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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. 201
    sidd says:

    Plant growth days fall off a cliff by 2100, open access paper

  2. 202
    Chuck Hughes says:

    This brings us back to BPL’s claims on imminent doom. I wanted to be sure that there would be a certain time when we could indisputably say either “you were wrong” or “I was wrong”. So BPL@167, I would say that whether a billion people have just died or not by 2040 is a prediction that is easy to confirm or disprove, and it would go both ways, one of us will be wrong and the other right. Please remind me of this discussion in January 2040 if I forget to remind you.

    Comment by Steinar Midtskogen — 19 Aug 2015

    I would imagine you spend a lot of time talking to yourself. And as far as someone at this site bothering to try and educate you, they probably have more important things to do. Cheers!

  3. 203
    wili says:

    Thanks for those numbers and the update, MAR. It is looking like 2015 will be a record year.

    But I note that jma came to the same conclusion about July’s record status a week ago (see my post above at #142). Why the delay at NASA? Are the Japanese just a lot more ready to make pronouncements on not-quite-totally-analyzed data? Or are they just that much better at crunching the numbers than our American boys and girls??

    (Maybe we can make this such a point of pride, that congress will reconsider its proposed cuts to NASA’s budget!??)

  4. 204
    zebra says:

    Steinar #186,

    If I had said a few years ago that the Arctic sea ice could all be gone this summer, and someone points out how wrong I was, I can make a defence saying that I wasn’t wrong, since I by saying “could” was describing a scientifically plausible scenario which was still possible when I made my statement, in which case I would make my statement unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific.

    Do you proof-read what you write?

    You’re saying that a scientifically plausible statement is unscientific??

  5. 205
    Matthew R Marler says:

    Here is the latest on sea level change:

    The Annals of Applied Statistics
    2015, Vol. 9, No. 2, 547–571
    DOI: 10.1214/15-AOAS824
    © Institute of Mathematical Statistics, 2015


    University College Dublin∗, Tufts University†, Rutgers University‡
    and Nanyang Technological University§

    We perform Bayesian inference on historical and late Holocene (last
    2000 years) rates of sea-level change. The input data to our model are tidegauge measurements and proxy reconstructions from cores of coastal sediment. These data are complicated by multiple sources of uncertainty, some of which arise as part of the data collection exercise. Notably, the proxy reconstructions include temporal uncertainty from dating of the sediment core using techniques such as radiocarbon. The model we propose places a Gaussian process prior on the rate of sea-level change, which is then integrated and set in an errors-in-variables framework to take account of age uncertainty. The resulting model captures the continuous and dynamic evolution of sea-level change with full consideration of all sources of uncertainty. We demonstrate the performance of our model using two real (and previously published) example data sets. The global tide-gauge data set indicates that sea-level rise increased from a rate with a posterior mean of 1.13 mm/yr in 1880 AD (0.89 to 1.28 mm/yr 95% credible interval for the posterior mean) to a posterior mean rate of 1.92 mm/yr in 2009 AD (1.84 to 2.03 mm/yr 95% credible interval for the posterior mean). The proxy reconstruction from North Carolina (USA) after correction for land-level change shows the 2000 AD rate of rise to have a posterior mean of 2.44 mm/yr (1.91 to 3.01 mm/yr 95% credible interval). This is unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years.

  6. 206
    M1EK says:

    I have yet to see a good (climatologist-based) response for this story about the Reagan and Dulles weather stations, and it’s getting some play among the deniers. Any comments?

  7. 207
    M1EK says:

    Curious if anybody is drafting a response from the world of science to these claims by Cato that the weather stations for Dulles and Reagan were mismatched, and the response when asked about cleaning the past records.

  8. 208
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Steinar Midtskogen,

    OK, I’ll bite. I am a scientist(physicist), and I’ll echo Chucks assessment–you have no idea what you are talking about. There are times when science deals with probabilistic propositions, and the conditional is the appropriate tense. If, for example, we seek to bound the adverse effects of climate change (which we must do if we are to apply proper risk assessment), then what tense other than the conditional could we use?

    And if you don’t care for me as an authority, then perhaps the fact that the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society and a plethora of other prestigious organizations have all endorsed the conclusions of the IPCC, conditionals and all.

  9. 209
    M1EK says:

    Tried to post this twice, maybe being rejected for the link.

