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  1. Just wondering, does the relationship between hurricane and cyclone activity and global warming have as good a correlation as between tree rings and instrumented temperature readings? I ask this since the latest study I have read indicates that global warming would actually reduce power of hurricanes and cyclones since there would be less sheer between cold and warm air.

    [Response: Perhaps you are referring to the Vecchi and Soden paper, which we discussed in some detail previously here. It does not however conclude, as you claim, that global warming will reduce the power of hurricanes. It simply argues that impacts of changes in wind shear could at least partially offset increases due to warming sea surface temperatures. -mike]

    Comment by Vernon — 18 Jun 2007 @ 11:59 AM

  2. Speaking of AGW and hurricanes and recent attempts to lenghthen the storm record with proxy data: I don’t see how isotopic studies of the origin of rainfall waters in tree rings or sediment overwash studies can tell us accurately the past frequency or intensity of landfalling hurricanes. For example, we’ve (Texas coast) just received 8″ of rain from a continental low (still parked over central Texas) that is sucking its moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Wouldn’t future isotopic studies of tree rings peg this rain event as originating from a tropical cyclone of some sort? And BTW, it’s the weak tropical storms that dump the most rain around here as they seem to hang around longer (eg. TS Claudette in 1979 – 38″ on Alvin, Texas). Similarly, the largest recent overwash event on upper Texas coast barrier islands resulted from the high tides and very strong winds of TS Frances which landfalled 180 miles to the south. This relatively weak tropical storm (less than hurricane force winds) was stuck in place for a week while a continental high pressure system set up a wicked barometric gradient. The result was sustained 6-8′ storm tides and more sediment overwash across our local barrier island (Galveston) than during most hurricanes. Am I totally out to lunch on this or what? I’d like to see someone dissect and comment on the spate of past hurricane frequency and intensity studies using real storm data. I don’t think the proxy methods will stand up.

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 18 Jun 2007 @ 2:37 PM

  3. On a semi-related note, the new issue of Rolling Stone contains an interesting and detailed account of the White House’s history in positioning itself on Global Warming during the past six years. Much of what is contained has been discussed in bits and pieces elsewhere, but what makes this particular report interesting is that it gathers together all the varying information and players, laying out the story in a compelling timeline.

    Also, Robert Kennedy has a nice piece on what needs to be done to address GW.

    Regards,

    Comment by J.S. McIntyre — 18 Jun 2007 @ 2:45 PM

  4. Mike,

    Thanks for your thoughtful review. It’s an entirely accurate summation of the book and I appreciate the kind words.

    However let me see your quibble and raise you re: the Kossin study. It was indeed a late breaking study in the context of my timing for writing the book. There have since been other “late breaking” studies, such as Vecchi and Soden, which you have helpfully discussed here at Real Climate.

    All these studies taken together show at least two things: 1) there’s a considerable infusion of scientific energy into studying this topic, which is one very positive by-product of the sometimes nasty (but also extremely high profile) debate that followed the publication of the Emanuel and Webster group papers in 2005; 2) many of the precise details of how hurricanes will change in a warmer world (or have changed already) remain contested. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry, or shouldn’t act–but it does mean, as with so many projected climate change impacts, there’s plenty of uncertainty. As I summarize in the book: “global warming, which ought to intensify the average hurricane, could also change the regions of storm formation or the numbers of storms that form in the first place. Despite troubling signs, the evidence simply isn’t in on all of these changes–not yet.”

    In this context, I used Kossin’s study as a peg to discuss just how contested the global hurricane intensity records remain, especially in basins other than the Atlantic. As I put it of Kossin’s work:

    “At least based upon this slicing of the data, then, the hurricane response to global warming globally didn’t look nearly as predictable as anyone had thought. Kossin’s was just one attempt to reanalyze the contested records, but if nothing else it certainly showed they remained contested.”

    So I don’t think I overplayed the results. It’s important to remember that in 2006, both sides in the hurricane-climate argument were awaiting Kossin’s paper and saw it as a first attempt by a neutral arbiter to come in and reanalyze the global hurricane intensity data. From today’s vantage point, by contrast, the Kossin paper (like the Vecchi and Soden paper and much other recent work) helps shift the hurricane-climate detective story to a focus on the Atlantic–which is, I think, a new phase the debate has entered.

    Thanks again,

    Chris

    [Response: Fair enough Chris. Thanks for dropping by w/ the comment. -mike]

    Comment by Chris Mooney — 18 Jun 2007 @ 3:08 PM

  5. Hey Chris,

    I should have dropped you a note – as I had run into something interesting. Turns out that hurricanes apparently act as a heat pump sending water from the tropics poleward, feeding into the process by which we are losing the arctic ice cap. Probably not a big contribution, but it would appear that they have a significant global affect – and feed into some of the positive feedback loops which in turn increase their intensity and duration. From there they will undoubtedly contribute to the warming of the subarctic and thus the release of methane by the permafrost. More feedback.

    In any case, the review has me sold – particularly with the science and the history of the science and of the individuals who helped to shape it. Looking forward to reading your book. It sounds like something really special.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 18 Jun 2007 @ 3:25 PM

  6. Re 5: Timothy, sounds like a great topic for a RealClimate post ;>

    Actually I commented on the latest Nature paper discussing the heat pump idea, by Sriver and Huber, here. Matthew Huber left a comment to my post:
    http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2007/05/introducing_tropical_storm_bar.php

    I also go into more detail on this intriguing notion in the book–so I guess you’ll enjoy that part

    Comment by Chris Mooney — 18 Jun 2007 @ 4:27 PM

  7. Chris Mooney (#6) wrote:

    Re 5: Timothy, sounds like a great topic for a RealClimate post ;>

    Actually I commented on the latest Nature paper discussing the heat pump idea, by Sriver and Huber, here. Matthew Huber left a comment to my post:
    http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2007/05/introducing_tropical_storm_bar.php

    I also go into more detail on this intriguing notion in the book–so I guess you’ll enjoy that part.

    Good grief!

    You do like to stay current. I had worried that it might be too recent a development – I don’t remember when exactly it came out. I guess I “shoulda known betta,” as acquaintance of mine from a few years back probably would have said. I will check out the post. And yes, I am looking forward to the book.

    As for a post at Real Climate, hopefully one of the contributors will take the hint…

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 18 Jun 2007 @ 5:04 PM

  8. “…has lead…” should be “….has led…..”

    [Response: Thanks. Fixed! -mike]

    Comment by Wilf — 18 Jun 2007 @ 5:13 PM

  9. Partisanship by NOAA administrators on the climate change-hurricane debate followed the partisanship by NOAA National Weather Service on climate change-skeptic debate by 12 years which started just after the Gore book on global warming book came out.

    Comment by pat n — 18 Jun 2007 @ 6:19 PM

  10. The hurricane/tropical cyclone is indeed very interesting.

    Tropical cyclones do act as a large mechanism for the transfer of heat, mass and momentum that can significantly impact on weather system thousands of kilometers away

    As an example, here in south eastern Australia, tropical cyclones making landfall 5000km away in the north west of the continent can cause heatwaves and extreme forest fire danger if conditions are correct. TCs are warm cored systems, and can transport large amounts of heat. When a TC makes landfall in North Western Australia, it’s dissipation can cause large amounts of extremely hot air to be brought to the south east of the continent and even as far away as New Zealand.

    Somewhat conversely, TCs can also bring rain to the south east of Australia, which in our current drought parched stage, is welcome and very important for argiculture.

    As far as I know, research into this effect is in its infancy. But if anyone knows of a few good sources of information, I’d love to know.

    Comment by Chris C — 18 Jun 2007 @ 8:11 PM

  11. RE#2, Andrew I’ll second your comment. There is certainly a desire to be able to reconstruct hurricane records using paleoclimate approaches. They are calling this ‘paleotempestology’.

    There was another one in Nature recently, by Nyberg et al, that claims that hurricane frequencies were abnormally low in the 1970s and 1980s relative to the past 270 years. They used sand layers in organic-rich sediment cores as proxies for landfalling hurricanes. However, this is limited to one single area. If many more such studies are carried out across the entire region, you might have a reliable dataset… but it still all seems very premature.

    The isotopic changes in tree rings due to hurricanes seems to be quite a reach, as you note. Paleoclimatologists have really gone for isotopic studies as a means of getting at previously unanswerable questions, but the limits of the methods are still being worked out, and often involve big and untested assumptions.

    At the end of the day, the whole topic is still up in the air. However, all other factors being equal, many studies and observations reveal that hurricanes intensify as they pass over patches of warm water. This has been observed when Atlantic hurricanes intensify as they crossed warm water rings from the Gulf Stream (Effects of a Warm Oceanic Feature on Hurricane Opal, Shay et al 1999 AMS), as well as in the case of Katrina, which intensified rapidly to Cat 5 over an unusually warm Gulf of Mexico.

    The problem then is that in a warming climate, all other factors are not equal, such as wind shear and ocean circulation patterns.

    However, the claims by certain scientists that the extremely active hurricane seasons of 2004/2005 were due to a cyclic phenomenon in the Atlantic ocean known as the ‘Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation’ , in which an accelerating Gulf Stream causes warm water to move northward, were quite astounding and also unsupported.

    Not only that, but these same scientists (Landsea, Grey et al) attacked the 30-yr trend reported by Emanuel using the faulty data argument. At the same time, they used the hurricane dataset to report a correlation with their AMO stretching back to the turn of the century. (They also loudly attacked climate modelers for not reproducing data on ocean cooling (which turned out to be due to some faulty instruments on Argo floats), and then just as loudly promoted results from models that predicted increased wind shear in the Atlantic.)

    The real problem here is that this AMO explanation was picked up and broadcast by the press in a very uncritical manner, usually in these terms: “Surface waters of the Atlantic ocean warm up then cool down in long, subtle cycles. The warm phases dramatically increase the numbers and intensity of hurricanes. The cool phases keep hurricane seasons relatively calm. The ocean entered a warm phase in 1995, and has continued warming ever since.”

    This is just bad science and bad science journalism. In any case, ocean data showed a slight slowing of the poleward water transport, not the increase that the AMO explanation called for. It is interesting to note that the AMO explanation still relied on warmer surface waters as the root cause of hurricane intensification. Clearly, warmer waters can produce more intense hurricanes, especially if the depth profile also shows warming in the subsurface layers.

    NOAA’s website still has Landsea’s commentary on global warming and hurricanes:

    “Because the global earth system is highly complicated, until a relationship between actual storm intensity and tropical climate change is clearly demonstrated, it would be premature to conclude that such a link exists or is significant (from the standpoints of either event or outcome risk) in the context of variability.”

    “Additionally, even if a relationship were to be found between trends in sea surface temperature and various measures of tropical cyclone intensity, this would not necessarily mean that the storms of 2004 or their associated damages could be attributed directly or indirectly to increasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

    That is a rather odd statement. Not neccessarily? What then would constitute a solid link between greenhouse gas emissions, increased ocean temperatures, and more intense hurricanes?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 18 Jun 2007 @ 8:21 PM

  12. Dr Gray’s biggest problem is that he completely rejects AGW, in its place he relies on an ocean temperature cycle which guarranties a period of calm and furious hurricanes, of which we are right into the middle of an active period. Unfortunately this idea fell flat along with his forecasts in 2006. His ideas are local centric, anti-model, which are global centric. On the other hand I like Dr Curries approach, which seem to have picked up a global trend in cyclones, but I wont be surprised if cyclone studies including hurricanes fall into Dr Lindzen’s dolldrums (the only thing he constantly argues correctly is a diminishing equator to Pole temp difference slowing eveything down).

    However enticing an media savy Hurricanes seem to be, them getting a boost from AGW or not is a weak debate. The real story is AGW itself, far less media prone, hard to understand, harder to explain. This is why many contrarians exploit AGW’s so called fuzzy impact on hurricanes, it has become a popular issue, rather than a scientific one. A distraction for sure, the prime issue is how fast AGW is happening? I am far from satisfied with current projections (they are too conservative) simply because they are bent on the long term. But the distant future is a nebulous world, completely debatable forever, fodder for contrarians content in the uncertainty these discussions forment. Exactly like the hurricane debate, made as uncertain as possible. Yet the world is warming, whether or not another Katrina happens this season is not as solid as current well documented warming trends, which continue to defy “natural variabilty” temperature fluctuations. Wouldn’t it be better if we put our efforts on accurate shorter term temperature projections, say what will happen in 6 months no more than a few years from now, check the models and brag about their accuracy or correct their failures, if the models are continuously correct all contrarian arguments die. The last thing voters want to hear is to save the theoritical world 50 years from now, what they want to know is something like: the call for a warm winter was right 3 years running, climate science is right on! Focus like a laser, otherwise risk sinking in the confusion vortex which will keep on turning whether studies say so or not.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 18 Jun 2007 @ 9:11 PM

  13. Re # 2 [ I don't think the proxy methods will stand up.]

    Now why haven’t the climatologists and earth scientists thought of this? Hmmm… maybe they have?

    Storms and their significance in coastal morph-sedimentary dynamics. Marine Geology 21: 1-5 (2004)
    http://wavcis.csi.lsu.edu/pubs/Stone%20et%20al%202004c.pdf?_encoding=UTF8.

    AN INVESTIGATION OF ORGANIC-RICH SEDIMENT IN LAKE SHELBY, ALABAMA,
    FOR MARKERS OF SEVERE STORM IMPACTS
    http://www.geo.ua.edu/asil/LakeShelby_JoeLambert.html (conference presentation; published references at the bottom of the page)

    Assessing the Vulnerability of the Alabama GulfCoast to Intense Hurricane Strikes and Forest Firesin the Light of Long-term Climatic Changes
    http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/Library/nationalassessment/gulfcoast/gulfcoast-chapter13.pdf.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 18 Jun 2007 @ 10:07 PM

  14. RE#12, “Dr Lindzen’s dolldrums: (the only thing he constantly argues correctly is a diminishing equator to Pole temp difference slowing eveything down)”

    Wayne, I think the situation here is far more complicated than this. If you had a bar of metal, and placed one end in a warm pool and the other in a cold pool, it’s true that the rate of heat transfer would slow if you warmed up the cold pool.

    However, this is a hopeless oversimplification of the equator-to-pole heat transfer system. For starters, there is still the seasonality issue – we can expect lightless northern winters to remain quite cold, but spring might start showing up much earlier. There is also the issue of the atmospheric vs. the oceanic routes of poleward heat transfer, as well as the ongoing heat/moisture exchanges between ocean and atmosphere on the way north.

    In other words, Lindzen’s comments are only true for a system dominated by conduction, not for one in which atmospheric convection and ocean currents play such a large role. Scientists are still trying to decide how the poleward heat transport will be affected by global warming – but the rapid changes at the poles seem to involve a lot of heat transport into that region via both the atmosphere and the oceans.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 18 Jun 2007 @ 10:55 PM

  15. Re #14 Oh my….
    “For our part, we have little trouble in accepting that there may well have been an increase in overall atmospheric CO2 by some 25% in the last 100 years (see below), or that this could effectively contribute to the overall anoxia of the planetarian atmosphere.”

    Anoxia means no oxygen. So, what the heck is “anoxia of the planetarian atmosphere”?

    The second author, Alexandra N. Correa has an HBA degree – what is that? (Honors B.A., perhaps?).

