November 2004

My experiences over the past 16 years have led me to the discouraging conclusion that we are dealing with the almost insoluble interaction of an iron triangle with an iron rice bowl.

Download full lecture as PDF document.

This response to the contents of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) concerns alarmist and highly questionable conclusions about Arctic climate and its variability. There are serious problems with this statement. from ACIAs Overview:

[The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment] is the largest, most comprehensive assessment of climate change in Arctic. The Arctic is experiencing some of the most rapid and severe climate change on earth. At least half the summer sea ice in the Arctic is projected to melt by the end of this century [as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2], along with a significant portion of the Greenland Ice Sheet, as the region is projected to warm an additional 4-7C (7 to 13F) by 2100.

     We begin with ACIAs claim that the Arctic is experiencing some of the most rapid and severe climate change on earth. This statement focuses entirely on what is happening today. A more broad perspective is called for in order to accurately assess how current change stacks up against climate change in the past. Hu et al. (2000), provide the first quantitative temperature record that continuously spans the last 2000 years from Alaska. They write:

Our [surface water temperature] reconstruction at Farewell Lake indicated that although the 20th century, represented by the uppermost three samples, was among the warmest periods of the past two millennia, two earlier periods may have been comparably warm (A.D. 0-300 and A.D. 850-1200). [B]oth the pronounced temperature minimum centered at A.D. 600 and the culmination of the Little Ice Age cooling at A.D. 1700 in the Farewell Lake region coincide with extensive glacial advances in the southern coasts and the Brooks Range of Alaska. The cooling events around A.D. 600 might have also caused the demise of the Kachemak culture in the northwestern Gulf of Alaska at this time.

     In a second example, Shiyatov (2003) finds that although large displacement of the upper treeline limit (mainly populated by the Siberian larch Larix sibirica) has been detected in the region of the Polar Ural Mountains in the past 1150 years, change during the 20th century has not been particularly exceptional or alarming (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: Large displacement of the upper treeline limit in the Polar Ural Mountains region (66N-67N, 65E-66E) likely as a result of climatic and environmental conditionings. Note how although instrumental thermometers record about a 1C warming of the June-July temperature in the 20th century, the treeline limit does not suggest anything exceptional or unusual in relation to the change over the past 1150 years. [Adapted from Shiyatov, 2003]

     More broad coverage of Arctic conditions posted on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) Paleoclimatology website ( as a coarse temperature map suggest that summer temperatures in the Arctics eastern hemisphere 6000 years ago may have been 2C to 4C warmer than at present. Furthermore, Kaufman and twenty-nine co-authors (2004) find clear evidence of warmer-than-present conditions during the Holocene at 120 of 140 sites they identified across the Arctics western hemisphere (see Figure 2). They estimate that at the sixteen terrestrial sites where quantitative data are available the local Holocene Thermal Maximum summer temperatures were about 1.6 0.8C higher than the average of the 20th century.
     Kaufman et al. estimate the history of sea-ice cover in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago by examining the distribution of more than 1,000 bowhead whalebone remains and walrus bones, and conclude:
     Atlantic bowheads reached their maximum abundance in the channels of the eastern and central Arctic Archipelago from 11.5 to 8.5 ka [Before Present, BP], but were excluded from areas along northeastern Baffin Island. Pacific bowhead reached their maximum abundance in the western Arctic channels connecting to the Beaufort Sea at the same time. During that interval, whales extended into areas well beyond their present ranges, and then retreated abruptly at about 8.5 ka [BP]. The bowhead range may have expanded as sea-ice export from the Archipelago was enhanced by abundant of meltwater during the interval of rapid glacial recession. Alternatively, greater summer warmth may alone account for reduced summer sea-ice cover. Sea-salt sodium concentrations in Penny Ice Cap and the Greenland Ice Sheet are at highest levels in early Holocene ice (11.5 to 9.0 ka [BP]), consistent with minimal sea-ice cover. Bowhead whale ranges re-expanded in the middle Holocene (6-3 ka) [BP] [but] the range did not attain early Holocene extent.



Figure 2: Map of the Western Arctic. Numbered points represent the 140 sites examined by Kaufman et al. (2004). Kaufman finds evidence suggesting warmer-than-present conditions at 120 of these sites during the Holocene. [Adapted from Kaufman et al., 2004]

     These three examples clearly point toward harsher and more extreme Arctic conditions in the past and highlight how various Arctic habitats respond to rapid changes in climate and more gradual environmental changes.
     What about ACIAs second claim concerning a projected melting of half of the summer sea ice? Again a broader perspective using paleoclimatic data helps.


