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Unforced Variations: Nov 2020

Filed under: — group @ 2 November 2020

This month’s open thread for climate science. As if there wasn’t enough going on, we have still more hurricanes in the Atlantic, temperature records tumbling despite La Niña, Arctic sea ice that doesn’t want to reform, bushfire season kicking off in the Southern Hemisphere while we are barely done with it in the North…

Welcome to the new normal, folks.

148 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Nov 2020”

  1. 51
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    A book, “Brave New Arctic: The Untold Story of the Melting North” by Mark. C. Serreze was reviewed in the latest issue of “Weather”, the magazine published by the Royal Meteorology Society.

    The review ends with a link to an interesting talk on YouTube.

    In that video Mark describes how he began his career as physical geographer sceptical that anthropogenic gases were having a significant effect on the climate of the Arctic. His epiphany came when he discovered that the small ice sheets, which he had surveyed as an undergraduate student had almost disappeared twenty years later. Prior to that he had dismissed any signs of warming as just the results of natural variability. But even now he dismisses the warnings of greater dangers as coming from those whom he regards as alarmists.

    At 46 minutes in a questioner asks “… it seems to me of what you are doing is looking back on your own career as a scientist and saying “Look, I was wrong, as it turns out,” and trying to understand, to make sense of why and how that could have been, and I want to know whether there is a little bit more of self-criticism that would be possible? I remember myself sitting in a class in 1965 Roger Revelle who at that time indicated that they had been sending balloons up into the atmosphere over Hawaii had collected the carbon dioxide and that it was increasing. This is in 1965 and he said if it continues and he drew a graph of the temperature change. He, he already saw it as long time ago. He was not the only one and so the real question is: “Was there something wrong with your philosophy of science that you hung so much on empirical results while the models were predicting something else? Or and why was one so sceptical in one direction rather than the other?”

    Mark replies: “Yeah, I think the way I always saw this, even when I was coming into grad school, for me it was not really a question of if we would see the climate warm in response to the rising concentrations of greenhouse gases. I mean the Keeling curve started in ’58, right? And people had been doing all sorts of measurements there. It wasn’t really a question of “If?”, because the physics were solid. Jim Hansen came out with, you know, early papers on this, right.

    It was a question of whether we had seen it yet, and that’s largely where my scepticism came in. Not that I didn’t see the physics and where it was going, but it was a question “Is it here yet?” And the answer for a long time to me was “No”, and that’s because it was well hidden by this natural variability.

    Now in terms of self-reflection, I think as important pointers is to go the other way on this is that there is a tendency, I think even among some climate scientists, and I’ve been guilty of this myself, okay, to overplay things, over sensationalise things at times. They know in other words every, every extreme event that hits, right, “Oh, “It’s climate change” and that’s not right, okay, often it is not. Often I mean sometimes it’s “bad luck happens”, right, and I think as a group scientists we need to be more careful in this respect and in sticking with the facts, sticking with the science. You know.

    My view, I mean, although they’re right, here I think there’s plenty of shrill on both sides. On the far left, right, “Oh we’re all doomed!” okay. On the far right, “This is all a bunch of nonsense” or “Fake news”. Right. Neither of those are helpful; neither of those are gonna get us anywhere. Right. We have to take a pragmatic view of what has happened and take pragmatic steps forward but going back to the original question, it was not really a question of “If”, it was more question of “when”. Now having said that I know a whole lot more about the physics today than I knew back then, so I’ve learnt a lot myself.”

    Questioner 2: “My question is about those feedback mechanisms. So, you highlight some of the feedback mechanisms that when the ice cap gone, and the land absorb heat rather than reflecting it when there was ice and so it’s the permafrost wildcard. So do you feel that going forward we already passed upon that you know all this feedback effect will sort of continue on the trend even though we’re not emitting any greenhouse gas that you know all the ice cap will melt Greenland will go, and Antarctica will go.”

    Mark: “Well the feedbacks are key, okay. If you look at the biggest uncertainty in climate change right now – “How warm is it going to get?” Right. A lot of it has to do with these feedbacks because we still need to go a long way to understand them, I think, Hey, it bears on something called the climate sensitivity thing, but the thing about feedbacks is they can be reversed, right, In other words if you can get a handle on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere the Arctic sea ice would come back, okay, because the feedback actually goes the other way as well.”

    It is not that easy. There is a little matter of hysteresis. The Greenland ice sheet is only there because its altitude keeps the surface cold. If it melts away, then we would need to cool the planet down to ice age temperature for it to regrow. Taking temperatures down to pre-Industrial temperatures would be of no avail. The sea ice is similar. Salt water needs to be cooled below -2°C to freeze and that can only happen if the air gets even colder. Without sea ice to cool the air then the ice will not form.

    Mark continued: “One of the most important feedbacks out there is water vapour feedback that you warm it up for a little bit, hey, Now you put more water vapour in the atmosphere but water vapour is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere but that furthers the warming, okay. … Now that can happen pretty quick, but if you could cool things down a bit that water vapour comes out. You start to cool down again. So, I think the point I am trying to make here is that the Arctic anyhow could recover, and parts of it, you know like the sea ice, could actually recover fairly quickly. At some point the feedbacks can’t just run away with themselves because there’s other negative feedbacks that kick in. For example, if things start to get really warm that means the Earth radiates to space at a higher temperature and that’s a cooling mechanism, right. So, if these positive feedbacks were the dominant thing, the climate would run away with itself, but it doesn’t!

    Unfortunately, that is not true. The climate does run away with itself. It ran away at the start of the Holocene when temperatures in Greenland rose by 10°C within three years, and by another 10°C in the following 50 years. An even greater runaway had happened at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum. Who knows where the tipping point will be? After we have raised the Arctic temperatures by 5°C? by 2°C, or by 1.5°C?

