It’s difficult for me to understand how one can evaluate the consequences of a global warming, if the local changes are so much unknown. The global consequences are just the sum of local consequences – if they are so many unknown in the local responses of winters, rains, etc.. how can one evaluate any sensible figure ? and more generally, if the LOCAL variance is higher than the long term (which can be true even if the GLOBAL one is not), how can it affect significantly the all day life of people living in some place ?
[Response: It’s difficult for me to understand how one can evaluate the consequences of the Earth’s passage around the sun, if the local changes are so much unknown. The global consequences are just the sum of local consequences – if they are so many unknown in the local responses of seasons, rains, etc.. how can one evaluate any sensible figure ? and more generally, if the LOCAL variance is higher than the seasonal cycle (which can be true even if the GLOBAL one is not), how can it affect significantly the all day life of people living in some place? Indeed, it is truly a mystery. – gavin]
Good piece. When I interviewed Petoukhov on 2 December about the possible impact of the Barents-Kara Sea effect on Europe’s early freeze in November, he highlighted the difficulty in separating out NAO and BK contributions and also stressed that the BK effect increases the probability of cold winters. He said BK sea ice levels were low as at 1 December and that we would have a clearer idea of the BK contribution to the current winter by the end of this month. Watch this space. See the interview here:
Excellent article, Rasmus.
It will be most interesting to see how the winter unfolds in Europe over the coming three to four weeks. I seem to remember a pattern of rather cold temperatures in late November and December, to be followed by a flip to warm temperatures in early January. Looking at the historical NAO index seems to confirm this. Negative NAO late in the year, then strong positive NAO after New Year has been the case in a number of years.
The 09/10 winter was an exception to this, so if that is the new pattern remains to be seen.
Do you reckon I can get away with thinking about it this simply? One: average global temperature is increasing. 2) It isn’t increasing evenly – most of the warming is occurring away from the equator, further towards the poles. 3) So, overall higher average temps plus some areas being warmer obviously means others will be colder.
That’s obviously tautologically true of averages, but I’m wondering if it’s reasonable to think of the atmosphere as a closed system imposing that average?
Hmm. That seemed to make sense to me when I thought of it, now I write it down I’m less sure…! It just seems kind of obvious: in any system that’s warming, if some parts are warming more than others, other parts must – by definition – be colder than others. An obvious way, perhaps, of pointing out the logical fallacy of saying, “ha – cold! So much for global warming.”
Suppose you have a lottery machine with the numbers 1-100 in. Every day you pull out a number then put it back. It’s impossible to predict what number will come out on any day.
However, if you take an average over 10 years, then you know the mean will be close to 50.5, and each number will have been pulled out around 36 times.
Suppose now every Sunday we pull out a number and add a hundred to it using a marker pen. Then after a year or so we won’t even know what numbers are in the machine. But we can still run simulations and work out an estimate for the mean over a long period, or the probability of seeing any number.
Now if we run a set of lottery machines in 10 different locations worldwide, and once a decade we collect all the balls in a pool and then refill the machines at random, then we won’t even know the mean of the numbers in any one machine. But we still know what the mean of the numbers across all the machines is.
It’s a bit like that. The balls are conserved through the shuffling, even though they end up in different places. The same principle is climatology is the conservation of energy – there is the same (slowly increasing) amount of heat stored in the earth’s environment, but it may get shuffled around.
(Critique: If this model were true, we couldn’t make weather forecasts. In practice, weather is chaotic, not random. But you get the gist.)
Gilles, do you own stocks? Mutual funds? Bonds? Ever look at the daily fluctuations? How can you invest in such instruments long term if you don’t understand the daily fluctuations?
Answer: focus on long-term trends and the underlying fundamentals. You do the same for global climate. Focus on trends that persist over long times and over large distances–and of course, then there’s the physics, which is pretty unequivocal.
Aren’t the deniers going to jump on this? It’s global warming even when it’s cooling?
I know you are not talking about global with this cooling but how can you first tell them that you need years/decades of data to determine any trend, and so odd cold years are just ‘weather’ but then tell them after only a couple of cold winters that ‘that Global Warming could cool down winter temperatures over Europe’?
I can understand them voicing skepticism when told this in the same year that the Russian heat wave WAS likely global warming not weather.
[Response: They probably will. But the publication of this study is a fact, and it’s useful to look into that. We can’t let the deniers dictate what we do or don’t do. -rasmus]
That is ambiguous. Are there models that forecast that any place will be colder as a result of climate change? According to the illustration in the IPCC fourth report some places will warm less that others. Roughly speaking the illustration suggests that some hot places will warm less than some cold places reducing the differences between them. Naively I had thought that a reduction in temperature differences might lead to less extreme weather overall.
William Connolly’s Stoat Blog has a recent post making fun of a Green Party member’s suggestion that the climate models forecast colder temperatures in Peru.
The word “colder” is ambiguous there. Does any climate model predict that any region will be colder as a result of climate change? The IPCC fourth report shows some regions warming less than others, but nowhere is expected to become cooler.
William Connolly’s Stoat Blog has a recent post making fun of a Green Party member’s claim that the models forecast that climate change will lead to a colder Peru.
They state, “is it possible that reduced Arctic sea ice is affecting weather patterns? Because Hudson Bay (and Baffin Bay, west of Greenland) are at significantly lower latitudes than most of the Arctic Ocean, global warming may cause them to remain ice free into early winter after the Arctic Ocean has become frozen insulating the atmosphere from the ocean. The fixed location of the Hudson-Baffin heat source could plausibly affect weather patterns, in a deterministic way — Europe being half a Rossby wavelength downstream, thus producing a cold European anomaly in the trans-Atlantic seesaw.”
Any comments, particularly about what “half a Rossby wavelength downstream” means?
Ray, this bit in Gilles’ comment also leads back to your oft-made point about unbounded risk:
“. . .if the LOCAL variance is higher than the long term (which can be true even if the GLOBAL one is not), how can it affect significantly the all day life of people living in some place ?”
The straightforward response would be “for some, it can/will affect them a whole lot WORSE than the global mean.” But given the existence of breaking points in complex systems, “harm” is nonlinear, too.
I don’t get it with my limited understanding. Petoukhov and Semenov used a standard climate model to figure out that European winters may get colder when sea ice is reduced in the Barents/Kara areas, correct? If so – why did they have to simulate that separately? Wouldn’t the standard model runs have to show the exact same patterns? And if they did not – why?
Would it not also seem somewhat important in the larger scale of things? Shouldn’t regularly covering Europe in ice and snow for a couple of months have some secondary effects in terms of reflectivity or for the biosphere or whatever? And wouldn’t those effects add up to more than the local drops in temperature that probably average out anyway?
All this discussion of local effects means you cant see the wood for the trees.Is the earth currently warming or cooling? The GISS averaging algorithms are so poor as to be useless .The November discepancy between GISS and CRU is so large as to finally destroy all credibility of the Hansen group. Because of the thermal inertia of the oceans and the absence of the UHI effect the Hadley CRU SST data are the best for discussion purposes. This data shows that the warming trend peaked in 2003 and a simple regression analysis gives a cooling trend since then.
[Response: It’s not advised to regard a linear regression fit to a short time period – there is not much to be learned from that. See this previous post.]
The geologic record shows clearly that the sun is the main climate driver. The Milankovitch multi-millennial orbital cycles in NH insolation are firmly established in the record as are the Schwab and deVries cycles. Other millennial and decadal variations in solar activity are present in the record. TSI is not the only or even the best indicator of solar activity – variations in EUV radiation and the GCR flux (via cloud formation and earth’s albedo) seem to be more important on decadal and centennial scales . Earth’s climate is the result of complex resonances between all these solar cycles with the lunar declination cycles and endogenous earth processes.Until we better understand the natural variations we cannot even estimate the small contribution 0f anthropogenic C)2 with any useful accuracy.
[Response: We have discussed the solar-forcing many times here on RealClimate: just to give you with one flavour here. Basically, there is no evidence – no recent trend in solar forcing – that can explain the present warming. Gavin and I addressed this in last year’s JGR paper: ‘Solar trends and global warming‘, JGR-atmospheres, 114, D14101, doi:10.1029/2008JD011639. -rasmus]
At this time the sun has entered a quiet phase with a dramatic drop in solar magnetic field strength since 2004. This suggests the likelihood of a cooling phase on earth with Solar Cycles 21, 22 ,23 equivalent to Solar Cycles 2,3,4, and the delayed Cycle 24 comparable with Cycle 5 so that a Dalton type minimum is probable.
[Response: That ought to affect the levels of Galactic Cosmic Rays, but read this!. -rasmus]
Policymakers may wish to note the following possible effects on earth’s climate for the next 20 – 30 years. A cooler world with lower SSTs usually means a dryer world. Thus droughts will be more likely in for example east Africa with possible monsoon failures in India. In California the PDO will mean less rainfall with more forest fires in the south. However in the Cascades and Northern Sierras snowpack could increase since more of the rain could occur as snow. Northern Hemisphere growing seasons will be shorter with occasional early and late frosts and drought in the US corn belt and in Asia repeats of the harsh Mongolian and Chinese winters of 2009 – 10 . In Europe cold snowy winters and cool cloudy summers will be more frequent.
[Response: Te local climate reacts in a complicated non-linear fashion. I think it’s hard to tell what the local effects will be in different parts of the world. Even the future prospects of ENSO are not certain. -rasmus]
There will be a steeper temperature gradient from the tropics to the poles so that violent thunderstorms with associated flooding and tornadoes will be more frequent in the USA, At the same time the jet stream will swing more sharply North – South thus local weather in the Northern hemisphere in particular will be generally more variable with occasional more northerly heat waves and more southerly unusually cold snaps. In the USA hurricanes may strike the east coast with greater frequency in summer and storm related blizzards more common in winter.
The southern continents will be generally cooler with more frequent droughts and frost and snow in winter,
The southern continents will be generally cooler with more frequent droughts and frost and snowin winter.
Arctic and Antarctic sea ice may react differentially to an average global cooling. We might expect sea ice to increase in the Antarctic but in the NH the Arctic Oscillation while bringing cooler temperatures further south may also occasionaly bring warmer air into the Arctic with possible relative loss of sea ice in that areaduring those years.
[Response: I will not count on this. As the study discussed here showed, there may be some intriguing non-linear effects. -rasmus]
The most general advice is that world food production will be subject to occasional serious severe restriction because of cold and drought. The use of food crops for biofuels should be abandoned and stockpiles built up for possible lean times ahead.. Northern cities and transportation systems should prepare for more frequent heavy snow and ice storms.
There is no threat from the burning of fossil fuels for the forseeable future, indeed an increase in CO2 would positively help in feeding the burgeoning population.
For the next 20 years climate science should be devoted to improving and enlarging the entire climate data base in particular with regard to solar data of all kinds. No climate model runs should be made until 2020 by which time the inputs and framework will hopefully be more relevant to the real world.
[Response: Solar forcing is not the most important factor here – I think you are on thin ice with these scenarios. -rasmus]
#15 (Norman): I thought “skeptics” regarded the UAH dataset to be the only reliable one, but it might not be so popular now that it might be the only dataset that puts 2010 in the #1 spot? Also interesting that the CRU dataset is now heralded as the best. Wasn’t this dataset “proven false” in that stolen email story about a year ago. Intriguing indeed. Could its current revival and popularity have something to do with the fact that it currently shows the lowest anomalies (due to it basically ignoring the current extreme warming of large regions of the Arctic, thus the deviation from GISS)?
Norman, at 15: The geologic record does not show that the sun is the major climate driver. In fact, most geologists think that the temperature changes are caused by long term changes in the carbon cycle affecting the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In the really long term, astrophysicists have proposed that the solar insolation should cause a warming trend. In the last 50 million years there has been a general cooling trend.
It is a puzzle to me why certain people think that geologic evidence of warmer past earths in some way invalidates global warming. If anything, the evidence would suggest that the earth can change temperature within certain bounds relatively easily, i.e., that there is a high climate sensitivity.
I’ve been re-reading papers on the Arctic/NH Circulation issue for the last few weeks and am still trying to get my head around it. Very complex issue.
Using the Arctic Oscillation Index (AO), the monthly average was -4.27 for February 2010, that’s the lowest since 1950 (the start of the series). The next lowest was Jan 1977 at -3.77. I’ll be using February 2010’s AO as an indicator. Given that various experts are saying there was a causal link for Arctic ice in cold winter of 2010, it seems reasonable that we might expect to see similar unusual deviations of the AO in future winters.
I’m still trying to reconcile my understanding of the AO and the Arctic Dipole (AD). It seems to me that the AO is still a substantial factor, despite some blogs heralding the AD as a ‘new’ dominant mode in the Arctic. I’m also pondering Stu Ostro’s work and how that fits into these changes in atmospheric circulation, both within and without the Arctic.
As to why winter has hit the UK so early, that may be because of the La Nina – according to a BBC meteorologist. It’s severity may still be due to the changes in the Arctic.
I await the coming winters with interest.
No I don’t think such simple reasoning is correct.
1) Open water allows heat and moisture (which releases heat) from the sea to enter the atmosphere.
2) When Arctic ice re-freezes over open water in the autumn it releases the heat it took to melt.
Both 1 and 2 affect the vertical temperature gradient of the atmosphere, remember, it gets colder as you go up from the surface into the atmosphere.
As ice cover changes factors 1 and 2 change the atmosphere in the area where the ice changes. So as there’s less ice in the Barents and Kara Seas the atmosphere above them changes.
These atmospheric changes can have impacts outisde the Arctic causing changes throught the Northern Hemisphere. In the case of Petoukhov and Semenov’s paper they show a possible link between what goes on in the atmosphere above the Barents and Kara sea and whether we get blocking high pressure systems in Europe. When we get blocking highs they block the low pressure systems that normally bring mild air from the Atlantic, hence we cool.
One valid explanation for recent cooling trends in eastern boundary upwelling regions such as in California, Peru, Namibia and Mauritania was proposed by Andy Bakun. It is based on the prediction that continental temperature should rise more rapidly that ocean surface temperatures, so that the air pressure difference between continents and ocean would tend to decrease and intensify the equator-ward winds along the meridional coastlines. The wind forcing would then drive a more vigorous upwelling (… and hence favour sea surface temperature to drop, I just quoted the remark from one reviewer in a recent paper published in Ocean Science). My understanding of such “local cooling” possibility is indeed counter-intuitive but can explain to some extent some local cooling responses to a regional warming.
Not only such a trend is apparently seen in data, but it is also already recorded in geological data (marine sediments) from all those places.
The question on whether such anomalies will persist over the next decades remains of course unanswered, but the fact that GCMs cannot capture those local oceanic freatures may be due to the fact that such small-scale processes in coastal environments are not adequately resolved in GCMs.
The original publication on that mechanism, focusing on California upwelling mainly:
Bakun, A.: Global climate change and intensification of coastal ocean upwelling, Science, 247, 198–201, 1990.
The effect as seen in recent sediments in Namibia:
Leduc G., Herbert C., Blanz T., Martinez P., Schneider R. Contrasting evolution of Sea Surface Temperature in the Benguela upwelling system under natural and anthropogenic climate forcings. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L20705, doi:10.1029/2010GL044353, 2010.
McGregor, H. V., M. Dima, H. W. Fischer, and S. Mulitza (2007), Rapid 20th‐century increase in coastal upwelling off northwest Africa, Science, 315, 637–639, doi:10.1126/science.1134839.
Peru (abstract from AGU fm09, but peer-review paper in the pipeline):
Bouloubassi, I., et al. (2009), Cooling trend and enhancement of productivity in the upwelling off Peru since the late 19th century, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract PP41B‐1520.
It is very common to hear that a single event can’t be tied causally with a long term trend. And, the example of hurricanes is given here. But there are a number of events that we may call single such as heat waves, long term droughts and seasonal weather patterns which may be causally tied in some aspects of their manifestations. If droughts are worsened and extended by average warming, then there is a causal link. If heat waves are hotter than ever before seen because the background warming makes this happen, then there is a causal link. Here, the link seems also to be with a warming phenomenon, the change is sea ice extent. This suggests a causal chain at least and it may be a mistake to compare the change of a whole season to the occurrence of any one hurricane.
It’s always entertaining when someone dismisses the cumulative result of (essentially) thousands of peer-reviewed studies, then goes on for several lengthy (and not too coherent) paragraphs of “clairvoyant” hand-waving.
The Jetstream flows from West to East, Rossby waves are the meanders in the Jetstream as it flows from W to E. In the case of that graphic notice how the Jetstream is diverted South toawrds the mediterranean instead of over the UK as is more typical for this time of year. It was diverted by a blocking high pressure system extending over the UK.
Hansen is saying that changes in Hudson Bay will cause changes in the Jetstream track/kinks that will propagate over the Atlantic to Europe. W.r.t the half wavelength – I think he’s suggesting similar Atlantic Jetstream track to the one in the graphic, with the kink off the US Eastern Seaboard being south of Hudson Bay, and a consequent southern track entering Europe.
The variance of a random variable or distribution is the expectation, or mean, of the squared deviation of that variable from its expected value or mean. Thus the variance is a measure of the amount of variation within the values of that variable, taking account of all possible values and their probabilities or weightings (not just the extremes which give the range).
No, not believable at all.
Then hopping on the post so quickly — and showing such unfamiliarity?
Here’s my simple-minded take on this. I hope knowledgeable parties will find a middle ground to explain in plain English as much as possible, clarifying and correcting errors I am likely to make. It is logical to assume that as the Arctic melts, it will be sending cold south from time to time. Some of this water vapor, some wind. Then there’s that weird horseshoe pattern, and a kind of layer cake of warmer and colder, with the warmest in the center/top, colder to the south, etc. It appears that the pattern of ocean and land affect this. Northern Europe is situated to receive some of the worst of it, as is north-central US and Canada. Then there’s the lack of contrast between Arctic and south, which affects the boundary between hot and cold.
and (c) Wunderground which did a good job on this recently: “Hot Arctic-Cold Continents.” http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1710&tstamp=
“The winter of 2009 – 2010 had the most extreme negative NAO since record keeping began in 1865. This “Hot Arctic-Cold Continents pattern”, resulting in a reversal of Polar Vortex and high pressure replacing low pressure over the Arctic, had occurred previously in only four winters during the past 160 years—1969, 1963, 1936, and 1881. Dr. Overland … suspected that Arctic sea ice loss was a likely culprit for the event, since Francis et al. (2009) found that during 1979 – 2006, years that had unusually low summertime Arctic sea ice had a 10 – 20% reduction in the temperature difference between the Equator and North Pole. This resulted in a weaker jet stream with slower winds that lasted a full six months, through fall and winter. The weaker jet caused a weaker Aleutian Low and Icelandic Low during the winter, resulting in a more negative North Atlantic Oscillation, allowing cold air to spill out of the Arctic and into Europe and the Eastern U.S. …. Not every year that we see extremely high levels of Arctic sea ice loss will have a strongly negative NAO winter….
“However, the strongly negative NAO is back again this winter. High pressure has replaced low pressure over the North Pole, … This strongly negative NAO has continued into December, and we are on course to have a top-five most extreme December NAO. Cold air is once again spilling southwards into the Eastern U.S. And Europe, bringing record cold and fierce snowstorms. At the same time, warm air is flowing into the Arctic to replace the cold air spilling south–temperatures averaged more than 10°C (18°F) above average over much of Greenland so far this month.”
From the AGU blog interview with John Cook at Skeptical Science:
“What advice would you give to scientists about reaching out to the public?
“Cook: A lot of climate scientists have trouble boiling things down to plain English that people can understand, because when you’re knee-deep in jargon all day it’s hard to stop using it. The funny thing is that I’ve found that often the non-scientists are actually better at explaining science. I think they just have ways of explaining it in a manner that the non-scientist can grasp, whereas
**scientists tend to lean on technical jargon because it’s more precise and less likely to be misinterpreted. It’s safer to use technical jargon because once you start using metaphors and simple language there’s a danger of being misinterpreted, but it also means you can speak more meaningfully to people. So it’s just that risk you have to take I think.**
People aren’t just persuaded by facts and evidence, that’s not sufficient to get people motivated to change. It’s not enough just for climate scientists to present the facts: how we present it, and how we explain it, and which audience we’re talking to, all that matters. One thing I’ve learned is that just giving doom and gloom messages isn’t enough. Just telling people that sea levels are going to rise and that heat waves are going to make things bad can often turn people into denial. You also have to give people positive information: which is that there is hope
yeah, I should learn how to make bold and indent things, sorry …
Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Dec 2010 @ 10:57 AM
oops, those last paragraphs are all from John Cook at Skeptical Science, for the quotation marks.
Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Dec 2010 @ 10:59 AM
Re Arctic Surface Based Inversion: I was trying to keep things simple and the impact I outlined was mainly in the autumn season (when such inversions are less common).
I use this analogy when explaining why a few degrees C will make a difference in our everyday lives when weekly temperature changes can be so large. The average annual temperature of Chicago is about 5 C lower than Memphis. Have you been to Memphis anytime between May and September? It’s hot and humid and hot and humid beyond belief. Yet that’s going to be Chicago’s climate by 2080 if we persist on our current carbon path (GISS climate models). It may well be a lot drier to boot.
There has been some discussion on meteorological websites that this European cold weather is caused/affected by stratospheric warming episodes affecting the polar vortex. Would this be consistent with this, and what mechanisms might influence the stratospheric weather?
Norman Page, Thank you so much for your post. Thanks to you, I was able to fill in completely my Denialist Bingo card–all from one post. Unfortunately, while your “throw everyting including the kitchen sink against the wall and see if it sticks” approach ain’t science. Let me know when the denialists develop a climate model that comes close to explaining anything about this planet’s climate. Then we’ll talk. Oh, and give Anthony our love.
Norman Page @ 15 said:
“The geologic record shows clearly that the sun is the main climate driver.”
Well I hope you are not a geologist because if you are, you should know better.
The sun is the dominant source of energy to Earth’s surface and hence regular variations in orbital parameters are important drivers of cyclic climate change. However, beyond the relatively brief “snowball Earth” episodes between 500 and 1000 million years ago, the geologic record shows that surficial conditions on early Earth were not uniformaly cooler than at present in spite of incoming solar energy being up to 30% less. This is known as the “weak sun paradox” and must involve some aspect of atmospheric composition to be explained.
Regarding comment #9 by Lazarus, it seems a solution would be to make the title more specific to something like “Cold local winters in a warming world” or “Cold regional…” or “Cold European and eastern U.S. winters…” (needs a bit of work). We could just as accurately write “Unusually warm Arctic winters in a warming world”, as such unusual cold in Europe and eastern U.S. is often coupled with very mild temperatures in parts of the Arctic.
Deniers will still spin it but it’s a little more difficult when some ambiguity is removed and it’s made clear what this particular analysis is referring to.
Norman Page (#15) writes:
“The November discepancy between GISS and CRU is so large as to finally destroy all credibility of the Hansen group.”
I guess there would be a discrepancy, since CRU data for November doesn’t appear to be out yet.
…but if CRU was out, and if you found the baseline-adjusted value difference with GISS to be “large” (well beyond monthly statistical error bars), why in the world would you jump to such a conclusion? Wouldn’t you want to scrutinize HadCRU (a dataset that inherently assumes the Arctic is warming at the same rate as the rest of the world) equally, or is it just the fact that you want to believe warmer values are inherently not “credible”.
5, Dan Olner: Hmm. That seemed to make sense to me when I thought of it, now I write it down I’m less sure…! It just seems kind of obvious: in any system that’s warming, if some parts are warming more than others, other parts must – by definition – be colder than others. An obvious way, perhaps, of pointing out the logical fallacy of saying, “ha – cold! So much for global warming.”
An analogy that people might understand is the effect of wind speed on ocean waves: as the energy in the wind increases, the magnitude of the waves increases, and the peaks get higher AND the troughs get lower. Change wind speed to insolation (actually, in this case, heat retention through CO2 accumulation), and allow for greater spatial and temporal complexity, and higher average energy produces higher highs and lower lows.
The effect of the wind on the waves is well known, yet too complex to be modeled exactly; so the inability to make exact predictions in most cases does not contradict the basic result. In like fashion, the GCMs can not accurately predict where and when the relative increased highs and relative decreased lows will occur, but that by itself does not contradict the notion of gradually increasing total heat (and higher averages) in the system.
Chapters 18 and 19 of “Modern Thermodynamics” by Kondepudi and Prigogine provide an introduction to nonlinear dissipative systems for thermodynamic science. The experimental and computational examples are much simpler than the climate system, being small 1 and 2 dimensional systems with constant input: whereas the climate system is huge with millions of dimensions and spatially and temporally varying input. But the many traveling waves (Rayleigh waves) and other oscillatory systems are the sorts of things that the theories qualitatively predict.
From the main text: Rather, recent analysis suggest that the global mean temperature is marching towards higher values (see figure below), and Petoukhov and Semenov argue that the cold winter should be an expected consequence of a global warming.
That unfortunately may not be true, either in the near future or ever. The system is exceedingly complex and chaotic. With parameters (sometimes called physical constants) estimated to only 2 or 3 significant figures, even the best predictions may never accurately predict exactly where and when the temperatures will be above and below average for the time and place; only that the global average will increase (mostly monotonically). AGW may lead to post-hoc partial understandings of how some extremes have been produced (e.g. last NH winter and the present NH winter) without being precise and complete enough to predict them in advance. That is an unfortunate situation that makes AGW look like astrology; but it seems to be the nature of the science.
As long as the global mean temperature (or global total heat content) rises, the reappearance of record cold waves does not disprove AGW.
Consequently, to paraphrase a quote from another thread, statistical analyses are essential to deciding whether AGW is true (and how much warming to expect), and studies of mechanisms can’t be expected to yield reasonably accurate predictions any time soon.
The Chicken paper, as well, is also an example of science presented in a way that makes it accessible to the common man. If only papers in the field of climate could be so clear and inarguable. Why does avian science seem to attract the most talented intellects?
Rossby waves: I just read about them in John Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres.” Other planets have Rossby waves as well. They are caused by the spinning of the planet with a fluid atmosphere. There are several modes available and these modes produce different wave numbers. With one wave number, the nodes can move around the planet.
Have I remembered it correctly so far?
“Cold” winters: NOT any more. Anybody who thinks recent winters are cold has a short memory or has moved too often. Recent winters, including this one, are WARM. Clothing manufacturers are skimping on the insulation in “winter” coats, making you feel cold. Youngsters [20 something] call me crazy for remembering being outdoors when the straight temperature [not counting wind] was 40 below. And it doesn’t snow much any more either.
It snows when it is warm, not when it is cold. 28 degrees F is warm. When the temperature gets to 40 below, the snow stops coming down in lake effect areas. That is because it doesn’t get to 40 below until the lakes are frozen over, depriving the air of its water source.
I haven’t gone through all the comments in detail. But it seems to me that expecting warming to produce a colder winter shouldn’t be that intuitively difficult. Wisconsin has much hotter summers than New York City, yet winter there is positively brutal. Without a large body of water nearby, you expect extremes.
In the case of a warmer body of water, it strikes me as not at all counterintuitive to think that there might be some effect that would make things colder locally — the old example of what would happen to Europe if the Gulf Stream switched off is one way you could have an ocean on average warmer and still have South Dakota-like winter weather in England.
I guess the really interesting point is that the climate system already has the potential to go into an ice age next tuesday- all it takes is an impossible redistribuition of heat in the climate system this weekend.
Re 11 Slioch – adding to 25 Chris “half a Rossby wavelength downstream”
Rossby waves propagate because of a tendency to conserve (I)PV – (isentropic) potential vorticity (proportional to the vertical component of absolute vorticity * some measure of static stability (which is inversely proportional to the mass per unit area per layer where layers are bounded by isentropic or isopycnal surfaces, which are equivalent to material surfaces if the flow is adiabatic); specifically IPV is conserved for adiabatic inviscid flows (no net latent, radiant, or contact (as in at the surface by conduction) heating or cooling, no mixing (on an unresolved scale)/diffusion, no viscosity) (and also setting aside the ‘curvature terms’ in the momentum equations (these account for the rotation of the local coordinates (up-down, east-west, north-south) as flow moves around a ~spherical planet/star); I’m not sure yet what exactly those terms do to IPV conservation); reality doesn’t fit this but it can be used as a useful approximation, particularly for sufficiently short time scales, or as a basis for understanding phenomena, which continue to exist in modified form with diabatic and viscous processses taken into account (PS I think setting aside curvature terms can be justified for horizontally small material displacements, even when the flow structures are horizontally large). (PS waves can also be described more simply if their amplitudes are small, which reduces nonlinear effects.)
From an IPV distribution and some boundary conditions, and the coriolis parameter f (equal to (vertical component of) planetary vorticity), and a relationship between mass and wind (such as geostrophic or gradient-wind balance), a flow pattern can be reconstructed. Allowing geostrophic adjustement to the IPV distribution, IPV anomalies induce cyclonic or anticyclonic circulations within and around themselves depending on sign of anomaly and hemisphere. Thus, if there is a (quasi-horizontal) IPV gradient, such as increasing from south to north, then if IPV is conserved, or at least doesn’t change too much, an IPV wave induces circulations that, by IPV transport, produces an IPV wave that is out of phase with the first wave; specifically, the wave propagates with a component of phase propagation perpendicular to the IPV gradient and parallel with IPV contours – this is westward for IPV increasing northward. The group velocity (the velocity with which wave energy, momentum (?), amplitude variations, etc, propagate) is an interesting function of wave vector (wave vector is in the direction of phase propagation perpendicular to phase lines or planes, and has a magnitude inversely proportional to wavelength), such that, spanning the spectrum of Rossby waves, the group velocity can be in any direction.
As just described, the group velocity and phase motion are relative to the flow itself; thus if superimposed on a westerly flow of sufficient speed, a wave of some orientation and wavelength may be stationary relative to the Earth.
Quasistationary waves can be produced or sustained by stationary features that disturb the flow, such as topography or SST anomaly; group velocity carries wave activity around the globe while the phase distribution approaches some stationary equilibrium; the amplitude will depend on the wind speed and the wavelengths of the features that are forcing the waves.
Wind hitting topography can impart westerly momentum from the air to the Earth below (the momentum cycle also includes viscous dissipation of wind and is closed by a transfer of westerly momentum from the Earth to the atmosphere at lower latitudes); Quasistationary waves in westerly flow that are forced by topography that tilt westward with height have an upward component of group velocity; wave energy may be dissipated at higher levels, which causes a westward acceleration there.
(With cyclonic IPV increasing poleward, group velocity has north-south and up-down components in the same directions toward which phase lines tilt toward the west)
Rossby waves at different locations with oppositely-directed IPV gradients can amplify or weaken each other or niether, depending on how their phases are lined up, and also ‘propagate’ each other towards a different phase alignment, toward that which favors mutual amplification; for particular combinations of conditions, distances, and wavelengths, the two sets of waves can phase-lock and grow exponentially (until nonlinear effects become important) – this is baroclinic and/or barotropic instability (baroclinic for Rossby waves at different vertical levels at the same horizontal location, barotropic for waves at the same level (or same isentropic or isopyncal surface, I would think) interacting across a horizontal distance); for other combinations, the self-propagation of the waves or the different flows themselves will overcome the interaction and keep shifting the waves’ phase alignments.
A location where the flow moves with the phase propagation of a Rossby wave is called a critical level.
Potential temperature (defines isentropic surfaces) or potential density (defines isopycnal surfaces) may vary along an upper or lower boundary of a fluid; geostrophic adjustment to anomalies at such a boundary produces a structure as if an IPV anomaly existed, so that gradients and anomalies in potential temperature or density at a lower or upper boundary act like IPV gradients and boundaries, with higher potential temperature or lower potential density anomaly at a lower boundary (such as, for the atmosphere, the Earth’s surface) acting like a cyclonic IPV anomaly; it’s opposite for an upper boundary. Thus, Rossby waves (if I’m not using the term too generally) can occur at the surface due to topography in a stratified atmosphere or due to a horizontal temperature gradient, or some combination; the horizontal temperature gradient is important for the baroclinic instability that gives rise to extratropical storm track activity. Rossby waves can also occur at an IPV front between regions without IPV gradients – the combination of the two implies the possibility for Rossby waves to propagate along a line. The dispersion relationships are different for such upper or lower boundary and also for PV-front waves. A PV front would induce a jet. I’ve read that all Rossby waves on a PV-front would have critical levels on either side, where the wave is not propagating through the fluid, so that continual displacement results in mixing, so that PV tends to become more homogeneous on either side. Jets on PV-fronts are also ‘flaccid’ as well as ‘elastic’ (there’s an article – don’t have the website offhand).
Rossby waves can be reflected and refracted, emitted (forced), and absorbed, they can break via nonlinear effects (also ends in absorption so far as I know); they can be advected – and they can be distorted by the flow. They can be ‘overreflected’ (I don’t know a lot about that yet – I had imagined it’s a bit like ‘stimulated emission’ – or maybe not). They can even tunnel across barriers to propagation (see also ‘evanescent wave’) When Rossby wave activity leaves an area, the wavelength-averaged flow will tend to accelerate (westerly acceleration in the case of cyclonic IPV increasing poleward, which is typical); Rossby wave activity arriving at an area tends to cause the opposite acceleration; absorption of Rossby wave activity makes this change ‘permanent’ (until something else happens, of course). Wave energy and momentum (?), propagating with the group velocity, are transported from where activity is forced/produced to where it is consumed/absorbed. Nonlinear interactions allow Rossby wave activity to spread from different parts of the spectrum to other parts (to different wave vectors); see also ‘Rhine’s scale’. Rossby waves and (I)PV are key to much understanding of the atmospheric (and oceanic) circulation.
(Much can be said about waves in general, which would also apply to, for example, inertia-gravity and Kelvin waves, and Rossby-gravity waves, … how about Alfven waves? (see Garrett-Munk (sp?), QBO)
Yes. I expect Hudson and Baffin bay ice loss is pretty significant as well. And circulation in
remote areas is affected by teleconnections. If anomalous sea ice (or lack of it) is
not evenly distributed longitudewise, one should expect some effect on the mean (circulation pattern thoughout the northern hemisphere.
(PS a simple mechanism responsible for acclerations associated with Rossby wave activity: consider a limited region of Rossby wave activity; the waves are IPV contour displacements; their existance requires a net rearrangement of IPV; there is a wavelength-averaged IPV flux downgradient with increasing amplitude, which requires some net accumulation or depletion of IPV on either side of the wave activity; this induces a flow that is opposite to the flow that would be induced by the original IPV gradient aside from the portion associated with planetary vorticity. (I’ve never come across the explanation layed-out as such but I think it’s correct, or at least it must be part of the explanation.)
Gavin : “It’s difficult for me to understand how one can evaluate the consequences of the Earth’s passage around the sun, if the local changes are so much unknown. ….if the LOCAL variance is higher than the seasonal cycle (which can be true even if the GLOBAL one is not)”
Gavin, concerning your question, I have an answer : the local variance during a season is NOT smaller than the seasonal change – if it were, we wouldn’t indeed have seasons.
Kevin : “Now if we run a set of lottery machines in 10 different locations worldwide, and once a decade we collect all the balls in a pool and then refill the machines at random, then we won’t even know the mean of the numbers in any one machine. But we still know what the mean of the numbers across all the machines is.”
That’s plainly wrong – the mean of the numbers in any machine is on average the same as the global one. Only the variance is higher.
Ray : “Answer: focus on long-term trends and the underlying fundamentals. ”
I agree, but only because, as I said, the trend becomes larger than the variance after some time intervaL My question is only : do we have a proper estimate of the time when this will occur for the average local temperature ? (which must be significantly longer than for the global one ?).
I would offer a quantitative answer : If you approximate the global temperature as an average of N spatially autocorrelated, relatively homogeneous regions (defined by a typical autocorrelation length), you expect the global variance to be the local variance divided by N^1/2. (This should be refined by considering the influence of different latitudes and sea/land differences for instance, but it is just a first approximation). So the time needed for the trend to exceed the local variance should be of the order of N^1/2 times that for the global one. An idea for N ?
You need to read Francis 2009 “Winter Northern Hemisphere weather patterns remember summer Arctic sea-ice extent.” Particularly figure 3 and assoc text which demonstrates and discusses the memory in the Arctic system that carries disturbance in the atmosphere from autumn into winter. e.g.
Does the influence of extreme summer ice extent
continue into winter? And if so, what are the mechanisms
that provide the memory? We speculate that after low-ice
summers, the additional heating of the lower troposphere
increases the vertical geometric thickness of the lower
atmosphere, resulting in higher geopotential heights of
upper pressure surfaces in the proximity of ice loss, and a
relaxation of the poleward temperature gradient between
mid- and high-latitudes.
Modelling studies like the one discussed here may help to confirm and elucidate the exact processes in play.
I was right;
Gavin 1999 : Greenhouse Effect Makes Winters Warm
[Response: Since you ask, I think that long term impact of changing CO2 on the stratosphere-troposphere temperature gradient will likely drive a shift towards more positive winter NAO/AO patterns, that would – all other things being equal – lead to more zonal flow and less cold air outbreaks like the ones we have seen this winter in Europe. Whether the impact of reducing sea ice adds a countervailing pressure for an opposite effect is an interesting idea, and one that needs to be examined more thoroughly than it has been. But it is certainly worth pointing out that the tendencies from either effect are much smaller than the in-season variability in these patterns and conclusions are not going to be found from looking at single seasons. – gavin]
Septic Matthew (39), I think your main idea is correct but I’m bothered by a couple of your nuances or insinuations. Cold weather periods do not disprove AGW as you say, but neither do they add supporting evidence of proof of AGW as is so often implied or even stated.
You paraphrase that statistical analysis is necessary in climate science and that [just] mechanisms can’t predict future climate. Yet the thought was that statistical analyses alone are insufficient evidence in climate science, and mechanisms are a necessary requirement. Your comment does not technically counter the latter, but it sure sounds like you are trying to convince people otherwise. Am I right, or did I miss it?
Basically, instead of low pressure dominating the arctic during the winter, high pressure does.
This is similar to leaving the door to the refrigerator open.
It allows cold arctic air to invade the continents and warm air to move north.
Not clear how much this is due to general warming of the atmosphere versus reduction in sea ice or some combination of a larger number of factors.
However, there has been a general trend towards increasing precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere which during November/December means more snow storms.
