Movie Science: “We need to understand why in the last 30 years global warming is not uniform,”

[Note: part of the answer is in the photo they provide with the press release below, but they don't see it. - Anthony]

Greenland melting due equally to global warming, natural variations

University of Washington Press Office

The rapid melting of Greenland glaciers is captured in the documentary “Chasing Ice.” The retreat of the ice edge from one year to the next sends more water into the sea.

Now University of Washington atmospheric scientists have estimated that up to half of the recent warming in Greenland and surrounding areas may be due to climate variations that originate in the tropical Pacific and are not connected with the overall warming of the planet. Still, at least half the warming remains attributable to global warming caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions. The paper is published May 8 in Nature.

Greenland and parts of neighboring Canada have experienced some of the most extreme warming since 1979, at a rate of about 1 degree Celsius per decade, or several times the global average. 

“We need to understand why in the last 30 years global warming is not uniform,” said first author Qinghua Ding, a UW research scientist in atmospheric sciences. “Superimposed on this global average warming are some regional features that need to be explained.”

Greenland glacier

Greenland ice canyon filled with melt water in summer 2010. Ian Joughin, UW APL Polar Science Center

The study used observations and advanced computer models to show that a warmer western tropical Pacific Ocean has caused atmospheric changes over the North Atlantic that have warmed the surface by about a half-degree per decade since 1979.

“The pattern of the changes in the tropical Pacific that are responsible for remarkable atmospheric circulation changes and warming in Greenland and the Canadian Arctic are consistent with what we would call natural variability,” said co-author David Battisti, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences.

Researchers say it’s not surprising to find the imprint of natural variability in an area famous for its melting ice. In many of the fastest-warming areas on Earth, global warming and natural variations both contribute to create a “perfect storm” for warming, said co-author John “Mike” Wallace, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences.

The natural variations in the new study related to an unusually warm western tropical Pacific, near Papua New Guinea. Since the mid-1990s the water surface there has been about 0.3 degrees hotter than normal. Computer models show this affects the regional air pressure, setting off a stationary wave in the atmosphere that arcs in a great circle from the tropical Pacific toward Greenland before turning back over the Atlantic.

“Along this wave train there are warm spots where the air has been pushed down, and cold spots where the air has been pulled up,” Wallace said. “And Greenland is in one of the warm spots.”

In previous studies, Wallace and Battisti have documented the existence of decades-long climate variations in the Pacific Ocean that resemble the well-known shorter-range El Niño variations.

This particular location in the tropical Pacific may be a sweet spot for generating global atmospheric waves. A series of studies led by co-author Eric Steig, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences, working with Ding and Battisti, showed that waves starting in the same place but radiating southward are warming West Antarctica and melting the Pine Island Glacier.

Researchers can’t say for how long the tropical Pacific will remain in this state.

“Our work shows that about half of the warming signal in Greenland comes from the predictable part – forcing of climate by anthropogenic greenhouse gases – but about half comes from the unpredictable part,” Steig said.

This makes shorter-term forecasts difficult, but helps scientists to make more accurate long-range projections.

“Nothing we have found challenges the idea that globally, glaciers are retreating,” Battisti said. “We looked at this place because the warming there is really remarkable. Our findings help us to understand on a regional scale how much of what you see is human-induced by the buildup of CO2, and how much of it is natural variability.”

The dramatic message of “Chasing Ice” remains true, authors say.

“There’s nothing in this paper that negates the message in the movie,” Wallace said. “Ice appears to be exquisitely sensitive to the buildup of greenhouse gases, more than we ever would have thought.” Natural variations could either accelerate or decelerate the melting rate of Greenland’s glaciers in coming decades, he said, but “in the long run, the human-induced component is likely to prevail.”

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, UW’s Quaternary Research Center, the National Basic Research Program of China and the APEC Climate Center. Other co-authors are Lei Geng at the UW; Ailie Gallant at Australia’s Monash University; and Hyung-Jin Kim at South Korea’s APEC Climate Center.

###

Note the photo provided with the press release, here it is in full resolution: http://www.washington.edu/news/files/2014/05/Greenland2010-5.jpg

And my enlargement of a section of it:

Greenland_UW_melt_pix

Note the black at the bottom of the melt pool, that’s carbon soot. That’s something the UW authors aren’t paying attention to.

As I explain here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/03/greenland-ground-zero-for-global-soot-warming/

…it has a big effect on albedo, and thus absorbed solar insolation, likely far more so than CO2 forcing, as explained here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/13/in-the-arctic-nearby-soot-may-be-a-larger-forcing-than-co2/

UPDATE: Here is a map showing albedo change, the text is from the link below:

http://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/greenland-ice-sheet-getting-darker

Map of changes in the percent of light reflected by the Greenland Ice Sheet in summer (June-July-August) 2011 compared to the average from 2000-2006. Virtually the entire surface has grown darker due to surface melting, dust and soot on the surface, and temperature-driven changes in the size and shape of snow grains. Map by NOAA’s climate.gov team, based on NASA satellite data processed by Jason Box, Byrd Polar Research Center, the Ohio State University.

MODISalbedo_greenland2011_610[1]

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85 thoughts on “Movie Science: “We need to understand why in the last 30 years global warming is not uniform,”

  1. Layman trying to ask a common sense question here:

    Half the temperature increase? Really? Why not most of it? If the rest of the world is warming at a much slower rate then half that rate, maybe it’s much more than half?

  2. What I don’t get is, with all this modelling and VERY (sarc) high climate sensitivity, how is it that there’s still life on earth?
    Wouldn’t the extintion of the dinosaurs, due to a catastrophic event that obliterated the species, would have caused more damage than mere CO2 <0.04%v/v?
    Now, I am not sure if the dinosaur extintion due to the meteorite is a fact or theory. But if it is a fact, shouldn't it shed some light on how resilent the climate is?

