Unforced Variations: Dec 2013

This month’s open thread. It’s coming to the end of the year and that means updates to the annual time series of observations and models relatively soon. Suggestions for what you’d like to see assessed are welcome… or any other climate science related topic.

354 comments on this post.
  1. Kevin McKinney:

    #298–“I find it interesting that the thing you can least imagine happening is a commitment to degrowth, even though that essentially is just a commitment to words (rather than massive infrastructure buildouts required for a major ramp up of alternatives); and to imagining an economy that can actually be potentially sustained long term on a finite planet.”

    The problem with a ‘commitment to degrowth’–as a side note, spell-check wanted that to be ‘regrowth!’–is that such a path heightens the political obstacles to the nth degree. That, after all, is the nub of what’s rendering the COPP process so tortuously slow: developing nations are not willing to be locked into a position of perpetual economic inferiority. And developed nations are not willing to do more than see the developing ones catch up through relatively faster growth.

    And the problem exists internationally, as well. One of the notable aspects of the last couple of decades has been a global trend toward labor contributing a smaller percentage of economic productivity, with wages following the trend. That has meant that the poor have been losing ground, and the middle has been barely keeping up, at best, even as the economic elite has been getting much bigger slices of the economic pie. That’s been part of the divisiveness in American politics, IMO, and probably in other jurisdictions as well, albeit played out in a complicated fashion due to concentrating ownership of media.

    In a shrinking economy, inter-group strife will tend to grow dramatically–or so one would presume, based upon history. Such a presumption will discourage many from trying the experiment.

    But we certainly need to be looking at the issue of growth and working our way toward a ZEG economy; there’s nothing more certain than that we’ll have to cap human energy use at the planetary scale *sometime.* Just when isn’t really known yet, but the reductio ad absurdum is itself absurdly simple, as the “Galactic-Scale Energy” post shows.

    Yes, please cite/link my Lynas review. Page views are a good thing, from my perspective… and thanks for the kind word.

  2. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by wili — 23 Dec 2013 @ 12:46 PM

    You say- “I don’t like what you’re saying, so shut up.” This is a childish response. I think you should follow your own advice- “I would advise focusing on something other than climate science” because this is a science forum and your manufactured dire predictions are not appropriate. Your list of- “Does anyone anywhere think that” questions are a good example. There have been references here to quite a few analyses that suggest that solar and wind can be upscaled fast enough to avert catastrophe, many provided by SecularAnimist, and my suggestion to check out Jigar Shaw is regarding how renewables can not only accomplish the task but revitalize the economy. Shaw says that solar and wind can’t do it all, just most.

    My confidence in renewables is informed by my own experience. I obtain the electricity for two households on solar power (1.8KW rated panels) and about one automobile tank measure of gasoline (15 gal. last year) for a 1KW Honda generator. I would have thought this impossible 10 years ago but all it took was expert advice, planning, and paying attention day to day. I am finally moving into my new house and it will be the lap of luxury with more PV, energy star appliances, a very efficient wood boiler, and a solar water heater. There will be no air conditioning required. Hear that Ed? I brewed beer in the insulated but unfinished house during a heat wave this summer and it stayed below 70 degrees inside on days up to 107 degrees.


  3. prokaryotes:

    The Climate Champions Of 2013 http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/23/3073901/climate-champs-2013/

  4. Kevin McKinney:

    #289–Steve, I think you mean “Jigar Shah.”

    This looks like the book you mean:


    Thanks for the pointer; I’ll check it out.

  5. Tony Weddle:


    I have a different interpretation of “can”. It is almost the same as “will” because “can” is being applied to humans and you have to accept that humans simply don’t act in a rational way (most of the time). So many of the things you say “can” happen, simply can’t happen on this planet. Now, hypothetically, some of those things might be possible (though please remember that there are always limits), but they neither can nor will happen on this planet with this mix of species.


    Tony Weddle #288, Wili #282,

    Your two posts are excellent, insightful, complementary, and reflect the seriousness of the situation. No need to apologize to any of the critics.

