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Antarctic temperatures disagree with climate model predictions

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I just love being eventually proven right but vindication usually doesn’t come to me this quickly. As I was trying to tell Mike Dunford, including my now prophetic-appearing conjecture that manmade CFC-caused ozone depletion is a real global warming culprit, unlike the mythical C02 effect…

Last year, Bromwich’s research group reported in the journal Science that Antarctic snowfall hadn’t increased in the last 50 years. “What we see now is that the temperature regime is broadly similar to what we saw before with snowfall. In the last decade or so, both have gone down.”

“In some sense, we might have competing effects going on in Antarctica where there is low-level CO2 warming but that may be swamped by the effects of ozone depletion.”

–David Bromwich, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Geography, Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University

Thanks for playing, Mike. Better luck next time.

Antarctic temperatures disagree with climate model predictions

Public release date: 15-Feb-2007
Contact: David Bromwich
Bromwich.1@osu.edu
614-292-6692
Ohio State University

COLUMBUS , Ohio – A new report on climate over the world’s southernmost continent shows that temperatures during the late 20th century did not climb as had been predicted by many global climate models.

This comes soon after the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that strongly supports the conclusion that the Earth’s climate as a whole is warming, largely due to human activity.

It also follows a similar finding from last summer by the same research group that showed no increase in precipitation over Antarctica in the last 50 years. Most models predict that both precipitation and temperature will increase over Antarctica with a warming of the planet.

David Bromwich, professor of atmospheric sciences in the Department of Geography, and researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, reported on this work at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at San Francisco.

“It’s hard to see a global warming signal from the mainland of Antarctica right now,” he said. “Part of the reason is that there is a lot of variability there. It’s very hard in these polar latitudes to demonstrate a global warming signal. This is in marked contrast to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula that is one of the most rapidly warming parts of the Earth.”

Bromwich says that the problem rises from several complications. The continent is vast, as large as the United States and Mexico combined. Only a small amount of detailed data is available – there are perhaps only 100 weather stations on that continent compared to the thousands spread across the U.S. and Europe . And the records that we have only date back a half-century.

“The best we can say right now is that the climate models are somewhat inconsistent with the evidence that we have for the last 50 years from continental Antarctica .

“We’re looking for a small signal that represents the impact of human activity and it is hard to find it at the moment,” he said.

Last year, Bromwich’s research group reported in the journal Science that Antarctic snowfall hadn’t increased in the last 50 years. “What we see now is that the temperature regime is broadly similar to what we saw before with snowfall. In the last decade or so, both have gone down,” he said.

In addition to the new temperature records and earlier precipitation records, Bromwich’s team also looked at the behavior of the circumpolar westerlies, the broad system of winds that surround the Antarctic continent.

“The westerlies have intensified over the last four decades of so, increasing in strength by as much as perhaps 10 to 20 percent,” he said. “This is a huge amount of ocean north of Antarctica and we’re only now understanding just how important the winds are for things like mixing in the Southern Ocean.” The ocean mixing both dissipates heat and absorbs carbon dioxide, one of the key greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Some researchers are suggesting that the strengthening of the westerlies may be playing a role in the collapse of ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula.

“The peninsula is the most northern point of Antarctica and it sticks out into the westerlies,” Bromwich says. “If there is an increase in the westerly winds, it will have a warming impact on that part of the continent, thus helping to break up the ice shelves, he said.

“Farther south, the impact would be modest, or even non-existent.”

Bromwich said that the increase in the ozone hole above the central Antarctic continent may also be affecting temperatures on the mainland. “If you have less ozone, there’s less absorption of the ultraviolet light and the stratosphere doesn’t warm as much.”

That would mean that winter-like conditions would remain later in the spring than normal, lowering temperatures.

“In some sense, we might have competing effects going on in Antarctica where there is low-level CO2 warming but that may be swamped by the effects of ozone depletion,” he said. “The year 2006 was the all-time maximum for ozone depletion over the Antarctic.”

Bromwich said the disagreement between climate model predictions and the snowfall and temperature records doesn’t necessarily mean that the models are wrong.

