Were there Signs of Cooling? Yes, There Were

Earliest snowfall in South Dakota history - just another reason not to sell your coat. Best book about climate change.

Earliest snowfall in South Dakota history – just another reason not to sell your coat.

South Dakota’s earliest-ever recorded snowfall today is the kind of lovely weather morsel that both sides of the climate debate have been feasting on for decades.

“It’s hot!” one side yells.

“It’s cold!” the other side yells.

“It’s getting hotter!” the warm side yells.

“It’s getting colder!” the cool side yells.

During all this time, and all this debate, during the feasting on individual weather events like today’s, it has become a commonplace that those arguing that manmade global warming is a clear and present danger are allowed – by the media, most of the populous, and by themselves – to point to individual weather events as proof that the heat they’re so concerned with is swamping the system.

And conversely it’s a commonplace that those arguing that the planet is demonstrably within historic bounds, climate-wise, are not allowed – by the media, most of the populous, and sometimes even by themselves – to point to individual weather events to show that heat is not swamping the system.

Certainly, when it comes to taxpayer-funded media outlets like NPR and PBS, not to mention the newspapers of record for our country (The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post), the traditional big-three television networks’ news programs, and nearly every university in the country, the conviction is there that only fools and those who are corrupt would ever argue on the side of skepticism about global warming.

Most people who follow climate closely wouldn’t quibble with any of that.

Well, if the solar physicists, oceanographers, geologists, and meteorologists who not only dispute catastrophic global warming but argue that we’re on the verge of some form – presumably mild – of global cooling are right, the question will emerge:

Were there signs of the cooling before it took place?

The answer to that question will be: Yes, there were. Here are some of them:

  • Steadily increasing Antarctic sea ice from 1979 to present
  • Cooling temperatures at the South Pole for the past 50 years
  • Increased winter snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere during the last decade
  • A dramatic increase in wintry weather in the UK during the past decade
  • Frozen water mains bursting in northern Michigan during the 2013-’14 winter
  • Snow in Baghdad
  • Snow in Cairo
  • The U.S. electric grid very nearly failing during winter 2013-’14 during the polar vortex
  • The Great Lakes being frozen more deeply and longer than ever recorded
  • A pause in global warming of 17 years, going on 18 years, according to NASA satellite measurement
  • And, finally, today’s earliest-ever snow in South Dakota

Do these constitute proof of global cooling as of September 11, 2014? Absolutely not!

What they will constitute, if the cooling indeed materializes, are signs that could have been noticed to indicate that cooling was a possibility, if open-mindedness and independent thinking had been allowed, let alone encouraged, by the scientific, journalistic, and political establishment of the United States, the United Kingdom, and many (though not all) countries of the world.

Time will tell.

Posted in best book about global warming, best book on climate change, global cooling, global warming, south dakota snow | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

White House desk made from ship used in Franklin search

A fascinating side story, that of the Resolute desk, from the best book on climate change.

Clockwise from left: JFK Jr. plays while his father works; Obama makes a call; Caroline Kennedy plays on the Resolute desk.

With today’s announcement that one of the two ships used by Sir John Franklin in his ill-fated quest to navigate the Northwest Passage in 1845 has been located, more people may come to learn of a fascinating side story.

That story has to do with the fact that the primary desk used by the President of the United States comes from ship timbers in one of the vessels sent by the British to search for Franklin and his crew.

Most of the search trips merely compounded the tragedy of the Franklin Expedition, but not the one whose timbers would eventually be used for what is now called the Resolute desk. It’s a story that I relate in my book:

Not all of the Franklin-rescuing trips ended in tragedy. The best-known of the many individual ships, British and American, to seek the fate of, or potentially rescue, the Franklin expedition was the Resolute, captained by Henry Kellett. Part of a four-ship flotilla led by Edward Belcher, Kellett’s ship became frozen in sea ice deep in the Canadian Archipelago in the fall of 1852, remaining trapped for two winters. When the ice showed no sign of releasing his ship, Kellett led his men on sleds to another of the expedition’s ships that was bound fast. Captain Belcher, in the end, decided that all hands should be transferred to the only ship that had managed to find open water. The decision to abandon Resolute led to a court martial in which both captains were acquitted.

