Friday Funny (well maybe not so funny) – XKCD takes on the real climate threat

Sobering graphics to scale: ice sheets 21,000 years ago versus today’s skylines.

“Data adapted from ‘The Laurentide and Innuitian ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum’ by A.S. Dyke et. al., which was way better than the sequels ‘The Laurentide and Innuitian ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum: The Meltdown’ and ‘The Laurentide and Innuitian ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum: Continental Drift’.”

h/t to reader “View from the Solent”

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110 thoughts on “Friday Funny (well maybe not so funny) – XKCD takes on the real climate threat

  1. The next period of glaciation will start with just one snow flake, and it could very easily last for 90,000 years. Perhaps historians thousands of years in the future will call the next glaciation period, the Gore Ice Age – if they have a sense of humour, that is.

  2. I was duly impressed when I learned that the top of Mt Washington, now 6,288 feet above sea level, was under a mile of ice not very long ago.

    In a lot of the White Mountains the top soil is about three inches deep.

  3. Probably off by a factor of four.

    More like 3000 metres deep of ice sheets.

  4. Usually XKCD cartoons have title text on the image, so if you hover the mouse over the image on the XKCD site itself you get to see some extra textual humour.

    For this cartoon, the title text is:

    “Data adapted from ‘The Laurentide and Innuitian ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum’ by A.S. Dyke et. al., which was way better than the sequels ‘The Laurentide and Innuitian ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum: The Meltdown’ and ‘The Laurentide and Innuitian ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum: Continental Drift’.”

  5. Most of North America is now hundreds of feet higher than it was with all the ice on it. Once it melted the weight was removed and the rebound took effect.

    That is one nice piece of artwork. I’m adding it to my collection. Nicely done.

  6. It is going to take one heck of a lot of bourbon and gin to use up that much ice. I’ll do my bit, but we are going to need entire corps of professional drinkers to chip that much down. Start training immediately!

  7. This cartoon will get expanded and placed in the back window of my truck, for Seattle commuters behind me to enjoy at red lights.
    Top caption to read: Global Warming?
    Bottom caption to read: It’s A Good Thing!!!?
    MtK

  8. Randall_G says:
    June 14, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    I’m willing to do my share, Randall!
    I’ve trained rigorously for +40 years!
    MtK

  9. Add Fresca, a bit of sweetened lime, and gold Tequila to that ice, rim with salt, and you have my attention. Will start practicing right now!

  10. In the last glaciation period, Canada was totally covered with an ice sheet ranging from 1 mile to 2 miles thick. Canada is 3.8 million square miles in area. I wonder how the polar bears survived then because there could not have been much sea ice to bounce around on since everything was frozen solid, everywhere in the north. I guess they must have hung out in the Gulf of Mexico.

  11. Mark and two Cats says (June 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm): “We’re buried like that now – but it ain’t under ice. You might say we’re inturd. ;)”

    And it’s getting deeper every day. :-)

  12. thelastdemocrat says (June 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm): “Wait – this is a bit hard to believe. Where does all of that water come from?”

    It’s hiding in the deep ocean! :-)

  13. Go Home says:
    June 14, 2013 at 4:53 pm
    Looks like a great place to build wind farms.
    ===============================
    We could pour gas/petrol on them and use the running water to for hydro power!!

    Oh wait ….. never mind. ; )

  14. I don’t think there is any dispute that we are at the end of the Holocene based on earth’s current obliquity (Milankovitch theory) or geologic past interglacial durations (earth history). It could also be argued that obliquity during the LIA might have been nearly at the point also, but maybe other factors may have prevented its end (cosmic rays not being favorable or other factors?) So, I am wondering if this might be the point of regime change, with the sun going quiet and the ocean cycles going negative. Any brave souls out there that has a tea leaf read on it or, even better, reasons?

  15. Jim wonders what the polar bears did for sea ice, I wonder what the fish in the ocean did. Was there even an ocean??

  16. Look, this problem of science is pretty simple to figure out.
    It’s all about balls.
    Let me explain…
    Back in the ’70s, our balls were taken away from us in the name of feminism. We were still playing with other balls, though, so we didn’t notice.
    Meanwhile, others were growing some. And these were not nice people.
    I could go on…

  17. More funny at ClimateCentral.org

    But before you go there imagine what is there for a minute.

    It is so predictable.

  18. RE: “thelastdemocrat says:
    June 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm
    Wait – this is a bit hard to believe. Where does all of that water come from?”

    The seas withdrew to the very edge of the continental shelf. New York City, despite Bloomberg’s best efforts, was far from the sea, and the edge of the glaciers plowed across the north side of his city. The Hudson River, it’s waters swollen by the summer melt of a vast ice field, charged past at the bottom of a huge canyon, not so deep as the Grand Canyon, but still 200-300 feet below the docks of the current shoreline, swirling off to the distant sea, which was 300-400 feet lower.

    That’s where all the water for such huge glaciers came from.

  19. @JM VanWinkle

    It appears that we are halfway down to the cooler part of the earth’s tilt at 23.4 degrees. We are sliding to the 22.1 degree part of the cycle and will hit this in about 10,000 years. We were at the warmest part of this cycle about 10,000 years ago when the Holocene Epoch started. So, glaciation could start at any time, really.

    http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/ice_ages/tilt_graph.html

    I began to speculate a short time ago, that the areas we should be most concerned about regarding temperatures are Canada, and the northern regions of Eurasia because these are the areas that were fully “ice-sheeted” during the last glaciation period. When places in these regions start to develop snow all year around, that is the beginning. Perma-snow overlaying permafrost. It is not a pretty picture no matter how white the snow may be.

