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Unforced Variations: June 2015

Filed under: — group @ 1 June 2015

This month’s open thread. Some interesting trends in ocean heat content, surface temperatures, multiple oddly reported papers (which are often linked to ambiguous press releases…) etc. But at least we aren’t working in political science…

264 Responses to “Unforced Variations: June 2015”

  1. 51
    Hank Roberts says:

    the comments seem unusually snarky … go read the scientific literature …

    If you’re reacting to my comments, be clear that I’m not a scientist nor an expert of any sort, I’m one of those non-experts trying to find the information. I don’t expect any scientist — let alone the few who are named Contributors for the blog — to retype what can be found by looking.

    Yeah, I wish for a reference desk/librarian on call. Won’t happen.

    Someone eager to engage will emerge at the hint of opportunity for snarking.

  2. 52
    Daniel Goodwin says:

    It seems flippant to dismiss RobertScribbler’s observations on Arctic methane monitoring as “doomer porn” of the Gazprom, AMEG, ticking-time-bomb variety. RealClimate hosts have responsibly dealt with actual methane alarmism, but that’s not what this is. Take a look at the trend lines (not the spotty outliers) from most of the Arctic stations. Given what’s at stake, it’s reasonable to worry about whether the past year’s data is ominous.

  3. 53

    Steven Emmerson #25, the first thing is the fact that oxygen content is decreasing, probably because oxygen gets consumed in the processes in the atmosphere, when greenhouse gases are broken down. The second important thing to note is that each time in the history of the Earth, when oxygen levels dropped, it was during a mass extinction event taken place.

    When you look for science on it, among the first things is to look at Google Scholar

  4. 54
    Ian Perrin says:

    @Killian in 48

    I’ve also found EROI misleading and imprecise. Could you explain how your EROEI + ERORI concept would deal with resources which are effectively infinite, like solar energy. Where substantial amounts of electrical energy are involved, don’t the values change with increasing RE in the mix?

  5. 55
    zebra says:

    #54 Ian,

    Why do we need to create abstract metrics like this? Why do we need to make(or answer) global claims like Jef’s?

    We don’t, because it is just more Denialist/Donothingist rhetoric.

    All climate is local.
    All mitigation is local.
    All adaptation is local.

    Policy decisions are going to be driven by what climate effects people experience locally, and what works for them locally.

    Whether there was really, really, a hiatus or whether we can really, really, nail sensitivity to predict 1.9C v 2.1C is irrelevant. Likewise all these global numbers about EROwhatever.

    People getting rooftop solar in California will drive the economies of scale and engineering progress that will eventually lead to isolated villages in Africa eschewing the grid and centralized power plants. That will lead to better education and nutrition, and less population growth putting pressure on areas being negatively affected by climate change.

    And I would wager that very few of the people signing up in California are thinking about either climate sensitivity or EROR. Drought, sure, and San Onofre, and electricity and gas costs in general, and maybe there’s a qualitative sense of concern about the environment.

    If there really were a global conspiracy trying to “engineer” the future, maybe this kind of quantification would be appropriate. But there isn’t; spending time on such debates only serves the purposes of BAU.

  6. 56
    Hank Roberts says:

    for Daniel Goodwin, you can go directly to the source — AIRS — where the methane data appears rather than see second- and third-hand interpretations; the cite should always be provided. They invite questions: Ask AIRS.

  7. 57
    Kevin says:

    @Hank Roberts, thanks that is the paper I was referencing. I’ll try and include a link to the pdf below. My summary came from the paper’s conclusions:
    CM3w predicts the most realistic 20th century warming. However, this is achieved with a small and less desirable threshold radius of 6.0  μm for the onset of precipitation. Conversely, CM3c uses a more desirable value of 10.6  μm but produces a very unrealistic 20th century temperature evolution.
    Full paper can be found here.

    My understanding of tuning for TOA energy comes from the IPCC AR5. Particular the following quotes on it:
    For instance, maintaining the global mean top of the atmosphere (TOA) energy balance in a simulation of pre-industrial climate is essential to prevent the climate system from drifting to an unrealistic state. The models used in this report almost universally contain adjustments to parameters in their treatment of clouds to fulfil this important constraint of the climate system (Watanabe et al., 2010; Donner et al., 2011; Gent et al., 2011; Golaz et al., 2011; Martin et al., 2011; Hazeleger et al., 2012; Mauritsen et al., 2012; Hourdin et al., 2013).

