Maximum Arctic Sea Ice Extent Is Not Lookin Good

When it comes to Arctic sea ice extent, the minimum, which occurs in September, is the star of the show. It shows up in the press every year now and gets a lot of attention. The record shows there is a strong downward trend in the amount of the Arctic Ocean that is ice covered at the end of summer. The record for the last 30 years has shown a dramatic trend of reducing sea ice. Last year saw a welcome recovery of almost 50% growth from the fall of 2012. However, 2012 was the lowest extent ever recorded and the 2013 recovery was still the sixth lowest amount ever recorded. Hopefully, the recovery will continue, but the long term trend has been very clear.

Data source: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

Table 1.  Previous minimum Arctic sea ice extents
2007 4.17 1.61 September 18
2008 4.59 1.77 September 20
2009 5.13 1.98 September 13
2010 4.63 1.79 September 21
2011 4.33 1.67 September 11
2012 3.41 1.32 September 16
2013 5.10 1.97 September 13
1979 to 2000 average 6.70 2.59 September 13
1981 to 2010 average 6.22 2.40 September 15

 There is another important marker in the sea ice extent and that is the maximum amount, which occurs in March. This, too, has been on a downward trend for that last several decades. Below is a plot of the January ice extent, which is also falling, at a rate of 3.2% per decade.

 Figure 3. Monthly June ice extent for 1979 to 201X shows a decline of X.X% per decade.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center |High-resolution image

The National Snow and Ice Data Center publishes a graph showing the extent of Arctic sea ice, which it updates daily. Unfortunately, we can see the maximum extent is not looking good. We are just there and this year’s measurements show the extent to be much lower than the long-term average and even below last year’s amount. It should be noted that last year saw a surge in cover at just about this time. Hopefully, we’ll see another surge. There is some good news, though. Measurements by the European Space Agency’s Cryosat indicated the ice volume in October 2013 was 50% higher than the ice volume at the end of 2012.

The current levels are not encouraging at this time, but we can hope.


The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory Launches

NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) today launched the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory today from the Tanegashima Space Center in Tanegashima, Japan.The GPM is a four-ton collection of instruments to measure rain and snow fall from the Arctic Circle to the Antarctic Circle every three hours, providing real-time data on the planet’s water cycle. A great part of the mission is that it will provide data on precipitation and storms in remote areas of the planet. Much of the climate and weather involves, or is the result of, how nature manages water, so the data from this mission will be extremely important for research.

Greenpeace Co-Founder Sells Out

I saw this article today about a guy that is proposing to build three gigantic walls across mid-America to block tornadoes. These walls would be 1000 feet tall and 150 feet wide and would cost, he estimates, about $60 billion for every 100 miles of wall. Based on that, I estimate it would cost over a trillion dollars to do what he is proposing. Unfortunately, he is a professor of physics at Temple University, which gives him some credibility in the eyes of some of the public while, at the same time, damages the credibility of other physicists.The list of issues, not including a trillion dollar price tag, is pretty daunting. Let’s just begin with how the walls would cast perpetual shadows on the land to the north of them while the south-facing walls would be continuously heated by the Sun, which would cause all sorts of convective currents in the atmosphere. And, where is the material for these three artificial mountain ranges suppose to come from? Not to mention the land grab involved. There are more, but this is enough to show that the idea is absurd and the fact that the individual selling this idea has credentials doesn’t make it any less absurd.

So, let’s go the the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee which today heard from the co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore. Moore told the committee:

“There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years.”

Great! Not only did he tell a big whopper of a lie, but he did it in the Senate where it will get lots of press. I, and other scientists, spend too much time debunking people like this already. We should be spending out time on figuring out how to deal with the problem, not trying to convince people there is no grand conspiracy between climate scientists.

People will, and are, pointing at his credentials as a co-founder of Greenpeace to mean that he somehow has some great insight into the issue. At the same time, they need to be pointing at his links to the business community and how he makes his living consulting for businesses that have bad records on environmental issues. Funny how those little details get left out.

After making scathing statements about the nuclear industry in the 1970s, Moore today serves on the Nuclear Energy Institute. After being with Greenpeace, a group dedicated to protecting the environment, he now consults with the logging firm Asia Pulp and Paper that is clear-cutting the Indonesian rain forests and leaving the countryside bare He wrote a book, Pacific Spirit, which the World Wildlife Fund said is a collection of “pseudoscience and dubious assumptions.”

