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Unforced Variations: May 2015

Filed under: — group @ 11 May 2015

This month’s open thread.

164 Responses to “Unforced Variations: May 2015”

  1. 101
  2. 102
    Mal Adapted says:

    MA Rodger:

    This discussion of a “circa 2015″ date for reaching +2ºC appears very similar to words exchanged at the end of last months Unforced Variations that reached resoution here.

    Yep, I followed it at the time. Either TO’R didn’t, or rushing the 2-degree date is a meme living amongst us.

  3. 103
    Matthew R Marler says:

    This looks like a good article:

    Water Resources Research
    Water Resources Research
    Previous article in issue: What does it take to flood the Pampas?: Lessons from a decade of strong hydrological fluctuations
    Next article in issue: Point rainfall statistics for ecohydrological analyses derived from satellite integrated rainfall measurements
    Volume 51, Issue 4
    April 2015
    Pages 2951–2973
    Research Article
    Evapotranspiration based on equilibrated relative humidity (ETRHEQ): Evaluation over the continental U.S.
    Angela J. Rigden,
    Guido D. Salvucci
    First published: 28 April 2015Full publication history
    DOI: 10.1002/2014WR016072View/save citation
    Cited by: 0 articles Check for new citations
    Article has an altmetric score of 1
    Funding Information

    A novel method of estimating evapotranspiration (ET), referred to as the ETRHEQ method, is further developed, validated, and applied across the U.S. from 1961 to 2010. The ETRHEQ method estimates the surface conductance to water vapor transport, which is the key rate-limiting parameter of typical ET models, by choosing the surface conductance that minimizes the vertical variance of the calculated relative humidity profile averaged over the day. The ETRHEQ method, which was previously tested at five AmeriFlux sites, is modified for use at common weather stations and further validated at 20 AmeriFlux sites that span a wide range of climates and limiting factors. Averaged across all sites, the daily latent heat flux RMSE is ∼26 W·m−2 (or 15%). The method is applied across the U.S. at 305 weather stations and spatially interpolated using ANUSPLIN software. Gridded annual mean ETRHEQ ET estimates are compared with four data sets, including water balance-derived ET, machine-learning ET estimates based on FLUXNET data, North American Land Data Assimilation System project phase 2 ET, and a benchmark product that integrates 14 global ET data sets, with RMSEs ranging from 8.7 to 12.5 cm·yr−1. The ETRHEQ method relies only on data measured at weather stations, an estimate of vegetation height derived from land cover maps, and an estimate of soil thermal inertia. These data requirements allow it to have greater spatial coverage than direct measurements, greater historical coverage than satellite methods, significantly less parameter specification than most land surface models, and no requirement for calibration.

  4. 104
    llewelly says:

    Sometimes I wish this kind of diagram would be used to show how storm tracks are likely to shift over time due to global warming.

    A graph could have the vertical axis representing average latitudes of storm tracks, or of the jet stream, and the horizontal axis representing climate model years, or degrees of global warming.

  5. 105
  6. 106
    Chuck Hughes says:

    How likely is it that we’re greatly underestimating the speed and severity of sea level rise? I keep getting this sick feeling that there are some serious unknown unknowns lurking ahead. Do the climate models factor in tundra fires, methane, dark ice, seismic ice quakes big enough to shake loose some major chunks of Antarctica?

    I’m no genius but I can imagine an unexpected sudden shift from some undetected crack hidden amongst all that ice. I’m thinking about what that earthquake in Nepal did to all the snow and ice around Mt. Everest. I bet tourism has tapered off dramatically in Nepal and won’t return for quite some time.

  7. 107
    Mike says:

    @ 97 is Michael Mann starting to sound a bit like Guy McPherson?

    By Michael E. Mann | Mar 18, 2014

  8. 108

    I have made the first ever sea ice temperature profiles as deduced by sea ice horizon observations.
    Although a sketch, the profiles were made from numerous observations repeated hundreds of times.
    They offer a way to check sea ice coupled models temperature profiles resolved at the water,ice , and ice to air interface level. The precision of extracting data by using refraction effects, in this case looming, is more accurate than any other method or instrumentation, because refraction can be studied with sea water, thin or thick ice from the perspective of a same method, despite sea water phase changes and difficult in field
    work if instruments were used. The horizon offers an instantaneous thermal flux measurement surpassing
    anything I know.

