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Climate Services

Filed under: — rasmus @ 9 September 2009

I recently attended the World Climate Conference-3 (WCC-3), hosted by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva. Most of the talk was of providing “climate services” (CS) and coordinating these globally. But what are climate services, and how much of what was envisaged is scientifically doable?

Climate services is a fairly new term that involves the provision of climate information relevant for adaptation to climate change and climatic swings, long-term planning, and facilitating early warning systems (EW).

CS includes both data describing past and future climate, and usually involves downscaling to provide information on regional and local scales. It can be summarised by the contents of http://www.climateservices.gov/ (also see this link to an article discussing the US National Climate services).

It was stressed during WCC-3 that CS must not only communicate relevant information, but this information must also be ‘translated’ to non-expert in a way that it can be acted upon.

One concern expressed during WCC-3 was that global climate models still do not give a sufficiently accurate description of the regional and local aspects of the climate. The models also have serious limitations when they are to be used for seasonal and decadal forecasting. Climate models were originally designed to provide the large picture of our climate system, and the fact that ENSO, cyclones, various wave phenomena (observed in the real world) appear in the model output – albeit with differences in details – give us increased confidence that they capture real physical processes. For climate prediction, these details, often caricatured by the models, must be more accurate.

Although the dynamical aspects and regional scales are important, one must keep in mind that the atmospheric radiative transfer atmospheric models represent the core of the theory behind AGW, and that AGW involves longer time scales. Few scientists seriously doubt these radiative transfer models, which are closely related to the algorithms used in remote sensing, e.g. by satellites, to calculate temperatures. If one interprets the the New Scientist report from the WCC-3 as that the situation is no longer as dire previously thought, then one is in for a big disappointment. The sentiment is rather that climate change is unavoidable, and that we need to establish tools in order to plan and deal with the problems.

There are some signs, however, that biases and systematic errors in the global climate models (GCMs) can be reduced by increasing the spatial (and temporal) resolution, or by including a realistic representation of the stratosphere. Problems associated with the description of local and regional climates cannot merely be corrected through downscaling.

One concern was that the bit of code called ‘parametrisation’ (employed in the models to describe the bulk effect of physical processes taking place over a spatial scale too small for the model grid) may not be sufficiently good for the job of simulating all local climatic aspects. For this reason, there was a call for a globally coordinated effort in providing computer resources and climate simulation.

Some speakers stressed the importance of a truly global set of climate observation. In this context, it’s also crucial to share data without restrictions, in addition to aiding poor countries to make high quality measurements.

Although the focus during the WCC-3 was on adaptation, it was also stressed that mitigation is still a must, if we are to avoid serious climate calamities. It was concluded that we must move from a ‘Catastrophe handling’ strategy to a ‘Risk management’ policy.

One sad example showing that we are not there yet, was the forecasted June-August 2008 floods over the western/central Africa. It was the first time in history when Red Cross/Crescent launched a pre-emptive appeal based on a forecast. Unfortunately, there was a lack of willingness to donate funds before a disaster had taken place, and sadly, the forecasts turned out to be fairly accurate. The question is whether we are doing the same mistake when it comes to climate change.

Webcasts from the conference have been posted on the WMO WCC-3 web site. In addition to the science, a number of speakers discussed politics. There is also a new book – Climate Senses – that has recently been published for the WCC-3, dealing with climate predictions and information for decision making


201 Responses to “Climate Services”

  1. 1
    David B. Benson says:

    The paper linked below (which I don’t seem to be able to promote discussion about here on Real Climate) suggests heavily modifying the Sahara and maybe also the Australian Outback. There are regional consequences, several of which are mentioned in the paper. Some of those consequences suggest a more modest modifcation of those two deserts.

    Is this a form of climate service?

    Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/55436u2122u77525/

  2. 2
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Funny, the phrase “climate services” suggests to me something like “ecosystem services,” i.e., services provided by the climate to humans. Viewed that way, it would mean things like dependable rainfall, hospitable temperatures and humidities for agriculture, snowpack for freshwater, etc.

