RealClimate logo

Unforced variations: Feb 2018

Filed under: — group @ 2 February 2018

This month’s open thread for climate science topics. Note that discussions about mitigation and/or adaptation should be on the Forced Responses thread.

Let’s try and avoid a Groundhog Day scenario in the comments!

168 Responses to “Unforced variations: Feb 2018”

  1. 1
    mike says:

    Some data points to consider.

    Average decadal rate of CO2 increase in 1994 to 2004 was 1.87 ppm.
    Annual rate of CO2 increase in 1998 with big EN bump was 2.93 ppm
    Annual rate of increase for 1999 was 0.93 as that year had no EN bump and was in yoy comparison to a big EN Year. the next few years “rebounded” in yoy increase number, but that’s an illusion, a wobble created by the bump of EN and dip on LN years, background rate is buried within the numbers and can be teased out with smoothing.

    Annual decadal rate of CO2 increase 2005 to 2015 was 2.11 ppm
    Annual rate of increase for 2105 with EN bump was 3.03 ppm
    Annual rate of increase for 2016 with EN bump continuing was 2.98
    Annual rate if increase for 2017 with weak LN conditions was 2.13 ppm

    We have not seen the kind of post-EN dropoff in yoy numbers that we saw in 1998-2002.

    It’s not a good idea to look at the 2017 yoy increase number of 2.13 ppm and believe that number is close to the background rate of increase. I think current smoothed background rate is in the 2.4 to 2.5 ppm range and that’s a terrible number because the way out of our predicament would be shown in a yoy comparison that shows zero increase or a drop in ppm in atmosphere. A flat or rising rate of increase is disastrous. A slowly dropping rate of increase would still be disastrous, but encouraging because it would suggest that we have done something real and significant to start moving the needle int the right direction, but sooner or later, the needle has to start moving down or our global warming troubles will continue to build and the only change we are creating is the rate at which are troubles will build.



    sources: for decadal numbers for annual numbers

  2. 2
    mike says:

    should be “our troubles will build” of course.

  3. 3
    Thomas says:

    Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide CO2 PPM Snapshot – January 2018

    Based on NOAA’s ESRL ‘Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide’ data, in particular ‘Mauna Loa CO2 monthly mean data’

    January 2018 continues the record breaking growth of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Current estimates for the January monthly mean are ~408 ppm – another Record Making High for January has been set (once the final figures are published.)

    408 ppm is +1.18 higher than last month (Dec 2017), and is +1.87 above the previous record high for January of 406.13 ppm (Jan 2017).

    408 ppm is +22.45 higher than a decade ago when CO2 was only 385.52 ppm in January 2008.

    This indicates an average growth rate of +2.25 ppm per year for the month of January.

    This means that the 2017-2018 growth rate of +1.87/yr is -0.38 (or 16.9%) below the January average. This is not a significant deviation from the long term trend.

    In fact it represents a recent short-term annual Growth Rate of +2.67 PPM for January in the last 3 years. Significantly higher than the decadal growth rate of +2.25 per year (above).

    The lowest increase of CO2 from one month to the next is typically January to February. On average February is only 0.86 ppm higher than January.

    This means that next months Average Mean is likely to be about 409 ppm – still a new Record High for February. Therefore Record weekly mean averages near or above 410 ppm may occur this month.

    The all time Record Weekly Mean is 410.36 ppm in May, 2017. The only Month CO2 concentration has been above 410 ppm for millions and millions of years.

    January’s 408 ppm is the 4th highest Monthly Mean CO2 PPM in the instrumental record – behind April-May-June 2017.

    January 2018 is the 8th time the Monthly Mean CO2 PPM has been above 407 ppm.

    January 2018 is the 14th time the Monthly Mean CO2 PPM has been above 405 ppm.

    2015 was the last time the January Monthly Mean CO2 PPM Reading was below 400 ppm.

    James Hansen 2017 COP23 said:
    “Basically humanity needs energy. And the countries are going to do what is best for the economic well-being of their people. And they are going to burn the fuels that are available and what is the cheapest fuels. And that’s what we have to look at – it’s ‘cheapest’ this day ONLY IF WE IGNORE the long term consequences.”

  4. 4
    Russell says:

    The  Economist  thinks   EPA  Administrator  Pruitt   may be channeling populist icon William Jennings Bryan

  5. 5
    Hank Roberts says:

    KQED radio tonight at 8pm
    This program will be available as an audio file from the website eventually

    8:00 pm
    Commonwealth Club
    Seventh Annual Stephen H. Schneider Award For Outstanding Climate Science Communication
    The seventh annual Stephen Schneider Award will be awarded to Michael Mann. According to Schneider Award juror Ben Santer, Professor Mike Mann has been a world leader in scientific efforts to understand the natural variability of the climate system and to reconstruct global temperature variations over the past two millennia. This critically important work led to the famous ‘hockey-stick’ temperature reconstruction. The hockey stick provides compelling evidence for the emergence of a human-caused warming signal from the background noise of natural fluctuations in climate.

