RealClimate logo


Unforced variations, July 2011

Filed under: — group @ 2 July 2011

The RC open thread.
With a reminder that this is not a dumping ground for anything under the sun, but is rather for discussing climate science topics that don’t fit neatly into ongoing discussions.

366 Responses to “Unforced variations, July 2011”

  1. 151
    Prokaryotes says:

    Re Gavin in #137

    The statement of the Royal Society here makes a robust case about the situation.

    >>> Periods of exceptional climate change in Earth history are associated with a dynamic response from the solid Earth, involving enhanced levels of potentially hazardous geological and geomorphological activity. This response is expressed through the adjustment, modulation or triggering of a wide range of surface and crustal phenomena, including volcanic and seismic activity, submarine and sub-aerial landslides, tsunamis and landslide ‘splash’ waves glacial outburst and rock-dam failure floods, debris flows and gas-hydrate destabilisation. Looking ahead, modelling studies and projection of current trends point towards increased risk in relation to a spectrum of geological and geomorphological hazards in a world warmed by anthropogenic climate change, while observations suggest that the ongoing rise in global average temperatures may already be eliciting a hazardous response from the geosphere. http://climateforce.net/2011/07/08/climate-change-drives-earthquake-seismic-activity/

    And then we have the PETM, which was marked by a sudden rise of methane. And we know about all the past active volcano areas around Greenland or Siberia for example. What are the mass calculations suggesting, how much gravity modulation will occur?

    I too can imagine that plate tectonics will stay as Epi centers “plausible” – pre-disposition is likely to remain. But the entire weathering process of the earth is affected, hence the response. The question is how fast, how pronounced …

    Somewhere i read that the mountains loose their “glue” through climate change and then we have uptake in precipitation, synergetic effects which considerably enhance soil erosion and, hence more landslides. When James Hansen says that the emission scenario today is considerable higher, and weathering process occur today 10.000 times faster then in past earth history.

    >>>The lithosphere is broken into tectonic plates. The uppermost part of the lithosphere that chemically reacts to the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere through the soil forming process is called the pedosphere.

    The concept of the lithosphere as Earth’s strong outer layer was developed by Joseph Barrell, who wrote a series of papers introducing the concept.[2][3][4] The concept was based on the presence of significant gravity anomalies over continental crust, from which he inferred that there must exist a strong upper layer (which he called the lithosphere) above a weaker layer which could flow (which he called the asthenosphere). These ideas were expanded by the Harvard geologist Reginald Aldworth Daly in 1940 with his seminal work, Strength and structure of the Earth[5] and have been broadly accepted by geologists and geophysicists. Although these ideas about lithosphere and asthenosphere were developed long before plate tectonic theory was articulated in the 1960s, the concepts that a strong lithosphere exists and that this rests on a weak asthenosphere are essential to that theory.

    The lithosphere provides a conductive lid atop the convecting mantle; as such, it affects heat transport through the Earth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithosphere

    >>>Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soils and minerals as well as artificial materials through contact with the Earth’s atmosphere, biota and waters. Weathering occurs in situ, or “with no movement”, and thus should not be confused with erosion, which involves the movement of rocks and minerals by agents such as water, ice, wind, and gravity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weathering

  2. 152
    Septic Matthew says:

    Here’s a paper that you might want to discuss:

    http://www.gewex.org/images/G.Stephens_Feb2010GNews.pdf

  3. 153
    SecularAnimist says:

    I wonder if the RealClimate folks would have any comment on this study:

    Geologic constraints on the glacial amplification of Phanerozoic climate sensitivity
    Jeffrey Park, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University
    Dana L. Royer, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University
    American Journal of Science, Vol. 311, January 2011, P.1-26; doi:10.2475/01.2011.01

    As I understand it, the study suggests that in the conditions of the current glacial interval, the most probably climate sensitivity is 6 to 8 degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2 concentrations above preindustrial levels, rather than the more widely estimated 3 to 4 degrees.

  4. 154
    flxible says:

    RonR@146 – Weather related. Mile high and 100 miles wide. I grew up in Phoenix in the 50’s/60’s, haboobs happen every summer, always very dramatic but we just called them ‘dust storms’ – the latest was a particularly bad one, but you know that doesn’t make it climate change related.

  5. 155
    flxible says:

    RonR@146 – Weather related. Mile high and 100 miles wide. I grew up in Phoenix in the 50’s/60’s, haboobs happen every summer, always very dramatic but we just called them ‘dust storms’ – the latest was just a particularly bad one, but you know that doesn’t make it climate change related.

  6. 156

    ccpo 40: Forests are obviously massive carbon sinks

    BPL: Billions of trees are dying around the world thanks to incursions of insects due to climate change. Wood borer beetles in the western US and Alaska, for instance. Cold winters used to kill them off. Not any more.

  7. 157

    “There are times when the wind is calm everywhere.”

    BPL: Not true. Apparently this guy doesn’t live in a mountain canyon, or on the shores of Lake Erie.

  8. 158
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Secular

    Looking at the abstract, seems to me that Park is talking about _very_ long time scales — the abstract says “For a climate sensitivity {Delta}T2x that is uniform throughout the Phanerozoic, the most probable value is 3° to 4 °C”

    But — at the scale of thousands of years, as ice ages to come and go — “if {Delta}T2x is amplified by at least a factor of two” the number will be sometimes higher and sometimes lower.

    The usual climate sensitivity numbers assume one single pulse of greenhouse gas, and then waits for the temperature to quit rising — not counting an ice age starting or stopping. Park’s added in the ice ages, I think, to that.

  9. 159

    SA 152,

    Those are two different sensitivities. The short-term “Charney sensitivity” of about 3 K is the sensitivity with the so-called “fast feedbacks” figured in. The long-term sensitivity, when the Earth settles back to equilibrium, is more like 6 K.

