Monday, March 23, 2009

Global Warming and Cooling in Review

Prof. Akasofu has some interesting things to say about global warming. His credentials as a scientist are impressive:
Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, IARC Founding Director and Professor of Physics, Emeritus, was the the director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks from its establishment in 1998 until January of 2007. He originally came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1958 as a graduate student to study the aurora under Sydney Chapman, receiving his PhD in 1961. He has been professor of geophysics since 1964. Dr. Akasofu has published more than 550

professional journal articles, authored and co-authored 10 books and has been the invited author of many encyclopedia articles. He has collaborated with numerous colleagues nationally and internationally, and has guided nine students to their Ph.D. degrees.

Dr. Akasofu's auroral work has earned national and international recognition. His paper on the aurora published in 1964 was cited as one of the most quoted papers. In 1980, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus by UAF, and in 1981 and again in 2002, he was named one of the "1000 Most Cited Scientists". The Royal Astronomy Society of London presented Dr. Akasofu with its Chapman Medal. He has been honored with the Japan Academy of Sciences Award, the John Adams Fleming Award of the American Geophysical Union, and in 2003, the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star, was conferred on him by the Emperor of Japan. In 1985, Dr. Akasofu became the first recipient of the Chapman Chair Professorship at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and in 1987, he was named one of the "Centennial Alumni" by the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. In addition, he has received awards of appreciation for his efforts in support of international science activities from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 1993 and from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Japan in 1996. He was the recipient of the University of Alaska Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence in 1997, and was named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1977, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2001.

(Even SourceWatch, a left-wing advocacy group run by John Stauber, could find nothing negative to say Dr. Akasofu.) Prof. Akasofu's presentation last month on global warming can be found here (ppt). He reminds the audience that CO2 and particularly anthropogenic CO2 are actually contribute only a very small amount to the greenhouse effect:

Most of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapor, something that, due to the oceans, man has very little influence over. Then he looks at temperature history:

The period over which we have fairly good temperature measurement, since 1880, shows a slow (0.5C/century) increase in temperature. This is easily explained as being part of the natural recovery from the last "little ice age." On top of the slow increase is a widely recognized fluctuation that gives 30-40 years of heating followed by 30-40 years of cooling. The graph shows that we are currently near the peak of an ordinary heating cycle. Tne non-scientists at the IPCC (2001) predicted rapidly increasing heating as shown by the red cone. The data up to the present, however, show no heating at 1998: the IPCC fails, at least so far, the test of experiment. Prof. Akasofu indicates (red dashed line) a more likely course for future temperatures.

What drives those multi-decade temperature fluctuations? That is not settled but Prof. Akuson notes the general similarity of global temperatures to sunspot cycles:

More presentations from the same conference can be found here.

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