Archive for the ‘History’ Category


Some like to call it the Doomsday Glacier. The research results are probably open to a variety of interpretations, in terms of predictions. But we’re told that whatever is being observed at present is by no means exceptional, making attempts at attribution of its ever-changing condition to human activity even more problematic. Volcanic activity is an obvious confounding factor here.
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The Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica — about the size of Florida — has been an elephant in the room for scientists trying to make global sea level rise predictions, says Science Daily.

This massive ice stream is already in a phase of fast retreat (a “collapse” when viewed on geological timescales) leading to widespread concern about exactly how much, or how fast, it may give up its ice to the ocean.

The potential impact of Thwaites’ retreat is spine-chilling: a total loss of the glacier and surrounding icy basins could raise sea level from three to 10 feet.

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Drought in Europe


Another alarmist nothingburger not fit for human consumption. Next!
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A story published by Business Insider among other media outlets today cites the reappearance of “hunger stones” in dry European creek beds and riverbeds as evidence that climate change is responsible for the current drought in Europe.

This is false, says Climate Change Dispatch.

If anything, the fact that these stones have “reappeared” and have been uncovered multiple times in the past shows severe droughts have been common throughout European history.

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Frost fair


Natural climate variation has always been, and still is, a fact of life, regardless of minor changes to trace gases in the atmosphere.
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Extreme weather not just a modern phenomenon as study reveals how British towns experienced drastic climate during ‘Little Ice Age’
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Extreme weather caused by global warming is one of the biggest threats facing the world today, claims the Daily Telegraph.

However, a research project has thrown light on the catastrophic climate shift endured by England just a few centuries ago, which brought snowstorms that lasted weeks, flooding which washed away entire villages and winds that sank flotillas of ships.

From the 1500s to the 1700s, England went through an unusually cold and stormy period, nicknamed the Little Ice Age, which was possibly caused either by reduced activity from the sun, volcanic eruptions or atmospheric changes.

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Unravelling the assumptions and the strange cause/effect logic suggested by the article is a challenge here. They say they’re looking for “clues on how sensitive El Niño is to changes in climate”, but “if there’s another big El Niño, it’s going to be very hard to attribute it to a warming climate or to El Niño’s own internal variations.”
Why invent such a conundrum at all?

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The climate pattern El Niño varies over time to such a degree that scientists will have difficulty detecting signs that it is getting stronger with global warming, says Phys.org.

That’s the conclusion of a study led by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin that analyzed 9,000 years of Earth’s history.

The scientists drew on climate data contained within ancient corals and used one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers to conduct their research.

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Credit: Uwe Dedering @ Wikipedia


Another crater controversy ends as two different dating methods produced the same result.
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Danish and Swedish researchers have dated the enormous Hiawatha impact crater, a 31 km-wide asteroid crater buried under a kilometer of Greenlandic ice, says the University of Copenhagen.

The dating ends speculation that the asteroid impacted after the appearance of humans and opens up a new understanding of Earth’s evolution in the post-dinosaur era.

Ever since 2015, when researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s GLOBE Institute discovered the Hiawatha impact crater in northwestern Greenland, uncertainty about the crater’s age has been the subject of considerable speculation.

Could the asteroid have slammed into Earth as recently as 13,000 years ago, when humans had long populated the planet? Could its impact have catalyzed a nearly 1,000-year period of global cooling known as the Younger Dryas?

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Frost fair


The key phrases in this article could be: ‘Whatever its causes’ and ‘Average temperatures in the British Isles cooled by 2°C’. Climate science is unable to offer a specific explanation, although theories abound, but natural variation for whatever reasons is built-in and always will be. Quantifying it remains out of reach, but computer models are still supposed to be the answer to everything climate.
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Just as the UK was recovering from storms Eunice and Franklin, scientists of UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report warning of a future with spiraling weather extremes, fiercer storms, flash flooding, and wildfires, says The Conversation (via Singularity Hub).

This isn’t the first time that Britain has experienced drastic climate change, however. By the 16th and 17th centuries, northern Europe had left its medieval warm period and was languishing in what is sometimes called the little ice age.

Starting in the early 14th century, average temperatures in the British Isles cooled by 2°C, with similar anomalies recorded across Europe.