  10. 160
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Re the Park and Royer paper: it is about long term sensitivity, not the short term sensitivity we usually discuss. This Royer page links to the pdf. This discussion mentions other papers that find a high long term sensitivity, including a paper with G A Schmidt as a co-author. Long term sensitivity is influenced by slow feedbacks. Since we are producing CO2 so fast, some slow feedbacks may not be so slow.

    Meanwhile as Alley says here

    The abrupt-climate-change story remains interesting, though. Today, the salty north Atlantic waters sink before they freeze in the winter. The data indicate that at times in the past, the north Atlantic was fresher so the waters froze before they sank. The resulting wintertime cooling in the north Atlantic was rather severe, and the influences far from the north Atlantic included a general southward shift of the tropical circulations and drying of monsoonal and northern-tropical regions where billions now live. The IPCC gives >90% chance that the melting of Greenland’s ice and other changes in the future will not be fast enough to trigger such a discontinuity over the next century, ….

    But the models tend to underestimate Arctic amplification ….

  11. 161
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 135 Edward Greisch
    “Living in Denial” by Mrs. Dr. Kari Marie Norgaard. My interpretation of the last pages I have read so far is that “Morality” = tradition = political correctness = the right thing to do = groupthink. Science is, by definition, immoral. Science is tolerated only because the rich find science profitable. When science becomes anti-profitable, science is doubly bad. Technology that is too “sciencey” is bad. Norgaard analyzed an extremely tradition-bound small town in Norway.

    Perhaps being a bit nitpicky here, but I think you were correct to write “Morality” = … in quotes; I think you should have likewise put “immoral” in quotes in the following statement.

    …(Because you are of course obviously not stating that science is truly immoral (you earlier gave science the credit for figuring out actual morality – which of course I disagree with though would agree that scientific knowledge is a moral good (in that it can be used to increase the moral desirability or decrease the moral undesirably of outcomes; not to imply of course that it always is used that way; it is a decision-making resource, not a decider)to or that actual morality is mere groupthink (while it seems it should follow from your stance on the link between science and morality and the disconnect between science and group think, I must emphasize that people (scientifically literate or not) will sometimes make an effort to think about what is good and bad).)

    Climate science therefore gets the double whammy. RealClimate needs to push the values of the enlightenment: Free thinking is good. Groupthink is bad.

    Doesn’t everybody already know that? (well, no, but people who think groupthink is good may not be likely to bother free thinking about what we say here…) Science trumps all else. That it would every trump. Which wouldn’t be math or logic, etc.

    Re civilization collapse –
    You might be interested in “Earth 2100” – it was shown as a TV movie/graphic novel on ABC (US, not Australian) back in 2009. The website for it had footnotes or something like that; I think maybe citations. Then again you might not find what you don’t already know (about the topic of civilization collapse); I’m not sure. I wouldn’t say the death toll portrayed was anywhere near as high as 99.99 %, but it was horrific nonetheless

    …(much of it from disease, so perhaps past analogues would be the black death ((?)except maybe for a modern epidemic’s or pandemic’s impact on trade, and thus on food availability – or was that a factor in the past too (on the local level, where ancient farmers apprehensive about bringing food into town and catching something?)) (PS a hypothesis – I’m not sure how certain people are about this – is that the bubonic plague first infected humans (if I am remembering this correctly) during a short climatic fluctuation caused perhaps by a volcanic eruption in Indonesia (maybe Krakatoa) around the time of (if I recall correctly, and according to the legend or something) King Arthur’s death (bet you didn’t expect that to come up at RC!) (the plague’s infection of Celts could have contributed if not caused the shift toward Anglo-Saxon domination of England, if I recall correctly; the climate change itself, and the plague, have been suggested as a cause of some other historical events/migrations, (actually my understanding is that the plague is known to have been a contributing factor (via a depopulation making room for others to come in) to the spread of a particular religion)…

  12. 162
    Prokaryotes says:

    #160 “But the models tend to underestimate Arctic amplification ….”

    Nature has a new article about this problem.

    State-of-the-art climate models are largely untested against actual occurrences of abrupt change. It is a huge leap of faith to assume that simulations of the coming century with these models will provide reliable warning of sudden, catastrophic events. http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n7/full/ngeo1200.html

  13. 163
    Edward Greisch says:

    161 Patrick 027: Yes, I intended to say that some people who are not scientists think science is immoral. “Immoral” should have been in quotes. Like the pope that Galileo dealt with. I am a scientist and I think that science is the most moral thing. I meant that, for certain tradition-bound people, this is the way they think. Most people are tradition-bound to one degree or another. Remember, Norgaard is doing sociology on a small town in Norway. All of the houses are the same size and shape and are decorated identically. There are only 3 choices of house color. In small towns, people are not allowed to think their own thoughts. A cousin of mine committed suicide because his small town in New York state would not permit him to think his own thoughts. Math and logic are part of science, but truth is experimental.

    “science the credit for figuring out actual morality”
    See theBrights project on morality or look up “Sociobiology” at the Library of Congress web site. It started with the book “The Genetics of Altruism” by Lumsden and Wilson. The biology department is indeed saying that morality is something that evolved and that is instinctual in all humans who are not psychopaths or sociopaths. The biologists are indeed deducing an ethical standard based on the average human.

    “Doesn’t everybody already know that?”
    Almost everybody who is not a scientist or philosopher “knows” the exact opposite. THAT is the problem. THAT is why none of the climactic events we have witnessed so far have been bad enough to be the “Pearl Harbor” event. THAT is what RC is up against. THAT is why nothing has been done about GW.

    The black death isn’t it. The black death didn’t kill enough people. The Israelites were the survivors of the collapse of the Canaanite empire. 100% of the Vikings on Greenland died of starvation.