  3. 3
    J Pat Valentik says:

    I had the same response, as maybe a term to point at what the costs of climate change may end up being.

  4. 4

    David Benson wrote in 1:

    The paper [open access "Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming"] linked below (which I don’t seem to be able to promote discussion about here on Real Climate) suggests heavily modifying the Sahara and maybe also the Australian Outback. There are regional consequences, several of which are mentioned in the paper.

    The title is a little over the top since the “solution” merely slows global warming down for a while by expanding a carbon sink — and they acknowledge as much in the paper — but next to agrichar/biochar, this is the single most interesting geo-engineering solution at least that I have seen up till this point.
    *
    David Benson wrote in 1:

    Is this a form of climate service?

    Is geoengineering a climate service?

    Normally when I think of “climate service” I am thinking of something more along the lines of predictions in the “sweet spot” of climate forecasting (see the section “The sweet spot for climate predictability” of the 13 Jul 2007 “Friday Roundup”) where for the next forty years or so what happens is largely a function of the carbon dioxide we have already emitted rather than the carbon dioxide that we have yet to emit — and thus more or less independent of the emissions scenario. And it would be local forecasting — similar to what DePreSys and the like are aiming for — so that people will know whether investments in building or farming in a given region is a good idea given how the climate will be changing.

    This seems a bit more proactive – in the sense that they seek some control over the climate rather than simply taking that change for granted – and global. However, I would hesitate to say that it isn’t a climate service. I would hate to penalize it merely for scale of ambition.

  5. 5
    Hank Roberts says:

    Good distinction may be lurking there, Jim — I had the same thought when I saw the term.

    But seeing it again as you spell it out, it might be reasonable to say that ‘climate proposes, but ecosystems deliver’ the services.

    The climate describes the limits and variability underlying what _may_ happen. From humidity to soil to fisheries — we experience ecosystem services.

    Climate services:

    http://www.climateservices.gov/
    ***Currently being updated***
    Sorry for the inconvenience
    (nothing available right now)

    Hmmm. Good thing that only happens on websites and not in reality.

    Oh, wait …

  6. 6
    RichardC says:

    1 David, afforestation in a practical sense becomes tree-farms. We could see a resurgence of log homes, which is a grand way to sequester carbon. This is like the California model but using a renewable source of water. I wonder the resulting slash would be enough to power the pumps and desalination plants. Is fertilization covered in the full paper?

  7. 7

    Timothy Chase:

    “The title is a little over the top since the “solution” merely slows global warming down for a while by expanding a carbon sink”

    “For a while”? Hardly a fair characterization of about 8 GtC/yr new bio-sequestration (a full 8 wedges/yr!), continuing for at least a century…and with appropriate eco-neutral conservation harvest…’forever’!

    Does any other single proposal for mitigation come even close “to end(ing) global warming”?

    One of the authors of the cited paper ;-) Len Ornstein

  8. 8

    Leonard Ornstein wrote in 7:

    “For a while”? Hardly a fair characterization of about 8 GtC/yr new bio-sequestration (a full 8 wedges/yr!), continuing for at least a century… and with appropriate eco-neutral conservation harvest… ‘forever’!

    Well, part of what I had been counting on was that the new forests would grow up until there was a balance between carbon entering the sink and carbon leaving the sink, but I see that you are also talking about harvesting the growth — and at 8 GtC/yr, this is roughly equal to the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, with 5.5 GtCO2 in emissions and 2.2 GtCO2 due to deforestation. So that could be a “forever” solution to a constant rate of carbon emissions.

    But I was also considering exponential growth. At 3% per year, for example, the amount of annual emissions will double in roughly 24 years — and if we continue to shift over to non-traditional fossil fuels (e.g., lower grade coal, Canadian tar sands, and eventually shale and synthetic oil made from coal) the rate at which carbon emissions will accelerate. Then there is population growth, and there are the developing countries – including China and India — where China recently overtook the US as the largest emitter of CO2 (but that was before the current economic crisis — and they do have four times our population). So we aren’t speaking of a century of “end(ing)” global warming.

