Sunday, July 31, 2011

More settled science not needing debate: Direction of climate change in Antarctica unknown

A paper published last month in the journal Climatic Change reveals "the magnitude and even direction of recent Antarctic climate change is still debated." The paper states the Antarctic Peninsula is warming, but that "in continental Antarctica [where by far the most ice is located] a cooling trend was recently detected." Also confounding, the surface temperature of permafrost areas is warming, "although the air temperature was almost stable."

A permafrost warming in a cooling Antarctica?

Mauro Guglielmin and Nicoletta Cannone

Abstract: The magnitude and even direction of recent Antarctic climate change is still debated because the paucity of long and complete instrumental data records. While along Antarctic Peninsula a strong warming coupled with large retreat of glaciers occurred, in continental Antarctica a cooling was recently detected. Here, the first existing permafrost data set longer than 10 years recorded in continental Antarctica is presented. Since 1997 summer ground surface temperature showed a strong warming trend (0.31°C per year) although the air temperature was almost stable. The summer ground surface temperature increase seemed to be influenced mainly by the increase of the total summer radiation as confirmed also by the increase of the summer thawing degree days. In the same period the active layer exhibited a thickening trend (1 cm per year) comparable with the thickening rates observed in several Arctic locations where air warming occurred. At all the investigated depths permafrost exhibited an increase of mean annual temperature of approximately 0.1°C per year. The dichotomy between active layer thickness and air temperature trends can produce large unexpected and unmodelled impacts on ecosystems and CO2.

No long-term trends in Southwestern US Drought

From the NIPCC Report 7/27/11:

Reference: McCabe, G.J., Legates, D.R. and Lins, H.F. 2010. Variability and trends in dry day frequency and dry event length in the southwestern United States. Journal of Geophysical Research 115: D07108

The authors focused on the Southwest "because (1) it has the highest consumptive use of water as a percentage of renewable supply in the United States and (2) dry event conditions in this region during the early 21st century have increased awareness of its vulnerability to water shortages."
McCabe et al. (2010) found for the period of study "El Niño events have been more frequent, and this has resulted in increased precipitation in the southwestern United States, particularly during the cool season. The increased precipitation is associated with a decrease in the number of dry days and a decrease in dry event length."
The plot below (Figure 1) nicely reveals what has happened in the region. The number of dry days dropped over much of the study period but increased since 2000
Figure 1. Five year moving time series of the mean fraction of days with daily precipitation below 2.54 mm for water years (October through September), cool seasons (October through March), and warm seasons (April through September) (from McCabe et al., 2010).
Most of the rainfall in the southwest occurs with the winter cyclones (most common in El Niño years and also with late summer monsoon showers. Winter rains and mountain snows are more effective for water supplies than summer thunderstorms which runoff and whose water evaporates more quickly in the summer temperatures. Winter rains may fall over several days as storms pass. The pattern above clearly shows the El Niño and the effect of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation which effects El Niño frequency. The PDO was in an 'El Niño favored stage' from 1977 to 1998 and the frequency of dry days was lowest. The La Niñas are wetter and the PDO was in the "La Niña favored stage' from 1947 to 1977 and after 1999.
Prior to this study, McCabe et al. (2044) did a study of the effect of the PDO and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) on drought frequency in the United States and found more than half (52%) of the spatial and temporal variance in multidecadal drought frequency over the conterminous United States is attributable to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
The lack of a signal for increased drought in this data agrees with NOAA's NCDC Climate at a Glance analysis for the southwest regional annual precipitation (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado) which shows a slight, statistically insignificant upward trend.
"Our results are consistent with analyses of trends in discharge for sites in the southwestern United States, an increased frequency in El Niño events, and positive trends in precipitation in the southwestern United States are negative trends for water years and cool seasons."
Additional Reference
McCabe, G.J., Palecki, M.A. and Betancourt, J.L. 2004. Pacific and Atlantic ocean influences on multidecadal drought frequency in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 101: 4136-4141.

The world record heat wave occurred in 1923 when CO2 was very safe

From the Australian Bureau of Meteorology:

Marble Bar heatwave, 1923-24

The world record for the longest sequence of days above 100°Fahrenheit (or 37.8° on the Celsius scale) is held by Marble Bar in the inland Pilbara district of Western Australia. The temperature, measured under standard exposure conditions, reached or exceeded the century mark every day from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924, a total of 160 days.