For me, the key point is relatively straightforward (and has already been made in one way or another by several commenters): as Arctic sea ice refreezes in autumn and early winter it releases heat to the atmosphere. In recent years, the amount of ice forming has increased significantly, and so the amount of heat entering the atmosphere has also increased. The amount of heat varies regionally. Hansen mentions Hudson Bay, but there were also large persistent anomalies in the Chukchi and Kara Seas (both now frozen over). The circumpolar atmospheric circulation is therefore “seeing” and responding to new, large heat and moisture inputs in fixed areas, and that may well be driving the WACCy weather. In fact, it would be a miracle if the changes in the Arctic ocean energy budget were not having some significant effects.
My speculation would be that this a transient phenomenon. If Arctic sea ice extent and volume continues to decline, eventually the release of heat to the atmosphere in autumn and early winter would become “smeared out” around the Arctic, rather than “pinned ” to particular locations, perhaps making the current WACC pattern less likely.
Worth remembering that climate change is not only delivered by slow changes in long term averages, but also by changes in patterns of weather.
I’d be interested to see an analysis of the frequency of cold spells in the UK and western Europe over the last half century, and the synoptics that drove them. My recollection is that cold outbursts were usually associated with intense high pressures becoming established over Scandinavia funnelling cold Russian air westwards. The current pattern seems to depend more on high pressure over Greenland — but perhaps I’m not seeing the bigger picture… ;-)
À propos of the top post, the arctic oscillation is off the chart again this winter, and many areas have more precipitation than expected with La Niña.
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 18 Dec 2010 @ 8:25 PM
#58 (Lazarus): The connection between general warming and increased frequency of positive phases of the NAO is well documented. Look into work done by the Norwegian Bjerknes Centre. However, the (much) faster than anticipated melting of the Arctic sea ice and resulting changes to the atmospheric circulation patterns has introduced a forcing that seems to be overpowering this (at least temporarily). However, note that models predicting a connection between low ice cover and negative phases of the NAO are not new. For example, have a look at Magnusdottir et al. (2004). They found that negative anomalies in the Greenland sea ice cover would help force a negative NAO. In short: warming forces positive NAO until ice loss induced atmospheric changes take over and force a negative NAO. Models have shown that this will be the case until the ice cover drops to a stage where the resulting net forcing will once again favor the positive NAO.
The circulation patterns of polar air have been altered by global warming, shifting both the location and strength of high and low pressure systems that steer polar jet streams. These changes are leading to unusual and unpredictable changes in temperature in winter in the northern hemisphere; sometimes it may be colder than usual in some places. However, in most places it is warmer. Also, because warmer air holds more moisture, many locales may see higher snowfalls than normal. Remember, “warmer” does not necessarily mean “warm”: though 15 degrees is significantly warmer than 5 degrees, it doesn’t make most people want a refreshing dip in a pond.
*i.e., those whose most recent science course was 10 or more years ago, poorly taught, and less interesting than the attractive lab partner.
60, Rod B.: Cold weather periods do not disprove AGW as you say, but neither do they add supporting evidence of proof of AGW as is so often implied or even stated.
I agree, but I have not read that cold winters are supporting evidence of AGW; what I have read are detailed analyses of specific cold winters (such as what is happening now, and some aspects of the last NH winter) where the complete mechanism is supportive of AGW. I don’t think anyone actually predicted that this winter in GB would be as cold and snowy as last winter, but the combination of warmer Arctic winters and worst GB winters illustrates how more total warmth can produce a region and time with unusually cool temps.
Yet the thought was that statistical analyses alone are insufficient evidence in climate science, and mechanisms are a necessary requirement. Your comment does not technically counter the latter, but it sure sounds like you are trying to convince people otherwise.
If what I wrote is correct in the main, then models incorporating mechanisms will not make correct detailed predictions (about what places will be unusually warm/cold over any prespecified time interval, such as predicting last summer’s unusual heat near Moscow and simultaneous unusuall coolness NE of Moscow.) Consequently, as everyone has emphasized on this site, they can’t be even potentially disconfirmed over short time spans by particular model failures. I think it is likely that an appropriate statistical model that eschews detailed mechanisms (Possibly Barton Paul Levenson’s Granger Causality; but more likely a non-linear, non-stationary vector autoregressive model) may provide more accurate predictions of global averages than will long runs of mechanism-based models. I don’t think I am trying to persuade anyone, I think I am trying to keep the idea alive in case, as I think likely, mechanism-based models don’t become good enough to make precise predictions. On the whole, I wish I hadn’t written that because I think it detracts from the rest of the post, as you wrote.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 18 Dec 2010 @ 11:08 PM
“Because of the thermal inertia of the oceans and the absence of the UHI effect the Hadley CRU SST data are the best for discussion purposes. This data shows that the warming trend peaked in 2003…” Norman Page — 17 December 2010 @ 8:08 AM
Re 53 Gilles
(re Kevin) That’s plainly wrong – the mean of the numbers in any machine is on average the same as the global one. Only the variance is higher.
The expectation value of the mean is the same until you run the experiment, upon which you will likely find that some machines have recieved a different mean value for there numbers, by chance. Kevin was refering to the likely statistics that would come from running these machines, according to the probability knowing that some machines will have different means.
Re Ray My question is only : do we have a proper estimate of the time when this will occur for the average local temperature ? (which must be significantly longer than for the global one ?).
I don’t know that one quantitatively, though it requires some clarification – do you mean when the trend is larger than the noise relative to the daily and hourly means, etc, of an average year, or when the trend is larger than all the variations, including the diurnal and seasonal cycles? I’d think, for much of the globe, we won’t see the later for a long, long, long time.
A North Atlantic low pressure system moving from East of Labrador to a great deal Westwards! Very unusual but true, look at the upper right panel.
Its not only open water, but rather thinner ice, which insulates the ocean less, incoming low pressures from the south cool less.
This current low gives 11 Km tropopauses at Mid december at location 74,5 degrees North. Unreal. Along with DWT’s 250 Kelvin strong, September troposphere Upper air in December.
If Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay remains longer with thinner ice or open water, I don’t see how Europe may not freeze more in December. Its all bad news, not only weather wise.. Global warming hits hardest in unpopulated Arctic, while it gives colder weather in densely populated areas. Its a propaganda piece by nature itself,
encouraging lackadaisical response to climate change.
Explaining Global warming is made a whole lot tougher
I agree, but I have not read that cold winters are supporting evidence of AGW; what I have read are detailed analyses of specific cold winters (such as what is happening now, and some aspects of the last NH winter) where the complete mechanism is supportive of AGW
You do realize these “cold” winters aren’t all that cold, historically?
Unlike the unprecedented heat wave in Russia this year?
Snow in Europe isn’t exactly thought to be uncommon, dudes.
47 Patrick 027: Alfven waves require ionized gas [plasma] and happen on the sun. See “Cosmical Electrodynamics” by Alfven and Falthammer. Thanks for the discussion of Rossby waves, which are more than sufficiently complicated without electricity and magnetism. I am learning the language. IIt seems to me that Rossby waves could be the cause of the Cold Europe Warm Greenland thing. John Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres is Very slow going for me. I am seeing whole “new” to me kinds of wave phenomenon by studying climate.
More discussion of wave anchoring on melting ice and Greenland would be most welcome. Those high and low pressure areas and cyclones are part of the wave stuff that is going on. I am just starting to learn this subject and would like more articles from the professors.
#68 Pete Dunkelberg,
I’ve been watching the ensemble forcecasts: http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/ao_index_ensm.shtml
Which are very negative, with all ensemble members showing a grouping of very low index for the next 7 days or so. When they group like that they’re normally pretty accurate. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of this winter and future winters play out. I think this Winter weather is related to the reduced ice in the Arctic – however that doesn’t mean that every Winter will be like this. The Arctic ice crash happened in 2007, winters 2007/08 & 2008/09 didn’t play out like 2009/2010 and (as now seems likely) this winter.
#71 Septic Matthew,
I personally wouldn’t argue that cold winters ‘support’ AGW. I do think last winter and this are likely to be a secondary consequence of AGW, because AGW has caused what has caused the cold winters – the loss of Arctic ice. 1) AGW -> 2) Reduced Sea Ice -> 3) Cold winters. AGW -> Cold Winters is IMHO incorrect because without the sea ice term it’s wrong.
Last winter and this winter (so far) are unusual in the context of what we’ve become used to in the UK, however so far nowhere near as bad as 1963 (I suspect we won’t see as bad). Furthermore Overland is saying (as reported by Jeff Masters) that there have only been 4 occurrences like last winter since 1850: 1881, 1936, 1963, 1969, and that Winter 2009/10 was at least as sruprising as the sea-ice crash of 2007. Although as I state above, it’ll be interesting to follow future winters, patience is a virtue.
#66 OK Phil, I was trying to keep things simple – pursue it to whatever depth of complexity keeps you happy.
#75 (dhogaza): Absolutely true that snow in Europe isn’t unusual, but the thing is that these very cold winters are following a string of approx. 20 winters that were mostly extremely mild. These mild winters made lots of folks suspect that something was indeed wrong. However, now that populated areas are freezing, everything seems to be fine again (to the uninformed). The professional disinformers probably can’t believe their luck, and are using the cold weather for all that it is worth. The MSM laps it up: cold weather in the winter is front page news, while the warmest global average temperature on record is barely mentioned.
I should imagine that the most common response of policy-makers [and the informed general public other than the inane AGW deniers, that is] to this information would be to say,
“So you say these bitter European winters are probably caused by melting Arctic sea-ice, which is caused by global warming. Global warming is expected to continue, with annual variations, so decline in sea-ice should likewise continue. It is noted that preliminary studies show that once much of the sea-ice has gone then maybe warmer winters will return. So, what is the prognosis? Should we expect bitter European winters every year from now on and if so for how long? Five years? Ten? Fifty? I’ve got an economy/transport system/ski industry etc etc to plan and these bitter winters have thrown everything into chaos.”
Any guesses as to how long before you can provide an answer?
One can argue forever what is more significant, current cold temps or the many warm records this year. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that 19 countries set all time warm records in 2010, while only one set an all time cold record. The only thing that really matters in the case of “proving/disproving” AGW is the fact that the global average temperature is at the highest in recorded history, and the La Nina cooled troposphere temps have now surpassed the El Nino warmed temps of the same time last year. This is UAH satellite data, run by a fellow that can probably be classified as a skeptic.
If the global average was at an all time low, or at least plummeting, the local cold would be interesting, but with average temps at an all time high (despite natural cooling) it is more an indication of what happens when circulation patterns are disturbed from ice loss, tropospheric warming, etc.
BTW, if I lived in Russia, I would get myself an air conditioner in preparation for the 2011 summer, as it looks like patterns are repeating and 1000 year events aren’t as rare as they used to be.
The “new breed of denialist” seems to be a reverse snowbird in search of endless winter, spending time in the southern hemisphere between the Vernal Equinox and the Autumn Equinox, and the balance in the northern hemisphere. RE: Globig, I wonder what he had to say after 2007 became Germany’s warmest winter on record. This probably is somewhere between a dumb question and a lazy question, but is there any thought that Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano might have an effect on the European winter (or the Russian summer, for that matter)?
In reply to #80 — British Government science advisors have a sorry history of being lauded when they agree with the current bunch in power, and ignored when they don’t. When reality jars with policy, policy people ignore reality…
All the above discussion about the present cold weather in Europe is interesting, but may be missing a major point (or 2) IMHO.
For starters, there’s no hint that there might be underlying changes in ocean circulation, such as might be the result of changes in the THC. Such would likely result in patterns of ocean SST’s which could be linked to the recent unusual outbreaks of cold air from the Arctic over Europe. The paper by Petoukhov and Semenov, mentioned in the opening commentary, is said to use fixed SST’s with a slab ocean, which could not capture any changes in ocean heat transport via currents such as the Gulf Stream. Previous cold periods with low NAO index values may also have been associated with reduced THC flows linked to the Great Salinity Anomaly. Given the data which has shown an on going reduction in surface salinity found in the Nordic Seas, it’s logical to expect this would have an impact on the THC, which we may now be experiencing.
Secondly, the discussion hasn’t included any mention of the impact of tidal forces on the atmosphere. The gravitational vector relative to Earth appears to move in a westward direction, as the Earth rotates once a day. At the Equator, the speed is about 1,670 km/h (1,038 mph). Most of the tide force is due to the Moon’s gravity and it may be worth noting that the Moon’s orbital precession cycle lasts about 18 years the Saros cycle. Researchers over the years have claimed to have found this period in weather data using frequency analysis. This may be important just now as the Moon’s tidal vector is aligned with that of the Sun, as a solar eclipse is due on 21 December.
Lastly, I think that the posting by Jeff Masters mentioned above makes a major mistake in physics. In that post, Masters wrote:
“Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic Low and the Azores High, the NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. A large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores (positive NAO) leads to increased westerly winds and mild and wet winters in Europe. Positive NAO conditions also cause the Icelandic Low to draw a stronger south-westerly flow of air (emphasis added) over eastern North America, preventing Arctic air from plunging southward. In contrast, if the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative NAO), westerly winds are suppressed, allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into eastern North America more readily…”
I think this to be completely incorrect, as it is impossible to “draw” or pull with the atmosphere. A fluid simply can not transmit a tension force, i.e., pull. The pulling force within the atmosphere (and the ocean) is gravity, which pulls the denser masses of fluid to the lowest level, thereby displacing the less dense air in a generally upward direction. The areas of low pressure are the result of the overall flows within the atmosphere as the air circulates both vertically and horizontally, not the cause of the flows. The patterns or mode within the atmosphere associated with the pressure differences are characterized by the NAO index, but those pressure differences do not provide a cause for those patterns, IMHO. I am aware that folks who watch the weather tend to focus on those low pressure areas, since they provide the most “interesting” weather events, but physics rules the day…
75, dhogaza: You do realize these “cold” winters aren’t all that cold, historically?
That’s incidental to my main point: even extreme cold spells, analogous to extreme wave troughs, are not evidence against AGW, as long as globally averaged temps do not follow a long-term downward trend.
However, the current temps in GB and Northern Europe do seem to be cold by comparison to the last 100 years or so.
The unpredicted record heat of Russia in mid 2010 was accompanied by unpredicted record cold in other places.
Esop: if I lived in Russia, I would get myself an air conditioner in preparation for the 2011 summer, as it looks like patterns are repeating
Which patterns? If enough of the patterns repeat, then summer of 2010 will repeat the summer of 2010, with record highs in the same places as last year, and record lows in the same places as last year — with overall continued warmth comparable to the last 10 years.
Are reasonably accurate regionally specific 6-month-ahead forecasts possible with current knowledge and models? Six months ago NOAA published (and I noted here) a forecast that subsequent months would be colder (compared to average) than the previous 6 months.
it is also very fair to say that ice thickness has been reduced. Sea ice extent difference
between 81 and 2010 is mainly Hudson Bay and Bafiin Bay having a whole lot less ice,
1958-1966 Past studies help us understand significantly:
“By early November the ice extends roughly 50 miles offshore from Southamp-
ton Island to Churchill, and has formed along shore from Churchill to Winisk.
Coastal ice is forming locally elsewhere
as well, but by far the greatest part of the
Bay is open water. The pack ice continues to grow most rapidly from the north-
west, although extensive shore ice rings the entire Bay by early December. Ob-
servational and climatological evidence indicate that freeze-up is nearly complete
by the end of December, with significant
amounts of open water (apart from shore
leads) only in the extreme southeast. Except for the ever-present shore leads, the
surface is entirely ice covered by early January.
Several people: Thank you. The high pressure due to heat release upon freezing links to Rossby waves and NOAA’s report card. The phenomenon can be thought of correctly either as a weather forecaster would or as a climate scientist would, I think. The linkage is important.
“The last two weeks have been the coldest in England since the second-to-last solar minimum, many hundreds of years ago.” and “…the Russian weather event is no more unusual than the current cold weather events.” Richard Steckis — 19 December 2010 @ 6:06 AM
1. The “last two weeks” isn’t an historically cold winter.
II. According to http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/csi/moscow2010/, the Russian heat wave began the first of July, and broke about August 19. Not two weeks.
B. You’re confusing Joe Bastardi’s statement Dec 10, widely mangled throughout the denialosphere –
“Gavin Partridge has supplied the details:
The central England Temperature (CET) from the 1st-7th of December is -1.9, making this the coldest opening week of December since 1879; 1879 is the coldest opening week on CET record, so this week has been the second coldest opening week to December since CET records began in 1659.
The two-week period, last week of November and first week of December is the coldest since CET records began in 1659.” with “the last two weeks.”
Yes I’m being nitpicky, but I think that’s better than not paying attention.
Wettest spring on record for Australia. Individually, most states had a very wet season, with the NT, Queensland and NSW all having their wettest spring on record, and all states except Tasmania in the top 10 wettest. Maximum temperatures were generally much cooler than normal, with the exception of western WA, which was much warmer than normal.”
Are these record events teleconnected by AGW, or just one in a thousand coincidences?
According to Thomas Globig from the weather service Meteo Media talking to wetter.info.
The last two weeks have been the coldest in England since the second-to-last solar minimum, many hundreds of years ago.
Also the December temperatures in Berlin are the coldest for 100 years.
The original claim was that the single day 2010-12-01 has been the coldest since start of weather records in much of Germany, including Berlin. That’s true. Next claim was that the first decade of December has been the coldest since 100 years in Berlin. That seems not quite true.
I don’t know if that long continuous weather records exist for Berlin, but they do exist for the neighbour city Potsdam, where 1933 (-5.1 °C) and 1925 (-6.0 °C) were colder than 2010 (-4.6 °C) (not counting 1902 at -8.5 °C). Latest figures for 1 Dec – 18 Dec are -7.4 °C (1933), -6.0 °C (1902), -3.9 °C (1899, 2010). Lowest December means so far are -6.2 °C (1969) and -4.1 °C (1933). Preliminary means for 2010 may drop to -4.5 °C again the next days, but then will rise until the end of reliable forecasts. Yes, it’s cold, but not unprecedented. And much more pronounced temperature anomalies are common in the Berlin region in January and February (up to -12 K in Feb 1929); they just tend to be less extreme that early in the season.
Note that if I pick 10 days of data, I can easily get record highs for most stations in recent years. E.g., for Potsdam, 2010-07-08 – 2010-07-17 has been the hottest period at that time of the year by a big margin: +26.1 °C compared to the previous record of +24.0 °C (1923).
I don’t have data at hand for England, but nobody will for a period reaching back to the Maunder Minimum (?), reliable enough to say that just 2 weeks were the coldest since then.
I live near Hohenpeißenberg, a weather station with 230 years on record, in southern Germany. So far, December 2010 doesn’t even fall into the lowest 1/3 of Decembers. It’s cold and snowy here too, particulary if compared to the very warm Decembers of the 80s, but not extreme.
The Histalp project has carefully homogenized time series for the “Greater Alpine Region” and seasonal plots. There weren’t any really extreme cold winters since 1961/1962 (note that data ends at May 2008; with operational data, Hohenpeißenberg had a mean of -2.3 °C in the last (“cold”) winter.
Re #4, Esop:
Actually, December NAO is positiveley correlated with NAO later in winter, although much weaker than one may expect (according to long term NAO series. At Hohenpeißenberg, if December is in the coldest 1/3, then Jan-Mar is also in the coldest 1/3 in 46% of all cases (normal 32%, warm 21%). That’s much more correlation than caused by cold spells around New Year and bias due to the long term trend. In regions where normal temperatures are around 0 °C, a pronounced warm spell is needed to melt out a thick snow cover, once it could develop, and snow cover will keep temperatures low. Atlantic SSTs cause also some persistance in European weather.
To put worrying about getting colder locally in context, see this. Over the last 12 months, it has cooled in a few isolated spots – and much of the area where there have been cold snaps have actually warmed on average over the year. But that’s not the big picture.
#94 (Andreas): I should have mentioned that I was focusing on the years after 1987/88 (that is when we saw an abrubt change in the Scandinavian winter climate. Curiously, this coincided with the jump in global average temperature).
From 1987/88 until 2009/10, the NAO has flipped from negative in December to positive in January no less than 13 times. Five times it has stayed negative in both December and January, and five times it has stayed positive in both December and January. We need to go back to 1986/87 in order to find a year where it went from positive in December to negative in January.
Interesting to note that both 08/09 and 09/10 had negative NAO in both Dec and Jan, while 07/08 had positive index during both months. I have a feeling that it will flip to positive this coming January, but could very well be wrong, as the weather is acting fairly odd these days.
First: I am no scientist. My only formal merit: an elementary course i climatology at the Univerity of Stockholm about 20 years ago.
My hypothesis (or, say, guess) is, in a few words: The comparatively mild climate of Scandinavia is supposed to be to a great part due to the gulf stream. Warm water has a lower density than cold water. Freshwater has a lower density than salt water. The increased melting of Greenland´s glaciers give an increased contribution of cold freshwater to the surface water of the North Atlantic. When the warm surface water of the Gulf Stream meets this cold glacier water it, at least partly, sinks down below it, So the surface of the stream that reaches Scandinavia -and will exchange heat with the atmosphere-will contain less heat than before. – This early winter is said to be the coldest for 150 years in Sweden and, I think, in great part of western Europe Of course, one winter´s weather does not say very much about the climate and its possibly change. But my hypothesis, if it is correct, may explain the apparent paradox that global heating may cause local or regional cooling.
It can be seen, according to this graph, that the blue Central England Daily Temperature does dip below the turquoise Lowest in Record 1772-2009 for a short time. Equally clearly, lower temperatures have been experienced later in December and in January and February in other years.
Steckis, Neither the Russian heat wave nor the current European cold constitutes evidence for or against anthropogenic climate change. It is interesting weather, that is all. Since the science of climate change is well established and well founded, it need not go looking for support from such tenuous sources.
‘atmospheric pull’ – well, yes, it all comes from gravity pulling down on the air, giving it weight, thus applying pressure; in hydrostatic balance, the downward acceleration of gravity is balanced by the vertical pressure gradient; variations in density cause variations in the rate at which pressure decreases with height, so that with such variations horizontally, it is impossible to have zero horizontal pressure gradient at all levels. Hence thermal highs and lows, inflow and outflow, warm air rises, cool air sinks (in terms of potential temperature; temperature changes adiabatically as pressure changes) (and then you also get cold-core lows and warm-core highs, which must increase in strength going upward).
But it isn’t necessary to review this all the time; whereever the pressure gradient comes from, it can accelerate the air (and then the coriolis effect acts on velocity to accelerate it in a different direction). Farthermore, IPV anomalies will, after geostrophic adjustment (which emits inertia-gravity waves), induce circulations. Given certain things, an IPV anomaly can appear to pull and direct the air – and in fact this happens, via the physical basis of what an IPV anomaly is and the tendency for geostrophic adjustment to occur (scale and latitude dependent), which needn’t always be rehashed.
gravitational tides don’t do much to the atmosphere or much of the solid and inner Earth, at least not over short periods (of course they will over time have cummulative effects, such as causing the axis to wobble by pulling on the equatorial buldge, and causing the Earth’s rotation to slow down by pulling on the tidal bulges themselves (involves the ocean, too, though). Most of the tidal energy (from memory, roughly 4 TW, an order of magnitude smaller than the geothermal flux) is dissipated in the ocean. It is a significant contributor to oceanic mixing (along with wind and plankton), from what I’ve read; so presumably stronger tides could cool the surface a bit, given the thermal structure of the oceans (PS aside from some complexities that could occur, this wouldn’t by itself change the long-term equilibrium climate – if strong mixing persisted over a thousand years, the deeper waters would get warmer.) The largest variations, aside from the tides themselves, are the spring-neap variations. It doesn’t seem obvious at all that the smaller variations over longer time periods could have a signficant effect, but maybe that’s just because I haven’t read a lot about how the tides end up mixing the ocean (aside from coastal processes, I know some internal gravity waves may be involved). I have read of a coastal glacier whose flow is affected by tides, which makes physical sense. Also, I suppose stronger tides might open up polynyas by pulling sea ice along or from coasts and past islands, etc. PS I may have seen the paper you might be refering to; they gave tidal strength in terms of angular speed of the moon; I’m not familiar enough with the celestial mechanics to know how that translates into tidal acceleration or equilibrium tidal buldge; it would help to know the variation in terms of equilibrium cm change (by equilibrium I mean the rise and fall of Earth’s surface if it had time to conform to the total gravitational field; of course the reason we notice tides is that the oceans don’t respond that way (there’s Kelvin waves (and/or inertia-gravity waves?) and amphidromic points – and this different response of the ocean must of course be why most tidal energy is expended there and not in the crust and mantle, etc.), and thus rise and fall differently than the adjacent land; nonetheless, we could expect the response to be nearly proportional to the forcing for the same tidal period (moon, sun, semidiurnal vs diurnal), latitude and rotation rate, geography, etc.).
Re 77 Edward Greisch Alfven waves require ionized gas [plasma] and happen on the sun.
(And Earth’s magnetic field?) Does it have to be a plasma? I’ve wondered if they could exist in the outer core? (Rossby waves could, I think (refering to IPV, that requires a continuously-stratified fluid; in a layer that is not stratified (such as the outer core), a PV can be defined that is inversely proportional to the layer thickness (in terms of mass if the fluid is compressible) and Rossby waves would propagate if there is a gradient in such PV (ignore local horizontal and vertical; consider the whole outer core in cartesian coordinates aligned with Earth’s axis; the spherical geometry creates variations in layer thickness with distance from the axis); I also think that the propagation of barotropic topographic Rossby waves can be seen as related to the stability of Taylor columns (Taylor columns are expected to exist in the outer core, at least outside the tangent cylinder that wraps around the inner core – potential consequences for change in geodynamo between when the whole core was molten and when the inner core started growing – PS latent heat release and rejection of less dense liquid (analogous to salt rejection when water freezes) occur as the inner core grows while sensible heat must flow out as the temperature decreases; I wonder to what extent the outer core is like and not like the atmospheres of gas giants…) (PS it would be interesting to describe the fluid dynamics of the atmoshpere, ocean, outer core, sun, gas giants, and mantle in parallel, noting similarities and differences (ie force balance in mantle is dominated by pressure – viscosity; atmosphere synoptic scale outside of low latitudes: pressure – coriolis; etc.)
Yes I knew they don’t happen in the atmosphere (aside from the magnetosphere, not sure about E-region dynamo) or ocean (or crust or mantle); I just through them in there because at that point I was refering to fluid-mechanical waves in general.
The last two weeks have been the coldest in England since the second-to-last solar minimum, many hundreds of years ago.
Also the December temperatures in Berlin are the coldest for 100 years.
So dude, the Russian weather eventn is no more unusual than the current cold weather events.
The Russians claimed that the heat wave in Moscow is unprecedented, which is somewhat more unusual than “coldest for 100 years” or even “many hundreds of years”.
Some estimates have it as being possibly a one-in-three-thousand year event.
Unprecedented. You can look up that word in the dictionary …”
It depends on which Russians you are talking to and how you define unprecedented. They would not have a clue if similar events occurred six or seven or eight hundred years ago. So, such an event being unprecedented is BS.
Comment by Richard Steckis — 19 Dec 2010 @ 9:55 PM
Ray Ladbury says:
19 December 2010 at 8:44 PM
“Steckis, Neither the Russian heat wave nor the current European cold constitutes evidence for or against anthropogenic climate change. It is interesting weather, that is all.”
Isn’t that what I said Ray? Where did I use the term anthropogenic anything in my post?
By the way, if you are implying that I am the hibernating denialist then I guess you would be too if you contracted cancer.
Comment by Richard Steckis — 19 Dec 2010 @ 10:02 PM
Stekis seems to be doing a little selective copy-paste of 2nd hand speculation . . . . without understanding what exactly an “ice age” is, or when the “2nd-to-last” solar minimum was, although that does seem to coincide with what I’ve heard was about the last time the Brits got an early Dec this cold -> 1962
On the climates of history
RA Bryson… – Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1980 – JSTOR
… The historians, on the other hand, wanted to know what the climates had been in order to interpret history.3 A primary problem with the use of … For example, Lamb’s analysis of the chronicles from Russia shows a great variation in the number of severe winters prior to the time of …
Why, you’ll even find stuff you _want_ to believe if you do that search:
Climate History and the Sun [PDF] from fgcu.eduS Baliunas… – George C. Marshall Institute, June, 2001 – ruby.fgcu.edu
… Page 5. Climate History and the Sun … 800-1200 AD) when the temperature was significantly warmer than in the 20th century in many regions of the world. … In the heartland of North America, as in European Russia and Greenland (see also Dansgaard et al. …
Ray : “Since the science of climate change is well established and well founded, it need not go looking for support from such tenuous sources.”
so please again, can you tell us the “well established ” consequences of the CC on the local temperatures felt by average people living in average countries ( I mean, not on global averages computed by ill-known interpolation procedures) , because I’m a little bit lost now … do you have reliable predictions to offer, yes, or no?
It would do a lot of good to the credibility of Climate Science, had this Global Warming-caused cold European winter been predicted a lot earlier than “last June” or “the exceptionally cold snowy 2009-2010 winter”. The explanations that have so far been provided by James Hansen and the Real Climate team have been far from satisfactory.
Ptolemaic astronomers resorted to epicycles to reconcile the discrepancy between the observed planetary movements and the predictions of their sacrosanct geocentric model of the universe. Perhaps, Climate Science will not repeat that 2000 year old mistake. Or perhaps, they are repeating it as we speak.
Ray, I think you are not entirely correct here. For example heat waves, temperature records and extreme precipitation events DO constitute evidence for AGW. Just like an excess of 6s is evidence for a die being loaded. No single throw of a 6 proves this, but every extra anomalous 6 adds to the evidence. To turn this around: without AGW the occurrence of all these extreme events would be extremely unlikely.
Steckis, Sorry to hear of your illness. I hope it is treatable. My wife had breast cancer 10.5 years ago and so far so good. Treatment has progressed tremendously for many cancers–as well as for dealing with the side effects of chemo. Best of luck and I do truly wish the best outcome for you.
#91 Wayne Davidson,
Not quite sure if you’re actually replying to my post #78. To be clear, I’m working on the assumption that the cold weather is indeed due to the reduction in Arctic ice, both in terms of thickness and extent.
In my #78 I said:
“AGW -> Cold Winters is IMHO incorrect because without the sea ice term it’s wrong”
I meant to say:
AGW -> Cold Winters is IMHO incorrect because without the sea ice term it misses out the middle term – loss of Arctic ice.
Re the persistence of the NAO/AO negative phase.
I’m using the AO index not the NAO. However for the AO index, which runs from 1950:
There have been 34 Decembers with negative AO index.
2 did not persist into Jan/Feb.
12 saw negative AO index in either the following Jan or Feb.
20 saw negative AO index persist into both the following Jan and Feb.
Of those 20 about half intensified in Jan/Feb.
“This paper presents a temperature reconstruction of the past 1000 years for Central Europe, based on chronological records. The advantages and limitations of this hermeneutic, text-based approach are discussed and the statistic methodology is introduced. Historical documents represent direct observation of weather and atmospheric conditions with highest temporal resolution available and precise dating.”
Steckis, you’ve said you’re a scientist working for a science agency. You presumably have access to academic sources. Why not use them to check what you believe?
@ 22 Tamino.Thanks for the links to your excellent and very handy compilations and analyses of the temperature data sets. My views of the current climate trends and the likely path for the next thirty years are based on three major observations.
1 The current negative PDO
2. The recent solar trends. ( See Archibald on todays Watts)
3 The CRU SST data trend interpreted in the light of 1 and 2 above.
The SST data were not included in your links.It would be helpful if you could add them .
However my suggestion that warming peaked in 2003 and that a cooling trend has appeared since then is perfectly compatible with the trends shown in your links – though I agree that there are not enough data since 2003 to be provable by statistical analysis standing by itself.
Hey Drs. Benestad and Schmidt,
wrt, correlations between the NAO and cooler winters has anyone considered examining a hurricane/TS linkage? I seem to recall a discussion about this possibility a few years ago. It may be a bit more complicated then it was then. I suspect it may rely on a combination of a positive to neutral or negative shift in the ENSO coupled to a strong -VE. The resultant being both the sea ice change and the displacment of the Arctic Air Mass. I am curious how the advection of tropical air might effect the AO, it would be curious if this impulse could effect a seeming split in the normal polar regional patterns.
“While the emerging impact of greenhouse gases is an important factor in the changing Arctic, what was not fully recognised until now is that a combination of an unusual warm period due to natural variability, loss of sea ice reflectivity, ocean heat storage and changing wind patterns working together has disrupted the memory and stability of the Arctic climate system, resulting in greater ice loss than earlier climate models predicted,” says Dr Overland.
From actually reading the linked article (though I doubt many people bothered to read it), the actual conclusion as I understand it to be is that the artic climate system is a complex one that has many variables and we need to do further work and research to understand it better. This makes a lot of sense. However the only part that doesn’t is the comparison between short-term observed “weather events” vs. long term trends (cold winters vs. climate model predictions), which is where I start to doubt linking the two together. Sure if we have another 20 years of colder (on average) winters in parts of the world where the arctic climate system plays a part then we can call that hypothesis golden, but at the moment I wouldn’t be linking the two together without the further work that is hinted at completed. (rather than claiming 2 yrs of events as fact).
#110 (sHx): As I have mentioned in above postings, the link between Arctic sea ice loss and negative NAO (resulting in cold temperatures in Europe and US East Coast) was predicted and modeled long before this past summer. See Magnusdottir et al. (2004) and Seierstad and Bader (2008) to name a few papers.
The possibility of a much colder year round climate in Europe as a result of Greenland meltwater induced slowdown of the Gulf Stream was proposed at least a decade ago, but the theory has been considered too alarmist (by both camps).
The story behind “The day after tomorrow” was based on an extremely exaggerated case of that scenario.
Ray Ladbury wrote: “Neither the Russian heat wave nor the current European cold constitutes evidence for or against anthropogenic climate change.”
Perhaps neither of those events considered in isolation from everything else that is happening constitute evidence for anything.
However, since neither of those events actually exists in isolation from everything else that is happening, that’s a rather empty statement.
Considered in relation to the emerging, worldwide pattern of extreme weather events of exactly the sort that the science of AGW predicts, those two events do constitute evidence for anthropogenic climate change; indeed, considered as part of that pattern it can be said that those events ARE anthropogenic climate change.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Dec 2010 @ 11:09 AM
Dick Veldkamp, Sorry, I should have been clearer. A single incidence of a heatwave or coldsnap tells us nothing. It is the trends that constitute climate, and most certainly a change in trends is evidence of climate change. Poisson stats do fluctuate, so it is important to see a minimum of 3 rare events before you can draw any conclusions about how rare they are–or whether the expected rate is changing.
sHx@110, last I looked, Neither Dr. Hansen nor Realclimate were in the business of making weather forecasts. Hmm, let’s see. Nope. It still says RealCLIMATE on my webpage.
The subject of this post is on the bleeding edge of climate science. It is fascinating, but it has squat to do with attribution of the current ongoing warming trend. THAT is century-old climate science. Get with the times!
I am talking about the science of climate change (WG I), not its consequences (WG II and III). However, you must not be paying much attention to the issue. Here’s a tip:
Go to Google Scholar. Type in climate change consequences in the search box. You might also google “Palmer drought index”, sea-level rise. Come back when you have questions, and please try to do better than “proof by personal incredulity”.
Predicting a higher occurrence of cold winters is climate prediction.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 20 Dec 2010 @ 11:41 AM
Norman Page #117,
PDO had swung negative in 1999-2000, 2007-2008 and most recently. Solar activity has been on a downward trend since 2000 (until just recently). The fact that global mean temperature has continued to rise during this period is pretty revealing.
I’m not sure I’d trust someone involved in oil exploration on the issue any more than I’d trust a Philip Morris scientist on health effects of smoking.
dhogaza, Oh, I agree, in terms of statistical freakiness, the Russian heatwave leaves anything we’ve seen in the past 5 years or so standing! It is, however, a single event, and all a single-event can do is raise uncertainties about the underlying population. It’s never evidence for anything.
Imagine we are fitting temperature data to the family of normal distributions using a likelihood method. At first, we don’t know the mean and standard deviation very well, so the average log-likelihood per datum flucutates all over the place. Eventually, though we get a pretty good approximation, and the incremental log-likelihood is pretty much constant. That means our model already has enough info to fit the data. Now throw in a 3.6 sigma event. Estimated mean, standard deviation and average log-likelihood both change abruptly. This can mean that
1)the distribution has changed
2)the datum is an outlier
3)the distribution isn’t normal
Regardless of which is true, the datum is trying to tell you something very important, but you can’t know what until you gather more data and see if you get more “freak” events.
dhogaza, Oh, I agree, in terms of statistical freakiness, the Russian heatwave leaves anything we’ve seen in the past 5 years or so standing! It is, however, a single event, and all a single-event can do is raise uncertainties about the underlying population. It’s never evidence for anything.
Sure. But certain people (such as our favorite australian fisheries biology grunt) were arguing that the current cold weather’s equally unlikely, and in your first post you seemed to agree … that’s all.
#46 Ken thinks the world will be cooling over the coming decades. Following mainstream science, I expect warming. Let’s find out which one of us actually believes our own statements. To bet our grandchildren’s future but not be willing to bet the earnings of a year or two would certainly be cowardly.
Ken, if you’d like a large, public bet, let’s find a thread to discuss the details. I have plenty of ideas. Or you, Mr Steckis. I’m not holding my breath, as I make this offer from time to time on various blogs, and my pigeons tend to disappear before I can pluck them.
At least 15 years ago. In ’95 I was going about with a stump speech on climate change that included a scenario with the thermohaline circulation collapsing, leaving Northern Europe miserably cold. In my defense, I only ever used it in the uncertainties-cut-both-ways part of the speech, as an example of a nasty surprise that might happen, though the scientific mainstream didn’t expect it to.
Hank R (107), et al: I don’t have much of a dog in this fight, but I’m curious: in a very quick scan of your references I found nothing that addressed the point, one way or the other, that the current Moscow area heat wave can’t be unprecedented because nobody has the accurate climate history back far enough. I’m probably missing your point.
Dick Veldkamp (111), I was about to question your statement, but you already answered it. So, just to clarify: are you asserting that regions can not experience “heat waves, temperature records and extreme precipitation events” unless there is AGW taking place?