    I would love to hear how resident RC AGW skeptics view this document.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 18 Jun 2007 @ 11:03 PM

  16. The authors of ‘Global Warming’: An Official PseudoScience are obviously quite familiar with pseudoscience- check out their Aetherometry website:

    http://www.encyclopedianomadica.org/bin/view/AethMetry/Aetherometry

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 18 Jun 2007 @ 11:07 PM

  17. re: #14 & #15
    got to the Akonos website…
    Oh, no Wilhem Reich’s “orgone” energy is back for another try
    - Free energy!
    - Antigravity
    - Aether motors!

    and what they say about Wikipedia…

    By comparison, none of the silly things debunked in RC are even on the scale…

    Comment by John Mashey — 18 Jun 2007 @ 11:28 PM

  18. Warmer water contributes to hurricanes, well and good, but I never see mentioned what the effects of the different air temperatures and humidity from global warming are expected to have on hurricanes. Are these trivial? If so, why?

    Are the dynamic effects of global warming on hurricanes and other phenomena understood? That is, if the world stabilized at its present temperature I suppose the deep ocean would eventually get warmer, as well as other changes. Are there any general projections of what that would be like?

    Comment by Greg Simpson — 19 Jun 2007 @ 12:10 AM

  19. Re #16, Chuck Booth asks, “The second author, Alexandra N. Correa has an HBA degree – what is that? (Honors B.A., perhaps?).”

    Apparently it is an honours business administration degree. A short bio on Alexandra Correa can be found on the aetherometry.com site:

    Ms. Alexandra N. Correa, psychologist and sociologist (HBA, York University), associate glassblower, painter and graphic artist, was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1952. She is Senior Partner of Akronos Publishing (Vaughan, Canada), and a member of the International Society of the Friends of Aetherometry (ISFA). Alexandra is co-author of 5 books and over 75 publications, and the co-inventor of several alternative energy systems in the areas of electrodynamics, thermodynamics, and massfree energy.

    Aetherometry is a neologism coined by Dr. Paulo Correa and Alexandra Correa to describe their alternative open system, which addresses many scientific fields ( such as physics, chemistry, biophysics) and many controversial fields (such as orgonomy, Kirlian photography, aether theories, alternative theory of De Broglie’s matter waves, Le Sage-type theory of gravity and the aetherometric cancer project). [http://peswiki.com/index.php/Powerpedia:Aetherometry]

    I don’t think they are mainstream climatoligists…

    Comment by Jim Eaton — 19 Jun 2007 @ 1:43 AM

  20. This is off-topic, but I cant find any other way to ask a question here, so here goes. My question is whether there is any experimental proof that raising CO2 concentration results in warming in a controled labratory setting? I am talking about hard-core science in a peer reviewed journal. I would imagine that it has been done but I dont know the reference off-hand as I am outside my field. Thanks.

    Comment by Watiz Nanda — 19 Jun 2007 @ 6:41 AM

  21. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has recently been added lots of new products to their website. This page gives you access to an amazing array of maps and other data presentations, including a huge amount of historical data … http://www.bom.gov.au/watl

    Maps of tropical cyclone storm tracks since 1906 for the Southern Hemisphere are available here, which is access via the ‘climate data online’ lank at the top-right of that first link.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 19 Jun 2007 @ 7:00 AM

  22. [[ My question is whether there is any experimental proof that raising CO2 concentration results in warming in a controled labratory setting? I am talking about hard-core science in a peer reviewed journal. I would imagine that it has been done but I dont know the reference off-hand as I am outside my field. Thanks. ]]

    Yes, quite a bit of it. Here’s the first one, just to get you started:

    Tyndall, John (1861). “On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours…” Philosophical Magazine ser. 4, 22: 169-94, 273-85.

    You can also google “HITRAN.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Jun 2007 @ 7:12 AM

  23. It would be good to reopen the hurricane climate change discussion. There can easily be cherry picking of feedbacks from the positive ones discussed above, to negative ones such as concentrated convection causing subsidence causing upper troposphere drying. Some discussion of that is here: http://www.lavoisier.com.au/papers/articles/hurricanes1.pdf and models show the same result: e.g. 3088067 http://www.ccsm.ucar.edu/publications/PhD%20and%20Masters%20Theses.htm

    I would like to see as comprehensive a discussion of negative and positive feedbacks as possible.

    Comment by Eric (skeptic) — 19 Jun 2007 @ 7:18 AM

  24. Just an aside from a non-scientist. My recently deceased father-in-law, Katsuyuki “Vic” Ooyama (scroll down to page 5 for a short bio), was a meteorological scientist and developer of numerical computer models (some versions of which are still being used today) regarding the formation, development and tracking of hurricanes. He who worked at the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA/AOML in Miami before his retirement. He was known for his “disagreements” with Professor Gray regarding the efficacy of computer models in the field of atmospheric science in general, and hurricane development, in particular. He once told me that Professor Gray was a very intelligent man blinded by his own inability to see the world outside the narrow focus of his own obsessions. I think what he meant to say was that Gray was a stubborn old curmudgeon with an ego the size of Mt. Everest, but he was far too polite to put it that bluntly.

    Comment by Steven Searls — 19 Jun 2007 @ 8:02 AM

  25. Re #13 Thanks for the links. Note that in the Thesis link the discussion switches from past storm frequency to hurricane frequency as if all storms were hurricanes. In the few presentations I’ve sat through on storm history reconstruction (I’m an ecologist so I’m coming at this tangentially), I’ve noted this more than once. The speaker conflates storms with hurricanes or they take a relationship built on data from the SE Atlantic coast and at some point in their discussion they seamlessly apply their results to the Gulf coast. Most of the audience knows what is going on and the presentor may roll off a caveat beforehand, but such subtle twists may well be lost on the academic news release editor and the journalist who reports on the latest research. I need to understand AGW and its potential effects on the coastal environment. I depend on RealClimate’s objectivity in all of this. I’ve become dismissive of anyone I catch going beyond their data. My wife knows almost nothing about how a car works, but she knows when a salesman is pumping her full of ….. wrong information.

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 19 Jun 2007 @ 10:46 AM

  26. Ike, No question about hurricane intensity, warmer sst’s will make them stronger. But what happens when the very cause for Hadley cells, when long distance temperature differences become weaker? That is a larger question amongst others. It takes high zenith sun heat to trigger the hurricane season, but it takes also other ingredients such as a wave (a zone of pressure difference), that again is caused by temperature differences. Katrina is a good example:

    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003200/a003222/katrina_sst_640x480.mpg

    If you look at the larger circulation, Katrina being at center, there seems to be a Clockwise mega circulation, a healthy flow of air reminiscent of a heat engine, knock that off and Katrina becomes a severe thunderstorm around Cuba. Perhaps you made a point, the hurricane season may shift towards winter and spring as global warming continues.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 19 Jun 2007 @ 11:38 AM

  27. I wonder if its possible to have it so that when the troll comments get removed, the numbering of all the comments don’t all shuffle up one. With the tendency of people in these threads to reply to comment numbers it rapidly becomes difficult to follow as more and more comments get removed.

    Comment by stuart — 19 Jun 2007 @ 12:23 PM

  28. Today the MetOffice released a forecast for the 2007 Atlantic season: 10 named storms between July and November (70% chance for 7-13 storms), somewhat below the mean over the years 1990-2005.
    Although their 2006 forecast wasn’t made public, they seem to did a better forecast than Gray/Klotzbach.

    See: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/tropicalcyclone/northatlantic.html.

    Comment by Henk Lankamp — 19 Jun 2007 @ 1:29 PM

  29. [[ There can easily be cherry picking of feedbacks from the positive ones discussed above, to negative ones such as concentrated convection causing subsidence causing upper troposphere drying.]]

    There’s not much water vapor in the upper troposphere to begin with. The e-folding scale height for water vapor is about 2 kilometers and the tropopause averages about 11.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 19 Jun 2007 @ 2:30 PM

  30. But the water vapor in the upper (and middle) toposphere is important due to the unsaturated water vapor spectrum at those altitudes. The feedback from that water vapor is important whether you believe Lindzen or Held and Soden (http://www.gfdl.gov/reference/bibliography/2000/annrev00.pdf)

    Comment by Eric (skeptic) — 19 Jun 2007 @ 6:23 PM

  31. re14 Ike Solem> …the rapid changes at the poles seem to involve a lot of heat transport into that region via both the atmosphere and the oceans.

    What evidence do you have for that? I thought polar heating was caused by GHG and albedo effects, not increased heat transport.

    Comment by Steve Reynolds — 19 Jun 2007 @ 10:01 PM

  32. Steve Reynolds (#31) wrote:

    re14 Ike Solem> …the rapid changes at the poles seem to involve a lot of heat transport into that region via both the atmosphere and the oceans.

    What evidence do you have for that? I thought polar heating was caused by GHG and albedo effects, not increased heat transport.

    I hadn’t heard about the heat transport via the atmosphere, but it didn’t surprise me – that is what the jet streams are all about – a wind caused by an atmospheric temperature differential, given a little bit of a spin. Without the difference in temperature, there will be no stream, therefore it stands to reason that if you increase the temperature of the hot part, you will increase the flow to the cold.

    However, with respect to the ocean, there has been increased thermal flux which we have been picking up. Some increased flows we actually weren’t expecting. More recently hurricanes have been implicated as heat pumps responsible for up to 15% of poleward oceanic heat transport.

    With respect to the latter, there was a recent article in Nature, “Observational evidence for an ocean heat pump induced by tropical cyclones” by Ryan Sriver and Matthew Huber.

    More than half of the following post by Chris Mooney dealt with this:

    Introducing Tropical Storm Barbara; New Research on Hurricane-Climate Feedbacks
    http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2007/05/introducing_tropical_storm_bar.php

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 20 Jun 2007 @ 12:52 AM

  33. been lurking a while here, first post.
    I’ve had a number of requests from friends/collegues for some “popular” reading on climate change where the underlying science is good, but something a bit lighter than TAR Summary for policymakers. How about some recomendations for other books in addition to Chris Mooneys.

    [Response: We've discussed various pop sci. books previously here and here. There might be something on our 'Start here' page (linked above) as well. - gavin]

    Comment by Rees — 20 Jun 2007 @ 5:54 AM

  34. Re 28: Fascinating. The UK Met Office forecast uses a very different methodology than Gray, based upon climate models rather than a statistical technique. It’s my recollection as well that the dynamical seasonal forecast wasn’t made public last year. This time around, by contrast, we’re going to be able to watch in real time to see who was right–the statistical forecasters predicting an active year, or the dynamical forecasters predicting a less active one. More here
    http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2007/06/atlantic_seasonal_hurricane_fo.php

    Comment by Chris Mooney — 20 Jun 2007 @ 6:55 AM

  35. Sriver and Huber have an article in Nature (May 31) on the role of tropical cyclones on heat transport across the thermocline in the subtropics. It’s a neat feedback to think about and it might assist modelers in making more accurate GCM’s for a greenhouse world.

    http://www.underwatertimes.com/news.php?article_id=57310298146

    Comment by asdf — 20 Jun 2007 @ 7:33 AM

  36. Got to remind myself to read first and then comment. Maybe someone will find the link useful though.

    Comment by asdf — 20 Jun 2007 @ 7:42 AM

  37. I wonder how much certainty there is that global warming is NOT causing increased intensity (perhaps also frequency) of storms.

    We live in a globally warmed & warming world. To me the burden of proof should be on the skeptics to prove at, say, .05 that GW is NOT causing increased storms. Otherwise, I think we (the laypersons, if not the scientists), can simply assume GW IS causing increased storms, and get on with mitigating GW with all that more urgency.

    And even if they can prove at .05 that GW is NOT causing increased storms, we would still have to mitigate with all urgency, since it is causing a lot of other problems. Anyone up to proving that warming does not (eventually) melt ice?

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 20 Jun 2007 @ 8:29 AM

  38. It is refreshing to read this kind of discussion on RC.

    My own plethora of Global Warming posts and questions are somehow vindicated by Chris Mooney’s comments to this blog (#4):

    > as with so many projected climate change impacts,
    > there’s plenty of uncertainty. As I summarize in the book:
    > “global warming, which ought to intensify the average
    > hurricane, could also change the regions of storm formation
    > or the numbers of storms that form in the first place. Despite
    > troubling signs, the evidence simply isn’t in on all of these
    > changes–not yet.”

    The evidence is not in on all of the expected changes. Not yet.

    Perhaps we could all agree that, climate-wise, at least about hurricanes there is no evidence (yet) for global warming?

    [Response: Chris's statement is accurate, but you misrepresent it. He certainly does not state or imply that "there is no evidence yet" for an impact of global warming on Hurricane behavior. He is simply pointing out that there are many open scientific questions regarding the details of those impacts. -mike]

    Comment by Maurizio Morabito — 20 Jun 2007 @ 10:05 AM

  39. Q. Is it the differences in temperature or the absolute temperature that encourages hurricane formation?

    Comment by Kroganchor — 20 Jun 2007 @ 1:08 PM

  40. Is it the difference in temperature between the ocean surface and the atmosphere, or the absolute temperature of the ocean surface that encourages hurricane formation?

    Comment by Kroganchor — 20 Jun 2007 @ 1:12 PM

  41. Re: 38

    I’ll leave to Chris Mooney to say if I have misrepresented his words.

    Let me restate his point: there is no evidence yet of an impact of global warming on the intensity of the average hurricane, on the regions where the tropical storms form and on the number of tropical storms.

    A question for Mike then: if the above is true, _what_ evidence is there of an impact of global warming on _any_ characteristic of tropical storms/hurricanes?

    In other words, if we can’t tell (yet) about intensity, region of formation and number of storms, what can we tell about global warming and hurricanes?

    [Response: We've posted this one to make a point, but further nonsense of this sort will be screened out. Why don't you read what we've written on this topic before and educate yourself a bit before making plainly incorrect claims. Start w/ our posts under the Hurricanes category. Chris Mooney doesn't even remotely conclude what you've said above. If we're fortunate, he might even stop by and comment himself on this. -mike]

    Comment by Maurizio Morabito — 20 Jun 2007 @ 3:05 PM

  42. For example, we’ve (Texas coast) just received 8″ of rain from a continental low (still parked over central Texas) that is sucking its moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Wouldn’t future isotopic studies of tree rings peg this rain event as originating from a tropical cyclone of some sort?

    No. Compared to rainfall from ordinary thunderstorms (even those originating in the tropics) tropical cyclone rainfall has an unusually low proportion of oxygen-18. I do not know why TC rainfall has this odd property, but paleoclimatologists are quite sure it is detectable in stalagmites , tree rings, and coral. Note both linked studies were done in areas (the Yucatan, and Georgia) that normally receive plenty of rainfall from long-lived thunderstorms, sometimes severe, and often with some amount of tropical moisture. But TC events nonetheless leave a clear oxygen-18 event, because ordinary thunderstorms, even if long-lived or severe, do not produce low oxygen-18 rainfall. I suspect detection of TC events by oxygen-18 ratios is complicated by the fact that oxygen-18 ratios are also affected by summer to winter precipitation ratios, although the very different timescales make it possible to disentangle such issues. Further complicating the use of these proxies is the fact that the deviation in oxygen-18 ratios is affected by the amount of TC rainfall, the distance from the center of the cyclone at which the rain was produced, and the intensity of the cyclone – so I doubt these proxies alone will enable disentangling intensity and rainfall, tnough a large number of samples over an area could reveal information about the track and extent of the TC event. It’s also doubtful that these methods could disentangle multiple severe TC events in the same year and in the same region – but a multiple severe TC events in the same region are quite rare in the Atlantic. (Thus, after 4 hurricanes struck Florida in 4 months in 2004, hurricane scientists calculated that sort of event occurred about once in 400 years, on average. Even during the blow-out-the-walls record breaking season of 2005, Florida received 3 hurricane landfalls – still impressive, but much more common than 4.)

