PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet TERRA 14/2003 -  26 March 2003
-----------------------------------

 
"Reliable information for the public about changes in the Arctic's climate is hard to come by. Different newspaper and media reports, even when quoting the same scientific studies, can tell different stories. Worse, reports about the state of the Arctic give contradictory pictures of what has actually happened to the Arctic's sea ice, ocean, air pressure and temperature."
--Willie Soon, Tech Central Station, 24 March 2003


(1) IS THE ARCTIC MELTING?
    Tech Central Station, 24 March 2003

(2) RECORD MINIMUM ARCTIC SEA ICE IN 2002
    CO2 Science Magazine, 23 March 2003

(3) LAKE TEMPERATURES, WATER LEVELS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
    CO2 Science Magazine, 26 March 2003

(4) EARTH'S TEMPERATURE RESPONSE TO VARIATIONS IN SOLAR IRRADIANCE
    CO2 Science Magazine, 26 March 2003

(5) GEOCRYOLOGY IMPORTANT TOOL IN CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(6) RESPONSE TO SONJA BOEHMER-CHRISTIANSEN: NATURAL DETERMINISM VERSUS HUMAN "FREE WILL"
    Andrew Glikson <geospec@webone.com.au>

(7) WHY IS IT GETTING COLDER DURING GLOBAL WARMING?
    James Marusek <tunga@custom.net>


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(1) IS THE ARCTIC MELTING?

>From Tech Central Station, 24 March 2003
http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/envirowrapper.jsp?PID=1051-450&CID=1051-032403B

By Willie Soon
 
Reliable information for the public about changes in the Arctic's climate is hard to come by. Different newspaper and media reports, even when quoting the same scientific studies, can tell different stories. Worse, reports about the state of the Arctic give contradictory pictures of what has actually happened to the Arctic's sea ice, ocean, air pressure and temperature.

Such reporting - including the claim that the positive swing of the normal Arctic atmospheric oscillation may have intensified during the 1990s - creates the notion that something fundamental has changed, when there is little evidence to that effect.

The Arctic has often been used by advocates of the hypothesis of anthropogenic - man-made - climate change as a poster child for human-induced global warming. So, an accurate assessment on the state of the Arctic climate variation is important.

The aim of this article is to eliminate some of the confusion about such news media sensations by doing three things:

* Provide the most up-to-date and reliable information about Arctic climate, such as air temperature, for the past 125 years as a benchmark in this Tech Central Station CHARTiFACT forum.

* Describe the actual observed changes in temperature and explain some common pitfalls in drawing sweeping conclusions based on either short or specific regional records.

* Discuss the implications of the observed temperature trends in terms of the often imprecisely argued claim that carbon dioxide- (CO2 -) induced global warming is amplifying warming in the polar region.

The Basic Data

Figure 1: http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/envirowrapper.jsp?PID=1051-450&CID=1051-032403B
Arctic-wide temperature anomalies (in C) from 1875-2001 relative to the mean of 1961-1990 interval, with the number of stations producing the temperature set in each decade. (Courtesy of Igor Polyakov of IARC at the University of Alaska)

Figure 1 shows the annual time series of the Arctic surface air temperature from 1875 to 2001 as it was recently reconstructed by Igor Polyakov and colleagues at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) in Fairbanks, Alaska and the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The sources of this new temperature record include measurements from land stations, floating buoys on the ocean and even drifting stations on sea ice. Detailed documentations of the methodology and spatial sampling strategy had been published in papers that appear in Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Climate and the American Geophysical Union's EOS.

Figure 2: http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/envirowrapper.jsp?PID=1051-450&CID=1051-032403B
Distribution of surface air temperature stations on land, ocean or sea-ice for the composite Arctic-wide temperature record in Figure 1. (Courtesy of Igor Polyakov of IARC at the University of Alaska)

Figure 2 shows you all the locations poleward of about 62N (with the Arctic circle defined as the zonal ring around 66N) where the air temperatures are sampled to produce the Arctic-wide temperature history shown in Figure 1.

