Wide Fluctuations in Arctic Temperature Common

Commentary, Climate, Frontier Centre

“A considerable change of climate inexplicable at present to us must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated. 2000 square leagues of ice with which the Greenland Seas between the latitudes of 74° and 80 N have been hitherto covered, has in the last two years entirely disappeared.”

Apart from the archaic language, this parallels the recent reports of arctic ice melting. However, it’s a draft of a letter to the British government from Council Minutes of the Royal Society, written in 1817.

“The ice cover in the Northern Hemisphere increased by 12 percent in 1971 – an increase equal to the combined area of England Italy, and France. This added ice has remained.” A quote from the book The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age, published in 1977.

The two reports underline what scientists who have studied arctic climates know. Namely, that arctic climate and therefore arctic ice fluctuates a great deal. Indeed, it is more normal to have large areas of the arctic warming while others cool. Overall the arctic and the world has come from an ice age (glacial period) just 22,000 years ago to an interglacial (warm period) today. The warming was mostly caused by changes in the sun/earth relationship (tilt and orbit changes) and changes in solar energy. The changes since modern records began around 1880 also correlate with changes in the sun, not greenhouse gases. Scientists who are qualified to study these issues know that, but too many, such as geneticists, who study the potential impact of climate change who don’t know.

The latest hysteria about arctic warming is just another attempt to salvage a theory of global warming due to human action that is totally debunked by the evidence. Most of the report is speculation about the impact of global warming. This serves to scare but is only relevant if the evidence and the theory are correct. The following figure shows a reconstruction of arctic-wide temperature anomalies from 1875-2001 produced by Igor Polyakov at the University of Alaska and reproduced in Willie Soon’s article “Is the Arctic Melting?” (TCS, Nov 9, 2004).

The graph shows a temperature over the last 30 years of 0.04 to 0.06°C per year or more dramatically stated as the recent reports did, of 4 to 6°C per century. Pick the section of the graph from 1940 to 1970 and you can say the complete opposite. Overall the graph shows an increase in temperature, but I among many others have not denied that warming has occurred. It has gone on since 1680. The recent hysterical reports deliberately chose the last 30 years of record to support their claim that human production of CO² is the cause of the warming. They distract from the evidence by the emotional threat of disaster of sea level rise and species extinction.

The graph shows these claims are unsupportable:

  • The warming from 1900 to 1940 was more dramatic than the recent increase.
  • The sea level didn’t rise during that time. The predictions of a one metre rise in the next hundred years is nonsense because the ice is already in the water. This includes the arctic sea ice and the glaciers of Greenland and the Antarctic.
  • Human production of CO², particularly from the burning of fossil fuels, was not significant prior to 1940. After 1940, when production increased dramatically, the temperature actually went down.
  • All arctic species survived the pre-1940 warming just as they have survived the warming since 1680.
  • On the Richard Cloutier talk show on CJOB in Winnipeg, the Manitoba person responsible for provincial programs to deal with climate change was asked what the government was doing about saving the polar bears. He said that there was nothing one could do directly: the solution was to stop global warming by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas we produce. By this he meant the reduction of human produced CO². Apparently he, like most people, doesn’t know CO² is not the most important greenhouse gas (water vapour is 95% of the greenhouse gases). He obviously doesn’t know that CO² variations are not the cause of temperature as the arctic data above shows and the 420,000 year ice core record confirms.

    And that’s the major problem. The theory that global warming is entirely due to human production of CO² assumes that if atmospheric CO² increases the temperature will rise. The ice core record and the records of the last 120 years clearly show temperature changes before the CO². As Richard Linden said a few years ago about global warming, the consensus was reached before the research had even begun.

    I can understand the public not knowing about the scientific evidence; the government and the media mislead them. However, it’s shameful that scientists involved in this latest arctic exercise are ignorant of the science. It’s disgraceful that Environment Canada and some former employees such as Gordon McBean, are ignorant or choose to ignore the evidence.