Miller et al.’s “Unprecedented Recent Summer Warmth in Arctic Canada”: Bad assumptions, poor logic, and contrary to other evidence of Arctic temperatures.

Dr. Don J. Easterbrook, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA

Miller et al. radiocarbon dated 145 rooted tundra plants revealed by receding ice in the eastern Canadian Arctic and contend that it constitutes the first direct evidence that recent temperatures now exceed those of any century in the Holocene, including the Holocene Thermal Maximum. They further contend that (1) average summer temperatures of the last ~100 years were higher than any century in the past 44,000 years and suggest that present temperatures have not been exceeded in the past ~120,000 years, at or near the end of the last interglaciation, and (2) they conclude that this ‘unprecedented’ warming was caused by anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases. So let’s look at some of the assumptions that form the basis for their conclusions and compare their conclusions to other Arctic data.

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Figure 1 A. Baffin Island showing sample sites. Circles (color-coded by their 14C age) show the 135, <5 ka, sites where rooted plants were collected at receding ice cap margins; diamonds show sites dated >47 ka. Solid lines mark the margins of the LIS at the last glacial maximum and 9 ka [A. S. Dyke, 2004]. B. Detailed map of sites older than ~45 ka.

Assertions and assumptions by Miller et al.

[1] Mille el al. contend that “although glaciers are frequently associated with deep and widespread erosion, small, cold-based ice caps that mantle relatively flat terrain typically advance by lateral accretion rather than by basal flow, and are thus capable of preserving even the most delicate features of the landscape. As these ice caps recede, they often reveal rooted tundra plants that were living at the time snow and ice last covered the site.” They further contend that “Surface-elevation contours of the continental Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) show that all four ice caps with pre-Holocene dated plants were above the surface of the LIS at its last glacial maximum. These sites thus supported only local ice caps then as now. And, because the ice caps occupy flat summits of less than 0.2 km2 surrounded by steep slopes, ice thicknesses of more than 70 meters could not have been sustained.”

The assumptions in these statements are:

a. Miller et al. assume that the ice caps are cold-based (i.e., basal ice is frozen to the ground below) and that there is no basal sliding of the ice and no basal erosion. However, deep fiords and ice-scoured scoured bedrock in the area attest to active subglacial erosion (i.e., basal sliding rather than frozen to the ground), although most of the obvious erosion is probably related to Pleistocene glaciation. The Greenland ice sheet just across the Davis Strait at the same latitude is not frozen to its base, and the average summer temperature at Clyde (north of the sample sites) is 3°C above freezing during June, July, August, and September (Fig. 5). Summer temperatures of all of the more than half dozen weather stations along the east coast of Baffin, where the sample sites are located, are above freezing during June, July, August, and September. Thus, the Miller et al. conclusion that the small ice caps in this study are frozen to their base is highly questionable and most like not true.

b. Miller et al. contend that the Laurentide Ice Sheet did not cover the area of the ice caps and that there has been no erosion since the Eemian Interglacial 120,000 years ago. However, the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) extended eastward beyond this area to the coast (Fig. 1) and reconstructed ice surface elevations show the area to be close to the 1000 m and 2000 m contours, i.e., close to or above the present ice caps. The scale of the ice surface reconstructions is not detailed enough to show exactly how high the LIS surface was at the sites, but at least suggest a good possibility that the area was overridden by the LIS. The importance of this is their conclusion that the older sites have not been disturbed for 120,000 years, but to make this assertion they need to provide adequate evidence.

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Figure 2. Reconstruction of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (Dyke, 2002)

c. The Miller et al. assertion that the ice caps were not more than 70m thick is highly questionable. The ice caps expanded noticeably during the Little Ice Age and even if the LIS didn’t overrun the ice cap sites, the ice caps must surely have thickened, especially since the surrounding lower areas were filled with LIS ice. Thus, their contention that the ice caps could not have been more than 70 m thick is most likely not valid.

