Thursday, July 16, 2009

Are Prince Edward Islanders Big Fat Liars?

A poster to this site suggests that somebody lied when it comes to reporting frost in July on Prince Edward Island.

Here's the report from the CBC:

"Temperatures dropped to a record low in Prince Edward Island overnight Tuesday, with reports of frost throughout the province."

Throughout the province. So, it wasn't just somebody -- it was Islanders in general who lied.

Here's how the Charlottetown Guardian reported it:

"There are reports that frost occurred overnight in low-lying areas of P.E.I., a weather event virtually unheard of for July 8.
Some residents said they had to scrap frost off windshields, while some monitoring stations had temperatures hovering close to 2 C."

The temperature dropped to an official 3.8 C early this morning at the Charlottetown airport, a record low temperature for the date. The previous record was 5.1 C set in 2005."

Record lows set in 2009 and 2005. Hmm...

"The high temperature Tuesday was only 14.7C. The average high for date is 22.7 while the average low is 13.2 C."

High of the day just above the average low. Hmm...

"Highest Temperature (1943-2008) 31.1°C 1952
Lowest Temperature (1943-2008) 5.1°C 2005"

Highest recorded temperature 1952, lowest 2005. Hmmm.

Maybe not all Islanders are liars. Maybe only those living in rural, low-lying areas not immediately adjacent to official weather-monitoring devices.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

When does frost form?


Frances said...

At night, air cools, and cooler air cannot hold as much water vapour as warmer air. Hence dew, when the water vapour is essentially squeezed out of the air and lands on nearby surfaces. If the air is cold enough, you get frost.

Valleys tend to get frost before the nearby uplands (within reason) because cold air is heavier than warm air and sinks. So at our home, on a bench above the nearby river, the valley below will see frost before we do. The official temperature - taken at the local airport - will show the higher upland temperature, but the frost will still be there. Frost warnings for the valleys are common in the spring and fall, though we can get them during a cool summer.

This is a really potted version of what happens. Hope this helps.

Bitter Chill said...

Well, RK, I see you are learning one of the great tricks of the Climate Change Denier, that of cherry picking data.

However, you aptly demonstrate your ignorance of the basic point being made here. You use the extreme events (weather-related) when you should be looking at overall trends (climate-related). The actual hottest day on record means nothing, nor does the extreme coldest day on record. Climate is about trends. It was not an abnormally cold June or July (so far) in PEI. June was slightly warmer than average, but not so much as to not be within normal variation. July is (so far) slightly colder than average, but totally within the normal variation (two standard deviations, if that means anything to you, if it doesn’t I may as well be having this conversation with a doorstop.), even though the traditionally warmest two weeks of the month have not happened yet. I’ll wager you dollars to donuts that the mean temperature for July 2009 for PEI will be above average this year (but still within 2 SD of the mean).

RkBall said...

Cherry-picking -- as opposed to what, calling people liars?

Frances said...

Bitter - if it were record highs being reported on PEI, you can bet those would be used as 'proof' of anthropomorphic global warming. Remember that December in Toronto when the patios were still open? Jack Layton was all over the news about this proof of AGW. Didn't notice him the next year, though, when the weather was cold and snowy.

Reality is that the earth's climate has changed in the past (sometimes drastically), is changing, and will change in the future. That's a given. During man's time on earth, warm has been considered good - green stuff grows and matures so there is food for man and beast. And carbon dioxide is necessary for plant growth.

The science on AGW is seriously flawed, and the danger is that we will be irrevocable committed to ameliorating the supposed causes of AGW, spend all available funds on this amelioration, be unable to stop the climate change, and lack the funds and technology to do real good.

Bitter Chill said...

No Frances, I wouldn’t. Because I understand the difference between climate trends and daily weather. I don’t remember the event you describe in Toronto, nor do I listen to Jack Layton on the topic of Climate. He isn’t a scientist, nor is he very well informed on the topic. The NDP under Jack have been sorrowful on the environment, especially on Climate Change.

