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Unforced variations: Aug 2015

Filed under: — group @ 3 August 2015

This month’s open thread. A traditional time to discuss the Arctic sea ice minimum. But NH summer heatwaves, and to be fair, snow in the southern hemisphere, are also fair game…

282 Responses to “Unforced variations: Aug 2015”

  1. 51

    “If he believes… we are “likely entering a (human-induced) mass extinction event” not resulting from AGW, I suggest he re-examines his evidence.”

    – See more at:

    I’m picking on the more likely of the two assertions only here, as I regard the proposition that “ASGW is just weather” as indefensible.

    But there’s actually pretty good evidence that human effects *other than* AGW are already driving the ‘sixth extinction’–the massive destruction and fragmentation of habitat; the witting and unwitting introduction of exotic species around the world, a proportion of which inevitably prove invasive; and the over-exploitation of various species with respect to their reproductive potentials seems already to account for a large proportion of the species loss we are seeing (or, quite often, *not* seeing, even though it is happening). AGW and ocean acidification of course are highly non-negligible in this melancholy scenario, but mitigating them will not be sufficient to solve the extinction crisis.

    See, for instance, the Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer-winning “The Sixth Extinction.”

  2. 52
    Bill Henderson says:

    Chuck: here’s a perspective on Obama’s Clean Power Plan (and Clinton’s renewable initiative):

    Do we need a plan for a slow transition to renewables or a plan to get off fossil fuels? Building renewable capacity is not emission reduction if there is no regulated reduction of fossil fuels. Rules for power generation that do not include regulated reduction of fossil fuels just displace fossil fuel use to other jurisdictions.

  3. 53
    FP says:

    Hank Roberts , By dense, I mean that it holds more heat at the same temperature. Doesn’t humid air hold more heat at the same temperature? It sure feels that way.. And your link states: “humidity is related to engine power” hence “…add 10 percent to your computed takeoff
    distance and anticipate a reduced climb rate”… My questions stands, Global warming is adding more humidity to the Air, so is there more heat energy (Enthalpy) in the air at the same temperature?

    I also have another question. When Glaciers melt and add fresh water to the ocean, won’t the ocean freeze at higher temperatures due to reduced salinity? Is there a potential for more sea ice due to melting? Has anyone recorded salinity levels of Sea Ice and the changes salinity over time?

  4. 54
    Mike Woodcock says:

    R4 prog today [Quentin Letts ” What’s the point of the Met Office”] used highly selective partial and unsubstantiated “evidence”.
    A political hatchet job masquerading as thoughtful comment.

  5. 55

    RC quoted at 50: If in a few years we collectively see that our initial plan is inadequate, we’ll simply change our path.

    BPL: What makes you think that?

  6. 56

    FP 53,

    The heat content of air in Joules is

    H = m cp T

    where m is mass in kg, cp specific heat capacity at constant pressure (J/kg/K), and T absolute temperature. cp for dry air is about 1004 and for water vapor about 1930. The mass of the atmosphere is 5.148 x 10^18 kg (Trenberth 2005), of which 1.27 x 10^16 kg is water vapor.

    The numerical answer is left as an exercise for the student.

  7. 57
    Omega Centauri says:

    “When Glaciers melt and add fresh water to the ocean, won’t the ocean freeze at higher temperatures due to reduced salinity?”
    If the glacially derived fresh water were well mixed with the global ocean the effect would be very small. Locally it can make a difference. What we’ve been seeing is that fresh water is less dense than salt water, so it tends to float on top. The biggest effect is that
    dense fresh water on top of salt water is very stable and reduces convection/advection. This is one reason the Antarctic winter sea ice has been increasing (the flow of heat upwards to the surface is suppressed).
    Other concerns are for ocean currents, which are driven by a combination of wind stresses on the surface, and density differences in the water. Density differences are due to temperature differences, and salinity differences. So an increase in fresh water will have an effect on the wider circulation of the oceans.

  8. 58
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by FP — 5 Aug 2015 @ 3:27 PM, ~#53

    Water evaporated from the earth’s surface and plants (transpiration) results in cooling with the extra energy required for the water-gas phase change, sort of, stored in the resulting water vapor. If you have experienced an evaporative cooler (swamp cooler) you experience cooler but more humid air. Water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas and results in more warming of the surface. As the vapor rises into the upper atmosphere the lapse rate with altitude results in the vapor condensing into water in clouds and rain, and the latent heat from the phase change, is released a sensible heat. This and questions about salinity are very well studied by the science and included in models (where appropriate).

    You can learn more about these topics by searching this site. I suggest you search (upper right) for “latent heat” where you will find a lot of articles about the ocean because most water vapor is derived there but there are some more general articles as well. Also check out “start here” (upper left). I am continuing to learn from these sources.


  9. 59
    FP says:

    Barton, The mass of the atmosphere increases with heat… ?

