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  1. N. Scafetta produced another of his “the planets drive climate change” papers (?), this time in the highly reputable Earth Science Reviews journal. Sad. Although probably addressed many times before, I hope you guys find some time to file an “official” rebuttal?

    Comment by gws — 2 Sep 2013 @ 8:38 AM

  2. I would be interested in an honest discussion revolving around the many recent observations that contradict climate modeling methodologies and mechanisms. For instance, last week’s paper in Nature Climate Change (Fyfe, Gillet, and Zwyers, link below), illustrates how inaccurate the predictions have been over the past 20 years, and offers a number of mechanisms that may have been modeled or neglected inappropriately. Given the significance of the upcoming IPCC report and the equivalent significance of recent observations and work which may not be included in this report, a discussion of modeling paradigms, and usefulness is necessary, I think.

    [Response: Conflating a model-observation mismatch with a ‘contradiction of climate modeling methodologies and mechanisms’ is a huge (and unjustified) leap. But this issue requires a little more explanation than I can over in a comment. Wait for the post. – gavin]

    Comment by AJ — 2 Sep 2013 @ 8:39 AM

  3. Given the disastrous state of national politics, it seems a shame to waste hurricane names on politicians.

    Congressional aides and science advisors who morph into lobbyists seem equally deserving, and ll manner of phenomena might be rechristened in their honor.

    Retreating glaciers,for instance, leave behind Morano Moraines .

    Comment by Russell — 2 Sep 2013 @ 9:49 AM

  4. Is there any information on what was happening to deep ocean temperatures from the mid 1940s to the mid 70s? Obviously, what I’m wondering is if there’s any connection between the surface cooling during that period and the current minimal surface warming.

    Comment by Ed Davies — 2 Sep 2013 @ 9:55 AM

  5. Back in 2008 Ray took apart a modeling effort by Spencer based on only natural variation.
    One of the lines of discussion had to do with heat turnover in the ocean compartment.

    “Lesson Two: Use a completely unrealistic mixed layer depth. OK, so we’ve goosed up the amplitude of the temperature signal to where it looks more impressive, but the wild interannual swings in temperature look completely unlike the real thing. What to do about that? This brings us to the issue of mixed layer depth. The mixed layer depth determines the response time of the model, since a deeper mixed layer has more mass and takes longer to heat up, all other things being equal. The actual ocean mixed layer has a depth on the order of 50 meters. That’s why we got such large amplitude and high frequency fluctuations in the previous graph. What value does Roy use for the mixed layer depth? One kilometer. To be sure, on the centennial scale, some heat does get buried several hundred meters deep in the ocean, at least in some limited parts of the ocean. However, to assume that all radiative imbalances are instantaneously mixed away to a depth of 1000 meters is oceanographically ludicrous.”

    Since we are now attributing with good evidence surface temperature progress to distribution of heat from 700 to 2000 meters, should we revise this section of the analysis to correspond? I suspect the wild interannual swings are nonsense whether the heat stays at the surface or there are episodic deep mixing from wind and ENSO, but I don’t have the skills to go after this.

    Comment by Dave123 — 2 Sep 2013 @ 10:08 AM

  6. Whoa there Gavin. I agree that this topic is too broad to cover in a comment, and I’m happy to await a post; but your statement simply has to be false on the face if it.

    Speaking very generally (i.e. across all of science, not just climate modelling), a model-observation mismatch arising from a properly designed experiment is absolutely crucial to address, since it bears directly on the ‘correctness’ of a hypothesis/theory. Frankly, it’s the only thing of any importance that bears on said theory. Thanks to Google it’s easy to find the relevant quote from Feynman:

    It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.

    [Response: Read up on Quine and the issue of auxiliary hypotheses. In practice, all theories are ‘wrong’ (as they are imperfect models of reality), and all tests involve multiple hypotheses. Judging which one (or more) are falsified by a mismatch is non-trivial. I have no problem agreeing that mismatches should be addressed, but wait for the post. – gavin]

    Comment by Watcher — 2 Sep 2013 @ 10:38 AM

  7. Levitus et al., GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L10603, doi:10.1029/2012GL051106, 2012

    has ocean heat content to 2000m since the late 50s

    Comment by sidd — 2 Sep 2013 @ 10:49 AM

  8. Thanks sidd, that’s paywalled but the main graph is reproduced in

    Seems that the oceans were losing heat in the mid to late 1960s which surprises me.

    Comment by Ed Davies — 2 Sep 2013 @ 11:29 AM

  9. I recently added

    The so called self-preservation phenomenon has been intensively studied by Russian geologists starting in the late 1980s.[11] This metastable clathrate state can be a basis for release events of methane excursions, such as during the interval of the last glacial maximum.[12] A study from 2010 concluded with the possibility for a trigger of abrupt climate warming based on metastable methane clathrates in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) region


    Hank and others, do you have something to add or a suggestion to make? This is currently filed under “Related mechanism: dissolved methane release”. Further could the article be improved in other parts.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 2 Sep 2013 @ 11:55 AM

  10. I just looked at the nature study (linked #2), this appears to further explain the deep ocean heat content observation through ARGO.

    A new study published on May 10, 2013 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters has discovered that deep ocean waters below 700 meters (2,300 feet) have heated up unexpectedly since the year 2000.


    Which corresponds with the subsiding of the El Nino phenomenon 98/99. Link

    Comment by prokaryotes — 2 Sep 2013 @ 12:27 PM

  11. Gavin,

    I think we are in violent agreement :-). My use of quotes around ‘correctness’ alludes to the same metaphysical interpretation of theories as your use of quotes around ‘wrong’; i.e. none are strictly correct, and thus all are strictly wrong. I guess I’m just a glass half full kind of guy, and interpret ‘correct’ as meaning ‘useful to predict things in the real world’.

    [Response: Ah. Being “correct” in my definition is very different from being “useful”. I’m a strong proponent of the latter despite the absence of the former. – gavin]

    Comment by Watcher — 2 Sep 2013 @ 12:28 PM

  12. Re- Comment by Ed Davies — 2 Sep 2013 @ 11:29 AM

    Free PDF here-


    Comment by Steve Fish — 2 Sep 2013 @ 1:00 PM

  13. Thanks Steve, here is a quick post based on the recent papers and OHC.

    Money quote’s

    even if greenhouse gas emissions were halted today than regardless of the residence time of the carbon dioxide in today’s atmosphere, the ocean would continue to heat the atmosphere

    Heat may have been stored at ocean depths exceeding 2000 m during the observational period we are studying and may be of significance for earth’s heat balance.
    We have estimated an increase of 24 x 10^22J representing a volume mean warming of 0.09C of the 0–2000 m layer of the World Ocean. If this heat were instantly transferred to the lower 10 km of the global atmosphere it would result in a volume mean warming of this atmospheric layer by approximately 36C (65F).</blockquote

    Comment by prokaryotes — 2 Sep 2013 @ 2:15 PM

  14. > prokaryotes … a study from 2010
    You continue to cite this same 2010 article
    Science 5 March 2010:
    Vol. 327 no. 5970 pp. 1246-1250
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1182221
    as though it documented rather than assumed the possibility of a problem.
    That paper says that someone should go look into the possibility.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Sep 2013 @ 3:22 PM

  15. > prokaryotes … a study from 2010
    You continue to cite this same 2010 article
    Science 5 March 2010:
    Vol. 327 no. 5970 pp. 1246-1250
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1182221
    as though it documented rather than assumed the possibility of a problem.
    That paper says that someone should go look into the possibility.

    Specifically from the supplement:
    “hydrate destabilization causes transformation of solid CH4 crystals into free gas fraction which is accompanied with increase in volume up to 150-200 times.”

    Assuming there is a shallow hydrate, they then say, well, if so ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Sep 2013 @ 4:34 PM

  16. Is it just me, or do the deniers wait for the new unforced variation thread to come out each month, so that they can get their talking points in among the very first comments? Well, if it is just my imagination, it won’t be for long, now that I’ve given them this idea.

    Comment by Doug — 2 Sep 2013 @ 4:43 PM

  17. Maybe the answer to my question about the new paper by Kosaka and Xie (2013, Nature, doi:10.1038/nature12534) will be obvious to an expert.

    How do exactly do Kosaka and Xie fix their sea surface temperatures? The paper says that they adjust the sensible heat flux, which as I understand it is the energy transferred by (convection and) conduction from the sea surface to the atmosphere. That sounds OK.

    My question is what they do with this flux? When the SST must be cooler than the models would otherwise show is the heat from the sensible flux ‘disappeared’ or is it retained in the atmosphere? Or is something else happening?

    I guess that if the flux is ‘disappeared’ that would suggest that the true process maybe something like storage of heat in the ocean. If the heat is retained in the atmosphere I’m surprised there is such a strong cooling effect.

    Comment by Joe — 2 Sep 2013 @ 6:16 PM


    “…just because something’s in a crap journal, doesn’t mean it’s crap; I’ve published lots of papers in unselective, low-prestige outlets. But it’s certainly no surprise if a paper published in a low-grade journal happens to be crap. They publish the things nobody else will touch.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Sep 2013 @ 7:08 PM

  19. I don’t know whether this will help you Joe, but John Gammon wrote this analysis of Kosaka:

    good luck!

    Comment by Dave123 — 2 Sep 2013 @ 7:31 PM

  20. Joe, there is no end to the tricksiness of industrial-strength falsehood. We just have to soldier on and ignore it afaik. Reacting just makes it worse.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 2 Sep 2013 @ 8:35 PM

  21. Gone?

    The requested resource
    is no longer available on this server and there is no forwarding address. Please remove all references to this resource.


    Is there a replacement?

    [Response: – gavin]

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 2 Sep 2013 @ 9:47 PM

  22. Estimating northern polar CH4 flux

    I collected some interesting papers, as always constructive feedback is welcome.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 3 Sep 2013 @ 2:27 AM

  23. Interesting analysis of the new RCPs, by Dave Cohen. I have to agree with him and think there are even more assumptions in there that are unwarranted, or at least unvalidated, like the amount of coal, natural gas and oil that are available (at required extraction rates) to produce some of the emissions projections for some or all of the pathways. But the notion that economic growth can keep rising to 2100 under all emissions scenarios is a humdinger.

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 3 Sep 2013 @ 5:10 AM

  24. Tony Weddle wrote: “But the notion that economic growth can keep rising to 2100 under all emissions scenarios is a humdinger.”

    “Economic growth” is a content-free term.

    “Growth” of what?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 3 Sep 2013 @ 9:29 AM

  25. A new paper is apparently out on the Younger Dryas question. Not a lot of detail, and no link to the actual paper, but a place to start for those interested:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 Sep 2013 @ 9:32 AM

  26. Hank Roberts, in the previous UV thread, linked to John Nielsen-Gammon’s discussion of the new Kosaka and Xie paper: Learning from the Hiatus. Reading N-G’s follow-up post, I had an “Aha!” moment:

    Still, even the tropical and subtropical Pacific together constitutes a fairly small fraction of the globe. For the rest of the story, please see one of my favorite underappreciated climate papers: Compo and Sardeshmukh (2009). They showed that global land surface temperatures have warmed not as a direct response to increased Tyndall gases and other local radiative forcing agents, but instead in response to changing sea surface temperatures. The warm ocean heats the air above it, which eventually moves over land, but also pumps water vapor into the atmosphere, and the water vapor is the primary agent altering the radiative balance over land. So the chain of events is radiative forcing –> ocean temperatures –> water vapor –> land temperatures.

    That’s the first time I’ve seen land surface warming explained that way. Has it been so stated on RealClimate before, and I missed it?

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 3 Sep 2013 @ 10:08 AM

  27. Where does this image come from originally, anyone recognize it?

    I’m looking for one with a caption showing depth below sea level marked on the vertical axis (and some discussion) — missing in the copies I’ve found with the linked image search

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Sep 2013 @ 11:48 AM

  28. I guess this goes under the title of usual distractions, but since you asked so politely and since its suddenly in the news again and I have spent (or wasted) another day or two looking at this, I thought I would update you on what I know about the Younger Dryas and/or Impact.

    Andrew Madden et al. have an abstract in the upcoming GSA where they claim that not only are the nanodiamonds viable quantifiable proxies, they spike in abundance at the Younger Dryas boundary and occur occasionally in lesser amounts in the record, and then reappear as a background in recent times. So far so good. Then the recent spherule analysis reveals a composition that could put it very near Corossol. I have discovered that the n-diamond that Madden and folks find in abundance are a relatively new development and represent a hydrogen doped variant which is easily catalyzed by hydroxylated iron and nickel at temperatures above 1000 C. So what is required is a source of iron and nickel, water or ice, and either a carbonaceous body or some limestone. They further claim the spherules put the impact very near Corossol crater in Quebec, and this crater does indeed have a limestone basement. So I further speculate that the spherules, which seem to be very sparse, could represent glacial erratic boulders and rock flour heated and quenched by the impact since the area was at the very edge of the ice sheet at the time. Amazingly a carbonaceaous impact into a thick ice sheet could presumably also do this (as in Black Sturgeon River in the Nipigon basin), but I am still putting that hypothesis on the side unless further quantifications increase the scale of this event vastly. Clearly also Corossol crater could not necessarily cause the Younger Dryas, but it was going to happen anyway as we know Glacial Lake Agassiz to Gulf of Mexico discharge stopped at 13 ka BP and so it is possible to theorize an event like this, even more so if it hit an ice sheet first, could trigger the even through possibly positive sea ice feedback with weak atmospheric anomalies over a few years or a decade, and those effects including ozone could have put additional stresses on already at risk megafauna.

    I do hope that puts things in a better perspective.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 3 Sep 2013 @ 1:07 PM


    somewhat of a concern burning methane if it is indeed a success.

    Comment by pete best — 3 Sep 2013 @ 1:58 PM

  30. Memo to self:-)

    At Andrew Gelman’s blog on research and statistics, a developing discussion continues to be interesting: Evaluating evidence from published research
    While the examples are from social science, the thinking is relevant to discussion about climate, and about the need to think hard before reblogging.

    You can lend your credibility to others’ work
    You can reduce your own credibility by reblogging without weighing evidence.

    Like heat, credibility flows both ways.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Sep 2013 @ 2:22 PM

  31. for Mal:
    Try this yourself at home:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Sep 2013 @ 3:40 PM

  32. Hank, the image is from this 2010 slide.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 3 Sep 2013 @ 3:58 PM

  33. Re: 23 Mal Adapted said, Hank Roberts, in the previous UV thread, linked to John Nielsen-Gammon’s discussion of the new Kosaka and Xie paper: Learning from the Hiatus. Reading N-G’s follow-up post, I had an “Aha!” moment:

    Still, even the tropical and subtropical Pacific together constitutes a fairly small fraction of the globe. For the rest of the story, please see one of my favorite underappreciated climate papers: Compo and Sardeshmukh (2009). They showed that global land surface temperatures have warmed not as a direct response to increased Tyndall gases and other local radiative forcing agents, but instead in response to changing sea surface temperatures. The warm ocean heats the air above it, which eventually moves over land, but also pumps water vapor into the atmosphere, and the water vapor is the primary agent altering the radiative balance over land. So the chain of events is radiative forcing –> ocean temperatures –> water vapor –> land temperatures.

    That’s the first time I’ve seen land surface warming explained that way. Has it been so stated on RealClimate before, and I missed it?

    This is an excellent insight and, at least intuitively, makes sense given the heat content of water and the hydrological cycle. Fits well with the deep ocean info coming out the last year or two.

    If other researches support this outcome, it’s a perfect explanation for the silly “pause” discussion.

    Comment by Killian — 3 Sep 2013 @ 3:59 PM

  34. Re Methane Hydrate feasibility

    The so called japan breakthrough

    From June to July, the pressured core samples were acquired from methane hydrate layers. In this operation, a flow test through dissociation of methane hydrate was begun on March 12 after the preparatory works including drilling and installing equipments. JOGMEC has been conducting gas production until now.
    However, it ended the flow test today on March 18 since changes in well situation, including tentative malfunction of the pump to draw water for depressurization and simultaneous increase in sand production, have been seen and a rough weather was forecasted.

    An older article:

    “When the temperature rises or the pressure drops, one cubic foot of methane hydrate ice can release 160 cubic feet of gas,” he explains. “Forces from methane hydrate dissociation have been blamed for a damaging shift in a drilling rig’s foundation, causing a loss of $100 million. Oil and gas drilling companies are more interested in protecting their drilling equipment than harvesting the hydrates as an energy resource, at least for the next 10 years.”


    I don’t have the news now but at least 1 company (starting with the letter G – not Gazprom) stopped methane hydrate exploration, i think this is all hype and risky.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 3 Sep 2013 @ 4:07 PM

  35. SecularAnimist, “economic growth” means growth of the economy, usually measured by GDP, as given in the RCPs.

    It is a big assumption that GDP can continue to grow through 2100, and a rapid rate of growth for RCP2.6. Economic growth is difficult enough now, with some resources nearing the state of being scarce. With that and with climate change causing plenty of damage (both ecologically and economically) over the next decades, economic growth at all seems like a huge assumption. But I guess it’s a way to sell RCP2.6.

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 4 Sep 2013 @ 4:42 AM

  36. This is just in the news…

    Japan’s energy savior?

    Revised estimates, based on data collected over the last year and released last week, say there are massive deposits of methane hydrate below the Sea of Japan. These will be easier to reach than most gas deposits as they are located close to the seabed surface, officials say. Methane hydrates are believed to collect along geological fault lines, and Japan sits atop a nexus of three of the world’s largest deposits.

    “Although methane is a cleaner-burning fossil fuel than coal or oil, the as-yet untapped methane hydrates represent ‘captured’ greenhouse gasses that some believe should remain locked under the sea. The mining of methane ice could also wreak havoc on marine ecosystems.”

    Yamamoto disagrees that there is any danger of such blowouts or major environmental damage — although a small methane hydrate blowout was linked to the BP spill in the Gulf. Larger releases of methane from clathrate beds throughout history, known as the actions of a “Clathrate gun,” have been responsible for mass extinction events.

    Researchers do not agree on the risks associated with methane hydrate exploration for commercial energy use. Oceanographer and Rice University professor Gerald Dickens agrees with the Japanese research team, arguing that there is little danger of such catastrophes coming from human action.

    “The only potential issue in regards to drilling would be if there is greatly over-pressured gas immediately beneath the gas hydrate,” Dickens says. “However, there is growing belief and rationale to suggest that this cannot occur in nature. So, as far as drilling is concerned, there should be no issue.”

    Tim Collett of the United States Geological Survey, a leading expert on methane hydrate, believes it is possible that both natural and human induced changes can lead to hydrate destabilization, triggering catastrophic landslides.

    “Evidence implicating gas hydrates in triggering seafloor landslides has been found along the Atlantic Ocean margin of the United States and off northern Europe,” he told the U.S. Congress in 2004. “These processes may release large volumes of methane to the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere.”


    Comment by prokaryotes — 4 Sep 2013 @ 9:24 AM

  37. Hank, thanks. I knew all the underlying physics, I just never put it together like that. Now that I have, it’s obvious 8^}!