  3. If they’re right, and 1/2 the warming is natural, then that about agrees with the recent lower estimates for sensitivity, and means that the expected 1.5C warming by 2100 is nothing to panic about.

    So Steig has joined us at last!

  4. I do not think that it matters in the short term that we do not understand ‘why’ this is happening. It can not be caused by global warming if the globe as a whole is not warming, effectively it is weather.
    The problem we all share with the policies of our governments are being sidetracked by the constant need to understand how and why things happen. In reality we are not going to get some of the answers for another thousand years and we need to focus on ‘what’ happens and accept that the how and why will come later.
    What is happening is that we are pumping ever increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere but the world (by our best estimates) is not warming.
    Get rid of all this green crap please ^.^

  5. Anthony, is it ALL carbon soot? Does wind blown glacial dust, or atmospheric dust, also take on a dark color when submerged? Not disagreeing about albedo effect, just wondering if carbon is the only source of dark coloration at the bottom of a melt pool on a glacier.

  6. “Ice appears to be exquisitely sensitive to the buildup of greenhouse gases, more than we ever would have thought.”

    “…more than we ever would have thought.” — Is that not an indication that previous understandings were not quite right? It’s impressive that some areas are warming, but it doesn’t necessarily add to confidence.

  7. Only half the temperature increase due to natural variations?
    Why only half?

    Why is it not uniform?
    Because climate is a complex phenomena, not understood by climate models.

  8. Anthony, do we have a good measure of the carbon deposition and volcanic ash over the years. It would be a good test of your hypothesis

  9. Can someone point to a chemical analysis of the black stuff in that Greenland pond?

    I’m sceptical that it is ‘soot’. Oh, and where does the red stuff that you see over arctic glaciers occasionally come from?

  10. Dear Anthony,

    Apparently the photo of your back yard snow with the soot don’t show up. Before I send out this link to my friends and fiends is it possible to make the photos work.

    Cheers Chris Hisgen (BS Honours, Mathematics & Applied Mathematics, Columbian College, George Washington University, 1977)

  11. Well done WUWT for finally starting to publish research papers that, like virtually all climate-related papers in Nature, attests to the reality of significant temperature increases caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

    REPLY: So like the authors of the paper, you missed what was in the photo too? – Anthony

  12. Well I would first want to answer the Question:-
    Why is (was) it, that BEFORE the last 30 years, global warming WAS uniform.

    It’s not supposed to be; everybody knows that the poles warm faster, because they can’t cool as fast as the tropics do, and because of the equator to polar temperature gradient, heat constantly flows from equator to poles. It’s that second law thingy !

    The hottest tropical desert surfaces, radiate at about twelve (12) times the radiation rate of the coldest polar regions.. That’s for +60 dg. C hottest daytime summer desert surfaces, to -94 deg. C Antarctic highlands Winter midnight..

  13. “Our work shows that about half of the warming signal in Greenland comes from the predictable part – forcing of climate by anthropogenic greenhouse gases – but about half comes from the unpredictable part,” Steig said.

    He’s claiming that the anthropogenic global warming part is the predictable part? Really?

    Did those predictions suddenly come true while I slept? Cause when I went to bed last night, they were dead wrong for coming up on two decades.

    And now this guy is telling us that half of the northern polar warming – the warming that is just barely holding the global average at zero warming – at least half of that is natural?

    He’s simultaneously proving that “global warming” predictions are more wrong than most people realize, while asserting that very same predictability.

    Idjits.

  14. I noticed the black snow, not the black water. And when you added the blown up section the dirty canyon walls. I had assumed (perhaps in error) that the water was deep there because it is filling a canyon and thus no light there and that’s why it is black.

    Either way, I’ve noticed the leave shaped holes in my skating rink after a leaf lands on it and the sun shines.

  15. During an interglacial period, glaciers should be receding. That is what happens during an interglacial period which is what we are now in, and have been in for that last 11,500 years. If glaciers started growing, then there would be cause for concern. I do wonder though how they arrived at manmade CO2 being responsible for half the warming recently. When glaciers were receding during the Holocene Optimum at a much higher rate than they are now, natural causes were doing 100% of the job, right?

  16. Hot under the collar says:
    May 8, 2014 at 7:41 am
    Only half the temperature increase due to natural variations?
    Why only half?
    Why is it not uniform?
    Because climate is a complex phenomena, not understood by climate models.

    More importantly, not understood by those who programme the models! I still gasp at the arrogance of climate modellers, who programme their models to show a given amount of warming for a given amount of CO2 & a pre-fixed climate sensitivity, & they claim that the answer coming out the other end is right!

  17. Billy Liar asks “where does the red stuff you see on glaciers come from?”

    That red stuff is a highly adapted bacteria called Chlamydomonas nivalis. The red tint is due to carotenoid pigments which protect them from UV. Where I live in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, these bacteria bloom around August when temps are above freezing.

  18. No soot in the pool ! Just a photograph, low sun angle, shadow and diminished illumination against a very bright foreground on top ! Particulate measured in Firn and glacier ice is at the ppm level. Not enough to make a difference.

    REPLY: No, sorry, you are wrong. It’s soot, dust, etc. people have sampled the bottom of those pools. Read the links provided before inserting foot in mouth. See map I’m adding from NASA showing deposition – Anthony

  19. Stupid question: how do you know it’s soot and not some dark tunnel carved into the ice?

  20. Dave in Canmore says:
    May 8, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Thanks Dave! I’ve seen it in Iceland in the summer. There’s plenty of black stuff there too but it is all rock flour, not ‘carbon’.

  21. If the Alpine glaciers can look pink in late summer from all the Saharan dust they pick up I’m pretty sure the Greenland ice cap can pick up plenty of black dust from the glaciers grinding away at the periphery of the island.

