Storm surges on the Arctic Ocean coast

by Judith Curry

The latest analysis of sea ice extent by the NSIDC shows that early June sea ice extent is lower than corresponding 2007 value.   A recent article at Yale360 discusses how as Arctic sea ice retreats, storms take toll on the land.

For background info on Arctic sea ice, see this previous thread pondering the Arctic Ocean.

For background on storm surges on the Arctic coast, see this previous paper by Lynch et al. that I coauthored entitled “Towards an integrated assessment of the impacts of extreme wind events on Barrow, Alaska”.

Some excerpts from the Yale360 article:

recent study conducted by Benjamin Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey found that a 40-mile stretch of Alaska coastline along the Beaufort Sea

One stretch of Alaska coastline lost 28 feet of land per year between 2002 and 2007.

retreated an average of 6.8 meters (22 feet) per year between 1955 and 1979; over the next 23 years, that rate increased by another six feet per year. The low-lying coastline then lost 28 feet of land per year between 2002 and 2007, and 45 feet between 2008 and 2009. These extreme losses are due not only to greater exposure of the land to storms from an increasingly ice-free Arctic, but also to melting permafrost that hastens crumbling of the coastline.

A study published last month showed another insidious impact of the growing number of Arctic storm surges. Canadian scientists researched the effects of a massive surge of seawater from the Beaufort Sea that in 1999 pushed 12 miles inland along the Mackenzie River delta in Canada’s western Arctic, flooding lakes, streams, and hundreds of square kilometers of tundra vegetation. The effect of that influx of seawater into the delta transformed the affected areas, killing nearly 90 percent of the alders, which shriveled in the now-salty soil. In addition, scientists documented a dramatic increase in a salt-loving algae — Navicula salinarum — in one inland lake, suggesting that the freshwater system affected by the flooding was being transformed into a new, more saline ecosystem.

To date, the surges have been most intensely felt in northwestern Canada and northeast Alaska, where winds blowing over ice-free water in the summer can create large storm surges. These surges are particularly bad in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and parts of the Bering Sea because of the shallow water there. The water being pushed towards shore has to go somewhere. If it is deep, the water can simply descend to greater depths when it nears the coast. If it is shallow, however, the water is forced up onto the land.

The impact of this relatively warm, salty water coming onto shore is exacerbated by the fact that 50 to 70 percent of the soil consists of frozen water — a “dirty iceberg,” as geomorphologist Robert Anderson of the University of Colorado at Boulder describes it. Once it comes into contact with the warmer water, it falls apart and slips into the sea.

Anderson and other researchers believe that as the Arctic Ocean becomes increasingly ice-free, storm surges will affect ever-larger areas of shoreline in the Arctic basin, including Russia’s immense Arctic coastline, which stretches many thousands of miles. “No other coastal landscape in the world is as vulnerable,” says Anderson, who has a research camp on the north coast of Alaska between Barrow and Prudhoe bays. “From the western Arctic of Canada to the north slope of Alaska and Siberia, the landscape is very flat. When you fly over this territory, you can see how even the smallest surges can have an impact when there is little or no sea ice.”

In addition to the ecosystem issues documented by the Yale360 paper, the Lynch et al. paper documents two case study storms in 1963 and 2000, and the impacts to the coast, buildings, utilities infrastructure, and transportation.

Community vulnerability has increased over the decades with community modernization, which includes increased structures, electricity and telephone lines above ground, the underground water and sewage utilidor, and natural gas pipelines. In addition, the diversity of storms and their impacts on Barrow in the past implies that policies to reduce community vulnerabilities cannot anticipate in suffi- cient detail major storms of the future. Hence, resil- ience is necessary to expedite recovery from impacts of a severe storm, and flexibility is necessary to accom- modate what is learned from each storm to reduce vulnerabilities over the long term.

JC comments: Whereas storm surge risk is generally associated with tropical storms, arguably the greatest risk storm surge risk is on the Arctic Ocean coast.  Open water in autumn associated with reduced sea ice extent provides fertile ground for the development of polar low storms in the Arctic Ocean, which can have very high wind speeds and result in substantial storm surges.  Storm surges along the Arctic coast cause substantial erosion of the ground which is characterized by permafrost.  Apart from the loss of land, the erosion of permafrost puts methane into the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas.

The Arctic Ocean coast is home to numerous villages, predominantly inhabited by Inuit (this one is for Martha).  The villages are located on the coast to provide proximity to marine resources.  One coastal village, Shishmaref, is trying to obtain funds to move the entire village.

In addition to the vulnerable coastal villages, offshore resource extraction activities and coastal refining activities are vulnerable to winds, high seas and storm surge particularly in autumn, a time that historically has had landfast ice protecting the coast.

As discussed on the previous Arctic sea ice thread, the attribution of the decline in Arctic sea ice extent is not straightforward, it is some combination of natural climate variability and greenhouse warming.

166 responses to “Storm surges on the Arctic Ocean coast

  1. Thanks, Professor Curry, for the information.

    In comprehensively considering all of the factors involved in climatology, let’s not overlook the three major ones:

    1. Heat source – Sun’s core

    2. Insulators – Earth’s atmosphere and layers surrounding the heat source.

    3. Modulators – Heat sinks like oceans that readily pick up or release heat

    • Today’s news on Earth’s heat source – the Sun from the annual meeting of the solar physics division of the American Astronomical Society:

      “The solar cycle may be going into a hiatus,” Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network, said in a news briefing today (June 14).

      “. . . highly unusual and unexpected . . . But the fact that three completely different views of the sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.”

      “If we are right, this could be the last solar maximum we’ll see for a few decades”

      “That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth’s climate.”

  2. Norm Kalmanovitch

    This was a perfectly good posting until the last paragraph:
    “As discussed on the previous Arctic sea ice thread, the attribution of the decline in Arctic sea ice extent is not straightforward, it is some combination of natural climate variability and greenhouse warming.”
    Ice requires 80cal/gm to melt and the “greenhouse warming” is strictly a passive insulating effect; so where does the energy come from to melt the sea ice. The incoming solar energy heats the Earth’s surface and the surface heats the atmosphere through conduction thermal radiation and evaporation and condensation. Since it is the surface that heats the atmosphere and the increase in greenhouse effect only controls the rate at which the atmosphere cools how exactly does the second law of thermodynamics cease to exist and allow the armosphere heated by the surface to manufacture heat which is returned to the Earth to provide the 80cal/gm to melt the sea ice?
    Also the satellite measuements of OLR show that no enhanced greenhouse effect has occurred since 1979 so how does this non existant greenhouse warming impact the loss of sea ice? Science is based on physical evidence not model fabrications so unless you can demonstrate actual physical evidence for the claim of influence from “greenhouse warming” this comment must be retracted!

    • Permafrost occurs at latitudes where the annual average surface temperature remains below freezing. As the annual average temperature warms, the 0 C latitude moves north, and permafrost within a band of latitudes melts.

    • Warm ocean currents that enter the Arctic do melt the sea ice. The earth temperature is an average, which is more ocean than anything else. it does not matter if the oceans were warmed with or without greenhouse gas. Try to melt ice with a hair dryer and with warm water. The warm water is more effective. if cooling has started, it will not change the oceans temperatures very quickly. The Low Arctic Sea Ice Events will be with us for awhile, even in a cooling world.

      • I agree, Alex.

        Warm water is much more effective than warm air in melting ice.

        The most serious flaw in the AGW story, however, is this: The entire edifice seems to be built on the science of predicting weather as heat was transferred around inside the insulating globe of air and water that covers this planet.

        Even perfect ability to predict weather could not be extended into perfect ability to predict long-term climate changes – and perfect ability to predict weather had not been achieved when world leaders, Al Gore, and the UN’s IPCC jumped on the AGW bandwagon.

        That is the root of the problem.

    • I think maybe your degree should be retracted.

    • Dear Norm:

      You are right. There can be no tangible sensible heat transfer from air to arctic ice when temperature rise is only 0.0000001 degrees per hour due to global warming. All engineering equations will yield zero heat transfer. In fact, thermodynamics demonstrates that there can be no sensible heat transfer for the lower atmosphere is adiabatic invariant.The only scientific explanation to the observed arctic ice melting is water vapor condensation, whose heat transfer is significant in the order of magnitude of the latent heat of condensation of water vapor. Based on observations, air temperature is presently decreasing in all altitudes above six kilometers, yet Himalayan glaciers keep melting. This suggests that sensible heat transfer from air to ice must be excluded as a cause of ice melting, and that the GHG heat trapping effect on ice melting is fiction and does not exist. For more observations and experimental proof, please see articles 7,9, and 16 posted on my website

  3. “it is some combination of natural climate variability and greenhouse warming.”

