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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. 301
    sidd says:

    Thanks for the Pistone et al. reference on Arctic albedo. Goes nicely with Prof. Box’s on fall in Greenland albedo. At this point early Eurasian snowfall (as some predicted would happen with declining sea ice) is bucking the trend, and I am unsure of the situation with albedo in Canadian High Arctic.


  2. 302
    Walter says:

    #250 “an imagined statement”?

    More like “an explicit example of how to handle responding to manipulative journalists to not be misrepresented, and still stick to the science and still be understood by the public and make a positive difference instead of creating dramas all over the media and the internet for weeks to forever”

    Too wordy?

    Of no value.

    Probably wrong anyway.

    Ignore him.

    Nothing to see here.

    Whatever Walter

    [Response: Please get back to making substantive points if you want to continue commenting here. This is all very boring. – gavin]

  3. 303

    #297–Dave, your predicament out there is on my mind, for what that’s worth. (And of course, it’s ‘my’ predicament, too, since damage to the California economy is damage to the US economy–and ecology, too, for that matter, as your comment about the Bay Area makes plain.)

    Thanks for the update, grim though it is.

  4. 304
    Walter says:

    Gavin, clearly we have a difference of opinion about what is substantive: “having a firm basis in reality and so important, meaningful, or considerable”

    I did not write an imaginative fairly tale, but something substantive and meaningful about a never-ending problem for all climate scientists and the general public to this day.

    It causes you all as a group of experts endless ‘blow back’, that wastes your time and energy unnecessarily. That’s the reality.

    It’s not the public’s personal fault when they are all swimming in a sea of disinformation everywhere they go, every time they turn the TV on or pick up a newspaper.

    If there is something you believe is more important than this matter in climate science today I’d like to know what it is?

    eg Michael’s NYTs article touched on this very subject: “Until the public fully understands the danger of our present trajectory, those debates are likely to continue to founder.”

    They don’t understand because of the extreme public confusion caused by all. Deniers, politicians, the media and scientists themselves. I have presented one substantive and already proven part of the solution.

    I didn’t make it up. It’s true!


  5. 305
    Phil Mattheis says:

    [edit – tedious]
    [edit – stick to substantive points]
    [Response: Whatever. Don’t do it again. – gavin]
    [Response: Please get back to making substantive points if you want to continue commenting here. This is all very boring. – gavin]

    Used to be (fairly) easy to navigate the comments on RC by selectively ignoring the usual suspects (on an evolving list) and almost any post that scrolls off the page.

    Trolls come in many flavors, all nasty.
    Feeding them contaminates everything else.
    This month’s unforced variations is pretty much the Walter show, to no good end.
    Our hosts shouldn’t have to be police or censors.
    Those who visit should respect local standards of etiquette and substance, or go bother others.

  6. 306
    Phil Mattheis says:

    (In more constructive mode, if not necessarily positive)

    While might be entertaining to watch Bill Nye and others discuss climate change/global warming/vanishing arctic ice with those who choose to believe in alternate realities, an unfortunate primary consequence is the illusion that there is any room for “Debate” on basic presumptions.

    I saw the Arctic ocean first time in May of 1973, at Barrow, AK. Pressure ridges (2-4+ meters high above water, often miles long) were visible off shore at variable distance, defining the line where free circulating pack ice bumped up against grounded shore ice. The ridges tended to break free in spring, joining the pack ice as thicker stuff that frequently persisted into multi-year status.

    There is a new video on YouTube showing progressive loss of thicker Arctic ice from 1987 to present:

    Is painful to watch.
    There is no “Debate”.
    [reCaptcha: employering Dati]

  7. 307
    Walter Pearce says:

    Phil Mattheis @ 305 — So true! It only takes a little observation of the longtime commenters here to understand the norms of the site. Hopefully Walter will take your comment to heart before we start finding his posts in the Borehole.

  8. 308
    Hank Roberts says:

    New Scientist

    permafrost [above a northern cave] melted just once in the last 500,000 years.

    At the time, global temperatures were 1.5 °C warmer than they have been in the last 10,000 years. In other words, today’s permafrost is likely to become vulnerable when we hit 1.5 °C of global warming ….

    “Up until this point, we didn’t have direct evidence of how this happened in past warming periods,” says Ted Schuur of the University of Florida in Gainesville….

