"Everyone's heard the dire warnings about global warming. El Nino's
said to be making a comeback, and the Pineapple Express has lashed B.C.
with heavy rains. Think weather watching is scary? Well, here's some
really bad news. Climatologists say we're overdue for another ice age. The
Earth, they say, has basked in an unusually long and warm period whose time
may be uncomfortably nearing its end."
--Steve Berry, The Province, 14 January 2002

"Within a decade, polar scientists hope to develop a model that
combines natural climatic cycles with anthropologic -- man-made --
climatic influences. During this century, they say, we will see either the
beginnings of a new ice age or the onset of human-influenced global
--Joseph Frey, National Post, 14 January 2002

"It is very likely [90-99% probability] that nearly all land areas
will warm more rapidly than the global average, particularly those at high
latitudes in the cold season."
--2001 UN IPCC Report

"Antarctica overall has cooled measurably during the last 35 years
-- despite a global average increase in air temperature of 0.06 degrees
Celsius during the 20th century. The findings are puzzling because many
climate models indicate that the Polar regions should serve as bellwethers
for any global warming trend, responding first and most rapidly to an
increase in temperatures. [Peter Doran] added that documentation of the
continental cooling presents a challenge to climate modelers. "Although
some do predict areas of cooling, widespread cooling is a bit of a
conundrum that the models need to start to account for," he said."
--National Science Foundation, 13 January 2002

"It hasn't been a popular paper politically, let's put it that way."

--Peter Doran, University of Illinois

    Andrew Yee <>

    Nation Post Online, 14 January 2002

    Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, Tech Central Station, 15 January 2002


    National Post Online, 14 January 2002

    The Vancouver Province, 13 January 2002

    Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 January 2002


    National Geographic Today, 10 January 2002

     Steve Drury <>

     Jens Kieffer-Olsen <>

     David Wojick, Electricity Daily, 14 January 2002


>From Andrew Yee <>

National Science Foundation
Washington, D.C.

Media contacts:
Peter West, (703) 292-8070,
Paul Francuch, (312) 996-3457,

Embargoed until 2:00 P.M. EST, January 13, 2002

NSF PR 02-03

Pondering a Climate Conundrum in Antarctica

Unique, distinct cooling trend discovered on Earth's southernmost

Antarctica overall has cooled measurably during the last 35 years -- despite
a global average increase in air temperature of 0.06 degrees Celsius during
the 20th century -- making it unique among the Earth's continental
landmasses, according to a paper published today in the
online version of Nature
[ ].

Researchers with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Long-term Ecological
Research (LTER) site in Antarctica's Dry Valleys -- a perpetually snow-free,
mountainous area adjacent to McMurdo Sound -- argue in the paper that
long-term data from weather stations across the continent, coupled with a
separate set of measurements from the Dry Valleys, confirm each other and
corroborate the continental cooling trend.

"Our 14-year continuous weather station record from the shore of Lake Hoare
reveals that seasonally averaged surface air temperature has decreased by
0.7 degrees Celsius per decade," they write. "The temperature decrease is
most pronounced in summer and autumn. Continental cooling, especially the
seasonality of cooling, poses challenges to models of climate and ecosystem

The findings are puzzling because many climate models indicate that the
Polar regions should serve as bellwethers for any global warming trend,
responding first and most rapidly to an increase in temperatures. An ice
sheet many kilometers thick in places perpetually covers almost all of

Temperature anomalies also exist in Greenland, the largest ice sheet in the
Northern Hemisphere, with cooling in the interior concurrent with warming at
the coast.

Peter Doran, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, the lead author of
the paper, and his co-authors, acknowledge that other studies conducted in
Antarctica have deduced a warming trend elsewhere in the continent. But they
note that the data indicate that the warming occurred between 1958 and 1978.
They also note that the previous claims that Antarctic is warming may have
been skewed because the measurements were taken largely on the Antarctic
Peninsula, which extends northwards toward South America. The Peninsula
itself is warming dramatically, the authors note, and there are many more
weather stations on the Peninsula than elsewhere on the continent.

Averaging the temperature readings from the more numerous stations on the
Peninsula has led to the misleading conclusion that there is a net warming
continent-wide. "Our approach shows that if you remove the Peninsula from
the dataset, and look at the spatial trend. The majority of the continent is
cooling," said Doran.

He added that documentation of the continental cooling presents a challenge
to climate modelers. "Although some do predict areas of cooling, widespread
cooling is a bit of a conundrum that the models need to start to account
for," he said.

The Dry Valleys are the largest ice-free area in Antarctica, a desert region
that encompasses perennially ice-covered lakes, ephemeral streams, arid
soils, exposed bedrock and alpine glaciers. All life there is microscopic.

The team argues that the cooling trend could adversely affect the unique
ecosystems in the region, which live in a niche where a delicate balance
between freezing and warmer temperatures allows them to survive and where
liquid water is only available during the very brief summer. They argue that
a net cooling of the continent could drastically upset that balance.

"We present data from the Dry Valleys representing the first evidence of
rapid terrestrial ecosystem response to climate cooling in Antarctica,
including decreased lake primary productivity and declining soil
invertebrates," they write.

Their data, they argue, are "the first to highlight the cascade of
ecological consequences that result from the recent summer cooling."


Editors: For available photography and b-roll, call Dena Headlee, (703)
For more information about the Dry Valleys LTER, see:
For more information about NSF's network of LTER sites, see:

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and
education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual
budget of about $4.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states, through grants
to about 1,800 universities and institutions nationwide. Each year, NSF
receives about 30,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about
10,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $200 million in professional
and service contracts yearly.


