The Great Greenland Snow Job – 04 – Gripping the Hockey Stick

Gripping the Hockey Stick

Analysing the Camp Century ice core was a significant challenge for the US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory [CRREL] because they were a small organisation.

The CRREL organization was a small, relatively new government laboratory at the time of the Camp Century drilling project and was limited in expanding the ice-core drilling and core study team members beyond its existing complement of about five to six scientists and engineers.

Student hires and technicians were used in support roles for fieldwork.

Chester C. Langway, Jr. – 2011 – Artic Vol. 64, No. 3

Click to access Arctic64-3-385.pdf

Therefore, CRREL decided to expand their collaborative outsourcing policy [established in 1962 with the University of Bern] into a worldwide network of university specialists.

The solution suggested by CRREL was to solicit and collaborate on a worldwide basis with existing experienced university specialists.

Hans Oeschger, University of Bern, Switzerland (deceased, 1998), had already become a partner in the CRREL research team in 1962.

He was deeply engaged in the study of the greenhouse gases and the carbon-14 content of the enclosed air bubbles in the CRREL ice cores, as well as other field projects on the same subjects.

Chester C. Langway, Jr. – 2011 – Artic Vol. 64, No. 3

Click to access Arctic64-3-385.pdf

The resulting [expanded] network of Holocene Hockey Stick specialists, affectionately labelled the Greenland Gatekeepers, was catalysed when Willi Dansgaard and Chester Langway established a “trustful and fruitful” working relationship.

I submitted a proposal to Dr. Chester C. Langway, Jr., who was responsible for all ice cores recovered by SIPRE and CRREL.

I enclosed some reprints documenting, firstly, that I had some experience regarding the transposition of isotopes in the circulation of water in nature and, secondly, that the EGIG cores had already given evidence of past climatic changes being marked by δ-variations in the inland ice.

Finally, I offered to measure the whole ice core from top to bottom in any reasonable detail in co-operation with, but without expense to CRREL.

Langway and CRREL accepted my proposal, and thereby the basis was laid for many years of trustful and fruitful co-operation with Chester Langway, among friends Chet.

Frozen Annals Greenland Ice Cap Research – 2005 – Willi Dansgaard

Dansgaard wrote to me in the fall of 1966, and shortly afterward visited the CRREL laboratory in Hanover to confer with laboratory management.

He requested some form of an association with the lab so that he could obtain small samples of the entire Camp Century core to measure the stable oxygen isotopes.

Dating the ice core was a high-priority study in the CRREL science plan.

Dansgaard’s powerful use of the isotope technique had such great potential, and his technical qualifications, experience, and productivity were unmatched, so it was not difficult to convince CRREL and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which shared some of the overall expenses of the ice core study program with CRREL, to agree that Dansgaard would be an excellent fit in that program on a cost-sharing, co-investigator partnership basis.
Willi Dansgaard - Obituary
Chester C. Langway, Jr. – 2011 – Artic Vol. 64, No. 3

Click to access Arctic64-3-385.pdf

The Greenland Gatekeepers were a formidable scientific force that endured “for almost three decades”.

Using NSF funding, the team started drilling at Camp Century, Greenland, in 1961, reached bedrock in 1966 at 1,387 meters, and reached bedrock at Byrd Station in 1968 at 2,164 meters.

In 1970, led by CRREL, the U.S., Denmark, and Switzerland developed the NSF-funded Greenland Ice Sheet Program (GISP), and after drilling three test cores, in 1981 the team reached bedrock at 2,037 meters drilling at a Distant Early Warning DYE-3 radar station.

Research and Development in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Improving the Common Stock of Knowledge – 2011 – Damon Manders – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

During the mid-1960s, CRREL entered into strong international laboratory and field research collaborations with the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the University of Bern, Switzerland, as well as with other U.S. and foreign universities and institutes.

After the progress made during the IGY activities, the Greenland Ice Sheet Program (GISP) was launched in 1971, based on a partnership that had begun in 1962 between CRREL, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the University of Bern, Switzerland (and in 1975, joined by the University at Buffalo).

