Facets of Ice and Climate

gallopingcamel commented recently on Flap over Arctic Ice Rebound

“Short term variations to Arctic ice were not a big deal for me, but you piqued my interest so your blog has been added to my favorites.

To date, my interest has been the long term record based on ice cores:

Do you have any comments to share?”

His linked post is a tightly reasoned analysis regarding CO2, temperatures and ice cores. I appreciate greatly his summary showing that present warming is much too low if CO2 has been causing warming all along. I’d not seen the contradiction put so succinctly.

His comment causes me to reflect on several facets of ice in relation to climate, and this is the point of this post.

The immediate facet: What do Sea Ice Extents tell us about climate change?

As Peter says, my blogging on Arctic Ice extents is quite immediate and is motivated mainly by my concern to get some factual perspectives out there as a possible antidote to feverish claims the media will promote. In that sense, this facet of ice is an immediate and socio-political one. The issue: should Arctic ice extent cause us to be alarmed about the climate? My blogs on Arctic Ice Rebound provide my conclusions, but this battle for public opinion has not yet been joined in earnest. In my post on sea ice factors I make the point that among many things affecting ice extents, CO2 is the least likely. And Antarctic ice extent is another story which I have left to others.

The Longer View: The Ice Core Story of CO2 and Surface Temperatures

I am convinced as Peter is that in the ice core record, changes in CO2 follow temperature changes and are more effect than cause. The natural CO2 sources and sinks are estimated with large error bands and their behavior is likely to be dynamic, that is, changing with changing climate conditions.

This blog is like a personal journal where I try to articulate realizations that form from my engagement in climate topics. It is idiosyncratic in that I often have a new discovery, quite exciting to me, but long understood by others unknown to me. For example, John Holtquist just linked to a webpage by John Daly where he said years ago most of everything I’ve learned about Arctic ice and more.

My journey this year was marked by discovering we live on planet water, not planet earth, and it led me to read much more oceanographic material which is categorized here as Oceans Make Climate. That led me to ice, and to some theories regarding longer-term Arctic cycles summarized here.

The Big Picture: The Sun and the Earth, From Hot House to Ice House

Peter’s post has a comment thread that gets into the larger arena of climate shifts involving ice-covered ages (most of earth’s history) and the more hospitable inter-glacial periods such as we have enjoyed for the last 11,500 years. I wrote a post on how I believe the ocean’s thermal flywheel is responsible for keeping our climate so stable most of the time, until it is overwhelmed by external forces, primarily astronomical in nature.

I have not wandered far into the sun-climate controversy, and my present understanding is probably best expressed here:



  1. Bart · October 2, 2015

    It is very clear that, at the very least in the modern era, CO2 is essentially governed by a temperature modulated process, and human inputs are not temperature modulated. The rate of change of atmospheric CO2 concentration is essentially proportional to properly baselined temperature anomaly


    The match with the satellite temperatures is best, but for a longer term, there is a pretty good match with Southern hemisphere temperatures


    But, that is no surprise since SH temperatures match the satellite record fairly well, with the NH temperatures after 2000 diverging


    For over 100 years, NH and SH track closely. Then, suddenly, vroom, they diverge. Circumstantial evidence, at least, that the NH temperatures have suffered from dubious and arbitrary “adjustments”.

    Getting back to the SH temperature record and the match with the rate of change of atmospheric CO2: it is here, in the rate domain, that the fingerprints of the culprit can be discerned. Attempting to match temperature to CO2 directly in the modern era is a low value exercise – you can match any low order polynomial sequence to it.

    It is here, in the rate domain, where the variations can be matched 1:1 with the temperature record. The arrow of causality is obviously from temperature to CO2, as supposing temperatures are related to the rate of change of CO2 leads to the absurd proposition that CO2 could rise arbitrarily high, but once it stopped rising, temperatures would revert to what they were initially.

    When you match those variations with an appropriate scale factor, you also match the trend. Human emissions also have a trend. There is little to no room for them which is not already explained by the temperature relationship. Ergo, they have negligible effect.

    I suspect the reason that there is an integral relationship is that there is a continuous stream of CO2 into and out of the oceans via upwelling and downwelling. Any temperature induced net imbalance between those flows leads to a persistent accumulation in the surface oceans, and thence to the atmosphere.


  2. AndB · October 3, 2015

    Sorry about the attack on you by Tamino (Grant Foster) recently.
    As a current visitor in Budapest with the very best autumn Indian
    summer conditions, today only a shot remark on “sun-climate controversy”

    “…it seems time to put the sun in second or third position. There is no evidence that varying sun-ray has ever caused a significant and abrupt climatic change in many million years. “, is said at.

    Best regads


    • Ron Clutz · October 3, 2015

      Thanks Arnd. I am keeping an open mind on this. That article is from one side based an adjusted sunspot record, itself controversial.
      Though second place to the ocean is not so bad.


    • Ron Clutz · October 3, 2015

      There is also this from the same source: h/t ren

      “Ocean currents affect the surface temperature of the oceans and thus the heat exchange with the atmosphere – eventually causing climate variations on the adjacent continents. The most evident is an oscillation with a period of 60 years. “Such decadal climate fluctuations are superimposed on the general warming trend, so that at times it seems as if the warming trend slowed or even stopped. After a few decades, it accelerates once again,” explains Prof. Latif. “It is important for us to understand these natural cycles, so that we can finally provide better climate predictions as well.”

      Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-marine-scientists-decoding-mechanism-long-term.html#jCp


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