    “The paper “The Mass of the Atmosphere: A Constraint on Global Analyses” from Trenberth & Smith (2004) contains a detailed analysis of the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere. They note that the mean mass m can be derived from the mean surface pressure ps with the formula
    with m in kg and ps in hecto-Pascals (the pressure is not measured at sea level, but at a mean altitude of 232 m). Using satellite data, they find that the mean surface pressure in the period 1979-2001 is ps=985.5 hPa, so that
    The mass of the atmosphere does fluctuate. The largest fluctuation is seasonal: the mean pressure changes from 985.41 hPa in January to 985.64 hPa in Augst. In other words, Δps=0.23 hPa, so that
    The reason for this seasonal variation is almost entirely due to a change in water vapour. The authors find that the mean pressure of dry air is pd=983.05 hPa and the mean pressure of water vapour is pw=2.44 hPa, and pw varies between 2.33 hPa in January to 2.62 hPa in July, so Δpw=0.29 hPa. It seems that the dry air pressure also varies slightly, but apparently it isn’t clear if this effect is real or due to measurement error. If pd is actually constant, then the change in mass due to water vapour change would be
    The reason that the water vapour pressure is higher in July-August and lower in December-January is that the Northern Hemisphere has more landmass than the Southern Hemisphere, which leads to higher temperatures in Northern summer compared to Southern summer, which in turn leads to more moisture in the atmosphere during Northern summer.

    There are also long-term effects. The water vapour content is higher during El Niño events and lower during La Niña events. These effects are of the order of 0.1 hPa, equivalent to 0.5×1015 kg. Apparently there was also a slight decrease after the Mount Pinatubo eruption. And there is also evidence that the amount of water vapour is also slowly increasing due to global warming.

    The effect of changes in CO2 is complicated but very small. The burning of fossil fuels does not just add carbon dioxide, it also removes oxygen. Taking into account the interactions with the oceans and the biosphere, the net change in surface pressure is of the order of 0.01 hPa (and, according to the authors, most likely a net loss instead of a net gain), too small to measure. The effects of mass gain due to meteors and mass loss of hydrogen and helium are even smaller.”

  10. 60
    FP says:

    Barton, not sure if I was specific enough, my point is that humidity changes the mass of the atmosphere which you seemed to assume as a constant…

    “The mass of the atmosphere does fluctuate. The largest fluctuation is seasonal: the mean pressure changes from 985.41 hPa in January to 985.64 hPa in Augst. In other words, Δps=0.23 hPa, so that
    The reason for this seasonal variation is almost entirely due to a change in water vapour.”

  11. 61
    Digby Scorgie says:

    It might be traditional at this time of year to discuss the state of the Arctic sea ice, but when the year in question is the occasion of a significant IPCC conference, I suggest that the latter deserves attention too!

    The Schwerpunkt for climate action

    With the Paris conference imminent, I’ve been pondering the Schwerpunkt for climate action. For those who are not military buffs, Schwerpunkt (not schwerpunkt) is a German military term meaning “point of main effort”. From all that I’ve read it seems clear that the Schwerpunkt for climate action is the need somehow to cause the burning of fossil fuel to decrease systematically to zero (or near zero) over a certain period. How to achieve this should surely be the “point of main effort” at Paris therefore.

    An apology

    At this point I need to interpolate an apology. What commenced as a comment has ended as an essay. Also, in one sense it has nothing to do with climate science, although in another sense it has everything to do with climate science. Owing to the gravity of the topic, however, I beg the indulgence of the moderators.

    Pledges to date

    People have been pledging to reduce emissions, including fossil-fuel emissions, for two decades. I have no faith in these pledges. If any have been transformed into concrete action anywhere, they’ve had risible effect on the Keeling curve; the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide continues its inexorable rise.

    Failure to date

    I’m not surprised at our ineffectual efforts. Instead of concentrating on the Schwerpunkt — fossil fuel — our attention is dissipated by consideration of a host of secondary problems, important but still secondary. Furthermore, even when attention is paid to fossil fuel, the focus is almost exclusively on the burning thereof, with scant thought, if any, given to placing restrictions on production.

    Our fatal addiction

    The problem is that any fossil fuel that is produced will inevitably be burnt. We are addicted to the stuff. So trying to induce us to burn less in the face of a plentiful supply (for the immediate future at any rate) is an exercise in futility. This is putting the cart before the horse. It’s time we switched things around.

    A switch in philosophy

    It has apparently escaped attention that, in order to burn fossil fuel, it is necessary first to produce it. If we really want to burn less, we simply have to produce less. I submit therefore that at the Paris conference attention should not only concentrate on fossil fuel but should also switch from burning to production. Such a switch amounts to a radical change in philosophy — a switch from indirect methods (trying to induce us to burn less) to direct methods (requiring producers to produce less). To see how this would work in practice we need to turn to the question of carbon budgets.

    Carbon budgets

    Readers at this site should be familiar with the concept of our carbon budget, which determines the remaining amount of fossil fuel we can burn and still avert the worst effects of climate change. It is a concept that arises from climate science and also underpins the requirement for systematically reducing fossil-fuel use. The magnitude of our carbon budget is uncertain, but one thing is clear: it allows us to burn only a fraction of our existing reserves of fossil fuel. Therefore, part one of the solution to the fossil-fuel problem is obvious: the search for new sources of fossil fuel must cease immediately. If we can’t burn all our existing reserves, it’s pointless searching for more.

