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Unforced variations: Dec 2020

Filed under: — group @ 1 December 2020

This month’s open thread. Topics might include the record breaking hurricane season, odds for the warmest year horse race (and it’s relevance or not), or indeed anything climate science related.

304 Responses to “Unforced variations: Dec 2020”

  1. 1
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @163(Nov),
    The dividing line between UV & FR discussion-matter is well put.
    Still sitting on that divided, on the subject of the speed of reduction of our GHG emissions, if zero-carbon by 2050 is non-controversial, and that is 30 years away, cutting by 33% by 2030 should perhaps be a non-controversial intermediate target.
    And if so, increasing it to 50% is not so a big a numerical leap.
    And if the real wrold made tightening targets from 33% to 50% more a humugously big big ‘technological’ leap (because all those grand plans to achieve 33% by 2030 may become so much harder if not impossible when 50% is the target); if this were the case, the explanation should be reasonably straightforward. Of course this is not straightforward.
    There are no grand plans to reduce our GHG emissions by 33% by 2030. The science is still facing effectively what is political non-action although it has progressed to the point where political promises are more infected with green-wash than by out-right denial.

    mike @164(Nov),
    The talking head is Dave Borlace who lives in London although the accent sound like there is a bit of South Yorkshire in there.
    He is an amateur climatologist but has approached the AGW messaging like a professoinal.

    Mind, here at RealClimate the scientific bar is hopefully set a bit higher than videos aimed at public consumption.
    So I would point to the explanation of GHG-operation given in the video you link-to being deficient and the subject of the video, Arctic methane, is scientifically over-blown.

    Correctly the vidoe decribes the atmospheric CH4 increase since pre-industrial as being large but within that, the question of how much the Arctic methane contribution has been and is now and will be in the future is poorly described.
    There is the point in the video where a 50Gt(CH4) event is considered, a full Shakhova event, and described as causing a very rapid +0.6ºC global temperature increase in less than a single year that would apparently be “obviously pretty dramatic and possibly existentially threatening for most large species on the planet, including humans.”
    The “existential” adjective attached to the +0.6ºC is surely a nonsense. For instance, the 1998 El Niño year boosted global temperature +0.2C above previous levels with no evident signs of catastrophe for large species that I heard of.
    (I’m not sure the effect of the hypothetically ‘hyperbolic’ 1 Shakhova Event but if it were +0.6ºC in a single year, that would be just the start of the ‘direct’ impact which would not equalise the bulk of the climate forcing so quickly. Things don’t happen that quick.)

    And following this we are then treated to a repeat of the message from that Guardian article that appeared in the Nov UV thread.
    Yes the video warns this with a message for us not to be carried away by “hypothetical hyperbole” but that said, it is soon forgotten.
    Apparently there is “no doubt these prelimenary findings represent a very worrying trend with serious potential to accelerate the warming of our atmosphere. … The scientists on that boat are in no doubt that the geological ecosystem at the top of the world has reached yet another tipping point and the question is no longer ‘if’ methane will be released into our atmosphere in lage volume, but ‘when’.”

    The video does take a nod towards the bulk of the science on Arctic methane. It actually waves Ruppel & Kessler (2017) ‘The interaction of climate change and methane hydrates’ which may be recalled from its appearance on the Nov UV thread (as it contained the value ‘555 Gt yr−1 CH4’ when it should have been ‘Mt yr-1’), having been introduced by yours truly as an exemplar of the science which that Guardian article should have been aware of but which was ignored.

  2. 2
    mike says:

    how about a little methane science to kick of December?

    Crustal fingering facilitates free-gas methane migration through the hydrate stability zone

    “Widespread seafloor methane venting has been reported in many regions of the world oceans, challenging our current estimate of global carbon budget. Yet, we still do not fully understand the fundamental mechanisms by which methane gas migrates through the deep marine sediments, feeding these vents. A key challenge is the formation of methane hydrate, an ice-like solid that forms from a methane–water mixture under pressure and temperature conditions typical of deep marine settings. Here, we study the mechanics of gas percolation under hydrate-forming conditions using experiments and computational modeling. We uncover a phenomenon, which we call crustal fingering, that helps explain how, counterintuitively, hydrate formation may facilitate instead of prevent methane gas migration through deep ocean sediments.”

    https://www.pnas.org/node/963500.abstract?collection=

    CO2 is the big dog, of course. Methane is a little dog of global warming. One reason to focus on methane however is that it is not clear that we have a way to leash that little dog if we allow too much warming through our fascinating experiment with injecting a massive CO2 pulse into the atmosphere.

    Cheers

    Mike

  3. 3
    mike says:

    is this study suggesting that warming of the far north may stimulate cloud creation that might dampen the warming feedback process to some degree?

    That would be good news. I can use some good news.

