Unforced Variations: July 2013

This month’s open thread…

We have just updated the blog software, and are taking a little time to assess how up-to-date some the content is (including the theme, mobile theme, blogroll, about pages and the RC wiki etc.). So this might be a good time to chime in with your suggestions as well as discussing the latest climate science issues.

350 comments on this post.
  1. Tristen:

    Hi there. I have been using Real Climate for a good many years as a way of surveying some of the latest science on climate change. As an environmental activist, engaged in public and policy discussions, Real Climate has been really useful. Good job. What would be really, really useful is a summary discussion once a year on the status of climate change, the latest science, and how the science fits in with projections; for example, what the latest status on sea level rise is, what are the current best projections, etc. Sooner or later, some politician is going to ask someone like me, okay, how much will sea level rise by? A ‘simple’ ‘straight-forward’ answer at that point helps; yes, I do know that a simple answer may be difficult to give, but policy very rarely reflects that kind of scientific complexity and policy-makers really want a headline message. Another example is permafrost, what impact does/will melting permafrost have? What do we know this year that we didn’t last year? There is often a back and forth on the finer points of climate science that can be confusing for people outside of academia, and a yearly summary from a trusted resource like RC would help a great deal. My 2c.

  2. Hank Roberts:

    Tristen, climatologists do that summary you want, every five years. Do you use that now as a resource?

  3. SecularAnimist:

    Carrying on from June:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “I imagine a nation full of separate little microgrids will be like a nation full of little local militias — each trying to maximize its local situation as it locally sees things. That’s exactly wrong with electricity — all the operators have to quickly contribute to load balancing, within minutes, to keep the whole thing working.”

    It’s only “wrong” if you assume that a large centrally-controlled grid, designed to broadcast power from a small number of giant generators to a large number of dumb consumers, is “right” and that all future grid developments must continue to support that model, or they are “wrong”.

    Whereas I would argue that that grid model is “wrong” for the new, highly distributed renewable energy and storage technologies that are growing so explosively today.

    Intelligent microgrids (which may be as small as a single building with solar panels, batteries and a smart meter, or as large as a small city) are enabled to participate in load balancing on the larger grid within seconds — or to completely disconnect from the larger grid if needed. These capabilities contribute to resiliency, not chaos.

    And remember, as with individual deployments of rooftop PV, what the larger grid mostly “sees” from microgrids is demand reduction — particularly during times of peak demand, when grid power is most costly, and maintaining stability of the grid is most difficult.

    Drastically reduced peak demand makes the work of the grid operators easier, not more difficult, and the challenges of integrating utility-scale solar and wind energy producers do not apply.

    For more on microgrids:


    (By the way, we already have “a nation full of little local militias”. They’re called “police departments”.)

  4. Hank Roberts:

    > intelligent microgrid … load balancing on the larger grid within seconds

    That would be nice. Anyone building this thing?

  5. Dave123:

    I know that no one is obligated to respond, but this might have been buried at the end of the month so I thought I would try again:

    This is question for the satellite and modeling communities both. I understand that we can’t get a energy balance from satellite data alone. But I also understand we do get crude estimates. But for a moment let’s pretend that we don’t have the deep sea data and we’re seeing the relatively flat surface temperature and 0-700 meter ocean temperature as claimed. Are the satellite data good enough to say “wait, you’ve got to be missing something…. the outgoing radiation is too little to account for a gap that big” or is it ” the level of error in the satellite data is big enough that we could have that much more outgoing long wave to account for the temperature trends and not see it”? any takers? Citations to primary literature appreciated.

    [Response: I think the data are more along the lines of the latter. This paper: Hobbs and Willis. 2013 is perhaps getting at reconciling these disparate sources of information.–eric]

  6. Rich Tenney:

    Aspen groves in the Western U.S. are suffering from the impacts of climate change, says BYU Professor Sam St. Clair, lead researcher on a multi-year study of aspen in Utah: http://news.byu.edu/archive13-jun-aspen.aspx

  7. Russell:

    The climate music season is at its height , witness the debut of two new American voices in Peking Opera, S. Fred Singer & Joseph Bast.

  8. Rattus Norvegicus:


    “Counter-factual tenor”, heh…

  9. Edward Greisch:

    3 SecularAnimist: Have you taken the courses in “grid” at your local electrical engineering department? They offer degrees in that. Go take a degree or 3 in that subject.

    5 Dave123: Check with NASA.

  10. patrick:

    @7 It seems to me that you are doing something that dogs do to trees bushes and other things, but you are under the impression that you are thinking.

    The issue under guise of which you were tricking clicks last month was fully covered by Skeptical Science on June 14:


    The Skeptical Science post is comprehensive and nuanced. It provides factual details and good links–including help on essential terminology, as usual. In this particular case it irons out some details on the Russian and Polish Academies of Science.

    Anyone who wants information on the matter can get it from SkS without wasting time.

    Borrowing from Cook et al. the SkS post contextualizes the entire matter under “Level of Endorsement of Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming.”

    The cartoons on SkS aren’t bad, either. The one on “Competing Models of Climate Change” at the Science Fair pretty well covers the site for which you are tricking clicks. (2013 SkS Weekly Digest #24 17 June)

  11. Dave123:

    @Ed @9- I did correspond with one NASA scientist back on the 25th of June. My question was a bit more sophisticated than I asked here. (Note I’m redacting anything that hints at the exact person who I corresponded with)

    Referring to this article: On the Surface Temperature Sensitivity of the Reflected Shortwave, Outgoing Longwave, and Net Incident Radiation. J. Climate, 25, 6585–6593 (2012) I asked:
    <blockquote cite="
    If you could spare a moment, is there any place where one can find interannual tracking of what is called NET in the abstract to this paper? My understanding is that NET measurements are not sufficiently precise to calculate the earth's energy budget in the form shown in this graphic- Energy Budget . Since the ISR has remained relatively unchanged for the last 50 years, what can we say about changes in OLR and RSW? I’ve noted this paper, Kato 2009 on Interannual Variability of the Global Radiation Budget and Susskind et. al. (2012) GSFC.JA.01291.2012 , and my first reading suggests that if anything NET should have increased due to the decrease OLR noted in Susskind. This assumes I’ve read Kato correctly to mean that RSW hasn’t experienced any significant trends over the past two decades, even though I’d expect a decrease in RSW due to loss of Albedo. Of course this is ultimately about Trenberth and heat going into the deep ocean, but I simply haven’t seen or been able to find an interannual NET document that covers the last two decades. It seems to me that if we can rule out decrease in NET (or even show a qualitative increase), this necessarily limits the discussion to where the energy is hiding on earth, and removes the relevance of short term variations in trend of Global Mean Surface Temperatures.”

    Let me add at this point that increases in CO2 since 1990 would lead to the expectation that we should see decreases in outgoing LWR, as suggested in Susskind and I find it a bit surprising that we only have this as evidence (quoted from the reply:

    Susskind (2012) claims that he sees a decrease in the OLR derived from AIRS (in the 1:30PN orbit), which agrees with CERES Terra in the 10:30 AM orbit. CERES uses the Goddard GCM for some corrections to the OLR.

    My hope was that even if the absolute value of NET was not very accurate the trend in NET would provide a boundary for the discussion. I haven’t quoted the full answer I received but in sum it suggested that we don’t have the data and/or no one is looking and/or not published yet and/or can’t be obtained from the satellites.

    I do not aggressive follow up, the fellow doesn’t know me from Adam, and followups for clarification could be perceived as harassment. i don’t want to wear out my welcome. Answering my questions isn’t in their work objectives, and I regard getting anything back as a great favor.

  12. Hank Roberts:

    Dave123, that’s an old familiar question. All the satellites in use are in low earth orbit, ‘seeing’ only a narrow strip of the planet and a different strip on each pass, and each satellite has somewhat different instruments, of different ages and aging differently.

    If you point an instrument at Venus or Mars or Jupiter, you’re getting half the planet at a time. Point that same instrument at Earth from a low satellite, you get a tiny sample of the planet.

    Trying to get a global measurement this way is like taking portraits with a microscope — your subject will have changed so much by the time you’re finished that you won’t have a complete picture.

    That’s my off the cuff summary of stuff but I asked the same question when I started reading about climate long ago, have asked it repeatedly, and finally realized it’s politics and budget that keep us from having the tools needed. There’s been a serious and prolonged attempt to keep climate science from being able to do exactly what you’re asking for.

    One of the climate scientists can likely point to plans for making the kind of measurements needed and how the instruments would be arranged.

    One notion I recall was two satellites at the Lagrange points, so one is seeing the fully illuminated Earth from “noon” and the other seeing the nightside from “midnight” — if that were done in the appropriate wavelengths (not visible light, or not only visible), and done for a few decades, that’d be the sort of data set you’d be wanting.

    It could have been done a few decades ago. It hasn’t been.
    It’s not a new idea, though it’s rediscovered by each new generation.

  13. Hank Roberts:

    For Dave123: these may help, just as suggestions where to find terms useful for
    poking at Scholar — done using a few terms I know from prior reading.
    Look up “Francisco Valero”




    from p. 608 of 6 MAY 2005 VOL 308 SCIENCE
    In Search of Balance
    “… The scientific community has recognized this essential need for years, but major impediments have developed. For example, the broadband data collected by the ERBS (Earth Radiation Budget Satellite) between 2000 and 2004 are not being analyzed for budgetary reasons. The DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) satellite has been built but has since fallen victim to the delayed space shuttle program and is now in storage awaiting a launch opportunity. The CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation) and CloudSat satellites have been built and have scheduled launches, but recent budget cuts imposed on the Earth sciences in
    NASA will severely constrain the analysis and interpretation of the data….”

    A shorter summary, also from 2005: “The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy” — Kurt Vonnegut, “A Man Without a Country”

  14. Dave Peters:

    I wish to comment on wildfire. For over three decades, the most influential of all of the minimalists, the discussant with the strongest scientific credentials, has always struck me as MIT’s Lindzen. Borrowing from Hannibal Lector’s invocation of Marcus Aurelius: “Simplicity. Ask of each particular thing–what is its nature? What does it do?” In the case of Dr. Lindzen, when you listen to him argue over long stretches of time, his fundamental message is that combustion-driven temperature change will be slight (of low consequence), and that our capacity to reduce such change is even smaller.

    Witnessing events from conservative Colorado Springs, there is an interesting mixture of culture which while embracing science and the newest technology on the one hand, remains anchored to fundamentalism. Two years ago, the editorial stance of the newspaper in the town where the *AIR* Force teaches its young, was distinctly minimalist. Sunday’s tragedy in Arizona also now highlights this chink in the armor of the Lindzen position. Perhaps one in ten-thousand of the common folks have a grasp of the Clapeyron schedule for water vapor. While too soon to jump to definitive assertions about Arizona, it seems to me likely that very highly trained fire-fighters with their lives riding on their judgement, were encountering conditions with no human precedent. Fire. Fire amplified by dryness that is non-linear. Herein Dr. Lindzen can be directly and effectively contradicted by phenomena which everyone can readily grasp.

  15. Hank Roberts:

    Aside: from that piece about Vonnegut, a couple of quotes:

    “… when he acknowledged, in response to a question from an acquaintance, that he was writing an antiwar book [Slaughterhouse Five, 1969], he was asked why he wasn’t writing an anti-glacier book instead. “What he meant, of course,” Vonnegut wrote, “was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.”


    “… in his 1991 essay collection “Fates Worse Than Death,” he described humanity as “an unstoppable glacier made of hot meat, which ate up everything in sight and then made love, and then doubled in size again”

    The man clearly didn’t understand how
    fragile and stoppable glaciers are.
    Of course, none of us did, back then.

  16. sidd:


    McMillan et al. document collapse of ice surface above a subglacial lake during a 6 cubic Km. drainage event in E. Antarctica. Hole is 280sq. Km. in area and 70 m deep. This is approx. 1/10th of total Antarctica annual mass loss


  17. Kevin McKinney:

    The man clearly didn’t understand how
    fragile and stoppable glaciers are.
    Of course, none of us did, back then.

    Yes, the appropriate techniques had been invented and deployed, but were not yet widely publicized.

  18. Hank Roberts:

    > collapse

    The BBC caption says the vertical scale is exaggerated in the image — for sure that’s true. Look at the horizontal and vertical scales.

    It’s a depression in the ice — not a collapse, a sag, and it’s rising again.

    Fascinating stuff that needs better explanation.

  19. SecularAnimist:

    I wrote: “Intelligent microgrids … enabled to participate in load balancing on the larger grid within seconds”

    Hank Roberts replied: “That would be nice. Anyone building this thing?”

    Yes, lots of people — notably the US military. Microgrids are already big business, and growing rapidly. I posted a link:


    Microgrids have traditionally been a mainstay of campus-sized institutions like industrial parks or colleges, but that paradigm is shifting as the US military works to reduce climate risks and improve fuel security while local governments plan for resiliency in the face of climate change-fueled severe weather.

    Navigant broadly cites the US Department of Energy’s definition of microgrids as interconnected demand and generation with defined boundaries that can either connect or disconnect from the grid to keep the lights on at any time. This definition is expanded in their research to include remote microgrids, or those operating in “island mode” for a majority of the time.

    Using these guidelines, the Microgrid Deployment Tracker 4Q12 identifies at least 405 projects currently planned, proposed, under development, or fully operating. These projects represent 3.2 gigawatts (GW) total capacity, up from 2.6GW in 2Q 2012. 67 new project entries representing 571 megawatts (MW) of new capacity are noted across that time frame, a 22% jump in just six months.

  20. Mal Adapted:

    Hank Roberts:

    There’s been a serious and prolonged attempt to keep climate science from being able to do exactly what you’re asking for.

    The attack continues unabated by Republicans in the U.S House:

    The authorization levels for NASA’s Earth Science program – a proposed reduction of more than 30 percent from the current budget – attracted much attention at the hearing. A brief prepared by Republican committee staff explained this proposed level approximates that of FY 2008, and ties reduced funding for the Earth Science program to the need for a better balance with increased funding for the Planetary Sciences program. In his opening remarks, [House Subcommittee on Space Chairman Steven] Palazzo [(R-MS)] stated:

    “Over the last five years the Earth Science program has grown by more than 40% at the expense of other critical missions within the Science Mission Directorate and elsewhere in NASA. There are 13 agencies throughout the federal government that currently fund over $2.5 billion in climate science research, but only one agency does space exploration and space science. This bill ensures a balanced portfolio of science mission programs by simply moderating the increases that Earth Science has received over the last 5 years.” Balancing Act: House Science Committee Draft of New NASA Bill

    And which of the other 12 agencies is going to build and launch the satellite needed to measure global energy budget? The Republican war on climate science claims another casualty.

  21. Hank Roberts:


  22. Doug Bostrom:

    A few years from now when our weather forecasting ability is thrown back to 1980 capabilities we’ll be able to thank the GOP Coneheads.

    These guys don’t have the chops to understand the collateral damage they’ll cause with their “moderation” of Earth observation.

    When, oh when are we going to finally exit the Great Cloud of Stupid?

  23. sidd:

    Re: McMillan et al. 2013

    Perhaps I was not clear enough. I wrote:
    “280sq. Km. in area and 70 m deep”

    This is a shape of roughly 10 Km=10,000 m in largest dimension. The depth is 70 m, the fraction is 7 parts in a thousand for the slope as you ski down. Here is a nice picture with scales, fig 2a from the paper, purists may carp that vertical is exaggerated, but it has many pretty colors


    For the bits I am really interested in:

    “Our observations show that a single subglacial lake discharged ~ 6 Gt of water during a period of ~ 20 months. To provide context, this is equivalent to ~ 10 % of annual subglacial melting beneath the AIS [Pattyn, 2010] or alternatively, ~ 8 % of the yearly AIS mass imbalance [Shepherd et al., 2012]. Our observations provide evidence that a significant fraction of the AIS subglacial meltwater budget can be moved in discrete, episodic events.”

    Now, can a large “episodic” event, or set of events in WAIS, do sumpn like MWP1A ? That was an exciting episode, apparently, lasting 500 yr or thereabout.


  24. sidd:

    And I note that Prof. Box has quietly updated GIS 0-3200m albedo thru june 2013 at


    That particular graf is a favorite of mine, but i shall not include the direct link to it, since he has much else that is new and edifying. You may, of course, page down rapidly to the albedo graf, but it will be your loss.


  25. Thomas:

    Since, microgrids are coming up, I wrote a small essay about them:
    I think this whole cheerleading for self-sufficient microgrids is
    misplaced. It arises from unrealistic social desires -independence from
    the rest of society mostly, but in all but a few cases it would be
    grossly inoptimal. If we are to use all (or even half) renewables we will
    have to trade different sources based upon variable flows, against other
    constant sources, and stores based systems (to some extent hydro and
    geothermal can be stores based dispatchable sources). Also the distribution
    of flexible demand will be uneven. This means that the broader the
    geographic range of a grid you have, the less storage will be required.
    And storage won’t come cheap, power that is stored then used later will
    be at a considerable premium.

    We need to be thinking in terms of smarter and broader power grids, microgrids
    are an attempt to swim against this tide. Also some power -probably including
    solar, but certainly the case for wind and most hydro and geothermal has considerable
    efficiences that accrue from the scale of the facilities. I believe this will
    the case with storage as well. Large facilities which require high tech
    management are likley to provide the cheapest bulk storage. Also grid connected
    storage is likely to be able to find more customers per Kwhour of capacity
    if it is connected to broad based grid. Lets not let our desires for better
    social organization trump our engineering and economic judgement. We already
    have a society and political system, that balks at the potential cost of
    the needed energy transition. Lets do our level headed best to cut the size
    of the needed investment to the minimin. Only in this way can we minimize
    the net carbon emissions during the transition.

  26. Edward Greisch:

    So now we know why we can’t get the information out of NASA on the energy flux in and out of Earth. That explains why NASA employees are shy about it as well. As an appointed official, you bow 3 times every time an elected official walks by.

    We have to do politics, however we can. So I suggested the topic to Andy Revkin at dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com. We need to use the information provided by 20 Mal Adapted and others in replies to comments by denialists on popular web sites.

    Is it possible for universities to analyze the data that has already come down?

  27. owl905:

    Rust. Generations of pollution and the ubiquitous visible sign is rust.

    It the lead-in to a SCIAM article about closing down coal-power plants in Georgia. The retreat has become a route: a perfect convergence of a cheaper plug-in replacement (natural gas); federal regulations from the EPA; and a cross-roads in power-plant lifecycles where 40% of the fleet is vulnerable to reappraisal.


    There’s an interesting breadcrumb trail that leads to a Canadian report about the hidden health-costs of Alberta’s coal-powered plants:

    “A Costly Diagnosis- Subsidizing coal power with Albertans’ health”


    It actually take a cut at costing out some of the collateral damage from coal power. The report’s conclusion basically triples the real cost of coal-power. It’s worth the read.

    And at the end of the smoke-signal is an opportunity – to see what the ‘after’ picture is like when all the coal goes cold – Ontario, Canada will exit the coal-powered business at the end of this year.

  28. Radge Havers:

    For Ed @~26
    Environmental action

    You might find this interesting:

    The foxes have organized to drug the farmers, co-opt the guard-dogs, and take over the henhouses. Not surprisingly, the ducks are baffled by the situation.

  29. Shelama:


    Jason-1 has died.

    Given the continued accumulation of heat in the ocean during the last 15 years, and in spite of the slowed increase of surfcae atmospheric warming during that period, what accounts for the decline of MSL between 2011 and 2012?

    [Response: that’s actually quite interesting. The La Niña over that period lead to a very unusual amount of rainfall in Australia. Much of this rainfall accumulated in the interior basins – which do not drain to the sea. Thus the anomalous 5-7mm sea level drop is almost all due to water being stored in the Australian ‘bowl’. – gavin]

  30. G.R.L. Cowan:

    A table, updated hourly, of Ontario’s electricity generation mix.

  31. Hank Roberts:

    The ducks have been baffled for decades.

  32. patrick:

    @30 Very good. Now could we please the have a similar table, updated hourly, showing water usage and water cycled per hour?

    Next: “There is absolutely nothing unnatural about CO2.”

    In this sentence I’ve substituted “CO2” for your use of the word, “radioactivity.” (…Iceland Points Way… June 28, your site link)

    This is just one of several places where it substitutes nicely, without too much trouble–to make the point that the lipstick you’re putting on nuclear radiation is like similar promotional make-up that is often applied to CO2.

    A time chart of tons and grades of waste would also be helpful.

  33. noelfuller:

    With respect to the discussion on microgrids how does this fit?
    In Auckland, NZ, a major lines company, Vector, is initiating a hybrid solar install program on residences. A user pays $1999 installation charge and thereafter NZ$70 per month for 12 1/2 years for a 3 kw grid tie system with a lithium battery. At peak times the household draws from the battery rather than the grid and during the day Vector can raid the battery to deal with demand spikes. The householder is paid for any power drawn from the battery. If there is a power outage and the battery is fully charged an average household could draw on it for about 4 hours. This peakshaving deal, when there is a sufficient installed capacity, is obviously going to serve the lines company well in terms of rapid response and keeping down the otherwise very high costs of peak supply probably supplied by a big deisel generator somewhere in town. The user can sell power back to the power supply company too.

    I have read that US utilities have been viewing electric car batteries for peak shaving too.

  34. noelfuller:

    In his book ‘The long Thaw’ David Archer at the end included an estimation for the heat trapped by the CO2 released by burning one US gallon of gasoline, over its atmospheric lifetime. The energy generated by burning that gallon came to 2500 kilocalories. That trapped by the resulting CO2 came to 100 billion kilocalories.

    Since Skeptical Science came up with 4 Hiroshima nuclear bombs per second as the rate of energy added to the system by the human added CO2 in the atmosphere I’ve been itching to grab a Hiroshima bomb which I have been told had an energy output of 67 terajoules. From an internet converter I learned that that amounted to 16 billion kilocalories so dividing 16 into 100 results in an estimated 6.25 Hiroshima bombs per US gallon of gasoline, or 1.65 bombs per litre.

    I would like to know how that calculation was derived and the shape of the CO2 curve over the time period used?

  35. Richard Stamper:

    For GRL Cowan at 3 Jul 2013 at 5:46 PM:

    For interest, there’s a great site for the UK National Grid updating every 5 minutes at http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/. The UK is still heavily dependent on coal; the intermittency of wind is obvious, as is the small size of pumped hydro storage; nothing is shown on this site for the highly distributed feed-in solar but whether that is because it isn’t in the data feed because it cannot be easily measured, I don’t know.

  36. Hank Roberts:

    For Noel Fuller: You asked, I ‘oogled — this from the first page of those results may answer your question:
    if not look through some of the other results of that kind of search, or try for example Scholar.

    It’s always interesting to try an image search (but be very wary, the PR and “advocacy/adversary science” folks on all sides of the issue are overwhelmingly the source of most image results — they take pictures, attach misleading text, and fool people enough of the time. That’s done by people who care about results not facts, and know the results they want to get regardless of what the facts may be.

    Gotta be careful out there. Your question doesn’t have a single simple answer, but Archer’s publications go a ways toward answering it.

  37. Edward Greisch:

    32 patrick: That is off topic.

  38. Mal Adapted:

    Doug Bostrom:

    A few years from now when our weather forecasting ability is thrown back to 1980 capabilities we’ll be able to thank the GOP Coneheads.

    These guys don’t have the chops to understand the collateral damage they’ll cause with their “moderation” of Earth observation.

    Some of them don’t appear to understand the difference between weather and climate: Rep. Jim Bridenstine [R-OK] says U.S. spends 30 times as much on climate change research as on weather forecasting.

  39. Doug Bostrom:

    Mal Adapted says: 4 Jul 2013 at 10:45 AM
    Some of them don’t appear to understand the difference between weather and climate…

    Yes, and consequently they’re not really making “decisions” about funding, any more than the bodies of decapitated chickens are goal-seeking.

  40. flxible:

    Rep. Jim Bridenstine [R-OK] says U.S. spends 30 times as much on climate change research as on weather forecasting.
    Obviously thinks forecasters use the entrails of Dougs chickens to decide when the next storms will hit and how high the surge will be along the Atlantic coast. ;)

  41. Thomas:


    There are cases where a microgrid with local strage makes sense. The most
    obvious is for sites that are remote enough that a grid connection is unaffordable.
    There are also eneterprises with grid access, who pay connection charges based upon
    maximum demand. The later determines the thickness of wires, sizing of
    distribution transformers etc., so this is a common and reasonable utility
    charging practice. Now if his demand profile includes a few high peaks,
    then including peakshaving storage to reduce his peak demand can be worth the cost.

    I’m very skeptical about residential storage. I have a plugin car, it cautions
    against leaving it charged for long periods, as this affects battery lifetime.
    It also cautions against leaving it in the sun on a hot day fully charged, for
    the same reason. This past week, we’ve been having an epic heatwave. I’ve been
    careful to not fully charge my car, and in fact to be sure that any charge I
    do put in will be consumed by my next planned trip. I’d rather err on the side of
    consuming more fuel, than have charge left over after the drive. Battery
    management for the long haul is a tricky subject, and current chemistries
    constrain economic usage patterns.

    This past week provides another example of the power/convienience of a grid
    connection. I have PV on my roof. On a typical sunny day, it roughly matches my
    twentyfour hour usage. However, this past week we’ve been having a major heatwave
    (above 40C everyday), my consumption per day is now four times my PV production!
    And I am only cooling to 79F, have extra attic insulation etc. Clearly an
    offgrid system that could handle such occasional weather events would be very
    pricey, and most of the time would be spilling much of the produced energy.

  42. noelfuller:

    Thanks for the detailed comment. One would conclude the house battery is better suited than the more exposed car battery. Of course having grid tie as well is the best bet. After your comment I have to say it is nicer to be in Auckland where our highest ever temperature was 34°C and only for a few hours. Heavy rain and strong winds plus the rare tornado and the errant driver are more usual reasons for problems here.

  43. noelfuller:

    Thanks for the link. I’ve gone right through it. I had to laugh at this line, being well aware of its truth 15+ years later:
    “Gafn (1997, p. 494) wrote that the door to misinterpretation had been left open. Others have
    and continue to walk through it.”

  44. Bob Loblaw:

    flxible says “Obviously thinks forecasters use the entrails of Dougs chickens

    Nope. You can’t beat pig spleens. Mr. Woodward even admits he used to work for Environment Canada (although not as a weather forecaster. He was in the Water Survey group).

  45. MikeH:

    The following is a link to last night’s excellent Australian ABC science program on extreme weather.

    It includes interviews with the following climate scientists.
    Dr Erich Fischer, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH
    Dr Karl Braganza, Australian Bureau of Meteorology
    Dr Lisa Alexander, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW
    Dr Susan Wijffels, Marine and Atmospheric Research, CSIRO
    Professor Jennifer Francis, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University

  46. patrick:

    @37 Which point is off topic:

    1) Water usage and cooling system vulnerabilities?

    2) The dedicated spin in the 100% question-begging (classical sense, please) tinny decoy that “…there is nothing…unnatural about radioactivity” and “There is absolutely nothing unnatural about nuclear radiation”? (A dead echo of CO2-is-our-friend rhetoric serving an equally-empty rhetorical role.)

    3) Waste?

    The linked site has a number of articles by one person, a publicist who’s info tab provides no real bio but does contain a statement which addresses and links “Energy as a political issue” in the second paragraph. (The first paragraph is a disclaimer.) This link is to a page the first paragraph of which says in its entirety: “All energy is political.” (sic)

    The “table” linked @30, to which I responded, appears as a sidebar on nearly every page of the site.

    So, who changed what [topic]? And who is changing what [topic]?

    The publicist signing these articles identifies himself as Vice President of Energy and Environment for an Ottawa management consultancy. The subtitle of the site is: “Where energy converges with environment in Canada.”

    Further, if you post a comment which links a big consultancy sales job and your name is a text link which links something even more fallacious and more preposterous, then: same question.

    On the particulars of that, I reserve a separate comment.

    Several comments have noted a trend against climate science and basic science in Canada (with some similar things in the US). Mine was one of them, last month.

    A meme associated with this push is the just-the-apps-please-skip-the-theory thing. This brass tacks front, however, only complicates the matter and adds to public confusion.

