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Warmer and warmer

Filed under: — rasmus @ 13 September 2010

Are the heat waves really getting more extreme? This question popped up after the summer of 2003 in Europe, and yet again after this hot Russian summer. The European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), which normally doesn’t make much noise about climate issues, has since made a statement about July global mean temperature being record warm:

Consistent with widespread media reports of extreme heat and adverse impacts in various places, the latest results from ERA-Interim indicate that the average temperature over land areas of the extratropical northern hemisphere reached a new high in July 2010. May and June 2010 were also unusually warm.

Here, the ERA-Interim, also referred to as ‘ERAINT’, is the ECMWF’s state-of-the-art reanalysis. But the ERAINT describes the atmospheric state only since 1989, and in isolation, it is not the ideal data set for making inferences about long-term climate change because it doesn’t go all that far back in time. However, the statement also draws on the longer reanalysis known as the ERA40 re-analysis, spanning the time interval 1957-2002. Thus, taken into context of ERA40, the ECMWF has some legitimacy behind their statement.

The ERAINT reanalysis is a product of all suitable measurements fed into a model of the atmosphere, describing all the known relevant physical laws and processes. Basically, reanalyses represent the most complete and accurate picture that we can give for the day-to-day atmosphere, incorporating all useful information we have (satellites, ground observations, ships, buoys, aircrafts, radiosondes, rawinsondes). They can also be used to reconstruct things at finer spatial and temporal scales than is possible using met station data, based on physical rules provided by weather models.

The reanalyses are closely tied to the measurements at most locations where observations – such as 2-meter temperature, T(2m), or surface pressure – are provided and used in the data assimilation. Data assimilation is a way of making the model follow the observations as closely as possible at the locations where they are provided, hence constraining the atmospheric model. The constraining of the atmospheric model affect the predictions where there are no observations because most of the weather elements – except for precipitation – do not change abruptly over short distance (mathematically, we say that they are described by ‘spatially smooth and slowly changing functions’).

There are also locations – notably the in the Polar regions and over Africa – where ground-based measurements are sparse, and where much is left for the weather models to predict without observational constraints. In such regions, the description may be biased by model shortcomings, and different reanalysis may provide a different regional picture of the surface conditions. Surface variables such as T(2m) are strongly affected by their environment, which may be represented differently in different weather models (e.g. different spatial resolution implies different altitudes) and therefore is a reason for differences between reanalyses.

Furthermore, soil moisture may affect T(2m), linking temperature to precipitation. The energy flow (heat fluxes) between the ground/lakes/sea and the atmosphere may also affect surface temperatures. However, both precipitation and heat fluxes are computed by the reanalysis atmosphere model without direct constraints, and are therefore only loosely tied to the observations fed into the models. Furthermore, both heat fluxes and precipitation can vary substantially over short distances, and are often not smooth spatial functions.

While the evidence suggesting more extremely high temperatures are mounting over time, the number of resources offering data is also growing. Some of these involve satellite borne remote sensing instruments, but many data sets do not incorporate such data.

In the book “A Vast Machine“, Paul N. Edwards discusses various types of data and how all data involve some type of modelling, even barometers and thermometers. It also provides an account on the observational network, models, and the knowledge we have derived from these. Myles Allen has written a review of this book in Nature, and I have reviewed it for Physics World (subscription required for the latter).

All data need to be screened though a quality control, to eliminate misreadings, instrument failure, or other types of errors. A typical screening criterion is to check whether e.g. the temperature estimated by satellite remote sensing is unrealistically high, but sometimes such screening may also throw out valid data, such as was the case of the Antarctic ozone hole. Such post-processing is done differently in analyses, satellite measurements, and reanalyses.

The global mean temperature estimated from the ERAINT, however, is not very different from other analyses or reanalyses (see figure below) for the time they overlap. We also see a good agreement between the ERA40 reanalysis, the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis, and the traditional datasets – analyses – of gridded temperature (GISTEMP, HadCRUT3v, NCDC).

Do the ERAINT and ERA40 provide a sufficient basis for making meaningful
inferences about extreme temperatures and unprecedented heat waves? An important point with reanalyses, is that the model used doesn’t change over the time spanned by the analysis, but reanalyses are generally used with caution for climate change studies because the number and type of observations being fed into the computer model changes over time. Changes in the number of observations and instruments is also an issue affecting the more traditional analyses.

Since the ERAINT only goes as far back as 1989, it involves many modern satellite-borne remote sensing measurements, and it is believed that there are less problems with observational network discontinuity after this date than in the earlier days. It may be more problematic studying trends in the ERA40 data, due to huge improvements in the observational platforms between 1958 and now. Hence, it is important also to look at individual long-term series of high quality. These series have to be ‘homogeneous’, meaning that they need to reflect the local climate variable consistently through its span, not being affected by changes in the local environment, instrumentation, and measurement practices.

An analysis I published in 2004, looking at how often record-high monthly temperatures recur, indicated that record-breaking monthly mean temperature have been more frequent that they would have been if the climate were not getting hotter. This analysis supports the ECMWF statement, and was based on a few high-quality temperature series scattered across our planet, chosen to be sufficiently far from each other to minimize mutual dependencies that can bias the analysis.

The ECMWF provides data for some climate indices, such as the global mean temperature, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a web site for extreme temperatures and precipitation around the world with an interactive map, showing the warmest and coldest sites on the continents. Another useful tool is the KNMI ClimateExplorer, where people can both access data and carry out different analyses on line. It is also possible to get climate data on your iPhone/iPod Touch through Apps like Climate Mobile.

Update: I just learned that NOAA recently has launched a Climate Services Portal on www.climate.gov.

Update: http://rimfrost.no/ is another site that provides station-based climate data. The site shows linear trends estimated for the last 50 years.


