Modeling the greening of the Arctic

From the National Science Foundation:

New Models Predict Dramatically Greener Arctic in the Coming Decades

International Polar Year- (IPY) funded research predicts boom in trees, shrubs, will lead to net increase in climate warming
A map of predicted greening of the Arctic

A map of predicted greening of the Arctic as compared with observed distribution Credit and Larger Version

Rising temperatures will lead to a massive “greening” of the Arctic by mid-century, as a result of marked increases in plant cover, according to research supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its International Polar Year (IPY) portfolio.

The greening not only will have effects on plant life, the researchers noted, but also on the wildlife that depends on vegetation for cover. The greening could also have a multiplier effect on warming, as dark vegetation absorbs more solar radiation than ice, which reflects sunlight.

In a paper published March 31 in Nature Climate Change, scientists reveal new models projecting that wooded areas in the Arctic could increase by as much as 50 percent over the coming decades. The researchers also show that this dramatic greening will accelerate climate warming at a rate greater than previously expected.

“Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem,” said Richard Pearson, lead author on the paper and a research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.

In addition to Pearson, the research team includes other scientists from the museum, as well as from AT&T Labs-Research, Woods Hole Research Center, Colgate and Cornell universities, and the University of York.

The research was funded by two related, collaborative NSF IPY grants, one made to the museum and one to the Woods Hole Research Center.

IPY was a two-year, global campaign of research in the Arctic and Antarctic that fielded scientists from more than 60 nations in the period 2007-2009. The IPY lasted two years to insure a full year of observations at both poles, where extreme cold and darkness preclude research for much of the year. NSF was the lead U.S. government agency for IPY.

Although the IPY fieldwork has been largely accomplished “in addition to the intensive field efforts undertaken during the IPY, projects such as this one work to understand IPY and other data in a longer-term context, broadening the impact of any given data set,” said Hedy Edmonds, Arctic Natural Sciences program director in the Division of Polar Programs of NSF’s Geosciences Directorate.

Plant growth in Arctic ecosystems has increased over the past few decades, a trend that coincides with increases in temperatures, which are rising at about twice the global rate.

The research team used climate scenarios for the 2050s to explore how the greening trend is likely to continue in the future. The scientists developed models that statistically predict the types of plants that could grow under certain temperatures and precipitation. Although it comes with some uncertainty, this type of modeling is a robust way to study the Arctic because the harsh climate limits the range of plants that can grow, making this system simpler to model compared to other regions, such as the tropics.

The models reveal the potential for massive redistribution of vegetation across the Arctic under future climate, with about half of all vegetation switching to a different class and a massive increase in tree cover. What might this look like? In Siberia, for instance, trees could grow hundreds of miles north of the present tree line.

These impacts would extend far beyond the Arctic region, according to Pearson.

For example, some species of birds migrate from lower latitudes seasonally, and rely on finding particular polar habitats, such as open space for ground-nesting.

The computer modeling for the project was supported by a separate NSF grant to Cornell by the Division of Computer and Network Systems in NSF’s Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, as part of the directorate’s Expeditions in Computing program.

“The Expeditions grant has enabled us to develop sophisticated probabilistic models that can scale up to continent-wide vegetation prediction and provide associated uncertainty estimates. This is a great example of the transformative research happening within the new field of Computational Sustainability,” said Carla P. Gomes, principal investigator at Cornell.

In addition to the first-order impacts of changes in vegetation, the researchers investigated the multiple climate-change feedbacks that greening would produce.

They found that a phenomenon called the albedo effect, based on the reflectivity of the Earth’s surface, would have the greatest impact on the Arctic’s climate. When the sun hits snow, most of the radiation is reflected back to space. But when it hits an area that’s “dark,” or covered in trees or shrubs, more sunlight is absorbed in the area and temperature increases. This has a positive feedback to climate warming: the more vegetation there is, the more warming will occur.

“By incorporating observed relationships between plants and albedo, we show that vegetation distribution shifts will result in an overall positive feedback to climate that is likely to cause greater warming than has previously been predicted,” said co-author and NSF grantee Scott Goetz, of the Woods Hole Research Center.

-NSF-

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153 thoughts on “Modeling the greening of the Arctic

  1. New Models Predict Dramatically Greener……..

    Does one need to read any further than the first five words?

  2. “a trend that coincides with increases in temperatures, which are rising at about twice the global rate”

    That’s because “the global rate” is meaningless. So-called “global warming” is really “warming in the Northern Hemisphere, in the winter and at night”. Freeman Dyson points out that CO2’s biggest impact on temperatures is in dry air, which is generally cold air (as warmer air tends to absorb more water vapor). It is not an increase in temperatures in hot places and seasons.

  3. Now all that is needed is for nature to confer with the models! Unfortunately, models don’t include real, physical data, like past climate cycles and what the polar areas looked like for the past 10,000 years when the climate was warmer than today. And do you suppose the underlying basis for the models is that CO2 will cause drastic warming? Did the models consider that we haven’t had any global warming for the past 15 years?

  4. Since the basis of these forecasts is a warming planet, would they also conclude a cooling planet will result in the Arctic not going green?

    Right.

  5. Its about time for a “GIGO model” real estate fund … buying up cheap properties while there is still a bit of snow, and only scattered palm trees.

  6. The AGW fanatics somehow always conclude that “it is worse than predicted”.
    No matter how many times reliaty decides otherwise.

  7. “sophisticated probabilistic models that can scale up to continent-wide vegetation prediction”
    Unbelievable! All we need now is Johnny Appleseed to appear on the scene.

  8. You don’t need a ‘model’ to tell you that ‘if’ it gets warmer there will be more plants, let alone financial grants. 2 years??? God save us…

  9. “Plant growth in Arctic ecosystems has increased over the past few decades, a trend that coincides with increases in temperatures, which are rising at about twice the global rate.”

    I doubt that a fraction of a degree here or there in the Arctic is as big a driver of any greening as is the increase in CO2, which is increasing much more rapidly than temperature and has lead temperature in that respect historically. In any event, these are GOOD things, not bad. Colder is bad and may well what we are in for on a global basis given the past 15 or so years. Less crops, less food=more disease, more wars, more death, historically.

  10. What might this look like? In Siberia, for instance, trees could grow hundreds of miles north of the present tree line.

    I’m no expert, but I believe that this has happened in the past. It obviously didn’t lead to runaway global warming then so why should it be different today?

    For example:
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/peteet_02/

  11. Yes I agree. Whilst the arctic turns into a lush tropical rainforest the amazon, caribbean and sahara desert will be under a mile of ice. The Earths equator will become a ring of ice and each side of it will be the new arctic tundra.

  12. Just another instance where grants are used to fund the development of climate models which can be absolutely guaranteed to demonstrate:

    1. Thermageddon is imminent.

    2. More funds are urgently required for additional studies on this very ‘serious matter’.

    3. All their dire predictions will occur after the lifetime of the average reader. :

    There is something inherently wrong with this prediction in that the growing season is so short in the Arctic that even if temperature does rise in the years ahead, the spread of vegetation northwards will be extremely slow, at a rate measurable in centuries, not decades..

    .

  13. Apparently this is where the money is at these days in climate science: rank conjecture (“modeling”) about what *might* happen in 40 or 50 years.

  14. Amazing faith in modeling, with guesses piled on assumptions to the third power projected 40 years into the future and fed to the believing masses for indoctrination of others and conversion of the unbelieving. How does this get ANY traction at all. Are these scientists? They don’t act like it.