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 4 Sep 2013 @ 11:05 AM

  38. Just a quick update on the presumed YD impact, Andrew Madden has quantified nanodiamonds in recent sediments and they appear to be viable impact proxies, huge amounts of n-diamond at the YD boundary. n-diamond is a relatively recent development, hydrogen doped and synthesized in large quantities by hydroxylated iron and nickel catalysts in the presence of carbon, and Corossol has a limestone basement. So I’m calling it. And if that doesn’t work out or if they require something even larger, they still do have a viable ‘Plan B’ – the Black Sturgeon River basin.

    Unless something changes dramatically, I’m finished with this thing.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 4 Sep 2013 @ 12:53 PM

  39. “…methane hydrate exploration, i think this is all hype and risky.”

    Japan produced 4 million cubic feet in their 1st production run at twice the projected rate.

    Do you mean economically risky? This is government not private research at this point. Japan thinks the status quo where they produce only about 1/1000 of the liquid fuels is risky for a nation state.

    Comment by Tom Adams — 4 Sep 2013 @ 2:57 PM

  40. Anybody having checked what Svensmark has been up to lately?{ABB2F1B4-F5F7-4452-BB39-9818EA7CB8F9}

    Any comment?

    Comment by 0^0 — 4 Sep 2013 @ 3:09 PM

  41. Kevin McKinney @25 & Thomas Lee Elifritz @28&38 — Thank you. It certainly looks like there was a Clovis Impactor.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Sep 2013 @ 10:47 PM

  42. West Antarctica Ice Sheet Existed 20 Million Years Earlier Than Previously Thought
    which resolves a ice mass discrepancy.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Sep 2013 @ 10:50 PM

  43. Thomas Lee Elifritz:
    In today’s email.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Sep 2013 @ 12:54 AM

  44. Re Unforced Variations #446 last month:

    Thank you, Mike.
    I have your “Dispatches” book.

    I’m hoping people will get more involved in, for example, the Comments or Discussion online for many news articles. Some statements are made by the other side that look like they would be easily refuted or debunked by somebody knowledgeable.

    Comment by AIC — 5 Sep 2013 @ 2:10 AM

  45. I mean it is not feasible because of economical and environmental reasons.

    Environmental risks: excessive methane and landslides pose serious questions – Before full-scale production of methane hydrates can begin, studies must also be carried out to analyse risks such as the destabilisation of the sea floor, which could cause underwater landslides, and potential greenhouse gas leaks.

    Many geologists believe that the wrong drilling method could destabilise the seabed, causing vast amounts of sediment to slide miles down the continental slope, devastating marine life and even leading to deadly tsunamis. JOGMEC’s engineers used a depressurisation method to extract methane gas from hydrates earlier this year by setting an electric submersible pump in a drilled hole and bringing the water to the surface to decrease hydro-static pressure.

    Another key environmental concern for producing methane hydrates is the potential for greenhouse gas leaks. A report by the Climate Energy Institute in 2012 notes that methane itself is a greenhouse gas which is 100 times more damaging than carbon dioxide, and scientific studies are showing that the gas has already started to “bubble and hiss” out of oceans and soils in the Arctic, leaking into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.

    Japan hopes commercial quantities of methane gas from hydrates will be produced from 2018, but the feasibility of extracting the fuel is still at a very early stage of development.


    Reservoir simulation for gas hydrates does not yet accurately incorporate advanced geomechanics concepts. Thus, one risk factor that remains to be assessed is the potential for gas migrating away from a dissociating, high saturation gas hydrate deposit to find an existing fracture or to cause a new fracture to form in an overlying, relatively impermeable layer. Such a scenario might lead to unintended leakage of methane into other sediments or even emission of methane at the surface (Rutqvist and Moridis, 2010).


    While Canada has decided it isn’t feasible to make further investments in the field, methane hydrate research is strategic for Japan. Exploiting the abundant methane hydrate deposits near its coast would allow Japan to end its foreign energy dependency, with enough recoverable gas to meet its power demands for 100 years.

    Japanese researchers are working toward establishing commercial extraction operations for some of these deposits by 2019.


    Archer et al. 2009

    The steady-state inventory of methane in both global models exhibits a similar sensitivity to uniform offsets of the temperature of the ocean, as did its predecessor model (3). A warming of 3 °C is sufficient to reduce the steady-state inventory by more than half in either model.

    We expect the hydrate column model to systematically underestimate the amount of methane in high concentration deposits. Selective deposition of hydrate in sandy sediments would increase the hydrate concentration there. Gas migration may be facilitated by faults and channels in the sediment column.


    If you extract methane hydrate you create a channel, if anything goes wrong (and things tend to go wrong) methane blow outs at boreholes are likely or through fracturing and overall compromise in deposit integrity.

    The extracted methane hydrate is replaced with ocean water – which will warm the deposit and change pressure over time and space, hence we can expect similar effects as we observe from hydraulic fracturing.


    Seismicity induced by fluid extraction Based on the Mohr-Coulomb argument that injection of fluid brings rocks closer to failure, it may seem counter-intuitive that seismicity could also result from fluid extraction. Instead, one might expect that the decrease of pore pressure should inhibit failure. This effect does indeed exist. It is particularly important if pre-existing faults are in immediate contact with the reservoir and subject to a spatially heterogeneous decrease in pore pressure (Pennington et al., 1986).

    As a consequence of fluid extraction, strain accumulates either due to differential compaction or continued aseismic slip of nearby portions of the fault which builds up stress along the locked portions of the fault. Eventually, the accumulated stress will exceed the strength of these asperities and be released in the form of an earthquake. The process is expected to repeat itself as long as the pore pressure continues to decrease along the active fault. An important prediction of this model is that the magnitude of earthquakes should increase over time (Pennington et al.,1986).


    Comment by prokaryotes — 5 Sep 2013 @ 3:31 AM

  46. Regarding Svensmark.. I guess what they now did was a bit larger scale experiment than already discussed over here some years ago but still nothing in any way convincing

    Comment by 0^0 — 5 Sep 2013 @ 7:11 AM

  47. Re: Watcher, #6

    “All models are wrong, some are useful” (paraphrase Geo. Box)

    “All models are right, most are useless” (Thaddeus Tarpey)

    and the conclusion of our faux syllogism is:

    Comment by BillS — 5 Sep 2013 @ 7:19 AM

  48. Air Pollutants and the “Warming Hole” of America

    Part of the source of denialist rhetoric about recent warming?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Sep 2013 @ 9:31 AM

  49. Another month with the annual rise in atmospheric CO2 way above 2ppm during ENSO-neutral conditions. Annual MLO rise to July 2013 – 2.97ppm.

    Comment by MARodger — 5 Sep 2013 @ 11:16 AM

  50. “…and the conclusion of our faux syllogism is:”

    …let’s see Theo box George.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 5 Sep 2013 @ 1:09 PM

  51. I have a technical question regarding radiative heat transfer in the stratosphere, and I’m hoping someone will help me out. When satellites look at the earth in the 15 micron band where carbon dioxide absorption is strongest, they see an effective source temperature around 220 K, or – 50 C. This presumably reflects a source in the tropopause. However, up to altitudes far above this level, until pressures below 10 millibar, the atmosphere is still optically thick in this band and, furthermore, the temperature is increasing with altitude, preventing outward net heat transfer except for photons in the weakest carbon dioxide bands. Is all the heat transfer in the stratosphere in this band due to photons emitted from the weakest lines?
    I also have a second related question: Carbon dioxide is known to enhance stratospheric cooling via collisions with ozone, providing a path for the stratosphere to emit (as infrared) energy absorbed in the ultraviolet. Does this affect the apparent source temperature of the 15 micron band?
    I’d be happy just to get some links!

    Comment by Peter O'Donnell Offenhartz — 5 Sep 2013 @ 3:19 PM

  52. The leaky clathrate stuff would make using CO2 to displace methane kind of iffy, wouldn’t it? Poking more holes in an already leaky cap … or is CO2 clathrate more stable at a given depth/temperature than the methane it would replace?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Sep 2013 @ 6:18 PM

  53. ” or is CO2 clathrate more stable at a given depth/temperature than the methane it would replace?”

    I’ve read that CO2 clathrate is more stable than CH4.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 5 Sep 2013 @ 7:35 PM

  54. Global Warming Has Increased Risk of Record Heat

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 Sep 2013 @ 11:22 PM

  55. Jim says “I’ve read that CO2 clathrate is more stable than CH4.”

    I’ve read that too.


    The idea that we can replace methane with CO2 in existing clathrates and safely sequester the CO2 strikes me as absurd.

    Think about the engineering challenges: Take CO2 (from where?) and pump it into clathrates that stay frozen. Extract methane from same. This all in an environment that is near the surface without significant cap rock. Seal all hydrate so that carbon stays sequestered in near-surface conditions in a hostile environment. Keep hydrate frozen despite ocean warming several degrees.

    The very proposition strikes me as sheer madness. I’m sure we’re much better off with other efforts for both adaptation and mitigation.

    Comment by David Miller — 6 Sep 2013 @ 11:06 AM

  56. 0^0 says:

    4 Sep 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Anybody having checked what Svensmark has been up to lately?

    About 20 mins in

    Comment by Richard — 6 Sep 2013 @ 2:50 PM

  57. Why the jury’s still out on the risk of Arctic methane catastrophe

    Can scientists overcome huge uncertainties to pin down how close, or far, we might be to a tipping point? Link

    Comment by prokaryotes — 6 Sep 2013 @ 6:29 PM

  58. Just when you think the world is worried about everything else, but …
    “An open poll conducted by a Vermont senator on his website has global warming tracking far above chemical weapons as a concern that voters think members of Congress should care most about.”
    A record response of 18,000, chemical weapons (dead last, which may indicate something else to worry about), but the selection was:
    “chemical weapons in Syria, jobs and unemployment, health care, education, immigration, global warming, NSA phone and Internet surveillance, gun policy, the federal budget deficit, or something else”

    … Survey Says care warming

    Comment by owl905 — 6 Sep 2013 @ 9:32 PM

  59. 55 David M,

    All true, especially the madness part, but when the clathrates are melting anyway, we’ll have no choice but to harvest and burn.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 6 Sep 2013 @ 9:44 PM

  60. Gavin quoted on climate models:

    Why trust climate models? It’s a matter of simple science

    Comment by Radge Havers — 7 Sep 2013 @ 9:21 AM

  61. #60–Good article; thanks for the link.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Sep 2013 @ 10:09 AM

    The acidity of the oceans will more than double in the next 40 years. This rate is 10 times faster than 55 million years ago when when a mass extinction of marine life occurred. It is also faster than during 4 of earth’s biggest mass extinction events during the last 300 hundred million years — faster than even the great Permian mass extinction event where 95% of life on earth vanished 250 million years ago. The oceans are now 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times. In less than 40 years they will be 60% more acidic than then.

    When ice ages come and go the planet can change temperature 5°C in as little as 5,000 years. 50 times slower than what we are doing to earth now. In the past, a 5°C change normally takes 20,000 years, we are going to do 5°C in 50-100 years, 200 times faster.

    Climate change is happening 100 times faster than in the past.

    By 2025, humans will impact 50% of earth’s biosphere. This will cause a planetary ecological state shift leading to a mass extinction event that is unstoppable and irreversible once started.

    Why does nobody talk about the thousands of 1-kilometer wide bubbling methane seabeds first recorded in 2011 and now found to be 150 kilometres wide?
    Do you believe scientists
    who spent 30 years in the arctic
    or do you believe scientists
    who spent 30 years at their computer?

    Comment by Shizel — 7 Sep 2013 @ 11:45 AM

  63. Wow, thanks for all those links, Shizel.

    From prok’s link at 57:

    “Can scientists overcome huge uncertainties to pin down how close, or far, we might be to a tipping point?

    a 2007 Royal Society paper by NASA scientist Drew Shindell backs this up:

    “… the rarity of palaeoclimate evidence for hydrate-induced climate changes argues that this is a fairly unlikely candidate for near-term sudden climate change. Unlike the others, however, anthropogenic climate change may alter the probability of hydrate release when compared with the past, making the overall probability of near-term release extremely difficult to estimate…

    Massive methane release by hydrates or from peats also seems to have been extremely rare in the past, but could become more probable in the future world under the influence of anthropogenic forcing. However, at present, it is not possible to judge the probability for such changes reliably.”

    Comment by wili — 7 Sep 2013 @ 9:28 PM

  64. Shizel,

    Re: 62 — Not a lot going right for these days, I guess. Must be hard getting out of bed in the morning.

    Comment by Watcher — 7 Sep 2013 @ 9:28 PM

  65. Ok, Watcher, let’s look at the bright side, carbon dioxide is a remarkable planetary thermostat, it converts readily to methane, hydrocarbons, cellulose, carbohydrates and sugars, spices, herbs and vegetables, even alcohol, and it’s relatively easy to condense and transport. Supercritical carbon dioxide has highly valuable industrial properties. Plus we have a large polar land and ice mass which appears to be a good place to store it.

    So, other than no longer injecting large quantities of it into the atmosphere, what we need to do is extract it and remove it from the planet. Fortunately, carbon dioxide is the raw material of space habitats when one ignores the poisonous effect of not adequately controlling it.

    So, space elevators anyone? After reusable launch vehicles and space solar power, of course. That appears to be the best and only way to get rid of it in a hurry, otherwise it’s going to take a whole lotta deciduous trees, hemp fields, fresh water and electricity, plus a very long time. What we need are some quick fixes so that we have that time. These are not insoluble problems, it just requires a dramatic change in thinking.

    So from a practical standpoint, with unlimited space solar power you just convert it to methane, release to hydrogen to convert to water and store the carbon in a big bag. Or make things out of it. Preferably in space.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 7 Sep 2013 @ 10:28 PM

  66. Thomas, perhaps you would care to enlighten me on the idea of a space elevator. Particularly:

    1)Where do you park the orbiting platform? Presumably above the altitude for geostationary orbit, since the center of mass must be at GEO
    2)If the platform is above GEO, then pray, what do you make it out of that will not degrade due to exposure to the radiation belts on a timescale of months?

    I’ve never gotten a satisfying answer to either question, and it’s not for lack of trying.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 Sep 2013 @ 12:29 AM


    I don’t know why the UK right wing media choose to ignore any sound science but they cant help but scream out at the slightest natural variability turned into a trend can they

    Comment by pete best — 8 Sep 2013 @ 4:33 AM

  68. I have no idea, Ray, that’s just a thought exercise to give you a glimpse of the scale of the problem. Certainly we are not going to launch thousands of gigatons of dry ice off the planet, even with large reusable heavy lift launch vehicles. Clearly we’ll have to deal with the problem on the ground, as in carbon production. It would be easier to launch the raw carbon into space, but again, carbon is not particularly toxic and easy to store. The idea is to get you used to space based solutions because if you intend to be sticking around on the surface of this planet for the next one hundred, one thousand or one million years, that is indeed what is coming, what must come. Any way that I look at it, any credible solution will involve orders of magnitude more energy than we now enjoy just to make things right again, and orders of magnitude less people and industry on a finite two dimensional planetary surface shared with an active biosphere.

    Space is the only solution to this problem, obviously. There are a lot more practical approaches than space elevators, if you look at it clearly. What I am saying is that this problem is not insoluble, it just requires a completely new approach on a scale vastly larger than anything previously imagined. If you look at humanities accomplishments so far, it’s doable.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 8 Sep 2013 @ 10:58 AM

  69. Gavin’s post reply to “Why the jury’s still out on the risk of Arctic methane catastrophe” in the Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed-

    The original article (previously linked by Prokaryotes)-


    Comment by Steve Fish — 8 Sep 2013 @ 11:42 AM

  70. My error above. In the comments section of Nafeez Ahmed’s “Why the jury’s still out…” article, Gavin was responding to a follow up comment by Ahmed.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 8 Sep 2013 @ 12:43 PM

  71. Here is the one day anomaly animation:

    Why is it that most of the area over the sea is normal all the time? Is it because we don’t have data for those areas?

    Comment by Martin Smith — 8 Sep 2013 @ 1:13 PM

  72. As a newly-certified Climate Reality Project leader (Chicago 2013), I’m very distressed by the seeming confusion of the climate science community regarding the “pause” in warming. I need to speak on climate disruption in public forums and cannot formulate in my mind a convincing retort to this trend. Please advise and thank you, Charles

    Comment by Charles Stack, MPH — 8 Sep 2013 @ 2:00 PM

  73. Charles Stack, MPH @72 — There is no pause. See Foster & Rahmstorf (2011) and also
    where one of the comments provides a link to the Texas State Meteorologist, John N.-D., analysis.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Sep 2013 @ 5:27 PM

  74. Re #63 Wili,

    Can scientists overcome huge uncertainties to pin down how close, or far, we might be to a tipping point? Link

    Comment by prokaryotes — 8 Sep 2013 @ 5:32 PM

  75. Fixed link Can scientists overcome huge uncertainties to pin down how close, or far, we might be to a tipping point?

    Comment by prokaryotes — 8 Sep 2013 @ 5:33 PM

  76. > Why does nobody talk about the
    > thousands of 1-kilometer wide
    > bubbling methane seabeds

    Just google it.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Sep 2013 @ 8:38 PM

  77. Hank Roberts @76 — I recommend using DuckDuckGo
    instead of Google.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 8 Sep 2013 @ 9:46 PM

  78. From the article:

    “John Light: What’s been going on with Syria’s water resources over the past several years?

    Francesco Femia: Essentially, a massive, five-and-a-half-year drought. From 2006 to 2011, 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced, in the words of one expert, the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago. That, on top of natural resource mismanagement by the Assad regime — subsidizing water-intensive wheat and cotton farming and unsustainable irrigation techniques — led to a large amount of devastation.”

    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 8 Sep 2013 @ 11:24 PM

  79. 66 Ray L wondered about space elevators.

    The platform would be at any point desired. The only thing that would have to be higher than GEO is the counterweight. Doesn’t mean I think an elevator can be built (or not).

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 9 Sep 2013 @ 12:27 AM

  80. pete best @67.
    If you buy a better ‘quality’ Tory newspaper you get better quality denial. That Torygraph article you link to is but a diluted version of the original Daily Rail article.
    In the original you are rewarded with the full story, how investigitive reporter David Rose (in the true tradition of British tabloid journalism – ‘don’t let the facts spoil a good story’) influenced the IPCC. “The continuing furore caused by The Mail on Sunday’s revelations … has forced the UN’s climate change body to hold a crisis meeting.
    He also uncovers the data by “climate historians” showing “a massive (Arctic) melt in the 1920s and 1930s, followed by intense re-freezes that ended only in 1979 – the year the IPCC says that shrinking began.” That sounds like compelling evidence of IPCC conspiracy to me. (A bear with less brain would be asking ‘Where is the pre-1979 ice data? Why do you hide the facts from us?”) Unfortunately for Rose, he relies on Judy Curry for his “US climate expert” quotes and I don’t see that Curry has fully understood the modus operandi of UK tabloids.

