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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. 151
    Hank Roberts says:

    Cautionary for those using Excel for statistics, from the comments here:
    “… Just last week an email went around Statalist talking about the dangers of using Excel for statistical work …”

  2. 152
    prokaryotes says:

    Sudden Stratospheric Warming: Causes & Effects

    Like many atmospheric phenomenons such as hurricanes and tornadoes, SSW events exist on a continuum of size, intensity and effect, even though from the largest to the smallest, they all share a basic set of features, namely:

    1) They primarily take place during the Northern Hemisphere winter. Small and infrequent SSW’s do occur over the south pole, but, as you’ll see, there are precise reasons why they are mainly a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon, displaying yet one more reason why the planet is biased toward the advection of energy toward the North Pole versus the South Pole (but more on this later).
    2) They cause a rapid rise in stratospheric temperatures over extreme northern latitudes.
    3) They cause a rapid rise in stratosphere pressure over the extreme northern latitudes.
    4) They cause some level of wind pattern disturbance over the pole, with the larger ones displacing, disrupting, or outright destroying the polar vortex.

  3. 153
    Killian says:

    John D. Liu: Changing local weather and climate on a large scale, i.e., size of Denmark.

  4. 154
    islandraider says:

    Question: I have been struggling to understand regarding ocean warming and El Nino/La Nina events. If ~90% of the “missing” heat over the last 15-years or so is going into the ocean (helping to explain the somewhat flat global air temperature curve), how is it that we keep having so many La Nina (cooler ocean) years, recently? This has puzzled me lately.

    I get that this heat energy is manifesting as more frequent/more intense storms, but I keep expecting a wicked strong El Nino year to happen with significant air temperature increases that help some folks to understand our trajectory in a more meaningful way. Any thoughts are appreciated.

    [Response: The occurrence of big La Nina events is exactly the point. Is the exposure of COLD water at the surface to the atmosphere, providing a very nice opportunity for extra heat to go into the ocean. This is very nicely seen in Balmaseda et a., 2013: Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content–eric]

  5. 155
    David B. Benson says:

    Rethinking Early Atmospheric Oxygen: Possibility of More Dynamic Biological Oxygen Cycle On Early Earth Than Previously Supposed
    Sometimes research removes older interpretations. That’s what happened here and the age of the great oxidation event could be quite a bit older than textbooks claim.

  6. 156
    Hank Roberts says:

    > great oxidation event …

    (about sulfur isotopes in the paleo record persisting through several cycles of erosion-uplift-erosion, so being poorer than had been thought for dating oxygen in the atmosphere, as I read it

    Does this suggest any change in what we think we know about the anoxic events Peter Ward has been writing about?

  7. 157
    prokaryotes says:

    Kamel: It’s time for a carbon tax

    Recently, I have been thinking about the state of our country and how to make it more secure. We are not on a path for sustainable growth in our economic, fiscal or environmental sectors. As The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman argued in his most recent column, we need to invest in the future of the United States through infrastructure improvement, education and national security measures. Yet the federal government remains handcuffed to achieve these efforts due to the state of the economy and the national deficit.
    In honor of Earth Week, I am suggesting a “green” solution to our nation’s current financial problems. Ladies and gentleman, it’s time for a carbon tax. This flat rate would tax all carbon emissions from industries ranging from oil to manufacturing. I am not the first person to proclaim a carbon tax as a solution to current environmental and fiscal problems, but it’s an idea worth talking about.

    Captcha = Dollars Moneedo

  8. 158
    Susan Anderson says:

    I’m not convinced commenting is a useful activity (speaking as one who does it a lot) on sites that are heavily populated with deniers. They are so tricky, and have so many different ways of attacking the person rather than the information that it can backfire. But if you do, be careful not to provide any personal surface for the arrows to stick. It’s not just sock puppets, and it is indeed to despair at the many who are unwilling to recognize real expertise and ignore the sciencey looking stuff that is without substance.