Well, I suppose one could simply look at the pressure differences as the cause. However, the Icelandic Low is something which appears by averaging over some time period, which is really saying that over that time period, storm tracks tended to pass near or over Iceland. From a conceptual point of view, saying that the Icelandic Low caused the storms to pass over Iceland is a bit of circular logic to me. In other words, it’s like saying that the atmospheric mass flows pushed the storms toward Iceland, which resulted in lower than average pressure as shown on weather maps, which caused the storms to be pulled toward Iceland. I think this is an incorrect point of view, the cause of the flow being higher pressure elsewhere, which is the result of the overall energy flow thru the atmosphere, especially the seasonal difference between the tropics and the polar regions in winter. Ultimately, it’s the cycle of warm air pushing toward the poles which cools and then returns as cold air masses which present the cold weather events we know and love (to talk about). Here’s a link to a paper by Hurrell (2009), which discusses his view of the NAO.
The NAO Index is just a simple representation of the dominate modes of variation over the NH associated with the seasonal cycles. The NAO index is not a cause, it’s a result of the flows and gives a simple metric which may quantify the intensity of the repeated patterns which have been found thru statistical analysis. Seeger, et al. (2010) claim that another index produced by a combination of the NAO index with ENSO provides a better correlation with the weather patterns, which may reflect the stronger influence of the ENSO process on the winter weather, since the ENSO is directly coupled to the tropical oceans. The ultimate question is, how will the patterns of winter weather change as AGW advances and what mechanisms will be involved. Looking at the NAO index tells us nothing about what is happening in the oceans or the cryosphere, so I think it’s wrong to lay the blame for the extreme weather on the NAO…
Why would you pick 2003? Deniers usually pick an anomalously warm, El Nino year to start their spurious trend from.
I’m curious, though…. you note correctly that it is completely impossible to get a statistically significant trend over such a ridiculously short period of global temperature data. But you still insist a cooling trend has appeared, based on – what, exactly?
Solar activity is just restarting for another solar cycle.
PDO is a lot less predictable than it used to be (I can’t imagine why….). It has gone from positive to negative many times in the last 30 years.
Neither of these factors have had any significant impact on the much more significant global warming trend.
So why on earth would you allow these insignificant factors to override basic statistics?
I thought my post was clear. If we see enough extreme events, we are justified in rejecting hypothesis H0 (that the die is not loaded, or that nothing is happening with the climate).
See also #137 (Didactylos) and #139 (dhogaza).
Although people are 100% right in pointing out that you can never attribute any individual event to AGW, I think that such as statement is easily misunderstood. What people hear is “Oh, so this heat wave says nothing about AGW, since it might have occurred anyway.”. It would be better to say: ‘This super shower would have been extremely unlikely without AGW happening. And by the way, this is just the sort of freak event that is predicted by the theory of AGW.”
The Russian heat wave was a 3.6 standard deviation event, implying by use of Poisson statistics that we haven’t had such an event in at least the last 1000 years with 95% confidence.”
Thank you for your sentiments Ray.
Statistically (as you outline), the heatwave was a one in a thousand year event. Such an event is by no means unprecedented but a rare and unusual event. Statistically speaking there is nothing preventing two such events occurring in consecutive years (That would extremely rare).
Comment by Richard Steckis — 20 Dec 2010 @ 6:32 PM
Statistically (as you outline), the heatwave was a one in a thousand year event. Such an event is by no means unprecedented but a rare and unusual event
AT LEAST. Steckis. AT LEAST. No one knows for sure just how unusual it really is. Tamino did an analysis that suggests it could be a one in three thousand year event.
unprecedented: without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled.
The head of the Russian Met Service claims it was unprecedented, i.e. “never before known or experienced”. They meant this in the context of the proxy reconstructions they have available to them.
When we lost the first space shuttle, that was an unprecedented event, even though NASA’s estimate was that we could expect a catastrophic shuttle failure about once per 100 flights.
Statistically speaking there is nothing preventing two such events occurring in consecutive years (That would extremely rare).
Statistically speaking there’s nothing preventing no such event having happened before, either …
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 20 Dec 2010 @ 10:31 PM
Another approach to this issue of freak events is to delve into the meteorological background. Did climate change impact the immediate of an event?
So, did climate change “cause” hurricane Katrina on 29 August 2005? Yes and no, it depends.
Birth and trajectory of a hurricane is subject to some 10 known factors. There are time and geographic area windows and patterns, a sea surface temperature threshold, a warm water depth threshold, atmospheric humidity, dust and wind shear profile requirements and a presence of easterly waves. Track is determined by jet streams and pressure gradients driven by outside forces.
None of these is immune to change by global warming.
Apparently it is presently impossible to model direct causation of a given event. Still it can be stated with very high confidence that in an unwarmed climate, August 29th, 2005 in New Orleans would have been just an ordinary summer day.
Yet, probability of a storm hitting a particular city on any given day has also changed due to global warming – or has it not?
A major factor in the daily weather experience at high latitudes are the blocking and seasonal highs. Their causes, life cycles and change due to global warming are of immense interest, particularly as they help steer the movements of storms and lesser lows.
Ray, I agree that one may not attribute one event to AGW because of inherent chaos and unsteadiness in freak weather occurrences. However, attributing AGW to diminishing Arctic ice volume seems perfectly reasonable.
Unlike a hurricane, or heat wave event, Arctic sea ice volume has been vanishing
steadily for decades
integral of worldwide weather with respect to time = Arctic sea ice volume
By weather include everything related to temperature changes, Ocean to Atmosphere exchanges, solar input,
clouds , albedo everything, including aerosols and greenhouse gases.. Of which, for decades, there is only one forcing constant on the increase, AGW. Its not hard to place Arctic sea ice volume as a living equation result, an expression of the Earths temperature, like a thermometer reading. Unless someone finds another consistent source of warming melting sea ice spanning multiple decades. AGW stands as the problem, and sea ice volume will keep on dropping until this equation changes.
#114 Chris R, Indeed its sea ice reduction which has caused your little winter havoc in the UK. I have no doubt about it, and you can be reassured as Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay gets more thicker ice coverage your winter would be like our fall in most parts of Canada. I think if one country can understand this strange cooling as a result of Global Warming its yours… It was amazing to see a Labrador Low heading very far to the West! Simply fascinating. Usually they always head your way..
Re 136 Eric Swanson From a conceptual point of view, saying that the Icelandic Low caused the storms to pass over Iceland is a bit of circular logic to me. In other words, it’s like saying that the atmospheric mass flows pushed the storms toward Iceland, which resulted in lower than average pressure as shown on weather maps, which caused the storms to be pulled toward Iceland. I think this is an incorrect point of view, the cause of the flow being higher pressure elsewhere, which is the result of the overall energy flow thru the atmosphere, especially the seasonal difference between the tropics and the polar regions in winter.
I think I taylored my comment more to the general parts of your statement regarding the atmosphere not being in tension, etc. What can appear as circular logic may also be a case of positive feedback – I don’t know if that applies to the climatological Icelandic low. However, I’ve gotten the impression that it can be the case for storm track variability (it can be the case that the average flow affects propagation of waves so as to shape the wave energy and momentum transport to reinforce variations in the average flow), which in this case could involve variations in the Icelandic Low (?) – I’ll look at the link. I don’t see how it makes more sense to say that the higher pressures elsewhere are the cause any more than it makes sense to say that the Icelandic Low is the cause; for one thing, highs would not exist without lows (of course you can have well-defined low pressure systems without such highs but rather with a general higher pressure outside the systems, etc.); also, the storms will get moved around by the flow but also propagate through it – although, at least for the strengthening stage, there must be a critical level where the structure doesn’t propagate relative to the flow itself, but so far as I know that only applies to the direction along the storm track; anyway, below that level the air is actually flowing through the system from (for a zonally-aligned storm track) east to west, relative to the system, while above that level it is from west to east; there needn’t be a pressure gradient at the critical level; one could imagine a storm track with an easterly jet at the surface and a westerly jet aloft with a critical level where the average pressure gradient vanishes. The flow at the critical level requires motion of systems, but perhaps (?) one could say the systems don’t move because the flow at the critical level is pushing them along, but because stengthenning (via baroclinic instability) requires counterpropagating Rossby waves, which requires the systems are propagating relative to the flow in opposing directions at different vertical levels, so there must happen to be a level where the flow moves with the system (and where that level is will depend, among other things, on the wavelength of the system. Hence, different systems with different wavelengths can propagate past each other – setting aside nonlinear interactions). On the other hand, if you set this up and then add some additional barotropic flow, it would be added to the critical level and this would push things along… But to debate this seems unnecessarily complicated.
Ultimately, it’s the cycle of warm air pushing toward the poles which cools and then returns as cold air masses which present the cold weather events we know and love (to talk about). Here’s a link to a paper by Hurrell (2009), which discusses his view of the NAO.
The NAO index is not a cause, it’s a result of the flows and gives a simple metric which may quantify the intensity of the repeated patterns which have been found thru statistical analysis.
I agree, but the NAO index can be thought of as a measure of the state of some mode of internal variability which may be called the NAO, and as a whole it can be a cause, and an effect, and can also be a link in a longer chain of cause and effect, of course.
… important to what directs storm track activity, I understand that the advection of the warm surface anomalies by the storm track systems will tend to cause propagation of the cyclones poleward (for zonally-oriented basic state) (likewise the anticyclones will tend to propagate equatorward with the advection of the cold anomalies). And then there’s occlusion/seclusion. I still don’t really understand the process by which the systems become untilted (become more barotropic).
Are all you Climate change sceptics out there watching events all over the planet!. We in eastern Aussie are enduring record rainfall, California and up the whole western seaboard down to Colombia are having a taste of what we have been putting up with over the past year. Although every time it showers here we get about 2 inches!… Look at Europe cloaked in snow and ice. If you remember last year was asia’s turn to smash rainfall record after record..does Manila ring a bell?
There is definately more water vapour in the air and that coupled with a more pronounced tropospheric temperature gradient spells..well look around.
We are seeing the beginning of the undeniable and unmistakable pan global effects of Climate change. I still find it quite incredible that those people I speak to on CC still dismiss it as a regular occurence and just the effect of the la nina..it doesn’t seem to register that the global increase in CO2 driven water vapour must go somewhere. Unless the people in the street take this issue seriously I can not for the life of me see a way out. Copenhagan-Cancun are just talk fests with no concrete and urgent action planned for now, or in the pipeline. Just looked at the 7-14 day forcast for us in SE Queensland..guess what! lots more rain until the well into the new year.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 21 Dec 2010 @ 1:37 AM
101 Patrick 027: Yes, Alfven, a Swede, was inspired by the Northern Lights. He saw our aurora often. But Auroras happens at higher altitude than climate and weather, as far as I know. I don’t know anything about the core of the Earth.
Ray : “Gilles,
I am talking about the science of climate change (WG I), not its consequences (WG II and III). ”
Do you mean that a science can be “well established” without any accurate prediction ? I think that it deserves to be discussed, on a purely epistemological point of view. What kind of climate science would have been called by you being “not very well established” ?
And besides this, do you mean that although “well established” in your sense, it is not yet capable of doing any accurate prediction concerning the all-day life of people in the world ?
The Russian heat wave was a 3.6 standard deviation event, implying by use of Poisson statistics that we haven’t had such an event in at least the last 1000 years with 95% confidence.”
But this very fact shows that it IS STILL an exceptional event, even if most of the warming is anthropogenic, so you cannot demonstrate anything on its origin. Only if this kind of event would become usual, could you infer that something has really changed. But this is obviously not yet the case.
Re 156: Gilles. Ok! Gilles you got me..haha! tell you what…go to as many counties meterological bureaus as you can and see how many climatic records have been broken from the last 5 years whether it’s extreme temps or rainfall or duration etc. Then compare that to 1950’s to 2005 and then from where their respective record keeping began. You will no doubt notice a quite striking trend..then get back to me.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 21 Dec 2010 @ 4:54 AM
Did you bother to read the rest of my posts on the matter? If you had, I am puzzled why you bothered to repeat exactly what I already said.
Gilles, I realize you are not a native English speaker, but your #155 strains credulity as to how you could get that. Are you drinking tonight? You simply are not making sense.
Climate science has quite a good record of prediction. I can point you to references if you are unaware of them.
Climate science is like any other science. There are aspects that are well established, aspects that are cutting edge and aspects where we still do not know how to proceed. None of the basic elements required to explain current warming fall into the latter two categories. Ferchrissake, dude, there are volumes of predictions of climate science. Read the frigging literature!
Re #153 – Here in the UK with the present cold snap (lots of snow to be fair) the media have been having a field day interviewing people about how this will effect their xmas. Millions of people travelling aborad or home to relatives and family to see them all laden with presents etc. I as yet see little if any evidence of anyone taking ACC seriously. Its just not sinking in amongst the masses that travel, goods and services equates to ACC.
I agree, and I must have really failed in communicating my point. I will try again: When you have a single freak event or a few such events, even one where probability is determined by an underlying probability distribution, Poisson statistics apply. Poisson stats don’t really start droping rapidly until the event total is 3 or so even for very low mean expectation values.
The decreasing ice volume is almost certainly evidence for climate change, as is increasing drought, the temperature trend, increased extremen weather … And of course, the simultaneous warming of the troposphere and cooling of the stratosphere is diagnostic for a greenhouse mechanism. These trends are all climate. Any single event is weather. A trend of multiple “single events” taken together may be climate. I hope that is clearer.
Giles The Russian heat wave was a 3.6 standard deviation event, implying by use of Poisson statistics that we haven’t had such an event in at least the last 1000 years with 95% confidence.”
Unless this sort of event does occur regularly, just that we haven’t recorded it. There are not data points for most 1,000 year periods in the 6,000,000 year history of Earth, so how can you state what the probability is?
This summer’s heat wave in Russia is a *vastly* more unusual event (statistically speaking) than the cold December in Europe. No contest — early December in Europe is highly unusual, the Russian heat wave was total freakazoid. Also, some of the claims going around how extreme the current European cold wave is (apparently originating with Thomas Globig, a TV weatherman) are just plain wrong.
But July heat in Russia doesn’t follow the normal distribution, so it’s not valid to treat it as such. I estimate it as only a 1-in-260-years event given present average temperature for that region (see this). But present average temperature is considerably higher than it used to be. If not for the last century’s warming, the heat wave would indeed have been a 1-in-1000-years (or even more rare) event.
In fact that’s rather the point: global warming makes such rare events not so rare after all. And as temperatures continue to rise, such events will happen even more frequently.
You’re far too pessimistic. Things should be done ASAP, but humanity doesn’t completely lose if we fail for the moment. In ten years CO2 levels will be about 20 ppm higher, and global warming effects will be even more pronounced. The “it hasn’t cooled since X” argument will be moot, and I think even the most intense deniers will be embarrassed to continue to use it. Similarly, all of the UHI and “CRU can’t be trusted” and other issues will be dead and buried. Decades of unequivocal and continuous tropospheric warming, measured by satellites, will be enough.
Of course they’ll still argue other things, but their position is going to weaken incrementally. It’s going to be, sadly, a war of attrition rather than intelligence (does that surprise you?), but in the end they will lose a war of attrition. It means a senseless price will be paid, but it doesn’t mean humanity will lose.
So… I think the worst case is that after ten years of inaction, increasing warmth, and worst of all enough Russian heat wave style events — everything from a summer of dramatically reduced ice in the arctic to a frighteningly large forest fire in the Amazon to one really nasty hurricane season to dangerous, more frequent, and more costly droughts — things that affect everyday people (particularly the if-it-doesn’t-hurt-me-personally-it’s-no-big-deal Americans) — will cause people to sit up and take notice.
By then it will be far, far more expensive to mitigate CO2, will hurt the economy far worse than was ever necessary, and will go hand in hand with other (unnecessarily incurred) expenses needed to mitigate the damage that another 20 ppm will do.
But it will get done. I can’t believe that it will go so far as to destroy civilization.
It will, unfortunately, go so far as to transform civilization, and to create a new wave of suffering (sadly, possibly, the modern day equivalent of the Black Plague). A transformed civilization will have new “haves” and “have-nots”, new priorities, and new limitations and goals. The world and lifestyle that we have enjoyed will simply not be bequeathed to our children.
It remains to be seen, however, whether or not a transformed civilization will be worse or better than what we have today, and I actually hold out hope that — excluding the senseless suffering of those that will be most grievously hit by climate change — a new perspective and new priorities could actually mean a better, healthier and happier lifestyle for generations after ours, one where they’ll look back on how we lived in the twentieth and early twenty first centuries and wonder what the hell we were thinking.
Do you mean that a science can be “well established” without any accurate prediction ?
Are biologists able to predict how an elephant will look like in 10000 years? Does that refute the theory of evolution through natural selection?
Please define ‘accurate’. I get the impression that somehow you will set the bar always a tad higher than the current state-of-the-art in climate science and that your definition of ‘accurate’ is a moving target.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 21 Dec 2010 @ 10:50 AM
It even has a link to data and code. That focuses on more “recent” data, the last couple of millennia or so. There’s also some good stuff here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/data.html that goes back further (at least, they have entries on the fossil record) along with free software and tools.
If you go up to the upper right hand corner of this page and put in “paleoclimate data” and click the radio button for Google Custom Search, you come up with 532 hits. Have fun. :)
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 21 Dec 2010 @ 10:54 AM
#16 Norman Page
Net primary production is already indicated dropping due to droughts and fires
The large-scale convection in the Earth’s atmosphere traces out three hemispheric convection cells: the Hadley cell between the equator and about 30 degree latitude, the Ferrel cell at mid-latitudes and the polar cell over the pole. Would one expect this cellular structure to undergo spontaneous reconstructions as global mean temperatures are raised by about 4 degree C or so over the next century?
Anyone who has studied fluid cellular structures in the lab will have seen spontaneous reconstructions in fluids as parameters, such as viscosity (via temperature) are changed. Is there any evidence that such phenomena will not occur in the coming decades in the global system? Do climate models predict such reconstructions? At what temperature rise might one expect the jet stream to no longer be a stable structure?
#172 (Chris): I was about to post about the distinguished Mr.Corbyn as well….
Would be interesting to hear this forecasting oracle’s comments on why the temperature in the lower troposphere is now the warmest in the posted UAH record, and why large regions of the Arctic are warmer than continental Europe.
We are seeing Arctic sea ice melting on December 21st, the shortest day of the year. That can’t be a good sign?
Pretty telling that the MSM does not mention these fun facts whatsoever.
“…can you tell us the “well established ” consequences of the CC on the local temperatures felt by average people living in average countries…” Gilles — 20 December 2010 @ 1:49 AM
Average people can’t feel the average AGW change in local temperatures any more than they can feel the excess calories from that extra donut every morning. The consequence they notice is that they are shoveling a lot more snow this winter in Wales, which Lord Monckton assures them is due to “global cooling”. Some suddenly drop dead of a heart attack, which is attributed to too much snow shoveling in too cold weather, and the role of too many donuts, and more frequent weather extremes from too much atmospheric CO2 remains unnoticed.
Chris, they don’t really say much that can be rebutted. Sure, there could be a mini ice age. The distribution of heat in the atmosphere could spontaneously redistribute itself and melt Greenland by next Tuesday, too, but I don’t really see that happening, either. I think the next ice age has been cancelled.
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 21 Dec 2010 @ 2:44 PM
#174 (Brian): Wasn’t Lord Monckton down in Cancun recently, claiming that he had predicted that 2010 would be the hottest year on record? Now he is back in England claiming global cooling? I wish these honest and inquiring skeptics could make up their minds and decide once and for all whether we are cooling or warming (all natural, of course). It is so easy to get confused by their ever changing claims.
[Response: What is your point? Are all scientists supposed to think the same things for all time in agreement with all other scientists? Once one effect is identified are scientists supposed to stop thinking or not look at other issues? Or do you think that scientists should be in charge of all media headlines so that there is never any confusion for people that don’t actually read the papers? Perhaps you would care to examine the mechanisms proposed in both papers and see whether they are contradictory or complementary? Or which one (or both) actually appear to explain the observational record?
Purely speculating here. But put aside for a moment the absolute global temperature increase. Consider instead the reduction of sea-ice and it’s impact upon the Arctic atmosphere and pole-equator temperature and geopotential gradient.
I’ve been idly wondering – given that there are fixed constants – the geography of the Northern Hemisphere being the most important. To what degree is atmospheric circulation free to change? Or do we indeed already see all the variation that’s possible in the historic record of temperature and pressure (weather)? I suspect that this is the case.
The model study discussed in the lead article finds a non linear response with different regimes (which I’ve named A B C) from 100%-A-80%-B-40%-C-1%. With more blocking activity, resembling the negative phase of the NAO in regime B.
Can a shift to a predominantly very negative phase of the AO in winter for a prolonged period be considered a change in winter climate? i.e. Climate Change. We’ve seen similar instances already, such as 1963 – an instance of an extreme negative phase of the NAO/AO. But if the atypical conditions of winters like 1963/4 and 2009/10 (Overland’s Warm Arctic – Cold Continents pattern) persisted for many winters, or at least became far more prevalent. Could we call this climate change? I think “yes” – climate is the statistics of weather over a sufficiently long period (World Met Organisation say 30 years) – change the statistics by the exception becoming the regular and you have changed the climate, IF that state persists. If it’s a substantial change, and here in the UK a decade or two predominantly of winters like we’re having would be substantial, the change needn’t persist for 30 years to be considered a shift in climate.
However crucially, the changed climate wouldn’t be something we’ve never seen before on occasions and experienced as weather.
As for how often we’ll see the Warm Arctic Cold Continents pattern, we’ll have to be patient and see what happens. Two years together could still be a blip.
As for the Little Ice Age, it’s all related to the predictions of a series of low solar output from this cycle (24). See ACRIM for some context: http://www.acrim.com/TSI%20Monitoring.htm
Seems too early for this little ice-age to be starting if it’s due to solar factors.
Furthermore as Esop points out, the solar explanation doesn’t seem to explain the current conditions throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The observations need to be explained by any available theory, and IMHO Overland is on the ball. http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/atmosphere.html
Monckton’s written testimoney (oops – Freudian slip – i meant testimony) before the US House Subcommittee on Energy and BTW Monckton also states that “SPPI no longer uses any terrestrial-temperature datasets, because they have proven unreliable.” in contrast to Norman who believes “Because of the thermal inertia of the oceans and the absence of the UHI effect the Hadley CRU SST data are the best for discussion purposes.” Wonder if that has anything to do with Monckton’s newly discovered “prediction”?
@ Michael G — 21 December 2010 @ 1:08 PM and Chris R — 21 December 2010 @ 5:50 PM
Regarding rearrangement of the circulation cells. I grew up in Florida on the beach, and there is a diurnal shift from onshore to offshore winds from afternoon to nighttime, when the sea temperature stays warmer than the land after sunset. I’ve wondered whether in the fall as the sun moves below the horizon of an Arctic Ocean with mostly open water if the polar cell would reverse to updrafts over the pole and offshore winds along the coast. Freezing from the coastline in and wind driven upwelling/surface currents would tend to keep the surface water warmer, saltier and open. Downwelling instead of upwelling over the circumpolar land masses would change the coupling to Ferrel cells from the current mode, (and may have some impact on temperate zone weather patterns &;>)
BTW Monckton also states that “SPPI no longer uses any terrestrial-temperature datasets, because they have proven unreliable.” in contrast to Norman who believes “Because of the thermal inertia of the oceans and the absence of the UHI effect the Hadley CRU SST data are the best for discussion purposes.” Wonder if that has anything to do with Monckton’s newly discovered “prediction”?
Re 171 Michael G – I think, if the Earth spun fast enough, you could get more such cells. Regarding AGW, I don’t think anyone expects a profound restructuring of these cells, but rather shifts in size and location and strength. However, these cells are zonal, or zonal-time averages (zonal average = average around a line of latitude; ie averaged over longitude at a given latitude and vertical level) and additional circulation changes could occur that wouldn’t be described by those circulation alone. I think at any one time you may see the Hadley cell, but the Ferrel cell is weak compared to the circulations found at any one time and place in the midlatitudes – which actually drive the Ferrel cell.
(the Ferrel cell is a thermally-indirect circulation, meaning warmer air sinks and colder air rises, and kinetic energy is converted to available potential energy (APE). The source of that kinetic energy is storm-track activity, which converts the APE of the temperature gradient into kinetic energy – via conversion of a ‘basic-state’ APE into eddy APE (The APE of the temperature anomalies) which is then converted to eddy kinetic energy, some of which is then converted to basic-state kinetic energy. Meanwhile differential heating is producing basic-state APE (and some eddy APE) while viscosity converts kinetic energy to a higher-entropy heat.)
PS Rather simple models can produce multiple equilibria in the circulation pattern for the same external forcing – in particular the quasistationary wave pattern of the Northern Hemisphere.
188. RodB Our climate’s bazaar allright. That’s why I prefer to use the term climate change over global warming..coz there’s always annoying little people who say but we have had the coldest winter for eons blah blah. Actually two nights ago we had the coldest december night on record due to the rain and then a day of clear skies which dropped our nighttime min to 11C..the mean for dec is about 17C. Many farmers out west are packing up and moving to the cities because after having year after relentless year of severe drought and relying on bank overdrafts they are suddenly swamped by massive flooding and no sooner does the flood waters recede and they have mopped up then another drenching happens and they are back to square one again.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 21 Dec 2010 @ 11:40 PM
Lawrence Coleman — 21 December 2010 @ 1:37 AM cites multiple record rainfall events as “…the beginning of the undeniable and unmistakable pan global effects of Climate change. ”
Rod B — 21 December 2010 @ 9:29 PM notes that “…these pages were rife with blaming severe Australian drought on global warming.” and asks “Which is it? Both?”
Evidently Rod B has forgotten the predictions from 1997-2000, noted by the IPCC in 2001 –
“In global simulations for future climate, the percentage increase in extreme (high) rainfall is greater than the percentage increase in mean rainfall (Kharin and Zwiers, 2000). The return period of extreme precipitation events is shortened almost everywhere (Zwiers and Kharin, 1998). ”
“a global climate model with increased CO2 was analysed to show large increases in frequency of low summer precipitation, the probability of dry soil, and the occurrence of long dry spells (Gregory et al., 1997). The latter was ascribed to the reduction of rainfall events in the model rather than to decreases in mean precipitation.”http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/365.htm
“In short, changes in extremes and in the frequency of exceeding impacts thresholds are a vital feature of vulnerability to climate change that is likely to increase rapidly in importance because the frequency and magnitude of such events will increase as global mean temperature rises.” http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.php?idp=680
Re 186 David B. Benson – in my internet searches about atmospheric circulation, I’ve come across a few really good review articles that would be helpful here, one of which does discuss number of storm tracks/jet streams as a function of planetary spin. Of course if the Earth spun at the same rate but were significantly bigger, that would have a similar effect. PS – I wonder what this means for paleoclimates in deepest time (Earth spun faster; tidal deceleration).
The great depth of gas giant atmopsheres (with significant internal heat sources relative to solar heating, at least for Jupiter so far as I know) may make some things not readily analagous to Earth’s atmosphere; I wondered about possible similarities to Earth’s outer core.
The thing you apparently fail to understand is that in science, truth is something you discover over time. The precise effects of climate change on weather are still at the bleeding edge of the science. The reality that the climate is changing was realized 100 years ago and the basic science has not changed appreciably.
Indeed, it is quite possible that aspects of climate change could result in both warming of winter in some regions and cooling of winter in others. Why is that hard for you to understand?
Rod B., Climate change predicts both increasing drought and increasing extreme weather events, including rainfall events resulting in flood. The two are not exclusive. All that has to happen is that you get all your rainfall at once. The ground saturates and you get flooding rather than a recharge of groundwater. Greater urbanization (impermeable surface) worsens the effect.
“Indeed, it is quite possible that aspects of climate change could result in both warming of winter in some regions and cooling of winter in others. Why is that hard for you [Jimbo]to understand?” – Ray Ladbury
I can answer that one: it’s because, like any denialist, he doesn’t want to understand it.
It’s quite clear to anyone who actually reads the articles he cited that there are 2 parallel mechanisms that do not contradict each other, the impact of GHGs on OLR and changes in atmospheric circulation.
Is every branch of science plagued with people who repeatedly put forward arguments without having even a vague notion of the sources they cite?
Especially since I lived in New Orleans during worse.
Katrina was caused by a failure of the Army Corps of Engineers, not high winds.
That said, having lived in New Orleans for 20 years (more or less), I don’t remember all that many seasons where we did “hurricane watch” nearly as much as the ’05 season. In a typical year we taped the windows once, maybe. And we evacuated exactly once in 20 years.
Something definitely changed — speaking from 42 years of looking at the hurricane seasons in New Orleans — and it didn’t change for the better. It also isn’t 100% gloom-and-doom.
Lawrence Coleman, I can accept that there might be extreme weather situations from time to time. These might or might not be a direct result from climate change. Going from one extreme (drought) to the opposite rainfall extreme in the same localized region within one year seems very hard to attribute to a consistent level of climate change. Are you sure it’s not the Devil — the Tazmanian type or another ;-) ?
Ray Ladbury says,
“… it is quite possible that aspects of climate change could result in both warming of winter in some regions and cooling of winter in others. Why is that hard for you to understand?”
What you say is possible and not hard to understand. However, to extend the logic to say, therefore, that Moscow heat wave was caused by climate change, that Australian drought was caused by climate change, that Australian washout was caused by climate change, that hurricane was caused by climate change, that European cold snap was caused by climate change, makes very little and probably no sense (to the 95% confidence level, as it were). Why is that hard for you to understand? [And I’m sure you wouldn’t, but if you consider answering that you don’t want to understand, remember you’ll have to answer to Nick Gotts :– )} .]
Re 148 Pekka Kostamo None of these [factors determining a particular weather event being discussed] is immune to change by global warming.
Apparently it is presently impossible to model direct causation of a given event. In principle it will always be difficult to trace the chains of causation beyond the horizon of the butterfly effect.
Still it can be stated with very high confidence that in an unwarmed climate, August 29th, 2005 in New Orleans would have been just an ordinary summer day.
Yes and no.
Is any single day truly ordinary? Well, let’s say it wouldn’t have made headlines; it would have fallen into some category of a little warmer or colder, cloudier or sunnier, dryer or wetter, etc, but not so much as to make a big deal about it.
But that’s because we would only make big deals about rare events, so without climate change, at a given day and location, it’s usually going to be unlikely to be so dramatic.
However, even with climate change, that single day and location was unlikely to have been so dramatic (until the time horizon approached when it was possible to make forecasts for it). Consider all the days in the years 2000 to 2010 when one of the strongest/biggest hurricanes ever recorded did not make landfall near New Orleans.
The question mixes the climate change itself with the butterfly effects associated will all the little things that have added up to it (ie the climate change caused by emissions vs the weather caused by each little incident involved in those emissions; even if CO2 had no effect on climate, CO2 emissions would change the weather – but nobody would notice and few would care).
Climate change could have made a Katrina more likely; by either making tropical cyclones more frequent (I’ve gotten the impression that’s not expected) or by making them stronger (that one may be true), and except for immediate radiative effects of CO2, etc, that would be through the set-up (the warmer oceans, etc., caused by the effects of CO2 over time).
195, Ray Ladbury: “Indeed, it is quite possible that aspects of climate change could result in both warming of winter in some regions and cooling of winter in others. Why is that hard for you [Jimbo]to understand?” – Ray Ladbury
As you and others have pointed out, the Arctic right now is unusually warm, so 2010 may yet end up as the “warmest year on record”:
Even as England and Germany seem to be having unusually cold winters.
Right now, parts of Greenland are considerably above average in temp, and others are considerably below average.
I am hoping that GCMs will be accurate enough soon enough (and computers fast enough soon enough) that 3-month ahead and 6-month ahead predictions can be made for diverse localities (and eventually for all localities of sufficient size, perhaps 100km x100km) and compete head-to-head with Piers Corbyn’s (proprietary) forecasts.
A long series of accurate 3-month or 6-month ahead predictions would go a long way toward increasing the respect with which people treat AGW, though technically they are neither necessary nor sufficient for the long-term forecasts to be reasonably accurate. They would add, in my opinion, to the aggregate forecasts listed by Barton Paul Levenson.
148, Pekka Kostamo: Apparently it is presently impossible to model direct causation of a given event. Still it can be stated with very high confidence that in an unwarmed climate, August 29th, 2005 in New Orleans would have been just an ordinary summer day.
Yet, probability of a storm hitting a particular city on any given day has also changed due to global warming – or has it not?
Those are difficult to decide, IMO. The worst storms to hit the US Gulf Coast did so in the first half of the 20th century; the damage to N.O. was due in part to regional deforestation and the construction of a long, straight ship channel into the center of the city; 2010 saw no hurricane hit the coast of the U.S; a forecast by Kerry Emanuel, linked here by mike predicted slightly lower total hurricane activity due to AGW, but increased frequency of big hurricanes “might” occur in some places.
I listed ten background factors that are known to influence the birth, evolution and track of hurricane. These are factors used by meteorologists trying to predict the storms. None of them is completely immune to change in global temperature. Walking backwards one level deeper leads to changes caused by warming in large scale circulation (ENSO, Hadley and Walker circulations, seasonal highs and lows, patterns of vegetation and many more) that still are less well understood or measured. Yet they are governed by physics. Understanding and modeling them is very much work-in-progress.
Surely, in an unwarmed world there would have been a storm named “Katrina”. A different birthday and location, a different strength development and path taken over a two week life cycle, extremely unlikely to hit N.O.. Details are not knowable as neither observations nor models exist at required accuracy level.
However, there was/is no guarantee against a similar hit or worse, earlier or later. This was bad, very bad, but not the worst. A category 5 storm landfall west of the city, and surely more than a few dozed shingles would have been ripped off the Superdome sheltering some 15000 refugees, eventually leading to a total collapse. These are kind of one day in 300 years’ probabilities. They demonstrate risks with extreme impact but very low (yet real) likelihood.
These kinds of extreme weather events are not truly random. “Random” is just a convenient way of description and rough modeling. Surely better descriptions and models based on physics will be developed to link the global warming and extreme weather.
I think we’ll see the leading denialist propgandists on trial before too long.
Comment by calyptorhynchus — 22 Dec 2010 @ 11:41 PM
We’ve had what seems like a cold and wet start to summer here in south eastern Australia. Yet the ‘cold’ is only by comparison with prior years’ record-breaking heat. With regard to temperature, the average maximum temperatures for October, November and December were actually above the average from 1971 – 2000. October was 1C above the average, November was 1.4C above the average and so far, December has been 0.4C above the average (Melbourne regional office).
With regard to rain (la Nina effect), records of rainfall intensity and total rainfall have been broken, as expected in a warming world. It’s good to have plenty of rain to fill up the reservoirs after the long hot record drought, unless you’re in agriculture and lose the first decent crops after the drought, or your livestock is drowned. And unless your home and business are flooded out, or the main road is washed away (as in my valley), or your town closes down (as one town in Western Australia has had to do).
162 “BPL: There is no way out. The bad guys have won. I’m still arguing simply and solely because I hate letting them have the last word.”
“I told you so” would be sweet. But let’s try for something better. Hang in there. Suicide is not allowed.
There is reason to believe, provided by you, that it won’t get bad enough for everybody to notice until it is too late.
“I am of the view that this cold snap, and cold winters, are more likely when solar activity is low, though we don’t know the exact fit,” says Professor Mike Lockwood, a solar physicist from the University of Reading. Prof Lockwood’s theory depends on the level of ultraviolent light coming from the sun. When it is high, it is absorbed by the stratosphere, which warms up, generating more high-altitude winds and leading to a stronger jet stream. The reverse is true when radiation levels are low.
Prof Lockwood says this could have big knock-on effects. “For the last 20 or 30 years, the sun has been unusually active, and we have got used to that. This has has serious implications for how we organise our society. We have got used to ‘just in time’ retailing, for example, but as the current cold snap shows, snow and ice seriously hamper how quickly things can be transported.”
None of this means that man-made global warming is not happening, Prof Lockwood stresses. “Overall the world is still heating up. Local variations are more likely when global warming is happening,” he says.
This from the Express (Sorry reduced to quoting from the express)
And 2010 is apparently just the beginning. According to Mike Lockwood, professor of space environment physics at the University of Reading, we can expect the cold weather to peak between 2025 to 2040. The problem for us is the impact that low solar activity has on the jet stream, the current of air that blasts across the Atlantic carrying all our warm weather with it.
“Britain lies just outside the Arctic Circle and on the same latitude as Labrador. If it wasn’t for the jet stream and to a lesser extent the gulf stream – the warming of ocean water – our winter weather would be similar to that the Eskimos experience every year,” says Cooke.
In simple terms sunspot activity keeps the jet stream going. Take them away and the warm air won’t reach us during the winter months. Instead freezing air from Siberia in the North rushes in to fill the vacuum.
A long series of accurate 3-month or 6-month ahead predictions would go a long way toward increasing the respect with which people treat AGW, though technically they are neither necessary nor sufficient for the long-term forecasts to be reasonably accurate.
That is weather prediction, not climate prediction. Read up a little on chaos theory (aka ‘the butterfly effect’) and you’ll see that it is impossible. No amount of computing power will change that.
What you would see in reality is that these predictions would fail on a regular basis. Each missed prediction will be easily spun by the obfucationist community into: “you see, they can’t even accurately predict the climate 3-6 months ahead, let alone for a century”. Of course conveniently ignoring the fact that it was a weather prediction, not a climate prediction.
Do us all a favour and remember: weather is not climate.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 23 Dec 2010 @ 4:50 AM
22 December 2010 at 10:16 PM
Gavin 1999 : Greenhouse Effect Makes Winters Warm\
Gavin was absolutely right, its a habit of his;
Note huge area across the Canadian Arctic and Greenland,
for 7 days having average temperature anomalies greater than +18 C. In fact some places were +25 C above average at times. Is that a warm winter? Spanned world wide its a warmer as well. Unimaginable to walk about clear skies full moon +25 above average in 24 hour darkness. Northern Ellesmere was -2 C today… So Bob its a warm winter. Especially hen Hudson Bay ice melts!
There is no way out. The bad guys have won. I’m still arguing simply and solely because I hate letting them have the last word
What a black-and-white way to say that.
Have you been influenced by watching too much Hollywood movies that end in a sweeping victory for the good guys and a humiliating defeat for the bad guys? ;-)
This episode in human history will not have a final victory, neither a crushing defeat. There will be grades of ‘defeat’ and ‘victory’. The more we push, the more we expose the false skeptics, the more we educate, the sooner will people start linking the visible changes to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions and the sooner will they be motivated to take action and accept that difficult choices will have to be made.