    There’s a story out yesterday from CATO (referring back to some coverage in the Washington Post) about a discovery that the weather station at Reagan may have been misconfigured. Discrepancy between it and Dulles was identified, station replaced, but supposedly they will not go back and modify past records accordingly. Is there a climatologist-endorsed response to this story? I’m obviously inclined to doubt the Cato framing, but have nothing else to go on at this point.

  10. 210
    Doug says:

    Like a Moran, linked to the wrong article. Question stays the same though. Is this legit?

  11. 211
    Mike says:

    why is this website filtering out comments from robots? Don’t we need to hear from the AI community? The website allows posts from individuals representing the anti-science, anti-intellectual community on a regular basis. Trolls are allowed, robots are not? Something dreadfully wrong here. Robot lives and comments matter!

  12. 212
    Mike says:

    News reports are saying that this is an unusual fire season for the west coast. How significant is forest fire for global carbon dioxide atmosphere situation? I suspect it is pretty small, but wondering about feedback loops. People here in the NW are learning the hard way how to live in a dry climate. A local farmer started a fire with his brush hog and burned up his own chicken farm. I heard abt 200K chickens died in their cages. Carbon loading from chicken deaths is certainly not a big consideration, but it is really pretty awful to consider how this ended for all concerned.

  13. 213
    Chuck Hughes says:

    4. Assuming you’re right and the knowledge that geo-engineering exists, why do you think we’ll eschew geo-engineering and welcome the death of 95% of humanity (which perhaps means 99.9% of others) instead? Man, you sound like a Fundamentalist.

    Given your ethics, I EXPECT FOUR AND NO LESS bullet points answering all four of my questions. This time, try to remember that the dude across the table ain’t an idiot. Such assumptions only lead to embarrassment.

    Comment by Richard Caldwell

    I think your idiocy speaks for itself. I have faith in only one thing…. THE STUPIDITY AND ARROGANCE OF HUMANS. Your commentary, though boring and without substance, reinforces my faith.

  14. 214
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Do you proof-read what you write?

    You’re saying that a scientifically plausible statement is unscientific??

    Comment by zebra — 21 Aug 2015

    I’m sure he reads it. It’s the lack of comprehension that’s the problem.

  15. 215
    Chuck Hughes says:

    BPL: You don’t get the whole probability thing, do you?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 20 Aug 201

    There’s way more to it than that. People like Steiner and R.C. are not here to learn anything. I’m not sure what their motive is other than to spread manure. With their federalization abilities though they may actually be able to grow crops at the North Pole once it all melts. It’s already getting pretty deep here.

  16. 216
    Killian says:

    181 Dan H. said New record lows are possible for next year. However, I am less confident.

    Yet, you gave no reason, really, other than to say a couple specific years weren’t exactly the same, ignoring a number of other specific points.

    Though the quality of the ice, meaning virtually no large areas of consistent ice – it has never been like this even in 7, 10, or 12, the weather has been almost as conducive to minimal loss as the last two seasons. That’s pure luck, friend. Water temps and export via Fram are the two biggest causes overall, and we’ve had three straight years of low export. This yer we’ve had one period of a few weeks where it picked up- and the ice took a nose dive. It’s picking up now, and AO is going negative… should be an interesting week or two. Big storm possible next week, and some Fram export-inducing storm going on right now. While even third place for volume and area get harder to expect each day that passes, three weeks of export through Fram and a couple good storms and it may still happen because…. there is virtually nothing to stop it. The ice isn’t even connected to itself within the pack. It’s virtually all mush. Popcorn as I call it.

    ’07 and ’12 were due to preconditioning and perfect export conditions. If next year does, too, I absolutely guarantee new area and volume lows. I guarantee them, anyway: What ’07 and ’12 had that this year and next year will not is that huge area of compacted ice. That is gone. The ice is being preconditioned. I believe this is primarily due to bottom melt overall. I think ice growth over winter will be low. I think the ice next year will break apart as thoroughly, more so, than this season.

    We will have new records next year, or so close as to be academic, barring a stunningly cold winter, spring and summer, with perfect winds.

    BTW, the definition used for extent cannot be utilized for volume, as the third dimension automatically adds another 50% decline. Simple mathematics.