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The Endurance


After the search vessel nearly suffered the same fate, what was one of the world’s greatest undiscovered shipwrecks is identified on the Antarctic seafloor.
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Scientists have found and filmed one of the greatest ever undiscovered shipwrecks 107 years after it sank, reports BBC News.

The Endurance, the lost vessel of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, was found at the weekend at the bottom of the Weddell Sea.

The ship was crushed by sea-ice and sank in 1915, forcing Shackleton and his men to make an astonishing escape on foot and in small boats.

Video of the remains show Endurance to be in remarkable condition.

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Antarctica


The article says ‘The satellite measurements start in 1979’, but the USGS Landsat satellite project has been ‘imaging the Earth since 1972’. The researchers say in the abstract of their paper: ‘In stark contrast to the Arctic, there have been statistically significant positive trends in total Antarctic sea ice extent since 1979. However, the short and highly variable nature of observed Antarctic sea ice extent limits the ability to fully understand the historical context of these recent changes.’ The UK Met Office reported in October 2021: ‘Antarctic sea ice reached a maximum extent (to date) of 18.75 million sq km on 1st September 2021 (Figure 7), which is very close to the 1981-2010 average maximum extent of 18.70 million sq km.’
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A study led by Ohio University researchers shows that the increase of sea ice surrounding Antarctica since 1979 is a unique feature of Antarctic climate since 1905—an observation that paints a dramatic first-ever picture for weather and climate implications on the world’s southernmost continent, says Phys.org.

Dr. Ryan Fogt’s study, published today in Nature Climate Change, is the first to detail sea ice extent surrounding the entire continent though all four seasons over the last century.

Weather, especially winds and temperatures, contribute to sea ice changes. Fogt is professor of Geography in OHIO’s College of Arts and Sciences.

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Drought in Europe


Climate attribution i.e. supposed detection of human-caused factors, is in the eye of the beholder. This article concludes: ‘At the recent GWPF annual lecture Professor Steven Koonin of New York University said climate attribution studies were the scientific equivalent of being told you had won the lottery, after you had won the lottery.’
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A new study concludes that when placed into a long-term context recent drought events in Europe are within the range of natural variability and are not unprecedented over the last millennium, says Net Zero Watch.

The 2003 European heatwave and drought has a special place in the history of the study of our changing climate.

It was the first event that scientists attributed to human-induced climate change.

A paper by Stott et al published in Nature concluded, “Human influence has at least doubled the risk of a regional heatwave like the European Summer of 2003.”

This was later strengthened and the event was said to be directly caused by humans.

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Diagram showing solid-body rotation of the Earth with respect to a stationary spin axis due to true polar wander. [Credit: Wikipedia]

The researchers say their finding ‘challenges the notion that the spin axis has been largely stable over the past 100 million years.’
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We know that true polar wander (TPW) can occasionally tilt whole planets and moons relative to their axes, but it’s not entirely clear just how often this has happened to Earth, says ScienceAlert.

Now a new study presents evidence of one such tilting event that occurred around 84 million years ago – when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.

Researchers analyzed limestone samples from Italy, dating back to the Late Cretaceous period (100.5 to 65.5 million years ago), looking for evidence of shifts in the magnetic record that would point towards an occurrence of TPW.

Bacteria fossils trapped in the rock, forming chains of the mineral magnetite, offer some of the most convincing evidence yet of true polar wander in the Late Cretaceous – and it may help settle a scientific debate that’s been going on for decades.

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Looking ahead to the days when children won’t know what central heating was? Probably not, although there’s a nod towards such scenarios here. Their 64x CO2 ‘experiment’ seems way over the top, but it’s only a model.
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The distant past of Earth and potentially its future include extremely warm ‘hothouse’ climate states, but little is known about how the atmosphere of our planet behaves in such states, says Sci-News.

“If you were to look at a large patch of the deep tropics today, it’s always raining somewhere,” said Dr. Jacob Seeley, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University.

“But we found that in extremely warm climates, there could be multiple days with no rain anywhere over a huge part of the ocean.”

“Then, suddenly, a massive rainstorm would erupt over almost the entire domain, dumping a tremendous amount of rain. Then it would be quiet for a couple of days and repeat.”

