Penn State on "the consequences of thawing"

From Penn State

Polar climate change may lead to ecological change

Ice and frozen ground at the North and South Poles are affected by climate change induced warming, but the consequences of thawing at each pole differ due to the geography and geology, according to a Penn State hydrologist.

“The polar regions, particularly the Arctic, are warming faster than the rest of the world,” Michael N. Gooseff, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, told attendees today (Aug. 11) at the 96th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Austin, Texas. “As a consequence, polar ecosystems respond directly to changes in the earth systems at the poles.”

These changes, though different at each pole, could be significant in their effects on not only the local environment, but also globally. While the central part of the Arctic is composed of ice over water, northern Canada, Alaska, Siberia and Greenland all have landmasses within the Arctic Circle. The associated land and water ecosystems are affected by melting ice and thawing soils, but in Antarctica, where much of the ice overlays a continent, the warming alters streams, lakes and the tiny plants and animals that live there.

“Our focus on the north is in part because it is inhabited, but it is also because the ice there is more vulnerable,” said Gooseff. “Temperatures and snow and rain across the tundra shifts annually and seasonally. We know that fall is beginning later than it once did.”

In the Arctic, where there is more immediate feedback from the higher temperatures, the warming is degrading permafrost, the layer of the ground that usually remains frozen during annual thawing events. This causes creation of a boggy, uneven landscape with a disturbed surface. Subsequent rain or snowmelt can erode this surface carrying silt and sediment into bodies of water, changing the paths of rivers and streams. Debris flows are also a common occurrence in degraded permafrost areas.

“Algae, insects and fish all must deal with this increased level of sediments,” said Gooseff.

Extended frost-free time causes soils that do thaw annually to have longer active periods when microbes can mineralize nutrients. While the soils remain frost free longer, plants continue their normal cycle dictated by the length and intensity of daylight, which has not changed. Microbes may continue to create nutrients, but the plants no longer use them, so that when rain or meltwater comes the nutrients leach into the rivers and streams.

“That is exactly what we are seeing,” said Gooseff. “In September and October, we see a substantial increase in nutrients in the water. Concentrations increase many times for nutrients such as nitrate and ammonium.”

Another problem with degrading permafrost is the release of the carbon that was permanently trapped in frozen organic materials in the frozen ground. Warming will eventually liberate carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

“It is estimated that the permafrost contains twice the amount of carbon that is currently in our atmosphere,” said Gooseff.

We think of Antarctica as a vast empty place, but lakes and streams exist in several polar desert oases, including the McMurdo Dry Valleys. These bodies of water are filled with a variety of life including microbial mats, plankton and filamentous algae.

“While there are no bugs or fish in these waters, there are diverse microbial communities,” said Gooseff. “Some algae in the dry valleys go dormant for nine months or more and then begin to grown when hit by meltwater.”

Because there is so much permanent ice in Antarctica, the annual impact of increased temperatures on its environment is slower than in the Arctic. The huge expanse of white ice reflects some of the heat energy into the atmosphere.

“We expect in the next several decades that we will see the Antarctic start to warm up,” said Gooseff.

The Antarctic permafrost is very dry with high nitrogen concentrations in some places. When water reaches some of these dry soils, it will mobilize the nutrients and increase potential habitat for freshwater aquatic communities in Antarctica. This climate change will alter the flow patterns, expand the stream networks, and change both the location of habitats and the timing of life cycles.

“Beside the information that we can obtain about climate change on Earth, understanding what happens in Antarctica is important to understand what happens on Mars,” said Gooseff. “There is potential for microbial communities on Mars, and if they exist they will probably be similar to the McMurdo Dry Valley communities.”

###

The National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs supported this work.

62 thoughts on “Penn State on "the consequences of thawing"

  1. Well now I am vewy, vewy afwaid.
    And I just had to dodge large chunks of falling sky as I drove into work this morning.

