CCNet 108/2003 - 19 November 2003

Wine lovers will be able to buy their first vintage of Scottish wine within
the next 50 years, say scientists. Using computer models, the scientists at
the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, in Bracknell, say Britain
will enjoy rising temperatures within the next five decades, possibly up by 2C,
making it possible for viticulturists to develop vineyards north of the Border. 
    --The Scotsman, 17 November 2003

In thirty years time they say Britain's summers could be like the South of France.
By the end of the century we could be as hot as Greece. This they say is what global
warming could bring us. But a growing number of scientists believe we could have
our future climate completely wrong... If these scientists have it right forget
the Riviera, Britain could be heading for a climate like Alaska's. And it could all
happen in the just the next twenty years.
     --BBC Horizon, 13 November 2003

The quality of the science that BBC Horizon is promoting was summed up by
the trailer for next week's programme - about a man who believes that there
is a secret code in the Bible that reveals that the world is going to end
in three years' time. Yeah, right, whatever.
-- Wilson Flood, The Scotsman, 17 November 2003 

    Paal Brekke <>

    Andrew Yee <>

    CO2 Science Magazine, 19 November 2003


    The Scotsman, 18 November 2003


    CO2 Science Magazine, 19 November 2003

    USA TODAY, 18 November 2003

    The New York Times, 18 November 2003

     Michael Paine <>


     Nick Sault <>

     Hermann Burchard <>

     John Michael Williams <>


Paal Brekke <>

"OLD" spots back and a Earth directed CME today.

Giant sunspots 486 and 488, which caused so much intense space weather last
month have been hiding on the far side of the sun. Sunpsot 488 can already be
seen in the MDI image below it looks very big.

Region 486 that unleashed the record flare last week is also back (lower down on
the left limb). The spot itself can not bee seen yet but the large hot
gassfilled loops above this region can bee seen. In fact the region erupted
earlier today and the large hot loops are probably what we call post-flare
loops. Looks like both regions still have some punch.

Earth directed CME!

The other "old" region close to the center of the Solar disk also erupted today
with a modest M3.9 flare. However, LASCO observed a very nice halo CME directed
towards the Earth so skywatchers should look out for auroras in about 2 days.

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

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


Andrew Yee <>


Media Contact:
Barbara McGehan, NOAA Research
(303) 497-6288,

Nov. 17, 2003


One of the atmosphere's most potent greenhouse gases, methane, may now have
leveled off, according to a study by NOAA researchers and National Institute for
Space Research in the Netherlands. Scientists aren't sure yet if this "leveling
off" is just a temporary pause in two centuries of increase or a new state of

The study appears in the Nov. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. Lead
author Ed Dlugokencky of the NOAA Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory
in Boulder, Colo., said the study is based on air samples from a globally
distributed network of more than 43 monitoring sites. The air samples show that
global methane has been constant over the past four years, suggesting that
methane emissions may be approximately equal to losses.

"Our observation that atmospheric methane has been constant for four years is
good news for climate, but our limited understanding of what caused this result
makes it impossible to predict whether or not methane levels will continue to
remain constant," Dlugokencky said.

The researchers also determined there was a significant change in the
distribution of methane globally during the early 1990s between northern and
southern latitudes. They say this change is consistent with reductions in
methane emissions during that same period because of lower fossil fuel
production in the former Soviet Union as reported in databases of methane
emission rates.

"This reported decrease in methane emission rates may have moved the global
methane budget toward a steady state, although the annual variability in methane
emission rates is too large to say so with certainty," Dlugokencky said.
Scientists have been projecting that methane levels would continue to increase
in the atmosphere at a significant rate, so this new equilibrium was not expected.

Methane is a trace gas that has more than doubled in the atmosphere since
pre-industrial times, due mainly to human activities. After water vapor and
carbon dioxide, it is the most important greenhouse gas and accounts for
approximately 20 percent of the human-influenced greenhouse gas warming potential.

While methane is emitted to the atmosphere by some natural sources, such as
wetlands, more than 70 percent of total emissions are due to human activities
including fossil fuel production and use, intestinal gas from livestock and farm
animals, and cultivation of rice paddies. Since many methane sources are the
result of human activities, increased industrialization in developing countries
and stepped up global food demand could result in increased emissions in the future.

