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Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Antarctic is Warming Faster than any Place on Earth?

Oh the humanity!  I noticed that yet again, Dr. Eric Steig of the University of Washington, has mentioned that The Heat is on in the West Antarctic.  Dr. Steig, the genius behind the previous Nature article on Antarctic warming that got a warm reception until the methodology was challenged by a bunch of unscientific statisticians led by O'Donnell and master of out of context debate, still seems to believe that his version of the scientific method is sound.  If you happen to have some spare time and need a laugh, visit Real Climate and Google Antarctic.

Above is the temperature data for the Amundsen Scott Antarctic station temperature anomaly.  In blue is the actual anomaly and in orange is the anomaly adjusted to zero C degrees.  Since the average annual temperature average is less that -30C degrees, it doesn't take much energy to produce large swings in temperature.  If is pick just the right smoothing and the perfect start time, I could pull a Steig and have a warming Antarctic.  If I cherry pick a paleo reconstruction that happens to "jive" with my agenda, I could show that the Antarctic is warming or cooling or staying the same.

What I have mentioned in the past, is that the Antarctic "trends" tend to be out of phase with "global" trends.  Starting in roughly 1987 to 2000, when the "globe" experienced the most recent warming, the Amundsen Scott temperatures appear to have trended cooler.  Starting in roughly 2000, when the "global" temperature trends appears to have paused, the Antarctic appears to have warmed.

It would take some pretty creative math to "Steig" a trend consistent with atmospheric CO2 concentration increase.  Where there is a will though, there is a way.  So for this month at least, climate "science" is pretty sure that the Antarctic, at least in the west, is warming faster than any place on Earth.  :)


  1. Steig is master of out-of-context debate?

  2. I take it you didn't follow the link. Andy Revkin did an interview with roger Pielke Jr. Steig took two sentence fragments and declare wrong! wrong! wrong! :)

    It was hilarious really and Lucia did a fine post on the issue.

    Then following the Steig et al. Antarctic warming death spiral was entertaining. I laughed when I first saw the original error bars, then Hu McCulloch noted a mistake in the error bars. Steig corrected the error after "discovering it" independently of McCulloch, of course. Then O'Donnell, Lewis, McIntyre and Condon publish a paper finding faults with the Steig et al. methods, Mann was a co-author, BTW.

    Now, using "novel" methods and ice hole paleo for the current era to tweak missing instrumental data, once again the West Antarctic is warming :)

  3. I did remember the earlier discussions as well as those at Air Vent. The present outrage really does defy belief.

    I confess that my ignorance of statistics and relative innumeracy prevent better comprehension of some of these discussions.

    My father-in-law was convinced at MIT that there could be no comprehension of complex processes without the "numbers." I'm not so sure.

    I would like to believe that weaknesses in some of these papers can be detected at the junior high school level - the filling the gaps in the single sometimes defective sensor record and extrapolating that to inferring the doom of mankind.

    Are you spending a few days a week at Pancho's?

  4. j ferguson, Starting next week, Thursdays and Fridays at Panchos.

    On the numbers, I am not big on statistics. Stats are just one tool in the box and a difficult tool to master. There are generally several approaches that will produce reasonable results. For the Antarctic, a simple interpolation of the available data will get you in the ballpark. From there you can "fine tune" with more sophisticated methods and compare methods, like O'Donnell et al.

    The tough part is the smearing. Since there is a decrease in temperature as you approach the poles, not allowing for that decrease will produce higher average temperatures by smearing the more abundant data near the coast. Even the snow in the ice core probably was blown inland and is more likely an indication of wind patterns than temperature.