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Climate indices to watch

Filed under: — rasmus @ 31 August 2012

What is the most important climate condition to keep tabs on? We have recently mentioned the record-low Arctic sea-ice extent, but hurricanes this year seem to be getting the most attention because of timing ofHurricane Isaac (I know of no evidence suggesting that the Arctic sea-ice has such a direct impact on U.S. politics!).

In addition, the status of ENSO issued by NOAA on August 27, 2012, states that El Niño conditions are likely to develop during August or September 2012, although the present state is classified as ‘ENSO-neutral‘. El Niño has a strong influence on local economies and societies in fairly extensive regions of the world. ENSO is a natural phenomenon, but may change under a changing climate and is interesting to watch over the long term.

It’s important to avoid getting lost into single indicators, however, as the climate system is complex, with many different parts interacting with one another. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) recently put out a statement on climate change, referring to a wide range of different climate indicators (here is a link for the most common ones). The AMS is not alone – the National Academy for Sciences (NAS) is also concerned about our climate and its many aspects: A fairly recent movie called Climate change at the NAS Climate Change: Lines of Evidence provides a comprehensive overview.

Both AMS and NAS accounts provide a rich picture of many different aspects with many different (important) details, which make them fairly long and complicated. This is why simple indices sometimes are used – to convey a simple message. We need both, and that’s why the NAS video and the AMS statement are so valuable – at least for the readers who understand what they are talking about. I’m not sure that everybody does, though.

R-script for making pretty picture

109 Responses to “Climate indices to watch”

  1. 51
  2. 52
    Jim Larsen says:

    50 Chris G said, “If so, it might be a clear indication of what we have to look forward to as the occurrence of 3-sigma and greater events increases. (And it would be useful in countering the CO2-is-plant-food meme.)”

    Excellent idea, but it would need adjustment for past and future technology and neglects adaptation. In the future, two or three different crops, one adapted to warm winters, another to brutal summers, might out-produce a single “regular” crop today. Plus, much of any decline could have been caused by farmers planting the wrong variety or species at the wrong time or nurtured in the wrong way precisely because they didn’t know 3-sigma events ain’t 3-sigma anymore.

    A 3-sigma event means it’s probably happened twice since the theoretical time of Jesus. Nobody plans for that.

  3. 53
    sidd says:

    Re: Agricultural yields, climate extremes

    The FAO has compendia of crop numbers. For example

    A calculation as suggested by Mr. Chris G. would indeed be interesting. I was toying with the idea of doing such, but I have not yet had time to compile a land mask with grid cells assigned to cropland by crop type(s)

    I am hoping (actually i am quite sure) that if i wait long enuf, someone else will do the hard work …


  4. 54
  5. 55
    dbostrom says:

    Hank’s link: if-2013-breaks-heat-record-how-will-deniers-respond.html

    The usual: 500

  6. 56
    Patrick says:

    Chartjunk: The term is attributed (link @14) to Edward Tufte, who wrote the book on statistical graphics–several.

    Chartjunk is relative to data density and the data-ink ratio in the chart. A particular problem of chartjunk is that it can mask lack of depth and lead to simplisitic thinking where it doesn’t belong.

    It’s easy enough to find out what kind of chartjunk Tufte criticized. Other Tufte terms are visual intelligence and envisioning information.

    Four of Tufte’s books, chronologically, are: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information; Envisioning Information; Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative; and Beautiful Evidence. Think I get the picture.

    Information can be visualized using two axes, more than two, and beyond. What is needed are charts that are founded on a depth of information, and that suggest it.

    This post strengthens “the signal to noise ratio” of the public discussion on climate [which is the express concern @ 14] a lot.

    The graphic is an accurate representation of the world I know, and of the subject: indices to watch.

    The NAS videos are excellent, even if they don’t quite get the voice right, or the music. That’s what communicating climate science projects are for.

    A Nobel laureate (R.H.) once said to a science writers’ conference: scientists use metaphor, too–we just don’t want you to think that we do.

  7. 57
    Mystified says:

    Would this be for real ?

