“… citing papers that were either poorly understood or perhaps not even read by the author citing them….
“… our recollection of vital details about a paper read at an earlier time is probably less than optimal. In addition, secondary sources may inadvertently slant or distort important details of others’ work, particularly if the material in question is of a controversial nature. Taken together, these factors can ultimately result in the dissemination of faulty information.”
I’m a non-scientist who loves reading your website because it is a good place to find unvarnished facts and peer-reviewed analysis.
Recently one of your commenters linked to a graphic showing a scaled drawing of the earth and a ball of water next to it. The ball was a representation of the relative volume of all the water on earth.
For someone like me it would be nice to have a similar graphic showing the relative volume of earth’s atmosphere next to the earth. I imagine that such a graphic would make it easier to appreciate how adding CO2 — the massive amount of CO2 accumulated in biomass and stored underground over the aeons — to the atmosphere could have a global warming effect. Such a graph could be forwarded to friends who say they don’t believe in global warming.
I recommend that you use more graphics of that sort as communication tools. The findings of climate scientists are not easily understood by many in the general public, and these days their sources of information are badly tainted by power politics.
That was a cool graphic of the water, but here’s what I see as an issue with doing that exact same thing with the atmosphere… the volume is enormous! The radius of Earth is about 6,300 km, but the atmosphere extends 10,000 km above us. The reason is that density decreases, gases are compressible while liquids are not. So this makes the volume of the atmosphere dramatically larger than the volume of Earth (sans its atmophere). The International Space Station actually flies inside our atmosphere and it experiences atmospheric drag which disturbs its flight path. A better representation might be the mass of the atmosphere… I’m not sure.
The density drops off so fast that if you jump out of a ballon (with a parachute of course) from 100,000′ (just 30 km) you wouldn’t notice any wind as you fall back to Earth. So while the volume of the atmosphere is enormous, the vast majority of gas molecules are much closer to the surface.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 1 Jun 2012 @ 12:12 PM
Political action on climate change and other environmental issues is heating up. A number of ENGOs are fighting back against the Conservative government wholesale weakening of environmental regulation and intimidation of ENGOs, as embodied in the recent budget. On June 4, a number of leading ENGO websites will “go dark” in protest, including Suzuki and Pembina.
Nevertheless, this investigation reveals that the oil and gas industry funding plays a much bigger role in the Fraser Institute’s budget than previously realized. Previously unreported cumulative funding from Encana stands at about $1 million; founding CEO Gwyn Morgan gave an additional $1 million, for a total of $2 million. Other important donors have included the Koch brothers ($523,000) and Exxon-Mobil ($120,000), along with significant but unreported regular donations by an unidentified Canadian Koch subsidiary and Exxon-Mobil subsidiary Imperial Oil. There is also circumstantial evidence pointing to support by Keystone XL proponent TransCanada and oil sands operator Canadian Natural Resources. Meanwhile, Pembina has transparently reported support from Suncor (and formerly TransCanada).
… Gwyn Morgan is the now retired founding CEO of Encana, and was a key fundraiser and supporter of Stephen Harper’s successful Conservative Party leadership bid.
How about just the volume of the troposphere? Which, as I understand it, is where the CO2 and other GHG’s reside and where weather and climate occur? People tend to look up at the sky and imagine this atmosphere is endlessly high, impossible for man-made GHG’s to have any impact. But lay the height of the troposhere (~10-20 miles?) down horizontally, and I can easily view those distances in the valley of Salt Lake City from even a modest foothill elevation. I’ve done this with family and friends and they seem to be surprised at how “thin” the troposphere is where weather occurs.
> graphic showing the relative volume of earth’s
> atmosphere next to the earth.
> I imagine that such a graphic would make it easier
> to appreciate how adding CO2 — the massive amount of CO2 …
The ‘massive amount’ isn’t the problem for CO2 and climate change; CO2 will remain a trace gas — an important one that controls temperature — after burning any methane, oil, tar, and coal. Most of the carbon on Earth is locked up geologically, e.g. in limestone.
Alley’s video does make it much easier to appreciate how adding CO2 to the atmosphere affects climate.
PowerPoint slides: meteo.psu.edu/~nese/Alley_Paleo.ppt
Now Jeremy Shakun and coworkers have put together a temperature record of unprecedented global scope and temporal resolution for the most recent deglaciation, which began about 20 kyr ago and leveled off 10 kyr later to initiate the present “interglacial” Holocene Epoch. They report that the newly constructed global record shows global mean temperature, unlike local Antarctic temperature, clearly trailing CO2 increase during most of the last deglaciation.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 1 Jun 2012 @ 6:46 PM
“… Human burning of fossil fuels can release as much CO2 in centuries as do LIPs over [a time span in the range ten thousand to a hundred thousand years] or longer.
Although burning fossil fuels to exhaustion over the next several centuries may not suffice to trigger hothouse conditions, such combustion will probably stimulate enough polar ice melting to tip Earth into a greenhouse climate. Long atmospheric CO2 residence times will maintain that state for tens of thousands of years.”
Yeah, I mean you could take the number of atoms and calculate a volume at STP. But I think what matters is what we’re trying to illustrate. What made the water image so compelling to me was that I am used to seeing the Blue Planet covered in water. The image of the globe we are all familiar with shows more water than land, and the oceans are unimaginably deep when you’re swimming or sailing in the them. With modern travel and access to information, we have an intuitive feel for the size of the planet, and that includes are much larger sense of the available water. When you see globe dry like that, and still huge, with a tiny ball of water it relates to our experience pouring large volumes of water into another container. We don’t really manipulate gases in the same everyday fashion of manipulating volumes of water in our drinks, bath tubs, sinks, swimming pools, etc. Well thought out graphics are powerful, and that was a good one. I’m not sure a volumetric display makes sense in this case.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 1 Jun 2012 @ 8:55 PM
I used to tell my astronomy classes that if you compressed the entire atmosphere to sea-level pressure it would be about 8 km thick. You could compare the thickness of the atmosphere to the varnish on a 2-ft diameter desk globe.
Interactions between Semiconducting Minerals and Bacteria under Light
“… a unique ecosystem that potentially carries out phototrophic metabolism without the involvement of phototrophic organisms. Four key natural elements of this system are sunlight, semiconducting minerals, nonphototrophic bacteria, and water. This pathway also suggests a “self-cleansing” mechanism that may exist in nature, whereby both oxidative and reductive degradation of contaminants can occur.”
Graphs such as described are interesting for scientists,
but can easily be misused in propaganda for particular points of
view and out-of-context presentations. Comparative images evoke instinctive and simplistic conclusions.
Ethical scientists stick to the facts in the hope that reason will
prevail – the end does not justify the means.
Phytoplankton productivity and its response to higher light levels in the Canada Basin
“… the most plausible reason for the large difference in carbon productivity between this and the previous studies was strong seasonal variation in biomass and photosynthetic rate of the phytoplankton in the study region. Based on our results from light enhancement and nitrate enrichment experiments, we found that carbon productivity of phytoplankton in the chlorophyll a maximum layer could be stimulated by increased light condition rather than nitrate addition. Thus, potentially increasing light availability from current and ongoing decreases in the sea ice cover could increase the carbon production of the phytoplankton in the chlorophyll a maximum layer and produce a well-developed maximum layer at a deeper depth in the Canada Basin.”
If light levels in spring along the edge of the melting seasonal ice — rather than nutrients — is an important constraint on photosynthesis, what happens if we reduce the light level by making the sky white?
This may be another complication for the white-sky-geoengineering people.
fredjjjj, what? Making these graphics is unethical? I completely disagree and even disagree with your reasoning too. My point above was that the instinctual (I used intuitive) conclusion was counter to what the image of the water presented. And I do a lot of reading about our available fresh water, its usage and concerns. The ends here was just a nice illustration to make the point of how little water we actually have. What exactly was unethical about being presented with yet another way to perceive the limited water supply on Earth? I just don’t understand that thinking at all.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 2 Jun 2012 @ 12:43 PM
For those interested, I am starting up a new blog to discuss some of the more technical elements of climate, including the governing dynamics of atmospheres. My goal is to provide a level of discussion close to what tamino or Isaac Held are providing, so comments will be moderated but topics will range from the evolution of atmospheres to paleoclimate to extrasolar habitability. Much of the opening material will highlight a lot of “textbook” stuff and I hope to have a post once a week or so. I hope people will get use out of it!
“… Does this model ever generate bifurcations — abrupt changes in climate at particular values of a parameter? See, in this regard, the new paper by Wang, Gerber, and Polvani (They modify the model described here in a couple of ways, by changing the radiative equilibrium temperatures and by adding some idealized topography, both designed to create a more plausible stratospheric circulation.) They present evidence for an abrupt change as they warm the upper troposphere of the model.”
Further to s.b. ripman and ignoring the Tone Patrol, if we consider that ~99% of the atmosphere is confined to the lower 30km and ignore how a sphere of atmosphere of mass equal to that portion would actually behave if it could be divorced from its planet, the rough proportionate comparison of the solid Earth and the atmosphere should look something like this.
That sphere of air is superimposed in front of the Earth so given the discrepancy in radius (~4:1) presumably the air sphere would appear a mite smaller if the two were presented side-by-side and bisected by the same plane. There are other problems w/the presentation such as that it does not take into account displacement of a perfect shell of air by topography so it should be considered a very rough indication.
As a hypothetical question, can the ocean act as a “greenhouse liquid”? The ocean would act as a gray-body, reducing the amount of long-wave infrared radiation emitted, but to maintain an energy balance, it would compensate by increasing its temperature, radiating more shorter wavelength (high wavenumber) photons in the process. According to Planck’s quantum radiation laws, the higher wavenumber photons are less dense, so that is why the temperature of the emitting body would need to increase.
I know this is hypothetical because the effect of atmospheric greenhouse gases can’t be eliminated.
Some intriguing insights into implications of a couple of papers investigating the future stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet and adjacent shelves are offered via New Zealand’s Science Media Centre:
Thanks dbostrom. Brief quote from your first link:
“Radar mapping of the ice-covered landscape has uncovered a deep sub-glacial basin close to the edge of the ice sheet.
The study, published in Nature Geoscience, found that the basin measures 100 by 200 km and is well below sea level, nearly 2km deep in places. The ice sheet, currently grounded above the deep basin, may be more unstable than previously thought and could quickly undergo ice loss.”
see also: Nature Geoscience | Letter
Steep reverse bed slope at the grounding line of the Weddell Sea sector in West Antarctica
Nature Geoscience 5, 393–396 (2012)
(article preview is not paywalled)
Weddell Sea ice on the brink
Warm ocean currents are known to erode ice shelves from below, but changes in currents can be forced by many different mechanisms, leading to uncertain outcomes. This study highlights the vulnerability to climate change of a small Antarctic coastal region, which has potentially severe consequences for the mass balance of a large Antarctic ice shelf. Hellmer et al. use climate modelling to show that the projected loss of sea ice in the Weddell Sea (east of the Antarctic Peninsula) leads to an increase in wind stress, which in turn accelerates a warm ocean current far underneath the vast Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf. The authors predict that the increased warmth could increase melt by a factor of 20, with possible consequences for ice-stream dynamics in the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.”
“The authors use a high-resolution ocean model to accurately simulate Southern Ocean currents, especially those that flow past and under the large Antarctic ice shelves. In particular they focus their attention on ocean patterns near the Ronne-Filchener Ice Shelf, which at 449,000 km2 (the size of France) is the 2nd-largest floating ice shelf on the planet. When they run their model with predicted future human greenhouse gas emissions, a reduction of offshore marine sea ice drives large changes in Southern Ocean circulation patterns. These circulation changes cause deep, warm ocean currents to rise and invade the marine cavity under the Ronne-Filchener Ice Shelf. The resulting increase in sub-shelf water temperatures drives a whopping (1800%) increase in melt rate during the mid-21st century, which is capable of rapidly thinning the massive ice shelf and potentially drastically accelerating ice loss from the Antarctic continent.
“The finding, of increased melt rates due to ocean circulation changes, is reproduced consistently in several simulations with independent ocean models and different emission scenarios. This reproducibility lends confidence to the study’s conclusions. Furthermore, the increase in melting they project under the Ronne-Filchener Ice Shelf is probably conservative given that ice shelves in their ocean model do not change shape with time and their computationally expensive simulations end at year 2200 or earlier.”
Hellmer’s results are driven by conditions predicted by various forcing scenarios described by HadCM3 runs. The A1B output of Hellmer’s model is fairly dismal.
I can imagine vociferous objections to “model stacked on model.” All the same, presuming the confidence of the model authors is justified and considering that model forcing inputs seem to be optimistic in the face of policy paralysis this is a pretty concerning story. Does anybody seriously think we’re not going to see 500ppm? I’d call 500ppm somewhat optimistic.
Details of the brick wall we’re heading for are emerging as we dial our view past gross features. How’s that NC sea level legislation going to look in 100 years? Even more foolish that today, likely.
On another thread I’ve been banging on about the illogical approach we take to deploying and maintaining instrumentation allowing us to tell what’s going on w/our planet, particularly w/reference to the temporary nature of the GRACE experiment. Scientific publications arising from GRACE data have quickly shown what was intended and deployed as an “experiment” transcends expecations; once we’ve our eyes have been opened by GRACE why would we choose to close them?
Unfortunately the austerity fad being promoted by tax dodgers makes a replacement for GRACE hard to picture. The roster of earlier deployed and notionally more mundane Earth observation satellites we’ve come to take for granted is in a state of deterioration.
For those w/access to the NY Times, please read Heidi Cullen’s May 31 op-ed. Consider carefully whether dubious correlations between taxation and economic productivity justify dialing our observational clock back some 40 years.
“We have made tremendous progress in the accuracy of our hurricane forecasting (and overall weather forecasting) since then, much of it a result of government-owned satellites that were first launched in the 1960s and now provide about 90 percent of the data used by the National Weather Service in its forecasting models. Satellite and radar data and the powerful computers that crunch this information are the foundation of the weather information and images we get. Thanks to these instruments, for instance, the five-day hurricane track forecast we get today is more accurate than the three-day forecast from just 10 years ago.
These satellites also monitor volcanic eruptions, rising sea levels, melting ice sheets, the depletion of stratospheric ozone and ocean surface temperatures. Emergency beacons from aviators and mariners in distress can also be pinpointed by these satellites. Scientists who study the atmosphere and the ocean need continuous weather data to track large-scale climate variations (like El Niño) and long-term environmental trends like global warming.
Weather observations even bear on national security. Accurate wind and temperature forecasts are critical in deciding whether to launch an aircraft that will require midflight refueling.
But those capabilities, and our overall ability to monitor the planet, are slipping. The causes identified by the research council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, are many: technological failures, cost increases, changes in Congressional and administration priorities and — above all — the failure to devote adequate resources. For example, the annual budget for NASA’s Earth Science Division has fallen to below $1.5 billion from about $2 billion a decade ago, far below what scientists agree is needed.
The new report found that the number of actual and planned satellite missions could decline from 23 this year to only 6 in 2020, reducing the number of Earth-observing instruments in space from 90 now to about 20 in 2020.”
I guess it’s worth mentioning that we our now at the point where selected sites, particularly in the high northern latitudes, have hit the 400 ppm CO2 threshold. It’s a bit short of this globally. You can see the variations in CO2 as a function of time and latitude here
for Richard Hawes — truncate that URL and it’ll get you to the issue: https://rock.geosociety.org/gsatoday/archive/22/2/
That image is one of many from the top article on that page. I’ll try to give you direct links; This may work or the blog software may mangle it:
Science Article: A human-induced hothouse climate?
David L. Kidder, Thomas R. Worsley AbstractFull TextPDF
Anders A. Bjørk,et al.
Nature Geoscience 5, 427–432 (2012)
Widespread retreat of glaciers has been observed along the southeastern margin of Greenland. This retreat has been associated with increased air and ocean temperatures. However, most observations are from the satellite era; presatellite observations of Greenlandic glaciers are rare. Here we present a unique record that documents the frontal positions for 132 southeast Greenlandic glaciers from rediscovered historical aerial imagery beginning in the early 1930s. We combine the historical aerial images with both early and modern satellite imagery to extract frontal variations of marine- and land-terminating outlet glaciers, as well as local glaciers and ice caps, over the past 80 years. The images reveal a regional response to external forcing regardless of glacier type, terminal environment and size. Furthermore, the recent retreat was matched in its vigour during a period of warming in the 1930s with comparable increases in air temperature. We show that many land-terminating glaciers underwent a more rapid retreat in the 1930s than in the 2000s, whereas marine-terminating glaciers retreated more rapidly during the recent warming.
Imagine the retreat described by Bjørk stacked on top of what’s now inevitable. Natural variation isn’t a “get out of jail free” card, slow learning for many.
Will be interested to see where air temperature data was found for Bjørk piece, in light of Masters item above:
The record books for Greenland’s climate were re-written on Tuesday, when the mercury hit 24.8°C (76.6°F) at Narsarsuaq, Greenland, on the southern coast. According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, this is the hottest temperature on record in Greenland for May, and is just 0.7°C (1.3°F) below the hottest temperature ever measured in Greenland.
If one looks at page 20 of the paper it is obvious that the temperatures quoted are directly correlated with the AMO, which is historically high, currently is at the peak of its 65 year cycle, which goes back to 1700s, although sequence was broken in the Dalton min time.
The AMO is about to turn down, as its precursor the northern leg of the NAO shows.
The AMO and NAO run synchronously until about 1910, and then the North Hemisphere temperature took off, and the NAO speeded up, while the AMO carried with its 9.1 and 65 year cycles. It is a bit odd, but should be of some interest, that if you squeeze the AMO it falls again into a perfect synchronism with the NAO. http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AMO-NAO.htm
There is perfectly good natural reason for it, but climate people are more interested in the radiative constants than essentials of the natural climate variability.
RE #2, s.b. ripman “..it would be nice to have a similar graphic showing the relative volume of earth’s atmosphere next to the earth.”
Check the website of CarbonVisuals.
Comment by Hans Kiesewetter — 5 Jun 2012 @ 3:23 AM
Re: #43 Hank Roberts
Interesting question and far outside my limited area. I do remember seeing data about the reduction in atmospheric lead when we switched to unleaded gasoline. Don’t know whether ice core data can provided the resolution from such a recent time but, if they can, separating the various species of sulfate might be tricky — sea salt, non-sea salt, volcanic, etc.
In the past, the Arctic was a water vapor sink, and the tropics and temperate zones were water vapor sources. Then, NH atmospheric circulation was about moving water vapor towards the Arctic, and returning cold, dry air.
As the Arctic warms, it is becoming a source of water vapor and the thermodynamics of NH circulation are reversing. With the Arctic, North Temperate zone, and the tropics all producing water vapor in the summer, water vapor transport would be — southward. This is very different, and perhaps not that far distant.
However, I see very little discussion of the issue. Is that because everybody has thought about new NH circulation patterns and it is no big deal? Or, because nobody has thought about it? Or, or because it is unpleasant and we do not want to think about it, or worse talk about it?
“In December 2011, WHOI was subpoenaed by lawyers representing BP in response to lawsuits brought against the oil company by the U.S. government, fishermen, workers, and residents injured by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It is important to note that WHOI is not a party to the lawsuit. BP claimed in its subpoena that it needed information to better understand scientific findings by Camilli, Reddy, and others related to the flow rate measurements they made at the Macondo well. Cleanwater Act violation fines that will be levied on BP may be based in great measure on the amount of oil released; therefore, billions of dollars are at stake.
As was stated in the Globe op-ed, WHOI turned over everything BP would need to analyze and confirm or refute the findings. However, BP demanded more—the scientists’ email communications, notes, and manuscript drafts: “…any transmission or exchange of any information, whether orally or in writing, including without limitation any conversation or discussion…” concerning the research. WHOI, through our lawyers at Goodwin Procter, challenged this demand, but on April 20, the magistrate judge ordered the institution to produce the vast majority of its deliberative work. On June 1, WHOI turned over the last of more than 3,500 emails and associated documents to BP.”
Would anyone like to bet how long it will take the Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General to retaliate against Drs Camilli and Reddy “for reasons having nothing to do with scientific integrity, their BP oil spill journal article, or other scientific issues” but some other BS trumped up by their same anonymous source that sparked the attack on Dr. Monnett for his polar bear work?
IMHO, “…any information, whether orally or in writing…” would include news stories received by the scientists based on BP press releases and information relayed by the Coast Guard from BP. In order to fully comply with this subpoena, WHOI needs access to BP’s e-mails, oral, and written communications used to generate any spill information disseminated by BP.
Is the reason you put “analysis” in quotes because that link operates on the notion that scientists warned of global cooling in the 1960s? My understanding is that it is a myth that scientists warned of global cooling all those decades ago, and in fact the majority of scientific literature was discussing global warming. Also, the myth has it in the 70s, not the 60s. Where did this assumption that scientists warned of global cooling in the 1960s even come from? It appears that link is full of bad information, so “analysis” in quotes is apropos.
Those who believe that somehow sulfur dioxide will do us a world of good seem to have forgotten a whole lot of history and science. We are at quite a different level than we were in the mid 1900s. At this point, multiple forms of pollution and multiple consequences are assailing us all over the globe. The idea that a limited fix would somehow reestablish polar freezing and allow us all a breather is pure dreaming.
It is particularly distressing to see real experts whose knowledge and hearts are solid getting so desperate they appear to be forgetting their own science.
Whatever might be the solution, I cannot believe increasing sulfur will do anything but contribute to our continuing air and water problems, including but not limited to ocean acidification.
Thanks for the clarification. Discovery is just as (or more) time-consuming and intrusive, but indeed a different process and not in the public domain.
— change subject:
Just opening my weekly Earth Observatory summary, and this is beautifully done and only a minute and a half long; please watch the video!
