News From Vostok Ice Cores

Image: Bastardi, – Science and reality point away, not toward, CO2 as climate driver

“General CO2-lag in ice-core records and the lack of warming over the last 8000 years of extraordinary increase in CO2 show that the hypothesis of significant warming of the atmosphere by CO2 over the last century is absurd. Attribution of derivative effects (i.e. “climate change”) to CO2 is, therefore, ridiculous ..”

by Richard Taylor


Our current understanding climate was influenced profoundly by the publication (J.R. Petit, et al., 1999) of deuterium (2H) measurements from metre 8 to metre 3310 of the Vostok ice-core, indicating the temperature of the nearby atmosphere from 1800 to 421000 BC. Some authorities claim, and many believe, that unprecedented climate-change has begun in recent years which threatens the very existence of human-kind. The uppermost 7 m of the Vostok core might have provided a unique perspective on this frightening claim, but the available data ( have only a mean deuterium value of -438 ‰ for this recent portion, well below the highest value in the core of -414.8 ‰.

A Russian team, however, has been active establishing a chronology of deuterium from snow-cores and -pits near the Vostok station (A.A. Ekaykin, et al., 2014). A summary ( with digital data became available in May, 2017. The data include annual measurements from 1654 to 2010, providing an overlap with the ice-core record that enables an assessment of present conditions from the perspective of ice-core record.

Comparison of ice-core and snow-core/pit records

The following graph shows the deuterium fractions of the Vostok ice-core sections dated 1669, 1692, 1716, 1737, 1760, 1780 and 1801. These correspond to the years 1658 through 1811 of the snow-core/pit record. Ice-core deuterium appears to be a little higher than snow deuterium, and the average for the 7 ice-core sections is 2.92 ‰ greater than the average for the 155 corresponding years of compiled snow samples.


The deuterium scale on graphs in this note is annotated in 9 ‰ intervals, as 9 ‰ / ⁰C is the basic deuterium/temperature conversion factor for the Vostok core quoted by Petit (ibid.).

Present Values in Perspective

Each core-section in the overlap interval spans 20 to 23 years, and their deuterium values show much less variability than the annual values of snow. For comparability in the following graph, the snow values were averaged into 20-year groups, with the exception of the earliest (1654 to 1680) 26-year group. Each average was adjusted upward by 2.92 ‰ as suggested by the overlap comparison.


The chart shows Vostok ice-core deuterium, along with the adjusted snow-averages, for a detailed indication of temperature from -140000 (140000 BC) to 2000. Features in the chart are the cold end of a glaciation (-139000), warming to the second-highest thermal peak in the Vostok record (-416.3 ‰ at -127374), episodic but general cooling into glaciation with the lowest value in the record of -488.3 ‰ at -22413, warming through the Younger Dryas reversal (-11000) to the Holocene Optimum (-9200), then modest but variable cooling to the present.

Carbon-dioxide (CO2) measurements from air-inclusions in the cores from the Vostok (Petit, ibid.), Taylor Dome (A. Indermühle, et al., 1999) and Law Dome (D.M. Etheridge, et al. 1996) ice cores as well as from surface air at the South Pole (C.D. Keeling, et al., 2001) provide a record of CO2 in regional air from -412000 to 2000. The chart shows the portion from -140000.

To the year -6000, changes in CO2 lag proportional changes in deuterium. The lag tends to be shortest at lower values of deuterium and CO2 and longest after thermal peaks. For example, the chart shows that the decline in CO2 from -117000 to -104000 follows a proportional decline in deuterium that occurred about 9000 years earlier. Modern climate-science contends that CO2 is a powerful greenhouse gas that controls atmospheric temperature. Since cause must precede effect, lag shows that CO2 above the minimum level of 180 ppm in the Vostok record has no significant effect on temperature.

From -6000 on, CO2 began to rise to concentrations far beyond any seen previously in the ice-core record. The lack of any corresponding rise in deuterium over the last 8000 years indicates, again, the lack of effect that CO2 has on atmospheric temperature.

Snow at Vostok from 1990-2010 has an adjusted deuterium value of -433.7 ‰. This is 18.9 ‰ below the highest value that is for a core section representing 219 years. It is 54.6 ‰ above the lowest value that is for a core section representing 91 years. Thus, from the Vostok perspective, our present climate is about 2 ⁰C below the warmest of the last 420000 years, and about 6 ⁰C above the coldest.


