Starting tomorrow, my climate thriller, Heat Wave, is free all week.
An assassin executes a U.S. presidential candidate.
To witness and eccentric reporter, Sam Emory, it echoes a killing three years earlier that transformed his life.
Voters elect a new, environmentalist president, a colleague of the slain candidate.
But a powerful industrialist stops at nothing, including murder, to control world energy markets.
And this isn’t his first murder.
Emory and the president are the next in line.
In the not-so-distant future, an assassin kills a U.S. presidential candidate seeking to fix a world ravaged by climate change, and Sam Emory uncovers a chain of murders with a megalomaniac industrialist at its core. The newly elected president vows to solve the climate crisis. Can Emory and his friends stop the assassin from striking again?
HEAT WAVE begins in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, but the political intrigue and murder spread to Washington, D.C., and into the labyrinth of an Aspen, Colorado energy research facility, where free-marketers manufacture chaos in the electrical grid, and where Emory confronts a terrifying a secret from his past.
Comment by David B. Benson — 31 Mar 2013 @ 7:52 PM
New research predicts that rising temperatures will lead to a massive “greening,” or increase in plant cover, in the Arctic. In a paper published on March 31 in Nature Climate Change, scientists reveal new models projecting that wooded areas in the Arctic could increase by as much as 50 percent over the next few decades.
Simplifying somewhat, my understanding of the last decade or so is that a run of La Niñas have caused the excess heat to go into the deep oceans, rather than staying on the surface. Right? If so, any guesses as to whether this run is just a coincidence or whether there may be some sort of causal effect – high tropical temperatures cause La Niñas or the like? What’s the current estimate of the probability of an El Niño in the next few years? Also, AIUI, the models produce their own ENSO as part of their operation. If that’s right, do they show any bias to one or the other condition as temperatures change?
In light of the reconstructions by Marcott et al, 2013 and Mann et al, 2008, each taken to best represent their primary time eras of focus– It could be said that the start of the instrumental temperature record came at roughly the coldest part of the entire Holocene (or at least the previous 9,000 years or so).
[Response: Yes. The evidence from glacier morraines from very widely different areas suggests that the NH LIA advances were the largest since the Younger Dryas, and dates of material found below the glaciers are often thousands of years old. – gavin]
If the super-majority of the warming that has occurred in the instrument record is anthroprogenic (75%-100%+ considering natural variability), what is the research out there to understand where we would have been if we didn’t experience any industrially-forced warming under the same present assumptions of natural variability and non-anthroprogenic forcing trends/cycles? At first glance, it’s got to be fairly chilly.
[Response: The long term (orbitally driven) trend is around 0.1/0.2 ºC per 1000 years (depending on latitude, weighting etc.), but that would not be expected to continue indefinitely. The orbital forcing is near to bottoming out. – gavin]
#9, Chuck–If I’ve got this correctly, he’s saying that in the short term we may catch a break due to (probably) negative aerosol forcings and greater than expected biosphere carbon sinking, but the long-term outcome is likely unchanged, since a) it’s unlikely that ever-increasing aerosol levels will be tolerated and b) it’s unlikely that the biosphere will continue to be an ever-more effective sink as temperatures continue to rise.
It’s worth mentioning, perhaps, that air pollution in China has indeed become a political and social issue–amusing, in a sardonic way, is the emergence of ‘clean air tourism’ there:
I’m assuming the long term trend being 0.1/0.2°C is more general for the instrumental time period (ie., can also be used for the present decade in addition to a similar decade in the late 1800s)?
[Response: I don’t think this cooling trend is of much relevance on decadal timescales. It is an effect around 0.02ºC per decade, but that is much smaller than internal variability, let alone the effects from volcanoes or solar. – gavin]
One of the things I’m wondering about is that the record, shown here…
Has that abrupt turn-around after the LIA. If the instrumental warming is largely anthroprogenic, and indeed it is, and if Marcott et al precludes relatively rapid fluxes in temperature of a non-anthroprogenic mechanism, then wouldn’t the turn-around have necessarily have taken longer or bottomed out deeper in keeping with the slow curve of change?
[Response: I think it’s more useful to think of LIA like variations as happening on a baseline of long-term cooling, thus the LIA was anomalously cold compared to the temperatures expected based on orbital forcing, and the natural recovery of the LIA in the 1800’s (as solar and volcanic went back to warmer levels) has been greatly enhanced by the subsequent anthropogenic forcing. ]
I realize this is immaterial now, but given the opportunity for feedbacks to spiral, I wonder if at least the early AGW gave us a slight reprieve from what we could have otherwise been treated to before finally coming up on this 0.1/0.2 trend? Perhaps a take-away is that “at least we know one way of avoiding another Little Ice Age” (other consequences notwithstanding)…
[Response: Perhaps. But we could come up with much more effective ways to prevent further orbitally-driven cooling if that was a threat. – gavin]
Can alkenones really make good medium to long term temperature proxies ?
If we assume that the current ratio of di/tri molecular production indicates optimal healthy growth for average current temperatures, is it not likely that after a few decades of marginally higher temperatures the species would have adapted such that the same “optimal growth signature” would then be associated with the new average ? This would have the unfortunate effect of severely dampening any reconstructed medium to long term temperature changes.
[Response: Interesting idea, but if it was correct you wouldn’t see the ice age cycles in alkenones at all. There are potential other issues- seasonal bias in fluxes for instance – but the anomalous alkenone records tend to have a bigger signal than you might expect. This really speaks to the need for multiple proxy types in any assessment such as this. – gavin]
“Our simulations (Hansen and Sato, 2012) suggest that a strong negative feedback
kicks in when sea level rise reaches meter-scale, as the ice-melt has a large cooling and freshening effect on the regional ocean.”
I thought that your several statements advocating an “aboriginal lifestyle” for sustainability were “grade school rhetoric” and “demeaning to you and boring” when you first brought it up. It is a dumb idea.
re: 8 & 10.
It is very important to remember there is significant natural noise in short-term trends, in this case around 10 years. Specifically, there have been strong La Nina and El Nino years which have created short-term effects. For example, we know 1998 (the “cherry-pick” year the anti-science deniers always use to claim warming has slowed/stopped) was influenced by a record El Nino which added to the global temperature. There have since been several La Nina years which would serve to cool global temperatures yet in spite of the cooling effect, temperatures have continued to warm overall but just at a slower rate. Again, the signal-to-noise ratio in short-term trend analysis must be considered. Which is a primary reason why 30 years is the minimum period for climate trend analysis.
Aaron W @2
There was a post on that Economist ‘climate sensitivity’ article at SkepticalScience. As well as the article, the Economist magazine also ran an editorial leader which is far more reasonable in its coverage (ie no “15 years of flat temperature” or ambiguous final word). And if you want sight of the actual author, there is a 6 minute video on the subject of this article featuring him – John Parker – and another Economist journo. Parker is listed on The Economist website as energy & enviornment editor (althought on the video as globalisation editor). Energy & environment is a post he cannot be too long in as his predecessor (James Astill) was only appointed in 2011. (A second climate-themed video features John Parker this time putting the questions to a brace of fellow Economist journos in December 2012 in the aftermath of Doha.)
The take-away from the (first) video is more definite than the article. It rougly says that even if ECS does now look a bit lower than before, ther is no change as we weren’t addressing the problem adequately before and because 2xCO2 will be exceeded under BAU, a lower ECS won’t save the world serious pain (so that’s a big thumbs down for unmitigated adaption policies, then).
8 Chuck H, Hansen is just noting that not only does fossil fuel use provide a few-day drop in temps which we eventually MUST release, but also that fossil fuel use releases stuff like nitrogen, which increases the take-up of CO2. (My guess is that Dead Zones are great carbon sequesterers – grow algae, choke everything, and let it sink – carbon burial is aided by Mass Death) So, it turns out that natural systems reduce the heating caused by fossil fuel use via aerosols and also the absolute concentration of CO2 compared to what it would have been via nitrogen and other stuff, but, unfortunately, it’s all just a Ponzi scheme. Eventually you’ve got to stop spewing aerosols and fertilizer. At that point, the extra shading from aerosols WILL disappear and the extra growth and death from fertilizer WILL end. Both ends are essentially immediate, while CO2 emission effects are essentially permanent. So, in any particular decade, it’s harmful to stop emissions, but stopping emissions is critical to long-term survival. We’re like a heroin addict. Cold Turkey is gonna hurt – AND MIGHT BE A BAD IDEA EVEN IF THERE WERE NO ECONOMIC COSTS, but our veins are running out….
9 “The long term (orbitally driven) trend is around 0.1/0.2 ºC per 1000 years (depending on latitude, weighting etc.), but that would not be expected to continue indefinitely. The orbital forcing is near to bottoming out. – gavin]”
that confuses me. I thought the orbital forcing was NEGATIVE, and is going to go further and further negative for thousands of years. I thought we hit the Holocene Maximum thousands of years ago. Clarification?
Steve Fish said Re- Comment by Killian …I thought that your several statements advocating an “aboriginal lifestyle”
To be clear, I never advocated an aboriginal lifestyle. What I did do is suggest such lifestyles as the only true examples of sustainable societies and thus examples to learn from. That you see that as advocacy of literally living in the stone age is an issue with you, not with what I have written.