  20. RE: “starzmom says:
    June 14, 2013 at 7:14 pm
    Jim wonders what the polar bears did for sea ice, I wonder what the fish in the ocean did. Was there even an ocean??”

    This is actually a very interesting topic. With the seas withdrawn to the very edge of the Continental shelf, some of the best fisheries were lost. The Grand Banks were high and either dry, or under ice.

    How the heck did fish survive this complete ecological disaster? For tens of thousands of years they had to eek out an existence along a very narrow band of shallow water on the steep edge of the continental shelf.

    However, when the waters started to rise again, and the continental shelf submerged, it was party-time for fishes. Or it was until all these starving cave men, deprived of reindeer and polar bear for dinner, looked into the rising water and said, “By Jove! Those little fishies look downright tasty! What do you say, Og? Is it time for us to invent the net?”

    (In actual fact, we haven’t a clue what fishes did during the ice age.) (Or humans, for that matter.)

  21. Ric Werme 4:40 pm

    The Gore Ice Age!!!!!!! I almost fell out of my chair!!!!

    Eugene WR Gallun

  22. TRM says:
    June 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Most of North America is now hundreds of feet higher than it was with all the ice on it. Once it melted the weight was removed and the rebound took effect.

    =======================================================================
    Hmmm….let me get this straight. Because of CAGW the ice will melt and the oceans will boil. But as the ice melts the land will rise. And of course as the oceans boil the water will turn to vapor rather than remain liquid thus reducing it’s volumn. So …. why are the CAGW’ers worried about sea levels rising? Watched “Water World” one to many times?

  23. Caleb says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    … Or it was until all these starving cave men, deprived of reindeer and polar bear for dinner, looked into the rising water and said, “By Jove! Those little fishies look downright tasty! What do you say, Og? Is it time for us to invent the net?”

    ===============================================================
    Sorry, Og. Al Gore invented the Net.

  24. The UN building under a mile of ice…. A mile…. Of ice….hmmmmm…

    Perhaps a new Ice Age is something we should all wish for….

  25. My 10yr old son asked me about global warming and whether we would be safe from sea level rise. I told him we could easily outrun the ocean, but that in 50,000 years our inland house here in Halifax Canada would probably be under two miles of ice. He was incredulous.

    Crap… isn’t it my job to make the young’uns feel safe :)

  26. the thelastdemocrat says:
    June 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    20,000 years ago the North Sea bottom was mostly above water and the English Channel was dry land. Today’s Fishing trawlers are constantly snagging nets on the remains of Stone Age settlements.

  27. ” Gunga Din says: June 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm
    Hmmm….let me get this straight. Because of CAGW the ice will melt and the oceans will boil. But as the ice melts the land will rise. And of course as the oceans boil the water will turn to vapor rather than remain liquid thus reducing it’s volumn. So …. why are the CAGW’ers worried about sea levels rising? Watched “Water World” one to many times? ”

    Naw, nothing like that. It cycles like most of nature. Due to a combination of factors, all natural, the earth swings between ice ages with brief little inter-glacial periods of about 1/5th the time of the ice age. Repeat, repeat, repeat, at least for the last 2-3 million years. Ah for the good old days when CO2 was in the high 3 digit / low 4 digit range, life was bursting everywhere. The biggest threat is CO2 getting too low. Last ice age we almost lost it. At 150 PPM all plant life above the oceans stops (followed soon after by all the animal life). We were within 10% of that level (170) before it turned around. Whew!

    See levels drop drastically in ice ages so the warmists have nothing to worry about :)

    Enjoy it while it lasts folks because our lovely little inter-glacial is about done.

    PS. Never seen WaterWorld because the whole concept was so stupid to start with even by Sci-Fi standards. I wouldn’t even classify it as Sci-Fi more like propaganda 101.

  28. Jim says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm
    @JM VanWinkle
    ———————–
    A link i find better to see all the variables in the Milankovitch Theory;

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Milankovitch/milankovitch_3.php

    For reasons unknown (as far as i am aware) the glaciation cycle settled into a 41,000 year period some 2 million plus years ago and then about a 800,000 years ago the period changed to about a 100,000 years…i cannot find the article i read a while ago and my present search has found only articles contaminated by CO2.

    I ripped open a tea bag and a hot drink is steeping,..

  29. How about another “reel” threat;
    A comet strike to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet…surfs up!

  30. TRM says:
    June 14, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    ” Gunga Din says: June 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm
    Hmmm….let me get this straight. Because of CAGW the ice will melt and the oceans will boil. But as the ice melts the land will rise. And of course as the oceans boil the water will turn to vapor rather than remain liquid thus reducing it’s volumn. So …. why are the CAGW’ers worried about sea levels rising? Watched “Water World” one to many times? ”

    Naw, nothing like that. It cycles like most of nature. Due to a combination of factors, all natural, the earth swings between ice ages with brief little inter-glacial periods of about 1/5th the time of the ice age. Repeat, repeat, repeat,

    ===================================================================
    Now I get it! A bottomless shampoo bottle! “Lather, Rinse, Repeat”.

