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  1. Have you noticed the new paper from Thomas Stocker ?

    He gave a presentation about in Copenhagen last monday, and he has done a execellent job of visualizing the climate-targets still within reach and what they will take.

    Article in Science:

    Non-paywalled german news-item with graph:

    Comment by Poul-Henning Kamp — 2 Dec 2012 @ 3:59 AM

  2. Yes, Stocker concludes that we may have passed the point where reductions in carbon dioxide emissions (mitigation) can prevent us from passing to a state of dangerous climate change.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 2 Dec 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  3. Maybe this has been covered here before but I’ll fire it off anyway…

    The Fermi Paradox basically states “Where are all the aliens?”, well, I think we are starting to be able to understand the solution to this problem.

    I think it is safe to say that liquid water is required for a technically advanced society to develop. Likewise, carbon is going to be at the foundation of any biochemistry. If a planet is to have liquid water for the period of ~0.1 to say 1 billion years, then the planetary atmosphere must evolve to balance out the slow and steady increase in the stellar luminosity so as to maintain the Goldilocks conditions. There are are only so many possibilities that allows this to occur. The simplest solution is a earth like situation where slowly decreasing C02 levels turn the trick. However, that sequestered carbon is invariably going to be tied up in fossil fuels, which as we all know are really useful to a technologically developing civilization. The upshoot is that the amount of C02 required early on all but guarantees that there will be more fossil fuels available that can be safely burned. So the civilization has to able to make the leap beyond FF before reaching the climatic tipping point.

    The “carbon trap” scenario can be avoided by having a fast track evolutionary process in a system where the host star is relatively dim with a slowly changing luminosity. However, how realistic is it to have a technical civilization take only ~100 million years to arise?

    Comment by Flakmeister — 2 Dec 2012 @ 12:57 PM

  4. Topic: Climate education for the public

    Since things are so quiet, I wanted to share a good online resource I found out about recently.

    The site is MetEd (, operated by the University Consortium for Atmospheric Research. This site provides short, graphically intensive online courses in Meteorology, Hydrology, Climate Science and Remote Sensing. The classes are free, but you have to sign up for an account. Courses are typically 1-2 hours, with a lot of Flash animations. You can take a quiz at the end of a class and get a certificate of completion.

    I learned about MetEd when I took their StormSpotter training. They have literally hundreds of courses available. Courses are ranked on a difficulty scale of 0 to 5; I’ve found the courses higher than 2 pretty much incomprehensible, since they assume you are a working weather forecaster.

    Meted offers several climate-focused courses that could be understood by anyone. The three I wanted to suggest

    *Introduction to Climatology: a 1.5 hour course in the basics of climate driver at several different spatial and time scales. No math, lots of information!

    *”Climate Change: putting the pieces together”. MetEd’s main climate change course. About 2 hours. Sections have titles like “Is it real?”, “How do we know?”. Very good.

    *”Introduction to Climate Models” Might be hard to understand if you don’t know anything about modelling weather: the target audience is broadcast meteorologists. The message is climate models are different, but that’s OK.

    I would encourage all you climatology guys to check this site out and recommend it to lay people. It’s good stuff!

    Comment by Chett Mitchell — 2 Dec 2012 @ 1:11 PM

  5. @2: Yes, I know the message Stocker delivers is not new, but his way of plotting the information into a single graphic is new, and very communicative.

    [Response: Perhaps I’m biased, but I rather like the way we portrayed the challenge in the Copenhagen Diagnosis report, see: this plot from the report (full report available here). – mike]

    Comment by Poul-Henning Kamp — 2 Dec 2012 @ 1:52 PM

  6. from ClimateProgress:

    “IPCC’s Planned Obsolescence: Fifth Assessment Report Will Ignore Crucial Permafrost Carbon Feedback!”

    “A key reason the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change keeps issuing instantly irrelevant reports is that it keeps ignoring the latest climate science. We have known for years that perhaps the single most important carbon-cycle feedback is the melting of the permafrost.

    Yet a must-read new United Nations Environment Programme report, “Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost” reports this jaw-dropping news:

    ‘The effect of the permafrost carbon feedback on climate has not been included in the IPCC Assessment Reports. None of the climate projections in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report include the permafrost carbon feedback (IPCC 2007). Participating modeling teams have completed their climate projections in support of the Fifth Assessment Report, but these projections do not include the permafrost carbon feedback. Consequently, the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, due for release in stages between September 2013 and October 2014, will not include the potential effects of the permafrost carbon feedback on global climate.'”

    Presumably that means that methane hydrates are not included either.

    [Response: This is a little confused. First of all, there are no such things as ‘IPCC models’ (even if we sometimes refer to the CMIP3 and CMIP5 exercises as such). The IPCC can only assess information that has been made available by researchers and scientists elsewhere – it does no real independent research. The main complaint appears to be that the CMIP5 models don’t include unquantified and highly uncertain feedbacks involving permafrost methane. However, this is neither shocking nor surprising nor particularly important – though I appreciate that this might seem a little counter-intuitive.

    The CMIP5 suite of simulations included 4 future scenarios out to 2100. Now, clearly the number of potential scenarios that could be run is infinite, so the CMIP5 ones were picked to span a range of forcings at the year 2100: 2.6 W/m2, 4.5W/m2, 6 W/m2 and 8.5 W/m2. Those forcings include all changes of CO2 (anthropogenic or as a feedback). Some of the models (such as the GISS model), additionally included a range of CH4 feedbacks related to wetlands. Many simulations were also requested to calculate the range and importance of other feedbacks. Collectively, these simulations and any others that might have been performed focussed more specifically on permafrost emissions can be combined to generate a wider range of potential scenarios, as was done in AR4 for estimates of the CO2 feedbacks. Specifically for the set of runs for with interactive carbon cycles, those models are being run in a mode whereby they calculate the human contribution as a residual (ie. estimating the allowable amount of anthropogenic carbon). If there are additional sources of CO2 beyond those considered in those runs, that would simply reduce the allowed human emissions that would be consistent with the end concentration. The mistake being made here is that there is an assumption that specific simulations from CMIP5 are ‘predictions’ – they are not. They are projections contingent on the scenario. If you want to know what would happen under a different scenario, you need to do a little work – using the existing simulations as raw material. But to claim that because the mainline CMIP5 simulations didn’t run the scenario you care about that means that the IPCC report is already obsolete is not valid. – gavin]

    Comment by wili — 2 Dec 2012 @ 5:04 PM

  7. Here’s some geo-engineering that we might be able to all agree on:

    Fly tankers and fire planes high over areas of the permafrost where the surface temperature is below freezing but there is no snow. Equip the planes with snow making equipment.

    Even a very light dusting of snow will increase the albedo and prevent any further melting by solar radiation. Satellite observations can instruct the pilots where to fly.

    We have to DO something, don’t we?

    Comment by catman306 — 2 Dec 2012 @ 7:24 PM

  8. “The main complaint appears to be that the CMIP5 models don’t include unquantified and highly uncertain feedbacks involving permafrost methane. However, this is neither shocking nor surprising nor particularly important”

    Paraphrasing Wili, “Users will make decisions using data where much or perhaps most of the effects are ignored!”

    Paraphrasing Gavin, “But developers stub out things that aren’t done yet. That’s how development works.”
    Stubs are just fine when building a system, but good developers knows that stubs should either be built out before the system is used, or the user must be protected from falling into a void.

    And this stub, natural carbon feedbacks, is likely to be immense. An orbital seasonal change with essentially no change in total planetary sunlight sent us from ice age to interglacial via carbon feedbacks. Now the stuff reported to the public doesn’t include carbon feedbacks even though our initial forcing is much greater and faster than the orbital one?

    Sorry, but the IPCC should be about science reporting in wartime, not ivory-tower pure-science. You have to have 100% of the pieces accounted for, with each piece fit in with educated guesstimates if that’s the best available for that piece of the puzzle. I can imagine that WW2 convoy captain, “We don’t know how many subs the Germans have, so we’ll make plans that totally ignore subs….”

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 2 Dec 2012 @ 7:46 PM

  9. Jim Larsen, you’ve effectively confused “the small wormy apple on the plate on the sideboard” with “all roughly spherical fruit anywhere ever”

    Many feedbacks have numbers attached.
    Look at the paleo work for the record of the past for the basis.

    The methane catastrophic emergency doesn’t have a number attached. Again, look at the paleo work for the physical basis.
    No past record to draw on, since the PETM at least.

    Sure, it may actually be a watermelon, not a small apple.
    Someone has to weigh the damn thing, though, not assume it’s huge.

    But it might be bigger and faster, you say?
    Than what? By how much?

    Simple answer, as Gavin says buried there at the end of his response. If there’s more than we know about, it gets subtracted from what we can add.

    It’s arithmetic.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2012 @ 7:56 PM

  10. Post 1- Stocker’s paper is at:

    It is based on the assumption that there is a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature. CO2 appears to be increasing expodentially. Some have claimed that there is a log-linear relationship, with CO2 logged. If that is the case, then Stocker’s warnings are too dire. But based on the last 32 years of monthly data, I get a better fit with the linear model than with the log-linear model. Such a short time-period, however, doesn’t tell us a whole lot.

    [Response: you are a little confused. The relationship stocker is using is between eventual temperature and cumulative emissions, not concentration. See the papers by Allen and Meinshausen (google ‘the trillionth tonne’). – gavin]

    Comment by T Marvell — 2 Dec 2012 @ 9:21 PM

    quotes one of the experts who’s been quantifying feedbacks:

    —-excerpt follows —-

    It is increasingly unlikely that global warming will be kept below an increase of 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, a study suggests.

    Data show that global CO2 emissions in 2012 hit 35.6bn tonnes, a 2.6% increase from 2011 and 58% above 1990 levels.

    The researchers say that emissions are the largest contributor to future climate change and a strong indicator of potential future warming.

    The findings have been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

    Meanwhile, the data has been published in the journal Earth System Science Data Discussions.

    Many low-lying nations have used the UN conference, which is currently under way in Doha, to call for a threshold temperature rise less than 2C, arguing that even a 2C rise will jeopardise their future.

    “These latest figures come amidst climate talks in Doha, but with emissions continuing to grow, it’s as if no-one is listening to the scientific community,” said Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

    “I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory,” Prof Le Quere said.

    “We need a radical plan.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2012 @ 9:55 PM

  12. PS, nature’s always got another surprise waiting:
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 January 3; 109(1): 59-62.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1118675109
    PMCID: PMC3252959
    Explosive eruption of coal and basalt and the end-Permian mass extinction

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2012 @ 10:20 PM


    “… Here we describe datasets and a methodology developed by the global carbon cycle science community to quantify all major components of the global carbon budget, including their uncertainties….
    “… This paper is intended to provide a baseline to keep track of annual carbon budgets in the future.
    “All carbon data presented here can be downloaded from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (doi:10.3334/CDIAC/GCP_V2012).”

    Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., 5, 1107-1157, 2012
    © Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
    under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2012 @ 11:38 PM

  14. Re post 10 – Allen et al look at CO2 concentration trends and compare that to temperature trends, past and hypothetical (Figures 1b and 1c). The curves are very similar, meaning a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, but with a lag before reaching peak temperature. Both are apparently increasing expodentially.
    Expodential growth is a frightening concept, which most people probably understand, like something ballooning out of control. “If you think things are bad now, just wait because things are getting worse at a faster and faster pace.” I have not seen this idea pushed in the public discussions of global warming. It should be.

    Comment by T Marvell — 3 Dec 2012 @ 2:34 AM

  15. The November 8 Woodrow Wilson Center seminar on climate mitigation by ‘soft geoengineering is now online :

    Comment by Russell — 3 Dec 2012 @ 5:19 AM

  16. It all may amount to futile gesture at this point, but…for a few years now, some of us have been posting on climate blogs and watching as the world simply goes even more quickly in the wrong direction. Has the time come to ‘put down our pens’? The scientists have done their good work. The politicians have NOT. The only possible bridge that I foresee (aside from scrambling responses to undeniable shock and catastrophe down the road) is this: For a critical mass of the people to bring pressure to bare- which means, essentially, getting out in the streets and, most likely, perform non-violent civil disobedience a la Vietnam war/civil rights. (along with financial pressure a la divestment campaigns) Here’s my question: If this is so, are you (the reader) willing to do this? Are you willing to ‘put your body’ on the line? Are you? To do so would be to ‘speak’ powerfully to your children and their children “I am doing what I can, though it may not suffice”. Lastly, I am not entirely naive- of course, this would have to occur as part of a sustained and well orchestrated campaign to have any chance of success. But- it IS coming to this. is calling a rally/protest/civil disobedience in Washington Feb 18th. Would you come…put your pen down…and, as well, lay your body down?

    Comment by David Goldstein — 3 Dec 2012 @ 12:02 PM

  17. #16–

    For a critical mass of the people to bring pressure to bare- which means, essentially, getting out in the streets and, most likely, perform non-violent civil disobedience a la Vietnam war/civil rights. (along with financial pressure a la divestment campaigns) Here’s my question: If this is so, are you (the reader) willing to do this? Are you willing to ‘put your body’ on the line? Are you?

    Yes. Let’s get organized, ’cause willy-nilly won’t do it.

    And kudos to Dr. Hansen, who is already implementing that advice, with 3 arrests so far.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 Dec 2012 @ 4:32 PM


    Sea Trial Leaves Shell’s Arctic Oil-Spill Gear “Crushed Like A Beer Can”

    The Arctic Challenger’s containment dome, crumpled after a field test in Puget Sound

    Shell Oil has been building and testing equipment designed for the Arctic Ocean here in Puget Sound. In September, a key test of underwater oil-spill equipment was a spectacular failure.

    It forced the energy giant to postpone drilling into oil-bearing rocks beneath the Arctic Ocean until next summer. Shell and its federal regulators have been tight-lipped about the failed test.

    But a freedom-of-information request reveals what happened beneath the surface of Puget Sound.


    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 Dec 2012 @ 8:57 PM

  19. @ #16–Yes, yes, yes–except we shouldn’t completely put down our pen while picking up our pitchforks. We do have to target new audiences, including of course decision makers on various levels.

    I just went to one of McKibben’s rallies and some follow-up organizing events. The divestment campaign looks like it is really on its way to being something big. But it requires lots of help from all informed and concerned parties. Some relevant web sites:

    And of course you can get involved and still do some blogging–it’s still important to keep up with the science.

    Speaking of which, Skeptical Science posted this abstract recently:

    Arctic sea ice limits methane emission from ocean and also absorbs methane from atmosphere

    Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean: Role of shielding and consumption of methane – He et al. (2012)

    ► We compared methane fluxes under two conditions, with and without ice cover.
    ► There is considerable methane potentially storing in central Arctic Ocean.
    ► Sea ice limits methane emission in Arctic.
    ► Sea ice absorbs methane in atmosphere potentially related to both photochemical and biochemical oxidation.

    Abstract: “Sources and sinks of methane, one of the most important greenhouse gases, have attracted intensive attention due to its role in global warming.

    We show that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean regulates methane level through two mechanisms, shielding of methane emission from the ocean, and consumption of methane.

    Using a static chamber technique, we estimated that the methane flux from under-ice water was 0.56 mg(CH4) m−2 d−1on average in central Arctic Ocean, relatively higher than that in other oceans, indicating considerable methane storage in this region under sea ice.

    Average methane flux on under-ice water was higher than that above sea ice, which suggests that sea ice could limit methane emission.

    In addition, negative fluxes on sea ice suggest that there are methane consuming processes, which are possibly associated with both photochemical and biochemical oxidation. Our results provide a general understanding about how sea ice in Arctic affects regional and global methane balance.”

    Citation: Xin He, Liguang Sun, Zhouqing Xie, Wen Huang, Nanye Long, Zheng Li, Guangxi Xing, Atmospheric Environment, Volume 67, March 2013, Pages 8–13,

    I had heard before that sea ice could react with atmospheric CO2, but I don’t recall seeing that it also reacts at the water-ice surface. How big of a deal is this? How much methane is being essentially scrubbed from the sea and air in the Arctic that could soon be free of most of this sink? Is this another major feedback?

    Comment by wili — 3 Dec 2012 @ 10:47 PM

  20. It’s been a slow news week, but I just saw this today:

    UN climate talks deadlocked after days of wrangling

    I hadn’t been aware that more UN climate talks were underway, but my expectations are pretty low that anything of real importance will be agreed on. It’s not even easy to get some countries (including many “advanced” ones like the USA) to admit that AGW is real, let alone coming up with a workable proposal for dealing with it.

    Reading the article, the talks seems to be breaking down over which countries should make the most cuts. Cap & trade seems to be a big point of dispute.

    I’m not optimistic that even when it becomes painfully obvious that AGW is real (like an annual Hurricane Sandy flooding major cities) that politicians will act.

    One thing I have concluded though is that the so-called “cap & trade” is a poor, unworkable solution. Nor do I think that a carbon tax would be much better. Both of those approaches are based on the assumption that people can simply use less energy without any significant degradation in prosperity. While it’s true that there is some low-hanging fruit to be picked on the conservation side (ie more efficient light bulbs, smaller cars), I don’t expect that even super-efficient technology will reduce energy consumption by more than 25%. While every little bit helps, the other 75% has to come from somewhere.

    I’ve gradually been won over to the position that fourth-generation nuclear is the best technology currently available for no-carbon energy production on the scale that we use it now. I realize that pulling this off won’t be easy, and in the post-Fukushima world it’s going to be a hard sell. Hopefully, the prospect of New York and London disappearing beneath the waves will focus minds.

    Good well-informed discussion about fourth-generation nuclear over at but I suspect that most readers of this blog already know about that.


    Comment by Candide — 4 Dec 2012 @ 1:54 AM

  21. #19–Yes, Candide, and thanks for the link. The talks are an annual rite, as part of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) process. Unfortunately, they are by now a highly dysfunctional rite, or so it appears from the outside. There’s a little bit about the history of this at my article:

    (Also a quick take on the scientific history, from Fourier on down.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Dec 2012 @ 7:47 AM

  22. [edit – nuclear is always off topic, sorry]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Dec 2012 @ 11:27 AM

  23. > How big of a deal is this? … Is this another major feedback?

    Wili, long ago, I led cave tours.
    Someone in each group, almost every time, would always ask:

    “How much of the cave hasn’t been explored yet?”

    You know the answer you’re looking for.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Dec 2012 @ 1:19 PM

  24. It will be interesting a post about stratospheric temperature trends, discussing Santer’s PNAS and Thompson-Seidel-Randel’s Nature new papers.
    Thanks for all the work!

    Comment by Mati — 4 Dec 2012 @ 1:42 PM

  25. Wili, Doing the Math: Carbon Zero is the moderate position.

    I’d rather see a negative number, by letting nature rebuild much of the carbon cycle we’ve destroyed without being aware of it. E.g. stop competing with the whales for krill, let them recover to where they handle iron fertilization.

    There are many other reasons to hope we don’t lose the sea ice, including keeping the primary productivity that occurs along the ice edge.

    Just asking “could this be a big scary number” doesn’t accomplish much.

    Look for real numbers. They’re available. Consider The effects of rerouting aircraft around the arctic circle on arctic and global climate
    DOI 10.1007/s10584-012-0462-0

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Dec 2012 @ 2:03 PM

  26. The moderator replied to me (#22): “[edit – nuclear is always off topic, sorry]”

    Then perhaps you missed the comment by Candide (#20), which included the off-topic assertion, “fourth-generation nuclear is the best technology currently available for no-carbon energy production on the scale that we use it now” and the off-topic recommendation of “Good well-informed discussion about fourth-generation nuclear” at the pro-nuclear site Brave New Climate.

    That comment, which remains on the thread, is what I was responding to with my respectful and informative reply, which was deleted.

    [Response:It has nothing to do with your reply. Discussions about nuclear energy here never go anywhere and always end up repeating the same thing. It distracts from what can be done here. It is OT. – gavin]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Dec 2012 @ 2:38 PM

  27. Secular, see the right sidebar? The “Other Opinions” list links to relevant discussions of climate issues not on topic here; remind new commenters, see the over there.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Dec 2012 @ 3:23 PM

  28. Re- Comment by Candide — 4 Dec 2012 @ 1:54 AM

    You say- “I don’t expect that even super-efficient technology will reduce energy consumption by more than 25%.”

    I would be interested in what facts inform your opinion. If you are talking about what the U.S. has to do, a cursory search finds that there are several developed nations with a Human Development Index (HDI, which apparently supersedes and includes Standard of Living) that is very close to that of the U.S. (some better), with per capita CO2 emissions as low as 30% of the U.S. I realize that there are some mitigating factors specific to the U.S., but the difference between 25% and 60% is very large. Steve

    CO2/per capita/country-

    Comment by Steve Fish — 4 Dec 2012 @ 4:18 PM

  29. Regarding the permafrost in #6 If the new paper(s) is right then the permafrost contribution will be quite substantial. Since this is rather new (?) information (the magnitude) I guess it is not in the scenarios (or are there enough runs with such high feedbacks?)… this in turn could easily fool governments which i do not think usually do what Gavin is talking about… making own calculations. They will simply look at some published plot and say ok for 2 degrees we can do this (just tracking CO2 output with the scenarios). So personally I think this is something that should be highlighted.

    [Response: There are too many things to highlight everything. This should indeed be brought up and future projections can use this information to adjust trajectories for allowable emissions contingent on a specific forcing path. Remember that RCPs are not predictions of exactly what will happen, rather they are explorations of the consequences of particular pathways. There are too many possibilities to have GCMs run through every potential eventuality. – gavin]

    Comment by Magnus W — 4 Dec 2012 @ 6:48 PM

  30. Re 20 Candide –

    Both of those approaches are based on the assumption that people can simply use less energy without any significant degradation in prosperity.” – It should not be (maybe in some people’s minds it is). Consider idealized market response (including investment, R&D) to price signals (you can have some ‘corrective add-ons’ to handle market non-ideality, etc.); consider also the costs of (proactive or otherwise) adaptation have to be payed somehow. Here might be your other 75 %:

    451 – (note qualifying statement regarding 464’s link to BNC post)
    468 (start below first “______”)
    (??maybe also see my 531-532; see also 540 )
    … for the sake of completion see also Oct’s 766-767, 775, 694-695 …

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 4 Dec 2012 @ 7:07 PM

  31. Matters nuclear can be discussed on the Brave New Climate Forum
    which is attached to the Brave New Climate site linked on the sidebar here.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Dec 2012 @ 9:05 PM

  32. > too many possibilities to have GCMs run through
    > every potential eventuality

    Is that an unknown unknown, or can you say what part of the possible potential eventualities can be run through? (maybe that’s a Spencer Weart type question, I suppose the answer changes for lots of reasons)

    [Response: this is a known unknown. We know that we don’t know how big an effect this will be. An unknown unknown is something like the polar ozone hole which was not anticipated at all, and not recognized for a year or two even when it happened. – gavin]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Dec 2012 @ 9:43 PM

  33. Due to recent world wide temperature trends. The context of the medieval warming period is now clearer, using Europe as an example of a climate metric is dumb and or deceitful:

    What we know is this, when NW Europe plunges in unusual cold weather the Arctic usually goes the opposite way it gets warmer. When NW Europe plunges into the contrarian called “new ice age” :

    The Arctic warms incredibly. Some ice age indeed.

    And now the opposite, when NW Europe sizzles and is affected by a devastating heat wave. A large part of the Arctic cools:

    World wide temperature trends would deceive if only Medieval Europe is used, December 2010 the contrarian start of the new ice age would mean a deep worldwide freeze, 2010 was the warmest year in history, while 2003 if used as a stellar European example of medieval warming is a distant year away from the top warmest.

    Would someone also give us an idea about loud mouth Morano’s peer reviewed allegations about current US drought, hurricanes and so on being nothing to worry about since way worse events occurred when CO2 concentrations were lower. I smell a contrarian in need of an intervention.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 5 Dec 2012 @ 6:23 AM

  34. Candide wrote: “I don’t expect that even super-efficient technology will reduce energy consumption by more than 25%.”

    From Phys.Org, April 2011:

    This flow chart of the estimated US energy use in 2009, assembled by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), paints a pretty sobering picture of our energy situation. To begin with, it shows that more than half (58%) of the total energy produced in the US is wasted due to inefficiencies, such as waste heat from power plants, vehicles, and light bulbs. In other words, the US has an energy efficiency of 42%.

    And a November 2012 Scientific American blog article says:

    For every one unit of energy that is converted into electricity in power plants today, two units of energy are thrown away. This wasted energy is primarily in the form of heat – or thermal energy – and, there is technology available today that can turn this waste into a usable energy stream.

    Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is a technology that combines power generation and usable heat capture equipment to increase the overall efficiency of the power plant … the majority of electricity generated in the United States comes from power plants fueled by fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil). These plants run with an efficiency in the ballpark of 33%. The remaining 67% is mostly released into the environment in the form of heat. In CHP facilities, the bulk of this heat is recovered and used, leading to real-world efficiencies of more than 75%. Some CHP facilities in the United States have documented overall efficiencies of more than 87%.

    We already have the technology to dramatically reduce US energy consumption with NO adverse impact on productivity or standard of living — simply by eliminating waste.

    As is the case with the technologies for harvesting solar and wind energy, what is urgently needed is not development of new “super” technology, but rapid deployment of the technologies that we already have at hand.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 5 Dec 2012 @ 4:06 PM


    Doom doom doom really now. Cant avoid 2C really and a 1 in 5 chance of reaching 4C which at present levels of CO2 increase (3% per annum) is not looking good.

    Sea level rise is vastly underestimated and methane plumes all added into the mix.

    Personally I would suggest its time to know that severla recent studies from the world bank, PwC and IEA all reported te same thing, namely that we are heading for the cliff.

    The other more interesting article is the one about the 1200 power stations being built mainly in China and India which only really leads to one conclusion.(

    Of course the only possible explanation for the powers that be ignoring the facts of sciene is the idea of it all being only a probability and hence the cynics and deniers still hold sway.

    Fraking seems to be a new buzz word too, especially in the USA but its a false economy as it still locks us in to C02.

    Comment by pete best — 5 Dec 2012 @ 4:16 PM

  36. I tried to send this earlier but it was rejected because it said I didn’t enter an email address… so I apologize if this ends up on your comment list twice… Next time I’m going to copy my comment before I hit the say it button!

    Hopefully my questions will qualify as science Q’s:

    Are you (the climate scientists) scared by what you are seeing in the data?

    … which brings me to my next question: Is this idea I’ve been hearing recently about a 15 year window of opportunity before we go over a major tipping point really true, or is it nothing more than hype and fear? Or just an outlier opinion within the climate science community? If it’s probable, is it the reduced albedo that would drive us over the cliff, or methane release, or something else entirely?

    How do you reconcile your personal views, fears, hopes, and political persuasions with your work as scientists? Are you pressured to stay away from anything that might possibly be construed as political, or are you allowed to be involved at some level?

    I’m struggling to answer these questions for myself, especially with the lack of action on climate over the last 20 years and what seems like a dangerous situation (I’m not a climate scientist, though I would try to be one if I were smart enough, which I’m not…). Where’s that line in the sand? Or is there one? You being on the front lines, I’d be really interested in your opinions on this.

    Comment by InterestedPerson — 5 Dec 2012 @ 6:38 PM

  37. A very nice piece on Arctic methane feedbacks, imvho:

    Mostly old news to those paying attention, but one point was new to me: that isostatic rebound from retreating/melting glaciers may create cracks in capping rock formations that are currently holding fossil methane in place, thus creating pathways to release of said methane to the atmosphere (if I understand it correctly).

    Yet another feedback mechanism? (Or, to use hank’s apt analogy–how deep is this cave, exactly?)

    The only general problem that I see with the article is that it seems to imply that all carbon in permafrost will come out as methane, which certainly is not the case.


    Comment by wili — 5 Dec 2012 @ 7:58 PM

  38. Re:solar hot water enquiry from Kevin McKinney on climate dialogue thread

    if you just want domestic hot water see this page

    personally, i think if you have the parts, the skills and the time, you can halve his cost or better.

    some comments:
    1)if one lives in a climate that requires heated living space, the bang for the buck becomes deafening. look at pex subfloor hydronic heat. if you want lo grade process preheat for anything at all, you shoulda done it long time ago.
    2)big win in snowy zones is to mount the panels vertical facing south. that way you dont get too much heat in summer too.
    3)heat dump, you will get too much heat sometimes, where you wanna throw it away ?
    4)the bigger your heat storage tank the better, and insulate with 4 inch polyiso panels.
    5)at some point you will discover that you need a flat plate heat exchanger (50US$ and up), circulation pumps (~100US$), controllers, thermostats, and look hard at blowoff safeties, as in comment 3)

    cannot be more specific till i know the application


    Comment by sidd — 5 Dec 2012 @ 11:49 PM

  39. “there are too many possibilities to have GCMs run through every potential eventuality. – gavin]”

    Completely true yet not even close.

    When science is translated into politics 100% of ALL eventualities MUST be included EVERY time. Remember the sea level by 2100 fiasco? Scientists knew that the largest component of sea level rise by 2100 was probably going to be from melting ice, but they had huge error bars for the figure. Any sane person would give the whole picture, complete with error bars, but scientists decided to hide ice melt (via mentioning that it was left out). The result was so blatantly obvious that nobody in their right mind could ever believe anything else, even in foresight. Ice melt was determined to equal ZERO by the body politic. Scientists KNEW zero was WRONG. Scientists should have known that their technique would result in zero being the assumed answer. Thus, scientists were bone-ignorant wrong in their selection of communication techniques.

    Yet scientists learned zero from the incident. Now carbon feedbacks have big error bars and scientists are setting them to zero, with the little asterick saying “unknown” that everyone ignores….

    Gee, I wonder what the result will be?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Dec 2012 @ 12:55 AM

  40. Ref solar hot water:
    (capctcha error, and some id-iot decided that telling folks what the error is is wrong. so we all get plenty of “correct-ions”)

    So much de-pends on your skills and your tempera-ment. If you know plumbing and can watch your sys-tems to catch leaks and other problems (like over-heating meaning you need to change your magni-tudes), then do-it-yourself can turn a solar hot -water project into a nearly free fun adventure.

    Lots of hot water tanks get discarded every year. Some for rust. Some for up-grades. Some for a heating element burning out and with labor so high, heck, just replace the whole unit.

    So if you have access to a plumb-er, you can probably snag as many still water-tight gas and/or electric water heaters you want for $10 a pop.

    Solar water heating has many different faces. You can pre-heat your water. You can batch heat your water. You can thermo-siphon it. Hot water is NOT a one-size-fits-all issue.

    Two cheap discarded water heater uses:

    1. Take a gas water heater and run the exhaust of your current gas water heater through it, while piping the “new” water heater before your existing unit. You’ll snag a bit of the waste heat and also warm up the water just because input water temps are generally below amb-ient interior of building.

    2. Take an electric water heater and build an insulated box with the glazed top exposed to sunlight, using it as an input (as in 1) to your current water heater.

    3. Build or buy a flat -panel that you can place below your pre-heat tank. A thermo-siphon loop will keep your pre-heated water as warm as possible without pumping, along with all the issues that brings.

    4. Do the complex thing, as fits your situation or conforms to a retail system.

    Seriously, water heating requires a melding of user life-style and phys-ics. Don’t try this at home without help. This is probably the #1 most do-able re-newable system available, but it is also so personal that it requires a decent amount of thought before pulling the trigger.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Dec 2012 @ 1:26 AM

  41. Further to Sidd, also see BuildItSolar, a low BS-coefficient DIY oriented solar energy site. Loads of DHW stuff there.

    Give a thought to drainback systems. If you’re only doing DHW drainback obviates the need for heat dumping, antifreeze and a bunch of other complications that turn a simple idea into something needlessly expensive and failure-prone.

    Having just proselytized a particular mode, I’ll say that just as with bicycle handlebar style choices and myriad other things this can all become a bit religious and passionate in tone. Watch out for dogma, snake-oil.

    Comment by dbostrom — 6 Dec 2012 @ 2:57 AM

  42. Comments 38-40:

    Thanks sidd, Jim L, and dbostrom. I’m looking at what’s to be a retirement home in central South Carolina, decent insolation, not snowy though an occasional winter fall will happen. I’m keen to make it as green as reasonably possible. Skills: moderate; some plumbing DIY experience, a bit more in carpentry. Money: tight. If that prompts any thoughts, then thanks in advance. If not, then I’m grateful for the links and ideas already provided!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Dec 2012 @ 8:15 AM

  43. Talked to an energy consultant last night after seeing _Lincoln_ (which, do). He said recently solar PV panels have become so cheap that solar thermal collectors have begun to be replaced with solar PV panels, routing the electricity to heaters.

    Same result: local hot air or hot water; eliminates the plumbing.

    Hm. Damn, spreadsheet time again.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2012 @ 9:31 AM

  44. Also worth reading:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2012 @ 10:48 AM

  45. I admire and commend the DIY folks who are building their own residential solar energy systems, both thermal (for water and space heat) and PV.

    It’s worth noting that nowadays, those of us who are not “handy” and don’t have the skills, resources or time to do such things can call up Home Depot, or any number of local or regional solar installers, and get complete turnkey systems installed, just as we would with a gas furnace, heat pump, or conventional water heater.

    Moreover, those of us who also don’t have a bunch of cash on hand can also call a number of companies like First Solar and SunRun, who will install complete turnkey systems with no up-front cost, under a leasing / power-purchase-agreement contract.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Dec 2012 @ 12:48 PM

  46. Surprise:

    Photosynthesis makes oxygen and carbohydrate — the bottom of the food chain happens to a great extent in the oceans. But where?

    Surprise: it’s been happening under the sea ice all along, now that we look:

    “Previous large-scale, synoptic estimates of primary production in the Arctic Ocean typically assume that phytoplankton in the water column beneath the sea ice pack is negligible. However, massive phytoplankton blooms beneath a 0.8-1.3 m thick, fully consolidated, yet melt-ponded, sea ice pack were observed in the north-central Chukchi Sea in July 2011 (Arrigo et al., 2012) …. previous estimates of annual primary production in waters where these under-ice blooms develop may be ~10-times too low (Arrigo et al., 2012)….”

    Nice, safe, protected spot for photosynthesizers to reproduce. What could possibly go wrong with that?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2012 @ 1:20 PM

  47. Re- Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Dec 2012 @ 8:15 AM

    Kevin, from personal experience, my recommendation for your project is that you contact every solar designer/installer within 100 (even more) miles from your property and ask them how much work they do and if they will provide contact information of some owners of their completed systems. This process can be very informative. I found a well-established (25+ years) business, with many good client and peer recommendations, who would design my system and coach me in doing some or all of the work, or do the whole thing with his crew.

    The assembly of my system is in progress and will have 80 gal. storage for domestic hot water heated by the sun and wood during winter rains, 850 gal. hot water storage from the wood boiler for hydronic radiant floor heating. The biggest constraint on the design, besides money, was having off-grid solar because of the diminishing returns when trying to achieve the most efficiency with power hungry pumps and valves. I have visited home owners in my area who told me more than I needed to know about how their systems do and don’t work well and there are a very large number of factors to balance for each individual job that a pro can tell you about. I am very enthusiastic about getting out of my current tiny solar cabin. No more wood stove mess indoors and an, almost, elimination of my propane bill.

    Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 6 Dec 2012 @ 12:48 PM

    Based on discussions with well-established alternative energy engineers I would recommend caution regarding “turnkey” systems because they often involve design decisions based more on their bottom line than your specific situation. The expense of a little independent expertise, even when considering a commercial package, can save money up front and a lot of potential grief later.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 6 Dec 2012 @ 1:46 PM

  48. Re: Solar hot water

    Possibly the simplest project i helped put in:
    Take 1 barrel, lots of pex, fittings, safety valve set to 1 psi, water pump outta washing machine. Make a lidless wood box. Line with black edpm. Stuff a giant coil of pex in it. UV resistant polycarb lid. This is the collector. Stuff two giant coils of pex into the barrel. Hook up one loop to the collector thru water pump,and a tee into the safety valve. Run your cold water input to existing water heater thru the other coil in the barrel. Fill barrel with water. Insulate outside of barrel. Fill collector coil with antifreeze. Turn on pump. Point collector at the sun.

    (the “safety valve” that the farmer designed was a piece of rubber hose bent over and secured with a tunable hose clamp…i snuck in one night and replaced with a proper safety…rig is still in service supplying heat and unfrozen water to animals and farmhouse…at some point barrel was replaced by 250 gallon tote…polycarb needs replaced every few years…your mileage may vary…)


    Comment by sidd — 6 Dec 2012 @ 3:09 PM

  49. Solar power done right seems it’d be personally rewarding one way or another for everybody here. Devil in the details, as always.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2012 @ 3:53 PM

  50. Here’s a link to the UN piece on permafrost melt:

    “Thawing of Permafrost Expected to Cause Significant Additional Global Warming, Not yet Accounted for in Climate Predictions ”

    “Once this process begins, it will operate in a feedback loop known as the permafrost carbon feedback, which has the effect of increasing surface temperatures and thus accelerating the further warming of permafrost – a process that would be irreversible on human timescales.

    Arctic and alpine air temperatures are expected to increase at roughly twice the global rate, and climate projections indicate substantial loss of permafrost by 2100. A global temperature increase of 3°C means a 6°C increase in the Arctic, resulting in an irreversible loss of anywhere between 30 to 85 per cent of near-surface permafrost.”

    Comment by wili — 6 Dec 2012 @ 4:21 PM

  51. > Fill barrel with water. Insulate outside of barrel

    Do any collectors that use just distilled water include a sterilization step?

    I’d want to build with copper instead of plastic anyhow, to avoid even a slight chance of contaminating the household hot water some day.

