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Glaciology is a slippery science

18 November 2013
Ancient history

At http://malagabay.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/methane-myopia-5-ice-core-scie… … and he begins, 'Glaciology is a slippery science …' and we might all say aye to that. He then quotes Wikipedia extensively on a number of subjects – and you've guessed it, he finds contradictions. He adds to that, 'glaciology stinks …'

The stink, of course. is methane. I just love the way Tim Cullen prods the science – and reads between the lines. What is interesting is that we all know Wikipedia is patrolled by a small group of editors whose task in life seems to be to delete anything that doesn't comply with the mainstream consensus (in various disciplines). The sad individuals seem to think they have a higher mission in life when in fact they are only displaying their own prejudices and the manner they have been brainwashed by mainstream propaganda. Hence, it is imperative not to look at one Wikipedia source (when it comes to climate, especially) and glaciology is part of climate science (or is used as a useful tool), but to balance one Wiki entry against another, as Tim Cullen does with some dexterity, and then see what other articles have to say.

Tim Cullen points out what is conveniently ignored. For example, they exclude cryophilic microbes from the 'settled science' and yet Wiki actually has an entry on them which provides lots of interesting information. Cryophilic microbes grow in temperatures between minus 15 and +10 degrees 'in polar ice, glaciers, and snow fields'. Another Wiki entry says, 'psychrophiles and cryophiles are extremophilic organisms that will thrive in situations where there is no oxygen – or very little oxygen. He points out they will grow and reproduce even in a freezer cabinets at temperatures above -16 degrees. Glaciologists can't control the microbes which means that ice cores can be 'matured' by nature at temperatures above minus 16 degrees as well. He likens ice cores to 'gorgonzola' cheese.

In still another Wiki entry, this time bragging about the virtues of biogas digesters (all very CAGW and therefore undoctored) it spills the beans. Using microbes harvested from mud in a frozen lake in Alaska they produced methane as easily as digesters can in a warm climate. Later, we learn that live microbes making methane were found in a glacial ice core sample from Greenland. Methanogens are sensitive to the presence of oxygen and are coccoid (spherical) and bacili (rod shaped) and there are 50 species of them.

Cullen then lists several things Wiki omits. We can actually predict where cryophilic microbes could thrive in an ice core based on a temperature profile of the ice sheet and he quotes an article in Science that discusses the Grip ice core – at a depth of 2800 metres. Unsurprisingly, GRIP and GISP2 ice cores are nearly identical down to 2790m – when they diverge and it all goes haywire). This is at the 110ky point – see www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/icecore/greenland/summit/document/gispinfo.htm … which is all about the dramatic significance of the deeper part of the GISP2 core. Everything below 2790m is subject to controversy. At that point there is evidence of folding and tilting of the layers and a general disturbance (once thought to indicate melt). He even quotes Bill Alley (1995) and Gow et al (1993). Above 2790m in GISP2 there is remarkable similarity with the Vostok ice core (from Antarctica). 

A paper on microbial life in glacial ice (pay walled) noted that levels of methane ten times higher than anything over the last 110,000 years was found below the 2790m mark. The authors went on to show that peaks in methane in ice cores are caused by the presence of methanogens (which are cryophilic and related microbes). These are common on Earth in places devoid of oxygen – such as the rumen of cows (hence cows belching methane, a CAGW doomsaying) and they can easily be scraped up by ice flows over swampy and boggy subglacial soils and incorporated into the bottom layers of ice (at various stages in the process of the life of the ice sheet).  (see also http://phys.org/news9051.html)

At www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2010/pdf/5263.pdf … we are told microbes die and decompose in the first 100m of ice cores, What does this mean. Well, it seems to mean the Greenland ice cores are unreliable beyond 110ky (which is the precise period where the uniformitarian model locates the last major interglacial episode). That means Greenland ice cores do not back up the Milankovitch model of 100,000 year cycles of Ice Ages. However, we do have the Vostok ice core which can be tempered by the fact that individual ice cores cannot be visually seen or detected beyond a certain depth (and that happens long before 110ky is reached). Computer simulation of the layering process is used instead. In Antarctica this is much more difficult as the ice sheet is thicker than on Greenland and therefore the layers become thinner and thinner as a result of the huge weight of the ice above. An 'estimated' rate of layering is superimposed. That is not to say the estimation is necessarily in error – but the fact glaciologists are shy about the role of methanogen activity in Greenland ice cores we may wonder what they may or may not be hiding from us in Antarctica.

The Milankovitch model is time and time again presented as fact – an almost inviolable piece of science. In reality it is a bit of a hotch potch pieced together during a eureka moment when the uniformitarians thought they had the evidence for their hypothesis in magnetic stripes on the sea floor, the oxygen isotopes in foraminifera fossils, and ice cores, among other things, all botched together with Plate Tectonics (or a form of continental drift as it was in its gestation period). When you scratch the surface of all the confident prognostications, including foraminifera data, it seems the hypothesis is really rather fragile. Tim Cullen is doing sterling stuff putting together posts like this. 


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