What's Happening?

So what do we see in Figure 1?

First note that the maximum annual Arctic-wide temperature anomaly - the difference from the mean temperature for 1961-90 as plotted by the blue dash line - reached a maximum of 1.7Celsius in 1938. That compares with a maximum of 1.5C in 2000.

Next, notice the blue solid curvy line. It gives a 6-year running average of the annual temperature anomalies plotted as a dotted blue line. This line helps focus on the climatic changes of longer time-scales, instead of year-to-year weather "noise" in the dash-line.

Now, for a more interesting part: Just for the sake of discussion, contrast two views of the record. Compare the red curve that was drawn by a straight line from 1875 to 2001 versus the four green lines drawn over four intervals in Figure 1.

The red curve describes the longest-term temperature variation resolvable in this Arctic record, and it shows a change over the period of about 1C per century.

What does the trend mean? Some people take it and argue, "See, the Arctic climate is warming; it's warmer today than 125 years ago. As CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels has increased during that period, that likely has contributed to that warming."

But there's another way to look at the record than a relatively straight line. That is to consider multi-decadal shifts of the temperature, as seen in the four green lines, from a cooler condition in 1875-1920, to a warmer condition in the period 1921-1955, then returning to a cooler condition for the years 1956-1985 and finally a warmer phase from the mid-to-late 1980s onward.

This latter view is considered more natural. More than that, it is also considered more consistent with our current understanding of how the sea ice, ocean temperature, salinity and circulation, air circulation and temperature, as well as many important land processes, including river runoff and snow, interact and produce the responses of the Arctic climate system.

>From this perspective, one finds an Arctic climate that has a preferred tendency to produce variability that oscillates in decadal and multi-decadal periods. Several careful analyses of the sea ice changes over the Arctic also point to the dominant role played by atmospheric circulation. That component affecting the climate appears to be locked in a 50-80 year cycle - a natural see-saw - that is both large in amplitude and persistent in its timing. During these 50-80 years cycle, certain regions in the Eastern Arctic will warm a lot (as in the 1990s), while parts in the Western Arctic will cool, and vice-versa with the alternating phases of the oscillation.

Yet what should we make of the 100-plus years' warming trend marked by the red dash line in Figure 1? Is this really indicative of effects from the global warming caused by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere? To examine that question more precisely, we need some additional information.

Claiming Climate 'Trends'

Figure 3: Sensitivity of the temperature trend values (in C per year) for Arctic (green) and Northern-Hemisphere (red) records on the length of fitting intervals starting from 17 years (1985-2001; rightmost) to 126 years (1875-2001; leftmost). (Courtesy of Igor Polyakov of IARC at the University of Alaska)

The green solid line in Figure 3 shows how one can get different answers for the trend in the Arctic temperature record depending upon the starting and end points for deriving that trend. The same is true for the Northern Hemisphere-wide temperature record, in the red solid line. Depending on how you plot the trend, it is either alarming or not, even looking at the same data.

The chart clearly shows an alarming warming rate for the Arctic - as large as 4 to 6C per century (or 0.04 to 0.06C per year) - seems to have occurred in the last 20 to 30 years. And, in fact, an example of such an alarming conclusion, drawn from very short climatic records, can be found in a Nov. 27, 2002, NASA/State Department-related press release detecting a change at the very alarming rate of 1.2C per decade (or 12C per century) for sea-ice temperature over the Arctic. This large rate of warming was implicated for the rapidly declining perennial sea-ice cover.

But there's a problem with drawing such conclusions. The temperature trend - and the perennial sea-ice trend - is very unreliable. The reason: It was based only upon the climate record from 1981-2000. That is a mere 19 years. If the temperature trend was taken for 60 to 80 years back, we would see that the trend for Arctic temperatures was actually negative. It is only a modestly positive change annually over the last 120 years.

Figure 3, in this light, becomes an important reminder of the danger of drawing a climatic trend line based on short records. And it also provides a cautionary tale for those who would attribute Arctic climate change in recent decades to the burning of fossil fuels.