Given I have also repeatedly described a possible future as being a sort of Hobbiton with a hi-tech backbone (or, similar in form to some ecovillages, perhaps), your comments are nonsense.
These are serious times for serious people. Suggest you consider that with a mirror to hand.
These articles at nsidc.org under “NSIDC in the News: 2013” (26& 27 March) are of interest to me because I started to follow the meanderings of the jetstream (300 mb) when I found that the 6-hour time lapse satellite animations showed it coming almost straight south over my midlands locale, with volatile conditions re wind and temp, in spite of the continuing trend of precession of the arrival of spring.
The aboriginal lifestyle or a hybrid modern form of the aboriginal lifestyle should be our long term goal. Wouldn’t it be great to give the dinosaurs a run for their money regards longevity on planet earth. Considering our intellect and problem solving capacity is vastly superior to those glorified lizards we should be able to…or..so you would think??? To be considered a successful species we only have another 50-75 million years to prosper on this planet. Here’s where I agree with Killian…the only way to achieve this is to be complementary..synergistic to our ecosystem and not parasitic and pathogenic like we are at present. We need to place personal happiness on environmental wellbeing. You all realise this ideology is fundamentally correct don’t you! So lets’ aim our future direction towards that picture.
In the meantime we are in the shit! The only way we have a hope of getting out of this shit is by quick and expensive technological fixes NOW!!! We simply do not have the time to pussyfoot with passive means. We have to apply the dead-man brakes immediately. This cannot rest or be achieved though due democratic process..again we do not have the time to negotiate and compromise and dilly dally. Governments world wide need to reorganise their federal budgets to fast track emission minimising technologies to their dirtiest factories.
Back to the above dilemma…democracy. Whether I agree with it or not handling this difficult task I figure we are stuck with it. Therefor the scientific establishment must unite like never before and apply REAL pressure to the energy/environment/treasury ministries and state clearly in one coherent voice the current state of climate change and our almost extinguished window of opportunity to rectify thus.
People have got to understand that when Joe Bloggs on the street put’s his concern or even fear over the current state of the weather above drinking with his mates at the local bar it will be too late for 90% of life on planet earth within a finger snap in geological time. As this will be the first time in the phanerozoic eon that a single species has caused a catastrophic mass extinction.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 2 Apr 2013 @ 6:06 AM
Lawrence Coleman wrote: “The only way we have a hope of getting out of this shit is by quick and expensive technological fixes NOW!!!”
If by “this shit” you mean global warming caused by CO2 emissions, the good news is that the necessary “technological fixes” are already in hand, and they are in fact already being implemented “quickly” (although not yet quickly enough), and they are not particularly expensive.
Good post. I suggest that the “real” issue is that you demanded prior proof and held up aboriginal lifestyles as the only ones that met that demand. In reality, we’re on a path that BY DEFINITION is not sustainable if we don’t complete the path. If you’d incorporate that Truth in your message, then you’d snag a ton more fish.
You’re confusing Nature with Modern Lifestyle Comfort. According to Nature, we could slaughter half of humanity and it would be a mere hiccup. According to MLC, that would be a “Disaster of unimaginable magnitude”.
There is NO danger of our becoming less than totally dominant. Every other species larger than a mouse will go extinct before we do. Odds are that we’ll only die off due to the demise of the Universe, with a small probability tick at the destruction of the Earth.
Climate change and Ecology are ruled by the First Law: Humans Die Last. Disagree? Name any time or place where anything of any size lived while humans became locally extinct. And I’m being argumentally charitive. The First law becomes stronger and stronger as humans advance. Can you imagine a future where humans DON’T eat everything to delay their own extinction?
If we die, the Earth will be populated by either nothing at all, or single-cell slime.
@ Lawrence Coleman who said, “In the meantime we are in the shit! The only way we have a hope of getting out of this shit is by quick and expensive technological fixes NOW!!! We simply do not have the time to pussyfoot with passive means. We have to apply the dead-man brakes immediately. This cannot rest or be achieved though due democratic process..again we do not have the time to negotiate and compromise and dilly dally. Governments world wide need to reorganise their federal budgets to fast track emission minimising technologies to their dirtiest factories.”
Not being a scientist I’m sure I’m butting in here but I would like to reiterate what Lawrence said on post #25.
I think we need a unified, relatively simple, coherent SHOUT from the scientific community, apart from the IPCC reports that make it crystal clear to ALL MEDIA OUTLETS exactly what we’re facing and how soon. It needs to be repeated loudly and often with highly descriptive illustrations as to what’s to come for humans and the planet and all of its species. Surely some of you have access to the media and influence you could be using to get this done.
I do not have a clear grasp of the situation simply because I’m not a scientist but I DO represent the vast majority of the population who, like myself, don’t fully and clearly understand what my daughter and her generation are facing. The scientific community here at realclimate.org needs to come together on this and start sounding the alarm. We’re dithering and wasting valuable time IF what I’m reading and what many of you are saying is indeed true. Will humans make it to the end of this century the way things are headed now??? What are the odds of success as it stands today given that nothing seems to be happening. We just had a tar sands spill here in Arkansas that’s making national news. Most folks didn’t even know there was a tar sands pipeline in the state! Let alone in their own backyard. Our Republican controlled State legislature is dominated by people who still think the Earth is flat. We have gas wells everywhere and earthquakes on a weekly basis. It’s “drill baby drill” and BAU from here on out unless you guys start sounding the alarm. Thanks for allowing me to butt in. I completely understand that everyone here is working their asses off to make things better but the problem I see is a real lack of communication between the scientific community and the country at large. I believe it all goes back to opening up the lines of communication and educating the public. There’s a teacher in Idaho right now who is in trouble for saying the word Vagina and showing “An Inconvenient Truth” in SCIENCE CLASS!!! That’s the level of ignorance you’re dealing with here. Again, I apologize for butting in and I do appreciate everything you guys are doing. It’s a tough fight.
seems to suggest (“…and correlated with glacial-interglacial cycles provide an organic geochemical measure of past sea-surface water temperatures”) that the empirical temperature response is at least partially achieved through correlation with the glacial-interglacial cycles in the first place. Am I reading that incorrectly ? The sentence is somewhat clumsy, it’s difficult for me to figure out (without access to the contents) whether they are saying “does correlate with” (an end result), or “is correlated against” (used during correlation procedure).
[Response: That paper relies on the spatial distribution of the alkenone ratios and the current temperatures to develop the calibration, and then evaluates it using the glacial-to-interglacial change. Other calibrations have used a wider distribution of sites, or in situ calibration from laboratory experiments. People do not use the change over time as a calibration – that would somewhat defeat the point. – gavin]
Many small islands in the South Pacific used to be inhabited by Polynesians and were abandoned before Europeans came to visit. See this reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16593606. This is an example of a location where humans became extinct and animals bigger than a mouse remain. See Kangaroo island in Australia for a bigger example. If the food supply gets too small the biggest animals (humans) become extinct before the smaller ones. It is certainly possible that humans could wipe themselves out if we are too stupid about the environment.
Is average surface air temperature really the best and most appropriate defining measure of climate change? It seems to me that in the absence of continuous direct measurement of energy in and energy out at top of atmosphere that something like Nuticelli et al’s ocean, earth, atmosphere and ice heat content more truly represents the actual extent of change to our planet’s heat balance.
Has the historical accident of looking for signs of change in the available daily maximum and minimum temperatures collected by weather watching orgs really given the best defining measure of ongoing change?
Rather than the 2degrees or 6 we talk about would we be better talking about how much heat the world has and can be expected to gain? It seems to me that changes to average surface air temperatures is a secondary consequence of that gain in heat – which also shows much less internal variability; no claiming it has stopped for a decade and a half because hardly a year has passed when it failed to rise from ongoing warming.
Good point, with two caveats. First, abandonment is different from local extinction in the way I was using the words (Humans die last). Second, your link notes the extinction of small birds, presumably caused by the Polynesians before they left, so the abstract is consistent with my comment. They killed off much of the wildlife bigger than a mouse, and then left. If there had been no escape, perhaps they’d have finished the job. (Or maybe they did. Are current birds re-populators or survivors?)
I retract my comment’s absoluteness and ratchet down its magnitude, but stand by its flavor. If climate change starts killing off lots of people who, unlike the Polynesians, will have no escape, everything that’s edible had better watch out.
re # 31 & 35 The spread of modern humans out of Africa and around the world can indeed be tracked by the extinctions of megafauna in our wake. Humans have had a vast footprint in the blood of other species driven to extinction directly or indirectly, even before we engineered our colossal carbon footprint, enscribed so clearly in the ice record. Maybe “footprint” is too nice a word. It’s not a footprint, it’s a trail of destruction, a smoking, ruined legacy of short-sighted irrevocable destruction. On the other hand, we are apparently the only species capable of understanding and doing something about our own behaviour.
