CCNet TERRA 13/2003 -  19 March 2003

"This is not the time to falter. This is the time for this House, not just this government or indeed this Prime Minister, but for this House to give a lead, to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right, to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk, to show at the moment of decision that we have the courage to do the right thing."
--Tony Blair, House of Commons, 18 March 2003

"I'm more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict."
--Hans Blix, MTV, 12 March 2003

[archivist comment: Above are two subjective views. What do these opinions have to to do with an objective assessment of climate change?! bobk]

    Press Trust of India, 15 March 2003

    The Independent (Bangladesh), 17 March 2003

    Canadian Press, 15 March 2003

    Andrew Yee <>

    CO2 Science Magazine, 19 March 2003

    Newsweek International, 24 March 2003

    Royal Geographic Society/ Institute of British Geographers

    Nature, 14 March 2003

    Andrew Yee <>

     Paal Brekke <>

     CO2 Science Magazine, 19 March 2003

(12) A "SINK" FOR CO2?
     Joe Montani <jmontani@LPL.Arizona.EDU>

     Max Wallis <>

     National Post, 13 March 2003


>From Press Trust of India, 15 March 2003,0008.htm

Uttaranchal is reeling under a cold wave following heavy snowfall on the higher reaches of Garhwal Himalaya, including Nandadevi, Gangotri and the entire hill region bordering Tibet and China. The holy shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Hemkund-Sahib and Gangotri also lay shivering with snowfall reported from different places.


>From The Independent (Bangladesh), 17 March 2003

Boro paddy seedbeds on vast tracts of land of the district have been affected by cold wave and fog causing concern among farmers. Farmers of the district apprehend that the crisis of seedlings of Boro paddy will adversely affect the production in the district. Besides, the cold spell and deep fog have already affected onion and garlic seedbeds of the district.

>From Canadian Press, 15 March 2003

There are six icebreakers trying to keep marine traffic flowing on the frozen East Coast. The Great Lakes are frozen. Not even the maple sap is flowing. In Eastern Canada, it's been the kind of winter few can remember, or perhaps just the kind that most would like to forget.

Despite the heavy ice conditions and a recent wave of numbing cold snaps in most parts of Eastern Canada, the weather really isn't that unusual for this time of year. "This is what we would normally expect for a Canadian winter,'' said Bob Whitewood, climatologist for Environment Canada....


>From Andrew Yee <>

University Communications
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Clouds mitigate effects of warming on Arctic
By Emily Carlson

Cloudy weather may dampen the human spirit, but it also may dampen the effects of global warming on the Arctic, according to new study published in the March 14 issue of the journal Science.

Data from dozens of meteorological stations show that the surface temperature across Arctic land and water keeps getting warmer. However, researchers at UW-Madison now show that Arctic clouds and the climate conditions with which the clouds interact produce a cooling effect, possibly offsetting to some degree the effects of global warming in this region.

Xuanji Wang, UW-Madison graduate student and lead author of the paper, and Jeff Key, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at UW-Madison's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), studied a number of climate changes across the Arctic region during the period of 1982 to 1999. Specifically, they noted changes in the surface temperature of the land and ocean, cloud coverage, and surface albedo -- the amount of light reflected off surfaces, such as snow or ice.

While a number of researchers have monitored Arctic surface temperature and sea ice extent over the years, the Wisconsin scientists say few have studied other conditions, such as cloud cover, and none have examined how changes in these conditions interact.

"To understand how and why the climate is changing, you have to think about the feedback systems," says Wang. One of the most important feedback systems, he notes, is "cloud forcing." This system involves the interplay among clouds, surface temperature and surface reflectivity (albedo).

Clouds play an important role in climate: not only do they reflect energy from the sun to the ground, but they also can trap heat emitted by the earth and re-emit some of that energy back to the surface. Depending on other climate conditions, such as surface albedo, clouds can either enhance or inhibit surface warming, says Wang.

For instance, when the ground is covered by snow, as is the case for much of the Arctic, solar energy reflects off the snow and is absorbed by clouds. The result: the surface stays cool. But once the covering melts, the ground absorbs the solar energy and surface temperatures rise.

Because cloud coverage, albedo and surface temperature all contribute to the outcome, small changes in one of the factors can produce big changes overall: as the surface warms, ice begins to melt, the ground absorbs solar energy and the surface temperature rises even more.

Recognizing the interplay among climate factors, Wang and Key set out to understand how aspects of the Arctic climate respond to changes in surface temperature. "Surface temperature is the most
important variable of the energy budget," says Key. "But to understand why it is changing, we need to measure other characteristics of the climate."

To do this, the researchers used satellite data collected across the Arctic region to compute
surface temperature, albedo and cloud properties. This information helped the Wisconsin team determine cloud forcing -- a measurement of the warming or cooling effect of clouds that depends on the interactions among the various climate conditions. They averaged data for each season, as well as for each year.

The researchers found that Arctic surface temperature during the spring, summer and autumn has warmed at decadal rates of 1.1, 0.7 and 0.7 degrees Celsius, respectively. This data confirms similar trends noted in previous studies.

Adding to this information, the researchers also found that the amount of light reflected off the ground or water during these three seasons has decreased. A lower albedo in autumn, they say, indicates a longer melt season and a later onset of freezing or snowfall.

The researchers also found that spring and summer cloud coverage has increased by 2 to 4 percent per decade, but that winter cloud coverage has decreased over the years. When data for cloud coverage was averaged over the year, no changes were noticed.

"The average annual change doesn't tell the whole story," says Key. "Opposite trends in different seasons can cancel on an annual scale, but their seasonal effects are important."

Some of the seasonal changes the researchers found may seem inconsequential, but Key says they are significant: "The Arctic is a place where small changes can have big effects. These effects can signal climate changes elsewhere." He adds, "That's why it's so important to monitor the Arctic."

To understand the cumulative effects of these small changes on the Arctic, the researchers calculated cloud forcing. They found no trend during the spring, but they did find trends toward increasing cloud cooling during the winter, summer and fall seasons. Cloud cooling during the summer, the researchers say, was due in large part to the increased cloud coverage.

"It appears that if clouds conditions weren't changing," says Key, "the Arctic would be getting
even warmer," which means even more ice would be melting. More clouds in spring and summer and fewer in winter, he says, appear to have dampened the consequences of global warming on this region.

Because of the height at which the clouds formed, the researchers say the trends they report are the result of not local processes, such as water evaporation, but large-scale circulation patterns. More research on this possible link, they add, needs to be conducted.

