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Unforced Variations: Sep 2011

Filed under: — group @ 1 September 2011

This month’s open thread…


352 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Sep 2011”

  1. 1
    Hunt Janin says:

    For use in my coauthored book on sea levell rise, I need some dramatic, professional-quality photos of storm surges.

    Any suggestions where I can buy them?

  2. 2
    prokaryotes says:

    About climate cartoons and print…

    Here is a version im working on atm…
    http://246410.spreadshirt.de/men-s-t-shirt-by-american-apparel-A17227017

    Notice this is not the final version, a later version will be scalable and then can be used on cheaper products. hence less costs :) This is american apparel with front/back printings. And soon there will be a Tshirt designer tool which lets you design your own Tshirt (colors/products and my motives) Cheers

  3. 3
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Will La Niña resume? There is no sign of El Niño.
    ENSO wrap up

  4. 4
    JCH says:

    Hunt Janin – Boston.com has this page with lots of photographs of the storm surge caused by Ike.

  5. 5
    Radge Havers says:

    Hunt Janin @ 1

    Don’t know if this is where you’re heading, there are a number of stock photography houses online. You may have to spend a good chunk of time sifting through dross to get the image that suits you. I pulled this site at random, for instance:
    http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/storm.html

    You might want to Google “best graphic design stock photo resources” (or some such) and pro artist sites to catch the buzz on reputations of various houses. Getty Images and Corbis are big names in the biz (or were back when I was paying attention to this sort of thing).

    One thing we used to do was drill down on — ask for guidance (pester) — people at agencies like the USGS or academic sites for images. It’s leg work, you may want to assign it to an assistant.

  6. 6
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Malamud, blogs, bunnies and the warming of Mauna Loa: it’s quite a tale.

  7. 7
    CM says:

    Hunt #1,

    Dunno about stock imagery in general, but I’m quite taken with this photo. It sums up both problem and cause with a hint of poetic justice.

  8. 8
    Paul from VA says:

    Can anyone point me to a paper describing the method of how radiometric satellite temperature measurements are converted to an atmospheric temperature profile? I’ve read a few internet sources, but none have given me a satisfactory answer…..

  9. 9

    Notes from the ‘real world’–Germany produced more than 20% of electricity from renewables for the first time:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,783314,00.html

  10. 10
    Adam R. says:

    August’s heat in Houston was a 1-in-10,000-year event

    http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2011/09/august-in-houston-was-a-1-in-10000-year-event/

  11. 11
    Sceptical Wombat says:

    So called “Skeptics” like to quote the IPPC as saying that because of the chaotic nature of climate systems it is impossible to predict future “climate states.” What exactly does the IPPC mean by “climate state?” I suspect that it a technical term used by modelers but unfortunately it is not defined in the TAR.

    [Response: They mean the exact state of the climate at any point in the future. Because of the chaotic nature of the weather, there are irreducible uncertainties in whether, for instance, there will be an El Nino or a La Nina or some in between state in December 2050. That does not however imply that certain metrics are not predictable (within those bounds). For instance, the global mean temperature will predictably cool after an large volcanic eruption regardless of the state of ENSO, the seasonal cycle is predictable regardless of the state of the NAO etc. The TAR statement is correct, but (as is often the case), the 'skeptic' interpretation is a misleading distortion. - gavin]

  12. 12
    David B. Benson says:

    Kevin McKinney @9 — Also note that Germany has shifted from being a net exporter of electricity to being a net importer:
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP_No_nuclear_back_up_for_Germany_3108111.html
    [Although both your comment and mine are, strictly speaking, off-topic on Real Climate.]

  13. 13
    Radge Havers says:

    prokayotes @ 2

    Love the dinosaur!

  14. 14
    EFS_Junior says:

    #1 Hunt Janin,

    I use to work for the USACE ERDC CHL (Coastal & Hydraulics Laboratory) and I’ve seen many before and after aerial photographs, which, I believe, were taken mostly by the USGS.

    These are usually the most dramatic, as you can see overwash fans, many missing/destroyed coastal buildings, loss/retreat of the foreshore beach, etceteras.