    Dr Curry,

    How much of each?


    • well that is the billion dollar question, isn’t it. the white part of the italian flag is nontrivial on this one

      • Isn’t climate science supposed to be endeavoring to answer such valuable questions?


      • you can choose: an exact but incorrect answer, or a truthful statement that we don’t exactly know. We only have good sea ice extent data since 1979, which makes it difficult to understand the impact of multidecadal scales of variability like the AMO and PDO

      • “a truthful statement that we don’t exactly know”

        So climate science currently cannot measure natural climate variability or greenhouse warming?


      • 50 % is due to AGW.

      • When did AGW start? Serious question.

      • when did man come on the scene? Assuming man has always been a net GHG emitter, AGW would start when we started.

        maybe you meant to ask when the effect became detectable?
        and the next question is when does it become significant.. a value judgement

      • Steven –
        If you want to use that definition, then GW started long before any recognizable human existed.

      • No AGW wouldn’t have started when humanity started. That was about 2 million years ago. In the meantime the Earth has passed through several glacial states, or Ice ages, with last ones happening in a 100,000 year cycle.

        Glacial states would have caused a few species to go extinct, mammoths for example, but, in the main most do survive.

        Until recently humans would have burned mainly biofuels except perhaps oil, pitch and coal in tiny quantities. CO2 emissions would have been low which the Earth’s natural systems had no trouble at all in absorbing.

        There is an argument that some small emissions of CO2 have been beneficial in preventing any possible return to ice age conditions. However, that would involve maybe a 10-20% increase only and we are well past those increased levels now.

      • You guys miss it. AGW would have started. its just really really really tiny and undetectable. so, ya, if humans add a net GHG molecule to the atmosphere, it’s warmer than it would have been without that molecule.

        When did AGW start is a silly question.

      • tonto –
        Glacial states would have caused a few species to go extinct, mammoths for example, but, in the main most do survive.

        No, not mammoths. There is archaeological evidence that they survived through the pre-Columbian era (through the last Ice Age) and into the 16th or 17th C. But you’re certainly right about other species.

      • Steven –
        You guys miss it. AGW would have started. its just really really really tiny and undetectable. so, ya, if humans add a net GHG molecule to the atmosphere, it’s warmer than it would have been without that molecule.

        Actually, i got that. What you apparently didn’t get is that GW (without the A) would have started (in your terms) with the emergence of the first oxygen breather. IOW – long before the emergence of the first human in the evolutionary tree.

        When did AGW start is a silly question.

        Yup – simply because we don’t – and probably will never – know precisely when homo sapiens came on the scene. Unless someone has time machine in their back pocket.

        For tonto –
        No AGW wouldn’t have started when humanity started. That was about 2 million years ago. In the meantime the Earth has passed through several glacial states, or Ice ages, with last ones happening in a 100,000 year cycle.

        Actually, “human” (homo sapiens) emergence was earlier than 2 MYA. And humans survived all those climatic shifts – even without cell phones, IPODS, etc.. Which is one of the things that makes the present hysteria about AGW so ridiculous.

      • Betcha some money that we find out that our contributions to climate change were more severe much earlier in our history. Something about burning millions of hectares to get some barbecue…

      • Steven Mosher,

        Is that a guess?


      • Unless its a statement of logic or pure math, then it’s a estimate.

        Some estimates have so much support that we call them “laws of physics”
        other estimates have so little support that we call them guesses.

        The difference is the error of estimates.

      • Joe Lalonde


        I call them generalized estimates that is suppose to be supportive of the whole planet. Generalized laws when broken down fall apart and are incorrect especially when using a timeline greater than thousands of years or showing that the equator has a greater circumference than the poles.

      • “Some estimates have so much support that we call them “laws of physics”

        So a child-like split down the middle estimate is a “law of physics”?

        You’re a joke, Mr. Mosher.


      • No Andrew, Its very simple. The human contribution lies somewhere between 0 and 100%. Absent any information on the “real” number, I’ll choose the answer that minimizes the error of estimate.

        I have a somewhere between 0 and 100 pennies sitting in this jar. Tell me your best estimate of how many I have?

        The point is even we we dont know the exact answer we can provide estimates that minimize the error.

      • Rob Starkey

        LOL- That was bad. Some may actuallybelieve you seriously know, or even believe you know the answer.

      • I trust a few people know what I am getting at.

      • Joe Lalonde

        There are a few that do. Who want to improve their understanding of this planet and those who believe every word a scientist says is accurate.
        I have found accuracy is impossible with the current line of scientific theories.

      • ha, see the post today where I think Dr. Curry says something like 50/50, if I read her right.

      • “I have a somewhere between 0 and 100 pennies sitting in this jar. Tell me your best estimate of how many I have?”

        This is a flawed analogy. We are talking about “natural climate variability” and “greenhouse warming” in combination. That means each penny would have to have a characteristic that would put it in one group or the other. Since you have no way of counting the pennies into groups your 50/50 is what you just called a “guess” and has nothing to do with “physics”.


      • It’s not a silly question! It’s crucial IMO.

        Let me repeat that I am not convinced that there is any significant/measurable “global warming” from anthropogenic CO2.

        I also think that official (consensus, IPCC) CO2 hypothesis is all over the place and NOT EVEN WRONG! Therefore I am trying to pin it down to make it somewhat falsifiable.

        Allegedly (IPCC), AGW started (significantly) in ~1950s (which would be plausible if CO2 was the main player). I would like to know if warmists (and lukewarmists) agree with that.

        I repeat, when did ACO2GW become significant/measurable? It should be widely agreed and accepted among consensus scientists if they have such confidence in climate sensitivity estimate. I am asking strictly about anthropogenic CO2 and its influence on global climate, not any human influence on climate.

      • Edim –
        I repeat, when did ACO2GW become significant/measurable?

        For my part – my previous answer was given to a question with a completely different context. Your question here is a different world from the original question (When did AGW start?), which led us off into an entirely different discussion.

        So – I would ask it in a slightly different way – HAS ACO2GW become significant/measurable?

        And AFAIK the answer is still – no. In spite of the arguments of some of the residents on this blog.

      • The hippies believed in Mr. Natural. I guess they had kids: Moonbeam and Sunshower.

  4. JD;
    You make sound all passive and automatic. NK’s point — please re-read — is that melting requires actual heat energy, ergs, and slowed IR escape is a one-time event which thereafter adds nothing to the balance.

    And even that IR link is broken:

    The heat pumps getting that IR out of the atmosphere are much more efficacious than GCMs posit.

    • A few meters below ground, the temperature only responds to the annual mean surface temperature because of the properties of thermal diffusion through the soil. Above the permafrost layer, there is an annual cycle of freezing and thawing at these latitudes. As the mean surface temperature increases, the freezing/thawing cycle reaches these previously immune layers. it is all because the annual mean surface temperature has changed, by whatever means.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        The key factor in permafrost preservation is surface insulation. If you drive heavy vehicles over the tundra and compact the vegitation removing the insulation a few years later there will be deep gouges from the melted permafrost as was demonstrated back in the 1960’s (when the Earth was cooling) by a geophysical crew that carved their name in the tundra with vehicle tracks only to find hundred foot gouges two years later.
        As an aside the Canadian Beaufort Sea I believe is the only place on the planet where permafrost exists under the ocean. The MacKenzie delta built out into the Beaufort sea with sediments filled with fresh water. During the past ice ages this fresh water froze forming a total thickness of variable permafrost of about 600m. Since the last ice age sea level rose with the melting continental ice sheet burying the previous land of the delta complete with it’s permafrost under 50m of water where it still exists today.

    • Brian Hall,

      Slowed IR isn’t a “one time event”. Temperatures change to restore the energy balance as the IR radiative path becomes less direct, is a better way of looking at it. Once a new equilibrium is reached, the IR energy leaving the Earth will be in exact balance with the optical energy absorbed by it, but global temperatures will be higher.