[Image 1: (1MB)]
Sunlight plays off the Canada Glacier in the Wrigth Valley, one of the
McMurdo Dry Valleys. Photo credit: Peter Doran/National Science Foundation

[Image 2: (860KB)]
The U.S. Antarctic Program field camp at Lake Hoare in the McMurdo Dry
Valleys, with the Canada Glacier in the background. Photo credit: Peter
West/National Science Foundation


>From Nation Post Online, 14 January 2002

'A bit of a conundrum': Study says continent is world's only one to grow

Margaret Munro
National Post

Contrary to the popular notion that the Antarctic is warming because of
climate change, researchers have discovered the icy continent has grown
markedly colder in the last 35 years.

The cooling makes it unique among Earth's continents, the rest of which are
warming up, say U.S. scientists who report their findings in a paper
published by the journal Nature yesterday.

The findings are sure to stir up debate as scientists try to explain how a
cooling Antarctica fits into the global warming picture.

Nature decided to feed the debate by rushing the findings into print in its
new online edition yesterday. But there has been "resistance" to the
findings in some quarters, says Professor Peter Doran, a hydrometeorologist
at the University of Illinois and lead author of the report.

He would not elaborate, saying only: "It hasn't been a popular paper
politically, let's put it that way." His 12 co-authors include scientists
from NASA and several U.S universities working in Antarctica.

The team's findings run counter to the idea that Antarctica is warming and
its giant ice sheets could disintegrate, raising global sea levels by
metres, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

The new data show that is not going to happen any time soon. The "vast
majority of the continent has been undergoing a cooling," says Mr. Doran,
who says the new findings are "a bit of a conundrum."

But he warns against jumping to the conclusion that global warming is not a
problem. He says it is a real phenomenon and other continents are warming.
Some areas, such as the Arctic, markedly so. "That evidence is very
convincing," Mr. Doran says.

But Antarctica, for unknown reasons, is bucking the trend.

"It's not doing what people expected it to do," says Mr. Doran, who is
hoping climate modellers and their supercomputers will be able to explain

He and his colleagues suspect the cooling may be related to climactic
changes that have decreased wind speeds and cloud cover over the continent.

Mr. Doran, who grew up in Ontario and moved to the United States to pursue
polar research when funding for such work dried up in Canada, has been to
Antarctica eight times.

As part of an international effort to take the pulse of the planet, he and
his colleagues have operated an automated weather station in one of
Antarctica's valleys continuously since 1986, supplementing it with a
network of 10 other stations that have gathered data for shorter periods.

"Our 14-year continuous weather station record from the shore of Lake Hoare
reveals that seasonally averaged surface air temperature has decreased by
0.7 degrees Celsius per decade," they report, noting that the temperature
decrease is most pronounced in summer and autumn.

Previous claims that Antarctica is warming may have been skewed by
measurements taken on the Antarctic Peninsula, which extends northward
toward South America. The peninsula itself is warming dramatically, the
scientists note, and there are many more weather stations on the peninsula
than elsewhere on the continent.

"Our approach shows that if you remove the peninsula from the data set, and
look at the spatial trend, the majority of the continent is cooling," Mr.
Doran says.

Temperatures are not the only thing dropping. The scientists say microscopic
life has been hit by the cooling. There has been a 9% to 10% drop in the
number of nematodes and other microscopic life in the soil and waters during
the brief Antarctic summers. This findings highlights what the scientists
call "the cascade of ecological consequences that result from the recent
summer cooling."

Climatologist Andrew Weaver, who heads the climate modeling group at the
University of Victoria, says the findings are interesting and will have to
be incorporated into global climate models, which are constantly being

Like Mr. Doran, he says the findings are not about to make the reality of
global warming go away. "Science does not change weekly like a pendulum
every time a Nature paper comes out," Mr. Weaver says.

Global warming is "a huge problem," Mr. Weaver says. "Even if tomorrow we
eliminate fossil fuels and greenhouse gases, we've got warming in store [in
the atmosphere] for a 100 years."

Antarctica is the one of the "last places" most scientists expect to see
warming, he says. Unlike the Arctic, which is almost a land-locked ocean,
Antarctica is largely covered by glaciers and surrounded by ocean, which has
a cooling effect.

He notes that in the Arctic there is already clear evidence that sea ice is
thinning, permafrost is melting and the ecosystem is changing as the climate

"This is non-trivial," says Mr. Weaver, noting that climate models predict a
rise in global temperatures of two degrees by 2100. "The last time that
happened hippos were roaming northern Europe."

Copyright © 2002 National Post Online


By Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, Tech Central Station, 15 January 2002

Baby penguins are starving, and climate change is to blame. But not in the
way you might think.

Antarctic icebergs called B-15A and C-16 are about 54 miles and 34 miles
long, respectively. They calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000, and
have drifted northeast. The mammoth icebergs, along with increased sea ice,
now block open water in McMurdo Sound. The Adelie and Emperor penguins,
which usually swim beyond the open sound for food for their chicks, are
stuck walking across the ice dam. Without ready access to food, the chicks
die. Several of the smaller colonies, according to a National Science
Foundation researcher, will be obliterated.

Meanwhile, the Polar Bird, a supply ship for the Antarctic research
stations, has been jammed in the ice floes for over a month. For the
Christmas holidays, the people aboard departed for home by rescue
helicopter. The icebreaker Aurora Australis has chipped through to the Polar
Bird, where they now are moored together for the twenty-mile breakout to
open water.

Around the Antarctic Peninsula from McMurdo Sound, the British Antarctic
Survey ship, Ernest Shackleton, has been unable to breach 200 miles of ice
to reach port in Halley Bay.

What's causing all the extensive sea-ice and iceberg conditions in the
Antarctic? After all, global warming from the increase in the air's carbon
dioxide content owing to human industrialization, are supposed to melt the
ice. The 2001 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (UN IPCC) summarizes the forecasts from climate simulations
when the concentration of carbon dioxide increases in the air. The computer
results unanimously predict that the Antarctic should warm faster than the
global average rate.