    Tony, I will take issue with your paraphrasing of what McPherson said about positive feedbacks. The easiest way is to quote him verbatim. He lists 29 positive feedbacks, the last two of which are human behaviors (fast-track Arctic drilling; supertanker use of ice-cleared waters). He states:

    “As nearly as I can distinguish, only the latter two feedback processes are reversible at a temporal scale relevant to our species. Once you pull the tab on the can of beer, there’s no keeping the carbon dioxide from bubbling up and out. These feedbacks are not additive, they are multiplicative. Now that we’ve entered the era of expensive oil, I can’t imagine we’ll voluntarily terminate the process of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic (or anywhere else). Nor will we willingly forgo a few dollars by failing to take advantage of the long-sought Northwest Passage.”
    That’s pretty clear to me; they are irreversible on times scales of interest to our survival. How one proves or disproves these assertions is another story, but it seems to me that as temperature increases, the existing feedback mechanisms accelerate and new ones seem to be getting uncovered. The top handful of feedbacks have enough reserves behind them to lead to his prediction of extinction (especially if we keep on the path of BAU, which all but guarantees temperature increases on the order of 5 C by century’s end even without the positive feedbacks), and he would do well by focusing on the key feedback mechanisms.

  7. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Dec 2013 @ 2:53 PM

    Thanks for the correction. My head knows Shah’s name but the communication to my fingers is faulty. Steve

  8. Hank Roberts:


    Subreddit Announcement: Nature Partnership with Journalists and Editors (self.science)
    … by ScienceModerator[M] – stickied post

    One of the big things we’re doing with /r/science now is trying to bridge the gap between the people who do or report science and the public that enjoys it. You guys have very likely noticed the credential-verified panel system we’ve implemented …. We’ve been encouraging scientists and journalists to make their affiliations public and participate actively when they see a user has submitted their article or their publication.
    … we’ve been working with Nature to get access to a handful of their editors and journalists who will regularly participate on articles submitted to /r/science from Nature or nature.com. Nature is one of the most reputable and most cited scientific journals in publication and we’re beyond ecstatic that they want to participate in our subreddit.

    See also:

  9. Hank Roberts:

    Detailed summary with charts from the study on who’s funding climate denial, by physicist John Baez at his site:

    hat tip to John Galkowski at

  10. Lawrence Coleman:


  11. Kevin McKinney:


    Tony (#305), don’t underestimate the capacity of humans to fool you. It’s tough enough to predict what Arctic sea ice will do in a particular season, but humans are orders of magnitude more unpredictable.

    Case in point: South Africa. I remember the 60s, 70s, and 80s; no-one could have rationally predicted things would turn out half as well there as in fact they did. So be cautious about mentally foreclosing the human capacity to surprise. Sometimes the surprises will even be good ones…


  12. prokaryotes:

    It’s tough enough to predict what Arctic sea ice will do in a particular season, but humans are orders of magnitude more unpredictable.

    Actually the predictions of the overall sea ice trend have been accurate. The trend of sea ice decline, where it lacked was the time span involved, which we know today has been underestimated, in part because of conservative estimates. Prediction adjustment are in control by humans, depending primarily on CO2e emissions. Single human interactions are noise in the system, when accounting for collective behavior it becomes more predictable.

    Emergent Collective Behavior
    Some animal societies display coordinated and purposeful navigation of several individuals (from tens to thousands). Each individual uses only local information about the presence of other individuals and of the environment. There is no predefined group leader

    In some cases there is a leader and more restrictive motion, but individuals still use local information to decide how to move. http://baibook.epfl.ch/slides/SwarmIntelligence.pdf

    The human societies have in addition more complex decision making involved through the political processes.

    Systems Thinking for Climate Systems A simple introduction to systems thinking usually starts by pointing out how familiar we are with the idea of “a system” – for example we use the word as a suffix in many different ways: an ecosystem, the transport system, the education system, a weather system, the political system, a computer system, and so on.

    Most people are used to the idea of identifying different aspects of a system they wish to describe: inputs and outputs, a control (or management) mechanism, a boundary that separates the system from its environment, a possible purpose or function of the system, different elements or subsystems, different states that the system can be in, and so on.
    This then leads to insights about the dynamic behaviour of a system, especially in terms of stocks and flows, and positive and negative feedback loops. For example, John Sterman has a simple demonstration of stocks and flows in an atmospheric system, with his bathtub model of greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations.