    Comment by llewelly — 20 Jun 2007 @ 4:32 PM

  43. More questions regarding “Paleotempestology”. My oceanography book mentions that the cold-watered depths of the Gulf of Mexico don’t mix well with the Atlantic due to subsurface ridges and that these cold waters owe their origin to ice sheet meltwater poured out by the Mississippi. At some point, with the end of periodic ice ages that AGW promises us, won’t this reservoir of left-over Pleistocene refrigeration become depleted and wouldn’t that greatly exacerbate future sea surface temperature increases and storm behavior?

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 20 Jun 2007 @ 4:39 PM

  44. Re 41: Okay, I’ll oblige: Yes, you misrepresented my words.

    There is certainly evidence of global warming’s impact on the intensity of the average hurricane. However, it is evidence that some contest based upon questions about the quality of the data. It would be fair to say there is no “consensus” about the evidence, but not at all fair to say there is no evidence period. An important distinction.

    Second, I make the point that theoretical considerations–modeling and hurricane maximum potential intensity theory–lead to an expectation that the average hurricane *will* intensify even if it has not already. You seem to be ignoring this.

    Storm regions of formation and numbers are murkier issues. Was the appearance of 2004′s Cyclone Catarina in the South Atlantic an anomaly representative of a truly changing planet, or the kind of event that we would see to have recurred in the past if we had better records? Nobody really knows for sure.

    As for storm number changes: There’s an argument going on right now between scientists over whether the Atlantic is seeing a growing number of total storms because of global warming. Meanwhile, modeling results in this area don’t lead to definitive conclusions; as the recent WMO statement puts it, “Although recent climate model simulations project a decrease or no change in global tropical cyclone numbers in a warmer climate there is low confidence in this projection. In addition, it is unknown how tropical cyclone tracks or areas of impact will change in the future.”

    The WMO statement is available at

    http://www.gfdl.gov/~tk/glob_warm_hurr.html

    The statement also says that “If the projected rise in sea level due to global warming occurs, then the vulnerability to tropical cyclone storm surge flooding would increase.”

    All in all: The science isn’t settled on this subject (what else is new), but that hardly means that what we know isn’t grounds for being concerned.

    Comment by Chris Mooney — 20 Jun 2007 @ 6:53 PM

  45. Hurricane climate linkages are especially important for those of us who live along the east coast ( as well as the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. I live in lower Manhattan where topographic maps that I’ve seen, show indundation from storm surge of a direct hit of hurricanes labeled with an intensity of category 1 or 2. Anything close to the 5 that hit New Orleans would cause enormous damage and loss of life.
    From what I’ve read and heard, rare events,such as prolonged heat waves, very strong storms, and floods of record, will become less rare in a warming Earth.
    Of course, if something unlikely like possible slippage happened to the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets, we’d be lucky to see the ground floors of our buildings at low tide.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 20 Jun 2007 @ 7:08 PM

  46. Found an interesting paper looking at a mechanism for the delta in Oxygen-18 for hurricanes. The authors speculate that the main reason hurricanes show this delta is that more of the precipitation is coming from high altitude (depleted in O-18 based on gravitational potential) and in the form of large drops that do not have time to equilibrate wrt O-18 in lower regions of the cloud as they fall. Don’t know how well accepted this mechanism is, but it looked interesting:
    http://www.atmos.berkeley.edu/~jelee/paper/jelee_amount_hp_submitted.pdf

    Comment by ray ladbury — 20 Jun 2007 @ 8:48 PM

  47. re 37 (Lynn): [the burden of proof should be on the skeptics to prove at, say, .05 that GW is NOT causing increased storms. Otherwise, I think we (the laypersons, if not the scientists), can simply assume GW IS causing increased storms, and get on with mitigating GW with all that more urgency.]

    So we have to prove the negative which permits you to get about your business of changing everything unencumbered and without even getting your hands dirty. I assume you at least will provide a Scout’s Honor [;-}

    Comment by Rod B. — 20 Jun 2007 @ 8:51 PM

  48. Global warming and fire-storms:

    In recent years Australia have been hit by increasingly intense, extensive and devastating fires. In some cases these have developed into fire storms. Now Dr Graham Mills, a researcher at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has found evidence that such fire storms are – at least some of the time – associated with atmospheric conditions that cause extremely dry air to rapidly descend from very high altitudes onto the storm front. See here. I wonder what effect global warming will have on the incidence and intensity of such events?

    On another storm topic, it has just been announced that Australia’s tropic Northern Territory is undergoing its coldest July on record. But this is in a period that the Bureau has predicted is likely, based on statistical analysis of historical data and current sea surface conditions, to be warmer than the historical average (see here. The situation is somehow related to the weather system that has delivered a bout of three enormous storms that have hammered Sydney and much of the east coast over the last couple of weeks – see here, here, and here. Interesting.

    Comment by Craig Allen — 20 Jun 2007 @ 9:40 PM

  49. Re: 44

    Thanks to Chris Mooney for responding. Apparently I have read too much in the phrase “the evidence simply ISN’T IN on all of these changes–not yet” (my emphasis).

    [edited]

    For what is worth, let me state that I am not “ignoring” expectations and concerns. I am simply concentrating on the “evidence” bit.

    For example I agree that more instances like 2004′s Catarina would be strong evidence of change.

    ===========

    All in all the science of hurricanes does appear to be much more fun and interesting than the average climate change issue, as there is a debate, a “fight” between different hypothesis, predictions compared to near-future observations, and all that does not always get pre-eminence in the exchanges about models.

    Comment by Maurizio Morabito — 21 Jun 2007 @ 4:53 AM

  50. Re #48, as I went on to say in #37, “And even if they can prove at .05 that GW is NOT causing increased storms, we would still have to mitigate with all urgency, since it is causing a lot of other problems.”

    For instance, there are still other problem GW is causing, such as glacier melt (which even the dalits and possible huge starvation issues for India, China, and many other places dependent on the glacial cycle for irrigation and drinking water. Even dalits (untouchables) in India are aware of this (bec their press is far superior to Western press), and blame us rich countries.

    So I really see this debate about GW and bigger storms as sort of academic….the way anthropologists might get all heated up arguing whether it’s Homo sapiens neandertalensis or Homo neandertalensis — even getting into a caveman type fight over it, but completely under the layperson’s radar.

    Whether or not GW causes nastier storms may be important for considering GW adaptation policy (and I think the insurance agencies are already making changes based on their idea that GW WILL be causing greater storms, even if the public or the government is not), but it shouldn’t change mitigation policy one iota. We still have to mitigate due to the other reasons.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 21 Jun 2007 @ 6:52 AM

  51. RE #47, and “more of the precipitation [for hurricanes] is coming from high altitude…”

    I’m wondering if the hailstorm we experienced during Hurricane Emily in Brownville, TX, in 2005 may have been caused by precip coming from higher altitudes. The weatherman & someone here on RC said that that hail was most unusual during hurricanes.

    Is the precip maybe coming from even higher & colder altitudes, or is the cold belt in the sky sinking down a bit — maybe bec the GHG belt is not allowing as much heat to escape up higher? Or is that just too high?

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 21 Jun 2007 @ 7:05 AM

  52. Lynn (51), put that way I must admit it has logic.

    Comment by Rod B — 21 Jun 2007 @ 10:45 AM

  53. This year’s season is off to an interesting start. On the one hand, in the Pacific, conditions are ENSO neutral bordering on La Nina. However, a slight complication is that we appear to be either at the start of or on the cusp of a negative PDO.

    Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, the classic El Nino type of config continues – the jet stream is going straight across from just off the SE coast of the US toward Iberia and the UK. No wavyness there. Also, Sahara and Sahel dust have all but shut down the Cape Verde segment of the storm factory.

    The UK Met forecast appears to be well put.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 21 Jun 2007 @ 10:51 AM

  54. Lynn #51 – you mention the importance of the glacial melt cycle to irrigation and drinking water supplies. I’ve always been a bit confused on this issue. In a receding glacier, the melt water is volume is larger than the annual snow fall. This is obviously not a sustainable situation as the glacier will ultimately disappear. If global warming were to stop and the glacier stabilizes, would not the annual runoff from the glacier decrease? It seems the issue should be how much snowfall is there and when does it melt, rather than the condition of the glacier.

    Regarding your comment on the insurance industry already making changes to account for the increased frequency of hurricanes, is it possible the hurricane worries could justify rate increases?

    Comment by B Buckner — 21 Jun 2007 @ 12:29 PM

  55. re 55:

    Regarding your comment on the insurance industry already making changes to account for the increased frequency of hurricanes, is it possible the hurricane worries could justify rate increases?

    Of course. The market understands the changes that are going on. Even the Wall Street Journal gets it right on the news pages.

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 21 Jun 2007 @ 1:49 PM

  56. I’ve thought for quite some time (since reading the first IPCC report in ’92) that climate change might be more about increasingly violent and extreme weather than anything else. I appeal to nonlinear dynamics (“chaos theory”) for support; as a general rule, increasing the value of a control parameter in a nonlinear system causes the system to pass through various dynamical regimes (phase changes). For the global climate, I can imagine some regimes are characterized by more violent or more extreme weather over short time scales.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 21 Jun 2007 @ 1:53 PM

  57. the correct link to the WSJ story on hurricane insurance on the east coast is: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118118169877827318.html

    Comment by Tim McDermott — 21 Jun 2007 @ 2:39 PM

  58. Re 55 melting glaciers

    A Sacred River Endangered by Global Warming
    Glacial Source of Ganges Is Receding

    By Emily Wax
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Sunday, June 17, 2007; Page A14

    …But recent reports by scientists say the Ganges is under even greater threat from global warming. According to a U.N. climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that are the sources of the Ganges could disappear by 2030 as temperatures rise…

    The shrinking glaciers also threaten Asia’s supply of fresh water. The World Wildlife Fund in March listed the Ganges among the world’s 10 most endangered rivers. In India, the river provides more than 500 million people with water for drinking and farming.

    The immediate effect of glacier recession is a short-lived surplus of water. But eventually the supply runs out, and experts predict that the Ganges eventually will become a seasonal river, largely dependent on monsoon rains….

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/16/AR2007061600461.html

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 21 Jun 2007 @ 2:44 PM

  59. Re #55: [If global warming were to stop and the glacier stabilizes, would not the annual runoff from the glacier decrease? It seems the issue should be how much snowfall is there and when does it melt, rather than the condition of the glacier.]

    That’s essentially true, but what alpine glaciers do is to smooth out the melting. If you get X amount of snowfall, then without a glacier most of it melts in spring, by late summer there’s little runoff, so you’re set up for spring floods/fall droughts. With a glacier the melting is slowed, giving less of the runoff in spring, more in the fall. You get the same total of water over a year, but a different distribution.

    Comment by James — 21 Jun 2007 @ 3:58 PM

  60. In comment 44, Chris Mooney brings out the point that,based on theoretical considerations, the “average hurricane ‘will’ intensify even if it has not already”. If memory serves, when the mean or average goes up in a statistical distribution curve, the extremes become more likely. What initially was,say, two standard deviations away on the original curve, is now higher on the curve, and closer to the mean. This appears to be ipso facto corroboration that more extreme events will have a higher probability of occurence, or a shorter recurrence interval.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 21 Jun 2007 @ 8:51 PM

  61. James (#60) wrote in part:

    … what alpine glaciers do is to smooth out the melting. If you get X amount of snowfall, then without a glacier most of it melts in spring, by late summer there’s little runoff, so you’re set up for spring floods/fall droughts. With a glacier the melting is slowed, giving less of the runoff in spring, more in the fall. You get the same total of water over a year, but a different distribution.

    This is probably what is most significant effect, but there are a few other changes which I would like to mention. For example, when a glacier scatters sunlight back into space before it has a chance to be absorbed and converted into thermal radiation, the glacier reduces the global temperature to a small extent, but locally its effects are much more significant. In the absence of such scattering, the temperature in the region will be considerably higher, resulting in greater evaporation, both where ice has been replaced by darker soil and further “downstream.”

    Additionally, with the glaciers gone, there will be a different distribution of warm and cold air masses, changes in the patterns of wind and precipitation. Carrying this a little further, higher rates of evaporation are likely to result in precipitation occuring closer to where the evaporation took place in both time and space. To an increasing extent this will be where the vast majority of evaporation is currently taking place: over the oceans. Over land, rainfall will tend to become more infrequent in many places, and when it does occur, it will more likely be the result of violent storms, appearing as flash floods.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 21 Jun 2007 @ 11:35 PM

  62. Lawrence, That depends on how storm intensity is distributed, which is ultimately driven by the energetics of storm activity. It may also be that the median intensity would not change appreciably, but that the high-end tail of the distribution would get a lot thicker. This could happen even if the windshear effect impedes TC formation.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 22 Jun 2007 @ 6:19 AM

  63. Who is Timothy Chase? Since he seems to be familiar with the posters of the blog entries, I assumed that he was one of them, but it appears he’s just a regular poster. What is his credentials?

    Comment by Carl — 22 Jun 2007 @ 2:41 PM

  64. Ray is right on the mark in post 62. Figure 6.6part (a),on page 129, a distribution graph using a normal distribution from “Global Warming The Complete Briefing” 3rd Edition by John Houghton shows just what Ray says should happen. Unfortunately I’m unable to transfer the scanned graph on this posting board. The text transfers but not the curves.

    More
    record hot weather
    Cold
    Average
    Increase in mean
    Figure 6.6 Schematic diagrams showing the effects on extreme temperatures when (a) the mean increases leading to more record hot weather, (b) the variance increases and (c) when both the mean and the variance increase, leading to much more record hot weather.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 22 Jun 2007 @ 5:15 PM

  65. Carl, Timothy Chase’s credentials are an insatiable curiosity, unflappable good will, and an eagerness to go and find things out when the rest of us don’t know. Beyond that I do not care what his credentials may be.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 22 Jun 2007 @ 5:34 PM

  66. #53 Its no longuer closer to the border of an El-Nina year I think. I enjoyed watching the daily progressions of sst’s around the Galapagos Islands lately being warmish. Its been a roller coaster ride, teetering one way or another once in a while. I guess you may call it unstable neutral conditions.

    Comment by Wayne Davidson — 22 Jun 2007 @ 5:47 PM

  67. Carl (#63) wrote:

    Who is Timothy Chase? Since he seems to be familiar with the posters of the blog entries, I assumed that he was one of them, but it appears he’s just a regular poster. What is his credentials?

    Sorry – I honestly don’t mean to mislead anyone, but sometimes people get the wrong impression.

    I don’t have any background in this stuff. Back in high school I managed to teach myself some calculus, stepped through the derivation of the Schwartzchild solution and taught myself some fairly basic Quantum Mechanics. I learned enough of the latter that I realized for example that in the probability density formalism, it could be viewed as a logic in which truth values were no longer true or false, 1 or 0, but complex numbers, individual elements in the probability density array were statements, and operators such as the position or momentum operator were logical transformations taking you from one set of statements and their truth values to another set of statements and their truth values. But all of that physics is pretty rusty by now.

    I went into the navy, then I got a BA in philosophy, focusing on epistemology and the philosophy of science, then did the Great Books program at St. John’s where a large part of their method involves the use of discussion or “dialogue” as a process through which the insights of the participants can build upon one another. That is probably a fair part of what Ray calls my “good will,” at least in terms of my style. At the same time, I think I am still probably a little tougher than I should be on those who don’t quite yet realize that we are really on the same side.