532 Responses to “Warmer and warmer”

  1. 201
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Um, Rod? This:

    EPA’s reliance on the IPCC’s assessment to make a decision of this magnitude is not
    legally supported. Since the Endangerment Finding’s public comment period ended in
    June, 2009, troubling revelations about the conduct, objectivity, reliability, and propriety
    of the IPCC’s processes, assessments, and contributors have become public. Previously
    private email exchanges among top IPCC climatologists reveal an entrenched group of
    activists focused less on reaching an objective scientific conclusion than on achieving
    their desired outcome. These scientists worked to prevent contravening studies from
    being published, colluded to hide research flaws, and collaborated to obstruct the public’s
    legal right to public information under open records laws.

    Appears on page 2 of the Petition for Reconsideration. I’d say that qualifies as attacking the science.

    Perhaps you can provide a link to the document you cite?

  2. 202
    Brian Dodge says:

    “SecularAnimist, I don’t know what filing you’re reading but what you write in 194 has virtually no resemblance to the Texas filing.”

    Maybe the Texas State Attorney General’s website? (Not that I’m suggesting that a government agency might misrepresent their own actions for political reasons.)

    http://www.oag.state.tx.us/oagnews/release.php?id=3484
    “The State explained that the IPCC – and therefore the EPA – relied on flawed science to conclude that greenhouse emissions endanger public health and welfare. Because the Administration predicated its Endangerment Finding on the IPCC’s questionable reports, the State is seeking to prevent the EPA’s new Rules – and the economic harm that will result from those regulations – from being imposed on Texas employers, workers and enforcement agencies.”

  3. 203
    Thomas says:

    Hank @200.
    I think the net energy stored in surface gravity waves is not very large. As an example, half the energy in a wave field should be graviational potential energy. So if I take as an example, a square wave 2M high (+/- 1meter over/under mean sea level), I calculate 19.6e3 Joules per meter squared of ocean. Now how many joules are needed to heat a column 1 meter squared that is 100 meters deep by say 1C? I’m getting something like 4.e9 (if I did my back of the envelope right). Wave energy should go as wave height squared, so a modest increase in average wave height (if it really checks out) might bea bit greater than that, but it will still be orders of magnitude lower than the thermal energy change. Wave energy, if it is increasing will be important for such things as beach erosion, ocean mixing, and marine safety, but it doesn’t represent an important sink of excess energy.

  4. 204
    Edward Greisch says:

    Professor Benestad, R. E.: “An analysis I published in 2004, looking at how often record-high monthly temperatures recur, indicated that record-breaking monthly mean temperature have been more frequent that they would have been if the climate were not getting hotter.”
    Your link leads to only the abstract. Please give us the whole paper. I was thinking that there had to be a way to do that and I think I am too rusty in statistics to do it right. It has been 40 years since my last statistics course.

  5. 205
    AmmasRajeswari says:

    @180 – Wow. This trip is incredible. I am in awe of your courage and commitment to the issue of the melting polar ice caps. I have seen so many stories about this over the summer. Baby walruses and baby polar bears even drowning because there is not enough ice for them to find a resting place. It blows my mind. And everything that is happening there will have a ripple effect on the rest of the planet.

    But the thing I really like about this particular campaign is that it is based on the fact that we can create positive change. It is not doom and gloom and focused on the negative. Your approach is hope-based. I really resonate with and respect that.

    Thank you for doing this.

  6. 206
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Republican Plan: Deprive Dem Programs of Cash…
    - Wall Street Journal -

    “Eyeing a potential Congressional win in November, House Republicans are planning to chip away at the White House’s legislative agenda—in particular the health-care law—by depriving the programs of cash.”

    The writing is on the wall for climate science.

    Defund, Defund, Defund.

    5th District GOP hopefuls would defund EPA

    http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/cdp-news-local/2010/jan/23/5th_district_gop_hopefuls_would_defund_epa_cut_tax-ar-83961/

    Standing Up to the EPA’s Power Grab – Fox News

    “However, the Senate can make another attempt with an appropriations rider that would defund the EPA’s global warming efforts. A vote on just that was expected in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, but the Democratic leaders — who feared it would pass — have now delayed it indefinitely. We need to keep the pressure on.”

  7. 207
  8. 208
    Rod B says:

    I was referring to the Texas filing filed just a few days ago as reported here in this thread. It can be downloaded from
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/37561963/TX-Attorney-General-Motion-to-Stay-EPA%E2%80%99S-Endangerment-Finding . (and I suppose the AG’s site… Sorry I don’t know how to put links in shorthand.)

    However, it turns out that there are many filings. The major Texas filing made in FEB10 was indeed to overturn the EPA’s finding of GHG endangerment and called the science into question very strongly. I suspect some of the comments here were referring to this Feb filing, and would guess that their comments and quotes were accurate to that. My comments were accurate to the SEP10 filing.

  9. 209
    Russell says:

    As it once again be International Talk Like a Pirate Day , here be the latest scuttlebut on pirate change , freshly forked out o’ Cap’n Watts crows nest and translated by a smart as paint computer model :

    McKitrick: Understandin’ th’ Climategate Inquiries
    Posted on Septembree 15, 2010 by Anthony Watts
    By Commodore Ross McKitrick, Ph.D
Professor o’ Climate Piracy, Guelph of’ Canada
    Introduction
    News broke on or around 19 Novembree 2009 that a large archive o’ emails an’ semaphores from th’ Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in th’ UK had been released on th’ internet. Th’ contents o’ th’ files be a wee bit disconcertin’ t’ th’ public, governments an’ university administrations that a number o’ inquiries be established. Several o’ me research projects be discussed nay only in th’ so-called “Climategate” emails they’s self, but also in th’ investigations, an’ I made detailed submissions o’ evidence t’ three o’ th’ panels.
    Consequently me takes considerable interest in th’ outcome o’ these inquiries, especially wi’ regards t’ whether they approached th’ issues impartially, investigated thoroughly an’ drew valid conclusions that fully reflected th’ Code of the Coast .
    As o’ 30 Augst 2010 all five had issued the’r affadavys. Th’ overall impression that be created be that th’ scientists an’ the’r work be all Bristol fashion. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Cap’n Rajendra Pachauri declared in a recent interview1
    “th’ doubts raised be havin’ proved t’ be unfounded.”
    Considerable reliance be bein’ placed upon th’ outcome o’ these investigations. As I will
show, fer th’ most part th’ inquiries be flawed, but ‘ere they actually functioned as proper inquiries, they upheld many a Black Spot. But a surprisin’ number o’ issues be sidestepped or hook snagged. Th’ world still awaits a proper inquiry into climategate: one that be nay stacked wi’ global warmin’ advocates, an’ one that be prepared t’ cross-examine evidence, interview critics as well as lubbers aboard o’ th’ CRU an’ other IPCC players, an’ follow th’ affadavys ‘ere ‘they clearly leads.