  9. 109
    Hank Roberts says:

    > how likely is it … crack hidden amongst all that ice

    That’s the “Ice Cube Emergency” scenario that I mentioned previously:

    possible in regions where highly crevassed glaciers are grounded deep beneath sea level, indicating portions of Greenland and Antarctica that may be vulnerable to rapid ice loss through catastrophic disintegration.

  10. 110
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    106: Chuck Hughes: I’m with you on that concern as well. As NO action occurs in isolation!. If you took anything away from the movie 2012, and about the only thing you could take way is the liquid nature of the earths crust and mantle. Every moderate to large earthquake changes the angle of the earth’s axis slightly. Thomas mentioned that the dramatic lift of ice off the arctic could cause local seismic instability. I believe that the lift of ice from Antarctica is even more dangerous as that as well as shifting the axis is causing abrupt tectonic rebound. The IPCC’s modelling is still unusably conservative as sea level is still computed as being a linear process. Dr Jim Hansen keeps saying that this process is clearly non-linear and steppable. As the sudden fracturing of a massive Antarctic ice shelf will cause a rapid acceleration of the land ice towards the sea virtually immediately, raising sea levels by metres at a time. For some reason scientists are not telling policy makers the entire truth or only the truth that they feel 100% comfortable in predicting. That’s not useful! and in fact blatantly counter-productive!. Science prediction is all about risk analysis and probability. Even if there is a 35% chance of New York going under in 50 years then authorities should be acting NOW.

  11. 111
    zebra says:

    #110 Lawrence (and Chuck),

    The problem is, there is no “giant conspiracy of scientists trying to create a Socialist World Government”, and that may be what we need.

    More seriously, as I’ve tried to bring up a few times, there is no apparent direction to the work; no guidance on allocation of resources. The answer to scientists being hesitant on predictions and projections, in my universe, is to get more data and more quickly. And, to get more people assigned to identified critical areas– not relying on the whims and curiosities of individuals, which works fine for “science as usual”, but not for massive engineering projects. And that’s what we are dealing with– not geoengineering, but motivating and planning mitigation and adaptation.

    The realistic time span for deciding to get things done is over the next 60 years. If, 30 years from now, people are still kriging and waiting for that time series to be just a little longer, the Denialist strategy will have worked indeed.

    I will close with that most depressing quote from NOAA:

    The vision of the USCRN program is to maintain a sustainable high-quality climate observation network that 50 years from now can with the highest degree of confidence answer the question: How has the climate of the Nation changed over the past 50 years?

  12. 112
    Fred Magyar says:

    Susan Anderson @ 26

    “Thanks KMcK. My friend Tenney lived in Brazil for a long time, and the endemic corruption there is largely unimaginable to us “civilized” types.”

    Civilized Types?! Really?! And who exactly might they be?! That statement is about as condescending as you can get! Maybe your idea of civilized types are US politicians, bankers, corporate executives and the financial wizards of Wall Street?

    Disclaimer: I was born in Brazil and hold dual US/Brazilian citizenship. I have lived in Brazil for about half of my 62 years and travel there frequently, my next trip will be this coming July and I will stay there till December. I have traveled extensively throughout the country with many trips to the Amazon region. There are certainly many problems in Brazil corruption being one of them.

    However, believe it or not Brazil is a democracy and has provisions in its constitution for environmental protection and it is also a civil society governed by laws! Those laws do get enforced!

  13. 113

    The effect of increased fresh water from Antarctic ice shelves on
    future trends in Antarctic sea ice

    Observations show that, in contrast to the Arctic, the area of Antarctic sea ice has increased since 1979. A potential driver of this significant increase relates to the mass loss of the Antarctic ice sheet. Subsurface ocean warming causes basal ice-shelf melt, freshening the surface waters around Antarctica, which leads to increases in sea-ice cover. With climate warming ongoing, future mass-loss rates are projected to accelerate, which has the potential to affect future Antarctic seaice trends.

    Here we investigate to what extent future sea-ice trends are influenced by projected increases in Antarctic freshwater flux due to subsurface melt, using a state-of-the-art global climate model (EC-Earth) in standardized Climate Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) climatechange simulations. Virtually all CMIP5 models disregard ocean–ice-sheet interactions and project strongly retreating Antarctic sea ice.

    Applying various freshwater flux scenarios, we find that the additional fresh water significantly offsets the decline in sea-ice area and is even able to reverse the trend in the strongest freshwater forcing scenario that can reasonably be expected, especially in austral winter. The model also simulates decreasing sea surface temperatures (SSTs), with the SST trends exhibiting strong regional variations that largely correspond to regional sea-ice trends.Link

  14. 114
    Hank Roberts says:

    An opinionated comment about helping people find information:

    Please link to original sources, not to your copies of part of the information. No matter how pretty your graphics or how effective your subscription model, you’re hiding the science inside fluffy opinion.