    Separating direct and indirect effects of rising temperatures on biogenic volatile emissions in the Arctic

    “Plants release to the atmosphere reactive gases, so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The release of VOCs from vegetation is temperature-dependent and controlled by vegetation composition because different plant species release a distinct blend of VOCs. We used modelling approaches on ecosystem VOC release data collected across the Arctic, which is experiencing both rapid warming and vegetation changes. We show that warming strongly stimulates release of plant-derived VOCs and that vegetation changes also increase VOC release, albeit less than temperature directly, and with large geographic differences in the Pan-Arctic area. The increasing VOC flux from the Arctic tundra to the atmosphere may have implications via climate feedbacks, for example, through particle and cloud formation in these regions with low anthropogenic influence.”

    https://www.pnas.org/node/963097.abstract?collection=

  4. 4
    mike says:

    At mar at 1: yeah, mostly sounds right. However, I will note that the Beeb pushed back at Boris Johnson’s 10 point green program and says the reasonable target is 70% by 2030. Let’s leave that discussion on the FR thread.

    Cheers

    Mike

  5. 5
    Ric Merritt says:

    Sidebar for Al Bundy, from end of previous month —

    Few “voluntarily” adopt any dialect, accent, or diction, and even fewer attempt to teach their kids favoring some artificial preference. Language is transmitted to children, starting from infancy, and evolves as populations clump and separate.

  6. 6
    MA Rodger says:

    UAH TLT has reported for November with an anomaly of +0.53ºC, a tad down from the +0.54ºC October anomaly. The 2020 anomalies Jan-Nov average +0.515ºC and range from +0.38ºC up to +0.76ºC.
    Nov 2020 is the second warmest November on the UAH record, behind Nov 2019 (+0.55ºC) and ahead of 3rd-placed November 2016 (+0.48ºC), 2017 (+0.35ºC), 2015 (+0.34ºC) and 2009 (+0.27ºC).
    November 2020 has the 20th highest monthly anomaly in the UAH TLT record.
    The 2020 average Jan to Nov is the second warmest on record, below 2016 (+0.55ºC) and above 1998 (+0.50ºC), 2019 (+0.43ºC) and 2017 (+0.40ºC).
    The full calendar year for 2020 may still feasibly snatch the top spot from El Niño-boosted 2016 if the December anomaly tops +0.63ºC but would require a December anomaly below a severely chilly +0.13ºC to drop into third below 1998 with its +0.48ºC annual anomaly. Given El Niño impacts the TLT significantly, for 2020 to be rivaling 2016 for top spot so closely suggests the planet is running on hot even on the trend-denying UAH TLT record.

  7. 7
    nigelj says:

    Regarding setting emissions targets. The Paris accord aims for net zero emissions by 2050. Mike thinks we should have intermediate targets eg 50% by 2030. MAR mentions 33% by 2030. You could in theory even have 5 year targets like the Chinese do for their economy.

    But surely you only really need intermediate targets if there was to be a staged strategy where for example the earlier targets are set higher or lower than later targets. I think there could be a danger that if we formalise intermediate targets, you can bet the politicians would make the early ones less ambitious, kicking some of the can down the road. Thats because they are politicians. So maybe intermediate targets are not a great idea.

    If we want to know how we are doing after for example 5 years, its easy enough to work out. Right now we know we aren’t doing enough to meet the Paris accord targets and even the pledges to do more won’t be enough. This is probably because politicians and many of the public have been hoping the problem isn’t too large, or will just go away, like an aching joint. Well its not going to go away and one suspects people are starting to realise this by now, which might hopefully soon become a stimulus for more action.

  8. 8
    Russell says:

    While ocean acidification may have put paid to efforts to save President Trump’s second term in office:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2020/11/trump-recount-latest-victim-of-ocean.html

    The revival of Presiden Obama’s Executive Order 13707 could impact decarbonization policy in ways unforeseen:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2020/12/next-biden-bovine-behavioral-science.html

  9. 9
    zebra says:

    James McDonald question, from the previous UV #123 and #162,

    re https://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/E2415#F9

    If you read the paper again, you will find this about the broadening (my bold):

    How will loading of the climate dice continue to change in the future? Fig. 4 provides a clear, sobering, indication. The temperature anomaly distribution shifts to the right and broadens with global warming, the broadening presumably the expected effect of global warming on the water cycle, as discussed below. The hot tail of the temperature anomaly distribution shifted by more than +1σ in response to the global warming of about 0.5 °C over the past three decades. Additional global warming in the next 50 y, if business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions continue, is expected to be at least 1 °C (4). In that case, the further shifting of the anomaly distribution will make +3σ anomalies the norm and +5σ anomalies will be common.

    That answers your original question, I believe.

    However, I’m going to point out that a source of confusion here is sloppy language, by the professionals as well as many here. You said:

    The major point of the paper is that a moderate shift in the mean of a normal distribution (say 1 or 2 SD) will have a much more dramatic effect on outliers than on values near the mean,

    But that really makes no sense, although the unclear language in the paper might tempt you to think it.

    The mean of a distribution is an effect, not a cause!

    In all the decades I’ve followed and commented on this topic, I see this error repeated…again, even by the professionals…and I think it certainly contributes to misunderstanding, like we hear from Victor.

    Rasmus on the other thread is talking about getting more statisticians involved, but the physicists involved have to be more disciplined/restrained in the use of statistical terminology. When communicating to the public, it has to be clear that local extremes are not the result of GMST increasing, but GMST increasing is the result of local extremes.

