RealClimate logo

Unforced Variations: Feb 2020

Filed under: — group @ 5 February 2020

This month’s open thread. Focus on climate science. Be kind.

179 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Feb 2020”

  1. 151
    Guest (O.) says:

    Megafeuer – Der Planet brennt / ARTE 25.02.2020

  2. 152
    MA Rodger says:

    zebra @142,
    BEST’s ‘Results by Location’ is a good source of max & min data. Thus for global land the max plot looks like this and the min like this.
    There has been some work done on the effect of using max/min averages rather than more ‘mathematical’ averaging methods (for instance Wang (2015) ‘Sampling Biases in Datasets of Historical Mean Air Temperature over Land’) and the finding is usually that it makes no real difference globally but can be significant regionally and seasonally.

  3. 153
    zebra says:

    #149 Dan H,

    “your link does not quite say that”

    No idea what you are talking about, Dan… what is “that”? About the dates, it looks like you were reading under the influence or something. And who said anything about heatwaves?

    For the lazy folk, table 6.1 text:

    Observed changes in annual average temperature (°F) for each National Climate Assessment region. Changes are the difference between the average for present-day (1986–2016) and the average for the first half of the last century (1901–1960 for the contiguous United States, 1925–1960 for Alaska, Hawai‘i, and the Caribbean).

    And, relating to what I (actually) said:

    In most regions, average minimum temperature increased at a slightly higher rate than average maximum temperature, with the Midwest having the largest discrepancy, and the Southwest and Northwest having the smallest. This differential rate of warming resulted in a continuing decrease in the diurnal temperature range that is consistent with other parts of the globe.

    So, we learned more by plotting the min and max independently and observing the relationship.

    And I still haven’t heard anyone explain what the heck they are talking about with respect to “energy”. Keith, are you there?

  4. 154
    Simon F says:

    “In climate risk assessment, don’t think about likelihood, think about impact. #IPCC has made too much emphasis on likelihood and too little on impact. – R.T. Sutton”

    IPCC are doing a wonderful job. We are not experiencing a 1-day crisis but a 1-century crisis. We must be cautious and the emphasis on likelihood is admirable IMHO.

  5. 155
    zebra says:

    Some Max Min Plots To “Eyeball”,

    Found some time to do a better search.

  6. 156
    nigelj says:

    Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
    Vol. 101, No. 1, January 2020
    American Meteorological Society

    (quite a treasure chest of information in this.)

  7. 157
    Mr. Know It All says:

    146 – Al Bundy
    “AB: don’t understand that on a global level relative humidity is essentially a constant?”

    I think the discussion was about a local temperature record high, and someone mentioned “energy in the system”. Can’t calculate energy in a system with only temperature. RH is not a constant at a particular location. Total water in the earth atmosphere may be relatively constant – I don’t know if it varies during the year globally or not, probably does vary just like CO2 – but Gavin has said it is rising slowly as the average global temperature rises – think he said it’s gone up around 2%, but can’t remember if that is RH, or absolute humidity, or what. Would be interesting to calculate the % increase in energy of the atmosphere related only to the humidity increase. I’ll bet BPL can whoop it out, or maybe you or EP. Easy calc, just show your assumptions. Even a rookie like nigelj might do it. Nah. :)

  8. 158
    zebra says:

    #152 MA Rodger,

    Thanks. Those long-term global plots are great.

    It seemed to me obvious from the start that any difference between the midpoint and some kind of average was going to be affected by various variable inputs which would vary by region and season.

    But I’m still not clear what people think the “daily average” adds to our understanding if we have detailed data to begin with. I’m guessing you would agree with me but if you have any suggestions otherwise I would be interested.

  9. 159
    CCHolley says:

    The latest edition of Mechanical Engineering, the official publication of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, has two items related to climate change, one an opinion piece on energy and transportation and the other an article on Guy Chandler’s role in the development of the science.

    Weber, Michael E., “Turning Around Our Priorities, We have a few things backwards that we should reverse for energy and climate”, Mechanical Engineering, March 2020, page 16

    Wicks, Frank, “The Engineer Who Discovered Global Warming”, Mechanical Engineering, March 2020, pages 37 thru 41.

    Both well worth the read, although unfortunately, the online version of the magazine has limited access.

    Anyway, these pieces are notable because sadly many engineers have embraced climate denialism and are offended by its implications. Because of this, it appears the engineering societies have failed to talk much about the issue and have been slow to take a hard stance on the science.

