The Caterpillar Effect: Now with second confirmation it must be rock solid science

[Note: This post reports confirmation that the theory I presented a while back on tectonic plate movement has been confirmed and is sound science. However, given the deafening silence I will make it sticky for a while.]

Back in 2015 when I first published the Caterpillar Theory on this blog (Overview), I was taking a gamble putting together almost “anecdotal” evidence from the shape of the ice-age curve and the simple physics of thermal expansion. I took a gamble and now it seems very clear I was right!!

The theory predicted two basic phenomenon:

  1. That during colder period of the ice-age cycle, the cooling earth would contract and mid-oceanic ridges would open up allowing magma to flow up and cause plate formation. Thus this plate formation would be modulated by the ice-age cycle
  2. That during the warming phase, heated crust would expand, and where plates met at subduction zones, one plate would be forced down. The lowest parts would be pushed down to a depth where they would thermally decompose, the volatile components like H2O, CO2, sulphur, etc. would be released, find their way to the surface and be released increasing the level of volcanic emissions.

The first prediction was confirmed almost as soon as I published in a paper by Maya Tolstoy (Link) the following graph is a redrawing of fig 3 and  shows a correlation between mid-ocean sea floor spreading and Temperature (where CO2 is a proxy for temperature).

Fig XX Bathymetric and ice-age cycle (CO2) data normalized to a aximum amplitude of 1, and superimposed

Fig XX Bathymetric and ice-age cycle (CO2) data normalized to a aximum amplitude of 1, and

Continue reading

Posted in Caterpillar, Ice age, My Best Articles | 12 Comments

The Caterpillar Effect on ice – pressure ridges and refrozen cracks

In a discussion with TinyCO2 I referred to the formation of pressure ridges and refrozen cracks which form as a result of the daily change in air temperature over the ice.

This is a direct analogy to the creation of subduction zones and mid-oceanic ridges in the Caterpillar theory. So, this is quick article to put together the information on the effect of daily (or for thicker ice perhaps longer) temperature changes on ice.

First let’s see a pressure ridge:

Ice Pressure Ridge

Ice Pressure Ridge

The main feature is that it is a jumble of ice running along a line in the middle of an otherwise flat piece of ice. And here is a simple diagram of one in cross section:

Pressure_ridge_(ice)_Formation_Drawing.svgAll you really need to know, is that the ice of either side is subject to huge pressure bringing them together. This can occur due to the pressure of wind in places like the Arctic ocean. But in large lakes the pressure results from the expansion of the ice which pressing on the shores has no where to go until eventually the ice fractures along a line causing some ice to be pushed down, and some up. The ice pushed down, adds to the buoyancy, until the join is pushed upwards, whereupon when the ice is next pushed together it is pushed up. That is until the weight pushed the join down. The result is a chaotic mess of ice (which is not the same as a rock subduction zone – where the rock is less buoyant and tends to melt).

However, whilst the ice expands at night (ice expands when cooling), and tends to increase the size of the pressure ridge, in the day it warms and contracts. As such cracks tend to open up as shown below.

Crack in the IceThe example shown above shows multiple ridges. These are probably from a daily temperature cycle, but it appears that the ice is generally contracting away from this crack. That may be due to a period of warmer weather. This probably illustrates the early phase of a pressure ridge. The thick ice contracts leaving open water that then freezes. But when the weather turns cooler, the ice expands, the crack closes, and because the ice in the crack is relatively thin, this is where it gives way. Repeated hot and cold weather would leave a jumble of ice at this spot. Eventually, there would be such a tangle, that when the ice contracts, it will tend to force open another crack. At this point there can be two types of crack: one when ice tends to come together in cold weather and form a ridge, and others where it tends to contract in warm weather forming open water which then freezes. If this happens it more or less matches the Caterpillar effect:

Caterpillar Theory

plate-Spreading2 Just a quick recap. The Caterpillar Effect is when over the much longer ice-age cycle the crust heats up and cools. During cooling, it contracts pulling apart at mid-oceanic ridges. However unlike the ice, magma is pushed up – like the ice it freezes. When the world then warms, the rock pushes against each other at subduction zones. Here one layer is pushed down under the other. But unlike ice, it melts (so does not create a jumble of rocks) giving rise to a line of volcanoes about 100km from the subduction trench. The other effect which is common to ice and crust, is that the movement is in a series of “creaks” – which in the crust are known as earthquakes.

