Monday, January 26, 2009

The Antarctic is Not Warming Up

Related: Scientists Admit They Made Up Global Warming Data

"Despite the hot air, the Antarctic is not warming up; A deeply flawed new report will be cited ad nauseam by everyone from the BBC to Al Gore

by Christopher Booker
25 Jan 2009

The measures being proposed to meet what President Obama last week called the need to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet" threaten to land us with the most colossal bill mankind has ever faced. It might therefore seem peculiarly important that we can trust the science on which all the alarm over global warming is based, But nothing has been more disconcerting in this respect than the methods used by promoters of the warming cause over the years to plug some of the glaring holes in their scientific argument.

Another example last week was the much-publicised claim, contradicting all previous evidence, that Antarctica, the world's coldest continent, is in fact warming up, Antarctica has long been a major embarrassment to the warmists. Al Gore and co may have wanted to scare us that the continent which contains 90 per cent of all the ice on the planet is heating up, because that would be the source of all the meltwater which they claim will raise sea levels by 20 feet.

However, to provide all their pictures of ice-shelves "the size of Texas" calving off into the sea, they have had to draw on one tiny region of the continent, the Antarctic Peninsula – the only part that has been warming. The vast mass of Antarctica, all satellite evidence has shown, has been getting colder over the past 30 years. Last year's sea-ice cover was 30 per cent above average.

Related: Ice expanse growing in Antarctica

So it predictably made headlines across the world last week when a new study, from a team led by Professor Eric Steig, claimed to prove that the Antarctic has been heating up after all. As on similar occasions in the past, all the usual supporters of the cause were called in to whoop up its historic importance. The paper was published in Nature and heavily promoted by the BBC. This, crowed journalists such as Newsweek's Sharon Begley, would really be one in the eye for the "deniers" and "contrarians".

But then a good many experts began to examine just what new evidence had been used to justify this dramatic finding. It turned out that it was produced by a computer model based on combining the satellite evidence since 1979 with temperature readings from surface weather stations.

The problem with Antarctica, though, is that has so few weather stations. So what the computer had been programmed to do, by a formula not yet revealed, was to estimate the data those missing weather stations would have come up with if they had existed. In other words, while confirming that the satellite data have indeed shown the Antarctic as cooling since 1979, the study relied ultimately on pure guesswork, to show that in the past 50 years the continent has warmed – by just one degree Fahrenheit.

One of the first to express astonishment was Dr Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a convinced believer in global warming, who wryly observed "it is hard to make data where none exists". A disbelieving Ross Hayes, an atmospheric scientist who has often visited the Antarctic for Nasa, sent Professor Steig a caustic email ending: "with statistics you can make numbers go to any conclusion you want. It saddens me to see members of the scientific community do this for media coverage."

But it was also noticed that among the members of Steig's team was Michael Mann, author of the "hockey stick", the most celebrated of all attempts by the warmists to rewrite the scientific evidence to promote their cause. The greatest of all embarrassments for the believers in man-made global warming was the well-established fact that the world was significantly warmer in the Middle Ages than it is now. "We must get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period," as one contributor to the IPCC famously said in an unguarded moment. It was Dr Mann who duly obliged by getting his computer-model to produce a graph shaped like hockey stick, eliminating the mediaeval warming and showing recent temperatures curving up to an unprecedented high.

This instantly became the warmists' chief icon, made the centrepiece of the IPCC's 2001 report. But Mann's selective use of data and the flaws in his computer model were then so devastatingly torn apart that it has become the most comprehensively discredited artefact in the history of science....