The alarm sounded in December when British Antarctic Survey researchers
announced that the temperature of the Antarctic Peninsula increased about
five times faster than the global average over the last fifty years. Is the
Antarctic Peninsula temperature rise the harbinger of man-made global

But the Peninsula is a tiny portion (about 4%) of Antarctica. Now, just a
month later, University of Illinois researchers and colleagues report in
Nature on temperature records in Antarctica covering a broader area than the
Peninsula. The measurements show "a net cooling on the Antarctic continent
between 1966 and 2000..." Some regions, like the McMurdo Dry Valleys, the
largest ice-free area of the continent, have cooled by 2 degrees C per
decade in autumn, and 1.2 degrees C per decade in summer from 1986 to 1999.
The 2001 UN report concurs: "A few areas of the globe have not warmed in
recent decades, mainly over some parts of the Southern Hemisphere oceans and
parts of Antarctica." (p. 5)

As the Nature researchers dryly note, "Continental Antarctic cooling,
especially the seasonality of cooling, poses challenges to models of climate
and ecosystem change."

How challenging are those measurements to the computer simulations of global
warming from the added carbon dioxide content of the air from human actions
like fossil fuel burning? Quite.

According to the 2001 UN IPCC report, "It is very likely that: nearly all
land areas will warm more rapidly than the global average, particularly
those at high latitudes in the cold season... (p. 585)." (The UN report even
defines the term "very likely" as 90-99% chance that the result is accurate,
despite the fact that no computer simulation of climate yields validated
results, but that is another story.) The forecasts from the computer
simulations are unanimous: they expect strong warming trends averaged across
Antarctica in the case of human-produced global warming, stronger trends
than for the global average warming.

How to explain, then, the warming on some sites of the Antarctic Peninsula?
The southern ocean is a suspected major influence there. Decade-to-decade
shifts occur in the currents of the southern Pacific Ocean and the overlying
patterns of air circulation. Recent warming of the Peninsula owes to the
present, sustained configuration of those air and sea currents.

By the way, the decadal patterns of the Southern Hemisphere air and ocean
have been observed to vary naturally in the past, in periods before the
air's carbon dioxide content rose significantly. Thus, the shifts are not
likely pinned to man-made causes.

The cold trends have affected the Antarctic ecosystem. Both plant
productivity and the population of worms in the soil have diminished with
the cooling trend. The growth in sea ice has shifted the distribution of
penguin colonies, some of which are disappearing while others are growing.

Continent-wide, though, the Antarctic is cooling, and the penguins trapped
by vast sea ice extensions, along with other ecosystem changes, result from
the cooling. The chilling fact is that the cooling trend across Antarctica
over the last several decades contradicts the computer simulations of
significant, catastrophic man-made global warming.

Copyright 2002, Tech Central Station



David E. Steitz
Headquarters, Washington             Jan. 14, 2002
(Phone: 202/358-1730)

Cynthia O'Carroll
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
(Phone: 301/614-5563)

RELEASE:  02-09


A new NASA-funded study shows that the rate of growth of greenhouse gas
emissions has slowed since its peak in 1980, due in part to international
cooperation that led to reduced chlorofluorocarbon use, slower growth of methane,
and a steady rate of carbon dioxide emissions.

Researchers have shown that global warming in recent decades has probably
been caused by carbon dioxide (CO2), and other greenhouse gases including
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), methane, tropospheric ozone, and black carbon
(soot) particles.

Overall, growth of emissions has slowed over the past 20 years, with the CFC
phase-out being the most important factor, according to the study.

"The decrease is due in large part to cooperative international actions of
the Montreal Protocol for the phase-out of ozone depleting gases," said Dr.
James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York. "But
it is also due in part to slower growth of methane and carbon dioxide, for
reasons that aren't well understood and need more study."

The findings appeared in the December 18 issue of the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences. Hansen co-authored the paper with Makiko Sato
of Columbia University, New York.

The warming effect of methane is about half as large as that of CO2, and
when methane increases it also causes a rise in tropospheric ozone levels.
Tropospheric ozone is a principal ingredient in "smog," which is harmful to
human health and reduces agricultural productivity. The rate of methane
growth has slowed during the past decade, and it may be possible to halt its
growth entirely and eventually reduce atmospheric amounts, Hansen and Sato

Another warming agent deserving special attention, according to the authors,
is soot. Soot is a product of incomplete combustion. Diesel powered trucks
and buses are primary sources of airborne soot in the United States. Even
larger amounts of soot occur in developing countries.

The study also suggests that reduction of methane emissions and soot could
yield a major near term success story in the battle against global warming,
thus providing time to work on technologies to reduce future carbon dioxide
emissions. Currently, technologies are within reach to reduce other global
air pollutants, like methane, in ways that are cheaper and faster than
reducing CO2.

Though reducing these climate-forcing agents is important, scientists
caution that limiting CO2 will still be needed to slow global warming over
the next 50 years.

Hansen emphasizes that CO2 emissions are the single largest climate forcing,
and warns that they need to be slowed soon and eventually curtailed more
strongly to stabilize atmospheric conditions and stop global warming. Over
the next few decades, Hansen said, it is important to limit emissions of
forcing agents other than CO2, to buy time until CO2 emissions can be better

If fossil fuel use continues at today's rates for the next 50 years, and if
growth of methane and air pollution is halted, the warming in 50 years will
be about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 Celsius). That amount of warming is
significant, according to Hansen, but it is less than half the warming in
the "business-as-usual scenarios that yield the specter of imminent

The climate warming projected in the Institute scenario is about half as
large as in the typical scenario from the report of Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC). This is because the IPCC considers a large range
of forcings and models. The warming in the GISS model is similar to the
lowest of the IPCC results, despite the fact that the GISS model has a
relatively high sensitivity to forcings.

Additional information is available on the Internet at:


>From National Post Online, 14 January 2002

A study of glacial ice cores in the Antarctic is showing significant new
data in the field of global climate change

Joseph Frey
National Post
SCOTT BASE, Antarctica - Disembarking from a C-141 Starlifter on to the
frozen Ross Sea, Antarctica, latitude 77 degrees south, is a surreal
experience. On landing only minutes before, the sky was blue and unclouded.