  15. I wonder how much more CO2 all of the increasingly-green and increasingly-tree planet can sequester.

  16. This greening of the Arctic has been promoted for over a decade. In 2001 a paper by Sturm “Increasing shrub abundance in the Arctic” compared aerial photographs that were part of resource exploration from 1950 with identical photographs from 1999. There were 66 photographs and half showed no growth at all. That seems odd since that what plants normally do.

    The other half that showed growth was due to infilling not a northerly migration, but the greener photographs were pushed as evidence of CO2 warming. Once established shrubs collect the snow and change the microclimate, and allow denser growth that springs from established rootstocks. Nearly all of the “greening is solely due to this infilling. As people disturbed the Alaskan Arctic since the gold rush days and later for oil exploration, they have broken the permafrost which allows shrubs to invade. None of the climate change studies account for these land use disturbances.

    However the simplistic correlation with climate change was strong in the 1990’s because Alaska was one of the more rapidly warming places on the planet. That correlation no longer exists. Since the PDO has shifted to its negative phase and reoriented the Aleutian Low, Alaska has become one of the most rapidly cooling places on earth (see Wendler,G., et al. (2012) The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska. The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2012, 6, 111-116). I suspect this greening scenario will soon join the dust bin of failed models.

  17. We know dinosaurs roamed all the way to the Arctic Ocean. We also know trees did grow in the high Arctic long before the AGW crowd showed up. We have the dinosaurs and the tree exhibits in museums in Canada. We also know when trees did grow all the way to the Arctic there was no runaway heat effect. The ice we currents have lying around in most cases is left over from the last Ice Age. To that effect vegetation barley grows fifteen centimeters tall today, where once great tree grew to hundreds of feet.

    Perhaps that lot tend to forget it was barely 11,000 years ago when the entirety of Canada was under two miles of ice. That is no model. That was fact. I live in an area here in Fort McMurray that was once part of the Great Western Sea. We know because we are digging up the aquatic dinosaurs in fact. Climates change without human input as shown by the above.

  18. I’m guessing that this vegetation model uses the output of a climate model for its input. (The press release doesn’t specifically say so, but it makes sense). The problem is that reality is not cooperating with climate models. Actual temperatures are about to exceed the 95% confidence interval of most climate model projections. If the authors based this work on the output of one such climate model, their foundation is about to get kicked right out from under them.

  19. One word, Beringia! These propagandist, who are being advertised as researchers, need to shove that in their computer models and smoke it!

  20. It would be interesting to know how many different things were looked at making this prediction. What effects will increased vegetation mean? How much more carbon will be sequestered? Did they achieve the warming of their prediction by factoring in a feedback from methane?

  21. ““The Expeditions grant has enabled us to develop sophisticated probabilistic models that can scale up to continent-wide vegetation prediction and provide associated uncertainty estimates. This is a great example of the transformative research happening within the new field of Computational Sustainability,” said Carla P. Gomes, principal investigator at Cornell.”

    Can someone tell me please exactly what this gobbly-goop means?

  22. There used to be a time when humans would have looked upon the greening of the Arctic as a good thing. Somewhere along the line we grew to be a timid, fearful species that sees any change as bad. A risk to be prevented at all costs.

  23. My money is on the plants who live/try to live in the area.

    “I bet the plants there are smarter that the NSF people.”

    I will give two to one odds to boot.

  24. At what point will climatologists realise that every single prediction made on the basis of computer models has been totally wrong? My answer to this question is: When the grant money dries up!
    Could this happen quickly please, as I am sick of reading about these moronic predictions

  25. To be a “grantee,” do you have to turn off all your critical faculties before you are allowed to cash a check? How does the granting agency determine that all critical faculties have been suppressed?

    A good topic for modeling would take the “grantees” as points and attempt to measure in concentric circles the decline in critical acumen among other people interacting with the grantees.

    /Big Sarc.

    Is there one person who works with models (depends on grants for a living) who has produced a critical account of some model study in which he/she was a principal investigator and the study yielded the usual pro-CAGW blarney? Why do modelers exercise no critical faculties at all?

  26. Computer Model based on the output of a failed Computer Model – it is worse than we thought!!!

  27. So what is the impact of all the CO2 absorption by the newly grown vegetation? It is a net positive or negative? Also, snow does fall on and cover vegetation, restoring at least some of the albedo effect, although I grant you it will dissipate. It’s just not the same as having no snow 24/7, 365.

  28. “The research team used climate scenarios for the 2050s to explore how the greening trend is likely to continue in the future.”

    If the Arctic extent reduction is mostly due to natural climate cycles then this would represent another failed prediction. By the way I thought more Arctic warming lead to more snow leading to higher albedo. 8-)

  29. Jim G says:
    April 10, 2013 at 7:58 am
    By the way, twice the global rate for the past 15 years would be 2×0=0.

    The problem with your post is that you’re using real data. Data is not evidence of anything. You must use models to make your point if you want to be taken seriously. Using that methodology, our temps are rising at the rate of 3C per century!!

  30. Golly Gee, if these “sophisticated” computer models show that shrubs and bushes in the arctic are going to cause global warming, then the only solution is to. . . . .

    Spray the arctic with agent orange so Gaea will protected from all that pernicious vegetation. . . . . .!!!!

  31. Peter in Ohio says:
    April 10, 2013 at 7:56 am
    “What might this look like? In Siberia, for instance, trees could grow hundreds of miles north of the present tree line.”
    10 to 1, there’s an outcry once logging begins on the “new” trees citing that greening absorbs co2, and shouldn’t be touched.

  32. “In Siberia, for instance, trees could grow hundreds of miles north of the present tree line.”
    Yes. The tree line might advance toward its location during the Medieval Warm Period.

  33. Peter in Ohio says:April 10, 2013 at 7:56 am

    What might this look like? In Siberia, for instance, trees could grow hundreds of miles north of the present tree line.

    I’m no expert, but I believe that this has happened in the past. It obviously didn’t lead to runaway global warming then so why should it be different today?

    I would assume Siberia is like Canada, in that the frozen tundra, is frozen, partially-decayed plant matter. One would therefore assume that plants once grew where it is now frozen. Computer models are not needed. The difference today is the computer, as well as ignoring that it only does what you tell it to do. And lots of funding to secure more government income, ie. taxes.

  34. When Leif Erikson landed in Labrador, he called it Vineland, because it was so lush.
    Those were better times.
    Further, all of that extra greenery during the Medieval Warm Period, did not lead to some kind of catastrophic positive feedback loop and turn the entire planet into Ecuador.
    E
    CO2… It’s What Plants Breathe!

  35. Aren’t the low end of the tempature models scheduled to diverge from the actual recorded tempature sometime next year? How can anyone be getting funding for studies like this? The world is truly turned upside down.

  36. Definitely time for biologists to apply for grants for studying the positive impacts of global warming.

    More non-human life is better, right? Less human life is better, right (as per Erhlich, Suzuki, Strong, the WWF and the Sierra Club)? Win win. You grow some, you drown some.

    What’s not to like (sarc!!!!).

  37. Must agree with several commenters above.

    I feel like piling on to nearly every thread with – ” … except, that there has been no warming for many, many years so what type of climate change are you on about?”

  38. And French wine production will reduce due to Global Warming (headline news April 8th 2013).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/08/climate-change-wine-production

    The only problem with this ‘accurate’ forecast, is that northern Europe is going throu its coldest and longest winter in 50 years. In Holland, there is not a bloom in sight, and the annual flower show is going to be delayed for a month, for the first time in a century.

    Appart from all that, the report is VERY ‘accurate’. /sarc.

    .