The association of the observed warming trend of about 1C over 100-years for the Arctic temperature, as seen in Figure 1, to CO2-global warming is implausible for two important reasons.

First, 70 to 80 percent of the rise of man-made CO2 in the air to date came after the 1960s. Yet, Figure 1 clearly shows that a large part of the 100-year warming trend was contributed by a pre-1960s increase in temperature. That was at a time when the air's CO2 content was still low.

Secondly, and this is a somewhat surprising fact for scientists, when the long-term temperature trend was calculated in Figure 3 using at least the 100-year long record, both the Arctic- and Northern-Hemisphere-wide warming trends have similar values.

What is so surprising about that? Well, it contradicts all the known predictions in the amplification of the polar warming. Those predictions from climate models that consider anthropogenic greenhouse gases - primarily CO2 from burning fossil fuels - to be forcing global warming say that the Arctic should warm by 1.5 to 4.5 times the global mean warming. And that is not happening.

And there's no explanation for why it is not. One explanation typically invoked to argue why there has been less rapid warming in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere (Asia, Europe and America) in previous decades is so-called man-made sulfate aerosols - soot and smog - put out by industry provided a cooling factor. (Don't ask why or how the greenhouse-warming promoters are so sure of this aerosol cooling possibility while considering only one particular kind of aerosols out of many more.) But that effect is expected to be minimal, and it isn't present in the remote Arctic, thus offering no explanation to the lack of warming amplification there.

The complaint the "Arctic is melting" as a result of fossil fuel use thus has no basis from the climate records of that region and that for the Northern Hemisphere. So, it is no wonder that reports purporting to prove that are confusing and contradictory.

Copyright 2003, Tech Central Station

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(2) RECORD MINIMUM ARCTIC SEA ICE IN 2002

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 23 March 2003
http://www.co2science.org/journal/2003/v6n13c2.htm

Reference
Serreze, M.C., Maslanik, J.A., Scambos, T.A., Fetterer, F., Stroeve, J., Knowles, K., Fowler, C., Drobot, S., Barry, R.G. and Haran, T.M. 2003. A record minimum arctic sea ice extent and area in 2002.  Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2002GL016406

What was done
The authors analyzed the history of satellite passive microwave sea ice records that first became available in October of 1978 to derive trends in Arctic sea ice extent and area over the past quarter-century.

What was learned
They discovered a general downward trend in Arctic sea ice "during the passive microwave era" that culminated with record minimums for both sea ice extent and area in 2002.

What it means
The authors correctly report that state-of-the-art climate models predict Arctic sea ice extent and area will decline as the climate warms, noting that "simulations of the past 30 years agree reasonably well with observations in terms of total ice area, lending some confidence to projections of a ~20% reduction in annual mean sea ice extent by the year 2050 [our italics]."

We disagree with the italicized portion of this statement. Although the first part of the quotation may well be correct, a longer view of the temperature history of the Arctic reveals that the warming of the past 30 years, which produced the reduction in sea ice documented in this paper, was preceded by an equally long period of cooling from a level of Arctic warmth that was equally as great as that of today (Polyakov et al., 2002a, 2002b), which was preceded by an even more dramatic warming than that of the past 30 years.

The climate of the Arctic is characterized by multi-decadal fluctuations that provide no support whatsoever for predictions of continued sea ice reductions over the next half-century.  If anything, the temperature record of the past 125 years suggests that just the opposite could well occur.  It's been approximately 65 years since the last peak in Arctic temperature, for example, and if it takes that long for the next peak to occur, it will likely be cooler than it is now in 2050, and it will have been cooler for most of the intervening years.  Hence, projecting forward from the peak warmth of the present, which history suggests will end rather soon, it would be much more logical to expect an increase in the extent and area of Arctic sea ice in 2050 than a decrease.

References
Polyakov, I., Akasofu, S-I., Bhatt, U., Colony, R., Ikeda, M., Makshtas, A., Swingley, C., Walsh, D. and Walsh, J.  2002a.  Trends and variations in Arctic climate system.  EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 83: 547-548.

