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Unforced variations: Oct 2012

Filed under: — group @ 1 October 2012

This month’s open thread. Try to keep it at least vaguely focused on climate science…!

782 Responses to “Unforced variations: Oct 2012”

  1. 1
    Chris Dudley says:

    Jim Larson,

    This is just to let you know that I did answer your post in another thread but it was ruled off topic.

    I did not save a copy but my answer was so elegant and persuasive that you would have dropped everything and started immediately to work on getting carbon tariffs going. So, let’s hope you do so in any case ;-)

  2. 2

    Ok, Younger Dryas. Some good stuff on the 8.2 ka event as well. Not sure about the impact, but if it did happen my working hypothesis is still Nipigon, although it could have been any small impact, their technique seems robust enough. But the real problem is Greenland melting in the NADW formation zone and the associated arctic sea ice albedo feedback effect plus with 400 ppm CO2 I think we’re looking at permanent drought in the south and southwest creeping into the plains and increased seasonality and daily desert like extremes with increased soil moisture problems. We’re going to have to make and distribute fresh water if we want to maintain productivity.

  3. 3
    RobG says:

    Would somebody please explain to me Pielke’s unqualified support for, and fawning over, Anthony Watts?

    Pielke, Sr, is pretty much the only person I pay any attention to “for balance” concerning AGW. I think I’m pretty good at picking out those people whom I can safely ignore and I’ve not given up on him yet, but I don’t understand the Watt’s thing.

  4. 4
    Sou says:

    @RobG – Watts recently posted an article welcoming Pielke Sr to ‘twitland’. Birds of a feather and all that.

    (Dunno if that’s just Australian slang or more universal.)

  5. 5
    Antonello Pasini says:

    I would like to link a paper by Umberto Triacca, Alessandro Attanasio and me about the “role” of the Sun in the recent global warming:

  6. 6
    MARodger says:

    To continue this Nissan Leaf mpg kerfuffle from Sept open thread, after a nudge or two, Nissan UK have provided me with an untitled spreadsheet they describe as the Leaf’s “full technical specifications” which contains the line –

    Electricity consumption 3) Wh/km 173
    with 3) In accordance with UN/ECE Regulation 101
    which means the figure is as per the EU test. Thus a conversion factor (tentatively calculated as 1.32 within Sept open thread) will be required to convert it to the US EPA test.
    0.173 kWh/km = 3.61 MPkWh (EU test) = 4.79 MPkWh (EPA test) @33.7kWh/gallon(US) = 161MPG(US)e. This figure is evidently far higher than the 99mpg(US)e that the EPA rate the Leaf at and can only be because the EPA rating is for kWh of primary power as input into the power station, although the 99mpg(US)e would require a generation-transmission efficiency of 61% which appears too high. This grid efficiency would be more realistic for a primary power mpg(US)e in 70s which was what was been calculated more than once in the Sept open thread.

    Using the figure to calculate an equivilant in terms of carbon emissions mpg(US)ce, @2.36kgC/USgal & 0.155kgC/kWh(plug)US, the Leaf would achieve 73 mpg(US)ce. The big unknown (apart from the conversion from EU test to EPA test) is the carbon intensity of the grid. This will vary with your location and time of day, of year, of decade and marginal values could well be a lot different to average values. Assuming significant proportions night-time charging & large reductions in grid carbon intensity in coming years, the 73 mpg(US)ce is probably way too low.

  7. 7
    dbostrom says:

    “Twitland” is a principle province of the loose confederation called YouTwitFace.

  8. 8
    tpinlb says:

    Did any of the IPCC global climate models predict the record high Antarctic sea ice that we have seen this year? How is this evidence consistent with the projections of the climate models?

  9. 9
    chris says:

    tpinlb, climate models don’t “predict” year-specific phenomena arising from stochastic variation that adds “noise” to progression of climate states under the influence of persistent forcings.

    However climate models from even 20-30 years ago [Schneider and Thompson (1981); Bryan et al (1988); Manabe et al (1992)] predicted that the response of the Antarctic to enhanced greenhouse-induced warming would be much delayed relative to the warming expected to occur in the Arctic.