NOAA Research conducts research, develops products, and provides scientific
information and leadership to foster NOAA's evolving environmental and economic

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the
prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing
environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. NOAA is
part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites

* NOAA Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory
* NOAA Research


CO2 Science Magazine, 19 November 2003

A 2000-Year Temperature Record of a Big Chunk of China

Controversy abounds over the temperature history of the earth, particularly that of the past one to two millennia. The origins of the debate date back only a few years to the papers of Mann et al. (1998, 1999), which describe an analysis that challenged the long-accepted view of most climatologists and prompted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to disavow their original presentation of the temperature history of the Holocene (Houghton et al., 1990, reproduced in Earth's Climatic History: The Last 10,000 Years).  This earlier presentation had clearly indicated there was nothing unusual or unnatural about earth's current temperature, with many prior periods of time having experienced temperatures significantly higher than those of the past few decades.

The revisionist history of Mann et al. depicts a slightly undulating 1700-year temperature decline that ends with a dramatic 20th century warming that raises the mean surface air temperature of the Northern Hemisphere to a level that is unprecedented over the past 1800 years, although the same cannot be credibly claimed for the entire planet, unless the proxy-based record of the globe is extended at its end with modern instrumental data in an "apples and oranges" type of assumed equivalency [see our Journal Review of Mann and Jones (2003)].

This revisionist history of earth's climate was recently challenged by Soon and Baliunas (2003) and Soon et al. (2003a), who in turn were challenged by Mann et al. (2003a), who in turn were challenged by Soon et al. (2003b), who in turn were challenged by Mann et al. (2003b), who in turn were, well, you get the idea: the end of the debate is nowhere in sight. In addition, the revisionist climate history of Mann et al. was even more recently challenged on totally different grounds by McIntyre and McKittrick (2003), who in turn have been challenged by Mann and others (this time on the Internet), who in turn have been challenged in the same medium by McIntyre and McKitrick, and on and on it goes, again with no end in sight, even on the distant horizon.

Nevertheless, what had a beginning must eventually have an end; and so will this debate someday be decided, most likely by the ever-accumulating masses of data that allow ever more temperature histories of ever more parts of the world to be produced with ever more reliability.  Hence, we continue to report on the many new developments in this field that will someday settle the issue once and for all, highlighting the two-millennia temperature history of central east China just published by Ge et al. (2003).

Working with 200 different sets of phenological and meteorological records extracted from a number of historical sources, many of which are described by Gong and Chen (1980), Man (1990, 2004), Sheng (1990) and Wen and Wen (1996), Ge et al. produced a 2000-year history of winter half-year temperature (October to April, when CO2-induced global warming is projected to be most evident) for the region of China bounded by latitudes 27 and 40°N and longitudes 107 and 120°E.  They describe their findings thusly.

"From the beginning of the Christian era, climate became cooler at a rate of 0.17°C per century," which correlates well with the fact that this is the period of time when the planet slipped out of the Roman Warm Period and entered into the Dark Ages Cold Period, "and around the AD 490s temperature reached about 1°C lower than that of the present (the 1951-80 mean)."

"Then, abruptly, temperature entered a warm epoch from the AD 570s to 1310s with a warming trend of 0.04°C per century; the peak warming was about 0.3-0.6°C higher than present for 30-year periods, but over 0.9°C warmer on a 10-year basis."  This finding pretty much speaks for itself.  For a considerable amount of time during the Medieval Warm Period, this large chunk of China was warmer than has yet to be experienced in modern times over a similarly-extended time span.

"After the AD 1310s, temperature decreased rapidly at a rate of 0.10°C per century; the mean temperatures of the four cold troughs were 0.6-0.9°C lower than the present, with the coldest value 1.1°C lower."  This, of course, was the Little Ice Age, from which the world appears to still be in processes of recovering.

"Temperature has been rising rapidly during the twentieth century, especially for the period 1981-99, and the mean temperature is now 0.5°C higher than for 1951-80."  Although such might well be true, Ge et al. report temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period that rose higher still, and for several 10- and 30-year time periods.

As new data such as these from central east China continue to come to the fore, it is our belief that scientific support for the revisionist climate history of Mann et al. will gradually erode and that this entire sorry episode will be looked back upon with both dismay and disbelief by those who follow us.

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso  

Ge, Q., Zheng, J., Fang, X., Man, Z., Zhang, X., Zhang, P. and Wang, W.-C.  2003.  Winter half-year temperature reconstruction for the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River and Yangtze River, China, during the past 2000 years.  The Holocene 13: 933-940.

