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Unforced Variations: Jan 2019

Filed under: — group @ 1 January 2019

This year’s first open thread on climate science topics. Usual rules apply – and let’s make a particular effort to stay substantive and not devolve into empty bickering (you still have Facebook for that).

Any expectations or predictions for climate science in 2019?

248 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Jan 2019”

  1. 151
    SecularAnimist says:

    With all due respect to Ray Ladbury, to say that science is “the only reliable way of knowing” is a mere truism.

  2. 152
    carrie says:

    Recent Daily Average Mauna Loa CO2

    January 20: 413.21 ppm
    January 19: 412.14 ppm
    January 18: 410.26 ppm
    January 17: 409.90 ppm

    142 MA Rodger – you need help! Please get some.

  3. 153
    Carrie's a Canary in the Coal Mine says:

    Recent Global CO2 Trend

    January 20: 408.87 ppm
    January 19: 408.86 ppm
    January 18: 408.86 ppm
    January 17: 408.85 ppm
    January 16: 408.84 ppm

    The Global numbers are no good because they are ‘smoothed’

    The MLO numbers are no good because they aren’t ‘smoothed’

    The weekly and monthly numbers are no good because they are only ‘cherry-picked’ weekly and monthly variations.

    The annual numbers are no good because they include El Nino surges and La Nina drops.

    Some days even the Decadal numbers are not good enough either with or without ENSO removed.

    While the CO2 Growth Trend no matter how it is presented remains utterly ‘unreliable’ to some people no matter what ‘comparison’ is being used.

    It depends on ones mood and that ‘OCD’ stone in their shoe.

  4. 154
    MartinJB says:

    Carrie (@152): Hey, it’s a noisy signal! Who knew?

  5. 155
    nigelj says:

    Carrie @152, I’m not sure 4 days of CO2 data are long enough to conclude much, just in the same way that 4 cold days in a row doesnt mean global warming is cancelled. CO2 levels do vary a lot on a daily basis, have a look at this its right up to date:

  6. 156
    Killian says:

    Re #154 MartinJB said Carrie (@152): Hey, it’s a noisy signal! Who knew?

    This is moving beyond noisy. We’re seeing sustained elevated levels we normally would not see for another two months.

    It’s amazing how few here pay enough attention to long-tail events. I think the issue lies in taking science too literally and making it too monolithic such that other areas of thought are considered irrelevant. However, there are two sides to this: Science and policy. Policy for everyday issues is correctly guided by mid-range of risk. But emergency policy must be based on long-tail risks, as with over-engineering to avoid failure.

    Climate Change/Global Warming/Climate Chaos, what have you, is always necessarily an issue of science and risk. These are not the days of Einstein playing with theories because it was interesting, we are working with real changes in the real world in real time to avoid collapse and/or mass extinction.

    Some of you need to adjust your perspectives, imo.

  7. 157
    Mike Roberts says:

    I was just wondering about albedo. I’m thinking that the ultimate determination of warming (assuming a constant flow of energy from the Sun) is the concentrations of various GHGs in the atmosphere. Does albedo merely affect the rate of warming rather than the ultimate warming that will result from particular concentrations of various GHGs in the air? Now. a changing albedo may have other effects which affect those concentrations, but, ignoring those, for now, does albedo affect ultimate warming or just the rate of warming (which is still very important, of course)?

  8. 158
    Killian says:

    Well… goddamnit!

    At heart, because I know with absolute certainty simplification can fix this… or maybe it’s could have… I don’t usually despair over bad clinate news, but hitting Hansen, et al.’s theoretical 5-year doublibg times already?

    That’s… depressing….

    I need to hug my kid and try not to cry…

    So, blog owners, are these numbers viable?

    The authors found that ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. After a lull in 2013-14, losses have resumed.

  9. 159
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Secular Animist: “With all due respect to Ray Ladbury, to say that science is “the only reliable way of knowing” is a mere truism.”

    I’m open to suggestions, but given the human propensity toward self-delusion, I’m not optimistic.

  10. 160

    #147-149 (Epistemology)–

    Glad you found my comments worth commenting on–if only, in the case of zebra, rather dismissively. They were, as I acknowledged, OT, though responsive to previous comments on science.

    So I’ll hazard a few quick followup observations.

    First, let me clarify that I’m in no way attacking, denying nor negating what science can do. Scientific ways of knowing, as I already said, should receive more weight–radically more weight–in our society. America, and perhaps not only America, has a real epistemological crisis on its hands. (My aunt gave me a T-shirt for Christmas this year that punningly calls it a problem of “truth decay”.)

    The current government shutdown is a prime example. Its stated reason for existing is to address a “crisis” of immigration. However, examining the data–a way of ‘knowing’ that, while perhaps not strictly “scientific” in all respects is certainly scientific in spirit and to a considerable extent in methodology–do not support the ‘crisis’ idea: immigration apprehensions are down by 80% from levels seen in the early part of the present century, despite the facts that the Border Patrol now boasts a staff 5x former levels, funding 12x former levels, and hundreds of miles of physical barriers have already been added to impede would-be immigrants. In fact, the number of border apprehensions in 2017–the most recent year for which CBP has reported statistics–was the lowest since 1971. In my opinion, those facts are very difficult to square with any reasonable definition of the term ‘crisis.’

