Misconceptions on Antartica Ice

Deniers keep citing evidence of increasing sea ice around Antarctica as evidence that global warming is not real. So, let’s review the facts.

Antarctica sea ice is increasing. Take look at this plot:

Source: NSIDC

This shows the annual extent of sea ice in May every year up to this year (the last complete month). Keeping in mind the seasons are opposite in the south, this represent the ice extent as the region is approaching the heart of winter. You can see that there is a trend of increasing ice and this last May, (the last plus mark on the right) was the highest ice extent ever recorded.

At this point deniers are going, “See, we told you so!” and this would be just one more example of how deniers ignore anything they don’t want to see.There are major differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic. See a discussion about this from NSIDC here.  Among those differences are the circumpolar currents in the atmosphere and the oceans that isolate Antarctica and make it a unique environment. Another difference is even bigger – land ice. Deniers conveniently ignore the fact that Antarctica is the largest reservoir of land ice in the world. What is going on with the land ice?

The reality is that Antarctica is losing ice in large amounts. One of the reasons sea ice is increasing is because it is coming from the land ice that is sliding into the ocean. Evidence indicates is losing land ice at a rate of over 100 billion tons a year. That is enough to raise the sea level in excess of a millimeter per year. That may not sound like much, but in ten years that amounts to a one-centimeter rise in world sea levels and that does not include other sources of sea level rise.

A NASA/ESA study incorporating more satellite data than past studies confirmed that both Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice mass.

The loss of land ice is increasing and it was recently determined that the massive West Antarctica Ice Sheet has reached the point of no return. Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the ice sheet will still melt.

The evidence is conclusive, the total amount of ice in the Antarctic region is decreasing, not increasing.

So, if deniers want to talk about ice in the Antarctic region, make sure they include the land ice. Its a very different story when you do.

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The Great Arctic Ice Recovery of 2013

One of the more common claims deniers make is that the Arctic sea ice recovered in 2013 and that the issue of the vanishing Arctic sea ice is no longer valid. Frequently, this issue is pulled out as evidence that global warming is not real, or at least over blown.

Let’s look at the facts to see the validity of these claims.  Below is a plot from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) showing the amount of Arctic sea ice. The solid black line is the long-term average. The dotted line on the bottom is the data from 2012, which was a catastrophic year and, by far, the year with the lowest amount of sea ice. The line in between those two is the data from 2013. As you can see, the ice made a recovery, but not even to the average.

Source: NSIDC

To put it another way, look at this similar graphic. This time we still have the long-term average as the black line, but the two lines below it represent the data for 2013 and for 2009. The 2013 ice data is very similar to the 2009 levels. In other words, the ice in 2013 recovered to only about the 2009 level.

Source: NSIDC

What does that mean when I say it recovered to 2009 levels? Take a look at this plot of the September sea ice extent (annual minimum extent) over time.

ftp://sidads.colorado.edu//DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/Sep/N_09_plot.png
Source: NSIDC

You can easily see the big dip in 2012 and the recovery that occurred in 2013 as the last two data points on the right. Start at the 2013 data point (the last plus mark) and make a horizontal line to the left to compare it to previous years. You can see it is about the same as 2009. Otherwise, there are only five data points that are lower and that is going back all the way to 1979.

There is a clear downward trend to the plot above, but the individual years go up and down. There is nothing surprising about that. We can see that 2012 was an abnormally bad year. Likewise, 2013 was a nice recovery that we hope will continue. But, you can’t make judgements about the trend based on one, or even two years. If scientists were to make claims based on just 2012 alone, it would be as wrong as deniers making claims based on 2013 alone. The long-term trend is what is important.

So, will the trend continue in 2014, or did 2013 represent the start of a new trend? Let’s look. Below is a plot showing the ice data for this year (as of June 28). Again, the long-term average is the black line. The complete curve is for 2013 and the partial curve is for what has happened so far this year.

