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Unforced variations: Oct 2011

Filed under: — gavin @ 1 October 2011

Open thread for October…

409 Responses to “Unforced variations: Oct 2011”

  1. 301
    Bob Loblaw says:

    Re: Richard Bird @ 294, question 2

    There is no fixed answer, because “dense” is not a fixed optical property. I’ve seen things so dark that the number is probably at most a few percent. I’ve seen heavy overcasts that let a lot of light through. It is possible to define, measure, and model optical properties of clouds so that a more specific question can be answered. “Optical depth” would be a good place to start a Google search.

  2. 302
    Witgren says:

    This is making the rounds on the internet, hopefully RC can make some preliminary comments on it while it wends it way through peer review:

    “Global warming ‘confirmed’ by independent study”

    [Response: Thanks, I had not seen that yet. Amusing that Muller is surprised that their results match that of several independent groups. He could have figured this out in about five minutes, as I did (see here). Of course, then he wouldn’t be getting all the attention he is getting. Sheesh–eric]

  3. 303
    Dan says:

    In case this has not already been posted, a new “independent” study “confirms” global warming:

  4. 304

    #289 David,

    A way to judge clean air is the sun disk colour at sunset, very bright slightly yellow was the pre industrial age norm. Not red neither orange. As bright as impossible to look at. My blog deals again with very strange high altitude cloud streaks perpendicular to the sun position. I believe these are cloud precursors. Massive CCN aggregates in the lower stratosphere. Until proved otherwise I call them cloud seeds. I am interested in their observations outside of Canada.

  5. 305
    CM says:

    Eric @302,

    But their slightly faster-warming “very rural stations” (discussion at Tamino’s) are another easy-to-grasp nail in the coffin of UHI-based denial (and looks set to be more widely publicized than Menne et al. 2010). Isn’t that a redeeming quality?

    [Posted twice. How could my reCaptcha response “rchob wayahuga” possibly be incorrect? :-) ]

  6. 306
    CM says:

    On the other hand, deniers will probably just switch to blaming global surface temperature records for RHO (Rural Heat Ocean) bias. They will excoriate GISS and Hadley/CRU for hiding the Sheep Albedo decline. Watch WUWT for a new citizen science project with photo galleries of how shockingly, shoddily shorn of sheep rural stations have grown across the country.

  7. 307
    Hank Roberts says:

    “From the second paper:

    The small size, and its negative sign, [of the urban heat island effect] supports the key conclusion of prior groups that urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change.

    This pretty much confirms the recent work of Menne et al. (2010) and the Watts paper and will hopefully put this issue to bed. Indeed, the third paper, which specifically mentions Watts in the abstract in relation to SurfaceStations, then goes on to show that US station quality makes little impact on the recorded trend….”

  8. 308

    “How could my reCaptcha response “rchob wayahuga” possibly be incorrect? :-)”

    Well, it certainly SOUNDS authentic. . .

    [“because squilthc”]

  9. 309
    Hunt Janin says:

    I’ve read that “sea level rise is progressibly changing coastlines. The legal implications for the seaward boundaries between neighboring coastal states are neither straightforward nor forseeable.” (Source: Houghton et al, “Maritime boundaries in a rising sea”, Nature Geoscience, Vol.3, December 2010.)

    If anybody knows something about this issue, I’d like to hear from them for my coauthored book on sea level rise.

  10. 310
    CM says:

    Hunt #309,

    I know squat about it, but someone’s aggregated a nice set of articles here:

  11. 311
    Michael Reisner says:


    Need some help. I recently gave a lecture on climate change to a class with over 250 students. About 8 hours after the lecture, the entire class list received an email from a gmail account that is not listed as an email address for any student registered at the university for at least the last three years. The email sender went to great lengths to try to disguise the source of the email.

    Before I use this as a teachable moment for the class next week, I would like to gather as much information as possible.