The History of Early Polar Ice Cores
Chester C. Langway, Jr – January 2008
Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Click to access Langway_2008_Early_polar_ice_cores.pdf

The Danish, Swiss, and CRREL partnerships continued for almost three decades, with many scientific challenges, harmonious relationships, and great scientific results.

The collaboration was capped by an 11-year field and laboratory research program, the Greenland Ice Sheet Program (GISP), which started in 1971.

The research was jointly conceived, planned, coordinated, conducted, and successfully completed in 1981, with the recovery of a core to bedrock at Dye 3.

After Willi Dansgaard retired in 1992, Claus Hammer was appointed Head of the laboratory, served for four years, and was followed by Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, who is currently serving as head.

Chester C. Langway, Jr. – 2011 – Artic Vol. 64, No. 3

Click to access Arctic64-3-385.pdf

The most significant legacies bequeathed to Settled Science by the Greenland Gatekeepers are the Holocene Hockey Stick and Abrupt Climate Change.

Perhaps the most startling outcome of this work was the demonstration that global climate could change extremely rapidly.

Dansgaard showed that dramatic shifts in mean air temperature (>10°C) had taken place in less than a decade.

The Ice Age – A Very Short Introduction
Jamie Woodward – 2014 – Oxford University Press

An abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to transition to a new climate state at a rate that is determined by the climate system energy-balance, and which is more rapid than the rate of change of the external forcing.

Past events include the end of the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse, Younger Dryas, Dansgaard-Oeschger events, Heinrich events and possibly also the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum.

The enduring beauty of the Holocene Hockey Stick is that by changing your grip the exponential blade can be pointed downwards to represent rapid Global Cooling.

A spectacular 10‰ drop in the 18O/16O ratio (δ) in precipitation indicative of rapid cooling occurred at Camp Century, Greenland, 89,500 y.a.

The timing is based upon an assumption of δ periodicity being constant in time.

Onset of the Wisconsin pleniglacial is reflected by 6‰ δ drop at 73,000 BP.

Similar event might have occurred 109,000 y.a., but the core at corresponding depth is missing.

Could it also happen today?

Speculations about the next glaciation
W. Dansgaard, S.J. Johnsen, H.B. Clausen, C.C. Langway
Quaternary Research – Volume 2, Issue 3, November 1972, Pages 396-398

Global Cooling

In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims.

During 1972 record rains in parts of the U.S., Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries.

In Canada’s wheat belt, a particularly chilly and rainy spring has delayed planting and may well bring a disappointingly small harvest.

Rainy Britain, on the other hand, has suffered from uncharacteristic dry spells the past few springs.

A series of unusually cold winters has gripped the American Far West, while New England and northern Europe have recently experienced the mildest winters within anyone’s recollection.

As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval.

However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades.

The trend shows no indication of reversing.

Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Another Ice Age?
Time Magazine 24 June 1974,23657,944914,00.html

Alternatively, when the political wind changes, you can alter your grip on the Holocene Hockey Stick so that the blade points upwards towards rapid Global Warming.

According to S. Fred Singer and Dennis Avery, our current warming is natural and caused by natural cycles in the earth system.

They attribute current warming to what are known as Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events and wrote a book about it called ‘Unstoppable Global Warming’.

Dansgaard Oeschger Events
The OSS Foundation

Why ‘Global Warming’ Is Scarier Than ‘Climate Change’
Bryan Walsh – May 27, 2014

The two terms may seem synonymous, but one generates much more engagement than the other

A quick check of the archives reveals that I’ve used the term “global warming” in 545 posts, videos and articles – not counting this one.

And the term “climate change”? 852 times.

Global Warming

The Greenland Gatekeepers were very influential [scientifically] because they had the funding, the expertise, the experience, the only deep ice core extracted from Greenland [Camp Century] and, most importantly, the only drilling rig capable of reaching bedrock beneath polar ice sheets.

These numerous advantages were further enhanced when the Greenland Gatekeepers curiously lost their [one and only] bedrock drilling rig in Antarctica during the 1969-70 season.

