sea level

Another Greenland melting scare

From the “it’s worse than we thought department”:

A new paper published in Science Advances claims that the amount of melting of coastal glaciers in eastern Greenland has been underestimated by about 20 gigatonnes per year. (Link to full paper titled “Geodetic measurements reveal similarities between post–Last Glacial Maximum and present-day mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet”) The paper does not mention global warming or climate change. The melting is due entirely to geologic processes. But the press manages to sound an alarm.

The New York Post translates the 20 gigatonnes figure to pounds to make it scarier sounding: “The new study, published in Science Advances, discovered that the island is losing 550 trillion pounds of ice a year — 40 trillion, and about 7.6 percent, more than scientists previously thought.”

The Post quotes a professor:

“It is pretty scary,” Michael Bevis, a professor at Ohio State University and co-author of the study, told the AP. “If you look at the last 15 years since we’ve been having these measurements, it’s clearly getting worse.” According to Bevis, the extra ice will add approximately 1/50th of an inch a decade to global sea level. So 1/50th of an inch per decade is scary?

An article from Climate Central (an alarmist site) begins with these paragraphs:

Rising temperatures are melting ice and sending it to the ocean, a process that is pushing sea levels higher and altering the landscape at both poles. The latest news comes from Greenland, where researchers have used high-tech satellite and GPS measurements to see how much mass the ice sheet is losing.

Their results, published this week in Science Advances, indicate that it’s melting faster than previous estimates, particularly in areas where the ice sheet comes in direct contact with the ocean. It’s a troubling finding for the future of coastal areas around the world.

Greenland hot spotThe claim that melting is due to rising temperatures is debunked by the Science Advances study itself. In the study, they show that isostatic rebound following the last glacial maximum is tilting the continent and causing east coast glaciers to flow faster into the sea. They also note that “The onset of increasing flow of the northeast Greenland ice stream (the largest flow feature of the ice sheet), for example, has been linked to a geothermal hot spot.”

As I note in my article Greenland surprises:

Ice-penetrating radar and drilling have led to some surprises in Greenland during the last few years. The continent is bowl-shaped, it has a massive canyon running down its middle, and it contains a large aquifer of liquid water beneath the ice. That means that the continental ice sheet is in no danger of slipping into the ocean as some have claimed.

Regardless of the cause of melting, is it “a troubling finding for the future of coastal areas around the world” as claimed by Climate Central?

According to calculations at the Watts Up With That blog, melting of 550 trillion pounds of ice would cause a sea level rise of 0.689 millimeters or 0.0271 inches per year. That additional 40 trillion pounds actually added 0.045 mm/yr to global sea levels. The total melt contributes to sea level rise of less than the thickness of a penny. Do you find that scary?

To put things in further perspective, consider this report:

“A considerable change of climate inexplicable at present to us must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been, during the last two years, greatly abated. 2000 square leagues [approximately 14,000 square miles] of ice with which the Greenland Seas between the latitudes of 74N and 80N have been hitherto covered, has in the last two years entirely disappeared.”

That report is an extract from a letter by the President of the Royal Society addressed to the British Admiralty, written in 1817 (Royal Society, London. Nov. 20, 1817. Minutes of Council, Vol. 8. pp.149-153).

Sea also:

The Sea Level Scam

The Sea Level Scam

Climate alarmists put forth scary scenarios saying that carbon dioxide induced global warming is causing unprecedented and accelerating sea level rise which will drown our coastal cities and wipe out South Pacific Islands, but observational evidence shows there is no reason for alarm.

Measuring sea level is more complicated than pounding a stake into a beach. Sea level and the rate of rise or fall are subject to daily and seasonal variations, storm surges, and effects from decadal to multi-decadal oscillations such as El Niño. For instance, the west-blowing equatorial trade winds can pile up an extra foot of water in the western Pacific compared to the eastern Pacific. There are also tectonic events: is the ocean rising or is the land sinking? Pumping groundwater causes soil compaction and hence sinking land. Another complication: isostatic rebound of North America is tipping the northeast coast into the sea. (For a more detailed explanation of glacial isostacy see here.)

Let’s start with the big picture.

Since the end of the last glacial epoch, global sea level has risen 120 meters (393 feet), about one meter per century. Most of that was the result of melting of continental ice sheets between 18,000 and 8,000 years ago. The rate of sea level rise has leveled off to about 1- to 3 millimeters per year, about the thickness of two pennies.

post-glacial-sea-level-rise

Several recent studies show what is happening now:

Larsen and Clark (2006) studied the rate of sea level rise for the past 6,000 years, based on geologic evidence and the historic record. The researchers found that there has been no acceleration of sea level rise in response to increased temperature or CO2 levels.