Figure 3: 10-year mean anomalies, relative to the 1750-2000 means, of the April (left panel) and August (right panel) sea-ice extents for the Nordic Seas. [Adapted from a conference presentation paper by Torgny Vinje of the Norwegian Polar Institute]

     Figure 3 shows the 10-year mean anomalies of the extent of sea ice around the Nordic Sea in April (spring) and August (summer) from 1750 to 2000. The time series author is Dr. Torgny Vinje of the Norwegian Polar Institute. Vinje recently remarked:

The current ice extent reduction in the European Sector of the Artic is in continuation from processes that commenced in the 18th century, prior to the main industrial epoch. It is noted that the minimum August ice extent in the 1930s [the righthand panel of Figure 3] compares with the previous minimum observed in the 1780s. The maximum temperature during the 1930s corresponds to the minimum ice extent observed in the Nordic Sea at that time. However, while extreme maximum temperature is observed during the 1990s the ice extent has not regained its 1930 extreme minimum [extension] yet.

     The portion of the April record that spans 1864 to 1998 was first published by Vinje in 2001 (with data extended back now to 1750 and shown in the lefthand panel of Figure 3). The April record shows that sea ice around this region of the North Atlantic has decreased by thirty-three percent over the latest 135 years. Vinje explains how the most likely explanation for the April sea-ice retreat is the earth recovering from the cold period of Little Ice Age (1300 to approximately 1900 AD) because there are no conceivable ties to anthropogenic greenhouse gases initiating and maintaining those sea ice extent recessions as early as 1800-1850. Vinje (2001) writes:

Nearly half of this [thirty-three percent] reduction took place before 1900, that is, before the warming of the Arctic, which took place during the first three decades of the twentieth century The time series indicates that we are in a state of continued recovery from the cooling effects of the Little Ice Age during which a maximum [April] sea-ice expansion was observed around 1800, both in the Iceland Sea and in the Barents Sea. [T]he mean annual reduction of the April ice extent is decelerating by a factor of 3 between 1880 and 1980.

     A 700- to 1000-year collection of high-resolution geochemical data collected from the Penny Ice Cap (PIC) on Baffin Island by Grumet et al. (2001) fails to reveal any exceptional sea-ice extent around this critical part of the western Arctic during the last fifty years:

The PIC record of springtime sea-ice coverage illustrates that despite warmer temperatures during the turn of the century, sea ice conditions in the Baffin Bay/Labrador Sea region, as least during the last 50 years, are within Little Ice Age variability. Our observations from the PIC record are consistent with an increase in sea-ice extent in the Baffin Bay/Labrador Sea region of the past 30 years (Chapman and Walsh 1993) and cooler surface air temperatures in this region (Hansen et al. 1996).

     Clearly, it is impossible to make credible, objective scientific claims for ACIAs alarming scenario concerning extensive melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
     Figure 4 shows one of the main reasons why ACIAs projected Arctic warming of 4C to 7C by 2100 is questionable and should be seriously challenged.


Figure 4. Temperature changes resulting from two slightly different schemes for the parameterization of its heat transfer efficiency within the atmospheric boundary layer. Note the drastic differences between them: For Greenland, a temperature discrepancy of 2C to 10C appears depending on a weaker vs. stronger heat mixing parameterization scheme. [Adapted from Viterbo et al., 1999]