    Nevertheless an additional 8 GtC/yr would buy us a fair amount of time — and more. So it is certainly worth examining.

  9. 9
    CTG says:

    In New Zealand, our local provider of climate services is NIWA. They just announced that they have bought a new supercomputer. It would seem fairly obvious that having bigger and faster computers would mean that you get better results from your models, right?

    Not according to our local brand of deniers, who called the supercomputer a waste of money, declaring that it would only get wrong answers faster than before.

    I have heard the denialists make some pretty ludicrous claims before, but this really takes the biscuit. It just shows how desperate their campaign of deceit has become.

  10. 10
    David Horton says:

    It’s just a tiny point, hardly worth mentioning really, but these guys do know that the Sahara, and even more so central Australia, are not empty wastelands but rich and diverse ecosystems in their own right, don’t they? So much destruction in the non-desert areas has already helped to contribute to global warming, and they want to prevent it by destroying the desert areas too? Quite apart from the logistics and energy use and additional environmental destruction in building and placing the irrigation pipes and pumps and other infrastructure to water the deserts? This is like all the other geo-engineering (or do we now call them climate services?) solutions which involve causing a whole different raft of problems to add to the existing ones, anything to avoid facing the reality of the need to reduce CO2 production.

  11. 11

    #1 David Benson: I had a quick glance through the paper and couldn’t see where they had costed energy to move the water around on such a vast scale. You would also have to cost in irrigation infrastructure and cost of planting (including energy cost). You would also have to allow that the soil may be unsuited to growing trees as it stands. Maybe they covered some of this but I missed it on a quick read.

    #9 CTG: no doubt those self-same denialists are the epitome of efficiency because they are able to arrive at wrong answers at no cost, not even the cost of looking up facts.

    This “services” tag is something of a new fashion. IBM has been promoting the concept of Services Science, Management and Engineering (SSME) for a few years. The basic idea is that delivering services, which are intangibles that have value, is complex because you need to manage a range of disparate disciplines and the value proposition is totally in the way you manage and add value to information. (Harder to visualise where you are with a given process when you can’t pick up the product and drop it on your foot to see what it weighs.)

    I suppose climate science and its application to society fits this broad definition.

  12. 12
    Andrew says:

    David (#1), so you want to visit an ecological catastrophe on Australia so you can enjoy the delights of high carbon usage for a little longer. How about irrigated afforestation of some of the US deserts for a start.

    I would also question the suggested use of the forests as a carbon sink and then harvesting the forests for timber. No matter what such timber is used for it will eventually rot and the carbon recycled. I thought that was one of the major criticisms of Carbon Capture and Sequestration; the possibility that the CO2 will gradually leak out over time. The only way the forests could act as long term carbon sinks is conversion to charcoal and burying it.

  13. 13
    Craig Allen says:

    That ‘Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming’ paper is just plain stupid. There is a reason the centre of Australia is a desert. It’s ridiculously hot and dry. We have the farm enterprises and ecosystems of Australia’s Murray darling basin are collapsing because there isn’t enough water anymore, and these authors are suggesting we can find enough of the stuff to splash around irrigating forests planted in the middle of nowhere. Loons!

    A far more realistic approach is to realise that dry landscapes have their own ecosystems with vegetation composed of species that naturally cope with the extreme aridity and high temperatures. And to be aware that the soils in these places naturally do store carbon, albeit not in much lower densities than ecosystems in wetter areas. Land-use practises are causing these ecosystems and their carbon storage capacities to be degraded. We need to improve those practises. Not go in and tear up the natural ecosystems in some half baked schemes that are very unlikely to work if we plunder all the available aquifers and build vast arrays of power stations in order to desalinate and pump water.

    Besides that, the Bilbies will not be impressed.

    Australia’ interior is vast, but it is not barren. As with the beautiful deserts of the US you can only conclude that if you ignore all the cactus and other plants, lizards, birds, insects, mammals, and even frogs and fish etc.

  14. 14
    Craig Allen says:

    My bilbies link didn’t work – it was a google images search for “Bilby”.

  15. 15
    Curious says:

    Regarding decadal forecasting, I’ve read the NewScientist article and taken a look at the actual presentation, where it is suggested that we might see one or two decades of stability or even cooling. Considering the precedent comments on Keenlyside et al. 2008 or Swanson & Tsonis 2009 I’m surprised at the leniency toward Latif’s statements. Is there something new? Does RC go along with the possibility of a transient cooling period of an order of decades?
    Thanks.

  16. 16
    koen says:

    Well,
    the biggest outcome I see is the usual denialist nonsense about Fred Pearce (a reputed scientist!) reporting about M. Natif (an IPCC author!) bragging that all that warming and cooling is due to NAO – as reported in the New Scientist article.

    From the article:
    “Latif predicted that in the next few years a natural cooling trend would dominate over warming caused by humans. The cooling would be down to cyclical changes to ocean currents and temperatures in the North Atlantic, a feature known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).”

    I fear that’s all we are going to hear about climate services :(

  17. 17
    Timothy says:

    “Climate models were originally designed to provide the large picture of our climate system”

    Well,as you go on to say, this is only because doing anything else was not, and may still not be, technically feasible.

    I’m not sure that simply chucking vast amounts of money and supercomputer time at the problem is necessarily going to improve matters by as much as hoped. There are still going to be multiple processes that occur on scales smaller than can be modelled.

    Do you think that there is going to be a prediction of what effect global warming will have on ENSO, or the Indian Monsoon [or..] before it actually happens?

    I’m not convinced it is possible. That doesn’t mean the scientists shouldn’t try, but should that be the emphasis?

    Perhaps climate science should try to concentrate on those questions which are technically more likely to be solved, which I think are more to do with actually how much warming occurs and how that affects sea level rise (eg ocean heat content, glacier mass balance). There is also the related issue of at what point (in temperature rise; GHG levels; time) mountain glaciers, that are important for irrigation, will be lost (particularly in the Himalayas, but also more generally).

  18. 18
    FredB says:

    I’m glad to see that the statement that “it’s also crucial to share data without restrictions”; this is one of the hallmarks of proper science, and something climate science can be proud of.

  19. 19

    I also attended WCC3.

    One message from this meeting was that climate change may greatly increase the importance of longer term dynamical forecasts (say 6 months ahead).

    As Rasmus discusses, the limitations and difficulties in extracting practical information from climate forecasts on this timescale didn’t seem to be universally appreciated. The modellers were much more cautious than some of the people looking for applications, e.g. in development agencies. Quite a bit of communicating to do, I’d say.

  20. 20
    Mark says:

    Joseph, one problem can be the “PHB effect”.

    I.e. if the boss doesn’t understand, he won’t understand he can’t get the answers he wants.

    How many times has someone been told to get a test set up in three days and an answer from the test within another day, when the procedures take three days to produce an answer?

    In this case, some policy makers want “when will the GIS melt?” and do NOT want “by 2100″ because that’s three generations or more away. “5% chance by 2020″ doesn’t work either because that’s too low a chance and the consequential answer “95% between 2020 and 2100″ is significant but has the same problem as saying “by 2100″.

    We could do with policy makers working out what questions CAN be answered and asking THOSE questions.

    And that requires working out what an answer to those questions means to what they want to do.

    Climate scientists don’t know what the policy makers can do, so they can’t help here. Or not much, anyway.

  21. 21
    Mark says:

    Timothy, #17, that’s the way I see it (with the provisos that policy makers need to work out what to do with the answers that ARE possible).

  22. 22
    Curious says:

    koen,
    I suppose that Latif’s statement is related to his old paper:

    Tropical Pacific/Atlantic Ocean interactions at multi‐decadal time scales
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2001/2000GL011837.shtml
    http://www.mpimet.mpg.de/fileadmin/publikationen/Reports/max_scirep_305.pdf

    I would like to know how plausible such a long pause in warming would be, because until now I’ve always thought that it was quite unlikely (here, here or here). But I’m surprised that it hasn’t earned any critical comment in this RC post. Such a long pause would foster a lot of skepticism. :(

    [Response: We're working on a post on the whole topic... - gavin]

  23. 23
    anna says:

    I for one am not convinced that simply providing more accurate information will actually result in more action.

    We have more than enough information, it is easy to read and easy to access, yet we do practically nothing.

    Information alone, especially big scale, remote in time and space information, isn’t good at motivating behaviour change. It is good at scaring people and making them feel helpless.

    We need wide cultural change, which encompasses both personal and political action, because both are needed. In fact personal change will lead to both cultural and political change, in democracies at least.

    We have enough facts about climate change, we don’t need to forecast the temperature in Berkshire on 25 May, 2037 to know that we need to do something and urgently. What we need are mechanisms that encourage and allow us to act positively.

  24. 24
    David Miller says:

    Regarding NZ supercomputers in #9:

    Does the nature of the GCM’s prevent a widely distributed computing solution? Some problems (factoring) parallelize nicely, but others have data dependencies that preclude distributed CPU’s.

    I’d be more than happy to donate all the idle cycles of my computers to the effort.

  25. 25
    Dennis Baker says:

    Climate Services…..sounds like “double speak” to me!
    Adaptation is not the answer,just another diversion!

    The reality is, Lawyers are calling the shots, based on seen and unforeseen potential liabilities.

    While so called economists, are overly concerned with the wallets of the present beneficiaries of the Fossil Fuel industry, which is neither Capitalist or Democratic. The folks whom benefit at present must either participate in replacement technologies or become the next generation of buggy whip manufactures, this is the type of adaption that Services the Climate.

    Fossil Fuel powered electrical generating facilities are the problem, and replacement is the Adaptation that Services the Climate, and therefore the solution.
    As soon as replacement technologies are available, they will be replaced.
    I will hazard a guess that perhaps one of your learned readers could corroborate: replacement of these facilities alone, globally would reduce emissions to below 1990 levels.

  26. 26
    CM says:

    Re Latif (#15, 16, 22), first check out what he did and didn’t say (PPT, MP3, my notes here and at NS). Second, I think the relevant published work (which I overlooked yesterday) is Keenlyside et al 2008, where Latif and others did indeed suggest that “global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade” or even that there might be a slight cooling relative to the 1994-2004 mean.

  27. 27
    Steve Horstmyer says:

    Does anyone share my opinion that geoengineering is not the way to go. Iron seeding, converting the Sahara and Outback all have hidden consequences. We have conducted too many experiments and though we know more about Earth System science now than in the past we certainly do not know everything.

    I feel the only way to go is to attack the problem at the source.

    How much fossil fuel carbon would be released in trying to convert and maintain a forested Sahara and Outback? How much destruction to natural ecosystems that are in place can we tolerate?

  28. 28

    #22 Gavin (inline)

    I am very much looking forward to that post :)

  29. 29
    Chris Dudley says:

    The sort of prediction I would expect would be the sort attempted here: http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/Library/nationalassessment/foundation.htm

    This is down scaling and can help communities plan water use or future power needs. The thing that international cooperation can help with is not having the predictions stop at the borders as is done in this case. If you look at how devastated Texas is expected to be in this report, one can guess that Mexico will not do well. We might plan for climate refugees if we had better information. The local impinges on foreign policy and knowing better what to expect can only help.

  30. 30

    Philip #11:

    The main cost of “energy to move the water around” is included in the cost to raise it to the average elevation of the Sahara.

    Andrew #12:

    If you look at the driest part of the Outback, which is the part targeted for afforestation, it’s pretty bare.