The same Electrodrill used at Camp Century, and the same drilling team of Hansen, Ueda, Kalafut, Garfield, and Aamot, went to Byrd Station, Antarctica, in the fall of 1966 for the second leg of the post-IGY project.

They successfully reached bottom ice at Byrd Station at 2164 m in January 1968; incredibly, it took less than parts of two field seasons (Ueda and Garfield 1969b).

Gow and Specialist Roger Doescher processed and recorded the ice cores (Gow 1970).

In the 1969–1970 field season, the drill was lost after re-entering the borehole and attempting to recover a core from below the glacier/sub-ice boundary, when the glacier/sub-ice interface meltwater unexpectedly gushed up into the borehole and froze in the core barrel.

Several attempts to recover the core barrel with special tools were unsuccessful.

The cable was severed at 1545 m to enable the continuation of borehole closure and ice flow measurements, but this resulted in forfeiting CRREL’s only bedrock drilling rig.

Chester C. Langway, Jr – January 2008
Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Click to access Langway_2008_Early_polar_ice_cores.pdf

This unfortunate loss of the one and only bedrock drilling rig setback the wider cause of “deep ice core studies for more than a decade”.

The famous Camp Century drill was lost for ever, an accident that held up further development of the just commenced deep ice core studies for more than a decade.

Frozen Annals Greenland Ice Cap Research – 2005 – Willi Dansgaard

The Drilling Gap

Chester C. Langway, Jr – January 2008
Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Click to access Langway_2008_Early_polar_ice_cores.pdf

However, on the other hand, it meant the Greenland Gatekeepers had “more than a decade” at their disposal to embed the Holocene Hockey Stick and Abrupt Climate Change in the canon of Settled Science.

The Greenland Gatekeepers didn’t waste any time and in 1970 they publicly began the task of harmonising the northern hemisphere Camp Century and southern hemisphere Byrd Station storylines.

Oxygen- and hydrogen-isotope analyses from the core hole through the Antarctic Ice Sheet at Byrd Station define temperature variations over more than 75,000 years.

Synchronism between major climatic changes in Antarctica and the Northern Hemisphere is strongly indicated.

The Wisconsin cold interval extended from 75,000 to 11,000 years ago.

Three intra-Wisconsin warmer phases were all colder than pre- or post-Wisconsin times, which suggests that North American and Eurasian continental ice sheets did not disappear at any time during the Wisconsin.

Antarctic Ice Sheet:
Stable Isotope Analyses of Byrd Station Cores and Interhemispheric Climatic Implications
Samuel Epstein, R. P. Sharp, A. J. Gow – Science 26 June 1970

In 1972 Willi Dansgaard published a harmonious follow-up analysis which included wiggle matched chronologies for Byrd Station and Camp Century.

Byrd Station vs Camp Century

The time scale to the right gives calculated ages in millennia.
It has later been changed, particularly beyond 60.000 years.
The double arrows show probable simultaneous events.

Frozen Annals Greenland Ice Cap Research – 2005 – Willi Dansgaard

Willi Dansgaard’s harmonious follow-up analysis also attempted to thwart critical analysis of his chronologies by stating “the complexity of the glaciological regime at Byrd Station precludes a rational choice of a time scale”.

The Camp Century, Greenland, deep ice core reveals seasonal variations in the isotopic composition of the ice back to 8,300 years BP.

This is not the case for the Byrd Station, Antarctica, deep ice core.

Both cores show long-term perturbations in isotopic composition reflecting climatic changes from before the beginning of the last glaciation.

But the complexity of the glaciological regime at Byrd Station precludes a rational choice of a time scale.

Pole-to-pole correlations of the palaeoclimatic data therefore become speculative except for the more pronounced features and general trends.

Oxygen Isotope Profiles through the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets
S. J. Johnsen, W. Dansgaard, H. B. Clausen and C. C. Langway Jr.
Nature – 25 February 1972

Later in 1972 the tide of scientific opinion began to turn when a group of “glacial-epoch experts” reached “something close to a consensus” regarding short interglacial periods and really scary Abrupt Climate Change.

