Gavin — “We will continue to try and do so here.” Yes please, and welcome back!
Comment by David B. Benson — 26 Sep 2007 @ 3:28 PM
We rely on you to do just that.
However … social animals that we are, it is hard to ignore the chatter. Might this be a good time (by way of making lemonade from the current bumper crop of lemons) to discuss competing forcings in the light of evidence that aerosol sensitivity may be higher than previously thought, to explain why this makes action on greenhouse gases more, not less urgent, and to suggest that Rasool and Schneider may have been asking exactly the right question?
Gavin wrote: “My second thought on China came from travelling through some of the most polluted cites in the world. Aerosol haze that appeared continuous from Beijing to Hong Kong is such an obvious sign of human industrial activity that it simply takes your breath away (literally). In places, even on a clear day, you cannot see the sun – even if there is no cloud in the sky. Only in the mountains or in deeply rural parts of the country was blue sky in evidence. This is clearly an unsustainable situation (even if you are only thinking about the human health impacts) and it points the way, I think, to how China can be engaged on the climate change front.”
Bingo! Some of us have been saying this for some time now, even without traveling to China, but I’m sure seeing–and breathing–it in person drove the point home in a way that looking at satellite images of China in which you can not clearly see the ground does not. Now that China has exceeded the United States in per-nation emissions of CO2, let alone in aerosols, I have no doubt that the Chinese government is acutely aware of the impending health crises that their nation faces. It is clearly in our own best interest to assist China in developing technologies to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and shift to alternative forms of electrical generation and transport fuels. If we don’t China will eventually do it without us and it will be we who will end up buying those technologies from them. Our choice.
“In getting back into it, one appreciates just how much time is wasted dealing with the most ridiculous of issues…. at the expense of anything substantive.”
Hear, hear! Tilting at the pathetic attempts to pick away at perceived and imagined chinks in the mounting, mutually supportive evidence that it is we humans who are largely responsible for the current warming is a waste of time, and a navel-gazing luxury that we simply can no longer afford. Personally, I have decided to shift my time and effort over to campaigns to educate the public and school groups about the many actions that individuals, families, neighborhood groups, and small businesses can currently take to reduce their fossil fuel and energy consumption footprints, including putting real pressure on their elected representatives, and to motivate high school students to pursue careers in science, engineering and even developing and manufacturing marketable technologies that will be needed to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels to any substantial, meaningful extent. In other word’s it’s time to get to get out there and get to some real work.
That said, Gavin, I do very much look forward to your future posts to bring us up to speed on the science presented at the conference.
I would like it if you would be specific on what you meant by the “non-impact of the current fad for amateur photography) at the expense of anything substantive”. I followed the link by clicking “non-impact” but saw no amateur photography at that website.
Welcome back Gavin. Excellent post, but I am curious why a free survey of climate stations is considered a waste of time. A photographic survey of surface stations was recommended well before surfacestations.org started their effort. By people that would not be considered skeptics if memory serves.
[Response: See my previous post – not sure there’s anything to add. – gavin]
I don’t see why anyone is concerned about what anyone else is doing, or spends so much time discussing it. Everyone should be spending time implementing the truth as they know it, not discussing what they think it is with others or trying to convince anyone of anything. Except the people that are in control of the methods of implementing policy.
allowed me to take a bit of break from the constant back and forth on the climate blogs. In getting back into it, one appreciates just how much time is wasted dealing with the most ridiculous of issues (Hansen’s imagined endorsement of a paper he didn’t write thirty six years ago, the debunking of papers that even E&E won’t publish, and the non-impact of the current fad for amateur photography) at the expense of anything substantive. In effect, if possibly not in intention, this wastes a huge amount of people’s time and diverts attention from more significant issues (at least in the various sections of the blogosphere). Serious climate bloggers might all benefit from not getting too caught up in it, and keeping an closer eye on the bigger picture. We will continue to try and do so here.
I have had the impression pretty much from the get-go that the contributors would prefer to be spending more time on the issues that really matter, on explaining the science, answering questions and so on. In contrast we have seen a number of people come through here who only seek to confuse matters and make a general pain of themselves – to have their almost purely negative criticism of climatology treated on an equal par with the positive explanations of the science itself. An obvious case was the attack upon the surface stations – which seemed to go on well after everything had been done to death. I imagine the same might be said regarding the absorption and reemission of radiation – which went on far longer, but which I like to think was somewhat more productive even at the end. Then there are the alternate theories for which they can cite little or no evidence (on the rare occasions when they actually try to present them) treated as being on an equal par as well.
In any case, I am not sure that there is an easy solution. If no one responds, it may seem like there is no response to offer – at least to someone who has just wondered in. But if someone does respond, it can feed the senseless debate which is often only slightly above that of arguing with a pure troll. But it is something worth giving some thought to. I myself have have a project of sorts that is related to this site, but given the debating I haven’t had nearly as much time for it as I would like. I also know that people have wondered through here and been highly impressed with the level of discussion – which is I believe is well above that found nearly anywhere else on the web.
In any case, I am looking forward to learning more about your trip to China. Incidentally, back in the eighties Hong Kong was perhaps my favorite city. Either that or Singapore. Nearly polar opposites – the yang and the yin of the Orient.
Gavin, Welcome back, although it may have been disheartening to go directly from the pollution of the atmosphere to the pollution of the blogosphere. And with record energy prices filling the coffers of the major polluters of both atmosphere and blogosphere, I fear we are not due for any respite. It has been more than 22 years almost to the day since I last set foot on Chinese soil. It is an amazing place–over a billion people doing whatever they need to for survival. Perhaps China can take some heart from the experience of India. On my last trip there in ’96, Delhi was so polluted, you literally could not see the lamp post across the street. My wife and I both got bronchitis after only a week. I am told that it is now relatively clean–albeit at the expense of surrounding districts. China will be tougher, but I would think that >$80/barrel oil would provide an incentive for them to adopt greater conservation and efficiency measures even if their environmental woes do not.
gavin> ‘This is clearly an unsustainable situation (even if you are only thinking about the human health impacts)…’
While I certainly think pollution in China should be greatly reduced, what is ‘unsustainable’ about the health impacts? Humans have lived hundreds of thousands of years with average life spans much less than anything likely to result from this pollution.
It probably is unsustainable from the point of view that as the Chinese become wealthier, they will decide it to be worth the cost of greatly reducing health threatening pollution, just as western peoples have. But that did not seem to be what you meant.
Gavin, I hope you can invite those researchers here, give them the anonymity they may need, and host a discussion locking the rest of us gabbling amateurs out so you all can find space to think (grin).
Seriously, more scientists, less noise, at least in one thread or one forum, maybe ‘next door’ — would be fascinating to watch.
Raplh, if you will reread what Gavin wrote:
> the overwhelming focus on downcore records (the patterns
> of change at a single point through time) and the relative
> lack of integrated products that either show spatial patterns
> of change at a single time, or that try to extract common
> elements from multiple events in the past.
He means — I think — that each lab has its core of sediment brought up and is going through it.
Each lab may be describing the sequence of layers, and from that describing what they learn about the ocean when that particular layer was laid down — then looking say at continental drift to see where that piece of the planet was on the globe when that layer formed.
That’s fascinating, but it’s a time series for a point that slowly drifts across the globe — depth of the ocean changes, currents around the area likely change as continents move, and so forth.
And Gavin means — I think — that few are able to spend time and money focusing on say collecting even a digitized image of every little bit of all those cores, let alone an index tied to the image of every bit of analytical work done, for each core, on each successive layer.
Suppose you could go to any piece of data from the ocean core records and cross-check every other data file that had the same kind of chemical signature, or was from the same point in time, or had formed at a similar latitude or depth or temperature layer on the globe at a different time …
Look at one, but be able to find all related info worldwide, from something like this or a database with it:
I’ve also recently spent time in China, though my reasons were mycological rather than paleoceanographical. Those little electric scooters are obviously a good thing, but also a danger to pedestrians – you can’t hear them coming. And I was very impressed by the number of solar water heaters to be seen – on the tops of apartment buildings, even yak herders (turned matsutake harvesters) homes.
I was actually quite impressed by the availability of broadband internet in hotels. Most had broadband connections in every room – even if they weren’t always connected up….
But the Asian brown haze is an amazing and terrible thing. Even in the largely rural province I visited (Yunnan), there was significant (eye-watering) pollution around major cities. Cleaning that up is going to be no small task.
Hank, I didn’t say anything about sediment. Are you talking about Lake Baikal?
My point was that the discussions should go towards influencing policy makers (and/or the general public) and not quibbling about minutia with people that clearly think differently about the issues. It’s pointless.
I’ve been dealing with the PRC for over a decade. There is something in the Chinese / communist mentality which most Westerners fail to grasp. The value of human life / the human spirit is considered much lower than it is in Western cultures and isolated examples elsewhere in the world. In fact, there is a certain fatalism about physical life in the here and now. This leads to an overall destructive mentality. Certainly, the West had its moments in the past. But back in those days decades ago when we were the primary belchers of unmitigated filth, our population was much, much lower. There were large spaces between our cities and the impacted areas were actually pretty small. There is no precedent for what is going on in China now.
If we don’t China will eventually do it without us and it will be we who will end up buying those technologies from them. Our choice.
As you must know, China is on a coal power plant building frenzy, about 1 per week is opened I have read, using the most primitive technology available, and avoiding more advanced technology from Europe or the USA.
China is, and seems intent, on being the lowest cost producer in the world. So, get used to the brown haze.
Raplh, Gavin started the thread talking about the need for more discussion among the scientists who are working in “paleo-oceanography … the overwhelming focus on downcore records” and the need for them to talk. We agree I guess that we nonscientists should sit back and hope Gavin gets that conversation going.
Gavin, did any discussion of the content of Ward’s book “Under a Green Sky” come up at your meeting?
RE: #10 – The problem is, China is now addicted to coal. Most current installations burn high sulfur, soft coal. There is very little use of high quality, low sulfur hard anthracite. Due to the lack of air pollution control laws / any meaningful air basin authoritie / systemic monitoring, etc, both the state (i.e. power generation) and industry have exploited the situation. As you ride the ferry up into the Pearl River Delta, there are stacks upon stacks to the horizon and beyond. I have never seen any thing like this elsewhere – not in the old US rust belt, not in the UK midlands, not in the Ruhr.
There is now much talk of reducing coal based pollution in the PRC. I shall believe it when I see it.
Steve Sadlov, First, I don’t think it is fair to say that the Chinese, or the communists for that matter (for China is hardly communist in any meaningful sense) do not value life. China’s policy on almost everything is driven by two related factors–its massive population and its alarm at being so far behind the West (and particularly the US) technologically. The latter represents an external threat to the survival of the Chinese Oligarchy. The former represents an internal threat. China’s economy needs to grow at 8% per year just to keep up with the growth of the workforce–and a large cadre of unemployed (and likely sexually frustrated given the gender ratios) males is not a welcome prospect.
The Chinese will use whatever means they can to address these threats, and if that trashes the environment–well those threats will manifest further down the line. However, the crisis presents a considerable opportunity–we can try to facilitate making cleaner technologies available to the Chinese. The infrastructure they adopt will penalize or reward us for decades, and maybe centuries, to come.
I think it is insulting to say that the Chinese or any people for that matter do not value life. First, that is unknowable; and second it serves to alienate and isolate groups of people from others. I am sure Sadlov did not intend this, but it is easy to interpret it from phrases like “Chinese do not value human life as much as westerners do.” [It’s not adiret quote, I paraphrased a little.]
Gavin, I think you’ve highlighted some great points, both about the need for data synthesis and also the difficulties in obtaining them. There is frequently a tendency to underestimate the effort and resources required to take data from multiple sources and assemble them in a manner so that they are compatible (same time scale, same units, indicators presenting the same environmental parameter). Both PMIP and MARGO projects were multi-year (multi-decade in the case of PMIP?) projects involving many principle investigators. It seems to me, though, that there have been other recent data synthesis successes, although perhaps the majority have been centered in terrestrial data rather than the paleoceanographic community. I’m thinking of the drought data in the midcontinental USA; remarkable data compilations of Arctic temperature and vegetation changes for the last few millennia, the Holocene, and most recently the last interglacial – to name a few. There are always a few individuals who focus on synthesis, but it’s refreshing to hear that there is a developing, community-wide interest amongst paleoceanographers to create benchmark datasets.
Unless a Chinese Gorbachev comes around there soon, the entire world will fall victim to China’s big bag of lethal tricks. It is the most dangerous country in the world, and we should all refuse to go to the Olympics there. Send a message to China, the communists there, who do not value life, only their own.
[Response: Folks, this particular discussion is getting way off topic, so this will be the last such post we’ll allow If you want to discuss the politics, take that to some other site. Thanks. -mike]
John Norris, Try walking out of the Terra Cotta Army Museum and dealing with the hawkers outside, or walk through any Chinese market and you will find capitalism at its most raw. The “communism” in China is merely a useful fiction that perpetuates the myth of continuity and stability. There is nothing there now that Marx, Lennin, or even Mao would recognize.
RE: #19 – So, I’ll open my kimono a bit here. I am quite a mutt, in terms of ethnic background. Based on matrilineal descent I am Jewish, but am also a bit Chinese (father’s side). What I describe is not meant to offend. It is meant to bluntly shatter some of the notions that Westerners, who can easily fall under the spell of so called “oriental mystique” may entertain. This is especially common, I have noticed, with many of the Western business people who are currently quite obsessed with China. There is an understated brutality that is simply embedded in Chinese culture. To get somewhat of a sense of this, the Amy Tan books are actually not all that bad, believe it or not, particularly the sequences dealing with life prior to emigration to the US. Amy has clearly been very observant of her own family, Chinese friends and has also done her homework. Indeed, some of the things you’ve noted factor into why this is. Let me explore the statement about value of human life / value of human spirit a bit more. Some may commend the fact that Chinese society is less individualistic and more communitarian (this predates commun-ism by millennea) than most Western ones. Fair enough. But there is also a dark side (as with all things involving humans!).
Confucianism, combined with millennea of paternalistic, authoritarian social organizational priciples, have resulted in the issues with value of individuals that I have noted. If I were to portray a spectrum, with the purest Anglo-Saxon / English Common Law “human rights” culture at the left end and the purest Far Eastern top down, do as you are told culture at the right end, Chinese culture both pre and post Mao would certainly be much closer to the right end, and, realized 21st century Anglo Saxon ones closer to the left end. People who take human rights very seriously would likely render similar analysis. I make no deterministic value judgment. I simply report what I have learned from real life.
C’mon, John, the Chinese have communism like the USA have a republic.
Editing either their — or our — Constitution would be a distraction from the real work urgently needed, eh? World to save and all that.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a lady asked Dr. Franklin directly: “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”
“A republic if you can keep it” responded Franklin. http://www.bartleby.com/73/1593.html
Gavin, how about the scientists in your host country there — why were you meeting there, specifically? Hope to educate the politicians? New info not published outside China to discuss?
Generally, the closer life comes to carrying capacity, the less value it has and the more perilous life’s struggle becomes. We still burn coal with the same result: air polution, CO2 increases and mercury dumped in the seas fed back to us in tuna, where it biomagnifies. The result is the same no matter who does it.
So the extensive work done by surfacestations.com has shown, so far, that the GISS temperature record for the lower 48 (2 % of the world according to Hansen) is not significantly biased by UHI or microclimate issues. Great! Science works when skeptics arrive at the same result as proponents. However, the skeptics seem to have two points that I am still bothered by. One is why the NOAA record is so different than GISS especial when factoring the station classification. The other is the assertion that the GISS record for the ROW is derived differently and has more significant error sources than the US record. Since the ROW record is so important in climate modeling I would like to see some response to the “where’s waldo” posts on ClimateAudit
[Response: NOAA’s record is not particularly different from GISTEMP so there is nothing to explain. The ROW record is derived similarly to the US except for the rural/urban distinction which uses night lights in the US (which has been groundtruthed) but population in ROW which is the best that can be done at present. If you want to know where the global has been warming, look at the maps on the GISTEMP website (e.g. this one). The answer is all northern hemisphere land masses, Australia, India etc. etc.). – gavin]
In getting back into it, one appreciates just how much time is wasted dealing with the most ridiculous of issues (Hansen’s imagined endorsement of a paper he didn’t write thirty six years ago, the debunking of papers that even E&E won’t publish, and the non-impact of the current fad for amateur photography) at the expense of anything substantive. In effect, if possibly not in intention, this wastes a huge amount of people’s time and diverts attention from more significant issues (at least in the various sections of the blogosphere). Serious climate bloggers might all benefit from not getting too caught up in it, and keeping an closer eye on the bigger picture. We will continue to try and do so here.
Well put, but how do we do it? my guess is we have to start by simply not responding to a whole raft of trolls people who aren’t making the cut because they don’t change what they post even when answered, or even refuted.
Comment by Marion Delgado — 27 Sep 2007 @ 12:56 AM
I think Paulina is right.
An unnecessary-to-answer commenter is someone who keeps asking the same question after it’s been answered, or making the same point after it’s been refuted. If they are the original asker/pointmaker, TROLL: the process stops. No response whatsoever. If another commenter was the asker, pointmaker, UNINFORMED/REDIRECT: you say “asked and answered – link” or “already refuted – link” and no further answer. If they repeat the question or point anyway, go to TROLL.
China’s emissions may reduce sooner than we think due to depletion http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/5/13/105158/220. This somewhat contradicts assumptions of long term increasing coal use in the IPCC 4th report. The potential implications of this are enormous not only for emissions scenarios but global trade.
I am sure that the average professional climate scientists annual carbon footprint is somewhat larger for attending all of these global conferences several times pe annum even if one does take a vacation alongside it.
BAU seems to be necessary for everyone these days. I wonder if the message will ever truely get across to ordinary skeptical citizens of the need to dare I say it reduce carbon expenditure. The Tough choices people including scientists need to make are not becomming a reality, but maybe soon eh.
Comment by Florifulgurator — 27 Sep 2007 @ 4:50 AM
I found this comment of interest.
My second thought on China came from travelling through some of the most polluted cites in the world. Aerosol haze that appeared continuous from Beijing to Hong Kong is such an obvious sign of human industrial activity that it simply takes your breath away (literally). In places, even on a clear day, you cannot see the sun – even if there is no cloud in the sky.
This industrial activity blocks out the sun so why does removing this not result in more global warming? Why should this not even be enough to outweigh improvements in co2 output.
It is interesting to me that given a hundred years of industrialisation it is only now that we are starting to clean up our act with industry that global warming is becoming a significant problem. Perhaps the farmer who said to me, “If you don’t like shit keep away from nature, it loves the stuff.” unwittingly has the answer. Natural burn is dirty but post industrial man orientated burn is more efficient and therefore too clean.
Welcome back Gavin! You may be a bit overly optimistic about the practical opportunity to combine aerosol reductions with CO2 reductions. Its quite a bit cheaper to install end-of-pipe scrubbers for SOx and NOx than to make more fundamental changes to the energy system. Ironically, the push for clean air in China will likely speed up warming rather than help abate it.
[Response: Much of the problems in China come from small inefficient sources – small factories, cars etc. that are not likely to ever get scrubbing technology installed. However, I think you could envisage a replacement of those small sources with more efficient large sources with scrubbers + potential for sequestration that would address all problems at once. However, I’ve had some offline discussions with people that have worked on precisely those kinds of issues in China with little success, and so I’m more appreciative of how difficult getting things to actually happen is. This is definitely the challenge of the age. – gavin]
Comment by Zeke Hausfather — 27 Sep 2007 @ 8:15 AM
Instead, however, I will point to the work of an
amateur climate scientist. JohnV. You already
linked to his work seen on Rabbetts site.
In the matter of a couple days, JohnV developed, coded
and posted a unique approach to estimating the land
temperature record of the lower 48. Quite a piece of
work for an amateur. And it’s different
from the GISS approach.
Now, to the results. The chart you linked represent the
results from roughly 50 sites in the US. Sites that
have been surveyed, photographed and rated as class1
or class2. When you check the trend over the century
you’ll find these sites to be slightly cooler that the
trend in GISS.
The significance of the difference in
trend has not been assessed, but once the professional
statisticians get involved, we’ll report the results.
and the analysis code. Further, when we restricted the
analysis to sites that are rural, we saw larger differences, but the number of stations was rather low.
So, we await the complete audit before concluding
Finally, we have also compared the best sites (class1 and class2) with the worst sites,the class5s. Here too we saw a difference in Trend, with the class5s warming at a higher rate than the class1 and classs2. Again, the
final analysis with proper statistical documentation has not been completed, there are some geographical
differences in site distribution that need to be addressed. Again, when the full audit is done we would
expect the geographical distribution of good sites and bad sites to be more uniform than it is with the current subsample.
So, what you see is a work in progress with full and open documentation all the way along. In the end at the very least we will have this.
1. The historical network will have photo documentation. Just as the new CRN has photos. 50 years from now no one will have to wonder what the site in Orland looked like in 2007. Today we can only speculate what it looked like 50 years ago.
Second we’ll have a suite of open documented software tools for people to run the numbers and see for themselves. We appreciate that Dr. Hansen released the
code; however, no one has been to compile it successfully; I worked with a couple guys and they got
to step5 of the release. In the midst of that effort JohnV just struck out and did his own thing from scratch. Hopefully, we’ll get back to the NASA code and do a proper cross validation, or Reudy can get the code
from JohnVs site. It runs on Windows, so no Unix or AIX required.
[Response: John V. did what I suggested you (pl.) do. Take the description and raw data and do an independent analysis yourself. That fact that his analysis is very similar to GISTEMP is a validation of both approaches. This is the best kind of replication and if it’s simpler than what GISTEMP uses and runs on more platforms, kudos to him. His application to the photo gallery classifications is interesting too, demonstrating that only using the ‘best’ stations (per your definition) gives pretty much what we had anyway. Again, a conclusion, as I said, that was very likely. Feel free to carry on, just don’t make the claim that your efforts change anything of substance. – gavin]
It examines the fallacy in the “Global warming stopped in 1998!” cry of some deniers.
It may seem like overkill, but I would include the formula by which one calculates the linear trend. I might also consider pointing out that if one calculates the trend since say 1992, the rate at which temperatures have increased is actually higher than that for the preceding 15, but then briefly explain why this is not statistically significant in terms of red noise with a reference to Tamino’s post on the subject. However, I hope you won’t mind if I steal this idea later.
Looking at your page on Climate Sensitivity, I would include the analysis by Annan and Hargreaves. It is conspicuously absent – particularly since this is the best we have.
Here is the tech article:
Using multiple observationally-based constraints to estimate climate sensitivity
J. D. Annan and J. C. Hargreaves
Geophysical Research Letters 33, L06704, 2006
This is the figure and analysis (or rather 2.9C) which seems to be held in high respect by leading climatologists. And it has a great deal of paleoclimatological evidence in its favor, more than 400,000 years worth. He also has a reference to an analysis from the 1960s I believe which arrived at the same value back in the 1960s based upon an eruption.
If you want to get a feel for the brown cloud, take a look at a couple of Monet pictures of the Houses of Parliment Eastern european cities were exactly the same in the last part of this century
As to China, it has been the wild west as far for the past 15 years or so. As long as you paid the sheriff off (the Party), kept your head down and didn’t have anything anyone else wanted to steal, anything goes.
“Response: John V. did what I suggested you (pl.) do. Take the description and raw data and do an independent analysis yourself. That fact that his analysis is very similar to GISTEMP is a validation of both approaches. ”
Actually, you argued that the papers supplied enough detail to replicate the approach. They didnt and we have found several details in the code that are not documented in the papers. For example, how various data sources are given priority over others. Second, the limited results JohnV has produced “match” .. for some periods. So, would you conclude that we can extend his method to ROW? And, since we have found a difference in trend between GISS and the best stations would you conclude that Johns approach is valid? One chart that has not been posted is the following:
GISS using all all stations.
JohnV using all all stations.
Now, it is a very interesting chart. When we compare the Class1 and class2 sites ( the 50 we have) to All the GISS, we see a differences here and there. I would not conclude, as you seem to, that that constitutes a validation. So, I ran all 1221 sites through John’s Code. Then compared. Interesting chart that.
We also compared the best sites to the worst. Interesting chart as well, showing that class5 sites warmed more than class1&2. Valid?
“This is the best kind of replication and if it’s simpler than what GISTEMP uses and runs on more platforms, kudos to him. His application to the photo gallery classifications is interesting too, demonstrating that only using the ‘best’ stations (per your definition) gives pretty much what we had anyway.”
Actually, it is one form of replication. The simplest form is running GISSTEMP. For example, to see if there are any platform dependencies or irregularites. In One of our compiles we found a floating point difference that made one station record a month longer ( It had to do with a test for Less Than on a floating point calculation which in certain cases can be CPU compiler dependent)
Further, the definition of best stations is not “mine”. Dr Leroy developed the site ranking methodology. The methodology is being used to classify all of frances 550 stations. You can find references to his work at the WMO. His methodology was adopted by NOAA to rate CRN sites. In order to rank a site you basically need documentation ( photos) of the site characteristics. Is it shaded, are there artifical heating sources within 10M, 30M 100M. That’s one of the reasons we suggested that volunteers take tape measures on their surverys. So, the ranking of the sites is based on an accepted methodology developed by the WMO, used in France and currently in use in the CRN. So, it’s not “ours”. Finally, the preliminary study ( software is still alpha) showed a trend difference. So, is it
“pretty much” what you got. That is hard to say. Our trend was lower as we expected. However, the chart you linked combined both urban and rural, and we do no adjustments for urban. GISS adjusts the Urban sites to the rural neighbors with a 1000km radius. Further the sample is skewed heavily toward ASOS sites. 11 of the 17 class1 were at ASOS. So, we hesitate to say there is agreement and conclude that both approaches are valid and we hesitate to poud the table about the difference in trend we found.
“Feel free to carry on, just don’t make the claim that your efforts change anything of substance. ”
Well, that’s odd. You look at preliminary results, ignore the trend difference, and conclude that the results validate BOTH. But, if we carry on, and find something of note we have no rights to make a claim.
Here is what we do. Take the data, publish the code, publish results as we get them and let others draw conclusions.
So, if the results match you can say the code is validated. If the results don’t match you can say the code is not valid.
[Response: If independent analyses of the same raw data give the same result, then the sometimes arbitrary choices that go into different analyses don’t matter. If the analyses do differ in any substantive way (which in this case they don’t), then it’s worth looking deeper into it to find the sensitivity. So if you find something that makes a real difference, then we can pursue it. If a one month extra in one station is all you find, I think even you would admit the effort expended was not particularly cost-effective. – gavin]
BLP (41) I don’t know the truth about Tim Ball, but on your website, you start off by knocking his academic credentials. What has that to do with the facts, and are you more qualified to comment on climate change than a retired PhD and Geography Professor? You accuse him of cherry picking by doing exactly that yourself. You chose the NASA temperature record to show 2005 was warmer than 1998 (as does Al Gore), while the IPCC ‘scientific concensus’ shows 1998 as the warmest. Does IPCC represent the scientific consensus or not? Or is it OK to pick which bits you want? And using the term ‘deniers’ simply demonstrates that faith is more important to you than science.
I think one issue the nit pickers have with Tamino’s analyis of trend since 1975 is
the subjective selection of the period. To be sure it appears to be a change in regimes.
In fact, you’ll find me on CA making a similiarly misguided assumption.
So first a cite that I am plowing through as I get time.
The issue is Tamino looked at the data and said ” its natural to see ” and then
he sketched out three regimes the last starting in 1975.
Regime changes in time series that have red noise need more attention to method
than this appeal to naturalness, perhaps. I’ll stand corrected if a professional
time series analysis guy can explain how regime shifts in a time series
can be skillfully ,reliably and naturally detected by eye with 95% confidence.
Imagine if you would some skeptic who did trend analysis from 1998 to present.
Imagine if I picked the last two years and fit a line to them.
Perform a test for regime change in a time series and you have some footing.
RE: #46 – In the Pearl River Delta, the air pollution is so severe that the frequent northerly winds blow the effluent south into Hong Kong. Hong Kong was never pristine, at least not since the mid 1900s. However, it has taken a major turn for the worse in terms of air quality. Respiratory diseases are proliferating. Many of my friends who live there have the equivalent of a chronic smoker’s hack although they are non smokers. Getting expats to live in HK has become difficult – they do not want to expose their families to the air. Some commute from places like Australia and Singapore. That is a long commute but doable leaving work mid day Friday and returning late Sunday night. 20 years ago, Hong Kong was considered a choice expact location, even 10 years ago it was considered pretty good.
And we should all remember that a chunk of China’s pollution and GHGs are involved in their manufacturing products for US. Soooo, in my thinking it’s our pollution (that portion generated by products for us), not theirs.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 27 Sep 2007 @ 11:37 AM
I really hope you’ll stick to your guns and ignore the “noise”, including the “noise” in the comments section. Less time rebutting old arguments long dealt with, more time exploring new knowledge.
Is open ocean, (or ocean with fragmented ice for that matter), perhaps a better vehicle for transforming wind, wave, or tidal energy into heat than, say, ordinary solid ice pack?
Comment by Stephen Pranulis — 27 Sep 2007 @ 12:07 PM
Open Ocean and Arctic Ice. (see my previous post) I am sure that I am be-laboring the obvious by suggesting that this might explain the unexpectedly rapid diminution of Arctic ice, and it might be an accelerator of climate change worthy of note.
Comment by Stephen Pranulis — 27 Sep 2007 @ 12:31 PM
RE: #55 and #56. An open ocean is a more active ocean. Wind fetch directly affects the liquid, currents, as a result, can be stronger and more easily changeable. Therefore, as a result, from and energy tranfer standpoint, open water means tighter and faster reacting coupling between atmosphere and ocean. From a energy flux standpoint, flows are bidirectional. Mainly, I would anticipate great flow rates in both directions, and, as a result, more drastic, faster and more extreme interactions between atmosphere and ocean. No one know for sure what all the second order effects are, or what they might be in the future. Some of them may be expected and seemingly intuitive, over both short and long time frames, some may be unexpected and counterintuitive. Both may be going on simultaneously depending on synoptic conditions versus location. Climatic seasonality may become more pronounced in some places and dulled in others. The world could end up, at the extremes, either like the one depicted in the film “AI” or, like a much slower evolving “Day After Tomorrow” one, or, (and probably more likely) something different but not at either such extreme.
PHE: take any of the various temperature datasets (I don’t care if 1998 or 2005 is the highest). Now, take any running mean you want: 3 years, 4 years, 5 years, whatever. Do you see a continuing temperature trend?
Effectively, one anomalous year does not a trend make (in either direction). There is a physical reason that 1998 was extremely warm: a strong el Nino shifting heat out of the ocean into the atmosphere. So if you have a long term trend, you occasionally get such events (el Nino in ’98, Pinatubo in the other direction in ’92).
The misuse of such basic statistics is some choose to label people like Tim Ball as “deniers” because “skeptic” gives them too much credit. There are uncertainties and tradeoffs in both climate science and policy discussions where legitimate disagreements could exist, but the “world hasn’t warmed since ’98” argument is not one of those.
re: 49. A very simple search here on RC (and on other sites) would tell you that the difference between the two years is statistically insignificant. We know that 1998 had an exceptional El Nino which served to warm the global average even higher. Along comes 2005 and it is just as warm, without the extra El Nino affects. We also know that if one includes Antartic data or not, it makes one data set very slightly but not significantly warmer than the other. For goodness sake, read and learn and stop cherry-picking.
A correction: In my last post, I wrote “Antarctic” when I meant “Arctic”. In any event, read the points made re: 1998 and 2005 global temperatures in http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/1934-and-all-that/. The small difference changes nothing. The denialists clamoring is just another in the long list of their anti-science, failed attempts to spread disinformation; move along. ;-)
I think one issue the nit pickers have with Tamino’s analyis of trend since 1975 is
the subjective selection of the period. To be sure it appears to be a change in regimes.
In fact, you’ll find me on CA making a similiarly misguided assumption.
Actually Tamino’s most recent analysis which involves the presence of red noise in the global average temperature trend would seem to suggest that whatever variation has existed in the rate of temperature rise since 1979 has not been statistically significant. Although for rhetorical purposes, it might be nice to be able to say that it has accelerated, obviously it is preferable that it has not – for practical reasons. Moreover, given the near logarithmic relationship between temperature and CO2 concentration and the near exponential rise in CO2 over time, it makes more sense that the rate of temperature increase would be roughly constant. Personally the last these matters more to me that the first two: I prefer a world that makes sense.
As for picking two years…
How many data points would you have? What statistical significance would this imply? Statistics is one of the tools we make recourse to in order to avoid “by-eye” subjective judgments or impressions – to the extent that this is possible.
Re: #53: Lynn. I think about that all the time. China is becoming the factory to the world. Imagine what our GHG emissions would be if we made all our products here. But it’s not only China anymore. We’ve exported a good portion of our manufacturing to many different countries. Kind of sad that we’ve reduced our economy to one of servicing things made elsewhere.
On the other hand, I read yesterday that we could power our entire country with the energy off 92 sq. miles of solar panels. Obviously we wouldn’t want them all in one location, but it seems we could be off fossil fuels in a matter of a few years, if we made it a priority.
Re Dan (60) “read and learn and stop cherry-picking”. Perfect advice for anyone following the climate change debate. I would add: make sure you know why you take a certain viewpoint. It should be because you have assessed and understood the arguments and evidence yourself and not through following the headlines or ‘consensus’.
If China keeps putting out aerosols, the soot and sulfate will precipitate onto polar ice, cause melting, and runaway global warming.
If China stops putting out aerosols, then our atmospheric warming will intensify, causing runaway global warming.
OK! What is the best policy to steer between these two threats?
Re: #66: You have said pretty much word for word what the owner of a local auto repair shop said recently when I explained the aerosol issue to him. His conclusion: we’ve had it either way, so why change what we’re doing!
Since then, I saw “Dimming the Sun” on PBS. Dr. Hansen was interviewed at the end, and made it clear that regardless of the aerosol issue, we have to cut back drastically on the burning of fossil fuels within the next 9 yrs, or global warming will possibly spiral out of control. I trust his judgment. I’ve cut my CO2 emissions by 66%, to about 8 tons/yr. I think most people can do likewise, with readily available technology. Additional cuts are possible when solar panel costs come down a bit. That should happen in the next few years.
As for China, they’ve got some serious work to do. They’d better do it fast, or we’re in a heap of trouble.
Re the Nature Paper: So west Pacific convection strength may control the Atlantic Meridional Overturning circulation? Could this explain why the west Pacific and Atlantic tropical cyclone active periods seem to work opposite one another? This seems a ripe issue to discuss regarding AGW and tropical cyclones.
Re: 55,56, 57 With apologies for this divergence from the original thread about China.. What my earlier posts were trying to articulate was the speculation that ocean, freed of ice, would facilitate the transfer of wind energy to waves, which, upon reaching the ice mass, would cause ice pieces to smash into each other, causing some immediate local melting. The melt water thus formed would, I think, immediately mix with turbulent,saline, lower-MP sea water and be thereby hindered from easily refreezing. I’m just trying to come up with an explanation for what I understand to be the unexpectedly rapid loss of an unexpectedly large amount of the Arctic ice cap this year….
Comment by Stephen Pranulis — 27 Sep 2007 @ 5:48 PM
Comment by David B. Benson — 27 Sep 2007 @ 6:16 PM
While nothing new really, it does give Denial another nudge. The developing world is not going to turn around any time soon, so this is confirmation of a trend we will see more of. As Ive noted previously with Greenland and WAIS holding enough water for 15m sea level rise, loss of just 10% of that will see places like Bangladesh and the great river delta communities in deep trouble. So:-
*NASA Finds Greenland Snow Melting Hit Record High in High Places*
A new NASA-supported study reports that 2007 marked an overall rise in the melting trend over the entire Greenland ice sheet and, remarkably, melting in high-altitude areas was greater than ever at 150 percent more than average.