    Altogether thar be five inquiries or Cap’ns Masts , conducted by, respectively, Th’ UK House o’ Commons Science an’ Technology Committee, Th’ Oxburgh panel, th’ Independent Climate Change Emails Review under Sir Muir Russell, Penn State University an’ th’ InterAcademy Council. Th’ first three be established in th’ UK an’ focused on scientists at th’ CRU. Th’ fourth be focused on Michael Mann o’ Penn State University, a major correspondent in th’ Climategate archive. Th’ fifth be
commissioned by th’ IPCC itself as a review o’ its policies an’ procedures.
    Many accusations an’ t’windward pissings began flyin’ around durin’ th’ uproar after th’ climategate emails be released. I would distill th’ main concerns down t’ th’ followin’ questions.
    1. Did th’ scientists involved in th’ email exchangesrun up false flags in IPCC or World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports so as t’ mislead readers, includin’ policymakers?
    2. Did th’ scientists involved delete emails or other documents related t’ th’ IPCC process in order t’ prevent disclosure o’ information subject t’ Dead Man’s Chest laws?
    3. Did th’ scientists involved in th’ email exchanges express greater doubts or uncertainties about th’ science in the’r own professional writings an’ in the’r interactions wi’ one another than they allowed t’ be stated in reports o’ th’ IPCC or WMO that be intended fer Admiralty?
    4. Did th’ scientists involved in th’ email exchanges take steps swabbiely or in collusion t’ block access t’ data or methodologies in order t’ prevent holystoning o’ the’r work?
    5. Did th’ scientists involved in th’ email exchanges take steps swabbiely or in collusion t’ block publication o’ papers, or make to flog or keelhaul journals, in order t’ prevent rival scientific evidence from bein’ published? ( Cap’n Wegman being excepted, as papers are piped aboard his flagship by invitayshun only)
    Me examination o’ th’ Climategate inquiries centers on th’ extent t’ which they succeeded in providin’ credible answers t’ th’ above questions. As be shown, th’ various inquiries reviewed evidence that leads t’ an affirmative answer in each case, an’ in many cases th’ inquiries they’s self report affirmative answers, yet they bunked such conclusions in terms that gave th’ opposite impression. In other cases they simply port th’ questions unanswered. In some cases they avoided th’ issues by lookin’ instead at irrelevant questions.
    Two further questions follow from these, pointin’ t’ issues larger than Climategate itself, which many swabbies be havin’ asked in th’ wake o’ th’ inquiries.
    6. Be th’ IPCC a reliable source o’ sailin information ( never mind them anecdotal hurracanoes ) ?
    7. Be th’ science concernin’ th’ current concerns about trade wind change sound?
    I will return t’ these questions in th’ concludin’ section t’ show that th’ inquiries support a negative answer t’ th’ former an’ be uninformative on th’ latter.
    Jack Tar can read th’ complete report nary t’be confounded with the TAR them lubberly IPCC scriveners scrimshanded here (PDF)

  10. 210
    Roddy Campbell says:

    159 Tom Curtis says, in reply to mine

    Tom, I’m utterly lost – maybe I’ve over-interpreted as you say, maybe you weren’t clear, maybe I’m thick, I have no idea, but you can’t say that you WEREN’T suggesting at least a strong possibility of ideological blinkers for Pielke Jr and Curry can you? That, imho, is the only ‘natural’ reading of what you wrote.

    I meant Zorita on the Hockey Stick, as per his review of McShane and Wyner, I think on Klimazwiebel, not on Curry, apologies not clear.

    Taking Curry as a whole, ie her past posts as well as her comments, and her own blog website, yes I would say that she demonstrates ‘… careful consideration of the issues and reasonable discussion’; I don’t think you should base your opinion on her on either the comments thread at RC on a Hockey Stick post, or on a Deltoid summing-up of that.

    ‘As to Pielke, you only responded to one of the two examples provided’ – I wrote a previous longer reply, but it vanished or was moderated.

    ‘With regard to the one you did respond to …..’ – I just think it’s a trivial issue, and he corrected it, at least according to Lambert he did.

    Anyway, cheers.

  11. 211
    Edward Greisch says:

    151 Kevin McKinney: Thanks for those URLs. I downloaded papers. I see that one is by a statistician, so we do have statisticians working on the climate problems.

    I just read Rasmus Benestad’s paper “A Simple Test for Changes in Statistical Distributions”. I liked it. His i.i.d.-test looks very good for detecting these changes in climate. Is “proving” too strong a word? The paper is short and easily readable. I could wish for a clickable application software, but that would be too much to ask for. Application of the i.i.d.-test to many cases around the world should be very useful in showing people that they are experiencing GW.

  12. 212
    Edward Greisch says:

    174 Septic Matthew: Yes, I think people who are better educated in science could write an equal or better constitution and bill of rights. I didn’t say students shouldn’t study history and social sciences. Sociobiology will eventually write ethical equations.

    English Literature has saddled itself with Freud and Freud fudged his data. English Literature is as wrong as Freud was.

  13. 213
    Edward Greisch says:

    190 Craig Nazor: I have no objection to children studying music and I didn’t say anything about dropping music. I advocated ADDING a lot more science to the curriculum. I would lengthen the school year and air condition the schools to make it possible. English Literature was the only course I ever took that interfered with my learning science. I found gym class to be a source of allergens. Students prove they can communicate by texting each other. I would drop Literature and Gym. I assume laboratory classrooms would have to be built. Whatever else must be changed I did not say.