Wang and Key say the findings they present confirm and, more importantly, augment the existing data on Arctic climate change with information related to changes in albedo, cloud cover and cloud forcing. "We have added new information on how the climate responds to warming by looking at parameters not previously examined," adds Wang.

This information, the two atmospheric scientists say, will help researchers understand the effects of global warming on the Arctic and, ultimately, the rest of the globe.


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 19 March 2003

Yao, T., Thompson, L.G., Duan, K., Xu, B., Wang, N., Pu, J., Tian, L., Sun, W., Kang, S. and Qin, X. 2002. Temperature and methane records over the last 2 ka in Dasuopu ice core.  Science in China (Series D) 45: 1068-1074.

What was done
Among other things, the authors derived a 2000-year proxy temperature (ð18O) history from an ice core retrieved from Dasuopu glacier (28°23'N, 85°43'E), which is located in the central Himalayas, Tibet.

What was learned
In the words of the authors, temperature in the first century A.D. "was low and [was] followed by a significant increase until 730 A.D.," whereupon it "reached its maximum during 730-950 A.D., then it lowered again, which persisted until 1850 A.D.," after which "temperature has increased gradually to its present levels."

What it means
These intervals correspond, respectively, to the Dark Ages Cold Period, the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age and, near the very end of the record, the Modern Warm Period, which distinctive climatic regimes are evident in the records of many sites from all around the world.  They demonstrate the reality of a millennial-scale climate cycle that operates independently of changes in the air's CO2 content. In addition, the Dasuopu temperature record demonstrates the importance of considering more than just the past thousand years when attempting to gain an appreciation for the degree of natural climate variability one must consider when attempting to assign a cause to the temperature increase of the past century and a half. In the words of the authors, "if we just analyse temperature changes in [the most] recent 1 ka, we may draw a wrong conclusion that [the] temperature recorded in [the] Dasuopu ice core goes beyond the natural variability range [near its end]."

Copyright © 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 

>From Newsweek International, 24 March 2003

By John Ness

One man's quest to prove massive drought brought low a once mighty empire
March 24 issue - There's a spine-chilling moment in the film "Titanic," after the ship has struck an iceberg, when an engineer declares disaster to be "a mathematical certainty." Gerald Haug had a similar epiphany of doom one evening at his Zurich home last year.
HE HAD PUT his 3-year-old son to bed at 8 o'clock and then sat down to read "The Great Maya Droughts." The book boldly addressed the biggest mystery in New World archeology-why the magnificent Mayan civilization, which had flourished for centuries and once had a population in the millions, disappeared so suddenly in the 9th century. The reason, argued author Richardson Gill, was three catastrophic droughts that struck with the consistency of a metronome: in A.D. 810, 860 and 910. Mainstream archeology wasn't having any of Gill's theory, but Haug, a paleoclimatologist whose lab had been taking climate measurements of the same period, found it riveting. At about 2 in the morning, he put down the book and checked the latest results from his lab. The data gave him a jolt: they showed a century ravaged by three successive droughts - beginning in 810, 860 and 910. "I was bouncing around the living room," says Haug.

Haug's measurements of ancient climate variations in the Cariaco Basin off the coast of Venezuela-hundreds of miles from the Mayan sites in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, but affected by the same weather patterns-confirmed the existence of Gill's droughts. Haug's research, published last Friday in the U.S. journal Science , has provided the most conclusive evidence to date that a series of droughts in 9th-century Central America was an important cause-perhaps the main cause-of the collapse of Mayan civilization. The data downplays competing theories that emphasize a complicated interplay of ecology, disease, overpopulation and even class warfare. "Careers were made by coming up with these very complex theories," says Gill.

For the past century archeologists relied on paleontology-centered methods of inquiry that put a premium on digging for artifacts and bones for evidence. Research yielded excellent portraits of Mayan social and economic interactions, but it never answered the Big Question. And it yielded no evidence that climate played much of a role-a big reason why archeologists discounted it. In the 1990s, a chorus of geologists, paleoclimatologists and other scientists began to reconsider. The most strident and unorthodox new voice was Gill, a former banker and freelance archeologist.

As a child growing up in Texas, Gill had seen severe drought. When the Texas economy tanked in the 1980s, he started investigating a hunch that drought killed off the Mayans. Most university archeologists told him respectfully-but plainly-that they didn't think he was looking in the right place. The first supporting evidence came in 1995, from geologist David Hodell at the University of Florida. He and his team examined layers of sediment underneath Mexico's Lake Chichancanab, which showed the first evidence of a catastrophic drought-the worst in 7,000 years-around the turn of the 10th century. That was enough for Gill. In his book, published in 2000, he proposed dates for three severe droughts. Most archeologists dismissed both the book and Hodell's evidence-which relied on imprecise radiocarbon dating.

Haug, in 1996, was standing on the deck of a ship off the coast of Venezuela when workers hauled up a tube of sediment 170 meters long-encompassing 500,000 years of climate history. Six centimeters wide and greenish-brown, the core sample is made up of millions of tiny layers, a year to each half millimeter. As Venezuela's rivers empty into the Cariaco Basin, they leave a chemical signature in the sediment that reveals how much rain fell that year. In 2001, Haug used the core-sample data to narrow the timing of the droughts to within four to five years, which left many archeologists unmoved. Haug then teamed up with chemist Detlef Gunther-who, like Haug, worked at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Using X-rays, Gunther was able to focus the precision to within two months. "It's a superb piece of work and I want to know when these guys can come to the Near East with me," says Yale archeologist Harvey Weiss, who has studied the effects of climate on the Mesopotamians. Haug's latest results show enormous, abrupt swings of climate over the last century of Mayan society.  
It will take time for scientists to integrate the great droughts into their story of the Mayan's "demographic disaster." They've already chronicled power struggles, crop failures and political crises. Three droughts must have put great pressure on Mayan society. Some Mayan archeologists, though, aren't convinced that Haug makes an ironclad case. "This is not good science," says UT Austin's Karl Butzer. Others say Mayan specialists are just guarding their turf. "The significance of Hodell's research was clear to all but the Mayan archeologists," says Weiss. "But those Mayan archeologists who previously went ballistic with Hodell's data will be hospitalized by this article."

