Nous somme du soleil
-- Anderson/Howe, "Ritual"
It's sad that it's come to this, but I feel compelled to offer some guidance on the persistent allegation that the Earth is about to enter an ice age. It all started a few days ago, when Matt Drudge added a link to an English-language Pravda (?) story claiming that "a large and compelling body of evidence from within the field of climate science" points to the impending end of the current interglacial period. Never one to care what Drudge is linking to, I tried to ignore it. But then I started getting email.
The most depressing came from someone who was good enough to provide his real name, place of occupation and contact information, none of which I will share with you, except to note that he works in "ag weather forecasting and often get questions when I'm out at farm meetings regarding global warming" and that he and his employer seem to be legitimate. He wrote:
One of my contacts is a big fan of the Milankovitch cycles and says that these offer proof that global warming is not occurring. Do you have an opinion on the Milankovitch cycles and how they should be interpreted?
Given that the email arrived shortly after the Pravda story came to Drudge's attention, it's clear that we have a problem. What we need is a primer on Milankovitch cycles. So here goes.
Said cycles are regular changes in the Earth's orbital characteristics. Specifically, eccentricity (the degree to which the orbit around the sun deviates from a perfect circle), obliquity (the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the orbital plane) and precession (or wobble of the tilt). Wikipedia gives a good overview, although all you really need to know is these cycles have different periods of between 19,000 and 100,000 years. Add them up and the effect is a change in "insolation," or the mount of solar radiation that the Earth absorbs. This is because the Northern Hemisphere currently has most of the land.
Change the insolation factor, and the planetary ecosystem changes the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which then changes the temperature of the planet. (Note that just because the change in CO2 levels follows the orbital forcing, we are still left with the fact that increasing CO2 levels leads to a warmer planet.)
As a result, at some points in the collective triple cycle, much of the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere have tended to be covered with ice ;;;; as much as several kilometers thick in some parts. Hence, "ice ages." In between those phases of the cycles, we get warmer periods called interglacials. The continents only move relatively slowly, and barring an encounter with a passing black hole, the Earth's orbit isn't about to change, so we're stuck the the Milankovitch cycles for the foreseeable future.
Which means that, all other things being equal, we're headed for another ice age. The only question is when. (Actually, the link between Milankovitch cycles and climate change is not cut and dried, and there are many outstanding questions, but for the purposes of our inquiry, we'll leave it at that.) The Pravda story doesn't say exactly when, but its author, Gregory F. Fegel, believes that
Today we are again at the peak, and near to the end, of a warm interglacial, and the earth is now due to enter the next Ice Age. If we are lucky, we may have a few years to prepare for it.
But is Fegel's opinion shared by climatologists? It should come as no surprise, especially to anyone who has Googles the gentleman's name, to discover that the answer is no. As usual, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. If we delve deeper into our understanding, and lack thereof, of the Milankovitch-climate connection, we find that, among other things, not every interglacial lasts the same length of time. This makes sense because the three Milankovitch cycles don't reach minima and maxima at the same time very often.
An excellent "Perspectives" paper in Science from 2002 lays out some of the issues involved. In An Exceptionally Long Interglacial Ahead? Berger and Loutre discuss the fact that, while back in the 1970s it was thought the last two interglacials were 10,000 years long, that's not necessarily true. This is important, because, it's been about 10,000 or 11,000 years since the last ice age ended, and if the current interglacial is scheduled to last only 10,000 years, then we're in trouble.
But here's what we know now:
Some assumptions made 30 years ago have since been questioned. Past interglacials may have been longer than originally assumed. Some, including marine isotope stage 11 (MIS-11, 400,000 years ago), may have been warmer than at present. We are also increasingly aware of the intensification of the greenhouse effect by human activities. But even without human perturbation, future climate may not develop as in past interglacials because the forcings and mechanisms that produced these earlier warm periods may have been quite different from today's.
The small amplitude of future insolation variations is exceptional. One of the few past analogs occurred at about 400,000 years before the present, overlapping part of MIS-11. Then and now, very low eccentricity values coincided with the minima of the 400,000-year eccentricity cycle. Eccentricity will reach almost zero within the next 25,000 years, damping the variations of precession considerably.