  10. 10

    Emissions goals are really FR turf, but briefly, let’s not forget that the Paris process already has progress reports built in:

    There will also be a global stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties.

    https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

    Remember too that NDCs are to be “successive”–i.e., they are supposed to be in force for a few years, then be followed by more stringent ones.

  11. 11
    Martin Smith says:

    Would TLT be the surface temperature if the surface was at 16,000 feet? Is it measuring the greenhouse effect as if the greenhouse effect begins at 16,000 feet?

  12. 12

    Only tangentially related to methane, Arctic or otherwise, anyone know if the project Sir David King kicked off at University of Cambridge, namely, to devise technology to refreeze the Arctic, has received any hard-nosed peer review? Has it been written up anywhere?

  13. 13
    Andrew Sipocz says:

    What’s going on here? Check out the negative trend line of vertical wind shear for the Main Development Region of Atlantic tropical cyclones on page 30 by Dr. Klotzbach.

    https://tropical.colostate.edu/Forecast/2020-11.pdf

    What we’ve heard in the past is that with AGW, climate models show increasing wind shear and thus fewer tropical cyclones in the future, though stronger ones (due to increased ocean temperature). This seems to show that AGW may bring both more (lower wind shear) and stronger tropical cyclones to the Atlantic. This seems to be the case with more, and more rapidly intensifying storms since 2005.

  14. 14
    mike says:

    CBS news thinks the temps in the Arctic are newsworthy:

    Temperatures in the Arctic are astonishingly warmer than they should be

    “According to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanlayzer, this weekend the Arctic Circle was an average 12 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. This is not just one location, but the average of all 7.7 million square miles. That is a huge area, nearly double the size of the entire United States, being on average 12 degrees above normal.”

    This might be connected to the reports of methane in the Laptev Sea, but maybe not. Time will tell.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-arctic-temperatures-warmer/

    CBS might just be throwing out shocking headlines as click bait. That happens I am told

    Cheers

    Mike

  15. 15
    Killian says:

    5 Ric Merritt:
    Sidebar for Al Bundy, from end of previous month —

    Few “voluntarily” adopt any dialect, accent, or diction, and even fewer attempt to teach their kids favoring some artificial preference. Language is transmitted to children, starting from infancy, and evolves as populations clump and separate.

    True, but also false. As a 15-year teacher of EFL, I can assure you choices and preferences can be, and often are, quite real. So much so, in fact, that my non-American co-workers have often been asked to use an American accent and fluent English speakers from non-Anglo nations typically still will not be hired to teach English in Korea.

  16. 16
    Jan says:

    Just writing my chapter on turbulence and stratification in the global oceans. Several things came up:

    Earth-system models do not include vertical heat transfer in the oceans – they use a fixed parameter. Why? we can’t because the scales which we would need to do so are in the range of 1.5km to mere 17m grids. The reason is horizontal circulation can be modeled by using grids of 50km because in the horizontal the oceans measure thousands of kilometers. But in the vertical its only kilometers or what matters most just several hundreds of meters. Thus, small scale water movements play a much more important role for vertical mixing through turbulence.

    This means that our Earth-system models are not simulating the most important variable in the Earth System when it comes to temperature: 93-3-3-1 – if this set of numbers change that’s it for humanity – 93% of the extra heat through GHG’s is taken up by the oceans, 3% of the extra energy goes into ice melting, another 3% in evaporation and just 1% of the extra heat is heating the surface up.

    The next thing is stratification of the oceans (0-200-2000m depth).The oceans are stratifying much fast than anticipated. What became obvious to me was that stratification through warming is actually not a function of temperature increase per se but a function of temperature increase AND time. Its really simple: the oceans take up heat faster in the surface layers and with depth it takes much longer.

    This means that if the climate warms 5°C in 5000 years thermal stratification of the oceans is not changed to a high degree (the deeper layers can keep up with the warming). But when the climate is warming 5°C in 100 years the upper layers warm much more than the deeper layers (get lighter, less dense). Thereby, you get much stronger stratification increases.

    This supports besides atmosphere-ocean coupled circulation changes surface heat waves in the oceans like we observe them the last two decades getting ever more extreme and increasing in size (e.g. the blob is repeating in 2019/2020).

    But most important of all the heat uptake of the oceans could be reduced by stratification, thereby leaving more of the extra heat in the atmosphere (currently we do not know and just assume that it will not change! Why? because its convenient). And not much needed here. In short the past is in no way an analogy to the present hyper warm phase because speed of warming could mean everything for the oceans and how they take in heat.

    With the years i found out many weaknesses of Earth system models, but that they do not include the evolution of vertical heat transfer means that they have no meaning at all! The past they could model, but the future with ever faster warming they will not, because they do not include vertical mixing of the oceans under warming and stratification which becomes only relevant after a certain amount of warming like the warming we had the last decade!

    We have no clue about the sensitivity of Earth towards the present temperature increase, because we are not able to include the most important process in the Earth-system! Maybe in 30 to 60 years we will have the computing power to calculate 20m grids of the oceans to simulate vertical circulation/mixing changes inside an Earth-system model!