  2. 52
    nigelj says:

    MPassey@30, I notice you said “When we consider all the mischief that various top-downisms have caused, it suggests the libertarian view that the presumption in regulating the various facets of society should be toward laissez-faire, because the unencumbered exchange of ideas and stuff is where human progress evolves.”

    This in turn suggests you understand that no system can exist without at least some top down authority, even if it just imposes basic criminal law. Because without that we have the law of the jungle, so its not an either or question between total freedom of the individual and a top down authority. Its a question of how much top down authority we should properly have because none at all is the law of the jungle, and too much can cause known, recognised problems.

    So what things should governments regulate, control, own, run and administer? Many libertarians say few as possible, or only property law, but I just suggest that’s not really much of an approach and we have to look at each case on its merits. I do think we can make a good case for governments regulating just where self regulation doesn’t work very well. This includes certain issues related to health and safety and environmental issues. In contrast, I think occupational licencing sometimes goes too far and just protects elites.

    ————————————-

    Mal Adapted, I cant help but feel that inside every consequentialist libertarian there lurks an ontological libertarian trying to get out. The history of our own libertarian party suggests this. FWIW, I really just don’t much like libertarianism, and its dog eat dog mentality. Ayn Rand is entertaining but shouldn’t be taken too literally.

  3. 53
    Russell says:

    49

    Mal, those looking for slapfights should check out the WWF* End Of Days tournament at Climate Depot

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2020/11/is-man-inside-bear-suit-new-lame-duck.html

    * What Warming? Federation

  4. 54
    nigelj says:

    BPL @ 28

    I seem to have had a slightly similar personal history to yours, even down to reading books by Von Daniken, Friedman and Rand when young, and while initially impressed I eventually rejected them. Rand grew up in the Soviet Union and I guess one can understand her hating socialism, but her books are really just a one sided ridiculous view where trade unions can do nothing right, and corporations and “individualists” can do nothing wrong.

    I lean slightly liberal on social policy, and slightly left on economics and I think governments do need to regulate business in moderation. I agree with your analysis of market economics and libertarianism and medium sized government. I think libertarianism is way out at the end of the spectrum and is a bit crazy and like OCD. I like freedom like anyone, but ultimately libertarianism allows people to harm others too much, and isn’t workable or practical.

  5. 55
    Ed Addis says:

    Why is there no place on this website to contact you? Are you afraid of the kind of messages you would receive?

    [Response: contact@realclimate.org as listed on the About page above. We await your message with fear and trepidation.]

    If any of you associated with this site is actually a scientist, or knows anything about science, you will know that proper scientific method requires evidence – not just speculation. You will also know very well that there is no direct evidence whatsoever that rising carbon emissions are causing warming. A proper scientist knows that correlation does not prove causation.

    [Response: Contributor bios. ]

    To continue to promote the ideas of man-made climate change through rising carbon emissions, and of net zero carbon, which will do untold damage to economies and to people’s lives around the world, is dangerous and responsible in the extreme.

    Stop doing it.

    [Response: Lol. – gavin]

  6. 56
    Ray Ladbury says:

    M. Passey@30: “When we consider all the mischief that various top-downisms have caused, it suggests the libertarian view that the presumption in regulating the various facets of society should be toward laissez-faire, because the unencumbered exchange of ideas and stuff is where human progress evolves.”

    Because laissez-faire policies have never had any undesirable consequences ever, anywhere! Good Lord, man, did you even think before you wrote that? Even Adam Smith realized that markets would require occasional intervention to remain free. Laissez-faire almost always winds up being a rationale for the rich and powerful doing whatever they damn well please to the poor and forgotten.

    And while we are at it, how in the hell did capitalism ever become equated with free markets. Capitalism is all about maximizing the return from your assets–no matter what the cost to others. In fact, getting others to pay the costs–through rents, patents, barriers to entry, monopolies favorable regulation–is the name of the game. The freest markets I ever saw were in Communist China, long before Deng finished with his reforms.

    Capitalism fears truly free markets every bit as much if not more than socialism, communism or any other economic system.

  7. 57

    #55, Ed A–

    I nominate this entry for the D-K Hall of Fame!

  8. 58
    nigelj says:

    Just a thought related to what RL said @56. A perfect example of why libertarianism is not a practical ideology, relates to how it treats monopolies. Monopolies typically abuse market power and cause all sorts of problems, so governments have various laws to prevent too many monopolies forming, and sometimes governments break them up, and where you have natural monopolies like the electricity lines companies, governments regulate them. But Libertarians typically oppose all of this (certainly the ontological libertarians do) because its “government interference in the economy”. Absurd and impractical. Bad underlying philosophies like libertarianism tend to lead to absurd outcomes.

  9. 59

    #56, Ray, following from M Passey @ #30–

    IMO & FWIW, I’ve come to believe that 1) the chief reason for the “all the mischief that various top-downisms have caused” is that they have in those cases been fetishized as panacea, and 2) that fetishizing “laissez faire” will have–in fact, has had–results fully as bad, and arguably in the present context even worse.

    No theoretical social or economic system now extant (nor envisaged) is going to bring about Utopia–remember, the very term itself was derived to suggest “noplace.” And More was smarter in this regard than all the RL utopians who have followed since.

    What that means for praxis is that we need to deploy different theoretical perspectives and analytic tools, and hold them in a creative tension that will prevent us from enacting encore the ‘demarches’ that always seem to attend the imposition of theoretical extremism on the real world.

