Sunday, October 14, 2007

New study shows oceans warmed before the rise of CO2.

A professor of paleoclimatology at the University of Southern California, Lowell Stott, says that the last ice age did not end because of a rise in CO2 in the atmosphere. These conclusions are found in study co-authored with Axel Timmermann of the University of Hawaii and Robert Thunell of the University of South Carolina, which appeared in Science magazine, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Stott is also an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Using sediment samples from the western Pacific they tested surface-dwelling and bottom-dwelling organisms. They could use the shells to both date them and determine ocean temperatures.

What Stott and fellow researchers found is interesting. The shells of bottom-dwelling organisms show that the temperature rose CO2 levels rose. A press statement from the university says that: “The best estimate from other studies of when CO2 began to rise is no earlier than 18,000 years ago. Yet this study shows that the deep see, which reflects oceanic temperature trends, started warming about 19,000 years ago.”

This goes to the debate on whether CO2 increased the temperature or whether CO2 was released as a result of warming. Stott says the new evidence means: “You can no longer argue that CO2 alone caused the end of the ice ages.” The press statement says: “The finding suggests the rise in greenhouse gases was likely a result of warming and may have accelerated the meltdown -- but was not its main cause.”

The University statement said: “If CO2 caused the warming,, one would expect surface temperatures to increase before deep-sea temperatures, since the heal slowly would spread from top to bottom. Instead, carbon-dating showed the water used by the bottom-dwelling organisms began warming about 1,300 years before the water used by surface-dwelling ones, suggesting the warming spread bottom-up instead.”

Prof. Stott says: “The climate dynamic is much more complex than simply saying that C02 rises and the temperature warms.” He says these complexities still need to be understood to understand how climate has changed in the past and how it will change.

If you have Adobe Flash Player you can hear an interview with Prof. Stott at the University web site here.

In that interview Prof. Stott says that, “In a climate sense most of the work [to create a global temperature rise] was done before the atmospheric rise in CO2 began. Sure the ice began to melt after that, no question about it,” but he says the oceans warmed before the northern ice sheets began to melt. When the interviewer pushed him a bit on on anthropogenic CO2 he hesitated and then said, “There is plenty of room for discussion about the role that anthropogenic CO2 is playing in climate.” He says there is an effect of CO2 on climate but that it is not “the beginning and the end of the climate change” and that we shouldn’t “put all our marbles in CO2”.

If this is a chicken and egg debate then Stott’s research seems to indicate that warming came first followed by a rise in CO2 which then helped produce more warming. In other words the chicken laid an egg that grew into another chicken. But certainly past climate date indicates the warming preceded the CO2 release. We do know the oceans “burped” a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere around the end of the last age ice age. The alarmists like Mr. Gore argued the rise in CO2 preceded the warming and caused it. Stott’s evidence shows that is not correct.

By the way Prof. Stott says this study is very significant in studying climate change. And with warming preceding CO2 increases it creates a challenge for the warming alarmists. So exactly how did the media, which trumpets bogus stories on warming very loudly, such as Kilimanjaro, the Northwest Passage, grape studies, and others, deal with this story? They didn't.

Even though the press statement came from a major US university and was based on the research of an IPCC paleoclimatologist this challenging story to was totally ignored. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported on it but gave it a different slant from the one that Stott actually used. They said it "points to the vulnerability of polar regions to increase heat." If you read the headline and the first paragraph it would be the standard warming story in the media. Only farther down do they mention Prof. Timmermann saying that the warming "opened the door for CO2 stored in the ocean to come out. The Honolulu paper no doubt paid attention because Timmermann is a local.

Other than that publication only a small number of minor, insignificant newspapers even mentioned the story. Not a single major newspaper noticed the press release from the University which goes to the core of the global warming debate. The New York Times ignored it. The Washington Post didn't make a peep about it. The Los Angeles Times said nothing. I find no references with CNN or even Fox News.

Compare that to the purely invented stories that warming was melting the snows of Kilimanjaro. When that claim was made it widely reported in every major publication and then turned out to be false. When it was claimed that global warming opened up the Northwest Passage there were hundreds and hundreds of stories in major newspapers around the world. Very, very few mentioned when NASA said it was a wind issue not a warming issue.

Now, I may well be wrong on all this. I make no pretense at perfect knowledge. But when we see the media reporting stories that correspond with what they already believe and ignoring stories that contradict their beliefs, or at least challenge them, it makes me wonder. Surely objective reporting would mention both sides and the mainstream media claims objectivity. But when discredited environmental activists release hysterical, false statement they get duly reported and when someone like Prof. Stott and the University of Southern California mention something that is a challenge to the prevailing theory it is blacklisted.

It is not a conspiracy. What is happening is that the media has this tendency to report that which corresponds with their own predetermined biases. Unfortunately the public tends to have only the media as a source for information and that gives the alarmists like Gore the advantage when it comes to the political debate.