    All the best

    Jan

  17. 17
    Guest (O.) says:

    For those, who understand german language, this is a must see:

    Maja Göpel grillt Jörg Thadeusz im Talk aus Berlin | 19.11.2020

  18. 18
    John Pollack says:

    Norman Wells Airport, Yukon Territory, Can., 65.3 N, 126.8 W :
    Dec. 3 normal high temperature (1943-2011) -20C, record high -5C,
    Dec. 1-8 record high +0.6C,
    today’s high, so far +10C!

  19. 19
    mike says:

    “Over a 2-day period at the end of July 2020, the Milne Ice Shelf underwent fracturing and collapse, losing 43% of its vast expanse as ice islands calved into the Arctic Ocean (see figure) (1). This sudden attrition of a thick Arctic ice shelf harboring diverse animal and microbial communities (2, 3) is one of many recent events along Canada’s far northern coastline that underscore the vulnerability of polar ice habitats to ongoing climate change.”

    https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6520/1031

    https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/as-high-arctic-ecosystems-collapse-scientists-call-for-increased-protection/

    ch..ch..ch..changes

    fast forward to 2050 and try to visualize this region. what will the CO2 numbers be? How much temp increase will we have seen at that point?

    Cheers

    Mike

  20. 20
    Al Bundy says:

    Science and engineering might point towards decades-long targets, but politicians are generally within three years of election, making four-year targets a stretch, no?

    In other words, what mike said but louder.

    And again, this whole problem arises naturally and without the possibility of reasonable solution if one allows incumbents of any office to run for any office.

  21. 21
    nigelj says:

    https://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-resulting-in-profound-immediate-and-worsening-health-impacts-over-120-researchers-say-151027
    Climate change is resulting in profound, immediate and worsening health impacts, and no country is immune, a major new report from more than 120 researchers has declared.

    This year’s annual report of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, released today, presents the latest data on health impacts from a changing climate.

    Among its results, the report found there were 296,000 heat-related premature deaths in people over 65 years in 2018 (a 54% increase in the last two decades), and that global yield potential for major crops declined by 1.8–5.6% between 1981 and 2019.

  22. 22
    Al Bundy says:

    Ric M,

    Yes, I was being a twit in the hopes of provoking a laugh

  23. 23
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @14 & John Pollack @18,
    Others noting the abnormally high Arctic temperatures are the NSIDC. In their December Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis they begin the report saying:-

    “Entering December, which is the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, sea ice extent remains far below average, dominated by the lack of ice on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the Arctic Ocean. As was the case for October, air temperatures averaged for November were well above average over much of the Arctic Ocean, notably over open water areas.”

    Through November, the 2020 daily Arctic sea ice was not actually the record-holder for low ice (which was 2016, this achievement aided by some autumnal storms) and the absence of ice is allowing the warm (for an Arctic setting) oceans to heat the atmosphere above unhindered by the insulating ice. This low-ice/warm-atmosphere would probably be another AGW feedback mechanism boosting surface temperatures except an Arctic winter is a useful point (I would assume) for radiating unwanted planetary heat out into space.

    The JAXA Arctic SIE shows 2020 Sea Ice Extent grew to rise above 2016 daily values on 2nd Nov and has managed to navigate along in that second spot throughout the month, passing the 10M sq km mark yesterday. (2016 remained as the lowest daily SIE on record through to the last week of the year when it dutifully handed over to the final week of 2017.)

  24. 24

    J 16: they have no meaning at all! The past they could model, but the future with ever faster warming they will not, because they do not include vertical mixing of the oceans under warming and stratification which becomes only relevant after a certain amount of warming like the warming we had the last decade! . . . We have no clue about the sensitivity of Earth towards the present temperature increase, because we are not able to include the most important process in the Earth-system!

    BPL: We know the ECS from paleoclimatology.

  25. 25
    zebra says:

    Andrew Sopocz #13,

    Great catch. And, uh oh!

    I second your request for some explanation from the pros.

  26. 26
    sidd says:

    Re: ocean stratification

    Hansen addresses this on pg 34-35 of

    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2019/20191211_Fire.pdf

    “I suspected that all ocean models, ours included, suffered from what I described as excessive ‘sludge.’ By this, I meant excessive small-scale mixing of ocean properties.”

    “My suspicion was that the turbulence parameterization caused excessive mixing. Such mixing makes global ocean models more ‘well behaved.’ The real world, however, is not so well-behaved. ”

    ” the real world comes to balance with the forcing more quickly than the model predicts. ”

    “My interpretation was that all of our models had excessive mixing of heat out of the upper wind-mixed layer. Our model seemed to have a bit less of this deep mixing, perhaps because of the computational schemes of Arakawa and Russell. The implication was that the real world was probably even more sensitive than our model, i.e., the shutdown of AMOC and SMOC, which occurred within several decades in our model, was likely to occur even sooner in the real world”

    sidd

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Piotr Trela says:

    AB: (Nov.- #170) Yes. But as the rest of my posts have made clear, since there are a bazillion :::BOOMS::: and they are relatively independent

    Piotr: It was your analogy, so I worked within it. But if you later say its gazillions, I can work with your gazillions soda pops too:

    1. Maybe it is not even in their nature to go ::BOOM::. The fact that we have Antarctic permafrost despite 45 mln years of being supposedly heated up from
    underneath would suggest it. And if so – it does not matter how many gazillions of them there are.