  14. 164

    #140 Gwinnevere, I find your math argument intriguing, but as exciting as this may be, it seems you don’t understand, Arctic sea ice volume is the result of daily integrated Arctic weather, on to itself the Earth gives you this result daily, no computer model seems to catch up with Natures sea ice results yet, consider the Earth a giant computer model expressing its result by colours as seen from space. Nothing , absolutely nothing suggests a lull in warming as demonstrated by the Earth. PLease be more clear, and explain how rapidly recent disappearing sea ice volume:

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1842

    matches a certain temperature lull. Further to the temperature record, either surface based or Upper Air,
    the sun appears to be expanding vertically, slowly but certainly, refraction is proportional to air density.
    Take my word, or come back and see me after making a few thousand observations.

    . As far as Christy and Lindzen are concerned, you see them unable , unwilling and uncaring to explain this, at least you try to debate, even though, you are off base, not from my opinion, the Earth itself plainly shows you that there is no lull. If you want to explain that a lull produces less ice, please elaborate.
    ————–

    Thanks Susan, poetry involves us with the words, and gives a better visualization in some cases.

  15. 165
    Hank Roberts says:

    Yep. Anyone who’s read in this area for a year or so won’t be surprised by the conclusion in that Nature piece, but it bears repeating for those who have it backwards and think the scientists worry too much:

    “If anything, the models are underestimating change, compared with the geological record. According to the evidence from the past, the Earth’s climate is sensitive to small changes, whereas the climate models seem to require a much bigger disturbance to produce abrupt change. Simulations of the coming century with the current generation of complex models may be giving us a false sense of security.”
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n7/full/ngeo1200.html

  16. 166
    Ron R. says:

    flxible 8 Jul 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Ok. Thanks for the info.

  17. 167
    CM says:

    Patrick027, responding to Edward Greisch:

    >> Groupthink is bad.
    > Doesn’t everybody already know that?

    Yes, we all totally think so!
    :)

  18. 168
    ccpo says:

    #160 “But the models tend to underestimate Arctic amplification ….”

    Nature has a new article about this problem.

    State-of-the-art climate models are largely untested against actual occurrences of abrupt change. It is a huge leap of faith to assume that simulations of the coming century with these models will provide reliable warning of sudden, catastrophic events. http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n7/full/ngeo1200.html

    Hank Roberts says:
    8 Jul 2011 at 11:46 PM

    Yep. Anyone who’s read in this area for a year or so won’t be surprised by the conclusion in that Nature piece, but it bears repeating for those who have it backwards and think the scientists worry too much:

    “If anything, the models are underestimating change, compared with the geological record. According to the evidence from the past, the Earth’s climate is sensitive to small changes, whereas the climate models seem to require a much bigger disturbance to produce abrupt change. Simulations of the coming century with the current generation of complex models may be giving us a false sense of security.”
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n7/full/ngeo1200.html

    For as long as I’ve been tip-tapping away on the internet on these topics (5 years), I’ve been pounding away at the complacency, whether real or perceived by me, of most: not just deniers, but laypersons and scientists, too, and is why I used to push so hard here advocating more activism by scientists. Heck, I’ve had discussions with scientists stating what was already unequivocally false: methane hydrates are stable and **can’t** melt for at least a hundred years. I think I’ve had that discussion here with Gavin, in fact. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case. Now, the scientists will argue that the degree to which the clathrates/permafrost is destabilizing, and whether or not the rate is increasing over natural amounts is still an open question. Technically, they are right. And maybe they are right that serious melt of those deposits is 90 years away, but a the risk is too high to act on that assumption. We have to act on the assumption they could blow at any moment. (Thermokarst lakes tripling in size, Atlantic water up fjords and into the Arctic Basin, e.g.)

    The point being,this Nature article is, for me, a case of, “You needed a study for that?” It was obvious from basic observation: climate is non-linear/chaotic (depending on whom you ask) and is thus inherently unstable. Not to mention, lots of abrupt changes in the climate record, plus, we are forcing the planet faster than it has ever been forced… I mean, c’mon… of course abrupt change is a big hazard. It’s obvious. And, of course GCM’s can’t show it. There are at least two reasons why, one simple logic, the other… simple logic.

    1. GCM’s have been lagging what we have been observing since IPCC IV came out, so obviously they haven’t developed well enough. One would expect this to also be true of sudden jumps because 2. that is the nature of both non-linear and chaotic systems: it’s almost impossible to predict the phase changes. That is, we are asking the climate models to do the impossible. The takeaway? This is a human issue, i.e. a policy/risk assessment issue, not as scientific one.

    However, I am wanting to repeat a theme: perhaps it’s the place of policy, but I think at this time in history, when the stakes are so high and the process of change decades behind where it needs to be to have avoided rapid, massive changes to avoid potentially massive, rapid catastrophe, at least in terms of risk, the scientists are going to have to speak out to an ever-increasing degree and with an ever-increasing urgency. There have been some nice changes in this regard, including here at RC, but I see a need for more.

    Perhaps I am reading the situation incorrectly, but I have framed it in the past as intuition being downplayed in scientific circles despite intuition having been such a huge aspect of scientific discovery in the past. I suppose it could be as simple as what is said in Vegas stays in Vegas. We hear via anecdote from reliable sources and from anonymous surveys that at least some scientists are scared, to the extent some are making doomerish preparations.

    Perhaps their preps could be avoided if they spoke out more?

    Anywho… No surprise the GCM’s aren’t capable of producing rapid changes.

    On chaos and climate:

    Fun:

    http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Chaos.html

    If the comments are to be believed, climate is chaotic:
    http://www.grist.org/article/chaotic-systems-are-not-predictable

    This paper explicitly states climate is chaotic, but not every constituent of climate behaves chaotically, per se: http://grads.iges.org/people/Shukla%27s%20Articles/1998/Predictability.pdf

    Can’t find either of the two papers on tipping points showing identification of patterns that present just prior to or at the time of tipping points…

    Ah, here’s one, but it says can’t be identified, or, rather, nearly impossible to: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209191445.htm

    However, this new research says, hold on, we CAN predict these things! http://www.earthtimes.org/conservation/early-warning-wobbles-predict-eco-tipping-point/781/

    There is another study I can’t yet find that was about climate fluctuations that found the same pattern of increasing wobbles or amplitude in variance, but also found they happened to close to the time of phase shift, so weren’t practically useful, iirc. This problem holds with the above study. A year in advance is decades too late to engage in meaningful adaptation or mitigation if the change is at all significant. (I refer you to the Hirsch Report, which is not about climate, but energy, but replace the conceptual framework and the dynamics are the same.)

