In Search of the Enchanted Larch of Yamal

International team to study effect of climate change on the arctic

Anthropologist Peter Ungar will study impact on the ecology of people and mammals

University of Arkansas

This is Peter Ungar, University of Arkansas. Credit: University Relations, University of Arkansas

This is Peter Ungar, University of Arkansas. Credit: University Relations, University of Arkansas

Peter Ungar, Distinguished Professor of anthropology and director of the Environmental Dynamics Program, will contribute to a two-year multidisciplinary and multi-institutional project studying the impact of climate change on the environment of the Arctic.

“Environmental change in Western Siberia: Interactions of land surfaces, animal communities, infrastructure, and peoples of the Arctic” will bring together ecologists, engineers, anthropologists and earth-system scientists to document changes to ecosystems of the Arctic region caused by climate change and explain how these changes have affected plants, animals, indigenous people and industrial infrastructure.

The researchers will focus on the Yamal Peninsula of Russian Siberia, which serves as a small-scale and manageable research model for the Arctic as a whole. Habitats of the Yamal region, roughly 1,400 miles northeast of Moscow, range from forest in the south to tundra in the north. The Yamal, which means “end of the land” in the language of the indigenous people, has a rich diversity of native and invasive plant and animal species, a large indigenous population with strong traditional culture, and economically critical natural resources.

Researchers will study how climate change – specifically warming and extreme weather – has affected the temperature, precipitation and landforms in the Yamal, and how people, animals and plants have adapted to these changes. Part of the animal studies, for example, will focus on reindeer herding. The Yamal region has the largest domesticated reindeer population.

The project consists of three teams: earth system science/engineering, social geography and anthropology, and biotic systems. Ungar will lead the biotic systems team, which will document the effects of climate change on the ecology of people and mammals of the region. The project principal investigator, Valeriy Ivanov of the University of Michigan, will lead the earth system science/engineering team, and Bruce Forbes of the University of Lapland will lead the social geography and anthropology team. The project is a collaboration with Aleksandr Sokolov and his group from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Arctic Research Station.

The project will include workshops, monthly virtual conferences, a synthesis paper and the submission of a research proposal at the conclusion of work in 2021. The researchers will also develop curriculum for collaborative, multidisciplinary online courses offered to undergraduate and graduate students at multiple institutions.

The project was funded by a $238,722 award from the National Science Foundation. Ungar’s team will receive $59,905.

Ungar will spend one to two weeks in Yamal in March of 2020 and again in October of that year. These planning trips could lead to a proposal for a multi-year project with several longer trips to Siberia.

###

From EurekAlert!

For people who are not old timers (>10 years) and do not get the joke.

Advertisements

66 thoughts on “In Search of the Enchanted Larch of Yamal

        • Climategate 10th Anniversity! Time for a big retrospective. Put the best emails in maybe throw in a few emails that were not publicized at the time. Let a new generation see what the fuss was really about, not the spun version. Include the whitewashes of UEA’s Phil J., Penn State’s M. Mann, etc. Some quotes which dont even need ‘context’ were the ones said to have been taken out of context. Send a link to Michael Moore to c9ntinue his education and to Michael Schellenberger to move him along the learning curve, too.

          • You are right, and I’m ashamed.
            But I read such a lot of BS papers since 2007 (also good ones o.c.), I was a bit confused.

      • They are looking for grants, not plants.

        and the submission of a research proposal at the conclusion of work in 2021.

        They are one step ahead of the game here. Usually you do research, then write a paper saying more work is needed to better understand key issues. They going straight for the “more money needed” before they even do the first bit. A study whose declared aim is to write a research proposal ( for more money ).

        Gotta hand it to them, they are pros.

        how climate change – specifically warming and extreme weather – has affected the temperature,

        So principally, they are looking at how warming has affected temperature. I’ll bet that they will discover temperature is strongly correlated with the cumulative sum of warming. 😉 … and it’s worse then we thought.