Temperatures above 100°F are common in Marble Bar and indeed throughout a wide area of northwestern Australia. On average, Marble Bar experiences about 154 such days each year. The town is far enough inland that, during the summer months, the only mechanisms likely to prevent the air from reaching such a temperature involve a southward excursion of humid air associated with the monsoon trough, or heavy cloud, and/or rain, in the immediate area. This may sometimes be associated with a tropical cyclone or a monsoon low. In the record year of 1923-24 the monsoon trough stayed well north, and the season was notable for its lack of cyclone activity. (In fact, the entire Australian continent was untouched by tropical cyclones throughout the season, a rare event in the 20th Century). The rainfall recorded at Marble Bar during the record 160 days was just 79 mm, most of it in two heavy, short-lived storms that developed after the heat of the day. Only a further 12 mm of rain fell before the following December. Severe drought prevailed across the Western Australian tropics, and stock losses were heavy. With no rain to speak of, and minimal cloud, there was nothing to relieve day after day of extreme heat.
Temperature chart
"Day by day maximum temperatures at Marble Bar over the period 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924. At the peak of the heatwave - between late December and late February - many days approached or exceeded 45°C".
The highest temperature recorded during the record spell was 47.5°C on 18 January 1924. There have been higher temperatures at Marble Bar, with the highest recorded being 49.2°C, on 11 January 1905 and again on 3 January 1922. But temperatures in other Western Australian towns have been higher: in a remarkable late-season heat-wave in February 1998, Mardie recorded a maximum of 50.5°C (on the 19th) - the highest temperature in Western Australia, and the second highest ever recorded in Australia using standard instrumentation (Oodnadatta, in South Australia, recorded 50.7°C on 2 January 1960). Several other recordings above 49°C were reported in the northwest on the days preceding Mardie’s record, and at Nyang, the average maximum over the entire summer exceeded 43°C. As in 1923-24, very dry conditions accompanied the extreme heat.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Declining trend in global sea surface temperatures over past 20 years

The NOAA OIv2 weekly SST [sea surface temperature] data shows a generally declining trend over the past 20+ years since the start of the database on January 3, 1990. Sea surface temperatures are not subject to the corrupting influences of the urban heat island bias in land temperature data, which can account for up to 44% of recorded warming.  Plots and data from the NOAA OIv2 weekly database from 1/3/1990 up to the last week are available here.
Plot from the NOAA site linked above
NOAA data above fitted with 2nd order polynomial shows declining trend [rate of change] over available 20+ year database.

New paper shows global warming has increased phytoplankton and fish

From the NIPCC weekly update 8/2/11:

Reference: Chavez, F.P., Messie, M. and Pennington, J.T. 2011. Marine primary production in relation to climate variability and change. Annual Review of Marine Science 3: 227-260.

Writing in the Annual Review of Marine Science, Chavez et al. (2011) state that "marine photosynthetic plankton are responsible for approximately 50 petagrams (1015) of carbon per year of net primary production, an amount equivalent to that on land," and they say that "this primary production supports essentially all life in the oceans and profoundly affects global biogeochemical cycles and climate."

With this brief background, Chavez et al. go on to review the concepts and methods used to estimate ocean primary production (PP), after which they use the modern global instrumental record of sea surface temperature (SST) to analyze the principal modes of inter-annual to multi-decadal climate and ocean variability. Spatiotemporal patterns derived from in situ and satellite time-series of PP are then compared with the known time-series of climate and ocean variability in a search for the processes responsible for the observed patterns in PP, after which paleoclimate studies are introduced in an attempt to broaden the temporal context and "lead into speculation regarding century-scale variability."

Based on the first part of their analysis, the three researchers -- all from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute of Moss Landing, California (USA) -- write that "general conclusions from the satellite and in situ time-series presented here are that PP [photosynthetic plankton or phytoplankton] is increasing globally," and they note that global marine PP appears to have risen over the past several decades in association with multi-decadal variations in climate. In addition, they indicate that data from Continuous Plankton Recorder surveys conducted in the north Atlantic depict "increases in chlorophyll from the 1950s to the present," citing McQuartters-Gollop et al. (2007).

In the second part of their analysis, Chavez et al. (2011) report that ocean sediment cores containing an "undisturbed history of the past" have been analyzed for variations in PP over timescales that include the Little Ice Age (LIA, ~1400-1800; Gutierrez et al., 2009)." And based on reconstructed flux rates of total organic carbon (Sifeddine et al., 2008), diatoms, silica, and fish scales, bones and vertebrae, they determined that during the LIA [Little Ice Age] the ocean off Peru had "low PP, diatoms and fish," but that "at the end of the LIA, this condition changed abruptly to the low subsurface oxygen, eutrophic upwelling ecosystem that today produces more fish than any region of the world's oceans (Chavez et al., 2008)."

