Entering a 'New Climate State'?

Loss of Arctic Sea Ice … and of a ‘Giant Parasol’

A newly posted Yale Forum video explores the summer of 2012 record-low Arctic sea ice coverage and provides strong visuals showing the loss of older ice coverage.


A new video produced by independent videographer Peter Sinclair for The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media explains what expert scientists now find to be the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice in recorded history.

The shrinking of the Polar ice cap — providing protection much like a “giant parasol” — presents us “a big problem, a real problem, and it’s happening now, it’s not happening generations from now,” Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis cautions.

“There’s really nothing like what we’ve seen happen this year,” according to Francis. She calls the loss of sea ice in 2012 “just such a stunning example of how the climate system is changing right before our very eyes … something anybody can see, you don’t have to be a scientist.”

Other experts featured in the six-minute video are scientists Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Michael MacCracken of the Climate Institute, and Admiral David Titley, retired chief oceanographer of the U.S. Navy and now with NOAA. They advise that along with being mindful of the decreasing area of Arctic ice coverage, it’s important to keep in mind also the thinning of that ice.

“I would almost argue that we might be entering a new climate state,” says Stroeve.

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51 Responses to Loss of Arctic Sea Ice … and of a ‘Giant Parasol’

  1. John Garrett says:

    Please discuss the record Antarctic sea ice levels.

    Thank you.

    • Andrew Sutherland says:

      You might find this graph instructive, it shows that the global extent of sea ice (arctic and antarctic) is at a record low — the modest increase in the antarctic sea ice is nowhere near enough to balance the dramatic decrease in arctic sea ice.

      http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q210/Sekerob/Climate/NSIDCGlobalSIEDev1979-present_zps547c1063.png

    • David Jordan says:

      I’m sure that you agree that the Antarctic and the Arctic sea ice should behave differently, given that one is a high landmass and the other an ocean, with very different systems of circulation. I’m sure that you also know that the loss of sea ice from the Arctic is much greater than the gain in the Antarctic. In fact I’m sure you fully appreciate that the changes we observe at both poles fit with what we are learning about the global response to warming.

      A pleasure.

    • Scott says:

      You’re trying to compare apples and oranges or in this case the wide open Antarctic Continent to the land locked North Sea. The keywords being continent vs sea.

  2. my opinon is the ice cap is the most natural coldness it can desolve the hotness of the moten lava to prevent eruption.

    there is history shown of ice age , although we cant live with the coldness but this may generate observation geographic of climate

    this create the man made ideal of earth beyond our knowledge of science through the space .

  3. we must cherish the earth days with cultral social harmony at every country. we can’t live in space to put on the space suite fly the nasa shuttle. now we may share our foods and toast the drink .
    i must say we have limited natural resource like crude , metal , human resource , land , electricity , water
    , mineral , fiancial and so on.

    let keep it up communication that we have the lifestyle good connecting of internet internationally with the global net .conversation within the signifies time frame

  4. Cat Lazaroff says:

    Melting ice is one of the most direct ways that we can observe the impacts of climate change. Last week, I saw a screening of a new documentary, Chasing Ice, that offers incredible time-lapse images of glaciers literally melting away over a matter of months. It’s not in theaters yet, but you can see a sample at their website, http://www.chasingice.com. Very much worth watching – there can be no doubt when you see evidence like this, that our window to act is closing fast.

  5. Bernard J. says:

    Watching this, for the second time in as many weeks I began to weep at what is happening to the Arctic ice. Not just for what’s happening now, but for what it portends.

    None of my scientific colleagues ecology are sanguine about the implications of this rate of melting, especially considering the advanced stage of decline that it has so quickly reached. Perhaps it’s a consequence of our close familiarity with the intricacies of species and their profoundly subtle interactions with their environments, but as biologists it cuts very deep.

    Contrast this with the new (old) meme that is starting to gain greater traction in the denialist community than was the case in the past – that warming is “good” for the planet. This is an illogical and a highly ignorant dissemblance, borne of ideology and short-term self-interest, but it is as biocidally pathological as their very determination to deny in the first place the fact of human-caused global warming.

    People really need to understand what this warming means for the planet. I mean, they need to understand it in their bones.

    The comparison with war is often belaboured, but nevertheless I’ll borrow from it again: we’re at the stage where the ‘planes are already flying over the oceans to our coastlines. We can no longer avoid what we may have been able to avoid had we acted previously, but we need to move quickly if we don’t want the consequences to be any worse than they have to be.

    Joe and Jane Public really need to learn, to comprehend, what is happening to our planet. And they need to understand that it was our choices that brought us here, and that is will be our choices to either remain inactive and inflict the worst on our children and their children, or to do our best to make it as bearable as possible.

    I hope that this video is widely seen. I hope even more that people will watch it a second and a third time, and hear the apprehension in the voices of the scientists who are doing their best to be as calm in their discussions as they can be.

    Sadly, as a society, as a global community – as a species – this is not an issue about which we can be calm.

    • Dan Rogers says:

      “People really need to understand what this warming means for the planet.”

      Bernard, what DOES this warming mean for the planet? Does it mean something more than previous warmings have meant?

      You imply that “people” have failed to understand, but do YOU understand? If you think you do, then please pass your understanding along to the rest of us.

      • HarryW says:

        Dan, you can do no better than to go to SkepticalScience.com, follow the many, MANY peer-reviewed links, read the site’s voluminous catalog of answers, and the answer you seek is there.

        • Dan Rogers says:

          Every time a skeptic like me asks for an AGW explanation, the response seems to be:

          “The answer that you seek is elsewhere. I cannot explain these things for you, but there are dozens of peer-reviewed articles by other, smarter people which you can look up and read.”

          When I look them up and read them, I remain unconvinced that carbon dioxide is the climate-driving force that people claim it to be and that human emissions of carbon dioxide present a major threat to the planet or to our way of life on the planet.

          I am seventy-four years old and very well-educated by most standards. I am willing to learn new things. Why is it, do you think, that I have failed to learn what you regard as the truth about these matters? Do you think I am lying?

          • HarryW says:

            Dan, it’s *not* that I cannot explain it: I can. I’m reasonably well-versed in the subject, and am a professional scientist in a related field (geology).

            However, the old saw about ‘recreating wheels’ comes to mind: I, and others who respond to your skepticism, point you to these other refeered sources because folks WAY more learned in the field than I have exposited in multiple, respected peer-reviewed journals, had their findings rigorously vetted, and to repeat an oft-cited statistic, somewhere north of 97% of those who do this, and do it well, are in consensus about the effects of CO2.

            It *IS* established fact that CO2 is a control knob of the earth’s climate, and that knowledge is undergirded by about 150 years of empircal research.

            If you “…remain unconvinced that carbon dioxide is the climate-driving force that people claim it to be and that human emissions of carbon dioxide present a major threat to the planet or to our way of life on the planet.”, it may be because you’ve not yet studied the issue enough (it is incredibly complex to study, mind you) or you are seeking confirmation for a bias you devoutly believe in. I cannot tell which it is, but perhaps, if you were to ask specifically which one of the topics on which you remain unconvinced you take exception to, I, or someone else, can try to address it.