    And you’re confusing the search results.

    Your heart may be in the right place, but think: where’s your head?

    I don’t care what side of the politics you’re favoring, for reference purposes, be honest. Surrounding your copies of the scientific information with opinions blurs the distinction between research and other stuff.

    And your Search Engine Optimization screws up search for the cites.

    Make the effort. Want people to trust your ability to find good information? Want people to trust the science?

    Point to the original source. Then, if you must, self-link to your own site where you offer paid subscriptions and graphic fluffiness and opinions.

    Where available, always give the DOI.

    West Antarctica Media Teleconference

    May 12, 2014
    Eric Rignot, Tom Wagner, Sridhar Anandakrishnan (a Science Magazine intern’s story about it, with links)
    Science 16 May 2014:Vol. 344 no. 6185 pp. 735-738
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1249055
    Marine Ice Sheet Collapse Potentially Under Way for the Thwaites Glacier Basin, West Antarctica
    Rignot, E., J. Mouginot, M. Morlighem, H. Seroussi, and B. Scheuchl (2014), Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica, from 1992 to 2011, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 3502–3509, doi:10.1002/2014GL060140.

  15. 115
    Brian Dodge says:

    @Chuck Hughes — 23 May 2015 @ 12:48 PM My take on the misunderestimation of sea level rise can be found at the discussion that starts here –

  16. 116
  17. 117
    Brian Dodge says:

    @Chuck Hughes — 23 May 2015 @ 12:48 PM – In 2009, Velicogna showed “The combined contribution of Greenland and Antarctica to global sea level rise is accelerating at a rate of 56 ± 17 Gt/yr2 during April 2002–February 2009, which corresponds to an equivalent acceleration in sea level rise of 0.17 ± 0.05 mm/yr2 during this time” and “The F-test show that the improvement obtained with the quadratic fit is statistical significant at a very high confidence level.” doi:10.1029/2009GL040222

    By 2015, Wouters et al show that for the South Antarctic Penninsula “a remarkable rate of acceleration in dynamic mass loss since about 2009 that must have been near-simultaneous across multiple basins and glaciers” with “The GRACE data shows an increase in mass loss in our region of interest (fig. S6) and are consistent with the ICESat/Envisat and Cryosat-2 observations within uncertainties at all time intervals.”
    “The GRACE data shows an increase in mass loss in our region of interest (fig. S6) and are consistent with the ICESat/Envisat and Cryosat-2 observations

    within uncertainties at all time intervals.” DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5727 (might be paywalled) looks more like a hockey stick than a parabola to me.

    Which is probably Why Christopher S. Watson, Neil J. White, John A. Church, Matt A. King, Reed J. Burgette & Benoit Legresy (any of those names sound familiar?) say “,,, in contrast to the previously reported slowing in the rate during the past two decades, our corrected GMSL data set indicates an acceleration in sea-level rise (independent of the VLM used), which is of opposite sign to previous estimates and comparable to the accelerated loss of ice from Greenland and to recent projections, and larger than the twentieth century acceleration.”

    We now have satellite gravimetry, laser altimetry, GPS corrected tide guages, and glacier mass balance land surveys – – all showing accelerating ice loss or sea level rise. My crude spreadsheet estimates show 1 meter by ~2070 if we’re lucky, and by maybe 2050 if reality follows the pattern of Arctic sea ice loss compared to models-

  18. 118
    Richard Hawes says:

    I wish to bring the following important New York Book Review article to readers’ attention:

    A New Solution: The Climate Club
    William D. Nordhaus
    June 4, 2015 Issue
    Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet
    by Gernot Wagner and Martin L. Weitzman
    Princeton University Press, 250 pp., $27.95

  19. 119
    Killian says:

    #107 Mike said, @ 97 is Michael Mann starting to sound a bit like Guy McPherson?

    No. Mann is a scientist acting like a scientist, and apparently developing a greater awareness of rate of change.

    Beyond that, McPherson distorts the science and his message is simple: “It’s too late. Life is now a long process of dying off. Smile.” (Paraphrased, but accurate.) He literally states we need to treat human existence as being in hospice.