    No idea why you are raising this. I do not define them the same.

  17. 217
    MA Rodger says:

    Dan H. @195.
    And GISS & NOAA are not the only kids in town. So if it’s the sort of stuff that grabs your interest, there is a lot to keep you busy.
    “The difference is even greater over the past 8 months. Any idea as to the reason?” Since 2000 the exact same statement could have been made about December-July data in all but one year. And that is probably because GISS has been picking up a greater rate of warming than NOAA during the autumn months, the ones that fall outside that “past 8 months.”.

  18. 218
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Glen: Is there another, negative feedback that would turn on to stop the increase? What might this be?

    The planet had a large primary productivity (plant growth) in past warm periods. If drought and temperature were lock-stepped, we’d see it in the paleo-record. Plus, past non-orbital upward temperature twitches didn’t sustain themselves. The climate cooled back down.

    Rainfall increases as temperatures rise. Plus, for summer precipitation purposes, we’re acquiring a brand new ocean, the Arctic. The rain will be less friendly and we might have to build a lot of dams to make good use of it, but there will be more rain globally. The EPA says that from 1901 to 2013, world precipitation increased by 0.09 inches per decade.

    HDRs (humanitarian daily rations) cost a buck fifty. Two a week is $156 a year. They can be tossed from airplanes without parachutes. It literally rains food. You can keep a lot of people alive fairly cheaply today, and we’re headed into the 7nm silicon and quantum supercomputer world. Today’s agriculture relies on migrant workers. Tomorrow, robots will truck themselves around farms and drones will deliver humanitarian aid.

    Steiner, important conditionals should be explained, as in “very likely”, which translates to “90-100% likely”.

  19. 219
    Edward Greisch says:

    188 Richard Caldwell: You will realize the answer one day when you go to the grocery store and find no food. Don’t blame BPL, he tried to warn you.

    A friend of mine participated in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. When it was over, there was no food in the grocery stores, so my friend went out of Budapest to go squirrel hunting. There were no squirrels.

  20. 220

    RC 188: You expended precisely 3 neuron-seconds worth of electricity in your reply. Since you aren’t a moron, I must conclude that you’re just playing the fool.

    BPL: Since you’re no good at playing the fool, I have to conclude that you’re just a moron. Have a nice day.

  21. 221

    Dan H 195 — are they using the same baseline?

  22. 222

    GR 197–the same warming effect that dries out continental interiors also shifts more rain to coastlines, which get drenched. Consequently, my F fraction almost certainly can’t go to 100% with just a few degrees of warming. Thus my conclusion that the true curve is likely sigmoidal. I’m working on a model to see how it works in detail, but conclusions are some way off.

    I agree that catastrophe is imminent in the short term, but spreading drought will be only part of it, not the sole cause. The main idea, in my mind, is that drought plus storms plus other damage to the economy will collapse the agricultural system, and that in turn will collapse the economic/political/cultural system. It doesn’t have to all go away; just enough that people panic and neighboring countries start fighting over what’s left.

  23. 223

    #206–Doug, first I’ve heard of it, and it’s probably the first anyone would be expected to have heard of it, given the content of the story. So I don’t know. One could check out the journal in which the work is published.

    Going on purely internal evidence, I’d consider this:

    “We calculate that with a physical area less than 10 percent the size of the Sahara Desert, our process could remove enough CO2 to decrease atmospheric levels to those of the pre-industrial revolution within 10 years,” he said.

    Licht’s system is currently in an experimental phase. He says his biggest challenge is to gain enough experience to make consistently sized nanofibers.

    “We are scaling up quickly,” he said in the press release, “and soon should be in range of making tens of grams of nanofibers an hour.”

    So, we have a large but not impossible requirement for global-scale impact, followed immediately by an assurance of rapid progress, then context that reveals that production rates are (aspirationally!) a kilo or two a day.

    That sounds ‘legit’ to me, if a little bathetic.

    According to CO2 Now, Co2e emissions from all sources are ~10 billion metric tonnes (based on 2013 data). So, if I’ve manipulated my places correctly, that’s 10e16 kg annually, or ~3 x 10e14 kg daily. So production needs to ramp up by a factor of three hundred billion to completely offset today’s emissions. It would be interesting to compare the ramp rate to that which led to those emissions in the first place.