    I’ll reserve a separate comment on that too.

    The agnatology post on the next thread is just in time (rasmus @28 June 2013). This could as well be there. No matter: mechanisms of ignorance are never off topic.

    It’s Independence Day. Sharpen your nose.

  47. Earl Killian:

    A 4th of July post from Think Progress:
    Was Paul Revere an Alarmist?
    “The weight of evidence suggests that it is ‘very likely’ (probability greater than 90%) that the British are coming. I am not advocating any specific mitigation or adaptation response.” (Paul Revere, if he had been a climate scientist)

  48. Hank Roberts:

    Relevant elsewhere:

    The Climate Change Issue
    Meeting the world’s energy needs entirely with wind, water, and solar power
    Mark A. DelucchiMark Z. Jacobson
    Dragons, mules, and honeybees: Barriers, carriers, and unwitting enablers of climate change action
    Robert Gifford
    Getting serious about the new realities of global climate change
    Jennifer A. BurneyCharles F. KennelDavid G. Victor

  49. patrick:

    @30 If your name didn’t link an argument that is completely, um, ad mobilem–and were it not a shell game–I wouldn’t mention that the little blue chariot you have stigmatized for clicks on the “Donate” button is out of production at this time.

    But innovations that started with the iconic object of your disdain have advanced and expanded.

    Lacking entrenched opposition to Tesla and its follow-on innovations–and were it not on Independence Day–I wouldn’t link this petition–which already has already made it’s minimum:


    It strikes me that it’s a vote for freedom. The maximum donation is a signature.

    It’s all about “where energy converges with environment”–as per the subtitle of the website you link in your comment.

    Tesla can take care of itself on thermodynamics, physics, and engineering.

    But the spin against it is something else entirely.

  50. Chuck Hughes:

    So, is this something that could happen soon or is it not very likely to happen? I’ve seen it mentioned here and have found several Google pages about it in various studies but it would be nice to hear a few opinions from Realclimate about this scenario and it’s likelihood. Thanks.

    Clathrate Gun Hypothesis

    “Current methane release has previously been estimated at 0.5 Mt per year. Shakhova et al. (2008) estimate that not less than 1,400 Gt of carbon is presently locked up as methane and methane hydrates under the Arctic submarine permafrost, and 5–10% of that area is subject to puncturing by open taliks. They conclude that “release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage [is] highly possible for abrupt release at any time”. That would increase the methane content of the planet’s atmosphere by a factor of twelve, equivalent in greenhouse effect to a doubling in the current level of CO2.

    In 2008 the United States Department of Energy National Laboratory system[20] and the United States Geological Survey’s Climate Change Science Program both identified potential clathrate destabilization in the Arctic as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change, which have been singled out for priority research. The USCCSP released a report in late December 2008 estimating the gravity of this risk.

    According to data released by the EPA atmospheric methane (CH4) concentrations (ppb) remained between 400–800ppb (between years 600,000 BC to 1900) and since 1900 have risen to levels between 1600–1800ppb.”


  51. Hank Roberts:

    Chuck, you’ve asked this before, you’ve read David Archer on it, there’s been nothing new.

    Instead that 2008 study and the 2011 press release are hyped and rehyped.

    There’s PR going on to try to build an argument to “depressurize” the evil methane lurking underneath the sediments in the Arctic. It’s stayed there through past periods of extreme warming. Look up “depressurize” and “methane” on the google.

    It’s like fracking in intent. Same purpose; release gas, burn it and profit.

    Look hard at the argument being repeatedly made for spending our very limited amount of money and time on the unlikely extreme case that profits a few.

    Build a whole new infrastructure to pull natural gas out from under the seabed, and what have we got? A new infrastructure for burning more gas.

    The Japanese are already tapping seabed methane like this now.

    If any of the proponents were serious about avoiding the problem they’d be urging spending money to manage the CO2 produced by selling the methane.

  52. Kevin McKinney:

    Chuck, this has been talked about a fair amount in the past, so I’m going to try to summarize my sense of what was said.

    1) There seems to be good evidence that there is increased methane release, and this is concerning.

    2) It is known that there is an awful lot of carbon in the Arctic, among all the marine and lacustrine sediments, frozen soils and peat bogs.

    3) There seems to be some evidence that methane release will not be a sudden ‘all at once’ thing, but more gradual, rather. But that seemed to remain somewhat in dispute.

    4) The ‘pros’ seemed much less concerned about the impact of the methane than some commenters. As I understand it, that is not because the impact would not be significant, but because for various reasons they thought that it would not be determinative. They expected that it would be CO2 levels, not methane releases, that really drive the state of our planetary systems over the medium term. In part, that is because methane tends to decay to CO2 within a decade or so, anyway.

    Hope that’s reasonably accurate as a quick summary, but I’m sure others will jump in to correct or elaborate if needed. (Heck, they may already have done, and just haven’t cleared moderation yet.)

  53. Chuck Hughes:

    Thanks Hank. I’m trying to separate fact from fiction by appealing to reliable, level-headed sources for my information.

  54. doug:

    Dr. Jennifer Francis has said she thinks it likely that the jet stream will continue having more of a North/South component to it, and I also believe she said she thinks it will continue to slow. I believe she also said that we are seeing this in all seasons now. (an altered jet stream) I know that the link between this phenomenon and greenhouse gas emissions are not as established as a lot of other areas of climate science. However, if she turns out to be correct, and the jet stream continues to slow and become more “wavy”, (whether it’s caused by Arctic amplification or not), my question is, how far could this phenomenon go? What is the “end” state? Is it possible for example that we could find the jet stream staying in place for months at a time, years, decades? How wavy could this waviness become?

    Of course nobody knows the answer to these questions, but perhaps people have theories for what is somewhat likely or possible to happen. Any insights would be helpful.

  55. Hank Roberts:

    This is another secondary source, but may have pointers to the original work by Dr. Jennifer Francis and others — this is from fall 2012.
    I found it at

    —–excerpt follows—–
    “Arctic Wind Shift Could Affect Ice Loss and Weather, Study Says
    11 October 2012

    “… NOAA-led study published October 10 in Geophysical Research Letters.
    “… discovered that the previously normal west-to-east flowing upper-level winds have been replaced by a more north-south undulating, or wave-like, pattern. This new wind pattern transports warmer air into the Arctic and pushes Arctic air farther south, and may influence the likelihood of persistent weather conditions in the mid-latitudes.

    “‘What we’re seeing is stark evidence that the gradual temperature increase is not the important story related to climate change; it’s the rapid regional changes and increased frequency of extreme weather that global warming is causing. As the Arctic warms at twice the global rate, we expect an increased probability of extreme weather events across the temperate latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where billions of people live,’ said Jennifer Francis of Rutgers.”

  56. Hank Roberts:

    So, ah, this “tipping point” notion seems an area of research; from the latest Geophysical Research Letters — this is modeling not observation, not an actual early warning of observing any actual change, mind you, don’t anybody who’s not a scientist start blogging bloody murder based on the abstract (which is all I can see).

    But — it’s interesting to see the subject’s being looked into. Anyone got access to the full paper care to say more about the general area and why it’s of interest?

    Interaction network based early warning indicators for the Atlantic MOC collapse
    DOI: 10.1002/grl.50515

    Geophysical Research Letters
    Volume 40, Issue 11, pages 2714–2719, 16 June 2013

  57. Kevin McKinney:

    #56–Hank, I found a pre-pub PDF here:


    It’s pretty technical, but perhaps this section from the introduction gives the background research and discusses potential utility:

    Since Stommel’s seminal paper [Stommel, 1961] many model studies have shown that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) may be sensitive to changes in the freshwater balance of the northern North Atlantic [Bryan, 1986]. When an anomalous freshwater flux is gradually applied over a broad swath in the subpolar North Atlantic, the MOC collapses in many ocean-climate models [Rahmstorf et al., 2005]. Freshening of the surface waters in the Nordic and Labrador Seas inhibits the production of North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), which feeds the deep southward branch of the MOC. The MOC collapse occurs due to the existence of a tipping point associated with the salt-advection feedback [Dijkstra and Ghil, 2005; Lenton, 2011].

    Over the last few years there has been a growing interest in developing early warning indicators for proximity of tipping points in systems for which the external conditions change very slowly with time [Scheffer et al., 2009; Kuehn, 2011; Scheffer et al., 2012; Barnosky et al., 2012]. For regime shifts in ecosystems, early warning indicators have been based on either temporal or spatial correlations [Donangelo et al., 2010].

    For the MOC collapse problem, the slow change is caused by the gradually varying freshwater forcing in the northern North Atlantic.

    Early warning indicators of the approach to the tipping point for the MOC have sofar been mostly based on temporal characteristics of the single time series [Held and Kleinen, 2004] or an ensemble of such time series [Livina and Lenton, 2007]. The techniques currently used (for an overview, see Lenton [2011]) are based on the concepts of critical slowdown (degenerate fingerprinting [Held and Kleinen, 2004], detrended fluctuation analysis [Livina and Lenton, 2007]) and the existence of multiple equilibria (potential analysis [Livina et al., 2010, 2011]).

    In this paper, we present new early warning indicators for the collapse of the MOC which are based on the spatial correlations of the Atlantic temperature field. Such changes in spatial correlations can be effectively detected by an interaction network approach [Tsonis and Roebber, 2004; Donges et al., 2009; Bialonski et al., 2011; Gozolchiani et al., 2011; Tsonis and Swanson, 2012]. A link between different locations in such a network is established when a correlation measure of their co-varying time series exceeds a certain threshold. To demonstrate the application potential of the new indicators, we apply the interaction network methodology to temperature time series from a meridional-depth model of the Atlantic MOC.

    It looks as if this has been on at least a side burner throughout most of the last decade.

  58. prokaryotes:

    Perception of climate opinion in the public mind by Stephan Lewandowsky http://climatestate.com/2013/07/06/perception-of-climate-opinion-in-the-public-mind-by-stephan-lewandowsky/

    Michael Mann: The Battle to Communicate Climate Change: Lessons from The Front Lines – summary

    State of the Climate System (2013) by Richard Alley
    Walk through to recent science.

  59. Dave Peters:

    Re: noelfuller, # 34.

    Thirteen years ago, I attempted to derive a “highly transparent,” or readily-intuitive ratio between the climatic consequence of–and energy liberated by–burning a pound of carbon. At that time, by ignoring deforestration vs. fertilization complexities, and by looking back a quarter-century, one could reasonably equate the atmospheric sink rate to that of net injection. That is, half of then recent decades’ exhaust showed up at Mona Loa, and half disappeared. This “lifetime for dummies” deliberately dodges the Archer asymptote, and “measures” the decay rate of airborne CO2 at one-third of a percent per year (finding only 34 molecules per thousand emitted, still airborne a full millennium after the burn). Further, I rounded the average life in the air, apparent from these assumptions, to a truncated 250 years. Nevertheless. though more than a hundred million-fold lower than that of Dr. Archer, at a devilish 666 to one, my ratio implies that a pound of carbon flying across this interval can directly raise over thirteen million pounds of water by one degree F., and that the typical American’s million pounds of lifetime combustion-consequence, could “heat” The Great Salt Lake by a single degree F. Similarly, when depicted as an instantaneous sum, this amount of energy could also bring that American’s share of the world’s oceans to a boiling depth exceeding 2,000 feet, or sustainably warm its top 500 feet across his lifetime by over 40 degrees F., when amplified at Charney sensitivity.

    Though I communicated with Dr. Archer at the time, I held several reasons for eschewing the complexity of ocean carbon chemistry. After all, the fog from buffering had stumped the best scientific minds in the world for the important two mid-twentieth century decades between Callendar and Revelle. Both the acquittal in the 1995 Simpson trial, and the politics of Yucca Mountain in the 1980’s, had chastened me concerning the public’s capacity to comprehend emerging science. I had personally worked on the waste storage problem, and anguish over our inability to bring certitude to assertions pertaining a million years out, in that instance, were an important element in pre-maturely retiring a generation of nuclear engineers. Placing that kettle of fish and outcome in one balance pan, and the climatic consequence of the nuclear shut down in the other, my personal weighing had tilted strongly opposite to that of conventional wisdom. Further, it seemed to me at the time, something of an inconvenient aspect of ocean carbon chemistry, that were we magically to stop “compressing” that spring, and abruptly end all combustion, the first order response would be a consequential out-gassing of CO2 into the air.

  60. Kevin McKinney:

    #58–Thanks. Bookmarked Lobell et al., 2012, from Dr. Alley’s talk:


    Growth rates in aggregate crop productivity to 2050 will continue to be mainly driven by technological and agronomic improvements, just as they have for the past century. Even in the most pessimistic scenarios, it is highly unlikely that climate change would result in a net decline in global yields. Instead, the relevant question at the global scale is how much of a headwind climate change could present in the perpetual race to keep productivity growing as fast as demand….

    However, the best available science related to climate change and crop physiology indicates that climate change represents a credible threat to sustaining global productivity growth at rates necessary to keep up with demand. Increasing the scale of investments in crop improvement, and increasing the emphasis of these investments on global change factors, will help to sustain yield growth over the next few decades.

    Of course, that’s with reference to direct effects of temperature on plants, and doesn’t consider the effects of warming on, say, hydrology.

  61. Hank Roberts:

    Vicky Arroyo, Georgetown Climate Center, on Science Friday (transcript):

  62. Jim Larsen:

    59 Dave P said, “abruptly end all combustion, the first order response would be a consequential out-gassing of CO2 into the air”

    I don’t think so. The ocean would continue absorbing CO2 until we hit a new equilibrium (assuming no tipping points).

  63. Hank Roberts:

    > abruptly end all combustion

    I think he means what he said literally — somehow ending all combustion.

    That would mean no forest fires.

    If he means abruptly ending only fossil fuel burning — well, natural biogeochemical cycling has handled about half of the fossil carbon too, so it would be a fairly fast step down in the atmosphere.

    Still the ocean’s lagging quite a bit behind the atmospheric increase. I don’t see how it’d reverse so fast.

  64. doug:

    Thanks Hank #55. I have watched her presentations via youtube, e.t.c. I suppose the best source for my questions would be her, but I won’t contact Dr. Francis. I know she is swamped with inquiries these days. I would be surprised if she has publicly come out and said anything beyond that she thinks the polar jet will likely increase it’s north/south trajectory and slow down even more over time. (Doubtful that she’s speculated on how far this phenomenon could go).

    I have a fear, justified or not, that the polar jet will eventually freeze in place, or at least spend months without moving. And depending upon where it is set up, the weather all around the Northern Hemisphere would essentially not change. This sounds like the worst kind of science fiction movie, and I wonder if it is a possibility, and in what time frame? Dr. Jeff Masters was commenting on his blog this past week that that the Jet has taken this wavy shape three times already this Summer, and that is responsible for the wild weather we are all seeing. He said he’s never seen anything like it in 30 years of observations.

  65. Chuck Hughes:

    I read David Archers post on Methane Hydrates and the subsequent comments. I missed that post when it came out in 2010 so I didn’t know how thoroughly this topic had been discussed in the past. Thanks again to Hank R. and Kevin M. for pointing me in the right direction.

    Does anybody have any input on the configuration of the Jet Stream and all the flooding in the last few months in Europe, Canada and now the Ohio Valley? I’m currently in Colorado and we’re finally getting some rain along the front range, enough to tamp down the fire danger for a while. A friend of mine from Germany sent me a video of the flooding in Jena, Germany and it looked pretty severe. I also noticed some other comments asking about the jet stream as well. It’s also a “hot topic” on MSNBC and other news sites as well as Dr. Jeff Masters. Maybe someone can shed some light on what’s happening and what we may be looking at during this hurricane season. I’m aware that it has a lot to do with the loss of Arctic Ice but the results are dramatic to say the least.

    In light of President Obama’s recent Climate Change speech I’m wondering if anyone here thinks the Obama administration has a pretty good grasp of the situation we’re in?


  66. Dave Peters:

    62 Jim

    I do not wish to introduce an erroneous notion here, and certainly am no master of buffering chemistry. The e-mail exchange I had with Dr. Archer was brief and over a decade ago and perhaps I misunderstood him. But, as I understood him at the time, the reason that something close to half of the CO2 we are adding to the air each year was vanishing, was that we were continuously “pushing” against the equilibrium. Should that stop, I understood him to imply, the relaxation would entail a reversal of flow, from the ocean to the atmosphere. Perhaps, only the apparent rate of flow would vanish, or drastically change. Of course, the gradual accumulation of heat, in and of itself, should inspire some out-gassing.

    This seems to me a damned important point. As I recall, the “state of play” of ascribing a specific point estimate to the concept of “average lifetime of a burned molecule in the atmosphere” was tumultuous and controversial at the turn of the century, and I believe one of the early IPCC reports essentially ducked this one, after chewing on the subject rather thoroughly. Back then, I very much desired to be able to assert two things: A) look here folks, if we double airborne CO2, we will get a negative (one-half, 3/4, full) Ice Age; & B) an average American’s exhaust gas, over its lifetime in the air, will induce a radiative impulse that will accumulate X amount of direct (indisputable) heat energy, and Y amount of additional heating from feedbacks, the extent of which was the subject of the ongoing (& likely unresolvable) dispute and uncertainty. The numbers jumping out of my calculator were so astonishingly large, that I thought a “boiling ocean” depth metaphor a quite powerful communication tool. (It induced a former philosophy professor of mine to immediately junk his beloved twenty-year old Detroit-iron Caddy for one of the first hybrids sold in California.) One could not describe a simple glaciation factor at the time, according to folks at GFDL, because conflicting data from the tropics fuzzed the assessment of the “average global temperature” under full Pleistocene ice, by a factor of two.

  67. Hank Roberts:

    for Chuck Hughes, jet stream, try above

  68. JCH:

    With current ENSO predictions leaning slightly toward La NIna at the end of 2013, this is interesting:

    El Niño Variability Derived from Tree Rings and Instrumental Measurements


    Predicting how the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will change with global warming is of enormous importance to society1, 2, 3, 4. ENSO exhibits considerable natural variability at interdecadal–centennial timescales5. Instrumental records are too short to determine whether ENSO has changed6 and existing reconstructions are often developed without adequate tropical records. Here we present a seven-century-long ENSO reconstruction based on 2,222 tree-ring chronologies from both the tropics and mid-latitudes in both hemispheres. The inclusion of tropical records enables us to achieve unprecedented accuracy, as attested by high correlations with equatorial Pacific corals7, 8 and coherent modulation of global teleconnections that are consistent with an independent Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction9. Our data indicate that ENSO activity in the late twentieth century was anomalously high over the past seven centuries, suggestive of a response to continuing global warming. Climate models disagree on the ENSO response to global warming3, 4, suggesting that many models underestimate the sensitivity to radiative perturbations. Illustrating the radiative effect, our reconstruction reveals a robust ENSO response to large tropical eruptions, with anomalous cooling in the east-central tropical Pacific in the year of eruption, followed by anomalous warming one year after. Our observations provide crucial constraints for improving climate models and their future projections.

  69. prokaryotes:

    Understanding the long-term carbon-cycle: weathering of rocks – a vitally important carbon-sink http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/07/understanding-the-long-term-carbon-cycle-weathering-of-rocks-a-vitally-important-carbon-sink/

  70. prokaryotes:

    Re doug #54 “…my question is, how far could this phenomenon go? What is the “end” state? Is it possible for example that we could find the jet stream staying in place for months at a time, years, decades? How wavy could this waviness become?”

    Ok, here is what i imagine could happen:

    Maybe think of this metaphor for earth as a living being, assume what happens if a major artery stops the flow of blood.

    Now for the observation; Energy is no longer bound in the sea ice, instead it goes into the ocean and atmosphere. A main theme here seems to be that the main northern hemispheric pressure gradient – the polar vortex collapses, maybe even permanently.

    Which in turn changes the major air oscillation ,the Jet Stream. Which means profound changes with ripple effects through out the earth systems. A new “mode” is established which primary characteristic is persistence of conditions (hence the lack of the past air flow). THIS mode hints especially to a interconnection with the IPO index( http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/06/a-looming-climate-shift-will-ocean-heat-come-back-to-haunt-us/ ), which suggests that ocean circulation will be affected incredibly. You probably enter a rapid transistion phase when system adjustments cross various tipping point thresholds in a couple of years. A lack of the major air oscillation, which i assume hints to equally less wave generation – could establish a permanent El Nino configuration. Where heat is just hanging in the upper surface of ocean waters, hence ocean dead zones will spread.

    You might have to deal on a short time scale with the failing of considerable amounts in grain production. This was further highlighted in a recent Chapman talk, Richard Alley gave last month (see link above). Though he tied it to higher temperatures, i make a connection here to extreme weather – persistent weather conditions combined with an emerging permanent El Nino.

  71. Kevin McKinney:

    #65–Chuck, you may be interested in my thoughts on last year’s sea ice minimum; there was a fair amount in there about the possible (but as yet unsettled) link between sea ice and the meandering Jet Stream.

    (Though I must say that, though it’s anecdotal evidence at this point, current and recent conditions aren’t exactly poster kids for the theory–we’ve got relatively high extent, by recent standards, a strikingly cold Arctic by recent standards, and we’ve also got a meandering jet stream. But it’s complicated, and I’m sure seasonality is important.)


  72. Martin Vermeer:

    Taking my headphones off for a moment to advertise the AGU Chapman talks who have appeared on youtube:

    AGU Chapman 2013.

    There are a number of incredible ones that every reader here would benefit from seeing. I can especially recommend Richard Alley, Mike Mann, Jeffrey Haines-Stiles, Spencer Weart, … well actually the lot of them.

    (RC-ers, would this be something for a placeholder post? You are all AGU members right?)

    Back to watching…

  73. Lawrence Coleman:

    Arctic sea ice extent, area and volume is now beginning to fall precipitously. To me that demonstrates just how rotten and slushy the ice has become. Now virtually all the perennial ice has gone except for a ridiculously narrow band bordering northern Canada. It doesn’t really matter now whether the melt was caused by ocean warming, arctic cyclones or soot deposited on the ice sheets, what’s gone is gone. Now the arctic circle is free to warm like never before leading unstoppably to ocean bed Ch4 release and rapid permafrost melting which will surprisingly quickly make the rate and volume of our man made emissions pale into abject negligence. Put another way the future ‘best case’ rate of decline of our anthropogenic emissions will be utterly swamped by nature’s brutal positive feedback system focussed on removing it’s primary pathogen…us!
    If that sounds a bit like James Lovelock..maybe you guys should revisit his predictions. They sound entirely plausible to me!!.

  74. JimBob:

    What has caused this year’s sudden depletion of Arctic Sea Ice?


    Any anomalous weather conditions this time?

  75. Complex guy:

    Well, I’ve already posted it on Stoat, but anyway, I’ll ask here as well.
    Here is a pdf by David Wasdell, a psychoanalyst who “analyzes” work in climate science. He claims that the arctic could very likely be ice free in 2014 or even this year. I am not qualified enough to judge him, but based on the fact that he did seem to talk some nonsense in the past (I recall him claiming that the IPCC ignored the water vapor feedback), I’d love to know whether he did a better job this time.

    pdf is here:

  76. Hank Roberts:

    … oh … dear …. http://www.globalclimate.co.uk/scientists/david-wasdell
    Would someone please ask Mr. Gore and Mr. Prince if they’re fans as described?
    I can’t understand these British political groups, the names confuse me.

  77. Thomas:

    Dave Peters @66 and others:
    Consider the following model for CO2 reservoirs.
    You have three columns containing water. One is labeled “atmosphere”,
    one is labels “surface water”, and a third fat one is labeled “deep water”.
    We also have a swimming pool, labeled “carbonate/silicates”.
    A straw connects the first cyllinder with the second, and another straw
    connects the first with the third. A very very think staw connects the first
    cyllinder with the swimming pool. It is known that a disequilibrium between
    the first and second cyllinders has a halflife of about a year. Similarly
    between the first cyllinder and the fat “deep water” cyllinder is a couple
    of hundred years. Finally because of the size of the smimming pool, and
    the thinness of that straw, the equilibrium halflife with the swimming
    pool is a couple hundred thousand years.
    Now steadily add water to the “atmosphere” cyllinder, and water will start
    flowing from that cyllinder to the others. After maybe a hundred years,
    stop adding water. At this point the atmosphere water level is still the
    highest one, flow in all straws will still be away from it. After a few years
    atmosphere will be lower than surface waters (in a real model the straw
    connects surface with deep) but this reverse flow is driven by the lowering
    of atmosphere by drainage into the larger reservoirs. The atmospheric
    concentration will continually decline, buy the rate of decrease will
    get lower as time goes by.
    You could easily construct a set of coupled first order linear
    differential equations to represent this system -or a larger more complicated
    network of reservoirs, and solve via computer.

  78. JCH:

    Currently there are lots of discussions around the internet about the SLR and OHC. During the “standstill”, some 10 years, both have gone up significantly.

    In these discussions there is a persistent notion about how the oceans warm, and there has to be something wrong with my understanding. It’s widely thought only SW can warm the oceans. Because LW barely penetrates the water, its argued all LW downwelling is used up in evaporation of some of the skin layer. A recent earth’s energy balance cartoon feeds into their beliefs by stating that they’ve raised the amount of LW downwelling, and that the additional amount was offset by additional evaporation. The skeptics believe a perfect balancing act is in place, and the creators of the diagram seemingly described one.

    These same skeptics tend to ridicule Peter MInnett’s RC article on how GHGs warm the oceans. But to me observations appear to be perfectly aligned with Minnett’s theory. Given the “standstill” in the rise of the surface atmosphere temperature, it looks to me like under Minnett’s theory the enhanced GHE – despite the flat SAT trend – would continue to raise OHC and consequently its component of SLR. Am I wrong there? These skeptics seem to think OHC can only go up if the SAT also goes up. They take the “standstill” in the SAT as proof OHC numbers are fictional.

    Has SW gone up? How else could SW only continuously raise OHC and its budget component of SLR (the skeptic theory)? The only thing I can think of is increased wind-driven downwelling, and they weren’t exactly in love with that theory either.

  79. Dave Peters:

    For Jim (62) & Hank (63)

    Just a bit of clarification on “disappearing (& reappearing)” airborne CO2. Lets start with Dr. Archer’s assertion that a pound or so of every gallon’s worth of carbon stays in the air until ocean-bottom geochemistry removes it on multi-millennial time scales. That HAS TO mean terrestrial processes (e.g., forgetful squirrels burying acorns) would be ineffectual, in pulling CO2 out of the air. Such would merely be compensated by out-gassing from the ocean’s deep vault of all of the centuries of carbon we have “set in motion”. Ignoring the warmth-driven evaporation, in 100 years using my 0.34% annual apparent sink rate, air retains ~71% of all exhaust, which thereby decays to Archer levels by about the 500th year (~18% remaining in the air). At this point, my equillibration process would have to all but shut off, to yield Archer-scale energy integrals. Whatever the words chosen to compare these processes, “consequential out-gassing”, “handled about half”, “continue absorbing”, or “flow all but vanish, or drastically change”—there has to be a HUGE reduction in the rate CO2 leaves the atmosphere, in comparison to that with which we are so familiar.

    If we are to fully grasp Dr. Archer’s insightful contribution, we can compare our two energy ratios, but first I must clear up an idiotic confusion that I have introduced.. In my response to Noel Fuller, I erroneously compared our two ratios (@, # 59: “though more than a hundred million more than Dr. Archer’s, my ratio of a devilish 666”). His CO2 returns 100,000,000,000 radiative BTUs per 2,500 chemical, or forty-million-to-one. Mine return 666 to one. Thus, his are 60,060 stronger than mine. This difference has little to do with spectroscopic prowess. His molecules live ~ 60 k longer, as airborne actors. This means that CO2 liberated by Darby at Coalbrookdale may well have likely enjoyed a long lurk in seawater, but Darby nevertheless has PUT THEM IN PLAY. If a squirrel buries an acorn tomorrow, there is a relevant chance that molecule can come out of hiding to replace the molecules the squirrel has removed from the air, up and until some much, much slower process turns it back to stone. Thinking that anything near today’s decay rates apply to a post-carbon economy is wrong, wrong, wrong. If combustion stops, de-residence stops, or slows by ~60,000-fold. You guys had me back-pedalling yesterday, but drove me to better appreciate Dr. Archer overnight.

