Saturday, August 30, 2014

Behind the times (in Greenland) at WUWT. The year is not 1855, it's 2014!

Sou | 4:30 AM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has put up another shonky chart of GISP2 temperatures (archived here). No-one's complained so far, but he's got the current temperature in central Greenland as being about as cold as the Little Ice Age or colder.

Here is GISP2 from the Richard Alley data (Cuffey and Clow). These data go from 95 years BP to almost 50,000 years ago. I've only included the past 20,000 years or so. 95 years before present is 95 years before 1950, which is 1855. I've put in the average temperature at the summit for the decade 2001-2010, which was 29.9°C, as indicated in Kobashi et al (2011), which I discuss a bit further down.

Data source: Alley, R.B..  2004. GISP2 Ice Core Temperature and Accumulation Data. IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series #2004-013. NOAA/NGDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder CO, USA.

Here is the WUWT chart:

See how Anthony Watts reckons that it's as cold as the coldest period in the Little Ice Age? He's put the "present temperature" and "present global warming" the same as the temperature back in 1855.

Look more closely. You'd have thought Anthony and his merry band would have known when the denier's favourite periods, the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period took place. But he gets those wrong, too. [h/t a few people]

He's been told about this over and over and over again. But he won't take any notice. At WUWT it's whatever you can get away with to reject science.

Here are charts from the 2011 paper by Takuro Kobashi and colleagues, showing surface temperatures in Greenland over the past 4,000 years.

Figure 1. (top) Reconstructed Greenland snow surface temperatures for the past 4000 years and air temperature over the past 170 years (1840–2010) from three records. The thick blue line and blue band represents the reconstructed Greenland temperature and 1s error, respectively (this study). The reconstruction was made by two different methods before and after 1950. The “gas method” is as described in section 2, and the “forward model” is described by Kobashi et al. [2010]. Thick and thin black lines are the inversion!adjusted reconstructed Summit annual air temperatures and 10!year moving average temperatures, respectively [Box et al., 2009]. Thin and thick red lines are the inversion adjusted annual and 10!year moving average AWS temperature records, respectively [Stearns and Weidner, 1991; Shuman et al., 2001; Steffen and Box, 2001; Vaarby!Laursen, 2010]. (middle) Past 1000 years of Greenland temperature. Thick blue line and band are the same as above. Black and red lines are the Summit [Box et al., 2009] and AWS [Stearns and Weidner, 1991; Shuman et al., 2001; Steffen and Box, 2001; Vaarby!Laursen, 2010] decadal average temperatures as above. (bottom) Past 4000 years of Greenland temperature. Thick blue line and band are the same as above. Thick green line represents 100!year moving averages. Black and red lines are the Summit [Box et al., 2009] and AWS [Stearns and Weidner, 1991; Shuman et al., 2001; Steffen and Box, 2001; Vaarby!Laursen, 2010] decadal average temperature, respectively. Blue and pink rectangles are the periods of 1000–2010 C.E. (Figure 1, middle) and 1840–2010 C.E. (Figure 1, top), respectively. Present temperature is calculated from the inversion adjusted AWS decadal average temperature (2001–2010) as −29.9°C (Figure 1, top). Present temperature and ±2s are illustrated by lines in the plots. Green circles are the current decadal average temperature as above (−29.9°C, 2001–2010). Source: 

A cosmic event, but no certainty

Anthony's shonky chart was to illustrate a press release about a new paper in the Journal of Geology, which is about the distribution of nanodiamonds, which the authors say support the hypothesis that the Younger Dryas cooling was caused by a cosmic collision, perhaps a comet, crashing here on Earth.

You can read the press release here. If you've a subscription, you can read the paper here.

Neither the press release nor the paper makes the strong claim of Anthony's headline, which was: "Younger Dryas climate event solved via nanodiamonds – it was a planetary impact event". The press release and the paper talk about the evidence being consistent with the cooling 12,800 years ago being caused by a cosmic impact, and inconsistent with it being caused by "natural terrestrial processes".

I'm not making any comment on the paper. Feel free to talk about it if you want to. I was mainly writing this article to talk about the mislabelled chart that keeps resurfacing at WUWT in one guise or other.