            The short, VERY short answer is, we do know the temperture at which life on earth as we know it is optimal, and we know, with a high degree of precision, at what rate it’s changing, and that rate is *unprecendented* in any proxy record extant, for at ~least~ the past 400,000 years.

    • HarryW says:

      Bernard J, as you’ve seen me say on other various blogs, I too, get close to tears, thinking of the chances we’ve missed to have done something, substantive, about this, way before now.

      Now? We’re getting backed into a corner of our own making, and what this all portends for the future is, without ANY intent of a pun, bone chilling.

      For the first time in my adult life, and in the role of scientist, I’m truly, deeply frightened. In the not-too-distant past, I selfishly thought that this issue, though I was concerned and ahve been aware of it now for 20+ years, would not be one i’d have to worry all that much about while I was alive.

      I fear I was wrong.

      • Dan Rogers says:

        Harry, what do you think we should be doing? Should we be devoting all our efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, or should we be devoting all our efforts to preparing for the climate changes we can see coming?

        Might we do some of each, or would that be some kind of heresy — some evidence of lack of faith in the carbon dioxide gospel?

        I am completely convinced now that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have no effect whatsoever on climate change, but I would be willing to see us institute controls on methane emissions from human-controlled sources of that gas. Although those controls will have no effect on climate change, at least we will be recovering a useful fuel. Albert Gore and his friends should be willing to endorse such methane controls, since methane has more greenhouse gas warming potential than carbon dioxide on a molecule-for-molecule basis, and that could be the basis for a semi-sensible compromise solution to the climate change problems we can see coming our way.

        • HarryW says:

          1) Humanity should, in an ideal gas kind of way, begin ramping down our production of CO2 tout suite. The amount that is now resident in the atmosphere will be with us for a few hundred years, even if we went to ZERO, tomorrow.

          2) Since that AIN’T gonna happen (there is NO ideal gas!), we need to realize we are on a collision course with a future that, if we continue BAU, will be demonstrably different than any future our modern civilization has EVER faced.

          EVER.

          3) If we do not change course, the “clathrate gun” will go off, and the amount of CH4 humans make will simply be lost in the noise of the natural sources of CH4: at that point, golly forbid if we reach, all bets are off.

          4) I choose to do eveythign I can to mitigate my carbon ‘footprint,’ and as Edmund NBurke so wisely spoke of, the only way a single human can go utterly wrong, is to not do anything at all.

          I hope this helps, Dan. Skeptical Science is, by and large, one of the BEST websites I’ve ever found, to help you through this maze, and, if you are reasonable and a true skeptic, NOT a denier, there are many there (Bernard J posts there a lot) who will help you along.

          • Dan Rogers says:

            So you insist, Harry, that it is carbon dioxide we must battle and not any other greenhouse gas such as methane. No compromise on this at all?

            I do believe that if global warming were to come to a halt, with global temperatures leveling off or even going down, you and the rest of the AGW people would still find a reason to continue the fight against carbon dioxide. Attempting to reduce carbon dioxide in the air would necessarily involve stringent restrictions on the combustion of fossil fuels, and I do believe that the true objective of the AGW people is NOT the prevention or reduction of global warming. It is the replacement of fossil fuels by nuclear fuels. That will eventually happen, but if you can make it happen very quickly, in panic mode, much more money will be made, and much sooner, by those people and companies heavily invested in the nuclear power industry.

    • Jan says:

      The story of the four kinds of horses. The first runs at the shadow of the whip. The second when the whip cuts the skin, the third when the whip cuts the flesh the fourth only when the whip cuts the bone. We are all under the tyranny of the fourth horse. How bad will it have to get?

    • J Doug Swallow says:

      This post by Bernard almost brought tears to my eyes but for different reasons that what he maintains. It appears that the video presented shows data from satellites that did not begin to take these measurements until 1979; therefore, it makes me wonder when I hear Dr. Jennifer Francis state that the ice is the lowest it has been in two thousand years. What proof does the good Dr. have to back up this claim? Perhaps Bernard can offer up some explanation for this historical and documented fact regarding the arctic and its ice:

      “The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.”

      Who reported this? the IPCC, the Meteorological Office…. No, that was the US Weather Bureau in 1922.
      Friday, August 05, 2011
      http://www.sott.net/articles/show/200389-Flashback-1922-Extra-Extra-Read-all-about-it-Arctic-Ocean-Getting-Warm-Seals-Perish-Glaciers-and-Icebergs-Melt-
       
      One can get much information to try to dry the tears from this site below and perhaps begin to realize that there have been many changes in the earth’s climate during its 4.5 billion years of existence and they all occurred with out one damn thing to do with human activity.
      Norwegian report from 1923 http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/

      It also appears that there was not too much ice when Amundsen made it through the Northwest passage in 1906.
      “Gjøa left Gjoa Haven on August 13, 1905, and motored through the treacherous straits south of Victoria Island, and from there west into the Beaufort Sea. By October Gjøa was again iced-in, this time near Herschel Island in the Yukon. Amundsen left his men on board and spent much of the winter skiing 500 miles south to Eagle, Alaska to telegraph news of the expedition’s success. He returned in March, but Gjøa remained icebound until July 11. Gjøa reached Nome on August 31, 1906. She sailed on to earthquake ravaged San Francisco, California, where the expedition was met with a hero’s welcome on October 19.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gj%C3%B8a>

      • John Monro says:

        I’ll just address one of your arguments, that “there was not too much ice” when Amundsen made it through the North West Passage. This argument is utterly absurd. Amundsen started his journey through the North West Passage in 1903, it took him nearly three years to complete his expedition. They had to overwinter twice.
        An explorer of Amundsen’s skill could now complete this passage in just a few summer months. Several small sailing boats have now accomplished this feat.
        Honestly…….

  6. John Garrett says:

    The fact that there has been little-to-no warming for seventeen (17) years would suggest that climatology’s comprehension of the climate system is not all that it’s been made out to be.

    As for Sinclair’s piece, it fits nicely in the “propaganda” section of the library.

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/09/22/cool-first-warm-later/

    Elitists, by definition, dislike other H. sapiens.

    • HarryW says:

      John, that is utterly untrue. Here’s a link that will point to you to MANY peer-reviewed studies, all based on empirically-measured data, showing the “it’s not gotten warmer” meme to be false.

      http://skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

    • Jan says:

      Your premise is wrong and so are any conclusions. Tick, tick, tick

    • Bernard J. says:

      John Garrett.

      Your comment about no warming for 17 years starkly shows your ignorance (in either sense of the word) of the fact that there is “noise” superimposed on the warming signal.

      If there were no overall warming (or cooling) trend in the climate record for the last several centuries there would still be year-to-year noise in the (flat) signal, just as there is day-to-day noise in a stock-market commodity that’s not really shifting over time. That noise can be determined as the ‘residual‘ in the global temperature data and it’s in the order of around ± 0.25 degree celsius when including most of the data. And that noise is always going to be there.

      Now, if the underlying trajectory is one of warming such as we know is occurring as a consequence of human carbon dioxide emission, that signal has to shake off the inherent noise before it can be identified with statistical confidence. In other words it has to climb out of the range of random up-and-down that is always present, underlying warming/cooling or no.