     Figure 4 shows the extreme sensitivity of surface winter temperature change on local and regional scales, and the way a model represents the physics of the boundary layer the few hundred meters-thick layer of turbulent air between the surface and free troposphere. This boundary layer is critical to how heat and moisture are exchanged between the surface and the free atmosphere, especially during winter and spring over Greenland. Figure 4 shows how with a very slight change or tuning of the manner in which heat is exchanged or mixed, a models prediction of the winter surface temperature can vary as much as 2C to 10C. Such a large uncertainty raises serious questions concerning the ability of state-of-the-art climate models to make reasonable predictions of warming, let alone forecast a warming of 3C to 7C for the Arctic that could melt the Greenland Ice Sheet!
     It long has been known that the Greenland Ice Sheet probably originated about 2.4 million years ago. Geological records indicate the Greenland Ice Sheet most likely is the only Northern Hemisphere ice sheet to have survived the last Interglacial warm period of 130,000 to 115,000 years ago (roughly the Eemian warm period as identified using terrestrial records from Europe).
     Dramatic climatic and environmental changes were observed during the last interglacial around the North Atlantic region. A closed canopy of tall, mixed-hardwood forests covered much of Europe during the peak warm period. But beginning some 115,000 years ago open vegetation replaced those mixed forests in northwestern Europe.
    Despite rather extreme climatic conditions and swings during the last interglacial, the Greenland Ice Sheet failed to melt away. During the persistent warmth of the Eemian Interglacial, climatic records for the North Atlantic-Greenland region indicate no signs of a weakening or shutting down of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation. This is remarkable given the distinct possibility of excessive freshening of the North Atlantic Ocean due to enhanced rainfall and melting of Greenland coastal ice during the last interglacial warm period around 130,000 to 115,000 years ago.
     ACIAs gloom and doom perspective on Arctic climate and changes we might anticipate over the next century cannot be justified. The best available scientific evidence does not support such claims. Worse still, ACIAs proposed prescription fixing the ills by taking steps to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gases emissions is revealed to be a political posture not a legitimate scientific conclusion.
     As Professor Marcel Leroux of the University of Jean Moulin at Lyon, France, comments, The global warming scenario as asserted today is not proven. But, by reason of its moral content one must be either for or against it, a choice that is indeed a nonsense from a scientific point of view. In what domain does conviction take the place of knowledge? A reformulation of the [global warming] issue is therefore urgent, and needs to be made carefully and without complacency, strictly devoted to climatology. (p. 298 of Leroux 2003)

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) Overview Report, 2004. Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (Cambridge University Press). [available online at]

Grumet et al., 2001. Variability of sea-ice extent in Baffin Bay over the last millennium. Climatic Change, 49, 129-145.

Hu et al., 2000. Pronounced climatic variations in Alaska during the last two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98, 10552-10556.

Kaufman et al., 2004. Holocene thermal maximum in the western Arctic (0-180W). Quaternary Science Reviews, 23, 529-560.

Leroux, 2003. Global Warming: Myth or reality? Energy and Environment, 14 (nos. 2&3), 297-322.

Shiyatov, 2003. Rates of change in the upper treeline ecotone in the Polar Ural Mountains. PAGES News, 11 (no.1), 8-10.

Vinje, 2001. Anomalies and trends of sea-ice extent and atmospheric circulation in the Nordic Seas during the period 1864-1998. Journal of Climate, 14, 255-267.

Viterbo et al., 1999. The representation of soil moisture freezing and its impact on the stable boundary layer. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 125, 2401-2426.

Northeastern environmental scientist finding could improve global warming forecast models

A Northeastern University researcher today announced that he has found that the soil below oak trees exposed to elevated levels of carbon dioxide had significantly higher carbon levels than those exposed to ambient carbon levels. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that elevated carbon dioxide levels are increasing carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems and slowing the build-up of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is thought to cause global warming by trapping heat radiated by the Earth.

The research, published in the latest on-line edition of the journal Earth Interactions, represents an important advance in the global warming research. The lead author on the article, Soil C Accumulation in a White Oak CO2-Enrichment Experiment via Enhanced Root Production, is Kevin G. Harrison from the department of earth and environmental sciences at Northeastern. Contributors also include Richard J. Norby and Wilfred M. Post from the Oak Ridge National Library in Tennessee and Emily L. Chapp form the University of Hawaii.

In the study, the researchers sought to determine if the mechanism for storing carbon in soil was CO2 fertilization, the process by which plants grow better when exposed to high CO2 levels, and to investigate the extent to which CO2 fertilization could be increasing the amount of carbon stored in soil under white oak trees. The researchers studied the soil below white oak trees in the temperate zone over four growing seasons and found that the soil below trees exposed to elevated levels of CO2 had an average of 14% more carbon.

Researchers have long been puzzled by observations that show that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing more slowly than expected., said Harrison. This conundrum has hindered predictions of future carbon dioxide levels and, in turn, estimates of future global warming. By being able to demonstrate a substantial average increase in the carbon below these oak trees, we have potentially found the solution to better global warming forecasting. However, further research is needed in other ecosystems to see if they show similar responses to elevated carbon dioxide levels.