    It’s also interesting to wonder just what we’d be doing with the resulting glut of nano-fibers. Maybe large chunks of construction could use preformed nano-fiber girders? That’d give some pretty long-term sequestration.

    But it looks to me that this isn’t going to be a ‘silver bullet’ for our carbon problem. It might help; the ‘trash into treasure’ approach is conceptually elegant, and could be workable. Clearly, though, the potential low cost must be realized, and scalability must be made really massive, both technically and financially. So, wait and see, for the present, as this thing is developed (or not).

  24. 224
    Killian says:

    Re #181 Dan H:
    Further to the discussion on EL/LN (ENSO) and correlation with ASI Extent lows, my original observation noted rough correlations between EN’s followed 1 or 2 years later by new lows. This observation was based on eyeballing graphs and included no other conditions affecting the ice. However, it is clear the ’07 low was strongly affected by winds and weather generally. Likewise, the lack of winds and relative cold correlated well with the last two years of rise in ASIE and this year almost certainly not hitting new lows. In fact, I had not called new lows, or even 2nd or 3rd new records in extent because I think all the open water makes high variation in extent *less* likely. The weather has cooperated to make that still true.

    I think, in fact, it makes little sense to look for new lows in extent as the primary metric when it is so easy for ice to spread in open seas. Area and volume both tell us more about the *amount* of ice, anyways, which I have focused on since ’10. Unfortunately, we don’t have good records on those so rely on the continuity of the extent record to check for this correlation.

    I went further back, eyeballing from an extent graph through 2010 or so with poor detail (what I could find) and a list of ENSO years and intensities. This is the rough. If anyone has more detailed resources and can nail this down better, please do.

    Here is what I found going all the way back to the beginning of ASIE decline @ 1953-ish.

    EN ’51 – ’54 = inception of ASI Extent decline.
    EN ’57 – ’59 = Near New Low/New Low
    EN ’65 – ’66 = Near New Low/New Low
    EN ’68 – ’70 = New Low
    EN ’72 – ’73 = possible correlation, some delay
    EN ’76 – ’78 = New Low
    EN ’79 – ’80 = New Low
    EN ’82 – ’83 = New Low
    EN ’86 – ’88 = New Low (’89,’90)
    EN ’94 – ’95 = New Low
    EN ’97 – ’98 = Drop from Previous (?)
    EN ’04 – ’05 = Near New Low/New Low
    EN ’04 – ’05/’06 – ’07 = New Low
    EN ’09 – ’10 = New Low (’10, ’12)
    EN ’15 – ’16 = New Low ’16,’17?

    What about La Nina? First, I don’t care if the actual cause is LN or EN, the correlation with ENSO is the key. However, we have a problem, Houston. I didn’t check the full record of LN because I found this from recent years:

    La Nina
    ’07-’08 After
    ’10-’11 After
    ’10-’11, ’11-’12 = New Low

    If LN is following big melts, it can’t be contributing to them, so the correlation is already weaker than with EN. Also, the ’10-’11 EN could be said to be correlated with the ’12 low given the hypothesis of near new lows/new lows following EN’s by 1 or 2 years. Feel free to check the LN record, tho.

    What I think is going on is the EN’s put a lot of heat into the ocean surface *and* the air, yes? I propose these waters and air temps propagate via multiple routes (directly, storm tracks, etc.) into the Arctic enhancing melt. We know melt from the bottom due to water temps is responsible for up to 2/3 of the ice melt, and also that it takes much longer for energy to propagate through the oceans than the atmosphere. It makes sense an EN correlation might be delayed.

    It would be great to correlate wind and storm patterns and temps with all this. Let’s be clear: I am not saying ENSO *is the primary cause of melt*, only that there is what appears to be a strong correlation.

  25. 225
    Russell says:

    Hyperbolic as the President’s claimed ability to see and feel the half degree of warming the globe has experienced in his lifetime , he may well be able to taste it.

  26. 226
    François says:

    Something new on the CO2 front : the level of CO2 is decreasing much faster than usual (393.68 only yesterday in Hawai). Is it a sign of the global slow down of the economic growth, a -new- effect of ENSO, or just a statistical oddity?