>vukcevic @52, it seems you are still confusing the 1960s with 1971, which is the year that Washington Post article mentioned on your page was published. So I will take that as a yes, “analysis” is in quotes because it is sloppy work.
For the rest of us, I would simply direct you to a post on this site. It will serve to illuminate the issue better than that link above will.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 6 Jun 2012 @ 2:19 AM
You say “…Northern Hemishere snow cover could hit a record low this June.” To add a bit more.
Simply the snow cover has been meltng away quicker & quicker over the last few decades & now it will be melting away down to its ‘minimum’ during June rather than July.
Minimum NH land snow cover occurs in September (as per Arctic Sea Ice) with the minimum of a couple of million sq km of difficult-to-melt snow remaining each year. Since the records began (Rulgers from 1966 with a few early gaps), August snow cover was pretty much at the same level as September. July has been slowly dropping down to approach that same level in the last few years.
Now its June’s turn to start its drop. It has a bigger drop to make & as June is also the month of maximum insolation, the reduction of albedo in northern climes has added significance.
This case raises issues that go far beyond our institution and BP. Despite earlier Supreme Court recognition of the importance of the deliberative scientific process, there remains inadequate legislation and legal precedent to shield researchers and institutions who are not parties to litigation from having to surrender pre-publication materials, including deliberative emails and notes, manuscript drafts, reviewers’ comments, and other private correspondence. This situation leaves scientists and institutions vulnerable to litigants who could disregard context and use the material inappropriately and inaccurately in an effort to discredit their work. In addition, there is no guarantee that the costs, both time and material, incurred by an institution in response to court-mandated requests will be reimbursed by the litigants.
…. threatens to facilitate misinterpretation of scientific findings by highlighting preliminary evaluations and opinions, conflating facts with assumptions, and implying conclusions without a valid scientific process or review. …. researchers and their institutions may reasonably fear that their deliberative process can be attacked and their intellectual property exposed, or that they will become entrained in litigation to which they are not parties and where they are unlikely to derive any benefit. As a consequence, scientists may feel forced to curtail, censor or avoid the normal deliberative process. In future … researchers may be more reluctant to volunteer expertise and technology.
…. It is unlikely that institutions such as WHOI would be able to identify or prosecute this infringement of intellectual property rights.
…. some of these very qualities that drew scientists into the response effort will suffer as the deliberative process is eroded.
MA and DP,
Yes, the snowpack has started its melt earlier in recent years as evident by the Rutgers data. This has resulted in neither a change in the annual minimum, nor annual maximum (see link winter, spring and fall data). The timing of the melt may have implications in agriculture, flood control, and winter sports (last year, many of the Colorado ski resorts had special July 4th celebrations due to the late snowmelt, which also resulted in later year flooding of the Missouri River).
A few papers have linked Eurasian snow extent to summer temperatures and rainfall in Asia. A lesser inverse link was found between North American snow cover and monsoons. A suggested difference is the larger oceanic influence in Norht America compared to Eurasia.
Anteros @56 takes cherry picking to the next level . . . remove the ‘point25’ from the dates and watch the “15 year cooling trend” magically revert to the real worlds warming trend. Is Anteros the “avenger of unrequited love” for the denialators?
When we have context, it is dishonest to leave it out
It seems to me you may have let a prejudice get in the way of an accurate assessment of my comment.
There seemed no need for me to state the obvious – which is (to me) that the 15 years of ‘cooling’ (in just two sets of data) mean, signify, or are evidence for virtually nothing, except the sound of noise.
You’ll notice that I made not the slightest mention of such things – so it seems to me you merely assumed them.
The context – if you really must know – is that last year I asked Louise (out of interest, and in its own context) this question – “what would you say when two sets of data show 15 years of cooling this coming spring?” Louise said she’d get back to me…
Well, I’d forgotten about it until a few days ago when Louise appeared on two separate blogs crowing about how there were no data sets showing 15 years of cooling etc etc. So, to find out what she would actually say I presented her with the appropriate graphs.
I think it is relevant and pertinent – for all of us – to answer the same question. Indeed, I think the SkS escalator is one very good interpretation (even if it is expressed in confrontational and partisan language) and it also happens to be close to my own..
I’m sorry you find the neutral offerings of two graphs as a ‘bore’, but having said that I’d rather not have the accusations of dishonesty, especially when they are founded on nothing but unwarranted supposition.
FWIW, I’m on record as predicting next year as the ‘hottest ever’ – also without any intended implied meaning. It is simply what I expect.
A couple of things. First, starting with an El Nino and ending just as we are leaving a La Nina is certainly cherrypicking. Second, if you use HADCRUT4, even then the trend is positive. Third, RSS (and UAH) for that matter tend to be overly influenced by ENSO, so any effect of ENSO is going to be greatly exaggerated.
It’s good to see other websites posting good information about the environment and how we can work to change our negative environmental impact as a modern society. I recently posted a story to my blog (thenewsmovement.com) that concludes Earth is headed for an Apocalypse of sorts if we don’t get our act together!
Come on people, let’s get with it and do something!
The Pacific Institute is pleased to welcome Dr. Peter Gleick back to his position as president of the Institute. An independent review conducted by outside counsel on behalf of the Institute has supported what Dr. Gleick has stated publicly regarding his interaction with the Heartland Institute. This independent investigation has further confirmed and the Pacific Institute is satisfied that none of its staff knew of or was involved in any way.
Furthering the theory, it has been postulated that the Arctic warms until it is completley ice free, allowing much greater evaporation of the polar waters, leading to a succession of severe winters, triggering another ice age. The extent of glaciations reduces evaporation, gradually leading to a reduction in winter snowfall, and a retreat of the glaciers.
I’m afraid you’ve completely misunderstood (or failed to read) the link.
The theory has to do with the redistribution of heat (or cold) from north to south, a result of climate change, not a cause of it.
Your own theory about evaporation (a supporting link would be nice, or is that an “it has been postulated by me” instance?) similarly would not warm or cool the climate, but instead simply result in vertical energy transport.
I find it very hard to believe that increased evaporation due to warmer temperatures in the Arctic would “trigger another ice age.”
“Pierre Deschamps and colleagues now report the results of a major coral-drilling programme in Tahiti, and establish that meltwater pulse 1A took place between 14,650 and 14,310 years ago, coincident with a warming spike. Sea levels rose by between 14 and 18 metres. Such a large rise suggests that ice-sheet collapse in Antarctica may have contributed to these changes, previously a point of much contention.” http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v483/n7391/full/nature10902.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20120329
A few months ago I took my mother to the doctor, and apparently she and he share a love of gardening. They were discussing certain flowers which were blooming very early. IIRC this was in February. It seems very straightforward: early warmth brings early blooms. But some flowers don’t respond to the early Spring, or even bloom late. Why do they do this? Interestingly it appears these other plants are taking their cues not from the timing and magnitude of Spring temps, but rather from the previous Autumn. Initially this surprised me but then I remembered that there are some plants that require a certain number of days that are cold enough to even flower at all the next year.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 7 Jun 2012 @ 3:38 PM
Unsettled – speaking from experience, I’d add that the winter temperatures are as, or more important, than the fall onset. The cold season length can be short if the low temperatures are low enough. Here on Vancouver Island warmer winters result in light fruit bloom and trees that throw additional bloom in the fall when night temps start to drop again, giving those particular buds the additional chill time they missed last winter, short stretches of intense cold act the same as long stretches of “mild” cold . . . very troubling re future fruit production as the climate changes.
Now it’s your turn to apologize for framing your response deceptively. It appears you are *not* honestly concerned about these issues, only interested in demonstrating your false premise.
I’m getting really tired of accusations that reverse the truth of the supposed “debate”. On one side are almost all the facts, and on the other is a whole lot of hot air, masquerading in some cases as a concern for civility.
The evolving history of violence is frightening, and it appears those trying to incite the violence are very busy getting out in front and accusing their potential and actual victims of intending mayhem.
I don’t think exploiting fear, rage, and the rest while claiming hostilities are being initiated by the victims is a good way to solve problems which affect not only future generations, but at this point, our all too current situation.
Hi all – as many of you know, there’s an awful lot of the “no cooling since 199x” meme flying around these days. Clearly that’s not a tenable position, so under pressure this then gives rise to the next meme – “the warming, overall, is too small to worry about”. So a few questions arising from that proposition:
1 – is it accurate to say that average decadal temperature rise since 1980 is between 0.15 and 0.2 degrees?
2 – Since a 1.5 degree rise over a century is lower than most projections, is it thought that the temperature will FURTHER rise either from heat from the oceans, positive feedbacks etc? (references too if pos, thanks).
Just wondering how many of you would consider that the current rate of ice albedo in the arctic constitutes a breached tipping point? If not what are the signs and symptoms of this tipping point being breached? How do we know when it’s too late? We currently have a severely impared balance mechanism about to go into oscillation as far as I can make out. The summers are longer and hotter, thus more ice melts, consequently the winters are shorter and warmer so not as much ice forms or at least not to the usual quality since midway through the pliocene. The relentless ice melt has been quite predictable now for at least the past 10 years. The arctic oceans are progressively becoming warmer and causes great additional forcing onto the failing system. I’m trying not to ignore the elephant in the room here which many of you seem to be doing by my observations. I’m guessing that we are already witnessing probably the planet’s most important and influential tipping point well into the process of being breached.
What do you think?
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 8 Jun 2012 @ 6:48 AM
“…it has been postulated that the Arctic warms until it is completley ice free, allowing much greater evaporation of the polar waters, leading to a succession of severe winters, triggering another ice age.”
What I have seen postulated (e.g. here) is that the closing of the Isthmus of Panama altered the Atlantic circulation. The Antarctic Circumpolar vortex drives surface water north via Eckman transport, and the only place for the water to go after the Isthmus closed is into a newly formed Gulf Stream.*
This is where the evaporation which allows the formation of continental ice sheets (by Milankovic driven albedo feedback) originates. The warm salty surface water is cooled and made saltier by evaporation, and when it get far enough north that the increase in density cause the water to sink, thermohaline circulation adds to the wind driven Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.
And if the Arctic became ice free during interglacials, there would be a record in the Lomonosov Ridge sediment record.
“Recently, a few coccoliths have been reported from late Pliocene and Pleistocene central Arctic sediment (Worsley and Herman, 1980). Although this is interpreted to indicate episodic ice-free conditions for the central Arctic, the occurrence of ice-rafted debris with the sparse coccoliths is more easily interpreted to represent transportation of coccoliths from ice-free continental seas marginal to the central Arctic. The sediment record as well as theoretical considerations make strong argument against alternating ice-covered and ice-free conditions (Donn and Shaw, 1966; Clark et al., 1980). Although the time of development of the pack ice for the central Arctic Ocean is unknown, to date there is no evidence that precludes a Miocene origin.” http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11798&page=137 And some probably originate in the open water of polynyas, but this represents a small area compared to the amount of ice free Arctic surface seen in the last decade.
*Warm water is piled up in the Gulf of Mexico by the equatorial trade winds, instead of exiting through the former “straights of Panama”. Geostrophic flow around the North Atlantic gyre pushes it north along the east US coast. ThermoHaline Circulation returns the water south as a bottom current(less what has evaporated but with all the salt), and much of the bottom water spreads east into the Pacific through the wide gap between Africa and Antarctica. http://hermes.mbl.edu/news/press_releases/images/thermohaline_circulation.jpg
The closure also caused reversal of current through the Bering Straight, bringing warmer Pacific water further north. http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/28/6/551.abstract
PS – shoot down the bad ideas, not the messenger.
PPS – reCaptcha says “hottest fusiform”
Ultimately, the amount of warming is determined by what temperature must be reached to restore radiative equilibrium at the top of the atmosphere, while what we care about is the change in surface temperature. What is more, we are not talking about a single-solid sphere, but rather multiple, interconnected temperature reserviors–the atmosphere, the shallow ocean, the deep ocean. So, while we are seeing moderate warming now, there could be more “in the pipeline” as the effects of greenhouse gas absorption continue to increase.
This is a trick denialists play often–they know if they assume the planet returns to equilibrium rapidly, they get a low sensitivity. However, if you take actual physics into account, you see that such rapid return to equilibrium is not possible. The atmosphere does interact with the shallow ocean, which interacts with the deep ocean–on timescales of decades, perhaps centuries in come cases. What is more, some feedbacks evolve quite slowly. So the current rate of warming of 1.5-2 degrees per century is likely the tip of the melting iceberg.
Tamino has developed a very instructive 2-box model of the climate–one box representing the atmosphere, which nears equilibrium on a timescale of about a year, and the other representing the oceans with a timescale of about 30 years. He gets pretty good agreement with this model. Check out Open Mind and the Open Mind archives at Skepticalscience.
1. The average GISS temp rise since 1980 is 0.16 C/decade, while CRU is 0.15, and UAH is 0.14. So, the low end of your range has been observed. The rise has not been steady, with the middle decade showing the highest rise; all three data sets show a rise of ~0.4 C/decade between 1992 and 2002. These are all higher than longer term trnds (60+ years), so a slowdown in recent years was not unexpected.
2. Predictions are all over the map here, and constantly being modified with new estimates due to solar, cloud, albedo changes, etc.
3. Obviously, 1.5 is not as bad as 2, but worse than 1. The greatest effect would be felt in the Arctic, with the least experienced in the tropics. Extreme weather events are still uncertain, as higher water vapor leads to greater precipitation events, but the lessened temperature gradient is expect to lead to a reduction. The main question is how the atmospheric circulation would change with respect to NAO, AO, PDO, and ENSO.
If your ice age theory is “age old,” then you should be able to supply several references to peer reviewed research about it. So far, you can’t even claim that it is new age blather because you have only provided a link to a news item. Until you provide appropriate science to support your assertions, you should not complain when people don’t take you seriously.
Thank you very much Ray and Dan, very helpful. Tamino’s excellent post here – http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/how-fast-is-earth-warming/ – left me wanting more. He concludes: “To answer the question posed in the title of this post: presently, Earth is warming at about 1.7 deg.C per century. There’s good reason to believe that it’ll be warming even faster in the upcoming decades”. I’d love some more info on this, which was beyond anything my search found – all pointers and references gratefully received.
Steve Fish @ 86, it’s even worse. Dan H’s link doesn’t even mention Ewing-Donn. That guy does very little to provide illumination, but certainly does much to provide confusion. This is, of course, his goal. “Oh, you’ve never heard of Ewing-Donn? Well read this which discusses something different.” Some of us are trying to learn the current consensus science, Dan H. is trying to make that harder for us.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 8 Jun 2012 @ 10:56 AM
It is neither my ice age theory, nor do I support it. I was merely responding to David’s post about less ice leading to more severe winters. The premise had been around for quite some time, of which many here were apparently unaware. Some people are way to picky/insecure, that they demand a link to everything imaginable, which is difficult for work half a century old. Some people even think that this will lead to confusion among the gullible. What is science, but the postulation of new theories, and then research to prove or disprove them. If we just sat around, content with all the old answers, we never progress.
The premise that a melting Arctic will lead to more severe wintes is nothing new.
The Earth has warmed ~0.8C over the past 130 years (equating to ~0.6C/century). All of that (and more) occurred over the four decades of the 1920, 30s, 90s, ans 2000s. The remaining decades exhibited cooling or stagnant temperatures, as seen here:
There are those who claim that temperatures will rise more rapidly this century than last, resulting in greater than 1C temperature rise by 2100. Forward predictions demand on various assumptions; including atmospheric CO2 and aerosol levels, solar output, clouds and oceanic responses.
Thanks Hank @90 – that’s where I’m still a little confused though. The first article referenced there – http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spmsspm-projections-of.html – shows the familiar different projections. However, only A2 shows a rate of increase in the warming, the others look (to my untrained eye) linear, eventually tailing off in the 2nd half of the century. Also, in this 2007 report, they say observed warming is 0.2 degrees, whereas it is now revised to 0.17 degrees – a fraction lower. Still within range, but at the lower end of projections.
I might have this completely wrong, but is it the case that our emissions thus far are closest to the A1 scanerio? If so, I’m still struggling to see research that suggests that the rate of warming will likely increase, as suggested by Tamino, beyond the slightly vague notions of possible positive feedbacks. I’m just checking I have that right, or if there’s something I’ve missed. Once again thanks for all help.
New hypotheses are suggested in science all the time and if they have any worth they are studied by scientists. A 50 year old hypothesis should be in the literature if it explained anything useful and you should be able to find it or subsequent research on it.
Asking for references is a standard part of the scientific process, not due to being “picky/insecure.” This is especially the case when someone, such as yourself, makes a habit of making off the wall statements, like your ice age comment, without reference, and who often provides references that do not support their contentions. This disingenuous behavior is also the method used by denialists and the agencies that denialists often work for in order to of fool individuals who are not familiar with the literature being discussed. Why don’t you change your ways?
It’s not insecurity when we ask you for the sources of your information, it’s intelligence. You have repeatedly misinterpreted the sources you provide, often to the point of being completely at odds with the scientific resources your cite. We have learned to double check your comments. Sadly, your spinning yet another thread in the circles you desire to create. Apparently Ewing-Donn hasn’t gained traction in the half-century since it was proposed. Surely you would have cited the copious scientific literature available if it had, rather than claiming we were picking on you.
It is not surprising that many are unaware of a hypothesis from 56 years ago that wasn’t accepted by the scientific community. If it was something we should be discussing it would be cited by numerous papers since then, rather than being a hypothesis floated before people had computers on their desks. Please provide relevant scientific information rather than waxing philosophical about what science is.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 8 Jun 2012 @ 4:42 PM
Once again, thanks to Hank and all who have helped me here. I see a new set scenarios to get our heads round here – http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/rogelj12natcc.pdf – but I’m afraid I still don’t see them with the rate of change increasing? Please don’t assume I’m in any way knowledgeable here, I might need a little hand-holding! Bottom line – I’m still keen to see if the current decadal rate of 0.17 is likely to remain about the same or increase (presumably not decrease), given the path we are on.
Note the difference between change in _temperature_ and change in _rate_ and recall every scenario will eventually taper off and level out, depending on how long more carbon is burned or when it all runs out. There’s no Venus-type runaway in these scenarios.
Perhaps you’d find a better explanation at Tamino’s site for what you’re quoting, you can at least ask it in the context where it was written.
53 Susan Anderson: I understand your concerns as increasing again the amount of sulpur dioxide in the air is definately not the preferred stop gap measure. My interest was that when the clean air act came into effect in 1963 it didn’t take long for the air temperature/climate especially in the arctic region to begin to revert to albedo conditions again. So that chemical does have the ability to effect climate quickly. It really comes down to the best of several evils scenario. Lowering air temp using sulpur dioxide will partially take the foot off the accelerator with regard to ocean temp only to increase ocean acidification at a much faster rate than the ocean is cooling, thus potentially leading to a collapse to inverebrate populations globally = end of the world’s fisheries = mass starvation. In your opinion Susan, what is the most effective approach for us to take?
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 9 Jun 2012 @ 1:23 AM
Again, thanks Hank. I’m very familiar with the statistical nonsense that gets quoted, so I understand that. But looking ahead to the next 20-30 years, beyond the uncertain major positive feedbacks, I think I’m going to conclude for now that our rate of warming is most likely (though of course not certain) to remain much the same as the current 0.15-0.2 degrees. Which is fine, just checking my knowledge.
Guy, you’ve reached Pat Michaels’ conclusion, coincidentally. He’s been saying he wants to buy beach houses. I don’t see how looking ahead 20-30 years is “beyond” the expected feedbacks, which will still be ramping up; the permafrost and sea level changes will go on much longer. Make sure to state degrees C or F, that’s led to some confusion at times.
Concluding that rate of warming will continue at 0.15-0.2C / decade based on the past three decades is fine, if you feel that the forcings during the time frame will be reproduced going forward. Remember, that the most recent 30-yr rate is twice the 60-yr rate, and almost thrice the 120-yr rate. The most recent high rate of increase may not continue for the next 2 or 3 decades, and revert more closely to the long-term trend (0.06C / decade).
Speaking of feedbacks, as I understand it the correct way to view them is as possible (probable?) massive future problems. However, currently the uncertainties surrounding them are too great to incorporate as part of the projections (the removal of the large ice sheets in the the FAR is a good example of this, I presume). Is that correct? So I’m assuming 0.15C – 0.2C per decade, PLUS any positive feedbacks as and when they kick in (which might be huge). Perhaps these feedbacks are what Tamino meant, actually?
An article in the Los Angeles Times about the “Tipping Points” paper in Nature has attracted over 600 online comments, many of which are nonsense.
However, one of the apparently coherent comments by somebody minimizing the impact of increasing CO2 is:
“The direct effect from a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere from the preindustrial level of 280 ppm to 560 ppm is believed to produce an increase in average surface temperatures of 1.1 degrees Celsius. The effect of CO2 is greatest in the upper atmosphere where there is little of the far more important greenhouse gas, namely water vapor. CO2 absorbs long wave radiation in the upper atmosphere across a spectrum of wavelengths. However, as the amount of CO2 increases, the gas becomes saturated across an increasing number of wavelengths. That is, increases in CO2 have no further impact on increasing temperature for those wavelengths as they become saturated. As a result, the increase in CO2 from 280 ppm to 393 ppm will produce roughly the same increase in average surface temperature as will the increase from 393 ppm to 560 ppm.
Most of the increase in atmospheric CO2 has taken place since the end of WWII as the world has experienced the greatest wave of industrialization in history. According to NOAA’s NCDC, the average global temperature anomaly in 1945 was 0.10 degrees Celsius while the average anomaly for the 12 months ending in May 2012 was 0.50 degrees Celsius. Thus, during the post war era average global temperatures have increased by 0.4 degrees Celsius roughly in line with the CO2 direct effect. Increasing CO2 to 560 ppm will likely produce another 0.5 degree C increase.”
