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Unforced variations: July 2015

Filed under: — group @ 3 July 2015

This month’s open thread. How about a focus on cimate science this time? Data visualizations anyone?

273 Responses to “Unforced variations: July 2015”

  1. 251
  2. 252
    S.B. Ripman says:

    Right now the plan is every man and woman for themselves, for every single element of the problem. This is how the donors supporting the GOP want it: no funding for science so the scope of the problem can be understood, no funding for infrastructure improvements, and no funding for shifting away from fossil fuels.
    We each must do our own investigating of climate change. We each must find the safest places for our families as sea levels rise and temperatures get crazy. We each must individually do what our consciences demand in terms of changing our lives to derive our energy from renewable sources. If we can adapt we must do so individually.
    This helter-skelter approach is great if you’re one of the Koch Brothers hidden away in a gated community with big back-up diesel generators to keep the AC going on hot days. Not so great for the rest of us.
    So that’s the plan, as put forth by one of our nation’s two major political parties. Thin the human herd, eliminate the poor and uneducated and downtrodden, while protecting the core wealth of the 1% and allowing them and their families to prosper and proliferate.
    Ironic, isn’t it? Many in that party don’t believe in the theory of evolution, but the plan their elected leaders are implementing is a very vicious sort of social Darwinism.

  3. 253
    Susan Anderson says:

    Chuck Hughes:
    On how bad it can get and how many will survive, I found this 2009 prime time special put together by John Podesta in more hopeful days quite informative.

    One commenter mentioned the graphics were offputting, but the substance seemed to me quite valuable.

  4. 254
    Hank Roberts says:

    I’m happy to see that the Hansen manuscript is well on its way to being the most heavily-commented paper on ACPD, though predictably most of the comments seem to be from crazies. At least they are thereby distracted from commenting on my blog :-)
    — James Annan</blockquote

  5. 255
    Jim Baird says:

    Mike 201 – Sounding the alarm.

    What if Hansen et al. are actually underestimating the potential and speed of sea level rise?

    While Hansen suggests the ice sheets will be eroded from below, another current study, Amplified melt and flow of the Greenland ice sheet driven by late-summer cyclonic rainfall, by a team lead by Samuel Doyle of Aberystwyth University, says the melting of the Greenland ice sheet is being amplified by rainfall on the ice surface driven by late-summer cyclones. Since this too will produce the heat trapping and Thermohaline effects Hansen notes, including stronger storms that will in turn produce more late summer rainfall in Greenland, this doubly negative feedback would likely produce far greater and faster sea level rise than is currently anticipated?

    Hansen et al. seem to essentially be suggesting the oceans are experiencing a greenhouse effect of their own which in turn would have ramifications for waste heat and Hansen, and other’s call, for nuclear power as a global warming remedy.

    If the radiative potential for waste heat from sources like nuclear power into space is impaired by a blanket of cold fresh water then it probably shouldn’t be produced at all since it will primarily just increase the melting of the icecaps.

    From 1998 to 2012, the rate of atmospheric warming slowed from the 1984 to 1998 decadal average of 0.26 °C per decade to about 0.04 °C per decade, according to the last International Panel on Climate Change report. A new NASA study of ocean temperature measurements shows the heat wasn’t missing it was simply trapped in the waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans to a depth of about 300 meters. NASA found the Pacific Ocean is the primary source of the subsurface warming as unusually strong trade winds piled up warm water in the western Pacific, pinning it against Asia and Australia but these waters became so warm some of the heat leaked into the Indian Ocean.

    Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado says however that “There’s a good chance the hiatus is over.” Last year was the hottest since records began and with an El Niño now under way the warm surface waters of the Pacific are releasing heat into the atmosphere with the result 2015 is likely to break last year’s record and the global average surface temperature could jump by as much as 0.1 °C this year alone. This would bring global surface temperatures increases above 1°C relative to the average of the second half of the 19th century and half way towards the 2°C limit most governments have promised we will not pass.

    Hansen says that 2C global warming is highly dangerous and points to evidence from the paleoclimate record that shows that less than 1C previously precipitated sea level rise due to icecap melting of between 5 and 9 meters and extreme storms.