    For ground level imagery, dune erosion and waves overtopping coastal structures immediately come to mind, and I know that CHL has done literally hundreds of coastal studies, again I can ask around about that type of imagery.

    I could ask the folks I still know at CHL about storms like Katrina and Rita (2005), Dolphin Island overwash, and if that doesn’t work, and if I have the time, I know I’ve seen these aerial images on the web, in data reports, or some such.

    I believe storm surge exceeded 10m on the Gulf coast, in places, during Katrina, so while sea level may rise by, let’s say, one meter in a 50-100 year timeframe, that is still an order of magnitude less than possible storm surges.

    But then again, if your typical barrier island has a mean elevation of, let’s say three meters, than a sea level rise of one meter, will have a rather dramatic effect given enough time for significant storm events to occur.

  15. 15
    Doug Bostrom says:

    NPP satellite is moved to Vandenburg, for launch in late October.

    Happily they’re not launching on one of those pathetic little bottlerockets with the fairings that never seem to come off properly thus dooming two important and absurdly scarce climate investigation missions in back-back failures over the past few years. This one’s going up on a Delta 2, which has a 99% success rate as opposed to the stunning-in-the-wrong-way 66% of the Taurus.

    Here’s a question: if we insist on man-rated launch vehicles for crew as small as a single astronaut, why do satellites critical to the welfare of millions or even billions of people ride on recycled ICBM boosters? Sure, it may seem more expensive to do man-rated gear, but a few launch failures down the road and the big savings from putting a cheap gloss on old Peacekeeper missile designs begin to look rather paltry.

  16. 16
    prokaryotes says:

    Thank you Radge, btw is there any news, progress with the evidence on the extinction theories of the dinosaurs?
    Even if we have the high impact theory, would it be technically correct to connect dinosaurs and climate change? Because in such an event the climate would have been changed considerably…

    Climate Change Killed Dinosaurs, Scientist Says
    http://www.aolnews.com/2010/03/28/climate-change-killed-dinosaurs-german-scientist-says/

  17. 17
    ccpo says:

    So called “Skeptics” like to quote the IPPC as saying that because of the chaotic nature of climate systems it is impossible to predict future “climate states.” What exactly does the IPPC mean by “climate state?”

    [Response: They mean the exact state of the climate at any point in the future. Because of the chaotic nature of the weather, there are irreducible uncertainties in whether, for instance, there will be an El Nino or a La Nina or some in between state in December 2050. That does not however imply that certain metrics are not predictable (within those bounds). For instance, the global mean temperature will predictably cool after an large volcanic eruption regardless of the state of ENSO, the seasonal cycle is predictable regardless of the state of the NAO etc. The TAR statement is correct, but (as is often the case), the 'skeptic' interpretation is a misleading distortion. - gavin]

    Comment by Sceptical Wombat

    Put another way, they are setting up the Straw Man logical fallacy. The IPCC, nor any other serious climate scientist I know of, engages in making predictions. By claiming, falsely, that predictions have been made, they can then bash the “prediction” when it doesn’t come true.

    They like to ignore that probabilities and scenarios are not predictions. More accurately, they like to falsely characterize them as predictions when they are not.

  18. 18
    MikeCoombes says:

    This is probably available somewhere but I don’t know where to look.

    One often sees plots of average instrumental global temperature anomalies versus time with the ensemble average of climate models. However aren’t Tmax versus time and Tmin versus time interesting as well since (as I understand it) GHGs are supposed to effect Tmax and Tmin differently? Are the instrumental and model ensemble Tmax and Tmin comparisons available anywhere? Thanks.

  19. 19
    CM says:

    Gavin’s response at #11 — missing negation:
    > That does not however imply that certain metrics are predictable
    Should be: unpredictable

    [Response: Indeed. Thanks. - gavin]

  20. 20
  21. 21
    jyyh says:

    there’s also the pretty large conversion of ferns to angiosperms happening thereabouts so if a dinosaur wasn’t a seed-eater the impact would have been pretty damning, maybe birds survived for this?

