I can’t think what people might want to talk about this month…
There is the BBC radio program from last night.
A policeman report that there was an attempt to frame someone for the leak.
Anyone have any details on that?
[Response:The program is available here and this was the first I'd heard of this. - gavin]
It was hard to trust the rumours in the press at the time. All that I can recall is that the alleged culprit, was of course, extremely upset. He was not a climatologist.
Re: The BBC radio 4 program.
It could have been worse, but should have been a lot better. It failed to turn the spotlight on the way the media allowed itself to be exploited by those looking for a gate type scandal. It avoided the technical discussion but not the sensational quotes which were interpreted as ‘evidence’.
Re:BBC Radio 4 program “Climategate revisited”
It could have been worse but should have been a lot better. There was no discussion of the role of the media and how their failure to understand, caused them to become amplifiers of misinformation. Some of the quoted fragments were repeated in a rush near the start, but never discussed because all technical discussion was omitted.
Many people, including some scientists are blissfully unaware of the existence of a misinformation campaign and this revisit was a lost opportunity to inform them about it.
See Tom Toles at the Washington Post today…http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/toles
Since we are supposed to discuss the hurricane, I’d like to point out that Kevin Trenberth may have made a Hoerling-type howler just recently. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/science/earth/scientists-unsure-if-climate-change-is-to-blame-for-hurricane-sandy.html
As discussed in this realclimate post http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/08/extreme-metrics/ it can be quite a mistake to split extremes into 1 degree of warming and several degrees of variability if the only path to that extreme is the effect of warming.
If we consider Sandy as a late season storm that anomalously strengthened in mid-latitude waters rather than weakening or dissipating, an effect that seems to trap damage from most late season tropical storms down in the Gulf, then the destruction north of Cape Hatteras from Sandy might be entirely owing to global warming, not just 20% as the Trenberth quote suggests.
If the sea surface temperature was at a near record, and the records are all recent for late October, then there is a pretty strong case that climate change flooded the subway, not random chance.
I’d have had a few things to say had they interviewed me!!
A programme oozing false equivalence that included Nigel Lawson whinging that ‘sceptics’ never get fair coverage – you couldn’t make it up!
Chris – While I’d agree that without the SST anomaly Sandy would would not have maintained power,
without the blocking high over Greenland and the meandering Jetstream bringing arctic air south over eastern states, Sandy would not have had more than a minute probability of making landfall. Thus both the system’s track to and power at New Jersey’s coast are directly attributable to global warming, with the usual qualification that “NO SINGLE WEATHER EVENT CAN BE ATTRIBUTED SOLELY TO GLOBAL WARMING.”
The caveat of course is that the causal linkage between arctic sea ice loss and Jetstream disruption has a cogent explanation, but it has yet to be formally recognized by IPCC.
Given that observed ASI loss is itself similarly unexplained within IPCC literature, it appears that a novel measure of explanations’ credibility is required, reflecting “a consensus of probability” rather than formal, and dangerously belated, IPCC adoption.
[Response: There is no such consensus - of probability or of any other kind. There are useful things that can be said related to Atlantic temperatures, sea level, and water vapour, but the specific circulation link to arctic sea ice is tenuous at best, and completely speculative at worst. Your view of IPCC is also a little odd - it is simply an assessment of the science that has been done. IPCC cannot possibly arrive at a consensus on a topic if no such consensus exists in the literature - and it doesn't. To blame the IPCC for this state of affairs, is to blame the mirror for one's receding hairline. - gavin]
Watts Up With That ? has exceeded its own high standard of climate denial dementia by denying that Sandy was a hurricane.
“but the specific circulation link to arctic sea ice is tenuous at best, and completely speculative at worst.”
This is similar to Cliff Mass’ position…yet I haven’t seen the weaknesses of this theory explored in any depth. Is there a paper out there expanding on this, or maybe Real Climate could do a post on this subject?