    A panel could include some pipe in a focused hot spot — doesn’t need to boil to Pasteurize. Or, heck, boil a few ounces at a time, that could be happening in daylight inside a sealed system; a steam pump would run in daylight. Use distilled water, drain back overnight to storage (minus enough left to prime the pump. No antifreeze.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2012 @ 4:56 PM

  52. Meanwhile back in Doha, the inimitable Viscount Monckton has been stripped of his UN credentials and given the keys to the Rub’ al Khali for pinching the microphone of Myanmar

    Comment by Russell — 6 Dec 2012 @ 4:59 PM

  53. (answering my own question): The Original Geyser Pumping Solar Water Heater seems likely; they promise info for homebuilders soon.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2012 @ 5:07 PM

  54. Re:Solar Hot Water

    1)i seem to have slipped a zero, i set that safety at 10psi not 1 psi
    also direct the blowoff down toward the floor (1 foot off the floor, just like the blowoff on your hot water heater, with a bucket under it, so you collect the antifreeze and pump it back in after the hissy fit is done
    2)Insulate underneath the barrel BEFORE you put stuff in it. Manhandling a full barrel onto a 4″ piece of polyiso is not necessary. Throw some bleach in the barrel.

    Mr. Hank Roberts writes on the 6th of December, 2012 at 4:56 PM:

    “Do any collectors that use just distilled water include a sterilization step?”

    you can use whatever fluid suits your fancy. water has freeze possibility in northern climes. probably want UV light to sterilize

    oil is a possibility, for heat transfer, storage and exchange, but it is messy when you screw up…that said, I have used it in all three roles

    “I’d want to build with copper instead of plastic anyhow, to avoid even a slight chance of contaminating the household hot water some day.”

    pex is pretty tough, and copper is expensive

    Two different loops have to fail at once for contamination. Both would indicate in pressure and temperature. Don’t put fittings inside the barrel.

    “… a steam pump …”

    expensive, can be done, remember you can’t push lo pressure steam, only pull it. pumping a mix of steam and water will destroy most pumps. hi pressure steam will kill you quickly, and all others within considerable range. Would not recommend unless you really know what you are doing.

    rather than pumpage, i would design thermosiphon, but lo, and behold, it’s been done, look at evacuated tube collectors. Alas, they use antifreeze…but they are getting cheaper and cheaper.

    “Use distilled water, drain back overnight to storage (minus enough left to prime the pump. No antifreeze.”

    Warm climates are nice. Antifreeze these days is propylene glycol, not nearly as toxic as ethylene.


    Comment by sidd — 6 Dec 2012 @ 6:28 PM

  55. New report from NOAA on sea level rise released today!

    The report gives upper and lower bounds on global mean SLR until year 2100. They say: “We have very high confidence (>9 in 10 chance) that global mean sea level will rise at least 0.2 meters (8 inches) and no more than 2.0 meters (6.6 feet) by 2100.”

    It also provides four scenarios that can be used for planning, at 0.2 , 0.5 , 1.2 and 2.0 meter SLR by 2100 respectively.

    I think it is really good to promote scenario thinking in regards to SLR. However, it becomes a bit confusing when they make probabilistic assessments of upper and lower bounds and at the same time say that “specific probabilities or likelihoods are not assigned to individual scenarios in this report, and none of these scenarios should be used in isolation.”

    If you assign a high likelihood to “no more than 2.0 meters”, then it seems to me that you at the same time would have to assign a 2.0 m scenario much less likelihood than the lower scenarios.

    I also find the justification of the confidence claims weak.

    But hey! It is huge that NOAA and the U.S. National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee now take 2 meter scenarios into serious consideraation, which may be warranted in high-consequence outcomes.

    You find the report here:

    Parris, A., P. Bromirski, V. Burkett, D. Cayan, M. Culver, J. Hall, R. Horton, K. Knuuti, R. Moss, J. Obeysekera, A. Sallenger, and J. Weiss. 2012. Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the US National Climate Assessment. NOAA Tech Memo OAR CPO-1. 37 pp.

    Comment by perwis — 6 Dec 2012 @ 6:30 PM

  56. Kevin McKinney. Please consider passive solar. Somewhere I have some plans somebody dug up for me; they also suggested DIY rather than paying for fancy. The house I stayed in for a year was a tall tower – expensive windows (good triple paned) a must. Sunward size was a three-story garden with outdoor shower, good for sunbathing when it was 20F outside. Pump pushed air below floor (old Roman concept). Backup heat was rarely needed, but I’ve never seen any other house that looked like it. Siting essential.

    I’d suspect incorporating the idea of passive solar might be possible without going to whole way, if you can find a sunny exposure and use the heating space as insulation, helping cool and freshen air and providing infinite pleasure.

    Russell, trust you to have the juicy news. What a wonderful fillip for the day!

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 Dec 2012 @ 6:35 PM

  57. Mike Mann on AccuWeather (!)

    (it’s rather good)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 Dec 2012 @ 8:04 PM

  58. World’s Big Trees Are Dying: Alarming Increase in Death Rates Among Trees 100-300 Years Old

    That is certainly happening here. Except along seasonal and permanent streams and rivers all the trees were planted. The oldest ones, just over 100 years old, are indeed dying. Some topple in winter winds when the ground is saturated. Others appear to be diseased.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Dec 2012 @ 9:37 PM

  59. 55 Susan A,

    Yes, do it yourself will save tons of money, and DIY passive probably gives the best return of all solar. A greenhouse on the south side with a solar hot water system inside is a grand investment in your house.

    The simplest DIY system is a breadbox heater. Get a plumber to find a good used hot water tank for you (bigger is better), strip off the insulation, paint it solar-rated flat black, and replace the anode rod. Put it in an insulated box (Don’t forget to include a plugged hole for anode rod replacement) and point the glazed side (single in the south, double in the north, triple for the extreme) to the southern sky. You’ve got a breadbox heater that will pre-heat your hot water and won’t freeze in all but the most extreme climates. Put 2 or 3 of these in series and you’ll have plenty of hot water. (One problem with solar hot water is that each use dilutes the hot water. Use 20% of your hot water and you don’t have 80% left, but 100% left at a temperature 20% closer to your inlet temperature (depending on stratification VS time…). This dilution and the resulting temperature drop can be mitigated by using multiple tanks, which isolates the output tank from the cold input water.) I could see some folks getting up and running for a hundred dollars a tank.

    Add in a bypass and drain and you’ve got a more efficient system (in early morning the solar tank temperature could be below the water supply’s temperature), but that requires work or expensive smart systems. Same with an insulated cover. A batch water heater that closes in the dark – haven’t seen one myself, but it’s not rocket science. I’m amazed that nobody sells a breadbox that uses a movable panel(s) as an insulated cover at night and a reflector during the day.

    Then there’s the thermosiphon conundrum. If you collect heat in an array that’s lower than the storage tank, you can put in a pipe from the top of the storage tank to the top of the collector and another from the bottom of the storage tank to the bottom of the collector. Gravity will automagically transport heat from your collector to your storage tank. You could alternatively install a solar-powered pump, allowing for the storage tank to be placed lower than the collector. But in either case you’ll end up with an easily-frozen array.

    So you can either:

    1. use antifreeze in the collector water. This means you have to have a separate loop for the collector, with a heat exchanger to transfer energy from the collector loop to the storage tank loop. If passive (thermosiphon), then it has to be below the storage tank and above the collector. With pumped, you’ll need a second PV-powered pump. This technique has the bonus of allowing for a non-pressurized collector, which is much more forgiving. It also isolates a cold collector from the system so the problem of feeding colder than normal water to your existing hot water tank is eliminated.

    2. Allow for manual draining of the collector via a drain valve and a bypass valve. Mess up and forget (or be on vacation) and your system freezes, potentially causing leaks.

    3. Put in a fancy management system. Well, now you’re leaving DIY and calling a professional or buying a pre-engineered system.

    Doing the math and considering the variables is daunting, as the options can drive you nuts. And you’ll surely see an obviously better way after you’re done. So, DIY is grand for soldering the joints, but nearly everybody would be better off enlisting professional help for design. Most any solar engineer’s first water heater won’t come close to optimal for the client’s lifestyle and climate. Design it yourself means you’re gonna be that unlucky first customer. And solar hot water is kind of a Goldilocks issue. Size your system too large and you’ll either scald someone or be forever having to dump hot water.

    In the end, a cheap breadbox or three will suit many folks. Lots of bang and few bucks, with no moving parts. If your water is heated by gas then you’re spending perhaps $200 a year; if electrical then ~$450. Even at $500 a DIY triple breadbox solar hot water system will pay for itself in a couple of years.

    And I’m peeved that solar hot water isn’t an off the shelf item tailored to each climate region. Talk about low hanging fruit! Domestic solar hot water in mass-produced quantities is a no-brainer for the consumer and a hefty slice of the global warming solution. If we took all that wind turbine and EV money and put it into solar hot water….what? an order of magnitude better results?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Dec 2012 @ 2:09 AM

  60. 54 sidd said, “pex is pretty tough, and copper is expensive”

    Pex is a great insulator and degrades. Copper is the worst insulator and lasts. Using anything but copper in a water-based heat exchange system that’s exposed to sunlight requires serious analysis.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Dec 2012 @ 2:37 AM

  61. Oh, one cool Pex use is a collector with no joints. If all joints are kept in areas protected from freezing, then a Pex thermosiphon collector can be allowed to freeze. Though a crappy material for transferring heat, Pex can make for a cheap system. (No idea how many freeze cycles Pex can handle, but replacing it will be cheap.)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Dec 2012 @ 2:48 AM

  62. Steve, sidd, thanks very much!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Dec 2012 @ 8:16 AM

  63. My global warming thriller, the answer to State of Fear is live on Amazon. I had no other choice but put it on Kindle. The Realclimate team is in the acknowledgements. Reviews would be appreciated.

    Comment by Mark A. York — 7 Dec 2012 @ 11:21 AM

  64. …and Hank and Jim and Susan!

    Yes, we will ultimately redo the structure and will definitely use passive solar principles. We have a southern exposure to the lake, which means no-one can build a sun-blocking high-rise. But all that is way off yet.

    No reason not to build solar chops a bit and save cash and emissions in the meantime.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Dec 2012 @ 11:37 AM

  65. Re:Solar Hot Water

    One last thing. I have no idea what the permitting requirements might be for those reading who want to do solar hot water. In projects in ag zoning, you can mostly do anything you like as long as it dont spook the livestock. The ones i have done in less permissive communities, the permits haven’t been that hard to pull, inspectors have been uniformly friendly, helpful and curious.


    Comment by sidd — 7 Dec 2012 @ 11:39 AM

  66. Please, somebody competent in the required subjects create a blog or find one for the RC readers who want to do homebuilt solar.

    We might all get along.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Dec 2012 @ 12:01 PM

  67. One for the tree scientists:

    “… a rate that will surprise tree scholars (and lumber companies), who’ve long assumed that trees, like most living things, slow down as they age.” National Geographic story
    (hat tip to Krulwich at NPR)

    Is this also known about big trees in other forests?

    How about those last remnant old growth forests in Alaska, for example — that the Forest Service is under pressure to log in a hurry now?

    Do those bigger trees also speed up CO2 capture as they get older?
    Is this news about old growth forest generally?

    And will this change the carbon-capture calculation?

    (I’ve been protecting 10 acres of almost-old-growth, and working at 40 acres of recent-forest-fire restoration — everybody needs a hobby — but I’ve never been able to get good numbers on carbon capture, and this growth rate number would be worth capturing. How?)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Dec 2012 @ 1:01 PM

  68. > PEX
    isn’t just pex; varieties, complications:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 Dec 2012 @ 1:03 PM

  69. Solar is simple in concept but complex in execution. A proper solar home will have a constituency of sorts. For example, a solar hot water system designed for evening bathers will be completely different than one for morning bathers.

    And it’s all still frontier construction. Think of the poor inspector. He sees a bunch of black-painted PEX loop-de-looped in a flat collector. He knows it’s gonna freeze and probably doesn’t have a clue how long it will last in this application. The homeowner could sell and if the buyer develops leaks he could get flak. Does he pass this solar “experiment”? If a neighbor is whining, I’m guessing no.

    [Response: This is all fascinating, but I think we’re done. Thanks – gavin]

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 7 Dec 2012 @ 4:27 PM

  70. @ Hank 66: “Please, somebody competent in the required subjects create a blog or find one for the RC readers who want to do homebuilt solar.” Sounds like a good idea – RC may even get back to climate science! – so I searched [homebuilt solar “blog OR forum OR discussion”] and got a long list of results. is a list of such sites. and are two of the better sites in the top dozen results.
    Have fun, guys!

    Comment by MalcolmT — 7 Dec 2012 @ 6:14 PM

  71. Questions: We hear the if the climate gets too hot that that could shut down the THC thermohaline circulation. I watched a video where it was conjectured that shutdown of the THC could result in the seas going stagnant. True? Also does anybody know what happened to it in the past at times when the climate has been even hotter, (oligocene, miocene)?

    Thank you.

    Comment by Woodwardia — 7 Dec 2012 @ 6:38 PM

  72. Two papers on the cryosphere discuss

    Tedesco et al. on Greenland

    Figs 7e and 8 are nice. GRACE apparently sez 627 Gt for summer and 574Gt for the year, 2sigma below 2003-2012 mean, 1.5 mm SLR or so this year. The GRACE mass waste curve is more definitely supralinear.

    The other one that caught my eye
    Sole et al. on Fjords and What Goes On Under The Surface (not the actual title…)

    “Rising ice sheet runoff therefore increases the sensitivity of KG (and other Greenland marine-terminating glaciers) to ocean warming.”


    Comment by sidd — 7 Dec 2012 @ 7:30 PM

  73. Jim Larsen says: 7 Dec 2012 at 2:09 AM

    [somebody on the Internet is wrong]

    Comment by dbostrom — 8 Dec 2012 @ 2:05 AM

  74. sidd @72
    I’m seeing a blank fig 7e & I’m not entirely sure what your words ‘The GRACE mass waste curve is more definitely supralinear.’ mean but that Figure 8 yields numbers for mass loss that show the summer melts of 2010 & 2012 quite dramatically when the annual rate of mass change is plotted as per my graph here.

    Comment by MARodger — 8 Dec 2012 @ 7:14 AM

  75. [Response: This is all fascinating, but I think we’re done. Thanks – gavin]

    Well, I’m certainly satisfied. Thanks to all…

    “Ask and ye shall receive”–and hope it doesn’t take things too OT!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Dec 2012 @ 8:07 AM

  76. For Woodwardia — google (plain google, and Scholar) for
    paleo proxy thermohaline circulation
    No simple clear single answer to your question. If you can name the program where you saw what you describe, looking that up and finding out what sources it claims for what it said would be useful.

    For MARodger: fig. 7e shows up in a PDF downloaded a few minutes ago, might try again; maybe a better copy is available since you checked.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Dec 2012 @ 11:00 AM

  77. Looks to me like GRIS will be losing a teraton a year right when minimum arctic sea ice goes to zero, say by 2020. That’s 3mm/yr from GRIS alone. The Shepherd reconciliation leads me to believe that APIS should be contributing a large fraction of a mm/yr SLR by then. And lets hope that WAIS doesn’t go nonlinear.

    The Gregoire saddle collapse paper estimates peak SLR around 20mm/yr at MWP1A (there are also higher estimates in the literature.) Not so far away now.


    Comment by sidd — 8 Dec 2012 @ 2:13 PM

  78. Hey everybody, I originally derived this result independently because of my need to scrub carbon dioxide from the cabins of a large methane rocket sitting on the poles of the moon next to very large dark thermal cold traps and reservoir craters, but upon further research it appears that cryogenic carbon dioxide CO2 capture is a very promising technique, especially when applied to massive liquid natural gas terminals and their feed streams. So it really looks like this technique could be scaled up globally to me.

    You can look it up, it’s already happening. There appears to be a reasonable cryogenic thermal cascade through commonly used and encountered simple cryogens.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 8 Dec 2012 @ 4:33 PM

  79. Hello everybody, I originally derived this result independently because of my need to scrub carbon dioxide from the cabins of a large methane rocket sitting on the poles of the moon next to very large dark thermal cold traps and reservoir craters, but upon further research it appears that cryogenic carbon dioxide CO2 capture is a very promising technique, especially when applied to massive liquid natural gas terminals and their feed streams. So it really looks like this technique could be scaled up globally to me.

    You can look it up, it’s already happening. There appears to be a reasonable cryogenic thermal cascade through commonly used and encountered simple cryogens.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 8 Dec 2012 @ 4:34 PM

  80. rereading the Gregoire saddle collapse paper, compare Fig 4 there with Tedesco
    figs 1a),4a)-4b),6a)-6c),7a)-7d)

    Is it just me or do i see the flanks of the saddle at 65N collapsing ? on the order of a large fraction of a meter per year. And ELA is rising. And the Gregoire paper has no ice dynamics in it…but ice moves.


    Comment by sidd — 8 Dec 2012 @ 5:38 PM

  81. I was wrong, in that ice motion is not in the Gregoire paper. In fact, they do have things like basal and other velocities in the model. Nevertheless, I think it is underestimate of how fast GRIS can waste. As usual I could b wrong.


    Comment by sidd — 8 Dec 2012 @ 7:57 PM

  82. I’m trying to understand what is known, or if not know then a range of confidence prediction, regarding the climate in 2040 if current trends continue.

    If I understand correctly (…it’s quite likely not :-\ ) then in three decades we will have
    i) a global average temp increase of 1<x<2 degrees C
    ii) a noticeable average sea level rise of at least one foot compared to 2000.

    I don't know what the effects of these changes are; what I've read through links here indicate that a seemingly trivial average temp increase leads to surprising climate disruptions. Intuitively, two or three degrees F is nothing – so the growing season is a little longer, maybe bugs move north a few miles. Nature does not respect intuition, and I've also read that the a mere few degrees changes weather patterns, insect and mature tree ecology.

    How much certainty do we have about climate 30 years out? Will it be a matter of inconvenience (moving structures a half mile back or a few feet up from today's shoreline, adjusting what is grown where) or a what-the-h3ll disruption such as multi-year droughts and massive soil erosion? Do we know or must we guess?

    Here I assume that efforts to control CO2 output do not begin until after effects are obvious to the general population, so that means current output continues until at least 2020.

    The scenarios I've read here reference 2100. In historical time that's trivial, but average folks absolutely don't care about events a hundred years out unless it involves mile-wide asteroids or time-traveling robots.

    Comment by Non-Scientist — 9 Dec 2012 @ 9:01 PM

  83. “Why We Disagree About Climate Change” by Mike Hulme

    I have now read the entire book and I have started reading Chapter 3 for the second time. I still part company with “Why We Disagree About Climate Change” by Mike Hulme on page 77 where Hulme advocates Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions.” Kuhn didn’t learn the lesson that Nature rules, not scientists.

    Intentional confusion between subjectivity and uncertainty starts on page 84. If you are already a physicist or chemist, you already know the difference. For humanities people, this book would cause confusion. There is no sufficient instruction on what scientific uncertainty is. Hulme seems to be trying to cause intentional confusion between subjectivity and uncertainty, but Hulme did not prove that science is subjective.

    In the last chapter, Hulme says we should quit trying to stop Global Warming and use it to inspire creativity. Hulme has gone Dr Strangelove or Hulme has sold out to the fossil fuel industry. My guess is the latter.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 10 Dec 2012 @ 1:25 AM

  84. “My guess is the latter.”

    Is there a confidence level on that or are you trying to confuse us?

    Comment by flxible — 10 Dec 2012 @ 9:41 AM

  85. > How much certainty do we have about climate 30 years out?

    There’s no simple, single answer to your broad questions.
    Click the “Start Here” button at the top of the page.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Dec 2012 @ 11:17 AM

  86. Gregory et al. , Journal of Climate on closure of twentieth century sea level budget.

    The last sentence of the abstract:

    “Semi-empirical methods for projecting GMSLR depend on the existence of a relationship between global climate change and the rate of GMSLR, but the implication of our closure of the budget is that such a relationship is weak or absent during the 20th century.”

    So, twentieth century is not a good period to look for such semi-empirical relationship ? I look forward to a response from Rahmstorf et al.


    Comment by sidd — 10 Dec 2012 @ 1:40 PM

  87. Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Earthwise newsletter- “Stop Climate Misinformation in the Media”

    An analysis of climate science in the media by UCS found that “93 percent of the references made during a six-month period on Fox News Channel were misleading, and 81 percent of the references made during a one-year period in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages were misleading.”

    Also, “Fox News is America’s most popular cable news channel, with about 1.9 million prime-time viewers, and the Wall Street Journal is America’s most popular newspaper, with a daily readership of more than 2 million.”

    The full story and statistics are at-

    Unfortunately I couldn’t find the excellent cartoon that is in the paper newsletter (called drawing conclusions) that pictures energy CO’s feeding power to a snow job machine that is blowing snow onto the capital under “2012 warmest year on record so far,” and the comment “The only job program they can pass.”

    And so it goes. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 10 Dec 2012 @ 2:52 PM

  88. 87 Steve Fish said, “An analysis of climate science in the media by UCS found that “93 percent of the references made during a six-month period on Fox News Channel were misleading, and 81 percent of the references made during a one-year period in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages were misleading.” ”

    Perhaps this is more a revelation of my bias than theirs, but I find those numbers suspiciously low. Finding a single spot-on article (or even one which would be more likely to hit the board than the spectators behind the thrower) in the WSJ is beyond difficult.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 10 Dec 2012 @ 11:10 PM

  89. You may be interested in this paper on sea level rise:

    “The reconstructions account for the approximate constancy of the rate of GMSLR during the 20th century, which shows small or no acceleration, despite the increasing anthropogenic forcing. Semi-empirical methods for projecting GMSLR depend on the existence of a relationship between global climate change and the rate of GMSLR, but the implication of our closure of the budget is that such a relationship is weak or absent during the 20th century.”

    Gregory et al 2012. Twentieth-century global-mean sea-level rise: is the whole greater than the sum of the parts? Journal of Climate 2012, doi:

    Comment by JesusR — 11 Dec 2012 @ 2:28 AM

  90. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 10 Dec 2012 @ 11:10 PM

    You say- “Perhaps this is more a revelation of my bias than theirs, but I find those numbers suspiciously low. Finding a single spot-on article (or even one which would be more likely to hit the board than the spectators behind the thrower) in the WSJ is beyond difficult.”

    You obviously haven’t read the article because the Union of Concerned Scientists included their data and methods so, if they have a bias, it is at least supported by evidence. What about your bias? Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 11 Dec 2012 @ 11:27 AM

  91. More biology:

    “… photographs of ice were taken last year by University of Washington graduate student Jeff Bowman and his professor Jody Deming … in the central Arctic Ocean …. Their single focus was the study of frost flowers, a strange phenomenon where frost grows from imperfections in the surface ice amid extreme sub-zero temperatures nearing -22C or -7.6F, forming spiky structures that have been found to house microorganisms. In fact, the bacteria found in the frost flowers is much more dense than in the frozen water below it, meaning each flower is essentially a temporary ecosystem….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Dec 2012 @ 11:39 AM

  92. To see frost flowers, leave the “u” off of the end of Hank Roberts link. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 11 Dec 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  93. Why Climate Change Denial Is Just Hot Air (added link to interactive map on “general” studies)

    Originating from this excellent posting by National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell

    Comment by prokaryotes — 11 Dec 2012 @ 12:01 PM

  94. Turns out there were fewer actual conservatives than the faked large numbers of them that political spin firms claimed — when renting those mailing lists at considerable $PROFIT$

    “It may be that major parts of American conservatism have become such a racket that a kind of refounding of the movement as a cause is necessary”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Dec 2012 @ 8:02 PM

  95. 90 Steve Fish,

    My response was tongue-in-cheek, but in fact the paper doesn’t note what the 19% so-called non-biased references were in the WSJ. So… did you read the paper? :-)

    They did mention the 3 Fox cases. One was “a correspondent noting that environmentalists say burning coal is a leading cause of climate change”. I’d have to see the tape to make a robust conclusion, but I think I disagree with this counting as “factual representation”, since in Fox-speak “environmentalists say” translates to “lazy hippies in dirty clothes say”.

    The second was a clip of Henry Waxman (D-CA). Well, that’s better. Not a Fox employee saying anything, but hey, they did broadcast it. I’d have to see the clip and the surrounding chatter to determine if I’d count this one.

    The third is a non-explained video of Bill O’Reilly. Given that Bill is Bill, I suspect the bit of truth that leaked past his lips was trivial.

    So yeah, even the most devout liar will leak small truths occasionally, so 7% or 19% truthfulness can be accidentally achieved… unless one weighs the incidents. “Environmentalists say” is surely less than 10% of the “incidence weight” of “global warming is a hoax” It’s inaccurate to count “the noting of the opinion of a marginalized group” the same as “a direct denunciation”.

    So, I started out tongue-in-cheek, but your prodding has prompted me to upgrade that to saying the UCS results are misleading because they give equal weights regardless of significance or magnitude of each incident, and the results might be based on too literal an analysis. Code-words, such as “environmentalist”, can fool an outsider into thinking a slam is a compliment.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 12 Dec 2012 @ 12:59 AM

  96. 40 Salamano said, “In Hank’s example, the “goal” is to devise ways for me to “Stop” my fossil fuel use. Killing me would be extraordinarily successful, but”

    Don’t forget! If you’ve got kids then your future emissions will be mostly done by the cell or four you contributed to the future of mankind, so you’ll have to kill your kids and grandkids, too. :-)

    What does it take to get us to stop? Renewables won’t get down to $30 a barrel equivalent any time soon, but at $30 most fossil fuel producers would still pump and mine. A few percentage points movement in oil supply wreaks havoc with oil prices, so at 75% of current consumption, oil would surely cost less than $30. You can’t drop world fossil fuel consumption significantly without drastic price drops that make all other energy sources ridiculously expensive in comparison.

    And tackling climate change means writing off most of the $20 trillion in proven fossil reserves. (40% of the world’s GDP). It isn’t just the super-rich; Mom and Pop and their 401K might not want to sign on, because “tackling climate change” means allocating which of the planet’s proven reserves can be extracted, and which become instantly worthless. Once we choose a low-carbon future the financial markets won’t allow such a huge error in valuation to be kicked down the road.

    So, my take is that the loss of wealth involved in reducing the value of proven reserves plus the inelasticity of fossil supply means it’s going to take pervasive worldwide existential fear to do much better than keeping worldwide emissions constant. There’s nothing like a demo to instil fear, so that means sea ice demise, another big increase in temperature, and wild wild weather. Science will advance, and that will help a lot, but I think the debate will turn as the view outside changes.

    You mentioned direct action. Protests can help. Sitting or standing in the way until hauled off to jail is the time-honored way to fight the system. Worked pretty well (so far) with Keystone. There’s a pretty hard limit though, especially with today’s focus on hating terrorism. Blowing up Hummers or sabotaging a coal plant is not going to help the cause.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 12 Dec 2012 @ 7:15 AM

  97. Steve at 47,


    BTW, I’m still 100% in favor of a revolution and by that I mean a fundamental paradigm change away from the current business as usual model.
    If along the way a few apple carts get flipped over… C’est la vie!

    Here’s a few random thoughts and snippets of news.

    My personal vote is still doing more with less energy. Walk more, ride a bike, get an eletric assist velomobile, install LED lighting. turn the thermostat up or down a few notches as needed. Dry your clothes on a clothes line. Unplug your vampire appliances… etc,etc…And last but not least, try not to reproduce so much >;-)

    Then look again at what we can do with solar and wind, smart grids, off grid, pumped hydro storage, compressed air etc… I have family in Germany, it’s amazing how much hot water they can produce from evacuated vacuum solar panels in the dead of winter.

    Solar using up land for food is a strawman argument we can use already existing rooftops and parking lots.
    Not to mention we could raise insects for protien instead of cows, chickens and pigs raised on corn. The savings in water per pound of protien produced alone should make it a no brainer.

    Recent studies have examined the potential of a full-scale deployment of rooftop solar in particular nations, if not the world. A 2005 study by Navigant Consulting concludes that covering about half the rooftop space in the US could replace the use of coal for electricity generation. 3 A less detailed analysis of England’s rooftop resources concludes that the yearly production of rooftop PV panels could exceed the nation’s electricity use. 4 5 Both of these studies posit PV conversion efficiencies of below 20 percent, and neither considers the use of thermal or hybrid PV/thermal panels. In the present analysis, I will explore a worldwide conversion scenario using solar panels which, although having much higher efficiencies than today’s, are feasible without fundamental technological breakthroughs.

    Solar efficiency is still evolving this just hit the news:

    “PlaCSH is also capable of capturing a large amount of sunlight even when the sunlight is dispersed on cloudy days, which results in an amazing 81% increase in efficiency under indirect lighting conditions when compared to conventional organic solar cell technology. All told, PlaCSH is up to 175% more efficient than conventional solar cells.”

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 12 Dec 2012 @ 9:34 AM

  98. Hank Roberts quoted: “It may be that major parts of American conservatism have become such a racket that a kind of refounding of the movement as a cause is necessary”

    American “conservatism” has become an entertainment demographic.

    It’s important to recognize that, if you want to understand how, and why, global warming denial has become pervasive among “conservatives”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Dec 2012 @ 11:04 AM

  99. Incremental, but cool:

    (Prospective ‘green’ battery technology–bioelectrodes?)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Dec 2012 @ 11:22 AM

  100. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 12 Dec 2012 @ 12:59 AM

    You didn’t read it! There were 9 instances of accurate information listed for the Wall Street Journal in the data section. Your unsupported opinion regarding how a group of scientists interpreted their data is empty, and by overstating the case against the denialists you give them ammunition and a bad name to environmentalists. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 12 Dec 2012 @ 11:37 AM

  101. |_| I affirm that I have cited a good source
    |_| I worked it out myself, see my work at my blog ________________

    > writing off most of the $20 trillion in proven
    > fossil reserves. (40% of the world’s GDP)

    Thought experiment:

    You have proven reserves: three bullets in a six-chamber revolver.

    You’ll be playing Russian R**l*tt*.

    Does the value of the unfired bullets increase for you each time you pull the trigger?

    Using only one of them takes you out of the game?

    GDP can be a negative number. Count the environment.
    Burning more carbon degrades the environment.

    If you don’t count the environment — well, as Harrison Schmidt said on the Moon:

    “When you’ve seen one Earth, you’ve seen them all”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Dec 2012 @ 3:03 PM

  102. Re- Comment by Fred Magyar — 12 Dec 2012 @ 9:34 AM

    I don’t know of any conventional organic solar cells and the experimental ones are not as efficient as silicon ones, so the improvement in efficiency touted in the ExtremeTech article is a bit misleading. There is always some new technology for photovoltaics and batteries, but they don’t ever seem to come to the market.

    Right now conventional solar electric technology is pretty good but for the most bang for the buck, solar hot water and other energy efficiencies can reduce CO2 release by a very large amount. Conservation does not require any unproven technology, components are off the shelf, and it can be attained very quickly. At least for North America, there are several nations with equivalent or better quality of life that generate 50% to 70% less CO2 per capita.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 12 Dec 2012 @ 3:03 PM

  103. Steve @50,
    I certainly agree with your points!

    As for the efficiency of the solar modules in question, this isn’t really the proper forum to discuss the merits but in case you are interested, the actual research paper on which the article was based, is linked to at the very bottom of the article.

    Though I also agree that from theoretical physics and experiments in a lab to actual panels in a store, it might take a some time. In the mean time, high quality polycrystalline panels have become quite affordable.

    Comment by Fred Magyar — 12 Dec 2012 @ 4:16 PM

  104. sidd – it would be great if a discussion about global warming would break out here. I read that abstract when it appeared on AGW Observer. My thinking, as a lay person, is there was not much nonlinear melting during the 20th Century, so the abstract is stating the obvious.

    Comment by JCH — 13 Dec 2012 @ 11:02 AM

  105. For some reason, Gregory et al. remind me of the review in the 26 August 2012 Nature Geoscience by Carlson and Winsor, which differentiate NH response between marine based and land based ice sheets. Land based ice reacts immediately to changes in energy input, whereas marine bedded ice sheets tend to episodic, abrupt collapse later in the cycle. I tend to doubt that the latter fit neatly into semi-empirical models…


    Comment by sidd — 13 Dec 2012 @ 1:20 PM

  106. > energy efficiencies

    Cautionary information here about undesired consequences: well worth a few minutes if you own or plan to build a house

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Dec 2012 @ 2:20 PM

  107. Any comments to this regarding Sea level rise? It follows that a modest increase in temperature will not be sufficient to compensate for the increase in accumulation… etc

    Comment by Magnus W — 13 Dec 2012 @ 4:21 PM

  108. 99 SecularA said, “American “conservatism” has become an entertainment demographic.”

    I happen to know and love many who represent the true core of the conservative movement. All, bar none, would consider your post offensive and without the slightest merit.

    I’d put their charitable donation rate or volunteer work hours per week up against most anybody else’s. They work hard as kids. They work hard as adults. They do what they have been taught is right. They avoid that which is wrong, though they fail, as we all do.

    If you want to form a moral or ethical opinion about Conservatives as a group, first lose all knowledge that you have that they don’t.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Dec 2012 @ 5:43 PM

  109. > unintended consequences
    But also, not mentioned there but in something else I came across– solar photovoltaic is getting to be inexpensive enough that the old approach — heating a leaky house, so the warmth drives the moisture away and the wood doesn’t rot — may again make sense. This is a serious issue given the reports of rot in sealed buildings.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Dec 2012 @ 8:33 PM

  110. 101 Hank R quoted, ““When you’ve seen one Earth, you’ve seen them all””

    OMG. So true, so funny, and so tragic.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Dec 2012 @ 11:45 PM

  111. 100 Steve Fish said, “You didn’t read it!’

    Well, I suppose it depends on your definition of “it”. I read your link. I read the embedded link in that link. I read them both again after reading your “accusation”.

    Yep. I’m still ignorant and probably not any more insightful as the next guy. Nowhere did I see anything remotely resembling anything you describe.

    So… give me a SPECIFIC link and SPECIFIC directions that, when followed keystroke by keystroke will lead me to what you describe.

    Cuz so far I’ve got nada that substantiates diddly of what you claim, and if this information is important, I’m scratching my head as to why the purveyors of said info have decided to make it so dang hard to find.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Dec 2012 @ 11:52 PM

  112. 108 Hank R said, “But also, not mentioned there but in something else I came across– solar photovoltaic is getting to be inexpensive enough that the old approach — heating a leaky house, so the warmth drives the moisture away and the wood doesn’t rot — may again make sense. This is a serious issue given the reports of rot in sealed buildings.”

    I agree 1000%, with the caveat that “may” should be capitalized plus “in certain circumstances” should be added.

    SIPs avoid most of the problems you’ve brought up, though there’s some question about their wood components, especially if engineered instead of dimensional.

    Your valuable insights boil down to:

    If you wanna build a house that will help save the planet, the #1 issue you must address is the rotting of a poorly designed or constructed house for the climate your location will have decades from now. (yes, the PERFECT house design is far worse than an average one if the contractor doesn’t accidently or on purpose fulfill the design goals of the architect.)

    Also, US construction has traditionally relied on leakage to provide ventilation. A proper modern house has an air-to-air heat exchanger, which not only brings in oxygen, but also helps maintain proper relative humidity. ANY tight energy efficient house WILL have an air-to-air heat exchanger (and/or enough greenhouse and dehumidification systems). A modern home requires modern sensors and mechanics to keep moisture away via enforced humidity levels.

    But this is not standard. So many design choices. So many micro-climates. So little leeway in design. Once you go modern, it isn’t a simple cookie-cutter solution.

    But vapor barriers are improving. Some are of variable perms. They will pass moisture differently depending on how saturated the air is. (I’m not yet the guy to ask to interpret that)

    This leaves the typical reader in a lurch. Spend your hundreds of thousands of dollars. Whether it rots, well, no guarantees, but depending on who you trust, pick your answer. (My suggestion is to build a SIP house with a greenhouse and an air-to-air heat exchanger. The rest is merely a couple decades worth of detailed research and study.)

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 14 Dec 2012 @ 12:22 AM

  113. Hank R,

    Damn, a SPAM error. Oh well, every word gets hyphonated…

    Just like my op-inions, the folks who made the videos you linked to are just guys who are trying to figure out stuff that takes decades to figure out.

    We’re in a very long transition period, where the old common know-ledge doesn’t apply, and the old rules actually prevent proper solutions. If the old solution was based on the axiom that huge amounts of air would leak, then a modern solution where air is pumped where desired and blocked where not, well, the odds a mod-ern system will fulfill the code requirements of an old leak-y system are small.

    Your links have taken the stance that a single vapor barrior is proper. But modern vapor barriers are variable. A single material can act differently depending on the humidities involved. Plus, there are tremend-ous differences in the strength of barriers. A strong barrier on the inside plus a weak one on the outside could be just the ticket. What the building inspector requires, well, that’s a crap-shoot. So inspectors have to fit your strange new system into their legally mandated specs. And then it’s all experimental. The stuff that’s critical is mixed in with the stuff that’s not, and the contractor, let alone the architect, has little knowledge as to what’s what, but the whole system, including human activity, must be included when designing a modern h-ouse. So, assuming hundreds of thousands of dollars of analysis, a 100% pe-rfect house that uses no carbon could send you to nirvana. So you sell it. The next owners might end up with a moldy crappy house that pretty much needs a bulldozer to correct. (this is an exaggeration meant to illustrate a point)

    Real estate just got more complicated….

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 14 Dec 2012 @ 1:34 AM

  114. For those who don’t wish to go Googling, “SIP” apparently stands for “Structural Insulated Panel”:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Dec 2012 @ 8:09 AM

  115. Jim,
    You forgot to include the importance of adequate circulation to prevent the buildup of undesireable vapors. Not just natural gases, like radon, but all the intangibles that people bring into their homes, like pets and plants.
    Then, you have the complications of homeowners upgrading their existing homes to increase energy efficiency, but lacking proper air flow.
    On an aside, the report by UCS concerning the news media, is their own analysis of whether a news story is accurate or misleading. The report does not reveal the individual stories, so no corresponding analysis can be performed to determine if any bias was involved. Based on the views of both parties, I would not be surprised to find significant disagreement between the two. Additionally, the stories analyzed occurred in the midst of the election campaign, which may have politicized the reports further. The actual report can be found here:

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Dec 2012 @ 8:34 AM

  116. In an effort to steer discussion back to something slightly more climat-y and scienc-y:

    CP points out that at the beginning of December in the US there was a 92:1 ratio between record highs and record lows (132:1 for the lower 48). The background ratio of course should be 1:1 on average. I knew it was bizarrely warm around here–50’s and 60’s in MN. But I didn’t quite realize just how warm or how widespread the warmth was. We were already on our way to the warmest year on record for 2012, and that kind of clinched it.