  6. 6
    Thomas says:

    Wondering, if time permits, RC could do a re-run review of arctic sea ice similar to what was done re ice after the AR5 came out years ago? Where several scientists challenged the ipcc conservative projections (or did I dream that).

    and where things might be in 2025 onward and the impact on the climate

    eg after a decade of no more MYI and several months a year in summer/fall of almost no arctic sea ice.
    eg how big is the ‘expected’ impact on the climate/temps etc from that kind of change/feedback in ASI albedo

    and if CO2 ppm was drawn back down to 350 ppm again, would the summer sea ice cover come back? (sorry if these are daft questions)

  7. 7
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @1,
    I see you are back to the slightly more “skyrockety” CO2-rise of “I think current smoothed background rate is in the 2.4 to 2.5 ppm range.” (You also drag in the “that’s a terrible number” blather which in my book is non-UV speak.)
    You say “We have not seen the kind of post-EN dropoff in yoy numbers that we saw in 1998-2002.”
    Of course, we have not yet got past 2017 data yet, the comparator for 2000 and with the 8-month delay in the ENSO impact on CO2-rise we are hardily to a point where we can compare much of 2000.
    We can say that since the end of the El Nino in mid-2016, ENSO has been signifcantly less La-Nina-like than it was following the 1998 El Nino. Through these months MEI has been averaging +0.77 higher. Over the period which would have impacted CO2-rise-to-date, MEI averages +0.58 higher. So that is certainly good reason for expecting a larger CO2-rise in 2017 relative to 1999.
    And note the the NOAA 2017 CO2-rise data is the rise of the Nov-Feb-Average which has yet to entirely happen yet.


    Thomas @3.
    The “growth rate” you talk of is simply AGW. You conflate this with the acceleration of that “growth rate” which is the point of issue here.
    The February CO2 level you say could be 408.86ppm, this being the result of an average Jan-to-Feb increase. But then you go all “skyrockety” by suggesting the weekly CO2 numbers in February may approach or even top 410ppm with the record weekly CO2 level sitting at 410.36ppm waiting for a challenge (these being record CO2 level not seen for probably 14m years).
    I know it is very unlikely, but if you were to plot out the NOAA MLO Dec-to-Jan CO2-rise, you would see a wobbly rising number series. The rise is the acceleration in CO2-rise and it is reasonably linear over the period since 1960 at 0.006ppm/yr/yr. Thus, if there were a “pause” in the acceleration of CO2-rise as emissions data suggests, in four years the difference would amount to 0.024ppm/yr in the Dec-to-Jan increase.
    This should demonstrate that all the numbers you are flapping about with @3 are all wobble and nothing more.

  8. 8

    #4, Russell–

    And linking climate change denialism with creationism is certainly no stretch; denial of the science in the latter case pre-conditions for denial in the former.

  9. 9
    MA Rodger says:

    And RSS has reported a TLT global anomaly for January of +0.55ºC, the 7th warmest January on record (UAH was 10th) which is 0.30ºC below the warmest Janurary of 2016 (UAH was 0.29ºC below). The warmer Januarys – 2016, 2010, 2007, 1998, 2017, 2013 – were mainly El Nino years.
    Jan 2018 sits as the 49th highest anomaly on RSS TLT record for all-months (UAH was =62nd).
    In comparison with 2017, Jan 2018 is cooler than the 2017 annual average (+0.635ºC) but not greatly cooler than the first half of 2017 (Jan to Jun averaged +0.58ºC) and warmer than the first half of 2015 (Jan to Jun 2015 averaged +0.48ºC).
    The last few years of global monthly TLT & surface temperature anomalies are plotted out HERE (usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’.)

    Looking ‘regionally’ at the RSS data, the Arctic continues from last month very warm, Northern mid-latitudes showing a recent warming, while the Tropics & Southern mid-latitudes a continued cooling.

  10. 10
    David B. Benson says:

    I am not a chemist but I would like to know the energetics of

    C + 2H2 –> CH4
    qualitatively. Exothermic?

  11. 11
    Thomas says:

    EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2017 (IEO2017) Reference case projects that energy-related CO2 emissions will grow 0.6% per year from 2015 to 2040, a slower rate of growth than the 1.8% per year experienced from 1990 to 2015.

    I am unsure how credible their assumptions are in this projection.

    I wish genuine renewable energy sources were always separated out from Hydro.

    eg in the second graph showing 125 Quad BTU – “Renewables are expected to be the fastest-growing energy source, with consumption increasing by an average 2.3% per year between 2015 and 2040. The world’s second fastest-growing source of energy is projected to be nuclear power, with consumption increasing by 1.5% per year over that period.”

    iow – total world energy consumption rises from 575 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2015 to 736 quadrillion Btu in 2040, an increase of 28%.

    Either way that Renewable with Hydro component is 125 QuadBTU in 2040 equals 17%. Versus today the figure is about 10%. see Hansen Global Energy Consumption in Fraction 2016

    An increase of 55 QuadBTU or 66% above today.

    Natural Gas increases almost the same amount +50 QuadBTU – iow Gas use is increasing each year as fast as “renewable & hydro” energy is – Oil also goes up significantly and Coal use remains the same.

    Remembering this EIA report only covers *energy use* and not total GHG emissions from all sources combined.

    Besides how does one then convert Quad BTU back into GtC or GtCO2 or MtOe or PgC or TW electricity supply in their own minds for comparison with other energy use and GHG emissions reports (without losing the plot)?

    (answer: become a climate scientist at Nasa? :-)

    Renewables energy consumption increasing by an average 2.3% per year between 2015 and 2040 is clearly not good – not “while the world’s GDP (expressed in purchasing power parity terms) rises by 3.0% per year from 2015 to 2040.”

    Reports like this are done in a way that makes such obvious failing comparisons difficult (to impossible) to notice that: Projected Renewable/Hydro Energy annual growth % out to 2040 is expected to be Less than GDP Growth per year. That’s not good.

    What does seem clear is that every 1 ppm increase in cumulative Atmospheric CO2 will increase Average and Maximum Temperatures and Ocean Acidity higher than they otherwise would have been. The short and long term Impacts from that are very bad.