    Soggy permafrost

    What are the consequences? The greatest concern, says Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter in the UK, is the regional landscape. Buildings and infrastructure are often built on hard permafrost, and will start subsiding. “Ice roads won’t exist any more.”

    The increasingly soggy permafrost will also threaten the pipelines that transport Russian gas to Europe. “The maintenance and upkeep of that infrastructure is going to cost a lot more,” says Schuur.

    As for the methane that could be released into the atmosphere, Schuur estimates that emissions will be equivalent to between 160 and 290 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

    That sounds like a lot, but is little compared to the vast amount humans are likely to emit, says Lenton. “The signal’s going to be swamped by fossil fuel [emissions].”

    He says the dangers of the permafrost greenhouse gases have been overhyped, particularly as much of the methane will be converted to carbon dioxide by microbes in the soil, leading to a slower warming effect.

    Schuur agrees with Lenton that the methane emissions are “not a runaway effect but an additional source that is not accounted in current climate models”.

    Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1228729

  9. 309
    sidd says:

    Huss(2014) (doi:10.5194/tcd-8-1191-2014) measures Antarctic Peninsular ice as contributing a maximum of 70 odd mm of sea level rise. Does anyone seriously expect peninsular ice to survive past 2100, given even the most conservative RCP 2.6 scenario which peaks at net radiative forcing of 3W/m^2 and declines to 2.6W/m^2 in 2100 ? Right now under 0.5-0.8 W/m^2 the thing is melting at 36Gtonne/yr (Shepherd,2012,DOI: 10.1126/science.1228102) and the melt rate is accelerating.


  10. 310
    barry says:

    It’s quite amazing how much influence David Rose’s deceitful article has had on the public discourse. Just one ellision of strong caveats from Dame Julia Slingo and, like lemmings to a cliff, the critics propagate the sleight of hand. No interest in presenting or commenting on the rest of the sentence, which might force them to ponder what she may have meant by “no definitive answers” on linking global warming to the recent storms over the UK. No interest whatsoever in gathering all that she said on the matter in the press briefing to understand her ‘messaging’. Just the same half-sentence repeated over and over. The contrarians are rumouring that there is a groundswell of disapprobation in the climate community. They do love a bit of cloak and dagger.

    The Met Office response is being criticised in the skeptiverse for not naming Slingo and not giving a line-by-line explanation of her comments. It doesn’t occur to those clamouring that they failed to examine Slingo’s comments in the first place, or that the Daily Mail pitched Collins as the renegade scientist making a “dramatic intervention” against the establishment. MO did well to set the record straight on the science and ignore a personality war.

  11. 311
    sidd says:

    I was rereading Gardner(2013, doi:10.1126/science.1234532 ) when i recalled Meier(2007, doi:10.1126/science.1143906 )

    Meier has an estimate mass loss from Glaciers and Ice Caps (not Greenland, not Antarctica) of 402+/-95 Gtonne/yr in 2006 accelerating at 11.9+/-5.6 GTonne/yr^2, (acceleration data from 2000-2006)

    But Gardner, using GRACE over the period 2003-2009 , has a much smaller estimate 259+/-28 Gtonne/yr, no acceleration estimate.

    These do not agree to within the error bars. Does anyone know which is considered more reliable these days ?


  12. 312
    doug says:

    To the scientists who run this site,

    I’ve been reading your wonderful site for about 4 years now. I would just like to make a suggestion to perhaps make the comments section work better. Many of the commenters get in immature squabbles between themselves, and it must be very frustrating for you to have to police them like school hall monitors.

    A way to let people continue to make comments, and post links for interested readers, yet avoid the squabbles, would be to simply make a rule that commenters may not respond to each other. As soon as a commenter responds to another one, you could bore hole them. It would seem a nice compromise between banning comments all together, and the present format. It should I would think, also reduce the total number of comments that are posted here, which I am sure you would not mind. I think an awful lot of us learn by reading your comments to the readers, and you could continue to do that. You might even find the time to respond more frequently since you would not be having to spend your precious time following the conversations between the commenters. Thank you for considering my idea.

    [Response: I think it is a great idea, except that sometimes the comments in response to other comments are quite useful and informative. Not often, I admit … –eric]

  13. 313
    SecularAnimist says:

    doug wrote: “simply make a rule that commenters may not respond to each other”

    So, for example, if one commenter posts something about a particular article, then no subsequent commenter in the thread can mention or discuss that article?

