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Unforced Variations: Apr 2013

Filed under: — group @ 31 March 2013

Open thread for April…

172 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Apr 2013”

  1. 1
    Mark A. York says:

    Starting tomorrow, my climate thriller, Heat Wave, is free all week.

    An assassin executes a U.S. presidential candidate.
    To witness and eccentric reporter, Sam Emory, it echoes a killing three years earlier that transformed his life.
    Voters elect a new, environmentalist president, a colleague of the slain candidate.
    But a powerful industrialist stops at nothing, including murder, to control world energy markets.
    And this isn’t his first murder.
    Emory and the president are the next in line.
    In the not-so-distant future, an assassin kills a U.S. presidential candidate seeking to fix a world ravaged by climate change, and Sam Emory uncovers a chain of murders with a megalomaniac industrialist at its core. The newly elected president vows to solve the climate crisis. Can Emory and his friends stop the assassin from striking again?
    HEAT WAVE begins in Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, but the political intrigue and murder spread to Washington, D.C., and into the labyrinth of an Aspen, Colorado energy research facility, where free-marketers manufacture chaos in the electrical grid, and where Emory confronts a terrifying a secret from his past.

  2. 2
    Aaron W says:

    I recently read this article in the Economist. While I have found the writers at the Economist to normally be pretty even handed (as opposed to, say, the WSJ), it seems like this particular author to be relying far too much on a specific kind of climate model to make his or her point. Since I’m not an expert on the topic (I do physical chemistry research on isotope effects relevant to the atmosphere), I wondered if anyone had any critiques of this article that aren’t readily apparent. Thanks!

    [Response: This discussion had the essential points – but I should do the update I promised… – gavin]

  3. 3
    Killian says:

    Thought it a good idea to move this here:

    New Models Predict Drastically Greener Arctic in Coming Decades

    Comment by David B. Benson — 31 Mar 2013 @ 7:52 PM

    New research predicts that rising temperatures will lead to a massive “greening,” or increase in plant cover, in the Arctic. In a paper published on March 31 in Nature Climate Change, scientists reveal new models projecting that wooded areas in the Arctic could increase by as much as 50 percent over the next few decades.

  4. 4
    sidd says:

    Paper by Bintanja et al.

    1)Is this evidence for Arctic Antarctic seesaw ?
    2)Hansen scenario of ice melt cooling ocean is coming true ?


  5. 5
    MikeH says:

    Roger Pielke Jr has a post on Marcott and scientific integrity.

    In the comments he demonstrates that he does not have any.

    There are a few bad eggs, with the Real Climate mafia being among them, who are exploiting climate science for personal and political gain.

  6. 6
    Ed Davies says:

    Simplifying somewhat, my understanding of the last decade or so is that a run of La Niñas have caused the excess heat to go into the deep oceans, rather than staying on the surface. Right? If so, any guesses as to whether this run is just a coincidence or whether there may be some sort of causal effect – high tropical temperatures cause La Niñas or the like? What’s the current estimate of the probability of an El Niño in the next few years? Also, AIUI, the models produce their own ENSO as part of their operation. If that’s right, do they show any bias to one or the other condition as temperatures change?

  7. 7

    1) No, evidence for a curious feedback loop operating around Antarctica
    2) Can you point me to Hansen’s scenario?

  8. 8
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Here’s the latest from Dr. James Hansen about the leveling off of global temperatures and probable causes:

    So what exactly does this portend? I’m having a difficult time figuring out where he’s going with this in terms of consequences for the planet. Help?

  9. 9
    Salamano says:

    In light of the reconstructions by Marcott et al, 2013 and Mann et al, 2008, each taken to best represent their primary time eras of focus– It could be said that the start of the instrumental temperature record came at roughly the coldest part of the entire Holocene (or at least the previous 9,000 years or so).

    [Response: Yes. The evidence from glacier morraines from very widely different areas suggests that the NH LIA advances were the largest since the Younger Dryas, and dates of material found below the glaciers are often thousands of years old. – gavin]

    If the super-majority of the warming that has occurred in the instrument record is anthroprogenic (75%-100%+ considering natural variability), what is the research out there to understand where we would have been if we didn’t experience any industrially-forced warming under the same present assumptions of natural variability and non-anthroprogenic forcing trends/cycles? At first glance, it’s got to be fairly chilly.