  27. 227
    Hank Roberts says:

    Friday, March 28, 2014
    World-Building the Real World

    Last week there was a brief flurry of interest in a ‘NASA study’ that predicted the collapse of civilization. The study turned out not to be by NASA and to be founded on eight equations. This sort of thing makes soothsaying look solid.

    A global industrial civilization has never existed before, and while highly interdependent it seems to contain enough redundant links to make it resilient. A lot of horrible things could happen, but it would go on. Some civilizations do go on for thousands of years. China and Egypt spring to mind, but even Europeans could just about get away with claiming that the Roman Empire is still around, and they’re living in it. That said, there are imaginable if unlikely events that could knock over civilization across a wide area or even the world without necessarily wiping everyone out. A limited nuclear war or an unstoppable plague or an asteroid impact or a big coronal mass ejection could kill billions and still leave millions of survivors struggling to cope.

    Most of them wouldn’t have a clue what to do. ….

  28. 228
    Hank Roberts says:

    > CO2 to carbon nanofiber

    There’s always gonna be some issue:

  29. 229
    Dan S. says:

    re: 205 and CATO’s typically ignorant, anti-science knee-jerk reaction, see

  30. 230
    MA Rodger says:

    wili @200.
    Indeed, the Japan Met Agency are pretty quick with posting the previous month’s global temperature anomaly and thank you for keeping an eye on them for us. Mind that the “point of pride” you speak of is less poignant this side of the pond. Here we have the laggards who produce HadCRUT weeks later than JMA & NASA/NOAA. My understanding is that CRU involve more human hands in their analysis, checking manually for error & bias. And drinking tea. So how do the Japanese manage to produce their monthly data so quickly? I would have thought they of all people understood the importance of tea drinking.

  31. 231
    deconvoluter says:

    Sequel to my #44.

    and now

    are these two events connected?

  32. 232

    Ray@204: “There are times when science deals with probabilistic propositions, and the conditional is the appropriate tense.”
    Recall that this discussion was about billions of people going to die from climate changes, and it was backed up by a number of scientific could’s. Are you as a scientist honestly convinced that the climate will kill billions only two or three decades from now? If you stack a sufficient number of scientifically sound could’s you can get pretty extraordinary results, but that’s usually called science fiction. It has nothing to do with “scientific principals”.

    An important question is whether your probabilistic propositions are testing the science (hypotheses, theories) or significantly the input data. For instance, we understand gravity pretty well and can we can send probes to Pluto using our understanding. But we can’t accurately predict whether many near Earth asteroids will or will not impact Earth hundreds of years from now. The reason is not that we don’t understand gravity well enough, but that we don’t have accurate or complete data. In that case the outcome of a prediction doesn’t affect the credibility of the scientific theory. You wouldn’t reject the theory of gravity if an asteroid 95% certain to impact missed if it can be explained by inaccurate data. Nor would an impact be a confirmation of the theory in that case.

  33. 233
  34. 234
    Richard Caldwell says:

    BPL: It doesn’t have to all go away; just enough that people panic and neighboring countries start fighting over what’s left.

    That situation pretty much exists today in Africa, yet even in the nations most devastated by drought, AIDS, malaria, and conflict, the population continues to grow. The US and Europe have strong Christian churches whose faith leads them to helping in such situations. There’s plenty of ethnic stress when it comes to refugees, but the churches and secular aid organizations have strong voices. The Pope has joined the fray.

    I want to thank you for your original post/paper. It served well as a jumping off place – sort of a “What??” – which led me to search for information. Of course, as a scientifically-minded guy, I acknowledged, researched, and answered 100% of your points. You have ignored all facts, and limited yourself mostly to truly bad insults. My conclusion is that you are an apocalyptic sort with little grasp of complex human-driven systems.

    If you were scientifically-minded, I’d expect a response on Africa’s situation. Given past evidence, I expect cricket-chirps. (I’m leaving you plenty of room here – African implosion by 2040 isn’t a terribly hard case to postulate. Had you limited your paper to Africa and concluded that so many people would die that the population would remain stable through 2040, well, that might be supportable. Give it a try.)

    If you don’t like the Africa topic, perhaps you’d just answer ONE question (previously asked):

    Assuming that you are 100% right, what are the odds that humanity won’t totally erase your scenario by adding sulphur to our current carbon-based geo-engineering experiment by, say, 2030? Welcoming a 95% death rate with open arms doesn’t sound terribly human-like to me. Instead, we’d acidify the oceans and brimstone the atmosphere and suffer the consequences.

