Claim: Fates of polar ice sheets appear to be linked

From the National Science Foundation – Press Release 12-115

Remote Siberian Lake Holds Clues to Arctic–and Antarctic–Climate Change

Photo of snow and ice covering a building at Lake E in the Russian Arctic.
Keys to climate change lie buried beneath “Lake E” in the Russian Arctic.
Credit and Larger Version

Intense warm climate intervals–warmer than scientists thought possible–have occurred in the Arctic over the past 2.8 million years.

That result comes from the first analyses of the longest sediment cores ever retrieved on land. They were obtained from beneath remote, ice-covered Lake El’gygytgyn (pronounced El’gee-git-gin) (“Lake E”) in the northeastern Russian Arctic.

The journal Science published the findings this week.

They show that the extreme warm periods in the Arctic correspond closely with times when parts of Antarctica were also ice-free and warm, suggesting a strong connection between Northern and Southern Hemisphere climate.

The polar regions are much more vulnerable to climate change than researchers thought, say the National Science Foundation-(NSF) funded Lake E project’s co-chief scientists: Martin Melles of the University of Cologne, Germany; Julie Brigham-Grette of the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and Pavel Minyuk of Russia’s North-East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute in Magadan.

The exceptional climate warming in the Arctic, and the inter-hemispheric interdependencies, weren’t known before the Lake E studies, the scientists say.

Lake E was formed 3.6 million years ago when a huge meteorite hit Earth, leaving an 11-mile-wide crater. It’s been collecting layers of sediment ever since.

The lake is of interest to scientists because it has never been covered by glaciers. That has allowed the uninterrupted build-up of sediment at the bottom of the lake, recording hitherto undiscovered information on climate change.

Cores from Lake E go far back in time, almost 30 times farther than Greenland ice cores covering the past 110,000 years.

The sediment cores from Lake El’gygytgyn reflect the climate and environmental history of the Arctic with great sensitivity, say Brigham-Grette and colleagues.

The physical, chemical and biological properties of Lake E’s sediments match the known global glacial/interglacial pattern of the ice ages.

Some warm phases are exceptional, however, marked by extraordinarily high biological activity in the lake, well above that of “regular” climate cycles.

To quantify the climate differences, the scientists studied four warm phases in detail: the two youngest, called “normal” interglacials, from 12,000 years and 125,000 years ago; and two older phases, called “super” interglacials, from 400,000 and 1.1 million years ago.

According to climate reconstructions based on pollen found in sediment cores, summer temperatures and annual precipitation during the super interglacials were about 4 to 5 degrees C warmer, and about 12 inches wetter, than during normal interglacials.

The super interglacial climates suggest that it’s nearly impossible for Greenland’s ice sheet to have existed in its present form at those times.

Simulations using a state-of-the-art climate model show that the high temperature and precipitation during the super interglacials can’t be explained by Earth’s orbital parameters or variations in atmospheric greenhouse gases alone, which geologists usually see as driving the glacial/interglacial pattern during ice ages.

That suggests that additional climate feedbacks are at work.

“Improving climate models means that they will better match the data that has been collected,” says Paul Filmer, program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the “Lake E” project along with NSF’s Office of Polar Programs.

“The results of this collaboration among scientists in the U.S., Austria, Germany and Russia are providing a challenge for researchers working on climate models: they now need to match results from Antarctica, Greenland–and Lake El’gygytgyn.”

Adds Simon Stephenson, director of the Division of Arctic Sciences in NSF’s Office of Polar Programs, “This is a significant result from NSF’s investment in frontier research during the recent International Polar Year.

“‘Lake E’ has been a successful partnership in very challenging conditions.  These results make a significant contribution to our understanding of how Earth’s climate system works, and improve our understanding of what future climate might be like.”

The scientists suspect the trigger for intense interglacials might lie in Antarctica.

Earlier work by the international ANDRILL program discovered recurring intervals when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted. (ANDRILL, or the ANtarctic geological DRILLing project, is a collaboration of scientists from five nations–Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States–to recover geologic records from the Antarctic margin.)

The current Lake E study shows that some of these events match with the super interglacials in the Arctic.