      If the rate of warming is small it will take a long time for the signal to emerge from the noise with statistical significance. If the rate of warming is not so small it will take rather less time for the signal to emerge from the noise with statistical significance.

      This is not some scientific chicanery; it’s simple fact.

      Given the current noise in the global average annual temperature signal it takes around seventeen years of data accumulation to see the underlying warming signal emerging. In other words it can be (and is) warming consistently as a consequence of irrefutable and unavoidable basic physical processes, but it will always require about seventeen years of data back in time to identify that signal with statistical significance.

      In around a decade and a half it will be possible to say then that it has warmed compared to now, but in about a decade and a half if will still be impossible to detect that signal with statistical significance if one is comparing to shorter intervals back from then.

      In other other words, there will always be “little-to-no [statistically-significant] warming [or cooling] for [x] years” no matter how much warming (or cooling) there is really occurring.

      To pretend that the warming has stopped is to simply demonstrate that you are statistically innumerate or that you know the truth but choose not to present it.

      Perhaps your problem is the former. In that case for a primer you could start here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trend_estimation

      For some expert time-series analyses, you can’t go past Tamino at Open Mind:

      http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/the-real-global-warming-signal/

      http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/trend-and-noise/

      Skeptical Science also takes a look at the difference between signal and noise:

      http://skepticalscience.com/still-going-down-the-up-escalator.html

      If your problem is not statistical innumeracy, then I can’t help you.

      And for the record, your last sentence is a complete non sequitur.

      • J Doug Swallow says:

        I really wonder how Bernard J. can, with any great degree of confidence, make this statement:
        “Now, if the underlying trajectory is one of warming such as we know is occurring as a consequence of human carbon dioxide emission”. I do know that it is legitimate to ask this question of him; when has an experiment ever been performed that demonstrates that the amount of CO2 present in the earth’s atmosphere can have the effects that some want to believe it does and I do not mean climate models reports

        Actually, this whole concept of a green house like effect surrounding the earth like a pane of glass is a ludicrous attempt to present a vision in children’s heads and I well imagine many adults also believe this. The question is, when was the last time anyone was able to “capture” anything with a gas? That this ubiquitous, odorless, colorless, and benign trace gas essential for life on earth, CO2, that is one and one-half times heavier than the rest of the atmosphere (maybe there is intelligent design after all because everything that utilizes CO2 is on the surface of the earth) and be reminded that it constitutes only .038% of the total atmosphere of our planet can have basically anything to do with the earth’s climate can not and never will be shown by ANY experiment to do so.
        That H2O is what causes the green house effect should be realized by anyone that has ever noticed that the coldest nights of the winter occur when there is no cloud cover and this is why the deserts can get to 130*F during the day and freezing at night, no cloud cover.
        Carbon dioxide is one and one half times heavier than “air”. This point was sadly proven on Aug, 21, 1986 when Lake Nyor in Cameroon released about 1.6 million tons of CO2 that spilled over the lip of the lake and down into a valley and killed 1,700 people within 16 miles of the lake. “Carbon dioxide, being about 1.5 times as dense as air, caused the cloud to “hug” the ground and descend down the valleys where various villages were located. The mass was about 50 metres (164 ft) thick and it travelled downward at a rate of 20–50 kilometres (12–31 mi) per hour. For roughly 23 kilometres (14 mi) the cloud remained condensed and dangerous, suffocating many of the people sleeping in Nyos,Kam,Cha,andSubum.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos
        This coincides with the above fact about CO2:
        ppm of CO2 with altitude and mass of CO2 in atmosphere to 8520 metres beyond which there is practically no CO2
        http://greenparty.ca/blogs/169/2009-01-03/ppm-co2-altitude-and-mass-co2-atmosphere-8520-metres-beyond-which-there-practic

        • Andy Lee Robinson says:

          Your ‘heavier than air’ example of how CO2 behaves in very high concentrations does not change any facts of how CO2 is distributed in the atmosphere in low concentrations, or how effective it is at trapping heat.

          Mercury vapour is *6.92* times denser than air, but it still floats in the atmosphere to get deposited in the Arctic where it accumulates in the food chain.

      • John Garrett says:

        Temperatures from Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA

        http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.C.gif

        Global Land and Sea Temperatures from Hadley Centre, Climate Research Unit, UK Meteorology Office, University of East Anglia

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1995/normalise

        Global Land and Sea Temperatures from Hadley Centre, Climate Research Unit, UK Meteorology Office, University of East Anglia
        CO2 from Earth Sciences Research Laboratory (Mauna Loa) NASA

        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1995/normalise/plot/esrl-co2/from:1995/normalise

        Temperatures from University of Alabama-Huntsville (NASA)

        http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_current.gif

        • J Doug Swallow says:

          The oldest temperature records that Mr. Garret directed me to only go back as far as Dr. Spencer’s 1979 satellite derived records and the Hadcrut graphs begin1994 and Hansen’s questionable GISS graphs begin in 1996 and they seems to oppose the other information that is presented. I am glad that John presented the Mauna Loa site because I will use it and a Hadcrut graph to make a point:
          (“Hansen and colleagues analyzed mean summer temperatures since 1951 and showed that the odds have increased in recent decades for what they define as “hot,” “very hot” and “extremely hot” summers.
          Just how relevant can temperatures that begin in the 1950s be to any study of the earth’s climate?”)
          “Over the 11-year span from 1930-1940, a large part of the region saw 15% to 25% less precipitation than normal.”
          http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ama/?n=dust_bowl_verses_today

          “Severe drought in 1934 covered 80% of the country, compared with 25% in 2011
          In June, 1934 the entire country had triple digit heat. We didn’t come anywhere close to that this summer.”
          http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/062/mwr-062-06-0212.pdf

          Please observe in the Hadcrut’s graphs that the Global Average Temperature is, of all things, declining.
          Met Office Hadley Centre observations datasets
          http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut3/diagnostics/global/nh+sh/

          While the Hadcrut graphs show a decline in temperature, the Mauna Loa NASA site shows a steady increase in ppm of CO2.
          Recent Mauna Loa CO2
          http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

          An area I’m interested in is Dubois, WY, the town near where I grew up, and also Moran, WY. The annual mean of monthly mean max. temperature-RAW(F) 1895-2011 clearly shows that 1932 was the hottest year and the end of the graph shows a decidedly down turn trend. Moran, WY is another area of interest to me and obviously it shows the same trends with 1932 being the highest since the record began in 1895.
           
          U.S. Historical Climatology Network – Monthly Data
          You have chosen site 486440, MORAN 5 WNW, Wyoming
          http://cdiac.ornl.gov/cgi-bin/broker?_PROGRAM=prog.climsite_monthly.sas&_SERVICE=default&id=486440

          One can derive much information from the site above and the sites below seem to demonstrate that there is much more in play here that an increase in a trace gas, CO2, that is nowhere near the levels that it has been in the past, such as during the Carboniferous when mean CO2 was at 800 ppm and the estimated mean surface temperature was 14 Deg. C & the Neogene when the mean surface temp was also 14 C but the ppm of CO2 was 280.