Look at what has been done until now in this respect: many renewable energy solutions have matured over the past decennia. Their contribution to lower CO2 emissions until now has been negligible. But the fact that they are ready for large scale deployment is what is important. Imagine we were still be plodding along with 50 kW wind turbines and $ 30 per W solar panels? Let’s keep the momentum.
You should think: “Even if our efforts only limit temperature change to 2.3° C instead of 3.5° C , then it’s worth it”
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 23 Dec 2010 @ 5:23 AM
It still makes winters warmer, but not in the same places every year. Right now, the Arctic above 80degs latitude is on average 22F above normal, actually melting sea ice in locations, all while it is dark 24 hours a day. The side effect is that frigid air that should have stayed in the Arctic dumps onto lower latitudes, causing deadly cold snaps. Another good reason to swiftly reduce greenhouse emissions and thereby reduce disturbances to the circulation systems.
#212 (PeteB): Lockwood is always worth listening to, but it is worthwhile to note that the NAO was positive in both December 07 and January 08 when the solar activity was also very low. This very fact has also been used as an argument against the sea ice vs. NAO theory, since sea ice extent was the lowest in September 2007. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that 2010 extent has been below 2007 extent since mid-November and it is right now the lowest on record (by date) by far. We are actually losing sea ice at the moment, with Hudson Bay losing 200,000 km^2 over the last 10 days. Also note that the lowest sea ice extent in the period mid to late november was seen in 2006. Interestingly, that period was accompanied by an extremely negative NAO, something that strengthens the ice extent-NAO theory. In 2006, the NAO was negative until New Year, and flipped to strong positive in January. This negative in December to positive in January flip has been observed in close to 60% of the years since 1988.
The important thing from the point of view of the “bad guys” is that each and every day that business-as-usual consumption of fossil fuels can be perpetuated, they “win” more than one billion dollars in profit.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Dec 2010 @ 11:23 AM
Global warming caused climate change will cause the weather, pretty much everywhere, to no longer be ‘mild’. Mild, seasonal weather is the opposite of climate change.
213, Anne van der Bom: That is weather prediction, not climate prediction. Read up a little on chaos theory (aka ‘the butterfly effect’) and you’ll see that it is impossible. No amount of computing power will change that.
The butterfly effect refers to long-term modeling of chaotic systems, not short-term modeling. Accurate enough short-term forecasts of chaotic systems are possible (for example, models of heart beat are accurate for 1 or 2 cycles, but not beyond.) My first post (#40) on this thread agrees with what you wrote about the impossibility of accurate long-term forecasts from GCMs.
The GCMs model many localized short-term processes at small scale. Their long-term forecasts (whose results are frequently posted here and elsewhere), are long-term simulations whose results are aggregated across space and time to produce results that are plotted versus time with the time axis marked in years. “Climate” is “weather aggregated over long times and the whole earth”; my claim was merely that a series of short-term forecasts that were accurate would go a long way toward making the long-term forecasts more credible, as the long-term forecasts based on GCMs gain their credibility from the fact that they model the actual physical processes generating the weather and climate. Such a claim is more credible if the models make accurate short-term forecasts.
Also reread this quote from the main text: Rather, recent analysis suggest that the global mean temperature is marching towards higher values (see figure below), and Petoukhov and Semenov argue that the cold winter should be an expected consequence of a global warming. The use of the word “expected” maybe can’t be disambiguated, but it would surely be more credible a claim if someone last summer had predicted this winter using GCMs and the state of the world at that time. The biggest loss of Arctic Ice occurred 3+ years ago and was followed by a warm winter in England; I don’t think any model or group of people would have predicted that a subsequent regression of Arctic Ice cover to its 30-year trend line would have produced 3 consecutive colder-and-snowier winters than average. Yet, that’s what the authors claim that we ought to have expected — and it’s what I cautioned might be inherently unpredictable.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 23 Dec 2010 @ 12:22 PM
200 Chris R: It’s quite clear to anyone who actually reads the articles he cited that there are 2 parallel mechanisms that do not contradict each other, the impact of GHGs on OLR and changes in atmospheric circulation.
Are you asserting outrigght that changes in OLR (and increased heat retention) will have no effect on atmospheric circulation? Is that an established proposition in AGW research?
Comment by Septic Matthew — 23 Dec 2010 @ 12:34 PM
Esop (216), what is your source for the 22F far Arctic increase?
\This episode in human history will not have a final victory, neither a crushing defeat.\ – Anne van der Bom
We can’t know that – particularly with regard to the \crushing defeat\. Anthropogenic climate change could trigger the end of our civilisation and a huge loss of biodiversity – and possibly even human extinction. Most likely by leading to nuclear and/or biological warfare, as viable agricultural land becomes increasingly scarce. However, I do agree with your larger point: there is no reason to despair, and some to hope.
“A long series of accurate 3-month or 6-month ahead predictions would go a long way toward increasing the respect with which people treat AGW” – Septic Matthew
No problem: I predict that in six months time it will be warmer than it is now in the northern hemisphere, and cooler than now in the southern hemisphere. In six months time, I predict that I will confidently be able to predict that in six months time it will be cooler than it is now (i.e., than it will be in six moths time!) in the northern hemisphere, and warmer than now (i.e., than it will be in six months time) in the southern hemisphere. In 12 months time…
Seriously, this makes an important point about complex systems in general: you may be able to make accurate predictions at some spatial and temporal scales, even if you can’t make them at finer (or coarser) scales. So the fact that experts cannot make accurate regional six-month forecasts has absolutely no relevance to whether they can make accurate global, or even regional forecasts (of climate, not weather) at decadal timescales. None. At. All. So if accurate regional six month forecasts were available that should not, rationally, increase confidence in such decadal forecasts.
Matthew says, “A long series of accurate 3-month or 6-month ahead predictions would go a long way toward increasing the respect with which people treat AGW…”
Matthew, I’m going to assume that you still remember the distinction between climate and weather, and that this was some sort of momentary cerebral flatulence. If you have in fact forgotten, I’m sure there are many here who would be happy to remind you of the relative definitions. BTW, have you tried gingko?
I suspect it isn’t simply chronic denialism, but the name “Global Warming”.
Surely “The Day After Tomorrow” was sensationalism, but the basic concept that a change in the thermohaline circulation could result in some amount of cooling, and likewise other changes in atmospheric and oceanic cooling could do likewise. By hanging their hats so firmly on “Global Warming”, any deviation in a cooler direction — like, we’ve now had “winter” three years in a row, where we’d not had “winter” for several years prior — is taken as disproof.
Was this the thread where folks were discussing extreme weather events and their frequency? If so, this article over on climateprogress has a lot of good links in it that you might want to peruse. If not, sorry for the OT.
Thanks for posting that. I tend to spend a lot of my free time with my head buried in some specific and narrow line of learning. It’s like I’m crouching at the foot of a tree lost in all it’s detail and often forget the fact that I’m in a wood.
Jeff Masters has come out and said what I’ve been thinking the last few months.
162 “BPL: There is no way out. The bad guys have won. I’m still arguing simply and solely because I hate letting them have the last word.”
“I told you so” would be sweet. But let’s try for something better. Hang in there. Suicide is not allowed.
There is reason to believe, provided by you, that it won’t get bad enough for everybody to notice until it is too late.
I agree, but I will say again, unless or until we **prove** the ill will of the anti- machine, and hold some accountable in real ways, we will have to wait for Point of No Reurn, at which time it will be time to start digging tunnels, dragging our topsoil down into them and installing solar tubes and fresnel lenses to grow food and keep from turning albino.
I believe there are people/groups out there starting to file class action lawsuits. I suggest very large numbers of us jump on board.
Mann’s prosecutor buddy would be a perfect first case as he abused his office, as opposed to merely being a denialist.
Esop (229): Other sources (GISS, et al) show about a 1-1/2 degreeC 2009 anomaly for the “upper” Arctic (65-90 latitude). Eyeballing your link’s graphs it is hard to see even a one degree C change from 1958 to 2010, in either the high summer or low winter temps in the 80-90 latitudes. (I couldn’t find the database that went into the daily graphs.) Others’ analyses of the DMI data show a 0.38 C/decade trend of average annual temps — a 1.2C increase since 1980 or 1.9C since 1960. 12 degrees F seems nowhere to be found.
As an aside temperature stations seem to be very sparse in the 80-90 latitudes, though I don’t know the significance of that.
#231–Well, England in 1940 had no smart money on them, either. Despair is not adaptive, and overconfidence in one’s own ability to “see all ends” may not always pay, either. Call it the “Churchill clause.”
We’ll keep slugging.
And Merry Christmas–or other winter festival of the heart–to all.
226, Ray Ladbury: Matthew, I’m going to assume that you still remember the distinction between climate and weather, and that this was some sort of momentary cerebral flatulence. If you have in fact forgotten, I’m sure there are many here who would be happy to remind you of the relative definitions. BTW, have you tried gingko?
I also wrote that it was neither necessary nor sufficient, as Magellan’s circling the earth was neither necessary nor sufficient to persuade everyone else that the earth was round. Nevertheless, the mechanistic models purport to be accurate over short time scales and small regional scales, which is why their long-term forecasts )with model results averaged over space and time) are given some credibility.
Let me quote again from the main text: It is nevertheless no contradiction between a global warming and cold winters in regions like Europe. Rather, recent analysis suggest that the global mean temperature is marching towards higher values (see figure below), and Petoukhov and Semenov argue that the cold winter should be an expected consequence of a global warming.
I wrote something like the first sentence in my first post in this thread: chaotic models (models of dissipative nonlinear systems) may be compatible with more extreme extremes of both ends. However, if Petoukhov and Semenov argue that cold weather should be an “expected” consequence of global warming, then I think that the “expectation” would actually be expected if it were backed by a series of accurate predictions.
Especially, I might say, since for years we heard of the “fact” that warmer weathers were the consequence of global warming, and that children in Great Britain would grow up without ever experiencing snow.
As to actually modeling extremes and doing statistical analyses on extremes, you should probably work with one of the extreme value distributions. And if you are going to do any inferences that depend on asymptotic approximations, then you should use one of the Fisher-Tippett asymptotic extreme value distributions. As you know, for samples of increasing size from a given distribution, and for time series of increasing duration, the sample extremes become more and more extreme even as the sample standard deviation converges to a fixed value. Consequently, the mere existence of greater extremes than previously measured extremes is no evidence for change. The excess has to be greater than expected based on the most accurately fitted extreme value distribution.
Ray you are a good guy, but you are embarrassingly naive and superficial sometimes, and this is one of those times.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 23 Dec 2010 @ 11:12 PM
BPL. No way out??? Engineering is the way out. Social Engineering. Civil Engineering. And, ironically, faith, hope and charity. This group spends too much time with the theoretical. So easy to find the guilty, already? How about those who fail to see the possibilities of engineering?
The extreme low temperatures are breaking more than enough records to be significant and many of them are over 100 years old. That must have been global warming back then too huh?
[Response: Records are broken all the time, and if you look at the year as a whole, far more warm records were broken than cold records. This is also true of the last ten years, where the ratio of warm records to cold records was higher than any other recent decade. – gavin]
Human population will crest at around 10 billion people (we hope) sometime in the latter half of this century, which will coincide with serious drought due to climate change. I am all for engineering. However, engineering demands a bound on the scale of the problem unless you want to over-engineer (and so overspend) the problem. At present we do not have a good way to bound the risks due to climate change. At the very least, the likely impacts of drought, sea-level rise, increased severe weather, etc. demand engineering projects on a pretty much unprecedented scale.
The problem is that so far along engineering lines, we’ve accomplished precisely bupkis–not even a bound to the problem, let alone breaking ground on irrigation projects, floodwalls… I do not think you can have it both ways. Either you accept what the science is telling us and begin mitigation with all deliberate speed (damn the cost!) or you admit that you are willing to gamble the future of human civilization on a 20:1 longshot.
So, Matthew, do you require Newtonian mechanics to be able to predict heads or tails on a single flip of a coin before you beleive it?
Climate science deals with trends. Each run of a climate model is a single event–a realization of a single outcome influenced by random processes as well as those trends that make up climate science. In any one of those outcomes, the random processes may dwarf the climate signal and wind up hiding the trend. However, the random processes are short-term processes. That is precisely why climate restricts itself to multi-decadal timescales for evaluating trends. What you are asking for is weather prediction on 6 month timescales. That would be great, but it would have nothing to do with climate.
As to extreme value statistics, I think that you are failing to comprehend that we simply don’t have enough data to really understand the extremes of the distribution–particularly given that the distribution is likely changing, so the past is likely not representative of the present–particularly in the extremes.
Sorry, Matthew, I fail to see where my understanding the definitions of climate and weather makes me naive. Care to ‘splian that one?
What you call a short term climate prediction (3-6 months) is actually an EXTREMELY LONG range weather forecast. With all the supercomputing power available to meteorologists today, they can’t predict much further than 2 weeks ahead.
The fact that climate models model the regional short term artifacts does not imply they are able to predict each individual artifact. This is a chaotic system, and the climate models only replicate the weather PATTERNS, but they show no correlation whatsoever to the actual WEATHER that occurs in the real world.
From a climate model run you can deduct that the occurrence of cold winters increases by, say, 50%, but you can never predict WHICH will be those cold winters. And from what I read, that’s what you are asking. And that’s simply impossible.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 24 Dec 2010 @ 9:51 AM
An amateur observation from northern New England. References have been made to a cold winter phenomenon in ‘North America’. This likely excludes the northeastern quadrant, for last year and beginning this year we are getting an unusual series of retrograde storm patterns. The one just past brought in 40F weather from the northeast, where we should be in the 20s. These storms seem to be happening in conjunction with very large perturbations in the jet stream; very large troughs (with us on the east side) or very weak eddys. We are receiving very little, or relatively little northwesterly flow of cold air as a result, unlike central North America. Could this also be connected with the positive temperature anomaly in Baffin Bay, from where we seem to be getting some of this airflow? Temperatures in lower Labrador are sometimes higher than here. Has this regional phenomenon been studied?
#234 (Rod B): Approx 22F is the current (as in today and yesterday). Watch the red graph go straight up at approx. day 350. From the graph, the average temp right now is at right under 257K, while the normal temp (green graph)at this date is approx 245K.
It is the spike in temperature over the past weeks that is interesting in this discussion (cold European winter), as the very high Arctic temps happens at the same time as the cold temps in Europe.
Interesting to note is that the graph indicates that from day 150 to 250, the temp was actually below normal most of the time, but it seems to spike very high in fall/winter/spring.
#229 (Furry): Why would anyone be crowing about negative anomalies over regions of the Antarctic when the average global temperature is the highest on record (UAH near surface temp, last week)?
BTW, why don’t “skeptics” quote the UAH temps anymore?
This discussion is about the lack of Arctic sea ice and its influence on the current cold snap on the continents (something that was modelled back in 2004).
In that very discussion, how is the current Arctic temperature anomaly an example of cherry picking?
243, Ray Ladbury: So, Matthew, do you require Newtonian mechanics to be able to predict heads or tails on a single flip of a coin before you beleive it?
Are we now forecasting weather by flipping coins?
Anyhow, I have to leave for a few days. If the thread is still alive, perhaps I’ll respond then. Meanwhile, you can review the Fisher-Tippett extreme value distributions, if you seriously want to make statistical inferences from observed extremes in large samples and long time series.
I wish you all well for Christmas and the New Year. It doesn’t sound right in a contentious debate via electronic media, but so I do.
An amateur observation from northern New England. References have been made to a cold winter phenomenon in ‘North America’. This likely excludes the northeastern quadrant, for last year and beginning this year we are getting an unusual series of retrograde storm patterns
And the west coast, too, which has been on the receiving end of a series of “pineapple express” storms.
Pineapples don’t grow where it’s cold, and those storms don’t bring cold weather. Currently Portland, Oregon is right on average, slightly warmer at night and slightly cooler during the day.
Interesting to note is that the graph indicates that from day 150 to 250, the temp was actually below normal most of the time, but it seems to spike very high in fall/winter/spring.
The Arctic north of 80° N constitutes just 0.76 % of the Earth’s surface. Spatial variability is rather small, but day-to-day variability is rather high. It’s a pronounced spike, but not unprecedented:
Blue: mean of last 31 years, green: mean of last 5 years, red: 2007/2008, black: 2010, other individual years from light gray (1979/1980) to dark gray (2009/2010). The even warmer spike last week is 1986, the highest spike in December is 2002. It makes more sense to look at the difference between both means, which are just 13 years apart (center of each period).
To illustrate how warm parts of the Arctic is right now, here is the 8 day forecast for Bjørnøya (Spitsbergen), at 74.5 deg latitude: http://www.yr.no/sted/Norge/Svalbard/Bjørnøya_radio/langtidsvarsel.html
Forecast for December 29th is +2C and rain. No wonder the sea ice is melting up there.
Wonder if sun spotters like Pierce Corbyn et.al have any comments or forecasts for the high Arctic.
What you call a short term climate prediction (3-6 months) is actually an EXTREMELY LONG range weather forecast. With all the supercomputing power available to meteorologists today, they can’t predict much further than 2 weeks ahead.
Long range weather forecasts are possible andtherearemanyofthem. They’re just very different type of forecast than short range forecasts, and both are different from climate forecasts. Typically they can say things like “probability of a cold next winter at X is increased from 33% to 40%”. Skill tends to be positive, but much of it depends on ENSO predictablity and SST persistance. Skill for Europe is near zero, but forecasts are usable for much of the tropics.
[more links to come, but need to resolve what is considered spam]
My previous post got lost in moderation. to sum up it was ref to a New Scientist article saying the recent lack of sunspots could be a cause of the recent cold winters. The Little Ice Age which caused very cold weather in Europe was characterized by a lack of sunspots. If so it is happening independently of climate change.
for years we heard of the “fact” that warmer weathers > were the consequence of global warming, and that children > in Great Britain would grow up without ever experiencing snow. If you rely on bloggers and PR sites for your facts, no wonder you’re perplexed.Can you cite those claims you “heard of” to science journals?
Let us know what source you’ve been trusting.
The quote by Dr. Viner has been widely circulated and I assume he has never denied or retracted it. Nevertheless, in case you have never seen it here is the original newspaper article:
However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
The effects of snow-free winter in Britain are already becoming apparent. This year, for the first time ever, Hamleys, Britain’s biggest toyshop, had no sledges on display in its Regent Street store. “It was a bit of a first,” a spokesperson said.
Fen skating, once a popular sport on the fields of East Anglia, now takes place on indoor artificial rinks. Malcolm Robinson, of the Fenland Indoor Speed Skating Club in Peterborough, says they have not skated outside since 1997. “As a boy, I can remember being on ice most winters. Now it’s few and far between,” he said.
Michael Jeacock, a Cambridgeshire local historian, added that a generation was growing up “without experiencing one of the greatest joys and privileges of living in this part of the world – open-air skating”.
David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow. Via the internet, they might wonder at polar scenes – or eventually “feel” virtual cold.
Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. “We’re really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time,” he said.
The chances are certainly now stacked against the sortof heavy snowfall in cities that inspired Impressionist painters, such as Sisley, and the 19th century poet laureate Robert Bridges, who wrote in “London Snow” of it, “stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying”.
Not any more, it seems.
dhogaza: “And the west coast, too, which has been on the receiving end of a series of “pineapple express” storms.
Pineapples don’t grow where it’s cold, and those storms don’t bring cold weather. Currently Portland, Oregon is right on average, slightly warmer at night and slightly cooler during the day.”
They aren’t called “pineapple express” storms because the local temperatures are high. They are called that because of where they originate. Temperatures in the entire state of California have been below average for all of 2010.
I would suggest not using short-term local or regional conditions to try to illustrate or prove that global temperatures are rising. California had a very pleasant and balmy year, and we don’t think that proves anything.
within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
Apparently it’s fairly rare, because Heathrow was crippled by a mere 5″ of it, and it’s certainly been exciting for those trapped there five days …
They aren’t called “pineapple express” storms because the local temperatures are high. They are called that because of where they originate.
Yes, they come from the general direction of Hawaii, and when they arrive on the West Coast they are warm. Here in the PNW, when they arrive late enough in the year that deep snow has accumulated in the Cascades, the wet, warm rain associated with them lead to massive floods due to melting massive amounts of snow.
Thus the Christmas Flood of 1964 and the 100-year flood of 1996, each of with came within a foot or so of topping the seawall along the Willamette River.
Temps in December of 60 degrees or so (as happened due to the Pineapple Expresses that triggered those two floods) are warmer than average, whatever their reason. It’s not been that warm this year, but the Pineapple Express that triggered the first heavy snowfalls in the mid-West did cause above-average temps here (and moderate flooding).
I would suggest not using short-term local or regional conditions to try to illustrate or prove that global temperatures are rising.
I’m not, indeed I’m fighting those that argue that cold weather in the mid-west and parts of the east coast is indication that global warming is a fraud, not happening, blah-blah. My post and the one I responded to were clear as to their purpose.
Long range forecasts dont stand a chance if they do not include Arctic (more than 65 degrees North) sea ice conditions. Of which there will be talk at the pubs about the winter (soon without snow) being radically strange.
And this is in essence the climate change we all been talking about…
At 246, I mentioned current weather phenomena in the northeastern NA, as differentiated from general NA conditions. This may have been taken as an indication that I thought it was a result of climate change. My intention was to note a regional difference in weather and whether it is related to the patterns noted in the northeastern Atlantic.
Long range forecasts do include sea ice. Some models are still very primitive, but they are getting more advanced. CFS will get a reasonable sea ice model next month. Met Office made a projection of September 2010 Arctic sea ice extent based on its seasonal forecast:
Review your basic calculus; the Arctic north of 80° N constitutes 8.68 % of the Earth’s surface.
Eyeballing it there is already a problem. At 80° the difference in latitude is only one tenth of the Northern Hemisphere. You have the Southern Hemisphere to consider — and then the narrowing of longitude as you move towards the poles. A bit like as you move towards one of the the points of a triangle, except this is a spherical triangle with the equator as the base. So clearly it can’t be 8.68%.
My calculus is rusty, but I seem to remember that the Peter’s Projection is area proportional. To create a Peter’s Projection map you place a sphere inside of a cylinder then project light from the polar axis through the sphere to the cylinder.
This means that the vertical position of a point will be proportional to the sine of the angle. So 80° latitude is at 0.985 the height of the sphere — which is proportional to the area from the equator to that latitude. This means the area from 80°lat to the North Pole constitutes 1.52% the area of the Northern Hemisphere. Divide that by two and I get 0.76% the area of the sphere.
#262 (Wayne): Based on the statistics since 1988, the prediction would probably be right (positive NAO in January in 18 years out of 23.)
Negative NAO in January in only 5 of these years, but the last two were last winter and the one before that. Looking at the long term NAO forecast (NOAA), the index seems to go slightly positive right after New Year, but looks like it will go very negative again shortly after.
We’re dealing with solid angle–2pi*rcos(theta)/4pi~8.6%
Here is a quick thought experiment. Take the circular region from 80°N-90deg;N. Create a copy but shifted 10° latitude so that they touch but do not overlap. Now create another copy shifted in the same direction another 10° latitude so that it touches the previous one but does not overlap. Now keep doing this until your last copy touches the original copy. You now have 18 copies.
If the original area was 8.6% of the globe as you contend then the total area of the original and the copies would be more than 154% of the globe, covering it, covering half of it again — and then having some left over. But clearly the area total area of the original and all those copies is much less than the total area of the sphere.
In terms of solid angles I would recommend the following page:
… but φ is the polar angle of colatitude rather than latitude. (ibid.)
Now we can integrate over θ from 0 to 2π first, then integrating over φ we get 4πR(1-cos(φ)) where R is the radius of the sphere. But we can divide by 4πR as we are concerned with the fraction of the total area of the sphere. This leaves us with the very same equation I derived based upon my recollection of the Peter’s Projection in 270.
PS For a polar angle of 10° — going from the North Pole to 10°(co-)latitude south of the North Pole and where we are first integrating over one full turn around the North Pole — we get ~0.76% of the area of the sphere. For those who might be a little rusty regarding integrals (as I am a little rusty) the integral of sin(φ) is -cos(φ) so the integral with a lowerbound of 0° and an upperbound of Φ the integral of sin(φ) becomes 1-cos(Φ).
#262 Esop, is likely the case, -NAO with less sea ice in Nov-Dec. Low pressure systems penetrate and especially are maintained longer at higher latitudes over zones transferring energy to them. Remote sensing platforms may detect the higher heat flux areas:
perhaps the models incorporate this data. But I don’t see a greater variance due to thinner and thicker sea ice.
And there is certainly wind mixing causing a distorted image.
Cyclones “sculpt” high pressures in shape and position. This morphing occurs fast if cyclones are devoid of heat sources. As there is more Arctic heat sources, the lows transform the climate with steadier flows. I believe that this apparent steadiness is what is causing abnormal temperature changes in some regions.
“CFS will get a reasonable sea ice model next month”. Better late than never…
… where φ is the colatitude (equal to 0 at the North Pole, but π/2 at the equator) and θ is the longitude, Ω the “solid angle” or area on the surface of the sphere and d a vanishingly small difference. Nevertheless, a better way of writing this would be:
dΩ = dφ sin(φ) dθ
… since as φ tends towards zero and thus we move closer to the North Pole the lines of longitude converge whereas the distance between the lines of colatitude (or alternatively, latitude) remains the same. sin(φ) may therefore be regarded as a scaling factor for dθ that takes into account the convergence of the lines of longitude as one approaches the pole. Thus one is essentially calculating the area dΩ of vanishingly small rectangles of height dφ and width sin(φ) dθ then adding the areas of the vanishingly small rectangles to come up with the total area of the solid angle on the surface of the globe.
Incidentally, as the cosine of the colatitude is equal to the sine of the latitude Barton Paul Levenson’s solution is equivilent to mine.
The surface area of a zone is proportional to its height. Total height of a sphere with radius 1 is 2. So a zone between latitudes θ1 > θ2 has a relative area of (sin(θ1) – sin(θ2)) / 2. Thus, for θ1 = 90°, θ2 = 80° the relative area is (sin(90°) – sin(80°)) / 2 ~ 0.0076.
I happen to have Peter’s projection (Timothy #270) world map on my wall. The description on the map explains that it:
…divides the surface of the earth into 100 longitudinal fields of equal width and 100 latitudinal fields of equal height. It treats the rectangles around the equator as squares and builds the other rectangles onto these in proportion to the areas they represent.
The part from 80-90° north is 3mm high and the entire map is 510mm high, making the northern 10° 0.6% of the total. Allowing that measuring my map with a ruler is not that accurate and the projection method could have some round-off error, this is in the right ballpark for Andreas’s (#279) 0.0076.
Timothy, you’re right, of course. My fault for going from memory rather than doing the math.
If you hadn’t disagreed I would still be stuck at the level of, “Well, its like that guy Peter and his projection, you know…” Heck, long division was making me break into a cold sweat a few months back. And I used to be good at calculus. Currently my textbook is up there with The Republic, patiently waiting for me like a prodigal son.
The surface area of a zone is proportional to its height. Total height of a sphere with radius 1 is 2. So a zone between latitudes θ1 > θ2 has a relative area of (sin(θ1) – sin(θ2)) / 2. Thus, for θ1 = 90°, θ2 = 80° the relative area is (sin(90°) – sin(80°)) / 2 ~ 0.0076.
Maybe the bit about Peter’s Projection wasn’t that far off afterall. But essentially what you are doing here is the same as Barton Paul Levenson, except with two bounds rather than just one.
The surface area of a zone is proportional to its height. Total height of a sphere with radius 1 is 2. So a zone between latitudes θ1 > θ2 has a relative area of (sin(θ1) – sin(θ2)) / 2. Thus, for θ1 = 90°, θ2 = 80° the relative area is (sin(90°) – sin(80°)) / 2 ~ 0.0076.
A brief explanation of Archimedes’ Hat Box Theorem can be found here, but the one you give here is much more rigorous, a demonstration video can be found here, and the explanation of the Hat Box Theorem directly corresponds to the description of Peter’s Projection given here. A formula and actual map is given here.
Incidentally, this is what the author at the first link I gave has to say:
Description of the projection: take your sphere; chose a line through its centre (e.g., for the Earth, the axis about which it spins); construct a cylinder centred on that axis; draw rays out of the axis, at right angles to it; wherever such a ray passes through an interesting feature on the surface of the sphere, mark the cylinder with a representation of that feature at the point where the ray meets the cylinder; thereby project the sphere onto the cylinder. Near where the axis cuts the sphere (the poles), the sphere’s geometry is very badly messed up; but most of the surface area of the sphere is roughly half way between these two, where the geometry is treated relatively gently. Now, make a cut in the cylinder, parallel to the axis, and un-roll the projected sphere off the cylinder; the un-rolled image will lie flat (just like the label off a can of beans will lie flat if you manage to remove it).
I believe Archimedes knew about this projection (though he wasn’t using it for map-making) and proved that, if the cylinder’s radius is equal to that of the sphere (so that, formally, the cylinder is tangent to the sphere at its equator), the transformation preserves area – that is, the area of any feature on the sphere is equal to that of its depiction on the cylinder. I’m deeply impressed, if he did manage to prove this, because he’ll have had to have done his proof without using infinitessimals (even if he used them in the heuristics that lead him to the proof), because ancient Greek mathematics/philosophy had a big hang-up about them.
… and I both had it wrong. What we were describing is the Lambert Equal Area Projection. The Peters Projection introduces a scaling factor that stretches things vertically at the equator so as to eliminate the distortion at precisely 45° latitude — the standard parallels. However, the Lambert Equal Area Projection has no such factor and thus the distortion vanishes at the equator. It exactly corresponds to Archimedes Hat Box Theorem.
The Sunday NY Times has as op-ed by Judah Cohen in which he attributes the cold winters in the NH continents to increasing snow cover in Siberia. It was pretty superficial, so I did a Google Scholar search of him and came up with quite a lot of interesting stuff. I mostly have just read the abstracts of several of the papers he has co-authored. I would be interested in comments on this from Rasmus and others. At first glance it would appear that there are a lot of interconnected processes set in play by Arctic warming and the loss of sea ice, with all kinds of complex feedbacks. He argues that Siberian snow cover as the key predictor, but surely it all begins with Arctic warming and sea ice loss.
re 287/288 on Judah Cohen – Remember correlation is not causation, no attribution from Cohen. Cohen is in the business of making the 3-6 month forcasts someone here was asking for – meteorology, not climatology. See Snow Domes and Crystal Ballsin this Newsweek pdf.
Early snow cover in Siberia is assumed to be persistent until winter. It allows the establishment of a high pressure system over Siberia which leads to warming in the stratosphere that descends to the Arctic troposphere in January. Result is a warm Arctic and a cold temperate zone, particulary the northeastern US and eastern Europe.
Although the forecast isn’t based on climate change, sea ice conditions in the Arctic Ocean most likely do have some influence on early snow cover in Siberia. There’s a clear trend in October snow cover, but it changed sign after reaching a low in the late 80s / early 90s. The most recent trend is still unclear. 2007 and 2008 had the smallest snow cover extent since 1994, but 2009 returned to more snow cover than normal. 2010 is still above normal.
It is notable that the prediction that global warming may cause colder winters in Europe is only news when the winters in Europe become colder than usual. While we were having milder than average winters,then these were presented as evidence of global warming. You need to be careful. What does global warming science predict for the next 5 years (on average). Colder,or warmer? From what you say today, it should be colder. But what will you say if we now have another spell of milder winters in Europe? That they’re due to global warming?
[Response: Who is “you”? On average winters are getting warmer and will continue to do so. Discussing other possibilities for influences on circulation patterns – which are quite speculative – is certainly not the same thing as stating “it will be colder”. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have yet to find these arguments persuasive. Unfortunately though you are correct in your underlying point that these perfectly normal discussions are being presented in the media as being swings between extreme points (as if all scientists collectively change their minds every time a paper with an opposite point of view is published). The public are surely going to be confused – but this is not the fault of scientists. It is much more a problem in the media, who are very happy to find to post-hoc explanations to trumpet whenever something happens. Regardless of how well supported an idea is the headline always says “Scientists say….”. – gavin]
Could someone comment of Mike Rivero’s comment on whatreallyhappened.com. Personally, I think he is correct on many political issues, but knows not his arse from a hole in the ground when it comes to climatology, except he has a huge following, and this is one of the sources behind this so-called pooh-poohing of the hard science.
Once again it is stated that the northeastern US is in a cold temperate zone as a result of these phenomena. Whatever the models say, I have lived in it for 50 years and I can tell you that it is not cold this year so far as well as last winter. Normally we would be having cold arctic air from at least the beginning of December if not earlier. Normally we would be getting down to sub-zero F blasts. Temperatures remain in the 20s to 30sF and occasionally near 40F. If it changes, I’ll be sure to post it.
We are in a ice age. That is the devil at the root of this. It is so incongruous that we could have catastrophic warming during a geologic time scale ice age that minds are simply unable to grasp it. Even when they don’t actually know we are in an ice age because they think ice ages mean glaciation.
I suppose somewhere there is discussion of GW within the context of the current ice age but I have never seen it.
“… This study investigates the amenity value of climate to British households. By using the hedonic price approach, the marginal willingness to pay for small changes in climate variables is derived. ….
… British people would typically prefer higher temperatures in January….”
Personally, I doubt the free market is going to take care of this. But it’s always inspiring to see the economists’ approach to these questions.
Old friend, in your daily travels, do you not ever find even the slightest bit odd that anyone who disagrees with you is always guilty of not wanting to understand, but that your own motives are beyond question? Why is it so hard for you to believe that others, equally or far more educated, can have an honest difference of opinion?
The first thing that needs to happen is that people stop using the phrase ‘global warming.’ We all need to use ‘climate change’ to accurately talk about what’s happening. Deniers, especially, nit pick about the terminology when it’s a brutally cold winter, and people who are skeptical are not convinced to look into it further if they think all weather should now be warm.
We need to educate everyone about the facts, and there are plenty of them out there. We also need to do our part to conserve resources. [edit – no ads please]
#301–But it wasn’t a “single event,” was it? It was a long run of mild winters, and it was both seen to be, and cited, as supportive of the reality of AGW. (For example, I’m in the Atlanta area; and we’ve had weeks of freezing temperatures now. That’s been most atypical over the last fifteen years or so. And, by gosh, we had the first white Christmas since (IIRC the radio comment) 1993.)
Of course, we also had a very warm summer and especially fall (up until December 1, when somebody apparently flipped the switch labeled “winter.”) And–equally of course–there’s a huge area of the Arctic experiencing very high warm anomalies. So the frigid conditions here don’t spell an end to warming by any means.
Given that the earth is currently below it’s historical average atmospheric co2 content, I don’t think that the forcings of co2 can be meaninfully tested. All of these talks of trends are meaningless because these trends are occuring at an unusual time in earth’s history. It is abnormal for the planet to have so little co2. The ice caps are also unusual and so it isn’t very hard for a scientist to predict them melting away eventually. Essentially, all you are doing is identifying ongoing patterns that have already occurred. The fact that these events has already occurred and the planet did not explode invalidates global goring theory.
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 27 Dec 2010 @ 10:50 AM
gleaner63, Well, except that science isn’t a matter of opinion, is it? It is a matter of evidence. What are we to think of those who 1)refuse to consider the overwhelming evidence; or 2)are aware of it, but either distort or lie about it? Where is the honesty in that?
“I don’t think that the forcings of co2 can be meaninfully tested.”
Then you haven’t been doing ANY research on the subject. You really need to understand a subject before you try to debate it, ok? Truly, it’s not like thousands of scientists have pulled this out of a magic top hat – there is logic and data to back it up; all you have to do is read it. Until then, what you’re saying makes about as much sense as saying, “Well, we can’t possibly have cities on the planet because for most of the planet’s histories, there haven’t been any cities, and since it’s so unusual and abnormal for there to be creatures with opposable thumbs on the planet, we can’t tell what cities really are.”
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 27 Dec 2010 @ 11:52 AM
Dr. Shooshmon, phd. @ 306 obviously doesn’t have a phd in science or is he being facetious? Some of the people who post here don’t even seem to have a slight understanding of any of the science involved, or how scientific processes work.
My best present this Christmas was Gavin’s ‘Climate Change, picturing the science’. I heartily recommend it to any one who wants, or needs, to learn more and doesn’t want anything too technical
I had less trouble with “Global warming causes warmer winters” years ago when we weren’t having winter anymore. It was 22F here this morning for the low and that’s a recent experience, relative to the past 10 to 15 years. We had several winters where I never wore a long sleeved shirt, and I’m not the most cold-tolerant person on the planet.
The bigger issue is that “winter” and “summer” seem to be losing their regularity or predictability, not that they are “warmer”. If they were “warmer”, fine. So be it. The bigger danger seems to be that there isn’t the predictability that once existed. Three years ago I was ready to take a chainsaw to my peach trees, and replant with a variety that didn’t require as much cold to make fruit. Now I’m back to the old grind of checking for buds and planning the appropriate application of fertilizer and various other chemicals as the winter wears on. That, to me, is the risk — uncertainty about which way things are going from year to year. Gradual changes are far more adaptable than chaos.
[Response: Again I have to stress that claims like ‘it’s getting more variable’ etc need to be demonstrated. People’s memories are absolutely hopeless at assessing something like the standard deviation in snowfall or temperature over a few decades. Similarly, while it’s hard to discern changes in the mean over such short intervals, it’s even more difficult to statistically identify changes in the higher moments, let alone decide whether they are attributable to anything in particular. Can I please make a plea for people not to make post-hoc ‘pop’ attributions of anything that happens? Attribution is hard, and not something that can be done on a dime just because it snowed yesterday…. – gavin]
@ Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 27 December 2010 @ 10:50 AM
Given that the earth’s civilization is currently well above it’s historical average industrialization, agriculture output, consumption of non-renewable resources, and medical care, I don’t think that the benefits to overall population can be meaninfully tested. All of these talks of trends are meaningless because these trends are occuring at an unusual time in civilization’s history. It is abnormal for the planet to have so much human productivity. The 6.6 billion people now alive are also unusual and so it isn’t very hard for a scientist to predict them melting away eventually. Essentially, all you are doing is identifying ongoing patterns of extinction that have already occurred. The fact that mass die off events(Black Plague, 1918 flu epidemic) have already occurred and the planet did not explode invalidates any argument for the disproportionate value of human life.
“It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.”
Hunter S. Thompson
Who is “you”? On average winters are getting warmer and will continue to do so.