Related to this, as regards Lawrence Coleman #25 and some related posts “Quick and expensive technological fixes” seems like a good way to risk making a bad situation even worse. An attempt at geoengineering needs to be very carefully considered if indeed it is to be attempted at all. The late great Nick Shackleton stated publicly that he was opposed to any such move in principle. While the situation is very serious, it would hardly be helped by a reflex response that risked further careless egotistical damage to an already stressed climate and ecosystem. Cut fossil CO2 emissions – that at least is something we can all agree on. Or would be, if it wasn’t for a small group of …
30: None. Why don’t you just get a new re-captcha challenge by clicking the circlular arrows on the top. Don’t bother with the audio one, it’s impossible to understand.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 3 Apr 2013 @ 4:28 AM
Wikipedias entry here on Kangaroo island is a better example of human extinction where animals remain. These humans went extinct. Kangaroos must remain or it would not have that name. It is too far to the mainland for the humans to have moved. It is possible for humans to be eliminated without the Venus effect killing everything. Everything edible has to watch out already in most locations. Hopefully we will not go so far down that road.
36: Simon C Nobody said tech fixes were without risk. Such as seeding the atmosphere with sulphur dioxide etc. The rarefication of the atmosphere vs the relative density and depth of the oceans should minimise further acidification apart from run off from waterways and the increasing carbonic acid build up from CO2. Correct me if I’m wrong!.
Then I had a thought… would a sudden drastic cut in CO2 over the coming 20-50 years considering it’s been building up since the industrial revolution in the 1800’s cause other unknown feedbacks. Just as anthropogenic CO2 is now amplifying many + feedback systems as 275-400ppm CO2 in a few hundred years is a sudden massive shock to the planets control systems, would a complete cessation of anthro CO2 now be just as big a shock to a system struggling to cope. Could the time frame of a sudden drop simply heterodyne onto the existing one and actually amplify the situation out of hand or would it gradually and smoothly begin to stabilise and lower CO2??
29: Chuck Hughes, you and I have the exact same concerns. I have a 7y/o son who keeps me focussed on my environmental priorities. Is your head as sore as mine by beating it against the brick wall of apathy, disinterest and denial.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 3 Apr 2013 @ 7:31 AM
Satellite temperature measurement breaking down?
The UAH satellite measurement shows a more than 4 degrees C cooling of the earth over the last few days. Is the earth becoming a snowball or just the satellite breaking down? With the previous failures, are we going to have working satellites any more?
[Response: this AMSU instrument has ‘gone off message’ so to speak, but there are two other instruments in different satellites that measure the same thing. Maintenance of long term remote sensing is however going to be a bigger problem going forward. -gavin]
A huge pool of warm water that stretched out from Indonesia over to Africa and South America four million years ago suggests climate models might be too conservative in forecasting tropical changes.
Danged exciting!, in a sad sort of way. For those of us who have perceived patterns indicating very rapid changes (at least more rapid than virtually all others perceive thus far) this sort of finding supports the central thesis: We’ve changed the world in ways it ain’t never been changed and the old rules generally just don’t apply.
People of all types need to take that to the bank. Whatever your worst case scenario, if it isn’t outright catastrophe, you need to use some sort of multiplier, at minimum, because, again, very simply, the planet has quite literally never been here before.
Risk assessment for catastrophic scenarios *is* based in the worst case scenario, but humanity continues to bargain with the devil in this regard.
Oh, so much that could be said…
Anything that increases or maintains significant risk has to go. Only solutions that have a high probability of making things better AND not making them worse, or not much worse, should be in play. Thus, any techno geo-engineering is out. Simple, human-scale changes are in.
The Arctic Sea Ice going bye-bye is going to make it a close shave no matter what we do, but I believe, deep within me, we *can* do this. (And this from a guy who is absolutely certain the margin is very thin and the cost of failure, if not extinction, may as well be.)
What are the short-term consequences of a newly mostly-open late-summer/early-fall Arctic Ocean?
Did we already see some of them over the last year? : Stalled fronts that caused drying in the US West and Mid-West and near-constant rain in the UK; Increased snow fall and colder and longer (than the average over the last decades or so) winter in the North Hemisphere continental interiors…
Should we expect an even more intense version of these in the coming year if, as most seem to expect, we will have an even-more-ice-free Arctic Ocean this summer and fall?
Or will the over-all warming overwhelm the latter and we in the middle of the continent see more of the winter-less winters we have grown accosted to in the last ten years or so?
The important-looking article linked by DBB at #40 is a bit confusingly (to me) worded in parts. If anyone has access to the full scholarly article it is based on, perhaps they could post significant bits or summarize it more fully for us?
I plead ignorance here because to anyone reading my posts I think it’s pretty obvious. I have a basic fundamental understanding of the Physics underlying Climate Change and I read credible sources such as skepticlscience.com/ClimateCentral/ClimateProgress – Joe Romm etc. I figure these guys know what they’re talking about and I continue to hear dire predictions for the coming decades. I closely follow Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Peter Ward and others as well as Stephen Hawking. Most of these people are saying that this century will be a real test for humans. I can’t visualize 9 billion people existing on this planet. The resources just aren’t there. That’s adding another China to the global population. We have finite resources and a limited capacity for food production as it is. Can we really sustain 9 billion people or 10 billion under a BAU scenario? I don’t see it. The math just isn’t there.
I keep hoping somebody like Gavin will chime in and tell me I’m full of shit and give me a few reasons to believe we’re actually going to turn things around and explain how this is to be done. Peter Ward said in an interview that scientists who write books are looked down on by other scientists and passed over for promotions simply for communicating to the public. Is this really the way to solve our problems by penalizing those scientists for daring to communicate with the uneducated masses? How else do “we” educate the public if all we get are hacked e-mails taken out of context and exploited by the deniers for political gain?
Who amongst you are willing to sacrifice your reputation as scientists by opening up direct lines of communication to the morons at FOX News? Don’t you think that an appearance by some of the credible moderators on National Television would help. Somebody with the scientific credentials has to be willing to enter the public sphere and start shouting from the mountain tops about this situation and the consequences we’re facing. A youtube video that nobody can find isn’t going to get the job done. Andrew Sullivan has a blog. Use it. Daily Kos, The Huffingtonpost, Joe Scarborough has a 3 hour show. Surely some of our more influential scientists can make a sacrifice for the greater good and get out there and start educating the public. Counter the bullshit from the deniers with PROOF. We have proof. Talking amongst yourselves is all fine and good but we’re wasting time when it comes to drumming up the political will to change things.
The scientific community HAS TO BECOME A POLITICAL FORCE or we’re all screwed. I hate politics just as much as the next guy but without the political will to get it done I don’t see much hope for the future. Scientists must take on the political forces that are preventing any sort of meaningful change necessary for humans to survive. This is a political fight, not a scientific debate. You can expect the same sort of tactics we’re seeing from the NRA on gun control because that’s the level of ignorance we’re dealing with here. When science teachers are getting fired for saying the word “Vagina” you know we’re in serious trouble.
Chuck Hughes – See the book picture half way down the sidebar? It’s a link to the list of books authored by the scientists here, some/most of which have been covered by the press. There is no possibility of communicating with the morons at Faux News, they [and much of the American population] are ineducable, but Gavin and crew do regularly appear in media segments/articles. The “fight” is not political per se, it’s economic, money from the oil barons and the NRA elect politicians who will keep the economy flowing unidirectionally to the top, scientists do science on a shoestring, and currently government debt is throttling that.
On these points. I listened with interest as Tim Flannery, the head of our fed climate change committee appeared on breakfast tv 3 mornings ago, basically saying we need to adopt zero emissions now. Then the morning show presenter asked him “are these latest disasters in Australia the direct result of CC” and Tim had to say it’s impossible to say whether they are directly related because CC is such a complex issue blah blah which of course is scientifically correct
BUT PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT POINT!!, so I put myself in the shoes of the uneducated layman and thought..that news article is telling me they are not sure that our massive fires and flooding and prolonged heatwaves over the last 7-8 months is caused BY CC, so I’ll go back to reading the morning paper’s sports page..now where was I again..Ahh here we are! salary cap for the western bulldogs… I thought Oh Christ! Tim..here’e your chance to wake the public up and you are telling them that you can’t be sure that such and such an event was directly caused by CC. That’s the problem!!!
He did mention that with all the numerous records broken lately that the climate is on CC induced steroids.
Tim understands the urgency of the situation all right but he does not have the presentation skills to sell it to the public. He’s in the same mould as Prof. Jim Hansen. I have upmost respect for Jim and I have learnt so much from him but he does present himself as the scientists scientist..maybe a green toupee would help?..haha!
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 4 Apr 2013 @ 7:40 PM
The always awesome Lonnie Thompson and Ellen Mosley-Thompson and team on annually resolved icecores from Peru for last 1800 yr, Science Express
What -is- the best consensus right now for how long it would take CO2 to revert back to pre-industrial levels if we halted all emissions? I saw an online model that suggested 900 years but I don’t know at all how well vetted it is.
“Due to the remoteness of the ice cap, we had to develop new tools such as a light-weight drill powered by solar panels to collect the 1983 cores. However, we knew there was much more information the cores could provide” Mosley-Thompson said. “Now the ice cap is just a six-hour walk from a new access road where a freezer truck can be positioned to preserve the cores. So we can now make better dust measurements along with a suite of chemical analyses that we couldn’t make before.”