    To my knowledge, Mann notes tipping points, but I don’t recall him saying all is lost, and certainly not prepare to die, happily. I’m not going to encourage suicidal ideations, so will not link. You all know how to do an internet search, if feeling like suicide based on misrepresented science.

  20. 120
    Edward Greisch says:

    78 patrick: “protect the most vulnerable, who did the least to cause the problem”
    Sorry patrick, your sense of justice is fine, but Nature doesn’t have a sense of justice. It isn’t going to happen in any particular way. There is no way to know ahead of time who the survivors will be, if any. A collapse of civilization is chaotic.

    Global Warming [GW] is not a liberal issue.

  21. 121
    Thomas O'Reilly says:

    regarding Michael Mann & 2036

    2014 If You See Something, Say Something on RC with 600 comments
    “How will history judge us if we watch the threat unfold before our eyes, but fail to communicate the urgency of acting to avert potential disaster? How would I explain to the future children of my 8-year-old daughter that their grandfather saw the threat, but didn’t speak up in time? Those are the stakes.”

    Mike Mann Interview by KCRW 21 Jan, 2014 he says:
    “Almost 100% of climate scientists now say global warming is caused by human behavior and that action now is a moral imperative for future generations. But public perception is moving the other way, with fewer Americans worried, despite recent extreme weather conditions here and around the world.”

    Mann says at 1:15mins in above video link: “…it is not only appropriate but I think it is crucial that we speak out on the implications of the science, and I am very careful to distinguish, sort of, playing a role and informing the policy discussion and informing the public discourse than trying to proscribe policy.”

    “So I don’t think it is necessarily the role of scientists to proscribe what the policy solutions should be … to tackle the climate change problem.”

    and in the NYT article Mike also said:

    A Date with Destiny: 2036
    Most scientists concur that two degrees C of warming above the temperature during preindustrial time would harm all sectors of civilization—food, water, health, land, national security, energy and economic prosperity. ECS is a guide to when that will happen if we continue emitting CO2 at our business-as-usual pace.”

    “BAU pace” figures usually includes the very large projected increases in renewable and nuclear energy globally over the next 25 years – but global Fossil Fuel use is expected to keep increasing out to 2040. The opposite direction of common sense one would think?

  22. 122
    Mal Adapted says:

    I said:

    rushing the 2-degree date is a meme living amongst us.

    My challenge to TO’R was reflexive, and “2 degrees before 2050” isn’t just a meme. As several commenters have pointed out, such predictions are subject to interpretation. Mike summed it up last month:

    Has to do w/ the baseline and the target quantity.

    A reminder to myself to think before posting.

  23. 123
    Mal Adapted says:

    Edward Greisch:

    78 patrick: “protect the most vulnerable, who did the least to cause the problem”
    Sorry patrick, your sense of justice is fine, but Nature doesn’t have a sense of justice. It isn’t going to happen in any particular way. There is no way to know ahead of time who the survivors will be, if any. A collapse of civilization is chaotic.

    I get your point, but AGW’s impacts short of (or in the early stages of) a “collapse of civilization” can be expected to fall hardest on those who have benefited the least from economic development driven by fossil fuels. Lukewarmers know this, at least implicitly. When they say AGW won’t be a problem, they mean it won’t be a problem for them and the people they care about, because they assume they’ll have the resources to adapt: move away from the seashore, invest in more storm-proofing or air-conditioning, pay higher food prices, etc. As for poor people in other countries, who already live on the edge of disaster and are at risk of being pushed over it by any environmental change, well, they’re not the lukewarmers’ problem. When someone says “it’s too expensive to mitigate, we’ll just have to adapt”, what’s left unsaid is “and let the weak fall by the wayside.”

  24. 124
    Edward Greisch says:

    123 Mal Adapted: The rich are not immune to the following KILL MECHANISMS LIST. Mother Nature is good at killing. Here is a partial list of weapons she has in store for us:

    1. Famine caused by
    ….a. drought
    ….b. floods
    ….c. overpopulation
    ….d. aquifers running dry

    2. Dehydration caused by drought

    3. Drowning in floods

    4. Fire driven by heat and drought. Fire storms as large as the Amazon basin. Smoke.

    5. Heat stress

    6. Methane fuel-air explosions caused by
    ….a. methane hydrate melting
    ….b. tundra thawing
    and as powerful as nuclear bombs

    7. War and nuclear war.

    8. Genocide as in Rwanda, which ended when there were few enough people for the land to support.

    9. Tropical diseases and their carriers moving poleward.

    10. H2S bubbling out of hot oceans is [probably] the final blow. This is the same mechanism as the Great Death 251 million years ago, alias the End Permian mass extinction alias the Permian-Triassic boundary. “Under a Green Sky” by Peter D. Ward.