As it turned out, moving pack ice carried the abandoned ship 1,200 miles, from Dealy Island down into Davis Strait, between Baffin Island and Greenland. It was there that the crew of an American whaler, George Henry, noted it. The Americans were able to free Resolute, re-rig it, and sail it to New London, Connecticut. Although the British waived all rights to the ship, an American merchant, Henry Grinnell, convinced the U.S. government to restore Resolute to immaculate condition and sail it back to England as a friendship gesture. The ship was presented to Queen Victoria at a ceremony held in Cowes harbor on the Island of Wight on December 17, 1856. A couple of decades later, the British government had a desk made from the timbers of the by-then decommissioned Resolute and presented that desk in 1880 to President Rutherford Hayes. It has been the principal desk used by U.S. presidents in the Oval Office ever since.

While we like to imagine that the efforts to exploit Arctic waters are somehow “new,” I learned while researching Don’t Sell Your Coat that the Arctic has been navigated, historically, far more than it is fashionable to believe.

The Resolute desk is proof of the longstanding western obsession with the Arctic and a literal relic of a fascinating piece of history between the United States and Britain.

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Antarctic sea ice hits second all-time record in a week

A graph of the latest all-time record of Southern Hemisphere sea ice area, expressed as an anomaly, courtesy of The Cryosphere Today.

A graph of the latest all-time record of Southern Hemisphere sea ice area, expressed as an anomaly, courtesy of The Cryosphere Today.

Antarctic sea ice has hit its second all-time record maximum this week. The new record is 2.112 million square kilometers above normal. Until the weekend just past, the previous record had been 1.840 million square kilometers above normal, a mark hit on December 20, 2007, as I reported here, and also covered in my book.

Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, responded to e-mail questions and also spoke by telephone about the new record sea ice growth in the Southern Hemisphere, indicating that, somewhat counter-intuitively, the sea ice growth was specifically due to global warming.

Serreze

Serreze

“The primary reason for this is the nature of the circulation of the Southern Ocean  – water heated in high southern latitudes is carried equatorward, to be replaced by colder waters upwelling from below, which inhibits ice loss,” Serreze wrote in an e-mail. “Upon this natural oceanic thermostat, one will see the effects of natural climate variations, [the rise] appears to be best explained by shifts in atmospheric circulation although a number of other factors are also likely involved.”

There was one part of his response that was hard for me to understand. What would heat the water at high latitudes, those closest to the South Pole?   (I also didn’t understand why he was talking about ice loss being inhibited when what was happening was the record growth of ice.)

Over the phone, I asked Serreze if he could clarify what was heating the water. His full response is below:

What we’re talking about is water that is 60 degrees south and more southerly than that, and so the basic thing is you have got surrounding the Antarctic continent a band of fairly strong and somewhat steady west-east winds, which they call the Roaring 40s, but then you’ve got this thing called the coriolis force, which wants to turn things to the left. What happens is that water at the high latitudes, what happens is that as we heat that water, you set up what’s called an Ekman drift, which at the surface transports that water from the high southern latitudes toward the equator.

What happens is you have to set up a continuity that has to occur so that what happens is that there’s an upwelling of cold waters from below, there’s a whole circulation loop where water sinks in the lower southern latitudes, then there’s a return flow that brings the same amount of mass to the higher latitudes. 

Basically, what happens is that in the Arctic you can warm that surface water up and it doesn’t get transported away. It stays there, and it helps melt more ice, but in the Antarctic, the water gets carried away. 

I thanked Serreze for his response but told him that I still didn’t know what heated the water at high latitudes. Was it, simply, global warming?

“Exactly!” he said.

“How many degrees is the water heated, before it is transported toward the equator?” I asked.

“I don’t have data on that,” Serreze said. He indicated that Marika Holland, a sea ice specialist and climate modeler at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, would possibly have some data as well as, perhaps, a fuller description of the mechanism warming the water nearest Antarctica and the associated growth of sea ice.

Holland did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Gavin Schmidt, director of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

 

 

Posted in Antarctic sea ice, Antarctica, best book on climate change, best book on global warming, don't sell your coat, Gavin Schmidt, global warming, Marika Holland, Mark Serreze, Record sea ice, Southern Hemisphere sea ice | Tagged , | 137 Comments

Antarctica sets new record for sea ice

Antarctic sea ice has set a new all-time record maximum over the weekend of June 28-29, 2014.

