?   Almost no statistical data exists before the Civil War. I suspect SWAG.

Sea level has been steadily rising for probably 250 years.   How much has been man’s impact? I don’t know and I’ll go a step further…nobody knows!

I am not convinced that we have the tools necessary to accurately predict the future course of events as it relates to sea level.    Sea level appears to be an indicator that follows rather than leads climate change.   How much of today’s changes in sea level were impacted by global temperatures of 20 or 50 or 100 years ago?  I don’t know.  I see guessing here, there and everywhere.

IPCC scientists might have the trends right….but even that is…I fear …. a guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Katrina and climate change politics

Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck the city,  was just convicted of corruption.  Twenty counts.  All related to Katrina reconstruction contracts.  I must admit, I wasn’t surprised.

Katrina is a classic example of people not preparing for a likely event simply because it is infrequent.  Politics is all about immediate problems.  Politicians do not do well preparing for events that only come along every 100 years or so.   A relatively large hurricane struck a city adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.  A city with sections below sea level.   It has happened before and it will happen again.  Someday.

Katrina and Al Gore are inexorably linked in my mind, because of Mr. Gore’s film.   An Inconvenient Truth linked human tragedy with climate change.  Lots and lots of newsreel footage of Katrina suffering, with Mr. Gore narrating.   George Bush and global warming shared the blame, according to Mr. Gore.

Mr. Gore’s approach begins with little bit of science.  He then provides lots of anecdotal information.  He then uses that information to support his gloom and doom climate change thesis.  The science may or may not have anything to do with the subject at hand, but it seems like the two are linked together.   The process works well.

The Katrina section of the film opened with a graph.  The graph displayed the changes in worldwide ocean temperatures.  The graph showed a rise in recent years.   That graph was the only specific data provided.

Tropical systems need warm water to form.  Mr Gore asserted that because  the oceans are warmer,  there would be more storm systems.  Videos of suffering in New Orleans; pictures of suffering in Asia. Many  tropical systems were featured.  The storms themselves were all the proof Mr. Gore needed.

Multiple problems immediately come to mind.

  • Global average ocean temperature is a bad proxy.  Most warming since the end of the Little Ice some 250 years ago  has occurred in temperate and Arctic locations.  The Tropics have been remarkably stable.
  • The IPCC 2007 Synopses Report, released a year after An Inconvenient Truth,  called tropical cyclone data  inconclusive.  Mr. Gore’s favorite UN agency contradicted him in their most recent report.
  • Mr. Gore’s ocean temperature chart went back to the 1940’s.   Ocean data before the 1980’s must have been a wild guess because before that date very little data existed.

But Mr. Gore’s central problem is this; statistical data does not support his premise.   Tropical systems have not been becoming more frequent.   In the years since his film was released, worldwide activity has decreased by a small amount.   Globally, tropical systems have been surprisingly stable for at least 40 years.

How do I know this?

Scientists use ACE (The Global Tropical Cyclone Accumulated Cyclone Energy) to track worldwide total tropical cyclone activity.  This data takes into consideration both the strength and the number of cyclones all over the world.  It’s a mathematical way of calculating the yearly impact tropical systems have on our environment.  24 month running sums are plotted.

Here it is:

https://i0.wp.com/policlimate.com/tropical/global_running_ace.png

Forty years of data, no trend.  Unfortunately the real world and the world of global climate politics are completely different places.   In 2005, when Katrina was devastating New Orleans, man caused global climate change was supposedly causing bigger and nastier storms including Katrina.

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines late last year.  Global climate change was an oft stated source of the devastation.  Haiyan was a big storm, but not unprecedented and not unexpected.  6 to 9 typhoons strike the Philippines in a typical  season.

A typhoon struck the Philippines in September of 1881. It is estimated that 20,000 people in the Philippines died and thousands more died in Viet Nam. It was the most devastating tropical storm in recorded history. More tropical cyclones strike the Philippines than any other populated place on earth.

Mr. Obama, in his State of the Union address, blamed drought in California on man caused climate activity.   A recent study disagrees:

Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years — compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years

Katrina was a category 3 storm when it hit New Orleans, Haiyan was a big storm, but others have been bigger and the drought in the West has happened before.   The Mayan culture disappeared some 600 years ago, presumably due to over population and a change in the climate.

Maybe, just maybe, Nature is simply being Nature.   Some climate change might simply be a Natural Event.

Chicken Little, Smoking and Al Gore

Sunday’s paper included an article on the acidification of the oceans, and another on the changed political world associated with smoking cigarettes.   I sat in my easy chair,  and I let my mind wander.   Almost immediately, Chicken Little and Al Gore popped into my head.  It makes sense, sort of, really, it does.