    Oh look! More crickets!

  35. 235
    Chuck Hughes says:

    HDRs (humanitarian daily rations) cost a buck fifty. Two a week is $156 a year. They can be tossed from airplanes without parachutes. It literally rains food. You can keep a lot of people alive fairly cheaply today, and we’re headed into the 7nm silicon and quantum supercomputer world. Today’s agriculture relies on migrant workers. Tomorrow, robots will truck themselves around farms and drones will deliver humanitarian aid.

    Steiner, important conditionals should be explained, as in “very likely”, which translates to “90-100% likely”.

    Comment by Richard Caldwell — 22 Aug 2015

    Glad to see you got it all figured out Richard! And to think that all those scientists have wasted their time doing years of research into the cause and effect of Climate Change never once stopping to consider that it could simply “rain food” and solve everything. It’ll be a “robot world” with drones which, instead of delivering death and destruction, will ultimately deliver humanitarian aid! It’s all so strange and yet you were able to figure it out by yourself. So I just gotta ask….

    Do you happen to own a mushroom farm or are you into herbal medications? Do you have a greenhouse full of plants with an odd number of leaves? If so I think you will be able to live happily for the next several decades until this all passes.

  36. 236
    Chuck Hughes says:

    Something new on the CO2 front : the level of CO2 is decreasing much faster than usual (393.68 only yesterday in Hawai). Is it a sign of the global slow down of the economic growth, a -new- effect of ENSO, or just a statistical oddity?

    Comment by François — 22 Aug 2015

    Somebody correct me if I’m wrong but CO2 is global. A regional reading wouldn’t necessarily be a valid assessment of what’s happening globally. Or it could be a mistake. During the last serious global recession CO2 levels continued to rise.

  37. 237
    Richard Caldwell says:

    BPL: the same warming effect that dries out continental interiors also shifts more rain to coastlines, which get drenched.

    It sounds like you’re off in scale. Since you wrote a paper on it, I am surprised that either:

    A. You’re too ignorant to write a paper on the subject. You never bothered spending the time and subscription-dollars to research whether it’s a 1% or 99% transfer of precipitation from interior to coast.

    B. You know what you’re talking about but the facts don’t fit your story. A 2% shift countered by a 1% total increase sounds entirely too un-scary. Plus, there’s the paleo-data. Any support for interior deserts and coastal perma-rain on a massive scale?

    C. You know what you’re talking about but left the crucial data out because of other reasons.

    So many details and numbers are missing from your paper. How much is rainfall shifted? How much does total rainfall increase? How much does evaporation increase? What support does the paleo-data give? And on and on. Is it because of A, B, or C?

  38. 238
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Drought and corn

    The 1936 drought during the dustbowl period in the US revealed a test hybrid (number 707?) which could withstand severe drought. A farmer located in the epicenter of the disaster found the still-producing plants in his field and alerted the manufacturer. Nowadays, anywhere in the world with a drought as bad as ours in 1936 could survive if they are given or sold hybrid seed. It’s really hard to imagine that drought-proof corn won’t grow in 2040 where rice does today.

    There ya go. One act, costing almost nothing except the loss of profit from sales which wouldn’t happen anyway, which, with no advances required, takes many many teeth out of this scenario.

    This stuff is complex. You can’t assume zero reaction to a threat “scientifically estimated” to likely kill off 95% of us. It’s like saying, “If the sky was pink.”

  39. 239
    zebra says:

    Richard Caldwell #232,

    Your various scenarios are at least as improbable as the (basically strawman) one you are criticizing.

    You are engaging in the “we” fallacy, vide Lone Ranger and Tonto.

    ” what are the odds that humanity won’t totally erase your scenario by adding sulphur to our current carbon-based geo-engineering experiment by, say, 2030?”

    There’s no such critter as “humanity”. All climate is local, all mitigation is local, all adaptation is local.

    Will the Chinese government, assuming it can exercise local control by then, start burning high-sulfur coal contrary to the wishes of its population and anyone else downwind, in order to “save the planet”? Maybe, maybe not.