    Determining the budget

    We still have to determine the magnitude of our carbon budget and thence the rate at which we need to cut fossil-fuel production. At one time the budget was supposed to be of a magnitude that allowed us to avoid two degrees of warming (equivalent to dangerous climate change). However, as I understand the situation, and especially after viewing Kevin Anderson’s 2012 lecture at the Cabot Institute, there is no way we can avoid exceeding two degrees. Instead we need now to bend all our efforts on avoiding four degrees (equivalent to catastrophic climate change). Not being a climate scientist, I’m going to sidestep the problem of determining the budget.

    Carbon budgets for rich and poor

    I shall equate declining fossil-fuel production (and hence the burning of fossil fuel) with the decarbonization of the global economy. To be fair, however, the developing countries, which did little to cause the problem, should have more time to decarbonize than developed countries. Drawing heavily on Anderson’s lecture, I deduce that — to keep it simple — developed countries have about 20 years to decarbonize and developing countries about 40 years. I’ll assume, again for simplicity, that fossil-fuel use or production or both declines linearly. Then decarbonization implies a cut every year of an amount equal to 5% of current production for developed and 2.5% for developing countries. (I’ll leave aside the problem of matching producers to consumers.) Finally, I assume that this rate of decarbonization allows us to avoid four degrees of warming.

    The Schwerpunkt of the Schwerpunkt

    To summarize, my proposed agenda for the Paris conference is twofold: First, ensure that all explorations for new sources of fossil fuel are terminated immediately. Second, require all fossil-fuel producers to reduce production systematically so as to achieve the above decarbonization aims. This cuts straight to the heart of the matter — the Schwerpunkt of the Schwerpunkt. It absolutely guarantees that fossil fuel will be burnt in ever-decreasing amounts over a period that still allows the free market time to find and make the transition to alternatives.

    Example of implementation

    To give an example, the consequences for a country such as New Zealand (where I happen to live) are as follows: All permits to search for oil and gas both offshore and onshore are cancelled. Fracking plans are scrapped. Production from our coal mines and gas fields is systematically reduced by a fixed amount each year until all production ceases in 20 years. Imports of oil and petrol are similarly reduced over the same period; after 20 years all such imports cease completely.

    A rock and a hard place

    It was only in the last week or so that all the elements of the foregoing analysis came together in my mind. Even as the author, the final scenario above was something of a shock. It spells a considerable disruption in my own life and, if all other countries are decarbonizing in a similar way, it spells a massive disruption in our global civilization. Although I feel strongly that regulating fossil-fuel production is the only measure that will work, the time frames are so short that I cannot foresee any other fate for the idea than outright dismissal as a crackpot notion. Yet, for the life of me, I can see no viable alternative for effective climate action. We are truly stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

  12. 62
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Kevin and Chuck,

    Yes, it’s a baby step, and one taken via a “sneaky trick”. I meant my caveat strongly: “if we collectively decide”, and I gave a specific incident which would likely cause a significant shift – if the current El Nino builds as expected. Given this year’s loss of multi-year sea ice, a strong El Nino could cause a catastrophic loss of 2016 September ice. Couple that with extreme heat, and voters in the US will vote with their fear. Remember how Republicans all shifted en-mass from yesterday’s “It’s a hoax” to today’s “I’m ignorant and plan to stay that way”? (Sorry, I paraphrased “I’m not a scientist”) Soon they’ll shift to, “It was impossible to know before now”. We’ve got 17 years of pent-up heat waiting to explode. So much depends on the weather.

    47 BPL said, “RC 37: California had a total failure drought-wise, but their agricultural output didn’t crash.

    BPL: Where did the water for their agricultural output come from?”

    Some was local, some was imported, and the rest was pumped unsustainably. Simply charging farmers the actual cost of water would more than solve California’s water shortage. (At least for now)

    We can build dams, canals and pipelines. We can switch to less-thirsty crops. We can increase the efficiency of our irrigation systems. We don’t have to sit and do nothing to adapt to the new reality we’re creating via carbon geo-engineering.

    Remember, the arctic has a lot of potential prime farmland. Perhaps the USA and Australia will falter and Siberia will feed the world instead. Remember, we’re on the cusp of nearly fully robotic agriculture. Converting a dead ecosystem to farmland will be easier because of the lack of inhabitants. Of course, moving the world’s agricultural industry will be expensive and take time. People will starve and prices will spike, but your scenario is highly unlikely. Something one or two steps down, say half a billion die and half the world’s children become mental cripples through malnutrition, that I could believe.