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Fine summer weather [image credit: BBC]

How many millions of years might that be then? Two, apparently: CO2 level ‘is greater than at any time in at least the past 2 million years’. What about earlier times? The caption to the first photo in the article reads: ‘The near future may be similar to the mid-Pliocene warm period a few million years ago.’ So natural variation is confined to history, and/or dependent on volcanoes? The article asserts: ‘the last warm period between ice ages peaked about 125,000 years ago—in contrast to today, warmth at that time was driven not by CO₂, but by changes in Earth’s orbit and spin axis.’ Now orbital factors have also switched themselves off? And so it goes on: our climate models say…
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Many numbers are swirling around the climate negotiations at the UN climate summit in Glasgow, COP26, says Phys.org.

These include global warming targets of 1.5℃ and 2.0℃, recent warming of 1.1℃, remaining CO₂ budget of 400 billion tons, or current atmospheric CO₂ of 415 parts per million.

It’s often hard to grasp the significance of these numbers. But the study of ancient climates can give us an appreciation of their scale compared to what has occurred naturally in the past.

Our knowledge of ancient climate change also allows scientists to calibrate their models and therefore improve predictions of what the future may hold.

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The next year or two may give us a better idea of how solar cycle 25 is going to turn out, compared to other cycles.

Spaceweather.com

Oct. 21, 2021: Paolo Bardelli will never forget Oct. 21, 2001. “The sky over my hometown in Italy suddenly filled with intense red auroras,” he recalls. “This happened exactly 20 years ago today.”

Above: Red auroras over Tradate, Italy (latitude +45N), on Oct. 21, 2001. Photo credit: Cesare Guaita

A trip down memory lane: In 2001, Solar Cycle 23 was peaking and solar activity was very high. Strong flares were a daily occurance. On Oct. 19th, giant sunspot AR9661 erupted twice in quick succession, producing almost identical X1.6-class solar flares. The double blast hurled two bright CMEs toward Earth: CME #1, CME #2.

This is what the sun looked like that day:

The first CME took only two days to reach Earth. It was fast and potent. The storm cloud’s arrival on Oct. 21, 2001, ignited a severe geomagnetic storm (Kp=8). Solar wind speeds in the CME’s wake…

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drought-CA-july-2021

La Niña pending

Natural climate change has always been around, as this study indicates. Attempts at attribution of weather-related conditions like droughts to recent (in historical terms) fuel-burning activities are full of pitfalls and uncertainties.
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A team of researchers at Columbia University has shown that long-term droughts in southwestern parts of North America and in southwestern parts of South America have occurred at the same time on multiple occasions over the past 1,000 years coinciding with La Niña events, reports Phys.org.

In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the group describes how they used archival data and paleoclimate proxies (materials preserved in the geologic record that can be used to estimate climate conditions) to create climate models.

La Niña events are climatic occurrences that are kicked off when trade winds in the Pacific Ocean are pushed toward Asia. This results in a cooling effect in the waters off the coasts of North and South America. It pushes the jet stream northward just enough to create drier conditions across parts of both continents.

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Hurricane_Season

Image credit: sanibelrealestateguide.com

Quote: ‘No evidence’. Not more intense either. Reports claiming otherwise were greatly exaggerated or at least ill-informed, it seems (as well as being frequent, and intensely irritating). Climate alarmists will not be amused.
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Researchers affiliated with several institutions in the United States have determined that the increase in the number of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic over the past several years is not related to global warming, says The Conversation (via Phys.org).

They suggest instead, in their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, that it is simply reflective of natural variable weather patterns.

Over the past several decades, scientists studying satellite data have found that the number of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean has been increasing.

Many in the field have suggested that this is due to the impact of global warming.

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solarflare

Solar flare erupting from a sunspot [image credit: space.com]

Using trees as solar cycle and cosmic ray detectors here. The researchers say: ‘Notably, other evidence suggests that the sun was also undergoing a decades-long period of increasing activity.’ We may ask, with a view to the current era: how often does that happen, and why?
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The sun constantly emits a stream of energetic particles, some of which reach Earth, says Phys.org.

The density and energy of this stream form the basis of space weather, which can interfere with the operation of satellites and other spacecraft.

A key unresolved question in the field is the frequency with which the sun emits bursts of energetic particles strong enough to disable or destroy space-based electronics.