    207 Rick Brown: Thanks for the URL.

  14. 214

    Re Hank, #200–Yes, I hear the author interviewed on NPR’s “Living On Earth,” and pricked up my ears a bit. I was thinking about the potential value of wave heights as proxy for temps, not the energy stored–is it really possible that that’s significant relative to the thermal energy?

    On the former point I note this bit in the NYT story:

    “She pushes the scientists on the big question: Will global warming lead to stormier oceans and bigger waves? With varying degrees of hesitation — because the data is not in to confirm a long-term trend, not because they are global- warming deniers — the answer is a resounding yes. (Though, as one attendee pointed out, “you’re not going to be able to prove it until it’s too late.”)”

    My search happened to bring me in at Ch.10, on ship safety–an interesting discussion relevant to trends in ship losses–but the index and TOC are functional (in Safari at least) so you should be able to navigate pretty well–to use an apropos metaphor.

    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11635&page=216

    Well, damn.

    I remember seeing this back in January:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100125123233.htm

    And this report on the regional (ie., South African coast) impact of climate change on wave height is interesting. A quote:

    “Although ships are generally well-equipped for the severe wave conditions of the southern Atlantic, damage to ships does occur, especially on the South-east coast where the South-westerly waves interact with the strong, opposing, South-west flowing Agulhas current (Figure 3). The wave-current interaction result in an amplification of the waves, which infrequently leads to the creation of a gigantic or freak wave. This wave consists of a long trough, followed by a steep wave front, which can damage vessels severely. From the available literature it appears uncertain at this stage whether climate change effects will significantly strengthen or reduce the Rossouw and Theron: Port and maritime climate change impacts – SA coast Agulhas current (or increase storminess off the SA southeast coast), and thereby reduce or increase the risk “freak” waves pose to shipping.”

    Ah, caveats! They also find that so far, mean wave heights for their study region are not increasing–though there is a weak indication that storms may be increasing in wave intensity.

    Another, previous book–Extreme Waves, by Craig Smith–available online deals with most of the same issues as the one reviewed. I found this passage interesting:

    “Today, satellite observations of the oceans are leading to improved understanding of swell patterns throughout the year. By using satellite-based altimeters to measure wave height and by making simultaneous satellite determinations of wind speed, global swell probability maps can be constructed. These maps indicate a northward trend in ocean swell patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. This is thought to be due to the northward propagation of strong swells produced by winter storms in the southern hemisphere during the austral winter. Meanwhile, the swells in the Indian Ocean tend to extend southward in spring and westward in winter, but diminish in area during the summer.” (p. 125)

    (Unfortunately, the link to the reference wasn’t working, so I didn’t find the source for that info.)

    Hadley Cell expansion, anyone?

    Extreme Waves also has a good discussion of the physics & math of ocean waves, nicely pitched for the average RC reader, IMO. Beware, though; the susceptible may spend way too much time checking it out, as I did!

  15. 215

    Oops–in a bizarre cut-and-paste accident, what should have been my final paragraph plus the link to Extreme Waves got transposed.

    Final paragraph:

    “My search happened to bring me in at Ch.10, on ship safety–an interesting discussion relevant to trends in ship losses–but the index and TOC are functional (in Safari at least) so you should be able to navigate pretty well–to use an apropos metaphor.”

    Misplaced, this paragraph now separates “you’re not going to be able to prove it until it’s too late” and my reaction to that thought: “Well, damn.”

    Apologies.

  16. 216

    #210–you’re very welcome Edward; glad those were helpful.

    #206–scary stuff, Vendicar. Not content to insert their own heads into the sand, these folks are now attempting to shove everybody else’s heads under, too.

  17. 217
    grypo says:

    I’m curious to get a reaction to this paper. :)
    Warming of Global Abyssal and Deep Southern Ocean Waters Between
    the 1990s and 2000s: Contributions to Global Heat and Sea Level Rise
    Budgets
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/people/gjohnson/Recent_AABW_Warming_v3.pdf

  18. 218
    Paul Tremblay says:

    Edward:

    >>English Literature has saddled itself with Freud and Freud fudged his data. English Literature is as wrong as Freud was.

    My background is in literature, and I can tell you you don’t know what you are talking about. It is such a bizarre statement I don’t know where to begin. How exactly has literature “saddled” itself, whatever that vague phrase means?

    Do you realize the absolute wide range of literature written since the 20th century, most of which doesn’t even bother with Freud, for very good reasons–and if you don’t know why, you shouldn’t be posting with the authority that you do. I have read every Pulitzer novel in the last 40 years, and off the top of my head I can’t think of a single one based on Freud’s theories.

    Then there is the literature written before Freud, a great deal in fact, and a lot of still good and relevant. Is this somehow “saddled,” too?

    Then there is the problem of trying to reduce literature down to a single idea. For example, much of Shakespeare concerns itself with the divine right of kings. But no one speaks of Shakespeare being “saddled” with this idea. Instead, we read it for the totality of the ideas, the characters, the character development, etc.

    (As a side note, I wasn’t aware that Freud “fudged” his data–I thought he really didn’t have much data to begin with?)

    You might want to learn and think about the things you criticize, especially if you are going to make such sweeping judgments on their value.

  19. 219
    Septic Matthew says:

    205, Edward Greisch: “An analysis I published in 2004, looking at how often record-high monthly temperatures recur, indicated that record-breaking monthly mean temperature have been more frequent that they would have been if the climate were not getting hotter.”

    At the 2010 Joint Statistical Meetings in Vancouver, B.C. there were two sessions of invited papers on this topic of modeling and judging extremes. The papers will be published online eventually at this web site:

    http://www.amstat.org/meetings/jsm/2010/index.cfm?fuseaction=proceedings

    FWIW, I attended the sessions and I think that the papers represent a substantial advance over what has been done to date. However, they suffer from the same problem as everyone else: namely, the recorded data of the past is usually not sufficiently accurate to determine what the extremes were.

  20. 220
    David B. Benson says:

    Edward Greisch @210 — i.i.d.?

  21. 221
    deconvoluter says:

    #211 and #217

    Freud fudged his data.

    I thought he really didn’t have much data to begin with?)

    The only way these remarks are remotely relevant is that they show that anti-climatologists are not the only people capabable of coming to sweeping conclusions about an area they know very little about. End of topic.