  12. 12
    Thomas says:

    Compare with: “Renewables are the fastest growing fuel source, quadrupling over the next 20 years, supported by continuing gains in competitiveness” (to 2035)

  13. 13
    Thomas says:

    On a different subject: Annual Mean Growth Rate for Mauna Loa, Hawaii
    The table and the graph show annual mean carbon dioxide growth rates for Mauna Loa.

    What does ‘annual mean’ mean?
    A: “the middle point, state, or course between limits or extremes”

    year ppm/yr
    2008 1.57
    2009 2.02
    2010 2.32
    2011 1.92
    2012 2.61
    2013 2.02
    2014 2.18
    2015 3.03
    2016 2.98
    2017 2.13

    The annual mean rate of growth of CO2 in a given year is the difference in concentration between the end of December and the start of January of that year. If used as an average for the globe, it would represent the sum of all CO2 added to, and removed from, the atmosphere during the year by human activities and by natural processes.

    Seems straight forward enough.

    So if, hypothetically, human activities had instead cut CO2 emissions and increased CO2 SOC/Vegetation by a combined amount of 2.2GtC/year evenly across every month of 2017 then the Annual Mean Growth Rate for 2017 would have been about -0.27 PPM/Yr. (rough figures only)

    Something like that would be good news.

    If the same thing had happened in 2016, then the Annual mean Growth Rate would have been about +0.58 ppm/yr.

    Fantastic News to be hearing in a strong El Nino Year!

  14. 14
    Thomas says:

    a quick repeat:

    “These three tropical regions released 2.5 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011,” said Junjie Liu of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, who is lead author of the study.
    “Our analysis shows this extra carbon dioxide explains the difference in atmospheric carbon dioxide growth rates between 2011 and the peak years of 2015-16.”
    In 2015 and 2016, OCO-2 recorded atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) increases that were 50 percent larger than the average increase seen in recent years preceding these observations. These measurements are consistent with those made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That increase was about 3 parts per million of carbon dioxide per year — or 6.3 gigatons of carbon.

    In recent years, the average annual increase has been closer to 2 parts per million of carbon dioxide per year — or 4 gigatons of carbon.

    Best bit of info I have seen from Nasa or anyone in years. OCO-2 rocks! :-)

    So if you’re out on the ocean ans your boat is taking on 100 gallons of water per hour, and you can only bucket/pump out 95 gallons per hour then you have a problem.

    But it doesn’t matter how many gallons are in the ocean, nor how much before the boat is filled with water and sinks.

    The really important survival question though is how to either empty out up to another 5 Gallons per hour, and/or block the hole to stop up to another 5 Gallons getting in in the first place.

    Find a way to move that pointer by 6 Gallons per hour, and the boat will be emptied of water in about 100 hours – creating a completely different “system state”.

    The critical number here is the 5 and not the 100. Same principle applies to CO2 PPM. Doesn’t it?

  15. 15
    Thomas says:

    re “or 6.3 gigatons of carbon” – unclear if per year or total. I’ll check that later.

  16. 16
    Thomas says:

    and lastly … this little gem from late 2016, which relates back to queries recently about the accuracy of GHG emissions FF use numbers, and what the future may hold (if funded properly).

    This study was based on about a year-and-a-half of OCO-2 data. In the future, as the OCO-2 dataset becomes larger, we aim at studying the CO2 emissions in more detail and the results are expected to become more robust.

    and DOI: 10.1002/2016GL070885

  17. 17
    mike says:

    @Thomas: Hey, let’s just ignore Al Rodgers until he unknots his knickers. He’s just endless provocation at this point and life is too short to engage with him. I think Al does solid number work on temperatures.

    You and I know we are in a very bad spot with CO2 accumulation in oceans and atmosphere. We are watching the same datasets and I think we can discuss the implications without resorting to silly rants, name-calling, etc.

    You believe we will hit 410 by end of February, is that right? Want to engage with you and discuss this stuff without getting pulled into the sophomoric distractions.

    Feb 2017 had monthly average around 406.4 per my read of the chart at
    The four weekly averages for Feb 2017 were up and down with a spikey last week of the month followed by spikey drop (1st week March) followed by a spikey rise (2nd week March). First week of Feb 2018 looks like about 407.9 as I read the chart. First week of Feb 2017 looks about 406.2 ppm.



  18. 18
    Thomas says:

    #90 UV January Killian said: “It’s the extremes, stupid. – Me to self, @ 2011. We have centuries, though! Or maybe not.”

    I can go along with that Killian. In the 90s I too ‘got’ the idea that it’s ‘the Extremes and Tipping Points’ which was central to understanding why AGW/CC is so serious, so dangerous long term and incredibly insidious.

    While searching for that Killian quote post# to comment on it now, I found this other Quote by Killian in June 2017:
    “It’s the extremes, stupid.” Me. to self, 2011. Thus, “It’s the food supply, stupid.” – Me, to self, 2011, seconds later, after years of thinking energy or more general rapid climate changes were the primary concerns.

    Food Supply! So true! It only takes one extreme event at the worst time possible in the growing cycle to wipe out a years worth of food.

    Yet this issue gets so very little attention despite it being arguably the #1 Impact from AGW/CC – on land and in the oceans.

    I like comments like this by Killian because it moves the focus toward the most critical aspect of AGW/CC science in the ‘real world’ – Impacts!

    Unfortunately in most cases there is a conga line of ’cause/effect dominoes’ already lined up – ready to be pushed over.

    imho what most sensible well-balanced people would care about more or would be willing to learn about and understand better is when and how these Impacts will/could eventually hit home to the Region and Communities in which they live.

    People ‘do not get’ the Impact of 7 Meters of Sea level rise in the next thousands years or more. Especially not when the next person says sea level has only risen 7 millimetres in the last several decades.