Reasoned response would be appreciated.
[Response: Multiple errors here. The first is a framing issue that is somewhat misleading. The 1.1 deg C from CO2 is for the theorectical case of no feedbacks in the climate system. Since no-one thinks that there are no feedbacks, this is obviously not what is ‘expected’. The real expectation is that the climate sensitivity is closer to 3 deg C (with some uncertainty). By talking about ‘1.1 deg C + some uncertainty’ first, the poster is trying to imply that the uncertainties are symmteric about 1.1, rather than the real situation in which they are symmetric about 3 deg C. That is misleading. The second point is just wrong. The effect of CO2 is not saturated, and while each additional increment is slghtly less important than the previous, this is well known and has been part of the science for over 100 years. The last point is also very misleading – first of all they are cherry-picking specific dates, but worse than that they are incorrectly assuming that CO2 is the only thing that changed since 1945 and incorrectly assuming that the climate is in instant equilibrium with the forcings – this ignores the impact of aerosols, other greenhouse gases, ocean thermal inertia and the timescales of climate response. – gavin]
Bony, S., R. Colman, V.M. Kattsov, R.P. Allan, C.S. Bretherton, J.-L. Dufresne, A. Hall, S. Hallegatte, M.M. Holland, W. Ingram, D.A. Randall, D.J. Soden, G. Tselioudis, and M.J. Webb, 2006: How well do we understand and evaluate climate change feedback processes? J. Climate, 19, 3445-3482, doi:10.1175/JCLI3819.1.
Hank #113 – well, this paper for example – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2538841/ – looks at a number of tipping elements, but if I understand correctly, none are factored into the regular projections because the uncertainties are too great. Of course that doesn’t mean that they are not likely or indeed probable, but (again, if I understand correctly) certainly in the FAR there wasn’t enough specific knowledge to integrate them into their projections (and as we’ve both mentioned, ice sheets were actually removed from sea level rise). Hence my basic formula that total future warming = projection + tipping elements.
Thanks for the clarification. I am neither a policymaker nor a scientist, but a horrified onlooker wondering what could be done. As far as I can see, we are going exactly backwards from the way we could go if we reattached our brains to our polity.
Things that seem paramount to me, after discontinuing spending energy and thought on dangerous “solutions” like spraying sulfur dioxide which as you say had a short term but reversible effect when it was observed with terrible consequences elsewhere, are first and foremost a real “surge” in exploring clean energy, solar, wind, wave, hydro, even geothermal where it’s appropriate, local transmission, storage – a knotty problem – of intermittent but otherwise plentiful sources, and conservation. In addition, we need a public education project on a massive scale as people seem to have disconnected their toys from the expertise that made them possible. We need to come to understand that continuous growth on a finite planet is not possible, and that spaceships to some other place are not going to happen, and even if they could, would be prohibitively expensive. Wealthy interests with ties to entertainment (sports, reality shows, and on and on) need to stop encouraging people to ramp up their appetite for spectacle and escapism. Though I don’t know enough to find nuclear anything but dubious, another short-term tradeoff with long-term dangers with a slightly longer timeline, I’m open to the idea that it is perhaps not quite as dangerous as some of my friends insist. It should, however, be smaller and more localized, with adequate safety measures.
I believe the world water crisis is already upon us, and there are parts of the world where climate change drives conflict. Where juvenile thinking and guns proliferate, we are in for a dodgy time.
I’m not sure if you meant to imply that all I do is complain without trying to help, but I would agree that is a fair assessment of my part in this gallimaufry. Nonetheless, I think collective outrage is justified and moderation and politeness have been proven not to work.
I forgot to include mass transit in my basket of solutions. Unfortunately, at the turn of the 20th century, railroads were replaced with roads. While I would hate to give up my private traveling box, that may be necessary and if other options were more adequate it would not seem so daunting to do so. A trip on public transit in any city will show you that it has become less convenient and more expensive in the name of cutting expenses – more looting of the poor. Massachusetts, which is fairly progressive, was unable to solve all its transit problems by adding an 11 cent per gallon increase in their gas tax, and instead opted for regressive sales and other taxes that once again burden the have nots. As long as the habit of rewarding privilege with more privilege at the expense of those who struggle to get by prevails, no reasonable solution to our growing energy and climate problems is going to accrue.
Speaking of which, England, which has a huge gas tax, also cut back fiercely on public transit the last time I was there (quite a while ago). AFAIK, things have gotten worse since then as people imitate, in Michael Moore’s locution, “stupid white men”.
One thing to remember — even if warming were a straight line, rising some fraction of a degree per decade — “The cost of climate change is generally considered to be a nonlinear (concave) function of the magnitude of warming.” The costs of uncertainty
Did anyone one notice that Arctic sea ice extent just dropped below the 2007 record-low year. If this continues (and is there any reason to think it won’t?), we are in for a new record low minimum extent in September.
Certainly Arctic Sea Ice Extent has been below 2007 at this time of year before then subsequently pulled up well short of the 2007 level in September. The weather plays a big part in that.
While weather will always play a big part, this year the melt season started late and is dropping fast. Ice Area values are at record levels for the time of year, Arctic temperatures are abmormaly high for early summer (See SST anomaly here) and the NSIDC report for May talks of open water & broken ice.
The weather will as always play a big role in September levels of Arctic Sea Ice but 2012 is looking “interesting” at the present.
“China Emissions Suggest Climate Change Could Be Faster than Thought”
“China’s carbon emissions could be nearly 20 percent higher than previously thought, a new analysis of official Chinese data showed on Sunday, suggesting the pace of global climate change could be even faster than currently predicted…
According to Chinese national statistics, on average, CO2 emissions have been growing 7.5 percent annually from 1997 to 7.69 billion tonnes in 2010, the authors say in the study.
In contrast, aggregated emissions of all Chinese provinces have increased 8.5 percent on average to 9.08 billion tonnes in 2010.
By comparison, U.S. emissions were 6.87 billion tonnes in 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency says.
The scientists said differences in reported coal consumption and processing at the provincial level were the main contributors to the discrepancy in energy statistics.
The findings also expose the challenges China faces in introduce emissions trading schemes, which need accurate measurement, reporting and verification of energy use and carbon pollution at the local and national level.
Yang Fuqiang, a former Chinese energy official and senior adviser for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Beijing, said provinces routinely underestimate both their carbon emissions and their energy utilisation rates.
“I would say the biggest concern about the accuracy and reliability of (China’s emissions) data is coal – and that comes from too many small coal mines supplying small enterprises and industrial plants. They have no monitoring systems and generally speaking, they are also avoiding tax,” he said.”
Thanks for the fuller set of graphs, Hasis. They do add some perspective.
Today’s update at Cryosphere Today shows a 266 thousand square kilometers loss in extent.
(That’s before revisions, but several of the monitoring groups have had a similar drop.)
Watching ice melt is generally considered the epitome of boring activity, but when one is watching the planet change from one with a year-round polar ice cap to one that is largely ice free for part of the year, it becomes a bit more…engaging.
Did anyone one notice that Arctic sea ice extent just dropped below the 2007 record-low year.
Most followers of RC probably already know about it but just in case: Arctic Sea Ice Blog. Neven and Crew notice everything. Poor walrus have no privacy at all; thousands of eyes staring down from space…
I trust someone is already creating and selling “Recurrent Flood Tables” to replace those antiquated “Tide Tables” — for users in NC and Va.
I think any property owner who fails to keep a current copy of the “Recurrent Flood Table” and take steps to ameliorate the effects of the “Recurrent Floods” won’t get the best property insurance rates …..
139 but it is entertaining all the same. “What people care about is the floodwater coming through their door,” Stolle said. “Let’s focus on that. Let’s study that. So that’s what I wanted us to call it.”
In the 1960’s floodwaters came through my door twice. In the 1970’s floodwaters came through my door 3 times. In the 1980’s floodwaters came through my door once a month. In the 1990’s floodwaters came through my door twice a month. In 2010 floodwaters came through my door once a week. I need a new door.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 12 Jun 2012 @ 6:11 PM
#134 John, no old multi-year ice bridge spanning the Arctic Euro Asian To North American Continents spells near certain record melt and flushing for 2012. The contrarians need to walk on lake ice to appreciate ice thickness and volume. The real big factor in eliminating the remnant old multiyear ice is not in place yet, its quite cloudy, and that is good for ice ecologies.
124 wili: Yep. I look at the arctic sea ice exent graph every day and a few months ago it was nudging the average curve and now it seems to be nose diving well below the 2007 line. I bet if the 2012 line is smoothed you will probably see that the pack ice is melting faster and sooner in the year which is entirely consistant with the uncontrolled positive feeback that climate change is bringing the arctic. It also indicates that the snow and ice put down during the last winter, even though the extent was similar to the average was not high quality and it’s melting away at a rapid rate.
I would not say yet that this shows a new record in the making this summer but if this trend is not corrected fairly soon then it just well could be.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 13 Jun 2012 @ 6:09 AM
Not sure about Virginia, but at least North Carolina relied on a scientific assessment for their legislation.
The final version of the bill did not specifically state a SLR for planning purposes, but that rates “shall be determined using statistically significant, peer-reviewed historical data generated using generally accepted scientific and statistical techniques. Historic rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise unless such rates are from statistically significant, peer-reviewed data and are consistent with historic trends.” The final bill also allowed for the different rates of rise experienced on ocean-front compared to estuary shorelines.
[Response: You are joking right? Mandating the use of linear extrapolation as the only forecasting method permitted is not, in any way shape or form, a “scientific assessment”. But if you prefer to be mocked by Stephen Colbert, go right ahead:
more of teh wasteful stupid, don’t know if to laugh or cry:
AFP will be going toe to toe with the environmental extremists to combat their radical agenda and tell the truth about the costs of offshore wind.
Yes, that’s right. With monetary assistance from the Koch Brothers, AFP will be going toe to toe with these kite-flying kids who represent such a threat to the free market.
Here’s how the Sierra Club describes the event in support of Global Wind Day: “We’ll be gathering at a beach near you for a kite-flying rally and celebration of NJ’s offshore wind potential. Bring your family, friends and kites.”
In order to combat these “extremist” families and their kite-flying antics, AFP is throwing in all the resources it can — chartering six buses (yes, six) to bring people in from around the state.
How will this battle unfold? Will the crusading free-marketeers be able to withstand this beach full of radical children?
Comment by Susan Anderson — 13 Jun 2012 @ 12:25 PM
At least the legislation says that scientific (and statistical) methods shall be used. This is a vast improvement over the crystal ball method proposed in the original draft of the bill, which used one report, and the highest tidal data available, and then multiplied the result by 2.6 to achieve their final number.
Personally, I do not see the need to impose this type of legislation at all. However, if the state was going to enact legislation imposing building restriction based on predicted SLR, then at least this methods shows some scientific reason.
Would you prefer no legislation on coastal building restrictions? Maybe, the governor should just veto the legislation, and scrap the whole thing. Then, everything can stay just the way it is.
[Response: Ah, the classic false dichotomy! Have you been taking a new class in fallacious argumentation? If so, I hope you got an A. – gavin]
It seems to me that weather forecasting in Virginia should probably be similarly improved.
June 14th, for example, can be forecast by consulting the records for all the previous June 14ths and simply publishing the statistically normal highs and lows along with one days’ share of June’s monthy precipitation.
Yes, I am well aware that this bill was a refinement of the original “scintific” assessment (which was anything but). The final version relies on much more scientific research than the original, which relied on one report, and much speculation. The bill even includes arrangements for further research into local SLR to amend future regulations.
[Response: “Much more scientific research” – perhaps you mean “Much more wishful thinking and closing ones eyes to scientific reasearch”? The idea that you can, with an apparently straight face, endorse this neo-Canutism is a marvel to behold. – gavin]
Dan H wrote: “At least the legislation says that scientific (and statistical) methods shall be used.”
No, in fact the legislation specifically PROHIBITS the use of scientific methods, and mandates an unscientific method that the authors of the legislation are well aware is guaranteed to produce misleading results.
Your deliberate, blatant, sneering dishonesty is disgusting.
I could swear I heard somebody suggesting that the governor of North Carolina should veto stupid legislation that seeks to interfere with rational planning and instead leave coastal development policy to be guided by engineers and scientists, as it is now.
Status quo sounds like a great idea. Outlawing scientific progress and better engineering really does seem extraordinarily idiotic.
So, a century worth of data is now considered “unscientific” and misleading? Do you feel the same way about temperature data? Your snide remoarks only serve to hinder your argument.
[Response: I wasn’t aware I was arguing with you. But since you ask, ‘data’ is neither scientific nor unscientific. Those adjectives apply to how one treats the data and the conclusions one draws. The mandate to only use extrapolation is unscientific since there any number of easily plausible circumstances in which that will patently fail to properly assess the risks. The only ‘get-out’ clause allowed by the legislation is if “scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise” have rates “from statistically significant, peer-reviewed data” which I’m sure sounded wonderfully sciencey to whoever drafted this, but is actually completely meaningless. If you want to hold this up as a paragon of science-based policymaking, you have more problems than I can possibly address in blog comment. I might add that your argument (whatever it is) is greatly hindered by your posting of poorly digested talking points. – gavin]
“Extreme weather events are still uncertain, as higher water vapor leads to greater precipitation events, but the lessened temperature gradient is expect to lead to a reduction. ” Dan H.
That’s not my understanding.
“Because atmospheric circulation largely is generated by the gradients resulting from heat gain at low latitudes and heat loss at high latitudes, the approximate 6×106 km2 perennial ice cover of the Arctic Ocean has a profound effect on modern world climate. Flohn (1978) described details of this pattern for polar regions. Because it is more than twice as large, the Antarctic is a more significant climate modifier. In both areas, the ice cover restricts heat exchange between the atmosphere and the ocean. Heat loss by the ocean is suppressed in winter as is heat gain in summer. This results in at least three times as much atmospheric cooling with the ice as there would be without it (Fletcher and Kelley, 1978).” http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11798&page=133
“The consequences of increased September open water in the western Arctic and increased 1000–500 hPa thickness is an anomalous late autumn easterly zonal wind component, especially north of Alaska and Canada on the order of 40%. This could be interpreted as a diminished contribution to the large scale wind pattern from the positive AO, and support for the AD and more regional variability.” http://tellusa.net/index.php/tellusa/article/download/15661/17553 – Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes are associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice, JAMES E. OVERLAND and MUYIN WANG
“In addition to affecting general atmospheric circulation, short-term weather modifications caused by changes in extent of the ice cover illustrate direct effects. A decrease in area of Arctic ice correlates with a northward shift of storm tracks and a shift of mid-latitude rainfall patterns eastward (Fletcher, 1972; Fletcher and Kelley, 1978). A dramatic example of weather modification is based on satellite data that showed that the ice cover was 12 percent greater in 1971 than in 1970. This produced a surface-heat-exchange deficit for the Arctic that was correlated with anomalous weather patterns in lower latitudes during 1972 and 1973 (Kukla and Kukla, 1974).
“Since the level of Arctic sea ice set a new record low in 2007, significantly above-normal winter snow cover has been seen in large parts of the northern United States, northwestern and central Europe, and northern and central China. During the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, the Northern Hemisphere measured its second and third largest snow cover levels on record.
“Our study demonstrates that the decrease in Arctic sea ice area is linked to changes in the winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation,” said Judith Curry (the uncertainly skeptical darling of climate change denialists), chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. “The circulation changes result in more frequent episodes of atmospheric blocking patterns, which lead to increased cold surges and snow over large parts of the northern continents.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120227111052.htm (And it was atmospheric blocking which led to the recent European heatwave which killed 30,000 people)
“The prediction, one season ahead, of summer heat waves in Europe remains a challenge. A new study led by a French-Swiss team shows that summer heat in Europe rarely develops after rainy winter and spring seasons over Southern Europe. Conversely dry seasons are either followed by hot or cold summers. The predictability of summer heat is therefore asymmetric. Climate projections indicate a drying of Southern Europe. The study suggests that this asymmetry should create a favorable situation for the development of more summer heat waves with however a modified seasonal predictability from winter and spring rainfall.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120527153720.htm
Experiments by J.J. Thomson in 1897 led to the discovery of the electron, one year after Arrhenius predicted that adding CO2 to the atmosphere would decrease the temperature gradient between the equator and the poles.
Thomson’s discovery ultimately led to the intertubes which allow you to read this, (and learn lots of nifty science if you are so inclined.)
The decline in latitudinal gradient resulting from global warming is resulting in more extreme weather events, but because the chaotic nature of atmospheric fluid flow and the butterfly effect, ““Attribution of single extreme events to anthropogenic climate change is challenging.” http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/images/uploads/SREX-SPMbrochure_FINAL.pdf
Ray, if we passed a law that limited corporate profits to historical norms, that might actually work. Legislating physics will never work.
Yet again Dan H. comments are completely the oppoosite of reality. North Carolina paid for a scientific report, and then disregarded it because the scientific reality didn’t fit with their conservative ideals. So they decided to make a law specifically against the scientific assessment that Dan H. pretends the law is based on.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 13 Jun 2012 @ 5:04 PM
>Would you prefer no legislation on coastal building restrictions?
Yes. Yes, I would. That would be far more honest than asking scientists to put together an assessment, and then when you are unhappy with the results to change them and pretend it is scientific. Go ahead and write the legislation however you like, such that it fits with your preconceived ideals. But lawmakers changing the results given by scientists and calling it scientific is as dishonest as claiming they did “more science”. Yet another false claim from Dan H. lacking a source.
Dan H. serves as a good source of bad information for us to continuously debunk, and provides me with an insight into the kinds of misinformation I may encounter in the real world.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 13 Jun 2012 @ 5:14 PM
Where are you getting the idea that the legislature changed the results? The original assessment was based on one report, and neglected others (maybe it fit your own preconceived ideals). Just because further study determined that the first assessment was high, based on the available science , is no reason to call it dishonest. Apparently, everything that is in agreement with your own preconceived ideals must be good science, while anything that does not must be pretend. It must be nice in your own little bubble.
The only thing on which we agree, is that this legislation was unnecessary. However, it was better than the original legislation, which was based on questionable values.
1)Are there long term measurements of OH- radical concentrations over the arctic ? I ask because news of large methane releases coupled with small change in methane concentrations suggest that methane is being efficiently oxidised, so I would expect to see drawdown in OH- concentration.
2)the new Rignot paper suggests that basal sliding is dominant mode of GRIS mass waste. This is surprising to me, could someone knowledgeable comment on the paper ? Is a comparable study of WAIS or EAIS available ?
3)We are wasting time addressing Mr. Dan H. Suggest, as on Usenet, heavy handed moderation, coupled with a request to the commentariat, please do not feed the troll.
Claiming that North Carolina’s legislation requires scientific study is pretty much like having a contract that says “you must take me to the prom in a brand new Porsche” but at the same time says the the “Porsche” must be at least 30 years old and have “Volkswagen Golf” printed on the owners manual. You can call it anything you want, but that won’t change what it is. If your date is blind and deaf (or desperately wants to believe that you’re in a Porsche), you might get away with it.
‘… the conditions that killed the cows were unlike anything local farmers had experienced before.’
‘He says it was a very isolated case of a weather bomb and it wasn’t rain or sleet, but frozen ice going sideways.
“It happened so quickly that these animals, and the herd was on the move, it literally stopped them in their tracks and the ones that stopped couldn’t be encouraged to move again and the situation escalated from there. And a number of the stock remained where they were and subsequently died”.’
Last time I heard of something like that it involved woolly mammoths being snap-frozen into tundra; quite a while back.
Brian Dodge @159
That unsupported assertion that a reduced latitudinal temperature gradient is expected to lead to a reduction in extreme weather is one of the pieces of simplistic nonsense that Lindzen spouts. Like most else in Lindzen’s clownish speechifying, it is entirely contrary to the science as is borne out within the IPCC reports.
However, what is missing is a straightforward reply to Lindzen’s nonsense. The IPCC reports are not appropriate in such a role & I have never come across any good succinct reference that would be. Does anyone know of such a reference?
In the absence of a good reference, rather than resort to AR4.1 ch10, I fight ‘simple’ with ‘simple’.
Linzden insists that, as the temperature difference between tropics and the poles decreases due to AGW, extreme weather will also diminsh. But the temperature difference we see is not what drives weather. Rather, it is what is left after the weather has been driven.
The warming of the poles resulting from AGW requires (& will require) tons more weather to drive polewards from the tropics, more weather not less.
As with so much, on extreme weather Lindzen spouts nonsense.
I’m embroiled in an argument with a co-worker about the impact of CO2 emissions reductions on the planet. Since neither of us really knows anything about the subject, I’d like to solicit at least one professional opinion to help put this to rest.
The line of argument is this:
If a climate treaty can achieve cumulative global CO2 emissions reductions of “X” tons by the year 2100 compared to “business-as-usual”, then the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere at the end of the century should be lower by “Y” ppm. And if CO2 is “Y” ppm lower at the end of the century, then global average temperature should be lower by “Z” degrees.
Can anyone here offer a simple way (using no more than a pocket calculator) to estimate how much X is required to achieve a given Z?
Our biggest area of disagreement involves how much of the incremental X tons of CO2 actually remains in the atmosphere vs. being absorbed by plants and oceans.
Thanks in advance.
Comment by Need to settle an argument — 14 Jun 2012 @ 6:09 AM
Unsettled Scientist, the laws of economics are no less laws than those of physics, at least in the domain where they apply (human commercial interactions). You can no more legislate profits than sea level rise. That is always a red flag when I look at a company’s balance sheet–if things are too regular, something isn’t kosher.