Suddenly it is overcast, and snow is blowing horizontally.

For some reason, we first-time visitors have assumed the C-141 would be the
only plane for miles. To our amazement, a small international airport,
complete with passenger terminals, a control tower and repair sheds, bustles
with activity before us. Six Hercules ski-mounted cargo planes are parked
beside the runway -- or iceway, as the airport is built on seven metres of
sea ice -- as well as a C-130 from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. In the
distance, a half-dozen Twin Otters from an Edmonton charter company sit

We have come to the end of the Earth to seek out some of the world's
foremost scientists of polar climate research. By 2010, researchers from
more than a dozen countries will have completed two decades of large-scale
climate research in the Antarctic. What they hope to uncover is nothing less
than the climatic workings of Earth.

Arriving with us on the C-141 from Christchurch, N.Z., is Paul Mayewski, a
transverse expedition scientist who is spearheading Antarctic climate
research. Mayewski is head of a team that is gathering ice cores from across
the continent.

By studying the Antarctic ice, some of it thousands of years old, the
scientists hope to glean insight into the history of the Earth's climate.
They also want to come up with a way to accurately differentiate between
natural climate cycles and climate changes due to human influences on the

Ultimately, they believe they can develop a tool for predicting climatic
trends that will answer our current quandary: Is Earth warming or are we
heading into another ice age?

The key to it all, many scientists believe, is Antarctica. As Mayewski puts
it: "If we don't understand the Antarctic, it's impossible to fully
understand Earth's overall climate."

Driving over the sea ice in a pickup truck toward Ross Island, the snow
squall starts to lift, just as suddenly as it descended. Abrupt shifts in
weather are a fact of life here. The temperature today is -15C; thank God
it's summer. Throughout our nine-day stay the temperature will range from
-7C to -15C, except for the night we sleep outside in makeshift snow huts
during a survival training course, when it drops to a bone-piercing -35C.
Back at the airport, we were hustled into two groups. The larger is heading
to McMurdo Station. "MacTown" is an American base, run by the U.S. National
Science Foundation (NSF), that boasts the largest laboratories in the
Southern Hemisphere and can house as many as 1,200 people.

Our group is travelling to Antarctica New Zealand's Scott Base, two
kilometres away from MacTown, and home to 70 Kiwis, as New Zealanders often
call themselves.

As the sky clears, the majestic Transantarctic Mountains appear in the
distance. Our driver asks us to guess how far away they are. About 15 or 20
kilometres, we reply, and are dumbfounded to discover the range is a full 70
kilometres away. The Antarctic's atmosphere is so unspoiled that from time
to time you can see the Earth's curvature.

Nearing Ross Island, we pass a hut where we will go ice fishing with marine
biologists a week from now. While fishing, a huge Weddell seal, maybe two
metres long, pops its head through a hole in the ice. Starved of oxygen, it
inhales so hard it sounds painful. The seal breathes heavily for a while,
oblivious to us, before swimming off. On other excursions we are entertained
alternately by haughty emperor penguins or their cousins, the much smaller,
clown-like Adélies.

Mayewski is based at McMurdo Station. He has led more than 30 scientific
expeditions to the continent in his 34 years working in the Antarctic, and
even has a mountain peak named after him. Mayewski, a Scottish native,
chairs the 15-nation International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition
(ITASE) that is collecting ice cores. He is also co-director of the
Institute for Quaternary and Climate Studies at the University of Maine.
During the early 1990s, he led the NSF's Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two
(GISP2), which involved 25 universities and led to the development of new
techniques for extracting information from glacial ice cores.

The GISP2 team drilled down 3.2 kilometres into the Greenland ice sheet and
was able to recover ice cores dating back 100,000 years. Ice sheets record
climatic and atmospheric changes over eons, and scientists can read their
layers in much the same way they can read tree rings.

Both GISP2 and ITASE have provided significant new data for the field of
paleoclimatology -- the history of Earth's climate -- and for understanding
climate stability and weather patterns, which Mayewski outlines in a book,
Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change, to be
released next month.

"ITASE will try to understand a minimum of 200 years of climate change in
Antarctica, as well as changes in the chemistry of its atmosphere, largely
by collecting ice cores every 100 kilometres across a series of co-ordinated
traverse routes," explains the soft-spoken scientist.

Antarctic research has been intermittent until now, and there are only five
or six instrumental records going back 50 years. "The scientific community
doesn't have much in terms of data for the Antarctic," he says.

What Mayewski's research clearly shows is that temperature shifts of 10C to
20C can occur in as little as 20 years and last for hundreds of years, along
with corresponding changes in precipitation and atmospheric circulation.
Closer to home, this means that within a generation southern Canada could go
from having a four-month winter to one lasting 11 or 12 months.

For around 600 years, the Earth has been in a Little Ice Age (LIA). The LIA
"is the most recent of a series [of changes], called Rapid Climate Change
Events, that repeat about every 1,500 years," Mayewski says.

"If we looked at any analog of this kind of event, the LIA should probably
not end for another 200 to 500 years. But clearly we are no longer in a LIA
in terms of temperatures. Glaciers are melting, without a doubt, but our
records of sea-level pressures are indicating that we have not come out of
this Little Ice Age."

So, time-wise, the Earth is an ice age, even though temperatures are rising.
But Mayewski suggests that, temperature-wise, the LIA has been superceded by
human production of greenhouse gases.

"If that is correct," he says, "it means that greenhouse gases may in fact
be as strong as people thought, but it's the natural climate that is holding
them back from showing their full effect. And it means that some of the
models that suggest the effect should have been greater might be true, but
they didn't work out that way because nobody took natural climate into

According to Mayewski, there are several natural events that can cause
long-term changes to climate. These include changes in the relationship
between the Earth and sun, changes in the radiation output of the sun,
changes in ocean circulation and changes in the way ice sheets expand and

He believes humans also have an impact on both the physical and chemical
workings of the climate system.