    I’ve also read through the papers referenced by the IPCC above that I’ve been able to track down, Mauritsen’s and that linked above being 2 of them. All of them seem to confirm that cloud parameters are tuned to correct TOA energy to match observations.

    I almost feel like I’m asking a redundant question after reading all of that. None the less, I also feel as if I state that climate models are hand tuning to get TOA energy balance correct I’m going to be called out for misrepresenting things. If somebody from less of a layman’s position could confirm whether or not a statement that current modelling practice includes tuning parameters to get an accurate TOA energy is true or not I’d really appreciate the feedback. I feel confident in the statement myself, but if I’m reading things wrong I’d also really like to know and then understand where I’m off.

  8. 58
    Mal Adapted says:

    Chris Machens:

    Steven Emmerson #25, the first thing is the fact that oxygen content is decreasing, probably because oxygen gets consumed in the processes in the atmosphere, when greenhouse gases are broken down.

    Some oxygen is surely consumed by processes in the atmosphere, but according to Ralph Keeling’s Atmospheric Oxygen Research site,

    Oxygen levels are decreasing globally due to fossil-fuel burning.

    Kind of intuitive, actually.

  9. 59
    Hank Roberts says:

    What if there are hidden time bombs in the way that climate sensitivity works? The answer should inform how we think about climate risks.
    The paper, by Jonah Bloch-Johnson, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, and Dorian S. Abbot, is about nonlinear feedbacks. That’s not as complicated as it sounds. Most climate models assume that climate sensitivity is linear — that is, temperature will always move proportionally to the greenhouse gases added. In a linear model, if the carbon dioxide concentration doubles, then the temperature would increase by twice some constant.
    However, it could be that sensitivity is not linear — meaning the temperature response to a given change in greenhouse gases could be more than simply proportional (or less). Essentially, the authors assume climate sensitivity has a quadratic factor, and imagine what happens ….

  10. 60
    Kevin says:

    @Hank Roberts in 59,

    I’ve always been pretty confident the idea that climate sensitivity is even a continuous function was liable to be wrong. Most likely we start from linear, find the shortcomings and work on to more special cases.

    Water vapor in particular seems likely to have the potential for different forcing values as temperatures change enough, possibly enough to flip signs even for colder/warmer ranges with the strong influence ice and clouds can have and the fact the spread of both is highly dependent on temperature.

    Reality probably is that the interacting systems in our climate are better described with non-continuous functions and we have a few decades of research ahead of us to map them out.

  11. 61
    Killian says:

    54 Ian Perrin said, @Killian in 48

    I’ve also found EROI misleading and imprecise. Could you explain how your EROEI + ERORI concept would deal with resources which are effectively infinite, like solar energy.

    Regarding source, it should be clear it has none. How much sunlight is transferred to usable energy isn’t real important given the vast amount of sunlight available. That efficiency number is valuable as a means to compare competing systems or to track improving efficiency, but the E to R would be irrelevant.

    However, the rest of the R in solar generators would be completely relevant. We must be most judicious with limited resources, and one way to evaluate the value of the investment of something that we will never get back might be the ratio of energy returned on the use of the resource.

    For example, say something like Rare Earths ended up with a global ERORI of 300:1 vs some other less powerful ferrous material that had an ERORI of 5:1, but was far more abundant. (These are *not* real numbers.)

    In general, since we have no idea what the future holds or how long humanity will survive or what tech may come, etc., ad nauseum, I’d first say go with the other ferrous material even though you need far more of it because the likelihood the Rare Earths could be really, really important at some future point is high given their distinctive properties and relative rarity. BUT, given rate of climate change, rate of overall resource depletion, uncertainty about tipping points, etc., and what all that means for risk assessment, is the higher return of the higher quality resource worth the risk of using it now in order to more rapidly decarbonize?

    Where substantial amounts of electrical energy are involved, don’t the values change with increasing RE in the mix?

    I think the ratios would be fixed. Given materials have a given amount of energy embedded in them, and we can get a given % of that energy changed to useful energy depending on tech. So, shifts in tech would result in shifting rations, e.g., but for any given tech, the E:R ratio should be constant. The value to society (setting aside economic/monetary value) will certainly vary along those lines, and others.

    This all seems straightforward to me, but I just thought it up in the few minutes before I posted it, so feedback is welcome.

  12. 62
    Killian says:

    Re #55 Zebra said, rant rant rant!