  22. 222
    Jay B. says:

    I also believe that the wide public won’t examine all numbers and statements in details. Many people can feel the differences in climates by sudden weather changes. The temperature rises since 1950 and it is culminating now. We should have to try to mitigate the impact on the nature caused by human’s activity.

  23. 223
    Anonymous Coward says:

    For the new people here: Ed Greisch has a history of posting outrageous off-topic stuff. Don’t get worked up about it. He makes more sense when he talks about purely scientific or technical issues.

  24. 224
    David B. Benson says:

    deconvoluter @221 — The physics of climate is sufficiently simple that even I, after some study I admit, understand it.

  25. 225
    Edward Greisch says:

    217 Paul Tremblay: I was required to take 1 literature course freshman year in college. This subject is not interesting and not climate science.

  26. 226
    Dan says:

    re: 206 and EPA

    EPA Proposes Rules on Clean Air Act Permitting for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Release date: 08/12/2010

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing two rules to ensure that businesses planning to build new, large facilities or make major expansions to existing ones will be able to obtain Clean Air Act permits that address their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the spring of 2010, EPA finalized the GHG Tailoring Rule, which specifies that beginning in 2011, projects that will increase GHG emissions substantially will require an air permit. Today’s rules will help ensure that these sources will be able to get those permits regardless of where they are located.

    The Tailoring Rule covers large industrial facilities like power plants and oil refineries that are responsible for 70 percent of the GHGs from stationary sources. The proposals announced today are a critical component for implementing the Tailoring Rule and would ensure that GHG emissions from these large facilities are minimized in all 50 states and that local economies can continue to grow.

    The Clean Air Act requires states to develop EPA-approved implementation plans that include requirements for issuing air permits. When federal permitting requirements change, as they did after EPA finalized the GHG Tailoring Rule, states may need to modify these plans.

    In the first rule, EPA is proposing to require permitting programs in 13 states to make changes to their implementation plans to ensure that GHG emissions will be covered. All other states that implement an EPA-approved air permitting program must review their existing permitting authority and inform EPA if their programs do not address GHG emissions.

    Because some states may not be able to develop and submit revisions to their plans before the Tailoring Rule becomes effective in 2011, in the second rule, EPA is proposing a federal implementation plan, which would allow EPA to issue permits for large GHG emitters located in these states. This would be a temporary measure that is in place until the state can revise its own plan and resume responsibility for GHG permitting.

    States are best-suited to issue permits to sources of GHG emissions and have long-standing experience working together with industrial facilities. EPA will work closely and promptly with states to help them develop, submit, and approve necessary revisions to enable the affected states to issue air permits to GHG-emitting sources. Additionally, EPA will continue to provide guidance and act as a resource for the states as they make the various required permitting decisions for GHG emissions.

    EPA will accept comment on the first proposal for updated state implementation plans for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA has scheduled a hearing on the second proposal for the federal implementation plan on August 25, 2010, and will accept comment for 30 days after that hearing. The agency is working to finalize these rules prior to January 2, 2011, the earliest GHG permitting requirements will be effective.

  27. 227
    John E. Pearson says:

    218: Paul said something about something that Ed said:

    You’re familiar with Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox? There are A LOT of tar babies on the internet. Even on RC. There are tons of tar babies posted by various denialists on RC. (NB: EG is NOT a denialist.) My guess is that the moderators, in the interest of “balance” allow the tar baby posters to post their tar babies no matter how idiotic. Or perhaps they only allow a small fraction of the tar babies through and delete that vast majority of them. Who knows?

  28. 228
    John E. Pearson says:

    Damn. I meant to post only this front page above the fold article in the NYT but instead got sidetracked into posting about brers rabbit and fox. Anyhoo climate science above the fold:

    Extreme Heat Puts Coral Reefs at Risk, Forecasts Say

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/science/earth/21coral.html?hp

  29. 229
    Eli Rabett says:

    In 212 Edward Greisch replies to Sceptic Matthew in 174 about the writers of the US Constitution. However both make a major mistake in believing that the people who actually wrote the US Constitution had no experience of science. A major counter-example that springs to mind is Benjamin Franklin. Another turns out to be Hugh Williamson. It would be surprising if many of the others had not at least read a few science books and discussed them. OTOH, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford was a scientist and a Tory.

  30. 230
    Vaibhav says:

    Very informative article! The article makes it clear that the temperature across the globe is rising. As said by NCAR scientist John Fasullo “Global warming at its heart is driven by an imbalance of energy: more solar energy is entering the atmosphere than leaving it..” Melting of ice sheets & glaciers, heavy rainfall, rising sea-levels across the globe are some of the examples of impacts of raising temperature.

    I think it is high time we started taking nature and our planet earth seriously and do our bit about environment, sustainability, climate change, biodiversity, clean energy, green living and so on. One great place to start would be http://www.elpis.com. Elpis is an online community focused on responsible living and sustainable growth. You can measure, reduce and offset your carbon footprint; set up petitions, volunteering and fundraising projects for your favourite causes; help create action plans for sustainable communities; buy a range of eco friendly products and services; and network with other people who share a common interest in a low carbon, responsible lifestyle.

  31. 231

    Ed, I appreciate your comments on AGW, but please stay off English lit. My wife has an M.S. in the subject, and is a published poet as well. There’s a lot of good English lit and a lot to say about it, even if the course you took wasn’t enjoyable.

  32. 232
    Hank Roberts says:

    > science … Constitution

    good GRIEF, y’all.

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/jefferson/ch07.html
    “QUERY VII

    A notice of all what can increase the progress of human knowledge?

    Climate Under the latitude of this query, I will presume it not improper nor unacceptable to furnish some data for estimating the climate of Virginia. Journals of observations on the quantity of rain, and degree of heat, being lengthy, confused, and too minute to produce general and distinct ideas, I have taken five years observations, to wit, from 1772 to 1777, made in Williamsburgh and its neighbourhood, have reduced them to an average for every month in the year, and stated those averages in the following table, adding an analytical view of the winds during the same period.