[Response: My conclusion is related to work we have done over the last 10 years on NAO/AO responses to different forcings. We looked at volcanoes, solar effects, CO2 etc. and while we found clear signals (increasing +ve phase in each case), the signals are small compared to the huge interannual variability, and are thus only detectable with many examples superposed, or over long time scales. There have been similar experiments with sea ice changes (by Clara Deser for instance), and while there is a negative NAO response, this too is a very small signal, and far too small to be detectable in the 5 years or so in which we have had these exceptionally low summer sea ice minimum, and on top of which have to compete with the CO2-driven trend towards slightly more positive NAO phase. Claims that even a seasonal signal has been detected, let alone a synoptic scale signal, would be grossly premature - indeed, I doubt that anything other than a huge effect would be detectable in such a small time period - and there is no indication of that at all. - gavin]
Roger Pielke Jr. says in the Wall Street Journal today, don’t worry, be happy.
This is similar to Cliff Mass’ position on this theory, yet I haven’t seen the weaknesses of it explored in any depth. Is there a paper out there you can point me to, or perhaps Real Climate could do a post explaining the strenghths/weaknesses and knowns/unknowns of this theory?
I posted this at the end of the October’s open thread so people didn’t have much time to respond. Seems like a significant addition to the long discussions we’ve had here at RC on sea bed methane:
“Ocean temperature variability for the past 60 years on the Norwegian-Svalbard margin influences gas hydrate stability on human time scales”
Does this change anyone’s views on the relative level of near-term potential threat from seabed methane hydrates?
See Tamino’s newest post for a dramatically different view from the business world!
I saw something about a month ago, which claimed there was a lot of organic carbon under the Antarctic icesheet. The implication was that it could become atmospheric CO2, should parts of the ice sheet melt. Does anyone know any details?
Here is the paper which has received quite a play in the blogosphere:
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L06801, 6 PP., 2012
Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes
Jennifer A. Francis
Stephen J. Vavrus
with the abstract at
and full paper at
I don’t know enough meteorology to more than just barely follow the argument. [I suspect the statistics is solid enough, but that by itself will not suffice.]
So why don’t other experts [Gavin Schmidt (responses above), Kevin Trenberth, etc.] agree? I just need enough to see one or more holes in the reasoning.
For Thomas: LMGSTFY
Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions: Estimates of Rate of Future Sea-Level Rise May Be Too Low
Faster and faster, I opine.
> denying that Sandy was a hurricane.
Technically once it lost its eye and heat pump and moved onto land, as I read it, it fit a different definition. I gather the insurance companies that have far higher deductibles for hurricane damage than for storm damage eat the difference.
It has been said that the jet stream will slow down in response to polar amplification (Arctic in particular, depends on season). The vertical wind shear should tend to decrease in the lower atmosphere, particularly at some latitudes and times of year. Thus if near-surface winds stayed constant, one would expect a reduction in westerly flow at some level above at least at some latitudes and times of year.
However, the mid-upper tropospheric ‘hot spot’ of low latitudes (which has less seasonality? – does it?) should have the opposite effect at higher altitudes, – perhaps with more even distribution over latitude (I’m recalling a figure from Ch 9 of IPCC AR4 WGI (zonal averages)).
I think I remember seeing at least one model producing an overall faster high altitude westerly wind (somewhere near tropopause level, at least).
However, climatological zonal average wind can obscure important aspects of jet streams (such as the distinction between polar and subtropical).
But maybe the steering level changes. Even if the wind stayed constant, if the steering level lowered, then systems would move more slowly eastward… I could imagine a lowering of the steering level in response to a decreased surface potential temperature gradient… though now I’m not sure if my reasoning is correct …
Just some thoughts… (Maybe I should bring up the ‘dishpan’ experiments next time).
New York’s mayor backs Obama on climate change in wake of Sandy: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-02/bloomberg-backs-obama-in-wake-of-sandy/4349580
I have some further thoughts on the broader Hurricane Sandy and climate connection here, bringing up a few of the points Patrick raised above.
Patrick 027 @19 — Did you read the paper I linked @15?
127 Superman1 asserted, “Whenever I present factual responses to questionable assertions, you and The Three MisQuoteers run for the hills!”
Interesting. Whenever I actually read your, um, stuff, I respond with facts and you run for the hills, as you did a few days ago. I, and others, claimed that our emissions are very low, or even negative, while living far better than a typical USian. Even if your total guess that Steve Fish’s life results in a tad more CO2 than he sequesters (perhaps he didn’t subtract the natural seqestration that would have occurred if his land were vacant – Did you Steve?), his numbers surely are better than a typical small condo dweller. Let me know when you want to engage in a conversation by actually answering direct questions:
Why should we downsize our living standard when it’s already near carbon neutral?
