New paper: AGW may save us from the next ice age

As mentioned in our WUWT story earlier today Increased CO2 Emissions Will Delay Next Ice Age the official press release is now out at Eurekalert and published below. I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth already. Bottom line, you can manage a hot summer, but you can’t get out of the way of tons of ice. Unfortunately, the authors find a way to make this out to be bad news, by suggesting Antarctica is melting. So far, we’ve seen no evidence of that. In fact Antarctic Sea Ice is trending upwards in the past 30 years:

Graph source: Cryosphere Today

From the University of Florida

Global warming caused by greenhouse gases delays natural patterns of glaciation, researchers say

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are disrupting normal patterns of glaciation, according to a study co-authored by a University of Florida researcher and published online Jan. 8 in Nature Geoscience.

The Earth’s current warm period that began about 11,000 years ago should give way to another ice age within about 1,500 years, according to accepted astronomical models. However, current levels of carbon dioxide are trapping too much heat in the atmosphere to allow the Earth to cool as it has in its prehistoric past in response to changes in Earth’s orbital pattern. The research team, a collaboration among University College London, University of Cambridge and UF, said their data indicate that the next ice age will likely be delayed by tens of thousands of years.

That may sound like good news, but it probably isn’t, said Jim Channell, distinguished professor of geology at UF and co-author.

“Ice sheets like those in western Antarctica are already destabilized by global warming,” said Channell. “When they eventually slough off and become a part of the ocean’s volume, it will have a dramatic effect on sea level.” Ice sheets will continue to melt until the next phase of cooling begins in earnest.

The study looks at the prehistoric climate-change drivers of the past to project the onset of the next ice age. Using astronomical models that show Earth’s orbital pattern with all of its fluctuations and wobbles over the last several million years, astronomers can calculate the amount of solar heat that has reached the Earth’s atmosphere during past glacial and interglacial periods.

“We know from past records that Earth’s orbital characteristics during our present interglacial period are a dead ringer for orbital characteristics in an interglacial period 780,000 years ago,” said Channell. The pattern suggests that our current period of warmth should be ending within about 1,500 years.

However, there is a much higher concentration of greenhouse gases trapping the sun’s heat in the Earth’s atmosphere now than there was in at least the last several million years, he said. So the cooling that would naturally occur due to changes in the Earth’s orbital characteristics are unable to turn the temperature tide.

Over the past million years, the Earth’s carbon dioxide levels, as recorded in ice core samples, have never reached more than 280 parts per million in the atmosphere. “We are now at 390 parts per million,” Channell said. The sudden spike has occurred in the last 150 years.

For millions of years, carbon dioxide levels have ebbed and flowed between ice ages. Orbital patterns initiate periods of warming that cause ocean circulation to change. The changes cause carbon dioxide-rich water in the deep ocean to well up toward the surface where the carbon dioxide is released as a gas back into the atmosphere. The increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide then drives further warming and eventually the orbital pattern shifts again and decreases the amount of solar heat that reaches the Earth.

“The problem is that now we have added to the total amount of CO2 cycling through the system by burning fossil fuels,” said Channell. “The cooling forces can’t keep up.”

Channell said that the study, funded by the National Science Foundation in the U.S, and the Research Council of Norway and the Natural Environment Research Council in the United Kingdom, brings to the forefront the importance of atmospheric carbon dioxide because it shows the dramatic effect that it is having on a natural cycle that has controlled our Earth’s climate for millions of years.

“We haven’t seen this high concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere for several million years,” Channell said. “All bets are off.”

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79 Responses to New paper: AGW may save us from the next ice age

  1. Steven Rosenberg says:

    This strikes me as a Trojan horse to legitimize AGW: being lulled into pointing to human-generated CO2 as being a good thing, thereby buying into AGW. IT’S A TRAP! A stupid, trap, but a trap nonetheless. But if there’s no AGW, there can be no “Ice Age Retardation.”

  2. tokyoboy says:

    “Unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are …” ??
    “current levels of carbon dioxide are trapping too much heat in the atmosphere…” ???

  3. George says:

    Antarctica was glaciated 12 million years ago when both temperatures and CO2 levels were much higher than today.

  4. THEY MAKE IT SOUND LIKE A BAD THING????

    evidently nobody remembers when cooling was all the rage in the early 1970s scientists were discussing how that would mean a destabilization of the Antarctic ice sheets

    We need to add history of science to every PhD curriculum otherwise they will look like complete fools and especially now the internet forgets nothing.

  5. Phillip Bratby says:

    Doomed if we do, doomed if we don’t. Best just hand over the money now.

  6. a jones says:

    Oh dear. How divorced from reality and empirical evidence can these people become?

    Need i say more?

    Kindest Regards

  7. George says:

    “brings to the forefront the importance of atmospheric carbon dioxide because it shows the dramatic effect that it is having on a natural cycle that has controlled our Earth’s climate for millions of years.”

    IF you buy the speculation that CO2 has an impact. I’m not convinced that it does. We went into the current glacial period right about the time the Drake Passage and the Isthmus of Panama appeared not requiring any great drop in CO2 levels.

    What is happening here is that speculation is being built upon speculation and is walking thinking out into left field. These people can honestly say with a straight face that all these changes are occurring by looking at what amounts to less than 100 years of data? I’d say they’re crazy.

  8. nevket240 says:

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/technology/8400117/species-lag-in-climate-change-shift

    NOT so fast dudes. Europe is warming so fast that all the researchers can do now is relax in their new condo’s in Monaco. Will Europe be the only part of the globe to stay Ice free?? stay tuned.
    ((when your funds are short, tell a tall tale))

    regards

  9. philincalifornia says:

    ” …….. brings to the forefront the importance of atmospheric carbon dioxide because it shows the dramatic effect that it is having on a natural cycle ….”

    Hello idiots. What would that present tense dramatic effect be again ??

