Antarctica – warming, ice melting – not yet

I thought it might be time for an update on this.

SMH_antarctica_headline

Earlier this year we had the big news that even though everything else says otherwise, the statistical wizards of Steig et al (with a cameo appearance by stat-stickster Michael Mann) managed to make Antarctica show a warming trend.

At left here’s the headline from the Sydney Morning Herald January 20th 2009, introducing Steig’s results.

Gosh. This new warm picture proves it. Right? Colors don’t lie. They quote Dr. Steig who says:

“The thing you hear all the time is that Antarctica is cooling. But it’s more complex than that,” Professor Steig said. “Antarctica isn’t warming at the same rate everywhere and, while some areas have been cooling for a long time, the evidence shows the continent as a whole is getting warmer.”

Yes it is more complex than that. A part of that complex story is emerging this month. Right about the time when things should start warming up in Antarctica due to their onset of spring, it seems to be stalled according to one scientist on the ground there who writes ICE STORIES: dispatches from polar scientists (emphasis mine):

MCMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA– Wednesday, September 16, 2009. It has been a slow, and sometimes frustrating, effort to get our first successful science flight of the project, but we did succeed last night. Before discussing that flight I’d like to write about some of the hurdles we have had to overcome to get to this point.

The first obstacle, and the one least in our control, was the weather. The Aerosonde unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been flown in temperatures as cold as -30 degrees C (-22 deg F), and this was the intended minimum operating temperature for this project.

Prior to coming to Antarctica one of the members of my research group, Shelley Knuth, analyzed 14 years of automatic weather station data from a weather station located at the Pegasus runway that we are using for our UAV flights.

Based on her analysis the temperature at Pegasus is above -30 degrees C for approximately 50% of the time in September, and is below -40 degrees C (which is also -40 degrees F) only 9% of the time in September on average. Of course the weather for any given month rarely follows the average, and this September has been a colder than average September, with most days up until the past few days having temperatures below -30 degrees C at Pegasus, and many days having temperatures below -40 degrees C. This made our attempts to fly the Aerosondes very difficult.

Yes, yes, I know It’s weather, not climate. Hold the caterwauling. But please, also have a look at the NSIDC graph of sea ice for Antarctica. Sea ice forms around the warmer periphery of the continent, not in the cold continental center where Amundsen-Scott base is located. There’s quite the uptick in Antarctic sea ice when the slope should begin heading downward:

click for larger image

click for larger image

While the uptick now is interesting, the real news is the change in extent. Quite a difference from 2008, about 1 million square kilometers more than this time last year, and well above average. The gain in Antarctica extent this year is 2 times that of the gain in the Arctic at 500,000 square kilometers.

Since the wisdom in the press headline is that “Antarctica is melting – sell the beach house”, but we see Antarctic ice increasing, one can only conclude that like Steigs upside down thermometers, we must also have upside down ice sensors, and the ice is actually less than last year. I’m sure somebody can prove that statistically.

Or, the headlines could just be bullpuckey from the press. Which is it? Inquiring minds want to know. If you need a look a how the media spins the melt season in Antarctica, look no further than this CBS News report from Scott Pelley.

Just for fun; a couple of weather forecasts from Weather Underground. Looks like they may finally get the plane launched at McMurdo.

Amundsen-Scott Base at the South Pole:

Admusen-Scott_5day_forecast

McMurdo Base:

McMurdo_5day_forecast

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121 Responses to Antarctica – warming, ice melting – not yet

  1. Ed Reid says:

    The press does not create “bullpuckey”. That would require both knowledge and effort. Rather, the press picks up the “bullpuckey” deposited by others and throws it in your direction. The press accepts no responsibility for the “bullpuckey” it hurls around, since it is just the messenger. The press also appears to have allowed all of its vaunted “bullpuckey’ detectors to fall into the same state of disrepair as the US network of surface temperature measurement stations. It is wise to assume that nothing sent in your direction by the press can safely be picked up by its clean end. :-)

  2. MikeC says:

    Even when there is more ice we have to remember that changes in the northern ice pack are a product of wind, not temperature.

  3. Mark Fawcett says:

    There’s lies, damn lies and statistics…

    I do love it when old m. nature sticks two fingers (well one for all you non UK types) up at the supremely knowledgeable beings that we are :o)

    Repeat after me: The science is settled, the science is settled, the science is settled.

    Can you get a frostbitten brain I wonder – might help explain that original paper…

    Cheers

    Mark

  4. deadwood says:

    Drs. Steig and Mann are right now hard at work “correcting” the faulty temperatures in Antarctica. Their spokesman, Dr. Sooja Caliente of the IPCC Polar Statistical Institute assures readers that the team will have completed their difficult calculations in time for the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

  5. Flanagan says:

    Two things:

    1- The sea ice extent in Antarctica is high this year, was low last year (see the graph). It’s fluctuating without any positive or negative trend.
    2- The Antarctic is loosing 200 Gt of ice each year…
    E. Rignot, J. Bamber, M. van den Broeke, C. Davis, Y. Li, W. van de Berg, E. van Meijgaard (2008) Recent mass loss of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from dynamic thinning, Nature Geoscience

    So how exactly is this compatible with the above assertion that “ice is not melting” in Antarctica?

    REPLY: Well Flanagan, look around. Some areas are losing mass, some are gaining:
    http://www.physorg.com/news4180.html
    or this one, contrasting what was thought to be losses
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/295/5554/476

    The whole mass loss “Yes it is! No it isn’t!” schoolyard fight over Antarctic ice mass balance isn’t very convincing. You quote a loss of 200 GT out of the whole mass of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Hmmm what I found most interesting is that in all of the studies I researched, none seem to give the figure in relation to the total mass for the Antarctic Ice sheet. For example this one from NASA:

    http://www.csr.utexas.edu/GRACE/publications/press/012308_jpl.pdf

    “The team found that the net loss of ice mass from Antarctica increased from 112 (plus or minus 91)
    gigatonnes a year in 1996 to 196 (plus or minus 92) gigatonnes a year in 2006.”

    Wow such accuracy in measurement. At least they have the honesty to show error bands.

    A commenter Ed Ring at Eco World, sums it up nicely (emphasis mine):

    It isn’t easy to find information on the total land-based ice mass on Antarctica, but if we accept the claim that sea levels would rise 61 meters if 100% of it melted, we can impute the mass. There are 335 million square kilometers of ocean on the planet, so you can easily calculate the ice mass of Antarctica must be about 20.5 million gigatons. A net loss of 150 gigatons against a mass of 20.5 million gigatons is nothing. It is beyond the rounding error – certainly beyond the capability of the Grace satellites to accurately record.

    Even the Eco World blog operator doesn’t believe there’s a problem:

    “In the March 25 2008 issue of EOS, there was a News item by Marco Tedesco titled “Updated 2008 Surface snowmelt Trends in Antarctica” (subscribers only). It reports the following:

    Surface snowmelt in Antarctica in 2008, as derived from spaceborne passive microwave observations at 19.35 gigahertz, was 40% below the average of the period 1987–2007. The melting index (MI, a measure of where melting occurred and for how long) in 2008 was the second-smallest value in the 1987–2008 period, with 3,465,625 square kilometers times days (km2 × days) against the average value of 8,407,531 km2 × days (Figure 1a). Melt extent (ME, the extent of the area subject to melting) in 2008 set a new minimum with 297,500 square kilometers, against an average value of approximately 861,812 square kilometers.”

    This evidence suggests that Antarctica, where 90% of the land based ice in the world resides, is increasing in mass. And this fact is ignored or downplayed in virtually every mainstream report available today, and indeed the mainstream press continues to infer that Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate. But on balance, the ice mass in Antarctica is not melting, it is probably getting bigger.

    As Pielke wrote me earlier this week, “My views have not changed… I agree that the alarmist view being widely disseminated is not supported by the science.”

    Not to worry Flanagan. Your view is simply suffering from the annual “ice shelf cracks off a berg everybody freaks out kabuki MSM theater”. Will we get to see a frantic repeat of this photo again this year?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/26/media-addicted-to-melt-when-it-it-should-be-crack/

    Spin from Reuters: Over 500,000 square kilometers gained is just “a bit”; while 55 square kilometers broken away was “huge”
    http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2009/09/spin-from-reuters-over-500000-square.html

    As for your statement, ” It’s fluctuating without any positive or negative trend.” Wrong again Flanagan.

    There is a positive trend in SH sea ice anomaly:
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg
    or this view with a trend line if you like
    http://noconsensus.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/south-ice-anomaly1.jpg

    But don’t take my word for it (since I never take yours) read what others have to say:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/27/why-the-greenland-and-antarctic-ice-sheets-are-not-collapsing/
    and the paper
    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/OllierPaine-NoIceSheetCollapse-AIGNewsAug.2009.pdf

    So yes Flanagan, your argument relies on media hype coupled with measurements that are not convincing and have large error bands, plus are miniscule in comparison to total mass.

    To paraphrase Ed Ring using your 200 GT number: “A net loss of 200 gigatons against a mass of 20.5 million gigatons is nothing.

    Not alarming. Go work for SMH or CBS News writing headines, you’d be good at it.

    - Anthony

  6. Mark Wagner says:

    Once again, we confuse facts with reality.

    Facts: Antarctic temps aren’t increasing, ice is setting records for maximum, modeled projections aren’t occurring.

    Reality: “They” create the perception that the poles are melting, therefore they must be melting and we must “do something.”

    And politicians everywhere respond to perception, not facts.

  7. pwl says:

    So it looks like a massive 2,500,000 square kilometers of new ice. As Darth Vader said to Luke in the “Empire Strikes Back”, “impressive, most impressive”.

    I guess it’s a WHITE OUT this year in the antarctic!!! Ha ha… great film too!!!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiteout_%282009_film%29

    So where does that put 2009 in terms of the last few years when arctic and antarctic ice totals are added up? Graphs please.

  8. INGSOC says:

    Don’t forget this link from a year ago about the other pole;

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/06/080620-north-pole.html

    Funny how we hear so little about the South pole these days. I wonder why? The North will be thrown under the bus soon as well, as the ice is increasing there too.