    This does, however, appear to be changing.

    “Scientists have known for some time, from multiple lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions. The evidence on the impacts of climate change is also clear and growing. The atmosphere and the Earth’s oceans are warming, the magnitude and frequency of certain extreme events are increasing, and the sea level is rising along our coasts.” –statement of the National Academy Presidents including the National Academy of Engineers, June 18, 2019.

    The engineering profession needs to fully embrace the climate crisis and rise to the occasion to help stop it.

    Of further note, from the cover story of the magazine, “10 Influential Women in Engineering”, on Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors Corporation, states: “She envisions a world with zero crashes to save lives; zero emission, so future generations can inherit a healthier planet; and zero congestion.” One influential engineer helping to lead the way. More are needed.

  10. 160
    Chuck says:

    Maybe someone already addressed this situation but I haven’t seen it so here’s a variation on the insect collapse theme:

    “We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.”

    His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished. The most likely culprit by far is global warming.

    “It was just astonishing,” Lister said. “Before, both the sticky ground plates and canopy plates would be covered with insects. You’d be there for hours picking them off the plates at night. But now the plates would come down after 12 hours in the tropical forest with a couple of lonely insects trapped or none at all.”

    “It was a true collapse of the insect populations in that rain forest,” he said. “We began to realise this is terrible – a very, very disturbing result.”

  11. 161
    Robert says:

    Dear climate debaters of this website,

    About thermal expansion of the oceans – but first a short introduction since I’m new here.

    I can’t help myself from sometimes (or rather often) ending up in climate discussions with science deniers on social media. Not a unique phenomenon I suppose. Seldom fruitful though – but at times merely entertaining in a masochistic way.

    I’m not a scientist (I’m an artist) but I do have the opinion that natural science (peer reviewed) and its contemporary conclusions (scientific consensus) is the least incomplete (or sometimes least incorrect) and thus the most reliable description of our physical world as we know it – and that we desperately must rely upon science by pure humanitarian reasons.

    I do dedicate my self to some amount of natural science popularisation at times. It’s partly connected to my artistic work. Taking part of peer review articles is therefore an (almost) everyday pursuit (for instance both Science and Nature magazines are weekly dropped in my physical mailbox)

    Anyhow. Back to the thermal expansion.

    A while ago I was debating with a guy that has earned a lot of attention and local fame through his colourful – but anti-scientific – statements about ecology, large predators (wolfs) and climate. He’s also followed by a respectable number of disciples that echoes his disrespect towards peer review. He’s also trying to do his own research (about wolfs) that he somehow believes equals peer review. Well it’s just anti-scientific, conspiracy-laden buffoonery, but people tend to believe this guy – because he’s saying what they want to hear. And he acts and express things in a sort of scientific-ish way.

    So, he had the following comment in the debate about thermal expansion (directly translated to english without any change in meaning):

    ”The oceans contain 1 335 686 648 cubic kilometer water. If the oceans warms with 0,1°C down to 300 m and we’re using a thermal expansion coefficient of 0,00018, the volume expands with 295 cubic kilometer. This amount, spread out on the ocean surface of 362 000 000 square kilometer, will result in an extra 0,8 cubic meter per square kilometer.

    If one looks at the amount of CO2 released from the oceans down to 300 m, a temperature rise of 0,1°C would result in 8527 gigaton CO2, which would triple the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. This according to Henrys law.

This quick calculation ”proves”, if I did the maths correctly, that sea level rise due to thermal expansion is out of the question – nor are the oceans getting warmer.

    You can do your control calculations yourself. Facts are to be found on the internet.”

    Well there’s a lot of funny stuff in there and I have no idea of exactly where he got his numbers or why he chose to do his math like that. To turn the complexity of calculations regarding thermal expansion of ocean water content into something like that is fascinating in it self. But I do indeed understand the purpose of it. He’s trying to look – to his disciples – like he understands the mechanisms and the result.

    And this is where I would like to have help in creating another and hopefully more pedagogically easily understood “mathematical image” of the effect of thermal expansion of water volume in the oceans. To use the large numbers, vast volumes and going back and forth between cubic kilometer and square kilometer just makes the whole thing unnecessary complicated.

    So my idea to counter this guys “visualisation” is to imagine a column of stacked one cubic millimeters of water. So a 1000 meter high stack (or column) of cubic millimeters would consist of 1 000 000 cubic millimeters. I didn’t choose 300 m like in his example, since warming of the oceans goes deeper.