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are completely outclassed and outgunned.

    Those rich “Lukewarmers” will suddenly discover themselves dead. Please study collapses of civilizations. Reference: “The Long Summer” by Brian Fagan and “Collapse” by Jared Diamond. When agriculture collapses, civilization collapses. Fagan and Diamond told the stories of something like 2 dozen previous very small civilizations. Most of the collapses were caused by fraction of a degree climate changes. In some cases, all of that group died. On the average, 1 out of 10,000 survived.  We humans could go EXTINCT in the 2050s. The 1 out of 10,000 survived because he wandered in the direction of food. If the collapse is global, there is no right direction.

    The rich have a good chance of being hunted for revenge. Collapses are sudden and unexpected by the lukewarmers. There are a few super-rich who have built bomb-proof houses in very remote locations. They won’t be in their safe places when it happens.

    The lukewarmers are dreaming or engaged in magical thinking. Impact short of collapse is a daydream. At best, those lukewarmers will be the best dressed people in the graveyard, or more likely well dressed corpses laying in the street with nobody to bury them.

    “When someone says “it’s too expensive to mitigate, we’ll just have to adapt”, what’s left unsaid is “and let the weak fall by the wayside.”” What they are thinking may be that we need evolution to improve the race, and my kids are smarter, so my kids will survive. WRONG! Evolution does not work that neatly. The chance of survival is too remote for anybody. There is no way to predict who, or whether, there will be survivors. To “Adapt” is to die. Adaptation by natural selection is mostly death.

  25. 125
    zebra says:

    #123 Mal Adapted,

    You’ve said it as well as anyone could, and it needs to be said more often.

    But mitigation, adaptation, and progress for those people, are not at all mutually exclusive. That’s the trap the Denialists are trying to set.

  26. 126
    Russell says:

    Friends and foes of geoengineering shouls alike take notice of The Mother Of All Aerosol Experiments , presently in unauthorized progerss in Iraq:
    ISIS has torched an oilfield and the largest refinery in the region, touching off black carbon emission plumes on the scale of of the Kuwait Oil Fires.

  27. 127
    Edward Greisch says:

    123 Mal Adapted: Lukewarmers are denialists who are trying to hide the fact that they are denialists.

  28. 128
    Chuck Hughes says:

    What I’ve noticed and what’s glaringly obvious to me is that out of all the reporting on the floods in Texas and Oklahoma which has been non stop and “Biblical” according to news reports…. NOBODY is even mentioning the words, “Climate Change.” Not once on the Weather Channel or on any of the Evening News shows do I hear any reporter dare mention those banished words.

    I guess this is part of the corporate media blackout on Climate Change? It’s bad for their business model. We don’t want to scare the children??? What’s up with that? If there were any event that has the signature of Climate Change I would think these massive and deadly flooding events would be it.

    I don’t think I’m being overly paranoid here but it seems to me to be a deliberate effort to shut people up about the situation. Could I be mistaken about this? This area has gone from exceptional drought to massive flooding and nobody thinks this is unusual. Then there’s California/Nevada…

  29. 129
    pete best says:

    The end of Fossil Fuels nears: IMF is now stating that its time to price carbon in light of the USA and China agreement.

  30. 130
    Mal Adapted says:

    Edward Greisch:

    Those rich “Lukewarmers” will suddenly discover themselves dead. Please study collapses of civilizations. Reference: “The Long Summer” by Brian Fagan and “Collapse” by Jared Diamond.

    I’ve read both those books, and they are sobering indeed, but I don’t take them as prophetic, only as precautionary.

    Look, most of us here think in terms of relative risk. All the extinction threats you list are possible, but not all are equally probable, and each of them would take place over a shorter or longer interval of time, with a range of eventual severity. You say “impact short of collapse is a daydream”, but it’s more likely to occur over decades than over days, and we won’t know how far it will go until it’s done. It’s the long tail of risk that motivates our concern. Meanwhile, those who right now are building private fortunes by socializing the climate costs of fossil-fuel production are doing the same kind of risk assessment I am, they’re just using a higher discount rate.