Scientists will convene in August in Guatemala to work through the new data. They'll be a few hours' drive from a spot where, toward the end, disillusioned Mayans are thought to have faced down their elites-and beheaded them. This year's meeting will be more civil, but no less confrontational.
© 2003 Newsweek, Inc.


Royal Geographic Society/ Institute of British Geographers

2003 RGS/IBG Annual Conference
London, 3-5 September 2003


Friday 5th September 2003, 1545-1800, Lecture Theatre 2, Imperial College

John E. Thornes, University of Birmingham
An Introduction to Cultural Climatology

Traditionally geographers have studied the atmosphere through climatology as a branch of physical geography. This has became known as geographical climatology, practised by geographer-climatologists. This is to distinguish it from meteorological climatology, which is purely interested in the science of the atmosphere and rarely in the human impacts on or by the atmosphere. As the emphasis in climatology over the past 20-25 years has been traditionally biased towards meteorological climatology, the purpose of this session is to make a case for a more society or culture orientated climatology that considers the complex interactions between the climate system and the human social/cultural system. There is a need to establish the main research themes geographer climatologists pursue and how they pursue them in terms of approaches to scientific explanation. This will be examined by a number of papers on the relationships between climate and society/culture. The session will assess whether a cultural turn is required of climatologists as climatology becomes more concerned with the application of its science to the solution of climate related environmental and societal problems and therefore needs to earnestly consider the past, present and future relationships between climate and society. 

Sonya Boehmer-Christiansen, University of Hull
Science, Climate and Culture

Are climate, energy and policy linked through perceived or expected interest (and hence to some degree culture-bound) or are they linked through objective consensual knowledge? I argue that knowledge is secondary and for 'global' climate policy is selected to serve rather than guide policy and hence interest. While the concept of climate is accessible to science and hence causality, it is also deeply culture - and faith - bound underpinning, in the case of the Kyoto
Protocol, primarily energy interests. The paper outlines why EU climate policy is likely to be driven by culturally disguised interests rather than science. This is effective 'at home' but fails internationally because there is (thank goodness)no global culture of any depth and hence faith in approaching environmental catastrophe.

Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University
Civilisation Collapse and Climate Change

In the current debate about predicted catastrophic climate change, historical cases of civilisation collapse are increasingly attributed to palaeo-climatic anomalies during the last 5000 years. Cultures that once thrived, collapsed because, it is argued, they failed to endure or adapt to sudden climate shifts. While the physical causes and cultural dynamics of civilisation collapse are still unknown, "climate change" has become the most popular explanation for the decline and fall of ancient cultures. As a result, some researchers now warn that catastrophic global warming may lead to a similar breakdown of modern civilisations. Such anxieties, however, do not take into account that most cases of societal collapses are generally linked to climatic downturns. The threat to complex forms of life and societies is mainly due to abrupt and persisting cooling and the subsequent shortage of adequate energy and food resources. Significant warming trends, in contrast, have been predominantly beneficial to life in general and human life in particular. During the Holocene, these warm periods have directly contributed to population increases, economic growth, technological innovations and the evolution of complex civilisations. In this paper, I review the current research on civilisation collapses and scrutinize their alleged correlation with abrupt climate change.

Alastair Dawson & Lorne Elliot, Coventry University, Paul Mayewski, University of Maine,
Lisa Barlow, Instit. of Arctic & Alpine, Boulder, Colorado:
Ocean-atmosphere interactions and rapid climate change in The North Atlantic region during historical times

Present debate on climate change focuses on two key issues. One view is that anthropogenic forcing of our climate and the build up of greenhouses gases is associated with the inexorable process of "global warming". The other view highlights the possibility that present climate changes may result in a "shut-down" of oceanic thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic leading to atmospheric cooling. In this paper we discuss different proxy records of North Atlantic climate change and discuss the complex ocean-atmosphere interactions and rapid climate changes that have occurred during historical times. We make use of instrumental and documentary records of past climate changes and compare these with proxy records of climate derived from Greenland (GISP2) ice cores. Particular attention is given to the Na+ (sea salt) series ( an indicator of North Atlantic storminess) as well as the oxygen isotope series (an indicator of past Greenland air temperatures) and the deuterium excess series ( an indicator of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures). Comparison of these records of past climate show that numerous episodes of rapid climate change have taken place during historical times and that some of these were associated with the disruption of the North Atlantic ocean thermohaline conveyor.

M A Younus, Bangladesh Unnayan Pradesh, R D Bedford Univ. Waikato, New Zealand & M Morad, Kingston University:
Examination of the Patterns of Farmers 'Autonomous Adjustment' to Major Flooding Events in Bangladesh

The Bangladeshi farming system is well adjusted to flooding. Throughout the riverine flood plaints and coastal deltas, the farming system is strongly influenced by flood characteristics: timing, depth, duration and frequency (number of flood peaks). This paper examines farmers' responses to three recent devastating flood events with particular reference to strategies of autonomous adjustment. Different flood events require different kinds of adjustment which, in turn, regulate the pattern of crop damage. If adjustments are appropriate then farmers might expect reasonable crop production from their seedlings. On the other hand, if the flood persists through much of the cropping season leaving little time for crop maturation, then farmers can lose a significant amount of production. The paper investigates three kinds of adjustment (routine, tactical and in-built), in two broad contexts: normal flood events and the devastating floods of 1988, 1995 and 1998. A range of information obtained in a household survey in Islampur is used to assess the resilience of farmers living in a riverine flood-prone area and their adjustment processes in the face of severe flood events.

Kieran Hickey, National University of Ireland:
The Hourly Storminess Record from Valencia Observatory Co. Kerry, SW Ireland 1869-2000

This paper examines the unique hourly record of storms from Valentia Observatory, SW Ireland over the period from 1869 to 2000. A brief explanation of the methodological difficulties in assembling such records will also be presented. There have been very significant changes in the annual and seasonal incidence of storms over the length of the study period. These variations in storminess are also compared to the North Atlantic Oscillation Index. In addition a detailed analysis of the individual storms shows that there has been significant variations in the strength and duration of the storms as experienced at Valentia. These storminess variations will be linked into the pattern of climate change in NW Europe over the last 150 years and will examine whether there is any evidence for increased storminess associated with global warming occurring.