Do you have a reason why the techniques we used can’t be duplicated by others?
Why wouldn’t the simple technique of counting energy costs on loan applications drive the market to adopt the techniques we’ve already proven? Such a law would avoid the carbon tax fight. I think it would have huge bipartisan appeal – do you think more than a few recalcitrants would disapprove?
Please cut and paste the above questions so as not to veer off too badly. Answer all four, or admit you’re a hill-runner. Ask me any questions you want, and I promise to similarly cut-and-paste.
130 flxible, excellent point. Once built, a refrigerator, a car, a power plant, a fossil fuel well, or a house’s systems will either live their whole life in somebody’s hands or be turned into trash prematurely. Sell your SUV and buy an econocar? You did nothing for the planet. To do any good (or not), you’ve got to crush the SUV. I don’t know if you’ve saved any energy or money via your refrigerator procurement choices, but:
” the optimal lifetime for the energy objective ranges between 2 to 12 years, while that determined by cost objective is 18 years over the time horizon between 1985 and 2020.”
If you’re interested in an efficient refrigerator that works far better and lasts longer than a regular one, look at Sunfrost. They don’t circulate air between freezer and refrigerator, so stuff stays fresh and frost doesn’t build up. (Frost is your veggies sending their water to the freezer.) A bit of frost eventually builds on the freezer’s ceiling, but it’s easy to handle. 0.5KWH/day as compared to 1KWH/day for the best regular refrigerators. The bad news? They’re a small company so you don’t get mass production efficiency. Prepare to spend over $2000.
sciencedebate.org posed the issue of Climate Change and other top questions to Romney and Obama:
Slightly OT, maybe (the effects of climate change on glacier dynamics were at least mentioned a bit more than just “in passing”), but worth a watch IMHO is Episode 1 (of the BBC/Discovery co-production called Operation Iceberg, an examination of iceberg calving from the Store Glacier in Greenland (can’t speak for Episode 2, yet, about the “death” of an iceberg). Lots of stunning photography and a reasonable amount of science.
Episode 1 is still available for viewing on the BBC iplayer for 3 or 4 more days (UK viewers only probably; link above). And there are a few clips there that might be viewable to non-UK viewers.
For a further flavour for non-UK viewers, the University of Aberystwyth’s website (some of whose scientists were involved in the science aspects) has a few short clips. And I note there are some YouTube clips around, too.
RealClimate and/or others should do a blog refuting the misinformation on the NC-20 site, for instance the notion that CO2 is merely a dependent variable in the glacial cycles. It’s both a cause and effect, an essential part of the feedback loop that produced almost all the warming.
“Sea Level Rise (SLR) has been a fact throughout the existence of the sea on earth. For at least the last million years, planetary movements have caused cycles in the earth’s orbit that cause periodic heating and cooling cycles. These cycles range from as short as a few decades to twenty and forty thousand-year cycles. They explain such things such as ice ages and glaciations, as well as warming phenomena that caused Greenland to be green. These are all natural phenomena and CO2 was a dependent variable, meaning that it was not the cause of any of these cycles but rather an effect. Additionally, SLR (or declines) has been over thousands of years, not a few decades.”
From the essay that Tom Dayton linked at #11 and from the character assassination The Roger has attempted against Peter Hoppe: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/munich-re-cites-climate-change-footprint-in-disaster-loss-trends-15128
I’d say we have a tacit admission that there is now a climate change signal apparent in disaster loss data. In the essay, the Roger has shifted from his prior metric of loss normalized to population to a new metric of loss normalized to a fraction of the overall economy. One can immediately see that for sectors such as agriculture which have shrunk in importance in the economy this new metric minimizes the effect of climate on aggregated losses. For the Roger, if housing values fall owing to economic woes, that is just another means to obfuscate the climate signal is disaster losses from convective storms. Any obfuscation in a storm I guess.
” but the specific circulation link to arctic sea ice is tenuous at best, ”
Totally disagree Gavin, but first I want to congratulate GCM programmers like yourself for outstanding models predicting this unusual hurricane event with astounding precision.