  31. Thanks for the reply Jim and Kajakuk. Those graphs and all the other graphs I have seen have time axis of thousands of years per division. Further, the theory discussions seem to focus on what starts an interglacial, not what ends one. I guess the blame for that is resting on the large variability in the glacial period duration as compared to the interglacial period. However, it would seem that since we are at the end of the Holocene that we would have what causes the interglacial end timing under a microscope as it is a massively serious issue.

    I wonder if Jim’s criteria of summer snow survival will be our only clue. Perhaps cold weather crop failure from frost will also be an indicator. However, if the ice core records could be mapped to obliquity with precision or other potential triggers then perhaps we could see if there are other significant factors.

    Somehow the whole climate investigation has been hijacked to focus on our current climate optimum as if it were bad. I look at all the greenery and our bountiful food and wonder how can geologic history be ignored when our cornucopia is at real risk. Thank goodness for our higher CO2.

  32. So …. why are the CAGW’ers worried about sea levels rising? Watched “Water World” one to many times?

    It is their version of “Great flood theory.” You see we’ve been bad. We built a comfortable civilisation and didn’t live the disease shortened lives of starvation and pain that the Goddess expected us to. Now the Goddess is going to make us pay in the traditional manner – a great flood.

  33. One thing for sure. It’ll be cleansing. It. WILL. Be. No weasel words to cloud the issue. That big, cold scraper will come, and it WILL basically clean it off to bedrock, leaving an astounding terminal moraine full of all that technology wrought. Thos that survive will be packed into the tropics. Pretty sobering. What will the hubrisoids of 2313 AD say THEN?

  34. …. and sea levels were 120 meters lower than they are today… So add another meters to those heights.

  35. Should be great for land prices in my area. We have end morains from the last glaciation here. All the people from Hamburg will have to flee southwards.

    Woul be a great topic for a realistic Hollywood disaster movie. Remember when Toronto lost all but one high voltage line, I think in the winter of 1976?

  36. In Swedish scandes ( alps) you can see many alterations. The Ice on top af Sweden´s highest mountain, Kebnekaise, 2100m, The ice has gotten 2 m thicker last year. ( during last hundred years appr. 18 m thinner)
    Last years glaciers advancing.New Nivel patch appearance, where you did not see them since several decades.Tree line damaged and beginning to get lower.( last hundred years gotten higher, 100 m).( At holocen optimum 600 m higher) Scandes alps temperature appr. couple of C lower last years. Everything documented by photos and data.
    It could be weather, but it could also mean that we have passed the climate improvement top. At least for now.
    It will be incredibly interesting to follow coming years reports.

  37. Judging by what my Canadian friends have told me, the ice may be gone but it’s still fracking cold.

  38. I’m hopeful that in the developed world we can potentially stop the next ice age dead in its tracks, when it does eventually start to happen. I’m thinking controlled nuclear explosions at the polar regions, preventing the ice caps from growing. I know this would be a mammoth task – we’re talking about areas the size of large continents. But of course it could be centuries away yet, by which time who knows what technology will be available to us.

  39. The Toronto graph seems to be wrongly marked with height. Should the ice thickness not be 2000 rather than 200 metres or it is too high in relation to the other columns.

  40. Ryan says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    #164 was better

    A piece of advice some should have taken

    DaveE.

  41. Jim says:
    June 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm
    “It appears that we are halfway down to the cooler part of the earth’s tilt at 23.4 degrees. We are sliding to the 22.1 degree part of the cycle and will hit this in about 10,000 years. We were at the warmest part of this cycle about 10,000 years ago when the Holocene Epoch started. So, glaciation could start at any time, really.”

    There are 2 other factors that must also be included, eccentricity and precession. All 3 cycles have different lengths and certain combinations must exist for Earth’s climate to undergo major changes. The proper conditions for an interglacial peaked about 10,000 years ago: declining eccentricity, maximum obliquity and NH summer solstice at perihelion. Moving away from that combination should bring on a new period of glaciation. However, as the good Dr S reminds us, eccentricity will be too low for the next 50,000 years for us to fall back into a glacial period.

  42. And when that ice melted it created the Great Lakes the largest freshwater system on the planet…something that wouldn’t be there without the depression from the weight of the ice and the 80-90% “fossil” water that was needed to fill it.

    Also just 2000 years ago Ottawa was at the bottom of an inland sea created by the melt water.

  43. JM VanWinkle says June 14, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Somehow the whole climate investigation has been hijacked to focus on our current climate optimum as if it were bad. I look at all the greenery and our bountiful food and wonder how can geologic history be ignored when our cornucopia is at real risk. Thank goodness for our higher CO2.

    It takes dedicated single-mindedness of purpose to overlook the good; few but the highly educated in specialized and narrow (strictly ‘climate’-focused) fields of study can achieve it. Mention of the ‘special’ membership in restricted-admittance climate ‘clubs’ should be also made, but is redundant owing to the requirement of the individuals to be ‘highly educated in (their) specialized and narrow (climate) fields of study’ …

    .

