Thursday, March 30, 2006

Unexpected warming in Antarctica - "Predicting the Past"

It's frustrating for the media when scientists provide evidence of warming but cannot explain why. In fact, the models used had not predicted the warming, so now the scientists are not sure whether this particular experiment proves natural or human modified climate change.

Ha!

I suppose the problem here is twofold. First we know we are in a warming trend regardless of man's emergence as a major species on the planet (we're coming out of an ice age). Second, we really have no yardsticks to compare against. I mean, where is the temperature data from the Antarctic middle troposphere taken, say 100 years ago or 1,000 years ago?

Non-existent.

So comparisons are made using models that are simplistic in design and subject to gross miscalculations in practice. And now, after all the funding, all the time and all the posturing by those who wish for certain answers, we are back to square one.

But finally, one of the scientists said "We are confident we are able to predict the past, and globally we can predict climate change". Predicting the past! Now that deserves major funding, does it not?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

by taking a core drill sample from glaciers or polar caps and viewing the freeze/thaw cycle, one can approximate the temperature from that year. and, shockingly, while we are melting the caps and glaciers are actually disappearing at a rapid rate, they have been around for at least a few hundred years.

6:56 PM  
Blogger Paul Ashton said...

Not sure I understand this comment by Anonymous. "We are melting icecaps"?

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Darren Fritzsch said...

Not sure what drugs anonymous is on, but I take exception to your deprecating comment on predicting the past. As I see it, a rudimentary test of a model's usefulness would be for it to account for the past. If it can't do that, I would have problems accepting that it could predict the future.

I accept that its a rather odd way of putting it, but its the phrase in common usage after all.

I love the blog though, you write well and the subject is inherently interesting.

4:18 AM  
Blogger Paul Ashton said...

Darren, thanks for your comment. I am pleased I am not the only person who didn't uderstand anonymous' drift. My cynicism about "predicting the past" stems from being a geologist - in a sense that is what we do most of the time, using the expression "the present is the key to the past". But we don't ask for special funding to do so, it's simply part of the science. My comment is more about the funding issues of "global warming", not experimental technique.

6:55 AM  

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