    Nor do most people care about or comprehend the real world Impacts in numbers like keep below +1.5C or +2C or +4C in average temperatures by mid-century.

    Nor are the Swiss automatically concerned about the increasing destructive force of Carribean Hurricanes (unless they are major shareholders in Reinsurance) when they cannot see how that would Impact them or their descendants personally and directly.

    But they might be concerned if they understood AGW/CC driven global Food Shortages and how quickly their abundant Food Bowls will morph into permanent Dust Bowls when xyz occurs.

    Getting clearer about the How, What, When, Why and the extent of the Harm from specific Impacts on people and their local community/region might make ‘communication’ and ‘discussions’ about what to do about AGW/CC more fruitful? I don’t know.

    But what is most consistent about ‘AGW/CC discussions and action’ is a distinct lack of urgency!

    I suspect it will become a repeat moment of the 60 million Tatanka/Bison being wiped out on the Great Plains. Human nature being what it is.

    The difference between the Bison and what to do about AGW/CC today is that the Choice/Decision is still available as an option.

    And as Killian said: “We have centuries, though! Or maybe not.”

  19. 19
    Thomas says:

    17 mike asks: “You believe we will hit 410 by end of February, is that right?”

    In mid-January I thought it more likely than not, all things being equal, yes. And if it did, then that would be real close to +4ppm above the Jan-Feb Avg of ~406ppm in 2017.

    It was more the sudden jump/spike suddenly up to 409ppm in early January that really grabbed my attention. Since then I have noticed that the rise from Jan to Feb PPM is traditionally the lowest of the year – all things being equal. And given the current +/- waves it makes more sense now that late Feb will at least be 409. Nothing to stop it spiking up to 410ppm still, but now I think that’s unlikely … still, who knows? I didn’t expect 409ppm in early January either. Did you?

    Most things and news info I post here are interconnected in my mind. OCO-2 being one, EIA energy projections another.

    Temperatures and CO2 (ghg) concentrations are, imho, really important as Scientific Proxies for “real world climate change impacts” – whether those impacts are immediate or delayed is moot because: 1+1=2

    I have said here long ago that I thought PPM data was far more valuable than Temp readings and anomalies. That selecting Temps as the yardstick for the UNFCCC Goals is seriously flawed. (and probably with clear intent by the powers that be).

    Whereas PPM Data is immediate and accurately measurable and comparable to the ‘real world’ be it back to human emissions, be it sources, be it sinks, be it ocean acidity, be it climate forcing long term and more than anything the dynamics of PPM is easily explained and communicated as a Definitive Yardstick or success or failure in meeting Goals (imho).

    Temperature changes like the weather! It’s in our collective DNA – it gets warm, it gets cold, day and night winter and summer, it is NORMAL!

    And so we are not programmed to think that a long term +1.2C anomaly is significant – without really thinking about it. People do not like thinking – they like stuff being handed to them on a plate. :-)

    I have sat back observing your postings of PPM here for 2yrs(?) now, waiting to see a reaction and the ‘penny drop’.

    Every time PPM breaks a new record it’s another new Extreme (ty Killian) being ignored – more than that it’s the already Known Impacts of that PPM which is being ignored… and at times minimized beyond all reason and logic, imho.

    The OCO-2 data provides critical insight too. But it all depends on what “meaning” people derive form that Data. (and I don’t like telling other people what they should ‘think’ or conclude from xyz – I prefer people to think for themselves, or at least try first.)

    Making an exception here, one thing that the OCO-2 data “means” is that in about a single year 3 small regions on this planet can add the Equivalent of 63% of the total annual man-made GHG emissions to the atmosphere in one go!

    And that kind of extreme event is getting far worse and more common as we speak.

    Every PPM reading represents the Total Accumulated Atmospheric AGW/CC Forcing of the atmosphere.

    From where each of those CO2 molecules comes from is irrelevant – the effect and the down stream Impacts are exactly the same: 1+1=2.

    Total GHG Forcing is dependent on the TOTAL PPM of every Gas in every moment of every day.

    The rest is Maths and waiting for the Impacts to manifest. 1+1=2. It’s not important who wins the prize for “guessing” correctly precisely “when” 2 happens.

    Nor is it important if people rail about someone being wrong that “2” didn;t happen when they thought it might.

    eg complaining about Waddhams’ forecasts ‘timing’ being wrong – what’s the real issue is that summer Arctic Sea Ice WILL hit zero soon enough – it’s GUARANTEED in fact!

    Fairly recently the IPCC AR5 reports were still ‘forecasting’ the summer ASI would persist right to the end of this century. And they are the “experts”?

    When it does happen it will be already TOO LATE for a whole lot of other things critical to AGW/CC, to PPM and to Temperatures and to Extreme events and our Food Supply long term.

    Because 1+1=2

    Well, imho it does. :-)

  20. 20
    Killian says:

    #17 mike said @Thomas: Hey, let’s just ignore Al Rodgers until he unknots his knickers. He’s just endless provocation at this point and life is too short to engage with him.

    It’s not just me, then… finally.

    I think Al does solid number work on temperatures.

    I don’t know if you were here or if you recall, but I used to do similar CO2 tracking to what you do, Mike. I stopped doing it partly due to you doing it.

    For my part, I find the extremes more interesting and more important because they drive phase changes and damage. Based on last year, we should see at least 412 as an average for May. Peak daily could be in the 413 range. Of course, I think there is more going on than is reported. For example, if we are plateauing, such things rarely happen in a linear fashion, so we should expect a saw tooth line, not a flat line, so any given yer could be an increase. More than that, if we are plateauing/decreasing and CH4 emissions, e.g., are increasing, we would see a flat to slightly increasing total ACO2 and ACH4.