When you say “on average” what time frame are you talking about? Additionally, I do not like the term “climate change” because to me climate change is the changing of seasons and we’re really talking about sustained higher temperatures.
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 27 Dec 2010 @ 1:29 PM
Few years ago I was reading in the news,following the catastrophic holywood movie based on a local cooling effect, that such a scenario was completely unlikely to happen, since it would take much more time for the gulf stream to slow and by this time the warming effects would have erased the absence of conveyed warmth.
But now i read the reverse:measure of the gulf stream do show a 30 % decrease since measurement have been started, and everybody seems to get scare because greenland ice sheet melts far faster than predicted which might freeze this warm current… Any “official” comment on that ?
Winters are now regularly colder in atlantic europe, is that a trend that we can count on in the next 50 years… Is it impossible to model the effect of the gulf stream, which seems to be a quite regular heat current and estimate what will be the subsequent cooling. If such, this will be catastrophic, since the atlantic facade is highly populated and will burn even more fossil fuel in the coming years….
Or do you thing this cannot be a trend.
Would be nice to know to get prepared…
Good to see that youre finally talking about how this, and youve even allowed a couple of mild “denier” comments. Lots of plausible theories being proposed, but you should not try to rewrite history and claim that this was expected.
Dr. Shooshman, personal incredulity does not constitute scientific evidence. Why not try looking at some. There’s lots of it, and it all says we’re warming the planet. Now run along ’til you learn some science.
Maya you and others have miscontrued my statements. Cities and industrialization are irrelevant to my discussion because I am talking about quantities of co2 in the atmosphere from a historical perspective. You seem to think the human contribution is more important than other life forms, like the dinosaurs.
[Response: And what was the dinosaurs’ contribution to atmospheric CO2, just out of curiosity?–Jim]
I’m simply telling you that there isn’t much co2 in the atmosphere, historically speaking. Sure, you could say cities are an anomaly but they are artifical not natural, which is what I am talking about.
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 27 Dec 2010 @ 3:27 PM
Brian, I don’t find the human population to be special. There have been billions of other animals also. I think a warmer world could beneficial to the human race, it may not. However, I think that we will not know what the best GAT is until we actually experience it. How is the co2 doubling hypothesis tested? Is it tested against historical patterns or is it computed through models? I think that the temperature rise from a co2 doubling, including feedbacks is highly speculative because it cannot be tested? Gavin, would you agree?
[Response: Not in the slightest. – gavin]
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 27 Dec 2010 @ 3:32 PM
Connection between Arctic summer sea ice and European winter temperatures was proposed back in 1914 (Hildebrandsson) and demonstrated in computer models in 2004. Note that in northern Europe, cold November and December has been pretty much the rule in winters since 1988 (18/23), it is January-March period that has been mild. If that happens in the 2011 winter remains to be seen.
Apparently you think so highly of yourself, that you don’t mind bothering the leading scientists in the world on this subject, when all you have to do is research it a little bit, like others have said. You don’t realize it, but you really are making yourself look like a fool. If you didn’t notice, on the home page of realclimate there is a guide to get you caught up on the basics. Please do that for us. I recommend that you make yourself anonymous for about two years, follow these discussions, and then post your next comment to someone who is as naive as you are now.
Then you would be following my pattern. I was just as (un)knowledgable as you when I started reading here two years ago, and now you are bringing out my first comment. Thank you.
Shooshman, no, I don’t think I misconstrued your statements at all. You seem to have missed my point in a roundabout way: of course cities are irrelevant to your “discussion” because your point makes no sense. If you’ll go back and read it, I prefaced that by saying it would “make about as much sense as saying…”
What difference does it make if CO2 used to be higher or lower? I mean seriously, it’s irrelevant. The planet used to have a methane atmosphere, too. So what? In absolutely no way at all does that make it any less important that the CO2 is increasing now.
Yes, I do think the human contribution (although technically, it IS from the dinosaurs) is more important. Of *course* it is. If the increase was natural, it’s highly unlikely that it would be so fast, and it’s the speed of the increase as much as the quantity that’s important.
Why doesn’t that make sense to you? I mean that as a serious question, not rhetorical. The physics of global warming is well-established, and has been for like a century. There’s no question that humans are causing an increase in CO2 – the “fingerprint” is unmistakable (http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/fingerprint1.jpg). The rise is *thousands* of times faster than it would likely be if it were natural. And, it’s now at a level higher than any our species has seen. Ever.
So, what is your point, exactly? To say the forcings can’t be measured or modeled simply isn’t true. To say that the whole thing is irrelevant because this epoch is “unusual” is ludicrous. You keep saying that CO2 used to be lower, and that really is irrelevant.
If you’re trying to say you don’t believe us, the science doesn’t care if you believe it.
If you’re trying to say that we shouldn’t be concerned about climate change because the climate has changed before, know that the climate changes according to the forces acting upon it, of which humans are now far and away the dominant force.
And by the way, it’s not the sun, there is a consensus, it’s not cooling, the models are not unreliable, the temperature record is not unreliable, it has warmed since 1998, most climate research in the 1970s predicted warming, the next ice age has been cancelled, Antarctica is not gaining ice, Al Gore didn’t get it wrong, it’s not cosmic rays, 1934 was not the hottest year on record, Mars isn’t warming, the hockey stick isn’t broken, it’s not an Urban Heat Island effect, it’s not a natural cycle this time, Arctic sea ice doesn’t melt at this rate because of a natural cycle, and don’t tell me it’s not that bad because it really is that bad.
Did I miss any?
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 27 Dec 2010 @ 5:46 PM
Do you think Gavin and the other scientists (who are among the leading scientists in the world on this subject) should be responding to every naive question you have, when you clearly have not studied the subject? Go to the home page. There’s instuctions on how to get yourself up to speed. I waited two years to comment, and you’ve brought out that comment. I guess that makes me as important as you now.
There are a lot of possible climate combinations and sequences to consider, for example, if:
ENSO = 1 or 0
NAO = 1 or 0
NAM = 1 or 0
NP = 1 0r 0,
then we get 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 factorial with 16 possible combinations. Add to this frequency and amplitude, not to mention other patterns, and we get many, many different combinations, all of which can contribute to different sequences of combinations, etc…
Adding Humans as a factor just makes gavin et al job harder…
Oh I’m sorry, I missed a whole list of them: there is no “warmist” conspiracy, Jupiter and Neptune aren’t warming either, it isn’t warmer than the Medieval warm period, it’s not El Nino, it’s not the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, it’s not the methane, and it’s not the CFCs.
There’s about 20 others I could list, too, but the one that probably is the most relevant is: The Ordovician glaciation was a brief excursion to coldness during an otherwise warm era, due to a coincidence of conditions. It is completely consistent with climate science. When CO2 levels were higher in the past, solar levels were also lower. The combined effect of sun and CO2 matches well with climate. (Direct quotes from http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-higher-in-past.htm)
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 27 Dec 2010 @ 6:08 PM
Dr Schooshmon : If you will agree with everything schmit,hanson, mann, gore, ladbury and a few other over educated dinks have to say on real climate, You will be suprised how much better educated you are..
re Sooshmon – You folks need to understand that this is a parrot repeating the same exact random collection of sounds it’s been squawking on a range of climate related sites for awhile now, mostly contrarian sites, but the same foolishness. He’s even recently assured us his research indicates ice at both poles is massively increasing and will continue so for the coming decade. ;)
Still pouring here in queensland aussie. Virtually the entire state has experienced flooding..now to put that into perspective..queensland is about the same area as 1/2 the USA. Or from the shoreline of california to kansas. Mass evacuations are taking place in many towns throughout the state. The bureau of meteorology has no idea just how high the already flooded rivers will go since this has never occured to nearly such an extent in our history. We are in the middle of uncharted territoty..at the mercy of the modern global climatic paradigm.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 27 Dec 2010 @ 8:08 PM
re 319. Jim, you were wondering what was the dinosaur’s contributions to co2. Haven’t you ever seen the green dinosaur on all the Sinclair gas station signs? Duh.
No, my “memory” isn’t broken and I’ve looked at the temperatures that I keep as well as “proxies” like utility bills. But also, my observations were consistent with “Global Warming” — until the middle of the last decade. For example, the average annual temperature at ABI airport, according to the government, had been about 70F. The average for 2007 was 66.6, and for the last 3 years the average =has= been below the average. January ’10 was tied for “coldest” with ’01, and you have to go back to ’85 to find a colder January. February ’10 averaged 45.9F, and you have to go back to ’78 for find a colder February. Rounding out “winter”, more or less, December ’09 was the second coldest of the past 20 years, and only because I didn’t look further back.
So, no, not at all my failing memory. And definitely not data WUWT brainwashed me into reading — it’s real live instrument data records from NOAA.
[Response: Huh? Maybe I’m tired or something, but I don’t see how this is anything to do with what I said. I’ll reiterate though. If you have a noisy process, you need a long time to detect whether there has been a shift in the mean (at a single weather station, that can be decades). You need an even longer time to detect a change in the variance. Thus regardless of how good your memory is, there simply isn’t enough data to reliably say that there has been a change in the variance. There might be a change in the sample variance from one period to another, but detecting a statistically significant change (as opposed to just the kind of thing that might happen for time to time) is hard. Nothing to do with brainwashing, WUWT, or you. – gavin]
Perhaps some of us should print that in large letters and tape it to the refrigerator.
Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 27 Dec 2010 @ 8:12 PM
Might as well deck the wall with shills and folly. It is the season to be jolly (if not the climate). Stoke the fires with coal and petrol. Corral that ancient yuletide troll–laughing, quaffing all together. Heedless of the wind and weather.
Can I please make a plea for people not to make post-hoc ‘pop’ attributions of anything that happens? Attribution is hard, and not something that can be done on a dime just because it snowed yesterday…. – gavin]
For my part, I have asked about the different responses in northeastern North America than those in other parts of the continent, based on my own observations, read attributions. Now I find this piece of information which appears to validate the observations.
The Arctic sea ice events of 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 are specific weather events that can be attributed to AGW as part of larger trends. Then, the changes in NH Atmospheric circulation resulting from additional water vapor in the Arctic as a result of less sea ice can be attributed to AGW. This leads to a long trickle down of weather attribution to AGW. Moreover, additional heat in the atmosphere and the oceans affects each and every storm (and every day between storms). The process may not meet your standards for some purposes, but it may be good enough for some real world decisions, planning, and even engineering.
As long as you say there is no “attribution” for weather, those real world decisions, treaties, and legislation are going to get put off. (Or, are going to be weaker than they should be!)
In 2003, I suggested that we would see significant Arctic Sea ice melt within a decade, and you said that such “alarmism was unhelpful.” I was not alarmist, we have had such ice melt events that were “significant” within any normal use of the word. It was you who over estimated the stability of the Arctic Ice System, and you shouted down people that actually had the correct answer. You still over estimate the stability of the Arctic Ice System without noting that amplitude of the oscillations are increasing. This is the way feedback systems behave just before seeking a new equilibrium. Within the next 2 or 3 years we will see additional massive ice loss from the Arctic Sea Ice System.
You are still shouting down the people with the right answer. The right answer is that AGW is the most important and urgent problem in the world today. Nothing else matters until we have got ourselves on the right track with respect to AGW.
“Here we analyse a new 25° N transatlantic section and compare it with four previous sections taken over the past five decades. The comparison suggests that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation has slowed by about 30 per cent between 1957 and 2004.”
[Response: We discussed this rather critically at the time, and later data showed that it was very likely that these results were just the unfortunate aliasing of large high frequency variability. This has nothing to do with anything we are discussing above (since North Atlantic SST is very clearly warming). – gavin
Comment by Edward Greisch — 28 Dec 2010 @ 12:56 AM
Re #316, kervennic:
Winters are now regularly colder in atlantic europe
What is “regularly” and where is “atlantic europe”?
It’s just the last winter that has been cold in much of Europe, and this one may be cold. Some data (CRUTEM3, land only, climatology last 100 winters; Nov gray, Dec purple, Jan dark blue, Feb ligh blue, Mar cyan; black line is Dec/Jan/Feb mean, filtered by a 17-point binomial filter):
BTW, homogeneity of many time series is obviously really bad. GISTEMP lacks homogeneity too, and that seems to be semi-intentional. Hansen et al. 1999:
We use the version of the GHCN without homogeneity adjustment, as we carry out our own adjustment described below.
But what is described in section “Homogeneity Adjustment” has nothing to do with homogeneity adjustment; it deals with the adjustment of the trend for possible urban heat island effects instead. UHIs don’t produce any inhomogeneity; inhomogeneity is caused by changes in measurement locations, instruments or procedures.
However, inhomogeneity isn’t much a problem for more recent data; the main problems lie in the early parts of the records, mostly more than 100 years ago. Some problems may still exist in less developed countries.
“The Arctic sea ice events of 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 are specific weather events that can be attributed to AGW as part of larger trends. Then, the changes in NH Atmospheric circulation resulting from additional water vapor in the Arctic as a result of less sea ice can be attributed to AGW. ”
I totally agree, Winter Polar lows are getting more energized over locations of open sea water (which were once iced over), they appear to last longer and penetrate Northwards deeper all within last few decades. But I think that Gavin is dealing with snowstorms which shut down NY city for example. In this case, Dr Masters again explained the Northeaster very well, http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1716, Northeasters don’t occur often during La-Ninas. Attribution to AGW in this case is more difficult, but certainly the entire weather scene is surely not predictable according to the theory of climate persistence, using La-Nina template as a way to project reasonably well, falls apart when planetary waves behave differently. An Accuweather meteorologist predicted a “wall of snow” just South of the great lakes for instance, largely because its a La-Nina winter, this “wall of snow” appeared on the NE coast instead . I suggest here that more and more, as AGW kicks in, climate will look rather strange, not just for the Arctic (and its been very very strange here) , but everywhere, being unable to recognize “normal” patterns especially during well known oscillations , this unpredictability is expected as we enter new sea and landscapes caused by greater warming until equilibrium is reached. So I don’t entirely attribute everything to AGW but there are ways to recognize its imprint. I fault those who generalize “you cant attribute” anything to anything because in the end,
someone else will, and they are not the types who adhere to or respect those who are successful in science, they fill the void of orthodox scientific terminologies with crap.
338 Aaron Lewis, don’t forget scientists are treading a very fine line regarding public perception and credibility. Any degree of crying wolf will be seized by the media as ammunition to discredit the scientific community which alerted us to the possiblity of CC in the first place. I think Gavin well understands the situation..he’s got his finger on far more quality data than you have do doubt! I also agree that AGW is by far the most important issue the world has to face..not just now but for at least the next 100 years. Total sustainablity and a virtually zero nett carbon footprint per head of pop. is absolutely essential if the planet and all it’s lifeforms are to survive the next century. People are again forgetting the blue whale in the room..population control! Unless we as a planet regulate our current population and REDUCE it from it’s current unsustainable level any form of CC mitigation is virtually impossible to achieve.
Here chirps our regualr contributer..you know your name..who says “Yes but us humans are very intelligent and ingenious at finding solutions to crisis’…What Balderdash! The demographic with the scientific means at it’s disposal also happens to be one of the most selfish, egotistical and materialistic homo sapiens on earth. Me first..what in it for me..etc. How we are going to achieve global CC reversal is by collectively inspired leadership by policy makers and shakers filtering down to and ammending school curriculum to teach kids the importance of working together unselfishly and teach them ways to effectively do their part in the solution and inspire others to do likewise. Another words this will require a whole new mind set for the most wasteful demographic on earth…but the irony is..this is not a ‘new’ mindset..it is but the ‘oldest’ which we have long forgotten in our brainless and immoral pursuit of ‘stuff’.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 28 Dec 2010 @ 3:12 AM
Can anyone tell me where all the heat goes right now from the condensation to the rain and snow?
Dialect Boy 319: I’m simply telling you that there isn’t much co2 in the atmosphere, historically speaking.
BPL: I’m simply telling you that you’re wrong. Geohistorically, maybe, but historically, we’ve got higher CO2 now than any time in the last 800,000 years. And who cares what atmospheric conditions were like when the land was uninhabitable? For most of Earth’s history, there was too much land solar UV flux for land life. Should we accept that as normal, too?
What part of ‘many, many combinations’ don’t you understand? You need to be very careful with attribution. Scientists that use dramatisation to further their career and public influence, etc…, need to take a breather. While it is not unreasonable to expect certain effects, such as a contraction of polar winds due to warming, please take the time to understand the system you are affecting, otherwise your results are bubkus. What do the statistics tell you? That it is not due to chance? As a seasoned hardcore AGW denier, I can tell you, that god does not play dice.
Yes, I do think the human contribution (although technically, it IS from the dinosaurs) is more important. Of *course* it is. If the increase was natural, it’s highly unlikely that it would be so fast, and it’s the speed of the increase as much as the quantity that’s important.
The rise is *thousands* of times faster than it would likely be if it were natural. And, it’s now at a level higher than any our species has seen. Ever.
Gaya, I don’t think you have any basis for claiming that the human contribution is more important. Dinosaurs were much larger than humans and the methane from their waste could easily have caused a much faster rate of change in the atmosphere. Nobody can prove that human contribution is faster than natural forcings because they base it off of nothing. What is our contribution measured against? Nothing. I don’t see any difference between driving a car and a horse taking a dump on the side of the road. Again, you have no basis for claiming the rise in co2 is thousands of times faster than it otherwise would be. Actually, the earth must’ve had much faster rising co2 levels because atmospheric content has been much higher. I am sad to see history began when you were born, Gaya.
[Response: It might be more useful if you actually gave sources and data and reasoned arguments for your point of view, rather than simply repeating your opinion. Arguing for the sake of it is simply noise. PS. I rather doubt that dinosaurs tripled their population and created an industrial economy based on fossil fuels in under a century. They may have been big, but I think we likely had the edge on them in turns of rapidity of growth. – gavin]
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 9:55 AM
Well Gavin I’m glad to see this response. I don’t have research to prove that dinosaurs caused a more rapid atmospheric change than humans but I don’t think you have research to the contrary either.
[Response: Then what did you base your claim on, and why bring it up in the first place? Discussing actual facts is far more useful than just speculating wildly. – gavin]
This is why you and your fellow scientists need to establish a historical GAT that is widely accepted.
[Response: Some people will apparently never accept it, but it has been done multiple times. – gavin]
Would it be accurate to say that dinosaurs benefited from heavy amounts of co2? I’ve been under the impression that the large amount of co2 made the plants more nutritious and this is one of the reasons the dinosaurs grew so large. Back to my point about a historical GAT, research indicates that temperature has risen .8C in the last 100 years, agree? Well how do we know if this is important when we aren’t comparing it to anything? If we had a historical GAT to reference, it would make these statements more meaningful.
P.S. my aunt and uncle used to make security codes for NASA, I think they are retired now, we don’t see them that much. There names are Joy and Gary (don’t want to give out last names) wondering if you knew them?
[Response: Sorry, no. NASA is a very big place. – gavin]
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 10:19 AM
Gavin, that link you gave me directs to another page full of links. All I want is the historic temperature averaged into one clean number.
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 10:49 AM
Shooshmon, please have the courtesy to get my name right.
“I don’t think you have any basis for claiming that the human contribution is more important.”
Actually, I have thousands of references right at my fingertips. It’s called Google. You oughta try it – pretty cool stuff out there in the world. I’m not going to give you links for basic stuff like this, it will take you two seconds to find it and you don’t even have to leave the RealClimate site. The importance of the contribution is simple; my 11-year-old son gets it. If CO2 causes global temperature to rise (it does) and we’re causing the CO2 to rise (we are), then if that temperature rise is detrimental (the references for it are too numerous to list here, but you might start with “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet” or “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity”), then it logically follows that the human contribution is more important.
“Again, you have no basis for claiming the rise in co2 is thousands of times faster than it otherwise would be.”
Yes, I do, and so would you if you would LOOK at the peer-reviewed literature, just for maybe two solid minutes. http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v1/n5/abs/ngeo185.html There, that one takes about 20 seconds to find. Unfortunately it’s paywalled, but it’s easy enough to find reporting based on it, and they all repeat pretty much the same thing: We are spewing CO2 into the atmosphere 14,000 times faster than nature has over the past 600,000 years.
Now, if you want to discuss this any further, post research, references, a web site, ANYTHING that supports your claim. Otherwise, you know, pretty much anyone can say anything on the internet; that doesn’t make it true.
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 28 Dec 2010 @ 11:03 AM
Rapidly increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases will alter the climate system in ways that have not been seen on Earth in many millions of years. While much can be learned about the climate system using existing historical observations and current climate models, the record is far too short to study and observe its full response on multi-decadal to millenial time scales. For that, data from the geological record are required.
The goal of research funded under the P2C2 solicitation is to utilize key geological, chemical, and biological records of climate system variability to provide insights into the mechanisms and rate of change that characterized Earth’s past climate variability, the sensitivity of Earth’s climate system to changes in forcing, and the response of key components of the Earth system to these changes. The paleoclimate research questions contained in P2C2 are designed to reduce uncertainties in future climate trajectory predictions by focusing on three specific and complementary lines of inquiry related to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).
Important scientific objectives of P2C2 are to: 1) provide comprehensive paleoclimate data sets that can serve as model test data sets analogous to instrumental observations; and 2) enable syntheses of paleoclimate data and modeling outcomes to understand the response of the longer-term and higher magnitude variability of the climate system that is observed in the geological record.
These are new challenges to the paleoclimate community because these goals require the development of climate targets with sufficiently large signal to noise ratios, and well-constrained boundary and initial conditions of ocean-atmosphere-terrestrial-cryosphere interaction, to accurately determine internal and external forcing. The role of initial conditions addresses the increasing recognition that not all climate states will yield the same response of the Earth’s system components, and that history (that essentially accumulates the initial conditions to any and all starting points) may be significant. The goals also require paleoclimate reconstructions with chronologies sufficiently constrained to be able to quantify short-term changes in climate with well-resolved spatial distributions.
— end excerpt —
Natural populations are self-limiting. This is pretty basic biology. It’s also the basis of the idea of sustainability (and how humans are Doing It Wrong).
Interestingly, my first attempt at finding some concrete numbers to quote brought up the interesting headline “Humans out-eat mega-herbivores”. Doughty and Field (2010) found that people today consume roughly six times as much plant matter as the extinct Pleistocene mega-herbivores.
This rather blows Shooshmon’s theory out of the water. Six times over.
In fact, it’s such an apt result that I won’t even bother continuing to look at numbers relating to maximum sustainable herbivore and predator populations. If Shooshmon is interested in continuing his argument, he can do this himself.
Shooshmon’s comment that: “Actually, the earth must’ve had much faster rising co2 levels because atmospheric content has been much higher.” is particularly nonsensical.
When the timescales are measured in millions of years, a “mere” five-fold change in concentration isn’t exactly a high rate of change. The truth, though, is we don’t really know enough about Paleozoic CO2 levels, let alone rates of change.
Ray (307), but of course interpreting evidence is a matter of opinion (though judgement is a less-threatening term.) You formed your opinion/judgement of the evidence you’ve seen. But that by itself does not improve the evidence to unassailability.
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 1:29 PM
Rod B. says, “but of course interpreting evidence is a matter of opinion”
Actually, no. There are appropriate analysis methods defined for distilling understanding from data and they are not all that flexible. If I introduce a new technique, I must validate it against known techniques and show that it does as well or better without introducing errors.
Rod B., “You formed your opinion/judgement of the evidence you’ve seen.”
Not really, what I’ve done is look at what could explain the evidence, and then at what the implications/predictions of those explanations (e.g. theories) were and whether they were subsequently verified. And what is more if someone produced new evidence, I have to look at that, too, and subject it to the same analysis. In short, Rod, what I’ve done is apply the scientific method, and I personally do not know of a better way to figure things out.
Not all analysis methods are equal. Some yield reliable approximations of truth. Some yield bullshit. I’ll stick with the scientific method–you know, the one that shows that we are warming the planet.
I don’t know who Flickable is but I do not appreciate the disingenuous comment. My research has in fact indicated however that the poles are growing. I do not use 1979 as a baseline start date, I instead prefer to start at 1905, so yes, starting from there, ice has increased overall. I am very upset with some of the attacks I have been subjected to for asking serious and engaging questions.
[Response: If you read the thread, no-one has criticised you for asking questions. They have criticised you for giving unsupported answers based on nothing more than your opinion. There is a difference. I have no idea why you think 1905 is such a great start date (why not 1900, or 1887 or last Tuesday?), but the evidence of glacier retreat, the history of polar exploration (Amundsen for instance), indicates very clearly that there is less ice around now than there was then. But again, if you want to convince anyone, I suggest you provide links to the evidence you find convincing, and argue cogently why everyone else is wrong. – gavin]
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 2:03 PM
Gaya unfortunately for you the earth is older than 600, 000 years, I can’t read your source because like you said it’s paywalled. That co2 is rising 14,000 times faster than it has naturally in 600,000 years sounds like an assumption, much like projected lives saved from reducing second hand smoke. I cannot accept the premise to begin with because there is no basis.
What a joke. I don’t think anyone except you believes that humans eat more than dinosaurs did. You can argue with yourself.
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 2:10 PM
@Gaya from the popcorn gallery
“the amount of CO2 we put into the atmosphere is pretty trivial: As of 2009, there are only 38 or 39 molecules of CO2 for every 100,000 molecules of atmosphere, and it will take mankind’s CO2 emissions another five years to raise that total by 1 molecule, to 40 out of every 100,000 molecules.”-Roy Spencer
So if we’re only adding 1 molecule of co2 to the atmosphere every 5 years, it ain’t that much babe.
[Response: First, don’t patronize other commenters – especially when they are making far more sensible points than yourself. Second, really? You are going to pull the old ‘it’s just a trace gas and so an increase of 40% over the pre-industrial is irrelevant’ line? That might impress some other folks, but you really need to improve your game if you want to play in this sandbox. – gavin]
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 2:25 PM
“I cannot accept the premise to begin with because there is no basis.”
And I cannot accept anything you say because it has no basis, apparently, so our conversation is over.
There isn’t any Gaya here, either.
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 28 Dec 2010 @ 2:35 PM
I don’t think anyone except you believes that humans eat more than dinosaurs did. You can argue with yourself.
Given that he referenced a published scientific paper with two authors, it appears that at least two others do. And since it passed review, it appears that the reviewers found the claim credible, at least.
Meanwhile, we have your hand-waving personal opinion based on nothing but your personal hand-waving … much like your unsupported, preposterous, claim that ice caps have been growing since 1905.
Unlike others here, I do believe you have a phd, but I do wonder just where you sent the SASE to get it …
Dear “Dr” Shooshmon: I provided a source. I am not relying on my own authority. If you wish to mock the result, then you might at least look up the citation first. Do you need me to provide a link you can click?
You seem proud of your qualifications. May we enquire what field your PhD is in?
A thought occurs: maybe you have ignored the large amount of vegetation that enters the human food chain indirectly, through animals raised for meat. You have certainly ignored the size of the human population.
Expect to be judged by what you say. We know nothing else about you.
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 28 Dec 2010 @ 3:23 PM
Zeebe and Caldeira 2008 in PDF here. I’m no expert, and am prepared to be corrected, but I don’t think their main finding speaks directly to the point you’re making about the exceptional speed of the current CO2 rise. They calculate a very small mean trend in atmospheric CO2 over 610,000 years. That doesn’t tell you how fast or how far CO2 has gone up and down around the mean on time scales comparable to the present steep rise. Where did you find the 14,000 times factor?
The IPCC in 2007 found
It is very likely that the average rates of increase in CO2, as well as in the combined radiative forcing from CO2, CH4 and N2O concentration increases, have been at least five times faster over the period from 1960 to 1999 than over any other 40-year period during the past two millennia prior to the industrial era. (AR4 WG1 ch. 6 Ex. Summ.)
The industrial era increase in CO2, and in the radiative forcing (…) by all three gases, is similar in magnitude to the increase over the transitions from glacial to interglacial periods, but started from an interglacial level and occurred one to two orders of magnitude faster (Stocker and Monnin, 2003). (ibid., 188.8.131.52)
That’s one to two orders of magnitude faster, not four orders of magnitude (though perhaps the latter would hold if we were comparing the present CO2 rise with other interglacials, rather than with deglaciations?).
In any case, your wider point stands:
There is no indication in the ice core record that an increase comparable in magnitude and rate to the industrial era has occurred in the past 650 [thousand years]. (ibid.)
the phd @364 betrays his problem, his inability to interpret visual input. It’s flxible doc, contrary to your misinterpretation.
In keeping with your meme about higher CO2 over geologic ages, why not give your polar ice prognostications in terms of geologic times? How are the poles doing with respect to when CO2 was being driven by that dinosaur dung? Please give us a reference for your figures of polar ice volumes and extents in 1905, as well as currently. And your references regarding how much the total population of megafauna ate compared to the total eaten by the entire current human population please.
Disingenuous? [“Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating“]
I thought my pointing out your repetitious blog world assertions was very straight forward and totally candid, unlike your own behaviour, which appears calculated to convey that you have the “inside scoop”, which you disingenuously insinuate is contrary to the actual PhD’s that do real science here about the real climate.
Sorry doc, you’re losing ground fast. Shoosh, mon
Unfortunately I cannot divulge what field my phd falls under because I am afraid it will compromise my identity. Secondly, I don’t need to read anything to know that dinosaurs surely consumed more food than humans. It sounds like your saying there are more humans than dinosaurs and so collectively humans consume more but if you compare a person to a t-rex its a lot different. The large amount of vegetation that enters our food chain indirectly through animals raised for meat is a bad point. Your inferring that animals dinosaurs ate didn’t consume vegetation or something.
The overall point I’m trying to make in this discussion is that history demonstrates the earth has an enormous tolerance for co2, vastly higher than the amount we have in the atmosphere today. I have stated that the co2 doubling theory from 280 to 560ppm is pointless because it can’t be tested. Gavin disagrees but he did not provide a reason why. In order to precisely test this theory, we would need an entire planet to control, similar to ours, that 560ppm of co2. And knowing that co2 levels have exceeded 7,000ppm. I say, why 560? How can you know 560 is the big bad level?
[Response: Perhaps you could try reading something one of us has written instead imagining claims that you think we might make? (I doubt it will make you happy, but I cheerfully ‘concede’ that 7000 ppm is indeed bigger and badder than 560 ppm, but it doesn’t mean that 560 ppm would have no impact). – gavin]
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 3:38 PM
Gavin, it may be a 40% increase over pre industrial levels but historically it is negative decrease.
[Response: Not in at least 800,000 (and possibly millions) years, it hasn’t been. Or is your point that it was warmer in the Cretaceous, therefore we don’t need to worry about climate change now? I hope not, because that would be pretty dumb. One might usefully ask what relative sea level was like in world without permanent ice…. – gavin]
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 28 Dec 2010 @ 3:41 PM
Gavin, while Furry’s observations are scientifically accurate, your comments are spot on scientifically correct. My minor annoyance however is that you hardly ever (though not never) take the “warmists” to task for the dozens upon dozens that run ad nauseam every half-dozen or so RC threads of similar but distinctly unscientific observations and anecdotes (with the probable exception of Arctic anomalies) they use to “prove” global warming.
Aaron Lewis in 338 says we ought to expand the hyperbole of anecdotal “proof” of warming. Actually he has a point if, as he implies, the purpose is political tactics. But as science is concerned, he is all wet… or all dry if you want.
So, I don’t know how they got to that figure, but if I puzzle it out I will post it here. If anyone else already has and wants to beat me to it, go for it. :)
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 28 Dec 2010 @ 4:51 PM
Rod, lol, I plugged that in because someone the other day referred to the collective non-scientists here as the “peanut gallery”. I’m not a scientist, don’t pretend to be, and some of what is posted here by others is admittedly over my head. I sort of stuck with the moniker because it makes it clear in a humorous way that I am not pretending to be anything other than what I am, an interested layperson who likes to comment sometimes. Now back on topic…
Comment by Maya from the peanut gallery — 28 Dec 2010 @ 4:55 PM
Ray Ladbury (363) says,
“Rod B., “You formed your opinion/judgement of the evidence you’ve seen.”
Not really, what I’ve done is look at what could explain the evidence, and then at what the implications/predictions of those explanations (e.g. theories) were and whether they were subsequently verified. And what is more if someone produced new evidence, I have to look at that, too, and subject it to the same analysis. In short, Rod, what I’ve done is apply the scientific method, and I personally do not know of a better way to figure things out.”
What I said.
Your phrase, “Some yield reliable approximations of truth” is more serious. I would quibble with “reliable” as it almost makes the phrase an oxymoron. I would prefer “good.” But whatever, I agree; and such evidence is not unassailable and never to be questioned.
Rod B., Where, pray tell, did I ever suggest that science should not be questioned. However, it must be questioned on the basis of evidence and proper scientific analysis–both of which are utterly lacking among the denialati. And of course, it isn’t really that common to challenge science that’s been established for decades to over a century, UNLESS there is compelling evidence.
Finally, no, science is not a matter of opinion. Opinions can be formed in a variety of ways and often are not worth even the trouble to voice them. Science is usually worth listening to. Maybe you ought to learn the difference.
Comment by David B. Benson — 28 Dec 2010 @ 5:33 PM
Re 372 CM, also Maya (and Swishman – Shush,man? – Slushman – what’s his name?)
Also, looking at the graph at 184.108.40.206, the deglacial rise in CO2 of magnitude similar to anthropogenic rise – thus far – took somewhere between 5000 and 7500 years, whereas the anthropogenic rise has been mostly the hundred years (see also graphs here http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spmsspm-human-and.html ). I graphically estimate it took ~ 6000 years to rise ~ 76 ppm (give or take), a rate of ~.0127 ppm/year; from http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-2-3.html,
it looks like there’s been a ~ 1.77 to 1.8 ppm/year increase from 1971 to 2005 (53 to 54 ppm change; I’m using the New Zealand curve; this is for endpoints and thus not a linear trend, but an average rate for those specific dates), more than 100 times the deglacial average, and … it’s accelerated and not done yet.
“Dinosaurs were much larger than humans and the methane from their waste could easily have caused a much faster rate of change in the atmosphere.”
“Manure deposited on fields and pastures, or otherwise handled in a dry form, produces insignificant amounts of methane.” http://www.epa.gov/methane/sources.html
And ruminants evolved ~ 30 million years ago(long after the dinosaurs went extinct), possibly as a result of the evolution of C4 grasses. see http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/10/21/0904691106.full.pdf+html, and “Nutritional ecology of the ruminant” By Peter J. Van Soest (google books)
“I don’t see any difference between driving a car and a horse taking a dump on the side of the road.”
Do you feed your horses fossil fuel that has been sequestering carbon from the atmosphere for millions of years?
Dialect Boy 374: history demonstrates the earth has an enormous tolerance for co2
BPL: Earth does. Our agriculture and economy do not. ALL human civilization arose in the exquisitely stable climate we’ve enjoyed for the last 6,000 years. We are adapted to that environment. Suddenly change it and we will hurt–badly.
The stories you linked attribute the comparison I objected to in Zeebe’s mouth. Obviously, he’s an expert and I’m utterly not, but I still think that the staggering figure cited is meaningless. (The arithmetic presumably goes: 100 ppm per 200 years divided by 22 ppm per 610,000 years is ~ 14,000.) I think estimates like Patrick 027’s at #387 are more relevant. You still end up with good evidence that the present sharp rise in CO2 is exceptional for at least the past 600,000 years.
@ “Dr” Shooshmon, do you have evidence that dinosaurs had the technology to release 10s of billions of tons per year of formerly sequestered carbon into the atmosphere?
I’m a “peanut gallery” member who lurks constantly, utilizes the wealth of information available on Realclimate and does constant battle with the rank and file deniers. One of the things those who acknowledge the prevailing theory to be the best explanation of that observations have in dealing with the “ignorati” is creating succinct, two word sound bites that are the only way into the denier psyche.
I have dealt with deniers ad nauseum and find that they fall into three categories: 1. The vested; 2. The faith based; 3. The ignorant. They may maybe all three or subsets of the three. The premutations can be confusing because, for instance, one might attempt to educate the ignorant but if the ignorant rely on faith then fact doesn’t matter. One may rub fact in the face of the vested but they will continue to exploit the faith based and ignorant.
I read somewhere that it took humanity 200 years to accept the fact that the earth revolves around the sun and that the theory of evolution is still not accepted by most in the US. 200 years for AGW caused by an invisble, odorless to be accepted as fact? Well, despite Peak Oil, there’s plenty of coal and gas and 200 years means the end of civilization as we know it.
It’s an interesting task tracking down the origins of often-quoted but highly unreasonable numbers. The projected warming converted to celcius by simply changing “F” to “C”, the sea level rise conveniently stripped of associated time span….
Often these exaggerations serve as straw men. Even if the original error was unwitting, they are not our friend.
And when we track down the 14,000 figure, we find that it isn’t referring to any actual CO2 rate of change, but the average over 610,000 years. So much is clear from the stories, but is totally masked by the hysterical subheading “14,000 TIMES FASTER THAN NATURE” which I tracked down to a Reuters article by Deborah Zabarenko. She probably isn’t to blame for the heading, but she is to blame for the sloppy paraphrasing: “That means human activities are putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about 14,000 times as fast as natural processes do, Zeebe said.”
The original press release contains no such quote. Instead, it includes this direct quote from Richard Zeebe: “The average man-made increase in atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel burning and deforestation over the past 200 years is about 14,000 times faster than the long-term average change over the past 610,000 years.”
The Reuters version, of course, was copied verbatim by countless media outlets.
Thanks. I should have looked up. Now that I’ve started wondering about this, I wonder how meaningful is even the correct “14,000 times” soundbite (and whether we might owe it more to a U. of Hawai PR flack than to Zeebe and Caldeira, who make no such point in the actual paper…)
As for a geological perspective on the speed with which we are adding carbon to the atmosphere, the last paragraph of that press release seems more to the point: “Carbon dioxide is added naturally to the atmosphere and oceans from volcanoes and hydrothermal vents at a rate of about 0.1 billion tons of carbon each year. Human industrial activity and destruction of forests is adding carbon about 100 times faster, approximately 10 billion tons of carbon each year.”
“Dr. Shooshmon, phd” is an obvious trollbot. See for example here, Comment #62013:
Your an idiot if you think second hand smoke significantly raises your risk for cancer in your everyday life … For the record, genetics are much more important in determining life span than all other factors. This is why some of the longest living humans have smoked and still lived well into their hundreds.
Recognise the style? Semi-literate, “factual” statements with no references that are obviously false, and claims that are bound to raise the ire of anyone with a clue.
[edit – OT, just one set of denialist talking points at a time please]
Comment by Dr. Shooshmon, phd. — 29 Dec 2010 @ 10:35 AM
This may be relevant to the original post (if not to the thread, which seems to have travelled a remarkable journey all the way to discussing how much the collective dinosaur population ate!)…
The Jan 2011 issue of Weather is now online and is a special issue about winter 2009/10. Mostly from a UK perspective. I haven’t read them all yet, but I don’t think any deal with the particular question of whether reduced Arctic sea-ice cover might cause the anomalous atmospheric blocking circulation that is linked with cold winters in parts of Europe. But nevertheless they may be of interest.
You probably need a paid subscription to read these articles — sorry! For those without a personal or institutional subscription, here is the final paragraph of my article:
In conclusion, the winter of 2009/2010 was notable for the record negative NAO index in the 187-year record of Jones et al. (1997), indicating the very unusual nature of atmospheric circulation over the Atlantic/European region. Despite 2009/2010 being a cold winter over the UK and Europe, it was actually around 0.5 to 1 degC warmer than might have been expected given this extreme pattern of atmospheric circulation. Considering observations averaged across the globe, winter 2009/2010 was one of the warmest on record.
Similar results have been reported by others.
Hope it’s not too early to wish you all a happy new year — especially to my friends at RealClimate!
Didactylos, I was referring to your #383, and commenting on the prevalence of some that proclaim loudly, “See that big hurricane??!!? [or fill in the blank with any one of a plethora of regional weather examples] Global Warming!!! Global warming!!!” Then when called on the logic mutter some gibberish about “not really causation… just giving examples….. no, just a possible scenario… something else… ” or some other back peddling. Then in a later thread attempt the same meme.
Rod B: No excuse for perpetrating the opposite error.
Life would be a lot simpler if we could just filter out the babbling of the extremists and their black and white views.
The opposite of “denier” may very well be “warmist”, but neither have anything interesting to say about climate. The vast majority of commenters here, however, are capable of grasping nuance, and of distinguishing nonsense from unclear science and from well-established science. We agree with the consensus view because it makes sense, not because of dogma.
We can cope with the idea that warmer global temperatures should make local record highs more frequent, and heatwaves more frequent.
Didactylos, I agree with most, maybe even all, of your #409. I explicitly did not target everybody here with my accusation — hence the words “some” and “often.” Which would mean that some are not at all guilty. (Whether a vast majority or not I can’t say.)
I certainty can cope with “the idea that warmer global temperatures should make local record highs more frequent, and heat waves more frequent.” But not that GW caused 1) Katrina, 2) the European heat wave a few years back and the recent European cold wave, 3) Charlie’s peach blossoms to bud out two weeks earlier than last year, 4) an Australia drought last year and flooding this year, 5) the recent unprecedented Moscow heat wave and the more recent Moscow uncommon winter blast, etc., etc., etc. But there are those (some) here that really try to convince people of such.
Hank, I don’t bother with specific cites because they would be too time and space consuming. But you can easily find them here in RC — don’t even have to google for them! ;-)
Rod B., not to pull on the shoe loudly proclaiming the excellence of the fit or anything, but when I’ve cited Katrina and the ’03 heatwave (more often elsewhere than here) I’ve been as clear as I know how to be that they can’t be formally attributed to climate change–but that they are exemplary of what the future may be expected to look like under BAU.
And they are certainly worth recalling when someone claims that “nothin’s happnin’.”
Now this article is truly amazing to see at Realclimate.org. Only one single cold winter and a really cold start of another one makes the great general holy consensus crumble at the edges. How wonderful observations are!
The idea of colder winters in Europe in a warmer world is not new, of course. But this is the first time I see it taken seriously in a believers forum like this and the reason was just mentioned – real observations. But don’t forget that the IPCC AR 4 is very clear on its predictions for central and northern Europe, it will be one of the areas outside the polar ones that will warm most and it is the winter more than the summer that will become warmer.
Most of the 21st century winters have also been mild or even very mild in this region. This has helped a lot to sell in the global warming message. Although the real scientists have typically been careful in not saying too much they have nodded and noted that this trend is what is expected of the AGW scenario. Last year everything changed. Suddenly there was a really cold winter although not exceptional. How come? All sorts of indices started to appear in the general media such as NAO and AO. Fair enough, but how come that they were essentially NEVER mentioned in popular media as an explanation for the preceding warm winters?
[Response: Your research on this matter is extremely partial. NAO/warm winter discussions were plentiful over the last decade. Pretending that this is the first you’ve heard of it is good rhetoric, but bad science. – gavin]
Now this winter has begun. This one is so far something completely different. This one IS exceptional and many regional records of various kinds (persistent cold, area of snow coverage etc.) have been set, in some cases in series more than one or two centuries old. Not so easy to explain away. Now the situation is more serious – how to reconcile this with the idea of a warming world? One should also not forget that the global measurements since 12 years back show not a warming world but rather a constant temperature world although in a relatively short period as 12 years random fluctuations could be important.
There was a paper recently by Cattiaux and coworkers recently
that tried to describe last winter in terms of flow analogues. They argue that last winter was cold but should in reality have been even colder in absence of AGW, and that it was mainly due to an extremely negative NAO. An important point in their reasoning was that last winter was not very cold after all. Well, this one is (so far – but the long term predictions say cold or very cold). I don’t dare to think how cold it could have been without AGW!
The present note should be seen in this light. But the science is settled is the message we get from this blog. OK. But how come then that the model for Europe may be completely wrong?
This is important indeed. And why did it take only little more than one winter to dig up the ideas? And if Europe was this completely wrong how do we know it doesn’t go for other regions too? And for the whole global model? (If Europe and more is indeed wrong then the global models simply have to be affected to some degree even if the original overall picture was correct).
To me this gives the impression of a very unsettled science. This in no way a surprise, this is what I and most sound critics have been saying all the time. The science may be the best possible but the uncertainties far greater than claimed. Many countries in Europe are already spending billions for actions that should help them handle a warmer climate. If the opposite is true then much of this isn’t only wasted, it may even be harmful. This is just a perfect illustration of how unwise it is to take action before you have the full picture.
Maybe the snowplough budget at Heathrow was already adapted to an expected warm up when reality struck a few weeks ago? And similarly perhaps in New York which Gavin, if I am rightly informed, just needs to look out the window to see the consequences of.
The latest frost fair on the Thames in London was held in 1814. One wonders what the flow patterns said then? See you perhaps at the coming one next February?
[Response: I’ll happily bet serious money, even with odds, that no frost fair will be held on the Thames in London in February. Just because you keep talking about cooling doesn’t actually make it cool you know… – gavin]
Gavin’s comment to #414. Gavin doesn’t believe in a London frost fair next year either. So what killed them, in your opinion? It certainly wasn’t fossil fuel driven AGW, that started only many many decades later.
Do you have some sort of reading comprehension problem? Or perhaps, as with most things, you just didn’t bother to read the original post and decided to “wing it” uninformed?
The post is in response to a specific paper–and one at the cutting edge of climate science, rather than the well established like climate change itself. Perhaps you are not interested in science. Some of us are.
News Flash, Punkin: Not everything needs to be veiwed through your rose-colored blinders of politics.
I can remember a whole bunch of times when the people who run this blog have strongly emphasized unsettled science, the unknowns, the uncertainties, where more work needs to be done, where time needs to pass so more research can come in, etc.
But then, obviously, I don’t read as carefully as you do.
Steven Jörsäter – The Thames was broader and shallower before the early 19th century, which is a lot of the reason it ocassionally froze over, and even then sometimes only for very short periods … there were only 26 years it froze over a period of 500 years, why is it any indicator of anything?. Do you have a reliable reference to this current December being “exceptionally” cold in England for “one or 2 centuries”? compare your assertions here.
“All sorts of indices started to appear in the general media such as NAO and AO. Fair enough, but how come that they were essentially NEVER mentioned in popular media as an explanation for the preceding warm winters?”
Well, according to Dave Barry “We journalists make it a point to know very little about an extremely wide variety of topics; this is how we stay objective.”
back to Cold winter in a world of warming:
Rossby waves from the top: There are 4 waves circling the North Pole. One wave consists of a high pressure area and a low pressure area. That is 8 pressure areas in a ring around the pole at the latitude of Canada. Between the pressure areas are flows north and flows south.
Between a clockwise rotation and a counterclockwise rotation [left to right] the flow is from the north to the south at ground level. The reverse is true between a counterclockwise rotation and a clockwise rotation. Every quarter rotation, the flow is north. In between those flows at 45 degrees + quarter rotations, the flow is south.
So, by rotating the Rossby wave system 1/8 turn [45 degrees] with respect to the Earth, the flow at a certain point on the Earth is reversed. England is at zero degrees longitude. Greenland is at, low and behold, 45 degrees West longitude. Greenland was cold and is now warm. England was warm and is now cold.
Conclusion: Global Warming has rotated the Rossby Wave system 45 degrees of longitude from its former position. When you are in an air flow From the pole, you feel cold. When you are in a flow From the south and you are in the northern hemisphere, you feel warm.
RealClimate is not the Vatican of Climate Science. “When it’s on RealClimate, then it has the blessing of The Team and the followers must accept it”. :) RealClimate is just a blog reporting on what goes on in and around climate science. They make all kinds of choices about what is interesting and what is not, what is accepted science and what is uncertain. Don’t seek too much behind these editorial decisions.
When someone enters a debate throwing around all kinds of religion metaphores, I always think that has to make up for the lack of solid arguments.
Comment by Anne van der Bom — 30 Dec 2010 @ 6:35 AM
Why do deniers contradict themselves?
Obviously it has something to do with an inconsistent world-view. But you’d think most of them would hide the double-think better.
So, are scientists trying to claim that climate science is settled, and a done deal – or are they stirring up controversy seeking more and more grant money?
I’m also unsure why Steven Jörsäter is jumping into the deep end of the debate without even understanding the difference between weather and climate. It’s kind of fundamental.
Have the various global temperature series themselves been peer reviewed? Have the collection and adjustment methodologies been published? Have the raw data and numerical methods been archived and independently confirmed? If not, doesn’t this call into question conclusions based these temperature series?
For example, any termperature series where the original data was not retained, only the adjusted data. Certainly that series could not be used reliably for any work. There would be no way to verify the conclusions.
Similarly, any adjusted series where the adjustment methodology was not published and peer reviewed. That series could not be used as there also would be no way to verify any conclusions.
Until and unless this has been done for the global temperature series, any observations or conclusions based on these series is suspect.
Which of the global temperature series satisfy the following from Wikipedia:
“Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible, to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.”
matthew@422: What is the thinking about how December ranks? could make this year first or second in the records.
Canada has just put up it’s year end stories, stating 2010 was the warmest ever in Canada, particularly further north. An interesting list of the numerous extremes experienced this year, including effects on agriculture.
ge0050: So, given that the global temperature record is probably the most open, scrutinised and independently verified and replicated scientific endeavour in the history of mankind….. maybe we can agree that the conclusions based on it are sound, and the implications of international importance?
That is the natural and inevitable conclusion based on your own analysis.
What are you doing to pressure your elected leaders to take the scientifically justifiable actions that we need?
January 15, 2009. Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon:
“Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done.”
[Response: So who are these terrible people? What evidence has Dr. Theon produced to support such serious accusations? Certainly that evidence must have been published openly and peer-reviewed so that the community could replicate his analysis….. but I don’t seem to be able to find it. Perhaps you could help? – gavin]
To be a bit more explicit than Gavin was about #427–
Have the various global temperature series themselves been peer reviewed?
Yes, they have.
Have the collection and adjustment methodologies been published?
Yes, they have.
Have the raw data and numerical methods been archived and independently confirmed?
Yes, they have.
If not, doesn’t this call into question conclusions based these temperature series?
Which of the global temperature series satisfy the following. . .
All of them.
Any more questions?
Oh, and some of the statements made were wrong, too–research results can be “verified” by independent investigations of the same issue, as well as (actually, better than) by mere replication of the same design. So, for instance, the fact that the 5 major datasets (GISTEMP, HADCRUT, NCDC on the “instrumental” side, and RSS and UAH satellite analyses) all show very similar (though not identical) curves is powerful evidence that they are all on the right track. For analysis of the datasets, see:
Anne van der Bom, yes it is true that weather is a chaotic system that can not be predicted unless the current state and all parameters are known with great exactness. I wrote as much myself earlier in the thread. Nevertheless, the GCMs make climate predictions by taking the space and time averages of samples of model outputs, which are many short-term model outputs in sequence, aka “weather predictions”. There would be more confidence in the climate predictions if the weather predictions they were computed from were accurate; though that is neither necessary nor sufficient, it would be helpful.
Ray Ladbury, if you are going to make statistical inferences from extremes, then you should study the Fisher-Tippett extreme value distributions. And you should be aware that “more extreme” extremes are the expected result of increasing the sample size from a population, and are not necessarily evidence that the population has changed.
We are stuck with the facts that, by themselves, extremes of cold do not constitute evidence against global warming, and extremes of hot do not constitute evidence in favor of global warming. This is true even if the extremes are “unprecedented”. You have to show that the extremes are consistently more extreme than expected from the applicable extreme value distribution. At the Joint Statistical Meetings in Vancouver, B.C. in July 2010 there were technical presentations on this topic.
Nothing new there. That’s a quote from one of Morano’s hatchet jobs for the Republicans; U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: Minority
Jan 27, 2009. Theon claimed to have been Hansen’s supervisor, then backed off to saying he signed budget papers but didn’t supervise. He was in the news briefly on one of those hundreds-of-names lists that Morano was circulating.
[Response: I know. I was just having some fun. – gavin]
Septic Matthew fails to understand the difference between weather forecasting and climate modelling. After spending so much time commenting here, it is really baffling that he still doesn’t grasp the difference.
I don’t think there’s any need to repeat the explanations. Anyone who is interested can just read the FAQs.
436, Didactylos: Septic Matthew fails to understand the difference between weather forecasting and climate modelling.
Are you saying that the GCMs do not make climate forecasts by stepping through many small time steps to solve the differential equations starting from a known state — and then computing the relevant space-time averages for each forecast year?
I have looked for independent confirmation. Someone that is:
Anyone currently employed maintaining the temperature records fails 3. Lots of us have opinions, but fail 1. If you haven’t worked in the discipline, in a position of some responsibility you will likely fail 2.
So, I went looking for reports for scientists that met these criteria. If you have a list of independent sources I’d like to review their findings. Here is what I found.
Dr. John S. Theon January 15, 2009
“My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit. Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.”
[Response: You claim that you are in search of knowledge and verified statements, and yet you take the word of someone you have never heard of before he was pushed out by Morano et al, and trust him despite the fact that he has provided no evidence for his accusations at all. So we have a bit of an imbalance – there is peer-reviewed, replicated science that you can personally download, run and verify (which you don’t trust apparently), versus vague insinuations which cannot be verified by anyone (which you apparently believe). To my mind this is completely backwards, and only makes sense if you are acting under some very strong ‘Bayesian priors’. Please explain yourself (or at least justify why you think that insinuation and smears are an appropriate way to resolve scientific questions). – gavin]
Septic Matthew said “Are you saying that [snip]”. No. No, I am not.
I said you fail to understand the difference between weather forecasting and climate modelling.
First, weather can’t be predicted even if the initial conditions are known exactly. The chaotic nature of the system means that the simulated weather will always drift from the actual weather, no matter how good the model. This is why weather forecasts are only valid for a short interval, and why long-range weather forecasting is so difficult.
GCMs often use the same physics as weather models, but nobody expects them to reproduce real weather. Instead, they are expected to produce realistic weather. There are a considerable number of ways to test this, at both small and large scales. None of them involve comparison with actual single weather events.
On the plus side, if NASA gets a lot of traffic from Russia, it is thanks to Pravda. Some Russians are very superstitious and will be there looking for NASA’s reports on the 4000 UFOs. Maybe they will also read about global warming.
Comment by David B. Benson — 30 Dec 2010 @ 7:40 PM
Walter Pearce, Oh! Bite me. I was commenting on the comments in RC that distinctly imply and often explicitly say that these one-off regional anomalies are caused by current global warming. If you haven’t seen or can’t comprehend any of these, my providing the RC cites until the cows come home would not help you one whit.
Didactylos (429), a personal suggestion: hyperbole doesn’t become you. “…the global temperature record is probably the most open, scrutinised and independently verified and replicated scientific endeavour in the history of mankind… “??!!? Gimme a break!
#427 ge0050: you could also consult the Muir Russell report (pp 45-47; 150-158), which demonstrates that the CRU temperature anomaly data can be reconstructed from independent sources using independently written software, based on published work.
If anyone ever suggests to you that in a field where thousands of PhDs are working, something really obvious hasn’t been done – and you believe it, here’s one for you. The word gullible isn’t in any dictionary.
I can’t help but notice that Theon spoke out in January 2009, following Obama’s election in 2008, following Theon’s “recent” retirement from NASA in 1994, about James Hansen’s 1988 statements to Congress which he considered “embarrassing” to NASA.
What took him so long? Politics, maybe?
According to Tony Hake, Denver Weather Examiner, at the 2009 Heartland Conference Dr. Theon said that he would have liked to have fired Hansen during his tenure at NASA but was thwarted by Hansen’s powerful political friends, including former vice president Al Gore. Theon said, “I have publicly said I thought Jim Hansen should be fired. But, my opinion doesn’t count much, particularly when he is empowered by people like the current President of the United States.”
While working at NASA, Theon thought Hansen should be fired, but put politics ahead of doing what he thought was right, then kept quiet about it until “people like the current President of the United States” got elected.
444, Didactylos: I said you fail to understand the difference between weather forecasting and climate modelling.
243, Ray Ladbury: Each run of a climate model is a single event–a realization of a single outcome influenced by random processes as well as those trends that make up climate science. In any one of those outcomes, the random processes may dwarf the climate signal and wind up hiding the trend. However, the random processes are short-term processes. That is precisely why climate restricts itself to multi-decadal timescales for evaluating trends. What you are asking for is weather prediction on 6 month timescales. That would be great, but it would have nothing to do with climate.
It would be useful if you could show, that is if the climate modelers could show, along the way that the random processes in RL’s quote had 0 mean across the spatial and temporal distributions. This assertion of mine is not a “failure to understand” the distinction between weather and climate; it is an assertion that there is a potential for the short-term predictions, when they become accurate enough, to increase confidence in the long-term forecasts. Given that the climate system is inherently chaotic, as just about everyone has agreed to, there is no good reason to believe that the long-term prediction, being the average of the space-time distributions of the chaotic process, is accurate.
Barton Paul Levenson has accumulated a record of modeling successes. The most important modeling success will be the first accurate 30 year forecast. Right now the long-term forecasts made about 10 years ago are running high, and there is little evidence that the apparent bias will not grow with time. I think that modelers should look to the short-term spatio-temporal errors for hints of where the long-term forecasts could be improved. If by 2030 no 30 year forecast is less than 2C too high on average (which now looks possible), then no one will believe AGW even if it is true.
I acknowledge that it’s possible for the long-term forecast to be accurate enough despite inaccuracies in the weather forecasts, as outlined by Ray Bradbury, but that has not yet been demonstrated. It takes a great deal of belief to believe it.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 31 Dec 2010 @ 12:23 AM
“ge0050″ has made the round of climate blogs recently, posting (often off topic) disbelief-from-incredulity statements in whatever thread was open, usually ending up with a reasonable-sounding question easily answered by looking at the FAQs here, or at SkepticalScience, or with a bit more effort by pasting it into Google Scholar, or by reading Spencer Weart’s history.
I think “geo0050″ has played a full round of Talking Point Climate Blog Bingo.
I just wrote down my understanding on the extremely cold winter. Understanding that you are quite busy, I will be very appreciate if you could read through and give some short comment. Thank you and Happy 2011!
The Global Warming Driven Extremely Cold Winter: the Pull and the Push to North Wind
Let’s start from Dr. Judah Cohen’s recent hypothesis. With the impact of global warming and more water vapor accumulated in atmosphere over the summer, the very wet air has to condense more water vapor in fall and winter. The Siberia, with mountains like Himalaya, Tianshan, Altai blocking the air flow, the heavily accumulated water vapor hence start turning into snow since fall season. The large quantity water vapor allows long lasting precipitation into snow in Siberia, and lowers down the local pressure there. A lower atmospheric pressure in Siberia hence pulls the cold north wind from Arctic. With the cold wind comes but blocked, to balance the energy, the Siberia’s getting colder with more snow accumulated. As the north wind come to Siberia, it has to go elsewhere like the Europe and even US east this winter. In fact, this logic applies not only in Siberia; it should apply to all regions in mid-latitude with enriched water vapor. The water vapor condensation is the process creating lower pressure – the pulling force to north wind. On the other hand, the pushing force however is not illustrated in Judah’s hypothesis.
Other than Judah’s prediction, Dr. Vladimir Petoukhov also tried to link the observation of the decrease in Arctic ice extent to a stronger north wind. It is definitely an inspiring observation, although I am not very sure if my understanding is same as his hypothesis. The below is my description. Since the driving force of wind is mainly the water vapor condensation, the north wind will not be that strong if there is also strong condensation in Arctic. The decrease in Arctic ice extent is actually a decrease in heat insulation between the surface seawater and the cold Arctic atmosphere. As a result, with a lower Arctic ice extent in summer, usually there will be a faster recovery of ice-extent in late autumn and winter (although it is faster, it is still unable to reach the extent before global warming). The faster freezing of seawater into ice means a faster release of heat from the sea to the atmosphere. It therefore lowers down the need for water vapor to release its heat, i.e. lowers down the precipitation in Arctic. Since the heavy cold air is difficult to get rid of its water vapor, its air pressure remains high and therefore has to flow somewhere else – the lower latitude. This is the pushing force to north wind from the Arctic.
If the logic here is correct, with the combination of the pull and the push, both driven by global warming, we can anticipate the winter north wind getting stronger in coming years. In other words, such freezing winter will become worse until the north wind is not that cold (yes global warming again).
Last but not the least; I have a good suggestion to deal with this. The government or green companies should set up more on wind turbine at suitable locations. By utilizing the north wind for power generation, we will also weaken the strong north wind. In turn we save lives from suffering the extreme coldness, and save economic cost to deal with heavy snow, and also save the energy consumption for heating up the city. Oooops, isn’t it wonderful?
Comment by Cheng Chin Hsien — 31 Dec 2010 @ 3:22 AM
David Karioly on the ABC news in Australia this evening
From my vantage point I basically think we are overwhelmed by ignorance.
Its bad, really bad, many blogs, “newspapers”. radio commentators talk about the new ice age… Standing in the Arctic when just the opposite is happening, is quite disturbing. I read even here some of the usual “points of confusion” dedicated to discourage a rational explanation because the critic is stubborn beyond a reasonable discourse to understand the very basic tenets of AGW, despite astounding evidence of otherwise:
OK contrarians, is this the beginning of an ice age???? And or those arguably
not so keen on understanding that weather is not a regional event, but a world wide
phenomena. When Northern Europe gets cold, while the Canadian Arctic becomes very warm, is there a connection? Common sense dictates that some of the North Atlantic warm air flow was diverted to the low sun Arctic while the Arctic air mass was readily shared with Northern Europe. it is that simple. The process of which creates this in a steady way is of huge interest and was greater in size than 500,000 square Kilometers. Big enough?
The subject of AGW is way more serious than an argument to have fun with, or a political cause to take a side with, its misunderstood by disinformation on a grand scale designed to replace reason with an agenda far away from it.
Do you have a 401K or other retirement money in stocks? Is your decision to keep you money in the fund/stock contingent on the ability of analysts to predict the closing price of the stock on a date certain?
Dude, You may contend that your demand is not predicated on your failure to understand the difference between climate and weather. You are wrong.
Oh, I see, Septic Matthew. It’s not that you know less about these things than climate scientists (and the average person who stays informed) but that you know more than the climate scientists.
Do let us know when you publish your results.
As for your fundamental misunderstanding that chaotic systems can’t display order at other scales – well, that’s just plain wrong. There are countless examples. Take the N Body Problem, for example. There is no way we can accurately work out the orbits of all the many bodies in the solar system. But for the bigger objects, our approximation is excellent. The calculation is trivial, even, for a first approximation.
The same principle applies to fluid mechanics, and any number of other fields or natural processes. And in the case of fluid mechanics, the way we solve the problem is much the same as climate science.
Oh, and absolutely nobody is under the delusion that models can’t be improved, so do please stop harping on about that.
I did think long and hard, searching for other examples. I also admittedly limited my search to comparable endeavours: attempts to create an empirical data series.
What else meets my description? What other data series has been scrutinised by government after government, been subject of report after report, and consists of half a dozen independent analyses from two completely independent data sources?
I know what you’re thinking. The hockey stick! Yes, that has been subject to equally ludicrous over-examination, and has also come out well. But the hockey stick has quite large inherent uncertainties, unlike the modern global temperature record.
What other scientific observations have been scrutinised like this? Perhaps some in medicine come close, particularly with respect to lung cancer. But I didn’t really count those as being comparable, since it is a problem of attribution not simple measurement.
from the main text: In fact, global atmospheric and climate models are better at describing the large picture than more regional and local characteristics. There is a limit to what they are able to describe in terms of local regional details, and it it reasonable to ask whether the response to changes in regional sea-ice cover is beyond the limitation of the global model.
It is reasonable to suggest, in paraphrase, that the response to changes in regional sea-ice cover will not always be beyond the limitation of the global model. Inferentially, from their comments, others here do not believe it is reasonable to ask whether the response to changes in sea ice cover is beyond the limitation of the global model — they already know it is and will be.
460, Ray Ladbury: Do you have a 401K or other retirement money in stocks? Is your decision to keep you money in the fund/stock contingent on the ability of analysts to predict the closing price of the stock on a date certain?
I allot my meager savings to mutual funds who have at least a 10 year history and did least poorly in the last 2 major financial panics. It is a poor analogy to predicting weather or climate because no physical principles are involved. My strategy would be analogous to backing the climate model that was least bad in 1997, 1998, and 1999. But in investing, the regional effects are key.
From the main text: Rather, recent analysis suggest that the global mean temperature is marching towards higher values (see figure below), and Petoukhov and Semenov argue that the cold winter should be an expected consequence of a global warming.
I also wrote that cold winters should be expected from global warming, using the analogy of the wind/ocean wave interface and phenomena of other nonlinear dissipative systems. What about cold summers, as currently experienced in Antarctica? Curry’s model predicted that global warming would produce increased snow accumulation in Antarctica, a regional effect; we should hope for a model that predicts with reasonable accuracy when Antarctica will experience unusually cool summers, analogous to the Petoukhov and Semenov expectation about the cold winter.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 31 Dec 2010 @ 10:58 AM
461, Didactylos: Oh, I see, Septic Matthew. It’s not that you know less about these things than climate scientists (and the average person who stays informed) but that you know more than the climate scientists.
That’s a poor paraphrase of my text.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 31 Dec 2010 @ 11:08 AM
a small joke: 11 inches of rain, more or less, fell on San Diego this Christmas season, and comparable amounts fell elsewhere in CA. Heavy rainfall at Christmastime was called “el Ninyo” (forgive me, I do not have enya), after the Christ Child. El Ninyo was taken as the name in ENSO; alternating low rainfall years are called “la Ninya”. This is a strong “la Ninya” year by the multivariate ENSO index, but we had a strong “el Ninyo” anyway.
“The weather pattern known as El Niño, which can bring heavy rains to Southern California, has doubled in intensity and warmth and shifted westward over several decades, according to scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
JPL oceanographer Tong Lee, an author of the paper, said …. “El Niño is the largest fluctuation of the climate system. It has worldwide impact on climate patterns, so any change in El Niño’s behavior might cause a change in its impact.”
Lee suggested that the findings revealed “two competing effects. Shifting El Niño’s location could mean less rainfall” in Southern California, he said. Still, “since it is getting stronger, we may get more rainfall. How these two effects play out is something that needs to be investigated.” The study, he said, “documents the change of a major climate system, but I cannot tell you the impact.”
Bill Patzert, a JPL climatologist who was not involved in the paper, said three decades were too short a time period to draw conclusions. But, he added, “This is another piece of evidence that the climate is shifting. It is clear that in the last century the planet has warmed by almost two degrees Fahrenheit. More than 80% of that is taken up by oceans. Oceans are the canary in the coal mine.”
Patzert said the paper was observational rather than conclusive. “What will happen if this new type of El Niño becomes permanent? Will it give us wetter or dryer El Niños?” he said. “It is too early to tell. The one thing we know is that the future ain’t what it used to be. The planet is definitely warming, and El Niño has morphed into something different.”
That was last August, of course. We don’t know enough more now to say much more; one data point, one season added to the record.
@364 shooshman, BS
My research has in fact indicated however that the poles are growing.
I’ve been following RC for about four years and I don’t recall any other poster who established his trolling credentials so quickly and definitively. I’m embarrassed to see how many people are using a sledgehammer to crush this tsetse fly, no doubt providing it with a lot of laughs.
Open debate is one thing, sabotage is another. At @364, if not earlier, the response should have been something like ‘Your assertions are preposterous even for a denialist. You don’t even have the excuse of ignorantly parroting other denialists. You are a liar and a troll, and since you have no respect for this site or for rational debate, your comments will henceforth be removed immediately until you offer evidence for them.’ The usual denialists around here at least try to look reasonable. The blogosphere will of course produce a pile of accusations of censorship, but it claims that all climatologists except a favored dozen or so are lying money-grubbers, so one more piece of nonsense will make no difference. And you can always quote the BSer at the accusers.
Comment by Philip M. Cohen — 31 Dec 2010 @ 7:52 PM
466, Hank Roberts: Consider the possibility that changes beget changes:
Good comment. What’s happened is that “El Niño” in this context no longer has anything to do with the Christ Child after whom it was named. It amused me because we had so much rain at Christmas time.
Comment by Septic Matthew — 31 Dec 2010 @ 10:00 PM
Re: Inhofe/Theon and other fossilist conspirators…
When is somebody going to hack into THEIR email server and make their corespondence public? Is it only former KGB operatives capable of such an act? How bout some of the Wikileaks supporters?
One issue puzzles me concerning Petoukhov and Semenov’s findings and I haven’t been able to find any reference to it in the above article or comments, but my apologies if I have missed it. (I also appreciate that if I understood more of what they were saying there would probably be more things that puzzled me!)
The puzzle is this: As I understand it, the suggestion is that open water in the Barents and Kara Sea areas allows anomalously high amounts of heat and water vapour to be released to the atmosphere above compared to ‘normal’ conditions when the seas are frozen. Addition of heat and water vapour both reduce the density of air and would therefore be expected (by me, at least) to produce an area of LOW pressure in the vicinity. How is it that it produces the opposite – an anticyclonic high pressure area?
I also appreciate that the above relates to the medium position with respect to sea-ice and that the model suggest both more and less sea-ice than this would produce low-pressure cyclonic conditions. But that just deepens my puzzlement.
I also note the caveats – ‘non-linear’ and ‘unexpected’ and so on. Perhaps I am hoping for a simple explanation where none exists.
JiminMpls: Think carefully about your ethical position before wandering down that road.
Personally, I believe whistle-blowing to be not only a right, but a duty. I also consider stealing private information to be a crime. Clearly there is some conflict there, and a rather large gray area.
This is why there usually exists legal protection for whistle-blowers. Unfortunately, such protection does not usually extend to the armed forces.
Fishing expeditions are another thing again. Most jurisdictions do not allow trawling for information to use against someone or something. Doing it by means of hacking just adds another crime to an indefensible action.
Remember also, that there have already been leaked denier documents. They show exactly what we expect to see: fossil fuel companies were aware of the reality of global warming long ago, and the denial industry is unadulterated astroturf. But the leaking of those documents have changed very few minds. Deniers *already* believe it’s all a conspiracy – reason and evidence do not impinge on their world-view.
Another relevant example is a tsunami: the first evidence from land that it is about to hit is when the water recedes from the coastline; the farther it recedes initially, the higher inland will be the resultant surge. Increased energy in the wave increases both extremes, the recedence from the shore and the surge inland.
Cold winters in a warming climate are to be expected because increased troughs and peaks with increased total input are general phenomena of nonlinear dissipative systems. Most readers here already accept that AGW predicts more extreme floods and droughts, and the same may be true with respect to temperature as water: more extremes of hot and cold.
As I predicted a few weeks back, the weather here in Norway flipped from very cold to rain and well above 0C (32F) right at New Years. The long term forecast is back to rather cold again, though. Will be most interesting to see how it develops from around January 10th.
The mild weather coincides with a cold period in the Barents Sea (Bjørnøya at 75 degs latitude). They have been way warm until now, and are getting warm again when lower latitudes are scheduled to cool down again in 3-4 days. These temperatures (75 degs vs 60degs latitude in northern Europe) have been in opposite phases since December 09, so there is a definite oscillation going on. A quick look at the 8 day forecast for this remote island in the Barents sea, and I know the temperature forecast for the next 8 days in central Scandinavia. Pretty fun. What is not so fun is that the circulation patterns will cause public support for climate action to continue dropping, ironically while thousands of square kilometers of Arctic sea ice is melting in early January.
#470 Slioch I think you’re correct that the first order response of the atmosphere to a regional anomaly of warm water exposure would be to encourage low pressure in the area. However, the second-order effects invoked, an increase in convective and baroclinic friction, could be opposite, especially when other influences enter the balance. That’s why you need a coupled ocean-atmosphere model to begin to get a handle on it, and one model isn’t enough for a robust conclusion, as noted in the original discussion.
South of the blocking, there is a somewhat broken annulus of lowered heights at mid latitudes, bringing more storminess and cold air incursions further south that usual. The cold generally not that extreme by historical standards, since the arctic air it draws upon is not nearly as cold as it can get.
re #475 Thanks John. Yes, it seems I’m looking for a simple mechanism where none exists.
BTW Hansen, (posted 11th December and mainly referring to November in Europe) suggests it may be due to anomalous lack of ice cover over Hudson and Baffin Bays:
“Re: Inhofe/Theon and other fossilist conspirators…
When is somebody going to hack into THEIR email server and make their corespondence public? Is it only former KGB operatives capable of such an act? How bout some of the Wikileaks supporters?”
Forst of all, US denialists shamelessly quote Russian dubious Russian sources. It’s not a secret, so nobody writes about it. If it were a leaked “secret” that Inhofe, cuccinelli and others quote dubious sources, it would be a scandal.
john byatt #481: the floods in Queensland are pretty bad but fortunately only hitting low population areas, so the number of people affected is in the thousands, not like in Pakistan where it was millions. Still, for people who’ve lost their homes and crops it’s pretty traumatic. Here in Brisbane, it’s just very wet, not a disaster.
While this may well all be within limits of natural variability (despite various records being set), you’d expect the hydrological cycle to intensify with warming, so this sort of flooding should become more commonplace. Has anyone done a study of changes in incidence of floods and droughts related to climate change?
Welcome back, my old friend, preview. Thanks, whoever got it working again.
On the owning page for the graphics you linked to it states:
CAUTION: Seasonal climate anomalies shown here are not the official NCEP seasonal forecast outlooks. The NCEP seasonal forecast outlooks can be found at CPC website. Model based seasonal climate anomalies are one factor based on which NCEP seasonal forecast outlook is issued.
@ John Byatt #481 – The Daily Fail didn’t say if Capricornia is a newly created State in Australia or if it’s another country altogether. Has anyone told Prime Minister Gillard or Premier Bligh that we’ve lost our north eastern corner?
Seems that the new year has brought rather warm temperatures to England as well. Temperatures up to 10C in the 8 day forecast for London, that is way above normal (normal is less than 6C). If the mild temps last, I’m confident that the British MSM and the mayor of London are going to start quizzing Piers Corbyn et al. why the lack of sunspots and position of celestial bodies no longer turn Britain into a freezer, as this was predicted by these prophets to be persistent all winter.
Looks like the MET office wasn’t that far off after all (although I would advise not to issue 3 month forecasts for the winter when the Arctic is in the current state of chaos). The Barents region is cold right now (-20C), but is forecast to warm drastically towards the end of the 8 day period with temps close to 0C, so that might mean that Arctic air will dump into Europe again pretty soon and could hit England and central Europe in about 2 weeks time.
The article does sum up long-term droughts fairly well. As you can see Phillip, recent droughts pale in comparison to the so-called mega-droughts experienced in previous centuries. Historically, it appears that recent precipitation is above average, but within natural variability. I have not seen a good documentation of recent flooding compared to historical accounts. Flooding can also be enhanced due to manmade changes in the landscape including, but not limited to, dams, dredging, drainage systems, and other developments which reduce the lands ability to absorb rainfall.
I don’t think that the issue is what sa-ice is doing now. It’s more what sea-ice was doing at the minima and the re-freeze season.
Deser 2007 “The Transient Atmospheric Circulation Response to North Atlantic SST and Sea Ice Anomalies.” Finds that in response to sea-ice anomalies:
Following the initial baroclinic stage of adjustment, the response becomes progressively more barotropic and increases in both spatial extent and magnitude. The equilibrium stage of adjustment is reached in 2–2.5 months, and is characterized by an equivalent barotropic structure that resembles the hemispheric NAO–NAM pattern, the model’s leading internal mode of circulation variability over the Northern Hemisphere. The maximum amplitude of the equilibrium response is approximately 2–3 times larger than that of the initial response. The equilibrium response is maintained primarily by nonlinear transient eddy fluxes of vorticity (and, to a lesser extent, heat), with diabatic heating making a limited contribution in the vicinity of the forcing.
They find the the initial localised baroclinic response “reaches maximum amplitude in 5–10 days, and persists for 2–3 weeks.” But the major response is the barotropic one which reaching equilibrium after 2-2.5 months is able to carry the impact of sea ice anomalies over into the winter period. This is also shown by Francis 2009 “Winter Northern Hemisphere weather patterns remember summer Arctic sea-ice extent.” In that case using NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data.
I am still trying to get to grips with the formation of the barotropic structure from the initial baroclinic. And the involvement of transient eddy fluxes in this.
Here are the NWS/NCEP T2m forecasts from NWS/NCEP made on Oct 13. It appears that the unusually cold N. European weather for December was indeed forecast.
The claim in the main thread that cold winters ought to be expected seems especially pertinent if this cold N. European winter was indeed forecast (NWS/NCEP call it a forecast). The British Met forecast a warm winter in October — did they simply ignore the NWS/NCEP?