  10. Alan the Brit says:

    Yawn, fell off stool, hit floor, then went back to sleep. For minute I thought there was something interesting to read!!!!! Where do they come from I really do not know! Last I heard that “scientists” & “experts” were claiming that due to orbital mechanics the Earth would not enter another ice-age for 50,000-100,000 years! :-)

  11. Maurizio Morabito (omnologos) said @ January 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    “evidently nobody remembers when cooling was all the rage in the early 1970s scientists were discussing how that would mean a destabilization of the Antarctic ice sheets”

    Some of us remember. The Git also remembers going to school in the 60s with Frank Morabito.

    Perhaps we need to change the language used; we are restoring carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, not adding it.

  12. Mr Rosenberg cuts straight to the heart of the matter. Surely any discussion of this paper should be on an “If….Then….” basis.

  13. Richard Keen says:

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere …
    Ever heard of the Carboniferous?
    …it shows the dramatic effect that it (CO2) is having on a natural cycle that has controlled our Earth’s climate for millions of years.
    Shows the effect of something 1500 years from now? They invented a time machine?
    The only true statement in this whole article is…
    .. the study, funded by the National Science Foundation …
    And we taxpayers are paying for more of this nonsense.

  14. Leon Brozyna says:

    Look at that first word in the press release … unprecedented.

    Horsefeathers.

    When the next Ice Age begins, scientists will be tripping over each other in a rush to show how their own cherished thinking warned that it was coming. Hopefully, if it’s a thousand years in the future, they might even get it right.

  15. ferd berple says:

    Over the past million years, the Earth’s carbon dioxide levels, as recorded in ice core samples, have never reached more than 280 parts per million in the atmosphere. “We are now at 390 parts per million,”

    Not true. The ice cores do not show we are now at 390 parts per million. The study is confusing two different measurements made with two different instruments. One taken in the polar regions, the other from an active volcano. One low band-pass the other high band-pass.

    Like listening to music, one sample with the bass turned up, the other with the treble turned up, then claiming one sound nothing like the other.

  16. DirkH says:

    Oh good, more bad news. Natural patterns disturbed, very bad, that means more funding, and that’s good. It’s probably unethical to disturb a natural pattern, hey, make that a crime against humanity. Even when it’s good for humanity.

    Phil, we have a PR problem…

  17. Doug Cotton says:

    I always think it’s amusing when AGW proponents don’t seem to agree among themselves. In this article we have carbon dioxide “trapping too much heat in the atmosphere.” Well. the atmosphere in total holds a mere 4% of the thermal energy in the land+ocean+atmosphere system. And, if it gets temporarily warmer, what’s to stop it radiating away the extra energy? But, as I said, they can’t agree – for others say its the backradiation warming the surface, and yet others that its “Ocean Heat Content” building up.

    Well, actually it’s none of the above that is caused by carbon dioxide, because it is physically impossible for backradiation to warm the surface, and if the energy is going into warming the atmosphere there would not be enough left for all the backradiation which they are out there measuring – or at least think they are measuring. Funny how direct sunlight seems to have nothing to do with it.

  18. thepompousgit – “Frank” must be the most common first-name associated to the Morabito family 8-)

    And I wonder if it’s time for stickers such as “Burn gas! Restore the CO2 natural balance! Prevent an ice age!”

  19. AndyG55 says:

    “Over the past million years, the Earth’s carbon dioxide levels, as recorded in ice core samples, have never reached more than 280 parts per million in the atmosphere. ”

    That’s because all the CO2 that was originally meant to be in the atmosphere, GOT BURIED !!!

    CO2 has been balanced precariously, just above plant-subsistence levels.

    Thanks to us humans, the proper, intended, balance is gradually being rectified.

  20. sophocles says:

    I’ve just finished reading Prof Brian Fagin’s book “The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850.”
    After that, I can say with absolute certainty: I like this warmth … a LOT! In fact, I LOVE this warmth… leave it alone! It’s great, wonderful, comfortable and not everyone is starving! Don’t mess with it!

    We’re in an Ice Age, in an interglacial warm period. One thing is certain: the glaciers will come back. I don’t mind at all if they can leave things as they are for the rest of my lifetime :-). If it takes CO2 to make this warmth, then light some more bonfires!

  21. the_Butcher says:

    “We haven’t seen this high concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere for several million years,”

    So we see it again, and?

  22. Baa Humbug says:

    The worrying thing is, when this scam is finally exposed, we’re just not going to have enough rope.

  23. Al Gored says:

    So slick. Now they can conveniently explain any cooling cycles, forever. Its that coming Ice Age overwhelming AGW, while that lasts. Keeps the AGW story alive but I can’t see how it helps the CO2 warriors/industry… unless they can somehow fool people into thinking colder is better.

    That will be some trick.

    Maybe it needs to get colder to kill off terrorists or some demonic Facebook virus. I’m sure they’ll think of something.

  24. Edim says:

    Yeah right. LOL.

  25. A. Scott says:

    IF CO2 has any net warming effect on a long term basis, rather than trailing temperature, it would make some sense in theory at least that it could be a contributor to the current seemingly delayed descent into another glacial period.

    By many indications it would seem we are overdue, especially when compared to past cycles patterns. But this time – while we’ve seen the relatively steep temperature increase – for some reason it leveled, at a point below the peak seen in the last recent interglacial maximums.

    The temp has leveled and remained within a small (comparatively) range for about the last 12,000 or so years. As opposed to the normal sharp peak and following immediate sharp descent into the glacial period.

    This activity intrigues me. Clearly it is not AGW related as there was no significant anthropogenic effect 15,000 years ago. Something capped the increase in temps below the typical glacial peak and has also kept them suspended at that point – preventing them from the normal sharp descent to the glacial period. The record seems to indicate an unusual equilibrium.

    That is, what seems to me, what makes the warmists narrow focus on the last few or few hundred years so silly. Even IF you use the hockey stick the warming shown is well within the natural variability of the last 12,000 or more years of overall stable temperatures. Even the hockey sticks warming does not exceed that range of natural variability.

