Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Trees Don't Lie!

I have had many people lie to me. There was the boss who told me that I wasn't going to present to the Chairman of the Board, only to find out 15 minutes before the meeting that he was now (without ever telling me) that he was expecting me to present a 20 minute presentation. (I ran back to my computer, slapped together about 16 slides and sold the deal 15 minutes later). There was the car salesman who, when I was young and naive, assured me that he would get some accessories installed into my car that he said the car came with (but it didn't). I trusted him. When he told me, after a month, that those accessories were unavailable, his story changed and he was busy telling his bosses that I didn't raise the issue until a month later ( I never went back to that dealership and it changed the way I negotiate for cars.). All the ads on TV are some form of a lie. You won't wander about your kitchen smiling like a Cheshire cat just because you got softie toilet paper. And there are the politicians who lie, telling me what I want to hear only to do what they want to do.

In all this sea of lies, I can truthfully say I have never had a tree lie to me. I can stand in front of them and they say not a word of prevarication. Nor do they stretch the truth, even if they stretch their trunks. Their trunks, they stretch quite honestly and they do it by adding one ring each year, (each ring is really a cone on top of the previous cone of growth. It is a cone because the tree narrows as you go up.

So, what do trees have to do with anything? Well, when times are good, they grow a lot. When times are cold they grow a very little. That is what causes tree rings. The cells a slow growing tree lay down are thinner than the cells a rapidly growing tree lays down. And this means that tree rings are wide when times are warm and there is lots of water. By measuring the width of tree rings, one can tell what the environment was like.

In Siberia, at the tree line near the shores of the Arctic Ocean, the width of a tree ring boils down to just one thing--temperature. Those trees can tell us about temperature merely by looking at the width of their tree rings. Naurzbaev and Vaganov state:

"Since the summer temperature at the polar timberline is the main limiting growth factor , the dendroclimatic analysis of the relation of growth variability to air temperature data for the summer period was carried out first of all." Naurzbaev and Vaganov, “Variations of Early Summer and Annual Temperature in East Taymir and Putoran (Siberia) over the Last Two Millennia inferred from Tree rings, Journal of Geophysical Research, 105(2000), p. 7317-7326, p. 7321

They developed a way to calibrate tree-ring width with temperature. First the tree ring width from their dendrochronology. This picture goes from 2000 AD at the top to 1 AD at the bottom.

You can see several features The rings were thin around 650 AD but were thicker than average between 800 and 1200 AD. Then there are two dips, one about 1350 AD and a deeper one from 1500-1700 AD. This latter dip is known as the Little Ice Age. One also sees that the tree rings peak about 1940 AD, the time when the earth began to cool until 1970. The interesting thing is that inspite of thermometers saying something different, the trees say it is still colder in Siberia than in 1940. Maybe the urban heat island effect is affecting the reporting in Russia. After all a thermometer in a city, even a city in Siberia, is in the middle of a large heat source.

Some global warming hysteriacs have suggested that the Little Ice Age was merely a European affair. The trees tell a different story. The site is 109 degrees east of London; it is not a European site. Yet is shows the little Ice age. The hockey stick graph makes it appear as if climate was absolutely stable through history until us evil humans began polluting the earth with our evil CO2. But the trees, which don't lie, tell a different story. When it was cold in Europe, it was cold in Siberia. A few words about this time.

It was at this time, in the Little Ice Age, that some cities were destroyed by glaciers.

"Near the end of the sixteenth century the glaciers advanced rapidly and about 1605 they overran settlements which had been occupied since the beginning of history."~C. E. P. Brooks, Climate Through the Ages, (New York: Dover Publications, 1970), p. 301

When this was written, those settlements were still covered by the glaciers.

"The Maunder minimum corresponds almost precisely with the coldest excursion of the 'little ice age', a period of unusual cold in Europe from the 16th century through the early 19th century. In the coldest extremes of that period the average temperature was about one degree Celsius colder than it is now, according to the British climatologist Hubert H. Lamb. In that period the Alpine glaciers advanced farther than they had since the last major glaciation 15,000 years ago. In that period too the Norse colony in southwestern Greenland perished to a man, cut off from the rest of the world by pack ice that year after year failed to thaw."~John A. Eddy, "The Case of the Missing Sunspots", Scientific American, May, 1977, p. 87

"Greenland ice sheets tell us there was a burst of warmer weather the far north between A.D. 600 and 650, followed by a more pr longed warm period that began about 800 and climaxed between 1150 and 1300. Norwegian farmers grew wheat north of Trondheim at an unprecedented sixty-four degrees north. English vintners planted grapes as far north as Herefordshire in western England at altitude of 200 meters above sea level. Landowners in the Lammermuir Hills of southeastern Scotland grew crops at 425 meters above sea level, during a golden age of Scottish history when interclan warfare was virtually unheard of. A burst of cathedral building spread across Medieval Europe in the twelfth century. Chartres Cathedral, built in a mere quarter-century after 1195, is a miracle in glass and stone, where ten thousand worshipers from the surrounding countryside once gathered on festival days to pour out their love for God. Chartres and its contemporaries, were celebrations of the bounty of the soil, of generations of prosperity." Brian Fagan,
Floods, Famines, and Emperors: El NiƱo and the Fate of Civilizations (Basic Books, 1999)., Chapter 10 from Source

If you look at this data, it matches that shown by the tree ring widths. Naurzbaev and Vaganov then used the calibration they had developed to construct temperature scales. That is what is shown below.

To reiterate the caption, the top picture shows the raw data. In that top, the 1940 peak temperature is the warmest in the past 2000 years, and it is for 1940. As Frank Sinatra sang, "It was a very good year...". But since 1940, the trees say it has cooled which is very interesting since thermometers next to air conditioners and on hot cement and hot roof tops (see March 15, 2009) give warmer temperatures.

But putting a 57 year filter on the data produces the second picture, b. The only reason that the peak in the 20th century is so high is because of the ring width peak in 1940. Since 1940 in the raw data, the Siberian trees say the world has cooled. If one places a 300 year average on the data, we are cooler today than the world was in AD 1000, a time when there were no automobiles.

Ok, some will say this is a one-off. It isn't. Esper et al, Science, 295(2002) studied tree rings all across the Northern Hemisphere, from Siberia to Arizona and everywhere in between. Their tree ring charts say the same thing as the Siberian trees (after all, trees don't lie. Have you ever caught one lying to you?)

Indeed, we see the same conclusion as the tree rings from Siberia. We are not as warm today as we were in 1000 AD, yet we have oodles and gobs of more CO2 in the world today than we had in 1000 AD.

So, what is causing these pre-industrial changes in climate? Most likely the sun. The tree ring widths in general follow the sunspot curve. When the sun has lots of spots, it is giving out lots of energy and when, as in the Maunder Minimum, during the Little Ice Age, the sun has few spots (one should be aware that the sun has had few spots over the last 3 years and the earth seems to be cooling.)
But all that is fuel for another day.

I want also to remark that I have never had the tides lie to me either. I have lived on 3 continents and stood on the shores of the North Sea, the Bohai Bay and the coast of Texas in Galveston. I can categorically state that never has a tide lied to me. I saw a picture of the tide gauge at Tuvalu, the Pacific Island and was amazed that it was telling me that the sea level isn't rising. Any rate of change in this is statistically insignificant.

The first commentator on my blog, woox... something or other (not a very pronouncable name) suggested that I read the scientific literature, as if he was reading it and I wasn't. I wonder why he keeps missing the things I see in the scientific literature. It really doesn't take much to find things like this.

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