    2. But if we allow that they might go :: BOOM:: then … still not a big deal:

    a) they would be very tiny, tiny booms: one tiny boom = big::BOOM::/gazillions

    b) frequency of these tiny booms = age of permafrost/gazillions, which means
    they keep going their tiny tiny :boom: all over time – so their contribution to atmosphere gasses is ALREADY included in the past measurements of atm. CH4.

    And since you neglect the top down heating in favour of bottom-up – an imminent and dramatic impact on climate you envision – would require an imminent and massive increase in the heat flow from the centre of the Earth. Any reason why this would happen and why now?

    So “having no clue” when the next tiny tiny boom happens, or five, if they happen at all – maybe is not as bad as you crack it up to be.

  29. 29

    #14 (mike) & #18 (John Pollack)–

    I’m sure there are multiple factors at work, because there generally are, but I suspect a significant one in the Arctic heat wave is this:

    “Entering December, which is the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, sea ice extent remains far below average, dominated by the lack of ice on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the Arctic Ocean. As was the case for October, air temperatures averaged for November were well above average over much of the Arctic Ocean, notably over open water areas. Averaged for the month, total ice extent for November 2020 was the second lowest in the satellite record.”

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    And extent graph per JAXA:

    https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/#/extent/&time=2020-12-03%2000:00:00

    (That last doesn’t include the lowest extent year for this date, 2016.)

    The causality here is working both ways–warm weather inhibits freeze up, and open water (including a water vapor feedback process) moderates temperature.

  30. 30
    David B. Benson says:

    While this comment belongs on the Forced Response thread, we don’t have a current one:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/723/geoengineering?page=1
    See the last link, regarding the paper in ERL which nigelj found and Engineer-Poet emphasized.

    There is a body of earlier papers along this same line. In particular mafic rock, i.e., basalt, works quickly and the less common ultramafic rock even faster. What is new about this proposal is using greenhouses with forced draft air pushed through.

    This appears to be a winner!

  31. 31
    John Pollack says:

    MAR @23 and Kevin @29, also Mike @14 I have no doubt that the singular record at Norman Wells NWT Canada on Dec. 3 (apologies to Canadians for putting it incorrectly in YT)is related to much larger warming of the Arctic in general, and declining autumnal ice cover in particular. However it is noteworthy to me for a couple of reasons.

    First, it’s a relatively rare example of AGW resulting in a qualitatively new phenomenon at a particular location, rather than just a more extreme example of the somewhat familiar. In this case, a downslope wind event scouring out the normally strong to intense arctic inversion at an inland location near the Arctic Circle in what ought to be the dead of winter. A high of +10C cannot be achieved merely by replacing the normal continental air with maritime air near freezing – a possible result of open water several hundred km to the north. That has happened at Normal Wells before, although not very often, and there is a cluster of record highs around 0C.
    To get to +10C, there had to be warm air aloft – sourced from locations further south and enhanced by adiabatic downslope warming – which actually reached to the ground in an inland river valley with no assistance from solar energy onsite. It’s something new, and not under the sun in this case.

    Second, this illustrates some of the “fat tail” discussion. Merely moving a gaussian probability distribution toward a warmer mean will not catch this type of event. It’s a bump 30C above the mean high temperature at the location, and 10C above the other records.

  32. 32
    John Pollack says:

    For those familiar with atmospheric soundings, the 00UTC Dec. 6 sounding from CWSE, near Edmonton, Canada is another great illustration of warm air aloft. With the exception of the strong inversion at the bottom 30mb or so, this would have made a good summer sounding for the location. However, since they never got rid of that inversion, their daily high was 2C, above normal, but not that exceptional for December.

  33. 33
    Al Bundy says:

    BPL: We know the ECS from paleoclimatology.

    AB: Please post a reference to a period in paleoclimatology where the increase in CO2 began during an interglacial and climbed as rapidly as it is climbing today. Jan’s point was about stratification.

    Or explain why those two considerations (the start point and the rate of increase) don’t affect stratification.

    Or explain why stratification doesn’t affect climate sensitivity over human-scale timeframes.
    ______

    Piotr: And since you neglect the top down heating in favour of bottom-up

    AB: Huh? I spoke of extreme amounts of top-down heating (Eemian, Holocene, Anthropocene) and inadequate amounts of top-down cooling (last glaciation). My scenario was about digging down way more with heat and way less with coolness. Until you dig down with heat deep enough to weaken the permafrost cap it doesn’t matter too much what is going on below the permafrost, and it is impossible to dig down across the whole region so that things all beak in unison. If it takes 500 years to finish melting the permafrost there isn’t going to be a single decade where 200 years worth comes out. And that’s ignoring the fact that thawed permafost is just dirt. Nobody expects their yard to suddenly vaporize. That swamp outside of town isn’t going to instantly become a lake.