    But where systems thinking really gets interesting is when we include ourselves as part of the system we’re describing. For example, for the climate system, we should include ourselves as elements of the system, as the many of our actions affect the release of greenhouse gases. But we’re also the agents that give some aspects of the system their meaning or purpose – the fossil fuel extraction and production system exists to provide us with energy, and one could even argue that the climate system exists to provide us with suitable conditions to live in, and that ecosystems exist to provide us with food, resources, and even a sense of wonder and belonging. The interesting part of this is that different people will ascribe different meanings and/or purposes to these systems, and some would argue that to ascribe such purposes is inappropriate.
    Which leads us to the next level of insight, which is that these descriptions of systems are really just ways of looking at the world, and different people will see and describe different systems, even when observing the same parts of the world. As Reynolds points out (Ecological conversations and systems thinking
    ), systems thinking starts when we begin to see the world through other people’s eyes, and the idea of multiple perspectives is a central concept. In this sense, systems don’t really exist in the world at all, they only exist as convenient descriptions of the world. Moreover, when we choose to describe some part of the world as a system, we make explicit choices about where to draw boundaries, and which things to ignore, and these choices themselves are important, because they reveal our biases and interests, and certain choices may help or hinder our attempts to analyze a system.

    Taking this even further, we can then conceive of the system that consists of a group of people and their descriptions of the systems they are interested in, and we can study the dynamics of this system: how people affect one another’s perceptions of the systems, and how those perceptions shape their interactions with those systems. For example, we could describe climate change primarily in terms of the physical processes: carbon emissions, the radiative balance of the atmosphere, average temperatures, and impacts on human life and ecosystems. The leads to a view the problem of climate change as primarily about reducing emissions (and many people who write about climate change take this view). Alternatively, we could describe climate change as one aspect of a system of human growth (in population, energy use, resource use, economic activity, etc) and the many ways in which that growth is constrained on a finite planet. Which then leads to a very different characterization of the problem in which carbon emissions are really just a by-product of a cheap energy consumerist society, and the problem isn’t to reduce emissions, it is to restructure our entire societies (and our conceptions of them) so that we no longer depend on growth in resource consumption as our definition of human progress.

    A key term here is second-order cybernetics. Cybernetics (of the first order) studies the ways in which processes can be controlled, and the engineering of process control systems. Second order cybernetics studies how our perceptions of systems affects our ability to design ways of controlling them. In other words, there are interesting dynamics in the interplay between our understanding of systems, and our attempts to design controllers for them. Much of the problem in understanding and responding to climate change is due to a failure by most writers to appreciate the dynamics in second order cybernetic systems. http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/2011/02/systems-thinking-for-climate-systems/

    Groups and types of systems interact with each other through positive and negative feedback processes, which can trigger a threshold behavior in humans.

    Mark Granovetter, following Schelling, proposed the threshold model (Granovetter & Soong, 1983, 1986, 1988), which assumes that individuals’ behavior depends on the number of other individuals already engaging in that behavior (both Schelling and Granovetter classify their term of “threshold” as behavioral threshold.). He used the threshold model to explain the riot, residential segregation, and the spiral of silence. In the spirit of Granovetter’s threshold model, the “threshold” is “the number or proportion of others who must make one decision before a given actor does so”. It is necessary to emphasize the determinants of threshold.

    A threshold is different for individuals, and it may be influenced by many factors: social economic status, education, age, personality, etc. Further, Granovetter relates “threshold” with utility one gets from participating collective behavior or not, using the utility function, each individual will calculate his cost and benefit from undertaking an action. And situation may change the cost and benefit of the behavior, so threshold is situation-specific. The distribution of the thresholds determines the outcome of the aggregate behavior (for example, public opinion). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshold_model

    For instance certain behavior will rule under special circumstances, which could result in collective behavior change. The general assumption here is an expected behavior change in the human population, which rises and gains with more pronounced climate change.

    Climate change is the strongest force on species, which means that it dominates human behavior. Though this only becomes visible for society under non-equilibrium conditions when things change radically and force a dynamic state.

  13. prokaryotes:

    What Does the New IPCC Report Say About Climate Change?

    The warming is unequivocal.
    Humans caused the majority of it.
    The warming is largely irreversible.
    Most of the heat is going into the oceans.
    Current rates of ocean acidification are unprecedented.
    We have to choose which future we want very soon.
    To stay below 2°C of warming, the world must become carbon negative.
    To stay below 2°C of warming, most fossil fuels must stay buried in the ground.