Antarctic sea ice has set a new all-time record maximum over the weekend of June 28-29, 2014.

The sea ice surrounding Antarctica, which, as I reported in my book, has been steadily increasing throughout the period of satellite measurement that began in 1979, has hit a new all-time record high for areal coverage.

The new record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice, the ice encircling the southernmost continent, is 2.074 million square kilometers and was posted for the first time by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s The Cryosphere Today early Sunday morning.

It was not immediately apparent whether the record had occurred on Friday or Saturday. Requests for comment to Bill Chapman, who runs The Cryosphere Today, were not immediately returned.

The previous record anomaly for Southern Hemisphere sea ice area was 1.840 million square kilometers and occurred on December 20, 2007. Continue reading

Posted in global warming, Climate change, sea ice, don't sell your coat, harold ambler, computer models, Antarctic sea ice, walt meier | Tagged , , , , , , | 38 Comments

I am a nature-loving person

As a surfer, my love of nature is at the center of my life.

As a surfer, my love of nature is at the center of my life.

If you’ve read my book on climate change, then you know that the first piece of writing of mine to gather any attention was a letter I penned in fourth grade to the prime minister of Japan, begging his country to desist from whale hunting.

If you had managed to read every word I’ve written since then, you would come away with the inevitable and accurate impression that I love the planet I was born on, including and especially the oceans girdling it and the skies above it.

If you had watched me, somehow, throughout the course of my life, you would have to notice, as well, that it makes me happy to pick up trash, and that I rejoice when I witness environmental success stories, such as the marked ecological improvement of America’s waterways during the last two generations.

Thus, for those with minds disposed to contemplation and hearts disposed to compassion, you can imagine how painful it has been to be typed as a hateful, anti-environment tool of Big Oil or some other right-wing power.

I am no one’s tool.

I report on the scientists who have a different view on climate than James Hansen and Michael Mann, and there are far more such scientists than most people have any idea of — far more. I did not create skeptical climate science. I did not fabricate one iota of what I have reported on. And I have not been made a nature hater by reporting on it, either.

I feed birds, stare at the sky a lot, surf, and generally adore creation.

I love this Earth. And I’m going to love it forever.

Posted in Climate change, climate skeptic, Harold Ambler climate author, Harold Ambler environmentalist, nature lover, skeptical environmentalist | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Apology accepted: an update

Needlessly expensive electric power is a beautiful site to some. This Somers, Connecticut solar "farm" is a case in point.

Needlessly expensive electric power is a beautiful sight to some. This Somers, Connecticut solar “farm” is a case in point.

In 2009, a few weeks before Obama was inaugurated for his first term in the White House, I wrote this in The Huffington Post: “You are probably wondering whether President-elect Obama owes the world an apology for his actions regarding global warming. The answer is, not yet.”

My, how times have changed. Since I wrote those naïve words, not only have the president and I both grown considerably grayer, but he has done far more to join Al Gore in the ranks of destructive climate charlatans than most people realize. He decided, unilaterally, to make the creation of coal-fired power plants so expensive as to be non-starters, never worrying for a moment what jacked-up energy prices would do to working people and those on fixed incomes. For working people, pricy electricity makes life more stressful, palpably so. When $50 one way or the other can destroy your monthly budget, you notice when feel-good energy production costs your family – your kids – a pair of sneakers they needed two months ago or a prescription co-pay that you simply have to come up with.

It’s personal at that point.

Progressives love to talk about taking care of the little guy. And so long as the little guy is driving a Prius and making $70,000 a year at a union job, they really do. If he’s driving a third-hand pickup truck 17 miles each way to his second job at the convenience store, then progressives warm fuzzies don’t really enter the equation. Oh, well. Let them eat Prius cake, or something to that effect.

Obama has consistently talked the talk, throughout his four years in office, and as his second term gets under way in earnest, he’s also walking the walk – to green la-la-land, that is. Gorgeous New England farms covered with solar panels that belong in the desert Southwest (if they belong anywhere, which they don’t), domestically produced coal getting shipped to China (where it’s burned less cleanly than at home), thousands of acres of near-shore Atlantic waters littered with obtrusive, bird-killing windmills requiring redundant power generation systems because they’re unreliable (particularly when power is most needed), these are a few of my favorite things. Oh, no, wait. These are a few of President Obama’s favorite things. And guess what else? The dog is about to bite, and you’re about to be feeling sad.