    Somebody (you, Mike, or Kevin?) said that even mentioning the bottom up component would confuse people. Apparently they were correct because I don’t see much daylight between our positions. I used a worst-case scenario as a way to show that even then it’s a chronic problem.

    Dr Wadhams is perhaps the methane alarmist with the biggest following. He thinks a 0.6C bubble could occur. But then, he predicted in 2012 that the Arctic would be ice-free in the summer somewhere between 2013 to 2019 inclusive. At least my “prediction”, 2025, has remained solidly in the running for 20 years. To clarify: I don’t take Dr Wadham’s 0.6C bubble as probable, let alone inevitable.

    And I note that sea ice extent at the end of summer isn’t terribly relevant. Spring and early summer are when the sun is high enough to add serious Joules to the system. Before, yes, the September minimum extent data was a reasonable metric, but now I think the lack of multiyear ice is the larger driver. As it goes away the Arctic Ocean will become a soot-spewing highway.

  34. 34
    mike says:

    at KM at 29: right. I think you are describing polar amplification. I think the Antarctic region holds on to it’s ice and albedo better than the Arctic region.

  35. 35

    Unforced Variations should be a Forced Response

    https://esd.copernicus.org/preprints/esd-2020-74/

    The most significant ocean stratification is the thermocline, and because of the slight density difference of the water above and below the thermocline, it is highly sensitive to slight changes in inertial forcing. Open interactive review at link above for Earth Systems Dynamics journal.

  36. 36
    MA Rodger says:

    Do we have a “Scorchyissimo!!!” situation approaching?

    Copernicus ERA5 reanalysis has reported for November giving the first indication of the month’s surface temperature. ERA5 gives a Nov 2020 global anomaly of +0.77ºC, up from October’s +0.61ºC and the second highest monthly anomaly of Jan-Nov 2020 which sit in the range +0.44ºC to +0.80ºC and average +0.64ºC, the highest Jan-Nov average on the ERA5 record.

    The highest annual anomaly in ERA5 is currently 2016 at +0.63ºC so for 2020 to snatch the ERA5 “Scorchyissimo!!!” mantle will require the December anomaly to top a reasonably modest +0.52ºC.

  37. 37
    James McDonald says:

    zebra@9: Thank you for the response.

    I had noticed the sentence in Hansen’s paper that you highlighted, but the paper doesn’t seem to actually follow through on that promise, at least not in any clear and succinct manner. They discuss heavier rainfall, etc., and tie various events to increased heat events, but don’t seem to explicitly address why the cold tail of the curve would gain more slowly than the hot end. (I could just be dense, but I haven’t seen it on three re-readings now.) Maybe that’s just obvious to those who follow this more closely.

    With respect to language, you make a good point, but I was (perhaps too casually) simply referring to mathematical properties of normal distributions. If you take a normal distribution centered at zero with a standard deviation of 1 and slide it one unit to the right, the ratios between new and old values at the tails will be very different from similar ratios near the mean. That’s all I mean to say there — a property of such curves that has nothing to do with cause and effect.

    The underlying premise of course is that temperatures follow a normal distribution, which is plausible given the large number of independent factors involved, and also seems to be observed, and that heating effects act in a somewhat consistent way on all the events that combine to produce such a distribution. (Segueing into my question that this effect, while consistent, doesn’t seem to be uniform.)

    Thank you again for the response. It was helpful, although I still don’t have a succinct mental image of why the curve broadens. And I’ll be more careful with my phrasings in the future. (As my father-in-law is fond of saying, everyone needs an editor,)

  38. 38
    Simon C says:

    BPL @ 24: I agree that ECS is parameterised quite well from the paleo data, despite the ongoing arguments about the exact value. But Jan is raising a question of the pathway to EC, which he is saying might not be typical of the paleo processes, because the rates of change are so much higher than anything post the K-Pg event. Unless I have misunderstood something (always possible of course!), this seems to be a valid concern.

  39. 39
    Susan Anderson says:

    re ozone, a simple question that no doubt one of you could answer; please remember I’m somewhat of a layperson so go easy on the tech, though links might be useful ->

    “there has been an uptick in the ozone hole that no one is talking about. Might that not also be implicated in the massive thawing at the top of the world?”

  40. 40
    mike says:

    at JP at 31: I am reading what you are writing about something new, but I am not absorbing it yet. Do you think the changes in the air masses that you describe are a feature of polar amplification of global warming?

    It is fascinating to watch climate structures change. I wish the changes might have little impact on my kids and grandkids, but I think that is simply wishful thinking.

    I am similarly fascinated by the whole array of system changes happening in the Arctic. It doesn’t matter whether you start with sea ice extent, or air temps, or methane and permafrost warming, once you pay attention to a single thread of the fabric of change, it is possible to begin to imagine and envision the entire range of change that is happening.