    [Response: The long term (orbitally driven) trend is around 0.1/0.2 ºC per 1000 years (depending on latitude, weighting etc.), but that would not be expected to continue indefinitely. The orbital forcing is near to bottoming out. – gavin]

  10. 10

    #9, Chuck–If I’ve got this correctly, he’s saying that in the short term we may catch a break due to (probably) negative aerosol forcings and greater than expected biosphere carbon sinking, but the long-term outcome is likely unchanged, since a) it’s unlikely that ever-increasing aerosol levels will be tolerated and b) it’s unlikely that the biosphere will continue to be an ever-more effective sink as temperatures continue to rise.

    It’s worth mentioning, perhaps, that air pollution in China has indeed become a political and social issue–amusing, in a sardonic way, is the emergence of ‘clean air tourism’ there:

    (Ironically typical of 20th-21st century life is the wrinkle that the increased auto exhaust then creates an additional air pollution problem.)

    And further, the short-term ‘break’ may be actually counterproductive in that it reduces motivation to take effective action on emissions mitigation.

  11. 11
    Salamano says:

    Re 9: (Thank You)

    I’m assuming the long term trend being 0.1/0.2°C is more general for the instrumental time period (ie., can also be used for the present decade in addition to a similar decade in the late 1800s)?

    [Response: I don’t think this cooling trend is of much relevance on decadal timescales. It is an effect around 0.02ºC per decade, but that is much smaller than internal variability, let alone the effects from volcanoes or solar. – gavin]

    One of the things I’m wondering about is that the record, shown here…

    Has that abrupt turn-around after the LIA. If the instrumental warming is largely anthroprogenic, and indeed it is, and if Marcott et al precludes relatively rapid fluxes in temperature of a non-anthroprogenic mechanism, then wouldn’t the turn-around have necessarily have taken longer or bottomed out deeper in keeping with the slow curve of change?

    [Response: I think it’s more useful to think of LIA like variations as happening on a baseline of long-term cooling, thus the LIA was anomalously cold compared to the temperatures expected based on orbital forcing, and the natural recovery of the LIA in the 1800’s (as solar and volcanic went back to warmer levels) has been greatly enhanced by the subsequent anthropogenic forcing. ]

    I realize this is immaterial now, but given the opportunity for feedbacks to spiral, I wonder if at least the early AGW gave us a slight reprieve from what we could have otherwise been treated to before finally coming up on this 0.1/0.2 trend? Perhaps a take-away is that “at least we know one way of avoiding another Little Ice Age” (other consequences notwithstanding)…

    [Response: Perhaps. But we could come up with much more effective ways to prevent further orbitally-driven cooling if that was a threat. – gavin]

  12. 12
    None says:

    Can alkenones really make good medium to long term temperature proxies ?

    If we assume that the current ratio of di/tri molecular production indicates optimal healthy growth for average current temperatures, is it not likely that after a few decades of marginally higher temperatures the species would have adapted such that the same “optimal growth signature” would then be associated with the new average ? This would have the unfortunate effect of severely dampening any reconstructed medium to long term temperature changes.

    [Response: Interesting idea, but if it was correct you wouldn’t see the ice age cycles in alkenones at all. There are potential other issues- seasonal bias in fluxes for instance – but the anomalous alkenone records tend to have a bigger signal than you might expect. This really speaks to the need for multiple proxy types in any assessment such as this. – gavin]

  13. 13
    sidd says:

    Geert Jan van Oldenborgh wrote on the 1st of April 2013 at 5:27 AM:

    “1) No, evidence for a curious feedback loop operating around Antarctica”

    I was thinking in terms of Antarctic ice melt possibly being triggered by Greenland melt

    “2) Can you point me to Hansen’s scenario?”


    “Our simulations (Hansen and Sato, 2012) suggest that a strong negative feedback
    kicks in when sea level rise reaches meter-scale, as the ice-melt has a large cooling and freshening effect on the regional ocean.”