[2] Miller et al. claim that recent exposure of moss by melting ice proves that modern temperatures at the site were as high or higher than at any time since the moss was covered by ice and that therefore present temperatures have not been exceeded in 120,000 years. But is this necessarily true? If a block of ice is placed on the floor of a room and the thermostat is turned to 90°F, the ice will begin to melt. If the thermostat is then turned down to 40°F before all of the ice has melted, ice will continue to melt until the floor is uncovered, but to conclude that the temperature had never risen above 40°F since the floor was first covered with ice would be totally false. The same is true of the Baffin ice caps—if moss is uncovered at today’s temperatures, that doesn’t mean that higher temperatures haven’t occurred previously. Thus, the Miller et al. conclusions that “temperatures of the past century must have exceeded those of any century in more than 44 ka” and “there has been no intervening century during which warmth exceeded that of the last 100 years” are illogical and badly flawed. One wonders how this bad logic got past peer review. In addition, we know from data in the Greenland GISP2 ice core that temperatures in Greenland rose more than 20°F per century at least three times in the past 15,000 years, well within the 120,000 years claimed by Miller et al. to have never been warmer than recently.

[3] Among the 145 14C dates on exposed moss in this study are10 dates ranging in age from 23,900 to 50,700 years, leading to their conclusion that temperatures today are the hottest in >50 ka and most likely in the past 120 ka. They explain the disparity between these old dates and the multitude of young Holocene dates as due to higher elevations of the older samples so the younger sites could be exposed by melting of ice while the higher, older sites remained ice covered. But as shown by their data, this really isn’t true. Figures 1 and 3 show site M10-231v as an ‘Eemian’ site with dates ranging from 23,900 to 44,300 years. But ages at two nearby sites, M10-B226v and M10-223v, whose ages are shown as 2-3,000 and 4-5,000 years old, are higher than the site with old dates (Figure 4).

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Figure 3. Site M10-231v, dated at 23.9 ka to 44.3 ka at an altitude of 1395m (4577 ft) and sites M10-226v at 1438m (4718 ft.) and M10-223v at 1405mm (4609 ft). (Google Earth image)

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Figure 4. Elevations of sites M10-223v (2-3,000 yrs) and M10-226v (4-5,000 yrs) are higher than the ‘Eemian’ site >47,000 years.

This totally destroys their argument for no temperature as warm as the present since the Eemian Interglacial. All they have shown is that melting of the ice caps on Baffin Island wasn’t complete during the Holocene and recent warming has continued the melting.

Comparison of Miller et al. conclusons with other Arctic data.

The conclusions of the Miller et al. paper are that “there has been no intervening century during which summer warmth exceeded that of the last ~100 years” and “average summer temperatures of the last ~100 years are now higher than any century in more than 44,000 years.” How do these conclusions stack up against other data concerning past Arctic temperatures? Let’s compare them with recent recorded temperatures in Greenland and with past temperatures derived from Greenland ice core data.

Comparison with recent Arctic temperatures

Summer temperature records at Clyde, north of the sample sites, show no warming from 1940 to 2009 (Fig. 5). How is it that “temperatures of the past century must have exceeded those of any century in more than 44 ka” when temperature records clearly show no warming over the past 70 years? This makes no sense at all!

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Figure 5. Summer temperatures at Clyde, north of sample sites.

Temperature records from Greenland and other Arctic areas also show no unusual warming. Yes, temperatures have warmed and cooled, but the 1930s were consistently warmer than the more recent warming from 1978 to 1998 (Figs. 6, 7, 8, 9).

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Figure 6. Temperatures in Angmagssalk, Figure 7. Arctic temperatures (70-90 N latitude, -180

Greenland were warmer in the 1930s (before to 180 longitude) between 1880 and 2000 show that

CO2 began to rise sharply) than during recent the 1930s and early 1940s were warmer than recent

warming from 1978-1998. warming (1978-1998). (Modified from Chylek et al.

2004, 2006)

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Figure 8. Arctic temperatures in Iceland, Norway, Figure 9. Average Arctic annual temperatures were

and Russia from 1890 to 2010 show that the 1930s warmer in the 1930s (before CO2 began to rise

and early 1940s were warmer than recent warming sharply) than during recent warming from 1978-

from 1978-1998. 1998.

