Why do Science in Antarctica?

Nature, in the course of editorialising on the vast waste of money that is the US return to the moon plan (although they don’t say that), sez, making the analogy with the return to the South Pole in the IGY:

since humanity’s return to the South Pole, Antarctic science has been central to the great project of understanding the changes that humans are inflicting on the Earth. An Antarctic component to the nascent global carbon dioxide monitoring effort was established in 1957. Since then the contributions have been legion: discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole; the extraction of greenhouse-gas records and climate data reaching back more than half-a-million years from ice cores; the study of the anomalous warming of the Antarctic peninsula; and so on.

Which is a nice set of research results, but not very good if you’re defending science *at the pole*, ie Amundsen-Scott station. CO2 is done as A-S, but could (I presume) be done more easily at McMurdo. Ozone hole was us, of course :-). Deep ice cores aren’t done at the pole (its not a very good site for coring). Peninsula is exciting but, obviously, not done at the pole. Maybe there is a lot of “and so on” science too.

[Update: as several people point out (I thought of this too) its also good for astronomy. But Nature forgot that 🙂 ]

Its not too late – its later than we think!

From the washington post on the AR4: Global Warming Unstoppable, Report Says. Hmmm. Which is worse? The press reporting the skeptics saying GW isn’t happening / isn’t human / isn’t a problem. Or the press telling us we’re all doomed already (so may as well drive those SUVs and crank up the AC…).

“It’s not too late,” said Australian scientist Nathaniel Bindoff, a co-author of the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report issued Friday. The worst can be prevented by acting quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions, he said.


“It’s later than we think,” said panel co-chair Susan Solomon, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist who helped push through the document’s strong language. Solomon, who remains optimistic about the future, said it’s close to too late to alter the future for her children _ but maybe it’s not too late for her grandchildren.

Who is “we”? presumably not her. And I don’t think the bit about (grand)children makes much sense. And Trenberth doesn’t help:

This climate change “is just not something you can stop,” said Trenberth. “We’re just going to have to live with it…”

Meanwhile, head in a cloud has a summary of AR4/TAR differences, which confirms my feeling that there is nothing dramatic in there. Meanwhile, I’ll dump in a pet thought here: although the press has dutifully presented the AR4 report, I don’t think anyone was particularly thrilling by the strengthening of the attribution point. Which I suggest is because by now everyone believes it anyway, even the skeptics. The exact degree of confidence no longer really matters.

Moncktons curious take on the SPM

Lord Monckton seems to have decided that he is an expert on climate change, and has released his own review of the SPM. Such fun.

He starts: FIGURES in the final draft of the UN’s fourth five-year report on climate change show that the previous report, in 2001, had overestimated the human influence on the climate since the Industrial Revolution by at least one-third. Also, the UN, in its 2007 report, has more than halved its high-end best estimate of the rise in sea level by 2100 from 3 feet to just 17 inches.
Continue reading “Moncktons curious take on the SPM”

SPM proves less exciting than expected

Call me an old grump but the SPM for the IPCC AR4 report wasn’t terribly exciting. Which was, perhaps no great surprise: having read the draft chapters, or at least skimmed them, it was clear that nothing revolutionary was going to appear. They throw in the phrase Warming of the climate system is unequivocal which is a nice sound-bite but was true for the TAR too. Climate sensitivity is likely to be within 2-4.5 oC, but since this is only a 66% statement its quite weak; though they do go on to diss > 4.5 oC a bit. And the attribution key text is:

Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations12. This is an advance since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns.

So our advance since the TAR is insertion of the word “very” ;-)? No, thats unfair. There has been a lot of science since then, but the basic view of humans causing climate change hasn’t really altered very much.

[CJR says in a comment Might be a good thing… too much change in the fundamentals would lead to cries of, “look – they keep changing their mind about what they think!”. Quite true, and what I meant to say myself. I was feeling a bit grumpy this morning due to negative theta in my model runs :-(. What this (the SPM; not -ve T) confirms is that much of the fundamentals in the TAR and before were correct, and are just being refined. Wasn’t there a famous quote from Michaelson about that…? -W]

[Update: a href=”http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/001085follow_up_ipcc_and_.html”>RP Jr is obliged to admit that it wasn’t as exciting as thought it might be – serve him right for believing the press… -W]

Censorship fun!

James Annan, via Tom Adams, finds that the White House search engine has hits on “global warming” deliberately removed. Such fun.

Since they are almost bound to get embarassed by this and fix it, the current result for searching the Whitehouse is:

Search whitehouse.gov by keyword

Results for: "global warming"

1 results found, sorted by relevance 	sort by date 	  	hide summaries 		 1-1  	

fl~ 1S ~C Page Ilof 3 RECORD TYPE: FEDERAL (NOTES MIIAL) CREATOR: Kamerafl L. Onley ( CN= Kamerafl Lonley/OU= CEQ/O= EOP[
CEQI CREATION DATE/TIME: 2OAPR-2003 13: 45: 16.00 SUBJECT:: TO: "Douglas_ Onley/HQ/UIMC. UIMC"@...
http://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/foia/rcec/arms46.pdf - 107.5KB 

ps: Thanks to S/S/D for the interesting discussion on Stomata in the comments on the AR4 leak post. Will pull out into post soon.

[Update: based on comments elsewhere, it looks rather like the problem is case: “Global Warming” returns 100 odd results. Wot a cr*p search engine they have. This despite the fact that their help says lowercase will match anycase http://www.whitehouse.gov/help/?la=en&text=0 -W]