  44. The graphics shows funny way that threat here at this planet isn’t the rising sea level, but the rising ice cover. Much higher than the catastrophic AGW CGI stunts – as the flooding of the big cities in the Inconvenient Truth show. The threat for Earth indeed is not the Hansen’s “Venus-like GHE runaway” but the glaciation runaway.

    An runaway glaciation and ice age is not an imagination, it is a real possibility, although fortunately definitely not now, but not sooner than in several thousand years due to the current axial precession phase – Earth’s perihelion phasing with winter solstice, therefore leaving oceans, mainly at the southern hemisphere, in average some 5-7 W/m^2 more insolated than how it will be in ~12000 years when the Earth’s perihelion will phase with summer solstice.

    If somebody likes I can write a popular explanatory article about what and why triggers the runaway glaciation, why it possibly cannot be offsetted by the CO2 forcing and why the elevated atmospheric vater vapour content (usually being considered a warming positive feedback to the CO2 forcing by the CAGW proponents) becomes a strong positive cooling feedback in such case and expedites the whole ice age triggering process.

  45. @tumetuestumefaisdubien1

    I would love read your explanatory article as to what triggers runaway glaciation. From what I have read, in many cases, when glaciation does occur, it happens very rapidly. It remains a mystery to me as to how it can happen so abruptly.

  46. Jim says:
    June 14, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    In the last glaciation period, Canada was totally covered with an ice sheet ranging from 1 mile to 2 miles thick. Canada is 3.8 million square miles in area. I wonder how the polar bears survived…

    Southeastern Alaska?

    We conclude that brown bears, and perhaps other large mammals, have continuously inhabited the archipelago for at least 40,000 yr and that habitable refugia were therefore available throughout the last glaciation.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/qres.1996.0058

  47. “I’ve never seen Waterworld…” – You sir, are a fortunate man. Being a sci-fi fan, I saw not expecting much but thinking, “how bad can it be?” I never before imagined that the worst
    part of the post apocalyptic dystopia was that EVERYONE WAS BORED OUT OF THEIR SKULLS!
    And so is anyone who has ever watched that movie. Sheesh, what a waste of 3 hours, or 4, or however interminably long that thing dragged on.

    I actually appreciated all of the plot holes and idiotic plot devices. It gave me something to pay attention to while my brain tried to melt.

  48. “thelastdemocrat says:
    June 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm
    Wait – this is a bit hard to believe. Where does all of that water come from?”

    Sea levels drop by hundreds of feet and the oceans become measurably saltier

    And the Roley Poley Bears migrate south to near where the edge of the ice meets the ocean

  49. I have watched “Waterworld” several times, the hero is dishy, and the whole point of the plot was that there WAS dry land, and the hero and heroines were searching for it via a map. Those who have watched it know where the map was! It was a bit of fun not to be taken seriuosly. So there!

    Anthea

  50. To those wondering how the polar bears made out during the last ice age:

    Nothing easier, they just wandered south. One of the things that the nature
    cultists can’t seem to get through their heads–nature and nature’s creatures
    ADAPT. They’re good at it.

  51. so let me get this straight. . .climate skeptics believe that we are past the peak of the Milankovich cycle and will be headed into a new ice age sometime (anytime now?).

    and

    That the hockey stick curve is false because the measured temperatures are actually just slightly below the maximum from the medieval climate anomaly–and that, unless the temperatures begin to rise above those values then they aren’t concerned.

    Don’t these two things conflict, just a little bit???

    never mind that a recent analysis of paleo temperature data from seafloor cores, ice cores, lake sediments and other trends from all over the globe confirm that we are now warmer than we have been on this planet for the last 11,000 years.

    This means that we would probably have to go back to the Eemian peak 125,000 years ago to get temperatures that are similar to those we are experiencing today.

    and yet the milankovich cycles reached their maximum over 10,000 years ago and the sun’s effects have been net cooling since then. . .

  52. @jai Mitchell. But the Met Office has just thrown the warmest in11,000 years over board.

    http://www.myclimateandme.com/2013/03/12/new-analysis-suggests-the-earth-is-warming-at-a-rate-unprecedented-for-11300-years/

    Q: Is the rate of global temperature rise over the last 100 years faster than at any time during the past 11,300 years?

    A: Our study did not directly address this question because the paleotemperature records used in our study have a temporal resolution of ~120 years on average, which precludes us from examining variations in rates of change occurring within a century. Other factors also contribute to smoothing the proxy temperature signals contained in many of the records we used, such as organisms burrowing through deep-sea mud, and chronological uncertainties in the proxy records that tend to smooth the signals when compositing them into a globally averaged reconstruction. We showed that no temperature variability is preserved in our reconstruction at cycles shorter than 300 years, 50% is preserved at 1000-year time scales, and nearly all is preserved at 2000-year periods and longer. Our Monte-Carlo analysis accounts for these sources of uncertainty to yield a robust (albeit smoothed) global record. Any small “upticks” or “downticks” in temperature that last less than several hundred years in our compilation of paleoclimate data are probably not robust, as stated in the paper.

    In the light of this statement from the authors, we no longer consider our headline to be appropriate.

  53. So I should turn on the stove because my house is too hot? Eventually ice forms right? Should be nice and cool this afternoon.

  54. That the hockey stick curve is false because the measured temperatures are actually just slightly below the maximum from the medieval climate anomaly–and that, unless the temperatures begin to rise above those values then they aren’t concerned.