The cores will provide a permanent record for future use by climate scientists, Thompson added. This is very important, as plants captured by the advancing ice cap 6,000 years ago are now emerging along its retreating margins, which shows that Quelccaya is now smaller than it has been in six thousand years.
“The frozen history from this tropical ice cap—which is melting away as Earth continues to warm—is archived in freezers at -30ºC so that creative people will have access to it 20 years from now, using instruments and techniques that don’t even exist today,” he said.
That reinforces a point made before: field work ain’t easy, but it is vital. The caricature of all climate science as consisting of ‘ivory-tower’ modelers ignores a lot.
Todd Bandrowsky @52.
The conclusions of Archer et al 2009 suggest that 900 years is wildly optimistic. The atmosphere presently hosts 43% of our total emissions from FF & land-use change. The study examines CO2 releases greater than our current total so the ‘substantial fraction’ persisting for ‘tens if not hundreds’ of millenia would be 20% or so.
The conclusions of Archer et al read as follows:- The models presented here give a broadly coherent picture of the fate of fossil fuel CO2 released into the atmosphere. Equilibration with the ocean will absorb most of it on a timescale of 2 to 20 centuries. Even if this equilibration were allowed to run to completion, a substantial fraction of the CO2 , 20–40%, would remain in the atmosphere awaiting slower chemical reactions with CaCO3 and igneous rocks. The remaining CO2 is abundant enough to continue to have a substantial impact on climate for thousands of years. The changes in climate amplify themselves somewhat by driving CO2 out of the warmer ocean. The CO2 invasion has acidified the ocean, the pH of which is largely restored by excess dissolution of CaCO3 from the sea floor and on land and, ultimately, by silicate weathering on land. The recovery of ocean pH restores the ocean’s buffer capacity to absorb CO2 , tending to pull CO2 toward lower concentrations over the next 10,000 years. The land biosphere has its greatest impact within the first few centuries, which is when CO2 peaks. Nowhere in these model results or in the published literature is there any reason to conclude that the effects of CO2 release will be substantially confined to just a few centuries. In contrast, generally accepted modern understanding of the global carbon cycle indicates that climate effects of CO2 releases to the atmosphere will persist for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years into the future.
1) Fixed an embarrassing typo-bug (a “fatfinger” blunder that I had introduced that resulted in some station data getting chopped off). Results are improved ever so slightly with this bug fix.
2) Moved the plot legend where it’s less likely to be obscured by the temperature curves.
3) Added some simple statistical computations: the crosscorrelation between the program’s results and the official NASA results, and a “not quite R-squared” statistic — I compute the mean-square error between the program results and the NASA results, divide by the variance of the NASA results, and then subtract that ratio from 1. It seems to give a better measure of the similarity between the program results and the NASA results than the proper R-squared statistic does.
4) Added a desktop icon that launches a text editor with the program results (so that the actual numbers can be copy/pasted out of the virtual machine).
Obligatory disclaimer: This is not a sophisticated analysis tool — the temperature averaging algorithm is quite rudimentary. That being said, it does do a nice job of demonstrating the robustness of the NASA global-temperature results.
Regarding Fig 1) and the comment later in the page:
“Additionally, models based on snowpack properties suggested that some 2012 meltwater remained unfrozen at 5 meters depth (approximately 16 feet) in mid-December. The model results are consistent with observations from JAXA’s AMSR-2 sensor.”
Looking at the left hand side in Fig 1) the area indicated looks like 1e4 km^2
meltwater as deep as 5 m looks like about 1mm sea level rise just waiting to melt when the sun hits it.
Floods like last year but in SE Greenland this time instead of SW ? Or both ? I am informed by Neven’s sites that Jacobshawn has been clearing it’s throat
Hank Roberts @60.
I don’t find much that is negative in Fred Pearce’s explanation of the recent surface temp record. His concluding lines are not a bad take-away (though perhaps could do with their own paragraph and I’d write it as a single sentence without the question mark). “Whatever happened to global warming? The odds may be that by 2020 it will have come roaring back.”
I do have one gripe, mind. He says near the top of his article “Something is going on. With heat-trapping greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere ever faster, we might expect accelerated warming. So it needs explaining.”
This is wrong. Sure CO2 & N2O may have accumulated ‘ever faster’ but CH4 has taken a bit of a holiday while the various CFCs & other minor GHGs have pretty-much retired from increasing AGW.
The upshot is that ‘heat-trapping greenhouse gases are not accumulating in the atmosphere ever faster’ and for the likes of Fred Pearce to say otherwise is very poor do’s.
Comment by David B. Benson — 9 Apr 2013 @ 12:10 AM
Sadly the take-away message that Williams & Joshi 2013 probably put quite some thought into – “Aviation is partly responsible for changing the climate, but our findings show for the first time how climate change could affect aviation.” – has so readily lost half its message by the time it reaches the media.
Air travel continues to expand with no obvious solutions to its climatic significance – and that significance is not small. I have long advocated that airliners should be required to carry a health warning painted large down the fuselage – FLYING THIS PLANE IS GONNA KILL.
I noticed in the latter article they were pondering whether the southern pacific will continue to play as great a role as a heat sink as it has in the past. I read into this an implication that may or may not have been implied, and the question I read into it was “Could the heat sink function be slowing?” In this comment I am musing whether disappearance of this Antarctic bottom water could actually *speed up* energy transfer to the ocean depths, thus giving us a false sense of security due to a temporarily enhanced heat sink.
I’m only an amateur nerd so I’m sure this isn’t a new thought for professional nerds but here goes…. if this Antarctic bottom water is forming at the surface off the continent and then sinking into the basins and spreading across the floors of the other oceans (sort of suggested in the first link above), what’s that mean? To me its almost like an atmospheric inversion…. very cold, dense salty water at the bottom of the sea….. in the past, how was a poor global warming BTU added to the ocean surface supposed to get DOWN there? (Answer, very slowly)
If the factory that makes this water (certain offshore regions around Antarctica) stop making it, doesn’t that mean the anti-mixing characteristics of the ocean depths are undergoing some profound changes? Seems like a new “normal” in terms of up-down heat transfer has to be created, if the dominant player is taken out of the game.
Of course, that could go either way. Lacking a hypothetical mechanism to create some new type of anti-mixing layering, it seems reasonable to think we are simply propping open the lid to the deep-ocean chest freezer. And that, in turn, might be a key reason why the rate of increase in surface temps allegedly slowed down these last few years.
Probably an insufficiently educated ramble. Rip tear snarl away!
[Response: Our oceanography experts at RC may have more to say on this, but you’re overall take is correct. Climate models frequently show that Southern Ocean being a major heat sink for some time to come, and indeed many would attribute to this the relatively modest amount of warming seen over most of Antarctica (though I think those observations actually have more to do with atmospheric circulation changes than ocean dynamics). We ought to do a post on all this, and I’ll try to do that in the near future. –eric]
Some landowners are suing some energy and chemical companies. What is interesting is the companies’ defense…
“In their petition for a review by the full 5th Circuit, the companies argued that global warming was not attributable only to them but resulted from the emissions of greenhouse gases from millions of sources dating back to the Industrial Revolution.”
So if even they are not denying AGW and it’s causes, that shows just how far removed from reality the deniers are.
My question is…. What exactly does this mean? I was reading other comments on Dailykos in response to FishOutOfWater’s post and nobody understood the implications. Most of the comments were that everything went fuzzy after the first couple of paragraphs of reading this. Is the Antarctic ice melting or increasing? What is “Bottom Water” and how is this having an effect on Antarctic ice?
What does it mean when you say Half of the Global Thermohaline Circulation Is Faltering? How serious is this and what is causing it?
Again, sorry to interrupt the discussion but us average folks would like to understand this a little better. Thanks.
#69–Chuck, the confusion is understandable IMO; though the article had some good information, it wasn’t very tightly focussed.
Here’s a brief definition of ‘bottom water’:
In oceanology, bottom water is by the ocean floor. It has characteristics are markedly distinct from the above layer in terms of oxygen content, salinity, bulk temperature (characteristic temperature), and hence density.
The Antarctic Bottom Water is the source of most bottom water in southern parts of Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, and even in parts of the North Atlantic. Bottom waters flow very slowly, driven mainly by slope topography and differences in temperature and salinity, especially compared to wind-driven surface ocean currents.
The article says–and supports the contention with literature citations pretty convincingly, at least as far as this layman can tell–that rates of formation of bottom water are decreasing. This is associated with the formation of relatively fresh ‘ponds’ of meltwater in the top tens of meters of the water column. So increased ice melt is (perhaps) causing the decrease in bottom water formation.
I didn’t get the sense that anyone really knows in detail what this will imply for the circulation of Southern Hemisphere oceans, though obviously you’d expect that the ‘sign’ of the change should be negative–that is, the circulation should slow overall.
One speculation might be that advection of warmer water toward Antarctica might slow. But I wouldn’t put much stock in that in advance of some actual study. I thought the comment in the story you link was a pretty good summary from someone–Deward Hastings–more knowledgeable than me (not a high bar to meet!):
That lens of (relatively) fresh water that is forming around Antarctica is challenging, and changing, almost everything in global circulation patterns. It freezes sooner (and at a higher temperature). That shields the water from the wind, and reduces wind-driven mixing. It reduces, perhaps to the point of stopping altogether, the present global ocean circulation patterns. That in turn will change global atmospheric weather.