    Second, it must be admitted that just what constitutes a “crisis” cannot be a scientific question–though science may well have many useful things to say about it–because, in its essence, it is a question about values. Pace Objectivists and those adhering to other forms of positivist thought, you can’t found values on a strictly logical basis because you always need postulated foundations. (Of course, many highly logical systems of values exist, with varying degrees of logical rigor (some highly self-consistent). Their conclusions, however, differ in accordance with diversity of their postulates.)

    Here, I’m pointing to a second category of ‘knowing’ that can’t be determined scientifically (though, again, science may be able to usefully inform investigations in the area–and in fact, if I were try to develop an ethical system, I would build scientific knowledge into its very foundations. They just wouldn’t be the sole structural material.)

    I didn’t address it in the previous comment, partly for brevity, and partly because, while ethical knowledge is I think, real and important, in relation to Ray’s comment, it fails the ‘reliability’ test. That is, while various commenters here (as elsewhere) have ethical values that they themselves consider reliable, quite evidently none is considered reliable by all. (For what I find to be a fairly extreme instance, some time ago, I received negative feedback for objecting to comments which seemingly advocated murder–they were defended by some as putatively ‘playful’ in intent.)

    I mention it here nevertheless, because while a sufficiently universal ethical system may not exist to reasonably call ethics ‘reliable’–despite wide agreements on many specific ethical questions–operationalized ethical knowledge remains indispensible for social functioning. “Can’t trust it, but you still gotta have it.” I think that’s one of those things that come under the heading of “the human condition.” Cf., snark’s:

    If it’s something that is of critical importance, you need to rely on science.

    Yes, but sadly, you can’t do so exclusively. At some point, you’re stuck with your own ethical decision as to what you think is important–not to mention the fact that there will always be somebody out there who disagrees with it. (For instance, we’ve all seen comments, from time to time, to the effect that human extinction perhaps wouldn’t be such a bad thing in the big view. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that to the extent such comments are really meant seriously, they constitute the view of a tiny minority. The point here is that the person advocating this idea may in principle be scientifically impeccable on all related topics.)

    Lastly, and returning to the realm of the practical knowledge which I spoke of in the previous comment, I’d like to respond to a couple of specific comments.


    I would say playing a guitar is knowledge of a skill, and this is not the same as scientific analysis. In other words it is knowing how, not knowing why.

    Exactly my point: I don’t mean to obfuscate the distinction between operational knowledge (~ = “skill”) and conceptual, formalized knowledge–but I do insist that skill is, in fact, knowledge; is in fact highly reliable; and is in fact indispensable.


    Well, computers are healing patients as we speak–in some cases more effectively than human physicians.

    I myself wouldn’t say that–I would put it, rather, that “They are *diagnosing* patients now, and in some cases more effectively than human physicians.” The healing remains, for now at least, a team effort involving the entire medical assemblage of nurses, techicians and even administrators as well as physicians, all of whom evince their own particular sets of skills.

    Can AI, in principle or in practice, reproduce all of these skills in the future? Maybe–I expect to see autonomous vehicles on the streets far outdoing human drivers in respect of safety in my lifetime, and driving is a pretty complex real-world skill set. Why not automated lab testing, administration and even nursing, in principle? But it’s nevertheless unclear to me that what produces an effect is necessarily the same as that effect. Should we have AI healing end-to-end, perhaps we could write the symbolic equation:

    Science = AI = Practical Medicine

    But that wouldn’t undo the equally defensible equation:

    Biological life = Human intelligence = Practical Medicine

    So we’d have a bit of a categorical conundrum, it would seem–even if we posit that future all-AI medicine may get better results. Efficacy isn’t raw existence. Which, if you think about it, is also a response to snark’s comment that:

    I think it is too early to proscribe boundaries where science is and is not profitable.

    (IOW, I’m not so prescribing.)

    This seems to me to be a bit of a rabbit hole, and I don’t want to plunge too deeply into it. (Perhaps I already have.)

    But I do feel a bit of a concern that if we reify scientific knowledge too much, we commit once again the intellectual sin Herman Daly identified in the field of economics, and which he dubbed “the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” Its essence is that we forget that our abstracted ideas are in fact abstractions, and begin to work with them as if they were concrete realities. In the process, we lose vital information (or, as in the case of economics, fail to incorporate vital new information that bears on our project–such as the fact of human dependence on functioning ecosystems.)

  11. 161
    Mal Adapted says:

    Holy crap! Record Numbers of Americans Say They Care About Global Warming, Poll Finds. Trump is credited:

    The changes in public opinion over the last year were also tied to politics, Dr. Leiserowitz said, and to the efforts of President Trump to deny the scientific evidence of climate change.