    No, the hockey stick was falsified by a fellow named Steve McIntyre looking into it and finding that the statistical analysis was botched. Several other people, including the inventor of the technique, agree.

    Then people discovered several other things that Mann et al did that are questionable, wrong, or backward.

    This means that we would probably have to go back to the Eemian peak 125,000 years ago to get temperatures that are similar to those we are experiencing today.

    Not at all. One weekend I saw two or three reports of warmer conditions than now only 6,000 years ago. There may be several others. These are based on observations of trees and people being uncovered by the current glacial retreat.

    Imagine being at the face of a melting glacier. The melt stream is milky with rock flour, the scoured valley has patches of low alpine plants struggling with the poor soil and short growing season – but there are pieces of full sized trees in the face of the glacier.

    Sorry, only 6,000 years. See http://wermenh.com/climate/6000.html

  55. Tom in Florida says:
    June 15, 2013 at 5:58 am
    “However, as the good Dr S reminds us, eccentricity will be too low for the next 50,000 years for us to fall back into a glacial period.”

    I have heard that thinking before, but it is inconsistent with the geologic record that interglacials end with the next point in obliquity passing 23.5 degrees (or thereabouts), very inconsistent. It is why the interglacials are only about 10k years, never significantly longer. You can see the record yourself, it is quite clear. I like theories to be consistent with the geologic record. Still, if Dr. S is talking about what will cause the next interglacial after the Holocene ends, that is another matter as the point of interglacial beginnings is variable, based on the record. As for me, that is further into the future than is personally interesting to me. Others maybe more optimistic.

    I hope that makes sense.

  56. A good display of how bad ice ages are. AWhere did it come from? It can only be the equator, where water would still be evaporating, not being below zero, but falling as snow, and not melting, in the Northern AND Southern regions. Homo Sapiens were around on the planet, this was only 21,000 years ago. Human civilization took off after the recession of the ice.

    We had fire and weapons and stone tools before. But after the ice age, we also had clothes and agirculture.

  57. JM VanWinkle says:
    June 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm
    “I have heard that thinking before, but it is inconsistent with the geologic record that interglacials end with the next point in obliquity passing 23.5 degrees (or thereabouts), very inconsistent. It is why the interglacials are only about 10k years, never significantly longer. You can see the record yourself, it is quite clear. I like theories to be consistent with the geologic record. Still, if Dr. S is talking about what will cause the next interglacial after the Holocene ends, that is another matter as the point of interglacial beginnings is variable, based on the record. As for me, that is further into the future than is personally interesting to me. Others maybe more optimistic.
    I hope that makes sense.”

    It makes sense unless we have an extended period of low eccentricity, which occurs about every 400K years. Low obliquity with low eccentricity will prevent the longer periods of colder temperatures that the Earth would have to go through to have a new glacial period.

  58. Re: Ric Werme says:
    June 15, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    “…..This means that we would probably have to go back to the warmest since warm to get temperatures that are similar to those we are experiencing today.

    Not at all….”

    Thanks for taking the time to explain to the misguided, Ric. I get tired of explaining the fact when Roman stuff is buried by dark ages snow, not quite uncovered by Medieval thawing, reburied by Little Ice Age snows, and now reappears, it means it has gotten back to the warmth of Roman times 2000 years ago, not that it is the first time it has been this warm in 125,000 years.

    It gets tiring saying the same thing over and over and over again, so I’ve been trying to jazz it up recently by telling tales of Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants. However when you introduce new stuff you learn new stuff. There may not have been snow up in those passes, back then, but still it was pretty cold for elephants. Apparently some got pneumonia and died. Hannibal should have had huge blankets for the poor beasts. If a few woolly mammoths had survived to his time, Rome might have lost that war.

    By the way, that’s a good collection of stories about finding wood in glaciers at your website http://wermenh.com/climate/6000.html. I saved the link for future reference.

  59. Caleb, the Romans learnt to part ranks to leave passage for the elephants, as they did with Bodacia’s scythed chariots.

  60. jai mitchell: so let me get this straight. . .climate skeptics believe that we are past the peak of the Milankovich cycle and will be headed into a new ice age sometime (anytime now?).

    We undoubtedly ARE approaching the end of the current interglacial and by all indications are overdue for the next ice age. That means the climate is close to the tipping point. The consequences of an ice age commencing really would be catastrophic as the xkcd panels illustrate. We came very close to tipping into a full ice age during the LIA triggered by the Maunder minimum. It was a lucky escape. Note how quickly the world cooled and how long it took temperatures to recover. Many skeptics like myself are more concerned that the greenhouse effect from added CO2 might not be large enough to help us escape from ice age during the currently commencing solar minimum. An ice age really is catastrophic in a way that a warmer world is not. Just look at the XKCD panels.

    A warmer world means longer growing seasons – less frost – faster growing crops due to CO2 fertilisation – higher average rainfall – and less extreme weather overall due to lower temperature contrasts. There is absolutely no evidence in the geologic record of any kind of tipping point in the climate on the warm side. That some GCMs predict this is merely more evidence of the failure of GCMs. In fact the evidence is that the climate is quite stable on the warm side. I’d therefore be very happy to see the world move away from the edge of the ice age precipice by warming a bit.

    and [skeptics believe]

    That the hockey stick curve is false because the measured temperatures are actually just slightly below the maximum from the medieval climate anomaly–and that, unless the temperatures begin to rise above those values then they aren’t concerned.