    I really don’t mean to be mean, it was just funny; made me smile.

    I get what your smokin’. I wonder, for instance, if you picked this up from me,

    “All climate is local.
    All mitigation is local.
    All adaptation is local.”

    because, “Sustainability is ultimately local” is something I’ve said for a while and have never heard anybody else say (write). The problem is, you are mostly correct, but not fully correct. Sustainability is ultimately local in that *most* loops need to be pretty small. Community, city, area/region, with the vast majority of those intra-community. But, just trade was global/continental thousands of years about without any mechanization, it will remain so. Ships can still be made out of wood, after all, should all mech tech and hi-tech go the way of the Dodo.

    Further, while the average Joe and Josephina may not need to discuss EROEI, EROI and (if it catches on) ERORI, *somebody* should be discussing it because hard, hard, hard decisions are coming. This is likely to be more true as we transition through to sustainability and less important once we have reached sustainability. But, one thing we will likely continue to do even as every other aspect simplifies to minimal resource use, will be R&D, if nothing else. I persoanlly think the bulk of tech application in the sustainable future should be some minimal, at least, continued use of non-renewable R for communications, knowledge distribution, health care and general tech research so we are not caught flat-footed by some future Black Swan. Besides, there are asteroids out there…

  13. 63
    Killian says:

    In response to a post about the lack of collegiality on this discussion board, I have often been castigate for a style of thinking and for asserting “knowing” when I could not fully, or at all, provide direct evidence, let alone proof. I have often only been able to provide the logic of my analysis based on available evidence. I’ve tried to explain this given I’ve made any number of accurate scenarios/predictions. Almost universally, whatever I suggest gets a nasty response from a particular set of posters here. No matter, really, except for that lack of collegiality for our Dear Readers. I have stumbled across a rather better description of how I analyze:

    Like his great aunt Margaret, Fuller is a transcendentalist: he discerns patterns and accepts their significance on faith. His is not the burden of proof: the pattern is assumed significant unless proven otherwise. If Fuller had been burdened by the necessity of proof, he would have been too hamstrung to continue looking for significant patterns. His own biographical notes in Synergetics show us a mind that accepts information in a highly unorthodox fashion and refuses to swallow the predigested. In rejecting the predigested, Fuller has had to discover the world all by himself. It is not surprising, in fact rather reassuring, that the obvious should emerge alongside the novel, the obscure together with the useful. Posterity will have to draw the line between the mystical and the scientific, a line that will certainly have to be redrawn from time to time.
    Arthur Lee Loeb, Harvard geometer, in his Preface to Synergetics (1975)

    This is not to say I am anything like the intellect Bucky was. Not at all. But the description of his process is comfortingly familiar. Hopefully, any future snipers will consider were Fuller posting here with his unsubstantiated, “unscientific” conclusions today, he’d have been rather crudely treated. A bit more tolerance all the way round might be in order. (I should say, apparently an order came down from on high, or a group discussion happened off-board because the peanut gallery has been incredibly quiet, and my posts receive nearly zero response now. Not complaining, merely pointing out this post might be a bit late to the non=party.)

    Collegiality! None (few?) of us seek extinction, after all.

  14. 64
    wili says:

    to doug @ #18: that remark was in regard to a completely different article on a completely different subject on a comment by a completely different scientist.

    It is completely appropriate to bring here comments from apparent experts to see what our the resident scientists have to say about them. What else is a forum like this for? Thanks a lot for trying to censor views you don’t like to consider, though. I’m sure that is a great way to encourage participation of new members on this forum (not).

  15. 65
    Edward Greisch says:

    Is the searcher in the upper right corner working OK? I added ghoster plugin, would that affect it?

  16. 66
    MA Rodger says:

    Kevin @57.
    I am grateful you have described your reading list. I had noted your unanswered enquiry at SkS & decided not to respond as you are venturing into a difficult area so what you have based your findings on is very relevant.
    Do note that AR5 Ch9 Box 9.1, as well as providing your quote @57, also states “With very few exceptions (Mauritsen et al., 2012; Hourdin et al., 2013) modelling centres do not routinely describe in detail how they tune their models. Therefore the complete list of observational constraints toward which a particular model is tuned is generally not available.” This is why I suggest model tuning is a ‘difficult area’.
    Your researches so far have solely demonstrated that the assertions made by the IPCC that you quote are supported by the references the IPCC provide as evidential support. Do note your quote begins “For instance, …” It is therefore presenting an exemplar (abet a common one) of the stuff of the model tuning process rather than the predominant part of the process.
    There are a couple of things that make me wonder if you fully appreciate the question you ask. @45 you talk of “hand tuning parameters until TOA energy balance matches observations” but the IPCC are talking of “maintaining the global mean top of the atmosphere (TOA) energy balance in a simulation of pre-industrial climate” which makes me wonder what TOA observations you think could be available from pre-industrial times.
    And my own memory of reading up on model tuning is that there is cloud tuning and there is parameterisation of cloud effects from aerosoles which is also sometimes termed cloud tuning.
    My point in all this is that, whatever your purpose in asking this preparetary question, do be careful in this ‘difficult area’. (And it is probably wrong to be asking your prelimenary question without any indication of where you’re going with it. The question you ask and the answers given may not fit well your real enquiry. We cannot help if we don’t know.)

  17. 67
    MA Rodger says:

    HadCRUT4 has been posted for April. As with the other surface records, the anomaly remains very warm, HadCRUT4 giving the 15th warmest month on record, but not the warmest April. Although April is the ‘coolest’ month of 2015 so far, with Jan-April thus all in the top 15 & the rolling 12-month average still topping all previous warm spells, I think it’s fair to still rate 2015 to date as scorchio!!!

    1 2007/01 . +0.835
    2 1998/02 . +0.762
    =3 2002/02 . +0.701
    =3 2006/12 . +0.701
    5 2002/03 . +0.697
    6 2015/01 . +0.69
    7 2015/03 . +0.68

    =8 2010/03 . +0.677
    =8 2010/04 . +0.677
    10 1998/07 . +0.672
    11 2014/08 . +0.666
    12 2002/01 . +0.661
    13 2015/02 . +0.66
    14 2014/04 . +0.658
    15 2015/04 . +0.655
    16 1998/04 . +0.633
    17 2014/12 . +0.63
    =18 2005/11 . +0.628
    =18 2013/11 . +0.628
    =20 2014/06 . +0.62
    =20 2014/10 . +0.62

  18. 68
    Kevin says:

    @MA Rodger,

    My background is from comp sci. I’m way over on the IT side these days, but doing some hobby level particle modelling is something I’ve done in the past. I’m really interested in the basic answer as much as follow up discussion I’m interested in either way.

    Is a simpler or less nuanced question something like:
    Does anyone have an example or paper on model tuning where the tuning is NOT used to adjust TOA energy?

  19. 69
    Kevin says:

    @MA Rodger,

    Would it be a less nuanced question to ask for a reference or paper to a climate model that has not tuned parameters to adjust TOA energy?

  20. 70
    Chuck Hughes says:

    @Comment by Daniel Goodwin — 5 Jun 2015
    @ wili

    I too read Robert Scribbler’s posts regularly. Now I have stated in the past that some of what I read does come off as “alarmist” and subjective but given our situation I don’t see that as a flaw. We need to be paying close attention to what’s happening in the NH in regards to fires and methane etc. Polar Amplification to my thinking means that’s where a lot of our attention needs to be focused. I don’t expect a methane explosion or all the methane to come up at once in any dramatic fashion. I think it will continue to seep out over time but it’s still a factor. Thing is, we really don’t know because we’ve never witnessed the planet being heated up this quickly. I expect the process to be chaotic and unpredictable for the most part. We keep underestimating so many factors as it is. I don’t blame folks for being “alarmed” about it. If we were actually making progress toward reducing CO2 it might be different but until I see evidence of the Keeling Curve changing directions, I’m keeping all options open.

  21. 71

    At#59 – Hank, it’s good to see the paper on the probability of a non-linear climate sensitivity linked here, as it brings into focus the question of just what is commensurate mitigation of AGW. Down the hall there’s quite some changes in that calculus under way, with the UK govt, the B-Team of major corporations, and others, declaring their goals for Paris in terms of a “Net-zero” emissions regime with target-dates ranging from 2050 to 2100. The recognition that the 2.0C “defence-line” cannot be maintained by Emissions Controls alone is at last getting respectability.

    Yet with the widespread and growing loss of faith in CCS on grounds of un-scaleability, a Net-zero outcome is inevitably reliant on the Carbon Recovery mode of Geo-E utilizing forest carbon – at best via the native coppice afforestation for biochar option of “Carbon Recovery for Food Security”. This tows a further issue that has yet to be acknowledged, even “down the hall”, which is the growing evidence of a Forest-Decline feedback having started accelerating around 1980, consisting both of climate impacts and their consequences and of the toxic effects of elevated CO2 causing trees’ faster growth and shorted life-spans (as recently reported in Brienen et al).