    How any of the warming cabal (or any AGW proponent) can ignore the last 12,000 years of stable temps and the fact the recent warming falls well within that range is beyond me.

  26. Larry Fields says:

    Color me old-school. As a card-carrying AGW bah-humbug, I look upon this latest study with a jaundiced eye.

    At the moment, the reality is that the warming effect of GHGs is completely swamped out by natural variability. As compared with the background temperature ‘noise’, AGW is so bloody minuscule that we can’t even measure it. This study does not alter that fact.

    One of my concerns is that my fellow Climate Realists will trumpet this study. If some of us do that, we’d appear to be two-faced: AGW only works when we want it to!

    There are reasonable PARTIAL mitigation steps that we can take to blunt the full fury of the next Big Glacial Advance (BGA). One obvious approach is to estimate the full extent of the continental ice sheets. Then build a ring of dirty, old-fashioned, coal-fired power plants just South of that zone {in the Nth hemisphere) in the early stages of that BGA. At the height of the continental glaciers, we could fire up these power plants during the Summer, on sunny days when the wind is blowing in a Northerly direction.

    Depositing lots of nice, black soot on the melting ice would decrease the albedo, increase the rate of the melting process, and increase the habitability zone a bit. Hey, creating a habitation ring that’s a few extra miles wide across the major continents is better than nothing!

    On less favorable days, we could jack up the modern methane-burning power plants for peak loads. And of course, we should have the nuclear power plants on all of the time to supply most of the base load. Yes, there would be redundancy, and that would drive up costs somewhat. But that would be a reasonable price to pay for a slightly increased habitability zone, eh? :-)

  27. Morph says:

    Richard Black is already out of the blocks, all over the BBC this morning with interviews of the paper’s authors and a big splash. Don’t remember this being done when a paper suggests something different.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16439807

  28. John Marshall says:

    And during the Ordovicean , with atmospheric CO2 content at around 8000ppmv, there was a severe ice age.

  29. John V. Wright says:

    Some of the best AGW fun to be had these days is listening to the BBC stumbling their way through these news reports. This morning on the Today programme, John Humphreys hurried through an interview with some hapless warmist scientist, inviting him to explain why a planet that is warming enough to stave off the next Ice Age is a bad thing.

    Folks, it was hilarious. The toe-curling embarrassment of a senior presenter like Humphreys having to ditch his journalistic principles to allow this flapping scientist his five minutes of warmist propaganda was evident. And it was tucked away at the end of the show so that not too many people would hear it.

    How BBC journalists can look the British public in the eye over AGW when their coverage is biased, disengenuous and unbalanced is beyond me.

  30. SunderlandSteve says:

    “Ice sheets will continue to melt until the next phase of cooling begins in earnest.”

    And then we’ll really be in the shit!

  31. Old Goat says:

    Needless to say, the BBC were all over this on the Toady programme – Richard (Push-the-Meme) Black was in his element. Apparently, there’ll be no further ice ages, because we’ve pushed CO2 to the limit and it will only get warmer, thanks to us miserable humans daring to live. Even the interviewer (John Humphrys, who is old and experienced enough, surely, to know better) said that he didn’t realise that there could be another ice age. Do these people no read at all, did they not go to school? Are they not aware of the planet’s cyclical climatic history? And combatting the next ice age won’t be an advantage to us at all, because it will become uncomfortably hot….

  32. clivehbest says:

    Human civilization neatly fits into the last inter-glacial period (10,000 years). The previous 90,000 years was a glacial period, and this cycle has repeated itself for the last million years. What remains a complete mystery still is the origin of 100,000 year main cycle. From 3 million to 1 million years ago the glaciations lasted 41,000 years and there was no evidence of a 100,000 year signal. Milankowitz cycles can explain the 41,000 year cycle which is due to the change in obliquity of the Earth’s axis. Everyone then assumes that the 100,000 year signal is due to the change in eccentricity of the ellipitical orbit of the Earth. Hoever, it just doesn’t work out as the net annual solar radiation hardly changes. Hence the claim that CO2 drives the ice age. However if that really were the case – then why did this not apply for 2/3 of the Pleistocene ?

    Where I do agree with the authors is that cooling towards the next ice age is due to begin in 2000 years time. However, to fully offset the catastrophic effects of new glaciation, I calculate CO2 levels would need to rise to ~700 ppm and then be kept at that level for another 90,000 years.

    more about all this at this at clivebest.com/blog

  33. Beesaman says:

    The arrogance of humanity is beyond belief!
    First to think that we could have more influence over global temperatures than the sun and natural cooling and warming cycles and now to think that we could stop an ice age by increasing a trace gas that plants might thrive on but will have inconsequential effects on warming.
    Just think about the amount of energy we would have to use to break up vast ice sheets as they spread south from the Arctic. It is about as plausible as plugging a volcano or stopping an earthquake. Next it will be trying to stop earthquakes and tsunamis from happening or why not how to prevent lightning or tornadoes?
    Human beings should get over themselves and start dealing with the consequences of natural events not the causes.

  34. Mark Penn says:

    One of this papers protagonists was on BBC R4 this morning (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0194dj5 if you care to listen, adout 2 hours 45 minutes in). Apparently, not only have we saved ourselves from an ice age but we have gone too far and are in even graver danger! Its all based on models (assumption), predictions (assumption) and theory (assumptions) . I think even arch warmist John Humprys was struggling to hide his incredulity with this interview.

    This is pure propaganda dressed up as science (as usual).

    By the way, Hi, from a long term reader of the site.

  35. Bloke down the pub says:

    This does sound like they are trying to create a fall-back position for when everyone starts to realise that increasing CO₂ doesn’t result in the increased temperatures they promised.