    Or they can mention the article, but they are not permitted to mention that someone else already referenced it?

    Or they can acknowledge that a previous commenter mentioned the article, but they have to pretend that they didn’t read what the previous commenter wrote about it, and not say anything about that?

    Also they are not permitted to answer any question posted by a previous commenter, even if they have a factual and informative answer at their fingertips? Or are they just not permitted to correct any misstatement of fact that a previous commenter has posted?

    Or is it just that they are not permitted to discuss, agree with, or disagree with any view or opinion that a previous commenter has posted?

    In your view, the job of the moderators would be made “simpler” by conducting this sort of analysis of whether and to what degree each and every comment posted here is a “response” to a previous comment?

  14. 314
    Simon C says:

    What I found amusing about the Nigel Lawson Radio 4 interview was that he would readily assent to the proposition that the link between bad recent weather in the UK and AGW was uncertain, but then make the transparently illogical “companion” assertion that it was certainly not linked to AGW. So the link is both uncertain and certain at the same time. Sigh. This man was our Chancellor or the Exchequer? Its a wonder the economy isn’t in a total mess … oh, hang on a minute …

  15. 315
    EMichael says:

    I am a long way from being a scientist. I like to think I can read and understand climate science to a admittedly limited extent. I find myself engaged(really nice term for it) in an ongoing “debate” with a person with literally years of experience in disinformation.

    I would appreciate a scientist stopping in now and then and dealing with this person from an informed level. Shouldn’t take long, and it would be a public service.

  16. 316
    Hank Roberts says:

    > find myself engaged … in an
    > ongoing “debate” … disinformation.

    They love finding people willing to do that.
    Even more when you go and recruit new people.


  17. 317
    Hank Roberts says:

    EMichael, at that angrybear thread, a bit earlier, you wrote:

    Of course I am googling to find evidence. I am not a scientist

    It works better to give pointers, rather than copy large chunks from other sites and paste them in.

    Beware the mistake of using ‘reverse citation” — stating a belief, then googling to find support for the notion. You can find anything on the Internet. Scientists look for evidence _against_ their own ideas.

  18. 318
    sidd says:

    I have put together some thoughts on the papers I have cited, (mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica) with some figures from them at

    There is an amusing animation of the 2012 surface melt from infra red pictures of Greenland linked from that page.


  19. 319
    barry says:

    Depersonalising comments:

    Ostensibly a good idea. I think it’s possible to do it like this, with a title reflecting the strand already being discussed.


    Sub-headings to clarify focus, for example.


    The current practise of numbering comments kind of personalizes the conversation, but it also spares much repetition, as does simply naming the person you’re replying to.

    Snark is like water. It will leak through anyway.


    Possibility of less economical discourse for doubtful gains: formulating and learning to apply new adjudication not worth the trouble.

  20. 320
    patrick says:

    @293 Hank said, re: the extinctions: “Comparison to current rate of change and quantities, anyone?”

    I second the question. How about for any of the other of the big five extinctions, or all, or some? Thank you.

    Hank: first link didn’t work for me, but these do:

  21. 321
    EMichael says:


    Appreciate the comments.

    The “large chunks” have been preceded by “pointers” for a long time in a discussion that has gone on well before the topic I linked. And I do have my beliefs which I have stated prior to “googling” proofs. But when faced with comments that constantly change the cherries being picked, as a non scientist I do not have the knowledge to instantly know which cherry is which, and need to find out what is being said first, then comment.

    Once again, thanks for the comments.

  22. 322
  23. 323
    Susan Anderson says:

    If one person monopolizes this discussion, no matter how “right” they might be, and goes on and on … over and over … and long to boot, arguing with anyone who dares speak out about it, it prevents the discussion from having the usual give and take that makes it so valuable. I often come over and explore people’s links and find all kinds of interesting material. For the past weeks, I’ve had to scroll … and scroll … and despite being fairly patient, it made me go elsewhere. I don’t have much to contribute and avoid cluttering up the discussion, but believe a little self-censorship from addictive commenting would be a good idea.

    Self-righteousness may be good armor from the hurly-burly of living in community, but sharing is a much better way of being, imnhso.