    Don’t these two things conflict, just a little bit???

    For a start, the hockey stick is simply wrong. The mathematics it used is completely broken. It is a scientific error so why are we even talking about it.

    What you call the “medieval climate anomaly” the rest of us are happy to call the medieval warm period. By all historical accounts the climate at that time was benign and human civilisation flourished and spread. Your use of the word “anomaly” to describe this period is judgemental and suggests that the climate at that time was atypical, unnatural or abnormal. How can you possibly justify that judgement? The weather in the MWP – far from being anomalous – was fairly typical of most of the holocene. The anomalous climatic episodes are the cold periods like the LIA which have been gradually becoming more frequent and more severe. Eventually one of these will tip us over the edge into true ice age. Most of us will then die of starvation and our cities will be obliterated by miles high walls of grinding ice. That is true catastrophe.

    Alarmists have to work very hard indeed to make a warmer world sound alarming. Some of their stories are frankly ridiculous. Weeds will grow faster (all plants will grow faster!). Crops may have a slightly lower protein content (because they will be vigorous, healthy, and bursting at the seams with sugars – eat meat if lack of protein worries you). Mosquitoes may spread further (conditions will be benign for all life – so spend a bit more on mosquito control – problem sorted). That they have to work this hard to find the dark lining in the silver cloud illustrates that a warmer world is not a problem. A colder world on the other hand is a very scary possibility.

  61. Eric’s paper in Science is at best Fraudulent, and dismissible with 30 seconds of clear thinking. Yet, his paper in Science IS necessary for the AGU to give him an award (tainted paper) and money ($10K of tainted paper). With certainty Eric will deliver five talks at the AGU which only allows at most three, but the AGU is the home of Peter Gleick the fraudster, and pal of the AGU intelligente.

  62. PiperPaul says:
    June 14, 2013 at 7:38 pm
    Back in the ’70s, our balls were taken away from us in the name of feminism.
    =========
    The only “humor” shown on TV these days is to portray white males as stupid. If you tried this with females it would be sexist and if you did it with any other race it would be racist.

    For some reason however, prejudice against white males is permitted by society and TV broadcast standards. I call it a double standard. If it is wrong to “make fun” of women, blacks, orientals and hispanics, then it is surely wrong to “make fun” of males, whites and any other groups. Otherwise, if it OK to “make fun” of white males, then surely it is equally correct to “make fun” of any group.

    Email, write and phone in your complaints to the TV station, regulators and legislators whenever you see this sort of sexist and racist portrayal of any groups, including white males. You will be surprised to find that many people that consider themselves “progressive” cannot see that stereotype portrayals of white males is both sexist and racist.

    Do your bit to bring up the subject at the next cocktail party you attend. You may be surprised how many people do not even see the problem. Educate them. It is the first step in growing a pair.

  63. Midwestern farmers remember the basic rules for ice vs. liquid water, thelastdemocrat … 10 inches of snow, depending on how wet it is, of course, equals only an inch of water, i.e. water EXPANDS as it freezes. So that’s why the ice towering over the skyscrapers seems disproportionate to the amount of water now in the oceans.

  64. “However, as the good Dr S reminds us, eccentricity will be too low for the next 50,000 years for us to fall back into a glacial period.”
    ===============
    Similar arguments were made 80 years ago to discredit Milankovitch. Until the ocean cores were sampled in the 70’s.

    The problem for Sr S and climate science in general is that we do not have sufficient understanding of the problem or the mathematics to make reliable predictions. Thus for example, the 100,000 year problem in climate science.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100,000-year_problem
    Spectral analysis shows that the most powerful climate response is at 100,000-year period, but the orbital forcing at this period is small.

    This would appear to contradict Dr S’s assurances that small orbital forcing prevents ice ages. While that might be true in linear systems, in non-linear and chaotic systems no such limitation exists.

  65. S.D. skeptic says:
    June 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Midwestern farmers remember the basic rules for ice vs. liquid water, thelastdemocrat … 10 inches of snow, depending on how wet it is, of course, equals only an inch of water, i.e. water EXPANDS as it freezes. So that’s why the ice towering over the skyscrapers seems disproportionate to the amount of water now in the oceans.

    This is so wrong. Sorry, it is a valiant try but …. snow is very loosely packed and consists of ice plus quite a lot of air. So, roughly 10-12 inches of snow -> ca. 1 inch of water because of that air, not the expansion of ice, which only makes a brief turn around before continuing to shrink as it gets colder.

    In regards to ice sheets and why the ice vs. skyscraper scene might seem disproportionate, it is really because all that ice is now water, and back in the ocean basins. Since those basins cover about 3/4s of the planet, and those oceans are 300 feet deeper! now than they were then, well, it really isn’t so disproportionate at all. There was a lot of land, dry back then, that requires a submarine to visit now, that or very highly specialized diving gear. It’s too bad the artist didn’t include the mile worth over New York.