Comparison with temperatures recorded in Greenland GISP2 ice cores

Figure 10 shows that virtually all of the period from 1500 years ago to 5000 years ago was warmer than modern temperatures. This data is directly contrary to the Miller et al. conclusion that “average summer temperatures of the last ~100 years are now higher than any century in more than 44,000 years.”

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Figure 10. Temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period, and the rest of the time back to 5000 years ago were all warmer than the past century, directly contradicting the conclusion of Miller et al.

Looking still farther back in time, about 90% of the past 10,000 years were warmer than temperatures of the past century (Fig. 11). Thus, the Miller et al. conclusion that “temperatures of the past century must have exceeded those of any century in more than 44 ka” cannot be true.

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Figure 10. Temperatures during ~90% of the past 10,000 years were warmer than the past century. (Modified from Cuffy and Clow, 1997; Alley,2000).

Temperatures during the late Pleistocene fluctuated dramatically, rising 20°F in a single century at least three times. These rates of warming were far greater (~20 times greater) than warming during the past century. Thus, the Miller et al. conclusions cannot be valid.

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Conclusions

From the foregoing data and analyses, what is abundantly clear is that the Miller et al. paper is so badly flawed with unwarranted assumptions, poorly thought out assertions, and astonishingly bad logic that their conclusion “temperatures of the past century must have exceeded those of any century in more than 44 ka” cannot be considered valid. How could reputable scientists come to such incorrect conclusions? Perhaps the last sentence in their conclusions section gives us a clue: anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have now resulted in unprecedented recent summer warmth that is well outside the range of that attributable to natural climate variability.” Even if the conclusions in the paper were correct, they wouldn’t prove anything about CO2 as the cause of climatic warming, so this statement suggests that the real purpose of the paper was to push CO2 at the expense of objective science.

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jorgekafkazar

” One wonders how this bad logic got past peer review. ”
This one doesn’t wonder. The process has been corrupted for political reasons and financial gain.
Nice post, Don.

Pippen Kool

“although glaciers are frequently associated with deep and widespread erosion, small, cold-based ice caps that mantle relatively flat terrain typically advance by lateral accretion rather than by basal flow, and are thus capable of preserving even the most delicate features of the landscape……”
“Miller et al. assume that the ice caps are cold-based (i.e., basal ice is frozen to the ground below) … However, deep fiords and ice-scoured scoured bedrock in the area attest to active subglacial erosion (i.e., basal sliding rather than frozen to the ground)…. where the sample sites are located, are above freezing during June, July, August, and September. Thus, the Miller et al. conclusion that the small ice caps in this study are frozen to their base is highly questionable and most like not true.”
So you live in Washington, you can drive to many glaciers that are shrinking and leaving cold bare rock behind. Do you see “delicate features of the landscape” ? I never have, not in those old glacial troughs (and I been in more than a few lately both in your state and in MT). And if you did find something plant like, I wonder if you would expect it to be so old that you couldn’t use C14 dating? Maybe you could explain how that could happen, because I can’t imagine. The logic that the plants hadn’t moved and have never been uncovered for some 50K years or longer, seems inescapable.
And, BTW, permafrost doesn’t thaw in the summer if it’s covered with snow, no matter how warm the summer temps get.

This isn’t the end of the nonsense. They tell us the moss is quickly destroyed when it thaws, which is why they know it hadn’t thawed before. Okay, but what if we had done their survey 50 ya, 100ya, during the LIA, the MWP, the dark ages? Would we have found freshly exposed moss then? By logical deduction from their own claims, we cannot now know what would have been found. Perhaps old moss would have been found at all these times? Or at least the warmer ones? And that would prove that the recent few 1,000 years’ warming had nothing to do with AGW. Since by their own claims the disproving experiment cannot be done, their uniqueness claims are not scientific, just guesswork.

Pippen Kool

Ron House says: “Okay, but what if we had done their survey 50 ya, 100ya, during the LIA, the MWP, the dark ages? Would we have found freshly exposed moss then?
perhaps. but it wouldn’t be the moss was found in this study …that moss was buried then.
Leave a Reply

George McFly.....I'm your density

The last line says it all: “the real purpose of the paper was to push CO2 at the expense of objective science”

Brian H

The emerging ice-covered agricultural traces of Vikings flatly disprove that recent temperatures are even close to past warm and benign times.