    Here the text of the email:

    Dear Students,

    Attached to this page is a list of hundreds of peer-reviewed papers that support skeptical arguments against anthropogenic global warming. With all due respect to Dr. Reisner and his information; the list is simply being made available for you to assess the information that has been collected against global warming. An exhaustive search of the provided peer-reviewed papers will show that substantial scientific evidence has been set forth against AGW by many qualified scientists. This is a fact that is not being made available to students in universities by their instructors or their textbooks. Please critically review the information.

    It links to a blog site (Popular with a list of “900 peer reviewed papers” arguing against climate change.

    Is anyone familar with this blog website; including who is behind it etc. I would appreciate any information you can provide.

  12. 312
    Septic Matthew says:

    I have a question. After reading the Padilla et al paper that I linked earlier, I got to thinking that the transient climate response (over 70 years as Padilla et al used, or over any specific range from 40 – 100 years) was the most important single quantity that needs to be known for public policy purposes, because the equilibrium response will most likely occur over a span of 2,000 – 4,000 years. Paraphrasing a widely cited quote from James Hansen, this is the quantity most relevant to the lives of James Hansen’s grandchildren. If there is, as I suggest, a single most important quantity for public policy purposes, what do you think it is? Perhaps, from thinking about Barton Paul Levenson’s simulations, it might be the expected time to civilizational collapse.

  13. 313
    Hank Roberts says:

    An interesting collection of papers (titles in English)
    (regret I don’t read Japanese to see what’s written about the papers, but many of them look worth some comments by those who’d follow the subjects covered):
    東京大学大気海洋研究所 横山祐典研究室
    (Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, the University of Tokyo)

  14. 314
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Michael Reisner
    Oh, Poptech. Yeah I know it. Let us just say that I have interacted with this individual on several occasions, and on none of them has he ever passed the Turing test. He will post a list of “400” or “800” or however many papers he claims refute anthropogenic climate change. But if you ask him about any single paper, he merely repeats that he has 800 papers that … He doesn’t realize the Energy & Environment isn’t peer reviewed, doesn’t understand what the papers say well enough to see they don’t support his case. Just doesn’t understand.

    The guy couldn’t find his tuckus with both hands and a GPS. Hates Sourcewatch, hates Snopes, hates any tool that might expose him for the lying libertarian loon he is (IMHO). He can be fun if you have a cruel streak and like to play with your prey.

    My guess, one of your students went crying to him and supplied the list of students.

  15. 315
    Paul Tremblay says:

    >>It links to a blog site (Popular with a list of “900 peer reviewed papers” arguing against climate change.

    I’ve had to answer to denialists who use this site as well. Sorry I can’t give you specific reasons why poptech is wrong. I usually go through a few of the papers and point out that they don’t support poptech’s position. Then I point out that Oreskes did a study published in *Science,* a reputable journal, and found that 600 articles supported AGW, and none refuted it. The study is a bit old, but the numbers haven’t changed that much.

    Underlining the discrepancy, I state note if poptech were right, then not only is Oreskes wrong, but really, really wrong, and that *Science* would be negligent in publishing Oreskes, or at least in not correcting her.

    I end by asking which source they think correct, an established journal, or a website?

  16. 316
    Paul Tremblay says:

    Sorry. I should have written that Oreskes found 600 peer-reviewed articles, not mere articles (which everyone here probably knows, anyway).

  17. 317
    David B. Benson says:

    wayne davidson @304 — Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. In addition, post-sunset in New Mexico (1950s-1960s, before the Four Corners coal burner) red sky was common; plenty of dut in the air.

    In the pix on your site, all I see are the clouds just above the horizon. In any case, that particular evening there were no clouds but obviously there were plenty of aeorsols to scatter the light over the horizon so I could see it.

  18. 318
    john byatt says:

    #311, Poptech has been banging on about his list of papers for years now,
    Greenfyre may be still watching, most are over it. They do know the name of poptech though,

    post comment here at

  19. 319
    john byatt says:

    Michael #311 , here is another take down of Poptech (Andrew) at skeptical science,


  20. 320
  21. 321
    dhogaza says:

    Michael Reisner:

    It links to a blog site (Popular with a list of “900 peer reviewed papers” arguing against climate change.