*Remarkable Drop in Arctic Sea Ice Raises Questions*
Melting Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a 29-year low, significantly below the minimum set in 2005, according to preliminary figures from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, part of the University of Colorado at Boulder. NASA scientists, who have been observing the declining Arctic sea ice cover since the earliest measurements in 1979, are working to understand this sudden speed-up of sea ice decline and what it means for the future of Earth’s northern polar region.
re: 65. It also helps to know what the scientific process and method is all about. It appears most denialists do not understand or follow either. Nor do they understand that the scientific method is a solid cornerstone of science. It is through peer review and consensus that science proceeds.
RE: #69 – Simple. Higher than normal SSTs plus a slight positive air temperature anomaly, both at the same time in the area near the international date line (Chukchi and East Siberian Seas). It tracks the temp anomalies perfectly. The anomalous region is where the open water showed up during high summer.
I am thrilled, gratified, dancing-around-the-office-chair overjoyed with Gavin’s closing comment about getting too tied up in nonsense-wad badminton (denialist-rebuttal). The next time a shill pops up in the corporate media (probably in another 15 minutes) with a tattered, thrice-recycled (at least – do you ever wash that thing, dude?) talking-point, it should be enough to merely point out the person’s track record, something along the lines of: “Apparently, the source of this surprisingly-crude piece of disinformation is one of those unfathomable nihilistic empty suits who has been up to no good (specifically, the exact same public-relations flavor of psuedo-scientific no-good) since the days of big legal problems for the tobacco companies. Nobody ever has, or ever will, figure out what drives people after they’ve lost the last discernible trace of humanity or intelligence. Going around literally blowing smoke, wasting everyone’s time. It’s worth taking care not to enable these psychopaths (see Kurt Vonnegut’s thoughts on the issue of corporate psychopathology, which is neither funny nor hyperbole) with too serious or hasty a response to fools.
Thanks so much for that thought, Gavin. You folks (all of you) have such awesome resources of training and talent. Scientifically, the issues at hand, and the very synthesis you say is often professionally discouraged, are so intellectually absorbing (to say nothing of their obvious importance for humanity’s future), so deeply fascinating, that there comes a time to really wise up and not squander bandwidth in the service of Newspeak-rebuttal. Hold onto that thought, please! We desperately need people like you to stay focused through this thing, whatever the heck this thing is turning into.
Whew! Now let me catch my breath… I think there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere than there used to be or something. It’s harder to catch my breath. (I must allow the possibility, however unimaginably miniscule it may be, that changes I notice in my own physiology are primarily due to old age. (Incidentally, sorry about all the paretheses; and the semicolons; I’m trying to learn how to write properly.))
Comment by Daniel C. Goodwin — 27 Sep 2007 @ 10:37 PM
#69& 73… Observations from up here are astonishing, calm sea waters not freezing with -12 C surface temperatures (it warmed up since) around Islands with new snow and frozen lakes (just frozen a few days back). Near Resolute (Canada) sea surface is just above 0 C. With steep surface based adiabatic lapse rates at times (10 C/km), and no surface based inversions. But I really saw the dawn of a new arctic age (you can see this on my website), with spherical and very early sunsets seen whenever the cloud cover is scarce ( given from all this open water), sounds funny but spherical sunsets are extremely rare here. There are big Polar related issues that need be discussed on RC, hope there will be a link dedicated for this soon. BTW, I believe the NE passage just opened, and the dynamics of arctic ocean ice recovery may be severely impaired by the lack of sea ice cover, past Baffin Bay yearly freeze ups may be the model for the wide open arctic ocean.
[[ I would add: make sure you know why you take a certain viewpoint. It should be because you have assessed and understood the arguments and evidence yourself and not through following the headlines or ‘consensus’.]]
The scientific consensus is part of how modern science is done, PHE. It’s perfectly rational for someone who is not a climate expert to listen to professional climatologists. The consensus has been wrong in the past, but not as often as pseudoscientists have been wrong. The smart way to bet is always on the scientific consensus.
I, personally, got into this debate because I was interested in habitable planet astronomy and wanted to use climate models to predict the surface temperatures of habitable planets. The remark that “faith is more important to [me] than science” is quite correct; I’m a born-again Christian and my faith in Jesus Christ is of paramount importance to me. But I don’t believe in global warming on faith. I believe in it because I understand how the greenhouse effect works.
If you’re responding to my post in #75, you’ll have to be a more direct. I’m a little slow.
I realize there is more CO2 in the atmosphere. I also realize that the claimed emission altitude is roughly 6 km. The argument appears to be something to the effect, based on models provided elsewhere on this site, that more CO2 will raise the emission altitude to colder heights, decrease emission, and cause cooling.
In light of that argument, it does appear pertinent to ask for clarification on the altitude, since it seems to be pretty important to the argument.
I have also read that the stratosphere contains CO2. I’d like to know if this particular batch of climate scientists believes the stratosphere to be in local thermal equilibrium. Since the general concensus appears to be that atmospheres in LTE emit radiation purely as a function of temperature, without regard to pressure, it is important to know whether or not the stratosphere meets LTE conditions.
I’m assuming the response will be that the stratosphere does not meet LTE. If it did, then we could expect that where the stratosphere T crosses 255 K, on its way to even higher T, the downward radiation in this model should cancel the upward radiation from 6 km, and none of it actually goes to space.
I realize that many people are more than happy to simply appeal to authority and fall down in praise before the altar, but sometimes you learn a little more if you think for yourself, even if you turn out to be incorrect. If Gavin and others have no time for silly questions, then why bother with this site at all? They should expect that the general person posting has less knowledge than they do. It is natural for those with less knowledge to question aspects that don’t appear to make sense. You have the choice of clearing those up or not.
I’m sure six is an average. Stefan’s Law depends on the fourth power of T, and T more or less declines linearly through the troposphere. I’d like more of an idea of the range covered.
I have a strong suspicion that the choice of 6 km has more to do with a black body radiation calculation for temperature than it has to do with measurement. I’d like to point out that in addition to the stratosphere crossing 255K, it happens a few more times higher up.
I am looking for a convincing justification for choosing the troposheric temperature crossing as opposed to any of the others. If the stratosphere is in LTE, then I could use an identical argument to those presented on this site to claim that raising CO2 will increase the altitude of emission, go to a higher T, and cause cooling instead of warming.
THis may sound silly to you, and others, but this type of reasoning is sometimes quite convincing to members of the general public who don’t know what to think and have no background. These are precisely the people you need to reach, and many of them are just as easily convinced by someone else.
If this turns into a fairly complicated explanation without a quick answer, then I’m not terribly happy with being fed a quick answer by models on this site. If the answer is quick, easy, and obvious, then I just turn out to be wrong, no harm done.
National Geophysical Data Center … database (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/curator/), providing online access to data and information about sea floor and lakebed samples curated by the participating repositories ….
NGDC will report on the NOAA Climate Data Modernization Program project L-19 to digitize and make available online data and photographs from the collections of several of the participating institutions.
October 5, 2007, … Mr. Kuiying Chen of the Chinese National Marine Data and Information Service, National Oceanographic Data Center, Professor Fuyuan Zhang from the China Second Institute of Oceanography, and Dr. Xiaoyu Zhange from the Department of Geosciences of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. Mr. Chen and colleagues will be meeting with NGDC staff and Dr. Chris Jenkins of the University of Colorado Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research to discuss deep-sea sediment classification. Following their visit to NGDC, the group will meet with Dr. Peter Blum of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program in College Station, TX and Ms. Ramona Lotti and Dr. William Ryan at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.
(Carla.J.Moore@noaa.gov or 303-497-6339)
[Response: Well, ocean drilling produces a lot more information than simply climate data and all of these efforts go some way towards helping bring it together. But in the climate realm, bringing together different cores on consistent time scales is hugely time-consuming at the moment and so is rarely done (Liesicki and Raymo 2005 is a good example; they only used 57 records – out of the hundreds that should be available – and it took years to do). It seems to me that a step change in how the data is handled will be required before ‘synthesis’ can become routine. In conversation yesterday, I was reminded of how similar this is to what happened in physical oceanography when Levitus started his climatology project (now the most cited work in the whole field). Anyway, I will be writing more about this and I’ll try and flesh out my thoughts more clearly soon. – gavin]
REf. 72 “. It is through peer review and consensus that science proceeds.” It might be worthwhile noting that the original letter to Nature on the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick was NOT peer reviewed. I remember reading it at the time. Two quotes “The tragedy of science; an elegant theory slain by an ugly fact” Thomas Huxley. “Dust for oblivion! To the solid ground
Of nature trusts the Mind that builds for aye;
Convinced that there, there only, she can lay
Secure foundations.” William Wordsworth.
Right on. We climate science / policy bloggers need to step back and breathe once in a while rather than, say, waste our energy fighting with a clearly flawed paper not even in-review suggesting something that the entire community knows is wrong and in turn giving said paper un-warranted attention. Let’s keep our eye on the ball here.
An interesting an informative post. Thanks,Gavin. You say:
“In getting back into it(the climate blogs), one appreciates just how much time is wasted dealing with the most ridiculous of issues (Hansen’s imagined endorsement of a paper he didn’t write thirty six years ago, the debunking of papers that even E&E won’t publish, and the non-impact of the current fad for amateur photography) at the expense of anything substantive. In effect, if possibly not in intention, this wastes a huge amount of people’s time and diverts attention from more significant issues (at least in the various sections of the blogosphere). Serious climate bloggers might all benefit from not getting too caught up in it, and keeping an closer eye on the bigger picture……”
Great advice! A word to the wise, and not so wise should be sufficient. The time for debate has past.It’s past time for action.In fact the science has been in for over a decade, but the nitpicking goes on. You can’t convince everyone. There may even be some flat earthers out there. There’s an old joke about the man who says he never votes because it only encourages them. In a more real sense, by trying to respond to every piece of endless horsecrap that comes along may only motivate some of the more perverse, among skeptics.
We’ve had a steady, magnetic obsession here on RC with the ice melt this summer. No matter the subject of the thread, we turn around and *bingo* Ice Melt! Was the melt really all that much different that we should hear these cries of concern or was it simply a novelty and we should understand that there’s still lots and lots of ice left?
Re #86: “It might be worthwhile noting that the original letter to Nature on the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick was NOT peer reviewed.”
Informal letters do not require peer review. Formal publication of research does. Often, the informal letter is simply an announcement which precedes formal publication — a means of documenting your discovery before someone else beats you to publication and bags the credit.
This speaks to action (cf. #89), Socolow & Pacala and the issue of solutions: China is at least trying… hard. See Reuters, Sept. 21, 2007: in China “the industry is still booming. Most analysts think Beijing’s target of 30 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity by 2020 is too modest, as China is already nearing its 2010 goal”. That is impressive and shows that China is serious about this — but with 1.3 billion people to support, its problems are an order of magnitude more difficult than those of developed nations. Reuters Vestas article P.S. I’m with Ray on China.
Do not stop there. Dig a bit deeper and convince yourself if the cries of concern are valid and, to some, maybe inconvenient.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 28 Sep 2007 @ 12:21 PM
You misrepresent my comments. You wrote:
“If independent analyses of the same raw data give the same result, then the sometimes arbitrary choices that go into different analyses don’t matter. ”
Actually, we dont get the same result. We show a difference in tend between class1 and class2 sites
and class5. The difference is in the tenths of degrees. Further, The analysis actually used DIFERRENT
raw data. Now, in Rabbets rush to say ” nothing here” and your rush to say “nothing here” neither
of you checked JohnVs work. In fact, in the midst of his work GISS change the data files that it used
a fact documented on GISS web site. Now, JohnV , ClaytonB and I have not jumped to conclusions about
validity or any such thing. I found it interesting that both you and Rabbet did without reading
JohnVs description of the code and the data. http://www.opentemp.org. In All fairness to you you probably
just linked rabbetts post with reading the entire context on CA and the studies that have been
conducted since then.
“If the analyses do differ in any substantive way (which in this case they don’t), then it’s worth looking deeper into it to find the sensitivity.”
Actually they do differ substantially depending on the time period you use or the classification scheme.
For, example when we use class5 sites we get noticeable differences throughout many time regimes.
“So if you find something that makes a real difference, then we can pursue it. If a one month extra in one station is all you find, I think even you would admit the effort expended was not particularly cost-effective. – gavin]”
The one “extra month” issue was merely an explaination of the type of bug that we encountered in
compling the program. It’s actually not a bug, just an example of why having an independent
team run your code is a good idea.
Further the issue is not cost effectiveness. No one pays us to make mistakes
or find them. Amateurs. Consider us to be like those amateur astronomers who worked in collaboration
with NASA. What we have been committed to is open inquiry open science open source and posting results
come hell or high water. We have no funding, but we are having fun.
Now, What do I expect to find. Our current working estimate of the difference between the best sites
and the worst sites is something on the order of .3C in a century trend. Since only 15% of the sites
are class5 you can see that in all likely hood we would not predict major changes to the US record.
But that is not the issue for us. In its adjustment of Temperature records the USHCN make a +.05F
adjustment for the introduction of the MMTS system at selected stations. That’s fine. We like that
attention to detail. So, if we identity a warming bias in class5 or class4 stations we would expect responsible scientists to consider removing these sites ( say 15% of 1221) from the calculations.
[Response: Time is unfortunately money, and in using the phrase ‘cost-effective’ I’m describing the the time involved that necessarily precludes doing things that are going to be more of an effective use of your time (or mine in dealing with your comments). The big picture is not whether you can see a difference in raw data compilations of CRN1 or CRN5, but whether it makes any difference to the structure or trends in the regional or global picture. It doesn’t (so far). If it ever does, let me know. – gavin]
Ref 91 “Informal letters do not require peer review.” Now you have lost me. I have always believed that scientific documents were valid because the science they contained was valid; not because they were peer reviewed and a scientific consensus had been agreed. Now there seem to be different sorts of scientific papers. There are those that have been peer reviewed and a scientific consensus has emerged, and no-one is allowed to disagree with them. Then there are paperes which have not been peer reviewed, like Watson and Crick, but their science can be valid because they are informal. But there are other papers which have not been peer reviewed, such as Dr. Manuel’s hypothesis about the solar system being the remnants of a supernova, which are not valid because they have not been peer reviewed. How do we know which documents are only valid if they have been peer reviewed, and which can be valid even though they have not been peer reviewed?
Re #84, It’s not temperature and its effect on emissions that is key here it’s the dramatically reduced number density and its effect on the probability of an emitted photon encountering another absorber before leaving the atmosphere (think mean free path). Also the probability of losing energy to collision partners before emission is reduced.
By the way Gavin did you notice how many trees they are planting in Beijing? When I was there early this summer they were planting them everywhere, must have been in the millions!
Regarding #90, the reduction in the Arctic Sea Ice had been progressing at about 100,000 sq km/year (september value), this year it dropped by over 1,000,000 sq km or a decade’s worth in one year! Why wouldn’t that get our attention? Maybe this winter it will all return to normal but there are good reasons to doubt that
Re# 86, 91, 95: While Watson and Crick’s letter to Nature was not peer-reviewed, due to what the editor perceived as exceptional circumstances (see Nature 2003, vol 426, p. 119), current editorial practice is that letters in that journal are peer-reviewed.
“A Letter reports an important novel research study, but is less substantial than an Article. . . . Letters are peer reviewed.”
Oh, well! I also think Gavin makes a good point in trying to limit irrelevant (even if interesting) posts and discussions to make room for relevant science. And I might have been carried away a time or two and been a guilty party. But you guys who are just beside yourselves, unable to contain your exuberance, dancing and shouting, ‘the wicked witch is dead‘, and expecting that skeptics and “deniers” will never ever be allowed to speak again are just too much. Not to mention taking a large portion of this thread for irrelevant stuff.
Ref 96 “Regarding #90, the reduction in the Arctic Sea Ice had been progressing at about 100,000 sq km/year (september value), this year it dropped by over 1,000,000 sq km or a decade’s worth in one year! Why wouldn’t that get our attention? Maybe this winter it will all return to normal but there are good reasons to doubt that” Let us get the facts right. Each year approximately 9 million sq kms of ice melt. Each year approximately 9 million sq kms refreeze. Since measurements started in 1979, approximately 35,000 sq kms extra ice has melted each year, and approximately 35,000 sq kms of ice has failed to refreeze, for a net loss of about 70,000 sq kms each year. This year about 10 million sq kms melted compared with 9 million normally. My bet is that within 10 years, sea ice in the arctic will be back to, say, 1985 levels.
Whoa, fellas! I’m a confirmed AGW believer and cautioner. Even unto despair over global inaction. My observation and question were just that. Commenters have harped on the melting to an almost alarming degree. A ten fold increase in the rate of melt as Phil Felton has pointed out is the definition of an order of magnitude increase.
I’d been reading the recent Hansen paper (“Climate change and trace gases”) in which he talks about the time necessary for significant melt. I’d always assumed that the span would be centuries, but he wouldn’t rule out decades. (“It is difficult to predict time of collapse in such a nonlinear problem, but we find no evidence of millennial lags between forcing and ice sheet response in palaeoclimate data. An ice sheet response time of centuries seems probable, and we cannot rule out large changes on decadal time-scales once wide-scale surface melt is underway.”) Publication of that was in May before this summer’s news.
My observation and question were intended to focus commenters concerns beyond a recitation of the immediate effects.
RE: wayne davidson Says: 28 September 2007 at 12:59 AM
I agree that this years Arctic Sea ice summer melt has been pretty memorable and, at least based on what we can interpret from the satellite record since 1979, certainly a record for the past 28 years. However, when you say:
“Observations from up here are astonishing, calm sea waters not freezing with -12 C surface temperatures”
RE #64, and I read solar & wind are beginning to become competitive with coal. And those many sq miles of solar could also include our roofs (which would help give extra insulation/shade for our homes, at least in sunny, hot areas).
Ah, just in the spirit of getting back to the original topic of the post, the emphasis on downcore records probably has a lot to do with how difficult is to get a deep sea sediment core, which involves renting an oil drilling ship (which is expensive), and then processing the core, which is time-consuming.
“Relative to today, the Pliocene warm period (3-5 million years ago) was characterized by: 3C higher global surface temperatures, 10–20m higher sea level, enhanced thermohaline circulation, slightly reduced Antarctic ice sheets, emerging but small Northern Hemisphere ice coverage, and slightly (30%) higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.”
So, that shows why paleo studies are valuable – it gives you some idea of what conditions were like in the past, but you can’t just say that a 3C rise in surface temperatures would immediately flood the world with a 10-20 meter rise in sea level, because you can’t tell from looking at a multi-million year old sediment core (with tick marks measured in 1000’s of years, at least) how fast such transitions occurred.
“To test hypotheses that explain the end of the warm period, we compare distant palaeoceanographic records to examine tropical– extratropical interactions. This analysis results in the fundamental conclusion that major long-term cooling steps in different regions (for example, intensification of NHG (Northern hemisphere glaciation), reorganization of tropical circulation) did not all occur at the same time. Thus, regionally specific processes caused cooling phases at different times, and the end of the warm period was not forced by a single episodic event whose effects propagated globally.”
One take-home message here is that overly simplistic attempts to predict how the climate will respond are essentially useless. Here are the conclusions from Ravelo et. al regarding climate change. (The first point seems to be an example of what is happening in the Arctic right now, only it’s warming, not cooling)
“Implications for understanding climate change:
Several lessons can be drawn from the comparison of Plio-Pleistocene climate change records from distant locations.
*First, although changes in forcing were gradual, strong regional nonlinear responses generated pronounced regional climate changes including the onset of significant NHG.
*Second, the ventilated thermocline and/or latitudinal temperature gradient may have played an important role in linking subtropical conditions to change in other regions.
*Finally, tropical and subtropical conditions, specifically the time-averaged strength of coldwater upwelling in the eastern Pacific, and of Walker circulation, had a strong influence on the climate response to radiative changes.
Thus, the last 4Myr illustrates that as globally average conditions change, so do the feedbacks or ‘rules’ that determine climate sensitivity. This conclusion is relevant to studies of future global warming because it emphasizes the importance of ‘background’ or average tropical conditions in predicting high-frequency climate change. Furthermore, understanding processes responsible for recent climate change of the last hundreds or thousands of years, when average background conditions changed very little, is unlikely to be sufficient to predict climate variability for periods with different globally averaged conditions. This highlights the importance of developing theory to explain ocean and atmospheric change, and testing that theory using records from geologic time periods that represent a large dynamic range of climate conditions.”
Steve Sadlov, there is no point trying to minimize this year’s Arctic ice melting, which it appears you’re trying to do here, as you did on Tamino’s blog.
It is by all means astonishing. From satellites’ observations to research ships reports, to comparison with the oral traditions of local populations, it is obvious that this is an extremely unusual event. If one wonders what a tipping point might look like, this seems to be a good candidate. Your comments sound like you’re trying to say that it’s not all that bad. The cap is missing a chunk as big as Alaska (give or take, who cares). The Northwest and Northeast passages are completely irrelevant considering the huge missing piece of ice in the middle of the Arctic Ocean . You can try to nitpick a little detail here or there, so what?
Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 28 Sep 2007 @ 5:49 PM
Since you bring up the subject of peer review in science, we should emphasize that all peer review says is that the work appears correct and sufficiently interesting to a group of responsible experts that they deem it worthy of consideration by the wider community. The judgement on the work is whether the entire community of experts reaches a consensus that it is correct and valuable.
Steve Sadlov in #102 scratched his head about Wayne Davidson and queried the reliability of his observations. Well here’s your man, Wayne Davidson, resident of Resolute Bay, Nunavut Canada, and here’s evidence of the quality of his observations: http://www.eh2r.com/
Regarding the NE passage, the blockage Steve refers to is ~50% and from the images I’ve been watching even that may disappear in the next day or so.
And Davidson is reporting contrary to the Nunavut hierarchy. They rely on hunting polar bears. Or should I say selling hunts to prominent Texans? I will because they do. Naturally, they deny global warming and polar bear peril overall. What a shocker! Sadlov sees what he wants from Santa Maria. Have some tri-tip and look further out.
I’d suggest a need for scientific granting bodies to fund interdisciplinary think-tank research in addition to narrow focii. If the mandate is to maximize 21st century person-years, minimize economic costs, or drop GHG levels ASAP, there should be no political interference once initial funding is provided. Bringing together 3rd world researchers might be cheapest and least-biased.
Dr. Schmidt, when is the first time you heard the term Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum? Does it seem plausible that perhaps this term has been created more to drum up research dollars than to convey real scientific meaning? Many readers may be interested to learn that the available deep ocean proxy record (oxygen isotopes) suggests that ice sheets in the Antarctic have generally been on the increase for the last 50 million years, with the notable exception being the Lower and Middle Miocene (12-24 million years ago. Readers might also be surprised to learn that the first bonafide evidence for the appearance of the East Antarctic ice sheet was during the Lower/Middle Eocene, about 49 million years ago, and very near the peak of the oxygen isotope depletion from the proxy record. Beginning at the K-T boundary, all the way up through Lower Oligocene, global sea levels averaged 100-200 meters higher than present. The proxy record convincingly points to a slow cooling trend for most of the last 50 million years!
If the climate community seeks another interesting climate, consider what I would dub the the Middle-Upper Miocene Shift (MUMS), 11 million years ago. Sounds worthy of research dollars, no? The Northern Hemisphere ice sheet had not yet emerged, yet the isotopes suggest dramatic increases in the growth of the Antarctic ice sheet, especially the West Antarctic ice sheet(supported by rock record). Notwithstanding the lack of NH ice, sea levels averaged about about where they are today, with some notable dramatic negative spikes about 8-10 mya, when sea levels dropped 20-100 meters below present levels(Mitchum et al., 1994). Moreover, the Upper Miocene deep ocean proxy record is punctuated by numerous small peaks, but no overall trend toward depletion or enrichment. Now forward to the Early Pliocene (Zanclean). There is a big highstand of sea level (50-100 meters higher than present), while at the same time, the first appearance of the NH ice sheet. Since then, there have been rapid succesions of glacial/interglacials, but mostly dominated by glaciation, and big lowstands of sea level. The isotope proxy follows, but shows an overall trend toward expanding ice sheets in the long run. So why this earth history lesson?
Here is an observation which hopefully spurs deep thought and further investigation: Integration of the sequence stratigraphic record (invented by some company called Exxon) and the proxy records suggests that regional polar climates dominate over bi-polar or global average climates. Melting ice in the NH can be (maybe the rule) taken up by increases in the SH, so that the direction and magnitude of sea level change is not straightforward or driven by a global mean climate or temperature. The take home message is that although we may have some more to go on the short term warming and sea level rise, the long term forecast is for ice, despite the human disturbance to the climate system. Our perturbation of the system, while signficant in many ways, in the long term is small and rapid compared to plate tectonics, the evolution of landforms, biota, biogeochemical changes, ocean overturning circulation, supervolcanoes, etc.
[Response: The PETM was coined around 2002 when the various official arbiters of the geological time scale defined this peak as the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. Prior to that it was called the Late (or Latest) Paleocene Thermal Maximum, and I think was first described by Kennett and Stott in 1991. The reason for it’s prominence is because of it’s intrinsic interest – the largest spike in d13C in the Cenozoic, the correlation with mammalian expansion, significant benthic extinction event etc. and also because the hypotheses for it’s occurrence (large inputs of carbon into the system, possibly from methane hydrates) does have implications for our current situation. For instance, how long does it take for sediments to fully absorb anomalous carbon? (about 100,000 years if the PETM is any guide).
Other periods in pre-quaternary climates are of interest as well, but it’s important to realise that you need not only an interesting event or period, but also a good hypothesis that can be tested tractably with current models – much of deeper time questions are not, and that limits their relevance for decadal to centennial climate changes in the future – and that is where most of the climate change money is. Various groups are pushing for a greater focus on the Pliocene (with some success) and the Eocene has always been in vogue (as a ‘hothouse’ climate), but MUMS probably has an uphill battle – I wish you luck! – gavin]
This article on the Sci Am website from studies of paleooceanic data suggest that warming oceans and not CO2 are responisble for the ending of ice ages (not sure if that is a issue for AGW or was not known) but is further suggests that climate sensitivity may be misunderstood at the present time due to the fact that present day warming is different from warming that causes the ice ages to end. deep sea water warmed first and then switched places with surface waters, today surface waters are warming first.
So it looks like there could be no precedent in the past for what is happenning now.
Re #99: “Let us get the facts right. Each year approximately 9 million sq kms of ice melt. Each year approximately 9 million sq kms refreeze. Since measurements started in 1979, approximately 35,000 sq kms extra ice has melted each year, and approximately 35,000 sq kms of ice has failed to refreeze, for a net loss of about 70,000 sq kms each year. This year about 10 million sq kms melted compared with 9 million normally.”
Shouldn’t that be 35,000 sq km extra melt and ~70,000 failed to refreeze?
I stand corrected, I misremembered the annual loss, it’s more like 15 year’s worth of melting in one summer not a decade! Here’s the August data, bear in mind the September data will be about 1million sq km less.
I lived in Southern California for three years and had to deal with the occasional smog problems. When I visited Bangkok, however, I found that I could barely breathe due to the persistent haze from vehicle traffic. And this was during the rainy season, which did little to clear the air before it became oppressive again!
Just a note Gavin, for perspective; I noted your jab at the “amateur” component of the surfacestations.org effort. Certainly I don’t deny that, in fact that is what makes the project work without the need for government funding.
Along those lines I’d point out that a significant portion of the surface temperature data you use in GISS, is in fact gathered by amateurs, at sites they self administer. And again, that is what makes it work without the need for government funding of observers. The US COOP network and other networks worldwide are largely staffed by volunteer amateur observers and the data they gather is important. I think we can all agree upon that.
Since a percentage your GISTEMP data effort then depends on the hard work of “amateurs”, perhaps then it would be wise to not paint other efforts that use data collected by amateurs in a negative light. As always, if there are suggestions that you have to offer that can improve the effort, I welcome them.
Just a note Gavin, for perspective; I noted your jab at the “amateur” component of the surfacestations.org effort.
No, he jabbed at the amateur photography component of your effort, not at amateur efforts in general.
There’s a world of difference between using amateurs to collect data, something that has a honorable history in the natural sciences, and pretending that a photograph (amateur or professional) is data.
Re #117: Interestngly enough, the NCDC scientists would actually like to have a good set of station photographs. One of the many reasons that the surfacestations.org effort appears to be less than interested in the actual science is that AW never got in touch with them to ask about methodology. But why do that if your pre-conceived intent is to turn around and do something with the photos that’s wholly unscientific, i.e. throw out all of the data from the “bad” stations? The fact is that various station biases (microsite, instruments, etc.) will be visible in the data. The photos can indeed come in real handy, but only as a way of trying to identify the source of a problem that’s already been seen in the data.
Another reason is that you persist in posting swill like this and then not retracting it when it’s proven bogus.
On Rod B.’s comment #98,the only ones dancing in the streets today are members of the American Petroleum Institute and the CEOs of Exxon Mobile.
The White House finished a two day conference on global warming and the administration firmly stated that the US wouldn’t cooperate on any internationally agreed to caps on CO2 emissions. In fact the Bush administration wants caps in the US to be voluntarily. This is a go it alone policy on a planetary problem. Volunteerism hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work now.It will be no more effective than making drinking and driving voluntary.
There will be opportunists who will disregard any non mandatory guidelines. In order to remain competive,more responsible companies will have to follow the policies of the emitters. We’re stuck with business as usual for at least the next 15 months when this administration leaves.
RE #113: The Stott et al paper seems useful, but he used the publicity around it to peddle his somewhat contrarian agenda (which he and long-time collaborator Bob Thunell have expressed before). I really don’t see how he can support his claim about this study undermining sensitivity estimates, and fortunately the article you linked quoted Gavin to the opposite effect. That oceans warned first and emitted CO2 into the atmosphere has been uncontroversial for years, although the exact mechanism and timing remains an unsolved problem. See here for a much better discussion of the paper.
To demonstrate that all of this stuff is still at the blind-men-feeling-different-parts-of-the-elephant stage, see this discussion of a related paper from a few months ago. IMHO it was approximately as important as Stott et al and was also published in Science, but didn’t get as much attention since the authors didn’t load up the publicity with extraneous claims about the role of CO2 in the present warming.
In fact the Bush administration wants caps in the US to be voluntarily.
It’s worse than that – they still want voluntary emissions intensity targets, i.e. targets for the emissions:GDP ratio. They aren’t considering even voluntary targets for reductions in absolute GHG emissions levels.
Great comments, Gavin. I’ve been to mainland PRC a couple of times and to Hong Kong and even Hong Kong has a visible haze.
I live in Australia where the mainstream of politics despite noises to the contrary is firmly in denial because of their addiction to selling coal to China. My view is that China is really the place to start if we can get a handle on how to engage with decision makers. If Hansen’s views on the probability of multi-metre sea level rises should concern anyone, the Chinese should be at the head of the list. Shanghai for a start would be in deep (literally) trouble.
Ref 124. It was somewhat of an offhand remark. Since I am now 82, I dont expect to be around to either pay or clean up on such a bet. The basis might, however, be worthwhile talking about. In 2005, the supporters of AGW stated that the hurricane season in the North Atlantic was proof positive of global warming, just like the recent melt of arctic ice. In neither case is there any evidence that increased levels of CO2 has had anything to do with the observations. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) for the NA was about 250 in 2005; the average is around 102; 2006 was around 75; 2007, year to date, is around 58. The same effect I certainly expect to see with arctic ice. Solar cycle 24 has still not started.
Welcome back Gavin, I have also been for 2 weeks around Singapore and the Philippines, mainly Manila and will give an up to date asessment of the pollution in those countries respectively.. Singapore is now like a computer game city, virtually no airbourne pollution that I could see, traffic was very light even on weekdays-you can go from Changi airport to the city in less than 20mins. Vehicles emmissions are checked regularly. Almost every apartment, office, and factory now has compact flouro lights and energy efficient water heaters. I was also there in 1992 and could see a huge diffence, then there was smog- quite heavy especially in the morning but now it’s virtually gone. We stayed with friends of my wife that have lived there for 5 years and say what I saw was typical of Singapore now. Manila unfortunately on the otherhand was still everything that Singapore is not. Jeepneys and trucks pumping out tonnes on choking black smoke from their antiquated japanese engines, traffic snarls that make LA look like a lil country town. The baranguays (small suburbs) are all covered with that familiar sooty black/grey residue from passing traffic. Consequently the air over the city is very very dirty! You can only imagine what that is doing to the cityfolks lungs. On the upside..most houses are using compact flouro lights and you wont find incandescent ones in shops anymore..I wish Australia took that idea.
Ps. I was in China for 4 weeks in 1989 (Tiannamen square time) and over every major city was thick smog..I believe that to have been caused largley by un-environmentally regulated factories and the crude coal burners most people used for cooking with.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 30 Sep 2007 @ 8:07 AM
You state that the scientific community trumpeted the 2005 hurricane season as “proof” of anthropogenic climate change. First, “they” did no such thing. The link between hurricanes and climate change is still not well understood. Some within the community believed that the 2005 season could be a preview of the future. Others did not. Consensus is absent. In any case, I know of no responsible scientists who made such a claim based on a single year’s hurricane activity.
Second, increased hurricane activity would merely be evidence that the energy in the climate system was increasing–not of why. Since even you admit that energy in the climate is increasing, and since the evidence for this is already overwhelming, there is no need to make such a claim.
Ray, well, there were too a bunch of scientists claiming the connection between AGW and the number of hurricanes in 2005. Don’t know (nor care) if they were a majority or not, but they won the decibel award, until, as you say, they were quieted by the more rational scientists of the AGW crowd. You may wish otherwise, but….. And I know, by your standards any scientist, by definition, was neither responsible nor credible if he/she so claimed a connection. And maybe they were the 2nd tier of scientists; I dunno.
WASHINGTON — Global warming, not natural fluctuations in ocean temperature, was the main cause of the ocean heat that energized last year’s killer hurricanes, scientists at a federally funded climate laboratory said Thursday.
As a result, continued increases in the Earth’s temperature likely will lead to more “enhanced hurricane activity” in future years, said climate analysts Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.
wherein several are hopeful that these may prove useful in China (and elsewhere).
Not high energy density devices, though.
Comment by David B. Benson — 30 Sep 2007 @ 1:09 PM
Ref 129. Pleasae refer to http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/news/news_detail.cfm?id=104
As you will see there was a demand that Max Mayfield be fired because he would not agree that the 2005 hurricane season was not caused by global warming. I can remember the TV news broadcasts which said exactly the same thing.
Dave Rado’s comment# 125 say’s: “It’s worse than that – they still want voluntary emissions intensity targets, i.e. targets for the emissions:GDP ratio. They aren’t considering even voluntary targets for reductions in absolute GHG emissions levels.”
If that’s the case then only bad things can happen.We either continue to increase GHG’s or we go into a recession or worse.
Secretary Rice said, at the conference at the White House, that global warming was a real global problem and that the U.S. was willing to lead the effort to reduce the emission of gases that lead to the warming. However, she also said that “Every country will make it’s own decisions…reflecting it’s own needs and interests.” Some leadership!
Jim #129 referred to the ‘scientific community’ and ‘responsible scientists’, I don’t think that the Hip Hop Caucus, Physicians for Social Responsibility or the Sierra Student Coalition were exactly what Ray had in mind..
Bob Schmitz 78, in answer to your question, the page says:
*When snow melts at those high altitudes and then refreezes, it can absorb up to four times more energy than fresh, unthawed snow,…*
I think that’s the main message to be found there.
Obviously this will have consequences on internal ice lubrication, basal flow and friction effects and general warming of the ice caps, but that is beyond this study. I think the down-stream effects (literally) are apparent from other recent observations.
The Hip Hop Caucus, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sierra Student Coalition, a motley crew to be sure, were “quoting” others’ science, not their own. Such as (further in the referenced article) Casey DeMoss Roberts of the Sierra Club. “no fewer than four major scientific studies, published in peer-reviewed journals, have shown that increasingly warmer sea-surface temperatures worldwide are bolstering the frequency, power, and lifespan of major hurricanes.” Are they telling the truth? I dunno. But can’t be much worse than the reaction, Never heard of it! Never happened! Quit talking about it!
Then again maybe it can [:-( . The following is a call to action to a protest against global warming sponsored by The U.S. Climate Emergency Council: Noontime protest will include music, speakers, street theater and more….
RE: protesting against global warming. We are already seeing the climate warm & destabilize, and there’s also a good deal of warming to come even if we were to halt the use of fossil fuels overnight. Instead, how about some protests for the large-scale development of renewable energy? If we can spend $500 billion a year in the U.S. on say, the military budget, can’t we spend an equal amount on developing renewable energy? Can’t we give tax breaks to companies who start-up renewable energy firms? Can’t we encourage banks to make credit available to homeowners who want to put large solar PV systems on their roofs?
Protesting against global warming, at this point, is like protesting against a landslide that’s already started. We are going to have to adapt to warming above and beyond what we’re seeing today, regardless. We will also have to bring renewables online and quit burning fossil fuels as soon as possible. By doing that we can hopefully keep global warming to a manageable level.
Imagine shutting off all fossil fuel imports to the US (i.e. petroleum and natural gas) and shutting down all the coal-fired power plants as well. Come up with a technological and economic plan for replacing 50% of that energy with renewables. Figure out how to get by using far less energy than we do now by using efficient technology. That’s what needs to be done.
RE the PETM:
Nature 353, 225 – 229 (19 September 1991)
Abrupt deep-sea warming, palaeoceanographic changes and benthic extinctions at the end of the Paleocene
J. P. Kennett, L. D. Stott
“A remarkable oxygen and carbon isotope excursion occurred in Antarctic waters near the end of the Palaeocene (~57.33 Myr ago), indicating rapid global warming and oceanographic changes that caused one of the largest deep-sea benthic extinctions of the past 90 million years. In contrast, the oceanic plankton were largely unaffected, implying a decoupling of the deep and shallow ecosystems. The data suggest that for a few thousand years, ocean circulation underwent fundamental changes producing a transient state that, although brief, had long-term effects on environmental and biotic evolution.”
Note to Bryan Sralla (I’m assuming?)
You say that: “Here is an observation which hopefully spurs deep thought and further investigation: Integration of the sequence stratigraphic record (invented by some company called Exxon) and the proxy records suggests that regional polar climates dominate over bi-polar or global average climates.”
Yes, well, Peter Vail’s work on stratigraphy with his Exxon colleagues was predated by L. Sloss, and it all relied on 19th century geology concepts. Are you implying that the stratigraphic work done with ocean cores could never be used to study paleoclimate because of Exxon’s involvement in stratigraphy studies?
Note that one of the main reasons we’re seeing rapid warming in the Arctic is increased heat transport from low latitudes, and the same thing is happening over the Antarctic Peninsula. Greenland is melting away, slowly but surely, and East Antarctica is holding steady (for now). Your theory of ‘regional polar climate domination’, which I assume means the theory that ice sheet dynamics control everything, hasn’t stood up well – you have to include CO2 as well. See Ice, Mud Point to CO2 Role in Glacial Cycle, Kerr, Science Sep15 2000, for example.
“Solar-cell technology proved too expensive for terrestrial use until the early 1970s when Dr. Elliot Berman, with financial help from Exxon Corporation, designed a significantly less costly solar cell by using a poorer grade of silicon and packaging the cells with cheaper materials.”
I’d be happy to see Exxon go back to solar PV – as long as they quit importing fossil fuels into the US.
In any case, claiming that “the long term forecast is for ice” is pretty meaningless. Will the Earth eventually head into another glacial cycle? That will probably be the case, since plate tectonics has moved landmasses over the polar regions, and that won’t change anytime soon. Could we postpone the next glacial cycle? If the PETM recovery (carbon uptake by sediments) took 100,000+ years, then yes, we could. A recently published separate line of evidence based on marine (bio)chemistry models supports this notion. ( abstract here )
In the long run, our sun will turn into a red giant, and will burn the Earth to a crisp. It’s the short term decades-to-centuries scale that we’re all concerned about here.
Fair enough with the criticisms. Getting back to arctic ice. Is there general agreement amongst the proponents of AGW, that this year’s dramatic decrease in the minimum ice conditions in the arctic in September 2007, is proof positive of AGW?
[Response: That’s not how it works. If this year had been a complete anomaly in an otherwise trendless series, it would be curious but not definitive in any sense. However, it occurred in the context of a sharp and accelerating downward trend and comes on the heels of a number of recent records, thus it seems very consistent with the longer term picture – and that is what climate scientists are looking at. Nothing on it’s own is ‘proof positive’ – and frankly never will be. But the accumulation of all these projected (or in this case worse-than-projected) effects adds substantially to confidence in the big picture. – gavin]
) Casey DeMoss Roberts of the Sierra Club. “no fewer than four major scientific studies, published in peer-reviewed journals, have shown that increasingly warmer sea-surface temperatures worldwide are bolstering the frequency, power, and lifespan of major hurricanes.” Are they telling the truth? I dunno. But can’t be much worse than the reaction, Never heard of it! Never happened! Quit talking about it!
The point, Rod B, is that the scientific papers that are mentioned talk about trends, not an individual year such as 2005.
It wouldn’t be incorrect to state that there’s evidence that years like 2005 will become increasingly likely due to global warming. But if anyone has quoted papers such as this to claim that “the 2005 hurricane season was caused by global warming”, well, that’s their problem, not the scientists who are talking about possible trends.
“Using measurements of time-variable gravity from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites, we determined mass variations of the Antarctic ice sheet during 2002–2005. We found that the mass of the ice sheet decreased significantly, at a rate of 152 +/- 80 cubic kilometers of ice per year, which is equivalent to 0.4 +/- 0.2 millimeters of global sea-level rise per year. Most of this mass loss came from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.”
Given the rapid and apparently unexpected current rate of warming in the Arctic, things might start proceeding faster in the Antarctic as well. The West Antarctic sheet will certainly melt first.
Does RC have a refutation of Gerlich & Tscheuscner’s Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects
Within The Frame Of Physics in which they refute the whole basis in physics of the GHG phenomenon. The paper is .
I came to this blog via the NY Times article on arctic melting. This came a day after an article
plus video of falling water levels in the Great Lakes. We also know that large areas of the south,
midwest, west and east of the U.S. are suffering drought, as is the Amazon river basin, large areas
of Australia, as well as parts of Japan (Fukuoka city, in prefecture where I live,
has just built its first de-salinization plant). China is building enormous canal/pipeline
to transport water from south to water-starved Beijing and Shanghai areas.
My question for the experts: re we in the middle of what appears to be a growing
world wide drought? If so, where is the water going? Is it possible that planet will
become so hot that water that evaporates will not cool sufficiently to fall as rain or snow?
Does RC have a refutation of Gerlich & Tscheuscner’s Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects
Within The Frame Of Physics in which they refute the whole basis in physics of the GHG phenomenon.
They don’t refute the physics. They dispute the physics. With assertions.
Here is my caution to those who might be taken in by the current popular and scientific enthusiasm surrounding the PETM. Focusing so much attention on the short spike in d13C at the 55 million year mark is akin to cherry picking a single extreme weather event over the background of longer term climate. By doing so, one risks missing the big picture (longer trend) of what is happening on Earth during much of the early Paleogene, and also risks misdiagnosing the dynamics driving the system.
The d18O proxy demonstrates that the Paleocene and Eocene were extremely warm climates for many millions of years on either side of the PETM. Robert and Kennett (1994) suggest relatively warm surface and bottom waters throughout much of the Paleocene. There is also no strong evidence of significant ice on any continent from the K-T boundary all the way until the beginning of the Middle Eocene (Abreu and Anderson, 1998). This is a 15 million year warm spell on Earth! Maybe 55 million years was a distinct short duration event, and the peak of the warmth (Stott et al., 1990) but the spike occurred over a background of a much, much warmer world than present day. The sequence stratigraphic record demonstrates sea levels were running 100-200 meters higher than present throughout much of the early Paleogene (Mitchum, 1994). This important background information seems to get lost in much of the current climate change discussion.
Beyond the popular myths, I struggle with finding much in common between our modern climate setting and the ancient climate during the early Paleogene, other than physics. Remember that this was a time in Earth history when there were a bunch of divergent plate margins around. The bathymetry and circulation of the Southern Ocean was changing rapidly. Australia and Antarctica continued to rift apart, and South America and Antarctic Peninsula may have still been connected (Schettino and Scotese, 2004). These tectonic conditions likely had a profound effect on the thermal structure of the world ocean. Explosive volcanic activity changed in response to the worldwide tectonic setting, and marine and terrestrial biota were quickly adapting or dying out in response to the environmental changes. Milankovitch Cycles are also superimposed on these other changes. It is not hard to imagine periodic strongly non-linear biogeochemical responses to these other conditions teleconnecting through the system. A really difficult question is sorting out what is initially forcing the changes, and what is feedback in response to the initial changes.
In my view, climatology and geology are really different types of metrics for the same strongly non-linear dynamical system we call planet Earth, with feedback between its many components. If we desire to construct a model to better understand the PETM in proper context, we might also endeavor to write code describing plate tectonics, geomorphology, biogeochemistry, sedimentation and crustal loading, compaction and decompaction, structural deformation of the crust, and paleo-ocean circulation. Otherwise there is some chance we will not properly diagnose the dynamics driving the Paleocene-Eocene climate, and will risk drawing incorrect conclusions about its relevance to us today. I completely reject the hypothesis that greenhouse gases are the only significant driver of climate throughout the geological past. They are more often a feedback to other system and external forcing changes. Are they a first order forcing? Yes. Are they the only significant forcing? No.
In summary, everyone needs to be cautious not to misuse paleo-climate data. I fear the current fixation on modeling the PETM is a fad in earth science. Remember the hoola hoop and rubix cube? Like the very popular 1970’s leisure suit, we might look back on this in 30 years, and it will look awfully silly.
[Response: Possibly you have a different perspective on what is going on in paleo-climate and geology, but I’m a little puzzled at your strong reaction. Given the very few people involved in either publishing on PETM data or doing any relevant modelling, the notion that this is somehow sweeping the community to the detriment of other worthy paleo-climate changes is a strange one. The PETM is interesting because it seems to give insight into what happens when you put a lot of carbon into the system very quickly (relatively speaking) – there is therefore an obvious analogy to today’s situation, even given the vastly different base climate of the early Eocene. Are you not even curious as to what could have been happening? I think everyone is aware that on geologic timescales greenhouse gases are not the only thing that is important. For instance, lots of work continues to be done on gateway openings/closings due to tectonics, orography changes, orbital forcing etc. The ‘problem’ (such as it is) with issues of sediment compaction, geomorphology etc. is not that they are uninteresting scientific issues (far from it), but that their relevance to today’s situation is less. Like it or not, getting increased funding and interest into deep time paleo relies on making it relevant to the much larger pot of money available for climate change studies – I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but it is the situation to be faced. Not all of paleo will grab that attention, and so it will inevitably be that some events, or periods are highlighted. – gavin]
Re #153: [My question for the experts: re we in the middle of what appears to be a growing world wide drought? If so, where is the water going?]
I’m not an expert, but in chatting with gardeners from around the world, it seems as though for every place having a drought, there’s someplace else that is having way more rain than usual – northern Europe, for instance.
Also consider that in some places – China, parts of the western US, etc – it’s not so much a drought as it is a matter of humans using more than the available water supply, depleting aquifers & groundwater which in turn reduces the natural plant cover that traps what rain does fall.
“My question for the experts: re we in the middle of what appears to be a growing
world wide drought? If so, where is the water going?”
I would venture it isn’t “going” anywhere, if your question relates to the idea of water “disappearing”. What does seem to be occurring is a change in patterns.
From “Confronting Climate Change” pp: 30-31:
“Water Resources: Changes in the timing, amounts, and location of precipitation, along with warmer temperatures, will reduce mountain snowpack, alter river flows, and reduce warm-season soil moisture. In mountainous regions, snow will be present for shorter periods and at higher elevations, and spring runoff is likely to occur earlier. With rainfall tending to occur in more intense events, stream flows are likely to fluctuate more than at present, and water temperatures between storms are likely to rise, altering the conditions on which freshwater fish species depend. Earlier melting of river ice, which is essential so that some migrating species and their young can cross rivers to reach traditional feeding grounds, will create a life-threatening stress. Warmer temperatures will lead to greater evaporation and more rapid onset of the low soil-moisture conditions that intensify drought. In addition, warming will tend to thaw permafrost areas, altering stream flow and local hydrology, and possibly increasing the release of CH4 and CO2 from northern soils.
“In addition to significantly affecting the natural environment and the provision of ecological goods and services on which society depends, climate change will have direct consequences for society and its built systems. The altered timing, flow rates, and temperatures of rivers will require adjustments in the management and location of water-supply systems to meet future demand, especially because higher temperatures are very likely to increase the demand for water during lengthened warm seasons. An additional impact of the higher CO2 concentration will be to enhance growth of vegetation in regions that dry out in the summer, leading to more rapid accumulation of the types and amounts of biomass that are susceptible to wildfire (e.g., chaparral).”
Floods in South Asia, China and Africa in the past few months have affected over 4.8 million people.
As I understand the Hadley Centre prediction, global warming brings more extreme weather events, both drought and flooding. There is, of course, the effect that James mentions in comment #155.
Comment by David B. Benson — 2 Oct 2007 @ 10:48 AM
Re #155: Bryan, you inadvertently pointed out a key difference between the PETM and the present: Melting ice couldn’t raise sea level then because there was no ice. In sharp contrast, the present ice gives us about 70 meters of potential sea level rise. While it’s true that studying the PETM won’t be of much direct help in terms of figuring out how much and how fast sea level is likely to rise given the present warming trend, studying the Pleistocene glaciations is very useful (and see Climate of the Past for many current public-access papers on the subject). We know, for example, that deglaciations paced by relatively slow orbital cycles are capable of raising sea level on the order of five meters per century. On the one hand we can reduce that number since the associated melting occurred when the Laurentide and Fennoscandian ice sheets existed, but OTOH the unexpectedly rapid polar response we’re already seeing isn’t waiting for orbital changes. So what’s the maximum rate of sea level rise with, e.g, a peak of 700 ppm CO2-equivalent by 2100 with a slow tapering off after that (about the best we’re likely to do IMHO)? Are we so confident it will be negligible that we’re willing to put even more GHGs into the atmosphere?
#145 Gavin, Your response makes sense, but is not convincing in terms of action to be taken, is especially fodder for contrarians dealing with absolutes.
Are scientists waiting for am overwhelming preponderence of evidence before they themselves become certain?
If so what decisions can be taken while Climate change attributions are not yet fully weighted? Are we waiting for another big event before action against AGW becomes absolutely necessary?
[Response: Why do you assume that absolute certainty is required before undertaking action? That isn’t the case in any other policy sphere, and for me personally, the evidence has been strong enough to imply substantial action for years. – gavin]
Re #159: Jim Hansen’s latest paper (with Makiko Sato) is on this very subject. The upshot is that exceeding present temps by more than 1C (an increase that we could see with as little as 450 ppm CO2) appears likely to be dangerous, dangerous being defined as risking ice sheet melting. The main basis for this argument is that CO2 levels were at no more than 600 ppm (and possibly somewhat less) 34 million years ago when there were no ice sheets (and sea levels were 70 meters higher than present).
NYT articles yesterday on Arctic Ice also highlighted the major non-warming shift in the ice: the change in the Arctic Oscillation in 1989. Under the pre-1989 phase of the AO, winds and currents tended to keep ice trapped in a slow-moving circuit in the polar regions. That ice was able to last multiple summers, maintaining a thick cap on the ocean. As a result, albedo effects were minimized because even as some ice melted in summer, it was not enough to expose darker waters below.
Post 1989, this periodic shift in climate patterns in the region had the effect of changing wind currents to drive ice out into the North Atlantic where it melted much more rapidly. The old ice began to disappear. The new ice that re-formed was not as thick, and so was more likely to melt again the following summer.
In 1987, 80% of Arctic ice cover was older than 10 years. By 2007, less than 2%.
It’s probable that the rapidly melting Arctic is due to both events: Arctic warming linked to global warming, and the Arctic Oscillation. A warmer Arctic under the pre-1989 phase would not have lost so much ice so quickly. The pre-1989 regime probably did not allow as much warmer southern air into the Arctic, so Arctic temperatures were more insulated from global changes, instead of having their effects amplified.
It remains to be seen whether there is a causal link or dependence between the two: whether CO2 accumulation and gradual polar warming pre-1989 “caused” (contributed substantially to, etc.) the change in the AO, or whether the AO shift drove a rapid rise in Arctic temperatures beyond the globally-based increases that would otherwise have occurred.
As for ignorance, at this point any ignorance on the subject amongst people capable of comprehending it strikes me more and more as being of the willful variety.
I was referring to our luck or ignorance in 1989: we don’t yet know whether the near-simultaneous occurrence of the Arctic Oscillation phase shift in 1989 and the acceleration of sustained rises in global temperatures starting in 1990 was coincidental or related.
But I agree that at this time there is no true ignorance, only deliberate ambiguity and disingenuousness.
Thats akin to saying that any blog on on the blogspot server is a “baby” of Google, since Google provides the web hosting. Lets judge people by the validity of their arguments, instead of this spurious attempt to tar by association.
I’ve noticed lately that when I click on recent comments, for some reason the url includes “/langswitch_lang/fr” which indicates a switch to the French language. I admire French as a beautiful language, but I have no idea why this is. Anybody else notice the same?
[Response: It’s something funky with the interaction with the language picker and the cache. Not sure how to deal with that…. – gavin]
RE: #160 – PG&E are subsidizing CFLs at Costco stores in California. I am getting them for $3 for a whole pack of them, less than what I would pay for incadescents. What do you call that? I call it taking action.
NYT articles yesterday on Arctic Ice also highlighted the major non-warming shift in the ice: the change in the Arctic Oscillation in 1989. Under the pre-1989 phase of the AO, winds and currents tended to keep ice trapped in a slow-moving circuit in the polar regions…
This was the only mention of the Arctic Oscillation I found in the NYT article:
But another factor was probably involved, one with roots going back to about 1989. At that time, a periodic flip in winds and pressure patterns over the Arctic Ocean, called the Arctic Oscillation, settled into a phase that tended to stop ice from drifting in a gyre for years, so it could thicken, and instead carried it out to the North Atlantic.
Certainly doesn’t sound like they are throwing it out there as an alternative to greenhouse gas induced global warming – but more like a minor bit player.
Instead they say:
For one thing, experts are having trouble finding any records from Russia, Alaska or elsewhere pointing to such a widespread Arctic ice retreat in recent times, adding credence to the idea that humans may have tipped the balance. Many scientists say the last substantial warming in the region, peaking in the 1930s, mainly affected areas near Greenland and Scandinavia.
Some scientists who have long doubted that a human influence could be clearly discerned in the Arctic’s changing climate now agree that the trend is hard to ascribe to anything else.
Smart on their part.
The Arctic Oscillation roughly decadal. Which means that if the melt began in 1990 and it were strictly due to the Arctic Oscillation, then everything else being the same, it should return to where it was by 2000 – which would be roughly where it was in 1980, 1970, 1960, etc.. But it would appear that not everything is the same – since things have gotten progressively worse.
However, the super-saturation of news articles, blogs, etc focused only on the discussion of melted ice ignore the paramount issues of what does this mean to NH climate; and particularly western NA temp and precip patterns.
Can you or someone out there focus a bit on possible impacts of ice melt (including high and low pressure systems forming where they seldom do)?
At least one meteorologist, Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist with the Weather Channel is trying to understand impacts of ice melt aside from reducing polar bear habitat.
[And the Arctic is interconnected with the rest of the world.
Some who are skeptical of the seriousness of global warming like to point out that there’s uncertainty in the forecasts made by global climate models. I’m certainly not one to argue with model uncertainty; in fact, a couple of my blogs on weather.com about recent tropical storms and hurricanes focused on errors in the weather models which entail much shorter-range forecasts than climate models. But what seems to be happening is that if the latter are erring in one direction, it’s that they have failed to predict the rapidity with which some of the climate-related changes are taking place. ]
I say, lets get past the hand wringing about extent of ice melt and get on with understanding its global implications for world grain supplies and hydro power in the West.
It is time the NSF got into the act and invest as much time and money as it did to write up the Abrupt Climate Change report. We are looking at an abrupt climate change in the Arctic ice melt back but all we can see is the open ocean. There is more to this story but nobody seems ready to write Page Two.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 4 Oct 2007 @ 12:56 PM
RE # 173
Gavin, the NH impact of Arctic sea ice melt might not be well understood at present but some discussion of the need to understand its climatological impact is a worthy RC topic. As Senior Meteorologist, Stu Ostro has said:
[the Arctic is interconnected with the rest of the world]
Comment by John L. McCormick — 4 Oct 2007 @ 2:51 PM
Here is some good news for a change:
No more worrying about Arctic ice meltback. It is off the front page til next August.
What a relief!
Now, we can move on to the next headline.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 8 Oct 2007 @ 7:43 AM
Bates, et.al. pose an interesting aspect of Arctic sea ice meltback. It is possibly the only positive negative feedback mechanism from the open ocean appearing sooner and lasting longer.
An increasing CO2 sink in the Arctic Ocean due to sea-ice loss
Nicholas R. Bates, et. al.
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L23609, doi:10.1029/2006GL027028, 2006
The Arctic Ocean and adjacent continental shelf seas such as the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are particularly sensitive to long-term change and low-frequency modes of atmosphere-ocean-sea-ice forcing. The cold, low salinity surface waters of the Canada Basin of the Arctic Ocean are undersaturated with respect to CO2 in the atmosphere and the region has the potential to take up atmospheric CO2, although presently suppressed by sea-ice cover. Undersaturated seawater CO2 conditions of the Arctic Ocean are maintained by export of water with low dissolved inorganic carbon content and modified by intense seasonal shelf primary production. Sea-ice extent and volume in the Arctic Ocean has decreased over the last few decades, and we estimate that the Arctic Ocean sink for CO2 has tripled over the last 3 decades (24 Tg yr−1 to 66 Tg yr−1) due to sea-ice retreat with future sea-ice melting enhancing air-to-sea CO2 flux by ∼28% per decade.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 11 Oct 2007 @ 8:25 AM
It is absurd to believe that a one degree rise in global temperatures will melt either the Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets. Both ice sheets average dozens of degrees below freezing during the warmest weeks of summer, and Antarctica just set the record for maximum sea ice extent – indicative of unusually cold temperatures. Obviously there is more to the start and end of ice ages than the single variable this web site compulsively focuses on day after day. The last ice age ended when CO2 was at a minimum, and started when CO2 was at a maximum.
Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Oct 2007 @ 7:00 PM
Patrick Henry, Your post is a wonderful example of why common sense cannot be considered to be common. First, look up polar amplification. Second, what matters is peak temperature–as that is when the melting occurs. You could really look this stuff up rather than assuming you have a complete understanding of it based on your “common sense”.