A group of glacial-epoch experts, meeting at Brown University in 1972, reached something close to a consensus.

Reviewing the Camp Century ice cores, new foraminifera studies by Emiliani, and other field evidence, the scientists agreed that interglacial periods tended to be short, not more than ten thousand years, and to end more abruptly than had been supposed.

The present interglacial had already lasted ten thousand years.

In view of the cooling reported in the Arctic since the 1940s, they suspected our interglacial might be approaching its end.

The majority concluded that the current warm period might possibly end in rapid cooling within the next few hundred years — “a first order environmental hazard.”

The Discovery of Global Warming – February 2014
When Will the Prresent Intergalcial End

When Will the Present Interglacial End?
Science 13 October 1972 – Vol. 178 no. 4057 pp. 190-202

In 1972, George Kukla and Robert Matthews, in a Science write-up of a conference, asked when and how the current interglacial would end; concluding that “Global cooling and related rapid changes of environment, substantially exceeding the fluctuations experienced by man in historical times, must be expected within the next few millennia or even centuries.”

Kukla also saw evidence that earth was now moving rapidly toward another ice age.
Shortly after coming to Lamont, he organized a conference with Brown University geologist Robert Matthews on this idea.

They summarized their findings in a 1972 paper in the journal Science, “When Will the Present Interglacial End?”

They also wrote to President Richard Nixon of the potential for floods, snowstorms and deadly frosts, as well as “substantially lowered” food production; they warned that the Soviet Union was probably already considering a response.

However, in 1975, three brave individuals [led by Lonnie Thompson] took to the pitch and challenged the Greenland Gatekeepers with their [heretical] straight line ice core chronology [based upon microparticles concentrations] that suggested the bottom ice at Byrd Station was only [about] 27,000 years old.

The concentration of microparticles in the 2,164 m long ice core from “Byrd” station, Antarctica, varies cyclically.

Highest concentrations of 0.65 um diameter microparticles occur where oxygen-isotope studies show lowest paleotemperatures.

The age of the bottom ice estimated from microparticle-concentration variations, assuming an annual cycle, is 27000 years, much less than from oxygen isotope studies.

Microparticles vs d18O

Microparticle Chronology

Time-depth relationships for the “Byrd” core:
(a) Johnsen and others (1972) as determined from δ18O values;
(b) Established by using the minimum a1 values obtained from the particle variations;
(c) Established by using the average a1 values as determined from Figure 5;
(d) Established by using a1 values determined by variations in particles coarser than 1.65 um.

Climatological Implications of Microparticle Concentrations in the Ice Core from “Byrd” Station, Western Antarctica
Lonnie G. Thompson, Wayne L. Hamilton and Colin Bull
Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 14, No. 72, 1975

Unsurprisingly, the Greenland Gatekeepers responded with their criticisms of the microparticle chronology and concluded [weakly] that their Byrd Station chronology was simply “more realistic”.

The time scale suggested by Johnsen and others (1972) may be shown to be wrong when better field data become available from the complicated “Byrd” station area, and indeed it is encumbered with considerable uncertainty, particularly at great depths.

But so far it seems more realistic than that suggested by Thompson and others (1975).

S. J. Johnsen, C. U. Hammer, N. Reeh and W. Dansgaard – Correspondence
Journal of Glaciology Vol. 17, No. 76, 1976

The next real challenge for the Greenland Gatekeepers arrived in 1981 when the Dye 3 electromechanical drill managed to reach Greenland bedrock from a “compromise” location on the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The preliminary GISP field work started in 1971 at Dye 3 (65°N 43°W), where a 372 meter deep, 10.2 cm diameter core was recovered.

After this, annual field expeditions were carried out to drill intermediate depth cores at various locations on the ice sheet.

The first was a 398 m core at Milcent and another was a 405 m core at the Crete station in 1974.

After working out various logistical and engineering problems related to the development of a more sophisticated drilling rig, drilling to bedrock at Dye 3 began in the summer of 1979 using a new Danish electro-mechanical ice drill.

In the first year, an 18 cm diameter hole was drilled and cased to a depth of 80 m.