    From this perspective it is increasingly obvious that reliance on Carbon Recovery via forest carbon sequestration means a reliance on the second mode of Geo-E, namely Albedo Restoration, as the necessary and sufficient complement to stabilize both forestry and global agriculture and to halt the Major Interactive Feedbacks’ acceleration. Roll on the day when the discussion of both modes’ options and their R&D are no longer considered taboo here on RC, for at the moment that necessary discussion is mostly behind closed doors, meaning that the drift to an emergency use of the default option of Teller’s stratospheric aerosols continues.

    All the best,

  22. 72

    #470–Speaking of which, the May Scripps number was 403.7. Ow.

  23. 73
    MA Rodger says:

    kevin @68/69.
    Your response to my comment @66 does not fill me with confidence. Even though, as Mauritsen et al. (2012) put it, “the process of selecting a model configuration is shrouded in mystery,” which makes your specific question sound odd, I find your singular questioning difficult to attribute to somebody who has read and understood the references you have indicated. Rather, you appear by your continued questioning to be imagining that model tuning is predominantly (as you put it 57) about “hand tuning to get TOA energy balance correct.”
    So here’s a direct question for you that i think may lead to some common understanding on this tuning issue. What TOA energy balance do you consider all these tuning exercises to be ‘correcting’?

  24. 74
    Hank Roberts says:

    Also noted at the weasel’s:

    I suggest this is evidence that the goal of mitigation is reversing ocean pH change; but failing that, drastically reducing the _rate_ of ocean acidification is what’s needed.

    Slow it down sufficiently, and nature can cope as it did in the past.

    Acidify fast? See this natural experiment in the paleo record, back when “rapid” meant only a tenth or a hundredth of the rate of change we’re currently causing:

    “The first phase of extinction was coincident with a slow injection of carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean pH remained stable. During the second extinction pulse, however, a rapid and large injection of carbon caused an abrupt acidification event that drove the preferential loss of heavily calcified marine biota.”

    Ocean acidification and the Permo-Triassic mass extinction
    Science 10 April 2015:
    Vol. 348 no. 6231 pp. 229-232
    DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0193

  25. 75

    I’m on the verge of finishing my RCM tutorial. It should be less than a week now.

    I’m tempted to turn it into a full-scale book and have it published, if anyone will accept it. On the other hand, if people want to see what I’ve got now, I don’t want to make them wait a year.

    On the third hand, if I publish on-line, will that interfere with my ability to publish the book? Anyone here who has had a nonfiction science text published, please advise.

  26. 76

    At #60 – Kevin
    “Reality probably is that the interacting systems in our climate are better described with non-continuous functions and we have a few decades of research ahead of us to map them out.”

    I suspect, but have no means of knowing, that mapping the interactions of the major feedbacks will remain beyond us, given their burgeoning complexity and the strong random event influences.

    Consider first, that there are (at least) eight Major Interactive Feedbacks [MIFs] reported to be accelerating, being Water Vapour Increase, Ocean Heating & Acidification, Albedo Loss, Fertilized Peatbog Decay, Permafrost Melt, Forest Decline, Soil Desiccation, and Methyl Clathrates Melt. These are indirectly interactive after the oceans’ timelag on warming as the warming from each drives almost all others.

    They are also directly interactive via at least 80 ‘direct coupling mechanisms’ reported in the literature so far, by which a change in one MIF generates an immediate change in another – for example the loss of arctic sea-ice generating warmer air masses whose signature has been recorded in accelerated permafrost melt 1500kms inland. Logically these are not single events in that the change then knocks on to other MIFs, thus compounding the overall rate of change.

    The MIFs are also subject to both the major oscillations in the oceans’ conduct, and to the poleward migration of rainfall as AGW advances, and to the vagaries of climate destabilization as the NH Jetstream is disrupted by Arctic warming, and possibly also to the effects of Arctic ozone loss under its diverse pressures.

    From this perspective it appears impossible to construct a useful prediction system for any individual MIF, since all are effectively interdependent in their rate of acceleration, and all are subject to random marine and atmospheric influences. Neither does their rational treatment as a single organic system show much promise of a feasible prediction system given those random influences that are essentially beyond prediction.

