2011-03-29 20:30:30Ellestad, NIPCC, co2science, Singer, Idso and journalism


Prof. in chemistry Ole Henrik Ellestad in Norway has on norwegian television (late 2010)  been claiming that the Arctic was warmer in the 30-ties and that there was less ice in the arctic at this time (none whitch actual competence on the issues discussed where invited on the debate by the way - the debate was on a new book from a politician, which had som pretty stupid comments on climate science - oregon report and all that).

This has caused an ongoing and heated debate at forskning.no (forskning = research), with chronicles from two separate research groups, where they have asked Ellestad to document his claims. This in turn has resulted in a couple of new articles and counter articles. One of the research groups (Rasmus Benestad migh be familiar from RC) asked for more critical journalism to investigate the claims Ellestad has promoted.

I have on basis of this sendt a letter to national tv (NRK) in norway to look into this issue (a special program for investigating journalism) - the initial note from me was very short, so they said a couple of days ago that they would probably not look into this. I sent them a complaint regarding this and said that the claims Ellestad has been writing about in newspapers and stating on national tv is ludicrous, and that this can be documented, and of course that this is an important issue.

NRK has now asked for more documentation which I will provide of course.

The view Ellestad has promoted is

- Medieval times had much higher temperature than today

- Arctic was warmer in the 30-ties

- There was less sea ice in the 30-ties than now.

The statements has been followed up whith documentation based on the NIPCC-report with literaly thousands of reports which shows a warmer mwp than today according to Ellestad.

Of course the NIPCC-report is written by Idso and Singer with little scientific background on the issue, and the NIPCC-report points to the ludicrous  site co2science provided by the Idso family, where the most that is written about science and mwp especially is twisted and "forged" to conclude with something completly different than what the original report had observed.

Well, I have a fairly good idea what to send over to NRK of documentation regarding NIPCC, Idso, co2science, but if you have any comments I'll be happy hear your thoughts on this issue.

2011-03-29 20:43:01
Rob Painting

Oslo, I went over the MWP studies at CO2 science a few years back. They don't state what the Idso's say they do. Some, for instance, are of the mid Holocene Climatic Optimum and the bulk have warm periods seperated by hundreds of years. Their so-called MWP is anywhere from 500 to 6000 years ago!. If you go over them you'll find pretty much what Mike Mann and co have; a regional warm period in parts of Europe, with staggered warming in other parts of the world, seperated by hundreds of years. Quite a bit different from today, where the whole globe is warming. 

2011-03-29 22:23:21
Ari Jokimäki


I took a peek to few CO2 science entries on MWP some time ago. I think there was some trickery involved with what is modern temperature, or when "modern" is. also, IIRC, one entry compared MWP maximum single peak to modern long term average temperatures. These are unsure recollections, though, so don't quote me on this.

2011-03-30 01:33:04


Thanks - I looked at several descriptions on multiple scientific papers presented at co2science, and looked on what the papers actually say (actually reading the paper is a good idea).

My understanding is that Ellestad have never even looked into these papers, but takes the claims from Singer and Idso at face value from the NIPCC-report.

What I will try to convince NRK to do is to first look at Ellestad claims, then check the background for each claim - first the NIPCC view, and of course look into what this report states - further look closer into the "thousands" of papers claiming a (global) MWP, and to check if these papers actually exists (which they don't - locally in north atlantic but not globally), perhaps even look into the co2science web site to check som individual papers.

If they do this, they will find out that Ellestads claims about mwp and those thousands of reports are just BS - well, I will see how it goes - I'll try and make a convincing argument for why they should look into this.

Ellestad is (was) a prominent person in Norway as head of the national research funding institution in Norway, so he's views are listened to, even if he has no qualifications on the issues he's debating.

2011-03-30 02:46:26


Hi Oslo, we did a review of co2science on loftslag.is (in icelandic - don´t know if google translate can help). Anyway, I´m in a hurry - but you might want to check these urls which we used for our article:




Hope this helps.


Hoski Bui

2011-03-30 03:19:39
Dana Nuccitelli

I addressed the co2science MWP claims during Prudent Path Week:

"The document spends several pages qualitatively discussing various temperature proxy data sets from various isolated geographic locations — one of the main pursuits of the Idsos' website co2science.org.  The only response this endeavor warrants is the suggestion that if the Idsos would like to attempt to use this data to demonstrate that the MWP was hotter than today, they should perform a quantitative assessment — combine these proxies into either a northern hemisphere or global data set, estimate the average temperature, and submit their results to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.  Over a dozen such millennial northern hemisphere reconstructions have been peer-reviewed, and all agree that current temperatures are hotter than during the MWP peak."