In there lies the truth, why don’t you ask your models why Sandy has turned towards New Jersey instead of the NE Atlantic, perhaps if they talked like HAL in 2001 space Odyssey fame, they would have corrected you on this one.
The disruption of the jet stream started from the unusual regions of Arctic Ocean open water stabilizing the Polar circulation flow from the Pole Southwards. Many people mistakenly used pressure graphs and didn’t see the Cyclones stuck in place over the open water. Some of them had SLP pressures as High as 1019 mb, yet very visible and amazingly stable. Compensating Southwards of the open water where a string of Anticyclones equally not so mobile, but covering more surface (longitude decreases with latitude) and inherently bigger than the Cyclones because they expand with clear cold air they create. In particular the huge region of open water on top of Greenland, Kara and Barents seas covered by an equally large Low pressure, subsequently compensated by a an equally important High Southwards. The rest , the trajectory change is history.
I fault the chasm of not interpreting the GCM’s thoroughly and holistically because its so easy to let them display astounding forecast results. We become lazy and don’t bother looking at the finer details, the mechanics of it all from 20 North all the way to the Pole. The general circulation layout fully explained without using oscillation acronyms also is useful.
Study say models underestimate SLR due to missing feedback loops:
I like Chris’ essay linked at #22. It might make an interesting guest post here at RC with minimal editing.
Politico article today by Erica Martinson creates false impressions about climate consensus. It relies heavily on Judith Curry as source.
And Tamino might want to look at Scafetta’s latest compilation of wiggles
“… related to the spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn (range between 9.5 and 10.5 years, and median 9.93 years) and to the tidal sidereal period of Jupiter (about 11.86 years). The central cycle may be associated to a quasi-11-year solar dynamo cycle that appears to be approximately synchronized to the average of the two planetary frequencies. A simplified harmonic constituent model based on the above two planetary tidal frequencies and on the exact dates of Jupiter and Saturn planetary tidal phases, plus a theoretically deduced 10.87-year central cycle reveals complex quasi-periodic interference/beat patterns….”
from which he concludes that “A new grand solar minimum (climate cooling?) is expected to occur in 2020–2045 A.D.”
Oh, God, not another paper by Scafetta. What is with that dude? He just doesn’t learn!
[Response: More to the point, why does the journal (and it is only one journal) keep pubishing the same thing over and again. We've got it - people can fit solar system cycles to any complex time series. - gavin]
This trick of searching through lots of charts, picking some with similar wiggles, overlapping, and sliding them back and forth, up and down, stretching and squeezing, trying to make them line up — it captures the eye and disengages the brain. Examples abound. If Scafetta has a scientifically defensible way to use that kind of eyeballing, or analysis of the numbers behind the seemingly similar wiggles — well, there are people who need help doing that kind of analysis.
Re- Comment by Jim Larsen — 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:59 AM
You say- “Even if your total guess that Steve Fish’s life results in a tad more CO2 than he sequesters (perhaps he didn’t subtract the natural seqestration that would have occurred if his land were vacant – Did you Steve?)”
The average US resident has a fossil carbon footprint of 48 tons of CO2/year while I am around approximately ¼ of that. I am still working on some uncertainties in the calculation and lowering the amount. I live off the sun, a little firewood (good insulation), a little propane (for cooking), and much less gasoline than the average. I live without any public utility electricity, land line phone, water, natural gas, sewer, cable or even broadcast TV, and no mail delivery or county road maintenance for our 2 miles of gravel road. The only utilities I get are cell service and satellite internet. My home is made of largely recycled material.
I live in the great opulence of a remote region in the Northern California coastal range fir/redwood forest. This forest sequesters about 2 tons of CO2/acre/year but I would like to hear from Jim Bouldin regarding this figure.
[Response:It would depend directly on the size structure of the tree population.--Jim]
In any case I own enough forest to offset the fossil carbon load of many homes and am working on a land trust to protect it in perpetuity.
Although we live modestly we have most of the usual appliances and comforts. I realize that many folks couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to live this way but everybody should be able to greatly reduce their fossil fuel use and save money in the bargain.