      As temperatures increase so does the rate of melting.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        On a volumetric basis the heat capacity of air is about 900 times less than the heat capacity of ice so it takes 900m^2 of air and 80cal for each gram of this air to melt a single cubic metre of ice. Once the air has transferred this energy to the Ice it is cooled to the ice temperature and forms an insulating layer preventing more warm air from above from transferring heat to the ice to cause further melting. The only thing that actually melts ice is energy from the sun and moving air which is sufficiently warmed; and warming of under 0.01°C per year does not constitute sufficiently warmed moving air.
        I have a north facing lawn my neighbour across the street is south facing. The air temperature is the same on both sides of the street but his grass is already growing while my lawn is still covered with snow. The only difference is the direct sun energy.

      • Permafrost is a few meters below the ground surface. It is heated by conduction through the soil above from the surface heating. It isn’t much different to heating soil, except for the latent heat. Another number you can calculate is that 1 W/m2 can melt a 10 cm depth of ice per year, and that is only a small fraction of the surface energy budget terms.

      • And there you go….AGW disproved by Norm’s lawn.

        Blog science in action!

      • Looks like steve goddard has got some competition

  5. Antarctica Sea Ice seems ok. So why just Arctic Sea Ice?

    Could it be soot?

    All that soot from diesel cars in Europe and Coal burning deposited on the ice and it melts in the sun.

    • Norm Kalmanovitch

      The arctic spends half the year in darkness when dark surfaces radiate more heat than white and the other hahf of the year is spent with about 20% of the time at low sun angles when there is more radiation than absorption of heat from the sun; so the net effect of soot would be to keep the ice cooler. This simple fact was lost on the climate alarmists in 1970 who wanted to spread soot on the polar ice caps to stop the globa;l cooling of the time. This would have been both insignificant and backwards resulting in a tricvial amount of further cooling. The main heat engine of the planet is in the tropics where the sun has the most intensity for the longest period of time. We see this with the effect of volcanoes such as Pinatubo which blocked the sun enough in the tropics that it cooled the Earth for two years. THe recent Iceland volcano had no measurable effect on global temperature because there was very little energy at this latitude for the ash to block. The heat is generated in the tropics and moved north and south by ocean currents and wind. Because the arctic and antarctic are so dependent on the tropics for warmth and have so little contribution to this warmth, it makes these areas sensitive to global temperature change that occurs in the tropics but have very little effect on global temperature temselves.
      The other factor with sea ice is that the entire north pole is floating ice whereas antarctica is a large landmass covered with thick ice which stabilizes the temperature. The floating ice is much more sensitive to warming ocean currents than the sea ice connected to the large stable antarctic landmass.

      • “Dorothy Koch of Columbia University, N.Y. and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, and James Hansen of NASA GISS are co-authors of the study that appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

        “This research offers additional evidence that black carbon may have a significant warming impact on the Arctic,” Koch said. Warmer temperatures in the Arctic mean melting ice and snow, among other things. These temperature and ice changes also wind up affecting climate patterns around the world.

        The Arctic is especially vulnerable to pollution. In recent years the Arctic has significantly warmed, and sea-ice cover and glaciers have diminished. Likely causes for these trends include changing weather patterns and the effects of pollution. Airborne soot also warms the air and affects weather patterns and clouds.

        Black carbon has already been implicated as playing a role in melting ice and snow. Basically, when soot falls on ice, it darkens the surface and accelerates melting by absorbing more sunlight than ice would, just as wearing a black shirt in the summertime makes you feel hotter than if you wore a lighter color. Dark colors absorb heat and light, and lighter colors reflect it keeping surfaces cooler.”

      • “A Stanford researcher has proven that reducing soot emissions rather than carbon emissions will slow the melting of Arctic sea ice faster. ”

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        Soot emissions and carbon emissions are the same thing! There is confusion between CO2 emissions and Carbon emissions because of the vocabulary of fraud invented to support the misinformation on climate change. There is also no such thing as a greenhouse gas according to any scientific reference until the term was coined in support of the climate change alarmism.
        A proper rendition of the greenhouse effect depicts this as an atmospheric effect with clouds and water vapour providing over 90% of the effect; see if you can find this anywhere in the information given to the public by the IPCC. Is it possible that there is some hidden agenda at play?

      • “Developed countries were once the primary source of black carbon emissions, but this began to change in the 1950s with the adoption of pollution control technologies in those countries.[60] Whereas the U.S. emits about 21% of the world’s CO2, it emits 6.1% of the world’s soot.[

        The largest sources of black carbon are Asia, Latin America, and Africa. China and India together account for 25-35% of global black carbon emissions. Black carbon emissions from China doubled from 2000 to 2006. Existing and well-tested technologies used by developed countries, such as clean diesel and clean coal, could be transferred to developing countries to reduce their emissions”
        — Wikipedia

        Norm, the whole whole anti-US, anti-Europe attacks by environmentalists have move jobs and CO2 production to China and India and have greatly increased the amount of carbon soot produced.

        China now burns over 3x as much coal as the US.

        Environmentalism and the AGW cult are destroying the earth.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        All the researcher has proven is that one set of models is in disagreement with reality and this is only proof of failure of the model premise

      • Norm, back in the 1980’s the motorcycle industry was pushing the limits of air cooled engine technology in their high performance bikes. They applied a thin black coating to the heads and cylinders of the motors to improve the cooling similar to what you claim for the arctic. Back yard mechanics saw this and painted their motors black also. Many of those motors overheated and were destroyed. Tell us why that happened and why it matters to the Arctic and glaciers where soot builds up and MELTS the ice. There is theory and there is applied physics, or engineering.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        There is also reality and motor cycles burn fuel at less than 100% efficiency so the energy not used to propel the motorcycle heats up the motor and is expelled as heat. The heat expelled from a motorcycle is done through conduction as the air passes over the cooling fins. This is why the fins oar on the cylinders and heads the greater the surface area in contact with moving air the greated the heat transfer. The only factor that controls the heat is the conductuvity of the metal in the fins. If you paint the cylinders black and turn off the motor and leave the motorcycle standing still the black will radiate heat faster than if the silver metal is exposed.
        Apparently the motorcycle industry back in the 1980’s missed the class on heat transfer.
        Soot does not melt ice because it has limited mass and a heat capacity similar to ice. What melts the ice is the sun and the black surface absorbs more energy when the sun is shinming than a white surface. When the sun is not shining the balck surface radiates more heat than the white surface cooling the ice more than if the surface was white. If there is more time spent in a year with the sun at low angle or not shining than when the sun is at high enough angle to transfer heat to the ice then the net effect of a blackened surface is a net loss of heat relative to a white surface.
        Soot does not melt ice because it can’t! There is theory and applied physics or engineering and as a geophysicist I have a fourty year career in aplied physics which has been very successful at disproving faulty theory

      • Norm,
        You are wrong about soot not melting ice.
        This winter take some coal dust or charcoal powder and spread it on the snow and tell us soot does not melt ice.
        To not accept this simple well demonstrated reality is bizarre.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        Soot does not melt ice Soot allows the sun to melt more ice but also allows the ice to cool more in hours of darkness. In the spring in temperate zones ice melts whether it is black or white and whether it melts faster if it is dirty depends entirely on the specific conditions of where the ice is.
        In the arctic there is a greater amount of time during the year when there id no sun or sun at a low enough angle that there is no melting taking place compared to the amount of time when there is adequate transfer of heat from the sun to melt ice. If the surface is black it will increase the overall amount of radiarion from the ice caysing it to cool more than if it was white during these longer hours of low sun angle and darkness. The amount of difference is trivial but it is in the opposite direction to that which you believe to be true with statements like “This winter take some coal dust or charcoal powder and spread it on the snow and tell us that soot does not melt ice” I have spent more than a few days in the arctic both in summer and winter and served as the Canadian Geoscience Council representative on the International Permafrost Committee so my knowledge comes first hand and not from watching youtube clips that state exactly what I state that soot does not melt ice but merelty increases the amount of energy absorption from the sun which melts the Ice. What this clip fails to state is what happens when the sun is not shining and the darkened colour causes increased radiation from the ice causing it to cool more than if it was clean.
        In 1971 when the Earth was cooling soot was input into climate models as aerosols and this factor was blamed for the cooling. When the world returned to warming after 1975 this parameter was removed from the climate models and replaced with a new parameter to demonstrate that it was now CO2 that was causing the warming. Today after 9 years of cooling this parameter is shown to be false and the modellers are now once again blaming soot for countering the effect from CO2 and referring to global warming now as climate change because the world is currently cooling. Notice in this clip that there is no mention of CO2!