    This is not at all seeking to discourage the research you suggest, but rather to point out that once the MIFs’ function as an interdependent whole with random drivers is acknowledged, the prospect of their reliable control by the conventional AGW mitigation strategy of Emissions-Control-only becomes an historic delusion. At that point science needs to make public the requirement of both the Carbon Recovery and Albedo Restoration modes of Geo-E as the pre-requisite complement to Emissions Control, without which commensurate mitigation of AGW appears plainly to be beyond us.


  27. 77
    Hank Roberts says:

    from A Gallery of Fluid Motion at


    This study uses laboratory experiments and direct numerical simulation to investigate the turbulent water movement beneath the ice–ocean interface.
    An ice–ocean interface is found for up to 7% of the ocean surface and is therefore one important component of the climate system. Heat and salt fluxes across this interface are of fundamental interest to properties of both of its constituents. On the one hand, temperature and salinity affect the density of water masses. In general, colder and more saline waters are less buoyant and will sink. In that way heat and salt fluxes across the ice–ocean interface can drive the thermohaline circulation of the ocean. On the other hand, they determine ablation and freezing processes of the ice on top and hence its thickness. Observation and model predictions do not agree on the rate of ablation and relative uncertainties are easily of order one. This indicates that the details of heat and salt exchange at the ice–ocean interface are not well understood. We want to improve the predictability of sea-ice behaviour by investigating the turbulent motion of the water beneath the ice.
    To do so, we study an idealised ice–water system in the laboratory and with simulations. Here we present and compare data obtained from both. Qualitative and quantitative agreement allows to investigate the underlying physical mechanisms via the detailed flow structure of the simulations. With that we improve our understanding of how increasing ocean temperatures influence the ice–ocean heat flux and the sea-ice melting. As a result one can incorporate it more realistically into climate models.

  28. 78
    Kevin says:

    I regret that your lack of confidence in me has left you either unable or unwilling to provide any additional journal articles to study further. I have to add that I really don’t appreciate your insulting my understanding of the matter and don’t understand how that adds anything to the discussion at all.

    For the record, I never once stated that model tuning was predominantly about tuning TOA energy, but merely that it WAS a very important part of it. That’s not MY personal misunderstanding of the subject, it is the stated reason in very nearly every journal article on the subject that I’ve read including Mauritsen’s and Golaz’s papers.

    As for what TOA energy is being tuned to or for, as you noted from Mauritsen’s work it’s too often ‘shrouded’ in mystery. The reasons that I’ve read so far included compensating for lost energy within climate models. They don’t explain in great detail the conditions but from the couple paragraphs it sounds likely to be rounding issues at boundaries or possibly even between grids that can cumulatively become a problem when running a long simulation. I’m not gonna bother with a paper reference, but if memory serve’s it’s Golaz’s paper that puts the size of that imbalance at something under 0.1W/m-2 annually. So pretty small in the grand scheme but problematic after 100+ years of simulation. Other reasons are alluded to, but not outright stated though obviously if I was in their shoes I’d be tuning runs during the years we have observations of TOA from ERBE and CERES and getting those years to at least be close to matching observations as well. I can hardly imagine anyone could justify not doing that simple a test and adjustment as well.

    At this point I really don’t care if I’ve past your bar for level of understanding or not to be worthy of access to the vaunted journals of knowledge that I may not be ready to partake of. If anybody else has additional articles I might be able to study further though I’d really appreciate it. I’ve exhausted most of what I can find on the matter searching with Google scholar and from following citation chains from those articles and from the IPCC citations. And yes, in particular I’m interested in ones that detail TOA energy more. Obviously my interest in TOA energy being due to it’s rather important role in climate change, as though that really had to be stated.

    I know that has probably come out long and ranty, I’ve been working a long day and coming back to the non-response that I did set me off. I’ll probably cool off in a couple hours.

  29. 79
  30. 80

    I finished my tutorial. If I post it on the web, would it interfere with later turning it into a textbook? Anyone here who has published science nonfiction, please advise.

  31. 81
    Dan says:

    Please forgive the self-promotion, but I’ve just published this review on how pests and pathogens of agricultural crops respond to climate change. It may be of interest…

  32. 82
    Hank Roberts says:

    Kevin, have asked at bloggers’ sites that are dedicated to discussing the subject you’re interested in? You might find them a better place to ask.