"It may not be a giant physical change, but it is a change," he says. "But I
would contend that the more important issue is human-induced change to the
chemistry of the atmosphere and air quality."

As for scientists' plans for predicting future trends, he says changes in
the climate system may soon be predictable.

"Absolutely, depending on what time frame you're looking at," he says. "I
think that in the not too distant future it may be possible to predict what,
generally, the next 10 years will hold."

Mayewski says a person could do worse than consult The Farmers Almanac, a
good oracle for weather because the predictions are based on solar cycles.
For this reason, he is keenly interested in the research being carried out
under the auspices of Antarctica New Zealand.

As our helicopter deposits us and heads out over the Ross Sea, the five of
us stand silent and motionless, watching our link with the outside world
vanishing over the horizon. Only a dozen or two people get to visit this
ice-free corner of the Antarctic mainland each year. We are standing in
Wright Valley, named after the Toronto native Charles Wright, the only
Canadian on Scott's ill-fated 1912 expedition to the South Pole.

About 25 kilometres away is Nancy Bertler's team. Bertler, a native of
Munich, is working on her doctoral degree at Victoria University of
Wellington, N.Z., trying to find evidence of solar cycles in ice cores from
the Holocene era -- our present period. Her research could provide data that
will allow scientists to develop models for predicting general weather
patterns decade by decade.

She and her team arrived the day before at the Victoria Lower Glacier, to
drill for ice cores. The Victoria Lower Glacier is part of the McMurdo Sound
Dry Valleys, which have been free of ice for at least two million years.

Bertler plans to extract a 200-metre-long ice core from the Victoria Lower
Glacier, recovering paleoclimatic data reaching back 8,000 to 10,000 years.
Human civilization developed during this period, but accurate solar- cycle
records date back only to the16th century. Solar activity has long been
known to have an effect on the Earth's climate.

Traditionally, scientists have traced solar-cycle activity by measuring
nitrates in ice cores, a method prone to inaccuracy. But Bertler's work is
unique: She is using the ice-free, thus dark, surfaces of the Dry Valleys as
a solar-radiation meter. The Dry Valleys border the small Victoria Lower
Glacier, which was written off by other researchers as scientifically
insignificant. Bertler is convinced the Victoria Lower Glacier, due to its
small size and proximity to both the radiation-absorbing Dry Valleys and the
Ross sea, will record more solar-cycle activity than the nitrate content
measured in larger ice sheets further inland.

"From our Victoria Lower Glacier ice cores, we can see seasonal, annual and
the 11-year solar cycles," Bertler says. "This provides an independent
measurement of solar activity separate from nitrate measurements, and they
correspond to the known records."

Her team aims to produce long-term records of solar activity by using these
shallow but high-resolution cores. "The sun-spot data that we acquired over
the last three seasons can be used to extend our records back prior to the
16th century."

If the scientists' findings prove accurate, they could help unlock the
secrets of the Earth's climate. Within a decade, polar scientists hope to
develop a model that combines natural climatic cycles with anthropologic --
man-made -- climatic influences. During this century, they say, we will see
either the beginnings of a new ice age or the onset of human-influenced
global warming. [compared to this assuring prognosis, even biblical doomsday
prophets had more predictive imagination, BJP].

"We have a lot more to study before we can develop a model that will
generate general weather predictions decades into the future," Bertler says.

If they get it right, they will have a tool to predict how much of climate
change is natural and how much is imposed by human activity. The information
could be used to help public policy makers decide on the correct amount of
legislation for green house gas emissions. And if the models predict a
significant global cooling, the advance warning could allow us to prepare
ourselves for the long, cold winters.

Copyright © 2002 National Post Online


>From The Vancouver Province, 13 January 2002{A74341E5-C2FF-46D5-AD1B-6C016F14DAE4}

A new ice age? Climatologists say we're due, despite our global warming
Steve Berry 
The Province

Everyone's heard the dire warnings about global warming.

El Nino's said to be making a comeback, and the Pineapple Express has lashed
B.C. with heavy rains.

Think weather watching is scary? Well, here's some really bad news.

Climatologists say we're overdue for another ice age. The Earth, they say,
has basked in an unusually long and warm period whose time may be
uncomfortably nearing its end.

Over the last millennia the Earth's climate has seen periods of relatively
warm temperatures lasting for 10,000 years. But more frequently, our home
planet has languished in 90,000-year-long ice ages.

Our current warm period, the Holocene, is 10,000 years old.

"In the last three million years the system has been going between ice ages
and not-ice ages, and the normal condition is that we're cold," said
professor Andrew Weaver, with the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the
University of Victoria

"The abnormal condition is that we're warm and the unique condition is that
we have been warm for 10,000 years. That is unparalleled.

"The Earth has never been in a period of stable climate for as long as it
has been now," he said.

Weaver said warm times seem to be inherently more stable than the cold times
-- temperatures don't take wild swings like they do during ice ages.

Those who study such things think that the climate's relative stability is
responsible for civilization itself.

"Some have argued that evolution as we know it could not have happened in
other times because of the climate changes that were so prevalent," said

"The only time we could have come out of caves to live in cities was in the
last 10,000 years."

Scientists calculate that only a few degrees change can plunge the Earth
into the deep freeze.

"In the depths of the last ice age 21,000 years ago it was about three to
five degrees cooler than it is today," said Weaver.

Scientists are now drilling on the Greenland icepack trying to discover what
happened during the last interglacial period similar to our own.

They have spent the last six summers with the Greenland Ice-core Project at
the centre of the island, eight degrees north of the Arctic Circle, drilling
a 13-centimetre-wide hole through 3,000 metres of ice to bedrock.