    As Ray said, “poptech” is a well-known crank.

    If you have some time to start skimming the papers you cite, you’ll find that quite a few of them don’t, as Ray hints, argue against (anthropogenic) climate change.

    A few of those examples should make it clear to your students, at least those who are paying attention, that the dude isn’t capable of understanding the papers he cites.

  22. 322

    #317 David, the sailors were drunk when signing this fable, Red skies usually indicate moisture, dust or haze, if short lived on a really clear night , horizon red betrays a sun approximately 5 degrees below the horizon from Rayleigh scattering. In Montreal the evening before Irene’s passing had a shinny red twilight after sunset. I have not noticed this good weather forecasting power from red. However, on a clear night you will always see those dark streaks at sunset, very interestingly perpendicular to sun rays, suggesting polarized light effect, aerosols revealed by horizontal light rays is a clue. If you see them all the way to your position from the sun below ground, it means rain, lots of it.

  23. 323


    IIRC, several authors of papers on his list have stated that their work is not in disagreement with AGW, and some have even asked (to no avail) to have their work removed from the list.

  24. 324

    @ Michael Reisner

    You may also wish to review this Skeptical Science page for your students as it covers the history of peer-reviewed, published climate science papers:

    The direct link to the visualization itself is:

  25. 325
    Hank Roberts says:

    Whoever does “poptech” must have a 24- hour search engine running, because like some of the older arcana of Usenet, anyone mentions the name and someone will pop up to comment. Have a look for example at the thread around this post; as someone says a bit before that, a few people chase each other around the Internet posting the same thing over and over. And, lo: (quite typical of many similar exchanges out there).

  26. 326
    Former Skeptic says:

    Michael Reisner @ 311:

    Poptech (Andrew) has been debunked in numerous places. Greenfrye’s posts listed above would be the best place to start for a detailed explanation to the list’s flaws.

    If you want to see the sort of unpleasant crank Poptech is, feel free to observe when he visited PZ Myers’ blog (starting from post #197). Notice how deranged he becomes when challenged with facts, albeit with R-rated language typical at Pharyngula. To quote PZ himself when he addressed poptech:

    Your credibility is in tatters. All I see here is evidence that you’re a histrionic idiot.

    Go away. One of the surest kooksigns I know is when a thread is taken over by a monomanical nitwit who keeps it going and going and going with his inane obstinance…and there you are.

  27. 327
    Susan Anderson says:

    Wayne Davidson, interesting, you appear to provide some science to back up this old saying:

    “red at night, shepherd’s delight
    “red in the morning, sailors take warning”

    Though I take this kind of thing with a grain of salt, it is one useful input.

  28. 328
    Hank Roberts says:

    > red sky

    That observation goes way back; the general circulation of the atmosphere from west to east means most weather comes from the west.

    Scholar turns up among many others:

    Mnemonic strategies: Creating schemata for learning enhancement
    PS Goll – Journal article; Education, 2004 –
    … (19) A mariner’s rhyme, “Red sky at night; sailor’s delight;/Red sky at morning, sailor take warning,” will find a Biblical association in Matthew 16:2-3 “When it is evening you say, ‘The weather will be fair, for the sky is red.’ And in the …”

    Meteorology and Weather Lore
    D Brunt – Folklore, 1946 – JSTOR
    … If at sunset the western sky is a dull grey, we conclude that bad weather is coming up from the west. The red sky at morning which threatens bad weather is generally of a totally different character, and is of the nature of rather thick and fairly high cloud illuminated from below. …

  29. 329
    Septic Matthew says:

    314 Ray Ladbury: and on none of them has he ever passed the Turing test.

    That is an amazingly good dig! applause, applause.

  30. 330
    RussH says:

    Can anyone explain to me why global temperatures decreased from ~1940 to ~1975? I’ve been told that this was due to aerosol particles or sulphates in the atmosphere but from what source? Industry, WW2, natural?