Holgate (2007), using data from worldwide coastal tidal gauge records, shows that the rate of sea level rise is cyclical, but decreasing over the period studied. Specifically, the mean rate of global sea level rise was “larger in the early part of the last century (2.03 ± 0.35 mm/yr 1904-1953), in comparison with the latter part (1.45 ± 0.34 mm/yr 1954-2003).”

Sea-level-Holgate_update_fig1

Satellite measurement of the rate of sea level rise is reported at 3.2±0.4 mm/yr versus Holgate’s value of 1.45 mm/yr. It just so happens that satellite measurement started at the bottom of a cycle, thereby giving a false impression of the overall rate of rise. Because the rate of sea level rise is cyclical, it is easy to cherry-pick time intervals to suit an agenda.

Holgate does not address possible causes of the rate cycle. However, Kolker and Hameed (2007), report “a major fraction of the variability and the trend in mean sea level at key sites along the Atlantic Ocean are driven by shifts in the position and intensity of the major atmospheric pressure centers that reside over the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores High and the Icelandic Low,” which they refer to as atmospheric centers of action. Apparent sea level is also affected by variability of storms, winds, floods, waves, shifts in major ocean currents, volcanically-induced ocean heat content variations, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, subsidence, uplift, tectonics, and freshwater fluxes.

Houston and Dean (2011) analyzed the records of 57 U.S. tidal gauges for the period 1930 to 2010. They found “almost a balance with 30 gauge records showing deceleration and 27 showing acceleration, clustering around 0.0 mm/y. The mean is a slight deceleration of -0.0014 mm/yr.

In more recent research, Scafetta (2013), 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 the Scafetta 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.”

About those South Pacific Islands:

You may recall several years ago much press about Tuvalu and other South Pacific islands being endangered by rising sea level. For an example of some of the hype, see my October, 2011, post: “University of Arizona Dances with Sea Level.”

The Australian government has been monitoring sea level on Pacific islands with modern instruments since 1992. In the case of Tuvalu, they state, “If the depression of the 1998 cyclone is ignored, there was no change is sea level at Tuvalu between 1994 and 2009: 14 years. (See report of studies by Vincent Gray here.)

Finally, new research by Kench et al. (2015) finds that these same South Pacific islands, rather than sinking beneath the waves, have in fact been growing. Here is the abstract from their paper:

“The geological stability and existence of low-lying atoll nations is threatened by sea-level rise and climate change. Funafuti Atoll, in the tropical Pacific Ocean, has experienced some of the highest rates of sea-level rise (~5.1 ± 0.7 mm/yr), totaling ~0.30 ± 0.04 m over the past 60 yr. We analyzed six time slices of shoreline position over the past 118 yr at 29 islands of Funafuti Atoll to determine their physical response to recent sea-level rise. Despite the magnitude of this rise, no islands have been lost, the majority have enlarged, and there has been a 7.3% increase in net island area over the past century (A.D. 1897–2013). There is no evidence of heightened erosion over the past half-century as sea-level rise accelerated. Reef islands in Funafuti continually adjust their size, shape, and position in response to variations in boundary conditions, including storms, sediment supply, as well as sea level. Results suggest a more optimistic prognosis for the habitability of atoll nations and demonstrate the importance of resolving recent rates and styles of island change to inform adaptation strategies.” Source

In other words, the slow rise of 1- to 2 mm per year in global sea level is an artifact of our current interglacial period. Local sea level rise or fall depends on local geology, the amount of groundwater pumping in coastal areas, and the cyclic weather patterns. It has nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions.

But be warned: “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.” -Will Durant

References;

Holgate, S.J. 2007. On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century. Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2006GL028492

Houston, J.R. and Dean, R.G., 2011. Sea-level acceleration based on U.S. tide gauges and extensions of previous global-gauge analyses. Journal of Coastal Research, 27(3), 409–417. West Palm Beach (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208. (Source)

Kench et al., 2015, Coral islands defy sea-level rise over the past century: Records from a central Pacific atoll, Geological Society of America, in Geology Magazine, March 2015. (Source)

Kolker, A.S. and Hameed, S. 2007. Meteorologically driven trends in sea level rise. Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2007GL031814

Larsen, C.E. and Clark, I. 2006. A search for scale in sea-level studies. Journal of Coastal Research 22: 788-800.