          The primary cause of variations in Earth’s climate is the regular variations in the brightness of the Sun and changes in Earth’s orbit about the Sun. In addition to 40-year cycles and 300-year cycles, other temperature cycles include:
          · 19,000 year cycle: Earth’s combined tilt and elliptical orbit around the Sun (‘precession of the equinoxes’).
          · 41,000 year cycle: Cycle of the +/- 1.5 degree wobble in Earth’s orbit
          · 100,000 year cycle: Variations in the shape of Earth’s elliptical orbit (‘cycle of eccentricity’)

            http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/milankovitch.html and http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/enviro/EnviroRepublish_233658.htm

  7. Jacob Griffin says:

    “Let it be known that this was the day the oceans stopped rising and the planet began to heal” Barak Obama June 4, 2008.

  8. Nullius in Verba says:

    “I’m sure that you agree that the Antarctic and the Arctic sea ice should behave differently”

    See IPCC AR4 WGI Chapter 10 figure 10.13 panels b) and c), which shows the summer sea ice in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively. As you can see, the predicted behaviour up until this point is virtually identical at north and south poles.

    That’s how climate science works, you see. You propose a hypothesis, you make predictions, and then you observe to see if they come true. If the prediction fails to come true because the effect was much bigger than you predicted, that shows that your hypothesis is right, except that you’re not being alarmist enough. If the prediction fails to come true because the effect was in entirely the opposite direction to the one you predicted, that shows your hypothesis is right, because under the circumstances it was perfectly obvious that that would happen, the situations are quite different. Everything fits the theory. Any outcome would confirm the theory. The bits that fit prove it, and the bits that don’t fit aren’t important.

    “Contrast this with the new (old) meme that is starting to gain greater traction in the denialist community than was the case in the past – that warming is “good” for the planet.”

    Yes, it’s an interesting meme. It’s hard to understand how it got going, when everyone knows that winter is much more conducive to life than summer, when people head to colder climes for their summer holidays, when farmers pray for spring frosts, when biological diversity is so much greater near the poles than at the equator.

    Everyone knows how much more poorly crops grow under greenhouse conditions – inside glass houses pumped full of CO2, trapping the sun’s heat. Greenhouses can easily simulate climates 10-15 C warmer, about 7 times more than the IPCC predicts for the world. Imagine if the climate became even 1/7th as bad for plants as a greenhouse…

    “People really need to understand what this warming means for the planet. I mean, they need to understand it in their bones.”

    I agree. And to that end, I propose that fathers should take their families on a trip to the climate future. In the continental United States, for example, the average temperature varies about 30 C from north to south, a distance of about 1500 miles. So the average temperature varies about 2 C per 100 miles. Thus, you can experience the climate of the future directly by getting in your car and travelling between 100 and 150 miles south. (People elsewhere can check the local climate average where they are, locate a place in the world where it is 2 degrees warmer, and go there. See it for yourself.) When there, observe the parched and burning wasteland, the dried-up lake beds, dodge the gangs of roving cannibals by day, and hide from the hunting blood-thirsty vampire moths by night. Experience the horror of our climate-change future directly, in person.

    I can think of nothing more educational: that more viscerally drives home exactly how much danger we are all in. Take the trip. Prepare for survival.

    • David Jordan says:

      I’m glad to see that you are having fun, Nully, but I’m sorry that you prefer to play games than address the issues. I doubt our children will forgive our self indulgence.

      I am tempted to address the obfuscations you put forward but, since you are clever and well-informed enough to create them, I will presume you understand why what you say is misleading. I will leave you to sort it out with your concience but I am baffled by your motivation.

      • Nullius in Verba says:

        It’s one of the characteristics of very strong belief systems that the believers cannot comprehend how anyone could not believe. Sometimes it’s assumed that they are only pretending not to believe, for some reason, or alternatively it is ascribed to stupidity, ignorance, self-interest, or malice. The though that somebody could be both intelligent and well-informed, and genuinely not believe, is virtually inconceivable.

        I struggle with it myself. Intuitively, I find it hard to believe that on a planet that ranges in temperature from -90 C to +50 C, that people are genuinely frightened about a couple of degrees warming – that they are acting like it is potentially ‘the end of the world’. I find it hard to understand how such weak and often flawed evidence can be so utterly convincing. But intellectually, I have no doubt that they do, and it is. It’s human nature, and our only defence against it is to listen carefully to people with different beliefs, and different blindspots.

        And if this site’s aim is to communicate climate science, you need to know how your communication efforts will be interpreted by your target audience. It’s not what would convince you that you need, or that would convince another believer. You need to know how it will play with someone more inclined towards scepticism, with access to all the arguments sceptics can supply.

        I doubt our children will even remember it – they will have their own new apocalyptic theories and predictions, just as our parents did, and every other generation. The theories change, but the pattern remains the same.

        Society changes, abandoning the safety of tradition, and is thereby doomed by their descent into ‘sin’. The doom might be punishment by the Gods. It might be the collapse of civilisation, of law and order, or public morality. It might be to be poisoned by technology. It’s noble and patriotic traditions might be corrupted by foreign ways. The ends justify the means. And the only hope for survival is strict adherence to rituals, and that the believers persuade the sinners to repent and return to the more traditional ways of the Golden Age of an idealised past.

        People are afraid of ‘chemicals’, even though the entire world (including themselves) is made of them. People are afraid of radiation, even non-ionising radiation like microwaves. People are afraid of industry, the use of finite resources. People are afraid of synthetic biology, of genetic modification and vaccines and reproductive medicine. People are afraid of machines, taking over, replacing us, making us dependent. In the old days, it was religion, race, gender, sexuality, wealth, and power that mattered. In each case the ideal state is called ‘natural’ and the dangerous innovation is called ‘unnatural’, and we have to return to the natural state or we are surely doomed. The pattern seems to be built in to humanity; endless variations on the same script.

        So as far as I’m concerned, this is just another one in a long series; an ever-recurring manifestation of human nature. I don’t doubt your sincerity, but I don’t find it at all convincing. I’ve no doubt you don’t find me convincing, either. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t mutual benefit in us talking. We can learn a lot from a perspective that challenges our assumptions, even without agreement.

        That’s my motivation. And my conscience is clear.

        • HarryW says:

          Nullius, you assert, quite dogmatically…

          “I find it hard to understand how such weak and often flawed evidence can be so utterly convincing. ”

          Could you cite EXACTLY which part, and your bona fides to do so, is “…weak and often flawed?”

          • Nullius in Verba says:

            HarryW,

            I can’t give a complete explanation briefly – it’s a very large and complex subject, and most points involve extended arguments and counter-arguments.
            (I’d be happy to give more examples if you want, and if the moderators don’t consider it off-topic.)

            But to illustrate what I mean, take this very common claim that Arctic melting proves the dangers of global warming. Mostly, the argument goes: dangerous global warming is predicted to melt sea ice, sea ice has melted, therefore dangerous global warming is true. This is a form of argument called ‘confirming the consequent’, and is a classic fallacy.

            It’s related to the ‘correlation implies causation’ fallacy, where people note that CO2 has risen over the late 20th century, and sea ice has declined over the late 20th century, therefore the decline was caused by the rise in CO2.