  36. Allan MacRae says:

    Posted recently at
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/08/increased-co2-emissions-will-delay-next-ice-age/#more-54312

    Excerpt:

    Analysis of Claim, based on Nature’s track record:

    When is the last time Nature was right about anything to do with global warming, aka climate change? I honestly cannot remember any, but then I stopped reading Nature some time ago.
    _________________________________

    Antarctica is melting – be very frightened!

    This paper appears to be really silly – not worth reading.

    As usual, Nature (the journal) seldom fails to disappoint.

    Wish I could call the stock market this well.

  37. Richard M says:

    The problem is these guys keep forgetting to consider gravity. For CO2 to produce more warming is has to be carried higher in the atmosphere. For that to happen it has to fight the force of gravity. Adding more CO2 makes that more difficult as it is the energy of the atmosphere that lifts heavier gases like CO2. At some point the energy available is maxed out (Just like a one stage rocket, adding more fuel adds more weight and doesn’t help gain a higher altitude).

    We have already reached the maximum greenhouse effect and adding more CO2 will only make plants happy.

  38. Brian H says:

    Thanks for featuring this distasteful report. It is truly offensively stupid, but we readers of WUWT have to be reminded once in a while just how g-awful the nonsense being fed to the public (including the “Scientific public”) really is.

    The horror of the thought of being without the Web, and WUWT in particular, to shield against the assault on sanity and survival, is unspeakable.

  39. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    The total solar Irradiance on the earth is 1366 watts. The area under the curve of the solar spectrum.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_Spectrum.png

    The amount absorbed by co2 is just a fraction of the area. How is this tiny bit of the spectrum supposed to be making any difference to the Earths temperature????

    The amount of co2 in the atmosphere is minute and the radiation absorbed is minute.
    Back radiation will be minute squared.

  40. “Unfortunately, the authors find a way to make this out to be bad news, by suggesting Antarctica is melting. So far, we’ve seen no evidence of that. In fact Antarctic Sea Ice is trending upwards in the past 30 years:”

    If most of Antarctica was sea ice that might be true, but since sea ice is only a fringe along a far larger ice sheet, which is in fact losing mass overall, your point is moot.
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v2/n12/abs/ngeo694.html
    The very small sea ice increase is not enough to compensate for the large loss of land ice on the continent.

    The Cryosphere Today website you linked to also showed that global sea ice is going down:
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg

    fred berple:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/08/new-paper-agw-may-save-us-from-the-next-ice-age/#comment-858244
    “One taken in the polar regions, the other from an active volcano.”

    You do realize that there are dozens and dozens of CO2 monitors all over the world, not just the one at Mauna Loa, and that they all agree to within a few ppmv? In fact, the one that has been around the longest is in fact in Antarctica. Mauna Loa is the one cited because while it started a few years later, it has the longest *continuous* record, while the one in Antarctica had a few years of no data decades ago. They show the same increase in CO2.

  41. TimC says:

    Interestingly, the recent article on Sir Fred Hoyle’s 1999 paper (see the link below) showed that he and Prof Wickramasinghe thought glacial conditions would persist due to increased albedo until some catastrophic event occurred such as impact of a comet-sized object into an ocean. The water thrown into the atmosphere would then create greenhouse effect sufficient (presumably with associated feedbacks) to initiate a new interglacial rapidly and discontinuously – seeking not to quote the paper too much!

    Here is the link:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/08/increased-co2-emissions-will-delay-next-ice-age/

    If Hoyle’s was right in 1999, presumably such an impact at any time during an interglacial will have the same effect and also delay glaciation. However, for myself I’d far prefer gentle, logarithmic, anthropogenic CO2 warming, which I expect humankind will anyway have the technology to be able to control within the next century or two. If CO2 theory is right our politicians will then be able to set the earth’s thermostat to whatever they all agree on … (hmmm – did I really just say that)?

  42. There are three false assumptions in the CAGW model for global warming. 1. The rate of accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere is 100% attributable to anthropogenic emissions. 2. That the rise in atmospheric CO2 is reducing the rate of energy lost to space. 3. That our present observed atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are the highest they have been in the last million years based on air extracted from ice cores. This paper falls apart on all three.

  43. aaron says:

    Change is bad… m’kay.

  44. Joules Verne says:

    If CO2 isn’t warming the globe then we’ll have to invent some other way to do it.

    That’s pretty much the bottom line. Absent anthropogenic intervention the Holocene interglacial will end and much of the densly populated nothern hemisphere will be covered by hundreds of meters of ice. Maybe some Europeans long for the days when they made living hunting wooly mammoths on the glaciers that covered northern Europe. Or maybe they are dangerously deluded kool-aid drinkers that are stupidly proposing things to cool a globe that is going to freeze anyway unless we do something to stop it.

  45. Interstellar Bill says:

    I’ll re-post the idea that all we need to stop the next Ice Age
    is to drop plane loads of coal dust on the incipient glaciers,
    particularly in Labrador and Northern Europe,
    from whence the last glaciations began their march south,
    and it all starts with leftover snow accumulating every year.
    Once that starts more CO2 won’t prevent the next Glaciation.

  46. Big Dave says:

    I think it is very odd that anyone would find a cold, nearly plantless world to be preferable to a warm, abundant environment albeit with slightly reduced shorelines.

    Who are these people and why don’t they use the brains they were entrusted with?

    Cheers,
    Big Dave 

  47. higley7 says:

    Ice core CO2 readings should NEVER be considered absolute. Samples are much too traumatized to even pretend that the CO2 contained is retained unchanged. Even Jaworowski, the world’s authority on ice cores indicated that there is 30-50% losses of CO2 from ice cores during extraction.

    If you take the ice core readings and back calculate the losses, we end up with atmospheric CO2 the same or higher than today!

    As plants fail to grow much below 220 ppm, why would these clowns think that we have been flirting with planetary death when it is quite clear that plants have been growing quite steadily and consistently for millions and millions of years.

    And there is clear evidence that CO2 has been many times higher than now during the vast majority of the last 600 million years.

    These guys buy into the junk science graph of CO2 being consistently low until just recently.

