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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. 201
    Hank Roberts says:

    James, your chart shows that the warmer it gets, the less ice there is. What David’s talking about as hard to predict in 184 is the timing — the slopes of the wiggles in the line — not the volume (the area inside the line on the chart.

  2. 202
    SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “There will be sacrifices necessary to transition from this profligate lifestyle to a self-sustaining lifestyle, and the sooner everyone understands and accepts this, the sooner we can start to solve the real problem.”

    Yeah, a lot of people might have to “sacrifice” lifestyles that are contributing to costly epidemics of obesity and degenerative disease, polluting densely populated urban areas with toxic particulates and poisonous gases, driving up their food and energy costs and making them economically subservient to huge centralized energy and agribusiness cartels, robbing them of quality time for the truly good things in life, and otherwise utterly failing to deliver on the false promises of consumerism.

    ALL of the things we urgently need to do to address AGW — ALL of them, without exception — will make our lives better in many profound ways.

    I have a suggestion, Superman1. Live up to your handle. Be a “superman”.

    “Understand and accept” the changes that YOU need to make, make them, and then use your time online to set an example and educate people about how they can do the same. Use your time and energy to network with the many, many others who are doing just that — instead of this defeatist whining.

    In honor of the immortal Joe Hill, whose birthday is today:

    “Don’t mourn — ORGANIZE.”

  3. 203
    Superman1 says:

    A post this morning at Climate Progress (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/06/970721/carbon-feedback-from-thawing-permafrost-will-add-04f-15f-to-total-global-warming-by-2100/#comment_link), Comment #5, provides an excellent metaphor for a potential rapid decline due to climate change, especially the following excerpt:

    “When complex systems fail, they fail suddenly and catastrophically. When a human’s kidneys fail, the damage isn’t limited to that single crucial subsystem but extends to the entire body. Other subsystems that depend on a detoxified blood supply also fail, and those failures further cascade to other subsystems.

    The ice cap is one of Earth’s vital organs. Its removal is likely to cause cascading effects that even good work like the MacDougall paper in this post can’t anticipate. We simply haven’t seen anything like it in detail at the planetary scale.”

    It is an excellent complement to the metaphor I posted in #187 of the sharks closing in for the kill once they sense blood. It may very well be we are seeing a fractal process playing out. The Arctic is a complex system, and when we examine the physics of how rapidly myriad positive feedback mechanisms came into play once the mass, momentum, and energy insulating properties of the ice were breached when open water reached a critical point, we see the conditions for the above-quoted “suddenly and catastrophically” failure. At the next higher level in the hierarchy, the Arctic becomes one sub-system in an even more complex planetary system. It seems to me in the last year/few years we are seeing more papers shed light on ‘new’ positive feedback mechanisms coming into play on the planetary scale, whether it is the MacDougall paper mentioned in the article, or the recent paper on warmer and higher vapor pressure vegetation and trees losing water to a warmer atmosphere, or many others. Why should we not expect similar cascading behavior to the Arctic on the planetary scale, as the excerpt suggests?

    [Response: This kind of evidence-free hand-waving gives environmentalism a bad name. - gavin]

  4. 204
    vukcevic says:

    Voyager 1 exits solar system
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/V1.htm
    the GCRs are thought to contribute to natural variability.

  5. 205
    Superman1 says:

    Rich Creager #198,

    “There is a small, shrinking, window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic disruption of natural ecosystems and human society. Unfortunately the course of civilization carries substantial inertia, and it is not pointing toward that window. The closer we get to that window before we come to our collective senses and make the course change, the more wrenching it will be. And of course there is no guarantee we will do it at all.”

    You have crystallized the real-world problem of dealing with climate change, and I appreciate your post. Kevin Anderson has attempted to quantify what is required to avoid closing your ‘window’. He parameterizes peak global CO2 emissions date, and, assuming a ceiling temperature of 2 C over pre-industrial, identifies different CO2 emissions trajectories required to keep temperature at/below the 2 C ceiling. He admits that the CO2 ceiling is based on older science and on what was possible for a political agreement, and implies that today 1 C would probably be a more realistic target for minimizing climate catastrophe.

    Additionally, his computations do not include major feedbacks. His results offer little hope that even the 2 C limit can be achieved, and if one factors in the feedbacks, higher temperatures will be the order of the day.

    My reading and experience lead to a somewhat different conclusion. For many types of systems, it is critical to identify transitions to self-sustaining operational modes at the most nascent stages, and then apply strong attenuating measures to eliminate or limit the self-sustaining operation to controllable levels. We are now at roughly 0.8 C temperature increase above pre-industrial. We are seeing myriad self-sustaining mechanisms come into play. We need to metaphorically ram the control rods back into the reactor as soon and as hard as possible.