    As for understanding why “the UK right wing media choose to ignore any sound science,” you perhaps have to understand the UK right-wing. Anne McElvoy’s 12 episode radio series “British Conservatism: The Grand Tour” is so far half way through and has demonstrated pretty conclusively how the more moderate and thoughtful side of the Tory party was almost completely wrong on all the major issues throughout the 19th century (on industrialisation, welfare, free trade, democracy). So being completely wrong on climate change – it is but traditional that they must take the wrong side.

    Comment by MARodger — 9 Sep 2013 @ 4:55 AM

  81. At the end of August, Arctic average sea ice thickness for 2013 nudged below the thickness at the same time in 2012, a record low year in volume and extent. 2011 holds the record for lowest average thickness at just below 1 m in November. 2012 also got below 1 m briefly. It will be interesting to see what kind ice the world is skating on this coming November.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 9 Sep 2013 @ 7:04 AM

  82. Chris,
    The reason for the lower average thickness was the much higher area compared to volume. While the volume was 1400 km3 higher than 2012, the area was more than one million km2 higher than last year. Neither value is likely to approach last year’s record low.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Sep 2013 @ 11:04 AM

  83. Any comments on this?

    I note that no scientific sources are mentioned whatsoever. It’s all very cloudy, to say the least.

    60 pct. more seaice in the arctic than last year at the same time could seem to fit with this: (the daily figure) but is this really as dramatic as it is presented here? After all it’s all only one-year-ice, which could easily melt away next summer. And after all, the summer of 2009 had the same amount of ice at the same time of year.

    Comment by Karsten V. Johansen — 9 Sep 2013 @ 11:35 AM

  84. Re #82 “Sea ice state 2013”, here is a recent discussion.

    And this graph put things into perspective.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 9 Sep 2013 @ 11:58 AM

  85. Sea ice a recent discussion.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 9 Sep 2013 @ 11:59 AM

  86. Karsten V. Johansen @82.
    You link to the same Torygraph story as pete best who I replied to @80. And the idea that some grand reversal of the declining Arctic sea ice is happening is seriously demented although The Guardian suggest it is but deluded. Note Chris Dudley’s link @81 which shows PIOMAS with thinner ice than in 2012. So I think I’ll continue calling talk of a cooling Arctic in coming years as “demented.”” It is pure madness.

    Comment by MARodger — 9 Sep 2013 @ 12:20 PM

  87. Charles Stack:

    As a newly-certified Climate Reality Project leader (Chicago 2013), I’m very distressed by the seeming confusion of the climate science community regarding the “pause” in warming. I need to speak on climate disruption in public forums and cannot formulate in my mind a convincing retort to this trend. Please advise and thank you, Charles

    Statistically speaking, there is no pause, as Dave Benson points out. It’s true that the average global surface temperature hasn’t risen as fast in the 21st century as it did previously. The blog posts by John Nielsen-Gammon, Learning from the hiatus and Learning more from the hiatus should be helpful to you. The executive summary: more of the excess greenhouse warming is going into the oceans due to La Nina conditions, thus the total heat content of the Earth continues to increase unabated; and when El Nino returns, we’ll see a 1998-like spike in surface temperature.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 9 Sep 2013 @ 12:44 PM

  88. RE:#67,#80,#82

    The latest nonsense from the Telegraph and Mail has been commented upon by

    Dana Nuccitelli

    It might be worth worth archiving this sort of thing somewhere under say Barclay Brothers, Rothermore, owners of the above two examples , Murdoch etc.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 9 Sep 2013 @ 12:58 PM

  89. The impact of temperature on marine phytoplankton resource allocation and metabolism

    Marine phytoplankton are responsible for ~50% of the CO2 that is fixed annually worldwide, and contribute massively to other biogeochemical cycles in the oceans1. Their contribution depends significantly on the interplay between dynamic environmental conditions and the metabolic responses that underpin resource allocation and hence biogeochemical cycling in the oceans. However, these complex environment–biome interactions have not been studied on a larger scale. Here we use a set of integrative approaches that combine metatranscriptomes, biochemical data, cellular physiology and emergent phytoplankton growth strategies in a global ecosystems model, to show that temperature significantly affects eukaryotic phytoplankton metabolism with consequences for biogeochemical cycling under global warming.

    In particular, the rate of protein synthesis strongly increases under high temperatures even though the numbers of ribosomes and their associated rRNAs decreases. Thus, at higher temperatures, eukaryotic phytoplankton seem to require a lower density of ribosomes to produce the required amounts of cellular protein. The reduction of phosphate-rich ribosomes2 in warmer oceans will tend to produce higher organismal nitrogen (N) to phosphate (P) ratios, in turn increasing demand for N with consequences for the marine carbon cycle due to shifts towards N-limitation.

    Our integrative approach suggests that temperature plays a previously unrecognized, critical role in resource allocation and marine phytoplankton stoichiometry, with implications for the biogeochemical cycles that they drive

    Comment by prokaryotes — 9 Sep 2013 @ 12:59 PM

  90. RE #80

    The Daily Mail is not a newspapers in any meaningful sense. It might be more right wing but intelligence carries with it sometimes at least, less drivel.

    Yes we are know about Judith Curry and she probably does want to quoted out of context so that the damage is done before refuting her out of context quotes in six months time.

    at present rates of fossil fuel extraction and usage we are still heading for a 2C future at the very least. The time line is shrinking to do something meaningful about our climate and when looking at global emissions annually we are not reducing it by nearly enough but are we putting in place the plans, the politics and the finance to mitigate our emissions significantly enough is the question? its presently debateable if we are and debateable if we will.

    Comment by pete best — 9 Sep 2013 @ 2:19 PM


    “Web of life unravelling”

    “Economic growth is the biggest destroyer of the ecology,” he says. “Those people who think you can have a growing economy and a healthy environment are wrong. “If we don’t reduce our numbers, nature will do it for us.”

    He isn’t hopeful humans will rise to the challenge and save themselves.

    “Everything is worse and we’re still doing the same things,” he says. “Because ecosystems are so resilient, they don’t exact immediate punishment on the stupid.”

    Comment by wili — 9 Sep 2013 @ 2:38 PM

  92. that’s

    The impact of temperature on marine phytoplankton resource allocation and metabolism

    Nature Climate Change (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1989

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Sep 2013 @ 4:21 PM

  93. Did I forget to mention fruit? Carbon dioxide can enable deciduous trees to produce almost immediate soil from the leaves, and produce nuts and fruits! Fruits that can be fermented to alcohol so we can forget about these problems! We’ve been discussing this quite a bit lately and the way I see it, any advanced sustainable planetary civilization will have used their wonderfully fortuitous and numerous Lagrange points to implement weather and rainfall modulation, temperature control and radiation balance, asteroid detection and mitigation procedures, and unlimited space solar power, and will have moved the vast majority of their population off of the planet.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 9 Sep 2013 @ 8:09 PM

  94. Meet the NASA computer used for most climate simulations

    Comment by prokaryotes — 9 Sep 2013 @ 8:39 PM

  95. Does anyone have any information regarding a connection between the Arab Spring and Climate Change or know where any information can be found? I’m wondering if there is any sort of distinct connection between the two events or if Climate Change is in any way related to what’s happening in Syria? The Bill Moyers article I posted above claims the events are related. Thanks

    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 9 Sep 2013 @ 11:58 PM

  96. You may have read Naomi Klein’s recent Salon interview in which she posits that “Green groups may be more damaging than climate change deniers”, and Joe Romm’s noticeably shrill response on ClimateProgress. In my view Romm was honor-bound to give the critique he gave. The one thing he can’t allow Klein or anyone else to say is that the fix is in, i.e. that fossil fuel corporations have captured government, because if that’s so, his chirpy “better living through green technology” spiel is irrelevant, if not duplicitous. Yet the latest IEA numbers clearly show that the global plan is to extract and burn more fossil fuel, not less, while simultaneously testing and deploying a mixed bag of geoengineering methods (“all of the above”). Research into both CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) and SRM (Solar Radiation Management) is already well underway in many countries, thanks to major funding from the usual suspects.

    The remaining fossil fuels and their corresponding infrastructure are the most valuable assets ever to exist in human history, by far, but they’re also the largest sunk cost ever to exist. In economic theory, sunk costs aren’t supposed to influence decisions, but observed behavior is frequently less than ideal. To suppose that fossil fuel corporations and their equivalent state actors would willingly abandon such monumental investments, and write them off as stranded assets, is naive. On the contrary, their business model assumes that the remaining fossil fuels will not only be sold, but sold at ever-increasing prices, i.e. the plan is to profit from scarcity. Geoengineering is seen as just another cost of doing business, its risks quantifiable and subject to standard depreciation.

    Between now and 2040, humanity will emit another teraton* of CO2, because the alternative is collapse of the ultimate scam, i.e. the world economy, which operates by looting posterity. China is already the world’s largest consumer of automobiles, and is busily constructing an interstate highway system three times the size of America’s. We’re reduced to helping them: the Alberta sands are destined for them, not us. This is not only because the fossil fuel dynasties seek to preserve their advantages, but more deeply because geoengineering is compatible with humanity’s exceptionalist narrative, which claims that our success flows directly from our specialness, heroism, and ingenuity. The possibility that our success was merely a predictable consequence of the fossil fuel windfall, and therefore temporary and doomed from the start, is as unspeakable as comparing humanity to yeast in a bottle (as William R. Catton and many other biologists have).

    Klein might argue that a sufficiently militant and global popular revolution could delay or even prevent this grim development, but I wouldn’t count on it. I’m not a religious person, but if I were, I would pray that geoengineering works.


    *see e.g. IEO 2013.

    Comment by Chris Korda — 10 Sep 2013 @ 1:00 AM

  97. Re: #80

    If you buy a better ‘quality’ Tory newspaper you get better quality denial.

    The following from the DT a few years back was a ‘report’ not an opinion piece

    Filling the atmosphere with Greenhouse gases associated with global warming could push the planet into a new ice age, scientists have warned.

    By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
    Last Updated: 6:51PM GMT 01 Jan 2009

    In this particular case, the ‘better quality’ meant that the journalist had ensured that the free


    would not trivially undermine the DT’s version * and would even act as a deterrent to the curious because of its technical nature. The full version of the research was behind a pay-wall and the actual statement by Professor Fairchild who was one of the authors of the research

    Contrary to the headline about our scientific work that appeared last week on the Telegraph website, high levels of greenhouse gases did not trigger an ice age.

    was censored. He eventually got it discussed properly here:

    Ben Goldacre

    In case you think this sort of thing, has no effect, I once heard the economist

    Ruth Lea

    stating in her usual confident manner, that climatalogy was incapable of distinguishing between warming and cooling.
    * That this should not be taken for granted can be seen in an even earlier example from the DT, for which the link is given after my earlier comment:

    Comment by deconvoluter — 10 Sep 2013 @ 5:41 AM

  98. CH @ 95

    Good luck trying to separate out the role of water from everything else that’s going on there. Much has been made of bread prices and food scarcity. Certainly water is a source of tension between nations. Easy enough to Google if you tolerate frustration well. Discussions:

    Comment by Radge Havers — 10 Sep 2013 @ 9:26 AM

  99. Life found in the sediments of an Antarctic subglacial lake for the first time

    Key Findings

    DNA of the microbes survived throughout the millennia
    Surprising high biomass and diversity was found
    One DNA sequence was related to the most ancient organisms known on Earth
    Life can exist and potentially thrive in extreme environments

    Finding ancient organisms in this environment and high biomass layer raises questions about the origin of life on Earth and Glaciation.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 11 Sep 2013 @ 11:02 AM

  100. Global warming could change strength of El Nino

    Comment by prokaryotes — 11 Sep 2013 @ 11:28 AM

  101. Does anybody know what’s up with the WattsUp world’s embrace of Hans van Storch at der Spiegel? This phony skeptic promotion is showing up hither and yon, and seems to be flying under the radar. The only reasonable comment I could find was on Breitbart (!!) news (aka Fox extreme) saying that he is being overinterpreted in commenting on how temperatures have flattened and still expects 2C increase by century’s end. fwiw, von Storch resigned over the publication of inadequately reviewed science at E&E and seems to have quite good standing.

    Chris Korda @~96, that is a terrific analysis/statement.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 11 Sep 2013 @ 2:41 PM

  102. Global warming could change strength of El Nino

    What’s the original paper? Please, please — use DOI.
    Give the DOI because it’s a permanent reference.

    The above is:

    — a link, that opens a reprint page at ClimateState,
    — which reprints from and gives a link to a page at PhysOrg,
    — which attributes to Nature Geoscience without cite nor link

    Please post the DOI.
    Point to original sources.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Sep 2013 @ 2:42 PM

  103. Hank, here (not what you asked for but will probably help)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 11 Sep 2013 @ 3:01 PM

  104. Thank you Susan, for the link to Tamino — excellent pointer.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Sep 2013 @ 4:53 PM

  105. Hottest Days in Some Parts of Europe Have Warmed Four Times More Than the Global Average
    Regional warming is not global warming.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Sep 2013 @ 9:51 PM

  106. Global Warming Could Change Strength of El Niño
    It certainly will alter the frequency, as noticed in
    Variability of El Niño/Southern Oscillation activity at millennial timescales during the Holocene epoch
    where going back about 6 millennia is what we are headed for. (Although the authors state that the 2000 year quasiperiod band is statistically significant, I assert it is simply more pink noise.)

    Comment by David B. Benson — 11 Sep 2013 @ 10:00 PM

  107. Chris Colose raised a topic that’s gotten only a little attention since all the way back on Monday (#80 – Sept 9 at 7am). While this year’s arctic ice area and extent have both regressed toward the mean from 2012’s record minimums, thickness continues to dance along the defining lower bounds.

    Neven’s graph
    places this year’s average ice thickness below 2012 for at least the past month, and suggest it is likely to keep that status at least through September. The remaining blended slurries of slush will no doubt solidify with the onset of winter, along with surface freezing of a lot of open water, but the result is unlikely to be “thick”. We don’t need record low volume or area to have average thickness remain in the “very thin” (if not record low) range.

    That point spins to an interesting tangent shown on another graph at
    The displayed trends suggest that the issue we’re dealing with is not so much a huge increase in summer melt of arctic ice, as is a failure of winter freeze to regain previous thickness. Yearly ice loss (volume) has hovered around a relatively stable 16(1000 km3) (+/-3) over the past 30+ years, while the yearly maximum has dropped by more than 10. That leaves a meager and melting volume around 4 at the low end, which translates to less than a meter in average thickness.

    Hard to see a use for the word “recovery” in this. Add back the context of very friable needle ice as that thin new stuff, and we’re about one El Nino away from open ocean.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 12 Sep 2013 @ 11:51 AM

  108. I stumbled onto this site closure note this morning, and attach it here for the irony: “NSIDC is closed today because of severe weather and flooding. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you.”

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 12 Sep 2013 @ 12:15 PM

  109. > NSIDC … flooding

    Ironically perhaps, much of the Front Range was shaped by extreme rainfall events the last time climate lurched dramatically, at the end of the last ice age — and since developers arrived, those nice slopes of debris washed out of those mountain canyons have been built on because, hey, it hasn’t flooded since we arrived.

    The Cassandra File: boulder creeks760.jpg

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Sep 2013 @ 2:25 PM

  110. er
    this link might work

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Sep 2013 @ 2:27 PM

  111. re NSIDC caveat:

    NCAR was threatened by wildfire last year, which makes flooding worse, since it removes a lot of natural environmental protections. Tweet stolen from Neven comment:

    Tweet from @spogburn in Boulder, 2013’s missing Arctic ice located: after a phase change it’s headed down Boulder Creek towards #NSIDC.

    Posted by: Doug Lofland | September 12, 2013 at 23:30….
    (great article)

    “Climate Change Hits Home: A warming Arctic affects all of us” Glenn Scherer 10/10/12

    This is no laughing matter … wildfires last year leave earth there and elsewhere strained …

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 12 Sep 2013 @ 6:18 PM

  112. Re #446 Unforced Variations last month:

    Thanks, Dr. Mann. I have your “Dispatches” book.
    I guess I’ll keep coming back here with questions as needed.

    [Response: Thanks AIC. I look forward to it :-) -mike]

    Comment by AIC — 12 Sep 2013 @ 8:35 PM

  113. Susan – Von Storch and Zorita have posted a blog entry on the response to their paper at Klimazwiebel.

    Their manuscript (not accepted, but posted online) argues that recent 10-15 year trends are at the margins of CMIP3 and CMIP5 model variations, and that this might mean some issues with the modelling. To correct various misinterpretations, they state “This main result does not imply that the anthropogenic greenhouse gases have not been the most important cause for the warming observed during the second half of the 20th century.”

    They list possibilities such as (1) underestimation of natural variability, (2) too large a climate sensitivity in the models [but that there is insufficient data to make that conclusion], (3) missing or incorrect external forcings in the models [aerosols, solar variability], or (4) the last 15 years are just an outlier, esp. considering the 1998 El Nino as a starting point.

    IMO 15 years is simply too short a time period, starting with a cherry-pick 1998. Trying to draw trend conclusions over a statistically insignificant time period, starting with a 3-sigma extrema, is just silly. See Rahmstorf et al 2012 for a discussion of how temperatures are right on IPCC predictions once you account for short term variations.

    Comment by KR — 13 Sep 2013 @ 9:39 AM

  114. More on the topic of late lessons from early warnings:

    Remember acid rain, one of the early bad consequences of large scale coal burning? Controls on acid rain went into effect a few decades ago. Was that soon enough?

    Nope. Unexpected consequences and tipping-backwards events:

    “… rural rivers and streams have been growing more alkaline over the past 25 years, too.

    Acid rain is largely behind the phenomenon, the scientists say. It’s been eating away chunks of rock, especially limestone rock, and the runoff produces carbonates that flow into rivers. “We’re basically dissolving the surface of the Earth,” says Kaushal. “It’s ending up in our water. It’s like rivers on Rolaids. There’s a natural antacid in these watersheds.”

    Now, that’s not an immediate health threat, but it has environmental effects. Kaushal invited me to wade into the stream. Mops of stringy green stuff coated the rocks. It was thick and slippery underfoot.

    “You can feel that?” he asks. “All that scum, all that slime is algae and bacteria.” The alkalinity stimulates the growth of certain types of algae. And too much algae will suck the oxygen out of the water — bad news for whatever else lives there.

    Something else is worrisome about alkaline water: If it mixes with sewage, it creates a particularly toxic stew by converting ammonia in the sewage into a more toxic form….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Sep 2013 @ 11:50 AM


    climate skeptic Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says slowing the pace won’t change his organization’s stance on the bill. “There’s no way to make it work,” Ebell says. “It would still give scientists an opportunity to pontificate, and we’re opposed to it.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Sep 2013 @ 8:50 PM

  116. We may have only been smart enough to break the planet, not smart enough to manage it.
    Jonathan Franzen wrote of Karl Kraus that in his

    essay “Apocalypse”, a few years earlier, he’d written: “Culture can’t catch its breath, and in the end a dead humanity lies next to its works, whose invention cost us so much of our intellect that we had none left to put them to use. We were complicated enough to build machines and too primitive to make them serve us.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Sep 2013 @ 9:01 PM

  117. Tiny Plankton Could Have Big Impact On Climate: CO2-Hungry Microbes Might Short-Circuit the Marine Foodweb
    Another unforeseen and undesirable effect of global warming.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 13 Sep 2013 @ 11:35 PM

  118. One of the worst headline choices (editors make up headlines) I’ve seen recently on WaPo editorial page. Headline on Lomborg piece says: “Don’t blame climate change for extreme weather”. Lomborg then proceeds to lay out many extremes that he thinks will occur.