  22. I get so tired of the overworked “perfect [storm"] phrase. I never realized just how many perfect storms there were until I started following the AGW arguments. And was anyone else impressed by the statement that the tropical Pacific surface temperature was .3c “hotter?” Can anyone REALLY believe a rise in temperature of .3c is truly “hotter?” It’s really silly stuff like that that truly throws a lot of suspicion on whatever else they try to say. Oh yes, and the unpredictable natural variation makes it difficult to make short term prediction but easier to make long range prediction. Huh? Can the author REALLY believe this? Uncertainty only exists on the sort term, it falls out as you get further out? Wow.

  23. “If we can muddy the waters, so that no clear distinction exists between our climate change fraud-science and real climate science, then we can then claim whatever percentage we like as our drivers of change in future – in whatever proportion of science we decide and ascribe it to.”
    A nice, flexible PR strategy. A bit like the rubbery and user-friendly term for all seasons : ‘Climate Change’.

  24. To me the dark part looks like a deeper part of the water, i notice that there are no darker parts elsewhere or if it is does the movement of water carry it to one part.

    The bottom of the picture shows discoloration of the snow- soot? that has melted and yet everywhere else looks pristine.

  25. As I wrote in my last critique of Years of Living Dangerously

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/06/years-of-living-dangerously-pastor-rick-joyner-models-feynmans-ideal-scientist/

    Climate scientists as Los Alamos National Laboratories who concluded:

    “we find no direct evidence to support the claims that the Greenland ice sheet is melting due to increased temperature caused by increased atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. The rate of warming from 1995 to 2005 was in fact lower than the warming that occurred from 1920 to 1930.” 6 [emphasis added]

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/clip_image006_thumb.png?w=627&h=338

    As seen in their graph, Greenland temperatures show a more cyclical nature with more warmth in the 30s and 40s and in agreement with most tree ring studies.

    The retreat of Greenland’s glaciers has been largely due to intruding warm waters driven by changes in natural ocean oscillations. Those ocean oscillations increased the flow of warm Gulf Stream waters that eventually bathe the coast of Greenland and islands in the Arctic Ocean. Those warm currents melted the bottoms of any glaciers that terminated in the ocean.
    Greenland’s largest outlet glacier, Jakobshavn Isbrae, drains about 7% of the Greenland ice sheet and generates 10% of the Atlantic’s icebergs. During the Holocene Optimum beginning about 9000 years ago, Jakobshavn retreated further than its present day terminus and remained that way for almost 7000 years. It was only recently during the Little Ice Age, that Jakobshavn rapidly advanced several kilometers beyond today’s terminus.7

    The North Atlantic Oscillation and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation’s influences on warm ocean currents explain both Greenland’s cyclical temperature behavior and current glacial retreat. The glaciers’ most rapid 20th century retreat occurred between 1920 and 1950, followed by an advance in the 1970s and then a renewed retreat in 1998.7,8,9 [emphasis added]

    The rapid retreat of Jakobshavn between 1920 and 1940, as well as in the 1990s, corresponds to North Atlantic regime shifts during which warm waters from the Atlantic were pushed into the Arctic. Marine biologists wrote, “The warming in the 1920s and 1930s is considered to constitute the most significant regime shift experienced in the North Atlantic in the 20th century.”10 Fishery biologists observed that “species of fish such as cod, haddock and herring expanded farther north while colder-water species such as capelin and polar cod retreated northward. The maximum-recorded movement involved cod, which spread approximately 1200 km northward along West Greenland.” The warm water and associated species lingered for 2 more decades before retreating in the 1960s.

    Reference are can be found at the end of that essay http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/06/years-of-living-dangerously-pastor-rick-joyner-models-feynmans-ideal-scientist/

  26. Billy Liar says:
    May 8, 2014 at 7:47 am
    “Oh, and where does the red stuff that you see over arctic glaciers occasionally come from?

    Do you mean the red algae?

    http://www.coolantarctica.com/gallery/scenic/icebergs2/Antarctica_iceberg2.htm

    I’ve seen some of this in the Canadian Rockies.
    ———————————————————

    “The study used observations and advanced computer models . .”

    I have a VIC 20 someplace (haven’t found it recently) and thought it quite advanced at the time I bought it. Same with a multifunction slide rule – but I do know where it is. Now I have a fancy system that’s soooo advanced.
    Maybe the writer means the underlying knowledge of the physical science expressed in multiple equations, lookup tables, pseudorandom number generators, and more is advanced. If so, why not explain?
    The writer (and researchers?) don’t seem to understand the difference. To quote Shania Twain: “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”

  27. Albedo darkening by volcanic ash on ice is the alternative explanation for the end of precambrian ice-house conditions, instead of high climate sensitivity co2.

  28. The linear thinking strikes again. They think that Nature is a linear function of causes and so they can do this: Effects(Natural_causes + Human_causes) = Effects(Natural_causes) + Effects(Human_causes), where in this case Effects(Natural_causes)=Effects(Human_causes). Unfortunately for them, even in the stupid computer models they have non linear PDEs. The linearity assumption does not hold. This does not stop them to use it again and again. A recent paper that ‘proved’ global warming is because of the human sin started with this assumption, too. Ex falso, quodlibet.

  29. From the press release above (Note to all: It is not really a “scientitifc article”, just a PR firm’s edited release of a scientific article):

    Computer models show this affects the regional air pressure, setting off a stationary wave in the atmosphere that arcs in a great circle from the tropical Pacific toward Greenland before turning back over the Atlantic.