    There is no reason to believe that such dramatic modifications will come without personal cost or personal hardships. Your comments provide some examples of personal sacrifices that will be required. I frankly am very disappointed with comments on this site that imply we can transition seamlessly from the fossil fuel profligate lifestyle we (at least in the advanced nations) enjoy today to the required fossil-sparse lifestyle. If the people who post here, whom I assume are the vanguard of those most interested in protecting our climate, don’t believe such sacrifice is necessary, who will?

    [Response: I have no idea if the commenters fall into your description of them. But I will point out that none of the posts on this site address this issue because it isn't the theme of the blog. If you want discussions about the economics, or the scenarios or the politics, please go to places where that is in fact the point of that venue. This is a blog run by scientists mostly to discuss the science. Wanting this forum to be something that it isn't is frustrating for you and boring for everyone else. Sorry to be harsh, but the last few comment threads have been increasingly divorced from what this blog is about. Sure, this is probably our fault for not posting enough (I apologise that sometimes real life intervenes with blogging), but having endless comment threads that the blog hosts are not interested in, is simply not sustainable. - gavin]

  6. 206
    wili says:

    Fred, welcome to RC. I always enjoy your stuff at TOD, where I am/was dohboi. Good point about moving away from auto-centric mode. Our existence is under threat. Time to take this stuff seriously.

    I like the comparison of an attack on the country. If an enemy attacked the US by trying to destroy its agriculture, presumably we would go into full battle mode and do whatever needed to be done to protect the breadbasket. But when the enemy is domestic doing them the same thing, we coddle them, allow them to engage in propaganda campaigns, and even give them billions in subsidies.

    MARoger wrote: “As equilibrium is reached, so too will CO2 levels drop.”

    I assume that is still under your self-described “simplistic” scenario, since, as the Nature article on permafrost feedback shows, even including just this one sliver of carbon feedback makes any reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels impossible even with total cessation of emissions essentially immediately.

    And you seem to be stuck in a time warp–”today in 2010.” Too much Rocky Picture Horror Show?

  7. 207
    Superman1 says:

    MARodger #197,

    “We have thus clipped 1.66Wm^-2 from the maximum forcing from our hypothetical inescapable commitment. The resulting hypothetical ‘maximum’ temperature rise of 1.4ºC is not small, and it is still into the zone where serious feedbacks could bite. But it is below this range of 1.5-2.5ºC+very-likely-feedbacks and in such a diminished state it will greatly colour opinion of the mitigation policies being discussed in this thread.”

    I am somewhat unclear on your temporal temperature trajectory. Time is mentioned thrice in your comments: 2010, next few centuries, next century. If we stopped CO2 emissions in 2010, as you assume, what would be the temperature rise twenty years from now and forty years from now? Ballpark estimate would be adequate.

  8. 208
    Edward Greisch says:

    196 James McDonald: I notice that the graph of sea ice volume becomes increasingly dented on one side, like a tire going flat while sitting on a log.
    http://iwantsomeproof.com/extimg/sia_5.png
    Does it become more circular as you go back even further in time? I think it must become a circle when glaciers reach Davenport, Iowa.

  9. 209
    Mal Adapted says:

    Superman1:

    We ‘know’ how to end the increasing trend of brain cancers; however, most people are not willing to give up their heavy use of cell phones.

    Was that you, or was that the image of your comments that the site monitors want us to get? If the former, then as Hank Roberts would say, “this is overpluralization,” because you may be the only who ‘knows’ that. According to the National Cancer Institute, there’s no evidence of increasing trend in brain and other nervous system cancers, nor is there a significant association between cell phone use and any kind of cancer.

    If there is a “party line” on this blog, it’s that statements of fact should be backed up with evidence. What a brave rebel you are.

    [Response: Agreed. Can we just have a lot less hand-waving and lumping together of all of the problems of the world and stick to something resembling scientific issues? The current conversations are tedious and their like can be found all over the place. This is a unique venue - we have little interest in hosting repetitive identikit discussions of the sort playing out recently. - gavin]

  10. 210
    James McDonald says:

    Hank @ 200 — Anyone looking at that graph in 2000 could have made a reasonable guess as to what it would look like now, simply by extrapolating forward at the same rate of decrease.

    My question is why none of the models did anything like that. How could they miss something so obvious?

  11. 211
    Owen Moe says:

    I have a question that someone here may be willing to answer:
    Assume a situation in which there is complete energy balance at TOA – no net thermal imbalance and no net forcing imposed on the planet. Given the fact that we now measure i) a >35 year warming in the atmosphere, ii) an unabated ~35 year increase in 0-2000 meter ocean heat content and iii) an shorter-term but accelerating melting of land ice (Greenland, Antarctica, glaciers), is there any possible mechanism that could explain such simultaneous warming in terms of natural variability in the absence of a net forcing?
    I always assumed natural variability was due to semi-cyclical intra-system transfers of energy from, for example, ocean to atmosphere or atmosphere to land ice. If so, how can these three important heat sinks (ocean, atmosphere, ice) all be gaining thermal energy?