    They also assume vast amounts of heat is retained by a small increase in a trace gas and assume that we will put off the next ice age for 10,000 years. Where do they go to score their weed?

  48. Sparks says:

    There are only theories and speculation that we will ever have another Ice-age or not, But I have an experiment for the idea that man made CO2 will prevent the next Ice age if we were to have one.

    Items that you will need for this experiment.
    a. 1 large balloon filled with man made Carbon dioxide.
    b. 1 freight train.
    c. 1 tray of large eggs (ostrich eggs would be best for effect).

    The idea is that you place the large balloon in front of the tray of eggs to prevent the freight train from smashing into them, so that you will not get egg on your face.

    If you end up with egg on your face then you should conclude from this experiment that a very small quantity of man made atmospheric gases compared to the effective volume of the entire Earths atmosphere consisting of other gases are no match for the enormous forces such as those that theoretically produce cyclical ice-ages.

  49. Colin in BC says:

    From the various comments, it seems I wasn’t the only one who had difficulty reading the article. It’s amazing really, that humans haven’t really moved on from the days when it was believed the sun and planets revolved around the Earth. Human-centric theories, such as AGW, simply continue to perpetuate the general meme, that humans are central figures in Nature. The hubris is amazing.

  50. TonyK says:

    OK, so let me get this straight – On the one hand we can live in a world with more CO2 where plants grow better and temperatures are somewhat higher, although perhaps some areas may or may not be a bit too hot for comfort. On the other hand we can live in a world with less CO2 where plants grow poorly and temperatures are considerably lower, with the UK and large parts of North America are under thousands of metres of ice. Now let me think…….
    Honestly, how can anyone get excited about this? Just compare man’s technological capability of 1500 years ago with today. Now project that increase forwards another 1500 years. This is like hearing about a traffic holdup on a road you’re going to drive on next week – by the time you get there, the problem will have been solved – if there was even a problem in the first place!

  51. David Middleton says:

    Robert Murphy says:
    January 9, 2012 at 6:07 am
    “Unfortunately, the authors find a way to make this out to be bad news, by suggesting Antarctica is melting. So far, we’ve seen no evidence of that. In fact Antarctic Sea Ice is trending upwards in the past 30 years:”

    If most of Antarctica was sea ice that might be true, but since sea ice is only a fringe along a far larger ice sheet, which is in fact losing mass overall, your point is moot.
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v2/n12/abs/ngeo694.html
    The very small sea ice increase is not enough to compensate for the large loss of land ice on the continent.

    [...]

    Let’s just assume that Chen et al., 2009 is correct: Antarctica is losing 190 ± 77 Gt of ice mass per year. Let’s also assume that 1 Gt of ice = 1 km^3 of ice.

    One of the things about using GRACE measurements to calculate changes in ice mass is that you have to adjust the data for something called “Post Glacial Rebound” (PGR). I don’t have a full-text copy of Chen’s paper handy; but I do have a copy of Velicogna & Wahr, 2006. They determined that the PGR was 192 ± 79 km3/year. The net ice loss equals the measured ice loss minus the PGR. So, Chen’s net ice loss basically equals the PGR. GRACE is measuring no change in Antarctic ice mass.

    But, just for fun. Let’s assume that Antarctica is losing 190 Gt of ice mass per year. 190 Gt sounds like a really big number, doesn’t it?

    360 Gt of ice melt will yield 1 mm of sea level rise. 190 Gt is good for ~0.5 mm/yr of sea level rise.

    The volume of ice in the Antarctic ice cap is ~30,000,000 km3. 190 Gt is 0.0006% of 30 million km3. GRACE is measuring no net change in the ice mass; yet a 0.0006% annual change is being calculated from the PGR adjustment.

    At 0.0006% per year, Antarctica will have lost 0.06% of its ice mass by the end of this century! And sea level will have risen by… (drum roll)… 46 millimeters!!!… Almost 2 inches!!!

  52. Dave Wendt says:

    “Over the past million years, the Earth’s carbon dioxide levels, as recorded in ice core samples, have never reached more than 280 parts per million in the atmosphere. “We are now at 390 parts per million,” Channell said. The sudden spike has occurred in the last 150 years.”

    A recent paper about ice cores at Dome A in Antarctica

    http://www.igsoc.org/journal/current/207/j11J138.pdf

    suggests that annual ice accumulation there, which is reputedly one of the slowest accumulating locations on the continent, is about 1 inch/yr

    ” Using two known volcanic stratigraphic markers, the mean accumulation rate during the period AD 1260–1964 is found to be 23.2 mm w.e. a –1, consistent with the previously reported accumulation rate at Dome A.”

    The length of time since there has been a significant continental melting opportunity in Antarctica is the subject of a great deal of speculation, but from what I’ve seen the estimates range from 1-3 million years. taking the lowball number of 1 million and 1inch/ year, since it is given in water equivalent the greater volume of ice should cover for compression effects and any long term variations, you end up with a figure for ice accumulation without opportunity of melting of nearly 16 miles depth. The CW is that the current icecap is 1 mile+/- deep across most all of the continent. This suggests that about 95% of ice that has accumulated over the last million years is now gone, most probably by the same manner which it is leaving now i. e. by extruding flows out to coastal ice sheets. My question is this, disregarding for the moment the multitude of possible problems with extracting accurate CO2 information from ice cores, how do you assume you can capture a million years of data from cores which can’t possibly cover that timescale? I would point out that I’ve seen estimated accumulation rates for other areas that range up to 6 inches/year. Combine those with the high end 3 million year duration and you are talking about hundreds of miles of ice that may have come and gone

  53. Robert Brown says:

    “Ice sheets like those in western Antarctica are already destabilized by global warming,” said Channell. “When they eventually slough off and become a part of the ocean’s volume, it will have a dramatic effect on sea level.” Ice sheets will continue to melt until the next phase of cooling begins in earnest.

    Of course, melting sea ice changes sea level by how much, exactly? Would that be “zero”?

