the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

The Bipolar Antarctic, Studies in Contradiction

Posted by Jeff Id on June 21, 2009

This link was called to my attention by Anthony Watts from a reader in WUWT thread.  The article is issued by the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. Written by Rachel Hauser.

Antarctic Warming, Antarctic Cooling

My bold…

Until recently, the Antarctic ice sheet looked to be bucking the global warming trend. This assessment relied on temperature data collected from a sparse network of mostly coastal weather stations. To provide a more complete picture of Antarctica’s historic surface temperature regime, a team of U.S. scientists employed an innovative technique to construct 50-year estimates of the near-surface temperature anomalies for the entire continent. The resulting climate field reconstructions for 1957-2006 show an overall warming trend across Antarctica, with this trend being strongest over the West Antarctic ice sheet.

From Dr. Steig.

Steig adds that their results also agree well with similar work by previous researchers. “The main thing we added is information about what is happening in West Antarctica, a large region of the continent that is particularly lacking in weather stations,” he explains.

How does previous work ‘buck the warming trend’ yet the new work showing a high warming trend, be in agreement with previous researchers? Perhaps someone can explain.  Steig et al found a 0.118 C/Decade trend yet obvious and reasonable methods come up with about 1/3 of that.

Area Weighted Reconstruction

Here’s a great question by our government reporter in the article linked above.  Talk about stepping in it:

The study sheds light on an outstanding question in Antarctic climatology: has the strong warming observed on the Antarctic Peninsula also extended inland over continental West Antarctica?

Mann made global warming! 😀   I’ve got this one  —- Yes, yes it has.

Guess what! The AGW scientists and I are apparently in agreement.

The reconstructions indicate that the answer to this question is yes, with warming trends extending well into West Antarctica in excess of 0.1°C per decade during the past 50 years.

An interesting mention of knowledge of the overweighting of the peninsula.  I don’t want to start a fraud thread so keep your comments reasonable.  It does sounds like knowledge of the spread of peninsula warming into regions where surface temperature stations don’t agree with this result.  After all there are surface stations in West Antarctica.  Drs Steig and Schneider make this pitch for their proxy work, papers which someone might want to check on.

This finding is supported by measurements from nearby ice cores and boreholes that also indicate warming during the last half century, notes Schneider.

This quote from Dr. Steig is odd.

“This isn’t a surprising result,” says Steig. “The same weather systems that bring warm, moist air from the Pacific onto the Antarctic Peninsula also affect West Antarctica.”

I’m not sure what he’s saying about not being surprised but we who live outside climatology regularly see exaggerated results by scientists in government global warming documents.  The trend in Steig et al is obviously exaggerated in comparison to measured data.  I believe he’s talking in this interview rather than writing slowly, so I’s going to assume he’s saying that rather than ‘not surprising’ he’s acknowledging out the match to some ice core studies he’s done (I haven’t read any so the match is assumed).

The funding source:

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs and led by Eric Steig, a glaciologist and isotope geochemist at the University of Washington, the team based their temperature reconstructions on observations collected at manned weather stations

The point I keep coming back too when I think about peer acceptance of this paper is, if the Antarctic won’t melt —- there is no flooding. If it won’t even warm, future flooding is difficult to discuss. The latest government issued document titled Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States had a big effect on me, it was an advocacy document being sold by US government employed scientists (who put their credentials on the line) as though it were science.  It was full of exaggerations and what was obvious intentional misrepresentation.  There’s no other way to put it, and I won’t soon forget.

This does not imply  that Steig et al. was intentionally exaggerated, but I don’t hear enough climatologists or any Steig et al. authors coming forth to point out the hideous flaws in that report.  Acceptance of a document like that damages all climatologists credibility and those that do not recognize the problem honestly, deserve our scorn.

Here is a link to the govt document.

May you live in interesting times.

32 Responses to “The Bipolar Antarctic, Studies in Contradiction”

  1. MikeN said

    Two questions:

    Are you being sarcastic when you sy they acknowledge overweighting of the peninsula?

    Doesn’t the primary global warming theory at present say that Antarctica will not melt, and that sea level rise comes from the thermal expansion of water?

  2. Jeff Id said

    #1 I have no idea what mainstream AAGW is saying.

    There was a recent paper that said when the Antarctic melts and the crust rebounds the Earth will tilt on its axis and flood New York, Washington and California more than the rest of the world.

    That made it through review.

  3. timetochooseagain said

    I’m not aware of many ice cores with either high enough resolution or recent enough data to back up Eric’s claims. Puzzling. I’d like to see what studies he is referring to.

    Actually, the question “How does previous work ‘buck the warming trend’ yet the new work showing a high warming trend, be in agreement with previous researchers?” is easily answerable-it literally is about how it was sold-emphasizing the alarming results and the differences from previous studies. Most other studies focused on the flat or negative trends in about the last thirty years. For whatever reason (probably the more positive trends) this study focused on a longer, 50-year period.