I have disliked Mr. Gore for a long time, and the article on smoking brought back old memories. Mr. Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, is probably where my smoking Al Gore memories began.    The film discussed skeptics and the smoking lobby in a way that tried to make one interchangeable with the other.   I took it personally.

According to Mr. Gore, I must be immoral, unethical or stupid since I don’t see the world his way.  I find his actions oddly suspicious and, dare I say it…unethical.  Why does Al Gore seem to feel a need to attack those that disagree with him?  He has equated skeptics to people who think the Apollo missions were faked.

Let’s review how Mr. Gore attacked climate skeptics in his film.

  • He began by showing how he was fooled by the evil smoking lobby.  How he grew tobacco on his farm until his sister died of lung cancer in 1984.  I thought Mr. Gore was about 20 years late for the anti smoking party.
  • He then used some statistical gymnastics to “prove” that there was a consensus in science. Everybody that was anybody in science agreed with him.  The science was conclusive.  Earlier in the film he made the point that conventional wisdom is frequently wrong in science.  Most scientists will admit there is no such thing as consensus in science.  Doubt is a part of science.
  • People that disagree with him could not possibly have any factual basis for their argument.  They must have an ulterior motive.
  • The only explanation was that these people were casting doubt and profiting by this effort.  And as Mr. Gore then noted, we have all seen this one before….
  • A slide from a 50’s magazine showing physicians recommending smoking immediately appears.
  • It is followed by a quote from a smoking lobbyist recommending doubt as a strategy.

Casting doubt is a part of the scientific process.  Mr. Gore demonstrated an ignorance of the way science works and personally insulted everyone that disagreed with him.   Why?  To convince the audience that skeptics have no credibility.   Come on Al, argue the science.

I found the character assassination unwarranted and uncalled for.  Why the smoking references?   The two (smoking and carbon dioxide) are very different subjects.

Smoking is an addictive habit with virtually no beneficial offsets. Carbon dioxide is a building block of life.  No carbon dixode, no plants.   As carbon dioxide increases it causes changes in our environment.  Some changes are good, and some are bad.  Some carbon dioxide is good, too much is bad, but how much is too much?

A difficult question…and there is no consensus, no single answer.

Al Gore was not the first and he will not be the last to try to win his argument by attacking the credibility of his opponent.  It is a normal political activity…that does not belong is science.  Ahhh, if only it were so.  The argument has been a recurring one for decades.  The skeptic/smoking talking point seems to be everywhere.  It’s like everybody in the global climate game has the same script.

Let’s talk Chicken Little.

The Oceans  suck up carbon dioxide.  As the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air increases, carbon dioxide increases in the sea.  This presumably causes rapidly accelerating changes in the surface ecosystem of the oceans.   I have read several articles on the subject.  It certainly sounds plausible,  the ecosystem might be in danger?  Unfortunately, I find myself distrusting the science because of one simple problem.  History.

Climate experts have been spouting gloom and doom since the 1980’s.   And at least so far, the sky is not falling.

UN IPCC predictions of doom have been around since the first Climate Assessment was published in 1992.  A strong El Nino in 1998 made these guys look positively brilliant.  And then as the 21st century began, the climate gloom parade developed growing pains.

  • The predictions of accelerating warming failed to show up.  The world stopped warming in 1998.
  • The Mathematics of the Hockey Stick were successfully challenged
  • Scientists got caught cooking temperature numbers in Climate-gate.  The e-mails also displayed an arrogance and disdain for those that disagreed.
  • The IPCC 2007 Synopses predicted erroneously that the Himalaya Glaciers would be gone 30 years.  Their current guess, 400 years.  As a part of the admission, the IPCC was forced to acknowledge some sloppy vetting practices.
  • In 2006 a skeptic found huge errors in NASA climate data, lowering temperatures for the first 6 years of the 21st century.
  • In 2009 Al Gore predicted incorrectly that the Arctic would be ice free by 2013, a year when the Arctic Ice actually grew.  2012 was a big year for ice loss, but a cool summer in 2013 caused at least a temporary change.

The sky could start falling today or tomorrow, and Chicken Little could be right.  But I cannot help but think:

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

Al Gore’s Wild Ass Arctic Ice Guess

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Mr. Gore spent lots of time talking about Arctic Ice in his 2006 pseudo documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth.  We got to see Al ride on a Nuclear Submarine and watch as he saw first hand how the Navy measured ice thickness in the Arctic.

Sometimes it’s good to be Vice President.

Mr. Gore talked about how he was able to use his influence to get very important confidential Arctic Ice data released.   He then provided the data in graph form.   Mr. Gore narrated while the graph was displayed.   He said that the ice had been reduced by 40% in 40 years.  It was catchy and easy to remember.  What a story.