  80. SecularAnimist:

    Lawrence Coleman wrote: “Arctic sea ice extent, area and volume is now beginning to fall precipitously.”

    However, JimBob linked to the NSIDC site which states as of July 2:

    Arctic sea ice continues to track below average but remains well above the levels seen last year. The relatively slow ice loss is a reflection of the prevailing temperature and wind patterns … Although the rate of ice loss increased toward the end of June, overall ice has retreated more slowly this summer compared to last summer, reflecting patterns of atmospheric circulation and air temperature.

    So, what’s the deal? It would appear that the Arctic sea ice is not “beginning to fall” more “precipitously” than last year; indeed the opposite is true.

  81. pete best:

    From Christopher Booker at the Telegraph: [edit – source link added]

    “Panic over Arctic ice – what else can the warmists get wrong?

    As evidence to support their belief system continues to crumble in all directions, acolytes of the warming cult fall back ever more desperately on the summer melting of Arctic ice to justify their wishful thinking that the world is still warming, and to explain why we are enjoying such cold winters and wet summers. Real scientists (as opposed to climate modellers) have long maintained that the decline in Arctic ice is caused not by warmer air – in the past year or two Arctic air temperatures have actually been falling – but by shifts in major ocean currents, pushing warmer water up into the Arctic Circle. Ken Drinkwater, one of a team of scientists at the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen who have been observing the Arctic for decades, dismisses the idea that the ice is melting because of any rise in global temperatures. “The warming,” he says, “is primarily due to currents. A greater amount of warm Atlantic water is flowing into the North Atlantic and up to the Barents Sea.” He points out that this is just what happened in the 1920s and 1930s, when the ice melted even more dramatically than it has done in recent years, before it recovered again during the decades of what is called “the Little Cooling”.

    All this hysteria over the ice, of course, also ignores the fact that Antarctic sea ice has been expanding, so that there is currently more sea ice globally than the 34-year average. But another dramatic consequence of the Arctic warming is the moving northwards of vast quantities of cod and other fish as their food becomes more abundant. This has allowed the Norwegians and Russians, who manage the fisheries in the Barents, to award themselves a cod quota this year of a million tons, doubtless bringing tears to the eyes of our British fishermen, allowed by the EU to catch just 10,000 tons in the North Sea. The fishermen of Norway thus have another reason to be grateful that their country never joined the EU, which would have made their waters, like ours, “a common European resource”, administered by hapless Brussels bureaucrats. Doubtless they would somehow have made as much of a mess of managing this natural bonanza as they have of everything else they touch.”

    [Response: I have no idea where the source of the Drinkwater quote is (anyone?), but the idea that Arctic sea ice in the 1920’s or 1930’s was anything like as low as it is now is laughable. There were no Northwest passage crossings in under three weeks in sailboats, and news stories from the 1920’s (e.g. from MWR in 1922) speak of amazement at reaching latitudes (81º 29’N) that are now commonplace and greatly exceeded in the same areas today. – gavin]

  82. KR:

    JCH – With increased wind-driven downwelling, and very importantly upwelling of cooler deep waters, the sea surface temperature can indeed remain steady or even cool with an ongoing increase of total OHC. An increase in SW is not required – I don’t see any contradiction at all.

    In fact, such increased circulation, by maximizing the top of atmosphere imbalance with cooler air, speeds total climate warming and acts to (slightly) decrease the time constant of approach to equilibrium with any particular forcing imbalance.

    Not that this helps much, with continuing GHG increases continuing to increase forcings…

  83. wili:

    At #72, Martin Vermeer wrote: “…we’ve got relatively high extent, by recent standards, a strikingly cold Arctic by recent standards, and we’ve also got a meandering jet stream. But it’s complicated…”

    I was wondering about the same thing. Is this year’s relatively cold Arctic but still wavy jet stream a major challenge to Francis’s theory? Perhaps the change in albedo over land from snow loss plays/can play a bigger role that expected? Or was that part of the theory in the first place? Complicated, indeed!

    Any light anyone could throw on any of this would be most welcome.

  84. Hank Roberts:

    > That HAS TO mean …. here has to be …. If combustion stops …

    Well, Dr. Archer looks in here occasionally, perhaps he’ll comment.
    Does ‘combustion’ refer only to burning fossil carbon, as you use the word?

  85. Chuck Hughes:

    I don’t know who Ken Drinkwater is but Pete Best was the first drummer for the Beatles who was fired and replaced by Ringo. I think that pretty much explains the comment.

  86. Marco:

    Gavin @81: the Drinkwater quote comes from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100505092525.htm
    and is followed by a classic Booker misrepresentation. Booker makes it sound as if Drinkwater mentions significant ice melting in the 1920s and 30s, but he doesn’t. That is just Booker’s own imagination running wild.

  87. Chuck Hughes:

    @71. Thanks again Kevin. Great article. Bookmarked and saved.

  88. Killian:

    Thomas said Also some power -probably including solar, but certainly the case for wind and most hydro and geothermal has considerable efficiences that accrue from the scale of the facilities. I believe this will the case with storage as well. Large facilities which require high tech management are likley to provide the cheapest bulk storage.

    The mistake here is in assuming the dominance of efficiency. Extreme efficiency has been encouraged primarily due to the interest in controlling costs of production, but has spread to every facet of society. The problem with efficiency is fragility. With a system that is failing at every level, greater efficiency is a grave mistake.

    The systems you want to be building are both efficient and robust, thus resilient. Natural systems do this in a very simple way: connections. Permaculture simplifies this to making sure every element in a system supports two or more functions, and every function supports two or more elements. And the more connections the merrier.

    Now, one reason a distributed grid is better than the mega-grid we have now is because it is anything but redundant. A failure in one piece of the system can throw entire regions into darkness, as we have seen multiple times. With every home/building or community separable from the system, this can never happen.

    Also grid connected storage is likely to be able to find more customers per Kwhour of capacity
    if it is connected to broad based grid.

    While I understand the focus on money, the fact is the ecosystem, thus every system, is failing. The longer we remain concerned with profit as the primary factor, we cannot create a sustainable system. The need for customers is directly tied to needing profit. But what if you didn’t need profit, could generate electricity for the grid and still live just fine?

    You will scoff perhaps, but this is one of the great challenges of sustainability: shifting to a non-profit-based economics. The best time to make the shift is now. The second-best is tomorrow. And so on and so on.

    Since this is not happening today or tomorrow, how do we build resilience and eliminate the profit-based grid at the same time, with little or no disruption? Massively distributed grid. Let the builders of systems be where the profit goes. Nationalize the large utilities, if necessary, to eliminate the profit need.

    Eventually you will be left with a massively distributed system and a minimized backbone, with the one owned by individuals and communities and the other owned by all of us – perhaps a national co-op?

    Ah, but! What of the level of need? That is the mistake in your thinking. Anyone planning a future grid that supports the same kWhs we use now is failing to understand how dire our resource limits are, and more so, how dire the climate issue is. By one count I have done, we may be six bifurcations into this phase change. Take a look at a graphic of bifurcations and see where that leaves us!

    Consumption must drop across the board, and not just a little. A more conservative, BAU-greenwashed view is we need to cut it in half, and we’ll be fine. This is naive. Such assessments rarely look at all resources in favor of those they think to be primary. The problem, of course, is Liebigs Law of the Minimum, aka the weakest link. With a system as complex as the ecosystem, assuming we know which critical elements are which is a very, very dangerous game to play and the chances of us being correct with all of them are vanishingly small. E.g., a paper just came out about soil microorganisms in which two primary organisms exist in the soil, one found in drier soils and one found in wetter soils. The expectation is that the one is going to take a lot of territory from the other as the planet warms.

    What the heck is that gonna do?! Yikes! Take the wolf out of Yellowstone and the trees along the creeks disappear, and the cascade continues right down through the food chain and you eventually are left with a very different ecosystem.

    Lets not let our desires for better social organization trump our engineering and economic judgement. We already have a society and political system.

    No, let’s do. The social and political systems we have cannot generate a sustainable future because their bases are the opposite of sustainable, being based solely on growth and profit. Rather, let us not let the thinking that got us here not keeping from moving past this grave threat to the biota of the planet. I remind you of what Einstein and Fuller said, respectively: You can’t solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it and don’t fight an old paradigm, build a better one and let the old one fade away.

    “Lets do our level headed best to cut the size of the needed investment to the minimin. Only in this way can we minimize the net carbon emissions during the transition.

    Rather, let us gain a resilient energy system while minimizing our consumption. The saving with dropping consumption to (hopefully) sustainable levels is orders of magnitude greater than building a more efficient super-grid. There is no reason for any home to need more than a 1 kw system, but we can put a 5 kw combo system and/or community-based system on every household in the country for 500 billion, and we can do it by simply using the cap and dividend to fund it over the next five to ten years.

    If we really wanted to push it, we could build out the entire nation’s distributed system in five years. Have the gov’t fund it and the people pay it back via cap and dividend.

    If you want to make it cheaper still, have an assessment process that scales the size of the system to the home/community. Again, no home needs more than 1 kw, we can fund 5kw easily, but a nice median of 2 or 3 per would do just fine.

  89. Killian:

    51 Hank Roberts said, “If any of the proponents were serious about avoiding the problem they’d be urging spending money to manage the CO2 produced by selling the methane.”

    Let me get this straight, there’s been no new info on methane since 2011? I guess discovery of km-wide plumes last year was everyone’s imagination. As for Archer, I can’t think of someone I’d be less likely to recommend on CH4.

    Let’s look at the fact so far:

    – thermokarst lakes tripled from around 2000 – 2007. No update yet.
    – the largest seeps of sea bed CH4 go from tens of meters to a km in size.
    – CH4 has nearly tripled since pre-industrial from 700 to almost 2000 now, including resuming growth in 2007, which is curious correlation with the first truly alarming Arctic melt, which we know has an effect over 900 miles inland from the ocean.

    Sure. I believe you. Nothing to see here.

    I e-mailed with a scientist back in ’07 or ’08 on this issue and was told the seabed CH4 coulod not possibly start melting till around 2100.


    We have very warm water making its way to the seabed. Sanguine is not a good approach.

  90. Hank Roberts:

    > I guess discovery of km-wide plumes last year was everyone’s imagination.

    In fact, you can look it up. The source is repeated repostings of a newspaper story, as though it were happening again and again. It hasn’t happened yet.

    Do look it up.

  91. Kevin McKinney:

    #83–wili, those were my words, not Martin’s! I’m sure he has enough to worry about without having to take the rap for my thoughts! ;-)

    #85 & 87–Ta, Chuck, glad you liked it. Don’t worry about *this* Pete Best (or should I say ‘pete best’); he’s a regular who was basically tossing Gavin a softball.

    #79–Dave, I’ve stayed out of the ‘outgassing’ discussion because, frankly, l don’t know much about it. But here’s what baffles me about your idea: AFAIK, combustion co2 fluxes are a small fraction of the total. If that’s correct, then the ocean should ‘see’ a relatively small change from their crssation. Which makes it a puzzle to me why such a drastic change as you describe would be expected. (I read your explanattion, but don’t, I must admit, follow your logic.)

  92. Kevin McKinney:

    Further to my comment above on ‘outgassing,’ this RC post makes more sense on the issue to me:


    There’s a relevant paragraph about five or six paras in.

  93. PatrickF:

    #89-Killian “- the largest seeps of sea bed CH4 go from tens of meters to a km in size”, could you please give a source relating this plumes of methane to current manmade warming? Iirc, it is rather a response to the last ice age, thought it might have been amplified by human activities (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011JC007218/abstract)

  94. Kevin McKinney:

    #81–Brooker had to pick his moment to claim a positive global SI anomaly: it’s already back in negative territory again, as 2013’s Arctic resumes post-normal melt rates:


  95. Jim Larsen:

    Kevin M linked to RC’s “Climate Change Commitments”

    The post focuses on CO2 instead of temperature, so it neglects aerosols by design. Cease combustion and we’ll immediately warm up even as CO2 levels start to fall.

  96. Patrick 027:

    re 25 Thomas (tried to post this a few days ago but it wouldn’t take)- in Secular Animist’s link in 19, they talk about resiliency, extreme weather, and the ability to connect or disconnect to keep a power supply.

    I get the impression (though I’m not sure) that the point is: for example: a home with PV – they can take and give energy from/to the larger grid; the larger grid provides an AC frequency and phase which the inverter must match. If the power on the larger grid is cut, there are reasons you might not want that house’s PV supply getting onto the grid while they’re trying to get the larger grid working again. By being able to disconnect until the larger grid is up again, that single home may not have the benefits of transmission and storage and a variety of sources (during a time period when they may not be available anyway), but at least they can have some power in the daytime to do some things (or if they have a small battery, they know they have a few minutes to wrap things up on the computer, build up some cold with the AC one last time, etc.). For large scale disruptions, substitute local community for single home in the example.

    re 88 Killian – sustainability would appear to require no growth – well, at least not greater than that which approaches some asymptote. Materials within some *depth and height limit of the Earth’s surface* are limited (setting aside accumulation of meteorites and meteor dust and geologic recycling with the Mantle, etc.). However, I’m not sure you can pin $ amounts to physical limits quantitatively and precisely for all time; can one even tie down how much value inflation-adjusted $ amounts represent? (see the quality of life stuff at the end of
    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/04/economist-meets-physicist/ ; also consider potential future human evolution, etc. Maybe there is an absolute limit, but I’m thinking we could never reach it before the Universe goes dark. ie. growth may continue forever (theoretical limits – no apocalypses) simply because we can’t grow fast enough to reach the limit :) ??? )

    But any trade should be profitable (net basis, ideally considered effects over time). You wouldn’t spend money on something if you got more out of keeping your money than on the thing you buy (etc. for the seller, and so on up and down the market web; ideally diffuse pollution would be covered by Pigovian taxes (and related tariffs, etc.) while the outlawing of more concentrated dumping of undesirables would shape the market in that way). And regarding the public side, replace ‘spend money’ with ‘paying taxes’, etc. (and ‘you’ with ‘the people’). ie we should take actions that have a net benefit, not a net cost (applies to end-use if the direct end-use benefits are included – ie the dopamine I get from listening to a good song, etc.). This may not be what is meant by ‘profit’ in many contexts but I’d expect the profit motive still would make sense even in a steady state economy, for the same reasons (even if average profits shrink, economic success (such as that which would attract investment) could be measured as a deviation from that average). I actually suspect this is too simplistic, but why not use math as the key: if inflation goes to zero, just drop interest rates accordingly, etc. (If deflation is large enough, you could even have negative interest rates. As long as you lose more just holding on to your money than you do in the bank, the system would still work, wouldn’t it?)

    The law of the minimum is a tricky thing when you can use more energy to get stuff out of less concentrated ores, thus putting it back on energy as the constraint – makes sense as long as the ores are not sources of energy (and they largely wouldn’t be) (and at least one kind of energy supply could at least hypothetically be a source of some materials, though I don’t know any specifics). (PS Aluminum ore is enriched only a little relative to average rock, so I’m not worried about that element, at least). Though of course if we can use our waste streams as ores, that would be good.

    I won’t say any more about that here (we really aren’t supposed to).

  97. Russell:

    Some twits antedate Twitter.

    If Christopher Booker’s pontification has lately become as much an embarassment to The Spectator as the Torygraph, it is because the Lawsons’s minions have been chewing on his ear.

    While the Global Warming Policy Foundation is Lord Lawson’s creation, his son Dominic Lawson is both former editor of The Spectator and brother-in-law of the egregious Viscount Monckton.

  98. Patrick 027:

    (If deflation is large enough, you could even have negative interest rates. As long as you lose more just holding on to your money than you do in the bank, the system would still work, wouldn’t it?) – something’s not right there – okay, I see the problem, it wouldn’t work, never mind.

  99. Patrick 027:

    re 54 doug, 70 prokaryotes –
    There isn’t, so far as I know, any reason that a sufficiently broad and imprecise characterization of atmospheric circulation wouldn’t continue to apply – there should continue to be an extratropical eddy-driven jet and storm track. I recall reading something by Tapio Schneider (et. al.? sorry it’s been awhile and I’m typing on the fly – try looking at 2006 publications) that suggested or stated that, given Earth’s rotation rate, etc, there is more than enough room for one such jet in each hemisphere, and even (almost) room for two in the winter (sometimes??). If a second one squeezes in, would that keep them locked in place? With only one, that extra room perhaps allows for greater variability – with the Hadley cell expanding, would that variability be reduced? However, variability in the sense of shifting north and south is distinct (though not causally isolated, I’d expect) from meandering… Is there any amount of warming that could destroy the polar jet entirely (prior to boiling oceans) or does the momentum constraint on the Hadley cell prevent that?

    I’m only on p. 7/23 (I had set all this aside for several months) of
    Butler, Amy H., David W. J. Thompson, Ross Heikes, 2010: The Steady-State Atmospheric Circulation Response to Climate Change–like Thermal Forcings in a Simple General Circulation Model. J. Climate, 23, 3474–3496.
    doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/2010JCLI3228.1
    http://www.atmos.colostate.edu/ao/ThompsonPapers/Butleretal_JClimate2010.pdf , but just from the abstract, it seems that effects of AGW push the jet in opposing directions. If sea ice and seasonal snow loss are concentrated into a particular time period, then maybe, up to the point when we start losing a lot of snow and ice, the jet will shift poleward, then it shifts equatorward as we rapidly lose snow and ice, and then it continues to shift poleward after that winds down and the tropics keep warming (in any given season, this could happen at different points in time).

    The greater meandering makes sense given decreased equatorward temperature gradient with all other gradients and surface pressure gradients the same (but they won’t be the same necessarily).

    Changes in meandering could also be related to the change in wind speed affecting which wavelengths resonate more or less with the topography and thermal forcing pattern.

    But I have gotten the impression that the tropopause level winds should strengthen (because of the increase thermal gradient higher up in the troposphere).

  100. Patrick 027:

    … oh, if the tropopause level winds strengthen while the mid-troposphere and surface winds decrease, then perhaps there’d be a greater change in the refractive index (of quasi-stationary and other Rossby waves) with height in the upper troposphere (although that depends on other things too). Would there be some increased downward partial reflection of these waves then? … Well I’m done speculating for now.

  101. prokaryotes:

    Does Sea Ice loss create the condition for an emerging permanent El Nino state? http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/07/does-sea-ice-loss-create-the-condition-for-an-emerging-permanent-el-nino-state/

  102. Hank Roberts:

    > Let’s look at the fact so far:
    > …
    > – the largest seeps of sea bed CH4 go from tens of meters to a km in size.

    Don’t be fooled, that one is a classic.

  103. Chuck Hughes:

    Louise Leakey puts human existence in context and asks, “Can our species hold it together?” In this talk she explains why it IS possible for humans to survive as well as why we may not. What she says at the very end is, I think, telling:


  104. patrick:

    @81 This fits the bookish Booker like a glove:

    ‘Modes of natural climate variability are those forces of nature by which people who know nothing about natural modes of climate variability can explain everything.’

    The origin of this paraphrase is given in “Warming, interrupted…(raypierre 12 July 2009):


    Raypierre’s post would be a fine place for Booker to begin his study of climate science–because clearly he has yet to begin.

    I ‘m pessimistic that Booker is capable of studying anything without opining about it first. But everybody’s got to start somewhere, so here’s his chance.

    It seems he is a student of polly-sci: pollyanna-, parrot-, and the other thing.

    2) The planet is complex but finite. Latitude fails a fish around ninety degrees north. Going north ends there. So what’s a poor cod to do? Where does it end?

    Booker says the cod bonanza in the Barents Sea–painful for British fishermen–is a “dramatic consequence of Arctic warming.”

    But he doesn’t get the point, namely: the world one planned on–and likely engineered for–is not the world one gets in an excessively warming world.

    The consequences of that tend toward making fish of men.

  105. patrick:

    @45 “Excellent” is the word. Aside from needlessly loud lightning and thunder effects, the Australian ABC science video you’ve linked is state-of-the-art on extreme weather events and wastes no time. Thank you very much.

    The people, the info, and the edit are thoroughly compelling, without the general geophonics overboost.

  106. Complex guy:

    #76 Hank Roberts – Yeah Wasdell does work with Al Gore far as I can tell, although I cannot find the source anymore, so don’t take my word for it. Anyway, you think his new paper is as bad as his old one or slightly better?

  107. Ken Drinkwater:

    The article by Christopher Booker of the Telegraph entitled “Panic over Arctic ice – what else can the warmists get wrong?” published 8 July 2012, in which he quotes me to support his views, is a misrepresentation of my views. He does not state where he obtained his information but it might have been from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100505092525.htm in which I was discussing the increase in the abundance of Atlantic cod in the Barents Sea and its relationship to sea temperatures from studies we had conducted, or in Drinkwater (2011, Progress in Oceanography 90, 47-61). In both articles, my comments focussed upon the Barents Sea and not the Arctic Basin. Our studies did indicate that much of the heat entering the Barents Sea in recent years was advected in by the inflow of warm Atlantic Waters and although direct warming through air-sea heat exchanges no doubt occured, it appeared not be the dominate process at the time of our studies. This increase in heat led to the melting of the sea ice. I did NOT dismiss “the idea that the ice is melting because of any rise in global temperatures” as Mr. Booker claims. One of the reasons that more heat is being transported into the Barents Sea is because of the general rise in temperatures within the Atlantic waters. Increased melting of sea ice did occur in the 1920s and 1930s in the Barents Sea (Ifft, Monthly Weather Review, November, 1922, p. 589) and over the Arctic Basin (Ahlmann, 1949, Rapports et Proces-Verbaux des Revions du Conseil International pour l’Exploration de la Mer 125, 9-16) but it was much less so than in recent years. I did NOT state that ice melted more in the 1920s and 1930s than in recent years as Mr. Booker claims. Mr. Booker has a duty as a journalist to ensure he his facts correct.

  108. Bojan Dolinar:

    Regarding #81 and Gavin’s comment. Some contrarians go as far as citing Fram’s Farthest North record. This famous ship got as far as 85° 57′ in 1893!


    Of course, it’s easy to check how exactly Fram got that far. :)

  109. SteveF:

    @ Gavin

    “I have no idea where the source of the Drinkwater quote is (anyone?)”

    It comes from this press release:


    [Response: Thanks. Much more sensible. – gavin]

  110. Lawrence Coleman:

    I have read many many reports over the years on which emissions rates we have to adhere to to meet this or that arbitrary target, the current report is from the uni of bern which says we have to double our efforts to keep below 2C blah..blah.
    In virtually all these reports it seems to me they are basing their estimations on linear rates, linear rates of CO2 sequestration, linear rates of CO2 reduction, linear rates on temp increase, etc. When ever does nature work in a linear fashion??… quite rarely! Such as steadily lowering our CO2 emissions by say 25% over 20 years. What CO2 forcing is yet to occur over the next 20 years?, how many tipping points will we pass beyond? How will an ice free arctic for increasing months of the year affect that ‘linear’ scenario?. It will take only 1.5C since pre industrial or right now only 0.8C additional warming to completely melt the Greenland ice cover and all the arctic permafrost..this will no doubt take on a very non-linear pattern. So to me all these predictions based on linear extrapolations are pretty well meaningless. Look at the graph at CO2 vs Temp over the last 650,000 years and see that global temp is poised to go through the roof like a 4th July rocket. All these reports study but just tiny parts of the stupendously intricate jigsaw puzzle that is our biosphere web. This is the great strength and simultaneously the great weakness in the scientific method. We need a science to make sense of the entire web using all the little disparate pieces of info we have to date. Please don’t tell me thats the politicians task..or I’ll choke on / or weep into my coffee..one of the two.

  111. Kevin McKinney:

    #95–“Kevin M linked to RC’s “Climate Change Commitments”

    “The post focuses on CO2 instead of temperature, so it neglects aerosols by design. Cease combustion and we’ll immediately warm up even as CO2 levels start to fall.”

    Yes, Jim–I linked that article because we were talking about “CO2 instead of temperature.” (Specifically, whether ceasing combustion would provoke outgassing of CO2 from the oceans.)

    Personally, I don’t follow Dave Peter’s argument as to why it should, and was pointing to work seeming to be more in line with–no, strike that, “work which helped to form”–my understanding (such as it is ) of the issue.

    Since I seem to be commenting on this issue once again–and since I am now at my computer listening to birds sing, rather than hunched over my tablet being bombarded by 110 dB of Indian pop music (gratuitous sharing!)–perhaps I’ll expand on my questions a bit.

    Dave wrote:

    Lets start with Dr. Archer’s assertion that a pound or so of every gallon’s worth of carbon stays in the air until ocean-bottom geochemistry removes it on multi-millennial time scales. That HAS TO mean terrestrial processes (e.g., forgetful squirrels burying acorns) would be ineffectual, in pulling CO2 out of the air.

    That seems a bit of a non-sequitur to me, in the sense that it ignores time scales, despite using the term. I would think that while the ‘ocean-bottom geochemistry’ is the only major long-term sequestrator, over time scales of a few centuries terrestrial processes can in fact be significant. (Dr. Ruddiman would certainly assert that to be the case; and so would the good folks who designed the REDD mechanism to try to reduce deforestation with the goal of mitigating CO2 increases. Etcetera.)

    The point being that when we consider the immediate effects of ceasing combustion, annual to century time scales are much more relevant than millennial ones.

    To put a little quantitative flesh on this, I found the following simple article on the carbon cycle:


    From it, I summarize the various fluxes involved:

    Uptake—92; Outgassing—90.

    *Plant respiration—60
    *Soil respiration—60
    *Fossil fuel combustion—6
    *Deforestation and land use change–.9
    Total emissions: 127

    Grand totals:

    (All numbers represent Pg carbon.)

    Are we really to believe that ocean outgassing would suddenly increase by more than 6 Petagrams per year for no obvious physical reason? OK, if you consider Jim’s point–ie., a sudden drop in aerosol burden, which should induce warming–there could be a some sort of “spike,” but how long and how drastic could that effect really be? Considering that Pinatubo eruptions are ‘history’ after a couple of years, perhaps that suggests a similar time frame for the opposite effect that Jim mentions.

  112. Hank Roberts:

    > Wasdell
    You’d have to check his cites. I’ve gotten burnt out on checking the assertions at Climate Worrisome blogs, though we need to keep doing it.

  113. Hank Roberts:

    Eric’s inline response to a much earlier question
    1 Jul 2013 @ 5:06 PM
    to Hobbs and Willis 2013 — about reconciling the radiation budget — is a good answer; the link in the inline reply didn’t work but this the abstract:

    Detection of an observed 135 year ocean temperature change from limited data
    William R. Hobbs, Joshua K. Willis
    21 MAY 2013
    DOI: 10.1002/grl.50370

    (Aside — dating the inline responses might be helpful as sometimes they happen a few days after the original question; having them called out in the sidebar does help notice them, but they can still get missed easily. And they’re _very_ helpful.)

  114. Rattus Norvegicus:

    For some reason your site thinks that Chrome version 27.0.1453.116 m which is a desktop browser is a mobile browser. That just started happening this morning, it was working fine about 9:00am broken at 10:30.

  115. prokaryotes:

    Updated my post from #101 with some more recent study paper. Though it turns out the data is not yet conclusive enough to tell how “El Nino/ENSO” will behave under projected climate change. But because oscillation is such a big part the jet stream might contribute through various teleconnections.