    The Hansen and Sato (2012) reference seems to be

    which in turn refers to a book in 2009.


  14. 14
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Killian —

    I thought that your several statements advocating an “aboriginal lifestyle” for sustainability were “grade school rhetoric” and “demeaning to you and boring” when you first brought it up. It is a dumb idea.


  15. 15
    Dan says:

    re: 8 & 10.
    It is very important to remember there is significant natural noise in short-term trends, in this case around 10 years. Specifically, there have been strong La Nina and El Nino years which have created short-term effects. For example, we know 1998 (the “cherry-pick” year the anti-science deniers always use to claim warming has slowed/stopped) was influenced by a record El Nino which added to the global temperature. There have since been several La Nina years which would serve to cool global temperatures yet in spite of the cooling effect, temperatures have continued to warm overall but just at a slower rate. Again, the signal-to-noise ratio in short-term trend analysis must be considered. Which is a primary reason why 30 years is the minimum period for climate trend analysis.

  16. 16
    MARodger says:

    Aaron W @2
    There was a post on that Economist ‘climate sensitivity’ article at SkepticalScience. As well as the article, the Economist magazine also ran an editorial leader which is far more reasonable in its coverage (ie no “15 years of flat temperature” or ambiguous final word). And if you want sight of the actual author, there is a 6 minute video on the subject of this article featuring him – John Parker – and another Economist journo. Parker is listed on The Economist website as energy & enviornment editor (althought on the video as globalisation editor). Energy & environment is a post he cannot be too long in as his predecessor (James Astill) was only appointed in 2011. (A second climate-themed video features John Parker this time putting the questions to a brace of fellow Economist journos in December 2012 in the aftermath of Doha.)
    The take-away from the (first) video is more definite than the article. It rougly says that even if ECS does now look a bit lower than before, ther is no change as we weren’t addressing the problem adequately before and because 2xCO2 will be exceeded under BAU, a lower ECS won’t save the world serious pain (so that’s a big thumbs down for unmitigated adaption policies, then).

  17. 17
    Jim Callahan says:

    The New York Times and are reporting the retirement of Dr. James Hansen from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Sciences.

  18. 18
    Jim Callahan says:

    The New York Times and are reporting that Dr. James Hansen is retiring from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Sciences.

  19. 19
    Russell says:

    And all this time we thought Eli Rabbett drove a Prius !

  20. 20
    Kirstie says:

    So, Gavin? Stepping up? If not, then who’ll be at the helm?

  21. 21
    Jim Larsen says:

    8 Chuck H, Hansen is just noting that not only does fossil fuel use provide a few-day drop in temps which we eventually MUST release, but also that fossil fuel use releases stuff like nitrogen, which increases the take-up of CO2. (My guess is that Dead Zones are great carbon sequesterers – grow algae, choke everything, and let it sink – carbon burial is aided by Mass Death) So, it turns out that natural systems reduce the heating caused by fossil fuel use via aerosols and also the absolute concentration of CO2 compared to what it would have been via nitrogen and other stuff, but, unfortunately, it’s all just a Ponzi scheme. Eventually you’ve got to stop spewing aerosols and fertilizer. At that point, the extra shading from aerosols WILL disappear and the extra growth and death from fertilizer WILL end. Both ends are essentially immediate, while CO2 emission effects are essentially permanent. So, in any particular decade, it’s harmful to stop emissions, but stopping emissions is critical to long-term survival. We’re like a heroin addict. Cold Turkey is gonna hurt – AND MIGHT BE A BAD IDEA EVEN IF THERE WERE NO ECONOMIC COSTS, but our veins are running out….

    9 “The long term (orbitally driven) trend is around 0.1/0.2 ºC per 1000 years (depending on latitude, weighting etc.), but that would not be expected to continue indefinitely. The orbital forcing is near to bottoming out. – gavin]”

    that confuses me. I thought the orbital forcing was NEGATIVE, and is going to go further and further negative for thousands of years. I thought we hit the Holocene Maximum thousands of years ago. Clarification?