    In order to prevent such an outcome the hiatus should serve as the example. Warming heat moved away from the surface reduces atmospheric warming, can not melt polar ice nor drive storms.

    A heat pipe is a device that moves heat away from locations where it can do damage to somewhere benign. It does this with phase changes of a working fluid and energy can be produced by inserting a turbine into the vapor stream of such a device.

    This design would move warming heat to an ocean depth of 1000 meters from where, with an estimated return rate of 4 meters per year, it would take 250 years to return to the surface as opposed to the less than two decades the wind driven hiatus kept global warming at bay.

    If climate catastrophe is imminent, we should be prepared to address the problem regardless of the cost.

    That is the primal human response to existential threats but as was pointed out here heat pipe OTEC may be the renewable energy with the lowest levelized cost and therefore should be transitioned to on that basis alone.

    Cost it not the only reason however we should develop this approach, as my colleague Paul Curto, former chief technologist with NASA, points out, “using the ocean’s heat sink to dump the ocean surface heat may become one of the very few feasible methods to reverse global warming before all major species on earth become part of the sixth mass extinction.”

  6. 256
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Yet another strong argument for a “worst case scenario” analysis of our tenuous situation:

    The upshot is that, if ice melt proceeds as the new work suggests it actually might, the future is not pretty. It’s ugly.

    Definitely, there’s much about this paper that’s speculative. But it’s far from impossible. I believe that when it comes to the speculative but possible, it’s crucial for us to be aware of the worst-case scenarios and what they mean for the near future — the rest of this century. Hansen et al. have raised one possibility, and despite all the arguments of its implausibility there’s just as much evidence of its plausibility. The severity of it’s consequences, however, is not really in doubt. Which makes for a clear and frightening illustration of the principle that “uncertainty is not your friend.”

  7. 257
    Steinar Midtskogen says:

    BPL, you’re wrong and ridiculous, of course, for a very simple reason: People have been shouting “the end is nigh” for thousands of years whenever a collapse of humankind cannot be proven impossible (a hard thing to do anyway), but they’ve all been wrong and in hindsight ridiculed. These things don’t change.

  8. 258
    dave peters says:

    Help! I am on day #42 of a Grand Roll, looking at CA’s Central
    Valley, up close & too personal. I will append a letter I just offered to the reporter for Fresno’s Bee article of three back, naming a boy as cause of the recent Willow/Bass Lake fire. Meantime, I read long ago that the “Valley Floor” (75% lost since we first watched it from above via satellite, in 1979. Clearly toast for some thousands of years.

    Thank you for the courtesy of reading this.

    Cody McHubart

    Cc: CVCofAMR (distribution)

    (More from your Roverin Reporter in the Valley of near Death–7, soon; DP/CM)

  9. 259

    SM 257: BPL, you’re wrong and ridiculous

    BPL: Your mother wears Army boots.

    SM: of course, for a very simple reason: People have been shouting “the end is nigh” for thousands of years whenever a collapse of humankind cannot be proven impossible (a hard thing to do anyway), but they’ve all been wrong and in hindsight ridiculed. These things don’t change.

    BPL: You see no difference between a scientific prediction and religiously based numerology, I take it.

  10. 260
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Steinar Midtskogen’s cerebral flatulence @257 reminds me of the guy who jumped off of the Empire State Building and was heard at floor 50 saying, “So far, so good.”

  11. 261
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Are you saying that such techniques are probably going to kill off half of us? Or that we’ll simply die off gracefully without attempting to save ourselves?

    Enlighten me.

    Comment by Richard Caldwell — 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:41 AM

    Richard, I don’t think anyone has ever implied that humans will die off gracefully. Far from it. I think it will be sheer pandemonium if there’s a dramatic drop in population within the span of a few decades. This is where I would look at human nature i.e. “it won’t be me. It will be those people in…” (name your country/region)

    “As long as someone else is doing the dying and suffering that’s okay.” How worried is anyone in the United States about Sau Palo? “They’re already living in shacks side by side. Who’s gonna miss em? That’s just more for everybody else.” – I think that’s the attitude that those who are better off will take, at least for a while. Of course we’re looking at a spiraling corkscrew of unmitigated disasters which will eventually affect everyone. On the bright side, maybe Yellowstone will erupt in time to stave off the worst effects, if geoengineering is what you’re after.

    It all sounds so cynical that I can’t believe that’s where we are in human ‘progress’. This again, is why I think it would be a great idea for those who KNOW or have a gut feeling, based on current data and knowledge to more or less guide the thinking and planning for such an eventuality. I’m NOT suggesting setting policy, but laying out some sort of long term plan… just in case.

  12. 262
    MartinJB says:

    Hi BPL, you’ve mentioned your forecast for global collapse several times. Would you consider posting a link to the paper? I don’t see it on your web site, and it’s hard to interpret your forecast without seeing what factors were included in the analysis. Thanks!

  13. 263
    Mal Adapted says:

    Steinar Midtskogen:

    BPL, you’re wrong and ridiculous, of course, for a very simple reason: People have been shouting “the end is nigh” for thousands of years whenever a collapse of humankind cannot be proven impossible (a hard thing to do anyway), but they’ve all been wrong and in hindsight ridiculed. These things don’t change.

    Well, Steinar, it’s true that past predictions of a “collapse” of humankind have been wrong, although I wonder what Native Americans who witnessed the mass die-off of their people from Eurasian diseases would have called it. Regardless, just because it hasn’t happened yet has no bearing on whether it might still happen. What’s changed is the mean global surface temperature, now likely higher than at any time in recorded history, and getting higher year after year. Modern alarm is informed not by hepatomancy but by science, and science makes it clear that we are in a uniquely hazardous time.

  14. 264
    Edward Greisch says:

    249 Lawrence Coleman: Human exceptionalism is nonsense. We can go extinct just like any other species.

  15. 265
    Chuck Hughes says:

    People have been shouting “the end is nigh” for thousands of years whenever a collapse of humankind cannot be proven impossible (a hard thing to do anyway), but they’ve all been wrong and in hindsight ridiculed. These things don’t change.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 1 Aug 2015

    Yeah, religious zealots and crackpots have been saying it for years. Sadly you’re unable to tell the difference between science and myth.

  16. 266

    “Antarctic ice albedo is increasing in line with the growing winter sea ice area.”

    – See more at:

    Don’t forget–not a whole lot of sun in the Antarctic winter…

  17. 267

    #257–Steinar, you’re not seriously suggesting that because some people were wrong about ‘doomsday’ in the past, therefore no one can ever be right about it in the future, are you?

    Remember, ‘past performance is not a guarantee of future results.’

  18. 268
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    257 Steinar. I for one would be overjoyed to be proven wrong, I’ve got a 9 y/o son and I would love for a better world for him than this one. However I’m also a lay Buddhist who tends to naturally see things as they are. I’ve been studying climate change for around 16 years and have seen how it’s been progressing and now quite rapidly escalating over the past 5-10 years. Climate change at this speed and inertia did not happen thousands of years ago as you stated. We were in a very stable climatic system for many thousands of years and indeed that is what gave rise to the great civilisations as we know them. We have now liberated most of the ancient sequestered CO2 and carbon deposits over the past say 3-5 million years into the atmosphere in only the last 200 years or so. As you can see this time around the game is completely different on so many levels. What was true in the past in obviously different today.
    Come back to RC regularly Steinar and in you’re truly interested learn about it from the experts like Gavin and Eric.

  19. 269
    Digby Scorgie says:

    247. Lawrence Coleman

    In 1970 there was not the slightest sign of any contamination of the environment near our base, by soot or anything else. It really seemed absolutely pristine.

    As an aside I might mention that our ice-strengthened polar research vessel took just 24 hours to break through the pack-ice to get to the edge of the ice shelf. By contrast, the ship had some difficulty penetrating the pack in earlier years, although this might have been a result of arriving too early in the season.

    I returned to Antarctica on a cruise ship in 1983. We visited the Antarctic Peninsula and then sailed around to visit McMurdo, before cruising up the coast to Cape Hallett and on to New Zealand. In all this time I was extremely surprised to see that there was very little pack ice in evidence. I wonder if this was not already an indication of a warming of the continent — but before the present era of an increased area of sea-ice arising from the ice lost from the interior ice sheet.

  20. 270
    Richard Caldwell says:

    257 Steinar said, “People have been shouting “the end is nigh” for thousands of years whenever a collapse of humankind cannot be proven impossible (a hard thing to do anyway), but they’ve all been wrong and in hindsight ridiculed. These things don’t change.”

    There will be winners and losers as reasonable weather migrates. Plus, what will Arabs and Iranians eat when oil is no longer used with abandon?

    We’ll fight and sue about it, but within a few years we’ll come to our senses and brake hard. Personally, I doubt we’ll avoid going off the climate cliff. Fortunately, we’ve got a massive ability to grow food, and I would hope that we’d go to a more plant-based diet and switch from beef to chicken or pork to prevent a billion deaths.

    And we’ve always got the planetary chemotherapy of geo-engineering. That’ll endanger the ozone layer, reduce photosynthesis, and whiten the sky, but I’ve read that it will probably reduce the weather disruptions from our current carbon geo-engineering experiment.

    I also think that there’s a good chance that we’ve already broken the climate and large amounts of carbon will start leaking into the atmosphere. We risk delaying non-carbon geo-engineering so long that we’ll need massive doses done without prior adequate research just to prevent total catastrophe. What happens to the Arctic’s carbon when the sea ice disappears, thus increasing water vapor and so also the insulating value of the air?

    Regardless, research is the only reasonable current path. It would surely teach us a lot about the climate, so even if we never use non-carbon geo-engineering the knowledge will be useful.

    Of course, non-carbon geo-engineering would be a grand new thing to fight about. Different doses and locations and timings would benefit/harm different regions. Plus, many folks will be less motivated to cut emissions if non-carbon geo-engineering becomes viewed as a possibility.

  21. 271
    Killian says:

    Watching ASI thickness? Going through the floor. Crazy. Virtually no 4 and 5-meter thick ice remains. This El Nino is not going to help, and, as I noted some time ago in a post, ASI lows correlate strongly with EN’s, so if we don’t hit new lows this year, I’ll be very, very surprised if we don’t next year or the year after.

    According to the Charctic ASI extent graph, extent is tracking 2010 and 2013 at the moment.

    With the overall quality of the ice just a mess, feeling pretty good about the low this year challenging 2007 and/or 2011. If either stands next year, I’ll eat my hat. For this season, as ever, if the AO stays negative and export remains steady to strong, 2007 and ’11 are in a fight.

    Potentially 6 weeks left and the ice virtually everywhere is looking terrible! Virtually all of it shows individual flows, which is not what has been in the past.

    Check out the current ASI here:,MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor,Reference_Labels%28hidden%29,Reference_Features%28hidden%29,Coastlines&t=2015-08-02&v=

  22. 272
    Tom Dayton says:

    Is there a CMIP-5 model output dataset that is narrowly targeted at layers of troposphere above “surface,” against which the RSS and UAH variety of indices properly should be compared?

  23. 273
    dave peters says:

    All – Please forgive that @ 258. Working a “new” old Dell I bot in Bozeman. I am on day #43 of an extnded Roll to See the CA Central Valley.

    The Warming has ARRIVED. The “signal” of AGW is DEATH! Dead Wallnut trees in Yolo County, on the land (3 & 1.2 acre) of a man too small a fish to get H2O. On much of the Roll south from Sacto to Fresno, things a thappear OK. Butt is an illusion, & quite temporary.

    From my end, I thot the initial post (# 258) DID not post.

    My second, a copy of a letter I wrote to the Fresno Bee defending a small boy, who started a big fire, I thot did post. I does not show. Authoorities did not charge the boy, but I do not know that I helped. We all created an environment which now turns a child’s explorations with lighters, into a scene where he’s all but wading in kerosene. The Bass Lake blaze was OK today, but one man I talked to said it looked like an atom bomb going off. The local fire Pubah in Fresno suburb, Clovis, said flames only “350 feet” up, but others say > 500 feet.

    Like the moment when Steve Jobs saw the GUI for the first time, I have seen the long awaited “Signal,” just 1,300 feet above the Valley floor. Where there is no manic drilling (read: pore collapse & CV aquifer massive destruction), and no canals. So, there is JUST DEATH EVERYWHERE. I would fear for the local Sequoias, but, a few back, they got > 4 inches of rain in July–a freaky thing, since Europeans have kept notes. The long debate is finally over. Cody.