    It would.

    Or are they suggesting that land ice in Antarctica is melting? Don’t be absurd!

    rgb

  54. Graeme No.3 says:

    John Marshall says:
    January 9, 2012 at 2:15 am
    And during the Ordovicean there was a severe ice age. Agreed, although I thought the figure was 4000-4200 ppm CO2.
    In the late Carboniferous 350 ppm CO2 didn’t stop an ice age starting. During the later Jurassic there was an Antarctic ice cap (for 13 million years) despite over 2,000 ppm CO2.
    Our current Antarctic ice cap formed over 30 million years ago, when there was 1000 ppm CO2.
    We slid into this current 2-3 million really cold time from 450-500 ppm CO2.

    The chances of this claim being true can be calculated by totalling the numbers of holidaymakers going to the Mediterranean or the Caribbean and dividing it into the number choosing to holiday in Svalbard or Baffin Island. Multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

  55. “but I do have a copy of Velicogna & Wahr, 2006. They determined that the PGR was 192 ± 79 km3/year. The net ice loss equals the measured ice loss minus the PGR. So, Chen’s net ice loss basically equals the PGR. GRACE is measuring no change in Antarctic ice mass.”

    The abstract of that paper:
    (Measurements of Time-Variable Gravity Show Mass Loss in Antarctica)
    “Using measurements of time-variable gravity from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites, we determined mass variations of the Antarctic ice sheet during 2002–2005. We found that the mass of the ice sheet decreased significantly, at a rate of 152 ± 80 cubic kilometers of ice per year, which is equivalent to 0.4 ± 0.2 millimeters of global sea-level rise per year. Most of this mass loss came from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.”

    Velicogna had a paper in 2009 which confirmed that Antarctica was losing ice:
    (Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE)
    “We use monthly measurements of time-variable gravity from the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite gravity mission to determine the ice mass-loss for the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets during the period between April 2002 and February 2009. We find that during this time period the mass loss of the ice sheets is not a constant, but accelerating with time, i.e., that the GRACE observations are better represented by a quadratic trend than by a linear one, implying that the ice sheets contribution to sea level becomes larger with time.”

    From the conclusion:

    “We showed that a detailed analysis of the GRACE time series over the time period 2002–2009 unambiguously reveals an increase in mass loss from both ice sheets. The combined contribution of Greenland and Antarctica to global sea level rise is accelerating at a rate of 56 ± 17 Gt/yr2 during April 2002–February 2009, which corresponds to an equivalent acceleration in sea level rise of 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr2 during this time. This large acceleration explains a large share of the different GRACE estimates of ice sheet mass loss published in recent years. It also illustrates that the two ice sheets play an important role in the total contribution to sea level at present, and that contribution is continuously and rapidly growing.”
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL040222.shtml

  56. “Of course, melting sea ice changes sea level by how much, exactly? Would that be “zero”?

    It would.

    Or are they suggesting that land ice in Antarctica is melting? Don’t be absurd!”
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/08/new-paper-agw-may-save-us-from-the-next-ice-age/#comment-858758

    Yes, that is what “ice sheet” means. And land ice most definitely is melting in Antarctica. Scientists are well aware of the difference between sea ice and land ice sheets, and how each affects sea level rise.

  57. barry says:

    the authors… [suggest] Antarctica is melting. So far, we’ve seen no evidence of that. In fact Antarctic Sea Ice is trending upwards in the past 30 years:

    The authors are talking about the ice sheet, not the sea ice, and the ice sheet is melting. (I’ve read speculation that the slight increase in sea ice may be a result of more land ice sliding off the continent).

  58. Dave Wendt says:

    Robert Murphy says:
    January 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

    “The combined contribution of Greenland and Antarctica to global sea level rise is accelerating at a rate of 56 ± 17 Gt/yr2 during April 2002–February 2009, which corresponds to an equivalent acceleration in sea level rise of 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr2 during this time. This large acceleration explains a large share of the different GRACE estimates of ice sheet mass loss published in recent years. It also illustrates that the two ice sheets play an important role in the total contribution to sea level at present, and that contribution is continuously and rapidly growing.””

    You seem to share with these folks a rather curious conception of what a “large acceleration” and ” rapidly growing” means. ” 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr”? That’s a little over a half an inch by the turn of the century. Very scary!
    Aside from that the whole notion that we can know GMSL to millimeter or tenth of a millimeter accuracy is a logical impossibility. Leaving out the technical problems of satellite altimetry. GMSL is a measurement of height. To measure a height you require a fixed reference to base your measurements from. There is nothing on the planet whose position is known or fixed at the millimeter level over any timescale. The current data are anomalies calculated from variations relative to the geoid and the reference ellipsoid. Both are entirely imaginary concepts which bear scant relation to the actual reality of the planet. For most of the satellite record they used a fixed model of the geoid in order to try and maintain data consistency. With the advent of the GRACE and GOCE sats it was discovered that their model, which is based on variations in the planet’s gravitation strength, was significantly deficient. For the latest data they have revised the geoid model based on that new information. which is a step in the right direction, but in doing so they have made the current data apples to oranges relative to the old data because no similar data exist to provide similar corrections to the the pre GRACE measurements.

  59. David Middleton says:

    Robert Murphy says:
    January 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Did you miss the PGR bit?

    The actual GRACE measurements in V&W 2006 showed a net gain in ice volume.