    I like being able to pick things up and I get obsessed with various subjects. But in the final analysis, I am not really anyone special. However, I do believe that one should act as one would have others act.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 22 Jun 2007 @ 10:27 PM

  68. #65 Dr Ladbury
    Well you should be careful about somone you don’t know dominating this forum so much. Everything he says is not true:
    (#61 under “Cockburn’s form”)
    “New approaches to solar power – perhaps photovoltaics which achieve the 95% efficiency of plants …”

    Plants have 7% total efficiency if you assume that absorption of chlorophyll is 100% between 400-700. Sugar cane is said to be more efficient (total efficiency about 8%), probably because the main product (sugar) is cheaper to produce than more complex chemical compounds. The quantum efficiency (the rate at which one photon produces a free electron) of plants is close to 100%, but similar efficiency is not impossible to achieve in silicon.

    Plants have other problems, chlorophyll absorbs blue light and red light, but not green (hence the color of plants), the energy of each electron is not maximized (this is why multiple junction solar cells are more efficient than single junction cells), and of course that the trapped energy is used in inefficient chemical processes.

    Don’t get me wrong, I find most of Tim’s commentary enlightening, it’s just that it’s also very authoritative for an anonymous layman (googling Timothy Chase gives nothing).

    sources
    http://www.upei.ca/~physics/p261/Content/Sources_Conversion/Photo-_synthesis/photo-_synthesis.htm
    http://www.life.uiuc.edu/govindjee/whatisit.htm
    talk by someone (sorry can’t find his name) from Fraunhofer institue in Freiburg, Germany on multiple-junction solar cells

    Comment by Carl — 23 Jun 2007 @ 3:34 AM

  69. Congrats to Chris on excellent work. I bought a copy at Kramerbooks in DC on Wednesday night and read most of it on the flight back to Oregon yesterday. More on the content later, but I think it will be in many bookstores shortly.

    Comment by Fred Heutte — 23 Jun 2007 @ 5:21 AM

  70. [[Ray is right on the mark in post 62. Figure 6.6part (a),on page 129, a distribution graph using a normal distribution from "Global Warming The Complete Briefing" 3rd Edition by John Houghton shows just what Ray says should happen. Unfortunately I'm unable to transfer the scanned graph on this posting board. The text transfers but not the curves. ]]

    If you can see the scanned file properly on your monitor, then get ahold of a nice freeware screen-capture program like MWsnap, choose the select-any-rectangle feature and save it as a bitmap file. I don’t think you can show pictures in this blog, but you can include a link to them, assuming you have a web site somewhere.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Jun 2007 @ 6:16 AM

  71. Carl, one of the nice things about this website is that most of the regulars have at least learned that you never rely on a single source for your information (unlike many in the denialist, but then, bless their hearts, there are very few sources of good quality disinformation to choose from). I have great respect for autodidacts, Tim included, particularly when the continue to try to learn. I myself, despite having a PhD in physics, am an autodidact–wrt climate, but also gemology and minerology, history and economics (I’ve been referred to in the past as a veritable landfill of information).
    One other thing about Tim, he accepts correction gratefully, as he realizes such correction bestows the gift of learning. Do not hesitate to correct Tim, me or anyone else if we have our facts wrong.

    Comment by ray ladbury — 23 Jun 2007 @ 7:38 AM

  72. This is the graph that #64 is referring to, it’s from TAR

    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/images/fig2-32s.gif

    Comment by Hugh — 23 Jun 2007 @ 7:38 AM

  73. Got another abrupt wake up call which made my heart skip a beat a few days ago on the news. A leading scientist/spokeman at the Australian CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Australia’s main think-tank on all things envirnonmental etc said quite emphatically that the antartic and artic melts will be total and that the climatic process is now irreversible and it’s a “done deal”. That means that in our young kids lifetime they will be witness to the disintegration of all of the world’s ice shelfs and the corresponding rise in sea level that will bring about. He says the rate of melting is much grater than anyone previously realised. He mentioned the mid century as the time where things will get really scary. Even he said if the world’s industrial CO2 was stopped tomorrow all ice flows/glaciers/ice shelves will melt completely. So looks like the only alternative is to begin to relocate most of the world’s cities pretty quickly. I imagine the sea level rise will be in excess of 10M since Greenland alone will account for a 7M rise.
    I’m not a Christian, actually a buddhist..but I recall in revelation something about satan coming like a thief in the night..to me the extent of climate change has caught everyone by surprise and more than qualifies the analogy ‘thief in the night’.

    [Response: Frankly, I can't believe that anyone from CSIRO would have said that. There is a great deal of uncertainty (and concern) in the rate of change of ice sheet mass, but claims that total disintegration will occur in the next few decades are absurd. I hope that you merely misheard him. - gavin]

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Jun 2007 @ 8:03 AM

  74. #70 Timothy: That’s great, Tim. Personally, I have great interest in these issues, and I found this blog after discussing these issues with skeptics at another forum. I’m also a layman in this field, my specialization is semiconductor optics (I study quantum dots) and I’m pursuing a PhD in Physics. That’s why I felt I had to give you an update on the yield of photosynthesis compared to what semiconductor solar cells can do ;)

    #71 Ray: No problem! I’m looking forward to increasing my knowledge of this field greatly, while being careful not to get overly confident. I’m basically here to arm myself against the denialists and the extreme alarmists, to better inform the people I discuss this issue with in other forums, be it online or offline.

    Comment by Carl — 23 Jun 2007 @ 8:45 AM

  75. Carl – I’m enjoying the education on solar cells. People tend to have unreasonable expectations of emerging solutions. Replacing fossil fuels is going to be a hard slog.

    Comment by J.C.H — 23 Jun 2007 @ 9:13 AM

  76. Gavin, nope! that why I took notice..I was waiting for that current affairs segment due to my interest in the issue and I clearly saw and heard him say that. Mind you I was waiting for a researcher to tell it as it is..and he did! The statement ‘irreversable and ‘done deal’ was to me the most chilling. Lets all hope the CSIRO is wrong.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 23 Jun 2007 @ 10:01 AM

  77. #75 J.C.H
    One of the major problems with straight single junction silicon solar cells (Si SC) is that they’re too expensive for their efficiency. Also, in larger applications the low-voltage/high-current properties of Si SC becomes a problem due to ohmic losses.

    So, one approach is to build more efficient and more complex multi-junction solution and focus light onto them. This is the idea behind the concetrators – if you focus the sunlight to an array of small dots on a surface, you need less of the expensive solar cells per surface area and watt generated. The problem you add is that you have to adjust the lenses as the sun moves (this is referred to as ‘tracking’). But then again, that makes it more efficent in collecting light per unit area than a passice Si SC.

    Still, the Si SC have the big silicon industry and it’s vast resources and know-how behind it, so it’s still the cheapest solution.

    A multi-junction SC has layers of different band-gap semiconductors, it’s fundamentally the same idea as a color CCD. First detect blue, then green, then red, and then infrared. The high-bandgap material is transparent to the longer wavelengths, letting them through. This way you not only can absorbe light over an extended spectrum, but you also generate electrons with a higher potential for the shorter wavelengths that have higher photon energies. Recent multiple-junction concentrator SC can have a total efficiency of up 30% to the grid. Unfortunately, they are still prototypes, and so very expensive.

    Comment by Carl — 23 Jun 2007 @ 10:22 AM

  78. Re #73 Gavin,

    The CSIRO spokesman did not say there would be a total disintegration in the next few decades. “He mentioned the mid century as the time where things will get really scary.” Both Greenland and the West Antarctica ice sheets have started melting and unless we reduce the CO2 concentration then this melting will only accelerate and lead to their total disintegration. Stabilisation of CO2 will not be enough because there are the two positive feedbacks of ice – albedo and surface height – lapse rate, which ensures that the melting accelerates.

    Can you see any prospect of CO2 levels stabilising? Do you really believe that with higher levels of CO2, and no Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets that the East Antarctic ice sheet would survive?

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 23 Jun 2007 @ 10:24 AM

  79. Carl (#68) wrote:

    .#65 Dr Ladbury
    Well you should be careful about somone you don’t know dominating this forum so much. Everything he says is not true:
    (#61 under “Cockburn’s form”)
    “New approaches to solar power – perhaps photovoltaics which achieve the 95% efficiency of plants …”

    Plants have 7% total efficiency …

    The quantum efficiency (the rate at which one photon produces a free electron) of plants is close to 100%, but similar efficiency is not impossible to achieve in silicon.

    Yes, it was the quantum efficiency which I was thinking of. In fact I bought the copy of Nature in which the article on the research appeared. Likewise, I certainly wasn’t thinking the efficiency was at all spectra.

    Anyway, for those who are interested in what we are talking about, here is a pop article:

    Quantum secrets of photosynthesis revealed
    Published: 14:00 EST, April 12, 2007
    http://www.physorg.com/news95605211.html

    Basically, with the electron transfer, they had been thinking that it was multi-step, from one chemical center to another, but apparently it is done all in a single step using what is essentially Grover’s algorithm, a form of quantum calculation for searching databases.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Jun 2007 @ 10:38 AM

  80. Carl,

    With respect to my speaking with such authority, I don’t. I go out of my way to emphasize the fact that I am not an authority, and I have gone out of my way even to call attention to the fact that people are correcting me, that I was wrong, and that I am grateful for being corrected.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Jun 2007 @ 11:04 AM

  81. RE: J.C.H.

    I’m rooting for the Air Car and I think everyone else should too: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/06/09/autoblog-qanda-miguel-celades-sales-manager-of-mdi-they-make-th/

    Comment by MLF — 23 Jun 2007 @ 11:16 AM

  82. Carl (#74 wrote:

    #67 Timothy: That’s great, Tim. Personally, I have great interest in these issues, and I found this blog after discussing these issues with skeptics at another forum. I’m also a layman in this field, my specialization is semiconductor optics (I study quantum dots) and I’m pursuing a PhD in Physics. That’s why I felt I had to give you an update on the yield of photosynthesis compared to what semiconductor solar cells can do.

    Well, I know they are doing interesting things right now. I had heard of the 40% efficiency. Likewise, there is also a kind of three-dimensional architecture which they are getting into right now. Not especially familiar with that as of yet though.

    Anyway, if you stick around just a little bit, you will notice that I go out of my way to point out that I am not an expert. But I try to be accurate. On occasion I will slip, perhaps as the result of misremembering things. And part of what I like about this place is that there are people who know a great deal more than I do, and they will usually call me on things if I get something wrong. I appreciate that.

    I was strongly involved in the evolution/creationism end for the past several years. DebunkCreation was an earlier hangout, then an organization called the “British Center for Science Education,” despite the fact that I live in Seattle. They are still trying to get on their feet, but I wasn’t comfortable with how they looked to me as some kind of “science expert.” I was also extremely uncomfortable with how some of the atheists were treating their Christian allies – despite all the emphasis we were placing on setting that issue aside.

    I strongly believe that when you are cooperating with others, you need to learn how to set aside your differences. And I greatly appreciate the fact that atheism vs religion is not an issue here. That kind of thing tears me up inside, particularly since I can identify with both sides in that “debate.”

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Jun 2007 @ 11:32 AM

  83. Re #73 and Gavin’s response.
    Gavin – let’s get your credentials out in the open. Have you ever been too close to a pile of ice that was moving too fast (10 m/s)?

    In general, people are caught in ice falls and avalanches when they have bet their life that an avalanche or ice fall will not happen in the immediate future. Never the less people are killed in icefalls and avalanches on a regular basis.

    I know a bit about ice, and yet I have been all together too close to ice moving way too fast. Ice is a very nonlinear material. Cold, it is very strong. However, as it approaches its melting point, it is quite weak. If only 18 feet of (melt) water collect in the bottom of a surface feature such as a crevasse, then that amount of water can split an ice sheet from top to bottom � even if the ice sheet is a kilometer or a mile or two thick. Thus, if there is essentially any surface melt, then you end up with a pile of ice rubble with little mechanical strength that will slide down hill. This is why soot on the ice is so critical to global warming � the soot accumulates on the surface of the ice sheet producing melt water every summer. That melt water then warms the core of the ice. Moreover, the soot enhances the growth of algae that further reduces albedo.

    It is drizzling in Greenland today. In the last year, rain or drizzle has been reported somewhere in Greenland in every month. Sure, the top of the ice sheet gets good and cold in the winter, but ice is a pretty-good insulator that cold does not penetrate the ice sheet significantly. On the other hand, on warm days, the melt water carries a lot of heat deep into the ice very fast. Go talk to a bunch of ice climbers about what happens to ice in a climate where it rains or drizzles throughout the year. It does not so much melt as turn into a giant pile of ice rubble, which has little mechanical strength, and is free to slide downhill. Or, think of the ice falling off the ski lodge roof on that last day of spring skiing. It looks clear and solid, but it is close to its melting point and is mechanically weak. Then, it breaks off all at once with a crash.

    Much of the WAIS is grounded several hundred feet BELOW sea level. As long as the seawater contacting the submerged ice is below 0C then the melting of the ice by the salt water will tend to keep the ice hard and strong. However, if the temperature of the seawater in contact with the ice were to rise above 0C then the melting of the ice by the saltwater will weaken the ice AND cause a local density current that will circulate more seawater into contact with the ice. Physics says this is a very powerful, if rather local feedback. Having fresh water ice hundreds of feet below the surface of the sea is energetically different from having ice floating on the surface of the sea.

    These are local effects that do not show up on the global climate models. Thus, ice melt is happening faster than the models predict, and effects are happening before the ice melt is complete.

    [Response: I'm not sure who you are arguing with here. Claims of near or medium term total disintegration of all ice sheets are bogus and it does nobody any good to support such statements. This is a completely different issue as to whether there will be increased dynamical loss of ice sheets in the near future - particularly Greenland and WAIS. On that, I am extremely concerned - both due to ongoing measurements of dynamic changes, increased surface melt area and lower altitude retreats, and our lack of a good understanding of the processes. There can be extremely serious sea level changes due to this that could be devastating, but it would still fall far short of total disintegration. Hyperbole is not necessary to convey the problem here. - gavin]

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 23 Jun 2007 @ 12:05 PM

  84. J.C.H. (#75) wrote:

    Carl – I’m enjoying the education on solar cells. People tend to have unreasonable expectations of emerging solutions. Replacing fossil fuels is going to be a hard slog.

    I think some of the expectations are a little unreasonable at this point, but I am still hoping for an international Manhattan project of sorts – to push the envelope of what is possible. Currently it looks like we are trying to get countries to limit their emissions and insisting on higher standards, which is all well and good, but countries should be pooling their efforts in the development of new technologies.

    At the same time, one thing that Jim Hansen has been suggesting is that we can try to limit our emissions by centralizing the processes where they are emitted. One approach to this, for example, would be the development of hydrogen cars. Gasoline or oil would still be used in the separation of hydrogen, but at centralized locations where it would be easier to capture the emissions. I don’t know how easy that would be to impliment, and I suspect it would involve some difficulties, but it seems a reasonable approach.

    However, other countries are already doing a far better job of designing cars with lower emissions than our domestic auto producers while holding down costs – so part of what is holding us back at least with respect to lower carbon emission gasoline cars would seem to be an industry which is dragging its heels and successfully lobbying the goverment. But this may limit the international market for their autos.

    I hold out fair amount of hope at least in developing countries for carbon sequestration via AgriChar/BioChar – which produces some carbon free fuels, sequesters carbon for centuries and raises agricultural productivity considerably (which will be particularly important in the decades ahead) while avoiding the use of phosphates. The avoidance of phosphates isn’t directly related to controlling greenhouse gases, but the phosophate runoff from agriculture encourages algae blooms responsible for many of the dead zones which have been occuring along our coastlines through the creation of anoxic conditions.