  13. 63
    Thomas O'Reilly says:

    (in hindsight, a day late, and a dollar short)

    Global Warming and Climate Change – What Australia knew and buried…then framed a new reality for the public by Maria Taylor 2014

    1988: coming to grips with a terrifying global experiment
    The Toronto conference statement made it clear that climate change would affect everyone. It called greenhouse gas atmospheric pollution an ‘uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to nuclear war’. World governments were urged to swiftly develop emission reduction targets (The changing atmosphere: implications for global security, 1988).

    Relevant to both Australian and overseas audiences, here is the untold story of how Australia buried its knowledge on climate change science and response options during the 1990s — going from clarity to confusion and doubt after arguably leading the world in citizen understanding and a political will to act in the late 1980s.

    Around 2007, Taylor was asking herself that question. How did the corporate interest replace the public interest? How did climate science become “controversial” in the eyes of the public?

    Taylor, who is a journalist and newspaper publisher, wanted to know how Australians were “persuaded to doubt what they knew”.

    From the late 1980s industry and climate contrarians got to work to REFRAME the issue from the science to the economics.

    She reviewed hundreds of newspaper articles and government reports for a PhD thesis and now a book, called Global Warming and Climate Change: What Australia Knew and Buried … Then Framed a New Reality for the Public”.

    Taylor also interviewed about a dozen key insiders, including scientists, advisers, politicians and journalists. She says the fact that Australia was ready and willing to act 25 years ago has itself been a forgotten story.

    Almost no one that I spoke to remembered the 1990 emissions reduction target. Even people like [former energy minister] John Kerin, who co-signed it!

    In the book Taylor explains how from the late 1980s industry groups, free market advocates and climate contrarians got to work to reframe the issue from the science to the economics.

    By 1996 much of the damage was done. The advent of John Howard’s government ensured there would be no more genuine progress.

    Taylor charts how opponents helped reposition environment groups as being anti-jobs and against the national interest. The book documents how climate science deniers were promoted by “free market” thinktanks to push uncertainty instead of risk.

    She explains the shift to policies driven by “economic rationalism” meant that imposing regulations on polluting industries became close to impossible.

    Commenting on the policy announced this week by the US president, Barack Obama, to regulate greenhouse gases from the energy sector, Taylor says:
    In this country, regulation has become a dirty word. This book gives us a sense of why there are now barriers to us going the same way [as President Obama].

  14. 64
    Karen Street says:

    How does 20th century average temperature compare to preindustrial or 1861 or etc used by IPCC? NOAA in sotc compares today’s temperatures to 20th century averages.

  15. 65
    Karen Street says:

    NOAA in sotc compares temperatures today to 20th century averages. How does that compare to preindustrial, or 1861, of 2nd half of the 19th century (all of which I assume are more or less the same)?

  16. 66
    Karen Street says:

    NOAA in sotc compares temperatures today to 20th century averages. How do those compare to 1861, or pre-industrial, or 2nd half of the 19th century, all of which I assume are about the same?

  17. 67

    RC 61: Some was local, some was imported, and the rest was pumped unsustainably. Simply charging farmers the actual cost of water would more than solve California’s water shortage. (At least for now) . . . We can build dams, canals and pipelines. We can switch to less-thirsty crops. We can increase the efficiency of our irrigation systems. We don’t have to sit and do nothing to adapt to the new reality we’re creating via carbon geo-engineering.

    BPL: Yes, we can do all kinds of nice things. What makes you think we will?

    FP, I’m well aware that water vapor mass in the atmosphere changes seasonally. I was giving you averages and the basic equation you needed. Your question was whether more water vapor in the atmosphere means more heat in the atmosphere. Do the math!

  18. 68
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Comment by Richard Caldwell — 6 Aug 2015

    I appreciate your optimism very much and I agree that a lot is being done and a lot more will be done but the numbers are against us right now. When people talk about reducing CO2 by 2030 or any other future date I have to laugh. The laws of Physics are NOT going to bargain with us over a future date for reducing CO2. We’re well past any sort of deal making with nature. I foresee a lot of desperate attempts being made as things spiral out of control but that’s not going to stop 70′ of Sea Level Rise. We don’t have to just cut back on CO2…. we have to figure out a way to go carbon negative and REDUCE what we’ve already put into the atmosphere. Geo engineering my A–!

    There will be a population drop and a fairly dramatic one. I don’t know when but it’s coming. Putting a date or number of people down on paper is arbitrary. It’s going to happen. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to try to fix things but it’s time for a dose of reality. Europe is already being hit with immigrants from Northern Africa by the boat loads. One the news yesterday. Many drown on their way. Others make it and have nowhere to go. Play that process out over the next decade in your head. Ultimately, what’s going to happen to these people? The poor will be the first to go.

    Keep trying and keep thinking about the problem and coming up with solutions, by all means, but the reality is looking grim. If ANY of the GOP candidates should become President… 2C is baked in right now. Shell Oil is predicting 4C or higher.

  19. 69

    “Remember, the arctic has a lot of potential prime farmland.”

    – See more at:

    No, it doesn’t, not if ‘potential’ refers to less than multi-generational timescales. The northern portions of both American and Eurasian continents have been heavily glaciated, repeatedly, for the Quarternary period (ie., most of the last 2.6 million years).