    Of course wealthy individuals can succumb to sudden manifestations of AGW, but it’s inarguable that within societies, those with more economic resources have greater ability to evade or absorb some AGW-related costs, at least during the early stages. Thus the costs of AGW will be paid disproportionately by the poor, who as Patrick said have done the least to cause the problem. That’s what makes lukewarmers the most exasperating species of denier. One would prefer them to come right out and say “I’m enjoying my comfort and convenience today, I’m happy to make someone else pay for them, and the world of 2050 can take care of itself!”

  31. 131
    Tom Adams says:

    Re: 81 “Re: 67, 69, Vox (David Roberts) v. Romm, also see Robert’s follow-up piece: – See more at:

    Roberts estimation that we are likely to exceed 2C may be correct, but that is a sideshow, not his main thesis. He thinks climate change activism should shift to adaptation to a much hotter world. But such adaptation has even less sociopolitical support than does the 2C goal. His alternative is more expensive and more depressing. The opposition in the US does not support it anymore than they support the 2C goal. The opposition is not going to switch from the current denial strategy to funding adaptation.

    We need stick with the 2C goal because it’s the still the best strategy regardless of estimations of it’s likelihood. Concerning the sociopolitical issues (1) even Roberts thinks 2C is not that expensive, so the socio part is actually not that hard to overcome. (1) Concerning the political, Europe it already overcoming that, China and the US just made a deal. China+Europe+US is half the emissions. This is leadership for the rest of the world and a few big remaining countries are the most important and they may follow China’s lead. The US politics are such that we may keep electing Democratic presidents that support action and the Clean Air Act gives presidents lots of power regardless of Congress and presidents can cut deals with industry as the current one did on auto emissions. Also, we recently had a Congress that could have passed laws to make it easier and that could happen again. The Supreme Court accepts the principle that CO2 is covered by the Clean Air Act.

  32. 132
    Edward Greisch says:

    Book: “What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming” by Per Espen Stoknes, 2015. A book about the psychology of GW.

    I have started reading this book. I hope it tells me something about the subject of climate denial.

  33. 133
  34. 134

    Above studies highlights possible cooling due to AMO changes.

    A study based on OHC (Ocean Heat Content), with data from 1982 to 2010 found:

    ..much of the warming of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre during the period occurred in 1990s and compensated for cooling during the decades of the early 1960s to mid-1990s in this same region. Superimposed on this warming trend the analysis reveals a succession of residual SST anomalies with 0.5C amplitudes that seem to move out of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre into the Nordic Seas following the North Atlantic and Norwegian Currents.

    Within the Nordic Seas these SST anomalies slowly advect in a counterclockwise direction. After approximately six years part of the anomalies exits the Nordic Seas through the East Greenland Current. The connection between these SST anomalies and underlying anomalies of 0/300 m heat content is discussed. The existence of these SST anomalies and their origin at lower latitudes highlights the importance of ocean exchanges in influencing Arctic climate.


    The AMOC plays a major role in linking external forcing with North Atlantic SSTs. Link to study

    So this suggests that there will be a little bit less incoming warmth for the Arctic environment in coming years. But because atmospheric anomalies are so big at the north pole, i wonder what kind of impact can be expected. I guess it can only be considered a minor influence on melt pattern and weather, when considering the overall warming trends.

    And how will this AMO cooling phase impact OHC distribution?

  35. 135

    Pacific origin of the abrupt increase in Indian Ocean heat content during the warming hiatus

    However, in situ hydrographic records indicate that Pacific Ocean heat content has been decreasing9. Here, we analyse observations along with simulations from a global ocean–sea ice model to track the pathway of heat. We find that the enhanced heat uptake by the Pacific Ocean has been compensated by an increased heat transport from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, carried by the Indonesian throughflow. As a result, Indian Ocean heat content has increased abruptly, which accounts for more than 70% of the global ocean heat gain in the upper 700 m during the past decade. We conclude that the Indian Ocean has become increasingly important in modulating global climate variability.

    Ecology in a changing climate

  36. 136

    Sudden spreading of corrosive bottom water during the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum

    Corrosive deep water spreading from the North Atlantic can explain the spatial variations in carbonate dissolution during the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. In our simulations, highly corrosive waters accumulate in the deep North Atlantic at the onset of the event.

    Several thousand years after an imposed atmospheric carbon release, warming of the deep ocean destabilizes the North Atlantic water column and triggers deep-water formation. This deep convection causes the corrosive bottom water to spill over an equatorial sill into the South Atlantic. The bottom water then spreads through the Southern and Pacific oceans, progressively gaining alkalinity. We conclude that the pattern of sediment dissolution simulated along the path taken by the corrosive water is consistent with most dissolution estimates from the sediment record.