    Now, how is this circulation “model” compatible with the long-term and short term polar vortex winds we DO know exist? The polar vortex is a well-known massive circulation pattern coming from the northwest Canada heading down towards the US then turning generally east heading towards the US east coast, right? Thus its Alaska-Northwest territory-midwest-northeast US – Canada east coast- Atlanta ocean path. The polar vertex moves slightly further north and further south as winter storms change – this past winter is was much further south than normal.

    But this “perfect storm” blindly crosses the polar vortex and near right-angles. And has never been measured nor observed before? Look, they are modeling the winds starting in an assumed location in the southwest pacific near Papua New Guinna. Then it flows up across the equator – across the southwest US heading northeast, across the US Midwest and eastern Canada, then up further north so that it ends up over Greenland.

    So, why is the polar vortex measured and discussed as a meteorological phenomenon, and this New Guinean-Greenland wind pattern never before discussed? Is it only in a model universe, not the measured universe?

  30. How do they know that exactly half is due to AGW and the other half is the unpredictable part? How did they come up with that figure of 50% AGW ?

  31. Since when do they have the detailed knowledge to allocate a rate of melting? The question is posed with the back drop of the multi-decade AMO cycle and solar cycles with variability in each and uncertainty from such long-term cycles with variability. The cheap way out as seen in modeling to date is to dismiss the uncertainty of the variability from these poorly understood long term cycles or to apply constants for them and call it good. Such variability might be used some day to modify the claim to a 60-40 split or a 70-30 split or what have you.

  32. In a sense they are back peddling from the apocalypse. Now it is only 50% due to evil humans. Last year it was all human CO2. Is it due to highconfidence that the AGW believers have ‘won’ and will see their self-serviing policies imposed no matter the facts?

  33. At the University of Washington it is wise to preface every paragraph with some variation of:

    “Nothing we have found challenges the idea that globally, glaciers are retreating”

    Then you are safe to challenge the idea that globally, glaciers are retreating.

  34. Always keep in mind that the burden of proof is on the warm-earthers. They came up with the hypothesis of cAGW, they must defend it. Especially since their “solution” to the “problem” is Draconian, toxic, deadly, and levies the greater share of such “remedial” or “precautionary” measures upon the poor of the world. We do not have to come up with explanations of the natural cycle drivers, or the proper way to measure stuff, or why their calculations and predictions are erroneous (not to mention self-serving)—the warm-earthers must vindicate themselves, not the other way around.

  35. “Half the temperature increase? Really? Why not most of it? If the rest of the world is warming at a much slower rate then half that rate, maybe it’s much more than half?

    The rest of the world warms at a slower rate because heat is piped to pole.

    If you want to argue for more than half, you have to actually have to DO WORK TO SHOW THAT.

    That work, since it involves attribution, can only be done with a GCM. it’s the only tool
    science has to answer “what if” questions about a system too large to fit in a lab.

  36. “In a sense they are back peddling from the apocalypse. Now it is only 50% due to evil humans. Last year it was all human CO2. Is it due to highconfidence that the AGW believers have ‘won’ and will see their self-serviing policies imposed no matter the facts?”

    Huh

    1. Its never all been human c02. its co2, land use change, black carbon, methane, ozone,
    etc.
    2. The argument has been we are 95% certain that Over half of the warming is due to
    human influence: human influence is MANY THINGS. the mean estimate for change
    in forcing due to humans is 2.3 Watts since 1750. C02 forcing is less than the total.

  37. Unless I’m reading it wrong, this quote appears to be from Mr. Wallace in an article at CTV News:

    “Unless global warming starts to accelerate at a rate far beyond what we’ve seen, it’s going to be a long time before weather statistics change so much from the human signal that it would become clearly detectable in the presence of natural variability.”

    Climate change not fully to blame for melting sea ice: study
    Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/climate-change-not-fully-to-blame-for-melting-sea-ice-study-1.1810977#ixzz318tASJ7j

  38. While it is an improvement they recognize that CO2 is not the be all, end all, it still boggles the mind they can quantify the portions when they cannot quantify the total.

  39. “Neil says:
    May 8, 2014 at 8:15 am
    Stupid question: how do you know it’s soot and not some dark tunnel carved into the ice?

    1. There is no evidence that this photo shows soot.
    2. Its assumed and asserted as fact.
    3. Note the lack of skepticism about this “evidence”

    That said, soot plays a role. thats part of the human forcing equation.

    If you want to know how much of a role soot plays you have to run a GCM.
    or you can just speculate and assert that it plays a major role.

    Science: build a tool to try to understand the role of soot.
    Politics: assert that its all down to soot. no comprehensive data, no methods, a few pictures, no testing of the hypothesis.. just assertion.

  40. Extra-tropical climate change Its mostly about how the excess heat is stored and transported from the tropics to the extra-tropics. The polar regions lose more heat than they gain radiatively and it is ocean cycles that drive the rise and fall in temperatures as shown in Greeenland’s instrumental record.

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/clip_image006_thumb.png?w=627&h=338

    The occasional abrupt summer-time warming events are due to stalled HIgh pressure systems. But such events are transitory and tell us no more about CO2 warming or heat accumulation than the warmest historical heat wave in Death Valley in 1913.

  41. To say that half is natural, not human-caused, is to say that you are a denier (of consensus, IPCC science). It is to say that any action to reduce human generated CO2 will have half the effect of the IPCC scenarios, and kill both the economics and the actual result of what is proposed “must” happen.

  42. Mosher,
    That work, since it involves attribution, can only be done with a GCM. it’s the only tool
    science has to answer “what if” questions about a system too large to fit in a lab.

    And suppose something important has been left out of the models. Or the models are of insufficient granularity to predict. Or you know – the really big elephant in the model room – suppose they got clouds wrong (and the modelers do admit that they “don’t understand clouds”). .

    No what good exactly is a model that is not well matched to the object observed? TBD.