Nobody knows exactly what comes next. We’ve never seen it happen, and our models, not terribly accurate in describing the world we know, are completely untested in the coming world that we don’t know.
Without a constant flow of cold water from the poles the Abyss will warm . . . and without cold slowly rising from the Abyss the mid-ocean and ocean surface will warm (already happening). That will lead to more evaporation (driving a different haline circulation in the tropics) and stronger tropical winds driving different surface currents and greater mixing.
Think of a conveyor belt. Somewhere it goes down, then across, then back up, and returns to its origins. We’re all familiar with rubber conveyor belts in warehouses and the like. Oceans do the same, sorta. The image I mentioned shows 6 places where the ocean water becomes more dense due to changes in salt and temperature. Being dense, this water sinks. That’s the “down” on the conveyor belt. As it sinks, surface water flows in to maintain sea level. So it follows that somewhere else water is rising, right? After sinking “bottom water” flows at depth to places where the water rises. And the belt goes around.
We appear to be turning off two of the six areas we know where loops of this “ocean conveyor belt” go down. It defies reason to think this won’t bring about a great deal of change as the system looks for a new equilibrium.
Part of the implication is the distribution of heat from the tropics to the poles. Incoming sun shines in a tighter beam when the sun is high (like in the tropics) instead of low (like at the poles). Try it yourself with a flashlight straight at the wall or oblique. So all that water in the tropics with the sun overhead is getting heated, and this conveyor belt in the past was transporting all that heat towards the poles (to where changes in salt and temp made the water dense, causing it to sink). But if that water isn’t sinking anymore, where’s the heat that used to flow with the conveyor towards the poles going to go?
It’s gotta go SOMEWHERE, and since its a new paradigm, human institutions, cultures, and infrastructure may or may not continue to be a good fit with the new equilibrium. Its delusional to think there will be no paradigm busting changes. At this point, I think there are many big ideas about which currents will change, and how atmospheric patters will change, but it seems to me there is a large bit of “we don’t know that we don’t know”, especially in the realms of chaos theory and synergistic effect. We’re really good a reductionist thinking, but less willing to think in terms of systems. And that’s one of the main problems >>>> this is a systems issue, and for policy-moving evidence we still rely on computer models that require reductionist data inputs.
Probably didn’t add any more background than you knew, but maybe some of that will help others.
Thank you Steve and Kevin. I will try to pass this information along to others if that’s okay with you. FishOutofWater posts a lot of information about the climate on Dailykos and does a really good job of explaining things most of the time but some of these concepts are just too difficult for the average reader who lacks the background needed to understand it.
This seems to go with the whole Gulf Stream slowing, albeit in a different part of the globe and for slightly different reasons. Basically when you heat up the polls it slows down circulation with air and water, as far as I can tell, which in turn cause weather patterns to stagnate and become more erratic and unpredictable. I assume that’s what we’re experiencing now with the jet stream being in an almost vertical position, if I understand it correctly. Again, thanks for taking the time to explain.
Fine with me to forward my contributions, but please add that I’m just a poor layman with a BS degree in natural resources and I’m speculating in this post…. certainly not hypothesizing as a professional. As for the Gulf Stream, I’ve heard it could slow too. But on the other hand, when I was looking at papers about it in my undergrad they were reductionist in their thinking. From a systems perspective, it seems reasonable to think salt concentrations will continue to change in different places. For all we know, as freshwater redistributes with melting over here, and increased rain over there, and increased evaporation in this other place, maybe new areas will start to see the formation of more-dense-than-average water, and that water will sink…. In other words, as we turn off “bottom water factories” near Anarctica, maybe we are slowly turning on others! Do we know enough to know we know the answer? This layman doesn’t know, but I doubt it. If new places for bottom-water formation take over from the Antarctic coast, its equally possible the Gulf Stream could continue full force, just with a somewhat – or a radically – altered pattern. All speculative but one thing should be clear – we can’t change the way this massive energy input (heating of tropical surface waters) is distributed around the earth without busting our paradigm. And the new equilibrium will likely be reached via fits and splutters as the system hiccups its way to that new normal. This process will take a long time, so my main concern for humans is whether the world’s agricultural regions can keep producing the foods needed for our growing pop despite all the temp/precip extremes the fits and splutters will bring about. If we’ve got current science that answers some of these questions/ideas, I hope the promised future RC post will address them.
Report: Global warming didn’t cause big US drought
“Other scientists have linked recent changes in the jet stream to shrinking Arctic sea ice, but Hoerling and study co-author Richard Seager of Columbia University said those global warming connections are not valid.”
“This was natural variability exacerbated by global warming,” Trenberth said in an email. “That is true of all such events from the Russian heat wave of 2010, to the drought and heat waves in Australia.”
You conveniently left out:
“Another scientist though, blasted the report.
Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a federally funded university-run research center, said the report didn’t take into account the lack of snowfall in the Rockies the previous winter and how that affected overall moisture in the air. Nor did the study look at the how global warming exacerbated the high pressure system that kept the jet stream north and the rainfall away, he said.
“This was natural variability exacerbated by global warming,” Trenberth said in an email. “That is true of all such events from the Russian heat wave of 2010, to the drought and heat waves in Australia.””
On the contrary, I just quoted the part of the article which I thought contained the primary controversial statement. I think his conclusion that the drought was a “random event” is likely erroneous, but I am not an expert in the field.
Click the button below for a link to a fascinating study by Rebecca Ryals and Whendee L. Silver of UC Berkeley, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, published in ESA Journal, about the carbon sequestration potential of grasslands.
Is this more wishful thinking or is there more to this idea? This was featured on “Real Time with Bill Maher” tonight. I don’t know if anyone happened to see this or not but if you did see it, what’s your take on this as a possible solution or viable idea?
Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Apr 2013 @ 12:05 AM
I’m not skeptical about grasslands; I can see grassland propagation being a powerful restoration tool.
I started doing restoration with native grasses over 20 years ago, collecting seed where I found them on a damaged site, farming them through a few generations to increase the seed quantity, and reseeding on the site (a burnt-over mountainside that had lost a foot of topsoil in the past century and had about 3/8″ left, according to one hydrologist who looked the place over with me and some field botanists interested in restoration).
What I learned is that nature did a better job of reseeding — the ‘farmed’ seed increase worked, but the seed bank in the soil that remained and the seeds from the plants on the site survived better.
The main effort turned out to be discouraging the fast-growing annual invasive grasses the first couple of years after the fire — the Asian and European annuals produce a flat shallow broad mat of roots just under the surface that intercepts every drop of dew and captures the flush of minerals in the ash the year after the fire. But the invasive annuals are susceptible to discouragement — the trick for my site seems to be to keep them discouraged while the native perennial grasses, with a very different growth habit, get reestablished (the native perennials make deep roots first, and only begin to shade the ground around them after several years. If they get the chance to do that, they can compete with the invasives.
Discouraging invasives is tough — takes timing and luck. I tried flame weeding (‘blanching’ with a propane torch). Works great if you can be on the site right after a rainfall, at the right time of the year so the annuals have already spent their effort making seed but the seed isn’t ripe yet; wave a hot torch over the area, they turn bright green as cell walls burst, release a puff of steam — and a few hours later they fall over. Done too early, they just make more shoots and seeds; done too late, they love the fire (they’re fire-adapted) and the steam pressure shoots ripe seeds in all directions around where the fire’s burning so half of them drop onto already cooling blackened surfaces where they have no competition.
I tried feeding the soil microbes right after fires with sugar, learned that off Usenet from biologists — the invasive annuals as I said prosper right after a fire, benefiting from the flush of minerals in ash. The deep rooted perennials don’t capture that well unless the water soaks in; on a fire-damaged site runoff is the big problem. So spraying a saturated sugar water solution over the site before the first winter after it burned — so the available carbohydrate is there along with the minerals and ash — is a trick to get the soil microbes very active; they consume the sugar and the minerals and build soil; the native grasses work with that, while the annual fire-loving invasives get starved. That works better.
This ain’t easy. But it’s a heck of a lot faster than planting trees, and a perennial native understory favors tree regrowth (while accumulated fuel from invasive annuals favors annual fires).
Just my experience. Other sites, other results. But — look at the deep paleo work — look at when and where grasses evolved. They’re a force on climate.
The perennials that made the tallgrass prairie did a good job. (The site I’m working on was, in the 1800s, tall grass between tall trees, the descriptions are of riding on horseback with grasses taller than the horses’ bellies. I’ve got a few pockets where the perennials that grow for decades to a century are coming back and they do indeed get that high. They make dirt, real well.
Yeah, you can grow trees. But you can grow trees better if they’ve got a multistory shaded canopy and are growing among smaller plants that are already building soil, and that can burn cool and gracefully every decade or so in a way that clears out the fuels between the larger trees. That’s the trick.
Hm, it’s a compost article: ” a single application of composted organic matter can significantly increase grassland C storage, and that effects of a single application are likely to carry over in time.”
But why compost? What part of the compost is being used and by what organism?
Compost can mean many things, depending on the source.
