In an article titled, “Five Reasons the Planet May Not Be Its Hottest Ever,” FoxNews.com sought to debunk the fact that Earth has warmed over the past 30 years, as well as the notion that human activity has contributed to the warming. But Fox largely ignored climate science and botched basic facts in the article, portions of which “are utter nonsense” and “do not make sense” according to climatologists consulted by Media Matters, including one of the skeptics cited by Fox.
Fox Reports That Climatologist Roy Spencer “Takes Issue” With Data Adjustments
FoxNews.com: Roy Spencer “Takes Issue With The Way That Data Is Normalized And Adjusted.” The FoxNews.com article did not provide any information about Spencer's concerns but reported in a section sowing doubts about the temperature data: “Satellite data is arguably the most accurate way to measure temperature. Roy Spencer, a climatologist and former NASA scientist, takes issue with the way that data is normalized and adjusted, instead presenting raw, unadjusted data on his website. The WMO does not use this data." [FoxNews.com, 1/24/11]
Spencer Says Fox's Reporting On Him “Does Not Make Sense”
Spencer: The Part That Mentions Me ... Does Not Make Sense." Media Matters asked Spencer via email to explain the “issue” Fox claimed he had with “the way that data is normalized and adjusted.” In response, Spencer wrote that he “wasn't aware” of the FoxNews.com report. He further stated that he “read the part that mentions me, and it does not make sense.” [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]
Spencer: “No One I Know Seriously Debates That Warming Has Actually Occurred.” Spencer, who contends that the warming trend is natural rather than manmade, further told Media Matters via email, “I love FoxNews, but this was a little sloppy.” He added: “We have differing opinions on the cause of warming...no one I know seriously debates that warming has actually occurred...so... ....I think whether 2010 was a record or not is not terrible relevant to the debate” [Ellipses in original]. [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]
Spencer's Data Is Not “Unadjusted.” Spencer's website reports the “UAH [University of Alabama in Huntsville] Globally Averaged Satellite-Based Temperature of the Lower Atmosphere” and states that the datasets “represent the piecing together of the temperature data from a total of eleven instruments flying on eleven different satellites over the years.” [DrRoySpencer.com, accessed 1/25/11]
- Contrary to Fox's claim that Spencer presents “raw, unadjusted data on his website,” Spencer explained via email that "[t]he raw satellite data DO need to be adjusted, and I post on my website (drroyspencer.com) monthly updates AFTER John Christy and I have performed those adjustments. [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]
- Spencer's website also explains how UAH adjusts and corrects the raw satellite data. [DrRoySpencer.com, 1/6/10]
Spencer Himself Reported That 2010 Was Tied As Warmest Year On Record. Spencer and John Christy, both of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, reported that according to their data, “2010 finished in a photo finish with 1998 for the warmest year in the 32-year satellite temperature record.” They further noted that "[b]oth 1998 and 2010 were years in which an El Nino Pacific Ocean warming event raised temperatures around the globe." [Newswise.com, 1/18/11]
- USA Today also reported:
In a separate global temperature report released last week, 2010 finished in a tie with 1998 for the warmest year in the 32-year satellite temperature record, according to John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH).
Unlike the climate center's surface-based temperatures, UAH's data are based on instruments aboard satellites from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about 5 miles above sea level.
The satellite data show that the globe continues to warm unevenly. Warming increases as you go north: The Arctic Ocean has warmed an average of almost 3 degrees in the past 32 years. [USA Today, 1/13/11]
Fox Pushes Claim That El Nino Is Causing Global Warming
FoxNews.com: Joe Bastardi Says El Nino Caused Warming Of Past 30 Years. From the FoxNews.com article:
Of course temperatures are up, said Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist with Accuweather: It's El Niño, stupid.
“El Niños cause spikes up. La Niñas drop it down,” Bastardi told FoxNews.com. “Why have we gone up overall in the past 30 years? Because we've been in a warm cycle in the Pacific,” he said. “But the tropical Pacific has cooled dramatically, and it's like turning down your thermostat -- it takes a while, but the house will cool.” [FoxNews.com, 1/24/11]
Kevin Trenberth Of NCAR: “The Statements Are Utter Nonsense.” Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), told Media Matters via email:
The heat has to come from somewhere. In El Nino: or really the ENSO cycle of El Nino and then La Nina, the heat builds up during La Nina, and then is redistributed and comes out of the ocean during and following El Nino.