  12. 212
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re http://iwantsomeproof.com/extimg/sia_5.png – nice graph.

    I wonder how perception would be affected by making the radial distance proportional to the square root of volume (or whatever other quantity is being graphed on such a plot) so that the area on the graph is proportional to volume?

  13. 213
    Chris Dudley says:

    It is worth noting that US crop insurance payouts are expected to be about $25 billion this year. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120913/us-drought-crop-insurance/ That is only 6% of the annual value of Chinese imports into the US. http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html A 0.6% punitive tariff imposed for one decade seems a very reasonable response to this loss.

  14. 214
    Fred Magyar says:

    wili/dohboi @ 201,

    Tks for the welcome! I have been reading RC for about as long as I’ve been posting at TOD.
    Though I very rarely comment here. In any case I agree that it is time to take a lot of issues seriously and climate change and energy usage are very much intertwined IMHO.

    We need a completely new paradigm as of yesterday!

    Cheers!

    Fred

  15. 215
    Jim Larsen says:

    198 Rich C said, ” Those who say “put a fee on carbon, and that will do it” seem a little naive.”

    You left out “known” and “rising”. Carbon emissions aren’t a year-by-year thing so much as decade(s)-by-decade(s). Current cars are very durable. Toyota says that 80% of their cars sold over the last 20 years are still on the road. That doesn’t mean 80% of 20 year old cars, but there’s plenty of old Toyotas on the road, and current cars are even more durable. Build a car today, and those emissions are surely locked in for 15 years. New power plants lock in emissions for what? 50 years?

    Using gasoline as an example, it’s currently $4 a gallon, and obviously that’s too cheap to move the market much. If we target $20 a gallon in 20 years, that’s 80 cents a gallon per year. So everyone knows gas will cost $4.80 in 2013, $5.60 in 2014… (minus market forces, as this system will drive down the base price of gas) Stickers on cars should give $/mile for this year, 5 years out and 10 years out.

    So, please explain the problems with this approach?

  16. 216
    Jim Larsen says:

    201 wili, I think your analogy fails because the human mind is wired to recognize the difference between intentional and unintentional. Stepping on a girl’s toes during a dance elicits an entirely different, not just response, but level of pain than if you chased her down and stomped her foot with the same force.

    Similarly, Exxon et al are not trying to hurt you, me, or anybody else. They’re just not careful dancers, and use Fox News and the Wall Street Journal to convince themselves that women’s feet are impervious to pain.

  17. 217
    Jim Larsen says:

    Chris D, thanks for the note about US CAFE aspirations. It’s a much better topic than culpability, which is only applicable to physical actions in the past.

    I was flabbergasted when I first heard the news, and if it comes true, I’ll be proud of us. At the same time I don’t see why we shouldn’t shoot for 50mpg by 2015 and 75mpg by 2020. CAFE’s law specifically says the standard should be set at the highest level achievable (unsure of wording). I think it should be set high enough that major not-solely-luxury manufacturers actually fail to achieve it some of the time.

    198 Rich C, yes, there are always more things to do. My favorite addition to a known rising worldwide carbon tax is adding fuel costs to mo-rtgage and lo-an applications, which suddenly get easier if you buy an energy efficient house or car.

    The rising tax also works through res-ale value. Lea-ses for low mpg vehicles will get more expensive. It also means that someone who drives very little will have a grand selection of cheap vehicles to choose from. We have to do something with the already-built, so driving them to the low-milers club is optimal.

  18. 218
    Chris Korda says:

    [edit - see the response to this comment. No further discussions, thanks.]

  19. 219
    Patrick 027 says:

    re my my 137,140,145 (Re 132 Jack Roesler) – Clarifications/additions:

    re my 137: “This seems to be on track as, from memory, once upon a time emissions were ~ 7 Gt C per year and energy consumption was something like 10 TW or maybe 12 ? (although that would include some nuclear, hydro, etc, and the fossil fuel mix would be different over time and space). ~ 1887 TW is approx. the forcing from doubling CO2 (adding approx. 2185 Gt CO2 (596.4 Gt C) to preindustrial atmosphere)
    (in brief: forcing is approx. logarithmically proportional to amount over a range of amounts due to the shape of the most important longwave absorption band – at smaller amounts (where the center of the band is sufficiently far from saturated for tropopause-level forcing) the proportionality is approx. linear, at very very large amounts the proportionality changes due to other parts of the absorption spectrum becoming important (as on Venus)); this forcing is present as long as CO2 remains at that level (~ 560 ppm if the baseline is ~ 280 ppm); it is a change in forcing relative to the prior forcing – the climate system generally always has some external forcing, for which there generally is some equilibrium climate(s).