Earth’s climate has changed in the past. It has been warmer than now (i.e. during the Eocene, 50mya) and colder than now (i.e. the Late Ordovician, 440mya), however, there is no evidence in the rock record, the coral record, the benthic sediment record, in ice core record, the palynologic record, the dendrochronaitic record, or in the fluid inclusion record that the climate has ever changed as rapidly as it is currently. It is the pace of change that is concerning to the planet’s ecosystems (and our food supply), not the amount of change. CO2 is necessary for plant growth: great, so is chlorine, but you don’t want to be breathing too much of it. The eradication of CO2 is not the plan, it is reducing the artificial production of it so the earth’s ecosystems can keep up with converting it into tissues. Hopefully tasty tissues we can eat….

The science on the anthropogenic causes of the current clime change is not seriously flawed, although it could be improved. I’m curious about your last sentence. Does this suggest you agree that climate change is real and is happening now, but is just not anthropogenic? That sort of negates your first two paragraphs, but it is a reasonable assertion to make, although the current state of the science does not support it. In the end you may be correct, but no other viable mechanism for the current change has been found. Further, the only thing we know for sure is that even if the change is unrelated to atmospheric CO2, pushing atmospheric CO2 above 400ppm will not make the situation better, and will definitively make the situation worse.

Joe said...

Bitter Chill I think you left out the frozen record. A few years ago 'scientists' were trying to extract the DNA from mammoths and inserting it into an elephants eggs to bring the mammoth back from extinction. Where were they finding that mammoth DNA? Why from frozen mammoths of course. Every once in a while people find an almost complete mammoth carcass in melting glaciers. These mammoths are so life like some of them even have grass in their mouths... Oh you mean that it got so cold so fast that the mammoths were flash frozen? Do you mean that those flash frozen mammoths have been kept frozen for thousands of years? Now what was that you were saying about climate change being slow and inextricably tied into your pet AGW theory?

Its so much fun watching to those who think themselves wise in theory come crashing into reality.

Bitter Chill said...

Joe> Huh? Are you really that dumb? You must be using sarcasm. Just in case someone out there doesn’t understand your satire:

You are suggesting that the extinction of the Wooly Mammoth was caused by a sudden onset of the ice age? The only problem being that the mammoth evolved during the Pleistocene ice age (some time before 150,000 years ago)… here is a timeline to kept that straight in your head:

Ice age (2,000,000 years ago)->
development of Mammoth (300,000 – 150,000)->
decline of Mammoth (30,000) ->
end of ice age (15,000 – 10,000)->
extinction of Mammoth (by 10,000, except for a few “pygmy” subspecies)

As remarkable as this may seem to you, many of the mammoths recovered from the permafrost and from residual continental icefields died long before the extinction of the species, so it is kind of irrelevant how individual specimens died when it comes to a climate change argument.

You are somehow surprised that some of these specimens (who lived in the arctic tundra during an ice age) froze to death!?! Will you be as easily shocked to discover that wild camels often died of thirst? Or will you just say that is proof the desertification happens “suddenly”. Will you assume drowned whales are a result of the Flood?

And why the quotations around the word scientists? Paleoecology isn't science to you?

Frances said...

Bitter - as I said: climate change has happened, is happening, and will happen in the future. The idea that the climate should be static is utter nonsense.

Instead of the cap and trade, demonizing of carbon, and trashing of the enironment with seriously inefficient 'green technologies', let's put the energy and money to real problems such as malaria.

Joe said...

Well Big Chill its obvious that you have way too much education and way too little intelligent thoughts. We don't know when Wooly Mammoths came into existence. We don't know what the climate was like when they came into existence. We don't know what the climate was like during their existence. We can merely speculate about their arrival existence and departure.

My speculation that a number of large animals freezing to death even as they were eating green grass that then remaining frozen for thousands of years as being indicative of rapid global cooling is just as valid as any of your speculations.

Fact: the mammoths were eating grass when they died. Grass was found in their mouths.

