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Unforced variations: Feb 2014

Filed under: — group @ 4 February 2014

A little late starting this month’s open thread – must be the weather…

435 Responses to “Unforced variations: Feb 2014”

  1. 151
    Mal Adapted says:

    Drat. The comment preview rendered code &#241 correctly.

  2. 152
    James says:

    A scientist friend (in the medical sciences) is concerned about the lack of analysis in articles printed in the mass media about the impact of revegetation in de-iced oceans (eventual algae growth in the Arctic as the ice recedes) and on de-iced land. He reasons that as the ice recedes, vegetation advances and normal photosynthesis starts acting as a carbon sink.

    Can anyone point me to literature that models and quantifies the impact of this effect on carbon capture?

  3. 153
  4. 154
    Walter says:

    Daring to go down the Rabbit Hole

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    97% of Climate Scientists agree that Global Warming is causing Climate Change and that human activity is what has been causing it.

    98% of your cognitive reasoning is Unconscious!

    Lecture by 40 year veteran of Cognitive Science and Linguistics George Lakoff of Berkeley CA. Founder of the field of Cognitive Science. For the last 30 years an incredible amount has been learned about the human brain and mind. But almost nobody knows about it.

    Watch the video to gain some insights into the relevance to climate change, politics, and policy making. Learn about cognitive policy and material policy.

    What does the public need to understand in order to see that a policy is the right thing to do automatically?

    And learn why everything you learned at college about ‘Enlightenment Reason’ is wrong.

    For those who are up to it, enjoy.


  5. 155
    barry says:

    Richard @ 146

    Spencer has been posting the model/obs comparison graphs for a while now. Initially he posted linear comparisons, and then 5-year running means after complaints, using TMT 20S-20N observations (zeroing in on the tropoical hotspot location). But no one could tell if he had used the same altitude for the CMIP5 projections, and he never clarified after a number of queries so we don’t know if he was comparing apples to apples. He did flag that he was using RCP8.5 projections, which are the highest emissions trajectory of the 4 scenarios developed for AR5 (comparable to A2 scenario in IPCC AR4, which has the highest CO2 emissions in the near-term if I understand it correctly). I don’t know if that trajectory is fit for recent emissions comparisons. Perhaps a moderator could comment?

    His latest attempts at model/obs comparisons, reflected in the Fox article, do not flag which emissions scenario he is using at all, but I assume it is still RCP8.5. Now he is using TLT obs instead of TMT.

    One commenter at his blog saw a problem with the 5-year averaging.

    To the mods: Roy’s charts are widely cited in the blogosphere, and now making it to MSM. As Gavin does an annual model/obs comparison, and Roy’s charts and message are antithetical, would it be worthwhile doing a post on it? I’m pretty sure you would have a large group of interested readers.

    (Or so I assume… +1 anyone?)

  6. 156
    wili says:

    James @152: Skeptical Science had a series on the carbon balance in the Arctic going forward, with special emphasis on permafrost; iirc, the out gassing from melting tundra overwhelms the potential new carbon sequestration. Permafrost holds more carbon than all the carbon in all living things combined, as I recall. So it’s rather…difficult for just one forest (if such were to grow up there) to compensate for the loss of that quantity of carbon.

    Also note that the change in albedo that any foliage above the snow line creates can cause many degrees of warming, locally at at least.

    Others here doubtless know much more about it than I, though.

  7. 157
    Hank Roberts says:

    For James, for your concerned scientist friend (in the medical sciences), he’s starting with an unquestioned assumption, apparently.

    As you state his notion, he is assuming more carbon will be captured when the ice melts and wondering why he doesn’t see that documented in the mass media.

    Suggest he first check that assumption, and that he look for information in Scholar rather than mass media.

    A few productive search terms will give him a good start:
    tundra albedo change “sea ice” algae “primary productivity” permafrost

    LMGSTF him:

    That’s just a start. Scientist types prefer to find things out for themselves rather than be told answers. He can look this one up.

    Odds are he’ll refine that search quite a bit — let us know what he comes up with?