    The rains of every month, (as of January for instance) through the whole period of years, were added separately, and an average drawn from them. The coolest and warmest point of the same day in each year of the period were added separately, and an average of the greatest cold and greatest heat of that day, was formed. From the averages of every day in the month, a general average for the whole month was formed. The point from which the wind blew was observed two or three times in every day. These observations, in the month of January for instance, through the whole period amounted to 337. At 73 of these, the wind was from the North; at 47, from the North-east, &c. So that it will be easy to see in what proportion each wind usually prevails in each month: or, taking the whole year, the total of observations through the whole period having been 3698, it will be observed that 611 of them were from the North, 558 from the North-east, &c.

    Though by this table it appears we have on an average 47 inches of rain annually, which is considerably more than usually falls in Europe, yet from the information I have collected, I suppose we have a much greater proportion of sunshine here than there. Perhaps it will be found there are twice as many cloudy days in the middle parts of Europe, as in the United States of America. ….
    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/jefferson/VII_1.jpg

    In an extensive country, it will of course be expected that the climate is not the same in all its parts. …. In the summer of 1779, when the thermometer was at 90 degrees. at Monticello, and 96 at Williamsburgh, it was 110 degrees. at Kaskaskia. Perhaps the mountain, which overhangs this village on the North side, may, by its reflexion, have contributed somewhat to produce this heat. The difference of temperature of the air at the sea coast, or on Chesapeak bay, and at the Alleghaney, has not been ascertained; but cotemporary observations, made at Williamsburgh, or in its neighbourhood, and at Monticello, which is on the most eastern ridge of mountains, called the South West, where they are intersected by the Rivanna, have furnished a ratio by which that difference may in some degree be conjectured. These observations make the difference between Williamsburgh and the nearest mountains, at the position before mentioned, to be on an average 6 1/8 degrees of Farenheit’s thermometer. Some allowance however is to be made for the difference of latitude between these two places, the latter being 38 degrees.8′.17″. which is 52′.22″. North of the former. By cotemporary observations of between five and six weeks, the averaged and almost unvaried difference of the height of mercury in the barometer, at those two places, was .784 of an inch, the atmosphere at Monticello being so much the lightest, that is to say, about 1/37 of its whole weight. It should be observed, however, that the hill of Monticello is of 500 feet perpendicular height above the river which washes its base. This position being nearly central between our northern and southern boundaries, and between the bay and Alleghaney, may be considered as furnishing the best average of the temperature of our climate. Williamsburgh is much too near the South-eastern corner to give a fair idea of our general temperature.

    But a more remarkable difference is in the winds which prevail in the different parts of the country. The following table exhibits a comparative view of the winds prevailing at Williamsburgh, and at Monticello…..

    ___________
    Clearly, more history study would be appropriate.

  33. 233
    SecularAnimist says:

    Eli Rabett wrote: “Edward Greisch replies to Sceptic Matthew in 174 about the writers of the US Constitution. However both make a major mistake in believing that the people who actually wrote the US Constitution had no experience of science.”

    Regarding the “experience of science” that the authors of the Constitution had, it is worth noting that the very word “scientist” did not even exist at the time — that term was not coined until decades later. According to Wikipedia:

    English philosopher and historian of science William Whewell coined the term scientist in 1833, and it was first published in Whewell’s anonymous 1834 review of Mary Somerville’s On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences published in the Quarterly Review. Whewell’s suggestion of the term was partly satirical, a response to changing conceptions of science itself in which natural knowledge was increasingly seen as distinct from other forms of knowledge. Whewell wrote of “an increasing proclivity of separation and dismemberment” in the sciences; while highly specific terms proliferated — chemist, mathematician, naturalist — the broad term “philosopher” was no longer satisfactory to group together those who pursued science, without the caveats of “natural” or “experimental” philosopher. Members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science had been complaining about the lack of a good term at recent meetings, Whewell reported in his review; alluding to himself, he noted that “some ingenious gentleman proposed that, by analogy with artist, they might form [the word] scientist, and added that there could be no scruple in making free with this term since we already have such words as economist, and atheist — but this was not generally palatable”.

    Whewell proposed the word again more seriously (and not anonymously) in his 1840 The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences: “We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist. Thus we might say, that as an Artist is a Musician, Painter, or Poet, a Scientist is a Mathematician, Physicist, or Naturalist.”

    The Wikipedia article goes on to note that the term “scientist” only “became a common term in the late 19th century in the United States and around the turn of the 20th century in Great Britain” — a century after the Constitution was written.

    At the time the Constitution was written, what we think of today as “science” was still regarded as “natural philosophy”, and its subject matter and methods were not yet as distinct from other realms of human thought and experience as is the case today.

  34. 234
    Rod B says:

    Dan sums up the current EPA-GHG situation pretty good, though it has an expected spin that implies the EPA really knows what it’s doing — which begs reality. Just for the record:

    The “Tailoring Rule” is how EPA gets around the Clean Air Act (CAA) which requires permitting for any stationary source that emits 100 or 250 (depending on class) tons of a pollutant each year. When GHGs were thrown in, the sites requiring permits went from maybe a couple hundred to maybe tens of thousands each year (with each permit requiring 12-18 months to process.) The tailoring rule boosts the limit to (most cases) 100,000 tons/yr. This might alleviate some of the administrative burden. However, it is patently illegal, as the 100-250 numbers are explicit in the CAA.

    The Tailoring Rule itself is an outgrowth of CAA requirements (like Prevention of Significant Deteriation) that regulations from one source must be applied to other potentially “harmful” sources. EPA made their (so far) Endangerment finding only for new mobile motor vehicles, and BTW, they met their desires with the new (joint) NHTSA mileage standards. But…., OOPS… turns out it applies to any GHG emission source.

    Then there is the neat ‘timing’ issue. It seems the EPA is proud that they will “…finalize these rules prior to January 2, 2011,” ignoring that States can take up to two years to change their procedures — some of which are law and require legislative action (like Texas’ permitting fee of $34/ton of pollutant per year) — though by ruling they have to be in effect by 1-2-11 — the date picked for new tailpipe standards (though with those it actually refers to a model year.) EPA’s arithmetic needs work.