    The point appears to be that since it doesn’t the variance doesn’t change, a shift in the mean is only “extreme” on the upper side of the change but not the lower side which apparently is a change for the better.

    Comment by jgnfld — 13 Sep 2013 @ 11:39 PM

  119. Here is the concluding paragraph from an Op-Ed piece in today’s NYT. The title is “Overpopulation is not the Problem”, written by Erle C. Elliss;
    “The only limits to creating a planet that future generations will be proud of are our imaginations and our social systems. In moving toward a better Anthropocene, the environment will be what we make it. ”
    In my opinion, we are going to have to quickly modify ‘our social systems’ if we are going to move ‘toward a better Anthrapocene’,- otherwise our current social systems do not seem destined to take us to the kind of world that ‘future generations will be proud of’.

    Comment by JABowron — 14 Sep 2013 @ 4:13 PM

  120. > Elliss … limits

    When taking firm hold of some part of a complicated system makes its start getting increasingly erratic, there are two possible: release your grip and see if it settles down, or grab harder and try to force the change you want.

    The first one is known to work. The second one, not so much.

    > the environment will be what we make it.

    Are we smart enough to make a net increase in dirt, yet?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Sep 2013 @ 8:23 PM

  121. Since we have a house in Colorado on the border of Jefferson and Boulder counties this has a direct effect on my neighborhood and friends. Placing this event in context with all the other recent flooding events in places like Calgary and Russia this year, I’m not sure what to make of this:

    There certainly seems to be a dramatic increase in flooding events as this article points out. I was wondering if anyone has any additional insights or observations concerning the increase in frequency of these floods. Having spent 52 years in and around Colorado I have personally never witnessed anything as widespread as this. There have been severe floods but not 1400 square miles worth including New Mexico. We seem to be in a pattern of drought/flood/fires in rapid succession with increasing intensity. At what point would what we’re seeing be considered a “Climate Catastrophe” as opposed to just another freak weather event?

    Thoughts? Observations?


    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 14 Sep 2013 @ 11:25 PM

  122. “…The displayed trends suggest that the issue we’re dealing with is not so much a huge increase in summer melt of arctic ice, as is a failure of winter freeze to regain previous thickness.”

    Yes, that’s what appears to me to be the case. Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s winter temps that are warming in the central Arctic Basin, not summer ones–the latter remain fairly well ‘clamped’ close to the freezing point. This DMI graph illustrates the point if you scan back through the years (though note it’s reanalysis ‘data’ with known inhomogeneities.) Coincidentally, it also illustrates how remarkably consistent cool weather was in the central Arctic this summer.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Sep 2013 @ 6:32 AM

  123. #118–“The point appears to be [since] the variance doesn’t change, a shift in the mean is only “extreme” on the upper side of the change but not the lower side…”

    Dangerous to opine without reading the original, I suppose, but given that climate change is expected to change variability in some dimensions at least–increasing both drought and flood, for a leading instance–the argument seems a strawman at best.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Sep 2013 @ 6:44 AM

  124. @123…Yes. But Lomborg’s points really ignore that. To wit:

    –“Global warming, in general, will mean higher temperatures. This causes more heat waves — more extreme weather. But it also causes fewer cold waves — less extreme weather. Many more people die from excessive cold than excessive heat, so fewer people will die from cold and heat in the future.”

    –“Global warming will also cause more heavy rain; this is clearly more extreme. But warming will also help alleviate water scarcity — less extreme.”

    –“Hurricane wind speeds are likely to increase (more extreme), but the number of hurricanes is likely to decrease or hold steady (less extreme).”

    Comment by jgnfld — 15 Sep 2013 @ 12:21 PM

  125. Chuck Hughes @121 — From Ray Pierrehumbert’s “Principles of Planetary Climate” in an exercise one determines that global precipitation increases as the square of the temperature increase. Measurements so far indicate a nonlinear increase, but not quite the square. In any case, one expects more extreme precipitation events of the sort Colorado just experienced.

    jgnfld @124 — Very few die from excessive cold; it is ordinarily possible to provide enough insulation together with an external thermal source. Many die from excessive heat as it is hard to lower the temperature.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 15 Sep 2013 @ 5:07 PM

  126. The 5 stages of climate denial are on display ahead of the IPCC report
    Climate contrarians appear to be running damage control in the media before the next IPCC report is published

    Comment by prokaryotes — 16 Sep 2013 @ 6:29 AM

  127. Those wishing to give Fred Singer’s latest masterpiece the reception it deserves should attend this event in Raypierre’s neighborhood:

    Press conference announcing release of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science

    10:00 a.m., Tuesday, September 17.

    James R. Thompson Center
    100 West Randolph Street
    Press Room (15th Floor)
    Chicago, Illinois USA

    Lead author S. Fred Singer, Ph.D.,
    Lead author Craig Idso, Ph.D.,
    Co-author Willie Soon, Ph.D.,

    Media: Open to all credentialed press

    Book Launch Luncheon, Wednesday September 18, 11:30 to 1:30pm

    Presenters: S. Fred Singer, Craig Idso, and Willie Soon

    The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive # 2740; Chicago, IL 60606

    Cost: $15.00; Contact Tonya Houston at or call 312-377-4000

    Comment by Russell — 16 Sep 2013 @ 12:06 PM

  128. Offshore permafrost decay and massive seabed methane escape in water depths >20 m at the South Kara Sea shelf DOI: 10.1002/grl.50735

    Comment by prokaryotes — 16 Sep 2013 @ 4:46 PM

  129. Wikipedia entry Climate state.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 16 Sep 2013 @ 9:43 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Sep 2013 @ 9:52 PM

  131. #127

    Lemme get this straight…

    The Heartland Institute is located at One South Wacker Drive and one of the presenters is “Willie Soon”???

    Put me down as “Not Attending.”


    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 17 Sep 2013 @ 12:28 AM

  132. A cautionary book review, and a particularly good reminder to those who think of themselves as liberals and progressives and environmentalists that having your heart in the right place is no protection against being fooled, and how passionately held beliefs may reflect effective PR funded by industry.

    A review from DC’s Improbable Science of:
    Do You Believe in Magic by Paul Offit

    The conspiratorialist public lapped up this abuse, but appeared not to notice that many quacks have become far richer by peddling cures that do not work.

    One lesson from this sad story is that we need to think more about the potential for money to lead to good science being disbelieved, and sometimes to corrupt science.

    Everyone should buy this book, and weep for the gullibility and corruption that it describes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2013 @ 11:32 AM

  133. 131

    You’d better go, Chuck, lest Mark Morano and James Taylor announce that your comment signifies perfect agreement with Willie Soon.

    Comment by Russell — 17 Sep 2013 @ 1:10 PM

  134. Climate state means lower climate sensitivity?

    (Tossing this out for the real scientists here, curious if this is attracting much interest)

    GeophysicalResearchAbstracts Vol.15, EGU2013-1497, 2013

    Correcting for the background state dependency of palaeo climate sensitivity
    von der Heydt, Anna S.; Köhler, Peter; van de Wal, Roderik S. W.; Dijkstra, Henk A.
    EGU General Assembly 2013, held 7-12 April, 2013 in Vienna, Austria, id. EGU2013-1497

    The equilibrium (Charney) climate sensitivity, here indicated by Sa …. Palaeo data … – if slow feedback processes are adequately taken into account – indicate a similar range as those based on climate model results used in IPCC AR4.

    In most of these palaeostudies it is implicitly assumed that the (fast) feedback processes are independent of the background climate state, e.g., are equally strong during glacial and interglacial periods.
    Here …. Sa is found to be higher in cold periods than during warm times. … we determine a new value of the Charney sensitivity Sa = 0.71 ± 0.40 K (W m-2)-1 (corresponding to a warming of 2.6 ± 1.5 K for 2 ? pCO2), which is lower than present estimates in which state dependency is neglected.

    (para. breaks added for blog readability; no DOI found, sorry)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2013 @ 1:58 PM

  135. Hank, that review of Offit’s book is little more than an ill-informed rant.

    If anything it expresses exactly the “I know it ain’t so ’cause it can’t be so, and it can’t be so ’cause I just know” attitude of many pseudo-skeptical AGW deniers, accompanied by similarly absurd conspiracy theorizing.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 17 Sep 2013 @ 3:12 PM

  136. Hansen Study: Climate Sensitivity Is High, Burning All Fossil Fuels Would Make Most Of Planet ‘Uninhabitable’

    Comment by prokaryotes — 17 Sep 2013 @ 4:31 PM

  137. Climate sensitivity depends on the initial climate state

    Hansen et al. 2013.

    It is unclear how the new study from Heydt et al. is (if at all) accounting for human forcing today in their conclusions. The paleo forcing was also much closer to climate equilibrium. Hence why Hansen et al. is explicit referring to the initial state rather than the paleo background state.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 17 Sep 2013 @ 7:22 PM

  138. >
    von der Heydt, A. S. , Köhler, P. , van de Wal, R. S. W. and Dijkstra, H. A. (2013): Correcting for the background state dependency of palaeo climate sensitivity , EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, 7 April 2013 – 12 April 2013 .
    Cite this page as: hdl:10013/epic.41186

    link to pdf at the source page


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2013 @ 9:07 PM

  139. oh, that’s just a pdf of the abstract; still looking for the paper, if anyone’s seen a copy

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2013 @ 9:09 PM


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Sep 2013 @ 9:17 PM

  141. #127–“Climate Change Reconsidered?”

    When did they ever consider it in the first place? Must’ve missed that.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Sep 2013 @ 9:33 PM

  142. I have a question about the recent Santer et al PNAS fingerprint paper (

    The paper mentions that “The decrease in TLS is primarily a response to
    human-caused stratospheric ozone depletion, with a smaller
    contribution from anthropogenic changes in other greenhouse

    The paper uses the fact that stratospheric cooling would be expected for a GHG driven warming and not for natural warming to argue for a specific fingerprint in the vertical thermal structure of the atmosphere.

    Question: How can the GHG signal can be distinguished from the ozone depletion signal? Does the paper address this issue? I saw mention of the effect of ozone depletion, but no analysis to show such a distinction being made.

    [Response: TLS is more strongly affected by ozone depletion than CO2 – you need to go the higher levels for CO2 to dominate (SSU records for instance). In the paper, ‘ALL’ and ‘ANT’ runs use both ozone and GHG forcings and the paper does not further breakdown the contributions. You can do that by looking at the single forcing runs in CMIP5, but few groups submitted these (GISS has the most complete set). – gavin ]

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 18 Sep 2013 @ 3:11 AM

  143. #142–Thanks for that link, Bart. Very interesting.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Sep 2013 @ 7:07 AM

  144. Prokaryotes, you wrote:
    “It is unclear how the new study from Heydt et al. is (if at all) accounting for ….”

    Have you looked at the study?
    Your link was to the Abstract.

    It’s not clear whether you read the study.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Sep 2013 @ 10:40 AM

  145. > similarly absurd conspiracy theorizing.

    Are you disagreeing with the review, or with the book reviewed?

    The examples given are not theoretical.

    Look at other uses of the tactic — funding several opposing points of view on an issue, to generate controversy, to empty out the center where policy can be effectively made, to delay action — is proven effective.

    Point is, for each of us — no matter how sure our hearts are in the right place, no matter that we’re deeply sincere — we can be fooled.

    Big money is being spent to fool us and divide people, to empty out the center where policy change can occur, to sell crap.

    It’s like the game called “Let’s you and him fight.”

    Let’s not.

    Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Sep 2013 @ 11:30 AM

  146. Atmospheric rivers

    It all began with the measurements of carbon monoxide for the Air Pollution from Satellite (MAPS) project in 1990. A puzzling feature was the presence of high carbon monoxide values well removed from their sources. Newell et al. (1992) were first who used this satellite data to shed some light on the transport problem. They found corridors of vertically integrated water vapour fluxes over the ocean and used the term “tropospheric rivers” to emphasize the large amounts of water vapour being transported in the troposphere. This striking finding was further investigated by Zhu and Newell (1998) at MIT using observations from polar-orbiting satellites and research aircraft over the eastern Pacific Ocean in the winter of 1997-98. Their result showed that these filamentary features, which they called atmospheric rivers (ARs), constitute a significant fraction of the total moisture transport, and almost all the meridional (south to northward) transport atmid-latitudes.

    The interest in studying ARs has increased in recent years because of their strong link to several flood events …

    Seems this should completely change all the “100-year” and “500-year” flood data, because the chance that one of these atmospheric rivers will be blocked by a large weather system is increasing with climate change — and the amount of water carried by one may increase as well. Then add the odds that this narrow stream of water is going to impact a given geographic location.

    Seems like “the worst that can happen” isn’t the 500-year or 100-year flood from history, it’s more like the “impossible unimaginable no-mechanism” event that happens anyhow.

    You think the Colorado floods are bad?

    California Megaflood: Lessons from a Forgotten Catastrophe

    A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months, and it could happen again…

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Sep 2013 @ 11:36 AM

  147. May 2013, NPR’s “This American Life” included an interview worth revisiting

    Colorado’s State Climatologist, Nolan Doesken…. has long believed the humans are driving climate change, but never connected it to his own life. Even after several years of some of the most devastating weather his state has ever seen, Nolan considered climate change a worry for the future. Then, last year, he watched as his state experienced some of the most extreme weather it has ever seen. For the first time, Nolan felt like he was looking at what the future would be like where he lives. He felt scared. Julia tells the story of how this has all changed Nolan, and changed what he’s saying to the people of his home state.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Sep 2013 @ 11:46 AM

  148. Hank, the Heydt study is interesting (Colder climate more CS – probably linked to ice sheet behavior – i guess) but it is an assessment based on 800k paleo data and not considering today’s state. I think this is clear from the abstract alone, otherwise they would have mentioned it. I too would welcome some other opinion on this, to verify my abstract judgement.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 18 Sep 2013 @ 12:50 PM

  149. Further see

    Making sense of palaeoclimate sensitivity

    State-dependent climate sensitivity in past warm climates and its implications for future climate projections

    Comment by prokaryotes — 18 Sep 2013 @ 12:56 PM

  150. Hank Roberts wrote: “Point is, for each of us — no matter how sure our hearts are in the right place, no matter that we’re deeply sincere — we can be fooled.”

    That’s a good description of people who believe that ginger or turmeric cannot possibly have any medicinal value, regardless of the mountains of empirical evidence showing that they do, because they already know that “herbal medicine” is “unscientific” — while at the same time they support “scientific” procedures and treatments that are ultimately rejected by the medical community as lacking efficacy and even being harmful only after they have been performed on thousands of people for years.

    Climate science is not the only target of organized pseudo-skepticism.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Sep 2013 @ 4:12 PM

  151. Climate sensitivity extracted from Pleistocene climate change is thus inherently partly subjective as it depends on how much weight is given to mutually inconsistent estimates of glacial-to-interglacial global temperature change. Our initial assessment is a fast-feedback sensitivity of 3±1°C for 2×CO2, corresponding to an LGM cooling of 4.5°C, similar to the 2.2–4.8°C estimate of PALAEOSENS [99]. This sensitivity is higher than estimated by Schmittner et al. [94], partly because they included natural aerosol changes as a forcing. In addition, we note that their proxies for LGM sea surface cooling exclude planktic foraminifera data, which suggest larger cooling [126], and, as noted by Schneider von Deimling et al. [95], regions that are not sampled tend to be ones where the largest cooling is expected. It should be possible to gain consensus on a narrower range for climate sensitivity via a community project for the LGM analogous to PRISM Pliocene data reconstruction [97,98] and PlioMIP model intercomparisons [67,68].

    However, we suggest that an even more fruitful approach would be a focused effort to define the glacial-to-interglacial climate change of the Eemian period (MIS-5e). The Eemian avoids the possibility of significant human-made effects, which may be a factor in the Holocene. Ruddiman [127] suggests that deforestation and agricultural activities affected CO2 and CH4 in the Holocene, and Hansen et al. [91] argue that human-made aerosols were probably important. Given the level of Eemian warmth, approximately +1.8°C relative to 1880–1920, with a climate forcing similar to that for LGM–Holocene (figure 5), we conclude that this relatively clean empirical assessment yields a fast-feedback climate sensitivity in the upper part of the range suggested by the LGM–Holocene climate change, i.e. a sensitivity of 3–4°C for 2×CO2. Detailed study is especially warranted because Eemian warmth is anticipated to recur in the near term.


    Comment by prokaryotes — 18 Sep 2013 @ 6:08 PM

  152. So basically it appears that climate sensitivity is not a constant but a dynamic factor, state dependent on feedbacks and forcing.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 18 Sep 2013 @ 6:52 PM

  153. #146–Thanks for reminding us, Hank–that was indeed a good piece. It seems unlikely that the events of the last week or so have done anything to soften Mr.–Dr?–Doesken’s feelings on this topic.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Sep 2013 @ 7:01 PM

  154. I am indebted to

    for a reference to Previdi et al. in
    Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 139: 1121–1131, July 2013 A
    available freely at

    pretty much agreeing with Hansen(2013) (in Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. A, referred to earlier) for climate state dependent sensitivity. Implications of considering full earth system sensitivity (about twice the fast feedback sensitivity) are beginning to take hold among the Great and the Wise. Look at the authors on the Previdi paper, includes Hansen, LeQuere, Levitus and Ramaswamy.


    Comment by sidd — 18 Sep 2013 @ 8:56 PM

  155. The Hansen, Sato et al. article that prok just linked to is well worth a careful read. Here’s some discussion of it over at CP:

    “Hansen Study: Climate Sensitivity Is High, Burning All Fossil Fuels Would Make Most Of Planet ‘Uninhabitable’

    James Hansen, the country’s most prescient climatologist, is out with another must-read paper, “Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide.” The paper, co-authored by a number of Hansen’s former colleagues at NASA, is an antidote to the rosy scenarios the mainstream media have recently been pushing.

    The key findings are

    The Earth’s actual sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 levels from preindustrial levels (to 550 ppm) — including slow feedbacks — is likely to be larger than 3–4°C (5.4-7.2°F).
    Given that we are headed towards a tripling (820 ppm) or quadrupling (1100 ppm) of atmospheric CO2 levels, inaction is untenable.
    “Burning all fossil fuels” would warm land areas on average about 20°C (36°F) and warm the poles a stunning 30°C (54°F). This “would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans, thus calling into question strategies that emphasize adaptation to climate change.”

    Burning all or even most fossil fuels would be a true scorched Earth policy.