  39. In a similar vein, The Guardian reports “Climate change will threaten wine production, study shows”. Good lord! I guess we’ll all have to switch to beer and mead. Or drink English and Scandinavian wines. Or wines from Vinland (what the Vikings called Newfoundland).

  40. Makes no sense.

    If the vegetation is absorbing energy and then using that energy to build carbohydrates, how can that energy be counted twice?

    I could understand if the energy was being absorbed by a dark rock and then slowly being released over time.

    I fail to see how something could warm when the energy is being used in a different pathway.

  41. Sophisticated probalistic models. Gives a whole new meaning to the term fasifiability (“Not”).

    Current global temperatures are at the lower border of the 95% confidence level of IPCC projections. Meaning that we live in a world that has a 5% chance of existing under the CO2AGW theory.

    I expect that probability to drop.

    “This is a great example of the transformative research happening within the new field of Computational Sustainability,” said Carla P. Gomes, principal investigator at Cornell.”

    Fire the lot and try to reclaim as much money from them as possible; they are useless eaters. And sell the superconfuser for scrap.

  42. I strongly suspect that where plants are now growing, was not ice previously.
    I suspect that most of it was tundra and rock.

  43. Computational Sustainability
    Somebody probably got paid for dreaming-up this nightmare. The sustainability part is the jobs of the modelers. The rest is bunk.

  44. Green is not good when it is fictitious in the first place in order to spread alarm, get scare monger money, and extend the reach of bad science to the ends of the earth and ends of the academe.

  45. As I recall, the Woods Hole Research Center is an advocacy organization funded in part by George Soros and formerly lead by John Holdren. OMG, will the NSF be making research grants to WWF, Greenpeace and the Sierra Club next? How can this happen?

  46. @ Box of Rocks
    Their reasoning is that the plants replace snow, which used to reflect 90 % of energy away into space. Now the plants are dark and only reflect away 20 % Of the remaining energy, the plant uses 2 % for the processes you mention. The rest of the energy goes into warming the environment.
    Of corse the plant is made from the carbon in CO2, and therefore should reduce ‘Global Warming’.

    ‘Computational Sustainability’ is terrifying. ‘To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.’
    Would you stretch the concept of sustainability to require the production of enough breastmilk to last a child for his entire life? A computer model is incapable of seeing anything absurd in such a proposal.

  47. The idea that snow/ice refects most of the sunlight falling on it ignores the fact that the amount that is reflected is dependent on the angle of the sunlight. We hear that sea ice/snow reflects upto 90% of the sunlight falling on it, but we don’t hear about the maximum absorbtion. Think about snow forts on a sunny day, or how clear, ice can be. It needs to be explained to people that the difference between the amount of solar energy aborbed by sea ice/snow and open sea water on an annual basis is much less than they think. It should also be explained that in the Arctic winter, open water radiates much more energy than ice covered water.

  48. Warning! When you see the words “Woods hole. . .” you must make sure that it ends with the further 2 words “. . .oceanographic institute.” This is the hallmark of a bonafide research establishment of the highest regard. If however, it ends with the words “. . .research center” you should know it is a counterfeit, a cheap imitation – you have been conned.

    Don’t accept fake merchandise from Woods hole research center – accept only genuine products.

  49. “For example, some species of birds migrate from lower latitudes seasonally, and rely on finding particular polar habitats, such as open space for ground-nesting.”

    And this is it?? I was reading the article most the way through and getting a comfortable feeling that this was heading toward being a positive thing, but waiting for what was wrong with it. What is wrong with these people? A little birdie that likes to nest on open space in the arctic? How much room does he take up ~100cm^2? How many of them are there (and could we have its name please)? He will just have to fly a little further. Is a few extra wing-flaps too much to pay for expanding the habitat 10,000 of square km for thousands of other species? Why is it this and the other greening expansion of habitats we been reading about something to be alarmed about? The biggest carp we have heard has been the woeful dwindling of habitat. Now both the siberian tiger and even the Indian tiger will be able to head off and frolic in the new greeness. Man, we have certainly entered the silly phase of this climate drama. Marcott et all draw a graph showing we are near entering the next ice age and he interprets as imminent danger of heat prostration. Have they no shame?

  50. Vince Causey,

    Excellent point. If it doesn’t have “oceanographic” in its name, it’s not legit.

  51. “International Polar Year- (IPY) funded research predicts boom in trees, shrubs, will lead to net increase in climate warming”

    Okay. Now I am really confused.Weren’t these non-scientific clowns saying about 3 years ago that plants/trees are good because they sequester CO2,therefore,no cAGW !?!?!?

  52. For those asking about the northern treeline earlier in the Holocene, here is Hubert Lamb’s map of the treeline at various times:

    Sorry about the poor (by today’s standards) scan. I should rescan it sometime.

  53. Would warming and greening of the Arctic have been considered a good thing if it had nothing to do with CO2?

  54. Seems to me that if the Arctic becomes greener, you get this…
    Albedo effect where less radiation is reflected back into space and we absorb more energy and get warmer;
    Increased sequestration of carbon to grow & sustain this increased vegetation, reducing CO2;
    A cooling of the globe because of the reduction in CO2;
    The cooling kills off the vegetation;
    … is there something I am missing here?

  55. I wonder what the Arctic albedo effect is compared to the albedo effect from all the snow that’s fallen this spring in the lower latitudes.

  56. But think of the polar bears. Children just aren’t going to see them drinking Coke anymore.

  57. The juggernaut rolls on, in spite of all the hard work that goes into debunking this kind of nonsense.

    Tonight on one of our main national news channels, Ch4, there were an item on ‘global warming’ purporting to ask whether it was time to acknowledge that with all the current snow and cold weather, the scientists have got it all wrong.

    It was very depressing – although not in the least surprising – to see that this was merely an excuse to trot out all the usual nonsense, inc ‘increasing CO2 will lead to more runaway warming, in spite of the slowdown – the physics proves it’, from John Snow the anchorman, and similar alarmist rubbish for several others inc some govt-paid scientist from Reading. Dr Bjorn Lomborg of Skeptical Environment [ http://www.lomborg.com/ ] was brought on as the voice of dissent, but he prefaced his remarks by agreeing that there is global warming!

    The uninformed viewer was left in no doubt that this cold winter changes nothing in the CAGW scheme of things… I despair.

    Anyone who wants to watch the whole section which was quite long can access today’s Ch4 news replay on their website http://www.channel4.com/news/uk You may want to throw something at the tv.

  58. In Siberia, for instance, trees could grow hundreds of miles north of the present tree line.

    It seems as if the tree line also moved up somewhat.

    The Kola Peninsula is in the far north of Russia and is almost completely enclosed by the Arctic Circle. Now read this.

    ……..it was determined that between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1300 the tree-line was located at least 100-140 m above its current elevation. This elevation advance, say the authors, suggests that mean summer temperatures during this “Medieval climatic optimum” …….

    Hiller, A., Boettger, T. and Kremenetski, C. 2001. Medieval climatic warming recorded by radiocarbon dated alpine tree-line shift on the Kola Peninsula, Russia.
    The Holocene 11: 491-497.

  59. “New models predict” suffices to render whatever findings they think they have made from science into science fiction. And taint the legacy of science fiction along the way.

  60. “Does one need to read any further than the first five words?” … What a zinger ! XD

    The ‘Authors’ didn’t !

    The ‘Reviewers’ didn’t !

    The ‘Sponsors’ didn’t !

    And I’ll just ignore it and anything else printed in ‘Nature Climate Change’ all the same !

  61. “Alfred Alexander says: April 10, 2013 at 8:57 am
    The Tundra will be warmer? That’s why Triticale was developed.”