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.

Antarctic ice melt numbers in perspective

According to a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters, Antarctica is losing 159 billion metric tonnes ( 159 gigatonnes) of ice each year. On average West Antarctica lost 134 gigatonnes of ice, East Antarctica three gigatonnes, and the Antarctic Peninsula 23 gigatonnes in each year between 2010 and 2013 – a total loss of 159 gigatonnes each year. That number is based on measurements collected by the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite mission, which carries an altimeter specially designed for this task. At first, that sounds like a great amount of water added to the ocean.

So how big is 159 gigatonnes with respect to sea level rise? According to the paper, this melting of Antarctic ice can raise global sea level 0.45 millimeters per year. That’s less than half the thickness of a penny per year or 1.7 inches per century. Are you prepared?

The paper is discussed in more detail on WUWT. The discussion also links to conversion factors for units of water mass and volume, see here.

Just for reference from that second source:

How much does one gigatonne of melted ice (1 km³ of water) raise the oceans?
The oceans occupy 361 million square kilometers ( 361 x 106 km²) of the Earth’s surface.

If one cubic kilometer of water (i.e., one gigatonne of water) is spread evenly over the entire 361 million square kilomters, the thickness of the new layer of water will be given by:

1 km³ / 361 x 106 km² = 2.78 x 10-6 meters = 2.78 microns

Or, in terms of gigatonnes:

1 Gt x (1 km³/Gt) / 361 x 106 km² = 2.78 x 10-6 meters = 2.78 microns / Gt

That is, one cubic kilometer of water (i.e., one gigatonne of water) will add less than 3 millionths of a meter to the oceans!.

According to Wikipedia, Antarctica holds 26.5 million cubic kilometers of ice. Using the figures above, we can calculate that if the entire ice sheet on Antarctica melted, it could raise sea level by 73.7 meters or 241 feet. At the current rate of melting, that would take 161,000 years. The Earth would probably have gone through another glacial epoch and be in another interglacial by that time.

See also:
The “Unstoppable Collapse” of the West Antarctic ice sheet – the rest of the story

UPDATE: After I wrote the story above, I became aware of other studies. These other studies show that East Antarctica, which represents more than 90 percent of the area actually had a net gain of 49 Gt/yr of snow from 2003 to 2008. Another paper shows that from 2009 to 2011 heavy precipitation dumped 350 Gt of snow on East Antarctica. The ocean evaporation necessary to supply than moisture is equivalent to a decrease in global mean sea level at a rate of 0.32 mm/yr over this three-year period. See more details here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/23/climate-alarmists-make-major-blunder-in-reporting-antarctica-ice-loss-results/#more-110016

The “Unstoppable Collapse” of the West Antarctic ice sheet – the rest of the story

The mainstream media and the Arizona Daily Star are in their usual “gloom and doom” mode because a few glaciers in the Amundsen Sea of West Antarctica are flowing faster than they have been and hence calving ice into the sea. This glacial behavior has been known for some time. The current turmoil was precipitated by recent publication of two papers based on data collected between 1992 and 2011.  But even back in 1968, a paper by Ohio State University glaciologist John Mercer called the West Antarctic Ice Sheet a “uniquely vulnerable and unstable body of ice.” Mercer based his statement on geologic evidence that West Antarctica’s ice had changed considerably many, many millennia ago at times when the ice sheets of East Antarctica and Greenland had not.

Is it just coincidence that this story is being hyped now, closely following release of the latest National Climate Assessment Report by the Obama administration? Is this just an attempt at “climate diversion” away from other issues? (See: National Climate Assessment Report = Science Fiction and Politics). Anthony Watts has some comments and links to the science on his WUWT blog.

I have yet to see any of the mainstream media mention the fact that Antarctic sea ice is currently at or near an all-time high extent (see article here).

The “gloom and doom” part of the “collapse” story is speculation that glacial calving will cause an undue rise in sea level. Studies show, however, that this “unstoppable collapse” will take hundreds to thousands of years and might possibly cause a sea level rise of 1.5 feet per century. Does that worry you?

To put things in perspective, let’s look at some geography and geology.

First is a NASA illustration of the offending glaciers (colored red):

Glaciers of Amundsen Sea Antarctica

For me, that illustration does not give a good sense of how much area we are taking about, so here is a more general map. Compare the tiny area of the Amundsen Sea sector with the total of Antarctica, or even with the total of West Antarctica:

antarctica_amundsen_sea_sector-1

 

In the scheme of things, this is a very small area of West Antarctica that is “collapsing.”