    Given that James Hansen has been right about global warming for more than 3 decades, his climate warnings need to be taken seriously…

    if we ultimately burn all of fossil fuels, Hansen et al find almost unimaginable consequences:

    Our calculated global warming in this case is 16°C, with warming at the poles approximately 30°C. Calculated warming over land areas averages approximately 20°C. Such temperatures would eliminate grain production in almost all agricultural regions in the world. Increased stratospheric water vapour would diminish the stratospheric ozone layer.

    More ominously, global warming of that magnitude would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans. The human body generates about 100 W of metabolic heat that must be carried away to maintain a core body temperature near 37°C, which implies that sustained wet bulb temperatures above 35°C can result in lethal hyperthermia…

    A warming of [u]10–12°C[/u] would put most of today’s world population in regions with wet a bulb temperature above 35°C….

    …we are headed towards CO2 levels in 2100 last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter.”

    Comment by wili — 19 Sep 2013 @ 3:31 AM

  156. [moved to open thread]

    This may be somewhat off-topic, though not completely. I’m a member of the “lay public.” You know, the as of yet silent majority that you must convince of the direness of AGW if you really want anything done about it. Here’s my question. In the past I have read AGW “naysayers” who claim AGW theory violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. No one has ever explained to me the reasons for that, whether true or false. Could someone here do so? Thank you in advance.

    Comment by Jay Castor — 19 Sep 2013 @ 6:21 AM

  157. #156–Jay, I’ve debated this with one particular denier repeatedly and in consequence have done a fair bit of reading on the topic, so I’ll take a crack at your question.

    Basically, the Second Law argument is misdirected. It stems mainly from a paper by Gerhard and Tscheuschner which claims to ‘falsify’ the greenhouse effect. But G & T–as clearly revealed by the bibliography of their paper, which cites *no* modern work on the greenhouse effect–do not understand the theory they seek to ‘falsify.’

    Their argument is, basically, that the atmosphere cannot warm the Earth’s surface, since the latter is warmer than the former, and ‘heat won’t pass from a cooler to a hotter,’ as Flanders and Swan popularized the Second Law. QED.

    They are wrong, however–a better formulation of the process is not that the atmosphere heats the surface, but that the atmosphere slows the rate at which the surface can cool. (That is the basis of the famous ‘blanket analogy,’ used in the SkS discussion linked below.)

    Another problem with G & T is that their argument utterly ignores actual observations of the energy fluxes between sun, surface, and atmosphere, of which there is an enormous volume, going back two centuries. I’ve written about that aspect of the question here:

    And here:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Sep 2013 @ 8:09 AM

  158. Two quotes from the new paper by Hansen et al 2013 that are particularly noteworthy, at least to me, living in Holland:

    “The empirical data support a high sensitivity of the sea level to global temperature change, and they provide strong evidence against the seeming lethargy and large hysteresis effects that occur in at least some ice sheet models [p.22].”

    “The amount of CO2 required to melt most of Antarctica in the MMCO [Middle Miocene Climatic Optimum, about 16 million years ago] was only approximately 450–500 ppm, conceivably only about 400 ppm. These CO2 amounts are smaller than suggested by ice sheet/climate models, providing further indication that the ice sheet models are excessively lethargic, i.e. resistant to climate change [p.23].”

    So we could be very close to melting all of the ice on Earth, resulting in about 70m of SLR. Maybe that would take as little as a few millennia and could be very hard to stop, if we don’t succeed in decarbonizing our economy very fast and/or in geoengineering our way out of this prospect. About 10m of SLR, including contributions from EAIS, could be possible in the coming three centuries, which may be inevitable in the longer term anyhow, but could still be slowed down substantially by fast decarbonization.

    How Holland and the world could or would adapt to 10m of SLR over the coming centuries is an interesting question, but it looks like it would be a lot more expensive than rapidly decarbonizing. Which of course would also mitigate the need for adaptation to earlier and maybe even more urgent pressures, like food and water shortages, heat waves, droughts, fires, storms, floods, diseases, migration and conflicts over all kinds of resources.

    Comment by Lennart van der Linde — 19 Sep 2013 @ 8:32 AM

  159. Kevin and Jay,
    Anyone who makes the entropy argument against the greenhouse effect is either deluded, stupid or disingenuous. First, as Kevin notes, the problem goes away when you look at it as the atmosphere decreasing the cooling of the surface by trapping outgoing IR photons. However, it also goes away when you look at the physics–the surface is warm, and so emits a very large flux of IR photons over a more-or-less blackbody spectrum. Greenhouse gasses take a big bite out of that outgoing spectrum and are warmed by the absorbed radiation. The greenhouse gasses share this added energy with the rest of the atmosphere via collisional relaxation with them.

    The thing is that the gasses in the atmosphere will also emit IR photons–and at a higher rate than they would have if they hadn’t been warmed. Some of those extra IR photons will reach the ground. Now how are you going to keep the ground from absorbing that IR photon and warming up as a result? Quantum mechanics says photons are indistinguishable partiles?

    Moreover, we know with 100% certainty that there is a greenhouse effect. We know with 100% certainty that greenhouse gasses work by absorbing IR–hell, we can see it in satellite measurements of the emitted IR spectrum. We know with 100% certainty that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    This argument has to be the absolute stupidest advanced by the denialists.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Sep 2013 @ 9:41 AM

  160. Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 18 Sep 2013 @ 4:12 PM

    I am curious about your “empirical evidence” comment. My various dictionaries pretty much agree with the following definition of empirical: Relying on experience or observation alone without proper regard for considerations of system, science, and theory. It is just unverified opinion or data that might be correct, or not. Empirical evidence can be an interesting hypothesis to study, or used as a debating tactic by denialists.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 19 Sep 2013 @ 11:45 AM

  161. The people SA is arguing with aren’t participating here.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Sep 2013 @ 12:32 PM

  162. Steve Fish @160 re empirical.

    There are many here far more qualified to comment than I, but I think you should check more dictionaries. Empirical has multiple meanings, for example from

    1.derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
    2.depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.
    3.provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.

    When I first encountered empirical as used by physicians (and you, and per 2. above) I was confused because they were clearly referring to an inferior form of evidence. Elsewhere in science the term is used as in 1. and 2. above – it’s the result of experimentation, it’s the real deal. I’m confident SA was using this connotation.


    Comment by Rick Brown — 19 Sep 2013 @ 1:15 PM

  163. Thank you wili for linking the open access study on CS!

    Traditionally, only fast feedbacks have been considered (with the other feedbacks either ignored or treated as forcing), which has led to estimates of the climate sensitivity for doubled CO2 concentrations of about 3◦ C. The 2×CO2 Earth system sensitivity is higher than this, being ∼4–6◦ C if the ice sheet/vegetation albedo feedback is included in addition to the fast feedbacks, and higher still if climate–GHG feedbacks are also included.


    Here we go! This finding means – mandatory actions.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 19 Sep 2013 @ 1:44 PM

  164. SA:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “Point is, for each of us — no matter how sure our hearts are in the right place, no matter that we’re deeply sincere — we can be fooled.”

    That’s a good description of people who believe that ginger or turmeric cannot possibly have any medicinal value, regardless of the mountains of empirical evidence showing that they do…

    I’m a little surprised to see that from you. Anyone with a commitment to genuine scepticism knows that it’s the quality, not the quantity of evidence that matters. Telling the difference requires Science, because “the first rule is not to fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Hank has the right of it:

    Big money is being spent to fool us and divide people, to empty out the center where policy change can occur, to sell crap.

    That’s as true for “conventional” as for “alternative” medicine. More skepticism is needed, not less.

    In any case, isn’t it common knowledge that “herbal medicine” is the source of much of the modern materia medica?

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 19 Sep 2013 @ 2:23 PM

  165. Steve Fish:

    Empiricism is what distinguishes science from other approaches to understanding the phenomenal world.

    Plenty of pre-scientific approaches relied on theory, hypothesis and reason. Medieval theologians employed impeccable “reasoning” and rigorous “logic” based on systematic and elegant “theories” when they argued about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. What they did not do was to look at the head of a pin under a microscope and count the dancing angels.

    Empiricism simply means “if you want to know how things are, look and see”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Sep 2013 @ 3:01 PM

  166. > in addition to the fast feedbacks
    So you’re adding those to the fast feedbacks list;
    do you also remove them from the slow list? Same total amount of ice goes away in the end.

    Can annual snow persist, longterm, in winters?

    What else is still on a slow list?
    Geochemical changes, I guess.

    Subduction events must still be on the very slow list.
    One hopes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Sep 2013 @ 6:40 PM

  167. want to see global trends for varieties of plankton?
    We ain’t close to having data for that yet.

    In the early years of a better understanding:

    The dataset used for Plankton Portal comes a period of just three days in
    Fall 2010. In three days, they collected so much data that would take more
    than three years to analyze it themselves. That’s why they need your help!
    A computer will probably be able to tell the difference between major classes of organisms, such as a shrimp versus a jellyfish, but to distinguish different species within an order or family, that is still best done by the human eye.

    If you want to help, you can visit

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Sep 2013 @ 9:17 PM

  168. “Can annual snow persist, longterm, in winters?”

    Depends on the climate state.

    “What else is still on a slow list?”

    Slow feedbacks, especially change of ice sheet size and atmospheric CO2, amplify the total Earth system sensitivity by an amount that depends on the time scale considered.

    fast-feedback climate sensitivity depends on the initial climate state. Fast feedbacks include water vapour, clouds, aerosols and sea ice changes


    The geo-response is still not identified probably, but relates to the sea level sensitivity(which is part of the earth system sensitivity).

    “Geochemical changes”

    Are ocean acidification, ocean anoxia, ocean saturation, ocean circulation…

    Comment by prokaryotes — 19 Sep 2013 @ 9:58 PM

  169. Steve

    Re- Comment by Rick Brown — 19 Sep 2013 @ 1:15 PM

    What you have presented just verifies what I said. As we both have said, empirical evidence is just data. A scientific study compiles empirical data in a systematic manner relative to previous research and theory. Until a scientific study is performed and a publication in a peer reviewed journal is performed it is just conjecture. Even a single scientific study is subject to criticism until it is verified by further science. Empirical evidence can’t be trusted until it passes through this process because iIt is just opinion that has yet to be verified.

    For example: When a weatherman in a local TV station questions global warming because it is very cold in his region, this is empirical evidence. When a weatherman looks at land temperature monitoring stations and claims, without any reasonable analysis, that global temperature is biased, this is just empirical evidence. This a major problem in the health industry when MDs and alternative medicine practitioners make claims based on personal experience of themselves and others because it is just the opinion of biased individuals. Asking these people to show their evidence in a testable format is what good scientific skepticism is all about.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 19 Sep 2013 @ 9:58 PM

  170. saturation = stratification.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 19 Sep 2013 @ 10:01 PM

  171. Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Sep 2013 @ 3:01 PM

    Pre-scientific approaches didn’t provide data and an analysis that allowed others to test their conclusions and, in any case, there was no community that was capable of evaluating what they proclaimed. “[I]f you want to know how things are, look and see” is what we all do to solve our everyday problems, but this is a very bad scheme for trying to understand complicated issues such as climate science, evolutionary theory, or what medicinal products or practices are good or bad. Empirical evidence it just unverified opinion, maybe right, maybe wrong.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 19 Sep 2013 @ 10:15 PM

  172. Stratification of ocean water is a naturally occurring phenomenon that is important to the structure, circulation and productivity of the oceans.1-3 The formation of vertical stratification in the water column is a consequence of water masses with different densities. Water density is strongly influenced by temperature and salinity; with less dense, warmer surface waters floating on top of denser, colder waters. The boundary between the warmer and cold waters is called the thermocline. Water is unable to passively mix across this layer, but wind, upwelling, down-welling and storms help move water across the boundary. For instance, winter storms create turbulent mixing between water layers. Mixing is critical for ecosystem productivity because it brings nutrients to the surface and oxygen to deeper waters. During springtime warming, the waters stratify, trapping phytoplankton near the surface, resulting in a spring bloom in the nutrient rich water. The spring bloom in turn provides food for many marine animals and plays an important role in the global carbon cycle.4-6

    While stratification of the water column is important, prolonged or strengthened stratification can have negative impacts. As the temperature of coastal waters increase, the thermocline becomes a more powerful boundary, making it more difficult for the nutrient rich waters to reach the surface. This potential reduction in upwelling and mixing can result in local or widespread biomass loss and changes in species composition. Between 1951 and 1993 zooplankton biomass off Southern California decreased by 80% as a result of warming surface waters. In some areas the water temperature rose by 1.5oC and restricted coastal upwelling and nutrient availability.7


    Now this study from 1985 describes a large impact event, but is it correct that they essentially describe a stratified water column?

    A decrease of up to 3°/oo in the δ13 C values of planktic skeletons has been systematically observed across the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary; the benthic skeletons show no corresponding changes. We interpret this decrease as a manifestation of the elimination of the surface-to-bottom carbon isotope gradient in ocean waters at a time when carbon fractionation by a photosynthesis-respiration mechanism became ineffective. A concurrent release of excess CO2 from a nearly barren ocean to the atmosphere could have caused global warming.


    Would it be correct to call future stratification “Strangelove ocean”? (An ocean, which primary production decreases considerably). Maybe this large impact event during the “Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary” was in a nutshell, an extreme ocean response we can expect today? Though some studies later conclude that this event wasn’t actually that long, until production restarted.

    Maybe someone can check the paper out or post a link to the paper??

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Sep 2013 @ 1:23 AM

  173. SA:

    Empiricism is what distinguishes science from other approaches to understanding the phenomenal world.

    Steve Fish, in response to SA:

    Pre-scientific approaches didn’t provide data and an analysis that allowed others to test their conclusions and, in any case, there was no community that was capable of evaluating what they proclaimed.

    IMHO, Steve’s point can’t be over-emphasized: above all, “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first rule is not to fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Empiricism is a foundation of of Science, but intersubjective verification is even more fundamental. Until your evidence has passed the unsparing scrutiny of other trained scientists, you have no way to know whether you’re fooling yourself or not.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 20 Sep 2013 @ 7:39 AM

  174. > some studies later conclude

    citations would be helpful to the “some studies later”
    if you know what they are.
    If you don’t know what theyare,
    what’s your source for the “some studies”?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Sep 2013 @ 8:28 AM

  175. When a weatherman in a local TV station questions global warming because it is very cold in his region, this is empirical evidence.

    Wrong. The [limited/incomplete] “empirical evidence” is the recorded temperature, the conclusions drawn from that are an opinion, and your hypothetical weatherman obviously doesn’t understand the difference between regional weather and global climate.

    Comment by flxible — 20 Sep 2013 @ 9:48 AM

  176. Phil Plait of “Bad Astronomy” quotes a Congressman: Let me be clear: What he said here is complete nonsense.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Sep 2013 @ 10:01 AM

  177. Re- Comment by Mal Adapted — 20 Sep 2013 @ 7:39 AM

    I strongly agree. The “don’t fool yourself” imperative was drummed into my head in my graduate program and later I observed embarrassing instances where others had made this mistake. Correcting these mistakes can promote success for bright postdocs and occasional grad students.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 20 Sep 2013 @ 10:35 AM

  178. Steve Fish wrote: “Empirical evidence it just unverified opinion”

    Sorry, but that’s just plain wrong — of course, if you want to make up a new definition for the word “empirical” that is pretty much the exact opposite of the dictionary definition, you are free to do that.

    Empirical: “derived from or guided by experience or experiment, depending upon experience or observation alone, provable or verifiable by experience or experiment“.

    Steve Fish wrote: “Pre-scientific approaches didn’t provide data and an analysis that allowed others to test their conclusions and, in any case, there was no community that was capable of evaluating what they proclaimed.”

    On the contrary, pre-scientific approaches provided PLENTY of “analysis” and there was always a learned community capable of evaluating that “analysis” based on principles of pure logic, pure reason, theology, what Aristotle said, or whatever.

    What that community did NOT do was to test “analysis” by deriving testable predictions from it, and then actually testing those predictions against actual observation, which is the ONLY way we ever obtain “data”.

    Mal Adapted wrote: “Empiricism is a foundation of of Science, but intersubjective verification is even more fundamental.”

    Well, as Bohr’s one-sentence summary of the Copenhagen Interpretation (which represents the truly radical empiricist epistemology that quantum theory requires) put it, “It is sufficient that we can unambiguously communicate the results of our observations”.

    Yes, of course, scientific empiricism must be rigorous, careful, precise, preferably quantitative, and subject to verification by multiple observers. Science sets a very high standard for empirical observation, but what is most “fundamental” is the recognition that actual observation is the ultimate test of truth; indeed, that it is the definition of truth.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Sep 2013 @ 12:28 PM

  179. Hank, here

    End-Cretaceous marine mass extinction not caused by productivity collapse

    Food supply to the seafloor in the Pacific Ocean after the Cretaceous/Paleogene
    boundary event

    Another paper (paywalled)
    Interpreting carbon-isotope excursions: Strangelove oceans

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Sep 2013 @ 1:13 PM

  180. > this study from 1985 … but is it correct that
    > they essentially describe a stratified water column?

    Can you ask your question differently? I can’t figure out what you mean to ask. Citing studies may help explain what they’re describing:,5&hl=en

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Sep 2013 @ 1:18 PM

  181. That list of the citing studies leads to, e.g.:

    Long-term legacy of massive carbon input to the Earth system: Anthropocene vs. Eocene — RE Zeebe, JC Zachos

    Here, we discuss the long-term legacy of massive carbon release into the Earth’s surface reservoirs, comparing the Anthropocene with a past analogue,the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM,approx. 56Ma).
    We examine the natural processes and time scales of CO2 neutralization that determine the atmospheric lifetime of CO2 in response to carbon release. We compare the duration of carbon release during the Anthropocene versus PETM and the ensuing effects on ocean acidification and marine calcifying organisms. We also discuss the conundrum that the observed duration of the PETM appears to be much longer than predicted by models that use first order assumptions. Finally, we comment on past and future mass extinctions and recovery times ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Sep 2013 @ 1:36 PM

  182. Interpreting carbon-isotope excursions: Strangelove oceans

    can be read here

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Sep 2013 @ 1:49 PM

  183. A chunk from Zeebee and Zachos:

    Rapidly increasing CO2 levels over a few hundred years because of fossil fuel burning cannot be stabilized by natural feedbacks such as dissolution of deep-sea carbonates or weathering of terrestrial carbonate and silicate rocks. These natural feedbacks operate on time scales of tens to hundreds of thousands of years and are too slow to mitigate ocean acidification on time scales of decades to centuries. But could natural feedbacks have mitigated ocean acidification during the PETM? …
    …. Our results show that if the proposed PETM scenario roughly resembles the actual conditions during the onset of the event, then the effects on ocean chemistry, including surface ocean saturation state, were less severe during the PETM than expected for the future[65,66]. As shown by Zeebe et al.[4], not only the magnitude but also the time scale of the carbon input is critical for its effect on ocean carbonate chemistry.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Sep 2013 @ 2:13 PM

  184. Re- Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Sep 2013 @ 12:28 PM

    Empirical evidence is just that, but assemble it into a peer reviewed study in a reputable journal and I will take a look. I will even pay attention if you show me ten articles on a subject.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 20 Sep 2013 @ 4:27 PM

  185. You should be able to get behind The Australian’s Curry concern troll opinion piece by google….. Consensus distorts the climate picture

    worked for me

    Comment by john byatt — 20 Sep 2013 @ 7:50 PM

  186. Open access

    the editorial The Australian

    CONSENSUS has its strengths and weaknesses. In politics it can sometimes be a useful model; in other spheres, not so. Until recently it was not a term we associated with science, where the testing of provable facts takes precedence. The fact, for instance, that Nicolaus Copernicus failed to win a public consensus during his lifetime did not alter the reality of his postulations that the Earth was not at the centre of the universe. Likewise, the Earth was a sphere long before the flat Earth consensus dissipated. In that seminal study on such matters, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, the point is clarified. An idolising crowd is told they should not follow Brian as the Messiah, but think for themselves. “You’re all individuals,” Brian tells them. “Yes,” the crowd responds in unison. “We are all individuals.” Then a lone voice pipes up. “I’m not.” In this case, the consensus was wrong; as was the dissenter. – See more at:

    [Response: This is written as if discussing the science and coming to a consensus on what is known, what is uncertain and how this might be quantified is some kind of tyranny. It isn’t – it is simply what people do; this demonisation of agreement is verging on the ridiculous. – gavin]

    Comment by john byatt — 20 Sep 2013 @ 8:09 PM

  187. Hank, Can you ask your question differently? I can’t figure out what you mean to ask. Citing studies may help explain what they’re describing.

