JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Glaciers on the move: Two minutes of extreme climate change on Swiss Alps, Italian beaches

The next ice coming to Europe might look something like the last ice age shown in this simulation. A time when Venice will be top of a long paddock that stretches to Albania.

In school children are taught to hyperventilate about the last 30m retreat of glaciers that never stayed put ever.

Instead, they could be studying this… (click to start)

At the 24,000 year BC point glaciers have wiped out Zurich, Bern, Geneva.

Image the effect on people if this were shown everytime a Swiss Alps disaster story was run?

OK, so it is a model

Advance and retreat of the Alpine glaciers during the last glacial cycle from Julien Seguinot on Vimeo.

About 25000 years ago, Alpine Glaciers filled most of the valleys and even extended onto the plains. Using a computer model that contains knowledge on glacier physics based on modern observations of Greenland and Antarctica and laboratory experiments on ice, help from traces left by glaciers on the landscape, and one of the fastest computers in the world, this animation is an attempt to reconstruct of the evolution of Alpine Glaciers in time from 120000 years ago to today.

Meanwhile, WWF [...]

Fossils show models can’t predict how climate affects animals

Fossils show those dang mammals lived in all the spots they weren’t supposed to live in. Climate models don’t predict the climate, and animal distribution models don’t predict (or in this case hindcast) animal distribution either. How little we know, and how adaptable is biology?

This calls into question all the headline prophecies about the extinction of cute furry critters due to climate change.

The modelers were sure that animals would be unable to cope with temperature changes and would not have lived in the same places as they do now during a climate so different. By crikey, it was an ice age!  Yet those small mammals, whose defining biology is that regulate their own temperature, flummoxed the models by living nearer the glacier sheets where the models predicted they would not live.

All the alarming forecasts of local extinctions of mammals come from assumptions built into modern models that fail in multiple ways. The temperature changes from the last 20,000 years show that these mammals have already survived massive shifts, both colder and warmer, and that anything we face in the next century is but a flea on a hippo.

In the graph, the dots are the fossils, the [...]