    El Niño and Southern Oscillation (ENSO): A Review (May 2012)

    The tropical eastern Pacific SST trend may be also caused by the Atlantic warming (Kucharski et al., 2011) through the mechanisms of the Walker circulation across equatorial South America or inter-basin SST gradient and ocean dynamics…

    Neither climate models and observations nor proxies provide a conclusive answer on whether ENSO is going to become stronger or weaker as the tropics warm up in response to increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs). Climate change simulations coordinated by the CMIP3 simulate a wide range of responses from weaker to stronger. Whether ENSO has changed due to recent observed warming is also controversial according to the observational record (e.g.,Trenberth and Hoar,1997; Harrison and Larkin,1997; Rajagopalan et al.,1997). For these reasons, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report(AR4) concluded that there is no consistent indication of discernible changes in ENSO amplitude in response to increasing GHGs (Meehl et al.,2007; Guilyardiet al., 2009). http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/cdeser/Docs/submitted.wang.enso_review.pdf

  116. Dave Peters:

    C02 lifetimes (re: #’s 91, 84 & 77)

    Kevin—I would offer the suggestion to you, that your words rather aptly describe the reasoning I referred to (@ 59) as a “fog” which deceived the best minds in atmospheric science up until Roger Revelle’s moment of epiphany. Whatever the interpretive nuances captured since, and I certainly am not dismissive of their import, it was this single realization that raised the curtain on the whole of modern assessment of CO2. So, not “my idea”. Should our activities scarcely be “seen” by the oceans, how could we be modifying their pH?

    Hank—I am far more interested in “analysis sales”, than analysis, generally. Strive for compelling intuitive sensibility, without sacrifice of integrity to the known truth. I believe we owe the common citizen an understandable portrayal of the “thermal endowment” he bequeaths to posterity—not as a flyspeck upon the whole of the world, but personalized to the scale of the individual. As for natural fire, I made my comment off the cuff, conveying a thirteen year old memory, without considering your issue.

    Thomas—It’s that tight, initial coupling with one-year half-life, that is supportive of the notion that our witnessing the World absorb every other unit train out of Gillette, is in essence, an illusion. Stop feeding the atmosphere train loads, and its oceans will quite soon stop swallowing that carbon.

  117. Hank Roberts:

    Aside also — if there’s a way to keep Google from indexing the “Recent Comments” links in the right sidebar — which show up in Google searches — it’d be a blessing. The results are redundant now. Over time they’d drop out of search results so the results would find the actual item but not the many pointers to it created every day.

  118. Hank Roberts:


    And re

    > intuitive sensibility, without sacrifice of integrity to the known truth.

    er, what?

  119. flxible:

    re Hanks suggestion @ 117, the standard protocol for search spidering exclusion is the robots.txt file, which probably could be implemented here

    CAPTCHA agrees: sense Pleasdat

  120. Hank Roberts:

    > Roger Revelle’s moment of epiphany

    Say what? Surely not
    “… I think my proudest moment was when I obtained a small boat operator’s license and became part-time captain … ” Roger Revelle, 1909-1991),” EOS: Transactions-American Geophysical Union 72, no. 30 (1991): 313.

    Got a cite for that epiphany? Surely he published.

  121. Dave Peters:

    Hank (@ 121)


    I think this covers his “after-thought”, where he appended the key insight in pencil to the paper published. What he did, though, was scrape up funds for what (Keeling) evolved into Mona Loa.

  122. Kevin McKinney:

    #116–“Should our activities scarcely be “seen” by the oceans, how could we be modifying their pH?”

    Indeed, and I have a thought on that–more on that momentarily. But weren’t you the guy saying that terrestrial processes can’t be significant for removal of CO2 from the air? Wouldn’t a negative flux amount be comparable in a way to a “removal?”

    So how can a 3% change in net flux–which will take a while to significantly alter the partial pressure of CO2? Your words, sadly, leave me in the same ‘fog’ I was already inhabiting–apparently.

    On ‘our’ activities–the integral, not the flux?

  123. Kevin McKinney:

    Argh–sentence got chopped somehow:

    “So how can a 3% change in net flux from land into the atmosphere–which will take a while to significantly alter the partial pressure of CO2–cause a “significant” and nearly instant change in the flux from ocean into the atmosphere?”

    After all, that 6 Pg corresponds to a concentration change of about 2 ppm yearly–.5%.

    I find the reference to Revelle rather puzzling as well. As I understand that part of the story, Revelle had thought that oceanic uptake was sufficiently rapid as to prevent rapid growth of atmospheric concentrations. With the Bolin & Erikson study, it became clear that this was not the case, and Revelle was provoked to his famous remark about the “vast geochemical experiment.”

    So the whole point was the slowness of oceanic uptake. But that would imply that the ocean is quite a ways ‘behind’ the atmosphere–ie., well out of equilibrium. That in turn would suggest to me that smallish negative changes in pCO2 would be less, not more likely, to provoke a sharp change in net ocean-atmospheric CO2 flux in the event of an end to combustion-related fluxes.

    Not trying to argue with you, Dave, but you have me sorely puzzled, for reasons that I’ve indicated (or tried to) in these series of comments. If you want to communicate your insight (to me at least), you’ve got to lay it out much more clearly and fully than you have so far, ’cause I’m just not getting it.

  124. Hank Roberts:

    Looking at http://www.aip.org/history/climate/Revelle.htm it seems to me hardly an epiphany, as it’s described there:

    . The key paragraph, the one that said seawater needed to absorb only about a tenth as much gas as a simple-minded calculation supposed, stood apart like an isolated thought. In the archives it is visibly an addition, Scotch-taped onto the original draft.(27*)
    Revelle did revise a curve in the paper that he had calculated for the future of atmospheric CO2, finding now that the concentration of the gas should be rising after all. But in this calculation he assumed that industry would emit the gas in future at the same rate as at that time. Few people yet recognized that population and industrialization were shooting up exponentially. So Revelle predicted CO2 would level off …

    I still the confusion maybe what you mean by “combustion” — do you mean solely fossil fuel burning?

  125. Thomas:

    I’d love to be a part of a society making that social/economic/political transition
    you advocate. How long do you think it will take? I think the climate will be shot, long
    before you get there. Thats why I make it a priority to reduce emissions as fast
    as possible in the near/intermediate term. I don’t even know if it is possible
    to create a society whose average member considers the good of the entire system
    before his/her own good. I’ve never even heard a political actor try to argue
    that way. They know it is foreign to 99% of the population. We have to reduce
    carbon with the political/ideological/pshycological population we have, not that
    we wish we could have if we could design it from scratch. I find it pretty
    discouraging, to think that the number of people who aspire to carbon intensive
    lifestyle, including such stuff as speedboats, yachts, offroad vehicles,
    patio heaters etc, greatly outnumbers the people who would voluntarily make the
    sort of changes you advocate.

    Even not considering profit, cost is central to the marketing of the energy
    transition. People just won’t give the needed level of support, if they think
    it is going to cost them or force them to give up their toys.

  126. Kevin McKinney:

    Hmm, more extreme precipitation, apparently. Never heard of this happening before, though perhaps long-term Torontonians can comment:


  127. Kevin McKinney:

    Toronto flooding story here:


    The climate connection is much debated in comments, as you can see.

  128. David B. Benson:

    Deserts ‘Greening’ from Rising Carbon Dioxide: Green Foliage Boosted Across the World’s Arid Regions
    In itself not a surprise but it is surprising that drought conditions do not more than offset this effect.

  129. Dave Peters:

    I briefly dipped into the buffering in 2000, and it is mind-numbing. Best left to experts, such as Dr. Archer. My reckoning back in 2000 found that it took six minutes and fifty-seven seconds for one pound of carbon, oxidized and airborne, to inspire the absorption of a single British Thermal Unit of infrared. At 146 BTU’s per day, it returns its chemical energy content in 137 days, or 0.375 years. [250 yr. / 0.375 yr. = 666]

    If Dr. Archer finds (as per noelfuller @ 34), with his knowledge of the buffering chemistry, that that pound will trap a hundred billion kilocallories per gallon (each with 2500 kcal of fuel value), he expects it to hang around for, on average, quite a spell. The point is, it seems to me, were that oceanic appetite anywhere near as ravenous as it appears to us, while we are FORCE-feeding it by the unit train, there could be no way that Dr. Archer could assess lifetimes in the tens of millions of years.

    I initially mentioned this subject, responding to Noel, because I distinctly remembering how dispiriting it was, as I struggled to absorb his point. Upon more reflection, I may have way overstated things, because the ocean is banking the great bulk of our combustion history, though it is definitely not creating CO2. Our squirrel, therefore, can of course sequester carbon. He must bury two acorns however, to undo our carbon use. One will deduct CO2 from the air, and the other will subtract carbon from the compensating ocean surface waters.

  130. Lawrence Coleman:

    I both support killians sentiments and Thomas’ timeframe. I have listened to tv panels discussing economic growth with the odd environmental scientist thrown in for good measure. Every time I listen to those panels I lose faith in humanity. The scientist invariably is talking to a brick wall of resistance, hostility and denial. The message is just NOT sinking in! Politicians are just interested in economic prosperity and if that means shovelling all the coal and gas out of the ground..so be it! Any threat to that status quo is ridiculed.
    Our future cannot be left to political forces!!!. We have to create a popular uprising using climate scientists and others such as celebs in the public arena and with an educated yet common touch get the message across. Yes in this matter I have completely lost faith in the political process as it will NOT achieve the required result in the required time (understatement of the millennium!)

  131. Kevin McKinney:

    #129–Thanks for your various responses, Dave.

    “I distinctly remembering how dispiriting it was, as I struggled to absorb his point…”

    >I can so relate, from various points in my erratic trajectory of learning about climate and weather.

    “…the ocean is banking the great bulk of our combustion history, though it is definitely not creating CO2.”

    >Makes sense to me. Let’s hope it’s able to keep ‘banking’ for a while yet!

  132. Radge Havers:

    Re: @130…

    Hedges quoting Melville:
    “The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run,” Ahab declares.

    We Are All Aboard the Pequod

    “If I had been downright honest with myself,” Ishmael admits, “I would have seen very plainly in my heart that I did but half fancy being committed this way to so long a voyage, without once laying my eyes on the man who was to be the absolute dictator of it, so soon as the ship sailed out upon the open sea. But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspicions even from himself. And much this way it was with me. I said nothing, and tried to think nothing.”

    We, like Ahab and his crew, rationalize madness. All calls for prudence, for halting the march toward environmental catastrophe, for sane limits on carbon emissions, are ignored or ridiculed. Even with the flashing red lights before us, the increased droughts, rapid melting of glaciers and Arctic ice, monster tornadoes, vast hurricanes, crop failures, floods, raging wildfires and soaring temperatures, we bow slavishly before hedonism and greed and the enticing illusion of limitless power, intelligence and prowess. We believe in the eternal wellspring of material progress. We are our own idols. Nothing will halt our voyage; it seems to us to have been decreed by natural law. “The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run,” Ahab declares. We have surrendered our lives to corporate forces that ultimately serve systems of death. Microbes will inherit the earth.

    Ishmael. See learned helplessness:

    It’s a pickle.

  133. Kevin McKinney:

    #130–“Our future cannot be left to political forces!!!. We have to create a popular uprising…”

    Er, that would be a ‘political force.’

    It may sound like a nit-pick, but I think there are consequences that arise from recognizing ‘politics’ as including a spectrum of activities, from conventional partisanship to radical issues-based action. Consider, for example, the level of activity that was necessary to oust the last two Egyptian presidents, versus the level of activity that was necessary to decide the last American election.

    Since the latter did not include prolonged occupation of public spaces on a massive scale, clashes with police and other security forces, or armed conflict between opposing mobs, I’d suggest that deciding an election–considerable though the effort may be–is ‘easier’ than creating a popular uprising.

    And call me naive, but I really think that if you can sustain the kind of activity that we saw in the Egyptian streets in any of the functioning democracies, you’d be getting some ‘love,’ at least, from some mainstream politicians. (As well as opposition, ridicule, intimidation and denunciation, of course.)

    So that brings us back to where we’ve been all along: the need to educate the widest public possible–something which many here are doing now, in one way or another, and in creating effective social networks of activists which can organize the kinds of activism that do draw political mojo. Probably more of us should be doing those kinds of things. (I’ve made some fumbling efforts in this direction, but need to do much, much better.)

    In other words, don’t kvetch–organize. Whether I’m right about the partial functionality of democratic politics or not, it’s what needs to happen. But better hope I’m right; otherwise the task is much harder.

    [Captcha says, provocatively but oracularly, “lyterm necessary.”]

  134. Kevin McKinney:

    More on the remarkable Toronto flooding event yesterday:


    Note point #1:

    1. Unusually high dewpoint air (high humidity) has been in place across the region with a tropical origin (direct from the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean).

    “Meandering jet stream,” anyone?

    The story also notes that the new precipitation record–126 mm–eclipsed the 1954 mark of 120 mm set when Hurricane Hazel passed over the region.

    Remarkable that a marine unit had to be called out to rescue 1,400 stranded light rail commuters trapped aboard a train still on the rails. Remarkable that rain caused power outages that affected 300,000 people overnight.

    And remarkable–and gratitude-inducing–that there were no reported fatalities.


    What a crummy time for NCDC to have discontinued the Global Hazards page! I’d like to have a good summary overview of global flood events over the year-to-date. With the German flooding, and some of the previous events this season, and of course the recent Calgary disaster, I get the impression of rather a lot of this going on just now. But subjective impressions, as we know, are often misleading.

    So, maybe we can crowd-source this a bit, since we have a global readership: what are nominees for exceptional flood events for 2013 so far?

  135. Kevin McKinney:

    For an example of the geographical bias I was concerned about, this flooding, which “more than 1,050 people died, thousands more went missing, and hundreds of thousands had their lives disrupted (mostly through the damage or loss of their homes)” was completely unknown to me.


  136. JCH:

    KR says: With increased wind-driven downwelling, and very importantly upwelling of cooler deep waters, the sea surface temperature can indeed remain steady or even cool with an ongoing increase of total OHC.

    KR – I agree, and that is what it is doing. But if it keeps doing it for a decade or more, politically BAU is locked in place. Nobody is going to enforce emissions cuts on themselves if the surface air temperature remains at a standstill.

    Conditions in the Pacific are leaning toward La Nina at the end of 2013/beginning of 2014.

  137. Chuck Hughes:

    @134 – Kevin, I like your idea. If you could place it in context with President Obama’s recent speech on Climate Change I think it would be quite informative for people like myself who do not have a science background and are trying to put it all together. I would like to know what impact, if any, the President’s actions might have on our current situation.

    I also personally know quite a few people up here who are still sitting on the fence about Climate Change simply because they don’t understand the science. They know things are changing but they just can’t bring themselves to utter the words, “Climate Change.” Even after their house has burned to the ground! The tourism industry is taking a big hit as well whether you’re talking about ski resorts or white water rafting, it’s having a serious impact.

    It’s not just the flooding but also the severe drought that has me concerned. I’m in Colorado and the last couple of Summers the snow pack in early June looks more like late August. The lows at night are only making it to the low 50’s or upper 40’s and I’m sitting at 9000 feet elevation. The night time lows have warmed up about 15 degrees over the last decade from what I can tell. No more need for a heavy coat or warm fire in the morning and of course the pine bark beetles are killing vast swaths of forest.

    I think if someone could address the “meandering jet stream” and it’s implications it would be helpful. Even a short youtube video would be great. Then you might be able to link it to a few other popular Climate sites. Just a suggestion. Thanks.

  138. Hank Roberts:

    > Nobody is going to enforce emissions cuts on themselves
    > if the surface air temperature remains at a standstill

    The phrase “devil-may-care” seems to refer to general carelessness, while “Apres moi le deluge” (originating with historical King of France Louis XV) seems to refer to a specific carelessness motivated by the fact that … the consequences have no effect on them. So, they can not exactly be used interchangeably

  139. Radge Havers:

    FWIW, in part, the efficacy of Obama’s plan depends on politics– which is, as you know, very squishy.

    Science Friday
    Obama and climate.
    With David Roberts of Grist:

    …FLATOW: Can he do this without the cooperation of Congress?

    ROBERTS: Yes, this is – I think the way to look at this plan is it’s sort of a canvas of what’s possible using the executive branch only. I think he has tried and tried with Congress, and it has become very clear that Republicans in Congress are totally unwilling to acknowledge the problem, much less do anything about it. So I think in that sense the document is remarkable in that it is really a thorough, a thorough sort of scan of the executive branch, how it engages with carbon and climate and tweaks in almost every part of it.

    So everything in the – nothing in the plan requires congressional action. So yes, theoretically it’s all possible.

    FLATOW: But there are no numbers in the plan.

    ROBERTS: Well, there are numbers here and there…

    …And that’s true of a lot of the pieces of the plan. The individual pieces are actually quite significant, but they’re sort of blurred together in this one big document.

    FLATOW: As someone who covers energy and climate change, was there anything left out that you expected to hear?

    ROBERTS: There was a big piece left out, although I expected it to be left out, and I just actually wrote about a post about this today. The big missing piece is coal in the Pacific Northwest…

    …It’s just sort of bureaucratic stuff that goes on within federal agencies, and so it’s a lot – in a sense it’s very difficult for the public to know it’s happening, which has its good and bad aspects. I mean, I think in one sense Obama wanted this plan to kind of come and go in the news cycle and not to be a big focus and not to draw a lot of attention because everything he’s doing he can do just fine without the public being involved or knowing and without Congress knowing or being involved. It’s just kind of puttering along behind the scenes.

    So, you know, it’s going to take some good reporting, I think, and journalism to really dig down into the bowels of the bureaucracy and make sure that this stuff is actually happening.

  140. Mal Adapted:


    I don’t even know if it is possible to create a society whose average member considers the good of the entire system before his/her own good. I’ve never even heard a political actor try to argue that way. They know it is foreign to 99% of the population. We have to reduce carbon with the political/ideological/pshycological population we have, not that we wish we could have if we could design it from scratch. I find it pretty discouraging, to think that the number of people who aspire to carbon intensive lifestyle, including such stuff as speedboats, yachts, offroad vehicles, patio heaters etc, greatly outnumbers the people who would voluntarily make the sort of changes you advocate.

    Seriously, why can’t we sell this stuff?

  141. Hank Roberts:

    From an email announcement of online learning stuff:

    The COMET Program is pleased to announce the publication of, “Nighttime Radiation and Cooling of the Lower Atmosphere”.

    … the lowest levels of the atmosphere cool down more slowly on humid nights than on dry nights. When the sky is cloudy we observe the atmosphere to cool even more slowly. Can longwave radiation fluxes alone explain these observations? This learning object uses a simple interactive model to demonstrate the role of radiation in nighttime cooling. As a short learning object, it is meant to supplement other teaching material in a course by elucidating a specific concept.

    By adjusting the emissivity and temperature of earth and atmospheric layers, the student can derive the role of radiation in nighttime cooling. A
    series of questions explore the effects of dry, humid, and cloudy conditions in the lower atmosphere.

    The intended audience for “Nighttime Radiation and Cooling of the Lower Atmosphere” is the novice meteorologist learning the fundamental processes in meteorology. The material is less than half an hour of exploratory content. Please follow this link to the MetEd description page that provides additional information and a link to begin: Nighttime Radiation and Cooling of the Lower Atmosphere

  142. WebHubTelescope:

    Chuck said:

    “I’m in Colorado and … sitting at 9000 feet elevation. The night time lows have warmed up about 15 degrees over the last decade from what I can tell.”

    Is that degrees F or C? If you can get instrumental records of that, it would be interesting to analyze.

    I am on a lapse rate kick right now, and am trying to interpret why the average 500mb geopotential height has increased more than expected. Is this evidence of the lapse rate feedback caused by increased moisture?

    To see my analysis, scroll down to the second half:


    The issue with all these analysis is that the dynamic range is not quite as good wide as we would like. I also had to use data from an uncited source.

  143. Kevin McKinney:

    #134–Thanks, Chuck.

    “If you could place it in context with President Obama’s recent speech on Climate Change…”

    I did something like that pre-election:


    Obviously, the landscape has shifted quite a bit since then, and in ways that my updates don’t fully address. A look at the speech and the current situation might have some value. Thanks for the suggestion.

    “I would like to know I would like to know what impact, if any, the President’s actions might have on our current situation.”

    I’d have to say, “none whatever.” Climate change scenarios to 2050 are not strongly affected by mitigation actions we undertake now, or so I have read. But scenarios to 2100 we still have considerable leverage over. So the question is, “I would like to know what impact, if any, the President’s actions might have on our kids’ future situation.

    I do have a couple of writing projects going which would look at contemporary impacts. If I can shake enough time free, then maybe…

  144. David B. Benson:

    Wildfires May Contribute More to Global Warming Than Previously Predicted

    Yes, its always more complicated.

  145. David B. Benson:

    Scientists Image Vast Subglacial Water System Underpinning West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier
    This article helpfully points out that West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is about the size of Florida.

  146. Hank Roberts:

    > subglacial water system

    And five or six years ago, this sort of thing well above sea level wasn’t thought likely to exist.

  147. Chuck Hughes:

    @ 142 – That temperature would be Fahrenheit. I think Ricky Rood at Weatherunderground.com who lives here has accurate records of the temperature data for this area. Of course Boulder, which is just down the canyon from me has a fairly high concentration of climate experts at the University of Colorado at Boulder as well at the Mountain Research Station

    I haven’t personally documented the changes over the years so my input is purely anecdotal at best but I’m fairly certain the night time temperatures have warmed considerably and I would imagine Ricky Rood could tell you a lot more about weather trends in this area. Here’s a link:


  148. MARodger:

    The recent monthly atmospheric CO2 figures are making me feel that there could be some change or other beginning to happen. Since 1958 the rate of increase of CO2 as a proportion of total emissions (inc land use change) has remained pretty constant between 40% & 50%. Without up-to-date emissions figures it isn’t possible to say if that has changed in any way. Yet the recent annual increase (2.7ppm pa averaged over the first half of 2013) is a lot higher than is normal outside an El Nino.

    I think this graph of annual increase (usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’) shows my concern in the last few months’ data points (red plot).
    Prior to the Pinatuba eruption in 1991 CO2 increases look quite well behaved – a reasonably steady rise. After Pinatuba the rise became muted and this can be explained by low growth in emissions through the 1990s and into the early 2000s and then a period dominated by La Nina. The CO2 growth rate could almost be seen as having suffered its very own ‘hiatus’ over the last half-dozen years so perhaps there is some ‘bounce back’ to be expected.
    My worry is that recent growth rates look too strong and have now gone on for too long to be just a ‘bounce back’. Of course the unreported emissions from the last couple of years could have mushroomed. But if not, my back-of-fag-packet calculations seem to indicate the ‘bounce back’ as being rather too big, and thus my concern.

  149. MARodger:

    The link to the graph that hopefully works.

  150. Hank Roberts:


  151. Hank Roberts:

    Two jet streams — every decade or so, more often during the winter:


  152. patrick:

    @144 Thank you very much. Here’s the abstract and the paper:


    The first story, from the article you’ve linked, is for climate modelers:

    “…measurements taken during the 2011 Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos National Laboratory show that the actual carbon-containing particles emitted by fires are very different than those used in current computer models, providing the potential for inaccuracy in current climate-modeling results.”

    “Tar balls” were found to be 10x more abundant than soot in the aerosols sampled–article.

    I would like to hear more comment about this.

    The electron microscope soot particle images are instructive for anyone studying aerosols.

    The second story is that this research on “‘tar balls’ in the sky” was accidental climatology, because of the proximity of the Las Conchas fire to Los Alamos.

    “Immediately after Los Alamos National Laboratory reopened to scientists and staff, the team set up an extensive aerosol sampling system to monitor the smoke from the smoldering fire for more than 10 days.”

    The general story is: “A range of fine carbonaceous particles rising high into the air significantly degrade air quality, damaging human and wildlife health, and interacting with sunlight to affect climate.”

    I always wonder about the secondary effects of smoke. It’s hard to believe ‘no one was harmed,’ even when that’s the story.

    Whether it’s wildfires; or the rainforests being torched; the black smoke of war; piles of weapons “destroyed” by being burned; or a tragedy like Lac-Megantic–the first thing that strikes me is, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls…”

    I remember a Russian astronaut doing his second orbital flight. Urbane he was not. They asked him what was different the second time around.

    He said: It’s darker now [the atmospheric horizon]. Too bad. We might want to stop and think about it.

  153. Hank Roberts:


  154. perwis:

    @149 MARodger RE: airborne fraction of CO2

    Have you seen the graph on the airborne fraction at James Hansen’s excellent graph page (no 16):

    It is only the 7 year mean, however.

    Recent papers i Nature CC discuss the development of the airborne fraction:
    Francey, R. J. et al. Nature Clim. Change 3, 520–524 (2013).
    Response by Raupach, M. R., Le Quéré, C., Peters, G. P. & Canadell, J. G. Nature Clim. Change 3, 603–604 (2013).
    Reply by:
    Francey et al. Nature Climate Change 3, 604 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1925

  155. patrick:

    Accidental climatology is an experiment or analysis one would not otherwise do. [compare: accidental epidemiology] It’s not merely happenstance. It takes improvisation, perspective, and maybe some insight from outside of/time-beyond the box. This is how the Russian astronaut was like the team in this study.

    If you tell me, “Soot particles are ‘fractal-like aggregates’ and their ensemble morphology can be characterized by analysing many individual aggregates using the following statistical scaling law,” (see study) and you graph the fractal dimension of compared soot particles–you’ve got my attention.

    Then I, like the rustic astronaut, am mildly in awe.

  156. Patrick 027:

    Re 151 Hank Roberts – thanks, that was interesting.
    The paper I had in mind: http://www.clidyn.ethz.ch/papers/annrev06.pdf (“Schneider, T., 2006: The general circulation of the atmosphere. Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 34, 655-688.” – linked (and reference quoted) from http://www.clidyn.ethz.ch/animations.html (go down to “Spinup of General Circulation”) – although I couldn’t (in a quick skim) find the statement I was remembering, maybe it was from somewhere else…

  157. Hank Roberts:

    > Hansen’s excellent graph page

    That just about tells the story, doesn’t it, just by pondering those graphs.

  158. MARodger:

    perwis @154.
    Yes. I have seen the Hansen graph before (fig 16 on the page you link). Its Airborne Fraction differs from my efforts at creating equivalent graphs due to Hansen not including Land Use Change emissions. Such inclusion reduces the AF% over the entire period by some amount. Also over recent years the Land Change emissions have dropped, resulting in the Airborne Fraction not showing Hansen’s recent decline if Land Use is included.
    That leaves the Pinatuba eruption as the major feature on the graph, the dip during the 1990s seen on the Hansen graph.

    The Francey paper is paywalled but its abstract doesn’t fill me with much ‘confidence’ in its findings & also now seeing its figures showing here I am less confident still.
    Therefore seeking out the Raupach response presents no surprises to me, nor the pantomime-esque abstract of the reply from Francey et al.
    It perhaps would be interesting to get a better grasp of what Francey et al think they are on about but they don’t help themselves – usually an abstract is not written to be so, what would you call it, abstract?
    And to make clear, my concern of the size of annual CO2 increases is only evident over recent months & doesn’t feature on these graphs discussed here.

  159. Killian:

    90 I guess discovery of km-wide plumes last year was everyone’s imagination.

    In fact, you can look it up. The source is repeated repostings of a newspaper story, as though it were happening again and again. It hasn’t happened yet.

    I think you mean it hasn’t been published to your specifications. I’ll be sure to let the Russian scientists and the U of A know they’ve been lying about their research.

    Ivory Tower loon.

  160. Killian:

    93 Patrick said, declaratively, it is rather a response to the last ice age while the abstract said, conditionally, is believed to be.

    And I repeat I was told in 2007 there would be no significant seabed hydrate emissions for 100 years. (I can search out and copy the e-mail if you like.) I said they’d be going long before that and, based on the permafrost, likely already were. Tomato, tomahto? Or another case of the science catching up to observations?

    You can be sanguine with the idea the increased river runoff, warm inflow of water from the Pacific and Atlantic, the inversion of water temp layers in the Arctic Ocean from melting ice, the ASI melt, the disappearing sea ice all mean the sea bed emissions are just because… but I I’d be tempted to move away from you for when the lightning strikes.

    Sometimes common sense is just good sense. But what is certain is being sanguine about clathrates is extremely poor risk assessment and makes for really, really dangerous policy.

    Me? I’m listening to the duck quack and not expecting to see a chicken. The science will catch up with the physical reality, I promise. It is doing so WRT to ASI, after all, no?

    This is a time in history to give more weight to the leading edge in discoveries rather than hang back and chat with the formerly standard.


  161. Killian:

    96 Patrick said …voodoo… But any trade should be profitable…

    Nooooope. Trade should be fair.