This is well documented (I can point you to papers). So there is a mini global warming (increase in temperature) in the latter part of El Nino.
The heat has to come from somewhere and so if the climate is warming because of a warm cycle in the Pacific, where did the heat come from? If it just comes from the ocean then the ocean must be cooling down. It isn't. Of course it is global warming from increased greenhouse gases that warms the ocean!
The statements are utter nonsense. [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]
David Pierce Of Scripps Institution Of Oceanography: “The Up-And-Down Temperature Sequence” Of El Ninos “Does Not Match” The Long-Term Warming Trend. David Pierce, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography responded to the question, “How do climate scientists know that the warming in the past 30 years is not due to El Ninos?” by writing:
This question reminds me of when I was young, and my grandfather took me and my 5-year old cousin on an elevator ride. My grandfather told her that if she jumped up and down, she could jump to the top of the building. So she energetically jumped up and down, and after a minute the elevator doors opened, and there we were at the top of the building! My cousin was mighty impressed.
Of course, she was only 5, so we can forgive her for not understanding that it's perfectly possible for two things to be happening at the same time. She was jumping up and down, but the elevator car was going up at the same time. El Nino and the warming we have seen over the last 30 years are like that. We have had El Ninos (warm events) and La Ninas (cold events), which push the Earth up and down in temperature. (By the National Center for Environmental Predictions's count -- they are part of NOAA, who also runs the National Weather Service -- we have had about 11 El Nino (warm) events since 1970, and about 10 La Nina (cold) events). At the same time, there has been a long-term, systematic warming of the planet. So the main way we know that El Nino is not responsible for the “global warming” in recent decades is that the up-and-down temperature sequence of the El Ninos and La Ninas does not match the long-term, secular rise in temperatures.
Another way you can check if El Nino/La Nina are responsible for he planetary warming is by examining the regions that they tend to influence, and see if there is a match. The planetary warming can be seen across broad swaths of the globe, but is concentrated in the polar regions. El Nino warming is concentrated in the tropics. So the spatial signature of El Nino warming does not match the spatial pattern of global warming either. [Email to Media Matters, 1/26/11]
RealClimate: Scientists Have “Known For Decades” That El Nino Correlates With Global Temperatures. From a July 2009 post on Real Climate, a science blog written by working climate scientists:
First, there is an atrocious paper that has just been published in JGR by McLean, de Freitas and Carter that is doing the rounds of the denialosphere. These authors make the completely unsurprising point that that there is a correlation between ENSO indices and global mean temperature - something that has been well known for decades - and then go on to claim that that all trends are explained by this correlation as well. This is somewhat surprising since their method of analysis (which involves taking the first derivative of any changes) eliminates the influence of any trends in the correlation. [RealClimate.org, 7/24/09]
Scientists Seek To Account For El Nino Effects When Evaluating Climate Change. Physicist John Cook wrote on his website that "[t]here have been various attempts to filter out the ENSO signal from the temperature record," adding that analyses have confirmed that El Ninos have a “strong short term effect on global temperature but cannot explain the long term trend.” From the post:
An examination of the temperature record from 1880 to 2007 finds internal variability such as El Nino has relatively small impact on the long term trend (Hoerling 2008). Instead, they find long term trends in sea surface temperatures are driven predominantly by the planet's energy imbalance.
There have been various attempts to filter out the ENSO signal from the temperature record. We've examined one such paper by Fawcett 2007 when addressing the global warming stopped in 1998 argument. Similarly, Thompson 2008 filters out the ENSO signal from the temperature record. What remains is a warming trend with less variability. [SkepticalScience.com, 9/3/10]
Climate Scientist Jim Hurrell: La Nina Had Cooling Influence In 2007 And 2008 -- Years That Were “Still Much Warmer Than The Long-Term Average.” From an October 2009 PolitiFact article:
Jim Hurrell, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., says these natural temperature variations are expected.
“In the same way that El Nino made 1998 warm, in 2007 and 2008, La Nina made global temperatures a bit cooler than they have been running, but still much warmer than the long-term average,” Hurrell said referring to El Nino's cooler counterpart. [PolitiFact.com,10/27/09]
NOAA Oceanographer: El Nino Events Occur “On Top Of” Warmer “Baseline Temperatures.” The New York Times reported in September 2010:
Drastic die-offs of coral were seen for the first time in 1983 in the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean, during a large-scale weather event known as El Niño. During an El Niño, warm waters normally confined to the western Pacific flow to the east; 2010 is also an El Niño year.