    And the harvest we mainly focus on is for fuel. As a mature forest develops, a eco-neutral conservation harvest is sustainable with a continuing net primary productivity (NNP), as discussed in my accompanying open access editorial essay:

    http://www.springerlink.com/openurl.asp?genre=article&id=doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9625-z

    Craig Allen #13:

    You should read before you leap.

    The water required if not “found”, but generated by desalination of seawater, at the coast.

    And the driest part of Central Australia – where we site the forest – is pretty darn barren – almost like the Sahara. I suggest you ‘visit’ it with Google Earth!

    If ‘sacrifices’ are required to stem global warming, the almost non-existent ecosystems of the central Sahara and Outback seem like reasonable candidates – compared tothe alternatives. Bala and Caldera have demonstrated that afforestation of temperate deserts (e.g., the US South West) won’t do the job.

  31. 31
    Dan R says:

    Uhm, to anyone considering taking over Australia to plant forests – please factor in the significant cost of buying back the land from the people that own it. Terra Nullius it ain’t. Cheers.

  32. 32

    Timothy wrote in 17:

    “Climate models were originally designed to provide the large picture of our climate system”

    Well,as you go on to say, this is only because doing anything else was not, and may still not be, technically feasible…

    You are taking a position that seems fairly reasonable. However, could you include a last initial with your first name? That is, assuming it isn’t “C.” (It may not be that important, but I have seen someone come through here before with the name “Timothy” and at least one person referred to him as “Timothy Chase.” Come to think of it, last initials might always be nice. That is, unless one’s first name is especially rare.)

  33. 33
    Aaron Lewis says:

    Climate services imply supplying climate forecasts of a quality that can be used for planning. That is big deal and includes legal and social responsibilities. The IPCC referred to a sea level rise of 0.59 meter implying a certain precision and accuracy that was belied when they said ice dynamics could add 0.2 meter to that number.

    If people are relying on your forecasts for planning, then when give a number like “0.59 meter” you really have to mean plus or minus 0.005 meter, or you get sued, big time. This would be an abrupt end to scientific reticence.

    Good climate services would require things like data quality standards. It is going to require using a full range of models, and looking at issues that fall between the cracks of GCM.

    Good climate services would require that the climate service provider can prove that are trained in the skills and have real expertise and training. Having a PhD in rocket science may prove that “a climate scientist” is smart, but it would not stand up in a court of law as proving an understanding of climate services. Publishing may demonstrate knowledge of a specific issue, but it does not stand up in a court of law as proving mastery of the entire field.

    Once you have climate services conforming to known data quality standards and provided by trained professionals, then you have a product with a very high value. The issue is producing forecasts of known quality. This has never been done. Until this can be done – the whole thing is pie in the sky.

    Now, the customer for climate research is the US government, the UN, and a few universities and other NGOs. The market for high quality climate services would include the entire industries of agriculture, transportation, energy, housing, engineering, planning, as well as all of the old buyers of climate research. Corporations are willing to pay highly for forecasts that will stand up in a court of law. Suddenly, there might be some real gold in doing good climate science.

  34. 34

    #23 anna

    I actually brought up that point with conference participants and leaders but I phrased it differently. We need the improved resolution to get a handle on decadal and interdecadal signals in order to provide better climate prediction for users (farmers/residents of affected regions/nations for planning).

    What I said was getting better data is great and will help with relevant climate services, however having better data will not change politicians minds. If our goal is to get political action for mitigation, we need to target the public and policy-makers in order to get them to understand the relevance of the data. Then we get the policy.

    Generally, politicians don’t push things that don’t get them votes. But that is general. I’ve met some politicians willing to tell it like it is. They don’t always stay in office though :(

  35. 35

    #24 David Miller

    The super computers are to process the data and processes to improve the resolution.

    I did discuss with one of the NOAA guys about the shared processing idea and he said there was some discussion of the idea. The only other guys to do that on large scale was the SETI project, I think. But it is feasible.