Howard Oliver, University of Oxford:
Dissenting Climatology

During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries those not of the Anglican persuasion were generally barred from advanced education. These "dissenters" ran their own schools, places of higher education - the dissenting academies - and founded philosophical societies which were open to all. Notable among these groups were the Quakers, who considered some aspects of life, such as the natural environment and its workings, the most appropriate for learning and work. For this reason Quakers included climatology in their range of favoured studies, contributing significantly to advances in the subject. The philosophical societies were places where discourses on climatological topics often took place. Notable among such Quakers were Luke Howard in London and John Dalton in Manchester and the Lakes. Their seminal contributions to climatology, especially those of Dalton and his colleagues whose work has often been under-appreciated, will be described.  

Glenn McGregor, University of Birmingham:
Cultural Climatology - The Way Forward

The summons to cultural climatology should not be misconstrued as a call for climatologits to abandon the research mainstays of synoptic, dynamic and physical climatology. On the contrary we expect and encourage geographer climatologists to continue to be concerned with issues such as global climate system change, establishing what the principal drivers of the climate system are, assessing how the climate system will respond to natural and human induced changes, answering how society might respond to the opportunities and threats posed by climate change, and evaluating to what extent the changes expected in the climate system can be predicted. This call to cultural climatology should be seen more as a signal to climatologists that opportunities await us at the interface between science and society, an area which physical geographers on the whole have felt great apprehension with. Cultural climatology is just the ticket for catching the climate and society boat of opportunity. A passage on this boat will bring us closer to understanding the physical and societal mechanisms underlying the complex interactions between components of the climate - human system. We therefore invite all students and purveyors of climatology courses to look beyond the learning and teaching of straight climate processes by considering the multitude of ways in which climate and society may interact. Such a broadening of our horizons into the realms of cultural climatology, will not only provide us with learning and research opportunities but, provide society with a better understanding of the meaning of climate.


>From Nature, 14 March 2003


Carbon dioxide certainly warms our planet, but it might not turn on the heat, reveals a new analysis of ancient Antarctic ice.

"Our data suggest that the warming came first, then carbon dioxide increased," says Jean Jouzel of the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute in Gif-sur-Yvette, France1. Something else - probably extraterrestrial - got the warming going, his team concludes.

Aside from water vapour, carbon dioxide is the major warming influence on our planet. But it's hard to work out which comes first: a rise in carbon dioxide levels or a slight warming. Why? Because even a slight temperature hike increases atmospheric carbon dioxide, through its effects on forests and oceans.

Pioneering a new technique, Jouzel's team has probed air bubbles trapped in 240,000- year-old ice laid down as snow when the Earth was warming up at the end of a massive ice age.

They compared the ratio of two forms of the atmospheric gas argon in the bubbles, and looked at their carbon dioxide content. The argon ratio changes relative to the temperature of the air at the time it was trapped, the team argues.

They saw a temperature rise, followed by greater warming caused by rising carbon dioxide levels, that tallied well with evidence from the surrounding ice and other climate records. "We were surprised to find that these indicators agreed," says Jouzel.

Other researchers are also surprised. Other ice records had already pointed to warming as a trigger for further warming. However, vagaries in the rate at which ice is deposited in different parts of the Antarctic makes firm conclusions about the actual age of bubbles difficult to draw, says glaciologist Martin Siegert of the University of Bristol, UK.

"Making sense of individual ice records is hard enough, let alone getting them to agree with others," he says. If they are right, however, Jouzel's team has found good evidence for heat, not gas, beginning the end of an ice age.

It doesn't change our understanding of today's global warming, Siegert says - carbon dioxide levels are already increasing, so what got it started is somewhat irrelevant.

Nor does it mean that carbon dioxide is any less important as a greenhouse gas. Like many researchers before, Jouzel's team argues that a subtle shift in the Earth's orbit around the Sun triggered a minute amount of warming. "But you need carbon dioxide to amplify the effect," Jouzel says.

It could, however, be important for the future. Climate models, such as those used to forecast change, are based on past events, so pinning down what went on improves their predictive power. Jouzel's team is now checking more recent records to see what preceded other ice ages.
Caillon, N. et al. Timing of atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic temperature changes across termination III. Science, 299, 1728 - 1731, (2002). |Homepage|
© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003


>From Andrew Yee <>

Department of Public Affairs
University of Toronto

U of T Public Affairs
ph: (416) 978-6974; email:

March 13, 2003

Study explains "last gasp of ice age", says prof

Collapse of Antarctic ice sheet triggered warm interval, melted northern glaciers

By Nicolle Wahl

The melting of an Antarctic ice sheet roughly 14,000 years ago triggered a period of warming in Europe that marked the beginning of the end of the Earth's last ice age, says a new study.

A paper in the March 14 issue of the journal Science suggests that a catastrophic collapse of an Antarctic ice sheet dumped roughly a million cubic litres per second of freshwater into the southern oceans, changing the climate thousands of kilometres to the north and ushering in a
dramatic climate shift known as the Bølling-Allerød warm interval.

"The paper describes the last gasp of the ice age," says Jerry Mitrovica, the J. Tuzo Wilson Professor of Geophysics at the University of Toronto and co-author of the paper. "These are the spasms that got us from a climate where three kilometres of ice covered Canada to today's conditions. We're saying that what pulled us out of this -- what ended the ice age -- was this remarkable sequence of events. It all started in the Antarctic."

Last year, Mitrovica and co-author Professor Peter Clark of the Oregon State University made headlines with their theory that the sudden influx of freshwater that occurred 14,000 years ago came from the Antarctic. Sea level changes recorded in corals and organic material from places like Barbados and Vietnam indicated that roughly 14,000 years ago, the world's sea level rose by an average of 20 metres over the course of about 200 years -- roughly 100 times faster than today's rate of sea level rise.

The 2002 article countered the long-standing belief that the melting ice came from North America. Instead, said Mitrovica, it mostly came from the Antarctic. The profound climate repercussions of this event, known as meltwater pulse 1A (mwp-1A), are described in the latest paper, which is co-authored with Clark, principal investigator Professor Andrew Weaver and post-doctoral fellow Oleg Saenko of the University of Victoria.

The team created a computer model to simulate the effect of mwp-1A. They found that if a massive influx of freshwater were suddenly deposited in the southern oceans, it intensifies a massive river of warm water called thermohaline circulation.

This conveyor belt-like water current, which is driven by temperature and salinity, rises off Europe, sinks farther north and turns back to the south. "It dramatically influences climate," says Mitrovica, an associate with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

By shunting more warm water towards Europe and the north Atlantic, he explains, the region's climate was significantly heated, leading to the thousand-year-long Bølling-Allerød warm interval. The model also successfully predicts the significant cooling of the south -- known as the Antarctic Cold Reversal -- that coincided with the northern warming and that has eluded
explanation. In turn, this began to melt the Laurentide and Fennoscandian icesheets that covered North America and northwestern Europe, respectively.