“… sludge companies are allowed to take the sludge left behind in wastewater treatment plants, bag it, and sell it as an organic amendment found in garden centers and big-box stores ….” — Rodale
Arghh! someone should tell National Geographic “Titanic case closed” (Now playing on NGS channel) that the science about the reason of Titanic collision is wrongly explained, that this very science of refraction has huge implications over complementing remote sensing data gathering and the study of the sea to air interface. http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/
OK Titanic collision weather conditions were such that a refraction “water wall” hiding the Iceberg was impossible. A “water wall” mirage hiding a tall iceberg against the star horizon is extremely rare, if not cant be higher than a 68 meter above sea level iceberg a quarter of a mile away. Luckily, this poorly explained science gives a wider insight, opens the door to the science of horizontal refraction. Its complex yet simple at once,
if the air temperature is greater than open sea water, the horizon rises slightly, because sea water does not have the same thermal properties of pack or sea ice, it doesn’t cool fast like the land in a starry night . If air temperature at collision was colder than water (as the data suggests) the mirage created would be an inferior mirage, making the iceberg look bigger than it is!
So for those tired about Titanic discussions, take another look, the reason of its sinking was arrogance (like thinking us humans have nothing to do with GW), going fast in known ice fields, was incompetence rewarded by disaster. Explaining it otherwise, as NGS tries to do, is blessed by revealing a facet in science rich with methods
in unraveling the demise os Sea ice.
“…the area occupied by crevasses >2 m wide significantly increased (13 ± 4%) over the 24-year period. This increase consists of an expansion of existing crevasse fields, and is accompanied by widespread changes in crevasse orientation (up to 45°)…. We provide a first-order demonstration that moulin-type drainage is more efficient in transferring meltwater fluctuations to the subglacial system than crevasse-type drainage. As enhanced basal sliding is associated with meltwater “pulses”, an increase in crevasse extent can therefore be expected to result in a net decrease in basal sliding sensitivity. An increase in crevasse extent may also accelerate cryo-hydrologic warming and enhance surface ablation.”
#92–A dramatic example. The Danish experience had already shown that renewable use can indeed reduce total fossil fuel use, but these numbers are quite a bit more impressive. And there’s lots of potential in their case for an expansion of solar PV, which ought to afford them some diversity as a hedge against weather patterns getting ‘stuck’ in an unfavorable mode for power generation. (Dry but windless, in their case.)
Chris Dudley & Kevin McKinney — Lets keep all generating energy matters OT here on Real Climate, please. This is a poor forum for that purpose. I’ll break my own rule by pointing out how unexceptional Portugal is: http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=WA
Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Apr 2013 @ 5:25 PM
1)if deep ocean mixing time is 1e2 to 1e3 yr then deep ocean C13/C12 ratio reflects preindustrial atmospheric composition
2)as deep ocean upwells it releases CO2 upon warming to surface temperature, with different C13/C12 ratio than present day atmosphere
3)Is this detectable as a measure of deep ocean return times ?
Can any one of you knowledgable people guide me to an explantaions for the high temperatures on Svalbard in the thirties? I found an article by Rasmus and others, but they were more focused on the recent rise.
Isn’t it true that the math matches what is observed to the point where the results of Balmaseda et al are significantly weighted to the math involved in the modeling that fills in the gaps of data? Not that the results are nullified without the actual data, but that a non-zero portion of the reanalysis is self-fulfilling?
Does this mean there is a solution on the horizon? Is the West Antarctica Ice Sheet still set to collapse along with the Greenland Ice Sheet? I’m reading conflicting stories about what’s happening and can’t tell if there are any real viable solutions or hopeful signs or not. The President doesn’t seem to be taking any action toward mitigation and I’m not hearing Climate Change being discussed other than on forums like this one. Certainally not in the news media. We seem to have had a fairly normal Spring compared to last year so I’m wondering if the trend toward a warming climate is still accelerating as fast as it seemed to be in 2011?
1. James Hansen has a new paper forthcoming in RSA, finding a high climate sensitivity:
Climate Sensitivity, Sea Level, and Atmospheric CO2 by James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Gary Russell, Pushker Kharecha (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute): http://arxiv.org/abs/1211.4846
Sea level rise is till very uncertain over century timescales. The largest uncertainty is what will happen in Greenland and Antarctica. Much progress seems to be happening in ice sheet modelling in simulating the processes of disintegrating ice sheets and glaciers. Two large projects have recently been finished: the EU-led Ice2Sea project and the US-led SeaRISE (just google them). However, the question is how much confidence we can in ice sheet models. see this discussion by Stefan Rahmstorf http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/01/sea-level-rise-where-we-stand-at-the-start-of-2013-part-2/
I’m very curious about this Dr. James Hansen article. Again, I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to understanding what all this means. Is Dr. Hansen trying to walk back his predictions? Are things not as bad as what we’ve been told or are they worse? I’m really interested in human time scales vs. consequences and it’s really hard for me to determine what the next century will look like based on what I’m reading.
I would like to also point out that the vast majority of people reading this in the media are NOT scientists but highly concerned citizens with children and grandchildren. I would like to have some sort of real time assessment of our situation and what the reasonable expectations are for this century. Here’s the Dr. Hansen article reposted: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2013/20130415_Exaggerations.pdf
I realized I’ve asked this question before but in light of some new information would any of you be able to provide a dumbed down interpretation for the likes of me and people like me who don’t quite understand all of this? Thank you in advance for your patience. Chuck
There are means to avoid even that which first require the ending of coal burning and then the addition of some massive sequestration scheme, for example Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming http://www.springerlink.com/content/55436u2122u77525/
“…massive sequestration scheme, for example Irrigated afforestation…”
Seeing as how oil/coal/gas are *already* sequestered, it makes ZERO sense to un-sequester it (via producing and combustion) only to then look for ways to RE-sequester it. In other words, is’ ALREADY sequestered so we should start by just leaving the damn stuff in the ground.
“The concept of a runaway greenhouse effect was introduced by considering a highly idealized situation … appropriate for introduction of a concept…. recent studies relax some of the idealizations and are sufficient to show that Earth is not now near a runaway situation, but the idealizations are still sufficient that the studies do not provide a picture of where Earth is headed if all fossil fuels are burned ….”
Try reading it with this handy translation list (my quick take on the words)
“the concept” = worst case introduced in his earlier paper
“highly idealized” = worst case assumptions
“runaway” = millions of years
“recent studies” = others’ later work improving assumptions in his earlier paper
“relax” = improve
“some of the idealizations” = newer, perhaps better constrained assumptions
“the studies” = the aforementioned “recent studies”
“boil” = ‘… to be corrected in the next edition: even with burning of all fossil fuels the tropical ocean does not “boil”.’
The answer to your first two questions are “no” and “neither”. And your problems may be because the “Exaggerations” piece is not good writing to the point of obscuring the message. I read it as the following:-
Hansen says he has been accused of exaggerating climate sensitivity (magnitude) and of the speed of its onset. This he denies, the first with a yet-to-be-published reference (his ref 4 abstract). the second he says is people confusing the speed of climate change (slow) with the speed requirements for preventative actions (fast). He says he is also accused of “jumping the gun” in the past, of warning of man-made climate problems before the scientific evidence was established. Yet he says that in the late 1980s the evidence was there. It is more so now & we are now running out of time to take preventative action so any reticence from scientists for this message is misplaced. He describes the difference between Venus-type run-away warming which have no Earthly chance and mini-run-away events which do – although direct preventative measures are not entirely impossible – they are slower than AGW. He also considers changing climate sensitivity with high (4-8 x pre-industrial) CO2 resulting from total fossil fuel use plus PETM-type feedbacks. He describes what I call “the steam doughnut Earth” which is uninhabitable outside the high Himalayas (and I would add air con) by Hansen’s assessment.
His one retraction concerns his “Storms..” book which states incorrectly that tropical oceans would boil with total FF use.
In his Summary Discussion he talks of future work load & involvements. He also admits he failed to address fully “climate groundrush” (my words) in this paper, how we went from a future potential problem to unavoidable imminent climate problems with no intermediate step. The answer is big, think political systems, he says.
His version of “steam doughnut Earth” sound a bit more extreme than my previous understanding. The doughnut starts cooking in the tropics at +7ºC and becomes very widespread by +14ºC. Hansen talks of 10W/m^2 for his Himalaya version, which is 2.5 x 2 x CO2 forcing, so +10ºC? Would the significant increase in sensitivity discussed by Hansen (or with some juicy PETM-type feedbacks) create such an extensive “steam doughnut Earth” at +10ºC? I say, does it matter if they don’t? Both such outcomes will be entirely hypothetical for the majority of humanity.
And Hansen makes no mention of timescale for these outcomes but really the only timescale to be considered is how fast we need to reduce our emissions, not how long before we could be toasted.
Chuck Hughes wrote: “So has anything changed as far as sea level rise predictions for the end of the Century? … I’m really interested in human time scales vs. consequences and it’s really hard for me to determine what the next century will look like based on what I’m reading.”
In the time frame that you are concerned with, drought will almost certainly have a much greater impact than sea level rise — namely, the failure of agriculture all over the world and ensuing global famine.
Having said that, the sea level rise that has already occurred is sufficient to increase storm surges to levels that could force the evacuation of millions of people from vulnerable coastal cities. New York City has had a couple of close calls already.