  10. 60
    MA Rodger says:

    Ed Addis @55,
    I’m not in any way sure what you actually mean by “direct evidence.”
    If it were a case of law, the term does mean something particular – it refers to first-hand evidence directly experienced by a witness, as opposed to heresay. And of course as you say, in science evidence is also required. But it is usually the plain old-fashioned sort of scientific evidence.
    As you seem very sure there is in this scientific context of CO2-induced warming that there is “no direct evidence whatsoever,” perhaps you ned to explain what you mean by “direct evidence.”

  11. 61
    mike says:

    at ABM at 51: thanks for that interesting contribution.

    so, Mark Serezze says at one point: “… I think there’s plenty of shrill on both sides. On the far left, right, “Oh we’re all doomed!” okay. On the far right, “This is all a bunch of nonsense” or “Fake news”. Right. Neither of those are helpful; neither of those are gonna get us anywhere. Right. We have to take a pragmatic view of what has happened and take pragmatic steps forward but going back to the original question, it was not really a question of “If”, it was more question of “when”. Now having said that I know a whole lot more about the physics today than I knew back then, so I’ve learnt a lot myself.”

    I think it’s interesting to watch a scientist wrestle with the failings of their imagination and vision as Serezze seems to be doing. I also think it’s a shame that he falls into the both sides do it trap, because one side: the side that says global warming is all nonsense is just dead wrong. These folks do not represent any significant scientific understanding that overturns or even seriously questions the consensus scientific view that global warming is happening and that it is happening in large part because of our species’ ghg emissions. Dismissing global warming as nonsense is qualitatively different from looking at global warming and our emissions and asking, are we moving fast enough to avoid a climate catastrophe. One position has a scientific basis and one does not.

    as you observe, Serreze dismisses the possibility of runaway climate, so he has doubled down on the earlier error on his part for not believing global warming had arrived yet because he hadn’t seen it. Now he does not believe that the climate runaway is possible because he hasn’t seen it yet.
    Seeing is believing, right? God help us all when Serreze sees runaway climate and has a new epiphany about global climate.

    Thanks for sharing this,

    Cheers,

    Mike

  12. 62
    William B Jackson says:

    Ed Addis @ #55 Stepped right in the old bucket eh? LOL!

  13. 63
    Western Hiker says:

    I enjoyed the replies to my comment regarding Sequim/Los Angeles. Thanks to all.
    Nothing to add for now (Mal Adapted is an especially hard act to follow) but maybe I can come up with something in a few days.

  14. 64
    Jgnfld says:

    That was a truly amazing screed. At least you didn’t throw out the typical worldwide conspiracy of scientists for the past many decades-actually century now in some cases-to try to take over the world accusation we’ve seen so many times before. That’s something I guess. Or is that still coming?

    The evidence–is contained in literally thousands of research articles, books, and other publications all reviewed by competent peers. Are you a competent climate scientist in any specialty in the area?

  15. 65
    Piotr says:

    Hi, Ed Addis @55

    You seem to know so much about science and how the climate scientists running this blog are not real scientists – could you please point us to your publications, so we can know how the true climate science is done?
    I tried to Googlescholar you, but this “Addis Ababa” guy keeps crowding you out. And when I tried: “Ed Addis proves that climate change is a hoax ” – did not match any articles.

    And Gavin will not shup up NOW that you told him that his science “is responsible in the extreme” ….

  16. 66
    Ray LadburyW says:

    Ed Addis@55

    And Jesus fricking wept! Where do you dumbasses who have never been exposed to actual science keep coming from? I mean at the very least, I’d expect you to be familiar with the >30 years of controversy resulting from pitting real scientists against innumerate dumbfucks.

  17. 67
    Killian says:

    Yes, Mike @ 61:

    https://twitter.com/KrVaSt/status/1326119286708957185?s=19

    It seems very likely (99%) the global mean surface-temperature anomaly will make a jump to a crucial level in about a few months:
    1.5°C (baseline 1880-1920)
    2.2°C (baseline 1720-1800),
    when La-Niña conditions have faded away.
    We even don’t have to wait till a next El-Niño event.

    https://t.co/bYlyHVRZc4

    It doesn’t require runaway climate to co-trigger collapse and push us into massive mass extinction, just Rapid Climate Change, and that’s a ready here.

  18. 68

    EA 55: there is no direct evidence whatsoever that rising carbon emissions are causing warming.

    BPL: Ed, pick up a book on climate science and read through it. If you enjoy math, work the problems. Education is your friend.

  19. 69

    A question for any and all: the consensus for some years now has been that hurricanes were projected to become more intense, but not more frequent. “Stronger hurricanes, but not more hurricanes,” was a frequent summary statement. But this season is bringing a point to mind: if the accurate descriptor is indeed “not more frequent,” then what of potential extension of the hurricane season?

    Conventionally, hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, and it is said that this span accounts for 97% of Atlantic tropical cyclones. However, they can form, and historically have formed, in any month. (March appears to be the least likely month for cyclone formation. This makes sense as that’s the coldest month for relevant SSTs, if I’m reading Carton & Zhou (1997) aright–and if they got it right, back in the day.)

    So “extension of the season” would mean a probabilistic shift in which, presumably, the likelihood of May and December storms would increase significantly. I note that the current season started early, and is just the latest of a series to do so:

    This marked the record sixth consecutive year with pre-season systems.

    So, what are the prospects? Are we seeing shifts in SST climatology that could plausibly drive an extension of the season? And I know that hurricane data are noisy, with serious data issues for earlier times particularly, but given what we do have, are there any hints that the season is in fact extending?

    This season is of course exceptional–we know that it’s as active as it has been in large part due to the ongoing La Nina, and it was widely forecast to be a more than usually active season. So that’s “internal variability,” and this season is not going to be a “new normal.” But what of the possibility of a real shift in hurricane climatology along the lines I’ve been pondering above?