Gong, G. and Chen, E.  1980.  On the variation of the growing season and agriculture.  Scientia Atmospherica Sinica 4: 24-29.

Houghton, J.T., Jenkins, G.J. and Ephraums, J.J.  (Eds.).  1990.  Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Man, Z.  1990.  Study on the cold/warm stages of Tang Dynasty and the characteristics of each cold/warm stage.  Historical Geography 8: 1-15.

Man, Z.  2004.  Climate Change in Historical Period of China.  Shandong Education Press, Ji'nan, China, in press.

Mann, M., Amman, C., Bradley, R., Briffa, K., Jones, P., Osborn, T., Crowley, T., Hughes, M., Oppenheimer, M., Overpeck, J., Rutherford, S., Trenberth, K. and Wigley, T.  2003a.  On past temperatures and anomalous late-20th century warmth.  EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 84: 256-257.

Mann, M., Amman, C., Bradley, R., Briffa, K., Jones, P., Osborn, T., Crowley, T., Hughes, M., Oppenheimer, M., Overpeck, J., Rutherford, S., Trenberth, K. and Wigley, T.  2003b.  Response [to Soon et al. (2003b)].  EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 84: 273, 276.

Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K.  1998.  Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries.  Nature 392: 779-787.

Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K.  1999.  Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and limitations.  Geophysical Research Letters 26: 759-762.

Mann, M.E. and Jones, P.D.  2003.  Global surface temperatures over the past two millennia.  Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2003GL017814.

McIntyre, S. and McKitrick, R.  2003.  Corrections to the Mann et al. (1998) proxy data base and Northern Hemispheric average temperature series.  Energy and Environment 14: 751-771.

Sheng, F.  1990.  A preliminary exploration of the warmth and coldness in Henan Province in the historical period.  Historical Geography 7: 160-170.

Soon, W. and Baliunas, S.  2003.  Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years.  Climate Research 23: 89-110.

Soon, W., Baliunas, S., Idso, C.D., Idso, S.B. and Legates, D.R.  2003a.  Reconstructing climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years: A reappraisal.  Energy and Environment 14: 233-296.

Soon, W., Baliunas, S. and Legates, D.  2003b.  Comment on "On past temperatures and anomalous late-20th century warmth.  EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 84: 473.

Wen, H. and Wen, H.  1996.  Winter-Half-Year Cold/Warm Change in Historical Period of China.  Science Press, Beijing, China.

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


The BBC TV Horizon science programme has just broadcast a new twist to climatic scares - this time warning of a new ice age to grip Europe caused by - wait for it - global warming!  It's called `The Big Chill' and you can read the full BBC transcript here (

Hollywood is soon to join the act, with a new blockbuster movie called `The Day After Tomorrow', complete with lavish special effects, to be released in May 2004 by the same people who gave us `Independence Day'.  This time it is not aliens who will ravage the earth, but - a sudden and catastrophic ice age. To add a touch of irony to the movie, they show Americans fleeing south across the Mexican border
`The Big Chill' and `The Day After Tomorrow' are about as equally believable -  `Science' and Hollywood as one.

It is over 25 years since the BBC broadcast its first climate catastrophe documentary, then titled `The Weather Machine' , a 4-hour special broadcast on a Saturday evening during peak viewing time.  Nothing has changed, except the industry the BBC helped to spawn has grown to gross proportions, feeding the fears of ordinary people, and all invoked in the sacred name of `science'.
Science and the greenhouse industry parted company years ago because real scientists do not exploit the public in the way this industry does. The scares for which this industry are responsible flowed seamlessly from one to another - the `imminent ice age' of the 1970s, the `nuclear winter' of the 1980s, `global warming' of the 1990s, and now back to ice age again.  The one common denominator of each was the promotion of public fear, and even hysteria, for the cynical purpose of bureaucratic growth. 

The Scotsman, 18 November 2003

I watched The Big Chill on BBC's Horizon series and thought it a ludicrously unbalanced
effort where sensationalism had replaced science. Even if the predictions of a much colder
Britain did come true, I found myself wondering why the country would collapse into chaos
as predicted.

After all, Canada, Sweden and Finland have bitterly cold winters and people seem to cope.
Interestingly, all these countries have a much higher standard of living than the UK, so
perhaps a little cold acts as a stimulus.