            Another is the argument from ignorance: we know of no alternative hypothesis to explain it, therefore there can be no alternative explanation.

            A more sophisticated fallacy is the extrapolation of trends. A trend line is calculated according to an algorithm based on certain assumptions, and it is extrapolated into the future; thus assuming that the trend exists and that it will continue. Unfortunately, there are many processes that falsely give the appearance of having trends when they actually don’t. Carelessly drawing trend lines on graphs can be grossly misleading.

            Another problem commonly seen is selective citation of evidence and post-hoc justification. We see this in the case of the Antarctic ice. The IPCC prediction is that both Arctic and Antarctic should initially be affected by global warming the same. Observations don’t match that, and nor would they be expected to. Natural variation is much larger, and the model ensembles smooth such variations out. But in the case of the Arctic the mismatch is assumed to mean the problem is bigger than thought, and in the Antarctic various post-hoc justifications are offered to explain why the Antarctic is different. Of course, when it looked briefly like Steig was going to show the Antarctic was warming after all, they switched back to the original prediction, but we can see that the predictions are being adjusted after the observations are made to ensure the AGW argument is supported.

            It’s not even necessary to the theory. Explaining the changes as the result of wind and weather does not falsify AGW.

            I don’t doubt its polemic value, though. It is one of the most common examples of ‘evidence’ for AGW cited by non-scientists, and is clearly powerfully persuasive. On the other hand, the logical problems with the argument are comparatively easy to explain, so it is also one of the primary reasons for scepticism – not because its refutation falsifies AGW, but because they evidently can’t come up with anything better. Why would anyone cite bad arguments if they’ve got good ones? Why would you trust the reasoning of someone who couldn’t tell the difference?

            The technical term for this question is ‘detection and attribution’: detecting a change in climate, attributing it to man. And the IPCC was extremely cautious and equivocal about it in its technical report, with many caveats. The evidence presented is weak, and they know it. But it seems most believers know only the executive summary, which omits the uncertainties and caveats, and transforms into ever-more concrete expressions of certainty with every retelling.

            I can certainly respect a scientist who acknowledges the uncertainties and whose concern is precautionary. To the extent I take their concerns seriously, activists who exaggerate and distort the science I consider dangerous – like the boy who cried wolf.
            It will ultimately damage the reputation of science itself.

        • David Jordan says:

          You are right that I have a strong belief system. I strongly believe that evidence and reason reveal truth. Thus the evidence and our understanding of the climate system reveal a range of behaviours which are being borne out by experience (the melting of the Arctic ice-cap, for example). And, since our understanding of the system is incomplete (like our understanding of most complex systems) we are learning about it as we go along (which is why we are learning about the differing responses of the two ice-caps under the same broad warming influences). If you wish to argue that adjusting our picture of the systems behaviour as we go along is evidence of insincerity I would respond that its just an acknowledgement of our incomplete evidence and models – which is true of most of our knowledge of the world. We don’t stop ourselves using chemotherapy on cancers because we don’t have a full understanding of their effects. We use it, we keep observing and we adapt our models of cancer behaviour and our chemotherapy recipies in response. Faced with any threat we respond using the best appraisal of our situation that we can muster and improve our response as the situation develops.

          You claim sincerity but, given the clear evidence for dangerous climate impacts in front of us, and our agreed understanding of the way the climate works, I have doubts. To take one issue you mention, you say that there can be no significant risk from a change in temperature of a few degrees given that the planetary temperature range is so large. This is obviously misleading (and you must surely know it) – the daily temperature difference between the last glacial maximum in Europe and the temperature today is just a few degrees (something like a 2 degree drop is required to return the glaciers to the Scottish corries, if I remember correctly, based on the Loch Lomond readvance pollen data). You could argue that we would be able to adapt to the return to full glacial conditions, and you are probably right, but to do so as quickly as we are probably changing the climate will require adaptations, including large population movements, which will be vastly expensive and disruptive and carry the risk of conflict.

          I am very inclined towards scepticism. Evidence must meet high standards, models must have strong foundations – but it cuts both ways. If, for example, you wish to argue that a 4 degree increase (or decrease) in temperature won’t have a dramatic effect on our economies and security, given the likely impact on agriculture (some positive, some negative, most disruptive and costly) and sea level, or that the acidification of the oceans won’t risk economic damage to fishing industries or that the melting of the permafrost soils of Siberia won’t cause a significant warming feedback then you need to say why using credible evidence and explanations of the behaviour of the climate system which are consistent with our wider observations.

          Objectively the risks we run are clear and significant – not because we wish to comfort our belief systems but because of the behaviour of gasses and energy in climate systems. If I have a belief system it is thermodynamics.

          So, while I would like to respond to your request for a conversation based on a mutual respect for each others sincerity I wonder where we could start. If you believe that we are not at significant risk because of the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere then I wonder what else you wish to believe.

          • Nullius in Verba says:

            David,

            “I strongly believe that evidence and reason reveal truth.”

            Me too. Although I also believe that human reasoning is fallible, so this has to be challenged and tested.

            “Thus the evidence and our understanding of the climate system reveal a range of behaviours which are being borne out by experience (the melting of the Arctic ice-cap, for example).”

            Do you mean our understanding of the climate system allows us to make predictions, like the melting in the Arctic?

            If they do, that’s good – it means we can test it.

            But in this case, we predicted a very slight reduction with unknown natural variability on top. Is that what you think has been shown?

            “If you wish to argue that adjusting our picture of the systems behaviour as we go along is evidence of insincerity I would respond that its just an acknowledgement of our incomplete evidence and models – which is true of most of our knowledge of the world.”

            Not insincerity – fallibility.

            Adjusting our models as we go is the right thing to do, but you can’t mix model development with model validation. You use observations to develop the model, and then you have to use separate observations to validate it. If you observe, model, predict, observe again and find everything still fits, and you have reason to think it wouldn’t if your model was wrong, you can tentatively accept the model. If you find it doesn’t fit, you go back to square one. The model is wrong, and is rejected. A partial, unreliable fit is not good enough. Using the same data to develop and test a model is a classic error in scientific methodology.

            “This is obviously misleading (and you must surely know it) – the daily temperature difference between the last glacial maximum in Europe and the temperature today is just a few degrees”

            I would suggest that this demonstrates that there is more to glaciation than just the average temperature. Glaciations depend also on the distribution of heat rather than just the amount – if the transport of heat from equator to poles slowed, for example, you can get ice at the poles, warming at the equator, and not much change in between.

            As I understand it, models are not yet capable of fully explaining the glacial cycle. I don’t regard the point as an obvious one.

            However, I will caveat my earlier comment to say that there clearly are physical and biological thresholds, and that for locations close to those thresholds the consequences would be significant.

            “So, while I would like to respond to your request for a conversation based on a mutual respect for each others sincerity I wonder where we could start. If you believe that we are not at significant risk because of the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere then I wonder what else you wish to believe.”

            My view is that we don’t know whether we are at significant risk – it hasn’t been proved, or disproved. The evidence presented is problematic, and advocacy seems to have invaded the science. They don’t act as I would expect scientists to faced with an issue of such magnitude.