Christopher Hanley

“anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have now resulted in unprecedented recent summer warmth that is well outside the range of that attributable to natural climate variability.”
If they’re going to claim that the Arctic warming (or anywhere else) post-1960s is mostly anthropogenic, then the warming c1915 – c1940 must mostly be due to something else.
That’s obvious: http://www.earth-policy.org/images/uploads/graphs_tables/Global_Carbon_Dioxide_Emissions_from_Fossil_Fuel_Burning,_1751-2009.GIF

phlogiston

This is a perfect example of politically driven pseudo-science: to jump from a single small, flawed study to a political concluding message, totally ignoring the existing body of scientific data on the subject. The paper is aimed straight at the media and politicians, over the heads of the scientific community.
Mann, Marcott, Miller … who will be the next mendacious machiavellian?

climatereason

I would fully endorse point 2 in the article. It only needs to be ‘warm enough’ to continue melting of ice which in the past may have melted more quickly by higher temperatures than today. According to CRU the two warmest consecutive decades were the 1930’s and 1940’s.
tonyb

Peter Miller

There is so much wrong with Miller’s (thankfully no relation) that it beggars belief.
For someone to assert that some moss survived in situ at a relatively high altitude in northern Baffin Land through the last ice age of ~120,000 years, is plain ridiculous.
Glacial ice is an incredibly effective abrasive, as can be seen by the deep scratches it has left behind on rocky outcrops – nothing survives the advance of the glaciers.
On the other hand if there were no glaciers, the process of erosion by wind, water and seasonal ice over a period of 120,000 years would have destroyed everything.
If the samples are real, then they must have originally come from a long way away. A good example of this is the hunt for diamonds 20 years ago in northern Canada when geologists followed trails of G10 garnets many hundreds of kilometres back to the original source kimberlites.
But it is all about the evil gas CO2 and maintaining access to the bottomless troughs of grant cash to ‘research’ this non-problem.

Jimbo

We do not yet have an ice-free Arctic. Yet HERE are 4 paper abstracts which find evidence for an ice-free Arctic during the Holocene. Yet we are to believe that the Arctic is warmer now than during the Holocene Climate Optimum. Here are More criticisms of Miller.
Here is something else worth considering bearing in mind Miller’s conclusions about moss on Baffin Island.

Abstract
Across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, widespread ice retreat during the 20th century has sharply accelerated since 2004. In Sverdrup Pass, central Ellesmere Island, rapid glacier retreat is exposing intact plant communities whose radiocarbon dates demonstrate entombment during the Little Ice Age (1550–1850 AD). The exhumed bryophyte assemblages have exceptional structural integrity (i.e., setae, stem structures, leaf hair points) and have remarkable species richness (60 of 144 extant taxa in Sverdrup Pass)………………unique successful regeneration of subglacial bryophytes following 400 y of ice entombment.

Jimbo

The northernmost part of the Eurasian mainland is the Taymyr Peninsula. Now look at the tree-line during the Holocene Climate Optimum compared to today.

Abstract
Nearly 280 radiocarbon-dated macrofossils from 115 sites in Russia are used to reconstruct the shift in the northern treeline during last 10,000 yr, which was primarily considered to be climatically controlled. Picea obovata Ledeb. spread farther to the north between 8000 and 4500/4300 BP. In Siberia there is evidence of a more northern than present position of the Larix Mill. limit between 10,000 and 5000/4500 BP. The present limit of larch was established ca. 3200 BP in Yamal peninsula region and ca. 3500 BP in Lena River valley. Tree birches (Betula pubescens Ehrh., B. pendula Roth.) reached the present-day shoreline of Barents Sea in Bolshezemelskaya tundra and 72°N in Taimyr between 8000 and 9000 BP. In Yamal peninsula by 8000 BP the tree birch limit was near 70°N, but by ca. 5000/4500 BP the northern limit of tree birch was similar to present. Alnus fruticosa Rupr. reached 74°33′N in Taimyr and 75°27′N in northeast Siberia between 10,000 and 8000 BP. Pinus pumila (Pall.) Regel, Ribes L., Rubus idaeus L., Vaccinium uliginosum L., and Oxycoccus palustris Pers. moved northward between 10,000 and 9000 BP and 8000 and 5000/4500 BP. Fossil wood evidence correlates well with results of COHMAP climate modeling for 9000 BP and 6000 BP.
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1552004?uid=2&uid=4&sid=00000000000000