    But we should also recognize the fact that AgriChar will be used as a form of charcoal for the purpose of cooking, at least for a while, and much of the recent increase in carbon emissions (since 2000) has been due to solid fuels in third world countries.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Jun 2007 @ 12:14 PM

  85. Re (#82 Timothy Chase)

    “DebunkCreation was an earlier hangout,”

    Ah, then I actually did find you when I googled for you. I have experience of that ‘debate’ (as you so eloquently put it) as well. Sometimes it feels like pumping water out of a leaking boat: you have the tools, and it’s not overly difficult, but it’s perpetual hard work never the less. I’m an agnostic, so I think we have the same stance on the evolution/creation issue.

    Anyway, the I should check the Nature letter (?) in the library. It matters little for semiconductor photovoltaics, but might be very important for cheaper solar cells based on dyes or organic materials.

    Comment by Carl — 23 Jun 2007 @ 12:18 PM

  86. Carl (#82) wrote:

    “DebunkCreation was an earlier hangout,”

    Ah, then I actually did find you when I googled for you.

    You might have also run across a few small fragments of my former self from my Objectivist days – trying to build a kind of decentralized approach which emphasized intellectual independence. I created the original Objectivist Ring – managed to get a website by Jimbo Wales on it as well as several of the independent leading intellectuals, including Chris Sciabarra. Wales went on to found Wikipedia, oddly enough. Incidently, if you ran across some poetry, that is an altogether different Timothy Chase.

    Regarding the atheism vs. religion conflict within the pro-evolution movement, Carl continues:

    I have experience of that ‘debate’ (as you so eloquently put it) as well. Sometimes it feels like pumping water out of a leaking boat: you have the tools, and it’s not overly difficult, but it’s perpetual hard work never the less. I’m an agnostic, so I think we have the same stance on the evolution/creation issue.

    Well, with me, I would classify myself as a humanistic, quasi-Spinozist neo-Aristotelean with platonic elements and a Zen Buddhist view of religion. A bit of a fusion. Not quite the same thing, but the difference obviously isn’t relevant.

    Anyway, the I should check the Nature letter (?) in the library. It matters little for semiconductor photovoltaics, but might be very important for cheaper solar cells based on dyes or organic materials.

    I believe it was a letter. Not as authoritative, obviously. Several pages though.

    In the case of organics, do you know to what extent we are looking to imitate or even harness nature? I understand that there exists a phage which infects a marine bacteria and substitutes its own version of photosynthetic rhodopsin while disabling that of the host. It is presumably more efficient than what the host originally has.

    I also understand that to some extent we are already investigating the use of viruses in the manufacture of smaller electronic circuits. Likewise, we’ve been considering the modification of metabolic pathways in bacteria for use in manufacturing for some time now – as this would be more environment-friendly than current methods.

    And I am curious to what extent we might employ metamaterials in solar power – given their unique optical properties. Not something that I would normally consider as it would seem cost-prohibitive, but in some cases they have found that self-assembly is surprisingly easy – leading to dramatically lower costs of production.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Jun 2007 @ 2:05 PM

  87. Lawrence Coleman (#73) wrote:

    A leading scientist/spokeman at the Australian CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Australia’s main think-tank on all things envirnonmental etc said quite emphatically that the antartic and artic melts will be total and that the climatic process is now irreversible and it’s a “done deal”.

    Hansen has emphasized the non-linearity and wet disintegration of much of Greenland’s ice – which he believes the IPCC is in large part ignoring in its forecasts. Likewise he has emphasized the positive feedback which may occur between Greenland and Western Antarctic Peninsula. I suspect he is right on target with respect to this or slightly conservative in his estimates given the most recent projection of 2020 (regarded as somewhat extreme by some in the field) for an ice-free summer in the Arctic ocean.

    But I don’t think that anyone in the mainstream is even considering the total disintegration of Greenland’s glaciers within this century a remote possibility. Likewise, we are worried about losing much of the Western Antarctic Peninsula within this century, but I personally would doubt that we will ever lose all the ice of Antarctica. In fact, I don’t believe I have ever run across that sort of claim before.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Jun 2007 @ 2:36 PM

  88. Aaron Lewis (#83) wrote:

    Re #73 and Gavin’s response.
    Gavin – let’s get your credentials out in the open. Have you ever been too close to a pile of ice that was moving too fast (10 m/s)?

    Gavin Schmidt is a climatologist and modeller at NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies who has worked closely with Jim Hansen and Michael Mann, published quite a few peer-reviewed papers, and recently finished work on the GISS ModelE… but these are just some details I have inadvertently run across.

    What is your background?

    Were you recently on a vacation somewhere? How was it?

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 23 Jun 2007 @ 2:49 PM

  89. Apparently the guy who mentioned the role of soot in arctic melting was right and I was wrong — the article really did say that it was having a major effect. Still mostly greenhouse gases, of course, but even so, my post was wrong.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 23 Jun 2007 @ 3:54 PM

  90. On Barton’s comment on number 70:
    “If you can see the scanned file properly on your monitor, then get ahold of a nice freeware screen-capture program like MWsnap, choose the select-any-rectangle feature and save it as a bitmap file. I don’t think you can show pictures in this blog, but you can include a link to them, assuming you have a web site somewhere.”

    Thank you for the helpful info. I’ll follow up on the necessary software and perhaps be more successful on transferring pertinent information on future tries.
    This site sure has a lot of talented bloggers, due in large part, I suspect to the diligence and scientifically accurate presentations of the volunteers who monitor the site. As someone commented earlier, this site is a great source for getting ammunition to rebut the spiritual descendants of those who put Galileo under house arrest and burned Giordano Bruno at the stake, for having the unmitigated gall to speak scientific truth to power.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 23 Jun 2007 @ 9:52 PM

  91. Re 88

    I am an old guy. I learned Formula Translation Language feeding card decks into the original NCAR CDC 6600 (Which later became a 66/6700.) I worked for Jay Forester in the days when he was working on Limits to Growth. (My Advisor at SUNYA did not like the modeling work that I was doing for Jay Forester. I had my modeling described with language that could melt the whole of the Greenland Ice Sheet in a flash. )

    I expect the only peer reviewed thing by me that you will find is on the physics of bioremediation of oil in seawater from the days when I was at Bechtel. Most of my work was on risk management, regulatory compliance, pollution prevention, and waste minimization. If you can get into a DOE reading room, you can find other things that I wrote. (Although, I am no longer allowed to read some it.)

    However, I can still ski double black diamonds. A year ago I was playing on a snowfield that I had played on since 1980. One minute it was there, and 3 minutes later it was � gone! Let me tell you that there is a big difference between reading a statement that the snowfields in California are retreating, and having one fall out from under your feet. Statistically, it was nothing! Maybe the size of a football field, and what slid was only 8 or 10 feet thick. But, it happened so fast!

    My understanding is that the global climate models are not capturing the dynamic behavior of the ice. My personal experience is that dynamic behavior of ice can be disconcertingly fast. On a chunk of ice the size of Greenland, disconcertingly fast would be – - Well, much faster than the climate models predict.

    So, anybody else ever use a dog turd to melt a hole in the ice so you could go ice fishing? It works. (At least on pond ice.) Ever sprinkle a handful of coal dust across the lake to melt the ice so you could put the canoe in the water? It works. Anybody else scoop a handful of snow off a glacier and look at the critters in it? They really are worth looking at because they change the albedo of the snow, and they use nutrients deposited form the air to facilitate their growth. Therefore, the albedo of snow and ice depends on everything that falls out of the atmosphere and all previous deposition that surface melt has exposed. If the model does not allow for this change in albedo, then snow and ice is going to disappear disconcertingly faster than the model predicts.

    So What? The problem is that we do not have to get all the way to total meltdown before ice melt starts to affect us. Open up the Arctic sea ice, and the Arctic is no longer a desert. A large source of moisture at the North Pole will change our weather patterns. California�s water systems are engineered for a very narrow range of climate. Too much rain, and we have a problem; too little rain and we have a problem.

    Let us pretend that we can buy AGW insurance, but we cannot make a claim until at least 5 years after we sign the contract. When is the earliest that we could possibly (assume p=.05) expect to make a claim either of economic damages or of damages to our social systems or the environment?

    The models, as presented do not give the general reader who wishes to be prudent any guidance. Prudence is a virtue. We should facilitate it

    For a good rest go to http://www.clu-in.org.

    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 23 Jun 2007 @ 10:01 PM

  92. Aaron Lewis(#91) wrote:

    My understanding is that the global climate models are not capturing the dynamic behavior of the ice. My personal experience is that dynamic behavior of ice can be disconcertingly fast. On a chunk of ice the size of Greenland, disconcertingly fast would be – - Well, much faster than the climate models predict.

    You are quite right.

    We are having difficulty modeling all of the feedbacks and things are moving along more quickly than anticipated. According to the recent IPCC report, the Arctic sea wouldn’t experience an ice-free summer until at least 2050. Now it is looking more like 2020. Likewise, when they project a sea level rise somewhat less than a meter, they aren’t taking into account the nonlinear nature of the process, the various kinds of feedbacks, or for that matter, the possibility of positive feedback between glacier loss in Greenland and the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

    But these are points which Jim Hansen has been raising for some time. He has been pointing out that this would be nonlinear, that it would involve various forms of positive feedback which were not yet accounted for by the models, and that it would be a wet process. He has been pointing out this will be stochastic. And he is also pointing out that sea level rise could be several meters.

    Publicly.

    In the meantime, we are getting a crash course on much of the dynamics of ice melt, whether it happens to be due to melting snow being darker than the ice and therefore absorbing more sunlight, or creating channels of runoff which lubricate the glaciers so that they can move more quickly, the various processes of disintegration, or the effects of soot on snow.

    In any case, personally, I at least expect these guys to be keeping up with everything that we are learning regarding glacier dynamics. They understand how important it is in terms of the global climate, and they have access to all the scientific literature – including the results of the extremely detailed studies being done out in the field. But at the same time, it helps if we don’t exaggerate the threats as this could cause climatology to lose some of its credibility – which is something that would play into the hands of certain groups.

    Anyway, I think I share some of your concern. I am in no way a professional, but there hasn’t been a day that has gone by for the past several weeks that I am not obsessing a little about the arctic, Greenland or the Himalayas – or more likely all three. I think we both share some grasp of their importance. I am pretty sure these guys do too.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 24 Jun 2007 @ 3:51 AM

  93. [[As someone commented earlier, this site is a great source for getting ammunition to rebut the spiritual descendants of those who put Galileo under house arrest and burned Giordano Bruno at the stake, for having the unmitigated gall to speak scientific truth to power.]]

    Actually, Bruno was a pseudoscientist even by the standards of the day. But he was executed for his theological statements, not his “scientific” work.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 24 Jun 2007 @ 5:44 AM

  94. Aaron,

    You are quite right. Earth science is catastrophic, not uniform as the scientists imagine. This is because they take averages. For instance the climate of florida is so attractive that people go there to retire or on holiday. But it is one of the places on this Earth where hurricanes strike. 99.9% of the time you could live there in a trailer home, but if it was not possible to evacuate there would be few people left alive there now.

    The Boxing Day tsunami was another good example of a sudden event causing destruction, but happening on a scale so short that it made no difference to the average sea level around the Indian Ocean.

    But if a similar short event happens to the global climate there is nowhere we can evacuate to. These rapid warming events do happen. The last one occurred 10,000 years ago at the start of the Holocene. Then temperatures in Greenland jumped 20C in a mater of years, when the sea ice in the Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian Seas suddenly melted. Now, we know that the Arctic ice will be gone within a few years. If the temperature in Greenland jumps another 20C how long will the ice sheet last then? How will the West Antarctica ice shelves cope with a 7 m rise in sea level?

    Timothy says don’t panic, the scientists know what is happening. But how are they going to save us? The Greenland ice sheet has started melting and they have done nothing. If it melts even faster what can they do?

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 24 Jun 2007 @ 6:10 AM

  95. Aaron Lewis, that’s also my understanding of the nature of antartic/greensland ice as well. It’s not like taking an ice lump and calculating the rate of melting at a set temp over a day. The way that ice has formed over the millenia and it’s relationship with the bedrock below and the structural dynamics at play within the average glacier make the way it will melt very variable and based on many factors. Also that fact that huge areas of the iceflows will suddenly collapse like a house of cards when the temp reaches a certain point all indicate that the disintegration process will happen much sooner than forcast. As is happening right at this minute the low lying ice shelves are breaking apart and drifting north.. then as temp warms another 0.5C higher the ice at higher altitudes will begin to disintegrate with resulting fast flowing glaciers. Not sure how many realise just how fragile the ice shelves are and how soon we will lose them.
    On another note…latest from Sliver solar cell tech, is that Origin energy plans to start commercial production within a year and rapidly accelerate production from then on. The initial cost per kw will only be about 10% cheaper but when large production plants have been built the cost will steadily drop. Here’s a thought..why dont the inventors of Sliver cell use the technology the germans have invented to coat the sliver subsrate with broad spectrum light absorbing chemicals..don’t know if it’s possible or not..can’t imagine why not though?

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 24 Jun 2007 @ 8:31 AM

  96. Alistair, panic is rarely a profitable activity–unless it is the people around you who are doing it while you keep your head. The Boxing Day tsunami is a good example. If the ocean suddenly pulls away from the beach, it’s generally a good idea to seek higher ground. Lack of tsunami awareness. Science can’t save us. It can tell us what the consequences of our actions may be, though and so, hopefully increase our awareness. If we take responsible actions, science may even be able to respond and buy us more time with new technologies that both mitigate the harms and capitalize on the benefits of a warmer climate. Ultimately, however, our fate depends on our actions. Think of it as an intelligence test. Have our superior brains conferred up on us sufficient intelligence to avoid the fate of a yeast colony in a bottle of beer–i.e. dying in our own waste.
    This is precisely the sort of hazard we haven’t been good at dealing with–a hazard that poses little imminent risk, but requires lont-term planning to avoid severe long-term risk. It is a question of whether the sort of strategic, disciplined thinking that science fosters can become widespread enough for us to avert catastrophe. Know anyone taking bets?

    Comment by ray ladbury — 24 Jun 2007 @ 9:45 AM

  97. Alastair McDonald (#94) wrote:

    Timothy says don’t panic, the scientists know what is happening. But how are they going to save us? The Greenland ice sheet has started melting and they have done nothing. If it melts even faster what can they do?

    Alstair,

    If you really want something to worry about, consider the possibility of the spontaneous decay of the false vacuum. A bubble would form, expanding at the speed of light and wipe out all life as it swept through the universe. Chances are you wouldn’t even know what had happened. At this point, theoretically it is at least possible. It would have happened before, you say? It only has to happen once. Besides, it did happen once before about 13.9 billion years ago, I believe.

    Zap!

    So it is a tad unlikely, perhaps, but possible. Or if you want something a bit more likely, a cosmic string we failed to notice – we may have spotted one of those before in its distortion of the images of distant galaxies, a stray bit of strange matter, a supernova, a spiraling pair of neutron stars, a marauding black hole, or just a large asteroid we hadn’t noticed. And I could in all likelihood dream up a few more nightmares to keep you awake at night if I really wanted to. Some of these are so quick you wouldn’t have a chance to even notice – particularly those involving some sort of highly theoretical and exotic physics.