Fact: Grass does not grow in cold weather.

Fact: Grass does not grow in or on ice.

Therefore the mammoth must have been standing on the ground eating the grass.

Fact: The mammoths were found encased in ice with grass in their mouths.

In most years that I have observed an animal may get caught in in a rogue blizzard and die but inevitably when the weather warms up in a few weeks or months the snow melts and the scavengers eat the carcass.

It is widely held that the dead mammoths have been frozen for thousands of years.

So one year a large mammal freezes to death except for some reason the weather doesn't warm up enough to melt the snow like it did in years previous. (It must of warmed up previously for the grass to grow) Not only did it not warm up for a year it didn't warm up for thousands of years.

My speculation is that the climate can change very quickly and that frozen mammoths are an indication of just such a change is valid.

Fact: My speculation is just as valid as any other speculation. Why? Because it is only speculation until it is proven. It can not be proven because none of us witnessed it nor can it be duplicated.

Bitter Chill said...

We have a considerable amount of evidence: fossil, DNA (as you so eloquently pointed out), geological, palynological, and ecological, about when mammoths came into existence, and what the climate was like. To say science is “speculating” on these facts is like saying we are “speculating” on the distance to the moon, or we are “speculating” on the molar mass of gold. You are free to “speculate” that the moon is only 4” away from your finger tips when you stretch really hard , or that gold has less mass than aluminum, but clearly not all speculations are of equal value when trying to build a rocket to the moon.

Let us evaluate your speculation: A couple of mammoths are standing in a sunny grass field, perhaps frolicking in the sprinklers (Fact: without weekly sprinkling, the grass in my front yard doesn’t grow!), when the weather turns so suddenly cold that they are frozen in place…mid-chomp on a mouthful of grass! They are immediately hard-frozen (remember that preserved grass!) and ice forms around them, not to melt for thousands of years! That is “speculation” at the level of reaching for the moon, Joe. What mechanism do you propose for the sudden temperature change? Do I really have to disprove the resultant “speculation” of an alien freeze-ray from Mars, or can I discount that “speculation” as unfounded, and move on. Not all speculations are equal Joe.

Part of the problem is that your speculation is based on a foundation of fact that are found to be inaccurate characterizations of the situation:
Grass does grow in cold weather. What do you think those muskoxen and caribou are eating? Snow?
Grass does grow in glacial environments, if you have ever seen an actual glacier, you would have noted the ecology of medial and terminal moraines.
Most of the 39 specimens of mammoths found preserved in frozen ground (not ice) were incomplete specimens (indicating scavenging by other animals) and were at least partially decayed before being frozen. None were “encased in ice”, but all were surrounded by soil (sand, mud, silt, depending on if they fell into a bog or a river) which was subsequently frozen, by a phenomenon known as permafrost.

Let’s compare your “speculation” to the following: Over the tens of thousands of years that mammoths lived in the expanded arctic of the Pleistocene, all of them died of a wide range of a causes: disease, predation, dehydration, old age, injury, drowning, etc. etc. A very small number of these expired pachyderms died in situations where they fell into mud bogs (found wherever there is permafrost and grass, like where mammoths lived), were caught in quicksand (common in periglacial environments), fell through ice or directly into rivers or lakes, or were caught in mudflows, glacial outburst floods, avalanches, or other locally catastrophic event common in glacial environments. Some even died so suddenly they only had time to puke up their last meal. The general cold of permafrost ground, mixed with the anoxygenic nature of boggy soils, significantly reduced the rate of microbial decay, while enhancing the desiccation of the corpse. Burial of the corpse (or even parts of the corpse, after being dragged around by scavengers) by one or more of the aforementioned events, eventually leads to freezing of the surrounding soils due to natural permafrost formation. After several thousands of years preserved in the permafrost, another event (this time, likely human excavation or the erosion of a meandering river bank) exposes the frozen remains to the surface.