  22. 22
    Killian says:

    Steve Fish said Re- Comment by Killian …I thought that your several statements advocating an “aboriginal lifestyle”

    To be clear, I never advocated an aboriginal lifestyle. What I did do is suggest such lifestyles as the only true examples of sustainable societies and thus examples to learn from. That you see that as advocacy of literally living in the stone age is an issue with you, not with what I have written.

    Given I have also repeatedly described a possible future as being a sort of Hobbiton with a hi-tech backbone (or, similar in form to some ecovillages, perhaps), your comments are nonsense.

    These are serious times for serious people. Suggest you consider that with a mirror to hand.

  23. 23
    patrick says:

    These articles at under “NSIDC in the News: 2013” (26& 27 March) are of interest to me because I started to follow the meanderings of the jetstream (300 mb) when I found that the 6-hour time lapse satellite animations showed it coming almost straight south over my midlands locale, with volatile conditions re wind and temp, in spite of the continuing trend of precession of the arrival of spring.,0,7534098.story

    I used the crws analyses here:

  24. 24
    patrick says:

    Dr. James Hansen, thank you for your service–which is still young, considering the human futures which you choose to represent, and of which you are acutely aware.

  25. 25
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    The aboriginal lifestyle or a hybrid modern form of the aboriginal lifestyle should be our long term goal. Wouldn’t it be great to give the dinosaurs a run for their money regards longevity on planet earth. Considering our intellect and problem solving capacity is vastly superior to those glorified lizards we should be able to… you would think??? To be considered a successful species we only have another 50-75 million years to prosper on this planet. Here’s where I agree with Killian…the only way to achieve this is to be complementary..synergistic to our ecosystem and not parasitic and pathogenic like we are at present. We need to place personal happiness on environmental wellbeing. You all realise this ideology is fundamentally correct don’t you! So lets’ aim our future direction towards that picture.
    In the meantime we are in the shit! The only way we have a hope of getting out of this shit is by quick and expensive technological fixes NOW!!! We simply do not have the time to pussyfoot with passive means. We have to apply the dead-man brakes immediately. This cannot rest or be achieved though due democratic process..again we do not have the time to negotiate and compromise and dilly dally. Governments world wide need to reorganise their federal budgets to fast track emission minimising technologies to their dirtiest factories.
    Back to the above dilemma…democracy. Whether I agree with it or not handling this difficult task I figure we are stuck with it. Therefor the scientific establishment must unite like never before and apply REAL pressure to the energy/environment/treasury ministries and state clearly in one coherent voice the current state of climate change and our almost extinguished window of opportunity to rectify thus.
    People have got to understand that when Joe Bloggs on the street put’s his concern or even fear over the current state of the weather above drinking with his mates at the local bar it will be too late for 90% of life on planet earth within a finger snap in geological time. As this will be the first time in the phanerozoic eon that a single species has caused a catastrophic mass extinction.

  26. 26
    SecularAnimist says:

    Lawrence Coleman wrote: “The only way we have a hope of getting out of this shit is by quick and expensive technological fixes NOW!!!”

    If by “this shit” you mean global warming caused by CO2 emissions, the good news is that the necessary “technological fixes” are already in hand, and they are in fact already being implemented “quickly” (although not yet quickly enough), and they are not particularly expensive.

  27. 27
    Jim Larsen says:

    22 Killian,

    Good post. I suggest that the “real” issue is that you demanded prior proof and held up aboriginal lifestyles as the only ones that met that demand. In reality, we’re on a path that BY DEFINITION is not sustainable if we don’t complete the path. If you’d incorporate that Truth in your message, then you’d snag a ton more fish.

  28. 28
    Jim Larsen says:

    25 lawrence C,

    You’re confusing Nature with Modern Lifestyle Comfort. According to Nature, we could slaughter half of humanity and it would be a mere hiccup. According to MLC, that would be a “Disaster of unimaginable magnitude”.

    There is NO danger of our becoming less than totally dominant. Every other species larger than a mouse will go extinct before we do. Odds are that we’ll only die off due to the demise of the Universe, with a small probability tick at the destruction of the Earth.