    Obviously, if the season were to extend, and the frequency of storms per month during that season remained unchanged, we’d end up seeing “more hurricanes” after all–not just stronger ones.

  20. 70
    jgnfld says:

    BPL: “Education is your friend.”

    Not if you’ra denier. It’s actually an enemy.

  21. 71
    Russell says:

    55

    Mr. Addis should note that Real Climate also provides cartoons for those who find climate science hard to grasp:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2017/07/red-teamblue-team-day-1/

  22. 72
    MPassey says:

    Ray Ladbury @56, Kevin McKinney @59.

    I didn’t bring up top-downism to argue for libertarianism the political ideology.
    The evolutionary perspective always seems to have the most explanatory power in economics, social sciences, political sciences. I wonder if there is a pathway there to evidence-based public policy that might transcend the right-left polarity:

    “The concept of regulation in economics and public policy needs to be better aligned to the biological concept of regulation. The idea of no regulation should be regarded as patently absurd, whereas determining the proper kind of regulation and the role of formal government in regulatory processes are central topics of inquiry.” Complexity and Evolution (Strüngmann Forum Reports) (pp. 44-45). The MIT Press.

    In their book Complexity and the Art of Public Policy, Colander and Kupers recognize the problem of top-downism and describe their idea of Laissez-Faire Activism. “The goal of policy in the complexity frame is not to implement government’s will, but to implement the people’s will through governmental institutions. Government is simply an institution built by people to help solve collective choice problems.”

    Perhaps that aligns with your statement Kevin McKinney, “we need to deploy different theoretical perspectives and analytic tools…..”

    But, I do think that intelligent-design mentality has been a particular problematic operator in human social structure. We’ve gotten past emperor-gods and the divine right of kings, but we still have utopian ideologies “fetishized as panacea”. Nicholas Madura has repeatedly called Hugo Chavez “the Redeemer Christ of the Americas.” And yes, Ray Ladbury, I do think Chavez’ version of socialism created more misery than whatever more laissez-faire system it replaced. Numerous similar examples.

    Anyhow, my main point was that when I scan this forum occasionally, a lot of the ideas for mitigation seem pretty top-downy to me and the chances of creating more suffering by mitigation attempts than is likely from climate change itself seems huge to me.

  23. 73
    jgnfld says:

    Re. direct evidence, forgot to ask Ed to “prove through direct evidence” that stars are giant balls of fusing hydrogen at great distances. None of those nasty math models allowed. Direct experimental evidence only. [Hint: Can’t be done.]

    For the inverse of basically the same point which concerns dogmatists like you appear to be, consider Russell’s Teapot.

  24. 74
    mike says:

    back to the Guardian piece on methane deposits being released:

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/oct/27/sleeping-giant-arctic-methane-deposits-starting-to-release-scientists-find

    What I read in that piece is: “The international team onboard the Russian research ship R/V Akademik Keldysh said most of the bubbles were currently dissolving in the water but methane levels at the surface were four to eight times what would normally be expected and this was venting into the atmosphere.

    “At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing,” said the Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, in a satellite call from the vessel.

    Reactions to this piece have suggested that this article indicates that there imminent massive releases of CH4. I don’t find anything in the article that states anything like this. Did I miss the part where the Guardian or the scientists talked about imminent massive releases of CH4?

    Cheers

    Mike

  25. 75
    Adam Lea says:

    69: “A question for any and all: the consensus for some years now has been that hurricanes were projected to become more intense, but not more frequent. “Stronger hurricanes, but not more hurricanes,” was a frequent summary statement. But this season is bringing a point to mind: if the accurate descriptor is indeed “not more frequent,” then what of potential extension of the hurricane season?”

    Assuming you are specifically talking about the Atlantic hurricane season, my understanding is the inhibiting factor to hurricane genesis prior to June is sea surface temperature, it is (on average) not warm enough and the vertical instability is insufficient for sustained organised deep convection. The primary inhibiting factor in November and December is vertical wind shear as the jet stream migrates southward, the sea surface temperature is still sufficient (in some regions) to fuel a hurricane. With a warming climate, I’d expect an extension of the season to manifest itself at the beginning of the season more than the end, unless a changing climate also changes the behaviour of the jet stream and reduces vertical wind shear over the Caribben Sea/Gulf and the subtropical Atlantic in the autumn/early winter.

    In the NW Pacific, the primary breeding ground for tropical cyclones, the annual activity is less influenced by local sea surface temperatures than in the Atlantic. The primary influence on NW Pacific typhoon activity is the strength of the trade winds, which is related to the sea surface temperature difference between the equatorial central Pacific and the South China Sea. Where this dipole is warm in the east, cool in the west, trade wind speed is reduced, cyclonic vorticity is enhanced, and the typhoon season is more active. Thus it is the atmospheric dynamics and changes in the Walker circulation, primarily induced by ENSO which affect the activity here. How this it likely to change in the future I don’t know, but it is not as simple as warmer SST = more active typhoon seasons, because if the SST warms uniformally across the Pacific, that won’t change the strength of the SST dipole. What a local warming of SST might do is increase the maximum potential intensity of storms that do form, so the odds of getting a supertyphoon given favourable atmospheric conditions might increase.

  26. 76

    MP 72: the chances of creating more suffering by mitigation attempts than is likely from climate change itself seems huge to me.

    BPL: Not to me. Your turn.

  27. 77
    Ray Ladbury says:

    M. Passey, The answer to the conundrum is that “isms” don’t work. Some work better than others, but none can be relied upon as an autopilot. In other words, common-sense human intervention is required to keep things on the rails. And I’ll take your Hugo Chavez and raise you a Franklin Roosevelt New Deal.