Chavez et al. (2011) write that "in coastal environments, PP, diatoms and fish and their associated predators are predicted to decrease and the microbial food web to increase under global warming scenarios," citing Ito et al. (2010). However, they say that, "present-day trends and the sedimentary record seem to indicate that the opposite might occur."

Additional References:

Chavez, F.P., Bertrand, A., Guevara, R., Soler, P. and Csirke, J. 2008. The northern Humboldt Current System: brief history, present status and a view towards the future. Progress in Oceanography 79: 95-105.

Gutierrez, D., Sifeddine, A., Field, D.B., Ortlieb, L. Vargas, G., Chavez, F.P., Velazcol, F., Ferreira, V., Tapia, P., Salvatteci, R., Boucher, H., Morales, M.C., Valdes, J., Reyss, J.-L., Campusano, A., Boussafir, M., Mandeng-Yogo, M., Garcia, M. and Baumgartner, T. 2009. Rapid reorganization in ocean biogeochemistry off Peru towards the end of the Little Ice Age. Biogeosciences 6: 835-848.

Ito, S., Rose, K.A., Miller, A.J., Drinkwater, K., Brander, K., Overland, J.E., Sundby, S., Churchitser, E., Hurrell, J.W. and Yamanaka, Y. 2010. Ocean ecosystem responses to future global change scenarios: a way forward. In: Marange, M., Werner, R., Field, J. and Hofmann, E. (Eds.). Marine Ecosystems and Global Change. Oxford University Press, New York, New York, USA, pp 287-322.

McQuatters-Gollop, A., Raitsos, D.E., Edwards, M., Pradhan, Y., Mee, L.D., Lavender, S.J. and Attrill, M.J. 2007. A long-term chlorophyll data set reveals regime shift in North Sea phytoplankton biomass unconnected to nutrient trends. Limnology and Oceanography 52: 635-648.

Sifeddine, A., Gutierrez, D., Ortlieb, L., Boucher, H., Velazco, F., Field, D.B., Vargas,G., Boussafir, M., Salvatteci, R., Ferreira, V., Garcia, M., Valdes, J., Caquineau, S., Mandeng-Yogo, M., Cetin, F., Solis, J., Soler, P. and Baumgartner, T. 2008. Changes in terrestrial runoff, water mass oxygenation and upwelling productivity recorded in laminated sediments off the Central Peruvian Coast spanning the last centuries. Progress in Oceanography 79: 190-197.

New paper shows global warming decreases storm activity

A paper presented this week at the INQUA Bern conference reconstructs storm activity over the past 7000 years along the French Mediterranean coast and finds that global warming during the Medieval Warming Period was "characterized by low storm activity" in comparison to cold periods such as the Little Ice Age. The paper concludes that cold periods increase storm activity because of the increase in thermal gradient between the tropics and poles.
Third graph from left shows storm activity with shaded areas representing high storm activity. Sea surface temperatures are shown in last graph at right side. Second graph from left is a proxy for solar activity. Vertical axis is number of years before the present.
Increased storm activity during Holocene cold events in the NW Mediterranean Sea 
Pierre Sabatier et al
Abstract: A high-resolution record of paleostorm events along the French Mediterranean coast over the past 7,000 years was established from a sediment core from a lagoonal environment in the Gulf of Lions. Using a multi-proxy approach that integrated grain size, faunal analysis, clay mineralogy and geochemistry data with a chronology derived from radiocarbon dating, we recorded seven periods of increased in storm activity at 6,200; 5,400; 4,600-4,200; 3,600-3,100; 2,600; 1,900-1,500 yr cal B.P. and over the Little Ice Age. In contrast, our results show that the Medieval Climate Anomaly was characterised by low storm activity. 
These evidences for high storm activity in the NW Mediterranean Sea are in agreement with the changes in coastal hydrodynamics observed over the North Atlantic and correspond to Holocene cooling periods in the North Atlantic. Periods of low SSTs observed in this area may have led to a stronger meridional temperature gradient and a southward migration of the westerlies during these periods. We hypothesise that the increase in storm activity during Holocene cold events over the North Atlantic and Mediterranean regions was probably due to an increase in the thermal gradient that led to an enhanced lower tropospheric baroclinicity over a large Central Atlantic-European domain.
There are several other papers demonstrating that global warming causes a decrease in storm/hurricane activity, including this paper just reviewed by the NIPCC:

Reference: Clarke, M.L. and Rendell, H.M. 2009. The impact of North Atlantic storminess on western European coasts: a review. Quaternary International 195: 31-41. 
According to Clarke and Rendell (2009), "an understanding of the patterns of past storminess is particularly important in the context of future anthropogenically driven climate change," especially in light of "predictions of increased storm frequency ... by the end of the current century." Hence, they say that "a long-term proxy-based record of storminess, extending back into the Holocene, would provide ... a firmer foundation for future predictions." And in the present study they attempt to construct such a record.
Specifically, Clarke and Rendell reviewed evidence for storm activity across the North Atlantic region derived from instrumental records and archival evidence of storm impacts, comparing the information thereby obtained with sedimentological and chronological evidences of sand movement and dune building along western European coasts. In doing so, the two UK researchers determined that "the most notable Aeolian sand drift activity was concentrated in the historic period 0.5-0.1 ka (AD 1500-1900) which spans the Little Ice Age." And they say that "within this period, low solar activity, during the Maunder (AD 1645-1715) and Dalton (AD 1790-1830) Minima, has been related to changes in Atlantic storm tracks (van der Schrier and Barkmeijer, 2005), anomalously cold winter and summer temperatures in Scandinavia (Bjerknes, 1965), and the repositioning of the polar front and changing sea ice cover (Ogilive and Jonsson, 2001)." In addition, they state that "the Holocene record of sand drift in western Europe includes episodes of movement corresponding to periods of Northern Hemisphere cooling (Bond et al., 1997) ... and provides the additional evidence that these periods, like the Little Ice Age, were also stormy." 
On the basis of these several real-world reconstructions of North Atlantic storminess that impacted western Europe, it would appear that global warming would result in less rather than more storminess in that part of the planet, in contradiction of most climate-alarmist claims of more frequent and stronger storms there -- and elsewhere -- if the world were to warm any further.

Additional References:

Bjerknes, J. 1965. Atmospheric-ocean interaction during the 'Little Ice Age.' In: WMO-IUGG Symposium on Research and Development Aspects of Long-Range Forecasting, WMO-No. 162, TP 79, Technical Note 66, pp. 77-88.

Bond, G., Showers, W., Cheseby, M., Lotti, R., Almasi, P., deMenocal, P., Priore, P., Cullen, H., Hajdas, I. and Bonani, G. 1997. A pervasive millennial-scale cycle in North Atlantic Holocene and Glacial climate. Science 278: 1257-1266.

Ogilvie, A.E.J. and Jonsson, T. 2001. "Little Ice Age" research: a perspective from Iceland. Climatic Change 48: 9-52.

van der Schrier, G. and Barkmeijer, J. 2005. Bjerknes' hypothesis on the coldness during AD 1790-1820 revisited. Climate Dynamics 24: 355-371.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Earth's Atmosphere May Be More Efficient at Releasing Energy to Space Than Climate Models Indicate, Satellite Data Suggest

ScienceDaily (July 29, 2011) Data from NASA's Terra satellite suggests that when the climate warms, Earth's atmosphere is apparently more efficient at releasing energy to space than models used to forecast climate change may indicate.

The result is climate forecasts that are warming substantially faster than the atmosphere, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The previously unexplained differences between model-based forecasts of rapid global warming and meteorological data showing a slower rate of warming have been the source of often contentious debate and controversy for more than two decades.

In research published this week in the journal Remote Sensing, Spencer and UA Huntsville's Dr. Danny Braswell compared what a half dozen climate models say the atmosphere should do to satellite data showing what the atmosphere actually did during the 18 months before and after warming events between 2000 and 2011.

"The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show," Spencer said. "There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans."

Not only does the atmosphere release more energy than previously thought, it starts releasing it earlier in a warming cycle. The models forecast that the climate should continue to absorb solar energy until a warming event peaks.
Instead, the satellite data shows the climate system starting to shed energy more than three months before the typical warming event reaches its peak.

"At the peak, satellites show energy being lost while climate models show energy still being gained," Spencer said.
This is the first time scientists have looked at radiative balances during the months before and after these transient temperature peaks.

Applied to long-term climate change, the research might indicate that the climate is less sensitive to warming due to increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere than climate modelers have theorized. A major underpinning of global warming theory is that the slight warming caused by enhanced greenhouse gases should change cloud cover in ways that cause additional warming, which would be a positive feedback cycle.

Instead, the natural ebb and flow of clouds, solar radiation, heat rising from the oceans and a myriad of other factors added to the different time lags in which they impact the atmosphere might make it impossible to isolate or accurately identify which piece of Earth's changing climate is feedback from human-made greenhouse gases.
"There are simply too many variables to reliably gauge the right number for that," Spencer said. "The main finding from this research is that there is no solution to the problem of measuring atmospheric feedback, due mostly to our inability to distinguish between radiative forcing and radiative feedback in our observations."

