What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 5, 2010

Watchin' Teh Crazie - Trib Climate Style

Check this out. This is from today's Thursday Wrap over at Richard Mellon Scaife's rag:
It's the solar activity, stupid: New research from German and Russian scientists, who studied Arctic pine trees, suggest solar activity, not man-made carbon emissions, are responsible for the cyclical warming and cooling of Planet Earth. In fact, the research suggests the Arctic cooled at the same time carbon dioxide levels were rising. But, of course, the science of global warming is settled, right?
The first sign that there's massive spin (or massive editorial incompetence) going on is this: you''ll notice is a pronounced lack of citation. Which scientists? Which university or other scientific center? Where is the research published? Anyway to check to see whether this is on the up-and-up? Scaife's braintrust usually includes a quotation to google. The fact that they didn't here is a big huge (do the kids still use the word "ginormous"?) red flag.

Any honest editorial writer would offer up enough facts for your average googler to track down the story.

But this is the Trib we're talkin' 'bout here.

Luckily, my friends, I am not your average googler.

Here's the paper's abstract:
This study presents a new pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) ring-width chronology and a summer temperature reconstruction for the last 400 years from the Khibiny Low Mountains (Kola Peninsula, NW Russia). Pine trees from sites at the altitudinal timberline of Khibiny Mountains show pronounced climatic signals in tree-ring width. We found a strong positive correlation with summer temperature of July–August (r = 0.58). The reconstruction shows lower summer temperatures from A.D. 1630 to 1840, a subsequent warming up to the mid-20th century and a cooling trend afterwards. According to our data, a temperature increase is observed during the past decade. The good coherence of multi-decadal to secular trends of our reconstruction and series of observed solar activity indicate that solar activity may have been one major driving factor of past climate on Kola Peninsula. [emphasis added.]
First, the study is about the summer temperatures of the local climate of the Kola Peninsula - not the whole arctic, as the Trib's spin implies. Second, in the abstract points out a "temperature increase" from, presumably, 2000 to 2010 - a point conveniently omitted by Scaife's braintrust.

Bet you didn't know that the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres actually issued a press release for this study. Not that you'd know from the Trib. Some interesting snippets from the press release:
Parts of the Arctic have cooled clearly over the past century, but temperatures have been rising steeply since 1990 also there.
Researchers from the Institute of Geography in Moscow, Hohenheim University and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) report in journal Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research: "The data indicate that solar activity may have been one of the major driving factors of summer temperatures, but this has been overlaid by other factors since 1990".
Ah...good to know. Why didn't the Trib say so?

And about that solar activity. From the last paragraph of the press release:
In September 2009, another international team presented model calculations showing that the Arctic had gradually cooled down by around 0.2 °C per thousand years over the last two millennia to the start of the Industrial Age. They attributed this to a gradual decline in solar radiation in the summer. However, the last decade was the warmest of the Common Era and was 1.4 °C above the forecasts, report Darrell S. Kaufman and his colleagues in Science. The new data produced by Kononov, Friedrich and Böttger support the thesis that solar activity seems to be a significant factor influencing summer temperatures in the Arctic, but that its influence has weakened considerably over the past few decades. [emphasis added.]
So low solar activity corresponds to lower summer temperatures in the arctic, but this influence has weakened considerably over the last few decades - that's what the science says.

The Trib spun it to something completely different.

Why am I not surprised.

By the way this is the first (as far as I know) climate editorial since the NOAA declared global warming "undeniable." That wasn't mentioned, but the arctic tree rings were.

Why am I not surprised.

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