Polyakov, I.V., Alekseev, G.V., Bekryaev, R.V., Bhatt, U., Colony, R.L., Johnson, M.A., Karklin, V., Makshtas, A.P., Walsh, D. and Yulin, A.V.  2002b.  Observationally based assessment of polar amplification of global warming.  Geophysical Research Letters 29: 10.1029/2001GL011111.

Copyright 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 

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(3) LAKE TEMPERATURES, WATER LEVELS AND CLIMATE CHANGE

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 26 March 2003
http://www.co2science.org/subject/l/summaries/lakes.htm

How have earth's lakes responded to what climate alarmists call the unprecedented warming of the past century (relative to the prior 900 years of the past millennium)? In this summary, we review some of the things that have been learned from historical and proxy records of lake temperatures and water levels from different parts of the globe.

Battarbee et al. (2002) report the results of several studies that employed a variety of palaeolimnological techniques to reconstruct the temperature histories of seven remote mountain lakes in Europe over the past 200 years. The lakes were all above the local timber line, their catchments were not affected by human disturbances, and most were far from anthropogenic pollution sources. From their investigation, the authors learned that the seven sites experienced either general cooling or no trend in temperature during the nineteenth century. During the twentieth century, on the other hand, the authors report that "all sites show a warming trend during the first few decades of the century," which peaks between 1930 and 1950. Thereafter, all of the sites again depict cooling, as well as a steep warming over the last ten to twenty years of the record. However, for only two of the seven sites does the final warming lead to warmer temperatures than those of the 1930s and 40s. Of the remaining five sites, three of them end up being cooler than they were prior to mid-century, while two of them end up exhibiting the same temperature.

Similar findings were reported by Agusti-Panareda and Thompson (2002), who applied multiple regression analysis to twenty monthly lowland air temperature series for the period 1781-1997 AD and nine monthly upland air temperature series of at least 30 years duration to develop 216-year air temperature histories for eleven remote mountain lakes in Europe, including the seven lakes mentioned in the preceding paragraph. What they found was that "during the period 1801-1900, the western European lakes show no significant trend whereas annual mean air temperatures at the eastern European lakes decrease significantly." For the period 1901-1997, on the other hand, they note there is a warming trend "at all but the Fennoscandian lakes."

Even more interesting is what one learns when the 20 years from 1781-1801 are included in the analysis. In terms of sliding decadal averages, four of the lakes depict net increases in air temperature over the 216-year period, three of them exhibit no net change, and four of them actually depict net cooling. Hence, if close to a dozen European alpine and arctic lakes are no warmer now than they were during a short period of time at the "beginning of the end" of the Little Ice Age, when atmospheric CO2 concentrations were 90 ppm less than they are nowadays, there is little reason to presume that a similar period of modern warmth need be caused by the CO2 increase we have experienced in the interim.

In another study of both lakes and rivers in the Baltic region, Yoo and D'Odorico (2002) looked for evidence of temperature change among the dates of annual ice break-up at the termination of the ice season. The results of their analysis demonstrated that a dramatic change in the dates of ice break-up (towards earlier thaw) occurred between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Describing these changes in more detail, Yoo and D'Odorico note that "the strongest long-term climatic changes nowadays observable in the Finnish cryophenological records started in the second half of the 19th century," which is also when the temperature record of Esper et al. (2002) shows the demise of the Little Ice Age to have begun in earnest.  In addition, they report that "the shift in the ice break-up dates terminated before [our italics] 1950," in harmony with our view of the temperature history of the globe, i.e., that there has been little net warming since the 1930s.

