A massive hole just opened up in Antarctica’s ice and scientists can’t explain it

antarctic hole

Thanks to its usefulness as an indicator of how badly humans are messing up the Earth with global warming, scientists like to keep a pretty close eye on the ice in Antarctica. Now, a massive hole the size of Lake Superior has appeared many miles inland from where the ice meets the ocean, and scientists have little concrete explanation as to why it’s there.

The hole, which is called a polynya, is incredibly puzzling because of its odd behavior. This isn’t the first time it’s been spotted, having appeared last year for a brief period as well, and long before that it was detected back in the 1970s. However, it disappeared for several decades before showing back up, throwing a huge kink in many scientific explanations for its existence.


Could the story above be related to this story below on undersea volcanos?

More than one million underwater volcanoes – Oregon State University

According to Oregon State University (OSU), there may be more than one million underwater volcanoes. Here’s how their website puts it:

“If an estimate of 4,000 volcanoes per million square kilometers on the floor of the Pacific Ocean is extrapolated for all the oceans than there are more than a million submarine (underwater) volcanoes. Perhaps as many as 75,000 of these volcanoes rise over half a mile (1 kilometer) above the ocean floor.”

Your thoughts? Are they related?


Sunspots and Volcanos?[Updated]

Anthony Mengotto in a comment brought up and interesting point, the sun is growing quiet, while volcanism is increasing. I have always wondered it there was a connection. Does vulcanism fluctuate with the increase and decrease of sunspots? The Smithsonian/USGS Weekly reports go back to the winter of 2000, which covers the Solar Cycle 23 peak and Solar Cycle 24 peak. This data allowed me to take a median date for the peaks and compare with the number of active volcanos. I did the same for Solar Cycle 23 minimum and the most recent measurement as Solar Cycle 24 seeks the minimum. The results are in the chart below.


It looks like there could be a relationship, high spots lower vulcanism, fewer spots higher vulcanism.

I picked the mid-point of the high spot count and low spots just to test the idea. There was a lot of variation in the numbers, so a more valid analysis might be to pick four fixed points in each year and plot the results on a graph of the sunspots. Plus, minimum is not until 2019 -2020.  I will use this analysis as a Python learning project, so stay tuned.

Readers thoughts are most welcome.

Update: this is the chart that got me thinking about grand minimums and volcanos:

Volcanic activity

Solar Cycles: The Bray (Hallstatt) Cycle

This is a link to a guest essay by Andy May and Javier at Watts Up With That

The evidence for a persistent irregular climate cycle with a period of 2400 ±200 years is strong. There is compelling evidence of a solar cycle of about the same length and phase; suggesting that the solar cycle might be causing the climate cycle. We will present a summary of the evidence, beginning with the original paleontological evidence, followed by the cosmogenic radionuclide (10Be or Beryllium-10 and 14C or Carbon-14) evidence. For more information, a bibliography of many papers discussing topics relevant to the Bray (Hallstatt) cycle can be found here. Only a small portion of the relevant papers are mentioned in this summary post.

This is the section that mentions solar grand minimums and maximums

The Bray cycle appears to be closely tied to tight clusters of grand solar maxima and minima. The Little Ice Age Wolf, Spörer, Maunder and Dalton grand minima are the best example of a solar grand minima cluster and they fall in a Bray low. The Greek Dark Age and the Homer grand minimum also fall in a Bray low. Significant historical events that fall in Bray lows are labeled in figure 2. A more complete picture of these events can be found here. The Little Ice Age (LIA) is a well-known cold period filled with plagues and suffering due to cold, for more details see here and in Dr. Wolfgang Behringer’s excellent book. The period labelled “GDA” is the Greek Dark Ages, during this Bray low the Late Bronze Age ended and after a period of civilization collapse, the Early Iron Age started. The “Uruk” Bray low event corresponds with the expansion of the Uruk civilization and the growth of some of the world’s first cities. Near the end of the Uruk Bray low, the Middle East transitions from the Copper Age to the Early Bronze Age and cuneiform writing appears.

You can read the full text of this interesting essay HERE. I also found the comments on this essay by Andy May and Javier very interest and worth your time to review. It is clear we have multiple solar cycles creating a complex mix of overlapping cycles, where the sum of the influence waxes and wains over time. We live in a complex universe.

Little Ice Age Theory

By James A. Marusek, Retired U.S. Navy Physicist who is warning us of what is to come.

I. Introduction

General Discussion
The sun is undergoing a state change. It is possible that we may be at the cusp of the next Little Ice Age. For several centuries the relationship between periods of quiet sun and a prolonged brutal cold climate on Earth (referred to as Little Ice Ages) have been recognized. But the exact mechanisms behind this relationship have remained a mystery. We exist in an age of scientific enlightenment, equipped with modern tools to measure subtle changes with great precision. Therefore it is important to try and come to grips with these natural climatic drivers and mold the evolution of theories that describe the mechanisms behind Little Ice Ages.