  8. 158
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS for James, for your own information, if you limit the above search to the last few years and read some of the summary and review sources, that will get you a good idea where he’ll end up after he follows the science at his own pace. Here, for example:

    Larry D. Hinzman, Clara J. Deal, A. David McGuire, Sebastian H. Mernild, Igor V. Polyakov, and John E. Walsh 2013. Trajectory of the Arctic as an integrated system. Ecological Applications 23:1837–1868.

  9. 159
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    WebHubTelescope @ 111 re: ENSO “climate science is way cool”

    Yes, isn’t it.

  10. 160

    Also for James–I won’t try to duplicate Hank’s good work, but I will remark that the ‘big picture’ is that cold waters tend to be the most productive waters. There is a reason, for instance that there was historically a strong Greenland whale ‘fishery’–and why the North Atlantic fisheries of all sorts were so productive.

    That is because those cold waters also tend to be the most oxygenated ones, as I understand it.

    As oceans warm, the waters hold less dissolved oxygen:

    As you can see from the curves, there is a considerable difference between 0 C and 25 C.

    One of the really troubling long-term aspects of oceanic warming is the possibility of anoxic oceans, which have occurred in the deep past during ‘hothouse Earth’ episodes. Mark Lynas did a good job of covering that issue, as I summarize here:

    Hothouse Earth episodes and consequences:

    Main summary article on “Six Degrees”:

    One last thought: it’s a mistake to assume (as perhaps your friend does) that the Arctic ocean photic zone is not already inhabited by phyto-plankton. It is. And in fact, the bottom of the sea ice is habitat for more organisms than you might think, and maybe more than anyone yet knows.

    Hank’s suggestions should turn up literature on that, though.

  11. 161
    MARodger says:

    BBC Today programme this morning mentions a (non-Tory) government minister talking of “willfully-ignorant head-in-the-sand NIMBYst conservatism” preventing action on AGW. The programme then interviews one of the prime suspects – Lord Lawson of the Gentlemen Who Prefer Fantasy alongside Prof Brian Hoskins on the question of whether the rain hitting Southern England for the last 8 weeks is the result of AGW.
    The BBC interviewer perhaps got clocked-out at the end of this piece but this is how Lawson was asked about the need to take action on AGW.
    “If there is a chance, and some would say there is a strong chance that man-made global warming exists and is having an impact on us, doesn’t it make sense whether you believe that it is a 90% chance or a 50% chance, does it not make sense to take care to try to avoid the kind of emissions than may be contributing to it? What can be wrong with that?”
    Lawson’s reply “Everything.” He then goes on to inform the audience of this ‘flagship’ BBC news programme that there has been no recorded warming in the past 15, 16, 17 years and when challenged replies “That’s a fact. And it’s accepted even by the IPCC.” The interviewer did say he would get back to it and that ‘get-back’ resulted in Lawson insisting that OHC rise and global ice loss was “pure speculation.” And just to be sure the audience take the proper message away with them the interviewer (Justin Webb) ends this interview with Hoskins & Lawson saying on that seemingly controversial point saying “Well, it’s a combination of the two.”

    I thought the BBC had a handle on these deniers. Naturally I have complained to the BBC. “Almost every point he (Lawson) made was woefully wrong.”

  12. 162
    prokaryotes says:

    I invite all RC regulars to participate in the new ClimateState forum. (If you want full access PM or email me please.) For instance share your project, create and manage your own focus group or share your expertise. Thanks!

  13. 163
  14. 164
  15. 165
    I ask, therefore I am says:

    There’s been a lot of weird weather in the last year or two. If some rogue nation or other entity was doing geoengineering on the sly, could it be detected, and could it cause weather anomalies like we’ve been seeing?

  16. 166

    Thanks for that link Pete. What are the natural variability pieces left that aren’t predictable? Volcanoes probably. ENSO we still may figure out.