    So… brings us back to the risk assessment: Make changes. Make big changes. Make them now. (But to do so we actually have to state the seriousness of the situation and be real about what it means for quality of life, lifestyle, etc.)

    reCAPTCHA: conceived onsuago. If that means, “in the mass of goo purported to be ccpo’s brain,” reCAPTCHA is rockin’.

  19. 169
    Pachygrapsus says:

    Regarding the hypothesis that increased sulfate aerosols from China suppressed warming, wouldn’t that effect be more pronounced in the northern hemisphere? As I understand it, and unlike a well-mixed gas like CO2, sulfates can produce regional effects but not global. I think it was a paper by Wigley that I read that described the northern and southern hemispheres as decoupled with respect to aerosols. (Sorry, I don’t have the cite).

    If this is true then wouldn’t we expect to see an unmasked AGW signal in the southern hemisphere in spite of a depressed signal (calling it “cooling” is a little silly given the carefully chosen time frame) in the north? If the above is correct, wouldn’t that make any sulfate connection a dubious possibility?

    [Response: The rise in aerosols from Asia is not an exclusively Chinese issue – and compared to the increase in aerosols earlier in the 20th Century from the US and Europe, is happening much closer to the equator. Thus the hemispheric contrast is likely to be less pronounced. But you have to be careful about statistical attributions like this in any case – I’d be much happier looking at the GCMs that are actually driven by the emission changes to say anything about the spatial patterns of change expected. – gavin]

  20. 170
    Leo G says:

    Iteresting article from the FT about the met office, where a forecaster “admits” that the sun’s variation can have up to 50% effect on the near term weather/climate.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/35145bee-9d38-11e0-997d-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1RacNghPj

    OK, here is my analogy;

    there is a small trickle of water that almost constantly drops through an opening on a side of a cliff. This trickle hits an outcrop on its way down. Overtime there may be rain events that overwhelm the catch basin and water flows over the top and crashes onto the outcrop below. Other times the source of the trickle dries up and no water hits the outcrop.

    After a milennea, the outcrop is very worn from the near constant trickle. Not so much from the occasions of overflow or drying.

    CO2 is/will be a constant driver, while these natural effects can overwhelm its’ signal, the longish effects, i.e., the erosion is caused by the small steady driver.

    Sound reasonable? I would take it that this solar effect would not be part of the sensitivity of the climate to the CO2 forcing?

    [Response: Solar forcing is an independent factor that might affect climate and it’s presence or absence does not affect how the climate reacts to CO2. The way the climate reacts to both though involves the same basic feedbacks and so sensitivity to solar forcing or CO2 forcing (of the same magnitude) will be similar. However, going back to the Scaife comment, I do not think that is justified by the literature so I’d be curious as to what he is referring to (or if he has been misquoted). – gavin]

  21. 171
    ccpo says:

    This is a Scripps podcast on the MOC. A new, more detailed model that includes higher resolution for eddies shows the flows are greater between the northern and southern Atlantic than previously understood.

    Their models indicate additional fresh water in the Arctic, as we know, might slow or shut down the MOC, but the time frames are more accurate, they believe, and indicate changes are more likely to be on decadal time frames than previously thought. Also, the window of similarly fresh water between the two parts of the ocean can also increase the speed of the MOC if it gets bigger instead of smaller.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVARyjsFRtI

  22. 172
    Septic Matthew says:

    159 Barton Paul Levenson: Those are two different sensitivities. The short-term “Charney sensitivity” of about 3 K is the sensitivity with the so-called “fast feedbacks” figured in. The long-term sensitivity, when the Earth settles back to equilibrium, is more like 6 K.

    How is it known that the sensitivity is constant? I was thinking of two possible modifiers.

    1. When the climate is warm enough and wet enough to support foliage, doesn’t a vast quantity of plant life reduce the sensitivity by providing lots of ground cover and transpiration?

    2. In the tropics and other places there are daily rains, or near daily rains in some seasons: mornings have clear skies, then mid-day has the accumulation of thick clouds, then late afternoon has torrential rains. Don’t the clouds transport much heat away from the surface, and don’t their upper surfaces reflect much radiation? Wouldn’t these processes be amplified at higher temperature that produce more moisture in the air, and change the sensitivity?

    I have missed your comments. Welcome back. Don’t ago away.

  23. 173
    wili says:

    I have a question about what we might expect as far as global CO2 atmospheric concentrations in the next couple years.

    The May low end of the yearly fluctuation was a bit above 193 ppm. The annual fluctuation can be as high as 9 ppm. We have had a number of record forest fires in North America this year already. Does this mean we are likely to get the high end of this fluctuation and we could hit 400 later this year or next year? (I know that 400 is just another number, but round numbers do have an effect on most human’s perception of things.)

  24. 174
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 163 Edward Greisch

    Re tradition – not to go against your point but just for clarity, tradition can be nice, too. It can give comfort; which is generally a moral good. Also, sometimes good moral ideas have been packaged into tradition, although they may be misapplied in novel situations (the kind of scenario I have in mind here is analogous to the errors that arise using F = G*m1*m2/r^2 in a relativisitic situation – people might not bother to think why something is good in one context and thus apply it to the wrong situation)… But of course being bound to tradition has problems, I agree.

    The biology department is indeed saying that morality is something that evolved and that is instinctual in all humans who are not psychopaths or sociopaths. The biologists are indeed deducing an ethical standard based on the average human.