Simulations with a two-dimensional climate model, forced with insolation and CO2 variations over the next 100,000 years, provide an insight into the possible consequences of this rare phenomenon. Most CO2 scenarios led to an exceptionally long interglacial from 5000 years before the present to 50,000 years from now ... with the next glacial maximum in 100,000 years. Only for CO2 concentrations less than 220 ppmv was an early entrance into glaciation simulated.
As you probably know, the current CO2 concentration is about 385 ppm. But that brings us to the really critical issue, the one where all other things are not equal. Far from predicting an imminent ice age, what we know about Milankovitch cycles and their effect on climate actually leads to the conclusion that, even if the current interglacial doesn't last several tens of thousands of years, humanity is on the brink of putting an end to the ice age cycle altogether. Berger and Loutre conclude that
Taking into account anthropogenic perturbations, we have studied further in which the CO2 concentration increases to up to 750 ppmv over the next 200 years, returning to natural levels by 1000 years from now. The results suggest that, under very small insolation variations, there is a threshold value of CO2 above which the Greenland Ice Sheet disappears. The climate system may take 50,000 years to assimilate the impacts of human activities during the early third millennium.
In this case, an "irreversible greenhouse effect" could become the most likely future climate.
NASA's James Hansen came to the same conclusion a while back.
So the next time anyone suggests to you that that we're headed for another ice age instead of an unbearably hot age, tell them to brush up on their Milankovitch cycles. And you can add that there never was a scientific consensus of an impending ice age. Just a single, one-page article in Newsweek.
A pretty good summary, only a minor quibble. IIRC Hansen has roughly similar amount of feedback from ice-area albedo effect, as CO2, i.e. as the ice sheets grow, atmospheric CO2 drops, the total forcing (change in earths heat budget), from the additional reflectivity is comparable in size to the change from the removal (of some of) the CO2.
How can it possibly be? http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090108_decemberstats.html
Oh, the humanity. My life's work is going down the drain. Quick, change the model once again so this looks predictable.
Does anyone hold any hope that Al and all the other climate inactivist will ever learn the difference between weather and climate, and that the U.S is not the whole globe?
I think it was two night ago I saw Lou Dobbs discussing a "Coming Ice Age?" - or something like that, I forget the exact graphic. He had on someone from the Heartland Institute and he was citing Dennis Avery and Fred Singer.
guys try to stick to the science (like james always does). heh heh heh
guys try to stick to the science (like james always does). heh heh heh
Sure. Can you please explain the difference between weather and climate? Why do I get the feeling that this sock puppet will go silent and never respond; while a different piece of laundry will start squawking, and like the moron he is, think that no will notice he never answered the question.
Day 48, and still no answer from the moron-in-residence on the difference between weather and climate.
hey dudes. great site if you're into that whole fantasy armageddon scenario role play thing. To each her own I guess. Does anyone know what the difference between climate and weather is? I been trying to learn myself that for 48 days and I just can't find anyone that's smart enough to tell me. Please help me. I so lost. -TTC
Barack he know the differinse between climate change and weathers. He going to fix the climate so it don't change. And he going to give me money and pay my health care like I deserve. That the difference. And remember the - don't be slient in my name. It's Ledasha. Remember it because thiings going to change here now with Barack and all.
You tell them Jimmy. All of OUR scientists are smart. All of the scientists THEY quote are stupid dummies. You tell them. We are morally superior and our scientists are smart than their scientists right? The debate is long over. WE should be in charge of THEIR lives and decisions. Am I right? yeppers. I truly am.
The very, very short version. The difference between both is the period over which you measure.
Should have been easy to find out if people actually bothered to do their own research.
Hey did anyone hear the joke about the blogger guy that believed in the religion of manmade global warming? sorry to disappoint, but you have to wait probably 6 or 12 or maybe even 24 more months before you can clearly get the punchline. It'll be hilarious though. Won't be long. (keg party at Nike bldg west tonite - everyone come over !!!!!)
To Trent the cowgirl: MEH. MEH MEH MEH MEH MEH MEH
Like I said another sock puppet will pop up and pretend nothing what so ever was asked of him. How ever predictable and boring.