    Our schools seem to have failed to train people to think and evaluate for themselves. I lack maths, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to follow someone just because they look clever. Admitting ignorance is a good place to start but people have been so well trained in faking they don’t even know they’re doing it. Critical thinking should include the ability to evaluate relative levels of expertise without knowing the whole thing yourself.

  9. 159
    Chris Dudley says:

    Yammer, yammer, carbon tax, yammer, yammer, cap and trade, yammer, yammer, fee and dividend, yammer, yammer, climate bill, yammer, yammer…..

    Sigh…. Checks newspaper:

    Isn’t their real climate action that is at risk of delay without all these other worries?

  10. 160
    Ray Ladbury says:

    As one who suffers from SIWOTI (Someone Is Wrong On The Internet) syndrome, I often find myself commenting on sites where stupid is measured by the metric shite tonne. I do so not for the benefit of the stupid–hell, these are the same frat boys who were too stupid to understand the “No” means no back in college–but rather for the lurkers and the uncertain. I post a concise refutation of the BS, perhaps a bit of ridicule of the ridiculous and a link to Realclimate, Tamino’s Open Mind or Skeptical Science, wherever there is an effective refutation. Then it’s up to them. Of course, this will be attacked by ad hominem–it’s all the denialists have. However, all I know to do is direct the potentially curious soul to where actual facts and logic await them. If they can’t tell these from BS and logical fallacy, I have to seriously question whether we want them on our side in any case.

  11. 161
    Susan Anderson says:

    Thanks Ray, I agree, it’s for the lurkers. And with my limitations, I try to point past myself. But … the point I have been hammering away at is a kind of reverse epistemology (Tobis and PW got me going on this).

    It is OK to not know. It is not OK to pretend one knows what one does not. We all rely on expertise. It is possible for someone who does not know to tell the difference between expertise and hot air, especially with a little “research”. The hot air fades.

    Speaking of same, this happened yesterday (believe me, you are better off not checking the webcast, but it’s there). I hear they didn’t even get Dr. Chameides’ credentials right in their eagerness to bury real climate science.

    Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)
    Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-Utah)

    Witnesses (all “Truth in Testimony”)
    Dr. Judith Curry, Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Dr. William Chameides, Dean and Professor, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
    Dr. Bjørn Lomborg, President, Copenhagen Consensus Center

    oh no, must mention captcha again: ngjuddi cakes (how did they know)

    [Response: Folks might want to check out this Huffington Post Live Earth Day panel discussion I participated in earlier this week along w/ Lomborg. He regurgitated the same flawed inactionist talking points there. I was having none of it. -mike]

  12. 162
    Jim Larsen says:

    161 Dr Mann,

    You mentioned fracked gas as a bridge fuel to be used for 10-20 years. Frankly, I don’t see how that is physically possible. What use for gas can you come up with which doesn’t essentially require said use for 40-80 years? Are you advocating building tremendously expensive pipelines and power plants and then tossing them in the dumpster almost as soon as they’re built? I can’t imagine that scenario being anything but a carbon bomb and a money pit to boot.

  13. 163
  14. 164
    MARodger says:

    Jim Larsen @162.
    I heard the same ‘mention’ but also noted the comments at the end of the discussion where Dr Mann makes clear that just replacing one fossil fuel with another is no solution and that timely adoption of renewables is essential.

    One thought from the discussion was the lack of mention of the most cost-effective way to cut emissions which is efficiency savings.
    Another was the 450ppm comment that didn’t make much of a splash. I think such comment needs prepared “add-ons” to make a bigger splash. Would it be better if it was “…450ppm which we will exceed in 24 years at present emission rates. Emissions won’t be stopped overnight, not now, not in 24 years time. So we desperately need emission cuts today not tomorrow.”

  15. 165
    Hank Roberts says:

    > If they can’t tell these from BS and logical fallacy,
    > I have to seriously question whether we want them
    > on our side in any case.