    I have to assume that this 92:1 ratio is itself some kind of record. Anyone know where to track such info down?

    Comment by wili — 14 Dec 2012 @ 9:59 AM

  117. Just putting this out for discussion.

    A Modest Proposal: Make Global Cap and Trade Feasible and Implement It

    Just google your way to a carbon footprint calculator, one that puts the results out in dollars (or your fav currency). My footprint is around $500/yr

    That’s a reasonable estimate of the impact of a responsibly introduced global cap a trade system that stops the atmospheric CO2 buildup. The cost is not that unrealistic. (Could be 5 times less with economies of scale.)


    1. We need more capacity for alternatives and sequestration. Or a high rate of capacity expansion without runing up the cost too much. My footprint can be offset now for $500. But everybody cannot now do it all at once. We need to built the capacity to offset/reduce all the carbon.

    2. As a practical matter, we need to address the social disruption to the poor, and manage economies to that we don’t have a big recession and all that. Quite doable in my opinion.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 14 Dec 2012 @ 10:30 AM

  118. Paper by Winkelman et al., Nature

    Increased snowfall in Antarctica will increase ice discharge. This treatment is for Antarctica, where icesheets are bounded by floating shelves, which sink to compensate added precipitation, whereas the interior grounded ice does not. Thus the gradient of ice surface steepens and driving stress increases, increasing outflux.

    I expect this to work for Greenland as well as the lower elevations melt and subside faster, increasing slope gradients, look forward to similar analysis of GRIS.


    Comment by sidd — 14 Dec 2012 @ 12:14 PM

  119. Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 13 Dec 2012 @ 11:52 PM

    You say- “I’m scratching my head as to why the purveyors of said info have decided to make it so dang hard to find.”

    (Heavy sigh). The pertinent portion of my statement to you (above) was that “the Union of Concerned Scientists included their data,” and I provided a link to a UCS news article which, in turn, provided links to the actual research article and links to Fox News and WSJ (Excel) datasheets. Excel datasheets are where one often finds data. Each of these datasheets consists of three pages, the first, called Database Use, has a little text; the second and third, labeled Opinion Page Coding and Excluded Citations, contain the data. Here are the links:

    Download the full report (PDF) –

    Download the Fox News Channel Datasheet (Excel) –

    Download the Wall Street Journal Opinion Page Datasheet (Excel) –

    This is all in plain sight and not at all hard to find. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 14 Dec 2012 @ 12:21 PM

  120. Don’t know how to find that…but speaking of records there’s this from Climate Central for the US:

    Comment by tokodave — 14 Dec 2012 @ 12:55 PM

  121. I don’t. But observations such as that presumably have a lot to do with this:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Dec 2012 @ 1:12 PM

  122. The USA could become carbon neutral for less than the funding that can be obtained by merely doing nothing about the fiscal cliff.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 14 Dec 2012 @ 2:33 PM

  123. Steve,
    The characterization of would constitutes a misleading, undermining or disparaging statement appears to be highly subjective. For example, the following quote, “There is one very important distinction that needs to be made between global warming and quasicrystals. If Mr. Shechtman’s discovery of quasicrystals had turned out to be incorrect, it would have had little effect on the future of life on planet earth. However, if it turns out that the current theory of global warming is correct the effects for mankind could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic.” is labelled as both midleading and undermining climate science.

    Comment by Dan H. — 15 Dec 2012 @ 10:32 AM

  124. > doing nothing about the fiscal cliff
    Where “doing nothing about” means “going over” — like drowning government in the bathtub is a wiser climate policy. Yeah right.

    Good story in that CBC cite, thank you Kevin McKinney:

    “The biggest change in the polling is among people who trust scientists only a little or not at all. About one in three of the people surveyed fell into that category.

    Within that highly skeptical group, 61 per cent now say temperatures have been rising over the past 100 years. That’s a substantial increase from 2009, when the AP-GfK poll found that only 47 per cent of those with little or no trust in scientists believed the world was getting warmer.”

    That’s serious good news — and interesting it takes CBC to publish it. They also note something I suspect many don’t realize:

    “In general, U.S. belief in global warming, according to AP-GfK and other polls, has fluctuated over the years but has stayed between about 70 and 85 per cent.”

    You wouldn’t know that, to listen to the denial crowd — or the politicians, or the soapbox kibitzer crowd.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2012 @ 12:47 PM

  125. Re- Comment by Dan H. — 14 Dec 2012 @ 8:34 AM

    All the data are available from the link I provided.

    Re- Comment by Dan H. — 15 Dec 2012 @ 10:32 AM

    You are babbling.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 15 Dec 2012 @ 1:09 PM

  126. > 10/17/2011… William B. Jones Unviersity of Boulder Colorado

    Point to Dan H., that spreadsheet wasn’t proofread — from that one example. “Unviersity” is a red flag; the original appears to be misclassified:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2012 @ 1:16 PM

  127. Steve,
    Your link to the Fox News data is corrupted – no data is available. Are you implying that the article saying the effects of global warming on mankind could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic is an example of a misleading statement?

    Comment by Dan H. — 15 Dec 2012 @ 4:56 PM

  128. 2 new great videos from Potholer…

    Medieval Warm Period — fact vs. fiction

    Climate Change — The “800-year lag” unravelled

    Comment by prokaryotes — 15 Dec 2012 @ 5:37 PM

  129. Re- Comment by Dan H. — 15 Dec 2012 @ 4:56 PM

    Your question is incomprehensible because I have said nothing about the danger of warming in this conversation. In your previous post the first sentence does not make sense in plain English and the quote is not cited.

    If you are having trouble with the Fox data link, go to the original article that I cited in post #87 (10 Dec 2012 @ 2:52 PM) and scroll down the page to “Download the Fox News Channel Datasheet (Excel).” I know that this is very hard for you but you can do it.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 15 Dec 2012 @ 7:00 PM

  130. guys, it’s a letter to the editor — it does appear it was misclassified.

    Note the misspelled “University” in the same row.

    It raises questions, such as:

    Is that data from the published paper (in which case, someone slipped up) or is it a copy someone retyped for UCS (in which case a different someone slipped up).

    Are there any other obvious mistakes, and where do they originate?

    This is why peer review isn’t the gold standard, it’s just the admission ticket to the arena — in which people kick the crap out of your data, your analysis, your peers, and your review.

    That’s science at work. Keep at it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Dec 2012 @ 8:37 PM

  131. Steve,
    It appears that you are one having difficulty. The link clearly says, “File not found.” The question was not one of the dangers of global warming, but rather, what they classify as misleading. I am sure you can comprehend that. Forgive me if I left out the word “what,” but the sentence is not all that incomprehensible, that a little insight could not overcome.

    Comment by Dan H. — 15 Dec 2012 @ 10:33 PM

  132. #124–

    “In general, U.S. belief in global warming, according to AP-GfK and other polls, has fluctuated over the years but has stayed between about 70 and 85 per cent.” You wouldn’t know that, to listen to the denial crowd — or the politicians, or the soapbox kibitzer crowd.

    No, you wouldn’t; they tend to be quite ‘triumphalist’, or many do that I’ve encountered, anyway. But, really, it’s not surprising–why should they be any more accurate in assessing poll numbers than satellite-derived or instrumental ones?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Dec 2012 @ 8:30 AM

  133. If one reads the climate projection reports of Kevin Anderson based on non-inclusion of positive feedbacks (and the other recent major climate projection reports as well), and reads especially between the lines, one sees a message being delivered loud and clear. Mother Nature is telling us, to paraphrase Bush the Elder:

    “Read my lips; no more fossil fuels”.

    She is not saying: 1) no more fossil fuels, except to help transition to a renewables economy; 2) no more fossil fuels, except to assist in reforestation; 3) no more fossil fuels, except for life-threatening emergencies; 4) no more fossil fuels, except to prevent the world economy from going under. She is saying the atmosphere presently contains all the CO2 necessary to drive us from ‘Dangerous’ climate conditions to ‘Extremely Dangerous’, in Anderson’s terminology. Any further additions for any purpose have the potential to drive us over the climate cliff.

    Now, a caveat. What Mother Nature is really saying is ‘no more net additions of CO2/GHG’ to the atmosphere. If we could generate some magical technology that might use one unit of CO2 to extract e.g. three units of CO2 from the atmosphere, this could be allowable. In fact, if we could replace fossil fuel with a magical fuel that removed more CO2 from the atmosphere than any greenhouse gases it might generate, and perhaps generated sulphates/aerosols as well to increase the albedo, then we might have a chance. Absent this, or similar magical solutions, we are left with 1) having to live like the Pennsylvania Amish or perhaps indigenous Native Americans until we are on the downside of the temperature peak in three or four or five decades, 2) having to massively reforest with little assistance from fossil fuels (that should end the unemployment problem), and 3) having to come up with some less magical geoengineering scheme that will quench some of the positive feedback mechanisms already being observed.

    I will end with a metaphor, which really shows the problem. One hundred people are sentenced to jail for twenty years. They are confined to one large room, with relatively close quarters, a low ceiling, and almost no ventilation. Ninety-eight of them are three pack a day smokers, and the other two are non-smokers. Five of the smokers are ‘deniers’, and two of those five own the cigarette concession.

    Ninety-three of the smokers recognize the dangers of smoking, but are too hooked to quit. The two non-smokers recognize the dangers of smoking, and also recognize the dangers of inhaling second-hand smoke. The two non-smokers talk about the dangers of smoking, but no one changes their habits. The two non-smokers take a poll, where sixty smokers say they would like to quit, but none reduces their smoking by even one cigarette. The two non-smokers ask their elected leader to show strong leadership in reducing smoking; the leader replies he is powerless to act without popular support.

    After two years, three of the smokers have died from lung cancer. The ‘deniers’ say people have been smoking for thousands of years, and no one has died prematurely from smoking; they died when their time came. The ‘deniers’ say the three dead smokers died from ‘natural causes’. No matter what the two non-smokers try to change the environment, they run up against a stone wall. That’s where we are with man-made climate change today, and that’s why there is little hope of the problem being solved in the real world.

    Comment by Superman1 — 16 Dec 2012 @ 9:43 AM

  134. Greetings and salutations!

    Although I’ve been an enthusiastic reader of this site since February 2011, I am a neophyte to climatology.

    As my background is in behavioral sciences, I will appreciate your kindness in accepting my tender-footed attempts at understanding the scientific information presented here.

    Clearly, I can only speak from a layman’s pov.

    But, I CAN bring the importance of this subject out into the public…into the lives of the everyday people I meet….And, to this effect, I initiated a brief discussion at a holiday party last night on Dennis Baker’s opinion regarding conversion of human and agricultural organic waste to hydrogen.

    Although my discussion occurred among fairly educated individuals, none of us were scientists, so we were less concerned with the method of conversion, i.e. through exposure to intense radiation, and more concerned with why something which seems to make such perfect sense, (the utilization of organic waste) especially from an ethical standpoint, is taking such a long time to catch momentum as an environmentally friendly renewable energy source…

    Of course, there is the public’s attitude and perception of hydrogen fuel to consider…

    Also, those I spoke with last night were familiar with solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, and biomass energy via anaerobic digestion…. My suggestion that organic waste could be turned into hydrogen and utilized as a viable energy source was looked at as perhaps dubious…

    This is where information and knowledge is the key…and where I hope to make a difference…as I truly believe that an informed public can move politics…

    Apathy is the real enemy (on all social issues-imo).

    Thankfully, I did not see indifference when I talked with this group of upper middle-class individuals…many had already made small but sustainable changes in their lives towards being green.

    Simply, they were not informed; and, this (although not excusable) is understandable…we are all so busy with our own particular set of interests, we sometimes neglect those very important issues of which we haven’t really been schooled, or which might cause an uncomfortable change in our lives.

    To those of you here with scientific knowledge, I look forward to learning from you and welcome information to share with others who are currently less knowledgeable but nonetheless still interested in protecting our planet.
    Elie Wiesel: “The world is not learning anything”

    Comment by Rita Umile — 16 Dec 2012 @ 10:20 AM

  135. “> doing nothing about the fiscal cliff
    Where “doing nothing about” means “going over” — like drowning government in the bathtub is a wiser climate policy. Yeah right.”

    Assuming I did my math right, the fiscal cliff is equivalent to about a $12 increase in the price of a barrel of oil. We had a increase bigger than that a few months ago. Did you see the government drown? Heck, did you even notice the increase?

    Comment by Tom Adams — 16 Dec 2012 @ 10:27 AM

  136. Guys, guys, c’mon. Work with each other here. You know how to find this stuff.

    Today, searching, I find a working link:“fox+news”

    Compare the link you’ll find in your search result to the link Steve first posted.

    Using “C” is correct and works; “c” is a typo in the text Steve posted.

    Bit rot happens; typos happen; corrections get made.

    It’s possible the source copied from had the typo in the original, or that Steve mistyped it the first time, or that UCS had the link working (with the typo) a few days ago and subsequently capitalized that one word, breaking the old copies of the link. Stuff happens.

    Guys, seriously. Proofreading is nitpicking — which is one of the basic primate social skills. Assume it’s worth trying.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2012 @ 11:00 AM

  137. and — in what I posted, if the quoted string doesn’t appear hilighted, that part won’t be included in what the blog posting software makes clickable. Copy and paste the whole link.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2012 @ 11:38 AM

  138. > suggestion that organic waste can be turned into hydrogen
    Radiolysis doesn’t transmute toxic waste into fuel gas. The first commenter under “Some AGU Highlights” promotes that various places. Ignore, it’s wacko.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2012 @ 12:56 PM

  139. Rita Umile #234,

    “Apathy is the real enemy (on all social issues-imo)……Simply, they were not informed; and, this (although not excusable) is understandable…we are all so busy with our own particular set of interests, we sometimes neglect those very important issues of which we haven’t really been schooled, or which might cause an uncomfortable change in our lives.”

    In order to correct a problem, one has to define and diagnose it properly. While the ‘apathy’ you mention exists, I do not believe it is the central problem. The main barrier among the citizens of the developed nations is addiction to a high intensive energy use lifestyle enabled by the availability today of ‘cheap’ fossil fuel, and the main barrier among the citizens of the major developing nations is their aspiration to achieve the same level of fossil fuel addiction as the citizens of the developed nations. Education and information are not the main stumbling blocks. Many highly educated people chain-smoke, and they know the consequences only too well. We can go down the list of addictions, and the same considerations hold. That’s what makes the fossil fuel use problem so difficult; addiction has to be overcome, and that’s far more difficult than providing education or information.

    Comment by Superman1 — 16 Dec 2012 @ 1:11 PM

  140. Fox news (obviously) aims to a right wing audience at the cost of quality coverage.

    As a matter of fact, Fox provides (perhaps) the poorest quality of coverage available via media.

    However, for positive change to occur, it is precisely the FOX viewer who will need to be coached to realize that”conservative” views on climate change are actually DANGEROUS for both the environment and the ECONOMY, as these two issue are really (completely) intertwined.

    Regarding climate change (imo) it is the LIBERAL who actually holds the more CONSERVATIVE (and sane) approach…and therefore, must (forcefully) advocate for change….

    Consider that this science truly needs a spokesperson who can speak the language of the Fox viewer…and make these individuals realize that ignoring climate change will ultimately impact them where they will feel it the most..their wallet…

    It’s sad for me to realize that $$$ makes the world go ’round….

    See links below.

    Comment by Rita Umile — 16 Dec 2012 @ 1:16 PM

  141. Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2012 @ 11:00 AM

    I agree. In this case all links were copied from the UCS news article using right click> Copy link location. I don’t know why some would work this way and others not. The actual links in the news article have always worked and so has my link to the article in my post #87 which I copied directly from my browser. I told Dan H. to go there, but he apparently doesn’t want to. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 16 Dec 2012 @ 1:52 PM

  142. Re- Comment by Dan H. — 15 Dec 2012 @ 10:33 PM

    As I said on 15 Dec 2012 @ 7:00 PM, the data link in the article works just fine. Otherwise Hank Roberts has figured out the problem in the link text for you. This is not difficult.

    It is clearly stated in the data spreadsheets that text provided for the different items are just fragments. Criticizing the article on the basis of a fragment of one data point is a bit like criticizing climate science on the basis of one out of context e-mail. Each letter and op-ed is clearly referenced, so you can go look them up. You will have to look up the whole text and context before you can claim an error.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 16 Dec 2012 @ 2:36 PM

  143. Superman1 #139:

    Awesome view on the energy problem…

    And yes…addiction to ease and comfort is paramount.

    But, what is the first step to breaking any addiction?

    I would say awareness or recognition.

    What does it take to reach a point of awareness?

    IMO, it takes discomfort.

    Discomfort on this issue may take the form of either prohibitive cost or lack of availability (or both)…

    However, we haven’t reached discomfort yet in the United States.

    That’s why (at least in my neck of the woods), people aren’t willing to acknowledge the extreme seriousness of the issue at hand.

    And they live delusional lives…as examples:

    • Apparently, it is easier for residents to DRIVE their trash can to curbside than walk it down the driveway.

    • Who wants to take the commuter bus to work, when it adds 45 minutes each way to your commute?

    • In winter, why keep the temperature in your home at 58 degrees F when 75 will feel so much more comfortable? Besides, at 75 degrees F the kids can run around sleeveless!


    We’re already on the brink of disaster.

    So, aside from discomfort, HOW ELSE MAY WILL IMPACT BEHAVIORAL CHANGE?

    Perhaps through education…through media….redundancy in hammering the message home…

    Also, consider monetary rewards for green living…tax incentives and such….

    I’m new to this subject, so I am certain there are ideas on change you all have already tossed around…and I’d love to hear them….

    It really wasn’t very long ago when smoking was commonplace….we’ve done a good job of changing behavior on this issue.

    We can move the public’s view on climate as well….

    It takes TONS of effort on the part of those who are enlightened…and this is where I speak of apathy…indifference….

    Certainly no one at last night’s holiday party WANTED to hear me speak on climate change…I had to keep on turning the conversation back to climate change…if I had been indifferent…apathetic…then the conversation would not have occurred at all…never mind to the extent to which I forced the issue. Maybe I touched someone…who knows…I can hope.

    Getting people to think about the issue is a start—imo. And, we have to start NOW.

    Comment by Rita Umile — 16 Dec 2012 @ 2:42 PM

  144. Must Watch

    The Twin Sides of the Fossil Fuel Coin – Guy MacPherson

    Comment by prokaryotes — 16 Dec 2012 @ 3:56 PM

  145. Steve, likely UCS fixed a typo in the middle one, after you posted the links on 14 Dec 2012 at 12:21 PM.

    To beat this dead horse finally (I hope) into hamburger:

    If you delete your browser’s cache, forcing your browser to follow that link, you’ll see what it gets right now. While it’s cached, you’re probably only seeing your browser’s cached recollection, not what I and others see.

    I expect you’ll see the 404.

    (Same applies for the line in the spreadsheet that Dan H. caught).
    We don’t yet know who made the obvious mistakes, nor if others remain to be pointed out. That’s how this works.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2012 @ 5:31 PM

  146. Rita #143,
    “• Apparently, it is easier for residents to DRIVE their trash can to curbside than walk it down the driveway.

    • Who wants to take the commuter bus to work, when it adds 45 minutes each way to your commute?

    • In winter, why keep the temperature in your home at 58 degrees F when 75 will feel so much more comfortable? Besides, at 75 degrees F the kids can run around sleeveless!”

    That’s positive compared to where I live. Some residents drive 1/2 block to pick up their mail. But, that’s small change. I would estimate that my neighbors average two annual overseas trips for vacation, independent of whether they are climate change ‘deniers’ or ‘believers’. Independent of what they say they believe about climate change, their actions related to climate change are indistinguishable.

    “It really wasn’t very long ago when smoking was commonplace….we’ve done a good job of changing behavior on this issue.”

    There is a crucial difference between smoking and fossil fuel use. In 1964, when the Surgeon General’s Report on smoking was issued, about 42% of adults smoked. That meant that 58% did not smoke, and many of those non-smokers hated smoking. The non-smoking majority was able to institute economic penalties (mainly taxes) and mandates through the legal and voting system. Today’s fossil fuel addicts constitute probably 98% of the electorate, and the penalties and mandates that worked for smoking will not get off the ground for fossil fuel use because of this difference.

    Comment by Superman1 — 16 Dec 2012 @ 6:20 PM

  147. Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Dec 2012 @ 5:31 PM

    With Firefox I use Ctrl + f5= Reload (override cache), to refresh.

    Thanks for the article, it was fun as I was in the rough-and-tumble of research and grant games many moons ago. Regarding Dan H’s trollish take, he will have to research the whole text of the letter in order to complain. No nitpicking. My prediction, he won’t.

    I found the author of the letter, William B. Jones at UC Boulder and sent him an e-mail via his address on his Emeritus page, but it came back as “no such number, no such zone.”


    Comment by Steve Fish — 16 Dec 2012 @ 6:44 PM

  148. Steve, I read the full text of that letter — I linked to it at the WSJ. It’s the second letter on the page, “below the fold”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Dec 2012 @ 2:07 AM

  149. Understanding uncertainty in climate models

    Robustness of the atmospheric circulation response to climate change: In this Grantham Special Lecture, Professor Ted Shepherd, Grantham Chair in Climate Science at University of Reading looks at the persistent uncertainties in model predictions of the atmospheric circulation response to climate change.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 17 Dec 2012 @ 7:41 AM

  150. Steve,
    I went back to your old post (it would have been nice to reference such earlier, rather than make snide comments about not being able to follow your many links). The analysis is based on 40 articles, a very small sample size by any measure. Of the 37 quotes labelled “misleading,” 6 detailed one of the presidential candidates position on global warming, and appear to accurate portray each candidate’s position. Two discuss recent satellite data concerning the melting of glaciers in Greenland and the Himalayas. These were also classified as “cherry-picks,” but that would be true of all the short-term satellite data. Another was a discussion about how America should wean itself off foreign oil, with only a passing mention of climate change and getting totally off carbon. Of note, none of the articles were labelled as disparaging scientist.

    Using this same criteria, I wonder how many of the quotes from other news networks would be classified as “Misleading” also.

    Comment by Dan H. — 17 Dec 2012 @ 8:46 AM

  151. “The main barrier among the citizens of the developed nations is addiction to a high intensive energy use lifestyle enabled by the availability today of ‘cheap’ fossil fuel, and the main barrier among the citizens of the major developing nations is their aspiration to achieve the same level of fossil fuel addiction as the citizens of the developed nations.’

    The coal industry should probably put you on their payroll to post this stuff to keep everyone believing the problem is harder to solve than it really is.

    No a single addict need change. 4000 plants like this (at the 1M tonne capacity) would stablise the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere:

    In order to keep more people clueless and avoid footing part of the bill for these 4000 plants, the coal companies should be paying you as their propagandist.

    I might just extend this post into a proposal to the coal industry PR machine. I could be making good money.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 17 Dec 2012 @ 8:48 AM

    Why internet arguments never end……
    For some unknown reason I thought this might apply here at times : )

    Comment by Donna — 17 Dec 2012 @ 9:02 AM

  153. @ #151, Tom Adams…

    Thank you for the link…as a neophyte on this subject I found the technology fascinating…and the below statement made an impact upon my thinking:

    “So far it has typically been possible to emit carbon dioxide at no cost. The exceptions include the few countries that have implemented a carbon tax, which however to date has not been used to finance negative emissions. We need a change in this respect, so that the costs for the implementation of negative emissions, through carbon clean-up and permanent storage, are covered. What we see today is that the present – and still rising – level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing climate change and ocean acidification. When we have reduced our fossil emissions as much as possible, we can actually remove the carbon dioxide already emitted through negative emissions. In fact these processes need to be parallel and start immediately. In the end, it is the combination of reduced and negative emissions that will create the prerequisites for avoiding global warming and ocean acidification. In 2007 Biorecro committed to implementing facilities that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the gas permanently. We have now reached that goal and the first facility is in operation.”

    I will share your link…and if you have more information available, I would love to read it:… However, as every solution has its own unique set of problems, what are some of the potential difficulties of this particular solution? (To the site administrator: this may be a duplicate submission on my part, and for that I do apologize, best Rita)

    Comment by Rita Umile — 17 Dec 2012 @ 9:43 AM

  154. Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
    Benjamin: Yes, sir.
    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
    Benjamin: Yes, I am.
    Mr. McGuire: Carbonates.
    Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

    Comment by Tom Adams — 17 Dec 2012 @ 9:54 AM

  155. A few numbers:

    Cost estimates of carbon sequestration. I’ve seen $50 to $100 per ton. I think that works out to a few percent of GDP. Viewed as competitive with renewables, or at least IEA estimates 20% renewables and 20% sequestraton, and they tend to be market realists.

    (BTW, $100 per ton is about what you see these days if you go to a website that measures your carbon footprint and offers to offset it for a fee.)

    It’s viewed as having a capacity limit equivalent to 150 PPM of atmospheric CO2. Not sure why this limit.

    Perhaps AR5 will have a good update on sequestration.


    (1) Pollution. We keep burning coal and putting mercury in the biosphere, etc.

    (2) The price of dealing with 2 PPM of CO2 per year is not all that bad if we spread it around, we absorb economic shocks of that size quite often. But the developing world wants the developed world to (in effect) cover the cost of all our carbon since the industrial revolution. This is fair but not practical. How do we get past this to just solving the problem? I really think this is the biggest issue.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 17 Dec 2012 @ 10:13 AM

  156. Nice link Donna,

    Many are applicable. I especially like the look it up yourself argument.

    Comment by Dan H. — 17 Dec 2012 @ 11:57 AM

  157. Tom Adams #151,

    “The coal industry should probably put you on their payroll to post this stuff to keep everyone believing the problem is harder to solve than it really is.
    Not a single addict need change. 4000 plants like this (at the 1M tonne capacity) would stablise the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere:
    In order to keep more people clueless and avoid footing part of the bill for these 4000 plants, the coal companies should be paying you as their propagandist.
    I might just extend this post into a proposal to the coal industry PR machine. I could be making good money.”

    My recommendation about your proposal; keep your day job. I have a pathological obsession about seeing information presented in context. In post #133, I stated:

    “Mother Nature is telling us, to paraphrase Bush the Elder:

    “Read my lips; no more fossil fuels”.

    She is not saying: 1) no more fossil fuels, except to help transition to a renewables economy; 2) no more fossil fuels, except to assist in reforestation; 3) no more fossil fuels, except for life-threatening emergencies; 4) no more fossil fuels, except to prevent the world economy from going under. She is saying the atmosphere presently contains all the CO2 necessary to drive us from ‘Dangerous’ climate conditions to ‘Extremely Dangerous’, in Anderson’s terminology. Any further additions for any purpose have the potential to drive us over the climate cliff.

    Now, a caveat. What Mother Nature is really saying is ‘no more net additions of CO2/GHG’ to the atmosphere. If we could generate some magical technology that might use one unit of CO2 to extract e.g. three units of CO2 from the atmosphere, this could be allowable. In fact, if we could replace fossil fuel with a magical fuel that removed more CO2 from the atmosphere than any greenhouse gases it might generate, and perhaps generated sulphates/aerosols as well to increase the albedo, then we might have a chance.”

    To quote from your link relative to the Illinois BECCS plant:

    “Carbon dioxide emerges as a byproduct in ethanol production. It previously been released into the atmosphere as part of the renewable carbon cycle. With BECCS, the carbon dioxide is instead captured and led into large compressors. These convert the carbon dioxide from a gas to a kind of liquid (so-called supercritical phase). Then, the carbon dioxide is led through pipeline into a well that has been drilled down to more than 2000 meters of depth.”

    It appears to me that CO2 is being captured not from ‘the atmosphere’, but from the reaction product exhaust stream, compressed into supercritical phase, and then sequestered. I would assume this is a much higher CO2 concentration than would be found in ‘the atmosphere’, which impacts the energetics for extraction. Second, there is no description of the CO2 that is generated in order for the compressors et al to work. Today, the energy needed to drive this process will come from fossil fuels, and CO2 will need to be generated. So, your link presents no evidence of being able to satisfy the conditions I outlined above.

    There are other schemes possible for removing CO2; consider ‘artificial trees’. Klaus Lackner, director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University, has designed an artificial tree that absorbs CO2 from the air using “leaves” that are 1,000 times more efficient than the real thing — but at the same time does not require exposure to sunlight.

    The leaves look like sheets of papery plastic and are coated in a resin that contains sodium carbonate, which pulls carbon dioxide out of the air and stores it as a bicarbonate (baking soda) on the leaf. To remove the carbon dioxide, the leaves are rinsed in water vapour and can dry naturally in the wind, soaking up more carbon dioxide.

    Lackner calculates that his tree can remove one tonne of carbon dioxide a day. Ten million of these trees could remove 3.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – equivalent to about 10% of our global annual carbon dioxide emissions. “Our total emissions could be removed with 100 million trees,” he says, “whereas we would need 1,000 times that in real trees to have the same effect.”

    As for what should be done with the resulting stores of CO2, Lackner suggests that it be converted into liquid fuels to power vehicles. And indeed, carbon dioxide produces carbon monoxide and hydrogen when it reacts with water — a solution known as syngas on account of its ability to be converted into hydrocarbon fuels like methanol or diesel.

    We have the technology to suck carbon dioxide out of the air – and keep it out – but whether it is economically viable is a different question. Lackner says his trees would do the job for around $200 per tonne of removed carbon dioxide, dropping to $30 a tonne as the project is scaled up. At that price – which has been criticised as wildly optimistic (the American Physical Society’s most optimistic calculations for direct air capture are $600 per tonne of carbon dioxide removed, although the UK’s Met Office is more favourable) – it starts to make economic sense for oil companies who would pay in the region of $100 per tonne to use the gas in enhanced oil recovery.

    Lackner’s plan is indeed very expensive. In terms of the costs, that will have to be offset against the prospect of doing nothing.

    Comment by Superman1 — 17 Dec 2012 @ 12:42 PM

  158. “Even if there were no greenhouse effect, all of the fossil fuels will be depleted within a few hundred years. If humankind is going to have a future on this planet, at least a high-technology future, with a significant population of several billions of humans continuing to inhabit the Earth, it is absolutely inevitable that we’ll have to find another energy source.”

    Comment by Rita Umile — 17 Dec 2012 @ 1:12 PM

  159. I am certain that everyone here already is aware of the attached petition (imbedded link in the article)…thank you for humoring me….

    Comment by Rita Umile — 17 Dec 2012 @ 1:19 PM

  160. Superman1, In my view, your post (#154) can be paraphrased as “Maybe you’re right, Tom”. At $30 per tonne I am right, at $600 per tonne not so much. If I did the math right $30 per ton works out to about 1% of GDP. The other 20% of GDP.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 17 Dec 2012 @ 2:00 PM

  161. > carbon dioxide produces carbon monoxide and hydrogen
    > when it reacts with water

    CO2 + H20 = ???

    I think you need to be more explicit about this process.

    Are you getting that from the story at WTF quoting the Independent?
    Note the energy required is much more than is obtained.
    And the Independent story notes “… to extract carbon dioxide from the air, this part of the process is still too inefficient to allow ….”

    A better citation would be helpful.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Dec 2012 @ 2:05 PM

  162. I have a question for any of the scientists who run realclimate, or for any other informed commenter who might have some insight regarding my question. My wife and I are planning on relocating from the Midwest to either Albuquerque or San Diego. Real Climate ran a post regarding heat waves last March and the upshot I got from it, was that extreme heat waves are made much more likely by an increase in the temperature coupled with dry soils and lack of precipitation.

    A commenter named “Larryl” asked if the type of temperature anomaly seen that March of 30 degrees above the average, in the central and northern U.S. and southern Canada, was possible in the Summertime as well. Jim responded that was an extremely important question.

    That leads me to my question. My wife and I are planning on working another twenty years or so, and then retiring in the same city which we will be moving to shortly, (either Albuquerque or San Diego). We are looking at a timespan then of roughly 30 or 40 years in which we would be living in one of these two cities. If an extreme temperature anomaly of say 30 degrees above the mean is possible in the Summertime, which of these two cities would be more likely to have this? Albuquerque of course is farther inland and closer to the center of the continent. San Diego also is a desert like area, and does not receive much rain like Albuquerque, but is a preferred place to live because it rarely gets extremely hot or extremely cold. This is because of some effect called the “marine layer” I believe. Albuquerque is at some elevation, and the average July high temperature is something like 92 degrees which is higher than San Diegos, which I believe is in the upper 70’s.

    So, it seems logical to me that Albuquerque is more likely to have one of these extreme temperature anomalies in the Summer (being closer to the center of the continent) than San Diego, and the consequences would be more severe because the average high temperatures in the Summer are presently higher than San Diego. Would the Climate Scientists (and informed commenters) here agree with this assessment? Secondly, would you consider it somewhat likely that a Summertime temperature anomaly over the next 30 or 40 years in one or both of these cities, could be so extreme as to risk the life of many of the inhabitants of those cities?

    Comment by Doug — 17 Dec 2012 @ 2:46 PM

  163. co2+h2o=carbonic acid, right?…. Wouldn’t this acidity be a negative, even pipelined underground more than 2000 meters? Please someone kindly correct me if I am wrong. (thanks)

    Comment by Rita Umile — 17 Dec 2012 @ 2:50 PM

  164. Can someone point me to where i can access the monthly “IASI CH4, low troposphere, mean below 600 hPa” composition’s? And why are a few marked with a strikethrough line? Thanks.

    See here:

    Comment by prokaryotes — 17 Dec 2012 @ 3:11 PM

  165. Tom Adams #160,

    “Superman1, In my view, your post (#154) can be paraphrased as “Maybe you’re right, Tom”.”

    It would take an Alchemist to paraphrase my post #154 as ‘Maybe you’re right, Tom’

    Comment by Superman1 — 17 Dec 2012 @ 3:36 PM

  166. Hank Roberts @161 — Start with
    and work backwards. Only a little more advanced than high school chemistry.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Dec 2012 @ 6:20 PM

  167. Doug #162,

    “Secondly, would you consider it somewhat likely that a Summertime temperature anomaly over the next 30 or 40 years in one or both of these cities, could be so extreme as to risk the life of many of the inhabitants of those cities?”

    The predictive models are limited; most don’t incorporate the effects of major (mainly positive) feedbacks. They should be viewed as lower-bound optimistic projections; according to climate scientist Guy McPherson, VERY optimistic projections. Some of the more credible projections come from Kevin Anderson, who combines the latest climate science results with required policy. A recent paper ( doesn’t give projections for the two cities you mention, but provides estimates for New York City based on global mean temperature increase of 4 C (which some recent studies conclude could occur by mid-century): “during New York’s summer heat waves the warmest days would be around 10-12°C hotter.”

    [Response: Things are bad enough even as projected without making up stuff. There are no ‘recent studies’ that suggest a 4 deg C warming by mid-century – regardless of who Anderson misquotes. – gavin]

    Comment by Superman1 — 17 Dec 2012 @ 6:47 PM

  168. Superman1 gave us $30 per tonne as a plausible figure for CCS from an expert.

    CO2 is rising about 2 ppm/year

    There are about 2 billion tons of CO2 in 1 ppm.

    So we are putting in 4 billion tons net.

    It would plausibly cost 120 billion to stablize CO2 concentrations.

    The US alone wastes about 165 billon on food that goes in the trash:

    Comment by Tom Adams — 17 Dec 2012 @ 7:41 PM

  169. Gavin #167,

    Anderson’s misquote was unfortunate. The Oxford University study reported in March concluded ‘Global temperatures could rise by 1.4-3.0C (2.5-5.4F) above levels for late last century by 2050, a computer simulation has suggested.’ Do you think 3 C or 4 C are really all that different 38 years from now?

    [Response: yes. It would be a 50% higher warming rate from now on. Why exaggerate? It just reduces credibility. – Gavin]

    Comment by Superman1 — 17 Dec 2012 @ 7:50 PM

  170. Tom Adams #168,

    “Superman1 gave us $30 per tonne as a plausible figure for CCS from an expert.”

    I didn’t give you any such thing. It was the developer’s optimistic projection of what could happen; why didn’t you quote the APS number of $600/tonne? Plus, I never said that it met my posted conditions. The CO2 emissions that would result from the energy required to manufacture and operate those millions of artificial ‘trees’ were nowhere stated. The more I see people grasping at straws on this site, the more I am starting to believe McPherson might have it right.

    Comment by Superman1 — 17 Dec 2012 @ 7:59 PM

  171. David, I know “hydrogen was combined with the carbon dioxide over a cobalt-based catalyst, the reaction produced mostly methane” — but I don’t see where CO2 + H2O produces hydrogen in a useful way. Thanks, I’ll dig through the link.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Dec 2012 @ 8:40 PM

  172. Extreme Climate Predicted in Eastern U.S.: Storms, Heat Waves With Global Warming
    which differs from earlier projections regarding precipitation in the southeast.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Dec 2012 @ 9:12 PM

  173. Anderson shows up in the Guardian attributing that number to something by a Richard Betts: “… A rise of 4C could be seen as soon as 2060 in a worst case scenario, according to research … led by the Met Office’s Richard Betts and first revealed in the Guardian last year. Betts accepts the scenario is extreme but argues it is also plausible given the rapidly rising trend in emissions.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Dec 2012 @ 11:49 PM

  174. Note the drift — “extremely unlikely by 2060” becomes “could be seen as soon” in the Guardian. Is that the same source as the Oxford cite in superman’s “… by 2050” or a different one?

    Citations, as always, ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Dec 2012 @ 11:51 PM

  175. is someone seriously proposing

    CO2+2H20 to CH4+2O2

    nice, if you can make it go
    i think it wants to go the other way tho…


    Comment by sidd — 17 Dec 2012 @ 11:56 PM

  176. Hey, what if we make the electric grid smarter and more stable, and develop lots of local renewables everywhere including within direct extension cord range of all the nuclear power plants and fuel storage ponds, and surround those plants with all kinds of heat capture steam engine stuff even if it’s not as efficient as the grid when everything’s going right?

    What if it turns out we don’t need all that electrical efficiency?