      • Norm,
        Soot melts ice by absorbing more heat.
        When soot cools off, it does not create more ice.
        You are being long winded and obtuse.

      • John from CA

        Are there any studies that did a chemical analysis of the “soot” to differentiate it from shale flower. If yes, the “soot” will deliver the answer in percentages — coal vs diesel vs forest fires, vs shale flower, etc…

        The only source for this that I’ve see is someone’s photograph and claim its “soot”. What exactly do they mean by “soot”.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        When the ice on my street melts during the day there is water pooled on the top of the ice. At night this freezes back into ice. If this ice is dirty it freezes harder than the ice that is not dirty because black radiates energy at a faster rate than white resulting in cooling the ice to a colder temperature.
        Because of this as the spring progresses all the clean ice melts but the dirty ice remains around for several days after the clean ice has melted.
        You seem to have a bit of trouble grasping this simple concept, so without wishing to be long winded or obtuse I will simply leave you to either rethink the concept for yourself or remain with your misconception, it makes no difference to me.

      • hunter, Norm, et al –

        In 2003 my wife and I hiked the Canadian Parks in the Rockies – lots of glaciers, lots of retreating glaciers – and I got photos. These are two that are presently publicly available, but I have others as well. Notice the “soot” which was actually a combination of black carbon and residue (dust) from the upper levels of the glaciers that had already melted. image/can03 glacier.jpg image/can03 athabasca.jpg

        Also, note Dr Curry’s comment :

        And then there’s Hansen’s paper, which I no longer have, but for which I still retain the NASA press release (written for the media/dummies) – excerpts following –


        Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2005 12:10 PM

        Dorothy Koch of Columbia University, New York, and NASA’s Goddard
        Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, and James Hansen of NASA GISS are co-authors of the study that appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.

        “This research offers additional evidence black carbon, generated
        through the process of incomplete combustion, may have a significant warming impact on the Arctic,” Koch said. “Further, it means there may be immediate
        consequences for Arctic ecosystems, and potentially long-term implications on climate patterns for much of the globe,” she added.

        The Arctic is especially susceptible to the impact of human-generated
        particles and other pollution. In recent years the Arctic has significantly
        warmed, and sea-ice cover and glacial snow have diminished. Likely causes for these trends include changing weather patterns and the effects of pollution. Black carbon has been implicated as playing a role in melting ice and snow. When soot falls on ice, it darkens the surface and accelerates melting by increasing absorbed sunlight. Airborne soot also warms the air and affects weather patterns and clouds.


        The research found in the atmosphere over the Arctic, about one-third of
        the soot comes from South Asia, one-third from burning biomass or vegetation
        around the world, and the remainder from Russia, Europe and North America.

        South Asia is estimated to have the largest industrial soot emissions in
        the world, and the meteorology in that region readily lofts pollution into
        the upper atmosphere where it is transported to the North Pole. Meanwhile, the
        pollution from Europe and Russia travels closer to the surface.


        Koch and Hansen suggest Southern Asia also makes the
        greatest contribution to soot deposited on Greenland


        My conclusion:
        1) Much, if not most, glacier melt is due to black carbon and/or dust.

        2) What will melt a glacier will also melt Arctic ice from the top while the water melts it from below, therefore….

        Comment: In the discussion above, nobody mentioned the 2007 ocean current conditions that fast-tracked the ice out of the Arctic and into the warmer Atlantic. There ARE satellite videos available that show this effect.

        Also note that Hansen did NOT specifically mention Chinese contributions to the black carbon. At that time, they may not have been that large, but that was then (<2005) and this is now – and they’ve been starting up at least one coal fired plant per week for the last few years.

        There’s more to the story, but that gets personal and is not necessary here.

      • John from CA

        Thanks Jim Owen,
        Great photos, here’s a shot I took of Bear Glacier in the first part of June last year. This is down in the Seward area. Notice the black mountains. I spent several days hiking and kiaking around the glaciers.

        The shale flower (not soot) was everywhere. I’d like to see the chemical analysis and percentage of “soot” that’s actually human induced in the Arctic.

      • John from CA

        Make that Shale Flour (not flower) — foolish mistake.

        You can see flour on the glacier as well as the salt marsh effect in the other photos.

      • Snow covered sea ice has an emissivity of about 0.985, so adding soot to it makes an insignificant difference to the emissivity. The impact of soot on the melting of sea ice is the reduction of surface albedo, which enhances the melt.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        When I worked in the Canadian Beaufort Sea on seismic operations when the wind came from the south the temperature warmed to 20°C but when the wind came from the north off the ice pack the temperature dropped below freezing usually with some snow involved. Snow is white and soot is black so on a daily basis black soot deposited on ice is covered with white snow changing the emissivity from the 0.985 that you quote to something else and then back to this number each time the snow falls. The entire arctic ice cap is subject to this change so soot in the end has far less effect than the static perception propsed.
        Most of the melt of artic floating ice comes from below with the heat transfer from warm water currents in contact with the large proportion of the ice that is under water. When you look at ice flows at the hottest time of the day there is only a very little amount of melt water pooled at the surface and generally this freezes over night, with only the meltwater that has flowed from the surface into the ocean being the only loss of ice from contact with the air and exposure to the sun. This whole thread is a static view of a dynamic process with most of the active processes not included in the formulation of the concept. Melting ice is a dynamic process of melting during the day and freezing during the night with a net loss overall if the melting exceeds the refreezing. whether or not soot has any effect on this process is at best a trivial argument because the effect one way or the other it is not even detectable. The poles are covered with ice because there is insufficient energy from the sun to keep these regions warm enough to prevent the temperatures from averaging above freezing. This was not the case over much of the world’s history since the cambrian with no ice at the arctic over the past 600 million years exept for the current ice that only dates back to the Miocene 20 million years ago.
        Ther antarctic was free of ice over the same period except for the Permian Pennsylvanian Mississippian and the middle Ordovician and none of the formation of ice or loss of ice had anything to do with either CO2 or soot from humans. Climate is driven by natural forces and the only part humans play in climate is misinterpreting their insignificant effect on climate as demonstrated by this inane discussion on the effects of soot

      • There are too many misconceptions in what you say for me to take on rebutting this on the blog. I spent 10 years studying the freezing and melting of sea ice.

      • Norm,

        Is it correct to say that the arctic and antarctic do not get much snowfall so to return it to this 0.985 is likely rare? However, with satellite photos they can probably get a large measurement on the emissivity of the snow.

      • John from CA

        Make that Shale Flour (not flower) — foolish mistake.

        You can see flour on the glacier as well as the salt marsh effect in the other photos.

      • John –
        You can see flour on the glacier as well as the salt marsh effect in the other photos.

        What you call shale flour we call “glaciial flour” although i called it “dust” above so I wouldn’t confuse anyone here with strange terminology.

        Anyway, those photos were taken in 2003 -the year of the fires. We were in the area for two weeks and there were over 200 wildfires just in Alberta. Our last morning in the Parks we woke to ash falling like snow as well as a layer of ash on “everything” – all from the fire that we could see rising above ridge the behind our campsite. So what was on the glaciers was at least partially wood ash (black carbon) from wildfires and partially “shale flour.” In 2004, we were in Alaska with more fires – and more ash (black soot). In 2007, we were back in Canada – with yet more fires. And in 2006 we were were in Northern Montana with even more wildfires. . And in 2008, we were back in Canada and Alaska with the fires – again, as usual. It did sometimes get tiresome running from or through flames and smoke. :-)

        Others may have questions about why glaciers and Arctic ice are receding but I don’t. I can, however, guarantee that it’s not entirely due to CO2.

      • John from CA

        I agree, air temperature is a minor factor when considering the forces that effect sea ice in the Arctic. Soot isn’t even in the running.

        Wind patterns are another interesting issue related to the “soot” concern. If as from volcanoes is an indicator, there aren’t many entry points for soot to enter the Arctic (80N). The Westerlies appear to be the principal entrance.

        Here’s hoping your next camping trip is free of forest fires.

    • “Antarctica Sea Ice seems ok” Not according to Judith it doesn’t!

      • She said it increased.

        “The observed sea surface temperature in the Southern Ocean
        shows a substantial warming trend for the second half of the
        20th century. Associated with the warming, there has been an
        enhanced atmospheric hydrological cycle in the Southern Ocean
        that results in an increase of the Antarctic sea ice for the past three
        decades through the reduced upward ocean heat transport and
        increased snowfall.”