    Good topsoil is accordingly rather rare in the region. It can be generated, and humans can certainly speed the process (sequestering carbon in the process, thank goodness), but it takes quite a lot of time. As an instance, farming in Greenland is ticking up now, but it won’t ‘explode’ as rich loam magically appears from under disappearing glaciers. What’s down there runs more to rock flour than humus.

  20. 70
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Digby Scorgie @60, I appreciate your analysis. A few years back I posted here “Stop burning carbon! Leave it in the ground.” We need stronger language than the sleep-inducing “mitigation.”

    I hope that soon no new fossil energy plants will be permitted, or else new ones and old ones alike must have very effective CO2 scrubbing at the smokestack. That is still not entirely effective at an affordable price is it?

    But there is much more to it than just not burning carbon.
    1) First look at this cheerful article (diary) on electrifying transportation. Implication: much new electrical generating capacity will be needed.

    2) Check this article on new Terawatt-hours of capacity needed each year to decarbonize the USA by 2050. In fact all here might be interested.

    Thomas O’Reilly 62, thanks for that news!

  21. 71
    Mike says:

    Can we talk about the quality and mass of the ice in addition to talking about the extent of sea ice?

    This sounds like even though we might not yet be in record territory for small extent, we might be seeing a change in the quality of the ice, the amount of multi-year ice, the thickness and mass of sea ice cover.


  22. 72
    Richard Caldwell says:

    68 Kevin mentioned topsoil.

    You have some good points. Topsoil takes thousands of years to develop and can be scraped off by glaciers. As a result, topsoil is rare and thin in Canada, but plentiful in Siberia, where glaciation never occurred. Siberia is huge, almost as large as the US and Australia combined. For the USA, the question is provincial – do we want to lose our status as world-class farmers and let the Russians win?

    67 Chuck,

    Thanks, but please don’t miss my rather dismal outlook. I said that our current path has a good chance of turning half of our children into literal morons. That seems like catastrophe to me. Perhaps your conclusion about me is because I’m a true believer in the “airline pilot theory”. If one listens to the “black box” recordings of a crash by an excellent flight crew, you’ll hear calm and professional folks doing their jobs as if nothing was wrong right up until the moment of impact. We’re going to hit the mountain. The most likely result is that hundreds of millions will die and billions will have their brains destroyed. I’m ever so glad I’m an optimist!

    We’ll do “nice things” out of self-interest. Rich folks increase their wealth via the survival of the poor. Yep, the goal is to make the poor as destitute as possible without killing them (though via the opposite frame – that the rich gather as much as they can, UNINTENTIONALLY resulting in the poor becoming more destitute), but survival of the poor is necessary for the rich to become richer.

  23. 73
    MA Rodger says:

    Karen Street @63&64&65.
    The global average temperatures 1880-99 were about 0.2ºC below the 20th Century averages (GISS 0.20ºC, NOAA 0.19ºC, HadCRUT 0.23ºC) which were a little lower than the mid-19th Century (HadCRUT gives (1850-79) as 0.20ºC below the 20th Century average).
    Pre-industrial is often taken as meaning 1750 which pre-dates global instrument temperature records. IPCC AR4 took pre-industrial to be 0.5ºC below the 1980-99 average which for the different temperature records gives a temperature of 0.15ºC to 0.20ºC below 20th Century averages.
    (Note – This is all from a quick trawl across a spreadsheet so don’t take the numbers a gospel.)

  24. 74

    RC 69: survival of the poor is necessary for the rich to become richer.

    BPL: Do the rich know that?

  25. 75
    Aaron Lewis says:

    re 69
    There are places in the Arctic where there are humic soils, they are too acid for most crops – and as they are farmed they will oxidize (into CO2) much more quickly than they would if left undisturbed.

  26. 76
    Chuck Hughes says:

    “Thanks, but please don’t miss my rather dismal outlook. I said that our current path has a good chance of turning half of our children into literal morons.~ RC

    I think we have that now. It’s called the “two-party system.”

  27. 77
    Karen Street says:

    70 MA Rodger thanks!

  28. 78
    Karen Street says:

    re 73 MA Rodger The baseline given in graphs on NOAA pages like is the 20th century average, then?

  29. 79
    Richard Caldwell says:

    74 BPL said, “RC 69: survival of the poor is necessary for the rich to become richer.

    BPL: Do the rich know that?”

    LOL. I’m wrong, of course. As robotics takes off, the poor will become less useful. Ten years from now your local McDonald’s might have ten employees. A more happy viewpoint is that as robotics takes off, we can decide to all be rich, as long as we continue to lower our birthrates. This planet would probably be a rather happy place for a billion people a thousand years from now, assuming we’re fairly successful in building new ecosystems in places where the old ones died.