        • Interesting that they are looking in March and October at how global warming affects the Yamal Peninsula. I wonder if anyone is going to study the fossil forest located ABOVE the Arctic Circle.

  1. They better hurry up and get there or they will only find cockroaches left!
    Seriously, as a geologist who has worked in tundra in northern Alaska, I cannot imagine any group of either people or animals that would not like it a little warmer. It is impossible to imagine how extensive this tundra zone is in either Siberia or Canada or Alaska. Trees might encroach another 50 miles going north? NSF Grant? Looks like they are the new food stamps for “scientists”.

    • There are parts of the arctic and sub-arctic where summer is a miserable season when you’re stuck (literally) at home. When the ground freezes again you can get out on the land and hunt or work your trap line. You can hop on the snowmobile and visit your friends two hundred miles down the coast. Oh yes, there are no mosquitoes in the winter. Summer is highly over rated.

      • I’ve been there and done that, commiebob. Natural Resource exploration companies only drill in the winter when everything is frozen. When you are there in the summer put on a mosquito-net hat, spray some DEET (not that sissy stuff!) everywhere, and catch trout and/or grayling for dinner. I remember working there one summer when it was impossible to sit down without squashing blueberries, so the protocol was to eat a zone and then sit down.

      • Sorry, don’t feel like forking over $49/month for the privilege of viewing your link.

      • I know some one who graduated from U of WA with a degree in physics (undergrad), started right out working for a satellite business in San Diego at $96,000/year. First job ever…

        • “…in San Diego Diego at $96,000/year. ” Isn’t that about minimum wage over there?

  2. It seems reasonable that, if you want to study changes, you would start with the data on how things have been in the past. Thing one would be to seek out geographical areas for which there is already some data. So, never mind going to the Yamal. How about a search of/for Siberian data. There may be better places to look.

    The Russians have been exploring the arctic forever. The First Kamchatka Expedition was in the 1700s. That might be a better place to study.

    • How much higher are the costs of going to Siberia, as opposed to Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut? Plus less chance of Russian hacking.

    • That was my first thought, and the bane of what I do: if I can’t establish a baseline, to show how much energy they’re currently using, I can’t really establish how much any of my proposed improvements may have actually saved the client post-installation no matter how good my M&V program (that’s Measurement and Verification). So in a contract where my income may depend on the verifiable energy savings, I may find I have a hard time getting paid. What if we make the grants contingent on verifiable Climate Change (not just any weather)? Of course, my rapid perusal of what this grant is paying them for, their “deliverables”, I don’t see any actual research, nor even any search for Climate Change, happening. The closest they get is “…the submission of a research proposal at the conclusion of work…”. So looks like they’re home free, they can cash the checks and enjoy their vacation boondoggle planning trips to the lovely Arctic (I hope they go in the summertime, as already noted elsewhere).

    • When “the Arctic” included Toronto and the whole of Southern Ontario, everything was permanently frozen. Now that it has melted and became covered with gigantic trees, some people are upset – the Arctic should not be melting, they say.

      As the Arctic has “been melting” for 15,000 years, the preservationists are in a spot of bother – it continues to melt. They don’t like it. We who live in Southern Ontario are really happy it is no longer permafrost here because agriculture is difficult on frozen land.

      • Crispin

        As a fellow “Southern Ontarian”, all I can say is “Winter is Coming” ! lol..(without Trudope I hope !)

  3. Yawn.
    Phone me if they, or any other team, announces plans to resample the same trees that caused the controversy, to see if the findings can be replicated, to see if the modern curve needs adjustment to “hide the decline”.
    Ever notice how little replication/validation is published about Climate research? Geoff S