Need@167, I don’t think there is a simple argument, but it is true that decreasing carbon emissions by X tons for n years will decrease the ultimate amount of carbon in the atmosphere by an amount greater than nX tons, as sinks will take up more of the carbon. And if you know the difference in the carbon in the atmosphere, you can estimate the difference in global temperature from the CO2 sensitivity–~3 degrees per doubling.
@”Would you prefer no legislation on coastal building restrictions?”
I would certainly prefer no govt subsidized insurance on coastal areas and in flood plains subject to increased flooding.
As some are wont to say: Let the market decide. Insurance companies are quite aware of the increased risk. It is only govt–i.e., taxpayer–subsidized insurance that allows people who want to build there to ignore what the private market is clearly signalling.
Unfortunately, it is not so easy. Slight reductions in CO2 emissions (low X) would still result in increased atmospheric CO2 (negative Y). Estimates are that CO2 reductions need to be reduced 25% just to achieve stable atmospheric CO2 concentrations (albeit, at a level higher than todays), or 60% to 80% to stabilize CO2 at todays levels (0 Y).
Then, there is the whole issue of Y influencing Z.
Currently, about half the emitted CO2 is being absorbed by plants and oceans. The higher the atmospheric concentration, the greater the absorption. If emissions were to suddenly stop tomorrow, The atmospheric level of CO2 would begin to decline immediately. Higher at first, and then tapering off to reach equilibrium.
Yeah, you’re right, I was thinking more along the lines of legislating prices or salaries. It is possible for governments to freeze prices, but not oceans. Of course corporations will always seek to reduce costs and thus increase profits. Certain jobs can be subjected fixed salary structures that are negotiated, but you can’t negotiate with the Sun or glaciers. That was a sloppy comment by me. My apologies.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 14 Jun 2012 @ 9:24 AM
> So, a century worth of data is now considered “unscientific” and misleading?
With this comment Dan H. is implying that NC legislators have taken more data into account than the scientists who were commissioned to provide the assessment for North Carolina. Yet again, he either failed to read and understand the material on which he is commenting, or he is deliberately trying to confuse RealClimate readers.
“The longest record of direct measurement of sea level comes from tide gauges. A drawback to tide gauges in North Carolina, in addition to their small number, is that most of them don’t extend back in time more than 50 years, making it difficult to resolve changes in the rate of rise over the decades.
The RSL rise record for northern North Carolina was recently extended back in time to AD 1500 using organisms, which are sensitive to the level of the sea and preserved in thick peat deposits, as a proxy for sea level (Kemp et al., 2009).
Four studies provide data on rates of RSL rise in North Carolina. Each covers a different time period, but the studies that cover shorter time intervals are nested within those that cover longer time intervals (12,000 year ago to present, 2,000 years ago to present, 400 years ago to present, and ca. 70 years ago to present. The first three studies utilize geological data whereas the study covering the shortest time interval utilizes instrumental data.”
So the scientific assessment actually used data going back 12 millennia! According to Dan H.’s measuring stick, this perhaps would be 120 times “more scientific” than the legislators mere century of data. That of course means nothing, the scientific assessment was science… the NC legislation is not.
My recommendation to readers of Real Climate is to only pay attention to Dan H. when there is an inline comment from one of the working scientists to run this site. Every so often Dan H. mixes in some real information, so you might see something by him and want to blow it off, but it could be right. It is best to skip over his comments unless they are directly addressed by professionals to avoid being misled.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 14 Jun 2012 @ 9:43 AM
>The original assessment was based on one report, and neglected others
Flat out wrong! Please, just go read it and stop lying. There are numerous studies cited in the assessment…
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 14 Jun 2012 @ 9:46 AM
Dan H wrote: “… further study determined that the first assessment was high, based on the available science …”
That’s a blatant falsehood.
Dan H does one thing and one thing only on this site, and does it again and again and again:
He wastes people’s time with deliberately dishonest bullshit. He doesn’t “argue”. He doesn’t “debate”. He doesn’t “discuss”. He just lies.
Blatantly. Repeatedly. Lies.
Why is this tolerated? Because it’s easier and more comforting to play whack-a-mole with clownishly dishonest deniers than to confront the very harsh realities of AGW?
Need to settle… @169
If by 2100 the cumulative global emissions were “X” billion tonnes CO2 lower than otherwise, atmospheric CO2 would be lower by about 0.45 “X” Gt CO2 (assuming present levels for carbon sinks. From memory, the proportion of CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, cement production & land use changes that remains in the atmosphere since atmospheric CO2 has been measured average out at 43% and that proportion is pretty constant over the period.). Divide by 2.13 x 3.67 to convert to atmospheric ppm(v) = “Y”.
Converting “Y” ppm into “Z” deg C requires more assumptions. Let “Z” be the eventual resultant (equilibrium) reduction in global temperature rise (thus the timing of the reduction relative to 2100 is not a concern). Also assume climate sensitivity as say 3 deg C per 2xCO2 and assume this 2100 CO2 level is not wildly far from the mid-range of 275-550ppm (as, for instance, the same drop in CO2 level at today’s 397ppm would have twice the effect that it would have at 794ppm). Given the above, the estimated reduced temperature “Z” = (3/275) “Y” deg C.
PS This is an entirely amateur answer. If you insist on being provided with a professional opinion, do say and I’ll provide an address for you to send the cheque.
Need to settle an argument says: Can anyone here offer a simple way (using no more than a pocket calculator) to estimate how much X is required to achieve a given Z?
No. As a guide to whether or not you’re wasting your time, I’d suggest that an ingenuous and competent interlocutor in a discussion over the topic won’t insist on such an impossibility.
Ask yourself whether monumental amounts of supercomputer time would be devoted to the topic, if a pocket calculator could produce a useful result?
The good news is that the output of all those calculations can be presented in a fairly accessible way. That leaves the question of whether your discussant is accessible, something with which not even a supercomputer can help.
Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Jun 2012 @ 9:47 AM:
Specifically your statement about Dan H behavior-
“Why is this tolerated? Because it’s easier and more comforting to play whack-a-mole with clownishly dishonest deniers than to confront the very harsh realities of AGW?”
I think another way to look at this situation is that, in light of the fact that the primary problem with advancing the realities of AGW is the denialist agenda of creating doubt, Dan H provides an excellent bad example of denialist strategies. His behaviors include misstatements of fact, unsupported allegations, blatant misinterpretations of citations, bad reasoning skills, and very impolite actions with regard to common rules of conversation, especially scientific dialog. One might suspect that he is working on a profitable Moncton act.
So, my point is that whacking this mole provides a relatively easy model for demonstrating to the general public who come here for answers how simple and dumb much of the information provided by the denialist enterprise is. Just keep your answers to Dan H short and to the point. Whenever you write an essay you are making a troll happy. Steve
Steve Fish wrote: “Dan H provides an excellent bad example of denialist strategies”
Every blog in the universe that discusses anthropogenic global warming is already overwhelmed with virtually identical bad examples.
Dishonest, deliberately time-wasting deniers like Dan H are a dime a dozen.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Jun 2012 @ 12:42 PM
> impolite actions with regard to common rules of conversation,
> especially scientific dialog
Anyone know if there’s a variety of Turing Test meant for scientists?
That would be a simulation of a scientist good enough to would fool people familiar with a scientific subject into continuing a ‘dialog’ about it.
Likely they will announce a mild el-nino in the middle of summer having the usual suspected implications. But in the Arctic it should mean clouds, already the sea ice is at or very near rock bottom extent, more clouds up there is again not so much a bad thing. The #1 player at this time is the high 20 degree sun at the Pole. But even with cloud shade me thinks the extent will beat 2007 come mid-september.
I can easily say that Lindzen, Steve McIntyre and others have used their tenure to bash Climate science and scientists way out of line. I am a bit puzzled why their respective faculties were not complained to. Often I read statements echoing Chomsky defending the most ardent lies as freedom of speech. And that Universities are islands of free speech. Finkelstein colleagues complained to Harvard about Dershowitz asking for his dismissal with respect to a claimed book plagiarism, an academic no no, much unlike climate guys taking punches continuously and their colleagues claiming freedom of speech at schools is paramount. I would say that not punching a complaint back to the schools of origin is denial of freedom of speech, a further self inflicted wound during a boxing match is no good. It does not make sense to allow bad science or behavior go unchecked from institutes flunking students who would write the same thing an exam or act the same way towards professors.
More importantly (or, maybe not. TBD) over on CA, Steve McIntyre has lobbed another spitball (as he would describe it) at paleoclimatology in the form of a 2 millennia reconstruction of the O18/O16 ratio – better known as ‘delta O18’, or ‘dO18’ for short – from the Law Dome ice core in Antarctica, which purports to show a prominent MWP, with temperatures today lower than that.
Of course, WTFUWT has unconditionally reported this as the 57th final nail in the coffin of AGW. But Watts made an assumption about McI’s killer graph that threw most of the thread readers off track. He assumed that the units for the Y axis were in deg C, when in fact they were supposed to be in ‘dO18’, and were indeed labelled as such on the graph, which was a direct copy from the one on CA. Anyway, here is a link to the post on WTFUWT:
Well, Nick stokes roped into the comments, with the observation that it was his understanding that there was a negative correlation between dO18 and temps. As it turns out, this is normally true (as demonstrated by the 2nd graph in the same post). This type of calculation is normally performed by comparing the O18/O16 ratio in calcite-shelled creatures (from ocean sediments) with the O18/O16 ratio in typical seawater. But when we are talking about just precipitation, as is the case with ice core data, then the dO18/temp correlation is indeed reversed, and occurs on a different scale. This fact is driven home by a graph provided by one of the commenters responding to Nick, vis:
June 13, 2012 at 2:37 am
“Not so clear to me. As I recall, d18O correlates negatively with temperature.”
Now… Nick did apologise for his mistake on the thread, but of course, his apology was ignored by all the WTFUWT regulars, because that’s the way they roll. However, this is where it gets interesting, and where I, as a layperson, am a little bit out of my depth…
You can see from the graph that Jerold posted that there is a linear relationship between dO18 and temperature, according to latitude, at any given point in time (and this particular point in time was 1964). So questions arising from all the above for people who have a clue (like the RC team and other regulars here):
1. This linear relationship between dO18 and temps is valid only for locations at >45 deg latitudes, but it obviously flips at some stage, because it gets progressively more negative in ppt (parts per thousand) and correspondingly colder the further you go *south*.
2. Law Dome would appear to be nearly at the South Pole to the casual observer, but it is actually only ~67 deg south. So if you extrapolate from Jerold’s graph, then the dO18 should be ~-33ppt at Law Dome, whereas McI’s graph has it at around -22.25ppt. So there is a disconnect somewhere.
$64000 question: why the disconnect? Is Law Dome an outlier for some reason? Or, is there a big enough difference between now and 1964 to invalidate Jerold’s graph? Or… is this armchair scientist (moi) barking up the wrong tree?
Carbon dioxide belched out by volcanic eruptions during the Permian period could have caused the oceans’ chemistry to change. That’s worrisome because CO2 levels are rising today — thanks to the burning of fossil fuels — and pushing down seawater pH, researchers report online June 8 in Geology.
“The worst biodiversity catastrophe we’ve had in the history of animal life appears to have been associated with ocean acidification and other kinds of environmental changes we anticipate in the coming centuries,” says Jonathan Payne, a paleobiologist at Stanford University.
End-Permian (ca. 252 Ma) carbon isotope, paleobiological, and sedimentary data suggest that changes in ocean carbonate chemistry were directly linked to the mass extinction of marine organisms. Calcium isotopes provide a geochemical means to constrain the nature of these changes. The δ44/40Ca of carbonate rocks from southern China exhibits a negative excursion across the end-Permian extinction horizon, consistent with either a negative shift in the δ44/40Ca of seawater or a change in the calcite/aragonite ratio of carbonate sediments at the time of deposition. To test between these possibilities, we measured the δ44/40Ca of hydroxyapatite conodont microfossils from the global stratotype section and point (GSSP) for the Permian-Triassic boundary at Meishan, China. The conodont δ44/40Ca record shows a negative excursion similar in stratigraphic position and magnitude to that previously observed in carbonate rocks. Parallel negative excursions in the δ44/40Ca of carbonate rocks and conodont microfossils cannot be accounted for by a change in carbonate mineralogy, but are consistent with a negative shift in the δ44/40Ca of seawater. Such a shift is best accounted for by an episode of ocean acidification, pointing toward strong similarities between the greatest catastrophe in the history of animal life and anticipated global change during the twenty-first century.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 14 Jun 2012 @ 9:40 PM
JCH, you might look into whether that ratio varies with elevation as well as with latitude. Just speculating but Law Dome may be subject to several influences that might affect that ratio besides latitude.
“Law Dome, East Antarctica (66°44’S, 112°50’E, 1390 meters above mean sea level)….. negligible melting of the ice sheet surface, low concentrations of impurities, regular stratigraphic layering undisturbed by wind stress at the surface or differential ice flow at depth, and a high snow accumulation rate.” http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/atm_meth/lawdome_meth.html
HAnk asked Anyone know if there’s a variety of Turing Test meant for scientists?
Feynmann said that if you talk to any honest scientist for a short period of time you’ll ask a question the scientist admits not knowing the answer to.
Comment by John E Pearson — 14 Jun 2012 @ 10:53 PM
Please note that I have followed virtually nothing of what SteveM or WUWT have written about this (though I do agree concerning the availability of data)…
… but in general, the d18O of precipitation is not just a function of temperature. This is certainly not the case in the tropics, where you get big “chunks” of convection, and the relationship to temperature becomes spurious. Indeed, d18O left in ice core records or speleothems at low latitudes seems to be much more indicative of rainout upstream (e.g., in the case of South America, rainout over the Amazon basin) or of the Asian monsoon. They are tracers of the hydrological cycle from source to sink, and are affected by fractionation processes along a transit from evaporation to precipitation. This includes evaporation of ‘new water’ along the transit of the air mass, transport from oceanic to continental regions, the exchange of different air masses, orographic lifting, etc. In some cases, the record is seasonally biased to just a few wet months and annual mean information is not retained. It’s a very poor temperature signal in fact (though Lonnie Thompson might disagree) but has been demonstrated in a number of papers (see several of the publications by Mathias Vuille for S. America for example, with whom I’m doing my PhD work, but independent analyses from Kanner et al., 2012, Science, or Pausata et al., 2011, Nat. Geo, and many others). Explanations are often regional rather than local, and are site-specific (see e.g., LeGrande and Schmidt 2009).
At mid to high latitudes, the isotope relationship to temperature (or better yet, precipitation-weighted temperature) seem to be much more robust than in the tropical case, but it is not free from the obvious demand that the isotopes will be modified with changes in the circulation. The temperature relationship has been known since the 1950s, though there are similar issues as above that arise on a region-by-region basis (e.g., whether you are talking about an inland or coastal Antarctic site, there are different moisture transport pathways); moreover, the spatial variation between d18O/dD-temp is not necessarily indicative of the temporal variation (see e.g., Jouzel et al., 1997, JGR; Masson-Delmotte et al., 2008, Journal of Climate). The spatial variation is also location-dependent and can vary with longitude in addition to latitude. The Masson-Delmotte paper is a good review highlighting the importance of both condensation temperature and moisture source in Antarctica (see also Sturm et al 2010, Climate of the Past). There is in fact a lot of literature on this.
For high-accumulation sites (largely in Greenland), independent information can be gathered from inverse borehole thermometry, as well as comparisons as from deep-sea records, but it is now becoming necessary to use isotope-enabled GCMs as a supplement to proxies in order to guide their interpretation. The tropical oxygen isotope relation is what I’m doing my research work on now (Gavin has been very active in this area), and I’m not really familiar with the Law Dome site specifically, though I believe some have interpreted it in terms of circulation variability (e.g., Souney et al 2002) though someone with more experience with that record might have something to add.
A quick summary is that isotopes are just that…isotopes. They aren’t intrinsically “temperature” anymore than the outgoing radiation seen from a satellite is a “temperature,” but it can be a useful and physically-based proxy. There are confounding variables however, and as is the case with science, different scientists are interested in different components of those multiple influences. For isotopes, the extent to which a useful climate record may be extracted, and what climate variable is represented in a record (if any), is not a universal rule of physics. The Deuterium-to-hydrogen isotopic signal on Venus, for example, is a proxy for its atmospheric evolution and slow “evaporation” of atmosphere into outer space.
Hope that is useful. I tried to be a bit more general even though I don’t think I directly answered your question. But, I am a little tired of the blogosphere potshots being thrown around by people with no desire to learn anything about atmospheric physics, and only know how to do statistics on data they don’t understand. It ends up as a usual routine in making unfounded statements concerning proxy interpretation/selection, conspiracy theories to maximize modern warming, and the like.
Thanks for the detailed explanation, Chris. I do grok some of that. Hank’s observation above, about dO18 also being dependent on elevation (and coastal vs. inland, longitude, et. al. as you point out) are also factors that could explain why the dO18 ice core data from Law Dome may not be a good indicator of temperature.
This seems to be a pattern of McIntyre’s over the years: take an isolated data series and run statistical analysis on it with complete (one might even dare say willful!) ignorance of whether or not the data has a scientific basis for being valid. Then jump up and down when there is no hockey stick ensuing from that data, and accuse climatologists of hiding ‘bad results’. Rinse and repeat, yamal, yamal, yamal :-)
Thanks to all who offered their guidance (Ray Ladbury, Hank Roberts, Dan H., MARodger & dbostrom).
MARodger’s approach was the closest to what I was hoping for. (Yes it’s an oversimplification and ignores uncertainties, but for a back-of-the envelope estimate, it’s good enough for amateurs like me.)
So, any serious objections to using the following “back-of-the-envelope” approach, adapted from what MARodger wrote above:
Δ”X” GtCO2 emitted * (40% remaining in atmosphere) / (3.67 tC02/tC) * (2.13 ppm CO2 / GtC) = Δ”Y” ppm CO2
Comment by Need to settle an argument — 15 Jun 2012 @ 10:33 AM
1)It isn’t clear that 40% of CO2 will continue to stay in the atmosphere–it could vary as we stop overwhelming the natural sinks
2)The changes in CO2 emissions will not occur in isolation. For instance, if it is accompanied by a significant decrease in sulfate aerosols (from burning less coal and dirty oil), that could lead to more warming.
> John E Pearson says: 14 Jun 2012 at 10:53 PM
> Feynmann said that if you talk to any honest scientist
> for a short period of time you’ll ask a question
> the scientist admits not knowing the answer to.
But alas, by now, that’s probably been
put into the Turing script. I’ll watch for it though. Thanks.
Another interesting graphic that perhaps McIntyre doesn’t want you to see is that the Law Dome delta 18-O(a somewhat noisy and accumulation rate dependent proxy for temperature) diverges from its bore hole temperature record. http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/lawdome.gif
Borehole temperatures aren’t a proxy, but an actual record of temperature, but with a variable integration time(smoothing) that is depth/age dependent. Which is more trustworthy, borehole temperatures or delta 18-O proxies?
Another source for learning about oxygen isotope thermometry is “High variability of Greenland surface temperature over the past 4000 years estimated from trapped air in an ice core”, Kobashi et.al. http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL049444.pdf – especially section four, Comparison With Oxygen Isotopes of Ice, “However, this measure[d18O in ice] is also affected by changes in moisture source regions, moisture transport pathways and precipitation seasonality such that the application of this metric to temporal variation is more difficult…”
Can anyone remember the Met Office paper from (I think) the 1970s, that very accurately predicted temperature rise? Searched for it but can’t find it, even though I’m sure it was commented on here. Getting weary of “the Met Office is still beating its dog” fiction.
Find the outlier in this chart: http://www.asp.bnl.gov/gallery/zhang1.jpg
Measurements with the aerosol mass spectrometer by many investigators show that organics are the major or dominant aerosol constituent throughout the anthropogenically influenced Northern Hemisphere. From: Zhang et al. (2007) Ubiquity and Dominance of Oxygenated Species in Organic Aerosols in Anthropogenically-Influenced Northern Hemisphere Mid-latitudes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L13801, doi:10.1029/2007GL029979.
There are a number of things about this story that are intriguing/striking.
— Here’s a single event lasting only about 1/2 hour but apparently costing something in the neighborhood of 1/7 of all the weather damage clocked between 1990 and 2010.
— Is it the short duration of this storm that made it so invisible in the national press?
— As far as inland effects of GW go, we focus on flood, drought and temperature extremes. Very little seems to have been written about hail; there’s some indication of growing damage from hail by observation* but surprisingly little formal prognostication of hail in particular**.
— As we see from Dallas, hail is selective in the kind of damage it causes but in places w/lots of expensive things exposed to the sky (Dallas: vehicles) monetary losses can balloon to enormous numbers in only 1/2 hour. Let’s say the final tally for this storm is “only” $1 billion. Repeated $1 billion hailstorms won’t be sustainable.
— Certain neighborhoods in Dallas look as though the clock has been turned back to Spring; vegetation has been almost entirely stripped from trees. Storms like this will completely destroy agricultural crops. What’s the expectation of food loss from these events, going forward?
Color me “surprised” that more energy is not being spent on formal projections of hail activity going forward. As the SE Australia paper below indicates it does not seem intractable.
Muller’s figured out that it takes a significant investment of time and effort to understand the science about climate change well enough to accept that the warnings he’s long been dismissing are serious.
So his advice is that the US should rapidly transfer all we know about fracking for natural gas to China.
Ignoring the warnings*, about potential damage that any biologist and most public health students could explain.
There’s a failure to learn here somehow.
“… In hydraulic fracturing operations, drillers force water and a mixture of chemicals into wells to shatter the shale and free natural gas.
Fracking fluids are believed to contain benzene, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde, methanol, naphthalene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, toluene, xylene, boric acid, hydrochloric acid, isopropanol, and diesel fuel. Drillers are usually not required to disclose the chemicals they use.