    “Every time he talks about climate change he drives more media attention to the exact issue,” Dr. Leiserowitz said.

    Who says there’s no good news in the major meeja 8^D? To be sure, this news is only good compared to previous polls. It’s not like we Americans are actually reducing our fossil carbon emissions, in fact we are increasing them 8^(.

  12. 162
    Mal Adapted says:

    Secular Animist:

    With all due respect to Ray Ladbury, to say that science is “the only reliable way of knowing” is a mere truism.

    I wouldn’t call Ray’s remark a “mere truism”. IMHO, it can be unpacked as “Science is the only way of knowing our species has yet invented that’s more reliable than divination with a sheep’s liver.” While that’s true, apparently it’s not broadly self-evident enough to be a truism 8^(.

  13. 163
    MA Rodger says:

    Killian @158,
    Aren’t you a little out-of-date with this Greenland melting stuff? The proposed 5-year doubling period of Greenland ice loss was proposed by Hansen & Sato (2012) (see their Fig 8) precisely because of that GRACE 2002-2009 data. We now await the successor to GRACE to come on-stream but the GRACE data 2002-2016 doesn’t show a continued acceleration past 2012 but rather a deceleration.
    In other words, to re-quote the paper featured by the article you link to, “The authors found that ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. After a lull in 2013-14, losses have resumed.” Note that the ‘resumed losses’ are not up to 2012 rates.

  14. 164
    Carrie says:

    154 MartinJB says: “Carrie (@152): Hey, it’s a noisy signal! Who knew?”

    Well I knew and have always known that. Kinda strange some people, especially MA Rodger and nigel feel the compulsive need to have to point it out as if only they are the possesses of great wisdom and have an ability to “read numbers” in context. It’s really weird actually.

    I meran hey, it;s not like this is my first post here or the first time I have posted daily numbers for CO2. (wink)

    Yet #155 nigelj comes up with even more amazing “insights”:

    “Carrie @152, I’m not sure 4 days of CO2 data are long enough to conclude much, just in the same way that 4 cold days in a row doesn’t mean global warming is cancelled.”

    NO kidding! Gosh nigel we’d all be lost without you setting me straight like that.

    “CO2 levels do vary a lot on a daily basis,”

    No kidding? Really? Shit I had no idea. What an idiot I am. (shaking my head in disbelief and awe at your brilliance nigel)

    “….have a look at this its right up to date:

    Dead set? And where do you think I get the daily, weekly, monthly numbers from the last decade and some Nigel? The back of a fruit loops packet at breakfast time or ??? Guess!

    Are you OK, or is that you never really pay any attention to what people post here when you comment on what they’ve posted? You’re a strange fish.

    I also take it that you never pay any attention to unseasonal out of the ordinary daily/weekly temps, nor ever notice when high temperature records are being set – when there are catastrophic fires and what might have led to them in the days and weeks preceding?

    Mmmm, I’ll let you and MA Rodger in with a little secret. Please don’t tell anyone. I already know daily CO2 readings are noisy. They go up, they go down, they go sideways. Weekly are less noisy, and monthly are less noisy and yearly are even less noisy.

    In fact I can look at all those different kinds of numbers all at the same time and not get lost. iow I can still work out what they all mean all at the very same time. But not only that I can hold the concept of a 4 days spread of daily numbers and still keep an eye on the previous years numbers as well for CONTEXT and Perspective.

    Unbelievable hey?

    Gosh I can even factor in the influence of a current El Nino upon the numbers and not get lost without even using a spreadsheet. Far out hey. Not too bad for an idiot.

  15. 165
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @160

    I agree totally with your commentary on the alleged immigration crisis and its unfortunate lack of a strong evidential / scientifically informed basis.

    This is my take on the whole ‘knowing’ issue fwiw. It’s about definitions of ‘knowing’ I guess. One form of knowledge is how the world works and why it works in the way it does. You are quite right playing a guitar is something different, it is knowing a skill and related information, so it is knowing how to do something that achieves a certain result, ie pleasure and excitement. Another form of knowledge is memorising information. So there are several forms of knowledge and the distinction is the key to it.

    Right now we figure out how and why things work the way we do with science. We apply it especially to the natural world but it can be applied to anything obviously. I think its the most reliable way of knowing how and why things work the way they do.

    Clearly intuition, and gut instincts, and getting smashed on drugs are not terribly reliable ways of knowing about the world :) Instincts are really subconscious thinking and logical deduction, but are not 100% reliable because the methodology and information is limited. Philosophers exploring ways of knowing like Kant seemed to me to be doing a lot of circular reasoning and inwards navel gazing that mostly goes nowhere.

    Science is based around the scientific method, but I would suggest any rigorous logic and evidence based thought is pretty much science.