    Now the Trouble begins…

  62. Sam the first
    Really like the irony of John Snow talking about AGW!
    Can we please have a lot of “hot babes” talking about the same, or is my political incorrect proclivity messing up the debate?

  63. We certainly don’t want green pastures, farmable land, and lush forests. I pray the models are wrong and it stays a frozen wasteland. It’s so much better that way. And it’s the way Greenland has existed for the past 4.5 billion years. Oh, and ignore the Viking era farmsteads under all that ice and snow. Big Oil planted them there as a distraction. (Do I really need the /sarc?)

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/10/26/on-the-vikings-and-greenland/

  64. Computers (modelling) have taken over the world. Mankind is now sub servants to what the computer says. This was predicated in yesterday’s comics!

  65. Paul Westhaver says:
    April 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm
    I don’t believe this.

    The earth is no longer warming so….
    ————————————————-
    I’m beginning to catch on to these rascals. They don’t really need to prove the earth is warming or defend that it is not. They begin with the presumption that the “science is settled” and go from there. It opens the door for thousands of “new” studies of what COULD happen IF Mann’s hockey stick became reality. And computer models are the icing on the cake…making the mundane all “sciencey”!

  66. A year or two ago on WUWT someone argued that the shade provided by these shrubs in summer would inhibit the melting of permafrost and thus also curb the release of methane. (A negative feedback.) I wonder of the authors mentioned this effect in their paper.

  67. “The research team used climate scenarios for the 2050s to explore how the greening trend is likely to continue in the future. The scientists developed models that statistically predict the types of plants that could grow under certain temperatures and precipitation. Although it comes with some uncertainty, this type of modeling is a robust way to study the Arctic because the harsh climate limits the range of plants that can grow, making this system simpler to model compared to other regions, such as the tropics.”

    These idiots don’t deserve the time of day – they also need to take their heads out of their fantasy novels and their computer screens and read about botany, biology, and agriculture. I don’t need a computer model to predict the types of plants that could grow above the tree line, all I have to do is look at the plants that are growing there now. Different types of plants more suited to the climate of any region do not automatically pop out of the soil like in computer games. These trees are not Ents who can pull up their roots and start marching north to defeat the evil wizards like in Lord of the Rings, and they cannot spread automatically like in Sim-Earth.

    Being warmer is nice and all, but the growing season is limited, not only by the temperature, but by the amount of sunlight available. Trees like conifers don’t grow as much during the winter, not because it’s cold, but because there’s not enough sunlight to sustain them. Sure, they might be able to grow further north than the present tree line but as they travel further north their growth is limited by the amount of usable sunlight to the point where they can’t survive.

    Also, there are no trees above the tree line right now because the conditions for growth of the trees do not match the trees in the treeline. When the growing conditions above the tree line improve, the trees in the treeline will populate the new areas. It takes 65 years for trees in the tropics to repopulate areas where they once were. It takes decades for fast growing trees to repopulate clear-cut areas in the Pacific northwest and that is despite extensive replanting. It’s probably going to take the trees in the treeline 200-300 years to move a few miles north of the treeline. It only takes one really cold winter to kill them all.

  68. JohnG asks what this means = ““The Expeditions grant has enabled us to develop sophisticated probabilistic models that can scale up to continent-wide vegetation prediction and provide associated uncertainty estimates. This is a great example of the transformative research happening within the new field of Computational Sustainability,” said Carla P. Gomes, principal investigator at Cornell.”

    Let us take it apart. 1. We got some money. 2. ‘sophisticated = “pretentiously or superficially wise”, ‘probabalistic model’ = “a simplified representation of a complex entity designed to facilitate calculations and predictions, where the results are likely to be or to happen but not necessarily so”, therefore “this looks good and when we put data in the results may or may not be right”. 3. “scale up to continent-wide vegetation prediction” = “based on my back yard and when it gets warmer the plants grow, so I think that if the Arctic gets warmer there will be more plants”. 4. “associated uncertainty estimates” = “I am 95% sure there will be many more weeds, I am 99% sure there will be some more weeds, but if I use round-up I am 50% sure there won’t be so many weeds.”
    5. “transformative research” = “I know in my head but I have put it on paper and entered the equations into the computer.” 6. “the new field of Computational Sustainability” = “nobody had thought of doing this before, with a computer, and it will not exhaust natural resources or cause severe ecological damage.”

    Hence “We got money to write a good-looking computer program that said if the near-Arctic climate warmed we would get greater plant coverage with various degrees of probability, which we knew already but no-one had thought to say before.”

    My apologies to Carla, but she should write English not “gobbledygook”.

  69. So out of all of the comments so far, not a single one supports even a single aspect of the article. This is a perfect example of confirmation bias. No one has even acknowledged that the arctic is warming.

  70. The comments about vegetation causing more warming because it is darker than ice misses the mark by several miles. The vegetation being discussed would be a summer feature. At that time of year what it would be replacing is in many cases a barren landscape consisting of piles of dark coloured rock.

  71. Zzzzzzzz …. only 27 more years until “mid century” and only 37 until the middle of “mid century.” They can barely grow rapeseed in Manitoba and in such a short time the Arctic is going to green up? Seriously?

  72. Brian says:
    ———————-
    You know Brian, you’re right – so I will be one of the first. The evidence of the Canadian Arctic warming exists – at least when you look back over the past fifty years. That doesn’t excuse the total ignorance that these ‘scientists’ exhibit when they try to justify their version of how this warming is occurring, has occurred, or will occur.

  73. Can someone give me a link to the real estate offices for these areas about to become green as I want to get in early!
    /sarc

  74. Michael, the complaints and skepticism are justified. But they’re not doing any good here where everyone already believes the same thing. I don’t think any AGW scientists read the comment section of this blog. Back and forth scientific discussion between opposing viewpoints is productive. A bunch of people rallying over their own preconceived bias is not. Even the skepticalscience article on Marcott has some valid dissention in the comments. I know there are smart people here, who can be skeptical about certain things while avoiding bandwagon attacks.

    That said, I don’t see much wrong with this study. Extrapolating a trend and attempting to predict its impacts is normal scientific behavior. You may have reason to believe that the level of greening they predict is exaggerated, but the rate of ice loss in recent years certainly justifies a study.

  75. rogerknights said @ April 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    A year or two ago on WUWT someone argued that the shade provided by these shrubs in summer would inhibit the melting of permafrost and thus also curb the release of methane. (A negative feedback.) I wonder of the authors mentioned this effect in their paper.

    I think this was the paper being discussed:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2009.02110.x/abstract

    Abstract

    Climate change is expected to cause extensive vegetation changes in the Arctic: deciduous shrubs are already expanding, in response to climate warming. The results from transect studies suggest that increasing shrub cover will impact significantly on the surface energy balance. However, little is known about the direct effects of shrub cover on permafrost thaw during summer. We experimentally quantified the influence of Betula nana cover on permafrost thaw in a moist tundra site in northeast Siberia with continuous permafrost. We measured the thaw depth of the soil, also called the active layer thickness (ALT), ground heat flux and net radiation in 10 m diameter plots with natural B. nana cover (control plots) and in plots in which B. nana was removed (removal plots). Removal of B. nana increased ALT by 9% on average late in the growing season, compared with control plots. Differences in ALT correlated well with differences in ground heat flux between the control plots and B. nana removal plots. In the undisturbed control plots, we found an inverse correlation between B. nana cover and late growing season ALT. These results suggest that the expected expansion of deciduous shrubs in the Arctic region, triggered by climate warming, may reduce summer permafrost thaw. Increased shrub growth may thus partially offset further permafrost degradation by future temperature increases. Permafrost models need to include a dynamic vegetation component to accurately predict future permafrost thaw.