            To the extent that I see the potential for risk, I find their attitude concerning. Bad science and advocacy make for poor decisionmaking, and that’s the last thing we need in such circumstances. You can play political games over minor matters, but not such apocalyptic ones. It’s insanely irresponsible.

            We seem to have already started the conversation based on mutual respect. We’ll have to see where it goes. But to be precise, I don’t actually ask or expect it – as a climate sceptic I’m very much used to being insulted. :-) You guys are actually very polite here. I was just trying to explain my motivation, since it seemed to be puzzling people – to say I was being sincere, and that I respect your sincerity, but the main point of participating is to be exposed to ideas from people who disagree with us, to test our beliefs and mitigate our own biases. That doesn’t actually require mutual respect, just tolerance. Mutual respect would be a bonus.

  9. J Doug Swallow says:

    One can only wonder at why Dr. Jennifer Francis didn’t mention what follows below rather than postulate that nothing like what had just occurred in the arctic had not happened for at least the last 2,000 years. Since Claire Parkinson has to answer to James Hansen, I’m sure that she had to temper the report to make it fit Hansen’s alarmist line of thinking and this is a strategy that is wide spread, it seems, among the alarmist community.

    “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.” – Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC

    “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” – Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace

    “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” – Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation

    “An unusually strong storm formed off the coast of Alaska on August 5 and tracked into the center of the Arctic Ocean, where it slowly dissipated over the next several days.”

    “It seems that this storm has detached a large chunk of ice from the main sea ice pack. This could lead to a more serious decay of the summertime ice cover than would have been the case otherwise, even perhaps leading to a new Arctic sea ice minimum,” said Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist with NASA Goddard. “Decades ago, a storm of the same magnitude would have been less likely to have as large an impact on the sea ice, because at that time the ice cover was thicker and more expansive.”
    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/arctic-storm.html

    • A scientist writes says:

      You need to understand the difference between a trend (long term melting), and an event, i.e. a storm that breaks of a chunk of ice (the increase in storm event is also a result of climate change).

      You are sceptical of real science and real scientists. It continuously amazes me that climate change deniers fail to turn their famous scepticism on the sources that they use, uninformed blogs, so-called climate experts with no background in science etc.

      • Dan Rogers says:

        Continued use of the term “climate change deniers” is not useful in this debate. There are people who deny that any climate change is taking place at all, but most people, like me, who are skeptical about the role of carbon dioxide in climate dynamics, recognize that the climate has been warming for thousands of years now as we continue to emerge from the current glaciation period. We certainly do not deny that this warming of the planet has taken place, is continuing to take place, and will probably not end until the north polar ice pack disappears.

      • J Doug Swallow says:

        It would be great if A scientist would try to understand the difference between a trend and an event. In the case of this discussion, it appears that the main difference is the date that satellites began to monitor the arctic ice. I will re-submit the information presented below that is well documented and substantiated and ask if what happened in 1922 was showing a trend and how a 1922 satellite view, if it had been possible to have one, of the arctic ice would compare with today’s arctic ice.

        Who reported this? the IPCC, the Meteorological Office…. No, that was the US Weather Bureau in 1922.
        Friday, August 05, 2011
        http://www.sott.net/articles/show/200389-Flashback-1922-Extra-Extra-Read-all-about-it-Arctic-Ocean-Getting-Warm-Seals-Perish-Glaciers-and-Icebergs-Melt-

        It would have been nice to have had a satellite view of the ice when this happened to be able to make a comparison:
        “At 9:47 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Aug. 11, 1958, the 265-foot-long Skate — the third nuclear-powered submarine in the American fleet — poked through a break in the ice near the North Pole. Soon after, Admiral Calvert, then a commander, radioed the news to headquarters in New London, Conn.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/us/16calvert.html

        It is possible to use satellite views for a comparison of the ice extent in 2004.
        While USS Honolulu (SSN-718) is the 24th Los Angeles-class submarine to surface at the North Pole, she is the first of the first-flight 688 to perform operations Arctic.

        With a burst of air into the forward ballast tanks, USS Hampton (SSN-767) surfaced through a thin sheet of ice at the North Pole on 19 April 2004. The Sailors onboard that day had the chance to experience something few others have …surfacing at the top of the world.
        http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/usw/issue_23/north.htm

        This site has many interesting views of various aspects of what is happening on earth, according to NASA:
        World of Change
        http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/columbia_glacier.php
        If you look at this that is shown at this site; “Columbia Glacier, Alaska”, please look at this information below and make a comparison:

        This applies to the dire warnings regarding melting glaciers: Keep in mind that Geo. Vancouver’s ships were wind powered; therefore, he wasn’t spewing out any diesel smoke to start this massive retreat of these glaciers.
        http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2001/07/glacierbaymap.gif
        Glacier Bay was first surveyed in detail in 1794 by a team from the H.M.S. Discovery, captained by George Vancouver. At the time the survey produced showed a mere indentation in the shoreline. http://www.glacierbay.org/geography.html

        And do not forget the Raina report;
        http://gbpihed.gov.in/MoEF%20Dissussion%20Paper%20on%20Himalayan%20Glaciers.pdf
        This is a good report on glaciers in the Indian Himalayan Mountains.

        • Halldór Björnsson says:

          There is a good review article on what is known about the history of sea ice

          Polyak, L., et al., History of sea ice in the Arctic, Quaternary Science Reviews (2010),

          http://bprc.osu.edu/geo/publications/polyak_etal_seaice_QSR_10.pdf

          The authors detail numerous studies on past ice extent. It appears that claims that now we are at the lowest in a millenia are based on sound science.

          • J Doug Swallow says:

            Halldór Björnsson: Thanks for the link to this informative site that has some good information. They gave me reason for pause when they presented this. “The role of greenhouse gas forcing on the observed sea-ice area trends finds strong support from the study of Zhang and Walsh(2006). These authors showed that for the period1979–1999,the multi-model mean trend projected by the Coupled Model Inter-
            comparison Project,version3(CMIP3; IPCC, 2007) is down ward, as
            are trends from most individual simulations.”

            I would like to see the results of any experiment that shows that CO2 in the quantity present in the earth’s atmosphere, drives the earth’s climate, as some want people to believe.