    There is a question (to be sorted out some way) over whether these new permits can be issued at all in areas that do not have EPA established air quality standards. Most geographic areas do not have such standards; no area has GHG standards.

    This is just some of the morass, but other stuff hasn’t been mentioned and is OT.

  35. 235
    Ike Solem says:

    @Vaibhav, you’re better off focusing on political efforts to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, than on “offsetting your personal carbon footprint.”

    The reason is that the fossil carbon that’s causing the problem is produced by the global and national fuel & electricity system, which currently relies mostly on fossil fuels to meet those needs.

    Taking those global and national systems off fossil fuels requires providing a renewable alternative, and that’s technically feasible. The only reason it hasn’t happened already is because of the coordinated political activity of fossil fuel interests.

    The mechanisms such interests use are many – influencing election outcomes by injecting huge sums of money into them (see the NYT editorial on the KOch Brothers and AB32, for example), installing fossil fuel employees in government bureaucracies (BP’s ex-chief scientist is currently Head of Science at the DOE, one Steve Koonin, also of Caltech – welcome to the fossil fuel-academic complex), and distorting science to fit their agenda (witness the endless fraudulent claims about zero-emission combustion, despite the persistent absence of any stand-alone prototypes.)

    Hence, if you want to change directions, you have to influence the politics – you have to work to prevent the Koch Brothers from destroying California renewable energy initiatives, you have to work to eliminate federal subsidies and liability caps for fossil fuel projects (which would mean that oil drillers would have to post $10 billion bonds for every deepwater project they initiated), and – for academic scientists – you have to lobby your academic administrators to cut their ties with shady fossil fuel interests like BP and Exxon, and work to open renewable energy research institutes at America’s leading universities.

    Your best partners in this effort are likely clean-tech energy companies. A few university engineering and ecological experts may be willing to help, but most university administrators are still dead set against renewable energy. In California, this is seen in the close ties between Stanford and Exxon, and the University of California and BP. Even state universities like CSU Bakersfield are pushing nonsense on behalf of the fossil fuel lobby:

    http://www.examiner.com/environmental-news-in-bakersfield/csub-to-host-carbon-capture-sequestration-workshop-oct-1

    You really have to wonder what about the state of American academics when that kind of fraudulent garbage is promoted at leading universities – universities that persistently refuse to install their own renewable energy systems, solar panels, or biofuel transportation.

    Of course, planting an vegetable garden and installing solar panels on your roof is a great idea, but that alone will do nothing at all to change global fossil fuel consumption – someone else will burn your share.

    Your other recommendation, purchasing bogus “offsets” for your fossil fuel emissions is worse than useless – that’s just a smoke-and-mirrors game – the fossil CO2 isn’t removed from the atmosphere because you bought into a artful scam. That’s been shown for sulfur too – they just dumped the sulfur into the ship bunker fuel fraction, is all. However, there’s nowhere to dump the fossil CO2 but the atmosphere. Capturing it and pumping it into the ground costs too much energy – quite a bit more than the fuel itself can generate.

    Thus, if you’re not willing to publicly admit that fossil fuel combustion will have to be eliminated and replaced with renewable energy, then you should do some more thinking and reading. Falling for clean coal, carbon offsets, and similar implausible approaches only sabotages real efforts at making such a transition.

  36. 236
    Septic Matthew says:

    229, Eli Rabett: However both make a major mistake in believing that the people who actually wrote the US Constitution had no experience of science.

    Most of the people who wrote the Constitution had little education in science: Madison, Hamilton, Jay et al. Franklin contributed little to the discussions and writing, as did Washington. Jefferson and many others were voracious readers of contemporary fiction. What they really knew a lot about were the European philosophers of government, European history, law, business, war, farming, finance, and American government at all levels.

    More pertinent to the Global Warming debate, some of the opponents to the Kerry-Lieberman legislation are MDs, who certainly have studied more science than most of the writers of the Constitution.

    [Response: Not comparable in the least to Jefferson's broad, synthetic understanding of the natural world, for which he is justly famous and highly regarded. You don't learn that in med school--Jim]

    The real question is whether a particular course of education for elected representatives would work out better than the free-form system that democracies have.

    It seems to me that as Edward Greisch modified his points, he came to emphasize elimination of fiction over any particular positive requirement.

  37. 237
    Septic Matthew says:

    234, Ike Solem: Your other recommendation, purchasing bogus “offsets” for your fossil fuel emissions is worse than useless – that’s just a smoke-and-mirrors game – the fossil CO2 isn’t removed from the atmosphere because you bought into a artful scam

    Not all of them are “scams”. Some of the companies that sell CO2 offsets invest the money in reforestation. Some also invest in renewable energy. I don’t want to name any particular company, but interested people can find lots of them on the web. Then perform your usual due diligence to separate the good from the bad. In my opinion, everyone who recognizes the risk of AGW ought to buy personal CO2 offsets, as a part of leading by example.

  38. 238
    Eli Rabett says:

    Yeah, and Newton was a natural philosopher. Try again

  39. 239
    Jacob Mack says:

    Ike, do you mean all combustion of fossil fuels? That is not possible. Jets are still needed and they are not going to be electric powered nor are alcohol powered or H202 engines as efficient for one.

    There is no way we can provide the Earth’s eletrical needs with renewables alone.

    Are you suggesting building and updating more nuclear power plants?

    Wind mills are terribly inefficient and solar panels do not work well worldwide.

    Hydroelectric is good but it too destroys ecosystems and the building of new applications displaces indigenous tribes in third world countries and elsewhere.

    I am all for using more renewables but when anyone states get rid of all fossil fuels, I chuckle to myself and get then feel sad because there is no engineering or science currently in place anywhere in the globe that can do such a thing. And I gurantee there will not be in the next 100 years either.

  40. 240
    SecularAnimist says:

    Eli Rabett wrote: “Yeah, and Newton was a natural philosopher. Try again”

    Not sure what your point is.

    Isaac Newton’s best known work is the 1687 Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica — “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”. Newton certainly thought of himself as a “natural philosopher”.