  76. Brian said @ April 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Michael, the complaints and skepticism are justified. But they’re not doing any good here where everyone already believes the same thing. I don’t think any AGW scientists read the comment section of this blog.

    Brian, if you think everyone posting here “believes the same thing” then your reading comprehension leaves a little to be desired. There have been many robust disputes here. If AGW scientists don’t read the comments on this blog, how come they can make the claim that they are nonsense? Perhaps you believe they are psychic!

  77. The Pompous Git, I’m not aware of any such claims, thus the phrase “I don’t think…”. I don’t doubt that they read the posts, but I have to assume that very few, if any, read through the comments.

    “Everyone” was not meant to mean 100% of readers. Perhaps 98% is more accurate. In my estimation, 98% of commenters here do not believe in AGW. This particular article provides strong evidence of that.

  78. Brian says “This is a perfect example of confirmation bias. No one has even acknowledged that the arctic is warming.”

    How is the Arctic warming? As I posted above the warming up until the 1990’s was undeniable but since 2000 Alaska has become the most rapidly cooling place on the planet ( see Wendler 2012, The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska) When the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation were in their warm phases, they pumped warm air and water into the Arctic. Now those oscillation have reverted to their cool phases and Alaska and Eurasia have experienced bitter cold. These oscillation explain similar warming during the 1930’s. If those oscillation remain in the negative phases as history predicts, the Arctic Ice will soon rebound. The Bering and Chukchi Seas have increase sea ice and the Barents Sea has now begun to recover.

    The rate of warming from 1920 to 1940 was greater than in the 1990’s (see Bengsston 2004 The Early Twentieth-Century Warming in the Arctic—A Possible Mechanism). Freezing winds removed the thick multiyear ice (see Rigor 2002 and 2004 Variations in the age of Arctic sea-ice and summer sea-ice extent) allowing more heat to ventilate from the Arctic ocean which has enough subsurface heat to melt the Arctic ice several times over. ( see Polyakov 2011 Fate of early 2000s Arctic warm water pulse).

    When measurements were taken over the central Arctic the authors of “Absence of evidence for greenhouse warming over the Arctic Ocean in the past 40 years” wrote “we do not observe the large surface warming trends predicted by models; indeed, we detect significant surface cooling trends over the western Arctic Ocean during winter and autumn. This discrepancy suggests that present climate models do not adequately incorporate the physical processes that affect the polar regions.”

    The greening of the Arctic is based on the belief that CO2 drove the warming of the 1990’s and the loss of sea ice in 2000’s, but the recent evidence suggests a cooling cycle has begun as natural oscillations have reversed. The only confirmation bias is exhibited by the uncritical believers who readily embrace the nonsense that recent trend towards colder winters and more snow are caused by global warming and not the predicted results of natural oscillations! And you my man sound like a true believer.

  79. Brian,

    I believe in AGW. But what does that mean, exactly?

    It means I believe that human activity has a minuscule effect on global warming. However, that effect is far too small to measure — therefore it is ipso facto only a belief. It is far from being a verified scientific observation.

    Certainly AGW is not something that we cannot handle, and it is not something that will cause any problems in the foreseeable future.

    AGW is a non-event — which a small, dishonest minority is exploiting to make piles of grant money.

    Where do you stand on the issue? Is AGW real, or not? And what physical evidence, if any, can you post verifying that it even exists?

  80. Brian, your point of view on the bias exhibited in this particular thread is valid. There will always be bias, one way or the other, no matter how hard we try to eliminate it. That’s because of the social nature of mankind. Putting that aside and viewing things with an open mind is the difficult part.

  81. Trees in a topical rain forests = “Good”
    Re-forestation and new shrubs in over-grazed land = “Good”
    Trees and shurbs in the arctic = “Bad”

    What am I missing?

  82. Brian said @ April 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    The Pompous Git, I’m not aware of any such claims, thus the phrase “I don’t think…”. I don’t doubt that they read the posts, but I have to assume that very few, if any, read through the comments.

    I did not say that they were many, but there have certainly been CAGW believers commenting here. William Connoly (the Stoat) and Science of Doom come immediately to mind. There have certainly been others.

    “Everyone” was not meant to mean 100% of readers. Perhaps 98% is more accurate. In my estimation, 98% of commenters here do not believe in AGW. This particular article provides strong evidence of that.

    I’d say most here believe that anthropogenic CO2 from burning fossil fuels contributes to the so-called greenhouse effect. I’d go even as far as saying most even believe that a doubling of CO2 would raise temperatures globally by around 1 Celsius degree as per Modtran4. What we have trouble with is believing that the 20th C increase is in any way “unprecedented”, or that the projected/surmised/guessed-at/prophesied [delete whichever is inapplicable] increase will bring on Thermageddon.

  83. Guys, I’m mostly looking at this from a psychological perspective. I’m one of the seemingly rare few that believes we don’t know what is happening with the climate other than that the Arctic is warming, and that most hypotheses are still feasible until proven otherwise. That includes greenhouse gases, solar variance, ENSO variance, and the mechanisms that Jim Steele describes. Many of the ideas labeled as contrarian (pretty much everything except greenhouse gases) make sense to me, and I accept them. But regardless of my opinion of the science, I think it makes much more sense to debate with educated people of varying opinions rather than creating a mob-like atmosphere of angry comments all supporting the same conclusion. Basically, I think that those of you that know your stuff should be stating your cases on warmist sites or neutral forums. They could really use some educated criticism, otherwise uninformed attacks there will continue to earn the “denier” tag for all skeptics.

    Jim, you acknowledged the Arctic warming in your post, and the phrase “if those oscillation remain in the negative phases” shows that you also realize that there is a possibility that typical cycles may change. Clearly you believe they will remain, and that is a valid hypothesis. I think educated skeptics like yourself should be promoting your hypotheses rather than attacking warmists.

    I understand that warmists are even worse with the confirmation bias, but attacking them does nobody any good, and only serves to increase the polarization of the issue.

  84. The Pompous Git, your last bit about the unprecedented rise is what I mean when I say AGW believer. Almost nobody here believes that. I’m not saying that followers of this blog are wrong, but rather that it’s pointless to attack AGW believers when there are very few here. As you know, there are plenty elsewhere.

    And when I say “AGW scientists” I mean published researchers, not warmist bloggers who are looking for attention.

  85. dbstealey, within this community you might be considered an AGW believer, but certainly not by the entire community of those interested in climate. I say this based on you calling AGW a “non-event”. Perhaps I should have said CAGW instead of AGW. But regardless of what you want to call it, a vast majority of readers here share your opinion, and that’s the point I was making.

  86. The greening could also have a multiplier effect on warming, as dark vegetation absorbs more solar radiation than ice, which reflects sunlight.

    I’ve seen a similar claim before, that additional forest would lead to warming due to the increased absorption of sunlight, though it wasn’t ice, but maybe sand or grass land?

    However, to me this seems counter-intuitive to me, I enjoy the local redwood forests because they are cooler than being in the direct sun. Surface temperature is cooler in the forest compared to the open. For example, what would be warmer, a desert world or a forested world?

  87. dbstealey, you are building a strawman argument against me. I concede that you believe in AGW. My point is that your statement “AGW is a non-event” is a nearly universal belief on this site.

  88. Brian,

    As I suspected, you are now moving the goal posts.

    So tell me, where is the line between AGW being a significant event, and being a non-event?

    $Billions are riding on your answer.