    Yes of course human behavior has been shaped by biological evolution as well as cultural/environmental effects (viewed over long enough time obviously they all impact each other). But there’s a difference between cataloguing how people tend to behave and prescribing how they should behave. Of course a scientific investigation may be done to figure out how people have come to have their moral instincts and why they are what they are, and detective work may also do this on the level of an individual person (psychology, neurology, etc.), but to make any judgement about whether they should tweek their ideas about morality, requires the input of moral ideas itself. The only way this can be done without bringing in some externally-supplied moral code is to either just agree with the people being studied (groupthink) or look for logical inconsistencies in the moral system being studied – and figure out the least amount of change required to bring the system into logical consistency, which itself still implies a level of acceptance of things as they are.

    We probably shouldn’t carry on this conversation any farther here, though; so that’s the last I’ll say of it here.

    Almost everybody who is not a scientist or philosopher “knows” the exact opposite. THAT is the problem. THAT is why none of the climactic events we have witnessed so far have been bad enough to be the “Pearl Harbor” event. THAT is what RC is up against. THAT is why nothing has been done about GW.

    1. I think a lot of people do philosophize (is that a word?) on some level at times. People think. There are varying degrees with which people may be able to judge their own group.

    2. People who have the right idea regarding morality can still be led astray with misinformation about the science of climate change. This website (ahah! I’ve found a way to bring this back on topic!) provides a moral good by counteracting misinformation, but those who can’t tell which is real and which is fake are not necessarily being evil. Nobody is omniscient, or has infinite time. Of course we do suspect from time to time that somebody does have that ability and is choosing not to use it because of temptations or vices.

    On the other hand, some deniers/contrarians/skeptics like to accuse those who’ve accepted real science as being guilty of groupthink. Whether they believe this or not, this suggests some recognition of the concept of groupthink and why it can be a problematic behavior (a person could know groupthink is a problem and just not recognize it themselves, or percieve it falsely in others; or an evil person could be aware that groupthink is bad and still lead the group, so to speak).

    Re 167 CM – good one!

  25. 175
    Jeffrey Park says:

    replying to SMatthew post 172

    You are correct to hypothesize that the warming sensitivity is not constant. Earth’s climate state changes as greenhouse gases change, so the responses should change too. However, the question is whether the sensitivity variation is practically important. Most model estimates of DT_2x (CO_2 doubling sensitivity, see the Park and Royer 2011 paper referenced up the thread) involve ranges of responses, not a single value, and paleoclimate estimates that lead to a single value have error bars. In Park and Royer (2011) we plot a Bayesian PDF for DT_2x. If the “true” warming sensitivity lies within the error bars or within a sigma of the PDF mean, then it doesnt make too much sense to formulate a variable DT_2x. The slow-feedback amplification of DT_2x seems obvious after you do the work to verify it, but at the start it was still a hypothesis to be tested.

    Good question.

  26. 176
    chris says:

    142 Ray Ladbury 8 Jul 2011 at 10:03 AM

    says:

    “Somehow, this makes me angrier at the Gruniad and other mainstream media than I was before. How do we deal with journalists who choose not to do their jobs?”

    Ray the uncovering of disgraceful behaviour at Murdoch’s dismal News of the World, was largely down to persistent investigative efforts of Guardian reporters, especially Nick Davies.

    IMO the problem is not down to “journalists who choose not to do their jobs properly”, but rather to the particular corporate media ownerships that promote a somewhat different level of disgraceful practices. If proper science journalism was encouraged at say the UK Telegraph or dismal Daily Mail, we wouldn’t have had, for example, ludicrous full page misrepresentations of the science by Monckton (Telegraph) or contemptible articles by Delingpole (Telegraph) or Christopher Brooker (Mail) etc. etc. ad nauseum…

    There is excellent (UK) science journalism out there (e.g. Richard Black at the BBC; Ben Goldacre at the Guardian). Proper journalism is promoted and encouraged at media outlets like the BBC and Guardian that retain considerable independence. The problem isn’t the journalists – good science journalists simply don’t have a place at the Telegraph or Daily Mail (or the now deceased NOW).

    Not sure how we deal with this other than to strongly support good journalism when we encounter it. Perhaps the NOW debacle will see a tiny shift away from the degrading influence of corporate vested influence on public understanding of science in the UK…

  27. 177

    I must say , after years of fending off idiot News International propaganda about climate, its very refreshing to find British people wising up to their dirty tricks. It gives hope at least that a news chain utterly dedicated to stupid science is getting a serious look over. Hugh Grant should give us a hand with AGW as he is doing a great job as a undercover reporter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-pmxCwzAB4&feature=related

    We need all the help we can get! I Google climate issues often, and the subject is mercilessly attacked, so one good google post is often buried by 10 bad ones. Somehow we need to expose more the infantile and often below contempt reporting about climate change. We are still a long way in doing so.

  28. 178
    Patrick 027 says:

    errors that arise using F = G*m1*m2/r^2 in a relativisitic situation – well, I’m not sure now if there is an error there; I’m a little rusty with relativity. Sticking to what’s more familiar, another example is applying the quasigeostrophic approximation to tornados. Or the approximations in the aerodynamics of airplanes to bees (bees don’t break the laws of aerodynamics, but they can’t be adequately described by the simplifications that can be used for airplanes).

  29. 179
    Edward Greisch says:

    [edit OT ranting. You are patently not respecting the request at the top of this post or the wishes of the moderators. All further will be deleted.]

  30. 180
    Gwinnevere says:

    no148-149 Meow:

    @Gwinnevere (140): You can fit any curve arbitrarily well by choosing the appropriate set of interpolating functions. That doesn’t mean that the resulting functions predict how the system underlying the fitted curve will behave in the future.
    ”.
    — Yes. I agree, absolutely Meow. But any ”appropriate set of interpolating functions” does not render an explaining set of derivative-integral functions aligned with measured quantities: Sea, Industry, CO2. Only one, unique, set will do. Meaning: Only those components will do, that explain already observed variations. We are only interested in the observed global warming energy equivalent, not type »Fred Flintstone» Saturday entertainment cartoons. But please, excuse me. Perhaps this response crosses the border of the aim of the content of this web page.
    (If you are eager to discuss mathematical-numeric theory with me, this is not the page for it. But if you insist, and have the appropriate open discussing place for it, please say where, and I will answer whatever I can in connection to and concern of AGW-math).