    A change in radiative forcing RF results in a change in equilibrium ; it takes time to reach this equilibrium due to heat capacity C; it (the e-folding time of exponential decay of radiative disequilibrium) is equal to heat capacity [J/(K*m^2)] * climate sensitivity [K*m^2/W], so that the energy accumulated [J/m^2] to reach equilibrium is equal to the change in radiative forcing [W/m^2] * e-folding time [J/W].

    ( C*ECS = t , RF*ECS = ∆T , ∆T*C = ∆H

    ∆H/t = (∆T*C)/(C*ECS) = ∆T/ECS = RF

    see 354 here
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/07/unforced-variations-july/comment-page-8/#comment-241456 )

    Of course, the effective heat capacity increases over time so the exponential decay of the disequilibrium slows down, prolonging the accumulation of energy. Also, there are climate feedbacks that don’t act as quickly as clouds, H2O vapor, seasonal snow and sea ice.

    Comparing the forcing to anthropogenic power consumption is useful for considering effects on equilibrium climate at any one time. For example, the global average effect of any change in albedo from using solar power would be rather small in comparison to mitigation of climate change if that solar power is used (to displace fossil fuels) for a sufficient time period (example: if a 10 % efficient PV panel with zero albedo (reflectivity for solar (SW) radiation) covered ground with an albedo of 25 – 30 %, the ratio of total increased heating to electricity generation would be similar to that of many fuel-combusting or fission-powered power plants (setting aside inverter and grid efficiency, etc., but still it would be similar). From my comment 137 above, assuming the CO2 forcing was for 2005, the ratio of CO2 radiative forcing to global primary energy consumption (including nuclear + renewable) at that time was 53.7 ± 5.5 ; if the forcing was for 2007, that drops to 51.4 ± 5.3. (As this is the result of cummulative emissions (including effects of CO2 uptake by the ocean, etc.), and the emission rate has been increasing, such a ratio might be considered a low-ball estimate of what might be considered a ‘standard’ forcing/combustion ratio.) Because the climate has already warmed some amount, the rate of additional heat accumulation in the climate system will be less (some of the forcing is already balanced by the climate change).

    Energy ratio: for example (because I’m not sure offhand what the best amount to use is), taking just 5 % of the ocean and the latent heat of increased H2O vapor and the heat needed to warm the air as calculated before, heating this up 3 K would take 872 ZJ (still mostly going to the ocean). (This is a heat capacity of 291 ZJ/K (570 MJ/(K*m^2)); with an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 3 K / 3.7 W/m^2 , the time scale is 14.6 years). Without uptake by other C reservoirs, doubling atmospheric CO2 via combustion of fossil fuels (in the proportions considered earlier) would directly produce 27.5 ZJ (873 TW*yr, or 8.73 TW for 100 years) of (primary) energy (based on the ratio found earlier – it can vary). So the ratio of energies in this case is 31.7. It will be lower from CO2 uptake from the atmosphere, but then again it will be larger as more of the ocean warms, and of course can vary with varying contributions of coal, oil, and gas. Using the total of my comment 140, 17700 ZJ, the ratio of energies is 644, but again, that’s without CO2 uptake.

  20. 220
    Patrick 027 says:

    The first part of that was supposed to be:

    re my my 137,140,145 (Re 132 Jack Roesler) – Clarifications/additions:

    re my 137: “This seems to be on track as, from memory, once upon a time emissions were ~ 7 Gt C per year and energy consumption was something like 10 TW or maybe 12 ? (although that would include some nuclear, hydro, etc, and the fossil fuel mix would be different over time and space).” Add to that paranthetical statement: on the othe hand, some net anthropogenic CO2 emissions are from other sources (deforestation, cement production).

    re my 145 – the error did not affect the numbers I posted due to rounding (same first 3 digits for either 365 or 365.25 days/year; the later is actually only closer to correct; not *every* 4th year is a leap year. I am generally basing calculations on 365.25 days/year unless for specific years.

    3.7 W/m2 => ~ 1887 TW is approx. the forcing from doubling CO2 (adding approx. 2185 Gt CO2 (596.4 Gt C) to preindustrial atmosphere)
    (in brief: forcing is approx. logarithmically proportional to amount over a range of amounts due to the shape of the most important longwave absorption band – at smaller amounts (where the center of the band is sufficiently far from saturated for tropopause-level forcing) the proportionality is approx. linear, at very very large amounts the proportionality changes due to other parts of the absorption spectrum becoming important (as on Venus)); this forcing is present as long as CO2 remains at that level (~ 560 ppm if the baseline is ~ 280 ppm); it is a change in forcing relative to the prior forcing – the climate system generally always has some external forcing, for which there generally is some equilibrium climate(s).

