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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Devastating Pacific Ocean warming, 10,000 years ago

A new study suggests that the Pacific ocean near Peru was two degrees warmer 10,000 years ago.[1]

The current rate of warming (as estimated by ARGO buoys in the last ten years) is 0.005C per year. So we are only 400 years away from achieving the same kind of warming the Mesopotamian Farmers did.

Of course this could be just a localized warm patch, except that an earlier study showed that waters draining out of the Pacific to the Indian Ocean were also much hotter during the same era.[2]

The present time is on the left. Graph A shows temperature proxy from Antarctic ice cores, graph B shows 0-150m depth ocean temperature in black


HockeyStick, finally updated with modern trees, collapses

You’ll be shocked that after decades of studying 800 year old tree rings, someone has finally found some trees living as long ago as 2005. These rarest-of-rare tree rings have been difficult to find, compared to the rings circa Richard III. The US government may have spent $30 billion on climate research, but that apparently wasn’t enough to find trees on SheepMountain living between the vast treeless years of 1980 to now.

I’ve always thought it spoke volumes that many tree ring proxies ended in 1980, as if we’d cut down the last tree to launch the satellites in 1979. We all know that if modern tree rings showed that 1998 was warmer than 1278, the papers would have sprung forth from Nature, been copied in double page full-fear features in New Scientist, and would  feature in the IPCC logo too.

Ponder that the MBH98 study was so widely cited, repeated, and used ad nauseum. It was instrumental in shaping the views of many policy makers, journalists, and members of the public, most of whom probably still believe it. The real message here is about the slowness of the scientific community to correct the problems in this paper.

Steve [...]

Did an ice sheet collapse 120,000 years ago pushing sea levels up to 9m higher than today?

Proving that nature can outdo anything humans have done, a new paper shows that sea-levels off Western Australia may have risen as high as 9 m above the current level during the last warm period over a hundred thousand years ago. The authors (O’Leary et al) conclude that seas were 3-4 m higher for most of the last warm period (known as the Eemian) but towards the end of the period a large sudden rise occurred. They suggest that an ice shelf collapsed in Antarctica  or Greenland or both, causing a 5m rise (17 feet).

The point of the paper was this double spiked shape of the sea level rise during the last warm interglacial known as the Eemian.

The Age interviewed O’Leary who said “he was confident that the 17-foot jump happened in less than a thousand years – how much less, he cannot be sure.”

Figure 3 j Relative sea-level curve for Western Australia. Ageomorphically defined palaeoMSL datum of C2:5m 120 kyr ago (Fig. 1c) anchors a predicted relative sea-level curve at Red Bluff, which includes a GIA signal based on the test calculation (see Methods) plus the following ESL history: ESL jumps from 0 to 3.4m [...]

The Marcott Hockey-stick: smoothing the past and getting a spike from almost no data?

The message to the world is unequivocal:

“We are heading for somewhere that is far off from anything we have seen in the past 10,000 years – it’s through the roof. In my mind, we are heading for a different planet to the one that we have been used to,” said Jeremy Shakun of Harvard University, a co-author of the study.

Source: The-world-is-hottest-it-has-been-since-the-end-of-the-ice-age–and-the-temperatures-still-rising.

There are two factors in the new Marcott paper that are major red flags. For one, there is hardly any data in the modern end of the graph. Ponder how researchers can find 5,000 year old Foraminifera deposits, but not ones from 1940? Two: they’ve smoothed the heck out of longer periods. Marcott et al clearly say there is “…essentially no variability preserved at periods shorter than 300 years…” So if there were, say, occurrences of a warming rise exactly like the last century, this graph won’t show them.

Some of the data has a resolution as poor as “500 years” and the median is 120 years. If current temperatures were averaged over 120 years (that would be 1890 to now), the last alarming spike would blend right in with the other data. Where would the average [...]

Massive Eltanin Meteor 2.5 million years ago set off mass tsunami, changed the climate?

From the file of “Things that would really be catastrophic”. Did a meteor have a role in a major shift in Earth’s Climate?

The start of the Quaternary period (2.588 million years ago, where the Pliocene became Pleistocene) coincides with evidence of a mega tsunami in the South Pacific.

The Eltanin Meteor fell into the South Pacific 2.5 million years ago setting off a (likely) tsunami that was hundreds of meters high and theoretically pushed mass material into the atmosphere which may have contributed to the cooling the globe had already started on. This meteor was hard to detect because it hit the ocean rather than the land. But researchers have pieced together evidence of the mass tsunami on continents around the pacific rim.

Figure 1. Possible effects of the Eltanin megatsunami. (A) Composite model of wave amplitudes for the South Pacific [modified after Ward and Asphaug (2002) but with a greater decay rate of wave amplitude away from the impact point; this produces lower wave amplitudes on affected coasts, more in line with recent findings but not as low as those proposed by Shuvalov and Trubetskaya (2007)]: ANT, Antarctica; AU, Australia; NZ, New Zealand; SA, South America. (B) [...]

Great Debate Part III & IV – Glikson accidentally vindicates the skeptics!

UPDATED Part IV: Andrew Glikson replies below.

I am impressed that Glikson replied politely, rose above any ad hominem or authority based arguments, and focused on the science and the evidence. This kind of exchange is exceedingly rare, and it made it well worth continuing. Links to Part I and II are at the end. Round 4 was copied from comments up to the post.

Depending on flawed models

by Joanne Nova

May 11, 2010

For a sentence, I almost think Dr Glikson gets it. Yes, it’s a quantitative question: Will we warm by half a measly degree or 3.5 degrees? It’s not about the direct CO2 effect (all of one paltry degree by itself), it’s the feedbacks—the humidity, clouds, lapse rates and other factors that amplify (or not) the initial minor effect of carbon.

Decades ago, the catastrophe-crowd made guesses about the feedbacks—but they were wrong. Instead of amplifying carbon’s effect two-fold (or more!) the feedbacks dampen it.

Dr Glikson has no reply. He makes no comment at all about Lindzen [1], Spencer[2] or Douglass[3] and their three peer reviewed, independent, empirical papers showing that the climate models are exaggerating the warming by [...]