But the general principle is the same. The pressure ridges form, because each night the ice creeps forward and each day (if cold enough) the gaps freeze. Likewise each ice-age cycle the rock pushes forward and then the mid-oceanic rock fills in the gap when it contracts.

For more see: The Caterpillar Effect: Now with second confirmation it must be rock solid science

Videos and other info

And here is a PhD: Growth, Structure, and Desalination of Refreezing Cracks in Sea Ice

Here is a video, in which you can hear the “icequakes” as the ice pushes against itself. There is a very regular creaking plus an occasional large “boom”. These correspond to what happens to the much thicker earth over an inter-glacial:

This one shows a crack which is just restarting to freeze

And this shows a number of cracks in various stages:

I couldn’t find any decent videos of pressure ridges on lake ice which would have been nice, but eventually I found this one on sea ice.


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The use of conspiracy theories to hide the truth

When Lewandowsky tried to attack climate sceptics as “moon landing conspiracists”, it opened my eyes to the possibility of using what he called “conspiracy ideationism” to attack groups and the possibility that it can be used to hide the truth.

The earliest evidence I know in which a conspiracy theory very conveniently appeared in such a way that anyone finding the truth could be dismissed as a conspiracy theorist was during the development of Spy planes.Lockheed_SR-71_Blackbird

And coincidentally as the number of supposed UFO sightings increased so did the number of government “studies”:

  • Project Blue Book USAF from (1947-1969)
  • Project Twinkle by U.S. Army/Air Force (1948–1951)
  • Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14 by USAF (1977)
  • Operação Prato (Operation Saucer) within its space agency Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) since 1977

And what have all these “studies” ever found? Nothing, but what have they produced? A perception in the minds of the public that UFOs might exist and that any unexplained light in the sky or plane sighting may have an explanation (other than being a plain boring military test). Of course, subterfuge and distraction were a hallmark of secret operations during WWII. Continue reading

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Reusing Batteries: canny Scots trick

The general rule of batteries like AA, AAA, C, D types, is that you should always replace old batteries with three NEW ones of EXACTLY the same type. The reason for this, is that if you use three batteries of different capacities, then the device usually stops working when the lowest capacity battery goes flat. But worse, the other batteries can then reverse the energy flow through the flat battery making it likely to leak and destroy whatever you have in it.

However, YOU CAN USE OLD BATTERIES. Any for anyone who has kids, who are constantly breaking things or deciding they’ve grown out of them, this can save a lot of money.

The trick, is to take the working batteries out (and you’ll need to have a cheap tester for this – because it’s worse than useless storing flat batteries), and to store them away at the front of the draw where you keep the other batteries in their own compartment (aka cardboard box) … and here’s the important part kept together with the ones they were used with, with a rubber band.

The last is important, because you then have a draw filled with various makes and types of batteries held together by a rubber band. And so long as you re-use them together (or for example, use one or two out of the three) then they are as safe as using new ones.

And being at the front of the drawer … when you just need a few odd batteries in a hurry … these are the ones you take.

But one thing to bear in mind, is that whilst re-used batteries are ideal for things like kitchen timers, more kids games … where running out is not a problem, they will not last as long – so no sticking such batteries into a GPS, going into the wilderness without any spare (or a compass) and expecting to get home.

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And Now there is News: NASA climate Gavin Schmidt RIP!

I just go and write “there’s no news today”, and then … Via Tony Heller who himself got it from Roger Tallbloke:

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said. (link)

Gavin Schmidt whose contribution was always in the shadow of his much more famous boss Hansen, will be remembered for work such as this:

nasasurfacetemp1981-1999-2014Although my fondest memory of Gavin was from a conference where he and similarly minded people presented this graph as “proof” of massive feedbacks in the climate:


He was such a hilarious man

(Retire in peace)

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There is no news today

Apart from the continual wailing and gnashing of teeth following Pruitt’s appointment to the EPA last week, there is no news.

Although … I now realise … that having reported the lack of news as news, that in itself is news.

Maybe the title should have been:

The only news today is that this is the only news?