  21. 221
    Patrick 027 says:

    Because the climate has already warmed some amount, the rate of additional heat accumulation in the climate system will be less (some of the forcing is already balanced by the climate change).

    (The total anthropogenic forcing includes other GHGs and aerosols; the net effect happens to be (with significant error bars) similar to that from CO2 alone.)

  22. 222
    gavin says:

    Notice: Please keep discussions related to the science of climate change. Not the politics of climate change, the economics of energy generation, how cell phones do or do not give you brain cancer, the end of the world as we know it, or how strongly you feel about saving the world. There are multiple venues that will value your contributions to those discussion – this is just not one of them. Sorry. – gavin

  23. 223
    Patrick 027 says:

    As this is the result of cummulative emissions (including effects of CO2 uptake by the ocean, etc.), and the emission rate has been increasing, such a ratio might be considered a low-ball estimate of what might be considered a ‘standard’ forcing/combustion ratio. … but also, in the process of doubling CO2, the first CO2 added does nearly twice as much to climate as the last CO2 … on the other hand, if the rate of oceanic+other uptake changes…

  24. 224
    Chris Korda says:

    Gavin: Thanks for the feedback, and sorry to hear I’m boring the hosts. Just to clarify: The emissions projections of the International Energy Agency are to be considered unrelated to the science of climate change?

    [Response: The science of emissions projections are fine. - gavin]

  25. 225
    Chris Korda says:

    The science of emissions projections are fine.

    Gavin: Sorry to be dense, but it sounds like you’re saying it’s OK to discuss how the IEA comes up with its projections, but not the projections themselves or their implications for future climate. Surely that’s not what you meant?

    [Response: For any projection for the future of climate, you obviously need a projection of emissions (greenhouse gases, ozone and aerosol precursors, etc.), land use change and so on. Since no one actually has a crystal ball, these are produced based on reasonable storylines of how population, technology, economics etc. might evolve, mostly through the application of Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). None of the resulting scenarios are 'truth', but the hope is that they span most of the possibilities. If you want to discuss the details of the scenario construction, you need to find people who are more involved in IAMs than anyone here is. If you want to discuss the differences the different scenarios make for climate, then stick around. If you want to posit that all of the scenarios are bunk and/or the world is going end on Tuesday, then take it somewhere else. - gavin]

  26. 226
    Mal Adapted says:

    Gavin:

    the end of the world as we know it, or how strongly you feel about saving the world.

    Sorry, I can’t resist: It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

  27. 227
    Chris Korda says:

    “If you want to discuss the differences the different scenarios make for climate, then stick around.”

    Gavin: Excellent, thank you for clarifying that. I would like to discuss the effect of two scenarios: The International Energy Agency’s 2011 “New Policies Scenario” (IEA 2011a), as updated in IEA’s 2012 “Facing China’s Coal Future”, which is available HERE, and the US Energy Information Agency’s “International Energy Outlook 2011 Reference Case” (IEO2011), available HERE. In particular I would like to better understand the impact on future climate of the following three graphs:

    Primary energy demand until 2035, from “Facing China’s Coal Future”, figure 1, page 7, Increases in carbon emissions by fuel type for regions with highest absolute emissions growth, 2008-2035 from IEO2011, figures 115, page 143, and “Cumulative carbon dioxide emissions by region”, figure 116, also on page 143, same link as above.

    Both scenarios contain extensive references, and appear to correlate with each other and with other current sources I have examined including UNEP’s GEO5 and BP’s June 2012 “Statistical Review of World Energy”. Assuming events unfold in accordance with these scenarios, what will the impact be on total global cumulative CO2 emissions, and what is the resulting temperature increase likely to be? Specifically, the IEO2011 projects about 1 trillion metric tons of additional cumulative energy-related carbon dioxide emissions between 2009 and 2035 (page 143). How does this compare to the new IPCC scenarios? What are the consequences?

  28. 228
    Hank Roberts says:

    > why none of the models did anything like that

    Look at the various ‘betting on sea ice’ discussions on other climate blogs.

    Did you read this thread? Look at the picture at least:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/01/arctic-sea-ice-decline-in-the-21st-century/

  29. 229
    David B. Benson says:

    Chris Korda @227 — The consequences range from very bad to horrible. Some assessment group places the consequences of just the current warming at around US$1000 billion per year or 1.6% of GWP.

  30. 230

    Well, I do have a question: anybody know of specific research projects suggested by/or targeted to the “Great Sea Ice Crash of 2012?” I’m surveying the fallout, and if there is anything fairly directly related in some way, I’d be fascinated to hear about it.