I have a question for the Trent the cowgirl. If you loaned me $20, but I only took $10 for now. Then how much would we owe each other. Be careful. It's a really brilliant trick question. You have 48 days to figure out my answer.
James, a few small corrections:
The cycles do not change annualized insolation. They change its location and seasonality.
That the NH has the majority of the land doesn't affect how much insolation it receives, but does change the effect the insolation has.
Rather than insolation factor, you could say insolation pattern.
Pravda is written by communists. How can you NOT support Pravda? Pravda is right. Do you think they are paid by industrialist capitalist oil barons to say this???
They are communists James. Communists. They care about the greater good of the commune of humanity. They have to be right. How can you attack them like this? I don't get it.
Come on now ya'll. Manmade global warming mighta coulda woulda shoulda beenreal. Maybe. so how dumb would you feel if it maybe coulda shoulda mighta had actually been real like a hollywood movie??? just like santy clause and the easter bunny. uhmmm.. never mind. I grew up and have a brain now.. never mind.
Wow... Not in reference to the actual article, just to the amount of 'methane' from the cow* guy. Did the author like key your car or something? This site tends to have articles that I have to actually think about, followed by comments that expand that thinking thing... and no, I'm not a scientist, nor am I all that smart (although I'd put myself up against the cow-crowd)...
All the amazingly stupid comments are, well, amazing.. I mean really, you don't have a point, aren't trying to reason -- is it really that fun to see your 'name' on the Net? Don't you need to update your 'manifesto' on your MySpace page?
At any rate, nice article, James!
@Sock Suppet Professorahhh
I have a question for the Trent the cowgirl. If you loaned me $20, but I only took $10 for now. Then how much would we owe each other.
The whole question is predicated on you being a moron. A premise which unfortunately is true.
Be careful. It's a really brilliant trick question. You have 48 days to figure out my answer.
Oh, is that one starting to sting now is it? Good. At some point I hope you have the courage to find out the difference.
Another relevant paper is Archer and Ganopolski, "A movable trigger: Fossil fuel CO2 and the onset of the next glaciation".
The eccentricity cycle does change global annual insolation, but the seasonal/distributional effects of the Milankovitch cycles are more important to climate.
I been tryin to keep an open mind about this here warming debate you folks been havin. So I been trying to visualize them 385 parts-per-million of CO2 that is causing all this controversy. I ainât always been the deepest thinker, but I sure couldnât do it very well. Did you know, that if you put 385 yellow balls in a tube with 999,615 white balls, you can walk around that thing all day and you are lucky if you can even see one of them yellow balls! Thatâs right. Thatâs because they are each covered up with 2597 white balls, or other parts-per-million!
Aintâ that a gas?!!
Just wanted to let you know, that I am expanding my thinking here too.
um some commenters here make no sense at all... i cant even figure out if they understand and accept anthropogenic CO2 increase or argue against it?
Weather: local short term measures of air pressure, rainfall, temp, etc...
Climate: degree of variation of the above factors, over a longer time scale. (these can be mapped on a globe, generally correlate with latitude and altitude, called KÃ¶ppen classification.)
a hurricane is a weather phenomenon. the range of weather one would see on a tropical island is a climate.
(though said tropical island could also experience hurricane weather. new york city, while not a tropical climate, has also seen hurricane weather. another tropical climate, malaysia, rarely sees typhoons[the name for western pacific hurricanes in case you really dont know much about weather at all]) see the difference?
note: hurricanes happen to be more linked with tropical climates due to their necessity of warm ocean water on which to feed its strength (and "tropical" is characterized by warmer temperatures due to more direct and longer periods of sun exposure, thus heating their ocean waters more)
much of hydrology, weather, climate, geography, and many other factors all influence each other, thus how coastal areas generally have milder weather than continental interiors and how mountain ranges can cause deserts next to them.
"climate change" over "global warming":
the thermohaline circulation of the ocean GREATLY affects climates across the globe, as this is a main mechanism for transferring heat from the equator to higher latitudes. if the arctic melts, flushing huge amounts of freshwater into the salty ocean, it disrupts this flow (haline is for halite, also known as NaCl or salt. the salt has an affect on this current; therefore overloading it with freshwater is not so good) which would stop bringing heat towards europe. theories would show europe COOLING even though the melting of the arctic was brought upon by higher atmospheric CO2 levels and a WARMING in other parts of the earth.
difference between weather and climate.
and why "global warming" is not accurate and why the term "climate change" is used.
climates DO change, the globe doesnt necessarily ALL warm.
douglas is so wrong manmade global warming causes everything climate and weather related. it causes cooling due to heating and vice versa. it causes liberal idiocy and chackiness mostly though.