    • It is a “Good News / Bad News” type of story.
      Background:
      The “Hockey Stick” paper is published, (MBH ’98)
      One researcher has grave doubts and is concerned with inclusion of this data in the upcoming IPCC report (K. Briffa) The issue is that the temperature record shows a steady increase through the 20th century. The Yamal tree rings show a strong decline. This becomes known as the “Divergence” problem, where it is said that the tree rings accurately reflect temperatures throughout history, then suddenly fail in recent times. This needs a plausible explanation. In the meantime, there is Mann’s “Nature Trick” and “Hide the Decline”, both of ClimateGate fame. In some circles, tree ring proxies are roundly mocked as “treemometers”.
      Next:
      A lone researcher takes a second look. The Yamal data is obtained, as apparently it was properly archived. The researcher then manages to dig up some Soviet Era military weather data from that vicinity. The military data was considered to be much better than the civilian data of those times. What the military was doing with outposts in that region is anybodies guess.
      The results:
      Both the Yamal tree ring data and the temperature records showed a strong decline in the 20th century.
      The Good News:
      There is no “divergence” problem to explain away. The Yamal data really do make good “treemometers”. Good and useful information can be obtained if the limitations of the data are respected.
      The Bad News:
      There was no Global Warming in a big chunk of the Northern Hemisphere. Worse, this was supposed to be an especially sensitive area due to “Arctic Amplification”.

      The research was highlighted right here at WUWT, way back in the day. Otherwise it was buried. Nobody would talk about it, even to criticize it for fear of drawing more attention to it.
      That is the rest of the Yamal story.

      • TonyL

        This is useful in that it tends to validate the concept that trees growing right on the edge of the treeline might make good treemometers. The problem is with the paper and the statistical methods applied, not the concept of trees being frozen (or not) at the treeline.

        You don’t mention the technical issues with the paper. They are important because they invalidate the whole exercise. It should have been withdrawn for technical reasons.

      • “There is no “divergence” problem to explain away. The Yamal data really do make good “treemometers”.”

        No evidence of that. Only one of the trees in the Yamal dataset showed the “desired” result. The rest were pretty much all over the place.

        • The problem with trees at the treeline is that they grow as shrubs. At a certain treshold temperature they change into an upright growth mode with much faster growth. So the relation is very unlinear.

        • Doofus.
          The time period in question was the early part of the 20th century.
          You obviously do not know the first thing about the affair.

  4. They’re gong to spend two weeks in Siberia, in the Yamal, for Pete’s sake, and they’ll “know everything about it”?

    Okay, sure. What they WILL NOT KNOW is a lot more than the minute amount they may find out, but gee whiz, those two weeks in the summer, hobnobbing with reindeer will give them all sorts of dirt samples ‘n’ stuff. Of course, they won’t take the chance of being there in the winter, when the harsh winds blow and the outdoor temps will freeze off everything they’re famous for. That would be too hard.

    • May their:
      A) face netting hats and hoods are thoroughly rotted old surplus
      B) their orders for new face netting are backordered until Spring 2021.
      C) their camp, tents and food stores receive rapt attention from local rodentia.
      D) The stands of trees they visit having received recent attention from hungry Ursus Arctos.
      E) Their cheap import wood coring tools suffer from serious embrittlement and lack of sharpness.
      F) That their adventurous Yamal trips searching for the ideal gigantism affected larch, builds serious character.

  5. Oh good! Perhaps they will discover similarities between this modern warming and the medieval one.
    Oh wait, they got rid of that.
    Never mind.

  6. Let me see what I can see…..

    Ungar will spend one to two weeks in Yamal in March of 2020 and again in October of that year. These planning trips…….

    Somebody is going to the area of interest, OK. But it is just a scouting trip.

    The project will include workshops, monthly virtual conferences, a synthesis paper and the submission of a research proposal at the conclusion of work in 2021.

    The main effort consists of:
    1) workshops
    2) monthly virtual conferences
    3) a synthesis paper

    And the final product:
    4) the submission of a research proposal

    The project was funded by a $238,722 award from the National Science Foundation.

    This is the Global Warming / Climate Change industry writ large.
    This group was awarded 238K by the NSF to produce a research proposal and request for funding.
    It is not often they demonstrate how corrupt the whole enterprise has become.