    …You wouldn’t spend money on something if you got more out of keeping your money than on the thing you buy…

    So sad, stuck on money. Can you eat money? No? Then ultimately not really important, is it? Don’t think about WHERE and WHEN you are, think in terms of where and when you will and must be. Yes,the transition is the trick, but understanding where you are going is the key. Backcasting.

    I’d expect the profit motive still would make sense even in a steady state economy, for the same reasons (even if average profits shrink, economic success (such as that which would attract investment) could be measured as a deviation from that average).

    ZzzZzzzzZzzzzzzz… huh… wha…? Oh. Alright, then… Uh, no. What is profit? It is getting more than you give. It is hoarding. It is imbalance. It is draining resources out of the system. It is accumulation of waste (resources lying around is waste – and money doesn’t count since it is an abstraction unless or until it gets back to directly representing real goods, at which time it returns to being a convenience rather than an end in itself.)

    why not use math as the key: if inflation goes to zero, just drop interest rates accordingly, etc.

    That’s not math, that’s voodoo. the economist has no clothes

    Patrick, if you are trying to understand sustainability via the standard economic models, you are already so far off in the weeds there is no hope of steering you back to the road. However, check out C.A.S.S.E. and Steve Keen.

    Profit is growth. Note I did not say “economic” growth, I said growth. You may wish to quibble here, but I really am… snore… not … snore… interested in this conversation yet again.

    Still… sigh…. they say we can use tar sands, shale…. this is… not smart. If I have to point out why on this blog, well, you don’t deserve the answer. Set aside the obvious however, and go look up fungibility. Apply it to oil. Then see what there is out there as fungible as oil. Wait, don’t bother. Your search ended without beginning: It doesn’t exist. Many implications due to this. Go find them.

    And, worse, are we in kindergarten or something? Growth is only about oil or energy? Did I not point out Liebig’s? Mm.. yup, I did.

    My favorite Liebig’s is… phosphorus. Starvation is not pretty. Easy to fix, but when I say “regenerative” around here, it doesn’t get me very far. Problem, that. Soo…. so long as it’s just me and my cohorts understanding what we must do to make phosphorus a non-issue…

    Sorry to be somewhat flippant, but listening to economists talk about sustainability is, for me, like listening to Monkton talk about climate.

  162. sidd:

    Box has updated albedo graf thru June at


    and at
    http://meltfactor.org/blog brings news of


    with daily (!) estimates of melt

    Go, Box, go!


  163. WebHubTelescope:

    Regarding the Airborne Fraction of CO2, I believe that this is a tricky characteristic to estimate. First, the amount airborne is a combination of FF carbon emissions plus any changes due to outgassing of CO2 from overall temperature changes (seasonal or otherwise). Second, the amount airborne due to emissions is an integral or more precisely a convolution of the yearly emissions with the sequestering response.

    That means to estimate the amount due to FF emissions requires us to either deconvolute the CO2 signal, or to convolve the FF emissions with the sequestering response (BERN model) and compared that to the CO2 signal. In the latter case, we also want to remove the seasonal temperature fluctuations.

    I figured out how to do the seasonal removal using regional SST data and came up with this residual fit.

    I did it for both the Mauna Loa and American Samoa CO2 measurements, and you can see how the perturbations of excess CO2 from the measurement trend match the estimated yearly carbon emissions rather well.

    I think everyone who does this gets a different profile because yearly changes are accentuated by differences between large numbers and that can get noisy and generate a drifting bias.

    Scroll to the bottom of this post to more details on what I tried to do:

    Bottomline is that the excess atmospheric CO2 is all from mankind’s fossil-fuel emissions, that I am convinced of.

  164. Kevin McKinney:

    “What is profit? It is getting more than you give.”

    Really? I thought it was getting paid for the value you add.

  165. Kevin McKinney:

    In the wake (I suppose that’s a lame pun) of the Toronto and Calgary flood events, Canadian MSM talks ‘adaptation,’ even if they don’t exactly use the term:


    Captcha seems to be talking attribution: “creadini causal.”

  166. patrick:

    From the 300 mb jetstream images, one could have seen the steeply looped flow of Gulf air up into Alberta at the time of the Calgary floods and got some idea of the fact that it dwelled unusually long. The 300mb jet image is always only one small factor in the puzzle of course–whether for the Calgary BC floods, the recent Moore OK hurricanes, or things to come.

    The images are in the crws archive.

    From the archive it’s easy to get 6-hour lapsed images of the 300 mb jet–and run them in sequence:


    For the most infamous hurricane, the image of a wide deep southward excursion at noon on the 20th of May is striking.

    For the floods, the sequence of images shows a steep loop–as if the 300 mb jet was a lasso being thrown straight north from southern CA–right over Calgary, or right around it.
    Follow the sequence starting 00hrs June 18. By June 19 the northward excursion (warm air behind it) is backing up on itself over Canada–so to proceed slightly west instead of east–to encircle a low pressure area over Alberta (as of noon June 20) inside of the northward loop of the jet. More or less.

    Current maps are linked at the top of the archive start page.

  167. Chuck Hughes:

    90 I guess discovery of km-wide plumes last year was everyone’s imagination.

    In fact, you can look it up. The source is repeated repostings of a newspaper story, as though it were happening again and again. It hasn’t happened yet.

    “I think you mean it hasn’t been published to your specifications. I’ll be sure to let the Russian scientists and the U of A know they’ve been lying about their research.”

    – Comment by Killian

    So I’m thinking the jury may still be out on this one? This is the video I saw that made me think this was a serious problem. I assume the scientists in this video are credible since one of them is Dr. James Hansen and another one is Dr. Peter Wadhams. the video is dated 2012 according to youtube so I’m not exactly sure when it was published. Maybe someone can help put it into context. Not that I trust everything I see on youtube but this sounded plausible to me but then of course I’m no scientist. Thanks


  168. Patrick 027:

    re Killian – “stuck on money.” – substitute a bartering system and it still makes sense – ideally you would trade to get more for less. In an instantaneous sense that would be true even if you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, but … (PS just to be clear about where I’m coming from – I think the hypothesis of an efficient market is good to keep in mind. I know real markets are not ideal (even setting aside simple cases of externalities like pollution), and even if they were, that wouldn’t address all issues – I still wouldn’t worship the Laizze Faire market like it’s God; however, I think it makes sense to take market economics and find bugs and apply patches, rather than to design an entirely different scheme – I don’t see why a zero net growth economy would have to be communist or feudal or whatever (not that you said any of those). Trade should be fair (sometimes the market should tend to make it so but sometimes it may not); but it should be profitable (in the broad wholistic sense I meant) too, or else what’s the point of any trade? – okay, if it’s a redistribution ‘share the wealth’ trade than it may only be profitable to one side and thus wouldn’t (be expected to) occur spontaneous… well I’m not going to go into every point here.) A sustainable economy would still have flows of goods and services being processed and exchanged to get some net benefit (at a bare minimum, the survival of some sustainable population – they need to keep eating, simply eating once won’t keep them and their children going indefinitely, and that’s the picture I had in mind. Maybe every meal is a profit, or maybe not, maybe it is only that portion of the meal (the good flavors, etc.) that are not strictly necessary for the consumer to provide labor in exchange… etc. The profit is what keeps this from being a dismal pointless rat race… and profit motive *ideally* makes it more efficient; getting more for less makes sustainability easier)

    and obviously I’m using profitable in a different sense than you, and that is probably because I’m not an economist, and my ‘voodoo’ (which I realized was erroneous (I put a + instead of – sign on something doing the mental math – silly arithmetic slip up) as shown by a subsequent comment) was a product of an open mind trying to be a creative problem solver (and I get some immunity for only being in the brainstorming phase), not a standard economic model, which I believe would have disagreed with me. Yes, I don’t know how things like student loans would work in no growth, but people would still invest in the future (they still raise children, that takes effort before payout)… I’m with you on the tarsands. And I also addressed an issue with Liebig’s – I don’t know to what extent it applies to P – which is also to say, I don’t know that it doesn’t – but of course, if we address pollution issues then wouldn’t we be recycling P more … etc.

    This is jumbled because I tried to be brief, though I could be briefer – you seem to have misjudged me – maybe it’s my fault for picking at an issue, but I agree with you more than you seem to think.

  169. Frank Grober:

    I like to point out the dozens to zero count of national science academies and major league scientific societies that say we have a problem with greenhouse gas emissions. There is polling that shows that this argument seems to work well with the politically conservative. Two common retorts are that the scientists are just saying it to get grant money and the statements are made by administrators and activists who are going against the wishes of some sort of “silent majority” of members. I can handle the first argument well by just showing how small a fraction of support for science comes from climate and green energy research and so on. I can speak to how things are done in a very few organizations from personal experience and conversations with friends, but it would be nice if I could find out how to do it for more organizations with easily accessible sources.

  170. Hank Roberts:

    > I think you mean it hasn’t been published to your specifications….
    > they’ve been lying about their research.
    > Ivory Tower loon.

    Killian, birdwatcher, reports in.

    No, I didn’t say the scientists were lying. You misrepresented what I said.

    I said you’ve reblogged a claim based on one 2009 news story, likely because you read one of many rebloggings and believed you’d seen news from last year.

    Cheer up. Things will get worse. The evidence will bubble up, eventually.

  171. Patrick 027:

    re Killian – clarifications and new thinking:

    When I said I wouldn’t talk about it anymore in my original response: 1. clearly that wasn’t true. Oops. – but 2. it wasn’t a ‘negative’ directed at you, but rather a ‘positive’ directed at the moderators. We aren’t really supposed to get into economics here. A little bit is tolerated but…

    More clearly delineating my points (with their weaknesses/caveats):

    Profit: setting aside matters of fairness, profit motive means trying to get more from/for less. Prima facie, that’s good. It suggests efficiency; do away with profit motive and expect waste. However, in my ‘meal’ example, that portion which is not strictly necessary to keep the system going – that’s a bit fuzzy. Happiness, after all, is part of the motivation for keeping everything going. Including the people, among all else, and a sustainable steady-state economy is ‘more of a closed loop’ (setting aside the streams of available energy and entropy coming in and out), there is no profit exhaust one sees from outside the system – it all gets put back in. But that really means that the system is not serving another purpose besides it’s own existence (either setting aside the niche in the global ecosystem, or include that within the system – of course there’s caveats and clarifications to make here, I can’t address them all…). I think when one is within the system one would perceive profits. When profits are spend or reinvested, are they no longer profits… (?) I guess it depends on how a system is defined (point of view)? I haven’t resolved this yet…

    Investment (I think you actually didn’t say anything about that but…) – a world without investment implies a world of instant gratification. I don’t think that’s what we want (well, we don’t want how that would end up). However, for the economy as a whole, in steady state, net investment should average to zero – which means that present investment inputs would be balanced by present returns from previous investments. The implications for banking, credit, stocks and bonds, lo-ans, etc, I don’t know.

    Okay, I’m really done – here, on this topic on this blog (because I don’t want the moderators to decide that for me (and because I have other things I need/want to do)…).

  172. Radge Havers:


    Um, maybe go to the root of the argument which would one of consensus among those who have earned their reputations with tested and proven skills, expertise, and knowledge…


  173. wili:

    For people who want to keep track of the most recent developments in Arctic methane, here is a new resource, soon to be up and running (thanks to A4R from Neven’s sea ice forums for the link):


  174. Kevin McKinney:

    Had a chance to return to the topic of the Indian floods that killed over 500 people last month. The ever-interesting Wunderground blog had this to say:

    According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Uttarakhand received more than three times (329%) of its normal June rainfall from June 1 – 21, and rainfall was 847% of normal during the week June 13 – 19. Satellite estimates indicate that more than 20″ (508 mm) or rain fell in a 7-day period from June 11 – 17 over some regions of Uttarakhand, which lies just to the west of Nepal in the Himalayas. Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, received 14.57″ (370 mm) of rain in 24 hours on June 16 – 17.

    I guess that would qualify as ‘extreme precipitation.’


  175. Kevin McKinney:

    Indian media are now reporting new fatalities as the intense monsoon rains create landslides. Santopanth glacier has melted sufficiently to create a lake, the formation of which is seen as a threat to communities downstream. This in turn has prompted an official alert:


    The reports are not very circumstantial WRT the extent of melt, nor how unusual this is.

  176. Kevin McKinney:

    Sorry, “Satopanth glacier.” It was blogged about in 2010:


  177. prokaryotes:

    The rise of digital currency like Bitcoin, and carbon footprints http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/07/the-rise-of-digital-currency-and-carbon-footprints/

  178. John Mashey:

    The NSF found clear proof of a long-time academic climate scientist on the “gravy train,” using financial chicanery to mis-use Federal funds. Unfortunately for those who claim this about honest scientists often, this one was one of theirs, see Murry Salby: Galileo? Bozo? Or P.T.Barnum?

    Actually, it illustrates a few ideas.
    First, the NSF and good universities try pretty hard to deal with funds mis-use.
    Second, neutrinos may not be faster than light, but foolishness can propagate across the Internet amazingly fast, especially with no error checking.

  179. Patrick 027:

    number of jets: related to what I remembered reading (but not = what I remembered reading) is at the bottom of p. 9 – top of p. 10 here: http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~dennis/JMSJ_125_Paper_070202.pdf (looks like the unpublished version – I think a published version is also available)

  180. Patrick 027:

    aha! p. 12 (of the aforementioned source) : “Because for Earth the midlatitude baroclinic zone is a bit wider than necessary for a single eddy-driven jet, the jet can move north and south within the baroclinic zone and this behavior arises even in simple models of the general circulation (Robinson 1991; James and James 1992; Yu and Hartmann
    1993; Lee 2005)
    ” …(and baroclinic eddies can act to reinforce these shifts)… but still no mention of two jets in winter (let alone summer)…

  181. Patrick 027:

    p.17 “Baroclinic wave energy also cascades to equivalent barotropic waves, which typically have lower phase speeds [I believe this refers to eastward propagation, relative to the surface] and so can exist and propagate in the weaker winds on the edges of the jet. The dispersion relation for these barotropic waves is such that they are refracted back into the jet and in so doing pump momentum out of the jet (Lorenz and Hartmann 2001). One can imagine then that a competition exists between high frequency eddies whose propagation out of the jet acts to strongly reinforce a jet, and low-frequency external modes that are refracted into the jet and thereby weaken it. The intensity and structure of eddy-driven jets are thus partly determined by a balance between the effects of baroclinic and barotropic eddies.” … it was stated prior that the eddies driving the jet could be expected to propagate away from the jet because that is where they are being produced. But I’ve been wondering – if you picture separate belts of varying PV gradients and winds, a westerly jet must be associated with a larger PV gradient and thus higher phase speed relative to the air, but the air is moving faster in the other direction; if there is some wavelength for which the two effects cancel, shorter wavelengths’ propagation ought to be more strongly affected by the wind and thus be deformed so as to tilt westward away from the jet, and this would make them propagate (group velocity) away from the jet, while longer wavelengths (or in three dimensions, less vertically-tilted waves with same horizontal wavelength – I think (?)) would be deformed by faster westward propagation within the jet and thus tilt the other way and be ‘pulled into the jet’ (group velocity)… however, this treats the wave within each belt as determining it’s own propagation, but neighboring belts would interact (the wind produced by the wave in the belt next to the jet would produce stronger PV anomalies within the jet than vice versa so … a constant wave structure might be maintained if the wave amplitude varies across regions of different PV gradients, I suspect (?)) … Well I guess I have to go read Lorenz and Hartmann now… (actually it will be later)

  182. Kevin McKinney:

    Researching evaporative cooling technologies yesterday, I was intrigued to see just how much water is used by typical industrial users in high-heat processes–thermal power generation (whether nuclear or combustion), oil refining, various chemical/materials processes, et cetera. For example:

    The circulation rate of cooling water in a typical 700 MW coal-fired power plant with a cooling tower amounts to about 71,600 cubic metres an hour (315,000 U.S. gallons per minute) and the circulating water requires a supply water make-up rate of perhaps 5 percent (i.e., 3,600 cubic metres an hour).


    So I wasn’t so surprised to run across this study in Climateprogress today:


    …the study found a decrease in river flow of 13 to 15 percent for Southern Europe in the 2031-2060 time period (relative to 1971-2000) while places like Spain, Italy and Greece dropped as much as 20 percent. That was offset by an increase of 3 to 5 percent in river flow for Northern Europe. Water temperature increases, again thanks to global warming, were much more evenly distributed, usually around 0.6 to 0.8 degrees Celsius…

    …northern countries… saw an overall increase of 8 percent for hydropower capacities, while southern countries… saw an overall decrease of 15 percent. For the continent as a whole, it’s a decrease of 4 to 5 percent. For nuclear and fossil fuel power plants, around half of Europe looks like it’ll escape essentially unscathed, especially the north. But reductions ranged from 5 percent all the way to 21 percent in other areas, with the the biggest reductions in some southern European countries. The hits were, again, substantially worse in the summer. But the study also determined that adapting with better cooling technology and more advanced fuels could take a lot of the edge off.

    Of course, “better cooling technology and more advanced fuels” cost money. Another price tag on adaptation.

  183. Hank Roberts:

    173 wili says: 11 Jul 2013 at 9:32 PM
    > … here is a new resource … link
    Wrong link, the link posted is circular, goes to top of this page here.

  184. Jim Larsen:

    177 Prok brought up bitcoin.

    Thanks for the link. I was surprised that bitcoin appears to have an absolute maximum circulation of $21 million. Given that there’s over a trillion Federal Reserve notes, digital currency has quite a bit of growing up to do.

  185. Hank Roberts:


    “… Pockmarks are crater-like structures on the seafloor created by fluids and gases as they erupt into the water through ocean-bottom sediments.

    “Researchers from New Zealand, Germany and the United States said three newly discovered pockmarks — the largest of which is 7 miles long, 4 miles wide and more than 300 feet deep — may be twice the size of the largest pockmarks previously recorded in scientific literature ….”

    “… they believe the structures, at a depth of about 3,200 feet under the ocean surface, are the ancient remnants of vigorous degassing from under the seafloor into the ocean, although there is currently no sign of gas being emitted from them.”

  186. doug:

    Gavin, are we seeing an unusual amount of extreme rainfall events in the Northern Hemisphere this Summer?

    [Response: not as far as I’m aware. In general rainfall is becoming more intense, but whether this year is above or below expectations, I have no idea. – Gavin ]

  187. Michael Sweet:

    John Mashy at 178:

    I think you post is unclear. To add detail: Murray Salby is a well known denier. He has been fired for fraud and not doing his work. The deniers are upset that he has been caught. Unfortunately, the deniers will try to tar the real scientists with this fraud.

  188. David B. Benson:

    Hank Roberts @185 — There is also a pockmark offshore from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The assumption is that during the last glacial the water was just cold enough for methane clathrates to form; less pressure requires colder water. During the deglaciation the water warmed and the clathrates, rather explosively, disassociated to release the methane. I have seen a video of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico which caused such a release. It was sinking into the methane-water mixture in which it was no longer buoyant.

  189. wili:

    Oops. Thanks for alerting me to that, Hank. Here are the proper links for methanetracker:



  190. Patrick 027:

    re 187 David B. Benson – “It was sinking into the methane-water mixture in which it was no longer buoyant. – interesting aside, that sounds like a hypothesis I think I’ve heard regarding disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle (A “Duck Tales” cartoon version had it that ships got trapped in the seaweed, as best I can recall; don’t take my word for it)…

    re my 181: “if you picture separate belts of varying PV gradients and winds,” – with a ‘default’ phase speed determined by assuming waves propagate as if amplitude and PV gradient are constant among neighboring belts, and then accounting for effects of variations as deviations from the default (vs. finding the wave behavior along PV fronts and how that changes when many PV fronts (such as infinite number of infinitesimal strength) or frontal zones run parallel to each other

    shorter wavelengths’ propagation ought to be more strongly affected by the wind and thus be deformed so as to tilt westward away from the jet, – here picturing a wave packet, once formed, wandering around with it’s group velocity. I can imagine reflection occurring by entering a shear zone, being turned around so as to reverse group velocity, etc…
    However, I’ve gotten the impression it is more typical (perhaps for good reason – if the waves propagate relatively fast through the air compared to the rate at which flow variations would deform them?) to consider wave propagation scenarios where waves emanating from a region with a set wavelength in some direction (say x, or in the x-y plane or x-z plane…) propagate with some component of group velocity in a perpendicular direction (y/z, or z, or y … respectively); the wavelength must stay constant along the first direction/plane and the phase speed must also relative to some frame of reference; then the variation in flow determines the variation in intrinsic phase speed (that with respect to the fluid at any location) and combined with the wavelength, determines the intrinsic frequency, and thus via some dispersion relation, determines the wavelength in the other direction – so we have a map of varying wave vector over space, and in some places intrinsic frequency goes to zero (critical lines) and becomes imaginary, etc.

  191. Russell:

    Heartland legal eagle Peter Ferarra has been baldly misrepresenting the literature in Forbes again.

    This is the sixth or seventh time he and his sidekicks Taylot and Bell have been caught out by angry authors in the last year .

    Randall Donohue of CSIRO is their latest victim

  192. Jeffrey Davis:


    Glaciers don’t only depend upon global climate or even regional climate. Some may have a particular kind of micro-climate and grow while the glaciers over the next mountain range shrink.

    Glacier growth may remind some of irony which can be so broad that it seems to disappear.

  193. Kevin McKinney:

    #186–Yes, I’ve been posted some of the recent ‘anecdotes,’ but I’m not suggesting that there is probative value–though I think that there is great illustrative value.

    On the research side, though, there is this:

    This study investigates the presence of trends in annual maximum daily precipitation time series obtained from a global dataset of 8326 high-quality land-based observing stations with more than 30 years of record over the period from 1900 to 2009.

    Two complementary statistical techniques were adopted to evaluate the possible nonstationary behavior of these precipitation data. The first was a Mann–Kendall nonparametric trend test, and it was used to evaluate the existence of monotonic trends. The second was a nonstationary generalized extreme value analysis, and it was used to determine the strength of association between the precipitation extremes and globally averaged near-surface temperature.

    The outcomes are that statistically significant increasing trends can be detected at the global scale, with close to two-thirds of stations showing increases. Furthermore, there is a statistically significant association with globally averaged near-surface temperature, with the median intensity of extreme precipitation changing in proportion with changes in global mean temperature at a rate of between 5.9% and 7.7% K−1, depending on the method of analysis. This ratio was robust irrespective of record length or time period considered and was not strongly biased by the uneven global coverage of precipitation data.

    Finally, there is a distinct meridional variation, with the greatest sensitivity occurring in the tropics and higher latitudes and the minima around 13°S and 11°N. The greatest uncertainty was near the equator because of the limited number of sufficiently long precipitation records, and there remains an urgent need to improve data collection in this region to better constrain future changes in tropical precipitation.

    (Paragraph breaks added for legibility.)



    Precipitation changes can affect society more directly than variations in most other meteorological observables, but precipitation is difficult to characterize because of fluctuations on nearly all temporal and spatial scales. In addition, the intensity of extreme precipitation rises markedly at higher temperature, faster than the rate of increase in the atmosphere’s water-holding capacity, termed the Clausius–Clapeyron rate. Invigoration of convective precipitation (such as thunderstorms) has been favoured over a rise in stratiform precipitation (such as large-scale frontal precipitation) as a cause for this increase, but the relative contributions of these two types of precipitation have been difficult to disentangle.

    Here we combine large data sets from radar measurements and rain gauges over Germany with corresponding synoptic observations and temperature records, and separate convective and stratiform precipitation events by cloud observations. We find that for stratiform precipitation, extremes increase with temperature at approximately the Clausius–Clapeyron rate, without characteristic scales. In contrast, convective precipitation exhibits characteristic spatial and temporal scales, and its intensity in response to warming exceeds the Clausius–Clapeyron rate. We conclude that convective precipitation responds much more sensitively to temperature increases than stratiform precipitation, and increasingly dominates events of extreme precipitation.


    Searching “increasing extreme precipitation” also produced quite a lot of regional-scale work.

  194. patrick:

    Killian, check the graphic on economic convexity presented here by HJ (John) Schellnhuber (43:08) where he says, “And I will end with a little animation on this industrial revolution, so to speak. It goes like this…”


    In context it’s here: the “1st Keynote” at the “Four Degrees or More?” Conference:


  195. Peter Backes:

    Any thoughts from RC on this?


  196. Hank Roberts:

    For Peter Backes — here’s one way to check, search the site, e.g.

  197. Hank Roberts:

    Russell, thanks (shudder) for the Peter Ferarra pointer.
    I didn’t see CSIRO mentioned on those pages, but found his earlier, um, interpretation of the science.

    Bloomberg quotes him on his availability to opine.

  198. patrick:

    @201 Peter Backes, thanks for the link to Scott Mandia’s post on the defense fund. I think it tells you what time it is.

    “Going to the AGU 2013 Fall Conference? If so mark your calendars for Thursday December 12 between 12:30 – 1:30. CSLDF and AGU will be hosting a special brown bag lunch event titled Facing Legal Attack: Scientists Tell Their Stories featuring a panel discussion with Drs. Andrew Dessler, Katharine Hayhoe, Michael Mann, Naomi Oreskes, Ben Santer, and Kevin Trenberth, along with a few legal experts.”

    This subject connects to sessions at AGU 2012 Fall on the public communications dilemna for scientists raised by the events surrounding the Lacula earthquake(s)–worth looking up. The increasing involvement of aware meteorologists puts climate issues on the surface, you might say. Just put them in astronaut gear to make the point: it’s a mission to earth.

    Knowing you’ve got legal back-up lets you keep working instead of tightening up under pressure.

  199. Kevin McKinney:

    #203–Ah, yes:

    Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation, says he, too, took money from Abramoff to write op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist’s clients. “I do that all the time,” Ferrara says. “I’ve done that in the past, and I’ll do it in the future.”

    Ferrara, who has been an influential conservative voice on Social Security reform, among other issues, says he doesn’t see a conflict of interest in taking undisclosed money to write op-ed pieces because his columns never violated his ideological principles.

    Seems to me there’s a difference between writing on sympathetic subjects (which I certainly do myself, and hope to make at least a little from doing so) and writing a piece to order to advance the interests of specific parties, while maintaining a facade of ‘disinterest.’

  200. patrick:


    Here’s the Skeptical Science review of Janin and Mandia’s book. If you are going to the Fall AGU, be sure to take with you a slide of the inset photo (note source). It’s a perfect image of (public interest in) the interface between meteorology and climate science.

    If you want to go farther just interview Stu Ostro in front a big screen of this photo–preferably in an astronaut’s suit–and ask him about the life support systems here. Or ‘there.’ Jill and David Archer please note.

  201. Hank Roberts:

    Tom Toles’s also-ran for the day

  202. Edward Greisch:

    186 doug & Gavin: Illinois between Moline and Chicago has had way too much rain this year. Fields went unplanted & unplowed into June because of standing water.

    Recall that last year there was drought in spring and summer, then at harvest time the fields were too wet to drive a combine on. Farmers waited until the ground was frozen before harvesting. The corn, what there was, was damaged by having been frozen.

    GW should be called the Rain-Move because that is what it does. The last few years have been bad because of the wrong rain at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  203. Edward Greisch:

    Checking calendar: Woops! I can only say I saw fields unplowed and very wet on 25 May. Sorry.

  204. Radge Havers:

    Saying it with graphics.

    Has Global Warming Stopped?
    At Greg Laden’s Blog


    The second poster is especially pointed.

  205. JCH:

    Radge Havers says:

    The problem is that *skeptics can claim ENSO reconstructions demonstrate the current phenomena of wind-driven downwelling of heat and upwelling of cold can last 20 to 40 years, and no society is going to have much stomach for imposing limits on energy consumption if the GMT remains flat, or even cools, for that long.

    There needs to be discussion on how long this situation can last.

    * CH

  206. Hank Roberts:

    Good read from David Brin:
    Sunday, July 14, 2013
    Ocean Fertilization redux… plus the politics of science

  207. Kevin McKinney:


    Used that metaphor in a song–got to get it released one of these days, before I get run over by a train.

    Metaphorical or otherwise.