  9. J.Hansford says:

    It is my sad duty to inform you, that after a long illness, journalism is now dead….. Please send flowers.

  10. Ed Reid says:

    deadwood (10:33:09)

    …but, not in time for anyone else to check their numbers, assuming they are even willing to release them.

    :-)

  11. jeroen says:

    You can’t tell if a gigantic continent is warming the last 50 years with so little weather stations.

  12. mark twain says:

    antonny, please korrekt this:

    Quite a difference from 2008, about 2 million square kilometers more than this time last year, and well above average. The gain in Antarctica extent this year is 4 times that of the gain in the Arctic at 500,000 square kilometers

    ist about 1 million (look at the graph) and then 2 times more…

    greetings from austria, we have some positive mass balances in alps glaciers this year…

    mark

    REPLY: Thanks, I fixed that typo. – Anthony

  13. Ben P says:

    Would it be possible/fruitful to produce an analysis of sea ice extent limited to the regions that Steig et al claim are warming?

  14. Smokey says:

    Global sea ice vs Northern Hemisphere & Southern Hemisphere sea ice: click.

    Global sea ice is increasing.

  15. Adam from Kansas says:

    They have to get rid of the “some areas have been cooling for a long time” to make it sound compelling, it goes against the laws of AGW :-P

    Seriously, until Amundsen actually gets above the freezing mark enough to melt their snow cover I wouldn’t panic.

  16. bryan says:

    RE: MikeC (10:25:45) :

    Even when there is more ice we have to remember that changes in the northern ice pack are a product of wind, not temperature.

    Wind alone can not melt ocean sheet ice. It takes heat to melt ice, either increasing air temperature or increasing ocean temperature. Heat is required to melt and break-up ice sheets. The wind only allows for the transport of the destabilized, melted, & fractured ice away from the ice sheet fringes. Both heat and wind are required to melt and remove the Arctic Ocean ice sheet.

  17. Robert E. Phelan says:

    deadwood (10:33:09) :

    I’m all in favor of bashing the press which seems to have lost the ability to think for itself, but Dr. Steig had an interesting idea and the gumption to test it. If the results didn’t stand up to the scrutiny it was given over at the Air Vent, well, that’s science. Those guys took the paper apart piece by piece and may know it even better than Dr. Steig does by now, and they have deliberately refused to suggest any malfeasance was involved. Maybe we should do the same and stick to the science and policy implications.

    And if that ice extent doesn’t kick over in a few days into melt mode, maybe we should start questioning their data gathering techniques. If the data is inaccurate, how the heck can we make policy to deal with situations we don’t know the dimensions of? If the ice extent measurements ARE correct…. it’s worse than we thought!

  18. Retired Engineer says:

    If the temperature is still below freezing even after it rises a bit, how does that melt the ice? There has to be a finite amount of ice that can accumulate over land, so if more builds up, it has to force some out over the ocean. Where it could well break off.

    Living 6000 feet above sea level, I’m not really concerned. :) (cheap icon)

    Alarmists will cause more grief than the things they alarm about.

  19. MattN says:

    Cooling is the new warming….

  20. Stu says:

    Flanagan-

    You said,

    “1- The sea ice extent in Antarctica is high this year, was low last year (see the graph). It’s fluctuating without any positive or negative trend.”

    If you accept 2 years as evidence of no trend, then do you also accept that the gains seen in the arctic over the last 2 years is evidence of an upwards trend?

  21. Robert E. Phelan says:

    Flanagan (10:33:15) :

    comparing two years to find (or fail to find) a trend and throwing big numbers around without context is sloppy (at best!). What did you do, short home heating oil and go long on Carbon Credits?

    Anthony, replies like that should be featured on the World Wrestling Federation on one of their Smackdown productions… : )

  22. Manfred says:

    while Steig*s bad science method showed an increase in temperature over the last 60 years, there was an decrease over the last 50 year.

    the latter result – though not published by Steig – is much more important regarding GHG.

  23. Smokey says:

    Should we panic yet?:

    ClickA

    ClickB

    ClickC

    Clicky

  24. Philip_B says:

    The intense low pressures systems that constitute the circumpolar vortex appeared to have strengthened over the last few decades.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/296/5569/895

    The circumpolar vortex is due to the intense cold over Antarctica and the atmospheric flows it produces.

    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7p.html

    A cooling Antarctica would produce a more intense Antarctic polar vortex and draw in more warmer mid-latitude air, which would explain why the Antarctic Peninsula has apparently warmed.

    However, it is important to understand that both a cooling Antarctica and a warmer Antarctic Peninsula are both evidence that more heat is being lost to space from Antarctica and hence the SH’s/Earth’s climate is cooling.

    The cause may well be the so called ozone hole.

    So while declining summer sea ice in the NH is probably due to particulate pollution, increasing winter sea ice in the SH is a sign the climate is cooling.

    BTW ozone is a greenhouse gas that has declined over the last 30 years. It would be ironic to say the least if GHG driven climate change turned out to be a cooling climate due to declining levels of ozone.

    More on Ozone as a GHG

    http://www.ghgonline.org/otherstropozone.htm

  25. Paul Vaughan says:

    Re: Flanagan (10:33:15)

    Flip one or the other over for comparison:
    1) http://i41.tinypic.com/29zxus7.jpg [credit: Bob Tisdale]
    2) Figure 7 here:
    Sidorenkov, N.S. (2005). Physics of the Earth’s rotation instabilities. Astronomical and Astrophysical Transactions 24(5), 425-439.
    http://images.astronet.ru/pubd/2008/09/28/0001230882/425-439.pdf

    Also suggested: Read Yu.V. Barkin.

    I get stunned that so few mention the very clear decadal/multi-decadal north-south oscillations. My guess is that many people don’t take into account the high latitude of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) (and erroneously expect that everything should be symmetric about the equator). So many miles to go with this discussion…

  26. d says:

    This makes no sense. the “scientists” say penguins are dying because the krill they eat need ice. the ice extent has not gone done one bit so why are the penguins dying. maybe because the scientists have “tagged” 70,000 and unknowingly interfered with normal penguin functions. who knows but their argument doesn’t go with the satellite evidence.

  27. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Anthony,
    Flanagan just likes the attention from you and others each time he makes his unsustainable assertions. Admittedly, the responses make this blog lively and entertaining.

  28. Dave Wendt says:

    Looking at his graph of SH sea ice area over at CT http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.area.south.jpg
    it appears that, if the current year’s ice puts on just a smidgen more area and noses ahead of 1998, we would have 4 of the top 6 values for ice area “in the historic record” occurring in the last five years. Even if we don’t slip past ’98 we’re looking at 4 of the top 7, though I’m going by eye ball analysis and ’80 and ’81 could still be in the running at this point. I’m sure the lads already have a press release all typed up in their computers and are waiting breathlessly to hit the send button should it occur.

  29. davidc says:

    “bryan (11:51:15) :

    RE: MikeC (10:25:45) :

    Even when there is more ice we have to remember that changes in the northern ice pack are a product of wind, not temperature.

    Wind alone can not melt ocean sheet ice. It takes heat to melt ice, either increasing air temperature or increasing ocean temperature”

    For definition see:

    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

    “The sea-ice extent is calculated as the areal sum of sea ice covering the ocean where sea-ice concentration (SIC) exceeds 15%.”

    So if an area has 16% ice and wind in the appropriate direction removes enough ice to reduce this area to 14% there is a decrease in extent. No melting needed.

  30. MikeC says:

    At 11;51;15 bryan said:
    “Wind alone can not melt ocean sheet ice. It takes heat to melt ice, either increasing air temperature or increasing ocean temperature. Heat is required to melt and break-up ice sheets. The wind only allows for the transport of the destabilized, melted, & fractured ice away from the ice sheet fringes. Both heat and wind are required to melt and remove the Arctic Ocean ice sheet.”

    bryan, please stop wasting my time. The wind blows it into warmer waters. When weather patterns persist for several years you have a reduction in older ice resulting in reduced ice volume, leading to thinner ice that is moved about even faster by the wind. That’s why you have decadal changes in the Arctic Oscillation. Precipitation also plays a role.

  31. Flanagan says:

    Thanks anthony for the answer

    However, could you please point me toward more recent esitmate showing there’s no net loss of Antarctic ice shelf mass? The science study you mentioned, talking about some doubt over this, is 6 years older than the one I’m mentioning. 6 years, that’s a lot for research! The more recent NASA study you link to undoubtly gives an accelerating loss of mass – even including the error bars.

    Concerning the sea ice “growing”, here is my problem, examplified on the August anomaly (maxima)
    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/s_plot_hires.png
    the error on the slope is even larger than the slope itself! And August is the month where the confidence level is the highest… So one could say there’s a 0.4% annual increase at +-0.5%? Nonsense.

    The rest of your links, alas, are simply blog science and op-eds. no real science.

    Please for the rest of people here: do some research before qualifying my assertions as “unsustainable”.

    REPLY: OK then you are on record saying NSIDC data is nonsense. So are the ice mass measurements and the worries from them, same problem, error is greater than the signal. As for the request you make, do it yourself, I’m not keen on doing work for you. You mention 6 years, but that assumes that the recent work is better. In normal science that might be true, but given the trend of polarization and politicization of climate science, I have less trust in more recent work that addresses these issues.

    And you still haven’t addressed why 200 GT annual loss against 20 million GT is an issue to worry about. At that rate of loss it will take 100,000 years for the Antarctic to be gone assuming the trend continues. By then many other climate forcings like Milankovitch cycles will have kicked in. I’m not worried about your worries.

    And given just a few years of measurements how do you know its not simply noise? As you point out, NSIDC’s own trend is below the noise band of satellite measurement. There’s been no physical weighing of the ice mass, it’s all estimates from sat/radar imaging with very little historical data.

