A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

New study records the natural variability of climate over very short periods of time.....

I should like to commend to readers the following seminal paper on climate change, which has just appeared in a most prestigious scientific journal. This, I think, once and for all, establishes the inherent natural variability of climate, and it exposes any oxymora of 'climate stability', even over the shortest of time-scales:

Coniglio Kaninchen, Jr 2005. "Weather and faunistic adaptation during the 'Forest Period' in southern England: a textual analysis of sudden short-term climate change." Journal of Deconstructed and Hybrid Climates, Vol. 27(1), 2005, pp. 234-57.

Abstract: the much-studied 'Forest Period' (Fp) persisted in southern England for only the briefest of geological time, being conservatively-dated to between October 14th, 1926 and October 11th, 1928, although some scholars argue that 'Forest' remnants may have survived on, and around, tumuli, or small mounds [see: Margot Mythenmaker, 1958. "The utopia of 'enchanted places' revisited." The Panenic Review, Vol. 56(2), [1958] 1959, pp. 3-9].

In this new study, Kaninchen analyses the changes in weather and forest fauna that were recorded for the so-called 'Forest Period' (Fp) in the extant 'Annals' of Winnie Ille Pu (forthwith abbreviated to: WiP). Even though these 'Annals' clearly post-date the 'Forest Period' by some years, it is argued that they are based on older vernacular sources and that they are remarkably accurate with respect to the broader environmental patterns that characterised the 'Forest Period'.

Despite the undoubted geological brevity of the 'Forest Period', Kaninchen postulates that it is possible to recognise no fewer than seven (7) different climatic phases (Phases FpI to FpVII) for the 'Forest Period' (Fp):

(a) Phase FpI: a cool-temperate phase, when the forest was characterised by bears, small pigs (Porcellus spp.), rabbits (Leporus spp.), and donkeys, and, possibly, by the now extinct, Vusillus spp. During this phase, the weather was breezy and balmy in summer, but noted for light snow falls during the winter months, when Vusillus hunting was a major occupation;

(b) Phase FpII: a 'global warming' phase, in which a meliphagous elephant species, (Heffalumpus anglicus C. Robin, 1926), was recorded for the first time in 'The Forest'. This extinct animal has captured the imagination of many later palaeontologists. The animal would take honey by its trunk, and it was hunted by means of large elephant traps, or pits, baited with honey;

(c) Phase FpIII: the FpII warming phase gave way to a much drier phase, associated with the arrival in 'The Forest' of a distinctive speces of kangaroo (Canga maternalis A. Lenardo, 1958). As the WiP annals record, the precise origins of this kangaroo species are somewhat in doubt: "Nemo undenam orti essent scire videbatur, sed nunc in silva erant: Canga ac Ru ille parvulus." (WiP VII, l. 1-2). It appears that the advent of this rather dominant species caused much disturbance among the indigenous fauna;

(d) Phase FpIV: the dry phase, FpIII, ended in dramatic circumstances, with the arrival of intense storms and considerable floods (WiP IX, l. 1: "Pluebat et pluebat et pluebat."). The lesser fauna was ecologically stressed during this phase that was referred to as: "tempus terribilis inundationis maximo". Nevertheless, some bird species came into their own, including a large owl, Bubonis pomposus (C. Robin) A. Lenardo, 1958, which would perch for hours on larger branches above the rising flood waters;

(e) Phase FpV: the phase of storms and floods, however, soon gave way to a mini-Ice Age, usually termed the 'Tiddely Ice Age' (TpIA). This was characterised by extremely heavy snow fall. Even animals like the hardy donkey (Eeyorensis paludosus C. Robin, 1926) became ecologically stressed during this phase of bitter cold, although its predilection for eating flattened thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.) gave it a competitive advantage;

(f) Phase FpVI: the cold, however, with remarkable swiftness (a sudden temperature rise estimated to be around 26 degrees Celsius), gave way to a semi-tropical climate which saw the advent into 'The Forest' of savanna-woodland animals, such as a highly-active species of tiger (Panthera tiggerensis I. Bounce, 1930). Some scholars have even argued that this phase also witnessed the return of a rare Heffalumpus sp.;

(g) Phase FpVII: during the terminal phase, there was a reversal to milder, cooler, Atlantic conditions, as the Northerly Jet Stream buckled over 'The Forest'. This gave rise to extremely strong winds and 'sting jets', which destroyed most of the trees, bringing the 'Forest Period' to an end, leaving only "sex pini" and relicts of the "Silva C. Jugerum". Bird taxa, including Bubonis pomposus, were severely affected during this final phase.

Kaninchen concludes that this record of dramatic natural climate change during so short a geological period puts current ideas of 'global warming' into clear perspective, and that, even were we able to manage any human component of such change, we would still be subject to dramatic lurches in climate of the type described for the 'Forest Period'. He further observes that the so-called 'Hockey Stick' is an artefact of current obsessions with 'presentism' and that detailed historical studies are vital for any understanding of both long-term and short-term climate change.

Finally, Kaninchen stresses the high levels of faunal adaptivity exhibited during the rapid climate changes of the 'Forest Period', and he notes that we have a tendency to exaggerate the inability of nature to adapt to such changes.

Philip, well that really 'pooh-poohs' the gloomsters, who are, of course, the true 'climate-change deniers'. So much for La Brea, then [see also Stotty's 'Los Angeles' Tar Pits tell the tale of environmental change']. Afternoon tea - and a game of pooh-sticks, everyone?

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

WWW EnviroSpin Watch

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?