    Looks like all that would still be a really, really good idea:
    Super Flares from the Sun — paleo evidence now.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Dec 2012 @ 12:23 AM

  177. I want to thank Superman1 for responding to my question regarding heat waves, also to David Benson whose link at #172 couldn’t have been better timed, as that article was written today. It only dealt with projections for heat waves for the Eastern U.S. though, whereas I am interested in projections for the West-particularily the Albuquerque and San Diego areas. Having read this blog for about four years now, I’ll take Gavin’s word on the warming rate. I’d like to know though Gavin, (and the other climate scientists opinions are welcome too) would you live in Albuquerque or San Diego if you’re concern was heat waves and you had a thirty to forty year time horizon? Thanks, and really love this site, and want to thank you for continuing to operate it.

    Comment by Doug — 18 Dec 2012 @ 1:00 AM

  178. According to this study there seems to be a 5% (?) chance of 4 degrees warming before 2058 in a high emission scenario:

    Anderson’s IEA-reference I will check.

    Comment by Lennart van der Linde — 18 Dec 2012 @ 7:36 AM

  179. The study by Betts et al (2011) (link in #177) finds that +4 degrees of warming is possible during the “early 2060s”. Notably, this result is compatible with IPCC AR4 “when uncertainties in climate–carbon-cycle feedbacks from C4MIP are included” (see Figure 7 in Betts et al (2011), which I believe corresponds to Figure 10.26 in AR4 WGI: )

    Also, the recently published report by the World Bank / PIK suggests that global warming could reach +4 degrees compared to pre-industrial “by the 2060s” (p. 24), which seems to be based on Meinshausen et al (2011).

    So, the literature supports at least a low-probability risk of +4 degrees during the 2060s. Of course, this is based on assumptions of relatively high climate sensitivity and carbon-cycle feedbacks.

    However, I am interested in hearing if anyone knows of any studies modelling the impacts of reduced emissions of sulphuric oxide from coal and heavy fuel oils. I have heard somewhere that this could give a substantial kick upwards in temperatures, and that it could happen quite fast.

    Meinshausen, M., Smith, S. J., Calvin, K., Daniel, J. S., Kainuma, M. L. T., Lamarque, J.-F., Matsumoto, K., et al. (2011). The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300. Climatic Change, 109(1–2), 213–241. Retrieved from http://

    World Bank 2012 Turn Down The Heat,

    Comment by perwis — 18 Dec 2012 @ 8:39 AM

  180. Superman1 #170

    “Long-term analyses by use of integrated assessment models, although using a simplified carbon cycle (Read and Lermit, 2005; Smith, 2006b), indicated that a combination of bioenergy technologies together with CCS could decrease costs and increase attainability of low stabilization levels (below 450 ppmv).”

    In general AR4 seems circumspect about the prospects for CCS.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 18 Dec 2012 @ 8:54 AM

  181. Maybe my initial estimate on possible temperature increases was not too bad after all. A recent short article in Nature (Uncertainty: Climate models at their limit?, Mark Maslin, Patrick Austin, Nature, 486; 183–184, 14 June 2012) offers the following:

    “Yet embracing more-complex processes means adding in ‘known unknowns’, such as the rate at which ice falls through clouds, or the rate at which different types of land cover and the oceans absorb carbon dioxide. Preliminary analyses show that the new models produce a larger spread for the predicted average rise in global temperature. Additional uncertainty may come to light as these models continue to be put through their paces. Dan Rowlands of the University of Oxford, UK, and his colleagues have run one complex model through thousands of simulations, rather than the handful of runs that can usually be managed with available computing time. Although their average results matched well with IPCC projections, more extreme results, including warming of up to 4°C by 2050, seemed just as likely. As computing power becomes more accessible, that ‘hidden’ uncertainty will become even more obvious.”

    The 4 C estimate differs from the 3 C estimate I quoted before, but I think the previous quote was from the Guardian. I’ll go with the estimate in a peer-reviewed Nature article, although what we’re really talking about is the difference between having to jump from the 100th floor in a burning building vs having to jump from the 80th floor. The result is the same!

    An alternative and more dire estimate to the above can be obtained from the document “A Farewell to Arms”, presented online at the Web site of Dr. Guy McPherson, a Professor, University of Arizona School of Natural Resources and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and author of ten books on ecology.

    “I no longer think we’ll save the remaining shards of the living planet beyond another human generation. We’ll destroy every — or nearly every – species on Earth when the positive feedbacks associated with climate change come seriously into play (and I’ve not previously considered the increasingly dire prospects of methane release from Antarctica or the wildfire-induced release of carbon from Siberian peat bogs). Due to numerous positive feedbacks, climate change has become irreversible over temporal spans relevant to humans. Such is the nature of reaching the acceleration phase of the nonlinear system that is climate catastrophe.”

    Comment by Superman1 — 18 Dec 2012 @ 9:53 AM

  182. Doug #177,

    Here’s a San Diego projection out to 2050, published a couple of weeks ago. There are concerns about heat waves, wildfires, drought, and water shortages, among others. The number they use for temperature increase to 2050 is about 8 F (

    I have a problem with all these projections. In the intel world, when evaluating a potential ‘threat’, at least two key metrics are considered: capability and intent. Thus, when we consider e.g. nuclear weapons threats, we view e.g. Israel and Iran differently from the perspective of ‘intent’, even if they were to have the same capability.
    It’s really no different for climate (or other similarly uncertain) projections. One needs to evaluate both the capability/skills of the projection source, as well as the intent/personal agenda. When you examine the postings on this blog, for example, you will see a wide spectrum of projections. Much of this comes from the arbitrary selection of data sources combined with the interpretation of those data. So, in the referenced URL, I have no idea of the personal agenda of the author. However, from other data I have seen, I think the concerns listed above at the beginning are real and potentially serious.

    Comment by Superman1 — 18 Dec 2012 @ 11:31 AM

  183. #181 Superman1 (and actually all of you)

    Thanks for letting me participate here, even though I’m obviously not a climate scientist…. FYI–As just a regular “average person” what I’m reading here is extremely alarming to me….

    BTW–perhaps my participation may seem out-of-place to some of you…however, please consider that I can at least bring parts of your discussion out into mainstream life…and maybe this won’t make any difference…but consider that maybe it will…

    The statement taken from McPherson’s “A Farewell to Arms” is depressing as basically it reads that any attempt to resolve this issue will ultimately be futile….I hope he is being an extremist…but my instinct tells me he’s more likely correct than not….

    Have any of you discussed your findings with the government’s Climate Change Adaption Task Force? Does this information fall on completely deaf ears? What is the opinion of the ASA Advisory Committee on Climate Change Policy?

    Again, thanks for humoring my ignorance, and I apologize if I’m actually writing to members of the above committees….and your efforts are being dismissed at the government level….

    Also, what can the “average person” do to help this issue?

    Rita Umile

    Comment by Rita — 18 Dec 2012 @ 11:46 AM

  184. Hi Rita,
    Gavin and the other climate scientists have gone above and beyond to make readers/commenters here feel welcome and keep us informed. It is to them you owe your thanks. A few commenters here are climate scientists as well. Some of us are scientists (I am a physicist). Most are lay people as you are.

    I agree that much of what we read on climate science can be disheartening. The effort being directed at a solution is nowhere near commensurate with the problem. Much of the public and their elected representatives dismiss the science without understanding it. And denialists continue to resurrect stupid, zombie arguments incessantly.

    However, in my opinion it is simply silly to dismiss efforts to make progress as futile. As Yogi Berra said, “Prediction is hard, especially about the future.” Who is to say we will not develop a technical solution that allows us to avoid the worst effects of our folly? And even if we do not avoid the consequences of our folly, continuing business as usual will undoubtedly make things worse.

    So what we can do is in part what you are doing now–getting informed. We can also try as much as possible to conserve energy and reduce our carbon footprint–this buys us time, and that is our most precious commodity in this effort. Also, we need to get involved and start electing responsible representatives and holding them responsible when they fail to face reality.

    Finally, don’t get discouraged. Keep pushing in the right direction. I find Albert Camus’s The Plague to be illuminating when it comes to our current predicament.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Dec 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  185. Re CCS #180 Tom Adams, what do you think about this:

    According to a peer-reviewed study published in the journal of Society of Petroleum Engineers, titled “Sequestering Carbon Dioxide in a Close Underground Volume” the authors argue that past calculations of CCS were widely off, rendering the technology impractical. Writing for Casper, Wyoming’s Star-Tribune, report author Prof. Michael Economides explains,
    Earlier published reports on the potential for sequestration fail to address the necessity of storing CO2 in a closed system. Our calculations suggest that the volume of liquid or supercritical CO2 to be disposed cannot exceed more than about 1 percent of pore space.

    This will require from 5 to 20 times more underground reservoir volume than has been envisioned by many, including federal government laboratories, and it renders geologic sequestration of CO2 a profoundly non-feasible option for the management of CO2 emissions. Injection rates, based on displacement mechanisms from enhanced oil recovery experiences, assuming open aquifer conditions, are totally erroneous because they fail to reconcile the fundamental difference between steady state, where the injection rate is constant, and pseudo-steady state, where the injection rate will undergo exponential decline if the injection pressure exceeds an allowable value.

    The implications of our work are profound. They show that models that assume a constant pressure outer boundary for reservoirs intended for CO2 sequestration are missing the critical point that the reservoir pressure will build up under injection at constant rate. Instead of the 1-4 percent of bulk volume storability factor indicated prominently in the literature, which is based on erroneous steady-state modeling, our finding is that CO2 can occupy no more than 1 percent of the pore volume and likely as much as 100 times less.

    We related the volume of the reservoir that would be adequate to store CO2 with the need to sustain injectivity. The two are intimately connected. The United States has installed over 800 gigawatts (GW) of CO2 emitting coal and natural gas power plants. In applying this to a commercial power plant of just 500 MW, which by the way produces about 3 million tons per year relentlessly, the findings suggest that for a small number of wells the areal extent of the reservoir would be enormous, the size of a small U.S. state. Conversely, for more moderate size reservoirs, still the size of the U.S.’s largest, Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay reservoir, and with moderate permeability there would be a need for hundreds of wells. Neither of these bode well for geological CO2 sequestration and the work clearly suggests that it is not a practical means to provide any substantive reduction in CO2 emissions.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 18 Dec 2012 @ 12:49 PM

  186. #183–Rita, many if not most of the posters here are also examples of the genus “average person”–or at least, are not climate scientists. (My training, for instance, is in music, but they kindly let me yap away, too.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Dec 2012 @ 12:53 PM

  187. Speaking of technological issues in energy–as Prokaryotes was in #183–did this already get posted?

    “Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College… “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage — which we did by an exhaustive search — and to calculate costs correctly.””

    Please note that I am not advocating any source of energy, nor criticizing any other source, simply reporting a new finding about renewables!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Dec 2012 @ 12:58 PM

  188. @183 Ray Ladbury

    I extend my thanks to Gavin and anyone else I might have missed!

    Completely AGREE with your statement: “Who is to say we will not develop a technical solution that allows us to avoid the worst effects of our folly? And even if we do not avoid the consequences of our folly, continuing business as usual will undoubtedly make things worse.”

    I plan to continue reading posts and comments here….

    And, although I may only be a party of one, know that (at least) I am grateful for your efforts….maybe I can encourage others to become interested in this issue as well.

    Rita Umile

    Comment by Rita — 18 Dec 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  189. Wow, that is depressing news from the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Anyone see any critical problems with this proposal, aside from $15/ton of carbon dioxide being speculative? olivineagainstclimatechange23.pdf

    Comment by Ambulator — 18 Dec 2012 @ 1:55 PM

  190. “The proposition by Economides and Ehlig–Economides (E&E) in 2009 and 2010 that geological storage of CO2 is ‘not feasible at any cost’ deserves to be examined closely, as this is counter to the view expressed in the overwhelming majority of geological and engineering publications ( and ). The E&E papers misrepresent this work and suggest that: (1) CO2 cannot be stored in reservoirs that have a surface outcrop; (2) CO2 storage capacity in reservoirs without outcrops has been over-estimated and (3) the potential for CO2 storage in the deep subsurface is miniscule. We take issue with each of these, discussed in turn below. We also (4) review the evidence to date, which contradicts the Economides’ analysis, and (5) describe common pressure management strategies that demonstrate a more realistic and rational assessment of the experience of CO2 injection to date. We conclude that large-scale geological CO2 storage is feasible.”

    I guess the proof will be in whether projects miss their goals due to back pressure. I does not seem that the theory of back pressure will stop the effort.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 18 Dec 2012 @ 2:34 PM

  191. perwis @179.
    Can we be a little more exact here with this predicting of 4ºC temperature rises.
    It should be made clear that Betts et al 2012 are studying potential temperature rise for the A1FI emissions scenario (ie high emissions), something they consider “plauible” and that “cannot be ruled out.”
    They conclude that under A1FI a best guess for the 4ºC rise as the 2070s although strong carbon-cycle feedbacks would bring it more quickly, in early 2060s. They calculate a date for a 10% chance of the 4ºC arrival without strong feedbacks as 2058 but also say this is not a robust finding. “The natural next step that needs to be undertaken is to quantify the uncertainty and express climate projections in terms of PDFs.

    The World Bank report is definitely based on Meinshausen et al 2011 who plot a number of RCPs. The possibility of 4ºC rise by the 2060s finding results from RPC8.5 which is like A1FI a high emissions ‘projection,’ hitting something like 650ppm CO2 by 2050.

    So the literature does support a possible 4ºC rise (rather than 4ºC+) by the 2060s but this is only due to high emissions. Is this such a surprise?

    We have before had discussion on this subject of likely future temperature rises but they have broken down due to my absences. You may be interested enough here to comment on why the RCP with lesser emissions (eg RCP2.6 aka RCP3-PD) fails to yield much more than a low chance of a 2.5ºC temperature rise even when they involve continued emissions (CO2 peaking at 440ppm in 2050).

    Comment by MARodger — 18 Dec 2012 @ 2:34 PM

  192. Rita, I’m another ordinary reader here; from your profile, you’re at an academic institution so may well have better access to many journal articles in full text than most of us. And, probably, of a reference librarian who help you find stuff ordinary readers can’t get. So don’t spare asking them.

    The ‘Internet Librarian’ search will take you right back here:
    but to other sources as well.

    Gavin asked recently for folks to include the DOI cite/link when they mention sources — that’s always a big help finding things.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Dec 2012 @ 4:05 PM

  193. MARodger @191

    Yes, of course, they are not “predictions”, but rather “projections”.

    However, given that emissions currently track the highest emission scenarios, and that a peak in global emissions right now seems far away, these “high-end” studies could be of some relevance.

    In particular, given that there is typically not much difference in warming between different emission scenarios in a 20-year time-frame, this means that we only have to continue on track for the A1FI/RCP8.5 emissions scenario until 2030, in order to effectively put the emission scenarios for these high-end studies into play. This, it seems to me now, is not entirely unlikely, given the lack of international agreements and political will.

    I hope this will not be the case, and that we will be on the lucky side of the uncertainty envelopes…

    Comment by perwis — 18 Dec 2012 @ 4:23 PM

  194. Rita #183,

    Ray Ladbury has provided some good advice in #184. McPherson’s comments are depressing, but they reflect one opinion among many. He gives more weight to Malcolm Light’s predictions of methane release than I would. David Archer’s methane predictions are more muted; Peter Wadhams’ are somewhat in between.

    Now, none of the recent studies are particularly buoyant or uplifting, including IEA, World Bank, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, etc. But, they don’t have the near-term Armageddon flavor of McPherson’s. My own take, for what it’s worth, is the truth lies somewhere between Kevin Anderson and Guy McPherson. Anderson doesn’t include the positive feedback mechanisms in the computations that he uses, and McPherson tends to give high weighting to the positive feedback mechanisms.

    I think it may be possibly technically to avoid some, not all, of the damage from climate change, but only if three conditions are met: hard drawdown on fossil fuel use; rapid reforestation; some geoengineering to quench the positive feedback mechanisms, especially in the Arctic. One energy source that could be used in part for the latter is the nuclear fleet, mainly USA and Russian. We have aircraft carriers, subs, and cruisers that are nuclear powered, and the Russians have a number of nuclear powered ships as well. As far as I know, none of these nuclear powered ships are doing anything useful to help ameliorate climate change. Their power production is limited, and I don’t know how it would compare to the power requirements of desired geoengineering schemes, such as marine cloud-brightening from spraying sea water into the atmosphere to increase albedo. But, if we start doing some out-of-the-box thinking, and everybody pitches in and really tightens the fossil fuel belt, there may be some possibilities.

    Comment by Superman1 — 18 Dec 2012 @ 4:38 PM

  195. @194 Superman1:

    Appreciate your response…and it appears I have some reading to do!


    Comment by Rita — 18 Dec 2012 @ 5:02 PM

  196. More on the 2050 temperature increase issue; the plot thickens. In the Rowlands paper Abstract, it is stated: “We find that model versions that reproduce observed surface temperature changes over the past 50 years show global-mean temperature increases of 1.4–3 K by 2050, relative to 1961–1990, under a mid-range forcing scenario.”
    In the body of the paper, it is stated further: “At about 3 K, the upper end of our uncertainty range for 2050 warming is consistent with both the highest responses in the QUMP ensemble and the IPCC upper estimate of the CMIP-3 ensemble-mean plus 60%, but substantially higher than the highest responses of the CMIP-3 ensemble members that are generally used for impact assessment (one model did give a higher response, but was omitted in headline uncertainty ranges because of concerns about its stability). Thus uncertainty estimates based solely on ensembles-of-opportunity or small perturbed-physics ensembles are underestimated compared with independent studies. We are reluctant to quote a more precise upper bound because of the small number of model versions in this region and the fact that goodness-of-fit does not deteriorate as rapidly as it does at the lower bound, possibly because of the inclusion of natural forcing uncertainty: we can, however, conclude that warming substantially greater than 3 K by 2050 is unlikely unless forcing is substantially higher than the SRES A1B scenario27. The higher upper bound compared to CMIP-3 is mostly due to our inclusion of a wider range of climate sensitivities but also partly to our wider range of natural forcing scenarios. Towards the end of the century, we observe a similar relationship with the IPCC expert estimate, although by that time the uncertainty could be larger if carbon-cycle feedbacks were included in our ensemble.”

    Nowhere do they state 4 C, so the Guardian summary was literally correct. But, the Nature article summary of #181 includes the statement: ” Although their average results matched well with IPCC projections, more extreme results, including warming of up to 4°C by 2050, seemed just as likely.”

    This raises the Talmudic question: why is there a 1 C difference between these two sources referring to the same study? Now, as I’ve stated previously, I don’t think this difference is all that relevant; both temperatures reflect a horrific prediction. But, one would expect the same number.

    Now, it could be an error or a typo. The Nature article is Editorial Material. While these types of articles are usually invited, they tend to be peer-reviewed as well. I’ve done a few of these, and in all cases, there were at least two peer-reviewers. While the certainty of publication is higher than a submitted unsolicited article, the Editors still want the quality to be high. What are the odds that the two authors, both accomplished researchers, the Editor of Nature, and the peer-reviewers would overlook an error in such a sensitive number on such a sensitive and high visibility topic?

    My guess is that the authors of the Nature article have either seen other runs from the research group that were not published, or they compensated for the lack of inclusion of the stated “carbon-cycle feedbacks”. But, it would be interesting if the authors of the Nature article revealed the reason for the discrepancy.

    Comment by Superman1 — 18 Dec 2012 @ 5:20 PM

  197. Doug @177 — Albuquerque is a write-off.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 18 Dec 2012 @ 6:03 PM

  198. perwis @193.

    Indeed A1FI does not diverge significantly from say A2 until 2030 but does so rapidly there after (as per fig 1 of Betts et al 2012.) With the low probability of a 4ºC temperature rise under A1FI estimated as occurring ~2060 and likely occurring a decade plus later, you are happy to ignore the extra ~70GtC emitted under A1FI in the 20 years following 2030? And would the second extra ~70 GtC emitted 2050-60 make not a jot of difference? I would consider them rather large quantities to dismiss as irrelevant.

    RCP8.5 is an entirely different beast. It diverges quickly from the other RCP in fig 2a of Meinshausen et al 2011 (hopefully the link will work this time) so even a delay in difference up to 2030 is missing.

    I would suggest that outside A1FI or RCP8.5 the 4ºC temperature rise well before 2100 is over-egging the mix. So this leaves A1FI or RCP8.5.

    The likes of A1FI & RCP8.5 are not implausible or they would not be included in these analyses. (Indeed you say they “could be of some relevance.“) I would myself be cautious in describing them as “not entirely unlikely” as this I would see as painting them as to be in some degree or other ‘likely’. Is this how you intended to describe them?
    Or is there a missing ‘if’. If we continue with BAU….

    Comment by MARodger — 18 Dec 2012 @ 6:43 PM

  199. Superman1 wrote: “One energy source that could be used in part for the latter is the nuclear fleet, mainly USA and Russian.”

    Wow. You really have to work VERY hard to avoid the facts that (1) we have far more energy readily available from solar and wind than human civilization uses, and (2) we are already mass-producing and rapidly deploying the mature and powerful technologies to harvest that energy.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Dec 2012 @ 6:51 PM

  200. David B. Benson @197. “Albuquerque is a write-off”

    A write off doesn’t sound very good… Perhaps you can elaborate, if you see this, but I’ll tell you why we are considering it as a place to live for the next 30 to 40 years. I know all about the projections for drought in the Southwest, but I have spoken to a well known hydrologist and some other experts, and nobody has said yet, that they think Albuquerque will “run out of water” over this time span. Also Albuquerque is at I think 5000 feet, so it doesn’t get near as hot as some other Southwestern cities, and the average high in the warmest month of the year is only 92 degrees or so. I have read that by mid century, forest fires may be up to four times more frequent than today in parts of the West, so that is something to keep an eye on. But I am concerned with a monster heat wave at some point during this time frame, and don’t know how justified my concern is. (One that would take many lives) If you care to elaborate David I would love to hear it. Climate is only one consideration in our decision to move to either San Diego or Albuquerque, but an important one. We want to make this our last move, and don’t really want to have to pick up stakes again. Thanks.

    Comment by Doug — 19 Dec 2012 @ 12:44 AM

  201. SecularAnimist #199,

    Please define what you mean by “readily available”.

    Comment by Superman1 — 19 Dec 2012 @ 8:26 AM

  202. Fly ash from burning coal has some potential to be used for sequestering CO2. Nice if we could use the waste from burning coal to control CO2:

    “The objective of this study is to investigate biogeochemical processes to sequester CO2 and metals
    utilizing metal-rich fly ash. Microbial conversion of CO2 into sparingly soluble carbonate minerals has
    been studied using metal-rich fly ash under different pCO2 and different bicarbonate concentrations.
    Scaling from test tube to fermentation vessels (up to 4-L) using metal-reducing bacteria and metal-rich fly
    ash have proved successful at sequestering carbon dioxide and metals. CO2 sequestration via precipitation
    processes using metal-rich fly ash may complement the capture of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel plants
    while potentially stabilizing fly ash wastes.”

    Not sure where the chemistry thread was heading. CO2 in water produces carbonic acid that can be converted to carbonates. Mother Nature does a lot of this, it’s a big part of the climate cycle. Fly ash is relatively rich in calcium, so it can be use as feed stock for the production of calcium carbonate.

    No new on bottom ash that I can find. But one can release at least some of the metal ions from the stuff, so maybe its possible to make carbonates with that too.

    Mother Nature does not just produce carbonates. She sculps beautiful objects of utility with the stuff. It would be nice if we figured out how to do that.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 19 Dec 2012 @ 9:07 AM

  203. @192 Hank Roberts….

    Thanks for the info on the following link:

    Appreciate your help… :)

    Comment by Rita — 19 Dec 2012 @ 9:24 AM

  204. > Tom Adams
    Are you quoting from this?

    Bubbling CO2 through hot water with coal ash loaded with nickel and iron, adding agricultural waste, and growing bacteria that thrive anaerobic hot conditions loaded with heavy metals.

    Hey, what could go wrong?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Dec 2012 @ 10:37 AM

  205. Apologies if there’s been a post on this already, but any plans for discussing the PALAEOSENS project and Nature paper? Might be timely considering the latest offal from Matt Ridley and the WSJ.

    Comment by thingsbreak — 19 Dec 2012 @ 11:09 AM

  206. Oh good grief. You think this stuff is just science fiction:

    (“These algae were designed for the warm, wet, methane-rich conditions of our anaerobic reactors, not the human digestive system!”)

    and along comes <a href="progress

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Dec 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  207. Remember Muller proclaiming “safe fracking”?

    (No, he has no cite on it and no way to know what chemicals are used — there’s always a loophole allowing secrecy about what’s going down the wells.)

    Hey, what could go wrong?

    Here’s a clue:

    Great chance to dump toxics and get paid for the waste instead of paying to treat it safely. Just pump it into the fracking wells.


    “What do you think of intelligent life on Earth?”
    “It would be a good idea.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Dec 2012 @ 12:01 PM

  208. #204 Hank. A number of heavy metals are key to life. Iron transports your oxygen, for instance. So take a breath and think about it. Heavy metal carbonates are big players in the natural carbon cycle. So, it’s not necessarily all that scary. Technophobes are scary, they may be worse than deniers as a practical matter.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 19 Dec 2012 @ 12:35 PM

  209. Prediction:
    When the world (likely) does not end on December 21st, we will see Op-eds in rags like Wall Street Journal use that as proof that climate science is also wrong.

    Comment by Esop — 19 Dec 2012 @ 12:40 PM

  210. #204 Hank, a seashell is a heavy metal carbonate formed by a biological process that is important in the natural carbon cycle. Heavy metal is a pretty inexact term. It does not always mean toxic metal.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 19 Dec 2012 @ 12:50 PM

  211. @Rita Umile
    Rita, has anyone ever told you what E=mc2 means? Everyone should know this, so let me explain: c is the speed of light, a extraordinarily large number, c2 is c multiplied by itself, an extraordinarily large number muliplied by the same extraordinarily large number; believe me, an unimaginably large number. So the equation E=mc2 says that tiny amounts of matter (m) can be converted (if we have the technology and with suitable materials we do) into unimaginably vast amounts of clean (no CO2!) energy (E). Good idea, huh?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 19 Dec 2012 @ 3:05 PM

  212. Doug @200 — Nowhere in the upper Rio Grande valley is going to run short of well water. However, I’ve lived in Albuquerque back in its pre-smog days; wasn’t so good even then. There are much nicer locations further north but I suppose with fewer employment prospects.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Dec 2012 @ 7:06 PM

  213. MARodger @198

    My argument is as follows:

    1. Model uncertainty are dominant in climate model predictions for time horizons of at least two decades (see Hawkins & Sutton 2009, especially Figure 2 & Figure 4). This uncertainty is much due to the inertia of the climate system. Stott & Kettleborough (2002) puts it like this: “Until 2040, uncertainty is dominated not by uncertainties in emissions scenarios but by uncertainties in climate response.” (p 725)

    2. If this relationship of a lag between emissions and model predictions hold 20 years from now, then it follows that global emissions until year 2030 will essentially determine global warming in 2050-2060s (not counting short-lived aerosols).

    3. The present trend of global emissions of CO2 track the highest SRES-scenarios (see the graph here:

    4. It is not unlikely that this trend will continue until 2030, given the lag in the energy system, the present lack of international agreement and political will and because developing countries cannot be expected to slow emissions growth during this time period (see e.g., Anderson & Bows 2011)

    5. Hence, high-end studies for the mid-century are relevant, even if we belive that it is unlikely that the world will be on a A1FI or RCP8.5 pathway after 2030.

    Does this hold?

    Regarding 1&2. Perhaps the climate inertia is not so great, if we have higher growth in emissions? Then this relationship might look different in 20 years from now?

    Regarding 3. I noticed that Sato & Hansen’s updated graph on historical greehouse gas forcings is substantially below the highest SRES-scenarios. So, I guess it is not as bad as it looks from just looking at CO2-emissions (at least for the short-term).

    Regarding 4. Well, this is anyones guess. But the points Anderson & Bows makes on the differences between emissions in rich and developing countries is important and needs to be taken into consideration even by “optimists”.

    My point is simply this. “Business as Usual” growth in emissions is difficult to deviate from substantially in a 20 year time frame (due to the ineratia in the energy system), and we cannot write off the possibility of +4 degrees (due to uncertainties and the inertia of the climate system).


    Anderson, K., & Bows, A. (2011). Beyond “dangerous” climate change: emission scenarios for a new world. Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences, 369(1934), 20–44. doi:10.1098/rsta.2010.0290

    Hawkins, E., & Sutton, R. (2009). The Potential to Narrow Uncertainty in Regional Climate Predictions. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 90(8), 1095–1107. doi:10.1175/2009BAMS2607.1

    Stott, P. a, & Kettleborough, J. a. (2002). Origins and estimates of uncertainty in predictions of twenty-first century temperature rise. Nature, 416(6882), 723–6. doi:10.1038/416723a

    Comment by perwis — 19 Dec 2012 @ 7:08 PM

  214. in cryosphere discuss
    Goeller et al. discuss a model for subglacial hydrology, show how allowing for a basal water layer can increase mass waste. Nice treatment.


    Comment by sidd — 19 Dec 2012 @ 9:11 PM

  215. Compare the metals found in coal ash (you know how to look this stuff up) to the minerals (mostly calcium) in seashells.

    Look at the solubility of lead carbonate, for example.

    Just think this stuff through, and remember there are optimists out there eager to say it’s not a toxic waste, it’s a salable product, if you just see things their way. Good luck.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Dec 2012 @ 2:02 AM

  216. @211 Simon manages to be condescending, impertinent and irrelevant in just six lines! Oh, and Simon, if you are standing at ground zero of a nuclear blast, E=mc^2 would suddenly seem like a very bad idea. Context is everything.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 20 Dec 2012 @ 5:32 AM

  217. I agree with Ray’s comment in #216. But, energy use and availability is only one of many considerations. We need to think in terms of resource limitations, only one of which is energy. A report in Climate Progress shows how we have overshot the Earth’s biocapacity, and the gap is growing ( So, those on this blog who keep playing the one-note symphony of replace fossil fuel with renewables need to think beyond one-dimension. We are the only species on this Earth who have gone beyond the resource footprint we had when we first appeared in our present form, and there is no reason to believe this massive increase in resource utilization could be sustainable.

    Comment by Superman1 — 20 Dec 2012 @ 7:35 AM

  218. @Simon and et al….

    I am here to learn, and I have a tortoise shell regarding self esteem (I am TOUGH)…so Hakuna Matata (no worries, guys/gals), throw it MY way!!!

    As I cannot at this time dedicate myself only to this subject, it will take me a while to get up to speed…I will catch up though…because this issue matters to me, and if I’m going to talk to others on climate, I better be able to speak intelligently on the subject, right?

    @Simon, et al, if you’d like to help me “catch up,” feel free to email me material…you may use….

    Again…I am tough…I wear teflon…and it is all about the knowledge…I want to learn about this…

    SO, I hope that everyone here realizes that it is a GOOD thing that people like me are starting to care….

    Comment by Rita — 20 Dec 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  219. @Simon…Additionally…it s/b HAZAAH!!–whenever someone wants to learn…right?

    Comment by Rita — 20 Dec 2012 @ 9:55 AM

  220. #215 Hank. Compare the metals found in dirt (you know how to look this stuff up) to the minerals (mostly calcium) in seashells.

    Look at the solubility of lead carbonate, for example.

    Just think this stuff through, and remember there are optimists out there eager to say it’s not a toxic waste, it’s a salable product, if you just see things their way. Good luck.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 20 Dec 2012 @ 9:58 AM

  221. Rita Umile et al.

    Simon Abingdon has yet to make a substantive comment based on accurate science here, though e=mc2 is a nice cheap shot enabler for him here. He is fond of sending little darts, particularly at women and at those who admit they don’t know everything. Perhaps he thinks he does know everything, but it seems his purpose is to undermine, destroying being always easier than building.

    It is if anything an honor to be targeted by him and other fake skeptics. But why do they bother?

    Returning to Rita, I enjoyed your comments and hope you will continue to grace RC with your comments, though I like you am only a guest.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 20 Dec 2012 @ 10:21 AM

  222. perwis @213.

    Regarding your points 1 & 2.
    The figure 4 of Hawkins & Sutton 2009 that you reference cetainly supports your position. Myself, I am not entirely happy with such a position.

    You do mention (while I would emphasis) that there are two parts to this 20 year lag in response. Firstly our emissions don’t immediately cause warming. And secondly I would emphasis that our ability to stop emitting requires decades – our ability to reduce our emissions is heavily constrained at a global level.
    Yet this lag is not that much of a damper on the system.

    The difference between A1FI and the next worst scenario, A2, is quite large after 2030 very roughly amounting to some 140GtC emissions or 70ppmCO2 by 2060.
    How much this would impact temperature in 2060 depends on the Climate Response Function. According to Hansen et al 2011 Earth’s Energy Imbalance and Implications (see figs 7 to 10), the CRF achieves about 40% of the equilibrium warming in about 5 years. I see no mention that this is affected by differing ECS (although Hansen et al 2011 argue ECS=3ºC (+/- 0.5ºC) for all fast feedbacks).
    That said, with the high ECS required to bring a 4ºC rise by 2060, the A2-A1FI difference would (40% of say 60ppmCO2?) be very roughly 0.35-0.5ºC. Thus the difference between A1FI & A2 by 2060 is not nothing. Note also fig 2 in your reference Stott & Kettleborough 2002 for 2050-60. It is showing a best guess temperature of something like 1.8ºC for A2 & 2.1ºC for A1FI.
    I would also suggest another possible mechanism that may play out if ECS is so high. If ECS is 4ºC+ to give a 4ºC rise by 2060, would not the urgency of climate change be obvious even from Wattsupia by 2020 allowing policy to reduce global emissions to A2 and below by 2030?

    Regarding point 3.
    The CO2 emissions are on a high track. It is CFCs & CH4 that have tempered recent rates of GHG forcing. But it is usually said that in the long term it is CO2 we have to worry about.

    All in all then, I would still argue that A2 would not cause a 4ºC rise by the 2060s without an exceptionally high ECS or very strong long-term feedbacks. Such a rise thus would require A1FI/RCP8.5 emissions. (The RCPs don’t appear to have an A2 equivilant and of course this is all splitting hairs – A2 with best-guess ECS will still top a 4ºC around 2100 according to IPCC AR4.)

    Comment by MARodger — 20 Dec 2012 @ 10:34 AM

  223. Re- Comment by Superman1 — 20 Dec 2012 @ 7:35 AM

    Your condescending statement that posters here- “keep playing the one-note symphony of replace fossil fuel with renewables need to think beyond one-dimension,” is offensive. You have no idea how we think. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 20 Dec 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  224. Superman1 wrote: “So, those on this blog who keep playing the one-note symphony of replace fossil fuel with renewables need to think beyond one-dimension.”

    This is a climate science blog. As the moderators have repeatedly and gently reminded us, discussions of technology and policy solutions to the problem of GHG emissions are off topic (though they tolerate them to some degree, probably because they realize that looking for solutions is a natural, and positive, reaction to recognizing the scientific reality of the problem).

    That being the case, discussions of humanity’s myriad OTHER “resource” problems which are unrelated to climate are certainly off topic for this blog, and most commenters respect that. It doesn’t mean that we are not thinking about those problems.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Dec 2012 @ 12:46 PM

  225. is 220 a quote-bot? Text is exact copy of the words I posted in 215, repeated under a different userid

    If it’s actually posted by Tom Adams, please don’t be intentionally confusing. There’s ample literature on coal ash and EPA has a large docket on the rulemaking:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Dec 2012 @ 12:54 PM

  226. Kurzweil on KQED Forum: solar is doubling every two years — seven doublings until it suffices for all our energy needs — and it’s using semiconductor/nanotech material, so is not atypical in this growth rate.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Dec 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  227. NPR right now has a story on
    The National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 report
    TRANSCRIPT is at that link, page down a few to get to it.

    Big surprise in that is calling climate change unexpectedly fast and beyond the ability of scientists to predict, “black swan” stuff

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Dec 2012 @ 2:26 PM

  228. #215 Hank. You don’t think coal ash is a salable product?

    I have this trick question that sometimes even stumps engineers: What’s a cinder block made of?

    Answer: Cinders.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 20 Dec 2012 @ 2:26 PM

  229. Anyone have thoughts on retiring Senator Jeff Bingaman’s philosophy?

    Would implementing a cap-and-trade program for the power sector be at least a step in the right direction?

    I believe that California is currently in the process of implementing a new cap-and-trade program to this effect, and many are optimistic that this new program will be successful and set a precedent for the rest of the country.

    Research by the Brookings institute indicates that a price on carbon for the power sector does not produce offsetting increases in emissions in other sectors. Rather, carbon emissions outside the power sector would actually fall slightly relative to baseline because of economic linkages between sectors and consequences of higher electricity prices on overall economic activity.

    Brookings Institute modeling also indicates that limiting carbon pricing to the power-sector would have little negative effect on employment (less than 1%). It would reduce investment in the capital-intensive energy sector, which would, in turn, lower import of durable goods and strengthen the United States in terms of trade.

    Of course, limiting carbon pricing to the power sector won’t produce as much revenue as economy-wide pricing, but it is movement in the right direction…..Correct?

    (fire away)

    Comment by Rita — 20 Dec 2012 @ 2:43 PM

  230. Tom Adams, you haven’t read the cites I gave. You’re misstating my comment. I’m not interested in strawman stuff. I’m done replying to you on this subject.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Dec 2012 @ 3:39 PM

  231. Pete Best #35,

    “Can’t avoid 2C really and a 1 in 5 chance of reaching 4C…..Sea level rise is vastly underestimated and methane plumes all added into the mix…..Personally I would suggest its time to know that several recent studies from the world bank, PwC and IEA all reported the same thing, namely that we are heading for the cliff…..The other more interesting article is the one about the 1200 power stations being built mainly in China and India….Of course the only possible explanation for the powers that be ignoring the facts of science is the idea of it all being only a probability and hence the cynics and deniers still hold sway.”

    Something is not adding up right. The climate outlook ranges from grim to catastrophic. But, there’s one key player(s) that seems to be missing. The defense/intel/DHS world has the job of protecting national security. I find it hard to imagine a more critical problem than survival of the citizenry past mid-century. Yet, where are they?