    I’m coming to Brussels soon by invitation. Don’t be surprised if I show up at your office at the University for a photo op. I’ll bring a funny hat for you to wear. – Anthony

  32. Robert E. Phelan says:

    Chris Schoneveld (13:07:01) :

    You’re suggesting Flanagan is a masochist? Well, I suppose the attention he gets here beats having no attention at all…. wasn’t there a song lyric a long while ago about how “… the pain let me know I was still alive…”?

  33. MikeC says:

    And wind doesn’t just move the fringes, it moves the whole ice sheet. That’s why the North Pole station started out at 90 degrees and moved to below 83 degrees lattitude this year since April

  34. Tom P says:

    Smokey,

    Glad to see you’re around.

    I cleared up your (rather unnecessary) uncertainties concerning the bet you offered on IPCC predictions – see my 23:43:56 posting on 19 09 2009 here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/14/research-claim-dropping-co2-caused-formation-of-antarctic-ice-cap/

    All that remains is for us to agree the stake. I suggested $1000, so it’s your move now. I hope we can forget your last week of stalling and you’re finally ready to stand behind your own bet.

  35. metnav says:

    I wintered at McMurdo Station this year. We had back to back storms that dumped almost 7 feet of snow on our station. It took weeks to clear out that mess. Late August at Pegasus Airfield (ICAO Identifier: NZPG) is horribly cold. -48 F one day late August this year if I remember correctly.

  36. Paul Vaughan says:

    Flanagan (13:25:08) ” http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/s_plot_hires.png

    Tamino ran an article criticizing the use of such manipulated aspect-ratios in graphs not too long ago. I agree with him on that point. The authors failure to choose a sensible y-axis-scale succeeds only in drawing attention to motives.

    Flanagan (13:25:08) “the error on the slope is even larger than the slope itself!”

    The errors are based on untenable assumptions. Whether there is warming or cooling, linear extrapolation and assumptions of randomness are not the answer.

  37. Tom P says:

    Anthony,

    The proportional mass loss seen is tiny. But GRACE can make it out using differential measurements between a pair of satellites. After all GRACE is measuring such changes against the gravity of the entire mass of the Earth, not just the Antarctica ice mass!

    The issue is the sea-level rise that comes from that loss, and as the volume of the ice is so large these become significant even if the ice loss is small. A 1% loss gives a two-feet increase in sea level.

    The GRACE data indicate that the sea-level rise from this mass loss increased from 0.3 to 0.5 mm a year from 1996 to 2006, now close to the sea-level rise from Greenland ice loss. It all depends on how the trend works out to see if this is a real problem. I don’t think GRACE is the best tool in the short term for working out these trends to the accuracy required to quantify any threat here.

    I certainly agree with your criticism of the errors. 110 +/- 90 to 200 +/- 90 gigatonnes a year is really all the precision the errors can justify. But the satellites of GRACE are determining to above a 95% confidence level that the Antarctic is losing ice.

  38. Philip_B says:

    Paul Vaughan (14:25:39) :

    Flanagan (13:25:08) ” http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/s_plot_hires.png

    The authors failure to choose a sensible y-axis-scale succeeds only in drawing attention to motives.

    I was going to make the same point. Whenever, someone uses a non-standard graphic presentation without clearly explaining why, I assume this is an attempt to deceive me.

  39. Stephen Wilde says:

    Changes in the northern ice pack are primariy a consequence of the temperature of the water flowing into the Arctic Circle from El Nino events (or the lack of them) some 5 to 10 years earlier.

    A secondary influence is wind but that depends on the position of the air circulation systems which are closely linked to the average global rate of oceanic energy emission with a lag of only a few weeks.

    The sun is too low to have a significant effect even in the Arctic summer but it does have some effect.

    At present we have a falling temperature of water flowing into the Arctic Circle because there has been a recent powerful cooling La Nina event which has led to a cooling of the other oceans as the effect spreads slowly around the planet.

    In the meantime we have a moderate El Nino which has pushed the air circulation systems somewhat poleward but not as far as during the warming spell from 1975 to 2000. This effect is temporarily opposing the effect of the cooler water reaching the Arctic Ocean but not by much.

    The sun is weaker than it has been for a century but that is not a large enough influence to have much effect at this stage.

    The stage remains set for a substantial energy loss from the northern continents this winter. Only a very powerful El Nino will assist us. I see that such an El Nino was predicted by warming proponents for this year but so far it has failed to materialise.

    The global air temperature is primarily dependent on the rate of energy release from the oceans. If the energy release from the oceans fails to match the energy loss from air to space we will see cooling of the air. To achieve warming of the air we have to get more energy released by the oceans than is lost to space.

    I have previously suggested that the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems is the best indicator of net global warming or net global cooling but that is hard to measure

    I think I can now be more specific.

    The latitudinal position of the ITCZ can serve as a proxy for the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems.

    There is a position at which it represents neither net warming nor net cooling. We do not yet know what that position is but it is north of the equator because there is more ocean in the southern hemisphere and the oceans set the point of balance. The rate of oceanic energy release dictates the size of the equatorial air masses.

    During the recent warming period the ITCZ drifted further north from the equator. During the Little Ice Age it was approximately on the equator. I understand that it has recently drifted a little closer to the equator.

    All we have to do is get the sequence of events in the right order and then consider the scale of the different inputs.

    The fact is that oceanic energy release varies and that is the primary climate driver on at least up to century time scales. Solar influences operate on longer time scales but I am undecided as to whether they can have an effect over a couple of solar cycles. I think they do but Leif has made me doubtful.

    Oceanic energy release operates on two time scales. Through ocean circulation over many (possibly 5 to 10) years and through the air in a matter of weeks.

    Getting the balance right between the oceanic timescale and the air timescale is key and the movement of the ITCZ helps with the diagnosis.

    The scale and timing of the solar effect needs further consideration.

    Needless to say it seems that in the face of these natural forcings any change in quantities of GHGs seems to be unworthy of consideration.

  40. Philip_B says:

    Wind alone can not melt ocean sheet ice.

    Actually it can. The kinetic energy imparted to the ice by the wind becomes thermal energy (heat) when the ice stops. Of course the effect is small compared to other sources of melt.

  41. Tenuc says:

    Flanagan (10:33:15) :
    “1- The sea ice extent in Antarctica is high this year, was low last year (see the graph). It’s fluctuating without any positive or negative trend.”

    Reply: The reason there is no trend is that the amount of ice at any one time is the product of a mass of inter-connected climate mechanisms. As our climate is a dynamc chaotic system, trying to find linear trends is nonsensical, and any trends you see are dependent on time period and your personal beliefs – therefore meaningless.

    Flanagan (10:33:15) :
    “2- The Antarctic is losing 200 Gt of ice each year…”

    Reply: Do you really believe that it is possible to measure the volume of Antartic ice to an accuracy of +/-200Gt at any moment in time? If you really believe it, I wish you’d send me some of the stuff your smoking – must be good!

  42. rbateman says:

    Sell the Beach House. Really.
    The ice will pile up and the sea level will drop, and your beach house will no longer be as short stroll to the water.
    Or nothing will change except the price of your real estate will plummet, and you might as well get what you can for it.
    I find it very strange that all the possibilities are not covered.
    It seems to me that the Weather Pattern is not the only thing stuck in Lodi.

  43. David Segesta says:

    Sensationalism sells. That’s at least part of the reason why the media hypes the AGW theory. A headline like this sells papers:
    “Earth’s temperatures rising alarmingly fast. We’re all gonna die!”

    On the other hand a more realistic headline like;
    “Earth’s temperature about the same as it was 100 years ago. Ho hum.”
    That doesn’t sell papers.

    Now what happens if the media gets the idea the earth is cooling. I can picture the headline:
    “Earth cooling alarmingly fast. We’re all gonna freeze to death!”
    I guess that would sell papers too.

  44. Paul Vaughan says:

    Interesting:

    Stephen Wilde (15:05:27) “The latitudinal position of the ITCZ can serve as a proxy for the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems.

    There is a position at which it represents neither net warming nor net cooling. We do not yet know what that position is but it is north of the equator because there is more ocean in the southern hemisphere and the oceans set the point of balance. The rate of oceanic energy release dictates the size of the equatorial air masses.

    During the recent warming period the ITCZ drifted further north from the equator. During the Little Ice Age it was approximately on the equator. I understand that it has recently drifted a little closer to the equator.”

  45. Smokey says:

    TP (13:45:24), my reading comprehension-challenged, MWP-denying, gambling addicted friend. How are you doing?

    You’ve repeatedly pestered everyone on this site with offers and counter-offers of wagers, and you’ve labeled everyone who declined to take your [stacked-deck] weather bets as having ‘no trousers.’ You’re not Joe Romm in drag, are you?

    And then you never replied to my question, if you’d be willing to take a two hundred thousand dollar bet. Cash immediately payable up front; Anthony holds the money. I’ll clearly define the terms as I understand them, you can agree or not.

    Enough of this silliness, it was fun at first but you’ve been at it for too long, and you’re making it personal. Stick to the science, like your recent denying of the MWP, or whatever your current vision is. If you want to bet on the weather, Las Vegas is waiting. But while it’s on my mind, I’d like to provide some personal history. Pay attention to the business ethics aspect, that’s where you’re a little weak:

    I’ve written well over a hundred very detailed contracts in my business life. It may surprise you, but for any agreement to be valid, there must be what is called a clear “meeting of the minds.” All the details must be worked out and agreed to; if one party changes anything — even one word — there is no contract. Both parties must explicitly agree to all terms and conditions. Under the Statute of Frauds, any contract of $1,000 or more must be signed and in writing.

    What you’re doing here, my impotent friend, is letting yourself believe that there is a contract in force when there’s not; you keep making changes, adding conditions, specifying rules, amounts, ‘clearing up’ things, etc. I suppose I assumed that you understood how it works, so maybe it’s my fault. But there is a big element of “gotcha!” in your posts, telling anyone who doesn’t bet with you that their manhood is in question. I understand that you’ve lost the CO2=AGW debate, and the MWP argument, and now you’re trying to save face. But really, pestering everyone for having ‘no trousers’ if they don’t bet with you on the weather isn’t appropriate for the “Best Science” site [sorry about that, Gavin, better luck next year].