    So the real world evidence with respect to polar response is consistent with expectations from models except that the Arctic sea ice is attenuating faster than expected.

  10. 10
    dhogaza says:

    “Would somebody please explain to me Pielke’s unqualified support for, and fawning over, Anthony Watts?”

    Watts is Pielke Sr’s protege … I’m not sure of the sequence of events, but Watts’s Surface Stations project grew out of RPSr’s questioning of the quality of the surface temperature records and it’s been like father and 2nd son ever since, apparently. Someone here may know more specific information …

  11. 11
    Unsettled Scientist says:

    I have a question about inline responses. On the side bar you can see the 5 most recent inline responses. Naturally I come to RC because I find the what the contributors have to say insightful. I especially like reading how the contribs respond to various questions & claims. But when I travel, it is possible for the queue of responses to exceed that list of 5 between my viewings of RC. So, is there way to see a list of inline responses longer than the most recent 5?


    [Response: Hmm… not really. I would suggest subscribing to the RSS feed for comments perhaps. If there is a demand, we could expand the number of inline responses returned. – gavin]

  12. 12
    L. Hamilton says:

    Survey research of possible interest, just pre-published by Weather, Climate, and Society:

    “Did the Arctic ice recover? Demographics of true and false climate facts”

  13. 13
    CanadianReader says:

    Not climate science per se, but of interest.

    A leading columnist at Canada’s influential Globe and Mail newspaper is currently embroiled in allegations of multiple instances of plagiarism. Over the past decade Margaret Wente has made over sixty references to climate change, global warming, carbon capture/reduction/taxation, etc., all dismissive or derogatory.

    Some representative samples from Wente:

  14. 14
  15. 15

    #8–For context on this ‘record’, read this:

    For the results/significance in terms of albedo change, you might try this:

    Of course, the IPCC models didn’t predict the Arctic sea ice loss, either. It’s much, much worse than *anyone* predicted before 2007. For what it’s worth, though, at least one modeling study did indeed show growth in Antarctic sea ice. I’m sure someone around here will have the link/title.

  16. 16
    dhogaza says:

    Here’s a really horrible piece that was linked from yahoo news’s front page.

    The laughable geoengineering proposal’s bad enough, but skip down to the “problems” with the solution, including:

    “problem: A solution in search of a problem”


    “Global cooling on the horizon?”

    Grrrrr …

  17. 17
    caerbannog says:

    I’ve been working on a “hobby” software project that I’ve decided to call “WattsBuster(tm)”.

    It can be downloaded from: (with temperature data — bigger download) or from (no temperature data — smaller download).

    Once it is set up and running (a bit of a project in itself — details below), users/students/etc. will be able to “roll their own” global-average temperature estimates by clicking on GHCN station locations on a map. As each new station is clicked, the global-average temperature display will be updated with the new station’s data.

    Results are computed from both raw and “homogenized” data and plotted right along with the official NASA/GISS GHCNV3 results for direct comparison.

    The gridding/averaging procedure that I implemented is a seriously “dumbed down” version of the NOAA/CRU gridding/averaging scheme. It’s a very straightforward averaging procedure that does not involve any kind of data “adjustments” or interpolation steps. There’s nothing there that a “skeptic” could point to as an example of “data manipulation”.

    With this package, students can impress their friends (and annoy their AGW skeptic parents) by shooting down Anthony Watts’ favorite claims about the global temperature record with just a series of mouse-clicks.

    The package is a combination of my own code and code shamelessly stolen*** from other sources, all cobbled together with “virtual duct tape” to provide the working package.

    (*** stolen in full compliance with software license agreements)

    This should be considered a “work in progress” proof-of-concept prototype (there are some “half-baked” features in the code that haven’t been activated yet, along with some disabled chunks of code inside #if(0)/#endif blocks) — keep that in mind if you start digging through the code.

    This is definitely *not* “App Store” ready — not by a long-shot.

    Experiment with the package a bit, and if you are successful in getting it up and running, you will see how amazingly easy it is to replicate the NASA/GISS global-warming trends with both raw and adjusted data.

