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New Arctic Study Ignores Inconvenient Facts

October 30, 2013

By Paul Homewood




You are probably already aware of this study that claims the Arctic is warmer than any century in the past 44000 years. The study has already been pretty much demolished by others, e.g. WUWT.

It also flies in the face of evidence from all around the Arctic that temperatures during the MWP were at least as warm as now. There is a good round of this at C3 Headlines.

But perhaps the most damning criticism comes from Jim Bouldin, who is an expert in plant biology and paleoclimatology at the University of California.


But first, a quick recap.


According to the press release for the study:


The heat is on, at least in the Arctic.

Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new INSTAAR study.

The study is the first direct evidence the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said study leader Gifford Miller. The Holocene is a geological epoch that began after Earth’s last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and which continues today.

Miller and his colleagues used dead moss clumps emerging from receding ice caps on Baffin Island as tiny clocks.  At four different ice caps, radiocarbon dates show the mosses had not been exposed to the elements since at least 44,000 to 51,000 years ago.

Since radiocarbon dating is only accurate to about 50,000 years and because Earth’s geological record shows it was in a glaciation stage prior to that time, the indications are that Canadian Arctic temperatures today have not been matched or exceeded for roughly 120,000 years, Miller said.

“The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,” said Miller, also an INSTAAR fellow. “This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Miller and his colleagues compiled the age distribution of 145 radiocarbon-dated plants in the highlands of Baffin Island that were exposed by ice recession during the year they were collected by the researchers. All samples collected were within 1 meter of the ice caps, which are generally receding by 2 to 3 meters a year. “The oldest radiocarbon dates were a total shock to me,” said Miller.

Located just east of Greenland, the 196,000-square-mile Baffin Island is the fifth largest island in the world.  Most of it lies above the Arctic Circle. Many of the ice caps on the highlands of Baffin Island rest on relatively flat terrain, usually frozen to their beds. “Where the ice is cold and thin, it doesn’t flow, so the ancient landscape on which they formed is preserved pretty much intact,” said Miller.


However, Jim Bouldin has looked at the full detailed data in the study, and comments:


The authors made over 300 specimen collections, with 145 datings, along a 1000 km transect on the east side of Baffin Island (see their Figure 1 below). Most specimens were mosses in the genus Polytrichum, with some fruticose lichens collected from rocks at a few higher elevation sites. Of the 145 dates, 135 (93%) dated to < 5000 kya, all of which were Polytrichum, (no lichens) and ranging from 236 to 4900 years, with a mean of 1243.

The other ten samples are much older, all > 47 ky. These samples include six lichen and four Polytrichum, collected from four sites. Those sites are all clustered nearby each other (diamond symbols in the figure), and the four moss samples are from one sampling location.

Miller etal Fig S1


Remember that all these samples “were collected the year of their exposure along receding ice cap margins “. So, out of the 145 samples, 135 have been dated to less than 5000 years ago, and over half are as recent as the MWP. Yet the study ignores all the evidence from these, and uses a tiny amount of data from one small corner of the survey area to justify its claim of “Unprecedented warmth in the Arctic”.

Horrified? Bouldin certainly is. He comments:


We have four sites clustered together at one end of the 1000km sampling transect that give very anomalous results relative to the 135 samples collected all along that transect. So why in the world are they focusing on those four sites, to the exclusion of the much more geographically extensive 135? How can the authors just blow past this fact without discussing why in any way? Reviewers, HELLO??


Precisely! If junk science like this can be published, it really does seriously question the role of peer reviewers in providing any sort of independent, critical review.


Bouldin concludes:


The authors conclude with this statement, which really pretty much gives away their bias:

“These findings add additional evidence to the growing consensus that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have now resulted in unprecedented recent summer warmth that is well outside the range of that attributable to natural climate variability.”

No it does not thank you very much. The study doesn’t even address natural variability. And I thought the consensus was supposedly already pretty much full grown…that’s what I’ve been hearing anyway. And lastly, an area of a few square miles on Baffin Island upon which the thesis rests, does not deserve the general phrase “Arctic Canada” used in the title.


Jim Bouldin’s full analysis is here.

  1. Sparks permalink
    October 30, 2013 5:44 pm

    Typo: You are probably already [aware?] of this study

  2. October 31, 2013 5:55 am

    Pretty well the same methodology of empirical data manipulation that was used by Mann in the hokey stick. Insanity is repeating what you have done before and expecting a different result. It would appear that one under-investigated property of CO2 is the effect of institutionalised madness within the “consensus”.

  3. Brian H permalink
    October 31, 2013 7:41 am

    Square their conclusion with Viking farms in Greenland only now emerging from the ice and permafrost, with miles to go. Ijits.

  4. Russ permalink
    October 31, 2013 10:59 am

    Of course it’s warmer now than 44,000 years ago……44,000 years ago we we’re smack in the middle of a flippin full blown ice age (glacial period)! 120,000 years ago that same ice age was just starting. So this is just another sly, fraudulent attempt to sway public opinion using dates and statistics pulled out of thin air, know to be completely misleading, to support a big lie…….so what’s new??

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