    Should be interesting in this cooler winter, but with much lower ASI than is normal. And that may be the key. Much of the CH4 release actually happens in non-summer months, as well as heat content release to the atmosphere as water freezes.

    All ain’t so simple as some would have us believe.

  21. 21
    nigelj says:

    Looking at Mikes useful table of rates of emissions growth over various time frames. My understanding is the world has had reduced emissions since 2014, but it hasn’t shown up in the keeling curve atmospheric concentrations because its been obscured by the big 2015 el nino generating a lot of CO2 related to forests etc. Is that it?

    Mike said that 2017 hasnt had the drop off in atmospheric CO2 apparent after the 1998 el nino. The 2015 el nino would have had a delayed effect into 2017, for various reasons and maybe more so than the 1998 el nino, and remember 2017 was enso neutral and 1999 was a big la nina. Or the world resumed high emissions in 2017 which is entirely likely.

    The point is we don’t really know whats going on looking at one year. I hazard a guess we will only really know if lower emissions is translating to change in the keeling curve with about 5 – 10 years of data to get beyond all the noise.

  22. 22
    Killian says:

    #11 Thomas said EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2017 (IEO2017) Reference case projects that energy-related CO2 emissions will grow 0.6% per year from 2015 to 2040, a slower rate of growth than the 1.8% per year experienced from 1990 to 2015.

    I am unsure how credible their assumptions are in this projection.

    My own characterization of the reports from various sources from my years on the oil drum would put the EIA at the bottom of the list for accuracy. The IEA ws slightly better, being international, and “got religion” WRT climate and PO duing the last years of the oil drum. Thanks might have returned to form, though, since then.

    That is, take any energy/emissions report with a grain of sand. Look to the numbers, not their analyses, and even then realize the numbers are basically smoke and mirrors. What we can *know* is what is measured at Mauna Loa, et al.

  23. 23
    Thomas says:

    20 Killian “For my part, I find the extremes more interesting and more important because they drive phase changes and damage.”

    Me too. They can signal coming extreme events (somewhere), indicate where the average is actually “heading” in near future, and signals system step changes aka tipping points dead ahead.

    eg 1998 was an outlier. Now the same kind of data for 1998 is the norm. Ha, it was only a +0.9C anomaly. The good old days!

    Global Temps today during a neutral/La Nina phase are as high as they were during El Ninos in the 1980s & 90s!

    (or was that the 60s/70s? sorry under data overload atm).

  24. 24
    Thomas says:

    Mike, one could try this too. Separate out the CO2 ppm Minimums. What does that ‘data’ say?

    2011 10 2011.792 389.00 (Yes, October)
    2012 9 2012.708 391.11 +2.11 (record ASI Minimum year)
    2013 9 2013.708 393.45 +2.34
    2014 9 2014.708 395.38 +1.93
    2015 9 2015.708 397.63 +2.25 (El Nino declared in May w Max 403.96 ppm)
    2016 9 2016.708 401.03 +3.40 (El Nino declared over in May)
    2017 9 2017.708 403.38 +2.35

    Avg annual growth rate +2.40 ppm versus 1990-1998 it is +1.12 ppm
    Compare May 2015 with Sept 2017 (over 28 months is -0.58 ppm)
    Compare May 1998 with Sept 2000 (over 28 months is -2.42 ppm)

    The evolution of the 2015/16 El Niño
    The two strongest El Niños of the 20th century were those of 1982/83 and 1997/98, each of which was considered at the time a ‘once-in-a-century’ event.

    The El Niño of 2015/16 is in the same class as those of 1982/83 and 1997/98, and it set new records in the NINO4 and NINO3.4 regions in the western and central Pacific.



  25. 25
    Thomas says:

    Note to self: ‘once-in-a-century’ … three times in 36 years.

    What do the ocean scientists say about the massive global bleaching events of late?

  26. 26
    CCHolley says:

    David B. Benson @10

    I am not a chemist but I would like to know the energetics of

    C + 2H2 –> CH4
    qualitatively. Exothermic?

    Not a chemist, but making bonds is exothermic.

    Qualitative for methane formation:

  27. 27
    MA Rodger says:

    A message or two for the CO2 rocketeers.
    Projecting weekly February CO2 levels.
    If you could be bothered to look (which is unlikely as you appear content to describe it all as “spikey” and thus why I step in to inform), you would see we’ve had five years since 2000 with a February weekly CO2 level more than 1.5ppm above the January monthly average. But all were El Nino years or those with El-Nino-like characteristics (2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2005).
    And in the strong La Nina years (2014, 2011, 2008, 2000) you don’t even see a single February weekly CO2 level 1.0ppm or more above the January monthly average.
    So with an expectation of January 2018 CO2=408.0ppm and no El Nino, there appears very little chance of a 410ppm week occuring in February 2018, even when the average is rounded up into whole ppms.
    Projecting monthly CO2 levels for February
    As for the February monthly averages, according to Thomas@3 they rise an average of 0.86ppm relative to Janurary (which is perhaps a little high although it is also described by Thomas@3 incorrectly as ”The lowest increase of CO2 from one month to the next.“ Within the average annual cycle there are of course negative ‘increases’ the lowest being the July-August at -2.0ppm. However, there is often a ‘flat-spot’ within the rising annual cycle occuring through February/March).
    The range on-record of Jan-to-Feb CO2 rises is +1.52ppm to +0.16ppm. Of these, 25% lie above +1.0ppm including five years since 2000 (2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2005. This sequence should be familiar). And 25% lie below +0.5ppm, including five years since 2000 (2017, 2015, 2014, 2008, 2000) with a sixth 2011 making +0.53ppm.
    Thus I would suggest there appears little chance of even a +1.0ppm average CO2 for February 2018. (Indeed, such a prospect is certainly not helped by February kicking off with a half a week averaging 0.05ppm below the January average.)