Steve Sylven at 617 373 7424

About Northeastern
Northeastern University, located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, is a world leader in practice-oriented education and recognized for its expert faculty and first-rate academic and research facilities. Northeastern integrates challenging liberal arts and professional studies with the nations largest cooperative education program. Through co-op, Northeastern undergraduates alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, giving them nearly two years of professional experience upon graduation. The majority of Northeastern graduates receive a job offer from a co-op employer. Cited for excellence three years running by U.S. News & World Report, Northeastern has quickly moved up into the top tier rankingsan impressive 30 spots in three years. In addition, Northeastern was named a top college in the northeast by the Princeton Review 2003/04. For more information, please visit

Europe Looking Beyond Kyoto Climate Change Treaty; NCPA Says Kyoto Treaty Can’t Be Improved Without Developing Nations’ Participation

Contact: Sean Tuffnell of the National Center for Policy Analysis, 800-859-1154 or

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ — Skeptics of the theory that human activity is causing global climate change now have confirmation of their argument that the Kyoto Treaty — the energy-rationing international treaty to cut greenhouse gases — was not an end point but only a modest first step, according to an expert with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). The Associated Press reports today that delegates from European countries assembling in Buenos Aires next week as part of the annul international treaty conference will begin a push to find new ways to confront the presumed climate change.

“Since it is widely recognized that Kyoto will do nothing to stem the rise of greenhouse gases, it is understandable that if you believe they are the cause of catastrophic global warming something beyond Kyoto is needed,” said NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. “The problem is the vast majority of signatory countries are unlikely to meet their Kyoto obligations, much less go beyond them.”

The Kyoto Treaty’s requirement of initial cuts in “greenhouse gas” emissions by 2012 finally comes into force in February, seven years after it was negotiated. European governments now want the annual treaty conference — Dec. 6-17 in the Argentine capital — to get down to talks on steps beyond 2012 to limit heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

That debate will go on in the corridors at Buenos Aires, while the formal meeting agenda puts a “major, major emphasis” on adapting to climate change, said the Dutch head of the treaty secretariat, Joke Waller-Hunter.

“To the extent that the next agreement contains binding commitment from fast growing developing countries, it might have a chance of garnering U.S. support and modestly reducing the rise or at least the rate of rise of CO2,” said Burnett. “Yet it is extremely unlikely that most developing countries will agree to binding commitments for themselves — in fact, most are on record rejecting them.”

Burnett concluded that in the end, “by the time any proposed reductions under a new commitment period come into effect, climate science could very well show climate change to be less of a threat than is currently believed – which would tend to undercut the need for energy restrictions.”


The NCPA is an internationally known nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute with offices in Dallas and Washington, D.C. that advocates private solutions to public policy problems. We depend on the contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations that share our mission. The NCPA accepts no government grants.

The Cooler Heads Coalition and the George C. Marshall Institute

invite you to a Congressional and Media Briefing on

+10F  –  Are the UNs Global Warming Forecasts based on Faulty Economics?


Professor David Henderson

Friday, November 19, 2004 – Noon to 1:30 PM
406, Senate Dirksen Office Building
First Street and Constitution Ave., NE
Refreshments and lunch provided – Reservations are required.

In 2001, the Third Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that the global mean temperature would be between 2.5 and 10.4o higher by 2100. This range of predictions was based on a wide variety of scenarios of future world population, economic growth, energy use, and technological change. These scenarios were used to calculate future levels of greenhouse gas emissions, which were then fed into sophisticated computer models of the Earths climate system. David Henderson and Ian Castles have produced a powerful critique of the economic assumptions used in the IPCCs scenarios. Professor Henderson will discuss whats wrong with the economic methodology used by the IPCC and why even the low-end scenarios overstate likely future emissions. He will also discuss the IPCCs unwillingness to adopt accepted international economic methods and practices in preparing its Fourth Assessment Report.

Professor David Henderson is currently Visiting Professor at the Westminster Business School in London. He was chief economist at the OECD in Paris from 1984 to 1992, has held senior positions at the World Bank and the British government and was professor of economics at Oxford University. Among Professor Henderson’s many publications are Misguided Virtue, Anti-Liberalism 2000, The Changing Fortunes of Economic Liberalism, and Innocence and Design: the Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (the BBC’s Reith Lectures in 1985).

Please RSVP by e-mail toinfo@marshall.orgor by calling 202.296.9655.