    WCR had a good roundup comparing the results to previous studies:
    For the most part there was nothing too Earth-shattering. But that isn’t what they chose to emphasize.

  4. MikeN said

    >An interesting mention of knowledge of the overweighting of the peninsula.

    That’s not how I read their description. They are taking the Steig paper at face value.

  5. MikeN said

    By the way, I just found out about the Harry station in Antarctica. Does that have any effect on your Pac-man chart?

  6. rephelan said

    Lord knows I hate agreeing with TCO on anything, but I do think you guys need to get your analysis of the Steig et al paper published, preferably as a letter to Nature where they would have to take notice of it. You guys have been very respectful toward Dr. Steig and have given him every benefit of the doubt… but this article refuses to acknowledge your very existence. The claim of antarctic warming may not be fraudulent, but the discussion is not something I would label “honest” either.

  7. Nathan said

    Jeff, the changes in the Earths mass distribution (due to loss of ice at the south pole) will lead to more water flooding the US, nothing to do with the Earth tilting on it’s axis. It’s all about gravity you see.

    Until they publish there is no reason for anyone to take any notice of it. You can’t expect the scientific community to come and see what you’re doing on a blog.

  8. Jeff Id said

    #5 The harry station wasn’t used in the satellite reconstrucion. NicL has a different result than mine for the pac man chart which cuts the peninsula trend contribution to 1/2. In attempting to verify his result, I looked into the B matrix weightings for RegEM and found the weightings are not constant but rather vary in time. See the improved weighting post. There is one more step in the improved weighting post which requires a bit of linear algebra but in all cases the peninsula seems to be the strong contributor.

    #4 Their face value analysis includes the spread of peninsula warming through the west antarctic.

  9. Jeff Id said

    #3 timetochooseagain,

    The contradiction is not that easy to explain away. Remember Steig et al. shows warming through all time periods. Of everything going on with this paper, the fact that RC and this article are trying to explain away the new result as though it isn’t different while simultaneously declaring the difference is the strangest. Why not just say, it’s different.

    Claiming the regional issues match previous studies same doesn’t rectify the discrepancy either. They have the all of east Antarctica including the south pole (one of the only interior stations) warming rather than the measured cooling as well.

  10. timetochooseagain said

    Jeff-Well, my understanding of the gritty details is undoubtedly fuzzier than theirs.

    Nathan-A little late for that. They HAVE seen the work-scientists pay more attention to blogs than you might think. In fact, Eric and pals themselves blog at RC. So if blogs are off limits for scientific discussion-they need to know!

  11. timetochooseagain said

    Should be “than yours”.

  12. hunter said

    When the answer to everything is ‘AGW’, then the data is not really important.

  13. Antonio San said

    Jeff Id. writes: “There was a recent paper that said when the Antarctic melts and the crust rebounds the Earth will tilt on its axis and flood New York, Washington and California more than the rest of the world.

    That made it through review.”

    Jeff may I suggest this seminal important reading about the subject:

    QUATERNARY RESEARCH 9, 265-281 (1978)
    Global Changes in Postglacial Sea Level: A Numerical Calculation1
    Department of Geological Sciences, Cornell Universiiy, Ithaca, N. Y. I4853
    Department of Engineering Geoscience, University of California. Berkeley, Cal$ 94720
    Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario MjS-IA7, Canada
    Received June 28, 1977
    The sea-level rise due to ice-sheet melting since the last glacial maximum was not uniform
    everywhere because of the deformation of the Earth’s surface and its geoid by changing ice
    and water loads. A numerical model is employed to calculate global changes in relative sea level
    on a spherical viscoelastic Earth as northern hemisphere ice sheets melt and fill the ocean basins
    with meltwater. Predictions for the past 16,000 years explain a large proportion of the global
    variance in the sea-level record, particularly during the Halacene. Results indicate that the oceans
    can be divided into six zones, each of which is characterized by a specific form of the relative
    sea-level curve. In four of these zones emerged beaches are predicted, and these may form even
    at considerable distance from the ice sheets themselves. In the remaining zones submergence
    is dominant, and no emerged beaches are expected. The close agreement of these predictions
    with the data suggests that, contrary to the beliefs of many, no net change in ocean volume
    has occurred during the past 5000 years. Predictions for localities close to the ice sheets are
    the most in error, suggesting that slight modifications of the assumed melting history and/or the
    rheological model of the Earth’s interior are necessary.”

  14. Antonio San said

    As an addendum, this was published before the AGW madness and is an amazing insightful geophysics paper.

  15. MikeN said

    Jeff I read the article as thinking that all of Antarctica is warming, not just the peninsula.