    Climate change and Ecology are ruled by the First Law: Humans Die Last. Disagree? Name any time or place where anything of any size lived while humans became locally extinct. And I’m being argumentally charitive. The First law becomes stronger and stronger as humans advance. Can you imagine a future where humans DON’T eat everything to delay their own extinction?

    If we die, the Earth will be populated by either nothing at all, or single-cell slime.

  29. 29
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @ Lawrence Coleman who said, “In the meantime we are in the shit! The only way we have a hope of getting out of this shit is by quick and expensive technological fixes NOW!!! We simply do not have the time to pussyfoot with passive means. We have to apply the dead-man brakes immediately. This cannot rest or be achieved though due democratic process..again we do not have the time to negotiate and compromise and dilly dally. Governments world wide need to reorganise their federal budgets to fast track emission minimising technologies to their dirtiest factories.”

    Not being a scientist I’m sure I’m butting in here but I would like to reiterate what Lawrence said on post #25.

    I think we need a unified, relatively simple, coherent SHOUT from the scientific community, apart from the IPCC reports that make it crystal clear to ALL MEDIA OUTLETS exactly what we’re facing and how soon. It needs to be repeated loudly and often with highly descriptive illustrations as to what’s to come for humans and the planet and all of its species. Surely some of you have access to the media and influence you could be using to get this done.

    I do not have a clear grasp of the situation simply because I’m not a scientist but I DO represent the vast majority of the population who, like myself, don’t fully and clearly understand what my daughter and her generation are facing. The scientific community here at needs to come together on this and start sounding the alarm. We’re dithering and wasting valuable time IF what I’m reading and what many of you are saying is indeed true. Will humans make it to the end of this century the way things are headed now??? What are the odds of success as it stands today given that nothing seems to be happening. We just had a tar sands spill here in Arkansas that’s making national news. Most folks didn’t even know there was a tar sands pipeline in the state! Let alone in their own backyard. Our Republican controlled State legislature is dominated by people who still think the Earth is flat. We have gas wells everywhere and earthquakes on a weekly basis. It’s “drill baby drill” and BAU from here on out unless you guys start sounding the alarm. Thanks for allowing me to butt in. I completely understand that everyone here is working their asses off to make things better but the problem I see is a real lack of communication between the scientific community and the country at large. I believe it all goes back to opening up the lines of communication and educating the public. There’s a teacher in Idaho right now who is in trouble for saying the word Vagina and showing “An Inconvenient Truth” in SCIENCE CLASS!!! That’s the level of ignorance you’re dealing with here. Again, I apologize for butting in and I do appreciate everything you guys are doing. It’s a tough fight.


  30. 30
    None says:

    Gavin thanks for the response (I had so much trouble with the captcha I thought it had not been posted, was just about to post the thought elsewhere).

    You said: “Interesting idea, but if it was correct you wouldn’t see the ice age cycles in alkenones at all.”

    I don’t have access to the paper, but the abstract here:

    seems to suggest (“…and correlated with glacial-interglacial cycles provide an organic geochemical measure of past sea-surface water temperatures”) that the empirical temperature response is at least partially achieved through correlation with the glacial-interglacial cycles in the first place. Am I reading that incorrectly ? The sentence is somewhat clumsy, it’s difficult for me to figure out (without access to the contents) whether they are saying “does correlate with” (an end result), or “is correlated against” (used during correlation procedure).

    [Response: That paper relies on the spatial distribution of the alkenone ratios and the current temperatures to develop the calibration, and then evaluates it using the glacial-to-interglacial change. Other calibrations have used a wider distribution of sites, or in situ calibration from laboratory experiments. People do not use the change over time as a calibration – that would somewhat defeat the point. – gavin]

  31. 31
    Michael Sweet says:

    Jim Larson,
    Many small islands in the South Pacific used to be inhabited by Polynesians and were abandoned before Europeans came to visit. See this reference: This is an example of a location where humans became extinct and animals bigger than a mouse remain. See Kangaroo island in Australia for a bigger example. If the food supply gets too small the biggest animals (humans) become extinct before the smaller ones. It is certainly possible that humans could wipe themselves out if we are too stupid about the environment.