Bottom line, co2science and the NIPCC report aren't peer-reviewed.  There's a reason they haven't submitted it to peer-review: it would never pass!

2011-03-30 09:28:50


Thanks for your attention.

I've sent an update to NRK, and hope they will revise their position on this issue.

I pointed out that this was initiated by Rasmus (at RC), so hopefully this will have som credabillity - thanks for references Hoskibui and dana1981 - I've used them in my reference summary.

2011-03-30 23:11:56Thanks Hoskibui


I finally read your article Hoskibui - very good stuff.

Forwarded the article to NRK via google translate.

Your article should be translated and posted at Sks.

2011-03-31 19:38:37


I'm tempted to try to translate the text- with no obligation to Sks. to post it if it is crap :)

I will let you know here when and if it is ready.

2011-04-08 03:10:21Great news


Just got a message from NRK today - they have now revised their position on the case, and they have assigned a journalist to follow up - which in turn might result in a program regarding this I guess.

Well, if any more information floats around regarding this, just post it here.

2011-04-08 03:57:28Arctic ice 1930s - some facts.


The suggestion that the Arctic had significant - never mind substantial - ice loss in the 1930s is entirely without historical foundation.


This map was compiled from data collected during the 1920s and 1930s and published in 1939.


Modern arctic Exploration by Gunnar Seidenfaden, 1939.
Trans. Naomi Walford.  Pub. Johnathan Cape 1939.

Apart from his many other visits to the Arctic, Gunnar Seidenfaden was the manager of Lauge Koch’s 1931-1934 East Greenland Expedition.


This next map, scanned from the 17th edition of Philips' Handy Volume Atlas of the World, 1930, shows the spring ice extent recorded up to 1929.

Phillips 1930

Philips' Handy Volume Atlas 1930 Arctic map


The first ever weather station on an ice floe was North Pole 1, set up May 21 1937 by a team of Russians and manned by four heroes.  The record of that event shows that there was more ice in 1937 than today, it was thicker, and it extended down the entire east coast of Greenland.

Arctic conditions at the time were so bad that no less than five icebreakers were involved in a chain of events when three of them got trapped in the ice.  The Malygin, Sedov and the Sadko - formerly SS Lintrose - became trapped in ice in a region near the New Siberian Islands.


The three ships became trapped in the summer of 1937.  Due to extreme conditions it was April 1938 before crews could be rescued.  It was August 28 1938 when two ships - the Malygin and Sadko - were freed from the ice by the icebreaker Yermak.

Source: my article -


2011-04-08 04:03:33images urls


The images don't show: here are the urls of the articles containing the maps.






Oslo: feel free to download those images and any others from my blog which might help you make your case.


Good luck!

2011-04-08 04:26:10
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Think you've the gist of a nice rebuttal there, Patrick!

Fixed your images.

2011-04-08 04:47:30


Great maps logicman - here is Ellestad orginal reply (google translation) to question from Prestrud regarding Ellestads tv performance, for those who find it interesting.

More of the public debate can be found at right hand side of the article.

(updated link to Prestrud)

2011-04-08 05:35:27


Oslo: - that is crank BS, not science. 


Arctic history is a major hobby of mine and I know for a fact that many people died from 1900 to about 1956 due to severe weather and ice conditions.  The claim that the Arctic was warmer in 1930s than now is completely bogus.  I have so much material on this that it is hard to know where to begin.  Here is another snippet from my book collection:


(On arrival at Disko in the 'open season')

"We learned that J. M. Wordie and Dr. Longstaff, in the sealer Heiman, had failed to penetrate the ice of Melville Bay in an attempt to reach the North Water."

August 1934 - Edward Shackleton, Arctic Journeys.


The North Water was formerly the top part of Baffin Bay that was accessible for 2 to 4 weeks in July - August.  In 1934 it was not accessible even to a small seal-catching ship.

Currently, the <i>whole</i> of Baffin Bay melts out <i>every year</i>!


I think we can easily and totally demolish every single point that this crank is making.  :-)

2011-04-08 06:46:56


Feel free to add more information logicman - I'll forward it to the journalist - if you can attach it to any claims in the article even better.

Ellestad did updated his position a bit in a later post - now claiming Arctic is just as warm now as in the 30-ties, to be correct.