Serious regional bleaching has occurred intermittently since the 1983 disaster. It is clear that natural weather variability plays a role in overheating the reefs, but scientists say it cannot, by itself, explain what has become a recurring phenomenon.
“It is a lot easier for oceans to heat up above the corals' thresholds for bleaching when climate change is warming the baseline temperatures,” said C. Mark Eakin, who runs a program called Coral Reef Watch for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “If you get an event like El Niño or you just get a hot summer, it's going to be on top of the warmest temperatures we've ever seen.” [The New York Times, 9/20/10]
Fox Cites Claim That December 2010 “Was The Second-Coldest December” On Record
FoxNews.com Cites Claim That “December 2010” Was Second-Coldest On Record. From the FoxNews.com article:
4. Besides, it's getting chilly. 2010 may have been a warm year, but 2011 has been off to a very cold start -- and may be among the coldest in decades.
“December 2010 was the second-coldest December in the entire history dating back to 1659,” noted Steve McIntyre, a climate scientist and the editor of climate blog Climate Audit. He bases his claim on data from the longest continuous record in the world, kept by The Met Office, the U.K.'s official weather agency.
It's an odd fact, one Bastardi thinks is telling. He said that the transition from the El Niño warming period into the La Niña cooling period will herald a crash of global temperatures, normalizing world heat levels -- especially when analyzed via Spencer's satellite data charts. [FoxNews.com, 1/24/11]
But Fox Pointed To Data For The UK, Not For The Entire Globe
McIntyre Reported December Values For “CET - Central England.” FoxNews.com links to a January 4 blog post by Steve McIntyre which states:
December values of the longest instrumental record in the world (CET - Central England) are just in.
December 2010 was the second-coldest December in the entire history dating back to 1659 (including the Little Ice Age.) Only Dec 1890 was colder (by a slim 0.1 deg C). [ClimateAudit.org, 1/4/11]
- Data Represent Part Of United Kingdom, Not The Entire Globe. The Met Office states that the CET dataset is “representative of a roughly triangular area of the United Kingdom enclosed by Lancashire, London and Bristol.” [Hadobs.MetOffice.com, accessed 1/26/11]
December 2010 Was Colder Than Normal In Some Regions But Warmer Than Normal For The Planet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported: “The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for December 2010 was 0.37°C (0.67°F) above the 20th century average of 12.2°C (54.0°F). This tied with 1982 and 1994 as the 17th warmest December on record.” NCDC further stated:
Regionally, a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation brought cooler-than-average temperatures to large portions of the Northern Hemispere land areas. The United Kingdom's temperatures were, on average, about 5°C (9°F) below the 1971-2000 average during the month of December, making it the coldest December in more than 100 years, according to the UK Met Office. [NOAA, January 2011]
Met Office: 2010 Was “Second Warmest Year On Record.” From a Met Office news release:
The Met Office and the University of East Anglia have today released provisional global temperature figures for 2010, which show the year to be the second warmest on record.
With a mean temperature of 14.50 °C, 2010 becomes the second warmest year on record, after 1998. The record is maintained by the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit at UEA.
Earlier this month, in the US, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center announced that the past year is either warmest or equal-warmest on their respective records.
Events in the Pacific Ocean have heavily influenced the global temperature in 2010. The year began in El Niño conditions, which have a warming effect. But the El Niño was replaced by a very strong La Niña - the strongest for more than 30 years - which acts to cool the climate. [Met Office, 1/20/11]
Barry Grommett Of Met Office: “The Important Picture Is Global.” The Telegraph reported on January 21:
Barry Grommett, of the Met Office, said a freezing start to the year in January and February and then the coldest December ever recorded brought down the temperature in the UK.
Both weather patterns were caused by a blocking pattern of high pressure in the mid atlantic that cut off mild westerly wind and made the UK and most of the rest of western Europe colder than usual.
However at the same time the rest of the world was having heatwaves. In particular it was a warm winter in Canada and Siberia and eastern mediterraean.
Greenland lost more ice than any other year while the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, had the warmest spring and summer since records began in 1873.
Mr Grommett said despite the cold year in the UK the world is warming.