With respect to changes in the levels of lakes, Nicholson and Yin (2001) detected "two starkly contrasting climatic episodes" in a study of ten major African lakes since the late 1700s.  The first episode, which began sometime prior to 1800 and was characteristic of Little Ice Age conditions, was one of "drought and desiccation throughout Africa."  This arid episode, which was most extreme during the 1820s and 30s, was accompanied by extremely low lake levels.  As the authors describe it, "Lake Naivash was reduced to a puddle ... Lake Chad was desiccated ... Lake Malawi was so low that local inhabitants traversed dry land where a deep lake now resides ... Lake Rukwa [was] completely desiccated ... Lake Chilwa, at its southern end, was very low and nearby Lake Chiuta almost dried up."  Throughout this harsh period, "intense droughts were ubiquitous."  Some, in fact, were "long and severe enough to force the migration of peoples and create warfare among various tribes."

As the Little Ice Age's grip on the world began to loosen in the mid to latter part of the 1800s, however, things began to change for the better for most of the African continent as lake levels began to rise. The authors report that "semi-arid regions of Mauritania and Mali experienced agricultural prosperity and abundant harvests; floods of the Niger and Senegal Rivers were continually high; and wheat was grown in and exported from the Niger Bend region."  Across the east-west extent of the northern Sahel, in fact, maps and geographical reports described "forests."

As the nineteenth century came to an end and the twentieth century began, there was a slight lowering of lake levels, but nothing like what had occurred a century earlier. Then, in the latter half of the twentieth century, lake levels again began to rise, with the levels of some lakes eventually rivaling high-stands characteristic of the years of transition to the Modern Warm Period.

With respect to the Great Lakes of North America, Larson and Schaetzl (2001) present graphs of lake level fluctuations for the period 1915 to 1998, where it can be seen that the lowest levels occurred at about 1926 for Lake Superior, 1962 for Lake Huron-Michigan, 1933 for Lake Erie, and 1934 for Lake Ontario. It is also noteworthy that the longest sustained period of high lake levels for all of the Great Lakes occurred over the last 30 years. In addition, lake levels at the end of the record are essentially the same as those at the beginning of the record. Hence, over what climate alarmists claim to be the century that has exhibited the greatest warming of the entire past millennium, which according to them should result in dire consequences for just about everything, there has been no net change in the water level of any of the Great Lakes. In fact, over the past two decades of what they typically refer to as unprecedented warming, the four lakes have exhibited their greatest stability.

The above observations demonstrate that earth's lakes have suffered few ill effects from the warming that has transformed the Little Ice Age into the Modern Warm Period; and, by extension, they suggest that a little more warming would likely not be detrimental to them either.

References
Agusti-Panareda, A. and Thompson, R.  2002.  Reconstructing air temperature at eleven remote alpine and arctic lakes in Europe from 1781 to 1997 AD.  Journal of Paleolimnology 28: 7-23.

Battarbee, R.W., Grytnes, J.-A., Thompson, R., Appleby, P.G., Catalan, J., Korhola, A., Birks, H.J.B., Heegaard, E. and Lami, A.  2002.  Comparing palaeolimnological and instrumental evidence of climate change for remote mountain lakes over the last 200 years.  Journal of Paleolimnology 28: 161-179.

Esper, J., Cook, E.R. and Schweingruber, F.H.  2002.  Low-frequency signals in long tree-ring chronologies for reconstructing past temperature variability.  Science 295: 2250-2253.

Larson, G. and Schaetzl, R.  2001.  Origin and evolution of the Great Lakes.  Journal of Great Lakes Research 27: 518-546.

Nicholson, S.E. and Yin, X.  2001.  Rainfall conditions in equatorial East Africa during the Nineteenth Century as inferred from the record of Lake Victoria.  Climatic Change 48: 387-398.

Yoo, JC. and D'Odorico, P.  2002.  Trends and fluctuations in the dates of ice break-up of lakes and rivers in Northern Europe: the effect of the North Atlantic Oscillation.  Journal of Hydrology 268: 100-112.

Copyright 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 

==============
(4) EARTH'S TEMPERATURE RESPONSE TO VARIATIONS IN SOLAR IRRADIANCE

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 26 March 2003
http://www.co2science.org/journal/2003/v6n13c1.htm

Douglass, D.H. and Clader, B.D. 2002. Climate sensitivity of the Earth to solar irradiance.  Geophysical Research Letters 29: 10.1029/2002GL015345.