  17. 167
    richard says:

    Why didn’t MetO predict the uk storms when others did?

    what MetO 3 month preview predicted in november 2013
    “As discussed in the temperature section, forecast models favour a
    negative NAO pattern this winter, with high pressure areas more
    likely to be centred over or close to the UK. As in all seasons, this
    pre-dominance of anticyclones is likely to lead to drier-than-normal
    conditions across the country,”…/8/A3_plots-precip-DJF-2.pdf

    meanwhile this guy in october 2013 who describes his method said “The need for stronger west and SW winds from a Conservation of Angular Momentum consideration certainly lends itself to scope for the North of Britain to get some real batterings- we are set to have some of our biggest winter storms in years.”

    even a usa farmers almanac in aug2013 predicted the usa winter. If people called cranks are predicting the weather months out while official sources point to the opposite then something not adding up?

    [Response: Predicting there will be storms in winter is an easy thing. If there are a lot you look prescient, if there aren’t no-one remembers. Neither of the ‘forecasts’ you highlight are based on anything skillful. As for the Met Office, seasonal forecasts for the UK/Europe have some skill, but it is too small (IMO) to provide useful info. But at least it is a published and tested methodology so you know how much too believe it (not much). The joke long -range forecasts from the almanac or Corbyn have the credibility of looking at chicken entrails. – gavin]

  18. 168
    simon abingdon says:

    #161 MARodger “Almost every point he (Lawson) made was woefully wrong.”

    Glad we cleared that up.

  19. 169
    richard says:

    thanks gavin. If its so easy so why didn’t MetO predict it then? why were the winter storms in uk and usa such a ‘surprise’ to those claiming to be experts? They went the other way to drier? Meto have a history of warmer bias? “Weather expert accuses Met Office of ‘warm bias’ in getting annual predictions wrong 13 out of the last 14 years”

    Which bit of science are people claiming they are 95% sure about? its certainly not forecasting? if the cranks were getting it wrong 13 out 14 years what would you be thinking of their method? I’m looking for what works and the evidence is some people can predict which implies they have some true science?

    [Response: The chances of you finding the truth by reading the Daily Mail are low (and yes, that is a prediction too). On the off chance you actually are interested in evidence, I would suggest reading about the (very different) methods of prediction that are used for weather forecasts (initialised with current atmos. state – good for up to 10 days or so), seasonal forecasts (initialised with current surface ocean conditions – some skill for average conditions in the 1 to 3 month range, but no predictability for individual weather events), decadal forecasts (initialised ocean state – some skill up to 5 years, but basically still experimental, and no predictability of individual weather events) and climate forecasts (free-running coupled models driven by external forcings – skill in long term trends, statistical impacts, no predictability of individual weather events or ocean oscillations). If you distinguish between these things you are more likely to get a serious answer.

    So, believe what you want to believe, but until any of the long-range weather people actually publish their methods and show they actually have skill (as opposed to luck), colour me sceptical. – gavin]

  20. 170
    richard says:

    thanks. Which bit of the daily mail story do you deny? i don’t shoot the messenger imo its rational to look at the message?

    the guy on the climate board link who predicted the worst winter storms for the uk did describe his method? And people on the board called him a clown but he was proved correct both in timing and severity.No ‘black box’ in his case. So published methodology is out there for proven results. Not sure what ‘extra’ people are looking for? If some amateur can do it why can’t the well funded experts? If MetO had made his accurate prediction they would be hailed as masters of the universe?

    [Response: Try and think about this a little. For a forecasting system to credible, just getting lucky once is no use at all. You need to have a track record of doing better than something easy (like using the average over the last 10 years). That takes more than ‘some bloke on an internet forum’. You might be surprised to learn that the Met Office takes it’s prediction business very seriously, and if there was real skill in long-range weather forecasts they would use it. There isn’t, and so they don’t. – gavin]

    if we accept that the 95% claim [what is that for?] is not for forecasting then any predictions extended into the future must also be suspect such as 15m sea level rises and 4-6 degree temp rises? The point of a model is to predict. If you can’t predict what have you got? An empty box like that ‘bomb detector’ that was sold in iraq?

    [Response: I have no idea what ‘95%’ you are referring to (and I suspect, nor do you). Absent that crucial piece of information, we aren’t going to get very far. ]

    i can understand the need for a published and tested methodology but i don’t understand why people stick to a published and tested methodology that don’t work while maintaining its the ‘only’ way?