  89. Brian,
    I’m finding, reading your responses, that you exhibit the characteristics of a true skeptic. Good on you. Always question the standard line. Act as the Devil’s advocate – by doing so you help advance real science. You believe that this thread shows bias and I agree with you. I am critical of the conclusions of the study that started this thread. Can you bring forward any arguments that counter my stance – if so, I welcome a chance for a real debate. To me, in this particular thread, it’s a case of me disagreeing with their conclusions and the methods they achieve those conclusions, not an argument over AGW vs non-AGW.

  90. Michael Tremblay,

    Yes, I am also reading Brian’s responses. I want to see where Brian draws the line: is AGW really a problem? Or, is it a grant-generating scam?

    There doesn’t seem to be much daylight between the two points of view. AGW is either a problem… or it is not. There is no real middle ground in this debate. Either/or, no?

  91. Michael,
    I haven’t read the study or even the abstract, only the NSF article posted here. As such, I’m not confident about the conclusions or methodology. Still, I think it makes sense to gather as much information as possible given the rapidly changing local climate in the Arctic. Their conclusion that more vegetation might amplify warming in the region makes sense to me, though I am no scientist.

    The bias I’m concerned about is AGW vs non-AGW. The first 10 or so comments are just snarky, uninformed attacks that could apply to any article posted here. I enjoy reading legitimate ideas, like those posted by Jim Steele and The Pompous Git, and that’s why I read WUWT. Unfortunately I have to sift through a bunch of rhetoric first.

    Thanks for being civil. Although if you want to debate it will have to wait until tomorrow. I need to sleep.

  92. dnstealey, I have outlined my thoughts already. I think there is in fact a middle ground, that we don’t know yet. I will say that I don’t think the entire thing is a scam. Yes, I think there is plenty of corruption, but I think there is also some legitimacy. The reason you don’t think there is a middle ground is because of the rampant confirmation bias on both sides. It’s a similar situation in politics of today.

  93. dbstealey,

    I disagree – there is a lot of daylight between the two points of view. For example, I believe that people are contributing to global warming. I don’t believe that we are heading towards catastrophic AGW, and I certainly don’t agree that CO2 concentrations are causing AGW. I can’t go into all the reasons why I hold my position, and I can’t unequivocally say that I won’t change my position if someone can show that I am wrong. What I can say is that the reasoning presented by the AGW crowd is flawed and in a large measure unscientific – that is what I, personally, really object to. In a lot of cases they are using that as a grant-generating scam. In a lot of cases it is and ego problem where they are unwilling to admit that they are wrong – because they don’t want to jeopardize their standings and suffer a loss of status. The main problem is that people don’t learn things unless they make mistakes, or learn from the mistakes of others. When you can’t admit you’ve made a mistake, you’ve learned nothing and are destined to continue to make mistakes. When you are responsible for the lives of other people and you continue to make mistakes, those people die – that is the real tragedy because they didn’t need to die.

  94. Brian said @ April 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Perhaps I should have said CAGW instead of AGW.

    You certainly should have; it’s much clearer. I note that most of the snark usually comes in the first few comments and the more substantive comments later — sometimes quite a lot later.

    Upthread you said:

    Basically, I think that those of you that know your stuff should be stating your cases on warmist sites or neutral forums. They could really use some educated criticism, otherwise uninformed attacks there will continue to earn the “denier” tag for all skeptics.

    Unfortunately, what tends to happen in such places is that one’s comments either never see the light of day, or they are edited to misrepresent what one said. YMMV of course. For those of us that are actually interested in understanding climate, this is a very rewarding place to hang out. The amount of snark is minimal compared to some places I’ve visited over the years.

  95. Hey, ho… There I was enjoying my posts appearing immediately and now find myself being moderated again. Sorry for the extra work mods… Maybe we need a list of triggers so we can save you some effort.

  96. Brian,

    I hope you read this in the morning. A lot of the conclusions that we reach, on this site, are, unfortunately, based on the extracts and articles we read here. It would be really nice if we could get the studies without having paywalls so we could get unfiltered studies, but we have to deal with what we get. I try to give a critical examination of what I read when I respond to an article so that others can form an unbiased opinion – but I concede my own bias leaks through. I have learned through the years – I started in the mid-1990’s – that the internet is a goldmine of information. That information, like mining, has to be smelted in order to retrieve the nuggets of information that are worth it. Being skeptical is the best way to approach it – even if the information agrees with your preconceived notions, question its accuracy. Be flexible, and willing to change your mind, but base it on real, factual, information, not rumours and supposition.

    I’m beginning to sound preachy – I am definitely not an expert on these subjects, but I’m intrinsically suspicious of people who believe, with a religious fervour, that they are right. Remember the basic warning of fraud – if it’s too true to be real, it isn’t.

  97. The conclusions of this study are as ass-backwards as it is possible to get. A classic case of twisting a study result of an observation to an AGW story when the real conclusion is the total opposite.
    The Arctic is greening because the Arctic is a part of planet earth and as Matt Ridley has explained, earth is greening due to increased CO2.
    In the past half century the earth has warmed and CO2 has increased, both of these contribute to Arctic greening.
    The effect of vegetation on earth’s climate is a COOLING effect. The evolution and spread of plants especially trees on land changed earth from arid and hot to verdant and cooler. This is because of turning of dry weathered silicates into soil, retention of water in soils, and transpiration of water vapour from soil to atmosphere. Also vegetative cover has less albedo than the arid equivalent.
    Greening of the Arctic will not positively feedback planet warming (all the AGW positive feedback stories are illiterate imbecilic nonsense) but the precise opposite – it will apply a cooling, negative feedback.

  98. Does this mean that my tomato crops in the UK will now flourish again? Because all this warming so far has not had much effect on my veg plot. I am now looking forward to a barbeque summer. I live in hope of seeing the sun.

  99. Models huh?
    And we hear little about the Arctic ice level build towards last winter nor the total cover over the winter. Am I to infer from this that ice cover is back to ”normal”? Not worthy of a mention with no alarmism to report.

  100. Good morning Michael,

    I agree with your approach toward these articles. And I like that Anthony posts articles like this one without including his own commentary. That’s something that most blogs can’t say. Your statement “I’m instrinsically suspicious of people who believe, with religious fervour, that they are right” is why I posted here though. There are many such commenters here that exhibit the same behavior (like phlogistion’s comment “all the AGW positive feedback stories are illiterate imbecilic nonsense”). To make those kind of statements without even reading the report is not prudent. The Pompous Git, I think you overlook the snark here because it doesn’t conflict with your viewpoint. You’re right that generally the further down I read, the more substantive the comments are, though still with little opposition.

    You bring up an interesting and contentious point about deaths. It’s a point that both sides argue. Personally, I’m not convinced of either. Any deaths at all are the result of policy makers rather than scientists; even then they are indirectly responsible. I suppose you could make the connection between any policy decision and people dying. Furthermore, if innocent deaths was a main concern around here, there are much more immediate causes of that than climate policy. More time should be spent learning about conflict in the Caucasus and subsaharan Africa. I think the climate issue is more popular because it is polarizing. There’s no one to yell at in the more important issues. Still, I would be interested to learn about how you believe climate science is causing death.

  101. johnmarshall, I don’t think you will find even an alarmist who thinks ice won’t regrow in the winter. Winter sea ice extent isn’t really a major part of the CAGW hypothesis.

  102. Brian:

    I write to ask a clarification of one of your assertions which puzzles me.

    In your post at April 11, 2013 at 6:44 am you say

    Winter sea ice extent isn’t really a major part of the CAGW hypothesis.

    Really?
    Then perhaps you could explain why summer sea ice extent is such a concern to warmunists?

