Antarctic Warming Like the Rest of the World

Thu, 2009-01-22 23:45Mitchell Anderson
Mitchell Anderson's picture

Antarctic Warming Like the Rest of the World

A paper published this week in the prestigious journal Nature shows that in fact Antarctica is getting warmer, consistent with an overall trend of global temperature rise.

For years, industry-funded “skeptics” have been harping on in the mainstream media that Antarctica was getting colder instead of warmer. This apparently was evidence that global warming was all a big mistake.

Stating the obvious, the authors of this latest study said that warming temperatures in Antarctica are “difficult to explain” without linking them to carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Misinformation about Antarctic cooling has been frustrating for researchers trying to communicate the seriousness of climate change to the public.

The thing you hear all the time is that Antarctica is cooling and that’s not the case,” said Eric Steig of the University of Washington in Seattle, lead author of the study in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature.

“This has put the last pieces of the jigsaw in place,” said Gareth Marshall, a British Antarctic Survey climatologist in Cambridge “If you consider Antarctica as a whole, it shows a significant warming of similar levels to the rest of the Southern Hemisphere.”

While this new research is good news for our understanding about climate change, the implications for coastal areas of the world are hair-raising.

West Antarctica “will eventually melt if warming like this continues,” said Drew Shindell, of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who was one of the authors. A 3 Celsius (5.4 F) rise could trigger a wide melt of West Antarctica, he said. Greenland is also vulnerable. Together, Greenland and West Antarctica hold enough ice to raise sea levels by 14 meters.

“Even losing a fraction of both would cause a few meters this century, with disastrous consequences,” said Barry Brook, director of climate change research at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

As if on queue, reports emerged last week showing that the massive Wilkins ice shelf is on the verge of breaking off into the ocean.

Scientists do not expect this 15,000 square kilometer chunk of ice to immediately raise sea levels since it is already floating. However, it is yet another dramatic example of the pace of climate-related change around the world.

The collapse of the ice shelf could also lead to future sea level changes from increased flow of land-based ice sheets into the warming Southern Ocean.

The myth of Antarctic cooling was largely popularized by the hilariously inaccurate novel, “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton. The premise of this potboiler was that an all-powerful and hyper-violent group of environmentalists were staging a series of fake climate catastrophes as a way of raising money.

I’m not kidding. 

Proving that all politics really is theatre, the science fiction author was invited to testify as a “climate expert” at a US government hearing on climate change by the famously ignorant Senator Inhofe.

Strangely, Inhofe has also received over $1.1 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas sector.

With the Antarctic warming myth dead and gone, climate skeptics will now have to rely on other red herrings to confuse the public in the popular press.

Sun spots anyone?

Check out Real Climate’s take on the Nature study: State of Antarctica: red or blue?

This month we’re giving away FREE copies Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal.

Go here to find out more details about DeSmogBlog’s monthly book give-away.

 

Previous Comments

that “antarctic warming myth” line looks a little funny to me. How about “antarctic cooling myth”?

anyway warming and cooling is all a question of time scale . 2 or 3 year cooling trends are generally disregarded as meaningless but it must mean something. By the same token, if we were to see annual warming year after year, it would make me sit up and take notice, but thats not happening.

 

From the abstract of the Nature paper:

West Antarctic warming exceeds 0.1 °C per decade over the past 50 years, and is strongest in winter and spring. Although this is partly offset by autumn cooling in East Antarctica, the continent-wide average near-surface temperature trend is positive.

 

Snif! Snif! smells like another  “Warmest October Ever” .

No.

bi

How good is this study? It is imortant to remember, there are only *2* weather stations in the whole vast interior of the Antarctic.

As to the assertion that Antarctic cooling is a “myth”, that is hardly the case. The best data available supported that claim. One peer-reviewed article is not enough to disprove the other data.