For this experiment, the UA Huntsville team used surface temperature data gathered by the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Great Britain. The radiant energy data was collected by the Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments aboard NASA's Terra satellite.

The six climate models were chosen from those used by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The UA Huntsville team used the three models programmed using the greatest sensitivity to radiative forcing and the three that programmed in the least sensitivity.

Journal Reference:
  1. Roy W. Spencer, William D. Braswell. On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy BalanceRemote Sensing, 2011; 3 (8): 1603 DOI: 10.3390/rs3081603

Climate change far less serious than 'alarmists' predict says NASA scientist

By TAMARA COHEN    Daily Mail Online

Last updated at 2:03 AM on 30th July 2011

Dr Roy Spencer: He claims climate change is less serious than forecasts suggest
Dr Roy Spencer: He claims climate change is less serious than forecasts suggest

Climate change is far less serious than ‘alarmists’ predict, an eminent NASA scientist has said.

Dr Roy Spencer, who works on the space agency’s temperature-monitoring satellites, claimed they showed ‘a huge discrepancy’ between the real levels of heating and forecasts by the United Nations and other groups.

After looking at the levels of radiation in the atmosphere over the past ten years, he believes the Earth releases a lot more heat into space than previously thought.

This means carbon dioxide emissions do not trap as much heat or force temperatures up as much as global warming bodies fear.

Dr Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, said his satellite readings between 2000 and 2011 show far smaller temperature rises than six climate models which are used by international governments and corporations to predict changes to our climate in the future.

He said: ‘The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show. 

'There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.’

However critics say his research is over too short a period to draw conclusions and ignores other factors. 

Dr Spencer is the first scientist to examine the data from Nasa satellites in relation to climate change. 
He has long believed the build-up of hot air produces more clouds, which have a cooling effect on the Earth, counteracting global warming to some extent. 

However his study, published in the journal Remote Sensing, does conclude that the limited heating he has found remains an ‘unsolved problem’.

Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said: ‘It’s a simplistic theory and we will need to look very closely at these measurements as he is far from proving conclusively that this is the cause.

‘He has taken these measurements over a very short time during which the Earth has not heated as much as it did in the late 1990s, and scientists expect this heating to resume.

‘Satellites also drift over time, getting further and closer to the Earth, which can affect the readings.’
Sceptical: Greenpeace fiercely oppose nuclear power and have campaigned on the perils of global warming for decadesr
Sceptical: Greenpeace fiercely oppose nuclear power and have campaigned on the perils of global warming for decades

Climate change sceptics are also cautious about his conclusions. Dr David Whitehouse, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation said:  ‘It correctly states that the computer models of climate have many flaws and have been unable to explain how the earth has warmed up in recent decades. 

‘It’s a very interesting paper though only time will tell if its analysis - that the earth radiates more heat out into space than we thought - stands up.’

The United Nations climate change body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has been dogged by controversy over its impartiality. 

Set up to provide science-based advice to politicians, last month it was criticized for using a Greenpeace campaigner to help write an ‘impartial’ report on green energy.

The study claimed that the world could meet nearly 80 per cent of its energy by 2050 from renewable sources such as wind farms and solar panels.

Greenpeace fiercely opposes nuclear power and has campaigned on the perils of global warming for decades. 

Last year, the IPCC was at the centre of a major row when it was forced to admit that it had exaggerated the threat of global warming to glaciers.

Deep ocean 'missing heat' causing sea levels to rise 1/5 of 1 inch per century

A paper published online today examines temperature measurements of the deep oceans that have been performed 2 or more times at 28 sites between 1980 and 2010. The paper concludes that warming of the global deep ocean abyss is contributing 0.053 mm/yr or 1/5 of 1 inch per century to global sea level rise.

Alarmists such as Kevin Trenberth et al claim the "missing heat" generated by greenhouse gases has somehow gone to the deep ocean, bypassing detection by satellites in the atmosphere or by thousands of ARGO floats monitoring the upper 1000 meters of the oceans. If the "missing heat" has teleported to the deep oceans, this paper suggests it is causing a trivial influence on global sea levels.