  66. Tom in Florida,
    Thanks for that explanation on eccentricity. Also despite CO2 hijacking climate science, some work is seeping through the Warmist Barrier. I was scouting for information and found this in my archive:
    “(Boston) –Through dated geological records scientists have known for decades that variations in the Earth’s orbit around the sun – subtle changes in the distance between the two – control ice ages. But, for the first 2 million years of the Northern Hemisphere Ice Age there has always been a mismatch between the timing of ice sheet changes and the Earth’s orbital parameters.
    A new model of ice volume change developed by Boston University researchers Maureen Raymo and Lorraine Lisiecki proposes a reason for this discrepancy…
    “Because summer insolation is controlled by precession, and summer heating controls ice sheet mass balance, it is difficult to understand why the ice volume record is dominated by the obliquity frequency,” said Dr. Raymo. “It’s not a complete mismatch, but the precession frequency we think should be strong in geological records is not.”
    The new model proposes that during this time, ice volume changes occurred in both the Northern Hemisphere and Antarctica, each controlled by different amounts of local summer insolation paced by precession.
    “The reason the frequency is not observable in records is because ice volume change occurred at both poles, but out of phase with each other. When ice was growing in the Northern Hemisphere, it was melting in the Southern,” said Raymo.
    The team believes scientists have been operating under the assumption that Antarctica has been exceptionally stable for 3 million years and very difficult to change climatically. “We don’t tend to think of ice volume in that region as varying significantly, even on geologic time scales,” said Raymo. “However, only a modest change in Antarctic ice mass is required to “cancel” a much larger Northern ice volume signal.”

    There also was a newer article from Lorraine Lisiecki on eccentricity and the 100,000 year cycle.
    Best regards

  67. ferd berple says:
    June 15, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    JM VanWinkle says:
    June 16, 2013 at 1:10 am

    I do not think that any one parameter controls climate change, as is discussed on this blog frequently. But insolation change brought about by orbital change certainly has to be a major player. Earth’s most natural state is glaciation and interglacial warm periods are the exception, which have been occurring about every 100,000 years for some time now. Now we know that an interglacial started 10-12,000 years ago so if we look at the orbital parameters then we can say with some certainty that when eccentricity is lower, obliquity is high and NH summer solstice is at perihelion, an interglacial happens. Each of these orbital parameters has a different cycle period but we can retrace those combinations in time to see when the same combinations came together in history. My rough calculations show that the proper combination of the 3 orbital parameters for an interglacial to begin happens about every 100,000 years. So it is not solely the eccentricity period of 100,000 years but the proper combination of all 3 parameters, which just happen to be about 100,000 years. But eccentricity now is in the 400,000 year pattern which will keep it low for the next 50,000 years or so. This low eccentricity should prevent long cold spells that usually bring on glaciations regardless of the other 2 parameter changes. So it looks like we will have our current general climate (with all it’s colder and warmer periods) to remain as is for 40 – 50,000 years. We could then enter only a brief period of glaciation because in 90,000 years all 3 parameters will again match up to the proper combination for the next interglacial. . After that, I really don’t care :).

  68. Tom,
    The importance of eccentricity varies from theory to theory, but most discount it. Here is what Dr. Lorraine E. Lisiecki’s dissertation says:
    The 100-kyr Cycle
    Virtually all models of the 100-kyr glacial cycle in the late Pleistocene rely on the argument that long time constants in the climate system favor a 100-kyr glacial cycle by decreasing the climate’s sensitivity to the more rapid variations of precession and obliquity. Theories differ in the source of the long time constant, but popular suggestions are large ice sheets and their underlying bedrock [Weertman, 1964] or the global carbon cycle [Shackleton, 2000]. A direct response to eccentricity is unlikely because it has very little net effect on annual insolation and because the 400-kyr power of eccentricity produces little response in late Pleistocene climate.
    Most models differ in the extent to which eccentricity and nonlinear responses to obliquity and precession drive 100-kyr glacial cycles. One group of theories holds that 100-kyr oscillations are self-sustained, requiring no external forcing [e.g., Maasch and Saltzman, 1990; Tziperman and Gildor, 2003]. Even if variability is self-sustained, orbital forcing may still play an important role in pacing 100-kyr glacial cycles [Huybers and Wunsch, 2005]. Another group of theories posits that nonlinear responses to obliquity and/or precession result in conditions conducive to deglaciation with a period of approximately 100 kyr [e.g., Raymo, 1997; Paillard, 1998; Ruddiman, 2003]. Finally, it is possible to produce 100-kyr power in climate models simply by introducing different rates of ice sheet growth and decay [Imbrie and Imbrie, 1980]. One very different model proposes that 100-kyr cycles in orbital inclination may force late Pleistocene glacial cycles [Muller and MacDonald, 1997], but very little support exists for forcing mechanisms associated with inclination [Winckler et al., 2004].

  69. Possibly many would ask how do we know how thick the ice sheet was at any location. It comes from “soil mechanics” the behaviour of natural clays under loading. Experimentally, if you take a core of undisturbed clay and load it with a certain weight on a piston and cylinder arrangement, the clay compresses to a certain level. If you now take this clay and reload it, there is no added compression until you exceed the former loading and the compression curve then continues where it left off from the previous experiment. Clay layers that have been under the compression of glacial ice behave the same way. A number of cores in a given area are taken, each placed in a compression cylinder and loaded until the beginning of compression of the clay. This figure, with good repeatability represents the load/square area that this clay has been under in the past – a complete memory of the compression event. Cool, huh?