A previous drilling operation suggested that the last warm trend ended with
a cataclysmic drop in temperatures from those warmer than today's to the
coldest temperatures of the ice age -- all within a few decades. Then, a
century or so later, the temperatures climbed back up. They called that ice
age Event One.

The new drilling is meant to test that finding. If Event One did in fact
happen, it might mean that it could happen again.

But it's not a simple prediction.

"The fundamental problem is that people do not know with sufficient detail
what the ultimate trigger of an ice age is," said Weaver.

"We should basically have been in one already. There's something going on.
We don't understand it enough to come to any conclusion to say that we
should expect one in any little while."

Meanwhile, experts say global warming is not going to stave off a new ice
age. Weaver said scientists cannot be sure what is ahead of us even if we
somehow curb global warming.

"But if we increase greenhouse gases a problem will arise. The Earth will be
much warmer and the climate will change on a time scale more rapid than it
has done before."

As for exactly when the new ice age will be upon us, no one can really say
with certainty.

"The climate has been very unstable in the past," said Weaver. "That doesn't
mean it is going to be unstable in the future."

So is Weaver pulling out his woollies?

"If I were to live a million years I would say there will be another ice age
in my lifetime. A thousand years, no way."

© Copyright 2002 The Province


>From Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 January 2002

Weather Watch | Anthony R. Wood
It's official: The new millennium is hot.

With final December numbers weighing in last week, 2001 ranked as the
second-warmest year on record on planet Earth, according to the government's
National Climate Data Center.

For all those fretting over global warming and the end of snow as we once
knew it, this is disturbing. The five warmest years since record-keeping
began in 1880 all occurred after 1990. In the other four years - including
the warmest, 1998 - strong El Niños, significant warming of surface waters
in the tropical Pacific, contributed to the high temperatures.

Not this time.

"It was a little surprising to see it was that warm," said Jay Larimore, a
scientist at the climate center in Asheville, N.C.

The climate center's worldwide network of surface stations measured an
increase of 0.9 degree worldwide in 2001. With a surprisingly balmy
December, it was the sixth-warmest year ever for the United States, and one
of the warmest in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Earth's annual temperatures have been above long-term averages for 25 years
running, according to the climate center's data. In that period, the
government estimates that the global temperature has risen at a rate equal
to 3 degrees Fahrenheit per century.

That might seem to ice the case for human-abetted global warming and put the
great warming debate to rest once and for all.

But the debate is nothing if not restless. And once again, evidence
collected from outer space has challenged the climate center's findings from
the ground.

NASA satellite observations, which calculate temperatures for the bottom 5
miles of the atmosphere, did find some warming last year, but far less than
the global network of surface stations. Based on the 23 years for which data
are available, the satellite's estimated rate of warming was a mere 1.2
degrees per century, according to NASA scientists Roy Spencer and John

Even given the absence of El Niño, Christy was unimpressed with the 2001
level of warming.

"The warming has been very minor," he said. In 1980, he pointed out, another
year without El Niño, the satellite found about twice as much warming as it
did last year.

As he has for several years, Christy argued that the surface network has
serious gaps over the vast oceans and deserts.

While admitting shortcomings, keepers of the surface databases counter that
outer space is not the best place to measure temperatures on Earth. And they
say they have been able to make allowances for data gaps.

Larimore - the surface guy - said the case for human-enhanced global warming
isn't closed. The planet's temperature has been rising for at least 18,000
years, since the end of the last ice age, and long before the first
smokestacks. The measured warming in the last 120 years has occurred
unevenly. But he's convinced the trend is real, if not scary.

"Certainly, there's long-term and short-term variability," Larimore said,
"but over the long term the temperatures have been rising."

Copyright 2002, Philadelphia Inquirer



The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News Number 572  8
January 2002   by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and James Riordon
last Ice Age, research suggests. Under certain conditions, random noise, such as electrical static,
can paradoxically increase a weak signal's detectability, and in general
amplify the signal's influence on its
surroundings. This phenomenon, called "stochastic resonance" (SR), has been
observed in settings as diverse as chaotic lasers and human reflex systems
(Updates 121, 293, 509). Interestingly,
researchers originally proposed the concept of SR in 1982, to explain how
random climate events may have helped generate a regularly repeating
interval of approximately 100,000 years between Ice Ages. However,
subsequent evidence did not support this idea.

Now, SR is coming back home to climate: Researchers (Andrey Ganopolski and
Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, have shown that stochastic resonance may have played a role in triggering
Dansgaard-Oeschger (D/O) events, abrupt and dramatic climate shifts during
the last great Ice Age, which lasted from about 120,000 to 10,000 years ago.
These events started with sudden warmings of at least 10 degrees Celsius
over the north part of the Northern Atlantic, taking place over
approximately a decade and lasting for centuries. Curiously, the D/O events most often occurred
1,500 years apart, but sometimes they "missed a beat" and occurred after
3,000 or 4,500 years. This suggests they were caused, at least in part, by a
weak underlying cycle, such as a periodic, but slight, fluctuation in the
sun's intensity. Furthermore, using a sophisticated computer model of the
world's climate, the researchers found that North Atlantic ocean currents
during the Ice Age could flip between two different states, one in which
warm Gulf Stream waters reached only to mid-latitudes and another in which
warm waters penetrated much farther north. As the researchers explain, these
climate-altering circulation patterns might have switched from one state to
another through the influence of a weak 1,500 year cycle, whose effects were
amplified by environmental noise, such as random changes in the amount of
precipitation and meltwater (melted ice and snow) entering the Nordic Seas.
While the exact source of the regular cycle remains unspecified, a SR-based
explanation reproduces key features of the D/O events and North Atlantic
ocean circulation during the last Ice Age. If confirmed, this mechanism may
help to explain why the Ice Age climate was so much less stable compared to
that of the past 10,000 years, in which human civilization was able to
thrive. (Ganopolski and Rahmstorf, Physical Review Letters, 21 January 2002;
text available at


>From National Geographic Today, 10 January 2002

Bijal P. Trivedi

In Montana, it is an evolutionary advantage for the females to be big and
the males, small. In Alabama the reverse is true. That is, if you are a
In less than 30 years finches have undergone a remarkable adaptation.
Montana finch populations have adapted to produce large females and small
males. In Alabama, by contrast, finches produce large males and small

Most people think of evolution as a process that takes millions of years,
said evolutionary biologist Alexander Badyaev of Auburn University in
Alabama, who led the study. But here is an example of real-time evolution in
which two populations of finches developed characteristics to match their
new environments in just a few decades, he added.