Source: NSIDC

The ice data for this year is consistently tracking at below last year’s. Granted, it is only a little bit below and there is a lot of melt season remaining, so there could be some significant changes in this graph by September. Remember, though, those significant changes could go either way. The point I’m making here is that we are not seeing evidence of a recovery, we are seeing evidence that the data is returning to the trend line.

Look at this plot.This is the ice surface temperature and comes from the Danish Polar Portal. The North Pole is located in the middle of the figure. The color of the ice represents the temperature according to the scale on the bottom. The white areas are areas where data was not collected due to cloud cover. The coldest areas are typically north of Greenland, where the large white area is in this plot. But, the rest of the Arctic region is either close to 0 degrees Celsius or above. In other words, its melting.

Source: Polar Portal

This temperature distribution is about average for this time of year and there is thickness to the ice, so we are not looking at some major collapse of the sea ice. But, the evidence does not support claims that the sea ice extent has recovered. I hope it does recover because this is a critically important part of the world in regards to weather. The data, though, is indicating the reduction in sea ice extent will continue pretty close to the long-term trend.

I will post updates as the melt season continues.

Why I Did the Challenge and Wrote My Book

One of the tactics of deniers is to bully scientists into bowing out of public debates. This is very advantageous to them because it gives them the public stage all to themselves. They are then free to say anything they want. Scientist, in general, are not interested in getting into this kind of hand-to-hand combat.

Certainly, this tactic has shown itself in comments to my blog. The personal attacks have been just plain vicious at times. This tactic seems to be coordinated because the attacks are so similar. It is well know deniers do just that. I guess I should be flattered that I have made enough of a splash for them to feel threatened by me.

Now, I much prefer to be civil and many people submitting comments, including deniers, have been not only civil, but even pleasant. I enjoy talking to them and try my best to treat them with as much respect as they show me. But, the deniers that like to be bullies need to understand that I am glad to mix it up with them. I can give back just as well as I can take. What I have observed is that they cannot take it when it comes back at them. They really start acting like petulant children throwing a temper tantrum in the store when they don’t get what they want.

Certainly one of the major sources of attacks has been my motivation for the challenges and my book. Being deniers, they are not interested in the facts and simply jump to the conclusion they want, just like with the climate science. Here are some facts:

I wrote the book for myself. It was something I wanted to do. No, I did not write it to make money and never expected it to. If your name is not Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson, a book on a science topic is not going to sell. I was at a pool not long ago and noticed that everyone around the pool that was reading was reading a James Patterson novel. Different groups (not just a family sharing) and different books. You will never see something like that with science books. I could go to a science convention and I still wouldn’t see everyone sitting around reading books on science. This is not something I was fooling myself on. I will not make any significant money off this book and it doesn’t matter how much promotion is done.

So, no. This challenge and the blog are not about promoting the book. But, they are certainly about promoting the issue, just as the book is. As I said above, deniers have the stage all to themselves and I don’t like the fact they are lying and deceiving the public about such an important topic. They are serving the fossil fuel industry at our expense.

There have been only two science issues with such an emotional public debate – climate change and tobacco. See any connection there? In each case some entities (corporations and people) were making a ton of money at the expense of the public that didn’t know better because a coordinate attack was made to undermine scientists and block any actions that might cost them money. It is what happened with tobacco and it is what is happening with  climate science today.

And, do you think global warming isn’t costing you? How are your utility bills looking like nowadays? How about your grocery  bill? What has happened to your insurance rates? All of that supposes you have not been hit with some weather event such as a flood, drought, Superstorm Sandy, etc.

Every time someone buys into the claims of the deniers they are taking their checkbook out and sending money to billionaires.

I think that is wrong and that is why I am doing what I’m doing.

If you want to deny global warming, that is your right. I am not on a crusade. I just want you to be able to make an informed decision.

What the challenge is showing is that there is no credibility to the deniers. I did not challenge anyone to prove anything. I just gave them a chance to prove what they have been claiming is so obvious and easy to prove, namely, that man made global warming is not real. No one has to submit an attempt. They do that on their own volition. What we have seen is that there are no credible claims.