  32. 32
    David B. Benson says:

    Rising Temperature Difference Between Hemispheres Could Dramatically Shift Rainfall Patterns in Tropics
    Rain more northerly.

  33. 33
    wili says:

    LC said: “The only way we have a hope of getting out of this shit is by quick and expensive technological fixes NOW!!!”

    Far faster and cheaper is demand reduction/destruction. The ‘economy’ is a human construct. We can plan a relatively humane episode of global ‘degrowth.’

  34. 34
    Ken Fabian says:

    Is average surface air temperature really the best and most appropriate defining measure of climate change? It seems to me that in the absence of continuous direct measurement of energy in and energy out at top of atmosphere that something like Nuticelli et al’s ocean, earth, atmosphere and ice heat content more truly represents the actual extent of change to our planet’s heat balance.

    Has the historical accident of looking for signs of change in the available daily maximum and minimum temperatures collected by weather watching orgs really given the best defining measure of ongoing change?

    Rather than the 2degrees or 6 we talk about would we be better talking about how much heat the world has and can be expected to gain? It seems to me that changes to average surface air temperatures is a secondary consequence of that gain in heat – which also shows much less internal variability; no claiming it has stopped for a decade and a half because hardly a year has passed when it failed to rise from ongoing warming.

  35. 35
    Jim Larsen says:

    31 MichaelS,

    Good point, with two caveats. First, abandonment is different from local extinction in the way I was using the words (Humans die last). Second, your link notes the extinction of small birds, presumably caused by the Polynesians before they left, so the abstract is consistent with my comment. They killed off much of the wildlife bigger than a mouse, and then left. If there had been no escape, perhaps they’d have finished the job. (Or maybe they did. Are current birds re-populators or survivors?)

    I retract my comment’s absoluteness and ratchet down its magnitude, but stand by its flavor. If climate change starts killing off lots of people who, unlike the Polynesians, will have no escape, everything that’s edible had better watch out.

  36. 36
    Simon C says:

    re # 31 & 35 The spread of modern humans out of Africa and around the world can indeed be tracked by the extinctions of megafauna in our wake. Humans have had a vast footprint in the blood of other species driven to extinction directly or indirectly, even before we engineered our colossal carbon footprint, enscribed so clearly in the ice record. Maybe “footprint” is too nice a word. It’s not a footprint, it’s a trail of destruction, a smoking, ruined legacy of short-sighted irrevocable destruction. On the other hand, we are apparently the only species capable of understanding and doing something about our own behaviour.

    Related to this, as regards Lawrence Coleman #25 and some related posts “Quick and expensive technological fixes” seems like a good way to risk making a bad situation even worse. An attempt at geoengineering needs to be very carefully considered if indeed it is to be attempted at all. The late great Nick Shackleton stated publicly that he was opposed to any such move in principle. While the situation is very serious, it would hardly be helped by a reflex response that risked further careless egotistical damage to an already stressed climate and ecosystem. Cut fossil CO2 emissions – that at least is something we can all agree on. Or would be, if it wasn’t for a small group of …

  37. 37
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    30: None. Why don’t you just get a new re-captcha challenge by clicking the circlular arrows on the top. Don’t bother with the audio one, it’s impossible to understand.

  38. 38
    Michael Sweet says:

    Wikipedias entry here on Kangaroo island is a better example of human extinction where animals remain. These humans went extinct. Kangaroos must remain or it would not have that name. It is too far to the mainland for the humans to have moved. It is possible for humans to be eliminated without the Venus effect killing everything. Everything edible has to watch out already in most locations. Hopefully we will not go so far down that road.

  39. 39
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    36: Simon C Nobody said tech fixes were without risk. Such as seeding the atmosphere with sulphur dioxide etc. The rarefication of the atmosphere vs the relative density and depth of the oceans should minimise further acidification apart from run off from waterways and the increasing carbonic acid build up from CO2. Correct me if I’m wrong!.
    Then I had a thought… would a sudden drastic cut in CO2 over the coming 20-50 years considering it’s been building up since the industrial revolution in the 1800’s cause other unknown feedbacks. Just as anthropogenic CO2 is now amplifying many + feedback systems as 275-400ppm CO2 in a few hundred years is a sudden massive shock to the planets control systems, would a complete cessation of anthro CO2 now be just as big a shock to a system struggling to cope. Could the time frame of a sudden drop simply heterodyne onto the existing one and actually amplify the situation out of hand or would it gradually and smoothly begin to stabilise and lower CO2??
    29: Chuck Hughes, you and I have the exact same concerns. I have a 7y/o son who keeps me focussed on my environmental priorities. Is your head as sore as mine by beating it against the brick wall of apathy, disinterest and denial.

