Sunday, August 19, 2012

Arctic warming: a 1947 hysteria

A hotel at Spitsbergen

Steve Goddard found a pretty interesting article from the Saturday May 31st, 1947 edition of the West Australian published in Perth,
ARCTIC phenomenon: Warming Of Climate Causes Concern
It's interesting to observe these things especially this summer when the NH sea ice anomaly stands at –2.2 million squared kilometers or so which means a significant deficit but the sea ice is so far well above the late Summer 2007 minimum.

Incidentally, there's been an excess of the ice in the Antarctica throughout this year although it's smaller than the Arctic deficit. The disagreement between the two hemispheres indicates that these two cold regions haven't agreed to join a global climate treaty yet. ;-) They just don't respect any global climate change; climate change is always primarily local. See more charts and pictures at The Cryosphere Today.

Recall that I actually believe that it's likely that there will be an ice-free Arctic summer before 2100 and I don't think that there's any problem with it.

It's interesting to put the worries about the Arctic temperature change in some perspective. Let me first repost the full 1948 newspaper article:
Warming Of Climate Causes Concern

LOS ANGELES, May 30. – The possibility of a prodigious rise in the surface of the ocean with resultant widespread inundation, arising from an Arctic climatic phenomenon was discussed yesterday by Dr. Hans Ahlmann, a noted Swedish geophysicist at the University of California Geophysical Institute.

A mysterious warming of the climate was slowly manifesting itself in the Arctic, Dr. Ahlmann said, and, if the Antarctic ice regions and the major Greenland ice cap should reduce at the same rate as the present melting in the Arctic, oceanic surfaces would rise to catastrophic proportions and people living in the lowlands along their shores would be inundated.

He said that temperatures in the Arctic had increased 10deg. Fahrenheit since 1900—an "enormous" rise from a scientific standpoint. The waters in the Spitsbergen area in the same period had risen three to five degrees in temperature and one to one and a half millimeters yearly in level.

"The Arctic change is so serious that I hope an international agency can speedily be formed to study the conditions on a global basis," he added. He pointed out that whereas in 1910 the navigable season along western Spitsbergen lasted three months it now lasted eight months.
As we know, there's been some re-cooling after the 1940s ended. Dr Ahlmann's 1947 dreams about an international organization obsessed with the climate panic became a reality. We're not inundated by the oceans (the level changed by 10 cm or so since 1947 and no human could really detect the change) but we surely are inundated by the IPCCs, UNFCCCs, Czech Globes, GISSes, CRUs at UEA, and similar stinky and despicable institutionalized garbage.

The article talks about a 47-year period 1900-1947 when the increase of the Arctic temperature was quantified as 5.5 °C. If you use the Lumo formula for the modern carbon dioxide concentrations\[

c = 280 + 22.3 \exp\left(\frac{{\rm year}-1920}{57}\right)

\] you will see that the concentrations in 1900-1947 went from 296 to 316 ppm; the multiplicative increase is 1.068 times which is 0.095 doublings of the concentration (calculate the base-two logarithm).

On the other hand, in a similar 47-year interval 1965-2012, the concentrations went up from 329 to 392. The ratio is 1.19 which corresponds to 0.25 doublings (calculate the logarithm). That's 2.65 times larger than 0.095 we got before.

So if you attributed the 5.5 °C of the Arctic warming between 1900 and 1947 to the greenhouse effect caused by the carbon dioxide, you would predict that\[

T(2012)-T(1965)\approx 2.65\times 5.5\,{}^\circ {\rm C} \approx 14.5\,{}^\circ{\rm C},

\] The Arctic has obviously not warmed by more than fourteen Celsius degrees since the mid 1960s. It hasn't even warmed by a third of it. The predictions one would extract from the attribution of the climate change to the carbon dioxide are ludicrously wrong.

Well, more modern graphs actually suggest that the warming since the minimum in the late 1960s was less than 1.2 °C, more than an order-of-magnitude lower than the prediction. The same graph via Bob Tisdale makes it likely that the Arctic warming between 1900 and 1947 was around 1 °C, too.

This is just an example. Worriers in 1947 should have just accepted the apparent rise of the average Arctic temperature by 5.5 °C in 47 years as a normal, natural process. That's what Nature likes to do, especially in the polar climate. To say the least, today, in 2012, we know very well that most of the 5.5 °C warming reported in 1900-1947 had nothing to do with the rise of the gas we call life. And if you believe the "refreshed reconstruction" we are using these days, 80 percent of the Arctic warming reported in the 1947 newspapers hadn't taken place at all.