“It is a natural perception to look out window and see snow and think the world cannot be possibly be warming but the UK is a small dot on the world surface and the important picture is global and in that 2010 has been a very warm year.” [Telegraph, 1/21/11]
FoxNews.com: “The Land Data Is Being Challenged Extensively By Anthony Watt [sic].” From the January 24 FoxNews.com article:
But how reliable is the data? Here are five good reasons some scientists are skeptical of these claims.
1. Where does the data come from? Average temperatures globally last year were 0.95 degrees Fahrenheit (0.53 Celsius) higher than the 1961-90 mean that is used for comparison purposes, according to the WMO -- a statement based on three climate data sets from U.K. and U.S. weather agencies. They gather readings from land-based weather and climate stations, ships and buoys, and satellites -- and they've come under dramatic scrutiny in recent years.
The land data is being challenged extensively by Anthony Watt on his SurfaceStations.org website. Watts recently graded 61% of the stations used to measure temperature with a D -- for being located less than 10 meters from an artificial heating source. Many climate skeptics also take issue with NASA and NOAA, the U.S. agencies that gather U.S. climate data, but also manipulate and “normalize” it. [FoxNews.com, 1/24/11]
In Fact, Watts' Claims Are Based On Photographs Of Weather Stations, Not Actual Analysis of Temps
Jeff Masters: “Watts Did Not Actually Analyze The Data To See” If The Observed Global Temperatures Were Biased. Jeff Masters, director of meteorology for Weather Underground, a commercial weather service, wrote on January 25, 2010:
Former TV weatherman Anthony Watts, who runs the popular global warming contrarian website, “Watts Up With That” , was convinced that many of the U.S. network of surface weather stations had serious flaws in their siting that was causing an artificial warm bias in the observed increase in U.S. temperatures of 1.1°F over the past century. To address this concern, Watts established the website surfacestations.org in 2007, which enlisted an army of volunteers to travel the U.S. to obtain photographic evidence of poor siting of weather stations. The goal was to document cases where “microclimate” influence was important, and could be contaminating temperature measurements. (Note that this is a separate issue from the Urban Heat Island, the phenomenon where a metropolitan area in general is warmer than surrounding rural areas). Watts' volunteers--650 strong--documented the siting of 865 of the 1,218 stations used in the National Climatic Data Center's U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) for tracking climate change. As reported in Watt's 2009 publication put out by the Heartland Institute, the volunteers “found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat.” Watts surmised that these poorly-sited stations were responsible for much of the increase in U.S. temperatures over the past century, due to “a bias trend that likely results from the thermometers being closer to buildings, asphalt, etc.” Watts concluded, “the U.S. temperature record is unreliable. And since the U.S. record is thought to be the best in the world, it follows that the global database is likely similarly compromised and unreliable” .
While Watts' publication by the Heartland Institute is a valuable source of information on siting problems of the U.S. network of weather stations, the publication did not undergo peer-review--the process whereby three anonymous scientists who are experts in the field review a manuscript submitted for publication, and offer criticisms on the scientific validity of the results, resulting in revisions to the original paper or outright rejection. The Heartland Institute is an advocacy organization that accepts money from corporate benefactors such as the tobacco industry and fossil fuel industry, and publishes non-peer reviewed science that inevitably supports the interests of the groups paying for the studies. Watts did not actually analyze the data to see if taking out the poorly sited surface stations would have a significant impact on the observed 1.1°F increase in U.S. temperatures over the past century. His study would never have been publishable in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. [Wunderground.com, 1/25/10]
Chip Knappenberger: Watts Has Not Shown “That There Is A Warm Bias In the Adjusted U.S. Temperature Record As A Result” Of Any Bias In The Stations. Andrew Revkin reported that Chip Knappenberger, “a frequent critic of climate overstatement,” stated of Watts' work:
I've seen a lot of Anthony Watts' presentations and pictures of poorly sited thermometers, but never an analysis to conclusively show that there is a warm bias in the adjusted U.S. temperature record as a result. Yes, many sites are poorly situated and the temperature they read is impacted by things other than the larger-scale weather -- but also, such things are being corrected for (or at least an attempt is being made to correct for them) by the various producers of a U.S. temperature history (i.e. Menne et al. at NCDC). So, while the raw data are undoubtedly a mixture of climate and non-climatic influences, the adjusted data presumably have more of a climate signal. The recent paper by Menne et al., seems to bear this out. Anthony Watts and colleagues, no doubt have an analysis of their own in the works. It'll be interesting to see what their results show. The results from Menne et al. suggest that while a picture may be worth a thousand words, it is the data which actually tells the story. I await a formal analysis from Watts et al. and the story that it may tell. [NYTimes.com, Dot Earth, 1/28/19]