  22. 22

    #1, #14–Well, if hurricane storm surge counts, picture #5 on this page captures–for me, at least–the surreal appearance of Pensacola Beach after a major hit. That famous white sand is deposited all over the roads, looking for all the world like snowdrift–strange indeed when you are standing there in 85 degree (F) temperatures.

    http://www.pbdisasterservices.com/resource_center/gallery/default.asp?pid=-1&page_size=-1&sort_filter=0

  23. 23
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Even Capital Climate is commenting on the media’s refusal to even speak the word.

    Although moderator Gwen Ifill and NPR correspondent and Texas native Wade Goodwyn correctly recognized this as the “worst drought in Texas history”, the word “climate” was not even uttered. (Neither was it mentioned in the 3 minutes of coverage on the flooding from Hurricane Irene.) With the governor of the state embarked on a vicious anti-science campaign, shouldn’t the question at least have been asked? Apparently the reporters have bought into the inane prayer meme:

  24. 24
    Kevin C says:

    I keep expecting to start seeing papers about now on whether we can expect further years of anomalous winter jet stream. Has anything been published this year that I’ve missed? Or is the lead time longer in climate science than the typical ~2 months in my own field?

  25. 25
    jyyh says:

    Kevin C: I’ve been on the impression it would do it again but the strenghtening (if it does so) solar cycle would keep it more ordinary. (Internal variability has less room to do tricks (oh no, the word) when solar radiation is stronger). Expecting cooler winters (+.25C, though)again in 10 years. I’ve got no hard scientific papers to back this up though.

  26. 26
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    jyyh @ 20 links to new storms in the Gulf. The storms ought to disperse this new oil leak for a while. Out of sight out of mind – what little mind society has anymore.

  27. 27
    SteveF says:

    The editor of Remote Sensing has resigned over the publication of the Spencer and Braswell paper:

    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/pdf

    Seems a bit hasty to me.

  28. 28
    Marco says:

    I think there’s a story on Spencer & Braswell’s paper that needs to be updated:
    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/
    “Taking Responsibility on Publishing the Controversial Paper “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance” by Spencer and Braswell, Remote Sens. 2011, 3(8), 1603-1613″

    Wolfgang Wagner resigns. A bit too much in my opinion, it ‘punishes’ the wrong person.

  29. 29
    Radge Havers says:

    prokaryotes @ 16

    Ah. I was mostly responding to the cool graphic. I wondered about the implied analogy, which I buy, but don’t know enough to comment on it’s strength in relation to that particular species of brontosaurus(?).

    Some people tend to respond quite literally to these things, but it seems to me that the message could easily be taken as more generally cautionary, i.e., wise up or go the way of buggy whips, whalebone corsets… dinosaurs. One of those artistic judgments: You want to anticipate the responses as best you can, but you don’t want to end up in the weeds over it — in “paralysis by analysis” as they say.

  30. 30
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Further damning evidence of Airstrip One’s disastrously dysfunctional Freedom-of-Information regime, as discussed under this post. Collaborate with British universities at your peril. (h/t Louise @Stoat)

  31. 31
    J says:

    Good lord. Seen the news about Spencer & Braswell?

    Paper withdrawn, editor-in-chief resigns.

    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/

    Not sure who saw this first; I read it at Stoat.

  32. 32
    Septic Matthew says:

    Here is evidence of another step forward:

    http://www.biofueldaily.com/reports/Biofuels_Make_a_Comeback_Despite_Tough_Economy_999.html

    If a 17% per year increase can be maintained, then the biofuel produced in 2050 will be appx 500 times as much as in 2010. Can it be maintained? In 2011 there have been better catalysts discovered and invented; fuel has been harvested from kelp, Far East seaweed and salt tolerant algae; and more work on breeding other salt-tolerant varieties; yields of biobutanol (a better fuel than ethanol) increased, and from more organisms and more feedstocks. With what has happened in 2011, I would be surprised if the growth of biofuel production averaged less than 25% per year over the next 10 years.

  33. 33
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    With so much heavy stuff happening I hesitate to bother anyone with a very basic question, but

    What is climate?

