Temperature proxies

Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe, behind hydrogen and helium, it is one of the most important and abundant elements on Earth.

Molecular oxygen O₂ is produced from water by cyanobacteria, algae, and plants during photosynthesis and is part of cellular respiration for all living organisms. Green algae and cyanobacteria in marine environments produce ~70% of the free oxygen produced on Earth and the rest is produced by terrestrial plants. …

… The atomic number of the atom of oxygen is 8 (with 8 protons) and its atomic weight is 16 (with 8 neutrons). The conventional form of expressing atomic oxygen is ¹⁶O – which is known as “light” oxygen. There are also a small fraction of oxygen atoms that have 2 extra neutrons and this is referred to as ¹⁸O because of 2 extra neutrons making the atomic weight equal to 18 – these are referred to as “heavy” oxygen. The heavy oxygen is fairly rare – found in only about 1 in 500 atoms of oxygen.

These two isotopes of oxygen are extremely important in climate analysis because of the following fact.   Light oxygen in water (H2¹⁶O) evaporates easier than water with  heavy oxygen (H2¹⁸O) – (it is harder for heavier molecules to overcome barriers to evaporation). Whereas water vapor molecules that condense and form precipitation preferentially remove ¹⁸O relative to ¹⁶O.

When the above is applied to ice cores, the following scenario develops. The water-ice in glaciers originally came from vapor over the oceans, later falling as snow and becoming compacted in the ice. Hence glaciers are relatively enhanced in ¹⁶O, while the oceans are relatively enriched in ¹⁸O.

This imbalance is more severe in colder climates than for warmer. It has been demonstrated that a decrease of one part per million of ¹⁸O in ice reflects a drop of 1.5 °C in air temperature at the time it originally evaporated from the ocean. In ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica are layered and the layers can be counted to determine age – with the heavy oxygen ratio used as a thermometer.

This isotopic analysis of oxygen can be used in ocean sediment cores of the shells of dead marine organisms. The oxygen in the carbonate of the calcium carbonate (CaCO₃) of the organisms reflects the isotopic abundance in the shallow waters where the various sea creatures lived. Once one knows the date and time of ancient sediments, one can use the isotopic ratio of oxygen to determine sea surface temperature at that time – the procedure of Veizer 3 who reconstructed Earth’s temperature record over the past 500 million years …

[Rex J. Fleming, The Rise and Fall of the Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climate Change]

I’ve been working my way through Dr. Fleming’s Rise and Fall , off and on, for over a month now. I am especially interested in his work on solar effects on climate. Many scientists speculate that we could be entering a Maunder Minimum, or a decline in sunspots that leads to a cooling of the planet – think Little Ice Age. There is a saying that predictions are dangerous, especially about the future, so I won’t discuss that topic other than to say that the frequency of sunspots has been in decline since 2015.

I am more interested right now in ¹⁸O relative to ¹⁶O, as it has been used to reconstruct the temperature history of the planet going back 123,000 years in Greenland, and 800,000 years in Antarctica. The graph below shows the last 10,000 years, our current Interglacial Period, aka the Holocene.

Greenland GISP2 Ice Core

Since we have only had thermometers since the early 1700s, scientists in trying to put together the temperature history of our planet are forced to use “proxies,” or substitute data that points at temperature. A proxy is reliable if it can accurately gauge current temperatures where other measurements are available for comparison, say the 20th Century. In fact, ice cores are reliable. The above graph only goes forward to 1950, but note two things: One, it was very warm during the Roman and Medieval Warm periods, far more than now, and as we know, civilization thrived during those times.  The peak to the left of the Roman Warm period is known as the Minoan, warmer still than its successors.

Our current warming is the Modern Warm Period. As you can see from the graph, the general trend is a decline. We are on the tail end of an interglacial period, which in our planet’s history have lasted anywhere from 10-15,000 years.

The hockey stick

This is the famous “Hockey Stick,” produced by Michael Mann and others for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and for use in Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Mann also used a proxy, temperature tree ring records, the most influential in his work a bristlecone pine from high and arid mountains in the southwest United States. (According to McIntyre and McKittrick, who replicated Mann’s work, all the rest of Mann’s data was just white noise. The Hockey Stick was a bristlecone product.) Tree ring records are not reliable in terms of a temperature gauge, as they are affected by climate itself, and by CO2 levels. The group that originally collected the data on bristlecones specifically warned that they should not be used for temperature reconstruction, but Mann ignored them.

And the reasons are clear enough from the Climategate emails, where we learned that Mann was tasked with eliminating the Medieval Warm Period and told to “hide the decline”, that is, the flattening of temperatures since 1998.  To do the former he had to avoid reliable data, and instead chose the bristlecones. So while hundreds of thousands of years of reliable temperature data was available from ice cores, Mann chose to avoid that data and rely on tree rings instead. His work is essentially dishonest more than incompetent. I suspect that he was instructed by “closeted friends” to achieve a predetermined result by any means available.

This is just a taste of the dishonesty abundant in the climate alarmist movement. I am currently immersed in the HBO series Game of Thrones, which paints a deplorable image of human beings so that only the treacherous and dishonest have a chance of survival. The Climate Alarmist movement leaves me with a similar feeling. Diogenes need not knock on any of their doors.

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