  24. 324
    Radge Havers says:

    Pushing back against beltway, bubbleheaded denialism using custom taylored language:

    Representative Henry Waxman and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse wrote one ripsnorter of a letter.
    (posted at Greg Laden’s Blog)

  25. 325
    MARodger says:

    EMichael @315.
    Your troll at doesn’t come across to me as somebody with much between the ears. And given your excellent sourcing of quotes from Richard Alley, I’m surprised you haven’t hit upon where the troll is kidding you (& possibly kidding himself)
    The Alley 2000 GISP2 reconstruction is a bit of a favorite for denialists. The little bump at the end (helpfully coloured red in your toll’s version) – hey – is this all that your allegedly-mighty seeowtoo can manage?
    What appears little understood by these eager denialists is that the Alley GISP2 data stops well before the present day data. It’s not even 95-years -before-present, because the convention used in Alley (2000) is to set “present day” at 1950. Thus the last data on the graph is AD1855 when CO2 was still below 290ppm.
    A more correct but still not up-to-date version of the graph is perhaps this one used to debunk this same nonsense from Don Easterbrook, or perhaps this figure from Kobashi et al (2011) but which again is still not up-to-date as that pesky temperature on Greenland just won’t stay diwn, damn it. And here is yet another version but the original graphic (by Gareth Renowden) is now 3 years old, so the record 2012 melt year would be higher still. The up-to-date Greenland temperatures for some reason don’t feature greatly in the published research. It’s the melting that gets all the attention.

  26. 326
    MARodger says:

    Below is the rather surprising paragraph in the BBC’s reply to complaints that the recent radio presence of denialist Lawson was as inappropriate within a discussion on climatology as say an alchemist on things chemical, a blood-letter on medical care or a Soviet planner on the economy.

    “Whilst there may be a scientific consensus about global warming – that it is happening and largely man-made – there is no similar agreement about what should be done to tackle it; whether money should be spent, for example, on cutting carbon emissions or would be better used adapting our defences to the changing climate. Lord Lawson is not a scientist, but as a former Chancellor of the Exchequer is well qualified to comment on the economic arguments, which are a legitimate area for debate.”

    If we can simply “adapt(ing) our defences to the changing climate,” I say bring on RCP 8.5. It can’t be much of a problem if adaptation’s a serious option.
    Being a former Chancellor of the Exchequer doesn’t make Lawson “well qualified.” Look at the nonsense being spouted by the present incumbent.

  27. 327
    Hank Roberts says:


    Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1248667

    Rapid Reductions in North Atlantic Deep Water During the Peak of the Last Interglacial Period

    … Using a subcentennially resolved epibenthic foraminiferal δ13C record we show that North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) influence was strong at the onset of the last interglacial period and then interrupted by several prominent, centennial-scale reductions. These NADW transients occurred during periods of increased ice rafting and southward expansions of polar water influence, suggesting that a buoyancy threshold for convective instability was triggered by freshwater and circum-Arctic cryosphere changes. The deep Atlantic chemical changes were similar in magnitude to those associated with glaciations, implying that the canonical view of a relatively stable interglacial circulation may not hold for conditions warmer/fresher than at present.

  28. 328
    sidd says:

    Has anyone else noticed that estimates for thermosteric sea level rise have been dropping ?

    1)Stammer(2013) 1993-2010 1+/-0.3 mm/yr

    2)von Shuckmann(2011) 2005-2010 0.75+/-0.15 mm/yr

    3)von Shuckmann (2013) 2005-2012 0.5+/-0.1 mm/yr

    But sea level rise continues at 3.2 mm/yr
    More ice melt is masked by less thermosteric rise ?


  29. 329
    sidd says:

    Along with my last comment: The results of Balmaseda(2013) doi:10.1002/grl.50382 showing increased heat uptake by deeper layers, coupled with the fact that thermal expansion coefficient of sea water decreases with depth e.g.

    so heat going deeper is less effective in expanding water. Nevertheless, my point remains, there is another component of SLR that must be increasing if thermosteric rise is decreasing, given that total SLR is constant. I suspect ice melt.


  30. 330
    ying yang says:

    Radiation from nuclear testing, banned hopefully before it was to late, has been a source of tracing in the environment ever sense. There is quite allot of data on how it progressed, and is still dispersing. YAY. I was not really aware of the data stream until the latest incident in Japan got me thinking , how this release would be traceable and could show a more exact estimates of the cycle time. Ocean surface to floor and back. The Data makes me hot just thinking about it. This is something like the uv activated stuff you put in your radiator to help find a leak. Heat is quite traceable in real time from satellite on the ocean surface. Given the correct equipment these trace radioactive ass water can be monitored as they cycle to the ocean floor and back. Maybe flash Gordon of the future can build a Radiation Capture and Storage RCS along with Carbon Capture and Storage CCS and have it all undermined by flash dushebag of the future.