“It isn’t surprising that these models are not doing as well in these remote parts of the world. These are global models and shouldn’t be expected to be equally exact for all locations,” he said.

15 Replies to “Antarctic temperatures disagree with climate model predictions

  1. 1
    Douglas says:

    I live in northern Indiana, where it’s regularly been in the single digits, and even below zero, for the most part of the past two weeks or so. Where’s global warming when you need it?

  2. 2
    russ says:

    It’s almost as if the earth is specifically designed for human habitation, and fruitful multiplication.

  3. 3
    Joseph says:

    There is a book out titled “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming”-

    Dave do you know the author? You two are on the same page. 😉

    He talked about how the temps in East Antartica have dropped, as opposed to getting warmeer as the global warming scenario suggests.

  4. 4
    Mark Frank says:

    Dave

    CFCs are an unlikely candidate for explaining recent global warming. It is true that they are more powerful greenhouse gasses than say CO2 or Water Vapour, but they are present in far smaller quantities (pp trillion as opposed to pp million). Also they destroy many times their own mass in ozone which is itself a greenhouse gas. In the paper you reference the authors do not refer to CFCs as green house gasses. They only conjecture that decreased ozone due to CFCs may have resulted in extended winter in the Antartic i.e. driven temperatures down not up and thus counteracted the effect of increased CO2.

    It is true that Antartic temperatures changes are not in line with climate models. But I think the explanation lies elsewhere.

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    Mark

    The author actually misses the mark on the effect of ozone depletion. Ozone and CFCs are insignificant as greenhouse gases. The key is what happens to the energy in UVB radiation from the sun. Ozone absorbs UVB, breaking up 03 into 02 and 0, the atomic oxygen recombines with 02, and the cycle continues. Heat is generated. When this occurs in the stratosphere it has the combined effect of heating the stratosphere and preventing UVB from reaching the earth’s surface. The heat in the stratosphere is lost to space rather than being transferred to the surface.

    When UVB instead reaches the surface because manmade CFCs have thinned the stratospheric ozone layer, the UVB then heats the troposphere and surface instead of the stratosphere. Heat at and near the surface isn’t radiated back into space but is instead trapped by greenhouse gases. Keep in the mind the earth’s natural greenhouse gases are what keep the surface conditions warm enough for liquid water in the first place.

    CFC production has leveled off, unlike CO2 production which never stopped increasing. That’s probably why the C02 models predicted much more global warming than has actually been observed. The majority of the warming was never due to C02, it was due to CFCs. Because CFC production leveled off and the models were based on C02, they missed the mark. Moreover, the C02 models predicted warming would be consistent from the surface up through the troposphere whereas actual measurements show more heating at the surface and declining as you rise into the troposphere. That’s because UVB is penetrating all the way to the surface. The troposphere is transparent to it. Snow is a good reflector of UVB so the antarctic gets less of the heating effect. Water is also a reflector so you’d tend towards heating over dark land, near the surface, just where we’ve had most of our thermometers measuring surface temperatures accurately for the longest times. Albedo in general is higher for the southern hemisphere as 80% of it is water vs. 60% for the northern hemisphere so we should see a larger effect from more sunlight reaching the surface in the north. And that’s what we do see is exagerated temperature rises in the higher northern latitudes. One might also expect positive feedback in the north as snow/ice melt to expose land it generates even more local warming. If the frozen north thaws out lower and northern latitude growing seasons are extended, while closer to the equator there is little change from today, this is a great thing. We need more arable land with longer growing seasons. The oceans will slowly rise as northern ice melts. Construction close to sea level today will gradually (or maybe not so gradually) find itself a meter below sea level instead of a meter above. That’s the only real economic downside. Nobody is going to drown because the ocean rose so far so fast. Planning today to deal with a slowly and slightly rising sea level and unfrozen north would be a better idea than running off half cocked burdening industry to slow CO2 emissions.