Now I think about it “news” must be the plural of “New”, and I think of a noticeboard or a bit of a paper where “new” stories were posted. So “news” is all the things that are new. So “is there news” is short for “is there anything new today”. So, I’m inclining back to the view that there is no news today.

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Initial results of “Gradient test”

In the last article I asked people to undertake a quick test (see here) and thanks to all those who took part – it’s started to answer the very simple question: if a lot of people drew a line through some points how close would an average person place the line to that of a computer. But I’m leaving open the question of whether the computer line or human is “right” because its a difficult one.

A typical test was as follows:

TestZZThe graph consists of 51 points. The graph scales are -1 to 1 (x-axis) and 1.2 to 1.2 (y-axis).

The user was asked to select the best fit line to the points. One line was a best fit, the other lines had random offset added up to +/-0.25 and the gradient was increased by a random amount up to +/-0.25. Thus on average one end of the line would be around 0.25 from the best fit line. The standard deviation of points around the best fit line was about 0.3.

After 16 responses, the answers were checked. The results are as follows:

  • On average people selected the calculated best fit curve 48% of the time.
  • In 10 out of the 11 questions, the most frequently selected line was the best fit. (the odd one out was the first)
  • In those 10 questions where the best fit was most frequently chosen, the best fit on its own was selected 52% of the time, and the best fit and second most popular was selected 75% of the time.
  • There was a very marginal difference between those claiming to be engineers and scientists (average right of 6 and 5.6 respectively)
  • There was a very marginal difference between the lower education qualifications and highers (~0.8 more between school qualified and post graduate qualified)
Answers stacked according to relative frequency with most popular at bottom. This shows around 75% of respondents picked the most popular or second most popular choice.

Answers stacked according to relative frequency with most popular at bottom. This shows around 75% of respondents picked the most popular or second most popular choice. Note the most popular choice on the first was not the computer best fit line.


At this stage the differences between the nominal groups are insignificant. So, the significant finding is that in the test, people were not picking the computer’s “best fit” around 50% of the time. This does not mean they got it “wrong” – because people may use far more complex criteria than a simple computer.

But the result begs the question: how big a difference was there between the best fit and the next best?

I calculate the difference between the nearest gradient and nearest average offset to the best fit will be about 0.1 times the standard deviation. However, a line is unlikely to have both the closest gradient and offset. So another way to compare the lines is to use the “biggest deviation”, which will be the offset + gradient contribution at the worst end of the line (where offset and gradient both tend away from the best fit line).

By my calculations, the way I’ve set it up in the test, the nearest line should be about 0.2 x the standard deviation away from the best fit at its worst end.


The points are created as follows. Where rnd(a,b) is a random number between a and b.

  1. Y1 = rnd(0,1)
  2. Y2 = Y1^1.6 (with a random sign)
  3. Y3 = 0.7 * Y2
  4. Y4 = Y3 + rnd(-0.2,0.2) + rnd(-0.7,0.7) * X

The lines are drawn as follows:

  1. A random line matches the slope and average of the points
  2. All other lines have random offset and gradient of rnd(-.25,.25) and rnd(-.25,.25) *x


  1. The combined worst end standard deviation along the line from -1 to 1, will be twice the average standard deviation (0.125) = 0.25.
  2. If  we assume the lines are evenly spaced, (by my estimation) the closest line should have a maximum offset about 0.25/4
  3. If the point standard deviation is 0.3, the the average end of line difference is (0.25/4)/0.3 = 0.2


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What’s the gradient (Fun test)

The graph shows 51 points shown in black and five lines which more or less “fit” the points. Please select the line which best fits the points and click the appropriate letter. (Correct answers will be shown at end)

1. Test0


2. Test1


3. Test2


4. Test3


5. Test4


6. Test5


7. Test6


8. Test7


9. Test8


10. Test9


11. Test10


12. For interest, may I ask: “Would you describe yourself more as an Engineer (practical) or a Scientist (Academic)”

[You do not need to answer. Click “show answer”, to continue although obviously there’s no right answer]


13. What’s your Highest level of Science or Engineering qualification

[Again please click show answer]


Question 1 of 13

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The push back begins

House Republicans demand climate documents from state attorneys general — again

For years, the Glassy-Eyed Cult (GECs) have been able to use their huge power in the US, backed by the huge FAKE news press, to assault and silence any scientifically sceptical people. Politicians cowered under the threat of being picked out as “deniers” or being called “anti-science” by the media. The GECs could more or less get “scientific” papers & data made to order to “prove” whatever they wanted.