  41. 241
    SecularAnimist says:

    Jacob Mack wrote: “There is no way we can provide the Earth’s eletrical needs with renewables alone … Wind mills are terribly inefficient and solar panels do not work well worldwide.”

    With all due respect, both of those assertions are false, and display an ignorance of the current state of technological development and ongoing deployment of both wind and solar power technologies — as a lengthy, detailed, voluminous and utterly off-topic comment citing numerous sources would demonstrate, if I were inclined to test the patience of the moderators with such a post.

  42. 242
    Snapple says:

    The Guardian reports that Dr. Abraham, Dr. Mann and other scientists have sent a paper to Congress disputing Lord Monckton’s May testimony. I can’t get the PDF to work. It just goes back to the Guardian article, but maybe someone can post the 48-page document here.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/21/climate-scientists-christopher-monckton

  43. 243
    Hank Roberts says:

    “Journals of observations on the … degree of heat, being lengthy, confused, and too minute to produce general and distinct ideas, I have taken five years observations …, have reduced them to an average for every month in the year, and stated those averages in the following table ….” — Thomas Jefferson

    That’s science being invented.

    [Response: Excellent Hank.--Jim]

  44. 244
    Tom Dayton says:

    The report to Congress rebutting Monckton, which Snapple brought up, is summarized and linked to at Skeptical Science.

  45. 245
    Edward Greisch says:

    226 Dan: Thanks for the information. Do you know the URLs for more information on the proposed rules and for commenting on the proposed rules?

    Last Thursday, 16 September 2010, I went to an EPA hearing on the disposition and uses of coal ash. I presented the fact that coal ash contains uranium and thorium. See:

    http://www.ornl.gov/ORNLReview/rev26-34/text/coalmain.html

    In an email exchange with Alex Gabbard I later learned that my comment would have no effect because of a 1984 ruling that coal ash is not hazardous in spite of containing many tons of uranium, thorium, arsenic, etc. I am therefore encouraging the same organizations that sued EPA over CO2 and the clean air act, to sue 3 federal agencies to overturn the 1984 ruling.

    [The average concentration of uranium in coal is 1 or 2 parts per million. Illinois coal contains up to 103 parts per million uranium. A 1000 million watt coal fired power plant burns 4 million tons of coal each year. If you multiply 4 million tons by 1 part per million, you get 4 tons of uranium. Coal ash could supply all of our needs for nuclear fuel.]

    I think CO2 from coal can be attacked from the “back door,” by making it difficult to deal with the ashes and cinders. Of course they could use coal ash as an ore for about 25 elements, assuming the volatile ones like mercury would have boiled off.

  46. 246
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “I am all for using more renewables but when anyone states get rid of all fossil fuels, I chuckle to myself and get then feel sad because there is no engineering or science currently in place anywhere in the globe that can do such a thing.” – 239

    Today I used 6KwH of electricity, and every year that figure is declining. 1KwH of that is for water heating, which I will soon replace with solar.

    At somewhere around 4 to 5KwH per day I will switch to strictly PV generated solar.

    At that point, for transportation, I will still consume around 1.5 gallons of gasoline per week, and that will probably drop to 1.5 gallons per month within the next two years.

    I still burn about 3m**3 of natural gas per day during the coldest winter months, but anticipate that will drop by at least 50% once I have the passive heat exchangers in place.

    I have no plans past that point. My fuel consumption will be a little over 10 gallons of gasoline and 240m**3 of natural gas per year.

    I doubt if it would be much of a burden to produce that small amount of fuel from biomass.

    Perhaps a personal fermenter to convert wood pulp and leaf litter to ethanol.

    My understanding is that such personal fermentation systems already exist.

  47. 247
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    When it comes to increasing the consumption of coal and oil, some U.S. senators will stop at nothing…

    This American Senator (Joe Barton) (the former chairman of the energy and commerce committee) has vowed to bring back the incandescent light bulb. CF bulbs – he claims – when broken necessitate a HASMAT team to clean them up, in addition to a potential emergency situation where a visit to a hospital for mercury decontamination is necessary.

    http://online.wsj.com/video/opinion-journalsaving-the-incandescent-bulb/D27375E7-FF02-49D8-B6C5-0DF7CD2698EE.html

    He believes in cost-benefit analysis…

    “I don’t believe they will save all that much energy…”
    “Incandescent technology is cheaper and more cost effective…”

  48. 248
    Rod B says:

    Jim, your description of Jefferson’s skills are right on. But (and this is really picayune…), re the discussion, he was not a writer of the Constitution (though did a bang-up job on the Declaration).

  49. 249
    Edward Greisch says:

    234 Rod B: I think your comment is ON topic, which is warmer and warmer [and what to do about it]. Thanks for that information. It is more complicated than you imagine. Coal ash is under the joint jurisdiction of 3 agencies:  EPA, NRC and RCRA.   All federal agencies are under the jurisdiction of every Congressman and Senator in at least the following way: An agency has a certain number of hours to answer a question from an elected official, depending on the elected official’s “rank.” Individual congressmen can have a large influence on the decisions of an agency.

    The EPA DOES know what it is doing, but that doesn’t mean what YOU think it is doing. It is obeying the law and its charter to the letter while also obeying higher HQ [the president]. Major amounts of time are spent figuring out how to obey all of the conflicting constraints. [A great deal of cleverness is required of federal officials at times.] The CAA gives EPA the Authority to regulate air pollution. That authority includes the authority to make regulations to carry out the law. The law is much too vague without the added regulations. The EPA has the authority to tailor how it regulates under another law. At my level in the government, I sometimes had to wait a few months for some higher level to figure out what to tell me to do.

    You could sue the EPA to get them to follow your interpretation of the CAA. In fact I recommend that somebody should, but wait a few years. Also, this is not a do-it-yourself project. What you should do now is put the comment URLs for that subject in a comment to RealClimate, and make comments to the EPA yourself. There will probably be public hearings. Go to a public hearing and make your speech.

  50. 250
    Rod B says:

    Eli, I assume you’re referring to Newton’s publication, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.


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