The sun changes over time. There are decadal periods when the sun is very active magnetically, producing many sunspots. These periods are referred to as Solar Grand Maxima. And then there are periods when the sun is very weak producing few sunspot. These periods are called Solar Grand Minima. Solar Grand Minima correspond to dark cold glooming periods called Little Ice Ages. And there are states in-between. During most of the 20th century, the sun was in a Solar Grand Maxima. But that came to an abrupt end beginning in July 2000. The sun produced 6 massive explosions in rapid succession. Each of these explosions produced solar proton events with a proton flux greater than 10,000 pfu @ >10 MeV. These occurred in July 2000, November 2000, September 2001, two in November 2001, and a final one in October 2003. And there hasn’t been any of this magnitude since. Then the sun produced one of the weakest solar minimums since the Ap Index was first recorded (beginning in 1932). The current solar cycle (Solar Cycle 24) is very weak. Not quite weak enough to be called a Solar Grand Minima but very close. It is analogous to a period referred to as a ‘Dalton Minimum’.

As we transitioned from a Grand Solar Maxima, which typified the 20th century to a magnetically quiet solar period similar to a Dalton Minimum (~1798-1823 A.D.), it gave us the opportunity to observe the changes in solar parameters across this transition.

I propose two mechanisms primarily responsible for Little Ice Age climatic conditions. These two components are Cloud Theory and Wind Theory. At the core of Cloud Theory are galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) and at the core of Wind Theory are diamond dust ice crystals. During Little Ice Ages, there is an increase of low level clouds that cause a general global cooling and an alteration of the jet streams that drives cold air from upper latitudes deep into the mid latitude regions.

Little Ice Age conditions are defined not only by colder temperatures but also by a shift in the patterns of wind streams. They produce long-lasting locked wind stream patterns responsible for great floods and great droughts. They also affect the cycle of seasons producing great irregularity and crop failures. Altered wind streams impacts the development of massive storms and hurricanes. These Little Ice Age conditions in the past caused poor crop yields, famines, major epidemics, mass migration, war, and major political upheavals.

Read the full document HERE: Little_Ice_Age_Theory

Be sure to read Appendix A which catalogs the climate extremes during the Maunder Minimum.  We are on the cusp of a Grand Minimum, Dalton or Maunder type, only time will tell.


Questions: What we do not know about the climate?

Citizen Scientist Willis Eschenbach is a prolific poster on climate issues at Watts Up With That. In a New Years post of reflection on where we are in climate science and where we need to go, Willis has posted a number questions; what we do not know now, or know in the future, with a list of his most important questions. For those of you who are not regular WUWT reader I am posting Willis questions for you thoughts and comments

Willis writes:

With that as a prologue, let me give at least a partial list of what we don’t know about the climate. Now, bear in mind that I’m not saying we don’t have theories about any number of these questions. Everyone has theories about some or all of these unanswered puzzles, including myself. But there is no agreement, no so-called “consensus”, about the following matters:


• Why the earth has been generally cooling since we came out of the last ice age.

• Why the earth generally cooled from earlier in the millennium to the “Little Ice Age” in the 1600-1700s

• Why the earth generally warmed from the “Little Ice Age” in the 1600-1700s to the present.

• Why the warming of 1910-1940 was as large and as fast as the warming of 1975-1998.

• Why the warming that started in 1975 plateaued in the last couple decades.

• What the current generation of climate models are missing that made them all wrong about the current plateau.

• Why there has been no increase in extreme weather events despite a couple of centuries of warming.

• Why the albedo of the northern hemisphere is the same as the albedo of the southern hemisphere, year after year, despite radically different amounts of ocean and land in the two hemispheres.

• Why there has been no acceleration of sea level rise despite numerous predictions that it would occur.


• Whether the earth will warm over the next decade.

• Whether the earth will warm over the next century.

• What the climate of 2050 or 2100 will be like. Wetter? More windy? More droughts? Calmer? More hurricanes? Fewer tornadoes? We don’t have a clue.

• Whether a couple of degrees of warming would be a net bonus, a net loss, or a catastrophic Thermageddon.

• Whether predicting future climate is a “boundary problem”.

• If predicting future climate is a boundary problem, what the boundaries might be and what their future values might be.

• Whether the evolution of the climate is predictable even in theory over anything but the short term.


• Why the system is so stable in the very short term (decadal), e.g. the net top-of-atmosphere (TOA) imbalance hasn’t varied by much more than half a watt per square metre over the last 14 years of the CERES records.

• Why the system is so stable in the short term (centuries), e.g. a variation in surface temperature of only ± 0.1% over the 20th century.

• Why the system is so stable in the longer term (millennia), e.g. a variation in surface temperature of only ± 0.5% over the Holocene.

• Why the system is so stable in the even longer term (a million years), e.g. a variation in surface temperature over the period of the ice ages of only ± 1% over the last million years.