    Regarding ethical knowledge. This is not some special way of knowing. Ethics are simply knowledge of a set of principles we have adopted and developed over time, like a particular way of playing the guitar. Ethics are an invention and belief system. Like any invention they are unlikely to be perfect, and are susceptible to problems and criticisms and its hard to agree on a universal set of ethics, but fortunately most of us do accept a good set of basic ethical principles that are largely codified into law. The debate is around the edges but it is pretty vigorous and significant eg drugs and abortion.

    We do not need science to develop ethical beliefs because they existed long before science was invented. However science can help us improve and inform our ethical beliefs, and already has for example changing views over illegal drugs.

    AI is not science. It is an invention and a technology, but the lines are getting very blurred, but this doesn’t matter. I think science and technology converge ultimately.

  16. 166
    Ray Ladbury says:

    You can come pretty close to The Golden Rule with nothing but game theory–and once you have The Golden Rule,you have most of human ethics. It is true that to arrive at ethics, you must define a “good”–criteria to be maximized or minimized, but science can serve as a guide even here.

    And perhaps the lack of concreteness is in some ways the source of some of the woes we find in the study of ethics, politics, etc.

    I am not saying that all fields of study will yield to scientific inquiry, but it hasn’t been tried in a serious manner yet, and if that is true, the result will certainly be more reliable that what we have now.

  17. 167
    nigelj says:

    Carrie @164, if you appreciate all those things about the short term and noisy nature of the data, why do you go on apparently concluding something truly unusual and concerning is going on with the data? I dont think theres anything hugely concerning, because the rate of change in 4 days is not much different from variation in past history, and 4 days is nothing. If it was a couple of weeks it would be different.

    Of course I look at short term data, but I dont comment on it much, and jump to conclusions about it too quickly. How many times have we been told don’t confuse short and long term trends? It’s like the alleged pause, which had some people going this is really ‘unusual’, global warming has ‘stopped’. Except it hadn’t, and nothing had really paused. It was just noise, natural variation.

    By the way, the more you mock people the more silly and obnoxious you make yourself look. But by all means keep it up if you insist.

  18. 168

    MA Rodgers @143
    Thanks for the reply. (And to the other reply, yes typo I should have quoted SLR not SLE.)

    I get your conjecture, however, I take it from the lack of replies here though that no one really knows why the authors felt their findings indicated a potential multimeter SLR. Certainly not on the timescale suggested by the ThinkProgress quote.

    Although I do not think any of this is “trivial.” Far from it, it is a crisis. But I just couldn’t follow that one bit of logic.

  19. 169
    Al Bundy says:

    To goppers immigration is a crisis because even though border intrusions are down, it is only now that the current undocumented plus a few more will squash the GOP’s electoral possibilities.

    When analyzing gopspeak one must use an ultra high frequency receiver so as to catch the dog whistles.

  20. 170
    Carrie says:

    167 nigelj says:
    22 Jan 2019 at 4:34 PM

    Carrie @164, if you appreciate all those things about the short term and noisy nature of the data, why do you go on apparently concluding something truly unusual and concerning is going on with the data?


    Man, seriously. What is wrong with you? I did not conclude anything from the data in either post # 152 or 153.

    Can’t you work out what a sudden surge to 413 ppm (in January) could be “noteworthy” and could mean if it is sustained all by yourself?

    I never told you or anyone what to think or what to conclude – I did not say what I think about it either. As I have said previously to MAR again only recently “the Data Speaks for Itself!”

    MAR speaks for himself and you speak for yourself – neither of you speak for me~! Ever! You never get it right, ever! ROFL

    You made up all your own conclusions about me and the posts all by yourself out of thin air. Just like MAR, doh~!

    Please stop doing this if you ever expect to be taken seriously by anyone on any forum. Just a humble tip you probably won’t understand either (oh boy!)

  21. 171
    Omega Centauri says:

    Changes in planetary albedo as well as concentrations of greenhouse gases have similar effects, both change the energy balance. So if albedo decreases over time because of loss of snow and ice, and probably changes in surface vegetation, then we get global warming. Now in the present context planetary albedo seems to be driven mainly by temperature, so in the present context it acts as a positive feedback. So it makes the climate system more sensitive to any other drivers (such as CO2).

  22. 172
    Killian says:

    Re: MA Rodger, you’d save yourself and everyone else if you just posted, “I prefer to downplay and minimize the rate of clinate changes you are discussing in this post,” and just copy and paste it every time you are moved to post like this.


    More seriously, I seem to recall the Hansen, et al., paper considered this an isolated process in only part of the ice sheet. Perhaps I misremember. They were extrapolating.

    I believe this new paper is confirmatiin via a more thorough analysis. No? I mean, they didn’t just replicate the previous paper, no?

    That the rate is again rising, and even that it slowed is… what natural systems do. It does not bolster your dud rockety perspective, imo.

  23. 173
    MA Rodger says:

    John D Wilson @168,
    (1) Firstly my apologies. I was wrong @141 to suggest your comment @104 had “not been replied to.” It had been. Three times!! @106 & @108 & 109.