    Here are a couple of screenshots of the package at work:

    WattsBuster(tm) user-interface (front-end) screenshot:

    WattsBuster(tm) temperature display (back-end) screenshot (50 “long record” rural stations, randomly selected):

    In the upper panel of the “back end” plot, the official NASA/GISS “meteorological stations” index is plotted in blue. The “50 random rural stations” raw data results are plotted in red. The “50 random rural stations” adjusted data results are plotted in green.

    The lower panel shows how many of the selected stations actually reported data for any given year (variations in station record-lengths, data “gaps”, etc. mean that the number of stations reporting data for any given year will vary.) So as you are “rolling your own” global temperature results, keep an eye on that lower panel. In virtually every case where your results look “lousy”, it will be because only a handful of your stations have reported data during the “lousy” periods.

    The software will run on Linux, Windows (with Cygwin/X installed), and OS-X machines. (Details available in the included README files.)

    Additional note: I added a call to fpurge()(BSD)/__fpurge()(Linux) to GnuPlotter.cpp. I haven’t tested that with Cygwin, so you may have to comment out the __fpurge() call and the #include stdio_ext.h line in GnuPlotter.cpp/.hpp to get it to build under Cygwin.

    Getting it set up to run is a bit of a chore. It is very helpful to be comfortable in a Unix command-line environment. You will need to compile the “back end” global-temperature-calculation program from source. You will also need to install some other software packages (all are free and reasonably easy to install).

    For the QGIS software (which I appropriated for this project), you will need to modify one of the plugins by manually replacing one of the plugin files with a “hacked” version that is supplied in the WATTSBUSTER(tm) package.

    Detailed (hopefully not too opaque) instructions are included in a couple of README files.

    Once again, this is something for folks comfortable with “old school” Unix command-line environments. Otherwise, it could turn into an exercise in frustration.

    However, I’m sure that there are quite a few computer-savvy high-school students out there who would be able to take this ball and run with it.

    Again, the full WATTSBUSTER(tm) package is at — The full package includes all GHCN raw and adjusted data. It’s a fairly big download. The “light” package (no temperature data, smaller download):

  18. 18
    Russell says:

    One of the internet’s foremost head exploders is taking Forbes to task for allowing readers to question the scientific authority of the usual flacks from The Heartland institute.

  19. 19
    Candide says:

    I have a friend from the UK, about age 30, who holds a degree in meteorology though doesn’t work in that field. He understands the science behind climate change very well, but is a total denier and has subscribed to every nutty theory touted by the WTFUWT crowd (urban heat islands, sun spots, volcanoes, cosmic rays, radiation from Fukushima, etc).

    I know him well enough to understand his real motive – he’s a car nut, drives a big gas-guzzling jeep, drives hundreds of unnecessary miles every week just for recreation. He isn’t emotionally mature enough to simply say the truth: “OK, climate change is real, but I’m just addicted to my car. Sorry.” I would respect him more if he did that. Even I admit that my lifestyle isn’t terribly green, but I won’t deny the laws of physics because of it.

    And so my friend goes on whining about “Climategate,” the great conspiracy between Al Gore, George Soros, Michael Mann and the New World Order, etc. He has been insisting that the world has been cooling since 2007, his “proof” being that 2007 was the year the Arctic sea ice reached its minimum and has been since “recovering.”

    That is until the summer of 2012. After seeing the graphs, he just went silent. Not a peep out of him all though August and September. Then just yesterday he started telling me that actually a more tropical world would be a good thing. Nice warm weather, lots of new farmland opening up in Greenland and Siberia.

  20. 20
    caerbannog says:

    Followup — found a stupid little goof in the README-WATTSBUSTER.txt file — correction for step 6 is bolded below:

    6) In the WATTSBUSTER(tm) directory, build the anomaly.exe executable.

    Just type “make clean; make”.

  21. 21
    Unsettled Scientist says:

    Thanks Gavin. I’m not so much interested in an RSS feed for comments, I’ve got your main posts in my reader already and that’s my primary interest. I was hoping there was just an easier way to catch up on contributor replies than scrolling through the pages looking for the light blue text. With the new work I’m doing, I don’t really get on the internet like I used to, but catching up on the replies is almost as valuable as the main posts.