  70. On a clear sunny day the sun’s intensity occurs at midday but the maximum temperature happens around 3 hours later. Other conditions result in a widely different time of day for the maximum temperature; sometimes during the middle of the night.
    Why would the Milankovitch cycles each not have a time lag? These time lags would not be the same and could, in combination with climate response, change. A summation could generate (overall) periods that are at present about 90 ka, that oscillate wildly between an overall cycle: adding constructively and destructively where one or the other prevails. But hahaha there could even be an as yet undiscovered astronomical input that could rationalize the quantal change in period of the last couple of millions of years.

  71. Mark, it would seem adaptation would be the way to deal with it. There will be larger coastal area and the southern hemisphere is not glaciated as much, but the climate will change. Irrigation would also be helpful. We’ll just have to see. At least our farmers know to adapt and what to change.Those are just my thoughts.

    Tom in Florida should be ok. Of course the ones in denial will have difficulty. :)

  72. Duster says:
    June 15, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    S.D. skeptic says:
    June 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Midwestern farmers remember the basic rules for ice vs. liquid water, thelastdemocrat … 10 inches of snow, depending on how wet it is, of course, equals only an inch of water, i.e. water EXPANDS as it freezes. So that’s why the ice towering over the skyscrapers seems disproportionate to the amount of water now in the oceans.

    This is so wrong. Sorry, it is a valiant try but ….

    I think S.D. skeptic was just kidding….

    It’s too bad the artist didn’t include the mile worth over New York.

    I don’t think New York City had that much ice.
    http://www.state.nj.us/dep%2Fnjgs%2Fenviroed%2Finfocirc%2Fglacial.pdf says:

    Most of the glacial sediment in New Jersey was deposited during the last ice age. During this period an ice sheet advanced southward in small lobes following the Hudson, Passaic, Hackensack, Kittatinny, and Delaware Valleys. Over time, the glacier ice became thick enough to flow over Kittatinny Mountain, New Jersey High- lands, and Watchung Mountains. Its furthest advance in most places is marked by the Terminal Moraine, which forms a nearly continuous low ridge from Belvidere through Perth Amboy to New York (fig. 1).

    At the terminal moraine, the glacier will only be a few hundred feet thick, I believe.

  73. A good example of why cold kills. It then entombs you, then crushes you, and if that weren’t enough, it then destroys the neighborhood.

    Why Warmistas want more of the cold is beyond me. It makes no sense whatsoever.

  74. The problem seems to be that when paying attention only to orbital parameters, something else directly related gets left out. At present time our northern and southern hemispheres track rather closely in temperatures yet the solar TSI varies with the year and perihelion is near the NH winter solstace, providing the SH with significantly more power than the NH. The difference is that most land is in the NH and most ocean water is in the SH. It also means that more water is available in the SH for evaporative cooling and cloud formation and it means that the surface albedo in the SH is much less, oceans being more like 0.04 and most land being 0.12 to 0.16. Of course heat flow will try to minimize temperature differences as well but it would seem we have a fairly decent balance over a significant variation of actual solar energy absorbed in the two hemispheres.

    I suggest it is not a foregone conclusion that our next glaciation can’t happen for 10k to 50k years because the nature of Earth’s surface, continents, Isthmus of Panama blockage, oceans must also factor into the conditions for glaciation as well as the potential for trigger events like asteroids, giant fires, volcanic erruptions, and statistically low liklihood weather patterns and cycles.

  75. JM VanWinkle says:
    June 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    JM,
    Here is a file worth reading, although from 2005. The authors use model scenarios however the strengths and weakness of those models are discussed. Many interesting ideas but no firm conclusions except that NH June, July, August temperatures seem to be the limiting factor in the creation of permanent NH ice sheets. Obliquity was the most dominant of the 3 orbital parameters but could be overridden at times by the eccentricity/precession combination when other smaller amplifying conditions came into play. I found it interesting that there was a representation that CO2 was one of the amplifiers but with no claim to anthropogenic CO2, just CO2 ppm in general. There seemed to be thresholds where CO2 could tip the scales when the orbital parameters were battling it out to bring on a new glacial period or not: under 270 ppm no effect on ice sheets, between 270 -350 ppm limiting of ice sheets, above 350 ppm no ice sheets. If his turned out to be correct, we may have actually prevented the onset of the next glacial period, at least for a while anyway.

    But as you said, I have no worries here in Florida. Life has been evolving in warm areas through many hundreds of thousands of years of glaciations. Warmer is always better.

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/staff/ajahn/TheoriesLGI_Jahn.pdf

  76. “I’ve been trying to jazz it up recently by telling tales of Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants. However when you introduce new stuff you learn new stuff. There may not have been snow up in those passes, back then, but still it was pretty cold for elephants. Apparently some got pneumonia and died.”

    They all did, from what I remember. One lasted until the following spring, but was too sick to go on the campaign. It died shortly thereafter.

  77. JM VanWinkle says:
    June 14, 2013 at 6:59 pm
    ….So, I am wondering if this might be the point of regime change, with the sun going quiet and the ocean cycles going negative. Any brave souls out there that has a tea leaf read on it or, even better, reasons?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Try the following WUWT threads:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/01/05/on-“trap-speed-acc-and-the-snr/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/30/the-antithesis/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/02/can-we-predict-the-duration-of-an-interglacial/

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