    [Response: Published and tested methodologies are used because people need to be able to assess how likely a prediction is to be right or wrong if it’s going to useful. And that is exactly what is missing with the ‘bloke on the internet predictions’ (BOTIPs). New methods however are proposed all the time and if they work when tested they get published and used. They can be statistical, use analogues, be based on simple or complicated models etc. One example of this in action is the annual sea ice low forecasts run by SEARCH. If your BOTIP were tested as clearly, I’d be a lot more interested. – gavin]

  21. 171
    dhogaza says:


    “if we accept that the 95% claim [what is that for?] is not for forecasting then any predictions extended into the future must also be suspect such as 15m sea level rises and 4-6 degree temp rises? – See more at:

    Gavin previously described the difference between short-term weather, seasonal, and climatic predictions as an inline response above.

    You’re probably not going to get very far here if you show no evidence of actually having read and understood his explanation …

  22. 172
    tamino says:

    > even a usa farmers almanac in aug2013 predicted the usa winter.

    I have a copy. It didn’t. You should have looked.

  23. 173
    Walter says:

    If the noble politicians of this world kept their promises as often as the MetOffice got it’s weekly weather prediction right we’d all die of shock.

    If the politicians of the world could get their own predictions right even once we’d all be more content. Like a Budget that came in on Budget. Actually find those mysterious WMD and nukes in Iraq. Jobs growth forecast to be ‘created’ over the next term of office were actually filled by people working at them instead of filling unemployment lines. Predictions to keep the interest rates down, the pound up, housing affordable, healthcare services improving by X, inflation down, and social harmony up and the trains running on time … to fulfill their own ‘predictions and promises’ then they might actually earn THEIR wages for a change and gain a lift in credibility. Yes? Not bloody likely mate!

    What a sad state of affairs in the world when one doesn’t know the difference between a MetOffice weather report and the pointy end of climate science methodology and why it is so critically important today. I hope the poor sod remembers to tell his butler to re-gas the air-conditioning system. Would hate to imagine anyone in a state of personal discomfort. Summer’s coming soon.


  24. 174
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Do you invest in stocks? If someone came to you and told you they had a sure way to predict where a particular stock would close on a date certain, would you give them all your money? Would you do so after they showed you (a posteriori) that they’d gotten a single stock right? Or would you put your money with an analyst that based decisions on fundamentals and showed better than market average returns over the last 20 years even if he didn’t do well this year?

    The situation with climate projections is very similar. You have a very complicated system, and predicting that system in the short term is very much a fraught proposition. However, over the long term, the sources of short-term noise tend to cancel and the long-term forcings–the fundamentals–dominate.

    Weather: complicated and chaotic–even the best forecast will sometimes get it wrong

    Climate: complicated, but not chaotic–in the long run, the projections will be right more often than not.

  25. 175

    richard–I don’t know if you’ve absorbed what Gavin said, but if not, then: please note that predicting climate and predicting weather are not the same problem (though of course there are elements in common.) It’s very important to grasp this, as if you don’t, you’ll tend to think that a bad Met seasonal forecast says something about the skill (or lack thereof) of climate models.

    For weather forecast, you have to get timing and intensity of particular events right. For climate, you don’t, since what you want to know is what happens ‘on average.’ So, in principle, a forecast could get the latter right while utterly failing to get the timing of events correct.

    The counterintuitive thing that follows from this is that it’s easier, in a way, to forecast climate years in advance than it is to forecast weather just weeks in the future. It’s that matter of timing: for climate, you don’t care about it so much. Over longer time spans, things do ‘average out.’

    With that point out of the way (hopefully!), let me add a couple of things. First is that the climate models used by the IPCC are evaluated quite rigorously. I have often seen folks on the Internet claim otherwise, but their claims can’t be true unless every climate scientist out there is lying about this point–an idea I find quite ludicrous, though there are folks out there who profess (and appear) to believe it.

    Here’s what the current Assessment Report (AR 5) has to say about model assessments:

    It’s lengthy, and it’s tough reading, but it is also a summary of probably hundreds of scientific papers published on this topic since the last report (2007).