    Simon

  43. Steven Mosher:

    At May 8, 2014 at 9:39 am you say

    1. There is no evidence that this photo shows soot.
    2. Its assumed and asserted as fact.
    3. Note the lack of skepticism about this “evidence”

    That said, soot plays a role. thats part of the human forcing equation.

    If you want to know how much of a role soot plays you have to run a GCM.

    Or you could refer to the literature on physical properties of soot..

    Soot (i.e. black carbon) has two climatic effects;
    (a) it combines with sulphate aerosol to provide a strong warming effect
    and
    (b) It settles on ice to reduce the reflectance of the ice.

    The warming effect was first reported by Jacobson
    (ref. Jacobson M Z ‘Strong radiative heating due to the mixing state of black carbon in atmospheric aerosols’ Nature 409, 695-697 (8 February 2001) )
    And has since been confirmed by several others.

    The Abstract of the Jacobson paper can be read at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v409/n6821/abs/409695a0.html
    and concludes its summary saying

    The magnitude of the direct radiative forcing from black carbon itself exceeds that due to CH4, suggesting that black carbon may be the second most important component of global warming after CO2 in terms of direct forcing.

    That is strong warming and it is localised to regions near its emission (n.b. it is local and NOT global warming) because the aerosol is washed out by rain in about 2 weeks.

    Black carbon which falls on ice increases radiative absorbtion by the ice and not every surface is coated with ice..

    Simply, the known properties of black carbon provide spatial variation to temperature changes (i.e. warming or cooling).

    Richard

  44. Patrick (the other one) says:
    May 8, 2014 at 9:32 am
    Unless I’m reading it wrong, this quote appears to be from Mr. Wallace in an article at CTV News:

    “Unless global warming starts to accelerate at a rate far beyond what we’ve seen, it’s going to be a long time before weather statistics change so much from the human signal that it would become clearly detectable in the presence of natural variability.”

    Climate change not fully to blame for melting sea ice: study
    Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/climate-change-not-fully-to-blame-for-melting-sea-ice-study-1.1810977#ixzz318tASJ7j

    That quote is not in the UW press release.
    Also missed from Patrick’s link is this quote from Wallace: “The ice melt is dramatic,” he said. “I would not claim to make any statement about the ice melt.”

    Have to wonder why he said that…

  45. Dung says:
    May 8, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I do not think that it matters in the short term that we do not understand ‘why’ this is happening. It can not be caused by global warming if the globe as a whole is not warming, effectively it is weather….

    It matters a great deal. The importance is that the article is an acknowledgement – an indirect one – that we do not, in fact, know how the climate works. If we really don’t know how climate works, and we don’t, then just what is being employed to “inform” policy decisions. Ask yourself, “if we don’t know how the climate works by it self then how can we possibly know what effects we are having on it? The persistent publication of global mean temperature changes glosses over that fact that some areas may be cooling while others warm. If the sum of the total is positive, the argument is that the globe is warming. Then, since the globe is warming and there is not much change in the solar constant, the argument is that changes must due to effects here on the deck. The investigators look around here on earth and ask, “what’s the biggest change here, and with wide-eyed astonishment conclude, ‘why, it’s us, the human race!'” The approach is superficially more sophisticated [e.g. Trenberth's energy budget], but that is the reductio ad absurdum.

    Socially, there’s a great deal of comfort to be had by some in the belief that “we did it,” and the consequent, “if we did it, then we can ‘un-did’ it.” Politically it offers a safe harbor for politicians that don’t want to go out on a limb. “We have met the enemy and he is us” is a good lead in for an “if we all work and sacrifice together” argument to distract people from real issues like poisoned rivers, unbreathable air, kidnapped girls, slavery (the PC term is “human trafficking” these days), North Korea, Ukraine and a host of other issues here at home that are far more intractable in the lack of near-term solutions that don’t involve lots of bullets and explosives.

  46. Poor old Mosh, still trying to sell us GCMs, when even the IPPC has given up on them. And as for Greenland ice’s death spiral, the only deaths are among poor deluded greenies who try to cross it. It is not heat prostration that gets them. Brett Keane

  47. Steven Mosher says:
    May 8, 2014 at 9:39 am


    1. There is no evidence that this photo shows soot.
    2. Its assumed and asserted as fact.
    3. Note the lack of skepticism about this “evidence”

    Science: build a tool to try to understand the role of soot.
    Politics: assert that its all down to soot. no comprehensive data, no methods, a few pictures, no testing of the hypothesis.. just assertion.

    Steven, I don’t get how you make up your mind what to open fire on. Does it really matter that the jeopardy contestant didn’t phrase his answer in the form of a question in this case, does it really affect the point? Say AW said ‘hmm, betcha that’s soot’ instead of ‘that’s soot’. Is difference in phrasing a substantial issue?

    I’m grouchy today, so no doubt I’ll realize later the problem is on my end. shrug

  48. Mosher: You don’t get 50-50 attribution for free because 50-50 is itself an attribution. The IPCC attribution analysis makes the Monty Python Witch Trial look logically rigorous by comparison, but at least they don’t pretend to start on the 50 yard line.

  49. “We need to understand why in the last 30 years global warming is not uniform,”

    Someone gave us a tiny clue some time back.

    Abstract – 2003
    James Hansen * , † , ‡ and Larissa Nazarenko * , †
    Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos
    Plausible estimates for the effect of soot on snow and ice albedos (1.5% in the Arctic and 3% in Northern Hemisphere land areas) yield a climate forcing of +0.3 W/m2 in the Northern Hemisphere. The “efficacy” of this forcing is ∼2, i.e., for a given forcing it is twice as effective as CO2 in altering global surface air temperature. This indirect soot forcing may have contributed to global warming of the past century, including the trend toward early springs in the Northern Hemisphere, thinning Arctic sea ice, and melting land ice and permafrost. If, as we suggest, melting ice and sea level rise define the level of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, then reducing soot emissions, thus restoring snow albedos to pristine high values, would have the double benefit of reducing global warming and raising the global temperature level at which dangerous anthropogenic interference occurs. However, soot contributions to climate change do not alter the conclusion that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been the main cause of recent global warming and will be the predominant climate forcing in the future.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/101/2/423.short

    Here are a few others from last year.