And they had many a lackey prosecutor, politician, “scientist”, journalist at their beck and call to viciously attack any who dared to stand up against them.

Well, now the tables have literally turned. The EPA is being run by Scott Pruit, someone who has been in litigation with the GEC in that organisation and today those pursuing a witch hunt against Exxon are themselves being investigated. And unlike Obama who encouraged their law breaking and had no intention of enforcing any congressional subpoena, Trump will enact the law.

Likewise, not only is the house oversight committee for NOAA insisting they also comply with their subpoena under threat of legal action from Trump, but there is another separate external about to happen.

And as for NASA – they are all over the news as “defiantly standing up to Trump”, which is a clear indication they’ve given up all hope of any future under this administration.

Is that what was really going on?

For me, what I’m really looking forward to is the moment where we get someone who has really looked at the data in a dispassionate way – or simply lays the actual raw unadulterated data out for all to see and we start to see what the climate has really been doing. It will certainly be less “alarmist” than that currently shown, the childish added trends will certainly disappear. But underneath there still ought to be some real changes occurring.

So whilst I’m absolutely certain most of the GEC bottles will be knocked off the wall, I’m looking forward to that moment when I think: “Oh that one really was true – how interesting”.

Not long to go now!

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Twitter reaction to Pruit, Happer, #NOAAgate, etc.

I went to twitter to gauge the reaction of the snowflakes to Scott Pruit’s confirmation to run the EPA is just beginning to hit twitter …

but this news is only adding to the hoard of tweets about Happer Trump’s chief scientist:

With a fair dolloping of tweets about NASA going down defiantly:

And as expected we’re starting to get some over the top head exploding tweets:

And NOAAgate is still rumbling on in the discussions:

So is the (non) story about copying data:

There’s news of a directive:

All in all, it’s not a bad time for us Sceptics

The mood is summed up by this tweet:

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Congress May Shift Climate Research Away from NASA

According to “Scientific” American, (which I hear is gunning for Trump and continually pushes global warming pseudo-science):

Lawmakers are remaking NASA in order to leave parts of the agency’s earth science program untouched but remove its climate change research

Exactly how they come to this statement is unclear, because I watched the congressional hearing on NASA myself and although there was a clear consensus to focus effort on going to the Moon and/or Mars there was almost nothing said about its propaganda work on climate.

Like me  “Scientific” American are left guessing and can only refer to what was said at the hearing:

At a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing yesterday, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said he wants a “rebalancing” of NASA’s mission. The lawmaker told E&E News he wants the agency to reprioritize its mission because the Obama administration cut space exploration funds.

Specifically, that could mean NASA’s work on climate change would go to another agency, with or without funding, or possibly would get cut. Smith and other Republicans avoided laying out specifics but acknowledged that earth science at NASA would likely face some significant changes in the near future.

“By rebalancing, I’d like for more funds to go into space exploration; we’re not going to zero out earth sciences,” he said. “Our weather satellites have been an immense help, for example, and that’s from NASA, but I’d like for us to remember what our priorities are, and there are another dozen agencies that study earth science and climate change, and they can continue to do that. Meanwhile, we only have one agency that engages in space exploration, and they need every dollar they can muster for space exploration.”

My guess, given the previous appalling behaviour of Hansen and Gavin Schmidt in NASA; the way they seem to have personally led the charge against various republicans and scientists who now have a direct line to Trump; the ongoing atrocious adjustments, and the way Gavin Schmidt is making no attempt to reign in the comments on Twitter, Gavin seems to already know NASA climate is for the chop.

Likewise, I think NOAA are going to have its wings clipped and a few encouraged to use their talents elsewhere.

However, unless there is some plan for a dramatic re-organisation and the creation of some new credible organisation for global climate data, a likely home for NASA’s old work is NOAA. But also quite possible is that NASA’s old climate work is outsourced to some university or private institute which would do the work on a contract basis.

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