James Bull

I can see it is time for Miller et al to do finger ear and vocal exercise number 1.
1 Put the index finger from each hand in your ear.
2 Open mouth wide and sing LA-La, LA-La.
3 Keep this up till those with hard and difficult questions get board and go away.
4 Sit back and know that you are way smarter than anyone else in the room.
James Bull

Jeef

Pal reviewed science at its finest.

NevenA

I updated the Clyde, Nunavut graph (here), but I don’t know if I did it right. It looks different from the graph used in this blog post, with 2012 breaking the record for warmest summer since 1946.
Data found at Environment Canada.

Greg Goodman

“Thus, the Miller et al. conclusions that “temperatures of the past century must have exceeded those of any century in more than 44 ka” and “there has been no intervening century during which warmth exceeded that of the last 100 years” are illogical and badly flawed. One wonders how this bad logic got past peer review. ”
The anals [sic] of climatology are now so full of this BS non-science that it’s no longer worth counting. Science is corrupt and the reviewers are as biased as the authors that put this kind of politically motivated garbage up to be published.
Good article none the less.

J

Do those pseudoscientists never study backgroundsliterature?
What about Ötztal-man from 5000 years ago
What about the path through Schnidejoch-ice where 300pieces from younger stone age, bronze age, roman period, and middle age was found. And what about scandes treeline 600 m higher during climate optimum than during Little ice age. Nowadays appr. 100 m higher than LIAS.
Oh those propagandists!

Greg Goodman

Neven: Data found at Environment Canada.
It would be better if Don provided sources for his data too, nullus in verbum.
However, a clue as to why the data you got do not look the same comes from reading the presentation of the data:
Environment Canada:
===
Adjusted and Homogenized Canadian Climate Data (AHCCD)
These data are not the official Meteorological Service of Canada in situ station records and therefore should not be used for legal purposes. The official records can be obtained at the National Climate Data and Information Archive.
Users are strongly cautioned to determine the data suitability for their application. They should also be aware that ongoing research on adjustment techniques may result in future revisions of the datasets. The datasets are updated annually with the most recent data.
===

And in Baffin Bay, researchers have found that
Presently, the Baffin Bay southern sea-ice boundary extends from Disko Island to the southwest, towards Canada. This would imply that prior to AD 1250 this boundary was more northerly and gradually moved towards the vicinity of the core site until after AD 1500 (Little Ice Age), when it was positioned south of the core site.
http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/little-ice-age-coldest-period-in-the-last-7000-years-in-greenland/

AleaJactaEst

OK, so instead of us all banging our dustbins here – who’s going to write a rebuttal and present it to the Journal Editor??

ronald

Oke nice one. Again still the same problem as always(whit wings for a better fit). They use there fantasy world temperature data and we all know thats plain wrong. This result cane only be produces if you use wrong data and wrong data can only Giff wrong results.
So in order to make it work someone must put the good data in. But what result will we get? Yes a cooler or even much cooler result but hey the globe is warming so thats impossible.
And there you have the 2 problems. They refuse to admit the globe is cooling so the result must always be warmer then the past to proof the globe is warming at least on paper in there fantasy’s.
Now they cant go back to real life so they have to work whit a fantasy. The only way to stop this is to show how the real world works.
Why is the temperature dropping and how much and why are the low temperatures in fact the result of global cooling and not warming. But more important is the temperature, what is the reality. How hight or low is the real global temperature.

Jim Cripwell

It is all true, and a very good article. But no-one who matters is listening, and the Royal Society and American Physical Society, etc. are not going to change their minds about CAGW. I hope Marcia Wyatt reads this.