    Here’s one, from a brief ‘oogle including “parameterisation” in the search:

    That’s not a specific recommendation, I don’t know the subject. Just wondering if you can do better in posing the question you’re trying to ask.

  33. 83
  34. 84
    Thomas O'Reilly says:


    G7 leaders agree to phase out fossil fuel use by end of century

    A bit late for April 1st isn’t it? There isn’t a Full Moon either.
    Must be true then!

  35. 85
    David B. Benson says:

    Barton Paul Levenson @ 80 —The copyright is yours to do with what you will. Might want to check the current copyright law.

    David B. Benson

  36. 86
    Edward Greisch says:

    80 Bart: Pierrehumbert did that with “Principles of Planetary Climate.”

    “The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer. Free download from: Altemeyer didn’t bother to try to sell it.

    I tried to sell my book and it got nowhere.

    “Plentiful Energy, The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor” by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, 2011 Till & Chang got it published first, then put it on line for free.

    Or get a free book from:
    Blees put “Prescription for the Planet” on line for free and didn’t try to sell it.

    If you put it on line, I will download it and read it. If you publish it, I will try to get it from a library.

    I don’t know.

  37. 87
    Jim Larsen says:

    80 Barton PL asked about copyright.

    Copyrights are completely yours until you give/sell them to someone else or declare the work to be in the public domain. You can publish your work anywhere you want without risk to losing your copyright.

  38. 88
    Chuck Hughes says:


    At what point in the future would we start to see some real changes in weather patterns akin to what James Hansen described in his book, “Storms of My Grandchildren”?

    Have we already entered another “phase” of climate change in regards to weather patterns? I noticed that the hurricane hitting the Gulf of California is headed toward Nevada and further East so it looks like California isn’t going to benefit from this tropical storm.

    I am also wondering about the possibility of exponential ice melt in Antarctica as opposed to a more gradual disintegration. Which is more likely given what we’re observing at the moment?


  39. 89
    MA Rodger says:

    kevin @77.
    It is fair to say that the literature on model tuning, despite Mauritsen et al., remains poorly described. This is particularly true because the literature presented is not really aimed at the likes of you or me but for folk engaged more intimately in modle tuning. To get a useful appreciation of what is being said you (and me too) do need to dig deep. There is perhaps one account that is not written for climatologists that may be helpful, but even that requires more than just a quick read to grasp. IPCC AR4 Chapter 8 ‘Climate Models and their Evaluation’ is a very fustrating read in the one-section-per-page format of the AR4 on-line report. It would recommend instead this PDF version.
    And when you have read that through a couple of times, re-read the literature you’ve been at so far. it is not easy reading. I would suggest to you that this literature even requires interpreting by model tuners – so much of science is written up by folk who know what they are talking about but (and this is more true in areas that are little discussed like this one) are total novices at how to write it up.
    With this in mind, when you read in, say, Mauritsen et al. (2012) the likes of:-

    “Beyond that, we prioritize having globally averaged TOA shortwave absorption and outgoing longwave radiation in good agreement with satellite observations, along with a representation of important climate variability modes.”

    this is not talking of “tuning runs during the years we have observations of TOA from ERBE and CERES” in some temporal inter-annual sense but rather something that fits with their “highest priority” which is an equilibrium global mean temperature set to the 1850-1880 average.
    Perhaps I should explain my meta-view here. I get the impression with evey post you make (that is, there is not a single sign to suggest othewise, and that is a worry) that you are angling for the old ‘with enough variables anyone can get the elephant in the room to do the fandango – complete with castinets & guitar playing if that is what it takes’. Climate models do have lots and lots of variables but these tuning exercises are more about (and here is my difficulty as I only have the same access to the written accounts available to all) getting the elephant to stand still with its heart rate and breathing etc matching our knowledge of the pachyderm physiology. This is what Mauritsen et al. are trying to say with the words

    “That is not to say that climate models can be readily adapted to fit any dataset, but once aware of the data we will compare with model output and invariably make decisions in the model development on the basis of the results. Rather, our confidence in the results provided by climate models is gained through the development of a fundamental physical understanding of the basic processes that create climate change.”

    Tellingly this poorly delivered message is the parting shot of the paper.

  40. 90

    Actually, I know about copyright, although I’m grateful for the input. I was wondering whether putting it online would make it count as “previously published” in the eyes of textbook publishers. I guess I’ll just upload it, and if I can’t publish it, I’ll deal.