But was it true?

No.  Well I’m sure he rode on the sub and the Navy has data.   Most everything else is simply a part of his story.  And it’s a good story.

Mr. Gore (in the film) presented a charts that showed a steady decline in the ice mass in the Arctic.  He lectured to the audience while the slide was being displayed.   He claimed the ice had decreased 40% in 40 years.   Here’s the chart:

https://i2.wp.com/web.ncf.ca/jim/ref/inconvenientTruth/full/00_44_25.jpg

Mr. Gore’s chart says the ice declined by 1.5 million square kilometers from a base of a bit less than 14.    I’ll help Mr. Gore with the arithmetic.  1.5/13.7 = 11%.

11% in 35 years is not exactly 40% in 40 years.   Mr. Gore’s careless use of data  really is old news.  Why, one might wonder, am I bringing this up now?

Well I always suspected the entire calculation was a wild ass guess but I didn’t have good independent confirmation.   I suspected Sub based data would be spotty and incomplete.  But I wasn’t sure.  Now I am confident the entire section of the film was a fabrication (except for the submarine ride).  A good story and nothing else.

Visit the National Snow and Ice Data Center  (NSIDC) web site.   They provide lots of statistical information about  ice in the Arctic (and Greenland and the Antarctic too).   The NSIDC has this to say about Arctic Ice thickness:

While satellite observations have shown a decline in Arctic Ocean sea ice extent since the late 1970s, sea ice is highly mobile, and a decrease in extent does not necessarily imply a corresponding decrease in ice volume. Observations of thickness (which allows  calculation of volume) have been limited, making it difficult to estimate sea ice volume trends. The European Space Agency (ESA) CryoSat satellite was launched in October 2010 and has enabled estimates of sea ice thickness and volume for the last three years.

The best information is only 3 years old.  Wow.  Everything before that is a guess or so says The National Snow and Ice Data Center.  These University of Colorado scientists are the recognized experts.  Mr. Gore released his film in May of 2006.  Most of his data ended before 2005.

Wild Ass Guess Confirmed.

Balmy weather in Alaska

Today, Thursday January 23rd was a noteworthy day for South-central Alaska.  It was 48 degrees F at my house in the Hillside area of Anchorage, and we had 7 hours of daylight.  The Sun is getting a bit higher in the sky and the extraordinarily flat light that is early January is beginning to fade.  On December 21st, we had only 5 hours, 27 minutes and 41 second of daylight.  Today we had 7 hours, 2 minutes and 31 seconds.  And the Sun is 4 degrees higher in the sky than it was just a month ago.

And that 4 degrees is a big change.  As we near the Winter Solstice, the Sun almost disappears, rising to about 5.5 degrees above the horizon.  Such is life at 61 degrees North Latitude.   On January 20th, we were all treated to a spectacular sunrise.   The sun rises at a flat angle, which allowed for viewing like this that lasted half an hour as the Sun struggled to come up above the Chugach Mountains:

We are having a Chinook, which means we have a warm wind blowing down from the mountains east of Anchorage.  The warm wind makes it’s quite a bit warmer near the mountains, and cooler down in the flat-lands.  Also,  there’s a funny bend in the Jet Stream causing most of the State to feel a warm wet Southerly flow of air.  The same bend is making it super cold in the Midwest.

The result. It’s almost 30 degrees F warmer than the average Anchorage January Day.  Yesterday, the Weather Channel, AP and ABC News  all ran the same Alaska  weather story.  Alaska was on average 2 degrees F warmer the lower 48 states.  Yep, the calculated average for the State of Alaska was 24 degrees F and the lower 48 US States were a whopping 22.

It was a fun story to read, but was it true?   Let me use today as an example.  Today my car thermometer said 37 degrees in a midtown parking lot.   I immediately drove the 10 miles to my house where the same thermometer said 48.  I have no idea what the temperature was 10 miles east of my house.  Nobody knows.   It’s in the middle of an uninhabited mountain range.   Alaska is a really big place with not very many weather stations.

Today my house was 10 degrees warmer than the official weather station.   In cold clear weather, I am 5 to 10 degrees cooler…and I’m only 10 miles away.  The trip from Anchorage to Barrow is 800 miles long and crosses two mountain ranges…including the tallest Mountain in North America.

Any single number temperature for the entire state at any given time must be a guess.  A Scientific Wild Ass Guess.   It has been a warm January.   No doubt about it.  One for the record books.  But, we really don’t know  how warm, exactly.  Nobody knows.  But we can give a pretty good educated guess….and it is just that, a guess!