• Why the system is so stable in the longest term (a half billion years), e.g. the sun has increased in strength by 5% over that period, an increase of about 13 W/m2. According to the accepted theory such an increase in forcing should have led to a surface temperature increase of 13°C over that period … why didn’t that increase happen.

• Why we are no closer to getting a value for the so-called “climate sensitivity” than we were thirty years ago. After uncountable hours of human labor, after huge increases in the size and complexity of our models, after unprecedented increases in computer power, after millions and millions of dollars spent on the problem, the error bounds on the answer have not narrowed at all … why not?

Your thoughts on the these questions by  Citizen Scientist Willis Eschenbach are most welcome, here or at WUWT.

C3: Latest Research: EU & Russian Scientists Confirm Medieval Period Warmer Than Modern Global Warming

Latest Research: EU & Russian Scientists Confirm Medieval Period Warmer Than Modern Global Warming

The UN’s IPCC claims that modern global warming is “unprecedented” continues to be robustly discredited by the newest scientific research – another peer reviewed study confirms that the Medieval Warming (plus the Roman and Minoan) periods had significantly warmer summers (Kamchatka, Siberia) than our current period, which has atmospheric CO2 levels exceeding 350 ppm

Read here. Scientists from Europe and Russia reconstructed temperatures from a Kamchatka Peninsula sediment core that contained chironomids. As the chart on the right depicts, the scientists determined that there were extended periods, well before CO2 atmospheric CO2 levels of 350 ppm and greater, when summer temperatures were well above modern temps.

“A paper published in Quaternary Science Reviews reconstructs Arctic temperatures in Kamchatka, USSR over the past 4,500 years and finds the highest reconstructed temperatures were about 3.8°C warmer than modern temperatures. The authors find “the highest reconstructed temperature reaching 16.8 °C between 3700 and 2800 years before the present,” about 3.8°C above “modern temperatures (∼13 °C).” In addition, the data shows temperatures between 2500 – 1100 [during the Medieval and Roman warming periods] were about 1-2°C above modern temperatures of ~13°C.” [Larisa Nazarova, Verena de Hoog, Ulrike Hoff, Oleg Dirksen, Bernhard Diekmann 2013: Quaternary Science Reviews]

Additional climate-history and peer-reviewed articles. Other historical-temperature charts.

via C3: Latest Research: EU & Russian Scientists Confirm Medieval Period Warmer Than Modern Global Warming.

via C3: Latest Research: EU & Russian Scientists Confirm Medieval Period Warmer Than Modern Global Warming.

Climate Change and the Light Switch – A Geologist View

Russ Steele

whole storyI just finished reading The Whole Story of Climate:  What Science Reveals about the Nature of Endless Change  by E. Kirsten Peters on my Kindle Fire.  After learning about the book on a climate change blog, I down loaded it from Amazon and started reading it immediately and just could not put it down.  The author introduces biographical portraits of lead scientist who made major climate indicator discoveries, and then examines the circumstances of their discoveries.  A  detective story or sorts.

Dr. Peters introduces the  important contributions that geologist have made to our understanding of climate change in very kitchen table conversational style. Even the scientifically challenged readers will find this an enjoyable read. What emerges is a much more complex and nuanced picture of climate change issues than are usually presented in the main stream presses thirty second sound bites.

“If we view climate changes as our enemy we will always be defeated, for climate will always change. Natural climate change is frequent, often extreme, and sometimes rapid. Industrial CO2 is a real problem just as you have heard, but it’s only a fragment of the whole story of climate. In other words, I’m not a global warming denier – I want to add to the discussion of climate change from the point of view of geology and natural change. What may matter most is not our carbon policies, but whether we invest in adaptive strategies that can serve us well when change inevitably arrives on our doorstep.”

Dr. Peters points out that geological history, including the ice cores, has shown that climate change can be surprisingly rapid, coming in five, ten, or fifteen years.  Climate change is more like flipping a light switch, going from warm to cold in a decade. Or, from cold to warm in a decade. We live in a chaotic world and the climate can shift rapidly, regardless of human actions.

” . . . natural history reveals that rapid shifts from hotter to cooler climes can occur over mere decades, and, if not for recent carbon pollution, an ice age might be just around the corner.”

Dr Peters explains her views in this short video: http://youtu.be/5lwP77LZbQA  Including some ideas on how to mitigate CO2 emission by snuffing out the coal field fires that are emitting tons of CO2 every day around the globe.

I agree with her views that we should be preparing for a climate shift, regardless of the direction. However, if we accept her light switch analogy while residing in a warm world, then we have to assume that the next flip of the switch will bring on a much colder world.  A much colder world that can emerge in a just a decade. A climate change that we could experience in a life time.  It has happened in the past and will happen again, according to Dr. Peters.  She presents some historical examples.

The Whole Story of Climate is essential reading if your want to understand one of our most important contemporary debates — global climate change.  Policy makers are spending billions to mitigate global warming, when in fact we may be on the cusp of global cooling, if not the next ice age.  It is important that more citizens understand the larger picture, and prepare accordingly.

More HERE.