General CO2-lag in ice-core records and the lack of warming over the last 8000 years of extraordinary increase in CO2 show that the hypothesis of significant warming of the atmosphere by CO2 over the last century is absurd. Attribution of derivative effects (i.e. “climate change”) to CO2 is, therefore, ridiculous. These fictions, the dire prophecies that attend them and the disparagement of those that question them, however, are vigorously promoted and widely accepted. They seem to be as important socially as they are false scientifically.

While recent snow at Vostok adds to the falsification of the hypothesis of “dangerous man-made climate change by carbon-dioxidea powerful heat-trapping greenhouse-gas”, such falsification was evident in the ice-core data published in 1999 and has always been logically obvious to anyone with an understanding of the carbon cycle at the surface of the earth.

For distraction from abuse by the saviors of planets, polar bears, putative grandchildren, etc., those of us with some affection for natural science might consider what news from Vostok (or Dome Fuji or Dome C) would indicate that climate might be trending beyond the limits of the last 400000 years. Speaking personally, I would be surprised to see a 20-year average of 2H or 18O in precipitation beyond the range of the ice-core record.


Ekaykin, A.A.; Kozachek, A.V.; Lipenkov, V.Ya.; Shibaev, Yu.A. 2014. Multiple climate shifts in the Southern Hemisphere over the past three centuries based on central Antarctic snow pits and core studies. Annals of Glaciology, 55(66), 259-266. doi: 10.3189/201AoG66A189

Etheridge, D.M., L.P. Steele, R.L. Langenfelds, R.J. Francey, J-M. Barnola, and V.I. Morgan. 1996. Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn. Journal of Geophysical Research 101:4115-4128.

Indermühle, A., T.F. Stocker, F. Joos, H. Fischer, H.J. Smith, M. Wahlen, B. Deck, D. Mastroianni, J. Tschumi, T. Blunier, R. Meyer, B. Stauffer. 1999. Holocene carbon-cycle dynamics based on CO2 trapped in ice at Taylor Dome, Antarctica. Nature 398:121-126.

Keeling, C.S., S. C. Piper, R. B. Bacastow, M. Wahlen, T. P. Whorf, M. Heimann, and H. A. Meijer, Exchanges of atmospheric CO2 and 13CO2 with the terrestrial biosphere and oceans from 1978 to 2000. I. Global aspects, SIO Reference Series, No. 01-06, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, 88 pages, 2001.

Petit, J.R., J. Jouzel, D. Raynaud, N.I. Barkov, J.M. Barnola, I. Basile, M. Bender, J. Chappellaz, J. Davis, G. Delaygue, M. Delmotte, V.M. Kotlyakov, M. Legrand, V. Lipenkov, C. Lorius, L. Pépin, C. Ritz, E. Saltzman, and M. Stievenard. 1999. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok Ice Core, Antarctica. Nature 399:429-436.



James Moodey: CO2 doesn’t rise up, trap and retain heat

Global warming advocates claim that CO2 rises up in the atmosphere and traps and retains heat. It does the opposite of both claims. My career of using the physics of gas measurement to solve real-world problems at our factories makes it easy for me to see through this junk science.

Limits of 40 ppm (parts per million) of copper in our drinking water have evolved to limit our factories to about 15 pp billion in their effluent to the sewer. Factories must capture rainwater off their parking lots and clean it before they send it to the sewer. Factories cannot dump drinking water into a storm drain without de-chlorinating it.

Junk science regulations have been overwhelming but when the SCAQMD implemented the nation’s first cap-and-trade rule in the L.A. basin in 1994, our factories began to close. About 1,200 of the 1,800 factories in the L.A. basin closed by 2007 when I retired and stopped estimating. The purpose of the rule was to reduce NOX molecules in the exhaust of natural gas by about 70 percent. Our local cap-and-trade rule has run its course but the national cap-and-trade rule sits at the EPA. This potential rule requires an 83 percent reduction of the other ingredient in natural gas: carbon dioxide.

Proponents point to scientist John Tyndall for postulating what we now call global warming in his 1861 paper published in “Philosophical Transactions.” Tyndall’s experiments methodically measured with an electronic galvanometer, the relative heat absorption of various gases, gas vapors and even a few solids. He proved that they absorb heat in the order listed.

Generally, the larger the gas molecule (compound gases), the more heat they absorb with the most heat absorbed by olefiant gas (ethylene). Although he does not mention carbon dioxide, it might absorb about a third of that amount. He discovered that that these gases absorb less heat as their pressure rises, so he measured at extreme low pressures.