But the quality of the science that Horizon is promoting was summed up by the trailer for
next week's programme - about a man who believes that there is a secret code in the Bible
that reveals that the world is going to end in three years' time.

Yeah, right, whatever.

Dr Wilson Flood, Rowanbank Road, Dumfries 


Since the publication of the recent study by McIntyre & McKitrick (M & M) (Energy & Environment, 14,751-771,2003 ), in which they found extensive statistical processing errors in Michael Mann's `Hockey Stick' theory, there have been some strange happenings.

M & M found embarrassing statistical errors in Mann et al's original work and now Mann claims that some of these errors were not part of the original `Hockey Stick' at all, but were accidentally included in an Excel spreadsheet which they sent to M & M, and that M&M should have looked at the data on Mann's FTP site instead. This suggests the errors were recent and did not contaminate the original `Hockey Stick'.

However, M & M have stated in various forums that they asked for FTP data, not for a separate Excel spreadsheet and, in fact, Mann's web page listed in his original paper of 1988 (MBH98) does not link to the FTP data at the University of Virginia.  After Mann disclosed the Virginia FTP location, M&M found the identical file at Mann's FTP site as was sent to them, plus the same data in a `MATLAB' version, both files dated August 2002.

However, just days after the publication of the M & M paper, these key files were deleted from Mann's University of Virginia FTP server sometime between October 29 and November 8, 2003.  Why were they deleted?  Why were they deleted just after the release of the M & M paper?

Whatever the reason for the deletions, it was all too late.  Here are the original files -

pcproxy.mat                         pcproxy.txt

More file deletions were to follow. Some data used in the M & M study was originally located at Mann's old FTP site at the University of Massachusetts.  Mann's webpage on MBH98 links to this FTP site.  Shortly after M & M made an initial reply to Mann's claims on an internet `blog' site, on November 13, 2003 (a reply which said that they had new results to report about the Virginia FTP site), the entire Massachusetts FTP folder on MBH98 was also deleted before  M&M were able to copy it.

The deletion of the University of Massachusetts FTP site is surely the strangest event yet.  The mere deletion of these files which had been on public view for over a year and  probably as far back as 2000, implies an attempt at concealment. We can only wonder at what they contained.

The Hockey Stick was uncritically and enthusiastically embraced by the IPCC, the National Assessment Team and the whole greenhouse industry, even though it overturned previous scientific knowledge about the climate of the last millennium. As such, its' conclusions should have been subject to rigorous scientific scrutiny and replication. It wasn't. Instead, it took two outsiders to do the audit that the industry itself should have done. In finding so many faults and errors in the Hockey Stick, the whole sorry episode reflects badly on the competence and the motives of the `peer reviewers', the IPCC, and the US$4 billion research industry it leads.


CO2 Science Magazine, 19 November 2003

Draut, A.E., Raymo, M.E., McManus, J.F. and Oppo, D.W.  2003.  Climate stability during the Pliocene warm period.  Paleoceanography 18: 10.1029/2003PA000889.

Alley et al. (2002, 2003) contend that "human forcing of climate change" - by which they mean CO2-induced global warming - "is increasing the probability of large, abrupt events."  Speaking of temperature increases of "as much as 10°C change in 10 years," they state that these changes "can occur when gradual causes push the earth system across a threshold."  In this regard, they further state that "warming and the associated changes in the hydrological cycle constitute a threshold for the THC," or thermohaline circulation of the world's oceans, and that "once reduced, the THC is more susceptible to perturbations," additionally noting that "very close to a threshold, the evolution of the THC loses predictability altogether."  Simply put, Alley et al. claim that warming will vastly increase the instability of earth's climate.

What was done
Noting that still other studies, including those of Manabe and Stouffer (1993) and Rahmstorf and Ganopolski (1999), "have predicted that enhanced precipitation at higher latitudes in a warmer world could enhance thermohaline (and hence regional climate) instability," Draut et al. decided to test this hypothesis by evaluating climate variability throughout a portion of the mid-Pliocene, which they say "is an ideal interval in which to investigate prolonged warm conditions at high resolution," as this period "is the most recent in geologic time with temperatures comparable to those projected for the 21st century."  Hence, they studied deep-sea sediment cores retrieved from Ocean Drilling Program Sites 980 and 981 (55°29'N, 14°39'W) that span the mid-Pliocene from about 3.1 to 3.3 million years ago.