  14. prokaryotes:

    Ecological conversations and systems thinking

  15. prokaryotes:

    Amazing Photos of the Ontario Ice Storm

  16. Mal Adapted:

    And a resolutely secular Dies Natalis Solis Invicti to you, Lawrence Coleman, and to the entire RC community ;^)!


  17. prokaryotes:

    Australia records its warmest spring

    The spring of 2013 has been Australia’s warmest on record. Mean temperatures for the season were 1.57C above the 1961-1990 average, surpassing the previous record of 1.43C (set in 2006) by 0.14C. Daytime maximum temperatures were also the highest on record, coming in 2.07C above average and 0.24C above the previous record (also set in 2006), while overnight minimum temperatures were the fourth-warmest on record.

    The warmth was most dramatic in September, which saw a mean temperature anomaly of +2.75C, setting a new monthly record by more than a degree. October was also a very warm month, 1.43C above average.Australia records its warmest spring

  18. SecularAnimist:

    The Ghost Of Climate Change Yet To Come
    By Joe Romm
    December 24, 2013


    If humanity gets truly serious about emissions reduction — and by serious I mean “World War II serious” in both scale and urgency — we could go to near-zero global emissions in, say, two decades and then quickly go carbon negative.

    Merry Christmas, folks.

    “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only? Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”

    — Scrooge

  19. Hank Roberts:

    +1 for <a href="excellence in excerpting — you got the core of it. Thanks.


    A reminder — the “carbon sink” is, for the human time scale, done by living organisms. Life on Earth _is_ the “carbon sink” we rely on.

    And we’re chewing up or burning that life on Earth that has been taking care of collecting half the CO2 we’ve been adding.

    We’re trashing what gave us our best protection against our own mistakes so far.


    . Higher levels of extinction (41–60%) had effects rivalling those of ozone, acidification, elevated CO2 and nutrient pollution. At intermediate levels, species loss generally had equal or greater effects on decomposition than did elevated CO2 and nitrogen addition.

    hat tip to

  20. Edward Greisch:

    302 Steve Fish, 297 232 Kevin McKinney, 273 274 275 213 155 100 Hank Roberts, 277 221 153 199 prokaryotes, 288 167 Tony Weddle, 289 148 Steve Fish, 156 Thomas Lee Elifritz 161 Mal Adapted, 124 [edit – please stop this]

    I am not advertising anything. I have nothing to sell. I only correct the false advertising.

    [edit – enough of the attacks against commentators. Stick to issues, not personalities]

  21. Lawrence Coleman:

    320: Edward Greisch. I’m Buddhist by nature and I still gladly get into the Christmas spirit. I might not be as closed minded as some?

  22. Tony Weddle:


    I’ve no idea why you could mistake any of my posts as a sales pitch for solar or wind. I would never do such a thing on any forum, as I don’t believe either of them are an answer to the predicament we face.


    The problems I see with McPherson’s feedbacks is that he sometimes misrepresents the information he links to, sometimes separates out feedbacks that are really the same feedback process and assumes that the effects of the feedbacks are virtually immediately (a few decades) catastrophic. What he hasn’t done is show that his assumption is valid. Having said, that, there are probably enough serious feedbaxcks in there to give anyone alive today concern for both themselves and their descendents.


    Oh, I don’t thnink humans are out to fool me. Whilst there may be a few surprises in store (though I’m not sure that the SA situation has turned out that well), I don’t expect humans, collectively, to act in any way that could be regarded as rational. As Dave Cohen has written, “Homo sapiens is a species, so what you see is what you get”. If anyone expects “us” to get “us” out of this mess, he or she is likely to be sorely disappointed.

  23. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Edward Greisch — 25 Dec 2013 @ 6:44 PM



  24. SecularAnimist:

    [edit – I am fed up policing the comment threads on this. Both you and Greisch are respectfully requested to stop reading each others posts. Do not rise to whatever bait you perceive.]

  25. wili:

    ” enough of the attacks against commentators. Stick to issues, not personalities”
    “I am fed up policing the comment threads on this. Both you and Greisch are respectfully requested to stop reading each others posts. Do not rise to whatever bait you perceive”

    Amen, amen, amen.