    Or do you think only summer Arctic ice loss rates – and not Arctic winter ice gain rates – inform about the CAGW hypothesis? Do these rates not both affect maximum summer Arctic ice?

    Also, as part of your explanation I would appreciate your telling me why sea ice loss in the Arctic is “a major part of the CAGW hypothesis” but sea ice gain in the Antarctic is not. The projections of temperature change in the first IPCC Report were for major – and similar – temperature rises in both polar regions, and I know of no reasons for these projections to have been changed.

    Richard

  103. Richard, I will answer your questions to the best of my knowledge, but you would be better off finding out for yourself.

    Summer ice minimums are more significant because of the albedo effect and ocean circulation. Essentially, open ocean absorbs more heat from sunlight. In winter, there is no sunlight anyway. In fact, open ocean would lose more heat in the winter due to radiation.

    The loss rates and gain rates will usually be the same for any given year. When a lower minimum is reached, the ice will regrow back to its typical winter area, though the ice will be thinner and more transparent in areas where it had melted. So the winter growth rate doesn’t really matter at all. The rate that concerns the CAGW crowd is the rate at which the ice extent minimum is declining from year-to-year, and even moreso the rate of ice volume decline.

    Also, I believe that Arctic ice is more of a concern because it affects ocean currents and the jet stream, thus affecting climate in the region where most people live. Antarctica is mostly cut off from the west of the world by a strong circulating current that surrounds it, keeping heat out. So ice there is expected to remain more-or-less constant over the medium term. Since the water in the world’s oceans flow through the Arctic and heat exchange occurs there, it is more significant.

    Again, I am just attempting to convey the implications of ice in the CAGW theory to the best of my knowledge. I’m not an expert though.

  104. Brian:

    Thankyou for your attempt to clarify the issue and your honesty in admitting you cannot adequately explain the contradictions..

    That, of course, is the problem with CAGW. Everything which is asserted to be “a major part of the CAGW hypothesis” is confounded by contradictions which are apparent to anyone who looks into the assertion.

    For example, in this case, as you say

    open ocean would lose more heat in the winter due to radiation

    .
    Yes. In fact the Arctic is a net emitter of radiation (the tropics are a net absorber of radiation and the oceans transport the net absorbed heat polewards from the tropics).
    Hence, it is NOT apparent and, indeed, is unlikely that as you say

    Summer ice minimums are more significant because of the albedo effect and ocean circulation. Essentially, open ocean absorbs more heat from sunlight. In winter, there is no sunlight anyway

    .
    No! Ocean circulation winter ice formation could be expected to have greater effect on summer ice formation than summer ice loss. This is because the ice loss
    (a) increases albedo to reduce the absorbtion by the ocean of radiation in the summer
    but
    (b) reduces inhibition to radiative emission from the ocean throughout the year
    and
    (c) radiative absorbtion by the ocean is LESS than the radiative emission from the ocean.

    Simply, you said

    Winter sea ice extent isn’t really a major part of the CAGW hypothesis.
    and I requested a clarification, by asking

    Really?
    Then perhaps you could explain why summer sea ice extent is such a concern to warmunists?

    As I have here shown, your answer fails to provide such an explanation which can withstand even cursory scrutiny by anybody who has attempted to find out for himself as you suggest I do (you may recognise from this response that I had ‘found out for myself’ before I asked for your clarification).

    I have only here rebutted the first of the explanations in your reply to my request for clarification.. All of those explanations can be rebutted with similar ease.

    You have suggested that I find out for myself why your assertion does not make sense.

    I suggest that you would do better to find that out for yourself before stating such assertions as though they had merit.

    Richard

  105. Brian:

    I truly am sorry. I made a real mess of that answer to you. In addition to the formatting error I wrote ” This is because the ice loss” when I intended ” This is because the ice”.

    I really am sorry that I had this ‘senior momemt’.

    Richard

  106. Richard, it’s clear that you were just setting up a strawman so that you could attack it with your opinions, not because you wanted an answer. This is the kind of rhetoric I wish would disappear. If you want to argue these points, go argue them with someone who knows them.

    Some of your points are confusing to me, however. You say that ice loss increases albedo. I don’t know enough to disprove that, but it’s certainly not a popular position. Can you point me to a study that supports you?

    You also say that ice loss increases radiative emission throughout the year, which is true, but you don’t relate it to radiative absorption. The CAGW point is that there is greater net absorption through the year. So the Arctic can still be a net emitter of radiation, with the CHANGE in net radiation emissions declining due to ice loss.

    Also, could you explain this sentence: “Ocean circulation winter ice formation could be expected to have greater effect on summer ice formation than summer ice loss.” I’m not sure what you are trying to say there.

  107. Brian:

    At April 11, 2013 at 9:09 am you say to me

    Richard, it’s clear that you were just setting up a strawman so that you could attack it with your opinions, not because you wanted an answer. This is the kind of rhetoric I wish would disappear. If you want to argue these points, go argue them with someone who knows them.

    NO! I never set up straw men. Never, not ever.

    You made a statement without caveat as though it had merit.
    I challenged you to justify it. That is NOT a straw man.

    My purposes were clear and are two-fold.

    Firstly, to make clear to you that if you make assertions (as most of your posts do) then it would be good if you were to accompany the assertions with some explanation (be it logic, argument, link and/or reference) because you rarely do that. Your existing practice is misleading to onlookers.

    Secondly, to demonstrate that you should check statements before asserting them as though they had merit. Indeed, your reply to me said I should check it for myself! I will verify your assertions, but you are making the assertions so it is your responsibility to provide at least some substantiation for them.

    You ask me to clarify
    “Ocean circulation winter ice formation could be expected to have greater effect on summer ice formation than summer ice loss.”

    Simply,
    1.
    how much ice cover occurs over Arctic ocean in a summer
    2.
    is affected more by the combination of ocean circulation (transporting heat from the tropics as I explained) and the amount of ice growth in the previous winter (inhibiting radiative heat loss from the ocean as I explained)
    3.
    than it is affected by an amount summer ice cover over the ocean in the previous summer.

    Hence, maximum Arctic winter ice cover is at least as good an indicator of global climate change as maximum Arctic summer ice cover.

    Richard

  108. Richard, the only assertion I made is that winter ice cover is not a main piece of the CAGW argument. Then you asked a few questions about CAGW that you already knew the answer to, so that you could rebut me as if they are my own opinions. They were not inquisitive questions, they were purely rhetorical. That is a characteristic of a strawman.

    I have used plenty of logic to back up my assertions, most of which are based upon the well-known psychological effect called “confirmation bias”. You can read about it on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

    I’m not sure why you are so upset about me saying to find out yourself. This is something that everyone should do, and from a variety of different sources. I wouldn’t want you to take my word for anything climate related, as I am not an expert in the field.

    On to the issue of arctic ice, I’m not sure how you come to your conclusion based on your three points. Your points seem to say that summer ice cover is influenced by ocean circulation and winter ice (which is basically constant). So you seem to agree that the loss of summer ice in recent years is due to heat from the tropics, which could possibly be interpreted as climate change. I’m not seeing the connection between winter ice and climate change that you propose.

  109. Brian:

    Please try to read what I wrote. You are failing to understand I was being helpful because you are trying to convince yourself that you are right.

    Making dubious statements that you can be ‘called on’ does not help your credibility.
    And you end up flailing as you are now doing.

    If you want to make a statement you cannot justify then pose it as a question and not as a statement.

    That is all I am saying. Either you have understood the need to substantiate statements or you have not. And if you have heard me then that can only help you.