Norman Baker


Mr Peter Ainsworth


Mr David Chaytor


Mr Simon Thomas


Sue Doughty


Alan Simpson






Mrs Helen Clark



   That this House deplores in the strongest possible terms the unfounded and insulting criticism of Sir David King, the Government’s Chief Scientist, by Myron Ebell, an adviser to US President George W. Bush, on climate change; notes that Mr. Ebell is Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, an organisation funded by, amongst others, ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute; fervently hopes that Mr. Ebell’s comments do not represent official US policy; congratulates Sir David King on the work he has done to raise the issue of global warming both at home and abroad; believes that the planet cannot afford another four years of inaction and denial from the US Administration; and calls on the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to do everything possible to get President Bush to accept the need to take climate change seriously and ensure the US plays its part internationally in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Today 11 climate experts sent a letter (please see below) to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who is the Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee and is holding a full committee hearing this morning to hear testimony on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA).

In the letter, the climate experts respond to statements made in the ACIA that temperature changes in the Arctic provide an early indication of global warming. The signers of the letter point out that sediment and ice core samples show that the arctic has experienced past warming that can not be attributed to greenhouse gas concentrations. There is also a history of strong year-to-year variability of Arctic temperatures. The letter also calls for the need for advances in Arctic climate science in both models and measurements in order to assess a more complete picture of Arctic climate understanding.

The following climate experts signed the letter: R. Tim Patterson, PhD, Professor of Geology at Carleton University; Tim Ball, PhD, Retired – Professor of Climatology at University of Winnipeg; Anthony Lupo, PhD, Professor of Atmospheric Science at University of Missouri – Columbia; David Legates, PhD, Associate Professor in Climatology at University of Delaware; Pat Michaels, PhD, Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia; George Taylor, M.S. Meteorology; Gary D. Sharp, PhD Scientific Director, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study; Roy W. Spencer, PhD Principal Research Scientists, The University of Alabama in Huntsville; Jon Reisman, Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy; University of Maine at Machias/ Maine Public Policy Institute Scholar, Willie Soon, PhD, Science Director, Tech Central Station and Sallie Baliunas, PhD, Enviro- Science Editor, Tech Central Station.

    November 16, 2004
The Honorable John McCain
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator McCain:

As you know, climate varies in the Arctic more than globally-averaged measures reveal, prompting not inconsiderable ecosystem responses.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report by the Arctic Council documents significant ecosystem response to surface temperature warming trends that occurred in some areas since the mid-19th century and in the last thirty years.

Estimates of the amount of surface warming trends over those periods and their causes relies on scientific knowledge of natural and anthropogenic effects, the latter including landscape modification, urbanization, plus the air’s concentration of aerosols and greenhouse gases. Moreover, Arctic climate varies dramatically from one region to another, and over time in ways that cannot be accurately reproduced by climate models. The quantitative impacts of natural and anthropogenic factors remain highly uncertain, especially for a region as complex as the Arctic.

For example, for Greenland’s instrumental surface temperatures a team of experts headed at Los Alamos National Laboratory recently found:

     Since 1940, however, the Greenland coastal stations data have undergone
predominantly a cooling trend. At the summit of the Greenland ice sheet,
the summer average temperature has decreased at the rate of 2.2 degrees C
per decade since the beginning of the measurements in 1987. This suggests
that the Greenland ice sheet and coastal regions are not following the
current global warming trend.(1)

Analysis of ice corings of the Penny Ice Cap on Baffin Island show that the recent warming trend is unexceptional compared to natural variability in centuries past, when the enhanced greenhouse effect cannot have had much impact:

     Our sea-salt record suggests that, while the turn of the [21st] century

was characterized by generally milder sea-ice conditions in Baffin Bay,
the last few decades of sea-ice extent lie within Little Ice Age
variability and correspond to instrumental records of lower temperatures
in the Eastern Canadian Arctic over the past three decades.(2)

From a detailed study of sea core sediment from the last 10,000 years in the Chukchi Sea, researchers concluded that, “in the recent past, the western Arctic Ocean was much warmer than it is today.” They also found that “during the middle Holocene [approximately 6,000 years ago] the August sea surface temperature fluctuated by 5 degrees C and was 3-7 degrees C warmer than it is today,”(3)

The relatively recent discovery of the PDO, or Pacific Decadal Oscillation,(4) points to a strong natural component of the recent warming trend. Researchers noted in 1997:

     Our results add support to those of previous studies suggesting that the
climatic regime shift of the late 1970’s is not unique in the century-
long instrumental climate record, nor in the record of North Pacific
salmon production. In fact, we find that signatures of a recurring
pattern of interdecadal climate variability are widespread and detectable
in a variety of Pacific basin climate and ecological systems. This
climate pattern — hereafter referred to as the Pacific (inter)Decadal
Oscillation, or PDO (following co-author S.R.H.’s suggestion) — is a
pan-Pacific phenomenon that also includes interdecadal climate
variability in the tropical Pacific.