    I had thought that by now you would have MovedOn, but your On/Off switch seems to be wired around with a shunt; typical behavior by gambling addicts. Help is available: 1-800-GAMBLING. No kidding.

    Kindly stick to the subject matter, in this case, Antarctica. Maybe you can try answering the links I posted here @12:34:49. Better yet, tell me more about your theory that the MWP was colder than now. That should be good fun.

    Flanagan,

    I’m impressed! You’re the only guy I know who can be wrong in five different languages.

  46. C. Paul Barreira says:

    As I wrote somewhere last week, whenever I hear the phrase ‘scientists say’ I switch off. Lysenko rules. Perhaps it will change someday but no time soon I think.

  47. MikeC says:

    Steven Wilde,
    Eh? What is all this mumbo jumbo based on? The wind pushes the entire ice sheet past Greenland where the sheet breaks up and melts. For discussion purposes, this makes the Alaska and Eastern Russia side of the sheet the back side of the sheet. The NOAA has a nice Arctic Theme Page with plots of the North Pole Station’s location plotted by the Argo system. It moved nearly 8 degrees lattitude twards the south. That is roughly half of the ice sheet getting pushed into warmer waters this year since April. The strength of the winds and the thickness of the ice are the major factors in how much ice will dissappear in a year (excluding my ignorance of the precipitation numbers during the same time, but if there is more precipitation in a year, you will have more ice for the wind to push. Lets include more cloudiness during the summer which will allow refreezing to start earlier). Now lets go back to the back side of the ice sheet. If temperatures are high enough, as they are in August, then no ice will re-form until temps drop. I doubt that heating caused by an El Nino 5 or 10 years before would cause enough changes in the Norwegian Current’s temps to melt the ice in place farther into the ice sheet (but if you run into any data showing correlation and a lag between ENSO and Norwegian Current temps or speed, please share). That’s why it takes a decades for the ice to thin. If the winds are blowing hard for 20 years, the older ice finally gets pushed out, making it easier for the newer and thinner ice behind it (currently 1-2 years old) to be pushed out of the arctic. But when the winds slow down for 20 or so years, then the ice slows down and gets thicker and older before it is finally pushed past Greenland.

  48. a jones says:

    Oh gosh! We have a set of measurements, Grace, which are well inside the limits of error of the system.

    So apparently we can now deduce from a trend in the drift of this set of measurements that not only what is being measured is not only changing but also is doing so according to the trend in the drift.

    And Oh my! we can also justify our conclusions by applying a statistical test and state it is to a 95% confidence level.

    Amazing, truly amazing.

    What balderdash. As anyone with a little learning about very elementary physics, mathematics and statistics would know.

    Meaningless remains meaningless whatever statistical analysis you may perform: you cannot create meaningful information where there is none to begin with. And meaningless is exactly what variations in this set of measurements are.

    Kndest Regards

  49. Smokey says:

    Geologists disagree. Here’s their temperature map: click. Most of the continent is cooling.

    Here’s another view: click.

  50. Philip_B says:

    I have previously suggested that the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems is the best indicator of net global warming or net global cooling but that is hard to measure

    We have reasonably good surface atmospheric pressure measurements going back as long as the surface temperature records. And a reasonably good reconstruction of the position of circulation systems over time could be made.

    Perhaps because I go back longer than most on AGW, I recall when poleward movement of air circulation systems was the main consequence of AGW. France would get the climate of North Africa because the air circulation systems that create the North African climate would northward over France.

    Fifteen to twenty years ago there was some evidence this was happening. However, what looked like trend turned out to be a presumably natural cycle as the circulations moved back to their former positions.

    Poleward movement of air circulation systems was then quietly forgotten and research into the subject stopped. Another failed prediction of AGW theory.

  51. pwl says:

    metnav (13:45:53) : “I wintered at McMurdo Station this year. We had back to back storms that dumped almost 7 feet of snow on our station. It took weeks to clear out that mess. Late August at Pegasus Airfield (ICAO Identifier: NZPG) is horribly cold. -48 F one day late August this year if I remember correctly.”

    Now that’s what I call a serious WHITE OUT!!! When living in Edmonton one year in the mid 1970′s we had a massive dump of about three or four feet over a week or so… quite fun for kids… but seven feet! Wow! Think of all the tunnels and forts you could build in that!

    Hey Smokey, thanks for the graphs. What is interesting about the NH graph is that the last year shown, May 2009, peeked (correct spelling) over the median line and almost looks like 1987… heading to a new piling on of ice… oh and the graph is a half year out of date too… so the spike should be higher for today… this seems to be the case even though the red trend line is still headed downwards.

    My observation is that Nature doesn’t follow neat happy statistics, she does what she does without our math games. Or put it another way the trend line follows the way she is leading by a gap. We only learn the trend line way after what happened. And we think that we can predict the future with trend lines from past data. That’s quite funny for complex systems that have inherent randomness in them not to mention many factors the best of us evolved great apes don’t understand. We certainly are the planet of the apes.

    Anyone have links to the latest daily up to date NH, SH and NH+SH ice extents? Also Ice Mass estimates would be nice to see in a graph. Graphs that are kept up to date daily would be the best. If they are on the side of the site I can’t find them.

    Oh, and these graphs show the extent above 1979 by a million or so sq km, so what’s the fuss about? Nada. Oh wait, the shape of the outline has changed! Oh noooooooo…. the shape has changed… http://www.globalwarminghoax.com/e107_images/newspost_images/11_1979-2008_antarctic_ice_concentration_extent.jpg

    I do have to say that this fuzzy graph, http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/NEWIMAGES/antarctic.seaice.bandw.000.png, sure looks cool.

    I wonder if anyone is mapping the ICE extents onto the GRACE gravity maps of the Earth and taking into account the effects of the irregular gravity forces in the ICE flows and formations? Are these variations in gravity enough to put a noticeable force onto the ice caps and their surrounding water areas and water flows? Could these changes in the local gravity fields impact the NH ice cap, or the ice around the land mass of the antarctic? Or are the differences too small to be concerned with?

    Oh wait I guess my question is a very good one considering one search with The Google on the Intertubes turned up this link at Nasa doing this research: http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace/gallery/gravity/ . Interesting stuff, he says scratching his head wondering what it means…

    http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace/gallery/gravity/GRCprOceanCirc_Full.jpg
    “Unless otherwise noted, images are provided by University of Texas Center for Space Research and NASA. Image credit: Courtesy of Steve Jayne at Woods Hole Institute of Oceanography and Victor Zlotnicki, JPL. The figure shows three datasets, whose arrows show ocean currents off the East coast of the U.S, 1000m beneath the surface. The top panel is obtained from the GRACE geoid, satellite altimetry, and ship measurements of temperature and salt. The bottom panel only differs from the top one in the fact that the best geoid prior to GRACE launch is used there. The middle panel shows direct measurement of those currents by floats deployed from ships. This region of the N. Atlantic, showing the Gulf Stream, is one of the best studied in the World’s Oceans, and where the amount and quality of data from shipborne instruments is highest. In data poor regions, the new information provided by GRACE together with satellite altimetry will increase our knowledge of ocean circulation. Colors: grey: land, white: lack of data; others: the height of the sea surface above the geoid. Currents flow around these highs and lows, much as wind flows around highs and lows of atmospheric pressure. ”

    Yes, Al Gore does seem like he’s suffering from the pandemic of obesity in the NH although he might have to tighten his belt after the carbon markets crashed… oh wait he has a fortune in income from his science fiction slide show… which supposedly raked in USD$49,756,507! That should keep him in the fat for a long time. Wow… PT Barnum would be proud of Gore.
    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=inconvenienttruth.htm

  52. deadwood says:

    Robert E. Phelan (11:51:59) :

    Sorry Robert, I am not willing to cut Drs. Steig or Mann (especially) any slack for the BS they have dressed up as climate science.

    The flaws in the Mannian statistical approach and the team’s judicious use of cherry picked data sets were widely known and they still chose to use them.

    And the team continues to disseminate more of the same with the Kaufman et al. paper on the Arctic in Science this month.

    No sir, I emphatically do not think they deserve anything other than scorn and ridicule

  53. Michael says:

    Still relevant today 100%

    The Greenhouse Conspiracy
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5949034802461518010#

  54. pwl says:

    “We think that we can predict the future with trend lines from past data. That’s quite funny for complex systems that have inherent randomness in them not to mention many factors the best of us evolved great apes don’t understand. We certainly are the planet of the apes.” – pwl

    The only difference it seems from one of us great apes and the other species of apes around today is that when one of us great apes grunts it’s an erudite soothsayer’s paper is spit out rather than an audible grunt.

    Of course all soothsayers, grunters or erudites alike, face one fundamental flaw with their science, ahem, art of prediction, er, religion of prediction, er magic act which is that Nature has something else in mind (so to speak) than what we think with our stones, entrails, satellites, scanners, dice, or computerized climate models… it’s impossible to predict something that has inherent randomness in it as Stephen Wolfram has proven in A New Kind of Science not to mention the others who have made discoveries on this point.

    This article on the Earth Geoid is very interesting too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoid. In particular the Earth is packing two of them here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/Geoids_sm.jpg. Ice and water are of course themselves sources of a serious amount of gravity.

  55. pwl says:

    “No sir, I emphatically do not think they [Dr. Mann et. al.] deserve anything other than scorn and ridicule” – deadwood

    How about a public spanking with a paddle broadcast on global television for scientific fraud? Oh wait, Dr. Mann was chastised by the NSA… too bad they didn’t break out the paddle.

  56. pwl says:

    Thanks Michael… awesome documentary…

  57. TonyB says:

    TomP said;

    “But the satellites of GRACE are determining to above a 95% confidence level that the Antarctic is losing ice.”

    That is a far greater confidence level than the Met office believe, who are supposed to be the world authority on the subject.