    Remember this is just a strictly schematic visualisation of course.

    Why millimeter?
    Yes, because sea level rise is on a millimeter scale each year (here excluding the amount caused by melting glaciers).
    Why a column and not a cubic meter or something like that?
    Because it would be “visually” more pedagogic to add a millimeter on top of a column rather than broader cubical shape.

    Now… warm this column of 1 000 000 cubic millimeters with a given amount. Use an average temperature (since the expansion coefficient differs a bit due to the temperature) and then get the mathematical result of the expansion. How much will the column expand upwards – how much taller will it be (since we determine it can’t expand sideways or downwards)?

    Well I could do the math myself (and have done so), but I feel I need to have some assistance in this thought experiment. Math is by the way not any longer something I’ve kept up as an active part and insecurity starts to get the better part of it.

    This is for sure not perhaps the best way of visualising the whole thing in a strictly schematic way and I hope I’m not making a clown of myself with this.

  12. 162
    Al Bundy says:

    BPL: do you have something useful to say?

    AB: Usually, but one stupid post burns a lot of Goodwill, eh?

    Sorry, BPL

  13. 163
    David B. Benson says:

    According to Pico et al. the asteroid now under the glacier had nothing to do with the initiation of Younger Dryas:

  14. 164
    MA Rodger says:

    And following on from NOAA & GISTEMP, HadCRUT are also reporting “scorchyissimo!!!!” for January, with an anomaly of +0.98ºC, an increase on Dec2019’s +0.88ºC (which was itself the highest monthly HadCRUT anomaly for 2019), giving 2020 the warmest January on the HadCRUT record, ahead of Jan 2016 (+0.93ºC), 2007 (+0.83ºC), 2017 (+0.74ºC), 2019 (+0.74ºC), 2015 (+0.71ºC), 2002 (+0.65ºC), 2003 (+0.60ºC), 2010 (+0.56ºC) and 2018 (+0.55ºC).
    HadCRUT’s Jan 2020 sits 4th in the all-month anomaly record (in GISTEMP it was =3rd, in NOAA 4th) with just the peak months from the 2015/16 El Niño (Dec 2015 & Feb & Mar 2016) having higher anomalies.
    A graph of the last decade’s monthly anomalies here (usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’)

  15. 165
    zebra says:

    #161 Robert,

    You said you were “debating” someone. You weren’t. Please read this short post by one of the moderators here:

    People often use the expression “feeding the trolls”, but it isn’t just some amusing pastime. Rather, you are serving their purpose and validating their argument… you are creating a false equivalence, creating the illusion that there is a “controversy”, that there are two opposing scientific positions.

    What do you think you would accomplish providing your clever visualization? Who is your audience?

    -Are you trying to convince someone with no physics background? How would they know which of you is correct?
    -Are you trying to convince me? No offense, but that is hardly necessary.

    Since you are an artist, I suggest you think back to your experience of critiques. Put this fellow in front of the class and force him to defend his work. That may require you to brush up on some physics yourself, but the idea, referring to Gavin’s post, is to expose the fallacies in his warrants.

  16. 166
    Dan H. says:

    Zebra @153
    Insults aside, your link says very little about max and mins. The closest I could garner from your link was that statement about heatwaves. A better reference might be the following:

    This shows the minimum temperatures increase at a 30% higher rate than the maximum temperatures (1.41F compared to 1.06F). But that is only part of the story. The greatest increase as been in winter minimums (no great surprise), with the coldest days increasing an average of 3.3F. The least increase (greatest decrease) has been in summer maximums, with the hottest days decreasing an average of 0.8F.

  17. 167
    sidd says:

    Re: sea level increase due to thermal expansion

    For thermosteric, see fig 4.


  18. 168
    sidd says:

    Re: Cazenave 2018 paper, thermosteric expansion

    See also fig 6.

    In fact, read the whole paper …


  19. 169
    Mr. Know It All says:

    152 – MA Rodger and 166 – Dan H.

    This video, from ~ 1:31:23 to 1:44:30 discusses adjustment of data (homogenization). All Al Gore Warming (AGW) believers should see this 13 minute section of the video.

    For those concerned about hurricanes and AGW, the part from 1:09:40 to 1:30:12 reveals the truth about hurricane frequency, strength, and Al Gore Warming (AGW). It is solid information.

    Please, no crying about the sponsors of this presentation; just look at the information they present.

