Thursday, February 15, 2007

An Awful Amount Of Confusion For A So-Called Consensus

Here we have an article that would tend to damage one of the underpinnings of global warming theory. For your reading pleasure, I have utilized the rather hackneyed technique of adding in my own comments in italics at the end of each paragraph. Or you can read the same article without my sarcastic comments here.

A new report on climate over the world's southernmost continent shows that temperatures during the late 20th century did not climb as had been predicted by many global climate models. –HA!

This comes soon after the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that strongly supports the conclusion that the Earth's climate as a whole is warming, largely due to human activity. –Maybe they should have waited a couple of weeks to release their report, ya think?

It also follows a similar finding from last summer by the same research group that showed no increase in precipitation over Antarctica in the last 50 years. Most models predict that both precipitation and temperature will increase over Antarctica with a warming of the planet. -OK, so maybe waiting wouldn’t have made a difference. They probably would have just ignored it, like the previous study.

David Bromwich, professor of atmospheric sciences in the Department of Geography, and researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, reported on this work at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at San Francisco. –Much to their displeasure, I’m sure.

"It's hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now," he said. "Part of the reason is that there is a lot of variability there. It's very hard in these polar latitudes to demonstrate a global warming signal. This is in marked contrast to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula that is one of the most rapidly warming parts of the Earth." -“We’re looking as hard as we can, but it’s just not there!”

Bromwich says that the problem rises from several complications. The continent is vast, as large as the United States and Mexico combined. Only a small amount of detailed data is available – there are perhaps only 100 weather stations on that continent compared to the thousands spread across the U.S. and Europe. And the records that we have only date back a half-century. -In other words, there’s not enough data to make a solid conclusion either way, but that won’t stop them from trying.

"The best we can say right now is that the climate models are somewhat inconsistent with the evidence that we have for the last 50 years from continental Antarctica. -They don’t tell the EXACT truth, but they’re in the spirit of a truth that we believe in. Sort of like Dan Rather’s memos about the President’s National Guard Duty.

"We're looking for a small signal that represents the impact of human activity and it is hard to find it at the moment," he said. –“But we’re going to keep looking till we find it. Even if it’s not really there.”

Last year, Bromwich's research group reported in the journal Science that Antarctic snowfall hadn't increased in the last 50 years. "What we see now is that the temperature regime is broadly similar to what we saw before with snowfall. In the last decade or so, both have gone down," he said. -So the temperatures have gone DOWN?! It’s global warming! We’re all going to freeze!

In addition to the new temperature records and earlier precipitation records, Bromwich's team also looked at the behavior of the circumpolar westerlies, the broad system of winds that surround the Antarctic continent. –They surround it, and penetrate it, and bind the continent together. Sorry, channeled Star Wars for a second there.

"The westerlies have intensified over the last four decades of so, increasing in strength by as much as perhaps 10 to 20 percent," he said. "This is a huge amount of ocean north of Antarctica and we're only now understanding just how important the winds are for things like mixing in the Southern Ocean." The ocean mixing both dissipates heat and absorbs carbon dioxide, one of the key greenhouse gases linked to global warming. -Which is apparently going to cause us to burn up. Unless it makes us freeze.

Some researchers are suggesting that the strengthening of the westerlies may be playing a role in the collapse of ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula. –So it could be natural after all. Unless you’re blaming the increasing westerlies on man. Except, they’ve been increasing for 40 years, and you only have 50 years of data, so how can you tell?

"The peninsula is the most northern point of Antarctica and it sticks out into the westerlies," Bromwich says. "If there is an increase in the westerly winds, it will have a warming impact on that part of the continent, thus helping to break up the ice shelves, he said. –In a trial, this is what they call “Reasonable Doubt.”

"Farther south, the impact would be modest, or even non-existent." -Primarily because farther south, it’s land locked, making it much harder for the glaciers to fall off into the ocean.

Bromwich said that the increase in the ozone hole above the central Antarctic continent may also be affecting temperatures on the mainland. "If you have less ozone, there's less absorption of the ultraviolet light and the stratosphere doesn't warm as much." –So the destruction of the ozone layer will prevent global warming? Talk about your mixed messages.

That would mean that winter-like conditions would remain later in the spring than normal, lowering temperatures. -But only if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, apparently.

"In some sense, we might have competing effects going on in Antarctica where there is low-level CO2 warming but that may be swamped by the effects of ozone depletion," he said. "The year 2006 was the all-time maximum for ozone depletion over the Antarctic." -Is that anything like the McD.L.T., where the hot side stays hot, and the cool side stays cool?

Bromwich said the disagreement between climate model predictions and the snowfall and temperature records doesn't necessarily mean that the models are wrong. –It also doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right though, either.

"It isn't surprising that these models are not doing as well in these remote parts of the world. These are global models and shouldn't be expected to be equally exact for all locations," he said. –If it’s a global model, then it should be able to make global predictions, right? You guys certainly have been playing it up that way. But if the more extreme areas of the planet are the ones that aren’t falling in line, that would tend to point to some basic inaccuracies in your model. It’s easy enough to model the “normal” areas, and it’s easy enough to model the extreme areas. But I would think that for it to be a workable global model, it would have to be able to account for both at the same time. A global model is, by definition, supposed to describe the ENTIRE globe. That’s why it’s called global. Maybe you guys need to go back and work on your model a bit before you expect us to re-write the basic underlying laws of our civilization in accordance to it. I’m just saying.

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