The Great Pacific Climate Shift of 1976-1977 is typical in the documented pattern of natural climate fluctuations going back at least several centuries. In Alaska in particular, although the onset of the 1976-1977 shift ended the several-decades-long period of cold in the middle of the 20th century recorded by many of Alaska’s good weather station records, it returned temperatures to warmth seen in the early decades of the 20th century. Thus, it is unsurprising that Alaskan ecosystems have responded to recent warmth, which has the characteristic step-upward shape of the PDO, but not the gradual but large warming trend implied by the enhanced greenhouse effect.

The PDO may have shifted back in 1998-99 to its mid-20th century state, which would tend to deliver sharply cooler temperatures in the next several decades to the western U.S., including western and southern Alaska. For example, scientists from British Columbia’s Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans and Oregon State University’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences found recent cooling of the North Pacific:

     Subsurface upper ocean waters off Oregon and Vancouver Island were about
1 degree C cooler in July 2002 than in July 2001. The anomalously cool
layer coincides with the permanent halocline which has salinities 32.2 to
33.8, suggesting an invasion of nutrient-rich Subarctic waters. The
anomalously cool layer lies at 30-150 m.(5)

Surface air temperatures (SAT) going back 125 years were studied from “newly available long-term Russian observations of SAT from coastal stations, and sea-ice extent and fast-ice thickness from the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chuckchi seas.”(6) Those researchers found “strong intrinsic variability, dominated by multi-decadal fluctuations with a timescale of 60-80 years.” Comparing those measures of Arctic regional variability to that of computer simulations, the researchers concluded that observations do “not support amplified warming in Polar Regions predicted by GCMs [General Circulation Models].”

A comprehensive study of Arctic temperature records(7) found that “in the Arctic in the period 1951-90, no tangible manifestations of the greenhouse effect can be identified.” However, strong year-to-year variability is present, as the researcher notes that “a more recent analysis of mean seasonal and annual air-temperature trends in the Arctic (Przybylak, in press) shows that in the mid-1990s there occurred quite a large rise in air temperature,” and as a consequence, “the areally averaged annual air temperature for the whole Arctic for the last 5 year period of the 20th century was the warmest since 1950 (1.0 degree C above the 1951-90 average).”

Those examples demonstrate that Arctic climate has and will continue to exhibit intricate patterns not reliably reproduced by global climate simulations, thus underscoring their scientific incompleteness and need for advances in Arctic climate science, in measurements, theory and models.

The history of the Arctic and its ecosystems remains complex, a fact too often perceived by reporters under deadline or extremists as irrelevant nuance. Ecosystems and humans survived the warming at the beginning of the 20th century, as they survived the warmth from A.D. 900 to 1200, when Thule people migrated from Alaska across the Arctic while Vikings farmed in Greenland soil now permafrost and sailed in Arctic waters now permanent pack ice. They survived the warming of the last 15,000 years as earth emerged from the last glacial period, whose termination produced much more radical temperature shocks than those observed in the last several decades.

As Professor Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IPCC author concluded in testimony before your May 1, 2001 Commerce Committee hearing:

     The question of where do we go from here is an obvious and important one.
From my provincial perspective, an important priority should be given to
figuring out how to support and encourage science (and basic science
underlying climate in particular) while removing incentives to promote
alarmism. The benefits of leaving future generations a better
understanding of nature would far outweigh the benefits (if any) of ill
thought out attempts to regulate nature in the absence of such
We appreciate your efforts to support scientific fact-finding concerning responses of Arctic ecosystems to climate variability. 
R. Tim Patterson, PhD
Professor of Geology
Carleton University
    Tim Ball, PhD
Retired – Professor of Climatology
University of Winnipeg
    Anthony Lupo, PhD
Professor of Atmospheric Science
University of Missouri – Columbia
    David Legates, PhD
Associate Professor in Climatology
University of Delaware
    Pat Michaels, PhD
Professor of Environmental Sciences
University of Virginia
Virginia State Climatologist
    George Taylor, M.S. Meteorology
Oregon State Climatologist
    Gary D. Sharp, PhD
Scientific Director
Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study
    Roy W. Spencer, PhD
Principal Research Scientists
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
    Jon Reisman
Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy
University of Maine at Machias/ Maine Public Policy Institute Scholar
    Willie Soon, PhD
Science Director, Tech Central Station
    Sallie Baliunas, PhD
Enviro-Science Editor Tech Central Station
    (1) P. Chylek, J.E. Box and G. Lesins 2004 Global warming and the
Greenland ice sheet, Climatic Change 63 201-221
    (2) N. S. Grumet, C.P. Wake, P.A. Mayewski, G.A. Zielinski, S.I. Whitlow,
R.M. Koerner, D.A. Fisher, and J.M. Woollett, 2001, Variability of
sea-ice extent in Baffin Bay over the last millennium, Climatic
Change,49, 129-145
    (3) D. Darby, J. Bischof, G. Cutter, A. de Vernal, C. Hillaire-Marcel, G.
Dwyer, J. McManus, L. Osterman, L. Polyak and R. Poore 2001, New
record shows pronounced changes in Arctic Ocean circulation and
climate. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 82, 601 and
    (4) N. J. Mantua, S. R. Hare, Y. Zhang, J. M. Wallace and R. C. Francis
1997, A Pacific interdecadal climate oscillation with impacts on
salmon production Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 78,
    (5) H. J. Freelnad, G. Gatien, A. Huyer,  and R. L. Smith 2003, Cold
halocline in the northern California Current: An invasion of subarctic
water. Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2002GL016663.
    (6) I. V. Polyakov, G.V. Alekseev, R.V. Bekryaev,U.  Bhatt, R.L. Colony,
M. A. Johnson, V.P. Karklin, A.P. Makshtas, D. Walsh, A. V. Yulin
2002, Observationally based assessment of polar amplification of
global warming. Geophysical Research Letters 29:
    (7) R. Przybylak  2002,  Changes in seasonal and annual high-frequency air
temperature variability in the Arctic from 1951-1990, International
Journal of Climatology 22, 1017-1032

On the occasion of yet another congressional hearing featuring alarmist predictions of future climate disaster, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has released a study on the state of the global warming debate. Today Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-AZ) will hold a hearing on the misleading and unbalanced Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report. CEI’s study, Launching the Counter-Offensive: A Sensible Sense of Congress Resolution on Climate Change, by Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis, Jr., refutes many of the faulty assumptions from the Impact Assessment and similar climate studies.


The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, despite its recent release, has already generated analysis pointing out numerous flaws and distortions.  Widely accepted data records show Arctic temperatures that are roughly the same as in the 1930s and part of a slight cooling trend over the last few thousands years, and that the Greenland ice sheet is also cooling, all in opposition to the unsourced data sets contained in the Assessment.


Launching the Counteroffensive takes on the misleading Arctic scenarios: As for the Arctic Sea, satellite photos show that ice cover has contracted since 1979, a period when the region warmed. However, the Arctic has not warmed faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, contrary to what we would expect if the polar warming were due to an intensification of the greenhouse effect, writes Lewis. Moreover, the Arctic was warmer during the late 1930s and early 1940s, before the rapid rise in CO2 levels, than it is today. For all we knowsatellite photography did not exist 65 years agothe Arctic then looked pretty much as it does now.


In order to generate the predictions of massive dislocation and disaster in the Arctic, the authors of the Impact Assessment had to use warming scenarios from a previous report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes Third Assessment Report which scientists and economists consider extreme and among the least likely to actually come to pass.  Even the evidence for one of its most widely cited predictions, that polar bears may become extinct due to regional warming, is actually consistent with a larger population of bears competing for a naturally limited food supply.

MSU1278-1004.gif (23586 bytes) As determined by NOAA Satellite-mounted MSUs
Information from
Global Hydrology and Climate Center,
University of Alabama – Huntsville, USA
The data from which the graph is derived can be downloaded

Global Mean Temperature Variance From Average,
Lower Troposphere,
October 2004: +0.239C

(Northern Hemisphere: +0.246C , Southern Hemisphere: +0.232C )
Peak recorded: +0.746C April 1998.
Current change relative to peak recorded: -0.507C

GISS1278-1004.gif (28491 bytes) GISTEMP Anomaly October 2004 +0.73C .
Peak recorded: +0.97C February 1998.
Current change relative to peak recorded: -0.24C

Discrepancy between GHCC MSU & GISTEMP October 2004: 0.491C

Best estimate for absolute global mean for 1951-1980 is 14C (57.2F)
Estimated absolute global mean October 2004 14.73C (58.51F)

CompareDatasets.gif (26406 bytes) Datasets – what’s the diff?