    Here it is – I think they make a powerful argument. In a court of law, it would carry some weight. I’ve only watched those 2 sections so far.

    159 – CCHolley

    Mechanical engineers who design mechanical systems for buildings are required to follow codes adopted by the state such as Building Code, Mechanical Code, Plumbing Code, State Energy Conservation Code, etc. Some building owners want their building to have high energy efficiency, LEED Gold, Platinum, etc. Some may want net zero energy, etc. The codes are the minimum and the owner paying for the design can require more if they wish. Make no mistake – leftist PC has infected the corporate engineering world. ;)

  20. 170
    zebra says:

    #166 Dan H,

    Seriously, Dan, you are seriously confused.

    You just posted exactly the same link I posted, that you said “didn’t say that”, whatever “that” was.

    Just take a minute and go back to my #142. See? Same source, Table 6.1. And then I quoted the text from that table in #153.

    Maybe you were responding originally to someone else’s comment thinking it was me? Maybe if you would just say what the “that” was you were referring to, it would clarify things in your own mind?

    I await your return from whatever reality you have been visiting.

  21. 171
    MA Rodger says:

    Robert @161,
    Your wolfman gives all the signs of being a total blowhard. He does put the condition on his conclusion of “if I did the maths correctly” and that condition has not been achieved so his grand proof is simply pants.
    As for you seeking a “mathematical image”, I would suggest sticking with millimetres of sea level rise.
    ☻ Perhaps the biggest sign of your wolfman’s blowhard-ism is his grand idea that a tiny increase in the temperature of ocean surface waters could result in humungously massive increases in atmospheric CO2. How has this not happened before? For instance during the last deglaciation or even during the annual CO2 cycle.
    ☻ The oceans do contain some 1.335 billion cu km but to present a figure to the nearest cu km is extremely silly. And why present it? The value is not required for the following calculation.
    ☻ His Coefft of Thermal Expansion is a little too low (it varies with temperature, pressure and saninity) but what is bizarre is his 295 cu km result. Assuming the 300m depth extends over the full ocean area, the increased volume for 0.1ºC using wolfman’s 0.00018 should be 1,950 cu km. This is best visualised as the resulting increase in sea level. 1,950 cu km extra volume would result in 5.4mm SLR or 54mm SLR/ºC. (For the record, the IPCC AR5 Fig 13.14 gives a SLR value for the full ocean volume of 420mm SLR/ºC global warming.)
    ☻ The carbon stored in the top 300m of ocean is nothing like enough to triple the atmospheric CO2. Such an increase would require about 5% of the oceans total CO2 content which could never appear with just a 0.1ºC temperature increase of the top 7% of the ocean. There are places saying the carbon stored in the “surface ocean” is some 1,000 Gt(C) or 3,664 Gt(CO2). While this “surface ocean” may refer to the mixed layer which is not as deep as 300m, assuming this 1,000Gt(C) wouldn’t be massively out. An increase of 0.1ºC would release a small part of that, perhaps 0.3% = 3Gt(C)=11Gt(CO2). (Although not a simple ocean absorption due to the drop in temperature so this final calculation will be too big, perhaps three-times too big, the 100ppm drop in atmospheric CO2 during ice ages is something like 4Gt(C) per 0.1ºC change.)

  22. 172
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Robert, your correspondent is a moron. Henry’s law is only going to apply, strictly, at the gas/liquid boundary. And it certainly isn’t going to tell you much about what the concentration is doing 300 meters below the surface.

    Consider the example of Lake Nyos–a deep volcanic lake in the mountains of Cameroon. CO2 seeps from a vent deep in the lake and is dissolved in the depths of the lake. Because the lake is in the tropics, it’s quite thermally stable throughout the year–very little mixing of surface and deep water. Until…
    A landslide caused an upwelling from the depths, which fizzed up as it climbed, driving more water to the surface. Long story short, it belched out about a cubic km of CO2, which swept down the hill (remember, heavier than air) and suffocated all the life in several villages. Overturn of the waters in the ocean is fairly slow, and down deep, the CO2 content is nowhere near saturated.

    As I said: He’s a moron.

  23. 173
    Mal Adapted says:

    Freeman Dyson has died, at age 96. NYTimes obit here:

    The NYT obituary discusses Dyson’s climate contrarianism. Some commenters decried it, others excused it. My own take is that while Dyson’s extraordinary ratiocinative ability enabled him to make significant scientific contributions, it was limited by his human instincts, emotions and personality. Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself, but there’s no guarantee you’ll always succeed. Dyson’s incorrect conclusions about AGW represent a failure of his great gift, to overcome the ubiquitous human propensity for self-deception. For that he can be forgiven, just like all the rest of us.