    [Response: Unfortunately yes. Another example of how people can get rubbish papers past review if they are persistent enough and how the contrarian blogosphere has absolutely no scepticism for anything that they perceive supports their politics. The authors have in fact rediscovered that ENSO affects the carbon cycle – something that has been known for decades and something that has absolutely nothing to do with the trends in either CO2 or temperature. Their error is that in correlating the first differences they have removed the trend before they start. Curiously it is the same error that another paper made (McLean et al, 2009) as was pointed out in a comment we made (Foster et al, 2010). That comment would serve equally well as a comment on this new paper too. – gavin]

  8. 58
    Patrick says:

    45 Edward Greisch: Thank you. The point is that geo-engineering should be
    forethought, not afterthought.

  9. 59
    ozajh says:

    owl905 @ 48,


    The last paragraph of Chris G @ 50 spells out the point I was alluding to.

  10. 60

    #57 re. Foster et al, 2010

    And when will the denial/confusionist blogs claim McLean et al, 2009 and Humlum et al, 2012 a ‘trick’.

    Survey says: Shhhh…

  11. 61

    I couldn’t figure out why the arctic sea ice extent anomaly graph was not following the precipitous drop in arctic sea ice, but I can now see there appears to be a technical problem with the automated graphing display.

  12. 62
    Chris G says:

    Jim Larsen,
    Agreed on all points; couple of notes:

    I’ve been able to find some information to the effect that the improvements in yield/acre due to technology advances are tapering off, and a few claims that there is little more that can be gained given the limiting factor of the efficiency of photosynthesis. But what I’ve found so far is not in reviewed literature; so, I’m not highly confident it is accurate, yet.

    [Response:The biological component of yield is indeed generally asymptotic, but that depends on a lot of factors specific to the crop and the nature of its yield limits. And with genetic engineering constantly on the increase, I’m not sure the traditional concept of a yield ceiling has the same inherent limits that it used to when the slow and laborious process of breeding was the only means to improvement. There’s a big wild card element to that, because the molecular biologists are constantly coming up with new genetic transformation systems, and locating and cloning potentially very useful genes from a steadily increasing number of sources. Yes, photosynthetic and respiration rates represent complex processes that have already been under selection for many millions of years, and hence are unlikely to be improved upon in a big way any time soon. But other limitations, such as “harvest index” (harvestable product as a fraction of total biomass), insect and disease resistance, heat shock resistance and some other traits have a high heritability (hence subject to improvement by selection) and some of them are also very amenable to genetic engineering, so there is real room for improvement in some cases. However, the only substantial technological solution for losses due to drought, is irrigation, with all the potential issues (source, cost, salinification etc) that that entails.–Jim]

    The unpredictability of the weather during a growing season is exactly the nature of the problem. For instance, where I live is a mix of corn and wheat. Wheat takes less water and is harvested earlier than corn. The farmers that planted wheat did well; the ones who planted corn are getting from 0-50% of normal yield. I suspect there is a reason that where there is enough water, it’s almost all corn (and some milo and soybeans), and very little wheat; so, I don’t think the answer is to always plant wheat. (I don’t think that’s what you are thinking; I just want to head off possible misconceptions by others.)

    I thought that was where you were going, but decided it would not hurt to spell out the allusion.

    Thanks, the FAO information is interesting, but it would be easy enough to attribute (rightly or wrongly, and to what extent?) rising food prices to higher population and more meat-intensive diets, and very hard to know how much to attribute to yield losses. The cereal demand and supply is useful, but it is possible to increase supply simply by planting more, which is ongoing (and probably on less productive land). I was looking for a way to isolate some of these factors from the base number of yield/area. There is a finite amount of arable land, and irrigation problems are looming. If the components are isolated, it might be possible to make projections that give use more forewarning than waiting for the year when demand becomes greater than supply.

    That’s kind of already happening in some parts of the world. There are those that say it is a distribution problem, but I have little doubt that if the hungry people had more money, food would be distributed to them. When the wealthy countries have food production shortcomings, we will see two things: A shift of wealth to those with a food surplus, and starvation and strife in the countries unable to compete in the bidding. At some point the world food market will shift from one favoring buyers to one favoring sellers.