They are lying to you every time they say man made global warming is not real and the science is there to prove it.

That is why I did my challenge and I have been demonstrating it very thoroughly.

By the way, when they object to me being the sole judge, they are lying to you again. They are trying to make it sound as if I have it rigged (some have stated so outright). What they aren’t telling you about are the denier challenges that are similar to mine (including one that just cut and pasted my challenge with changes to make it a denier challenge). These denier challenges all have the guy paying the money serving as the sole judge. And you know what? They aren’t objecting to those guys. Here are some that I am aware of. I’m sure there are more:

The ScottishSkeptic $10,000 Global Warming Challenge

JunkScience.com’s Ultimate Global Warming Challenge

Climate Guy $10K Climate Challenge

So, that is why I did the challenge and the book. I believe this is an important issue and want to help people make an informed decision. If the deniers want to tell you anything else, they are liars. But, we already know that.

$1000 Evidence Challenge – Skeptical Papers

Dr. Keating,

I am a poor college student that needs the 1,000 dollar reward. I do believe that man made Global Warming is real, but I can present evidence against it, because all scientific theories have unsolved problems, and there are no absolute certainties in science.
Here are two papers that are skeptical about man made Global Warming. You can look at the data presented in the Papers.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0098847298000471
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2007JD008465/full

If you think the papers make good points, please contact me because I will need the 1,000 dollar reward.

Response:

I’m afraid these papers do not qualify as scientific evidence of anything. The reason is because of who wrote them; The first reference was written by Craig and Sherwood Idso along with Robert Balling. The second paper was written by Ross McKittrick and Patrick Michaels. Every single one of these people have been shown to falsify their research and are not credible. The Idsos are funded by The Heartland Institute which is a fossil fuel industry funded organization that funds scientists with the stated goal of undermining climate science. Anyone associated with Heartland has lost all credibility, but the Idsos have gone to great lengths to destroy theirs.

Sorry, there is nothing here that qualifies as scientific evidence. It will merely serve as something deniers will pull out endlessly, not matter how many times it gets debunked. 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Some people have made comments indicating they think I was overly dismissive. I wasn’t. But, I will admit I didn’t clarify myself well enough. Let me take care of that.

The Idso family (father Sherwood and brothers Craig and Keith) run the denier organization Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. This center is closely aligned with, and accepts money from, the Heartland Institute. Internal documents from Heartland showed Heartland is providing funding for the purpose of undermining climate science. Craig Idso, according to the documents, is collecting $11,600 a month from them. Another organization funded by Heartland is the NIPCC, which presents itself as an alternative to the IPCC. I have already responded to a submission on the NIPCC. You can see it here. Craig Idso is lead author on reports of NIPCC.

So, we have a group of people receiving money from the fossil fuel industry with the stated, directed goal of undermining climate science.  No one associated with the group is credible and nothing they say can be accepted as scientific evidence. To me, this is no different than “evidence” from Nazis about Jews or from the KKK about black people. They have zero credibility and have been demonstrated to present false reports in the past. When someone has the stated goal of destroying something, how can you possibly give any credence to what they have to say on the subject? The answer is, you can’t. And, I don’t.

Ross McKitrick is an economist (yes, you read that correctly). He is a signatory to the Cornwall Alliance‘s Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which states that “Earth and its ecosystems – created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting”. He wrote an ‘evangelical response to global warming’ and has spoken at the Heartland conferences (see my comments about being associated with Heartland above).

Patrick Michaels was a professor at the University of Virginia but is now Director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute. The Cato Institute is a denier organization that receives funds from the fossil fuel industry, most notably from the Koch brothers. Michaels was an expert witness for the Western Fuels Association. ABC News reported he received $100,000 from the Intermountain Rural Electricity Association to fund his research into alternative climate science and he has admitted that 40% of his funding comes from the fossil fuel industry. He has a long history of getting it wrong.