        And then the models predict DOOM! The models always predict DOOM!

  6. No one knows what the contribution of AGW is (it could be insignificant) to those northern communities loss of land to the sea. There is a responsibility to help them if they are having difficulties just as with earthquake victims but through honest means rather than the false AGW panacea-like answer.

  7. As discussed on the previous Arctic sea ice thread, the attribution of the decline in Arctic sea ice extent is not straightforward, it is some combination of natural climate variability and greenhouse warming.

    You made that assertion in the prior thread, but it wasn’t really supported by much evidence. What you called the “The definitive paper on the history of Arctic sea ice” concluded:

    The current reduction in Arctic ice cover started in the late 19th century, [b]consistent with the rapidly warming climate[/b], and became very pronounced over the last three decades. This ice loss appears to be [b]unmatched over at least the last few thousand years and unexplainable by any of the known natural variabilities.[/b]

    Other than that, it’s an interesting look at the Arctic. I wonder if the amount of permafrost affected is significant? The interaction of ice and warmer currents, as we’ve seen, greatly accelerates the breakup of ice sheets, compared to predictions that didn’t model such factors.

    Permafrost is expected to be an important source over carbon going forward (, and a significant acceleration of the melting would be very bad news.

  8. I did some reading on the barrier island Sarichef, well known for it’s town Shishmaref. I discovered that strom surges decreased since the 1980’s. And that Sarichef is wandering in a westerly direction as is quite common to barrier islands, the same is happening to Vlieland in The Netherlands.

    William F. Manley, Owen K. Mason, James W Jordan, Leanne R. Lestak, Diane M. Sanzone and Eric G. Parrish Coastal change since 1950 in the southeast Chukchi Sea,Alaska, based on GIS and Field Measurements
    Manley et al Arctic Coastal Zones 2007 poster.pdf (2.26 MB)

    Coastal erosion is controlled by the passage of storm tracks across the Chukchi Sea; the persistence and direction produces winds of variable strength that foster waves and water levels that undercut soft sediments. The largest storms to impact the study area occurred in the 1950s to 1970s (Wise et al. 1981); the “great storm of 1974” (Fathauer 1975) entered from the Bering Sea and recorded >4m high waves at Shishmaref. This storm accounts for most of the erosion on the south coast (Fig.6a).Since 1980,storm direction has shifted to impact the north coast(Figs.6b,c),the impact of melting permafrost is local.

    see also

  9. Since the paleo evidence is that the Arctic ahs had previous periods of less ice pack than now, the only question that matters is, ‘So what?’

  10. Reducing soot from big power plants is something achievable and would improve health and environmental concerns. Controlling CO2 is not achievable and will have no impact on environmental concerns.
    Why will the AGW community not embrace this?

    • We suggest equal emphasis on an alternative, more optimistic, scenario that emphasizes reduction of non-CO2 GHGs and black carbon during the next 50 years. – James Hansen et al

    • The whole secret point of AGW cultism is to destroy the economics of the US and Europe and move production of manufactured goods to China and India thereby producing more CO2 and more carbons soot.

      • All you guys seem to thinks something similar about “AGW cultism” so if we really did have any secrets we didn’t succeed at all well in keeping them. I must suggest we use a more secure cypher at our next ultra-secret meeting ;-)

      • That should be “cipher” – there is a difference.

      • Its no secret. Environmentalists HATE nuclear and capitalism and their policies have tripled the use of coal in China … or was it quadrupled?

        China now uses 48% of world coal consumption and is on track to double usage again in 7 years.

        Environmentalists have driven 10s of million of jobs to an economy that relies on the dirtiest of fossil fuels and CO2 (which I don’t care about) has skyrocketed along with filthy carbon soot.

        If you had just shut up … less CO2 would be being produced by cleaner power plants in the US and Europe. And there might be many more nuclear power plants.

      • “Environmentalists hate nuclear”? Not all of them
        See for example:

        Your hate figure James Hansen also supports the nuclear option as the only possible way of averting a climate disaster.

        Nuclear is a hard sell at the moment, but there those who are trying.

        Is it possible to be broadly in favour of a capitalist system whilst still being concerned about AGW and other environmental issues? Yes. Why not? CO2 from socialist owned smoke stacks is every bit as environmentally damaging. The laws of nature do not favour any one particular political philosophy.

      • It is entirely possible to be generally pro-free market and still favor some action on AGW. It is however simply the case that virtually all of those who are ardent CAGW/decarbonization proponents are strong progressives.

        Many of whom have their panties seriously in a bunch on this blog tonight.
        (No offense intended to those who actually wear them of course.)

      • “It is however simply the case . . .”

        Not that it’s hard to spot your lapses into fantasy, but it’s nice when you label them like this!

        I would one more time remind everyone, including myself, that the topic is neither the people who brought you the weekend, the right of both genders to vote, or the end of Jim Crow, nor is it about the people who supported the state of affairs they replaced. It’s not about the “progressives” who wanted to fight Hitler or the conservatives who didn’t want to get involved. It’s not about the “progressive” president who created hundreds of billions in surpluses or the “conservative” president who turned them into trillions of dollars in new debt.

        It’s about storm surges in the Arctic. Perhaps GaryM could pull his own panties southward and find something to say about that.

      • It’s about storm surges in the Arctic.

        About which you apparently know nothing, but are willing to bloviate anyway.

      • There does seem to be a strong political divide on the issue I agree.

        One side would say consensus science is engaged in some sort of anti-capitalist plot or hoax.
        The other side would say the consensus science position is rejected because it doesn’t fit in with the world or political view of those who have a strong laissez-faire type belief. That ultra free markets with no controls or regulations is the best way for capitalism to operate.

        Which seems the more plausible to you?

      • It would ALL be a side issue if the alarmist goal wasn’t total control. Witness the recent “Earth Summit” thread. Or perhaps you’d like to argue that the stated goals of, for example, the NRDC, are not aimed in that direction?

      • tonto,

        Well, I for one do not think that all climate scientists are involved in an anti-capitalist hoax. But all CAGW/decarbonization favoring scientists whose articles and comments I have read do favor centralized control of the energy economy to implement their decarbonization goals. And they all are willing to do so despite the uncertainties that are becoming increasingly more obvious to the public.

        It is not a matter of fraud for most, just that their preference for centralized control influences their position on the subjective issues of policy choices. Decarbonization (cap and trade and carbon taxes) is not an issue of science, but of politics.

        And I do not reject the consensus because it conflicts with my free market beliefs. I reject the IPCC “consensus “science because everything I have read leads me to believe that the consensus scientists have down played the uncertainties they do know about, and have displayed hubris in the extreme in thinking they know so much more than they do about the complex, chaotic climate of the Earth.

        There are too many questions and too great uncertainty, as far as I can see, to justify the drastic centralization of the energy economy that is proposed.

        I do reject their policy choices on political/economic grounds, but those are political/economic issues from the start.

      • @Jim And GaryM,

        I’d just say that its quite healthy in a democratic society for there to be different political persuasions. Liberal vs Conservative, Socialist vs Capitalist. Whatever label you’d like to apply.

        I’d go further and say that, generally speaking, those who are interested in political questions do have wider interests at heart than their own individual well being. I guess from a liberal/socialist perspective there is nothing wrong with the idea of a carbon tax or a cap and trade price, especially as the proceeds of those schemes can be used to fund social schemes of which they approve. So its not a surprising that liberals and socialists usually go along with all that.

        However, for those who dislike the idea of government intervention, dislike the concept of taxing one group of people and spending on another, the situation is much more difficult. But say you had to come up with a scheme to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. What can you suggest as an alternative? Could you possibly do that under any cicumstances?

      • tonto,

        Elsewhere on this thread (or another, gets hard to keep track), I posted an article by Michael Barone about the innovative power of a free market, as evidence by the massive increase in oil and gas stocks with new fracking technology developed by private industry.

        Stop trying to pick winners and losers, and let the free market work. Do good science; don’t massage (or hide) the data or analysis; make the results clear. If there is eventually sufficient evidence to justify CO2 emission reduction, the market will do so far better than any government central planners.

        This is not seen as an alternative by progressives, because the vast majority of them truly do not understand free market economics. But it is the most likely path tor success should reducing CO2 emissions become necessary.