It turns out that finches are able to influence the size of their offspring
by controlling the sex of their eggs according to the hatching order.

It has been well documented, particularly in the poultry industry, that the
first laid egg tends to produce the biggest chick. In Montana the first-born
is more often female, and thus the largest. In Alabama the first-born tends
to be male.

"At first we thought that first-born chicks might just grow big because they
get more food by hoarding their parents' attention," said Geoffrey Hill, of
Auburn University in Alabama, who collaborated on the study.

But transferring first-born chicks to foreign nests where they were the
youngest revealed that their growth rate was predetermined and had little to
do with the amount of food they received in the nest.

"Chicks tend to grow according to the position in which they were laid,"
said Hill. A first-laid chick tends to grow as a first-born even when placed
in a foreign nest of older chicks.

"Something is done to the first egg as it is being laid that ensures that
its chick will have an advantage," said Hill. Eggs are basically nutrition
capsules, but they also contain hormones, an immunity component, and
carotinoid pigment molecules that color the yolk yellow and are also
important for the chick's growth and development. How birds control the sex
of the egg is not known. But Hill intends to study how these various
components vary according to hatching order.

"Hatching order has very strong implications for the growth and survival of
the offspring," said Badyaev.

In Montana large females and small males are better adapted to survive the
cold, dry winters.

If a Montana female lays a male egg first, the hatchling will grow to be
large and have a much lower chance of survival. If the chick dies the mother
will have wasted its resources.

"These birds don't have more kids, they just have the right kids in the
right order," said Badyaev.

By exerting control over the sex of the eggs and their hatching order
Montana and Alabama finches increase the number of surviving offspring by
between 10 and 20 percent more than if the eggs were laid in a random order,
according to the research.

The study is published in the January 11 issue of the journal Science.

What is remarkable about this study, say scientists, is that two different
populations of finches have acquired such different physical characteristics
in such a short period of time-between 15 and 30 years.

Badyaev believes it is this adaptability that has enabled the finches to
spread rapidly throughout United States.

Early in the 20th century finches were found in only in California and the
deserts of the Southwest. The birds were brought to the eastern United
States and sold as "Hollywood Finches" in pet stores in New York. In 1939 a
law forbidding the sale of these birds led pet storeowners to release the
birds in Central Park to avoid being fined.

By 1985 the New York finches had established populations in Alabama. Finches
from Arizona gradually expanded their range, establishing colonies in
Montana between 30 and 40 years ago.

Curiously it was the finch populations on the Galapagos Islands that focused
Charles Darwin's studies of evolution. He noted that each of the 13 species
of finch had a characteristic beak shape that was tailored to a specific
habitat and food source.

© 2002 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.



>From Steve Drury <>

Climate researchers at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts have analysed
Northern Hemisphere climate data from 1972 to 1999, in the search for
correlations that might help improve long-term weather forecasting. The most
striking match to emerge is that of winter climate with the extent of autumn
snow cover in Siberia.  Snow reflects back to space a far greater proportion
of incoming solar energy than any other kind of surface, with the exception
of salt. More snow results in less warming in the area. Although Siberia is
at the heart of the Asian continent, and therefore pretty dry, it has cold
winters, so that when snow falls it covers large areas and tends to remain.
It is the focus for an enormous mid-continent high-pressure area in winter,
appropriately named the Siberian High, which is one of three systems that
dominate northern climate.

High-pressure areas do two things: air spills from them into surrounding
areas; they isolate the area beneath them from warming, moist winds blowing
from the oceans. In winter the second creates cooling so intense that
temperatures can steadily drop to -50?C or below , further building
pressure because of the increase in air density.  Siberia sheds cold air
westwards into Europe and over the North Pole into North America. The MIT
study bears out the obvious prediction based on this tendency. However, it
may also add the Siberian High to the range of large-scale terrestrial
processes - shifts in air pressure over oceans, such as the El-Niño of the
tropical Pacific and the North Atlantic Oscillation, and thermohaline
controls over Atlantic surface currents - that make ice-age climate patterns
so complex.

Cooling of northern Europe and the Canadian Shield does not have to be very
extreme to lower the topographic elevation at which snow remains
permanently, the glaciation limit - at present that level is only a couple
of hundred metres above the tops of Britain's highest mountains.  Should
permanent snow cover return to the highest areas around the North Atlantic,
that would amplify the present effect of Siberian autumnal snow and expand
the high-pressure area. That is a positive feedback driving climate towards
increased frigidity, and larger winter highs would hold back maritime
warming influences.

Computer modelling of the air-flow patterns over Asia shows that the primary
influence is the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau.  In particular, they dry out
air passing over them during the South Asian Monsoon, and hinder its
influence further into central Asia.  The two huge massifs seem to have
risen rapidly and recently, beginning about 8 million years ago, despite the
fact that India collided with Asia about 50 million years ago. Together with
other roughly E-W high mountain ranges in central Asia, they also channel
Siberian cold air to spill westwards and eastwards, and over the pole.
Behaviour of the Siberian High almost certainly dates from the uplift of the
Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau. Adding another controlling factor to long-term
northern climate has an intrinsic potential in refining academic studies of
Pleistocene climate. However, there is an immediacy to the observations. For
snow to cause cooling by reflecting away solar heat it does not have to be
thick; a few centimetres will suffice. The critical factor is the area
covered by it.