  24. 174
    Robert says:

    #165, Zebra
    Well no… “Debating” is not the proper word perhaps.
    Anyhow, I created an nunecessarily long post just to come to the question of input regarding the” mathematical visualisation”. I’m not discussing with this guy. He turned quiet swiftly anyhow when confronted with Peer review about the topic.

    But I was just interested in getting the visualisation (or an easier mathematical way of describing the expansion) in a more imaginable way – mainly for my self in order to get my head around it. It’s not about convincing anybody.

    #171, MA Rodger
    Thanks for the mathematical input!

    #172, Ray Ladbury
    Yes the CO2 example he was mentioning was one of those “funny things” I didn’t bother to get hung up on. That was just pure mumbo jumbo.

  25. 175
    nigelj says:

    Mr KIA says “Mechanical engineers who design mechanical systems for buildings are required to follow codes adopted by the state such as Building Code, Mechanical Code, Plumbing Code, State Energy Conservation Code, etc. Some building owners want their building to have high energy efficiency, LEED Gold, Platinum, etc. Some may want net zero energy, etc. The codes are the minimum and the owner paying for the design can require more if they wish. Make no mistake – leftist PC has infected the corporate engineering world. ;)”

    Perfect example of missing the point and confused and full of irrelevant information.

    The point originally made by CC Holley was that engineers often come across as climate denialists. I see it as well in comments posted on the net by engineers, presumably because they are involved in the design of fossils fuels plant, transport reliant on fossil fuels, etcetera so they have vested interests in business as usual and have become comfortable with it.

    The codes have nothing to do with this issue. Code energy efficiency standards are not decisions made primarily by engineers, they are mostly a political decision. The so called leftist pc has therefore not infested the engineering world. If its infested the corporate world all to the good. KIA is trying to conflate the engineering world with the corporate world.

    Perhaps KIA can explain what is wrong with an owner wanting energy efficient buildings? If he can find his head first and screw it back into his neck :)

  26. 176
    Dan says:

    re: 169 “All Al Gore Warming (AGW) believers…”

    Ignorant straw man alert right there, folks. For the umpteenth time, junior, former VP Gore is not a climate scientist. Quoting him as a means of trying to disparage the issue (since you can not with actual science) is a sign of complete intellectual laziness and failure. Congrats on the achievement. But no surprise considering your failure to learn the scientific method.

  27. 177
    CCHolley says:

    RE. Mr. No Nothing @169

    This video, from ~ 1:31:23 to 1:44:30 discusses adjustment of data (homogenization). All Al Gore Warming (AGW) believers should see this 13 minute section of the video.

    Homogenization has very little effect on the temperature record from the 1951-1980 baseline which is of most concern. Not only that, when you include the adjustments for sea surface temperatures, the total global temperatures for the earlier period, which is the focus of the video, are actually adjusted upward lessening the warming trend that would be shown using unadjusted numbers. The video is typical denier tripe misrepresenting reality. What a joke.

    Skeptical Science has a good discussion on homogenization

    Only a fool and/or politically motivated fossil fuel apologist and hack would believe that the planet was not warming with all the evidence of such warming beyond surface temperature records, evidence like the loss of sea ice, loss of glacier ice, decrease in snow coverage, sea level rise, increased ocean heat content, specie migration, earlier springs, longer growing seasons, and increases in humidity to name a few.

    Make no mistake – leftist PC has infected the corporate engineering world. ;)

    Making buildings more energy efficient and *green* are smart economic decisions, leftist PC has nothing to do with it.

  28. 178
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Freeman Dyson was a brilliant physicist with uncanny mathematical insight. He made contributions to placing Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) on a solid footing that probably should have won him a Nobel Prize (Richard Feynman, Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga shared the 1965 prize for QED, and the prize can only be split 3 ways).
    His climate denial really had more to do with the fact he’d fallen in love with a Star Trek fantasy of humans propagating through the cosmos, and subsequently dismissed any impediments to that fantasy with a wave of a technological magic wand. He was the ultimate technological optimist, imagining bright utopias awaiting a species that, after all, ain’t that bright.

  29. 179

    KIA 169: Al Gore Warming

    BPL: Automatic fail for bringing up Al Gore. That’s the Godwin’s Law of climate debate.