    One hears that the climate of a locale is the thirty year average of the weather in that locale. Or the average and some additional statistical properties such as the standard deviation in yearly rainfall. This is not quite satisfactory when the climate keeps changing and the climate of thirty years ago is gone, indeed the climate of fifteen years ago is about gone. Our cool La Niña years are now as warm as the warm El Niño years used to be for example.

    What is the term for climate as a dynamic process, non-stationary time series, with increasing variability (is it?) or the like?

    ================
    “Climate system” or where does weather come from? What is the overall cause of all the weather and its variance? [climate system and climate are not the same] Is there any established meaning for the term “climate system?” If not, what term may be used instead?

  34. 34
    Septic Matthew says:

    17, ccpo: The IPCC, nor any other serious climate scientist I know of, engages in making predictions. By claiming, falsely, that predictions have been made, they can then bash the “prediction” when it doesn’t come true.

    Without predictions there can be no confirmations of the predictions either.

    23, Pete Dunkelberg:Although moderator Gwen Ifill and NPR correspondent and Texas native Wade Goodwyn correctly recognized this as the “worst drought in Texas history”, the word “climate” was not even uttered.

    According to ccpo, no climate scientist has made any predictions concerning the relationship of Texas drought to AGW, so the non-mention of climate would be quite reasonable.

  35. 35
    Septic Matthew says:

    Here is another summary of steps taken in the forward direction, namely installation of PV power generation:

    http://www.solardaily.com/reports/US_PV_Installations_Forecast_to_Soar_166_Percent_in_2011_999.html

    Much of this growth is government mandated, subsidized, or both — which is to say, a result of citizen pressure and regulatory agencies. Not all of it,however, and for some places and some times, PV power has already passed a price “tipping point”, where it is the least expensive alternative: namely for peak power, mostly for A/C, in the sunniest states. Costs of production continue to decline, and will continue as the “concentrated PV” production lines are expanded and added to. Cost declines are due to cost reductions in all phases of making and installing PV panels.

    That item is about the US, but comparable progress is being made in China and other commercially powerful areas of the world, and in destitute areas of the world. The entire solar PV powered segment of the nationwide and worldwide energy industry will look much different in 2020 than in 2010.

  36. 36
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Here is an example what I mean by the climate of the recent past being gone.
    Arctic temperatures over the annual cycle are shown here for years 1958 through August 2011. Check the earliest and most recent five years. How much area is there between the red line and the green line, from above and then from below?

  37. 37
    SecularAnimist says:

    Doug Bostrom wrote: “… why do satellites critical to the welfare of millions or even billions of people ride on recycled ICBM boosters …”

    Hey, a recycled ICBM booster was good enough for the first warp drive ship … or rather it will be good enough when Zefram Cochrane gets around to inventing warp drive in 50 years or so …

  38. 38
    CM says:

    #26, 27, re: editor resigning over Spencer & Braswell,

    Spencer’s predictable damage control effort is of course that “the IPCC gatekeepers” have trampled scientific progress under their hobnailed boots. I guess nothing less than the Great Conspiracy will do to save face under the circumstances.

  39. 39
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    drop the meme: this exact event must have predicted, and now said to be caused in entirety by global warming, or the latter is not to be mentioned.

    There has been research for years on the expansion of the Hadley cells, increasing Palmer drought index, areas that tend to be hot and dry likely to become more so, ….

    one recent paper on my hard drive is

    Y. P. Zhou, Kuan‐Man Xu, Y. C. Sud, and A. K. Betts 2011.
    Recent trends of the tropical hydrological cycle inferred from Global Precipitation Climatology Project and International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project data

    and no, a precise drought in Texas in 2011 was not mentioned. The subject is global warming.