That melting, says Mitrovica, released freshwater into the north Atlantic, shutting down the conveyor belt and cooling the north. "That explains a very famous climate event called the Younger Dryas cold interval," he says, referring to a period around 13,000 years ago
when Europe went into a deep freeze.

But despite this chillier interval, says Mitrovica, the melting marked the beginning of the end for the massive glaciers that had covered the Earth's continents. "Once the process of warming the north began, the main deglaciation started and the ice age ended," he says.

The model is able to explain the sequence of dramatic climate changes taking place between roughly 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. "It's like dominoes," says Mitrovica. "It pieces together all of the major climate events of that period. By taking the meltwater pulse from the Antarctic, everything falls beautifully into place."

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Killam Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.


>From Paal Brekke <>

After a harsh winter, many welcome the light and warmth of the Sun, and ESA and NASA invites you to learn the many ways our Sun affects the Earth, from beautiful Northern Lights displays to catastrophic power outages.

Between 18-23 March 2003, scientists across USA, Europe and the world will be meeting the public to explain the newest theories about the way in which the Sun connects to and affects life on Earth. Do not miss this opportunity to make a connection of your own, find out how to participate
in the Sun-Earth days of 2003.

Read more about these initiatives here:

European release with graphics:

SOHO Sun-Earth Days Web page with list off more than 40 events in Europe


Paal Brekke
Coordinator for the European Sun-Earth Events.

Dr. Paal Brekke,
SOHO Deputy Project Scientist  (European Space Agency - ESA)

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,      Email:
Mail Code 682.3, Bld. 26,  Room 001,   Tel.:  1-301-286-6983 /301 996 9028 (cell)
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA.        Fax:   1-301-286-0264


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 19 March 2003

In a study of the climatic history of Scandinavia over the past 10,000 years, Karlén (1998) compared a proxy temperature record -- derived from analyses of changes in the sizes of glaciers, changes in the altitudes of alpine tree-limits, and variations in the widths of tree-rings -- with contemporaneous solar irradiance data that were derived from 14C anomalies measured in tree-ring records. The results of this analysis revealed both long- and short-term temperature fluctuations; and it was noted that during warm periods the temperature was "about 2°C warmer than at present." Furthermore, the temperature fluctuations were found to be "closely related" to changes in solar radiation, so much so that Karlén concluded that "the frequency and magnitude of changes in climate during the Holocene do not support the opinion that the climatic change of the last 100 years is unique." In fact, he bluntly stated that "there is no evidence of a human influence so far." Likewise, Perry and Hsu (2000), who also investigated the possible role of the sun on past and current Holocene climate, concluded that the idea of "the modern temperature increase being caused solely by an increase in CO2 concentration appears questionable."

In focusing on these ideas, this summary reviews several recent studies that provide strong correlative evidence for a solar-climate link that obviates the need to invoke CO2-enhanced radiative forcing to explain the modest global warming of the 20th century. Specifically, we examine studies dealing with a number of phenomena that influence solar heating of the earth-ocean-atmosphere system that may have been altered over the course of the past century and discuss the potential effects of these phenomena on earth's climate.

We begin with the study of Frohlich and Lean (2002), who extrapolated a record of total solar irradiance back to the seventeenth century. According to their analysis, "warming since 1650 due to the solar change is close to 0.4°C, with pre-industrial fluctuations of 0.2°C that are seen also to be present in the temperature reconstructions."

In another study, Rigozo et al. (2002) analyzed two data sets (tree-ring widths from Santa Catarina, Brazil and sunspot numbers) in an attempt to determine the influence of the solar parameter (sun spot number) on climate (tree-ring width) over the period 1837-1996.  Their analysis revealed the existence of an 11-year cycle in the tree-ring width data that matched the 11-year sun spot cycle. When comparing both data sets via cross-wavelet spectral analysis, the authors report that "a good correspondence is observed," which correspondence was strongest during the time of most intense solar activity, i.e., 1940-1970.

A strong sun-climate correlation was also found by Vaganov et al. (2000) for the Asian subarctic.  Using tree-ring width as a proxy for temperature, the authors discovered a significant correlation between temperature variations and solar radiation (R = 0.32) over the past 600 years.  When examining this relationship over the much shorter interval of the industrial period (1800 to 1990) the correlation improved considerably (R = 0.68).

Another pertinent study is that of Pang and Yau (2002), who assembled and analyzed a vast amount of data pertaining to phenomena that have been reliably linked to variations in solar activity, including frequencies of sunspot and aurora sightings, abundance of carbon-14 in rings of long-lived trees, and amount of beryllium-10 in annual layers of polar ice cores.  Over the past 1800 years, these authors identified "some nine cycles of solar brightness change," including the well-known Oort, Wolf, Sporer, Maunder and Dalton Minima. With respect to the Maunder Minimum -- which occurred between 1645 and 1715 and is widely acknowledged to have been responsible for some of the coldest weather of the Little Ice Age -- they report that the temperatures of that period "were about one-half of a degree Celsius lower than the mean for the 1970s, consistent with the decrease in the decadal average solar irradiance." Then, from 1795 to 1825, came the Dalton Minimum, along with another dip in Northern Hemispheric temperatures. Since that time, however, the authors say "the sun has gradually brightened" and "we are now in the Modern Maximum," which may well be responsible for the warmth of the Modern Warm Period.

Pang and Yau also say that although the long-term variations in solar brightness they identified "account for less than 1% of the total irradiance, there is clear evidence that they affect the earth's climate." And so they do. A dual plot of total solar irradiance and Northern Hemispheric temperature from 1620 to the present indicates that the former parameter (when appropriately scaled, but without reference to any specific climate-change mechanism) can account for essentially all temperature changes up to about 1980. After that time, the IPCC surface air temperature record rises uncharacteristically rapidly, although the radiosonde and satellite temperature histories largely match what would be predicted from the solar irradiance record.