Peer-Reviewed Study Found Slight “Cool” Bias, Not Warm Bias, From Poorly Placed Stations. A peer-reviewed study by NOAA scientists and published in the Journal of Geophysical Research addressed Watts' research and found “no evidence” that the temperature trends “are inflated due to poor station siting” :
Recent photographic documentation of poor siting conditions at stations in the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) has led to questions regarding the reliability of surface temperature trends over the conterminous United States (CONUS). To evaluate the potential impact of poor siting/instrument exposure on CONUS temperatures, trends derived from poor and well sited USHCN stations were compared. Results indicate that there is a mean bias associated with poor exposure sites relative to good exposure sites; however, this bias is consistent with previously documented changes associated with the widespread conversion to electronic sensors in the USHCN during the last 25 years. Moreover, the sign of the bias is counterintuitive to photographic documentation of poor exposure because associated instrument changes have led to an artificial negative ( “cool” ) bias in maximum temperatures and only a slight positive ( “warm” ) bias in minimum temperatures. These results underscore the need to consider all changes in observation practice when determining the impacts of siting irregularities. Further, the influence of nonstandard siting on temperature trends can only be quantified through an analysis of the data. Adjustments applied to USHCN Version 2 data largely account for the impact of instrument and siting changes, although a small overall residual negative ( “cool” ) bias appears to remain in the adjusted maximum temperature series. Nevertheless, the adjusted USHCN temperatures are extremely well aligned with recent measurements from instruments whose exposure characteristics meet the highest standards for climate monitoring. In summary, we find no evidence that the CONUS average temperature trends are inflated due to poor station siting. [Journal of Geophysical Research, 6/8/10]
- Watts Plans To Publish His Own Analysis. Watts wrote in May 2010 that the study in the Journal of Geophysical Research "'borrowed' my incomplete surfacestations rating data against my protests." He added, “Assuming we aren't blocked by journal politics, we'll have the surfacestations analysis results in public view soon. If we are blocked by journal politics, we'll have other ways.” [WattsUpWithThat.com, 5/19/10]
New Network Of U.S. Climate Stations Meets Higher Standards. According to NOAA, the Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is a new network of weather stations that “adhere to all of the Global Climate Monitoring Principles and are located are located in areas free local human influences and have excellent site location characteristics. They are closely monitored and are subject to rigorous calibration procedures. It is a network designed specifically for assessing climate change.” [NOAA, 7/6/09]
- Study Found Adjusted Temperature Data Are “Well Aligned” With Results From New Stations. The study in the Journal of Geophysical Research found that “the USHCN adjusted data averaged over the CONUS are well aligned with the averages derived from the USCRN for the past five years.” [Journal of Geophysical Research, 6/8/10]
Temperature Measurements Aren't The Only Reason Scientists Say The Globe Is Warming. NOAA explains that in addition to temperature measurements, “other independent observations” confirm the warming trend:
Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys and autonomous gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with satellite measurements. These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change. A number of agencies around the world have produced datasets of global-scale changes in surface temperature using different techniques to process the data and remove measurement errors that could lead to false interpretations of temperature trends. The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels. [NOAA, accessed 1/26/11]
Fox Cites Lord Monckton's Claim That Antarctic Ice Undermines The Case For Global Warming
Fox Trumpets Lord Monckton's Claim That Loss Of Arctic Sea Ice Has Been Matched “By A Near-Equally Rapid Gain of Antarctic Sea Ice.” From the FoxNews.com article:
2. There's less ice is in the oceans. Or more. Or something. The WMO report notes that Arctic sea-ice cover in December 2010 was the lowest on record, with an average monthly extent of 12 million square kilometers, 1.35 million square kilometers below the 1979-2000 average for December. The agency called it the third-lowest minimum ice extent recorded in September.
In fact, the overall sea-ice record shows virtually no change throughout the past 30 years, argued Lord Monckton, a British politician, journalist, and noted skeptic of global warming. He points out that “the quite rapid loss of Arctic sea ice since the satellites were watching has been matched by a near-equally rapid gain of Antarctic sea ice.”