    This is why we shouldn’t start throwing huge sums of money at reducing manmade C02. C02 could very well be a net benefit, helping in a small way to keep the earth from entering another ice age, lengthening growing seasons in higher latitudes, increasing precipitation, and “fertilizing” the atmosphere, all of which work to boost food crop production. Except for the Eric Pianka types who think there should be far fewer humans and far more lizards, boosting the capacity of the planet to produce food crops is a good thing.

    Haste makes waste and the global warming hysteria is nothing but haste driven purely by sensationalism and socialist/left leaning political bodies who want increased control over the world economy. That’s all global warming alarmism really is – a political power grab.

  6. 6
    SChen24 says:

    “That’s all global warming alarmism really is – a political power grab.”

    Is this really true DaveScot? Are you saying that there is NOTHING behind global warming except politicians wanting to grab political power? What political seat is Al Gore seeking again?

    Please think about this–in the last ten years, the earth on the whole has been warmer each year than the previous year and those ten together are the ten warmest years recorded.

    In addition, global warming isn’t merely getting warmer, but it is the disturbance of the climate. We see cold places, like the Arctic, getting warmer and warm places getting colder. This disturbance in climate has a great effect on environment, ecology, and other areas.

    This earth was given to us as a gift and with the responsibility to take care of it. We are called to be good stewards and I don’t believe denying global warming is being a good steward of the earth.

    Of course, I hope, I really hope global warming isn’t happening. It would make this a better place and less environmental concerns. But I don’t see the evidence that it isn’t happening. And even if it isn’t, what is to keep us from being good stewards?

    Finally, I still don’t see how global warming relates to intelligent design. Is Uncommon Descent now a blog on global warming too?

  7. 7
    DaveScot says:

    SChen

    What political seat is Al Gore seeking again?

    Not political seat. Political agenda. Al Gore is only 58 years old with the best health care money can buy. He has decades left to get directly back into politics if he wants and if he doesn’t want to he can still leverage his name and followers to help his agenda move forward.

  8. 8
    SChen24 says:

    DaveScot,
    Yes, you are correct about Al Gore. His name is enough to make people pay attention to global warming. And I’m not denying that it is a political issue (and probably skewed now that it is). But I still feel that as IDers, we should focus more on ID than on Global Warming. I have interests in Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, Constitutional Law and so forth, but I try to keep my blog posts at Doubting Darwin to just ID. But again, this is your blog so I don’t have any say–just my take on it all.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. 9
    Mark Frank says:

    So Dave when you wrote

    “First of all CFCs are powerful greenhouse gases (vs. a weak gas like CO2)”

    I guess that was irrelevant?

    I am afraid there are a few things that you have written that I don’t believe. Maybe you can supply references? I am always willing to learn. I have supplied references to support the challenges I am making.

    1 “When UVB instead reaches the surface because manmade CFCs have thinned the stratospheric ozone layer” – the only significant thinning of the ozone layer to date is where there is an ‘ozone hole’ – a tiny proportion of the earth’s atmosphere.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion

    2 “That’s probably why the C02 models predicted much more global warming than has actually been observed.” Of course most scientists think current levels of temperature increase are in line with models – but I know I will not convince you of this.

    3 “the C02 models predicted warming would be consistent from the surface up through the troposphere whereas actual measurements show more heating at the surface and declining as you rise into the troposphere.” GCM models predict an increasingly sharp temperature gradient in the atmosphere as the concentration of GHGs increases.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=58

    4 “Snow is a good reflector of UVB so the antarctic gets less of the heating effect.” But the Antarctic is where the ozone hole is – that’s the place that gets virtually all the UVB – so even with reflection it should the strongest warming trend on your theory.

    I think you might want to think this one through a bit more 🙂

  10. 10
    Dr. Atevad says:

    Once again the liberal spin machine is more concerned with its agenda than with science.

    1) The earth is a self-regulating complex machine. Funny how they have such faith in evolution and life’s ability to meet new challenges but not at this macro level.

    2) As far as I can tell periodic solar activity could well be the main culprit.

    3) We had all of this before, but backwards (global cooling) 10 years ago. Empirically they’ve shown us a large propensity for error in both magnitude and direction.

