natural cycles

Thought to be extinct – when science is wrong

Species extinction is a natural phenomenon, but sometimes, as Mark Twain wrote: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The Endangered Species Act has been used for good to help some species and for political reasons to stop or inhibit mines, logging, farming, and many other activities. Below is a collection of articles which show that some reports of extinction were in error. Sometimes, “settled science” is wrong. (Note, most links have photos.)

Long-lost Tasmanian tiger may have been found

September 6, 2017

Do Tasmanian tigers still exist? A few trackers believe they have found evidence — releasing alleged footage of proof. The grainy and fleeting videotape, according to The Mercury, showed Tasmanian tigers (also known as thylacines) in their natural state: a thylacine walking slowly at a distance, a thylacine nose at the camera lens, and a thylacine with a cub.

Official accounts, according to The Mercury, suggest the thylacine became extinct on the Australian mainland more than 2000 years ago, although unverified “sightings” occur across many states of Australia from time to time. (Read more)

Boy finds ‘extinct’ frog in Ecuador and helps revive species

July 7, 2017

A school-age boy has rediscovered an Ecuadorian frog considered extinct for at least 30 years. The animal has now successfully bred in captivity.

The colourful Jambato harlequin frog (Atelopus ignescens) was once so widespread in Ecuador that it turned up in people’s homes, was something children played with and was used as an ingredient in traditional medicine. Then it was suddenly wiped out, probably by a combination of climate change and fungal disease. (Read more)

Frog not sighted in 30 years and declared extinct reappears in Costa Rica

June 07, 2017

SAN JOSE – Costa Rican scientists reported the reappearance of an endemic frog species that had not been sighted for three decades (Heredia robber frog, Craugastor escoces.) It was declared extinct in 2004 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN). (Read more)

Seychelles snail, believed extinct due to climate change, found ‘alive and well,’ says group

Sep 8, 2014, NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A snail once thought to have been among the first species to go extinct because

of climate change has reappeared in the wild. The Aldabra banded snail, declared extinct seven years ago, was rediscovered on Aug. 23 in the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles. The mollusk, which is endemic to the Aldabra coral atoll — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — had not been seen on the islands since 1997, said the Seychelles Islands Foundation. Read more And here

‘Extinct’ corpse-eating fly back from the dead

July 9, 2013

Behold the bone-skipper, high in the running for the strangest fly on Earth. For the bone-skipper, fresh carcasses just won’t do. No, these flies prefer large, dead bodies in advanced stages of decay. And unlike most flies, they are active in early winter, from November to January, usually after dark. They also disappeared from human notice and were declared extinct for more than a century. That’s why they’ve often been considered almost mythical or legendary, said Pierfilippo Cerretti, a researcher at the Sapienza University of Rome. In the past few years, three species of bone-skipper have been rediscovered in Europe, setting off a buzz among fly aficionados. (Read more)

Biologists find rare snake near Gila River

July 6, 2013

The northern Mexican garter snake was once thought to be extinct in New Mexico. Not so, according to biologists at the Albuquerque BioPark. They found three of the snakes in early June near the Gila River and another three later in the month. Two of the snakes were studied, tagged and released. The remaining four were brought to the Albuquerque Zoo to establish a breeding population.(Read more)

An ‘extinct’ frog make s a comeback in Israel

Jerusalem, June 4, 2013 — The first amphibian to have been officially declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been rediscovered in the north of Israel after some 60 years and turns out to be a unique “living fossil,” without close relatives among other living frogs.

The Hula painted frog was catalogued within the Discoglossus group when it was first discovered in the Hula Valley of Israel in the early 1940s. The frog was thought to have disappeared following the drying up of the Hula Lake at the end of the 1950s, and was declared extinct by the IUCN in 1996. As a result, the opportunity to discover more about this species’ history, biology and ecology was thought to have disappeared. (Read more)

Cute rodent species surfaces after 113 years

May 19, 2011

Scientists thought a mysterious guinea pig-sized rodent species that hadn’t been seen in 113 years was long extinct. Until one of them ambled up to two volunteer naturalists at a nature reserve in Colombia two weeks ago. The nocturnal animal, the elusive red-crested tree rat, turned up just as the scientists were heading off to bed, at 9:30 p.m. on May 4. It spent two hours watching as the volunteer biologists took photos of it, the n calmly ambled off into the darkness. (Read more)