I don’t know what you define as interior, but there’s actually a ton of weather stations in antarctica. Also, it’s not relying just on weather stations. The paper’s authors have done some fancy math to calibrate a model that maps surface station data to IR satellite data, calibrating with the data from the time there’s both, so they can reconstruct “satellite data” for the whole continent from the pre-satellite era.

Pretty impressive, I think.

 

There are a lot of weather monitoring stations NOW, but they were very few 50 years ago over this vast area. Satellite data only goes back a few decades too which is why I have questions about the strength of the data in the study.

There are a lot of weather monitoring stations NOW, but they were very few 50 years ago over this vast area.

That wasn’t what you said just two hours ago:

there are only *2* weather stations in the whole vast interior of the Antarctic.

So which is it?

bi

There are only 2 weather stations in the Antarctic interior that provide data going back 50 years.

Warmers have been saying for years that the Antarctic is cooling because: 1) of the hole in the ozone layer 2) because all their climate models predict cooling in the Antarctica

Now, suddenly, we are supposed to swallow a new study that says it has been warming for 50 years.

Well, which is it?

There are only 2 weather stations in the Antarctic interior that provide data going back 50 years.

That wasn’t what you said.

Well, which is it?

Why don’t you ask the authors over at RealClimate? I’m sure they’ll be happy to clarify this issue for you. If you genuinely want it clarified.

bi

Do you have a point to make Frank or are you going to nitpick on a trifle. Anyone who had read some of the literature on this new study would have grasped what I was saying.

Oh paul s, I’m sooo sorry I hurt your feelings (in the same way that the Inquisition hurt Galileo’s feelings, or something). But actually you could’ve simply said something like

Oops, that was wrong, I stand corrected; this was really what I meant: …

After all, it was a minor point, wasn’t it? But you chose to blame others so that you can keep up your image of ‘skeptical’ ‘infallibility’.

I’m sure when you morphed “Antarctica is cold” into “Antarctica is cooling”, it’s also the fault of us “nitpickers”, eh paul s?

bi

My feelings are fine Frank. Thanks for asking. But, anyone who had read any of the reports would have understood the point I was making. Why don’t you go read the reports now yourself?
Why don’t you do some research and give us solid evidence that there were only two weather stations fifty years ago.

Why don’t you read the study first and then come back and ask that foolish question VJ?

I am not going to pay to read it. But since you are pretending you have read it, Paul, then provide us with an exact quotation and page number or section title for it.

The point of there work was not to analyse the existing old weather station data, but to reconstruct data for the whole continent using this machine learning model that maps from weather station data to satellite data. With a view of the whole continent they can then draw conclusions. There are metrics to support the validity of the model. They’re not just pulling this out of their collective asses.

So it’s data reconstruction with hardly any data. And in contradiction to what the peer-reviewed science, the IPCC, and Real Climate have previously stated. I still have no idea whether it is a good study.

Obviously paul s’s statement above is wrong, and he really meant to say something else, but it’s still our fault for “nitpicking” him.

bi

=”For years, industry-funded “skeptics” have been harping on in the mainstream media that Antarctica was getting colder instead of warmer.”= - Mitchell Anderson

Hmmmm. Do these “skeptics” include RealClimate? In February of last year, Real Climate posted the following article:

    Antarctica is Cold? Yeah, We Knew That

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/02/antarctica-is-cold/

A few quotes from the skeptics at Real Climate:

“… a cold Antarctica is just what calculations predict… and have predicted for the past quarter century.”

“A cold Antarctica and Southern Ocean do not contradict our models of global warming. For a long time the models have predicted just that.”

Which claims are to be believed?

Go over to RealClimate and have a look at the post that deals with this paper, & ask THEM – they are, after all, co-authors of the new study. 

Once again you are either being deliberately misleading or your comprehension skills are zero. Which is it Paul? You have put so much misinformation out on this blog over the years that it would be nice to know which it is. People might treat you a bit better if you really lacked comperehension skills rather than the alternative explanation for your errors.

Go and read it again and tell us where it says that the Antarctic is going to “cool”.