When the summer Arctic sea ice reached its lowest point in the 30-year record in mid-September 2007, just three weeks later the Antarctic sea extent reached a 30-year record high, Monckton said. [FoxNews.com, 1/24/11]
Climate Scientists Note Antarctic Sea Ice Trend Does Not Disprove Global Climate Change
Arctic Sea Ice Is Declining Faster Than Antarctic Sea Ice Is Increasing. Contrary to Monkton's claim, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) states: “Although Arctic sea ice extent underwent a strong decline from 1979 to 2009, Antarctic sea ice underwent a slight increase. The Antarctic ice extent increases were smaller in magnitude than the Arctic increases, and some regions of the Antarctic experienced strong declining trends in sea ice extent.”
[NSIDC.org, accessed 1/25/10]
Scientists Note That Arctic And Antarctic Sea Ice Aren't Expected To Act The Same Way. The Christian Science Monitor reported in January 2008:
For some commentators, the out-of-sync trends in sea ice at the two poles is evidence that warming isn't global and doesn't deserve the international angst it triggers.
Not so fast, many researchers respond. Northern and southern sea ice shouldn't necessarily act in lock-step. “Antarctic sea ice is such a different animal,” says Douglas Martinson, another polar-ice specialist at Lamont-Doherty. Geographic and oceanographic differences - a virtually landlocked ocean in the north versus an open ocean in the south - encourage the buildup of thick, long-lasting, multiyear ice in the Arctic Ocean. Antarctica's sea ice, by contrast, is largely thin and seasonal. In winter, Antarctic sea ice covers an area nearly twice the size of Europe. By the end of summer, it shrinks to one-sixth of its winter extent. These wide swings make it difficult to tease out long-term trends in ice cover there. [Christian Science Monitor, 1/10/08]
NSIDC: “Loss Of Ozone” And “Increases In Greenhouse Gases” Affect Winds And Ice. From NSIDC:
Wintertime Antarctic sea ice is increasing at a small rate and with substantial natural year-to-year variability. Specifically, the months of May, June, July, September and October show trends of increasing sea ice extent that are just slightly above the mean year-to-year variability (for example, the October trend is 0.8% per decade ± 0.7% as of 2010). In more technical terms, the trends are statistically significant at the 95% level, although small.
Climate model projections of Antarctic sea ice extent are in reasonable agreement with the observations to date. The dominant change in the climate pattern of Antarctica has been a gradual increase in the westerly circumpolar winds. Models suggest that both the loss of ozone (the ozone hole that occurs in September/October every year) and increases in greenhouse gases lead to an increase in this climate pattern.
When winds push on sea ice, they tend to move it in the direction they are blowing, but the Coriolis effect adds an apparent push to the left. In the unconfined system of Antarctic sea ice, this pushes the ice northward away from the continent. By spreading sea ice westward and a little northward (and since we measure extent with a 15% cut-off) the gradual trend towards faster mean winds means a gradual trend toward spreading of the ice cover.
Moreover, this trend towards stronger circumpolar winds appears to be causing the sea ice decline near the Antarctic Peninsula. In general the winds tend to dive slightly southward as they approach the Peninsula, an effect of the mountain ridges of the Andes and other circulation features in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Sea. A stronger wind from the northwest brings warmer conditions and therefore less ice to the region. Lastly, the El Nino and La Nina cycle also appear to influence sea ice in the Pacific sector. El Nino patterns (a warm eastern tropical Pacific) are associated with warmer winds and less ice; the opposite is true for La Nina.
Even if wintertime Antarctic sea ice were to increase or decrease significantly in the future, it would not have a huge impact on the climate system. This is because during the Antarctic winter energy from the sun is at its weakest point; its ability or inability to reflect the sun's energy back into space has little affect on regulating the planet's temperature. [NSIDC.org, December 2010]
Recent Study Shines Light On Why Antarctic Sea Ice Has Been Increasing. Discovery News reported in August 2010:
For years scientists have puzzled over how the sea surface temperature around Antarctica has risen, but sea ice there has been increasing at the same time.
“We just want to understand this paradox,” said Jiping Liu of Georgia Institute of Technology. “For the past 30 years, the Arctic sea ice has been decreasing while Antarctic sea ice has been increasing. We've been trying to explain this.”