  30. 80
    Chuck Hughes says:

    As an instance, farming in Greenland is ticking up now, but it won’t ‘explode’ as rich loam magically appears from under disappearing glaciers. What’s down there runs more to rock flour than humus.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 6 Aug 2015

    Also, wouldn’t there be a pretty big problem with the availability of sunlight? I haven’t been to Siberia but the Northern latitudes tend to stay dark for about half the year if I’m not mistaken. I guess you could grow mushrooms in the Winter maybe. It would also still be relatively cold when there is enough sunlight. Of course that’s just a guess on my part.

  31. 81
    Chuck Hughes says:

    So who all thinks Russia is worried about Climate Change? How many other countries have already laid claim to the Arctic for drilling?

    “Foreign ministry says it has submitted bid to UN for more than 463,000 sq miles of sea shelf as competition for oil and gas resources heats up…”

  32. 82
    Steinar Midtskogen says:

    SecularAnimist @25: No, I did clearly specify what I meant by “such statements” in case it was unclear: 3.5 billion dying in a decade 25 years from now, and that the world population could be 280 million in 2100.

    Yes, I dismiss those claims as a result of climate change at face value. And for that several here think that I’m in a state of denial or have a mental illness. Perhaps members of Heaven’s Gate had similar ideas of other people, too.

    It’s difficult to have a scientific discussion with people making extreme claims, so it might be better to ask them try to listen to themselves, and ask whether people who’ve made similarly extreme claims have ever been right.

    Is my dismissal at face value denial? Or is it just an extremely safe bet. “Face value” must mean that there is some judgement involved. Or we’re all deniers. For instance, meteorites hit the earth every day, but nearly all are small so if I stay in my basement and never go out, I will be safe. Yet I go out, but I wouldn’t say I’m denying the possibility that a 1 kg meteorite could hit my head at 300 km/h and kill me. A crash helmet would greatly increase my odds of survival, but I don’t even wear that. So I’m making an extremely safe bet that I wont be hit.

  33. 83
  34. 84
    Jim Baird says:

    MA Rogers @73

    The 1998-2012 decadal average increase was .04 degrees. It is an analogy for how best to address climate change. If the decadal average of atmospheric warming could be kept to .04 degrees throughout this century the warming problem would be over. Particularly if in this process you are producing the same amount of energy as is currently being derived from fossil fuels.

    The most recent NASA study confirms the hiatus was real and that the heat that went missing from the atmosphere was trapped in the waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans to a depth of about 300 meters instead. The Pacific Ocean was the primary repository of this heat as unusually strong trade winds piled up warm water in the west, pinning it against Asia and Australia but those 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, “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 degree this year alone bring global surface temperatures increases above 1 degree relative to the average of the second half of the 19th century and half way towards the 2 degree limit most governments, including ours, have promised we will not pass.

    The west coast of North America is hard hit by the end of the hiatus because much of the heat that was pinned against Asia and Australia has now sloshed back across the Pacific and up the coast forming what has come to be known as the blob. From the Baja Peninsula to the Gulf of Alaska coastal waters have been anywhere between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius warmer than average since the fall of 2013.

    That heat moved away from the ocean`s surface into deeper water reduces atmospheric warming, cannot melt polar ice nor can it drive tropical storms.

    A heat pipe is a device that moves heat away from somewhere 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. Estimates are the oceans can produce as much energy as is currently derived from fossil fuels this way.

    Heat would be moved to an ocean depth of 1000 meters with this process, from where, with an estimated return rate of 4 meters per year, it would take 250 years to return as opposed to the less than two decades the wind driven hiatus kept global warming at bay. The coefficient of expansion of ocean water is also about half at that depth what it is on the tropical surface.

    It might be worthwhile for to consider this proposition.

  35. 85
    SecularAnimist says:

    Steinar Midtskogen wrote: “It’s difficult to have a scientific discussion with people making extreme claims …”

    You have not offered any “scientific discussion”. All you have offered is your personal incredulity, supported by nothing but hand-waving at unspecified “people who’ve made similarly extreme claims” in the past about entirely different issues and circumstances from those addressed by BPL’s study.

    Nor have you specified exactly what is “extreme” about BPL’s projections, except that, once again, you personally refuse to accept them.

  36. 86
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Jim Baird — 8 Aug 2015 @ 10:28 AM, ~#84

    Jim, very few people will be convinced by the heat pipe proposal until a full sized working plant can be shown to deal with multiple known maintenance issues. One serious problem is keeping biofilms from insulating the very large surface area of the bottom heat exchanger at a depth of 1000 meters.


  37. 87
    Killian says:

    Looks to me like Parry Channel, the Northwest Passage, is open. Cloudiness mid-channel, but looks like the north edge is clear. If not, will be very soon.

  38. 88
    David B. Benson says:

    The Rolling Stone article
    surveys many of the problems aned offers a form of solution at the end. Recommended reading.

  39. 89
    Chuck Hughes says:

    I keep getting this message when I try to log in or post. Anyone else having this problem?

    “Service Temporarily Unavailable

    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.”

  40. 90
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Steinar Midtskogen says:
    “No, I did clearly specify what I meant by “such statements” in case it was unclear: 3.5 billion dying in a decade 25 years from now, and that the world population could be 280 million in 2100.