In agreement with Pang and Yau's study, Parker (1999) and Rigozo et al. (2001) report that the number of sunspots has more than doubled over the past century. Furthermore, Rigozo et al. say their "1000-year reconstructed sunspot number reproduces well the great maximums and minimums in solar activity, identified in cosmonuclide variation records, and, specifically, the epochs of the Oort, Wolf, Sporer, Maunder, and Dalton Minimums, as well [as] the Medieval and Modern Maximums," the latter of which they describe as "starting near 1900." When quantified, for example, the mean sunspot number for the Wolf, Sporer and Maunder Minimums is found to be 1.36.  For the Oort and Dalton Minimums it is 25.05; while for the Medieval Maximum it is 53.00, and for the Modern Maximum it is 57.54. Compared to the average of the Wolf, Sporer and Maunder Minimums, therefore, the mean sunspot number of the Oort and Dalton Minimums was 18.42 times greater; while that of the Medieval Maximum was 38.97 times greater, and that of the Modern Maximum to the time of Rigozo et al.'s analysis was 42.31 times greater. Corresponding strength ratios for the solar radio flux were 1.41, 1.89 and 1.97, respectively; for the solar wind velocity, 1.05, 1.10 and 1.11; and for the southward component of the interplanetary magnetic field, 1.70, 2.54 and 2.67.

Lockwood et al. (1999) also examined measurements of the near-earth interplanetary magnetic field, finding that the total magnetic flux leaving the sun has risen by a factor of 1.41 over the period 1964-1996. What is more, surrogate measurements of this parameter previous to this time indicate that the total magnet flux has risen by a factor of 2.3 since 1901.  Given these increases, Lockwood et al. state that "the variation [in total solar magnetic flux] found here stresses the importance of understanding the connections between the sun's output and its magnetic field and between terrestrial global cloud cover, cosmic ray fluxes and the heliospheric field."

One of the main criticisms of the solar-climate link on decadal and centennial time scales is the belief that solar energy output fluctuations are too small to cause the corresponding temperature changes (Broecker, 1999). In response to this criticism, we again point to the vast amount of literature in support of such an influence in the Solar Effects section of our Subject Index, in particular, the section on Cosmic Rays. We also refer to the study of Tobias and Weiss (2000), who, noting that "solar magnetic activity exhibits chaotically modulated cycles ... which are responsible for slight variations in solar luminosity and modulation of the solar wind," attacked the solar forcing of climate problem by means of a model in which the solar dynamo and earth's climate are represented by low-order systems, each of which in isolation supports chaotic oscillations but when run together sometimes resonate. The results of their analysis showed that "solutions oscillate about either of two fixed points, representing warm and cold states, flipping sporadically between them." They also discovered that a weak nonlinear input from the solar dynamo "has a significant effect when the 'typical frequencies' of each system are in resonance." Based upon these findings, the authors conclude that "the resonance provides a powerful mechanism for amplifying climate forcing by solar activity." Hence, there need no longer be any reluctance to accept as fact the conclusion that the many correlations that have been documented between solar variability and the time histories of various climatic phenomena do indeed have a cause that is of extraterrestrial origin.

With respect to cosmic rays, their intensity has been observed to vary by about 15% over a solar cycle due to changes in the strength of the solar wind, which carries a weak magnetic field into the heliosphere that partially shields the earth from low-energy galactic charged particles (Carslaw et al., 2002). When this shielding is at a minimum, allowing more cosmic rays to impinge upon the planet, more low clouds have been observed to cover the earth (Kniveton and Todd, 2001), producing a tendency for lower temperatures to occur. When the shielding is maximal, on the other hand, less cosmic rays impinge upon the planet and fewer low clouds form, which produces a tendency for the earth to warm (Solanki et al., 2000).

So, do solar-mediated changes in cosmic ray intensities influence climate on decadal and centennial time scales? In a provocative plot that suggests a positive answer to this question, Carslaw et al. depict a composite history of cosmic ray intensities derived from four independent proxies, two of which extend all the way back to 1700. Comparing this plot with what we believe to be the most accurate temperature history of the Northern Hemisphere, i.e., that derived by Esper et al. (2002), we note that for almost all of the 18th century, cosmic ray intensity declined modestly, while air temperature slowly rose. Then came a sharp rise in cosmic ray intensity that was immediately followed by a sharp drop in temperature. This change, in turn, was followed by a sharp decline in cosmic ray intensity that was immediately followed by a sharp upturn in temperature. Thereafter, the cosmic ray intensity leveled off, rose slightly and then declined in undulating fashion to the end of the record, while temperature leveled off, dropped slightly and then rose in undulating fashion to the end of the record, as would be expected to occur in light of what is currently known about the cosmic ray-cloud connection.

With respect to the past century, Carslaw et al. note that the flux of cosmic rays declined by about 15% over this period, which is not surprising in light of the increase in solar magnetic flux since 1901 that was reported by Lockwood et al. In addition, Feynman and Ruzmaikin (1999) report that the flux of 300 MeV-protons at the top of the magnetosphere declined by a factor of 5 between solar minima at the beginning of the century and recent solar minima, and that the flux of 1 GeV-protons dropped by a factor of 2.5. Given these findings, we wonder just how much -- if not all -- of the reported 0.6°C global temperature rise of the last century bears the ultimate fingerprint of the sun.

Another, and totally independent, source of variability in the intensity of solar radiation received at the surface of the earth is provided by aerosols (see the several sub-headings under Aerosols and Clouds in our Subject Index). In a recent paper on this subject, Stanhill and Cohen (2001) reviewed reports of numerous solar radiation measurement programs from around the world to determine if there had been any trend in this parameter over the past half-century. The results of their investigation revealed a 50-year reduction that "has globally averaged 0.51 ± 0.05 Wm-2 per year, equivalent to a reduction of 2.7% per decade, and now totals 20 Wm-2." After reviewing several possible causes of this huge decline, Stanhill and Cohen concluded that "the most probable is that increases in man made aerosols and other air pollutants have changed the optical properties of the atmosphere, in particular those of clouds."

Because of various feedbacks (both positive and negative) and other processes (such as those related to cosmic rays) that are active in the earth-ocean-atmosphere system, it is unclear what effect the past half-century's 20 Wm-2 reduction in solar radiation reception at the earth's surface has had on global climate. One possible consequence is that it has reduced the amount of evaporation occurring at the surface of the earth. This is the hypothesis of Roderick and Farquhar (2002), who demonstrated that the observed decrease in pan evaporation in Russia over the past 50 years is both qualitatively and quantitatively consistent with "what one would expect from the observed large and widespread decreases in sunlight resulting from increasing cloud coverage and aerosol concentration." It would also help to explain the reduction in pan evaporation that has been observed in the United States (Petersen et al., 1995) and elsewhere over the past half-century.