    (2) Secondly, your use of SLE was not a typo. The difference between SLE & SLR is that Sea Level Equivalent is a gross figure (so a measure of ice-loss from part of Antarctica would be SLE) while Sea Level Rise would be used for the net figure (so ice-loss minus snowfall across all Antarctica or a distinct ‘ice’ basin of Antarctica would be SLR).

    (3) Thirdly, the ThinkProgress quote cited from the lead author of the paper is entirely correct. (And I’ll even include in that, the bit in the brackets.)

    East Antarctica’s melting “increases the risk of multiple meter (more than 10 feet) sea level rise over the next century or so,” lead author Eric Rignot told the AP. Rignot is a senior project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    Under BAU, we can expect at least the best part of a metre SLR by 2100. By that time we can expect SLR to be increasing at the best part of 20mm/yr. So into the following century (the “or so” bit of “the next century or so”) we will be close to being multi-metre (and I would normally consider “multi-metre” to be ‘more than one of them,’ so +6 foot not +10 foot). It would not take much extra SLR from East Antarctica for the expectation under BAU to become “multi-metre” (ie more than one-point-something of them) SLR.
    Indeed, even if you consider “multi-metre” to be more than two-point-something metres, so achieved by a contribution of a metre-or-more from these regions of East Antarctica; even then, the dynamics of the glaciers after the ice shelves have been melted away by warming ocean currents may merit the resulting total global SLR being called “multi-metre”.

    (4) Finally, putting aside the philosophy that there is no ontological truth, you should recognise the last sentence of my third point here as “conjecture.” My comment @141 was not. It was a simple reading of the paper in question.

  24. 174
    prokaryotes says:

    New calculations show scientists have grossly underestimated the effects of air pollution — According to Rosenfeld, another hypothesis to explain why Earth is getting warmer even though aerosols have been cooling it down at an even a greater rate is a possible warming effect of aerosols when they lodge in deep clouds, meaning those 10 kilometers or more above the Earth. Israel’s Space Agency and France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) have teamed up to develop new satellites that will be able to investigate this deep cloud phenomenon

  25. 175
    JCH says:

    John D. Wilson @ 168

    Multimeter SLR is mentioned just once in the paper: the very last sentence:

    Our mass balance assessment, combined with prior surveys, suggests that the sector between Cook/Ninnis and West ice shelves may be exposed to CDW and could contribute multimeter SLR with unabated climate warming.

    Likewise, multimeter SLE is also mentioned in one sentence. I’m including two sentences, as the first one I think is where you got the “5.1-m” mentioned in your first comment:

    In sum, the northern sector of West Antarctica is losing mass rapidly and could entrain the progressive collapse of a large share of West Antarctica and its 5.1-m SLE. In Wilkes Land, East Antarctica, the ice sheet loss is two to three times slower, but this sector holds an equally large, multimeter SLE.

    5.1-m is the inventory of ice in that basin expressed as its sea level equivalent.

    SLE is used multiple times in the paper as each basin has its own inventory of SLE, some some small and some multimeter.

    Recent observations have shown that the ice sheet is losing mass along the periphery due the enhanced flow of its glaciers, at a rate that has been increasing over time, while there is no long-term trend change in snowfall accumulation in the interior [i.e., Antarctica contributes to sea-level rise (SLR) principally via changes in ice dynamics]

    What I have read is that in the past there have been rapid multimeter rises in sea level over short timescales, and that the ice which provided that water came from Antarctica. So, does the future hold that possibility? If so, how and when, and from where? To date, the areas losing the most ice are exposed to CDW:

    During the entire period, the mass loss concentrated in areas closest to warm, salty, subsurface, circumpolar deep water (CDW), that is, consistent with enhanced polar westerlies pushing CDW toward Antarctica to melt its floating ice shelves, destabilize the glaciers, and raise sea level.

    So, will ice sheets of which the structural integrity is under constant assault by warm CDW stingily give up tiny amounts of ice for decades/centuries? The past suggests maybe not.

  26. 176
    Killian says:


    The Sky Rockets Don’t Exist club does not care what one of us says except to have a chance to slap it down. The logic is clear: Higher CO2 than expected this time of year *might* mean something. It *might* indicate the beginning of something yet not known or not yet connected or what have you.

    The logical fallacy that mentioning a thing equals claiming something is all too common a Straw Man – though in this case I think it is poor rhetorical skills rather than any form of dishonesty. We can see it as mere reading more into what is said than *is* said or intended.

    How many times have we seen the factual statement, “Renewables are not sustainable,” become you hate sustainables or you’re against sustainables, e.g.? Just as it is said, apparently from science!, you reach people with stories not facts, it is also the case that people’s stories in their own heads color what they think or choose to think others are saying. This leads to the issues we are talking about in this post.