  11. marcopanama

    A couple of quick comments – The coastline is eroding in response to changing climate – as it has forever. Anthropocentric words like “disastrous” and “insidious” detract from scientific discussion. The only thing disastrous about the situation for the resident Inuits is that they bought into twentieth century “modernity” and allowed the government to construct permanent structures for them, contrary to their own thousands of years of experience with mobility. Imagine the changes they have seen and survived quite nicely since the land bridge began to disappear.

    Second, and I still haven’t gotten a good answer to this, my non-expert understanding is that 1) 4/5 of the floating ice is under water; 2) the transfer of heat from water to ice (and air) is far more efficient than from air to ice or water; 3) the sun angle is low, even in June, further limiting solar heating and 4) that ocean currents may be bringing more warm water into the Arctic, which would account for both ice melt and heating of the air above. Somehow, the whole “Air temperature rises are melting the ice and heating the ocean” argument seems to be backwards. What am I missing? I’m quite willing to read the studies, if I knew what the experts are looking at.

    • John from CA

      The salinity of Pacific water entering the Arctic via the Bering Strait has been cited as a significant factor related to the 2007 melt; if memory serves, it accounted for approximately 50% of the melt. Wind also played a factor in 2007, piled the ice up.

      I guess the interesting question is, what contributed to the increased salinity. Was it an extended El Nino which had been created by Kelvin Waves that been created by winds? Got me, Climate Science does do a very good job of pulling all the pieces together.

      The conclusion that more open water earlier in the year contributes to increased coastal erosion is logical.

      I agree with your comment about coastal erosion in the Arctic but it appears to be most pronounced in the East Siberian and Laptev Seas.

      • John from CA

        Got me, Climate Science does do a very good job of pulling all the pieces together.


        Got me, Climate Science does not do a very good job of pulling all the pieces together.

    • andrew adams

      The only thing disastrous about the situation for the resident Inuits is that they bought into twentieth century “modernity” and allowed the government to construct permanent structures for them, contrary to their own thousands of years of experience with mobility. Imagine the changes they have seen and survived quite nicely since the land bridge began to disappear.

      While I hardly consider myself to be an authority on the history of Inuit civilisation this seems perfectly reasonable to me. But it demonstrates the point that humans may be less well equipped to handle climate change now than they have been in the past due to the changing nature of human civilisation (and the fact that there are many more of us).

    • “The coastline is eroding in response to changing climate – as it has forever.”

      You’d make a great homicide detective. The solution to every case: “People die . . . as they have forever.”

      These particular changes, what is causing them (that would be us), how far they are likely to go, and what the consequences will be, are the question, none of which is answered by a generic assertion that thing are always in the process of changing.

      • “You’d make a great homicide detective…”…yadda yadda

        Your mocking style of argument is dull and not very persuasive.

  12. typo:
    westerly = easterly

  13. John from CA

    Its probably worth pointing out that permanent coastal villages, in one of the most hostile environments in the world, are a government introduced contrivance.

    I wish the historic record was long enough to determine if this weather pattern is an “unusual” event. For instance, alders are some of the first to reclaim glacial areas. Was there any indication to the age of the alders and other vegetation that occurs after they reclaim the ground?

    Were sediment cores taken to determine the salinity of the strata in the effected lake areas to help isolate natural cycles? Its unlikely that this hasn’t happened before but its a question of when and the frequency.

    Its seems odd, little effort has been dedicated to Alaska ice cores though commercial drilling samples would be a logical and accessible record.

  14. Of course all the Ice Breakers in the Arctic chopping the Ice in to smaller pieces are never considered. I should think that smaller pieces are easier to blow out of the area, present a larger surface area to both the air and the water. Has anybody plotted the changes in Arctic “Activity”?

  15. Norm Kalmanovitch

    I never spent any time studying arctic ice but I have spent half a dozen years dealing with the reality of arctic ice which meant that I had to work from what was there and not from what studies stated was supposed to be there. A study of one position of sea ice only serves to evaluate the parameters of melting and thawing for the set of specific circumstances involved, and models and hypotheses based on these measurements are limited in correctness to the applicibility of specific sites to proces of the entire arctic.
    This is the problem with the entire climate change issue Models based on a false assumption about the effect of CO2 on the Earth’s thermal radiation are being seen as valid when in fact all physical evidence refutes any possibility of an enhanced greenhouse effect let alone oner caused by CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. In 1979 when the Shah was deposed and the oil price skyrocketed the CO2 emissions dropped from year to year for four successive years. If CO2 emissions from fossil fuels were in fact the prime source for the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration; this would have been visible to some extent on the atmospheric CO2 concentration from Mauna Loa Observatory considering that this picks up the annual 6ppmv variation in CO2 from seasonal uptake by plants. If you check the MLO data for the years 1979 to 1983 you will not be able to see any possible related change to te curve. To a scientist this means that there is no justification for the statement that most of the increase in observed CO2 is from fossil fuel emissions; but to someone with a political agenda that requires this connection to be true some study will be found to explain how this is still possible. When five datasets all show the Earth to be cooling since 2002 and the atmospheric CO2 concentration is increasing at a near perfect linear rate of 2ppmv/year in spite of a drop in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels from 2008 to 2009 and the world is still under the impression that thge world is warming catastrophically because of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels true scientists would be up in arms about the continued global warming fraud……

    • Norm,
      You are doing a good rendition of the Black Knight.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        I am not sure whether this is a compliment or an insult. If it is an insult and gets the academic community to challenge global warming orthodoxy and put an end to this climate change fraud that has killed the economy and caused starvation for hundreds of millions of the world’s poor; I would be very pleased to be so insulted.

      • John from CA

        Hey Norm,
        Ease up on Doctor Curry, she consistently proves to be one of the few with an open and objective view of the IPCC consensus.

        I just finished reading the paper by Lynch et al. (listed in the article) and ran across this statement which summarizes the objectives nicely.

        This region [Barrow] was selected for this study for several reasons: it is modest in geographic scope and relatively isolated from remote events that cannot be adequately anticipated or controlled, there are significant current issues of economic and policy relevance associated with climate, and authority and control for governing the region are concentrated in the NSB. Further, dramatic change is already evident in this region, and hence it represents a relatively simple model of larger problems and opportunities that may later become apparent in other regions of the globe.

        I then took a brief look at some of Barrow’s statistics:
        – total area ~21 sq. miles (3 sq miles of which is water)
        – land type is tundra sitting on permafrost (as much as 1,300 feet (400 m) in depth)
        – “Barrow is a desert, and averages less than 5 inches (127 mm) “equivalent rainfall” per year”
        – 10 feet above sea level
        – unpaved roads
        – local weather station report indication the town’s albedo and dirt roads may be skewing temperature readings

        Related Information which doesn’t show much of any major climate change trends:
        2011 Sea Ice Break-Up Forecast for Barrow, Alaska

        The trends appear to mirror Canada sea ice formation and break-up — approximately 1-2 weeks lag but vary by region year to year.

        The things that jump out are the lack of ground cover in an arial view and the unusual depth of the permafrost. The permafrost, if the information is correct, exceeds the depth of the adjoining ocean shelf which seems very odd.

        Moving the entire village is one option discussed above but I suspect raising the elevation of the town, adding a sea ice desalination plant, a sea wall (assuming the geologic formations can support it), ocean aquaculture in the bay, and some frost hardy ground cover and snow fences to capture a layer of insulation would probably do the trick. Barrow’s principal problem, beyond its elevation, appears to be lack of wind protection in winter.

      • Norm,
        It is not an insult, just an indication that you are disappointing.
        AGW does not need for soot to become magically incapable of triggering ice melt to be falsified. CO2 can act as Arrhenius described and we are still not facing a climate catastrophe.
        Skeptics are correct because those who promote AGW are wrong. We are the ones using the laws of physics and the evidence of history to falsify AGW. Let the believers rewrite the laws of physics and put history down the memory hole. Skeptics thrive in truth and reality.

      • Hunter,

        I fully agree with what you are saying here, but I have been reading Norms posts very carefully. Despite the impression that he seems to be working his way through a bottle of wine each time he puts up a batch of responses, I actually find what he is saying is generally plausible and reasonable – including his assertions regarding black soot. I certainly think it deserves to be rebutted properly, not just dismissed. The same thing that motivated me to question AGW orthodoxy is at work. Generally, being a confirmed tree-loving bunny-hugger, I don’t want anything to do with black soot, but I can understand after the 5th glass of white someone getting uptight if assertions made are just not true, or accurate.