McKitrick and Michaels have collaborated before. Together, they wrote a paper on the urban heat island effect that has been completely debunked and, in my opinion, used falsified data. Even though debunked and shown to be false, this issue is still one of the most often-cited criticisms deniers produce. In other words, years after the two of them made a false claim, scientists are still forced to repeatedly fend off that false claim. To really rub salt in the wound, even McKitrick and Michaels said only half of the observed warming could be attributed to the urban heat island effect (not a true statement, by the way). So, even with flawed work, they still could not show man made global warming is not real. And yet, it is still cited as evidence against AGW.

So, am I being overly harsh for dismissing these papers as being unscientific? If anything, I believe I have been very generous. I did not use this submission as an opportunity to launch into their work to show why they are even worse than what I have portrayed here.

If you have an accountant and you learn that he was stealing your money, would you go back to him and trust him? This is the same with McKitrick and Michaels. The have a long history of taking fossil fuel money and then making false statements about climate change science. They have no credibility and their work cannot be accepted as scientific evidence.

Can they reform their reputations? Yes, they can. Even the Idsos. But, it would be a long, difficult process and it will not start with me.

$10,000 Challenge Submission – George Carlin

Here is my participation Dr,
George Carlin on Global Warming: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB0aFPXr4n4
i hope it counts
regards 🙂

Response:

Some submissions appear to be well thought out. This isn’t one of them. George Carlin was very funny guy and I loved his comedy routines. But, I sure hope no one ever mistook him for a scientist.

I could disqualify this one off-hand simply because it does not address the question in a scientific manner. But, let’s make some comments.

Carlin’s argument (and he never disputes global warming, man made or otherwise) is that the planet has been here for 4.5 billion years and we are no threat to it. That is a true statement. The planet is not a living being and it will continue to go on no matter what we do to it. Carlin himself makes the key point, though. The planet might go on, but that doesn’t mean we will. And, he is just fine with the idea we will go away.

And, even if the race goes on, how many people are we going to kill, injure and make ill so the fossil fuel industry can keep its profits? How many people are going to suffer from a lower standard of living so that we can send our money to billionaires?

That is the key question. Carlin has the attitude that we need to just sit back and die. I don’t agree.

This challenge did nothing to show man made global warming is not real.