  13. 63
    Superman1 says:

    The metrics one selects depend on the objectives of the presentation. There is one group of metrics appropriate for a technical expert audience, another for entertainment purposes for the general public, and another if attempting to convince the public to change behaviors. For the latter, I find most of the climate blogs purporting to convey the seriousness of the climate change problem to the larger public to be a complete mismatch to the interests and capabilities of the public. Most of the charts and graphs that I see seem to exult in presenting as much data as can be crammed into the space available, independent of whether it is interpretable or not.

    Before I retired, I would hear many technical presentations. I noticed that as the decades proceeded, the graphics became heavier on data and lighter on analysis. The availability of voluminous data from computers and sensors simplified the process, and simple transferrence to vugraphs led to more complex visuals with less insight. So, we not only need the underlying metrics to be impedence-matched to the audience, but the mechanics of how this information is presented needs to be simplified greatly. Less data, more information.

  14. 64
    Superman1 says:

    The metrics one selects depend on the objectives of the presentation. There is one group of metrics appropriate for a technical expert audience, another for entertainment purposes for the general public, and another if attempting to convince the public to change behaviors. For the latter, I find most of the climate blogs purporting to convey the seriousness of the climate change problem to the larger public to be a complete mismatch to the interests and capabilities of the public. Most of the charts and graphs that I see seem to exult in presenting as much data as can be crammed into the space available, independent of whether it is interpretable or not.

    Before I retired, I would hear many technical presentations. I noticed that as the decades proceeded, the graphics became heavier on data and lighter on analysis. The availability of voluminous data from computers and sensors simplified the process, and simple transferrence to vugraphs led to more complex visuals with less insight. So, we not only need the underlying metrics to be impedence-matched to the audience, but the mechanics of how this information is presented needs to be simplified greatly. Less data, more information.

  15. 65
    M Tucker says:

    MARodger @36

    I am surprised by your resistance to the 400 ppmv number. I am surprised that you were unable to find any other sources online. It is not hard. “USGS PRISM” or “CO2 record of the Pliocene” will work. Even the IPCC Fourth Assessment: Climate Change 2007 gives a range of 360 to 400 ppm so the 400 ppmv number is not unimaginable.

    On the USGS site you can find a complete list of the USGS PRISM personnel and collaborators if that has any influence on your conclusion.

    In a paper by A M Haywood (one of the project collaborators) et al. (3/23/2011) the various proxies are discussed and evaluated. In his paper he discusses several studies of CO2 during the mid Pliocene.

    The Pagani et al. study using “a number of different mairne records” find a range of 365 to 415 ppmv.

    Seki et al. finds that using “the alkenone-based CO2 record is consistent with 400 ppmv”

    Dr Haywood says a “…range in CO2 estimates within the literature, and [the] fact that a number of the records and techniques can easily support a value of 405 ppmv…”

    I know that Dr Marci Robinson of the USGS PRISM project, a Research Geologist who specializes in planktic foraminifera and climate change research, also agrees with a CO2 concentration around 405 ppmv.

    The estimate of CO2 concentration of the mid-Pliocene is a part of on going research so more recent studies are much more credible and convincing than earlier studies. And, to quote from the Vision Statement from the PRISM project, “Future research will…develop an ultra high resolution CO2 record through the PRISM interval to define the variability.”

    So, for me at least, a CO2 concentration of about 400 ppmv, probably higher at about 405 ppmv, for the mid-Pliocene is documented and the ongoing research will more accurately define the variability. If you really would like to argue the science you should take it up with the actual scientists who are doing the work.

  16. 66
    John Mashey says:

    re: 61
    Yes to Jim’s comments, but it might be worth adding:

    a) Every time I’ve looked, there were big disparities of yields in different countries, i.e., at some point, a given plant variant is biologically asymptotic, which means there is way more upside in the less-developed countries.

    b) Irrigation: in lots of places, water = energy. If I recall correctly, in CA, we use ~20% of our electricity for pumping water around. Hence this is another way the conjoined climate+energy problem is manifested, through water. Of course, drought and/or lessened snowpack are not helpful for hydropower predictability.

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    Anyone know what the trend is on carbon in agricultural soil? Up or down, even?

    [Response:On what time scale and where?–Jim]
    says: The amount of carbon as CO2 currently in the atmosphere is approx 750 Pg, and that in the soil is approx 1500 Pg.