  28. 28
    MA Rodger says:

    Thomas @19.
    In regard to CO2, you tell us ”And that kind of extreme event is getting far worse and more common as we speak.” The ”kind of extreme event” you refer to was a powerful El Nino which boosts atmospheric CO2 levels by reducing CO2 uptake by the biosphere. In this regard, do you have evidence for powerful El Ninos ”getting far worse”? Do you have evidence for powerful El Ninos becoming ”more common as we speak”? The OCO-2 project you referred to up-thread may with time provide answers. The MLO CO2 monitoring may provide some support for what you assert, but it is not immediately apparent to me.

  29. 29
    Ron Taylor says:

    Observing sea surface temperature anomalies on the NOAA website, the first thing that stands out is the weak La Nina in the equatorial Pacific. Also striking is the consistent presence around the globe of warm bands at latitudes of roughly 40deg north and 40deg south, with cool anomalies beyond. Of course you cannot draw too much from a single data point, but I have been noticing this for several weeks. It would seem to indicate that warmer water that should be reaching the higher latitudes is not getting there, which may in turn indicate a global slowing of overturning circulation. It seems significant that it is happening simultaneously in both the southern and northern hemispheres, suggesting freshening in deep/bottom water formation zones, which would be slow enough to dampen seasonal effects. Does this make sense?

  30. 30
    mike says:

    K at 20: No, it’s not just you. The key to having a civil discussion is to not personalize agreements and/or get a lot of ego invested in what are truly, pretty small disagreements.

    T at 18: “But what is most consistent about ‘AGW/CC discussions and action’ is a distinct lack of urgency!” Boy, you got that right. It’s amazing that so many folks who understand and accept the basic science are willing to roll the dice on less-than-urgent responses to the situation or waste time and solidarity in badgering folks who are having URGENT day in the life. To some extent it’s like driving the freeways, you are always surrounded by maniacs who want to go too fast and idiots who want to go too slow. Maybe we need to be careful and form alliances with a broader range of folks than just the ones that want to travel at exactly our speed. I think that alliance stuff is just simply being respectful with the communication whenever possible. Avoid the personal attacks, don’t fall into the “someone’s wrong on the internet” trap. Just let it go and have a civil conversation and build alliances with folks who agree that the CO2 accumulation in atmosphere and oceans is a big problem and not engage too much (or at all) with folks who seem to be having a bad day and want to grind an online axe to achieve internal tranquility.

    On CO2: Thomas, I don’t think we will get to 410 by end of Feb. I could be wrong. Not a big deal, the number right now is too darn high. The number at the end of Feb is going to be too darn high. We should feel a great deal of urgency about these numbers. Reports of falling emissions are great, but even if they are accurate, the reductions are not on the scale needed to address the problem. It’s a start, but we should be observing a global response that would really crash the emission numbers instead of possibly reducing the rate of increase or producing several years of flat emission numbers. If we saw a real crash of emissions we would see a change in CO2 accumulation numbers within a few years. If we taper slowly, then we are probably looking at a decade before we will be able to tease out a flattening of the rate of increase.

    People get enthused about falling emission reports or they produce studies and papers about how to communicate the science better. I suppose these things are fine, but if the changes are so small that it will take a decade to see the change in actual accumulation of CO2 (and CO2e) in the biosphere, I think the change is not happening at the scale required. Insufficient sense of urgency can be disastrous. Communicate that! or don’t. It will become more apparent every year.

    Aside from watching the CO2(e) numbers, another meaningful direct measure of our plight is the condition of the Arctic sea ice. As the sea ice disappears, the albedo of the planet changes and the great white north becomes the great warm north. I think Wadhams said loss of arctic sea ice by 2016 give or take 3 years. We are still in his window and Arctic sea ice is looking tattered. Should we stand back and hope we can laugh at Wadhams in 2020 or should we start working on upping the sense of urgency that will help us really crash the emission numbers and avoid the outcome that Wadhams has predicted?

    And look around. What does the US Govt want to put energy and dollars into? The Wall? and an updated nuclear arsenal? I think this is not a problem of science communication, this is a trap of human nature that we need to address.

    Solidarity! Civility! Intersectionality!

    But, hey, what do I know?



  31. 31
    Thomas says:

    Welcome to Sydney Gavin!

    Have a great time!!!

    And congrats to Matthew England …

    World’s top weather, climate and ocean experts meet at UNSW

  32. 32
    nigelj says:

    MA Rodger @28

    As far as I’m aware there’s no strong evidence el nino has become more powerful to date, but the following research predicts el nino will become more intense as the climate warms:

  33. 33
    Killian says:

    I deeply, fervently hope that “Intersectionality” will soon be stricken from the universe. It is stupid jargon.

    “Intersectionality is a theory which considers that the various aspects of humanity, such as class, race, sexual orientation and gender, do not exist separately from each other, but are complexly interwoven, and that their relationships are essential to an understanding of the human condition.”

    Note to jargonistas: This is called common sense and/or existence. Please stop giving people more to argue about.

  34. 34
    Thomas says:

    good paper nigelj, here’s another:
    posted in January in various contexts: and here and here

    “Previous research strongly suggested the atmospheric response to ENSO would intensify over the tropical ocean as the world warmed,” said lead author and PhD student from the University of New South Wales Sarah Perry.

    “Our new work suggests that in the future we will not only see an increase in the intensity of ENSO impacts over the ocean, but these impacts of La Niña and El Niño would be felt over a more extensive area of land, including over Australia, South America and Africa.”