    They are reading the same climate papers that I am, and probably far more. The conclusions are not that hard to extract. We have basically reached the atmosphere’s capacity for CO2 before irreparable damage is done. Some people believe we have reached that point already. Only the most extreme measures can give us any chance of survival (termination of all fossil fuel use ASAP, reforestation as rapidly as possible, some level of geoengineering to ‘quench’ the self-sustaining mechanisms that have already made their appearance), yet absolutely nothing is being done.

    What are these agencies doing with the data and analysis? Are they setting us up for a climate change Pearl Harbor? Something even more sinister? I find their absence from the table beyond belief, and very much out of character with how they approached problems of far less significance when I was dealing with them.

    Pete, I don’t buy your statement that “the cynics and deniers still hold sway”. When these groups close the heavy doors and close the electronic locks, the hard science and technology issues get thrown in front of all participants. I suspect the Inhofes and Bartons of this world dispense with the denier facade they use to attract the ‘rubes’ in their electorate, and see the hard reality of where we’re going. I just find it hard to imagine these groups that operate in the shadows issuing an intel report periodically, and letting it go at that.

    Comment by Superman1 — 20 Dec 2012 @ 4:07 PM

  232. Tom Adams @ 227
    Cinder blocks are made of cast concrete, regardless of what material [sand for high density blocks, various industrial waste for low density] is used as filler or aggregate.

    Comment by flxible — 20 Dec 2012 @ 4:22 PM

  233. @228, both cap and trade and a carbon tax can be effective tools for moving away from carbon based emissions. Both are likely superior models to the largely command and control based deployment we see today in the US. That said, a local or regional cap and trade program or carbon tax carries with it the possibility that it may drive business to move its emissions to a non regulated location.

    Since there is a direct correlation between the carbon content of a fuel and that fuel’s emissions, a carbon tax based on carbon content would be easiest to impliment. But the proceeds from a tax must be directed at subsidizing the implimentation of additional renewable energy resources to be effective. Cap and trade is more complex but is a more direct market instrument. As you noted, it’s likely a step in the right direction.

    Comment by Eric Rowland — 20 Dec 2012 @ 5:22 PM

  234. MARodger @ 222: This seems an opportune moment to repost links to the RCP temperature projections Chris Dudley, Patrick, Troy et al. helped me calculate a couple of months ago. No sense wasting all that hard work. For better or worse the results seem to be very much in agreement with the leaked bits of AR5 I’ve gotten around to reading.

    The abbreviated version: The US EIA’s IEO2011 Reference case projects “1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035”. This was demonstrated to be equivalent to following RCP8.5 until 2035. Combined with revelations about the long-term nature of energy infrastructure investment, this demonstration led Jon Kirwan[1], me, and others here to opine that 8.5 constitutes a reasonable approximation of reality for the next couple of decades, i.e. it represents what fossil fuel companies and equivalent state actors are actually planning to do, in contrast to governmental rhetoric delivered at international conferences, however passionate and well-intentioned. The increase in average global surface temperature likely to result from following RCP8.5 is shown by the red and green lines in this chart. The differences result from choice of Climate Response Function[2], but according to Hansen et al.’s 2011 Earth’s energy imbalance and implications the red line is more likely, and my reading of more recent sources including AR5 has tended to confirm that.

    [1] “… I will use RCP8.5 as the ONLY scenario I use for thinking purposes until AFTER I see serious political action AND YEARS AFTER I see significant implementation already taking place. Until then, RCP8.5 is reality.” Jon Kirwan, Oct. open thread, #269
    [2] The gory details are described here: Computing temperature change for RCP scenarios.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 20 Dec 2012 @ 11:17 PM

  235. Thanks for putting it all together like this, Chris. But looking at your linked graph, it seems to me that the red line has already been falsified, as it shows us going past one degree C above preindustrial levels by now, even though last I checked we were still a bit below that. Is this just temporary masking from aerosols from dirty Chinese coal plants? (Plants that, from what I’ve heard, the Chinese are hurrying to clean up.) Or am I missing something.

    In any case, the red line is not a very happy one for the near future–two degrees by 2040, three by 2070, four by the end of the century, and over seven the century after that!

    Comment by wili — 21 Dec 2012 @ 7:29 AM

  236. “But the proceeds from a tax must be directed at subsidizing the implimentation of additional renewable energy resources to be effective.”

    The experience of British Columbia suggests otherwise; their carbon tax is ‘revenue neutral’–actually, in practice, very slightly revenue-negative–as the revenue raised is rebated via the income tax system. (This is pretty close to what Dr. Hansen advocates, IIRC, and Dr. Andrew Weaver has written favorably about it.)

    Since implementation of the tax, per capita emissions have fallen faster than in other jurisdictions, even as the BC economy has performed better. The reason that this can work is that the tax acts as a price signal in the marketplace, and therefore creates incentives toward greener choices.

    Of course, “correlation does not equal causation,” so the results so far are not ‘proof,’ but rather indications that this theoretically sound model may actually work in practice. Still, it’s nice to have that much.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 21 Dec 2012 @ 8:26 AM

  237. 225 Hank. Fly ash is currently unregulated by the EPA.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 21 Dec 2012 @ 9:18 AM

  238. Eric Rowland wrote: “both cap and trade and a carbon tax … are likely superior models to the largely command and control based deployment we see today in the US.”

    What “command and control based deployment” of what?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Dec 2012 @ 10:52 AM

  239. > currently unregulated

    The industry got an exemption long ago, and went on ignoring public health risks. The harm has become undeniable. Yes, that’s how the USA works. No, it hasn’t proved to be a wise approach.

    Don’t fall for the PR, and don’t spin without citing sources. It’s not credible.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Dec 2012 @ 11:26 AM

  240. @ Eric Rowland, Kevin McKinney & SecularAnimist (greetings!)


    Still I’m still learning here…

    I’m ASSUMING that Command and Control refers to the use of direct regulation as a policy instrument to achieve emissions reductions throughout a geographic area and within a very specific (short) time period (and w/o damage to the policy objective). Is this even being DONE right now in the USA? Sorry for my ignorance…

    REGARDLESS…can such a brusque approach really work? Sounds a bit like “a bull in the China Shoppe.”

    Command and Control (imo) has serious negative consequences such as an increase in the costs of emissions reductions…leading to negative economic implications for businesses and society as a whole (let’s remember the 99%).

    Alternatively, cap-and-trade has already proven its effectiveness in the USA through the acid rain program, where it quickly and effectively reduced pollution levels at a far lower cost than expected. A good thing, right?

    And, E.U.E.T.S. has shown that cap-and-trade can be extended to carbon, in consensus among many countries, and resulting in a price on carbon that drives emissions reductions. Success here being that reductions in pollution that industry feared would be excessively costly were instead achieved at a fraction of the original estimates.

    AGREED: “the proceeds from a tax must be directed at subsidizing the implementation of additional renewable energy resources to be effective.” IMO, that is the ENTIRE point of the TAX….:)

    Thanks for letting me participate here…and HAPPY HOLIDAYS….

    I will try to approach my posts from a science perspective in the New Year….

    Comment by Rita — 21 Dec 2012 @ 11:46 AM

  241. Wili #235,

    “In any case, the red line is not a very happy one for the near future–two degrees by 2040, three by 2070, four by the end of the century, and over seven the century after that!”

    I’m less comfortable than you are in interpreting these models, given their assumptions. For example, consider the Rowlands model, where we debated the issue of its temperature prediction in ~2050, 3 C or 4 C. From the Abstract in Rowlands et al paper: “We find that model versions that reproduce observed surface temperature changes over the past 50 years show global-mean temperature increases of 1.4-3 K by 2050, relative to 1961-1990, under a mid-range forcing scenario.” In the full paper, they state: “Towards the end of the century, we observe a similar relationship with the IPCC expert estimate, although by that time the uncertainty could be larger if carbon-cycle feedbacks were included in our ensemble”. So, they are using a model that excludes carbon-cycle feedbacks, gives good agreement with the past when there were little carbon-cycle feedbacks, and attempts to estimate the future with similar physics when there could be massive carbon-cycle feedbacks.

    What does one do with such a model; what is the value of it or other similarly-based models? How much better is it than a back-of-the-envelope estimate? Yes, it provides a conservative lower bound estimate, and with the feedbacks added in, the actual numbers will be worse. But, how much worse? What serious decision-making could such models impact or inform?

    It seems to me there are three main questions one would want climate science modelers, theoreticians, and experimentalists to answer:
    1) For a given temperature increase, what is the pattern of frequency and magnitude increases for what were once considered ‘extreme’ events (re Hansen’s paper);
    2) For a given temperature increase, what known positive feedbacks can be accelerated and new positive feedbacks triggered such that self-sustaining temperature increases can occur.
    3) At what point in time can we expect the temperature increases in 1) and 2) to occur?

    Issues 2) and 3) reflect the real danger points, and models that do not include at least all known positive (and negative) feedback mechanisms are not only of very limited utility, but could be very misleading for policy purposes, due to attenuation of the urgency. My own experience with fluid modeling, admittedly in a different velocity range, was that physical and chemical phenomena that were known to be important would never be excluded from serious models used to inform decision-making. Even if these phenomena were ‘soft’, we would include them and account for the softness in error estimates. I personally cannot believe that the ‘black’ world is not doing exactly that, in order to gain a somewhat better perspective on what really awaits us for climate change in this century.

    Comment by Superman1 — 21 Dec 2012 @ 12:19 PM

  242. Chris Korda @234

    Your graph of emissions to 2400AD certainly shows RCP8.5 as the big daddy of emissions projections, dwarfing all others. I note A1FI isn’t marked which by my measurements is even more of a beast and perhaps there is no A2 equivalent in the RCPs because RCP8.5 represents a A1FI/A2 hybrid.

    Comment by MARodger — 21 Dec 2012 @ 12:35 PM

  243. 239 Hank. Uncle!

    Comment by Tom Adams — 21 Dec 2012 @ 2:05 PM

  244. wili @235: Falsified is a strong word. Yes, the green line is better at reconstructing historical data, but that doesn’t mean the red line won’t be better at predicting (or deconstructing?) the future. The referenced Hansen paper only applies Climate Response Functions to historical data, and they get more plausible results, but their math is also considerably more complicated than the stripped-down version I used. I expect to see more definitive answers soon, because Hansen et al. are allegedly preparing a new paper that applies Climate Response Functions to projected emissions: “In a future paper when we replot Figure 16 in conjunction with our simulations for the future we can use the new RCP scenarios…” AC C12485: ‘Referee #2 – Responses’, James Hansen, 29 Nov 2011

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Dec 2012 @ 2:57 PM

  245. MARodger @242: Just to clarify, the graph is from an IPCC 2010 pre-release AR5 document by Gian-Kasper Plattner & Thomas Stocker (University of Bern): From AR4 to AR5: new Scenarios in the IPCC Process, p. 11. I merely annotated it. You can find a similar graph that projects to 2500AD on the very last page of the “official” AR5 charts, though there are some minor differences.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 21 Dec 2012 @ 3:35 PM

  246. Tom: Nephew! (-:
    we’re just not cynical enough yet, but working on it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Dec 2012 @ 4:21 PM

  247. MARodger @242

    1. The RCP:s are chosen so to “span” the “scenario-space” (published literature).

    Moss et al (2010) explains: “The selected set of RCPs spans the range of radiative forcing scenarios in the published literature at September 2007. For energy and industry CO2 emissions, RCP8.5 represents the 90th percentile of the reference emissions range, while RCP2.6 represents pathways below the 10th percentile of mitigation scenarios. They are also similarly representative of emissions of greenhouse gases and particles other than CO2”

    2. RCP8.5 is based on an updated A2-scenario.

    Rihai et al (2011) explains the lineage:
    “The RCP8.5 is based on the A2r scenario (Riahi et al. 2007), which provides an updated and revised quantification of the original IPCC A2 SRES scenario storyline (Nakicenovic et al. 2000). With a few exceptions, including an updated base year calibration (to 2005) and a revised representation of short-term energy trends, especially in developing countries, the RCP8.5 builds thus upon the socio-economic and demographic background, resource assumptions and technological base of the A2r scenario.7”

    3. There is a special number of Climatic Change devoted to the new scenarios, 2011 vol 109:

    Moss, R. H., Edmonds, J. a, Hibbard, K. a, Manning, M. R., Rose, S. K., van Vuuren, D. P., Carter, T. R., et al. (2010). The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature, 463(7282), 747–56. doi:10.1038/nature08823

    Riahi, K., Rao, S., Krey, V., Cho, C., Chirkov, V., Fischer, G., Kindermann, G., et al. (2011). RCP 8.5—A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions. Climatic Change, 109(1-2), 33–57. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0149-y

    Comment by perwis — 21 Dec 2012 @ 4:25 PM

  248. Re 238 SecularAnimist (re 233 Eric Rowland), re 240 Rita, re 236 Kevin McKinney –

    An example of command and control might be fuel economy standards. Also, the (partial? as I have been under the impression there are some conditions in which fluorescents shouldn’t be deployed, and … ?) phasing out of incandescent light bulbs. (If those who argue against these options were more enthusiastic about the price-signal mechanisms, I’d take them more seriously. Still, even with a proper tax rate on climate-changing and ocean-acidifying pollution, I’d argue keeping or adding some such auxiliary policies would be good (although they needn’t necessarily be command and control; they could be incentives like rebates for efficiency in buildings and appliances, etc.), in part because real markets aren’t ideal, and there’re learning curves. Production possibilities curves can be concave in parts; etc. In other words, for at least some period of time, it makes sense to me to offer additional incentives for some things. Some people may need to get used to some things, like having solar roofs in the neighborhood, etc. )

    IMO A formal justification for the tax is the externality. Aspects of this particular externality make it tricky to allocate revenue as such (where should we build the aquaducts and where do we put (invest) the money until we need it; how do we compensate for economic/other injury without encouraging maladaptive behavior (not meant to imply it can’t be done; it certainly can)), so putting it anywhere helpful (with reasonable cost-effectiveness) may be justified (if a cut in other taxes helps the economy then there will be easier to get back tax revenue later to pay climate change-related costs, so that could be an investment) (include international spending as an option – like contributing to paying for clean energy infrastructure in developing countries). Consider the long lives of solar panels, that option makes sense. Learning curves and mass-market advantage are reasons for subsidizing promising fledgling industries; Government R&D in general has additional justification besides AGW/OA (OA=ocean acidification – as used @ skepticalscience).

    (typed fast, pardon grammar and style)

    re 209 Esop – remember to point out that the Mayans were not wrong. Indeed, this day, which was on the calendar, has arrived. Time keeps going at 1 second per second. :)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Dec 2012 @ 5:00 PM

  249. Clarifications:
    1. people are not perfectly rational.
    2. as the same forcing that can sustain an ice age might not be enough to start one, the same incentives that would sustain sustainable behavior might not be enough to get there. For individuals sometimes; also sometimes there’s institutional/social stuff – the way people do things – it may be hard for an individual to change when others keep going the same way, and there’s that whole learning curve issue; also supporting infrastructure or planning (HVDC grid stuff). The aesthetics of solar roofs perhaps depends on their presence (frequency-dependent selection) – not to say that that’s all the Scientific American article was about – glare is an issue, apparently (I would think only for certain times of the day for any given geometry (PS I used to live where I couldn’t look out one particular window at a particular time of day for some part of the year (don’t remember which part) in sunny weather because of a neighbor’s (assumed) skylight – didn’t begrudge my neighbor for having a skylight as they make a lot of sense); being on rooftops – certainly I would think glare off of side-facing windows or ground-level pools or shiny cars or wet roads (or even some dry roads when driving west at sunset) would be more common… on the other hand size is a factor…) … another issue is prejudice (e.g. Hindenburg and hydrogen, cast-iron vs steel lawn mower blades); people need to learn to distinguish between solar cell A and solar B if there were an issue with one and not the other)
    3. also, there could be non-AGW/OA related justification for phasing out incandescent light bulbs – it may just good for the economy – but generally IMO the government shouldn’t be constantly trying to optimize the private sector; in this case there is a particular compelling issue… etc.

    Okay, done OT rambling.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Dec 2012 @ 6:17 PM

  250. … I heard on the Weather Channel yesterday that much of Madison WI’s snow accumulation occured during above freezing temperatures. Of course this is possible. But how often does that happen?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 21 Dec 2012 @ 7:03 PM

  251. Patrick 027 @250 — That is not uncommon here. It requires that the ground is below freezing (or snow covered) but the air temperature near the ground is just above freezing. Of course the air aloft is cold enough for snow to form.

    If the bottom layer of slightly warmer air is thick enough, the snowflakes curl up into little balls — full of holes similar to tiny nerf balls. It usually melts right away. I call it corn snow and it certainly is not
    as the texture is different and the size is smaller.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Dec 2012 @ 12:40 AM

  252. It’s been a while since I posted a comment here and was looking for the unforced variations thread..but none to be found?, so this is a little off topic:
    I posted a comment ages ago about my hunch that there is probably a correlation between global warming and tectonic activity or an increase in the frequency of earthquakes and volcancic eruptions. At that time you all seemed to dismiss my comment..but I kept plugging on with my hunch and now it seems the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany) and Harvard have been plotting this over the last 500,000 odd years and have found an “amazing” correlation between the two. The reason they believe has to do with tectonic rebound..exactly what I guessed! As the ice melts on the land surface billions of tonnes of weight are lifted off the bedrock but simultaneously as the ocean ‘fills’ the weight on the seabed is increased thus squashing the magma and forcing it to find additional ways to the surface. Ok!..I mentioned tectonic rebound but not also of the added force on the oceanbed. The two complement each other perfectly. Trusting not to find so many dismissers this time around!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 22 Dec 2012 @ 12:51 AM

  253. Gavin,

    do you think it is possible that warming is moving off the IPCC target range?

    Because we seem to be at the end of the regular period (10 -15 yr) where there is only slight warming….

    So (according to you guys),..time for warming. I’m just wondering what your thoughts are, especially since you have admitted we are i9norant of the climate system.

    In any case I look forward to the model comparison update.

    Stores-Brooklyn reasummu

    Comment by Isotopious — 22 Dec 2012 @ 3:51 AM

  254. perwis @247.
    Thank you for pointing out the A2r=RCP8/5 equivilance. I did try to find some sort of numerical comparison for A2 & A1FI with A2r but the numbers I found all present different units. So I resorted to a bit of measurement and came up with A2r(1390) = 920ppm(CO2) by 2100 (from fig 9 in Riahi et al 2007), with A2 = 850ppm & A1FI = 950ppm.

    Comment by MARodger — 22 Dec 2012 @ 7:01 AM

  255. #240–Rita: “AGREED: “the proceeds from a tax must be directed at subsidizing the implementation of additional renewable energy resources to be effective.” IMO, that is the ENTIRE point of the TAX….:)”

    Well, I wouldn’t say that that’s a bad idea, given how deep in a climate policy ‘hole’ we are today. But I’d like to expand upon what I wrote above (#236), because this is a confusion that I’ve encountered before, which makes me think that it is fairly widespread.

    The main point of a carbon tax is not to subsidize anything. The point is to ‘make the polluter pay.’

    If the tax is well-designed and honestly enforced, it makes things involving a big carbon footprint more expensive relative to (competitive) things involving a smaller carbon footprint. Coal-fired electric becomes uncompetitive; gas-fired loses some of its (currently large) cost advantage over truly emissions-free technologies.

    And it’s not limited to the power sector; the beauty of it is that the price signal–“carbon costs”–propagate throughout the economy. When ‘carbon costs’ throughout the economy, it then pays to do the right thing and choose greener alternatives in every facet of one’s economic life–a very powerful force for social change, precisely because it is so pervasive.

    And the British Columbia experience suggests that even relatively modest taxes–if I understand it correctly, their current tax rate is $20 a tonne–can have a noticeable impact.

    As I said, I’m not ‘agin’ using the money to implement low-carbon-emissions technologies. But there are two pretty good reasons for the approach that BC took.

    One is that subsidies are tricky, economically speaking–in principle they distort the market, which is believed to create economic inefficiency (which really means that the economy as a whole ends up a little poorer than otherwise.) The degree to which this occurs is variable, but for a really bad subsidy structure (tax breaks for Big Oil, anyone?) it can be considerable. The results can even be completely ‘perverse’ in some cases, where particularly badly-designed subsidies actually act to discourage the very thing they were intended to promote.

    The second thing is a bit of political pragmatism: whereas subsidizing specific sectors of the economy will mean creating ‘losers’ by fiat, who naturally will fight, a carbon tax that funds rebates or tax credits makes everyone a ‘winner’, at least to that extent. Therefore, it has built-in political ‘sex appeal.’ That’s no bad thing…

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Dec 2012 @ 9:07 AM

  256. Lawrence Coleman, it’s good to reference your comments, at least to the press release, and to the DOI when available.

    Comment by flxible — 22 Dec 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  257. Thanks flxible.

    A bit of a quote from that press release:

    —- quote follows —-

    “… The periods of high volcanic activity followed fast, global temperature increases and associated rapid ice melting….

    “In times of global warming, the glaciers are melting on the continents relatively quickly. At the same time the sea level rises. The weight on the continents decreases, while the weight on the oceanic tectonic plates increases. Thus, the stress changes within in the earth to open more routes for ascending magma” says Dr Jegen.

    “The rate of global cooling at the end of the warm phases is much slower, so there are less dramatic stress changes during these times. “If you follow the natural climate cycles, we are currently at the end of a really warm phase. Therefore, things are volcanically quieter now. The impact from man-made warming is still unclear based on our current understanding” says Dr Kutterolf. The next step is to investigate shorter-term historical variations to better understand implications for the present day.”

    Kutterolf, S., M. Jegen, J. X. Mitrovica, T. Kwasnitschka, A. Freundt, P. J. Huybers (2012): A detection of Milankovitch frequencies in global volcanic activity. Geology, G33419.1,

    —- end quote —

    Rate of change is going to be interesting to watch.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Dec 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  258. #255–A diversion, no doubt, but the press release writers were wrong to say that: “Conversely, the idea that climate may also affect volcanic eruptions on a global scale and over long periods of time is completely new.”

    Nils Ekholm, among others, attempted to link geology and CO2-mediated climate change back around the turn of the 20th century. His story is told here:

    (Though the geological connection is not discussed at a lot of length.)

    There’s also a nice quick summary of his ideas here:

    That also gives a link to his 1901 paper On the Variations of the Climate of the Geological and Historical Past and Their Causes.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Dec 2012 @ 11:12 AM

  259. 21 & 22 Kevin McKinney: There is nothing in my atheism that leads to existential nihilism. Look up Sociobiology, starting with “Genes, Mind & Culture” by Lumsden and Wilson. Morality and ethics are instinctive for 96% of all humans. Monod did not find a contradiction. The “teleonomy” of living things does not contradict the objectivity of science. There is no “profound epistemological contradiction.” Life is the meaning of life, and no other meaning is needed. Neither vitalism nor animism is needed. “the unwearying, heroic effort of mankind desperately denying its own contingency” is nonsense. The universe has no meaning. It just is. Be happy with ” Life is the meaning of life.” That is all you get. We humans could be extinct soon, if we are not smart enough.

    “It runs counter to our very human tendency to believe that behind everything real in the world stands a necessity rooted in the very beginning of things.”
    Sorry about that, Monod. I never had any such tendency to believe.
    “We today are no less in the habit of differentiating between brain and mind than they were in the eighteenth century.” “What doubt can there be of the presence of the spirit within us?” See books by Raymond Kurzweil: “How To Make a Mind” “The Age of Spiritual Machines” etc..

    Monod is full of old fashioned nonsense. And so are James A. Coffman & Donald C. Mikulecky

    From Wikipedia;
    James A. Coffman is not there.
    Donald C. Mikulecky is almost not there.
    Who are they?

    “Metaphysical terms?” not needed. Read Book “Regenesis” by Church & Regis
    The biologists have already made viruses directly from chemicals and they are now working on making bacteria directly from chemicals. It will happen within 10 years. They are thinking about making humans with reverse chemical handedness.

    Reference the book: “A Universe From Nothing; why there is something rather than nothing” by Lawrence M. Krauss, 2012

    page 178: “This is why philosophy and theology are ultimately incapable of addressing by themselves the truly fundamental questions that perplex us about our existence.”
    Why does the universe exist, etcetera is a science question, not a religion or philosophy question. There are almost no questions left for religion or philosophy, and soon there will be none.

    As a graduate student in physics in the early 1970s, I took a course, High Energy Astrophysics, in which one of the topics discussed was the origin of the universe. In 1930, Heisenberg published his Uncertainty Principle. It is Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle that enables us to know that the god theory is irrelevant to the creation of universes. In that course we postulated 6 or 7 ways for universes to create themselves out of nothing. Since gravity points inward, gravity is a negative energy. Our universe still adds up to nothing. We don’t know how many universes there are but we know that there could be infinitely many universes.

    In another century, we will be able to create a universe.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 23 Dec 2012 @ 1:25 AM

  260. Yep I’m often guilty of not quoting sources or links..will attenpt to address that in future..thanks fixible.
    Could anyone give a guesstimation of how additional volcanic vents in the ocean floor could affect ocean temp. I know that ocean scientists are surprised at that rate of temp increase in the bottom water around antarctica..could that partially be related to additional super hot volcanic venting? My guess is that it is probably negligible but it’s worth the question. Thanks!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Dec 2012 @ 5:30 AM

  261. 253 Isotopius: In listening to those two lectures by Prof. Ramsdorf…he mentioned that the IPCC current and future predictions of global temp increase are pretty spot on because the global energy budget is very well understood by climate scientists. However when it comes to ice albedo in the arctic circle more variables come into play that are not that well understood and as a consequence the IPCC’s predictions are blatently erronious. Sea level rise is another where the actual point to point measurements and the satellite data are light years away from the IPCC’s conclusion. This is dangerous because the world’s policymakers usually use the IPCC’s data as their primary reference, if they believe the ultra ultra conservative predictions by the world’s largest gathering of climate scientists they might be forgiven for believing there is still time for action where in actualality we are quite probably ‘past time’ for any meaningful mitigation action.
    So I don’t kow what needs to happen but the IPCC has to get a firm hold on it’s understanding otherwise it will lose what left of it’s credibilty.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Dec 2012 @ 5:49 AM

  262. Kevin McKinney #255,

    “The main point of a carbon tax is not to subsidize anything. The point is to ‘make the polluter pay.’”

    I don’t think a real carbon tax would get off the ground. Here’s Robert Frank’s recent perspective on costs to achieve necessary carbon reductions (
    “The good news is that we could insulate ourselves from catastrophic risk at relatively modest cost by enacting a steep carbon tax. Early studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that a carbon tax of up to $80 per metric ton of emissions — a tax that might raise gasoline prices by 70 cents a gallon — would eventually result in climate stability. But because recent estimates about global warming have become more pessimistic, stabilization may require a much higher tax. How hard would it be to live with a tax of, say, $300 a ton?

    If such a tax were phased in, the prices of goods would rise gradually in proportion to the amount of carbon dioxide their production or use entailed. The price of gasoline, for example, would slowly rise by somewhat less than $3 a gallon. Motorists in many countries already pay that much more than Americans do, and they seem to have adapted by driving substantially more efficient vehicles.”

    To paraphrase Bush the Elder: ‘Read my lips; no high carbon taxes’. There is no way the American public would support a doubling of gas taxes in the near future to help avert climate change.

    Now, seventy years ago, we instituted a method to reduce gasoline consumption that worked. It was called rationing. It worked because we were at war, supported by the majority of Americans. I remember older cousins and neighbors serving in the war, and the people at home were not about to complain about modest sacrifices while members of their families and communities were in harm’s way. We have neither that spirit of sacrifice nor the unanimity in agreement of the criticality of the climate change threat today.

    I don’t see any method based on democratic processes that will limit fossil fuel consumption to the extremely low levels required. I am starting to believe there may be one slight possibility, having nothing to do with any democratic process, but it will be neither pleasant or painless for a large number of people.

    Comment by Superman1 — 23 Dec 2012 @ 6:08 AM

  263. MARodger @254

    Yes, comparing RCP and SRES scenarios is not trivial.

    The best comparison I have found is in Rogelj et al (2012), where they provide the following table (from Table 3):

    RCP ~ SRES scenario with similar median temperature increase by 2100
    RCP3-PD ~ None
    RCP4.5 ~ SRES B1
    RCP6 ~ SRES B2
    RCP8.5 ~ SRES A1FI

    However, it should be noted that this result is based on running a reduced complexity carbon-cycle and climate model (MAGICC) in order to compare results from SRES and RCP scenarios.

    Rogelj, J., Meinshausen, M., & Knutti, R. (2012). Global warming under old and new scenarios using IPCC climate sensitivity range estimates. Nature Climate Change, 2(4), 248–253. doi:10.1038/nclimate1385

    Comment by perwis — 23 Dec 2012 @ 10:08 AM

  264. Lawrence Coleman #261,

    ” However when it comes to ice albedo in the arctic circle more variables come into play that are not that well understood and as a consequence the IPCC’s predictions are blatently erronious. Sea level rise is another where the actual point to point measurements and the satellite data are light years away from the IPCC’s conclusion.”

    The IPCC has a procedural charter that is not only unbelievably cumbersome (, but, in my view, guaranteed to arrive at the most conservative conclusions possible. From Appendix A of the above, ” The essence of the Lead Authors’ task is synthesis of material drawn from available literature as defined in Section 4.2. Lead Authors, in conjunction with Review Editors, are also required to take account of expert and government review comments when revising text. Lead Authors may not necessarily write original text themselves, but they must have the proven ability to develop text that is scientifically, technically and socio-economically sound and that faithfully represents, to the extent that this is possible, contributions by a wide variety of experts.” In addition, the Appendix spells out the required intervention of the supporting governments at all steps in the process. Anyone who has ever attempted to hammer out an agreement between two or three governments knows the compromises required and the conservatism that results from this process.

    But, suppose the IPCC operated in the best way possible: more recent inputs, models that depicted the Arctic ice melting accurately, models that included the effects of positive feedback mechanisms that we have already seen, etc. What makes you believe the actionable response of governments and their citizenry would be any different from what it is today? With all the built-in conservatism and under-estimation of present day models, their predictions as documented by the spate of recent major reports (IEA, World Bank, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, etc) are still quite dire. We can argue all we want whether the Rowlands model predicts 3 C or 4 C by mid-century, or whether such models predict 5 C or 6 C or 7 C by century’s end, the reality is that BAU spells the end of the civilization as we know it by at least century’s end, and perhaps much sooner if positive feedbacks are included. And, what has been our response relative to what is required to head off this disaster? Zero! I frankly believe that our response would be no different under the best models, given that the underlying problem is addiction to unlimited cheap energy use rather than lack of technical information.

    Comment by Superman1 — 23 Dec 2012 @ 12:53 PM

  265. Superman1, your source makes the error of considering taxes a cost, when in fact they are costless transfers which can be freely substituted with/for other taxes. The effect of a revenue-neutral carbon tax of $300/ton would be to drop the cost of goods as less resources will be required and no net increase in taxes would be levied. Goods with less than average carbon emissions will drop in price even more. Some highly inefficient goods might increase in price. Such a tax could allow for the reduction or elimination of the payroll tax, thus helping create jobs.

    So, to answer your question, I think we’d survive the increased prosperity a large carbon tax would bring, but you’re probably right that the USA’s particular version of society and media combined with a government designed to thwart change makes even a token carbon tax unlikely in the near future.

    Comment by JustMyOpinion — 23 Dec 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  266. Re 260 Lawrence Coleman – global average geothermal flux is a bit under 0.1 W/m2 (from memory). Of course it varies. gives 0.09 W/m2 ; the highest value implied in Fig 3 is 0.45 W/m2, and that would be found somewhere within the relatively small fraction of global area with the strongest red color. Of course that’s for some limit of resolution (which limit I’m not sure. 10 km^2? – there’s a link from Fig 3 which might be of some help, although I’m not sure if they talk about decadal-centennial fluctuations at all – I’m guessing not, sorry); I’m not sure what the highest time-averaged heat flow is for a given m^2 but obviously temporal fluctuations in some places would get very large. But to heat some larger region of water or ice over some period of years by some amount you’d need a fluctuation on that spatial-temporal scale…

    re 259 Edward Greisch – re Kevin McKinney 21-22 where?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Dec 2012 @ 3:16 PM

  267. “There is no way the American public would support a doubling of gas taxes in the near future to help avert climate change.”

    Not even if it were rebated directly to their bank accounts? I beg to differ, in such a case. And it shouldn’t be ‘gas taxes’–it should be as comprehensive as possible. The only existing test case, as I said above, suggests that the idea will work. (And note justmyopinion’s comments about costs versus transfers in #265.)

    “I don’t see any method based on democratic processes that will limit fossil fuel consumption to the extremely low levels required. I am starting to believe there may be one slight possibility, having nothing to do with any democratic process, but it will be neither pleasant or painless for a large number of people.”

    I beg to differ there, too, until proven wrong by events. After all, I don’t rule the world (or any significant subset thereof), so that pretty much leaves me the democratic process with which to work.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Dec 2012 @ 6:10 PM

  268. Lawrence Coleman,

    “Yes, we have already heard on our mainstream media here in australia that acheiving the magic 2Deg threshold is now virtually impossible and that we shouldn’t be surprised to end up at the 4-5deg mark in the not too distant future. I listened to both lectures; being a climate scientist he lent a lot of cred to the presentation. It was interesting the graph of temp vs sea level rise. You can appreciate the problem we have at present having created this 40% rise in CO2 almost overnight..very very unnatural! So that the temp/sea level graph are now simultanously tracking each other. He didn’t mention either the thawing permafrost and methane hyrates in the ocean bed that as the ocean unstoppably warms will progressively get released in a more or less exponential fashion. He still rather naively (to me at least) stated that there is still a window of time at which to address CC. The arctic will be ice free in summer within 5-6 years, progressing rapidly to all the remaining 9 months of the year as the arctic ocean continues to warm. Greenland ice albedo is now in full swing, we have reached a tipping point now that ensures all the land ice will disappear probably well before the next couple of millenia. Prof. Ramsdorf still believes we have time???.”

    You need to consider the funding source, and its influence on content of someone representing them. Dr. Rahmstorf is presenting as a member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), a body of experts appointed by the German government and advising it on global change issues. None of the IPCC member governments are interested in presenting the message of e.g. Guy McPherson, or someone similar. Rahmstorf gives the message presented in typical government and industry reports: a graphical representation of what we can expect based on models that do not include proper ice dynamics or positive feedbacks, and therefore are very conservative estimates of the future; a glimmer of hope at the end, whereby all we need do is tighten our belts somewhat and switch to renewables, and we can dodge the major impacts of the impending climate change catastrophe.

    The 2 C target you mention, and Rahmstorf admits is based more on politics than science, is an interesting one. Anderson states that decades ago, 2 C seemed a reasonable number, based on the available science. Anderson states further that the recent science results imply 1 C might be a more rational target. Now, when one designs a complex system, one allows a hefty safety factor for uncertainties in material/component properties, and for unexpected perturbations (think Fukiyama). Pressure vessels might use a safety factor of four; automobiles three. What Rahmstorf and Anderson are doing, aiming for a temperature increase limit of 2 C, is like designing the system to have a safety factor of 0.5. And, in a sense, the fate of our civilization hangs on successful operation of this particular system!

    Even an effective safety factor of 0.5, ludicrous though it is, may be inadequate. At a temperature increase of 0.8, we will probably lose the Arctic ice cap, at least for part of the Summer. At a temperature increase of 0.8, we appear to have triggered off methane releases in diverse parts of the Arctic, and they appear to be increasing. Maybe the design temperature increase for this system should be 0.4 C.

    You question Dr. Rahmstorf’s stated belief that we still have time. Given the uncertainties of temperature and related profiles over time published in the unclassified open literature, and the spectrum of projections and interpretations, one can ‘cherry-pick’ whatever profiles they like depending on assumptions for positive feedback trends and potential ice dynamics mechanisms. At one end of the spectrum are the Guy McPhersons, who believe we have triggered irreversible positive feedback mechanisms that cannot be stopped, and we have another generation or two left as a civilization. At the other end of the spectrum are those who either ‘deny’ the scientific projections altogether, or who downplay the immediacy and suggest there is time to effect an orderly transition to a renewables economy.

    My personal reading of the computed temperature profiles, with some ‘boost’ added in for effects from the positive feedback mechanisms that we are observing now, is that we still have a theoretical chance to avoid the major catastrophe, but much sacrifice and pain would be required in the very near future. I read Anderson’s results as telling us the CO2 limit for the atmosphere has already been reached for an approximately 2 C limit. There is no more room (unless we find a near-term approach for removing copious amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere rapidly) for additional CO2, which means ending fossil fuel use ASAP. We need to reforest rapidly and, because we are seeing initiation of the self-sustaining positive feedback mechanisms, we need some modest geo-engineering to ‘quench’ these self-sustaining mechanisms.

    I see no way we can accomplish this under the present system. The plans for fossil fuel use of all the major countries, especially including China and India, are in the opposite direction of what is required above. There is one slight chance that the above requirements could be met, but it would not be accomplished through democratic means, and would be neither pleasant nor painless.

    Comment by Superman1 — 23 Dec 2012 @ 7:05 PM

  269. Kevin McKinney #267,

    ” 267.“There is no way the American public would support a doubling of gas taxes in the near future to help avert climate change.””

    The wording should have been gas prices, half the increase coming from the ‘carbon tax’.

    ” Not even if it were rebated directly to their bank accounts?”

    We’re playing semantic games here. The fundamental objective is to drastically eliminate the use of fossil fuels in transportation. Either we change the form of transportation, or make it very painful economically for drivers of gasoline-powered vehicles to continue their driving habits using gas. In the short term, the only realistic way to do this would be people walking or bicycling to their destinations, or having large car pools. Given the sprawling nature of the American infrastructure, this is not realistic for many/most people. In the long term, yes, one could envision a renewables-based grid charging electric vehicles that have themselves been manufactured in facilities powered by this grid. That’s a long way off, and if you believe Anderson’s message, we don’t have the luxury of time to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels. So, in practice, you’re proposing a doubling of gas prices, and I don’t believe it will sell.