    Mentioned here:

    I wonder what the trend would look like over the same past few centuries as we’ve eroded topsoil into the oceans.

  18. 68
    David B. Benson says:

    Hank Roberts @66 — Even without topsoil loss I suspect that monoculture crops tend to deplete soil carbon along with the NPKS minor nutrients.

  19. 69
    flxible says:

    Hank and David – Industrial agriculture depletes soil carbon with the heavy use of petro fertilizers that destroy soil bacteria that could otherwise operate to create/stabilize humus – in addition there appears now to be some fungus discovered recently that reverses soil carbon sequestration, report here.

    [Response:I appreciate the interest but this kind of comment only tends to lead to vague assertions and pointless arguments which do not help anyone. More pointed and defensible statements please.–Jim]

  20. 70
    don gisselbeck says:

    Superman1: I hope this is appropriate. Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? T.S. Eliot The Rock

  21. 71
    Hank Roberts says:

    > trend is on carbon in agricultural soil?

    I realize how incredibly difficult this is compared to measuring CO2 levels!

    And just tallying agricultural soil doesn’t necessarily give the same trend as some measure of primary productivity, counting the oceans.

    I know that an acre-foot of topsoil washed down the Mississippi may produce ten or a hundred times that amount of biological carbon from a plankton or algae bloom — so we can’t just say erosion is a net carbon loss, on the global scale.

    It occurs to me to likewise whether what Peter Ward called the “Rise of Slime” is a net carbon capture, compared to the ocean of fifty years ago. Remembering those pictures we’ve seen of an ocean of green algae washing ashore, and washing ashore, and washing ashore, in places.

    Just raised my eyebrows at the mention that soils hold twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, and I started wondering where else carbon’s held for a while biologically in what kinds of quantity. And how fast that can change.

    [Response:I don’t know where they get their 1500 number from, but total belowground C is a lot higher than that. There’s likely that much or more just in the permafrost regions (Tarnocai et al, 2009, doi:10.1029/2008GB003327).–Jim]

  22. 72
    Jim Larsen says:

    67 Hank wondered about soil and carbon.

    This subject has got to be fraught with opinion and error. Geologist David Montgomery says the estimate is that we’re losing about 1% a year via erosion.

    That doesn’t mean the carbon ends up in the atmosphere. Surely most travels to rivers and oceans, at least temporarily.

    The US woke up to the problem big time because of the dust bowl, so we’re way ahead of most of the world. Other sites estimated our losses at 1/4 other countries’ losses. So, current in-place practices might extend our worldwide topsoil longevity to 400 years – though a field will become useless before all the topsoil is gone.

    I also read an opinion that 97% of losses could be eliminated by planting trees or grass as buffers around fields. I assume they meant in combination with no-till farming. Doesn’t take much grass-width to capture and/or filter runoff from the field, and no-till with cover crops keeps the wind at bay. I visualize a permanent field of shade-tolerant clover with the planting machinery cutting 3″ circular divots in which to plant grain, spaced further apart to allow a bit of light to reach the clover. Essentially zero soil loss and the elimination of the need for nitrogen fertilizer.

    Topsoil is an incredibly important issue for climate change, as it is created over loooonnnngggg periods, and generally happens in areas conducive to growing human-desired crops. It is also scraped clean by ice sheets and glaciers. This means that when the grain belts move north, they’ll leave their topsoil behind. So yes, northern Canada might become grand for growing corn and wheat – as long as you truck in the topsoil from Nebraska. Then again, Canada has plenty of peat moss and gravel. Synthetic growing mediums are possible – but it isn’t like wandering up and planting a seed in a field prepared by nature.

  23. 73
    Jim Larsen says:

    Jim responded, “(harvestable product as a fraction of total biomass)”

    Yeah. A ripe modern field is amazing to behold. Cotton is the one that sticks in my mind. Almost nothing left – a couple twigs – and pure white cotton everywhere. I find it hard to believe that there’s much more growth in this direction, but botanists are clever folks!