    P.S. I’m a troll, an alcoholic, and sexual deviant. If I had an honest or intelligent bone in my body I wouldn’t be posting comments here anymore. Now if you’ll excuse me I have other matters that call for my attention on WACKER (heheh) Drive.

    AMLI Management Co.
    125 S Wacker Dr., Ste. 3100, Chicago IL 60606, United States
    (312)443-1477, (312)443-0909 fax, http://www.amli.com

  11. 11
    Jennifer6972 says:

    I would like to know how global warming deniers can look at the melting glaciers and say that the climate isn’t warming. Glacial retreat has been well documented over the last 50 years (almost all glaciers are retreating except for a very few in Norway), and glaciers in the last 10 years have retreated faster than ever. So what? you may say… but millions and millions of people rely on glaciers for drinking water, irrigation, and hydroelectric power. A warmer climate will not produce a longer growing season in many poor parts of the world if there is no water to irrigate crops. This is a problem in many heavily populated parts of the world: the Himalaya, the Andes, and even in the Pacific northwest. Currently, quickly melting glaciers are already causing catastrophic flooding in some places and water shortages in others. If glaciers melt in both the Himalaya and the Andes, the people there will have almost no fresh water. People cannot live without fresh water! Isn’t the responsiblity of Christians to help care for the less fortunate? How do you square that with ignoring how a warming climate will create absolute horror for tens of millions of people when their water disappears? I for one think that if there’s even a 5% chance that humans are indeed causing the earth to warm, which will result in all of the glaciers melting, it our moral responsiblity to do something about it.

    I think Jesus would encourage us to care for the earth and to ensure that the less fortunate will not needlessly suffer. That is not what you are promoting by denying global warming is real.

    Here’s a scientific article if you care to read it.

    http://www.aaas.org/news/relea.....iers.shtml

  12. 12
    DaveScot says:

    Mark Frank

    Yes, certain CFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, molecule for molecule compared to C02, and if atmospheric concentration rose enough it would become a greenhouse problem. But its major effect isn’t as a greenhouse gas but rather as an ozone destroyer. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas (traps heat) but its effect is greater in blocking incoming light rather than trapping outgoing heat.

    Jennifer

    Glacier melting is a regional phenomenon. While that glacier in Greenland is melting it’s actually getting a little colder close to the equator. In fact the vast majority of the warming is taking place over northern land masses and the north pole while the southern hemisphere isn’t warming at all and the antarctic continent has gotten even colder in the past 10 years. If you add up all the cooling and heating it’s debatable whether the net is more or less heat. But even if the net is more heat that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Less heat is the bad thing.

    Keep in mind Greenland was so named because 1000 years ago it was all green and was farmed. Now it’s locked up in ice and is anything but green. Is prime farmland being locked up in permanent deep freeze a good thing? Not in my opinion. Ice bad. Arable farmland good. Regionalized warming that thaws out the frozen northern high latitudes while leaving the low latitudes unchanged, which is what appears to be happening, is a blessing.

  13. 13
    butifnot says:

    Some comments / questions

    The earth was in an ice age. Now it’s not. Retreating glaciers are hardly a shock.

    ‘if there’s even the slightest chance we are warming the earth’ has got to be even odds with ‘if there’s the slightest chance we are preventing an ice age’

    Doesn’t plain O2 absorb most UV, A or C? Then the O atoms combine with O2 to form ozone. So UV actually creates ozone from plentiful plain oxygen. With the poles in the dark for 6 months there should be an ‘ozone hole’ there.

    Didn’t the guy who first measured ozone (the units of measurement are named after him) find a ‘hole’ over the north pole in the 50’s? and lower levels of ozone?

    Aren’t the sattelite temp measurements the only ones to go by?

    DaveScot, some great posts, I don’t buy the cfc’s as culprits though. I don’t think they rise to the top of the atmoshere and cause trouble, but instead sink to the ground and break down in the soil.

    I agree this issue has many parallels with ID / Evolution.

  14. 14
    eebrom says:

    We hear of more and more Christians siding with the global-warming alarmists. Generally they appeal to stewardship of creation concerns.

