January 7, 2010
Climategate and the Migrating Arctic Tree Line
One of the more enlightening e-mails to spill out of the Climategate scandal is a report on the progress of Siberian fossilized tree ring work. The report, dated October 9, 1998, focuses on some two thousand samples of fossilized trees thirty-three nautical miles north of the present-day Arctic Circle. The report attempts to correlate the migration, north and south, of the tree line with annual tree ring dating so that an actual year can be assigned to a certain location of the Arctic Circle. The report correctly states that there has been migration of the polar tree line over the past several thousand years, but the investigators attribute this migration singularly to the cold tolerances of tree species.
Although the botanists are correct that cold tolerance does affect the northern limit of trees, they incorrectly attribute the migration solely to variation in climatic temperatures. This is only part of the answer. The other part lies in the in the geographic fact that creates the Arctic Circle in the first place.
The location of the Arctic Circle is a function of the tilt of the Earth's axis, which is approximately twenty-three and a half degrees (23.5o) from the orbital plane of our planet. This is why the Arctic Circle is at sixty-six and half degrees (66.5o) north latitude, exactly 23.5o south of the North Pole, which is at ninety degrees (90o) north latitude. But this angle of axis tilt has not always been 23.5o.
The Earth's axis has been calculated to "wobble" on a 40,000-year cycle. This "wobble" is known as "precession," and this phenomenon is well-documented by astronomical observations throughout history. As the axis wobbles, it points toward different parts of the heavens. There is even an entry in Christopher Columbus's log where he admonishes his officers that the star Polaris (the North Star) is not located due north at the center of the celestial sphere but is off by one degree. That is not the fact today, but five hundred years ago, Polaris was off by one degree. Calculations have revealed that the tilt of the Earth's axis has been as much as twenty-four degrees (24o) and little as twenty-two and a half degrees (22.5o). These variations in the tilt of the axis over time have been linked to the onset and end of ice ages simply because the size on the arctic would expand and contract correspondingly to the angle of tilt resulting in a migration of the Arctic Circle tree line.
The now-discredited Dr. Jones of East Anglia University would like us to believe that the migration of the tree line along the Arctic Circle eliminates what is known as the Medieval Optimum, a warm period one thousand years ago when the Vikings were growing grapes in Greenland. Dr. Jones fails to take into account the "wobble" of the Earth's axis, which just three thousand years ago was pointing toward the star Kochab in the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper) so that it was fixed at the center of the celestial sphere. The measurements of this "wobble" over the last hundred years reveal that in 1900, the tilt was 23.45229 degrees; in 1977, the tilt was 23.44229 degrees; and in the year 2000, the tilt was 23.43928 degrees.
The e-mail report does conclude that "[t]here are no evidences of moving polar timberline to the north during last century." By establishing that there has been no northern migration of the Arctic Circle tree line, this might suggest that global temperatures have remained stable over the last one hundred years. However, keep in mind that this observation is consistent with the fact that the tilt of the Earth's axis has not shifted appreciably over that last century, either. The bigger question is this: Why was this small piece of the puzzle omitted from the reports generated by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that Dr. Jones helped compile? Is it possible that it is because this fact completely contradicts the "prevailing scientific view" that Dr. Jones would have us believe?
These types of "errors" and "omissions" seem to be indicative of the entire "Global Warming" investigation conducted through, or in collaboration with, Dr. Jones. Perhaps the best conclusion to come to is that the entire body of work compiled by the IPCC is tainted and therefore unreliable for any policymaker.