  16. Kenneth Fritsch said

    When Steig references his West Antarctica ice core work he is referring to these linked sources listed below in which the authors show that the decade of 1935 to 1945 was the warmest in the 20th century. They also show a warming trend after a dip in temperatures from the 1935-1945 period but without showing significance or whether it could be compared to the reconstruction in Steig et al. (2009).

    Using the authors own data and implications for adjusting the CI limits in trends for regression residuals AR1 in the Antarctica and West Antarctica, we can show that there is no statistically significant trend from 1965 to present and that the trend in Steig is very sensitive to starting date.

    One does not need to write a paper to convince the thinking person that the Steig paper, like many that have come before with potential impacts on AGW policy, they make claims for the press to run with and at the same allow the paper’s wording to provide them with scientific deniability at a future time. One does not need to publish a paper to show to thinking people as a number of analyzers have shown here and at CA that sensitivity testing of the Steig methods and results gives a great pause to the methods applied and results obtained.

    Given the current climate of climate science, the MSM and climate policy making, I personally think that people outside the climate science community will have great difficulties getting published, the MSM recognizing the work if it were published and finally having any significant impact on current climate policy. In the meantime I think we would do well not to let the calls to publish to stand as some kind of endorsement of what gets published as the truth or refutation of analyses that are done on blogs.

    Click to access Schneider.pdf

  17. TCO said

    Ken: “I personally think that people outside the climate science community will have great difficulties getting published”

    I’ve seen the publication attempts by skeptics. They are poor and infrequent. Blog posts are much more disorganized, lack citations, etc.

    I have YET TO SEE a stellar publication that one of the skeptic crew did, that he could not get published. We ought to be able to see and reference these magnifecnt contributions that are only being retarded by “the powers that be”. But they ain’t anywhere.

    The problem is that blogger skeptics get lots of satisfaction from their blog games and won’t do the real work needed for real contributions. This is NOT to say that they never bring up interesting issues. NOT to say that all the Team peer reviewed work is good. Just to say that the blogger-skeptic-amateurs combine a contrarian stance WITH crappy publication (heck often they never even try).

    We all need to stop gigging the powers that be, when it is contrarians who choose their fate.

  18. timetochooseagain said

    TCO-I think you need badly to differentiate between those who publish all the time and those who just blog. You couldn’t, and I would hope you wouldn’t even try (I don’t want to see you look stupid-not that I’m a “compassion con” or anything) to take that shot at, say, Lindzen.

    Name names baby. Who are the amateurs? Who isn’t? If you can’t name any, you are out of the closet my friend.

  19. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I’ve seen the publication attempts by skeptics. They are poor and infrequent. Blog posts are much more disorganized, lack citations, etc.

    I think your problem TCO is that the you have trouble filtering blogging material (and using a pre-disposed filter when you do filter) and in analyzing in sufficient detail published reports and thus you have to depend more on the peer review qualifier for filtering your evidence. That’s your choice and I have no problem with you doing that – I just wish you would leave the rest of us alone.

    Analyzing papers is fun and can be informative as a bonus and I think you take it and yourself way too seriously. Or at least that is what God and I think.

  20. TCO said

    Ken: I’m tired of you analyzing me. You do a poor job AND it’s repetitive. I’ve parsed papers, chased references etc. in multiple science and social science fields. WITHOUT A DOUBT, I’m capable of looking at a science (or econ or psych) paper and seeing how much strain the submitters took to write a tight report.

    TTCA and Ken: As you would expect, the faults in blog posts carry over to submitted papers (and in EnE even published ones). The blog posting is a distractor and a “bad habit” generator.

    TTCA: Steve is an amateur at publishing. (He should not be. He’s been at this longer than a grad student takes to get a Ph.D., doing it full time, plus having the benefit of life experience and knowledge of other fields, plus a good brain. But he still sucks.) Loehle is lousy too. Watts is not even in the arena. Ross and that McCullough guy are better, and you can tell that they’ve done they’re time writing some kind of real “bricks” in the wall of archived journal literature.

    REPLY: I’ll allow this because it’s on this thread. – Really tired of dishonest trolling.

  21. Page48 said

    RE #20, TCO (otherwise known as Terrible Child Online), “WITHOUT A DOUBT, I’m capable of looking at a science (or econ or psych) paper and seeing how much strain the submitters took to write a tight report.”


  22. timetochooseagain said

    TCO-So I can assume that anyone you didn’t name is good-or the other way around? If those are the only people you even know about, you’ve barely scratched the surface my friend.

  23. timetochooseagain said

    BTW: You seem to be totally fixated on Watts, Steve, and a handful of others. That kind of obsession is unhealthy. Maybe a little time away from them is what you need.

  24. TCO said

    21. No.

    22. You ask for names and then are unhappy that you got them and then are unsure how to deal with not everyone being listed. Figure out your questions and you logic.