  31. 331
    prokaryotes says:

    sidd, see for example

    Australia’s Flooding Rains Briefly Slowed Sea Level Rise and the recent UK floods which caused record groundwater flooding, explained here.

  32. 332
    prokaryotes says:

    Continents can act as a buffer for short term SLR.

  33. 333
    MARodger says:

    sidd @328.
    The data certainly shows more ice melting. That’s melt from both poles (GRACE gives N=30Gty^-2, S=15Gty^-2) and did I read a recently published acceleration figure from from non-polar glaciers on the rise? If not Kaser et al (2006) gives ~2.5Gty^-2 over the end of the last century. That would give SLR from melting rising in the order of 1mm every 7 years. If that isn’t reflected in total SLR, that implies land storage is on the up and/or the thermostatic rise is decreasing.

  34. 334
    prokaryotes says:

    Re #308 – He says the dangers of the permafrost greenhouse gases have been overhyped, particularly as much of the methane will be converted to carbon dioxide by microbes in the soil, leading to a slower warming effect. – See more at:

    My guess is that the 10.1126/science.1228729 study is underestimating the threat of permafrost thaw. See:

    Discovery of Positive Methane Feedback from Permafrost Thaw

    Mr Woodcroft said no one knew of the microbe’s existence or how it worked before the research discovery. He said global warming trends meant vast areas of permafrost would continue to thaw, allowing the microbes to flourish in organic matter and drive methane gas release, which would further fuel global warming. ”The micro-organism generates methane by using carbon dioxide and hydrogen from the bacteria it lives alongside,” Mr Woodcroft said.

  35. 335
    sidd says:

    Re: melt of glaciers and ice caps:

    See my comment at 19 Feb 2014 at 11:39 PM. Estimates are lower there these days also.


  36. 336
    prokaryotes says:

    Global sea level trend during 1993–2012 Here we investigate the global-mean sea level (GMSL) change during 1993–2012 using Empirical Mode Decomposition, in an attempt to distinguish the trend over this period from the interannual variability. It is found that the GMSL rises with the rate of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr during 1993–2003 and started decelerating since 2004 to a rate of 1.8 ± 0.9 mm/yr in 2012. This deceleration is mainly due to the slowdown of ocean thermal expansion in the Pacific during the last decade, as a part of the Pacific decadal-scale variability, while the land-ice melting is accelerating the rise of the global ocean mass-equivalent sea level. Recent rapid recovery of the rising GMSL from its dramatic drop during the 2011 La Niña introduced a large uncertainty in the estimation of the sea level trend, but the decelerated rise of the GMSL appears to be intact.

    The land-ice contribution to 21st century dynamic sea-level rise .. we find that the pattern of DSL change is independent of warming scenario, and appears to scale according to the freshwater input. Consequently, the pattern of ice melt related DSL may be linearly added to other components such as 15 those associated with heat uptake and changes to the hydrological cycle.

    An improved mass budget for the Greenland ice sheet Extensive ice thickness surveys by NASA’s Operation IceBridge enable over a decade of ice discharge measurements at high precision for the majority of Greenland’s marine-terminating outlet glaciers, prompting a reassessment of the temporal and spatial distribution of glacier change. Annual measurements for 178 outlet glaciers reveal that, despite widespread acceleration, only 15 glaciers accounted for 77% of the 739 ± 29 Gt of ice lost due to acceleration since 2000 and four accounted for ~50%. Among the top sources of loss are several glaciers that have received little scientific attention. The relative contribution of ice discharge to total loss decreased from 58% before 2005 to 32% between 2009 and 2012. As such, 84% of the increase in mass loss after 2009 was due to increased surface runoff. These observations support recent model projections that surface mass balance, rather than ice dynamics, will dominate the ice sheet’s contribution to 21st century sea level rise.