    Sadly, what BPL points to, with respect to armed conflict promoted by shortages food and water, is the cheapest and most attractive (to those best suited to survive it) way to reduce atmospheric CO2 content. Very few people look at Syria and think climate change; they think “how can we turn this to our advantage.”

    So. The bunkers are built, and let’s be honest, five or ten percent of the current population would make for a comfortable and sustainable human presence on the planet. And yes, I wish I didn’t think things like this.

  40. 240

    RC 228: You have ignored all facts, and limited yourself mostly to truly bad insults. My conclusion is that you are an apocalyptic sort with little grasp of complex human-driven systems.

    BPL: And my conclusion is that you are a troll. Go look up what the cake said to Alice.

  41. 241

    “Plus, past non-orbital upward temperature twitches didn’t sustain themselves. The climate cooled back down.”

    – See more at:

    Um, no:

    But perhaps you meant ‘since the Eemian’ or some such?

    Surely, though, it’s a bit inappropriate to liken the current situation, which will feature 400+ ppm CO2 for the humanly relevant future (barring a miracle in sequestration tech) to ‘past upward twitches?’

  42. 242

    Boy, I really got under RC’s skin, didn’t I? He’s trotting out the whole pseudoscience routine. Nobody tell him that the PDSI accounts for both evapotranspiration and precipitation, okay? He’ll never look it up, and thus he can go on thinking he’s profound by demanding to know whether 1% or 99% of the precipitation is transferred. We could have endless fun this way.

  43. 243

    #231–Richard, I think that’s an unrealistic criticism of BPL’s paper. While I agree with you that his statistical analysis is unlike to capture the whole reality of what will unfold over coming decades, I must note that journal editors tend to prefer relatively succinct analyses, not massive tomes covering several distinct disciplines. (Especially when evaluating ‘outsider’ papers.)

    You’re essentially asking him to provide the Compleat Theory of Drought-Induced Collapse. Ain’t gonna happen in one blog thread, or one paper.

  44. 244

    #220–Interesting comment, Killian. You’ve done a quick qualitative analysis, which is suggestive; it could presumably done quantitatively, by looking at the correlations between various Nino indices and ASI extent. I’m not the guy to actually do it, I’m afraid, but I’m sure its doable, and I suspect that it wouldn’t be hard for the skilled, say Tamino, or some of the commenters on that site.

    But that observation makes me launch a quick search:

    The top hit that’s at a more or less pan-Arctic scale is Liu, Curry & Hu, 2004, which says:

    Trends in the satellite-derived Arctic sea ice concentrations (1978–2002) show pronounced decreases in the Barents/Kara Seas, between the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, the central Sea of Okhotsk and a portion of the Hudson/Baffin Bay by ∼2–8% per decade, exceeding the 95% confidence level. Qualitatively speaking, positive phases of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) produce similar ice changes in the western Arctic, but opposite ice changes in the eastern Arctic. The manner in which the ice changes are related to the AO and ENSO are demonstrated. Over the last 24 years, the magnitude of the ice changes associated with the positive AO trend and the negative ENSO trend is much smaller than the regional ice trends. Thus, more local or less understood large scale processes should be investigated for explanations.

    So this is by no means new ground.

    More recently, there’s this:

    That’s focused on the Southern Hemisphere, primarily, but is clearly relevant.

    Another interesting article focuses on the Canadian Arctic, which gets some useful data coverage back to 1960. There’s a sentence that bears on your thesis:

    Within the CAA and Baffin Bay, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation index correlates well with multiyear ice coverage (positive) and first-year ice coverage (negative) suggesting that El Niño episodes precede summers with more multiyear ice and less first-year ice.

    But I’m not sure whether ‘more’ is referring to absolute quantities or to relative proportions. I’d think that the former reading would go against your thesis, while the latter would tend to support it.

    Unsurprisingly, the ice maps overall show a good correlation between rising temperatures and dropping ice coverage.

  45. 245
    MA Rodger says:

    Back in January there was a large drop in Antarctic Sea Ice Area data appearing at The Cryosphere Today which I felt dramatic enough to share with folk here. Well, that did for it. The dropping-like-a-stone came promptly to an end the very next day and soon 2015’s Antarctic SIA again was swapping top spot with 2014.
    That was until July when another session of dropping-like-a-stone began and just 40 days later, as of yesterday, The Cryopshere Today are posting an anomaly of -617,000 sq km which is the lowest SIA anomaly on record for this date of the year. The previous record-holding year was 2002.
    This return to more melty conditions down-under may prove short-lived but, 40 days from top-man to bottom of the pack is a pretty impressive wobble.