            What follows is what scientist do; they formulate experiments to either prove or disprove their hypotheses:
            Prof. Dr. Henrik Svensmark, Center for Sun-Climate Research des Danish National Space Institute
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VxstzCXSMH0

            More sunspots, less cosmic rays, warmer earth. During the last 50 years or so, there have been record numbers of sunspots, low cosmic ray fluxes and somewhat higher temperatures.
            “People are far too polarized, and in my opinion there are huge, important areas where our understanding is poor at the moment,” says Jasper Kirkby, a physicist at CERN. In particular, he says, little controlled research has been done on exactly what effect cosmic rays can have on atmospheric chemistry.
            http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110824/full/news.2011.504.html

            This below leads one to wonder just how much warming is taking place in the arctic at present:
             Arctic treeline advance not as fast as previously believed
            Carey Restino | The Arctic Sounder | Mar 18, 2012
              http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/arctic-treeline-advance-not-fast-previously-believed

            This site is interesting to analyze the AV. Max & Min Temps and also the Mean Temps. going back to 1947.
            Past Monthly Weather Data for Kaktovik, AK [Alaska] (“Barter Island (dew)”) : JANUARY, 1947 – 2012
            All months for this station:
            http://weather-warehouse.com/WeatherHistory/PastWeatherData_BarterIslandDew_Kaktovik_AK_January.html
            “The National Weather Service, the official weather reporting and recording agency of the federal government reported 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) at Fort Yukon on June 27, 1915, as the highest recorded temperature in the state. The lowest recorded temperature was minus 80 degrees F (-62.8 degrees C) at Prospect Creek, about 25 miles southeast of Bettles, on January 23, 1971.”
            http://www.alaskool.org/resources/regional/yukon_reg_profile/climate.htm

            Barrow Sea Ice Webcam
            http://seaice.alaska.edu/gi/observatories/barrow_webcam

  10. Robert Nagle says:

    Nullius, A few brief points to ponder (btw, I am not a scientist, just an informed layman — the very type which you seem to vilify).

    First, I could not find your IPCC reference you listed. PCC AR4 WGI Chapter 10 figure 10.13 panels b) and c), I think it is inaccurate. http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10.html

    From what I read, IPCC 2007 didn’t even tackle ice melt because of the lack of solid research. Based on my limited reading, I seriously question your statement that IPCC predicted that Arctic and Antartic sea ice melt would proceed at an identical rate. (And frankly this sounds suspiciously like a nonscientist talking point rather than something a consortium of scientists would stand behind). I expect that in the 2014 iPCC report there will be better research and modeling for ice sheets and more ability to make predictions — far more than they were able to do in 2007. From one scientist (quoted on skepticalscience), Arctic melting before the Antarctic was entirely consistent with models. Skepticalscience even suggests that modeling of sea loss has been improving considerably http://www.skepticalscience.com/lessons-from-past-climate-predictions-arctic-sea-ice-extent-2012.html

    If climate change is not responsible for this precipitous sea ice melt in the Arctic, do you have a better explanation?

    My understanding is that Arctic sea ice melt is a manifestation of climate change, and it amplifies other warming trends. Therefore, I don’t view sea ice melt as “proving” climate change.

    From what I read, its effect is mainly on amplifying other forcing and affecting the jet stream across North America. I should stress that I know very little about this topic.

    From a risk-assessment and policymaker’s point of view, the strategy should be reduction of harm and mitigation of the current trend. Nothing you have stated would convince a policymaker that Arctic sea ice melt is in fact not harmful or risky.

    • Dan Rogers says:

      Robert, I have not noticed that Nullius in Verba tends to vilify laymen. Saying that he (or she) does isn’t really very nice or very helpful. Laymen are the people whom the AGW proponents have to convince, and so far I do not think they have done a very good job of it. I am a layman in these matters, and I remain unconvinced.

      The very fact that we debaters regularly distinguish between laymen and clerics, instead of scientists and non-scientists, points out the way this debate has become “religulous” in nature.

    • Nullius in Verba says:

      “I am not a scientist, just an informed layman – the very type which you seem to vilify”

      I wasn’t aware of vilifying anybody, and it was certainly not my intention. On the contrary, I try to treat experts and laymen on an equal footing – I judge their opinions by their arguments; not their qualifications, publications, or employment.

      That said, if I think someone is using a bad argument, I’ll say so. But it’s not meant to be personal. The aim is to develop better arguments.

      “First, I could not find your IPCC reference you listed. PCC AR4 WGI Chapter 10 figure 10.13 panels b) and c), I think it is inaccurate.”

      http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-3-2-4.html

      “If climate change is not responsible for this precipitous sea ice melt in the Arctic, do you have a better explanation?”

      If I was to say ‘no’, would you say that because we know of no alternative hypothesis to explain it, therefore there can be no alternative explanation?

      Arctic ice melts as a result of heat from the sea, not the air. Factors affecting ice melt include cloud (sunny weather warms the water), ocean currents (warm or cold water being pushed into the Arctic), and wind (which can affect the currents, blowing warm water north into the Arctic, or pack ice, blowing it south into warmer waters). Observations indicate that the recent large shifts are related to wind. That might or might not have anything to do with CO2 – and if it does it isn’t even obvious in which direction it would move things.

      Another possibility to consider is that it is simply random. The ice each year is equal to the ice last year plus the net gain or loss over the year. If you suppose that the net gain is a random value that varies independently from year to year, with a relatively weak tendency to return to the equilibrium, you get a type of process that frequently shows trends where there are none.

      Suppose T(0) = 0 and T(t+1) = 0.99*T(t) + R(t) where R(t) is a zero-mean, normally-distributed random number, representing the weather over a year. If you plot an example for a few hundred points, it will frequently exhibit a rising or falling ‘trend’, but in fact the average of the distribution at every point is zero.

      It’s important to be aware of the possibility. A lot of climate variables act in similar (but even more complicated) ways.

      “From what I read, its effect is mainly on amplifying other forcing and affecting the jet stream across North America. I should stress that I know very little about this topic.”

      This is referring to the zonal index, which is the pressure difference between pole and tropics, and is affected by the temperature difference. A strongly negative zonal index causes waves in the boundary between the polar and Ferrell convection cells to get bigger, resulting in deep mixing between warm and cold air masses. The jet streams flow along the boundaries between cells. The result is a series of localised heatwaves and cold wet depressions, moving slowly around the world. You can look up ‘Rossby waves’ and the ‘index cycle’ to learn more. The behaviour was well known back in the 1930s, when Rossby first wrote about it.

      There is a point to the argument, but it doesn’t mean much without quantification. There are a lot of factors affecting the movement of pressure systems – outside the equatorial zone their motion is chaotic. It’s usually regarded as ‘weather’, rather than climate.

      It’s like saying global warming causes clouds, it’s cloudy today, therefore the cloud today was caused by global warming. The fact that a factor has a tendency to move things in a certain direction doesn’t mean all movement in that direction is caused by that factor. There are many other factors, too.

      “From a risk-assessment and policymaker’s point of view, the strategy should be reduction of harm and mitigation of the current trend.”

      From a risk policy point of view, when you don’t know which is the right direction to go to reduce risk, the strategy should be to gather resources and make preparations for jumping, to take steps to gather better information, but not to make the jump. The aim is resilience to any outcome, and developing the capability to move quickly in any direction when you know what to do.

      The correct response to uncertainty is to improve your flexibility and agility, to expand your options, to improve your situation awareness, not to gamble on your first guess.

      • John says:

        “First, I could not find your IPCC reference you listed. PCC AR4 WGI Chapter 10 figure 10.13 panels b) and c), I think it is inaccurate.”
        http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-3-2-4.html

        Looks to me, from these graphs, that ice loss is the same in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

        • J Doug Swallow says:

          What follows pretty well sums up the medias coverage of climate issues and this site is also included in attempting to heavily cloud the issue with its own biased reporting. What ever happened to the days gone by when it was the TRUTH that mattered? Why hasn’t Peter Sinclair produced a piece on the build up of the Antarctic Ice to record highs?