    OK, so if this was the reason for the dip then why does it mirror the trend in the global temperatures of that effected by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation? How can one explanation ignore the other? And also the rise after 1975 mirrors the pattern of the AMO going into a warm phase again? How can that be? Surely if the forcing of the AMO and GHGs is a combination then the GHG forcing may be much lower than expected for one reason or another?

  31. 331
    Hank Roberts says:

    For RussH:

    Environmental and Energy Engineering
    Insights on global warming John H. Seinfeld
    Article first published online: 11 OCT 2011
    DOI: 10.1002/aic.12780

  32. 332

    Hank, the power of words transcend generations, even when they are false. In this case they might explain the Bermuda triangle, graveyard for many ancient ships. A sailor in the Caribbean seeing red sky from the West at night, might relax, smoke his pipe in delight, but in the morning fighting the wrath of a Hurricane raging from the East. Fascinating that even a science paper put some credence to it, although red sky can be seen between cloud systems moving from the West but with baroclinic driven winds from the South bringing thunderstorms so loud. In essence the clearest nights usually indicate a nice next day, but I give it 50% probability. Its the clue in the sky that one must look for, fast moving cirrus usually have a story to tell.

    >The red sky at morning which threatens bad weather is generally of a totally different character, and is of
    >the nature of rather thick and fairly high cloud illuminated from below. …

    This one is better, but meaning eastbound weather, which indicates a likely nice day (if staying in place) following the Cirrus at the end boundary of a weather system. The lower clouds are clearing eastwards making the lower sky horizon open but the top blocked. This way only red gets through and the bottom end of high clouds are magnificent with red hues like a Van Gogh painting.

  33. 333
    John E. Pearson says:

    Haven’t been on here for a while.

    I don’t know if the results of BEST have been discussed here today or not.

    Here’re the final two paragraphs of Muller’s column in the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal today. This is interesting because Anthony (is that the right name) Watt’s agreed that he’d agree with whatever Muller found.

    When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.

    Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.

  34. 334
    Brian Dodge says:

    I’ve been reading Curry’s and Watts blogs on the release of Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature papers, and it appears that one new meme is “we skeptics never actually said there’s no warming in the last n years, or since the Little Ice Age, which this recent data is just part of; we question the accuracy of the trends (more or less positive, but which may include zero), and the attribution to anthropogenic CO2”. There are still some “I can safely claim that the conclusions of these four papers are false – without even reading them” diehards, and a little goalpost moving – “In concluding, I will remind everyone that the REAL problem with the surface temperature data set lies with the ocean data.”

    recaptcha – riskty Springer (well, I think its funny)

  35. 335
    David B. Benson says:

    wayne davidson — Here is the Pacitic Northwest, the sailor’s have it about right. While there aren’t any sailors in New Mexico, one can replace sailors by shepards and have it about right.

    The only vertically oriented feature associated with sunsets that I’ve observed are sundogs, rather rarely.

  36. 336
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS for RussH, another fellow put forth the same notion you did about the 1940s-1970s and ocean temps; see the response inline:

  37. 337
    Susan Anderson says:

    don’t know where my childhood meme got distorted, but I think the shepherd typo is probably UK or elsewhere in Europe.

    BEST is interesting – Muller chasing fame? Gets credit no matter what. Is the data treatment really either new or useful? Just asking.

  38. 338
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ever feel a little funny when you reply yet again to rebunking? I do. I think this guy’s figured it out:

    “… whoppers and true tales of science illiteracy …..”

  39. 339
  40. 340
    David B. Benson says:

    Susan Anderson @337 — BEST pushed the instrumental record back to 1800 CE. That might be useful.

  41. 341

    335 David , Horizontal dark streaks, although vertical ones break the monotony. Look carefully at the
    sun position, you will see them perpendicular to sun rays.

    #327 there was ancient science in it, which surprisingly tried to simplify complexities of weather.
    sounds familiar….. I wish hearing more perhaps other sayings fare better.