    Another Holocene Maximum is possible, but at this point we can’t say how likely it is, and it probably isn’t so likely that we need to worry about it a great deal. Lets stick to the threats which are actually probable if we don’t change our current trajectory. No need to dream up nightmares or other things that might go bump in the night, however satisfying it might be for your imagination.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 24 Jun 2007 @ 9:55 AM

  98. Re:
    Comment by Aaron Lewis � 23 Jun 2007 @ 10:01 pm
    “On a chunk of ice the size of Greenland, disconcertingly fast would be – - Well, much faster than the climate models predict.”

    what do the models predict ? A millenium for substantial melting in Greenland and Antarctica ?

    the GRACE results show mass loss in Greenland and Antarctica of the order of hundreds of cubic km/yr. These contribute around a mm/yr to global sea level rise. Greenland has about 3 million cubic km of ice, Antarctica about nine times more. At this rate it would take several millenia to substantially melt these sheets. My question is then, how much faster can this mass loss become ? Is it conceivable that we will see mass loss of a thousand cubic Km/yr in the next decade ? or worse ? Sea level rise is about 3mm/yr today. If this increases to 3cm/yr, we will have meters of sea level rise this century.

    Comment by sidd — 24 Jun 2007 @ 10:37 AM

  99. Regarding hurricane risk, it’s worth mulling over the oft-repeated statement that “we can’t say that any single event is due to global warming”. The obvious response is than to ask, “How many events does it take?”.

    The simple analogy is to a tossed coin. The coin might be loaded, or it might not. How many coin tosses will it take for one to determine that the coin is definitely loaded? Would one coin toss do it? Woul ten suffice? How about a hundred? Even if you got ten heads in a row, could you state, with total certainty, that the coin was loaded?

    Similar arguments are tossed around in the hurricane debate. The argument for an effect is that a larger and deeper surface warm layer in the oceans will provide the energy and fuel for more intense hurricanes. The argument against an effect is that other estimated effects of global warming (increased wind shear) will counteract this. The strength of the warm water effect is also debated.

    Insurance companies don’t have any doubts about the types of changes they expect to see now and in the future. In fact, they recognize that there will be an increasing risk of hurricane damage and are moving away from insuring hurricane-prone regions entirely. See Insurance Industry Warns of Climate Disaster, for example. They seem to be focusing on adaptation – noone is going to reverse current trends under current CO2 emmission practices.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 24 Jun 2007 @ 2:11 PM

  100. In comment 93. Barton Paul states.
    “Actually, Bruno was a pseudoscientist even by the standards of the day. But he was executed for his theological statements, not his “scientific” work.”

    The following is from the Vatican web page : “In the same rooms where Giordano Bruno was questioned, for the same important reasons of the relationship between science and faith, at the dawning of the new astronomy and at the decline of Aristotleâ��s philosophy, sixteen years later, Cardinal Bellarmino, who then contested Brunoâ��s heretical theses, summoned Galileo Galilei, who also faced a famous inquisitorial trial, which, luckily for him, ended with a simple abjuration.”

    The ideological descendents of the middle ages, like those who tried and suceeded in silencing Galileo,Bruno and others , are with us in modern times and to this very day.
    Back in 1981, James Hansen did a study showing that the Earth was warming and predicted back then that there would be global warming of “almost unprecedented magnitude” in this, the 21st century. The Department of Energy, as a result, took draconian measures, reneging on promised funding which forced layoffs and a narrowing of the scope of research at Goddard Institute.(Source:”The Change In The Weather” by William K. Stevens). Not long ago when Dr. Hansen was being interviewed on 60 minutes, the camera flashed briefly on a government “censor” of sorts, monitoring the interview. Oscar winner Al Gore, documents how a White House official with no scientific background edited an EPA assessment and deleted any mention of the dangers imposed by a warming planet.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 24 Jun 2007 @ 4:15 PM

  101. Lawrence Brown (#100) wrote:

    The ideological descendents of the middle ages, like those who tried and suceeded in silencing Galileo,Bruno and others , are with us in modern times and to this very day.

    Your most recent post does nothing to suggest that Bruno was a scientist beyond what your original post did.

    In any case, if by “the ideological descendants,” you are refering to the Catholic Church, you are mistaken: they recognize the threat of climate change, although they seek to balance it against their concern for the poor. If you are refering to the Evangelicals, they are coming around – and there already exists a fledgling evangelical movement which has turned its attention to climate change.

    Despite my considerable support for the free market, I have to acknowledge the fact that this is largely the result of politics being driven by the business agendas of a few key industries. In this case, the one company which I would place at the very top of the list is Exxon which has considerable influence in the current US administration.

    In any case, lets not try and drag religion into this.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 24 Jun 2007 @ 5:12 PM

  102. RE “The Galileo analogy’, the problem is simply that the answer to the question, “does burning fossil fuels warm the planet significantly” appears to be yes, based on decades of scientific inquiry. This creates a serious problem for the existing energy industry, as it means that trillions of dollars will have to be invested in renewable energy infrastructure of various kinds (instead of in Lear jets, for example).

    In the medieval case, the problem was that scientists were coming up with answers that challenged papal authority.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 24 Jun 2007 @ 6:50 PM

  103. It’s not about religion,Tim. It’s about large influential organizations and other entities such as corporations or as in the case of the Department of Energy that I referred to, government bureaucracies, that try to place theirown interests or “ideology”(republican,democrat,Spinozan,deist), if you will, above science.
    I notice that you took offense to the reference to those who were punished in the case of a church, but made no mention of the punishment meted out to Dr. Hansen by the DOE in the early 1980s, forcing him to layoff 5 people and reducing the scope of his research. I have nothing against any religion, except maybe so called “creation science”.
    I’d like to get back to the subject matter at hand,namely stormy weather. In 2005 two category 5 hurricanes hit the gulf coast and the World Meteorogical organization ran out of letters in the English alphabet and to resort the Greek alphabet to name hurricanes. The planet is noticeably changing and we ought to start doing something about it sooner rather than later. A good start would be a herculean effort on the scale of the Apollo project to find and use alternative sources of energy and away from fossil fuels.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 24 Jun 2007 @ 7:08 PM

  104. Lawrence Brown (#103) wrote:

    It’s not about religion,Tim. It’s about large influential organizations and other entities such as corporations or as in the case of the Department of Energy that I referred to, government bureaucracies, that try to place theirown interests or “ideology”(republican,democrat,Spinozan,deist), if you will, above science…

    Well then, you could have been dragging in Nazi opposition to relativity or Lysenkoism under Stalin. A bit odd that you kept hammering away at the middle ages with Giordano Bruno and Galileo. Just seemed pretty strange that this was what you kept coming back to.

    At the same time, what we are currently facing doesn’t look so much like ideology as financial interests wrapping themselves in the garb of ideology.

    I’d like to get back to the subject matter at hand,namely stormy weather.

    Sounds good.

    In 2005 two category 5 hurricanes hit the gulf coast and the World Meteorogical organization ran out of letters in the English alphabet and to resort the Greek alphabet to name hurricanes. The planet is noticeably changing and we ought to start doing something about it sooner rather than later.

    Ok. We are going to talk about hurricanes.

    A good start would be a herculean effort on the scale of the Apollo project to find and use alternative sources of energy and away from fossil fuels.

    Scratch that. We are going to talk about alternate energy.

    Or perhaps finding alternate energy supplies for hurricanes…?

    Wait a second… Gulf region – Ok, I think I see the connection.

    Sometimes my mind will work like that, too. Old age, perhaps, or forgetting my medicine, or maybe forgetting my medicine on account of my old age. Well, you get the picture. Wait a second – I’m not quite that old yet…

    Oh, nevermind!

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 24 Jun 2007 @ 8:33 PM

  105. re 100: Trying to equate AGW skepticism, even if gov’t cajoled, with Catholic inquisition is one giant leap of logic.

    Comment by Rod B — 24 Jun 2007 @ 8:50 PM

  106. RE the Arctic & Antarctic melting (#73), it may be that the CSIRO said we would be “committed” to complete (or much) melting by mid-century under a BAU scenario, but the actual time it would take to melt might be many many decades or even a century or two or three.

    I also understand that if we reach a certain point of warming (the runaway tipping point of no return), we will be committed to higher and higher temps, which may also guarantee a complete (or much) melting.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 24 Jun 2007 @ 9:21 PM

  107. Rod B (#105) wrote:

    re 100: Trying to equate AGW skepticism, even if gov’t cajoled, with Catholic inquisition is one giant leap of logic.

    Well, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

    *

    Seriously, this isn’t specific to “AGW skepticism” or what have you.

    It has to do with the suppression of science and of truth and of those who pursue the truth. It is the suppression of truth for the sake of the preservation of an illegitimate and corrupt power since if it were not illegitimate and corrupt it would have nothing to fear from truth. This isn’t a question of the century in which power is used to suppress truth or a question of the methods which are used, but a question of the principle and the obscenity.

    This is something which Lawrence Brown alluded to earlier, I believe, when he spoke of “truth to power.” That and the fact that truth must be greater than power if power fears truth.

    Or so I would assume.

    *

    Re: Lawrence Brown,

    My apologies for misunderstanding you.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 24 Jun 2007 @ 10:52 PM

  108. I don’t want to get into any sort of religious or political debate.
    Just to say a few things about Giordano Bruno: he was first and foremost a philosopher, not an astronomer in the stricter sense, and he actually loved occult “sciences” (like many scientists and philosopehrs of the medieval period, should we say), but some of its conceptions of the world were actually way ahead of its time. He was one of the first to promote soundly the Copernican model. He also promoted an infinite universe with each star being a sun with a solar system rotating around it (plurality of the worlds), and even the idea of primary particles composing the matter and called atoms. He thought the laws of physics were equally applying on every corner of this infinite universe. It has to be said again most of its conclusions derived of its philosophical approach, not of a scientific study per se. But some of its views on universe still sound very modern and accurate to this day, even in the astronomical community (mainly plurality of the worlds and infinity of universe).
    Of course, quite a number of its ideas on the world sound wacky today: the idea of a universe composed of 4 elements (fire, water, earth and air), or the concept of an aether surrounding the universe. These are just a few exemples. It is also to be noticed he putted very little faith in mathematics to explain the universe.
    Charges against him, during his trial, included notably its claims on plurality of the worlds and their eternity (amongst other contradictions to the catholic dogma).
    He sure cannot be credited for a scientific work, but I think he can be for promoting the new ideas of his time and foreseing some of the complexity of our universe.

    Comment by nicolas L. — 25 Jun 2007 @ 3:28 AM

  109. I’m interested to know what the view is on the impact of peak oil on some of the carbon control legislation / measures being introduced at the moment.

    If predictions about remaining oil reserves are proven to be correct, within a decade the price of crude and its better known refined products such as gasoline etc. are likely to rise rapidly as demand outstrips supply. For example – In the 1970â��s oil production drops of around 5% produced a 400% increase in cost.

    As the cost of almost all goods, food, electronics etc. can be correlated directly with the cost of crude oil, price rises are likely to have a major impact on all major industrialised economies within the next decade or so. What is the view on what impact this will have on the appetite to stick with current carbon control measures?

    I have my own views on this, but I think this scenario is definitely worth investigating. Surely democratically elected governments are far more likely to appease the biggest and most directly felt pain of their electorate, than that just around the corner.

    Comment by Jon Taylor — 25 Jun 2007 @ 5:01 AM

  110. [[The ideological descendents of the middle ages, like those who tried and suceeded in silencing Galileo,Bruno and others , are with us in modern times and to this very day.]]

    The intellectual descendants of the middle ages include every scientist working in the field, in a lab, or in an office today, since the foundations for modern science were laid in the middle ages. The belief in secondary causation — that things could act on other things directly instead of God or gods intervening to make the changes — was what enabled the study of nature as a thing separate from theology. Interestingly, this advance came almost exclusively from church officials, men such as Thomas Aquinas, Robert Grossteste, Nicolas Oresme, and Roger Bacon. The lack of a doctrine of secondary causation was what caused the scientific revolution to abort in ancient Greece, China and the middle east.

    Bruno and Galileo were persecuted during the Renaissance, not the middle ages.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Jun 2007 @ 6:44 AM

  111. [[Charges against him, during his trial, included notably its claims on plurality of the worlds and their eternity (amongst other contradictions to the catholic dogma).]]

    The plurality of worlds was not in conflict with Catholic dogma. It was a commonplace of belief among educated people since Roman times, and definitely the middle ages, that all the planets, and the sun and the moon, were inhabited.

    I highly recommend C.S. Lewis’s “The Discarded Image” (1964) for a good introduction to the medieval worldview. The popular images of what that worldview were like are nearly all completely wrong, and stem mostly from things made up by Edward Gibbon in the 18th century and Andrew Dickson in the 19th, both of whom had anti-Christian axes to grind.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Jun 2007 @ 6:49 AM

  112. re 111

    Galileo was pursued for heresy by the catholic church in 1633 (33 years after Giordano Bruno death) because he had supported the heliocentric system in “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”. If the catholic church at the time wasn’t ready to accept the earth rotating around the sun (being itself the center of the universe of course), I don’t think they were ready to accept the plurality of the worlds :).
    You can find the detail of the chiefs of accusation at the Giordano Bruno trial in a book wrote by Luigi Firpo (Italian historian) in 1993. Support to plurality of the worlds was part of it, and was considered has highly heretic. I don’t know if there was an English translation of that book, but the translation from the title would be “the trial of Giordano Bruno”.
    Middle age was a dark time for science (at least in Europe), and most of people even considered earth was flat (though it has been proved spheric since Antiquity).

    Comment by nicolas L. — 25 Jun 2007 @ 7:56 AM

  113. Barton Levinson makes my point that I wasn’t attacking religion, but attacking those who put people to death for their beliefs or lack of them.
    Levinson says in part:
    “The belief in secondary causation — that things could act on other things directly instead of God or gods intervening to make the changes — was what enabled the study of nature as a thing separate from theology. Interestingly, this advance came almost exclusively from church officials, men such as Thomas Aquinas, Robert Grossteste, Nicolas Oresme, and Roger Bacon. put people to death because of their beliefs.”
    Don’t forget Gregor Mendel and his great contribution in heredity studies to the biological sciences.Iknow, I know,Mendel was post rennaisance.
    There’s no need to apologize for misunderstanding me,Tim, I’m don’t always understand myself. The main thing is to be able to agreeably disagree.
    Tim says: “It(AGW Skepticism) has to do with the suppression of science and of truth and of those who pursue the truth. It is the suppression of truth for the sake of the preservation of an illegitimate and corrupt power since if it were not illegitimate and corrupt it would have nothing to fear from truth. This isn’t a question of the century in which power is used to suppress truth or a question of the methods which are used, but a question of the principle and the obscenity.”
    I couldn’t agree more!
    I believe that Bruno was put to death because he believed in Copernicus’s world view rather than Aristotle’s. Aristotle was a brilliant man, but as a physicist he was way off. His periodic table consisted of four elements(Earth, air, fire and water), he didn’t believe in experimentation and thought larger objects fall faster than smaller ones.

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 25 Jun 2007 @ 9:59 AM

  114. Point of no return for BAU.

    It would be interesting to get the Positions of
    respected folks like, M Mann, Gavin, Stefan, and others
    here, ray, tim, ike, eli..

    I agree with Al, and hope he runs. He said:

    “The point of no return will be reached within 10 years, the former vice president says, and we cannot wait any longer to solve the crisis. ”

    What say you guys?

    Comment by Calibabe — 25 Jun 2007 @ 10:23 AM

  115. I’m hoping this type of mature dialogue about hurricanes ends the fascination since the 1960s with dropping stuff in them or otherwise trying to “stop” them. A significant fraction of New England’s annual precipitation comes from hurricane and hurricane remnants travelling up the Atlantic seaboard.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 25 Jun 2007 @ 10:42 AM

  116. Fixing the climate (or adapting to the changes) is going to take some changes in human behavior. Here is an excellent article about swarming behavior and how dumb creatures can work together in a very intelligent way to survive for many millions of years.

    http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0707/feature5/

    Comment by catman306 — 25 Jun 2007 @ 10:53 AM

  117. Re #97 where Timothy wrote:

    Alstair, If you really want something to worry about, consider the possibility of the spontaneous decay of the false vacuum.

