AR4 and sea level

More exciting leaks from the AR4, and a tale of two newspapers. Which, I’m sad to say, results in a resounding victory for the US.

The rubbish story is Experts split over climate danger to Antarctica; Scientists challenge ‘cautious’ UN report; Robin McKie, science editor from the Observer. Its a perfect example of cr*p journalism whose purpose, presumably, is to provide a bit of knockabout to read, rather than to inform the readers of anything useful (am I expecting too much of the papers? maybe).

Rather more creditable is Melting ice means global warming report all wet, say some experts who warn it’ll be even worse from the IHT, which actually manages to talk to a few people and provides numbers.

The Observer says: Serious disagreement has broken out among scientists over a United Nations climate report’s contention that the world’s greatest wilderness – Antarctica – will be largely unaffected by rising world temperatures. And what does it provide to justify this assertion? Firstly a couple of unsourced quotes about it being misleading. Then:

But when it comes to certain types of climate change, especially those concerned with Antarctica, the report is fairly coy. ‘Current global studies project the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall,’ states the draft version of the report. But this vision is disputed. Last year, Dr Turner and colleagues, using records returned by Russian research balloons that were flown over the whole of Antarctica between 1971 and 2003, discovered that temperatures in the lowest level of the atmosphere over the continent have already risen by about 0.7C. Their paper, in Science, was published in March, too late for inclusion in the IPCC’s deliberation.

The problem with this is that it conflates two incommesurables. Or, compares apples with oranges, if you like. The tropospheric warming has (currently) little to do with surface temperature change, because… err, its in the mid-troposphere (“lowest level of the atmosphere” is probably there because their readers are too dumb to understand mid-troposphere; but its badly misleading because it implies near-sfc, and it isn’t. and while I’m nit-picking, this isn’t Russian sondes only, of course). There is no contradiction between mid-trop warming, and most of the surface remaining cold. In fact there would be no contradiction between *sfc* warming and ditto.

There is also a quote from Chris Rapley, but its clear from that he hasnt read the report either, so can only say something pretty bland.

Meanwhile, the IHT report is far more interesting because it actually contains a number of useful quotes from named people. It will be interesting to come back to this once the SPM is published, and even more once the full chapter is.


  1. #1 Eli Rabett

    The IHT (note it is the INTERNATIONAL Herald Tribune, not the US Herald Tribune, an expired paper, which expired because it was too reasonable, and my paper of choice when I was growing up, if for no other reason that the typeface, which they have maintained, was extremely easy to read, no small thing for an 8 year old) was about where I have been for the last year or so.

  2. #2 Lubos Motl

    The source of that piece is neither of the two Herald Tribunes but The Associated Press (AP) which is American with headquarters in NYC.

    Great to see, William, that it is possible to point out that a director of a Survey hasn’t read a report. It may however also be possible for him to show his employees that directors and leaders of the consensus don’t have to read any reports for them to be powerful. ;-)

  3. #3 Lubos Motl

    Oh, I see, Chris Rapley is the Gentleman who advocates a significant population reduction to fight climate change.

  4. #4 guthrie

    Seems sensible enough to me. In many western countries we are already voluntarily carrying that policy out, although for other reasons.
    Unless you wish to imply that he thinks mass murder and suicide are acceptable options. You wouldn’t be thinking that, would you?

  5. #5 Lubos Motl

    I don’t wish to imply anything but his ideas are perverse and contradict very basic principles that I hold dear. Moreover, he says very clearly – and correctly, given his assumption – that his policy must primarily be applied in the third world.