$10,000 Challenge Submission – Composition of the Atmosphere


Ok.
I have a non religious non wacko objection to Anthropomorphic Global Warming.
This does not mean I do not care about the environment
and it does not mean I think Green energy and waste management are not key issues facing us today.
It means I do not believe the global warming process can be slowed down or altered based on the magnitude of numbers involved.
Follow me please and save your questions to the end.
I will link several sources for each point.
First the Mass of the atmosphere of the planet Earth on which we reside.
around 5.97 x 10^24 kg Large number. let that sink in.
Next is the composition of the atmosphere…again contained in the same links.
If you have different information then please link it.
78% N2
20.9% O2
.93% Ar
.039% CO2
These are the Major Gases in the ATMOSPHERE and the percentage by volume.
Now the atomic weights can be found from the periodic Table.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodic_table (do I need an additional source for the periodic table?)
N2 = 14.007×2 g/mole = 28.014
O2 = 15.999×2 g/mole = 31.998
AR = 39.948×1 g/mole = 39.948
CO2= 12.011×1+31.998 g/mole = 44.009
Follow me here. I submit that the proportion of gas by mass is equivalent to the proportion of gas by volume because the masses are similar.
this is a little rough but according to the NASA link above the mean molecular weight is 29.87 g/mole that would make the assumed g/mole of
CO2 off by 34% from its actual mass.
I do this because it is hard to get the percentages by weight and I am short on time.
For arguments sake I think it’s fair to say that the mass
of CO2 is  .039%*(5.97×10^24)Kg +/- 50% (to cover my sloppy math)
2.3283 x 10^23 kg +/- 50% (1.16415 x 10^23 to 3.49245 x 10^23)
Ok. we have the first number. Mass of the CO2 in the atmosphere. with a wide margin of error but I know the number is somewhere in that
range.
Next we will Look at Mass of CO2 produced annually by Humanity.
is the EPA ok?
I can link others…I don’t want to link an anti global warming site as that is not the point.
is 6,000 million metric tonnes an ok estimate?
it is an emotionally large number.
that’s 6X10^12 kg annually…..at the highest.
Ok. that’s a huge number. astounding really.
this site contradicts my argument and gives a larger number.
it only compares it to the amount absorbed and emitted by natural sources not the atmospheric volume.
26.4 Gigatonnes or 2.64*10^13 kg Annually.
still with me?
take the amount produced and divide it by the amount present(i will lowball this so that things are skewed against me).
multiply by 100 to get the percentage increase in CO2 due to Humanity annually.
(2.64 x 10^13)/(1.16415 x 10^23) * 100 =
2.2677490014173431258858394536786 x 10^-8 percent increase in CO2 annually.
Taking into consideration the way global warming works is energy reradiated by the earth after absorption by the sun is absorbed by gas
molecules in the atmosphere. there is a linear relationship between mass increase and number of particles increase which is again linearly
related to the energy capable of being absorbed. this is an idea in nuclear physics too.
Now let’s link to a page on how greenhouse gasses work.
Specifically let’s look at how much of the energy absorption of the atmosphere is due to CO2
C02used to contribute only 9% with H20 having a 76%+ but i’ll go with 30%.
so if we contribute an additional 2.2 x 10^-8percent of the mass we increase the energy absorbed by the atmosphere by 30% of that in the
worst case….or 6.8032470042520293776575183610358 x 10^-9percent.
ok so there are the numbers.
If the percentage of volume produced where not so pathetically small I would assume error. But what kind of model of gas behavior can
close that gap?
I’d love to see it. It is definitely needed because the gap exists.
Now I’m sure I’ll get abuse. But this is an evidence based analytical look at the data being provided by the people that are telling me I am the cause of Global warming.
I am but in amounts so small to be undetectable…it’s an accident that the industrial revolution corresponded with a warming trend….perhaps
better crop yields resulted in more wealth and leisure for invention?
I digress. save the insults and discuss the implications or the fallacies.
We need to save the planet but that may involve preparing for climate change…not trying to prevent it in vain.
thanks for listening.
Logic.
Atmosphere of Earth – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is… See More

Response

I’m OK with the large margins on the math since we are only trying to prove a point. This is called a ‘back of the envelope’ estimate. But, your numbers go beyond ‘back of the envelope.”

The first number I have trouble with is the amount of man made CO2 emissions. You use 6,000 million tons per year (6 gigatons per year). That number represents U.S. emissions only, according to your own source. Worldwide emissions are well over 30 gigatons annually (also from the EPA: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html). I have even recently seen 40 gigatons as the amount, but lets go with the lower number.


You are way off on the mass of the atmosphere. Your second cited reference states the mass of the atmosphere is about 5 x 10^18 kgs, not 10^24. That’s a factor of a million difference. When I multiply the area of the planet by atmospheric pressure I get about 5 x 10^18 kg (after converting from newtons to kilograms). That would be 5 million gigatons. So, let’s go with that number.

I have not done the calculations myself, but Wikipedia gives about 3000 gigatons as the mass of atmospheric CO2. Using these numbers we get CO2 is about .06% of the atmosphere. Wikipedia lists it as .04%, so we are in the ball park.

Now, as we saw, humans produce in excess of 30 gigatons of CO2 per year, that would be a 1% increase in CO2 level per year. Fortunately, about one-half of what we emit is absorbed by nature. That would be an increase of around .5%. Measured CO2 levels are increasing at a rate of about 2 parts per million per year. The current density is about 400 ppm, so that means we again find we are increasing CO2 in the atmosphere at a rate of about .5% per year. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere)

The measurements taken in the late 1950s showed atmospheric CO2 levels to be at 315 ppm. Today, they exceed 400 ppm. That gives us an increase of about 27% over 55 years, or about .5% per year. Again, we get about the same number. 

Your line of reasoning was OK and, based on your numbers, your objection was reasonable. But, your numbers were incorrect. When we use more accurate numbers we consistently get an annual increase of CO2 levels of about .5%.