    We all have to mellow out a bit. Here’s something that might help some with a certain personal history to do so: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzEd_FCtHN4

    Back on something like the topic: http://www.skepticalscience.com/sea-ice-volume-not-recovering.html

    Sea Ice Volume is Not Recovering

    “…for total area of ice, we are at a low that is historic over not just the satellite era, but at least 1450 years into the past.”

  26. Hank Roberts:

    Just noticed this retraction on the ‘methane emergency’ story
    ( thanks to a pointer found at http://www.reddit.com/r/climate)


    … Nafeez says: September 10, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    … As just another journo trying to make sense of the science, it wasn’t obvious to me at all that Shakhova’s work is speculative.

    That some prominent Arctic scientists seem to agree with her only made it seem more incredible to me that her assertions about gas hydrates at the ESAS are not actually confirmed, but rather hypotheses. Yours and Gavin Schmidts comments have now made this point really clear.

    I didn’t really get this before – the language that has been used by Shakhova and others on this issue has been almost definitive in tone (there *are* this quantity of hydrates etc etc).

    On twitter when Gavin first responded saying ‘but there’s no evidence for this’ after I’d sent a link to a paper by Shakhova and Semiletov talking in some detail about methane clathrates at the ESAS and permafrost, I didn’t grasp that their discussions were actually not proven.

    Journos generally assume that strong statements of fact about science issued – whether in press releases from credible sources or in journal articles – have been checked enough to be reliable. I’m now starting to realise, with some shock, that this is not necessarily the case. (I’ve been a journo for a while but working on enviro related stuff in last few yrs)…

  27. wili:

    “Geoengineering Cannot Undo Climate Change
    Reducing Sunlight Won’t Cool Earth”

    “Two German scientists have just confirmed that you can’t balance the Earth’s rising temperatures by simply toning down the sunlight. It may do something disconcerting to the patterns of global rainfall…

    The argument for geoengineering goes like this: the world is getting inexorably warmer; governments show no sign of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so why not control the planetary thermostat by finding a way to filter, block, absorb or reflect some of the sunlight hitting the Earth?

    …the two biogeochemists at Jena report in the journal Earth System Dynamics that they used a simple energy balance model to show that the world doesn’t work like that. Water simply doesn’t respond to atmospheric heat and solar radiation in the same way…

    …the traffic of water vapor around the planet, plays a powerful role in the making of climate. To change the pattern and degree of evaporation would inevitably disturb weather systems and disrupt agriculture, with unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences.

    The authors say: ‘An immediate consequence of this notion is that climate geoengineering cannot simply be used to undo global warming.'”



  28. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by wili — 27 Dec 2013 @ 2:34 PM

    Not to mention ocean acidification.


  29. wili:

    Good point, Steve. And on the topic of attacks on oceans: http://peakoil.com/enviroment/jeremy-jackson-ocean-apocalypse

  30. Hank Roberts:

    Have a look at this climate blog (new to me; it’s been around since 2010, but I don’t find mention of it previously at RC).

    Written by a science journalist and, having skimmed through it, he seems to be delivering what he hoped: serious information in plain language.

    The familiars from the denier crowd found him long ago; he’s good at answering them.


  31. Hank Roberts:

    and to all a good night

  32. Raul M.:

    Thinking of use of solar electric in the northern latitudes seems seasonal.
    For thinking of using it in the winter dark season is probably more the issue
    Than having it to use. So if I move way north expecting the weather to warm
    Wind and natural gas from methane hydrates could be captured more easily
    Than distant solar radiation. But then there is the ozone hole and how to protect
    Self from exposure. So if I end up hanging out in a abandened mine way up north
    What if a group takes off with my windmill whilst I’m not paying attention. So
    A way to gain natural gas for fuel cell use seems the most discrete.
    How many months are the dark winter months way up north?

  33. Pete Dunkelberg:

    Who are and have been the CO2 producers? The question is answered here:


    Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010
    Richard Heede1
    Climate Accountability Institute, 1626 Gateway Road, Snowmass, CO 81654, USA

    This may be useful practical information to help do something about it. Maybe.

  34. John Atkeison:

    I have not found disagreements about the “climate departure” paper. If it is sound, I think it provides valuable communication tools.

    Is it sound?

    The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability.
    Camilo Mora, Abby G. Frazier, et al
    University of Hawaii.