  24. 74
    Ian Perrin says:

    On the food issues, Oxfam have a report out today – ‘Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices’. It’s bad news for where I live (South Africa) where the poorest can spend up to 75% of their disposable income on food. The largest staple here, by far, is maize (corn). By 2030, Oxfam predicts, prices for maize in the region will be up 129% (at 2010 prices) due to climate change and a further 120% spike when extreme events hit. That makes over 400% in all!
    Guardian article here and report (191Kb .pdf) from here.
    If this happens, expect a massive food emergency, starvation and unrest. Similarly elsewhere.

  25. 75
    MARodger says:

    M Tucker @65
    You are surprised? So am I? I will however not copy your lead entirely as I will directly address the substantive comments you make rather than ignoring them.

    To recap – @6 I proposed (nothing stronger) that 400ppm was perhaps last seen 15 million years ago. @24 You say “Oh no it wasn’t. It was 3 million years ago.” @36 I suggest reasons why the jury is still out and @65 you present references to back up you assertion. And you end curiously by saying “If you really would like to argue the science you should take it up with the actual scientists who are doing the work.” which suggests you are content to lob in you ha’pe’th worth and walk away.

    @65 you make several references.
    IPCC AR4 do indeed state that the period 3.3 to 3.0 Ma “were likely higher than pre-industiral values” and “estimated to be between 360 to 400 ppm.” You assert this does not make 400ppm “unimaginable.” Indeed so, but it also suggests 400ppm can be considered an outlier and thus rather unlikely. (It should be pointed out that the IPCC statement is based on very large error bars.)
    You also quote Pagani et al 2009 who conclude a CO2 range of 365 – 415 ppm. This would provide you with stronger backing except the paper actually gives the range 350ppm to 380 ppm for the 3.0-3.3 Ma period(see fig 3) which remains less than the 400 ppm you assert. It requires another million years for the upper end of the error bar to reach your 400 ppm. It requires you to invoke another million years for 400ppm to become “not unimaginable” which is definitely not an insignificant period of time.
    Seki et al 2010 stress the sparce Pliocene proxy data and the technical problems, concluding from their own study that during the warm Ploicene CO2 was between 330 & 400 ppm.

    It is when I read the other reference you give Haywood 2011, an overt defence of that 405ppm figure, that I begin to wonder if it is these toes that my comment @6 inadvertently stomped on, whether here lies the reason for this interchange.
    Haywood cites Pagani et al & Seki et al as well as Kurschner et al 1996 whose abstract mentions CO2 to 370ppm (Haywood takes it to be 380ppm via a figure in the paper), and finally Raymo et al 1996 whose absrtact states that their evidence suggests CO2 at 3 million years ago was “on average only about 35% higher than the preindustrial value of 280 ppm” or roughly no higher than 378ppm. Haywood again plucks a peak figure from the paper (fig 5 apparently) to arrive at CO2 values “beyond 450 ppm” which he brashly asserts is “entirely plausible.
    You also cite personal knowledge of a Dr Marci Robinson’s work which in that form has to be outwith the discussion & I am not in the least interested in the PRISM project Vision Statement.

    Thus, from the above, I conclude that it is wrong to assert as you did @65 that mid-Ploicene CO2 levels at about 405ppm is “documented.” It is evidently not.

  26. 76
    Edward Greisch says:

    58 Patrick: Geo-engineering like putting poison gas in the air?

    62 Chris G: Since the FAO is part of the UN, contacting them is the place to start.

    74 Ian Perrin: A “massive food emergency, starvation and unrest.” Exactly.

  27. 77
    tokodave says:

    Jim Larsen @ 72. That’s a good point Jim. Adaptation is not as simple as just moving the corn and wheat fields north. While the Great Plains in the US were developing the soils we’ve come to rely on as our breadbasket…the Great White North was under several thousand feet of ice, eh? The other problem of course is, Canada is a separate country…even if we could replace all the corn and wheat with grain grown in Canada….if it’s grown in Canada, we’re not producing our own food. That’s a problem.

  28. 78
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 1500 pg
    The link went to “Soil Science Society of America” which doesn’t give that number, but lists many other references (and seems primarily agriculture-focused).

    So I ‘oogled: soil carbon “1500 pg”
    and found
    by MA Sheikh – 2009 – Cited by 6 – Related articles
    “… Worldwide the first 30 cm of soil holds 1500 Pg carbon …”

    So it’s definitely not a total; maybe it’s the amount in ag soils. I recall the IPCC has numbers for how much carbon could be sequestered by changing ag practices.

