An eclectic round-up of the week’s climate science happenings (and an effort to keep specific threads clear of clutter).
It’s the sun! (not)
As regular readers here will know, the big problem for blaming the sun for the recent global warming is that there hasn’t been a trend in any index of solar activity since about 1960, and that includes direct measurements of solar output by satellites since 1979. Well, another paper, has come out saying exactly the same thing. This is notable because the lead author Mike Lockwood has worked extensively on solar physics and effects on climate and certainly can’t be credibly accused of wanting to minimise the role of solar forcing for nefarious pro-CO2 reasons!
Stefan was quoted in Nature as saying this is the ‘last nail in the coffin’ for solar enthusiasts, but a better rejoinder is a statement from Ray P: “That’s a coffin with so many nails in it already that the hard part is finding a place to hammer in a new one.”
The still-excruciating ‘Great Global Warming Swindle’ got another outing in Australia this week. The heavily edited ‘new’ version dumped some of the obviously fake stuff that was used the first time around, and edited out the misleading segment with Carl Wunsch. There is some amusing feedback in the post-show discussion panel and interview (via DeSmogBlog).
As an aside, this is as good a time as any to point people to a new resource we are putting together: RC Wiki, which is an index to the various debunkings of the contrarian articles, TV programs, and internet pseudo-science that is out there. The idea is to have a one-stop shop so that anyone who comes across a piece and wants to know what the real story just has to start there. For instance, the page on TGGWS has a listing of many of the substantive criticisms from the time of the first showing.
Editing the wiki is by invitation only, but let us know if you want to help out, or if you have any suggestions or comments.
The sweet spot for climate predictability
Between the difficulty of long-term weather forecasts and the impossibility of accurate predictions for economic conditions a century hence, there is a sweet spot for climate forecasts. This spot, maybe between 20 and 50 years out, is where the emissions scenarios don’t matter too much (given the inertia of the system) and where the trends start to be discernible over the noise of year to year weather. Cox and Stephenson have a good discussion of the point in this week’s Science and a great conceptual graphic of the issues.
One could quibble with the details (we’d put the sweet spot a little earlier) but the underlying idea is sound, and in judging climate forecasts, it will be projections in that range that should be judged (i.e. the early Hansen projections).