  2. You know, Gooseff just may, could, possibly be right. Even if he’s not. If only he can get another grant…….

  3. “The polar regions, particularly the Arctic, are warming faster than the rest of the world,”
    Please provide your citations of empirically-based peer-reviewed literature to support this opening statement.
    “As a consequence, polar ecosystems respond directly to changes in the earth systems at the poles.” Is this guy a scientist? One would be surprised if polar ecosystems did not respond at the poles. WUWT?

  4. I’m sorry but the evidence for Artic warming comes mostly from thermometers located up to 1200 km away … even so given the average annual temperatures the Artic is a long way from “thawing” …

  5. Absolutely mind boggling. Just…. wow.
    The level of disconnect from reality is stunning… but the entire premise that everything is warming (when, clearly, that is not the case) is almost pathological.

  6. Slightly OT, but still….
    About this polar bear thing: Has anybody actually confirmed that a reduced ice pack is actually bad for the polar bear population, or is it just an assumption? What studies have been done?
    How do we know that the current ice pack is optimal or less than optimal? Was the ice pack during the Little Ice Age more conducive to the polar bear population? And how about the animals the polar bears hunt? There is a strong relationship between predators and their prey. A low population of prey will only support a small population of predators. Is more ice better for the seal population, or is more open water better?
    Exit Question : What does a polar bear eat?
    Answer: Anything it wants.

  7. Excuse my skepticism, but isn’t Penn State the current home of Michael Mann? Given Mann’s stellar reputation with regards to “climate change” research (I’m being sarcastic here), and given the whitewash Penn State officials and academics did when looking into Mann’s emails with regards to climategate, I give no credibility to anything anybody from Penn State publishes. With the exception of Joe Paterno of course.

  8. “associate professor of civil and environmental engineering” I’m all for civility, in engineering and in other disciplines, but environmental engineering? Sounds like landscape gardening to me.

  9. People get paid to publish this stuff? I mean the taxpayer actually forks out real money for this 10th grade childrens science project? What happens if the bear nips into the woods for a poo? Is the Pope a catholic and if so what does that mean for protestants. If ifs and ands were pots and pans there’d be no need for tinkers.
    Anyone could walk into a school library for an afternoon of looking through their ‘Janet & John’ science books and come out with a paper like this at the end of it. IF the climate changes the ecosystems might also change maybe in some funny ways possibly and that might be good or bad depending on circumstances. If this is the gold standard for taxpayer funded science then no wonder climate science is in deep doo doo. There are science books from the 19th century with more relevant in depth cutting edge original research.
    “Polar climate change may lead to ecological change” ? Okaaay!
    But then again maybe IF the climate gets colder it MAY not lead to ecological change and even IF cyclic natural climate change occurs the resulting change MAY be positive. This aint science is it? Its gravy train exploitation.
    “We expect in the next several decades that we will see the Antarctic start to warm up,” said Gooseff.”
    Ill just bet he did, with an eye to more funding of course. Of course there is no real solid evidence to support that assertion apart from failed models but by the time that rolls around Mr grant vampire will be retired.

  10. Yawn. Wake me up when you can hand-dig graves, as the Vikings did, in Greenland graveyards now locked in permafrost.

  11. Since Antarctica is mostly cooling, and is predicted to warm if anything very slowly during this century, the initial quotation of this post:
    “The polar regions, particularly the Arctic, are warming faster than the rest of the world,” might be as well the opposite:
    “The polar regions, particularly Antarctica, are warming slower than the rest of the world,”
    In fact, for every IPCC scenario, and for a given rise in average temperature, the Arctic would be above average, temperate latitudes would be at or below average, the tropics below average, and Antarctica in the vicinity of zero.

  12. More evidence of how erroneous dead polar bear reports affect the grant process. I suggest the Alarmist Science Cadre spend more time above 75º lat installing thermometers and less time in Cancun and Portugal talking modeling them.

  13. I just love a good scary story.
    Might, May, Could, Possible, Estimate, Potential
    The plot line may seem a bit formulaic to some, but matters not a whit to me.
    BOO!!!