  25. Page48 said

    RE: #23, TTCA, “You seem to be totally fixated on Watts, Steve, and a handful of others. That kind of obsession is unhealthy. Maybe a little time away from them is what you need.”

    I think Steve M. dissed TCO in some way (I can’t imagine why – LOL) and his very sensitive feelings are hurt. I don’t know what the others did to him – real or imagined.

  26. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Ken: I’m tired of you analyzing me. You do a poor job AND it’s repetitive. I’ve parsed papers, chased references etc. in multiple science and social science fields. WITHOUT A DOUBT, I’m capable of looking at a science (or econ or psych) paper and seeing how much strain the submitters took to write a tight report.

    Oh my God, TCO is tired of being analyzed in a repetitive manner. He is the only poster that I do analyze. TCO gives his opinions on and analysis of just about every poster of note and over and over and over again – and he does not like someone doing the same to him.

    Your analyses of the papers under study here are open for all to see and judge what that portends for your capabilities – assuming we are not seeing a recent lazy streak.

    You come onto these blogs, where people gather to exchange analyses with various degrees of seriousness and detail and some come to let off steam about the political and policy issues, and then criticize participants as though you are naive as to how most blogs operate.

    I have never heard you state what it is that you are attempting to accomplish with your criticisms or how successful you think that have been or will be. I think it is the stating of these intentions that might keep you from being considered a troll. Blogs tend to take on a personality of their owner/operators and that to me adds to their enjoyment. If I had a major disagreement with the blog contend, attitude or operator, I would leave.

    Some times, TCO, you come across as though you consider yourself a mover and shaker who will turn the participants of AGW skeptic blogs into publishing machines that will somehow influence climate policy, or least reveal more truths about climate science. Yet it must be obvious to you by now that most of these bloggers do and/or read analyses of papers as an intellectual and informational pursuit that is an enjoyable and satisfying end within itself – with the added bonus that it might lead to a publication or influence climate policy.

    I find the blockheaded contrariness that you use in a rather transparent attempt that, in your view, must be thought to be keeping these insufficiently serious skeptics in line, a major waste of time and space. I cannot recall when I was informed by these attempts. Your attempts to pair your views with other posters, at least until they disavow that pairing, and use their names as an endorsement for your views gives little confidence in your capabilities to think for yourself.

  27. Page48 said

    RE: #26

    Wow, Kenneth – I guess you let him have a piece of your mind! LOL

  28. timetochooseagain said

    TCO-I’m not “unhappy” it is just that you make broad generalizations about all skeptics from apparently your experience with Steve and Anthony. In your words, DISAGGREGATE.

  29. TCO said

    Ken: I will be glad to respond to any comments that you make that have new information in them. I will let you have “last word” on repetitive comments like 26. Not meant as any kind of insult. Just want you to understand.

    TTCA: Thank you for the precision. No, denialists are not ALL alike, complete in all degrees. Yes, there are relevant general observations that can be made and making them is useful to driving understanding. If you’re unclear whether I mean EVERY NBA basketball player is tall, or that they are overwhelmingly tall, feel free to ask for clarity.

  30. timetochooseagain said

    From what I can tell, you are saying that all NBA players are tall on the basis of the two or three you know….Not necessarily wrong, but the basis is less than impressive.

  31. lweinstein said


    Scientists publish papers that claim something will happen, has happened or is thought to be a fact. The people that published claiming AGW is a problem thought that this was a suitable topic. These type of papers do not need a high degree of proof, only some general trends, and some speculation on what that means. Scientists normally do not publish a non-event. Would you publish a paper saying nothing exciting is happening? This is why the skeptics did not publish a bunch of papers on the lack of an AGW problem early on. The skeptics now are upset that misleading and incorrect publications have acquired a large degree of acceptance, and now are writing refutations. A refutation is a negative result and thus much more difficult to publish by its nature. It generally requires a much larger level of evidence than a so called positive (or speculative) result. This is the basis of the inequity of skeptic publications vs claims of AGW problems. However, the skeptic papers are starting to increase, since evidence is now approaching overwhelming that the AGW problem is wrong.

  32. Jeff Id said

    TCO, got mad and quit blogging here. About a month ago his posts naturally went to the spam filter from his internet habits, I found moderating his posts kept him from taking over the thread with troll spam so I figured out how to do insure moderation of him. The result was that his own posts took time to appear and that made him leave. I expect he’ll be back but we’ll see.

    I like your discussion of the history of skeptic papers above. It’s a complex subject as I believe it’s pretty hard for a scientist to get grants based on anti-agw conclusions these days and publication of an anti-agw non-rebuttal through a pro AGW peer review is also difficult. SteveM’s latest attempt is pretty clear evidence of that.

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