    Did it ever occur to you that the reason Venezuela is a morass of misery might have more to do with corruption than system of government?

  28. 78

    #73, jgn–

    “Russell’s teapot”

    #72, M Passey–

    …when I scan this forum occasionally, a lot of the ideas for mitigation seem pretty top-downy to me and the chances of creating more suffering by mitigation attempts than is likely from climate change itself seems huge to me.

    There are indeed a fair few ‘top-downy’ proposals that get presented. But I think the danger of our deliberations here causing much harm is pretty remote. I’ve seen little evidence that we are collectively moving the levers of power. Or the teapots of power, for that matter.

    This is an educative forum, not a deliberative one.

  29. 79
    mike says:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/13/arctic-melting-climate-change?utm_term=8209c775f37ec22237bfa1fe71fd79e1&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUS&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTUS_email

    from that article: “While the world on average has warmed more than 1C because of human-caused climate change, the Arctic is heating much faster. The researchers found the shallow waters were up to 3C hotter than is typical throughout the water column. This year marked the second-biggest sea ice retreat toward the North Pole ever, after 2012.

    “It’s surprising that in my lifetime, particularly in the last five to eight years, how quickly things have changed,” Grebmeier said. “You can’t project like you used to.”

    The warming of the Arctic by up to 3C fits well with the observations of Semiletov and Gustaffson that the methane hydrates in parts of the Laptev Sea have now been perturbed. Perturbed does not mean immediate thaw and imminent release of catastrophic amounts of methane. Perturbed means perturbed. Things are changing in the Arctic and the rate of change and heating in the Arctic poses a challenge for projections.

    Cheers

    Mike

  30. 80
    mike says:

    KM at 69: I believe you are correct that things may have changed for hurricane season. I think hurricane season is probably now longer than it has been in the historic record and the longer hurricane season is likely to produce more named storms. In addition to the number of storms, the warmed waters of the Gulf Coast allow storms to have several landfalls, to lose energy and then to regain energy and reform when the storm moves over open water after a landfall.

    I think it is safe to say that things are now different for hurricanes and different is not good.

    It will take a few years, maybe a decade, for scientists and the public to catch up with the changes that you mention and start talking freely about the new normal for hurricane season. I think a lot of folks along the gulf coast have realized this year that hurricane season is not what it used to be.

    I think you are right about a La Nina bump to the current hurricane season. Maybe we will see a reduction in hurricane number and intensity with a shift away fro LN. When the next El Nino arrives, the weather and climate news will be full of new events, temperature records, glacier and ice melt. Almost no one may notice that hurricane numbers fall off closer to the old normal. Deniers, lukewarmers, etc. will do their worst to make it hard for scientists to speak freely and speculate about the rate of change and its impact.

    I watched Katrina blow up from a Cat 1 to a Cat 5 in a relatively short jaunt across the gulf in the 2005 and told my Houston friends that the gulf coast had become a hurricane disaster/death zone that was really not suitable for human occupation. They laughed it off at the time, then moved to Seattle a few years later. I grew up on the Gulf Coast and watched a lot of hurricanes form, travel and may landfall over the two decades I lived there. Katrina looked like something new. I had not seen a storm build up like that in my youth.

    Cheers

    Mike

  31. 81
    MA Rodger says:

    Kevin McKinney @69,
    The basic physics that allows NASA to tell us “Sea surface temperatures must be 82 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or warmer for tropical cyclone formation and sustenance,” would suggest that warmer seas would increase the geographical spread of such storms as well as the length of the season in which they form.
    Yet, as you say, the conventional wisdom tells us that tropical cyclones will be stronger but not more numerous, this presumably because the other requirements that are required to allow tropical cyclone formation will become less frequent.

    So in the Atlantic, the mega-month of September 2017 would be perhaps what we should therefore expect under AGW, a period when those ‘other requirement’ were in place so the big hurricanes came thick and fast, a whole season squeezed into a month.
    But now we have the 2020 season with a record for storm numbers ( those ‘other requirement’ were in place) yet the season’s early storms were breaking records for not being so powerful and later those that did wind up into major storms didn’t last very long. (Of course, with Hurricane Iota forecast to slam into Central America, we certainly haven’t seen an end to the 2020 season. So the full characteristics of the 2020 season may look different in a few weeks.)

    There is a lot demonstrating the impact of AGW on tropical cyclones but there is also a lot of varibility in what is not a massive data set. (That is there aren’t that many tropical cyclones given the level of variability.) So the findings aren’t as dramatic and far-reaching in their conclusions as could perhaps be expected. So far, that is.
    Instead, so far, it is narrower studies identifying the impacts, studies like (hot off the press) Li & Chakraborty (2020) ‘Slower decay of landfalling hurricanes in a warming world’ (showing hurricanes take longer to decline when over land having arrived from warmer oceans).

  32. 82
    mike says:

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/13/americas/pantanal-fires-climate-change-intl/index.html

    Wetlands in South America are burning.

    “Fires are still raging in parts of the Pantanal, but recovery efforts are already underway.
    The biome has gone through periods of harsh drought in the past. However, Calheiros said the ecosystems are much more fragile than they were just a few decades ago and their capacity to recover is uncertain. The environmental damage inflicted on the Pantanal is also much greater, she added.

    Siqueira said it could take decades to restore what the blazes took. “This will only be possible if we have a normal rainfall from 2020 to 2021,” he said. If there is more drought, he added, the recovery of the plants and animals living in the Pantanal will be much more difficult.”