    After hearing one talk, I spoke with the individual who presented the needs. He was calling for an increase in processing power of 10 petaflops minimum of processing power. 5 for atmosphere and 5 for ocean. He gave some good reasoning for ‘the need for speed’, so to speak. Resolving resolution degradation from 200km to 10km (between observational platforms/systems/methods) was one of them. That made sense.

  36. 36

    #25 Dennis Baker

    I did not meet a single lawyer at the conference. There were a couple insurance folks though, but just a couple as far as I know. There were around 2500 registrants, mostly scientists, ministers and heads of state.

    Everyone took the subject matter and discussions very seriously. The point was to figure out how best to serve the world at large with better climate related information and services.

    Climate services is a part of helping farmers and dealing with disaster prediction or ‘risk management’.

  37. 37

    #26 CM

    I posted a comment right after yours. The title was better before. Now it says it will cool for 10 years and that is simply not predictable, so… weird.

    Also, I noticed the article only has our two comments. It is not linked in the climate section, so maybe no one else is seeing it? Otherwise I would have expected to be attacked already for being a climate loon :)

    I’m going to try to keep up and play a little whack-a-mole over there. I have not been called an idiot in a few weeks so I need my fix ;)

  38. 38

    #27 Steve Horstmyer

    I think that some forms of geo-engineering are more unpractical than others. Most of the proposals are not revealing all the probable costs and ramifications.

    On the other hand, I’m not ruling out things that might help. The reality is that we won’t get out of this unscathed. We may have to do some damage in some areas. The important questions will be how do we do the least damage with the healthiest gain.

  39. 39
    Martin Vermeer says:

    That nonsense again, Aaron? Please.

    The IPCC referred to a sea level rise of 0.59 meter implying a certain precision and accuracy

    When did you last read the IPCC report Aaron? Please do. You would find that they

    1) give a range from 0.26 to 0.59 m,
    2) specify that these bounds are 5th and 95th percentiles, and
    3) this is specifically for the A1FI scenario. Other scenarios produce other ranges, extending further the total uncertainty range.
    4) And then indeed there is this ice flow thingy…

    when give a number like “0.59 meters” you really have to mean plus or minus 0.005 meter

    … unless what you really mean is 0.26 – 0.59 m ;-)

    Scientists of all people have a handle on uncertainty and how to specify it, Aaron. They may not always get it right; but when they don’t, nobody else does either. Not even for money or backed by official looking pieces of paper.

  40. 40
    Curious says:

    #26 CM (Re. Latif):
    Thanks! :)

  41. 41
    Curious says:

    #26 CM (Re. Latif)
    I didn’t know that Latif was co-author of Keenlyside et al 2008. With reference to that paper, you can see:
    http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/5/2/115552/7430
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/the-global-cooling-bet-part-2/

  42. 42
    David B. Benson says:

    Timothy Chase (4) — I wasn’t clear. Is publishing a geo-engineering proposal a climate service? Whatever we call it, just proposals need open consideration. This one has many attractive features, including scalability: one builds just enough of it.

    Others — By using the wide fire breaks in the forest for algae farms, one produces lots of biomass based fuels which can compete directly with fossil fuels. Despite the desalination and water pumping costs, it may be that such a scheme could largely pay its own way and partially make fossil fuel extraction a thing of the past.

    Do recall that several thousand years ago, much of the Sahara was an openwoodland savannah; ecosystems change over time, this would just speed it up. And without this or something similar, the deserts will soon be much to hot for any life forms. So learn to accept that one way or another, things will change.

  43. 43
    BJ_Chippindale says:

    Actually, the difficulty in Oz may be (besides the tribal protests) a thing called “rising salt”

    http://www.science.org.au/nova/032/032key.htm
    http://www.supergreenme.com/go-green-environment-eco:Salinity

    Not saying it isn’t a good idea. Just saying that knowing about this problem before you start IS a good idea.

