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Unforced Variations: July 2013

Filed under: — group @ 1 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 Responses to “Unforced Variations: July 2013”

  1. 101
  2. 102
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 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.

  3. 103
    Chuck Hughes says:

    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:

  4. 104
    patrick says:

    @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.

  5. 105
    patrick says:

    @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.

  6. 106
    Complex guy says:

    #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?

  7. 107
    Ken Drinkwater says:

    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 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.

  8. 108
    Bojan Dolinar says:

    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. :)

  9. 109
    SteveF says:

    @ 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]

  10. 110
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    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 of the two.

  11. 111

    #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.

  12. 112
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 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.

  13. 113
    Hank Roberts says:

    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.)

  14. 114
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    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.

  15. 115
    prokaryotes says:

    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).

  16. 116
    Dave Peters says:

    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.

  17. 117
    Hank Roberts says:

    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.

  18. 118
    Hank Roberts says:


    And re

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

    er, what?

  19. 119
    flxible says:

    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

  20. 120
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 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.

  21. 121
    Dave Peters says:

    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.

  22. 122

    #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?

  23. 123

    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.

  24. 124
    Hank Roberts says:

    Looking at 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?

  25. 125
    Thomas says:

    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.

  26. 126

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

  27. 127

    Toronto flooding story here:

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

  28. 128
    David B. Benson says:

    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.

  29. 129
    Dave Peters says:

    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.

  30. 130
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    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 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!)

  31. 131

    #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!

  32. 132
    Radge Havers says:

    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.

  33. 133

    #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.”]

  34. 134

    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?

  35. 135

    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.

  36. 136
    JCH says:

    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.

  37. 137
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @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.

  38. 138
  39. 139
    Radge Havers says:

    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.

  40. 140
    Mal Adapted says:


    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?

  41. 141
    Hank Roberts says:

    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

  42. 142

    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.

  43. 143

    #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…

  44. 144
    David B. Benson says:

    Wildfires May Contribute More to Global Warming Than Previously Predicted

    Yes, its always more complicated.

  45. 145
    David B. Benson says:

    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.

  46. 146
    Hank Roberts says:

    > subglacial water system

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

  47. 147
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @ 142 – That temperature would be Fahrenheit. I think Ricky Rood at 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:

  48. 148
    MARodger says:

    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.

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