January 23, 2005

Ice Age Comes

Now here's a dumb one from the halls of "science".

The amount of fresh water entering the Arctic Ocean from the rivers that feed it is increasing, UK scientists report.

That would be because the arctic runs in multi-decade cycles. Now if only scientists can just decide what constitutes the Arctic, or whether they should even mention that it's cooler than it was in the 1930's.

Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, they say the increase is caused in part by human activities and is an early sign of climate change.

Back in my day we had a cute name for the annual "early sign of climate change". We called it the fuckin' weather, which changes drastically from year to year, or people wouldn't talk about it all the time.

The rise in fresh water entering the Arctic Ocean could change the global distribution of water, the team says.

As happens every time it rains and every time it doesn't. They must've missed the "Pee locally, evaporate globally" bumper stickers.

It could also affect the balance of the climate system itself and even possibly alter the behaviour of the Gulf Stream.

I've seen this movie. In seven to ten working days the entire planet turns into an overwrought epic, so cold that people freeze into solid blocks of ice in mere seconds, or on the other hand can walk across a glacier the size of North America while living in cheap nylon tents, depending on how good their Hollywood agent is.

The team is from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, part of the UK Met Office.

Boy, what a sucky job. Drawing a paycheck for predicting climate means you have to occasionally put out a news grabbing prediction for the barking heads at the BBC to babble about, and then hope nobody looks it up ten years later.

The global hydrological cycle is the exchange of water between the land, the oceans and the atmosphere. The rate of the exchange is expected to increase as the Earth warms.

Part of the process is likely to mean more precipitation (hail, rain, sleet and snow) at higher latitudes, and so more water flowing down the rivers.

And all that extra fresh water flowing into the oceans will drop the ocean salt content because, erm, well as we all know rain comes from they sky, not that silly myth about ocean evaporation that leaves the sea saltier till the river water meets back up later.

If the global water distribution changes, this could have important social and economic consequences. An altered hydrological cycle might conceivably have a profound cooling effect on north-west Europe as well.

Well, glad we nixed those stupid global warming worries. The ice age cometh, and as a descendant of skilled mammoth hunters I'll mention that an SUV and a Browning .50 works a hell of a lot better than a spear and grass boots, not to mention their utility for pushing little hippie-filled hybrids into crevasses, a well earned fate for those who publish a prediction that includes the words "might conceivably".

The American Geophysical Union, publisher of the journal, says: "It could also alter the balance of the climate system itself, such as the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, a kind of conveyor belt.

Yep, the ocean is a vast conveyor belt, which follows from thinking of them as a Walmart distribution center, with currents as the first step in moving cod to your dinner table.  To keep it in terms a BBC journalist can understand they should've stuck in something about the ocean's never ending quest for haline justice.

"Cold water flows southward in the Atlantic at great depths to the tropics, where it warms, rises, and returns northward near the surface.

"This flow helps keep northern Europe at a temperate climate, whereas the same latitudes in North America are sparsely settled tundra or taiga."

Actually, the technical term for tundra we use over here is "Canada".

The Hadley researchers compared data published in 2002 from observations of Siberian river flows with model simulations, to see whether they could identify a human influence on the increase in fresh water.

And you can download NASA's Global Climate Model software for your own PC here, for free. It looks slick, but don't be shocked when your sleek new machine mumbles

OPEN(UNIT=2, FILE="GIGO.DAT",status='fucking_old')

But at least you don't have to find a USB compatible punched-card reader to input your FORTRAN deck.

They point out that higher emissions of greenhouse gases, caused by human activities, are expected to intensify the hydrological cycle in the Arctic, with higher precipitation there balanced by a reduction in the tropics.

Whatever you do, don't Google NASA cloud models and start reading the links, lest you find tons of random papers like this PDF.

The main conclusions are that i) almost all models strongly under-predicted both cloud cover and cloud amount in the stratocumulus regions while ii) the situation is opposite in the trade wind region and the tropics where cloud cover and cloud amount are over-predicted by most models. This deficiencies result in a over-prediction of the down-welling surface shortwave radiation of typically 60 W/m^2 in the stratocumulus regimes and a similar under-prediction of 60 W/m^2 in the trade wind regions and in the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).

Global warming hysteria hinges on a 0.5 W/m^2 imbalance, when our cloud fudge factors run 60 to 100 W/m^2 or more, which isn't so bad since a recent NASA satellite resolved the debates about whether the earth is on average 50% or 75% covered by clouds. I'm just glad we didn't misplace a couple continents in the error bars.

They tested the model with four simulations which took into account both human inputs and natural factors, including solar variability and volcanic eruptions.

The results showed a steady increase in river discharges, especially since the 1960s, with the annual rate of increase since 1965 8.73 cubic kilometers, far greater than the long-term trend.

Strangely enough, this "steady increase" must've been occurring during the cooling trend prevalent during the 1970's, one so pronounced it had everyone worried about the next ice age. Since then moonbattery has advanced enough to worry about simultaneous broiling and freezing, an idea that earlier climate modelers didn't think an educated public would buy into. Thank goodness for the NEA.

The simulations excluded human impacts in one instance and natural impacts in another, and included all factors in a third.

Over the past four decades, they say, human activity played the major role in the increased flows, and it is likely that the upward trend is part of the early stages of an intensified hydrological cycle.

Keep in mind that the only way they can get a climate model to keep from exploding within 10 days of simulated time is to punch in fudge factors till it achieves stability, what with the 10% errors all over the place. But once one model achieves stability, just use the magic of billions of floating point calculations to indirectly say "T(co2_induced)=T(natural) + 2.0;" and then sit back and listen to the jingling cash registers.

Dr Peili Wu, a team member, told the BBC: "It looks clear to us that this is an early signal of human-induced climate change. If only natural factors were involved, you wouldn't get these results.

That's because the model has to get tweaked till it quits exploding, always step one, which to create the "natural" reference model. Step two involves kicking it, while step three is the press release.

It is possible the increase in fresh water entering the Arctic Ocean could contribute to an alteration in the thermohaline circulation, because it is diluting the saltiness of the seawater and reducing its density."

It's also possible that most climate modelers have to predict disaster or find another job. Just remember, we must reduce the earth's global temperature to avoid an impending ice-age, where we'll find ourselves having to keep cool by breaking off glacier hunks in the backyard.

January 23, 2005 in Global Warming | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack