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  1. I don’t understand how anyone can neglect these 4 basic facts:

    1) Greenhouse gasses absorb infrared radiation in the atmosphere and re-emit much of it back toward the surface, thus warming the planet (less heat escapes; Fourier, 1824).

    2) CO2 is a greenhouse gas and thus has the capacity to warm the planet (Tyndall, 1858).

    3) By burning fossil fuels, humans activities are increasing the greenhouse gas concentration of the Earth (Arrhenius, 1896).

    4) Increased greenhouse gas concentrations lead to more heat being trapped, warming the planet further (Arrhenius, 1896).

    Anyone that is neglecting these basic facts without some substantial evidence that contradicts them should not be paid much heed.

    Comment by Todd Albert — 22 Nov 2010 @ 9:53 AM

  2. I have some back-to-basics questions about the 2000-2010 GISTEMP chart shown here. First, what is the reason for a 50 year baseline for the beginning of the time period and only 10 years at the end? I know it is important to average out short term fluctuations, but why the difference? It is not obvious what the time period is for the amount of warming shown, I assume it is 25 years (1980 – 2005). When presenting this information to the public it might help to clarify this.

    The color scale also seems unusual. The color blue “feels” coldest and red the warmest, but those colors are placed in the middle of the scale, making the chart a little harder to interpret at an intuitive level. Is there a reason for this choice, and are there any standards?

    [Response: No, there is no standard. But we are just following the color scheme in the original paper for ease of comparison. – gavin]

    Comment by Blair Dowden — 22 Nov 2010 @ 10:17 AM

  3. Ah, the good old cooling predictions from 2008. Interesting how “skeptics” keep pounding the few articles back in the 70’s that talked about cooling, when they launched the same idea themselves, just two years ago. Critical difference is that the idea actually made some sense back in the 70’s.
    Expect the skeptics to relaunch the cooling meme again in 2011 when we might see a slight drop in temps due to the La Nina.

    Comment by Esop — 22 Nov 2010 @ 11:41 AM

  4. Again this is great. K08 can make bold claims about how the Earth works, just like the solar spectral stumper or Keppler’s plants and ch4 paper from 2006. The data accumulate and science progresses. This is EXACTLY how the whole thing is supposed to work. Kudos to all.

    Comment by Andy — 22 Nov 2010 @ 12:44 PM

  5. Todd #1,
    well said. But your comment might be read in context as suggesting Keenlyside et al. dispute or neglect those facts. I’m sure they don’t.

    Comment by CM — 22 Nov 2010 @ 1:01 PM

  6. I suppose it is still too early to assess how the predictions of Smith et al. of the Hadley Centre are doing ( )? This seemed to me like perhaps a more realistic effort at decadal climate prediction.

    Comment by Joel Shore — 22 Nov 2010 @ 1:26 PM

  7. Re #6:

    And, Smith et al. did demonstrate improved skill in predicting global mean temperature. They also did a preliminary assessment of their final prediction in the Supplementary Information, which could be updated to present….

    Comment by Ed Hawkins — 22 Nov 2010 @ 1:43 PM

  8. I am not a scientist, but devoted to heat transfer with concentration in cooling. First of all, your articles are of great intellectual value for me and my professional interest as stated above. I keep them exclusively in a key folder for continuously references and analysis.
    At this stage and, for the time being, I have only one
    petition to ask. Is there a temperature prediction for the Caribbean that you can share, as of today?
    Thank you very much for this attention.
    Mario J.

    Comment by Mario J. Martinez — 22 Nov 2010 @ 2:21 PM

  9. The last map again shows strikingly how much more the Arctic has warmed than other parts of the globe.

    Sorry if this has been covered to death elsewhere, but what is the current thinking about the break down for relative strengths of causes for this anomaly?

    How much is attributable to albedo feedback versus higher concentrations of methane (and the feedback involved in methane emissions form tundra and seabed…), for example?

    Comment by wili — 22 Nov 2010 @ 2:36 PM

  10. Very interesting post, thanks. The AR4 simulations seem to match the observed patterns quite well!

    I gather that K08 were conducting ten-yr runs. But can you help to clarify when the AR4 ensemble runs were initialized?

    Also, perhaps I’m misunderstanding the methodology you’ve described, but I find the idea of delivering short term predictions from AR4 models a little strange, based on previous discussions made here about the Cox and Stephenson’s “sweet spot” of climate model simulations of ~20-50 years. Is there some way to get around process/parameter uncertainty over shorter time periods?

    Thanks for either answering or directing me to a link with an answer.

    [Response: The AR4 runs aren’t initialised in this sense at all. They start with conditions from the 19th Century and run forward with only input from the forcings. Thus they are not ‘short term’ predictions in any sense. The fact that they nonetheless provide a better estimate of the decadal anomaly is quite telling. – gavin]

    Comment by Karen Kohfeld — 22 Nov 2010 @ 2:58 PM

  11. Re Todd at #1 and CM at #5: Am I right in understanding that the key point is that it’s quite possible for global surface temperatures to decrease even as the globe warms if more than the excess inflow of heat goes into the deep oceans?

    [Response: Theoretically you could have a change in ocean circulation that could cause a drop in global mean temperature even while the total heat content of the climate system increased. Though I have not seen this in any free-running simulation. – gavin]

    Comment by Ed Davies — 22 Nov 2010 @ 4:03 PM

  12. Is it possible the Great Recession changed the situation in the atmosphere enough to negate the cooling they predicted?

    Comment by JCH — 22 Nov 2010 @ 4:16 PM

  13. Ed (#11), how on earth did you get to there from #1? I don’t think that was the key point AT ALL.

    Comment by Maya — 22 Nov 2010 @ 4:35 PM

  14. #9 (Wili): Absolutely correct about the Arctic warming.
    The rapid warming of the Arctic introduces an interesting dilemma: large regions of the Arctic are not covered by either surface stations or satellites, so the temperatures that increase the fastest are not being measured in most of the datasets. This has, of course, been known for a long time. However, with the new trend of strong negative AO during the winter season, this will likely have an impact on the global average temperature. Cold Arctic air flows down to lower latitudes, where it affects the temperature readings. However, the increased temperatures that result from the warm air that flows into the northern regions of the Arctic are not being measured. In other words, the current trend of negative AO should introduce a cold bias in the global average temperature.

    Comment by Esop — 22 Nov 2010 @ 4:41 PM

  15. Just want to clarify the basic approaches. I can only access the abstract of the Keenlyside et al paper. This is what I think was done:

    1) Keenlyside et al start a climate model with the actual Sea Surface Temperatures (dynamic, multi-year spin up with nudging?) and then run the model (which one?) into the future (10-20 years out).

    2) IPCC AR4 A1B runs start in 1800s and run to 2100 under the A1B forcings without any data assimilation.

    I agree that it’s impressive that (2) seems to have much more skill than (1), although I have to ask: what was the model used by Keenlyside et al and which model produced the A1B results shown (or is it the average of all the AR4 models)?

    [Response: K08 use the ECHAM5 model, which also participated in the AR4 ensemble (in free running mode). The A1B simulation is just the results from (I think) a 3 member ensemble of the ECHAM5 model run as you suggest. I have amended the text above to reflect that. – gavin]

    Comment by Ernst K — 22 Nov 2010 @ 4:59 PM

  16. Re 9 wili – I know of a paper suggesting, as I recall, that enhanced ‘backradiation’ (downward radiation reaching the surface emitted by the air/clouds) contributed more to Arctic amplification specifically in the cold part of the year (just to be clear, backradiation should generally increase with any warming (aside from greenhouse feedbacks) and more so with a warming due to an increase in the greenhouse effect (including feedbacks like water vapor and, if positive, clouds, though regional changes in water vapor and clouds can go against the global trend); otherwise it was always my understanding that the albedo feedback was key (while sea ice decreases so far have been more a summer phenomenon (when it would be warmer to begin with), the heat capacity of the sea prevents much temperature response, but there is a greater build up of heat from the albedo feedback, and this is released in the cold part of the year when ice forms later or would have formed or would have been thicker; the seasonal effect of reduced winter snow cover decreasing at those latitudes which still recieve sunlight in the winter would not be so delayed). Also, the lapse rate feedback, while generally negative due to the temperature dependence of the moist adiabatic lapse rate, can be positive in some places and times (when there is an increase in lower-level radiative heating and the stability of the air mass prevents direct convective vertical spreading of the temperature response), such as in the Arctic.

    The effect of CH4 shouldn’t be concentrated much near surface CH4 sources; while CH4 oxydizes over a decade or two (? which one is closer), the mixing of the atmosphere is much faster, so wherever CH4 is coming from, it should tend to cause the same pattern in climate changes.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 22 Nov 2010 @ 7:29 PM

  17. “I don’t understand how anyone can neglect these 4 basic facts:” – 1

    Perhaps this will clarify matters for you…

    Ousted congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC) has a theory about why he lost this year’s midterm primary: conservative voters did not much care for Inglis’s belief in global warming. This is because, according to the congressman, his environmentalism fell on “Satan’s side” of the climate-change debate.

    Comment by Vendicar Decarian — 22 Nov 2010 @ 10:46 PM

  18. “…by the time the paper was published three quarters of the 2000-2010 forecast period were over with no sign of the predicted cooling – barring an unprecedented massive temperature drop, the prediction was always very unlikely.”

    I remember this a few years ago when this was published. This is what doesn’t make much sense to me. So what’s the motivation of publishing a hypothesis that doesn’t show past skill and is very likely to be wrong? Do you think that 2007-2008’s fairly substantial la Nina, and the associated temporary temperature drop, might have given the authors some reason to believe they might be right?

    [Response: You would need to ask them. – gavin]

    Comment by MarkB — 23 Nov 2010 @ 2:02 AM

  19. Hi Gavin

    I’m interested by the tropical tropospheric hotspot.

    In the NASA-GISS site there are very interesting climate simulations in response from different forcings.
    The ouputs of these simulations give us, among others, T2m, T2, T3,T4.

    I think that T3 = TTS and T4 = TLS, but I have a problem with T2.

    [Response: MSU-2 is TMT (since that was the channel on the original instrument). MSU-3 is not used much, and TLT is MSU-2R – though I don’t know that this is online. – gavin]

    Is this TLT, TMT, a mix?

    And is there a combination of these data to compute (roughly) the more important hotspot (roughly in 400hPa/150hPa)?

    The best should be to get the numerical values of the tropical profile.

    thanks for your response

    Comment by meteor — 23 Nov 2010 @ 2:29 AM

  20. I am really impressed by the spatial correlation between the model run and the actual temperature anomalies. The spatial structure of the temperature anomalies are almost captured perfectly. It looks almost too good to be true. I think it would be really nice for all those sceptics that claim that models are just “garbage in”, garbage out” to look at these two graphs. I do have a question about this: Is this level of agreement between model runs and temperature measurements normal, or was the agreement found here extraordinary? Would it be possible to have a post here once on the general agreements of GCMs and (spatial) temperature data, hindcasts etcetera? Or are there previous posts on this topic that I missed?

    Thanks for the good work!

    [Response: I was pretty surprised too – and so I would say that this merits more attention. – gavin]

    Comment by milanovic — 23 Nov 2010 @ 5:24 AM

  21. “So what’s the motivation of publishing a hypothesis that doesn’t show past skill and is very likely to be wrong?”

    My recollection from reading the paper was that it was mostly a proof-of-concept paper, along with improved skill for predicting certain temperature attributes that were specifically tied to oceanic state (mainly around the Atlantic & Pacific basins, right?), so that even though the global skill was less than the raw model, there were suggestions that certain regions had improved skill. As such a paper, it would have been an interesting first attempt at a new method that would encourage follow-on work in the area.

    Unfortunately, it was way overblown and the global predictions (without skill) were promoted over the other parts of the paper…


    Comment by M — 23 Nov 2010 @ 8:40 AM

  22. Maya #13: “Ed (#11), how on earth did you get to there from #1?”

    My logic was:

    #1 says the planet is heating up.
    K08 says the surface of the planet will cool down (or, at least, not warm).

    Two possibilities spring to mind:

    1) The extra heat is going to latent heat (e.g., melting ice) on the surface so the temperatures don’t rise even though there’s more heat and/or

    2) The extra heat goes elsewhere.

    As the abstract to K08 talks about ocean currents and that was the impression I got from previous discussions of that paper I thought (2) was the main concern and specifically that the heat was going into the deep ocean. Note that the K08 abstract talks about he problems of insufficient deep ocean instrumentation.

    Gavin’s response to my previous comment indicates that I’ve got the wrong end of the stick on all this – what I’m thinking is theoretically possible but not actually what’s being considered. I’d welcome clarification or a pointer to some discussion I’ve missed.

    [Response: Maybe it was me who wasn’t clear. It is possible that the K08 simulations do exhibit this phenomena, but I doubt very much that this is possible/probable in the real world. – gavin]

    Comment by Ed Davies — 23 Nov 2010 @ 9:56 AM

  23. thanks Gavin

    hence, T2=TMT OK
    for 1880-2000 I find, in tropical regions:

    Tsurf = 0.576°C

    the TMT-Tsurf ratio = 1.339 for your model

    [Response: Be careful – many things happened in the 20th Century, so this statement is only true (in the ensemble mean?) for those particular experiments. Another set (perhaps without ozone depletion or aerosols might give a different ratio). There is also the issue of variability in the value in any specific short time period from a single simulation. – gavin]

    For the observed anomalies, I have, from NASA-GISS (-24/24) Tsurf = 0.11°C/decade,
    and from RSS (-20/20) TMT = 0.11°C/decade

    The ratio is 1

    So, if I can, 3 questions (I am off topic, sorry):

    1-can we apply to the tropical regions the correction made by UW on the global anomaly?
    this correction which accounts the strato cooling is roughly 1.45
    In this case the model and the observations are in phase

    [Response: Not really. Tropical areas have a different structure. – gavin]

    2-do you think we can compare the “real” ratios of 1979-2009 with model ratios of 1880-2000?

    [Response: No. At least not without allowances for issues raised above. – gavin]

    3-What do you think of McKitrick et al 2010 who finds 0.24°C/decade for models (likely not the NASA model) and for 1979/2009?

    [Response: Actual it is exactly from our model. But it is a weird metric because it is only based on selected CRUTem grid points as opposed to a proper integral. It exaggerates the global trend. – gavin]

    Comment by meteor — 23 Nov 2010 @ 11:14 AM

  24. Ed #11, 22,

    These notes might be helpful: K08 noted that the MOC plays an important role in driving decadal sea surface temperatures, but did not go into details on why. They did not discuss what mechanisms were involved or where the heat would go.

    Also, just in case it’s not clear, what K08 forecast was a downward fluctuation in MOC and North Atlantic temperatures temporarily offsetting anthropogenic forcing for perhaps a decade and a half. (Not just a statistical ‘blip’, more like a ‘bleeep’.) On the upstroke, however, by the 2020s their forecast catches up with the warming in an anthropogenic-forcing-only scenario.

    Comment by CM — 23 Nov 2010 @ 1:55 PM

  25. The contours coloured in red look scarier every time they are presented.
    What do climate experts on here suggest the human race does about it?
    Otherwise we will be on RC having these scientific debates in 20 and 50 years time…….

    Comment by Bill — 23 Nov 2010 @ 2:22 PM

  26. Gavin

    I don’t know if it was a mean model response.
    I used this link:

    With a forcing of 5/4CO2 (centennial response) the ratio was roughly the same that in 1880-2000 all forcings case.

    Comment by meteor — 23 Nov 2010 @ 2:33 PM

  27. Ok, Ed, thank you. I dug up a few papers on the subject that seemed to fit the question. They look reputable, but I can’t vouch for them being the best examples in existence, only what I could find on the net that didn’t require a subscription. :)
    That one seems to support the temporary offset CM refers to, although they aren’t clear on how long one might expect the offset to last.
    That one made my head hurt to read, and I’m not sure if it really came to any conclusions, but it’s part of the puzzle.
    This one is recent, and considerably more readable. I thought it was interesting how uneven the deep ocean warming appears to be, almost the opposite of what we see in the graphs like the one above. Above, you see the amplification in the high northern latitudes; in the figures of this paper you see the heat collecting in the southern latitudes. Interesting.

    Comment by Maya — 23 Nov 2010 @ 3:03 PM

  28. On coupling shock:

    The aspect of climate modeling that I’ve always had the most trouble believing are regional climate predictions. My understanding is that high resolution regional climate models (RCMs) are embedded in lower resolution GCMs so that GCMs force the RCMs via the boundaries. That strikes me as likely to produce to produce artifacts similar in spirit to coupling shock. I’d love to see an RC article that kind of walked through this at a level appropriate for armchair climate scientists.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 23 Nov 2010 @ 3:46 PM

  29. If C02 is the largest single contributing factor to the Greenhouse Effect (because supposedly water vapor is only involved as a feedback to primary chemistry involving C02 itself), and C02 lags temperature increases (as has been stated on this very blog), how has the Earth ever returned to colder glacial conditions following periods of warming?

    [Response: This is way OT, but it’s because as the orbit changes the insolation forcing periodically makes it easier to form ice sheets. You have a pacemaker (Milankovitch) and a response. When the pacemaker flips, so will the response. – gavin]

    Comment by Alex Katarsis — 23 Nov 2010 @ 3:57 PM

  30. Non-paywalled copy of Keenlyside et al. here:

    Comment by CM — 23 Nov 2010 @ 4:10 PM

  31. Alex Katarsis: You might also consider that the molecule is “CO2”, not “C02”. Subtle difference (“oh” as in “oxygen”, versus “zero” as in a nonsensical chemical formula), but often a key indicator of the understanding of the writer. (and yes, it does creep in as a typo occasionally, but you made the mistake 3 times in one sentence!).


    [Response: Thanks, but let’s try and keep the grammar/typo police at bay for the most part. – gavin]

    Comment by M — 23 Nov 2010 @ 4:49 PM

  32. Re: ice melt in the arctic

    Seems to me the most recent data were seeing 2/3 as bottom melt, i.e., sea water temps. This will give you an idea.

    Note the greatest effect is found in the east and west, and more balanced in the center. This definitely supports the other research we’ve seen on warmer than expected water in the fjords of Greenland, etc.


    Comment by ccpo — 23 Nov 2010 @ 8:38 PM

  33. A bit obvious (and perhaps requiring too much computer time?), but a suggestion for avoiding coupling shock: take a large number of model runs; for each assign a location in some n-space for indices of the more important modes of (internal) variability (but maybe also include indices for timing relative to and magnitude of eruptions, solar cycles, etc.). The ‘real climate’ (pun not intended but I’ll use it anyway) at any one time will be on a trajectory in this n-space, at a location with some nearest neighbors in the model runs. Some linear (?) combination of those model runs could be used for short term predictions, out to a time horizon limited by the butterfly effect (or to go a bit farther, if the nearest neighbors diverge but remain in a few families, then the prediction can be: ‘likely A or B or C but not everything else’ – and as all the trajectories diverge, they’ll still tend to follow the strange attractor (which itself will be changing via external forcing changes, of course).

    [Response: People have tried that with actual weather forecasts, but the problem is that there are too many degrees of freedom and so you never end up with a model that is ‘close enough’ to the reality to make it useful. It would be good to see this rigourously tested though. – gavin]

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Nov 2010 @ 10:23 PM

  34. out to a time horizon limited by the butterfly effect … plus some additional limitation due to a lower than (?)infinite(?) density of model runs.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 23 Nov 2010 @ 10:44 PM

  35. Fred Pearce [@ the Guardian and New Scientist]

    Do you intend to report this article prominently?

    Comment by deconvoluter — 24 Nov 2010 @ 5:34 AM

  36. Alex Katarsis (29): I think I understand what you’re asking (and I don’t think Gavin does :) ). What you must remember is that (positive) feedback amplify forcings in both directions (relative to current temperatures).

    Warmer temperatures causes more water vapor, which causes more warmth, etc. This is quite correct and often mentioned in climate discussions. What isn’t mentioned, because it’s assumed that people just understand it, is that it works the other way too: If it gets colder for some reason, it will cause less water vapor, which will cause it to get even colder, etc.

    You can substitute “CO2 from the oceans”, “lower albedo”, or any of the other positive feedbacks for water vapor. Technically, they only make the world warmer. But relative to current temperatures, they can make the world either warmer (as in the beginning of an interglacial) or colder (as in the beginning of an ice age).

    Climate scientists may think this is obvious. But I think many people are led to deny global warming because from the part of the argument they understand, they think temperatures have to rise forever. Obviously that can’t be true!

    Comment by Harald Korneliussen — 24 Nov 2010 @ 5:53 AM

  37. #36–

    To elaborate a bit more for Alex (if he’s still following this), here’s the sequence, schematically:

    1) Orbital change increases solar forcing slightly;
    2) Resultant warming raises atmospheric CO2 concentration;
    3) Further warming results, but *eventually achieves a new equilibrium* at a new, higher quasi-stable mean temp;
    4) Orbital change decreases solar forcing slightly;
    5) Resultant cooling lowers CO2;
    6) Further cooling results, until a new cooler equilibrium is reached.

    Of course, in reality there are multiple feedbacks and the “noise” of variability, making this much less clean that the neat schematic. But I think I’ve got the big picture right; and I’m even more confident that, if I haven’t, correction/elaboration will follow!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Nov 2010 @ 8:54 AM

  38. Your temperature plot figure is highly misleading. You connect the 2000-2010 forecast temperature centered on 2005 to the actual observed temperature in 2000, and show a .05C decline, with actual observations showing a 0.1C +/- increase. Hah! forecast not only wrong but in wrong direction. But this in not what Keenlyside et al did. They connected the forecast value to their hindcast value and actually forecast a 0.1C increase between 2000 and 2005, not bad. What was awful was their hindcast in 2008 which missed actual temps by a mile.

    [Response: Pretty sure that this is not the case. Their simulation for 2000-2010 period was initialised with 2000 temperatures from the real world, not from a previous hindcast. The earlier forecast also incorrectly predicted a cooling. The lines on our figure are actual trajectories taken by their model. This is not what was shown in the original paper. – gavin]

    Comment by B Buckner — 24 Nov 2010 @ 1:50 PM

  39. Reading these comments I’m now totally confused. Positive forcing, cooling, warming, wetter, drought. Charts from way back showed us the scary tipping points where temperature increases would consume us. This has clearly not happened. The official line was and still seems to be that 2 degrees warming is what we must avoid by reducing CO2 or end up with catastrophic consequences.
    Am I now to understand that this was wrong and that positive forcing caused by CO2 will create a new ice age? Observations seem to be leading us in that direction.

    [Response: No, not really. – gavin]

    Comment by Titus — 24 Nov 2010 @ 9:15 PM

  40. Re 37 Kevin McKinney – actually, orbitally-forced global annual average changes in TOA solar insolation are very small (in the case of Earth) and depend only on variations in eccentricity (setting aside the idea that there is a plane of dust and the plane of the orbit has a significant effect that way – heard the idea awhile ago, not sure there’s much to support it ?). But eccentricity modulates the effect of precession (the alignment of perihelion and aphelion with solstices or equinoxes) (actually, obliquity does modulate this too, but while obliquity variations have significant effect by themselves, they are relatively small in proportion to the difference with zero obliquity, whereas Earth’s eccentricity variations include getting near zero, where aphelion and perihelion would have no effect as they wouldn’t exist.

    Smaller obliquity transfers annual average insolation from higher latitudes (would make polar regions darker) to lower latitudes and reduces the seasonal ranges (would make winters less dark for less long). (Both hemispheres at the same time)

    Alignment of perihelion near winter solstice would reduce the annual average insolation (because that hemisphere ’tilts away’ from the sun during the time of year when global TOA insolation is largest) while reducing the seasonal range (tendency for cooler summers, warmer winters -but also, longer spring-summer and shorter fall-winter because the Earth’s angular speed around the Sun is faster when Earth is closer to the Sun. (Hemispheres are ~ 180** degrees out of phase)

    The effect of annual average would tend to affect both land and water; seasonal ranges would have a bigger impact on land. So long as winters stay cold (and moist – could be hampered if winters are too cold, ?depending on ocean currents etc.?) enough for enough snow to fall and accumulate, having cooler summers would allow snow cover to linger longer, with an albedo feedback that has a global cooling effect; when last year’s snow never completely melts you can start building an ice sheet.

    If the Earth were completely symmetrical across the equator, the effect of precession would by a ~ 20,000 (I’m rounding) year cycle, but with two cycles of the global average in that time (with perihelion going from solstice to equinox to solstice completing one such global average cycle). Assymetries across the equator allow a ~20,000 year cycle in the global average.

    Without any land, the effects of seasonal cycles are reduced and it is also harder to build up a thick ice sheet (the basal lubrication of sea ice being large). If land masses at high latitudes are too large, the seasonal cycles may be two large, with summers still warm enough to melt snow – also, possibly winters would be too cold to have snow cover thick enough to last, and also much area could be too distant from sources of humidity to get enough snow. The atmospheric circulation and ocean currents are also important, then (and oceanic circulation is also important to biogeochemical feedbacks). Continental drift and biological evolution, and the longer-term climatic state (ie solar brightness and the CO2,etc. level in equilibrium with geologic outgassing and chemical weathering, the later affected by climate but also plate tectonics and biology) modulate the Earth’s response to orbital forcing.

    For the ice age – interglacial variations of the last few million years, a transition occured within the last million years where a 100,000 year timescale seemed to become dominant, whereas previously the variations followed the obliquity (~ 40,000 years) and precession cycles. One possible explanation is that earlier glaciations produced thinner ice sheets because the looser soil/sediment? – that helped lubricate the base – had not been scoured away yet; thinner ice sheets have lower elevations and thus tend to have warmer surfaces. Thicker ice sheets can be more resistant to melting by having colder surfaces (but also depress the crust more, so that when melting occurs, it may leave ocean instead of land (isostatic adjustment being a slow process – from memory, a timescale of ~ 15,000 years ?); possibly only when the eccentricity is large can the ice age be ended during the necessary phase of the precession cycle. Note that there is some hysteresis there; the thresholds for glaciation and deglaciation are not generally at the same point.

    PS Precession cycles continue to affect low-latitude monsoons even when the Earth is not vascillating between ice ages and interglacials.

    (See Ruddiman (from memory: Earth’s Climate – Past and Future), also Hartmann (Global Physical Climatology))

    PS orbital cycles depend on Earth’s rotation speed (via equatorial bulge, which allows tidal forces from the Sun and Moon, etc, to exert a torque on the Earth) and the Moon’s orbit; the Earth has been slowing down (torques on the tidal bulges from the Moon and Sun) and the Moon has been moving out from the Earth (same mechanism; conservation of angular momentum; the Earth’s orbit around the Sun has too much angular momentum and energy to change much in relative terms), so the orbital cycles have varied over time. (Also, they aren’t just three simple exactly repeating cycles because the variables involved affect the cycles.) The eccentricity cycle presumably depends more exclusively on torques on the orbit by the other planets (?). The precession cycle is actually a combined effect of precession of the Earth’s axis (the most obvious forcing of that is the torque on the equatorial bulge from the Moon and Sun) and the shift of the orbit’s semimajor axis, the later being affected by other Planets but also some contribution from relativistic corrections to Newtonian physics, the relative importance of which I don’t know. I saw of graph of the precession cycle once and it appeared to occasionally skip a beat – perhaps when eccentricity got near zero – this makes some intuitive sense at least… (cause of Obliquity cycle is less obvious than precession of axis; perhaps some contribution comes from the Earth-Moon orbit and Earth+Moon – Sun orbit not being in the same plane – although the Moon’s orbit will ‘average’ near the plane of the Earth-Sun orbit over a relatively short time, but there’s lunar orbit eccentricity, etc, … residuals might build up … ? – of course there are people who understand this much better.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 25 Nov 2010 @ 12:57 AM

  41. …’vascillating’ between ice ages and interglacials – maybe the wrong word choice for that…?

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 25 Nov 2010 @ 1:01 AM

  42. Earlier this week an article was published that seems to be very relevant for the present discussion on cooling/ lack of warming. The authors of the article realized that there will be no direct one-on-one relation between cosmic radiation and cloudiness, since there are several other requirements for cloud formation. They turned around the question: when there is a sudden change in cloudiness, is there also a change in the amount of cosmic radiation measured? The answer is clearly yes.

    [Moderator please ignore if already received, got confused with the ReCaptcha]

    Comment by wilt — 25 Nov 2010 @ 6:14 AM

  43. I just do not know how the K08 paper got published, let alone in Nature. The reviewers seem not judging the paper by scienctific evidence, but by their loving of “global cooling”.

    Comment by jy — 25 Nov 2010 @ 8:54 AM


    [Response: What does this have to do with the topic at hand? – gavin]

    Comment by john — 25 Nov 2010 @ 9:51 AM

  45. Ever since someone posted the link to this anomaly animation here (thanks) I have been watching it often, especially these days, because I’m in Oslo, and it has been so cold here for a few weeks, while it appears to have been warm pretty much everywhere else in the northern hemisphere except for the north pole. Watching the current animation, it occurs to me that I don’t know how these concentrations of heat and cold come about. And then when I watch the current pressure animation for the same period, it appears that the red areas of high temps build up from waves of high pressure followed by low pressure passing through. Is the repeating compression/expansion of the air forcing energy to be picked up from some areas and left behind in others? And what fraction of the daily average temperature is due to new energy from the sun?



    Comment by Martin Smith — 25 Nov 2010 @ 9:55 AM

  46. Re:44,
    I agree that this link is somewhat OT, but ‘cloudiness’ is indeed a last-gasp topic of AGW deniers. So, I would have appreciated even a little technical comment from you Gavin on it – (btw, not trying to ‘trick’ you but, I have respected your technical views on Climate topics previously above almost everybody elses).

    Second point: In a post in another recent thread, I stated that some of the data in the NASA ‘Eyes on the Earth’ Website was quite out of date (especially Greenland ice melt. Do you have any influence to correct it?


    [Response: Send the page link you are discussing and I’ll investigate. – gavin]

    Comment by Clippo — 25 Nov 2010 @ 12:03 PM

  47. watch out, Gavin. The usual deniers have now teamed up and brought out a new book, ‘Slaying the Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory.’ Might be something there you want to pick apart.

    [Response: This is pretty far out. Might be amusing to have Lindezn and Spencer debunk it. – gavin]

    [Further Response: I had a closer look: definitely more Buffy than Beowulf. – gavin]

    Comment by Jeff Daley — 25 Nov 2010 @ 5:24 PM


    “[Response: What does this have to do with the topic at hand? – gavin]”

    It’s the cat’s meow on WUWT today…so clearly important to John of comment #44. You can tell by all the insight and discussion he added while providing the link.

    Comment by Benjamin P. — 25 Nov 2010 @ 8:22 PM

  49. 36/37:

    Thank you for the explanations and the sequence. The part I’m now failing to comprehend is 37 item 3: “Further warming results, but *eventually achieves a new equilibrium* at a new, higher quasi-stable mean temp”. This is primarily because Item 2 doesn’t explain “when” or “by how much” – since SEE OH TOO lags temperature. Seriously now, since the orbital changes can be calculated precisely and the CO2 concentrations can also be derived via experimentation (that is apparently very accurate also), can’t we create a very accurate model of the natural cooling process? It just seems odd to attribute the cooling, in effect, to the “eccentricities” of the sun in a time of warming and lagging GHG concentration. Isn’t there some other catalyst?

    Comment by Alex Katarsis — 25 Nov 2010 @ 10:07 PM

  50. This is an aside, but Shu Wu at UW-Madison (with whom I played a secondary role in piecing together a Journal of Climate article with that has been submitted over the summer) has shown, somewhat counter-intuitively, that persistence forecasting based off of the last year in a set of say, 10 years, provides a better baseline for comparison than the running mean of that 10 years, within the framework of red noise process(which also extends to damped persistence forecasting). This provides a better benchmark for comparison since persistence is often used as a mark to beat for decadal-scale prediction studies.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 25 Nov 2010 @ 11:24 PM

  51. Why are you using a ten year mean? I assume the forecast numbers are not 10 year means, so what is the basis for that choice? I’m not saying Keenlyside et al got anything right, they obviously didn’t. However, I think if you plotted their forecasts against a two or three year running average they wouldn’t look nearly as bad. I’m not sure about this, and the fact that people on both sides of the debate tend to carefully choose a y-axis scale that makes graphs look a particular way doesn’t help. I do seem to remember that the HadCRUT3 linear annual global temperature trend for the last 10 years was almost flat, though that may be an outdated recollection that doesn’t include the recent record months that 2010 contained. Regardless, I just thought the choice of showing 10 year means every five years was a bit unusual and wondered if there was a reason for it. Thanks.

    [Response: All of the averaging choices are the ones used in K08. – gavin]

    Comment by Bradley — 25 Nov 2010 @ 11:26 PM

  52. I noted a few things reading through “Cosmic rays linked to rapid mid-latitude cloud changes” (the OT paper).

    “….the differential cloud change (dcc) of each day is equal to daily average cloud change (x), minus an averaging period of three days which begins five days prior to each date,… ”
    “The VIS anomalies are slightly smaller than their IR-detected counterparts; such differences between the IR/VIS channels are likely attributable to the limited observing periodicity of VIS detections, which are restricted to the circle of illumination, and are therefore unable to consider cloud amount during night-time periods. Consequently, this produces differences in the daily averaged cloud amounts observed between IR/VIS channels.”

    Looking at their figure 3, the IR(day-night average) anomalies are ~3-5 times larger than the VIS(daytime). In the case where there is, for example, a 3% VIS(daytime) anomaly, and a correlated 9% IR(day-night average) anomaly, there must be a 15% nighttime anomaly – (3% +15%)/2 = 18%/2 = 9% average. This is true for negative (blue) and positive(red) “first order derivative” changes in cloud cover anomalies – note the areas northeast of the coast of Brazil and north of Australia. Nighttime increases in cloud cover will contribute to global warming – only daytime changes and the concurrent increase in albedo would give negative forcing.

    “…a second-order relationship may be more likely (i.e. that cloud changes only occur with GCR changes if atmospheric conditions are suitable). Indeed, evidence of second order relationships between GCR and cloud variations has been implied by the results of Harrison and Ambaum (2009).”

    IMHO, another second order relationship may be acting. The suitable atmospheric conditions for cloud formation are moisture, dew point temperatures, and cloud condensation nuclei. GCRs are posited to increase the availability of CCN. The physics underlying the lapse rate will insure dew point temperatures at some level in the atmospheric column, although the level will increase with global warming (the resulting high(er) clouds may give a positive feedback). Warmer surface temperatures will result in more moisture available for cloud formation (see the work of Richard Lindzen). This paper shows that GCR changes which increase cloudiness result in bigger nighttime changes, which should be warming: why wouldn’t increases in water vapor due to global warming, with suitable GCRs/CCN and temperature conditions, do the same thing?

    This paper is another nail in the Lindzen Iris Effect coffin.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 25 Nov 2010 @ 11:38 PM

  53. 1 Todd Albert and 17 Vendicar Decarian: Humans continue to believe wrong theories despite not only contradictory evidence but also severe punishment.
    Reference”Merchants of Doubt” by Oreskes and Conway pages 237 and 238: “This is the common thread that ties these diverse issues together: they were all market failures. They are instances where serious damage was done and the free market seemed unable to account for it, much less prevent it. Government intervention was required. This is why free market ideologues and Cold Warriors joined together to fight them. Accepting that by-products of industrial civilization were irreparably damaging the global environment was to accept the reality of market failure. It was to acknowledge the limits of free market capitalism.

    Orwell understood that those in power will always seek to control history, because whoever controls the past controls the present. So our Cold Warriors—Fred Seitz and Fred Singer, Robert Jastrow and Bill Nierenberg, and later Dixy Lee Ray, too, who had dedicated their lives to fighting Soviet Communism, joined forces with the self-appointed defenders of the free market to blame the messenger, to undermine science, to deny the truth, and to market doubt. People who began their careers as fact finders ended them as fact fighters. Evidently accepting that their ends justified their means , they embraced the tactics of their enemy, the very things they had hated Soviet Communism for: its lies, its deceits, its denial of the very realities it had created.”

    Formerly great scientists had apparently taken economic theory as a religion rather than as a theory with limits of applicability like any other theory. Somehow economics became more important or more of a religion than science. Adam Smith was born in 1723 and died in 1790. His theories worked well in the 18th Century. The problems appeared in the 20th Century.

    Humans can falter by believing other ideas ahead of science as well. Those other ideas do not get tested and so may be called religions. Those ideas that are fenced off from testing are our problem. Suggestions are welcome on how to unlock those minds so that the fenced-off ideas may be tested.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 26 Nov 2010 @ 1:43 AM

  54. Re: 50. The authors of the article on cosmic rays and cloud changes clearly indicate (both in the abstract and in their Fig. 5) that a decrease in cloudiness (linked to a decrease in cosmic rays) is associated with an INCREASE of surface level air temperature, in other words clouds give negative feedback. I think it is not fair to spin these findings in a way that suggests that overall there would be positive feedback in such a situation, as proposed by Brian Dodge (“high clouds may give a positive feedback”). Even when some warming would result during nighttime, this is clearly more than compensated by the cooling effect during daytime.
    Also, I would prefer if you discuss the contents of the article and its implications, rather than avoid this discussion by applying stereotypic labels about nails in someone’s coffin.

    Comment by wilt — 26 Nov 2010 @ 2:54 AM

  55. Not quite OT: Kjell Aleklett

    Heard the self-styled “inconvenient swede” speak last night. I’d be interested in realer’s take on his group’s paper on peaking and the IPCC Emission Scenarios (here). Rather contradicts Kharecha and Hanson.

    I have my own view (that the “peak coal” analysis is deeply flawed), but what do RC (and others here) think?


    Comment by GlenFergus — 26 Nov 2010 @ 3:38 AM

  56. AK: SEE OH TOO lags temperature.

    BPL: Not always, and even when it does it warms the surface. Please read:

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 26 Nov 2010 @ 5:18 AM

  57. re: 46 – the right hand drop down panel saying ‘land ice’

    I haven’t investigated whether the other drop down panel’s information is up to date.


    [Response: They are referencing the GRACE results from the Velicogna group. I’m not sure that they provide updates in real time… – gavin]

    Comment by Clippo — 26 Nov 2010 @ 5:21 AM

  58. Re: #53 – “Adam Smith was born in 1723 and died in 1790. His theories worked well in the 18th Century. The problems appeared in the 20th Century.”

    Actually not. The Wealth of Nations isn’t a description of 18th century economic life, its a polemic attacking contemporary British society. Smith’s Britain was a mercantilist society with a strongly interventionist government, the second highest tax rates in Europe, and the largest per capita bureaucracy in Europe. The 18th century society that most closely approximated Smith’s economic model was Qing China. The latter came to grief, partly from over-population and environmental degradation, in the early 19th century. The former gestated the Industrial Revolution.

    [Response: This is OT. No responses please. – gavin]

    Comment by Roger Albin — 26 Nov 2010 @ 12:11 PM

  59. Edward Greisch (53), I’m not sure I get your point, but if it is that free market enterprise is short of a perfect panacea there is no objection by even barely reasonable people. Pure free market enterprise is pure laissez faire which provides near zero effectiveness. It is simple to find any number of situations where free market enterprise falls short; there are prima facie deficiencies in Adam Smith’s system. But on the other hand free market enterprise and Smith’s capitalism, appropriately systematized, has proven far more effective than any other (which doesn’t say other systems don’t have any good points). That is true and applicable for today. Because it require some governmental control, guidelines, and tweaking does not justify lambasting free market enterprise in the least, if that is your point.

    The fact that some might elevate free market enterprise to near absolute religion detracts from those people but not from the system; just as some who drive AGW to a religious status doesn’t detract from the science itself.

    Comment by Rod B — 26 Nov 2010 @ 12:33 PM

  60. re: #57
    Thank you Gavin.

    But the problem still remains. For example, in the NASA website, they quote 24 cu miles Greenland ice sheet loss, presumably for 2002.

    Yet in good ‘ole wiki, from peer-reviewed literature I think, the loss rate in 2006 was approx 57 cu mile and in 2007 was 142 cu mile.

    As an ‘amateur’ in Climate Science, I like to keep up with developments. I use a number of favourite websites/sources, such as RC, Wiki NASA / NOAA etc. and many scienblogs, so I find it confusing with so much variable data.

    Please stay on the case. (smile)

    Comment by Clippo — 26 Nov 2010 @ 2:54 PM

  61. 59 Rod B: No. The point is that what we are fighting are deeply held beliefs such as economic theories that people learned before they learned science. Where did that global cooling bet come from? It came from an inability to question some deeply held belief, such as a religious belief in free markets.

    MY comment 53 is about human psychology, not about economics. It is human psychology that things like global cooling bets come from. Of course global cooling bets also come from money paid by rich people who want to stay rich without innovating. I thought that the quote from “Merchants of Doubt” expressed the problem rather well, but it seems that I was wrong about that.

    When I was an undergraduate student, I did a great deal of “philosophical work” along with my homework. I discarded and replaced nonsensical beliefs and “common sense” that my parents gave me. It seems that there are other beliefs in other people that can escape scrutiny during the undergraduate years.

    In order to prevent future global cooling bets, we need to attack the source of the global cooling bets. Attacking the global cooling bets themselves does not prevent more global cooling bets from being generated. Attacking the source is very difficult for cultural reasons. Is this clear enough now?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 26 Nov 2010 @ 3:43 PM

  62. We haven’t warmed like the 20+ IPCC models predicted 10 years ago so why are you picking nits with a single paper that didn’t get it right for the last 2 years? People who live in glass houses…

    [Response: Wrong. – gavin]

    Comment by William Jackson — 26 Nov 2010 @ 4:25 PM

  63. @ wilt — 26 November 2010 @ 2:54 AM “a decrease in cloudiness (linked to a decrease in cosmic rays) is associated with an INCREASE of surface level air temperature, in other words clouds give negative feedback.”

    Actually, a transient detrended decrease in cloudiness(e.g. “….the differential cloud change (dcc) of each day is equal to daily average cloud change (x), minus an averaging period of three days which begins five days prior to each date,… “), linked to a transient decrease in cosmic rays, is associated with a transient increase of surface level air temperature. “the units of GCR changes used here are given as “GU”, defined as a change of 1% of the 11-year solar cycle amplitude in four days. All other units given in this work are similarly defined, where temperature change is denoted “KU” (a change of 1K in four days) and cloud change is denoted “CU” (a change of 1% cloud cover in four days) etc.).”

    We’ve seen claims about global warming trends based on detrended data before – McLean, de Freitas and Carter, dissected at

    Higher clouds are an expected effect of warming, and to first order, independent of GCRs – see Note the increase in high clouds (Fig2b3) and decrease in low clouds (Fig2e1) downwind of S America in the equatorial trade winds..The second order effect of increasing cloudiness caused by more GCRs when “atmospheric conditions are suitable” for the formation of high clouds due to the other effects of global warming should be warming.

    If one takes the long term (not detrended) GCR data from Oulu, and HadCRUT global temperature, and compares them, more GCRs correlates with higher, not lower temperatures. see and

    for spin and “stereotypic labels” one need not look any further than Lindzen pandering to the folks[1] at the Heartland Institute –

    “…this is indicative of the extent to which climate science has been
    corrupted over a period of more than twenty years.”

    “The second might be called opportunism of the weak. Here, scientists whose work would
    normally be regarded as weak and unimpressive, gain note by molding their results to the needs
    of the alarmists in the environmental movement.

    “They also artificially swell the numbers of scientists who endorse the alarmist view.”

    “…the fact that the global mean temperature anomaly ceased increasing by the mid nineties…” Does he think we’re stupid?
    Well, yes. “The (IPCC) argument makes arguments in support of intelligent design sound rigorous by comparison.”
    “Perhaps most important, these results will of necessity ‘offend the sensibilities of the of the educated classes and the entire East and West Coasts,’ and who would want to do that.”

    [1] by “folks”, I mean proudly and willfully ignorant denialists.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 26 Nov 2010 @ 6:51 PM

  64. @ Brian Dodge (#63). Just two remarks: you keep on saying that the effect of increased cloudiness ‘should be warming’, whereas the data shown in the article clearly show the opposite (more clouds cause lower surface level air temperatures). And the use of detrended data apparently was not a problem for the referees of the journal where the article was published (which by the way has the highest impact factor in the field of meteorology and atmospheric sciences).
    And without going into all remarks made by Lindzen: when he concludes that global mean temperature anomaly ceased increasing by the mid nineties he appears to be in good company (Phil Jones in the BBC interview, Susan Solomon in her Nature article earlier this year).

    Comment by wilt — 27 Nov 2010 @ 3:23 AM

  65. wilt: if you are going to lie about what Phil Jones said, then I really don’t see any reason to take anything else you say seriously. Brian has more patience than I do. Perhaps you should stop abusing his patience and go and get your facts straight?

    Comment by Didactylos — 27 Nov 2010 @ 9:50 AM

  66. Yes Wilt, the “global mean temperature anomaly ceased increasing” (in) the mid nineties, just as it did in the mid-every-decade since 1900, but “ceased increasing BY…” implies that it never resumed increasing, maybe you need a longer term view – or maybe we’ll be fine because we can assume from the trend a “ceasation of increase” by the middle of the current decade?

    Comment by flxible — 27 Nov 2010 @ 10:36 AM

  67. re #64, 65, Phil Jones and warming since 1995
    (almost on topic, since it’s about the “global cooling” meme):

    As we all remember, an interviewer early this year finagled out of Phil Jones a statement that the warming since 1995 (a carefully chosen year) is just shy of statistically significant. This has been misrepresented ever since as a statement that there’s been no global warming since 1995. As we all know (wilt excepted), that’s not the case.

    But out of idle curiosity: Nine pretty warm months down the road from the BBC interview, would the warming in HadCRUT since 1995 happen to be statistically significant yet?

    Comment by CM — 27 Nov 2010 @ 10:45 AM

  68. wilt,

    You hear what you want to believe, you say what you hear, you believe what you say.

    Infinite loop.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 27 Nov 2010 @ 11:36 AM

  69. To CM (#67) and others commenting on significance or insignificance of global warming since 1995: one can have different views here. To me, if there is no statistically significant increase over a period of 15 years, then the forcing effect seems to be rather weak. But this remark on temperature increase (or lack of it) was only a sideline in a previous comment that actually was dealing with a publication on cosmic rays and cloudiness that yields an important new perspective in my view. See my earlier comment # 42 and the link

    Comment by wilt — 27 Nov 2010 @ 1:08 PM

  70. wilt, the paper you cite describes what in their view is a ‘small but statistically significant effect of cosmic rays on cloud formation, which in no way invalidates the large and significant effects of human emissions on the current anthropogenic radiative forcing budget of the atmosphere.

    “The climatic forcings resulting from such solar – terrestrial links may have
    had a significant impact on climate prior to the onset of anthropogenic

    For you to think or state otherwise is disingenuous.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 27 Nov 2010 @ 1:43 PM

  71. Wilt says, “…one can have different views here. To me, if there is no statistically significant increase over a period of 15 years, then the forcing effect seems to be rather weak.”

    Uh, actually, no. One cannot have different views. First 15 years is way to short to assess significance. Second, I think it is rather perverse to state that there has been no siginificant warming when the past decade was the warmest on record, and when the past year is on track to be close to the warmest on record. One can have different views on this only if one is willing to distort the facts.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Nov 2010 @ 3:18 PM

  72. Lindzen mis-representing the science again.
    I guess we’ll see a take-down of this soon?

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 27 Nov 2010 @ 5:00 PM

  73. wilt 69: on significance or insignificance of global warming since 1995: one can have different views here.

    BPL: No, one cannot. “Significance” to a scientist is a particular number, a measurement based on data. It’s not an opinion about how important something is. You need to crack an introductory statistics book.

    To get a good climate trend you need 30 years of data. Got that? 30 years. Or more.

    1995 to the present is 16 years. No, the trend isn’t significant. Yes, the trend if you use enough data IS signifiant, extremely so. And we have data going back 160 years. Why do you only want to use the last 15 years of data?

    wilt: To me, if there is no statistically significant increase over a period of 15 years, then the forcing effect seems to be rather weak.

    BPL: Again, it’s not up to your subjective judgment.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 27 Nov 2010 @ 6:10 PM

  74. wilt has clearly shown himself, here and in earlier threads, to be a troll. Trolls like nothing more than to become the center of attention, derailing serious conversation and getting people frustrated. The best solution (short of moderators banning or censoring them) is to ignore them. I plan to do so. I invite others to do the same.

    Comment by wili — 27 Nov 2010 @ 7:57 PM

  75. I seem to recall reading (maybe @ Tamino?) that some level of statistical significance can be achieved for periods shorter than 30 years, but not 15 years because fluctuations in things like solar + ocean-atmosphere heat exchange make it hard to say with high confidence what’s signal and what’s noise. I get the impression it was pretty well expected that at this point the overall trend should still subject to significant modulation over short periods by natural variability.

    Comment by Ryan T — 27 Nov 2010 @ 11:15 PM

  76. Thomas Lee Elifritz (#70), you quote the authors: “The climatic forcings resulting from such solar – terrestrial links may have
    had a significant impact on climate prior to the onset of anthropogenic warming”. Do you (or anyone with some common sense) really believe that if this phenomenon has a significant effect on climate, such an effect would disappear at the moment that CO2 starts to increase?! In my view, what the authors admit here is that in recent decades others factors like increased CO2 will have had an effect on climate as well. I have no problems with that conclusion. And it certainly does not undermine the main conclusion of the article that a link has been established between changes in cosmic rays and changes in cloudiness.

    Comment by wilt — 28 Nov 2010 @ 5:33 AM

  77. On significant trends–significance depends on how strong the trend is vs how strong the short term variability is. In other words, it depends on the system one is measuring. Climate is notoriously ‘noisy’, so it typically takes >15 years to make out a trend of the current size of the global warming trend inside the typical interannual variation.

    Comment by Mitch Lyle — 28 Nov 2010 @ 8:14 AM

  78. Who is watching the lawsuits against the EPA? The claims being made in the legal papers are right out of the denier fiction, but they’re being asserted to the judges as facts.

    “EPA (really the IPCC) treated the “greenhouse effect” as the sole driver of climate change, CRR Br. 40-42, and so of course its models predict overwhelming effects from greenhouse gases….”
    Case: 10-1131 Document: 1276370 Filed: 11/08/2010 Page: 11

    They switch statistical arguments in mid-paragraph like this:

    “EPA admits essentially no change in temperatures for the last decade, despite increasing GHG concentrations. RTC 2-41. EPA attributes this to a “natural variability” it does not identify or explain, id., which is precisely the point: Warming trends are attributed to increases in GHGs, while cooling trends are attributed to unexplained natural forcings. EPA also dismisses this data with the assertion that “examining trends over five to ten years” may be misleading. EPA Br. 37. But EPA is perfectly willing to rely on five- to ten-year trends when they support its desired conclusion. See, e.g., RTC-1-43 (citing a 2009 Report from the Academies of Science to assert that declines in arctic ice cover ….”
    Case: 10-1131 Document: 1276370 Filed: 11/08/2010 Page: 12

    (well, duh … different data sets; the length of time needed is figured based on the data set. Global annual temp variation needs the longer time span to get a valid statistical trend.)

    For wilful ignorance, selective quotation, and distortion, the blog scientists have nothing on the lawyers who are arguing against the EPA.

    You know how to look this stuff up. Is anyone keeping track of the science as presented through the filter of the lawyers involved? There are many different cases; the judges are slowly merging related ones.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Nov 2010 @ 11:32 AM

  79. Okay, on detecting trends — here:
    “… there has to be a time span over which our result for describing climate does not depend much on how long a time span we choose. For average climate temperature, we found 20-30 years as the appropriate time span. I didn’t show the figures then, but it’s in the program and output you can pick up from my web site that this is also the appropriate time span for deciding a climate temperature variance ….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Nov 2010 @ 11:35 AM

  80. #72 My gods, Lindzen even parrots the “climate change –or as it was once referred to: global warming.”

    Question for Lindzen: When was “once”? Certainly before the International Panel on Climate Change was formed.

    And before Plass’s 1956 paper The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change

    So just when was the ONCE that Lindzen refers to?

    Comment by JiminMpls — 28 Nov 2010 @ 12:33 PM

  81. wilt 76: Do you (or anyone with some common sense) really believe that if this phenomenon has a significant effect on climate, such an effect would disappear at the moment that CO2 starts to increase?!

    BPL: Here’s some homework for you, wilt. Find time series data for the effects you’re talking about and FIND OUT what’s happened to them in recent years. And once again–please open an introductory statistics book.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 28 Nov 2010 @ 2:28 PM

  82. 72 Hugh Laue: “Lindzen mis-representing the science again.” YES he is. That is why the new denialist representatives want him there, speaking to congress. I just sent an email about it to my outgoing representative. I think my new representative is a denialist. Thanks for killing my appetite; I needed that.

    What are we going to do now? Lindzen is telling the denialists in the new congress exactly what they want to hear. There will be new global cooling bets, this time betting the planet. Does anybody have a plan?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 28 Nov 2010 @ 4:11 PM

  83. A plan: See:
    “New psychological research finds that dire messages about the threat of global warming will strengthen people’s acceptance of climate science when combined with solutions, which is the approach taken by leading climate activists. For some people, their response to dire messages is strongly dependent on whether hope is offered.”

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 28 Nov 2010 @ 4:16 PM

  84. “Cloud water content as gauged by the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) reaches a minimum ~7 days after the Forbush minimum
    in cosmic rays…” Svensmark et al, “Cosmic ray decreases affect atmospheric aerosols and clouds”, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS,

    “…the GCR flux undergoes a statistically significant decrease (1.2 GU) centred on the key date of the composite; these changes correspond to widespread statistically significant decreases in cloud change (3.5 CU, 1.9 CU globallyaveraged)…” Laken et al “Cosmic rays linked to rapid mid-latitude cloud changes”, Atmos. Chem. Phys.,

    I wonder why Laken et al don’t see the same lag from GCR(decrease) to cloud formation(decrease) that Svensmark et al did. Out of respect for some of the readers of this blog, I will refrain from snarkily pointing out that they can’t both be right.

    “…the units of GCR changes used here are given as ‘GU’, defined as a change of 1% of the 11-year solar cycle amplitude in four days. All other units
    given in this work are similarly defined, where temperature change is denoted ‘KU’ (a change of 1K in four days) and cloud change is denoted ‘CU’ (a change of 1% cloud cover in four days) etc.). ”

    The 1.2 GU decrease in GCR (presumably) causes a 1.9 CU decrease in clouds; according to their figure 5A, a 5 CU change in clouds (~+1 to -4) results in a 0.15 degree K change in temperature. This would cause a change of 4.75 degrees K for the 100% reference change in GCR over the 11 year solar cycle (and a non physical decrease of more than 100% in cloud cover – are negative high clouds cooling and negative low clouds warming? &;>). Since this isn’t the case (see my previous post), the effect must be nonlinear, decreasing for larger changes in GCR, or transient, fading away over time.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 28 Nov 2010 @ 7:37 PM

  85. Barton Paul Levenson (#81) suggests that I find out what happened to the cosmic rays/ cloudiness effect in recent years. I am not sure I understand what he means. The data in the Atmos.Chem.Phys. article were all derived from the 1986-2006 period, I would call that pretty recent. As for statistics, it seems to me that the important thing here is whether the statistics used in the article is robust. It seems OK to me, and more importantly it seemed OK to the referees of this high-impact journal.

    Comment by wilt — 29 Nov 2010 @ 2:39 AM

  86. #72, Ref: Lindzen’s congressional testimony.

    Dr. Lindzen surely is missing the point. According to him, the feedback from clouds is negative. He points to the early faint sun paradox, claiming that the negative feedback due to clouds is the reason that the oceans did not freeze in that epoch. But, the last comment he offers refers to the probable return of Ice Age conditions in a few thousand years. Does it seem odd to anyone else that his theory would also have prevented the formation of the great ice sheets called Ice Ages, which have dominated the paleoclimate record over the past 3 million years (mol)? Aren’t the Milankovitch orbital parameters rather small to initiate Ice Age conditions in themselves, or is there a positive feedback within the climate system which amplifies any small change in forcing, both toward cooling as well as warming?

    Another point which Lindzen appears to get wrong is from the facts about the warming after the LGM. As I understand it, the sea level record indicates that the melting of the great ice sheets covering parts of the NH began some 16k years ago. Lindzen claims that the warming in the NH lags that of the SH by some 4k years, yet, the sea level data would seem to imply a much smaller lag time. An apparent lag in temperature seen in the Greenland ice cores might be an artifact of the proximity of the large Laurentide Ice Sheet, which would have limited the near surface air temperature to the freezing point, as happens over summer sea-ice now.

    E. S.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 29 Nov 2010 @ 10:17 AM

  87. There is an article in the Guardian that reports on some new papers on climate hange that will appear tomorrow (Nov 30) in the Royal Society’s publication. Their stuff is free through Nov 30 (UK time).

    Comment by Snapple — 29 Nov 2010 @ 11:47 AM

  88. #85 Are you surprised Dr. Lindzen is still at MIT considering he is so ignorant about the clouds as you point out.

    Comment by john — 29 Nov 2010 @ 2:29 PM

  89. Speaking of predictions, there’s a special issue of Phil Trans A just out, on a 4 degree warmer world. Lots of the papers are free access:

    Comment by SteveF — 29 Nov 2010 @ 4:11 PM

  90. Have a look at this. Lee Fang was very good on Koch brothers and now he’s got another (hat tip to Tenney Naumer who just posted the articles cited below as well as others, including a trenchant “A Climate Whodunit: Science Nails the Blame Game” from Newsweek’s Sharon Begley.

    “Tim Phillips, The Man Behind The ‘Americans For Prosperity’ Corporate Front Group Factory
    “The rate at which the Koch Industries funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) churns out front groups to promote its right-wing corporate agenda sets the organization out among similar conservative “think tanks.” …. a familiar pattern AFP has used for their other front groups: create a new stand alone website, fill it with lines like “We are people just like you” to give the site a grassroots feel, and then use the new group to recruit supporters and run deceptive advertisements attacking reform. This “astroturfing” model has been used by AFP to launch groups pushing distortions against other progressive priorities:
    “– The “Hot Air Tour” promoting global warming skepticism and attacking environmental regulations.
    “– “Free Our Energy,” a group promoting increased domestic drilling.
    “– “No Climate Tax,” a group dedicated to the defeat of Clean Energy Economy legislation.”

    “In 2011, Phillips announced, his organization plans to drive a wedge between Congress and the EPA, to increase attacks on climate science, and to attempt to discredit clean energy jobs, creating the impression that the American people support a pollution agenda (even though polls show the opposite).”
    [lots more, please take a look, this is the more damning of the two]

    Babylonia Insaftso (should, but couldn’t, resist)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 29 Nov 2010 @ 4:27 PM

  91. John sez:

    #85 Are you surprised Dr. Lindzen is still at MIT considering he is so ignorant about the clouds as you point out.

    Well, among other things, he’s tenured …

    Comment by dhogaza — 29 Nov 2010 @ 4:30 PM

  92. Those Royal Society papers are only free thru Nov 30. That would be UK time.

    Comment by Snapple — 29 Nov 2010 @ 4:56 PM

  93. “Those Royal Society papers are only free thru Nov 30. That would be UK time.”

    Plenty of them are Open Access so they’ll be free to read forever (or until a 4 degree world melts the internet or something). For the others, yes get a move on to download.

    Comment by SteveF — 29 Nov 2010 @ 6:16 PM

  94. Here is what they wrote:

    To celebrate Open Access Week and the 350th Anniversary of the Royal Society we are making our entire digital archive free to access from 18 October to 30 November 2010.

    Comment by Snapple — 29 Nov 2010 @ 6:49 PM

  95. Sorry for going off topic, but wanted to make it clear as it’s an interesting volume – the the blue coloured papers in the Phil Trans volume are Open Access (Or Exis Open Choice in this instance). Which means they are put up for free permanently. A number of other generally paid subscription journals, such as PNAS, also do this. This is distinct from the fact that the Royal Society have opened up their digital content for a month or so. So the blue ones will be readable without subscription beyond the 30th of November. Anyway, carry on with the previously scheduled conversation.

    Comment by SteveF — 29 Nov 2010 @ 7:42 PM

  96. 90 Susan Anderson: Thanks. I sent a letter to the editor of my local paper on that.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 30 Nov 2010 @ 3:11 AM

  97. OT, but yesterday online I was assured that the Royal Society is an “ultra-elitist environmental organization.”

    Who knew? Here I thought they are one of the world’s premier (and possibly oldest) scientific societies!–and official advisory body to HM’s government.


    Of course, the guy doing the assuring thinks that the point of Cancun is to bankrupt the developed world and reduce it to Third world status. I asked him who the “they” were who intended such a thing and was told–“bankers!”

    A connection I hadn’t made, myself. . . but I suppose we can’t count on MSM to tell us that Cancun is actually swarming with them this week.

    (Sorry, the bemusement gets to be a bit much sometimes.)

    [Response: And note the complete disconnect with the talking point of last month that climate policy was apparently designed to prevent clean water and health care being provided to the poor. – gavin]

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 30 Nov 2010 @ 9:42 AM

  98. 49 (Alex),

    Consider this scenario. There is a stalled car at the (level) peak of a hill. I give it a shove. It starts down the hill and accelerates all the way, until it crashes at the bottom. Who caused the crash, gravity and the inclination of the hill, or my little, almost insignificant shove? I only gave it a tiny little shove, so it’s hard to blame me. But the ground was flat to start with. The inclination of the hill clearly got steeper and steeper as the car moved further down the hill, but inclination clearly lagged velocity, so how can inclination have been a factor in the car’s ultimate demise?

    Does it seem like there must have been some other catalyst?

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 30 Nov 2010 @ 11:05 AM

  99. I would like to encourage Gavin to create a computer climate model made entirely from dominoes, peanut butter and ants, run it through several iterations, and publish a paper on it, all within the next week.

    That way, we can get a new post on RC, one focused on a scientific achievement of some small merit, and so we can get away from the tireless, meandering ramblings of politics and anti-science, fueled and dominated by the same small crew of five or six hardcore deniers, who simply want to say the same, tired, wrong things over and over and over until I feel like I never want to visit RC again.

    Of course, deniers will immediately recognize that Gavin’s choice of smooth versus chunky peanut butter, and red versus black ants, and odd versus even numbered dominoes, all biased the model towards a preplanned warming trend, as later confirmed by his personal text messages, to be released on WikiLeaks in coming months. DominoPeanutButterAntTextGate will then go on for years.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 30 Nov 2010 @ 11:16 AM

  100. Re wilt (currently number 85 @ 29 November 2010 at 2:39 AM)

    This may help you then.

    The Yooper

    Comment by Daniel Bailey — 30 Nov 2010 @ 11:58 AM

  101. #88 “Are you surprised Dr. Lindzen is still at MIT considering he is so ignorant about the clouds as you point out.

    Lindzen is not the only voice of MIT. Other researchers who are publishing in Peer reviewed journals think it may get a lot warmer. Below is a news release from MIT. The spam filter won’t let me put in the url, so go to the web site and search Ronald Prinn. He is director of MIT’s Center for Global Change Science

    “The most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century shows that without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago – and could be even worse than that.”
    “The study uses the MIT Integrated Global Systems Model. The new projections, published this month in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate, indicate a median probability of surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100, with a 90% probability range of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees. This can be compared to a median projected increase in the 2003 study of just 2.4 degrees. “

    Comment by Sir — 30 Nov 2010 @ 12:12 PM

  102. Re: Daniel Bailey (#100)

    Thank you for the link that you provided.
    Unfortunately, it is not very helpful. Although I did not have the time to study all details of the document, I noticed that already in the very first part of this document an incorrect statement is given about the solar magnetic field. I quote the whole paragraph here: “Solar magnetic field strength correlates strongly with other solar activity, such as TSI and sunspot number. As is the case with these other solar attributes, solar magnetic field has not changed appreciably over the past three decades (Lockwood 2001).”
    However, in the abstract of the Lockwood article it is stated that the strength of the solar magnetic field “has risen, on average, by an estimated 34% since 1963 and by 140% since 1900.”
    Apart from this, in my view there is nothing in the document that directly contradicts that the observations and conclusions of the Atmos. Chem. Phys. article may be correct. I would advise you to read it, or at least read the abstract.

    Comment by wilt — 30 Nov 2010 @ 2:31 PM

  103. The metaphor seems a little forced. To make it feel more appropriate, let’s change your small shove to a natural occurrence – like a strong burst of wind or a charging moose – the fact would be that the cause was not the deliberate action of a self-aware individual, and, in fact, there are any number of factors that could have caused the slight shove. We can guess that it was the wind, but we don’t know for certain. Especially if there was a bag of beef jerky in the back seat and the windows were open. Next, the element that is lagging (the delta of inclination) is meant to be synonymous with CO2 lagging temperature, but the C02 increase lag is at least partially effected by temperature, where as the inclination of the hill won’t change whether the wind is blowing or not. Also, there is huge potential energy in that system, and it’s not hard to calculate or visualize the nature of that potential energy in advance. A slight nudge can be considered a severe act in a system with as much potential energy as this one has. But all in all, the patronizing should wait until after all of my questions and comments are published – which will be lagging by at least 800 years by the computer models i’ve constructed.

    Comment by Alex Katarsis — 30 Nov 2010 @ 2:34 PM

  104. 103 (Alex),

    I think you’re being a bit hard on the analogy. The basic components of an initial forcing and a feedback are what matter. And your statement about a huge potential energy in the system is very true, and an accurate part of the model. That, after all, is part of what a positive feedback is: potential energy. The fact that it is easier to understand (because we all learned about kinetic and potential energy in exactly that frame of reference) is part of the strength of the model, not the weakness.

    But, still, if you wish…

    Let’s try a more direct model, then. This is my own interpretation of everything I’ve read, so I eagerly encourage corrections to any assumptions/flaws in what I present.

    First, variations in the shape of the earth’s orbit (more versus less elliptical), the axial tilt, and the direction of that tilt with respect to perhelion all combine to affect the relative seasonal insolation for the northern and southern hemispheres.

    When these factors combine in such a way that summers are cool and short enough that they fail to melt back the previous year’s winter ice cover to the usual degree, the “permanent” (as in year round) ice extent in the north begins to grow and spread south.

    This changes the albedo of the planet significantly, reducing total insolation and resulting in cooling. Remember that generally the planet is always taking in the exact same amount of sunlight no matter what time of year or day it is, as defined by the relatively constant output of the sun and the cross-sectional area of the earth. So while the orbital factors can change the seasonal distribution of insolation, the total insolation is constant. But by changing the planet’s albedo through a large seasonal variation, the total insolation is changed — more sunlight is reflected back into space without being absorbed as heat.

    The cooling (that results from the change in albedo) necessarily reduces the amount of H2O in the atmosphere, which is a positive feedback that further cools the planet.

    At the same time, CO2 levels also drop (which also reduces temperatures, which further reduces H2O content, which further reduces temperatures). I myself am a bit fuzzy on the mechanisms here, but I know that as ocean temperatures drop, they hold more CO2, so that’s one sink. I can also imagine that it can be as simple as snow and ice covering vast areas of vegetation, and so preventing decomposition which would have returned CO2 to the atmosphere.

    This cooling all combines to let the ice extent spread further south (meaning an even higher albedo, less H2O, less CO2, etc., and so the ice age deepens and temperatures continue to drop).

    So, you have an initial forcing, which you can debate (Was it the change in orbital features, or the growth of the ice, or the change in albedo resulting from the growth of the ice? Does it really matter?).

    You have positive feedbacks (H2O, CO2 decline) which reinforce an otherwise nominal effect.

    With enough time, you have an ice age, checked only by the fact that the ice can only get so far south, because this all hinges on seasonal insolation changes resulting from the axial tilt of the earth, and this makes no difference at or near the equator — insolation there is constant, regardless of the tilt of the earth, and the days are warm and long enough to hold back any threat of snow and ice.

    Time goes by, and the combination of orbital factors slowly change. Eventually, the combination of elliptical orbit and axial tilt change so that northern hemisphere summers are longer, and warmer. As such, the ice extent starts to melt back in the summer, and the reverse process occurs.

    Albedo is reduced. Once covered CO2 is exposed and released. The atmosphere warms, which adds H2O, making the atmosphere warm further. The ice melts more. Some monkey hits another on the head with a leg bone, and jumps up and down in front of a strange, black monolith, and wallah! The scene is set for Stanley Kubrick’s long and illustrious film career.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 30 Nov 2010 @ 3:55 PM

  105. How come the forecast goes up in the paper (Fig. 4) but down in your recreation?

    [Response: The line in the original figure was not a trajectory – rather it joined disparate forecasts. The line in our figure is the actual trajectory from the initialisation to the forecast. You were not the only person to be confused by this. – gavin]

    Comment by Josh Cryer — 30 Nov 2010 @ 4:43 PM

  106. Looked up Lockwood (2001) and found this–much newer paper.

    Solar Influences on Climate
    L.J. Gray, J. Beer, M. Geller, J.D. Haigh, M. Lockwood, K. Matthes,U. Cubasch, D. Fleitmann, G. Harrison, L. Hood, J. Luterbacher, G.A. Meehl, D. Shindell, B. van Geel, W. White
    Reviews in Geophysics Accepted April 2010

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Nov 2010 @ 6:12 PM

  107. 104) Bob:
    Truly, an excellent summarization – and quite helpful. I wish all of the questions could make it through for that kind of consideration. Thank you.

    Comment by Alex Katarsis — 30 Nov 2010 @ 10:36 PM

  108. Re: wilt

    Couple of questions for you:
    1. Why do you read the Lockwood abstract when the Main article is freely available? How about an even more recent Lockwood paper (H/T to Hank Roberts)?
    2. Your exchanges with Thomas Lee Elifritz and Barton Paul Levenson were centered around GCR’s and cloudiness, which is why I directed you to the Skeptical Science post which dealt with that. Did you not read it?

    You seem confused on things climatological; being here is a good start then in order to fix that.

    Or you could try BPL’s Climatology pages.

    Learning is fundamental and should never cease. Unless that’s not why you’re here.

    The Yooper

    Comment by Daniel Bailey — 1 Dec 2010 @ 12:03 AM

  109. I suppose the moral of the story is that climate science isn’t one of those fields where you can publish a “career low” paper and hope that nobody notices it, and that you will be able to put out something better soon just to make sure nobody ever cites the garbage.

    Comment by Didactylos — 1 Dec 2010 @ 12:35 AM

  110. And for Wilt — ask yourself, why did the people who pointed you to that 2001 Lockwood paper not help you find the 2010 paper? Telling people stuff based on old papers instead of looking at progress is a bad sign, sometimes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2010 @ 1:19 AM

  111. Re: Daniel Bailey (#108), apparently you misunderstood what I wrote about the Skeptical Science link you mentioned earlier. The trouble with that document (as I tried to explain in #102) is that it clearly misrepresents the data. I gave one clearcut example: they mention the Lockwood 2001 citation and suggest that it would demonstrate that solar magnetism has remained constant in recent decades, whereas Lockwood clearly concluded that there was a strong increase (34% since 1963, and since 1900 even 140%). Of course I am familiar with the whole Lockwood article. I was not expecting that you would read it completely, that is why I made it easier for you by quoting the main conclusion.

    [edit – stick to science, not personal comments]

    Comment by wilt — 1 Dec 2010 @ 2:56 AM

  112. wilt 102: “… solar magnetic field has not changed appreciably over the past three decades (Lockwood 2001).”
    However, in the abstract of the Lockwood article it is stated that the strength of the solar magnetic field “has risen, on average, by an estimated 34% since 1963 and by 140% since 1900.”

    BPL: wilt, the past three decades is 1981-2010.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 1 Dec 2010 @ 6:51 AM

  113. 107 (Alex),

    You are most certainly welcome.

    An important takeaway point from this is that with a low climate sensitivity (i.e. one with limited positive feedbacks, or counterbalancing negative feedbacks), then the ice ages can’t happen. The changes in total insolation resulting from spreading ice (and the accompanying change in albedo) by themselves are no where near enough to drop temperatures by the amount needed. Positive feedbacks from CO2 and H2O are required. The proposed existence of strong negative feedbacks to balance all of this (such as Lindzen’s proposed changes in cloud formation over the tropics) would hold temperatures relatively constant, and the ice ages couldn’t and wouldn’t happen.

    For ice ages to occur, climate sensitivity must be reasonably high.

    As such, this is one of the arguments which supports higher climate sensitivity — in the 3C per doubling of CO2 range, although “per doubling of CO2” is just a metric, but it really means “3C per forcing equivalent to a doubling of CO2” (because, as this example shows, the initial forcing can be something totally unrelated to CO2). If clouds really formed more easily/frequently to reflect more sunlight as the planet warms (or, in this scenario, stopped forming, and stopped reflecting sunlight near the equator as the planet cools, providing an offset to the increased albedo to the north), then this scenario wouldn’t come about.

    At the same time, this scenario is a good example of an initial forcing. It doesn’t have to be CO2 — in this case it’s seasonal insolation changes which cause an expansion of ice cover which cause a change in the planet’s overall albedo.

    Last but not least, this scenario demonstrates how, in the usual case, CO2 concentration lags, but is a major factor in, the temperature changes.

    And that demonstrates how dangerous it potentially is for us to do something that’s never happened in the history of the planet… to very dramatically change the CO2 concentration, in a matter of mere decades as compared to the usual centuries or millenia involved in an ice age feedback scenario, through a mechanism never found in nature — uncovering plant matter that’s been buried for hundreds of millions of years, and burning it for energy.

    Even the ice ages only work by having the oceans absorb/release more CO2, and by covering/exposing carbon (or methane) on the surface of the planet. Very few mechanisms in nature can drill for oil or mine coal. Really, that represents an introduction of carbon into the system that hasn’t been available for hundreds of millions of years.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 1 Dec 2010 @ 9:40 AM

  114. #110 (Hank Roberts), as you can see from the previous comments on this topic, the reference to Lockwood 2001 was provided by Skeptical Science, and not by people that one might refer to as skeptics. The more recent article (comprehensive review with Lockwood as one of the co-authors) that you referred to, is rather neutral in its conclusions, see pages 45 and 47 of the article (‘..continues to be an active area of investigation’, “only just begun to be tested in physical models”). In other words: to be continued, the jury is still out on this. Thanks for your contribution anyway.

    Comment by wilt — 1 Dec 2010 @ 10:33 AM

  115. > very few mechanisms in nature can drill for oil or mine coal
    Or burn off vegetation on the scale of continents.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2010 @ 12:46 PM

  116. >> (Lockwood 2001).”
    > BPL: wilt, the past three decades is 1981-2010.

    Barton, paper published in 2001 –> the “past three decades” would be earlier.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2010 @ 12:49 PM

  117. #101 Sir

    I have a direct link to the MIT report in my general security summary

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 1 Dec 2010 @ 1:00 PM

  118. 114 (Wilt),

    You dismiss Hank rather abruptly, but I have not seen your response to Barton’s point in 112 (that you conflated two separate time frames and so misread the paper). In general, what I’ve learned from the string of comments it that your own points are not to be taken at face value, and one must go to the source to be sure that it is not being colored with a particular shade of near-truth. I find this sort of approach to the issues to be rather distasteful.

    So I looked at the paper supplied, and you did a rather admirable job of selecting one sentence from the paper, and using it to dismiss anything the doesn’t conform to your own tightly held belief. Your argument dwindles, in the end, to something along the lines of “we don’t know everything, and therefore we know nothing, and so no one can prove me wrong, and I shouldn’t change my own behavior based on such ignorance.”

    Following that reasoning, I might point out that the jury is still out on whether or not North Pole Eurasian Leprechaun Farts (jolly old ELFs in the literature) are the real cause for global warming. The fact that no one has yet been able to disprove this theory is not, however, an argument either for its adoption, or as evidence that other, competing theories (i.e. GHG) are therefore unlikely to be true.

    The jury is still out.

    Ho ho ho.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 1 Dec 2010 @ 1:22 PM

  119. Wilt, I see your problem. The ‘advanced’ page at skepticalscience talks about a few papers in considerable detail, and skims over the source for the sentence you’re puzzled by. He explains this in the Comments section on the page. See the ‘intermediate’ page for more detail and more sources.

    No trend in 30 years is the summary statement — that 2001 paper shows no trend over 1980-2000; other work cited in the intermediate article shows no trend during the most recent decade.

    The 2010 paper linked above says the same thing basically — that they found trend, no change, in the very small forcing from the sun. That exists, it’s real, it’s clear it has has been swamped by the rapid change in forcing from increasing greenhouse gases.

    Now you say “we don’t know and we can’t know” lather rinse repeat.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2010 @ 1:33 PM

  120. I realize it’s a political point, but we can’t ignore that the science is being used a weapon by both sides of the climate change issue. The middleground of establishing the truth of the peak oil turning point (along with the political volatility that accompanies it), combined with the universal desire for “clean water” and “fresh air” may still be the best place to begin in improving our “climate”. I have a feeling there would be much greater support bilaterally for actions aimed at attaining those goals. Certainly an argument could be made by both sides that these issues have reaches crisis levels (in my opinion, more effectively than by the demonization of CO2). The result of the effort may well be the same (with a net reduction in CO2), but both sides of the aisle could take credit for the success. Feel good policies of supporting pie-in-the-sky “new, green” technology won’t get us anywhere, either. I have more faith in the science as discussed here than in ANY of the efforts made by politicians on your behalf. There’s no question that detractors are inspired to propagandize by that corruption. In short, let’s find a crisis we can all agree upon. The science behind such an effort would find more open minds.

    Comment by Alex Katarsis — 1 Dec 2010 @ 1:55 PM

  121. > a crisis we can all agree upon

    If only. It’d have to be one that would complete its work within a week or so.,18431/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2010 @ 3:06 PM

  122. 120 (Alex),

    I think that I more or less agree with you, except that I haven’t seen the tiniest bit of action taken on climate change in the U.S., so it’s hard to worry much about people “demonizing CO2” or “ANY of the efforts made by politicians” because there is nothing to see. I have not seen a single “feel good” policy “supporting pie-in-the sky ‘new, green’ technology.” I haven’t seen anything done, period.

    What I have seen is that hybrid vehicles which greatly reduce emissions, and have the potential to make use of clean energy sources (which do not currently exist in practice) have been publicly available and in such demand that manufacturers can never keep up, and yet the bulk of our road vehicle fleet is “dirty” and the numbers and choice of hybrid and EV models is still relatively low. It’s almost as if they’ve been artificially kept out of the market. Why don’t struggling car manufacturers supply something that consumers clearly want, and in high enough volumes to bring the price down to further increase demand? Something in this picture doesn’t make any sense, especially after the fed bailed out several failing car manufacturers.

    I have also seen inroads (but no more) to implementing clean, renewable energy technologies… not “pie-in-the-sky” methods, but things that are in successful, wide spread use in other countries, but simply have not been adopted here.

    I have seen absolutely nothing in the area of improving our power delivery infrastructure, something which will take decades by itself, so that it can support cleaner energy sources and vehicle fleets as they become economical and more numerous. (Actually, I have seen a few feel-good commercials by major corporations, usually fossil fuel corporations, touting their feel-good research projects with no real-life implementations to date, as if to say “see, we’re working on a solution, now go back and drive your car around the block, just for the fun of it, there’s nothing to worry about, and we’re certainly not to blame.”).

    I have seen nothing in the way of incentives to alter silly behaviors that contribute to fossil fuel waste, such as the fact that everyone commutes to work at 8 AM, and home at 5 PM, or that some companies will fly people all over the earth rather than use blossoming, effective telecommunication technologies.

    Basically, from my point of view, CO2 emissions look to be very, very dangerous. I don’t need to anthropomorphically “demonize” CO2 for it to be a serious issue. But at the same time, we’re doing absolutely nothing, so instead demonizing precipitous action is a non sequitur. There’s no action yet to demonize, precipitous, ill-advised, unnecessary or otherwise.

    Bristling at proposals for cap and trade or fee and dividend, or anything else, when such things are instantly stalled before getting anywhere, looks to me to simply be an excuse for paralysis. People seem to have adopted “the economy” as the new golden idol (or golden idle?). Don’t endanger the economy! Don’t disrupt the economy! Don’t anger the economy! De-regulation, free market, job growth/losses, everything is becoming a buzz word for “be afraid, be very afraid that the world might change.”

    I am very, very afraid that by the time we begin to address the issue in any sort of meaningful, intelligent way, the cost of action will be ridiculously and unnecessarily high, much as buying a new car is more expensive than bothering to fix the brakes on your old car before they cause an accident that totals the vehicle.

    All I (personally) ask of people is that they take the time to completely and thoroughly understand the science, and from that the implications of action or inaction, before taking a political position on the issue — and without letting a current political preference influence their understanding of (or belief in) the science.

    I myself am pretty confident that anyone who takes the time to really understand the science will also put enough wait on the implications for our future that they will make reasonable, rational decisions concerning that future.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 1 Dec 2010 @ 3:14 PM

  123. Sigh. “wait” should be “weight”, of course, in the last line of my recent post.

    Could RC pretty, pretty please get a post-submit edit button like the Blackboard? I may not agree with everything Lucia says, but I’ll defend to the death her right to give me a site which lets me attack what she says without typos.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 1 Dec 2010 @ 3:20 PM

  124. Bob, just screw up the ReCaptcha the first time, and you get a second chance.
    Works for me (grin).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Dec 2010 @ 3:58 PM

  125. “… we can’t ignore that the science is being used a weapon by both sides of the climate change issue.”

    No, one side uses science and one side uses wishful thinking. Please don’t legitimize the latter by putting them in the same category as the former.

    Comment by Maya — 1 Dec 2010 @ 4:05 PM

  126. Not much you can do about science with a bunch that is proud of being ignorant. They know how to use their cell phones and compute sports statistics, and they know how to vote on reality shows, and as far as they’re concerned, that’s all they need to know about science.

    The professional doubt-creation machine need only provide sciencey looking material for this group to justify their isolation from the world around them. It has, however, become more virulent; I was fascinated by the recent recasting of Thanksgiving in the light of sharing the wealth (word I tried to use, of course, hit the spam filter but this’ll do).

    You can’t make these people rise above their cheerleader-led adolescent attitudes towards knowledge and authority.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 1 Dec 2010 @ 5:08 PM

  127. 125 (Maya),
    120 (Alex),

    …but we can’t ignore that the science is being used a weapon by both sides of the climate change issue…

    To add to what Maya said, I think I would point out that there are several different “climate change issues” to be considered and handled in different ways, with different implications.

    The issue of whether or not climate change is happening, and determining the cause, is pure science with an immutable truth behind it. Attempts to use science as a weapon in this case translates into an attempt to distort the truth. I do not see this from real scientists, unless they have a political investment, and the only political investment that I take seriously is an attempt to protect future fossil fuel profits.

    The issue of whether or not to take action is a political issue, and has nothing to do with the science (except where the science has been misrepresented and misinterpreted for political purposes). Really, it shouldn’t be a political issue, either, unless one is so callous and selfish as to be willing to harm hundreds of millions of other people for one’s own personal interests.

    The issue of what action to take, and when, is a political issue complicated by scientific, engineering, economic, social, and strategic/political factors, and is the conversation that we should be having, except that some people have us stuck on the science, as if it were in doubt.

    But in all of these cases, truth is truth, and attempts to purposely misrepresent the science are wrong.

    As far as “sides” go, while my perception is that many scientists are frightened by the implications of climate change(me, too!), and so are invested in making certain that others understand what they understand, they do not misrepresent the science (shrill denial protestations of “Climategate” being considered childishly silly and irrelevant here). There is no “side” to science, outside of the normal human habit of wishing to be right, and to convince others that one is right, and recognizing when something is as or more important than many discoveries in the history of human civilization.

    As far as sides go in the political issues, well, that’s obvious and doesn’t need discussion. Clearly there will always be people who hold their own self interests above others, and there will be conflict in arriving at a course (or many courses) for a society. That parties in the political issues use science as a weapon is not surprising in any way.

    But none of this is any excuse for misunderstanding the science, even if the misunderstanding is the result of falling for someone else’s misrepresentation of the science. It’s all the more reason for people to be true skeptics, and to willingly and eagerly accept the burden of really, truly learning and understanding the science.

    No one should put themselves in a position of saying, ten or twenty years from now, “it’s not my fault — they had me fooled!”

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 1 Dec 2010 @ 5:13 PM

  128. The demons are bipeds, not molecules. Rephrasing physics as “you’re being mean to those molecule” is screwy.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 1 Dec 2010 @ 5:22 PM

  129. Alex Katarsis: “I realize it’s a political point, but we can’t ignore that the science is being used a weapon by both sides of the climate change issue.”

    Sorry, Alex, but the science is all on one side of this issue. The other side has lies and anti-science. And if we are to agree that there is a crisis, I would hope that we do so based on the truth. Indeed, that is the only basis I can see for such agreement. Ultimately, the policies needed to address Peak Oil are different from those needed to address climate change, and likewise those to acheive clean air and water. The simple fact is that people must accept the science if for no other reason that the truth matters–both for practical considerations such as policy and for its own sake.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Dec 2010 @ 8:26 PM

  130. Bib @113: Not sure I’d want to be quite so sure about:
    “And that demonstrates how dangerous it potentially is for us to do something that’s never happened in the history of the planet… to very dramatically change the CO2 concentration, in a matter of mere decades”
    The planets history is quite a long one, and a lot of details are not vailable. One “theory” for the strength of the Permian-Triasac extinction is that the volcanics (roughly a million cubic kilometers worth) erupted through thich layers of coal, and therefore liberated at huge amount of CO2 as well as the usual volcanic gases and ash. It is indeed possible, that there have been episodes where large amounts of greenhouse gases were released. We also have the PETM (roughly 55mya) which may have been accelerated by methane hydrate releases. Rapid changes of atmospheric composition may have occurred at least occasionally. We can draw little comfort from the fact that they are associated with mass extinction events however.

    Comment by Thomas — 1 Dec 2010 @ 9:29 PM

  131. 130 (Thomas),

    Good point. I defer to the past. The more correct statement is that the planet has never before seen atmospheric carbon raise so much, so quickly, without a mass extinction event.

    Now I can sleep better. 8O

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 1 Dec 2010 @ 11:52 PM

  132. Maybe not:

    “This perspective article focuses on intervals in time in the fossil record when atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased up to 1200 ppmv, temperatures in mid- to high-latitudes increased by greater than 4 °C within 60 years, and sea levels rose by up to 3 m higher than present. For these intervals in time, case studies of past biotic responses are presented to demonstrate the scale and impact of the magnitude and rate of such climate changes on biodiversity…. the rates and magnitude of climate change are similar to those predicted for the future and therefore potentially relevant to understanding future biotic response. What emerges from these past records is evidence for rapid community turnover, migrations, development of novel ecosystems and thresholds from one stable ecosystem state to another, but there is very little evidence for broad-scale extinctions due to a warming world. Based on this evidence from the fossil record, we make four recommendations for future climate-change integrated conservation strategies.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2010 @ 12:44 AM

  133. oops, the cite for that:

    4 °C and beyond: what did this mean for biodiversity in the past?
    DOI: 10.1080/14772000903495833
    Systematics and Biodiversity, Volume 8, Issue 1 March 2010 , pages 3 – 9

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2010 @ 12:47 AM

  134. #120 Alex Katarsis

    Some considerations for perspective:

    – “science is being used a weapon”
    – “middleground”
    – “demonetization of CO2”
    – “Feel good policies”

    Science is science, not a weapon. The weapon is how the body politic wields or demonizes the knowledge.

    Middle ground? 2+2=4 has no middle ground.

    Demonetization? CO2 is not a demon, it’s a molecule. The problem is that we burned a bunch of stuff that used to be buried underground and imbalanced the relative thermal equilibrium of the planet. If there is a demon, in is our own ignorance and naiveté, that unfortunately still continues en force today.

    Feel good policies – I agree, this is not sound. We need science based policy decisions. But the human understanding is key to sound policy making.

    As to open minds, motive and bias are a real factor. One finds in all worlds that entire swaths of people rely more on group think than physics or math. Making it meaningful in context remains a challenge.

    Economics: Balancing Economies
    October Leading Edge: The Cuccinelli ‘Witch Hunt”

    Fee & Dividend: Our best chanceLearn the IssueSign the Petition
    A Climate Minute: Natural CycleGreenhouse EffectClimate Science HistoryArctic Ice Melt

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 2 Dec 2010 @ 7:51 AM

  135. #132, 133–

    Thanks, Hank. I cringe a bit at how this paper could be spun by some folks I interact with–basically, “See, I told you there was nothing to worry about, there won’t be any extinctions like you alarmists have been ranting about!” (A serious distortion, of course, but entirely predictable.)

    However, the paper is quite interesting in and of itself. I was particularly intrigued with the last section, discussing the importance of:

    “(i) Managing for novel ecosystems. . .
    (ii) Retaining ecological memory. . .
    (iii) Conserving regions of high genetic diversity. . .
    (iv) Developing resilience to threshold events. . .”

    I’d certainly be interested to hear what the paleontologists, biologists and ecologists around here have to say!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Dec 2010 @ 9:00 AM

  136. 132 (Hank Roberts),

    Well, this dovetails well with Jurassic Park — popular film always being the source of modern conventional wisdom — “Life will find a way”.

    Not necessarily human life, of course, but perhaps we can rest assured that we don’t have the power to destroy most life on the planet, or even our own species — only the stability of our own civilizations.

    I stand corrected (again).

    Now I can really sleep better. 8(

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 2 Dec 2010 @ 9:14 AM

  137. #134–

    “demonetization of CO2”

    Can we all agree that “demonetization” means “dissociating any monetary value” whereas “demonization” means “severely stigmatizing?”

    If so, I think this subthread could realize massive gains in clarity.

    Monetized or not. ;-)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Dec 2010 @ 9:14 AM

  138. Afraid I’m losing track a bit as to which argument was made on which thread–but for those discussing the drought issue, and particularly those recalling (from Dai, 2010, or elsewhere) that the Mediterranean basin is projected to be at very high future drought risk–this story will have really serious resonance:

    Yes, of course it’s weather, not climate.


    But for those who have trouble visualizing what the early stages of the scenario might look like on the ground, this should help.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 2 Dec 2010 @ 9:22 AM

  139. Thanks for the real conversation above.

    I’m worried that the general population doesn’t recognize themselves when people who buy into anti-science are described. In their own lives they are likely good-hearted, go to church, share with their friends, all that stuff. It is easy when I see something like the hate mail generated by Ed Markey’s committee meeting yesterday to think these people are deluded and/or awful. What they are saying is truly horrid, but they don’t recognize the disconnect between their daily lives and the opinions they hold.

    I don’t have a solution, but I am concerned that those I trust and to a limited extent understand on the science and issues of overexploitation and expanded consumption on a crowded planet not demonize others, no matter how “wrong” those others might be. It’s important to attack the misconceptions and misunderstandings without attacking the people. They know the latter is wrong, and they then disqualify the ideas as well.

    Scientists have to qualify in the top percentile for intellect, AND they have to work hard for decades, and fight in the court of their peers (and fashions there can get in the way as well) for their ideas, but they are not known for patience with what appears to be stupidity.

    So remember, please clarify the ideas, don’t attack the people. They know the latter is wrong and will walk away.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 2 Dec 2010 @ 10:06 AM

  140. PS, Wilt, lockwood university reading –> About 97 results
    I found clarification and newer info at skepticalscience, but not at wattsup.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2010 @ 10:57 AM

  141. #137 Kevin McKinney

    Oops, thanks for the catch.

    That was supposed to be demonization, not demonitization ;)

    since I was attempting to quote Alex in #120

    I should really just copy and paste :)

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 2 Dec 2010 @ 12:19 PM

  142. Re: the article Hank cites. In my opinion the authors are overreaching and conflating climate change effect on different measures of species diversity over different time periods to reach a conclusion that is not supported. For example they state that at the PETM tropical rain forests were at their greatest extent. This contradicts other studies of that time period. I think the authors are confusing distribution with extent. The area of tropical forest was almost certainly less as so much of the tropics had dried out; but yes, the global distribution of the forest had increased poleward. Also, there are many reasons for changes in biodiversity levels. During the PETM north and south America were separate and floral and faunal diversity decreased as they met and mixed with their linking. Also, studies focusing on that time period are necessarily discussing diversity at an arm’s reach as the fossil record is incomplete. This makes comparison with modern periods a little difficult. The earth was recovering from the KT incident at the time of the PETM and so it is expected that a large number of new taxa had developed. Whether or not this was due to or in spite of the high temperatures is debatable.

    Comment by Andy — 2 Dec 2010 @ 12:51 PM

  143. Hank #132, Kevin #135, re: impact on biodiversity of past rapid warmings,

    They didn’t have chainsaws back then. As Willis et al. so nicely put it,
    “What we probably need to be considering is the synergistic effect of these two factors [habitat loss and global warming] on biodiversity (Travis, 2003).” Travis had been less coy: “The interaction between climate change and habitat loss might be disastrous.”

    Comment by CM — 2 Dec 2010 @ 1:48 PM

  144. NASA briefing online about arsenic based life is awesome… especially watching the scientists fight. Science lives!

    She even just worked in a Star Trek Horta reference! (How much of a geek am I?)

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 2 Dec 2010 @ 2:54 PM

  145. > chainsaws
    Not required; asteriods will suffice.

    \the optical flux from asteroids 60m in diameter is enough to ignite pine forests\ —….105.1114H&classic=YES

    Worst imagined case, shockwave-methane-lightning-fire:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Dec 2010 @ 3:34 PM

  146. Bob #144, truly mind-blowing.

    Comment by CM — 2 Dec 2010 @ 3:37 PM

  147. They obviously should have taken Dr. Steig’s Matlab course.

    Comment by TerryMN — 2 Dec 2010 @ 4:15 PM

  148. Good gravy, yes, when you consider man’s direct destruction and fragmentation of habitat along with the artificial mixing of the flora and fauna of different continents, then it’s clear that we’re already involved in one of the earth’s major extinction events. From that perspective this discussion about climate change and species loss is moot. Barring some miraculous epiphany involving all mankind, many if not most populations of plants and animals will be rapidly winding down to oblivion.

    I guess it says a lot that scientists will argue a point ad nauseum even though it’s irrelevent. Or maybe that’s just me.

    Comment by Andy — 2 Dec 2010 @ 4:31 PM

  149. And, in other news, Qatar gets the World Cup in 2022, instead of the U.S.

    How does this relate to climate?

    But the IOC didn’t shortlist the Qatari capital over fears that the summer heat would be dangerous for the athletes, an objection that the Qataris were desperate to overcome with their ambitious plans to host the 2022 World Cup.

    Central to their bid was a revolutionary cooling system that would use solar power to provide zero-carbon air conditioning to cool the stadiums, technology that has the potential to transform the lives of tens of millions living near the equator.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 2 Dec 2010 @ 5:17 PM

  150. #122 Bob
    “What I have seen is that hybrid vehicles which greatly reduce emissions, and have the potential to make use of clean energy sources (which do not currently exist in practice) have been publicly available and in such demand that manufacturers can never keep up, and yet the bulk of our road vehicle fleet is “dirty” and the numbers and choice of hybrid and EV models is still relatively low. It’s almost as if they’ve been artificially kept out of the market. Why don’t struggling car manufacturers supply something that consumers clearly want, and in high enough volumes to bring the price down to further increase demand?”

    Simple economics Bob. Any kind of hybrid/electric vehicle costs considerably more than a non-hybrid(non-hybrid vehicles with similar fuel efficiency are available)due to the complexity and added costs of batteries. It will take 5-10 years for development to reduce battery prices. There is no guarantee the current types of batteries(Li-Ion, Li-polymer) will end up the right choice. While hybrids have been somewhat popular, most of that popularity can be attributed to the government subsidies involved. We(taxpayers) will be paying some $8-13000 per vehicle for the current crop(Volt, Leaf, Prius, etc). Having someone else help pay for your car will make a new one more attractive. Without a subsidy the extra cost makes no economic sense. And, they only make any kind of sense for the limited number of folks who have to commute 20-30 miles every day in heavy stop and go traffic. The hybrid benefits disappear when heavy, slow traffic is not involved.

    Comment by George — 2 Dec 2010 @ 5:29 PM

  151. And, they only make any kind of sense for the limited number of folks who have to commute 20-30 miles every day in heavy stop and go traffic. The hybrid benefits disappear when heavy, slow traffic is not involved.

    No, they still get about 10% better mileage than a non-hybrid equivalent.

    The rest of your post is equally well-informed.

    Comment by dhogaza — 2 Dec 2010 @ 5:52 PM

  152. Yeah, just imagine what the temps in Qatar will be then. Anyone want to hazard an educated guess? 130? 140? Drought? Waste disposal?

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 2 Dec 2010 @ 7:24 PM

  153. George is not well informed in post 149. My 2010 prius gets 50+ mpg during my wife’s daily commute. Her commute is about 36 miles of mostly winding country road with a few miles in 25 MPH zones.

    The hybrid gets better mileage than even my TDI up to the 70-75 MPH range. At that speed the efficiency of the diesel and the extra BTU/gallon overcome the prius’s more efficient use of fuel.

    To say that a Camry could do as well if not in stop-and-go traffic is simply wrong.

    Comment by David Miller — 2 Dec 2010 @ 8:29 PM

  154. 4, Andy: Again this is great. K08 can make bold claims about how the Earth works, just like the solar spectral stumper or Keppler’s plants and ch4 paper from 2006. The data accumulate and science progresses. This is EXACTLY how the whole thing is supposed to work. Kudos to all.

    All of the modelers should make predictions like this (not necessarily 10 year means at 5 year intervals, but true predictions) on regular schedules, such as every two years. As time goes by, their cumulative errors, and cumulative model improvements and improved predictions, can all be accumulated in public and the scientists can review, and compare, and contrast them in public forums (fora, if you insist) like this and in peer-reviewed journals. Comparisons like this would be very informative for policy makers after AR6, AR7, et seq.

    How does the squared prediction error (or CUSUM if available) of the Keenleyside prediction compare to the errors of other predictions of other models made contemporaneously?

    Comment by ScepticMatthew — 2 Dec 2010 @ 8:41 PM

  155. 122, Bob (Sphaerica): I think that I more or less agree with you, except that I haven’t seen the tiniest bit of action taken on climate change in the U.S., so it’s hard to worry much about people “demonizing CO2″ or “ANY of the efforts made by politicians” because there is nothing to see. I have not seen a single “feel good” policy “supporting pie-in-the sky ‘new, green’ technology.” I haven’t seen anything done, period.

    I do not understand your nihilism on this point. The U.S. Navy and Air Force have tested jet fuel from biofuels in their aircraft; the U.S. Army supports research and manufacture of solar devices for deployment to combat areas; the US generates about 4% of its electricity from non-hydro renewables and the large states (CA, TX, NY, all the way down to Iowa) subsidize renewable generation; oddly, New Jersey is second in solar electricity; Arizona and CA subisidize solar manufacture (CA has the problem that most projects are held up in courts due to lawsuits filed by environmental groups, but the state is moving forward.)

    You’d like more and faster: that I can understand. But to say you have seen nothing is mystifying.

    Comment by ScepticMatthew — 2 Dec 2010 @ 9:15 PM

  156. George @150:
    “We(taxpayers) will be paying some $8-13000 per vehicle for the current crop(Volt, Leaf, Prius, etc).”
    That might be true for the Volt, tax break plus government help to GM. I doubt the figure is nearly that high for the Volt. The Prius (or rather the manufacturer Toyota) ran out of its tax break in 2007, so to my knowledge there is no longer a federal subsidy for it.

    Comment by Thomas — 2 Dec 2010 @ 11:55 PM

  157. Hank @132 – Thanks for the link to Willis 2010, however the authors focusing only on the effects of temperature in the past seems a bit simplistic. Some thoughts:

    -Yes, the Early Eocene seems to have been the period of the greatest extent of tropical rainforest, however the distribution of the continental masses and global orography was much different then, which lead to a wetter tropical climate than that envisaged for this century. For instance modelling studies show that the lowering of the global orography, as it existed at the time of the Paleocene – Eocene, would have substantially altered hydrological circulations on the planet – in sum the tropics become wetter.

    – A wetter climate implies increased cloud cover & evapotranspiration, which helps to reduce leaf canopy temperatures. Photosynthesis declines in rainforest trees when leaf temperatures reach over 30 degrees C, and plummet when exceeding 37 degrees. Field observations show the current rainforest seems to exist near a high temperature threshold.

    – Climate models (some) project higher temperatures and decreased rainfall in the tropics, the Amazon in particular. The last 12 years seems to be giving credence to those projections. 2010 looks like it could be a record drought for Amazonia – we’ll have to wait for the scientific analysis. Not that this yet constitutes a trend of course, but the relationship between warming Pacific/Atlantic sea surface temperatures & Amazonian drought is apparent.

    – The Equator-to-pole temperature gradient (Paleocene-Eocene) was much reduced compared to today, therefore the frost-free zone (a limiting factor for the rainforest) existed at higher latitudes than today. Simply put, the extent was greater because the frost-free zone was larger. Today’s equator-pole gradient is expected to remain large for this century (the frost-free zone will barely move) , and expansion is limited by human activities. A bit of an impediment to rainforest expansion.

    – As for temperatures rises coming out of the last Glacial Maximum. I’m not well informed enough to comment too much on the temperate regions, however given the large tolerances evident in modern day vegetation (where annual variations in temperate regions are much larger than 4 degrees C) I don’t doubt that a global increase of 4 degrees may have been within tolerance ranges for temperate vegetation. Temperature changes in the tropics appear to have been smaller, however the increased aridity did lead to a modest reduction in the tropical rainforest extent, but a rapid turnover in species composition.

    From the authors:

    “So why is there this discrepancy between what the fossil and historical records are telling us about extinctions driven by climate change and those predicted through models?”

    Now this seems odd. What discrepancy?. The authors of the study are comparing historic events with a completely novel suite of threats, none of which are even mentioned in the study.

    Based on these studies, and many others using fossil and historical records, we argue that evidence for the widely cited view that future climate change poses an equal or greater threat to global biodiversity than anthropogenic land-use change and habitat loss (Thomas et al., 2004) is equivocal

    That’s certainly one opinion. But, apart from “skeptics”, who seriously argues that anyway?. Also, isn’t habitat loss a consequence of global warming for many species too?.

    I’ll be interested to see the peer-review response to the study. It doesn’t appear to provide much insight, but definitely plenty of fodder for the inactivists of this world.

    Comment by Dappledwater — 3 Dec 2010 @ 12:34 AM

  158. 150 (George),

    Simple economics Bob.


    Of course. That’s the point. If “simple economics” were applied to public education, most people would be illiterate. If it were applied to social security, most of the elderly would be destitute. If it were applied to the armed forces, the nation would be defenseless until after it had already been conquered. If it were applied to pollution, you’d be breathing sludge.

    There are some things which do not have an immediate, tangible, and obviously related return on investment, or an obvious and immediate negative financial impact on the participants. For these items simple economics (meaning capitalism) do not work. Government intervention (meaning organized social action) of some sort is required.

    Not everything in the world needs to be measured only in dollars, or your own personal tax burden.

    But your post mostly dodges my point by focusing on (and distorting and misrepresenting) one detail. My point is that climate change is a clear issue danger, but the people who rail against ineffective feel-good public policies have nothing to actually complain about, because nothing tangible is even being attempted.

    I would point out that those tax credits which you so greatly despise probably amount to less than 5 billion U.S. dollars to date, and at most 10 billion. This amounts to at most $33 dollars per person in the U.S. Spread over the ten year period in which hybrids have been available, that amounts to $3.30 per year.

    That is what you are complaining about.

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 3 Dec 2010 @ 8:16 AM

  159. #150 George [ why do non-full names correlate so highly with nonsense?! ] buries some wisps of valid points under a deluge of misinformation.

    The Prius subsidy, now gone, and not as large as George cited in the first place, varied wildly in importance to individual purchase decisions. Many middle-class folks collected only a fraction of the theoretical maximum because of the tax treatment.

    The mileage beats most of the competition in virtually all driving conditions. As choice in vehicles increases, one hopes to see more strenuous competition.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 3 Dec 2010 @ 12:56 PM

  160. [ why do non-full names correlate so highly with nonsense?! ]

    The same way full names correlate with sweeping generalizations aimed at people who don’t choose to use their full names? :>

    Dappledwater – I keep coming back to this paragraph in that paper:

    “Based on these studies, and many others using fossil and historical records, we argue that evidence for the widely cited view that future climate change poses an equal or greater threat to global biodiversity than anthropogenic land-use change and habitat loss (Thomas et al., 2004) is equivocal: extinctions driven by the latter processes of habitat loss pose a far greater threat to global biodiversity. It is also questionable, however, whether it is even possible to now separate the two processes, given that over 80% of the Earth’s terrestrial biomes now have evidence of an anthropogenic impact upon them (Ellis & Ramankutty, 2008). What we probably need to be considering is the synergistic effect of these two factors on biodiversity (Travis, 2003).”

    I keep thinking back to, for instance, the post we had on the bark beetles, and how they wouldn’t be nearly so much of an issue if the trees weren’t already stressed. It’s interesting and all that there weren’t mass extinctions due to climate change in the past, but I’m not sure it really matters. The world is very different now, already stressed because of the impact of its bipedal inhabitants. Just as the initial conditions of a formula or model can change the outcome dramatically, I think it likely that the initial conditions of this climate change are sufficiently different than what exists in the fossil record that the outcome will be quite different.

    Comment by Maya — 3 Dec 2010 @ 2:45 PM

  161. Just to continue piling on George @ 150: I’ve owned a Prius for nearly six years now, have no stop-and-go commute, and have averaged 51 mpg over 58,000 miles. The idea that there’s no hybrid benefit beyond stop-and-go driving was nonsense five years ago, but it’s amazing that some people still parrot this garbage. George, are you aware of the freeway benefits of the Prius’ Miller-cycle engine?

    Regarding the role of tax credits in jump-starting the hybrid market, the Prius was a huge hit before the federal tax credit, and with very few state credits.

    And as for the “hybrid premium,” it all depends what you’re after. My brother bought a Prius a few years ago because he’s a gadget freak, and the Prius was the CHEAPEST car he could find with such advanced electronic features.

    Comment by Mark Arnest — 4 Dec 2010 @ 12:51 AM

  162. 155 (Sceptic Matthew),

    You’d like more and faster: that I can understand. But to say you have seen nothing is mystifying.

    Nothing of real consequence, no.

    Using this as s source from the DOE, it shows that renewable energy sources in 2004 accounted for 6.2% of U.S. energy consumption. In 2008 that number was %7.4, with a some of that percentage “growth” actually resulting from a drop in total consumption.

    I can’t find earlier or later numbers, but to me, a 1.2% increase over four years (0.3% per year) is far, far slower than is needed or possible. To me, that’s virtually nothing.

    There are 1.9 million hybrid vehicles on the roads, out of 254 million total. That’s a mere 0.75%. In 2006, 7.7 million vehicles were sold. In 2009, 288,661 hybrids were sold, or (assuming roughly regular annual vehicle sales) 3.76% of all new vehicles annually. Again, virtually nothing.

    People complain about the economics, but everyone knows that volume brings prices way down. A $50 billion/year manufacturing or sales subsidy on hybrids would bring the net cost of 2.5 million hybrid vehicles from $40,000 to $20,000. The advantage of manufacturing 2.5 million vehicles (versus 300,000) would drive the cost down even further, putting hybrids at or below the cost of a FF driven vehicle. The total cost to the country would be 0.35% of GDP, or $150 per person. But that “cost” would also be offset by the benefits of the new technology, and job creation.

    Renewable energy and hybrid vehicles don’t need to appear overnight, but the levels of current efforts are laughable. Or, more importantly, they hardly qualify for the fear and trembling exhibited by “non-alarmist” climate change deniers.

    United States Renewable Energy Sector Is Falling Behind The Rest Of The World
    U.S. Renewable Energy Industries Say Long-Term Growth Reliant on Government Action

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:44 AM

  163. Just a note on subsidizing hybrid production into reasonable, mass market numbers: once a viable number of hybrid vehicles are available to the general public, the hybrid subsidy could also be offset by a carbon tax on non-qualifying (i.e. purely fossil fuel) vehicle sales. The clear message: buy a hybrid, and if you insist you want a fossil fuel vehicle, then pay for the collateral damage it’s doing to your neighbors.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:49 AM

  164. As most are aware solar cycle 24 is an anomalous cycle.

    The sun was at its highest activity in the last 10,000 years for the last period of the 20th century.

    If the planet cools due to the change in the solar heliosphere, solar wind speed, and a third solar parameter, is AGW no longer a concern?

    The sun is hypothesized to modulate planetary cloud cover by the heliosphere’s modulation of the GCR and by the solar wind bursts remove of cloud forming ions via the process electroscavenging. The third parameter also changes ions and is the reason there was a a 12 year delay in cooling for the Maunder minimum.

    Comment by William — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:52 AM

  165. “If the planet cools due to the change in the solar heliosphere, solar wind speed, and a third solar parameter, is AGW no longer a concern?”

    No, it is still a major concern.

    Even if we do postulate a cooler sun, then this will correspond to a change in solar forcing. But that will be a single change to the total forcing, while the contribution from man-made CO2 continues to rise and rise.

    Additionally, we would simply be storing up worse problems for the future. If we experienced an extended period of low solar activity, then yes – it may reduce the effects of global warming for a while. But when solar activity returns to normal, we would have that added warmth plus the warming from all the CO2 that has been accumulating. We would be toast.

    So, it’s not a gamble that anyone can win.

    Comment by Didactylos — 4 Dec 2010 @ 11:42 AM

  166. 162, Bob (Sphaerica): renewable energy sources in 2004 accounted for 6.2% of U.S. energy consumption. In 2008 that number was %7.4, with a some of that percentage “growth” actually resulting from a drop in total consumption.

    (7.4-6.2)/6.2 = 19% increase. divide by 2 to account for declining demand is 10% increase. 10% per year (if continued) works out to a 150% increase after 10 years, and 550% increase after 20 years.

    That’s not the right way to do the arithmetic, of course. What has to be exponentiated is the rate of growth of the amount of renewables (not their percentage of the total), which has fluctuated between 50% and 200% per year over the last years, differently for each class. At these rates of growth, lots of American electricity and fuel will be coming from renewables in the next 10-20 years. In other threads I have expressed my expectation that solar, wind, and biofuels will increase by 5 doublings in the next 5-10 years, if present trends are maintained. Do you have a quantitative expectation?

    In the decade 2020-2030 developments can’t be forecast, but all alternatives to coal and oil will be cheaper than they are now, and more widespread.

    You are correct (at least, I agree with you) that (subsidized) mass production is the key to long-term cost reductions. We have seen it already in two key areas: (1) reductions in the cost of sugar ethanol in Brazil over the period 1985-2005; (2) reductions in the cost of PV cells, which now come off the line at $0.85 per watt for the cells, and $3.50 per watt for an installed roof top system (that is the best price I have seen, not the average.) The PV cost now compares quite well to peak power by other standby systems (e.g. gas turbines), and the costs continue to decline.

    I wouldn’t say you are unreasonable, but I do think that you are too pessimistic.

    It’s somewhat related that hostility to coal is increasing. More and more people object more and more intensely to paying the pollution price. The piles of slag and ash are growing, and they routinely cause pollution after rain, killing fish and livestock and ruining cropland downstream. If taxes and fines proportional to the costs could be imposed, coal would lose some of its competitive advantages, and would be replaced more rapidly by natural gas and then solar and wind. I think that support for those taxes and fines is growing.

    Comment by ScepticMatthew — 4 Dec 2010 @ 12:16 PM

  167. 164 (William),

    The sun was at its highest activity in the last 10,000 years for the last period of the 20th century.

    Do you have a citation for this claim? This graph suggests otherwise. In fact, it implies that activity for the past 2000 years has been unusually low, and have only now recovered to around the average for that 10,000 year period. More importantly, past trends imply that such an event (a sudden drop back to LIA levels, after a recent emergence from those levels) hasn’t happened once in the last 10,000 years, so there’s no reason to think it would suddenly happen now.

    So I think the chances of the sun suddenly cooling are pretty slim.

    [Caveat: The proxy is merely for sunspot counts, and presumes a correlation between sunspot activity and solar output.]

    Beyond this, I believe that past climate history shows that such solar variations are considerably less important than orbital forcings and greenhouse gas levels. Greenhouse gases would almost certainly still overwhelm any possible reduction in TSI.

    To support this hypothesis, you will note that the sun’s activity for the past decade was below previous decades, and that the past few years have been at the low end of the 11 year cycle… and yet this year is shaping up to be the second warmest on record, despite the presence of a strong La Nina during most of it.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 4 Dec 2010 @ 12:51 PM

  168. Sphaerica (Bob) (162-3), while I probably wouldn’t agree with it, your basic idea deserves consideration IMO. I have a couple of detail points/questions: It’s not obvious why a 2.5 million manufacturing number would drive the price down much further, even if the cost gets slightly reduced, given the buying market already would see a $20,000 price reduction — which should pretty much reach your goals it would seem.

    Which “deniers” fear and tremble at the thought of renewable energy and/or hybrids???.

    The $30 billion ($150 per capita) subsidy would, on average, about double the federal income taxes paid by the lower 50% of wage earner filers. This seems quite regressive, and I doubt they would be impressed with the “only 0.35% of GDP.”

    So I, as a FF vehicle owner, have to pay for half of my neighbor’s new hybrid AND further subsidize his driving by paying a bunch more than he for gasoline — is this correct?

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Dec 2010 @ 12:55 PM

  169. “The sun was at its highest activity in the last 10,000 years for the last period of the 20th century.”

    You don’t seriously expect this to be a revelation, do you? It’s one of the oldest and tiredest of the denialist memes. “Regardless of any discussion about solar irradiance in past centuries, the sunspot record and neutron monitor data (which can be compared with radionuclide records) show that solar activity has not increased since the 1950s and is therefore unlikely to be able to explain the recent warming.” What we see is how science often works – increases in knowledge by increments and independent studies re-affirming previous findings, namely that changes in the sun play a minor role in climate change on decadal to centennial scales. After all, 2009 was the second-warmest year on record, and by far the warmest in the southern hemisphere, despite the record solar minimum. The solar signal for the past 25 years is not just small but negative (i.e. cooling), but this has not noticeably slowed down global warming.

    Comment by Maya — 4 Dec 2010 @ 1:47 PM

  170. Bob #165,
    The Wikipedia version of the Solanki et al. graph seems to be missing the overlaid data from direct observation. Solanki et al. say: “According to our reconstruction, the level of solar activity during the past 70 years is exceptional, and the previous period of equally high activity occurred more than 8,000 years ago.” See here:

    Otherwise, William #164 is just incoherent.

    [Response: And note that the abstract linked says “Although the rarity of the current episode of high average sunspot numbers may indicate that the Sun has contributed to the unusual climate change during the twentieth century, we point out that solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades. ” The operational term there being past three decades –raypierre]

    Comment by CM — 4 Dec 2010 @ 2:36 PM

  171. 170 (CM),

    I don’t have access to the paper. Do you know what the time resolution is on the dendrochronologically dated radiocarbon concentrations? That is to say, a thousand years from now, would the method detect the current peak if it ended soon (that is to say, is it possible that similar peaks happen all the time, and could have happened many times in the past, without showing up in the reconstruction)?

    Also, does the reconstruction represent the average sunspot count in a cycle, or the peak count (as represented, for example, here)?

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 4 Dec 2010 @ 5:13 PM

  172. 168 (Rod B),

    Which “deniers” fear and tremble at the thought of renewable energy and/or hybrids???

    They tremble at the thought of having their own incomes or lives impacted as a result of any actual action taken (beyond just letting the chips fall where they may). This is well evidenced by your next comment:

    So I, as a FF vehicle owner, have to pay for half of my neighbor’s new hybrid AND further subsidize his driving by paying a bunch more than he for gasoline — is this correct?

    Well, your other option is to buy a hybrid yourself. Gee, what a concept!

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 4 Dec 2010 @ 5:40 PM

  173. ScepticMatthew (166), If I read their tables correctly, the EIA says the electricity’s annual growth of non-hydro renewables was 9% in 2007, 20% in 2008, 12% in 2009, and 2010 on track for about 13%. (2006 had a 27% increase over 1996 — 10 years.) This isn’t anywhere near 50-200%, though nothing to sneeze at, relative to electric power’s total expansion. Your five doublings over 5-10 years is still dream world.

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Dec 2010 @ 5:44 PM

  174. wm 164: If the planet cools due to the change in the solar heliosphere, solar wind speed, and a third solar parameter, is AGW no longer a concern?

    BPL: Sure. Just like it’s no longer a concern if the Cooling Fairy leaves a temperature reduction under your pillow.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 Dec 2010 @ 5:56 PM

  175. 173, Rod B.,

    Here’s from their Nov 23, 2010 report on existing capacity as of end-of-year 2009:

    Wind 620 34,683 34,296 34,350
    Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic 110 640 619 537

    Where the second number in each row is megawatts of installed power generating capacity. I don’t see a relevant history broken down by type any where on the EIA web page. We shall have to redo these calculations (% increase) year by year. Other sources (I suppose I shall have to relocate these) have reported that solar generation in the US doubled from end of 2009 to end of 2010 (projected), as did manufacturing capacity; that’s a one-time yearly growth rate of 100%.

    Since we are debating about the future, we can update our knowledge, and hence our forecasts for 2015-2010, annually, or more frequently, in the years up to 2015.

    With factories under construction, the US will double its capacity to manufacture wind turbines in about the next 18 months. That’s in addition to the turbines that we import.

    Your 27% increase from 1996-2006 is deficient. Since the G.W. Bush first energy bill passed, US non-hydro renewables grew by about a factor of 8, 3 doublings in about 5 years.

    You’ll have read that SecularAnimist and I have disagreed on some details, especially the actual (distinct from proposed) rate of change in California. Nevertheless, he (or she?) has supplied good references. There is a great amount of construction underway.

    Comment by ScepticMatthew — 4 Dec 2010 @ 8:08 PM

  176. #168 Perhaps as a good free marketeer and progressive, Rod B. would endorse a steadily increasing carbon tax combined with commensurate decreases in payroll taxes. Y’know — capture those externalities, which he continues to duck. That way, he wouldn’t have to subsidize those darned Prius owners.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 4 Dec 2010 @ 8:22 PM

  177. In reply to 167 (Sphaerica, Bob)

    From Solanki, Usokin, Kromer, Shussler, Beer’s, 2004 paper “Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the previous 11,000 years”

    “According to our reconstruction, the level of solar activity during the last 70 years is exceptional, and the previous period of equally high activity occurred more than 8000 years ago. We find during the past 11,400 years the Sun spent only of the order of 10% of the time at a similar high level of magnetic activity and almost all of the earlier high-activity periods were shorter than the present episode.”

    Cyclic climate change with a periodicity of 1470 years tracks cosmogenic isotope changes.

    The number of sunspots is a proxy for the solar cycle change. It is necessary to understand both what is happening to the sun and how the solar changes affect the climate. The changes are not just TSI.

    As I said the Maunder minimum cooling occurred roughly 12 years after the interruption to the solar cycle. There is a physical reason for the delay.

    The magnetic field strength of newly produced sunspots is linearly decreasing. There is a specific solar reason why that is so.

    Comment by William — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:08 PM

  178. In reply to comment 174 (Barton Paul Levenson)


    The cooling will be caused by the solar change not by tooth fairies. I say that with some confidence as this specific solar change has happened before. I understand both the solar change and how/why the solar change affects planetary temperature.

    The following is a link to Bond’s paper “Persistent Solar influence on the North Atlantic Climate during the Holocene” Bond track 22 cycles through the Holocene interglacial and into the Wisconsin glacial period.

    The magnitude of the affect is depend on specific terrestrial parameters.

    Excerpt from the above linked paper:

    “A solar influence on climate of the magnitude and consistency implied by our evidence could not have been confined to the North Atlantic. Indeed, pervious studies have tied increases in the C14 in tree rings, and hence reduced solar irradiance, to Holocene glacial advances in Scandinavia, expansions of the Holocene Polar Atmosphere circulation in Greenland; and abrupt cooling in the Netherlands about 2700 years ago…Well dated, high resolution measurements of O18 in stalagmite from Oman document five periods of reduced rainfall centered at times of strong solar minima at 6300, 7400, 8300, 9000, and 9500 years ago.”

    Comment by William — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:31 PM

  179. William–re Solanki et al., that paper says:

    “we point out that solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades”


    “… even under the extreme assumption that the Sun was responsible for all the global warming prior to 1970, at the most 30% of the strong warming since then can be of solar origin.”

    Is your assumption more extreme than Solanki et al. talk about? If so, some cites to sources you consider reliable for what you believe would be helpful.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Dec 2010 @ 9:47 PM

  180. Meanwhile, in the Middle East:


    Five years of drought now, and near-total failure of November rains. A Jordanian cabinet minister musing worriedly about “desertification.”

    Not pretty, this. . .

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 4 Dec 2010 @ 11:29 PM

  181. Sphaerica (Bob) (172), you say, “…Well, your other option is to buy a hybrid yourself. Gee, what a concept!”

    So the answer to my question in 168 is ‘yes’? just checking.

    Comment by Rod B — 4 Dec 2010 @ 11:57 PM

  182. ScepticMatthew (175), I can’t verify or refute your numbers, but where we differ is your citing installed capacity (nameplate I assume) and I’m citing actual production.

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2010 @ 12:05 AM

  183. ScepticMatthew (175), PS, it’s probably obvious but there are different units: capacity in megawatts and production in megawatt-hours.

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2010 @ 12:10 AM

  184. Walter Pearce (176), would the carbon tax revenues be dedicated to Social Security and Medicare, as opposed to say subsidizing hybrid purchases?

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2010 @ 12:15 AM

  185. William 177: The number of sunspots is a proxy for the solar cycle change. It is necessary to understand both what is happening to the sun and how the solar changes affect the climate. The changes are not just TSI.

    BPL: When I regress NASA GISS global dT against ln CO2 and sunspot number for 1880-2007 (N = 128), Carbon dioxide accounts for 75% of the variance and sunspot number accounts for 2.5%. Divide A by B. Discuss.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:57 AM

  186. re: sunspots: Solanki et al. 2004,

    raypierre (inline to my #170),

    Thanks, I should have included that.

    Bob #171,

    Don’t take it from me, read the free version (, but AFAICT: The C-14 sampling is (mostly) decadal, and the reconstruction represents a 10-year average sunspot number. I’d guess any period like the post-1940 one — twice as long as the average high-activity (SN>50) period, and 2.5 standard deviations over the long-term average — would be pretty hard to miss.

    William #177, 178,

    > I understand both the solar change and how/why the solar change affects
    > planetary temperature.

    Well, good for you! You will let us know when your pathbreaking paper on the subject is published with peer review, won’t you? Until then, toodle-oo.

    Comment by CM — 5 Dec 2010 @ 7:08 AM

  187. Typo at 7:08am, pardon: “2.5 standard deviations” > “2.85 standard deviations”.

    Comment by CM — 5 Dec 2010 @ 7:29 AM

  188. #184. “would the carbon tax revenues be dedicated to Social Security and Medicare…”

    Attempt to comprehend a simple phrase: #176, “a steadily increasing carbon tax combined with commensurate decreases in payroll taxes.”

    Purpose: Capture carbon externalities. Revenue neutral.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 5 Dec 2010 @ 8:39 AM

  189. We’ve never subsidized the purchases of gas guzzlers. No, back in the 1980s an associate of mine did not buy “His and Her” Rolls Royces, take a whopper tax credit on both, and depreciate the balances in three years. I dreamed seeing that. Or the number of children, some in diapers, who set up leasing companies and leased luxury cars to mom and dad.

    Comment by JCH — 5 Dec 2010 @ 9:06 AM

  190. #175

    EIA Historical Net Capacity is here:

    The web page shows 1997-2008. If you download the xls worksheet, it includes 2009.

    For historical net GENERATION ( more imporant) see:

    Comment by JiminMpls — 5 Dec 2010 @ 9:06 AM

  191. > attempt to comprehend
    For values of “comprehend” in the range “obfuscate” to “confuse”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2010 @ 11:04 AM

  192. 183, Rod B:ScepticMatthew (175), PS, it’s probably obvious but there are different units: capacity in megawatts and production in megawatt-hours.

    I am glad you wrote that. Sometimes I have written of installed capacity, and sometimes of total production. Over periods of at least months, production is usually proportional to capacity. The CAISO web page that I linked a while ago reports both. That applies only to California (and excludes the cities of Los Angeles and Sacramento); I am going to look for comparable displays for other states or regions.

    Comment by ScepticMatthew — 5 Dec 2010 @ 11:29 AM

  193. In reply to BPL 185 & CM 186


    Why are you dividing the number of sunspots? Looking the correlation of Ak and planetary temperature. What causes the changes to Ak and how does what changes Ak cause changes to Ak.

    There are three process that affecting planetary cloud cover. Changes to the strength of the heliosphere which modulates GCR, solar wind bursts which remove cloud forming ions, and a third mechanism.

    Solar wind bursts remove cloud forming ions via the process electroscavenging. The solar wind burst are created by equatorial coronal holes that appeared late in the solar cycles for cycles 21 and 22.

    “Once again about global warming and solar activity K. Georgieva, C. Bianchi, and B. Kirov

    We show that the index commonly used for quantifying long-term changes in solar activity, the sunspot number, accounts for only one part of solar activity and using this index leads to the underestimation of the role of solar activity in the global warming in the recent decades. A more suitable index is the geomagnetic activity which reflects all solar activity, and it is highly correlated to global temperature variations in the whole period for which we have data.

    In Figure 6 the long-term variations in global temperature are compared to the long-term variations in geomagnetic activity as expressed by the ak-index (Nevanlinna and Kataja 2003). The correlation between the two quantities is 0.85 with p<0.01 for the whole period studied.It could therefore be concluded that both the decreasing correlation between sunspot number and geomagnetic activity, and the deviation of the global temperature long-term trend from solar activity as expressed by sunspot index are due to the increased number of high-speed streams of
    solar wind on the declining phase and in the minimum of sunspot cycle in the last decades."

    CM 186,

    When I say I know how and why the sun changes and how the solar changes affect climate, that is to say I know that because I have read the papers and studied that subject. It appears you have not. If you have a specific question ask it and I will answer it.

    See section 5a) Modulation of the global circuit in this review paper, by solar wind burst and the process electroscavenging where by increases in the global electric circuit remove cloud forming ions.

    The same review paper summarizes the data that does show correlation between low level clouds and GCR.

    CM check the link above to Bond's paper.

    Comment by William — 5 Dec 2010 @ 2:50 PM

  194. Walter Pearce (188), so is the answer to my question ‘yes’?

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2010 @ 2:53 PM

  195. ScepticMatthew, JiminMpls’ references in 190 are appropriate, though they report non-hydro renewables as a single entity.

    Comment by Rod B — 5 Dec 2010 @ 2:59 PM

  196. William, you’re on a hobbyhorse here; this is going further off topic.

    Since you’re not citing sources for your beliefs, here are some sources you ought to factor in to what you believe — before writing.
    “Compared in (a) are observed monthly mean global temperatures (black) and an empirical model (orange) that combines four different influences. In (b) the individual contributions of these influences are shown, namely ENSO (purple), volcanic aerosols (blue), solar irradiance (green) and anthropogenic effects (red). Together the four influences explain 76% (r2) of the variance in the global temperature observations.”
    Cycles and trends in solar irradiance and climate
    Focus Article
    Judith L. Lean
    Published Online: Dec 22 2009 12:00 AM
    DOI: 10.1002/wcc.18

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2010 @ 3:16 PM

  197. #194 “answer to my question…” What part of “revenue neutral” do you not understand? Where do your taxes currently go?

    See Hank Roberts’ #191.

    Surprise us all: Say something intelligent on the subject of how to incorporate carbon’s externalities into a free market system.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 5 Dec 2010 @ 3:19 PM

  198. let’s see if this image link will work, these work from within the full article link anyhow:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2010 @ 3:32 PM

  199. William 193,

    What part of “the correlation between sunspot number and temperatures the last 128 years is tiny” did you not understand?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 Dec 2010 @ 3:42 PM

  200. In reply to #1, greenhouse gases absorb selective bands of radiation in the atmosphere and re-radiate them in all directions as longer wave infrared. If there are clouds, then more will appear at the surface due to reflection but usually does not raise the air temperature. i.e. On cloudy days, the air feels cooler. In the Antarctic, the increased white albedo at the surface causes the air temperature to increase on cloudy days. CO2 is less of a GHG than water vapor, which it replaces. Therefore, more CO2 should cool the planet. We won’t ever see much of this due to the over abundance of water vapor. However, on Mars, with 95% CO2 and not much water vapor, its atmosphere drops to -67 degrees F. There is no proof that increasing GHGs, in the presence of so much water vapor, without a corresponding increase in the sun’s energy in these adsorptive wavebands for these gases,
    will actually increase warming to any significant degree, i.e. more than a couple of degrees. The basic fact being ignored is that with a nearly constant solar output , the GHGs are now about as warm as they will get.
    Of course, adding different GHGs with different absorptive bands will cause more warming as the adsorptive energy of these different bands come into play.

    Comment by Wayne Justice — 5 Dec 2010 @ 4:06 PM

  201. > CO2 is less of a GHG than water vapor
    OK so far
    > which it replaces
    Citation needed! Why do you imagine CO2 “replaces” water vapor?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2010 @ 4:44 PM

  202. PS for Wayne Justice,

    > less of a GHG
    probably doesn’t mean what you think it does, considering your logic above.

    See, for example:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Dec 2010 @ 4:48 PM

  203. OT (sorry) – I notice that with publication date approaching (Available 31 December from all fine purveyors of atmospheric sciences textbooks!), raypierre is sticking his head above the trenches a bit more often. Is there any chance of some liveblogging of the Fall AGU meeting?

    Comment by S. Molnar — 5 Dec 2010 @ 5:47 PM

  204. 181 (Rod B),

    Thank you for so kindly responding with:

    So the answer to my question in 168 is ‘yes’? just checking.

    It adds a nice emphasis to my point that:

    They [deniers] tremble at the thought of having their own incomes or lives impacted as a result of any actual action taken…

    Comment by Bob (Sphaerica) — 5 Dec 2010 @ 6:26 PM

  205. Last year the Met said the mean world temperature for 2010 is expected to be 14.58C, the warmest on record.

    How’s that prediction going?

    [Response: I doubt that the met office made any such specific claim, however there was a strong likelihood that 2010 would be the warmest global anomaly on record, and indeed it is running very close in multiple datasets. – gavin]

    Comment by J — 5 Dec 2010 @ 11:03 PM

  206. “I understand both the solar change and how/why the solar change affects planetary temperature.”William — 4 December 2010 @ 9:31 PM
    “When I say I know how and why the sun changes and how the solar changes affect climate, that is to say I know that because I have read the papers and studied that subject.” William — 5 December 2010 @ 2:50 PM
    “Therefore, more CO2 should cool the planet.” Wayne Justice — 5 December 2010 @ 4:06 PM

    Since you guys know how the sun and CO2 influence the climate, perhaps y’all can explain this?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Dec 2010 @ 1:48 AM

  207. “When I say I know how and why the sun changes and how the solar changes affect climate, that is to say I know that because I have read the papers and studied that subject.” William — 5 December 2010 @ 2:50 PM
    “Therefore, more CO2 should cool the planet.” Wayne Justice — 5 December 2010 @ 4:06 PM

    Since you guys know how the sun and CO2 influence the climate, perhaps y’all can explain this?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Dec 2010 @ 1:56 AM

  208. “So I, as a FF vehicle owner, have to pay for half of my neighbor’s new hybrid AND further subsidize his driving by paying a bunch more than he for gasoline — is this correct?”

    No. What you have to do is reimburse society for the continuing damage caused all the CO2 you thoughtlessly dumped into the atmosphere previously, and will continue to do by burning FF in your car. The more sh*t you dump into our common atmosphere, the more you pay, just like the rest of us.

    The people in Bangladesh, and the Maldives, and the people who died, or have to pay for the cleanup or crop losses in the floods in Guatemala, and France, and Spain, and Wales, and Fiji, and Australia, and China, and, and, and… will pay or are paying disproportionately for your and my FF use.

    – a few selections from google searches for “record rainfall”+flooding – About 36,700 results in the past year –

    “Record rain hits Australian grain harvests | Earth Times News
    Dec 6, 2010 … Sydney – Record rainfall in Australia has seriously damaged the crop that farmers hoped would … Flooding kills three in southern Spain …”

    “BBC News – Landslides kill 36 in Guatemala
    Sep 5, 2010 – Record rainfall. Weeks of heavy rain have saturated Guatemala’s mountainous terrain…”

    “National flooding Articles, National flooding News – …
    Nov 8, 2010 – Floods devastate West and Central Africa killing 397 ”

    “Typhoon Morakot dumps record rains on Taiwan; causes more flooding …
    Aug 19, 2010 – … record rainfall, landslides, and flood-related destruction on Taiwan. ”

    “BBC News – China flood fears along North Korea border
    Aug 6, 2010 – China has suspended traffic on the Yalu river, which marks the border with North Korea, because of record rainfall in an area already badly hit by floods. …”

    “State of the Climate | Global Hazards | May 2010
    Jun 9, 2010 – A slow-moving severe storm system brought record rainfall and flooding and spawned several … Flooding in South China from servere stroms on 10 May 2010 …”

    “Flooding in RI videos: Record rainfall totals in Rhode Island …
    Mar 30, 2010 – Rhode Island Precipitation Map School closings in RI Parts of RI and Mass. are underwater. Hardest hit are Cranston, West Warwick, Warwick and Providence.”

    “Nashville Flooding from Record Rainfall | Digital News Report
    May 3, 2010 – Nashville Flooding from Record Rainfall. May 3rd, 2010. Digital News Report – Downtown Nashville has been flooded after receiving record amounts of rain, …”

    “Record rainfall pounds drought-stricken region – Morning Call
    Sep 30, 2010 – After a hot dry summer that led to a drought watch, skies opened Thursday with a vengeance, leading to flooded roads, a truck rescue, a tornado watch and ……”

    “Record rainfall sees worst floods since 1940s | Olive Press …
    Dec 24, 2009 – Some of heaviest rain on record leads to flood chaos in Andalucia. Here, a submerged house in Jimera de Libar, near Ronda. Picture Karl Smallman.”

    “Record rainfall on Thursday caps a wet week in region …
    Oct 1, 2010 – Record rainfall on Thursday caps a wet week in region … There was minor flooding in parts of Blackwater, Sandbridge and Muddy Creek roads from south winds …”

    “Press Release: Red Cross Helping Those in Need Following Record …
    Sep 28, 2010 – Red Cross Helping Those in Need Following Record Rainfall and Widespread Flooding in Southern Minnesota. ”

    “1 drowning confirmed in flooding after record rainfall in Oklahoma …
    Jun 15, 2010 – Record-busting rainfall and ensuing flooding in Oklahoma led to at least one death,”

    “Record rainfall raises concerns over another spring flood | WDAY …
    Oct 26, 2010 – Flooding concerns. The record rainfall Tuesday is leaving Fargo city leaders concerned about another spring flood; the third in a row. “

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Dec 2010 @ 3:41 AM

  209. WJ 200,

    CO2 does not “replace” water vapor in the atmosphere. As CO2 increases, and warms the planet, H2O also increases. Google “Clausius-Clapeyron relation.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 Dec 2010 @ 6:51 AM

  210. J: 205 says the MET office made a prediction for the 2010 mean global temperature with 4 significant figures.

    Here’s my prediction for J; you are a liar. I bet you $100 that you cannot produce any official MET publication in which they predict next year’s globally and time averaged surface temperature to four significant figures with no error bars. Lemme know how that works out for ya.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 6 Dec 2010 @ 10:19 AM

  211. Walter Pearce (197), federal payroll taxes go 100% to Social Security and Medicare. Since your carbon tax would reduce payroll taxes, I was wondering if the collected carbon tax would also be dedicated to SS and Medicare. It’s a simple question.

    You ‘Say something intelligent on the subject of how to incorporate carbon’s externalities into a free market system.’

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Dec 2010 @ 10:36 AM

  212. Wayne Justice, I don’t think it alters your point (which I am neither supporting nor refuting here) but, ignoring insignificant effects like doppler, CO2 re-radiates at the same IR frequency that it absorbs.

    Comment by Rod B — 6 Dec 2010 @ 10:44 AM

  213. #211 “a simple question…”

    Rod B. and his adjectives…In reality, those payroll taxes do not currently go to Social Security and Medicare, as you’re surely aware — remember those file cabinets in West Virginia?

    The more important issue — where it would be refreshing if not astonishing to hear something cogent and relevant from you — is at the other end, where the tax is paid. You keep resisting ideas on reducing carbon’s footprint, including subsidies as for hybrid vehicles. I’m not a fan of subsidies myself. So I offered Paul Hawken’s carbon tax idea as a revenue-neutral, free market approach to incorporating carbon externalities into product costs.

    Shock the world with an intelligent, on-topic response. How would you incorporate a truer picture of carbon’s costs?

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 6 Dec 2010 @ 12:27 PM

  214. This could be what J is referring to:

    Comment by JCH — 6 Dec 2010 @ 1:46 PM

  215. @214 JCH

    Thank you for that metoffice link. This seems to be another case of taking a prediction and blowing it out of proportion. The metoffice release said “A record warm year in 2010 is not a certainty…” but some are presenting it to others as if it was supposed to be a certainty.


    Comment by Pete W — 6 Dec 2010 @ 7:46 PM

  216. > four significant figures
    I think he meant “2, 0, 1, 0”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Dec 2010 @ 8:40 PM

  217. @215 Pete W

    I don’t think it’s a case of a prediction being blown out of proportion … the MET office did publish it, so asking how it’s going seems fair.

    As far as how it’s going, they predicted an anomaly of 0.58C, and through October, the anomaly was 0.52C, so to answer 205 J, it seems to me it’s going pretty well. Thanks for asking.

    Comment by borninoz — 6 Dec 2010 @ 9:38 PM

  218. Thanks Pete W.

    Is that really a prediction?

    Comment by JCH — 6 Dec 2010 @ 9:57 PM

  219. #214 et seq, especially #218–Well, define “prediction.” The actually Met Office verbiage is “expected to be 14.58 C.”

    To me, that would be a “prediction,” but one admitting of (unquantified) uncertainty.

    For context, the mean for the baseline period is 14.0, and the existing record (Hadcrut, since this is the UK we’re talking about) is 1998, at 14.52 C.

    “How’s it going?”

    Well, we’re about 11/12ths of the way to actually knowing the result, so I’d say it’s going well, too.


    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Dec 2010 @ 11:36 PM

  220. It looks like any prediction of the warmest year on record is going to fall short of 1998, trailing by almost 0.1C through October. 2010 is also only 0.01C above 2002 and 2005 for the first 10 months, so is likely to end the year somewhere between 2nd and 5th overall.
    The prdiction was based on the developing El Nino, which turned out to be rather accurate. During the summer, the El Nino faded to a La Nina which is taking on a rather strong signature, and led to decreased temperatures starting in Septemeber, and is likely to continue in the coming months. The Met office issued a statement that this winter was going to be as mild as last winter. lol.

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Dec 2010 @ 11:00 AM

  221. Brian,
    Of course, the weather-related deaths this year pale in comparison to past years. There will always be weather-related deaths, but they should be put into perspective. The number of weather-related deaths pales in comparison to other causes.

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Dec 2010 @ 11:53 AM

  222. …. decreased temperatures starting in Septemeber, and … likely to continue in the coming months.

    Wow! Who would have ever expected that?? Lower temperatures in the winter!!

    Comment by flxible — 7 Dec 2010 @ 12:20 PM

  223. “Preliminary operational data from 1-25 November indicate that global temperatures from November 2010 are similar to those observed in November 2005, indicating that global temperatures for 2010 are continuing to track near record levels. …” –

    HadCRUT underestimation?

    Comment by JCH — 7 Dec 2010 @ 12:23 PM

  224. Dan: It looks like any prediction of the warmest year on record is going to fall short of 1998, trailing by almost 0.1C through October.


    “For January–October 2010, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.4°F) and tied with 1998 as the warmest January–October period on record.”

    Sources, Dan, cite your sources. Actual data, not media stories. We’re going to keep asking you to do that, you know.

    Comment by Maya — 7 Dec 2010 @ 12:38 PM

  225. #221–“Of course, the weather-related deaths this year pale in comparison to past years.”

    Oh, yeah? According to whom? We had heatwaves that may have killed over 17,000 this summer, as well as devasting floods that killed over 2,000 in Asia. There was considerable hurricane-related mortality in the Caribbean. There was widespread drought and famine, especially in the Sahel, affecting millions. Hard to know what the mortality was there.

    It seems fairly jejune to have to mention that, in addition, conclusion on 2010 are a little premature with nearly another month to go.

    So, why and how was this year “of course” so much better than other years, chez vous?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Dec 2010 @ 1:53 PM

  226. Maya,
    From CRU, Jan-Oct 2010 was 0.499 above the 1961-1990 average, while Jan-Oct 1998 was 0.575 above the average. Ten-month anomalies for 2002 and 2005 were .485 and .492 respectively. Data, not media.
    Flxible, you are one funny dude. Maybe you should become a climate comedian.

    Comment by Dan H. — 7 Dec 2010 @ 2:09 PM

  227. Dan, now see, was that so hard? The annual value for 1998 only ends up being 0.548, so we shall see where we finish. 0.1C lower looks unlikely.

    I think the actual recent prediction (at least, the ones I saw) was that it would end up being just behind 1998, and it is on track to do that.

    Comment by Maya — 7 Dec 2010 @ 3:55 PM

  228. Dan, so “any prediction of the warmest year” means “the HADCRUT warmest year only?”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 7 Dec 2010 @ 4:43 PM

  229. “Of course, the weather-related deaths this year pale in comparison to past years. There will always be weather-related deaths, but they should be put into perspective.”
    Dan H. — 7 December 2010 @ 11:53 AM
    I’m sure that is of great comfort to the survivors of those few who died in weather related events – despite modern improvements in forecasting, emergency response, medical care, and international assistance.

    “Increased extremes of summer dryness and winter wetness are projected for much of the globe, meaning a generally greater risk of droughts and floods. ,This has already been observed, and is projected to continue. In a warmer world, precipitation tends to be concentrated into heavier events, with longer dry periods in between.”
    “The amount of rain falling in the heaviest downpours has increased approximately 20 percent on average in the past century, and this trend is very likely to continue, with the largest increases in the wettest places.”

    Care to venture a guess as to how many fewer deaths would have occurred absent AGW?

    “In spring 2008, heavy rains caused the Mississippi River to rise to about 7 feet above flood stage, inundating hundreds of thousands of acres of cropland. The flood hit just as farmers were preparing to harvest wheat and plant corn, soybeans, and cotton. Preliminary estimates of agricultural losses are around $8 billion. Some farmers were put out of business and others will be recovering for years to come.” [ibid]

    “Losses caused by catastrophes, defined as greater than $5 million, have grown steadily in the United States, from about $100 million annually in the 1950s to $6 billion per year in the 1990s. The annual number of catastrophes grew from 10 per year in the 1950s to 35 per year in the 1990s”

    What are your out of pocket weather related expenses? Were you bankrupted by extreme weather? Do you think that the costs are equitably distributed, or too small to worry about?