    Cheers,

    Mike

  33. 83
    Al Bundy says:

    mike: God help us all when Serreze sees runaway climate and has a new epiphany about global climate.

    AB: The problem is that it doesn’t take a runaway like Venus to ruin humanity’s day.
    Even a measly two degrees C ought to bring the Humanity Soup we’re cooking to boil.
    ___________________

    jgnfld: Are you a competent climate scientist in any specialty in the area?

    AB: Way too wordy! I suggest: “Are you competent in any area?”
    __________________

    Guardian: “At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing,” said the Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, in a satellite call from the vessel.

    Mike: Reactions to this piece have suggested that this article indicates that there imminent massive releases of CH4. I don’t find anything in the article that states anything like this. Did I miss the part where the Guardian or the scientists talked about imminent massive releases of CH4?

    AB: Think of it the other way around. We’re well above 400. Lets say we get our act together by 500. Our problem isn’t so much runaway but an inability to reign things back to 280, or even 350. It’s hard to drain the tub when the faucet’s leaking. 500ppm and staying that way makes for one heck of a hot bath.

    Eh, the seas will rise, increasing pressure. Maybe after coastal cities are flooded the methane release will stop. See? No biggie.

  34. 84
    Russell says:

    Will jgnfld please ask Roy Spencer or Calvin Beisner if the Cornwall Alliance has adduced Russells Teapot as proof that God is an Englishman.

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2014/07/he-maketh-me-to-lie-down-in-green.html

  35. 85
    MA Rodger says:

    Both GISTEMP and NOAA have posted October’s global surface temperature, both showing a drop on September’s anomalies and at the bottom end of the 2020 range of anomalies so far.

    GISTEMP shows October with an anomaly of +0.90ºC in a year-so-far range of +0.87ºC to +1.25ºC which averages +1.03ºC.
    October 2020 is =4th warmest October on the GISTEMP record behind 2015 (+1.09ºC), 2018 (+1.02ºC) and 2019 (+1.01ºC), equalling 2017 (+0.90ºC) and above 2018 (+0.88ºC) and 2014 (+0.80ºC).
    2020 remains 2nd warmest in GISTEMP for the Jan-Oct average at +1.03ºC behind 2016 (+1.04ºC) and ahead of 2019 (+0.97ºC).
    For the full calendar year, 2020 will require Nov-Dec to average above +0.905ºC to snatch top spot from 2016 and drop below a rather chilly +0.725ºC to lose 2nd spot to 2019.

    NOAA shows essentially the same, October 2020 (+0.85ºC) the actual lowest monthly anomaly of the year-so-far and 4th warmest October on record.
    Also in NOAA 2020 remains 2nd warmest for the Jan-Oct average at +1.01ºC behind 2016 (+1.03ºC) and ahead of 2019 (+0.94ºC).
    For the full calendar year, 2020 looks more likely to stay in that 2nd spot in the NOAA record, requiring Nov-Dec to average above +0.94ºC to snatch top spot from 2016 and drop below a chilly +0.67ºC to lose 2nd spot to 2019.

  36. 86
    jgnfld says:

    @84

    That, of course, (i.e., existence of God) was the original context of Russell’s analogy. Or any gods for that matter. Never figured out why the christian god always seems to get priority over, say, Vishnu or Chineke. But there it is.

  37. 87
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Russell@84,
    Utterly absurd. We all know that David Bowie has determined definitively that God is an American (in his song “I’m Afraid of Americans”.

    That is the only thing that would explain the utter incompetence of the human knee, back and male reproductive systems.

  38. 88
    Susan Anderson says:

    Kevin McKinney @~69

    I believe tropical storm long-term prediction is a lively and active field, and being based on real science, is changing as more data come in.

    I strongly recommend going to the source where Jeff Masters and Bob Henson regular blog about current storms.
    https://yaleclimateconnections.org/section/eye-on-the-storm/

    There is a lively remnant comment section as well, hanging on as the new comment system at YCC doesn’t yet serve the needs of the community (of whom I am one):
    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/wund/weather_underground_2993/newest/

    Unfortunately, IBM (who own Weather Channel) let Wunderground’s founders and Category6 bloggers go; they briefly found a home at Scientific American, but are now at Yale Climate Connection, a place that also houses a range of expert meteorologists and others interested in evidence and science on climate.

    I’m keeping an open mind, but fwiw it was predicted that this season would be unusual because of a developing La Nina, which is now in full force. And while Iota and Theta are at work (I in the Atlantic west of the Canaries, and T doubling down on the previous disastrous landfall in Central America of Eta), there are more in the pipeline. Meanwhile, Vamco made already Goni-impacted Philippines a disaster, and is now headed for Vietnam. And the southern ocean is just getting started (Madagascar, Australia, and such). Truly a record season.

    Add global warming/climate change (increased heat/energy) to a perturbed system, and voila!

    I was truly delighted by Gavin’s light-handed humor in response to unsupported “alternate facts” (btw, the alternatives to facts are lies), but this subject brings up an interesting point.

    Science is a work in progress. It gets better/more accurate, based on true skepticism. Fake skeptics don’t practice skepticism, they grab anything and everything, no matter how poorly supported, argued, or internally contradictory, to promote a preconceived thesis. This is not science!

  39. 89
    Alastair B. McDonald says:

    Re #50 where Gavin responded “This is total nonsense, and beneath you. The criticism of the claims about imminent massive releases of CH4 from hydrates on the continental shelf in the Arctic are valid – and we have been making them here for a decade (for instance and for instance)”

    It is not total nonsense to cry “fire” when you see a little smoke emerging from beneath the seat in front of you in a cinema. In fact it is your duty!

