It would seem that there were some folks at NASA GISS who still knew how to do real science in 1998. That’s the date on the following article. Yes, it has the obligatory Genuflection to Global Warming tacked on at the end, but rather like a Heil Hitler stuck at the end of a memo by an unthinking clerk who is just following the style guide of the times, words now devoid of meaning due to their over use.
Here’s the closing bit:
Arctic and boreal peatlands are important components of climate change because they play a crucial role in the terrestrial/atmospheric carbon balance as sources and sinks of carbon dioxide and methane. Today, the role of the Arctic as either a carbon source or sink is highly controversial among researchers.
Not a lot there of substance, but it has the obligatory “climate change” wrapped in “important” and “crucial”. Then promptly side steps into a null position with only a vague implication that more money would fix things.
Surprisingly, not but a sentence later, they then say it’s possibly due to MORE permafrost.
Our study, along with similar studies in the Canadian Arctic suggests that Arctic peatlands are acting more as a source of carbon to the atmosphere than a sink, possibly due to many factors such as less nutrient mineralization, increased permafrost leading to drier peat, or oxidation from winds.
Well, I guess that is “Climate Change”…
OK, starting back at the beginning, these folks are looking at stuff in the ground to get an idea what has happened to climate at the North Pole over the length of the Holocene (or at least the last 10,000 years of it)
I’m going to quote heavily as “pro skeptic” things at NASA & GISS (and NCDC too) tend to be “disappeared” after they come to light.
The Ancient Treeline and the Carbon Cycle in the Siberian Arctic
Today the Siberian Arctic tundra appears to be a desolate endless expanse of green wetlands dotted with shallow lakes. But have the same species of herbs and shrubs been present over the last 10,000 years? When did trees first arrive at the present-day northern treeline? Is the Arctic tundra acting as a source or a sink of carbon to the atmosphere today?
So from 1998, the very peak of the Global Warming scare, just before we went flat (or slightly dropping) over the last 16 years). Looking back over 10,000 years, when Mann and friends show a dead flat hockey stick blade. Primarily looking at carbon source / sink, and only accidentally looking at temperatures, from the look of things.
US and Russian scientists joined together to answer these questions by digging up the tundra to find out what happened in the past. GISS staff scientist Dr. Dorothy Peteet and NRC postdoctoral-fellow Dr. Andrei Andreev spent a summer north of the Arctic Circle between the Pur and Taz Rivers of Siberia, east of the Ural Mountains (66°N, 79°E). From their analysis of a deep sequence of frozen peat, they found that the tundra has undergone a series of changes and that the peatland was initially a shallow lake. The environment changed from drier to wetter tundra and back again several times between 9,000 to around 4,500 years ago. This high-resolution, complex record of peatland changes demonstrates the high degree of variability in peatland growth over a span of 5,000 years in a permafrost environment. Different species of moss as well as seeds and leaves of higher plants tell us about the changes in hydrology, local nutrient supply, and temperature. Charcoal in the peat record tells us whether or not fire has played a big role in this landscape. There is very little charcoal in this peatland sequence. Thus, the role of fire appears to have been a minor one, in contrast to the fire history of Finnish peatlands, in which more than half of the carbon loss was attributed to fire (Tolonen et al., l992).
So “Climate” can change all on its own? Without people or The Magic Gas CO2 being with Sin? Golly…
It also looks like there is clear evidence for a cycle, though they are a bit light on the numbers (this just being a ‘news’ bit).
The migration of trees into the region is expressed at our site by the macrofossil pattern of larch (Larix siberica) and birch (Betula pubescens) arrival, followed by spruce (Picea obovata). About six thousand years ago, spruce trees moved even further northward. Climate at that time was warmer than today. Since that time, however, the treeline retreated to its present position, and tundra replaced the old trees. The redevelopment and spread of peatland resulted in increases in moisture and acidity. This vast spread of tundra within the last few millennia indicates that climate cooled after the mid-Holocene warming.
Well. So much for the “Warmest Ever!” hype. Nature, all on its own, made the Arctic so much warmer than today that all sorts of tundra turned into forests. Then we started getting colder, with cyclical wetter / drier events. Not a lot of CO2 activity then.
A major finding of this study is the surprisingly old ages of the uppermost peat in this part of Siberia. These results show a clear lack of peat accumulation in recent millennia, either due to very low net productivity, or alternatively, recent oxidation of fossil peats. Arctic and boreal peatlands are important components of climate change because they play a crucial role in the terrestrial/atmospheric carbon balance as sources and sinks of carbon dioxide and methane. Today, the role of the Arctic as either a carbon source or sink is highly controversial among researchers. Our study, along with similar studies in the Canadian Arctic suggests that Arctic peatlands are acting more as a source of carbon to the atmosphere than a sink, possibly due to many factors such as less nutrient mineralization, increased permafrost leading to drier peat, or oxidation from winds.
Peteet, D., A. Andreev, W. Bardeen, and F. Mistretta l998. Long-term Arctic peatland dynamics, vegetation and climate history of the Pur-Taz region, Western Siberia. Boreas 27, 115-126.
Tolonen, K., H. Vasander, A.W.H. Damman, and R.S. Clymo l992. Rate of apparent and true carbon accumulation in boreal peatlands. In Proceeding of 9th International Peat Congress, Uppsala, Sweden, 22-26 June l992. Volume 1, 319-333.
Please address all inquiries about this research to Dr. Dorothy Peteet.
Well. So it’s colder, primary productivity is down, the permafrost is more prevalent so preventing much peat formation, and it’s so cold things are drier too. The forest is retreating due to the cold and permafrost.
Not sounding a whole lot like either “climate stability” that is the fictional baseline used by Climate Alarmism, nor like “Warmest Ever” now, since we are cooling significantly from the peak warmth of the Holocene. On that slow, many tens of thousands of year slide back to an Ice Age Glacial. I note in passing that the trees and Polar Bears all seemed to come through that warmer time Just Fine, thank you very much. So it looks like some warming from here is not going to be particularly catastrophic anyway.
What I find amazing about this paper is two fold. That it is clearly good and honest Science being done by someone at NASA GISS with Hansen Trolling the halls. With only a minor sop to the Global Warming gods… Then, that it actually saw the light of day. Perhaps in 1998 the “peat guys” were not yet thought of as a climate issue.
But there it is.
No nice flat hockey stick shaft; it has a hump and ripples in it.
No hottest Ever!! – not until the Larch and Spruce are back at top of the Siberian tundra.
No environmental catastrophe 6000 years ago.
No need for CO2 to cause climate change.
Just natural cycles.