Has our ability to reconstruct the temperature improved since 1947? We must still use the same raw data that the climatologists could have already used back in 1947. Can we apply more accurate corrections? Do we really know that the corrections are making the results more accurate and not less accurate? Do we believe that most of the a posteriori adjustments are motivated by impartial improvements in the methodology rather than someone's desire to distort the data in a particular direction?

There are lots of questions. But some of them have rather clear answers, too. Theories attributing sensational temperature changes to the increase of the carbon dioxide concentration the atmosphere don't work. Their failure actually looks hysterical. And in some cases, the very measurements of the temperature change turn out to be bogus.

And that's the memo.


  1. Hi Luboš,

    we already know that you do not consider arctic summer ice disappearance to be a problem, certainly it will be a problem for those who eat and grow food. By the way arctic ice extent record *has been* surpassed already, depending on which dataset are you observing... see:

    Regards, Alex

  2. Dear Alex, you "already" know many things (or at least several things, or at least one thing) about the world but the point you mentioned was neither the only point nor the main point of this blog entry. It had many points, for example the point that it is preposterous to assign any impressive changes of the outdoor temperature to particular human activities and one must be very careful about taking regional data obtained from questionable sources too seriously.

    I know that it's hard for you to concentrate with your brain of an unhinged bigot but could you please try to calmly focus and read my blog entry again?

  3. As they say: history does repeat itself.

  4. Right. However, also: You could never step twice into the same river. ;-) And fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. :-)

  5. Luboš, I may be irrational, but today 3rd domino of arctic ice has fallen, arctic SIA is lowest ever according to Cryopshere today:

    greetings from hot Brno :-) Alexander

  6. Congratulations, Alexander, to this wonderful great day of yours.

    There's another reason for you to be happy. The absolute overall measured record in the temperature on the Czech territory was beaten yesterday.

    In Dobřichovice, they found 40.4 Celsius degrees, higher than the previous record from 1983, 40.2 Celsius degrees. This amazing improvement by a whopping 0.2 degrees in 30 years surely proves that global warming is dangerous and it shows that you will soon be declared the savior of the mankind. Congratulations again and tell the nurse to double the amount of effective substance in the shot, too.

  7. Thanks Luboš, several people informed me about this abs. record. Of course, it os not proof of AGW, but it does not surprise me. On the other hand, absolute cold temperature *would* surprise me. Rising average temperature makes absolute hot temperatures more likely to happen. No mystery here.

    And you are wrong on the notion, that hot temperatures does not matter... did you check the prices of soya (and corn) lately? Or, ask those farmers in US how is their cattle and horses doing (hint: not very well)...



  8. Dear Alexander, record high temperatures don't surprise me and record low temperatures don't surprise me, either.

    It's not true that record low temperatures have disappeared and you're again deluded if you think that they have. For a given date, the record-high and record-low temperatures were coming at all places and the ratio is 2:1 which is still very far from seeing zero of record low temperatures.

    The inflation-adjusted price of corn is now 2 times lower than it was in 1974, see e.g.

  9. Hi Luboš,

    absolute high temp. record in Slovakia was on 20. july 2007 - and beaten just the old record on 18. july 2007 ;-)

    Now, I might be surprised by abs. cold record in 1987 in Czech Republic (for a while), but I am literally shocked that you quote A. Watts cherrypicked time period, as you are well aware.

    High food prices in 1974 co-incidented with 1st oil shock in 1973 (per capita oil consumption peaked - globally), but I do not know where B. Lomborg got the data (he does not cite the source), though they might be right.

    However, commodity prices as a group (inflation adjusted) are today higher than during the past century, so says McKinsey consultancy group:


  10. I find it rather incredible for you to find the chutzpah to criticize Anthony for "cherry-picking". This is what you and your alarmist comrades are doing almost every day and you really make living out of it. Anthony wasn't cherry-picking in any way; on Sunday, the latest Saturday and Sunday wasn't cherry-picked. It was objectively a special period of time known as the "present" or "yesterday" or "today" and reporting on what's just happening with the temperature is just a weather reporting. He didn't try to derive any spectacular or stunning "implications" out of the weather, like that we should regulate CO2, he was just reporting on the facts about the weather in his country which just happens to be the most important country in the world.

    The very graph you attached clearly shows that there's no trend in commodity prices for 100 years and it you pick some very short interval and compare it with the rest, and pretend the comparison to describe the trend, then you are cherry-picking - you're doing exactly what you accuse Anthony of doing except that he's not doing it but you are.

    Euphemistically speaking, you are a dishonest fanatical bastard, liar, idiot, and thief.

  11. Problems that have been tailored mostly to promote national and international socialism only are not real problems.