To do that, Liu and veteran climate modeler Judith Curry analyzed Southern Ocean temperature records and the best simulations of sea surface temperature.
They found that higher sea surface temperatures during the last half of the 20th century probably revved up the hydrological cycle above the Southern Ocean, creating a situation in which more sea ice can grow. In other words, higher sea surface temperatures increased evaporation in more temperate zones, which ramped up precipitation closer to Antarctica.
That additional precipitation has yet another effect that helps increase sea ice: It lowers the salinity of the surface water, which slows the melting of sea ice, Liu explained. The result is that the growth of sea ice has outpaced melting.
But the ice building and preserving effects are only temporary, Liu told Discovery News, who with Curry published their findings in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
If the sea and air warm even more in the 21st century, as projected, much of that extra snowfall could turn into rainfall, which would rapidly melt ice all around the southernmost continent. [Discovery News, 8/16/10]
Monckton Believes Climate Treaty Will “Impose A Communist World Government On The World.” During an October 2009 presentation in Minnesota, Moncton stated:
MONCKTON: How many of you think that the word election or democracy or vote or ballot occurs anywhere in the 200 pages of that treaty? Quite right, it doesn't appear once. So at last the communists who piled out of the Berlin Wall and into the environmental movement and took over Greenpeace so that my friends who founded it left within a year because they'd captured it, now the apotheosis is at hand.
They are about to impose a communist world government on the world. You have a president who has very strong sympathies with that point of view. He's going to sign. He'll sign anything. He's a Nobel Peace laureate -- of course he'll sign. And the trouble is this: If that treaty is signed, your Constitution says that it takes precedence over your Constitution. And you can't resile from that treaty unless you get the agreement of all the other states' parties. [Media Matters, 10/14/09]
Monckton Previously Advocated Quarantining AIDS Patients “For Life.” In a 1987 American Spectator article, Moncton advocated requiring the entire population to undergo monthly HIV tests and forcibly quarantining “for life” those who test positive. [Media Matters, 12/11/09]
Fox Falsely Claims Japan's Meteorological Agency “Agrees” That El Nino Caused The Warming Of Past 30 Years
FoxNews.com: “Japan's Meteorological Agency Agrees With Bastardi's Conclusion.” From the FoxNews.com article:
Of course temperatures are up, said Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist with Accuweather: It's El Niño, stupid.
“El Niños cause spikes up. La Niñas drop it down,” Bastardi told FoxNews.com. “Why have we gone up overall in the past 30 years? Because we've been in a warm cycle in the Pacific,” he said. “But the tropical Pacific has cooled dramatically, and it's like turning down your thermostat -- it takes a while, but the house will cool.”
Japan's Meteorological Agency agrees with Bastardi's conclusion, stating recently that “it can be presumed that the high temperatures in recent years have been influenced by natural climate fluctuations with the periods ranging from several years to several decades,” as well as by greenhouse gases including CO2.
The Article Itself Contradicts This Claim. As the FoxNews.com article itself notes, the Japan Meteorological Agency stated that natural variations and human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to recent warming, meaning that natural causes alone cannot account for all of the increase. The agency's news release reported that the global average temperature in 2010 is “most likely to become the second warmest record since 1891.” [Japanese Meteorological Agency, 12/21/10]
- Japan Meteorological Agency Is Reportedly Concerned About “Heat-Trapping Gases.” Kyodo News Service reported on December 19, 2010, that the Japan Meteorological Agency “requested 330 million yen in its fiscal 2011 budget request for strengthening countermeasures against global warming, with officials saying it is crucial to monitor the heat-trapping gases to come up with effective measures to prevent global warming.” [Kyodo News Service via BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 12/19/10, accessed via Nexis]
Fox Baselessly Claims 2011 “May Be Among The Coldest In Decades”
Without Providing Any Sources, FoxNews.com Claims 2011 “May Be Among The Coldest In Decades.” From the FoxNews.com article:
4. Besides, it's getting chilly. 2010 may have been a warm year, but 2011 has been off to a very cold start -- and may be among the coldest in decades. [FoxNews.com, 1/24/11]
Met Office: La Nina Expected To Push Down Global Temperature In 2011. The climate research centers have not released any temperature data for 2011. However, the Met Office wrote on December 2, 2010, that 2011 is “unlikely to be a record year” due to the cooling effect of La Nina, but did not predict, as FoxNews.com does, that it will be “among the coldest in decades.” From the Met Office news release:
The Met Office annual global temperature forecast for 2010, Climate could warm to record levels in 2010, issued at the COP15 talks in Copenhagen, predicted that the year was “more likely than not” to be the warmest year. Dr Adam Scaife, head of long range forecasting at the Met Office said, “The three leading global temperature datasets show that, so far, 2010 is clearly warmer than 2009 despite El Niño declining and being replaced by a very strong La Niña, which has a cooling effect.”