The results are of global significance, they believe, demonstrating strong indications of an ongoing collapse of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula and at the margins of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet–and a potential acceleration in the near future.

The Science paper co-authors discuss two scenarios for future testing that could explain the Northern Hemisphere-Southern Hemisphere climate coupling.

First, they say, reduced glacial ice cover and loss of ice shelves in Antarctica could have limited formation of cold bottom water masses that flow into the North Pacific Ocean and upwell to the surface, resulting in warmer surface waters, higher temperatures and increased precipitation on land.

Alternatively, disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may have led to significant global sea level rise and allowed more warm surface water to reach the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait.

Lake E’s past, say the researchers, could be the key to our global climate future.

The El’gygytgyn Drilling Project also was funded by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Alfred Wegener Institute, GeoForschungsZentrum-Potsdam, the Russian Academy of Sciences Far East Branch, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, and the Austrian Ministry for Science and Research.

-NSF-

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Ken Hall

“The polar regions are much more vulnerable to climate change than researchers thought”
I see. So if it has not happened before, it is “unprecedented” and “a sign of man’s effect on climate”, whereas if it has happened several times before, then it is a sign that the climate is “more vulnerable than previously thought”.
How come they cannot see that “It has happened before and is therefore proof of natural variability, which the earth’s bio-diverse life has successfully adapted to many times before?”

Espen

So the find out that a warming Arctic is “business as usual”, and come to the conclusion that “The polar regions are much more vulnerable to climate change than researchers thought”, when the obvious conclusion would be that “Even after polar warming exceeding our wildest expectations, glaciations return, so CAGW theory is dead – there will be no ‘run-away warming'”.

David, UK

Oh come on guys, you know the script. It’s always “worse than we thought”. Big deal.

Joe

Simulations using a state-of-the-art climate model show that the high temperature and precipitation during the super interglacials can’t be explained by Earth’s orbital parameters or variations in atmospheric greenhouse gases alone, which geologists usually see as driving the glacial/interglacial pattern during ice ages.
That suggests that additional climate feedbacks are at work.

Or, to unwrap that a little:
“Even with our best models, there’s completely natural, and very powerful, stuff going on that we simply don’t know about”.
That’s pretty damning for the central claim that AGW must be true because natural forcings / feedbacks alone can’t explain current warming. In fact, if you admit you don’t know what all the natural forcings / feedbacks are then you can’t make that statement at all. At least, not with any semblance of scientific integrity!

Jimbo

Intense warm climate intervals–warmer than scientists thought possible–have occurred in the Arctic over the past 2.8 million years……………
They show that the extreme warm periods in the Arctic correspond closely with times when parts of Antarctica were also ice-free and warm…………..

On shorter timescales I have found another kind of relationship with regards to air temperatures.

Twentieth century bipolar seesaw of the Arctic and Antarctic surface air temperatures………….In this paper we show that the 20th century de-trended Arctic and Antarctic temperatures vary in anti-phase seesaw pattern – when the Arctic warms the Antarctica cools and visa versa.
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL042793.shtml

Mike Bromley the Kurd racing around Europe

Now it doesn’t get much better than this: the sediment found at the bottom of some lakes, I kid you not, is called ‘gyttja’.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gyttja
Oddly parallel etymological coincidence….? (Lake El’gygytgyn (pronounced El’gee-git-gin))
Back to regularly-scheduled scepticism….
Ken Hall says:
June 22, 2012 at 1:08 am

Of course, Ken, you are exactly right. MSM accounts of these types of things never question anything while doing their standard regurge. It borders on the ludicrous, but that doesn’t appear to discourage them.
And now, of course, they shoot themselves in the foot by confirming north/south climate coupling, a fact already known from the MWP…and poo-pooed by the Hockey Team.
It really is laughable.

That suggests that additional climate feedbacks are at work.
Not feedbacks. Other (natural) factors.

Stephen Richards

Lake E’ has been a successful partnership in very challenging conditions. These results make a significant contribution to our understanding of how Earth’s climate system works, and improve our understanding of what future climate might be like.”
What contribution? Might, Could, possibly, likely. These people have no idea whatsoever what real science is. None.