    ” After all, I don’t rule the world (or any significant subset thereof), so that pretty much leaves me the democratic process with which to work.”

    And, what has that process done for climate change since Hansen sounded the alarm thirty years ago (and others well before that)?

    Comment by Superman1 — 23 Dec 2012 @ 7:22 PM

  270. Welcome to Planet Wobegon, where all our temperatures are above average:

    “November 2012 … the 36th consecutive November and 333rd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average.”

    hat tip to Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Dec 2012 @ 10:15 PM

  271. “We’re playing semantic games here.”

    With all due respect, no, we are not. We are talking about a comprehensive measure which would send a price signal propagating through the entire economy, versus a limited measure aimed at transportation only. Emissions are much bigger than transportation only. In fact, transportation is what, 17% of emissions, or something like that? Other carbon-emitting bits of the economy need to have incentives to use carbon-free technologies and techniques, too, from agriculture to cement manufacture.

    And yes, folks are sensitive to gas prices. But a majority also believe that we have an emissions problem, and if the carbon tax were revenue-neutral–as in the case of the BC tax–that it would be acceptable. They like their cars in BC, too, after all.

    “And, what has that process done for climate change since Hansen sounded the alarm thirty years ago (and others well before that)?”

    More than you think, apparently, though less than I’d like.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Dec 2012 @ 10:22 PM

  272. Superman1: I respect your optimism. I think us humans, especially the ones in the western world have believed decades of corny hollywood movies that perpetuate the myth that we can do anything, control everything and that the planet is ours for the taking. It’s time we realised that we have crossed a vital line. The biosphere has detected a pathogen bent in caused mortal harm to the stupendously intricate web of life and collective consciousness/intelligence and will seek to irradicate it. If that means another mass exctinction like 220 MYA so be it. We have to wake up that we are no longer in change..we no longer control proceedings, nature does. Bit of a bugger though to finally wake up and find you are halfway down the bear’s throat well on your way to his stomach!. The biosphere has an collective intelligence that puts ours into the ‘gnat’ catagory.
    That’s why by continually stressing the natural system for as long as we have we initiated a vast unstoppable cascade of positive feedback mechanisms that will quickly (1-2 epochs)restore equilibrium once again to the planet.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Dec 2012 @ 11:13 PM

  273. Isotopius and COleman,

    Understanding current changes would be crucial for the IPCC to regain credibility. Possibly, the body will re-evaluate their projections, and lower them to match the recent data. The other possibility is that we are current in lull, and the data will rise to match their projections. I agree that this is a critical time for their political existence.

    Comment by Dan H. — 24 Dec 2012 @ 12:47 AM

  274. superman1 @262:

    There is one slight chance that the above requirements could be met, but it would not be accomplished through democratic means, and would be neither pleasant nor painless.

    You said something nearly identical to this @262. It begs the question, what means do you have in mind? Based on previous experience I’m willing to hazard a guess. In November’s open thread @382 you said:

    Governments may have to change and types of governments may have to change; peacefully if possible and by force if necessary.

    In my reply @383 I compared your statement, which appears to endorse the overthrow of democratically elected governments (presumably including your own), to statements made by Pentti Linkola. Others also responded, e.g. Ray Ladbury: “Democracy is the only form of government that can claim legitimacy in a pluralistic society.” Your response to these criticisms was, “We all seem to have different Codes of Honor.” My reply: democracy is an indispensable condition for any code of honor worthy of the name.

    Meanwhile our moderators have repeatedly (ad nauseam) asked posters to stick to climate science and take political discussions elsewhere. To my mind it seems pretty obvious that RealClimate is a totally inappropriate place to advocate or even discuss sedition, martial law, green dictatorship, etc. and dancing around these themes is no better.

    Also in November’s open thread @430 you stated: “I have published well over two hundred papers in the peer-reviewed journal literature.” Several posters, again myself included, have asked you to support this claim. To my knowledge you have not yet done so.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 24 Dec 2012 @ 1:56 AM

  275. Kevin McKinney #271,

    “Emissions are much bigger than transportation only. In fact, transportation is what, 17% of emissions, or something like that?”

    I understand very well the fraction of total fossil fuel use devoted to transportation. But, when someone makes a proposal for e.g. increasing taxes, I like to understand how it would work in very specific situations. I deliberately chose automotive transportation because that’s relatively straight-forward, and there is a history of various states trying to impose gas taxes to raise revenue. Your response does not convince me the average American automobile owner would be willing to pay twice the present cost of gasoline and radically alter his driving habits in order to stave off severe climate change. In twenty years he might be singing a different tune, but not today.

    Comment by Superman1 — 24 Dec 2012 @ 8:58 AM

  276. Does not look good, way down south:

    Comment by David B. Benson — 24 Dec 2012 @ 8:47 PM

  277. Biogeochemical plant–soil microbe feedback in response to climate warming in peatlands

    Comment by prokaryotes — 24 Dec 2012 @ 10:35 PM

  278. Enzymology under global change: organic nitrogen turnover in alpine and sub-Arctic soils

    Understanding global change impacts on the globally important carbon storage in alpine, Arctic and sub-Arctic soils requires knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the balance between plant primary productivity and decomposition. Given that nitrogen availability limits both processes, understanding the response of the soil nitrogen cycle to shifts in temperature and other global change factors is crucial for predicting the fate of cold biome carbon stores. Measurements of soil enzyme activities at different positions of the nitrogen cycling network are an important tool for this purpose. We review a selection of studies that provide data on potential enzyme activities across natural, seasonal and experimental gradients in cold biomes. Responses of enzyme activities to increased nitrogen availability and temperature are diverse and seasonal dynamics are often larger than differences due to experimental treatments, suggesting that enzyme expression is regulated by a combination of interacting factors reflecting both nutrient supply and demand. The extrapolation from potential enzyme activities to prediction of elemental nitrogen fluxes under field conditions remains challenging. Progress in molecular ‘-omics’ approaches may eventually facilitate deeper understanding of the links between soil microbial community structure and biogeochemical fluxes. In the meantime, accounting for effects of the soil spatial structure and in situ variations in pH and temperature, better mapping of the network of enzymatic processes and the identification of rate-limiting steps under different conditions should advance our ability to predict nitrogen fluxes.

    Though from the supplemental above (nature link) on page 6, it is suggested that increase of temps, follows more fungi growth which causes less carbon sequestration. But i am not entirely sure what this means

    “Our data suggest that climate-induced changes in plant cover can reduce the productivity of peat mosses and potentially prime the decomposition of organic matter by affecting the stoichiometry of soil enzymatic activity.”

    Comment by prokaryotes — 24 Dec 2012 @ 10:50 PM

  279. 274 Chris: There exist many variants of democracy, and more can be invented.

    The most popular of the current variants seem to result in laws written by a random sample of the population. This is not only a problem with respect to the climate issue, the same applies to other fields of science (i.e. genetics, medicine, physics, etc.). The potential for good or bad outcomes due to use or neglect of science is now enormous and growing more so.

    For instance, how about a democratic government patterned after the current American one, but the Senate consisting of scientists? After all, even the democratic governments have to improve over time to remain competitive in a changing world.

    Comment by Pekka Kostamo — 24 Dec 2012 @ 11:02 PM

  280. Lawrence Coleman #272,

    “Superman1: I respect your optimism.”

    This is probably the first time anyone on this site has suggested that I am an ‘optimist’. I view myself as neither an optimist nor pessimist, but rather a realist. Even in the best of cases, as I tried to show with my safety factor argument in #268, we are treading on extremely dangerous territory. Any margin for error vanished a while ago. The chances of achieving even this dangerous 2 C limit are nil if the public writ large or their representatives have a choice. As I point out in #268, “There is one slight chance that the above requirements could be met, but it would not be accomplished through democratic means, and would be neither pleasant nor painless.” I have not spelled out the details as my critics have demanded because I, unlike many of my critics, want to keep the focus on climate science and how it can impact/influence personal/national/global strategies.

    Now, why am I ‘optimistic’ that anything the citizens of this planet could do would be able to reverse what you call “a vast unstoppable cascade of positive feedback mechanisms that will quickly (1-2 epochs) restore equilibrium once again to the planet.” Here, I am forced to rely on intuition and experience, because, unfortunately, the climate modelers have chosen not to include the major positive feedback mechanisms in their models. I like to draw the analogy to a striking match. When the match is first moved against the rough surface, work is converted to internal energy, and the temperature of the reactants is raised. At some point, an ‘ignition’ temperature is reached. Here, sparks start to fly, and the reaction usually proceeds into the burn phase with the appearance of a flame. However, sometimes the sparks do not transition into a flame, but rather disappear. So, in the early part of the ignition phase, when the self-sustaining mechanisms have not formed fully, they can still be ‘quenched’. That’s where I believe we are with respect to the positive feedback mechanisms in the climate system, given the state of what I see published on the positive feedback mechanisms and the absence of any model results that include these effects. Five years from now, when more time trend series of these effects become available, I might change my mind even without the appropriate model results.

    Now, if someone can present climate models that contain estimates of the effects of these feedbacks, and can show convincingly that we are either in the ‘burn’ phase (as McPherson suggests) or have a long way to go before we reach ‘ignition’, then I am open to change from this source as well. But, given the skimpy evidence I have available in the unclassified literature, my present best guess is that we still have a theoretical chance to pull back from the cliff. Would you call that ‘optimism’; one could make almost a similar statement about winning the Powerball jackpot?

    Comment by Superman1 — 25 Dec 2012 @ 10:25 AM

  281. Can somebody shine some light on current cold episodes in the norther hemisphere? Are these due to arctic air intrusion?

    Comment by prokaryotes — 25 Dec 2012 @ 11:44 AM

  282. Looking for winter weirdness 3

    This time the weirdness seems to have hit Russia.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 25 Dec 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  283. Looking for winter weirdness

    “The Atlantic is full of low pressure systems, while there is a huge blocking high pressure centred over Russia, which is preventing low pressure from moving into Europe and also prevents the rainbands from progressing eastwards too.

    “Because the low pressure is squeezing against this Russian block and the battle is taking place over the UK the winds will be strong.

    This time the culprit seems to be that blocking high over Russia. And that’s just the thing to look for when looking for winter weirdness. Unfortunately I lack the knowledge and experience to give you all the meteorological ins and outs, what the jet stream is doing and everything. But I do know that there’s an increasing amount of research into a potential connection between disappearing sea ice and an increase in blocking patterns caused by a meandering jet stream.

    Global Warming changes the Jet Stream, cause of more Extreme Weather

    Comment by prokaryotes — 25 Dec 2012 @ 12:01 PM

  284. Reposted Neven’s post, added input from Sam Carana (AMEG), added 2 videos on the connection of extreme weather anomalies with Jet Stream / Sea Ice decline relation.

    Though the science is still evolving and RC run a post on this during the 2010 winter period, maybe time for an update.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 25 Dec 2012 @ 3:22 PM

  285. Science 14 December 2012:
    Vol. 338 no. 6113 pp. 1424-1425
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1229351
    Policy Forum
    Climate Change
    The Greening of Insurance
    “… Insurers publicly voiced concern about human-induced climate change four decades ago (1). I describe industry trends, activities, and promising avenues for future effort, from a synthesis of industry progress in managing climate change risk [see supplementary materials(SM)].”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Dec 2012 @ 4:10 PM

  286. superman1 @280:

    I have not spelled out the details as my critics have demanded because I, unlike many of my critics, want to keep the focus on climate science

    That’s just a convenient excuse for ignoring the criticisms. The issue is using/abusing a prestigious climate science forum as a platform for disseminating extremely reactionary political views and conspiracy theories (EMF/cell phones cause cancer*, etc.), while claiming to have hundreds of papers in the published literature, without providing any support for the claim.

    Thanks to interminable repetition over the last six months, the rhetoric–including “quench,” “hail Mary pass,” corrupt scientists, smoking/cancer analogies, and thinly veiled sedition–is by now all too familiar, as is the highhanded tone. I’m convinced it’s a type of trolling, i.e. posts calculated to provoke predictable responses that waste time and bandwidth, distract from more appropriate discussions, and unduly elevate the poster’s importance. I have drawn attention to it on numerous occasions, to no avail, presumably because this is akin to “quenching” a fire with oxygen. When an individual consistently disrupts a group and refuses to moderate their behavior, the best/only option may be to ignore that individual, in the hopes that they will eventually tire of soliloquizing and seek a more receptive audience elsewhere.

    *See open thread posts Nov 2012 #286, Oct #186, Sep #322.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 25 Dec 2012 @ 5:39 PM

  287. Re- Comment by Chris Korda — 25 Dec 2012 @ 5:39 PM

    Right on!


    Comment by Steve Fish — 25 Dec 2012 @ 8:31 PM

  288. Mr. Chris Korda writes on Christmas Day, 2012 at 5:39 PM:

    “…presumably because this is akin to “quenching” a fire with oxygen. When an individual consistently disrupts a group and refuses to moderate their behavior, the best/only option may be to ignore that individual, in the hopes that they will eventually tire of soliloquizing and seek a more receptive audience elsewhere.”

    Now you’re catching on. From the long xperience on Usenet, only two things work:
    1)dedicated and benevolent moderators
    2)do not feed the troll attitude

    1) works forabit, till moderators lose interest
    2) works for ever, but runs into the “someone on the internet is wrong” problem now and then

    Don’t feed the troll. If you think you see a troll, reply once and move on. Proceed. You do not need to spend your entire life educating the wilfully blind.

    People come here for science. Long troll deconstructions turn them off. They can see thru the trolls, don’t underestimate the commentariat.

    Let’s talk science. Deniers are noise, they grow more irrelevant by the day. So are doommongers.

    So, speaking of science, i have been looking at the Pfeffer projection from 2008, in light of Tedesco et al. and the Shepherd reconciliation. It is still not wrong, GRIS on the low edge, and WAIS about 60% below, but both accelerating uncomfortably. Hope that the recent EAIS mass gain in Shepherd persists.


    Comment by sidd — 26 Dec 2012 @ 1:53 AM

  289. Nick Breeze from Envisionation is a copyright troll

    Comment by prokaryotes — 26 Dec 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  290. Lawrence Coleman #272,

    “That’s why by continually stressing the natural system for as long as we have we initiated a vast unstoppable cascade of positive feedback mechanisms that will quickly (1-2 epochs)restore equilibrium once again to the planet.”

    What would be useful on this blog is to have a thread devoted to the issue you raise. I have in mind a debate, or some sort of exchange, among three experts in this area. One would be Guy McPherson, who believes we have already passed this point of no return. A second would be Kevin Anderson, who believes we are getting near. A third might be David Archer, who had a post on this blog about a year ago downplaying the immediate danger from methane relative to what McPherson or Wadhams would propose.

    The debate could be written only, with three separate contributions answering very specific topics. Or, it could be a phonecon among the three, with audio and transcript made available. Or, it could be an email exchange, with the full exchange transcribed. But, it would be valuable for each proponent to have to defend his viewpoint against knowledgeable experts.

    Comment by Superman1 — 26 Dec 2012 @ 4:37 PM

  291. Tipping Points in Earth Climate System – 2012 Arctic Methane Special

    Comment by prokaryotes — 26 Dec 2012 @ 5:23 PM

  292. Erratic Environment May Be Key to Human Evolution

    This seems to be proxies from about 3 mya, somewhat pre-Quaternary. So the global climate cycling was not yet the deep glacial/interglacial but the milder (and steadier) stade/interstade (as I will term it). Yet around Olduvai Gorge, being on the boundary between two climate regions, the shift between steppe (grassland) and forest (maybe woodland steppe) was quite rapid.

    I’m impressed by this work (a tough proxy to work out) and impressed by the rapidity of the climate change in East Africa.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 26 Dec 2012 @ 9:23 PM

  293. Superman: I’m just visualising the inertia in the system – the oceanic and the atmospheric. How long do you think it will take for world emmissions to come down again to 280ppm? According to James Hansen thats what it will take to reverse the process. 2C rise will still mean the complete melt of the greenland ice shelves over the next couple of millenia. I would hate to look at western antarctica by then but that would I imagine be gone as well. So we are probably looking at 7m from greenland, probably an additional 7m from antarctica and the rest probably another 7m from alaska, canada..etc. That’s only at 2C increase!. We’ve pretty well blown our changes with that 3-4-maybe5C? The sea is going to continually warm and expand..thats practically locked in. I’m not even factoring in the powder keg 3.5Gt of methane compounds that has begun to be released. If the world got serious about CC and China/USA and India cut their emissions by say a solid 50% that still wouldn’t be for 20-30 years. The arctic regions would be ice free then for what..maybe 6 months in a year?. The jet sreams winds from the equator to the poles would have slowed to a crawl, weather systems will never seem to move..they just hang around for months at a time. Sorry but I cannot see this not happening, just going by the immense inertia of the gloabal systems involved and human nature. Btw I am a buddhist by I don’t beat around the bush in telling it as I see it.
    I would love to see a serious debate with the characters you mentioned. As long as they are not too entrenched in their closed mind frame and are willing to expolre other options..when they realise they cannot logically argue against the blatently obvious any longer.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 26 Dec 2012 @ 9:24 PM

  294. Once again
    Fluctuating Environment May Have Driven Human Evolution
    states roughly 2 million years ago but nothing else in my just prior comment requires correction.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 26 Dec 2012 @ 9:28 PM

  295. Arctic Methane Emergency Group [AMEG]

    What do you think about AMEG?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 27 Dec 2012 @ 1:37 AM

  296. 294 David B. Benson: Roger that. Will happen again, but there is no assurance anybody will survive or what the results will be. [edit – not here]

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 27 Dec 2012 @ 1:44 AM

  297. Lawrence Coleman #293,

    ” when they realise they cannot logically argue against the blatently obvious any longer.”

    Arguing against the ‘blatantly obvious’ has never stopped the climate change ‘deniers’ and, increasingly, as evidenced by some of the posts above, many of the climate change ‘believers’. In my mind, the only question is ‘when’ we go down due to climate change, not ‘if’. The problem is like a three-legged stool, with one leg being technical/scientific, the second leg being economic, the third leg being sociopolitical. Even if we could theoretically address the technical/scientific component, which still might be possible, the other two ‘legs of the stool’ would prevent the implementation.

    ” 2C rise will still mean the complete melt of the greenland ice shelves over the next couple of millenia.”

    Kevin Anderson views 2 C as the entre to the Extremely Dangerous world of climate change. From 0.8 C to 2 C is uncharted territory; severe effects could kick in well before 2 C. Even if we were to terminate fossil fuel use today, the temperature would continue to rise for the next three-four decades and, if runaway temperatures were not triggered during this process, would theoretically start to decline. The peak temperatures reached during this period are quite uncertain, but have been estimated to range between 1.5 C and over 3 C, depending on climate sensitivity and aerosol forcing. It seems to me that under the most stringent fossil fuel use conditions and some geoengineering in parallel, this temperature profile could be tailored to minimize the peak and perhaps avoid the catastrophe that awaits us. The more fossil fuel used during this period, the harsher become the geoengineering requirements, and the riskier the processes.

    I see no chance of implementing the severe fossil fuel restrictions required using voluntary means.

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Dec 2012 @ 6:16 AM

  298. Edward Greisch #295,
    “What do you think about AMEG?”

    Climate change amelioration bears a number of similarities to treatment of human health problems. One can identify and remove the causes of the problem, and thereby (hopefully) eliminate the problem itself, or one can treat/suppress/attenuate the symptoms of the problem, but allow the underlying problem to fester and (usually) get worse. In addition, the symptom treatment approach tends to be associated with its own side effects.

    The AMEG group has recognized the seriousness of the climate change problem as reflected in the Arctic. They recognize the hopelessness of removing the cause(s), so they focus on identifying and proposing treatments. From their strategic plan (, I have identified a number of their proposed fixes, and appended them at the end of this post. Will they work; who knows? Can we model them with sufficient accuracy to identify any potential side effects?

    I do have a concern about the three techniques, based more on intuition than any evidence from model results (which AMEG has not presented). The foundational problem is not the sunlight coming in; it is the blockage of thermal radiation from Earth back into space. In medical terms, the Earth is suffering from thermal constipation. Their first two proposed ‘treatments’ seem analogous to going to a Doctor with a complaint of constipation, and the Doctor prescribes a starvation diet! The sun is necessary for many life processes, and reducing it by e.g. solar shields or other types of blockage should be a last resort, not a first resort. Removing the blockage by CO2 removal or AMEG’s third cloud removal approach, or perhaps some radiation frequency conversion approach that bypasses CO2 absorption, would seem more logical as a first resort. However, clouds serve their own purposes, and arbitrarily removing them might have its own set of unintended consequences. Can we model this situation with sufficient accuracy to be confident we are not making the problem worse?

    So, to answer your question, AMEG’s heart is in the right direction, but whether we have the tools to gauge whether their proposals would be beneficial or detrimental is an open question. They are effectively proposing immediate approval of a widely-used drug while bypassing years of laboratory testing and clinical trials; a Hail Mary pass if ever there was one. But, a Hail Mary pass may be all we have available, if they are correct!

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Dec 2012 @ 10:58 AM

  299. And, here is the appendix to #298.


    Three preferred cooling techniques

    A combination of three cooling techniques is proposed, to give flexibility in deployment and maximise the chances of success:
    ● stratospheric aerosols to reflect sunlight;
    ● cloud brightening to reflect more sunlight;
    ● cloud removal to allow thermal radiation into space.

    The first technique mimics the action of large volcanoes such as Mt Pinatubo which erupted in 1991 and had a cooling effect of 0.5 degrees C over 2 years due to the sulphate aerosols it produced in the stratosphere. However larger particles in the aerosol are liable to reflect thermal radiation from the planet surface, hence having a warming effect. To avoid this, there is an advantage in using TiO2 particles, as used in white paint. These can be engineered to a constant size, and coated to produce required properties, such as not sticking to one another. Large quantities could be dispersed at high latitudes in the lower stratosphere either using stratotankers or balloons, to have an effect lasting a few months during spring, summer and early autumn. Due to circulating winds, the aerosol will spread around the latitude where it has been injected.

    Cloud brightening is a technique whereby a very fine salt spray is produced from special spray nozzles mounted on a ship, and gets wafted up to clouds where it increases their reflective power. Whereas stratospheric particles can provide blanket cooling at particular latitudes, the brightening technique can be used to cool particular locations, using sophisticated modelling to decide when and where is best to do the spraying.

    The third cooling techniques involves removing certain high clouds during the months of little or no sunshine when they are having a net blanketing effect – reflecting heat back to the ground.

    Additional techniques should be considered for more local cooling, especially by increasing surface albedo; for example one could increase snowfall over land or brighten water by injection of tiny bubbles. Another technique is to break up the sea ice in autumn and winter, which has the effect of thickening the ice and producing what looks like multi-year ice. A very promising approach is to reduce currents carrying water into the Arctic Ocean, in particular the partial damming of the Bering Strait.

    Note that all the above techniques are expected to enhance the Arctic ecosystem, which is in danger of sharp decline as a result of sea ice collapse.

    Local measures to save the sea ice

    There are a number of physical ways to reduce loss of sea ice:

    ● corral the ice when it is liable to break up and float into warmer waters
    ● reduce wave action at the edges
    ● replace or cool warmer surface water using colder water from beneath
    ● thicken the ice by shoving ice on the water onto other ice
    ● thicken the ice by adding water on top to freeze
    ● thicken the ice by adding snow (which may also brighten it)
    ● add a layer of white granules or reflecting sheet.

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Dec 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  300. Sidd @288

    I find it interesting that “worst case” scenarios or “upper bound” projections seldom are REALLY worst case or upper bound.

    Pfeffer et al (2008) is an excellent example of this. For example, they use a thermostatic contribution of 0.3 m for 2100, while IPCC AR4 maximum value is 0.44 m (see Church et al 2011 for a thorough discussion of the AR4 calculations). Katsman et al (2011) uses 0.49 for their “global high end scenario”, and Sriver et al (2012) estimates the thermostatic upper bound to be 0.55 m.

    This may not sound much, but upper bounds are important for planning. Sriver et al argue that an increase of the upper bound from +2.0 to +2.25 meter have unexpectedly large impacts for flooding risk projections. For a case study they find that the flooding frequency would be nearly three orders of magnitude higher!

    By the way, I recently noticed this new paper by James Hansen et al: “Climate Sensitivity, Sea Level, and Atmospheric CO2”, submitted to Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, and available at Arxiv. Among other things, they argue that hysteresis and slow response in current ice sheet models are exaggerated. I have not had the time to read it in full, but I am interested in discussing it when I have.


    Church, J., Gregory, J., & White, N. (2011). Understanding and projecting sea level change. Oceanography 24(2), 130–143.

    Hansen, J., Sato, M., Russell, G., & Kharecha, P. (2012). Climate Sensitivity, Sea Level, and Atmospheric CO2, 34. Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics. Retrieved from

    Katsman, C. a., Sterl, A., Beersma, J. J., Brink, H. W., Church, J. a., Hazeleger, W., Kopp, R. E., et al. (2011). Exploring high-end scenarios for local sea level rise to develop flood protection strategies for a low-lying delta—the Netherlands as an example. Climatic
    Change, 109(3-4), 617–645. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0037-5

    Pfeffer, W. T., Harper, J. T., & O’Neel, S. (2008). Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea-level rise. Science (New York, N.Y.), 321(5894), 1340–3. doi:10.1126/science.1159099

    Sriver, R.L, N. M. Urban, R Olson, and K. Keller: Towards a physically plausible upper bound of sea-level rise projections. Climatic Change Letters, DOI 10.1007/s10584-012-0610 (2012).

    Comment by perwis — 27 Dec 2012 @ 11:59 AM

  301. I have stopped reading Superman1. Boreholing would be a service.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 27 Dec 2012 @ 12:28 PM

  302. The problem i have with the AMEG approach is, that they do not call for emission cuts, carbon tax and biochar.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Dec 2012 @ 1:35 PM

  303. Lawrence Coleman @293

    While worst-case scenarios are important, they must be based in science, and not pure fantasy. You say that 2C would lead to an additional 7 meter SLR “from alaska, canada etc.” This is not based in science.

    The total amount of land-based ice left in Glaciers and Ice-caps outside Greenland and Antarctica is only about 0.15-0.37 m (see this post by Stefan Rahmstorf: ). Hence, ca 0.4 meter is clearly a worst-case scenario from Glaciers and Ice-caps.

    The thermostatic component for +2C warming (compared to pre-industrial) is less than 1 meter in year 3000 (see B1 scenario in Figure 3 in Goelzer et al 2012). In year 2300 it well below 0.5 meter according to Meehl et al (2012), which finds that RCP2.6 is associated with ca 0.15-0.25 meter SLR in 2300 (RCP2.6 yields ca +2C compared to pre-industrial in 2100 and ca +1-1.5C in 2300). Even RCP4.5 is ca 0.5 meter in 2300 (RCP4.5 yields +2.5-3.5C compared to pre-industrial in 2300) (See Supplementary Table 1 in Meehl et al (2012), which is available here: )

    It is the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica that represent the elephant in the room. And this is where the models are most inadequate…


    Goelzer, H., Huybrechts, P., Raper, S. C. B., Loutre, M.-F., Goosse, H., & Fichefet, T. (2012). Millennial total sea-level commitments projected with the Earth system model of intermediate complexity LOVECLIM. Environmental Research Letters, 7(4), 045401. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/045401

    Meehl, G. A., Hu, A., Tebaldi, C., Arblaster, J. M., Washington, W. M., Teng, H., Sanderson, B. M., et al. (2012). Relative outcomes of climate change mitigation related to global temperature versus sea-level rise. Nature Climate Change, 2(8), 576–580. doi:10.1038/nclimate1529

    Comment by perwis — 27 Dec 2012 @ 1:42 PM

  304. Just a quick follow-up thought on the Hansen et al paper I referred to above. I have been looking forward to this paper and others in the forthcoming issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, based on presentations on a seminar on “Warm climates of the past – a lesson for the future?” at the Royal Society in October, 2011.

    James Hansen’s talk, together with all the others, are available as mp3:s here:

    Unfortunately, there are no powerpoint slides to go with the audio, but I guess that the previously mentioned paper by Hansen contains similar images that he discusses in his talk.

    Comment by perwis — 27 Dec 2012 @ 3:00 PM

  305. Thanks for the reference to the new Hansen paper. I see that they use a model by Russell et al. simplified to have an ocean depth of 100m, resulting in halving of oceanic poleward transport. This is done to reduce equilibration times. I am reading the Russell paper now, I see that the original model has more realistic deep ocean. Mention is made of a forthcoming paper by Russell which I look forward to. Another simplification is that the ice sheets have no internal dynamics, rather are surface properties of tundra. So I wonder if all essential physics is indeed included, or something dangerous has been left out.

    These quibbles aside, I like it ! Agree with the call for better paleo data.


    Comment by sidd — 27 Dec 2012 @ 3:31 PM

  306. Prokaryotes #302,

    “302.The problem i have with the AMEG approach is, that they do not call for emission cuts, carbon tax and biochar.”

    That’s true, but I think you have to address the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’. There appear to be two reasons: one stated, one implied. On p.10 of the Strategic Plan, it is stated: “There is one thing that we do know can produce an appropriate amount of cooling power: the sulphate aerosol in the troposphere, as emitted from coal-fired power stations and from ship bunker fuel. This aerosol has offset CO2 warming by around 75% in the past century. There should be a temporary suspension of initiatives and regulations to suppress these emissions, while they are having a significant cooling effect in the Northern Hemisphere, unless human health is at risk.” I had a double-take when I first read this, but it does appear that they are promoting continuing certain types of fossil fuel combustion because of the cooling power of their sulphate aerosols.

    The implied reason is the predicament in which they find themselves. They truly believe there is a near-term problem in the Arctic that will prove irreversible unless addressed in the relatively near future. They also look at the world as it is, and see essentially no prospect for any real CO2 emissions reduction in the near or intermediate future. So, what are their options given the three-legged stool of technical/economic/sociopolitical that I defined in #297? Well, they can do nothing, and they see that as leading to near-term disaster. Or, they can propose some high-tech option that keeps the economy going and keeps people employed, as something that might be acceptable to the public.

    Would it address the underlying problem, as would the ’emission cuts, carbon tax and biochar’ you suggest, and other similar options? Obviously not! But, it seems to me they are really saying the only thing that would ‘sell’ is some near-term politically acceptable band-aid that gave us time to address the more fundamental problem. I also view their three proposals as ‘straw-men’. They need something tangible to bring to the table, and this is what they have generated. These proposals could serve as a starting point for more serious discussions, and hopefully the technical (and maybe even political) community could provide value-added with more serious enhancements. I think they’re really trying to get some action going at this point.

    Comment by Superman1 — 27 Dec 2012 @ 3:55 PM

  307. Oh, i did not even knew this, lol – this is a bit nuts to try fire with fire.

    Sulfur dioxide (SO2) aerosols in the atmosphere are due mainly to increasing volcanic activity not from burning coal, according to NASA. Sulfur dioxide aerosols have a cooling effect and have recently been blamed for “hiding global warming.”

    The good thing about AMEG seems to me that they bring up the topic of Arctic Methane, but to opt for more coal and more aerosol spraying will not work. This is just to complex, with all the storms, precipitation patterns, methane from wetlands a current major player for methane uptake.

    The first step for any action is to enact the Carbon Tax – NOW! Then we need Biochar, Subsidies for clean tech, batteries …

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Dec 2012 @ 4:39 PM

  308. Supe…1, that dead horse was pretty well beaten last summer.
    Try re AMEG and EPA on sulfate regulations. Coincidental?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Dec 2012 @ 4:40 PM

  309. Carbon held in fossil fuel companies’ reserves. (Courtesy of Carbon Visuals)

    That’s on the main page of today’s

    And ReCaptcha continues to win the Turing Test with
    “least tToBad”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Dec 2012 @ 5:04 PM

  310. #301: “Boreholing would be a service.” #308: “Boring.”

    Hear, hear. Tolerance seems to be causing positive feedback. What’s the threshold for a quorum?

    Comment by Chris Korda — 27 Dec 2012 @ 7:58 PM

  311. Starvation Didn’t Wipe Out Sabertooth Cats

    I’ll take this as more evidence for the Clovis Comet.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 27 Dec 2012 @ 10:22 PM

  312. AMEG Cooling techniques: I also cannot see this happening on a voluntary basis having seen a bit of the international legalities involved. There will be winners and losers, will the winners be able to compensate the losers adequately and by what means. People in Africa and India can’t eat money. The understanding of the physical processes in trying to manipulate climate on a subglobal scale, specific to a particular area or region will require complete understanding to even the smallest micro level. We are still struggling to understand the macro processes. So I also think forced implementation may unfortunately be the only way. Who does the forcing? By dictatorship or committee?. I believe that geoengineering of the climate will only happen when it truly positively HAS to happen and that will of course be far too late.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 27 Dec 2012 @ 10:34 PM

  313. perwis: The total contribution by the arctic/antarctic regions is in the ball park of 21m sea level rise. Assuming a complete melt. I did say 2 millenia although I feel this length of time is way too optimistic. Kevin Anderson believes that from 0.8-2C will be sufficient. Don’t forget the poles are already experiencing a 4C increase and this rate is accelerating. It’s hard to base this on science when the science isn’t out yet and we are in uncharted territory unless you go back to the last interglacial period, but the mechanics then were not the same as now. There was far more flora (e.g rainforest) to soak up CO2. If you believe the IPCC arctica will be ice free in summer in 30+ years..should we believe that science??

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 27 Dec 2012 @ 10:49 PM

  314. James Hansen and Makiko Sato

    Update of Greenland Ice Sheet Mass Loss: Exponential?
    26 December 2012

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Dec 2012 @ 11:11 PM

  315. Hate to say this, but Hansen is doing numerology on GRIS projection. If he wants to expand this into a paper with ice dynamics i might take him more seriously.


    Comment by sidd — 28 Dec 2012 @ 12:11 AM

  316. 290 Superman1 said, “a [written] debate, or some sort of exchange, among three experts”

    You aren’t getting the results you desire (I’m assuming) because you’re not picking venues appropriately. Though 290 is on topic and appropriate, I’m sure you were here for the discussion on Climate Dialogue’s first written debate amongst three experts, so…

    Did you submit your idea for a topic to Climate Dialogue first, and are submitting it here as a back-up?


    Did you feel that Real Climate would be a better place for such a thing? If so, why?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Dec 2012 @ 4:27 AM

  317. 298 Superman1 asks, “However, clouds serve their own purposes, and arbitrarily removing them might have its own set of unintended consequences. Can we model this situation with sufficient accuracy to be confident we are not making the problem worse?”

    Your wording makes it sound like something with lasting consequences. Most GE projects are nearly instant-on and instant-off. I assume the timing for such an experiment would be to coincide with a big world surplus of food. Lots of safeguards and conditions ensuring any damage is minimal. Truly, can you imagine it not being so? Such a project would get more scrutiny than anything anytime anywhere. The risk, other than to the individuals in Region A who are harmed and those in Region B who benefit (when they’d swap destinies without the GE experiment), is primarily that the effort will have been wasted. Any harm beyond that is easily prevented simply by stopping the project.

    OTOH, it could be said that GE’s primary harm is psychological. If we can pretend that we can get away with burning everything, then many votes will be cast to do exactly that.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Dec 2012 @ 6:25 AM

  318. Jim Larsen #316,

    First time I’ve heard of Climate Dialogue. What is it?

    I’m indifferent to venue. If it were posted on Climate Progress, fine. I thought the debaters would be more amenable to Real Climate because of the scientific credibility of the monitors. In any case, we need the challenges to these somewhat different assertions about where we are relative to reversibility. I’m tired of reading these papers and hearing these videos where assertions go unchallenged.

    Comment by Superman1 — 28 Dec 2012 @ 9:25 AM

  319. Jim Larsen #317,

    “I assume the timing for such an experiment would be to coincide with a big world surplus of food. Lots of safeguards and conditions ensuring any damage is minimal. Truly, can you imagine it not being so?”

    I can only go by what the AMEG proposers state in their Strategic Plan: “The situation is so urgent that, unless appropriate action is taken within a few months, the window of opportunity will be lost.” That has little to do with the forerunner research, development, and testing that I’m used to before deploying such a complex system.

    The Plan states further: “The target should be to prevent a new record low of sea ice extent next year (2013). This involves providing sufficient cooling power into the Arctic to offset the warming which has built up as the sea ice has retreated.” Basically, they want to cool the Arctic. Given the heat influx laterally from both the warm atmosphere and ocean, which no doubt accelerated the melting the past few years, large regions would have to be cooled. The scale of the solution has to match the scale of the problem!

    I don’t view this as a small perturbation. Where are the models that can handle the very small physical points of injection and allow regional compatibility with global compatibility? I would suspect such models would take years to develop before they were tested and passed for reliability. The proposers want to deploy the system in months! This makes a Hail Mary pass look conservative!

    However, this proposal does give us an opportunity to do something constructive, rather than assemble another circular firing squad. One way to generate potential innovation is to start with some concept, identify the good and bad features, eliminate the bad ones, then build on the good ones. If enough people contribute to this process, sometimes really good ideas can result. We have a proposal on the table from AMEG; what are the positive and negative features? What needs to be eliminated; what needs to be added? Prokaryotes started to do this in #307. How can we expand this further?

    Comment by Superman1 — 28 Dec 2012 @ 12:35 PM

  320. Supe…1

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Dec 2012 @ 1:20 PM

  321. 318 Superman1,

    Cool. Perhaps you’d enjoy the RealClimate discussion on ClimateDialogue’s first debate, which was on arctic sea ice and included Walt Meier, Judith Curry, and Ron Lindsay. It’s an interesting discussion with lots of good thoughts and ideas on how ClimateDialogue might fine-tune their process.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Dec 2012 @ 2:05 PM

  322. 319 Superman1 said, “I can only go by what the AMEG proposers state in their Strategic Plan: “The situation is so urgent that, unless appropriate action is taken within a few months, the window of opportunity will be lost.” ”

    We know that arctic ice recovers easily when conditions are appropriate. Sea ice has no tipping point and little memory. Sea ice’s “window of opportunity” could be as wide as when winter sea ice still forms. That’s a mighty wide window.