Which “speculation” sounds more far-fetched to you? What evidence would one need to prove either? What evidence is available? Can you even be honest with yourself about this, Joe?

Joe said...

Um Bitter ole boy grass does not grow in sub zero temperatures. Muskox etc are eating grasses and lichens that grow when the temperature is above zero Centigrade. As I pointed out the mammoths were eating grass which would have grown during a period, dare I call it 'summer', when the temperature was above zero. Winter came and the animals died possibly from exposure. What should be evident everyone but the thickest amongst us is the obvious fact that 'summer' did not return!

Freezing animals is not unusual. Animals digging through snow to eat sedges and lichens that grew the previous summer is not unusual. What is unusual is that it did not warm up sufficiently to melt the snow for thousands of years!!!!

Hello! Please get with the program here. We are showing that climate changes warmer to cooler, or cooler to warmer sometimes quite quickly and sometimes quite slowly but inextricably the climate changes.

Bitter Chill said...

Actually, Joe, the specific animal of which you spoke (mammoth with grass in it’s mouth) didn’t die of exposure. Animals that are dying of exposure don’t eat with their final breaths. More likely, there was a sudden traumatic death, followed by rapid burial.

Have you thought this out? Are you suggesting at all 39 mammoth specimens of which whole or partial carcasses have been found in permafrost died as a result of the same event?!? And all the bison, muskox, and other fauna found frozen in permafrost? I’m afraid that is contrary to a mountain of evidence, especially since some died tens of thousands of years before others, and at least two non-co-habitating populations of mammoth are represented, along with numerous other species from as recent at 5,000 years ago to more than 100,000 years. Also, some had evidence of dying from trauma (e.g. broken bones), others from likely starvations (e.g. low muscle mass, loss of bone density, hair loss), others evidence of predation.

Finally, you may be under the impression that these “preserved” mammoths were encased in blocks of ice, looking like the day they died, just a couple of hours with a hair-dryer from roaring again. Actually, they were rather desiccated and at least partially decomposed, better thought of as mummified than frozen.

I ask you again, which “speculation” makes the most logical sense, and fits the balance of evidence? Be truthful here.

There is a really cool book on the subject if anyone is interested.

Joe said...

Well Bitey ole boy take your pick. I am convinced that most modern science is 99% hubris 1% hot air.

Hubris says we can know it all.

Hot air says if you yell loud enough and long enough and throw enough big words around people will believe you as you expose your ignorance even as you claim it as knowledge.

Just as a side: How many 10,000 year dead muskox are being revealed by melting snow? As to your point of some mammoths being dessicated you are right others are in a remarkable state of preservation. None of which disproves my theory that sudden and prolonged cooling caused the mammoths to be preserved.

After all there undoubtedly were warmer years in the intervening centuries which would have allowed the ice to recede and allow the mammoth carcass to be exposed.

The fact is that mammoths no longer graze where they once grazed not only because they are extinct but also because in the intervening centuries there has been no grazing available.

Bitter Chill said...

You are convinced modern science is 99% hubris and 1% hot air? Amazing how that combination has resulted in spacecraft orbiting Saturn, a 90% success rate in curing some cancers, the virtual eradication of numerous fatal childhood diseases, the very technology you are using to write you anti-science rant. Talk about hubris.

Since you refuse to address any of my points directly, this thread is pretty much exhausted. I will address your points though, as a courtesy.

Muskoxen (or their close forebearers) are at least 200,000 years old. There have been numerous examples preserved in permafrost, enough that we can say with some confidence that they were in Siberia first, and came across the Canadian Arctic around 90,000 years ago. I don’t have the exact number for you, but the book I cited in my last post tells of many of them, many more than mammoths.

Your theory of sudden and prolonged cooling is disproven by the fact that not all the mammoths were killed at the same time. Apparently, this sudden prolonged cooling preserved a single mammoth, while other mammoths continued to live in the same region until another sudden prolonged cooling killed one more, etc. etc…. remember: there were mammoths grazing on grass on the very ground above formerly-deceased mammoths frozen in the ground. The same way that, as recently as 100 years ago, there were muskoxen grazing on grass with frozen muskoxen and mammoths in the ground under them.