    I looked at the source my browser gets, hoping I could hack a URL for it, but alas it’s all just ul & li elements.

    [Response: the element that picks out the ‘class=”response” ‘ element in the paragraph style. You could try searching for that in the the source…. – gavin]

  22. 22
    David B. Benson says:

    Irreversible Warming Will Cause Sea Levels to Rise for Thousands of Years to Come, New Research Shows
    (In case you had any doubts.)

  23. 23
    David B. Benson says:

    Plants’ Carbon-Sinking Capacity Is Much Lower Than Thought
    (which is the opposite of many a denier’s writings.)

  24. 24
    Edward Greisch says:

    Ray Pierrehumbert’s book asks me to download python. Which version and where is a safe website to get it from? The URL I found warned of differences between python 2.7 and 3.

  25. 25
    aphillips says:

    Should climate scientists seize the uncertainty?

    Here’s an article and following comment which suggests that Rachel Carson set a good model for doing just that in Silent Spring, 50 years old this week.

  26. 26
    Paul S says:

    Edward Greisch – Main difference in terms of annoyance when using old code in new Python is ‘print’ changing from a statement to a function. In practice this means the difference between having to write ‘print “Hello World”‘ in v2 and ‘print(“Hello World”)’ in v3. The former will produce an error in v3 and vice versa.

    The other factor is libraries – some haven’t been updated for use in v3.

    Given the time of book release I think 2.7 would be your best bet, and you can download from However, there’s no problem downloading and installing both into different folders to try them.

  27. 27
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Candide, Might I suggest that your friend spend some time in a tropical rainforest or similar environs. Moreover, if the thinks the whole globe is going to simply become “tropical,” I would suggest that he does not in fact understand the science behind climate change. He sounds like a wonderful example of stupidity sent to college.

  28. 28
    Will MacKinnon says:

    I was led to Coursera by an NPR story Sunday. Coursera allows you to audit an number of university course offerings from a number of notable universties for free. Among upcoming offerings will be:

    Climate Literacy; Navigating Climate Conservations.
    Instructors: Sarah Burch and Tome-Pierre Frappe-Seneclauze.
    Course offered through the Univ. of British Columbia
    Course begins May 2013

    Climate Change
    Instructors: John Barnett, John Freebairn, David Jamieson, Maurizio Toscano, Rachel Webster.
    Offered through the Univ. of Melbourne
    Dates to be announced, a nine week course.

    Also Global Sustainable Energy: Past, Present and Future.
    Instructor: Wendell Porter
    (My notes lack the Univ. on this one) Dates to be Announced.

    Go to Coursera site for more details.

  29. 29
    Superman1 says:

    Candide #19,

    “I know him well enough to understand his real motive – he’s a car nut, drives a big gas-guzzling jeep, drives hundreds of unnecessary miles every week just for recreation. He isn’t emotionally mature enough to simply say the truth: “OK, climate change is real, but I’m just addicted to my car. Sorry.” I would respect him more if he did that. Even I admit that my lifestyle isn’t terribly green, but I won’t deny the laws of physics because of it.”

    What you have pointed out is the central problem with respect to ameliorating climate change. This is the reluctance of the average energy consumer to alter their lifestyle to impact climate change.

    I have discussed climate change with numerous people. Almost all accept there is climate change occurring. A modest number attribute it mainly to natural variability, but most attribute it to anthropogenic causes. However, I see zero difference between the two groups in terms of the actions they are taking to help alleviate the climate change problem. It does not appear to me to be an issue of disinformation, as most posters on this blog like to suggest. Rather, it is far more insidious and pervasive; it is an addiction to an energy intensive lifestyle driven by copious amounts of fossil fuel combustion. How one breaks that addiction is beyond me, but until that issue is addressed head-on, all the other solutions proposed are just illusory.

  30. 30
    numerobis says:

    Here’s a depressing study about the great barrier reef, which reports that half the reef has died in the past 27 years, and that over half the cause is climatic conditions (cyclones and temperature), with the rest being due largely from agricultural effluent (which causes food chain imbalances).