India team uncovers 12 frog species

Sep 18, 2011, New Delhi – Years of combing tropical mountain forests, shining flashlights under rocks and listening for croaks in the night have paid off for Indian scientists who have discovered 12 new frog species plus three others thought to have been extinct. (Read more)

Pygmy tarsier, a tiny primate, rediscovered in Indonesia

November 19, 2008

The tiny Furby-like pygmy tarsier, presumed to be extinct, was found during a recent expedition to Indonesia. And the cuddly, huge-eyed nocturnal critter is the very definition of cute. Gursky-Doyen of Texas A&M

University traveled into the mountains of Sulawesi Island in Indonesia to confirm that the pygmy tarsier was unequivocally extinct, but ended up becoming the first person in more than 80 years to spot a live one. (Read more)

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Rediscovered in Arkansas

April 28, 2005

A group of wildlife scientists believe the ivory-billed woodpecker is not extinct. They say they have made seven firm sightings of the bird in central Arkansas. The landmark find caps a search that began more than 60 years ago, after biologists said North America’s largest woodpecker had become extinct in the United States. (Read more) Note: this contention is still controversial – see here.

Coelacanths fish

Coelacanths (seel-a-canths) were once known only from fossils and were thought to have gone extinct approximately 65 million years ago (mya), during the great extinction in which the dinosaurs disappeared. Today, there are two known living species.

The first living coelacanth was discovered in 1938. For many years, living coelacanths were known only from the western Indian Ocean, primarily from the Comoros Islands, but in September 1997 and again in July 1998, coelacanths were captured in northern Sulawesi, Indonesia, nearly 6,000 miles to the east of the Comoros. Read more

The moral of this story is that even “settled science” can be wrong. A good scientist should always be skeptical.


Related: For the past several years alarmist scientists have claimed that humans are causing “the sixth mass extinction” on Earth. Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin debunks this claim in the article: “Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction.”

Erwin is one of the world’s experts on the End-Permian mass extinction, an unthinkable volcanic nightmare that nearly ended life on earth 252 million years ago. He proposed that earth’s great mass extinctions might unfold like these power grid failures: most of the losses may come, not from the initial shock—software glitches in the case of power grid failures, and asteroids and volcanoes in the case of ancient mass extinctions—but from the secondary cascade of failures that follow. These are devastating chain reactions that no one understands.



Rate of sea level rise is controlled by natural oscillations

A new paper by Dr. Nicola Scafetta of Duke University examines the relationship of natural, solar-driven ocean oscillations such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) to the changes in rate of sea level rise. He finds no correlation with atmospheric carbon dioxide or temperature.

Before I get into the Scafetta paper, here is some background.

Measuring sea level is more complicated than pounding a stake into a beach. Ideally, global sea level would be a rotating oblate ellipsoid of polar radius of 6365.752 km and equatorial radius of 6378.137 km in absence of any other forces. Gravity distorts this ideal shape to make it lumpy.

There are daily and seasonal variations, and storm surges in addition to the oscillations mentioned above. There are tectonic events: is the ocean rising or is the land sinking? Also, extraction of groundwater near coasts may cause the land to sink and present an apparent rise in sea level. All these confounding factors can produce a local rate of sea level change very different from global rate of change.

post-glacial-sea-level-riseSince the end of the last glacial epoch, sea level has risen 120 meters (393 feet), about one meter per century. Sea level is still rising at the rate of 1- to 3mm per year, according to NOAA, about the thickness of one or two pennies.

As you can see from the figure, the rate of sea level rise has changed on broad time scales. Scafetta has found patterns of acceleration and deceleration of rise at much smaller time scales.

Scafetta studied six long-term tidal gauge records sited to represent all of the world’s oceans. He found the rate of sea level rise “…to be characterized by significant oscillations at the decadal and multidecadal scales up to about 110-year intervals. Within these scales both positive and negative accelerations are found if a record is sufficiently long. This result suggests that acceleration patterns in tide gauge records are mostly driven by the natural oscillations of the climate system. The volatility of the acceleration increases drastically at smaller scales such as at the bi-decadal ones.”

“Tide gauge accelerations oscillate significantly from positive to negative values mostly following the PDO, AMO and NAO oscillations. In particular, the influence of a large quasi 60–70 year natural oscillation is clearly demonstrated in these records.”

A conclusion from this paper has implications for climate model predictions: “at scales shorter than 100-years, the measured tide gauge accelerations are strongly driven by the natural oscillations of the climate system (e.g. PDO, AMO and NAO). At the smaller scales (e.g. at the decadal and bi-decadal scale) they are characterized by a large volatility due to significant decadal and bi-decadal climatic oscillations. Therefore, accelerations, as well as linear rates evaluated using a few decades of data (e.g. during the last 20-60 years) cannot be used for constructing reliable long-range projections of sea-level for the twenty first century.”