        I am going to take stab at understanding this at the end of the thread,,,

      • Agnostic,
        We are not going to persuade many that the AGW hypothesis fails if we dicker about things like soot accelerating melting. Differential melting is not recovered by overnight chills, and the amount of soot/black carbon it takes is miniscule.
        The truly annoying thing for me is that if the AGW community really wanted to do something that would impact the environment in a positive way, they could have developed a treaty and a technology to execute the treaty, to dramatically reduce soot/black carbon by now.
        Unlike CO2, soot is a manageable and reduceable environmental risk.

      • My issue is that the same kind of flawed thinking may well be in evidence over this issue. I have never accepted that the reason we shouldn’t do anything about CO2 emissions is because it is too hard, only that it is unnecessary on the basis of the evidence for AGW. I would generally be supportive of much behind the awareness of our impact on our environment brought about by concern over AGW, provided the reasons we are given are sound and scientifically correct. Many of the things suggested to mitigate GW are good things to do, such as improving efficiency, recyling etc etc. I am quite prepared to accept that black soot which is a repugnant form of pollution to me anyway, is damaging to a fragile ecosystem such as the arctic. What I won’t accept is a faulty scientific basis, and there are sufficient doubts in this case. I therefore remain to be convinced, but entirely open to it.

      • Well said.
        And since it is painfully clear we are dealing with some very bad corruption regarding CO2 as the primary driver of a non-existant crisis, perhaps asking people to be very clear about soot is called for.
        But soot is well linked to disease, and is a result of incomplete combustion, which implies in the case of coal at least, heavy metals and nasty NOx and SOx we are all better off without.
        I will never forget a visit to Tula, a city outside of Mexico City, that has a refinery sitting next to a huge power palnt that apparently burns heavy bunker oil as a fuel. the smoke was heavy, sooty and black.

      • Coal energy, in particular, has a lot of negative externalities associated with it, including many hundreds of thousands of deaths each year from people breathing the emissions.

        There are a number of associated benefits to discouraging the burning of fossil fuels. I tend to think that keeping the earth somewhere near the range of temperature which has existed for the last 8,000 years of human civilization is high on the list, but there are short-term benefits as well as long-term benefits; less lung disease, less coal ash in the water, less damage to the landscape.

  16. Something which does not seem to have been addressed here is the ‘momentum’ of the Earth’s climate system. The climate system does not respond instantaneously but there are various time lags intrinsic to the system. For example, atmospheric CO2 concentrations lag about 800 years behind temperature increases – mechanism being the outgassing of the oceans. What role/relevance has the medieval warm period to the current situation?
    What other ‘lag periods’ are known? How do they relate to the current situation?

    • Indeed, if the ~800 years lag is real (i think it’s average and it varies a lot?), then we should observe the CO2 increase about ~800 years later.

      However, that lag could be some kind of an artifact and should be taken with a grain of salt. The same applies to all ice core records values, especially the CO2 (and other gases).

      • Bear in mind that the lags in the record occurred in response to the comparatively gentle prodding of natural forcings, like Milankovitch cycle variations. Greenhouse gas warming is pushing the system much harder and much faster. The CO2 feedbacks, while not instantaneous, will likely emerge faster than seen in the geological record.

      • “Greenhouse gas warming is pushing the system much harder and much faster.”

        That’s a wild speculation. I think “greenhouse gas warming” is pushing nothing.

  17. Someone earlier asked a simple question: When did global warming start? Seems like a reasonable and relevant question. If climate science can predict into the future the effect of adding given amounts of CO2, then climate science should be able to determine when warming due to CO2 first occurred, and in what forms. So when would have the signal have begun being picked up. And when does it show in this case?

    “a 40-mile stretch of Alaska coastline along the Beaufort Sea

    One stretch of Alaska coastline lost 28 feet of land per year between 2002 and 2007.

    retreated an average of 6.8 meters (22 feet) per year between 1955 and 1979; over the next 23 years, that rate increased by another six feet per year.”

    So this phenomenon was occurring in the 1950s. Does the rate increase cited above align with the theoretical ‘start’ of AGW effects?

    • That’s crucial. When did ACO2GW start “officially”? About 1950s?

    • “Someone earlier asked a simple question: When did global warming start? Seems like a reasonable and relevant question.”

      It isn’t. When did evolution start? What day? When did relativity start?

      The theory of AGW is merely a series of observations about the workings of the physical world as deduced from evidence. The principles of AGW have always been true. The degree to which human activities are warming the climate has varied, and greatly accelerated over the past two hundred years.

      Basically, it’s a question that indicates the questioner doesn’t understand what science is.

      • Ahhh. Witchcraft. Not science. Explains a lot.

      • So the amount of warming resulting from human activity during the little ice age was what?

      • You went to private school, you tell us.

      • “Private school” ? Do I detect an element of class envy?

        You won’t like me mentioning Mann, but there are lots of other hockey stick type graphs besides his, which all show the ‘blade’ starting at about the start of the 20th century, which would indicate that a mixture of GH gas effects, land use changes and TSI changes would have started to show in the temperature record.

        Mind you, what do I know? All my education was paid for by the taxpayer not my parents.

      • your parents didn’t pay taxes?

      • No they were too poor – we just lived on welfare :-)

      • tonto –
        Do you have ANY idea what kind of bear trap you just stepped in.? :-)

      • The mythical bear trap that denier fantasists invoke after a long day of being beaten into the ground by Mann’s hockey stick?

        Every time deniers tangle with Mann, they lose. Over and over and over. Fortunately there inherent ability to lie to themselves and others about reality protects their fragile egos from this realization.

      • Actually I didn’t, I just didn’t let my progressive teachers do my thinking for me. And I didn’t limit my reading to what they preached. If I had, I would probably be a progressive like so many around here.

        Those who absorbed without argument what their progressive authority figures taught them in high school and college, are the same geniuses who are so fond of appeals to authority in climate science now. Once a good sheep, always a good sheep.

      • And you haven’t progessed much at all since then?

      • Not that it matters, but my education consisted of public elementary schools in Chicago, public high school in Indiana, a nominally Catholic private university, and a public law school. By far the most progressive “educators” were at the private, supposedly Catholic, university. But I was taught by maybe 5 true conservatives throughout the entire course of education, the remainder being typical progressives.

      • “Not that it matters” It shouldn’t. But we do often hear a silly argument that AGW is just something dreamt up by “liberal elites”. If you have time to watch it, there is a good account of the so called climate ” debate” by Sir Paul Nurse on the link below. If you’d care to look at his background you certainly wouldn’t say it was privileged. Except, perhaps, he was lucky enough to be born at just the right time to benefit from free university education.

      • If you attended a public school, there is no reason to pay any attention to what you say. You’re been propagandized by North Korean-type progressives. You could be one of them Manchurian thingamahjigs. A conservative until you get that special phone call, and then you might go all Raymond Shaw on us.

        I went to cowboy schools. Basically, we did 4-H, BS, and football.

      • So would say your hate of “progressives” (i.e., people who are not carpet-chewing right-wingers) stems from your failures in the educational realm?

        “By far the most progressive “educators” were at the private, supposedly Catholic, university.”

        Christianity is full of dangerous progressive ideas like caring for the poor and deferring moral judgements to God.

        That’s why true conservatives, from Rand to Hitler, ultimately break from Christianity and its dangerous message of compassion and shared sacrifice.

      • “Once a good sheep, always a good sheep.”

        Sounds like you are speaking from experience — which would make sense, since sheeplike devotion to various conservative idols is the definition of a good conservative.

        Progressives, by contrast, like a little more independence of thought. But they also like intelligence, which might explain why you struggled with all but five of dozens of instructors.

      • Robert,
        The last thing progressives can stand is independent thought.
        Progressives impose speech codes at Universities, call for reimposition of censorship on the radio,and the main progressive networks, Pacifica and NPR, either suck off the public teat for funding, or waste their time proving who can be the biggest left wing hack.
        You can tell yourself how cool and independent progressives are all day long, but you are fooling someone- yourself- already proven to be easily fooled.

      • Something seems to have disturbed the flock.

      • Robert, not to put too fine a point on it, but you are full of bs.

    • MarkB –
      Three comments -all subjective, but verifiable –
      1) The Robson glacier at Mt Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia has retreated well over a kilometer – since 1912 when the first markers were installed.