What was done
The authors used multiple regression analysis to separate out surface and atmospheric temperature responses to solar irradiance variations over the past two and a half solar cycles (1979-2001) from temperature responses produced by variations in ENSO and volcanic activity.

What was learned
Based on the satellite-derived lower tropospheric temperature record, the authors evaluated the sensitivity (k) of temperature (T) to solar irradiance (I), where temperature sensitivity to solar irradiance is defined as k = deltaT/deltaI, obtaining the result of k = 0.11 0.02C/(W/m2). Similar analyses based on the radiosonde temperature record of Parker et al. (1997) and the surface air temperature records of Jones et al. (2001) and Hansen and Lebedeff (1987, with updates) produced k values of 0.13, 0.09 and 0.11C/(W/m2), respectively, with the identical standard error of 0.02C/(W/m2). They also reported that White et al. (1997) derived a decadal timescale solar sensitivity of 0.10 0.02C/(W/m2) from a study of upper ocean temperatures over the period 1955-1994 and that Lean and Rind (1998) derived a value of 0.12 0.02C/(W/m2) from a paleo-reconstructed temperature record spanning the period 1610-1800.  The authors thus concluded that "the close agreement of these various independent values with our value of 0.11 0.02 [C/(W/m2)] suggests that the sensitivity k is the same for both decadal and centennial time scales and for both ocean and lower tropospheric temperatures."

What it means
The authors suggest that if these values of k hold true for centennial time scales, which appears to be the case, their high-end value implies a surface warming of 0.2C over the last 100 years in response to the 1.5 W/m2 increase in solar irradiance inferred by Lean (2000) for this period.  This warming represents approximately one-third of the total increase in global surface air temperature estimated by Parker et al. (1997), 0.55C, and Hansen et al. (1999), 0.65C, for the same period. It does not, however, include potential indirect effects of more esoteric solar climate-affecting phenomena that could also have been operative over this period.

References
Hansen, J. and Lebedeff, S.  1987.  Global trends of measured surface air temperature.  Journal of Geophysical Research 92: 13,345-13,372.

Hansen, J., Ruedy, R., Glascoe, J. and Sato, M.  1999.  GISS analysis of surface temperature change.  Journal of Geophysical Research 104: 30,997-31,022.

Jones, P.D., Parker, D.E., Osborn, T.J. and Briffa, K.R.  2001.  Global and hemispheric temperature anomalies -- land and marine instrumental records.  In: Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, TN.

Lean, J.  2000.  Evolution of the sun's spectral irradiance since the Maunder Minimum.  Geophysical Research Letters 27: 2425-2428.

Lean, J. and Rind, D.  1998.  Climate forcing by changing solar radiation.  Journal of Climate 11: 3069-3094.

Parker, D.E., Gordon, M., Cullum, D.P.N., Sexton, D.M.H., Folland, C.K. and Rayner, N.  1997.  A new global gridded radiosonde temperature data base and recent temperature trends.  Geophysical Research Letters 24: 1499-1502.

White, W.B., Lean, J., Cayan, D.R. and Dettinger, M.D.  1997.  Response of global upper ocean temperature to changing solar irradiance.  Journal of Geophysical Research 102: 3255-3266.
 
Copyright 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 

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(5) GEOCRYOLOGY IMPORTANT TOOL IN CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE

>From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

Office of Public Relations
University of Delaware
Newark, DE

Contact:
Neil Thomas, (302) 831-6408

March 13, 2003

Geocryology important tool in global change science

Geocryology, or the study of permafrost, is an increasingly important area of study in the larger field of global change science, Frederick E. Nelson, professor of geography at the University of Delaware, writes in the March 14 issue of Science magazine.

Nelson, who has undertaken extensive field studies of permafrost in the Arctic, notes in an article titled "(Un)frozen in Time" that geocryology got off to a rocky start in 1838 when a Russian academician told the Royal Geographical Society of London that the ground in central
Siberia was frozen to a depth of more than 100 meters. The claim was met with disbelief.