    But this is besides the point of what I think is important. btw, I am the expert in knowing what I am referring to. ok? :-)

    I really hope Sarah Perry et al gets the opportunity to meet Gavin while he’s in Sydney!!!

  35. 35
    Thomas says:

    30 mike, all good.

    re “Reports of falling emissions are great, but even if they are accurate, the reductions are not on the scale needed to address the problem.”

    One the science links I posted recently (?) had “energy” emissions dead flat (On a graph) for all 2014, 2015, 2016 …. and we’ve heard reports about 2017 were increasing again.

    However, not all emissions reports ‘capture’ (pun intended) the total GHG forcings out there in the big world. Energy is only part of the total and not the total. the devil is in the details, and the quality of the analysis being done and by whom.

    Then one should also be asking why Hansen & Gavin et al in their 2017 specifically state in one simple sentence that it’s well known that “GHG Forcing” is increasing (including in 2017)? (posted a link to that a cpl of times too).

    Too many cooks spoil the broth and so does too many “new reports” about so many “new papers and letters” being published. KISS?

    Recently saw summary of climate science related papers published each year and may have posted the link here. Maybe 5 years ago was ~4000 papers per year now up to 16,500 papers a year.

    Finding the “kind of up-to-date quality papers” one is seeking on Google scholar etc these days is becoming increasingly difficult versus 5 years ago.

    This is one of the reasons why, folks like Trump have no problem stating the complete opposite of the truth about global sea ice “records” and gets away with it….. so much now is simply lost in the noise of politics and arguments and social media tweeting inside a totally clogged cyberspace. (imho at least)

    If someone heard what Trump said, and they wanted to check it against “authoritative/credible orgs like NASA, NOAA and the IPCC reports, they’d find that “current scientific consensus there” is that ASI may not be anywhere near summer ice free until the 2090s ……

    How to cut through? I have no idea. While a simple number like CO2(e) ppm speaks volumes all by itself in a way that almost anyone could easily understand (all things being equal).

    But, hey, what do I know? :-)

  36. 36
    Thomas says:

    typo ” Hansen & Gavin et al in their 2017 Global Temps paper specifically state…. “

  37. 37
    Racetrack Playa says:

    @ 10 David B. Benson says:

    C + 2H2 –> CH4
    qualitatively. Exothermic

    “C” isn’t a chemical species; this kind of reaction has to happen in liiquid (or gas phase) and for that, “C” can be in a couple of forms. Standard microbial methanogenesis is exothermic but inhibited by oxygen. Those reactions are generally:

    CO2 + 4 H2 → CH4 + 2 H2O
    CH3COOH → CH4 + CO2
    This kind of anaerobic degradation of organic carbon in melting permafrost generates methane, However, it’s hard to assign energetics in detail to these processes since there are other microbes involved. . .
    “Energetics of syntrophic cooperation in methanogenic degradation. (1997)”

    Somewhat similar industrial synthesis gas reactions are strongly exothermic, for example:
    2H2 + CO → CH3OH
    CO2 + 3H2O → CH3OH + H2O
    CO + H2O → CO2 + H2

    Etc. But what I guess you’re really asking is if CO2 + 4H2 → CH4 + 2 H2O is exothermic?

  38. 38
    Thomas says:

    29 Ron Taylor, re SSTs – if time permits, have a browse of the asif,2141.750.html

    and follow credible refs to data etc. but it mentions warm atlantic waters pushing into the arctic recently, huge waves, a cyclone, air temps 12 to 30C above normal in some regions, and record below avg asi for January and today.

    Beware being sucked into a massive out of control data vortex in the process (smile)

  39. 39
    Thomas says:

    32 Nigelj, and check my #24 may not have been there when you posted.

    The El Niño of 2015/16 is in the same class as those of 1982/83 and 1997/98, and it (2015/16 ElNino) set new records in the NINO4 and NINO3.4 regions in the western and central Pacific.


    emphasis added fwiw.

  40. 40
    Mr. Know It All says:

    11 – Thomas
    “I am unsure how credible their assumptions are in this projection.”

    C’mon Thomas, you can trust the government:

    Many comments above about lack of urgency. This really is the problem. In the day and age of the internet do we really need scientists flying 1/2 way around the world to Australia to some kind of conference. No urgency to curb their own emissions. People around the world spending their scarce resources (money) on frivolous crap like smart phones, 60 inch TVs, granite counter tops, stainless appliances, 21″ wheels for their car, and the list goes on forever. If they had ANY sense of urgency they could spend those scarce resources on PV panels, inverters, batteries, efficient appliances, etc. AND they could carpool to work; nope – not willing to lift a finger! They’re happy to point at Trump and say “It’s that idiots fault!”, but not willing to lift a finger of their own. No urgency. Sad. But there is hope:


  41. 41
    Thomas says:

    #30 a correction to my reply re Hansen, I made a memory error there sorry, was not re “2017” quoting verbatim:

    “The growth rate of greenhouse gas climate forcing has accelerated in the past decade.3”

    3 ref is from 2017: Young people’s burden: Requirement of negative CO2 emissions.

    eg “Further, Earth is out of energy balance with present atmospheric composition, implying that more warming is in the pipeline, and we show that the growth rate of greenhouse gas climate forcing has accelerated markedly in the past decade.”

    ” Such targets now require “negative emissions”, i.e., extraction of CO2 from the air. If phase down of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content, may provide much of the necessary CO2 extraction.” (my emphasis)

    “Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both.”

    Which makes it a major moral issue.

