If you can’t find any real warming on the planet (which scientists haven’t been able to do now for 15 years), then you have to make up something that looks like warming, i.e. create dummy warming. This is precisely the case with a new paper on Western Antarctica.
Western Antarctica warms more quickly than thought – however, hardly at all in the last 25 years
By Dr Sebastian Lüning and Prof Fritz Vahrenholt
(Translated/edited by P Gosselin)
We recently got some hot news from Antarctica. According to a study by a team led by David Bromwich of Ohio State University in Columbus, which appeared just before Christmas 2012 in Nature Geoscience, Western Antarctica warmed up more quickly than first thought. This of course pleased alarmist newspapers like the online Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), who without hesitation wrote:
With a temperature increase of 2.4°C since 1958, the central region of Western Antarctica is among the regions that are warming up the fastest on the planet. […] There the temperature is rising three times faster than the global average.”
Now that really stirs up fear. Global warming is apparently advancing rapidly in Western Antarctica and temperatures are climbing and climbing. This is taking place year after year, and so it is only a matter of time before the catastrophe strikes. To underpin this claim, the Süddeutsche Zeitung presents a temperature curve of Western Antarctica going back 55 years (Figure 1…in the SZ article it is necessary to click on the figure to see the curve). An enormous temperature jump is obvious beginning in the year 2000, as the temperature skyrockted. With another jump like that, the ice in Western Antarctica would never survive, one might think.
Figure 1: January temperatures of Western Antarctica. Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23 Dec 2012.
But wait. When it comes the the Süddeutsche Zeitung one has to be a little careful. It has long been known that the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) is cozily cuddled together with climate alarmism (e.g. see our blog article“Schlimmer als befürchtet: Die Süddeutsche Zeitung verliert den klimawissenschaftlichen Boden unter den Füßen“ (Worse than we feared: The Süddeutsche Zeitung loses its scientific bearings). So let’s take a closer look.
Unfortunately we quickly discover mischief. The temperature curve for January readings used in the SZ does not even get mentioned or appear in the quoted paper. The warming value named by David Bromwich and colleagues has much more to do with the annual average temperature of the Western Antarctica, and whose curve is of course depicted in the paper (red curve in Figure 2). This curve, however, shows a completely different course than the one used by the SZ. Do you see it?
Crivens! In the last 25 years the West Antarctic has not gotten warmer! If anything, the temperature has remained flat. It is indeed quite a stretch to claim that Western Antarctica is among the most rapidly warming areas on the planet.
Over the last two decades temperatures in the region have gone nowhere.
Figure 2: Temperature development at Byrd-Station in Western Antarctica. Source: Realclimate.
And now if you look a little closer, you see that the warming is mainly concentrated in the period of approx. 1962-1980. Did mankind produce an extraordinary amount of CO2 during that particular period? No. The Co2 emissions were nothing different from what we had at other times. What is remarkable, however, is that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) during this time went from a negative cool phase to a positive warm phase (Figure 3). It cannot be ruled out that this nearby climatic oceanic phenomenon may have had something significant to do with the Western Antarctic 2.4°C warming until 1980 mentioned in the paper. Moreover, there is also the warming due to the increase in solar activity and atmospheric CO2 concentration. The 2.4°C can be divided up into natural (ocean cycles and sun) and anthropogenic share (CO2, soot, etc.). The SZ could have mentioned that.
Figure 3: Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) over the last 110 years.
Unfortunately the SZ reader is left alone with only the context of the article. According to new ICEsat satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet as a whole has increased in mass over the last years (see our blog article on this). The much larger Eastern Antarctica dominates, and that area has gotten colder over the last years. Also Antarctic sea ice reached a record high extent just a few months ago for the 30-year satellite era. Not a peep about both of these stories from the Munich-based SZ.
It also would have been nice if the SZ had provided its readers another important piece of background information: Unexpected but true: the post Ice Age temperatures at the Antarctic Penninsula were at today’s levels for 7000 years (also see our blog article on this here). With this background, the temperature development of the last 55 years discussed by the SZ loses considerable relevance. And it was also a pity for the SZ that David Bromwich and his team dumped cold water on their results for sea level rise. With gnashing teeth, the SZ had no alternative but to report:
Because at the high elevation Byrd-Region mean temperatures of -10°C prevail in the summertime, the warming does not lead directly to large-scale melting, say the scientists.”
It is quite amazing that the SZ creates almost only dramatic climate stories. Sober, non-alartmist reports just don’t seem to be of any interest for SZ editors. There’s plenty of non-alarmist material out there. At our blog we present new scientific results almost daily. We welcome editors at SZ to help themselves to it..
Hat-tip to: Wolfhard Herzog.