      2) A dozen years ago, in one of my first GW Internet forum discussions, I was pointed to an aerial view of a glacial cirque that no longer had its glacier – it had receded to….. zero/nothing. I was told this was the result of – you guessed it – CO2. But some minimal research revealed that that particular glacier had disappeared prior to 1920.

      3) Deadhorse, Alaska is directly on the Beaufort Sea – about 8 feet above sea level, IIRC. It’s the Northern terminus of the Alyeska Pipeline and the collection point for all flow through the pipeline. There is no apparent alarm about either erosion or sea level rise – either of which would require millions of dollars and years of effort to move the entire facility inland.

      So – to answer your question, the purported effects started long before any reasonable estimate of the start of Global Warming based on human CO2 emissions.

  18. “The degree to which human activities are warming the climate has varied, and greatly accelerated over the past two hundred years.

    Basically, it’s a question that indicates the questioner doesn’t understand what science is.”

    seriously Robert? LOL

    • Seriously, Teddy. Facts are facts. “LOL.”

      • ian (not the ash)

        Gawd, would you guys take it somewhere else! Perhaps Prof. Curry could divert this endless tit for tat nonesense to a ‘kindergarten cat fight’ thread for those who just can’t play nicely.

  19. JC: The latest analysis of sea ice extent by the NSIDC shows that early June sea ice extent is lower than corresponding 2007 value.

    So what, the 2010 extent at this point was also lower than the 2007 value at this point. The extent took a dive in July 2007 that brought it to record lows. Now if Eli were a rejectionist he would point out that you are being catastrophic.

  20. Dear Dr.Curry,

    This troll who posts under the name Robert has been posting total nonsense, fact free on many threads and simply diverting discussions. He is not contributing an iota of sense or facts to any thread and is intent on only causing disruption. It is time you ban such trolls from posting.

  21. Without getting into a cherrypicking argument, if one goes to :
    the sea ice doesn’t look untoward. Like Eli Rabett said, and shows, one data point is not something to be basing a season’s trends on. From the Cryrosphere site, neither Beauford or Chukchi have significant anomalies with most ice missing from the Atlantic side. That would imply that Yale360’s claims may be somewhat alarmist.

  22. Judy:

    “There are too many misconceptions in what you say for me to take on rebutting this on the blog. I spent 10 years studying the freezing and melting of sea ice.

    I was a little disappointed with your reply, because to me as a layman I do not see the misconceptions here. So I downloaded and read the report you linked. It’s very interesting, but it does not address Norm’s points, which I still think are worth rebutting. It’s points of disagreement like this that I learn something, rather than the usual “AGW Climate Alarmist Doom vs The Government is trying to tax my Air!!!” type of arguments threads so often descend into.

    I am going to have a go at rephrasing at the arguments:

    – Snow falls on to soot, thus limiting the reduced albedo effect.
    Well, since the soot is supposed to be precipitating with the snow, surely it is mixed? Also, are there any chemical considerations, similar to salinity? Does soot somehow inhibit ice formation, or encourage melt not just through heat absorption?
    – The low incidence of the sun means the absorption of heat is relatively trivial. But any melt during the day, is countered by the opposite effect of transporting heat away more efficiently during the night.
    I fully understand this, but for the arctic, during the summer, there is no night. So even though the sun is weak, it is constant enough for the insignificant to grow in significance perhaps? Also, anything outside of the arctic has very short nights therefore limiting the opportunity of refreezing.

    The most compelling thing I found was a figure in your article, which showed that the temperature of the ice sheet was coldest at the top, and warmer at the bottom, near the sea water. It seems to me that the arctic ice melts predominantly from the bottom up rather than the other way around from reduced albedo due to soot. I understand the feedback predicted here, that reduced albedo reduces ice that then warms the ocean etc…but unless the ice was very thin to begin with it is hard to imagine the effect would be sufficiently significant unless there was extremely large amounts of soot.

    So therefore my question is, what thickness of ice floe would be affected by black soot for top down melting? What thickness are the ice floes on average in the arctic taking into account warming caused by other factors? What parts per m2 of soot in the top layer of the ice floe is sufficient to melt it given other constants? Surely some numbers have been crunched and we should have an idea?

    And should it prove that Norm is essentially right and the black soot is a bogus idea do I think we therefore not do anything to mitigate it? No I do not. There are plenty of compelling reasons to limit our impact on the environment without inventing anything – and that includes moving from our dependence on fossil fuels and not inventing reasons for doing so.

    • Joe Lalonde


      I too feel Norm’s points are valid.
      I know of areas still missed being put into this equation if you are trying to look for accuracy of just to make a point with the rest of the current science community.

      Evaporation of the melted soot/snow would account for not replenishing when cooled down.
      The angle of the sun is interesting in the atmosphere as it is a reverse binoculars effect of the sun looking bigger at angles yet the heat is far less intense compared to having a magnifying glass of focussed heat.
      Density of colder air compared to air in the equator tyhat vibrates and has stretched the atmosphere.
      Centrifugal force from the rotating planet is less at the poles as well.
      The equator being the largest mass compared to the poles.
      The distance of the sun is closer in the northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere in summers as the planet is in front of the sun with the solar system moving forward.

    • One other question I forgot to include, but which is very important:

      – From the study Judy posted, I noted that there was a high degree of cloud cover – something like 80% of the time. Surely cloud cover would seriously mitigate top down warming of the ice? In those circumstances, since there is no direct sunlight to be absorbed by the soot, could it not act as Norm suggested and actually radiate heat away? Has there actually been some testing of these scenarios rather than observations that may be erroneously correlated with black soot?

      • Agnostic,
        I think not, because indirect light still has energy that will impart to soot/black carbon more than to ice. Think of a sunburn on a cloudy day.

      • Well you might be right, but sunburn is caused by ultra-violet radiation and even then at specific frequencies. I am not sure the analogy would hold to ice especially in the arctic. Certainly ice melts more rapidly on sunny days than on cloudy days which also tend to be cooler. When talking about albedo, cloud cover increases it and negates somewhat the affect of ice and snow albedo – it’s one of Lindzens arguments regarding the affect of reduced snow and ice decreasing albedo.

      • There is an interesting solar zenith angle dependence for sea ice albedo. The effective solar zenith angle for diffuse radiation in cloudy skies is 55 degrees, which is higher than the zenith angle over much of the day in the Arctic, so the surface albedo is lower in cloud conditions. However, the overall amount of sunlight reaching the ice is reduced owing to reflection of sunlight by the clouds.

      • Dr. Curry, does anyone have a good number for the magnitude of the feedback which would result from the albedo change caused by the loss of most summer Arctic sea ice?

        I can work up a back-of-the-envelope calculation for km2 and sunlight, but the angle of incidence problem always defeats me.

      • Robert, there were a number of simulations on this a few decades ago using models without a coupled ocean. Not sure I’ve seen any recent simulations that directly address your questions, but i will take a look to see if i find anything.

      • Thank you!

  23. wayne arnold

    I actually follow the jaxa sea ice data. Arctic sea ice for 2005, 2006, and 2010 were all lower than 2007 in June, but were higher in October. I think for AGW purposes I think looking at the March peak and the October minimum is enough.
    BTW – What is the link between sea ice variations and Temps? Is it global sea temp?, NH sea temp? or is it only related to storm surges in the Bearing Sea(what causes the increase in severity of these storms?) and is there any time lag between sea temp and ice extent?

  24. Dr. Curry
    I think there could be a simple explanation. In my Arctic temperature ‘research’ I found that centre of the Beaufort gyre is moving to the Canadian side (there may be a good reason for this, but that is for another time). Result of this is that the anticlockwise Beaufort gyre current is forcing warmer Bering strait current (here moving in the opposite direction) further against the Beaufort Sea coastline, consequently ‘massive surge of warmer seawater from the Beaufort Sea inland along the Mackenzie River’.
    Is it also possible that increasing conflict of two ocean currents of different temperatures may cause more intense storm patterns?

  25. Pooh, Dixie

    In Christianity, there are limits to dangerous, progressive ideas. Such as when they produce free-loaders:
    “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'” (NIV) – 2 Th 3:10

    Kindly note that the Greeks used different words for “will not” and “can not” and that Paul addressed widows and orphans earlier in the text.

    • Pooh, Dixie

      This was intended to reply to Robert | June 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm, but ran into “Posting Comments” problems