Last week I wrote about a Russian-German temperature reconstruction from 1600 to 2000 derived from tree rings from the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia . The paper appeared in the journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, Vol. 41, No. 4, 2009, pp. 460–468, by Kononov, Friedrich and Boettger.
In response, German media outlets all hollered “RAPIDLY RISING ARCTIC TEMPERATURES!”, focussing solely on one statement that temperatures have been rising since 1990.
It’s a classic example of how a scientific study comes up with Result A, but the public ends up understanding Result Z, all thanks to sloppy and incompetent communication that exists between the two.
The press release here provides the following Kola temperature reconstruction graph for summertime temperatures:
Here it’s plain to see that the temperature reconstruction shows that Arctic temperatures in the Kola Peninsula have been rising since about 1670. This corresponds exceptionally well with Loehle’s 2007 reconstruction using 18 non-tree-ring proxies for the last 2000 years shown as follows:
Both graphics show the Little Ice Age from 1650 to 1750, at which point a warming event ensues. Then it was generally flat from 1750 to about 1920, and then followed by another rise that took place until 1950. Then Kola tree-ring proxies show a cooling up to 1990. Since 1990 warming has occurred again, but it’s a warming that is completely within the natural range of variation.
The Kola reconstruction (1) agreed with an earlier reconstruction (2) done in the area, see map below. What’s more, the Kola reconstruction (1) was compared with tree-ring reconstructions from other Arctic regions: Swedish Lapland (3), Yamal (4), and Taimyr (5).
The result of the comparison:
The reconstructed summer temperatures of the last four centuries from Lapland and the Kola and Taimyr Peninsulas are similar in that all three data series display a temperature peak in the middle of the twentieth century, followed by a cooling of one or two degrees.
Only the Yamal reconstruction differed completely, resembling the shape of a hockey stick with the blade beginning at 1900. The hockey stick is becoming an artefact of activism.
Except for the Yamal reconstruction, all tree-ring and non-tree ring reconstructions appear to agree, and so indicate no correlation between temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration.
So what could be driving temperatures then? The authors compared the tree-ring based reconstructions with historical records of sunspots (Lean et al, 1995; Lean, 2000), and say:
We found that over the whole investigated period fluctuations of summer air temperature reconstructed for the Khibiny Mountains in the central part of the Kola Peninsula have a good consistency (r >0.50) with changes of solar radiation (Fig. 10), especially for the low-frequency signal.
In the paper’s conclusion we read:
The broad similarity between this temperature construction and solar radiation indicates that solar activity is an important driver of centennial to multi-decadal trends in summer temperatures of the Kola Peninsula.
So why did all media reports holler “RAPID TEMPERATURE INCREASE IN THE ARCTIC”. Call it complete communication incompetence by the media players between science and the public.
The Kola reconstructions show no link to atmospheric CO2 concentrations. It all started with a solid scientific paper, and but then was distorted (purposely?) by a vague press release that culminated in alarmist media headlines.
Let’s call that press release incompetence-gate.