Stephen Richards

These data should be given to other less “contaminated” scientists for analysis then they we will extremely useful.

Rob

“The polar regions are much more vulnerable to climate change than researchers thought”, say the National Science Foundation-(NSF).
Why not just say:
The polar regions are much more subject to climate change than researchers thought, say the National Science Foundation-(NSF).
Why say the polar regions are “vulnerable”, when if all they’re saying is true, then the climate would be expected to vary more in the polar regions than anywhere else?
Climate scientists just don’t get that climate is. They interject human emotion on inanimate systems. Claiming that the polar regions are defenseless/vulnerable life forms is akin to saying the mountains have feelings, rivers are emotional and wind is deliberate.
The National Science Foundation are a disgrace to allow inappropriate emotional terminology to creep into science like this. When you have to market science like this or hijack the Holocaust to prevent debate, you simply lose the argument, even with the public that have least interest in science.

Well its reassuring that GHGs alone can’t cause 4-5C warming.
But then they say,
The results are of global significance, they believe, demonstrating strong indications of an ongoing collapse of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula and at the margins of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet–and a potential acceleration in the near future.
Antarctic Peninsula icesheets are ‘collapsing’, while the sea ice that surrounds them for 100s of kilometers is at the greatest extent ever recorded.
Could the reason be that glacial land ice is dirtier with a lower albedo than sea ice, and therefore more susceptible to melt from increased insolation.

“The super interglacial climates suggest that it’s nearly impossible for Greenland’s ice sheet to have existed in its present form at those times.”
I’d be so bold as to say that the only time that Greenland’s ice sheet existed in its present form is now.
I’ll read the full paper. However, it should be noted that there is an overflow to the S-E even today and that stories of “12 inches wetter” (than what?”) evoke images of sediment just piling out of the overflow.
Given the current interest in the MWP, I wonder if it gets some special mention?

pkatt

If the theory of moving tectonic plates is to be believed, then the antarctic was not always the south pole..and not always covered with ice. I wonder how that figures into their theory.

Alan the Brit

“Simulations using a state-of-the-art climate model show that the high temperature and precipitation during the super interglacials can’t be explained by Earth’s orbital parameters or variations in atmospheric greenhouse gases alone, which geologists usually see as driving the glacial/interglacial pattern during ice ages.
That suggests that additional climate feedbacks are at work.”
Oh deary, deary me. It was all going so, so well until they mentioned the “S” word. Here we go again, POED:1925:Simulate, Simulation, “to feign, pretend, to feel (oh those “feelings” yet again), wear the guise of, act the part, counterfeit, shadowy likeness of…………! I can say no more. As others have amply demonstrated, too many “could, may, might, possibly” involved! Wishy washy as ever. Natural variations show the way but the blinkers are firmly tied in place! The last 4 interglacials were warmer than todays by 2-3°C, ice-core data show rapid rises & falls in temperature that make the late 20th C modest rise look pathetic, as do data for the Younger Dryas in which temps fell by up to 6°C in as many decades then promptly rose by as much again in a similar timeframe! What’s new?
.

Peter Stroud

Makes the whole business of Tipping Points uncertain, to say the least.

Mark.R

South Pole New Temperature Record
June 11th: The temperature of -73.8°C/-100.8°F broke the previous minimum temperature record of -73.3°C/-99.9°F set in 1966.
http://amrc.ssec.wisc.edu/news/index.php?id=41

davidmhoffer

“the super interglacials were about 4 to 5 degrees C warmer, and about 12 inches wetter,”
That’s gotta be a typo of some sort? What the heck does “12 inches wetter” mean?

mogamboguru

So they found out the don’t have the slightest clue about what was going on in the Arctic during the past 3+-million years and now use that as a confirmation for their own hypothesis of current “AGW”?
Well, you should try that in a 6th-graders geography-test and see how it works out for you in the real world – off AGW-fairy tales.

mogamboguru

Peter Stroud says:
June 22, 2012 at 2:41 am
Makes the whole business of Tipping Points uncertain, to say the least.
————————————————————————————————————-
Well, at least it’s ample proof that the existence of Tipping Points on my forehead concerning AGW-proponents is fully justified.