All things being equal, the 20 Wm-2 decrease in surface solar forcing observed by Stanhill and Cohen should have resulted in a significant decrease in global near-surface air temperature.  The fact that such has not occurred and temperatures have actually increased slightly over this 50-year period might therefore suggest that the reported doubling of sunspot numbers and total solar magnetic flux over the course of the past century have offset whatever cooling impetus was provided by the observed decline in solar radiation.  Alternatively, much, if not all, of the 20 Wm-2 of solar energy lost to the planet's surface may have been absorbed higher in the atmosphere by water vapor, clouds, black carbon and other aerosols.  Several authors have analyzed the ability of these atmospheric constituents to absorb solar radiation, and they generally conclude that their impacts have been significantly underestimated by the atmospheric science community (Wild, 1999; Wild and Ohmura, 1999; Hansen, 2000; Satheesh and Ramanathan, 2000; Hansen 2002).

Clearly, there is much that remains to be learned about the variability of the flux of solar radiation that reaches the outer limits of the earth's magnetosphere and how it is subsequently operated upon by the host of independent and interacting phenomena that determine its ultimate climatic consequences.  Until we have a better understanding of these things, it is premature to conclude -- as the IPCC has -- that the historical increase in the air's CO2 content has been a major determinant of climate change over the 20th century.

Broecker, W.  1999.  Climate change prediction.  Science 283: 179.

Carslaw, K.S., Harrizon, R.G. and Kirkby, J.  2002.  Cosmic rays, clouds, and climate.  Science 298: 1732-1737.

Esper, J., Cook, E.R. and Schweingruber, F.H.  2002.  Low-frequency signals in long tree-ring chronologies for reconstructing past temperature variability.  Science 295: 2250-2253.

Feynman, J. and Ruzmaikin, A.  1999.  Modulation of cosmic ray precipitation related to climate.  Geophysical Research Letters 26: 2057-2060.

Frohlich, C. and Lean, J.  2002.  Solar irradiance variability and climate.  Astronomische Nachrichten 323: 203-212.

Hansen, J.E.  2002.  A brighter future.  Climatic Change 52: 435-440.

Hansen, J., Sato, M., Ruedy, R., Lacis, A. and Oinas, V.  2000.  Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 97: 9875-9880.

Karlén, W.  1998.  Climate variations and the enhanced greenhouse effect.  Ambio 27: 270-274.

Kniveton, D.R. and Todd, M.C.  2001.  On the relationship of cosmic ray flux and precipitation.  Geophysical Research Letters 28: 1527-1530.

Lockwood, M., Stamper, R. and Wild, M.N.  1999.  A doubling of the Sun's coronal magnetic field during the past 100 years.  Nature 399: 437-439.

Pang, K.D. and Yau, K.K.  2002.  Ancient observations link changes in sun's brightness and earth's climate.  EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 83: 481, 489-490.

Parker, E.N.  1999.  Sunny side of global warming.  Nature 399: 416-417.

Perry, C.A. and Hsu, K.J.  2000.  Geophysical, archaeological, and historical evidence support a solar-output model for climate change.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 97: 12433-12438.

Peterson, T.C., Golubev, V.S. and Groisman, P. Ya.  1995.  Evaporation losing its strength.  Nature 377: 687-688.

Rigozo, N.R., Echer, E., Vieira, L.E.A. and Nordemann, D.J.R.  2001.  Reconstruction of Wolf sunspot numbers on the basis of spectral characteristics and estimates of associated radio flux and solar wind parameters for the last millennium.  Solar Physics 203: 179-191.

Rigozo, N.R., Nordemann, D.J.R., Echer, E., Zanandrea, A. and Gonzalez, W.D.  2002.  Solar variability effects studied by tree-ring data wavelet analysis.  Advances in Space Research 29: 1985-1988.

Roderick, M.L. and Farquhar, G.D.  2002.  The cause of decreased pan evaporation over the past 50 years.  Science 298: 1410-1411.

Satheesh, S.K. and Ramanathan, V.  2000.  Large differences in tropical aerosol forcing at the top of the atmosphere and Earth's surface.  Nature 405: 60-63.

Solanki, S.K., Schussler, M. and Fligge, M.  2000.  Evolution of the sun's large-scale magnetic field since the Maunder minimum.  Nature 408: 445-447.

Stanhill, G. and Cohen, S.  2001.  Global dimming: a review of the evidence for a widespread and significant reduction in global radiation with discussion of its probable causes and possible agricultural consequences.  Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 107: 255-278.

Tobias, S.M. and Weiss, N.O.  2000.  Resonant interactions between solar activity and climate.  Journal of Climate 13: 3745-3759.

Vaganov, E.A., Briffa, K.R., Naurzbaev, M.M., Schweingruber, F.H., Shiyatov, S.G. and Shishov, V.V.  2000.  Long-term climatic changes in the arctic region of the Northern Hemisphere.  Doklady Earth Sciences 375: 1314-1317.

Wild, M.  1999.  Discrepancies between model-calculated and observed shortwave atmospheric absorption in areas with high aerosol loadings.  Journal of Geophysical Research 104: 27,361-27,371.

Wild, M. and Ohmura, A.  1999.  The role of clouds and the cloud-free atmosphere in the problem of underestimated absorption of solar radiation in GCM atmospheres.  Physics and Chemistry of the Earth 24B: 261-268.

Copyright © 2003.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 


(12) A "SINK" FOR CO2?

>From Joe Montani <jmontani@LPL.Arizona.EDU>

Dear Benny,

One of the more fascinating news releases I have seen on the topic of "cleaning up" the rise in atmospheric CO2 is the one from Los Alamos National Labs in the U.S.A.  They have studied a scheme whereby CO2 could be "fixed" by the equivalent of giant cement plants (factories) in the desert.

One would hope that the need to burn carbon could be reduced in the future (soon) by the development and adoption of hydrogen technologies.  But if at any point it should seem necessary to reduce the atmospheric CO2 concentration globally, the Los Alamos scheme may be just the technique to rely on. Care to have a look at the LANL release, on-line?:

All best wishes,

--Joe Montani / Tucson, AZ USA


>From Max Wallis <>

Both Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen [1] and I [2] have explored how to approach Andrew Glikson's proposition: "either the terrestrial soils, forests, hydrosphere and atmosphere are being severely degraded, or they are not, both can not be true" (CCNet 14.1.03). It's not an abstract brain-teaser, but crucial for global decision-making. 