    I wonder if this wiki entry is correct (i made some edits)

    All the studies there appear to describe “Euxinia” Though it would be great maybe to get some clarification from Peter Ward (who commented before here at RC) or someone else. And maybe a post from RC on this subject, which could focus on SLR sensitiviy and ocean impacts.

    Also see Peter Ward Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps (April 2013)

    Re Zachos,
    Ocean Acidification in Earth’s Past: Insights to the Future – James Zachos
    (June 2013)

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Sep 2013 @ 8:42 PM

  188. Also relevant

    Conditions required for oceanic anoxia/euxinia: Constraints from a one-dimensional ocean biogeochemical cycle model

    Widespread black shale depositional intervals termed oceanic anoxic events (OAEs) occurred repeatedly during the Phanerozoic Eon. Here we developed a new vertical one-dimensional ocean biogeochemical cycle model that involves several chemical reactions in an oxic–anoxic–sulfidic water column. To explore the theoretical constraints for global oceanic anoxia/euxinia quantitatively and systematically, we conducted sensitivity analyses of the proposed causal mechanisms, including elevated rates of riverine phosphorus (P) input, ocean stagnation, and lowered oxygen solubility due to climate warming. We gave special attention to the vertical chemical structure of the ocean and also to the characteristic behaviors of the marine P cycle under anoxic conditions, because the relationship between the depth of anoxia and the benthic phosphorus flux could be important for the occurrence of oceanic anoxia/euxinia. Steady-state simulations indicated that (1) a decrease in ocean stagnation or oxygen solubility is not enough by itself to achieve widespread anoxia with the present reactive P river input rate, and (2) shallow water anoxia followed by massive P liberation from surface sediments can lead to widespread eutrophication and anoxia/euxinia. We conclude that elevated riverine flux of reactive P is the most important factor for triggering global anoxic events via a positive feedback loop among ocean anoxia, phosphorus regeneration, and surface biological productivity.


    Massive release of hydrogen sulfide to the surface ocean and atmosphere during intervals of oceanic anoxia

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Sep 2013 @ 9:47 PM

  189. SecularAnimist @178 — You put it too strongly or rather, unconditionally. For a nuanced view, read The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

    Comment by David B. Benson — 20 Sep 2013 @ 9:50 PM

  190. Oh this seems to be the missing link

    Reconstructing the history of euxinia in a coastal sea (Current Issue Sep 2013)

    Areas of the coastal ocean where oxygen is low or absent in bottom waters, so-called dead zones, are expanding worldwide (Diaz and Rosenberg, 2008). Increased inputs of nutrients from land are enhancing algal blooms, and the sinking of this organic matter to the seafloor and subsequent decay leads to a high oxygen demand in bottom waters. Depending on the physical characteristics of the coastal system, this may initiate periodic or permanent water column anoxia and euxinia, with the latter term implying the presence of free sulfide (Kemp et al., 2009). Global warming is expected to exacerbate the situation, through its effects on oxygen solubility and water column stratification. In many modern coastal systems, anthropogenic changes are superimposed on natural variation and lack of knowledge of such variation makes the prediction of future changes in water column oxygen challenging (e.g., Grantham et al., 2004). That natural drivers alone can be the cause of widespread coastal anoxia is evident from studies of greenhouse periods in Earth’s past, including the oceanic anoxic events of the Cretaceous and Toarcian (Jenkyns, 2010).


    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Sep 2013 @ 9:50 PM

  191. A compilation on Euxinia and Anoxic Ocean Environmental Change

    Comment by prokaryotes — 20 Sep 2013 @ 10:56 PM

  192. Updated (working) link from #168

    July 2013 Climate sensitivity in the Anthropocene
    M. Previdi, a *B.G.Liepert, b D. Peteet, a,c ,J.Hansen, c,d D. J. Beerling, e A. J. Broccoli, f S. Frolking, g J. N. Galloway, h M. Heimann, i C. Le Qu ́ er ́ e, j S. Levitus k and V. Ramaswamy

    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Sep 2013 @ 1:46 AM

  193. > prokaryotes says:
    > 20 Sep 2013 at 8:42 PM
    > Hank, Can you ask your question differently?
    > I can’t figure out what you mean to ask.

    What? You’re echoing what I asked you, but I’m not sure why.

    Never mind, I’ll just watch for a while.
    Let someone else figure it out.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2013 @ 9:03 AM

  194. Prokaryotes, you copy material from other links, put it on your own climate blog, then post here pointing to your copies.

    You’re taking something — attention — from the people who did the original work, by taking credit for the copy.

    The Zachos lecture Prokaryotes points to is a copy of one of a large set — available from the Metcalf Institute,

    Doesn’t pointing to the original seem somehow more appropriate than copying to your own site and pointing to your copy?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2013 @ 9:56 AM

  195. I don’t think practical observation from daily life should be summarily dismissed. If the general population is to be activated to get past our deadlock, observation of consequences to extreme weather and overall seasons, for example, do more than any number of scientific studies. We’ve had an uptick in understanding because the idea of blocked weather patterns is possible for laypeople to grasp. Trying to put this in perspective is helpful and indicating scale and timespan helps with that.

    I realize I’m going a little sideways from the point at issue, but anecdotal evidence from farmers and old-timers can be useful. Our memories can be short, and life may be an illusion (a persistent one, as Einstein said), but for most people that’s what they believe most. Of course they mostly believe in some rather odd forms of deity as well, but we have to take the rough with the smooth.

    (ps, KR@113 (13 Sept) if you’re around, thanks for the link on von Storch. That was interesting and indicated the line of country. The assertions from the other side of the moon seem to have died out.)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 21 Sep 2013 @ 11:48 AM

  196. Steve Fish wrote: “Empirical evidence is just that, but assemble it into a peer reviewed study in a reputable journal and I will take a look.”

    Yes, of course, the quality and reliability of empirical evidence can vary widely, particularly regarding phenomena that are in principle or practice difficult to observe. And one of the strengths of science is that it sets very high standards for empirical observation — we must define precisely what and how we are observing, observations must be replicable and preferably quantitative, etc.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Sep 2013 @ 12:38 PM

  197. Hank, my earlier question “but is it correct that they essentially describe a stratified water column?”
    Has been resolved for the most part. The events described are related to ocean anoxia and ocean euxinia. With the latter being anoxia in the presence of hydrogen sulphide. I wonder now why experts rarely use the terms. I only found out about euxinia by reading the cited papers. And that is strange because so many popular scientist talk about it. The scenario is popular known as “Under a Green sky”.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Sep 2013 @ 12:44 PM

  198. Global Warming Amplified by reduced Sulfur Fluxes as a result of Ocean Acidification

    Climate change and decreasing seawater pH (ocean acidification)1 have widely been considered as uncoupled consequences of the anthropogenic CO2 perturbation2, 3. Recently, experiments in seawater enclosures (mesocosms) showed that concentrations of dimethylsulphide (DMS), a biogenic sulphur compound, were markedly lower in a low-pH environment4. Marine DMS emissions are the largest natural source of atmospheric sulphur5 and changes in their strength have the potential to alter the Earth’s radiation budget6. Here we establish observational-based relationships between pH changes and DMS concentrations to estimate changes in future DMS emissions with Earth system model7 climate simulations. Global DMS emissions decrease by about 18(±3)% in 2100 compared with pre-industrial times as a result of the combined effects of ocean acidification and climate change. The reduced DMS emissions induce a significant additional radiative forcing, of which 83% is attributed to the impact of ocean acidification, tantamount to an equilibrium temperature response between 0.23 and 0.48 K. Our results indicate that ocean acidification has the potential to exacerbate anthropogenic warming through a mechanism that is not considered at present in projections of future climate change.


    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Sep 2013 @ 1:45 PM

  199. Re:ocean euxinia

    I believe I have previously referred to Kidder and Worsley who had a freely available summary in GSA (doi: 10.1130/G131A.1). I find their treatment quite plausible, and repeat my question: what is a possible time frame for the Red Sea or Med to go euxinic ? I suspect the answer is larger than a millenium or three although they list a number of feedback timescales in Table 2 which are uncomfortably small (10^2 yr) and which include warm-brine sinking and polar upwelling of desert-belt generated brine. They suggest global hothouse climate initiation in 10^4 or 10^5 yr but I have no physical intuition for the timescale for euxinia in enclosed oceans. I would appreciate some insight.


    Comment by sidd — 21 Sep 2013 @ 2:50 PM

  200. I see from one of the links above to Slomp(2013) from prokaryotes at
    (which is unfortunately no working for me at the moment)

    that the timescale for the Black Sea to go euxinic was on the order of 10^3 yr. This is uncomfortably small.


    Comment by sidd — 21 Sep 2013 @ 3:02 PM

  201. Hank, “You’re taking something — attention — from the people who did the original work, by taking credit for the copy.”

    You got that right, that blog post help to bring attention to a specific subject, the rest appears to be your common rumblings, or shall we say concerns. Your assertion that i take credit for other peoples work is a troll argument. In my opinion you should be banned from this blog.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Sep 2013 @ 3:07 PM

  202. It’s a plant food and a catastrophe.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Sep 2013 @ 3:19 PM


    The most catastrophic extinction event in the history of animal life occurred at the end of the Permian Period, ca. 252 Mya. Ocean acidification and global oceanic euxinia have each been proposed as causes of this biotic crisis, but the magnitude and timing of change in global ocean chemistry remains poorly constrained.
    Here we use Ca, Mo and U isotopes applied to globally distributed, well dated late Permian- early Triassic sedimentary sections to better constrain the magnitude and timing of change in ocean chemistry through this interval. All the investigated carbonate successions (Turkey, Italy and China) exhibit decreasing d44/40Ca compositions, paralleling a major decrease in d13C values. These findings support an episode of ocean acidification coincident with the major biotic crisis. The Mo and U isotope records exhibit significant rapid negative anomalies at the onset of the main extinction interval, suggesting rapid expansion of anoxic and euxinic marine bottom waters during the extinction interval. The rapidity of the isotope excursions in Mo and U suggests substantially reduced residence times of these elements in seawater relative to the modern, consistent with expectations for a time of widespread anoxia. The large C-isotope variability during the early Triassic, which is similar to that of the early-middle Cambrian, suggests imply largely biogenetically controlled perturbations of the oceanic carbon cycle. These findings strengthen the evidence for a global ocean acidification event coupled with rapid expansion of anoxic zones as drivers of end-Permian extinction in the oceans.


    Freshwater influx has been linked to euxinia.

    The Black Sea is the largest euxinic basin in the world and differs in being permanently euxinic. This is the result of the strong stratification that developed after its fore-runner fresh water lake became connected to the Mediterranean Sea through the narrow, shallow Straits of the Bosporus at ca. 9 kyr B.P. Water column anoxia developed across the deep basin from ca. 7.5 kyr B.P. onward (Degens and Ross, 1974)


    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Sep 2013 @ 3:28 PM

  204. Susan Anderson:

    I don’t think practical observation from daily life should be summarily dismissed.

    I agree, but neither should they be summarily accepted. What should we do when two old-timers relate conflicting anecdotes? If one says “Last summer was hotter than I can remember! Must be that global warming.” and another says “It’s freakin’ cold where I live! Where’s your global warming now, huh?”, which one should we believe? What if they’re both fooling themselves? The best policy is to say to both of them (or perhaps just to ourselves), “Maybe: let’s look at the data.” What if the data aren’t conclusive? All we can say then is “Maybe.”

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 21 Sep 2013 @ 3:53 PM

  205. Re- Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Sep 2013 @ 3:07 PM

    Regarding the videos on your site I would expect a prominently displayed notice with the video that says something like -“This video is presented here with the kind permission of” whomever, so that the folks who actually made the videos will get credit for their hard work. You did get permission didn’t you?


    Comment by Steve Fish — 21 Sep 2013 @ 5:09 PM

  206. New Antarctic ice core reveals secrets of climate change

    Climatologists debated exactly how the north triggered the south, though most agreed that the global ocean conveyor belt played a role, but they agreed that “Antarctica took its signal from the north to get it going.” Fudge’s team agrees that warming kicked into high gear 18,000 years ago, but they found evidence of warming in West Antarctica beginning between 2,000 and 4,000 years before the northern “trigger.”

    As ever, things are typically more linked than less. Systems are like that.

    (Bold mine as replacement for quotes; italics original.)

    Comment by Killian — 21 Sep 2013 @ 5:44 PM

  207. I note a paper by Boyle et al. from February of this year (Canfield is on the author list …) noting the importance of the nitrogen cycle in euxinic episodes.
    DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2511

    “If our arguments are correct, it would imply that global productivity occurred in the context of two distinct N-cycle states, fixation/euxinic and non-fixation/non-euxinic, between which an interchange occurred in time and/or space until the Neoproterozoic oxygenation event caused anoxic conditions to become a much more localized/transient phenomenon,permitting the sustainable build of a nitrate pool and making nitrogen fixation itself a more spatially contextual phenomenon.”

    They make a testable prediction for anticorrelation of delta-N15 and euxinia, and point out the importance of deep ocean ammonium chemistry.

    I like the approach, it is conceptually quite clean, relying on an energy hierarchy:

    “We focus on the nutrient composition and mass balance of the upwelling zone, into which newly fixed organic carbon sinks from the photic zone, and is subsequently respired in a manner dictated by electron-acceptor availability, according to the hierarchy in free energy yield: O2 &gt NO3(-) &gt SO4(2-)”

    I really have to dig out my huge geological periodic table with all the redox states. And I find I quite like sayin “anammox” out loud.


    Comment by sidd — 21 Sep 2013 @ 6:17 PM

  208. Steve Fish, why do you ask me rhetoric questions, which are OT and have no merit? Concern trolls should be banned.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 21 Sep 2013 @ 7:03 PM

  209. Prokaryotes, to Hank Roberts:

    Your assertion that i take credit for other peoples work is a troll argument. In my opinion you should be banned from this blog.

    Prok, you often have worthwhile things to say, but I’d vote you off the island before Hank. Sorry.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 21 Sep 2013 @ 10:09 PM

  210. Killian #206, it is my guess that the sea-saw effects records from the past will probably not happen this time around, because of the unprecedented Earth energy imbalance.

    With rapidly flowing rivers below Antarctic glaciers today and mass lose observed from GRACE it appears that the north and south will melt in the same period – not thousand years apart.

    Remote Antarctic Trek Reveals A Glacier Melting From Below

    Comment by prokaryotes — 22 Sep 2013 @ 1:18 AM

  211. false sense of security?

    “Between about 1880 and 1890, temperatures cooled by about 0.4C. Between 1900 and 1910 temperatures cooled close to 0.3C. Between 1945 and 1950 temperatures cooled about 0.35C. Between 1962 and 1965 temperatures cooled about 0.3C. There are other examples, but these were decade-scale cooling of 0.3C to 0.4C.

    The most recent period of similar relevance starts with the extremely hot year, 1998. Since 1998, through to 2012, the temperatures cooled by 0.03C. However you choose to view the figure you simply have to conclude that natural variability, aerosols and solar variability have caused global cooling in the past of a scale that dwarfs anything that has occurred in the last 15 years.

    So, here is what I think we should be genuinely concerned about”

    Comment by john byatt — 22 Sep 2013 @ 1:58 AM

    Posted September 12, 2013

    Remote Antarctic Research Details Ice Melt Below Massive Glacier

    … expedition to the Western Antarctic Ice Shelf’s (WAIS) Pine Island Glacier, where landmark measurements of ocean/ice interactions are beginning to clarify what experts have long called “the biggest source of uncertainty in global sea level projections.”

    Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Department of Oceanography Research Professor Tim Stanton and University of Alaska Department of Physics Professor Martin Truffer led the team to the remote edge of the Pine Island Glacier’s massive shelf. And the results of their expedition are giving scientists a rare look beneath the ice at one of the most critical research sites on the planet – a site whose fate could affect the lives of millions.
    <a href=""NPS&#039; Pine Island Glacier news page … blogs … links … and related websites.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2013 @ 11:19 AM

  213. NPS link is:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2013 @ 11:20 AM

  214. Since I do not want to get involved in a little dispute higher up I have deliberately not followed it in detail.

    There is a different but related issue. Should a scientific paper or book restrict its references to primary (i.e original) sources?

    Answer. I think the answer is yes, especially for recent work, but not when it involves going back to the 19th century or when the sources may be hard to find in a typical science library. In that case there may even be some controversy about who thought of it first. For example any text book should be sufficient as a source for the Clausius Clapeyron equation, going to the original source each time would be absurd and might involve a decision about whether it should really be Carnot as suggested in Feynman’s Lectures on Physics.

    But if it is a blog, or just a comment following a non-academic article,
    there might be a problem with the original source, which might have too much in it for the impatient reader who is only prepared to click and spend 6 seconds. Perhaps the ideal solution in this case would be to provide two references?

    Comment by deconvoluter — 22 Sep 2013 @ 12:25 PM

  215. Susan Anderson wrote: “I don’t think practical observation from daily life should be summarily dismissed.”

    Mal Adapted replied: “I agree, but neither should they be summarily accepted … The best policy is … let’s look at the data.”

    Practical observations from daily life should be verified, documented, collected and collated. Then you have some data to look at.

    Mal Adapted wrote: “What should we do when two old-timers relate conflicting anecdotes? … What if they’re both fooling themselves?”

    I think it’s not quite fair to equate “practical observation from daily life” with “anecdotes” from “old-timers”. There are plenty of people — gardeners and bird-watchers, for example — who keep accurate and reliable records of their “practical observations from daily life”.