  37. 337
    Dave Peters says:

    Those interested in a recent up-close attempt at reading the tea leaves in the tropical Pacific for signs of an emerging El Nino, might enjoy this jewel of a guest post from operational scientist, Dr. Michael Vincent:

    [Response: Very nice. I’m better on 2015 being warmest-year yet (that is, above 1998, 2010, etc.). –eric]

  38. 338
    Dave Peters says:

    A bit more on the CA drought:

    The jet meander bringing us this weekend’s Clipper, is projected to pinch off during the next couple days, potentially bringing rain to California by mid week:

    However, in the absence of super-normal rainfall during the coming several weeks, rice will likely simply not be seeded by many farmers. Cattle ranching suffered more heavily than did any other agriculture, during the 1977 drought. The sharply restricted irrigation supplies, such as they become available, will presumably be shifted towards sustaining vineyards, as well as fruit and nut orchards, leaving annual, vegetable croplands, particularly deficient. Finally, students of the historic 1977 drought know that supplies proved remarkably fungible, assisted by a massive program of sharing (up to 1 & 1/2 half million acre feet), primarily through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, supported by unrestricted flows from the Colorado’s watershed. Such supplies though, were then plentiful:

    Today, as the above exhibit shows, they are decidedly not plentiful. Further, in one of the least controversial examples of the attribution of carbon-driven alteration of regional climates, scientists have tracked the expansions of the equatorial Hadley circulation cells for several decades. Ours has steadily marched the dry doldrums polewards several miles each year, bringing dryness towards Texas, Las Vegas and South California. Thus, the ease with which Valley farmers replaced both CVP (Central Valley Project—Federal) and SWP (State Water Project) cutbacks with supplements from the Colorado River in 1977, including trades which assured residential continuity to populous Marin County, will instead run into this:

  39. 339
    Dave Peters says:

    Re: # 337

    My apologies to Dr. Michael Ventrice, for mis-spelling his name. Just a terrific exposition!

  40. 340
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 334
    The microbe isn’t new on Earth since that last warm excursion documented by that cave study. The temperature record isn’t changed by knowing the mechanism — the microbe — exists. There’s no reason to think the microbe evolved new and changes how the world works — although, admittedly, we did evolve and we did change how the world works.

  41. 341
    prokaryotes says:

    > 340
    But the Anthropocene warmth pulse can be considered unprecedented and this find completes our understandings of the situation. The point here is that there might be a larger methane feedback from permafrost thawing, not recently identified and considered in magnitude. This new microbe could explain why we see methane uptake in the Arctic and in Antarctica.

    recaptcha says “peculiar ingseel”

  42. 342
    Hank Roberts says:

    ”The micro-organism generates methane by using carbon dioxide and hydrogen from the bacteria it lives alongside”

    Ya know, that’s wonderful news, if it can be domesticated as a living organism, to make more efficient methane-producing bioreactors. That kind of approach is badly needed.

    I hope you follow up.

  43. 343
    Hank Roberts says:

    PS, here are the cites for that story:

    Press release:

    Nature Communications: Discovery of a novel methanogen prevalent in thawing permafrost

    … Partially thawed sites were frequently dominated by a single archaeal phylotype, Candidatus ‘Methanoflorens stordalenmirensis’ gen. nov. sp. nov., belonging to the uncultivated lineage ‘Rice Cluster II’ (Candidatus ‘Methanoflorentaceae’ fam. nov.). Metagenomic sequencing led to the recovery of its near-complete genome, revealing the genes necessary for hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis. These genes are highly expressed and methane carbon isotope data are consistent with hydrogenotrophic production of methane in the partially thawed site. In addition to permafrost wetlands, ‘Methanoflorentaceae’ are widespread in high methane-flux habitats suggesting that this lineage is both prevalent and a major contributor to global methane production….

    Hmmm, someone seems to have patented the methane bioreactor idea last year, I wonder how the patent office allowed that. Or maybe he just patented his own particular bacterial strain.

  44. 344
  45. 345

    That’s a cool WU post by Dr. Michael Ventrice on characterizing ENSO.

    I started thinking about the origins of ENSO recently and came up with an inharmonic analysis of the wave equation applied to an ocean basin. This is very similar to the blanket analogy that Dr.V explained at the beginning of his post.
    and here is the second part:

    Here is my projection of the ENSO in terms of the SOI, as the formulation looks stable.

    Maximum El Nino exactly halfway into 2015, as measured by SOI.