    Also, what are people’s perceptions of the ‘buzz factor’ associated with the numerous news stories? Anybody see evidence of wider impact, like ‘water cooler conversations,’ for example?

  31. 231
    David B. Benson says:

    The sea ice data center of apl at the Univeristy of Washington has made available a daily dataset of Arctic sea ice volume. I would be very interested in seeing the annual averages (not the widely publicized annual minimums).

    (I’m not set up to do this myself just now. Thanks.)

  32. 232
    Chris Dudley says:

    Jim (#217),

    Yes, there is a lot you can learn from wikipedia if you are behind on the news. You may not be aware that the US regulates greenhouse gas emissions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_of_greenhouse_gases_under_the_Clean_Air_Act

    What you might call a safe harbor when it comes to the liability consequences of convincing attribution that is coming into focus as, for example, in the recent PNAS paper. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/08/extreme-metrics/

    You could argue that the attribution must come from models and they are not ready yet, but models can always catch up.

  33. 233

    Forgot this one Hank and thanks:

    http://www.realclimate.org/images/bitz_fig1.jpg

    Amazing, took 1 second to see that 2040-2049 projection looks like 2012!

  34. 234

    #233 turns out that the 2007 2040-2049 sea ice projection is robust weather and climate wise, just temporally wrong. http://eh2r.blogspot.ca/

  35. 235

    “My question is why none of the models did anything like that. How could they miss something so obvious?”

    Yes. This seems to be THE question. To melt that amount of ice requires a lot of heat. The source for that heat should be amenable to inspection. What is the source for the heat that the models aren’t capturing?

  36. 236

    #229–I’d love a source on that assessment if you can find it, DBB.

  37. 237
    Superman1 says:

    Gavin,

    “Please keep discussions related to the science of climate change. Not the politics of climate change, the economics of energy generation, how cell phones do or do not give you brain cancer, the end of the world as we know it”

    All well and good. But, if you are going to post an attack on one of these verboten topics, such as Mal Adaptive’s attack on my cell phone statement, it is incumbent on you to post a response. You have not done that, and it reflects negatively on the partiality of this site.

    [Response: This site is partial to staying on topic and there are no apologies for that. Take it elsewhere. - gavin]

  38. 238
    flxible says:

    Kevin @236 – DARA report David refers to reported widely.

  39. 239
    SecularAnimist says:

    Regarding keeping the discussion here focused on climate science, a few thoughts.

    The recent Nature Geoscience paper that several commenters have mentioned seems important. I note that it has already been covered by a number of climate change blogs, including SkepticalScience, Joe Romm’s ClimateProgress (which republished the SkepticalScience article), ClimateCentral, ClimateSight, and Tamino’s OpenMind blog. Probably others. Several commenters here have requested that the RC hosts weigh in on it.

    It seems to me that several of those sites post more frequently and promptly on such developments than does RC, often with at least some substantive scientific commentary (e.g. putting new studies in the context of previous work, etc).

    Recognizing that at least some of those sites have, or are run by, full-time bloggers, I still wonder, what is RC’s unique value-added here? I have to say that I find SkepticalScience and ClimateProgress (for example) to be better sites for frequent, up-to-the-minute reporting on new developments in climate science than is RC, where such studies are sometimes not even noted, let alone have their implications discussed in depth by the hosts.

    Would it be possible for RC to adopt a practice of routinely posting at least short reports on such developments, when time does not permit the hosts to write full-length analyses? Then the discussion threads on those reports could be more focused not just on “the science” but on those specific scientific issues.

    My other thought is this. One reason that the “unforced variations” threads trend to discussions of solutions to the AGW problem (and/or of the perceived political, economic and social obstacles to such solutions) may be that for many of us, and I include myself, climate science has already told us what we need to know.

    That was my earlier comment here about the permafrost study: it’s just another study telling us what we already know, namely that we are in deep trouble, that the closer we look at AGW and the better we understand it, the more we see that it is worse than we expected and getting worse faster than expected. What is there to “discuss”, really, about the permafrost study? It’s just more bad news, in a steady stream of bad news, which we have every reason to expect will continue to grow into a torrent of ever worsening bad news.

    By all means, climate scientists, PLEASE continue your heroic and invaluable work in studying and understanding the problem. Please “keep your cool” and keep doing science. Please, as time permits, keep us updated here on what’s happening with the science, and continue your generous answering of questions about the science, especially for those visitors who are just “catching on” to the severity and urgency of the problem (and may arrive here dazed & confused by the deniers).

    But recognize that for many of us, we already “get it”. That’s why we are obsessively focused on finding, and implementing solutions (whatever each of us perceives those to be), and on dealing with the political and social obstacles to those solutions.

    Thanks.