    This is a job advert carried on their web site recently;

    ****
    Polar ice-sheet modelling scientist
    Salary: £25,500 + competitive benefits, including Civil Service Pension
    Generic Role: Senior Scientist
    Profession: Science
    Permanent post at the Met Office, Exeter
    Closing date for applications: 11 June 2009

    Background information
    A significant uncertainty in future projections of sea level is associated with dynamical changes in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and a key aspect of this uncertainty is the role of ice shelves, how they might respond to climate change, and the effect this could have on the ice sheets. The goal of the post is to contribute to improved scenarios of sea-level rise, which is an important aspect of climate change, with large coastal impacts.

    Specific job purpose
    Incorporate a model of ice shelves into the Met Office Hadley Centre climate model to develop a capability to make projections of rapid changes in ice sheets, thereby leading to improved scenarios of future sea-level rise.

    Specific job responsibilities
     Evaluate existing ice-shelf models and their appropriateness for coupling to a global climate model, considering the ocean and atmosphere boundary conditions required.
     Implement a suitable ice-shelf model into the Hadley Centre Earth System model. The resulting coupled model will be used to study the behaviour of the ice shelf under climate change conditions.
     Work on additional improvements to the land-ice component of the Earth System model, which will then be used to produce new projections of the ice-sheet contribution to future sea level.
     Collaborate with colleagues at the University of Bristol and elsewhere to ensure smooth delivery of ice-stream model components, and manage the links that directly relate to this project.
    Qualifications, skills and abilities required

    Essential
     A 2.1 degree or above (exceptionally a 2.2 may be considered if evidence of proven capability in relevant research) in physics, mathematics, oceanography, meteorology or a related subject with significant mathematics or physics content.
     A PhD or equivalent experience in a physical or mathematical science.
     Significant experience of either oceanography or glaciology models, and ability to acquire expertise in glaciology or oceanography, as required.
     Demonstrable experience in computer modelling.

    ***

    tonyb

  58. gtrip says:

    Sometimes one must just sit back a think. The AGWer’s go to bed at night hoping for hurricanes, floods, droughts, and a warm winter to prove that their beliefs areright. The skeptics hope for the opposite to prove that their beliefs are right. It’s kind of like watching/predicting American Football games (yes, I spent today observing those things). Sometimes you pick a team to win because you deep down want them to win. Sometimes you just pick a team to win because you have looked at all available information and made your choice base on that information.

    But when all is said and done. The game still has to be played and the winner is dictated by the score. And for all of the pre game talk, the final score is all that matters. And to those that sell you their own predictions; ask them why they aren’t living in a castle on their own island since they should have been able to wager their way there on their own predictions.

    In other words, intangibles in science or sports are just that; Intangible. And I still can’t comprehend the obsession that governments are putting on climate unless there really is a conspiracy to usurp the peoples freedom or to just use it as a source of income (taxes).

    Anyway, I’ll let you all get back to the discussion on whether ice melts or water freezes.

  59. Tom P says:

    Smokey,

    I’m sure people can form their own conclusions concerning your character from the posts about the bet you first offered.

    Nevertheless, I’ll make sure that each month as the UAH measurements come out we’ll see if you hadn’t reneged what would have been the outcome.

    I’m not interested in the money, but to see you squirm on a hook of your own making does provide compensation that money can’t buy

    REPLY: The whole question is moot anyway, I don’t allow bets on WUWT. So nobody sends me anything. I wouldn’t take Smokey’s or your money anyway. You want betting action both of you meet up in Vegas. – Anthony

  60. Ron de Haan says:

    Anthony, would you be so kind to inform me when you are finished with Flanagan so I can make a posting?

    REPLY: Be my guest, I’ve said all I need to say. – Anthony

  61. kuhnkat says:

    Bryan,

    if you paid attention to NASA press releases on wind and current changes in the Arctic you would know that virtually all the ice loss there was due to the ice being blown south where it COULD melt.

    You would also be aware that the last three years wind and current changes have moved back to earlier regimes where the ice was NOT being blown out of the arctic.

    It NEVER warmed enough above the arctic circle to melt all the lost ice in-situ. The DMI Polar Temperature link Anthony has so kindly placed on the side bar can quickly erase this idea!!! Click through the history and you will see little change in the temps exceeding Melt Temp which is handily marked on the graphs.

    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

  62. Bill Illis says:

    A new more detailed study of Greenland showed that it might be gaining mass.

    Total accumulation minus run-off and melting was +275 billion tons last year. The study didn’t incorporate the estimates for the other negatives such as ice-berg discharge (-238 billion tons) and under-ice-sheet melt (-32 billion tons) but on net, it would result in net increase of +5 billion tons.

    The accumulation minus melt and run-off numbers were much higher than the previous less detailed studies.

    So, if the same type of detail were applied to Antarctica, we might see different numbers. Accumulation numbers exceeding 2000 billion tons and losses of 2200 billion tons composed of dozens of separate estimates can easily turn on just the assumptions.

    https://eng.ucmerced.edu/people/rbales/CV/PubsP/120

    [Another issue with the ice mass balance studies is they sometimes leave out a term or two that is required to figure out the total ice loss/gain so one has to look into them a little more rather than just reading the abstract or the media headline. Some Antarctica studies leave out the central plateau. The Greenland study didn't add in the ice-berg discharge etc. They almost always exclude the total mass of the ice-sheet to start with. An expert on mountain glaciers was asked on RealClimate what the total mass of mountain glaciers was (or just one of them) for a comparison to the net mass loss numbers he was quoting. The answer was they didn't have any but it was certain they were losing mass].

  63. Churn says:

    When I was in grad school I had an opportunity to join a research team to McMurdo Station for the austral summer of ’77-’78. One of the interesting research efforts I was involved with was correlating the changes in the level of nitrates in ice cores with fluctuations in the 11-year solar cycle. Deposition of nitrates onto the ice increased with the solar maxima of the cycle and the cyclic levels of nitrate followed the solar cycle. One of the side issues was the contribution of the nitrate as a fertilizer to the oceans when the fringe of the icecap broke off and melted in the waters surrounding the continent. This is one of the reasons why the water is so fertile and there is such an abundance of plankton and krill, which attracts penguins, seals, and whales. Primary productivity of the oceans has been shown to be directly related to solar cycles and this is partly due to the precipitation of nitrogen, primarily as nitrate.

    So Scott Pelley needs to know that the melting of icebergs actually fertilizes the ocean with nitrates which leads to more phytoplankton and krill (food for penguins). Secondly, during this same summer a number of researchers were looking into the devastating effect of Newcastle Disease virus on the penguin population (Newcastle causes extreme gastroenteritis). While I don’t know if this disease is having an effect on the current population the story makes an important point; there can be numerous causes in the decline of any animal population. To imply or actually claim warming due to manmade CO2 emissions as the single factor affecting a decline in penguin population without mentioning any supporting data brings into question the research being performed on the Palmer Peninsula.

  64. Layne Blanchard says:

    That’s a lot of ice surrounding that red hot continent! Must be a scorcher down there! What’s the actual in that deep red area, -20C ?????

  65. Ubique of Perth WA says:

    Why is the NSIDC still making comparisons with a 1979-2000 average? Twenty one years is a pretty ordinary baseline – why aren’t we seeing a 1979 – 2008 average?

  66. metnav says:

    pwl (16:26:04) :

    metnav (13:45:53) : “I wintered at McMurdo Station this year. We had back to back storms that dumped almost 7 feet of snow on our station. It took weeks to clear out that mess. Late August at Pegasus Airfield (ICAO Identifier: NZPG) is horribly cold. -48 F one day late August this year if I remember correctly.”

    Now that’s what I call a serious WHITE OUT!!! When living in Edmonton one year in the mid 1970’s we had a massive dump of about three or four feet over a week or so… quite fun for kids… but seven feet! Wow! Think of all the tunnels and forts you could build in that!

    Hey pwl our weather observer this past winter was from Saskatoon. It was his second winter at McMurdo in addition to a few summer seasons. He’s moved on and will be missed.

  67. Tom P says:

    a jones,

    The latest GRACE mass loss figure is 210 +/- 90 Gtonnes. Why are you confused that this is more than two standard deviations, or at a 95% confidence level, more than zero?

    TonyB,

    I said:

    “It all depends on how the trend works out to see if this is a real problem. I don’t think GRACE is the best tool in the short term for working out these trends to the accuracy required to quantify any threat here.”

    The Met Office says:

    “A significant uncertainty in future projections of sea level is associated with dynamical changes in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets…”

    How did you come to the conclusion there’s a contradiction here?

  68. Tom P says:

    Bill Illis,

    “So, if the same type of detail were applied to Antarctica, we might see different numbers.”

    GRACE is a direct determination of mass from gravitational measurements. The Greenland paper you cite is a modelling exercise on the mass flows.

    The GRACE determined mass loss will be a constraint on a similar exercise for Antarctic, not an output that might be shifted.

  69. Ron de Haan says:

    Anthony,
    Now you have tackled the Global Ice Extend to a level where even Flanagan can be transferred to a department under a light observation regime, I would like to ask you if you could spend a publication on the latest Pro AGW commercial campaign which is launched this weekend with a commercial to stop climate change in order to save the rain forest, starring a.o Prince Philips and a frog (the frog is the animal with no ears).

    And the new pro AGW movie (the follow up of An Inconvenient Truth), “The Age of Stupid”: http://www.ageofstupid.net/the_film

    I think it is good to have our comments all over the web asap.

  70. a jones says:

    I merely refer you to the website where all the raw data and information on the precision of the instrumentation is available.

    And suggest if your require proper statistical analysis thereof you hire a professional such as Mr. Briggs: instead of trying to do it yourself.

    Kindest Regards.

    PS moderator is it out of order to recommend Mr. Briggs? If so I apologise. please snip. I haven’t told him either but will drop him a line asap.

    Regards A.

  71. Smokey says:

    The Antarctic ice pack is growing, and that’s a fact. Furthermore, it’s growing much faster than the North polar ice cap is declining: click. It’s called natural climate fluctuation. The alarmists haven’t been able to falsify it.

    This chart shows more proof of global cooling: click. Cooling climate = more ice: click.

    Who are you gonna believe, The Sydney Morning Herald? Or your own eyes and Planet Earth?