  31. 31
    numerobis says:

    Related to the website: can you put the submit button *after* the captcha? On a mobile, I type my comment, hit send, it’s refused because the captcha fails since I didn’t even attempt it: it’s off-screen, below the preview. Then the comment is gone until your manual intervention.

    Also, a second chance at the captcha would be nice.

  32. 32
    Robert Murphy says:

    John O’Sullivan proves that CO2 cools because it is used in some coolant systems! AGW is doomed!!

    You cannot make this crap up:
    “Surely if carbon dioxide works as a coolant in industry don’t the same principles apply on our open atmosphere?”

    He sullies the good name of Newton by calling his organization “Principia Scientific”.

  33. 33
    Phil Scadden says:

    I would join with Unsettled Scientist in asking for expansion of responses. Life’s too short to read every comment and inline responses are often where insightful responses occur within discussion.

    [Response: I’ve extended it to the last 10 responses… perhaps that will help. – gavin]

  34. 34
    wili says:

    There is a bet (100 pounds) proposed at neven’s blog that Arctic Sea Ice extent will be above 1 million m^2 at June 30, 2015. Crandles says it will be above, Aaron Lewis says it won’t. Most folks over there do seem to think that sea ice loss will proceed quite rapidly over the next very few years.

    What are people’s projections here, particularly for next year and the year after?

  35. 35
    CL says:

    Wili: As ice volume decreases, the fraction of volume which is new ice increases, and hence the year to year variability in new ice becomes a larger fraction of the total ice volume variability, so I don’t think the smoothed downward slope will stay as smooth, i.e. you should expect bigger surprises to the upside on a given winter if it is cold and has heavy snow fall.

  36. 36
    Russell says:

    “John O’Sullivan proves that CO2 cools because it is used in some coolant systems! AGW is doomed!!….He sullies the good name of Newton by calling his organization “Principia Scientific”.”

    Actually, he sullies the good name of the senior and unrelated John O’Sullivan O.B.E, the bona fide Conservative who gave good media counsel to Baroness Thatcher back in the day when Monckton was a 10 Downing Street dogsbody.

    O’Sullivan the less

  37. 37
    paulina says:

    thanks, unsettled scientist and phil scadden, for suggesting the number of recent inline responses shown be expanded, and thanks, gavin, for doing the expanding.

    much appreciated.

  38. 38
    wili says:

    PIOMAS has been updated. Looks like the minimum was 3263 km3.

    I know all the physics says that it shouldn’t be, but it sure seems to be following that exponential curve pretty well right now:

    (double click on “here”)

    (But the oracular reCaptcha warns: newsedM deceitful!)

  39. 39
    wili says:

    And here’s L. Hamilton’s bar graph of Arctic sea ice volume with the new data point:

  40. 40
    Thomas says:

    @29 Confirming your observation about lack of correlation between belief in AGW and energy conservation, the only other person at work who conserves, is a LimBot!
    @34 That sounds like a setup. It should have been kilometers squared not meters squared, which is a million times less. Also June 30 is very early in the melt season. Getting down to a million KM squared even in September by 2015 would be considered to be a stretch.

  41. 41
    JBL says:

    Let me join the chorus — I mostly read the comments to look for the responses from Gavin et al., and the expanded version will probably be a big help. Thanks!

  42. 42
    R. Gates says:

    Does anyone have any links or suggestion to the latest solid research being done on Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) events?

  43. 43
    Chris Dudley says:

    wili (#34),

    Are you sure you don’t mean Sept 30 2015? The extent stood at 9,144,688 sq km on June 30 this year.