  40. 40
    Septic Matthew says:

    Another step forward, and last good news item for the year, from me, unless there is a fusion breakthrough, which I doubt:

    http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/Novel_alloy_could_produce_hydrogen_fuel_from_sunlight_999.html

    An improved catalyst for using sunlight to generate H2 from water. If successful, that is if the manufacturing produces the catalyst at a low enough cost and high enough volume, this could be a non-CO2 generating way to cheaply produce large, that is commercially important, amounts of H2. Other researchers have improved the storage of H2, which I’ll just post as an unsubstantiated claim for now. Like the other sectors of energy that I posted about, the H2-based sector of the national and international energy economies will look dramatically different in 2020, compared to now.

    To summarize: progress in producing alternative energy is admirable, and likely to continue, motivated mostly by a desire for cheaper, more reliable, more diverse energy supplies as the petroleum supply dwindles, but also by the desire to reduce all kinds of pollution from coal; by 2100 nearly all the energy of the industrialized world will come from renewable sources; by 2020 there will be much better information on how rapidly and how costly/cheaply the revolution can be achieved (and whether nuclear will play any role at all); the biggest uncertainty relevant to AGW is how rapidly that transition can be achieved.

  41. 41
  42. 42
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Septic Matthew says:
    2 Sep 2011 at 11:55 AM

    According to ccpo, no climate scientist has made any predictions concerning the relationship of Texas drought to AGW, so the non-mention of climate would be quite reasonable.

    Unless we’re talking about the Texas State Climatologist, John Nielsen-Gammon:

    “It’s clear, though, that when Texas is in a drought, global warming will make it worse. Higher temperatures lead to more evaporation during a drought, more rapid drying of the soil, and perhaps a stronger feedback loop whereby the dry weather prevents thunderstorms and perpetuates the drought during the summer. At the same time, more evaporation and more population means greater water demand and larger reductions in streamflow and inflow to reservoirs. So global warming has already amplified the impacts of the current drought.”

    Is 100 the new 90? A question to ponder amid Texas’ record heat and drought

  43. 43
    Septic Matthew says:

    39, Pete Dunkelberg: and no, a precise drought in Texas in 2011 was not mentioned. The subject is global warming.

    Then why was it remarkable that a discussion of the Texas drought omitted mention of climate?

  44. 44
    SecularAnimist says:

    Septic Matthew wrote: “… no climate scientist has made any predictions concerning the relationship of Texas drought to AGW …”

    That’s not true. Increased frequency and severity of droughts for the American southwest and southernmost Great Plains region, including Texas, has been one of the most robust predictions of climate change science.

    See for example the 2009 Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States report from the US Global Change Research Program.

  45. 45
    SecularAnimist says:

    Septic Matthew wrote: “why was it remarkable that a discussion of the Texas drought omitted mention of climate”

    Because the Texas drought is a near-perfect example of exactly the sort of extreme weather event that climate science has been telling us for years will result from anthropogenic global warming.

  46. 46
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    SM @ 43, (granted you probably hadn’t seen 42)
    1. drought is part of climate
    2. there is a climate change trend going on
    3. a greater than usual drought in Texas is in the direction of the trend

    conclusion:
    climate change is part of the story.

  47. 47
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Climate quiz

    1998 was an outlier in the direction of increasing global temperature
    2007 was an outlier in the direction of decreasing summer Arctic sea ice
    2011 is an outlier in the direction of Southwest NA dry heat

    How many years does it take an outlier in the direction of the trend to become the new normal?

  48. 48
    Sou says:

    @ #33 re climate and climate system, here are some definitions from a WMO paper- Chapter one, page 3 describes ‘climate’ and ‘climate system’.

    The WMO document, The role of climatological normals in a changing climate could be of interest as well.

  49. 49
    Susan Anderson says:

    Pete Dunkelberg @36 or 12:23 pm:
    “Arctic temperatures over the annual cycle are shown here for years 1958 through August 2011.”

    Can’t open the link, any chance of reposting it?

    jyyh@20 or 4:31 am, thanks for 3-body problem and Masters, helpful to this amateur.

    Lots of great chat re Remote Sensing – that is one climate hero!

    Fascinating about blaming the victim re Rahmstorf and Nazis. Typical. They can say anything and get away with it.

  50. 50
    Susan Anderson says:

    We could always use whale oil … humor at:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/09/02/1012635/-Energy-Conservation


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