  72. Smokey says:

    a jones,

    People link to realclimate and tamino; I see no reason you can’t link to Mr. Briggs.

    [At first I thought you meant Brignell, another guy who knows his statistics.]

  73. a jones says:

    I do not doubt Mr. Brignell’s expertise, he is really very good indeed, but I find his website not quite to my taste.

    But Mr. Briggs is very good too.

    In the end all they are telling us what we knew and should know, and how to spot the charlatans who would bemuse us with faulty logic, numbers and pseudo scientific quackery.

    Alas it is all too extant and we must do battle with it as best we can.

    So call me an old fashioned curmugeon if you wish but I find Mr. Brignell’s clown a little florid for my taste, but i do find his incisive views on epidemiology excellent.

    Mr. Briggs is very good too, if rather more classical and political in American terms which I neither understand nor can comment on.

    No matter.

    It is the electric light that slew the ghost and it is the light that exposes the mountebanks and their quackery, dress it in cod scientific jargon as they will.

    Kindest Regards

  74. Bulldust says:

    So that things don’t become too subjective I propose we take a stern, analytical and objective approach to the measurement of the aforementioned “bullpuckey.” It seems to me that the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures should avoid a term as unscientific as “bullpuckey” (clearly an Imperial measure) and adopt the “Gore” as the SI unit.

    Proposed Definition
    Gore – noun – the SI unit for the erroneous content of the film “An Inconvenient Truth”, staring former vice president Al Gore.

    Obviously this is an unwieldy unit at the best of times, so I would suggest that the world adopt the milliGore and microGore as the standard unit for measuring “bullpuckey” for common daily usage.

    NOTE: Three nations are clearly exempt from using the “Gore” as they are so scientifically, let us say, eclectic as to not have adopted the SI system. These nations are, of course, Burma, Liberia and the USA.

  75. Michael hauber says:

    Looking at the papers you posted in response to Flanagan, I note that the ones showing an increase in Antarctic Ice mass are for only part of the ice sheet – one being the Ross Ice Shelf, and the other being the ‘interior’ exlcuding the edges – and climate models have always predicted an increase in thickness in the interior (increased snowfall in warmer but still below freezing air), and loss around the edges.

    It appears the only study to look at the whole Antarctic ice sheet mentioned in this thread (I did skim so perhaps I missed something) measures an overall ice loss.

    I admit the result is probably uncertain. And that the current rates aren’t particularly alarming – sea level rise is 3mm a year and most of that is supposed to be thermal expansion not ice sheet loss. However the fact that observations show a loss of ice when models do not predict such loss should be at least enough concern to want to closely monitor and get better information?

    And it is certainly a different picture from ‘sea ice is increasing’ therefore by unstated implication all ice in Antarctic is increasing that I think some people may have.

  76. Phlogiston says:

    An anthem for AGW

    Every political movement needs a rousing and aspirational song to keep up morale: so here is one for proponents of AGW: “Aggressive sunbathing”

    Link to file:
    http://download.yousendit.com/cmcwWGJITWNxRTFjR0E9PQ

  77. Stephen Wilde says:

    MikeC (16:03:41)

    I see nothing wrong with your description of wind effects but consider that you are mistaken in ignoring the effect of temperature variations in the water flowing into the Arctic Circle.

    You place significance on the thickness of the ice but ignore the fact that warmer water (or less cold water) under the ice will inhibit thickness.

  78. Bender says:

    Michael hauber (21:50:13)

    “We show that 72% of the Antarctic ice sheet is gaining 27+- 29 Gt yr-1″
    “The change in mass of the interior (80% of the omitted area)
    is likely to be small.”

    http://www.cpom.org/research/djw-ptrsa364.pdf

  79. Paul Vaughan says:

    Stephen Wilde (15:05:27) “Solar influences [...]“

    Apply temporal conditioning (and be vigilantly wary of confounding) when investigating solar-terrestrial relations.

    Note what happens from ~1930s until ~1970s here:
    http://www.sfu.ca/~plv/Cos(Phase(abs(Pr.),2r..,3LNC)).png

    Compare with:

    1) All figures here:
    Ponyavin, D.I.; & Zolotova, N.V. (2004). Nonlinear analysis of climatic time series with cross recurrence plots.
    http://geo.phys.spbu.ru/~ned/Ponyavin_and_Zolotova_2004.pdf

    2) Figures 2 & 4:
    Ponyavin, D.I.; Barliaeva, T.V.; & Zolotova, N.V. (2005). Hypersensitivity of climate response to solar activity output during the last 60 years. Memorie della Societa Astronomica Italiana 76, 1026-1029.
    http://geo.phys.spbu.ru/~ned/P_B_Z_2005MmSAI..76.1026I.pdf

    3) Figures 16-25:
    Zolotova N.V.; & Ponyavin D.I. (2005). Recurrence and cross recurrence plot analysis of natural time series, Educational and methodical materials. St. Petersburg University Press. (in Russian)
    http://geo.phys.spbu.ru/~ned/ZP_methodology.pdf

    4) Figure 4:
    Ponyavin, D.I. (2004). Solar cycle signal in geomagnetic activity and climate. Solar Physics 224, 465-471.

    5) Figures 3, 5, 9b, & 11b:
    Xue, Y.; Smith, T.M.; & Reynolds, R.W. (2003). Interdecadal Changes of 30-Yr SST Normals during 1871-2000. Journal of Climate 16, 1601-1612.
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/sst/papers/xue-etal.pdf

  80. Michael hauber says:

    Thanks Bender.

    And the other 20% of the omitted area includes areas near the edge of the western peninsula which is melting rapidly but difficult to measure accurately. If I interpret a somewhat confusingly worded conclusion correctly, they esimate that when 100% of the Antarctic area is considered that overall there is an ice loss of 35 Gt/y, with uncertainty of +/- 115 GT/y – so overall no meaningful trend either way detected in that paper.

  81. p.g.sharrow "PG" says:

    Stephen Wilde (15:05:27) :”The latitudinal position of the ITCZ can serve as a proxy for the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems.”
    I find your proposition most interesting as a way to proxy the energy balance between the north and south hemispheres ( if I correctly understand your post). the assemetric size and shape of the worlds oceans makes it hard to model the energy balance effectively. This might let the planet do that part of the job for you. K.I.S.S.

    I wouldn’t let Lief diswede you from your train of thought, he is no doubt this site’s for most expert on all that is known about the sun, but there is a lot that is not known.

  82. TonyB says:

    TomP said:

    “I said:

    “It all depends on how the trend works out to see if this is a real problem. I don’t think GRACE is the best tool in the short term for working out these trends to the accuracy required to quantify any threat here.”

    The Met Office says:

    “A significant uncertainty in future projections of sea level is associated with dynamical changes in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets…”

    How did you come to the conclusion there’s a contradiction here?

    ***
    Because you then spoilt that perfectly reasonable statement by saying:

    “But the satellites of GRACE are determining to above a 95% confidence level that the Antarctic is losing ice.”

    Clearly the confidence level is less than that.

    tonyb

  83. Mark Fawcett says:

    Robert E. Phelan (11:51:59) :

    I’m all in favor of bashing the press which seems to have lost the ability to think for itself, but Dr. Steig had an interesting idea and the gumption to test it. If the results didn’t stand up to the scrutiny it was given over at the Air Vent, well, that’s science.

    In an ideal world yes.

    However, the original paper made the front cover of Nature (I think) with ‘that graphic’ – the one included in at the top of this WUWT entry. This is the type of image / message that leaves a last impression with people and reinforces the ‘ice is melting’ mantra. It’s the kind of picture that stands out on magazine racks, at airports etc.

    Problems have been found with the paper, once again down to the use of statistical techniques on incomplete data-sets that have noise/error bars substantially larger than the variation that’s being ‘measured’. Do you see a front page correction of this – no. Does the general public know about this – unlikely.

    As a test type this into google:

    “antarctica warming study steig 2009″

    And see the 1st page of hits – all major, major newspapers / publications etc.

    Now do this:

    “antarctica warming study steig 2009 flawed”

    And repeat – slightly different set of results eh?

    (Not entirely scientific I realise but a good indicator of likely audience reach.)

    Cheers

    Mark

  84. Doug Jones says:

    Layne Blanchard (17:32:22) :

    That’s a lot of ice surrounding that red hot continent! Must be a scorcher down there! What’s the actual in that deep red area, -20C ?????

    Layne, I don’t know about the red west but the pink east temps can be monitored at this link:
    http://www.aad.gov.au/weather/aws/dome-a/index.html
    Currently about -65C. The best I’ve seen this winter was about -79C. We’re starting to see diurnal movements in the temp so the sun must be back :-)

  85. F Kassen says:

    Speaking of the Sydney Morning Herald, now they’re trying to suggest that the drought in NSW is getting worse:

    http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/hot-weather-kills-20-of-nsw-wheat-crop-20090921-fxnd.html

    Nonsense, obviously, and I doubt the measurements of temperature in 1950 were of a calibre that would make any kind of trend analysis legitimate. I suspect these drought declarations are part of the state government/MSM’s warmist agenda.

  86. Manfred says:

    I think the GRACE paper may be reasonable, even if it comes from the University of Colorado.

    Climate scientists have repeatetly said, that Antarctic ice may increase in a warming environment, due to increased precipitation.

    So the opposite is also true, Antarctic ice loss is compatible with COOLING temperatures, allowing less precipitation.

  87. Manfred says:

    A consequence of increasing Antarctic ice with increasing temperatures would, of course, reduce the expected sea level rise.

  88. Jeff Id says:

    We’re still working away at a better solution for Steig. It’s getting close now. The amount of work Ryan has put into this is several times greater than Steig et al. Every pebble is being flipped to see if there’s an improvement which can be made.

  89. Mike McMillan says:

    Michael hauber (21:50:13) :
    . . . the current rates aren’t particularly alarming – sea level rise is 3mm a year and most of that is supposed to be thermal expansion not ice sheet loss.