  208. Hank Roberts:

    Brin points to:
    Proposal for Geoengineering by William.H.Calvin

    Emergency 20-year Drawdown of Excess CO2 via Push-Pull Ocean Pumps
    A drawdown of atmospheric CO2 would address all three big issues–global overheating, ocean acidification, and methane burps–but it would need to be big, quick, and sure-fire.

    How big? Aim at removing all 350 GtC emitted since 1750. That would cool things off and slow methane production.

    How quickly? We must back out of the danger zone before being weakened by resource wars and economic collapse. During a 20 yr project period, another 250 GtC are likely be emitted from business-as-usual, so make that goal 600 GtC. That’s 30 GtC/yr.

    Once the drawdown is complete, half of the sequestration capacity might still be needed to continuously counter out-of-control emissions; the rest goes on standby for future emergencies such as a methane burp….”

    Looks to me, as an amateur, like the best idea I’ve seen yet.
    Only problem is no way to Make Money Fast to secure private finance.
    Or is there? I speculate in comments there.

  209. Radge Havers:

    @ 205

    Putting a ‘0’ in front of year numbers:

    Point taken though. Septics will gibber on no matter what. OTOH, any disinterested party who suddenly decides to follow closely enough to wonder about ENSO and GMT, should be given pause by those graphics. Those who hear all talk of climate change as background noise, however, and who think there’s only naturally caused weather and God, will tend to remain oblivious.

    And please bear with me here…
    * CH: What means this?

  210. patrick:

    @204 Excellent: a reverse gish-gallop without the gish. It puts eight things on the table at once, and it’s all one picture anyway. A nice antidote. Thanks.

  211. Radge Havers:

    Re: The graphics at Laden’s

    As the saying goes you have to “stand back and look at the big picture.” It’s how we’re wired. That’s different from stringing together poorly articulated elements and barfing them en masse — or crawling ant-like, myopically fumbling from one disjoint obstacle to another with no sense of perspective, and only disengaged fantasies for a feeling of continuity.

    Not that that second poster is perfectly designed, but it does lay it all out in a simple and orderly fashion that’s pretty easy to grasp at one take and to analyze in short order.

  212. Mal Adapted:

    David Brin, @Hank’s link:

    The Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives — continuing its almost blemish-free record of jibbering inanity, with members from the majority party almost universally unqualified and propelled by fanatical dogmas.

    Delicious. Wish I could write like that, but that’s why Brin’s able to make a living as a writer while I’m just a computer nerd.

  213. Meow:

    On radiation budgets, is there more we might do using earthshine (earth-moon-earth SW reflection) to measure global albedo (e.g., Qiu et al)? Would this technique be at all useful for measuring OLW?

  214. Student:

    Coursera will be offering a course on climate change, from faculty from various fields at the University of Melbourne.


    “You will learn that the issue of Climate Change is incredibly complex, however it can also be very accessible if you can see it from different perspectives and approach it with an open mind and a willingness to engage in discussion and action along with others.”

  215. Martin Vermeer:

    #213 Meow:

    > Would this technique be at all useful for measuring OLW?

    How? Using it for visible radiation works because you can look at the dark side, which does not emit any such radiation, or reflect any from the Sun. With thermal infrared, you would have to separate out a minute, reflected quantity of Earth infrared from the Moon’s own emissions (which BTW Langley and Arrhenius used back in their days to sense greenhouse gases in our own atmosphere). And do it through an Earth atmosphere the relevant absorption properties of which are changing rapidly over time. I don’t see how it could be done.

  216. Meow:

    @215: It does seem like a very difficult problem. It’s easy enough to determine how long each currently-dark sliver of the moon has been shaded, but we need to know what LW it would emit absent LW incoming from the earth. That would seem a difficult quantity to obtain, plus our atmosphere would further muddy observations of the LW reflected/re-emitted by the moon.

    But I disagree with the idea that earth’s LW at the moon is “minute”. It should be about twice the magnitude of earth’s SW at the moon (~235 W/m^2 OLW / 107 W/m^2 OSW), no?

  217. Chuck Hughes:

    I’m back in Arkansas now and we have a swarm of caterpillars “munching on the leaves” of our hardwood trees. It’s really bad. In addition to that I was watching “The Evening News with Brian Williams” and one of the feature stories from the Weather Channel is that a heat wave has developed on the East Coast and is moving “backward” from East to West.

    Talking to the local folk here nobody remembers caterpillars decimating the hardwoods within the last 50 years. I’ve never seen it myself. I’m just making some anecdotal observations but I would love to hear from anyone else about this. As the link to the article points out, “added to the last two years of severe drought, we stand to lose a lot of trees due to the caterpillars eating all the leaves.”

    Here’s a link to a local news station reporting on the caterpillar infestation:


    I’m going to add this question….. is this due to a warmer climate and can this infestation in any way be linked to Climate Change? Thanks.

    [Response: Possible, but very hard to demonstrate with the available data. If there is any group of organisms defined by boom and bust cycles, including those that are completely unrelated to climatic variables, it is herbivorous insects.–Jim]

  218. Patrick 027:

    re 216 Meow – OLR (OLW) is greater than OSW, but for the fractions aimed at the moon, both quantities are minute. That’s okay for finding SW because Earth shine is the vast majority of what the dark side of the moon (anyone listening to Pink Floyd right now?) receives in SW and of course the moon isn’t, so far as I know, phosphorescent or volcanic (right now)… etc.

  219. sidd:

    Mr. Aaron Lewis used to talk about this:


    latent heat transport is quite effective


  220. patrick:

    @214 Excellent. Be sure to enlighten us.

    “…one of the wicked problems….never before faced a problem of such complexity.” (quoting the video)

    “[Course leaders] do not shy away from discussing the most challenging questions: How do we understand prediction and uncertainty? …”

  221. patrick:

    @204 & 211 Radge Havers: That graphic on Greg Laden’s blog quickly puts multiple information tracks on the optic nerve in an attractive way.
    The two large pieces are from Skeptical Science and the six smaller ones are courtesy of Climate Nexus, which he links. I’m looking at their resources page:


    An unusual concept from Munich Re is charted on pg. 5 of “Climate Signals”(resources):


    It’s “Natural catastrophes worldwide, 1980-2010: Number of events by peril with trend.” The concept is interesting because “Geophysical events”–i.e.,”Earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption”–function as a statistical control for uptrending meteorological and hydrological events.

    They should know. I’m sure they know how to count, and how to weigh.

    The same section has charts on shifting probabilities from both the IPCC and NASA/Hansen, and something less-seen on “Texas Summers” from the Texas State Climatologist.

    Then there’s “Denial in the Classroom” at the bottom of the resources page.

  222. patrick:

    Make that: The concept is interesting because it shows a slight uptrend in “Geophysical events–i.e., “Earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption–with a strong uptrend in meteorological and hydrological events.”

  223. patrick:

    @222 I mean: The concept is interesting because it shows a slight uptrend in “Geophysical events”–i.e., “Earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption”–with a strong uptrend in meteorological and hydrological events.

  224. Martin Vermeer:

    #218 Patrick 027: precisely, you got it.

  225. Mal Adapted:

    Chuck Hughes:

    I’m going to add this question….. is this due to a warmer climate and can this [caterpillar] infestation in any way be linked to Climate Change? Thanks.

    [Response: Possible, but very hard to demonstrate with the available data. If there is any group of organisms defined by boom and bust cycles, including those that are completely unrelated to climatic variables, it is herbivorous insects.–Jim]

    I agree with Jim in general, but (as he is no doubt aware) AGW-related climate change is convincingly linked to bark beetle irruptions in western conifer forests. AGW is implicated in a couple of different ways:

    Elevated temperatures associated with climate change, particularly when there are consecutive warm years, can speed up [bark beetle] reproductive cycles and reduce cold-induced mortality. Shifts in precipitation patterns and associated drought can also influence bark beetle outbreak dynamics by weakening trees and making them more susceptible to bark beetle attacks.

  226. Hank Roberts:

    Review article (‘oogle Scholar: earthshine infrared )

    Highlights of Spanish Astrophysics VII, Proceedings of the X Scientific Meeting of the Spanish Astronomical Society
    held on July 9-13, 2012

    The Earthshine observations: from climate change to Astrobiology

  227. Hank Roberts:

    Aside — when an old paper starts showing up in innocent questions from new userids across a variety of climate blogs, do check where it’s been recently reblogged. The spinoff from the respinning of the old papers is usually quite predictable — it’s usually restarted at WTF, in my experience.

    Ware the invitation to recreational typing, tempting one to rewrite answers given years ago — instead consider pointing to the old discussions.

    Taking the old stuff seriously as fresh and new encourages the rebunking.

    They’re not trying to understand.
    They’re trying to refresh the uncertainty.

  228. Edward Greisch:

    “DC Court Bluntly Affirms Michael Mann’s Right To Proceed In Defamation Lawsuit Against National Review And CEI”

    This is worth a celebration as Mike Mann makes General. So call him Sir from now on. ClimateScienceDefenseFund is not involved in the defamation case. We just might win this war.

  229. Chuck Hughes:

    # 225 – Elevated temperatures associated with climate change, particularly when there are consecutive warm years, can speed up [bark beetle] reproductive cycles and reduce cold-induced mortality. Shifts in precipitation patterns and associated drought can also influence bark beetle outbreak dynamics by weakening trees and making them more susceptible to bark beetle attacks.
    Comment by Mal Adapted — 20 Jul 2013 @ 5:47 PM

    Mal Adapted – thank you for clarifying my point. I totally agree with moderator “Jim” that there is no way to directly link the caterpillar infestation to Climate Change and what Jim said in regards to this makes perfect sense. However…. if you were to place this infestation in a much larger context as in the pine bark beetles decimating Lodge Pole Pines in the Rocky Mountain region due to warmer Winters etc. I wonder if it might add one more piece to the Climate puzzle? Ultimately what it boils down to is the rapid loss of even more hardwood trees in the Southeast and South Central regions of the United States.

    By my unprofessional estimation, if you were to take one square acre of forest in Arkansas one out of every 10 trees would be either dead or in the process of dying and I believe that would be a conservative estimate on my part. I personally own five acres of forest and I’ve lost about 1/4 of my trees in the last 8 years. Of course you would have to talk to the forest service to get an exact count but it’s high and I’m sure the number would vary from one location to the next but the situation seems to be accelerating. We’ve also had a couple of severe ice storms within the last 8 years that destroyed thousands of hardwoods. Some of these trees were over 100 years old and they just fell over taking several other trees with them on their way to the ground.

    Another weird thing I’ve noticed is around the base of several trees on my property, the bark starts to crumble and buckle and there appears to be sawdust on the ground. I can’t find any bugs or beetles even if I peel the bark off but the tree dies within a year. It’s happening to both young and older trees and it always happens around the base of the trunk and eventually works it’s way completely around the tree. It might be some sort of fungus instead of a beetle, I don’t know.

    That’s my very unqualified take on the situation. I’m not a scientist therefore I don’t have the credentials to make a professional assessment but I can tell you things are changing rapidly down here and many of the local folk are noticing it so I know it’s not just me. Most of the damage I’m referring to has happened since 2005 or it seems to have gotten progressively worse since then.

    Again I want to emphasize that these are my own personal, anecdotal observations but it’s happening in many areas and it has me concerned. I would love to find out if there are any official statistics available concerning the condition of hardwood forests in the South Central United States. Having said all this, I realize probably none of these events are due to a warmer climate. It may all be purely coincidental and part of a natural process. Thanks.

  230. Michael Sweet:

    Michael Mann proves that he is a leader again! (In a new field!) Keep up the good work. Hopefully he will win a big settlement and that will allow him to go after the other liars.

  231. Kevin McKinney:

    #228, 230–Good news indeed!

    There’s rather a delicious irony in the Court’s reasoning that, since CEI had instigated many of the allegations leading to inquiries on Dr. Mann’s work, it was extremely unlikely that they did not know the results of the inquiries they themselves had done so much to provoke, and hence, there was at least a strong ground to presume that at some point CEI must have known they were making allegations which were false, or at least unsupported.

  232. patrick:

    @225 & 229 Observation is the first step. I notice that comments on the extinctions-now-happening are right in line with myths about climate change such as “It’s happened before” and “It’s not us.”

    On the etiology of invasive species it’s similar. A lot of things are moving up the mountain, so to speak, because anthropogenic sway compels it, and because of what is riding up with people and their rides.

    Apparently the Irish potato famine was not just a matter of anomalous weather conditions–but of invasive microbes riding on ships with guano. That didn’t take long to firmly establish, did it?

    So science has a big task, and a subtle one. On attribution, probability reigns. But “It’s happened before”-and-“It’s not us” is as unlikely on invasive species generally as on AGW and the extinctions.

  233. Chuck Hughes:

    @ 230 I would say this is great news:

    “Indeed, every single reconstruction of temperatures over the past 2,000 years created since Mann’s paper was first published 15 years ago shows the same general hockey stick shape – relatively flat temperatures (the shaft) followed by a steep rise (the blade) over the past century. This was most recently confirmed by the Past Global Changes (PAGES) 2k network, which published a paper in the prestigious journal Nature involving 78 researchers contributing as co-authors from 60 separate scientific institutions around the world. Each researcher involved in the study was an expert in local temperature reconstructions in his or her region. When they put all of their data together, their result matched Mann’s hockey stick nearly perfectly.”


  234. Hank Roberts:

    Washington (State) checks in:
    “… Washington now has a list of programs worldwide from which to steal, or borrow, as a legislative panel tackles climate change in this state.

    The panel’s consultant —- Science Application International Corp. of Virginia —- has done some initial sifting through worldwide climate change fix-it ventures to study, and SAIC presented that list to a panel of two Republican and two Democratic legislators led by Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday.

    “We like those free lessons from other places,” Inslee said…”


    Somebody’s gotten certain enough about climate change to be selling free ideas to the state government. Good to know there’s profit to be made ….

  235. Killian:

    208 Brin points to: http://climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/20/planId/1303629?
    Proposal for Geoengineering by William.H.Calvin

    Emergency 20-year Drawdown of Excess CO2 via Push-Pull Ocean Pumps
    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jul 2013 @ 5:16 PM

    Ignorance of and hand waving dismissal of legitimate, natural carbon sequestration in favor of geo-foolishness is going to end us all.

    Why build these machines when all you have to do is farm intelligently, grow forests, grow new forests, grow food forests and reduce consumption – which you must do anyway due to resource constraints?

    Buh-bye, growth. Mainstream economist finally getting it: End of growth paradigm

    OK, NOW can we simplify and reduce the climate threat?

  236. Edward Greisch:

    234 Hank Roberts: I remember SAI from when I worked at the EME [EMP] lab.

    From http://crosscut.com/2013/07/18/environment/115604/state-has-menu-climate-change-options/
    I would say that the menu of climate change options is nonsense.

  237. David B. Benson:

    Sea Level Rise: New Iceberg Theory Points to Areas at Risk of Rapid Disintegration

    So SLR by centuries end may well end up around the higher of the current estimates.

  238. David B. Benson:

    Ancient Ice Melt Unearthed in Antarctic Mud: 20-Meter Sea Level Rise, Five Million Years Ago

    Therefore that much or more is now in the pipeline.

  239. Hank Roberts:

    > Calvin … Why…?
    As he says there

    “We dare not wait until we are weakened before undertaking emergency climate repairs. Our ability to avoid a human populat­ion crash will be compromised if economies become fragile or if international cooperation is lost via conflicts. A serious jolt—say, a major rearrangement of the winds—could cause catastrophic crop failures and food riots within several years, creating global waves of climate refugees with the attendant famine, pestilence, war, and genocide.

    Acquiescing in a slower approach to climate is, in effect, playing Russian ro ulette with the climate gun. The climate crisis needs wartime priorities now.”

    He’s talking about building upwellings that would favor plankton reproduction, same as you’d get in geological time by uplift, coral growth, or volcanos creating seamounts to bring up deep water.

    It’s the sanest suggestion for aquatic ‘farming’ I’ve seen — comparable to ‘farming’ topsoil — unselfish, not profitable, and done because of the benefits of having more biologically productive area on the planet.

    And done by repurposing oil rigs in areas otherwise subject to oxygen dearth.

    Read through to the end. Think about it.

  240. Chuck Hughes:

    I happened to see this post by “prokaryotes” on Climate Progress and thought I would share it here. Does anyone have any input on this situation? I looked at the information but I don’t know how valid or significant it is:

    Meanwhile in Siberia
    The temperatures on parts of Kara Sea and surrounding coast has hit +40C, or over +100F. Temperature legend map by Foreca. A large rise in methane has been measured in the region.


    Legitimate or bogus?

  241. Garry S-J:

    Hi, here’s a question for the smart people here (and please forgive me if it’s already been asked):

    In this story in The Economist..


    ..there is a table showing projected ranges for the global temperature anomaly in 2100 given various “CO2 emissions (I presume they mean concentrations)” scenarios.

    The text, in referring to earlier IPCC-compiled projections, says:

    “The two findings are not strictly comparable. The 2007 report talks about equilibrium temperatures in the very long term (over centuries); the forthcoming one talks about them in 2100. But the practical distinction would not be great so long as concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse-gas emissions were stable or falling by 2100.”

    That implies little or no temperature rise after 2100, irrespective of how much GHG concentrations had risen by then. The idea that temperature rise will stop as soon as GHG concentratons stabilise seems heroically optimistic, as does the apparent presumption that as soon as anthropogenic emissions stop, so too will natural feedbacks adding CO2 and methane to the atmosphere. (The ice cores would beg to differ.)

    So it seems to be wrong. My question is, just how wrong is it?

    Subsidiary question: In anticipation of the inevitable downplaying of the problem by juxtaposing these 2100 projections with earlier long-run equilibrium projections, will the upcoming IPCC reports include projections for the long run on a similar basis to the 2007 publications?

    Thanks guys, and keep up the good work.

  242. tokodave:

    241 Garry S-J: Skeptical Science has a detailed look at this:

    I find the Economist in general to be a good source of current info. Unfortunately on more than one occasion when reading an article on subjects about which I have more comprehensive knowledge I realize they really don’t know what they’re talking about. This makes me wonder if they know what they’re talking about on issues I’m less familiar with?

  243. Mal Adapted:

    Chuck Hughes:

    Another weird thing I’ve noticed is around the base of several trees on my property, the bark starts to crumble and buckle and there appears to be sawdust on the ground. I can’t find any bugs or beetles even if I peel the bark off but the tree dies within a year. It’s happening to both young and older trees and it always happens around the base of the trunk and eventually works it’s way completely around the tree. It might be some sort of fungus instead of a beetle, I don’t know.

    Have you talked to your county extension agent?

  244. Hank Roberts:

    > the Economist
    They’re, well, economists. Their message seems to be that — don’t look past 2100 — the economy seems like a viable business plan. They could probably cite Ponzi, Madoff, et al. for the method — keeping customers’ time horizon shortsighted.

    In other news, I find ‘oogling turns up businesses that claim to be farming topsoil and selling it. Has anyone looked at this as an approach to carbon sequestration? It might work out on river flood plains — turn the muck deposited into topsoil as quickly as possible and haul it away as a salable product.

  245. Martin Vermeer:

    tokodave, yes. I sometimes called that the ‘peephole test’ and it’s a powerful way to discount fake expertise.

    I’ve pretty much given up on the mainstream media. Life’s too short to waste on known-dubious sources.

  246. Hank Roberts:

    ah, here’s one that’s not terribly overoptimistic:
    seems to me consistent with recent science that I turn up with a few minutes’ searching. Lots of variables, small but findable benefits, doable, maybe not profitable.

  247. Garry S-J:

    tokodave #242 Thanks for the link.

    Hank Roberts #244 Steady on old chap, not all economists (eg me) are dunderheads.

    The hypothesis that economists generally downplay/deny AGW is unsupported by any data AFAIK. The Garnaut and Stern reports weren’t written by plumbers.

  248. Hank Roberts:

    > Garry S-J
    Point taken. Can you find out who contributed to that _Economist_ story?

  249. Garry S-J:

    No Hank – your guess is as good as mine.

  250. Hank Roberts:

    Chuckle. My guess is no economists were involved in the making of that article.

    Sigh. Have you followed the comments there and noted which comments the Economist’s readers recommend most highly?

    Much repetition — they’re clearly teaching the controversy.

  251. SRJ:

    Simple question:

    IPCC says that the net antropogenic forcing from 1750-2005 is 1.6 W/m^2.

    Is it correct use this value to calculate the total accumulated energy of antropogen origin, in the following manner:

    E = time * area * forcing

    time = no. of seconds in 255 years, 8047016130 s
    area = surface area of the troposphere (IPCC says that the forcing is related to the tropopause), 5.12 m^2

    The result is 6.59 * 10^24 J. So this the amount of energy that antropogenic forcings have helped trap in the climate system?
    Is that correct?

  252. Hank Roberts:

    for SRJ: https://www.google.com/search?q=climate+joules
    Asserting there’s a simple answer to that simple question of yours looks like it is a great way to start a controversy. Read up on some of those results.

  253. Susan Anderson:

    Climate Science Legal Defense Fund IS supporting Mike Mann, among others.

    Want to Help Our Climate Scientists? It’s Simple: Here’s How

    …. To continue our programing through the end of the year we need to raise $35,000 this summer and need your help to reach our goal. The money will go to two projects of ours. First, it will retire the debt owed by Dr. Michael Mann for attorney’s fees in the FOIA case over his UVA emails. Read more about the case here and here.

    The money will also go towards continuing our program of sending attorneys to scientific meetings. There we offer confidential pro-bono meetings for members of the scientific community.

    links here.

    PBS Newshour had a segment on climate denial and funding tonight, about 6:40, which appeared to be linked to Frontline. Links not available yet. Looked good, mentioned Heartland, AFP, Kochs, Donor’s Trust.

  254. Susan Anderson:

    correction: Professor Mandia says CSLDF is not involved in the CEI case.

  255. Patrick 027:

    Re 251 SRJ – that’s on the right track, but by itself implies infinite climate sensitivity or infinite heat capacity. As climate approaches a new equilibrium, the general increase in surface+tropospheric temperatures increases the outgoing longwave radiation (OLR), reducing the rate of net gain in energy – this approaches zero eventually (with net positive feedbacks – for shortwave feedbacks (eg loss of snow and ice), OLR has to increase that much more; via net positive longwave feedbacks (eg water vapor, lapse rate feedback* (*the later is globally negative but smaller)), the OLR becomes less sensitive to temperature change and so rises less quickly in response to heating.

    The total accumulated additional energy (specifically, enthalpy) should be equal to forcing * climate sensitivity * heat capacity; for the later, it depends on timescale – much of the ocean is not in play over short periods, so after an initial approach to equilibrium, there would be a longer lasting delay over which greater amounts of heat capacity become important and so energy continues to accumulate, but more slowly (slowing more than if it were a simply exponential decay (if climate sensitivity and heat capacity were nice simple constants (well mixed ocean, no non-Charney feedbacks) the disequilibrium would decay exponentially for any constant forcing. Of course, with AGW or in many other situations forcing is added or removed over time, so the effect could be thought of as a linear superposition of exponential decays following many small steps in forcing).

    Over very long time periods the temperature signal would diffuse downward over the crust, etc (reduction in crustal temperature gradient would slow geothermal heat flux out, having a heating effect below), but at some point it becomes relatively unimportant to climate change to include deeper layers’ heat capacity.

  256. Patrick 027:

    The total accumulated additional energy (specifically, enthalpy) should be equal to forcing * climate sensitivity * heat capacity – at equilibrium.

  257. David B. Benson:

    Cost of Arctic Methane Release Could Be ‘Size of Global Economy’, Experts Warn
    Is there a futures market for this?

  258. Hank Roberts:

    > Arctic methane release

    I recommend reading Stoat on the subject.

  259. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Jul 2013 @ 12:21 AM

    The article is about economic predictions, is there any actual science in it?


  260. Hank Roberts:


    “… This “Nebula Winter” model can explain the catastrophic phenomena such as snowball Earth events, repeated mass extinctions, and Cambrian explosion of biodiversities which took place in the late Proterozoic era through the Cambrian period…. Mass extinctions occurred at least eight times in this period, synchronized with large fluctuations in δ13C of carbonates in the sediment. Each event is likely to correspond to each nebula encounter. In other words, the late Neoproterozoic snowball Earth and Cambrian explosion are possibly driven by a starburst, which took place around 0.6 Ga in the Milky Way Galaxy. The evidences for a Nebula Winter can be obtained from geological records in sediment in the deep oceans at those times.”

    Evidence, if any, would turn up in cores from the ocean drilling projects.

  261. Susan Anderson:

    fwiw, PBS “Climate of Doubt” was a rerun from 10/23/12 and ran on Nova. Link:



    It shows the scale of the effort to create a phony parallel universe, very troubling. But please don’t follow my lead, rather stick to science here, with all your invaluable work.

  262. Martin Vermeer:

    SRJ #251,

    as nobody seems to give you a helpful answer, let me try.

    The 1.6 W/m^2 net forcing for 1750-2005 gives how much the heat balance of the top of the atmosphere (TOA) was out of whack in the year 2005, assuming it was in equilibrium in 1750 (or more generally, in recent pre-industrial times).

    In order to do the computation you want to do, you need to integrate, not multiply. You need the net forcing for every year 1750-2005, each relative to pre-industrial, integrate this over time and multiply with the surface area of TOA.

    When you do that, you will find that the net forcing has only been significantly different from zero over the last century or so, and you could probably approximate its integral by half the product of 1.6 W/m^2 and 40 years (i.e., the forcing hase gone up linearly from zero to 1.6 W/m^2 over the last 40 years). Which will give you only about 8% of the value you computed.

    Compare with this, which shows that something close to your computed value would suffice to heat all of the atmosphere and oceans by one degree C. Well, the climate has warmed by about that, but obviously the warming hasn’t had time to affect the bulk of the deep ocean yet. This gives me confidence that your proposed method is too large by about an order of magnitude, and mine more nearly correct.

  263. Kevin McKinney:

    #259–Judge for yourself: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v499/n7459/pdf/499401a.pdf

    Supplementary info section (linked at bottom of article) will be helpful.

  264. Chris Korda:

    US EIA released International Energy Outlook 2013 today. This table is the one that matters most (to me):
    World carbon dioxide emissions by region, Reference case, 2009-2040
    You may remember an extended discussion here regarding IEO2011’s projection of an additional teraton of CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2035. Here it is two years later and we’re still right on track, with that same trajectory extended to 2040 and no end in sight. That means we’re still following AR5’s RCP8.5 scenario, as shown here. The resulting temperature curve would likely be at least the red line shown here, and very possibly the yellow line (though they both arrive at the same place eventually), assuming correct application of the Climate Response Functions described in Hansen et al.’s “Earth’s energy imbalance and implications” as explained here. Which would mean goodbye to all that, of course. But I gotta get back to napping and playing with my toys!

  265. prokaryotes:

    Coastal Antarctic Permafrost Melting Faster Than Expected

    For the first time, scientists have documented an acceleration in the melt rate of permafrost, or ground ice, in a section of Antarctica where the ice had been considered stable http://www.utexas.edu/news/2013/07/24/coastal-antarctic-permafrost-melting-faster-than-expected/

  266. Chris Korda:

    @262, meant “*green* line shown here, and very possibly the *red* line; apologies for the typo.

  267. Susan Anderson:

    ClimateCrocks picks up on this sad artifact of the Rolling Stone cover controversy. So much work buried; Jason Box deserves better.


  268. Hank Roberts:

    > prokaryotes

    Thank you for the link for

    Fact. The got pictures. Clear timelapse imagery (real pictures — generated from LIDAR, ‘laser radar’ — using infrared light) — watch the cliff of permafrost melting.

    They say the rate is speeding up.
    Reality is plenty damn scary.

    I hope Vonnegut et al. are wrong about us being too cheap and too lazy.

  269. Hank Roberts:

    PS, look carefully at that animation, it’s easy to see it backward. The taller cliffs are in the later images; the lower front cliff entirely melts away. Watch the cliff at the far left end through the sequence to feel it.