MARodger does a great job translating Hansen’s latest communication into plain languague.
It is a matter of degrees in hell I would say.
And unfortunately the climate is an even bigger worry today, as we are far from the required emission reductions, and due to the inertia of the energy system, climate system and ice sheets.
The good news is scarce, but there have been some lately:
Maybe there is less risk of a high climate sensitivity
Maybe the Antarctic ice sheet will not shred so much ice in the next hundred years
Maybe the Amazon is not as sensitive as before.
But these are very uncertain, only from a few studies, and there are other bad news, in addition to the general picture (inertia etc):
The Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than models expected
Greenland and Antarctica is contributing ot sea level rise faster than expected.
Extreme events seem to become more common.
So. I would say that the overall outlook looks worse today than for, say 10 years ago.
The problem with lawyers: “People who have not so much as been conceived, let alone born, hypothetical people who may or may not exist no matter what happens, do not have rights, and I do not have the right to “self defense” defending grandchildren I do not have. If you insist on demanding the right to “defend” people who do not exist, we do not have common ground to meet on.”
“Therefore, we cannot do anything about GW.” We knew we had a problem with the general public. Now we know another group that is a problem. We cannot try the Koch brothers for genocide before it “happens.”
> Edward Greisch … lawyers (followed by direct quotation)
Who are you quoting? What’s the source of that?
It sounds like you’re quoting someone from before Nixon was president — which is when the Environmental Protection Agency was created, specifically to protect people not yet alive.
I’d really like to know where you got that quotation. It sounds to me like you’ve come across something someone made up to try to scare people, and fooled you into thinking it’s an actual statement of the law.
50 Lawrence Coleman says: “are these latest disasters in Australia the direct result of CC” and Tim had to say it’s impossible to say whether they are directly related because CC is such a complex issue blah blah which of course is scientifically correct
It’s not scientifically correct. Fact is, the generation of some storms must be driven by increased energy in the system. But even if we dismiss that, the magnitude of climate events is definitely impacted. So, the correct answer is, “Yes, in the sense that even if the number of storms isn’t directly affected, the location, speed and intensity of pretty much all weather events are affected by climate changes.”
I’m blanking on the name at the moment, but our eminent cliamte scientists who passed away last year made this point more than once. I agree. Stop pussyfooting around with the reality: Everything is changing because cliamte is changing. No more weasel words. The answer is YES in any sense that matters.
52 Todd Bandrowsky says: What -is- the best consensus right now for how long it would take CO2 to revert back to pre-industrial levels if we halted all emissions? I saw an online model that suggested 900 years but I don’t know at all how well vetted it is.
Irrelevant. Asking he right question is key: How quickly can we speed up sequestration using natural processes that have little risk of unintended consequences? Answer: 20 – 100 years.
50 ppm via reforestation. (Hansen)
Some fraction of that for afforestation, preferably Food Forests
50%+/yr of current emissions yearly via regenerative farming and home food production.(Rodale)
Claimed 100 ppm via grassland sequestration. (Savory and new study linked in comments somewhere above. NOTE: We used to have *meters* of soil in the our prairies, now we perhaps 1 – 2 meters in best cases.)
And all this with none of the unavoidable reduction in consumption necessitated by GHG’s and resource limits.
Simple, simple, simple to do. Sad none of this gets much serious conversation, yet people get all excited about high-risk geo-engineering.
“The most basic role of a government is to protect its citizens from dangers too large and complex for individuals to deal with on their own. Global warming is just such a danger. Any legitimate government has a duty to protect the air, the water, and all the other natural systems that sustain its people. Everyone has a right to a livable environment — the young and the old, the powerful and the voiceless, present generations and those not yet born — but runaway climate change threatens us all.”
“… At least five international treaties and three declarations
refer to future generations.
Domestic laws, such as those in the United States, also often recognize the
interest of future generations. For example, at least eight U.S. federal statutes make specific reference to the protection of the environment for future as well as present generations. At least four U.S. state constitutions and five state statutes similarly reference such interests….
… Numerous legal sources establish a duty for present generations to act. Some sources specifically recognize the existence of rights of future generations….”
Details are in the footnotes at the link. This is just one example found with a few seconds’ searching online, not the best or newest reference.
My attention is drawn by Mr. Bob Everett at skepticalscience to Byalko(2012)
Phys. Usp. 55(1) 103-108 (2012), where he teases out a 40Kyr period from a very simple model and analysis of the last 780Kyr Antarctic core. (An earlier paper available in English at Doklady Physics, 2010, Vol. 55, No. 4, pp. 168–171, contains some analysis of stability regimes based on temperature data from the instrumental record, but i like the 2012 paper more…)
This reminds me of Saltzman’s work, for some reason. See, e.g. Saltzman and Verbistsky,Paleoceanography, Vol 9 Issue 6, (1994)
Is it my imagination or have my Google Alerts for Global Warming become a lot more like our opinion over the past year or so?
25 July 2009: “Why people are cool to global warming”
18 August 2011: “Some say global warming is a hoax.”
28 April 2012: “Iowa Corn Market Expected to Stuggle [sic] Because of Global Warming”
21 April 2013: “Research backs global warming theory: Financial Times”
NOT a scientific sample. Just my non-random picks. I happened to look at Google Alerts for Global Warming yesterday and today after a long pause. They seem different, like we are winning. Are we?
Comment by Edward Greisch — 22 Apr 2013 @ 12:31 AM
Ocean heat content studies find that global warming has accelerated in recent years – for example, Levitus 2012 finds a rise in OHC of around 10^23 Joules over the last decade, twice that of the previous decade.
At the same time, the growth rate of CO₂ forcing has declined slightly – i.e. we are putting more CO₂ into the atmosphere, but the airborne fraction has declined, so the CO₂ forcing hasn’t been rising quite as steeply since about 1990. This means that the net climate forcing, according to GISS, hasn’t risen since about 2000 –
We know that the existing planetary energy imbalance will cause continuing warming for many decades due to ocean thermal inertia, but we wouldn’t expect warming to be *accelerating* if the climate forcing hasn’t increased for 13 years. That’s a puzzle, it seems to me.
One explanation could be that the acceleration in OHC accumulation isn’t real. Another could be that it’s real, and that additional natural positive feedbacks have been kicking in to accelerate the warming despite the known forcings being level for 13 years. A third explanation might be that we have overestimated the negative forcing from atmospheric aerosols – since this is largely assumed or estimated rather than measured, perhaps it’s not been offsetting the greenhouse gas forcing as much as expected in recent years, meaning that GISS are underestimating the net climate forcing.
I don’t know what the answer is, but it seems like an interesting question, and one I haven’t seen addressed anywhere.
Icarus said: “At the same time, the growth rate of CO₂ forcing has declined slightly – i.e. we are putting more CO₂ into the atmosphere, but the airborne fraction has declined, so the CO₂ forcing hasn’t been rising quite as steeply since about 1990. This means that the net climate forcing, according to GISS, hasn’t risen since about 2000 -“
The left is straight response, and the right side includes outgassing of CO2 based on the temperature. This adds noise due to the yearly temperature fluctuations.
The fraction is holding steady around 0.55 or 55%.
I’m always surprised that the estimated CO2 emissions from changing land use aren’t included in CO2 airborne fraction calculations. Unlike FF & cement emissions, land use emissions haven’t risen but instead are shown in decline, so as well as reducing the fraction to 43% or so, it also has a slight inclination up rather than down.
“Mother Nature’s face is not aging slowly or gracefully, the wrinkles and scars caused by accumulating greenhouse gases are already visible. The good news? Extreme weather is also chiseling fissures and gaping holes in the climate deniers’ bunker, leaving a crumbling foundation for their arguments. Moving on, it’s time to prepare for the unusual weather ahead that is likely to become usual.” So writes Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers in her short essay for Earth Day 2013, “The Changing Face of Mother Nature.” Dr. Francis’ piece is part of a special Earth Day 2013 microsite
I try to stay away from these, but it’s too good a humdinger to hone:
Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Apr 2013 @ 10:36 AM
Once again, I’d like to call attention to Sharon Astyk’s excellent blog. She has an enviable ability to cut through the crap. If you think “Earth Day” is just an opportunity to greenwash the root of the problem, then you’ll appreciate Why I hate Earth Day.
“Solar power produced 100% of new energy on U.S. grid in March.”
A much more interesting metric would be how much coal and oil fired energy was removed from the grid or replaced by renewables. Additions to the amount of energy consumed from any source is a step backward.
Then you scroll down and read the inane, stupid comments from some of the posters and you realize why we’re in serious trouble. This is what frustrates the hell out of me. And the stupid comments out number the smart ones 10 to 1. So what do you do?????
I was surprised by the “roughly 5 million years” quote at USA TODAY as the time since we last saw 400-ppm CO2 – 3.5 million is the usual number I encounter.
The USA TODAY quote is actually a translation of “probably the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago” which is how Scripps News describe it.
I have had occasion to argue how “probable” a Pliocene 400-ppm is. The alternative is a Miocene date at some 14 million years ago. I would argue that the evidence points to the 14 million years being more likely. And more impressive.