I have some questions about the net effect of all this on sea level rise.

Glaciers move usually because more weight, i.e., snow, is piled onto the upper parts of the glacier and gravity causes it to flow. Were does the snow come from? Evaporation from the ocean which reduces sea level.

In West Antarctica, the glaciers are “grounded” below sea level and are therefore displacing ocean water. Since water as ice has more volume per weight than liquid water, melting of “grounded” ice should also decrease sea level.

Another NASA illustration shows that the bedrock in the entire area covered by these glaciers (brown in the illustration below) is below sea level.

West Antarctica bedrock  topography

 

Floating ice already displaces its weight with an equal weight of water so the net effective on sea level of melting floating ice is near zero (Archimedes’ principle).

Only ice/snow that was always above sea level could raise sea level once it melted into the sea. How much is that compared to the evaporated water which produced the ice/snow on the upper parts of the glacier in the first place? What is the mass balance?

The website www.antarcticglaciers.org discusses the mass balance of Antarctic ice in great detail.

Here is their illustration of what is going on; note that they show a below-sea-level basin that is being melted:

 Antarctica Pine island glacier

As to my question on mass balance, Antarcticglaciers predicts:

“Climate models predict that, for a generally warmer climate, snowfall will increase over Antarctica. Surface melt will increase around the more northerly Antarctic Peninsula, and dynamic changes such as increased ice discharge, ice-shelf collapse and grounding line recession, and marine ice-sheet instability are likely to offset any increases in precipitation. However, if no dynamical ice response is assumed, then increases in snowfall over the entire continent of 6-16% to 2100 AD and 8-25% to 2200 AD are likely to result in a drop in sea level of 20-43 mm in 2100 and 73-163 in 2200, compared with today. However, it is more likely that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will lose mass over the next century, with rapid coastal changes, increases in ice flow and ice-shelf collapse all likely. As a result of these complex expected changes, there are a number of uncertainties in past, present and future ice sheet mass balance.” (Emphasis added)

There is a great deal of uncertainty and the story will take several hundred to a thousand years to play out.

Ironically, the UN IPCC AR5 report says ““Projections of Antarctic SMB changes over the 21st century thus indicate a negative contribution to sea level because of the projected widespread increase in snowfall associated with warming air temperatures.” (Krinner et al., 2007; Uotila et al., 2007; Bracegirdle et al., 2008).” (13.4.4.1). So much for media hype.

END

A version of this post first appeared in the Arizona Daily Independent.

Climate change in perspective, a tutorial for policy makers

Climate change is a major issue of our times. Concern is affecting environmental, energy, and economic policy decisions. Many politicians are under the mistaken belief that legislation and regulation can significantly mold our climate to forestall any deviation from “normal” and save us from a perceived crisis. This post is intended as a primer for politicians so they can cut through the hype and compare real observational data against the flawed model prognostications.

The information below is gleaned from the scientific literature. The data show that the current warming is not unusual, but part of a natural cycle; that greenhouse gases, other than water vapor, are not significant drivers of climate; that human emissions of carbon dioxide are insignificant when compared to natural emissions of greenhouse gases; and that many predictions by climate modelers and hyped by the media are simply wrong. In spite of all the scary scenarios published, there is no physical evidence showing that human carbon dioxide emissions have a significant effect on global temperature. Carbon dioxide is vital to life on earth and current atmospheric levels are just barely above the minimum required for plant life. Political schemes to cut greenhouse gases will have no measurable effect on temperature but will greatly harm the economy by impeding energy production and use.

The Current Warm Period Is Not Unusual

The graph below, based on reconstruction from the geologic and historical records, shows that there have been several warm/cold cycles since the end of the last glacial epoch. The temperature during the Holocene Climate Optimum and Roman warm period was 3ºF to 10ºF warmer than today in many areas. This is warmer than the extreme scenarios of the IPCC. Clearly, current temperatures are neither unprecedented nor unusually warm. Life and civilization flourished during warm periods.

CCIP fig1

Looking at the broader geologic record, we see that there is little correlation between temperature and carbon dioxide.

CCIP fig 2

Note that there was an ice age at the end of the Ordovician Period when atmospheric CO2 was approximately 4,500 ppm, or more than 11 times the current level. Notice also that the “normal” temperature of this planet is 22̊C, or about 18̊F warmer than it is now.