It comprises several questions and some basis is needed to judge eg. the value of forests in current ecosystems and to humankind in particular. Sonja expresses it as "benefits to humanity" including "the need for the management of nature". That combination is problematic - whose need, long or short-term management, can nature be managed? But Sonja ducks the whole question in saying the requisite judgements are not scientific.

As regards severe degradation of the global atmosphere, there are no longer significant dissenters over the ozone 'hole' being so characterised by scientists. The global community decided to save the ozone layer by stopping release of CFCs etc., not by managing the atmosphere.

Whether and how far forests are being degraded is still debated. And of course scientific method needs to be enrolled in exploring the issue. Indices are being developed to quanitify the severity of degradation. Full agreement on these is not achievable, while information on the extent and health of forests may be inadequate or contested.

To most of us, this does not vitiate use of the scientific method, even if the answer is not yet clear. Social scientists may point out the term "severe degradation" is a social construct, conditioned by our existing knowledge base and our ethical framework. Judging the validity of multiple answers depends on the interplay of scientific and cultural factors, so the argument goes.

But what of it? There is near consensus that the tropical forest resource is disappearing far faster than it regenerates itself. This amounts to a factual answer to part of Andrew's proposition. One can argue over what's being lost and whether the timescale is 10 or 30 years.  But there's no need for a mythical Garden-of-Eden reference state.

What's a separate question, is whether and how far the global community should let the wild resource disappear and, like Sonja, opt for forest "management". That has no purely scientific answer, but scientists surely have much to contribute to it, eg. through putting
the concept of biodiversity on a sounder footing.

[1] On the Benefits to Humans From Change
Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen <> CCNet TERRA 12/2003
-  13 March 2003

[2] Scientific Method and Cultural Relativism in the Lomborg Argument
     <> CCNet TERRA 7/2003 -  29 January 2003

PS. I am glad to hear (MODERATOR'S NOTE, CCNet TERRA 12/2003) that none of Andrew Glikson's many contributions has ever been rejected. But that's not true of my few.
Max Wallis
Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology tel. 029 2087 6436      
2 North Road       
Cardiff University CF10 2DY              


>From National Post, 13 March 2003
Terence Corcoran 

A whole town is frozen solid in Newfoundland, the Great Lakes are sheets of ice, snow is still piled up on Toronto streets, Britain has been caught in a deep freeze, Europeans shivered through January, thousands died in Russia from the cold, rice paddies have turned into skating rinks in Southeast Asia, people are dying from the cold in Bangladesh, parts of China's Yellow River have frozen over.

What's going on? Nothing much, actually. It's just the weather. But these days the weather, hot and cold, is a political issue, and that means you can't let erratic weather go by without running it through the filter of climate change.

Through a long, grim winter in Eastern Canada, the first question raised on elevators and in coffee shops has been "Whatever happened to global warming?" In the strip of territory that runs from the Great Lakes along the St. Lawrence River through to the Maritimes, below-normal temperatures have sunk spirits, raised heating costs and caused untold extra hardship and irritation for more than 20 million Canadians. It's miserable.

So let's check in with Environment Canada, propaganda central for the global warming scare, to see how bad it's been. Guess what? The cold gets hardly a mention. In fact, the first words in Environment Canada's recent report on climate trends take the opposite tack: "Most of Canada had above normal temperatures this winter. As a whole, Canada experienced its 9th warmest winter (since nationwide records began in 1948) at 2.3 degrees Centigrade above normal."

If that doesn't coincide with the majority Canadian experience of the past winter, that's because Environment Canada doesn't present the weather that Canadians experience.

Who the hell cares about the average national temperature? Nobody lives there! Nor do many Canadians live in the areas of Canada, such as the Yukon and the far northwest, where average temperatures were higher than normal and pulled the national average higher.

Never mind the weather Canadians actually live through. Ottawa's climate-change bureaucracy is more interested in convincing us that global warming is a deadly real problem that requires $2-billion in new federal funding to meet the senseless Kyoto targets adopted by the Prime Minister. While two-thirds of Canadians are freezing and dismal, Environment Canada is monitoring and tracking the weather for wild elk. About 29,000 people were warmer than normal in the Yukon, while 20 million were colder than normal in Eastern Canada, but Ottawa reports it was a warmer than normal winter across Canada.

Environment Canada also has a unique, if warped, value system: Warming is bad for us, cold is good. Last October, when the department issued its long-range winter forecast, it warned that a new El Niño was expected to bring milder winter to most parts of southern Canada. And mild means bad: "This could mean less snow and an increase in insect pests and diseases that are normally kept in check by lengthy cold spells. Milder weather may also have a negative effect on the winter recreation industries in Canada, and could contribute to the melting of ice roads in Northern Canada, restricting access to remote communities."

Environment Canada didn't quite get the Ontario, Quebec and Maritime forecast right, which means it failed to alert us to the looming hardship of cold, which is a lot tougher to deal with than heat. A hotter Canada would be a more hospitable environment for living than a Canada covered in expanding glaciers.

This winter's cold isn't just a Canadian phenomenon. Most of the Northern Hemisphere -- Europe, Russia, Asia -- has been trapped in cold through much of the past three months. Headline after headline tells of killer cold.

How do global warming activists explain this politically tricky winter weather? There are two main gambits, although nobody is all that keen on them. The first is to dismiss the global freeze-up as nothing unusual. The weather, after all, is continuously changing and these bouts of extreme weather are just a natural characteristic of the global climate. Intense variability is normal.

The trouble with this argument is that it casts a bit of a shadow over the global warming propaganda operation, which has been feeding off a succession of El Niños and extreme warm weather to dramatize the existence of global warming. Carbon and other emissions are causing a buildup of greenhouse gases, driving temperatures higher. But if cold extreme weather is normal, then why shouldn't we treat unusually warm weather as also possibly just another natural development?

The second response to colder weather is to argue that it is actually part of the global warming crisis. Climate change theorists have been toying with the theme for years. Now they may have to use it.

A story in The Guardian last January explained how global warming will bring colder winters to Britain. "The amount of ice melting from the surface of the Greenland ice sheet broke all known records last year, threatening a rapid rise in sea levels and a return to very cold winters to Britain because of a slowing down of the Gulf Stream."

So there's the global warming theory to end all climate debate. If it gets cold, it means global warming is setting in.

© Copyright 2003 National Post

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