    +40 km3/yr – PGR (+192 km3/yr) = -152 km3/yr

    The PGR is estimated from various models. It is not measured…

    A PGR signal is indistinguishable from a linear trend in ice mass. PGR effects are large and must be independently modeled and removed. There are two important sources of error in PGR estimates: the ice history and Earth’s viscosity profile. We estimated the PGR contribution and its uncertainties using two ice history models: ICE-5G (16) and IJ05 (17). IJ05 is available only for Antarctica, so we combined it with ICE-5G outside Antarctica. We convolved these ice histories with viscoelastic Green’s functions for an incompressible Earth (18). We computed trends in the Stokes coefficients for all plausible combinations of two-layer viscosity profiles and convolved these trends with the averaging function. ICE-5G trends are consistently larger than the IJ05 trends. We estimated the range of possible PGR contributions by defining our lower bound to be the minimum IJ05 trend (over all viscosity profiles) and our upper bound to be the maximum ICE-5G trend. Our best estimate of PGR trend is the midpoint of this range. This estimate translates to an apparent ice increase of 192 ± 79 km3/year, where the uncertainty corresponds to the bounds of our PGR range.

    We subtracted this PGR contribution from the GRACE-minus-leakage ice mass estimates (Fig. 2). The best-fitting linear trend, and our final estimate of the decrease in total Antarctic mass between the summers of 2002 and 2005, is 152 ± 80 km3/year. The uncertainty is the RSS of the errors in the GRACE fit and in the PGR contribution. This rate of ice loss corresponds to 0.4 ± 0.2 mm/year of global sea-level rise.

    Velicogna & Wahr, 2006

    GRACE has been flying for less than a decade. It has measured no ice loss. The ice loss has consistently consisted of PGR adjustment.

    If the PGR adjustment is correct, the ice loss is insignificant.

    This paragraph is a pretty good clue that the PGR is wrong…

    “We showed that a detailed analysis of the GRACE time series over the time period 2002–2009 unambiguously reveals an increase in mass loss from both ice sheets. The combined contribution of Greenland and Antarctica to global sea level rise is accelerating at a rate of 56 ± 17 Gt/yr2 during April 2002–February 2009, which corresponds to an equivalent acceleration in sea level rise of 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr2 during this time…

    Sea level rise did not accelerate from 2002-2009. It decelerated…

    Global Mean Sea Level Time Series (seasonal signals removed)

    Sea level was rising at a rate of 3.3 mm/yr from 1992-2001. Since GRACE has been flying (2002), sea level has been rising at 2.2 mm/yr. Sea level hasn’t risen at all since January 2009.

  60. “GRACE has been flying for less than a decade. It has measured no ice loss. The ice loss has consistently consisted of PGR adjustment.”

    Not according to the paper you linked to. They say “that the mass of the ice sheet decreased significantly, at a rate of 152 +/- 80 cubic kilometers of ice per year, which is equivalent to 0.4 +/- 0.2 millimeters of global sea-level rise per year.” That’s *after* taking into account the PGR, not before; if you didn’t take into account PGR, the number for ice loss would be an *additional* 192 ± 79 km3/year, in other words over 340 km3/year. The 2009 paper conformed this. You are seriously misunderstanding the paper.

    “Sea level rise did not accelerate from 2002-2009. It decelerated…”

    The papers were talking about the acceleration of the contribution of the melting ice sheets to sea level rise (which, btw, is not taken into account by the IPCC in their estimates), *not* of the acceleration of global sea level rise during that time frame. Apples and oranges.

  61. Allan MacRae says:

    Robert Murphy says:
    January 9, 2012 at 6:07 am
    “You do realize that there are dozens and dozens of CO2 monitors all over the world, not just the one at Mauna Loa, and that they all agree to within a few ppmv? In fact, the one that has been around the longest is in fact in Antarctica. Mauna Loa is the one cited because while it started a few years later, it has the longest *continuous* record, while the one in Antarctica had a few years of no data decades ago. They show the same increase in CO2.”

    True Robert.

    BUT there is more to this puzzle. The following is from memory but is reasonably accurate.

    The northern CO2 measuring station at Barrow, Alaska has a seasonal amplitude of almost 20ppm whereas the one at the South Pole has almost no seasonal amplitude.

    The rise in average atmospheric CO2 is about 2ppm/year, or about one-tenth of the seasonal amplitude at Barrow.

    Natural CO2 flux is therefore many times greater than the relatively small component from humanmade emissions.

    Furthermore the material balances don’t work very well, and are probably based on faulty assumptions.

    Finally, CO2 lags temperature at all measured time scales.

    Perhaps this leads t the conclusion that temperature drives CO2, not the reverse.

  62. David Middleton says:

    Robert Murphy says:
    January 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm
    “GRACE has been flying for less than a decade. It has measured no ice loss. The ice loss has consistently consisted of PGR adjustment.”

    Not according to the paper you linked to. They say “that the mass of the ice sheet decreased significantly, at a rate of 152 +/- 80 cubic kilometers of ice per year, which is equivalent to 0.4 +/- 0.2 millimeters of global sea-level rise per year.” That’s *after* taking into account the PGR, not before; if you didn’t take into account PGR, the number for ice loss would be an *additional* 192 ± 79 km3/year, in other words over 340 km3/year. The 2009 paper conformed this. You are seriously misunderstanding the paper.

    That’s what I said.

    GRACE measured a 40 km3/yr ice volume increase from 2002-2005. V&W modeled at 192 km3/yr PGR-induced apparent ice volume increase.

    40-192 = 152.

    The entire 152 km3/yr ice volume decrease was due to the PGR adjustemt.

    “Sea level rise did not accelerate from 2002-2009. It decelerated…”

    The papers were talking about the acceleration of the contribution of the melting ice sheets to sea level rise (which, btw, is not taken into account by the IPCC in their estimates), *not* of the acceleration of global sea level rise during that time frame. Apples and oranges.

    It’s more like Galas and Macintoshes or Tangerines and Oranges.
    The ice melt contribution to sea level rise supposedly accelerated at rate of 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr2 from April 2002 to February 2009, while the actual rate of sea level rise was decelerating…

    2011_rel4: Global Mean Sea Level Time Series (seasonal signals removed) Before and After April 2002

  63. David Middleton says:

    Math typo… 40-192 = -152

  64. I made a mistake above; the PGR was indeed subtracted. That doesn’t mean the PGR is a figment as you suggest however. You’re hand-waving away data you don’t like arbitrarily. If it’s contribution was in the opposite direction, you would have no issue with the use of models.