LC Kirk, Perth

Lake El’gygytgyn – Google Earth takes you straight there..

tonyb

I thoiught we klnew all this already. Polar regions are highly vulnerable as witnessed by the 7 major warming periods experienced during the Holocene
tonyb

Robuk

Cores from Lake E go far back in time, almost 30 times farther than Greenland ice cores covering the past 110,000 years.
I presume these sediments will show up the MWP being warmer than today, or will they keep away from that one.
http://thegwpf.org/the-observatory/940-greenland-warmer-1000-years-ago.html

JohnH

Simulations using a state-of-the-art climate model show that the high temperature and precipitation during the super interglacials can’t be explained by Earth’s orbital parameters or variations in atmospheric greenhouse gases alone, which geologists usually see as driving the glacial/interglacial pattern during ice ages.
That suggests that additional climate feedbacks are at work.
And until you know what these are you can’t say CO2 is the cause of the current warming just because you can’t think of anything else (quote from Jones of the University of Easy Access)
Joe+1

All that warming and no tipping point. What a surprise.
There has been ample evidence for many years that northern Alaska, now arid tundra, was densely forested. Fossil evidence in the coal seams show tree trunks 2ft or more in diameter. These coal measures are on the north slope on the Arctic Ocean coast. I have maps and photographs.

Paul Mackey

Actual Measured Data – don’t you love it? It is the only thing that can fix broken theories.

Given that there is a 400,000 year Milankovitch cycle also (Earth orbital eccentricity period), the super inter glacials at 0.4 and 1.1 m years ago would indicate that this interglacial could be expected to be a super inter glacial also.

Intense warm climate intervals–warmer than scientists thought possible–have occurred in the Arctic over the past 2.8 million years.
Over the past 2.8 million years there were 4-5 geomagnetic pole reversals
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_reversal
since the Arctic temperature oscillations appear to match those found in the geomagnetics
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Arctic.htm
then it would be reasonable to assume there were large swings in the Arctic temperature.
On the other side of the globe the changes in the Antarctic’s geomagnetic intensity are reversely correlated to the changes in the solar magnetic output
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/Aa-TSI.htm
this would indicate that ‘it is the sun …..d’, hence no surprise there.

They say:
“The sediment cores from Lake El’gygytgyn reflect the climate and environmental history of the Arctic with great sensitivity, say Brigham-Grette and colleagues.”
References? proof?

Grey Lensman

Ken Hall nailed it and them first off
Quote
“The polar regions are much more vulnerable to climate change than researchers thought”
The publishers need to delete the word “vulnerable”, as it is both incorrect and misleading. Substitute the word “subject” which is correct according to their findings.

Now the AGW folks are going to have to find a way to hide the incline.

Philip Bradley says:
June 22, 2012 at 2:22 am
Antarctic Peninsula icesheets are ‘collapsing’, while the sea ice that surrounds them for 100s of kilometers is at the greatest extent ever recorded.
Could the reason be that glacial land ice is dirtier with a lower albedo than sea ice, and therefore more susceptible to melt from increased insolation.

Don’t forget that the area where the ice sheets are detaching just happens to be located on the side with the most active vulcanism — both above and below the ice.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/01/22/surprise-theres-an-active-volcano-under-antarctic-ice/

Gilles

Is that cannot be another indication of possible slippage of the earth crust ?

Skeptikal

I’m wondering what makes a “state-of-the-art climate model” different to any other climate model?

Geoff Smith

CRUSTAL DISPLACEMENT!!!!!!

Tom in Florida

As I understand it, the current glacial/interglacial dance began about 3 million years ago. Any connection to the referenced meteor impact that may have changed orbital dynamics just enough to cause this?

“‘Lake E’ has been a successful partnership in very challenging conditions. These results make a significant contribution to our understanding of how Earth’s climate system works, and improve our understanding of what future climate might be like.”
Since glacial periods occur for longer periods of time than interglacials, one might assume future climate will be somewhat cooler!

Robin Melville

Warmer in the past? Give those data to NOAA — they’ll fix them right up.