What was learned
Draut et al. say their findings suggest that "no strong temperature-related forcing mechanism affected thermohaline circulation during the mid-Pliocene warm period," specifically stating that this observation "contrasts with scenarios predicted for 21st century global warming by several modeling studies, in which warm conditions are associated with enhanced freshwater runoff and cessation of thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic, resulting in long-term cooling."  Instead, they report that their data point "to a relatively stable climate during the mid-Pliocene warm period, analogous to millennial-scale stability within the Holocene and Marine Isotope Stage 11," noting further that "millennial-scale climate fluctuations appear to occur with reduced amplitude during warm episodes," additionally citing Oppo et al. (1998), McManus et al. (1999, 2003) and McIntyre et al. (2001) in support of this statement.

What it means
Clearly, there is a wealth of real-world data that indicates that increasing warmth leads to increasing climate stability, which is just the opposite of what many models - but not all [see, for example, Saenko et al. (2003)] - predict to occur in response to further global warming.  When it comes to choosing between contradictory model predictions and real-world observations, therefore, we'll take the world of reality every single time it has something to tell us.  And it's been telling us for quite a while now that warmth brings climate stability.

Alley, R.B., Marotzke, J., Nordhaus, W.D., Overpeck, J.T., Peteet, D.M., Pielke Jr., R.A., Pierrehumbert, R.T., Rhines, P.B., Stocker, T.F., Talley, L.D. and Wallace, J.M.  2002.  Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises. National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

Alley, R.B., Marotzke, J., Nordhaus, W.D., Overpeck, J.T., Peteet, D.M., Pielke Jr., R.A., Pierrehumbert, R.T., Rhines, P.B., Stocker, T.F., Talley, L.D. and Wallace, J.M.  2003.  Abrupt climate change.  Science 299: 2005-2010.

Manabe, S. and Stouffer, R.J.  1993.  Century-scale effects of increased atmospheric CO2 on the ocean-atmosphere system.  Nature 364: 215-218.

McIntyre, K., Delaney, M.L. and Ravelo, A.C.  2001.  Millennial-scale climate change and oceanic processes in the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene.  Paleoceanography 16: 535-543.

McManus, J.F., Oppo, D.W. and Cullen, J.L.  1999.  A 0.5-million-year record of millennial-scale climate variability in the North Atlantic.  Science 283: 971-974.

McManus, J.F., Oppo, D.W., Cullen, J.L. and Healey, S.L.  2003.  Marine isotope stage 11 (MIS 11): Analog for Holocene and future climate?  Geophysical Monograph Series 137: 69-85.

Oppo, D.W., McManus, J.F. and Cullen, J.L.  1998.  Abrupt climatic events 500,000 to 340,000 years ago: Evidence from subpolar North Atlantic sediments.  Science 79: 1335-1338.

Rahmstorf, S. and Ganopolski, A.  1999.  Long-term global warming scenarios computed with an efficient coupled climate model.  Climatic Change 43: 353-367.

Saenko, O.A., Weaver, A.J. and Schmittner, A.  2003.  Atlantic deep circulation controlled by freshening in the Southern Ocean.  Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2003GL017681.

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


USA TODAY, 18 November 2003

By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
A global-warming brouhaha has critics of a landmark climate report saying the 20th century was not as hot as it was cracked up to be.

Climate scientists, who have long been raising red flags on the impact modern man is having on Earth's climate, are calling the critics half-baked.

The debate - the subject of a briefing Tuesday on Capitol Hill - highlights the opposing arguments in the global-warming controversy.

On one side are researchers concerned about temperature-raising pollutants. On the other are those concerned that this is an over blown argument that will stall economic progress.

At issue is a 1998 study in the journal Nature that described the 20th century as the hottest in centuries. Similar warnings from an influential United Nations science panel echoed that report.

Climate research has been an increasingly politicized issue since 2001, when President Bush rejected a multination plan crafted in Kyoto, Japan, to combat global warming. Bush cited the costs of capping emissions of greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.

In a paper published last month in Energy & Environment, a social science journal known for reports critical of climate-change research, Canadian businessman Stephen McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick of Canada's University of Guelph charge that the Nature report contains numerous errors regarding temperatures from the past six centuries.

When corrected, the data suggest the 15th century was actually warmer than today, they say.