  37. 137
    Russell says:

    Iraq is burning : a replay of the Kuwait Oil Fires is in progress, but despite spectacular black carbon plumes covering areas as large as some neighboring nations , to a first approximation, the world has not noticed this Mother Of All Geoenginering Experiments.

  38. 138

    #129–Pete, thanks for the link to the ‘End of Fossil’ piece. It’s heartening, though I don’t entirely trust it. It’s a short piece, based on one report, and I seem to recall an old saw about counting chickens that might apply. Still… I’m going to bookmark it and share it. It embodies the change I want to see.

    Interesting that it’s in the Telly–as I perceive it from this side of the Atlantic, that paper hasn’t been especially friendly to climate issues? (Though I’m aware that its long-standing Tory slant has historically co-existed with a certain level of journalistic respectability, I’ve had the impression that the latter has eroded a fair bit in recent years?)

    The second chart–confusingly labeled, I presume from the IEA report cited as source, “Chart 1”–is certainly a telling response to the “nobody’s doin’ nuttin'” subthread above. While we’ve been waiting on effective international action, and monitoring the political action at the federal level in a few of the G8 and/or Anglophone nations, quite a few folks around the world have clearly taken policy actions on their own.

    Of course, policy is one thing and actual mitigation is another. But I suspect not much of the latter happens without the former, most of the time. And when climate change policies exist around the world, the problem becomes not one of creating them ex nihilo, top down, but rather harmonizing them, bottom up. Maybe that’s the genius of the new COP approach with its ‘Intended Nationally Determined Targets’–INDCs.

    I suspect we’ll still have an ‘ambition gap’ post-Paris. But examples like that of Mexico–a petro-state after all, albeit one apparently not in denial about its climate change vulnerability–suggest it may not be quite as gaping a one as one might have expected.

    We tend to forget here at RC, I think, that non-linearities occur in socio-economic realms, as well as climatic ones, and in positive modes as well as disastrous ones. (Vide the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid, and more recently the rejection of ‘respectable’ homophobia in the developed world.) The Telly seems to be anticipating a ‘tipping point.’ One can certainly hope that they are, for once, right about that.

    One last point that I wonder about: if it is true, what will the macroeconomic consequences be? If those assets do become truly ‘stranded’, really huge amounts of capital will be wiped off the books. According to this source, one set of assumptions and calculations:

    …implies a potential $20 trillion write off.

    Depending how it plays out–how it’s compensated by countervailing economic activity, how it’s financed, what the pace of change is, how the international community responds (cooperatively or with trade wars?) and so on and on, things could get very messy indeed:

    The risk of systemic collapse of an already fragile, interconnected global economy is high if we incur a write off of this magnitude. Fossil fuel intensive economies and investors would be severely damaged, no doubt triggering a deep and prolonged recession while the losses were absorbed. Some, like Saudi Arabia where energy represents 75% of government revenues, and Venezuela (50% of government revenues) would face economic devastation leading to widespread social unrest.

    Of course, that would be merely a generation-scale disaster at worst, far less dire than the case of the societal collapse that could ensue from climate change. But it’s definitely worth thinking about and planning for. Consider the above-mentioned case, the fall of the Soviet Union:

    The Russian Federation experienced a surge in death rates of almost 40 percent since 1992, with numbers rising from 11 to 15.5 per thousand (Bhattacharya et al., 2011).

    Various factors ramified with that fact surely relate to the elevated mortality currently being experienced in the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine… to cite just one consequence.

  39. 139

    Re book recommendation from Espen Stoknes. See a lecture Why Climate and Psychology?

  40. 140
    Hank Roberts says:


    Is there really more black carbon coming off the oil refinery/field now than comes off, say, China and India on a daily basis? I appreciate Russel’s snark at VV but, really? What if they attack and burn all the tobacco plantations in China, would that make much difference?

  41. 141
    MA Rodger says:

    Chris Machens @133.
    I did encounter a numpty denialist wielding an account of the paper you refer to, McCarthy et al (2015), like it was some big game-changer. The paper is paywalled but appears to be mainly about using tidal gauge data as a proxy-source of AMO data. Linking this tentative data to provide projections of future AMO is probably to be expected but the linkage of AMO to future global temperature is more of a speculative ask. Do note that the McCarthy et al abstract cites KK Tung in this matter. My understanding is that KK Tung’s wobblology is entirely dodgy, so we are surely taking one to many strides away from solid evidence to talk of “Global climate on verge of multi-decadal change.”