Why? Because you are caught up in a glorious swindle, an impeccable lie, a howler. This is the notion that by walking away from conventional power generation as an individual and a part of your nation, you are “greening” the planet, or saving humanity, or some such. Once again, what you’re really doing is killing people needlessly, but this is at most an irrelevant detail, if you really, deeply love Mother Earth and know little or nothing about Earth’s climate history.

So, yeah, President Obama owes me an apology for his climate shenanigans at this point, just as he owes one to you. Does he think he’s pulling a fast one on the American people? I have no way of knowing that. And I don’t particularly care. What I do I care about are the president’s actions. And on climate, particularly, his actions are destructive.

Posted in Barack Obama, fuel poverty, solar power | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

NOAA map of February temperatures less than accurate?

NOAA's map of February temperatures across the United States got New England all wrong. It wasn't "near normal," at all, as the people of the region can well attest. Oh, and the data, too: Hartford, CT, as an example was actually 5.1 degrees below normal.

NOAA’s map of February temperatures across the United States got New England all wrong. It wasn’t “near normal,” at all, as the people of the region can well attest. Oh, and the data, too: Hartford, CT, as an example was actually 5.1 degrees below normal.

 

 

 

 

(Update two: Thanks to Tamino for the correction. Boston’s mean was warmer and Hartford’s colder than I had originally. I have updated the numbers. See bottom of post for first update.)

As the map above shows, NOAA seems to have struggled in creating a temperature map that accurately conveys what New Englanders recently experienced: a frigid February. Hartford was 5.5 degrees below normal for the month; Boston was 2.7 degrees below normal. Providence was 3.5 degrees below normal for the month. And yet all three locations fall within the “near normal” portion of NOAA’s map. What’s up with that?

Continue reading

Posted in February temperature 2014, NOAA, NWS | Tagged , , , | 44 Comments

Talking About the Weather With Joe D’Aleo

Joe D'Aleo has been at the center of American meteorology throughout his career.

Joe D’Aleo has been at the center of American meteorology throughout his career.

Joe D’Aleo has been at the center of American meteorology throughout his 40-year career. He was a co-founder and first director of meteorology at The Weather Channel. Later he was content manager and “Dr. Dewpoint” for Intellicast.com. He was a college professor of meteorology for six years at Lyndon State College, and has authored many peer-reviewed papers. While there, he inaugurated the Northeast Storm Conference, now in its 39th year. Currently, he is co-chief meteorologist at WeatherBell Analytics.

TATW: If you were speaking to a 10-year-old child curious about meteorology, what would be the most vital idea to leave the child with?

D’ALEO: First of all, it is a wondrous world in which we live, and weather affects our lives every day in every way. There is great majesty in big storms or a beautiful sunrise or sunset. But there are benefits regardless of the career chosen to pay attention to the weather and its effects on you business, and making the right, sometimes life-or-death, decisions about if, where, and when you go. Continue reading

Posted in joe d'aleo, the weather channel, weather | Tagged , ,

Talking about Climate with John Christy

John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Photo courtesy of The Huntsville Times.

John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Photo courtesy of The Huntsville Times.

John Christy is a climate scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Along with Roy Spencer, he developed  the first satellite temperature record of the Earth. Skeptical about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, he has been invited to speak before Congress several times.  He is the director of the Earth System Science Center at UAH.

TATW: What would be the single piece of information that you would convey to people who have strong opinions about climate and little knowledge? Continue reading

Posted in climatology, John Christy, UAH temperature | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Cue the Emperor of the North

Skim sea ice reforms on Greenwich Cove, January 21, 2013.

Skim sea ice re-forms on Greenwich Cove, January 21, 2013.

I’m falling in love with the cove.

Part of that is recognizing that, at least at present, I’m better off walking than running. I’m capable of the 2-mile jog past the water that I did last year forty or fifty times. But it meant I didn’t get a chance to drink in the cove’s wonders as I have more recently. Continue reading

Posted in cove, Greenwich Cove, sea ice, swans | Tagged , , ,