Wednesday, January 19, 2011

University of Michigan: Not So Sure About Melting Ice Caps

A University of Michigan study released Tuesday claims shrinking snow and ice cover intensify global warming. But many skeptics question the conclusions and point to the limited amount of data over time that the researchers had available.
Mark Flanner, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences is the lead researcher. He has analyzed data from satellites over the last three decades in the northern hemisphere.
“The implication is that Earth's climate may be more sensitive to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other perturbations than models predict," Flanner said in a press release.
Pat Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, said in an e-mail that while many do not dispute that the phenomenon of “greenhouse warming” exists, what is important is the “amount of warming.” He said that it is clearly below what was predicted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at University of Alabama-Huntsville, said scientists have only been measuring Arctic sea ice since 1979. He said researchers who start with the conclusion that is a “normal” period for temperatures could not be proven right or wrong.
“That is the mistake everyone makes in this business,” Spencer said. “You can’t prove them wrong. It is one thing to measure what has happened. But to figure out cause and effect is extremely different. Yet, that makes all the difference in the world when determining man-made global warming.”
Thermometer readings in the Arctic suggest that it was just as warm in the 1930s as it is now, he said.