At one point, he generalizes that gas vapors, such as aqueous vapor, absorb roughly 13 times more than dry gases. Solids absorb even more heat. He notes that gases cool in proportion to the absorption with large molecule gases taking longer to cool. Tyndall leaps a bit with this concept when he hypothesizes the affect on our atmosphere by stating, “to account for different amounts of heat being preserved to the earth at different times” – which we attribute to global warming.

There is no doubt the affect he mentions exists, but nowhere in John Tyndall’s paper does he add the element of time. Yes, some gases absorb heat, but for how long?

Gas measurement engineers, who must be correct or buildings can burn, use four aspects of physics to measure gases: Pressure (Boyles Law), Temperature (Charles Law), Super-compressibility and Specific Gravity. Charles Law and Specific Gravity should be at the center of any analysis of Global Warming.

Charles Law precisely quantifies the volume expansion of gas when heated at each degree of temperature. Likewise, as gas cools its volume shrinks precisely the same. Our modern instruments measure instantaneous changes in volume and temperature. This does the same as John Tyndall’s instrument, except we can measure a slight change in volume with each degree of temperature. By my experience with this, I estimate that gases lose the absorbed temperature very rapidly when the heat source is removed.

Specific gravity is the weight of a gas compared with air. Carbon Dioxide has a specific gravity of 1.52. It is about one and a half times heavier than air. It is the same weight as propane and anyone who uses propane knows it to be very heavy. Carbon dioxide sinks into our storm drains and into the ground like a puddle of water.

Does carbon dioxide trap and retain heat? No, although it cools more slowly than some other gases, it absorbs some amount of heat and quickly cools the same amount when the heat source is removed. Does it rise up in the atmosphere? No, it does the opposite.

The affect of carbon dioxide on the temperature of our atmosphere is fleeting and inconsequential. Note that during our most dramatic industrial growth from 1950 to 1980, our atmosphere cooled.

When our factories closed here in the L.A. basin, they were not outsourcing jobs to China. Chinese buyers bought our factories’ machinery and shipped it to China. Now we buy those goods and the Chinese ship them to us through the Port of L.A.

Cap and trade is not a “cap.” It is a forced reduction of production by reducing the amount of natural gas that factories burn. A national cap-and-trade rule, with a reduction of 83 percent, would devastate our remaining factories. It is not the amount we pay factory workers that is important, it is the millions of hammers, shirts and vaccines that a small number of factory workers produce that adds to the wealth of a nation.

Consider the wealth created in Japan by their manufacture of televisions and automobiles. It happened quickly.



Press Release: The oldest ice core – Finding a 1.5 million-year record of Earth’s climate

05 November 2013

Potential oldest ice study areas

How far into the past can ice-core records go? Scientists have now identified regions in Antarctica they say could store information about Earth’s climate and greenhouse gases extending as far back as 1.5 million years, almost twice as old as the oldest ice core drilled to date. The results are published today in Climate of the Past, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

By studying the past climate, scientists can understand better how temperature responds to changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere. This, in turn, allows them to make better predictions about how climate will change in the future.

“Ice cores contain little air bubbles and, thus, represent the only direct archive of the composition of the past atmosphere,” says Hubertus Fischer, an experimental climate physics professor at the University of Bern in Switzerland and lead author of the study. A 3.2-km-long ice core drilled almost a decade ago at Dome Concordia (Dome C) in Antarctica revealed 800,000 years of climate history, showing that greenhouse gases and temperature have mostly moved in lockstep. Now, an international team of scientists wants to know what happened before that.

At the root of their quest is a climate transition that marine-sediment studies reveal happened some 1.2 million years to 900,000 years ago. “The Mid Pleistocene Transition is a most important and enigmatic time interval in the more recent climate history of our planet,” says Fischer. The Earth’s climate naturally varies between times of warming and periods of extreme cooling (ice ages) over thousands of years. Before the transition, the period of variation was about 41 thousand years while afterwards it became 100 thousand years. “The reason for this change is not known.”

Climate scientists suspect greenhouse gases played a role in forcing this transition, but they need to drill into the ice to confirm their suspicions. “The information on greenhouse-gas concentrations at that time can only be gained from an Antarctic ice core covering the last 1.5 million years. Such an ice core does not exist yet, but ice of that age should be in principle hidden in the Antarctic ice sheet.”

As snow falls and settles on the surface of an ice sheet, it is compacted by the weight of new snow falling on top of it and is transformed into solid glacier ice over thousands of years. The weight of the upper layers of the ice sheet causes the deep ice to spread, causing the annual ice layers to become thinner and thinner with depth. This produces very old ice at depths close to the bedrock.