  42. 42
    MA Rodger says:

    nigelj @32,
    Concerning more powerful El Nino, the conventional wisdom is surely that the amplitude of ENSO will not be the big feature for the ENSO phenomenon. Rather it will be the effects of ENSO that impact across the world that will be amplified in a warmer world. From IPCC AR5 TS.5.8.3:-

    “There is high confidence that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will remain the dominant mode of natural climate variability in the 21st century with global influences in the 21st century, and that regional rainfall variability it induces likely intensifies. Natural variations of the amplitude and spatial pattern of ENSO are so large that confidence in any projected change for the 21st century remains low. The projected change in El Niño amplitude is small for both RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 compared to the spread of the change among models.”

    (Concerning the intensification of ENSO effects (rather than the intensification of ENSO), this latter point is being made by Perry et al (2017) although specifically that the impacts will be spread wider rather than more intensely. And I should mention that Thomas has been waving this one ENSO paper about rather a lot over the last month.)

    What is interesting is that there has been an obvious increase in El Nino intensity and reduction in La Nina under the post-1980 AGW, (as this MEI graph illustrates) Discussion of it is presumably disappeared within discussion of the PDO or IPO.
    And none of this yet considers the frequency of big El Ninos. Cai et al (2014) use selected GCMs and find under AGW extreme El Nino turn from being one-in-sixty-year events to one-in-fifteen-year events which is pretty-much what we have seen since 1980.
    And Cai et al (2015) repeat the work for La Nina suggesting one-in-23-year events becoming one-in-13-year events.

    However, in all this I struggle to see any evidence for “that kind of extreme event … getting far worse and more common as we speak.”
    No. That isn’t wrong. The quoted line is from Thomas @19 and as Thomas has shown himself such a poor source of comment on things-AGW, if I read his comments at all, I no longer struggle to make sense of any of his nonsense. Rather, I take the obvious interpretation as being the only interpretation.
    I note @34 Thomas is happy to state ” I am the expert in knowing what I am referring to. ok? :-) “ He may be able to name what he is referring-to (and to fail in that would be utter failure), but he tends not to demonstrate any understanding of what he is referring-to.
    (To illustrate, Thomas is happy to cut&paste a quote like “The two strongest El Niños of the 20th century were those of 1982/83 and 1997/98, each of which was considered at the time a ‘once-in-a-century’ event.” Yet would Thomas be aware that this is a secondary quote from Michelle L’Heureux of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center but that the context in which it was made appears worryingly obscure?)

  43. 43
    Thomas says:

    re #3
    January 2018 confirmed as setting a new world record for January Avg. Mean CO2 of 407.98 ppm

    – aka 408 ppm rounded

  44. 44
    nigelj says:

    MA Rodger @42, thanks for the information. I agree with a lot of stuff you post and contradictions and problems you point out in what others post.

    However Im now confused on this el nino issue. The IPCC statement seems to indicate that the IPCC don’t predict a significant change in el nino itself, but the other data you mentioned suggests intensity of el ninos has increased significantly since 1980, and that the frequency of large el ninos will increase which is a similar thing. Thomas posted similar research to the later so I cant see what he has said thats wrong on this el nino thing.

    It all appears contradictory.

  45. 45
    mike says:

    Models Coming into Agreement on Widespread Effects of Arctic Sea Ice Loss

    Bob Henson piece seems right on the mark to me.


  46. 46
    mike says:

    Sheldon Walker offers compromise or he will bite your ankles at Tamino. That’s funny.
    forget facts, let’s talk compromise. When folks make themselves look ridiculous, let’s celebrate their hubris.

  47. 47
    Killian says:

    [edit – just stop. If you can’t deal with substantive points without insults, don’t bother.]

  48. 48
    mike says:

    I wonder if people may be making too much of the EN and LN cycles. I think these are simply features of global climate that are embedded and as predictable as other large features like hurricane patterns, the gulf stream, the jet stream, sea ice extent and mass, global glacial conditions, sea level etc.

    My own sense of the EN/LN pulse is that it’s just a somewhat predictable periodic wobble in the relentless trend of upward temp and CO2. Once the heat and/or CO2 has pulsed into the atmosphere and oceans, the heat and CO2 are with us for a long time to come. We know what we have to do, right? We have to reduce CO2 accumulation in atmosphere and ocean or face more heat and increased ocean acidification. That’s the ball game. It’s not about slowing the rate of increase, though that would indicate we are making progress. We have to make the needle stand still, then start going down. Keep your eyes on the prize.

    Anyone have thoughts on those suggestions? I recognize that some folks track the extremes and look at how the extremes are likely to impact and force change. For that purpose and to the extent that it is true that an extreme will trigger a significant change in state, it makes sense to look hard at the extremes that occur with a big EN event like 1998 or 2016, but otherwise, I think it’s just a wobble that we can observe over and over in the record and expect to continue in the future as a regular feature of the changing environment. It should also be apparent that we have sped up change with an amazing burp of CO2 into the biosphere over the past few centuries (a blink of the eye in the time periods being considered).



  49. 49
  50. 50
    nigelj says:

    Mike @48

    I was just interested in whether el nino would get more intense as the climate warms. It would intuitively seem that warmer oceans could have some effect on its index, or timing or how it behaves. Maybe a naive question. At this stage the issue seems a bit murky as to what might happen. Anyway its just curiosity on my part.

    I live in a small island nation that is quite strongly affected by el ninos and la ninas with drought etc. If they become more intense it’s an issue.

    I agree el nino is basically a wobble, and the main thing is what you say about CO2 and getting the keeling curve to bend down etcetera. Until atmospheric levels of CO2 move over perhaps a decade long, we cant be sure we are really reducing emissions.

    Having said this, I think estimates of emissions are probably about 75% reliable, which is of at least some use.

Leave a Reply

Comment policy.