    Reflooding the old peat bogs (drained to dry them to harvest peat as fuel over the past few centuries) might preserve some of that larger amount at risk.

    So: clouds and soils are both areas of great uncertainty where we need better info — baselines — and trends/indices of change to watch.

  29. 79
    Jon Schoolar says:

    In any event, pretty or not, a graph without a y axis label is glaringly incomplete.

  30. 80
    Hank Roberts says:

    Um … ocean salinity levels, in detail?

  31. 81
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Jon
    > Y axis

    Labeling that chart is exactly _not_ the point of the thread — read the title

    Which indicators are important to watch?

    That iconic image there at the top is immediately recognizable.

    But what does the image mean?

    The CO2 concentration at Mauna Loa isn’t the most important index to watch. Want to know more about that one? You can open this more detailed image:

    But you knew how to find that.

    Anybody who recognizes the image at the top knows where to find that.

    That is exactly not the point of the topic, though.

    The Mauna Loa measurement is a second or third hand result summing up and averaging out a lot of more directly observable changes happening in the world.

    Mauna Loa shows us the output of those processes — known and not known. It’s where they come together and the sum result can be seen.

    The indexes we need to know about are the _inputs_.

    We know the CO2 level is the common result of many inputs: The Big Control Knob turns up the CO2

    But what is it that turns the knob? And with what strength?

    There’s leverage on that knob, it’s showing not just fossil fuel, it’s all the other changes that are piling on.

    What are they? Which ones do we need to watch?

  32. 82
  33. 83
  34. 84
    adelady says:

    I’d never thought of this concept as a “metric” until Coby’s post on metres per day for movement of climate zones.

    The commenter pointing out that there would be absolutely no wheat at all grown on the Australian mainland if temperatures rose 3C is a bit of an eye-opener.

  35. 85
    Chris G says:

    tokodave (77): Jim L. already mentioned that regions that have grown grasses for thousands of years are better for it than those that haven’t, but specifically, and in addition to your comment, there is the Canadian Shield occupying much of the area and I don’t think agriculture will do well there.

    adelady: That’s, uh, interesting, in the worst meaning of the word.

  36. 86
    deconvoluter says:

    re: #40: Walt Rainboth

    A specific refutation of the new version of the differencing fallacy was quoted by Stoat,


    As for the refutation of the earlier version, Foster et al.(linked by Gavin), is extremely thorough; even so, there are some additional ‘tricks’ revealed


    My simplistic comment: For small intervals of time differencing is approximately the same as differentiation. Start with a long term warming signal for the temperature T given by :

    T = at +b = trend

    where t is the time. The trouble is that this shows global warming. Now differentiate it :

    dT/dt = a = constant.

    Hiding a constant is much easier than hiding a trend.

    A signal processor will describe this process as filtering out the long term variability. Mike Kelly however, who has contributed to RC (below the line) described this simple discussion as an ‘arcane statistical argument’. He also seemed to be upset that this paper was criticised in some emails.

  37. 87
    M Tucker says:

    MARodgers @75

    I’m sorry that my comments seem to have provoked so much opposition. You seem to want to dismiss the work done by the USGS on the mid-Pliocene warming and wish to maintain that work done on the mid-Miocene is more extensive and better documented and was the last time CO2 was at 400 ppmv or above. Perhaps you had some hand in that work and I have trampled on your professional turf. That is fine by me.

  38. 88
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Albedo indicators. Measured and or calculated.

    Are there any good graphs for
    (a) The Arctic summer albedo vs month and year.
    (b) Ditto for the globe as a whole ?

  39. 89
    MARodger says:

    M Tucker @87
    I am no longer surprised by your comments here. You seem to imply that this USGS work has some exclusive right to pronounce on mid-Pliocene CO2 levels. You seem to suggest that I am unsettled by this “CO2 was at 400ppm 3 million years ago” statement of yours. You are wrong, badly wrong. I am unsettled by your inability to back you assertions with any useful evidence. I have grown immune to your “That is fine by me” parting lines. As I pointed out @75, you fail to provide explanation for your assertions. I give you the opportunity. Indeed I welcome such an eventuality. But all I witness is the fall of badly aimed brickbats.
    Must do better!!