Warming of Global Abyssal and Deep Southern Ocean Waters between the 1990s and 2000s: Contributions to Global Heat and Sea Level Rise Budgets*

Sarah G. Purkey and Gregory C. Johnson

Abyssal global and deep Southern Ocean temperature trends are quantified between the 1990s and 2000s to assess the role of recent warming of these regions in global heat and sea level budgets. The authors 1) compute warming rates with uncertainties along 28 full-depth, high-quality hydrographic sections that have been occupied two or more times between 1980 and 2010; 2) divide the global ocean into 32 basins, defined by the topography and climatological ocean bottom temperatures; and then 3) estimate temperature trends in the 24 sampled basins. The three southernmost basins show a strong statistically significant abyssal warming trend, with that warming signal weakening to the north in the central Pacific, western Atlantic, and eastern Indian Oceans. Eastern Atlantic and western Indian Ocean basins show statistically insignificant abyssal cooling trends. Excepting the Arctic Ocean and Nordic seas, the rate of abyssal (below 4000 m) global ocean heat content change in the 1990s and 2000s is equivalent to a heat flux of 0.027 (±0.009) W m−2 applied over the entire surface of the earth. Deep (1000–4000 m) warming south of the Subantarctic Front of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current adds 0.068 (±0.062) W m−2. The abyssal warming produces a 0.053 (±0.017) mm yr−1 increase in global average sea level and the deep warming south of the Subantarctic Front adds another 0.093 (±0.081) mm yr−1. Thus, warming in these regions, ventilated primarily by Antarctic Bottom Water, accounts for a statistically significant fraction of the present global energy and sea level budgets.

Study Finds "Huge Discrepancy" Between Hard Data and Warming Models

Hard data from NASA's Aqua satellite has shown that climate models have a "huge discrepancy" with reality, when it comes to the amount of heat escaping the atmosphere.  (Source: NASA)

The Earth has proven much less succeptible to runaway warming than previously believed. The so-called indirect trapping by evaporated water has been overstated by warming alarmists.  (Source: Alaska in Pictures)

Climate alarmists like Al Gore have profited in money and power at the expensive of the environment, the public's finances, and the public health. Sadly, precious few have been determined enough to overcome the barriers impeding studies on alternate conclusions.  (Source: AP Photo)

  (Source: New Scientist)

Alarmism and climate profiteering is dealt yet another serious blow

Many are still operating under the perception that current global warming models are "good enough" to make drastic economic decisions.  That party line has been pushed, in part, by certain individuals like ex-U.S. Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, who have stood to gain tremendously in personal finances by promoting alarmist and sensationalist rhetoric.  Indeed, Mr. Gore's "documentary" An Inconvenient Truth painted a grim picture of a pending apocalypse and made Mr. Gore hundreds of millions in sales and speaking fees -- but its accuracy is hotly debated.

I. New Study Blasts a Hole in Current Models

In a new study, Roy Spencer, Ph.D -- a prestigious former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) climatologist who currently works at the University of Alabama -- has examined data between 2001 and 2011 gathered by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer sensor housed aboard NASA's Aqua satellite.

The study was published [PDF] in the peer-reviewed journal Remote Sensing.

The data reveals yet another thorough analysis of atmospheric heat dissipation -- an important factor in heating or cooling.  And like past studies, it found that the Earth's atmosphere shed heat at a much faster rate than what's predicted in widely used global warming models.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New paper finds trees love CO2: volume of wood in US forests swelled by 51%

Two recent papers find that the volume of wood in US forests swelled by 51% from 1953-2007 and that "Worldwide, forests have also become more crowded...", from Nature Climate Change August 2011:
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New paper shows 'dramatic slow down of ice loss in southeast Greenland'

A paper published online yesterday in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds "the loss rate in southeast Greenland for the more recent period has become almost negligible, down from 109 ± 28 Gt/yr of just a few years ago. The rapid change in the nature of the regional ice mass in southeast and northwest Greenland, in the course of only several years, further reinforces the idea that the Greenland ice sheet mass balance is very vulnerable to regional climate conditions."  Global warming allegedly due to greenhouse gases would not be expected to cause such regional interannual variability in Greenland ice loss, thus pointing to shifts in weather instead.


Interannual variability of Greenland ice losses from satellite gravimetry

Key Points:

This study shows dramatic slow down of ice loss in southeast Greenland
Glaciers in northwest Greenland dominate the ice loss since 2007
Greenland ice mass shows significant interannual variability