It was not until the next century, after the Soviet Union had gained extensive experience with construction on frozen ground, that geocryology was developed as an integrative discipline with links to geography, geology, engineering, hydrology and ecology.

Nelson writes that geocryology emerged as an important component of climate change studies in the 1990s "because the distribution, thickness, temperature and stability of permafrost are determined to a large extent by the temperature at Earth's surface."

He adds that permafrost, which is defined as any subsurface materials that remain at or below freezing continuously for two or more years, plays three important roles in climate-change science. First, because it preserves a record of temperature changes at Earth's surface, permafrost acts as a data archive. Precise measurements taken in deep boreholes show that permafrost temperatures have increased markedly during the latter half of the 20th century in the northernmost regions of North America and Eurasia, and Nelson writes, "This trend appears to be accelerating."

Permafrost's second role is to translate the effects of climate change by impacting natural ecosystems and human infrastructure. Changes have been most dramatic in regions where permafrost is relatively thin and its geographic distribution is "patchy." Extensive areas in central Alaska have experienced thaw subsidence over the past two centuries, converting birch forests to low-lying wetlands. Heated structures built on ice-rich terrain are subject to thaw-induced settlement or collapse unless specialized engineering design criteria are used.

One of the biggest challenges facing geocryologists is separating out changes induced by climate warming from those caused by localized human activities, Nelson writes. If climate warming exceeds design criteria, extensive damage to infrastructure could result. There have been many reports of thawing ice-rich permafrost causing damage to structures over the past decade. More than 300 buildings in the vicinity of Fairbanks, Alaska, have been affected by thawing permafrost, although most problems can be traced to inadequate site preparation or design flaws. Permafrost is an increasingly important consideration for planners, mortgage lenders and the real estate industry.

The third role of permafrost is to facilitate further climate change. Substantial amounts of organic carbon are stored in the upper layers of permafrost. If a widespread increase in the depth of annual thaw occurred much of this carbon could escape to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, leading to intensified climate warming.

Nelson writes that the permafrost regions occupy about one-quarter of Earth's terrestrial surface, with perennially frozen ground underlying extensive areas in both polar regions and at higher elevations in mountains of the middle latitudes. New research is being conducted on submarine permafrost around the margins of the Arctic Ocean.

Information obtained by geocryologists could have important implications beyond Earth. Nelson writes that "knowledge about landforms created by growth and ablation of ground ice may help in the quest for exploitable water resources on Mars."

Nelson leads the University of Delaware Permafrost Group (UDPG), a subunit of the Department of Geography. UDPG hosted the first workshop of the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) program in November 2002, at the Virden Center on UD's Lewes campus. Thirty-five scientists from six nations attended the workshop, which was funded by the National Science Foundation's Arctic System Science program.

An important event for geocryologists occurs every five years, when the International Permafrost Association holds a large scientific meeting. The eighth such conference will be held in July in Zurich, Switzerland. The role of permafrost in climate change science will be a central focus of this gathering of several hundred permafrost scientists from around the world.

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* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR *
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(6) RESPONSE TO SONJA BOEHMER-CHRISTIANSEN: NATURAL DETERMINISM VERSUS HUMAN "FREE WILL"

>From Andrew Glikson <geospec@webone.com.au>

Dear Benny

I wish to respond to Sonja's comments (CCNet 15.3.03) which refer to my letter (CCNet 14.1.03). I see the roots of the issue of human effects on the Earth in terms of two alternative philosophical paradigms:

1. A deterministic paradigm: Human history is fully a branch and function of natural evolution/catastrophism, following laws over which we mortals have little or no influence. In terms of this approach "free will" is a mere illusion.

2. A "Free Will" paradigm: Humans, as perhaps distinct from other living organisms, are bestowed with opportunities for meaningful and fundamental choices.

In terms of the deterministic paradigm, entropy dictates that, as mega-cities (con-urbations) expand using more resources, the countryside and much of nature are bound to come under strain, analogous perhaps to the devastation which the huge termite nests (virtual cities) in Australia have on the surrounding bush.