    As to winter ice being constant that can only mean the freezing rate varies if summer ice is varying. Please think what that implies. But this subject of sea ice is really off-topic and – as I have now repeatedly explained – it was merely an example to make the point about unsubstantiated assertions.

    Richard

    PS A ‘straw man’ is a false argument posed to be knocked down in pretence that this defeats the real argument which is not addressed. Asking someone to justify a statement is not ‘straw man’.

  110. Brian said @ April 11, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I agree with your approach toward these articles. And I like that Anthony posts articles like this one without including his own commentary. That’s something that most blogs can’t say. Your statement “I’m instrinsically suspicious of people who believe, with religious fervour, that they are right” is why I posted here though. There are many such commenters here that exhibit the same behavior (like phlogistion’s comment “all the AGW positive feedback stories are illiterate imbecilic nonsense”). To make those kind of statements without even reading the report is not prudent. The Pompous Git, I think you overlook the snark here because it doesn’t conflict with your viewpoint. You’re right that generally the further down I read, the more substantive the comments are, though still with little opposition.

    Brian, how do you know what my viewpoint is? Has it occurred to you that given the rather limited amount of time I am able to devote to this place that I concentrate rather on the kind of response I made to Roger Knights above than paying attention to snark?

    Apropos phlogiston’s comment, it is substantially correct. For example, the prime positive feedback in the climate system is supposedly water vapour. There is no empirical evidence for the predicted increase in water vapour caused by the increase in anthropogenic CO2. See Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data by Garth Paltridge, Albert Arking, Michael Pook:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00704-009-0117-x#page-1

  111. Richard, you are being very vague. What are my dubious statements? In what way am I flailing? What statement have I not justified?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “freezing rate”. Ice doesn’t form or melt at a constant rate. Winter ice covers nearly the same area each winter regardless of the summer minimum. I have asserted that the CAGW crowd doesn’t really care about winter ice. You asked me to explain why, which I attempted to. But now I will simply back up my claim. First, I was unable to even find an article about winter ice. I did, however, find an article about winter snow cover, which they don’t care about for the same reason:

    “Flanner et al. also show that the radiative forcing from snow cover in the winter months is relatively small, whereas the cooling effect is largest in the spring and summer months (March through July in the NH). This is because in winter, the days are shorter and the sunlight weaker, so albedo has less impact. This again confirms that if we want to evaluate the impact of changing snow cover on the climate, we should be looking at the spring and summer months, not the winter, as Monckton does. Flanner et al. find that the change in snow radiative forcing in the spring and summer months has been significantly positive (less cooling) from 1979 to 2008.”
    http://skepticalscience.com/record-snow-cover.htm

    Asking for justification was not your strawman. It was questions like this one that you already knew the answer to: “Then perhaps you could explain why summer sea ice extent is such a concern to warmunists?” You knew why, you just didn’t agree with it.

  112. The Pompous Git, I made an assumption about your views. It may be a false one. It seems you agree with me that you overlook the snark.

    Your criticism of positive feedback is an appropriate one that does not exhibit religious fervor. I appreciate those kind of comments. I wasn’t referring to the substance of phlogiston’s comment, but rather using it as an example of “religious fervour” that Michael finds on other sites.

  113. The Pompous Git, I just read over the abstract of the paper you referenced concerning vapor feedbacks. Here is the key sentence that I think you may have misinterpreted:

    “Negative trends in q as found in the NCEP data would imply that long-term water vapor feedback is negative—that it would reduce rather than amplify the response of the climate system to external forcing such as that from increasing atmospheric CO2.”

    Notice the word “would” in there. They are describing what negative q implies, but that was not their exclusive finding. q is humidity. Earlier in the abstract, it states that q is significantly positive below the top of the convective boundary layer, and negative above it. I don’t know enough atmospheric physics to infer the implications of that, but it doesn’t sound to me that they are flat out disproving water vapor as a positive feedback, rather describing its differences at varying altitudes.

  114. Water vapor undeniably increases the greenhouse effect. CO2 models depend on increased water vapor to explain the warming during the 80’s and 90’s. However the big question is what causes changes in atmospheric water vapor?

    CO2 advocates argue CO2 warming induces more evaporation and hence more water vapor. Yet even Trenberth acknowledges that El Ninos pump most of the water vapor into the atmosphere. (read Trenberth, K, et al., (2005) Trends and variability in column-integrated atmospheric water vapor. Climate Dynamics, vol. 24, p. 741 758) Given the impact of El Ninos, one would then expect the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to mirror water vapor content which indeed it has. During the positive PDO which encourages more El Ninos water vapor increased. Since 1999 as the PDO has switched to a negative phase and the frequency of El Nino decreased, so has water vapor (read Vonder Haar,T., et al., (2012) Weather and Climate Analyses Using the New NVAP-Measures Global Water Vapor Dataset. Weather and climate analyses using improved global water vapor observations. Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L15802, doi:10.1029/2012GL052094.)

    The trends in water vapor support an interpretation of natural cycles driven by El Ninos and the PDO and contradict the CO2 interpretation which suggest an increase in water vapor.

  115. Brian said @ April 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    The Pompous Git, I just read over the abstract of the paper you referenced concerning vapor feedbacks. Here is the key sentence that I think you may have misinterpreted:

    “Negative trends in q as found in the NCEP data would imply that long-term water vapor feedback is negative—that it would reduce rather than amplify the response of the climate system to external forcing such as that from increasing atmospheric CO2.”

    Notice the word “would” in there. They are describing what negative q implies, but that was not their exclusive finding. q is humidity. Earlier in the abstract, it states that q is significantly positive below the top of the convective boundary layer, and negative above it. I don’t know enough atmospheric physics to infer the implications of that, but it doesn’t sound to me that they are flat out disproving water vapor as a positive feedback, rather describing its differences at varying altitudes.

    If, as you seem to be implying here, the Paltridge et al paper is supportive of the “warmunist” claims, why the “warmunists” expended so much effort to suppress its publication. Disclaimer here: I know Mike Pook (he’s a neighbour) and Anthony Watts introduced Garth to me when he was in Tasmania. I’m with Mike on this; I just want to understand climate better.

  116. No, I’m not saying the paper supports either conclusion. I get the sense that they are trying to better understand the feedback effects of water vapor by looking at how it varies at different altitudes.

  117. Brian said @ April 12, 2013 at 6:28 am

    No, I’m not saying the paper supports either conclusion. I get the sense that they are trying to better understand the feedback effects of water vapor by looking at how it varies at different altitudes.

    Indeed, which is why the attempt to suppress the paper’s publication is an interesting issue. You will not, however, learn much of the science by perusing papers published in journals. Even very good ones like the Paltridge et al paper. While some 10% of papers will stand the test of time and become part of the Received View, it’s not very often obvious which papers will survive. OTOH, it’s often pretty obvious that a particular paper will not. The sort of paper that gets shredded here, or at Climate Audit, while simultaneously being venerated as Gospel Truth at Real Climate.

    The place to look for “settled” science is university level textbook science. A good example, T.R. Oke’s Boundary Layer Climates published in 1988. If you want to make an effort and genuinely understand the atmospheric physics of climate it’s an excellent primer which is why it’s a recommended text for ever so may university course. Note though that you won’t find any scary stories from the High Priests of Global Warming/Climate-change/Climate-disruption [delete whichever is inapplicable].

    Note that “settled” science is never truly settled; it’s always provisional. Classical physics was “settled” by the 19th C, but was unsettled by relativity and quantum mechanics a little over a hundred years ago.

  118. Greenland (I always got a kick out the name of that place) doesn’t appear to change significantly.

  119. Now they should model the effects of a (much more realistic) 2K temperature drop by that time. Will they like that better?

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