The brine that returns to the surface has been found to contain these chemicals and others, including up to 16,000 picoCuries per liter of radium-226 (pdf). The discharge limit in effluent for Radium 226 is 60 pCi/L, and the EPA’s drinking water standard is 5 pCi/L.
A small bit of good news: I just got my copy of The Economist and the cover story is “The Vanishing North: What the melting of the Arctic means for trade, energy, and the environment. A 14-page special report”
The Economist is read by a great many business people.
There was a similar storm in Texas a few months back as well.
Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Jun 2012 @ 10:16 AM
Hank, I saw that article, too, and I’m wondering what point, if any, you’re trying to make. Depending on where you’re standing — in the middle of Manhattan in August sniffing exhaust; on top of Mount Washington in February, blinking at the vista — your intuitions are going to cloud your understanding of climate science in different ways, no? Any attempt to predict a [dire or benign] future will be tough on the D.L.P.F.C., no doubt, which is why I tend to shy away from assured statements on either side of the AGW debate.
Comment by Mertonian Norm — 17 Jun 2012 @ 11:02 AM
Reminded me of this quote by Ulf Merbold Federal Republic of Germany
“For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light—our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance.”
…interesting, but the choice of visualization is a bit misleading: the eye probably responds more to area inside each line, and since the scale is radius = area, not area= = area, it doesn’t quite match. E.g., 12=4×3, but the area on the graph where r=12 covers 16x the area of where r=3.
van der Leun @ 218, thanks for sharing that article. These approaches always seem rather tepid given the threat we face, but then I recall that even much more modest goals have proven impossible to achieve.
What is missing is any discussion of curtailment. We simply can’t get where we need to be with efficiency and renewables, as far as I can see. We have to greatly down-size the scale of our use of energy and materials. Only then do these other approaches look like they could be scaled up in time to sustain something resembling global civilization.
For example, how much international air travel is really needed to keeping the game going, especially in the age of skipe?
How many other functions can we quickly and relatively painlessly do without?
How much of the night lighting that lights up so much of the globe in those satellite pictures of earth from space is really necessary?
How much meat and dairy do people need to be eating to be healthy?
How many of us really need private cars (especially if we have a rapid scale-up of public transport and bike/walk-friendliness of cities)?
If we really examine everything that we do and use, I think we can find lots of things and activities that we can do without without creating a large negative effect on happiness and health, and often with improvements.
Somehow we have to get into the mindset of the British in WWII who reduced domestic use of petrol by 95% and made many other radical changes in lifestyles! We are, after all, facing an even more dire existential threat today than they were then. “Sacrifices” must be part of the picture. By the way, many health indicators improved for Brits during WWII–it turns out that eating a lot less meat and dairy than were in the average diet, and getting a lot more exercise than were common in most people’s lifestyles, are good for health and happiness, as is having a strong sense of everyone coming together to sacrifice together for a larger purpose. Surprise, surprise.
But instituting such measure do pose greater challenges for implementation than the “wedges” proposed here.
The other thing we have to honestly start talking about is phasing out nearly all extraction of fossil fuels. A start, of course, is to stop subsidizing their extraction. But then we have to quickly phase out their use, especially coal and tar-sands oil. A start might be to re-lable them ‘death fuels’ since they are the major culprit driving the death spiral we are in.
A couple more astronaut quotes describing the fragility of the atmosphere, and one from Edgar Mitchell thrown in. There are many more.
“On the one hand, we can see how indescribably beautiful the planet that we have been is, but on the other hand, we can really, clearly see how fragile it is. The atmosphere for instance. The atmosphere when viewed from space is paper thin, and to think that this paper thin layer is all that separates every living thing from the vacuum of space and all that protects us is really a sobering thought.” – Ron Garan
“Looking outward to the blackness of space, sprinkled with the glory of a universe of lights, I saw majesty—but no welcome. Below was a welcoming planet. There, contained in the thin, moving, incredibly fragile shell of the biosphere is everything that is dear to you, all the human drama and comedy. That’s where life is; that’s were all the good stuff is. — Loren Acton
“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.'” — Edgar Mitchell
Could someone please explain what appears to be a discrepancy between the GISS data for the Arctic during May (showing 0.2C+ above average) and the data from the DMI which shows May temps below average?
[Response: You have to know what you are looking at before it is worth looking into why the numbers might be different (if indeed they are). The GISTEMP product only uses surface station data and for the Arctic, this all comes from GHCN, interpolated where possible to fill areas of no-data (within a radius of 1200km). A smaller radius of influence doesn’t really affect the Arctic mean – just the coverage, so the warmth with respect to 1951-1980 (about 1.5 to 1.8ºC) is coming from the stations themselves. The DMI graph you are looking at is something else entirely. Their ‘average’ is from a different time period (1957-2002), and from a reanalysis product (ERA-40). The reanalysis assimilates observations into a weather forecast model to produce a blended product of the model and the observed data. Unfortunately, there can be trends in reanalysis products that are due to the different amounts of data in the earlier periods compared to the later periods which have nothing to do with climate change. Also, the difference between different reanalyses can often be profound, and again nothing to do with climate. In the DMI figure, they are comparing the current weather forecast (the ‘analysis’) with an old reanalysis, without any assessment of whether there are systematic differences that might affect the trends. This is most likely the source of the perceived discrepancy. – gavin]
1) Since the DMI mean includes the 80s and 90s–each the ‘hottest decade on record’ in its time–and GHCN doesn’t, one would expect the DMI ‘mean’ to be significantly higher.
2) The DMI data includes very little land–only the northernmost bits of the Canadian archipelago, Greenland, Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, and Severnaya Zemlya are north of the 80th parallel, which is the southerly (and only!) limit for the data you mention:
GISTEMP, by contrast–and as Gavin mentioned–is drawn from land-based data only.
You could play around with the data a bit–for instance, you could deal with concern #1 by adjusting the numbers to reflect the different baselines–just add an appropriate offset to the DMI mean. But you’d have to calculate an actual number for May 2012 in DMI for that to be much help, which I think would mean going to the data underlying the graph in the link.
(That’s a task highly dependent on your ability as a numerical analyst–it’d be a big job for me, but I know there’s no shortage of folks who could do it in–well, maybe not a heartbeat, but just a few of them. The data is available via the DMI link and backlinks, IIRC, but for efficiency you’d need appropriate routine(s) to download, format and crunch.)
Lovelock: “Adapt and survive,” he says” …. “if that’s the way the flow is going, don’t stop it, let’s encourage it. Instead of trying to save the planet by geo-engineering or whatever, you merely have to air-condition the cities.”
Notice how similar to the repubs:
“Despite conceding that our consumption of fossil fuels is causing serious damage and despite implying that current policy is inadequate, the Report fails to take the next step and recommend serious alternatives. Rather, it suggests that we simply need to accommodate to the coming changes. For example, reminiscent of former Interior Secretary Hodel’s proposal that the government address the hole in the ozone layer by encouraging Americans to make better use of sunglasses, suntan lotion and broad-brimmed hats, the Report suggests that we can deal with heat-related health impacts by increased use of air-conditioning … Far from proposing solutions to the climate change problem, the Administration has been adopting energy policies that would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions. Notably, even as the Report identifies increased air conditioner use as one of the ‘solutions’ to climate change impacts, the Department of Energy has decided to roll back energy efficiency standards for air conditioners. Letter from 11 State Attorneys General to George W. Bush.”
The right likes to target “icons” on the left in hopes of making the rest fall. What they fail to realize is that people on the left tend to be much more independent thinking then the right, the cult of personality, of John Wayneism, is not as strong. Still it’s scary to think the fate of this lovely planet and all of its members is in the hands of such a fickle species.
“… Sivan Kartha, a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute, … laid out the stark logic of the equity-to-ambition link.
Kartha showed that, if we’re to avoid climate catastrophe, developing-country emissions will have to peak while their per-capita incomes are still extremely low.
This, in a way, is the whole problem, or at least the part that’s visible above the surface….
Kartha is an author of the Greenhouse Development Rights framework … as well as a coordinating lead author of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group III, Chapter 4, Sustainable Development and Equity).
That a steep drop in ice cover about now was really quite predictable the minute it became clear that there was a lot of excess ice this year (western arctic) that was sure to melt out come spring. It made reading various denier blogs a few months ago rather funny.
This paper shows that in the Miocene, when atmospheric CO2 levels were 400-600 ppm, the edge of Antarctica was vegetated, with high temperatures as high as 45ºF, which would greatly reduce the amount of ice. Since we are already above 390 ppm of atmospheric CO2, this seems a significant finding.
It’s all in the preserved plant wax and pollen from undersea sediment samples. Don’t you just love paleobotany!
The average global temps during the Middle Miocene are said to have been 3 °C hotter than today. This paper is saying “~11 °C warmer at the vegetated margins of Antarctica during the Middle Miocene than over the ice-covered margins today.”
Pretty high. I wonder if this impacts the average global temps.
Reading about DoE’s shiny new 16 petaflop computer led me to wonder just how efficiently climate models can exploit their own hardware,* which led me to this excellent chart on climate model architecture, with an accompanying excellent article.
Still wondering about what happens when a petaflop of potential collides with a climate model. How satisfactory are compilers, how much interplay is there between model authors and compiler elves, is portability sometimes sacrificed in order to push code closer to the metal, etc.
*(DoE’s machine is mostly in aid of imagining direct heating of the Earth by anthropogenic fusion, as opposed to indirect heating by the Sun)
Anybody want to discuss the Younger Dryas? Ok, then, how about the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis controversy. Or how about the Glacial Lake Agassiz rerouting and catastrophic Moorehead phase discharge controversy? Anybody?
Didn’t think so. I guess it’s back to the boring and mundane for me then.
“All of which is a fine illustration of the climate crisis as “the commons problem from hell.”
So what’s the prospect? Are we doomed to perpetual deadlock? I don’t think so. I think in fact that if the world’s more enlightened elites could somehow contrive, or be forced, to put real finance and technology support on the barrel head, we might yet be able to make progress. We do, after all, have lots of interests in common. That’s the nice thing about an emergency!
Also, there’s no necessary conflict between “Every country should do its fair share” and “Every country should do all that it can.” We could pursue both tracks simultaneously, working around domestic constraints – and we all have them – as best we can. We could do so, successfully, as long as we do so in good faith. “Good faith,” of course, doesn’t come easy, but those are the real magic words. As we head farther out into the post-Copenhagen badlands, we’re all going to have to have a big think about whose “negotiating strategy” fits the bill.
It’ll be a hard think, but equity principles and indicators can help.”
Worn down by hope. That’s the predicament of those who have sought to defend the earth’s living systems. Every time governments meet ….
We know it’s rubbish, …. the UN secretary-general, whose job obliges him to talk nonsense in an impressive number of languages, will explain that the unresolved issues (namely all of them) will be settled at next year’s summit. …. until the delegates, surrounded by rising waters, have eaten the last rare dove, exquisitely presented with an olive leaf roulade. The biosphere, that world leaders promised to protect, is in a far worse state than it was 20 years ago. Is it not time to recognise that they have failed?
….The past 20 years have been a billionaires’ banquet. At the behest of corporations and the ultra-rich, governments have removed the constraining decencies – the laws and regulations – which prevent one person from destroying another. To expect governments funded and appointed by this class to protect the biosphere and defend the poor is like expecting a lion to live on gazpacho.
…. the word “equitable”, the US insists, must be cleansed from the text. So must any mention of the right to food, water, health, the rule of law, gender equality and women’s empowerment. So must a clear target of preventing two degrees of global warming. So must a commitment to change “unsustainable consumption and production patterns” and to decouple economic growth from the use of natural resources.
…. The paranoid, petty, unilateralist sabotage of international agreements continues uninterrupted. To see Obama backtracking on the commitments made by Bush the elder 20 years ago is to see the extent to which a tiny group of plutocrats has asserted its grip on policy.
…. So this is the great question of our age: where is everyone? …. When a few hundred people do make a stand – as the Occupy campers have done – the rest of the nation just waits for them to achieve the kind of change that requires the sustained work of millions.
Without mass movements, without the kind of confrontation required to revitalise democracy, everything of value is deleted from the political text. But we do not mobilise, perhaps because we are endlessly seduced by hope. Hope is the rope on which we hang.
It was hard to choose which part of the stellar and scorching language to leave out!
I had been checking NSIDC to see if/when we would fall to a record minimum sea ice extent for the date and it looks like we have now done so. There’s no guarantee of a new seasonal minimum, of course, but it is interesting to watch.
3231 sidd: Thanks for spotting that. Straneo’s pubs page has a lot of material, although the most pertinent paper doesn’t seem to be available yet. I don’t recall hearing anything previously about that particular GIS drainage glacier, but with 1.5 meters of SLR locked up in its basin and documented active undermining by warming Atlantic waters it obviously bears close watching.
This is an own goal as far as climate credibility is concerned and far worse than any oil funded campaign. The mistakes that occurred last time grey literature was included will almost certainly happen again.
If you want to seem credible, then you will now need to distance yourself from some of what the IPCC says, and criticize it when it obviously gets things wrong.
Climate scientists are likely to face charges of putting politics before science, following two controversial decisions…
Controversial because Fred Pearce decided so.
Notice how there were no actual quotes, just a mention of “some people?” No problem; we understand that’s because dissenters are cowering in fear lest IPCC shocktroops in Kevlar and ceramic armor break down their doors in the middle of the night and drag them away to Pachuri’s secret lair hidden beneath a burgeoning Himalayan glacier.
Good ol’ Fred, always casting his net for wider readership.
At least it’ll give the contrarians something to hyperventilate over. Buy futures in smelling salts.
I sincerely hope that you don’t mind that I am unconcerned. I do remain highly concerned about the immediate global and local effects of the now well demonstrated human induced climate change and global warming.
Seriously, this thing has reached a level where the IPCC is irrelevant.
What they do or say isn’t going to change any physics or biology.
And the rest of the extraordinarily meticulous and hence cumbersome process can be traced using the search facility here.. None of this is really amenable to a breathless 1/2 page treatment in New Scientist.
“Air-conditioning sales are growing 20 percent a year in China and India, as middle classes grow, units become more affordable and temperatures rise with climate change. The potential cooling demands of upwardly mobile Mumbai, India, alone have been estimated to be a quarter of those of the United States.
Air-conditioning gases are regulated primarily though a 1987 treaty called the Montreal Protocol, created to protect the ozone layer. It has reduced damage to that vital shield, which blocks cancer-causing ultraviolet rays, by mandating the use of progressively more benign gases. The oldest CFC coolants, which are highly damaging to the ozone layer, have been largely eliminated from use; and the newest ones, used widely in industrialized nations, have little or no effect on it.
But these gases have an impact the ozone treaty largely ignores. Pound for pound, they contribute to global warming thousands of times more than does CO2, the standard greenhouse gas.
Indeed, the leading scientists in the field have just calculated that if all the equipment entering the world market uses the newest gases currently employed in air-conditioners, up to 27 percent of all global warming will be attributable to those gases by 2050.”
“This is an own goal as far as climate credibility is concerned and far worse than any oil funded campaign. The mistakes that occurred last time grey literature was included will almost certainly happen again.”
You know, given that one of the essential problems of creating a useful agreement is to get the developing world on board, it seems to me that taking pains to listen to their people and their points of view really might not be such a bad idea.
And the use of grey literature wasn’t really the problem with the ‘mini-Gates’; it was the MIS-use of grey literature. Peer-reviewed literature, too, can be distorted, poorly cited, misunderstood or misquoted. It’s the scholarship that must be held to the highest standard. If that is done, then any relevant ‘grey literature’ can safely be evaluated on its merits.
Agreed. However, ‘grey literature’ should be under higher scrutiny, as it has not undergone any peer-review. On the surface, there is no reason why grey literature should be any less reliable than peer-reviewed sources. But since it has not undergone independent review (please no comments about whether the current peer-review is truly independent), the material needs to be reviewed much more closely. This is true particularly in light of the problems generated based on the previous use of grey literature. This was compounded by statements that only peer-reviewed research was used. I think the real problem with the ‘mini-Gates’ was the use of grey literature over other documented research. When grey literature clashes with other research, I would be hard pressed to choose the grey results.
You are probably tired of debunking this stuff. But do you have any thoughts on the latest attempts by McKitrick to attribute regional temperature trends to socio-economic changes? I fail to see how socio-economic changes explain the warming over remote areas, such as the oceans and the Arctic.
He also seems to be floating a red herring when he claims that the GCMs are not good at predicting regional changes. We know that, but what is his point when it comes to reducing GHG emissions? That we do nothing?
Sadly the National Post in Canada has been providing McKitrick with a podium from which to spread his misguided science and opinions, so it would be nice to have a rebuttal from a respected and informed source such as RC. Thank you.
[Response: McKitrick is nothing if predictable. He makes the same conceptual error here as he made in McKitrick and Nierenberg, McKitrick and Vogel and McKitrick, McIntyre and Herman. The basic issue is that for short time scales (in this case 1979-2000), grid point temperature trends are not a strong function of the forcings – rather they are a function of the (unique realisation of) internal variability and are thus strongly stochastic. With the GCMs, each realisation within a single model ensemble gives insight into what that internal variability looks like, but McKitrick averages these all together whenever he can and only tests the ensemble mean. Ironically then, the models that provide the greatest numbers of ensemble members with which to define the internal variability, are the ones which contribute nothing to his analysis. He knows this is an error since it has been pointed out to him before and for McKitrick and Nierenberg and McKitrick, McIntyre and Herman he actually calculated the statistics using individual runs. In neither case did those results get included in the papers. The results of those tests in the M&N paper showed that using his exact tests some of the model runs were ‘highly significantly’ (p<0.01!!) contaminated by 'socio-economic' factors. This was of course nonsense, and so are his conclusions in this new paper. There are other issues, but his basic conceptual error is big one from which all other stem. - gavin]
Russell wrote: “You should be very concerned about this:”
Concern troll is concerned.
I, on the other hand, am not much concerned about another baseless attack on the IPCC. It’s little more than lowbrow infotainment for the denialist ditto-heads at this point.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Jun 2012 @ 10:12 AM
Dan H wrote: “When grey literature clashes with other research, I would be hard pressed to choose the grey results.”
We all know all too well what kind of “results” you like to “choose”.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Jun 2012 @ 10:57 AM
Thank you very much for your response. I suspected as much. Anything to ignore the increase in ocean heat content, rapidly diminishing Arctic sea ice and increase in extreme events, that and to fabricate doubt and uncertainty. I thought good researchers learned from their mistakes? Evidently, that does not apply to McKitrick…
Somebody: However, ‘grey literature’ should be under higher scrutiny, as it has not undergone any peer-review.
Yes, and if we bother to look at the IPCC session notes and other documentation (above), we see that IPCC has taken great pains to ensure that going forward grey literature is more fully treated as a special case, to be integrated with greater caution.
“Some critics” find the notion of IPCC’s having exerted a lot of effort to improve its process “controversial.” Fred Pearce could not or would not name these critics so we must take his word on the authenticity of the “controversy” and somehow fit that unsupported assertion with the ease with which he obtained quotes from people prepared to clarify IPCC’s approach.
Read the IPCC documentation or obey rumors. I choose the IPCC documentation because it’s more transparent than Fred Pearce, has the excellent virtue of demonstrated existence.
When grey literature clashes with other research, I would be hard pressed to choose the grey results.
But you have no problem making nutty pronouncements contrary to well established science or extremely clear specific results over and over again, even after your errors are pointed out to you in no uncertain terms.
IMHO (with the emphasis on humble) it is a mistake to label Russell a concern troll, even if he *has* gone astray following Fred Pearce’s lead – bad idea. Kevin McKinney (in the same HO) has nailed it, and Dan H. has demonstrated his usual acuity in making the worst possible construction, which should be a kind of punishment all on its own.*
On climate science, as far as I’ve been able to tell (and I’m a fan, both of his art and writing, though both are excessively literate in a follower of dead white European male kind of what – “if you’re anxious for to shine, in a high aesthetic line” (Patience, G&S)), he’s got his head screwed on right, and as a true Republican but honest scientist, is one of our national treasures.
I’d agree, however, with all the points made and disagree strongly with the “own goal” statement and the mistake of taking Fred Pearce’s word as reliable and/or unbiased.
PS. R may even regard this defense as another kind of punishment!
Comment by Susan Anderson — 21 Jun 2012 @ 12:23 PM
typos, aargh, please ignore. Moving on, a question about pyrocumulus clouds (fire clouds, pyrocumulonimbus clouds, also in the mix).
Here’s a question arising from Earth Observatory’s posts about the Colorado and Siberian fires and pyrocumulus clouds. Following are some links and if anyone who knows their stuff can help with real knowledge it would be helpful. The idea is that these clouds may become another nasty kind of feedback loop. A well qualified meteorologist of my acquaintance has thrown fuel rather than water on the idea, dashing my hopes of being off the wall in thinking it might not be true.
Large fires can create their own weather by rapidly heating the air above them. The heated air rises with smoke until water vapor in the air condenses into a puffy cloud. An odd-looking puff of white capping a dark column of smoke is the sign of a fire-formed, or pyrocumulus cloud.
Occasionally, if the superheated air rises fast and high enough, it forms a towering thundercloud. Like the thunderstorms that form on a hot summer’s day, the tops of these cauliflower-shaped clouds reach high enough into the atmosphere that ice crystals form. Those ice crystals electrify the cloud, creating lightning. Called pyrocumulonimbus clouds, the clouds are capable of dangerous lightning, hail, and strong winds. One such firestorm in 2003 pelted Canberra, Australia, with large, soot-darkened hail, produced a damaging tornado, and generated strong winds that caused the fire to explode into neighborhoods in the capital city.
Pyrocumulonimbus cloud above Canberra, Australia.