    I am expecting to live long enough to see another El Nino or two and I think they might really kick the polar amplification changes into another gear. Maybe that is not correct, it’s really hard for a layperson to wrap their head around how big these big systems really are. Be that as it may, I think some of us are seeing or think we are seeing big change happening right before our eyes. There has been some discussion of religion and spirituality, count me out on all that, but I do experience awe at times when my eyes are open and I think I experience the natural world on a grand/majestic scale. When I was a kid growing up in tornado alley, I was always mesmerized when I saw a tornado touch down and move on the land. Same kind of thing… a wow moment… just look at that… some state of being to get shook out of our day to day small lives and actually encounter large, natural planetary forces that way.

    Cheers

    Mike

  41. 41

    AB 33: Please post a reference to a period in paleoclimatology where the increase in CO2 began during an interglacial and climbed as rapidly as it is climbing today. Jan’s point was about stratification. . . . Or explain why those two considerations (the start point and the rate of increase) don’t affect stratification. . . . Or explain why stratification doesn’t affect climate sensitivity over human-scale timeframes.

    BPL: It’s not for me to prove that stratification doesn’t affect ECS. It’s for Jan to prove that it does. That’s how science works.

  42. 42

    SA 39: “there has been an uptick in the ozone hole that no one is talking about. Might that not also be implicated in the massive thawing at the top of the world?”

    BPL: Probably not. Although ozone is a greenhouse gas, ozone in the stratosphere acts to block ultraviolet light from hitting the ground, thus acting to cool the surface.

  43. 43
    MA Rodger says:

    Further to the “scorchyissimo!!” warning @36 of Copernicus ERA5 re-analysis, a year-on-year graph showing the 2020 monthly anomalies relative to previous years is here. 2020 will become warmest year on record (and leave El Niño-boosted 2016 in top spot) if December’s anomaly comes in above +0.52ºC.

  44. 44
    zebra says:

    James McDonald #37,

    James, please don’t take my language critique personally; it applies, as I said, to Hansen and many others as well, so you are in very smart company. I’ll give it a shot to see if I can do better than the big boys.

    How about getting back to basics and rephrasing the question like this:

    1. We observe that for the original 30-year base period, summer NH temperatures are in a “normal distribution”.

    2. The weather at the locations where we are measuring the temperature is characterized by a complex non-linear system… lots of moving ‘parts’ where energy is transferred and transformed, with various degrees of coupling over the geography.

    3. We substantially increase the energy in the system. What do we predict will happen?

    You seem to be stuck on the idea that despite the fact that we have changed and are changing the physics…the energy input to the system… the temperatures should still follow a normal distribution. But anyone who has worked with complex non-linear systems would be really surprised if that were to be the case. We’re not exactly transferring energy to a sheet of copper with an infrared lamp.

    The temperature extremes that occurred in the base period were the result of a complex set of conditions that resulted in those temperature readings. That includes the presence of water, clouds, and water vapor….the “water cycle energy interaction” Hansen references. But, and here’s where I think you might find your succinct mental image, those conditions were the result of an elevated energy level (locally in space and time), in the context of the base period.

    What Hansen is doing, by comparing the data to that original base period, is illustrating that the conditions that resulted in higher temperature readings are operating the same way, but at our new, higher energy levels. So, we see these extremes in more places, and often at higher values, than in the base period, because there’s more energy everywhere.

    I don’t see how it could be otherwise, but I’m open to suggestions.

  45. 45
    Killian says:

    Oh, people, you make me sad.

    “We know ECS…”

    Incorrect. We know PAST ECS.

    Hansen: Shit gonna go FASTER!!!!

    Gee, what a surprise.

    …maybe it is not in it’s nature to go boom…

    Past performance does not quarantee future results.

    Logic: The only time the entire ecosystem has been degraded at roughly the same time has been during bolide events. Otherwise, changes have been over thousands, tens of thousands or millions of years. Yet, we have drastically changed, and continue to even more rapidly change, the ecosystem faster than at any time other than a bolide event but literally every science-minded person from scientists to citizen scientists to the Peanut Gallery declare we know all the three sensitivities from past experience…. of SLOW CHANGES.

    For ten years I have pointed out the past is not proxy because the rate of change is like a bolide, not a “natural” systemic shift like Milankovitch Cycles, etc. I used quotes because bolides are also natural, but not of this planet’s system… until they enter it.

    So, I point out one more time, Hansen is fucking brilliant. More on-point than most, maybe all. Yet, people prefer to defer to a Mann or a Schmidt, who have not been as accurate. Why? It fits their biases. And people choose slow change paleo data over bolide paleo data. Why? Same reason.

    Sorry, peeps: 1. We are the bolide this time. 2. EXTREME Rapid change is the proxy. 3. There is little or no hysteresis because we have degraded ALL ecosystems at the same time, rapidly.

    Time is shorter than you think.

    Net zero is suicide at ANY rate.

    Negative emissions ASAP is the only sane response.

    You have heard this before.

    Time to heed it.

  46. 46
  47. 47
    mike says:

    The Guardian reports “The Arctic is transitioning from a predominantly frozen state into an entirely different climate, due to emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Laura Landrum, the associate scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory.

    “If we do not bring emission rates down, Arctic climate will change so significantly that this year’s record low sea ice extents will look large and record warm temperatures will appear cool compared to what we will experience in the future.”

