Monday, October 15, 2018

Responding to climate change deniers (or is it deny-ers?)

I was asked to respond to this article.

I've been wasting a lot of time on it over on FB, so I'm going to document my response.

This website called notrickzone has characterized a bunch of articles as saying that arctic  ice
has stabilized.  I have gone through these articles and find that, in many cases, notrickzone has mischaracterized what the article says.  In any case, none of these articles have concluded that the arctic ice or climate is stabilizing.  Instead, there may have been regions that were cooling -- or parts of years that were cooler.  There is always going to be some variation.  In other cases, notrickzone just completely missed the point of the article or section of the article.

This is my response to what notrickzone said about each article.
  • Just looked at item #1 -- completely mischaracterized. Notrickzone claims that the Lemos article says that ice loss has slowed. That's not what the abtract says at all. It says that the speed of ice movement in the glacier has slowed -- in other words it's under less pressure, possibly due to less ice. The abstract in fact implies just the opposite of what the notrickzone article claims it implies.
  • As to the An et al article, it says that two glaciers have been stable because they have retreated to a position where they are no longer in contact with the warming ocean, which presumably would otherwise be melting them. This describes two glaciers, not a trend.
  • As to the Kelley et al article, the authors completely accept the idea of climate change while explaining why certain individual glaciers remain stable.
  • The Tong et al article again talks about ice velocity slowing. To me that means that there is less ice pressure. To me that does not indicate that there is not warming. Notrickzone does not understand the difference between ice velocity and ice extent.
  • Ding et al totally accepts global warming. They say that a warming slowdown in the early 2000s lagged in reaching this particular arctic region. They don't say that warming has stopped. They say that there was a global slowdown (not stop) for a particular period of time, but warming was faster in this arctic region than in the rest of the world. This article does not support the idea that the arctic has stabilized at all. Notrickzone totally mischaracterizes this article as saying that there is cooling. It absolutely never says that at all.
  • Suvorov and Kitov: this is only an abstract of an article about a tree ring study. I can't see the whole article. The abstract says that summer temperatures have gone down in one region which affects tree growth. However, that does not mean that there is general cooling -- as trees mostly grow in summer. It could perfectly well be warmer in winter and not affect tree rings much.  Moreover an individual region is not dispositive of global warming.
  • With respect to Westergaard-Nielson, they say that the ocean has been warming, but from 2000-2015 there was a cooling away from the coast in Greenland; however, they do not expect that to be permanent. It should be noted that there is a 3 year publication lag here, so we don't know what has happened since.
  • The Kwon et al article again says that there is warming. It's just that there was unexpected cooling during the breeding season for these birds. That doesn't mean that the whole year was cooler -- just certain weeks. Notrickzone is again mischaracterizing the article.
  • Can't look at the Mallory article. It's not letting me in.
  • Levy et al do find cooling in one region. But local cooling does not rebut climate change.
  • Mikkelson et al: It's very hard to understand this article. It does not have an abstract or draw conclusions. It seems to be a research proposal. However, notrickzone adds a horizontal like to Mikkelson's graph to make it look stable, when that might not be the mathematical conclusion at all. 
  • Swart et al: again notrickzone mischaracterizes the article. The article says that the rate of change in the ice may be stable at times. It does not say that ice has stopped declining. Notrickzone does not understand the difference between velocity and position. The velocity of change can stabilize, but that does not mean that position is stabilized.
  • The Ronkainen seems to show that the ice extent of the entire Baltic Sea has decreased, while the thickness of the ice in one bay has been constant. They draw a distinction between extent and thickness. Again this is only one bay. It doesn't relate to the whole Baltic sea. There can always be local variations. Notrickzone is oversimplifying what is said here.
  • Stabeno et al are explaining that they had trouble taking some measurements because of a cooling in the southeast Bering Sea during 2007-2013, with some warming occurring thereafter. They do not conclude that there was not global warming. They are only looking at a small area where they were not able to take measurements.

So my interlocutor, who raised the notrickzone article as a topic, now points out that sea ice extent appears to be stable.  

Resulting in my wasting more time in the middle of the night reading articles on global warming.  Uggh.  Why do I get into this?  Here's my response.

First a handy page where you can find out about sea ice extent measurements:

This page allows you to specify times and locations of sea ice

It appears that Arctic sea ice is decreasing, while Antarctic sea ice is increasing. However, unlike the Arctic, the Antarctic also has land ice. 

Land ice is decreasing, tho apparently there is some controversy as to how to measure this.

 Still the consensus seems to be that total Antarctic ice mass (sea + land) is down. You should realize that the amount of ice in polar areas is not the only factor in sea level rise. Water expands when heated. Sea level rise can occur from heating of water alone. In fact, most predictions of sea level rising come from expansion of the water due to heating, not to melting of polar ice.

There does not appear to be any controversy regarding ocean temperatures rising.


My interlocutor also alleges that slowing of movement of glaciers means cooling -- and therefore notrickzone would be vindicated.

My response was:

With respect to speed of glaciers, this issue only affected some of the flaws in the articles cited by notrickzone — not all of the many points I addressed above. 

I just found an article about glacial movement 

As you will see, there are several factors in glacial movement. Warmer glaciers move faster, but so also do glaciers that are very heavy with new snow. Slowing of a glacier does not necessarily mean cooling. It could also mean less pressure from reduced ice pack.

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