    You see, it was mentioned – and interestingly, by me, not you, first, but some are perhaps learning the lessons of the last five years? – so that means it’s a Big Deal rather than an observation worth making. We’re skyrockety and they are sober fellows who do not believe in skyrockets, so everything we say *must* have hyperbole behind it.

    I get your snark – it gets tiresome having something you never said thrown in your face – but maybe best not to toss them too many skyrockets to get excited over; it seems pretty unintentional this time around, mostly.

  27. 177


    I can’t agree about science determining ethics. You still have to choose between whether you want a consequentialist or a deontological ethic, and that’s something science can’t help you with. Are actions right in and of themselves, or only in context? I can’t see a way science can help with that.

  28. 178

    #166, Ray–

    Yes, I’d pretty much concur with you on those point, FWIW.

    #168, John–

    “Really know?” No–but I thought that my reply demonstrated that multi-meter sea rise can be inferred fairly directly from some of their numbers, plus some other fairly basic knowledge (such as the thermostearic contribution to SLR.)

    #169, Al–

    Yeah. Well, that and it keeps the hard-core racist deplorables energized and mobilized. So there’s drivers on both the degensive and offensive sides of the game plan.

    But didn’t I say, “reasonable definition”, or some such? The tactics may be ‘reasonable’ in a certain very narrow sense, but the definitional abuse, and its contribution to American agnosis, not so much.

  29. 179
    John Kelly says:

    Regarding ice melt and SLR, I have a few questions to try to get a grip on the scale of things:

    1. How much ice is there?
    2. How much energy does it take for the phase change to make it liquid?
    3. How much energy is being added in, say, a year due to AGW?

    I understand that 90+% of the AGW energy is currently warming the oceans and that there’re a lot of moving parts in the climate system, but some of that ocean heating is eventually going to be put to work melting ice. Thanks to anyone who tackles this.

  30. 180

    #179, JK–

    I expect that you will receive substantive responses, and that is fine, of course, but why not look those up for yourself? I don’t think any of those would be hard to find, and you’ll learn more than if someone spoonfeeds you the answers.

    As Hank Roberts has said so many times, and so rightly, “Google–or ‘oogle, as he likes to say–is your friend.”

  31. 181
    MA Rodger says:

    John Kelly @179,
    This NASA web-page from 2012 puts it as 8% of 0.56W/m^2 = 0.05W/m^2 or 0.8 joules x 10^21. Myself, I think that is a little high for ice-melt (and the global imbalance a little low).

  32. 182
    nigelj says:

    Carrie, thank’s for pointing out the recent CO2 trend over the last 4 days or so, because I hadn’t looked at it, and yes it is noteworthy “at first glance”. All I’m saying is look at the historical data carefully, and its not actually so noteworthy.

    I thought you might not have done this. This is not suggesting you are a stupid or careless person by nature, because I’m sure you are not.

  33. 183
    zebra says:

    #179 John Kelly,

    From your question, I think you are mixing up two concepts.

    The increase in ocean energy caused by AGW is not necessary to cause a phase change.

    The effect of AGW is to allow ice on land to end up in the water, by destroying ice sheets, which increases glacial calving, also the intrusion of ocean water underneath previously grounded glaciers/ice sheets.

    Sea level will then rise even if the ice doesn’t melt, but icebergs have always melted over time as they move out of the polar regions.

    The numbers you are asking for are not really related cause/effect.

  34. 184
    Ray Ladbury says:

    You might guess that I–as an atheist–am also a consequentialist. A deontological ethics seems problematic to me, because:
    1) It can be used to let evil happen because the believer wants to avoid committing a lesser evil
    2) There are always going to be way too many exceptions to any deontological scheme depending on particular circumstances.

    And finally, reaching agreement on what is an ethical good in a deontological system is a fraught proposition. I find the moral systems of some belief systems to be abhorrent.

    Consequences are at least observable facts.

  35. 185
    Al Bundy says:

    Contrarie: could mean if it is sustained

    AB: If wishes were horses beggars would ride. When making jokes it is good to let folks know via :-) or whatever. However, your defense, as opposed to explanation, makes me ponder…

    BTW, for stuff like the world’s GHG, most of the time outliers should be measured in years, not days. Daily GHG measurements’ outliers can reveal either observation errors or some sort of acute local issue, such as methane burps.


    Killian: That the rate is again rising, and even that it slowed is… what natural systems do. It does not bolster your dud rockety perspective, imo.

    AB: That you referred to one without the other is either cherry picking or an error. There are no other logical explanations. Or am I missing something?


    MARodger: best part of a metre SLR by 2100. By that time we can expect SLR to be increasing at the best part of 20mm/yr.

    AB: Absolutely. In the scheme of things rate of change is more important than the change itself. Ask an infrastructure expert about handling a rapidly changing sea level. Total nightmare because people want to be as close as possible to the sea. It’s not like the popular perception, that if we just keep it below X on Y date, we don’t have to think any further. Just what effect will “disposable oceanfront cities” have on carbon emissions?