    [Response: RC is not something that was designed to be is strategically positioned for some maximum perceived impact. It was, and continues to be, somewhere where scientists can talk about the science and hope to 'give context that is often missing' elsewhere. It is a volunteer effort and has no staff or dedicated full-timers. We don't just reprint press-releases or repost non-original content, and our expertise predisposes us to talk about scientific (WG1-type) issues over policy solutions. This has always been true, and will likely always remain so. If you want policy discussions go to places where policy is the focus. It is true that posting frequency has fallen off as demands on our time have increased, and we are certainly discussing ways to move forward in ways that make sense. It's great that SkS, or ClimateCentral or CapitalWeather are doing more rapid reaction stuff, and when they do it well, we don't see the need to repeat things here. People I think sometimes forget it takes time to craft a substantive commentary on something new. And the world has enough non-substantive commentary already. - gavin]

  40. 240
    Hank Roberts says:

    Jeffrey, did you read the 2007 thread linked above?
    The paper on model runs with extremely rapid loss of sea ice?
    Don’t confuse model runs with “a prediction” – the models are run many times to get an idea of the many possible outcomes.

    Look at the discussion and you’ll see that rapid loss happens on some runs, without any need to find some mysterious unknown heat source or current or wind — not always, not the same year each time, but it was known from that work as a possibility.

    Note the last IPCC report said they didn’t know enough to discuss the subject; a lot of papers since then have added much to what the next IPCC report can use.

  41. 241
    John Mashey says:

    Some readers here may be interested in an example of climate science (nomral progress as via IPCC 1990, 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007) versus anti-science (in 2005, exhume a long-obsolete, well-caveated graph from IPCC(1990) and promote it as absolute truth, albeit without the caveats.)

    As I recall, this topic has been touched upon here at RC now and then, but some more info has been unearthed.

    See More use and abuse of IPCC 1990 fig 7.1(c).

  42. 242
    wili says:

    Gavin, please feel free to delete any posts I make that you judge to be off topic.

    I trust that asking questions about the implications of a Nature article on permafrost melt is legit?

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n10/full/ngeo1573.html

    Still waiting for nibbles on that.

    Meanwhile, Climate Central has an update from the Arctic expedition by Christian Berndt of the GEOMAR/Helmholz Center for Ocean Research:

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/scientists-close-in-on-the-cause-of-arctic-methane-leaks-15090

    “It’s been called the Methane Bomb — a stash of gas buried under the Arctic seafloor whose heat-trapping power is much greater, molecule for molecule, than the carbon dioxide people usually worry about. As climate change forces the Arctic to warm, experts warn that methane could escape, speeding global warming. They can’t predict when the great escape might begin, however, or how fast it might proceed. They can’t even rule out the possibility that it might have already started. So they’ve been cruising Arctic waters to get a better handle on where things stand…

    [Berndt] and his colleagues have known since 2008 that methane is leaking from the ocean bottom near Spitzbergen, an island in Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago. But thanks to a research cruise this past summer, they’ve got reason to believe that global warming could be part of the reason, if not the sole culprit. “We have no proof,” he said in a recent interview. “But we have several lines of evidence that fit well [with this possibility].”

    Berndt thinks that two things may be going on at once: a slow leak of methane that’s been going on for hundreds of years, and also the beginning of the hydrate breakup that scientists have been worried about…”

  43. 243
    vukcevic says:

    [Response: Agreed. Can we just have a lot less hand-waving and lumping together of all of the problems of the world and stick to something resembling scientific issues? The current conversations are tedious and their like can be found all over the place. This is a unique venue - we have little interest in hosting repetitive identikit discussions of the sort playing out recently. - gavin]

    OK, I’ll try my luck.
    It is not often that the NASA is enthusiastic about something readily rejected by the regular professional climate scientists.
    Jean Dickey of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena
    :…… Other possibilities are that some other (the Earth’s) core process could be having a more indirect effect on climate, or that an external (e.g. solar) process affects the core and climate simultaneously.
    more here:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/EarthNV.htm

  44. 244
    tamino says:

    Maintaining a blog about anything (including climate science) is a lot of work. Doing so with the level of expertise and relevance found here at RealClimate is a valuable service to the readers. It’s also a sacrifice on the part of the bloggers; even with a team to shoulder the load, it’s a load.

    It’s fine to make requests about topics you want discussed (by both bloggers and commenters), in fact I get such requests often and sometimes fulfill them. Suggestions are one thing but demands or insistence are quite another — it is not our place to tell the RC staff what they can and can’t, or should and shouldn’t, discuss in their posts or permit in their comment threads.

    We are guests in someone else’s house. Show some respect.

  45. 245
    JCH says:

    vukcevic @ 243, there appears to be a major difference between the NASA graph (why would any professional climate scientist reject it; it confirms a stout anthropogenic warming in the 20th Century) and yours.