If you watch sales and keep track of models you can get a standard refrigerator that approaches Sunfrost efficiency for less than half the cost. Put the money saved into house insulation or other low hanging fruit. Steve
Jim Larsen #24,
“I, and others, claimed that our emissions are very low, or even negative, while living far better than a typical USian. Even if your total guess that Steve Fish’s life results in a tad more CO2 than he sequesters (perhaps he didn’t subtract the natural seqestration that would have occurred if his land were vacant – Did you Steve?), his numbers surely are better than a typical small condo dweller. Let me know when you want to engage in a conversation by actually answering direct questions….. Please cut and paste the above questions so as not to veer off too badly…… Ask me any questions you want, and I promise to similarly cut-and-paste.”
[Edit: please knock it off with the attitude and the insults, we're tired of it. Future posts containing such will be deleted--it's a waste of our time to deal with it.]
that’s not how good science/engineering is done. The first step in solving any problem is to identify the problem, and especially its causes, as accurately as possible. Once that is done, then identify the requirements for solving the problem in parallel with removing the causes. Then, one can postulate the approaches to solving the problem, and particularly the approaches specified within the context of the requirements. The cut-and-paste piecemeal proposals in which The Three MisQuoteers specialize have little meaning. If they were placed in context of what was necessary to head off serious climate change, their minimal impact would be obvious. Any proposal without an accompanying Roadmap, which details the steps going from where we are now to what is required, is pure arm-waving.
Here’s where we stand. Under the best of circumstances, where we stop burning fossil fuels today, we can expect a total temperature increase (above pre-industrial) of somewhere between 1.5 C to 2.5 C in the next few decades. This projected increase does not include the effect of most positive feedback mechanisms. We can observe these positive feedback mechanisms now, and they are accelerating. It is my opinion, based on my familiarity with nonlinear dynamical systems and with the physics driving these mechanisms, that temperature increases of this magnitude will not stabilize at these levels as the feedbacks kick in. Many researchers, including Kevin Anderson among others, believe that ~2 C increase will lead to horrific conditions. Going beyond those levels due to inability to stabilize will lead to catastrophic conditions.
And, this is under the best of conditions, which are obviously not achievable. Generically, what is required to head off the disaster is to phase out fossil fuel use ASAP, reforest/afforest ASAP, and perhaps take extraordinary measures to both remove carbon from the atmosphere and reduce solar influx to quench the self-sustaining feedback mechanisms before they get further out of control. To accomplish these goals will require far more stringent measures than The Three MisQuoteers have proposed. I suggest that you buy the DVD The Unknown War, about the battle in the Eastern front in WWII. Look at the sacrifices made by the citizens of Moscow, Stalingrad, and Leningrad to forestall the impending disaster. That’s the level of sacrifice we will need to ward off the impending climate change catastrophe, not the business as usual approach that you and Fish keep proposing.
I understand your political agenda for targeting the energy companies and their denier handmaidens as villains, and for telling people that they can continue their lifestyle with minimal modifications as we transition into renewables, but it’s a dead-end approach in the long-run. It won’t work because the proposed approach does not match the scope of what is required.
> only one journal
Profit? This journal is highly popular with those who like this sort of thing:
W. Soon et al.
Re- Jim Bouldin inline in my 2 Nov 2012 @ 12:17 PM post:
My 2 tons CO2/acre/year figure came from a second hand reference to a study of Northern California and possibly Oregon fir forest that is in a perpetual cut mode. I think such a figure from commercial forest, in the long view, is very deceptive. Mine is mixed fir and redwood and was logged in the 1960′s and so is largely, but not completely second growth with the opportunistic tanoaks beginning to be shaded out. We get about 40″ rain yearly. Steve
[Response:Then it will be extremely high, because (1) there's a redwood component, which has a second growth growth rate like no other, and (2) the trees should be in or approaching maximum absolute growth rate, which will be +/- sustained for some decades.--Jim]
Today’s “Science Friday” is excellent; they’ll have audio files up after a while.
Andy Revkin is one of the guests, and hearing him speaking was refreshing — not the dispassionate and evenhanded ‘voice’ I hear when I read his dot.earth blog in print, but rather a heartfelt intensity on the subjects we need to address.