Al Gore liked to show a graph of the Vostok ice cores from Antarctica which shows a correlation between temperatures and CO2.

CCIP fig 3

But what Gore didn’t tell you is that changes in temperature preceded changes in CO2 by 800 to 1,300 years.. That’s because temperature controls carbon dioxide solubility in the oceans.  Notice that the temperature cycles (the glacial epochs) occur in approximately 100,000-year intervals.  This coincides with the precession of the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the Sun.  (Can you think of anything that would make CO2 cycle this way if it were the driver rather than temperature?)

Why the Climate Models Are Wrong

The IPCC says that warming will produce more water vapor which will enhance greenhouse warming, a positive feedback. All their climate models are based on this assumption. Sounds reasonable except in the real world, it doesn’t happen. Increased water vapor produces more clouds which block the sun thereby inducing cooling, a negative feedback. For a more detailed explanation see my article “Carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect.” That article also shows why your carbon footprint doesn’t matter and why government policy to reduce CO2 emissions will be ineffective.

According to climate models, the rate of warming should increase by 200-300% with altitude in the tropics, peaking at around 10 kilometers – a characteristic “fingerprint” for greenhouse warming. However, measurements by weather balloons and satellites show the opposite result: no increasing temperature trend with altitude. In other words, the model-predicted “fingerprint” of anthropogenic, greenhouse warming is absent in nature. The computer-predicted signature of greenhouse warming trends should look like the graph on the left below, but according to measurements from satellites and radiosondes, the actual temperature trend is as depicted in the graph on the right.

CCIP fig 4

The models are demonstrably wrong as shown by Dr. Roy Spencer in his comparison of 73 model results versus reality, see his graph here and below.

Spencer models vs real temp

The atmosphere is not static; we have weather which tends to dissipate heat into space. According to real world measurements, the negative feedbacks overwhelm the theoretical positive feedback posited by the IPCC.

The greenhouse model is a simplified story that helps explain how our atmosphere works. However, the real world is very complicated and still not fully understood. Even global warming alarmist James Hansen, formerly head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, had this to say: “The forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change.” — James Hansen, “Climate forcings in the Industrial era”, PNAS, Vol. 95, Issue 22, 12753-12758, October 27, 1998.

And even the IPCC once admitted, “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible.” — Final chapter, Draft TAR 2000 (Third Assessment Report), IPCC.

If all that weren’t enough, a recent study published by the American Meteorological Society (here) found that individual climate models produced different results when run on different computers, even though the models contained the same coding and input data. And we base expensive policy decisions on this?

Human Contribution to Greenhouse Gases Is Insignificant:

Human carbon dioxide emissions are 3% to 5% of total carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and about 98% of all carbon dioxide emissions are reabsorbed through the carbon cycle. http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/1605/archive/gg04rpt/pdf/tbl3.pdf.

Using data from the Department of Energy and the IPCC we can calculate the impact of our carbon dioxide emissions.  The results of that calculation shows that if we stopped all U.S. emissions it could theoretically prevent a temperature rise of 0.003̊C per year. If every country totally stopped human emissions, we might forestall 0.01̊C of warming.  For the derivation of these numbers, see my post “Your carbon footprint doesn’t matter.”

Although Earth’s atmosphere does have a “greenhouse effect” and carbon dioxide does have a limited hypothetical capacity to warm the atmosphere, there is no physical evidence showing that human carbon dioxide emissions actually produce any significant warming.

The major greenhouse gas is water vapor which accounts for about 97% of the warming effect. The other 3% is attributed to carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs etc. Since carbon dioxide produces less than 3% of the greenhouse effect, and humans produce less than 5% of the carbon dioxide, human carbon dioxide emissions represent about one tenth of one percent of the total greenhouse effect and are therefore insignificant.

The Sun Is the Real Climate Driver

The real drivers of climate are the Sun’s insolation (light and heat), its magnetic flux, and the relative position and orientation of the Earth to the Sun.

There are three main positional variations of the Earth and Sun, called Milankovitch cycles: Orbital Eccentricity, Axial Obliquity (tilt), and Precession of the Equinoxes. These cycles affect the amount and location of sunlight impinging on the earth.

The variations in the Sun’s magnetic flux controls the amount of cosmic rays impinging on the atmosphere. Cosmic rays ionize the atmosphere and the ions form nuclei for cloud formation. Cloud cover has a great effect on global temperature, but this area is still poorly understood and not addressed in climate models.