The bad logic and baseless assumptions of this paper are astounding. The fact that such rubbish can be published in a “scientific” journal tells us much about the state of “science” in the modern age.

SandyInLimousin

Warming has been global in the Holocene, and stuff is still coming out from under the ice worldwide for instance:
http://www.amjbot.org/content/97/9/1579.full

Bill Illis

The most obvious conclusion is that moss grew here 41K-47K years therefore it was warmer at the time than today.
http://s23.postimg.org/40862648r/5_sample_dates_Miller2013.jpg
But the isotope data indicates the planet was still in the grips of the ice age at the time, and while there are certainly many upspikes in temperature in the last ice age (and a large one at 50K years ago), Baffin Island was probably not warm enough for moss to grow here and the Laurentide ice sheet was either at these summits or very close.
So the more likely explanation is that Carbon14 dating becomes unreliable as one approaches 50K years and therefore the moss probably came from the Eemian interglacial 130K-115K years ago which certainly appears to be warm enough to allow moss to grow on these isolated mountains (as much as 4.0C warmer at this location).
But …
CO2 @ 41K-47K years ago –> 188-210 ppm
CO2 @ 130K-115K years ago –> 259-287 ppm
So what part does CO2 play in this again?

Steve from Rockwood

Regarding the moss, if you believe the age dates you have to believe that the moss was covered for that period of time. Moss does not die, move several kilometers and then replant itself. If Miller merely collected moss trapped in ice then his entire research is worthless.
Miller acknowledges his work does not mean the whole Arctic is warmer, just the area of Baffin Island he studied. It is well known the Arctic does not warm uniformly. Miller’s next step is to see if this unprecedented warming is throughout the Arctic.
Miller states the study area could not have held more than 70 m of ice because of the changes in elevation (which would make much more ice unstable). That seems plausible but also highly unproveable.
You can have older moss at lower elevations depending on how an area heats up during the summer. I hiked at Blue Mountain (Ontario) one summer and was surprised by all the unmelted ice, especially in areas shielded from direct sunlight.
Not sure if it was mentioned in Don’s great piece here (JC also has a great guest post on this to which Miller replied) but the ice has been known to be receding since the last ice age. A few pockets of ice only now melted does not mean anything about modern temperatures compared to older ones.

Henry Clark

Very good article.
Among many other indicators that the Holocene Climate Optimum was warmer than now, Velichko et al. 1999 noted that
“Vegetation which existed in Northern Eurasia … 5.5–6 ka BP [Before Present] accumulated” “292.1 Gt of phytomass,” a value “120%” of now.
Lutaenko et al. 1993 noted warmer temperatures during Holocene Climate Optimum are implied by how “the shift of the southern boundary of the Pacific boreal region was 700–800 km to the north compared to its present-day position (based on bivalve mollusks).”
One could go on for quite a while with more examples, for region after region and for the global average, like Huang et al. 1997 was explicit on how the “early to mid-Holocene appears as a relatively long warm interval” above present-day temperatures in their “reconstruction of a global average ground surface temperature history.”
The Modern Warm Period is nothing exceptional (unsurprisingly so when the patterns in recent historical sea level rise rate, humidity, cloud cover, and temperature in http://img176.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=81829_expanded_overview_122_424lo.jpg all fit predominately natural climate change as illustrated).

hunter

As concerns so much of what passes for AGW research, this looks like yet another study whose main point is find a way to rationalize the CO2 obsession of the AGW movement.

Steve Keohane

Pippen Kool says:November 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm
[…]
And, BTW, permafrost doesn’t thaw in the summer if it’s covered with snow, no matter how warm the summer temps get.

That’s right it can’t melt if it stays below freezing. Brilliant!