    Abstract
    Maria Sand et. al. – 30 July 2013
    Arctic surface temperature change to emissions of black carbon within Arctic or midlatitudes

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrd.50613/abstract

    =================
    Abstract
    Mei, Linlu et. al. – April 2013
    …Due to the special meteorological condition mentioned above, we can conclude that Eurasian is the main contributor of the Arctic pollutants and the strong transport into the Arctic from Eurasia during winter caused by the high pressure of the climatologically persistent Siberian high pressure region (Barrie, 1986)….
    adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013EGUGA..15.7222M

  50. “Our work shows that about half of the warming signal in Greenland comes from the predictable part – forcing of climate by anthropogenic greenhouse gases – but about half comes from the unpredictable part,” Steig said.

    Is this the “unpredictable” part part?

    Abstract
    ….The record indicates that warmer temperatures were the norm in the earlier part of the past 4000 years, including century-long intervals nearly 1°C warmer than the present decade (2001–2010). Therefore, we conclude that the current decadal mean temperature in Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability over the past 4000 years, a period that seems to include part of the Holocene…..
    [Takuro Kobashi et. al.]
    ——-
    Abstract
    An aerial view of 80 years of climate-related glacier fluctuations in southeast Greenland
    …………the recent retreat was matched in its vigour during a period of warming in the 1930s with comparable increases in air temperature. We show that many land-terminating glaciers underwent a more rapid retreat in the 1930s than in the 2000s,……
    [Anders A. Bjørk et. al. - 20 April 2012]
    ——-
    Abstract
    Greenland warming of 1920–1930 and 1995–2005
    “…the rate of warming in 1920–1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995–2005….”
    [Petr Chylek et. al. - 20 June 2006]
    ——-
    Abstract
    Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007
    “…The annual whole ice sheet 1919–32 warming trend is 33% greater in magnitude than the 1994–2007 warming….”
    [Jason E. Box et. al. - 2009]
    ——-
    Abstract
    Extending Greenland temperature records into the late eighteenth century
    “…The warmest year in the extended Greenland temperature record is 1941, while the 1930s and 1940s are the warmest decades….”
    [B. M. Vinther et. al. – 6 June 2006 [pdf]]
    ——-
    Abstract
    The State of the West Greenland Current up to 1944
    “….It is found that warmer conditions existed during the decade of 1880, followed by a colder period up to about 1920, when the present warm period began. The peak of the present warm period appears to have been reached in the middle 1930’s,…..”
    [M. J. Dunbar - 1946]
    ——-
    Abstract
    A period of warm winters in Western Greenland and the temperature see-saw between Western Greenland and Central Europe
    Particulars are given regarding the big rise of winter temperatures in Greenland and its more oceanic climate during the last fifteen years….
    Dr. F. Loewe – 1937

  51. Here are a few others.

    Abstract
    Maria Sand et. al. – 30 July 2013
    Arctic surface temperature change to emissions of black carbon within Arctic or midlatitudes
    ….. We find that BC emitted within the Arctic has an almost five times larger Arctic surface temperature response (per unit of emitted mass) compared to emissions at midlatitudes. Especially during winter, BC emitted in North-Eurasia is transported into the high Arctic at low altitudes. A large fraction of the surface temperature response from BC is due to increased absorption when BC is deposited on snow and sea ice with associated feedbacks…….

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrd.50613/abstract

    _______________________
    Abstract
    Tica Novakov et. al. – April 2013
    ……….The Black Carbon Story: Early History and New Perspectives
    BC heats the air, darkens the snow and ice surfaces and could contribute to the melting of Arctic ice, snowpacks, and glaciers……In this article, we trace the historical developments over about three decades that changed the view of the role of BC in the environment, from a pollutant of marginal importance to one of the main climate change agents….
    doi:10.1007/s13280-013-0392-8
    _______________________

    Lhermitte, Stef et. al. – EGU General Assembly 2013
    Changes in surface properties of the Greenland ice sheet (2000-2012)
    …Classification of the Greenland ice sheet surface into snow/ice with varying i) grain size, ii) melt water content and iii) impurity concentrations (soot, dust, cryoconite) shows the spatio-temporal patterns of surface properties that affect the albedo feedback…….This results in strong broadband albedo reductions that increase solar energy absorption (0.4 W/m2/yr) and again promote enhanced melt water production. Moreover, recent changes show ice exposure at higher elevations and increases in snow grain size on the interior of the ice sheet….
    adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013EGUGA..1510756L

  52. Steven Mosher says:
    May 8, 2014 at 9:39 am

    “Neil says:
    May 8, 2014 at 8:15 am
    Stupid question: how do you know it’s soot and not some dark tunnel carved into the ice?

    1. There is no evidence that this photo shows soot…..

    I decided to try and track down that photo to see if there wre any others from 2010 by the same researcher as per the caption ‘Greenland ice canyon filled with melt water in summer 2010. Ian Joughin, UW APL Polar Science Center’

    I found the page HERE. There are quite a few images. Do you have any idea what caused the dark areas on the following 2 photos might be? It’s certainly is not pristine ice.

    There are other photos from other years on the link below – 2006 to 2011.

    http://bigice.apl.washington.edu/photos.html

  53. A Yahoo article states that “”We find that 20 to 50 percent of the warming is due to anthropogenic [man-made] warming, and another 50 percent is natural,” Ding said.”.