However, drilling deeper to collect a longer ice core does not necessarily mean finding a core that extends further into the past. “If the ice thickness is too high the old ice at the bottom is getting so warm by geothermal heating that it is melted away,” Fischer explains. “This is what happens at Dome C and limits its age to 800,000 years.”

To complicate matters further, horizontal movements of the ice above the bedrock can disturb the bottommost ice, causing its annual layers to mix up.

“To constrain the possible locations where such 1.5 million-year old – and in terms of its layering undisturbed – ice could be found in Antarctica, we compiled the available data on climate and ice conditions in the Antarctic and used a simple ice and heat flow model to locate larger areas where such old ice may exist,” explains co-author Eric Wolff of the British Antarctic Survey, now at the University of Cambridge.

The team concluded that 1.5 million-year old ice should still exist at the bottom of East Antarctica in regions close to the major Domes, the highest points on the ice sheet, and near the South Pole, as described in the new Climate of the Past study. These results confirm those of another study, also recently published in Climate of the Past.

Crucially, they also found that an ice core extending that far into the past should be between 2.4 and 3-km long, shorter than the 800,000-year-old core drilled in the previous expedition.

The next step is to survey the identified drill sites to measure the ice thickness and temperature at the bottom of the ice sheet before selecting a final drill location.

“A deep drilling project in Antarctica could commence within the next 3–5 years,” Fischer states. “This time would also be needed to plan the drilling logistically and create the funding for such an exciting large-scale international research project, which would cost around 50 million euros.”

More information

This research is presented in the paper ‘Where to find 1.5 million yr old ice for the IPICS “Oldest Ice” ice core’ published in the EGU open access journal Climate of the Past on 05 November 2013. Please mention the publication if reporting on this story and, if reporting online, include a link to the paper or to the journal website.

Full citation: Fischer, H. et al.: Where to find 1.5 million yr old ice for the IPICS ‘Oldest-Ice’ ice core, Clim. Past, 9, 2489-2505, doi:10.5194/cp-9-2489-2013, 2013.

The other study mentioned in the release is by Van Liefferinge, B. and Pattyn, F.: Using ice-flow models to evaluate potential sites of million year-old ice in Antarctica, Clim. Past., 9, 2335–2345, 2013.

The team is composed of H. Fischer (University of Bern [Bern], Switzerland), J. Severinghaus (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, USA), E. Brook (Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA), E. Wolff (British Antarctic Survey [BAS], Cambridge, UK, now at the University of Cambridge), M. Albert (Dartmouth University, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA), O. Alemany (Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement [LGGE], St Martin d’Hères), R. Arthern (BAS), C. Bentley (University of Wisconsin Madison, USA), D. Blankenship (Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas at Austin, USA), J. Chappellaz (LGGE), T. Creyts (Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, USA), D. Dahl-Jensen (Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), M. Dinn (BAS), M. Frezzotti (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Rome, Italy), S. Fujita (National Institute of Polar Research [NIPR], Tokyo, Japan), H. Gallee (LGGE), R. Hindmarsh (BAS), D. Hudspeth (Australian Antarctic Division [AAD], Hobart, Tasmania, Australia), G. Jugie (Institut Polaire Français Paul-Emile Victor, Plouzané, France), K. Kawamura (NIPR), V. Lipenkov (Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia), H. Miller (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research [AWI], Bremerhaven, Germany), R. Mulvaney (BAS), F. Pattyn (Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium), C. Ritz (LGGE), J. Schwander (Bern), D. Steinhage (AWI), T. van Ommen (AAD) and F. Wilhelms (AWI).

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is Europe’s premier geosciences union, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the Earth, planetary, and space sciences for the benefit of humanity, worldwide. It is a non-profit interdisciplinary learned association of scientists founded in 2002. The EGU has a current portfolio of 15 diverse scientific journals, which use an innovative open access format, and organises a number of topical meetings, and education and outreach activities. Its annual General Assembly is the largest and most prominent European geosciences event, attracting over 10,000 scientists from all over the world. The meeting’s sessions cover a wide range of topics, including volcanology, planetary exploration, the Earth’s internal structure and atmosphere, climate, energy, and resources. The 2014 EGUGeneral Assembly is taking place is Vienna, Austria from 27 April to 2 May 2014. For information regarding the press centre at the meeting and media registration, please check closer to the time of the conference.

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