There is a big difference between AGW making this the particular hurricane that hit and AGW making hurricanes more likely and more damaging. Surely every hurricane that hits now is the particular hurricane that it is due to AGW but that is not saying anything negative about AGW.
And keep listening to Science Friday for this quote:
“The world doesn’t revolve around your science — it’s about money!”
An appropriate description of Scafetta’s work is climate astrology.
On March 26, 2009 The White House and a whole bunch of environmental group leaders decided to stop talking about climate change and push the agenda by talking instead about national security, green jobs, clean energy economic growth, clean energy future, diversification of energy, health, future generations…
“You would expect negative feedbacks to creep in at some point,” says Hay. “But in climate change, every feedback seems to go positive.” The reason is that Earth’s climate seems to have certain stable states. Between those states things are unstable and can change quickly. “Under human prodding, the system wants to go into a new climate state.”
Thanks for the detail. When I lived on Vancouver Island, where there are no termites, I thinned my forest and sold the logs to a log home builder, which is a grand sequestration strategy. I had the remains buried in berms, so they’d be underground but kept fairly dry. I got the dirt by digging ponds, thus capturing runoff. (VI drizzles all winter but the summers are quite dry, so water conservation is critical) I don’t know whether the berms were amazingly smart or unfortunately dumb – perhaps CH4 will leak out and cancel my sequestration.
Superman1, limiting this to the USA,
I studied WW2 in great detail in my youth. You mentioned that we should emulate Leningrad. You do understand that people lived off rats who fed on people, right? (Some folks skipped the middle-man) I share your fears and I agree that emulating Leningrad is one path, but you’d have to resurrect Hitler to achieve your plan. So, you’re arm-waving.
I prefer the approach Steve Fish is taking. Live well and lightly. I gave a market-based FREE method to get us a large way to the initial goal of a 50-75% reduction in energy use. Add in that renewables exist (32% of electricity and increasing), and, of course, other “stuff”, and human emissions rapidly become a thing of the past. No muss, few arguments, and we all live better. Why do you think that dropping energy use by 50-75% is BAU/arm-waving?
A “transition to renewables” is mostly unnecessary. We already have ~all the renewables we need for electricity production. All we have to do is increase efficiency in step with fossil power plant retirements. As Steve said, insulation is a very low-hanging fruit. We do need cellulosic ethanol or Lithium-air batteries for transportation (Trying to fuel tractor-trailers, ships, and airplanes with current batteries is futile)
I added in the band-aid of GE to keep us from bleeding out from our past sins. (seems you agree on that)
I don’t think FF entities are evil. I think they consider themselves saviours. Without their tireless efforts to increase production up to, but not over, a bit less than potential demand (to ensure high prices), in their mind, we’d end up like Leningrad. Your comments appear to show you agree with them.
#45 Tom Adams
Regarding the quoted comment: “You would expect negative feedbacks to creep in at some point,” says Hay. “But in climate change, every feedback seems to go positive.”
This is very misleading, because it doesn’t give any sense of the relative strength of the different feedbacks. The fundamental issue is the ratio of the various radiative feedbacks (albedo+water vapor+clouds, etc) to the strength of the Planck radiative restoring response. Same kind of logic for carbon cycle responses.
It is really critical to distinguish a “large response” or a “tipping point” by human or practical standards (such as the loss of Arctic sea ice) to a large response by the standard of the top-of-atmosphere radiation budget. There are all kind of interesting changes going on in the Arctic. You have lots of physical impacts related to permafrost, albedo, ice area covered, etc and those changes project onto ecology, politics, socio-economics, etc. When viewed at the global energetic levels though, it’s all pretty small potatoes.
> insulation is a very low-hanging fruit.
Going forward in new construction, yes. Same for putting on a cool white roof.
In older buildings – changing where the cool surfaces are changes how moisture has to be managed. How that’s done depends.
Jim Larsen #46,
[Edit; enough of this bickering and repetition. Discuss science or nothing.]
Chris Colose @ 22. Chris underplays his discussion. It’s a really nice summary of the complexities of trying to determine the various potential linkages between warmer seas, loss of sea ice, etc and superstorms. This highlights the great science to be done as we try and decipher our new climate.
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