  14. This sounds like a policy gray paper statement, not research. It also sounds like a way to connect wanted funds for Mars research to climate change in the Antarctic. Is there a list of resources used to substantiate the claims made in this nothing-more-than-an opinion piece?

  15. “It is estimated that the permafrost contains twice the amount of carbon that is currently in our atmosphere,” said Gooseff.
    Reading that sentence, I’m imagining all these pieces of graphite floating around in the atmosphere. When somebody who claims to be a scientist doesn’t know the difference between carbon and CO2, how can they produce any scientifically literate work? I mean, it would be like having an accountant who doesn’t know how to add up.

  16. Yeah well our hydrologist/civil engineer/environmental scientist/polar biologist named four of the lands that have land within the arctic circle. Here are another four:
    Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. I guess 50% isn’t bad for a specialist on the arctic these days. Al G got a Nobel prize for discovering the centre of the earth was millions of degrees C.
    Also, re melting in the Antarctic:
    “While there are no bugs or fish in these waters, there are diverse microbial communities,” said Gooseff. “Some algae in the dry valleys go dormant for nine months or more and then begin to grown when hit by meltwater.”
    Isn’t it clever (or lucky) of these little beasties to anticipate there would be meltwater on Antarctica especially since it was unprecedented.

  17. Obviously, the Polar Bears will soon be turning brown, like they once were. And contrary to the above, do not eat anything they want, but anything they can catch. Brown bears do a lot of grazing and perhaps Polar Bears will soon be able to do the same (easy to catch grass). All in all, this forecast is good for the bears, though I do not see that mentioned.

  18. Telboy says: August 12, 2011 at 8:31 am
    Telboy, perhaps the biggest application of civil engineering is sewage treatment. Some time ago schools found it easier to attract students, etc., by calling this environmental engineering. Of course, all sorts of silly studies followed.

  19. I can remember some website citing over 20 publications that all claimed that one region or another was warming more than average than all other places in the world.
    If you counted them all up there must be some region in he world cooling very dramaticaly or else the avergage warming could not be reached.
    Could be my refrigerator, I turned the button from 6 Degrees Celcius to 4.
    Harry

  20. Telboy says:
    August 12, 2011 at 8:31 am
    “associate professor of civil and environmental engineering” I’m all for civility, in engineering and in other disciplines, but environmental engineering? Sounds like landscape gardening to me.
    —-
    That’s more a consequence of advancing technology with some push by regulation. Pre-about 1980, it was primarily a BCE, but post that, general and structural broke apart. With the EPA (also COE) grinding out regulation, environmental came into being with the main issues being water supply, sanitary treatment, stormwater runoff and detention/retention, wetlands with lot’s of chemistry and biology stuff becoming attached. No doubt that some in the profession emphasize looking for problems, like climate change, which then allows them to be hired to solve them (don’t all professions have them?), but that’s not the bulk of environmental engineering.

  21. ‘“We expect in the next several decades that we will see the Antarctic start to warm up,” said Gooseff.’
    Unbelievable! What could he possibly mean? Does he believe that it has not warmed? If so, then he believes that it might start warming several decades down the road? So, what is he going to do until several decades pass and there is something to study?

  22. “We know that fall is beginning later than it once did.”
    Later! Did he say? The leaves on the sycamore trees on the edge of my garden are turning yellow already. And this is the middle of August!

  23. A. C. Osborn says:
    August 12, 2011 at 8:44 am
    Can this possibly have passed Peer Review?

    Of course it did –
    A peer is defined as: “a person who is equal to another in abilities, qualifications, age, background, and social status.”
    Need we say more?

  24. Interesting – 30+ comments and it doesn’t appear a SINGLE one is actually addressing what the study was about.
    The typical “I reject this because…..”
    Refute this – ‘In September and October, we see a substantial increase in nutrients in the water. Concentrations increase many times for nutrients such as nitrate and ammonium.”’
    How else does that happen?
    You guys can’t claim to be defenders of science and then respond as you have above – it’s just a bunch of political ranting at this point based on your responses….