  270. prokaryotes:

    Hank Roberts, from your link: “the game may be over”, i don’t share this fatalistic sentiment. I think it will be just like Isaac Asimov had thought in his novels, that humans have to expand their horizon. Maybe this has to happen, to make us live in balance with the environment and reach for the stars. Ofc, if we keep sleep walking and keep driving fossil fuel burn – we will eventually go extinct.

  271. prokaryotes:

    Arctic Heat Wave Re-Intensifies Over Central Siberia Setting off Rash of Tundra Fires

    We’re having some methane feedback in the Arctic and it’s a part of polar amplification. That said, it is important to note that this feedback is not a runaway feedback at this time. In total, we’re probably seeing about a 10-15 megaton methane emission from the Arctic each year (comparing to a 40 megaton global emission, including humans). The Arctic emission could double or even triple over the coming years and decades. And this is a pretty serious amplifying feedback. To get a runaway, though, we’d need about 500 MT to 1 GT annual average emission. And we’re not seeing that yet (hope to never see it).

    NASA’s CARVE study will likely provide more detail. But my opinion is that the methane feedback and other global responses to human emissions will be enough to at least double the human forcing over long periods of time (perhaps more than double, as the human forcing is so fast). So it’s certainly trouble worth keeping an eye on.

    Loss of albedo and related greenhouse gas feedback in the Arctic is having the predicted amplifying effect. In addition, we’re in a period when the ocean gyres and atmospheric circulation are transferring more heat to the Arctic. This phase should last for another 5, 10, or 15 years. When it switches back, overall atmospheric warming will intensify and polar amplification may slow down a little.

    So in answer to your question, we’re already seeing the first impacts of increased polar methane release. But these are the early, outlier events. And, yes, the extra methane does have a local warming effect on the Arctic environment.


  272. prokaryotes:

    Large, Troubling Methane Pulse Coincides With Arctic Heatwave, Tundra Fires http://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/large-troubling-methane-pulse-coincides-with-arctic-heatwave/

  273. Hank Roberts:

    yeah, but do you think that’s a reliable source? Why?

  274. Robert Marston:

    Cheers guys, pro linked my blog and I wanted to qualify a few points.

    First, the emissions I noted were net positive, not total. Sorry if that wasn’t clear but the issue with methane is very complex.

    The total human emission is a staggering 500+ megatons per year. The total Earth Systems emission is about 150 megatons per year. Now reaction with OH in the troposphere and stratosphere and reaction with O2 in soils breaks the lion’s share of this proportionate methane down, as due to these reactions methane has a total atmospheric lifetime of only 8.4 years.

    The remaining net positive emission is enough to push atmospheric levels up by about 4 ppb each year. You can take a look at the history of world methane levels at the NASA ESRL site by loading the carbon gases time series for methane.

    Now, my info on Arctic methane emission, in total, is only via extrapolation and meta analysis. There is no total annual emissions monitor for that region or for any region currently. That said, it is the largest single region source of natural emissions and probably accounts for 10 to 20 percent of all natural emissions (maybe more in recent years). We did have one study that showed the region of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf emitted 14 megatons in one year. So, at this point, we could be closer to 30, 40, or 50 mt for the entire Arctic. CARVE, hopefully, will bring these totals into better resolution.

    What we do know is that we have not seen a major spike in total atmospheric methane levels. And that would be the clear signal that the Arctic is starting to really go haywire. Instead, we’ve had a steady rate of increase of about 4 ppb each year. In a runaway event of the kind Wadhams describes, we would see a 100 ppb or more annual atmospheric increase for the entire globe. And that would take a pulse large enough to overwhelm the OH sink — probably in the range of 500 mt to 1 gt or more per year. Now Wadhams and Sharakova warn of the potential for a 50 gt single year event in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Sharakova’s statement is qualified, Wadhams is less sanguine. That said, almost all other researchers note that such an event is highly unlikely, with releases likely to happen over the 1,000 year time scale or longer. My opinion is that Wadhams is probably too aggressive and that these other researchers are too conservative. In short, the extra heating from human warming will probably liberate all the ESAS methane but, in the worst case, on the decades scale. Each warmer year will thaw more and more. The sea ice will cover less and less of the time, providing less insulation, until the system breaks out in multiple releases. The Arctic night and Greenland negative feedback response will probably be enough to shut the pulsing methane down on an annual and melt-pulse basis. Not hugely comforting — but it’s right there, built in.

    Last wrinkle and I’m done…

    The OH sink is an exhaustible resource. OH in the troposphere is created when UV light interacts with O2 and H2O or H2. The problem is that the rate of supply is nearly constant. So a very large addition to the current large methane emission could overwhelm the OH sink and greatly increase short term methane levels.

    Ozone depletion actually increases OH formation (a bad result for a marginally positive outcome).

    Ironically, humans vastly reducing methane emissions would provide a much greater cushion to potential catastrophic events by allowing the OH stocks to rejuvenate and requiring a much larger pulse to achieve runaway. Coal mining, gas mining, open air waste, and human consumption of meat would have to vastly decline for this to occur.

    My background — Emerging Threats. In other words, I spend a lot of time reading the science and weighing the risks.

    Pro is a great guy and extraordinarily smart. Definitely one worth listening to. Hope the clarification helps.

  275. prokaryotes:

    Do you mean the WordPress blog? Imho, one of the best reporting out there. Try to address the content, not the fact that this is a private blog.

  276. patrick:

    The source for the article posted @272 is reasonable. The Methane Tracker image in the article is excellent. Nothing wrong with Methane Tracker. Time to learn our (methane) ppb’s. Same high IASI readings have been noted elsewhere.

    IASI: http://calvalportal.ceos.org/cvp/web/guest/iasi

    Same blog reports this reasonably:


    Gotta love the Pole cam:


  277. Hank Roberts:

    > My opinion … the extra heating from human warming
    > will probably liberate all the ESAS methane but, in
    > the worst case, on the decades scale….

    That’s an opinion. It’d be disastrous, no question there.

    Opinion ought to coexist with observed facts. It’s been warmer
    in the past without releasing methane from the same locations,
    several times. It was much warmer for several very long times.

    Why, in your opinion, is this time so very different?
    Have you any numbers, rate of change calculation for how fast
    heat moves through sediments, the stuff scientists use routinely?

    Scientists have opinions too. I’m wondering why the repeated
    posting so many places of this methane emergency argument keeps up.

  278. Hank Roberts:

    The commenters at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2013/07/24/arctic-methane-time-bomb-could-have-huge-economic-costs/ continue to be helpful on that.

  279. Hank Roberts:

    On sea ice, Methane Tracker website says:

    “The Near Real-Time Sea Ice Concentration data layer … is built through an internally proprietary software written by us at MethaneTracker.org, based on the parsing of experimental data originally processed and generated by the University of Bremen in Germany….”

    On methane, the same site says:

    “After fighting for three months from February to May 2013 trying to accurately pinpoint the source(s) of the huge methane venting episode in Antarctica, and thanks to the motivation, help and historic data provided by Apocalypse4Real and guidance from Dr. Leonid Yurganov, I decided to go ahead and write:
    A Parser that every day downloads all 100 layers from IASI and, pixel by pixel, extracts the color, of each graph.
    A Visualization Framework where the new extracted data is plotted, allowing for ease of use on multiple, diverse scenarios….”


    I recall others have used pixel colors, worked backward, and created numbers they then charted and graphed, but isn’t there a better way to get numbers?

  280. Hank Roberts:

    Well, I’m going to leave this one for someone else to sort out, after finding this at MethaneTracker:

    I had an “argument” with a respected blogger about potential sources of methane for the huge Antarctic venting episode, and it was SO frustrating not being able to show one (1) evidence of the point I was trying to make that he won the argument by default, because his point represented the status quo and I had no evidence….
    —-end quote—-

    I tried for a while to find a cite for “the huge Antarctic venting episode” referred to there. No luck. Perhaps one of the real scientists knows.

  281. Hank Roberts:

    CARVE: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/earth20130610.html
    —- quote—–
    Early Results

    The CARVE science team is busy analyzing data from its first full year of science flights. What they’re finding, Miller said, is both amazing and potentially troubling.

    “Some of the methane and carbon dioxide concentrations we’ve measured have been large, and we’re seeing very different patterns from what models suggest,” Miller said. “We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher-than-normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze. To cite another example, in July 2012 we saw methane levels over swamps in the Innoko Wilderness that were 650 parts per billion higher than normal background levels. That’s similar to what you might find in a large city.”

    Ultimately, the scientists hope their observations will indicate whether an irreversible permafrost tipping point may be near at hand. While scientists don’t yet believe the Arctic has reached that tipping point, no one knows for sure. “We hope CARVE may be able to find that ‘smoking gun,’ if one exists,” Miller said.

    For more information on CARVE, visit: http://science.nasa.gov/missions/carve/
    —–end quote—-

  282. prokaryotes:

    There is also a video which explains MethanTracker data

    Part 1
    Part 2

  283. Hank Roberts:

    and here’s “the huge Antarctic venting episode” documented:
    also reports many other things “scientists” won’t tell you about.

    Think about it.

    You want the denial-and-delay people to tell the truth, right?
    Report the science and cite to good sources people can check.

    Show them how it’s done.

  284. Susan Anderson:

    More on the Siberian heat wave at the mouth of the Ob (on the way to the longest estuary anywhere, headed north (some of you have seen this already):

    Lots of data collected. Geography is really interesting.

    (RM: I think you meant Shakhova – you must have been thinking of the tennis player)

  285. prokaryotes:

    Under the Ice: A closer look at recent Antarctica and Greenland Ice Melt


    Satellite radar altimetry since 2002 shows accelerated thinning (Amundsen Sea, Pine Island and Thwaites glacial ice streams)
    Laser altimetry shows thinning on 20 of 54 Antarctic ice shelves
    Ice shelves buttress their tributary glaciers, melt-induced thinning of the ice shelves drives a corresponding thinning and acceleration of the upstream glaciers
    Heat for basal melting occurs from wind-forced incursions of deeper and warmer water and from local surface waters warmed by summer sun
    Extensive melt-induced subglacial channels under Pine Island Glacier
    Bottom melt influences the structural integrity of the entire glacier
    Inland course and extent of, for example, troughs under Pine Island Glacier, follow tectonic rifts
    The rift systems, some of them sloping inward (landward), represent preferred routes for warm water penetration
    Basal melting has eroded and expanded a cavity under the Pine Island Ice Shelf, allowing more warm seawater (as warm as 4C) to access the underside
    Meltwater input to the surrounding ocean appears to have increased by 50% over a decade
    a newly discovered large subglacial basin deep in the interior of the Weddell Sea, under the present day Filchner Ice Shelf and its tributary glaciers
    Plausible redirection of warm coastal ocean currents into the Filchner trough beneath the Filcher-Ronneshelves As a consequence, basal melting increases by a factor of 20
    In general, a consistent picture emerges around Antarctica of ice and ice shelves responding rapidly via the ocean to changes in Southern Hemisphere wind pattern
    Patterns that themselves vary on timescales of years to decades in concert with global features such as El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)


    Marine-terminating glaciers drain nearly 90% of the Greenland ice mass
    Under-ice motions (basal sliding) play a very large role in dynamics of ice sheet’s
    Vertical uplift, in excess of post glacial rebound, due to rapid crustal response to recent ice mass losses
    Uplift ‘pulses’ correlated with short-lived events such as seasonal surface melt anomalies
    Greenland Ice Sheet interacting extensively and rapidly with surrounding ocean (Fig.2) and overlying atmosphere


  286. prokaryotes:

    East Antarctic Methane Emissions http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/07/east-antarctic-methane-emissions/

  287. Hank Roberts:

    Yep, which you’ve cited to your climatestate, which cites the story to National Geo, which said last year:
    Jemma Wadham of the University of Bristol, England, and her colleagues have not actually detected methane-producing microbes under the Antarctic ice sheet. They haven’t detected methane either—though they are participating in drilling projects that could do so later this year. Yet a top journal has now published their analysis of the potential climate impact of those undiscovered microbes….”

    The top journal is Nature, but the link goes to their index page.

    You can, presumably, look this stuff up.

    Make it easy for your readers, eh? Seriously, it’s a what-if on a hypothetical on a could-be that asserts that what we all know is most likely true could be, er, happening. Except it isn’t. But it could be, couldn’t it?

    Yes, surely, if we wait long enough the evidence will begin bubbling up.

    But — there are much more urgent problems coming on sooner and if we attend to them we might not -get- to the methane meltdown. Isn’t that the whole idea?

    We all know lots of terrible things could well go wrong, if we go in the direction we’re headed until we get there. That would be stupid. Because so much else would have already gone to hell by that point that many other problems would befuddle us.
    meYvoid becaufe
    says reCaptcha.

    I think I’ve got to avoid more of this, because it makes me crazy.
    Carry on. I’m going back to work on making topsoil, it’s something I can do.

  288. Omar Cabrera:

    @279 Yes, the other way is if you have permission to access the satellite feed and to publish the data. In that case, you access the data but while you can get a much better resolution, the way it’s served makes it almost impossible to store it in your own. You depend fully on the data availability on a server you don’t control, and the amount of data is so massive due to its detail that it limits the tools you can use to visualize it. Yes, you can show it in Google Earth, but after you’ve processed the data with matlab, and doing that process online, on the fly with terabytes of data isn’t feasible.

    On the other hand, consider that IASI’s is currently the only up-to-date public global methane data, so if you start your accruing process by interpolating from existing public imagery that is sitting in your server, it:
    a) makes it a lot easier to get permission to publish the data AND
    b) you can publish it without having to request access/permission on a per-research basis. Also,
    c) truth is that the interpolation’s margin of error is negligible for practical purposes (up to 6ppb error margin per pixel average, 80% of errors of +-2ppb) if you don’t mind how coarse the data is; and because of how coarse the data is
    d) you can store many years of data on “normal” servers.

    So, those are the reasons why we’re interpolating data.

    I’m still owing a lot of content Hank -sorry!-. New development has taken 100% of my time, but I think it’s worth it, if you check methanetracker again Monday afternoon there will be a great new functionality online. Anyhow, part of the half-written, not-yet-published content explains why methanetracker; and one of the many reasons why is to allow for the public methane data to be public AND useful (meaning, standardized so that the community can actually use it). Interpolating data this way gives us more flexibility to bring the real data to the general public almost real-time without detriment to its quality.

  289. Omar Cabrera:

    @280 Sorry about that. I need to rewrite much of the content. As this first batch of content sits right now, many pages and articles were written for methane scientists and people that follow (and have been closely following) methane emissions. You know about it if you follow methane regularly, otherwise you won’t know because nobody reports it. I think this methane venting episode in Antarctica is huge and unprecedented, but what I think makes it newsworthy is that when you look at the source, it’s just a canary in a coal mine. I find it funny that while in my view this is one of the most important news we’ve had over the last 250 million years, nobody reports it or know about it. If I may suggest, I would start my reading here: http://methane-hydrates.blogspot.com/2013/05/antarctic-methane-peaks-at-2249-ppb.html

  290. Kevin McKinney:

    #288–Alarming, but I can’t forbear a little proofing: “Wadham, and *her* colleagues?” Or is this a different ‘Wadham?’ Really, one should be able to tell from the article itself…

  291. sidd:

    A long time ago, last year actually, Kidder and Worsley wrote in GSA today
    and very nice it was,too. But the timescale on Fig 5 was comfortable centuries, and I am lazy …

    I have finally got around to reading Kidder and Worsley 2004,2010
    and now i am alarmed. Exactly how long before something like the Med turns into sulfidic stew ? Any ocean chemists wanna comment ?


  292. Tony Weddle:

    I recently came across this article by Ron Prinn , Professor of Atmospheric Science in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. It confirms what I’ve read elsewhere, that, taking all atmospheric composition into account, the concentration of greenhouse gases is over 470 ppm of CO2 equivalent. As I understand it (and as mentioned in a recent article by Joe Romm, at Climate Progress), the CO2e concentration must be kept under 450 to have a chance of avoiding dangerous climate change, with a 2C temperature rise. Leaving aside the question of whether the dangerous limit is actually under 2C now, surely this means that dangerous climate change is now assured. Is that right?

    There is also the question of whether the factor for methane should be much greater than the 20-25 that normally gets used. Methane has returned to its increasing trend. That is, more methane is being released into the atmosphere than is breaking down each year. Consequently, when calculating CO2e, shouldn’t the higher short term strength of methane be used. That would take CO2e concentration to about double preindustrial times. Is it game over?

  293. Kevin McKinney:

    #286 (NOT 288!) and my comment–You are apparently supposed to follow every link to make sense of the article…

    Turns out “Wadham” is Jemma Wadham, a typically ivory tower climate modeler who:

    While waiting for a drill that could take her there, Wadham has done her best with a chain saw. For years she has marched up to the leading edge of glaciers in Antarctica, Greenland, and Canada and sawed off cubic-foot (0.03 cubic-meter) blocks from the base of the ice—blocks that include sediments picked up by the glaciers as they advanced. Wadham shoves the blocks into sterile bags, stows them in trunks full of Styrofoam, cheerfully pays extreme excess baggage fees, and prays she and her cargo can make it to her sub-zero freezer in Bristol in 24 hours.

    In the lab she incubates small vials of melted ice and sediment for as long as two years, scrupulously avoiding contamination. The result: “Every glacier where we look,” she said, “we find microbes in the sediments beneath the ice”—including microbes that are producing methane, albeit at slow rates.

    Those measured rates are what Wadham and her colleagues used to estimate how much methane might have been produced on the scale of the Antarctic continent.

    It’s in a NatGeo article from last summer:


    On the climate state article, Dr. Yurganov–whose career is focused on remote sensing and specifically IR spectrography–seems to be suggesting that the supposed ‘venting’ of methane was an artifact:

    Antarctic methane? It is impossible for the Antarctic continent. AIRS receive radiation in IR, that is coming from the upper troposphere or even stratosphere in that region. It is unsensitive to the very cold surface of the ice dome.

    That was noted in the article, to be fair.

  294. prokaryotes:

    Kevin McKinney said:” “Wadham” is Jemma Wadham, a typically ivory tower climate modeler”

    I do not agree with Kevin McKinney’s assertion and especially not so with the framing of a scientist here. There is nothing wrong with these modelling of potential methane hydrate formation beneath the Antarctic ice sheets. And this is part of the data you want to include when looking at potential Methane origin’s. If you want my further attention provide scientific proof that these models are wrong.

    Dr Sandra Arndt, a NERC fellow at the University of Bristol who conducted the numerical modelling, said: “It’s not surprising that you might expect to find significant amounts of methane hydrate trapped beneath the ice sheet. Just like in sub-seafloor sediments, it is cold and pressures are high which are important conditions for methane hydrate formation.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120829131628.htm

    Further Kevin McKinney claims:”supposed ‘venting’ of methane was an artifact”. That’s not at all what he said, and month of methane concentration observation’s reveal.

  295. Hank Roberts:

    > … modelling of potential methane hydrate … If you want my
    > further attention provide scientific proof that these models are wrong.

    Dr. W. was — in 2012 — participating in drilling that finished later sometime in 2012, according to the National Geographic article you cited.
    That could prove these models are wrong — or show evidence they’re right.

    So, catch us up here — what did Dr. W. find out from the drilling?
    Did you look for current information?

    I’d -bet- she’s right. It’s not a new idea. But that’s not evidence.

  296. prokaryotes:

    Hank, why don’t you use google yourself? Other than that it is odd how you ignore the rest of the article findings, how come?

  297. prokaryotes:

    A closer look at subglacial glacier cavities and water pressure http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/07/a-closer-look-at-subglacial-glacier-cavities-and-water-pressure/

  298. patrick:

    Why and what do you want to communicate? The two first questions offered to scientists by Gavin in his talk at the AGU Chapman Conference on Climate Science Communication are good questions to ask. They are helpful in any case.

    But it’s helpful to ask them from the other side, too, re: blogs and sites. I take them on their own terms–for their own purposes and for what they have to say. The fact that they are not primary sources is not a problem in itself. I give them credit for what they do, what they find, and how they put it together.

  299. Kevin McKinney:

    #194–Prok, that ‘ivory tower’ reference was pure irony–a gal who waltzes up to the glacier’s base with a chainsaw is hardly immured at all, let alone imprisoned in the stereotypical impervious ivory tower! I would have thought that was self-evident from the juxtaposition of the characterization and the article quote, but evidently I was wrong. Let me speak plainly, then: I admire Dr. J. Wadham’s spirit and dedication. (Her analysis may be stellar, too, for all I can tell.)

    As to Yurganov’s comments, no, what I wrote was not what he *said;* it represented my good-faith effort to interpret his comments. Let’s quote him:

    Antarctic methane? It is impossible for the Antarctic continent. AIRS receive radiation in IR, that is coming from the upper troposphere or even stratosphere in that region. It is unsensitive to the very cold surface of the ice dome.

    IOW, the signal does not originate at the surface–since the surface is very, very cold, it is emitting much less strongly in IR than other places. (Again, I’m doing my best to interpret; he didn’t say that explicitly.) So the signal is from the high troposphere, or even the stratosphere. Does it represent methane advected from elsewhere? Is it spurious? (No offence, that is something that happens.) It may also be real methane that has been mixed to that high in the atmosphere. I don’t know.

    “Artifact” may be over-interpreting, but hey, I’m trying to figure out just what Dr. Yurganov meant by his brief comment. Clearly, he is not accepting it at face value.

  300. Kevin McKinney:

    Well, there’s something in press from Dr. J. Wadhams:


    Maybe we’ll learn something more when this comes out.

  301. Chuck Hughes:

    Okay, let’s at least establish a baseline for further discussion…

    Is there anyone on this web site who DOES NOT think we will reach 500ppb of CO2 by or before the end of this century????

    If you don’t think this will happen please explain why. Otherwise, is there any real reason to believe humans are going to survive?

  302. Hank Roberts:

    > use google yourself

    That drilling program the article you cited said would
    be completed late in 2012.

    I did.

    But I’m not the updater for your blog.

    Carry on.

  303. Ray Ladbury:

    Chuck Hughes,
    I am pretty sure we’ll be over 500 ppmv. I don’t think that will necessarily be the end of human civilization, let alone of humanity. That said, our progeny will be in for a world of hurt. We will see a large decline in human population. I think humans will survive. The question is whether it will be in a global civilization or as small bands of hunter-gatherers.

  304. James Cross:


    You are far too pessimistic.

    We will probably exceed 500 but I would project the rate of increase to slow during the second half of this century as alternative energy technologies begin to predominate.

    Even so, we won’t be reduced to hunting and gathering.

    Consistently the doomsayers underestimate technological progress. Erlich’s population projections were right but the starvation he projected failed to materialize because of agricultural technological progress. I see no reason for this progress to stop. We will develop new crops and more intensive means of farming that require less energy than the techniques in use today. Expansion of health resources, improvement in sanitation, and general economic growth in the developing world will slow population growth. The right sort of alternative energy technologies might be adopted in the developing faster than in the developed ones – just as developing countries skipped line telephone lines and went straight to cell phones. This is key if we intend to slow CO2 increase overall for the planet because the most recent increases have come with a declining contribution from the U.S. as we have switched to natural gas for power generation.

  305. Ray Ladbury:

    James, Technology is not magic. There are limits to what it can do–and among those limits is support 10 billion on a planet that would strain to support 1 billion. All technology does is increase the population overshoot and the damage done to the planet.

    I agree that 500 ppmv won’t reduce us to hunter-gatherers, but 800 might, and I see no sign we’ll avoid that.

    In any case, I’m not sure where this new technology is to come from since we aren’t even investing in basic science anymore.

  306. patrick:

    July 24–President of the Reinsurance Association of America, Frank Nutter, testifying before Senate committee, notes Munich Re view (mentioned #221): http://climatenexus.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/signals.pdf

    Testimony: http://climatestate.com/2013/07/24/insurance-industry-warns-of-climate-change-and-extreme-weather/
    ClimateState post with video says: “The…point is…insurance companies live and die by their ability to estimate risks.”

    Frank Nutter: “Reinsurance…is science based. Blending the actuarial sciences with the natural sciences helps us with an understanding about climate and its impact on a variety of weather conditions.”

    Those who live by factual estimates about climate: practicing climate scientists, reinsurers, the U.S. Navy… Let’s see, who else…

  307. Omar Cabrera:

    When I referred to the “huge methane venting episode” in East Antarctica I based this on observations of data coming from IASI, not AIRS. My experience with Giovanni/AIRS is mixed. I stopped using it beginning of January 2013 after it didn’t pickup any data for a couple of days on the area I was watching in the Arctic and switched to IASI as my main source of methane data.

    I also would like to mention that:
    – The goal of the two videos wasn’t to report on that methane venting episode, but to explain how to use the “Unified methane layers” functionality on methanetracker.org. It just happens that the venting episode in Antarctica was the largest one in the world since January 1st. (start of data in methanetracker) in extent and duration and I used it as an example just because of that; and
    – Dr. Yurganov watched these videos before they were public, as we rely on his technical advice, and we wanted to have his blessing before making the videos public on YouTube.

    That being said:

    There are very few instruments measuring methane remotely: AIRS, IASI, CrIS and TANSO for the GOSAT project are the ones I’m aware of. Of those, AIRS and IASI are the only two instruments that were serving information publicly and after AIRS stopped serving data publicly in Feb. 28 2013 (this venting episode started beginning of Feb.), IASI is the only instrument measuring CH4 that provides public data (that I’m aware of, I could be wrong).

    So the real question is. Is the data from IASI reliable?

    CH4 remote readings are not exact yet and won’t be for several years more, but they’re not that inexact either. We do have some non-remote almost exact CH4 measurements. They were measured by the HIPPO aircraft missions.

    Consider X. Xiong et al 2013 validation of IASI data: http://www.atmos-meas-tech-discuss.net/6/2501/2013/amtd-6-2501-2013-print.pdf

    Xiong et al uses the HIPPO missions CH4 readings to validate the remote readings from IASI. They found that the error of the IASI CH4 remote readings is up to 1.5%, at high hPa and it increases with the latitude, but it seems to be under 0.5% around the 586hPa which is where most of the East Antarctic methane is (Fig. 9 shows the error).

    On the other hand, you can compare IASI, AIRS and CrIS here (this is a presentation by Xiong, same author of the paper): http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/documents/science_team_meeting_archive/2012_11/slides/CH4_NASASounder_2012_xiongxz.pdf.


    – Are IASI’s readings “exact”? No, they’re not.

    – Can you trust them enough to report that there is an East Antarctic methane venting episode? I think the answer is yes. Even in the absolute worst case scenario, the margin of error in Antarctica at 586 hPa shouldn’t be more than 5% (and I may be wrong, please correct me if I’m wrong), with a likelihood between 2% and 3%. At 2200ppb even if you count a 5% extra on EVERY SINGLE READING reported on an absolute worst case scenario, the result would still be more than the 1950ppb in yellow off the color chart.

    Is this an artifact? You can draw your own conclusions: Read both (paper and report) by Xiong et al mentioned above, and then check the original IASI readings on the apocalypse4real website: https://sites.google.com/site/apocalypse4real/ or you can run on methanetracker.org a methane chart (data/interactive methane charting) and run a methane avg. ppb x hPa x day for Antarctica, for any period between March and July (a few days should be enough to make the point). After it processes the graph, it will show the original data from IASI under the graph with a link to the original image. Whatever you see in yellow is more than 1950ppb.

    The original image from IASI also has the ppb range.

    I think that there is a methane venting episode going on, but I also think that it means what it means. It means that this is a big and potent unexpected source of methane. It also means that our computer simulations have a LONG way to go, and it also means that field research must be done.

    How much methane is there under East Antarctica? a lot less than under the ESAS. That much we do know. There are few things more we know without further research.

  308. James Cross:

    Any thoughts on this and whether it might also apply to climate models?


  309. prokaryotes:

    NASA Video | Projected U.S. Temperature Changes by 2100 http://climatestate.com/2013/07/28/nasa-projected-u-s-temperature-changes-by-2100/

  310. Tony Weddle:

    #292 I dug a little more (it’s difficult to find much information or data on current CO2_e) and found an old RealClimate post from 2007, which addressed this subject. It looks like I might have been overlooking aerosols negative forcing. That article stated that the effects of aerosols is (was) highly uncertain but a good guess is that, overall, the CO2_e figure is close to the CO2 figure. That would put us about 400 ppm CO2_e, if the same applied now. However, using a factor of 25 for CH4 doesn’t seem right, at a time when CH4 is increasing. If we used a factor of 75 instead (since the amount in the atmosphere this year is more than last year, though a factor of 100 seems better), then we’re well through the notional limit of 450 CO2_e. Have I got something wrong and is there better information on current CO2_e?

