Canoe to the North Pole! Or not.

Canoe to the North Pole! Or not.

As a person who values actual data, and knows how much issues can serve as mere rhetorical points for gaining or sustaining political ground, I held off a long time on making up my mind on whether the manmade global warming was a big deal or not.

Then, a few years ago, I decided to dig in and figure out for myself what the deal was. Pretty quickly, I saw statistical tricks being done, and figured out that global temps were easily within the range of normal variability. No panic.

The rhetoric was ramping up then. This was maybe 2007.

One point of rhetoric was that the ice coverage in the arctic was notably decreasing. A couple years ago, I figured this out and began learning abt this and following the issue.

There was the arctic, plus people kept salivating about how the western antarctic ice shelf was losing ice, too.

So, I considered the scenario and asked myself what I would want to know. I would want to know: from bottom up, first things first: how much ice is there at each pole, anyway, and what does normal variation look like, and what is going on now.

This systematic, independent thinking could be off-track, but it was independent, not fed by any person or group. I came up with those ideas on my own. If I am not smart enough to reason through the global warming thing, I just am not. But at least I would be guided by common sense and a respect for data, rather than be pushed and pulled by partisans.

Well, it turns out that one modest part of the antarctic was losing ice over recent years, but the arctic overall was gaining ice. And, the antarctic has way more ice than the arctic – almost twice as much.

So, in my common-sense thinking, I figured out that polar ice caps were gaining ice. If the planet is warming, and Al Gore is telling me that the loss of arctic ice is a symptom of this, then overall polar ice could serve as an indicator, aslo, and that indicator seems to trump a smaller scope indicator, and that indicator says there is no global warming meltdown.

So, I decided that yet again Al Gore was off-track. [I did not swing my chad for him mostly for that fake Black accent he used when talking to those tennessee farm hands Daddy bought in New Orleans].

Despite the polar ice being OK, the arctic sea ice happened to be in a down-swing. Nothing in nature really stays steady except change. So, the rhetoric has focused on arctic ice. The National Snow and Ice Data Center displays the running rate, with 1979-2000 data, plus two standard deviations (the wiggle room range for about two thirds of those year, indicating fairly normal behavior) as a background for reference.

They show that here:

With recent years tracking notably below the 2 standard deviation baseline reference range, the global warming panic was full on. People were planning to canoe or kayak to the north pole, and so on.

But a month ago, toward the end of April, things went the wrong way for Al Gore: we had an inconvenient truth playing out in front of the eyes of many warmists and deniers. Like Jan Berry on Dead Man’s Curve, the current arctic sea ice swerved straight for normal – AAGGHH! And, it continued, out of control, on a perilous course seeming like it would  – gasp – cross the average line!!!

That would be quite the loss to the warmists.

But no worries! The snow and ice center just HAPPENED to modify the way they smoothed the data just a day or two before the lines would have crossed. So, now, for posterity, the lines nearly touch, but don’t. [The line is not day-by-day, but the avg of the recent few days so as to take the irrelevant jaggedness out of the line.]

That indicator still remains as evidence that we are seeing natural variability, not a death spiral for the arctic as has been claimed.

Well, now mid-May 2012, conditions look favorable for that ‘current’ line to cross the 1979-2000 average AGAIN! It will be really tough, for rhetorical purposes, to go and change again the way the current day/recent average is calculated just to again avoid Dead MAn’s Curve.

The arctic ice data lags a day or two, but arcitc temp data (as well as a lot of other data) are available much more close to the moment. Here:

THat curve has average temp for each day up in the arctic. Green is avg, and red is current. So on May 16, the current is about 4 degrees kelvin below average. This is one of the several main factors that affect how much polar ice there is. If you look at this temp, you can tell it contributes to the day by day wiggles of arctic sea ice coverage.

Here is a more close-to-realtime arctic sea ice measure – it has current year in black, plus recent years –

So, you don’t have the 1979-2000 average and range like you have at the US snow and Ice center, and this is watched less popularly, but here you can see the sea ice extent vary with daily temp more clearly. The data point on this DMI chart today will be seen on the US Snow and Ice Data Center graph tomorrow.

And today, it looks like sea ice has not decreased at all, along that downward slope to summer.

A couple more days of relatively slow ice loss and the 2012 line will cross the 1979-2000 average line. Despite a valiant attempt to avoid this, the rhetorical mental landmark will be violated.

Of course, when the sevreal-year decrease trend was operating, it was all due to global warming. Now, with this return to more normal levels, it will be all due to ocean currents, wind, and changes in soot falling on the arctic. Duh – now apply that to those few years of decline, too.

Nope, global warming rhetoric is a one-way street.


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