  46. 246
    Killian says:

    #238 Kevin McKinney

    I know it’s not new. I have been told in response to such observations in previous years there is no meaningful correlation to AO, e.g., which means somebody looked at it. I am suggesting they have looked at AO and EN and missed the pattern.

    To wit, without reading everything above because I am tired from writing all day, the info you give above only mentions next year, but the hypothesis is more a 1 to 2 year lag, not only one. Looking at only one year wouldn’t find it.

    WRT the AO, it has massive internal variability, so any effect is going to be hidden in long term effects and/or perhaps only teased out when deeply negative or negative for several weeks or longer. Look, e.g. at the AO and the melt earlier this summer. The AO and melt rate correlated really well this summer… at first.

    The AO is probably among the weakest, or at least not among the top few, causes of ASI melt, but it keeps seeming to be there at times.

    Enso… well…. look at the correlations. That’s an awful lot of them. Hopefully someone will look at it on the longer 2 year time frame added to the 1 year stuff already done, and update it. Also, consider the ASI is far more sensitive to changes now than when a large portion was thick, multi-year ice. It would actually be pretty impressive for an EN correlation to be present prior to this century, yet… there it sits, waiting to be tested for significance.

    I am not the math guy, either. I make no apologies for being an idea/patterns guy.

    A messy job, but somebody’s gotta do it.


  47. 247
    zebra says:

    Steinar Midstkogen #227,

    You are not writing clearly/precisely enough for people to decipher what your point is.

    It appears that you want to establish a category “scientific” and then categorize some words and concepts accordingly. But, you know, the wheel has been invented.

    1) If BPL makes a statement like “one billion will die due to climate change effects by 2040”, with or without probabilities, that’s called a prediction or hypothesis. Testable by experiment or observation, if we could repeat the conditions.

    2) If BPL says “…could die…” that is a projection. Not testable by experiment or observation.

    But in both cases, we can decide if his reasoning process (or narrative plus calculation) is consistent with what we think of as the underlying scientific theory. Meeting that condition is what we would call “scientific”. As opposed to having a burning bush tell him.

    The best I can interpret your position is that you object to BPL using “could” in association with a probability (mixing 1 and 2): “there’s a 95% chance one billion could die”. Is that it? If it is….meh.

    An alternative is that you object to making a prediction where we can’t repeat the conditions, and so conclusively test the hypothesis. That’s fine, but since we can’t yet travel between alternate universes…again, meh. That doesn’t make it “unscientific”.

  48. 248
  49. 249
    MA Rodger says:

    HadCRUT4 also posts a hottest July on record & 8th warmest anomaly. 2015 so far boasts four top ten anomalies & all are top 20s. Scorchio!!

    14 … 2014 8 … 0.666ºC
    40 … 2014 9 … 0.589ºC
    23 … 2014 10 … 0.626ºC
    103 .. 2014 11 … 0.489ºC
    21 … 2014 12 … 0.634ºC
    9 … 2015 1 … 0.688ºC
    16 … 2015 2 … 0.66ºC
    10 … 2015 3 … 0.681ºC
    18 … 2015 4 … 0.656ºC
    7 … 2015 5 … 0.696ºC
    3 … 2015 6 … 0.728ºC
    8 … 2015 7 … 0.691ºC

  50. 250
    Glen Reese says:

    Ref. #218 Richard Caldwell: I understand that a warmer planet had more vegetation, extending to the poles, but these are processes occurring over (at least) thousands of years, while the BPL paper addresses drought issues that may occur in the next 50. If the increased precipitation occurs at the expense of drying interiors (where agriculture predominates) and flooded coastlines, then higher average rainfall is of no immediate help. Considering that the net global food reaserves are about 40 days (80 if half the population disappears) the long-term resilience of the climate seems irrelevant.

    I’m wondering if there are any negative feedbacks to drought and warming that might occur over short time frames, i.e. the next 50 years. It seems that only positive feedbacks occur over short time intervals, whereas the negative feedbacks seem to take millions of years. Are we inevitably doomed to occasional extinctions?