      • According to the Google dictionary, one synonym for “synthesis” is “concoction” and a concoction is an elaborate story, especially a fiction, fabrication, falsification or contrivance.

        I think that makes it clear.

    • Yes, two sets of two weeks in the Yamal will really, really, really give them a solid understanding of what goes on up there. Of course, they won’t bother talking to any of the locals, because those indigenous souls couldn’t possibly know anything at all about the area that they’ve lived in for generations. /s

  7. Society depends on its scientists/inventors to generate new/better ways of dealing with society’s problems. These climate “scientists” only generate frequent flyer miles while consuming vast quantities of society’s resources.

    • Is there regularly scheduled service into Yamal by any major international airline? Any significant international airline? Even a significant regional airline? Well, then, I don’t think any frequent flier miles will do them much good, since you can only use your FF miles for travel on the airline that awarded them to you. Right?

  8. From the article: “Researchers will study how climate change – specifically warming and extreme weather – has affected the temperature, precipitation and landforms in the Yamal, and how people, animals and plants have adapted to these changes.”

    What changes? Like most alarmists, Peter Ungar assumes something not in evidence. He assumes climate change (human-caused climate change) is real and is already happening based on the temperature level and the fact that extreme weather exists.

    Yet Mr. Ungar couldn’t prove either assertion if his life depended on proving it. Mr. Ungar fails to take into account that the temperatures have cooled over the last three+ years by about 0.5C, so where’s this human-caused, CO2-caused warming? Won’t he have to wait until the tempertures increase before he does his study?

    And his attribution of a human cause to current extreme weather is a joke. There is no evidence CO2 is affecting storm fronts. Mr. Ungar is seeing what he wants to see. He is fooling himself into believing something he can’t prove.

    Just like the IPCC, Peter Ungar is going into the study assuming that humans are currently causing the climate to change and that’s what he is going to find because that’s what he expects to find.

    All these alarmists are so sure of themselves yet they cannot tell you how much, if any, net heat is added to the Earth’s atmosphere by the addition of CO2. Their best guess is between 1.5C per doubling of CO2 to 4.5C per doubling. And this estimate has been the same for 30 years! And of course, they never mention that there is a possiblity that CO2 adds no net heat to the Earth’s atmosphere after feedbacks are included. That wouldn’t be good for their job security.

    The alarmists don’t know the most basic number required to determine what CO2 will do in the atmosphere, yet they act like they do. It’s kind of pathetic on a personal level, and it is dangerous and expensive on a national/world level to mislead the people about the effects of CO2.

    All these alarmist studies are based on an unestablished assumption. They need to demonstrate that CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) is real before going out to determine its effects on everything. They are putting the cart before the horse, and scaring people to death in the process.

    • For those more knowledgeable, isn’t this a great example of the logical fault of “begging the question”?

      Regardless, this type of false premise is the basis of virtually all “scientific” studies of which I’m aware.
      Given that the temperature will rise substantially in the future, what impact will that have on the ability of Girl Scouts to sell “S’mores” in 2050? or some such “research”.

      The error is compounded when these reports are then included as “data” in studies of the literature that come to the conclusion that 97% of scientists AGREE. (Specifically “On what” is purposely left to the imagination.)

    • … how much…net heat is added to the Earth’s atmosphere by the addition of CO2…”

      Quibble. Quibble. The CO₂ molecule on its own is not exothermic; i.e., it cannot ADD any heat to anything. All it can do is act as insulation, and slow the transfer of heat, or act as a conductor, and enhance or speed the transfer of heat. No net heat added or subtracted anywhere. Thus, Mr. Ungar’s quest has failed before it even started… oh, wait, he’s not looking for that, all he’s looking for is opportunities for Climate Change™ Tourism. Nevermind. Carry on.

  9. I can’t help feeling that real scientists would be studying ‘whether’ climate change has affected the area rather than ‘how’. The ’how’ ought to come later.