    BPL: You still have to choose between whether you want a consequentialist or a deontological ethic, and that’s something science can’t help you with.

    AB: Please give an example of a deontological ethic that can be determined by science. There is no choice when the “choices” are data v nada.

  36. 186
    Carrie says:

    182 nigelj “All I’m saying is look at the historical data carefully, and its not actually so noteworthy.”

    I posted it because to me it is noteworthy. But I didn’t say why or how and nor did I insist anyone else respond or agree or disagree. I simply shared the very recent data. People can make of that what they will.

    Now you say it isn’t noteworthy. So what? You provide absolutely zero substantiation why that “opinion” is superior/better/accurate. Feel free to try to prove that personal opinion is the correct one. If you that motivated.

    Even if it is not “noteworthy” by a poll of all readers here …. So what? I don’t try and force my views upon others nor argue them to death and insist I am always right.

  37. 187
    Carrie says:

    176 Killian, well put. So true. Painfully so. And thank you for saying it.

  38. 188
    Killian says:

    Mauna Loa Christmas Variations: Do You See What I See?

    First there were those two days @ 411. No skyrockets, I was told, politely. Then two more days of relatively elevated numbers followed, diminishing each day, but still a 4 day hump. Hmmmm… Already hitting the daily (iirc) max from the previous year in mid-January?

    Next came a few days of back to the recent trend. Then, wham!, we get several days of very high hourlies that Scripps declines to define. Big numbers up into the 413~414 range. (Oddly, though the 12th~15th were mostly in the 412~414 range, the weekly avg on 1/11~1/12 was @ 410.)

    Then we get a respite of around 3 days at 410, then a steady climb to 412, 413 and two days a hair short of 414 with hourlies up to 415.

    This is January. We are getting dailies well over what the yearly peak should be for 2019 and are way past last year’s peak, which we should not see for maybe two more months – at least not at sustained levels.

    Yes, this could be noise. Could be an explainable anomaly. But it *feels* like a harbinger.

    Anyone got anything to help explain this?

  39. 189
    CO2 Carrie says:

    ESRL NOAA monthly average so far at ~410.62 ppm through January 22. circa +2.66 ppm. We may see a year-over-year change closer to 3.0 ppm from January 2018’s 407.96 ppm. It depends on where the rest of the month readings end up.

    Both 2.66 and 3.0 are not good numbers to be seeing in January with no El Nino in sight.

  40. 190
    zebra says:

    Correction to my #183,

    should be “by destroying ice [shelves]”

  41. 191


    Super. Which consequentialist system do you like? The philosophy of power? Utilitarianism? How does “science” choose between them?

  42. 192

    You still have to choose between whether you want a consequentialist or a deontological ethic…

    But can one make such a choice? In my experience, belief isn’t really a matter of choice; it’s a matter of perception (including deep reflection and experience). For example, I would much rather believe that climate change is not real, since then I could just go back to spending all my spare time on fun stuff, without a care.

    Or take the matter of the long-accepted duality between a material, temporally-bound body and an eternal, immaterial soul–contemplating my mortality and that of those I love, I’d much rather believe in that eternal soul. (Leaving aside the burning question of post-mortem experience.) Yet observations of vulnerability of personality to traumatic brain injury, chemical imbalance and the like incline me, rather against my preference, to believe that the self depends, very deeply, upon that very same material, temporally-bound body traditionally supposed to be the ‘weak sister.’ It’s rather terrifying, frankly–not so much death per se, as the possibility of having an alternate selfhood imposed upon you maliciously or accidentally, as has in fact happened to all too many of my human brothers and sisters.

    But Blaise Pascal evidently thought you could choose your belief, and everyone, including me, would agree he was probably a hell of a lot smarter than I am.

    Still, I can’t help connecting all of this to a point made by C.S. Lewis, who criticized his fellow Christian apologists–a noun having, in the sense Lewis used it, no pejorative connotation–for arguing Christianity on its practical merits. He cautioned against the acceptance of Christianity on the grounds of its utility, saying in effect that you must only accept it because you actually think it is true. In that, perhaps Lewis wasn’t so far apart from the ideas of his contemporaries, the French existentialists, who proposed ‘authenticity’ as the measure of a life well-lived–though they certainly didn’t reject that notion of ‘choice’ that I started out here by questioning.

    Yeah, I know–OT again.