If we had a linear relationship, then we could say the 30% of warming due to CO2 has increased by 27% over 55 years. It either started out as about 24% of the warming, or has increased to 38%. That all depends on when the 30% figure is good for. 

But, it isn’t linear because when CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere it causes other things to change. In particular, increasing the temperature increases the amount of water vapor in the air and water vapor is a more efficient greenhouse gas than CO2. That shows why CO2 is the driver, even though the majority of warming is attributed to other gases.

I believe I have shown that this is not a proof that man made global warming is not real. 

$30,000 Challenge Submission – Hockey Stick

http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2012/10/seven-recent-papers-that-disprove-man.html

http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2014/02/18/5-scientific-reasons-that-global-warming-isnt-happening-n1796423/page/full

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/0313irradiance.html

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/22mar_saber/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2012/07/17/that-scientific-global-warming-consensus-not/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/02/13/peer-reviewed-survey-finds-majority-of-scientists-skeptical-of-global-warming-crisis/

there ya go all copy and past urls

Response:

The first link provided took me to the Hockey Schtick page, but it said the referenced page no longer existed. I would be glad to address what it was they said there, but I have no idea what it is.

Second link:
I’ve seen this post before. It is really bad. It claims to show five scientific reason global warming isn’t happening (Where are all the guys that insist no denier says global warming doesn’t exist?). Let’s review them in order:
1. It has not warmed since 1997. Man, cats should have this many lives. No matter how many times you kill this sucker it keeps coming back. Dracula had nothing on this myth. To recap, nine of the ten hottest years have occurred since 2000, including the three hottest (all three hotter than 1998). Also, they always love to leave out the ocean warming, which is 93% of global warming. “Global” warming means the whole globe and cherry-picking only one part doesn’t change the reality. See this article here:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/petergleick/2012/02/05/global-warming-has-stopped-how-to-fool-people-using-cherry-picked-climate-data/

2. This one is a double failure. First, it isn’t true. And, second, it isn’t scientific evidence and is a red herring that deniers like to use to try and distract the argument. It is a whole lot harder for them that it tough to buy off scientists, so they make stuff up. I addressed this issue in this post here:

http://dialoguesonglobalwarming.blogspot.com/2014/06/deniers-confirm-consensus.html

3. So what? One year doesn’t establish anything, one way or another. Arctic sea ice is down dramatically since 1980, that is what matters. By the way, the sea ice extent this year has been consistently tracking at levels below last years. The melt season has a long way to go yet, but the trend is not supporting denier claims. See the data here:

https://nsidc.org/

4. Climate models are actually quite good. This is another false denier claim. Analyses of the models shows that the ‘pause’ was accurately modeled, contrary to denier claims. Look at these sites:

http://www.ucsusa.org/publications/ask/2013/climate-modeling.html
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/mar/27/climate-change-model-global-warming

5. This is a ‘So what?’ point and not scientific evidence. The predictions made by scientists do not have any effect on what nature is doing. But, the point is also incorrect. Many of the things that were forecasted have turned out to happen as predicted.

http://www.wunderground.com/climate/facts/models_are_reliable.asp

Third link:
Solar activity has increased since the 1800s, that is true, but it has also decreased since the 1950s. Take a look at the data here:
http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/sorce/data/tsi-data/

Fourth link:
I’m not sure how this helps disprove man made global warming. Solar storms dump energy in the atmosphere all the time and were doing it before global warming started. You would need to show there has been an increase in the total energy input to the atmosphere over time.

Fifth link:
The consensus has not only been shown to be true, but it has been verified by deniers.

http://dialoguesonglobalwarming.blogspot.com/2014/06/deniers-confirm-consensus.html

But, again, so what? Nature is not going to change what it is doing based on how scientists agree or don’t agree. This is not scientific evidence.

Sixth link:
See the my response the fifth link.

Summary:

There was no scientific evidence submitted here. So, it did not come close to proving the point.