    Zack Labe, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University, said the Arctic is “yelling at us to pay attention”. He added: “Unless we slow global warming by systematically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, the chances of our first ‘ice-free’ Arctic summer will continue to increase. This rapid climate change in the Arctic will continue to have consequences for the entire Earth system.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/08/arctic-report-climate-crisis-wildfires-ice-loss

    As far as I am concerned, Peter Wadhams’ predictions regarding the loss of the Arctic as a cold and icy place have essentially been borne out. For once, a scientist (Wadhams) could say, well it’s happening a bit more slowly than predicted, but it is happening as predicted.

    It’s strange that there is so little consternation when scientists have to say over and over, well, that’s happening faster than expected, but a guy like Wadhams who is essentially very close to a bulls eye on Arctic sea ice gets treated like a terrorist for erring (slightly) on the other side of the speed of change spectrum.

    Read what Labe and Landrum have to say about the Arctic and let’s talk about that. How serious is it that the changes in the Arctic are “breathtaking” to quote scientist Jennifer Francis?

    Cheers

    Mike

  48. 48
    russell says:

    Susan Anderson: “an uptick in the ozone hole…Might that not also be implicated in the massive thawing at the top of the world?”

    BPL: “Probably not. Although ozone is a greenhouse gas, ozone in the stratosphere acts to block ultraviolet light from hitting the ground, thus acting to cool the surface.”

    Once more, please, BPL– “an uptick” = a bigger hole ,and increased surface irradiance tends to warm. not cool the surface.

    Susan OTOH, should note that Arctic O3 depletion is small compared to the effect in Antarctica

  49. 49
    Mr. Know It All says:

    12 – Jan Galkowski
    “Only tangentially related to methane, Arctic or otherwise, anyone know if the project Sir David King kicked off at University of Cambridge, namely, to devise technology to refreeze the Arctic, has received any hard-nosed peer review? Has it been written up anywhere?”

    I don’t know the answer:
    https://biobrief.org/climate-restoration-according-to-sir-david-king/

    Was he talking about geo-engineering of the atmosphere to block sunlight? Probably the only way to giterdone.

    16 – Jan
    “This means that our Earth-system models are not simulating the most important variable in the Earth System when it comes to temperature: 93-3-3-1 – if this set of numbers change that’s it for humanity – 93% of the extra heat through GHG’s is taken up by the oceans, 3% of the extra energy goes into ice melting, another 3% in evaporation and just 1% of the extra heat is heating the surface up.”

    Hire a machinist to write down all that stuff about what happened to our civilization in the toughest, longest lasting metal known to man, so that future beings might decifer it and know what happened to us. Perhaps E-P can help with the material selection. You have about 11 years of AOC’s 12 years to giterdone! Sounds like a good project for a YUUUUGE goobermint grant. ;)

    16 – Jan
    “We have no clue about the sensitivity of Earth towards the present temperature increase, because we are not able to include the most important process in the Earth-system!”

    Tell us deniers something we didn’t already know! :)

    Jan, FYI, I proposed long ago that we deploy thousands of floating solar-powered pumps to pump warm surface water down into the depths. There was some kind of discussion around the idea, but I can’t remember the details (no, I’m not Joe Biden).

    Just out of curiosity, do you know about how many forces are used in the ocean models? Got a list? Wind, solar gain, evaporation, rotation effects?, tidal effects?, etc, etc..

    What are the limits on number of nodes or grids with current computing power?

    17 – Guest 0
    “For those, who understand german language, this is a must see:”

    Not me, we killed a bunch of ’em back in WW2 so we would not have to speak German.
    ;) What was the gist of it?

    21 – nigelj
    “Among its results, the report found there were 296,000 heat-related premature deaths in people over 65 years in 2018 (a 54% increase in the last two decades), …”

    There has been a huge increase in the number of people over 65 years during the last 2 decades as well; including part of the baby boomer generation so the 54% increase is not nearly as bad as it looks. Critical thinking GOTCHA!

    39 – Susan Anderson
    ““there has been an uptick in the ozone hole that no one is talking about. Might that not also be implicated in the massive thawing at the top of the world?””

    If no one is talking about it, how do you know about it?

    42 – BPL
    “Although ozone is a greenhouse gas, ozone in the stratosphere acts to block ultraviolet light from hitting the ground, thus acting to cool the surface.”

    She was saying there is a HOLE so the UV may be getting thru to the ground causing Arctic warming. If there is a HOLE, then there is less Ozone GHG, so cooling should accelerate, but the hole allows more UV to reach the ground accelerating warming, so which is the bigger effect?

    45 – Killian
    “Time is shorter than you think.”

    AOC says 11 years until end of the earth. Is she wrong?
    ;)

  50. 50
    Al Bundy says:

    MA Rodger: This low-ice/warm-atmosphere would probably be another AGW feedback mechanism boosting surface temperatures except an Arctic winter is a useful point (I would assume) for radiating unwanted planetary heat out into space.

    AB: We all mostly assumed that, but a couple of years ago a paper (reported on RC) noted that the increase in water vapor over an open ocean gives more insulting power than a layer of ice.