  42. 142
    Hank Roberts says:

    This constitutes provocation to think, for those interested:

    Rethinking extinction –by Stewart Brand

    The idea that we are edging up to a mass extinction is not just wrong – it’s a recipe for panic and paralysis

    There is no reason to be sanguine about climate change. It is the most serious problem currently facing humanity and nature. It might lead to the loss of some species that we lament greatly, but it will also usher in new species, and unless there is extremely ‘abrupt’ climate change, net biodiversity is unlikely to decrease dramatically. Abrupt-change scenarios have been dropping out of the climate models lately, thanks to ever-improving data and growing knowledge about climate dynamics. My own prediction is that climate change will be deemed intolerable for humans long before it speeds up extinction rates, and even if radical steps have to be taken to head it off, they will be taken.

    The danger that is clear and present remains what Briggs has called ‘the precarious state of thousands of populations that are the remnants of once widespread and productive species’. The emerging term for the phenomenon is ‘defaunation’. In their survey on wildlife losses, published in Science last year, Rudolfo Dirzo, a biologist at Stanford, and colleagues, reported that terrestrial vertebrates are showing a ‘25 per cent average decline in abundance’ and that ‘invertebrate patterns are equally dire: 67 per cent of monitored populations show 45 per cent mean abundance decline. Such animal declines will cascade onto ecosystem functioning.’

    The worry about ‘ecosystem functioning’ reflects a growing emphasis among conservation professionals. As the new science of conservation biology came into its own in the 1980s and ’90s, focus shifted away from concern about the fate of individual species and toward the general health of whole ecosystems. How serious is the ‘trophic cascade’ that results from an apex predator being absent or scarce? …

  43. 143
    Thomas says:

    Kevin @138.
    Quite a few places are stepping up the the plate. We also have the MOU2, which is a promise by several state including California, a couple of Canadian provines also, to get below 2tons CO2 per capita per year. Its not uniform, especially in the USA where some states are run by denialist politicians, but things are looking up. Also with every incremental improvement to wind/solar/storage the cost of mitigation is rapidly falling. On some estimates which include local pollution effects, the cost of mitigation is already zero or negative. Its going to become tougher and tougher for fossil fuel promoters to get their way.

  44. 144
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Comment by pete best — 27 May 2015

    Sounds highly optimistic to me but then, you’re a drummer. Drummers are always optimistic. (Ha)

    Seriously though, that does sound promising. Now about sucking all that extra CO2 out of the atmosphere….

  45. 145
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Billion$$ in damage in Texas & Oklahoma. Still no weather-caster may utter the phrase Climate Change. — Bill Nye

  46. 146
    Edward Greisch says:

    138 Kevin McKinney: $20 trillion writeoff: I have no sympathy for owners of fossil fuel stock. They have known that they themselves were committing genocide for the last 30 years.

  47. 147
    Mal Adapted says:

    Chuck Hughes:

    What I’ve noticed and what’s glaringly obvious to me is that out of all the reporting on the floods in Texas and Oklahoma which has been non stop and “Biblical” according to news reports…. NOBODY is even mentioning the words, “Climate Change.”

    It took a couple of days, but the New York Times has taken the big step: Scientists Warn to Expect More Weather Extremes.

  48. 148
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @ Pete Best: I think it may be more complicated than what the Telegraph is saying:

    While the US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change may represent a political breakthrough, clean energy additions in China will struggle to keep up with growing demand, despite a massive deployment of zero-carbon energy technologies. A new Breakthrough analysis shows that even if China hits its 20% target, new coal power capacity added between 2015 and 2030 could still rival new wind, solar, or nuclear capacity. In this case, new coal power would generate more electricity than either new nuclear or all new wind and solar combined. The analysis also shows that new nuclear plants will account for the largest share of zero-carbon generation, greater than wind and solar power combined. Even with these historically unprecedented build-outs of nuclear and renewables, substantial innovation will be necessary to accelerate low-carbon energy deployment and decarbonization beyond China’s already ambitious targets.

    Figure in India and who knows?

  49. 149
    Susan Anderson says:

    Wow Russell, that’s quite an item. Thanks. I’ve always thought war was the most environmentally destructive of all. What we get for ruining the neighborhood …

    I know your sharp mind had more in mind than the simplistic view … including but not limited to my plaint.

  50. 150

    Thanks for the elaboration Rodger, the article refers to RAPID, here is the website

    Findings are interesting but appears inconclusive, at least from the public info and their judgement based on a single system.