    If this is true, I think the author may have her logic reversed because up to 80% is natural and up to half is man-made, contrary to what she says in the second paragraph:

    “Now University of Washington atmospheric scientists have estimated that up to half of the recent warming in Greenland and surrounding areas may be due to climate variations that originate in the tropical Pacific and are not connected with the overall warming of the planet. Still, at least half the warming remains attributable to global warming caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions. The paper is published May 8 in Nature.”

  54. Excellent point Anthony. I would draw your attention from the melt water pool to the snow in the extreme foreground of the photo: It displays all the characteristics of snow covered with dark contaminants. It is granular and riddled with cavities produced as the dark particles absorb light energy and burn down through the snow. This happens even at temperatures below freezing. Snow throughout the photo displays dark surface contamination and banding. Good find.

  55. Steve Mosher says “…soot plays a role. thats part of the human forcing equation.”

    Sure it is: there’s no soot from Canadian forest fires, is there?

  56. I see that this debris is deposited unequally in layers. These layers can correspond with atmospheric events that brought these deposits to Greenland in varying amounts. It is very plausible that as this canyon melted, the narrow bottom would become quite black from this debris (soot pollution, dust, ash, rock flour, etc). It is my guess that these layers have already been studied via ice cores and reported on.

  57. “Our work shows that about half of the warming signal in Greenland comes from the predictable part – forcing of climate by anthropogenic greenhouse gases…”

    If warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases is so “predictable,” then why didn’t any climate models predict the current 17 year pause? If it is so predictable, please predict how much global warming is going to occur over the next 5 to 10 years. Predicting what will happen by the end of the century means little because we will all be dead by then.

  58. Sleepalot says:
    May 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Grimsvotn and other Icelandic volcanos erupt quite regularly: where is the analysis of the black stuff on Greenland to show that it is ‘soot’. In my view ‘soot’ is being demonised like CO2.

    Show me the analysis!

  59. Looking at the close up photo with the dark layers it would indicate some ar hundreds to thousands of years old. This leaves the question of what caused them before mans recent influance.

  60. Grimsvotn and other Icelandic volcanos erupt quite regularly

    Don’t they drift the other way? I think you want the Kamchatka volcanoes, which are also very active.

  61. In the 1970’s (I think) they floated an idea of spreading soot on the ice caps to melt them. Nothing came of the idea and we cleaned up the air so people forgot about the idea. Today we have China burning massive amounts of coal in dirty power plants and they have figured out how to cover the ice caps in soot without the costly solutions that were thought up before. It will be interesting to see if we can hold off an ice age through the process of generating power.

  62. Thanks for the enlargement of a section of the photograph; Excellent!
    “We need to understand why in the last 30 years global warming is not uniform”?
    We need to understand the drivers of global temperatures, then we might see if this uniformity could possibly exist.
    “Still, at least half the warming remains attributable to global warming caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions.”
    Read: The models need extra CO2 to simulate that warming, and given that the models are “robust” and “skillful”, we are the only “attributable” source.

  63. They simply want to forget the cooling BS from the 1970s but it keeps coming back. If the world cools and they blame man then how can they forget the great global warming scare of the present? They have doomed themselves.

    New York Times – 1978
    An international team of specialists has concluded from eight indexes of climate that there is no end in sight to the cooling trend of the last 30 years, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=F40715F7395A13728DDDAC0894D9405B888BF1D3

    H/t

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/1978-government-experts-said-no-end-in-sight-to-global-cooling-polar-vortex-increasing/

  64. This makes shorter-term forecasts difficult, but helps scientists to make more accurate long-range projections.

    If they can’t the short-term forecasts right, how can they be confident of getting the long-range projections right? Is that like going east to get to the west, or north to go south?

  65. richard says:
    May 8, 2014 at 8:27 am

    To me the dark part looks like a deeper part of the water, i notice that there are no darker parts elsewhere or if it is does the movement of water carry it to one part.

    The bottom of the picture shows discoloration of the snow- soot? that has melted and yet everywhere else looks pristine.

    As someone else pointed out, there is much evidence of soot or dust deposition on most of the snow in the picture, especially the foreground. You have to look at the full resolution image, not just Anthony’s close-up. There is grey runoff all over. I think Anthony is right. The soot was probably deposited all over, and when the melting began, it started to wash together into more concentrated spots, and the sun kept those particles warmer than the surrounding snow.

  66. Mosher writes “If you want to know how much of a role soot plays you have to run a GCM. or you can just speculate and assert that it plays a major role.”

    Let me rewrite that for you.

    “If you want to know how much of a role soot plays you have to experiment by putting soot on the ice and measure the change of the rate of melting. Then you construct methods to measure the total amount of soot present in the environment. Then you calculate the effect complete with error margins.”

    What you DONT do it whack it in a GCM because GCMs cant answer that question scientifically.

  67. Mosher also wrote “Science: build a tool to try to understand the role of soot.”

    So Steve, your first instinct to answer this kind of question is to “build a tool” ?
    I would suggest your instinct regarding answering scientific questions has gone West.

  68. Jimbo writes “I found the page HERE. There are quite a few images. Do you have any idea what caused the dark areas on the following 2 photos might be? It’s certainly is not pristine ice.”

    It seems obvious to me that as snow and ice forms, it will contain various amounts of soot and dust. As it melts that soot and dust will be left/concentrated at the surface. Its very likely to be a positive feedback on the melting process. Some depths of ice and snow will have more or less soot depending on how much there was around at the time. Its quite probable much of that dust/soot will originally be volcanic in nature.

