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Unexpected warming in Antarctica (new atmospheric measurements)
BBC News ^ | 01/31/2006 | Jonathan Fildes

Posted on 03/31/2006 8:24:12 AM PST by cogitator

Winter air temperatures over Antarctica have risen by more than 2C in the last 30 years, a new study shows.

Research published in the US journal Science says the warming is seen across the whole of the continent and much of the Southern Ocean.

The study questions the reliability of current climate models that fail to simulate the temperature rise.

In addition, the scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) say the cause of the warming is not clear.

It could be linked to increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or natural variations in Antarctica's climate system.

Scientists are keen to understand the change in temperatures over the continent as the region holds enough water in its ice to raise sea levels by 60 metres.

Temperature rise

Temperature rises on parts of the surface of Antarctica have been seen for some time. The western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is known to have the largest annual warming seen anywhere in the world with increases of over 2.5C in the last 50 years.

Until now, very little was known about air temperatures above the vast continent.

The new work uses meteorological data collected from weather balloons launched in the Antarctic winters between 1971 and 2003. The scientists collected information from nine international research stations, mostly in the east of the continent.

The researchers were particularly interested in measurements taken in the middle troposphere, the layer of air at a height of about 5km (3 miles).

Their analysis shows that temperatures in the layer have risen by between 0.5 and 0.75C for each of the last three decades.

"It's the largest regional warming on Earth at this level," said Dr John Turner of BAS, one of the authors of the paper.

However a question remains over what is causing the change.

"There are arguments for and against this temperature rise being caused by greenhouse gases," Dr Turner told the BBC News website.

"The problem is trying to differentiate between what is happening naturally and what is happening because of man's activities".

Climate models

To try to resolve the conundrum, the BAS team compared the data with 20 simulations of the climate over the last century.

The models simulate rising levels of greenhouse gases and are used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to replicate past climates and make predictions for the future.

The team found that in all cases, the models failed to simulate the rise.

The models do not match the data

Dr Turner believes this could mean the temperature rise is a result of a natural fluctuation in Antarctica's climate or that current models are inadequate.

Dr Jeff Ridley, a climate scientist at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in the UK, agrees.

He believes it is likely that current climate models are unable to sufficiently recreate conditions on the continent.

"I've looked at all these models and seen that Antarctica is not very well modelled at all," he said. "So we shouldn't put too much confidence in what they tell us is going to happen there."

For example, observations show that in Antarctica winds flow from the South Pole out to the coast in winter. As they move they lose energy, causing heating and mixing the air above.

But in the climate models, simulating these air flows and the mixing is too complex. Instead the model is simplified with a cold layer at the surface that does not mix with the rest of the atmosphere.

One reason for this is the scant data that has been collected across the continent. Another is that the climate models are still not very good at simulating relatively small-scale regional processes.

Dr Ridley is trying to work out how to overcome problems like this in climate models, and believes the new data will help understanding of processes in Antarctica.

But he says we should not lose faith in the ability of current models to predict worldwide climate change.

"On a global scale, the processes we have in the models work well. We are confident we are able to predict the past, and globally we can predict climate change."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: antarctica; atmosphere; balloon; change; climate; climatechange; radiosonde; temperature
Back to the drawing (key)board.
1 posted on 03/31/2006 8:24:14 AM PST by cogitator
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To: cogitator
We are confident we are able to predict the past

LOL.

2 posted on 03/31/2006 8:27:00 AM PST by johniegrad
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To: cogitator
The giant West Antarctic ice sheet, long the subject of warnings about its continuous melting and collapse, is actually getting thicker in parts. However no-one is sure how long the change will last.

A new radar study shows that the ice sheet feeding the Ross Ice Streams is growing.

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn1806

3 posted on 03/31/2006 8:29:33 AM PST by Uncle Miltie (Why did Allah create free will and then demand submission? Wouldn't robots have been easier?)
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To: cogitator

The article doesn't support the "unexpected" part of the headline. Of course when the article is full of comments including "could be," "questions the reliability of," "not clear," etc. I don't know what headline I would have used.


4 posted on 03/31/2006 8:36:09 AM PST by FreePaul
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To: Brad Cloven

Any "scientific" measurement cited by the BBC to support an argument of global warming, is by definition, suspect.


5 posted on 03/31/2006 8:36:28 AM PST by kjo
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To: cogitator

I just saw a "Nova" that explained the reasons why John Franklin's British Navy expedition through the Nortwest Passage failed in 1847.

The main reason cited was that they became stuck in the pack ice that lasted for FIVE YEARS straight, contrary to what other explorers had found there previously. Ice cores revealed that the ice normally thawed and reformed through the seasons, but there was in 1847, and have been since, periods of abnormal ice behavior where it does not thaw-- or where it never forms completely.

Just thought that was of interest.


6 posted on 03/31/2006 8:39:43 AM PST by agooga (Less of the stuff that is bad for you / more of the stuff that is good for you.)
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To: cogitator
This is not a "Dead Planet" It has many cycles, some of which take thousands of years and others much shorter.

I hope this won't shock anyone, but some of those cycles affect climate in a variety of ways.

There will always be these occurrences and they will always be over-played by the media in accordance with their agenda.

7 posted on 03/31/2006 8:43:19 AM PST by capt. norm (If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything.)
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To: kjo
Any "scientific" measurement cited by the BBC to support an argument of global warming, is by definition, suspect.

Well, it's not just the BBC, this paper is getting decent play in many media outlets.

What I find really interesting is that this is a definite global warming conundrum. ON the one hand, atmospheric warming is predicted by most models. There has a been a long-standing, now fairly well resolved issue about the mismatch between model predictions and satellite measurements of atmospheric warming, but Antarctica was left out of it because there wasn't enough data.

Now, the Antarctic atmosphere is showing a possible warming signal but the models don't reproduce Antarctica well, so it isn't a step forward in terms of understanding the global situation, and therefore the observed data do not provide additional support for global warming models. That's why the scientists, properly, leave natural variability in the mix because additional work has to be done to attribute the cause.

8 posted on 03/31/2006 8:44:17 AM PST by cogitator
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To: cogitator

So, the Antartic has warmed 2.5 degrees. I note that nowhere in the whole article do they happen to mention the BASE TEMPERATURE. If it warms from -30C to -27.5C is just a bit different than if it warms from -2.5C to 0C.


9 posted on 03/31/2006 8:45:55 AM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: agooga
Two words..."sunspot activity."

I love it...the people who on one hand tell me that Man is nothing more than an insignificat blob of life that crawlled from the Primordial Soup are the same ones who are sure that Man is SO POWERFUL that in a hundred years we can alter the face of the planet. Pffffuuuph! We are seeing the effects of regular planetary alterations that have occurred since time began on a scale which we can bearly grasp.

10 posted on 03/31/2006 8:46:03 AM PST by 50sDad (ST3d: Real Star Trek 3d Chess: http://my.ohio.voyager.net/~abartmes/tactical.htm)
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To: cogitator

More could could could.


11 posted on 03/31/2006 8:51:08 AM PST by satchmodog9 (Most people stand on the tracks and never even hear the train coming)
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To: Wonder Warthog

There's more room for a measurable effect to happen when the range of variability is larger.


12 posted on 03/31/2006 8:54:04 AM PST by cogitator
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To: cogitator

One of the strongest arguments against the models is that they fail to predict the past when historical data are used.

This is just another demonstration of that problem. And, for them now to make such an announcement concerning 50 year old data that has already been studied as climatology is simply to get another headline.


13 posted on 03/31/2006 8:58:24 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: johniegrad

DARN IT! You beat me to it on POST #2!!!!!!!!!!

LOL...that just jumped out and hit me in the face!


14 posted on 03/31/2006 8:59:32 AM PST by rlmorel ("Innocence seldom utters outraged shrieks. Guilt does." Whittaker Chambers)
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To: cogitator

If we really wanted to get a profile of greenhouse gases, we could put a CO2 detector in the instrument package that goes up with every radiosonde and just add another trace to the Skew-T.


15 posted on 03/31/2006 9:02:04 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: FreePaul

"Another Alarmist Press Release"


16 posted on 03/31/2006 9:03:28 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: Old Professer
If we really wanted to get a profile of greenhouse gases, we could put a CO2 detector in the instrument package that goes up with every radiosonde and just add another trace to the Skew-T.

I don't think there'd be much variability with altitude in a CO2 profile.

17 posted on 03/31/2006 9:03:41 AM PST by cogitator
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To: johniegrad
...We are confident we are able to predict the past...

Not to jump tracks, but, this is a similar sentiment conveyed by advocates of another "scientific theory".

18 posted on 03/31/2006 9:08:55 AM PST by KMJames
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To: cogitator

Based on?


19 posted on 03/31/2006 9:12:38 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: cogitator

This problem of warming throughout the universe has got to stop. Everyone..quick...run outside and point your water hose toward the sun. Sheeesh.


20 posted on 03/31/2006 9:15:30 AM PST by gathersnomoss
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To: Old Professer
Based on?

CO2 is a well-mixed gas in the atmosphere. There is variability right at the surface of the ocean, for example, where there is air-sea gas exchange, but once you're 500 meters over it there's not much difference. Now, they do CO2 measurements on Mauna Loa because it samples the global atmospheric circulation; the fact that they see the basic seasonal variability cycle every year indicates that CO2 must mix quickly. There might a bit of hemispheric variability, of course.

21 posted on 03/31/2006 10:58:53 AM PST by cogitator
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To: agooga

I think it was PBS's "Secrets of The Dead" that had an episode on the Scott expedition.
It was based on a book that uncovered Scott's reliance on his very qualified
meterologist.
Turns out the meterologist did years of Antartic observations...but didn't
know that about one of every 15 years there is a temperature inversion.
This is what caught Scott's group in that vise-grip of much colder than
normal temps.


22 posted on 03/31/2006 11:12:40 AM PST by VOA
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To: cogitator

Why do all these climate reports sound the same but, different? Same source?


23 posted on 03/31/2006 11:35:05 AM PST by wolfcreek
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To: cogitator
"There's more room for a measurable effect to happen when the range of variability is larger."

Said comment has nothing whatsoever to do with my question. What was the base temperature for the "warming". And yes, it DOES make a difference.

24 posted on 03/31/2006 5:20:10 PM PST by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: Wonder Warthog
What was the base temperature for the "warming".

The paper doesn't present a "base" temperature. It only reports trends. My guess would be that it's pretty darned cold (being that this is temperatures at significant altitude over Antarctica in winter).

I also looked at the stuff plotted at junkscience.com (DaveLoneRanger asked me to do this). The plots are also anomalies and not actually the temperature values. To get the actual values would require digging into the actual data sets, and I don't know how to do that, nor do I have the time to try. If someone has a lot of time on their hands...

25 posted on 04/03/2006 8:49:42 AM PDT by cogitator
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