I follow the neven site on a regular basis by the way - good progress on the new site :-) also read a few of your articles, but the maps where new to me.

2011-04-13 19:46:25


If and when the post is ready - where do I put it up for a review?

It will almost definately need some fixing before it can be posted on skeptical science.

2011-04-14 03:48:34Preview


Hi there - I finished making an english version of the post, see here: Medievel project - english version.

If you think it has a potential to make it as a Skeptical Science post - with some fixing, I would be honoured to post it there.

2011-04-14 04:16:29


I think it looks very useful in my opinion - good information on co2science has been hard to find, so it deserves a post!

I did a very quick read through, so I might add some more, but I have one immediate comment - you say:

- International definitions of the medievel warming is the period between 950-1250,

I think International definition is over stating it a bit - common practice perhaps?

2011-04-14 04:22:04


Keep them coming, I'm sure there are lots of problem with the post - will fix this quickly.

2011-04-14 04:33:23comments
Dana Nuccitelli

It's a good post, Hoskibui.  i think it would make a good re-post here too.  Here are the instructions how to add a blog post, and then just put a link it on the blog post forum for review.  Here are a few comments from me, mostly just due to the translation to English:

"Regularly you might hear skeptics  mentioning a website called CO2 Science and its Medievael Project." <= there are numerous misspellings of "Medieval"

I'm on the fence about mentioning the source of their funding.  I think you phrased it well, the only question is whether it distracts from the rest of the post.

"There is are a large number of sources and diagrams that show waming during the Medieval period, along with the websites owner Idsos' interpretations of those.  Its main conclusion is that current warming is not unprescedented since there was a lot of warming during that time at various sites."

"This is probably done  with the confidence that few of the readers will bother them self, or have the time or ability to scroll through the entire list of references to point to problems with the website's  interpretation of the studies."

"CO2Science has also been að useful resource for other skeptics,"

"This interactive map is useful in its purpose, that is to view the alledged global warming during the medieval period in graphical form. It has the feature that if you click on the images, then it shows a temperature reconstruction (or other proxy, see below).  There you you can also find sources for each graph, with abstracts (actually the abstracts sometimes tell a different story line than the documents"

"When I say healthy skepticism I am referring to those"

"So it is crucial that those maps are viewed with a critical mind, because  various tricks are used to deceive"

"Zhang et al 2003 - study from Tibet, by which it states in the abstract (emphasise are mine):"

"There is are some substantial problems við with CO2 Science and its sister site Skeptical Science Blog. Various tricks are used to confuse the reader, preferable  into accepting that the Medieval Warm Period was global and even warmer than the current warming."

2011-04-14 04:48:03


Thank you Dana, will fix this soon - my english is not that good (I'm better the other way around ;o). 

It looks like I don't have access to the blog post forum or the instructions.

2011-04-14 04:53:26


Maybe I should use MWP instead of Medieval Warm Period all over?

2011-04-14 05:09:11MWP
Dana Nuccitelli

Yes, that's an easy solution.  Just write "Medieval Warm Period (MWP)" the first time you use it, then you can just use "MWP" afterwards. 

I changed your user level from Translator to Full Author (is that right, John?), so I think you should have access to the blog forum now.

2011-04-14 05:45:34


Well I won't try to add a blog post till I hear from the master himself, i.e. John Cook :)

2011-04-14 08:31:20Green light :-)
John Cook


Please do, that Medieval map needs a response.

Annoys me no end that they called the site Skeptical Science too. Plagiarists! Trying to co-opt our title.

2011-04-14 16:53:28


Minor typos:

If you take graps from two separate location, you can see some difference. One graph shows a proxy for temperature in Greenland and the other one fore New Zealand:

graps > graphs

fore New Zealand > for


Excellent article!

2011-04-15 00:01:12


Thank you John and logicman. I'm busy now, but will try to add the blog post over the weekend and be free to point to errors - of judgement as well as typos :)

2011-04-16 03:46:54logicman


Do you have this report logicman?

Zubov, Naval Captain, Professor, Doctor of Geographical Sciences, 1963 (?)

Great information (500 pages) on Arctic conditions last century.

2011-04-16 09:26:09


oslo: I can't thank you enough for that link.  I have not been able to obtain that classic book anywhere.


I can now cite references for my writings on the dynamics and mechanical properties of ice. Also, the references to the use of ice breakers as drifting stations are invaluable.  As to the historic data on ice extent and thickness: this will keep me very busy! :)