  40. 40
    Lauri says:

    Satellite temperature measurement breaking down?

    The UAH satellite measurement shows a more than 4 degrees C cooling of the earth over the last few days. Is the earth becoming a snowball or just the satellite breaking down? With the previous failures, are we going to have working satellites any more?


    [Response: this AMSU instrument has ‘gone off message’ so to speak, but there are two other instruments in different satellites that measure the same thing. Maintenance of long term remote sensing is however going to be a bigger problem going forward. -gavin]

  41. 41
    David B. Benson says:

    Ancient Pool of Warm Water Questions Current Climate Models
    Distinctly puzzling.

  42. 42
    Killian says:

    A huge pool of warm water that stretched out from Indonesia over to Africa and South America four million years ago suggests climate models might be too conservative in forecasting tropical changes.

    Danged exciting!, in a sad sort of way. For those of us who have perceived patterns indicating very rapid changes (at least more rapid than virtually all others perceive thus far) this sort of finding supports the central thesis: We’ve changed the world in ways it ain’t never been changed and the old rules generally just don’t apply.

    People of all types need to take that to the bank. Whatever your worst case scenario, if it isn’t outright catastrophe, you need to use some sort of multiplier, at minimum, because, again, very simply, the planet has quite literally never been here before.

    Risk assessment for catastrophic scenarios *is* based in the worst case scenario, but humanity continues to bargain with the devil in this regard.

    Oh, so much that could be said…

    Anything that increases or maintains significant risk has to go. Only solutions that have a high probability of making things better AND not making them worse, or not much worse, should be in play. Thus, any techno geo-engineering is out. Simple, human-scale changes are in.

    The Arctic Sea Ice going bye-bye is going to make it a close shave no matter what we do, but I believe, deep within me, we *can* do this. (And this from a guy who is absolutely certain the margin is very thin and the cost of failure, if not extinction, may as well be.)

    Let’s do this thing.

  43. 43
    wili says:

    “The Arctic Sea Ice going bye-bye…”

    What are the short-term consequences of a newly mostly-open late-summer/early-fall Arctic Ocean?

    Did we already see some of them over the last year? : Stalled fronts that caused drying in the US West and Mid-West and near-constant rain in the UK; Increased snow fall and colder and longer (than the average over the last decades or so) winter in the North Hemisphere continental interiors…

    Should we expect an even more intense version of these in the coming year if, as most seem to expect, we will have an even-more-ice-free Arctic Ocean this summer and fall?

    Or will the over-all warming overwhelm the latter and we in the middle of the continent see more of the winter-less winters we have grown accosted to in the last ten years or so?

    The important-looking article linked by DBB at #40 is a bit confusingly (to me) worded in parts. If anyone has access to the full scholarly article it is based on, perhaps they could post significant bits or summarize it more fully for us?

  44. 44
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @Lawrence Coleman #39

    I plead ignorance here because to anyone reading my posts I think it’s pretty obvious. I have a basic fundamental understanding of the Physics underlying Climate Change and I read credible sources such as – Joe Romm etc. I figure these guys know what they’re talking about and I continue to hear dire predictions for the coming decades. I closely follow Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Peter Ward and others as well as Stephen Hawking. Most of these people are saying that this century will be a real test for humans. I can’t visualize 9 billion people existing on this planet. The resources just aren’t there. That’s adding another China to the global population. We have finite resources and a limited capacity for food production as it is. Can we really sustain 9 billion people or 10 billion under a BAU scenario? I don’t see it. The math just isn’t there.