    Gwinnevere

  31. 181
    Gwinnevere says:

    no150 Susan Anderson :
    ”Not sure what’s up with gwinnevere, but her conclusion labels her comment suspect.”.
    — Perhaps if addressed more in quest, a chance of response might uncover the proposed obscurities?
    ”I don’t think science is more at the abyss than human habitation on our planet is”.
    — The appeal perhaps would seem different if we fast forward to 2040? I don’t know, Susanne. I just read the thermometer.
    No. Please (Susan), if there is something you wonder about my presentation (or any claim in it) on the AGW-subject, please be (more) specific and address me with a question, and I will respond to whatever I can to satisfy your interest in »the science of AGW», and as far as of any value. Thank you.

    Gwinnevere

  32. 182
    Gwinnevere says:

    no164 wayne davidson:

    #140 Gwinnevere, I find your math argument intriguing, but as exciting as this may be, it seems you don’t understand, Arctic sea ice volume …
    ”.,

    Nothing , absolutely nothing suggests a lull in warming as demonstrated by the Earth. Please be more clear, and explain how rapidly recent disappearing sea ice volume [LINK] matches a certain temperature lull.
    ”.
    — Thank you, wayne davidson.
    I will try to enlighten you — completely:
    First (to clear any doubts): I do not oppose the Arctic temperature measurements you advise. I support them.
    — The NASA-temperature curve, which we take as the only proof we have of an ongoing global warming, is seen by the ”intriguing” AGW-math expressions exactly as the NASA-measure says: land-marine measurements. No higher atmospheric layers are involved. The — intriguing, as you say, wayne davidson — AGW-mathematics also calculates this land-marine surface altitude to only a maximum of no more than h=60 meters above all Earth solid-liquid surface. This result, same as the one scaling the sea heat content, the industry energy driving curve and its resulting CO2-concentration, excludes any higher lying atmospheric measures or aspects.
    — The Arctic sea ice portion you mention, wayne davidson, its connection to the general, averaged AGW-described results (in the no140-post from Gwinnevere) as a matching equally describing (dotted) NASA-curve, is INCLUSIVE in the general curvature. Of course.
    — It does not mean that a local OTHER average is excluded, of course not — but it surely means that any a local aspect of increase (or decrease), Arctic or other whatever, is not representative to the entire trend thrown out from denialists and skeptics — showing the actual »lull»: 2000-2040 IF correctly apprehended and no flaws present.
    — To be specific, wayne davidson: I do not oppose your claim that Arctic data show what you say it shows. But if you mean to claim that (for example) Arctic warming data are to be apprehended as global averaged data, you are, as I see it, in deep oceanic trouble due to the actual NASA-curve and its derived (dotted) component equivalents: There will be a flat period up to 2040. That is what the entire AGW-math shows.
    — Another way to satisfy you, wayne davidson, perhaps would be this:
    — The GLOBAL TREND of the LULL is composed of the natural down going sea period 2000-2040 together with the global warming up going ocean warming temperature-Energy-curve from AGW math, including warming Arctic regions and hence proving ice melting in the Arctic as well as elsewhere, by showing an average global net change of naught, what we may name a lull, a period of quiet or tranquil.

    Gwinnevere

  33. 183
    dhogaza says:

    Gwinnevere:

    But any ”appropriate set of interpolating functions” does not render an explaining set of derivative-integral functions aligned with measured quantities: Sea, Industry, CO2. Only one, unique, set will do. Meaning: Only those components will do, that explain already observed variations.

    Curve-fitting is descriptive, not explanatory.

  34. 184
    Paul S says:

    Gavin, on your response to 170, I think Scaife is talking specifically about causes of variability in UK climate, rather than globally. The surrounding passages are about how the UK has cold winters during El Ninos and that periods of low solar activity have been concurrent with El Nino-like patterns in the region.

    I was thinking the quote might have some link to the findings of a Drew Shindell paper from 2001, on which you were co-author: ‘Solar Forcing of Regional Climate Change During the Maunder Minimum’

    I’m not really sure if this context makes his statement any more justifiable in terms of year-to-year variability.

    [Response: I was an author on Shindell et al and we did not conclude that 50% of the interannual variability was caused by solar. We didn’t discuss interannual variability at all in fact. The lockwood papers are perhaps the closest to the analysis you would need, but the correlations aren’t anything like that high. – gavin]

  35. 185
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Gwinnevere:
    “(If you are eager to discuss mathematical-numeric theory with me, this is not the page for it. But if you insist, and have the appropriate open discussing place for it, please say where, and I will answer whatever I can in connection to and concern of AGW-math).”

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/

  36. 186
    Septic Matthew says:

    175, Jeffrey Park, thank you.

  37. 187
    sidd says:

    Hansen and Sato have a revised paper on arxiv

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.0968v2

    Figure 9 is a remarkable depiction of the cooling effect of rapid ice sheet collapse. In 2080 the temperature rise in the A1B scenario is moderated from 2.15 C to 0.84 C, together with sea level rise of 1.44 m

    I fully expect the denialist howler monkeys to leap on this, shrieking, “See! It will fix itself! Not so bad!”

    sidd

  38. 188
    Lawrence McLean says:

    I have been observing the climate changes, trying to make sense of them and I would like to share my ideas with the hosts and commentators here to see how that stand up (or get shot down). Firstly the observations: I have notice where I live and have read, that the biological indicators of global warming are strong, to me, much stronger than the recorded temperature changes seem to indicate. The average recorded temperature changes seem to be quite small (in the order of 1 degree). In this Winter for example, the minimum temperature anomaly, accord to the figures is around about average (see http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/awap/temp/index.jsp?colour=colour&time=latest&step=0&map=minanom&period=month&area=nat). The dam on my property however, has not frozen over on any night this winter. As recently as 4 years ago the dam would freeze over regularly, in the order of 10 times per winter.