  40. 90
    MARodger says:

    Geoff Wexler @88
    Flanner et al have some Arctic albedo graphs in their presentation PDF here.

  41. 91
    Bruce Tabor says:

    Hi Rasmus,

    I’m an R user and I greatly appreciate you provciding the R code for your illustrations. However I usually can’t get your routines to run “out-of-the-box”, so I thought you’d appreciate some feedback.

    Firstly, the package jpeg must be installed to run your function. Most readers will not be aware of this and . Secondly, once installed the function produces the error:
    “JPEG decompression: Corrupt JPEG data: bad Huffman codeError in readJPEG(“raffinery.jpg”) :
    JPEG decompression error: Bogus Huffman table definition”
    Furthermore, the downloaded jpg is not readable by any software I tried.

    Additional problems:
    There is no function, so running the function a 2nd time produces problems.
    Most people will not have the ghostscript program gswin32c.exe required for the dev2bitmap() function.
    1958 is repeated when presumably 2012 is meant on the RHS

    As a comment, although it looks good your attempt to avoid space outside the backround pacture (and so have internal axes) makes R code complex for the inexperienced.

    This minimalist code seems to work if intrerested readers simply download R from CRAN ( and run one commandat a time. It will produce CO2.png with meaningful axes.


    Mauna.Loa <- read.table(url,

    co2.ppm <- Mauna.Loa$interp
    Year <- Mauna.Loa$yymm


    plot(Year, co2.ppm,
    main = "CO2 concentrations (Mauna Loa)",
    type = "l")

  42. 92
    Hugh says:

    I set up a dashboard on netvibes which has a number of climate feeds including arctic ice, hurricanes, blogs, PPM, Temp etc. Doing the same for some companies.
    You can see an image of it here. Always amending so if anyone has any ideas let me know.

    Might be able to make it public if people are interested.

  43. 93
    M Tucker says:

    MARodger @89

    I don’t need to defend others work. I am free to be convinced by their work as you are. If you don’t like their work why should I care? So, of course, I am fine with that. You are obviously convinced by work done on the mid-Miocene while you reject the interpretations by the PRISM members and that is fine. I do not argue that that CO2 was not about 400 ppmv during the mid-Miocene. It very well may have been. I was simply pointing out that some very hard working members of a team that has been investigating the mid-Pliocene for something like 30+ years now think that CO2 was about 400 ppmv at that time. If it turns out that after more research and interpretation the PRISM team members and collaborators decide CO2 was less than 400 ppmv I am also fine with that. For me it means that we are guaranteed 2 to 3 degrees of warming without adding any more CO2 to the system. Since civilization will only add more, it confirms that the 2 degree limit negotiators cling to is nothing more than bureaucratic bunk.

    As for you thinking that I am trying to insult you or your intelligence, that is not it at all. I get it. You reject the 400 or 405 ppmv number for the mid-Pliocene. Why should I care? The PRISM work will continue and it will continue to be used to verify climate models regardless of what you or I think. I do not pretend to know more than those who have devoted their lives to science I simply follow their work.

  44. 94
    Scottar says:

    This whole AGW debacle was mostly contrived by Jim Hansens claim that there was a tipping point based on his studies of the Venus atmosphere. What he neglected to note is that it’s the density and not the gas (The atmospheric pressure on Venus is 92X greater than earth’s) that is the main factor of the planets hotness along with it’s early development period. It does not have water to moderate temps either plus the thick clouds also help to trap heat.

    I read again and again how Gist’s NASSA and other ‘official’ science organization have thrown a curve ball in the data to exaggerate the warming claim and effects. They try to hide the studies that show the medieval period was world wide and hotter then the alleged ‘unprecedented’ period. It just a contrived sales gimmick to grab more grant money to continue the contrived, pseudo science continuous touted by bureaucrats and the like.

    What is becoming more apparent is it cycles and not human accelerated climate change:

    Mr. Tomes worked in computer modeling applications through which he gained an interest in interdisciplinary cycles. He found cycles in the New Zealand and realized that these were almost exact fractions of 35.6 years as well as other cycles also that relate to this figure. He went on to discover that his work yielded similar findings to what was already established by famed cycles researcher, Edward R. Dewey then he furthered these studies in his original work…

    As the ice core samples suggested, CO2 follows temps.