    If I wanted something to worry about I wouldn’t choose science fiction, or even a once in 13 billion years event. It appears that we are hit by catastrophic impacts every 65 million years causing mass extinctions, and eruption from super volcanoes every 50 thousand years, with the last one nearly wiping out mankind.

    The point is that all these events are beyond the capability of man to affect. Rapid climate change events are in a different category. We have increased the concentration of a major greenhouse gas by over a third. The Arctic sea ice is thinning rapidly. See: http://www.abmcdonald.freeserve.co.uk/north.htm and Prof. Wally Broecker, who warned about the the Angry Beast, is now convinced that the rapid climate change is caused by changes in sea ice.

    It is gross stupidity to ignore the warning signs when they are there. Burying your head in the sand, or yelling “Chicken Little” at people, will not stop the climate machine.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 25 Jun 2007 @ 11:08 AM

  118. In 117, Alastair wrote:

    The point is that all these events are beyond the capability of man to affect. Rapid climate change events are in a different category.

    If you want a slightly more plausible scenario than those Timothy cites, you could worry about a cometary impact, like that which apparently roasted North America 12,900 years ago (Diamonds tell tale of comet that killed off the cavemen).

    But Alastair’s point is well taken: If climate change is a global catastrophe, it is unique in that it is entirely of human creation, and we are morally responsible for the outcome.

    I’m with the guys at the Earth Institute and choose to remain optimistic that we can slow and reverse AGW through prudent application of markets and technology. But I’m still not bringing any children into the 21st century.

    Comment by Jim Galasyn — 25 Jun 2007 @ 12:08 PM

  119. [[ If the catholic church at the time wasn't ready to accept the earth rotating around the sun (being itself the center of the universe of course), I don't think they were ready to accept the plurality of the worlds]]

    You can think what you like, but you’re wrong. The Romans were also geocentrists, but they had no problem believing in the plurality of worlds — see Cicero’s Dream of Scipio, or Lucian of Samosata’s True History. The eighth century South English Legendary accepted the plurality of worlds and so did every one of the great science encyclopaedias of the middle ages. BTW, it’s “revolving” around the sun.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Jun 2007 @ 1:11 PM

  120. [[Middle age was a dark time for science (at least in Europe), and most of people even considered earth was flat (though it has been proved spheric since Antiquity). ]]

    Most people might have, but not educated people, who were taught astronomy from Ptolemy’s Almagest (Mathematikay Suntaxis). And as I said, the foundations of modern empirical science were laid down during the middle ages.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Jun 2007 @ 1:12 PM

  121. [[I believe that Bruno was put to death because he believed in Copernicus's world view rather than Aristotle's. ]]

    The real reason Bruno was put to death was that he was even more of an antisocial crank than Galileo. His life history as an adult is basically a long list of countries and universities that accepted him at first but eventually kicked him out. Of the eight articles of indictment at his trial in Rome, none of them mentioned Copernican theory or the plurality of worlds. The major charges were denying the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and Transsubstantiation, not to mention “immoral conduct,” which meant then pretty much what it means now, and performing magic. Despite all that, the Roman Inquisition tried for eight years to get him to agree to some compromise. Will you sign this? Will you come so far as to admit this? But Bruno was the type who never admitted he was wrong about anything, so they finally gave up and executed him. That’s wrong by modern beliefs and I don’t agree with it, but by the standards of the time they were as lenient with him as they could possibly be. He had a number of ways out and he took none of them.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Jun 2007 @ 1:24 PM

  122. Alastair McDonald (#117) wrote:

    It is gross stupidity to ignore the warning signs when they are there. Burying your head in the sand, or yelling “Chicken Little” at people, will not stop the climate machine.

    The following (#94) seemed excessive, and not just to me:

    Timothy says don’t panic, the scientists know what is happening. But how are they going to save us? The Greenland ice sheet has started melting and they have done nothing. If it melts even faster what can they do?

    I would argue that we have more probable threats which are serious enough as it is. Arguing without good reason as you did that there could be a change in the mode of ocean circulation similar to what brought on the Holocene Maximum distracts us from those threats.

    However, it is quite possible that we will have our first ice-free summer in the Arctic Ocean by 2020. I’ve stated as much on a number of occasions. In fact, I had vague suspicions to this effect when I only knew that they were talking about 2040.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 25 Jun 2007 @ 2:36 PM

  123. Steven Milloy of Fox, Junkscience, and tobacco lobby fame is now claiming that he’s discovered fatal flaws in global warming theory. His claim is that ‘ever-changing global temperatures aren’t keeping pace with ever-increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels’. The article is a collection of dishonest claims and handwaving designed to convince the reader that there’s no need to stop burning fossil fuels (which would only hurt the poor, you see).

    You can see the article at Fox News. The author, Milloy, has a history of working for tobacco, chemical and fossil fuel public relations groups and is behind the junkscience.com website run by the fake grassroots organization ‘TASSC’ (The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition, initially funded by PhilipMorris – in case you were wondering what all the tobacco lobbyists are doing for jobs these days). For fun, read down the points and see if you can find the realclimate article that debunks each one. No mention is made of hurricanes, or other ‘extreme weather events’ that are show some relationship to global warming.

    One example is heat waves. Should we expect more frequent, prolonged and intense heat waves all around the planet as a consequence of global warming? How could one decide wether a given heat wave was ‘normal’ or ‘global-warming amplified’? What kind of trends in the frequency, duration and intensity of heat waves would indicate a link to global warming?

    A heat wave is defined relative to the normal climate pattern for a given area, so the question of detecting heat wave trends depends heavily on the use of baseline or ‘normal’ climate data. People have done such studies, and results show that in Western Europe (since 1880) the number of hot days per year has tripled and the duration of heat waves has doubled. (WP article). Not only that, nighttime summer temperatures continue to be high over the past decade, and 2006 was another summer of record heat waves in the United States. The conclusion is obvious: summers are going to continue to warm up.

    For hurricanes, the questions include atmospheric moisture trends, wind shear trends, ocean surface temperatures, and also the depth of the warm oceanic surface layer. The ocean is certainly warming up. No ocean cooling trends, or plausible mechanisms of ocean cooling, are to be seen. This will lead to warmer sea surface temperatures, and that should affect storm formation and duration. Wind shear will disrupt the formation of the hurricane structure, which is why there was interest in climate modeling studies that predicted increased wind shear as a result of global warming. See Hurricanes: Tempests in a Greenhouse, Emanuel 2006 for more.

    One can always ask the insurance modelers what they think: “Somewhat paradoxically, modeling is frequently “uncertain for those rare catastrophic events that cause the most claims,” the panel agreed”. It would be interesting to hear a debate between climate modelers and those who do forecasts for insurance companies – although I fear this will lead to a mad rush by university administrators and their lawyers to patent and license all climate models, under the guise of ‘public-private’ partnerships with the insurance industry.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 25 Jun 2007 @ 4:29 PM

  124. Are there other Hurricane predictions out there? I would like to hear from other opinions than the standard gang. U.K’s met office prediction seems daring, highly likely from numeric modeling. However I am looking for some human computer suaveness, a blend of the two should give some impeccable results. A purist modeler would dish its probalistic results, human input would force a recrunch of the numbers if the same model didn’t foresee this #1 temperature conditions so far. Dr Gray and others of his like would not care to notice that its the warmest year in history for the Northern Hemisphere to date, but this has implications with hurricane (intensity) as well as forest fires galore.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 25 Jun 2007 @ 6:54 PM

  125. RE the Gallileo/Inquistion analogy, my thinking is that there’s a similarity in the “threatened world view” aspect. I teach mythology, which can also be understood as “folk science,” since the ancients were trying their best to figure out how the world works. So without our modern science, it makes sense that the sun is going across the sky and (in Chinese myth) is a fire bird (birds fly across the sky). Also that the sky is some dome or water, being held up by Atlas or some mountains (that were the body of a god-culture hero). And sometimes that water leaks out — we call it rain. Also in ancient times there was no distinction among science, religion, ethic, way of life — they were all bundled together.

    The ancients wrote their (divinely inspired) scriptures based on these very logical & empirically based ideas.

    I don’t know much about Church history, but I think they were against Gallileo’s ideas because they went against what was written in scripture, and if one part of scriptures is false, then the whole part might be false, or so the Church feared people might think, and they would miss salvation because of that — throw the baby out with the bath water. So, perhaps their intentions were not so bad, though their methods unacceptable. Likewise re evolution – it threatens scripture.

    Now global warming does not threaten scriptures (beyond these other aspects of science that contradict scriptures), so GW is not a threat to religion. In fact I think some Armageddon Christians might even see it as inevitable, AND due to human wickedness. But it is a threat to another religion — the modern Western way of life that says we should be industrious, use up resources, and make lots of money…more than the Joneses. Which, BTW, really goes against scripture big time…but you can’t tell American Christians that.

    So it is a world view problem.

    Anthropologists were slow to come to the consensus that we are VERY closely related to the apes…slower than if they’d been studying relatedness among several insect species or something. Likewise I think scientists were a bit slower in coming to a strong consensus on GW….it seems to threaten our way of life, and even more precious than that, our world view.

    To the extent that modern religions are tied into this modern religion of extravagant materialism, they have also been slow to speak out on GW, which is really one of the biggest moral issues of our times.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 25 Jun 2007 @ 10:52 PM

  126. Re: point of no return. The fact that the situation the world finds itself is unprecendented means that no scientist will or can tell you when the point of no return is. I’m an acupuncturists by trade and thus tend to think wholistically. When brain or cervical cancer is first apparent to the patient..when the patient begins to feel something isn’t right it’s usually too late to save them. Only by immediate and aggressive intervention can the patient hope to be saved. We may quite well have passed the point of no return but one thing’s for sure if we dont stop arguing about petty details and dont aggressively attack the global problem NOW it definaltely will be too late. Al Gore gave the time frame ten years..that’s ten years for the world leaders to mobilize on a cohesive stagegy..He didn’t say the point of no return is now..all-though he could quite well have done. Whether the tipping point is past tense, now or in a few years time..it still means one thing..to get off our butts and each individual-each one of us, to do all that we can do. Buy efficient light globes, car pool-solar heating/power, carbon-trade..whatever is at our disposal..do it NOW!!!

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 25 Jun 2007 @ 11:00 PM

  127. You guys must have a zillion reports of strange weather where you live..I’ll just throw in my 2cents worth..Many cities on the eastern seaboard of australia have had their coldest and wettest june on record..this was following our hottest autumn on record and a couple of years back our hottest summer on record. Never since records began have we had 4 major low pressure systems develop off the south east coast. I have never seen soo many meteorological records smashed than over the last 12-18 months.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 26 Jun 2007 @ 1:05 AM

  128. #127
    Similar picture in Britain & N.W. Europe:
    Record warm Autumn; Record warm Spring; Major floods now in June.

    Perhaps one problem is that everyone has been told about Global Warming, whereas it’s a simplification.
    Within that simplified overall description, there are quite complex details: Cooling of the upper atmosphere, changes in regional climate patterns, and most important of all – extreme weather events.

    Comment by Alex Nichols — 26 Jun 2007 @ 1:32 AM

  129. “And as I said, the foundations of modern empirical science were laid down during the middle ages”

    This is right. But those first steps of modern science were not built by europeans, but by arabic mathematicians and astronomers (like Ibn al-Haytham, who is considered has the first to apply modern scientific methods). European science stagnated during whole of middle age and a great amount of well established scientific treaties from the classic period were lost, until the renaissance period, were Arabic sciences were introduced. The European “scientific revolution” didn’t begin until the mid of 16th century, mostly with Copernicus.

    Bruno was condamned for a whole buch of things, and certainly not for having defended Copernicus (it doesn’t appear in any document). But in the accusations was the explicit reference to its believe in the plurality of the worlds.

    Comment by nicolas L. — 26 Jun 2007 @ 3:36 AM

  130. [[I don't know much about Church history, but I think they were against Gallileo's ideas because they went against what was written in scripture, and if one part of scriptures is false, then the whole part might be false, or so the Church feared people might think, and they would miss salvation because of that -- throw the baby out with the bath water.]]

    Actually, they were against them because they went against Aristotle at a time when the proponents of the New Learning were trying to synthesize Aristotle with Christianity. That, and the fact that, like Bruno, Galileo couldn’t get along with anybody and was given to extravagantly insulting people who disagreed with him.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Jun 2007 @ 5:25 AM

  131. RE #127, Lawrence, I’ve noticed from ClimateArk.org the many ways Australia is suffering from global warming — droughts, brush fires, coral reef die off, cyclones, heat, and now extreme cold (I figure if scientists cannot yet attribute all these in part to GW, then maybe in 10 years they will retrospectively be able to do so). My concerns are with you.

    My screenwriting group was discussing GW movies, and disaster movies, in general, and we mentioned ON THE BEACH. I saw it as a kid in the late 50s or early 60s. It was about nuclear war. All other places around the world had been affected and people had died. I vividly remember the empty streets of San Francisco that the recon jet spotted. Because Australia is far from Europe, Russia, & the U.S., it would take weeks for the fall out to come and kill off Australians.

    I told my group, it seems this time with GW, Australia is first.

    Anyway, we thought it would be good if someone very familiar with Australia would do a movie set there about global warming effects and portents. I think ON THE BEACH helped us not to get into a nuclear war; maybe an Australian GW movie would help the world wake up and take action.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 26 Jun 2007 @ 6:08 AM

  132. No single weather event (such as the floods we are experiencing in the UK at the moment) can be attributed to climate change, however the frequency, duaration and intensity of those events are likely to increase.

    Climate scientists have forecast general weather patterns using climate models/simulations and they can tell us if weather events are indeed increasing in realtion to their models ?

    Or is that a tricky question to answer ?

    Comment by pete best — 26 Jun 2007 @ 6:14 AM

  133. If anyone’s interested, I wrote a long rebuttal to Viscount Christopher Monckton’s infamous editorial which I then posted to the “climatebrains” forum. Posters there had been fawning over Monckton a great deal, so I thought the time was ripe for a reply. My post is at the Climate Forum area of http://www.climatebrains.com, in the “Politics and science make bad bedfellows” thread.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Jun 2007 @ 7:34 AM

  134. #132 This graph implies that they are:-

    http://www.environmenttimes.net/graphic.cfm?filename=trends_L.gif

    Comment by Alex Nichols — 26 Jun 2007 @ 8:08 AM

  135. Perhaps one problem is that everyone has been told about Global Warming, whereas it’s a simplification.

    Within that simplified overall description, there are quite complex details: Cooling of the upper atmosphere, changes in regional climate patterns, and most important of all – extreme weather events.

    Agreed – that is why many prefer to speak of “climate change,” but it may help to use both terms – using “global warming” to introduce “climate change.” Besides, the weakening of the ozone layer doesn’t really fit under the banner of “global warming” in the minds of many – any more than the acidification of the ocean. But its all part of the same process.

