Arctic ice loss

Of course global warming (AGW) is a hoax; IDiot Inhofe proved it because he could find enough snow to make a snowall – case closed.

Meanwhile on the real science front an interesting article (news, not the full scientific report) about Arctic sea ice, raising the issue that it’s not just interesting to look at the amount of ice at its minimum (around September) but also at its maximum (around now). Simply put if less water freezes to ice it will be easier for it to melt as it warms up.

While the conclusions are not exactly startling (less ice, thinner ice now) it is interesting to see how science works to develop such a conclusion (unlike the insane ravings of deniers like Inhofe, just doing the bought-and-paid-for work for their masters, the carbon special interests.) One big issue with the science is it is based on real data, real measurements. But we’ve only developed such technologies and deployed them relatively recently. So scientists, who are real skeptics (very different than deniers, scientists ALWAYS question and test results as they should since they’re after truth, not propaganda), are concerned about what conclusions they can actually draw, sometimes on scanty data.

As I read the above-mentioned article I’m also reading Michael Mann’s The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. While this book covers a lot of ground it also goes into how datasets are obtained and reconciled, especially where modern instrumentation is missing, what “proxy” datasets (such as tree rings or ice cores) can be used. And then how do you combine these disparate types of data with statistical significance. Fairly dry reading unless you’re a numbers freak like me, but even the gloss shows how carefully scientists scrutinize, assemble, analyze, and then question and test their data (unlike stunt snowballs or crap websites like Watt (I won’t even mention his url or sitename to avoid giving him even one more visit in his logs).

So in the case of the ice article it’s the Navy to the rescue. It turns out, for purely military reasons, submarines have been chugging away under the Arctic ice even since the first Nautilus reached the North Pole and then the Skate actually surfaced there. These subs were outfitted with upward looking sonar so they could measure ice thickness and find thin enough ice to break through and surface. And they kept records. And while these are a different type of dataset with appropriate statistical techniques they can be combined with more modern records and supplement them further back in time. Not to mention merely asking the folks who live up there and can remember when they could get their boats out and/or walk on the ice.

And so they have this conclusion:

The broader dataset and longer time frame show that what had looked like a leveling off in the late 1990s was only temporary. Instead, adding another 12 years of data almost doubles the amount of ice loss.

And I’ll copy one of their plots just to show what fun it is to convert raw data into something meaningful:

The average annual sea ice thickness, in meters, for the central Arctic Ocean. Red dots are submarine records. The green line is the long-term trend.

Look at all that scatter (plenty of cherry picking deniers could do as they often do, pick false high and false low and draw a line, claiming it’s a regression line and statistically significant, i.e. the so-called pause in warming by picking the unusual year 1998 as a baseline (try 1997 or 1999 and see how different it looks).

So just for fun I thought I’d add a little graph of my own where I know what the underlying data is about:


Confusing, eh. I won’t bother you with the explanation (you can find it on my other blog) the data itself doesn’t show any pattern. It is the consolidation of thousands of individual datapoints that by definition fall along certain Y values (can’t be just any old values). Like electrons in quantum theory a new value can only rise (or fall) on one of those special Y values. Visually this doesn’t tell anything, but the regression lines, albeit with weak r^2 does indicate the overall gross effect – the data is rising. Now I’ve done lots of analysis on this data and know this is valid (although only weakly so) because I generated the data through an unnatural process. Nature is not so helpful as nature likes to throw tons of noise into data, plus instruments like to get spurious readings. The ONLY way one can make sense out of data is careful analysis with appropriate statistical techniques AND peer review to find real mistakes, not the stupid tricks deniers pull, which always turns out to be false.

Now as to the ice, for a while I was a bit worried hearing constant reports of less Arctic ice, wondering what that would do to low lying land. But, alas, duh, use some science here. Ice floats so whether it is melted into water or in ice the effect on sea level is the same (basic science Archimedes shouted Eureka about). So no big deal, huh – so Arctic else melts and the polar bears drown, who needed them anyway.

Well, let’s consider two different issues: 1) ice, you know, is kinda white and shiny and water, well, it’s kinda dark – so as a science quiz on a hot sunny day which would you rather be wearing? light clothing or dark. I think your experience and intuition tell you the answer. Well, the Earth is the same, open water absorbs more heat from the sun, ice reflects more heat into space. As ice melts we get hotter faster, otherwise known as a positive feedback loop. So it matters (not to mention all the methyl hydrates that might evaporate and release methane, an even worse greenhouse gas, or the nearby tundra tends to decay anaerobically and thus produce methane as well and there is a lot of biomass in the Arctic regions, and, 2) well, ice that is sitting on land, like the Greenland or most of Antarctic ice caps, when that melts, that does add water to the oceans and sea levels do rise, inducing yet more positive feedback loops. In other words, we’re screwed, possibly already by the heat we’ve already induced by burning carbon. Oh yeah, and more is just what we need (most deniers don’t try to claim CO2 levels aren’t rising and just broke through the threshold of 400).

So I hope Inhofe doofus owns so low-lying beach property he’ll get to watch get washed away (of course he’ll have government funded flood insurance for his loss, too bad for the rest of us). I actually find it amazing the deniers can sleep at night, knowing they’re condemning our children, certainly our grandchildren to a vastly changed (in a bad way) world just so the Kochs can make a few more bucks today. That deniers and esp. Willie (Wei-Hock Soon, who just overlooked disclosing all his junk science was paid for by secret grants from energy companies) can sleep at night, knowing they’re attempting to cover up the worst man-made disaster ever (makes the smoking coverup look like peewee league stuff). For a bought-and-paid-for Senator to lie, for PR shills of the Kochs and their various propaganda foundations to lie is one thing, but Smithsonian Institute you should be ashamed to be on the take too.

Anyway, just another day closer to doomsday, which of course the xtian right is loving as somehow they’re rationalize this as getting closer to the rapture (yeah, right, folks, when you’re hungry and thirsty and have heatstroke tell me how wonderful the end times are).


About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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