    A much quicker and more pain-free summary of model performance versus observations can be found here:

    You might also review the annual model-observation comparisons posted each year on this very site. The 2012 edition is here (for some reason I’m not finding the 2013 version):

    So–you seem to be assuming that climate modeling ‘doesn’t work.’ I’d suggest that someone is feeding you a crock of what my mother usually called ‘applesauce.’

  26. 176
    simon abingdon says:

    #169 [gavin’s response] “climate forecasts (free-running coupled models driven by external forcings – skill in long term trends”

    Skill in long term trends?? But gavin, among various other things you can’t understand clouds, you can’t understand the oceans, you can’t even account satisfactorily for temperatures flatlining since the turn of the century. You even admit that your decadal forecasts are “still experimental”. Skill in long term trends seems to be way, way beyond your horizon.

    I’m sure you and your colleagues do their very best but it seems to me that the more climate science develops the more does it become apparent that there is much, much more to learn before reliable long term predictions could be made.

    As it is you seem to me to be quite, quite out of your depth. Sorry.

    [Response: I’m crushed. – gavin]

  27. 177
    prokaryotes says:

    A compilation of the current UK response to extremes and some science about climate change.
    The UK Response to Climate Change (UK Storms, Floods, Extreme Weather) Feb, 2014

  28. 178
    Radge Havers says:

    Oh, dear:
    “Meet the Press” to host climate change “debate” between GOP’s Marsha Blackburn and Bill Nye “the Science Guy”

    Oh, dear:
    Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People
    By Chris Mooney

    Oh, dear,
    I sometimes wonder about commenters on moderated sites who nevertheless manage to fly under the radar and clog threads with floods of barely agreeable verbiage:
    Google slaps phishing warning on misleading GOP website

  29. 179
    Matt Owens says:

    The Daily Mail is a tabloid. I’d sooner read the TV guide.

  30. 180
    Russell says:

    A glance at today’s wind global map shows Britain circumvallated by a 360 degree wall of wind fit to scatter the Spanish Armada, or with better timing, to sail round Britain without touching the tiller .,62.64,217

  31. 181

    Richard has only one valid point, how can the Met office possibly miss projecting these events? It was likely easy to work it out. There was and is a huge long lasting temperature anomaly over the North Pacific, this bends downwards the jet stream more radically Southwards turning it into a perfect heat and moisture Atlantic jet slide in tandem with the gulf stream.

    Me thinks humans have been completely left out of modeling results, I believe we use to project a whole lot more, now we simply interpret what models displays. Although we are imperfect beings and we have forgotten what we ate 3 days ago due to memory faculties so minuscule compared to high speed computers, we are far better than computers with intelligence and cognitive organizing. No offense to your craft Gavin, but I think models are extremely good for general long term projections, but incapable of applying themselves to complex nuances, for instance Arctic Sea ice, a very complex system, the models projected wrong by 38 years,. I think an hybrid model, half human and half computer, using the vastness and precision of computers while having the option to inject the most basic nuances and happenstances would be the most powerful GCM ever. Long live AI but Chomsky denied that we are not even close to
    the singularity.

    Checkout my blog, I make predictions that happen, sometimes I fail, but I do have a fairly good batting record. The North Pacific Temperature anomaly has been present for as long as the battering of the British Isles persisted.

    The Pacific anomaly was around for a long time, making glaciers melt in January Alaska and of course affecting the California drought. I mentioned it last October with the Arctic in mind projecting that it will be a warm Arctic winter.

    Not bad for an imperfect human.