The cyclical nature of the rate of sea level rise, and its quite variable accelerations and decelerations at different time scales may explain why different researchers get different rate values. So, scary stories saying we are doomed because of acceleration in the rate of sea level rise, such as the ‘science fiction” stories linked below, should be taken with a grain of salt.

Reference: Scafetta, N., 2013, Multi-scale dynamical analysis (MSDA) of sea level records versus PDO, AMO, and NAO indexes, Climate Dynamics, DOI 10.1007/s00382-013-1771-3.

See the full paper here.

See also:

Science Fiction from the University of Arizona?

More science fiction from the University of Arizona

University of Arizona dances with sea level

Sea Level Rising?

Sea Level Rise in the South Pacific: None

Sea Level Rise Declining says EU

Obama parts the waters, sea level drops

Size matters in sea level studies

Sea level rising fast along American East Coast – or not

Global cooling predicted for the next 30 years

Dr. Norman Page says that “The earth is entering a cooling phase which is likely to last about 30 years and possibly longer.” See his detailed analysis here.

Page’s prediction is based on observation of the geologic record. He notes that there has been no net warming since 1997 even thought carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has risen 8.5%. Page says that atmospheric temperature is driven by sea surface temperature (SST) which is, itself, solar driven. The oceanic oscillations control the general climate. There is good correlation between solar cycles and SST, but note that because of the enthalpy and thermal inertia of the oceans, there is a 10 – 12 year lag between solar cycle troughs and global SSTs. This lag time definitely establishes cause and effect similar to the lag in carbon dioxide changes following temperature changes in the major glacial cycles as shown in ice cores The graph below shows the variations in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the major oceanic oscillation (the red line is actual measurement, the blue line is predictive modeling.) (Graph source here.)


 Page says than in the figure “an approximate 60 year cycle is obvious by inspection and this coincides well with the 30 year +/- positive (warm) and 30year +/- negative (cold) phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.” The graph “shows warming from about 1910 to 1940-45, cooling from then to about 1975, warming to about 2003-5 and cooling since then. Total warming during the 20th century was about 0.8 degrees C.” He also says that it is clear that we are entering the beginning of a 30-year cool phase of the PDO.

Page goes on to say:

“The major ice age climate cycles are controlled by the sun – earth orbital eccentricity, and the earth’s obliquity and precession. These cycles are approximately 100,000, 41,000 and 21,000 years in length respectively and are well documented in the ice core and geological record. It is useful to keep in mind that the warmest temperatures in the current interglacial occurred about 7500+/- years ago and the general trend is now a cooling towards the next ice age.”

“These long term cycles are modulated by quasi cyclic trends in solar activity which may be decadal, centennial, or millennial in length. Of particular interest in deciding where we are with regard to the solar cycles is the approximately 1000 +/- year cycle which produced successively the Roman Warm Period, the Dark Ages, the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age and the recent 20th century warming.”

These cycles are shown in the 2,000-year temperature reconstruction below (the white line is the smoothed curve):


 Page says that “A reasonable case can be made that the warming peaks of a 60 year PDO cycle and the 1000 year solar cycle coincided at 2000 +/- and we are likely on the cooling slope of both.”

For a broader view, the graph below shows a temperature reconstruction for the past 11,000 years:

CCIP fig1

 n his conclusion, Page says “Often the signal for a climate direction change is a see-saw effect between Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. The Arctic is still reflecting the peak in the warming trend with low summer ice values. The first indication of a cooling event is however the increase in Antarctic sea ice which has already occurred.” (See my post: The Arctic-Antarctic seesaw)

Page is not alone is his prediction. Two years ago I reported that NASA was also predicting a cooling period based on the same natural parameters. (See NASA Says Earth Is Entering A Cooling Period).

If this predicted cooling trend comes to pass, it will show, once again, that the forces of natural variation easily overcome the weak warming effect of carbon dioxide. And, by the way, if indeed the predicted cooling trend proceeds, atmospheric carbon dioxide will decrease because a cooler ocean can absorb more carbon dioxide.

This phase shift has some policy implications. It shows that curbing carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels is unnecessary and perhaps contraindicated. If you believe that such emissions do have a significant effect on global temperature, we should continue and perhaps even increase emissions to forestall or lessen the effect of the cooling trend lest we find ourselves in another “little ice age.”