I asked Scientist Guy H. and he said itâs like this: you are in this castle, and you get thrown into the dungeon. The dungeon is your climate. On the days when I take you out and put hot coals in your mouth and burn your tongue and other body parts â that is like weather. It seems hotter for a time, but itâs nothing to get alarmed about, because the dungeon climate is still cold dank and dark. He said that the climate of the dungeon has been cooling for each of the last eight years, and not to be stupid and think that the dungeon is getting warmer, just because one day you got your bum burned by some hot coals â which is like weather. He said the hysteria about hurricane Katrina was a good example of a weather/heat anomaly in the generally cooling climate of the dungeon. That seemed pretty profound, so I thought Iâd pass it on to help Trent out.
The only way to stop global warming is to get the trolls to stop expelling methane over the discussion. Good luck with that.
I been tryin to keep an open mind about this here warming debate you folks been havin. So I been trying to visualize them 385 parts-per-million of CO2 that is causing all this controversy. I ainât always been the deepest thinker, but I sure couldnât do it very well. Did you know, that if you put 385 yellow balls in a tube with 999,615 white balls, you can walk around that thing all day and you are lucky if you can even see one of them yellow balls! Thatâs right. Thatâs because they are each covered up with 2597 white balls, or other parts-per-million!"
Right, and by the same reasoning a few ppm of diacetyl would be fine for you to breath. I wouldn't recommend you bet your health on such reasoning.
Anyone know the difference between football and futbol?
Pepe. I think football is played with an oblong leather ball, and futbol is played with a round leather ball. Both of these are ecologically good, because you have to kill a CO2-breathing/ methane-defecating livestock to get the leather. Now, the earth is somewhat oblong, and one of the reasons given for why computer climate models never work with any predictive accuracy, is that the modelers who write the code for these programs tend to base them on a round futbol-like earth instead of a more oblong football-like earth. But, other people just say those computer models are based on made-up bad corrupt limited data, and fail for that reason.
I always wondered what the difference was between a Mac and a PC. Maybe Trent the cowgirl will wow us on that one.
Go ahead and laugh about the effect of a couple ppm of CO2 plant food floating around. But witness the reality of the severity of the situation - USAir flight 1549 just crashed into the Hudson River because it ran into a flock of geese that were flying North instead of South because of...you gueseed it MANMADE GLOBAL WARMING. And it's just going to get worse. Be very afraid.
What if we can change the 385ppm of CO2. If you can generate reasonably free energy, then you can use a gas centrifuge to separate the CO2 and extract hydrogen from water by electrolysis, and after stripping the carbon from the CO2, one can then synthesize octane that can be sequestered or commercially sold. The coal fired power plant dreamers that think that they can sequester CO2 will never be succesful, because geothermal heat will expand the CO2 and cause fissures that will release it back to the atmosphere. They are doomed to total failure.
The windpower acolytes are also facing a rude awakening. No wind power investor, will ever see a return on his investment. Windmills are maintenance nightmares. The ongoing maintenance costs, will consume all revenue available. Many people rely on an aircraft propellor analogy. The maximum stress that an aircraft propellor sees, is at the end of the takeoff run, when the engine is at max RPM and the propellor is developing the maximum thrust and stress. The propellor is designed to withstand this maximum stress condition and therefore will not fail, and aircraft propellors do not fail. However a windmill must extract power from a 15 to 30 knot wind. when a 60 or 80 knot wind occurs, the stresses wil be 16 to 30 times greater, they vary as the square of the speed difference. A 160 knot tornado will produce over a hundred times the normal working stress. If it is designed for a worst case stress, that is less than the maximum that will be encountered, it will self destruct at higher speeds, or will be so heavy and cumbersome that it will not function at minimal wind speeds. Sooner or later the maximum stress will be encountered, and the windmill will shed blades and be destroyed. Solar cell arrays do not fare well in hailstorms, and are obstructed by settling dust, and are expensive, flea powered, and both require syschrounous converters to put power to the electricity distribution network. The only viable solution is parabolic mirrors that track the sun and heat stored water, that is circulated to a methane heat exchanger that powers a turbine, that drives a generator and gas centrifuge. The quantity of mirrors and water storage is such that power can be generated on a continuous basis.