Should We Be Concerned with Sea Level Rise?

Climate alarmists put forth scary scenarios saying that global warming is causing unprecedented sea level rise and the rise is accelerating. Well, don’t sell your beach-front property yet. Since the end of the last glacial epoch 15,000 years ago, sea level has risen 120 meters, about one meter per century as we entered the current interglacial period. But since about 7,000 years ago, sea level rise has greatly slowed. NOAA puts normal rise at 1 to 3mm per year, about the thickness of a penny. Surely we can deal with that.

Based on geologic evidence, there has been no acceleration of sea level rise in response to increased temperature or CO2 levels for the last 6,000 years. Another study based on worldwide coastal tidal gauge records, shows that the rate of sea level rise is decreasing. Specifically, the mean rate of global sea level rise was “larger in the early part of the 20th century (2.03 ± 0.35 mm/yr 1904-1953), in comparison with the latter part (1.45 ± 0.34 mm/yr 1954-2003).”

The other thing you should realize about the rate of sea level rise is that it is cyclical. The rate accelerates and decelerates on approximately 11-year cycles which suggests that it is driven by solar variation. (Source: Holgate, S.J. 2007. On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century. Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2006GL028492)

Ocean Acidification

We often hear that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will make the oceans too acidic and dissolve or otherwise harm carbonate-shelled marine fauna. These writers or reporters seem ignorant of the fact that marine fauna evolved when the atmospheric CO2 concentration was more than 10 times higher than the current level.

It has been estimated that current ocean pH is 0.1 pH unit less alkaline than it was in pre-industrial time, and some climate models predict a further decrease of 0.7 pH units by 2300. However, proxy reconstructions of ocean acidity, based on fossil and modern corals, show that ocean pH has oscillated between pH of 7.91 and 8.29 during the past 7,000 years. That is within the alkaline range (neutral is 7). That cyclic variation is nearly four times larger than the 0.1 decrease alarmists are whining about, and even if the model predicted decrease of 0.7 units occurs, the water will still be alkaline. Many studies show that corals and other marine life are able to adapt to the changing pH. The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has many articles and a large database addressing this issue here. They conclude there is no cause for alarm.

Extreme Weather

Storms, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes etc. happen, and although alarmists say that global warming is causing more of everything, the real data actually shows either a decline or no trend. See the graphs on Anthony Watts’ extreme weather page here. Also look at his U.S. climate history page here.

Problems with Surface Temperature Data

We are always hearing or reading proclamations that we just had the hottest week, month, year since…(it was cooler). Official surface temperature records have been corrupted by deliberate manipulation, by siting deficiencies, and by ignoring inconvenient data.

Meteorologist Anthony Watts documents many of these problems in a paper published last year. For an introduction and links to the paper see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/29/press-release-2/
I will give a local example of temperatures being influenced by the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI). The graph below shows the temperature records of Tucson and Tombstone from about 1885 to 2005. Both graphs show the warming from the “Little Ice Age” which ended about 1850. But the temperature record is very different since about 1900. Tucson shows warming from the UHI, but Tombstone shows a fairly constant temperature. Does the carbon dioxide induced greenhouse effect work only in Cities?

Tucson-tombstone mean temp

Conclusion

The basic conclusion from these data is that carbon dioxide has little effect on climate and all attempts to control carbon dioxide will be a futile exercise in climate control. All the dire predictions are based on flawed computer models. Carbon dioxide is a phantom menace.

No researchers nor the IPCC have presented any physical or observational evidence that CO2 is a significant driver of temperature.

Climate models are complex mathematical constructs. But the atmosphere is even more complex, so modelers must ignore many variables such as Sun-Earth relationships and clouds, in favor of a few basic parameters. The fundamental assumption of climate models is that changes in CO2 concentration drive temperature change, but evidence from geology and astronomy show that the relationship is just the opposite, temperature change drives CO2 concentration.

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken

Climate Change Reconsidered II – A major new report on the state of the climate

Cover-CCR-II-117x150Climate Change Reconsidered II (CCR-II) is an independent, comprehensive, and authoritative report on the current state of climate science. It is produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international network of climate scientists sponsored by three nonprofit organizations: the Science and Environmental Policy Project, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, and The Heartland Institute.

NIPCC’s basic conclusion: “NIPCC’s conclusion, drawn from its extensive review of the scientific evidence, is that the greenhouse gas-induced global climate signal is so small as to be embedded within the background variability of the natural climate system and is not dangerous.”