What it does say is that the Antarctic will be cold for a long time since it will be warming at a much lower rate than the rest of the globe. How on earth does warming slower become cooling in your mind?

Previously stating that it will be “cold for a long time” and now stating “there has been a warming trend for 50 years” are a complete contradiction of each other.

Both claims, made by climate scientists in the peer-reviewed literature, can not be true.

So which claim is true? And why, other then this report being new and supposedly novel, should one immediately accept the results of this study?

How on earth do these statements contradict one another? “Cold for a long time” means exactly what it says, It was very cold, it does not imply (as you seem to think) that there was any cooling or warming.

“Warming trend for 50 years” means that they observed warming, it does not say whether it was very cold or very warm merely that the temperatures are changing.

See, Paul, scientists use words very carefully so that there will be no confusion in the minds of people who are used to being meticulous in their language. People like you who throw out words (or should I say “cut and paste”) never bother to really try and understand what they actually mean. This is a major flaw in deniers’ ability to understand science, they have their minds made up before they interpret the results.

 
Over vast areas of the Arctic, there has not been “observed” warming, because there has been no data. The satellite data only goes back 25 years, and 50 years back, there were only 2 weather stations providing data. There is a HUGE amount of data infilling with this study and because of that the level of confidence in the results can not be high.

Several years ago,the NOAA was reporting the Antarctic was cooling substantially:

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=6502

Now they are saying it is warming ever so slightly:

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8239

Will scientists change their minds and say it is cooling again in a few years time?

Obviously paul s’s statement above is wrong, and he really meant to say something else, but it’s still our fault for “nitpicking” him.

bi

Paul s said:”Over vast areas of the Arctic….”

Try to keep on task, you will learn a lot more if you concentrate more and stop daydreaming.

If you have any data that show that the methods used are not valid scientifically then please produce them, otherwise you are just showing typical denier tactics by rubbishing, without any supporting evidence, any report that goes against your denier beliefs. That is not how science is conducted.

 
It’s not my study Ian. I don’t have to prove anything. I simply questioned how good a study is that has so little actual data in it.

Spread misinformation and lies without having a clue whether you are right or not. Of course that is the whole raison d’etre of the deniers. Too bad you probably don’t get the big cheques like Ball, Singer and Avery.

Bravo Ian, your ignorance is approaching legendary status.  All of your sources, studies and data are flawless (even after they are caught lying and revising) - and every skeptic is an idiot.  Please pay attention anyone with an open mind on this subject searching for truth and honesty - you will never get it from the Ian Forrester ‘zealots’ of the world.  Then want to close all debate (actually avoid it) and consistently rely on ‘consensus’ arguments and slurs against skeptics (‘denier’) while quoting the same old biased sources and name dropping the same old demons to inspire their cult members.  Do you really trust these arrogant opinionated condescending fools?  Read this outstanding article posted today, complete with extensive links to sources and data - takes apart many of the AGW scam arguments piece by piece;  http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/01/climate_change_you_cant_believ.html

 

They seem to be breeding again. Maybe it’s the warmer temperatures.

Well, at least if they cross the line they will be zapped.

It is obvious that you haven’t read the paper or you would not be making the completely inaccurate statements you have made.

Check out Figure 3b (mean annual trends for 1969 to 2000) and you will see why your comments are so far off the mark.

The Antarctic is substantially larger then all of Canada, and had *two* coastal weather stations 50 years ago. And you expect thinking people to unquestioningly accept that with that almost complete lack of data, scientists have reconstructed the temperature history for the whole of the Antarctic?

As Dr. Trenberth of the IPCC said of the study:

“… it’s hard to make data where none exists.”

You never provide any cites or facts to base your opinions on. Therefore, as most people reading this blog know, they are worthless.

lolwut

Yours truly,

bi

so part of the response over at watts is- Volcanic activity in the warming part of Antarctica.

it just gets more and more complicated.

(Well, almost everything. Warming in urban areas is explained with another One Unified Theory, the Urban Heat Islands.)

bi