Siberia is so cold in autumn and winter that it will snow there, provided
moist air can enter.  Should more get in then more snow will cover a greater
area, to feed the positive feedback to cooling.  Perversely, the more the
climate warms globally, the more moisture evaporates from tropical and
mid-latitude oceans to move polewards and towards continental interior.

Growing concern about unpredictable and contrary change was amply expressed
by a meeting of 1800 climate specialists in Amsterdam in early July 2001.
They endorsed the distinct possibility of sudden shifts in regional climates
that may stem from increased global warming, such as return of vegetation to
the Sahara, aridity in the Amazon basin, and Europe's plunging into a frigid
climate as the Gulf Stream slows because of reduced thermohaline circulation
(Pearce, F. 2001. Violent future.  New Scientist, 13 July 2001, p. 4-5).


>From Jens Kieffer-Olsen <>

Dear Benny Peiser,

Michael Paine <> wrote:

Low probability of ice collapse - a one in twenty chance
of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsing in the next 200
years, resulting in sea levels rising by several metres. Excuse
me, but for such a high consequence event, this does not seem
to be a "low probability".

Bad as it would be if sea levels rose by several metres, it disturbs me that
there is little debate on what needs to be done to prevent Northern Europe
and North America to be covered by several kilometers of ice, something I
believe there is a one in one chance of happening within 10,000 years or

Naturally the immediate concerns in learned circles must relate to events
expected much earlier, but even so concerns are voiced over the effect of
Greenland inland ice melting 1,000 years from now!

When it comes to the colonization of space proposals are made which will
materialize only within a time horizon of thousands of years. Examples
include visits to neighbouring stars, terraforming
Mars, etc.

Would it not be relevant in an academic environment to sketch out and
debate, how the coming of the next ice age is to be countered? Even if
to-day's techniques at first glance seem irrelevant for those future
generations who will be more compelled to address the issue, I would feel
more comfortable, if some sort of consensus existed with respect to on one
hand how the cold spell could be prevented by methods available to-day, and
on the other hand how we envisage future generations to get out of the fix!
In both scenarios the lead time in particular is interesting.  Is the task
too overwhelming, if left to the last millennium of the interglacial period?

It seems of paramount importance to establish the precise timetable, which
will govern the return of the ice.  Just like it is crucial to map the
orbits of potentially hazardous asteroids well before action is required to
deflect one.

Jens Kieffer-Olsen, M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.)
Slagelse, Denmark


By David Wojick, Electricity Daily, 14 January 2002

A funny thing is happening to Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical
Environmentalist. Funny, yet sad too. Lomborg's book is basically an expose
of the statistical fallacies underlying several of the most global of
environmental scares - global warming, overpopulation, air pollution and
water supply, etc. Lomborg makes a convincing case that these scares are
hugely overblown, and a good case that they are manageable.

Not surprisingly, the scaremongers are fighting back. That is the funny
part, because it only serves to sell more Lomborg books. As the saying goes,
they are spelling his name right. The sad part is to see who is promoting
the scaremongers, and how. It is Scientific American, an American
institution now apparently gone nuts.

It started with Grist, a green webzine that could be expected to lambaste
Lomborg. They did it with a panel of four well-known scaremongers, led by
Stephen Schneider, arguably the father of the climate-change scare.
Schneider is famous for actually stating the scaremonger's creed publicly,
in an interview for "Discover" magazine, Oct 1989, to wit:

"To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary
scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any
doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between
being effective, and being honest."

Of course Grist did not offer Lomborg a chance to rebut these critics.
Journalistic integrity is not their strong suit. But hopefully some of
Grist's green readers were enticed to buy and read the book. More money for

Now comes the January 2002 issue of Scientific American. It features a
colorful 11-page spread, artfully decorated with wind turbines and iceless
polar bears, containing a critique of The Skeptical Environmentalist. Sadly,
the critics are a panel of four well-known scaremongers, led by the same
Stephen Schneider. Apparently Schneider is making a comeback on Bjorn's
back, as it were.

Significantly, two of the other "leading experts" chosen by SciAm to rebut
Lomborg cite Paul Ehrlich, author of the first blockbuster scaremonger book
- "The Population Bomb", with reverence. The energy expert, John Holdren,
co-authored a 1977 college textbook - "Ecoscience" - with Ehrlich. There is
not a lot of balance here.

Sadder still, SciAm did not offer Bjorn rebuttal space, not even in a later
issue. He says he will respond on his web page - <>.
Who's right is not the issue. It is a fundamental principle of journalism
that you don't moon a guy without giving him a chance to drop his pants too.
Shame on Scientific American.

Even worse, SciAm's editor in chief - John Rennie - piles on too. And with
what has to be one of the stupidest headlines I have ever seen (I have seen
a lot). Rennie's masterpiece of absurdity is "Misleading math about the
earth - Science defends itself against The Skeptical Environmentalist."

Never mind the "misleading math" part, that is the standard argument against
Lomborg, that he is not telling the whole story, whatever that is. Look at
the second part. Think about it, because it says that All of Science is
arrayed against Lomborg. Far out!

Indeed it is far out. To be sure Lomborg is controversial. To be sure his
statistics are selective, because he is making a specific point. All of the
relevant statistics would not fit in my house, on microfilm, probably not on
hard drives. But "all of science"? Bjorn missed all of science? The
absurdity speaks for itself, but this is precisely how the scaremongers see
themselves. All of Science? Not even close. Shame on Scientific American.

But now comes the funny part again. Because despite SciAm's incredible
arrogance and bias, it is an American institution. It is sold in
supermarkets and drug stores across the land. And they spelled Bjorn's name
right. So I can imagine millions of four-eyed high school science nerds,
like I once was, now wanting to read The Skeptical Environmentalist. Thank
you Scientific American, thank you very much.

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