    “… that is not enough — we need a majority.”
    — Adlai Stevenson

    “So? Where is everybody?”
    — Enrico Fermi

  16. 166
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Soooo…. this crops up again:

    What is the general scientific consensus on this? I keep reading articles like this one and it makes me wonder…are we cooling down? Where do you go to for proof that all the heat is going into the deep ocean instead of the atmosphere? Is this something we KNOW is happening or just suspect is happening? Do scientists believe this is a temporary situation or will we have a severe El Nino event as happened in 1998 …or are there other possibilities?

    We went from severe drought in the upper Mississippi River region to severe flooding in the space of a few months. We’ve always had droughts and floods but would this situation be considered due in part to Climate Change? We keep seeing weird weather events on a consistent basis and I assume it is due in part to Climate Change but I don’t know.

    Again, I’m not a scientist, just a “Joe Average” citizen but because I say a lot about Climate Change I also get a lot of flack from friends and even family so I’m looking for a way to respond to the Yahoo’s in my neighborhood. Thanks

    [Response: I think the Skeptical Science post that is linked (here) within that article explains it quite well, and links to published work providing the evidence you ask about regarding the ocean. As for “wierd weather”, in general, no, that isn’t “due to global warming”. Average warming of the planet over the last century increases the probability of extremes but occasional weird weather sometimes just happens to happen. And remember that one’s own personal experience with climate is a very local and relatively short experience — it really can’t be used as any sort of guide (unless you live in the Arctic, in which case the melting sea ice is pretty hard to miss). –eric]

  17. 167
    Jim Larsen says:

    166 Chuck H,

    It’s a tough row to hoe, but one possibility is to invoke High School. Everyone remembers the Science Nerds. They were pimply and awkward and didn’t even know how to lie (which is probably the very best social tool).

    So ask your doubters to rationalize these truth-telling dorks who cared little or nothing about IMPORTANT things like money and whatnot and would tell the truth even if it meant no-date-to-the-prom, with their supposed future as money-grubbing liars.

    It’s simple. Nerds are nerds.

  18. 168
    prokaryotes says:

    Working on a digital magazine and looking for content. If somebody likes to contribute an article, thoughts, feedback, etc contact Distribution on and possibly in app stores later.

    Alpha draft:

  19. 169
    John Mashey says:

    See Used plant: A global history, by Ellis, Kaplan, Fuller, Vavrus, Goldewijk and Verburg.

    They gather and model a wide variety of research results scattered among many journals and argue that humans used land more extensively than people have generally thought.

    “Human use of land has transformed ecosystem pattern and process across most of the terrestrial biosphere, a global change often described as historically recent and potentially catastrophic for both humanity and the biosphere. Interdisciplinary paleoecological, archaeological, and historical studies challenge this view, indicating that land use has been extensive and sustained for millennia in some regions and that recent trends may represent as much a recovery as an acceleration….”

    This is delighgtfully multidisciplinary, with authors from 4 counties and a set of references that I cannot imagine any one person naturally reading, given the journal spread.

    This looks like further evidence for Bill Ruddiman’s Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis, as one of the concerns was that early civilizations weren’t big enough. This says that agriculture was much less intense, so per capita use of land was higher. Put another way, there has not been a truly “natural” climate for a long time.

  20. 170
    Hank Roberts says:

    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217241110
    PNAS April 29, 2013
    Used planet: A global history

    “… land use has been extensive and sustained for millennia in some regions and that recent trends may represent as much a recovery as an acceleration….”

    I’m hoping for a comparable fisheries article about the “Used ocean ….”

  21. 171
    Edward Greisch says:

    51 sidd: What is the altitude of Quelccaya, Peru?

  22. 172
    sidd says:

    Re: Mr. Greisch asks about the altitude of Thompson(2013) cores:

    “The Summit Dome (5670 masl) core … the North Dome (5600 masl) core … ”