J. L. Chen et al

Using extended satellite gravity measurements from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), here we show that ice losses in southeast Greenland appear to have slowed down dramatically since late 2007, while those in the west, especially northwest Greenland show continued accelerations in recent years. Over the period April 2002 to November 2009, averaged ice loss rates in eastern Greenland (120 ± 31 Gt/yr) are still significantly larger than those in the west (86.3 ± 22 Gt/yr). However, the estimated ice loss rate from glaciers in northwest Greenland has increased from 30.9 ± 8 Gt/yr over the first few years (2002–2005) to 128.2 ± 33 Gt/yr for the more recent period (2007–2009), while the loss rate in southeast Greenland for the more recent period has become almost negligible, down from 109 ± 28 Gt/yr of just a few years ago. The rapid change in the nature of the regional ice mass in southeast and northwest Greenland, in the course of only several years, further reinforces the idea that the Greenland ice sheet mass balance is very vulnerable to regional climate conditions. The dramatic slow down of ice loss in southeast Greenland observed by GRACE provides an independent verification of similar reports from other remote sensing data. The observed significant interannual variability of Greenland ice mass change suggests that it is very challenging to quantify Greenland's long-term ice mass change rates, and some observed apparent accelerations might simply be a reflection of the interannual variability.

Nature review trashes new book titled 'The Inquisition of Climate Science', calling it 'a part of the problem'

From a new book review published in the August 2011 edition of Nature Climate Change:

"The central flaw of this book is that Powell fails to address the serious and coherent critiques of the climate change consensus. Where in this book are Judy Curry of Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado's Roger Pielke Jr, the University of Alabama's John Christy, and others? All three are renowned academics, yet they each have been reasoned critics of the orthodox climate science canon, and of their fellow researchers, in specific areas...It seems that Powell left them out because they would complicate a simple story."

"The truth is we know less than we sometimes think about climate change....error bars remain disturbingly wide and are likely to widen further in the next IPCC assessment..."

"There are many reasons for scientists to be humble, and calling those who engage in debating such issues 'deniers' is foolish fundamentalism."

Nature editorial hits IPCC hard: 'It's time for the influential body to uphold its own neutrality standards'

An editorial published in the August 2011 edition of Nature Climate Change is highly critical of the IPCC's use of non-peer-reviewed "grey" literature [such as propaganda from Greenpeace] and that "a Greenpeace campaigner was put in charge of reviewing and highlighting his own work within Working Group III..." leading to the embarrassing and widely debunked claim that 80% of the world's energy could be supplied by renewable energy by 2050.
A second editorial in the same issue states regarding this same conflict of interest, "For a body that represents the state of understanding on one of the most complex and important issues of our time, repeating previously acknowledged mistakes is completely unacceptable."
sorry, no web link available

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New paper finds urban heat islands cause up to 44% of total recorded warming

A paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds that urban heat islands account for up to 44% of the recorded warming in cities in east China over the period of 1981-2007. An urban heat island is a metropolitan area which is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. As extensively documented by the project, poor siting of weather stations in the US near urban heat islands results in a false warming trend in which "9 of every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited." This shows why Phil Jones was worried that the Chinese Meteorological Agency was not playing along to prop up the AGW fallacy by recording temperatures at airports (highly biased by the urban heat island effect) in favor of unbiased rural areas. Without knowledge of the urban heat island effects on a global basis, it is unknown how much of the claimed 0.7C rise in temperature since 1850 is simply an artifact of poor siting rather than actual warming. Alarmists including the IPCC dismiss the urban heat island effect as insignificant, but as this paper and many others show, the effect causes very significant upward biases in recorded temperatures.
Metropolises warmed ~1.4C compared to surrounding rural areas ~0.4C over the period 1981-2007


Observed surface warming induced by urbanization in east China

Key Points:

The rapid urbanization has significant impacts on temperature over east China
A new method was developed to dynamically classify urban and rural stations
Comparison of the trends of UHI effects by using OMR and UMR approaches

Xuchao Yang et al

Monthly mean surface air temperature data from 463 meteorological stations, including those from the 1981–2007 ordinary and national basic reference surface stations in east China and from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) Reanalysis, are used to investigate the effect of rapid urbanization on temperature change. These stations are dynamically classified into six categories, namely, metropolis, large city, medium-sized city, small city, suburban, and rural, using satellite-measured nighttime light imagery and population census data. Both observation minus reanalysis (OMR) and urban minus rural (UMR) methods are utilized to detect surface air temperature change induced by urbanization. With objective and dynamic station classification, the observed and reanalyzed temperature changes over rural areas show good agreement, indicating that the reanalysis can effectively capture regional rural temperature trends. The trends of urban heat island (UHI) effects, determined using OMR and UMR approaches, are generally consistent and indicate that rapid urbanization has a significant influence on surface warming over east China. Overall, UHI effects contribute 24.2% to regional average warming trends. The strongest effect of urbanization on annual mean surface air temperature trends occurs over the metropolis and large city stations, with corresponding contributions of about 44% and 35% to total warming, respectively. The UHI trends are 0.398°C and 0.26°C decade−1. The most substantial UHI effect occurred after the early 2000s, implying a significant effect of rapid urbanization on surface air temperature change during this period.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Scientific American: Biofuels are a false promise