CCR-II consists of three parts: a Summary for Policy Makers (22 pages) and CCR-II Physical Science (Ca. 1,018 pages, 20Mb) are available for free download.  The third part, titled Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities, is expected to be released in March, 2014.

Approximately 40 scientists are participating as authors, contributors, or reviewers. Lead authors are Dr. Craig D. Idso, a geologist and founder and current chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change; Dr. Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist and environmental scientist and formerly professor and head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University (Australia); and Dr. S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist formerly a professor at the University of Virginia and currently director of the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

CCR-II cites more than 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers to show that the IPCC has ignored or misinterpreted much of the research that challenges the need for carbon dioxide controls. In other words, the NIPCC report demonstrates that the science being relied upon by governments to create multi-billion dollar policies is almost certainly wrong.

What follows are excerpts of the key findings from the Executive Summary (you can read a more extensive list of findings from the executive summary here, about five pages).

• Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is a mild greenhouse gas that exerts a diminishing warming effect as its concentration increases.

• Doubling the concentration of atmospheric CO2 from its pre-industrial level, in the absence of other forcings and feedbacks, would likely cause a warming of ~0.3 to 1.1°C, almost 50% of which must already have occurred.

• A few tenths of a degree of additional warming, should it occur, would not represent a climate crisis.

• Model outputs published in successive IPCC reports since 1990 project a doubling of CO2 could cause warming of up to 6°C by 2100. Instead, global warming ceased around the end of the twentieth century and was followed (since 1997) by 16 years of stable temperature.

• Over recent geological time, Earth’s temperature has fluctuated naturally between about +4°C and -6°C with respect to twentieth century temperature. A warming of 2°C above today, should it occur, falls within the bounds of natural variability.

• Though a future warming of 2°C would cause geographically varied ecological responses, no evidence exists that those changes would be net harmful to the global environment or to human well-being.

• At the current level of ~400 ppm we still live in a CO2-starved world. Atmospheric levels 15 times greater existed during the Cambrian Period (about 550 million years ago) without known adverse effects.

• The overall warming since about 1860 corresponds to a recovery from the Little Ice Age modulated by natural multidecadal cycles driven by ocean-atmosphere oscillations, or by solar variations at the de Vries (~208 year) and Gleissberg (~80 year) and shorter periodicities.

• Earth has not warmed significantly for the past 16 years despite an 8% increase in atmospheric CO2, which represents 34% of all extra CO2 added to the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution.

• CO2 is a vital nutrient used by plants in photosynthesis. Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere “greens” the planet and helps feed the growing human population.

• No close correlation exists between temperature variation over the past 150 years and human-related CO2 emissions. The parallelism of temperature and CO2 increase between about 1980 and 2000 AD could be due to chance and does not necessarily indicate causation.

• The causes of historic global warming remain uncertain, but significant correlations exist between climate patterning and multidecadal variation and solar activity over the past few hundred years.

• Forward projections of solar cyclicity imply the next few decades may be marked by global cooling rather than warming, despite continuing CO2 emissions.

To review the links:

CCR-II Physical Science full report

Summary for Policy Makers

Extracted Executive Summary

Republican critical thinking on climate change

Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee have issued a 21-page Minority Report entitled Critical Thinking on Climate Change wherein they question the lack of evidence to support the Obama administration’s agenda on climate regulation.

“The EPW Minority report analyzes significant predictions and claims made by climate change scientists and activists over the last several decades regarding global warming, and then compares those predictions and claims to the most recent science. This report provides an opportunity to think critically and asks important questions about the impacts, policies and motivations related to climate change. The key sections examine the 15-year break in global warming not predicted by the models, the rate of sea level rise, extreme weather events, and the impact that unilateral regulatory action will have on the economy.”

Among the specific questions the report asks are these:

“If the computer models and predictions have been inaccurate, why is our federal government relying on these models to take unilateral action?”  And the computer models have been very inaccurate, see:More evidence that climate models are wrong.

“If global warming has been ‘worse than predicted,’ why won’t the federal government provide the data supporting this claim?”  This refers in part to the refusal by the EPA to provide data to justify their regulations.

“Given that many of these models predicted warming trends well before China surpassed the United States as the largest GHG emitter, and given the fact that emissions continue to grow at a pace beyond what was originally incorporated into the models, shouldn’t the warming be far worse than what was predicted in the worst case scenarios rather than well below predictions?”