I think your misunderstanding is the “ice” thing. The mammoth carcasses were not exposed by the receding of ice, as you suggest. They were all exposed by one of two things: human excavation (digging holes in the permafrost), or exposure in the banks of rivers that erode their banks as they meander. All of these mammoths were buried under the ground, in dirt. They just happened to be frozen because the ground within which they were buried was frozen, co-called permafrost. There was no need for ice to recede for them to be exposed. They were buried in the ground, not “encased in ice”. All 39 of them.

Your final fact is astounding, and brand new to science. In reality, we don’t really know why mammoths went extinct. Surely it wasn’t because of lack of grazing, because muskoxen, caribou, and other grazing animals with which the Mammoth shared territory, did not go extinct at the same time. So we know grazing was available. It may have been some change in predation, it may have been the result of early human over-hunting, it may have been some pachyderm-specific disease. Actually, the strongest evidence suggests it was a reduction in habitat combined with increased competition from other grazers, that eventually reduced their numbers until they could be hunted to extinction. But to go full circle, this is one of those little details that science readily admits it doesn’t know. Just not enough information right now to give a definitive answer. However, that doesn’t take away from the facts we do know: they died out, about 10,000 years ago (except on Wrangell, but that is whole other story…)

Anonymous said...

I go away for a week and wow... talk about a total spanking of Joe here!

I love Bitter Chill's line to Joe: "Huh? Are you really that dumb?"

Boy did Joe ever show the answer to that question is "YES, Yes I am!"

Bitter calmly responds to Joe's ridiculous speculations one by one, pointing out to the more sane among us just how stupid Joe's points were... and Joe ignores this and continues down that road to stupidity!

Look! A mamoth with a mouth full of grass - flash frozen so quickly that it didn't have time to swallow!!! My dog is that DUMB!!!

Joe Agnost (no relation to Joe the scientifically illiterate).

Joe said...

Anonymous: Do you ever use Google? Try Googling "frozen mammoths". In 1901 a mammoth carcass was found in Siberia. In the animal's mouth was found the grass that it was eating when it died. It is estimated that there are literally thousands of these carcasses some of which are found still standing. One baby mammoth was found in such a state of preservation that it appears almost life like.

Much of our concepts of mammoths has come from the ones we have found frozen in Siberia such as the idea that the mammoth must have been an animal well adapted to arctic climes. Its hair etc would seem to indicate that it could withstand some very cold weather.

However the physiology of the mammoth would indicate that the animal needed abundant pasture or it would starve to death. Combine that with the fact that there are literally thousands of frozen carcasses the only conclusion you can reach is that the animals were living in a fairly moderate climate in order for sufficient grass to grow.
As Bitey pointed out tufts of grass grow on glacier moraines and lichens and sedges grow in the high arctic but a mammoth wouldn't last a week clearing off a quarter section land of such grasses, lichens and sedges. If one mammoth couldn't survive on a quarter section how much land would be required for the thousands of mammoths found frozen in Siberia?

Lets recap for the slow amongst us.

An animal like a mammoth needs lots of grass to eat. The amount of grass needed to feed a herd of mammoths could only have been found in moderate climes. Glacier or arctic climes are too cold to provide enough grass.

An animal such as a mammoth upon its death falls over and soon begins to rot from the inside out.

An carcass such as a mammoth's, as it rots gives off a strong odour which attracts scavengers. These scavengers pick the bones clean.

Under normal conditions after a few months or years the best you can expect to see is a few of the larger bones.

In extraordinary times the animal may have fallen into a bog or pit or be covered with volcanic ash. Rarely in these events is there much left except the bone and maybe some skin or hair.

Finding one animal frozen is remarkable. Finding literally thousands of them frozen and some in such condition as to appear lifelike is most unusual. But to find some of them standing with food still in their mouths and digestive tracts is....