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 7 Dec 2010 @ 9:04 PM

  230. Weather related deaths:

    Have you forgotten Pakistan and Moscow, as well as the second wave in Haiti, so soon. How about Venezuela and Bolivia, Vietnam and China (I’m sure this list is seriously incomplete, but these all had catastrophes.

    Yeah, I know, “no single weather event”. But if this is not a trend, what is?

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 7 Dec 2010 @ 9:30 PM

  231. “Yeah, I know, “no single weather event”. But if this is not a trend, what is?”
    Comment by Susan Anderson — 7 December 2010 @ 9:30 PM

    Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action. More than 15 times in the past year is climate change. &;>)

    It’s comparable to the trends in record high temperatures – No doubt the crew at wattsupwiththat think it’s all due to the uncorrected urban wet island effect and bad siting of rain gages.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 7 Dec 2010 @ 11:36 PM

  232. A warning to all weather-data obsessives (you know who you are):

    Comment by CM — 8 Dec 2010 @ 6:07 AM

  233. “No doubt the crew at wattsupwiththat think it’s all due to the uncorrected urban wet island effect and bad siting of rain gages.”

    Probably. But what a better world it might be if they’d just correct the siting of their tinfoil hats.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Dec 2010 @ 7:22 AM

  234. Do you all have such short memories that only the most recent year is relevant? In the past decade, droughts have been a relative non-occurrance compared to early in the 20th century (See link above), or the fatalistic 18th and 19th centuries. The trend in tropical cyclones is downward, with 2010 being the lowest in over 30 years!

    More record high temperatures in the U.S. were set in the 1930s or 1950s than this past decade, and your dollar figures should really be inflation-adjusted to get any true meaning. Since prices rose ~400% from the mid 50s to the mid 90s, one would expect 50 events per year, so the data is actually a decrease in catastrophes.
    Pakistan experiences this type of flooding every 20-25 years, so this is not that much of an anomaly. This year’s event was very similar to 1973.

    Is the Russian heat wave a sign of global warming? No. Is the current European freeze a sign of a new mini ice age? No. These are all weather events that have a realistic chance of occurring, and do occur repeatedly over time. And Brian, I would venture to guess that weather-related deaths would be much higher absent AGW, as extreme cold is one of the most potent weather-related killers.

    Comment by Dan H. — 8 Dec 2010 @ 8:56 AM

  235. “The trend in tropical cyclones is downward, with 2010 being the lowest in over 30 years!”

    Adding Atlantic storms to the count… If you look here:

    Scroll down to the named storms chart for the Atlantic basin, from 1851 to 2009. It doesn’t include 2010, but what I want to bring to your attention is that the long-term average is a little over 11. Since 1995, 11 of them have been above-average. For 2010, we’ve had 19: so that brings the count to 12 of 15 above average.

    Comment by Maya — 8 Dec 2010 @ 9:27 AM

  236. Sorry, 12 of 16, including 2010.

    Comment by Maya — 8 Dec 2010 @ 9:29 AM

  237. #233 Dan H.

    You venture to guess quite a bit me thinks. Should we really trust your guesses?

    – More high temps 30’s to 50’s: Think global not local.

    – catastrophes? What about this:

    As to weather events: One thing that is reasonably clear is that these weather events are occurring while the radiative forcing is above the relatively stable thermal equilibrium. SO you certainly can’t rule out the potential influence and it is not unreasonably to say that there could be some climate change related influence.

    I will not be surprised as future studies begin to refine and identify the mechanisms associated to the trend shifts.

    Will you?

    It is important to understand that climate actually does affect weather. Direct attribution to single events may be a little harder to pinpoint, but you can’t say “No.” by a long shot.

    Or said another way, your characterization is dead wrong by all reasonable accounts.

    By the way, what European freeze? have you been reading informations on the internets again?

    It snowed a few days and now its raining. It’s not freezing, it’s wet. In fact it’s so wet, I don’t want to go to the store and I am out of bananas. Sure, it’s a bit chilly up in Norse country, but why the dramatic phrasing ‘European Freeze’. You make is sound like we are all dying over here.

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    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 8 Dec 2010 @ 9:40 AM

  238. #234 Dan H.

    Re. “weather-related deaths”

    Bringing up anything that even remotely sounds like a Bjorn Lomborg argument merely reveals a near total lack of incompetence in understanding relevance, or motive drivers at source for that matter.

    But what the heck. Okay Dan H. the anonymous wonder please to impress us with the peer reviewed study you dug that canard up out of. Yeah, I know that’s a contradiction in premise, sort of. But, just in case the canard did make it into a journal review, I’d still like to see it.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 8 Dec 2010 @ 9:53 AM

  239. oops, my bad.

    “total lack of incompetence”

    should read

    ‘total lack of competence’

    Don’t I look silly now ;)

    hmmm…, better head this one off at the pass. Before you attack me for being incompetent, be aware that I am in certain areas. Such as posting on blogs while answering silly statements from people that prefer to guess, and represent their guesses as facts; as opposed to actually doing the research and finding the relevant data.

    Yeah, I should watch my double negatives ;)

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 8 Dec 2010 @ 9:57 AM

  240. Funny, perhaps the most comprehensive recent review of the question of drought paints quite a different picture:

    Perhaps that’s because Dan’s source is not an actual research paper, but rather a publication (I choose a neutral term here!) from a political organization:

    CSCCC claims it was established as a direct response to “the many biased and alarmist claims about human induced climate change, which are being used to justify calls for intervention and regulation.”

    Internally to that document, I note that 1) the paper does not consider the actual occurrence of droughts and other disasters, but rather deaths due to them, and 2) the recent data are simply not credible, probably due to a “creative” choice of definitions.

    To the first point, since human ability to predict and/or respond to disasters of all types has improved massively over the last century, considering mortality per se doesn’t say anything at all about the trends of occurrence of those disasters. So, if Dan’s “comparison to past years” means the early years of the 20th century, then I suppose he was technically correct–but I don’t agree that that it’s meaningful. As Dan’s source itself says:

    . . .society’s ability to cope with extreme events has not only improved, it has also put its increased adaptive capacity to good effect.

    To the second point, the article claims that between 1990 and 2006, all of 186 people died as a result of drought. That’s according to the database Em-Dat. I tried to rerun the search for 1990-2006 just for Africa, but for some reason had no luck; the software kept claiming no result at all. But running a search for Africa alone since 2000 resulted in reports of 1197 deaths due to drought, with most countries–including some (notably Chad) known to have been among the most severely drought-stricken reporting *zero* fatalities. With all respect to the good folks at Em-Dat, this is not credible as a complete estimate.

    (That’s not to say the exercise is without value, of course.) The link for EmDat:

    Oh–running the search for worldwide drought fatalities from 1990-2006 resulted in 4464 reported fatalites–none in Eritrea, Sudan, or Chad, interestingly. Som-alia did report 23.

    Why the discrepancies? Well, the csccp report did their search in 2007 (hence 2006 as the then-latest year); quite possibly more reports have come in since. (But clearly, many places just don’t report, period.)

    Taking Chad as an example, actual mortality numbers aren’t super easy to find. The impression that I get is that the situation just doesn’t allow considering mortality on a “retail” basis. Rather, you get statements like this:

    The EFSA said the drought was largely responsible for pushing already alarming rates of child mortality in Chad up by 15 percent, from 2.0/10,000 in March 2009 to 2.3/10,000 today.

    That’s from here:

    Or this:

    It is a severe and large-scale crisis comprising malnutrition, food insecurity and other effects of drought which will require life-saving aid for an additional 1.6 million people. The crisis affects the Sahel belt, specifically in Kanem, Bahr El Gazal, Guera and Batha regions in western and central Chad. A total of 50,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). This is half of the nationwide total of 102,000 children suffering from SAM.

    (Call me cynical, call me simple-minded, but I strongly suspect that not all of 102,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are going to survive–or have survived.)

    From here:$FILE/myr_2010_Chad.doc?OpenElement

    (That one downloads a Word Document, so don’t click if that’s not what you want to happen.)

    Lastly, part of the problem of the discrepant numbers takes us to the second of my points above: the definitional problem. The csccp report makes the claim–confidently repeated by Dan, as by so many denialists before–that cold is ever so much more lethal than heat. That claim, though, is sustained mainly by this choice:

    The Center for Disease Control’s WONDER database was used for extreme heat and cold, because it is based on actual death certificate records, which, in turn, are based on medical opinion as opposed to the National Weather Service’s expert opinion.

    “Medical opinion” means “based upon death certificates.” But medical examiners are properly conservative in their conclusions, so if a person dies of heart failure during an episode of heat stress, it’s quite likely that the inference necessary to find the death due to heat stress will not be drawn, or at least not on the death certificate. That, after all, would require “expert opinion.”

    And studies choosing to use the NWS “expert opinion” data reach quite different conclusions–so it’s quite possible that heat is in fact more lethal, on average, than cold. I don’t think it’s presently appropriate to state airily as fact that one or the other possibility “is true.”

    Similarly the drought issue. How do you separate the malnutrition from the acute infectious disease from the poverty from the drought–or, for that matter, from the military conflict and political chaos? It’s not easy to do–the unconvincing propaganda from the csccc notwithstanding.

    (Yeah, I know–I let the neutral terminology go there, didn’t I? That’s because this business royally ticks me off. It’s not bad enough that all this stuff is happening, but certain people and institutions actually have the infernal gall to blatantly misrepresent it, sweeping the IN-human reality under a carefully-sanitized rug.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 8 Dec 2010 @ 11:48 AM

  241. “More record high temperatures in the U.S. were set in the 1930s or 1950s than this past decade,…”

    According to the graph on page 20 of “SURFACE TEMPERATURE RECORDS: POLICY-DRIVEN DECEPTION?” by Joseph D’Aleo and Anthony Watts SPPI ORIGINAL PAPER ♦ UPDATED: Aug. 27, 2010, there were more than 2500 weather stations reporting in the 30s, more than 3500 in the 50s, and less than 2000 by 2010; were those “more record high temperatures” adjusted for the deflation in stations by whoever was trying to spin the data you were given?
    I downloaded the record high temperatures for all of January 2009 from using the custom date generator and tabular data options. There were ~400 records; I then plotted temperature versus date of previous high temperature for that date and station – see – there isn’t any qualitative clustering of records in the 50s or 30s.
    The data spans 111 years to the earliest previous record; if record highs were randomly distributed over that period, the mean would be ~55 years to the previous record, with a stdev of ~33 years. The actual mean interval is ~27 years, std dev 22 years; in other words, record high temperatures are occurring more recently. Of these stations that had record highs in Jan 2009(a fixed, not declining number of stations), 104 had previous record high temperatures in the previous decade, 1998-2008; 24 had previous record highs 1950-1959; and only 5 had previous highs in the 1930s.

    “…and your dollar figures should really be inflation-adjusted to get any true meaning. Since prices rose ~400% from the mid 50s to the mid 90s, one would expect 50 events per year, so the data is actually a decrease in catastrophes.”

    Uh, when I adjust $6 billion loss/year in the 90’s for 400% inflation, I get $1,500 million versus $100 million annually in the 50’s, which is not “actually a decrease”.

    “…extreme cold is one of the most potent weather-related killers.” Move the goalposts much?
    according to “Summary of Natural Hazard Statistics for 2009 in the United States”[1] , extreme cold caused 33 fatalities, extreme heat caused 45 fatalities, and river floods + flash floods caused 53 fatalities. FWIW, extreme cold caused $0.09 million in property damage, and flooding(the hazard I originally discussed) caused $1.046 BILLION in property damage.
    When moving the goalposts, one should be careful not to score on oneself.

    [1] (NOAA website)

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 8 Dec 2010 @ 2:36 PM

  242. John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation), I don’t think it’s fair to single out Dan H to uniquely use only global events in his arguments. Nobody on the other side of the debate does. Using weather events as validation of warming is by definition localized.

    … just sayin’ …

    Comment by Rod B — 9 Dec 2010 @ 12:45 AM

  243. #242 “single out Dan H…”

    Who’s being singled out? Rod B., Dan H. and others all get opportunities to provide evidence for their statements. The criticism comes from their failure to do so and propensity to change the subject rather than admit to facts.

    Attempts to engage these people always degenerate into dialogs right out of Scary Movie 3. Rod B. = Mahalik…

    Mahalik: I heard Jamal from 90th street watched that tape last week and this mornin’ he woke up dead!
    CJ: How the h— do you wake up dead?
    Mahalik: Cause’ you’re alive when you go to sleep.
    CJ: So you’re telling me you can go to bed dead and wake up alive?
    Mahalik: You can’t go to bed dead! That s— would’ve been redundant.
    CJ: No it wouldn’t cause’ you can go to bed and not be dead, and you can die and not be in the bed.
    Mahalik: But you are in the bed. That’s how you wake up dead in the first place fool!
    CJ: Damn! that’s some quantum s— right there man! You should be teaching classes!

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 9 Dec 2010 @ 7:19 AM

  244. #241–Yes. I think there is another effect, too, unless I’m not conceptualizing this correctly.

    But–the instrumental record begins in 1880 (loosely speaking.) Given a fixed beginning point, in the absence of a temperature trend one would expect the probability of new records to decline over time, as you continually need more and more “extreme” events in order to eclipse the previous record. In the 1930s, there were ca. 50 years of data (again, loosely speaking); now, there are obviously 70 years more in the books.

    That line of thought would lead me to expect a decline in numbers of records–unless, of course, climate is actually warming.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 9 Dec 2010 @ 8:11 AM

  245. You guys are amazing.
    Brian, I am talking about record heat, and you counter with temperatures from January? We all know that the temperature increase in the latter 20th century was primarily due to increased winter and night-time readings. Check out the U.S. temperatures in July. Five of the ten hottest summers occurred in the 1930s. When was the last time the mercury exceeded 120F in North Dakota?
    You should also read your article more carefully, as the following was given as the cause of the increased dollar losses due to weather:
    “The scientists report that most of the increase has been due to societal shifts. The growth of population, demographic shifts to more storm-prone locations, the growth of wealth have collectively made the nation more vulnerable to climate extremes.” I think you just put one through your own post.
    I presented data about the long-term global tropical cylcone strength, and you try to refute the data with the number of Atlantic tropical storms in 2010? That is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
    Your report on droughts shows several aspects on drought which you may have overlooked.
    1. North America experienced several droughts similar in severity to those in the 1930s and 1950s, but longer in duration (20-40 years) between 1100 and 1400 a.d.
    2. The worst droughts in China occurred in the 1640s, 1580s, and 1960s, and widespreads drought occurring from 1500-1730 and since 1900.
    3. The devasting drought in the Sahel region of Africa during the 1970s and 1980s is not unusual, having occurred several times in the past millenia.
    4. Their data shows a drought index increase since the 1950s. However, their data also shows that the 1950s were a particularly wet time in history, and that when earlier data is included, recent years do not stand out as being particulary dry.
    You do raise a good question about how drought-related fatalities are distinguished from malnutrition. I would also add those due to wars disrupting food supplies, such as experienced in Sudan.
    I agree. Using local weather events to show that global warming is (not) happening is poor support for ones argument. If you have 100 reporting stations, then 100-year events would statistically occur annually.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Dec 2010 @ 8:28 AM

  246. Dan H: 1. North America experienced several droughts similar in severity to those in the 1930s and 1950s, but longer in duration (20-40 years) between 1100 and 1400 a.d.

    BPL: At the time, 800 million people didn’t depend on harvests from that land.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Dec 2010 @ 9:50 AM

  247. DH: 4. Their data shows a drought index increase since the 1950s. However, their data also shows that the 1950s were a particularly wet time in history, and that when earlier data is included, recent years do not stand out as being particulary dry.

    BPL: In 1870, 6% of Earth’s land surface was in “severe drought” (PDSI .le. -3). In 1970 it was 12%. In 2003 it was 31%, in 2005, 21%. It’s a very variable series, but the trend is very clearly up for the past 140 years.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Dec 2010 @ 9:54 AM

  248. Barton,
    What is interesting in their data, is that the precipitation component of the PDSI is currently near the 60-year average. The highest value (28%) was recorder in 2003, and the lowest values (11%) in 1979 and 2007. It was 22% in 1950. Overall, no trend in precipitation has been observed.
    The temperature component of PDSI results in much higher values recently due to the observed warming.
    The top-1mm soil moisture content, after rising at the turn of the century, have fallen to near average.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Dec 2010 @ 11:35 AM

  249. Dan,

    Accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) is a measure used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to express the activity of individual tropical cyclones and entire tropical cyclone seasons, *particularly the North Atlantic hurricane season.* ( – emphasis mine) I wasn’t trying to refute anything, merely adding information. I think it’s very interesting that the Atlantic ACE is still well above average (40% – ) even though the global ACE is apparently low. Don’t you?

    Most everything else I can find on ACE is regarding the North Atlantic hurricane seasons. If you google “global accumulated cyclone energy” you end up at Maue’s page, or a page that references Maue’s page. For that reason alone I am skeptical of putting too much weight on it. Why isn’t the NOAA/NCDC analyzing it, too?

    This paper, for instance, talks about the trend in increasing tropical cyclone intensity, but points out the dearth of reliable data before the 1970s.

    Comment by Maya — 9 Dec 2010 @ 11:38 AM

  250. Maya,
    The ACE shown by the NOAA dating to 1840 shows a pseudo-cyclical trend, with no net long-term change. 30 years ago, Atlantic hurricane activity was much lower than recently; 60 years ago, it was similar; 90 years ago it was lower again; 120 years ago it was high again; 150 years ago it was low. The cycle appears to closely follow the AMO.
    Also, the Atlantic hurricane season increases in intensity during La Ninas, while the Pacific typhoon activity increases during El Ninos. The idea that the two ocean bases show opposite activity is not all that surprising. Since cyclonic activity is typically higher in the Pacific, it makes sense that global activity would generally follow the strength of the Pacific Typhoons. I am not sure about Indian Ocean cyclones, but I thought they followed El Ninos also.

    Comment by Dan H. — 9 Dec 2010 @ 2:31 PM

  251. “Brian, I am talking about record heat, and you counter with temperatures from January? We all know that the temperature increase in the latter 20th century was primarily due to increased winter and night-time readings.” Glad to see you admit that the global warming predictions of Svante Arrhenius made in 1896 have been confirmed.

    When I did my analysis back in spring 2009 I did the same analysis for June 2008 as for January 2009; the mean interval to the previous high was 28 years, stdev 23 yr, Of those sites that had record highs June 2008, there were 65 previous June record highs from 1997-2007, 26 from 50-59, and only 6 from 30-39.

    The statements from your reference
    “The heat began in the heartland in late June.”
    “Mid-month provided the national peak in summer heat. July 12 through 14 recorded the hottest three-day period in US history …”
    “But hot as it was, the average temperature for the US (in the 48 contiguous states) of 77.2oF (25.1oC) in July (2006) fell just shy of the record of 77.5oF (25.3oC) set in July 1936,” don’t support your statement that “Five of the ten hottest summers occurred in the 1930s.”

    It is the same sort of cherrypicking claim as “it’s been cooling since 1998”.
    FWIW even the denialist site admits that it took “from the 1920s to the 1950s ” (49 years) to get six of their 10 warmest years, and only from 1990-2008 (18 years) to get four more – (49/6)/(18/4) = 1.8 times as frequent in the more recent period.
    If you plug the phrase “five of the ten hottest summers” into google, you get only 3 hits, all from denialist websites, and two of them claim that they occurred in the 1800’s, not 1930’s.

    Its also amusing that you castigate Maya for only looking at “number of Atlantic tropical storms in 2010”, when your reference is only about 2 months in 1936.

    “The growth of population, demographic shifts to more storm-prone locations, the growth of wealth have collectively made the nation more vulnerable to climate extremes.”
    I already took out the growth of wealth using your 400% inflation figure – leaving a fifteen fold increase in losses.
    Correcting for the fourfold increase in population (301 million in 2008 versus 76 million in 1950) leaves “only” a 3.8 fold increase in losses.
    As for demographics, looking at the losses for 2009 from by state, and comparing the percent population growth(compared to the national average growth – we’ve already corrected for that) in the top 25 loss states (94% of the total losses), we find that the average population growth is only 52% of the population growth for the nation as a whole.
    Only one state in the top 30, Florida, 12th most “storm prone location,” has a demographic shift to it (pop. growth 1.67 times the national average), and only accounts for 2.14% of the losses.

    Returning to my original point that some “are paying disproportionately” for the externalization of FF emissions, the people in the states with the ten highest losses paid 4.6 as much per capita as the average, and 125 times as much as in the least affected ten states.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 10 Dec 2010 @ 3:56 PM

  252. Why is the GISS data so out of phase with UAH, RSS, even HADCRUT all showing temps falling in Q4 2010 while GISS shows a sharp rise?

    Comment by Grabski — 13 Dec 2010 @ 6:42 AM

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