    This is all based on idealized hydrodynamic math that has been known since at least before 1929 [1], once I realized that mine wasn’t an original idea. These old papers are fascinating reads:

    [1] S. Goldstein, “Tidal Motion in Rotating Elliptic Basins of Constant Depth.,” Geophysical Journal International, vol. 2, no. s4, pp. 213–232, 1929.

  46. 346
    Tony Weddle says:

    Yikes! David Wasdell appears to make a good case for us being way past dangerous levels of CO2 now. I’m not sure where I first got this link (hope it wasn’t here – if so, sorry for the duplication) but I’d sure like to hear from the experts on this:

    Basis for a Carbon Budget (PDF)

    It’s a critique of SPM figure 10 and uses both Hansen’s work on climate sensitivity as well as work by the Apollo-Gaia project on total Earth System sensitivity (ESS). Admittedly, the much higher levels of ESS play out over much longer periods but we may already have condemned future generations to intolerable temperatures and sea level rise.

    [Response: you have seen the problem right away. ESS is only relevant to the very long term change in CO2, not the value today, or in 2050. We could have a huge overshoot and then come back down by 2300 and few of the additional effects will have made themselves felt (not that I would recommend that course of action). More specifically, the SPM is very focussed on the relatively near term, and is broadly correct, Wasdell’s piece is neither. – gavin]

  47. 347
    Patrick Flege says:

    On a totally different note, I recently discovered a new paper by David Wasdell. I would usually ignore it, but Wasdell seems to be widely quoted by non-scientists. He argues for a Earth System Sensitivity of 7,8°C, amongst other things, and that the IPCC AR5 is heavily underestimating current climate change. He argues that there is about no Carbon-budget left to avoid a 2°C temperature increase. However, He gives no real references in the end, but, as a non-expert, I am highly skeptical about his conclusions, as he is not a scientist and has made some weird claims in the past, as has been discussed here I think. Here is a link, for those interested:

  48. 348
    wili says:

    From David Wasdel’s latest:

    >>The temperature response to the proposed ceiling of allowed carbon emissions is 5.4°C, not the 2°C indicated in the SPM.

    >>The temperature response to the current set of emission-reduction pledges is c. 10°C, not c. 4°C as indicated in the SPM.

    >>The temperature response to which we are already committed at the present level of cumulative carbon emission is 3.9°C (+ effect of non-CO2 GHG emissions) not 1.5°C implied in the SPM

    >>The budget of c. 300GtC of available carbon emission before breaching the 2°C policy target is seen to be an illusion. In reality the carbon account is already overdrawn by c. 288GtC.

    >>All the above figures should be treated as conservative underestimates as we move from the stable conditions of the Holocene into the far-from-equilibrium, rapid change and enhanced sensitivity of the Anthropocene.

    >>Recognition of the sensitivity of global climate dynamics to small changes in average surface temperature implies that the degree of safety assumed in the policy target of limiting increase to no more than 2°C above the pre-industrial value, is a delusion.

    >>Avoiding dangerous climate change is no longer possible. Limiting its intensity requires restriction of the target temperature increase to no more than 1°C.

    >>Achieving that goal requires reduction in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gasses to around 310 ppm of CO2e (from the current value of some 450 ppm CO2e).

    On these grounds the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC AR5 WG1 should be rejected as not fit for the purpose of policy-making. It is a compromise between what is scientifically necessary and what is deemed to be politically and economically feasible. It is a document of appeasement, in active collusion with the global addiction to fossil sources of energy.

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    prokaryotes says:

    Hank, it appears as if methane created in bio-reactors is less energy incentive and more energy efficient than driving around in the country side and polluting ground and drinking water or pay people for drilling rights.

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    Patrick Flege says:

    Dear Gavin,

    Good to see your response to Tony Weddle. I had the same thoughts as you, as ESS refers to processes that take place over centuries and millenia. I am confused why Wasdell does not seem to grasp the difference in time-scales with regards to the 2°C target and eventual, long-term temperature changes. Or, apparently, he does not care for the temporal aspects regarding Hansen et al’s work (or others), and ignores it on purpose.

    Your effort (and that of the other mods) is the reason I always come back here.

    Anyway, does anyone have good information on estimates of ESS? I am familiar with Hansens work, and Lunt et al (2010), but I would also be interested in more recent estimates (not that the previous ones are wrong imo, it is just good to have a variety of data available).