  35. prokaryotes:

    Re Energy discussion
    The Mind Boggling Promise of Energy Storage

  36. Hank Roberts:

    A question for the modelers — how is primary productivity handled?
    Here’s one page on that: http://www.biogeosciences-discuss.net/10/3627/2013/bgd-10-3627-2013.html

    Here, we use the most recent simulations performed in the framework of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 to assess how these stressors may evolve over the course of the 21st century. The 10 Earth System Models used here project similar trends in ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation and reduced primary productivity for each of the IPCC’s representative concentration parthways (RCP) over the 21st century. For the “business-as-usual” scenario RCP8.5, the model-mean changes in 2090s (compared to 1990s) for sea surface temperature, sea surface pH, global O2 content and integrated primary productivity amount to +2.73 °C, −0.33 pH unit, −3.45% and −8.6%, respectively. For the high mitigation scenario RCP2.6, corresponding changes are +0.71 °C, −0.07 pH unit, −1.81% and −2.0% respectively, illustrating the effectiveness of extreme mitigation strategies.

  37. Hank Roberts:

    A review for policymakers:


    This summary for policymakers reports on the state of scientific knowledge on ocean acidification, based on the latest research presented at The Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, held in Monterey, California, in September 2012. Experts present the projected changes from ocean acidification for ecosystems and the people who rely on them, according to levels of confidence for these outcomes.

    More information HERE

    Relevant link:Third Symposium on The Ocean in a High-CO2 World (24-27 September 2012, Monterey, California, USA)

    The following should also be of interest.

    Do you know where most of the oxygen you breathe comes from?

    Do you know when that was discovered?

    Primary productivity — production of oxygen and carbohydrate, using sunlight and carbon dioxide and water — for this planet is barely partially understood, and changing fast due to climate change.

    Do we feel lucky? Really, really lucky?

    When you start reading the very recent history of science, you’ll likely realize that much of what people set out to study in the past few decades turns out to already be changing very fast due to climate change. “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” applies.

    This will tell you that among much else. There are surprises:

    Nov 26, 2013 – Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry.

    the link is to:

  38. Hank Roberts:

    Time for the annual award stories. Here’s one:

    Climate Change Misinformer Of The Year: The Daily Mail

    The United Kingdom tabloid the Daily Mail could be dubbed “the Fox News of the Internet.” It has a huge audience, a conservative slant and has a blatant disregard for the facts. The paper wields huge power in the UK, and with its website plotting a U.S. expansion … it is increasingly gaining that traction in the U.S. as well.

    The Daily Mail is best known for its celebrity gossip, but this year U.S. media turned to it for science reporting.

    The list of bogus stories — and of the many, many times they were reported as fact by US media and US politicians — is at the link.


  39. Hank Roberts:

    Useful summary from Cliff Maas weather blog:

    why does snow produce cold surface air temperatures? And remember surface air temperatures are measured at 2 meters above the ground level.

    First, snow is highly reflective, allowing it to reflect the warming rays from the sun back to space.

    Second, snow is a very good EMITTER of infrared radiation, much better than the atmosphere. Such emission of infrared radiation to space produces substantial cooling…think of a refrigerator coil at the surface.

    OK, so snow prevents the sun’s rays from warming and snow cools by emitting infrared radiation.

    But there is more. Snow is a good insulator. The ground and particularly the subsoils can be relatively warm. So the snow prevents the conduction of heat from below. That contributes to cooling.

    And finally, if air temperatures get above freezing, melting snow stays at 32F until it gone.

  40. Lawrence Coleman:

    Assuming that the current slowing of the global surface temperature is due to the ocean taking up more CO2 at the higher latitudes, at what point does the ocean begin to get ‘saturated’..relatively speaking and the CO2 uptake starts showing signs of plateauing? Given the current concentration of CO2 and it’s upward march, how many years do we have of this temporary reprieve do you guess/estimate/forecast? I’m not sure which is worse the global temp taking a brief hiatus or the ocean’s acidification accelerating? We really can’t afford to pass the threshold that there is wholesale die off of diatoms and plankton and a subsequent collapse of the ocean’s food chains.