More evidence that current warming is not unusual

In a previous postI reported research from Norwegian marine sediment cores and temperature proxies that showed that the current warming period was not only not unusual but also cooler than the Medieval and Roman warming periods.


Sejrup, H.P., Haflidason, H. and Andrews, J.T. 2011. A Holocene North Atlantic SST record and regional climate variability. Quaternary Science Reviews 30: 3181-3195.   Abstract here.  Their graph:


A commenter on the previous post dismissed the research saying it was for only one region and did not necessarily represent global temperature history.

Well, here is more research showing that the results found in Norway were similar to results found globally:


Bertler, N.A.N., Mayewski, P.A. and Carter, L. 2011. Cold conditions in Antarctica during the Little Ice Age — Implications for abrupt climate change mechanisms. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 308: 41-51.

From ice cores, the researchers were able to identify the temperature differences of the Medieval Warm Period (AD 1140 to 1287), the Little Ice Age (AD 1288 to 1807), and the Modern Era (AD 1808 to 2000). They found “the McMurdo Dry Valleys were 0.35°C warmer during the MWP than now, accompanied by warmer conditions in the Ross Sea.”


Liu Y, Cai Q F, Song H M, et al., 2011, Amplitudes, rates, periodicities and causes of temperature variations in the past 2485 years and future trends over the central-eastern Tibetan Plateau. Chinese Sci Bull, 56: 2986 2994, doi: 10.1007/s11434-011-4713-7.

These researchers show that the Medieval Warm period was at least as warm as the current period.  See my post on the paper here.


Hu, F.S., Ito, E., Brown, T.A., Curry, B.B. and Engstrom, D.R.  2001.  Pronounced climatic variations in Alaska during the last two millennia.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 98: 10,552-10,556.

Using sediment cores from Farewell Lake in the northwestern foothills of the Alaska Range, the researchers found that surface water temperatures during the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period were the same as those now.


Hong, B., Liu, C.-Q., Lin, Q.-H., Yasuyuki, S., Leng, X.-T., Wang, Y., Zhu, Y.-X. and Hong, Y.-T. 2009. Temperature evolution from the ä18O record of Hani peat, Northeast China, in the last 14000 years. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences 52: 952-964.

Using cores extracted from peat deposits in Northeast China, researchers used oxygen-18 analysis and concluded that the Medieval Warm Period in China peaked about 900 AD and was 1 C warmer than the current warm period.  They also found that “sudden cooling events, such as the Older Dryas, Inter-Allerod, Younger Dryas, and nine ice-rafted debris events of the North Atlantic are almost entirely reiterated in the temperature signals of Hani peat cellulose ä18O.”


Millar, C.I., King, J.C., Westfall, R.D., Alden, H.A. and Delany, D.L. 2006. Late Holocene forest dynamics, volcanism, and climate change at Whitewing Mountain and San Joaquin Ridge, Mono County, Sierra Nevada, CA, USA. Quaternary Research 66: 273-287.

Using temperature reconstruction from tree rings, the researchers concluded that the Medieval Warm Period in Nevada was “significantly warmer” (+3.2°C) than present.


Kaniewski, D., Van Campo, E., Paulissen, E., Weiss, H., Bakker, J., Rossignol, I. and Van Lerberghe, K. 2011. The medieval climate anomaly and the little Ice Age in coastal Syria inferred from pollen-derived palaeoclimatic patterns. Global and Planetary Change 78: 178-187.

Analyzing pollen contained in sediment cores from alluvial fans, the researchers found evidence that suggests “three peaks centered on ca. 1115, 1130 and 1170 cal yr AD suggest similar or warmer temperatures compared to AD 2000.”


Neukom, R., Luterbacher, J., Villalba, R., Kuttel, M., Frank, D., Jones, P.D., Grosjean, M., Wanner, H., Aravena, J.-C., Black, D.E., Christie, D.A., D’Arrigo, R., Lara, A., Morales, M., Soliz-Gamboa, C., Srur, A., Urritia, R. and von Gunten, L. 2011. Multiproxy summer and winter surface air temperature field reconstructions for southern South America covering the past centuries. Climate Dynamics 37: 35-51.

Using multiple temperature proxies, the researchers concluded the warmest decade of this Medieval Warm Period in Southern South America was AD 1079-1088, and that was about 0.17°C warmer than the peak warmth of the current warm period.