#489 (Chris R): True about the AO, but the NAO (which seems at least as important as the AO this winter) is forecast to go more positive in the coming weeks. Will be interesting to see.
[Response: There is almost practical difference between the NAO and the AO in the Atlantic sector, so the forecast for one is as good as the forecast for the other. Not that this necessarily implies that the forecasts are particularly skillful. – gavin]
The Daily Fail didn’t say if Capricornia is a newly created State in Australia or if it’s another country altogether. Has anyone told Prime Minister Gillard or Premier Bligh that we’ve lost our north eastern corner?
I advise Governments and senior administrators in three countries on energy issues. How can I respond to their following persistent and increasing concerns?
1. Global warming in the 2000s is well below what was predicted by the climate modellers and the IPCC despite the fact the CO2 levels are pretty much where they were predicted to be. This is evident in all the measures that I can find. Why should these Governments continue to take taxpayers’ or customers’ money to invest in unreliable wind power etc. when the correlation is now longer there between temperature and CO2 in the evidence?
[Response: This question is based on a misconception. The trends in temperature are well within bounds of what was predicted. See this post from last year and imagine where the 2010 point comes in for the first figure. (We will update this in the near future). See also this post at Open Mind. – gavin]
2. How can these Governments justify the higher energy costs and lower security of supply of wind power and solar when they could instead increase their use of natural gas which has become more abundantly available and increasingly economic? They are now much more reluctant to consider non-fossil options.
[Response: This is not a climate science question. It is true that moving to natural gas from coal is undoubtedly beneicial in terms of CO2 emissions per unit of power generated. But in the long term, the only sustainable generation will be non-fossil. Security of supply can be enhanced by investments in smart grid technologies, extension of the grid to cover more regions, and better real-time forecasting of generation. The one missing issue in your question is that of efficiency – as Amory Lovin’s has often (and rightly) said, Nega-watts are much cheaper than Mega-watts. See also the McKenzie report. – gavin]
What evidence can you give me to help move their positions? The cost of energy and the seciurity of supply is more important to them – unless better evidence is available. Each country (in 3 different continents – none in Europe) has experienced colder than expected weather in the last 4 months – which does not help.
@487 Dan H
“other developments which reduce the lands ability to absorb rainfall.”
At least for Queensland, the “other developments” affecting the land’s ability to absorb rainfall amount simply to lots of previous rainfall saturating the ground leaving no capacity to absorb any further moisture.
Following on from that link, you can reach a very meaty synthesis study on what the authors call “WWS.” (Renewables, basically.) Based on past discussions here, many readers will be interested. The takeaway is that the authors expect 100% renewable electrical generation to be not only technically but economically feasible by 2020, with the main barriers to achieving this goal being social and political. (Though they certainly recognize the technical and economic challenges.)
Thankyou for taking the trouble to respond to my questions. You are very kind. Looking at this (noting 1980 baselines in the references and the implications of that given the statements of Professor Jones re 1995 onwards) it is evident that the Governments in question are justified in taking a more prudent approach by allocating fewer resources to global warming issues given that the numbers are coming in below the previous policy assumptions, albeit within your predicted range. When added to the lack of rising sea levels in two of the countries, they are understandably interested in bringing power to their populations first and foremost in order to enhance their economies and their social welfare. I will not therefore advise them to revert to their previous more aggressive policy objectives on CO2.
On the energy points perhaps you had best leave energy economics to me and I will leave climate science to you. I have yet to discover what problem smart grids are trying to solve, which customers want them, and how a cost benefit can be constructed for them that is not theoretical and academic. The more advanced power markets than those in North America have already achieved the extra gains from “negawatts” on top of the 1-2% per annum improvement in energy efficiency that has been going on since the 1940s at least. In addition negawatts are not too helpful for the many millions of people who still have inadequate power supplies. That is where natural gas has to come in as renewables – especially wind – are generally hopeless in terms of cost and reliability.
[Response: Since you clearly had already made up your mind before coming here, I have to wonder what the point of asking us anything was. Still, doesn’t mean you are correct. If you think that energy is used as efficiently as it can be in the US, you really need to look more closely. And similarly, if you think Phil Jones’ statement means that it’s not warming, you need to revisit you stats textbooks (look up signal vs noise). But thanks for stopping by. – gavin]
What part of “global warming will increase drought until we have at least one year where no country has a good harvest and we all die” do you not understand? My research, about to come out in J. Climate, estimates that will happen in 2052. Will your kids or grandkids still be alive then?
Colder than any year since, well, 2001! And the mean temperature was only +0.19 °C above the 1961 to 1990 average of 21.81 °C. We must be approaching that ice age :)
“It has now been a record nine years since Australia experienced a below-average year and the past ten years (2001 to 2010) were the warmest decade on record for Australia.” (From the temperature chart, it’s unlikely we’ll get a ‘below average’ year any time soon, unless they move the base line up.)
The decade has been the warmest on record. The temperature trend is up. The maps are worth looking at – wettest on record, driest on record, temperature trends.
Despite the La Nina, “Australia recorded its 8th warmest year on record for minimum temperatures (with an anomaly of +0.59 °C), while maximum temperatures were below normal with an anomaly of −0.21 °C. “
“…a more prudent approach by allocating fewer resources to global warming issues given that the numbers are coming in below the previous policy assumptions, albeit within your predicted range.” jheath — 4 Jan 2011 @ 4:20 PM
Your government clients who are changing their CLIMATE policies every time the WEATHER changes remind me of investors who sell every time their stock declines and buy every time the market goes up, and I expect they will be about as successful. How do you manage your portfolio – sell into a decline, and buy into a rise?
[Response: Yes. And also, which ‘numbers’ does he think are coming in below previous assumptions?–eric]
> drought study
Sure, and there are many others not in the peer reviewed journals.
Catton’s work goes back decades. He pointed out early on that a world of regions each unable to supply itself with _something_ essential works fine as long as transportation and the economy distribute everything to everyone — that’s how we’ve been able to build well into overshoot conditions. And when that fails, comes the crash.
But nothing kills everybody — history is written by the survivors blessing fair providence that eliminated the competition and left them a world to expand into. It’s all a matter of perspective. Connie Willis got it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Book_%28novel%29
Just sayin’, while you can go on for decades yet warning people they’re all gonna die — a few will survive and prove you wrong. From their perspective, it’ll be their world.
If jheath really were a government adviser, that would explain a lot. Something has to drive that sloth and incompetence. Now I’m starting to wonder if it’s true after all.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 4 Jan 2011 @ 10:34 PM
Thanks Eric, I’ve been wondering about where these numbers might be published.
I’m equally perplexed by the notion that European (I think that ws the implication about more sophisticated power systems) countries couldn’t do better in terms of efficiencies and reductions. Just because they’re now better than profligate USA, Canada, Australia type countries, does not mean they’ve exhausted the opportunities for further significant reductions.
Pangnirtung is a large Arctic community on East Baffin Island, Further to its East across Baffin Bay: Greenland. It was +34 degrees above its mean temperature earlier today in Rain, +8 C . Imagine London or NY +34 C above and see if it would make some MSM news noise.
“I don’t think that the issue is what sa -ice is doing at minima. It’s more what sea-ice was doing at the minima and the re-freeze season.”
Absolutely so, but this statement the effects of more energetic Arctic weather spawned
by thinner or no sea ice is still not widely understood..
506, Barton Paul Levenson: What part of “global warming will increase drought until we have at least one year where no country has a good harvest and we all die” do you not understand? My research, about to come out in J. Climate, estimates that will happen in 2052.
That is certainly a clear and testable prediction. Surely there’s a confidence interval on that estimate?
jheath, Dai’s review of drought shows that many areas, including parts of the US, will experience moderate to severe drought in the next 50 years, and that will only get worse. So far as I am aware, BPL’s research only confirms this.
If, as you claim, you advise governments, then it is absolutely critical that you don’t make blanket statements. Climate change is affecting different regions in different ways. It is a global problem, but apart from the simple necessity to reduce global emissions, solutions to climate change are going to be regional. Someone recommended nuclear power, for example. And, in general, that’s a good idea. But nuclear power isn’t needed in some countries, and is unsuitable for others. Some countries, meanwhile, cannot practically achieve 100% renewable energy without it.
Sea level rise is a problem for the future. A real problem, but one that can be tackled now by changing planning laws and regulations. For some countries, it is no issue at all. For others, it is going to have serious implications. Don’t be fooled by the current sea level rise. Be aware that sea level is the problem that will come latest, and last longest.
You are also aware, I trust, that the IPCC has already underestimated some of the effects of climate change?
You are also aware that governments have never fully funded climate change action. They haven’t even put up a tiny fraction of the expected costs. So, if you want to reduce your personal estimates of the final bill by, say, 50% (unjustified, but whatever) then you still need to recommend that governments increase their spending and do a lot more to tackle climate change.
Please stop pushing a one-size solution, and give a complicated subject the time it deserves.
[edit – We’ve made it plain that calling other commenters names is not acceptable. You’ve made your feelings abundantly clear, there is no need to repeat yourself over and again. I suggest that the whole topic be dropped until the actual paper is available. ]
I am a non scientist, non climatologist, non meteorologist, non mathematician – but I have been following the AGW debate with more than average interest. I am, by instinct, anti-establishment and
I live in Oxfordshire in England and I have just been made aware of the CET graph on the Met Office site in the UK which, I understand has been running since the late 1600s.
As I understand it, this data is accepted as being beyond reproach by all and is accepted as being a true and fair representation of events over the last 300 years or so.
Having looked at the graph and applied my admittedly limited skills I conclude that nothing extraordinary or exceptional is happening – other than a long term, gradual and limited amount of overall “warming”. Any attempt, by eye (I don’t have the ability to download the data and create a mathematical straight line), to apply a straight line trend line over the period would, in my view, reveal nothing – other than this long term trend.
Of course, England is not the whole of Europe, Europe is not the whole of the Northern Hemisphere and certainly not the whole of the planet. However, it is at least one record that has been kept consistently, over a long period, by a reputable organisation, and can be relied upon to at least give an accurate picture for England (unless someone can tell me otherwise?).
I would observe that there were increases in the 10 year trend from about 1985 to 2000. This increase is similar in increase and length to the periods starting in 1810, 1835 and 1890. I would also observe that the trend has been down since it peaked in about 2002/3.
Currently, the 10 year average is roughly the same as was the case in about 1945 and 1988 – and is about 0.5 degree higher than in 1830, 1870 and 1900.
All this suggests that England has experienced nothing other than about 1.0 degree of warming, spread out, over the course of 300 years.
The rising temperature line from about 1985 to 2000 seems to have been the main catalyst for concern but the line has turned down since then and, on the whole, everything appears “normal”.
With all of the above and 10 year average temperature trend being now roughly the same as it was back in 1945, based upon this graph, one cannot conclude that there is any evidence of AGW affecting England. Yes, there has been long term, gradual and marginal warming but nothing exceptional or extraordinary.
The main issue for me is whilst all of this normal, gradual warming has continued (until the last 10 years or so) the press and media has “front-paged” every exceptional weather event in the UK as further evidence of AGW. Hot summers, mild winters, periods of little rain, periods of heavy rain, no snow, lots of snow, etc are splashed across the news as “evidence” of AGW.
However, the CET graph shows us that the sum of all this is – “normality”. It shows, on average, that little, or nothing, has happened to English temperatures over the course of 300 years or so (other than the long term warming trend – which may, or may not, have ceased for the time being).
Can we agree that AGW appears not to be affecting the climate in England?
Some have recently questioned jheath’s statement that “numbers are coming in below previous policy assumptions.” Check the CRU values. http://www.climate4you.com/
According to the global temperature plot, the 10-year average reached its highest point in July, 2007, and has decreased since. Since 2000, the temperature record has been essentially flat, with the overal trend not significantly different from zero (the actual trendline is slightly negative). This is the statement that Phil Jones made, and that jheath is apparently reiterating. Some people apparently which to deny that this trend has occurred recently, but the lack of warming has become a real sticky point throughout the climate community. Yes, this is all within the predicted range, but it contradicts those who think that the IPCC underestimated the effects.
Those who are lambasting jheath for his decision must remember that economic security comes before environmentalism. Only after countries achieved significant wealth, were they able to clean up their surroundings (much of which helped generate the wealth). Increased prosperity will lead to improved environmental policies. No elected government official (who wishes to remain so) will put the needs of the environment above the needs of the people. Whether you agree or not, this is the case.
[Response: Oh please. The idea that the environment is somehow something that is independent of people is just bogus. Ask people in china whether they are separate from the dirty air they are forced to breathe. Or people in Bangladesh whether they are separate from the arsenic in their groundwater, or the Inuit whether they are separate from the sea ice on which their culture depends. And someone in the Netherlands if they are independent of the dyke system, or Arizonans if they can live without the Colorado. Your list of arguments would make a Greek rhetorician proud, but they are nothing but sophistry. -gavin]
Yeah, yeah, Hank, cute. End of the world. Impossible, right?
The planet will still be here.
Life will still be here.
Very likely some humans will survive.
Human civilization WILL NOT.
We are DESTROYING THE ECOSYSTEM WE NEED TO SURVIVE. My paper covers ONE of the big problems, the one I think will be most immediate. In addition to the growing drought, the following facts may interest you:
* Phytoplankton, the base of the ocean food chain, is down 40% since 1950.
* 90% of the big game fish are gone. Expect the price of tuna to go up. Remember you heard it here first.
* We are already in the middle of the sixth great mass extinction on Earth. Last year it was Brazil’s golden frog. But frogs are in trouble all over the world. Canary in the coal mine.
* If polar cap melting turns out to be non-linear, we could lose trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure in this century, and create several hundred million climate refugees nobody will want to help. Consider how the US feels about Mexicans. Or India about Pakistanis.
* One billion people depend on glaciers for fresh water. Glaciers, you may have heard, are receding. India and Pakistan, both armed to the teeth including nukes, have ALREADY exchanged fire and had troops killed over who owns a glacier. Nuclear armed China also wants the Siachen glacier region. Think those three parties will sit down and negotiate reasonably about it?
Open your eyes. We get off fossil fuels as fast as humanly possible–say in the next five to ten years–or human civilization WILL END IN THIS CENTURY. I have no doubts about it. Call me a fanatic if it makes you feel better.
Could I be wrong? Of course I could. So could you. For which wrong guess are the consequences greater?
HR 513: Why dire climate warnings boost skepticism
BPL: Do you want us to lie? Hello? The truth is, the situation IS dire. Even if you don’t walk out of your house today and see earthquakes and fire, the simple fact is that we’re killing our life-support system, fast. If “dire warnings” are out, what do you recommend? Tepid warnings? Compromise? Give and take on both sides?
Looking at the rising CO2 ppm there is no contest that the atmosphere is trapping more energy every year.
The extreme weather events are primarily atmospheric energy events though there are significant exchanges of energy between the sea/land and the atmosphere.
All major weather events including heavy rain, extreme hot dry spells, extreme cold snaps are a result of application of large amounts of energy in some parts of the atmosphere and exchange of energy between the regions of atmosphere and also associated earth and water surface.
If we consider the weather to be something analogous to a pendulum where the amplitude of the oscillation is increased if we apply small amounts of external energy in each cycle. Then it is not hard to explain the increasing frequency and intensity of weather events. Imagine every year small amounts of additional energy is being applied, over what was applied in the previous year, from the trapped solar radiation in that year.
If we look at the extreme weather in 2010 we can recollect unprecedented heavy floods, more and stronger storms, fires caused by dry hot spells, and more recently extreme cold spell in Europe and North America.
[Response: While this might all seem very logical, there is no empirical evidence, nor theoretical basis, that supports this notion that all extremes have to increase with global temperature. Some extremes are predicted to increase (heat wave, droughts, precip intensity), some are predicted to decrease (extreme cold air outbreaks), and for many there is either no evidence or conflicting evidence for change in any direction (ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.). We would all do well to bear this in mind when discussing ‘extremes’. – gavin]
Instead of looking for a trend of heating or cooling measuring the frequency and intensity of climate events is perhaps a better measure. In the long run though, it is logical to expect the global long term moving average of the surface temperatures to rise associated with the increase in atmospheric energy entrapment by rising GHG levels. This expected trend of temperature rise too appears to be happening.
Given all this perhaps the data from a single location i.e. England over last 300 years seems to be less than sufficient to explain the whole global weather phenomenon in the climate change era.
[Response: This is clearly true. – gavin]
Comment by Saugato Mukerji UOW — 5 Jan 2011 @ 9:02 AM
I certainly agree with you. That graph is the longest running temperature profile available, and has shown a slight long-term temperature rise, but nothing extraordinary in recent years. The general shape of the graph is mimicked in other records, with general warming during the 1990s, 1930s, 1880s, etc., but with different amplitudes. While England certainly does not represent the entire world, the trends observed there are similar to what is happening worldwide.
Yes, reports that recent weather events are examples of AGW are bordering on the ridiculous. It seems that we have a running joke of “blame it on global warming.” I believe Rowlings even used to explain some of the events in her books.
I do not believe that England is unique in this aspect. Temperatures in the U.S. have been fairly average over the last few years, and although there exists a slight long-term increase, the trends over last 120 years or so match up quite well with England.
[Response: The local variability will also be larger than the trends on short term scales – this is hardly news. Neither are people pretending that winter suddenly means that the globe is not warming. I have gotten used to increases in media attention to climate whenever the weather does something weird and our answers have not changed regardless of whether it’s a ‘warm’ bit of weirdness, or a ‘cool’ bit of weirdness, or whether it’s just weird: attribution is hard, and people claiming that individual events in themselves are either confirming or denying larger scale changes are going way out on a limb. Post hoc justifications for current weather made by trawling through the literature for papers finding small tendencies in one direction or another are almost pointless, and almost always confusing to the general public. But be very clear that there is a huge gulf between what the media says or how it spins such stories and what ‘scientists say’. – gavin]
I am not making arguments – I am commenting on “facts”. The graph is used to make the case for AGW and the Met Offices comments on the same page pick out landmark moments as evidence. For instance “2006 was the warmest year on record for min HadCET and mean HadCET”.
Each point on the graph is a “fact”. The trend line is a “fact”. Trend lines show trends – “Fact”.
Are you saying that I should ignore all of the facts and lsiten to rhetoric instead?
Given all this perhaps the data from a single location i.e. England over last 300 years seems to be less than sufficient to explain the whole global weather phenomenon in the climate change era.
[Response: This is clearly true. – gavin]
And equally true of the latest squib from Easterbrook, which implicitly conflates records from a couple of different sources (US GISS data, Greenland ice core data) with GMT. It seems to be making the rounds at the moment, courtesy of (you guessed it) WUWT.
Dave Walker, (524, 525, 531) I think that the graph you point to utterly fails to support your comments in #524. There is no period of elevated temperatures comparable to that for the last three decades or so. And there is little evidence of a warming trend prior to 1880 or so, whereas warming has clearly dominated since (though there are several brief coolings, to be sure.) Is there a reason to think that the current cooling will be any more durable than previous such? I don’t see such a reason.
On the other hand, the longer-term warming is likely to do so, for two reasons:
1) Statistically, it is much more likely to be the result of ‘signal’ rather than ‘noise,’ simply by virtue of its length;
2) In terms of causation, it is the expected result of a physical mechanism (climate change driven by greenhouse radiative forcing) for which a great deal of independent evidence exists.
This much I can say, based upon eyeballing the graph. But it would help you, I think, to learn a bit more about the more formal statistical methods by which such questions are properly assessed. For that, I know of no better online resource than the “Open Mind” blog. It’s here:
If you do, you’ll find out that in the context of climate change most short-term trends, such as 10-year ones, fail to reach “statistical significance,” which essentially means that they are probably just due to random variation and have no longer-term significance whatever. That’s why Professor Jones, whom you quote, is not worrying unduly about the “lack of warming” during the 2000s. (Actually, global measures, unlike CET, do show warming during this span, but not at statistically significant levels.)
He may, however–as the victim of some outrageous quote-mining based upon a certain leading question put to him in a BBC interview–worry about misinterpretations of this observation by those whose understanding of statistics is not very strong. There is no shortage of the latter, many of whom exhibit certitude inversely related to that understanding.
BPL said “My paper covers ONE of the big problems”
This doesn’t make his paper less valuable. But it does limit the scope of what he can conclude from it.
Yet his conclusions have nothing to do with that problem, and ignore all the other factors, pro and con.
Interestingly, William M. Connolley has criticised Dai’s 2010 review quite strongly. Nothing that casts much doubt on the results, but he highlights the uncertainty that somehow doesn’t quite make it into some of the headline figures – such as the low agreement on even the sign of the change in modelled precipitation, runoff, etc from model to model.
Now, I quite like Dai’s paper. What I understand of it, anyway. But William’s point is a good one; it is easy to read too much into some of the maps, and it is utterly insane to give much weight to a single model. If other models give wildly different results, then claiming that the results from just one model are absolutely certain makes no sense at all.
I admit, I had assumed there was higher agreement among models. And there is high agreement if you confine yourself to statements about what sort of changes will happen, and don’t get too detailed about regional change or too hung up on magnitude.
I was going to save all this for when BPL’s paper eventually appears, but it seems he’s using his unpublished results as sole support for his claims for the uncounted time. I’m rather tempted to recommend PZ Myers’ Pascal’s Wager, but I’m afraid it will distract from serious matters – such as saving future generations.
1. You wrote “I think that the graph you point to utterly fails to support your comments in #524. There is no period of elevated temperatures comparable to that for the last three decades or so. And there is little evidence of a warming trend prior to 1880 or so, whereas warming has clearly dominated since (though there are several brief coolings, to be sure.) Is there a reason to think that the current cooling will be any more durable than previous such? I don’t see such a reason”.
– My comments were meant to be factual and non argumentitive!
The graph shows a long term, gradual increase including peaks and troughs along the way – Yes? No?
The graph shows periods of relatively “rapid” increases at various times along the way. Yes? No?
If the trend, over a long period is that of gradual warming then, of course, and given no other information, it is a statement of the obvious, that the more recent figures will be, on the whole, higher than those of 300 years ago – and all stops in between. Yes? No?
“Will the recent cooling be any more durable than previous such?”
Based upon the long term trend, one would expect the trend line to turn up again at some point – unless something has happened such that the warming cycle has ended and the trend is now for “cooler” times – and neither I, nor anyone else can pretend to “know” that – only time will tell.
With respect to your comments about me alledgedly quoting Prefessor Jones – I think you are confusing me with someone else.
2 With respect to Gavin’s comment “[Response: Why would you draw conclusions from a single graph when there millions of other bits of context available? This strikes me as a particularly silly line of questioning. – gavin]
Gavin, the issue is about warming – which is about temperatures. The graph is about temperatures. The conclusion I drew was about temperatures – based upon the facts shown in the graph.
I live in England, the graph is about my country. I trust the graph (given the source) to provide acurate data. I apply my limited intelligence to the graph and drew conclusions about what has happened to temperatures in my country over the last 300 years.
Where did I go wrong?
The graph appears to show a long term, gradual warming with peaks and troughs along the way. If this is correct then the graph suggests that England is not suffering any exceptional or worrisome phenomena – only a long term trend of warming.
This doesn’t mean that other places aren’t being challenged by exceptional warming – it just means England isn’t. Doesn’t it?
[Response: You are putting too much onto a single graph. This current decade is exceptional – even in the UK, as it is globally. Whether the that is “challenging” the UK certainly can’t be seen in that graph – it would need to be assessed locally using all sorts of information about agriculture, coastal erosion, water resources, building codes, infrastructure etc. Whether this is “worrisome” is also not determinable from the graph alone – indeed if the only thing we had was temperature measurements, I doubt too many people would be worried. But the fact is that we have a pretty good idea (excellent in fact) of why temperatures change, and in particular why they are trending up over the last few decades. And given that understanding, and the accelerating nature of those drivers – principally CO2 emissions – people have concluded that there is a very strong risk of very large temperature and other climate changes in the future. That is what is “worrisome” – not how warm it was in Central England in March 1948. – gavin]
Dave Walker said: “The graph shows a long term, gradual increase including peaks and troughs along the way – Yes? No?”
Don’t believe me?
Try fitting a line to the period 1780 to 1880. Do the same for 1910 to 2010. You will find that the two periods have very different trends. There is virtually no trend in the earlier period. There is a strong warming trend in the later period.
This is exactly what you would expect if global warming is reality.
You would also expect the variability (the peaks and troughs, and the spiky outliers) to be much greater than the global temperature record. This is, after all, only a tiny, almost negligible part of the globe. And what do we see? Lots of ups and downs, it almost looks like a rollercoaster. The peaks and troughs don’t affect the long term trends, nor does the current trough mean anything more than any other trough.
#538–Evidently, I was insufficiently clear. Let me take as point of departure this bit:
The graph appears to show a long term, gradual warming with peaks and troughs along the way. If this is correct then the graph suggests that England is not suffering any exceptional or worrisome phenomena – only a long term trend of warming.
Yes, the graph shows “a long term, gradual warming with peaks and troughs along the way.” However, I don’t think it’s as long as you are thinking.
You’d characterized it as a 300-year trend, but my “Eyeball Mark I” analysis suggests a 120-year trend, with a particularly abrupt rise from ca. 1980. I also note very dramatically elevated temperatures–.5 C being pretty dramatic in this context–in the last decade. That last I would indeed characterize as “exceptional,” and given the larger context–what we know about GHG emissions, their effects on climate, and the probable results of said effects–I personally think it justifies worry quite well.
Another .5 C in 30 years–the naive linear extrapolation–might not seem that significant at first blush, but such a shift can have very marked effects on the frequency of highly temperature-dependent events–such as, to offer a few quasi-random examples, health-threatening heatwaves, freeze days or the low-temperature days and nights necessary to set fruit for some commercial tree crops. And of course, there’d still be lots more warming after that, if nothing were done.
Of course, I’m basically just quickly restating what Gavin already said in more detail in his response, but put me down as seconding the motion, so to speak.
I started my involvement in this thread by “declaring” an instinctive anti-establishment, increasingly curmudgeonly, approach to life and the universe – and I guess that’s what drives me.
I accept that you differentiated yourself from the “establishment” by stating your concerns about the links that are often assumed between any weird weather event and AGW.
The problem is that the establishment trots out his stuff all of the time. Whether it is flood or drought, heat or cold, it is stated that it is AGW that it is the cause.
I instinctively react to such stuff and nonsense!
[Response: This has nothing to do with the ‘establishment’ and every thing to do with how the media deals with complex issues. You are directing your ire towards completely the wrong target. The science ‘establishment’ is extremely conservative (small c) and does not collectively give misleading quotes to reporters, write op-eds touting their (proprietary) new forecasting system, make up headlines that scream ‘scientists say’ when in reality no scientist has ever said that. What you see is because the media loves sensation, conflict and man bites dog narratives far more than they love objective truth. No story is too complex to be reduced to a misleading headline in the Daily Mail. – gavin]
The graph shows, as far as England is concerned, that there has been little change over a very long period. And yet, if you were an alien landed from Mars and read the newspapers or listened to the TV and radio news, you would believe that England has been, and is still, suffering huge climate change that is affecting our lives on a daily basis.
[Response: A wise man once said ‘never believe anything you read in a newspaper’ – and that goes double for the UK press (with a couple of small exceptions). – gavin]
When some idiot talks about exceptional flooding – they invariably mention AGW. When we have, in English terms, a relative drought (i.e. some areas of the country may be banned from using hose pipes to water their gardens)- its AGW – not a drier spell that is a result of normal weather variations!
We will be fed pictures of a dried up stream – but no pictures 2 weeks later when everything is back to normal. I am shown pictures of flowers blooming exceptionally early in one spring (its AGW don’t you know) – the next year, spring arrives 3 weeks later and – nothing!
[Response: Again – you are viewing science through the prism of the media. It is the lens that is distorted, not the science. – gavin]
It is a constant stream of nonsense propoganda based upon no facts (as far as English weather is concerned) whatsoever.
I therefore “know” that the poiticians and the MSM are either part of an “intellectual conspiracy” – or they are stupid – or they are just folowing like sheep. They may be be well meaning or maybe they are just afraid to look at data themselves and draw their own conclusions in case they suffer career wise for not swallowing the party line.
[Response: This is less likely – most governments have big research staff and spend a lot of time digging into the details outside of the what is in the media. Governments across the world have all looked into the science of climate change and decided that this is a threat worth hedging against. This has very little to do with media reporting, and much more to do with the scientific consensus on the subject (as summarised by IPCC, Royal Society, National Academies etc.). – gavin]
I liken the situation to WMDs in Iraq. Many “curmudgeons” like me doubted the whole proposition. Bush and Blair, FBI, CIA, MI5, MI6 – all trotting out an establishment “line” when, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight we now know that all of the “expert” consensus was totally and utterly wrong!
[Response: But there never was an ‘expert’ consensus – there was instead politicians determined on a course of action from the beginning and pulling in cherry picked and misleading ‘expertise’ to bolster their predetermined plan. This is nothing like the climate change situation at all – politicians have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into even acknowledging this is a problem. – gavin]
I’m starting to rant now and that is not fair to you and achieves no purpose – but I am sure you get my drift.
Thank you for allowing me on the site and for the time you gave me in your replies.
>> HR 513: Why dire climate warnings boost skepticism
> BPL: Do you want us to lie?
I want you to speak to people’s belief that the world can be fair and find allies among the people working to improve this who are smart enough to be doing it right.
From the sidebar: http://www.ecoequity.org/
From the eco-equity page: http://gdrights.org/
where they say: “… despite an increasingly widespread sense that climate catastrophe can no longer be averted … radical action, on the necessary scale, is still a very much within the realm of possibility. (more…)
Those who know the science are aware of the point you’re trying to make. Those working in the policy area who know where we’re headed are working on it, some of them in ways that may help.
Your task is to accept that you’ve added one more tiny bit of documentation to an overwhelming mass of documentation, not discovered something unknown.
Then notice who’s working on it.
Here’s what to avoid — pushing the wrong way. Trying to scare people isn’t effective. It makes people dig in and deny the fear. Know evolutionary biology? It’s deeply engrained, it used to work. It continues to happen.
Urging fear is like urging Irish Elk to grow bigger antlers, not useful.
You know this stuff. But right now you’ve got your name on something coming out in a journal and you’re proud of it. But — you need to think about what leverage you have and which direction to push.
“…. ‘People know intuitively where leverage points are. Time after time I’ve done an analysis of a company, and I’ve figured out a leverage point. Then I’ve gone to the company and discovered that everyone is pushing it in the wrong direction!’
“… complex systems are, well, complex…. leverage points are not intuitive.”
You’ve discovered what most people who know where we’re headed already know, you may have a more precise detail about when we’ll get where we’re headed and precisely how, but — aside from your pride in accomplishment — it doesn’t matter that much how precise your answer is because what’s needed doesn’t change — all the people aware of limits and overshoot understand.
While England certainly does not represent the entire world
Being a small island with a maritime climate, it is utterly unrepresentative of the rest of the (terrestrial) world.
However, as others point out, warming is being observed in England. Also England researchers have been world leaders in gathering and evaluating phenomenological changes. English gardeners, birders, game wardens, etc have been keeping records of things like first arrivals of migratory species, first blooming times, etc for a long time, in some cases with a kind of fanatical obsession. Records at some locals go back well over a century. and what does this observational data show? Spring’s about a month earlier than in the Victorian area.
I have just posted a reply to Gavin’s comments as a “sign off” – however – I will reply to your two comments before I go.
Answer 1. I would expect to see lots of ups and downs on an annual basis with a horizontal trend lineline.
Answer 2. I believe the graph does show English warming.
3. Based upon Answer 2, I would expect the rest of the globe to be warming similarly I guess.
The evidence of warming seems to be pretty clear. The issue is surely how much, if any, is due to man? And whether there is a damn thing we can do about it. Are we being brillantly clever in working out ways in which we can control the cliamte of a planet – or are we being Canutes (apologies for this reference if the King Canute fable is not part of USA educatinal culture.
Sir – you cannot just pick and choose start and end points at random to suit an argument. We have a graph, with a 10 year trend on it – so that it what I am commenting upon. If we start picking and choosing then what is to stop me focusing on the last 10 years, or just the period since 1830 (i.e. less than 0.5 degree in nearly 200 years).
Of course, short term trends are meaningless – unless, it appears, we are talking about the period from 1985 through to 2000 when I am expected to believe that the rise is due to AGW obviously.
Let me ask you a question. If we were able to go forward 25 years and then look back at the last 25 years temperatures, what would the graph need to have done before you might accept that there may be an issue with the AGW theory?
If the line carried on down for say 5 years and then flatlined at the zero anomoly – would that change your view?
If the line flat lined for 5 years and then rose gently for the remainder – would that change anything?
If the trend flatlined for the whole 25 years would that change your view?
Do you know how many years (annual data points) you need to determine whether there is a trend, for that particular data set? Do you know how to find out?
The answer depends on how variable the data is. There’s no simple global answer and you can’t tell by looking at a picture. What source are you relying on to decide whether a trend can be discerned in the data?
Dave Walker: You are quite right: cherry picking is bad. For example, you seem to be giving far too much weight to the last little dip in the graph. Most smoothing algorithms won’t even give values that close to the end of the data!
But I didn’t cherry-pick. I chose the first century and last century of the graph you presented. As you say, short trends are meaningless. For global climate, 30 years is enough to establish a climate trend. For such noisy data as the HadCET annual record, a longer period is safer. I chose a century. The exact period isn’t important. You will get the same basic result if you pick 50 years or 150 years, or move the interval a small amount either way. The idea is to judge whether the trend in the early part of the graph is the same as the trend in the latest part. Clearly it is not. (It is possible to rigorously show what period best shows the trend and distinguishes it from the noise. That’s beyond the scope of this little comment, though.)
You ask me some questions about what will change my views. Well, firstly nothing in the HadCET record is ever going to do that, since we have far better, global records. England alone is susceptible to changes in the position of the jetstream, and other regional climate changes. Despite this, I do expect England to continue warming. Small troughs in the next 25 years are inevitable. 5 consecutive years below the baseline is very, very unlikely. 25 years below the baseline would need an explanation we do not currently have.
Note that this explanation isn’t going to affect global warming theory, because it has nothing to do with the globe. If we saw the same pattern in the global record, of course….
2010 is an outlier given the warming trend. The possibility of 2011 being lower than 2010 is again, very, very small. It is extremely likely that the mean of the next decade will be significantly higher than the mean of the previous decade.
The problem with what you say is that in 5 years time, you can say “but what about the next 5 years?” and repeat every 5 years after that. At what point do you concede that the warming is going to continue?
Please remember that while local temperatures are the only important factor for some aspects of climate change, for others such as sea level rise, global temperature is going to be decisive.
I tend to agree with Kevin that the graph shows a 120-yr increase, although I would not say that the rise from 1980-200 was any greater than some of the others. The increase appears to be ~0.6C/century over that time frame.
Will the recent cooling be any more durable than previous? Hard to tell. The previous cooling trends appeared to each last roughly 20 years; 1865-1885 and 1945-1965 (eyeballing). Based on past history, you have another decade or so before the warming resumes.
I forgot to add that, as the US, EU, BRIC nations and everyone else changes their energy industries, you’ll be able to update the model runs and tell us whether the model says we are getting better or worse.
HR 542: I want you to speak to people’s belief that the world can be fair
BPL: Do you really believe the world is fair? Do you want to encourage a belief in fairy tales? The world is not fair, HR. The world is manifestly unfair. The Holocaust was not fair, nor the eruption of Pompeii, nor the GULAG.
[Response: I think the main point is not that the world is unfair (which it clearly is), but rather you are trying to hook into people’s aspirations that the world can become a little fairer – gavin]
Dave Walker — Tamino, oveer on http://tamino.wordpress.com/
did a correct statistical analysis of CET [He is a profeessional satistician.] All his old pages have been saved somewhere on Skeptical Science.
Gavin replied to BPL: “… hook into people’s aspirations that the world can become a little fairer …”
Well, the problem is that not everyone aspires to a fairer world. In particular, some people aspire to a world in which fossil fuel corporations continue to rake in one billion dollars per day in profit through business-as-usual consumption of their products for decades to come, massively enriching a tiny, already ultra-rich minority at the cost of unimaginable, monstrous suffering and death for billions of people.
But certainly, for those who DO aspire to a fairer world, the rapid and widespread proliferation of the very same renewable energy technologies that are needed to reduce GHG emissions (particularly low-cost small-scale off-grid PV) will also make electricity — and with it access to modern technologies including telecommunications — available to billions of people in the developing world who currently lack it and have no other prospect of getting it, thereby dramatically transforming their lives for the better.
Dan H.@525, Oh ferchrissake! Are you just going to go from one metric to the next until you find some number you can cling to as a straw. Do you have any idea how pathetic that is? You aren’t even worth the bother.
Dave Walker says, “I started my involvement in this thread by “declaring” an instinctive anti-establishment, increasingly curmudgeonly, approach to life and the universe – and I guess that’s what drives me.”
Try caring about the truth before you take up nihilism.
David Walker – I actually LOOKED at the graph you referenced and it clearly shows that the past two decades are significanlty warmer than at any other time in the past 300 years. Furthermore, the graph clearly shows that temps in England were markedly warmer in the 1940s than in the 1930s, which is quite the opposite of what occured in the continental USA.
544, Dave Walker: If the trend flatlined for the whole 25 years would that change your view?
Obviously (?!) the models that in 2005 – 2010 made the most accurate prediction for 2025, as judged in 2025, will gain the most credibility, and the models that made the worst predictions will lose credibility. There are in fact disparate predictions. We can’t exactly bate our breaths in the meantime. I recommend grinding our teeth and making reasonable preparations for all outcomes in the meantime, including the transformations of the energy industries highlighted by SecularAnimist, me, and others.
Perhaps unintentionally, your wording suggests that you already believe you know what the next 15 years will look like.
“But the fact is that we have a pretty good idea (excellent in fact) of why temperatures change, and in particular why they are trending up over the last few decades. And given that understanding, and the accelerating nature of those drivers – principally CO2 emissions – people have concluded that there is a very strong risk of very large temperature and other climate changes in the future. That is what is “worrisome” – not how warm it was in Central England in March 1948. – gavin”
Gavin : since you point out that the danger is in the acceleration, is there any sign of acceleration in the trend since 1990, and if yes, where ? Note that the radiative forcing has almost doubled since 1970 ! a basic test of the causality is that the response should clearly vary with the intensity of the excitation. Is it proven beyond any doubt ?