    I keep hoping somebody like Gavin will chime in and tell me I’m full of shit and give me a few reasons to believe we’re actually going to turn things around and explain how this is to be done. Peter Ward said in an interview that scientists who write books are looked down on by other scientists and passed over for promotions simply for communicating to the public. Is this really the way to solve our problems by penalizing those scientists for daring to communicate with the uneducated masses? How else do “we” educate the public if all we get are hacked e-mails taken out of context and exploited by the deniers for political gain?

    Who amongst you are willing to sacrifice your reputation as scientists by opening up direct lines of communication to the morons at FOX News? Don’t you think that an appearance by some of the credible moderators on National Television would help. Somebody with the scientific credentials has to be willing to enter the public sphere and start shouting from the mountain tops about this situation and the consequences we’re facing. A youtube video that nobody can find isn’t going to get the job done. Andrew Sullivan has a blog. Use it. Daily Kos, The Huffingtonpost, Joe Scarborough has a 3 hour show. Surely some of our more influential scientists can make a sacrifice for the greater good and get out there and start educating the public. Counter the bullshit from the deniers with PROOF. We have proof. Talking amongst yourselves is all fine and good but we’re wasting time when it comes to drumming up the political will to change things.

    The scientific community HAS TO BECOME A POLITICAL FORCE or we’re all screwed. I hate politics just as much as the next guy but without the political will to get it done I don’t see much hope for the future. Scientists must take on the political forces that are preventing any sort of meaningful change necessary for humans to survive. This is a political fight, not a scientific debate. You can expect the same sort of tactics we’re seeing from the NRA on gun control because that’s the level of ignorance we’re dealing with here. When science teachers are getting fired for saying the word “Vagina” you know we’re in serious trouble.

  45. 45
    Mal Adapted says:

    Anybody know what’s going on with I just got the following message when I went to their site:

    “This Account Has Been Suspended”

    I’m trying not to theorize in advance of the data!

  46. 46
    Mal Adapted says:

    Re my 4 Apr 2013 at 3:05 PM: never mind, is accessible now.

  47. 47
    flxible says:

    Chuck Hughes – See the book picture half way down the sidebar? It’s a link to the list of books authored by the scientists here, some/most of which have been covered by the press. There is no possibility of communicating with the morons at Faux News, they [and much of the American population] are ineducable, but Gavin and crew do regularly appear in media segments/articles. The “fight” is not political per se, it’s economic, money from the oil barons and the NRA elect politicians who will keep the economy flowing unidirectionally to the top, scientists do science on a shoestring, and currently government debt is throttling that.

  48. 48
    Russell says:

    Back in the alternative solar system of Watts Up With That, Tallbloke is demanding equal time for Velikovsky’s competition.

  49. 49
    Ken Fabian says:

    flxible @47 – the fight is very much political; what it isn’t is scientific. The latter comes up with winners from fighting fair, the former doesn’t.

    Chuck @44 – I agree with a lot of that, although I’m sure a lot of scientists are quietly (and sometimes loudly) doing a lot more than we are seeing.

  50. 50
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    On these points. I listened with interest as Tim Flannery, the head of our fed climate change committee appeared on breakfast tv 3 mornings ago, basically saying we need to adopt zero emissions now. Then the morning show presenter asked him “are these latest disasters in Australia the direct result of CC” and Tim had to say it’s impossible to say whether they are directly related because CC is such a complex issue blah blah which of course is scientifically correct
    BUT PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT POINT!!, so I put myself in the shoes of the uneducated layman and thought..that news article is telling me they are not sure that our massive fires and flooding and prolonged heatwaves over the last 7-8 months is caused BY CC, so I’ll go back to reading the morning paper’s sports where was I again..Ahh here we are! salary cap for the western bulldogs… I thought Oh Christ!’e your chance to wake the public up and you are telling them that you can’t be sure that such and such an event was directly caused by CC. That’s the problem!!!
    He did mention that with all the numerous records broken lately that the climate is on CC induced steroids.
    Tim understands the urgency of the situation all right but he does not have the presentation skills to sell it to the public. He’s in the same mould as Prof. Jim Hansen. I have upmost respect for Jim and I have learnt so much from him but he does present himself as the scientists scientist..maybe a green toupee would help?..haha!