Comments need to be judged carefully, since the deniers are on record to use sock puppets – automated bots posting ad hominem and shit like that. Secondly when you have a minority, these are often very vocal. But judging from some comments i think most are motivated through denier actions, because you can not argue on a rational basis.
Also make sure to check the Whitehouse link from said article and read the rest of Donilon’s speech.
Like many atmospheric phenomenons such as hurricanes and tornadoes, SSW events exist on a continuum of size, intensity and effect, even though from the largest to the smallest, they all share a basic set of features, namely:
1) They primarily take place during the Northern Hemisphere winter. Small and infrequent SSW’s do occur over the south pole, but, as you’ll see, there are precise reasons why they are mainly a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon, displaying yet one more reason why the planet is biased toward the advection of energy toward the North Pole versus the South Pole (but more on this later).
2) They cause a rapid rise in stratospheric temperatures over extreme northern latitudes.
3) They cause a rapid rise in stratosphere pressure over the extreme northern latitudes.
4) They cause some level of wind pattern disturbance over the pole, with the larger ones displacing, disrupting, or outright destroying the polar vortex. http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/04/sudden-stratospheric-warmings-causes-effects.html
Question: I have been struggling to understand regarding ocean warming and El Nino/La Nina events. If ~90% of the “missing” heat over the last 15-years or so is going into the ocean (helping to explain the somewhat flat global air temperature curve), how is it that we keep having so many La Nina (cooler ocean) years, recently? This has puzzled me lately.
I get that this heat energy is manifesting as more frequent/more intense storms, but I keep expecting a wicked strong El Nino year to happen with significant air temperature increases that help some folks to understand our trajectory in a more meaningful way. Any thoughts are appreciated.
Rethinking Early Atmospheric Oxygen: Possibility of More Dynamic Biological Oxygen Cycle On Early Earth Than Previously Supposed http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424185213.htm
Sometimes research removes older interpretations. That’s what happened here and the age of the great oxidation event could be quite a bit older than textbooks claim.
Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Apr 2013 @ 6:28 PM
> great oxidation event …
(about sulfur isotopes in the paleo record persisting through several cycles of erosion-uplift-erosion, so being poorer than had been thought for dating oxygen in the atmosphere, as I read it
Does this suggest any change in what we think we know about the anoxic events Peter Ward has been writing about?
Recently, I have been thinking about the state of our country and how to make it more secure. We are not on a path for sustainable growth in our economic, fiscal or environmental sectors. As The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman argued in his most recent column, we need to invest in the future of the United States through infrastructure improvement, education and national security measures. Yet the federal government remains handcuffed to achieve these efforts due to the state of the economy and the national deficit.
In honor of Earth Week, I am suggesting a “green” solution to our nation’s current financial problems. Ladies and gentleman, it’s time for a carbon tax. This flat rate would tax all carbon emissions from industries ranging from oil to manufacturing. I am not the first person to proclaim a carbon tax as a solution to current environmental and fiscal problems, but it’s an idea worth talking about. http://dailynorthwestern.com/2013/04/23/opinion/kamel-its-time-for-a-carbon-tax/
I’m not convinced commenting is a useful activity (speaking as one who does it a lot) on sites that are heavily populated with deniers. They are so tricky, and have so many different ways of attacking the person rather than the information that it can backfire. But if you do, be careful not to provide any personal surface for the arrows to stick. It’s not just sock puppets, and it is indeed to despair at the many who are unwilling to recognize real expertise and ignore the sciencey looking stuff that is without substance.
Our schools seem to have failed to train people to think and evaluate for themselves. I lack maths, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to follow someone just because they look clever. Admitting ignorance is a good place to start but people have been so well trained in faking they don’t even know they’re doing it. Critical thinking should include the ability to evaluate relative levels of expertise without knowing the whole thing yourself.
As one who suffers from SIWOTI (Someone Is Wrong On The Internet) syndrome, I often find myself commenting on sites where stupid is measured by the metric shite tonne. I do so not for the benefit of the stupid–hell, these are the same frat boys who were too stupid to understand the “No” means no back in college–but rather for the lurkers and the uncertain. I post a concise refutation of the BS, perhaps a bit of ridicule of the ridiculous and a link to Realclimate, Tamino’s Open Mind or Skeptical Science, wherever there is an effective refutation. Then it’s up to them. Of course, this will be attacked by ad hominem–it’s all the denialists have. However, all I know to do is direct the potentially curious soul to where actual facts and logic await them. If they can’t tell these from BS and logical fallacy, I have to seriously question whether we want them on our side in any case.
Thanks Ray, I agree, it’s for the lurkers. And with my limitations, I try to point past myself. But … the point I have been hammering away at is a kind of reverse epistemology (Tobis and PW got me going on this).
It is OK to not know. It is not OK to pretend one knows what one does not. We all rely on expertise. It is possible for someone who does not know to tell the difference between expertise and hot air, especially with a little “research”. The hot air fades.
Speaking of same, this happened yesterday (believe me, you are better off not checking the webcast, but it’s there). I hear they didn’t even get Dr. Chameides’ credentials right in their eagerness to bury real climate science.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)
Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-Utah)
Witnesses (all “Truth in Testimony”)
Dr. Judith Curry, Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. William Chameides, Dean and Professor, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
Dr. Bjørn Lomborg, President, Copenhagen Consensus Center
oh no, must mention captcha again: ngjuddi cakes (how did they know)
[Response: Folks might want to check out this Huffington Post Live Earth Day panel discussion I participated in earlier this week along w/ Lomborg. He regurgitated the same flawed inactionist talking points there. I was having none of it. -mike]
You mentioned fracked gas as a bridge fuel to be used for 10-20 years. Frankly, I don’t see how that is physically possible. What use for gas can you come up with which doesn’t essentially require said use for 40-80 years? Are you advocating building tremendously expensive pipelines and power plants and then tossing them in the dumpster almost as soon as they’re built? I can’t imagine that scenario being anything but a carbon bomb and a money pit to boot.
Jim Larsen @162.
I heard the same ‘mention’ but also noted the comments at the end of the discussion where Dr Mann makes clear that just replacing one fossil fuel with another is no solution and that timely adoption of renewables is essential.
One thought from the discussion was the lack of mention of the most cost-effective way to cut emissions which is efficiency savings.
Another was the 450ppm comment that didn’t make much of a splash. I think such comment needs prepared “add-ons” to make a bigger splash. Would it be better if it was “…450ppm which we will exceed in 24 years at present emission rates. Emissions won’t be stopped overnight, not now, not in 24 years time. So we desperately need emission cuts today not tomorrow.”
What is the general scientific consensus on this? I keep reading articles like this one and it makes me wonder…are we cooling down? Where do you go to for proof that all the heat is going into the deep ocean instead of the atmosphere? Is this something we KNOW is happening or just suspect is happening? Do scientists believe this is a temporary situation or will we have a severe El Nino event as happened in 1998 …or are there other possibilities?
We went from severe drought in the upper Mississippi River region to severe flooding in the space of a few months. We’ve always had droughts and floods but would this situation be considered due in part to Climate Change? We keep seeing weird weather events on a consistent basis and I assume it is due in part to Climate Change but I don’t know.
Again, I’m not a scientist, just a “Joe Average” citizen but because I say a lot about Climate Change I also get a lot of flack from friends and even family so I’m looking for a way to respond to the Yahoo’s in my neighborhood. Thanks
[Response: I think the Skeptical Science post that is linked (here) within that article explains it quite well, and links to published work providing the evidence you ask about regarding the ocean. As for “wierd weather”, in general, no, that isn’t “due to global warming”. Average warming of the planet over the last century increases the probability of extremes but occasional weird weather sometimes just happens to happen. And remember that one’s own personal experience with climate is a very local and relatively short experience — it really can’t be used as any sort of guide (unless you live in the Arctic, in which case the melting sea ice is pretty hard to miss). –eric]
It’s a tough row to hoe, but one possibility is to invoke High School. Everyone remembers the Science Nerds. They were pimply and awkward and didn’t even know how to lie (which is probably the very best social tool).
So ask your doubters to rationalize these truth-telling dorks who cared little or nothing about IMPORTANT things like money and whatnot and would tell the truth even if it meant no-date-to-the-prom, with their supposed future as money-grubbing liars.
Working on a digital magazine and looking for content. If somebody likes to contribute an article, thoughts, feedback, etc contact climateprogressworldATgmail.com Distribution on climatestate.com and possibly in app stores later.
They gather and model a wide variety of research results scattered among many journals and argue that humans used land more extensively than people have generally thought.
“Human use of land has transformed ecosystem pattern and process across most of the terrestrial biosphere, a global change often described as historically recent and potentially catastrophic for both humanity and the biosphere. Interdisciplinary paleoecological, archaeological, and historical studies challenge this view, indicating that land use has been extensive and sustained for millennia in some regions and that recent trends may represent as much a recovery as an acceleration….”
This is delighgtfully multidisciplinary, with authors from 4 counties and a set of references that I cannot imagine any one person naturally reading, given the journal spread.
This looks like further evidence for Bill Ruddiman’s Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis, as one of the concerns was that early civilizations weren’t big enough. This says that agriculture was much less intense, so per capita use of land was higher. Put another way, there has not been a truly “natural” climate for a long time.