  42. 342

    #328–“D. Brunt–JSTOR–”

    That would be Sir David Brunt (though in his pre-knighthood days.) He served as President of the Royal Met Society, and–interestingly for climate change buffs–was part of the committee who administered the curious “viva voce” examination Guy Callendar survived as part of the publication process for “The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide. . .” in 1938.

    That’s a story I retail, along with much other “curious and forgotten lore” in my article on the history of the science of back-radiation and surface radiation:

  43. 343
  44. 344
    Edward Greisch says:

    304 wayne davidson: Check 2 July 2011 “NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Last night, a bank of rippling electric-blue noctilucent clouds spilled across the Canadian border into the lower United States. In doing so, the glowing clouds made the farthest excursion of the year away from their usual polar realm.  Reports of bright NLCs are coming in from Oregon, Washington, Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota and elsewhere.  Visit for images and observing tips.  ”
    “I took my camera to a spot along Washington’s Hood Canal for a panoramic view,” says Rosenow. “It was a visually stunning display that stretched as far as the eye could see.” NLC reports are also coming in from Oregon, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Minnesota, and in Europe as far south as France. (Stay tuned for updates.)
    Back in the 19th century, these mysterious clouds were confined to polar regions. In recent years, however, NLCs have spread toward the equator, appearing in places such as Utah, Colorado, and perhaps even Virginia. Is this a sign of climate change? Some researchers think so. Sky watchers at all latitudes are encouraged to be alert for electric blue just after sunset or before sunrise; observing tips may be found in the 2011 NLC gallery.
    UPDATED: 2011 Noctilucent Cloud Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009]
    311 Michael Reisner: I have heard of software that backtracks stuff like that, but it was many years ago. Named Angel or Devil or Diabolo or something like that. Check with Your local cyber-warfare branch …..

  45. 345
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    “red sky at night” and all that – color words may not mean the hue they do to you, especially from old sources.

  46. 346
  47. 347
    john byatt says:

    Anyone like to put this from Best Paper #4 into laymen language, Afraid that i will get it wrong. thanks in advance

    Given that the 2-15 year variations in world temperature are so closely linked to the
    AMO raises (or re-raises) an important ancillary issue: to what extent does the 65-70
    year cycle in AMO contribute to the global average temperature change? (Enfield,
    2006; Zhang et al., 2007; Kerr, 1984.) Since 1975, the AMO has shown a gradual but
    steady rise from -0.35 C to +0.2 C (see Figure 2), a change of 0.55 C. During this same
    time, the land-average temperature has increased about 0.8 C. Such changes may be
    independent responses to a common forcing (e.g. greenhouse gases); however, it is
    also possible that some of the land warming is a direct response to changes in the
    AMO region. If the long-term AMO changes have been driven by greenhouse gases
    then the AMO region may serve as a positive feedback that amplifies the effect of
    greenhouse gas forcing over land. On the other hand, some of the long-term change in
    the AMO could be driven by natural variability, e.g. fluctuations in thermohaline
    flow. In that case the human component of global warming may be somewhat

  48. 348
    isotopious says:


    Hank, the temperature was dead flat during that period, because there was a series of La Nina events / cycles. Now if you want to argue that the temperature should have fallen during that time, you might want to remember that you are comparing that cooling forcing on the back of 20000 years of warming, so you’d hardly expect it to immediately start going into an ice age now, would you? I’m pretty sure these things have time signatures!

  49. 349
    J Bowers says:

    For Michael Reisner, pass these on to the students:

    * Meet The Denominator
    * Poptart’s 450 climate change Denier lies
    * Poptech’s list of Confusion

  50. 350
    Hunt Janin says:

    I’m now fnishing up my coauthored book on sea level rise and have been looking, in vain, for a happy-clappy, positive conclusion. Alas, my best judgment is that, with the exception of the Netherlands and to a lesser extent the UK, no other country is doing very much at the national level. If so, it follows that sea level rise of a least 1.5 meters (probably more) will occur by 2100. If you disagree with this conclusion, please tell me why.