They also criticize the U.N. panel for relying on the Nature study in its warnings about global warming. In 2001, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the average surface temperature rose 1 degree during the 20th century and could rise 2.6 to 10.4 degrees this century, partly driven by industrial activities that emit greenhouse gases. (Related document: The IPCC 2001 report on climate science)

"Unfortunately, a lot was made of the Nature paper, so ordinary debate about its technical soundness takes on inordinate political overtones," says McKitrick.

The George C. Marshall Institute, one of a number of think tanks that question the human role in global warming, sponsored a briefing Tuesday for congressional staffers and others on the rebuttal report.

The authors of the Nature paper, led by climatologist Michael Mann of the University of Virginia, respond that the critics botched their analysis, selectively dropping records to invent a warm 15th century and making numerous other statistical mistakes.

Climate researcher Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. in Boulder, Colo., calls the critics' complaints "seriously flawed" and "silly."

In addition to the Nature paper, about a dozen independent studies suggest the 20th century was warmer than normal, Wigley points out.

From a statistical viewpoint, "I lean in favor of Mann," says statistician George Shambaugh. of Georgetown University. "There is an increase in the 20th century that is greater than the cyclical patterns found by either group since 1550. And since the early 1900s, we have been hotter than any time since then."

Princeton geoscientist Michael Oppenheimer compares climate skeptics to tobacco industry scientists who sought for decades to obscure the link between smoking and lung cancer. Arguing over whether man-made global warming exists obscures a more important debate over what steps are possible to moderate its effects, he says.

But skeptics are providing a valuable public service in keeping the debate alive, says William O'Keefe of the Marshall Institute. O'Keefe, formerly with the American Petroleum Institute, says: "We have to encourage healthy debate."

Copyright 2003, USA Today


The New York Times, 18 November 2003


One of the last gaps in the evidence pointing to a human cause for global warming appears to be closing.

A re-examination of 24 years of data from weather satellites has found that temperatures are rising in the lower layer of the atmosphere, called the troposphere, at a rate that is consistent with what has been measured at the earth's surface.

The finding is subtle but significant, experts say, particularly because previous studies of the same data, showing no warming, have been highlighted by opponents of curbs on heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe emissions linked to recent warming.

The difference between the two analyses also now has a clear explanation, with most of the divergence resulting from the way data were adjusted to account for a transition from one weather satellite to a successor in the mid-1980's.

The result is more consensus than ever that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases are noticeably altering climate.

But at the same time, the new research is showing that, at least so far, the influence of greenhouse gases appears to have been more modest than some climate experts once predicted.

The findings, after a year of review and debate at workshops, appear in the current issue of The Journal of Climate.

Dr. Thomas R. Karl, the director of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., called the new work "a significant step forward," but stressed that more work would be necessary to reconcile the persistent differences between computer models of the climate and the real thing.

The new study, done by private satellite experts at Remote Sensing Systems for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Commerce Department, has not quelled doubters. But several experts not associated with the work said it had pushed the satellite record of recent warming more in line with what computer simulations had projected.

Dr. Frank J. Wentz, an author of the study and the director of the research firm, said continuing refinements in climate models had also brought the computer projections more in line with what the measurements were showing.

"The controversy is somewhat going away," Dr. Wentz said. "As time has gone on, the disconnect between the satellites and the models has gotten smaller and smaller."

Dr. John R. Christy, a University of Alabama at Huntsville scientist whose group was the first to analyze the satellite data for climate clues, agreed that the gap between models and measurements was closing somewhat.

But he added that the evidence was pointing more firmly toward a modest impact from rising greenhouse gases.

Dr. Christy, who has long been an outspoken critic of catastrophic climate predictions, said, "We've had enough years of this human-induced forcing to get some boundaries on it, and it's just not going in the dramatic and catastrophic direction."

Other scientists who have assessed the satellite findings, old and new, cautioned that no one should draw any conclusion about the prospect for significant climate shifts from subtle trends in surface or air temperature trends over a few decades.

Dr. Roger A. Pielke Sr., a climatologist at Colorado State who participated in a workshop last month assessing the new paper and other work assessing temperature trends, said the climate system had a tendency to jump from one steady state to another.

"It is characterized by rapid shifts, rather than smooth changes," he said.

Dr. Christy and Dr. Roy W. Spencer, at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, pioneered efforts to sift weather-satellite data for clues to longer-term temperature trends.