  311. Omar Cabrera:

    Oops, sorry! I was looking at the comments at the end of page 6. Didn’t mean to change the subject.

  312. prokaryotes:

    Omar Cabrera, what do you think of Yurganov’s and other comments, about the Methane http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/07/east-antarctic-methane-emissions

  313. Dave123:

    Question for people intimately familiar with climate modeling code. Do any of them use random number generators in them-with the purpose of creating small random perturbations in the systems with time for probabilistic assessments (Do 1000 runs and see what it looks like) or are they strictly deterministic?

    Has anyone read this paper and wish to describe what they’re talking about:


    I can’t find a reference to a comparable study on other modeling systems, but that may be a keywording problem.

  314. Kevin McKinney:

    #307–Thanks for expanding upon the capabilities we currently have. Based upon what you said, it certainly seems likely that there was indeed something going on.

    If we see the signal at the 586 hPa level, how closely can we constrain the origin of the methane? A naive question, perhaps, but I’m very aware that I know almost nothing about how methane mixes (or doesn’t mix) in the atmosphere, or about how atmospheric circulation would affect methane being vented from the surface in February.

  315. David B. Benson:

    Dave123 @313 — Hong et al. note in the abstract that there are variations between computers due to different hardwear implementations of round-off. Is that what you needed.

    As for your first question AFAIK the codes do not use pseudo-random number generators. It is typical to repeat runs using slightly different initial conditions to establish variation.

  316. Chuck Hughes:

    So…. if you were to take the current rate of CO2 increase on a per year (BAU) basis and extrapolate outward say, two decades from now, what would be the approximate level of CO2 in ppb by 2033? Or, how many ppb are we adding each decade at our current rate of increase?

    Because the transition over to renewable energy might slow the progression down and we don’t know how quickly that would happen, let’s assume that the rate of CO2 stays the same as it is today and go with worst case scenario, since that’s what we want to avoid. How long, theoretically, would it take us to get to 500ppb?

    I’m thinking if we reach that level we would be noticing some drastic changes in weather patterns way beyond what we’re seeing now. Would CO2 levels at 500ppb take us far past the 2 degrees Celsius target set by the IPCC?

    And to take it one step further… is there a “known” level of CO2/temperature where reversing the situation becomes impossible within the next several centuries? I’d like to know if there is an established consensus amongst scientists concerning a “point of no return” on temperature/CO2 levels.

    I realize this is not a new question for climate scientists but since we’re in an ever changing situation I think an update based on current trends would be helpful.


  317. Walter Pearce:

    Regarding methane, here’s an op-ed from a reliable source who puts numbers to methane leaks from fracking:


    “But recent measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at gas and oil fields in California, Colorado and Utah found leakage rates of 2.3 percent to 17 percent of annual production…A 2011 study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research concluded that unless leaks can be kept below 2 percent, gas lacks any climate advantage over coal.”

    Apologies if this has already been mentioned here recently.

  318. Kevin McKinney:

    #316–That’s easy, Chuck. We are seeing rates of roughly 2 ppm–which is, I think, what you meant to type for “ppb”–each year. So if that rate were to continue, we should see (in Ralph Keeling’s words*) the first “flicker” of 450 ppm just 25 years from now–2038. We’d then hit 500–the previous benchmark you mentioned in an earlier comment–in a further 25 years, which would be 2063.

    Of course, that’s just extrapolation. Three monkey wrenches:

    1) Emissions still seem to be increasing globally.
    2) It’s unknown (AFAIK) how long CO2 sinks will continue to operate at their current efficacy, and there are good physical reasons to suppose that at some point that efficacy will decrease. That would of course increase atmospheric concentrations more quickly.
    3) As warming continues, we may see natural sources–as, for instance, the methane releases which we have been discussing at some length increase, and it’s possible that these may be highly non-linear. (Again, see methane discussion.)

    On the other hand, emissions mitigation may yet occur, and may occur in a non-linear fashion as well.

  319. Kevin McKinney:

    Oh, I forgot the asterisk in the comment above. Old-fashioned footnote format; I wanted to point to the article I wrote on attaining 400 ppm earlier this year, which included the ‘first flicker’ comments of Ralph Keeling.

    The piece may still be of some interest to those who haven’t had occasion to look into CO2 monitoring, the Keeling curve, et cetera.


    Also good to point to when someone mentions the ‘puny humans’ meme! ;-)

  320. Omar Cabrera:

    @314 @312 Actually, it started in Feb. 4th. and it’s still going today (http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/IASI/img/t2/D1/mr_ch4.080.gif) IASI has been getting high readings twice every day (at the 0-12z and 12-24z satellite passes) for almost 6 months without signs of stopping. As the southern winter sets in, the emissions seem to be lower, but everything you see in yellow in the link above is methane over 1950ppb today. It goes from 440hPa to 640hPa and it usually shows the most at 586hPa. What I wonder is how these graphs are going to look like in summer in few months more.

    Methane mixes well in the atmosphere. What I have observed for sources where we know the duration (like wildfires), is that high remote readings almost never last more than 24 hours before they go down (meaning, before the methane mixes with the atmosphere).

    Now, I don’t know if methane mixes well in Antarctica’s weather. One would guess that it’s unlikely for methane to remain in the atmosphere for 6 months when it normally dilutes within 24 hours (also, when you look at the animation overtime, it does look like new methane is being generated inland and old one blown out to the coast).

    Where is it generated? We don’t know. If I have to give a wild guess without scientific backup, IF the same methane mixing applies in Antarctica than what observed in Siberia (which I don’t know); just eyeballing it looks like it’s coming from a unique source but vented from many areas (40 to 100 maybe?) I could write a program to count them, identify 65 mile radius “hotspots” and measure how much methane is going out from those hotspots (this, if I knew how methane behaves in the Antarctic weather at those hPa and the remote readings exact margin of error in Antarctica).

    Thing is, I don’t want to do this and add to more confusion. I insist that the best way to go about this is to get ready now and send an aircraft beginning of Summer to measure the methane right there in East Antarctica. This will eliminate all errors and assumptions and will also serve as a good tool to validate remote readings in Antarctica.

    PLEASE NOTE that a methane venting episode coming from East Antarctica is crazy, illogical, unexpected and it should not be happening. It’s like watching pink elephants flying by your window. First I think we need aircraft measurements and field research to validate this beyond any doubt. If there is methane in East Antarctica, we must understand this as another positive feedback, and try to make sense of it as to include it in future computer models.

    In regards to Dr. Yurganov’s comment about AIRS, if Yurganov says it’s 4th of July, I grab the firecrackers and start my grill without question. Yet AIRS is a different instrument than IASI. I’ll ask him his thoughts about IASI.

  321. Mal Adapted:

    David B. Benson, in response to Dave123:

    As for your first question AFAIK the codes do not use pseudo-random number generators. It is typical to repeat runs using slightly different initial conditions to establish variation.

    It sounds like Dave123 is asking about Monte Carlo simulation, where a (pseudo-)random number generator is used to vary the initial conditions.

  322. prokaryotes:

    Population: Education Leads to Lower Fertility and Increased Prosperity http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/07/education-leads-to-lower-fertility-and-increased-prosperity/

  323. Susan Anderson:

    @309 (climatestate)


  324. prokaryotes:

    @320 Omar, i was just reading this study paper abstract

    Identification and control of subglacial water networks under Dome A, Antarctica
    “Subglacial water in continental Antarctica forms by melting of basal ice due to geothermal or frictional heating

    The water system in the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains reoccupies a system of alpine overdeepenings created by valley glaciers in the early growth phase of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The networks follow valley floors either uphill or downhill depending on the gradient of the ice sheet surface. In cases where the networks follow valley floors uphill they terminate in or near plumes of freeze-on ice, indicating source to sink transport within the basal hydrologic system. Because the ice surface determines drainage direction within the bed-constrained network, the system is bed-routed but surface-directed.” http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013JGRF..118..140W

    Not sure if i understand this correctly but maybe basal melt and following uphill drainage is transporting melted methane hydrates to the surface?

    recaptcha = uagemli rises

  325. prokaryotes:

    Permafrost Thawing Determined by Water in Soil: New Discovery for Climate Models http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/8459/20130729/permafrost-thawing-determined-water-soil-new-discovery-climate-models.htm

  326. Hank Roberts:

    Future Climate Change
    Many good links on the page supporting the statements made.
    Good presentation, I think.

  327. Hank Roberts:

    Asian monsoon precipitation changes and the Holocene methane anomaly
    December 14, 2011, doi: 10.1177/0959683611430408
    The Holocene July 2012 vol. 22 no. 7 731-738

    “we conclude that the late-Holocene methane increase has been significantly influenced by the expansion of early rice paddy fields during the period of declining monsoon precipitation.”

  328. Tony Weddle:

    The rate of CO2 increase has itself been increasing. So I would expect 450ppm to be reached much earlier than 2038. But the CO2 mark is not mystical and not even the target of the 2 degree policy; that mark is 450ppm of CO2 equivalent. It’s hard to find any on-going measurement of that figure but I’m convinced (currently) that the influence of methane needs to be increased in calculations. It’s concentration is rising and so the short term impact of the concentration (1850ppb or more) needs to be used, instead of the long term impact. What is the CO2-e number now? From earlier calculations I’ve seen, it roughly keeps up with the CO2 number. Aerosols are the primary negative forcing, which keeps the CO2-e number down. An economic crash or a peak in fossil fuels burning would likely bring the aerosols figure down rapidly, and the CO2-e number would, correspondingly, shoot up. If methane feedbacks come into play more, there could be some fireworks in the not too distant future.

    I’ve heard a number of climate scientists pretty much state that keeping within 2 degrees is now out of reach. I just wish that such a position was more openly stated because our so-called political leaders can keep procrastinating if they think the public thinks that we’ve still got decades before 450ppm is reached and, therefore, still have time to do something about it. 2 degrees is now unstoppable, so we need a different target, a different strategy.

  329. sidd:

    “… maybe basal melt and following uphill drainage is transporting melted methane hydrates to the surface …”

    Now, that’s a thought. Let’s say hotter water flowing between ice and rock hits a patch of clathrate. Water freezes dumping latent heat into methane release. Methane squirms out as best as it can, will not reform clathrate because as it rises it is out of the pressure boundary on clathrate stability zone. Density difference between methane (even at pressure and either water or ice is huge, buoyant force prevails, methane escapes into air.


  330. Dave123:

    @ David Benson and @ Mal adapted-

    The Abstract of Hong notes “The system dependency, which is the standard deviation of the 500-hPa geopotential height averaged over the globe, increases with time. However, its fractional tendency, which is the change of the standard deviation relative to the value itself, remains nearly zero with time. In a seasonal prediction framework, the ensemble spread due to the differences in software system is comparable to the ensemble spread due to the differences in initial conditions that is used for the traditional ensemble forecasting.”

    The problem is that I have no idea what the significance is for the system dependency increasing with time, while the fractional tendency remains nearly zero means. And since it’s paywalled, I’m not going to find out unless someone here knows…since this is my only access to the modeling community.

    On that note, the July 19th issue of Science has two letters to the editor about validation, verification and uncertainty quantification (VVUT) for complex modeling and publication, and it would be interesting to understand where climate models stand with this compared to many other complex modeling systems.

    And no, I wasn’t really talking about Monte Carlo in this case, although I can see how you might think so. What i was getting as was some nudges to the system because we can’t to my knowledge predict ENSO and other cycles, or volcanic eruptions…so whatever is in there is moved around a bit to see if it produces some amplified effect, or whether it’s damped.

  331. Russell:

    It seems Yamal affords other subjects for controversy besides trees- this just out in GRL:

    Offshore permafrost decay and massive seabed methane escape in water
    depths >20 m at the South Kara Sea shelf†

    Alexey Portnov1,3,*, Andrew J. Smith1,3, Jürgen Mienert1,3, Georgy
    Cherkashov2,3, Pavel Rekant2,3, Peter Semenov2,3, Pavel Serov2,3,
    Boris Vanshtein2,3
    DOI: 10.1002/grl.50735


    [1] Since the Last Glacial Maximum (~19 ka), coastal inundation from
    sea-level rise has been thawing thick subsea permafrost across the
    Arctic. Although subsea permafrost has been mapped on several Arctic continental shelves, permafrost distribution in the South Kara Sea and the extent to which it is acting as an impermeable seal to seabed methane escape remains poorly understood.

    Here we use >1300 km of high-resolution seismic (HRS) data to map hydroacoustic anomalies, interpreted to record seabed gas release, on the West Yamal shelf.

    Gas flares are widespread over an area of at least 7,500 km2 in water depths >20 m. We propose that continuous subsea permafrost extends to water depths of ~20 m offshore and creates a seal through which gas cannot migrate. This Arctic shelf region where seafloor gas release is widespread suggests that permafrost has degraded more significantly than previously thought.

  332. Marc Opie:

    Brian Lilley, (Fox News North, aka Sun Media), has made the claim numerous times that there has been no global warming in twenty years. Any truth to this?

    I’ve been trying to find temperature data, for the globe, on a year by year basis, to examine the claim.

  333. Ray Ladbury:

    Marc Opie,
    It is a bald-faced, flat-out lie.


  334. Hank Roberts:

    Also for Marc Opie: http://www.woodfortrees.org/notes
    Page down to where he tells you
    “Depending on your preconceptions, by picking your start and end times carefully, you can now ‘prove’ that:
    Temperature is falling!
    Temperature is static!
    Temperature is rising!
    Temperature is rising really fast!”
    with clickable links to examples.

    That’s how to fool others (or yourself, or both) who don’t understand the basic lesson from Statistics 101 — given a data set, how to figure out (it’s arithmetic, not opinion) how many data points (years, for “annual” numbers) are needed to make a statement about it.

    You’re asking how to say with confidence that a trend does or doesn’t exist in that particular data set.

  335. Chuck Hughes:

    If the increase of CO2 is at a rate of roughly 2 ppm per year, do we know how much of that increase is due to methane escaping from the permafrost and how much is directly related to human activity? I assume the methane levels will increase over time and add to the CO2 problem.

    Also, Thank you to Kevin and Ray L. for responding to my questions. I try to ask questions that I think the average person would ask and I appreciate your patience.

    It would be nice to have some polling data on the optimism of Climate Scientists overall. I would love to know how many have a sunny outlook about our situation and if so, why?

  336. Hank Roberts:

    Signature of ocean warming in global fisheries catch
    Nature 497, 365–368 (16 May 2013)

    “… (increasing dominance of warm-water species)…. a signature of such climate-change effects on global fisheries catch …. we report such an index, the mean temperature of the catch (MTC), that is calculated from the average inferred temperature preference of exploited species weighted by their annual catch. Our results show that, after accounting for the effects of fishing and large-scale oceanographic variability, global MTC increased at a rate of 0.19 degrees Celsius per decade between 1970 and 2006, and non-tropical MTC increased at a rate of 0.23 degrees Celsius per decade….”

  337. Kevin McKinney:

    #332–Yes, that claim is completely absurd, totally false, even–gasp!–wrong.

    As to data sources, here is an overview.

    There are three ‘thermometer-based’ records which are frequently cited, GISTEMP (a product of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies), the (US) National Climate Data Center, and UK’s Hadley Center/Climate Research Unit data.

    First, the GISTEMP data:


    There are different versions; that’s Land and Ocean (LOTI) monthly global anomalies. (The yearly anomaly is also included, as are seasonal anomalies.) “Anomaly,” by the way, refers to the fact that the numbers are given not in absolute temperatures such as we encounter in daily life, but rather as differences from a given ‘baseline period’ mean temperature. For GISTEMP, that’s 1951-1980.

    The whole idea of anomaly is also explained well on the NCDC ‘Global Surface Temperature Anomalies FAQ’ page:


    From there you can find the monthly data, similar to GISTEMP:


    The remaining dataset of the instrumental (basically thermometric) Big Three is the British data, referred to infomally as HadCRUt:


    It shows a little less warming than the other two, because it basically ignores a fairish chunk of the Arctic, which of course is the quickest-warming portion of the planet (though this issue has been partially addressed in the most recent version, HadCRUt 4.)

    Satellite-based remote sensing of atmospheric temperatures is also often cited. This has different characteristics from the instrumental record; the latter is based on temperatures at 2 meters (for land, though not for sea), while the satellite records are really responding to a much greater depth of the atmosphere. In practice, that means (among other things) that they show a lot more volatility to weather–especially the famous El Nino/La Nina cycles known as ENSO.

    Anyway, the two satellite datasets are RSS (Remote Sensing Systems) and UAH (University of Alabama Huntsville.)

    Their data can be found at these sites:



    RSS overview:


    Just to complicate things further, both UAH and RSS data are further processed by a team at the University of Washington to create two further products, known as RSS-UW and UAH-UW. (The purpose of this processing is to minimize contamination of tropospheric temperature by the stratospheric influence, if I remember correctly.)

    Many of these datasets can be ‘played with’ at the woodfortrees site that Ray linked. It’s a great and mostly fun (but sometimes frustrating) way to get a feel for the data.

    To conclude this lengthy comment, a convenient way of assessing the idea that Mr. Lilley has put forward is to use a statistical procedure that pretty much everybody understands: averaging. Compile the yearly anomalies for each of the last several decades and average them (Excel is readily available for this, or doing by hand is not unfeasible.) You’ll find that the 80s were the warmest decade in the record–until the 90s, when the 90s took the title. But that only lasted until the 00s were in the books. See a pattern emerging? I haven’t calculated averages for the current decade so far, yet. But I’d guess that it’s about comparable to the 00s.

    Do that exercise for yourself, and you, too, will be able to say with authority that Mr. Lilley is full of ‘Shinola.’ (Literally, an archaic shoe product, I believe, but I trust the metaphoric import is clear enough.)

  338. Kevin McKinney:

    Oh, and Marc, should you lose this response (or just find it a bit much–understandable!) you can always find climate data by going to Tamino’s blog, Open Mind:


    If you look up in the masthead, there’s this clickable link that says “Climate Data Links.” Handy, that–though I did my above comment strictly by Googling.

  339. Dan Lufkin:

    @330 — Dave123
    What the Hong paper boils down to is that there’s no systematic difference introduced by running the usual dynamic models under different computer operating systems and different hardware. There are slight variations, probably from rounding-error effects, but the results agree quite well. Over longer forecast periods, a key measure of variation (the 500-millibar height) becomes more variable, but the percentage error does not change significantly.

    The reference to “ensemble forecasts” is about a common procedure of running a model with slightly varying inputs and comparing the different forecasts that result. (Wikipedia has a good treatment, not too technical.) Or you can run different models with the same inputs. You’ll often see this approach in hurricane forecasting. You feed today’s observations into a half-dozen different models and plot all the forecast tracks together. (The spaghetti approach.) Usually, the best forecast will be the one that agrees with the most tracks. Sometimes, only one of the models gets it right (Sandy, for instance, and the European Forecast Center model.) Then everybody learns something.

  340. Kevin McKinney:

    #335–“If the increase of CO2 is at a rate of roughly 2 ppm per year, do we know how much of that increase is due to methane escaping from the permafrost and how much is directly related to human activity? ”

    Precious little is due to methane. Consider that these locally high methane concentrations we’ve been talking about–1900 PPB or so–are less than the yearly atmosphere-wide CO2 increase. (Ie., 1900 PPB = 1.9 PPM.) Global methane is lower than that, and since methane lifetime in the atmosphere is about 10 years, only a fraction of *that* would be ‘new methane.’

    But you could search up a more detailed answer–sinks and sources of CO2 and methane have certainly been studied, so I’m sure that numbers are available.

  341. Hank Roberts:

    Chuck Hughes asks about methane. Google Scholar is a good place to start, look for review articles from the last year or three, for example:

    It’s science writing, focusing more on what we don’t yet know and how we could find out than on what we do know so far.

  342. Hank Roberts:

    Brief quote from that _copernicus.org_ paper:

    “Here we show a synthesis of the global CH4 budget for the past three decades by consolidating the available knowledge from the above approaches: atmospheric inversions, bottom-up land surface models, and emission inventories. With support from the Global Carbon Project, we have been bringing together most of the scientific teams working on estimating CH4 sources and sinks from regional to global scales. We will present a complete synthesis of the decadal CH4 budget for the past three decades, the regional CH4 budget, the interannual variability of atmospheric CH4, and the remaining uncertainties in the knowledge of the CH4 cycle.”

  343. prokaryotes:

    Arctic methane catastrophe scenario is based on new empirical observations
    Critics of new Nature paper on costs of Arctic warming ignore latest science on permafrost methane at everyone’s peril http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/jul/31/artic-methane-catastrophe-empirical-evidence

    I would rather see a discussion based on probability than credibility. And a discussion which includes all greenhouse gas sources, ie. methane hydrates from ocean seabed deposits, permafrost thaw, soil respiration, wildfire feedbacks in higher latitudes, pipeline leakage (which is increased through permafrost melt), thermokarst formation, carbon river discharge providing material for decomposition…

    DOC is a food supplement, supporting growth of microorganisms and plays an important role in the global carbon cycle through the microbial loop. Moreover it is an indicator of organic loadings in streams, as well as supporting terrestrial processing (e.g., within soil, forests, and wetlands) of organic matter. Dissolved organic carbon has a high proportion of biodegradable dissolved organic carbon (BDOC) in first order streams compared to higher order streams. [..] The BDOC fraction consists of organic molecules that heterotrophic bacteria can use as a source of energy and carbon. BDOC can contribute to undesirable biological regrowth within water distribution systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolved_organic_carbon

    They release energy by oxidizing carbon and hydrogen atoms present in carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins to carbon dioxide and water, respectively. Most opisthokonts and prokaryotes are heterotrophic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterotrophic

    Another important point is to acknowledge better the latitude characteristic of today’s cryospheric setup and that this unique scenario is different from past deglaciation patterns, hence different feedback potential in time and space.

  344. Hank Roberts:

    They just don’t give up, do they? The Grauniad

    — cites its own 2010 article as “the latest science”
    — conflates methane hydrates and carbon permafrost sources
    — loses the facts about what’s warming where
    — obscures the issues of probability
    (one is improbable, the other is observed fact)
    — captures More Credulous Readers Fast

    Their advertisers must be thrilled.

    What’s really amazing is that a couple of years ago it was methane hydrates all the time, seabed bubbles, vast plumes in the water — and the scientists pointed out that, no, they’re detecting known sources of recent carbon from permafrost melting — a real, known, observation — and said there’s nothing in the past suggesting the seabed warms up that much that fast.

    And here we are three years later, and the methane drumbeat story is taking the facts the scientists raised — that it’s known to be coming from permafrost, and nobody’s yet published a picture or description of the Laptev Sea bubbling as described back then; the same news story keeps being reblogged as though it’s news. And the methane from permafrost? Yeah we know that. The disintegrating permafrost putting organic carbon into the rivers that flow out to sea where it too gets oxidized? We know that.

    Pull the damn methane hydrate rabbit out of the hat or quit waving that hat in our faces, huh? Whoever’s hyping this methane confusion is capturing the attention of some deeply sincere, highly concerned, very motivated people — so they spend time, effort and worry about the wrong problems.

    Polarizing the opposition is a great classic old denial tactic
    Fund the extreme edges of the policy area.
    Set them against each other.
    Delay and profit.

    Reality is plenty scary enough.

    Yes, the evidence for methane will bubble up eventually, given time.

    It will hardly matter by the time it does, because
    What matters is stopping burning fossil fuel, now.

    It makes no practical difference whether or not we get to the point methane erupts from the seabed — as it’s never done before, in those areas, even when the polar ice melted away completely in the deep geological past, so we can’t show that it’s at all probable it’ll happen anytime soon.

    It makes no practical difference because _we_don’t_want_to_go_that_direction
    and all the steps
    all the steps in that direction
    involve burning more coal and oil
    digging more coal
    drilling more oil

    Stop doing the stupid, and the incredibly stupid won’t be reached.

    Get everyone worried about the incredibly stupid,
    while doing the stupid
    drilling for gas
    and claiming it’s helping the climate problem
    and we’ll end up where we’re headed now.

    Do we really want to do this?

  345. Kevin McKinney:

    #343–Thanks for the link. The ‘money quote’ is perhaps this one:

    The mechanism which is causing the observed mass of rising methane plumes in the East Siberian Sea is itself unprecedented and hence it is not surprising that various climate scientists, none of them Arctic spec-ialists, failed to spot it. What is actually happening is that the summer sea ice now retreats so far, and for so long each summer, that there is a substantial ice-free season over the Siberian shelf, sufficient for solar irradiance to warm the surface water by a significant amount – up to 7C according to satellite data.

    That warming extends the 50 m or so to the seabed because we are dealing with only a polar surface water layer here (over the shelves the Arctic Ocean structure is one-layer rather than three layers) and the surface warming is mixed down by wave-induced mixing because the extensive open water permits large fetches.

    So long as some ice persisted on the shelf, the water mass was held to about 0C in summer because any further heat content in the water column was used for melting the ice underside. But once the ice disappears, as it has done, the temperature of the water can rise significantly, and the heat content reaching the seabed can melt the frozen sediments at a rate that was never before possible. The authors who so confidently dismiss the idea of extensive methane release are simply not aware of the new mechanism that is causing it.

    That’s Dr. Peter Wadhams, defending the plausibility of the idea that current conditions could cause just such a methane release as is envisioned in his recent paper with the economic modelers–you remember, the one which attached the $60 trillion price tag to sea ice loss. If he’s right, we’re seeing the early development of a serious non-linearity–a ‘tipping point.’

    True, there remains the point that it’s less significant for the long-term trajectory than one might think–a point that was also evident in the ‘Wadham paper’ (Whiteman et al, 2013)–as Gavin and Dr. Archer have pointed out. But the price tag remains, and so does the fact–presuming it to be fact for the moment–that the ride is going to get a lot bumpier for all of us over the next couple of decades.

    The trouble, of course, is that if Dr. Wadhams is right in this suggestion, then clearly we can’t mitigate our way out of this particular consequence anymore. (And probably not out of more or less complete loss of the Arctic sea ice–though I’ve been pretty pessimistic on that score for a while, as a lot of observers have.) The best ‘action points’ that can be taken from it are adaptive–we can plan for the probable consequences.

    If Whitehead et al was correct, that means that the developing world is going to be hit very hard indeed. What to do about that? Obviously a very, very large question!

    Perhaps needless to say, that doesn’t mean that mitigation is a dead letter–there could be further non-linearities that we can still avoid if we stop being so infernally self-defeating…

  346. Hank Roberts:

    Sorry that got so wordy.


    Scientists are skeptics. Emulate that. When you read news, follow the link, look at the date and source; find the science cited. If you see a blog — look for a contact link on the page; ask the person named as contact for the actual facts behind the claim, and the date and source of the facts.

    If it’s from 2010, it’s not news.

    If you passionately believe it must be true — double check.
    If you’re funded — ask who you’re being funded by.

    Here’s how the delay-by-funding-opposites trick works. It’s an old one.
    With enough money, fund an argument, hollow out the policy center by building more political action around the edges and let’em fight:

  347. Hank Roberts:

    OK, Gavin’s engaged with the Guardian writer Nafeez Ahmed, on Twitter, now. Go there for the interesting stuff: https://twitter.com/ClimateOfGavin

  348. David B. Benson:

    Dave123 @330 — Oh, I now understand. ENSO might well use an AR(2) process with a random number generator and I forgot about volcanoes as well.

  349. David B. Benson:

    Polar Ecosystems Acutely Vulnerable to Sunlight-Driven Tipping Points
    Reduced biodiversity in the Southern Ocean

  350. David B. Benson:

    Could Planting Trees in the Desert Mitigate Climate Change?
    This group suggests planting Jatropha curcas unlike
    Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming
    where a large eucalyptus is suggested.