          “The problem with all of these frantic stories being written about Arctic sea ice melt is that they all assume that man made global warming, caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, is the cause. These stories never delve into anything other than the standard “it’s our fault and we better do something about it” drum beat……. Whenever we set a record for large amounts of sea ice the media world seems compelled to find a reason why this does not contradict man made global warming……… The overall temperature trend since actual satellite measurements have been made shows no trend either up or down across the coldest place on earth for the last three and a half decades.”
          http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm/11760/Cold-Hard-Fact-Antarctic-Sea-Ice-is-at-Record-High

          “Despite the fact that Alaska and many other northern regions bordering the Arctic Ocean suffered through one of the harshest winter seasons in decades in 2011-12, the Arctic sea ice melted this summer to an all-time low, obliterating all previous records.

          At the end of the winter season last Saturday, Sept. 22, the Antarctic ice pack was at a near-record high level and still advancing like an ocean glacier towards Argentina and Chile. ”
          http://www.cdapress.com/columns/cliff_harris/article_a05e3752-947f-5606-a52d-f2ecb906f3b3.html

          Record Antarctica Ice Contradicts Global Warming Trend

          http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Antartica-ice-global-warming/2012/09/30/id/458115

  11. J Doug Swallow says:

    John Monro needs to do some honest research, such as discovering that Amundsen actually didn’t start through the passage until August 13, 1905 from Gjoa Haven. John needs to see just how far it is to go from there to where the Gjøa clears the Northwest Passage and arrives in Nome. It appears that John’s simple math is wanting if he can subtract 1905 from 1906 and come up with 3. Amundsen spent two nearly two years on the south shore of King William island out of choice to learn from the Inuit people on polar survival. These lessons served him well when on he and four others arrived at the South Pole on 14 December 1911, five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Scott, who should have taken some lesson also, because he took ponies to the Antarctic while Amundsen had dogs. Amundsen and his team returned safely to their base, and later learned that Scott and his four companions had died on their return journey; therefore, Amundsen’ expeditions were not to set records but to learn how to live in the polar regions.

    Since you do not want to get the proper time line of Amundsen’s expedition to the arctic in 1903 to 1906 and will not look it up, I will provide it for you:
    1. June 16, 1903
    “Roald Amundsen and his crew of six men and six sled dogs sail from Oslo in Gjøa, a 70-foot herring boat. Amundsen sets himself a maximum deadline of five years to chart a Northwest Passage and carry out scientific measurements at the magnetic north pole. (I guess this sounds to John Monro like Roald Amundsen set out with NO plans of producing anything useful from this mission other than to just get from point A to point B. It seems like he had an itinerary and followed it and that is probably more than John could do today with a modern vessel rather than a 70 foot wooden sailing vessel that did have a 13 horsepower single-screw marine paraffin motor installed on it.)
    6. August 13, 1905
    Amundsen sails from Gjoa Haven. A few days later, Gjøa encounters a whaling ship from San Francisco coming towards it from the west in approximately this location. Amundsen now knows he will complete the Northwest Passage. In his diary, he notes, “The North West Passage was done. My boyhood dream—at that moment it was accomplished. A strange feeling welled up in my throat; I was somewhat over-strained and worn—it was weakness in me—but I felt tears in my eyes. ‘Vessel in sight… Vessel in sight.’
    7. August 17, 1905
    Continuing to the south of Victoria Island, the Gjøa clears the Arctic Archipelago on this date but has to stop for the winter before going on to Nome on Alaska Territory’s Pacific coast. About 500 miles away, Eagle City, Alaska has a telegraph station; Amundsen travels overland there (and back) to wire a success message to Norway on December 5, 1905. The Gjøa breaks through the final stretches of the Northwest Passage and reaches Nome on August 30, 1906.”
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/arctic/expe-nf.html

    “1940: Canadian officer Henry Larsen was the second to sail the passage, crossing west to east, from Vancouver to Halifax.”
    http://www.fcpnorthwestpassage.com/about/previous-explorers

    I spent 14 years in the arctic and the first load of supplies never got to the port for the Red Dog Mine below Kivalina until after July Fourth. One year they held off bringing in the last loads of fuel and the Chukchi froze and the shortfall in fuel had to be flown in to keep the mine in operation before the summer break up allowed supply barges to get in.
    Honestly…….

  12. J Doug Swallow says:

    Andy Lee Robinson should show me the experiment that demonstrates how effective CO2 is at trapping heat. In regards to how much CO2 is in that atmosphere at various altitudes, I wonder if Andy has ever been at 18,000 feet above sea level where the density of air is 500 millibars or half what it is at sea level. I have been on a couple of occasions at or above 18,000′, such as in Nepal and on Kilimanjaro, and it is easy to tell that there is only about 1/2 as much O2 available as there is at sea level. If Andy doesn’t want to believe the information that I presented from CRC 85th edition 2004-2005 handbook on physics and chemistry, then Andy should present some that he feels is valid that shows just how much CO2 there is at 18,000 feet. In other words, take your argument up with the Green Party Of Canada and the source that they presented and not me personally.

    I should be more concerned about the “Mercury vapour is *6.92* times denser than air, but it still floats in the atmosphere to get deposited in the Arctic where it accumulates in the food chain.” but the EPA doesn’t seem to be very sure just how much damage mercury is doing to the developed world’s populations.

    “EPA also confessed that U.S. power plants actually contribute a mere 3 percent of the total mercury deposited in computer-modeled American watersheds and subsequently, in fish tissue. Citizens will justifiably wonder where the other 97 percent comes from, and why we should spend so much money for so little benefit.

    Third, the agency’s estimates for mercury exposure risks are solely for “hypothetical female subsistence consumers” who daily eat almost a pound of fish that they catch in U.S. streams, rivers, and lakes over a 70-year lifetime (less than 1 percent of U.S. women). For the rest of American women, who eat mostly ocean fish purchased at a grocery on a far less frequent basis EPA’s rules are irrelevant.”
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/2/epa-extreme-punishment-authority/print/

    I’m sure that Andy Lee Robinson’s concerns are justified but this is what the advances in the developed world have done for human longevity:
    “In developed countries, the number of centenarians is increasing at approximately 5.5% per year, which means doubling the centenarian population every 13 years, pushing it from some 455,000 in 2009 to 4.1 million in 2050.[50] Japan is the country with the highest ratio of centenarians (347 for every 1 million inhabitants in September 2010). Shimane prefecture had an estimated 743 centenarians per million inhabitants.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#Regional_variations

    One of the greatest limitations to longevity is a lack of energy that generally causes a lack of food and the burning of cow dung and wood that produces smoke and also a shortage of quality food and a means to keep food fresh and nutritious plus a lack of transportation and heat, where required, and light at night to permit reading and learning; this could go on but no need in doing so because most thinking folks have an idea of the point that I’m making.

  13. Dan Rogers says:

    Much of the verbal sound is missing from the video. Could we have the video republished? I assume that somewhere in the video someone will say that the Arctic sea ice is melting because of carbon dioxide, but I would like to hear the whole thing. With most of the sound missing, aside from nice psychedelic harmonies, the video looks to have been very well made.