  44. 44
    Patrick 027 says:

    Continued from last Unforced variations (derived from EIA )

    2010 electric power sector g CO2/kWh net generation, delivered (including T&D), primary:

    Coal —-: 1000.2 , 1080.1 , 327.66 (4 sig figs)
    petroleum: 951.0 , 1027 , 295.4 (2 sig figs)
    nat. gas : 442.6 , 478.0 , 184.5 (3 sig figs)
    total fossil fuels:
    816.83 , 882.08 , 285.67 (4 sig figs)

    (4 sig figs also for total electric power sector here @ 591
    values were
    571.69 , 617.36 , 195.55

    from 572 in the same thread, for 2006-2010, the g CO2/kWh for net generation were:

    average (using unrevised net generation kWh for 2010): 3.03 % larger
    minimum (of that time period) in 2009: 0.87 % smaller
    maximum (of that time period) in 2007: 5.947 % larger

    than the 2010 value. (last significant figure is tenths of a % (except for the minimum – hundredths of %) if given 4 significant figures for g CO2/kWh.)

    see 580
    for conversion efficiencies for 2010.

  45. 45
    Patrick 027 says:

    Converting from some values in the EIA appendices (2003 and 2010 motor gasoline, and conventional, oxygenated, and reformulated gasoline)and from,
    I’m getting ~ 35.94 to 36.65 kWh/gal from the EIA, except for natural gasoline (32.24 kWh/gal), and 36.0 kWh/gal (wikipedia), and 34.89 kWh/gal Gasohol E10.

    (The wiki values imply densities of 0.72 to 0.74 kg/L for gasoline, 0.762 for Gasohol E10 (10 % ethanol by volume); for 0.73 kg/L and a composition of 84.117 to 85 wt% C (the former calculated for octane, the later given by an encyclopedia (Britannica Macropedia entry “Chemical Elements” p.945, sorry don’t know the year, I’m looking at a photocopy) for petroleum, g CO2/gal from combustion should be 8517 to 8606. Thus, 400 g CO2/mi at 22 mpg seems quite plausable – it would imply 8800 g CO2/gal, which would require a somewhat higher gasoline density.)

    Combining EIA, wikipedia, and Encyclopedia Britannica values (where necessary), I get g CO2/kWh primary energy estimates of:

    176.1 for natural gas consumed by electric power sector in 2010 (assuming composition wt % is same as CH4, which would just be an approximation/guess),

    232.4 for conventional gasoline (if wt % C is same as octane)
    ~ 242 for crude oil

    379 for anthracite (32.5 MJ/kg, wiki)
    ~ 463 for bituminous coal (24 MJ/kg, wiki)
    687 for lignite (14.0 MJ/kg, wiki)

    PS from the EIA Table A5,
    most categories of coal in the 1950s-part of the 1960s: ~ 29 MJ/kg (25 million Btu/short ton = 29.075 MJ/kg = 8.0764 kWh/kg)
    (most of those decline in energy density after that – use the online graphing option)
    coal with highest energy density: Industrial sector coke plants consumption for several years: 31.896 MJ/kg = 8.8601 kWh/kg
    2010 electric power sector consumption coal: 22.822 MJ/kg = 6.3393 kWh/kg; if this had a bituminous composition, emissions would be 486.9 g CO2 / kWh primary energy.

    The value for natural gas is close enough to what was obtained from EIA figures (sections 8 and 11); petroleum and coal seem off. Maybe the wikipedia energy densities assumed a larger fraction of inorganic ash? Also, I think petroleum in the electric power sector includes stuff like petroleum coke… Etc. There’s also the matter of the difference in enthalpy (and Gibbs free energy, for that matter) of reaction depending on whether H2O produced is liquid or vapor.

    Anyway, on to mpgs…

  46. 46

    #43–Nope, Willi is right–the effective date was June 30, 2015. Don’t ask me why; I suggested August 31 as an alternate.

  47. 47
    Edward Greisch says:

    26 Paul S: Thanks. Downloading.

  48. 48
    Vendicar Decaruan says:

    You should ask your Tardlie friend what kind of soil he expects to find in the north given that virtually all of it was scraped off and deposited north of the 49th during the last glacial period.

    Ask him to think real hard.

    “Nice warm weather, lots of new farmland opening up in Greenland and Sberia.” – 19

  49. 49
  50. 50
    John Mashey says:

    I offer some amusement, starting with falsification, flat-earth maps, and dog astrology journal, continuing with Stoat, who could not resist British history that might be obscure to others.