    Additionally, as I have argued on Climate Etc., left to natural variation, the temperature at the end of the 20th Century would be somewhat close to the temperature at the beginning of the 20th Century, and it appears NASA agrees with me.

  46. 246

    re: 240

    I don’t know if I’d say that the model’s outliers resemble what’s happening. The lack of growth after a period of decline seems to be the biggest divergence, even more than the actual extent of the decline. Since the graph isn’t fine grained enough to track runs year-to-year, it will be interesting to see if we do experience a resurgence in sea ice growth over the next couple of years or if melt just goes straight to the expected minimum of around 1m km2.

    One of the model runs showed a regrowth of ice up to 7m km2 before extent just fell off a cliff down to the 1m km2 basement. If ice follows that pattern, I’ll completely believe in the Gaia Hypothesis: resurgence like that would guarantee that we’ll never mitigate co2. Ever. It would mean that Gaia is p****d at us terminally and doesn’t want us around.

  47. 247
    chris says:

    SecularAnimist, I have a different perspective on this. To my mind RealClimate maintains an air of professionalism and quality in standing back from the blog battles that accompany every potentially controversial paper that splurges out of the scientific literature. There are plenty of websites that engage in instantaneous responses and that seems fine to me. Anyone sufficiently interested to track down the essential relevances out of the relentless stream of mock battles can come to a pretty good idea of the underlying realities of the subjects being gnawed over. There’s usually enought information out there, and it’s not obvious that a further pitching-in by RealClimate would add very much!

    Part of the value of RealClimate is that it reflects the realities of working at the coalface of a subject. It also reflects (IMHO) something important about contemporary dissemination of science, namely that once the vast amount of blogospheric bitching about a topic is done with, the issues are often fundamentally straightforward. I’m reminded, for example of the blog fervour over the xMRV virus/prostate cancer link, which has been pretty much knocked on the head by people actually doing some very careful experiments, resolving the issues, and publishing them. The saying that “when all is said and done, a whole lot more is said than is done”, applies with spades in the age of the blog!

    So I’m happy that RealClimate posts sparsely and with a certain authority. In that vein I also think DeepClimate’s blog is fundamentally solid since he (she?) assures there’s something very worthwhile to say/show before saying it. I’ll also give a thumbs up to Tamino’s OpenMind which is a relatively sparse in its postings, but chooses its subjects well and generally nails them…

  48. 248
    Patrick 027 says:

    This is more WGII stuff than WGI, but it would be interesting to see maps of preindustrial vs. current vs future regions where conditions would be good … not just for the staple crops but also things like producing maple syrup (that’s been on my mind recently). Anyone seen anything?

    re 244 tamino – or anyone else – if I wanted to start my own blog (did RC itself have a post on starting your own blog a few years ago?), where would the easiest place to do it be for putting in equations, or drawings, or spreadsheet tables (but especially equations)? (and would commenting be as easy as it is here, because I’ve been to one place where I couldn’t figure out how to submit a comment, and another where there’s a whole legal thing to read (probably basic standard stuff but it was enough to make me just decide to not bother)?

  49. 249

    #238–Thanks, flexible. So THAT’S the important thing I missed while out in the woods!

  50. 250
    wili says:

    I want to join tamino in appreciating what a great service people are providing here. And I apologize if I came off as disrespectful to any of the people that do the hard and important work of maintaining the site. My frustrations is mostly directed at fellow posters who seem to be willing to talk about anything else–politics, ev’s, economics, troll feeding…–than what to me is one of the most important and interesting articles to come out on carbon feedbacks: the Nature article on permafrost linked above.

    Since, as far as I can tell, none of my posts have been deleted, I have to assume that the moderators do not at this point find them to be off topic, here. (But maybe they just haven’t gotten around to it yet?)

    Having said that, and risking once again being seen as ungrateful or disrespectful (neither of which I intend to be):

    Gavin, in response to Chris Korda at#225 above wrote:

    “If you want to posit that all of the scenarios are bunk and/or the world is going end on Tuesday, then take it somewhere else.”

    As far as I have seen, no one on this site has actually posited that “the world is going to end on Tuesday,” so I assume this was some kind of hyperbole. A hypothetical and slightly whimsical question–if there was actual scientific evidence that the world was going to end on Tuesday, would it still be off topic.

    More to the point, is there a point where the consequences of what the science tells us gets too scary to discuss even here, no matter how well backed up with references that science may be? If not, then what are we to make of this ‘next Tuesday’ remark?

    Again, a big thanks to those here (and elsewhere) who do the hard work of maintaining wonderful sites where the science of climate–the biggest issue of our time, imvho–can be frankly discussed.


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