    Similarly, it is correct to warn of a catastrophe when methane is detected coming from “Large stocks of peatland carbon … vulnerable to permafrost thaw.” See https://www.pnas.org/content/117/34/20438.

    It is not just clathrates that hold methane. Peat can also emit methane. The coastal sea-beds of the Arctic were peatlands before they were flooded when the Bering Strait reopened.

    The Guardian reports:
    “For the second year in a row, his team have found crater-like pockmarks in the shallower parts of the Laptev Sea and East Siberian Sea that are discharging bubble jets of methane, which is reaching the sea surface at levels tens to hundreds of times higher than normal. This is similar to the craters and sinkholes reported from inland Siberian tundra earlier this autumn.”

    I doubt that the Siberian methane is coming from oceanic clathrates, as it seems to me that the pock narks on the sea-bed are also produced by decomposing peat.

    The methane is escaping to the sea surface where as a greenhouse gases it will warm the air there. This may be the reason that the sea-ice this year is missing form the Laptev Sea but not the Beaufort Sea.

    Note that when (not if) the Arctic sea-ice melts away, the Greenland Icesheet will follow. The subsequent rise in sea level will destabilise the Antarctic ice shelves, allowing the Antarctic ice sheets to flow into the ocean raising sea level further and flooding much of the rich agricultural land around the world, which will lead to famine, more refugees, and wars!

  40. 90
    Russell says:

    86, 87

    Even as we speak, the late David Bowie is belting out of the loudspeakers of the Telsla Elon Musk placed in elliptical solar orbit in 2018, but the song being sung is “Space Oddity”, not, ‘I’m Afraid of Americans.” which condemned not the Church of England but the cocaine dealers of Los Angeles.

    This may be moot, however, because Davidbowie, the orbiting asteroid, was christened a year before his death in 2015:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/342843_Davidbowie

    As Lord Russell’s teapots were auctioned off in his estate sale in 2012, wether Musk’s minions secreted one in the Tesla’s glove compartment demains to be discovered.

  41. 91
    Piotr says:

    @50 and @89 Alastair B. McDonald:
    ABMD: The methane is escaping to the sea surface where as a greenhouse gases it will warm the air there. This may be the reason that the sea-ice this year is missing form the Laptev Sea but not the Beaufort Sea.

    So, are you saying that CH4, unlike other atm. gasses, is … extremely poorly horizontally mixed – i.e. it hangs out over the CH4 emission areas and in such high concentrations that it could create multi-degree temperature difference between regions with more and less of these emissions?

    If yes, then I would suggest a way you can prove your claim – show a map of Arctic where, say, monthly temp. in October are overlaid with average CH4 air concentrations over various regions in Arctic. This would prove correlation.

    Now, for causation, or rather for the plausibility of the causation – IN ADDITION you would have to prove that magnitude of the spikes in local CH4 conc. is high enough to absorb enough IR to explain the multi-degree difference between different localities on your map.

    Strong claims (“obviously [they are] deniers”) demand strong proofs. Your Laptev Sea argument does not come even close.

    And to avoid tangential discussion – nobody discusses here that massive release of methane can be a dangerous positive feedback. We are discussing your calling Climate Feedback, and by extension authors of RealClimate, “obviously deniers” just because they say that we haven’t seen this “massive release” yet .

    If anything – it is the getting ahead of the data that gives the deniers a chance – they will latch on such _overstating_ of your case – and use it to attack the validity of the entire case, using the pretext you gave them – to throw the baby out with the bathwater. See, for instance, the denialists using the predictions (based on the ice volume trends) that the summer Arctic will become ice-free by 2013, were used to dismiss the reality Arctic ice-melting and trustworthiness of climate science in general.

  42. 92
    Mal Adapted says:

    Ray Ladbury:

    That is the only thing that would explain the utter incompetence of the human knee, back and male reproductive systems.

    Yep. If my body was intelligently designed, I’d like a word with that designer!

  43. 93
    Mal Adapted says:

    MA Rodger:

    There is a lot demonstrating the impact of AGW on tropical cyclones but there is also a lot of varibility in what is not a massive data set.

    Susan Anderson:

    I believe tropical storm long-term prediction is a lively and active field, and being based on real science, is changing as more data come in.

    Both comments cut the crap nicely. For peer-reviewed support, see this article in BAMS a year ago (my emphasis): Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Assessment: Part I: Detection and Attribution. Abstract:

    An assessment was made of whether detectable changes in tropical cyclone (TC) activity are identifiable in observations and whether any changes can be attributed to anthropogenic climate change. Overall, historical data suggest detectable TC activity changes in some regions associated with TC track changes, while data quality and quantity issues create greater challenges for analyses based on TC intensity and frequency. A number of specific published conclusions (case studies) about possible detectable anthropogenic influence on TCs were assessed using the conventional approach of preferentially avoiding type I errors (i.e., overstating anthropogenic influence or detection). We conclude there is at least low to medium confidence that the observed poleward migration of the latitude of maximum intensity in the western North Pacific is detectable, or highly unusual compared to expected natural variability. Opinion on the author team was divided on whether any observed TC changes demonstrate discernible anthropogenic influence, or whether any other observed changes represent detectable changes. The issue was then reframed by assessing evidence for detectable anthropogenic influence while seeking to reduce the chance of type II errors (i.e., missing or understating anthropogenic influence or detection). For this purpose, we used a much weaker “balance of evidence” criterion for assessment. This leads to a number of more speculative TC detection and/or attribution statements, which we recognize have substantial potential for being false alarms (i.e., overstating anthropogenic influence or detection) but which may be useful for risk assessment. Several examples of these alternative statements, derived using this approach, are presented in the report.