I oftentimes like to point out to those who believe it is far warmer now days, …. than at any time in the past, …… the fact that it was the Roman Warm Period …. that did the Romans in, to wit:
Hannibal lucked out when he decided to march his army and herd of war elephants across the Alps to attack the Romans in 218 BC because there surely could not have been as much or as many glaciers or heavy snowpack blocking his route since documented history proves he accomplished that feat which I don’t think could be repeated today. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannibal's_Crossing_of_the_Alps

Birdieshooter

Could someone help me with the graphs? Figure 10 or 11 ( confusing which one) which shows the last 10,000 years of Temperatures seem to have the C Degrees on the right inverted. How can the Little Ice Age be warmer than the Minoan Warm Period. Am I not understanding what it shows or are the Degrees upside down. Anyone want to help me?

Alan Robertson

This work by Dr. Easterbrook is nothing less than a metaphorical public flogging of Miller, et al.

Alan Robertson

Birdieshooter says:
November 3, 2013 at 6:54 am
“…or are the Degrees upside down. ”
____________________
Yes, they are. (I’m sure you’ve seen that, by now.)

Alan Robertson

Oops- hit the send button too quickly. The degrees scale is negative, i.e. the further down the Y- axis, the colder temp is shown. That isn’t really upside down, but just showing the scale as below zero on the Y- axis.

Birdieshooter

Thanks Alan. Makes all the sense in the world now. My eyes (or brain) never picked up on the negative signs. Not used to thinking in those cold extremes.

Jimbo

Here is someone who says that soot can expose parts of the ice cap on Baffin Island. They say it was part of their research. They show photos too. Was Millar peering into one of these areas opened up by soot? We may never know, unless he tells us (the truth). 😉

As if that wasn’t enough, the second problem with black carbon is that it’s a major cause of climate change – a 2008 study ranked it as the #2 cause of climate change, second only to CO2 and greater than the effect of all the other greenhouse gases combined.
………………
This is something I saw evidence of myself on the icecaps I studied on Baffin Island for my Master’s thesis. Some of them were dotted with little cups melted into the ice. At the bottom of each cup was a pool of black silt — check it out:
http://www.acespace.org/blog/2010/12/black-carbon-the-dirty-and-doubly-evil-sidekick-of-co2/

Jimbo

Easterbrook apparently is on an ideological mission – not a science-based one:

“Miller et al. assume that the ice caps are cold-based (i.e., basal ice is frozen to the ground below) and that there is no basal sliding of the ice and no basal erosion. However, deep fiords and ice-scoured scoured bedrock in the area attest to active subglacial erosion (i.e., basal sliding rather than frozen to the ground), although most of the obvious erosion is probably related to Pleistocene glaciation.”

If subglacial erosion leaves scours in bedrock due to basal sliding, then basal sliding must *NOT* have occurred, else the fragile mosses would have been scoured into dust – much less remained rooted. So Miller et al’s assumption is obviously correct and Easterbrook is just plain wrong. This is such a simple counter-factual that is there really any need to read more of Easterbrook?

Doug Proctor

Figure 10 doesn’t (?) show the Minoan Warm Period, does it? Shows a cold period at 2500 BC.
So Greenland – and Greece – show the regionality of “global” temperatures.
Once you have one regionality established, you have to concede that whatevery study you do MAY only relate to your study area.
I’m a geologist. I’m not rich. If one region of my mapping were “global” even within a 100 km radius, I would be rich.
Reality trumps models, especially in the wallet.

ferd berple

Thus, the Miller et al. conclusions that “temperatures of the past century must have exceeded those of any century in more than 44 ka” and “there has been no intervening century during which warmth exceeded that of the last 100 years” are illogical and badly flawed. One wonders how this bad logic got past peer review.
==================
Agreed. The flaw in the logic is so obvious that is wouldn’t get past your average grade school pupil. Ask any child over the age of 6 to solve this problem. Does a block of ice that was put out in the morning and is still melting in the evening, does this mean that the temperatures in the evening are higher than they were at any time during the day?
9 times out of 10 the child will tell you it simply means it was a large block of ice. Yet we have supposedly trained scientists that can’t figure this out. This says a lot about the state of peer review in Climate Science, that such a bone head error could have been published.