The data are notoriously difficult to deal with because they were gathered by a dozen satellites launched over several decades with different kinds of instruments. In a number of cases, one satellite sometimes overlapped with its predecessor for only a short time, preventing adequate cross-checking of their readings.

Adjustments to calculations had to be made for all manner of variables, including the tendency of the satellites to tip and drift up and down and east and west, distorting readings.

Initially, Dr. Christy and his group found that the lower troposphere was actually cooling, and not warming, drawing strong interest in their work from companies and elected officials questioning whether global warming was happening.

More recently, as Dr. Christy and his team took into account factors that could distort the readings, they concluded that there had been a slight, but inconsequential warming.

The new analysis was begun several years ago by Remote Sensing Systems and the two groups have increasingly shared data over the past year. The rate of warming calculated by the new group is higher than the old analysis by just a sixth of a degree per decade.

But that adds up over time to a trend that is consistent with what some computer simulations say would occur under the influence of building greenhouse-gas concentrations, Dr. Wentz said.

Dr. Christy says his work matches up much better with readings taken by an independent method, instrument-laden balloons launched from hundreds of weather stations.

But other scientists said the balloon-gathered data were spotty and inconsistent as well, and did not provide a useful yardstick.

Some scientists said the most valuable result of the new analysis of the satellite record was to take it out of the realm of politicized science.

Now, they said, it is simply one more data set in the broader body of evidence pointing in a generally warmer direction in years to come.

The only way to improve understanding of the causes and consequences of warming, Dr. Karl said, will be to look for clues in many places at once - melting glaciers, ocean temperatures and satellites, among others - and not rely on a lone line of evidence.

"The whole issue of global climate change is weighing evidence," he said. "Any conclusion will ultimately have to look like the results of a 100-question test. If you get a 90, you're probably on track."

Copyright 2003, The New York Time


Michael Paine <>

Dear Benny

The December issue of Scientific American has an interesting article by
Kring and Durda (below). The full article can be purchased but I will
wait until my paper copy arrives in a few weeks.

Michael Paine

The Day the World Burned
By David A. Kring and Daniel D. Durda

By now it is common knowledge that the impact of an asteroid or comet
brought the age of the dinosaurs to an abrupt end. Less well known,
though, is exactly how they and so many other species became extinct and
how ecosystems managed to rebuild themselves afterward. The cataclysm
went far beyond the regular insults from which living things must
recover. The asteroid or comet flashed through the sky more than 40
times as fast as the speed of sound. It was so large that when its
leading edge made contact with ground, its trailing edge was at least as
high as the cruising altitude of a commercial airliner. It produced an
explosion equivalent to 100 trillion tons of TNT, a greater release of
energy than any event on our planet in the 65 million years since then.

The remnants of that collision lie below the tropical forest of the
Yucatán, the Maya ruins of Mayapán, the seaport village of Progreso and
the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The crater, called Chicxulub after
modern Maya villages in the area, is approximately 180 kilometers in
diameter and is surrounded by a circular fault 240 kilometers across,
apparently produced when the crust reverberated with the shock of the
impact....continued at Scientific American Digital (for a price!)

Planet named after Slovak satirist sparks trouble

AN ASTEROID named after the recently deceased Slovak cult comedian Július Satinský has sparked trouble between the astronomer who discovered the space body and his bosses in the Institute of Astronomy at Bratislava's Comenius University (AÚ UK).

"My bosses blamed me because I hadn't consulted the name with them before reporting it to the [reference] Centre for Small Planets in Cambridge, US," astronomer Adrián Galád from an observatory based in the western Slovak town of Modra said to the Slovak daily Pravda.

Galad, together with his former colleague Alexander Pravda, discovered the Satinský asteroid, which moves on an orbit between Mars and Jupiter, back in 1998. Before a planet is officially registered, it has to be observed for several seasons. And so the planet finally received its name this past March.

According to Pravda, who left the observatory for several reasons, including the hassle over the name of the planet, it is common practice for those who discover a planet to pick its name.

But AÚ UK head Vladimír Porubčan said that his institute would like to have astronomers consult the names with their bosses. "We don't want to interfere, but we do want to consult - the dignified representation of Slovakia is in play here," Porubčan said.

He said he had no objections towards the Satinský planet as such but insisted that because there are not presently many planets that were discovered by Slovaks, assigning them good representative names matters a lot to him.

