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Is Antarctica warming or cooling? Either way it proves global warming, according to climate modelers.

In the 1990s, predictions of a greenhouse-warmed Antarctic abounded. As time passed, though, problems surfaced. Research paper after paper indicated that, other than the tiny Antarctica peninsula, the continent was in fact cooling -- and had been doing so for many decades.

Skeptics pointed to this as a flaw in global warming theory. Not so fast, cried the climate modelers. They quickly spun a number of possible explanations, including ozone holes, ocean currents, and terrain that cut off Antarctica from the world's warming. As the certainty in the cooling trend grew, so did their statements, until they eventually began stating that they had predicted a cooling trend all along.

As the folks at RealClimate put it, "Doesn't this contradict [global warming]? Not at all, because a cold Antarctica is just what calculations predict… and have predicted for the past quarter century."

Cooling was thus cast as proof of global warming, not refutation. The media dutifully shifted their cameras from penguins to polar bears. The world was safe for Kyoto again.

But now a new paper has appeared, saying that Antarctica is warming after all. Written by Eric Steig and Drew Shindell, the paper purports to prove that past evidence of cooling was incorrect. But doesn't that contradict the models? Not if one can again rewrite history.

Speaking at a news conference today, Steig says, "We now see warming is taking place [in] accord with what models predict as a response to greenhouse gases."

In 2004, Shindell had something very different to say. That year he authored a paper that stated, "Surface temperatures [had] decreased significantly over most of Antarctica," Shindell added, "This cooling is consistent with circulation changes". He dedicated the rest of the paper to demonstrating that climate modeling "reproduces the vertical structure and seasonality of observed [cooling] trends."

Today, Shindell says, "It’s extremely difficult to think of any physical way that you could have increasing greenhouse gases not lead to warming at the Antarctic continent.". One can only wonder if he kept a straight face.

Even the New York Times is playing along, saying that cooling "ran counter to the forecasts of computer climate models". Memories are short.

The real story here isn't Antarctica. It's the willingness to rationalize model results to fit any and all scenarios. To the modelers, their results are consistent with. . . well, everything. Whether warmer or colder, flood or drought, more storms or less -- it's all proof that global warming is real and happening now.

This, of course, isn't real science. A true theory require something called falsifiability -- a set of conditions under which it can be disproven. So far, this is something the modelers have failed to give. It allows them to maintain a facade of unflappable certainty-- but it isn't science.

Among researchers who work with actual climate data, skepticism is climbing. The modelers at least remain faithful. But as of now, their predictions are rather like the gypsy fortune teller who tells you, "You will live a long life -- unless you die young."



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By Grabo on 1/22/2009 12:19:06 PM , Rating: 0
Firstly - Masher has for almost as long as I've visited DT shown articles and drawn various generalized and suspect conclusions and connections. 'Massive recovery' of total sea ice' or whatever was the case last?

Mick, meanwhile, isnt' really touching the subject anymore. In 'a tale of two writers' he tried to say both of them were becoming more neutral and balanced *Snort*, Masher may know a lot of things, but he cannot write neutrally and balanced to save his life.

Anyway, one gem in this article is :

"Among researchers who work with actual climate data, skepticism is climbing."

What? Climatologists are starting to discount what, exactly, are you trying to insinuate? Climate models? Not likely, they need them, it's part of their work. Global warming- not likely, see that poll...oh wait, it's critically flawed, just like everything else that says we might not want to let our Hummer idle all day every day.

From the IPCC in 2007:
http://traverse.npolar.no/eldre-nyheter/the-fourth... :>
"Recent studies in Greenland and Antarctica have uncovered our limited knowledge of how stable these ice sheets are in a global warming scenario. "

If Antarctica is warming sooner than expected? Should we disdainfully discount climate models alltogether? Because that is what masher appears to be insinuate. For me- it is a cause for concern, rather.

But hey, snort and smile down your nose at anything that seems to suggest we can affect the climate / global warming is happening / it's a bad thing (my god, NASA agrees, as I keep saying, but whoever cares?) and idle your hummer. I just hope you are a minority, no matter what you are trying to insinuate.


By clovell on 1/22/2009 1:48:55 PM , Rating: 2
Climate models? You mean the ones that can't predict both past and future results? It's a bit hard to trust something that isn't right.

NASA? Are those the same guys who perform undisclosed 'adjustments' of raw data prior to analysis? Maybe they should stick to putting guys on the moon.

As for the IPCC quote - let me just say that recent studies in New Orleans have uncovered our limited knowledge of how traffic patterns will be affected following a Super Bowl win by the Saints. Do you see how that kind of begs the question?


By Amiga500 on 1/22/2009 3:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
So who do you trust?

Those that happen to agree with your pre-conceived ideas?

D'oh!


By clovell on 1/22/2009 4:47:13 PM , Rating: 3
In a word, no.

It's a bit difficult for me to explain, because I don't feel that this is a black or white issue or situation. I'm always suspect of any scientist that displays an overwhelming amount of zeal - particularly when it is in support of one idea to the discredit of another. When such zeal is evident in the conclusions of such a scientists' work, it raises a flag. Science is to be dispassionate to some degree. I'm also suspect of folks who get carried away with what could happen rather than focusing more on what is happening.

Now, that's half of it. The other half is a bit more philosophical. I've always been more of a fan of the modest scientist. That vast majority that work in a lab or in the field all day who never apear in the evening newscast. Those men and women who spend their conclusions raising further questions regarding their work and elaborating on its potential shortcomings rather than rationalizing or hiding them. These are the people that patiently devote themselves to uncovering the underpinnings of our universe. I don't find that AGW doomsday-predicting scientists fit that bill. Rather than opening an honest dialogue, I find that they repeatedly claim to have the only answer.

In the end, I'm a statistician. I trust numbers insofar as I can trust their source. When 'adjustments' are made to raw data that are not documented and justified in the public domain, my trust is lost.


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke














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