    3.2mm/yr is for the whole satellite era. I eyeball the rate for the last several years at around 1.4mm/yr.
    3.2 gives us a 10 ft rise sometime after AD 3000. 1.4 mm/yr will give us 10 ft in the early part of the 5th Millennium. Plan accordingly.


    However the fact that observations show a loss of ice when models do not predict such loss should be at least enough concern to want to closely monitor and get better information?

    When the data does not follow the models, we should get better models.

  90. JimB says:

    OT–
    CNN this morning, we’re back to Greenland melting, with dire consequences:

    “We accompany oceanographers in inflatable boats as they collect data on the warming water currents in the fjord. All this research, they say, points to sea levels rising beyond current predictions.

    There are still those who question humankind’s role in the warming of the Earth’s climate, but these scientists are not among them.

    “Things could be very bad,” glaciologist Dr Gordon Hamilton tells me. “If we don’t start to do something about it now we’ll very quickly reach a tipping point from which there’ll be no return. And the consequences for society as a whole would be catastrophic.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/09/20/greenland.arctic/index.html

    And this has to be true, because the scientists are “independent” this time:

    “Joining Greenpeace on this expedition was a difficult decision for CNN. Does it compromise our editorial independence on what can still be a highly divisive issue? …
    Traveling with Greenpeace allowed us to record powerful images of Greenland’s accelerating melt. And we met independent scientists who believe the world must act boldly to slow down change that science is struggling to keep pace with. ”

    Wasn’t there a recent discussion about how much thicker the icepack is?…and how more ice in the center pushes ice out to the edges?

    JimB

  91. RR Kampen says:

    Re: Mark Fawcett (10:28:02) :

    “There’s lies, damn lies and statistics…”

    Statistics have no truth value and therefore cannot be lies.

    More sea-ice around Antarctica may simply be caused by increased snowy precipitation on the sea-ice. Increasing precipitation belongs to global warming.

  92. Tom P says:

    TonyB,

    To repeat what I wrote earlier to a jones,

    “The latest GRACE mass loss figure is 210 +/- 90 Gtonnes. Why are you confused that this is more than two standard deviations, or at a 95% confidence level, more than zero?”

  93. Supercritical says:

    Re that Met Office jobspec;

    “The goal of the post is to contribute to improved scenarios of sea-level rise, which is an important aspect of climate change, with large coastal impacts.”

    Now I construe this as having to help with making up scenarios of large sea-level rises … in order to serve the interests of ‘climate change’

    This is not a scientific job, it is an artist’s job!

    … clearly on a par with scenery painting in the theatre.

    True Lies?

  94. Chris Schoneveld says:

    RR Kampen (02:46:47) :

    Re: Mark Fawcett (10:28:02) :

    “There’s lies, damn lies and statistics…”

    “Statistics have no truth value and therefore cannot be lies.”

    Strictly speaking you are right but aren’t you splitting hairs? The quote (first noted in 1892 and attributed to Cornelia Augusta Hewitt Crosse) is particularly powerful exactly because statistics is supposed to be value-free but applied or interpreted wrongly could be used to deceive lay people.

  95. Bill Illis says:

    Tom P,

    The Grace satellite is a really great instrument.

    But it cannot measure the mass balance of glacial icesheets accurately.

    There are too many adjustments and assumptions required for things like post-glacial rebound, even rebound from thousands of kms away, underlying mantle conditions, even smaller things like atmospheric pressure. The raw Grace data before these corrections are applied shows that Antarctica is only losing a very small amount of mass.

  96. Vincent says:

    RR Kampen

    “More sea-ice around Antarctica may simply be caused by increased snowy precipitation on the sea-ice. Increasing precipitation belongs to global warming.”

    You say sea ice MAY be caused by increased snow and that this belongs to global warming. Then again it may NOT be snow based at all.

    And I remember having plenty of snow in the sixties, and it was supposed to be cooling then. Oh well, never mind!

  97. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Ron de Haan (18:48:42) : “a commercial to stop climate change in order to save the rain forest, starring a.o Prince Philips and a frog”

    I am all for protecting the rain forests (aren’t we all?). By the way the commercial made the reverse claim:, namely that cutting rain forests would effectively add more CO2 to the atmosphere than cars etc. do (which I doubt) and hence would cause climate change (which is true but more likely on a regional scale due to land-use change: http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/new-article-regional-climate-change-in-tropical-and-northern-africa-due-to-greenhouse-forcing-and-land-use-changes-by-paeth-et-al-2009/

  98. An Inquirer says:

    Michael hauber (21:50:13) : “…the fact that observations show a loss of ice when models do not predict such loss should be at least enough concern to want to closely monitor and get better information?”

    We should be aware of the difficulties of lumping all GCMs together, and certainly some model runs have forecasted declining ice in Antarctica. Yet GCMs have been grossly unreliable in forecasting ice trends at either poles. It appears that the models do not capture the key variables, or handles them incorrectly or that weather events (and ongoing variability) swamp the effect of GCM variables.

    While there is a distinction between ice and snow, I think it is noteworthy that manmade structures in Antarctica have been buried in snow through the years. I do not remember any pictures where manmade structures have become more exposed through melt. When we discuss the ability of satellites to precisely measure ice thickness, we should remember what we observe on land.

  99. we should think of new ideas to go green

  100. Ron de Haan says:

    Flanagan (13:25:08) :

    I’ll bring a funny hat for you to wear. – Anthony

    Suggestion?
    http://www.l-page.net/funny/images/hat.jpg

  101. Robert E. Phelan says:

    Mark Fawcett (00:13:08) :

    Yes, Mark, it was the cover story for Nature, it used THAT graphic and was given almost “unprecedented” hype. The two Jeffs and Ryan O have done yeoman’s work demonstrating the flaws in that paper. My point is that they have been very unwilling to label Dr. Steig’s work as anything but “flawed” and that perhaps we should follow their lead on that… unless you think, of course, that ad-hominem attacks on the integrity of the warmistas in the style of RC, Tamino, Connolley and Romm are the way to win friends and influence the wavering.

  102. John F. Hultquist says:

    Ubique of Perth WA (17:55:26) :

    Why is the NSIDC still making comparisons with a 1979-2000 average? Twenty one years is a pretty ordinary baseline – why aren’t we seeing a 1979 – 2008 average?

    Climate normals are set by international treaty to be an average over 30 years with the last year ending with a zero. After 2010 there will be updates.

    Has anyone ever wondered about the choice of years for averages or normals of climatic variables? In case you have but haven’t found the answer, here is one:
    “Climatologists define a climatic normal as the arithmetic average of a climate element such as temperature over a prescribed 30-year interval. The 30 year interval was selected by international agreement, based on the recommendations of the International Meteorological Conference in Warsaw in 1933. The 30 year interval is sufficiently long to filter out many of the short-term interannual fluctuations and anomalies, but sufficiently short so as to be used to reflect longer term climatic trends. Currently, the 30-year interval for calculating normals extends from 1971 to 2000.”
    http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~sco/normals.html
    Also, here: http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/26747.pdf
    ps: I re-post this about once a month.

  103. RR Kampen says:

    Re: Chris Schoneveld (05:59:43) :

    “Strictly speaking you are right but aren’t you splitting hairs? The quote (first noted in 1892 and attributed to Cornelia Augusta Hewitt Crosse) is particularly powerful exactly because statistics is supposed to be value-free but applied or interpreted wrongly could be used to deceive lay people.”

    Exactly. Statistics are in fact values, that is: numbers, and as such are value free.
    I don’t think this is splitting hairs (or ‘sorting mosquito’s’ as the saying in Holland sort of goes) because the quote itself is often used to deceive people! It is often employed to discourage the use of statistics wholesale. Or it is used as a final (instead of starting) argument to dismiss certain interpretations of statistics with.

  104. RR Kampen says:

    Re: Vincent (06:07:47) :

    “You say sea ice MAY be caused by increased snow and that this belongs to global warming. Then again it may NOT be snow based at all. ”

    Sure. Well, the theory isn’t mine. It was suggested by NASA scientists, a preview explains it here: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2005/sea_ice.html .

    It’s just a theory, in my opinion quite plausible though (though I admit the connection more precip there + GW is spurious). Another NASA-study found the sea-ice season around Antarctica to lengthen except around the Peninsula, coinciding with the warming there that is not found around the rest of the frozen continent.

  105. Urederra says:

    So, Antarctica must be like the negative zone, where everything works backwards. There is anthropogenic global warming everywhere except in Antarctica. Ice is melting everywhere except in Antarctica, where it is growing. On the other hand, August global temperatures were close to record levels, just because Antarctica temps were like 6 C higher than normal (there is a WUWT article about it), and yet Antarctic ice extent is growing. Antarctic physics seem to be different from the rest of the world. How is that ‘global’?

    And please, Flanagan, don’t reply saying that global warming is different from homogeneous warming, like you did at CA. CO2 was supposed to be a ‘well mixed gas’, meaning that its concentration is growing homogeneously, and the main cause of global warming and ice loss, except in Antarctica, apparently.

  106. Chris Schoneveld says:

    Indeed RR Kampen: “Muggenziften” (Sorting mosquitos) but I prefer the Dutch expression “Mierenneuken” (to F… Ants) which is an even more miniaturistic undertaking.

  107. Vincent says:

    Urederra:

    “So, Antarctica must be like the negative zone, where everything works backwards.”

    My God, It’s all clear now. Antarctica is at the South pole – opposite polarity you see. Comparing its behaviour to the Arctic is like comparing an electron to a positron. In the North, re-radiated IR causes the ground to warm, but in the Antarctic the CO2 re-radiates anti-IR which removes energy from the electrons in the ground, thus making it cooler. Therefore this cooling is an indication of rising CO2 levels. If we reduce CO2, the temperatures will start to rise.

    I shall start working on my research paper immediately.