  65. “The ice melt contribution to sea level rise supposedly accelerated at rate of 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr2 from April 2002 to February 2009, while the actual rate of sea level rise was decelerating”

    Since the ice melt contribution to sea level rise is very small, there is no inconsistency. Most of the increase so far has been from thermal expansion. Again, you are talking about two different things.

  66. David Middleton says:

    Robert Murphy says:
    January 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm
    “The ice melt contribution to sea level rise supposedly accelerated at rate of 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr2 from April 2002 to February 2009, while the actual rate of sea level rise was decelerating”

    Since the ice melt contribution to sea level rise is very small, there is no inconsistency. Most of the increase so far has been from thermal expansion. Again, you are talking about two different things.

    The ice melt contribution is supposedly ~0.4 to 0.5 mm/yr. That would be about 20% of the rate since 2002.

    Steric sea level rise would have to be deccelerating more than 0.17 mm/yr2 at a time when the ice melt sea level rise is accelerating by 0.17 mm/yr2 for the overall sea level rise to have deccelerated from 3.35 to 2.23 mm/yr between 2002 and 2011.

  67. David Middleton says:

    Robert Murphy says:
    January 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm
    I made a mistake above; the PGR was indeed subtracted. That doesn’t mean the PGR is a figment as you suggest however. You’re hand-waving away data you don’t like arbitrarily. If it’s contribution was in the opposite direction, you would have no issue with the use of models.

    I’m not suggesting PGR is a figment. We know there is some positive PGR in Antarctica. I’m simply pointing out that the actual GRACE measurements show no net Antarctic ice loss.

    Actual measurements of Antarctic sea ice show it to be increasing, steric sea level rise is decelerating… Yet Antarctic ice melt is accelerating – I don’t think so.

  68. RoHa says:

    ‘their data indicate that the next ice age will likely be delayed by tens of thousands of years….
    “Ice sheets like those in western Antarctica are already destabilized by global warming,” said Channell. “When they eventually slough off and become a part of the ocean’s volume, it will have a dramatic effect on sea level.” ‘

    So either we freeze to death in an ice age or we drown under rising seas.

    We’re doomed.

  69. JaneHM says:

    The interglacial taken in this paper as the closest match to the present interglacial (without increasing CO2) is MIS 19c, 780,000 yrs ago. What else happened 780,000 yrs ago? The orientation of Earth’s magnetic field flipped. Also over time the relative importance of the obliquity, precession and orbital eccentricity components in the Milankovitch cycles has gradually changed. In trying to predict the onset of the next glacial period, the only Milankovitch cycle that counts is the one we’re in, not trying to say (without increasing CO2) we would be repeating some previous interglacial long in the past.

  70. astonerii says:

    I am not biting. It is like admitting that CO2 causes global warming. On the other hand, don’t the ice ages usually start right about the time that CO2 in the atmosphere is near a maximum?

  71. kwik says:

    Robert Murphy says:
    January 9, 2012 at 11:53 am

    “Scientists are well aware of the difference between sea ice and land ice sheets, and how each affects sea level rise.”

    Is this one of the scientists you are referring to? ;

    http://www.climatechangefacts.info/ClimateChangeDocuments/NilsAxelMornerinterview.pdf

  72. Mike D. says:

    Next Ice Age glaciation delayed? Thank goodness (or SUV’s if that’s your pet causal agency).

    Warmer Is Better. Fight The Ice.

  73. clivehbest says:

    There is another mystery about CO2 lifetimes. It is always assumed that CO2 emissions by man will hang around for upwards of 100 years. So even if we stopped all emissions tomorrow CO2 levels would remain above 390 ppm for a hundred years. You also hear from people like Hansen that warming “inertia” is already stored in the oceans and temperatures would continue to rise even curbing CO2 levels. However, the nuclear bomb tests in the 60’s produced large amounts of C14 which left a signature in atmospheric CO2. This allowed accurate measurements of the CO2 lifetimes which work out at between a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 15 years.

    So a single CO2 molecule remains in the atmosphere for only about 10 years. The only argument that can still be validly made is that somehow the Carbon Cycle has been knocked out of equilibrium and will take a hundred years to recover. However, the large seasonal changes changes in CO2 would appear to support a short lifetime and also a resilient carbon cycle.

  74. phlogiston says:

    Wow – the MSM has woken up to the issue of the inevitable forthcoming interglacial – glacial transition. This is remarkable in its own right.

    This new research contradicts the previous orthodoxy – which is quoted periodically on this site – that we are currently similar to the 400,000 year ago interglacial and – in a paper by Ruddiman et al. – it is asserted that due to our current weak node of eccentricity oscillation, our interglacial will somehow fantastically continue for another 50,000 years (this effectively would mean that the current glacial epoch has ended.) It is good to see this nonsense brushed aside by more serious scholarship from Cambridge University.

    The Cambridge-led team has now identified the most similar interglacial, with respect to Milankovich parameters, to be not 400kYa but 780 kYa. Further, they point to one feature presaging an end-of-interglacial as a “see-sawing” between warming/cooling between the northern and southern hemispheres. The southern hemisphere sea ice anomaly figure at the top of this post points to exactly this phenomenon – in the last 30 years as Arctic sea ice has shrunk, Antarctic sea ice has grown. This reciprocity has now been recognised as diagnostic of a terminating interglacial.

    The paper should be read as a serious and important advance in understanding of the imminent end of the current interglacial, and the embarrasingly weak politically-correct epilogue of “but increasing CO2 means that it wont happen really” should be ignored – the authors themselves likely do not even believe it, they just needed it to be published.

  75. Mark in London says:

    And why exactly will be having an ice age? Is it not possible the same mechanism that will cool the earth is also warming the earth – except forgive me, I thought we hadn’t warmed for a decade now. That could of course have been because the earth is cooling… bed and cold towel time

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