Feverish On Boreholes

Rerun from March 1, 1993 (updated)

When Gaius Shaver was known to me and me alone as Doc Savage, ARC, CED was feverish on borehole temperatures. Boreholes bored down through the otherwise boring earth may reveal past average surface temperatures. CED related Shaver's recounting of borehole temperatures near Dead Horse, Alaska, aka, oil wells. The notion was that North Slope warming this century had been detected and that readers of Science magazine had the right to know about it. CED farming (messing around with surface) sugar cane farming, in pre- pre-Castro days, were also seen in the temperature change with depth.

Now, out of the woodwork, comes an entire journal issue dedicated to borehole climate records. The journal is a spin-off journal of PPP, aka, Paleoclimate, Paleoecology, Paleohydrology. The spin-off's name is Global Planetary Change. So drift on by your local science library and pick up the last issue of 1992 and have a look. I came to know of this area of research by Vladimir’s papers. There is even an article on how you take the raw borehole temperatures and filter, message and transform it into a smooth temperature curve.

In looking over all the graphs in the journal I think the time-temperature histories are pretty good back to about 1300 A.D. Before 1300 A.D., I see differences in the borehole temperatures with known paleoclimate variations in temperature. Putting the coldest of the little ice age at 1800 is not bad but there are other records that put it in the early 1700s. The sharp rise from 1800 to 1900 looks pretty good. In the post-1900 period, the records are problematic because of surface thermal variability at this close distance to the surface.

In my view, the most interesting stuff is on vegetation change and borehole temperatures. The equilibrium borehole temperature difference between forest and grassland, at the same general location, is on the order of 4 to 5 C. The implication is clear. Cut down the forest and temperatures rise 4 to 5 C. That is bigger than what most of the GCMs say will happen with a doubling of CO2! Now that is newsworthy. These days at global climate change workshops, there is some crusty non-fool who says that landscape and land cover changes will be bigger than CO2 global warming. What happens to one of our weather stations when the landscape changes from forest to fields or suburbs? Yes, the "climate" of the station changes and the changes are bigger than urban warming. The surface record of thermometric measurements is a most difficult record to read. I think the best of the records is NCDCs US historical station network (some 100 nice, rural stations). NCDC is working on a global historical station network. Watch for it at your local data store. They have worked mostly on getting rid of stations that might have urban warming, stations that have had vegetation changes around them, and the stations that have been moved. Many stations were moved to airports in the 1940s and 1950s.

What Harvard Forest needs is a good bore ...... hole! They have a wonderful history of vegetation change. Wouldn't it be nice to have a borehole-temperature record for the site. Check the USGS archive of borehole records or go to www.geo.Isa.umich.edu/IHFC/climate

Borehole Climatology

By Louise Bodri and Vladimir Cermak. Elsevier 2007

CED reported on the emerging technology for extracting historical surface temperatures from holes drilled into the ground 10s of meters deep. That was in March of 1993. It is time for an update. If you have a big bucks book budget, Elsevier offers Borehole Climatology by Louise Bodri and Vladimir Cermak. Great books like Borehole Climatology by Bodri and Cermak are built on a solid foundation. Scientists of the Czech Republic have done much of the heavy lifting to build the borehole technology and the establishment of the international network that is very much alive and moving this science forward. In the long history of the region as tropical forest with a mean surface temperature of 23 C followed by deforestation and settlement with a mean surface temperature of 26.5 C Luquillo (LUQ) followed this same pattern.

Cuba and the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean Sea region shows a warming of 0.5 C for the period 1500 A.D. –2000 A.D. and a 50 year sampling interval. The 20th Century temperature change was 1 C/100 yrs. The higher surface temperature rate reflects

“the systematic clearing of the original tropical forest and consequent exposure of the land to intense solar radiation that increased the surface temperatures by several degrees of Celsius tracing thus the advancement of colonization of the island during the last century.”

Mann shows up for a hockey game. What is the big deal with the hockey game. Well it is not so much the game but rather the stick used to bat the puck around. Mann’s temperature curve is shaped like a hockey stick: little or no change from 1500 A.D. to 1900 A.D. (the long stick) and an abrupt rise there after (the blade).

Huang’s borehole curve shows a systematic warming from 1500 A.D. to 2000 A.D. The upward trend begins well before the onset of the industrial revolution.

If you got the big bucks book budget Elsevier offers copies of Borehole Climatology. For readers not keepers, most fine university libraries will have it on the shelves or it can be recalled!

Question: Is there a borehole temperature reconstruction near me?

Here is the web address to get you to where you need to go:



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