Although La Niña has stabilised, it is still expected to affect global temperature through the coming year. This effect is small compared to the total accrued global warming to date, but it does mean that 2011 is unlikely to be a record year according to the Met Office prediction based on the three main datasets. Nevertheless an anomaly of 0.44 °C is still likely -- with the range very likely to be between 0.28 °C and 0.60 °C. The middle of this range would place 2011 among the top 10 warmest years on the record. [Met Office,12/2/10]
Met Office: Cooling Influences Of La Nina “Can Strongly Influence Individual Years,” But Are “Quite Small” Compared To Long-Term Warming. The Met Office further stated:
Interannual variations of global surface temperature are strongly affected by the warming influences of El Niño and the cooling influences of La Niña in the Pacific Ocean. These are quite small when compared to the total global warming since 1900 of about 0.8 °C but nevertheless typically reach about ±0.10 °C, and can strongly influence individual years. [Met Office, 12/2/10]
Fox Misleadingly Cites 1970s Prediction Of Global Cooling
FoxNews.com: In 1970, “One Researcher Predicted That The Planet Would Be 11 Degrees Colder” By 2000. From the FoxNews.com article:
5. Forecasts are often wrong. Predicting the weather -- especially a decade or more in advance -- is unbelievably challenging. In 2000, a scientist with the Met Office's Climatic Research Unit declared that within ten years, snowfall would be “a very rare and exciting event.”
And in 1970 at the first Earth Day event, one researcher predicted that the planet would be 11 degrees colder by the year 2000. [FoxNews.com, 1/24/11]
Prediction Attributed To Kenneth E.F. Watt. In an article from December 30, 2010, FoxNews.com attributes to Kenneth E.F. Watt the statement: “If present trends continue, the world will be ... eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” [FoxNews.com, 12/30/10]
Kenneth Watt Is Not A Climate Scientist. According to a July 23, 1985, Washington Post report, Kenneth E.F. Watt was “a zoologist at the University of California, Davis.” [The Washington Post, 7/23/85]
Watt Worked With Group That Claims Increased Greenhouse Emissions Are A Good Thing. Watt is listed in as an advisor to the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. [Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, accessed 1/26/11]
- Group Received FUnding From Exxon Mobil. The New York Times reported in September 2005 that the British scientific group the Royal Society “contends that Exxon Mobil is spreading “inaccurate and misleading” information about climate change and is financing groups that misinform the public on the issue." The article further reported that the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change was among the groups funded by Exxon Mobil in 2005 according to the Royal Society. [The New York Times, 8/21/06]
- The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change reportedly pushes the notion that “putting more CO2 in the air would actually be good for the planet.” [Mother Jones, 12/4/09]
There Was No Consensus Among Climate Scientists On Global Cooling In The 1970s. A September 2008 article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, a peer-reviewed publication, investigated the “pervasive myth” that “there was a consensus among climate scientists of the 1970s that either global cooling or a full-fledged ice age was imminent.” The article found:
A review of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979 shows this myth to be false. The myth's basis lies in a selective misreading of the texts both by some members of the media at the time and by some observers today. In fact, emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then. [Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, September 2008]
Survey: 97% of 77 Active Climate Scientists Said “Human Activity Is A Significant Contributing Factor” In Changing Global Temperatures. A survey conducted by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman of the University of Illinois asked Earth scientists:
1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
With 3146 individuals completing the survey, the participant response rate for the survey was 30.7%. This is a typical response rate for Web-based surveys.
Results show that overall, 90% of participants answered “risen” to question 1 and 82% answered yes to question 2. In general, as the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement with the two primary questions. In our survey, the most specialized and knowledgable respondents (with regard to climate change) are those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change (79 individuals in total). Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2. [Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 1/20/09]
Study: 97-98% Of The Most Active Climate Researchers Support Tenets Of Human-Caused Climate Change. From a study led by William Anderegg of Stanford University:
Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6/21/10]