    :-)

    respectfully
    BJ

  44. 44
    BJ_Chippindale says:

    I think that when the Quantum Computing gets into production there will be an application in terms of climate models. It would be a good thing to keep track of if you are working in this space.

    Just keep them from being completely locked up by the No-Such-Agency people.

    http://tinyurl.com/ks9lgp

    respectfully
    BJ

  45. 45
    Hank Roberts says:

    > that nonsense again

    Ya have to wonder.
    Results …about 1,230 for +Aaron +”0.59″ +climate +IPCC

    They can’t _all_ be this same guy posting this same nonsense.

  46. 46
    BJ_Chippindale says:

    #22

    Anna

    The fact that I find things easy to read and understand doesn’t mean anything. I used to work at JPL as one of the engineers there, and I (like most of the people here I think) am a 4 sigma outlier.

    When I hitch a ride to the train I talk to people who are NOT posting here and who are not able to understand the science at all, but who ARE willing to believe that people are lying to them, because that is something that governments appear to do just for practice.

    Joe Six-Pack isn’t going to “buy” the pronouncements of those pansies in the UN, and he knows damned well that he’s getting shafted. Now the scientists come along and tell him that he’s going to have to pay more for everything, reduce his standard of living and…. oh by the way… Goldman Sachs will make even more money out of this?

    That guy is WAY too ready to reckon it a conspiracy… and he does not have the tools to regard it as anything else. Best book I ever saw on this was written by a non-scientist. “Poles Apart” – Gareth Morgan.

    One of his points (and he is no dummy) was basically that people (and the media) DO NOT understand the science, that it is not explained well AT THEIR LEVEL, and that there needs to be some organization to help them to that understanding.

    I have to agree with Gareth Morgan and I Have to agree that if this function is included in the concept of climate services, it is a very good (if far too late in coming) idea.

    respectfully
    BJ

  47. 47
    Ike Solem says:

    The issue of whether or not politicians are willing to believe in and act on climate projections is nicely illustrated by Hurricane Katrina.

    Climate experts were warning of increased hurricane danger to the aging levees around North Orleans for years before Katrina hit, and there was a near miss in 2004:

    http://www.hurricane.lsu.edu/_in_the_news/phillyinquirer100804.htm

    However, if regional politicians had justified a large budgetary increase for new levees, they’d have to explain why, and that would involve admitting the concerns over global warming-enhanced hurricane seasons, which was politically unpalatable for Louisiana’s large petroleum and petrochemical industries.

    Similarly, could one have used climate predictions to convince the California state government to start doubling their firefighting capacity during summer and fall seasons? What kind of political backlash would the fossil fuel lobby have mounted to claims that more funding was needed due to global warming? Instead, you might hear that global warming is a myth and that the fires are all due to ‘not enough brush being cleared’.

    That’s simply for preventive measures – when it comes to actually switching government contracts and subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables, you have even more resistance.

  48. 48

    My climate service: I called up my senator and said: “The Davenport Iowa paper had an article about the how corn grew slowly this year and got moldy because July and August were so cool and wet. We got rain that was supposed to land on South Texas. South Texas had a drought. Global warming moved the rain. Thus global warming is raising the price of everything made of corn or fed on corn, like chickens, turkeys and beef.”
    They said: “I’ll pass that along to the senator.”

  49. 49
    David B. Benson says:

    Something else for climate services to provide.

    Sunburnt Southern Hemisphere in 2095
    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2009/09/sunburnt_southern_hemisphere_i_1.html
    “Sounds like a climate feedback waiting to be modelled.”

  50. 50
    Dennis Baker says:

    The answer is simple, converting human excrement into hydrogen to replace the fossil fuel powered electrical generating facilities.

    The reality is most of you are afraid of the powerful fossil fuel industry, and cowardice is not one of the human attributes needed at this time of urgency.

    so while the “chickens cluck”, and put on a brave face discussing diversions like they have substance and relevance.

    the brave stand alone


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