  41. 91
    Hank Roberts says:

    I get the impression … that you are angling for the old ‘with enough variables anyone can get the elephant …

    Searching for (and inquiring about) “parameterization” (or “parameterisation”) rather than “tuning” may be one way to avoid that impression. Compare search results both in ‘oogle and in Scholar (and in ‘oogle image search too). The word “tuning” is vaguer and more often accusatory outside of the journals.

  42. 92

    Thanks Mal Adapted for pointing that out #58

    Eric Rignot: Observations suggest that ice sheets and glaciers can change faster, sooner and in a stronger way than anticipated

  43. 93
    Killian says:

    New news is Old news.

    G7 CO2 Goal Too Little Too Late

  44. 94

    Yes, the G7 CO2 goal is too little, too late–maddeningly, absurdly, laughably, insultingly so.

    Politically, it is probably a step forward, as many analysts have said. Yet it is so gratuitously idiotic that I am unable to welcome it with any enthusiasm whatever.

  45. 95

    Okay, I uploaded the file. It’s in RTF format, and the URL is: Tutorial V2.rtf

    If the spaces are a problem, try %20% for each space. If it still doesn’t work, let me know, and I’ll upload a copy under a different name.

    The RTF format should be readable in any version of MS Word later than 97, and in most other word processors.

  46. 96

    My F series (fraction of Earth’s land in severe drought) is constrained to stay between 0 and 1 by definition. Is there a good regression model with this restrain? I thought of logistic regression, but apparently this wants a Y variable of either integer 0 or integer 1. Is there some way to constrain a continuous Y^ between 0 and 1? You statistics guys, please let me know.

  47. 97
    Greg Simpson says:

    The spaces aren’t a real problem, but it makes your file unclickable (at least for me). You should provide a real link, like RCM Tutoriat V2.rtf instead.

  48. 98
    Thomas says:

    I have done least squares fits to the LOG of data, rather than the data. That way negative values are never allowed. You can adjust the weights if you think that gives too high weight to small values. Something like a hyperbolic tangent function is useful, its output range of -1 to 1 can be mapped onto (0,1), and its inverse function would be similar to a log for values approaching the limits.

  49. 99
    sidd says:

    1) gives 404
    2) constrain y between 0 and 1 : y= (tanh(x))**2

  50. 100
    Mblanc says:

    Re 18, 27 and 64

    Wili is right, the stupid and irresponsible thing was directed at the source, not the poster.

    The derided source was this…

    Which is an example of a garbled ‘click-bait’ CC story written by a general journalist. Notice how the controversial link title becomes ‘More fatal earthquakes to come, geologists warn’, as soon as you reach the actual story.

    From my journalism training, I’m fully aware that sub-editors tend to write the headlines to stories, not the journalists themselves, but god knows who writes the link titles. Probably the office cat!

    Anyway, after some heated debate, I found at least one direct misquote in the story before I filed the story as trash.

    But in the spirit of Hanks link to fears of non-linear responses to AGW, I want to add something further.

    Of course, the main source used in this article is some crazy Brit with some crazy ideas, so fringe that no one else is saying them out loud, journalists love him!

    The idea is that we will probably see a geological response to CC, at some point. This idea is based on the extremely well established geological response at the end of the last glaciation. If it has happened before, it might well happen again, although all the evidence suggests it would be of a lesser magnitude, this time around.

    I know, I know, pure madness. Told you he was a crazy man!

    Sorry, did I say crazy man? What I meant say was Vulcanologist and Emeritus Professor of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at University College London, chair of a Royal Society conference on Climate Change and Geology (2009), member of the UK’s Natural Hazards Working Group (after Indian Ocean Tsunami 2005) and the Science Advisory Group in Emergencies (after Icelandic ash cloud 2010), contributing author on the 2011 IPCC Report on climate change and extreme events and writer of many academic and popular science titles on his chosen field. He is the UK’s goto man on catastrophes, wheeled out on TV after every event to give his rather unreassuring views.

    Here is a more nuanced piece on McGuire’s ideas, written by Fred Pearce, a well established journalist who regularly writes about the environment and a regular contributor to New Scientist magazine.

    I’ve read his latest book and it very calm and well referenced, and McGuire makes very clear when his views become more speculative. Essentially, he is doing a Hansen, taking the very latest work and advocating for more funding and monitoring, and above all… advocating addressing AGW without delay.

    One day, someone on RC will take me seriously on this, even if it takes me another 10 years before it happens.