A pyrocumulonimbus cloud towers over thick smoke from fires burning near Canberra, Australia on January 18, 2003. The umbrella-shaped cloud brought strong winds that helped the fires explode into the city. (Photograph copyright New South Wales Rural Fire Service.)
As dangerous and destructive as pyrocumulonimbus-driven storms can be, the giant clouds also act like a chimney, sucking smoke high into the atmosphere. After the Canberra fires, the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (OMI’s predecessor) detected extremely high levels of aerosols in the atmosphere. NASA’s Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE III ) satellite confirmed that the smoke from Canberra’s firestorm had reached the stratosphere.
Was OMI’s observation this summer an indicator that a similar firestorm had erupted in Russia? Fromm suspected that it was, and he set out to find proof of a pyrocumulonimbus cloud in other satellite data.
Examples from the last few days:
The quote above was found in a link from a recent Earth Observatory post on the Colorado wildfire, which in turn was inspired by this “Siberia Burns”Image of the Day yesterday
The NOAA’s National Climate Data Center recently announced that the last 12 months were the warmest on record in the “contiguous” U.S., extending the 2011-12 hot streak that has now eclipsed the previous record in 1999-2000 by a half degree Fahrenheit. Apparently, that was just too much for the Heartland Institute’s James Taylor who used his regular column in Forbes magazine to accuse the NOAA of “doctoring real-world temperature data”. According to Taylor, the “alarmists” at NOAA “simply erase the actual readings and substitute their own desired readings in their place”.
But it turns out that Taylor’s source is none other than hapless climate blogger Steven Goddard, who recently leveled incoherent and unsupported false accusations against James Hansen and NASA’s Gistemp record, as well as NOAA. Goddard also relies on the same reviled NOAA data in his botched attempt to buttress his case that NASA is “hiding” an 80 year cooling trend. Never mind that the U.S. “lower 48″ represents less than 2% of the Earth’s surface area in any event, or that past attempts to show U.S. cooling have been proven utterly wrong.
If Forbes has a shred of integrity, this sorry episode will surely result in an abject retraction and apology to NOAA, along with the banishment of Heartland from the magazine’s pages. And it’s also high time reputable commentators in the mainstream media called out the irresponsible behaviour of Forbes and other right-wing media.
Regarding the latest McKitrick paper: I’m also confused by his inclusion of the MSU lower tropospheric temperature data. There are two obvious ways that it could have been used, but I can’t tell that which (if either) of those ways actually reflected the paper result.
Way 1: It is a another variable to be fed into the statistic-o-matic process. If he’s doing this, that seems crazy, because of course the tropospheric temperatures should correlate with the surface temperatures.
Way 2: He’s independently correlating his variables with lower trop data because a good correlation there would indicate that it isn’t just UHI, since UHI shouldn’t contaminate the troposphere. Or he’s seeing if GCMs do a good job of replicating tropospheric temps in addition to surface temps. But no indication that he did either of these analyses in the text.
So, am I missing something here?
[Response: “Way 1”. It’s there because if you did a straight correlation of his socio-economic variables with the MSU-TLT data you get a strong and highly significant correlation (stronger than with the surface data). So by his logic that would imply the MSU data is tainted by ‘educational attainment’ or ‘GDP growth’. Since that would be absurd, it doesn’t get mentioned. Instead, it is, as you say, one more variable in the ‘stats-o-matic’. – gavin
DeepClimate: But it turns out that Taylor’s source is none other than hapless climate blogger Steven Goddard…
Speaking of Steven Goddard, what’s the deal w/his blogs? The eponymous Steven Goddard site of late seems to have become a rapid-fire meme machine, while the Real-Science site went through a similar paroxysm (mostly of ancient headlines about weather) then of late has slowed down to a more normal rate.
Deep Climate really seems to get under the skin of whatever entity is running those sites.
The two sites seem tied to and supplied by the same inexhaustible pool of jackalope scientistical constructs but are running in opposite phases as far as volume of ejecta goes.
My first impression is that he only looks at one specific absorbtion band for CO2 and when he applies his result to the real atmosphere he seems to ignore all other absorbing gasses as well as the properties of the earths spectrum.
I would be very interested in comments on this from physicists with strong knowledge about spectroscopy.
256 dbostrom — “There’s a new mess in town: “Air-conditioning sales are growing 20 percent a year in China and India, as middle classes grow, units become more affordable and temperatures rise with climate change.”
J Bowers says: A positive [HCFC-22] anthropogenic feedback.
Thoughtful commentary on this from the Knight Science Journalism Tracker.
C02 has made a bit of a comeback as a refrigerant; better materials science makes it more tractable. There’s an efficiency cost but the numbers are such that working out what’s better seems like a challenging accounting problem; it’s not plainly obvious whether more cumbersome (and patented) molecules are a clear winner.
Sequester C02 in cooling systems? “Here, you -must- take this air conditioner.” Just kidding. :-)
Heinz Hug makes the mistake of not being familiar with even the fundamentals of climate science. Search “saturated gassy argument” at this website. That such an “article” could exist in a “skeptic” website is all you need to know about the validity of denial.
Air conditioners run on power, a lot of it. More consumption, more pollution. The argument about refrigerants and closed systems doesn’t affect that part of it. The hotter it gets, the more power coming from fossil fuels, until the source problems are fixed. Seems we’re going backwards on that part thanks to the knowledge-destroying powers of PR and ostrich government.
That said, I sympathize with the Indians and other hot climate sufferers around the globe who say, you’ve got yours and you don’t want us to have the same comforts, hypocrites.
It’s not really about costs, it’s about revenue– lack of it.
Read the article and learn how our fleet of air tankers numbers fewer than a dozen now and are mostly over 50 years old. It’s shameful on many levels.
“The contractor-owned planes, refurbished from military use and leased by the United States Forest Service, have been hobbled by accidents and mechanical problems, leading to growing safety concerns and calls for a major overhaul. A decade ago, the government had 44 large tanker planes at its command. Now, with fires raging from California to Colorado to Wyoming, the regular fleet is down to nine.
“The bottom line is the fires are getting bigger as the fleet gets smaller,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and the chairman of the Senate’s forestry subcommittee. “That is a pres-cription for trouble.”
Modern airplanes are available, some able to skim up a bellyful of water from a lake without even stopping to land and thus to conduct dozens of drops a day, but these are too expensive for the private contractors who fly the forest missions. Even the supply of younger military hand-me-downs has dried up. “There are no lightweight bombers being surplused anymore,” said Vincent Ambrosia, a forest fire expert at NASA.
The antisubmarine planes now in use, including the one that Mr. Buxton-Carr watched taking off here, were declared surplus after the Navy began replacing them with the P-3 Orion in the 1960s.
So far this year, attrition has reduced the fleet by three. In early June, one tanker attempting a low-altitude bombing run in western Utah hit the rising terrain and crashed, killing the two pilots on board. Another was forced into a hard touchdown after its landing gear failed to deploy. A third was grounded after its owners discovered a “significant crack” during an inspection, federal officials said.”
In Europe sane taxation still exists. Europe has a modern fleet of air tankers. It’s not a coincidence.
I wonder how GE could vend goods and services to the government if <a href="nobody paid taxes? Sure, GE creates jobs but by the same logic so do we all; we vend our services, spend the proceeds, create a multiplier effect.
[Response: The experimental design for these project was based on the need to sample a wide range of uncertainty – in models, forcings and observational data. The point is not to decide a priori which forcing reconstruction is correct and have everyone use that (since that is practically impossible), but rather to see whether we can explore what difference any of the reconstructions make so that we can assess whether any model/observations mismatch can be related to that (or to problems in the models, or in problems with the observations, or all of the above). So adding the Shaprio et al reconstruction to the possibilities was not a hard decision, despite my misgivings about there methodology. I will be astounded if using this gives the best match to observations, but it might be useful in bracketing ranges of behaviour. No external pressure required! – gavin]
Susan; the fire situation is complex. Throughout the west after a century of fire suppression efforts there are now several factors that are combining to make fires ever more complex and destructive: the fire suppression has been if anything, too effective, many forests have been impacted more by the absence of fire than the Smokey bear effect, there are accumulations of too much fuel, this is complicated by a climate change trifecta, earlier snowmelt, longer hotter summers and insect infestations leading to extensive stands of dead and dying trees. This is true for the ongoing Colorado fire which has extensive stands of impacted Lodgepole Pine, but these conditions extend throughout the Northern Rockies well up into Canada. Add to this the vast number of people who’ve moved into the “wildland urban interface”, cutbacks in the Forest Service and the aging air tanker fleet and you can see it’s going to be a loooong hot summer.
in reading about climate reconstruction in various blogs i find that i am missing a lot of background material in order to understand the science issues involved.
i think discussions would benefit immensely if we had a beginner’s resource or primer to refer to in these discussions.
one request i have is if you could contemplate a series of post detailing how single and multi-proxy reconstructions are done and interpreted by the community.
these should include strong emphasis on the concepts, ideas, assumptions in a reconstruction with plenty of references to the primary literature and toy examples (or real examples taken from past work).
i am also wondering if you would consider it a next book project along the lines of David Archer “Global Warming: understanding the forecast”.
“I ask Inhofe if he’s noticed any climate changes in his home state, such as last summer’s unprecedented heat and severe drought, withering crops, wild fires and dramatically expanded tornado season. “There’s not been any warming,” he snaps. “And there’s actually been a little bit of cooling.”
Good idea, but first check what is already here. I did a Hank and put your phrase “single and multi-proxy reconstructions” into the RC site search window and, after dodging the “Browse multi proxy reviews, deals, coupons, and more” and “Meet singles for free,” thoughtfully provided by Google Ads, I found- http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/09/progress-in-millennial-reconstructions/ -and 52 other articles. While you wait for just the right RC post, check out the existing ones.
Actually, I’m up on our idiot failures in finance, feeding the looting classes and starving our services, and some of the factors contributing to fire escalation including insect damage and human control freakism (no longer allowing or setting small fires to prevent the bigger ones later). I included the NYT article, which I had read carefully, because all these things are related.
It was the pyrocumulu(nimbu)s clouds that I wanted more info about or a place to look them up. The videos provide visual evidence that they are relatively local, as they need moisture to spread. Nonetheless, the resemblance to atomic explosions is stomach-churning. As my meteorologist friend did not dampen my nightmares but suggested Dresden and Tokyo as metaphors, I was looking for more information before I went off the reservation.
Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Jun 2012 @ 10:38 AM
Thanks to Tokodave as well. Good summary.
It is hard not to talk about political idiocy when it crosses these dangerous boundaries and tries to legislate reality, which is despite our magic thinking not equipped with a human brain or sympathy, and is busy evolving ways to reject our multiplicitous stupidities.
When we think we are too smart to have to pay attention, we are in real trouble.
Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Jun 2012 @ 10:42 AM
Susan, I don’t know anything about pyrocumulonimbus clouds other than what my intuition says but if you’re wondering about lofting stuff into the upper atmosphere Google Scholar show some full text articles available:
It certainly isn’t flattering to the denialati, but I think far more charitable than history (or perhaps eventually the civil courts) will be.
If one finds one must threaten violence in defense of one’s position, that is one of the surest signs that one is in the wrong. Truth needs no defense. It merely needs people with sufficient integrity and courage to proclaim it, regardless of threats or risks.
I fear we will lose some good people before the truth prevails. The denialists have nothing reasonable left to throw, and they are left with nothing but threats, intimidation and violence as their weapons. These weapons cannot prevail, because the truth will not be silenced no matter how many they kill.
Ray: …far more charitable than history (or perhaps eventually the civil courts) will be.
I think the author did a great job of letting the wrong speak for themselves, no favor at all when handled correctly as in the case of the article.
I fear we will lose some good people before the truth prevails.
W/hatemongers like Joe Bastardi feeding the instability of crazy people by analogizing earth sciences researchers with serial rapists of children it’s hard to say how far the outer limits of the bell curve of “wrong” might extend.
Bastardi and the denizens of his particular level really do need to stop but their blindness means they simply don’t understand that, and can’t be told.
This page is yet another crackpot trying to debunk the importance of the greehouse effect, but it’s too embedded in mathturbation and presumptuous nonsense for me to see thorugh. I know there’s a fundamental fault somewhere – if someone trained in physics could please take a quick read-through and point it out svp, I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance!
“The above analysis appears to indicate that the warming of the earth by Greenhouse gases takes place through the effects of downward radiation to which the atmosphere is transparent, arising from molecular emissions at frequencies outside the resonance bands of any atmospheric gases, which could include those not nominated as being a GHG. It further shows that the actual level of GHGs in the atmosphere, which are those gases
capable of absorbing any radiation of a frequency lying within the range of the blackbody spectrum from a temperature corresponding to that of the earth‟s surface in any region and therefore covering a range of about -50
oC to 50oC, (or 223 K to 323 K), is almost of no consequence in determining the increase in surface temperature from the Greenhouse effect. It is thus apparent that Greenhouse gases act only as a conduit through which flows the radiation energy captured initially by certain gases in the
atmosphere. It moves from the internal energy of the absorbing gases into a relatively stable thermalised volume of local air”.
Lorius’ friend quotes:”The above analysis appears to indicate that the warming of the earth by Greenhouse gases takes place through the effects of downward radiation to which the atmosphere is transparent,”
Given that the amount of downward radiation to which the atmosphere is transparent has been roughly constant over 50 years, that can’t explain why the temperature changed.
That’s old, by John Nicol (emeritus physicist); you can find it about 2,990 places online right now. No point trying to chase down all of the copies. The sites that love that kind of stuff feature it prominently.
That’s part of a series, worth serious attention. Another part says:
“… Though regulated under different laws than waste injection wells, gas storage wells operate under similar principles and assumptions: that deeply buried layers of rock will prevent injected substances from leaking into water supplies or back to the surface.
In this case the injected material had done everything that scientists usually describe as impossible: It migrated over a large distance, travelled upward through rock, reached the open air and then blew up.
The case, described as “a continuing series of geologic surprises and unexpected complexities” by the Kansas Geological Survey, flummoxed some of the leading injection experts in the world….”
Also, when someone claims to refute a conclusion accepted by thousands of scientists over many years that have published many research papers on the basis of a simple point that they have all seem to have missed, I just ignore them. It doesn’t help the article any that it is poorly written and edited, has no references, and was not presented as peer reviewed and published in a respectable journal. Steve
I seem to have put my reply to Doug Bostrom and some other comments about anti-realists, beliefs, and education under methane. My bad, way off topic there and especially since I mentioned checking references ;(
thanks for the comment. i have indeed been reading blogs (several sites not just this one) and the peered review literature trying extend my understanding of paleo-climate reconstruction. the gap between the two is the genesis of the request.
there is an intermediate level of complexity that doesn’t get covered in either blog posts or the literature(because they are either too specific or just too general) that discusses motivations, aims, assumptions, methods, interpretations etc of the field; giving a big picture overview of the research for those science enthusiast who want to dig a little deeper in the details and understand current research.
ideally this should be covered in a introductory textbook
but i cannot find any that covers this material.
oarobin, if you want the views of the field, probably the PAGES newsletter is a good place to start, plus of course look for review articles. In not too many more months you’ll be able to read the AR5 paleo chapter.
Good luck with the motivations and aims business (other than the obvious, which is to do useful and if possible ground-breaking science). Re methods, it’s true that descriptions in papers are a little heavy going at the detail level, but if as you say you’re looking for a more general understanding you can just skip trying to understand all the details. The web sites of many scientists also include plain-language descriptions of their research, public copies of papers, useful links, etc. (example I was just looking at), so don’t forget those.
I have just read Robert Brown’s latest post (June 24 2012 at 10.30 pm) on WUWT.
I find its manifest evenhandedness and apparently convincing objectivity quite compelling. Would it be too much to ask the RC cognoscenti to give us their informed appraisal of it?
[Response: A mounting of a high horse in order to tilt at strawmen arguments that segues into the fallacy of ‘we don’t know everything and so we know nothing’ and ends with a stream of righteous indignation that anyone would call this kind of reasoning out for what it is. Rhetorically smooth, scientifically bogus. – gavin]
Thanks for the response gavin. Shame you didn’t even hint at how Dr Brown is “scientifically bogus”. Seems he’s making quite a good job of disabusing those who think that the GHE doesn’t exist. You could at least applaud that.
[Response: You asked for comments on his post, not on his thoughts about the GHE. His post was full of fallacies, and just because he understands the GHE (which of course is a plus), he doesn’t get a ‘get-out-of-logic-free’ card. Sorry. – gavin]
Comment by simon abingdon — 25 Jun 2012 @ 11:48 AM
Mon Dieu! We are coming up on a landmark–the 1000th Borehole post! Less than 50 to go at this point, and depending on the news and the activity over at WTFUWT, we should see number 1000 within 2-5 weeks. We should really plan something special for the lucky boreholer! Or maybe we could start a pool for who it will be. My money’s on Dan H., but there are lots of other strong competitors.
And the best thing about the borehole–you can keep up with the idiocy at WTFUWT and other denialist sites without giving them any more hits!
simon abingdon @303
You talk of “manifest evenhandedness and apparently convincing objectivity” making me wonder whether you and I refer to the same piece of WUWT nonsense.
Watts says of it “I would say, it is likely the best response I’ve ever seen on the use of the “denier” term, not to mention the CAGW issue in general.” showing that Watts has remarkably limited vision.
Okay this Dr. Robert G. Brown writes 2,400 words. If he’d used less (200 would do), perhaps his silliness would be more obvious. (To be doubly sure, I add occasional annotation in parenthesis to a full summary of his “objectivity.”)
Brown is saying that he dislikes the term “denier” because of the Holocaust connotations. He says he is but “highly skeptical” about CAGW although he sees honest grounds to doubt even AGW. (So still skeptical about AGW, just not so “highly”.) And any detractor of his ilk has no idea of his competence or strength of argument. (Happily he does provide it here.) The term “denier” moves the entire discussion outside of science and avoids confronting the true issue. (Certainly something has done this.)
Today’s temperature rise is nothing remarkable on a billion year timescale and is unresolvable from the natural variation, especially when the LIA & MWP are revived as they should be. (Hey! That makes him a LIAR. And a MWPR.) Earth is bistable, warm or cold. There is no tipping point except into the next ice age which will kill billions. (By the end of the century?!) We don’t even understand ice ages. Our climate theories aren’t particularly successful. GCMs are no more than children’s toys. They didn’t predict the flat global temperatures of late, a flat which continues and should be lowering projected climate sensitivity & AGW. This is good reason to be skeptical of CAGW.
Remember Feyman’s ‘cargo cult’ talk? Remember hockeysticks? Climategate? Concealing scientific information is dishonest. Before the hockeystick CAGW was totally unconvincing. We skeptics recognise the true degree of our ignorance.
In its report on the survey, rather than comparing climate change belief with statistics from 2008 as the Sunday Times has done, pollsters YouGov compare the results with the last time they asked the questions in 2010.
The comparison actually shows that more people now think the world is warming because of human activity than in 2010. (4% more). Slightly more people also think that the world is becoming warmer – but not because of human activity (2% more). Compared to 2010, slightly fewer people think that the world is not warming (3% less).
Perhaps the most obvious story that could have been written from these results is ‘Belief in climate change rises’.
#305 MARodger As Dr Robert Brown himself says (WUWT June 24 2012 at 8.44 am)
“But maybe, possibly, perhaps, you could entertain the notion that somebody that spent 9 years of their life doing nothing but studying mathematics, physics, computer science, and statistics (well, and partying like a wild animal) and then spent the next 30 years working with mathematics, physics, computation and statistics doing research, writing papers, teaching graduate and undergraduates, writing textbooks, that sort of thing might not be a complete idiot. Certainly not so much of an idiot that you are likely to know more, better, more competently, unless and until you have spent at least half as long doing half as much. D’ya think?”
[Response: I thought that ‘argument by authority’ was a big no-no? Or is that only when someone else uses it? – gavin]
What I am constantly amazed at is that some people who claim more than a passing interest in a particular subject can’t recognize obvious nonsense when it is presented to them in an extremely clear manner. Even worse, they actually expect others to swallow it without a moment’s thought. Astonishing.
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” — Max Planck
Note that it took Planck himself over thirty years to accept the implications of his own key discovery.
I went over to WUWT to check out some things being said about the Younger Dryas and the newest impact paper, and I actually commented a few times, but I have to say, the comments section there is absolute nuttiness personified.
#309 [gavin’s response] Some gentle words which start with the invitation “But maybe, possibly, perhaps you could entertain the notion that” and ends simply “D’ya think?” suddenly ceases to be an appeal to commonsense and becomes instead an argument from authority (“how dare we question”). Semantic decoke overdue.
[Response: Gentle rhetoric does not change the content. I am perfectly happy to consider that Dr. Brown is not an idiot. But it still doesn’t make him right about everything he discusses. Many very intelligent and very experienced physicists have been wrong before (as, indeed, contrarians are very fond of saying). Thus his non-idiocy and experience are not determinative of whether his argument is fallacious or not. If I used that exact same language (which with only a few tweaks would apply equally to me), as a reason why my views should have primacy over others, it would be rightly scorned. Mainstream science is not correct because lots of non-idiotic and experienced people say it is, rather it is correct (for the most part) because it is literally demonstrably so (i.e. the results can be demonstrated). – gavin]
“We are coming up on a landmark–the 1000th Borehole post!”