    Yes, I dismiss those claims as a result of climate change at face value. And for that several here think that I’m in a state of denial or have a mental illness. Perhaps members of Heaven’s Gate had similar ideas of other people, too.”

    Steinar, you are completely welcome to dismiss anything you like. However, this site is a discussion of Climate Science and it’s impacts. You’re not presenting anything scientific as far as I can tell. We all have our opinions and you are welcome to yours but BPL has published his work and his ‘predictions’ have some basis in reality whereas yours are complete conjecture based on “cuz I say so.”

    Nobody here likes the news but based on the experts here at RC et al we’re in for a very rough ride. I think it’s common knowledge. Denial is NOT an effective survival strategy:

    From the Pentagon and our military:

    From the Department of Defense:

  41. 91
    MA Rodger says:

    Karen Street @78.
    That’s what it says on the box. Using an actual span of years doesn’t yield the magic 0.000°C average (1900-2000 averages at 0.00013°C which is too high for monthly rounding errors) but would they adjust the anomaly value for every 20th Century adjustment (of which there will be a lot)?

  42. 92
    Jim Baird says:

    Steve Fish, agreed the concept has to prove itself. The problem is no effort is being made to do this. All conventional OTEC concepts use large cold water pipes to bring condensing water near the surface. This is where the biofouling problem exists. At a thousand meters biofouling is not a problem due to the cold water. Electrolysis of sea water to produce hydrogen also gives you oxygen and/or chlorine at the anode. Either are biocides when introduce into the evaporator as shown at . The heat pipe is an order of magnitude smaller than the cold water pipe thus the cost is reduce by close to a third. Also bringing cold water near the surface releases CO2, which can be as high as 900 ppm into the atmosphere as the pressure is reduce. Again this is avoided with the heat pipe design. The upside of keeping warming much below 2C far outweighs the problem which can be overcome with a little lab effort and a small ocean going test bed.

  43. 93
    wili says:

    BPL, do you have a direct link (not just the article by Ahmed that refers to it) to the study you mention in the first line of your paper?

    “UK Foreign Office computer climate and economic models predict that, given no major policy changes worldwide, global warming could collapse the world economic system by 2040”

  44. 94
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Chuck Hughes — 9 Aug 2015 @ 2:29 AM, ~#89

    Your comment about the “Service Temporarily Unavailable” message.

    I have been getting this and stripped down pages (e.g. no graphics, no formatting), on and off, for more than a year now. Steve

  45. 95
    Digby Scorgie says:

    #70. Pete Dunkelberg

    Yes, I realize there’s more to it than just not burning fossil fuel, but fossil fuel is the principal problem — hence my use of the term “Schwerpunkt”. I had a look at your links in response to my analysis at #61. Here are some additional thoughts arising therefrom:

    More on the Schwerpunkt for climate action

    We know that we have to eliminate the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We know that the primary source of this excess is the burning of fossil fuel. We know that fossil fuel has to be produced before it can be burnt. So do we restrict the production of fossil fuel? Oh, no! We can’t do that. We’ll wriggle and squirm and try one failed remedy after another — anything, just anything, except the obvious: restrict production.

    Regarding failed remedies, we’ve tried cap-and-trade. As Mark Schapiro describes in “Carbon shock”, this remedy has failed utterly. The talk now is of some form of carbon tax. This strikes me as akin to dividing by zero; to cause fossil-fuel production to tend to zero, the tax has to tend to infinity. I bet this remedy will fail too, and then it will be too late.

    Then there is the small matter of continued exploration for new sources of fossil fuel. For pity’s sake — we can’t afford to burn what we already have, so why on earth are people still allowed to search for more? Halting such exploration would be the simplest thing. Yet our benighted leaders seem to have a mental block against it. At least there are some who agree with me. See for example “Applauding themselves to death” at George Monbiot’s website.

    The afore-mentioned mental block extends also to proposals for decarbonizing our economies. I note the goal of decarbonizing by 2050. That’s 35 years from now, not the 20 years I deduced, but never mind, let’s accept this goal. To achieve it, people are racking their brains for ways of tweaking transportation and electricity production that will result in less fossil-fuel use. Is everyone blind? Just reduce fossil-fuel production systematically and the free market will automatically take care of the problem — no need to rack one’s brain searching fruitlessly for solutions.

    Regarding said transportation and electricity production, we all know of renewable alternatives for the latter, whereas the former is the subject of much argument. However, I was intrigued recently by an article on the use of ammonia as a transport fuel. It’s less efficient than petrol, diesel and jet-fuel, but it does work. (It was used for buses in Belgium during World War Two.) When burned, ammonia emits no carbon dioxide. Electricity is required for its manufacture, but if this is from a renewable source, use of ammonia contributes little to climate change. That said, one must always bear in mind that it takes energy and resources to manufacture cars, aircraft, trains and ships.