That’s the point Ray. I do care about the truth. As I have mentioned in previous comments, the establishment, the consensus, call it what you will, has, on a number of notable occasions in the recent past, let us down badly.
This results in increased cynacism and a jaundiced view of those proporting to tell us the truth. Please do not interpret this as me suggesting that the regular contributors to this site are in some way knowingly contributing to some global conspiracy. I believe you believe.
I cant’t argue the science with you because I don’t have the knowledge, qualificatons and skills. However, that doesn’t stop me reading and drawing conclusions. Just like we do in other walks of life. I have disagreed with doctors and been right, lawyers and been right and football referees and been right! (I have also been wrong on a just a couple of occasions!).
The CET graph offers laymen a relatively simple and uncomplicated representation of one set of information. I judge that the graph illustrates something entirely different to that which I am battered with on a daily basis by my politicians, the MSM and “the consensus” in the UK.
The “trendy” stance is to accept that the English climate has changed beyond recognition in recent times. Every period of low rain fall, every hot day, every storm, flood or wierd weather event is discussed as further evidence of AGW.
You and I know that is not the case – so why is it happening? Why are politicians (whom, I assume have advisors on these matters) dropping in comments everywhere relating every wierd weather event to AGW? Why are intelligent journalists and editors of national newspapers allowing these ridiculous links to be published and promoted without the normal jounalistic cynacism and questioning.
We had ministers of state commenting on flooding in one of England’s northern counties earlier this year and pronouncing with 100% certainty that the flooding was evidence of AGW. At the same time, and without any sense of irony, they related the then, current, flood levels to previous record flood levels 100s of years ago.
More topically, on the news last night was a report on the exceptional flooding in Queensland, Australia. The voice over related the floding to AGW – whilst showing pictures of a post in the ground, but inundated, that indicated the higher flood levels achieved in a couple of previous events 60 and 100 (I think) years ago.
Maybe it is my nature for me to want everything to be OK. Maybe my increasing anti-establishment stance is skewing my ability to accept information – on an almost irrational basis.
However,we often hear the term “healthy cynacism” and that is what, I think and hope, I am demonstrating.
Please try to actually read what I write. I’m sick to death of you misreading what I say. Dai used 22 models, and it is because these models disagree in so many respects that I can say with confidence that “it is utterly insane to give much weight to a single model”.
Would you rely on one model when another model shows not just a slightly different result, but the opposite result? For me, that would cause me to interpret the results very cautiously.
It’s what is generally called a “sanity check”. Try it.
“That’s the point Ray. I do care about the truth. As I have mentioned in previous comments, the establishment, the consensus, call it what you will, has, on a number of notable occasions in the recent past, let us down badly.”
How many of your “letdowns” involved the work of thousands of serious scientists in hundreds of fields compiled over dozens of years? “Apple, meet Orange.”
“This results in increased cynacism and a jaundiced view of those proporting to tell us the truth.”
You could be correct about that, only not in the way you present it–things could be much more dire than your favored information feed suggests.
“I cant’t argue the science with you because I don’t have the knowledge, qualificatons and skills. However, that doesn’t stop me reading and drawing conclusions. Just like we do in other walks of life. I have disagreed with doctors and been right, lawyers and been right and football referees and been right! (I have also been wrong on a just a couple of occasions!).”
None of those is a scientific discipline, of which you admittedly are unqualified or unwilling to assess.
“The “trendy” stance is to accept that the English climate has changed beyond recognition in recent times. Every period of low rain fall, every hot day, every storm, flood or wierd weather event is discussed as further evidence of AGW.
You and I know that is not the case….”
We do not know anything of the sort. We may not be able to say with certainty that an individual extreme weather event is related to AGW, but we certainly cannot rule it out. That actually is an important distinction.
“More topically, on the news last night was a report on the exceptional flooding in Queensland, Australia. The voice over related the floding to AGW – whilst showing pictures of a post in the ground, but inundated, that indicated the higher flood levels achieved in a couple of previous events 60 and 100 (I think) years ago.”
You’re pinning your belief on one data point? Demonstrate similar measurements scattered uniformly throughout the ‘Germany plus France-sized area’ of the flood, plus the length of time of respective flood coverages, and then we’ll talk.
“Maybe it is my nature for me to want everything to be OK. Maybe my increasing anti-establishment stance is skewing my ability to accept information – on an almost irrational basis.”
Well, we can agree on that one, but criticizing things you don’t know about seems to be a modern human trait. I think you have the “establishment” thing backwards, though, and that your view actually is the “establishment” view. The “establishment” view includes a firm policy, and has for decades-to-centuries, that human action cannot affect the environment, despite the long, broad, and deep science evidence to the contrary. What’s more “establishment” than the harmless joy of using fossil fuels in a widespread manner? [edit – OT]
Perhaps unintentionally, your wording suggests that you already believe you know what the next 15 years will look like. – SM to DW
Reading blogs, there is a community out there that believes December temperatures mark the beginning of a prolonged cooling phase that will bring much lower global mean temperatures in the future. There’s even talk of an ice age.
As for a prolonged pause, Tsonis and Swanson’s pause until 2020ish appears to include the notion that AGW never stops.
That’s not at all what’s being said. The complaint is that if the present climate / weather is so badly skewed by AGW, why are there these events in the past that are worse? Or why are we having record breaking weather in the other direction?
There is a completely irrational fixation on the “Global Warming” aspect of what’s going on and every time something like a “cold winter” happens it serves as further proof that “Global Warming” is simply the wrong name. At some point I hope the Powers That Be have the good sense to admit that “Climate Change” is the more accurate term. Not holding my breath, tho …
#566 Dave Walker said: “The voice over related the floding to AGW – whilst showing pictures of a post in the ground, but inundated, that indicated the higher flood levels achieved in a couple of previous events 60 and 100 (I think) years ago”
If this was the only big flood for sixty years then you’d have a point. Instead now there are major floods happening not just every 100 years or every 60 years, but every year. With some localities getting 100 year floods two years in a row! Look at the list of major floods – 1958, 1974, a couple of big ones in the 1990s, then multiple major floods in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and now the biggest of all in 2010-2011. Check out some of the reports:
The increase in intensity of precipitation and amount of rain and geographic scope is all in line with what the Australian climate scientists have been telling us will happen as a consequence of global warming from our CO2 emissions. The north of Australia is getting wetter and the south is getting drier and hotter.
David Walker, Well, I suppose lumping all experts and authorities together is easier than actually thinking. Unfortunately, humans are social animals living in a highly complex, global society whose very survival is contingent upon having accurate and reliable information.
If you were inclined to actually do some work and try to determine which experts are reliable and what information sources are lying through their teeth, then perhaps you could develop a more nuanced view of the human condition. However, given that you are willing to extrapolate from data for a tiny portion of a tiny island to the entire globe, I don’t hold out much hope that you are the sort of person who is actually willing to “do the math”.
Gilles, regarding acceleration: In 1970, other forcings swamped the influence of greenhouse gasses. Since 1970, we have had a sustained warming trend — 40 years. Do you think natural variability has diminished or do you think that greenhouse forcing has gotten stronger?
In any case, the trend is in line with expectations. That provides strong evidence that we know what is going on. But, hey, feel free to develop your own climate theory and run it up against those done by people who actually know what they are talking about.
#566–Dave, the frustration with ‘pop attribution’ that you feel is, IMO, an inherent feature of the current situation, resulting from a combination of the statistical realities and human psychology. More specifically, the statistical reality is that we get, not so much qualitatively different events, as a shift in frequency and/or intensity of events. So, though the floods you mention may not be worse than all historical precedents, that doesn’t mean that their occurrence is irrelevant to climate change. What needs to be asked is, “Are these floods becoming more frequent on average?”, and “Are these floods becoming more intense on average?” And answering those questions may not be simple.
That’s where you get to the psychology. For numerous good reasons, humans prefer certainty to uncertainty, so we want to know, and we want to know, if possible, now. So there is a tendency for us to attribute prematurely (as Gavin’s repeated cautions dramatize for us.) And you don’t need a license to do so, so all kinds of folks do this, including politicians, media folk, activists and all sorts of cranks. (For example, yesterday I saw a blog comment attributing the extremely warm weather currently being experienced in the vast Canadian territory of Nunavut to shifting of the magnetic pole!)
Nor is it just one side or the other; while politician X may attribute a particular event to climate change, another may just as firmly and erroneously attribute it to, say, “natural cycles,” or human-caused degradation of some other sort. (A real-life example is the case of the Carteret Islands outmigration, which some attribute to climate change-caused sea level rise and others on reef degradation caused by poor fishing practices.) In general, my perception is that scientists are the most careful–which means conservative, which means they’ll miss some potentially valid attributions.
None the less, we have some good reasons to link both flood and drought to climate change:
For example, both thermodynamic
arguments124 and climate model simulations125
suggest that precipitation may become more intense
but less frequent (i.e., longer dry spells) under GHG-induced
global warming. This may increase flash
floods and runoff, but diminish soil moisture and
increase the risk of agricultural drought.
(From Dai, 2010)
So keep your skepticism, and question pop attribution all you want. I’d humbly suggest, though, that there’s a fine line between appropriate skepticism and knee-jerk rejection of orthodoxy. Experts in any field are not infallible, but on average they are going to be right much more often than the regular joe.
#574–Thanks for the links, Sou–the summary report is certainly quite unequivocal about the long-term trends. I hadn’t realized that the BOM provides a nice time-series on Sea Surface Temperatures near Australia, and it’s nice to observe its congruence with the instrumental record for Oz.
A question, though, about the other link–can we validly assume that the list is exhaustive? I see a note there to the effect there’s reports not available electronically, and if they tend to be older–rather than smaller-scale events–then we can’t draw conclusions about how frequent the flood events are. And I’d really like to know!
I did some poking around on Google this morning and studying precipitation patterns seems to be a “messy” business, with complex patterns in space and time to process. And the focus seems to be mostly regional, probably just for that reason–but it’s not so easy to get a comprehensible “big picture,” despite all the data that’s out there. If this list were exhaustive, it would be nice; you could plot occurrences and easily calculate a frequency trend. It would be a nice little “citizen science” project.
“Experts in any field are not infallible, but on average they are going to be right much more often than the regular joe.”
Yes. I find it depressing and incredibly frustrating when people go beyond skepticism and start regarding expertise as something to be actively distrusted.
Just because someone who has been studying the field for decades isn’t right about *everything*, that’s no reason to think they’re *wrong* about everything. And we would do well to remember that experts are BY A HUGE MARGIN more likely to be right about something in their field of expertise than is a layman (or a political pundit–I’m looking at you, Limbaugh).
#578, Kevin – I don’t know if the list is exhaustive or not, however it would seem so. I do know the flood in the 1950s and the flood in 1974 were big events. The following link shows floods in earlier times.
Bear in mind that over time there have been flood mitigation works which means it is not so easy to make comparisons over time. In particular, following the January 1974 floods which badly affected Brisbane there was a large dam built (Wivenhoe Dam) so as to (hopefully) prevent a similar occurrence. AFAIK, if not for that, Brisbane would be currently subject to the same or worse event as in 1974. I would surmise that population density of affected areas at the time of floods would also have an impact on the reporting of historical (and current) flood events. (eg many people may not be aware of the major flooding in Western Australia this summer.)
(As far as citizen science goes, I’ve got major bushfires on my list, plus health effects of prescribed burning – it won’t hurt to add floods :) )
Re: #1, Gavin’s reply,
I’ve learned that Gavin can be a bit caustic at times, and I understand how the repetition of strong beliefs based on a limited understanding can try one’s patience, but I think it would have been more instructive/constructive to use something like a dice analogy, rather than a good mocking, deserved or not.
For instance, two, true, 6-sided dice will have a mean roll of 7 and a standard deviation of ~1.2. Let’s say that you encounter a pair of dice that are not true and have a mean roll of 7.5, but you don’t know that this is the case. The difference between the means is less that a standard deviation, and less than the variance you would expect from a set of rolls, but if you rolled them a thousand times, you could be nearly certain that they were not true. Applying basic stats, you could be highly confident that the mean of these dice is between 7.4 and 7.6, even though the variance on the set of rolls was greater than the difference between the means.
BPL, your predictions scare the stuffing out of me. Not because of your work per se, but because your estimates happen to agree with my SWAG after looking at indices like fishery declines, rate of ocean acidification, peak oil estimates, population growth, etc. Convergence from separate lines of reasoning is a powerful thing. Course, that could be a case of a couple of nuts, or one nut and one non-nut, happening to agree with each other. You’ve put more effort into it than I have; so, I accept that I might be the nut. In any event, it baffles me when people show such a clear failure to comprehend that the well-being of society, economic and otherwise, is entirely dependent on the well-being of the environment in which they live, and their food is grown.
Ray, actually I’m asking people (who are supposed to understand this kind of issue better than myself) to answer some questions I’m puzzled with.
“Gilles, regarding acceleration: In 1970, other forcings swamped the influence of greenhouse gasses.”
Which kind of “other forcings” are you talking of , and which variability are they suppose to be able to produce ? (max trend for instance)
” Since 1970, we have had a sustained warming trend — 40 years. Do you think natural variability has diminished or do you think that greenhouse forcing has gotten stronger?”
I don’t think that the post-1970 trend is significantly higher than the 1900-1940 one, and it has not significantly increased since then. So the argument that something new must have happened is not obvious for me. Maybe the GHG have contributed, but why do you think that it is the only, and even the main contributor? computer models ?
In any case, the trend is in line with expectations.
a priori expectations? or a posteriori expectations ?
other question : how can the trend be a robust prediction of all models if the asymptotic sensitivity is known only within a factor two ? I assume that the trend is something like the asymptotic sensitivity divided by a relaxation timescale, so if the trend is the same with various sensitivities, the relaxation timescale should scale like the sensitivity. But why? wouldn’t you expect other combinations of sensitivities and time scales producing different trends in models ? is the 0.15 °C/century a robust value, and why? especially if it is (strangely enough) not accelerating ?
It is hard for me to debate with you Ray. I have no wish to try and undermine your personal expertise or your knowledge on this subject – I am in no position to do so.
I would like to gently take issue with you on your assumption that anyone who has different view to you is therefore “not thinking”.
Those of us on the outside (i.e. laymen) see and hear the constant and learned assertions with respect to AGW. Those of us that look and listen also see and hear the arguments from the contrarian side. These contrarians are not limited to just loonies and cranks. There are other “experts”, although they appear to be smaller in number, that argue, scientifically, their alternative view. Often, they will also go on to sugest reasons why the majority takes the stance that it does (career safety, funding, etc).
As a layman, I hear many of the arguments and I am unable to judge who is right and who is wrong. I think you are suggesting that there are more experts supporting the case being made for AGW than not – therefore I should follow the majority.
Here in the UK, our Met Office is coming under increasing criticism. You will be aware of the issues regarding forecasted BBQ summers and mild winters. The criticism of the Met office that I am reading currently is a serious attempt to argue that the Met Offices ability to get seasonal forecasts so wrong is the reason why there forecast on global warming should also not be trusted. I read, and this may be a myth, that the same supercomputer/model that did their seasonal forecasts (now stopped) is the same model that does the global warming predictions. The argument says, for whatever reason, the Met Office model has a “built -in” warming bias – evidenced by its regular, historical over estimation of the coming seasonal temperatures.
Isn’t it entirely logical for a layman to judge the efficasy of 100 year forecasts from the Met Office, at least in part, on their ability to give us reasonably accurate 3 month forecasts? Apparently, even the BBC is considering dropping the Met Office.
Whether it is politics, religion or science, I don’t think folowing the majority, or consensus view means that the majority is right. History is littered with examples of the opposite being the case.
On the other hand though – I could be completely wrong and we are all going to fry!
“Arctic sea ice extent averaged over December 2010 was 12.00 million square kilometers (4.63 million square miles). This is the lowest December ice extent recorded in satellite observations from 1979 to 2010, 270,000 square kilometers (104,000 square miles) below the previous record low of 12.27 million square kilometers (4.74 million square miles) set in 2006 and 1.35 million square kilometers (521,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.” (my emphasis)
Dave Walker: “Whether it is politics, religion or science, I don’t think folowing the majority, or consensus view means that the majority is right. History is littered with examples of the opposite being the case.”
Carl Sagan: “The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
Weather is NOT climate. Long range weather forecasting is just a really really hard form of weather forecasting, and has nothing to do with climate.
The fact that the Met Office do slightly better than chance with their long-range forecasts is considered a success. Expectations for long range forecasts are really that low.
Climate predictions, though – we have decades of successful predictions. Climate models have demonstrated more than just the basic level of skill, they have shown close agreement with observed temperatures.
You, now: you cherry-pick those instances when the Met Office made a higher than reality estimate in their weather forecasts, and try to spin that into a “warm bias”. And that was you burning up your last shred of credibility.
Swiss researchers reported on Tuesday that they found evidence of a “drastic” shift since the 1970s in the north Atlantic Ocean currents that usually influence weather in the northern hemisphere.
The team of biochemists and oceanographers from Switzerland, Canada and the U.S. detected changes in deep sea Atlantic corals that indicated the declining influence of the cold northern Labrador Current.
They said that change “since the early 1970s is largely unique in the context of the last approximately 1,800 years,” and raised the prospect of a direct link with global warming.
The Labrador Current interacts with the warmer Gulfstream from the south.
They have a complex interaction with a climate pattern, the North Atlantic Oscillation, which has a dominant impact on weather in Europe and North America.
Scientists have pointed to a disruption or shift in the oscillation as an explanation for moist or harsh winters in Europe in recent years.”
Is this more legitimate than the fabricated news on this topic that was a subject of this site a few weeks back?
Meanwhile, I have my own prediction to make. Posters on this site will largely continue to spend almost all their time interacting with trolls like DW while essentially ignoring actual ‘layman’ who look at the same range of statements as DW yet quickly somehow manage to understand that one side is non-science with no valid arguments to their name, largely funded by Exxon, the wealthiest corp in the world, and the Koch brothers (see recent New Yorker article on these jokers), while the other side has the vast bulk of scientific consensus on their side.
The basics, are clear and completely well established, and easy to understand: CO2 is a GHG (established for well over a century); we are pumping ~30 billion tons of extra CO2 into the atmosphere; atmospheric levels of CO2 have increased dramatically; Global temperatures have increased appreciably. Anyone who can’t understand these or connect these dots should be ignored. They are either too stupid to be bothered with, or they are trolls (or both). For the finer points of exactly how strong of a GHG CO2 is, what paleo-record can tell us…I, for one, am happy to admit that I (and 99.999% of the rest of the population of the world) am unqualified to weigh in on and am also happy to watch as those who have committed their lives to understand these highly technical issues discuss them.
Sorry about the cranky attitude, but I see otherwise thoughtful people here fall for almost every troll who comes along with no other purpose, as far as I can see, than to rile people up and distract people from the enormously important job of understanding what is really happening around us right now.
Re: #583 “logical for a layman to judge the efficasy of 100 year forecasts from the Met Office, at least in part, on their ability to give us reasonably accurate 3 month forecasts…”
Logical, maybe — but likely wrong. Ward and Brownlee made the excellent point in their book, “The Life and Death of Planet Earth” (prologue, pages 8 – 9), that “future climate prediction is actually easier — and probably more reliable — than the weather forecasts we use in our daily lives.”
Well, for instance, in the 1970s there was more particulate pollution than there has been in more recent decades. Light colored particles in the air tend to cause a cooling effect. This was actually the basis for Stephen Schneider’s conclusion, subsequently retracted, that there would be a cooling trend.
By all means, read a good book, but you don’t have to in order to understand that predicting climate is a little like predicting the mean of a large number of dice roles (which can be done with tight confidence intervals) and predicting weather is a little like predicting what any one roll will be (based perhaps on their position and orientation just prior to being rolled).
wili, the very bottom of the article notes that “The scientists published their study recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).” So, I don’t think it can help but be more legitimate than the fabricated news on this topic.
As for trolls, I keep hoping that they’re really asking honest questions rather than trying to bait us. *sigh*
Wili 587 “I see otherwise thoughtful people here fall for almost every troll who comes along”
Didactos 586: “Bye bye now”.
The point’s been made before: it’s worth the team spending time answering Canutist memes, so that those of us who don’t know the science inside out have the resources to counter them (the memes) ourselves. I share Wili and Didactos’s frustration with it though: I doubt these…people are even being paid for the shilling they’re doing. The worst thing is that some of them will be genuinely confused, and will not understand the irritation they provoke.
Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 6 Jan 2011 @ 5:32 PM
ghost wrote: “We may not be able to say with certainty that an individual extreme weather event is related to AGW, but we certainly cannot rule it out.”
I would say that no individual weather event, extreme or otherwise, is unrelated to anthropogenic global warming.
We are now living in an anthropogenically-warmed world. NOTHING that is happening is unaffected by that. NO weather event, whether extreme or not, is unaffected by that.
Today’s temperature hits a record high — anthropogenic warming is one of the causes and conditions of that weather event. Tomorrow’s temperature happens to match exactly the long-term average — anthropogenic warming is one of the causes and conditions of that weather event as well.
If someone asks “did climate change cause this weather event”, the correct answer is:
Climate does not “cause” weather. “Climate” and “weather” are not separate things such that one can be a “cause” and the other an “effect”. The words “climate” and “weather” refer to the same thing, just on different time scales.
Anthropogenic global warming is a pervasive influence that inescapably affects ALL aspects of the Earth’s atmosphere, and this influence manifests itself in both the short-term events that we refer to as “weather”, and in the long-term patterns that we refer to as “climate”.
In the midst of many pointing to the latest weather and announcing that it proves something about climate, it is reasonable to be sorting out the difference.
And you acknowledge a chance of being wrong.
But you gave our Didacto a chance to strut. Didacto was only wrong once. That was when he thought he was wrong. I am not sure why he is so confident about ‘observed temperatures’ matching climate predictions. Maybe he forgot the part about climate predictions being calibrated based on observed temperatures.
[Response: Of what value is a comment like this? Does it advance or help anything? As for the issue of being wrong, you are absolutely the last person with a right to voice opinions about others on this, given your history of wrong, off-topic proclamations on everything under the sun here.–Jim]
As a follow up to Wili in 584 concerning the NSIDC release on the low ice conditions in the Arctic, they went on to say:
“The low ice conditions in December occurred in conjunction with above-average air temperatures in regions where ice would normally expand at this time of year. Air temperatures over eastern Siberia were 6 to 10 degrees Celsius (11 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in December. Over the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Bay/Davis Strait and Hudson Bay, temperatures were at least 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average. Southern Baffin Island had the largest anomalies, with temperatures over 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal. By sharp contrast, temperatures were lower than average (4 to 7 degrees Celsius, 7 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit) over the Alaska-Yukon border, north-central Eurasia, and Scandinavia.
The warm temperatures in December came from two sources: unfrozen areas of the ocean continued to release heat to the atmosphere, and an unusual circulation pattern brought warm air into the Arctic from the south. Although the air temperatures were still below freezing on average, the additional ocean and atmospheric heat slowed ice growth.”
wili wrote: “I see otherwise thoughtful people here fall for almost every troll who comes along with no other purpose, as far as I can see, than to rile people up and distract people from the enormously important job of understanding what is really happening around us right now.”
I have a hypothesis about denial.
I don’t mean the deliberately dishonest, obstructionist denial perpetrated by the fossil fuel corporations through their phony “think tanks” and pseudoscientific frauds and cranks, that is disseminated by the phony “conservative” media to gullible dupes who endlessly and belligerently regurgitate zombie talking points on blogs anywhere.
That is what it is: the funding and directing of the propaganda machine is well-documented; and the psychology of “true believers” who embrace that propaganda is well-understood.
I mean “denial” in the psychological sense of rejecting, evading or suppressing knowledge that is simply too horrible to face.
And my hypothesis is, that the reality of “what is really happening around us right now” is so horrifying and unthinkable to those of us who DO understand it, that some of us need to be “distracted” from it, so we retreat from dealing with it, into the far more comfortable space of engaging in endless, repetitive “debate” with trolls over basic scientific points that are, in fact, no longer subject to legitimate debate.
We prefer to confidently lecture the trolls over and over again about the basic science, and take comfort in the feelings of understanding (and thus control) that scientific knowledge gives us, than to discuss the constantly emerging evidence that we are perhaps irrevocably committed to unimaginable suffering and destruction.
Lecturing a WattsUpWithThat Ditto-Head gives a sense of strength and confidence. Discussing the ever-increasing evidence that we are hurtling faster than anyone imagined possible towards a worst-case scenario of global catastrophe gives a sense of powerlessness and fear. Better to deny and retreat into the comfort of schooling the trolls.
> climate predictions being calibrated based on observed temperatures.
C’mon, Jim, you pick up the denier talking points really fast, you know that.
If you looked them up rather than repeating them without citation, you’d know a lot more about the PR points and the people from whose heads they sprout.
What you left out — is important. Paste your own words into Google and read some of what pops up in the first page. You want respect as a serious thinker. That’s one way to knock the rough parts off the ideas, check’em.
572, JCH: As for a prolonged pause, Tsonis and Swanson’s pause until 2020ish appears to include the notion that AGW never stops.
Yes, and roughly consistent with Latif’s model as well. They forecast what is roughly a linear trend plus sinusoid with a much lower 2100 forecast mean temp than the GCM forecasts, if extrapolated that far. That pattern has been much disputed here at RC.
Your comment about December starting a cooling trend is clever. However, we humans have recorded many Decembers and Junes in alternation these past thousands of years, but we have not yet recorded 2011-2020. So we can’t yet use our “knowledge” of 2011-2020 to tell us whether or when warming picks up again, or whether the apparent decline in ocean heat content recorded by the ARGOS system (2003-2008) is prophetic.
Lecturing a WattsUpWithThat Ditto-Head gives a sense of strength and confidence. Discussing the ever-increasing evidence that we are hurtling faster than anyone imagined possible towards a worst-case scenario of global catastrophe gives a sense of powerlessness and fear. Better to deny and retreat into the comfort of schooling the trolls.
I think that’s perceptive, SA. We’re all human beings, and if you take the implications of this science seriously, the current reality’s a considerable stressor. (See Greg Craven as poster boy–and I say that pretty much admiringly.) As societal inaction continues, despair must be held at bay somehow. (Though I think the response is not so much a form of denial as a form of “reaction formation.”)
It’s probably not a harmful defence mechanism as long as some balance is maintained–eg., one doesn’t fall into denial of whatever crumbs of good news actually do come along, or into an inability to accept that one’s ideas might be less correct or precise than one thinks (after all, “think” is the operative word, right?) These are understandable temptations, but probably not helpful.
Thanks for the thoughtful responses, SA and KM. I think those of us even partly aware of the full implications of our multiple predicaments end up with a kind of dual consciousness. We go about our daily lives around people who mostly don’t seem to have a clue, and try mostly to go along with their relatively non-chalant attitudes; yet when we are with our own thoughts, or visiting here, or reading the latest book or article on our increasingly dire situation, we return to the real world, one that screams out for immediate, drastic changes on every level of society. There is no one ‘right’ way to handle this disparity.
#425. You forgot the most important trend, 10000 years global trend! Global warming has a long history.
[Response: Your evidence for a 10,000 yr global warming trend? The fact that LIA glacial advance almost everywhere obliterated morraines left by every advance since the Younger Dryas would suggest otherwise – particularly in the Northern Hemsiphere. Ocean core records also show a much more nuanced picture. – gavin]
Cherrypicking is a noble art. Did you forget the 2003 heat wave in Europe? The IPCC didn’t, e.g. AR4 synthesis report p. 56
I am sorry, but I can only give you an honorable mention for stupidity for that post. We had a guy in here last month who was arguing that the important trend was over the past 500 million years. You’ll have to try harder to reach that level of weapons grade stupidity.
Gavin’s comment to #602. ?? LIA glacial advance ?? Look e.g. at this graph (sorry about the language) : http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sverige_under_paleolitikum
10500 years ago in the Baltic region. Enormous areas under ice still 10500 years ago. No glaciers in this region during the LIA except mountain tops. As for the global figure you may have to add a few thousand years to get a strong signal which doesn’t really change anything in the argument.
[Response: Your dates are mixed up. (Believe it or not, I do actually know there was a ice age maximum a while back.) The end of the Younger Dryas (and the start of the Holocene) was around 11,500 years ago, so the glaciers you point to were long gone at 10,000 yrs ago (you are probably confusing radio-carbon age with calendar age). And as I said, there are very few morraines between the maximum extent at the Younger Dryas and the LIA, which implies that none of the Holocene advances were as cold as the LIA. Not something indicative of a even a 10,000yr ‘hemispheric warming trend’, let alone a global one. – gavin]
#425, #602, #604 with comments. OK Gavin, fair enough. You may be right about the exact dating but this is not the point and you know it. You are also aware of the ice age which means that if we take a good date then (when it WAS cold) and compare with now and take a linear trend we have global warming over this period in the linear sense.
[Response: But a linear fit over that time period is pointless – it provides no predictability at all. Similarly with a linear trend since the Eocene or Cretaceous or the Neo-proterozoic glaciation. If you are going to try and use a statistical fit to suggest something is or is not going to continue, you need to have at least some evidence that it has predictability over the range of time you are using it. Comments on the level of ‘global warming has been happening for 10,000 years’ are both wrong on the facts and on the implications. – gavin]
The whole point in this excercise was, of course, that there is no reason to stop our trends at a mere 130 years back as #425 did just because we know that at that particular time significant fossil burning started. In fact, I actually missed to make the point that YOU stressed the Little Ice Age (LIA) coldness (far more important here than the ice age). 
Since we now seem to agree on a warming trend since 400 years back it should also be possible to agree that it is near impossible to decide how large part of the recent warming that is due to the continuing warming (not necessarily linear – the underlying cause is unknown) since 400 years back and which part is due to a more recent possible AGW effect.
[Response: If you are arguing that attribution of recent trends is impossible, then I obviously don’t agree. Read my posts on the subject. Similarly, I don’t believe that it is impossible to attribute variability in the pre-industrial period. – gavin]
An estimate of the timeline of the retreat of the Scandinavian ice sheet is in Boulton et al. 2001 (fig. 12). And large ice sheet extent doesn’t imply low temperatures, although they may cause negative feedback.
“[Citation needed] — are you talking about the reduction in sulfate aerosols?” :
I was talking first about the doubling of GHG radiative forcing since 1975. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/aggi_2010.fig4.png
I don’t think that sulfate aerosols have played a great role in this period. So very naively one would have expected at least a quadratic behavior of the temperature vs time, and a doubling of the trend. I was asking for a simple explanation of why it is not observed (and I think, even statistically fairly excluded, although I haven’t seen Tamino dealing with this issue -unfortunately his “open mind” doesn’t accept my questions anymore).
Re 608 Gilles – for a very simplified case, where T’ is temperature anomaly, RF is radiative forcing (anomaly), and F is feedback (defined here in units of radiative forcing per unit temperature; defined here to include the Planck response, so it will be negative if the climate has finite positive climate sensitivity), and C is the heat capacity (per unit area)
dT’/dt = (RF + F*T’)/C
(note that equilibrium climate sensitivity = ECS = T’eq/RF can be found by taking
dT’/dt = 0 when T’ = T’eq; so
RF + F*T’eq = 0
T’eq/RF + 1/F = 0
ECS = T’eq/RF = -1/F )
But C is effectively larger for changes occuring over longer periods of time (a greater average depth of the ocean is involved), so it’s not quite that simple. (Also, some feedbacks don’t act instantaneously in response to T’ – actually few would, but the response time for water vapor and some others is sufficiently fast relative to the response time C*ECS = -C/F (e-folding time of radiative disequilibrium RF+F*T’, where, if RF (and C and F) is constant and T’ is initially 0, T’eq-T’ = ECS*RF*exp[-t/(C*ECS)] ) that they can be approximated as instantaneous)
Re 610 Jim Bullis – if the prediction is for a given temperature anomaly, and if you want to know the absolute temperature, just add the baseline value to the anomaly. Of course, the science is informed by observations of present/near past climate and beyond, and specifically the baseline climate state must be known to some extent in order to calculate forcing and the response even absent other feedbacks besides the Planck response (there is overlap between CO2 and H2O,clouds, greenhouse forcing depends on the temperature profile, Planck response would be different at different temperatures, etc.; and then there’s observations that inform the parameterizations of sub-grid scale processes)
However, the observed change in climate is not generally used to calibrate models – hence it is a test of models to predict that change. Which is not to say that statistical analyses have not been done (some have been done famously poorly).
I think that it’s very convenient to blame others for why “Global Warming” seems to be so thoroughly rejected by some, while utterly ignoring the criticisms of how “Global Warming” is being sold.
A lot has been made about how manufactured crises are used to raise money and pads ones wallet at the expense of the people who are being led around by the nose, hoping to prevent whatever ill or evil is about to happen. People have become cynical about what’s going to happen and who bad it’s going to be if we don’t give, give, give. To me, that’s a much better explanation. Given the “We never said there was Global Cooling in the 1970’s!” attitude I find here and elsewhere, I have little or no hope that “Global Warming” will stop being viewed as a manufactured crisis until it’s entirely too late.
Meanwhile since we are talking floods, Brisbane is heading for what would probably be a record flood if we didn’t have flood mitigating dam, Wivenhoe, completed in 1984. The last figure I heard was Wivenhoe was at 173% where 100% = normal storage capacity and 200% = flooding the top of wall. So we are fast reaching the point where releasing water at low tide (the Brisbane is a tidal river) no longer exists. Without the dam, we would easily have reached the 1974 flood level, possibly the even higher 1893 flood level. Two once in a century floods in 36 years doesn’t in itself support a claim the climate is changing. But add up all the data points worldwide, and you have to wonder when it will become clear that the cost of business as usual is much higher than cleaning up the energy economy. This is after all when we are at only 0.8°C of global warming. What will 2° or 3° do to intensifying the hydrological cycle?
That is exactly what I have been banging on about in this thread!
In your comment you say “Two once in a century floods in 36 years doesn’t in itself support a claim the climate is changing” – then you go to draw that exact conclusion – and you go on to say that cleaning up the “energy economy” is the solution.
No consideration of the concept that it might be just “weird weather” or that long term, natural, global warming could be to blame – no, you state unequivocally that it’s clearly AGW and cleaning up the energy economy is the solution!
Gavin made a comment to one of my earlier pieces in this thread that he was frustrated by politicians and the MSM coupling every exceptional weather event with AGW – and you have just done exactly that.
Ray, I wonder if science has the time to breathe at times? So to a defender of science, I send a discovery,
really cool stuff. http://www.eh2r.com latest news, I can use any 2 subsequent pictures to prove the nature of the lower atmosphere, and lately in the Arctic its been warm, a controversy for conrarians was that many people have been
seeing brighter twilights in the Arctic , I have taken the time to resolve it. So I hope you enjoy this little bit of science, meteorology by way of light is taking off !
David Walker: You are making the same mistake as before, but in a different context.
We don’t base our conclusions on a single flood, or two floods, or on a single regional temperature record.
We base our conclusions on many, many, many strands of evidence that all weave together and support each other, ruling out alternative explanations. Basic physics tells us what greenhouse gases will do. Carbon inventories and the CO2 records show that greenhouse gases are increasing, and why. Then many, many, many different observations all show unambiguously the results that we expect if and only if climate is changing as we expect it to under anthropogenic global warming. You will find 11 of these observation series at NOAA, all showing the expected trend.
To me, the downward trend in stratospheric temperature is one of the deciders. The strong downward trend is exactly what AGW predicts, and it also rules out many other explanations.
You can complain about each individual weather event if you want. But don’t stand so close to one tree that you miss the GINORMOUS FOREST!
Let me take an entirely sceptical stance in reposte:
Fact – the floods in Brisbane are in exactly the same places as previous higher level floods.
Fact – A 30/35 year cycle suggests that flooding should be expected right about now
Fact – The de-salination plants that the alarmists said would be needed because QLD would be suffering permanent drought are in moth balls.
Fact – Alarmists say the droughts in QLD is proof of AGW and now flood is proof of AGW
Can you not see why a reasonably intelligent person, might just question the the logic and rationale of all this?
You say “To me, the downward trend in stratospheric temperature is one of the deciders. The strong downward trend is exactly what AGW predicts, and it also rules out many other explanations.”
To be honest, I don’t know what that means. However, I assume, for you, it is a compelling piece of evidence that seals the deal as far as you are concerned and you cannot understand why others aren’t fully on board.
The CET graph does it for me. It cuts through all of the rhetoric, it exposes all of the ridiculous claims and headlines about the English weather. Insofar as England is concerned, there is nothing happening – other than the long term trend that is clearly visible.
It allows me to “dismiss”, many of the earnest, threatening, hand-wringing impending disaster, end of the world is nigh, claims – based upon on the evidence produced by the Met Office themselves (who are not generally perceived to be reticent in proclaiming their stance in these matters).
Moving on therefore, in order to “buy in” to the AGW argument, I have to accept that the oldest continuous record in the world, that reflects the temepraures for the country that I live in – is a “blip”. Somehow, my country’s cliamate is not being affected by AGW – but the rest of the world is.
Sorry Dida – but my brain just wont let me do that.
[Response: You might want to have that seen to then. ;-) However, you have completely mischaracterised the basis for concern. You see a trend and yet you don’t ask why that might be happening. When the likely causes are accelerating dramatically (and they are), you are ignoring what that implies for the future. Instead of imagining what the argument for concern is (as you have done above), why not deal directly with the argument that is actually being put forward? – gavin]
Can you really not see that you are systematically dismissing massive amounts of evidence? Didactylos just presented us all (thanks, Did!) with global data on 11 different parameters, all of which support the mainstream science, and the concerns that follow. You also have many people here who are willing to explain their significance to you–including stratospheric cooling!–if you but care to make the effort.
Phillip M. (#613) alluded to a bigger picture–“add up all the data points worldwide”–and Didactylos (#616) actually handed a great many of them to you on the metaphorical silver platter. Yet you maintain that the CET, and only the CET, tells you all you need to know! (And, in my opinion, you misread it, as well–but we’ve been over that ground before, and you’ve dismissed all other interpretations but your own “nothing to worry about here” take on it.)
Do you have the guts to look at the evidence squarely and honestly–or will you continue to disregard 99% of it as “too hard to understand,” all the while attempting to pillory others for (supposedly) drawing too-large conclusions from this or that bit of “weird weather?”