    We also know permafrost and clathrates are well-protected. Like an adobe house which stays cool through a hot day, it takes a long time for a pulse of warmth to reach permafrost. 2013’s heat will be clathrate-felt decades from now as a tiny blip it almost notices.

    It’s a tipping point, but the time scale is geologic. Plus, buried ice melts at different rates at different depths and surface conditions. Add in chimneys et al and the signal is blurred like crazy, like a zillion little carbon valves each doing its own thing.

    From our viewpoint, it’s a long slow slide that gets ever steeper. The further along you get, the more extreme GE you’d have to do if you want to restore a semblance of initial conditions. This is especially true since whatever you do will be delayed in action. GE can restore sea ice quickly, but there’s absolutely nothing we can do about the delayed heat we’ve sent down towards the buried ice.

    So what if we miss the deadline and the plan slips a year? I didn’t read the proposal and would guess the principals don’t paint the ramifications as bleak as you seem to propose – that the fate of the world hangs on what we do in the next few months. Hmm, care to buy my slightly used Mayan calendar?

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Dec 2012 @ 7:01 PM

  323. Jim Larsen #321/Hank Roberts #320,

    Thank you for pointing me towards Climate Dialogue. When I saw Bart’s name, I remembered the thread about his venture. In fact, I had a couple of comments on that thread.

    I have read the official remarks of the three invited presenters, and some of their responses to public comments. I suspect my views on what you call an ‘interesting discussion’ differ from yours.

    There are three metrics of interest in evaluating the Climate Dialogue discussion: choice of topic; selection of presenters/discussants; motives of monitors/sponsors. The central issue/topic of interest has three major components: does global warming/climate change exist; if so, what fraction is attributable to anthropogenic forcing; what can we expect if present trends continue. Why did the flagship discussion not address this central problem? Arctic ice cap loss is a potential symptom of climate change. There are many other symptoms that could have been selected, such as Greenland ice loss, Antarctic ice loss, floods/storms in Europe, droughts in SW, two hurricanes in NY in two years, etc? But, why would one select a symptom, rather than the problem and its causes?

    In the medical world, a disease is characterized by many symptoms. One would not think of focusing on a specific symptom in analyzing a disease. Rather, one focuses on a ‘signature’ of symptoms to characterize a disease, that unique weighted pattern of symptoms reflective of the disease. One tracks the ‘signature’, not merely any specific symptom.

    Climate change is characterized by the increased frequency and magnitude of what were once considered ‘extreme’ events. We have had hurricanes stronger than Sandy hit the NY/NJ area. Sandy was a Cat 1; I remember a hurricane in 1944 that demolished Heinz’s Pier in Atlantic City. We have had droughts in the SouthWest before; the dustbowl in the 30s. We have had extreme heat waves before. What makes these events unique to climate change is their increasing frequency and magnitude. Once in a century storms are occurring once on a decade or sooner. That should have been the focus of the flagship issue, but instead, a symptom, with its higher variability, was chosen for the focus.

    All the presenters were funded by the USA government. If they had been funded by e.g. the Koch Bros., there would have been a hue and cry about selective bias. Why; because grantees/contractors/employees tend to promote the views with which their sponsors are comfortable. And, the somewhat similar conclusions the presenters reached were those with which the climate change action-free USA government would be very comfortable. ‘Yes, there might be a problem, but we have time, and we really need more research.’ For any credibility, there should have been two, or preferably three, different funding sources, including one or more McPherson types with no external funding.

    Finally, the motives of the monitors. They were selected by the Dutch government to perform a task. I know very well how the USA government selects such people to head panels or workshops: good scientists, but sufficiently reliable to produce the results that protect the government. I doubt the Dutch government uses different criteria. And, it worked. The result would put a gleam in the eye of any government that wanted to justify its inactivity on climate change, and delay its actions far into the future.

    Comment by Superman1 — 28 Dec 2012 @ 7:02 PM

  324. Sidd @315

    Regarding Hansen & Sato’s note (link in @314 above): The fitting of exponential curves against the recent data of ice sheet mass loss found in Sheperd et al (2012) is a simplistic approach, and perhaps not sufficiently justified. However, they also suggest some arguments for non-linear mechanisms that could come into play (these are found in the Appendix of the note, which is an excerpt from Hansen & Sato 2012).

    Hansen & Sato provides at least five arguments in favour of exponential ice sheet loss:

    1. BAU scenarios have a “climate forcing that is increasing at a rate dwarfing any known natural forcing”. (p. 4)

    One implication being that historical maximum glacier speeds during recent times (e.g. the methodology used by Pfeffer et al 2008) are not necessarily indicative for the maximum speeds at the end of the century. Sounds plausible to me.

    2. “As warming increases, the number of ice streams contributing to mass loss will increase, contributing to a nonlinear response that should be approximated better by an exponential than by a linear fit.” (p. 4)

    It seems plausible that more ice streams in the great ice sheets will be activated in a warming climate, and the contribution will therefore be more than linear.

    3. “Some Greenland ice stream outlets are in valleys with bedrock below sea level. As the terminus of an ice stream retreats inland, glacier sidewalls can collapse, creating a wider pathway for disgorging ice.” (p. 4)

    This also sounds plausible. For example, the Jakobshavn Isbrae has a deep trough more than 1000 meter below sea level stretching more than 60 km into the ice sheet, the Pine Island Glacier has a trough more than 250 km (Thomas et al 2011). I have not seen any modelling that takes into account the effect that Hansen & Sato describes. Perhaps someone can point me to such studies?

    4. In Antarctica, “large portions of the ice sheet are buttressed by ice shelves that are unlikely to survive BAU climate scenarios” (p. 5).

    The removal of ice shelve buttressing gives a highly non-linear acceleration. For example, the recent acceleration of the Pine Island Glacier looks exponential (see Figure 2 (d) in Thomas et al 2011), and the modelled acceleration after an ice-shelf breakup is even greater (see Figure 4 in Thomas et al).

    5. Most of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and large part of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet are grounded below sea level (corresponding to about 20-25 meter of SLR), making it vulnerable to rapid collapses.

    These are four strong arguments, at least prima facie, for assuming a supra-linear contribution from the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Will it be exponential during the course of the 21th century and with what exponent? This is hard to say, but Hansen & Sato’s arguments at least provide reasons to seriously investigate the possibility of greater than linear acceleration of SLR.

    This is in stark contrast with the prevailing approaches to SLR projections, which seems to be based mainly on linear assumptions.

    For example, the IPCC AR4 calculations of ice-sheet dynamics, which Alley et al (2008) calls “back-of-the-envelope approaches” are based on the assumption that if “ice-flow ‘contribution were to grow linearly with global average temperature change’, an additional 0.1-0.2 m of sea-level rise would result” (p. 1061).

    Another example is Rignot et al (2011), which gives yet another linear extrapolation and finds that “At the current rate of acceleration in ice sheet loss, starting at 500 Gt/yr in 2008 and increasing at 36.5 Gt/yr2, the contribution of ice sheets alone scales up to 56 cm by 2100.”

    If anything, I am sceptical of the dominant linear extrapolations of ice sheet dynamics, which may perhaps be due to “scientific reticence” (Hansen 2007) or “Erring on the side of least drama” (Brysse et al 2012)…

    (List of not obvious) References:

    Alley, R. B., Fahnestock, M. & Joughin, I. (2008). Supporting Online Material for Climate change. Understanding glacier flow in changing times. Science, 322(5904), 1061–2. doi:10.1126/science.1166366

    Brysse, K., Oreskes, N., O’Reilly, J., & Oppenheimer, M. (2012). Climate change prediction: Erring on the side of least drama? Global Environmental Change. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.10.008

    Hansen, J. E. (2007). Scientific reticence and sea level rise. Environmental Research Letters, 2(2), 024002. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/2/2/024002

    Rignot, E., Velicogna, I., Van den Broeke, M. R., Monaghan, a., & Lenaerts, J. (2011). Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise. Geophysical Research Letters, 38(5), 1–5. doi:10.1029/2011GL046583

    Thomas, R., Frederick, E., Krabill, W., Manizade, S., & Martin, C. (2009). Recent changes on Greenland outlet glaciers. Journal of Glaciology, 55(189), 16.

    Comment by perwis — 28 Dec 2012 @ 7:05 PM

  325. This is the dawning of the Age of Arrhenius.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Dec 2012 @ 7:19 PM

  326. Perwis @324

    In addition to the non-linear factors you mention, isn’t it also true that the flow viscosity of glacial ice would decrease with rising temperature in the ice? Or is this small enough to be neglected?

    Comment by John Pollack — 28 Dec 2012 @ 9:18 PM

  327. Re Jim Larsen: Sea ice does and can bounce back if it’s only due to favourable weather conditions on the surface but what about the melting from below? When the surface waters are consistantly at 0C or higher how can ice form? That to me that constitutes a tipping point. Even during the arctic winter the warm currents from the south are mixing with the cold.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 28 Dec 2012 @ 9:46 PM

  328. Superman: I’m getting a little bored with Jim Hansen’s famous dice analogy which he drags out every interview but it does plainly illustrate the change in climate over the past 40-60 years. Before- post CC the dice had one side blue (below average temp) one side red (above ave. temp) and 4 sides white (usual temps). Now in 2012 it’s 4.5 sides red, 1 side white and 0.5 sides blue..(these are taken from global climatic events) quite a change in 40 years! You should see the bell’s unrecognisable.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 28 Dec 2012 @ 9:56 PM

  329. Re, perwis: “Some Greenland ice stream outlets are in valleys with bedrock below sea level. As the terminus of an ice stream retreats inland, glacier sidewalls can collapse, creating a wider pathway for disgorging ice.”

    I find this interesting in regards to ice flow…
    Flow of Ice Across Antarctica

    Comment by prokaryotes — 28 Dec 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  330. Mr. perwis: There seems to be some confusion here.

    1)By exponential i mean the sea level height h=h0*exp(t/tau) where tau is the time constant. Hansen exhibits two exponential projections with 5 and 10 yr doubling time. (tau is simply related to the doubling time). These are not better fits than the linear fit as Hansen himself says.
    2)by supralinear i mean any polynomial increase above first order:
    h=h(i)*t^i, summed over i, where at least one h(i) is nonzero for i>1
    3)I see no current data supporting exponential rise in sea level contribution from GRIS, or WAIS. I do see data supporting supralinear rise.
    4)Hansen himself warns that exponential rise in sea level contribution cannot persist, will be self limiting.
    5)The reasons 1)-4) you mention all plausibly support supralinear rise. But a calculation must be done explicitly including these effects. Curve fitting is of no avail without physics. So I think Gregoire is a much better treatment than this GRIS projection from Hansen.In short, put in the ice dynamics like Gregoire and the climate models like Tedesco, shut up and calculate. Hansen is not lacking in wits or resource. He can do much better than curve fitting, that’s why I find his note disappointing.
    6)(personal opinion) I am beginning to think, in light of the Tedesco treatment, that SMB will be as large a contribution to GRIS mass waste as calving and submarine melt. And of course it might rain on GRIS. But in the case of WAIS, not so. For example PIG is 40 Km wide compared to JI at 4Km and Thwaites is wider, the submarine exposure to warm ocean is an order of magnitude larger, and air temperature increase is is not nearly as large as on GRIS. So WAIS will melt from below.

    Comment by sidd — 28 Dec 2012 @ 10:35 PM

  331. On the first day of Christmas (I meant to have this done a few days ago) my search engine gave to me

    Atmospheric circulation and climate change, focus on Earth, AGW, extratropical storm tracks and extratropics in general, but with exceptions

    I. mostly Science articles directly addressing such matters
    II. background info and resources
    -A. textbooks and websites, general, including some Earth/Planetary system stuff (for comparison)
    -B. some more atmospheric/oceanic dynamics textbooks and websites
    -C. a series of mostly peer-reviewed articles, and a few websites, roughly organized by topic (PS ‘THM93’ and the ‘CPRW'(1-4,maybe 5) papers will not be elaborated on much here; they will get more attention in part III)
    III. my own attempt at a brief introduction that will help in understanding the above (I will take a break after I and II before getting to this).

    In quotes, unless stated otherwise, emphasis is mine.

    Most of these (in I. and II.) I have only skimmed or read the abstract and/or looked at the graphs (so don’t assume that a lack of tag or (signalling that climate change is addressed somewhere somehow) means I wouldn’t have recommended it or … etc. – also, I had a particular set of interests (extratropical storm tracks, wave propagation, synoptic and planetary scale dynamics) and goals (articles that can be used to introduce oneself to a topic, and/or that provide mechanistic explanations) and choices to ‘recommended’ reflect that. Also I probably haven’t been consistent in applying it so take it with a grain of salt – for example, in part I). I will probably never read through it all, but I have read through some and plan to read through some more. But I wanted to get this list together and post it sooner rather than later or never.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Dec 2012 @ 12:44 AM

  332. Here’s part I:…

    especially recommended (also apply to a few at the beginning where I didn’t specifically say so?)

    Especially recommended!
    climate change – and background information
    Allison Wing, 12/11/09: Extratropical Storm Tracks.
    (climate change pp. 9-10, 11-12, and starting again (I think) on p.14;
    p.12: “O’Gorman and Schneider (2008) found that the eddy kinetic energy scales linearly with the mean available potential energy and that the mean available potential energy depended on the vertically integrated meridional temperature gradient. McCabe et al. (2001) and Yin (2005) also noted that the higher tropopause would mean a deeper baroclinic zone and that some system could utilize this increased supply of available potential energy aloft.” – just one of the points brought up.
    also, p.12: increased H2O vapor leads to increased latent heat release, which may make extratropical storms stronger, but increased H2O vapor can/could increase horizontal latent heat flux, making storms more effective in poleward heat transport, tending to decrease number and/or strength/size? (“smaller“) of eddies.)

    Bengtsson, Lennart, Kevin I. Hodges, Erich Roeckner, 2006: Storm Tracks and Climate Change. Journal of Climate, 19, 3518-3543.
    (from the abstract: “The statistical distribution of storm intensities is virtually preserved under climate change using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B scenario until the end of this century.“; did not find more intense storms (tropical or extratropical); find a “minor reduction” in the number of weaker storms; significant regional changes; poleward shift, more clearly in Southern Hemisphere – Southern Hemisphere storm track shifts “associated with zonal SST gradient” changes “in particular” the Southern Hemisphere.)
    (nice maps)

    Bengtsson, Lennart, Kevin I. Hodges, Noel Keenlyside, 2009: Will Extratropical Storms Intensify in a Warmer Climate? Journal of Climate, 22, 2276-2301.
    (end of abstract:

    For the twenty-first century, changes in the distribution of storms are very similar to those of previous study. There is a small reduction in the number of cyclones but no significant changes in the extremes of wind and vorticity in both hemispheres. There are larger regional changes in agreement with previous studies.

    The largest changes are in the total precipitation, where a significant increase is seen. Cumulative precipitation along the tracks of the cyclones increases by some 11% per track, or about twice the increase in global precipitation, while the extreme precipitation is close to the globally averaged increase in column water vapor (some 27%). Regionally, changes in extreme precipitation are even higher because of changes in the storm tracks.

    interesting figures!)

    Paul A. O’Gorman, 2010: Understanding the varied response of the extratropical storm tracks to climate change. PNAS 2010 ; published ahead of print October 25, 2010, doi:10.1073/pnas.1011547107
    (part of abstract:

    I show that the southern storm track intensifies in the multimodel mean of simulations of 21st century climate change, and that the seasonal cycle of storm-track intensity increases in amplitude in both hemispheres. I use observations of the present day seasonal cycle to confirm the relationship between storm-track intensity and the mean available potential energy of the atmosphere, and show how this quantitative relationship can be used to account for much of the varied response in storm-track intensity to global warming, including substantially different responses in simulations with different climate models. The results suggest that storm-track intensity is not related in a simple way to global-mean surface temperature, so that, for example, a stronger southern storm track in response to present-day global warming does not imply it was also stronger in hothouse climates of the past.



    Francis, J. A. and S. J. Vavrus (2012), Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000.
    (was discussed here previously (16, 69-70, 75, see also 20 and 208-212 @ )

    I’ve seen (the links for) a couple of related youtube videos in comments at RC before; I’m not sure if these are the exact same ones:

    16:04 Does Arctic Amplification Fuel Extreme Weather in Mid-Latitudes?

    1:24:25 Weather and Climate Summit – Day 5, Jennifer Francis

    especially recommended (the next several)

    Rivière, Gwendal, 2011: A Dynamical Interpretation of the Poleward Shift of the Jet Streams in Global Warming Scenarios. J. Atmos. Sci., 68, 1253–1272.

    The role played by enhanced upper-tropospheric baroclinicity in the poleward shift of the jet streams in global warming scenarios is investigated. Major differences between the twentieth- and twenty-first-century simulations are first detailed using two coupled climate model outputs. There is a poleward shift of the eddy-driven jets, an increase in intensity and poleward shift of the storm tracks, a strengthening of the upper-tropospheric baroclinicity, and an increase in the eddy length scale. These properties are more obvious in the Southern Hemisphere. A strengthening of the poleward eddy momentum fluxes and a relative decrease in frequency of cyclonic wave breaking compared to anticyclonic wave breaking events is also observed.

    Then, baroclinic instability in the three-level quasigeostrophic model is studied analytically and offers a simple explanation for the increased eddy spatial scale. It is shown that if the potential vorticity gradient changes its sign below the midlevel (i.e., if the critical level is located in the lower troposphere as in the real atmosphere), long and short wavelengths become respectively more and less unstable when the upper-tropospheric baroclinicity is increased.

    Finally, a simple dry atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) is used to confirm the key role played by the upper-level baroclinicity by employing a normal-mode approach and long-term simulations forced by a temperature relaxation. The eddy length scale is shown to largely determine the nature of the breaking: long (short) wavelengths break more anticyclonically (cyclonically). When the upper-tropospheric baroclinicity is reinforced, long wavelengths become more unstable, break more strongly anticyclonically, and push the jet more poleward. Short wavelengths being less unstable, they are less efficient in pushing the jet equatorward. This provides an interpretation for the increased poleward eddy momentum fluxes and thus the poleward shift of the eddy-driven jets.


    Barnes, E.A., and D.L. Hartmann, 2011: Rossby Wave Scales, propagation and the variability of eddy-driven jets, J. Atmos. Sci. , 68, 2893-2908.

    The eddy-driven jet is located in the midlatitudes, bounded on one side by the pole and often bounded on the opposite side by a strong Hadley-driven jet. This work explores how the eddy-driven jet and its variability persist within these limits. It is demonstrated in a barotropic model that as the jet is located at higher latitudes, the eddy length scale increases as predicted by sphericalRossbywave theory, and the leadingmode of variability of the jet changes from a meridional shift to a pulse. Looking equatorward, a similar change in eddy-driven jet variability is observedwhen it ismoved equatorward toward a constant subtropical jet. In both the poleward and equatorward limits, the change in variability froma shift to a pulse is due to themodulation of eddy propagation and momentum flux. Near the pole, the small value of beta (the meridional gradient of absolute vorticity) and subsequent lack of wave breaking near the pole account for the change in variability, whereas on the equatorward side of the jet the strong subtropical winds can affect eddy propagation and restrict the movement of the eddy-driven jet or cause bimodal behavior of the jet latitude. Barotropic quasilinear theory thus suggests that the leading mode of zonal-wind variability will transition from a shift to a pulse as the eddy-driven jets move poleward with climate change, and that the eddy length scale will increase as the jet moves poleward.

    see also? Barnes Hartmann 2012 The Global Distribution of Atmospheric Eddy Length Scales
    related?? – Fyfe Lorenz 2005 Characterizing Midlatitude Jet Variability: Lessons from a Simple GCM)

    Barnes, E.A., and D.L. Hartmann, 2012: The Global Distribution of Atmospheric Eddy Length Scales. Journal of Climate, 25, 3409-3416.
    DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00331.1
    (in press version:
    Barnes, E.A., and D.L. Hartmann, 2012: The Global Distribution of Atmospheric Eddy Length Scales. J. Atmos. Sci. , , in press. )
    immediately after abstract:

    Eddies play an important role in defining the largescale circulation, and their scale predominantly determines their propagation and dissipation (Hoskins et al. 1983). Kidston et al. (2010) demonstrated that the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3) general circulation models (Meehl et al. 2007) exhibit a robust increase in zonal eddy length scale in future climates, and they suggest that this increase contributes to the predicted poleward migration of the midlatitude jets with increased greenhouse gases. Barnes and Hartmann (2011) present an alternative possibility, demonstrating that a poleward shift of the midlatitude jet can cause an increase in eddy size in a barotropic model, consistent with spherical Rossby wave theory.

    Understanding eddy scales is clearly important to understanding future atmospheric circulation changes and pinpointing cause and effect. …


    Barnes, E.A., D.L. Hartmann, D.M.W. Frierson, and J. Kidston, 2010: The effect of latitude on the persistence of eddy-driven jets. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L11804, doi.10.1029/2010GL043199.

    An asymmetry in the persistence of the eddy‐driven jet is demonstrated, whereby the equatorward‐shifted (low‐phase) jet is more persistent than the poleward‐shifted (high‐phase) jet. The asymmetry is investigated by stirring the nondivergent vorticity equation on the sphere and is shown to arise due to the sphericity of the earth, which inhibits poleward wave breaking when the jet is at high latitudes. This spherical effect becomes increasingly important as the mean jet is positioned at higher latitudes. The persistence of the annular mode decreases as the mean jet moves closer to the pole due to the decreased persistence of the high‐phase state, while the low‐phase state exhibits similar persistence regardless of the jet position. These results suggest that with the expected poleward shift of the jet due to increasing greenhouse gases, the annular mode’s total persistence will decrease due to a decrease in the persistence of the high‐phase.

    (see eq. 3 p.3/5)

    Barnes, E.A., and D.L. Hartmann, 2010: Testing a theory for the effect of latitude on the persistence of eddy-driven jets using CMIP3 simulations. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L15801, doi:10.1029/2010GL044144.
    (focusing on Southern Hemisphere; from abstract: Earth’s sphericity inhibits wave breaking on poleward side of jet, decreasing wave-mean flow feedback, widens the jet and makes the jet less “self-sustaining”; SAM is less persistent when jet is shifted poleward, and models with jets at too-low latitudes may exaggerate poleward shift in response to global warming.)

    Barnes, E. A. and D. L. Hartmann (2012), Detection of Rossby wave breaking and its response to shifts of the midlatitude jet with climate change, J. Geophys. Res., 117, D09117, doi:10.1029/2012JD017469.
    (in press form: )
    (changes in anticyclonic and cyclonic wavebreaking associated with climate change and poleward jet shift in the Southern Hemisphere:

    A Rossby wave breaking identification method is presented which searches for overturning of absolute vorticity contours on pressure surfaces. The results are compared to those from an analysis of isentropic potential vorticity, and it is demonstrated that both yield similar wave breaking distributions. As absolute vorticity is easily obtained from most model output, we present wave breaking frequency distributions from the ERA-Interim data set, thirteen general circulation models (GCMs) and a barotropic model. We demonstrate that a poleward shift of the Southern Hemisphere midlatitude jet is accompanied by a decrease in poleward wave breaking in both the barotropic model and all GCMs across multiple climate forcing scenarios. In addition, it is shown that while anticyclonic wave breaking shifts poleward with the jet, cyclonic wave breaking shifts less than half as much and reaches a poleward limit near 60 degrees S. Comparison of the observed distribution of Southern Hemisphere wave breaking with those from the GCMs suggests that wave breaking on the poleward flank of the jet has already reached its poleward limit and will likely become less frequent if the jet migrates any further poleward with climate change.

    offhand, I don’t know if the cyclonic and anticyclonic wave breaking events mentioned are generally poleward or if there are any equatorward breaking events as well…)


    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Dec 2012 @ 12:45 AM

  333. ***
    Zelinka, M.D. and D.L. Hartmann, 2012: Climate Feedbacks and their Implications for Poleward Energy Flux Changes in a Warming Climate, J. Climate , 25, 608-624.

    Feedbacks determine the efficiency with which the climate system comes back into equilibrium in response to a radiative perturbation. Although feedbacks are integrated quantities, the processes from which they arise have rich spatial structures that alter the distribution of top of atmosphere (TOA) net radiation. Here, the authors investigate the implications of the structure of climate feedbacks for the change in poleward energy transport as the planet warms over the twenty-first century in a suite of GCMs. Using radiative kernels that describe the TOA radiative response to small perturbations in temperature, water vapor, and surface albedo, the change in poleward energy flux is partitioned into the individual feedbacks that cause it.

    This study finds that latitudinal gradients in the sum of climate feedbacks reinforce the preexisting latitudinal gradient in TOA net radiation, requiring that the climate system transport more energy to the poles on a warming planet. This is primarily due to structure of the water vapor and cloud feedbacks, which are strongly positive at low latitudes and decrease dramatically with increasing latitude. Using the change in surface fluxes, the authors partition the anomalous poleward energy flux between the atmosphere and ocean and find that reduced heat flux from the high-latitude ocean further amplifies the equator-to-pole gradient in atmospheric energy loss. This implied reduction in oceanic poleward energy flux requires the atmosphere to increase its share of the total poleward energy transport. As is the case for climate sensitivity, the largest source of intermodel spread in the change in poleward energy transport can be attributed to the shortwave cloud feedback.

    (see also (both below in the H2O section):
    Muller and O’Gorman 2011
    Held and Soden 2006 )

    especially recommended
    Graff, Lise Seland, J. H. LaCasce, 2012: Changes in the Extratropical Storm Tracks in Response to Changes in SST in an AGCM. J. Climate, 25, 1854–1870.

    A poleward shift in the extratropical storm tracks has been identified in observational and climate simulations. The authors examine the role of altered sea surface temperatures (SSTs) on the storm-track position and intensity in an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) using realistic lower boundary conditions.

    A set of experiments was conducted in which the SSTs where changed by 2 K in specified latitude bands. The primary profile was inspired by the observed trend in ocean temperatures, with the largest warming occurring at low latitudes. The response to several other heating patterns was also investigated, to examine the effect of imposed gradients and low- versus high-latitude heating. The focus is on the Northern Hemisphere (NH) winter, averaged over a 20-yr period.

    Results show that the storm tracks respond to changes in both the mean SST and SST gradients, consistent with previous studies employing aquaplanet (water only) boundary conditions. Increasing the mean SST strengthens the Hadley circulation and the subtropical jets, causing the storm tracks to intensify and shift poleward. Increasing the SST gradient at midlatitudes similarly causes an intensification and a poleward shift of the storm tracks. Increasing the gradient in the tropics, on the other hand, causes the Hadley cells to contract and the storm tracks to shift equatorward. Consistent shifts are seen in the mean zonal velocity, the atmospheric baroclinicity, the eddy heat and momentum fluxes, and the atmospheric meridional overturning circulation. The results support the idea that oceanic heating could be a contributing factor to the observed shift in the storm tracks.


    especially recommended (includes STRATOSPHERE)
    Butler, Amy H., David W. J. Thompson, Ross Heikes, 2010: The Steady-State Atmospheric Circulation Response to Climate Change–like Thermal Forcings in a Simple General Circulation Model. J. Climate, 23, 3474–3496.
    tropical troposphere warming: poleward shift in extratropical storm tracks; weaker stratospheric Brewer-Dobson circulation (opposite to what happens in most climate change experiments)
    polar stratospheric cooling: poleward shift in extratropical storm stracks – “very” sensitive to forcing’s “level and depth”; stratospheric Brewer-Dobson circulation weakens in midlatitudes, strengthens at high latitudes “because of anomalously poleward heat fluxes on the flank of the polar vortex.
    polar surface warming: equatorward shift in extratropical storm tracks
    responses to forcings in general: some differences between equinox and winter, nonlinear responses (sum of responses to individual forcings not equal to response to all forcings together)

    (my speculation following abstract only: so maybe we have poleward shift, followed by equatorward shift when most arctic ice loss occurs (in ~winter +/-), followed by continuing poleward shift?)

    especially recommended
    Butler, Amy H., David W. J. Thompson, Thomas Birner, 2011: Isentropic Slopes, Downgradient Eddy Fluxes, and the Extratropical Atmospheric Circulation Response to Tropical Tropospheric Heating. J. Atmos. Sci., 68, 2292–2305.
    (tropical tropospheric latent heating, eddy fluxes of PV, heat (which is like PV at the surface))
    (see also Schneider 2006 because of isentropic slopes?)



    especially recommended
    Simpson, Isla R., Michael Blackburn, Joanna D. Haigh, 2009: The Role of Eddies in Driving the Tropospheric Response to Stratospheric Heating Perturbations. J. Atmos. Sci., 66, 1347–1365.
    (compares different distributions of stratospheric heating, including one that is implied (in the abstract; haven’t read it through) to correspond to solar effects)
    (interesting graphs; jet and storm track shifts, index of refraction (see p. 1356, equation 4))

    A simplified general circulation model has been used to investigate the chain of causality whereby changes in tropospheric circulation and temperature are produced in response to stratospheric heating perturbations. Spinup ensemble experiments have been performed to examine the evolution of the tropospheric circulation in response to such perturbations.

    The primary aim of these experiments is to investigate the possible mechanisms whereby a tropospheric response to changing solar activity over the 11-yr solar cycle could be produced in response to heating of the equatorial lower stratosphere. This study therefore focuses on a stratospheric heating perturbation in which the heating is largest in the tropics. For comparison, experiments are also performed in which the stratosphere is heated uniformly at all latitudes and in which it is heated preferentially in the polar region. Thus, the mechanisms discussed have a wider relevance for the impact of stratospheric perturbations on the troposphere.

    The results demonstrate the importance of changing eddy momentum fluxes in driving the tropospheric response. This is confirmed by the lack of a similar response in a zonally symmetric model with fixed eddy forcing. Furthermore, it is apparent that feedback between the tropospheric eddy fluxes and tropospheric circulation changes is required to produce the full model response. The quasigeostrophic index of refraction is used to diagnose the cause of the changes in eddy behavior. It is demonstrated that the latitudinal extent of stratospheric heating is important in determining the direction of displacement of the tropospheric jet and storm track.

    especially recommended
    Simpson, Isla R., Michael Blackburn, Joanna D. Haigh, 2012: A Mechanism for the Effect of Tropospheric Jet Structure on the Annular Mode–Like Response to Stratospheric Forcing. J. Atmos. Sci., 69, 2152–2170.
    (refraction, critical line, momentum flux, equatorial stratospheric heating, effects of eddy phase speeds)
    see also
    Barnes, E.A., D.L. Hartmann, D.M.W. Frierson, and J. Kidston, 2010, and
    Barnes, E.A., and D.L. Hartmann, 2010

    For many climate forcings the dominant response of the extratropical circulation is a latitudinal shift of the tropospheric midlatitude jets. The magnitude of this response appears to depend on climatological jet latitude in general circulation models (GCMs): lower-latitude jets exhibit a larger shift.

    The reason for this latitude dependence is investigated for a particular forcing, heating of the equatorial stratosphere, which shifts the jet poleward. Spinup ensembles with a simplified GCM are used to examine the evolution of the response for five different jet structures. These differ in the latitude of the eddy-driven jet but have similar subtropical zonal winds. It is found that lower-latitude jets exhibit a larger response due to stronger tropospheric eddy–mean flow feedbacks.

    A dominant feedback responsible for enhancing the poleward shift is an enhanced equatorward refraction of the eddies, resulting in an increased momentum flux, poleward of the low-latitude critical line. The sensitivity of feedback strength to jet structure is associated with differences in the coherence of this behavior across the spectrum of eddy phase speeds. In the configurations used, the higher-latitude jets have a wider range of critical latitude locations. This reduces the coherence of the momentum flux anomalies associated with different phase speeds, with low phase speeds opposing the effect of high phase speeds. This suggests that, for a given subtropical zonal wind strength, the latitude of the eddy-driven jet affects the feedback through its influence on the width of the region of westerly winds and the range of critical latitudes on the equatorward flank of the jet.

    Haigh, Joanna D., Michael Blackburn, Rebecca Day, 2005: The Response of Tropospheric Circulation to Perturbations in Lower-Stratospheric Temperature. J. Climate, 18, 3672–3685.

    A multiple regression analysis of the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis dataset shows a response to increased solar activity of a weakening and poleward shift of the subtropical jets. This signal is separable from other influences, such as those of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and is very similar to that seen in previous studies using global circulation models (GCMs) of the effects of an increase in solar spectral irradiance. The response to increased stratospheric (volcanic) aerosol is found in the data to be a weakening and equatorward shift of the jets.

    The GCM studies of the solar influence also showed an impact on tropospheric mean meridional circulation with a weakening and expansion of the tropical Hadley cells and a poleward shift of the Ferrel cells. To understand the mechanisms whereby the changes in solar irradiance affect tropospheric winds and circulation, experiments have been carried out with a simplified global circulation model. The results show that generic heating of the lower stratosphere tends to weaken the subtropical jets and the tropospheric mean meridional circulations. The positions of the jets, and the extent of the Hadley cells, respond to the distribution of the stratospheric heating, with low-latitude heating forcing them to move poleward, and high-latitude or latitudinally uniform heating forcing them equatorward. The patterns of response are similar to those that are found to be a result of the solar or volcanic influences, respectively, in the data analysis.

    This demonstrates that perturbations to the heat balance of the lower stratosphere, such as those brought about by solar or volcanic activity, can produce changes in the mean tropospheric circulation, even without any direct forcing below the tropopause.

    especially recommended
    Miller, R. L., G. A. Schmidt, and D. T. Shindell, 2006: Forced annular variations in the 20th century Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report models. J. Geophys. Res., 111, D18101, doi:10.1029/2005JD006323.
    (troposphere-stratosphere coupling, GHG, anthropogenic aerosol, and volcanic forcing, models vs. observations)

    We examine the annular mode within each hemisphere (defined here as the leading empirical orthogonal function and principal component of hemispheric sea level pressure) as simulated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report ensembles of coupled ocean-atmosphere models. The simulated annular patterns exhibit a high spatial correlation with the observed patterns during the late 20th century, though the mode represents too large a percentage of total temporal variability within each hemisphere. In response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and tropospheric sulfate aerosols, the multimodel average exhibits a positive annular trend in both hemispheres, with decreasing sea level pressure (SLP) over the pole and a compensating increase in midlatitudes. In the Northern Hemisphere, the trend agrees in sign but is of smaller amplitude than that observed during recent decades. In the Southern Hemisphere, decreasing stratospheric ozone causes an additional reduction in Antarctic surface pressure during the latter half of the 20th century. While annular trends in the multimodel average are positive, individual model trends vary widely. Not all models predict a decrease in high-latitude SLP, although no model exhibits an increase. As a test of the models’ annular sensitivity, the response to volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere is calculated during the winter following five major tropical eruptions. The observed response exhibits coupling between stratospheric anomalies and annular variations at the surface, similar to the coupling between these levels simulated elsewhere by models in response to increasing GHG concentration. The multimodel average is of the correct sign but significantly smaller in magnitude than the observed annular anomaly. This suggests that the models underestimate the coupling of stratospheric changes to annular variations at the surface and may not simulate the full response to increasing GHGs.

    Hartmann, D. L., J. M. Wallace, V. Limpasuvan, D. W. J. Thompson and J. R. Holton, 2000: Can Ozone Depletion and Global Warming Interact to Produce Rapid Climate Change? Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 97, 1412-1417.

    The atmosphere displays modes of variability whose structures exhibit a strong longitudinally symmetric (annular) component that extends from the surface to the stratosphere in middle and high latitudes of both hemispheres. In the past 30 years, these modes have exhibited trends that seem larger than their natural background variability, and may be related to human influences on stratospheric ozone and/or atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. The pattern of climate trends during the past few decades is marked by rapid cooling and ozone depletion in the polar lower stratosphere of both hemispheres, coupled with an increasing strength of the wintertime westerly polar vortex and a poleward shift of the westerly wind belt at the earth’s surface. Annular modes of variability are fundamentally a result of internal dynamical feedbacks within the climate system, and as such can show a large response to rather modest external forcing. The dynamics and thermodynamics of these modes are such that strong synergistic interactions between stratospheric ozone depletion and greenhouse warming are possible. These interactions may be responsible for the pronounced changes in tropospheric and stratospheric climate observed during the past few decades. If these trends continue, they could have important implications for the climate of the 21st century

    … H2O in the STRATOSPHERE:

    Maycock, Amanda C., Manoj M. Joshi, Keith P. Shine, Adam A. Scaife, : The circulation response to idealized changes in stratospheric water vapor.
    Journal of Climate 2012 ; e-View

    Observations show that stratospheric water vapor (SWV) concentrations increased by ~30% between 1980 and 2000. SWV has also been projected to increase by up to a factor of two over the 21st century. Trends in SWV impact on stratospheric temperatures, which may lead to changes in the stratospheric circulation. Perturbations in temperature and wind in the stratosphere have been shown to influence the extratropical tropospheric circulation. This study investigates the response to a uniform doubling in SWV from 3 to 6 ppmv in a comprehensive stratosphere-resolving atmospheric-GCM. The increase in SWV causes stratospheric cooling with a maximum amplitude of 5-6 K in the polar lower stratosphere and 2-3 K in the tropical lower stratosphere. The zonal wind on the upper flanks of the subtropical jets is more westerly by up to ~5 m s−1. Changes in resolved wave drag in the stratosphere result in an increase in the strength of tropical upwelling associated with the Brewer-Dobson circulation of ~10% throughout the year. In the troposphere, the increase in SWV causes significant meridional dipole changes in the midlatitude zonal-mean zonal wind of up to 2.8 m s−1 at 850 hPa, which are largest in boreal winter in both hemispheres. This suggests a more poleward storm track under uniformly increased stratospheric water vapor. The circulation changes in both the stratosphere and troposphere are almost entirely due to the increase in SWV at pressures greater than 50 hPa. The results show that long-term trends in SWV may impact on stratospheric temperatures and wind, the strength of the Brewer-Dobson circulation and extratropical surface climate.