    • Newminster August 6, 2019 at 5:38 am
      I can’t help feeling that real scientists would be studying ‘whether’ climate change has affected the area rather than ‘how’.

      BINGO!

    • You’re right, but if you look at almost every request for proposal issued over the last thirty years or so, they want a study that will look for the effects of global warming (which morphed to climate change).

  10. “Enchanted larch”– a beanstalk growth in Luddite sociopaths’ bizarre Cloud Cuckoo Land (qv)

    Though we can’t trace its origin, WUWT preserves the classic dendrochronological take on UEA’s pre-Climategate CRU field-researcher Keith Briffa’s egregiously selective study: “If you’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen Yamal.”

  11. I have heard science-activists claim that climate research, unlike other disciplines, can’t do ordinary experiments because “there is only one climate” or “only one Earth” so we can’t have a comparison between, say, a control group and an experimental group. Which is true only as far as it goes.

    But the mainstream claim is based on small samples of the entire climate. It should be — it IS — to go get new SAMPLES. McIntyre’s “Starbucks Hypothesis”. Even simpler for an established researcher to publish already collected data to share with other researchers for new analysis.

    Seems to me the best reason to go to Yamal is not to hold conferences, do math, write papers, and submit grant proposals. All that could just as easily be done in beautiful downtown Burbank California. Or anywhere. If you’re going to Yamal, collect new data. Are there no varves or sediments or insect carcasses available to compare to the tree-rings already studied? Isn’t it of huge interest to see whether, say, the types of insects layered into the muds of time — types which are said to correspond to climates — trend with or diverge from the tree ring reconstructions?

    We have only one climate but we have LOT AND LOTS of uncollected data. It’s annoying that such a reality is ignored.

  12. A few tips in their search for the enchanted larch of Yamal.
    1. Start at the highest temp …er… point with a tree. (Where you want to end up.)
    2. Proceed in a circular, reasoned path that will bring you back to where you want to end up. (That way your search’s conclusion will be where you wanted to end up.)
    3. If you don’t find what you want, keep making smaller circles until the tree only left is the one in step 1.
    Simple!

    In the interest of “going green”, please forgive me for recycling this:
    Gunga Din says:
    May 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    What tree this is, I think I know.
    It grew in Yamal some time ago.
    Yamal 06 I’m placing here
    In hopes a hockey stick will grow.

    But McIntyre did think it queer
    No tree, the stick did disappear!
    Desparate measures I did take
    To make that stick reappear.

    There were some corings from a lake.
    And other data I could bake.
    I’ll tweek my model more until
    Another hockey stick I’ll make!

    I changed a line into a hill!
    I can’t say how I was thrilled!
    Then Climategate. I’m feeling ill.
    Then Climategate. I’m feeling ill.

  13. This is a very ambitious project:
    -“The project consists of three teams: earth system science/engineering, social geography and anthropology, and biotic systems. Ungar will lead the biotic systems team, which will document the effects of climate change on the ecology of people and mammals of the region. The project principal investigator, Valeriy Ivanov of the University of Michigan, will lead the earth system science/engineering team, and Bruce Forbes of the University of Lapland will lead the social geography and anthropology team. The project is a collaboration with Aleksandr Sokolov and his group from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Arctic Research Station.
    The project will include workshops, monthly virtual conferences, a synthesis paper and the submission of a research proposal at the conclusion of work in 2021. The researchers will also develop curriculum for collaborative, multidisciplinary online courses offered to undergraduate and graduate students at multiple institutions.”-
    All this for less than 1/4 million USD ? From my experience of University research funding , much of which is swallowed up by Institute “administrative overheads ” this seems totally inadequate . Perhaps some misunderstanding on my part.

  14. Thanks to the unbelievably dogged efforts of Steve McIntyre and the fabulous book (“The Hockey Stick Illusion”) written by Andrew Montford (a/k/a Bishop Hill), I knew exactly what ctm was referring to with the title “In Search of The Enchanted Larch of Yamal.”

Comments are closed.