  32. 182
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Sometimes it feels like you are about a resemble an English bulldog with your head frequently bashing the immovable brick wall of ignorance, denial and scepticism. A new online survey by our ninemsn as to whether the fires in South Australia and Victoria were impacted by climate change or not. Result: only 8% supporting climate change. Had they forgotten that those regions effected had the hottest and driest year last year and since the beginning of 2014 repeated heatwaves and no rain. The vegetation was completely dried out so the fuel load was immense and volatile and primed to erupt at any time. Yes of course climate change had played a part, that goes without saying, no one can say quantifiably to exactly what extent. As I mentioned in an earlier post…current climate change affects every climatic system on earth to varying degrees. The play of gasses and air masses do not conform to boundaries. So isn’t it a travesty that only 8% of Australia’s population recognise the familiar fingerprint of CC.
    I have a question. Since Greenland is losing 4x more ice now than 20 years ago and it’s largest glacier is pumping out ice towards the sea at record speed. Sooner or later the NAOC is going to slow…probably within our lifetimes is my prediction. Mid to northern latitude Europe will suffer it’s consequence. Now, say it cools the European climate by 5-10 degrees by 2100 perhaps. Wouldn’t that cooling have a negative feedback upon the overall world temp? Or would it mean that equatorial regions would warm by the same extent? Would the slowing of the entire thermohaline transport have a net cooling or warming on the averaged world climate?

  33. 183
    simon abingdon says:

    #174 Ray Ladbury “Climate: complicated, but not chaotic–in the long run, the projections will be right more often than not.”

    You wish.

  34. 184

    #183–Ray can and likely will speak for himself. But I strongly suspect his ‘wishes’ run in quite the opposite direction.

  35. 185
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Well, Simon, as you’ve never been right about anything in your life, I’ll go with science.

  36. 186

    An interesting item here:

    What’s interesting about that is the guy who’s saying it: Jeremy Grantham is an economist and manager by training, and an asset manager by professional experience. In 2011, Bloomberg named him one of the ’50 most influential people.’ (In finance, presumably.) An environmentalist-philanthropist, to be sure, but not a cheer-leader per se–especially in his professional capacity.

    Speaking of which, his professional touchstone in managing investments–his firm had “more than US $97 billion in assets under management as of December 2011”–is ‘reversion to the mean’:

    “For the record, I wrote an article for Fortune published in September 2007 that referred to three “near certainties”: profit margins would come down, the housing market would break, and the risk-premium all over the world would widen, each with severe consequences. You can perhaps only have that degree of confidence if you have been to the history books as much as we have and looked at every bubble and every bust. We have found that there are no exceptions. We are up to 34 completed bubbles. Every single one of them has broken all the way back to the trend that existed prior to the bubble forming, which is a very tough standard. So it’s simply illogical to give up the really high probabilities involved at the asset class level. All the data errors that frighten us all at the individual stock level are washed away at these great aggregations. It’s simply more reliable, higher-quality data.”

    In the present instance, he is talking about what he identifies as a ‘carbon bubble’:

    Grantham has repeatedly stated that the rising cost of energy – the most fundamental commodity – between 2002 and 2008 has falsely inflated economic growth and GDP figures worldwide and that we have been in a “carbon bubble” for approximately the last 250 years in which energy was very cheap. He believes that this bubble is coming to an end.

    By the way, all my background on Grantham comes from ‘good old Wikipedia’:

    Anyway, returning to his thoughts on the mid-term energy mix, which I didn’t yet quote:

    “I have become increasingly impressed with the potential for a revolution in energy, which will make it extremely unlikely that a lack of energy will be the issue that brings us to our knees,” Grantham writes in his latest quarterly newsletter.

    “Even in the expected event that there are no important breakthroughs in the cost of nuclear power, the potential for alternative energy sources, mainly solar and wind power, to completely replace coal and gas for utility generation globally is, I think, certain.

    “The question is only whether it takes 30 years or 70 years. That we will replace oil for land transportation with electricity or fuel cells derived indirectly from electricity is also certain, and there, perhaps, the timing question is whether this will take 20 or 40 years.”

    I wonder, should it really take 30 years to ‘completely replace coal and gas for utility generation,’ and ‘oil for land transportation’ in 20, what the implied emissions trajectory would be?

    From this chart (based on 2010) it would seem that potential emissions savings could amount to maybe 50%, at a quick glance:

    Thinking about doubling times in connection with economic growth: 2% (the growth rate of the more ‘successful’ developed world economies just now, though the US & UK are both pushing 3%) gives a doubling in 35 years, and 7.7% (China’s current rate, which is probably not going to continue, IMO) gives a doubling time of under 5 years.

    Couple that with increasing population growth, and it would seem that at best, these two changes–at the optimistic end of Grantham’s expectations–would at most leave us emitting about what we do now.