  108. Adam Gallon says:

    Interesting article in yesterday’s The Sunday Telegraph.
    Extract from a new book by Sara Wheeler, called “The Magnetic North”
    Refering to the Greenland icecap, she says
    “Greenland’s frozen coating covers 80% of a country four times the size of France.Like the Musk Ox, summit ice is a relic of the last ice age.The cap has survived because its volume sustains its own climate. It reflects light & heat, its elevation keeps it cool and it is too largeto be dented by warm weather systems from the south. Its mass is even likely to protect it from substantial diminution as the climate warms, largely because increased melting at the margins will be offset by a rise in snowfall in the interior.”
    Bang goes the “Warmists” terror about a melting Greenland turning us into “Waterworld”?

  109. Richard says:

    Here is something I have noticed from drawing the graphs of the extents of the Arctic, haven’t got around to the Antarctic as yet, the total ice extent in 2009 is far more than the total ice extent of 2005 already, and the difference is getting bigger now as the freeze sets in. Though one would get the impression if one just looked at the minimum extent or even the averages for September that the ice in 2009 is less than that in 2005.

    This is absolutely clear visually if you plot the areas under the graphs.

    I suspect that the difference at the end of the year would be huge.

  110. Richard says:

    Total Arctic ice in 2009 upto 20th Sept = 4.4 million Km^2 more than 2008
    Total Arctic ice in 2009 upto 20th Sept = 54.3 million Km^2 more than 2005

  111. Paul Vaughan says:

    Adam Gallon (10:22:19) “[...] snowfall in the interior.”

    Good point — there’s too much focus on temperatures without sufficient awareness of, focus on, respect for, & appreciation of the power & complexities of the hydrologic cycle.

  112. George E. Smith says:

    I see that the Artic temperature had a big upstep; pretty wild gyration; well it is probably just a dead cat bounce to entice some sucker kayakers.

  113. Paul Vaughan says:

    Thanks for the illuminating link:

    RR Kampen (08:01:32) ” http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2005/sea_ice.html

    That article further clarifies that although many scientists may be playing politics for power & funding, many of them may be aware of the truth about north-south oscillations and the hydrologic cycle (even if they’re just starting to try to imagine the physics involved).

  114. Stephen Wilde says:

    See here for my opinion as to what the hydrological cycle really achieves:

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=3735

  115. Rereke Whakaaro says:

    D 13:00:09

    “… so why are the penguins dying. maybe because the scientists have “tagged” 70,000 and unknowingly interfered with normal penguin functions.”

    I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I sure don’t want sex with any TAGGED penguin!

  116. Tom P says:

    Bill Illis,

    From the latest paper on the GRACE ice-mass measurements:

    “We find that realistic constraints to the trend in ice mass loss derived from GRACE data determine a range of variation substantially wider than commonly stated, ranging from an important ice loss of -209 Gtyr-1 to an accumulation of +88 Gtyr-1 in Antarctica, and Greenland ablation at a rate between -122 and -50 Gtyr-1. However, if we adopt the set of most probable Earth parameters, we infer a substantial mass loss in both regions, -171 +/- 39 and -101 +/- 22 Gtyr-1 for Antarctica and Greenland, respectively.”

    Geophysical Journal International, Volume 172, Issue 1, pp. 18-30, 2008

    So although there are uncertainties mainly, as you say, from quantifying the post-glacial rebound, GRACE indicates that both Antarctica and Greenland are probably losing ice mass.

  117. E.M.Smith says:

    Bulldust (21:45:06) : NOTE: Three nations are clearly exempt from using the “Gore” as they are so scientifically, let us say, eclectic as to not have adopted the SI system.

    Not so much “eclectic” as allowing personal freedom. You are free here in the USA to use SI units if they work better for you, or any other units you find convenient. For most folks, things with sizes in the 1 to 10 range are easiest and up to 100 works, but is uncomfortable. So 1 lb of butter or 1 gallon of milk are more convenient than 500 gm or 4000 ml. (Though 4 L is workable, but the 250 ml cup of coffee is a pain…) I regularly use both systems, picking the one that is easiest for any particular task. BTW, this effect is why many Europeans still ask for a pound of butter when it is 500 gms that is being sold.

    Now, for ‘in your head math’ it turns out that numbers with lots of factors work better since you end up doing fractions eventually and that helps a great deal. That 1, 2, 5, 10 set of factors is not so useful when you need a 1/3 of it… and don’t have a calculator. It is also the case that if you do fractions you can hold a much greater precision and accuracy all the way through your math even if done with pencil and paper or computer. Then you only take a conversion error once at the end when you convert to the less precise decimal notation. 1/3 is exact. 0.333333 not so much…

    You find 360 used as the basis for many “traditional” units, so you get lots of factors to work with. (The yard is 36 inches, or 360 1/10 ths. The standard of precision for many uses is the 1/10 th inch; though for other uses you can use the 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 or even 1/12 divisions if you like) Many of these can be exactly engraved with a compass. That, btw, is why the F scale is the range it is. Ease of engraving the glass from two temperature standards via division with a compass.

    Another “feature” is that since fractions are rather precise, you don’t end up in the land of False Precision by believing all those digits on the electronic display. Most of the time you ought to set “fixed 2″ if at all possible since most of the time the majority of the digits on the calculator are a lie. Few things were ever input as 10 digit or more numbers… But if you end up with a fraction like 3/12457 you know it is exactly correct and precise.

    Then there is also the rather interesting factoid that you can make an English Foot (via the Rod) with fairly decent precision any time you want anywhere on the planet with a couple of sticks, a bit of string, and a night sky. Oh, and you get a clock and time standard to boot…

    So lets say we had a new ice age and civilization took a big hit. Think it might be convenient to be able to make a very accurate time standard and a very accurate length standard (and thus derived very accurate area and volume standards; that then yield very accurate mass and weight standards, and…) using little more than “found materials”? That is the virtue of the English Rod (or Pole) and thus the foot.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/making-an-english-foot/

    Then there is also the curious factoid that the English foot is rather directly related to the size of the globe. From:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/chasing-the-greek-foot/

    Where we find that the Greek foot of antiquity is almost exactly the same as the English foot and the Minoan foot … think about it… Beginning to realize that this is not about the shoe size of an English king?

    the Greeks and Egyptians had a measure named a ‘foot’ (pous) that is almost the same as the English foot. (Within a couple of mm 304.8 for the Engish, 304 mm for the Minoan, 308.4 for the Attic, 300 for the Egyptian and Phoenician, etc.)

    Take a look at the Minoan vs English. 0.8 mm difference over a few thousand years of history. I’ve got to think that being buried in volcanic debris might mess up your calibration in the 4th decimal place too…

    This lead me to the factoid that if you take the earth’s equatorial circumference in ‘feet’ (English) as 131479724.6 (from the wiki metric number, converted) and divide it by 360 x 1000 (call it 60 minutes x 60 seconds x 100 or call it 360 degrees x 1000) you get: 365.2214573

    Gee, that looks familiar, I think… Dividing by ‘tropical year days’ of 365.2422 gives 99.994% agreement. Hmmmm….

    (If the English foot were 304.7828 mm, which rounds to 304.8, the agreement would be 100.0000% which is inside the error band of 304.8 so it is possible that the original English foot is exact and the metric conversion is not precise enough to capture that…)

    So please, do not bother to tell those of us who admire the strength of science as done in the past, who admire the elegance of the way it was done, and who are astonished at what was done with little more than sticks and stones 4000+ years ago, that there is anything at all inferior or inadequate about the quality of the minds that created those systems nor the quality of the product they produced.

    If you do, you might just end up with a lecture on the folly of False Precision, the benefits of fractions in math vs decimal math, and the incredibly poor science as done today (i.e. GIStemp – Calculators Gone Wild).

    I will, however, be polite about it and not point out that the original meter was measured wrong, twice, and is not in conformance with the original definition and so it can not be recreated via simple means and is more poorly related to the polar circumference than the English Foot is to the equatorial circumference…

    Oh, and for advanced credit: Want to know why there were several different cubits and related measures in the ancient world?

    They didn’t have a lot of calculating equipment, but did need to deal with irrational numbers in construction and navigation. So they often built those numbers into the measuring device. You used one cubit for the sides, another for the hypotenuse on a pyramid, for example. You find relationships of root 2 and Pi in different rulers.

    There were also different lengths used for latitude vs longitude distances to allow for the variation due to the oblateness of the planet in surveying. There were also differences based on which circle of latitude you were at ( “N” degrees gives a different absolute distance…) So it wasn’t so much that the ancients were ignorant and had not any standard length; it was more that they had a very good standard and then made self calculating rulers for other uses based on it. We still do this to some extent with the shipping nautical mile. It is a unit of arc, the exact length of which changes based on your latitude and the local oblateness. On a ship, you can measure the arc. Actual length, not so well…

    This same technique is still used today in casting too. The rulers used to make the molds are “adapted” by the expected contraction of the metal as it sets. You make a 10 unit mold (that is 10 units on the measure) that is really larger than 10 SI units so that the final product is, in fact, 10 SI units. It saves endlessly doing the same calculation with the same coefficients over and over. This was even more important in the age prior to calculators and when few people did much math. Still important in casting shops.

    We were just a bit too daft to figure out the elegance of the system for a few hundred years…

    The more I have looked into ancient metrology, the more impressed I have become. And no, I will never, ever, give it up. They worked too hard to make it “just right”… It deserves preserving.

  118. Russ R. says:

    Your daily propaganda, delivered to you by Seth Borenstein.

    Brace yourselves; It’s worse than we thought.

    We have to resort to “warm water is melting glaciers” to keep the gravy train on the tracks.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090923/ap_on_sc/us_sci_big_melt_2

    Seth has lost his hold on reality. He needs an intervention.

  119. Dick says:

    Confusion reigns! “I’m all in favor of bashing the press which seems to have lost the ability to think for itself. ” It’s this kind of comment that contributes to it. The press is in part messenger and in part commentator. It’s important to distinguish between the two.

  120. Carrie says:

    You have to look at the overall picture, ~snip~. Like the fact that arctic ice levels have showed a HUGE decline over the last 30 years. And the fact that mountains that used to be covered with snow no longer get ANY snow. And that glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates overall. If you take just ONE section of the world for ONE year, you are missing the big picture. Why are polar bears drowning all of a sudden, after living just fine for thousands of years in the arctic?

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