    The way I figure it, it seems that the daily temperature change profiles are changing much more significantly than the temperature ranges. To me, that wold explain the biological changes and the changes in the freezing behavior that I have observed. Has anyone put together data that either confirms or dismisses my idea?

  39. 189
    ccpo says:

    Gwinnevere,

    Your writing style is very hard for me to follow, but you seem to be saying, to put it simply, there will be little or no measurable rise in global temperatures for the next 30 years. Your argument, if I follow, is based on current math and recent trend, I assume partly based on the solar minimum, perhaps the coal particulate issue recently raised, etc.

    The problem I find – bearing in mind I am a math idiot – is that you are relying solely on the math. You do not mention any observable phenomena that might alter the math. Given the temperature record is a record of the physical changes and not the other way around, this seems a bit short-sighted.

    While there has been some discussion of an extended period of low solar activity, it is not a guaranteed. Even if it were, the calculated change over the next 90 years is perhaps -0.3C, I believe. Since that effect will be front-loaded to the next 30 years or so then amortized over the rest of the century, I suppose the shorter-term effect may present as a higher fracrtion, which i have no ability to calculate. What, 0.5 or 0.6C? (Hopefully someone out there has some idea.) This would definitely have the potential to keep temps significantly lower than otherwise.

    The problem we have is climate changes are coming exponentially faster in some cases. Hansen, et al., believe Greenland melt may be doubling each decade, for example. The Arctic Sea Ice is on a current trajectory of a roughly (80%) ice free Arctic within the next five years. Deforestation, natural and man-made (though all man-made by extension) is continuing apace, changes in oceans (jellyfish are certainly an unexpected surprise and huge carbon problem) are on-going, including warm water infiltration into the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland areas of sea ice and ice shelves, etc.

    To assume that a trend in the math trumps geophysical changes has got it backwards. Are you considering these things?

  40. 190

    Gwinnevere, a flaw in your logic otherwise well presented…

    “Another way to satisfy you, wayne davidson, perhaps would be this:
    — The GLOBAL TREND of the LULL is composed of the natural down going sea period 2000-2040 together with the global warming up going ocean warming temperature-Energy-curve from AGW math, including warming Arctic regions and hence proving ice melting in the Arctic as well as elsewhere, by showing an average global net change of naught, what we may name a lull, a period of quiet or tranquil.”

    Everything is interconnected on Earth, the seas cant go down in temperature while the Arctic goes up. That is impossible, namely ENSO proves the case quite readily, when El-Nino throttles full blast the Arctic becomes much warmer, when La-Nina cools a great chunk of the Pacific, the Arctic blue skies dominate. One region may show anomalous behavior systemically related to Omega blocks or some rare but not uncommon planetary wave feature. Over all heat injected to the world system is readily shared, the equator being a much larger area has a huge influence everywhere else, particularly with clouds on the upwards. To your claim: warmer Arctic colder oceans, this is equally impossible,colder oceans give off less cloud seeds, when this happens the Arctic goes into a deep freeze especially during the long night, this deep freeze exceeds well onto June! However, each major system, Polar, Oceanic and Continental have their own independent thermal dynamic engines going, the link between them are clouds, no clouds occur when no moisture and nucleation particles. The only way the Arctic warms is when the South is loaded with kinetic energy especially from the seas, or for a brief Arctic summer moment warmer by no clouds when the oceans are colder, but as you know the Arctic has no sun rays for months and this warming is dwarfed by the long night filled with auroras and star light.

    I leave it up to Gavin to explain the Nasa bit.

  41. 191
    Gwinnevere says:

    no183 dhogaza:
    Hello dhogaza;
    FAST EXAMPLE (I am in a little bit of a hurry):
    — Place an object at the edge of your desk.
    Giving it at push, the resulting physics — curvature, naturally evolving process — shows (describes, explains) a (basic) two component equivalent curvature (as in 3=2+1):
    1. a linear velocity taken by a straight curvature (straight line);
    2. a linear acceleration (as in an ideal free fall in a Galilean force field, same acceleration everywhere) by another (ideal) straight line of extension;
    — If this is accepted as a more elegant and concrete practical example paralleling the AGW-equalities under question, would you, dhogaza please, develop more in detail what is meant by your comment
    ”Curve-fitting is descriptive, not explanatory” (because as scientists, we must always specify a frame of REFERENCE).
    — As far as I know, nobody will be able to make a clear distinction between the resulting curve describing, and explaining, the two components by equality. These form an unbreakable unity (what we call an equality — a certified identity — between sum and parts).
    — However, if »you are the man» to present another view, and the subject is accepted, please fire off.

    Gwinnevere

  42. 192
    dhogaza says:

    — If this is accepted as a more elegant and concrete practical example paralleling the AGW-equalities under question

    Of course it’s not accepted, because in your physics based example you’re not fitting an arbitrary curve to match observations. You’re starting with physics, and use that to predict the path of the object.

    Your “AGW-maths” is curve-fitting, pure and simple, not at all the same thing.

    The fact that you don’t see the difference is … telling. Tells us that further discussion is probably a waste of time.

  43. 193
    David Miller says:

    Gwinnevere says:

    — The NASA-temperature curve, which we take as the only proof we have of an ongoing global warming, is seen by the ”intriguing” AGW-math expressions exactly as the NASA-measure says: land-marine measurements. No higher atmospheric layers are involved. The — intriguing, as you say, wayne davidson — AGW-mathematics also calculates this land-marine surface altitude to only a maximum of no more than h=60 meters above all Earth solid-liquid surface. This result, same as the one scaling the sea heat content, the industry energy driving curve and its resulting CO2-concentration, excludes any higher lying atmospheric measures or aspects.

    I’m having a really hard time parsing that paragraph, but the first sentence seems to express a belief that the only evidence we have of warming temperatures is NASA guesstimates.