    Of course, this is very, very rough–back of the back of the envelope, as it were. But it suggests that though there may well be positive developments in store (should Mr. Grantham prove correct), more intentional action would still be needed to save our kid’s butts from a draconian future.

    No surprise to regular readers here, I guess.

  37. 187
    MARodger says:

    Lawrence Coleman @182.

    You say “Sooner or later the NAOC is going to slow…” I thought it was slowing already. And hot off the press, that’s the finding of Smeed et al 2014.

  38. 188
    Thomas says:

    I’m not an expert by any means in this area, hopefully the experts can chime in. This is what I think:

    To the extent that any slowing of the thermo-haline circulation cools the Greenland climate there would be a negative feedback limiting the amplitude of the change.
    The question about net heating/cooling hinges on two considerations. One is how does it affect ocean het content. My guess is it increases OHC by decreasing the formation of cold deep water, this would have a temporary (hundreds of year though) heating effect at the surface. It also may impact the planet’s radiation balance -largely by changing cloudiness -I have no idea whether this effect would warm or cool, that would require detailed modeling.

  39. 189
    Pat Cassen says:

    Kevin @186 –

    I have been reading Grantham for a few years now. This guy is a very sharp cookie, and a breath of fresh air in the otherwise murky halls of economic analysis. You can subscribe to his quarterly newsletter here. Definitely worth keeping up with.

  40. 190
    Mal Adapted says:

    Simon Abingdon:

    As it is you seem to me to be quite, quite out of your depth. Sorry.

    Another victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect: so proudly unaware of his own incompetence that he’s willing to say that here, of all places, under what looks like his real name.

  41. 191
    SecularAnimist says:

    Kevin McKinney wrote: “I wonder, should it really take 30 years to ‘completely replace coal and gas for utility generation,’ and ‘oil for land transportation’ in 20, what the implied emissions trajectory would be?”

    Thank you for linking to and quoting Grantham’s comments. I agree with him that wind and solar and other perpetual energy sources will inevitably replace fossil fuels, for both electricity generation and surface transport, as well as for heating and cooling buildings.

    This will happen simply as a result of market forces, as fossil fuels inevitably become scarcer and more difficult and costly to obtain, while the cost of ever more powerful technologies for harvesting abundant, free energy from sunlight and wind continues to plummet.

    As I understand what Grantham is saying, his estimates of how long that will take are based on a transition driven by market forces. And of course, it is always helpful to have market forces on your side.

    However, we don’t have that long. We cannot afford to wait 20 or 30 years for a market-driven transition to a 100 percent renewable, zero-emissions energy economy. We need to make that transition happen in a fraction of that time, if we are to have any hope of avoiding the worst outcomes of anthropogenic global warming.

    Fortunately, we have the technology, AND the economic resources, to make that happen, IF we choose to do so.

    Which is exactly why governments need to step in with appropriate policies to accelerate the transition.

    Which is exactly why the fossil fuel interests are doing everything they possibly can to delay and obstruct the transition for as long as they can get away with it.

  42. 192
    Chris Snow says:

    Can anyone help me please? Here in the UK, there’s been some discussion about the link between the series of storms we’ve experienced over the last two months and climate change. Whenever the topic is discussed, the BBC seems compelled to ask Lord Lawson of the GWPF for his comment, in the interests of “balance”.

    There has been some protest at this, along the lines of that Lord Lawson isn’t a scientist, so why are the BBC asking him for his opinion. But I can’t actually think of any British scientist with a solid record of published research in climate science who is a sceptic, so maybe this isn’t surprising. Are there any? I can think of plenty of British sceptics, but they’re mostly journalists, politicians or people associated with think tanks.

    This was further highlighted for me by the recent House of Commons Select Committee session on the IPCC 5th Assessment Review. The sceptic side had to jet in two of its witnesses from the US and Canada.

  43. 193
    Thomas says:

    I would agree with secular animist, regarding Gratham. You will note, that Gratham also said something to the effect that it may happen much faster than his timetable. He is certaily more optimistic than the likes of the IEA. At some point the case (for wind/solar) becomes compelling strictly for economic and local impact reasons without even factoring in global impacts. And that point seems to be ocuring in multiple (but by no means a majority) of places already.