    And in any case, all you’ve got from your “two old-timers” is two data points. Get a few hundred “old-timers” to describe how different the seasons and weather are today from what they remember decades ago, and you may start to see a “signal” emerge from the “noise” of subjective recollection.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Sep 2013 @ 12:30 PM

  216. EcoEquity is a source for focus on both science and policy.
    I’ve come to trust EcoEquity — after checking much of what’s written there. You can look this stuff up. They do it right — pointers and links and references.

    EcoEquity’s main page is linked in the sidebar at RealClimate under Other Opinions.

    The latest from EcoEquity is: You want the truth? Dangerous Climate Change is already here, and the scientists know it.

    if you’re tired of the smoothly-leveled understatement that we usually get from the IPCC — take a look at Is Climate Change Already Dangerous? a new report by David Spratt of Australia’s Climate Code Red

    I’ll not summarize this report; there’s no point because it’s already a summary, one which sticks extremely close to the original scientific literature…. its focus is the Arctic …. is excellent … it lays out the basics of the situation and gives you the citations you need to drill deeper.

    Question for climate scientists: where else is the NAME model mentioned? What’s published you’d recommend to read, and what’s the gossip?

    “… regional climate model (named “NAME”) … is a major improvement on the old state of the art. Which is really too bad, because according to Dr. Wieslaw Maslowski, one of NAME’s developers …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2013 @ 12:54 PM

  217. PS re the Arctic, that’s mentioned at the start of the current RC thread on mismatches between models and observations:

    “… sea ice loss rates being much too low in CMIP3…. seems to be very sensitive to model resolution and has improved in CMIP5 ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Sep 2013 @ 1:45 PM

  218. deconvoluter #214, well there is the general discussion around research which is in part tax payer funded and the access to it. And then there are abstracts and things like citing, which includes references of sources and author names. There is nothing wrong with compiling abstracts or open access content or embedding videos.

    On the bottom line, because climate change is the biggest challenge we face as a species, relevant science should be open to all. Basically to help fast pace the process of R&D and better understand uncertainties.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 22 Sep 2013 @ 2:02 PM

  219. Thanks SecularAnimist, you made the point I was trying to make with a bit more detail and elegance. I came at all this (though my scientific education was incomplete it was not negligible) by starting to collect world weather information in a consistent fashion about 10 years ago, and noting a lot of anecdotal information from the types you mention. I had been aware of ecology and environmental issues for decades, but it looked to me as if it was getting serious and could not longer be left to the sidelines. I don’t think that’s an avenue of thought that should be discouraged, though one may suggest the observer be careful not to manufacture evidence, and to note the many interweavings of complexity. I’ve seen the two people with direct contradictory information situation, but I’ve also seen a massive accumulation of knowledge that goes beyond scientific studies.

    Mal Adapted, thanks too, I’m with you on HR and Prok. I think the links to the site should be accompanied by a note about the original – maybe not a link, for simplicity’s sake, but something that acknowledges the appropriative nature of the aggregation. Aggregation is very useful and Prokaryotes works hard and provides a useful service. A parallel example might be the way I rely on EcoWatch’s newsletter. But Hank keeps drilling down to sources and facts, and that enriches RealClimate. People seem enamored of labeling others “trolls” and I wish they’d cut it out.

    Back to science and observation, I had some trouble a couple years back with the term reductive, which I learned from my father who uses it in a way slightly different from the norm. I had to go back and check to make sure I heard him right, and to acknowledge that his is not the common definition. However, the point is that if you cannot analyze something scientifically, or narrow it down sufficiently, that does not mean it does not exist.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 22 Sep 2013 @ 2:25 PM

  220. What Mal Adapted @209 wrote.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 22 Sep 2013 @ 8:16 PM

  221. Re- Comment by Susan Anderson — 22 Sep 2013 @ 2:25 PM

    You will have to excuse me but your statement about when – “you cannot analyze something scientifically, or narrow it down sufficiently, that does not mean it does not exist”- is very familiar to me in its various forms for presenting an idea that I think might be true, but also to promote homeopathy, chemtrails, autism caused by immunization, dowsing, fake moon landings, and the like. Your statement should be completed with “but it also does not mean that it does exist.“ How can we know which is the case?


    Comment by Steve Fish — 22 Sep 2013 @ 9:25 PM

  222. Steve Fish @221.
    Perhaps Susan Anderson’s statement would be better completed thus:-
    “If you cannot analyze something scientifically or narrow it down sufficiently, that does not mean it does not exist; but if you can analyze it but won’t analyze it you are then likely into the territory of homeopathy, chemtrails, autism caused by immunization, dowsing & fake moon landings.”

    Comment by MARodger — 23 Sep 2013 @ 8:55 AM

  223. Yes, I’m not a fan of pseudoscience, sorry if that was not clear. Steve Fish’s list includes a number of bad causes, and I also work diligently to present climate science when and where I can. The animus here appears to me to be misdirected. Lay people are capable of thought and must be respected if we are to make progress.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Sep 2013 @ 10:19 AM

  224. Re- Comment by MARodger — 23 Sep 2013 @ 8:55 AM

    I like your addition to my comment a lot, but I don’t want to leave out situations for which there is, as yet, not enough data for a systematic analysis. This was even true of my extreme examples at their beginning.


    Comment by Steve Fish — 23 Sep 2013 @ 11:46 AM

  225. “…if you cannot analyze something scientifically, or narrow it down sufficiently, that does not mean it does not exist.”

    A statement I’m sympathetic to, although Steve Fish’s point is certainly well-taken. But it looks a little rabbit-holish in the context of RC, because it can be read in many ways–or perhaps I should say, ‘read into many different contexts.’ We could spend a lot of time entangling the different ways people read it, or we could continue talking about climate science.

    Or maybe a bit of both–as such cases usually turn out.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Sep 2013 @ 11:47 AM

  226. Steve Fish wrote: “… also to promote homeopathy, chemtrails, autism caused by immunization, dowsing, fake moon landings, and the like.”

    It doesn’t seem to me that any of those things would fall under Susan’s aphorism “If you cannot analyze something scientifically, or narrow it down sufficiently, that does not mean it does not exist.”

    All of those things can certainly be “narrowed down sufficiently” to be “analyzed scientifically”. They are all well-defined objective (accessible to multiple observers) phenomena (or alleged phenomena), so there’s no reason why they should not be amenable to scientific analysis. And indeed homeopathy and the alleged connection between vaccines and autism have been extensively scientifically analyzed.

    One area where science does seem to encounter difficulty is in studying subjective phenomena, which are by definition not accessible to multiple observers, and are also difficult to “narrow down sufficiently” for analysis.

    And then there is the so-called “hard question” of the very existence of subjective experience itself.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Sep 2013 @ 12:26 PM

  227. Susan Anderson: not to pile on, as you and I have many of the same goals. But while lay people are surely capable of thought, but unless more come to accept the authority of Science over magical thinking, there’s no hope we’ll turn from our current course of folly.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 23 Sep 2013 @ 12:59 PM

  228. I think I over-edited my last comment.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 23 Sep 2013 @ 1:00 PM

  229. climatologists, such as Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, say sea level rise is “unequivocal proof” that greenhouse gases are continuing to heat the planet, and that much of this added heat is being absorbed by the oceans.

    As ocean water warms, it expands and drives sea levels higher, Patzert said. Currently, oceans are rising at an average of more than 3 millimeters, or 0.12 of an inch, per year. This pace is significantly faster than the average rate over the last several thousand years, scientists say.

    “There’s no doubt that in terms of global temperatures we’ve hit a little flat spot in the road here,” Patzert said. “But there’s been no slowdown whatsoever in sea level rise, so global warming is alive and well.”,0,791164.story

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Sep 2013 @ 1:10 PM

  230. We need to do more than “drilling down” and checking facts.

    Help readers find the process of science. Science isn’t single prominent studies — science is the process of reading and citing and extending work over time.

    I said this earlier to Prokaryotes‘ defense of his approach.

    The point is that copies are dead ends. They bump a site up higher in Google’s search engines because they contain words people search for. But they don’t help people find the science behind the words. Yes, Prokaryotes’ site is now usually on the first page Google returns when most any popular climate/warming question is typed into the search box. It’s not the best company to be found in, though.

    Gavin reminds us all to use the DOI.
    DOI gives a permanent link.

    This is a problem for those interested in scientific work. Bit rot–web links go bad

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Sep 2013 @ 2:05 PM

  231. Hank Roberts, could you for once point out valid issue you have with any particular content at my site, other than your issue with quoting abstracts, which amounts to the opposite of science communication.

    As long you do not provide constructiveness we can not progress.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 23 Sep 2013 @ 6:11 PM

  232. Does anyone know if the IPCC AR5 is addressing ESS? And btw it appears as if the RC search function is broken.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 23 Sep 2013 @ 6:16 PM

  233. Is this graph released under CC-BY? If yes, could i find a CC-BY notice here somewhere?

    Comment by prokaryotes — 23 Sep 2013 @ 6:23 PM

  234. Wind and Rain Belts to Shift North as Planet Warms: Redistribution of Rainfall Could Make Middle East, Western US and Amazonia Drier
    Well, the Middle East and the Western US are already becoming drier.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 23 Sep 2013 @ 9:05 PM


    I appear to have mauled the original. I still believe that it is possible to view the world from several different points of view without going astray and that climate in particular requires a broad view. Stephen Schneider had that kind of broad vision. I’m having trouble figuring out how to say more than that at the moment, but if I figure out a way to make it clearer what I’m getting at I will. If it weren’t important to get all sorts of people unable to appreciate scientific rigor, I’d just let it go.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Sep 2013 @ 9:37 PM

  236. Los Angeles Times front page story today, Monday

    “Global warming ‘hiatus’ puts climate change scientists on the spot”,0,791164.story

    was disappointing on several levels. For example, it calls the storage of heat in the ocean over the last 15 years a ‘theory.’ It appears it might be easy for some readers of this piece to conclude that the quotes from the following 3 scientists suggest that AGW is still controversial within the established climate community.

    Judith Curry, Georgia Tech
    Francis Zwiers, U. of Victoria, CA
    Roger Piekle, U. of CO

    Is it more accurate to say these 3 scientists are actually working to fix flaws in current models ?

    Comment by Thomas Bleakney — 23 Sep 2013 @ 10:54 PM

  237. I think posting gobs of article titles and abstracts each linked to yet another website with article titles and abstracts before one actually gets to a DOI or link to journal is tiring on the reader. We can all use citation indices.

    That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing a precis compiled every week, say, with “interesting” articles, with comment as to why the compiler thinks they are “interesting.” After all, it’s peoples’s thoughts and opinions that we read this site for.

    Sorta like skepticalscience does. They put a list up and you can click thru to see the comment on the article.

    If you must put up gobs of references then putting up a list of titles each linked to doi would be much less annoying for those among us who can’t use pagedown fast enuf or haven’t got a killfile.

    Or at least a comment by each title telling why the poster thinks it is interesting.

    Hey. tell me why you like that article, lets talk about it. This is Unforced Variations, after all.


    Comment by sidd — 24 Sep 2013 @ 12:22 AM

  238. #236–Well, Francis Zwiers is, I think:

    Note the attempts to consider (as Gavin recommended in the recent “mismatch” post) possible reasons for discrepancies between models and observations–unaccounted aerosol forcings, biases due to mis-estimated stratospheric water vapor, and so on.

    I’d be a bit doubtful of Curry, based on her blog opinions, but she seems to have a lot of 3rd author citations in various studies, some of which involve modeling, over the past couple of years:

    This one is on your point:

    (Although it’s descriptive rather than prescriptive, or even diagnostic, to judge by the abstract.)

    Pielke doesn’t work in climate modeling at all. Actually, he’s not qualified for it: “Pielke earned a B.A. in mathematics (1990), a M.A. in public policy (1992), and a Ph.D. in political science, all from the University of Colorado at Boulder,” according to WIkipedia. He’s a policy guy, not a climate scientist–it’s pretty indicative that a recent research topic is the governance of sports organizations such as FIFA.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Sep 2013 @ 8:10 AM

  239. re Curry, Zwiers, and Pielke

    Since the first and last are largely known quantities, I thought I’d look up Zwiers and found this:

    Doesn’t look to me like a valuable contribution to advancing understanding of climate science.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 24 Sep 2013 @ 9:18 AM

  240. “Is it more accurate to say these 3 scientists are actually working to fix flaws in current models ?”

    Hmm, maybe a cautionary tale about advocacy here. There’s ‘working’ and then there’s ‘twerking’. Without being able to read minds, it does appear that unsatisfied with just their day jobs, they’ve gotten hungry for notoriety as well.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 24 Sep 2013 @ 10:20 AM

  241. Susan @ 239 – You might do better to examine Dr. Zwiers actual views and contributions rather than the denialators critique of him. Like here and here. Dr Zwiers is a climate modeler making a contribution.

    Comment by flxible — 24 Sep 2013 @ 10:23 AM

  242. Flxible:

    re Zwiers, you are right. I owe him and this community an apology. Looks like an interesting guy and that group’s attempt to condemn him seems to have run up against his honesty and good intentions.

    [Response: Francis is a top-rate scientist of the highest integrity. I strongly suspect that he has been misquoted and mischaracterized quite a bit lately. -mike]

    Taking a moment to check the LATimes article, since I am deeply skeptical about Curry and Pielke, I found also Kosaka and Xie (and Patzert), which led me to this:

    Thanks very much Flxible for getting me to slow down and question my assumptions. I should not subject this community to half-baked conclusions, but I’m glad I read the whole thing, and checked Tamino again. The universal problem of false balance rears its ugly head again, demonstrating all your points about looking before one leaps and sticking to the truth.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 24 Sep 2013 @ 10:50 AM

  243. Susan, is

    If it weren’t important to get all sorts of people unable to appreciate scientific rigor, I’d just let it go.

    what you meant to say, or a typo?

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 24 Sep 2013 @ 11:43 AM

  244. This might be significant: Researchers Wary as DOE Bids to Build Sixth U.S. Climate Model, although the title is perhaps unfortunate.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 24 Sep 2013 @ 2:25 PM

  245. > your issue with quoting abstracts,
    > which amounts to the opposite of science communication.

    What could this mean?

    > As long you do not provide constructiveness
    > we can not progress.

    Use DOI.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2013 @ 2:30 PM

  246. What Does an ‘Energy Transition’ Look Like?
    National Geographic blog
    Daniel Kammen of University of California, Berkeley
    September 24, 2013

    “… a study of what it would take in western North America to expand the deployment of solar power from its current level of less than 1 percent of electricity to one third of total electricity supply by 2050….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2013 @ 5:38 PM

  247. and following the pointer at National Geographic, the study is:

    SunShot Solar Power Reduces Costs and Uncertainty in Future Low-Carbon Electricity Systems
    Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (16), pp 9053–9060, July 19, 2013

    DOI: 10.1021/es401898f
    Copyright © 2013 American Chemical Society

    The abstract begins:

    “The United States Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative has set cost-reduction targets of $1/watt for central-station solar technologies. We use SWITCH, a high-resolution electricity system planning model, to study the implications of achieving these targets for technology deployment and electricity costs in western North America, focusing on scenarios limiting carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. We find that achieving the SunShot target for solar photovoltaics would allow this technology to provide more than a third of electric power in the region, displacing natural gas in the medium term and reducing the need for nuclear and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies, which face technological and cost uncertainties, by 2050. We demonstrate that a diverse portfolio of technological options can help integrate high levels of solar generation successfully and cost-effectively….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2013 @ 5:43 PM

  248. @243 Mal Adapted

    a terrible typo.

    I meant get all sorts of people involved who are unable to fully appreciate the necessities of scientific rigor within the field.

    For an example of the kind of trouble amateurs can cause, look no further. Mea culpa.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 24 Sep 2013 @ 6:34 PM

  249. Cautionary:

    “… Comments can be bad for science. That’s why, here at, we’re shutting them off.

    It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Sep 2013 @ 10:15 PM

  250. I was wondering if Gwynne Dyer is a credible source talking about the consequences of Climate Change? I’ve seen his name and a few articles related to his book, “Climate Wars” where he talks about what the government is doing in regards to Climate Change etc. Dyer sounds pretty dire here but is this a little “over the top” prediction? In the video he says he’s talked to leading scientists and high ranking military personnel about Climate impacts and I suppose his book is based on that information. Thanks

    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 25 Sep 2013 @ 2:46 AM

  251. Chuck Hughes, Gwynne Dyer is a very credible investigative journalist, and as you surmise, his book is based on interviews with military and government sources. Whether you consider his conclusions ‘over the top’ depends on how you view what’s currently happening in the world, particularly the Middle East. The U.S. military considers climate change a potential ‘security threat’ that they are prepared/preparing for.

    Comment by flxible — 25 Sep 2013 @ 9:38 AM

  252. Would any kind of geoengineering work as in pumping sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere? I know this is being widely considered by various countries as a stop-gap solution to keep down temperature. Dr. Peter Ward seems to think it wouldn’t have much effect other than causing acid rain but Gwynne Dyer thinks that it wouldn’t amount to enough sulfur dioxide to harm plants or humans. Then there’s this from Russia:

    So, is geoengineering a viable means of buying some time? Thanks

    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 26 Sep 2013 @ 6:33 AM

  253. Susan Anderson:

    I meant get all sorts of people involved who are unable to fully appreciate the necessities of scientific rigor within the field.

    You never know where you’re going to run in to that kind of person.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 26 Sep 2013 @ 7:28 AM

  254. SA:

    Practical observations from daily life should be verified, documented, collected and collated. Then you have some data to look at.

    This morning I heard a practical observation worth verifying. A co-worker, who’s hunted elk with a bow in New Mexico for 30 years, said that the bow-hunting season used to coincide with the elk rut, but that the rut is now starting a couple of weeks later in the fall.

    It’s easy for me to believe him, but I spent a few minutes with Google Scholar, and found no science to back it up. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence here, but for now I’m holding at “maybe.”

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 26 Sep 2013 @ 9:55 AM

  255. Re geoengineering #252

    Dr. Peter Ward seems to think it wouldn’t have much effect other than causing acid rain (pumping sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere)

    He calls it the craziest and stupidest idea anyone could came up with. He says the acid rain will kill all life.

    [Response: Not even close at the concentrations associated with even a substantial geo-engineering effort (and probably not ever actually). – gavin]

    Comment by prokaryotes — 26 Sep 2013 @ 10:07 AM

  256. The climate scientists at the IPCC cannot be praised enough for holding on against all odds.

    Comment by prokaryotes — 26 Sep 2013 @ 10:18 AM

  257. Mal Adapted wrote: “I spent a few minutes with Google Scholar, and found no science to back it up … for now I’m holding at ‘maybe’.”

    That’s what I would call a genuinely skeptical view.

    I think it’s an interesting exercise for each of us to consider how we react to “there’s no good science on this question” — depending on the question.

    A self-described “skeptic” once sent me a link to a meta-analysis of clinical studies of the efficacy of acupuncture for treating various conditions. He said the meta-analysis “proved” that acupuncture was a useless fraud.