  25. “We know that fall is beginning later than it once did.”
    Who are “we”? And as Richard111 amply points out, so turneth the leaves of my neighbor’s poplar/cottonwood/aspen, at the beginning of August. The above statement is pure garbage, standing starkly against a backdrop of conjecture in the rest of the article. This arm of science has ceased to be scientific.

  26. Joe Bastardi must be beside himself, seeing this kind of alarmist tripe emanating, like a bad odor, from his alma mater.

  27. Bystander says:
    August 12, 2011 at 10:03 am
    “Interesting – 30+ comments and it doesn’t appear a SINGLE one is actually addressing what the study was about.”
    Given what the author wrote, the study was not about anything.

  28. Bystander says:
    August 12, 2011 at 10:03 am
    “Interesting – 30+ comments and it doesn’t appear a SINGLE one is actually addressing what the study was about.”
    WHAT SCIENCE?
    Do you actually have the nerve to call that paper Scientific?

  29. @Nuke, August 12, 2011 at 8:25 am: The City of San Francisco could import some of those homeless polar bears to feed on the population of seals that currently inhabits Pier 39. The tourists would also enjoy them. They might even feed them!

  30. @Bystander And the level of discourse is getting worse. You can say anything you want unless your post mentions the nouns for an acronym of Denali

  31. Bystander says:
    August 12, 2011 at 10:03 am
    Interesting – 30+ comments and it doesn’t appear a SINGLE one is actually addressing what the study was about.
    The typical “I reject this because…..”
    Refute this – ‘In September and October, we see a substantial increase in nutrients in the water. Concentrations increase many times for nutrients such as nitrate and ammonium.”’
    How else does that happen?
    You guys can’t claim to be defenders of science and then respond as you have above – it’s just a bunch of political ranting at this point based on your responses….

    Your are really missing the point: Nobody refutes that climate change will alter the ecology. That’s why so many posters decried the study as pointless, a waste of time and money, politically motivated, etc.
    You gotta break these things down. You know, deconstruct what’s really going on. In street language, that’s called breaking down what’s going down, as in let me break down for you why this study is a pointless waste of time and money.
    Savvy?

  32. Nuke says:
    August 12, 2011 at 8:25 am
    “Slightly OT, but still….
    About this polar bear thing: Has anybody actually confirmed that a reduced ice pack is actually bad for the polar bear population, or is it just an assumption? What studies have been done?”
    Good questions. I thought Polar bears swim in search of food… like me driving to New York City in search of a paycheck.
    I don’t drive to New York when i can get my paycheck in New Jersey. I stay where the paycheck is. i think polar bears are atleast as smart as me, and i think they will stay where they can find their food, namely Seals and “boat rowing enviros”.
    Any study that contradicts that conclusion is most probably a grant grabbing work…

  33. At least here in Finland there has been NO warming above Polar Circle.Period.
    Our own Finnish Meteorogical Institute is lead by a person who also is a member of the WWF, so anyone who wants to get real temperature data has to do little extra work, but real measurements show no real warming in Lapland for the last 100 years.
    As mentioned ,our FMI is a corrupted club of leftist greens, but Finns are starting to see how they have been fooled by FMI and MSM. It is one of the reasons our biggest party is now the “Perussuomalaiset”, “True Finns”in English.The real translation is more like “Down-to
    -earth, honest , and common sense Finns”, as “perus” is a word with many meanings.
    People are getting tired to lies.
    I am quite sure that Anthony Watts has already earned a well deserved place in the World History.
    In the future, Abraham Lincoln is not going to be the only person that comes to mind when the Thruth is mentioned.The proof of that is the fact that all Finnish greens know(and fear/hate) the name Anthony Watts.That says something, doesn’t it?