    I think the transition to battery electric vehicles is also going to come surprising quickly. I think in just a few years they will become more attractive than gas powered vehicles, then the marketplace will deliver rapid change.

    That leaves primarily space and water heating as the biggest holdouts as far as fossil fuel consumption is concerned. Even here, heat pumps (air source or otherwise are coming along), but the equipment replacement cycle is a long one.

  44. 194

    #191–My pleasure, SA. Yes, that is the sort of thing I was thinking of, too, under the banner of “intentional action.” Too cryptically phrased, perhaps, but it was already a long comment.

  45. 195
    richard says:

    More pinball [i know u guys hate daily mail but…]

    One of the Met Office’s most senior experts yesterday made a dramatic intervention in the climate change debate by insisting there is no link between the storms that have battered Britain and global warming.

    Mat Collins, a Professor in climate systems at Exeter University, said the storms have been driven by the jet stream – the high-speed current of air that girdles the globe – which has been ‘stuck’ further south than usual.

    Professor Collins told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There is no evidence that global warming can cause the jet stream to get stuck in the way it has this winter. If this is due to climate change, it is outside our knowledge.’

    His statement carries particular significance because he is an internationally acknowledged expert on climate computer models and forecasts, and his university post is jointly funded by the Met Office.

    Prof Collins is also a senior adviser – a ‘co-ordinating lead author’ – for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). His statement appears to contradict Met Office chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo.

    thank goodness finally something that makes sense to me

  46. 196
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    192: Chris Snow. There would be a link that’s for sure, but as mentioned above the extent of the link is very difficult to quantify. Anthropogenic climate change adds varying degrees of forcing to every system ranging from almost imperceptible to blinking obvious. The rise of CO2 from 270ppm to now over 400ppm, the extent of equatorial and sub tropical deforestation, the soot deposits on the polar ice caps, the increase in atmospheric water vapour due to a corresponding increase in ocean temps and changes in ocean currents, the extreme ice albedo currently happening in the arctic etc,etc are all conspiring in tandem to alter the climate as we know it. The polar vortex..’love that term!’ and rossby waves causes by the circum-polar jet stream slowing down and allowing huge pockets of frigid air to excape from the arctic and hammer you in England and the US is due to the narrowing of temperature gradient from the equator and the arctic..the arctic has had a mean increase of 4C since 1960 whereas the equator has only had 0.5C rise, thus the difference between the two are less. This slows the S-N jet steam and when it curves to the right due to the correolis effect this pushes the weather systems along. So as you can see, what you and the US are currently experiencing would absolutely be caused by Climate Change forcing…no climate models yet or in the near future are accurate enough to put a percentile figure on the extent.

  47. 197
    Hank Roberts says:“Jennifer+Francis”+Rutgers


    The jet stream, as its name suggests, is a high-speed air current in the atmosphere that brings with it the weather.

    It is fuelled partly by the temperature differential between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes.

    If the differential is large then the jet stream speeds up, and like a river flowing down a steep hill, it ploughs through any obstacles – such as areas of high pressure that might be in its way.

    If the temperature differential reduces because of a warming Arctic then the jet stream weakens and, again, like a river on a flat bed, it will meander every time it comes across an obstacle.

    This results in weather patterns tending to becoming stuck over areas for weeks on end. It also drives cold weather further south and warm weather further north. Examples of the latter are Alaska and parts of Scandinavia, which have had exceptionally warm conditions this winter.

  48. 198
    wili says:

    I just noticed that, at the 10 hPa level, the polar vortex has now split in two.,77.28,279

    Is this unusual? Unprecedented? What does it forebode, if anything?

    At the 70 hPa, it is nearly in two, with a very odd configuration:,77.28,279

  49. 199
    simon abingdon says:

    #176 [Response: I’m crushed. – gavin] Ho ho, very droll. Shame you hadn’t the resource to address the criticisms.

  50. 200
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Bill Nye is not backing off. We need more like him who are ready to face down the deniers in a public sphere.