One promising avenue for determining the rate of such events is the dendrochronological record. This approach relies on the process by which a solar energetic particle (SEP) strikes the atmosphere, causing a chain reaction that results in the production of an atom of carbon-14.

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EarthspaceScientists previously proposed 26 million year cycles of mass extinctions, but this appears to correct the period. They suggest ‘cycles of activity in the Earth’s interior’ could be behind their new period, but then say: ‘However, similar cycles in the Earth’s orbit in space might also be pacing these events.’ Their study also says ‘a strong secondary signal occurs at a period 8.9 Myr’.
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Geologic activity on Earth appears to follow a 27.5-million-year cycle, giving the planet a ‘pulse,’ according to a new study published in the journal Geoscience Frontiers. Phys.org reporting.

“Many geologists believe that geological events are random over time. But our study provides statistical evidence for a common cycle, suggesting that these geologic events are correlated and not random,” said Michael Rampino, a geologist and professor in New York University’s Department of Biology, as well as the study’s lead author.

Over the past five decades, researchers have proposed cycles of major geological events—including volcanic activity and mass extinctions on land and sea—ranging from roughly 26 to 36 million years.

But early work on these correlations in the geological record was hampered by limitations in the age-dating of geologic events, which prevented scientists from conducting quantitative investigations.

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Walker_neutral

Generalized Walker Circulation (December-February) during ENSO-neutral conditions. Convection associated with rising branches of the Walker Circulation is found over the Maritime continent, northern South America, and eastern Africa. [Credit: NOAA Climate.gov — drawing by Fiona Martin]

El Niño and 100,000 year glaciation/climate cycles feature prominently in this research. The Walker circulation has been described as ENSO’s atmospheric buddy.
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While it is widely accepted that climate change drove the evolution of our species in Africa, the exact character of that climate change and its impacts are not well understood, says Phys.org.

Glacial-interglacial cycles strongly impact patterns of climate change in many parts of the world, and were also assumed to regulate environmental changes in Africa during the critical period of human evolution over the last ~1 million years.

The ecosystem changes driven by these glacial cycles are thought to have stimulated the evolution and dispersal of early humans.

A paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week challenges this view.

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Hindenburg

The LZ-129 Hindenburg, the famous Zeppelin, at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in 1936 [image credit: CIVIS TURDETANI / U.S. Department of the Navy, Bureau of Aeronautics]

As hydrogen is in the news these days as a potential ‘alternative’ fuel, heavily promoted by climate obsessives and others, this look back in history is vaguely topical and offers a fresh technical analysis based on experiments.
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On the evening of May 6, 1937, the largest aircraft ever built by mankind, a towering example of technological prowess, slipped through the stormy skies of New Jersey and prepared to land, says TechXplore.

The airship Hindenburg was nearing the end of a three-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from Frankfurt, Germany. It was a spectacle and a news event.

Onlookers and news crews gathered to watch the 800-foot-long behemoth touch down.

And then, in one horrifying half minute, it was all over. Flames erupted from the airship’s skin, fed by the flammable hydrogen gas that kept it aloft, and consumed the entire structure, ending 36 lives.

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speleothems

Six most common speleothems [image credit: Dave Bunnell / Under Earth Images @ Wikipedia]

The MIT research article this report is based on includes the phrase ‘carbon cycle conundrums’ in its title. In the discussion section we find this: ‘However, atmospheric CO2 and CH4 concentrations did not exceed Holocene levels during MIS 11, seemingly indicating that widespread ground thaw did not initiate a permafrost carbon feedback where increased atmospheric greenhouse gases and subsequent warming thaw permafrost that releases more greenhouse gases.’ If no ‘carbon feedback’, what does that say about the theories behind current climate paranoia?
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Nearly one quarter of the land in the Northern Hemisphere, amounting to some 9 million square miles, is layered with permafrost—soil, sediment, and rocks that are frozen solid for years at a time, says Phys.org.

Vast stretches of permafrost can be found in Alaska, Siberia, and the Canadian Arctic, where persistently freezing temperatures have kept carbon, in the form of decayed bits of plants and animals, locked in the ground.

Scientists estimate that more than 1,400 gigatons of carbon is trapped in the Earth’s permafrost.

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