    Gwin, that’s just plain wrong. You need to add all the other signs, like:

    retreating sea ice
    melting land glaciers
    number of new record high temperatures vs record lows
    migrating species of plants and animals (poleward or to higher elevations)

    Global warming emerged from the noise several decades ago. Pretending the only sign of it is NASA’s temperature analysis would be childish.

    Perhaps I simply misunderstood your statement.

  44. 194
    Brian Dodge says:

    Given the widely noted slow warming from 1998 to 2008, it has been unclear why arctic sea ice melt accelerated during that period.
    I propose that the transient increase in energy going into the oceans as a result of ENSO/PDO and other mechanisms* slowed the increase in air temperatures but increased ice melt from below.

    *The top ~5 meters of the ocean have as much heat capacity as the atmosphere. How big an increase in the flow of the Gulf Stream would be required to carry away enough joules to balance the increased forcing from CO2 between 1998 and 2008? Are strong ENSO cycles associated with changes in ocean currents that could carry large amounts of energy, and perhaps persist long enough to influence the amount of global warming for a decade?

    The comments about %50 percent of the variability in weather due to sunspots probably comes from the paper discussed here. Its only England(analysis was based on CET), its only 0.5 degrees C change from min to max solar cycle, and natural variability swamps the signal, unless you have a large dataset amenable to statistical analysis -“The winter of 1684 was the coldest in the whole record,” says Lockwood. “But the very next year, when solar activity was still low, was the third warmest.” Hence the use of CET.

    Why is “The Keeling Curve” called a curve? Because calling it a “hockey stick” is considered politically incorrect.

  45. 195
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 191 Gwinnevere – okay, place an object at your desk, and push it at a constant rate (could be a constant force equal to the friction force). Fit a curve to the evolution of position as a function of time. Now predict what happens. If you only extrapolate the curve, this implicitly assumes that you continue to push it at a constant rate. But if you pushed harder or took your hand off of the object at some time in the future, the motion would be different, and your prediction would have failed. What if the object reaches the edge of the desk? What if it bumps into something affixed to the desk and you can’t push hard enough to keep it moving? What if somebody spilled coffee or glue on the desk? What if part of the desk has grooves on it and the object starts to wobble as it is pushed? What if you sneeze? What if lightning strikes nearby and you are startled and jerk and the object flies right off the desk? You could predict some (not all) of these things if you only looked at the desk, or considered what you are planning to do with your object pushing. You can’t necessarily know all you need to know to make predictions if you only look at the trajectory of the object over a limited time period.

  46. 196
    Susan Anderson says:

    Gwinnevere, I noticed the difficult writing format and your conclusions, which if true, would be worldshaking. There was also your leading assumption that you would be banned, which comes from a certain quarter where rumors don’t always match facts. There was your condescension, particularly in your attack on Wayne Davidson, who actually does science in the far north and belongs to a somewhat rarified group therefore. Then there’s your chosen identification, which references a certain romantic ideology.

    However, I did get a little above myself, letting my nose for fake skepticism (real skeptics are not so eager to find fault with one side and hold up the other) and instinct tread beyond my knowledge. I hope you will pay attention to the people here, who are taking the trouble to work with you, and pursue the evidence honestly. I am not a scientist, though I have multiple associations with science and spent a brief while studying biochemistry at MIT and a much longer time there teaching scientists how to draw. I’ve studied climate hard and watched the evidence, intently for the last decade, but will never be a physicist.

    I had resolved to behave myself since I’m sinning above my station here, but your odd presentation was too tempting and I blew it again. Mea culpa, somewhat, and not just to you.

  47. 197
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Regarding the hypothesis that increased sulfate aerosols from
    > China suppressed warming, wouldn’t that effect be more pronounced
    > in the northern hemisphere?

    I recall (but haven’t rediscovered) mention several years ago that there are clear differences in the photochemistry depending on the distance from the equator — it was a discussion of the difference between how coal-burning in England and Europe’s early days differed from the current coal-burning by China and India much closer to the Equator. Different sun angle, different solar spectrum impinging on the material emitted, different day lengths, different temperature.

    Perhaps someone recalls where that’s been written up.

  48. 198
    john byatt says:

    Australia Carbon Tax announced, one small step for Australia,
    The main points:

    Initial carbon price of $23 per tonne of carbon pollution to be paid by the 500 heaviest emitters and increasing by 2.5 per cent in real terms.
    A transition to a market-based emissions trading scheme in 2015.
    $9.2 billion from the revenue stream to help businesses and workers impacted by the plan.
    Tax cuts and pension increases to protect people from higher prices.
    A $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program to improve energy efficiency in manufacturing and to support research and development.
    Australia’s most polluting electricty generators will be closed and replaced with gas-fired units by 2020.
    A $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation to fund new clean energy technology.
    An Australian Renewable Energy Agency to manage a $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation to fund new clean energy technology.
    An Australian Renewable Energy Agency to manage a $3.2 billion clean energy budget.
    A target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
    Agriculture excluded from paying the carbon price.
    80% reduction by 2050

    all in vain as the opposition, conservatives will tear it down when they gain power in a few years time after a massive anti-science campaign

  49. 199
    dhogaza says:

    I had resolved to behave myself since I’m sinning above my station here, but your odd presentation was too tempting and I blew it again. Mea culpa, somewhat, and not just to you.

    No need to apologize, unless you’re upset that you misidentified a crank for a denialist.

  50. 200
    dhogaza says:

    Patrick 027 …

    You’re giving him too much credit by assuming he was talking about curve fitting in his example.

    He’s talking about flicking something off a surface and computing the track of the object as being a function of the two vectors describing its initial velocity with the accelerating downward vector that results from gravity.

    And suggesting this is somehow equivalent to/support for his curve fitting exercise.

    Assuming I understood his english (at which he sucks, as he does at trying to describe his thoughts mathematically, so maybe I’m wrong).