My point however is not to discuss the life and times of mammoths. My point is that for some reason these creatures became encased in ice before they could fall down dead. The animals froze so fast that we can tell what kind of plants they were eating. These animals were not only frozen but they remained frozen for thousands of years. In other words the climate in Siberia changed suddenly and remained in that changed state for thousands of years. This refutes Bitey's contention that climate only changes slowly except where manmade CO2 involved of course.

Now please annony before you make a bigger fool of yourself Google frozen mammoths and draw your own conclusions. You see that is what I've been pushing all along. Bitey and Lasty are parroting a line that has more holes in it than a sieve but they are trying to sound all authoritative on matters climate. Myself? I prefer to put matters into layman terms instead of using technical language. Somehow when you hear it in plain English it sounds much less plausible than when it is communicated in technospeak.

Bitter Chill said...

You don’t even see the contradiction in your own statements. In one post you claimed that mammoths were well adapted to living in very cold climates, and that very cold climates could not have provided the food required for mammoths to live. How do you circle that square?

Thousands, Joe? Thousands? Try 39. that is the total number of whole or partial mammoth carcasses found with soft tissues intact. 39. Most of them are partials, not completes. The number found still standing is even lower: 0. Yes, that is true, I know you will debate it, but there is not a single instance of a frozen mammoth being found “still standing”. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Not one. Never happened, except maybe in fiction. Therefore, your central point is found to be false. You have nothing more to contribute on this matter, your credibility is gone. Please move on to another subject.

Joe said...

Bitey ole boy please re-read what I wrote. I never claimed that mammoths were well adapted to prolonged cold just that their hair might indicate that they could withstand cold for a brief time. In other words they wouldn't freeze to death if the temperature dropped below zero over night.

As for the numbers of mammoths I defer to the people who actually WORK with the carcasses. You know the real life experts not some clown with a computer model that biases his data to attain his result.

You know like the ones in the climate debate who take contaminated data guesstimate what they think it should be then trow their results out as proof positive that mankind is giving mother earth a fever.

Oh by the way what ever happened to the hockey stick I haven't seen you warmists flailing about with it any more. Did someone break it?

Anonymous said...

Joe: "It is estimated that there are literally thousands of these carcasses some of which are found still standing."

You make this point early in your comment - and then continue to talk about the thousands as if they'd actually found them!!

Like here: "Finding one animal frozen is remarkable. Finding literally thousands of them frozen and some in such condition as to appear lifelike is most unusual."

Yeah - it would be "unusual", and since it NEVER HAPPENED it's a moot point! They "estimated" that there are thousands of these... and yet all they've found are 39.

Your idea that these animals were frozen so quickly that they didn't have time to swallow their food is completely laughable...

joe agnost

Joe said...

Well there agnasty do you have any explanations that meet the criteria?

Please note the idea here is not to debate mammoths but rather to come up with a climate theory that would predict the discovery of frozen mammoths. What happened to the climate that we are able to find frozen mammoths some with grass in their mouths others in near life like condition?

The mammoths are there and are frozen of that there can be no debate. What kind of weather or climate change occurred that caused them to be there and to be preserved all these years.

To use an analogy: In western Canada there are wild horses. They thrive and survive by digging through the winter snow to eat the grass that grew the summer previous. Now suppose that 10,000 years from now people discover frozen horse carcasses in glaciers scattered over western Canada? Not only are there frozen horse carcasses but in their mouths is grass that they had been eating. What plausible explanation could there be for these discoveries.

Now think for a minute these horses had not starved to death, some were found still standing, some had their last meal still in their mouths. What caused it to happen?

Now transpose horses with mammoths. Keep the 10,000 years between freezing and discovery and replace future humans with you and me. What explanation fits the observed? Now the warmists seem to be pretty good at attributing cause to effect after all they have determined that CO2 is causing the oceans to rise, so in face of that impeccable genius I ask what caused the mammoths to be preserved?

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"