  34. Yes, I can see it from my front gate, all of that frozen ground at the north pole; which seems to have melted, and flooded, and then refrozen again. I tell you it’s a tragedy !

  35. Bystander says:
    August 12, 2011 at 10:03 am
    Interesting – 30+ comments and it doesn’t appear a SINGLE one is actually addressing what the study was about.
    The typical “I reject this because…..”
    Refute this – ‘In September and October, we see a substantial increase in nutrients in the water. Concentrations increase many times for nutrients such as nitrate and ammonium.”’
    Bystander,
    Does Michael N. Gooseff give any citation that we can get a hold of? i did not see any in anthony’s note

  36. @RayG,
    San Francisco is well known for being friend to the homeless. I’m sure they won’t like you feeding the homeless to the polar bears!

  37. Bystander says:
    August 12, 2011 at 10:03 am
    Interesting – 30+ comments and it doesn’t appear a SINGLE one is actually addressing what the study was about.
    The typical “I reject this because…..”
    Refute this – ‘In September and October, we see a substantial increase in nutrients in the water. Concentrations increase many times for nutrients such as nitrate and ammonium.”’
    How else does that happen?
    You guys can’t claim to be defenders of science and then respond as you have above – it’s just a bunch of political ranting at this point based on your responses….

    Why would we refute something that has been known for over a century? As temperatures warm, microbial activity increases, meaning the presence of more of the by-products of that activity. In a watershed environment, said materials flow down stream to be deposited in deltas. The microbial aspect is only a century old, but the general effect has been known since the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt, i.e. the annual flood of the Nile fertilizing the soil.
    And that is the point of most disparaging comments – this is common knowledge and common sense stuff. It is also the most scientific comment that is presented by Gooseff. I would be ashamed to present this “study” at any scholastic level higher than middle school.

  38. ‘In September and October, we see a substantial increase in nutrients in the water. ‘
    So its that actual usual for this time of year or usual given the natural variation of a yearly cycle ?
    In the end is this not just a claim of ‘things could get worse ‘based on a ‘we don’t understand’ backed up with ‘what I think is ‘
    Bottom line speculation of doom which requires ‘of course ‘ more research and so funded , although they been smart enough to put the time of doom long enough in the future so they will be long gone once it turns out to be BS.

  39. Gooseff: “Some algae in the dry valleys go dormant for nine months or more and then begin to grown when hit by meltwater.”
    I know how they feel. Meltwater can be mighty cold.
    Mostly though, I groan whenever I see “studies” like these.

  40. I keep seeing references to thawing permafrost, as if it is a current situation. Often, a careful reading reveals that it is being discussed in a particular paper or report as a possible future event. In other cases, it’s being discussed as something observers in road cuts, construction sites and mining operations. Sorry, these latter do not count.

  41. Thanks to R Taylor and Dusty for bringing me up to date on environmental engineering – little did I realise when I worked on sewage treatment plants 40 years ago that I was engaged in something as cool sounding as that. I was in a work study team at the time and we just thought it was a matter of timing the motions, and going with the flow (chart). How much more impressive it would have been to tell people that I was in environmental engineering. Ah well, too late now…

  42. How do peer reviewers not catch such blatant bias in a paper?
    “In the Arctic, where there is more immediate feedback from the higher temperatures, the warming is degrading permafrost, the layer of the ground that usually remains frozen during annual thawing events. This causes creation of a boggy, uneven landscape with a disturbed surface…”
    Why use the word “degrading”? Why not “changing”? “Degrading” is a plea to emotion and a judgement that boggy, uneven landscape with a disturbed surface is somehow worse than “frozen”.
    The paper says nothing new. Why publish emotive opinion?

  43. Nuke says:
    August 12, 2011 at 8:25 am
    About this polar bear thing: Has anybody actually confirmed that a reduced ice pack is actually bad for the polar bear population, or is it just an assumption? What studies have been done?
    There is an excellent article on the resurgence of polar bear populations in today’s UK Spectator by Matt Ridley. The important studies are referenced.