    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Dec 2012 @ 12:48 AM


    especially recommended
    climate change
    Scaife, Adam A., Thomas Spangehl, David R. Fereday, Ulrich Cubasch, Ulrike Langematz, Hideharu Akiyoshi, Slimane Bekki, Peter Braesicke, Neal Butchart, Martyn P. Chipperfield, Andrew Gettelman, Steven C. Hardiman, Martine Michou, Eugene Rozanov, Theodore G. Shepherd, 2012: Climate change projections and stratosphere–troposphere interaction. Climate Dynamics, 38, 2089-2097.
    DOI 10.1007/s00382-011-1080-7
    (from abstract: many extratropical regions: increases in winter rain, flooding; stratospheric circulation has significant regional effects; changes consistent with stratospheric winds affecting growth rate of baroclinic eddies through depth of troposphere, “A change in mean wind structure and an equatorward shift of the tropospheric storm tracks relative to models with poor stratospheric resolution allows coupling with surface climate. Using the Atlantic storm track as an example, we show how this can double the predicted increase in extreme winter rainfall over Western and Central Europe compared to other current climate projections.“)



    especially recommended
    climate change
    Booth, James F., Shuguang Wang, Lorenzo Polvani, 2012: Midlatitude storms in a moister world: lessons from idealized baroclinic life cycle experiments. Clim Dyn, ?, ?.
    DOI 10.1007/s00382-012-1472-3
    (I’ve only looked at this a little tiny bit, but p. 3/16 indicates cartesian geometry and constant f; I’d be curious what corrections would be found for spherical effects)
    (abstract, emphasis mine:

    The response of midlatitude storms to global warming remains uncertain. This is due, in part, to the competing effects of a weaker meridional surface temperature gradient and a higher low-level moisture content, both of which are projected to occur as a consequence of increasing greenhouse gases. Here we address the latter of these two effects, and try to elucidate the effect of increased moisture on the development and evolution of midlatitude storms. We do this with a set of highly controlled, baroclinic lifecycle experiments, in which atmospheric moisture is progressively increased. To assess the robustness of the results, the moisture content is changed in two different ways: first by using different initial relative humidity, and second by varying a parameter that we insert into the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. The latter method allows us to artificially increase the moisture content above current levels while keeping the relative humidity constant. Irrespective of how moisture is altered, we find that nearly all important measures of storm strength increase as the moisture content rises. Specifically, we examine the storm’s central pressure minimum, the strongest surface winds, and both extreme and accumulated precipitation rates. For all these metrics, increased moisture yields a stronger storm. Interestingly, we also find that when moisture is increased beyond current levels, the resulting storm has a reduced horizontal scale while its vertical extent increases. Finally, we note that for moisture increases comparable to those projected to occur by the end of the twentyfirst century, the actual amplitude of the increases in storm strength is relatively modest, irrespective of the specific measure one uses.

    (the part about vertical vs horizontal extent doesn’t surprise me (not that any of it does))

    Schneider, T., P.A. O’Gorman, and X. J. Levine, 2010: Water vapor and the dynamics of climate changes. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG3001,
    (H2O vapor dynamic effects = latent heating;
    majority of abstract, emphasis mine:

    Contrary to widely held beliefs, atmospheric circulation statistics can change non-monotonically with global-mean surface temperature, in part because of dynamic effects of water vapor. For example, the strengths of the tropical Hadley circulation and of zonally asymmetric tropical circulations, as well as the kinetic energy of extratropical baroclinic eddies, can be lower than they presently are both in much warmer climates and in much colder climates. We discuss how latent heat release is implicated in such circulation changes, particularly through its effect on the atmospheric static stability, and we illustrate the circulation changes through simulations with an idealized general circulation model. This allows us to explore a continuum of climates, constrain macroscopic laws governing this climatic continuum, and place past and possible future climate changes in a broader context.


    Dettinger, Michael
    Atmospheric Rivers
    (slide 13/26 – AR vs PE ?)
    (slide 24 refers to climate change)

    Muller, C. J., P. A. O’Gorman, 2011: An energetic perspective on the regional response of precipitation to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 1, 266-271.
    (most of abstract:

    This energetic perspective reveals that changes in temperature, greenhouse gases, aerosols, solar forcing and cloud feedbacks can all affect the global average rate of precipitation5,7–11. Local precipitation changes have conventionally been analysed using the water vapour budget, but here we show that the energetic approach can be extended to local changes in precipitation by including changes in horizontal energy transport. In simulations of twenty-first century climate change, this energy transport accounts for much of the spatial variability in precipitation change. We show that changes in radiative and surface sensible heat fluxes are a guide to the local precipitation response over land and at large scales, but not at small scales over the ocean, where cloud and water vapour radiative feedbacks dampen the response. The energetic approach described here helps bridge the gap between our understanding of global and regional precipitation changes. It could be applied to better understand the response of regional precipitation to different radiative forcings, including geo-engineering schemes, as well as to understand the differences between the fast and slow responses of regional precipitation to such forcings.


    Held, Isaac M., Brian J. Soden, 2006: Robust Responses of the Hydrological Cycle to Global Warming. J. Climate, 19, 5686–5699.
    (H2O water vapor abundance shaped by Clausius-Clayperon relationship, H2O evaporation rate shaped by energy fluxes. One is larger than the other. Consequences for circulation.)
    (it gets easier to summarize if you wait longer after reading it)
    (PS I’d add – unless they address this – it’s been ~ 2 years since I read it, but anyway – with increasing greenhouse (LW) forcing having some effect at the surface (not generally equal to tropopause or TOA levels), the convective energy flux should tend to increase ?. H2O vapor especially adds to that effect over some range of temperatures, until saturation at a temperature higher than present (when net LW surface cooling approaches zero) – provided sufficient RH (presumably low RH just delays the effect?). H2O also absorbs some SW radiation, so beyond that point, H2O would reduce SW heating of the surface and thus reduce convective heat flux from the surface. Cloud LW feedback …? albedo feedback in general, except that associated with atmospheric solar heating, would increase convective heat flux when it is positive. The fraction of convective heat flux that is latent heat tends to increase with temperature, so that would tend to peak after the peak in total convective heat flux. Would there necessarily be a peak if it were solar forcing, or would H2O LW saturation at the surface with increasing H2O SW absorption and … scattering? (clouds aside) … just slow the increase in convective surface cooling? Convection regionally can be larger than otherwise given some regions where convection heats the surface.)

    Shiu, C.-J., S. C. Liu, C. Fu, A. Dai, and Y. Sun (2012), How much do precipitation extremes change in a warming climate?, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2012GL052762, in press.

    Daily data from reanalyses of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) are analyzed to study changes in precipitation intensity with respect to global mean temperature. The results are in good agreement with those derived from the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) data by Liu et al., [2009], providing an independent verification for large changes in the precipitation extremes: about 100% increase for the annual top 10% heavy precipitation and about 20% decrease for the light and moderate precipitation for one degree warming in the global temperature. These changes can substantially increase the risk of floods as well as droughts, thus severely affecting the global ecosystems. Atmospheric models used in the reanalysis mode, with the benefit of observed wind and moisture fields, appear to be capable of realistically simulating the change of precipitation intensity with global temperature. In comparison, coupled climate models are capable of simulating the shape of the change in precipitation intensity, but underestimate the magnitude of the change by about one order of magnitude. The most likely reason of the underestimation is that the typical spatial resolution of climate models is too coarse to resolve atmospheric convection.




    *** (Paleoclimate, high latitude amplification)
    Lee, Sukyoung, Steven Feldstein, David Pollard, Tim White, 2011: Do Planetary Wave Dynamics Contribute to Equable Climates? Journal of Climate, 24, 2391-2404.
    DOI: 10.1175/2011JCLI3825.1

    Viable explanations for equable climates of the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic (from about 145 to 50 million years ago), especially for the above-freezing temperatures detected for high-latitude continental winters, have been a long-standing challenge. In this study, the authors suggest that enhanced and localized tropical convection, associated with a strengthened paleo–warm pool, may contribute toward high-latitude warming through the excitation of poleward-propagating Rossby waves. This warming takes place through the poleward heat flux and an overturning circulation that accompany the Rossby waves. This mechanism is tested with an atmosphere–mixed layer ocean general circulation model (GCM) by imposing idealized localized heating and compensating cooling, a heating structure that mimics the effect of warm-pool convective heating.

    The localized tropical heating is indeed found to contribute to a warming of the Arctic during the winter. Within the range of 0–150 W m-2 for the heating intensity, the average rate for the zonal mean Arctic surface warming is 0.8˚C per (10 W m-2) increase in the heating for the runs with an atmospheric CO2 level of 4 × PAL (Preindustrial Atmospheric Level, 1 PAL = 280 ppmv), the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic values considered for this study. This rate of warming for the Arctic is lower in model runs with 1×PAL CO2, which show an increase of 0.3˚C per (10 W m-2). Further increase of the heating intensity beyond 150 W m-2 produces little change in the Arctic surface air temperature. This saturation behavior is interpreted as being a result of nonlinear wave–wave interaction, which leads to equatorward wave refraction.

    Under the 4 × PAL CO2 level, raising the heating from 120 W m-2 (estimated warm-pool convective heating value for the present-day climate) to 150 and 180 W m -2 (estimated values for the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic) produces a warming of 4˚–8˚C over northern Siberia and the adjacent Arctic Ocean. Relative to the warming caused by a quadrupling of CO2 alone, this temperature increase accounts for about 30% of the warming over this region. The possible influence of warm-pool convective heating on the present-day Arctic is also discussed.


    Sabato, Jude S., 2008: CO2 Condensation in Baroclinic Eddies on Early Mars. J. Atmos. Sci., 65, 1378–1395.
    (cites Fantini 2004)


    Hartmann, D. L. and K. Larson (2002), An important constraint on tropical cloud – climate feedback, Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(20), 1951, doi:10.1029/2002GL015835.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Dec 2012 @ 12:51 AM

  335. Why are so many trees falling? (Seattle weather blogger Cliff Maas)

    “… my hypothesis is that we had a wet, snowy period with consistently cool, but not super cold, temperatures in a range that promoted sticky snow. No major wind events to blow off snow. No pineapple express warming. It all game together in a very unusual way, causing massive snow loading on trees. Another contributor might be the mild temperatures that have left the ground unfrozen and thus less able to hold the trees in place. …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Dec 2012 @ 12:54 AM

  336. Mr. Perwis:

    I should have pointed out that the following projection is supralinear in my terminology, since they include a t^2 term

    “Another example is Rignot et al (2011), which gives yet another linear extrapolation and finds that “At the current rate of acceleration in ice sheet loss, starting at 500 Gt/yr in 2008 and increasing at 36.5 Gt/yr2, the contribution of ice sheets alone scales up to 56 cm by 2100.”

    Mr Patrick 027 writes:

    “Most of these (in I. and II.) I have only skimmed…”
    “I will probably never read through it all, …”

    Sir, you are discourteous. Many decades ago, I sometimes used to receive letters that had a postscript:

    “Dictated, but not read”

    Your post elicits the same response in my mind. If you feel that we should pay attention to your compendium of links, might you be gracious enough to read the articles first ?


    Comment by sidd — 29 Dec 2012 @ 2:41 AM

  337. AMEG: GeoEngineering [GE] with sulfur compounds really turns me off because they oxidize to form sulfuric acid. We have been trying really hard to get H2SO4 out of our air. Other GE: Covering the Arctic ocean with ping pong balls must be some kind of pollution.

    To rephrase my question, is AMEG just another fringe group that belongs in the borehole? I am well aware that RC has pronounced methane hydrates and melting tundra to be minor issues, at least for now. Does AMEG damage the cause by being a fringe group or is there no such thing as bad publicity?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 29 Dec 2012 @ 2:44 AM

  338. Jim Larsen #322,

    “I didn’t read the proposal and would guess the principals don’t paint the ramifications as bleak as you seem to propose – that the fate of the world hangs on what we do in the next few months. Hmm, care to buy my slightly used Mayan calendar?”

    Read the proposal; I basically just quoted from it.

    Comment by Superman1 — 29 Dec 2012 @ 5:41 AM

  339. sidd – “shut up and calculate. Hansen is not lacking in wits or resource. He can do much better than curve fitting, that’s why I find his note disappointing.”

    North Carolina’s senators, however, have tried to stop state-funded researchers from releasing similar reports. The law approved by the senate on 12 June banned scientists in state agencies from using exponential extrapolation to predict sea-level rise, requiring instead that they stick to linear projections based on historical data.

    Apparently Hansen is not alone with this “fitting” or what you call it. And then there are abrupt developments to expect, which suggest extreme developments to come. Then consider his track record on projections. Even with all the really conservative IPCC estimates on 2100 SLR, he was on this and each year the “general consensus” is further coming in line with what Hansen had calculated much earlier.

    Kinematic First-Order Calving Law implies Potential for Abrupt Ice-Shelf Retreat

    And then there is this:
    The researchers estimate that 50 per cent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (1 million km2) and 25 per cent of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (2.5 million km2) overlies preglacial sedimentary basins, containing about 21,000 billion tonnes of organic carbon. Team leader, Professor Wadham said: “This is an immense amount of organic carbon, more than ten times the size of carbon stocks in northern permafrost regions.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 29 Dec 2012 @ 9:59 AM

  340. Edward Greisch #337,

    ” is AMEG just another fringe group that belongs in the borehole?”

    According to the Collins Dictionary, a ‘fringe group’ is defined as ” a group that is on the periphery of a larger organization because its views are more extreme than the majority”. Not necessarily a negative connotation. If the mainstream is going in the wrong direction, it may be a positive connotation.

    Two academics listed in AMEG are Stephen Salter and Peter Wadhams. Salter has a background in wave energy conversion and cloud albedo enhancement, and Wadhams has been making ice measurements in the Arctic for decades. Both appear to be highly credible. They see the collapse of the Arctic as we speak, with the potential for unknown damage. The Strategic Plan comes across to me as an act of desperation by well-meaning people who are seeing no action being taken to contain the damage. The proposal is obviously flawed, as a few posters have already pointed out. Tell me, what other choices do they have to get something done?

    “I am well aware that RC has pronounced methane hydrates and melting tundra to be minor issues”

    On Arctic ice and related issues, I would give higher priority to Wadhams’ views.

    [Response: We have asked for, and not received, any backing for Wadham’s views for an exponential fit to the ice volume. This is the sole ‘evidence’ for his prediction of an ice free summer in 2015, but that is not in any way convincing to most everyone else, and so, yes, this prediction (and the dramatic consequences that are supposed to follow) is ‘fringe’. Sometimes fringes are right, but in science they dominate by the weight of evidence, not authority. – gavin]

    Comment by Superman1 — 29 Dec 2012 @ 10:39 AM

  341. Operation Icebridge, Dec. 2012 — here’s the developing large crack in the ice stream mentioned above:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Dec 2012 @ 1:08 PM

  342. Re 336 sidd – I understand the sentiment, but I read the abstracts I provided, and didn’t ask anyone to read any farther – actually didn’t ask anything at all. I hope to read more; if someone else does too, great, if not, well I certainly understand why. It’s there for those who want it. That was the intent. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Dec 2012 @ 4:12 PM

  343. … oh, I guess you took the word ‘recommendation’ as unconditional and complete, as in ‘you must read this whole thing regardless of your interest’. Well I didn’t mean it that way. Okay, done.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 29 Dec 2012 @ 4:21 PM

  344. 323 Superman1 asked, “why would one select a symptom, rather than the problem and its causes?”

    Ahh, Engineering attempts to engage in Public Relations….

    Cuz the goal is to have the public give a damn. The public is on a 1 hour news cycle, so unless it’s happening RIGHT NOW, it’s, like, whatever.

    Biggest melt ever. Hollywood-style exaggeration but it’s real life reported (or not) in real time.

    Not that it lit the public’s fuse, but I think the topic was spot on perfect for an initial post made at that time.

    The lesson here is clear. If you want to make a political difference, forget PACs. Invest in mass media and leverage your voice.

    Seriously, the analogy for Climate Change is exercise. Ya know you oughta do it. Ya know you’ll be better off. You’ll feel better, more energy, yada yada yada….

    But skipping today won’t hurt, and exercising today will do so little as to be no good (0.2 pounds?? woo.) and won’t be near as much fun as that bag of chips…

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Dec 2012 @ 6:47 PM

  345. 323 Superman1 said, “I suspect my views on what you call an ‘interesting discussion’ differ from yours.”

    Probably. You head straight for the prey. I see around corners.

    S1 asked, ” what fraction is attributable to anthropogenic forcing; what can we expect if present trends continue. Why did the flagship discussion not address this central problem?”

    In the battle for a scrap of desert amongst the descendants of two brothers who worship the same god in slightly different ways (Palestinians and Jews), the actual sitting at a table in the same room – the arrangements, the tiniest detail which might suggest superiority of morals or power had to be addressed. That sort of thing takes decades….

    It was/is a friggin kindergarten stupid family squabble.

    Skeptics VS Warmists. Yep, we’re right. So? We still have to get to the table.

    So a symptom we all can see. Something which God has Revealed (to continue the religious analogy). By finding agreement in something, it sets the tone for finding agreement in larger issues, and it eliminates wiggle room. Things we disagree on are often best left for later. Find another thing we can agree on. Eventually, the mosaic we create with such agreements will lock in the truth for things we could never directly resolve.

    S1 said, “Once in a century storms are occurring once on a decade or sooner. That should have been the focus of the flagship issue, but instead, a symptom, with its higher variability, was chosen for the focus.”

    They’re both symptoms. The drought is more local, which helps PR, but the sea ice is less controversial, which helps agreement. The model for success isn’t Our Side beating The Evil Opposition to death, but building a new consensus with the mindset that EVERYONE at the table is TRULY INTERESTED in finding the REAL truth. (The caveat is that many feel the best place to find the REAL truth is in THEIR beliefs. That’s not immoral. We cherish folks who do works through faith.)

    S1 went into a funding rant….

    dude. Chill.

    The “Alarmist” argument (which I often agree with) wasn’t missing by intent. At least two Alarmists were asked to participate. One never responded. The other accepted, and then backed out due to lack of time.

    324 perwis quoted, ” “As the terminus of an ice stream retreats inland, glacier sidewalls can collapse, creating a wider pathway for disgorging ice.”

    yeah, but adding 5 miles of fjord just makes it HARDER for ice to get from the receded glacier to the ocean. Woo if it’s wide. I know that the ice/water interface can enlarge, but disgorgement has got to be hindered by retreat. (Here’s where I hope somebody fills in what I’m missing)

    327 Lawrence C, I agree completely. I’m no expert and can’t quantify, but as the ocean waters increase in temp, one would have to target colder and colder surface air temperatures to achieve whatever September ice extent is desired. I’m sure that the “instantness” would slow down too. With a warm Arctic Ocean and warm waters flowing in from a warm world, it could take years of induced brutal winters to cool the system back to a semblance of normal.

    338 S1 said, “Read the proposal; I basically just quoted from it.”

    No thanks. I mostly just wanted to know if your stance reflected theirs. If so, your excerpts were plenty.

    342 Patrick,

    Perhaps a better leading synopsis? I got the impression of a ton of stuff tossed in my direction with nary a clue as to why or what. That there was “1000 pages” sitting in front of me might have contributed to my failure. Whether I was typical or not, I briefly pseudo-scanned and got nada.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Dec 2012 @ 8:47 PM


    I am getting “could not open socket” on perhaps 2/3rds of my submissions. It fixes itself without changes. I’m on OS X 10.4.11

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 29 Dec 2012 @ 8:50 PM

  347. Re Jim Larsen @ 346 – had the same problem last night.

    @ 345 – thanks for the feedback. I think I tend to expect that stuff will take up fewer lines than it actually does. Perhaps I was too focussed on getting it posted before one more day passed. I’ve been working on this since I think early November, and actually even earlier than that. Part I was supposed to be about climate change specifically so some of my tags were gratuitous; also, except for the Wing paper, the ‘especially recommended’ should have been dropped; I started out knowing that I wanted to tag some sources with that label but over time I perhaps over or under-used it; it would have been better just to put the citations in bold as an attention-grabber.

    I don’t want to stop anyone from digging in, but I wanted to eventually post a brief intro into some subject matters that would make these articles more understandable. The problem is, there’s a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross on my side before I’m ready to do that, and I just didn’t want to sit on all these articles until I had time to read through them more. At least I’ve got the abstracts under my belt now.

    Also, when I do try to write an ‘intro to planetary fluid dynamics’, I’m going to want to provide citations, and that’s the boring, tedious part (for me), so I figured it might go faster (for me) to post a list of articles first; I could always refer back to those postings at a later time. Having the list put together should help me avoid reading a bunch of stuff and then typing about it having forgotten what came from where.

    As for those articles which I don’t anticipate reading beyond the abstract, I think they still serve a purpose in:

    1 Some are cited by the articles that I will go through, and it’s nice to have the citations and links there already in case I need them.

    2 While one must be careful about taking things out of context, I thought I might use some things as reference material where I’d read the parts that provide what I’m interested in. Case-in-point: Vasavada, Ashwin R., Adam P. Showman, 2005: Jovian atmospheric dynamics: an update after Galileo and Cassini. Rep. Prog. Phys., 68, 1935-1996.
    – I don’t anticipate getting through the whole thing any time soon (because gas giants aren’t the focus), but there were about ten pages in there which provides a nice summary of how eddies can form and drive jets (quasi-/__-geostrophic turbulence, Rhines scale, forcing and dissipation) and a really neat diagram with a page (1967) that gave me a much better understanding of how/why Taylor columns would fit in Earth’s outer core (than I got from Karato – nothing against Karato; great (geology) book) – which I realize is going off on a tangent but why explain PV and then strictly limit yourself to thin-shell stably-stratified fluids?
    – also, there are some websites that provide information which I already know a lot, so I’d just be reading parts of them.

    3 It provides an awareness of the issues to see that their are articles about particular things. I think this can motivate interest in learning about those things from the other sources (those sources which are better for introductory purposes or have a bigger-picture outlook).

    And of course once I had a list put together I wanted to post it.

    PS I wasn’t going to post quoted abstracts for everything in part II; I just figured it made sense to do that for part I (I see I forgot one).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Dec 2012 @ 1:07 AM

  348. Jim Larsen #345,

    “n the battle for a scrap of desert amongst the descendants of two brothers who worship the same god in slightly different ways (Palestinians and Jews), the actual sitting at a table in the same room – the arrangements, the tiniest detail which might suggest superiority of morals or power had to be addressed. That sort of thing takes decades….”

    This is ‘superficiality’ carried to new heights! The above diversions are meant for public consumption only. The central problem is that each side would like to gain control of the full territory. The Israelis would like to cover the West Bank and Gaza Strip with new settlements, and have the Palestinians emigrate to other Arab states. The Palestinians would like to send the Israelis back to Europe (the main group), and turn the whole region into a Palestinian State. Until those fundamental issues change, the superficialities will dominate the news.

    We had the same problem in Korea and Vietnam. The Paris Peace talks in Vietnam, and similar talks in Korea, were delayed, according to the Press, by differences on the shape of the table and who sat where. The central problem was neither side was ready to surrender or negotiate, so they engaged in these superficialities.

    In climate change, we have a similar problem, but with an added dimension. Rather than recognize the inherent addictive nature of the problem, we focus, as you did repeatedly, on the need for public information and political action. If the problem were lack of information, then the solution would be dissemination of information. But, if the problem is addiction to intensive use of cheap fossil fuel energy, then the solution is not merely provision of information, but addressing the addiction head-on. But, it’s so much more convenient to blame the cartels than the addicts.

    Comment by Superman1 — 30 Dec 2012 @ 6:32 AM

  349. MODERATOR: I also get the same socket errors and could not post at all yesterday.

    sidd @330

    I am not saying that Hansen & Sato sufficiently justifies the hypothesis that mass loss will follow an exponential curve. However, the arguments they provide give reason for concern that mass loss will be accelerating, at some faster-than-linear pace. Of course, exponential developments are a very special case, and it would be interesting to read more justification from Hansen regarding the hypothesis of exponential mass-loss of the great ice-sheets.

    It is correct that Rignot et al:s projection is supra-linear (it is accelerating ice-loss), but they assume a linear acceleration. It is not far-fetched to assume that ice-loss will be accelerating more in the end of the century under BAU-forcings. Will it be exponential? Maybe not, but can we rule it out?

    Hansen & Sato also points out that recent sea level projections are primarily based on linear assumptions. Notably, this include the “back-of-the-envelope” calculations for ice dynamics in IPCC AR4, expert judgments such as Pfeffer et al (2008) or Katsman et al (2011) (see my discussion in post # 324), as well as the the semi-empirical methods by Vermeer & Rahmstorf (2009) and others (Rahmstorf, Perrette & Vermeer (2011) say that “a non-linear response of ice sheets could make semi-empirical projections overestimate or underestimate the true future sea level rise.”). I would argue that the linear assumtions are not justified based on the exatcly the kind of phenomena that Hansen & Sato (2012) highlights.

    The billion-dollar question is if the current ice-sheet models are any better. My understanding is that the forthcoming AR5 sea level projections rely on ice-sheet models for estimating the future contribution from ice-dynamics (which is where the main uncertainty is, see my post #303 above).

    I read Hansen & Sato’s recent note and their brief discussion of this in Hansen & Sato (2012) as yet another warning of scientific reticience regarding sea level rise and that current methods for sea level projections probably does not sufficiently capture the scale and speed of the loss that can occur over short periods of time (this century) due to non-linear responses of the great ice-sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

    Comment by perwis — 30 Dec 2012 @ 7:58 AM

  350. Jim Larsen #345,

    “The “Alarmist” argument (which I often agree with) wasn’t missing by intent. At least two Alarmists were asked to participate. One never responded. The other accepted, and then backed out due to lack of time.”

    Okay, so if you’re scheduled for major surgery, and the first two anesthesiologists the surgeon requests back out, you’d go ahead with the surgery anyway? What was the rush for the dialogue without a balanced team?

    On to a more fundamental issue. I have been promoting the viewpoint that the major roadblock to combating climate change is the effective ‘addiction’ of the energy consumer to cheap and plentiful fossil fuel-supplied energy. That seems not to be resonating on this site. Instead, the focus appears to be ‘let’s target the media for not getting the correct info to the public, and the energy companies for their media and political influence’. Now, if I believed info restriction or undue political influence were the major roadblocks, then I would agree that the focus on the media or the politicians is appropriate. But, if the consumer is the major roadblock, and the consumer drives the politicians, then the focus on the politicians has it backwards, and can never solve the problem. Any politically-driven mandates on heavy energy use restriction, or politically-driven taxes/penalties on heavy fossil fuel use will go nowhere without public acceptance. So, it seems to me from first principles that the energy consumer is the central problem, and solutions can only come when the energy consumer is willing to forego his ‘addiction’. This could either be voluntary or involuntary.

    Now, if this message is not being received, it seems to me there are three potential major causes: there is a problem with the transmitter, there is a problem with the transmitting medium, there is a problem with the receiver, or any combination of the above. So, where are the main problems? Do you disagree with the fundamental message presented above? If so, tell me how the politicians could institute the required harsh changes without the consent of the energy consumer? Any other comments would be appreciated as well.

    Comment by Superman1 — 30 Dec 2012 @ 11:21 AM

  351. Patrick,

    Your project might be better served by a blog site. As it evolves you could post executive summaries here along with a link to your site. That’s appropriate because this is a comments section, not a Guest Post.

    And linking back to old Unforced Variations posts, which can’t be corrected or updated, well, it won’t work. You’ll surely have a deeper knowledge and better words later. Once all the pieces of a system are in place, tons of stuff simplifies and the chaff can be raked out – unless you’re using a write once site like RC – especially when things are spread out amongst many Unforced Variations. When one’s highest sort key is MonthPosted, well, obsolete stuff which can’t be updated will be hard to keep track of….

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 30 Dec 2012 @ 11:26 AM

  352. 348 S1 said, “so if you’re scheduled for major surgery, and the first two anesthesiologists the surgeon requests back out, you’d go ahead with the surgery anyway?”

    Instead of making everyone do the Groundhog Day thing, how about you read the whole CD discussion? You’ll find that plenty of folks, including me, had that same concern.

    S1 said, “solutions can only come when the energy consumer is willing to forego his ‘addiction’. This could either be voluntary or involuntary.”

    Complete drivel, there. One sentence contradicts the previous. Willing to involuntarily forgo his addiction? PWI? (or in some states PUI)

    There’s a structure called the amygdala in the brain which screams when it recognizes danger. It’s got veto power over logic. I’m guessing your posts are generally amygdala-driven.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 30 Dec 2012 @ 11:54 AM

  353. 348 S1 said, “so if you’re scheduled for major surgery, and the first two anesthesiologists the surgeon requests back out, you’d go ahead with the surgery anyway?”

    I just noticed how your analogy fits your beliefs. Filling out the story:

    “Without the surgery you’ll be dead in a week. Each day you delay the surgery will halve your odds of survival.”

    So… do you endure the pain? After all, the safest anesthesia is none at all, which fits perfectly with your desired solution.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 30 Dec 2012 @ 1:10 PM

  354. S1, it seems you’re discovering issues , or are figuring this all out all by yourself, for the first time.

    People have been working on these for quite a while, actively, worldwide. Look at some of the sidebar blogs — you’ll find the discussions well under way.

    RC has been pointing to those discussions for a long time now.
    Pointing, because they’re happening _there_. Not here where the science is being learned by those interested in it as it happens.

    Read, for example, the links at EcoEquity (to pick a personal favorite off that long list in the sidebar).

    You’re not alone. You’re catching up with work well advanced.
    Figure out which ways people are going, and decide who to join.

    Remember: delay is the deadliest form of denial. Delay for example as done by the tobacco and chemical industry over decades by funding opposing sides of a policy issue — to pull people apart, generate extremes at the cost of the center, and leave a vacuum where people might agree on policies. Be wary.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Dec 2012 @ 3:59 PM

  355. re 351 Jim Larsen – thanks, I’ll consider it –
    – problem: I have very little knowledge of starting a blog (I suppose there’s a ‘blogging for dummies’ book out there…)
    – but it is possible to link back to a single comment, so that’s not an issue – I don’t think.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 30 Dec 2012 @ 4:00 PM

  356. Here, for example — follow the pointer to EcoEquity:

    America’s first “climate dividend”
    Where they point to, and recommend, what they describe as a
    —- excerpt follows —-

    Great piece in the Huffington Post today on California’s new climate regime. Mike Sandler, in a piece called The Birth of Carbon Pricing and Delivering California’s First ‘Climate Dividend’ can see what, alas, many climate activists miss — allowance auctions can be understood in a very positive light indeed. Sandler writes here of America’s first climate dividend and offers an analysis that is astute in both its details (which I will skip, hoping that you read the article) and its overall import.

    He even quotes the mad utopians at the California Public Utility Commission on the commons logic that is carefully embedded in the new system ….”
    —— end excerpt —-

    More under “Other Opinions” in the sidebar.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Dec 2012 @ 4:56 PM

  357. Mr. Perwis:

    A review by Joughin et al. (Science,2012,v338,pp1172 et seq.) of oceanic influence on ice sheets might interest. Oceanic heat transport drives basal melting of ice shelves but the process is not well understood. The modelling difficulty is that the resolution of current GCMs are too coarse. When finer scale models are applied the results are more dire.

    “Where regional-scale ocean models have been coupled to GCMs, the results indicate the potential for far more extreme changes within this century than had been anticipated (26).”

    The Hellmer paper, ref 26,(Nature,2012,v485,pp225 et seq.) is an unsettling analysis of the Filchner-Ronne shelf, usually considered stable. A quote

    “… our melt rates have to be considered as lower bounds.”

    These ‘lower bounds’ show strong basal melt commencing in the second half of this century. One model at fine resolution (FESOM, exhibited in the supplementary material) shows basal melt beginning in the 2020s.

    The last two sentences in Joughin are:

    “The remaining challenges require a coordinated and sustained effort by glaciologists, oceanographers, and climate modelers before reliable projections of future sea level can be made. Until that time, Greenland and Antarctica will remain the “wild cards” in sea-level projections.”

    I think you will agree that papers such as these are much better than curve fits to mass waste measurements.


    Comment by sidd — 30 Dec 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  358. Patrick, wordpress blogs are free and user friendly, the widgets are self explanatory, setting up takes less than an hour, google takes about six weeks to include so action will be slow at first

    Comment by john byatt — 30 Dec 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  359. NOAA Lists Ringed and Bearded Ice Seal Populations Under the Endangered Species Act
    The article lists NOAA’s predictions for future Arctic climate relevant to the life cycle of those seal species and populations.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 30 Dec 2012 @ 7:23 PM

  360. Mr. Larsen:
    The section on tidewater glaciers in the Joughin paper I referred to in my previous comment might help you with your question:
    “…adding 5 miles of fjord just makes it HARDER for ice to get from the receded glacier to the ocean. Woo if it’s wide. I know that the ice/water interface can enlarge, but disgorgement has got to be hindered by retreat. (Here’s where I hope somebody fills in what I’m missing)”

    Very briefly, from the paper: ” It is important to note that many fjords are choked with a mélange of sea ice and icebergs (Fig. 4) that can extend deep (>100 m) into the water column.”

    Here Figure 4 is a revealing picture of JI

    “Another way that warmer fjord waters may contribute to glacier retreat and speed-up is through the influence of melt on the ice mélange choking many glacier fjords (Fig. 4), especially in winter. In summer, the mélange’s constituent icebergs typically float freely, but in winter sea ice bonds them together to form a rigid mass that is pushed down the fjord by the advancing glacier terminus (42). Although the strength of this amalgam should have only a small effect on the back stress, observation and theory both indicate that it can suppress wintertime calving (42, 43), which picks up again in spring and summer when the mélange remobilizes and clears the fjord. On Jakobshavn Isbræ, this seasonal variation of calving rates allows the terminus to advance over the winter and retreat during the summer, causing its speed to vary annually by 20 to 30% near the terminus. Warmer water in the fjord may shorten the period when the mélange is frozen, causing retreat by lengthening the duration of when strong calving occurs. ”

    Mr. Perwis:
    Another supralinear factor for GRIS is the albedo flip, detailed in Box’s meltfactor blog and in Tedesco.

    One big supralinear factor for WAIS, is the retrograde slope of the bed beneath the ice, as Joughin points out

    “The bedrock geometry on which an ice sheet rests provides an important control on its stability. With no ice-shelf buttressing, ice discharge scales nonlinearly (n > 3) with grounding-line thickness, making it difficult to stabilize the grounding line on slopes where the bed deepens with distance inland (7).”

    n>3 is huge, as Weertmann and Mercer knew, and Schoof explicitly calculates in Ref 7.


    Comment by sidd — 30 Dec 2012 @ 8:37 PM

  361. Patrick said, “but it is possible to link back to a single comment, so that’s not an issue – I don’t think.”

    But comments are often followed by clarifications, corrections, and extensions. To which correction do you point? Previously solved errors will reappear, and you’ll end up with spaghetti code.

    I’m in the same boat with regard to creating a blog. I chose Blogger. It’s free and so far not bad. My first substantial post, To EV or not to EV, is getting close to first publication.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 30 Dec 2012 @ 10:33 PM

  362. Weertman, Lliboutry and the development of sliding theory
    is a review of the controversial development of glacial sliding theory. I but quote one sentence; “Weertman’s simple theory is still often used, but it should
    not be.”

    The paper is not difficult to skim and the essence of the problem ought to emerge. I commend this review to anyone interested in the movement of glaciers and ice streams.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 31 Dec 2012 @ 12:03 AM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Dec 2012 @ 5:53 AM

  364. sidd, Jim Larsen @359:

    Jason Box’s blog post on the Ilulissat glacier (also known as the Jakobshavn Isbrae) illustrates my worries:
    “Flying over Ilulissat glacier this July, it was stunning to notice how retreat has proceeded upstream into a northern tributary, producing effectively two main calving fronts to this ice sheet outlet. The faster stream from the west off the right side of the photo also remains in retreat. The glacier is based below sea level more than 75 km inland (Thomas et al. 2011).”

    Adding miles of fjord only have a limited effect by making it harder for the ice to travel to the ocean (see the quote by Joughin et a above). Instead, retreat of the glacier grounding lines far into the ice sheet seems bound to create wider outlets, effectively activating new ice streams in the ice sheet, which seems to have happened recently in the Iluissat glacier.

    Glaciologist Robert Bindschadler puts it very succinctly: “there is no physical reason … that those outlet glaciers won’t just eat out the heart of the Greenland ice sheet” and and regarding the outlet glaciers in Antarctica, “there is no reason they should’t be draining the entire marine-based part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheets, and perhaps similar to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet” I have linked to Dr. Bindschadler’s lecture on my blog (the quotes are at ca 51 minutes in the lecture): (See also the slides Dr Bindschadler uses to illustrate how large parts of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are below sea level.)

    Can present ice sheet models simulate the recent behaviour of the Ilulissat glacier? Has the state of ice sheet models really advanced so far from 2007, when the IPCC found it impossible to even provide an upper bound of the potential contribution from ice sheet dynamics?

    Interesting and important as that may be, it is now new years eve and I wish contributors and commentators at Real Climate a happy new year, and best wishes for a great 2013! Thank you for all your efforts!

    Comment by perwis — 31 Dec 2012 @ 8:04 AM

  365. Collage: 2013 – CLIMATE ACTION

    A Happy New year to everybody

    Comment by prokaryotes — 31 Dec 2012 @ 9:32 AM

  366. Begging the moderators’ indulgence for a final off-topic comment for the year … a few links for those who are interested in renewable electricity as an important part of the solution to the global warming crisis.


    Top 10 Solar Power Stories Of 2012

    Top 10 Wind Power Stories Of 2012

    10 Top EV Stories From 2012

    Best wishes to all of you for a healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous 2013.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 31 Dec 2012 @ 2:38 PM

  367. Re 360 Jim Larsen – thanks. I guess I’ll have to really proofread before posting comments. How friendly is Blogger to equations? (e.g. is it any easier than entering html code for superscripts and subscripts and bold for vectors etc. here?)

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 31 Dec 2012 @ 4:47 PM

  368. Twenty year pseudoperiods:
    El Nino/La Nina variations? (I read a brief summary about this but did not keep the link.)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 31 Dec 2012 @ 6:55 PM

  369. Some sea level rise consequences from Fairfax Climate Watch:
    which uses conservative (in the engineering sense) estimates of future SLR.

    The growth of sea level is actually not exponential but rather sigmoid, i.e., S-shaped. Otherwise, the article is well done.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 31 Dec 2012 @ 9:28 PM

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