"Also, the institute has a right to know about this in advance because the discoveries took place at its working premises, and with its devices," he said.

Although Galád has discovered many other planets apart from Satinský, he has not reported any names to Cambridge yet, as he is annoyed over the problems with the first one.

However, if those who discover a planet fail to report a name within a certain period of time, the Cambridge centre picks the name itself. Slovak astronomers are therefore advised to act quickly.

========= LETTERS ========


Nick Sault <>

Hi Benny

In reading the BBC News Online article about the demise of the Alaskan horse, It brought
up a dilemma I have had, and other thinking men and women must have had, in regard to the
apparent disparities in the distribution of the last great northern ice sheets. 

It was the reference in the article to the apparent fact that Alaska was running alive
with fauna of all kinds while London and New York were "submerged in glacial ice".
This seemingly geographic disparity might be a veritable mystery to all and sundry of
CCNet's intelligent readers until perhaps they read the piece in the same CCNet
transmission regarding the fears about the demise of the Gulf Stream. Of course, if
14,000 years ago there was no Gulf Stream to bathe the shores of Blighty, while a Pacific
Gulf Stream equivalent bathed the shores of Alaska, the disparity is easily explained. 
However, the Alaska Ice Age Disparity (my term) was not the only weird anomaly in the
configuration of the last ice sheet. There was the Siberian disparity.

I understand that the larger part of northern Siberia was free of ice throughout the
last ice age. How could that be? Why was the northern ice sheet seemingly centered
20 or 30 degrees off the pole? Why was the largest landmass left alone by those giant
claws of ice?  Where would the warm current come from that would supposedly keep
Siberia ice free, when the nearest southern ocean is thousands of miles away?

And don't tell me it was lack of precipitation. Antarctica is the driest place on
Earth and has ice sheets four kilometers thick. 

The Alaskan Horse article passed over the dilemma like it doesn't exist.  Surely any
thinking person reading that London was ice covered while Alaska was running alive like
the Savanna, would have been scratching their heads saying "how come?". In all scientific
publications I have read on the ice age, the ice sheet distribution disparity seems to be
something that is passed over, and I wonder if that is because scientists don't like to
deal with findings that leave them staggered when they are researching something that they
do understand, or are in the throes of being able to understand. 

Changing ocean currents could explain the Alaskan ice sheet disparity, but what about
Siberia? Can any of your informed readers put this to rest for me?


Nick Sault
Technical Writing Specialist
E-Writers Ltd


Hermann Burchard <>

Dear Benny,

regarding ever-changing impact probabilities for asteroids, it seems
that in recent years much new insight has been gained about comets, too,
so new and improved impact probability estimates for comets perhaps are
becoming available?

The Peshtigo Comet story (and its relationship to the Chicago Fire of
1871) remains as an example of puzzling circumstances.  Has Comet Biela
been definitely ruled out by astronomers as a vector?  Some of the reports
read like ionized plasma was involved.  There are so many other reports of
"fire from heaven"  that comet impacts may be more frequent than thought
previously.  Are there good data on the frequency of such events in our

On one hand, Gene Shoemaker had favored a comet for Chicxulub but,
recently, Tom Van Flandern threw cold water on the multiple comet impact
hypothesis for the K/T transition, CCNet 98/2003 - 6 November 2003:
  "Capture and tidal break up by Earth, similar to Jupiter's capture of
  Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, is extremely unlikely (by a factor of over 10
  million) because Earth has a much smaller mass and is closer to the

However, this is NOT a quantitative statement and I don't think it totally
settles the question of multiple or single comet impacts.  For one thing,
if comets really are just loose agglomerates of ice, carbon, and dust of
various minerals, then the mere passage of a comet near Earth can be
counted on to break it up into fragments, some of which may then interfere
with the planet.  Just one or two small pieces would be enough to cause
havoc and surely we are not expecting anything on the scale of S-L-9,
which would have obliterated life on Earth forever.  Yet, comets are known
to have approached our planet frequently, even in recent centuries.
Hence a precise probability estimate for such events seems to be still

  Hermann G. W. Burchard


John Michael Williams <>

Hi Benny.


"The Moon is the next logical step after the space station..."
(CCNet 18 November 2003). A better plan would be to use the
Moon in place of ISS. There is real estate on the Moon.

How does perpetually flying in circles on the ISS help anything
except to drain away necessary funding for real exploration?

                      John Michael Williams

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