  44. We expect in the next several decades that we will see the Antarctic start to warm up,” said Gooseff.
    Maybe he got something right – two things, actually: (1) the Antarctic has not been warming, (2) Henrik Svensmark’s “polar see-saw” http://www.scribd.com/doc/338170/svensmark-2007cosmoclimatology Figure 6. Or see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_see-saw, but note two things about the Wikipedia entry: (a) it implies that clouds drive climate, and (b) the statement “the air there is largely isolated from the rest of the atmosphere by vortices in the ocean and air” is not supported by CO2 measurements at the S Pole which are very much in line with CO2 measurements elsewhere http://members.westnet.com.au/jonas1/CO2AtVariousStations.JPG. In fact, CO2 tends to reach the S Pole at about the same time as it gets to Mauna Loa, and before it gets to Barrow http://members.westnet.com.au/jonas1/CO2ChangesAt3Stations.JPG.

  45. Vince Causey says:
    August 12, 2011 at 8:57 am
    “It is estimated that the permafrost contains twice the amount of carbon that is currently in our atmosphere,” said Gooseff.
    Reading that sentence, I’m imagining all these pieces of graphite floating around in the atmosphere.
    ++++++++++
    Vince you are on the right track. Now, how much ‘carbon’ was in the trees that grew when that vast reservoir of ‘carbon’ was created? As soon as the permafrost starts to melt (seasonally) trees will start growing like mad. They are strange that way. By the time the ‘carbon’ emerges from the soil (putatively as methane) there will already be far more ‘carbon’ in the tree cover than there is presently in the soil. This entire permafrost-killing-us-with-methane bogeyman story is nonsense.
    Now Gooseff, how much carbon in contained in the soils of the tree-covered Taiga? Come on now, is it less or more than treeless permafrost? Admit it! There’s a lot more, isn’t there! Melting permafrost will subtract huge amounts of carbon-dioxide from the atmsphere.

  46. Bystander says:
    August 12, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Interesting – 30+ comments and it doesn’t appear a SINGLE one is actually addressing what the study was about.
    The typical “I reject this because…..”
    Refute this – ‘In September and October, we see a substantial increase in nutrients in the water. Concentrations increase many times for nutrients such as nitrate and ammonium.”’
    How else does that happen?
    You guys can’t claim to be defenders of science and then respond as you have above – it’s just a bunch of political ranting at this point based on your responses….

    Bystander, as always there is a mix of comments on this site. Some are reasonable, some are not. Part of the problem is that there is a misunderstanding. You seem to think that there is a “study” under discussion, and that study was “about” something.
    In fact, near as I can tell it is a report, not a transcript but a report, of a speech given to a meeting of the Ecological Society of America. It does not contain a single reference or citation to anything. It is a statement of the beliefs of the person giving the speech. It’s not clear if he was interviewed, or whether the statements were taken from the speech.
    As such, it is not a “study” of anything. In addition, it is almost unfalsifiable, as it does not contain a single number to quantify even one of his quoted statements. It’s all about “substantial” and “increased” and the like. And without numbers, it is scientifically meaningless. It is interesting as a statement of his beliefs, but in its present form (extracts from a speech without supporting documents or presentation slides) it is uncheckable and unfalsifiable.
    So I’m not clear what kind of scientific comments you are looking for. Is the earth generally warming? Over what time period? Here’s the satellite record, I graphed the latest data just now for you:

    Curiously, the north polar region didn’t warm at all from the start of the record to 1994. Since then, it is the fastest warming region on earth.
    Curiously, the south polar region didn’t warm at al from the start to the end of the record. In fact it cooled slightly (but not statistically significantly).
    You want science? Here’s my best scientific statement on the subject. Nobody knows why.
    Oh, they’ll say they do. They’ll say its a combination of this and that, they’ll speak very knowledgeably about the matter, but there’s not a person on earth who knows why the arctic didn’t warm at all for the first fifteen years of the record, and then warmed rapidly for the fifteen years after that.
    The modelers will assure you that their model knows why, or at least that if you take an average of thirty unranked models and squint at it from across the room it will look kind of like what happened. Or they’ll come out with my favorite, “natural variations”, as though giving it a name explained it.
    But nobody knows why that happened. And more to the point, no one knows what it will do for the next fifteen years.
    Nor do we have an explanation for the contemporaneous thirty-year temperature stability of the Antarctic. The good doctor assures us that he expects it to start warming in the near future … based on what? The best record we have shows no warming at all while the rest of the world has been warming. On what basis is he claiming that it will suddenly act differently? It may do so, to be sure, but asserting that it will do so has no historical basis.
    Our lack of knowledge of what we term “natural variations”, which really means the subject of the inner workings of the planetary-scale heat engine we call the climate, is staggering. If more climate scientists would learn do say “we don’t know”, we’d be a lot better off.
    That’s my read on the questions of the Arctic and Antarctic … but I’m just back from a week in Alaska, so I could be wrong. The place always messes with my mind, something to do with only a few hours darkness plus the intoxicating smell of damp rich vibrant northern forests, where every plant is hurrying and counting the days until winter …
    My best to all,
    w.

  47. It’s a crying shame that all the funding provided by the NSF to UAF-GI for northern hemisphere permafrost depletion studies doesn’t allow their findings to be disseminated to the world.
    The reports I’ve seen show that the depletion came to an end in 2005 with further temperature decreases since then. Good portions of the continuous and discontinuous permafrost regions get very close to 32 degrees F. and the ice lenses contained within the layers do provide rapid surface changes when they melt (thermokarsts, oblique depressions etc..), but I suspect that over the next two years the alarmists will need to change their tune, as the temperatures continue their drive downwards.
    Cheers:)

  48. “The polar regions, particularly the Arctic, are warming faster than the rest of the world,”
    Even if this statement were true it does not necessarily follow that the temperature change in the Arctic has anything to do with manmade CO2 emissions. No science here. They are drawing a long bow.

  49. N.C.;
    Do you see any evidence of Penn State embarrassment? If Mann is a measure of the place, it’s quite shameless. Defiantly so, in fact.

  50. Brian H says:
    August 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Willis, don’t know if you caught it, but our mutual good friend cementovershoes (or SLT 😉 ) posted an excellent demolition of the standard meme(s) about methane here.

    Brian H, it seems totally simplistic. Methane photochemistry is very complex, see here.
    w.

  51. But from the article, this “The absorption due to the 7.4 p band of methane increases linearly with CH4 concentration up to a mixing ratio of about 0.7 ppm, then more slowly above this level as the center of the band becomes saturated,” seems to be the core problem and misrepresentation.
    Take a look at the methane 7.4p band in the Cement posting. It’s a trivial notch compared either to CO2 or H2O. No way is it “21X” as potent as CO2. If anything, closer to the inverse of that ratio.

  52. Olen says:
    August 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm
    It is thinking like this that happens when you do it with virtual models instead of live ones.
    and in isolation.

  53. When I lived in Alaska, I managed building construction projects at Barrow, AK. I took a course in Arctic Engineering. We studied permafrost. Permafrost is defined as any material that has been contineously frozen for two or more years. Under that definination, solid rock is considered to be permafrost. Likewise peat moss and tundra, BELOW THE ACTIVE LAYER, are also considered to be permafrost. The active layer freezes and thaws with the seasons. The depth of the active layer depends upon the latitude, southern or northern exposures, vegetation and the nature of the soil. At Barrow, Ak. the active layer is anywhere from two to three feet thick. So, did this study actually measure, over some period of time, the actual depths of the active layer? Or did Professor Gooseff simply travel to the Arctic and observe the typical summer mud flats and bogs of the North Slope and simply opine that the permafrost is melting?
    Dave Bufalo
    Licensed Professional Civil Engineer

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