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Australian Climate Madness

Thursday, January 22, 2009

UPDATED: Another Antarctic scare story

This time from AAP, as reported in The Australian.
ANTARCTICA is melting - and that spells big trouble for Australia. Scientists used to think Antarctica was bucking the trend on global warming by getting cooler. Now it seems they got it wrong.

US researchers have pored over data from satellites and weather stations in the biggest ever study of the frozen continent's climate - and found it's warming after all. Scientists now estimate the melting of Antarctica's massive ice sheets will cause the world's sea levels to rise by one to two metres by the end of the century.

They then wheel out Prof Barry Brook (a favourite of these pages...):
"That's bad news if you live near the Australian coast," Prof Brook said. [Gee, really? - Ed]

"In some areas where you've currently got housing, you'd probably have to abandon those areas."

He said the sea would penetrate up to 1km inland in flat areas like South Australia's lower lakes. Large areas which don't see flooding now would get flooded by king tides. House prices for coastal areas would probably drop, Prof Brook said.

But, as usual, there is more to the story than meets the eye. It appears that the researchers used a "statistical technique" using both surface station data and satellite data to make a "new estimate" of temperature trends. How convenient (the quote "Lies, damned lies and statistics" springs to mind...).
The scientists found temperature measurements from weather stations corresponded closely with satellite data for overlapping time periods. That allowed them to use the satellite data as a guide to deduce temperatures in areas of the continent without weather stations. (source)

"Deducing" temperatures? Sounds like flakey modelling to me. And let's just look at some of the authors of the study:
  • Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann
  • Scott "Hockey Stick" Rutherford
  • Drew Shindell from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (ie. James Hansen)
And as a final irony, it claims that the successful reduction of the ozone hole over the Antarctic (another Greenie cause célèbre) will cause further warming. You just can't win, can you?

As Climate Research News so brilliantly puts it:
But wait! There is more fun to be had here - Real Climate, which includes Michael Mann, have previously said, “A cold Antarctica and Southern Ocean do not contradict our models of global warming.” You just can’t lose when playing the ‘consistent with climate models’ game can you!? Presumably, the findings of this new paper don’t contradict climate models either.

Read it here.

  • Watts Up With That cites volcanic activity as the most likely cause of any warming; and
  • Marc Morano deconstructs the whole thing very nicely over at the Inhofe EPW Press Blog
  • Climate Audit is on the case as well here
  • The Age goes into full "told-you-so" mode as it labels the report "Clear Evidence Emerges of Antarctic Warming" - not so fast...


  • from

    George E. Smith (14:18:49) :

    “” dales (11:22:25) :

    I’m not sure what you wanted above for the website so left it blank. Anyway, I’ve been reading and following this site for several months. On my Reuters News site (get it as a part of a commodity info site), an article was posted today by one of their correspondents that was titled ” Antarctica is warming, not cooling - study shows”. The author was Eric Steig of the Univ of Washington in Seattle. I’m guessing you’ve already read. Just wanted your or other’s thoughts regarding it. “”

    Well I read that Paper by Professor Eric Steig of WU. Strangely, although I am a paid up member of AAAS, I was not able to log in and download that “embargoed” paper, so I had to get it from somebody with a top secret clearance.

    So I already e-mailed Prof Steig; and first I asked him, given that the West antarctic is warming at over 0.1 deg C per decade; when does he prdict it will reach the melting point and start the global flooding by raising the sea.

    He replied that he doesn’t make such predictions; but that it would be “many many decades before melting started” My guessw as 3000 years.

    So then I aksed him how deep down in the ice do the satellite measurements observe the temperature, and how deep in the ice does his 0.1 deg C per decade propagate. He replied that the satellites only measure the very surface temperature; that ice is a very good insulator so the rise doesn’t go very deep. He said that the major heat source of that 6000 feet of ice is warmth from the earth underneath.

    In other words, a storm in a teacup. The Prof and his team used 25 years of satellite data, which can roughly cover the whole of Antarctica, and they used ground based but coastal weather station sites that date from OGY in 1957/58 to calibrate the satellite data, so they then extrapolated the coastal measured data over the whole continent.
    East Antarctica is still cooling; so no problem there, but west is warming more than East is cooling, so net warm.

    Please note that cooling is bounded by 0K or -273.15 C, while warming has no known upper limit.

    Also note that EM radiation cooling from Antarctica goes as T^4, so a net increase overall, means that Antarctica increases its pitiful contribution to the cooling of planet earth.

    So let’s hear it For a warming Antarctica.

    By the Way Prof Steig was very polite, and forthright and sounds like an OK chap to me.

    But it still sounds to me like a report that somebody found that a sheet of toilet tissue now absorbs water faster and will sink a little sooner.


    Key point from the studies author is that the warming is due to heat from the interior of the Earth - MMGW not involved.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 22, 2009 at 1:31 PM  

  • Interesting comment and useful background information on the paper - many thanks for posting!

    By Blogger Simon from Sydney, At January 22, 2009 at 1:42 PM  

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