In terms of the "Free Will" paradigm, humans can make fundamental choices with long term consequences vis-a-vis the evolution of and/or catastrophic effects on the Planet: Examples of constructive versus destructive choices include, in my view:

A. Constructive choices: desalination of sea water using solar energy; desert drip-water horticulture; re-forestation of marginal desert regions to stop dune advance; agricultural terracing of mountains; return of excess organic materials to agricultural zones/fields; preservation of endangered species in natural reserves.

B. Destructive choices: continued manufacture and release of ozone-destroying CFCs; deforestation of large tropical rain forests and marginal bush (resulting in advanced salination as has already claimed over 20 percent of previously arable Australian land); proliferation of nuclear facilities and weapons, which - given human fallibility - render their eventual catastrophic use a statistical probability; invention and development of biological and chemical weapons which, originally invented and manufactured in advanced technological countries (Germany, USSR, US) have been proliferated to "Third World" countries for commercial and "strategic" gain.

There may well be a sharp distinction in this respect between a "scientific truth" and a "human truth". A view from biology may equate Homo Sapiens with unsuccessful parasitic viruses which, unable to live in equilibrium/symbiosis, end up destroying their hosts. A "human truth" will
try and ignore such scientific view and pin its hope on "Free Will". A decision as to which of the above paradigms is more applicable is inherently an ethical individual choice.

Andrew Glikson
20.3.03

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(7) WHY IS IT GETTING COLDER DURING GLOBAL WARMING?

>From James Marusek <tunga@custom.net>

Dear Benny

So why is it getting colder during Global Warming? The answer may lie in particle physics.

The current approach used to describe climate change (Global Warming) has put the cart in front of the horse. The basic assumption ingrained into the Global Warming Doctrine (doctrine because it is treated more like an environmentalist manifesto than a scientific theory) is that humans are predominately responsible for recent climatic changes. The first step of a scientific approach to describing climate change would be to define the natural mechanisms that affect the environment. It would seem logical that only after the natural model is developed and refined could the effects of man-made components be quantified to explain any deviations.

Recently several individuals contributed to establishing a natural climate change model. These studies have focused on the Sun's influence on climate change. Pang & Yau (2002) studied solar irradiance and strongly correlated this data with Northern Hemisphere temperatures from the years 1620 to 1980. Willson (2003), using satellite observations of Total Solar Irradiance (TSI), has observed a 0.05 percent increase per decade in the Sun's radiant energy since 1970, which can account for some of the uptick in global temperature rise. These studies provide a foundation for the development of a natural climate change model.

Another component in the natural climate change model lies in particle physics. In 1894, Charles Wilson began researching water droplets that make up clouds. He developed a device called a cloud chamber, which allowed him to reduce the air pressure of a humid environment. He discovered that charged particles traveling through the chamber left a trail of condensed water droplets. He received a Nobel Prize in 1927 for inventing the bubble chamber.

The Earth's environment functions like a cloud chamber. But the Earth's magnetic field shields the planet from charged particles, which are deflected towards the Poles, where the cold temperatures produce low humidity levels that inhibit cloud formation. The Earth's magnetic field has been on the decline. Recently, the decline has become very pronounced. Using the International Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF) data set, the magnetic field at the equator in open ocean has declined 1.7 percent in intensity since 1980. (Geomag program, IGRF dataset, latitude 0 degrees, longitude 180 degrees, sea level, years 1980-2005, a decline from 34,824 to 34,246 nanoTesla (nT)). Whereas the entire decline over the period from 1900 to 1980 was 2.8 percent.

As the Earth's magnetic field weakens, charged particles from outer space and from the Sun will find it easier to break through the magnetic shield that protects Earth. These particles then interact with humid air in tropical, subtropical and mid-latitude environments to produce tiny water droplets that become basic building blocks in forming clouds. Increased cloud formation can result in increased global rainfall and snowfall totals. The clouds also moderate Earth's temperature by reflecting solar radiation.

James A. Marusek

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