Ray, you seem excited about the Borehole, yet you have been unable to gain entry, despite numerous ill-tempered attempts. I know it’s showing off, but by way of advice from a veteran Borehole poster, here’s how:
Write, “I don’t think Gavin is God.” Worse (better?) suggest he is a humorless Englishman who boreholes anything not to his taste, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. If that doesn’t work, imply McIntyre not only gets things right every now and again, as you have done, but move beyond “even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while” and submit that the man has made a useful contribution to the debate. And make sure you use that word “debate” — there isn’t one, as we know. That failing, submit that you find the RealClimate orthodoxy disquieting, that you find the blog-meme, “Oh, wait, [insert snide comment about uncool outsider here]” tiresome. Oh, wait, that’s your routine, sorry. Say, that was fun… but I digress: back to phrases that pay. Hmm, you know, I would almost guarantee that a call for civility, decrying the use of such pejorative epithets as “alarmist” or “denier”, say, would get you in. Finally, though I’m loath to suggest such low-hanging fruit to a man of your considerable intellect, write, “DanH may have a point” even if you don’t think so. You may yet become entrant #1000, but you have to make the effort!
(I’m assuming you’re checking on the ol’ Borehole for good homestretch stuff such as this entry. If today’s moderator is too chicken even to place it there, though, not to worry, I’ll send it you privately.)
simon abingdon @308
I think I go further than the [Response: – gavin} @309 because I am always quite surprised by people who defend their crazy positions, not by defending their position, but by asserting “Hey, buddy! Nobody calls me an idiot!”
They seem to forget there are people, like myself, who are happy to say “There is a simple solution to this, chum. Just call me ‘Nobody’.”
If we were to take the benchmark for authority as a PhD in physics and 30 years practicing it, I would qualify as well as Dr. Brown. The difference is that I realize that I don’t–and I would wager that I’ve spent considerably more time doing the actual math of climate science than has Dr. Brown.
If we are going to argue from authority, then why not take the National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union… You get the idea. Dr. Brown is one scientist. He has precisely 1 peer-reviewed publication in the past 6 years, and few in the decade before that. His web page has more philosophy and poetry than science these days. I would submit that he fits the classic definition of having gone emeritus.
Simon, here’s a hint. When all the experts say you are wrong and you aren’t an expert–you’re probably wrong.
“imply McIntyre not only gets things right every now and again, as you have done, but move beyond “even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while” and submit that the man has made a useful contribution to the debate.”
Ah, if McI had never gotten into the climate debate….
He’s uncovered a few mistakes. It seemed to me that those mistakes could have been left unfound without harm.
So, does he advance climate science? I vote no. His primary positive function, causing others to spit-shine various bits and pieces, is pretty immaterial compared to the noise, interference, and distraction.
If you had an employee who produced $1 an hour and also caused your top dozen employees’ productivity to drop by $100 an hour each, would you say that employee “contributed to the corporation”?
Mertonian Norm — 25 Jun 2012 @ 4:20 PM — sets up a really fine straw man imaginary universe, and then razes it to the ground with his insightful rhetoric. I really appreciate people who provide such excellent bad examples. Steve
Simon Abingdon, Dr. Brown’s words are a classice Appeal to Authority fallacy. He is claiming that his training and experience in physics constitute special knowledge of climate science–a completely different and very specialized field.
No one is claiming Dr. Brown is an idiot–merely that he is well outside his realm of expertise.
Well, it should be obvious that Larsen A, Larsen B, and large areas of Wilkins ice shelf aren’t melting &;>). And I suppose that I should point out for readers not familiar with the science on Antarctic Ice shelves that the reason they aren’t melting is because they no longer exist, having collapsed and floated away like a slushy in a rainy gutter.
Simon Abingdon should think a few minutes and in all earnest about the following questions:
1. If Dr. Brown has something worthwile to say about climate change, where are his publications on the topic?
It appears he claims special knowledge in the field, so he should have no problem getting a few papers out.
2. If Dr. Brown has something worthwile to say about climate change, why is he doing so on WUWT?
It’s not like that site gets the science wrong on occasions. Getting it wrong is pathological over there. Surely someone with such special knowledge like Dr. Brown should have no problem seeing that?
That he believes the GHE is real just makes him in agreement with the vast, vast, vast majority of scientists, whether climate scientists or not. Even Fred Singer has disowned those who deny the GHE. It’s almost like we should be happy that someone calls flat-earthers “crazy” while that same person at the same time claims we have no real certainty that the earth revolves around the sun.
A brief comment about Dr. Brown’s article on “WUWT,” since simon abingdon brought it up.
A little over half-way through the comments, Anthony Watts posts about whether climate models “predict” or “project.” He then makes a decision about the question (the wrong one, in my opinion) and forbids further discussion. He ends with this statement: “Words convey meaning, and the meaning here is clear.”
A very simple statement about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global climate change might be: AGCC is a real, observable climate phenomena and is happening now, and if humans don’t begin to limit the release of greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere very soon, the results could quite likely do serious long-term damage to human civilization, as well as the earth’s ecosystems.
Dr. Brown clearly denies at least some aspects of this consensus.
“Deny: Refuse to admit the truth or existence of (something).”
Deny is the English word that conveys the proper meaning here. But then Dr. Brown gets quite offended at being called a denier, and demands a printed apology.
Whose problem is that? After all, words convey meaning, and the meaning here is clear. Dr. Brown needs to get over it.
Gavin: “The experimental design for these project was based on the need to sample a wide range of uncertainty – in models, forcings and observational data. The point is not to decide a priori which forcing reconstruction is correct and have everyone use that (since that is practically impossible), but rather to see whether we can explore what difference any of the reconstructions make so that we can assess whether any model/observations mismatch can be related to that (or to problems in the models, or in problems with the observations, or all of the above). So adding the Shaprio et al reconstruction to the possibilities was not a hard decision, despite my misgivings about there methodology. I will be astounded if using this gives the best match to observations, but it might be useful in bracketing ranges of behaviour. No external pressure required! – gavin]”
“The last millennium provides a valuable opportunity to evaluate
climate system models and to study the sensitivity of
the climate system. Proxy-based reconstructions are available
that have both high temporal resolution and widespread
geographical coverage (e.g., Mann et al., 2009). The boundary
conditions on the climate system over this period, including
atmospheric trace gases, solar irradiance and volcanic
emissions, are also reasonably well constrained (e.g.,
Schmidt et al., 2011). The sensitivity of the climate system to
different forcings can therefore be studied, and climate system
models can be evaluated by forcing them with the known
boundary conditions and then comparing the resulting simulations
against the available proxy data.”
It seems to me that introducing an ‘outlier’ solar simulation no longer is ‘well constrained’, but maybe I’m missing something… Trying to understand, really :)
[Response: “reasonably” well-constrained is probably ok, but is a bit of a subjective statement. However, any simulations using Shapiro et al will be in addition to those done with the other reconstructions, so they can’t possibly affect comparisons between the observations and the other simulations. If people think it is a priori not credible – even as a sensitivity test they don’t need to use it. Note that these experiments are not ones where simply taking the multi-model average is going to be sensible. – gavin]
Well, quite a little storm blew up over my supposed appeal to the “argument from authority”.
If those here had read more carefully they’d have seen that I was simply offering a little advice to MARodgers (#306) who had peremptorily (and without apparent justification) dismissed Dr Brown with “I refer to the same piece of WUWT nonsense” and “OK this Dr. Robert G. Brown writes 2,400 words. If he’d used less (200 would do), perhaps his silliness would be more obvious”.
So was it a “classic” example of the argument from authority or just a suggestion that MARodgers might be a little out of his depth? You decide.
And yet again I ask, has anybody here actually read what I originally referred to in #303, namely Robert Brown’s post of June 24 2012 at 10.30 pm on WUWT?
[Response: More errors. “CO2 is saturated” – wrong (it is not). “The tropopause is set by CO2” – wrong (it is set by ozone). “The standard deviation for variations in MSU-TLT is the same as for SAT” – wrong (it is about 1.2 times larger). “The anthropogenic signal did not emerge out of the noise in the 1980s” – wrong (it did, pretty much as predicted by Hansen et al, 1981). etc. Your point? – gavin]
“A very simple statement about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global climate change might be: AGCC is a real, observable climate phenomena and is happening now, and if humans don’t begin to limit the release of greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere very soon, the results could quite likely do serious long-term damage to human civilization, as well as the earth’s ecosystems”.
I’m unhappy to accept the A in AGCC if for no other reason than escalating anthropogenic CO2 emissions not seeming to correlate with recently observed temperature changes. Some day soon the explanation that they’re masked by coincidentally compensating natural variability may begin to wear a bit thin. Or not. We shall see.
I feel I might have the measure of what you are on about. What you referred to @303 was “Robert Brown’s latest post” on WUWT without any hint as to its content. I’m thinking what it is you meant to refer to is but a humble “comment” by Robert Brown at WUWT namely – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/06/22/a-response-to-dr-paul-bains-use-of-denier-in-scientific-literature/#comment-1017487
(Why you didn’t have the decency to link to it @303 I know not.)
It would be good if you could confirm this reference. Brown is a verbose old duffer & the comment almost as wordy as that post of his which I found so nonsense-filled. Hey, I wouldn’t want to be wasting my time getting to grips with the wrong reference for a second time, especially given that you suggest I might be a little out of my depth and all!
Some day soon the explanation that they’re masked by coincidentally compensating natural variability may begin to wear a bit thin.
Anybody who cares to look can see that statement is utterly false – they are enhanced and masked by radiative forcings (soot, aerosols, etc) that are most definitely anthropogenic, and fortuitous thermal buffers (sea ice, ice sheets, deep ocean waters) that are rapidly responding to those forcings. To me you don’t seem informed or even amenable to actually informing yourself on these matters, yet you consider your opinions weighty enough to post.
Actually, my first post here at RC was rejected. Reason: It was off topic. This of course predated the borehole.
I have since endeavored to stay on topic–albeit with occasional feats of rhetorical gymnastics to get there–and so have avoided the borehole if only, sometimes, by the narrowest of margins.
I would humbly suggest that the same might work for you.
I suspect that it is your nature to look for common ground and compromise as a way forward. Unfortunately, this does not work in the current “debate”. The science, the evidence and the scientists are for all practical purposes on one side. To “compromise” with the anti-science types is merely to dilute the truth.
Personally, I like Steve’s quote from Max Planck concerning appeal to authority. For some reason, this arises more often in climate discussions than any other. Recent statements about so many years in the field, or some consensus, are no substitutes for valid scientific work. Likewise, the argument about whether a forecast out to 2100 is a “projection” or a “prediction” may be entertaining, but offers little in resolving the whole climate issue. In another appeal to authority argument, it is amazing how often both extremes in the climate discussion refer to their opponents as “anti-science.”
I don’t read WUWT, so I cannot comment on Dr. Brown’s article, but I find it rather intriguing that some people are so sure that someone else is wrong, that they refer to their work as nonsense.
In the lower atmosphere, the main CO2 absorption band is saturated. However, that is not the case elsewhere in the atmosphere, of for other CO2 bands (or even the side absorption of the main band at 15 microns).
Ray, thanks for your good sportsmanship about my jokes at your expense, though I am annoyed my good work was not placed in the Borehole where it belongs. I like to think I went out of my way to “otherwise disrupt sensible conversations”, but, alas, standards are slipping.
You are right, though, it is very much my nature to look for common ground. I often read with amusement in the competing climate blogs, for instance, about “moving goal posts” as though moving them were a bad thing, rather than a human, face-saving concession to the other side. I do suspect that the truth, to the extent that it is knowable, will fall somewhere in the middle long after I’m gone. That or outside today’s parameters altogether. The history of science tells us with some certainty that the consensus won’t be where it is at the moment. In the meantime, I admire the efforts of those climate scientists who read the data to say: Watch Out, just as I admire those cranks and amateurs who read: Not So Fast. Not a good idea, to me, for either side be ruling the roost with impunity, and if the debate between them must be contentious rather than constructive, in the lab, so be it. As long as the science advances and is beaten about the head and shoulders along the way, that butters my biscuit.
That you see the truth massed together in favor of AGCC is a sincere belief you have articulated passionately for years, and all power to you. I read what you write with interest, and I continue to seek out other articulate views as well.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency was “unambiguously correct” in using existing federal law to address global warming. The court denied two of the challenges, including one arguing the agency erred in concluding greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.
Ray Ladbury, “To “compromise” with the anti-science types is merely to dilute the truth.” Of course, but the physics is the truth. F=5.35*ln(Cf/Ci) is not a complete equation. Inside that 5.35 is a lot of physics and there are a lot of approaches that can be used to fine tune that equation.
Take a simple heat engine, you have -1.9 to 0 for the cold reservoir limited by the heat of fusion and 240Wm-2 applied, the maximum efficiency is 50%, the refrigerant is salt water and the pressure is limited to atmospheric. How much can you determine from those constraints?
Is that “anti-science” or is that physics? What temperature is the refrigerant limited to by atmospheric pressure? In steady state, what is the average work done? There is more to “science” than radiant physics.
Great example of double-talk:
“In the lower atmosphere, the main CO2 absorption band is saturated. However, that is not the case elsewhere in the atmosphere, of for other CO2 bands (or even the side absorption of the main band at 15 microns).”
I understand (caveat: not from reading it yet though) that the NRC’s recent study on sea level rise (link – released on Friday 6/22, and not visible on their home page at present) did not address any possible contribution (to measured sea level rise) of any reduction in ocean basin depth due to underwater volcanic eruptions or other such processes. If you wanted to explore this possible contribution, how would you do so? Do you know if it’s been measured, & if not, why not? How would you reason about this possible contribution? (yes this latter Q is pretty general, but I’m curious.)
Comment by Anon experimenter — 26 Jun 2012 @ 11:19 AM
#335 SecularAnimist says “With all due respect, you don’t know what you are talking about. And that’s why you are taken in by the likes of Dr. Brown’s falsehood-filled nonsense. It is really as simple as that”.
Well he seemed to know what he was talking about, but now you’ve explained it to me properly I realize I must have misjudged him.
Comment by simon abingdon — 26 Jun 2012 @ 11:51 AM
DC US District Court of Appeals gets it:
“State and Industry Petitioners assert that EPA improperly“delegated” its judgment to the IPCC, USGCRP, and NRC by relying on these assessments of climate-change science. See U.S. Telecom Ass’n v. FCC, 359 F.3d 554, 566 (D.C. Cir. 2004). This argument is little more than a semantic trick. EPA did not delegate, explicitly or otherwise, any decision-making to any of those se entities. EPA simply did here what it and other decisionmakers often must do to make a science-based judgment: it sought out and reviewed existing scientific evidence to determine whether a particular finding was warranted. It makes no difference that much of the scientific evidence in large part consisted of “syntheses” of individual studies and research. Even individual studies and research papers often synthesize past work in an area and then build upon it. This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”
A complete naif such as you or I could begin by reasoning that the volume of the “solid” Earth is relatively constant on the time scale of interest failing addition of significant volume via unknown means, thermal expansion (radioactive decay outburst?), or (??). Knowing that, you could then reason that a significant reduction of the ocean basin volume would need a volume reduction drawn from somewhere dry, namely the bits of Earth sticking up above the ocean, a large reduction happening very quickly on the geologic time scale.
So we can conclude that the horns to be attached to the jackrabbit will be found where continents are vanishing.
Argument from over-generalized platitudes is not helpful. You do not understand the situation or the history of science. All you hear is a squabble, and you are completely deaf to content and context.
But OK, let’s say you hear a squabble in the next room. You have a mission and an ideology! You burst into the room and it turns out to be an o.r. Doctors are yelling at a gang of nuts who are trying to interfere with an operation and insisting that waving unsanitary, dead chickens around the operating table will fix every thing. Do you:
A) Stamp your feet and insist that the nuts sound reasonable and are just misunderstood–everybody just needs to grab some gimp and make lanyards?
B) Admit you don’t know what’s going on and but out?
C) Get all weepy at the noise and run to Oprah?
D) Or do you pitch in, make yourself useful, and help throw the vandals the frack out of there?
“Well he seemed to know what he was talking about…”
Playing “let’s you and him fight” will not enlighten you, especially if you are not willing to expend any effort of your own on thinking things through. But I guess they don’t teach the fundamentals of critical thinking in airplane school…
“they are enhanced and masked by radiative forcings (soot, aerosols, etc)”
Obviously the concept of enhancing/masking provides considerable explanatory power, but can I ask if your “etc” includes anthropogenically consequential clouds? I think I may have sensed a general acceptance that this area may need more research.
You say of me “you consider your opinions weighty enough to post”. If my questions sometimes seem to reflect a bias of opinion then I’m sorry. But I do generally try hard to remain objective and disinterested. Thank you for the exchange.
>In another appeal to authority argument, it is amazing how often both extremes in the climate discussion refer to their opponents as “anti-science.”
I’m not sure extremists calling each other names is an appeal to authority argument. To the point about “anti-science” extremists- that’s why we’re all here, right? Gavin, David, Eric and all the RC contributors are mainstream working scientists, and not on either wing of the climate discussion. Unless the extreme wings are real science and popular news media, but I generally look at those as different discussions. In science we use evidence and reason. In media it is polemics and innuendo. RealClimate is where real working mainstream scientists address the polemics and innuendo of the media. The less we pay attention to polemicists like Delingpole and more to reasonable scientists like the RC contributors, the better informed we’ll be on the state of the science. If anyone is calling the RC contributors anti-science, well, it should be obvious what to think.
Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 26 Jun 2012 @ 2:28 PM
#346 Radge Havers says “I guess they don’t teach the fundamentals of critical thinking in airplane school”.
Actually Radge, more than anything else they teach you continually to ask “what if …” questions. Otherwise you’re not likely to survive. The unrelenting training concentrates the mind rather effectively, at least where life or death (or licence revalidation!) situations are concerned.
Doesn’t qualify as critical thinking? Whatever, you’d certainly better come up with the right answers.
An interesting development at the intersection of science and the courts:
Court Backs EPA on Emission Rules:
“The judges unanimously dismissed arguments from industry that the science of global warming was not well supported and that the agency had based its judgment on unreliable studies. “This is how science works,” the judges wrote. “The E.P.A. is not required to reprove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”
Those are pretty strong words coming from a court.
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 26 Jun 2012 @ 4:18 PM
anthropogenically consequential clouds?
And I respond with ‘what clouds’? Are you watching the weather at all?
My sources are hard core farmers watching the weather with a keen eye for the last 50 up to 100 years and none of the old times have seen anything like this before. I kid you not. This is an entirely new regime.
When climate changes, farmers get concerned. Climate is changing.
Re inline response to 328: “The tropopause is set by CO2” – wrong (it is set by ozone).
I had been under the impression that the tropopause could be influenced by either/both as well as the sun (if/when it changes), etc. With different distributions, stratospheric ozone depletion and CO2 increase have a cooling effect on the stratosphere, while CO2 warms the tropopshere (of course) and ozone – well I don’t remember what exactly the graph in IPCC showed (there would be increased SW heating (not exactly equal to lost SW heating of the upper atmosphere because of increased opportunity for scattering), but also decreased downward LW flux from the stratosphere due to its being cooler and due to loss of ozone) – but the cooling at least diminishes downward. Both would tend to result in increased tropopause height (in pressure coordinates, excluding effect of thermal expansion), which would make the tropopause cooler, offseting (some of?) the warming that would have to occur given warming of the surface and tropospheric lapse rate changes from CO2 increases; ozone wouldn’t have this same warming effect but then it might not have the same (in proportion) height effect so …? (I did read somewhere that CO2 may not have much effect on tropopause temperature whereas ozone depletion would have a cooling effect, but this was awhile ago…)
As long as I’m here, I was wondering about the reduction in ocean pH response to atmospheric CO2 after time for dissolution and weathering to achieve a new equilibrium ocean composition (for the atmospheric CO2, or for a CO2 perturbation required to result in some specified atmospheric CO2 – setting aside the eventual geologic sequestration effect of weathering of Ca-bearing silicates, etc.). Is there some change in pH that has to remain, and how does it compare to the pH change when C (as CO2) is first dumped into the atmosphere-ocean from a geologic reservoir (but after ocean mixing)?
Doesn’t specifically deal with identifying and avoiding falling prey to intentional rhetorical misdirection.
“Whatever, you’d certainly better come up with the right answers.”
Well if I had questions about commercial piloting, I’d certainly be more inclined to simply ask you, and other pilots, and I wouldn’t waste a lot of time entertaining the verbal stylings of nuts who thought flying was a hoax. Your answers might not always be exactly right, but there’s a better chance they’d at least be pertinent. Get it?
Doubters, have you noticed the news lately? Checked with any oldsters? Any farmers? Looked at Wunderground? ClimateCentral? Any dedicated qualified researchers who have given their lives to understanding and promulgating understanding?
Casting doubt on science, real science, and reality, real reality, has become a fool’s game. Today at breakfast we were trying to find a better parallel than Monbiot’s WWI for idiot leadership (absence of same, actually) and a little education about Attila the Hun whose memory has been rather traduced led to other collapses in history. Perhaps Genghis Khan? Of course religion got mixed up in it, which always confuses the issue. Unintended consequences abound, but this time promotion of the absent ain’t gonna happen because absence is not possible any more.
Regardless, Monbiot names the epic fail in which we find ourselves, and arguments about why we should have more and bigger spectacles every year on a finite planet instead of how we can solve the problem of sharing our limited resources are getting faker by the minute.
Officials say the Flagstaff Fire, as it is being called, is moving quickly toward the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a federally-funded research facility, 9news.com reported. Three aircraft and a massive C-130 air tanker have been dispatched to fight the fire, which has been described as an “extreme” blaze.
simon abingdon @whereever.
Perhaps I should make clear the reason for my request @330 for confirmation of your reference to the Robert Brown comment. Simply I cannot see why anyone would consider that particular comment merits discussion. It is after all one of so many long and wordy comments by Brown (I counted. It is the 32nd such comment and nowhere near last-in-thread.) trailing down under his already overly long and wordy original post.
Can you explain what merit you saw in it? Or do I still have the wrong Robert Brown reference?