    I have a question: we know that increased water moisture in the stratosphere is slowing the repair of the ozone – is it likely to reverse it? At this point I myself am not thinking in terms of the destruction of the ozone layer -but the thinning of it and perhaps it getting a little moth-eaten.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Jun 2007 @ 8:19 AM

  136. Excessive heat? GW. Drought? GW. Getting cold? GW. Wet and flooding? GW. Well, that all could be true, I suppose, but on the surface it sounds very pat and pavlovian.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Jun 2007 @ 9:13 AM

  137. I’m still curious about the Point of No return
    that Al mentioned. Are there any good papers I can read
    that show me the science behind this. This is really important. gavin? Mike? Stefan? can you explain this
    point of no return concept and why it happens in ten years?

    Comment by Calibabe — 26 Jun 2007 @ 10:37 AM

  138. re: 136. No. There is no “could” at all. If you read and understand the science of climate and climatology it is quite clear. *Global* warming is not necessarily specific to all points. That alone ought to be clear by now. Failure to understand the science is not grounds to dismiss it as “pat and pavlovian”. Rather it should make one want to learn about it and avoid pavlovian, dismissive skeptic remarks that have been discussed at length here. Take a climate or meteorology course or read a good basic introductory textbook at a library and you can learn about global weather patterns.

    Comment by Dan — 26 Jun 2007 @ 11:03 AM

  139. # 136

    The argument is more that the observed warming of the lower level atmosphere might also be correlated with more frequent and intense storms and flooding.

    One could just mention the severe flooding events in Western Europe over recent years e.g. in Germany & Central Europe 2002-3, Switzerland 1999 & 2005, and Britain 2004, 2007.

    Not only has there been loss of life, but the insurance claims must be in the billions by now, especially with severe flooding in major city centres like Leeds and Sheffield.
    see:-
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6240594.stm

    This question was raised, ever so tentatively, by the normally tenacious BBC interviewer Jeremy Paxman after the weather forecast last night. Poor Rob McElwee, the forecaster lumbered with giving the bad news, squirmed a bit between his personal and professional opinions, but said something to the effect:-
    “The more energy going into the system, the more coming out..”

    Of course, if the correlation is proven, it should all be part of the cost-benefit analysis of reducing emissions and, I suppose it could be argued that a timely warning had been given by the Real Climatologists.”

    Comment by Alex Nichols — 26 Jun 2007 @ 11:25 AM

  140. Rod B (#136) wrote:

    Excessive heat? GW. Drought? GW. Getting cold? GW. Wet and flooding? GW. Well, that all could be true, I suppose, but on the surface it sounds very pat and pavlovian.

    Rod,

    Ultimately it all comes down to precise analytic physics.

    For example, if you know the equation for how a single absorption line spreads as the result of pressure, that same equation will apply to each line of absorption, and to every gas. But there is still a fair amount of complexity. For example, how does convection take place in the ocean? The atmosphere? How do you describe turbulence? Average the behavior of turbulence with different sets of initial conditions? At that point you are probably talking about a numerical simulation, and not just one, but a great many.

    Or alternatively, you may be incorporating physics which is grounded in large part in empirical observations – so as to simplify the numerical calculations. But it is physics nevertheless. Moreover, the more observations one includes from more areas, at finer levels of detail, and under more varied conditions, the more justification you will have for a given model – ultimately for the same reason that you are able to figure out whether a given pair of dice are loaded by throwing the enough times.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Jun 2007 @ 11:30 AM

  141. Calibabe (#137) wrote:

    I’m still curious about the Point of No return that Al mentioned. Are there any good papers I can read that show me the science behind this. This is really important. gavin? Mike? Stefan? can you explain this point of no return concept and why it happens in ten years?

    There is no single point of no return. Even assuming the glaciers of Greenland melt, they will return in another 30,000 to 60,000 years. But there are various positive feedbacks.

    Here are a few:

    1. The more carbon dioxide you add to the atmosphere, the more its effects (in terms of the absorbtion of radiation) will be amplified by the evaporation of water leading to greater water vapor.

    2. The higher the temperatures go, the greater the loss of ice, glaciers, sea ice, and the higher the lower the albedo over the ocean and the soil in the arctic regions.

    3. Higher temperatures also mean that permafrost will melt, releasing methane as the result of organic decay.

    4. There is also the greater likelihood of shallow water methane hydrates releasing methane – and methane is about 21X more powerful than carbon dioxide.
    5. The higher the temperatures, the more soil will dry out in the temperate regions, leading to drought stress in plants combined with the heat stress which means that they will absorb less carbon dioxide.

    6. The higher the temperatures in the polar regions, the less carbon dioxide will be absorbed by the oceans until at some point it won’t even be able to hold the carbon dioxide which it already has and it will become a net emitter.

    7. The higher the rate of evaporation the greater the water vapor in the atmosphere leading to water vapor destroying ozone in the stratosphere, cooling of the stratosphere, the creation of a temperature differential between the lower and the upper, leading to increased winds near the surface, more upwelling of organic material from below, and the release of methane, some of which will result in further warming of the lower atmosphere.

    8. The more radiation is absorbed at lower latitudes, the greater the the poleward atmospheric and oceanic convection, meaning the more rapidly higher latitudes will warm, resulting in further ice loss, the less albedo, and the more sunlight will be absorbed at the surface.

    The problem is that all of these are either feeding into one another, or beginning to kick in so that in time they will be feeding into one another. And the longer they go on, the less they will be driven by our actions and the more the whole process will begin to take on a life of its own. The big “tipping-points” are the loss of Arctic sea ice, the large scale loss of glaciers in Greenland, the large scale loss of glaciers in the Western Antarctic Peninsula – and as both Greenland and the Western Antarctic Peninsula will raise the sea level considerably, there will be positive feedback between the two.

    But the biggest uncertainty in the whole equation is human action. Then again, the further we postpone action, the more we will be locked into current technologies with high carbon emissions and a higher population generating those emissions – partly as a result of industrial development in China and parts of the third world. One degree will probably be enough to set up positive feedback between Greenland and the Antarctic, but the higher the temperature the earlier the feedback will take place and the more chaotic it will be.

    Hope this helps!

    PS

    The most recent paper by Hansen would probably be a good start. I can look up the link a little later.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 26 Jun 2007 @ 12:17 PM

  142. LV:[[I don't know much about Church history, but I think they were against Gallileo's ideas because they went against what was written in scripture, and if one part of scriptures is false, then the whole part might be false, or so the Church feared people might think, and they would miss salvation because of that -- throw the baby out with the bath water.]]

    PBL: “Actually, they were against them because they went against Aristotle at a time when the proponents of the New Learning were trying to synthesize Aristotle with Christianity. That, and the fact that, like Bruno, Galileo couldn’t get along with anybody and was given to extravagantly insulting people who disagreed with him.”

    As a long time lurker here (2nd post in two years of reading), I just had to say hi to pbl for this one. Thanks for the best laugh in this 141 posts thread (so far). After reading what probably amounts to hundreds of your extremely self-assured and frequently caustic retorts to others with different viewpoints, I have to ask whether you appreciate the irony in this one as much as I do. Beautiful. I always enjoy your posts.

    cheers,

    kainin

    Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds.
    A. Einstein

    Comment by kainin — 26 Jun 2007 @ 2:31 PM

  143. RE my post #125, another aspect of the Gallileo-GW denialist analogy might be this: I read somewhere that the Church hierarchy actually believed Gallileo was correct (or could be), but were afraid this knowledge would harm the people. Likewise, SURELY Bush & co actually believe anthropogenic global warming is happening (even though there may be some little people denialists who actually disbelieve AGW), but they fear it would be bad for the big businesses (like oil) that they are involved in and beholden to.

    RE the POINT OF NO RETURN, I would define it as that point at which our efforts to reduce our GHGs — even if we could reduce by 75% — will not be enough to stop the warming process, which will take on a life of its own through natural feedbacks.

    Also in #141, re Point 5, you could probably add in forest and brush fires made more likely by drought, dry soil & herbage, and high winds (impacted by GW).

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 27 Jun 2007 @ 1:28 AM

  144. re 135

    Almost total recovery of the ozone layer is expected during the second half of 21th century. Climate Changes will slow it down apparently, but hopefully will not stop the recovery process due to Ozone Depleting Substances progressive ban. You can find all the details you want here (you can skip to the “twenty questions about ozone layer” to make it faster :)):
    http://ozone.unep.org/Assessment_Panels/SAP/Scientific_Assessment_2006/

    The interesting thing to note about ozone issue is that, though ozone depletion and global warming are two different problems, the ban of Ozone depleting substances seems to have had a positive impact on the reduction of GHG (or to speak more properly, a reduction of the increase of ghg). Indeed, ODS are also GHG (with global warming potentials thousands of times higher than CO2), and it as been estimated in a study published at the beginning of the year that their progressive ban as had the impact of an 8 Gtons equ.CO2 /year mitigation in ghg releases since 1990. It’s not excessive compared to the overall 50 Gt equ CO2/year emissions, but that’s a start.

    “The importance of the Montreal Protocol in protecting climate”
    Guus J. M. Velders, Stephen O. Andersen, John S. Daniel, David W. Fahey and Mack McFarland
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/12/4814

    Comment by nicolas L. — 27 Jun 2007 @ 2:35 AM

  145. Lynn Vincentnathan (#143) wrote:

    Also in #141, re Point 5, you could probably add in forest and brush fires made more likely by drought, dry soil & herbage, and high winds (impacted by GW).

    Herbage – that would be where plants result in shade which helps to keep the soil from drying out and might reduce the effects of wind that would result in evaporation? I hear that there will be other local feedbacks which will cummulatively have a global effect. With regard to the forest fires, I understand that they could play an important role in the possible transition of the Amazon river basin to desert – although this is at least partly in our hands since such fires tend to occur near human settlements.

    Comment by Timothy Chase — 27 Jun 2007 @ 9:19 AM

  146. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-na-galveston24jun24,1,1733064.story

    Comment by Andrew Sipocz — 27 Jun 2007 @ 5:22 PM

  147. Kainin, could you be more specific? What great climate ideas are you refering to?

    Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 29 Jun 2007 @ 10:39 AM

  148. Re: #22 – BPL -
    By any chance is there any way short of joining the Royal Society to get a copy of the Tyndall reference?

    “Tyndall, John (1861). “On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours…” Philosophical Magazine ser. 4, 22: 169-94, 273-85. ”

    The copyright has probably run out by now….

    Comment by M Weirick — 29 Jun 2007 @ 7:59 PM

  149. [[By any chance is there any way short of joining the Royal Society to get a copy of the Tyndall reference?]]

    Good question. There must be a way to do it, because Spencer Weart did it for his book. I know I’ve seen at least part of the text somewhere, though I can’t recall where offhand. I’m guessing it was probably reprinted somewhere, in some volume of classic climatology papers. Has anyone out there seen a copy?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 30 Jun 2007 @ 6:04 AM

  150. I hesitate to submit this . . . I don’t wish to come off sounding like Ted Moran and I realize that I’m coming perilously close . . . but then my issue is one of policy with few specifics to fudge . . . . I also realize that you wish to restrict discussions to science, but you haven’t ignored policy (how can you — really), and often your commentators state in frustration that we know so much about the science — what we really need is policy.

    ClimatePolicy.org seemed to offer a forum for policy discussions and the website seemed moderated (Paul Higgens) and even hosted regularly, even if it was not the most active website around — how can it be, given the subject. However, I have not been able to get a rise out of anyone there since June 25, despite having posted an outline for a global policy which should have elicited some response. No one has gone out of their way here to praise the American Meteorological Society and I don’t know who their connections are, and I am focussing on one certain group of industrialists, and the whole thing is making me uneasy and a little distressed. I do wish and hope that I could convince just one person to go over there and read my (longish) entry. Ugh, it is difficult to advocate for oneself — a large part of the reason why any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.

    I don’t wish to oblige anyone here to respond to me, so if I don’t here back, or perhaps only see some vague reference to hair-brained policy schemes (which I very much doubt) on one of your threads, I will understand.

    Comment by Dan G — 2 Jul 2007 @ 1:37 PM

  151. Re 149 John Tyndall (1861)

    I was able to access this article through JSTOR (an academic journal archiving database), to which many (most?) university libraries subscribe. If you live near a college or university, you might want pay a visit to its library to check its online databases. You might also check to see if you have access to the library databases at your alma mater.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 3 Jul 2007 @ 12:13 PM

  152. Chris Mooney’s book is reviewed in this week’s(July 1,07) NY Times Book Review for anyone interested:
    Click here: Storm World – Chris Mooney – - Review – New York Times
    If this not accessible the url is given below.

    The review isn’t very enlightening and Mike gives a much more in depth description

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/books/review/Margonelli-t.html?n=Top%2fFeatures%2fBooks%2fBook%20Reviews

    Comment by Lawrence Brown — 3 Jul 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  153. Re Tyndall (1861)
    By the way, the correct reference for the paper I downloaded is:
    The Bakerian Lecture: On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours, and on the Physical Connexion of Radiation, Absorption, and Conduction
    John Tyndall
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 151. (1861), pp. 1-36.

    I presume this is essentially the same paper cited by M Weirick in post #148. I see that the Philosophical Transactions version is a bit longer – perhaps it is a revised and expanded version of an earlier paper in Philosophical Magazine?

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 3 Jul 2007 @ 1:33 PM

  154. Tried many times but I can’t access the full article. Is there a tech support email address for questions like this?

    Comment by Andrew — 11 Jul 2007 @ 4:30 PM

  155. Andrew, it’s available only through subscription, not to general public as far as anyone’s posted above.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jul 2007 @ 6:43 PM

  156. Andrew,
    Check my comment in #151.

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 12 Jul 2007 @ 11:34 AM

  157. This just in:

    Record U.S. Warmth of 2006 Was Part Natural, Part Greenhouse
    Richard A. Kerr
    Science 13 July 2007:
    Vol. 317. no. 5835, pp. 182 – 183

    Climate scientists usually hesitate to point to a single climate extreme and say, “That’s the greenhouse at work.” Climate naturally swings to and fro so much that it can be tough to pick out the influence of the strengthening greenhouse on a hurricane season, say, or on one country’s climate over the course of a year.
    But four National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate scientists report in a paper in press at Geophysical Research Letters that the greenhouse was behind more than half of last year’s record-breaking warmth across the contiguous United States. By their reckoning, global warming in 2006 was aggravating all manner of U.S. extremes: severe droughts, the rising cost of air conditioning, the cold-sensitive pine bark beetle ravaging once-cool western forests, and maybe even some midwinter daffodils…

    First, to gauge the influence of last year’s El Niño, they checked on what 10 actual El Niño warmings of the tropical Pacific had done to U.S. temperatures. They found a slight overall cooling, not a warming, concentrated in the northern states. Then, in two climate models, they simulated the effect of a warmer tropical Pacific on U.S. temperatures. Again, they found a slight cooling. That “leads us to conclude that it was very unlikely that El Niño either caused or materially contributed to the record 2006 warmth,” they write.

    Next, the NOAA group checked on what greenhouse gases might have contributed. Because they had no prior examples of the recent run-up in greenhouse gases, the researchers were limited to analyzing simulations. They looked at 18 models that included greenhouse gases rising since the late 19th century to the present. Averaged over the models, the simulated greenhouse warming spanned the entire contiguous United States–much like the 2006 warmth, when every one of the lower 48 states was warmer than normal. The model average in 2006 accounted for “more than half of the observed warmth,” the researchers report. “The record 2006 warmth was primarily due to human influences.”

    “I could come up with a slightly different conclusion,” says meteorologist David Karoly of the University of Melbourne, Australia. Rather than blame half of the record warmth on the greenhouse, he would say that the new results show that added greenhouse gases have considerably upped the chances of a year like 2006. He agrees, however, that greenhouse gases made “a substantial contribution to the warmth of 2006.”

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 13 Jul 2007 @ 2:02 PM

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