Can anyone tell me the difference between cognac and brandy? Didn't think so. Losers.
Holy shit, James, you've drawn an adorable grab bag of trolls here. Reading the comments is like wading through a dumpster.
Keep up the good work, and don't let the morons get you down.
what comes around.......comes back around to the original instigator - doesn't it Jimmy boy asswipe??.... congratulations JIMMY. u.....you..... buttered your own bread....now lay down in it and take a dump in it and waller in your own crap. enjoy!
hrynyshyn rhymes with dyahearyaeha. at least in my opinion it does. it definitely looks the same and smells the same and reads the same and means the same. it's all s#$%%^T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Trent - what is the difference between linguini and spaghetti?
Arthur Schlesinger's quote comes to mind: "Anti-intellectualism has long been the anti-Semitism of the businessman"
Does any one know what the CO2 levels where in the last interglacial period which was 5 degrees colder than it is now???
It was around 180ppm.
Now what was the CO2 level for the past 2000 years of bliss global climate which we have enjoyed????
What is it now... 285ish ppm.
Notice any thing. Yes, 100ppm is the difference on both sides around the ideal 280ppm.
100ppm lower ment 5 degrees cooler! Does that mean 100ppm will mean 5 degrees hotter (globally).
It's probably TOO LATE now, we wont be able to mitigate against CATASTROPHE.
brrrrrrr. I checked the CO2 plant food concentration and the temp today brrrrrr. hoping for some ole fashioned god-made solar warming at some point. maybe 2009 temps will finally buck the downward temp cycle over the past 10 years and give the hysterical blievers something to again believe in. brrrrrrrrrrrrr. p.s. James - try to stick to the science bwahahahahahahhhah
I just wonder what James' next smart-aleck sarcastic dismissive pseudo-science post will be. I'm wure it will be just as briilliant as a decision to become a "biologist". Probably something about calling people names that don't stick to the science like he always does. yeah right. what a joke. MEH
We seem to have entered The Age of All Opinions Are Equal. Kind of an ice age or maybe a mental permafrost in terms of the intellectual climate...
In fields as diverse as science and biblical scholarship, people can't even agree on the facts anymore, generating their own special "experts" to tout whatever preconceived notions they favor. In this case, the widespread consensus among the best qualified scientists in this field is simply ignored by many.
We should all be like James. Cast the first stone. Be a smart aleck. Belittle all that disagree. Run polls about calling people names that have a different opinion. Slip in witty political and social commentary with every communication. Be anything but a true journalist (look up the code for a real journalist and then compare it to James' writing). Then cry FOUL ("stick to the science" hahahah) when others react in the same way 'cept 'more obvious'. Reality sux. Your history is well documented. I get it. You should break all your mirrors then you won't have to.
Hey now. Barack have only four year to save the world now that George Bush killed the world. It true. I read it in the UK Guardian and Hansen be beyond reproach cuz he never caught in a lie very many time before. I scared but Barack he can do it yes he can. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/18/jim-hansen-obama Remember my name be Ledasha, the - be silent.
Jarad - regarding the comment about 385 parts per million being insignificant.
The vast majority of our atmosphere is made from nitrogen and oxygen. Both of these gasses have essentially an insignificant impact on heat absorption. None the less, when you compare the temperature on Earth to the temperature on the Moon, two satellites that essentially receive the same amount of energy from the Sun, there is a massive difference. The temperature during the day on the Moon gets up to over 100 degrees C, while in the day drops to below -150C. The reason for the stability of Earth's climate and weather compared with the Moon's is entirely because of the water vapour and greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. If we removed those 385 yellow balls from our million balls then we would wipe out almost all life and see temperatures on Earth similar to the Moon. They may sound like a tiny portion but they're not.
And he going to give me money and pay my health care like I deserve.