The question often arises as to why we are so particular about specifying datasets, skeptical of some while more tolerant of others – perhaps this will help. Plotted on the graph linked via the adjacent thumbnail are four temperature anomaly tracks: GISTEMP near-surface; MSU lower-troposphere (a.k.a. “satellite”) – both as noted and linked above; Radiosonde “balloon” 850-300 mb (approx 1,000-10,000mtrs) from J. K. Angell, NOAA Air Resources Laboratory, September 2004 and; NCDC Sea Surface Temps. NOTE THAT THESE TRACKS HAVE BEEN ‘COMMUNIZED’ (ADJUSTED TO ZERO AS A BASELINE 1979).

Supplemental Nov. 15: Click here for an alternate representation showing trend lines – note well that the trend lines are also zero-anchored.

Because you asked (repeatedly): ‘Communized’ I wrote and ‘communized’ I meant – as in: “To subject to public ownership or control.” Why? Because each dataset has been subjected to central planning and arbitrarily adjusted to meet a zero commencement value beginning 1979. Without mentioning any names (to protect mono-browed conspiracy theorists), no, so-adjusting entire series does not alter the trend demonstrated in any given series – click here for a chart of the original and adjusted GISTEMP annual means with [gasp!] parallel trend lines.

For individual (unadjusted) tracks and trends, beginning with the well-mixed atmosphere where enhanced greenhouse should theoretically manifest itself, click here: Radiosonde Balloon; Microwave Sounding Unit; Sea Surface Temp.; GISTEMP Near-Surface. Ed. Nov. 15

While all these techniques of ‘taking the Earth’s temperature’ are in rough synch the anomalies are common only during El Nio-driven temperature peaks (most obvious in 1998). Most reactive (and least far from its 1958-1977 average baseline) is the radiosonde track, our physical measure of the well-mixed atmosphere at +0.11C – not global but dispersed and less subject to local corrupting influences than are near-surface measures. In ascending order of anomaly we have the MSU track, with near-global coverage it indicates approximately +0.01C/year increment (+0.248C from 20 year average over 25 years) and is least subject local disturbances. Then we have the sea surface measures at +0.3C – useful for short-term meteorology but quite subject to varied wind influences (rapid diurnal warming at surface when becalmed, evaporative cooling… and all at very shallow depths (millimeters) – current satellite-mounted infrared sensors do give coarse information suitable for weather forecasting but are little better than the old ‘bucket over the side and dunk the thermometer’ data gathering of 50 years ago. At the top of the anomaly range and galloping away from the field we have the near-surface amalgam indicating +0.506C (from 1951-1980 mean). That these sets measure anomalies from different baselines is irrelevant since we are only interested in the cumulative variance since 1979.

So, four datasets, four different answers, although all in the positive range. Our two measures of the well-mixed atmosphere indicate some warming, which could lead to as much as +1C temperature increment over a century if the trend were to continue (not very worrying). While a little rudimentary and not well suited to measuring subtle climatic trends the sea surface temps roughly concur with the MSU set. And then we have our anomalous near-surface set, beset by problems of increasing urbanization of data collection, urban heat island effect and a growing disparity with data collected with the other measuring techniques indicating an increasing rate of warming.

Is the world heating unnaturally? Depends on which data you look at and what weight you give it, doesn’t it? We highlight the MSU data because we believe it the most reliable.

It’s not often that a Washington lobbyist gets to be the focus of a censure motion in the British House of Commons, but anti-global warming lobbyist Myron Ebell managed that trick earlier this month.

Seems Ebell, interviewed Nov. 3 on BBC Radio, said: “We have people who know nothing about climate science, like Sir David King, your chief scientific adviser, who are alarmist and continually promote this ridiculous claim. Sir David has no expertise in climate science.”

One newspaper reported the shot and described Ebell, who works for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, as “one of President George Bush‘s top climate change advisers.”

Next thing you know there’s a censure move in the House of Commons, saying it “deplores in the strongest possible terms the unfounded and insulting criticism of Sir David King, the Government’s Chief Scientist, by Myron Ebell, an adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush, on climate change; notes that Mr. Ebell is Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, an organization funded by, amongst others, ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute; fervently hopes that Mr. Ebell’s comments do not represent official U.S. policy.”

Well, not precisely.