“If the present rate of sea level rise would put the world on pace to see an increase of less than 7 inches by the end of the century, then where are the data sets the IPCC and other advocates use to come up with estimates that are in feet and/or meters?”

For background see: Sea Level Rising? and Rate of sea level rise is controlled by natural oscillations

“If empirical evidence indicates that the rate of sea level rise is decreasing, how does the IPCC claim that there definitively is a strong correlation between sea level rise and CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere?  Doesn’t the science tend to indicate that there is a lack of correlation?”

“When we are unable to predict extreme weather events, and empirical evidence does not show that extreme weather events are increasing, why would some scientists/activists claim that extreme weather events are the product of human activity?”

“Did extreme weather events begin with the advent of the internal combustion engine, or does historical and geological evidence exist indicating extreme weather events have been occurring for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years?” See:

Media pawns in IPCC extreme weather hype

“Given the dynamic nature of our climate and the factors well outside of human … including lack of technology to govern these factors, is it possible to control and stop climate change through government regulations?”

This report is a political document, but then “climate science” is mostly political.  The report asks questions that should be answered before any regulations affecting our energy and electricity generation are promulgated.

Greenland ice melt due to geothermal heat flux

Greenland-basal-ice-temps-300x269The Greenland ice sheet loses about 227 gigatonnes of ice per year and contributes about 0.7 millimeters to the currently observed mean sea level change of about 3 mm per year.  New research from the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, claims that “The Greenland ice sheet is melting from below, caused by a high heat flow from the mantle into the lithosphere.”  See press release here, and an enlargement of the graphic here.

The melting is quite variable spatially and reflects the relatively thin crust under Greenland. “The Greenland lithosphere is 2.8 to 1.7 billion years old and is only about 70 to 80 kilometers thick under Central Greenland.” Climate models fail to take this phenomenon into effect.

The German researchers say, “We have run the model over a simulated period of three million years, and taken into account measurements from ice cores and independent magnetic and seismic data. Our model calculations are in good agreement with the measurements. Both the thickness of the ice sheet as well as the temperature at its base are depicted very accurately.”

“The temperature at the base of the ice, and therefore the current dynamics of the Greenland ice sheet is the result of the interaction between the heat flow from the earth’s interior and the temperature changes associated with glacial cycles.”

Citation: Petrunin, A. G., Rogozhina, I., Vaughan, A. P. M., Kukkonen, I. T., Kaban, M. K., Koulakov, I. & Thomas, M., “Heat flux variations beneath central Greenland’s ice due to anomalously thin lithosphere”, Advance Online Publication, Nature Geoscience, 11. 08. 2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1898)

See also:

Greenland “melting” and media hype

The Arctic-Antarctic seesaw

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

University of Arizona dances with sea level

Tomorrow the University of Arizona will present some political theater.  In the evening, UA presents will feature a troupe from several South Pacific islands in a program titled  “Water is Rising.”  Preceding that on Friday afternoon is a discussion led by the UofA  Institute of the Environment titled “Vanishing Islands: Culture and Climate Change.” (See article here.)

It is unfortunate that what will probably be an entertaining evening of song and dance is being used as political propaganda posing Pacific islanders as victims of global warming-caused sea level rise that will inundate their homes.  Such propaganda is not new.  Back in 2009, Members of the Maldives’ Cabinet donned scuba gear and held a meeting under water in a publicity stunt about sea level rise.

The UA’s Institute of the Environment has also, in the past, issued alarmist articles about sea level rise flooding low-lying coastlines, see Science Fiction from the University of Arizona.

If you decide to go to the afternoon discussion, here are a few things you should know. Auckland University Professor Paul Kench has measured 27 islands where local sea levels have risen 120mm – an average of 2mm a year – over the past 60 years, and found that just four had diminished in size, the remaining 23 had either stayed the same or grown bigger, according to the research published in a scientific journal, Global and Planetary Change.

The Australian government has been monitoring sea level on Pacific islands with modern instruments since 1992.   In the case of Tuvalu, they state, “If   the   depression   of   the   1998   cyclone   is   ignored,  there   was   no   change   in   sea   level   at   Tuvalu between 1994 and 2009: 14 years. The recent slight fall would probably be related to the recent earthquake.”

Here is the Australian record of sea level for Tuvalu.  Other South Pacific islands show a similar record.

Tuvalu-sea-level

See also:

Sea Level Rising?

Sea Level Rise Declining says EU

Obama parts the waters, sea level drops

Size matters in sea level studies