Re: [asa] Antarctica cooling

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Fri Jan 23 2009 - 15:35:17 EST

On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 7:33 AM, John Burgeson (ASA member) <> wrote:

> From the net today:
> An article in today's issue of the journal Nature argues that, in
> defiance of decades of raw temperature data showing Antarctica is
> cooling, the continent is actually warming.
> James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland
> Institute, warns about assigning too much weight to the study. You may
> quote from this statement or contact Taylor directly at
> or 941/776-5690.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> "I would be quite wary of assigning much value to this article. Raw
> temperature data and a number of studies over many years have
> determined that Antarctica is cooling. Now we have a single article,
> reliant on subjective data interpretation from well-known global
> warming alarmists, saying the opposite.

The "well known" alarmist are Michael Mann and Eric Steig who post to the
"alarmist" web site Real Climate. Here's the authors and associations of the
authors which includes others:

Eric J. Steig1<>,
David P. Schneider2<>,
Scott D. Rutherford3<>,
Michael E. Mann4<>,
Josefino C. Comiso5<>
Drew T. Shindell6<>

   1. Department of Earth and Space Sciences and Quaternary Research Center,
   University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
   2. National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado 80307, USA
   3. Department of Environmental Science, Roger Williams University,
   Bristol, Rhode Island, USA
   4. Department of Meteorology, and Earth and Environmental Systems
   Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
   16802, USA
   5. NASA Laboratory for Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences, NASA Goddard
   Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA
   6. NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Center for Climate
   Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, New York 10025, USA

Since the credentials of the authors has been challenged who is James M
Taylor? From ExxonSecrets.

In the past, Taylor has served as a legal analyst for Defenders of Property
> Rights, an intern at the Cato Institute, and a member of the Federalist
> Society.

> Taylor previously served as managing editor of CCH Incorporated's
> disability law publications, where he became a nationally known expert and
> frequent speaker on a variety of employment law topics. Prior to that he was
> a legal analyst for Defenders of Property Rights. While at Syracuse
> University College of Law, he was president of the local chapter of the
> Federalist Society and founder and editor-in-chief of the Federalist Voice.

> B.A. Dartmouth College J.D. Syracuse University

An expert on climatology. Yeah, right. Taylor continues:

> "For a long time now, Antarctic cooling has been a stone in the shoe
> of global warming alarmists. Now, conveniently, those who regularly
> blog on an alarmist Web site claim they have 'statistically smoothed'
> the data to show Antarctica is warming, even though surface
> temperature stations show a significant, long-term cooling trend.

Whoa. What the authors did was mix in satellite data with the sparse station
data. One of the interviews I heard made the following analogy: from weather
records in New York and San Francisco reconstruct the weather in Arizona.
This is one of the things I bang my head against the wall when discussing
this with Glenn. When you look at one location you cannot make a projection
for the entire planet. The denialists crow about the ice in the Netherlands
but forget that it was almost 70 last week in Colorado. The authors of the
paper use a novel technique to deal with the data sparseness. If you believe
like some that the data is simply too spare then you must conclude nothing and
not that Antarctica is cooling. It's also interesting that the denialists
went from satellites good, weather stations bad to its [pun intended] polar
opposite. I expect Glenn to post pictures of these stations and show air
conditioners near them. :-) The authors did more than just "statistically
smoothed" the data. From their paper:

We use the RegEM
> developed for sparse data infilling, to combine the occupied weather station
> data with the TIR and AWS data in separate reconstructions of the
> Antarctic temperature field. RegEM uses an iterative calculation that
> converges on reconstructed fields that are most consistent with the
> covariance information present both in the predictor data (in this case the
> weather stations) and the predictand data (the satellite observations or AWS
> data). We use an adaptation of RegEM in which only a small number, k, of
> significant eigenvectors are used10<>.
> Additionally, we use a truncated total-least-squares (TTLS) calculation30<> that
> minimizes both the vector b and the matrix A in the linear regression
> model Ax = b. (In this case A is the space-time data matrix,b is the
> principal component time series to be reconstructed and x represents the
> statistical weights.) Using RegEM with TTLS provides more robust results for
> climate field reconstruction than the ridge-regression method originally
> suggested in ref. 11<> for
> data infilling problems, when there are large differences in data
> availability between the calibration and reconstruction intervals10<>.
> For completeness, we compare results from RegEM with those from conventional
> principal-component analysis. [RDB Note: TIR is satellite data and AWS is
> automatic weather stations.]

 Taylor goes on:

> "The article appears to argue that due to incredibly bad luck, many
> temperature stations scattered throughout the continent are located in
> random, isolated pockets of cooling that defy the overall warming
> trend. The odds of this being the case are quite remote, and the
> theory is notably short on reliable evidence.

The paper nowhere makes that argument. First of all the locations are not
random and are near the coast:

However, all but two of the continuous records from weather stations are
> near the coast, providing little direct information on conditions in the
> continental interior.

In fact, they praised the reliability of the data. Note my emphasis below:

In this Letter, we use statistical climate-field-reconstruction techniques
> to obtain a 50-year-long, spatially complete estimate of monthly Antarctic
> temperature anomalies. In essence, we use the spatial covariance structure
> of the surface temperature field to guide interpolation of the sparse but
> reliable 50-year-long records of 2-m temperature from occupied weather
> stations. Although it has been suggested that such interpolation is
> unreliable owing to the distances involved1<>,
> large spatial scales are not inherently problematic if there is high spatial
> coherence, as is the case in continental Antarctica4<>
> .

Adding to the dubious nature of the study's conclusion is the authors'
> self-interest in silencing an embarrassing mountain of raw temperature data
> that contradict the authors' global warming theory.

Mountain of data my a**. Here's some of the denialist's beloved satellite
data. Channel TLT and TMT are troposphere data which should be increasing.
TTS and TLS are stratospheric channels and should be decreasing.

Globally averaged trends computed over latitudes from 82.5S to 82.5N (70S to
82.5N for channel TLT) are shown in the table below, and include data
through December, 2008:

  Start Time

  Stop Time

  # Years

Global Trend

Channel TLT




0.157 K/decade

Channel TMT




0.092 K/decade

Channel TTS




-0.029 K/decade

Channel TLS




-0.334 K/decade

> "It is funny how global warming alarmists worship at the altar of
> alleged 'consensus,' but then totally abandon the appeal to consensus
> when it is convenient to do so."

Speaking of consensus, a poll of earth scientists was done and among *all
earth scientists, 90% support the view that the earth has warmed
significantly* since 1800. And *82%* support the idea that *humans have
caused this increase*.

*Among climatologists* specifically -- those that make their careers
studying climate change -- *an astounding 97% support the idea that humans
are causing global warming*.

The most skeptical group were -- and you'll find this amusing Bergy --
petroleum geologists where only 47% supported anthropogenic global
warming. The findings appear January 19 in the publication *Eos Transactions
*, an online publication of the American Geophysical Union.

Rich Blinne
Member ASA

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Received on Fri, 23 Jan 2009 13:35:17 -0700

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