Coring continued for two more seasons, and on August 10, 1981, bedrock was reached at a depth of 2037 m.

The Dye 3 site was a compromise: glaciologically, a higher site on the ice divide with smooth bedrock would have been better; logistically, such a site would have been too remote.

However, the analysis of the Dye 3 ice core [by the Greenland Gatekeepers] became the “breakthrough” event for the Holocene Hockey Stick and Abrupt Climate Change when [after some fine tuning and wiggle matching] the team managed to harmonise the Camp Century and Dye 3 storylines.

Dye 3 versus Camp Century

Late Glacial Climate History from Ice Cores
H. Oeschger, J. Beer, U. Siegenthaler, B Stauffer, W. Dansgaard, C. C. Langway
Climate Process and Climate Sensitivity – 1984
Edited by J. E. Hansen and Taro Takahashi
American Geophysical Union

The first breakthrough came after the ice drillers went to a second Greenland location, a military radar station named “Dye 3” some 1,400 kilometers distant from Camp Century.

By 1981, after a decade of tenacious labor and the invention of an ingenious new drill, they had extracted gleaming cylinders of ice ten centimeters in diameter and in total more than two kilometers long.

Dansgaard’s group cut out 67,000 samples, and in each sample analyzed the ratios of oxygen isotopes.

The temperature record showed what they called “violent” changes – which corresponded closely to the jumps at Camp Century.

Moreover, the most prominent of the changes in their record corresponded to the Younger Dryas oscillation seen in pollen shifts all over Europe.

It showed up in the ice as a swift warming interrupted by “a dramatic cooling of rather short duration, perhaps only a few hundred years.

The Discovery of Global Warming – February 2014

Confirming findings from the analysis of the Camp Century ice core, the DYE-3 climate profile documented the existence of rapid climate change, during and at the end of the last glacial.

The repeated events of abrupt climate change during the glacial are named after Willi Dansgaard and his Swiss colleague, Hans Oeschger, and are known as Dansgaard-Oeschger events.

A strong volcanic-acid signal is clearly registered, using an acidity-measuring technique, in the A.D. 1259 ice layer in four different Greenland ice cores (Camp Century, Milcent, Crete and Dye 3).

This signal is similar in amplitude to the Laki (Iceland) A.D. 1783 volcanic event as recorded in the central and south Greenland ice cores.

An Inter-Hemispheric Volcanic Time-Marker in Ice Cores from Greenland and Antarctica
C.C. Langway Jr, H.B. Clausen and C.V. Hammer
Annals of Glaciology 10 – 1988

The rest, as they say, is history for the Holocene Hockey Stick and Abrupt Climate Change because Dansgaard’s findings” from Camp Century were widely believed to have been [finally and fully] “vindicated” by the Dye 3 results.

These findings were greeted with scepticism and there was much debate about the integrity of the Greenland record, but subsequent work from other drilling sites vindicated all of Dansgaard’s findings.

The Ice Age – A Very Short Introduction
Jamie Woodward – 2014 – Oxford University Press

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2 Responses to The Great Greenland Snow Job – 04 – Gripping the Hockey Stick

  1. gymnosperm says:

    There is something about Greenland and the Antarctic peninsula that lends itself to extreme climate change. Perhaps simply quaternary volcanism, but maybe something more. Tropical sediment cores show far less variation and it seems global glacial/interglacial temperature swings were more on the order of 6C.

  2. malagabay says:

    Thanks… a very interesting observation.

    Mechanically, this is very suggestive of a change in axial tilt.

    With a zero degree axial tilt there would be a far more harmonious global climate
    i.e. no long polar “night” and the seasons would be governed by our orbital distance from the sun.

    With a 90 degree axial tilt a whole hemisphere would be plunged into an indefinite polar “night” whilst the other hemisphere would experience an indefinite “day”.

    However, if the tropical sediments display “far less variation” than the polar regions then that seems to exclude the extremes of axial of tilt and suggest a “wobble” range of [say] plus or minus 10 degrees for the Earth’s axial tilt i.e. 13.4 thru 33.4 degrees.


    A change in axial tilt?

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