    [Response: There is no obvious decrease in the rate of atmospheric growth of CO2. CO2 is taken up in higher latitudes, mostly in the Southern Ocean, but while the uptake rate is a non-linear function of the chemistry, ocean biology and circulation, it isn’t going to ‘saturate’ any time soon (though it may slow over the next few decades). Ocean acidification is a continuing problem that will get worse though. The IPCC report had a good discussion on this section 6.4.4. – gavin]

  41. pete best:

    We have all been duped say German scientists.


  42. Lawrence Coleman:

    340: Thanks Gavin, I’ll read that report. Cheers! Happy New Year to you and again all at Real Climate!

  43. MARodger:

    pete best @341.
    The actual paper from the two “scientists” (apologies to genuine scientists for misuse of the term) is available here. You will note the perils of curve-fitting a 250-year data series with a 254-year cycle. Or is it the talking to stalagmites in caves for too long. Note that these guys may be suggesting from their grand formula that temperatures as cool as 1880s will return by the early 2100s but strangely they ran out of ink for that part of their little graph.

  44. Hank Roberts:

    > Pete Best … says German scientists

    You say these are German scientists — what’s your reason for believing that?

    a Google Scholar search for
    – “Prof. H. Luedecke” “C.O. Weiss” –
    did not match any articles.

    Why do you trust this enough to repost it?

  45. Meow:

    New paper finds cloud feedback is strongly positive, projects that climate sensitivity is > 3 degrees C per CO2 doubling. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7481/full/nature12829.html (pop news summary at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/31/planet-will-warm-4c-2100-climate ).

    That “uncertainty monster”, it has mouths on both ends.

  46. prokaryotes:

    The Availability of Research Data Declines Rapidly with Article Age

    We examined the availability of data from 516 studies between 2 and 22 years old
    The odds of a data set being reported as extant fell by 17% per year
    Broken e-mails and obsolete storage devices were the main obstacles to data sharing
    Policies mandating data archiving at publication are clearly needed

  47. Hank Roberts:


    We are in the very early days of a better killfile (v 0.24 as of now)

    This is a Chrome extension designed to provide functionality like the usenet killfile to the comments sections of certain blogs. With it, readers can decide that they would rather never see comments from certain individuals, and hide those comments from view.

    It is not intended as a replacement for comment moderation, but merely as a personal measure an individual reader can take for their own peace of mind.

    This extension is a revival of code from an old greasemonkey script

  48. prokaryotes:

    Science from 1957 – copyrighted research, still behind paywalls

    1957 was a noteworthy year for science: the USSR launched Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2, IBM released the first FORTRAN compiler, and the UK’s Medical Research Council published an early report linking smoking and lung cancer. There were groundbreaking publications in the fields of superconductivity and astrophysics such as “Theory of Superconductivity” by John Bardeen, L.N. Cooper, and J.R. Schrieffer and “Synthesis of the Elements in Stars (‘B²FH’)” by Geofrey Burbidge, Margaret Burbidge, William Fowler, and Fred Hoyle.

    On The Road, Next Exit…2053Both of the articles above are copyrighted, but thankfully their publishers have made them available in full online, so that you can read them, even though it may still be illegal to copy and distribute them. Many articles from 1957 remain behind paywalls, including those in major scientific journals such as Science, Nature, and JAMA. Are you interested in a historical perspective on, for example, “Soviet and U.S. Professional and Technical Manpower” or the “Breeding Behavior of Cichlids”? You can’t read those articles unless you pay or subscribe (the first costs US$20 for one day of access; you can purchase the second for US$32).

    It’s remarkable to find scientific research from 1957 hidden behind publisher paywalls. True, some older articles – especially those with enduring impact – have been made available on third party websites, though it is often unclear whether this is being done with the consent (or temporary forbearance) of the copyright holder, or simply being provided by enthusiasts who cannot imagine that access to these works is still legally restricted. But this is not a stable solution for providing reliable access to science. Third party postings can be difficult to find or taken down, links can get broken, and would-be posters may be deterred by the risk of a lawsuit. Under the pre-1978 copyright term, all of this history would be free to scholars, students, and enthusiasts. http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2014/pre-1976

    I wonder what percentage of the online publications related to climate science is buried behind paywall’s? 90%? Does it make any sense to prevent reading science to improve our understanding of climate change?

    Happy New Year

  49. prokaryotes:

    Planet likely to warm by 4C by 2100, scientists warn

  50. prokaryotes:

    A Warning From Carl Sagan on Scientific Ignorance