    And, of course, such appeals are well-founded if it is considered that God made his creation for the benefit of his creatures.

    But why be concerned only about global-warming when the actual numbers are, at best, controversial? Should we not be concerned with global cooling also — just in case?

    Would the God who presumably pre-designed his creation expect us to chase after false science in order to protect it for future life? Does not universal truth have something to do with the “lesser” truths in science or any other field of inquiry?

    It is a relatively simple matter to fetch temperature data off the Internet, and to plot them out as a function of time. It is a relatively simple matter to travel to Alaska and see adjacent advancing and retreating glaciers. It is a relatively simple matter to compare rising CO2 measurements with temperatures, and see that the two do not always correlate. It is a relatively simple matter to uncover blatant falsification of data, obviously done so to bolster non-scientific opinion. It is a relatively simple matter to check the histories of times when the Earth was warmer than it is now. It is a relatively simple matter to read of competing, and sensible, theories of global warming deriving from cosmic effects. And, it is not too difficult to resurrect the alarmist predictions of global-cooling only 25 years ago. Maybe most of all, to realize that between glaciations, the Earth necessarily warms somewhat before it cools again.

    More than all this relatively simple research is a troublesome observation. The global-warming alarmists want, and are making every effort, to erase or to dimininish any opposition to their claims. It’s as if the numbers do not count. It’s as if government control should trump scientific fact. The underlying philosophy is not difficult to understand: mankind not only has the power to protect the environment, they have the power to control climate, and by extension, everything. In other words, God is unnecessary.

    The push for global warming is, in concept, identical to the push for Darwinian principles. The idea that pervades almost every possible activity and thought process in our culture is to make God unnecessary. It is that simple – in its pernicious complexity. Christian folks are being hook-winked by clever manipulation in all forms of media coverage.

    Our times are moving quickly so predictions are not all that difficult to make. At present rates of disinformation we will likely see in our generation the institution of thought-police, orientation police, and carbon police. In some places, these forces already exist!

    I happen to be a retired scientist; I try to keep up with modern advances in most physical sciences. I also happen to have hope in traditional Christian ideals. When it comes to questions of climate change I would appeal to younger folks to do a little bit of their own research before jumping on bad-science band-wagons. For starters, do some critical reading using Webpages like …

    junkscience.com
    friendsofscience.org
    climateaudit.com
    nrsp.com

    Read the daily reports from CCNET.

    I agree, it’s not all that easy to keep abreast of everything — as far as I can find we weren’t promised a rose-garden. To some extent we need to be our own doctor, scientist, theologian, critic, and attorney!

  15. 15
    DaveScot says:

    Jennifer

    You need to go to the link below which is temperature data taken all over the globe by satellites going back 25 years. Use the control at the upper left to go backward through time. Until I see that you’ve looked at the regional warming and cooling trends you can’t post a comment here again.

    You’ll see that what I said about regional warming trends in the upper northern latitudes while nearer the equator and all of the southern hemisphere the trend is cooling.

    Are glaciers in the upper northern hemisphere retreating? You bet. Is meltwater in the spring less? You bet. But the precipitation isn’t less. It’s not being captured and released when needed. That’s why dams were invented. People not fortunate enough to have glaciers who need the precipitation in the winter capture the precipitation in reservoirs and hold it there until needed for irrigation. Plus you get to generate electricity through turbines in the gates. One thing is for sure, you can’t farm land that is frozen all year round. Global warming, if it’s real and doesn’t revert to global cooling like it was from 1940 – 1980, will open up vast new tracks of frozen north in Siberia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, while extending growing seasons in the semi-frozen latitudes to allow growing of two crops per year instead of one, and lots of other good things.

    Trying to reverse global warming risks global cooling and global cooling is much worse than global warming. Global cooling locks up badly needed fresh water in permanently frozen icefields, increases ocean salination, removes land from farming, increases energy demands to heat human habitation, and God only knows how many other bad things. If we’re going to err the sane side to err on is global warming.

    http://wwwghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/temperature/

    Now go to the link above and get yourself informed.

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