  45. 95
  46. 96
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Scottar — 9 Sep 2012 @ 8:54 PM:

    I don’t think that you cite any science at all to support your assertions? Surprise me.


  47. 97
    David B. Benson says:

    Moderators — Does not Scottar’s comment #94 belong more properly in The Bore Hole?

  48. 98
    JohnLopresti says:

    For some reason, the graphic at the top of the post, “CO2 Concentrations (Mauna Loa)”, and its begin-date “1958” reminded me of something unscientific which might illustrate the chart’s evident message about refinery-allied pollution: namely, trout fishing near any urban area pretty much ended in 1958, at least the quality variety, native fish, clean water that is cold and oxygenated, healthy tree overstory/canopy.

    I would want the graph to begin before 1958. There was good trout fishing in 1951, but you had to go far from an urban area, even then.

    I also note, there is no hockey stick in the graph, and the ascending line resembles an old fashioned coiled telephone cord. I suppose, if the chart began at the year 1900, the graph would show a hockey stick shape; and the smart trout clearly would have occurred in the early fifties way up the handle.

    I have read anadromous fish population studies…and even worked a decade in their habitat restoration…but, little about that formerly ubiquitous natural trout.

    Thanx for the GE, biology, statistics, and other supplemental inputs from the comment thread; I agree Hank’s soils questions appear substantive and germane.

  49. 99
    MARodger says:

    Scottar @94
    I would agree with @96 who recommends the borehole for you.

    Yet you are here and not boreholed. So can we clear up the mess you present?

    For your first two substative points, you provide no reference. They remain just your own wild assertions. Could you rectify this by making such a provision for:-
    (1a) AGW is “contrived” mostly using studies of the atmosphere of Venus.
    (1b) These studies are flawed.
    (2a) The medieval period was worldwide and hotter.
    (2b) Attempts have been made by NASA GISS & others to hide the studies that show this. (Note however that the studies “that show this” will be the more useful and amusing start.)

    Your third substantive point, that climate change is accelerated by “cycles and not humans,” appears to be referenced but the link (and the cut & paste quote) do not mention that this application of cyclology in any way applies to “accelerated climate change“. Could you thus provide a reference that is fit for purpose to support your third substative and wild assetion.

    You final substantive point is presented in a most confused way which requires significant clarification.
    (a) Do the ice core samples you talk of no longer suggest the CO2/temps relationship you assert?
    (b) You provide a link to a thesis that begins with a similar assertion to the one you yourself make. Is this your intention?
    (c.) If your answer at (b) is affirmative, does your assertion rest solely on the unsupported statement of this Tomes and if not what evidence do you present to support essentially what remains a repeated wild assertion?
    (d) If your answer at (b) is negative, are you then using the conclusions of the thesis you linked to as supporting the substance of your assertion, where Major Tomes says “It seems, ground control, that, contrary to popular wisdom, temperature changes are driving atmospheric CO2 content changes, with a lag time of 6 months.“? This you will agree is entirely different to the 800 year lag mentioned by Tomes at the start of his thesis and (in whatever way it may be interpreted) it remains unreconciled with any ice core data.
    (e) If your answer at (d) is affirmative, can you clarify that your assertion applies to the relationship between ‘Rate of change of atmospheric CO2‘ and ‘global average surface temperature‘ and not (as could be erroneously interpreted from the words used by Major Tomes) that the actual level of atmospheric CO2 is driven by temperature, a fallacy that occasionally presents itself but which is obviously wholly different from the findings of Tomes.

    In short can you demonstrate you are not worthy of the borehole. Can you respond to the call “Must do better!!“?
    (If you cannot, will not be the first occurrence on this thread.)

  50. 100
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ JohnLopresti — 9 Sep 2012 @ 10:39 PM

    CO2 hockey stick –

    @ Scottar — 9 Sep 2012 @ 8:54 PM
    If it was warmer in the MWP, and “…CO2 follows temps…” why is there no bump in the CO2 hockey stick graph referenced above?