From the WUWT comments

By the time I'd finished writing, I see that finally at least one person commented on Anthony's chart. Greg asked:
August 29, 2014 at 9:20 am
What’s the source of the Greenland temp graph in this article?
Showing current temperatures almost as low as LIA :?

gary gulrud would like to see other evidence of a cosmic impact. That's not an unreasonable request.
August 29, 2014 at 10:19 am
Not an expert but 13,000 years is like geologic yesterday. Point me to the crater, please?

There were various other comments and speculation. The deniers are playing sceptic (for a change).

Kobashi, Takuro, Kenji Kawamura, Jeffrey P. Severinghaus, Jean‐Marc Barnola, Toshiyuki Nakaegawa, Bo M. Vinther, Sigfús J. Johnsen, and Jason E. Box. "High variability of Greenland surface temperature over the past 4000 years estimated from trapped air in an ice core." Geophysical Research Letters 38, no. 21 (2011). DOI: 10.1029/2011GL049444

Charles R. Kinzie et al "Nanodiamond-Rich Layer across Three Continents Consistent with Major Cosmic Impact at 12,800 Cal BP" The Journal of Geology. Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/677046


  1. Last year I mentioned earlier evidence suggesting the Younger Dryas was caused by an asteroid impact rather than collapse of the Laurentide ice sheet.

  2. Notice also that that blue dip in the WUWT graph labeled "Little Ice Age" is actually at around 1500 yrs BP! The actual LIA would have been that dip just before the "present global warming", where "present", of course, means sixty years ago.

    (To be fair, a few commenters at WUWT have already pointed this out, not that Watts, or the rest of the commenters, really seem to care. Apparently the graph is not from the paper nor the press release, just something Watts added to better allow his readers to visualize the lack of warming since the LIA...)

  3. A quick Google image search indicates that it is likely that the WUWT chart was created by Don Easterbrook for a Heartland presentation. That makes sense since mangling the data from Greenland ice cores is Easterbrook's speciality.

  4. Yes, the graph does appear to be from "GLOBAL COOLING IS HERE! EVIDENCE FOR PREDICTING GLOBAL COOLING FOR THE NEXT THREE DECADES" by Don J. Easterbrook. It appears to have been written for ICECAP. The earliest copy I found in a Word document created October 30, 2008 (same as the ICECAP blog date) and the internal Word author is listed as 'dbunny' which matches Easterbrook's wwu.edu website. In the document the graph is captioned as "Modified from Cuffy and Clow, 1997"

    Monckton had a similar, more colorful modification of Chuffy and Chow, 1997 - http://mind.ofdan.ca/moncktons-silly-graph-part-2/

  5. What is it with Watt's always presenting obviously fraudulent graphs? Does he really think that no one will notice his illicit subterfuge? I mean really. Is the Thames river freezing over during winter? But present the Hockey stick graph and they go all crazy. They seem to love being lied to and live in a distorted fantasy world. But what is even more galling is that anyone who doesn't live in their fantasy world has somehow been corrupted by the 'warmistas', and are part of the 'true believer' crowd. I mean, how many times has this website been hijacked by Watties with their bluff and nonsense.

    1. It's especially ironic considering the next post here on HotWhopper, in which a psychology PhD students screams "fraud" at just about anything, and the Wattsians nod their heads in agreement.

  6. Hi,

    I have a beginners question. Looking at the graphs in fig 1, how reliable is it that the increase in temperature we see today is not just a statistical fluctuation? I mean, looking at the histogram, present time doesn't look very special. Someone must have done a proper statistical analysis and I wonder how likely / unlikely the present time temperature is.

    Thanks, P

    1. A few things about the chart labeled Figure 1 above.

      The chart itself shows the 1 sigma range (probability, that's statistics). So yes, statistical analysis has been done.

      As the label says, the chart is Greenland snow surface and air temperatures, not the entire world. (You probably know that already.)

      Even if you don't think so, even without reading the statistical analysis (which would be in the paper as well), the 2010 temperature in the top right of the top chart in the chart labelled Fig 1 is clearly way above anything else. It's been getting hot in Greenland, not just the rest of the world.

      BTW, the Arctic as a whole is warming faster than most other places. The world as a whole is warming very quickly too. We're on track to warm ten times faster than any period in the past 65 million years.



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