Holmgren, K., Tyson, P.D., Moberg, A. and Svanered, O.  2001.  A preliminary 3000-year regional temperature reconstruction for South Africa.  South African Journal of Science 97: 49-51.

These researchers deduced temperature variations from stalagmites in caves.  They estimate that the Little Ice Age between AD 1500 and 1800, was about 1°C colder than they are presently.  During the Medieval Warm Period at around AD 900 temperatures reached 2.5°C higher than at present.  Another exceptionally warm period was noted in the late fifteenth century, when temperatures rose more than 3°C above the current level.

The foregoing gives just a few examples showing that climate is cyclical and current temperatures are not unusual.  There is still no credible evidence that I am aware of that supports the contention that our carbon dioxide emissions are the major cause of recent warming.  For another overview see here.

In the current warm period, temperatures are increasingly artifacts of poor station siting that creates a warming bias (see In a study of U.S. stations it was found that “9 of every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited.”  Part of the problem is that many stations are in or near growing cities and suffer from the Urban Heat Island effect, i.e., during the day, the sun heats concrete and asphalt which then radiate heat at night making temperatures in the cities (and at the stations) warmer than rural areas.  And, there is also the problem of data manipulation by government agencies with an agenda.

For some additional perspective, the graph below shows global temperature as measured from satellites, beginning in 1979.  Although atmospheric carbon dioxide has been increasing, there does not seem to be a corresponding temperature response.  In the graph, temperatures before the strong El Nino event in 1998 show no trend.  Temperatures after 1998 also show no trend.  The difference is temperature levels before and after is attributed to shifts in global atmospheric cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Nino.


A 2485-year record shows current warming is a natural cycle

Chinese and Swedish researchers examined a 2,485-year record of tree ring data from the eastern Tibetan Plateau.  The researchers say:

The results showed that extreme climatic events on the Plateau, such as the Medieval Warm Period,  Little Ice Age and 20th Century Warming appeared synchronously with those in other places worldwide. The largest amplitude and rate of temperature change occurred during the Eastern Jin Event (343–425 AD), and not in the late 20th century. There were significant cycles of 1324 years, 800 years, 199 years, 110 years, and 2–3 years in the 2485-year temperature series. The 1324-year, 800-year, 199-year, and 110-year cycles are associated with solar activity, which greatly affects the Earth surface temperature. The long-term trends (>1000 years) of temperature were controlled by the millennium-scale cycle, and amplitudes were dominated by multi-century cycles. Moreover, cold intervals corresponded to sunspot minimums.

The graph below shows their temperature reconstruction and their prediction for the next 120 years.


The researchers say that there are few records long enough to recognize millennium-scale variations.  This particular record is well-correlated with seven other records in the northern hemisphere.

The researchers calculated the rate of temperature change for 10-year intervals.   They found that the highest rate was 0.77°C/decade between 362-390 AD. The next highest rate was 0.35°C/decade between 881–908 AD.  “In general, the calculations showed that the warming rate in the 20th century was not the highest in the past 2485 years.”

The global climatic system  is greatly affected by the millennium-scale cycles. There has been much geological evidence of millennium-scale cycles, from North America to Europe and from the Middle East to East Asia.

There is evidence worldwide indicating that millennium-scale cycles are the dominant factors for climatic fluctuation during the Holocene, and the exact periodicity of the millennium-scale cycle was modified as 1374 ± 502 years by Bond et al. The inducement mechanism of these cycles may be associated with solar activity, and perhaps, the inherent solar cycle.

The researchers say that “two century-scale cycles (199 years and 110 years) have dominantly affected the amplitude of the temperature variations.”  We experience temperature extremes through “constructive overlapping of multiple cycles” which, in the past 2,485 years appear to have produced 600-year cycles of general increases and decreases in temperature.


These tree-ring proxies agree with results of interpretations from ice cores, corals, speleothems, lacustrine deposits, and historical documents.  The authors say there is still uncertainty in climate change but solar activity appears to have had a great effect on the Tibetan Plateau. The implication is that 20th Century warming is not unprecedented in either rate or magnitude.  The authors say, “This moderate millennium-scale cycle [600 years] has lasted for such a long time that there is no reason for it to disappear in the last 2000 years.

The paper: Liu Y, Cai Q F, Song H M, et al., 2011, Amplitudes, rates, periodicities and causes of temperature variations in the past 2485 years and future trends over the central-eastern Tibetan Plateau. Chinese Sci Bull, 56: 2986 2994, doi: 10.1007/s11434-011-4713-7.

The full paper may be downloaded here.