Mike M

Joe says: Or, to unwrap that a little: “Even with our best models, there’s completely natural, and very powerful, stuff going on that we simply don’t know about”.
I.E. – There’s more to discover so we need MORE MONEY to continue looking for it.

David L. Hagen

Measured:

“super” interglacials, from 400,000 and 1.1 million years ago. . . .
summer temperatures and annual precipitation during the super interglacials were about 4 to 5 degrees C warmer, and about 12 inches wetter, than during normal interglacials.

Clear evidence for long term global cooling!

H.R.

“Claim: Fates of polar ice sheets appear to be linked”
Let’s take all the money spent on AGW, CAGW, IPCC, CC, CACC, wind and solar power and buy up Panama. A few – more than a few I suppose – well-placed suitable explosive devices could open up the Pacific to the Atlantic. Then we can watch what happens to both poles and to see if there is some sort of link. Now there’s an experiment that could answer some global climate questions.
Drilling in a lake is all well and good, but the results don’t seem to be definitive from the way I read the article.
P.S. I too, am stumped by “12 inches wetter.” The units aren’t in (SI) Olympic-size swimming pools so I’m not sure what they were getting at.

Frank Kotler

This warming triggered an irreversable trend which resulted in… exactly the climate we have today?

George E. Smith;

“””””…..
the whole business of Tipping Points uncertain, to say the least.
Mark.R says:
June 22, 2012 at 2:42 am
South Pole New Temperature Record
June 11th: The temperature of -73.8°C/-100.8°F broke the previous minimum temperature record of -73.3°C/-99.9°F set in 1966.
http://amrc.ssec.wisc.edu/news/index.php?id=41…..”””””
Ho hum !! wake me if the South Pole ever gets within 10 deg C of the Temperature record at Vostok. It might actually get closer than 15 deg C to Vostok

MarkW

“That suggests that additional climate feedbacks are at work.”
Interesting that they are assuming that whatever caused the warming, must be terrestrial based.

MarkW

Since this study finds that the arctic/antarctic are much more sensitive to climate change that we believed before.
How does this correlate with the fact that despite apocalyptic predictions, the arctic/antarctic are not showing any significant signs of change at present.
Does this prove that any change that we have seen so far, is less than previously believed?

mkelly

Another study that shows CO2 fails the “necessary and sufficient” requirement to be the logical cause of global warming.

George E. Smith;

I guess (scientifically), that Lake Etzj a skezj is some kind of interesting place. Nice when the Boiz an Gerlz, can find a whole new playpen like that, to bestow taxpayer granz on. I’m kind of fond ov Laik Vostok too. Not too happy they decided to cut into it and start to ssshRed the evidenz, before we get a chance to figure out who or wot is there; or was before they woke ’em up.
As for the Antarctic Peninsula eiz sheets; well the AP ain’t really in the Antarctic, now iz it. Well maik up your minds, does Arctic/Ant- Arctic start at +/-60 liek somesay or izzit +/-66 1/2 ??

Hugh K

I’ll take a stab at that one Skeptical — A “state-of-the-art climate model” would neccesarily incorporate some degree of imagination if true to the definition of art. After countless failed climate predictions, it takes little imagination to acknowledge mixing of art and science is best left to the experts in Hollywood.

John Peter

I wondered about this statement “The results are of global significance, they believe, demonstrating strong indications of an ongoing collapse of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula and at the margins of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet–and a potential acceleration in the near future.”
I can understand the reference to West Antarctica but certainly not to “an ongoing collapse of ice shelves around the Antarctic”. With ice being above average I don’t think this statement holds up to scrutiny if used as an argument for “a potential acceleration in the near future”. I think this is science mixed with a dose of required AGW, probably to generate further grant funding. As I understand it calving is old hat and they need to demonstrate acceleration if they want to tout AGW.

ferdberple

Mark.R says:
June 22, 2012 at 2:42 am
South Pole New (LOW) Temperature Record
=======
The magnetic south pole continues to move away from the geographic south pole, and south polar temperatures continue to drop. The magnetic north pole continues to move towards the geographic north pole and north polar temperature continue to rise.
They hit the nail on the head “can’t be explained by Earth’s orbital parameters or variations in atmospheric greenhouse gases”