Ulric Lyons

Miller makes the same mistake as in this 2001 paper:
http://www.co2science.org/articles/V4/N32/C1.php
Warming in Baffin Island occurs when there is cooling in the temperate zone, due to negative NAO conditions, which in a trend has to mean a global cooling phase.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/23/the-medieval-warm-period-in-the-arctic/#comment-1398577
(this, and the following comments of mine on the thread)

ferd berple

Kevin O’Neill says:
November 3, 2013 at 9:24 am
Easterbrook apparently is on an ideological mission – not a science-based one:
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it would appear the pot is calling the kettle black.

ferd b,
It’s just another case of alarmist projection.

ferd berple

Steve from Rockwood says:
November 3, 2013 at 5:58 am
Miller’s next step is to see if this unprecedented warming is throughout the Arctic.
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No, his next step is to take a course in logic, so he can understand that all he has demonstrated is that the block of ice was too big to melt completely when temperatures rose during the interglacial. That over the past 10,000 years that this block of ice has been melting there have been many warm periods, some much warmer than present, and as this block of ice continues to melt it will uncover more and more items that were buried 100,000 years ago.

TomR,Worc,MA,USA

Steve from Rockwood says:
Not sure if it was mentioned in Don’s great piece here (JC also has a great guest post on this to which Miller replied) but the ice has been known to be receding since the last ice age. A few pockets of ice only now melted does not mean anything about modern temperatures compared to older ones.
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JC?? What is that? I would be interested in reading that, got a link?

tommoriarty

It is quite clear that the Arctic was warmer 5000 to 6000 years ago than it is today.
http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/dont-panic-the-arctic-has-survived-warmer-temperatures-in-the-past/

James Strom

TomR,Worc,MA,USA says:
November 3, 2013 at 10:11 am
JC?? What is that? I would be interested in reading that, got a link?
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http://judithcurry.com/2013/10/29/unprecedented-arctic-warming-part-ii/

ferd berple

dbstealey says:
November 3, 2013 at 9:55 am
It’s just another case of alarmist projection.
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Agreed, it is inconceivable that Miller et al, as well as the reviewers are not aware of the flaws in their logic. It is also inconceivable that they are not aware of the large body of evidence showing that arctic temps 10,000 years ago were warmer than now. Which strongly suggests this was not an innocent mistake.
Even if you accept that the ice hasn’t moved in the slightest for tens of thousands of years, which in itself is not believable because ice slowly deforms under load, and the weight of ice above will cause the base to spread as it tries to avoid the load. And this action will scour.
Even if, you still have the problem of temperature. The fact that a block of ice is smaller today than it was 40,000 years ago tells you nothing about temperature in the past, except that 40,000+ years ago temperatures in the region must have been above freezing.
You can’t even conclude that temperatures 40,000+ years ago were warmer than today, except if moss won’t grow in the region today. The presence or lack of ice however does not tell you how much above freezing temperatures might have been, because ice melts not as a function of temperature, but as the integral of temperature over time.
You can have very high temperatures, and the ice won’t melt completely so long as the conditions only last for a relatively short period of time. Antarctica or Greenland could be as warm as the tropics and it would still take thousands of years for their ice sheets to melt completely.

ronald says:
November 3, 2013 at 4:10 am
You know I get the jest of what you are saying but WOW proof read before you hit send ;>)

miker613

I really think that a lot of these concerns have been answered pretty effectively. See climateaudit and Judith Curry’s site, where Richard Telford and Giff Miller himself answered a lot of questions. Some of the ones I saw: the mosses he found were rooted, and thus had not been moved. If a glacier had been there or passed over them, they would have been crushed completely – that implies that this area wasn’t under a glacier during the time in question. If it wasn’t under a glacier, the seventy meter thickness limit returns, and is very important: it means that more than a century or so of higher temperatures would have removed the ice cap completely.
I’m not saying that the study has been proven valid, just that reading a blog post like this doesn’t prove much. Most of us are not competent to judge these things. I do think that if Dr. Easterbrook has good points to make, it would make sense to post some of them on those blogs (or Richard Telford’s, or Jim Bouldin’s) where the discussion has taken place so far, and some of us have learned things. Why start at the beginning again? (I’d make the same point to Tamino, or Michael Mann, who like to “prove” their points at websites under their own control, where they can control what responses are allowed to appear. Go discuss directly with the other side in the argument.)