A feature article titled The False Promise of Biofuels in the August 2011 edition of Scientific American admits, "the breakthroughs needed to replace oil with plant-based fuels are proving difficult to achieve." Furthermore,

  • "Despite extensive research, biofuels are still not commercially competitive. The breakthroughs needed, revealed by recent science, may be tougher to realize than previously thought.
  • Corn ethanol is widely produced because of subsidies, and it diverts massive tracts of farmland needed for food. Converting the cellulose in cornstalks, grasses and trees into biofuels is proving difficult and expensive. Algae that produce oils have not been grown at scale. And more advanced genetics are needed to successfully engineer synthetic micro­organisms that excrete hydrocarbons.
  • Some start-up companies are abandoning biofuels and are instead using the same processes to make higher-margin chemicals for products such as plastics or cosmetics."

Consensus agrees: Planting trees helps and does not help cure global warming

Press release on study out today:

Reforestation's Cooling Influence Is a Result of Farmers' Past Choices 
ScienceDaily (July 26, 2011) — Decisions by farmers to plant on productive land with little snow enhances the potential for reforestation to counteract global warming, concludes new research from Carnegie's Julia Pongratz and Ken Caldeira. Previous research has led scientists and politicians to believe that regrowing forests on Northern lands that were cleared in order to grow crops would not decrease global warming. But these studies did not consider the importance of the choices made by farmers in the historical past.

Press release on study out 1 month ago:

Study: Trees not cure for global warming 
...But the study says the benefits of tree planting are "marginal" when it comes to stopping the planet from overheating.
Trees do suck carbon [dioxide] out of the air, but the study highlights that their dark leaves and needles also decrease the amount of solar radiation that gets reflected by the landscape, which has a warming effect...

Backpedaling Time Mag: Fight climate change by not focusing on climate change

Remarkably, Time also distinguishes black carbon "soot" from carbon dioxide instead of consistently using the trick of referring to the latter as 'carbon pollution.'

Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2011

Fighting Climate Change by Not Focusing on Climate Change

Climate change advocates haven't had much to celebrate recently, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement last week that he was giving $50 million to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign marked a real win. The Sierra Club — the nation's largest environmental group — has successfully stopped more than 150 proposed coal plants from being built over the past decade through the campaign. Bloomberg's money — and perhaps more importantly, the imprimatur of one of the richest and most influential people in the country — will enable the Sierra Club to bring its war on coal to a new level, preventing untold millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from warming the planet.

New paper finds solar influence on El Niño and La Niña cycles

A paper published online today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters finds a "robust" effect of solar activity on the ocean oscillations of El Niño and La Niña, which in turn have profound effects upon global climate. The paper finds a lagged response with El Niño-like conditions following solar maxima a "couple of years later." The IPCC dismisses the role of the Sun on climate by only considering small changes in total solar irradiance, ignoring large changes in solar UV (which is capable of penetrating the ocean surface to cause heating unlike IR from 'greenhouse gases'), and ignoring secondary effects (e.g. the cosmic ray theory of Svensmark et al). This paper adds yet another secondary effect of solar activity on climate not considered by the IPCC.


On the robustness of the solar cycle signal in the Pacific region

Key Points:
Solar signal in the tropical Pacific largely depends on the period chosen
North Pacific shows robust SLP (sea level pressure) response to solar forcing
Vertically extended AO-GCM reproduces main features of observed solar response

S. Bal et al

The potential role of the stratosphere for the 11-year solar cycle signal in the Pacific region is investigated by idealized simulations using a coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. The model includes a detailed representation of the stratosphere and accounts for changes in stratospheric heating rates from prescribed time dependent variations of ozone and spectrally high resolved solar irradiance. Three transient simulations are performed spanning 21 solar cycles each. The simulations use slightly different ozone perturbations representing uncertainties of solar induced ozone variations. The model reproduces the main features of the 20th century observed solar response. A persistent mean sea level pressure response to solar forcing is found for the eastern North Pacific extending over North America. Moreover, there is evidence for a La Niña-like response assigned to solar maximum conditions with below normal SSTs in the equatorial eastern Pacific, reduced equatorial precipitation, enhanced off-equatorial precipitation and an El Niño-like response a couple of years later, thus confirming the response to solar forcing at the surface seen in earlier studies. The amplitude of the solar signal in the Pacific region depends to a great extent on the choice of the centennial period averaged.