    To be realistic, the way the free market would cope with a steadily declining supply of fossil fuel will not be to our liking. We’ll be forced to drive less, fly less, consume less and, ahem, breed less. On the other hand, there would be a host of compensatory advantages, not least being the continuing habitability of the planet.

  46. 96
    Omega Centauri says:

    Jim Baird:
    Lets imagine that heat burial via heat pipes was proven possible. Now consider the already considerable resistance to any form of deliberate geo-engineering. Your proposal is pretty radical geo-engineering, changing the thermal structure of the global ocean, and radically altering the circulations of the oceans in the process. Imagine how many times greater the resistance to deep sea heat burial would be than to stratospheric Sulfate injection.

  47. 97
    Lynn says:

    Any thoughts about this (some denialists are propagating it): “Keeping it simple: the value of an irreducibly simple climate model” by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, Willie W.-H. Soon, David R. Legates, William M. Briggs, SCIENCE BULLETIN, 06 Aug 2015, at

  48. 98
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Just checked the arctic sea ice extent and concentration and the NE passage is already open whilst the NW passage has only got a few floes of slushy to melt before it’s officially open for commerce. This is very early in the year for this to be happening!

  49. 99

    “Any thoughts about this (some denialists are propagating it): “Keeping it simple: the value of an irreducibly simple climate model” by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, Willie W.-H. Soon, David R. Legates, William M. Briggs, SCIENCE BULLETIN, 06 Aug 2015, at

    Sure, two initial ones.

    1) Christopher Monckton is lead author. He has a long history of, well, idiocy, basically, from ineptitude in the mechanics of citation to utter misrepresentation to logical incoherency. Yes, that’s an ad hominem observation of course, but a some point ‘consider the source’ does indeed become relevant. The records of the remains authors are similarly stellar.

    2) The journal in question has an impact factor well below two (2011 data, it may have changed since), as compared with (to cite a leading journal) Nature Climate Science: “The 2014 ISI impact factor for Nature Climate Change is 14.547.” If I were betting, I’d put money down that Brenchley et al. won’t raise that rather dismal rating, regardless of how many clicks it may bait online.

    Leaving ad him world, let’s look at the paper’s intro. It states:

    The simple model, using parameter values consistent with a growing body of papers [e.g., 7–33] that report climate sensitivity to be below current central estimates, showed that in at least five significant respects the general-circulation models’ approach was questionable:

    (1) The assumption that temperature feedbacks will double or triple direct warming is unsound. Feedbacks may well reduce warming, not amplify it (see, e.g., [16, 19]).

    (2) The Bode system-gain equation models mutual amplification of feedbacks in electronic circuits, but, when models erroneously apply it to the essentially thermostatic climate on the assumption of strongly net-amplifying feedbacks, its use leads to substantial overestimation of global warming.

    (3) Climate modelers have failed to cut their central estimate of global warming in line with a new, lower estimate of the feedback sum (AR5, fig. 9.43). They still predict 3.3 K warming per CO2 doubling, when on this ground alone they should only predict 2.2 K, of which direct warming and feedbacks each contribute about 50 %.

    (4) Though general-circulation models suggest 0.6 K man-made warming is “in the pipeline” even if CO2 emissions cease, the simple model, supported by almost two decades without significant global warming [34], suggests there is no committed but unrealized man-made warming still to come.

    (5) AR5’s extreme RCP 8.5 forcing scenario predicting ~12 K anthropogenic warming is unjustifiable. It was based on CO2 concentration growing at 5.5 ppmv year−1 this century, though AR4’s central estimate was below 3.5 ppmv year−1 and the current growth rate [35] is little more than 2 ppmv year−1.

    In [6], it was concluded that once due allowance is made for these and other shortcomings in the general-circulation models, the likely global warming in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration is not 3.3 K but 1 K or less and that even if all available fossil fuels are combusted [less than]2.2 K warming will result.

    Layman’s comments:

    1) So how does this square with paleoclimate-derived estimates of sensitivity? They must be pretty much wrong across the board, if this point were to be true.
    2) You can’t demonstrate that an ‘assumption’ is unsound by making a contrary assumption.
    3) Again, this appears to be assumption: where is the evidence that climate is “essentially thermostatic?” Moreover, system-gain equations are used by electrical engineers to design highly stable circuits, used by virtually all of us in the developed world every day. Typical circuit parameters probably vary far less than climate over time. So where’s the supposed contradiction?
    4) “Almost two whole decades!” Wow! Evidently, they are still hung up on the supposed ‘pause.’
    5) So what? It’s a scenario, not a prophecy. And if you look at the trajectories of the various scenarios, they are very little different for present day values in any case, so trying to differentiate them on the basis of present data is unlikely to succeed. See this graphic, which makes it pretty obvious:

    6) I’m fond of quotes from song lyrics. In this case, Billy Preston comes to mind: “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.” And that’s what I think the authors have, based on a quick look at least.

  50. 100
    Edward Greisch says:

    Heat pipes don’t work upside down. Gravity pulls the liquid back to the hot end. Vapor transports heat upward, not downward.