Which explains why the US has lousy public health, infrastructure, public transport, etc. As I say to people whenever I get the opportunity: *nothing* in the USA makes sense until you understand the racial angle. It pervades every aspect of public discourse.
Remember: the guvermint is going to take all your money and give it to *those* people.
squonk squonk. I can be a global warming parrot too....At December's U.N. Global Warming conference in Poznan, Poland, 650 of the world's top climatologists stood up and said man-made global warming is a media generated myth without basis. Said climatologist Dr. David Gee, Chairman of the International Geological Congress, "For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?"
I asked myself, why would such obviously smart guy say such a ridiculous thing? But it turns out he's right.
The earth's temperature peaked in 1998. It's been falling ever since; it dropped dramatically in 2007 and got worse in 2008, when temperatures touched 1980 levels.
Meanwhile, the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center released conclusive satellite photos showing that Arctic ice is back to 1979 levels. What's more, measurements of Antarctic ice now show that its accumulation is up 5 percent since 1980.
In other words, during what was supposed to be massive global warming, the biggest chunks of ice on earth grew larger. Just as an aside, do you remember when the hole in the ozone layer was going to melt Antarctica? But don't worry, we're safe now, that was the nineties.
All you stupid liberals - be sure to ignore this too. Dr. Kunihiko, Chancellor of Japan's Institute of Science and Technology said this: "CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or the other ... every scientist knows this, but it doesn't pay to say so." Now why would a learned man say such a crazy thing?
This is where the looney left gets lost. Their mantra is atmospheric CO2 levels are escalating and this is unquestionably causing earth's temperature rise. But ask yourself -- if global temperatures are experiencing the biggest sustained drop in decades, while CO2 levels continue to rise -- how can it be true?
Ironically, in spite of being shown false, we must now pray for it. Because a massive study, just released by the Russian Government, contains overwhelming evidence that earth is on the verge of another Ice Age.
Based on core samples from Russia's Vostok Station in Antarctica, we now know earth's atmosphere and temperature for the last 420,000 years. This evidence suggests that the 12,000 years of warmth we call the Holocene period is over.
Apparently, we're headed into an ice age of about 100,000 years -- give or take. As for CO2 levels, core samples show conclusively they follow the earth's temperature rise, not lead it.
It turns out CO2 fluctuations follow the change in sea temperature. As water temperatures rise, oceans release additional dissolved CO2 -- like opening a warm brewsky.
To think, early last year, liberals suggested we spend 45 trillion dollars and give up five million jobs to fix global warming. But there is good news: now that we don't have to spend any of that money, we can give it all to the banks.
Please do a post about the inauguration and how Obama will save the world by regulating plant food and tanking our economy. And also don't forget to call non-believers some kind of witty belittling name. You know, be yoursel James.
Sticking to the science: "Minneapolis Star Tribune - from Lora Pabst: "All schools in the Bloomington School District will be closed today after state-required biodiesel fuel clogged in school buses Thursday morning and left dozens of students stranded in frigid weather, the district said late Thursday,". Stupid liberals again. Just like the alarmist AGW whacko crowd. All these "great" intentions but the unintended consequences. All that corn should have been kept for eating. Just another example.....
I like to sniff socks and play with puppets. In my underwear.
James, Thank you for making everyone more aware of the upcoming ice age. It is time we started preparing for it. Finally, you are doing a little bit of good public service. Now, stop calling people names and mind your manners.
This is a clear cut case of a return of the "Milankovitch cycles"-cycle, which last hit a peak in the 1970s. Last time is was a normal natural part of the scientific cycles. It's clear that this time it is being exacerbated anthropogenic denialism. It's unknown how long it will last, as feedback mechanisms are not currently well understood.
Wow. The comments on this post are really horrible. That is, when they are coherent...
I have been wondering about this for some time now. Is there any change to the, "(the degree to which the orbit around the sun deviates from a perfect circle), obliquity (the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the orbital plane) and precession (or wobble of the tilt)", due to the increase of kinetic energy into the CO2? Kind of the "spit ball" effect? I would imagine that the change in kinetic energy produces diferential pressure changes that create areas of potential energy that are different from norm. I am thinking these potentials would act as the "spit". Just curious. Thanks.