  69. it is not just soot from diesel and coal that greatly affects the albedo of normally ice covered cold regions. The Colorado Rockies in recent drought times (and likely the pre-Columbian times) have gotten Spring-time coatings of Red dust from the 4 corners region spring-time wind storms. The red dust in the snow pack obviously greatly intensifies solar radiation absorption and thus snow pack melt. That leads to earlier more intense melt runoffs, with less flows in the summer.

    The coming fall 2014 El Nino may provide enhanced winter- spring rains into 2015-2016 to suppress the aoelian red dust in the Southern Rockies. Along with simply more ElNino provided precip to the SW, the worsening drought-dust cycle may be broken by natural ocean cycle.

  70. TimTheToolMan says:
    May 8, 2014 at 8:25 pm
    ………………..
    …………….Its quite probable much of that dust/soot will originally be volcanic in nature.

    You may well be right but at least the point being made is that some of the lost albedo on Greenland ice not down to man? Where it is down to man it could originate from coal powered stations or industrial pollution. My point is that it perhaps has less to do with co2 than other factors such as wild fires (natural or arson?).

    Live Science – December 07, 2012
    Arctic Wildfire Soot Darkening Greenland Ice Sheet
    The glittering, icy landscape of Greenland is being marred by soot that falls from the smoke plumes of Arctic wildfires, new satellite-based research shows. That soot darkens the surface of the ice and makes it absorb more sunlight, hastening its melt.

    Researchers caught what they say are the first direct images of wildfire smoke drifting over Greenland this past summer with NASA’s Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite, which they presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco……

    http://www.livescience.com/25326-greenland-ice-soot-melt.html

    Abstract
    Asian dust transported one full circuit around the globe

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v2/n8/abs/ngeo583.html

    ==================
    Abstract
    Source Attribution of Black Carbon in Arctic Snow

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es803623f?journalCode=esthag

  71. TimTheToolMan, here are the Warmists at ‘Skeptical Science’ on soot on Greenland ice lowering albedo. See their graph “Greenland Ice Accumulation Area Albedo, July 2000 – 2012″.

    Skeptical Science – 7 January, 2013
    Dark matter for Greenland melting
    …..7.5% reflectivity decline in July for the upper elevations ice sheet, corresponding with 50 exajoules more solar energy absorption by the ice sheet for this month between 2000 and 2012. For the June-August [summer] period, the ice sheet is now absorbing and additional 1.5 times the total US annual energy consumption[1]. Part of the reflectivity decline is due to the effect of heat, rounding ice crystals, reducing light scattering. Another component of the decline is soot. But we don’t know if the effective importance of soot is 1%, 10%, 50%?…..

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?n=1804

  72. Jimbo says:
    May 9, 2014 at 5:27 am (replying to)

    TimTheToolMan, here are the Warmists at ‘Skeptical Science’ on soot on Greenland ice lowering albedo. See their graph “Greenland Ice Accumulation Area Albedo, July 2000 – 2012″.

    Skeptical Science – 7 January, 2013
    Dark matter for Greenland melting
    …..7.5% reflectivity decline in July for the upper elevations ice sheet, corresponding with 50 exajoules more solar energy absorption by the ice sheet for this month between 2000 and 2012.

    Funny thing, their graph (and its blatant ask-for-money trick in Skeptical Science) …

    See, the ACTUAL measured day-by-day albedo of the nearby Arctic sea ice across the summer days by Curry during her SHEBA experiments shows a variation of the arctic sea ice albedo between a high of 0.93 and a low of 0.45 in mid-July.

    Thus, NOT a 0.75 – 0.72 year-to-year variation – ASSUMING these people actually DID measure summer ice albedo at the same day-of-year each of the years! – but a actual variation of arctic surface ice albedo of 0.93 – 0.45. Do we call that a 50% decrease in albedo from April through July then back to 0.93 in late August and September? Or a 100% variation in albedo?

    A mere 2 weeks difference in sample dates each season would account for the difference they plotted on January 1 each year.

  73. Katherine says:
    May 8, 2014 at 4:18 pm
    This makes shorter-term forecasts difficult, but helps scientists to make more accurate long-range projections.

    If they can’t the short-term forecasts right, how can they be confident of getting the long-range projections right? Is that like going east to get to the west, or north to go south?

    Katherine, according to Steve Mosher “”they” know more about what happens after 2060 than before”

    steven mosher | February 17, 2013 at 3:27 am over at J. Curry’s.
    The physics of climate are such that we know more about what happens after 2060 than before. Strange but true.

  74. Mosher apparently wrote “The physics of climate are such that we know more about what happens after 2060 than before. Strange but true.”

    But the physics of climate change due to increased CO2 only says that the temperature of the ERL must increase and doesn’t say anything about what happens below that and definitely doesn’t say what must happen all the way down to ground level.

    Nevertheless the AGW believers all assume warming to ground level which then feeds back positively with increased water vapour. If only they could see their assumptions for what they are…

  75. To me it seems as if the glaciers have some sort of self-cleaning mechanism: soot comes down and blackens the surface, then the sun heats the blackened surface and the soot is washed away by the thus generated water until the surface is white again.
    The sun at these latitudes doesn’t shine in winter at all. But the soot comes down incessantly. If it isn’t washed out of the air by precipitation, then it comes down by the force of gravity, some day. If the amount of soot exceeds the self-cleaning capacity of these glaciers, then all glaciers ought to be grey or even black and the sun in summer will thaw and thaw and thaw. Finally, even during summer, soot will not cease to come down. So there must be some sort of balance between soot and precipitation like snow and rain. Is the current amount of precipitation sufficient to maintain that balance? If it is, then soot can’t be a significant factor for an assumed thawing of that glacier ice, else: gotcha – at least one of the suspects.

  76. “Ice appears to be exquisitely sensitive to the buildup of greenhouse gases…”

    How would anyone who makes such a stupid, anti-scientific statement as that expect to be taken seriously?

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