Basically, this guy has sold out the entire environmental movement in exchange for a good living.

Naturally, the climate change deniers are not mentioning anything about his most recent activities. They will only refer to the fact that he was with Greenpeace and this some how makes him more credible. Something like proposing to build a big wall across mid-America. Joe Blow in a bar proposes it after having a beer and everyone knows its crazy. A professor at Temple University says it and it makes the news. Undoubtedly, there are some people that will think its a good idea. The same thing with this statement about humanity’s contribution to climate change. If Joe Blow says it in a bar after having a beer, everyone knows its crazy (Joe Blow is really entertaining that bar). But, when the co-founder of Greenpeace says it, then its news.

Joe Blow can blame is crazy talk on the beer the next day. What will Patrick Moore be blaming it on? And, does he even care as long as he gets his money?

Why Bother Trying to Reason with Climate Change Skeptics?

Why should I, or anyone else, spend our time arguing with climate change skeptics? The short answer is that we shouldn’t. These are people that have rejected science and logic and there is no possible way you will ever change their minds. I use to try. I even had a reputation about it. Now, I simply ask two questions: “Is there anything I can say or do to change your mind?”; and “Do you think there is anything you can say or do that will make me change my mind?” If the answer to those is ‘No’, then I see no reason to go any further. I have never had anyone say ‘Yes.’

I would like to think that I would say ‘Yes’ to the second question. I like to think that I base my beliefs on the scientific evidence and logical thinking. If someone were to produce evidence that manmade global warming is not real, then I would change my beliefs. That is how strongly I believe in the scientific method. Others, not so much.

Personally, I revel in dealing with the real world, but I’ve known lots of people that are just overwhelmed by it. I enjoy the obstacles, the challenges, the opportunities, the uncertainties, the twists. I love to wonder about what’s around the next bend in the road. I love even more going around the bend and finding out. I can’t look at a hill without wanting to go over it and see what’s on the other side. Sit me down in a field and I’ll be turning stones over to see what’s underneath. Isn’t life grand?

But, not everyone sees it that way. So, they deny the Nazis liquidated millions because it is too horrible to contemplate. They believe there is a face on Mars because that would mean there is a great civilization out there that put it there and they may provide us with answers. They deny we landed on the Moon because the concept is just so big to them they can’t deal with it, so they simply deny it ever happened. These are people that look at the bend in the road as a threat, something to worry about. Hills not only hide what’s on the other side from them, but hides them from what ever may lie on the other side. And, these people will never, ever, turn a rock over just for the fun of it. The world is a threat and they are looking for a safe haven.

Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the way I see it. There’s not much you can do for these people, they have rejected all logic and all science and nothing you can do or say will ever change their minds. So, why do I bother? Because, maybe I can prevent someone else from sinking into this disease. Maybe, I can get through to someone that has yet to become infected and convince them to check the facts and to think for themselves.

Some people say I’m wasting my time. To quote Thomas Paine “To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.”

Maybe so, but those that renounce the use and authority of reason today were at one time someone that could have gone down a different path. I may not be able to help the lost minds of today, but maybe I can help keep someone from becoming one of the lost minds of tomorrow.

Charles Krauthammer and Global Warming Science

The Washington Post published a column by Charles Krauthammer where he questions climate change science. Let’s be very honest here. The column is well thought out and is not inflammatory. But, it is also wrong on the basic implied assumption.

What he says is that science is an ongoing process and we cannot come out and say that some scientific issue is closed to debate. This is an accurate assessment of the scientific process. Science never ends. However, the implied part of his column is patently wrong. To suggest that the climate change deniers might have credibility simply because the scientific method requires continuous debate and review is, to put it bluntly, just flat out wrong. What makes it even worse is how he himself produces an example to show just how wrong he is.

He cites the case of mammograms.

It was long assumed that mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths. This fact was so settled that Obamacare requires every insurance plan to offer mammograms (for free, no less) or be subject to termination.

Now we learn from a massive randomized study — 90,000 women followed for 25 years — that mammograms may have no effect on breast cancer deaths. Indeed, one out of five of those diagnosed by mammogram receives unnecessary radiation, chemo or surgery.

This is a true statement, but actually makes exactly the opposite point that he wants. What we have in this case is a situation where a rigorous, scientific study revealed new information. Climate change deniers are not engaged in any kind of scientifically valid study that disputes the current climate science. And, that is the problem.

Based on Krauthammer’s logic, we should allow anyone with any kind of contrary viewpoint equal time with the scientists. I agree that contrary scientific evidence should be allowed and considered, and it is. But, climate change deniers are not producing this science. Claims that climate change violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics is not scientifically valid (there is no 2nd law violation). Claiming that the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist is not scientifically valid (the greenhouse effect has been rigorously proven). Claiming climate is changing due to natural cycles is not scientifically valid (there are natural cycles but it has been shown what we are experiencing is not one of them). All of these claims, and many, many more, have all been shown to have no basis in the scientific facts.

So, why should they be considered in any scientific debate? Simply, if you are not going to perform as a scientist, don’t be surprised when you are dismissed by the scientific community. And, most importantly, NEVER suggest that deniers are being ignored because climate scientists want to pursue some agenda. There is NO agenda and climate scientists will be the first to tell you they would love to find out climate change is not real. The scientists are the ones most familiar with the effects of climate change and what we are seeing is not pretty. I would be very happy if someone could show that we really don’t have anything to worry about.

Krauthammer is wrong. The science is as settled as it can be at this time. The amount of evidence is massively overwhelming. The deniers really are flat earthers and should be ignored until they can produce something that is scientifically valid.

But, there is more to the story.  Now, it turns out, there is a movement to censor Krauthammer for what he said. I am as strongly opposed to this as I am to giving any credence to the deniers. Freedom of speech is a cherished freedom in this country and we don’t have to look very hard to find countries where they cannot enjoy that freedom. If Krauthammer, who is not a scientist, wishes to express his opinion then he is free to do so. But, so are we. And, if I want to point out that Krauthammer is wrong and misguided, then it is my right to do so.

So, Mr. Krauthammer, I respectfully wish to tell you that you are completely wrong and misguided in your statement.

Thin Ice Climate Movie

There is a movie, released late last year, that discusses the scientists involved in climate change research. It is called Thin Ice. You can see the trailer and rent the movie ($8 for seven days of access) at the website, You can also download it or purchase it outright. It is about 73 minutes long.

The premise of the movie is that, for the first time in the life time of producer Simon Lamb, scientists are under attack. Global change deniers are making all sorts of accusations about the climate change science and the people involved  in the research. So, Lamb, a geologist himself, decided to make this movie where he goes around the world and meets the scientists themselves to address the question, are they committing some kind of fraud?

It is a well-done movie and allows the scientists to speak for themselves. I am sure the deniers will still be deniers, but this is one more piece of evidence that they are wrong. This movie shows very clearly that the scientists are not committing any kind of fraud.

Some of the scenes are so good I wish I could use them in the classroom. For instance, they give a very nice demonstration of how effectively CO2 absorbs infrared radiation. They train a telescope on the Sun and measure the light spectrum collected. Then, they do the measurement again, except they blow CO2 in front of the telescope as they are taking the measurements. There graphs show a very significant decline in infrared radiation getting through to be measured.

There is a another part where they discuss the physics of greenhouse gases that is one of the most clear and precise explanations I have ever heard. I was very impressed at how well the scientists were able to communicate the complex science in a way any one could understand.

His conclusion? There was no hoax. The scientists were meticulous in their efforts to collect data without contamination and were open-minded about their conclusions. This, he said, was science at its best.

I find that to be very comforting.

I am back!

I have been away. I had a number of health issues that needed addressing and I got sidetracked into some things. But, things are getting straightened out and I will now be managing this blog more actively.

A particular note, I started writing a book on global warming, but then gave it up. It was, I realized, a book that no one was going to read. People that believe in global warming don’t need to read it. People that don’t believe, won’t. So, it sat on the shelf for some time. Well, last fall I decided that I really wanted to write this book and went back to work on it. Even if no one reads it, its OK. I wrote it for me.

The format of the book is the same as my first book, Dialogues on 2012: Why the World Will Not End. It consists of three friends discussing global warming. The premise is that there is so much scientific evidence easily available to the public that you do not need to be a scientist to prove global warming. Anyone can do it.

I have finished the first, rough draft and am now working on smoothing it out. I hope to have it published (as an ebook) before summer.

Meanwhile, keep coming back to this blog. I will be making posting on the issues and providing analysis of the issues appearing in the news.