    I read the meta-analysis and found that what it actually concluded was that there was insufficient good quality research to reach any firm conclusions; it discussed the difficulties of conducting such research and possible solutions to those difficulties; and recommended that more research was needed.

    And yet the “skeptic” who sent it to me seemed to genuinely believe that it “proved” acupuncture to be ineffective for anything.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Sep 2013 @ 10:38 AM

  258. #250-1–I wrote about Gwynn Dyer and his “Climate Wars” here:

    He has a very strong background in military affairs (taught at Sandhurst, Britain’s “West Point”) and a very good reputation as a journalist and author.

    On the Middle East as possible exemplar of the kinds of issues that Dyer discusses, see this story by Thomas Friedman:

    The study he quotes is paywalled, unfortunately, but FWIW, it’s here, I think:

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 26 Sep 2013 @ 10:46 AM

  259. @255 I guess I wasn’t too clear. I watched the Peter Ward video where he said that sulfur dioxide would cause enough acid rain to kill all life but in Gwynne Dyer’s talk he said that using sulfur dioxide in small quantities in the outer atmosphere wouldn’t do much harm to plants and animals, citing the volcano that erupted in 1991 which cooled the planet by .5C without causing major disruptions to life. Of course I don’t know other than what I’ve read. I assume there is no “safe” amount of sulfur dioxide that would work and I understand it’s risky anyway and not a permanent solution to the problem. I’m just wondering what other options we know about that may buy us some time.

    I guess the only real solution is to cut CO2 emissions completely but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the immediate future. If we hit the 450ppb/2C of warming as everyone thinks we will, according to Gwynne Dyer, all bets are off and the situation is out of our hands at that point. Is this correct? Thanks

    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 26 Sep 2013 @ 1:07 PM

  260. Mal Adapted: I believe that science and scientists must reach out if we are to progress. We cannot be so exclusive that we shut the doors of knowledge just because there is a tide of obstinate ignorance.

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself,
    Every man is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
    Or of thine own were:
    Any man’s death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind,
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.

    John Donne
    (1624 Meditation 17, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions)

    (captcha: soberyn then)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 26 Sep 2013 @ 2:59 PM

  261. No man is an island.
    He’s a peninsula.
    — Jefferson Airplane

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Sep 2013 @ 4:27 PM

  262. I invite all and sundry to jump up and down on New Scientist, wearing the heaviest possible boots, for their breathlessly enthusiastic welcome (!) of “Frozen fuel: The giant methane bonanza” … “The race is on to tap the world’s biggest and most unusual fossil fuel supply – methane trapped in frozen hydrates in permafrost and at the bottom of the ocean. Read the full story to find out where the world’s biggest fossil fuel reserves are.”

    Comment by MalcolmT — 26 Sep 2013 @ 11:31 PM

  263. Very encouraging to hear BBC Radio 4 this morning in the build up to the AR5 release. Throughout the entire Today programme, not one denialist. Half-hourly headline. Three reports. Three interview slots and the only denialst comment came from reporting the newspaper headlines where the Daily Rail has a “Hardily any warming in 15 years” take on it. Denier Lord Lawson was heard but only in archive when they discussed why lunatics like he had gained such air time.
    I liked Roger Harabin’s exemplar of scientific opinion. from within the science. Paraphrasing ‘We used to be very very very worried about AGW but in the last 6 years our analysis has become more disciplined. So today we should say we are very very worried but we can’t because in the last 6 years nothing has been done to prevent AGW. So today’s more disciplined assessment is that we are indeed very very very worried.’

    Comment by MARodger — 27 Sep 2013 @ 3:27 AM

  264. The IPCC 5th assessment report has been released. Here’s a link to the first part (thanks to dorlomen at POForums for the link):

    Comment by wili — 27 Sep 2013 @ 5:37 AM

  265. @259, yeah i was just making that clear, no judgement because i woudl liek to read more on possible worst case sceanrio’s in that regard. What i found interesting is that Gwynne Dyer also mentions Biochar in the talk you linked. This could really become a serious afford to draw down CO2 emissions and to help soils and plants to protect for weather extremes (Biochar helps to hold more nutrients and water in the topsoil).

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Sep 2013 @ 8:42 AM

  266. No one seems to be replying to the objectionable part of #295 (Chuck Hughes) so I’ll go ahead…

    I have noticed Dyer watchers/readers getting the wrong idea before.

    “If we hit the 450ppb/2C of warming as everyone thinks we will, according to Gwynne Dyer, all bets are off and the situation is out of our hands at that point. Is this correct? Thanks”

    No, short of a civilizational collapse the situation will never “out of our hands”.
    There is no threshold of doom.
    It stands to reason that there are carbon cycle feedbacks which imply that something like thresholds. Just not a single threshold of doom.
    Keeping emissions up will make things worse in the future whether CO2 stands at 395, 450 or 600 ppm. It can always get worse. And therefore emission reductions are always desirable.

    The 450ppm/2C link is only a fairly likely guess.
    There are large uncertainties and we do not know how much it will take to read 2C. Past emissions may already be sufficient to commit the climate to 2C for all we know.
    But however the climate dice rolls, shaving off a few ppm may well make a difference!

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 27 Sep 2013 @ 10:30 AM

  267. Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010 (see Figure SPM.3), and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971. IPCC AR5 Summary for policymakers

    Comment by prokaryotes — 27 Sep 2013 @ 10:34 AM

  268. > all bets are off and the situation is out of our
    > hands at that point. Is this correct?


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Sep 2013 @ 12:05 PM

  269. So Hank, when you say “never” are you telling me that there is no “Point of No Return” when it comes to CO2 levels or Global Average Temperature? I trust your opinion of course but why would someone like Gwynne Dyer go around saying that if we hit 450ppm/2C that that would be a tipping point beyond which various feedbacks would kick in and the results would be beyond human control? Is he being overly dramatic or does he really know something the general public is unaware of?

    I realize that Gwynne is not a scientist but he claims to have a direct line to what the military are planning and what various “high ranking” climate scientists are saying. Are you telling me that we would be able to reverse the climate situation no matter what happens whether it’s in a couple of thousand years or a few centuries? If we’re talking a few centuries that’s one thing but if it’s going to take a few thousand years that’s not really relevant to all the people who would have to suffer through waiting on things to improve.

    Also, are there any plausible geoengineering solutions?


    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 28 Sep 2013 @ 6:15 PM

  270. Susan Anderson, I owe you an apology. In a comment on Dot Earth (still in moderation at this moment), I mentioned that your father is a member of the NAS. You had made that known here at RC a while back, with seemly pride I think, so I took it as public knowledge. In hindsight, I realized you might prefer that it not be. I sincerely hope there are no negative consequences.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 28 Sep 2013 @ 7:22 PM

  271. We have been pushing a car with our kids in it up a hill incline. We have now probably pushed it over the top and it is starting to go down the rocky other side. We can’t know exactly how steep it is, or how many places there might be for the car to come to a rest. But even if (you could say, especially if) we have already pushed it over a ridge, it is always still a good idea to stop pushing the poor car.

    (All analogies fall down at some point, perhaps this in more ways than others, but that’s one of the scenarios that comes to my mind when ‘points of no return’ come up.

    Comment by wili — 28 Sep 2013 @ 7:52 PM

  272. hi Mal, Dad’s identify is known to DotEarthers. They seen to have backed off a bit after making some sickening remarks. I am, however, ambivalent about the usefulness of continuing at DotEarth, which has become safe haven and launching pad for denial. The phonies are skilled at turning meaning on its head, and Andy’s hands-off policy and NYTimes broad amoral verification enables the posse.

    I think PopSci is right and there are better ways to carry on.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 28 Sep 2013 @ 8:19 PM

  273. 269 Chuck H asks, “are there any plausible geoengineering solutions?”

    Yes, chemotherapy is available for Global Warming Syndrome. Regional climates will change no matter what, the ocean will acidify no matter what, but Global Radiation Management will keep temperatures down to whatever we bicker our way into.

    My prediction is that with the next big El Nino the entire Denialsphere will morph into cheerleaders for geoengineering. And, thanks to their delaying tactics, they’ll be right.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 28 Sep 2013 @ 8:39 PM

  274. Anonymous Coward wrote: “There is no threshold of doom.”

    If we continue as we are, there will be. We won’t know it when we cross it. Exactly what and when it is, will only be known in retrospect.

    Assuming there is someone around, who is able to look back at the ever more detailed data we are now accumulating, and analyze it, see what the trends were, how the feedbacks really did get going. Yes, they’ll say — look there, that’s when it went too far.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Sep 2013 @ 11:46 PM

  275. Re: Geoengineering

    Ruddiman makes a strong case that we have been doing it for millennia. I kinda agree.

    So, everybody, go out an plant the right tree. It’s not hard, just do it with thought, and care for it with love as best as you can.

    Be a geoengineer.


    Comment by sidd — 29 Sep 2013 @ 1:36 AM

  276. > Chuck Hughes says:
    > So Hank, when you say “never” are you telling me
    > that there is no “Point of No Return”

    Return to what? The preindustrial atmosphere and climate?
    Dodo and Carolina Parakeet would be in favor.

    No return to any past comfort.
    Irreversible change happened.
    You weren’t paying attention.
    That’s the problem of shifting baselines.

    But — there’s always a point in trying to avoid taking the next stupid step, any further along the wrong path, leading to worse conditions.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Sep 2013 @ 3:26 AM

  277. For Chuck Hughes
    Evidence for shifting baseline syndrome in conservation
    12 FEB 2009, DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2009.00049.x
    Conservation Letters Volume 2, Issue 2, pages 93–100, April 2009

    Shifting baseline syndrome [SBS]…. two forms …: (1) generational amnesia, where knowledge extinction occurs because younger generations are not aware of past biological conditions and (2) personal amnesia, where knowledge extinction occurs as individuals forget their own experience…. is a real problem for those using human perceptions of change to inform conservation policy-making or management.

    Ask anyone who wants a return to some imagined glorious past.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Sep 2013 @ 3:35 AM

  278. also for Chuck Hughes (and SecularAnimist):

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 29 Sep 2013 @ 9:23 AM

  279. This ain’t your kid’s simple back-and-forth playground teeter-totter.

    They’ve hidden the dang DOI — it’s visible in the graphic image of the page at the link.

    Climate Dynamics
    January 2013, Volume 40, Issue 1-2, pp 295-316
    Asymmetries in tropical rainfall and circulation patterns in idealised CO2 removal experiments

    … a CO2 pathway of increasing then decreasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations may lead us to climate states during CO2 decrease that have not been experienced during the increase.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Sep 2013 @ 11:07 AM

  280. The FAO has released new estimates of livestock’s contribution to human-caused GHGs, putting the figure at 14.5 percent (compared to 18 percent in the previous 2006 study):

    Comment by OnceJolly — 29 Sep 2013 @ 5:20 PM

  281. Thank you to Hank Roberts, Anonymous Coward, Jim Larson, SecularAnimist and everyone else who responded to my questions. I’m busy doing my homework. I appreciate you taking the time to educate me.

    Comment by Chuck Hughes — 30 Sep 2013 @ 12:10 AM

  282. UK’s Minister for Climate Change shows his colours at the Conservative Party Conference: link.

    Quote from the Guardian reporting –

    Asked at a fringe meeting organised by the RSPB if the report proved that the climate is “broken”, Paterson said:

    “People get very emotional about this subject and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries.

    “I think the relief of this latest report is that it shows a really quite modest increase, half of which has already happened. They are talking one to two and a half degrees.

    “Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer. It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas.

    “I actually see this report as something we need to take seriously but I am rather relieved that it is not as catastrophic in its forecast as we had been led to believe early on and what it is saying is something we can adapt to over time and we are very good as a race at adapting,” he said.

    Comment by Keith Clarke — 30 Sep 2013 @ 7:43 AM

  283. > for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold
    > in winter, far bigger than heat in summer.

    Not just the biggest cause of death for humans.
    Also an important limiting factor for bugs, bacteria, etc.

    For food and forest products, this warming isn’t good news.

    Hey, you can insulate if we keep winter around, or you can spray pesticides year round if it gets warmer year round.

    What could go wrong?


    Climate Risks: Lessons from the Financial Crisis
    Robin Hahnel Portland State University
    for Economics for Equity and the Environment Network April 2009

    • A black swan is an event that is highly improbable but whose consequences are huge, possibly incalculable.
    • Financial models that ignored black swans contributed to the deregulation of the financial industry over the past three decades.
    • Climate change models that ignore black swans conclude that nothing should be done to avoid climate change because the costs of reducing emissions today are unjustifiably high.
    • Yet as the global financial crisis shows, black swans exist.
    Therefore, an appropriate assessment of risk recommends taking precautionary measures to avoid climate change.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Sep 2013 @ 10:04 AM

  284. @282 “… we are very good as a race at adapting”
    Can’t help but wonder just which race the good minister refers to, and what happens to the rest of the species, human and otherwise? He must have some equally intelligent views on evolution.

    Comment by flxible — 30 Sep 2013 @ 10:28 AM

  285. Keith Clarke @282.
    Owen Paterson is a Secretary of State and a member of the cabinet so he should know better although committed climate denial does still appear to reach that high Tory party. Paterson’s department is “Environment, Food and Rural Affairs” where he’s been for about a year. The Climate Change responsibility of this department was transferred into the Department for Energy and Climate Change back in 2008. So Paterson’s expertise will be fox hunting and badger culls. And his brother-in-law is Matt Ridley.

    Comment by MARodger — 30 Sep 2013 @ 10:29 AM

  286. Re Susan Anderson and others about Dot Earth: I still take a quick look at the posts, but I have skipped the comments for a long time now. Just too much useless stuff to wade through, and I lost the feeling that anything I said there could do any good.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 30 Sep 2013 @ 11:42 AM

  287. Comprehensive review article published online 09/15/2013 in Nature Climate Change: The role of satellite remote sensing in climate change studies.

    The USA, European Union and several other countries have planned new satellite missions for climate observation: in total, 17 satellite missions that can provide improved climatological measurements are scheduled for launch by 2020.However, the recent cancellation of the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) and the Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI) missions show that these initiatives depend on a high level of government commitment.

    I wonder if $79 BILLION will be enough.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 30 Sep 2013 @ 3:19 PM

  288. Re the value of commenting on Dot Earth:

    The denier-in-residence ‘nymed “wmar” is the one I feel is most in need of calling out. It would be exhausting to respond to every one of wmar’s comments, for sure. I’m content to wait for wmar in the tall grass, without trying to keep up with the Gish gallop.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 30 Sep 2013 @ 3:45 PM

  289. The GISTEMP anomaly estimate for Sept, 2013 is not posted yet. Will it be further delayed by the Boehner shutdown?

    [Response: This isn’t done until mid-month usually, so it will depend on how long this lasts. – gavin]

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 1 Oct 2013 @ 6:12 AM

  290. Re 289 Chris Dudley: Visit for your probable answer.

    Comment by Sekerob — 1 Oct 2013 @ 9:13 AM

  291. The ‘Dot Earth’ comments, ironically, seem mostly from outliers who believe being in the NYT gives their ideas credibility.

    Remember C. Northcote Parkinson: “Delay is the deadliest form of denial”?

    These days, blog discussion is evidence of delay working.

    Corporations fund opposing points of view, to keep them actively fighting each other and to hollow out the center where political compromise and agreement are possible.

    “We support a variety of groups across the political spectrum in the interest of encouraging thorough discussion of issues of concern” they say.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Oct 2013 @ 10:02 AM

  292. Gavin (#289),

    Thanks. I was looking for the August number normally posted in mid-September. Looks like even access to the existing data is cut off. One can still follow tropical storm Jerry though.

    Strangely, this completely misleading site is still up:

    It gets the situation entirely backwards.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 1 Oct 2013 @ 10:52 AM

  293. re DotEarth. I have reluctantly concluded that contributing at all lends power to the elbow of disinformation and taken a hike. Answering wmar doesn’t get anywhere, and after a while the implication is the replier is causing the problem: no comment goes unanswered and it’s oilily personal. Since my father has been mentioned, I will say in the way of venting that when I once mentioned that while Dad does not engage with the public climate wars but said he was willing to hold my coat, wmar immediately claimed he was using the coat to defend himself from me. Answering does not have the desired result, but produces a unending effluvium of complicated assertions straight from the Marc Morano playbook. The war on Susan accelerated with the Marcott and Shakun expansion of the temperature record, enabled by a few imports from the MacIntyre universe; I am not hopeful Revkin will come to his senses about what he is enabling. I toy with the idea of suggesting a total boycott of the comments there.

    However, as a bellwether, it demonstrates that media have been flooded with contrary information for weeks, intended to bury the real report in wave after wave of falsity. Since they don’t have to validate anything or be honest, it is possible to repeat and debunked assertions ad nauseam. Any uninformed layperson is going to have a hard time teasing out the real from the unreal.

    If anyone has any idea of how to counter the quantity of misinformation I’d like to know what it is.

    (putting this in September as it is off topic and I am yielding to the temptation to share my frustration)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 1 Oct 2013 @ 11:21 AM

  294. Chris Dudley cites to some guy on Slashdot who claims “coal is burned, the uranium within it remains in the ash and its concentration is no greater than in typical low carbon soils.” No support is given for the claim; the observations of heavy metals widely distributed from coal plants belies it.

    You can look this stuff up in Scholar, if Slashdot isn’t your criterion for good reference material. Just to pick one recent example, there’s

    Yes, if we grew all our food in air free of C-14, we’d have slightly less background radiation — but trivial difference compared to the other radioactive material being spread around the environment from burning coal, and from bomb testing.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Oct 2013 @ 12:19 PM


    From a geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator, Russian meteorological satellite Elektro-L takes high-resolution images of our fair planet every 30 minutes.

    But only twice a year, during an Equinox, can it capture an image like this one, showing an entire hemisphere bathed in sunlight. At an Equinox, the Earth’s axis of rotation is not tilted toward or away from the Sun, so the solar illumination can extend to both the planet’s poles.

    Of course,
    this Elektro-L picture
    was recorded on September 22nd,
    at the northern hemisphere’s autumnal equinox.

    For a moment on that date, the Sun was behind
    the geostationary satellite and a
    telltale glint of reflected sunlight is seen crossing the equator, at the location on the planet with satellite and sun directly overhead (5MB animated gif).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Oct 2013 @ 2:12 PM

  296. Hank,

    You’ve discovered that phosphogypsum contains uranium-238 and its naturally occurring decay products uranium-234 and polonium-210. It may interest you to know that phosphogypsum is produced from fertilizer manufacture and has little to do with fossil fuel use. Do you have anything relevant, or are you just taking potshots?

    You seem to misunderstand also that radiation load for carbon-14 is primarily from inside the body, not from the air. It is internal load, not background. Air has both low density and low relative carbon density. The body has both higher density and higher relative carbon density.

    You are also very very confused about coal use, which has no effect on background radiation except to dilute the carbon-14 component, and nuclear bomb testing, which does have a large effect. Basically, you can’t create nuclear waste with a bulldozer. It just does not work. Fire won’t do it either. You need a nuclear reaction for that.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 2 Oct 2013 @ 6:56 AM

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