    I, for one, can’t rule out all TC attribution inferences drawn from weaker balance-of-evidence criteria. My confidence in them is low, however. Since AFAICT it’s politically expedient in the US to demand low type I error probability from climate scientists, I can’t publicly support any such ‘alarmist’ (from a denier’s PoV) claims. YMMV!

  44. 94
    mike says:

    at AB 83: quite right. when I say runaway, I am thinking of a “sudden” jump to the 2 degree level that really is catastrophic warming. I am not thinking of a venus type runaway.

    Sudden is also open to definition, so I would say, sudden would be 20 to 30 years.

    Shorthand is not a good idea when discussing global climate when it means we don’t specifiy time frames, or we gloss over the difference between a zero carbon system and a net zero carbon system.

    At ABM 89: I believe you are correct and that Gavin should review his comments at 50 against the actual content of the Guardian article, and particularly against the quotes from the scientists because I don’t think they said anything that suggested an imminent, massive release of CH4.

    Maybe that was just another moment when a person mistakes their epistemology for a metaphysical reality? That’s an easy mistake to make because humans are often tempted to substitute their beliefs for knowledge. Mark Serreze comes to mind in that regard. We all do some of that I think. Some of us more than others probably.

    Cheers

    Mike

  45. 95
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    The climate prognoses derived from climate models suffer from some major problems, which are now very fast becoming obvious:

    1) they can, if they are correct, only tell us about future averages of temperatures etc., not about which extremes to expect.

    But in reality we never experience climate, beacuse climate is just the average weather. We never experience averages, we experience all shifting values including all extremes. That is what determines how our harvests etc. become, not the averages.

    2) When mankind in less than a century has “developed” the chemical composition of the troposphere backwards in time to what it was between at least 15 and probably more than 25 million years ago, we have begun a global full-scale experiment with – as far as science knows – no previous examples for at least the last couple of billion years on this planet. Thus there exists no empirical evidence by which to calibrate the climate models as far as I can understand. What they tell us depends wholly on certain asumptions about things we really don’t know. *Thus the certainty these models are being used to make us believe that we can get from the models’ predictions is pure illusion*. There is no certainty, realistically we know very little about what can happen: There are no known examples of comparable developments from the geological past. The two degrees “goal” (ought to be named limit) of the Paris “Agreement” (what is a non-binding agreement? A contradiction in terms: namely no agreement at all. It is a verbal trick: ie. what Orwell called newspeak) is based on no evidence at all. It’s no more than just a guess.

    The unfolding global climatic destabilisation brings up dramatic shifts which we are just experiencing as they happen. If anyone had predicted just a few years ago, that around 2020 the average air temperature for the whole of Siberia from january to september would lie around six degrees C above 1961-90 climate average, almost noone would have believed it. All the usual suspects would – automatically as always – have ridiculed it “alarmism” etc.

    Now we have watched this sad comedy for far too long: every year the UN chief tells the world’s socalled “leaders” that “the time to act is now” etc. They have repeated this every year for the last thirty years… and we wonder why noone is listening any more? Every thinking being has long ago, just as Greta Thunberg, understood that all this is just theater, or what the austro-german writer Herman Broch in his famous novel “The Guiltfree” about the rise of fascism in Germany called “making noise with the souls”, and Shakespeare far earlier “Much ado about nothing”. We live in the age of unenlightened moneyism: almost everyone, and especially our medial/political priesthood/entertainment business, believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that money both can be eaten and change the laws of nature. Which is nothing but stupidity. The emperor is naked. Many – a small majority in the US it seems – are laughing at Trump, but why don’t they realize, that his bottomless stupidity is the product of their own?

  46. 96
    Al Bundy says:

    Ray L: That is the only thing that would explain the utter incompetence of the human knee, back and male reproductive systems.

    AB: Strange yet interesting song (“I’m afraid of Americans”). And you forgot the female urological system. Oh, and our way dysfunctional brains.

  47. 97
    Al Bundy says:

    Alistair B McDonald: It is not total nonsense to cry “fire” when you see a little smoke emerging from beneath the seat in front of you in a cinema. In fact it is your duty!

    AB: I disagree. One’s “duty” is to do stuff that generally improves outcomes. If one sees a little smoke then one should invest two or three neurons on analysis before putting other patrons at risk of being trampled to death.

    Choose tomorrow’s headline:
    “Some stoners enjoyed the show” vs. “twelve die in unnecessary stampede”.

  48. 98
    Dan DaSilva says:

    Release the Kraken

  49. 99
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Al Bundy@96,
    Check out Dweezil Zappa’s take on the song–a lot less synthesizer and a lot more interesting vocals, creative sound effects and astounding guitar solors.

    There’s also a video about how they did the recording.

    Both are on Youtube.

  50. 100
    Mal Adapted says:

    Not a peer-reviewed article, but the NYTimes generally tries to get the science right. OTOH, its authors may “use a weaker balance of evidence criterion” when writing for public consumption. Anyway, from last week, 5 Things We Know About Climate Change and Hurricanes. They are:

    1. Higher winds
    2. More rain
    3. Slower storms
    4. Wider-ranging storms
    5. More volatility

    In BAMS a while back, Kerry Emanuel warns hurricane forecasters about item 5 in particular:

    As the climate continues to warm, hurricanes may intensify more rapidly just before striking land, making hurricane forecasting more difficult.

    The take-home from the NYTimes piece is:

    Researchers can’t say for sure whether human-caused climate change will mean longer or more active hurricane seasons in the future, but there is broad agreement on one thing: Global warming is changing storms.

    That appears to be the scientific consensus for now, but as Ms. Anderson says, “tropical storm long-term prediction is a lively and active field, and being based on real science, is changing as more data come in.”

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