@303 you describe it saying “I find its manifest evenhandedness and apparently convincing objectivity quite compelling.” yet I see absolutely nothing like that. Brown doesn’t answer the question he sets out to answer. His second paragraph demonstrates he is totally out of his depth on how increasing GHGs work. His “here’s one I did earlier” graphical assault on Hansen et al 1981 shows (even giving him the benefit of the doubt) that he doesn’t even understand the basics of temperature anomalies!
His final assessment of climate sensitivity invokes such things as the Little Ice Age, non-linear solar influences, other as-yet-unknown solar-driven mechanisms, decadal oscillations and scaly dragons with flaming eyes as well as major non-anthropogenic CO2 sources that the scurrilous Hansen et al 1981 “deliberately omitted.” And just for good measure his final overly-assertive conclusions are greatly mismatched with his caveats that he squirrels away a few lines above.
(All this from a man who wishes not to be called a “denier” but rather a scientist discussing ‘science’. It is no wonder some find it “rather intriguing” when this arrant tosh is lamely labelled as “nonsense.”)
Brown’s comment may be an exceptional work of scholarship by the standards of WUWT but I fail to see any place here. So can you please explain its merit? Why did you bring it to RealClimate?
Anon experimenter @340 – The ocean basins are getting deeper because they flex downward under the extra loading from the water mass added to the oceans from melting land-based ice. This same process levers continents upward because the land is not subjected to extra loading. This is but one facet of Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA). 173 tgente
dbostrom quoted: “… the fire, which has been described as an ‘extreme’ blaze …”
As global warming continues, we are certainly going to experience spectacular phenomena, such as mega-firestorms, the like of which human beings have never previously experienced.
If one puts aside the horror and fear, it’s really quite interesting.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Jun 2012 @ 10:05 AM
Regarding the fires in the southwestern USA. Please take solace in the fact that according to Pielke Snr. the heat wave affecting Colorado (and large portions of the southwestern USA) is less extreme because it is a dry heat. Pielke says:
“In the July 2005 heat wave discussed in the above paper, the Denver heat wave was less extreme using this combined metric, due to very low humidity accompanying the event. This is also a major factor in the current heat wave.
I’m sure that the people who have lost their homes and the fire fighters and emergency officials are relieved because it is a dry heat! /sarc
This is denial at its best by Pielke Snr.– he is surrounded by an inferno and is thinking of ridiculous reasons to downplay the severity.
This latest obfuscation is just one example why Pielke Snr. has sadly lost much credibility amongst his peers in recent years. It is unfortunate that he is electing to taint his once high standing and past work with his current agenda.
And for the record, Dr. Pielke has misrepresented me on his web blog on the issue of decadal forecasts. But we are used to “skeptics” misrepresenting others’ positions to support their narrative.
#363, Secular Animist, “If one puts aside the horror and fear, it’s really quite interesting.”
Personally, I’m both fascinated and horrified by the opening of the Northwest Passage and the possibility that the Arctic may well have ice-free Summers soon. For that reason, I found dbostrom’s #300 post, a polar plot of PIOMAS data to be particularly interesting.
I have to say that I find Roger Pielke Jr.’s remarks a little bit over the top. Pielke emphasizes the need for decades of more/better statistics very enthusiastically, to the point of blindness. Others asked as part of that roundup are more circumspect.
Anyway there’s formal science to be done on attribution but then again there’s the plainly obvious in front of our noses. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that the plunge in Arctic ice volume/extent/everything is in part the result of many years of “extreme” weather, weather outside the bounds of what was formerly considered average? Are increasingly compressed and bunched record-breaking weather observations not “extreme?” If Greenland’s ice sheet is decaying rapidly isn’t it responding to “extreme” weather?
From my layman’s perspective extreme weather includes year after year of excursive weather. It’s extremely obvious that extra energy in the atmosphere can’t be hidden.
Regarding fire does anyone know whether there are plans to alter forest management in light of climate change? It strikes me that current policy is not adequate to prevent summer conflagrations. Might a far more aggressive controlled burn policy make a difference?
Comment by John E. Pearson — 27 Jun 2012 @ 2:38 PM
Further to Jim’s musings, see interesting LA Times article about “superfires” and plans to reduce their probability/impact:
Peter Fulé, a longtime professor in the school of forestry at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, talked to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday about the “perfect confluence” of factors fueling fires such as Colorado’s Waldo Canyon fire.
There are parts of the world and the western U.S. in particular where huge, infrequent fires are part of the natural fire ecology, Fulé said. But that isn’t the case for some areas now falling prey to super fires.
The reason? Modern firefighting technology has meant fewer fires. Fuel to feed massive blazes has built up. And, Fulé said, climate change has brought warming conditions over the last couple of decades — meaning longer fire seasons, starting early in the spring and extending late into the fall.
Even if rain and snow amounts remain the same, he said, warmer temperatures mean more evaporation, drying out the landscape. Individual drought years increase the risk of huge fires: “This winter in Colorado, it was quite dry.”
And the future looks only drier and warmer.
“The predictions climatologists are developing for the 21st century don’t look any better,” Fulé said. With plentiful fuel and warming conditions, super fires likely will continue to ignite.
The fallout will include “loss of life, loss of homes and communities and infrastructure,” as well as long-term effects such as soil erosion, flooding, and the invasion of exotic plant species with the death of native species.
But Fulé isn’t ready to suggest a doomsday scenario.
There are things that can be done — and are being done — to combat this fiery future.
Thinning smaller, younger trees from forests and using proscribed burning can greatly reduce the chance of a super fire. “Those are two important forest restoration techniques that are being done around the U.S.,” to some extent, he said.
The problem is, such efforts are expensive — several hundred dollars to $1,000 per acre — and there are millions of acres. The U.S. government manages most of the nation’s forest lands, he said, “and the federal government really doesn’t have a lot of extra money it doesn’t know what to do with.”
Might a far more aggressive controlled burn policy make a difference?
Money’s an issue with both the BLM and USFS. Mechanical thinning is extremely common because the woody material, though not very valuable, can be sold. Unfortunately there’s a history of thinning sales being sweetened with a bit of real timber …
Re #370: But existing ecologies can’t be propped up indefinitely by artificial means, even were that practical on a sufficient scale. As warming/drying proceeds, those landscapes are bound to convert.
One implication of all of this is that, much like beachfront property in Norfolk (VA), those lovely homes nestled in the trees are an anachronism. But even this fire season, worse though it may get, probably isn’t enough for most of the affected people to face up to that reality. Local governments will be similarly prone to ignoring the problem, but it will be interesting to see the insurance industry response.
MARodger: [Brown’s] final assessment of climate sensitivity invokes such things as the Little Ice Age, non-linear solar influences, other as-yet-unknown solar-driven mechanisms, decadal oscillations and scaly dragons with flaming eyes as well as major non-anthropogenic CO2 sources that the scurrilous Hansen et al 1981 “deliberately omitted.”
A mighty and awe-inspiring jackalope! Made of nature and lashings of imagination but not found in nature.
Floppy ears and horns and they reproduce like, well, rabbits…
371 dhogaza: The reality is there are millions of acres throughout the Northern Rockies and on into British Columbia and Alberta that could benefit from controlled burns, mechanical treatments, and some timber sales. The other part of that reality is that there is not enough money in the world let alone federal, state and provincial budgets to undertake these programs on anything other than local scales. These projects are generally undertaken in the “wildland urban interface” to limit the potential for extreme fire behavior in these difficult settings. There is little market even for commercial timber sales so these treatments need money and staff and in an era where those are thin and stretched, it’s not a pretty picture. There are environmental issues with both mechanical treatments and controlled burns which only compounds the scale of the problem.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jun 2012 @ 12:08 AM
Actually I need to apologize for my past comment a bit (if it even goes through). It’s not the snark that I’m concerned about from regular posters that I have a problem with. But seeing a young scientist sucked into this is disheartening. As a parent (and RC scientists (mentors) please take note) we want our children to think for themselves and not be pressured by peer pressure. How can this young man ever look at data and not ‘see’ what he ‘wants’ to see… If he came across some evidence that conflicted with ‘the consensus’ would he even consider it as publishable material or would he just think it was in error and move on? I hope he has been trained better then that, but seeing him post/say the things he does has me worried about his objectivity of the science. I fear our universities are producing advocates and not scientists. It’s very disheartening… Asking questions/questioning authority is always good. I know you all remember doing that! I’ll get off my soap box now :)
Tokodave mentioned environmental issues with controlled burns.
I can’t imagine that environmental issues associated with controlled burns aren’t dwarfed by those that come with a crown fire. I’m not sure how many people appreciate the difference between low temperature ground fires and crown fires which can easily melt hubcaps 100′ from the fire. They are totally different beasts.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jun 2012 @ 7:29 AM
It is not at all clear what you are referring to. What young man? What evidence? Indeed, what snark?
As to your question, I would hope that anyone would try to understand any evidence that came his or her way in the context of all the other evidence. Ability to interpret in context is what seperates the expert from the moron.
How do moderators here allow this snark? Please clean it up.
When you start making requests that sound like demands on other people’s blog than I can suggest that it’s time to start your own soap box blog where you can present your unique perspective regardless of the actual evidence.
Steve Bloom wrote: “… much like beachfront property in Norfolk (VA), those lovely homes nestled in the trees are an anachronism …”
A lot of other things will soon be “anachronisms” too. Things like most major cities in the US southwest. Like American agriculture. Like major cities up and down both coasts. Like forests.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Jun 2012 @ 10:05 AM
what SA said in 387:
I bit my tongue on that one. The impact of these fires goes way beyond lovely homes nestled in trees. Most homes in the southwest don’t fit that description in any event. We’re talking about the livelihood and health of tens of millions of people. Last week I drove from northern New Mexico through Colorado to Utah. There was smoke at beginning, the middle, and the end. There were standing dead trees (killed by bark beetle) mixed in with living forest everywhere.
Smoke from a fire 200 miles away can be so strong that it burns your throat and eyes. One somewhat less grim aspect of this year’s record breaking 300,000 acre White Water Baldy Complex fire in NM is that it probably isn’t as it sounds. Last year’s record breaking 150,000 acre Las Conchas fire was probably worse in the sense that there were more acres of crown fire in the Las Conchas fire. Here are the burn severity maps. I can’t find one for the Las Conchas that has a nice summary like the Whitewater-Baldy Complex map does. The Las Conchas fire burnt 43,000 acres in the first day and another 20,000 the second day. Much of this was crown fire.
Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jun 2012 @ 11:45 AM
The reality is there are millions of acres throughout the Northern Rockies and on into British Columbia and Alberta that could benefit from controlled burns, mechanical treatments, and some timber sales.
I didn’t say that mechanical treatments are bad, I was pointing out that the limitd funds available to the USFS and BLM lead to mechanical treatments being very common. This was in response to a post wondering why controlled burns aren’t more commonly used.
However, it’s true that tracts up for mechanical treatment are often sweetened with timber for one reason only: to make the sale more attractive for bidders. Not because the harvest of marketable timber is better ecologically in many such cases. This doesn’t mean that I believe that timber sales can’t be a useful tool, too.
“… moderated by Kenneth Cukier, the data editor of The Economist.
The first questioner asked whether big data necessarily means that the reasoning behind machine predictions would become harder to understand. Mr Hammerbacher, who previously worked in the trenches of this very matter as Facebook’s first data-scientist, ventured in:
“Social science as a model for data science is much stronger than in the physical sciences, in that there is a tremendous focus on the model of causal inference in observational studies,” he said. “Even in the last 20 to 30 years there has been a pretty big evolution in the statistical tools that we have at our disposal for actually inferring causality in an observational study—when we are not actually able to control the assignment of treatments to subjects.”
“… the world is actually moving in the direction of removing the opacity of the models that it generates. It’s just that the statistical tools are actually genuinely novel.”
I wasn’t really wondering why controlled burns aren’t more commonly used. Controlled burns are the only fire management I ever see and they are quite common. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen mechanical thinning. The problem is that the controlled burns that are done are almost ludicrous in their inadequacy. I am advocating for large scale burning during the cooler wetter calmer seasons.
Given the stuff I linked in 381 it looks as if people who actually study fire control in the southwest have reached similar conclusions.
With all the standing dead wood in the forests (see Hank’s link in 391, that wasn’t cherry picked, it’s like that all over) and severe drought there are going to be a great many very nasty fires unless the people push for aggressive management on a scale that hasn’t been practiced since the indians managed the land, if ever. I suspect it is politically impossible right now. There are the standard denialists who would say that we need not manage a nonexistent problem. In addition there are also a certain subcategory of environmentalists who are opposed to controlled burns. Maybe after a few more suburban areas burn people will come to their senses.
[Response:There’s little question about it in many places, especially in the more productive Mediterranean-type climates of the pacific southwest, but not just there. You absolutely cannot put any type of fire in many of those places in anything but the wet and/or cool season and no land or fire manager who values his career would ever do so, for fear of another Los Alamos type event. But in such places the seasonality in precip. is a problem, because the shoulder season burn windows can be quite narrow–it’s either too dry or too wet to control, or carry, a fire respectively. On top of this there are air quality restrictions in most places. Mechanical thinning is the only way to get started in those places, but it’s prohibitively expensive, far exceeding prescribed fire costs, and you still need to burn them after you’ve thinned them as well. That’s why the strategy through the western US and Canada has increasingly gone to strategic use and/or expansion of existing firebreaks (think roads, ridge-tops, and rivers), with the goal being only to slow down fire spread rates so that fire suppression teams have a fighting chance at some type of control. Across millions of acres there is no hope, or realistic plan, for actual fuels treatment–it’s all about slowing down spread rates. There is also no market, in many places, for the types of fuels removed during a thinning operation. This gets to Dhogaza’s point that such operations often have to remove some timber trees to pay for themselves. And on top of all that, there are many places in which infrequent but large crown fires were in fact the historical norm–including especially the Rocky Mountain region lodgepole pine forests which are vast. The entire situation is a very big time mess. A number of people, including me, have been trying to get peoples attention on it for many many years now, but the problem is only growing exponentially worse by the year as fuel loads continue to build (very rapidly now in some places, as you note), and the climate of western North America continues to warm and dry. There will be many more fire catastrophes, you can absolutely bank on it, as you would the sun rising tomorrow morning. –Jim]
Comment by John E. Pearson — 28 Jun 2012 @ 10:51 PM
According to green fashion website Ecouterre, designer Dahea Sun has created some naturally-dyed silk dresses that change colour according to air quality.
The Central Saint Martin’s textile student had developed a set of dyes using pigments found in red cabbages, blackberries, and aubergine that responded to acidity levels in rainwater and can therefore detect acid rain.
What’s more, she’s created a smartphone app which records the data from the dress. Using GPS, it can then map the crowd-sourced data to show air-quality trends on a global scale.
Regardless of its poetic resonance, the Tank wonders whether London Mayor Boris Johnson could order in a few pollution detecting suits to provide him with up-to the minute information on air quality as he cycled around the capital.
You absolutely cannot put any type of fire in many of those places in anything but the wet and/or cool season and no land or fire manager who values his career would ever do so, for fear of another Los Alamos type event.
Not a forest, and not the SW, but pretty amazing. 30 years ago ranchers vehemently opposed controlled burns of juniper-infested sage steppe and now they’re committing arson …
(this particular family has a past history of acting in the belief that they’re free to do whatever they want to federal lands. Now two of them will be free to try to do whatever they want for a minimum of five years in federal prison)
And on top of all that, there are many places in which infrequent but large crown fires were in fact the historical norm–including especially the Rocky Mountain region lodgepole pine forests which are vast.
The article is somewhat interesting because in portions it can’t decide whether the fire was tremendously destructive or a natural event in the life cycle of seretonious lodgepole pine forests, such as this snippet:
The predominant tree in Yellowstone, the lodgepole pine, fared poorly from the fires, except in areas where the heat and flames were very mild. The lodgepole pine is serotinous and often produces pine cones that remain closed and will not disperse seeds unless subjected to fire. Research of test plots established after the fires indicated that the best seed dispersal occurred in areas which had experienced severe ground fires, and that seed dispersal was lowest in areas which had only minor surface burns. Regions with crown fires sometimes had the highest rates of regeneration of lodgepole pine after 5 years. However, the rate of lodgepole regeneration was not uniform, with some areas seeing extremely high densities of new growth while other areas had less. Stands of dead lodgepole killed by the fires may persist for decades, rising above new growth and providing habitat for birds and other wildlife.
Lodgepole pines fared poorly in the fire, yet the snippet makes clear that the lodgepole pines here require fire for the seeds to open and the forest to regenerate with young trees. Lodgepole pines don’t live forever, so at some point you need fire … and as Jim says the periodic large crown fires are historical the norm and from the snippet above you can see that these lodgepole pines are highly adapted to “faring poorly” as a result of “destructive burns” without which they wouldn’t exist.
[Response:Yes, thanks for explaining that Dhogaza. Serotinous lodgepole occurs in high percentages in the Rockies, and the simultaneous opening of the cones when heated leads to extremely even-aged stands that are extremely dense and uniform for many years, leading directly to a natural crown fire regime. Just so I don’t confuse anybody, the current fires near Colorado Springs are in a different forest type completely (ponderosa pine), which do not have this type of natural fire regime at all.–Jim]
Thanks Jim @ 393 response. That’s a good summary of what dhogaza and I have been discussing. Steve Pyne at the Daily Beast has a good article on the Colorado fire and U S fire policy at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/28/colorado-blazes-remind-us-that-national-policy-on-fire-needs-a-fix.html He suggests that “We can even set aside global warming as a primary cause because we are seeing outbreaks that are within historic climatic ranges.” Climate change might not be the “primary cause” but I would not have phrased it quite like that. As I mentioned in an earlier post here … its complicated by a climate change trifecta, earlier snowmelt, longer hotter summers and insect infestations leading to extensive stands of dead and dying trees.
[Response:Thanks, that’s an outstanding piece by Steve Pyne, who knows the issues around national fire policy and management like very few others. But I agree with your point above–it’s all about understanding the full system. Time to link to Rick Brown’s terrific piece once again also–Jim
the simultaneous opening of the cones when heated leads to extremely even-aged stands that are extremely dense and uniform for many years, leading directly to a natural crown fire regime
Yes, indeed. Yellowstone in the late 1990s looked a lot like a replanted clear-cut with waist-high trees, which I’m sure caused a lot of casual visitors to assume that there had been extensive replanting by the NPS after the fire. But it was all a result of cones opening up during the fire and the seeds sprouting the next spring.
We see something like that in N. California Coast Range but it’s knobcone pine, which burns explosively — very fire-adapted. It also seeds right after a fire and grows very fast, huge spans of softwood between each ring.
Unfortunately there’s no commercial value to the wood nowadays. I gather it was last harvested when wooden kitchen matches were made from it, because it’s so light, easily split, and burns so well.
Places that used to be thoroughly canopied tall Ponderosa pine-black oak (before the first rounds of logging and sheep herding and fire) have mostly turned into knobcone forests.
I’ve wondered if someone could build a big truck-sized or shipping-container-sized gadget to take that kind of wood, chip it, and render it into sufficient fuel to run the chipping and rendering machine and maybe with enough extra fuel to power vehicles and chainsaws — forest cleanup might be doable if only it weren’t necessary to truck in the gasoline to fuel the work.
Heck, volunteers could work through a forest — one person can do 40 acres over a few years, removing a circle of the dead wood, brush, fire ladders, and accumulated litter around selected trees that are likely to restore the old tall pine and oak forest, given a few hundred years to do it.
Just keep the big trees there, that’s the hard part.
Even removing fire ladders — taking off the ring of dead limbs that marks each growth year on a Ponderosa pine — has its downside. Once you’ve taken off the dozens of dry dead branches on a tall P-pine, the tree starts making nice clean knothole-free wood, year after year. That’s “artificial old-growth” timber — so the protected trees are more tempting to cut down than the unprotected ones.
“The U.S. Forest Service has chosen Pagosa Land Co. to remove woody biomass from national forestland in Pagosa County. Through the Pagosa Area Biomass Long-Term Stewardship Contract, a project developed to restore the region’s forest while reducing fire risk through a 10-year contract, J.R. Ford, president of Pagosa Land Co., and his team will have access to the national forest to harvest woody biomass.”
Use methanol powered chainsaws, skidders, and chippers to deliver the wood/waste to a pelletizer & methanol generator, and truck out value added pellets & methanol, in the most profitable mix depending on markets and transportation costs?
401 Hank said, “Even removing fire ladders — taking off the ring of dead limbs that marks each growth year on a Ponderosa pine — has its downside. Once you’ve taken off the dozens of dry dead branches on a tall P-pine, the tree starts making nice clean knothole-free wood, year after year. That’s “artificial old-growth” timber — so the protected trees are more tempting to cut down than the unprotected ones.”
Well, that doesn’t sound so bad. Make a law that requires that any removal of wood from a forest must be accompanied by an approved fire-reduction scheme. Poof! Instantly all forests are either “natural” or “productive yet protected”.
These wild fires only seem to become uncontrolable when the air temperature rises above 40C. Perhaps the answer to the increase in these catastrophic wild fires would be to reduce atmospheric CO2 so that these record temperatures cannot be achieved.
[Response:Control is a function of fuel loads, wind, humidity, topography, and resources applied to the effort. T affects only one of these (humidity); the big problem is fuel load. This is Steve Pyne’s overall point in the linked article.–Jim [Edit–left out fuel moisture level, T affects that also]]
[Response:There was great variation in natural fire regimes in eastern forests, roughly following a decreasing gradient of: southeastern pine > oak-hickory > beech-maple > hemlock-hardwood (the “asbestos forest”), on a roughly SW to NE 1500 mile gradient. Now very little burns anywhere, relatively, aside from prescribed fire.–Jim]