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Scientists, Data Challenge New Antarctic ‘Warming’ Study

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Friday, Jan 23, 2009

‘It is hard to make data where none exist’

Comprehensive Data Round Up Debunks New Antarctic ‘Estimate of Temperature Trends’

Washington, DC: A new study on Antarctic temperatures – which is contrary to the findings of multiple previous studies – claims “that since 1957, the annual temperature for the entire continent of Antarctica has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, but still is 50 degrees below zero.”

Despite the fact that the study was immediately viewed with major skepticism by scientists who are not skeptical of anthropogenic global warming claims, many in the media pounced on the study as a chance to attack those skeptical of man-made climate doom. According to the release of the study, “The researchers devised a statistical technique that uses data from satellites and from Antarctic weather stations to make a new estimate of temperature trends. […] The scientists found temperature measurements from weather stations corresponded closely with satellite data for overlapping time periods. That allowed them to use the satellite data as a guide to deduce temperatures in areas of the continent without weather stations.” (emphasis added)

Few media outlets noted that in 2007 Antarctic “sea ice coverage has grown to record levels since satellite monitoring began in the 1979, according to peer-reviewed studies and scientists who study the area.” [See also other factors impacting Antarctica: “Volcano, Not Global Warming Effects, May be Melting an Antarctic Glacier & The Antarctic deep sea gets COLDER – April 21, 2008 & A January 12, 2008, peer-reviewed paper in AGU (American Geophysical Union) found “A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850.” Map of VolcanoesSee comprehensive data round up below]

The new Antarctic study was published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature and the lead author of the study was Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and Space Sciences. Other co-authors include: David Schneider of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, a former student of Steig’s; Scott Rutherford of Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI; and Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University.


  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

UN IPCC lead author, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, who is not in any way a climate change skeptic, said of the study, “I remain somewhat skeptical… It is hard to make data where none exist.” Echoing Trenberth’s analysis were several other scientists.


Climatologist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville questioned the study. “One must be very cautious with such results because they have no real way to be validated,” Christy told the AP. “In other words, we will never know what the temperature was over the very large missing areas that this technique attempts to fill in so that it can be tested back through time,” Christy added.


Former Colorado State Climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., senior scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder said the authors of the Antarctic study “overstated” their results. “In terms of the significance of their paper, it overstates what they have obtained from their analysis,” Pielke told the AP. “In the abstract they write, for example, ‘West Antarctic warming exceeds 0.1C per decade over the past 50 years.’ However, even a cursory view of Figure 2 shows that since the late 1990s, the region has been cooling in their analysis in this region. The paper would be more balanced if they presented this result, even if they cannot explain why,” Pielke wrote. Pielke also questioned how the authors “reconcile the conclusions in their paper with the cooler than average long term sea surface temperature anomalies off of the coast of Antarctica.” Pielke added, “These cool anomalies have been there for at least several years. This cool region is also undoubtedly related to the above average Antarctic sea ice areal coverage that has been monitored over recent years.”


A critical analysis of the paper from December 21, 2008, accused the authors of the Antarctic study of making questionable data “adjustments.” (See: Scientist adjusts data — presto, Antarctic cooling disappears – December 21, 2008) The analysis concluded, “Looks like [study author] Steig ‘got rid of’ Antarctic cooling the same way [Michael] Mann got rid of medieval warming. Why not just look at the station data instead of ‘adjusting’ it (graph above)? It shows a 50-year cooling trend,” the analysis concluded.

Alarmists Play Both Sides

The BBC’s Richard Black filed a report on the new study that included this claim: “’It’s hard to think of any situation where increased greenhouse gases would not lead to warming in Antarctica,’ said Drew Shindell from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.”

Sadly, Black of the BBC does not report that the promoters of man-made global warming fears had already concocted explanations for the failure of Antarctica to warm as models predicted. [See: Antarctic temperatures disagree with climate model predictions – February 15, 2007 ]

The warming partisans at RealClimate.org have claimed that a cooling Antarctica is just what the models predict! “A cold Antarctica is just what calculations predict,” stated a February 12, 2008, post on Real Climate titled “Antarctica is Cold? Yeah, We Knew That.” The website claimed “Despite the recent announcement that the discharge from some Antarctic glaciers is accelerating, we often hear people remarking that parts of Antarctica are getting colder, and indeed the ice pack in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica has actually been getting bigger. Doesn’t this contradict the calculations that greenhouse gases are warming the globe? Not at all, because a cold Antarctica is just what calculations predict… and have predicted for the past quarter century.”


So which is it? Models predict Antarctic cooling or do they predict warming? If Antarctica is now allegedly warming, why didn’t the models predict that? The spin by Michael Mann of RealClimate.org and the media on this study is stunning.

Full article here

This article was posted: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:52 am

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