  43. 193
    mike says:

    wrt to the spikey/noisy blip in CO2 at MLO, I think it is noteworthy for those of us who track these numbers on a daily or weekly basis. We have seen several consecutive days with near 5 ppm increase, all at 413 plus in yoy comparison. from

    (as of January 22, 2019)

    413.96 ppm on January 22, 2019 (Scripps)
    413.86 ppm on January 22, 2019 (NOAA-ESRL)
    413.83 ppm on January 21, 2019 (Scripps)
    413.45 ppm on January 12, 2019 (NOAA-ESRL)

    It’s a noisy number. And the folks who fancy they are the “voice of reason” here will be dismissive of discussion about these facts, but I think it makes sense to discuss them.

    to K at 188: I think I would look at air circulation patterns, if I was interested and had time, to see if we are seeing a plume of CO2 from approximately due east from MLO, originating from LA and the SW generally, that has been flowly directly to MLO and creating these spikey numbers. I think it is pretty settled that MLO generally reads global emissions almost immediately (for our purposes), but that does not mean that any specific data point from MLO means too much. I am talking/writing primarily to Carrie and Killian with this post. I think we can expect to see the yoy monthly numbers come in around 3 ppm for 2018 as the global emission rate of rise ramped up again for 2018. I read 3.4% increase somewhere recently. Folks who track emissions are welcome to parse the numbers and post about what is happening with emissions. I hope that 2018 is an outlier and that we will be able to look back in five years and say, emissions truly peaked around 2014 and then started falling. I think it is premature to suggest that has happened with any reasonable level of confidence. Nonetheless, some folks here approach these questions with a desire to feel good about the numbers and that desire will lead to commentary that is more sociological than scientific. It was ever thus.

    413 plus is a pretty bad number and as Tamino said: Not only has CO2 been on the rise, its rate of increasing is has been getting faster.”

    Warm regards,


  44. 194
    MA Rodger says:

    Thomas the ‘tin (aka Carrie) @189.
    I think you are under-selling the data. You say +2.66ppm? The annual increase for the period 1Jan-22Jan is nearer +2.85ppm!
    Yet the question remains – so what?
    Through the years of monthly ESRL MLO data, about 20% have had a January 12-month increase greater than 0.5ppm above the eventual annual average increase which would be enough to drop a Janurary +2.85ppm down toan annual +2.35ppm or less. And through the shorter record of weekly ESRL MLO data, a third of the years have at least one January week with a 12-month increase +1ppm above the eventual annual average. That is a lot of noise in the data.

    And do think this “skyrocketry” through.
    If this were the start of a 6-5-4-3-2-1-BLAST-OFF as you seem to be implying, what could be the cause of such a sudden upward trajectory?

  45. 195
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    How do they measure the gas content in the bubbles of ancient air buried in the greenlandic and antarctic ice cores? As I have read, they melt some of the ice and thereby collect the old air contained in it.

    An interesting problem connected with this concerns the age of the air in the bubbles compared to the age of the ice surrounding it. As I have understood from the last edition if the classical textbook “The Physics of Glaciers” by K.M. Cuffey and W.S.B. Paterson (fourth edition 2010) p. 622-630, it takes around five hundred years in central Antarctica before the snow compacts to ice (never any melting here, MAAT being around minus 52 deg C). Therefore the bubbles are not formed until around five hundred years after the snow around them fell. This would mean that the age of the snow/ice (firn with a density of about 830 kg per m3, the so-called “density of pore close-off”, which occurs at tens of meters depth in the firn) is between one to four hundred years (central Greenland) and 2500 years (Vostok, Antarctica) older than the air in the bubbles. When calculating the timing of changes in fx. CO2 content, this has to be known. Close-off-depth of the bubbles also vary from site to site with the local MAAT. And of course this local MAAT must have shifted through the ages with the climate changing, so this is rather complicated. Generally though it has been concluded, that under natural climate forcing, normally the CO2 content changes after the temperature has changed. At least this is the case in the beginning of the cooling and warming periods.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  46. 196
    Hank Roberts says:

    Antarctica gets ready to uncork a rush of glaciers to the sea, as sea ice disappears.

  47. 197
    nigelj says:

    Carrie @186 “So what? You provide absolutely zero substantiation why that “opinion” is superior/better/accurate.”

    I have. I repeat for the third time look at the historical data for the year, and its not noteworthy. I should not have needed to say more. There are a few days with substantial increases, or as MAR points out past monthly periods with similarly substantial increases in value to current month. So not so noteworthy. If the time periods were a bit longer it would be noteworthy / concerning, whatever.

    I’m not trying to prove my opinion is superior. Criticising points people make is how we all learn ultimately.

  48. 198
    Hank Roberts says:

    A rapid rise in temperature on ancient Earth triggered a climate response that may have prolonged the warming for many thousands of years, according to scientists.

    Their study, published online in Nature Geoscience, provides new evidence of a climate feedback that could explain the long duration of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which is considered the best analogue for modern climate change.

    The findings also suggest that climate change today could have long-lasting impacts on global temperature even if humans are able to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

    Read more at:

  49. 199
    nigelj says:

    “You still have to choose between whether you want a consequentialist or a deontological ethic…”

    The problem with deontological ethics is it can generate perverse outcomes, but there is an obvious ethical dimension to loyalty, rules, obedience and process. So lets say we need both systems together, and make consequentialist ethics take priority. The conflicts are resolved with things like whistle blower laws, conscientious objection etc.

  50. 200
    flxible says:

    “what could be the cause of such a sudden upward trajectory?”

    Maybe lower soil moisture.