Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nature Rules Climate: 2009 Paper & 8 Other Reasons

It would be nice if the climatologists would talk to the geologists and geophysicists  more often, although sadly the emails show little if any attempt to do so. They might learn a lot about the real physical evidence on what has been changing climate since the beginning of time, instead of just presuming that since CO2 has risen in the 20th century from 0.0300% to 0.0388% of the atmosphere [note man-made contributions are only 3-4% of that...so the man-made CO2 has risen in the 20th century from 0.0012% to 0.001552% of the atmosphere] that that must be the "missing link" needed in the models to explain climate change, and then arbitrarily assigning the CO2 "missing link" 97% of the total positive radiative forcing  in the computer models. Never-mind that:

  1. the greenhouse theory of positive feedback of radiative forcing of water vapor due to CO2 violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics
  2. the predicted tropical tropospheric hot spot this theory predicted never developed
  3. the water vapor positive feedback of radiative forcing due to CO2 has been shown to be incorrect and actually negative based on the actual data
  4. the models are vastly off track with the satellite data which shows sensitivity to CO2 far less than predicted [Lindzen's new pre-publication paper shows sensitivity of 0.3-1.2 degrees C for a doubling of CO2 concentration (which will take 234 years at the current rate) -much less than was assumed  & here]
  5. the actual increase in CO2 in the 20th century is highly in doubt and may be much less (and even if it is correct, the time to double CO2 concentrations at the current rate is 234 years).
  6. in 5 of the 6 major ice ages CO2 levels were higher than the present, up to 20+ times higher, yet did not warm the planet. Also note, CO2 LAGS temperature in ice core data by ~800 years. CO2 lags temperature changes primarily due to solubility in the oceans.
  7. probable explanation of #6 is that the greenhouse effect of CO2 is already effectively saturated at the present levels. (and here)
  8. according to more than 800 scientist's papers, the Medieval Warming Period globally was as hot or hotter than the present, entirely due to natural processes-  i.e. why should we presume this time it's any different?
  9. their models of the earths energy balance don't take into account ocean oscillations and that the oceans hold 98% of the earth's heat (there's more heat in the top 2.5m of the ocean than the entire atmosphere and the oceans cover ~70% of the earth's surface). 
Speaking of the oceans, ignored by the IPCC models, brings me to this 2009 paper published in the prestigious Journal of Geophysical Research:

Full Press Release and Abstract to Study:

Nature not man responsible for recent global warming

Three Australasian researchers have shown that natural forces are the dominant influence on climate, in a study just published in the highly-regarded Journal of Geophysical Research. According to this study little or none of the late 20th century global warming and cooling can be attributed to human activity.

The research, by Chris de Freitas, a climate scientist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, John McLean (Melbourne) and Bob Carter (James Cook University), finds that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a key indicator of global atmospheric temperatures seven months later. As an additional influence, intermittent volcanic activity injects cooling aerosols into the atmosphere and produces significant cooling.

"The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Niño conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Niña conditions less likely" says corresponding author de Freitas.

"We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis.”
Climate researchers have long been aware that ENSO events influence global temperature, for example causing a high temperature spike in 1998 and a subsequent fall as conditions moved to La Niña. It is also well known that volcanic activity has a cooling influence, and as is well documented by the effects of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption.

The new paper draws these two strands of climate control together and shows, by demonstrating a strong relationship between the Southern Oscillation and lower-atmospheric temperature, that ENSO has been a major temperature influence since continuous measurement of lower-atmospheric temperature first began in 1958.
According to the three researchers, ENSO-related warming during El Niño conditions is caused by a stronger Hadley Cell circulation moving warm tropical air into the mid-latitudes. During La Niña conditions the Pacific Ocean is cooler and the Walker circulation, west to east in the upper atmosphere along the equator, dominates.

"When climate models failed to retrospectively produce the temperatures since 1950 the modellers added some estimated influences of carbon dioxide to make up the shortfall," says McLean.

"The IPCC acknowledges in its 4th Assessment Report that ENSO conditions cannot be predicted more than about 12 months ahead, so the output of climate models that could not predict ENSO conditions were being compared to temperatures during a period that was dominated by those influences. It's no wonder that model outputs have been so inaccurate, and it is clear that future modelling must incorporate the ENSO effect if it is to be meaningful."
Bob Carter, one of four scientists who has recently questioned the justification for the proposed Australian emissions trading scheme, says that this paper has significant consequences for public climate policy.

"The close relationship between ENSO and global temperature, as described in the paper, leaves little room for any warming driven by human carbon dioxide emissions. The available data indicate that future global temperatures will continue to change primarily in response to ENSO cycling, volcanic activity and solar changes.”

“Our paper confirms what many scientists already know: which is that no scientific justification exists for emissions regulation, and that, irrespective of the severity of the cuts proposed, ETS (emission trading scheme) will exert no measurable effect on future climate.”
McLean, J. D., C. R. de Freitas, and R. M. Carter (2009), Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature, Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, D14104, doi:10.1029/2008JD011637.
This figure from the McLean et al (2009) research shows that mean monthly global temperature (MSU GTTA) corresponds in general terms with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) of seven months earlier. The SOI is a rough indicator of general atmospheric circulation and thus global climate change. The possible influence of the Rabaul volcanic eruption is shown.

Excerpted Abstract of the Paper appearing in the Journal of Geophysical Research:
Time series for the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and global tropospheric temperature anomalies (GTTA) are compared for the 1958−2008 period. GTTA are represented by data from satellite microwave sensing units (MSU) for the period 1980–2008 and from radiosondes (RATPAC) for 1958–2008. After the removal from the data set of short periods of temperature perturbation that relate to near-equator volcanic eruption, we use derivatives to document the presence of a 5- to 7-month delayed close relationship between SOI and GTTA. Change in SOI accounts for 72% of the variance in GTTA for the 29-year-long MSU record and 68% of the variance in GTTA for the longer 50-year RATPAC record. Because El Niño−Southern Oscillation is known to exercise a particularly strong influence in the tropics, we also compared the SOI with tropical temperature anomalies between 20°S and 20°N. The results showed that SOI accounted for 81% of the variance in tropospheric temperature anomalies in the tropics. Overall the results suggest that the Southern Oscillation exercises a consistently dominant influence on mean global temperature, with a maximum effect in the tropics, except for periods when equatorial volcanism causes ad hoc cooling. That mean global tropospheric temperature has for the last 50 years fallen and risen in close accord with the SOI of 5–7 months earlier shows the potential of natural forcing mechanisms to account for most of the temperature variation.
Received 16 December 2008; accepted 14 May 2009; published 23 July 2009. [End Abstract Excerpt]

Technical Note from co-authors of study - July 29, 2009
Not surprisingly, a storm has broken out over research saying human activities are not the main factor behind climate change. In an attempt to denigrate the work, claims have been made that the research fails to effectively detect trends in MGT. This is misleading and causes confusion, especially among those people who have not read the paper.
The paper by McLean et al does not analyse trends in MGT; rather, it examines the extent to which ENSO accounts for variation in MGT. The research concludes that MGT has for the last 50 years fallen and risen in close accord with the SOI of 5-7 months earlier and shows the potential of natural mechanisms to account for most of the temperature variation.
It is evident in this paper that ENSO (ocean-atmosphere heat exchange) is the primary driver of MGT (i.e. El Niños cause global warming and La Niñas cause global cooling). All other mechanisms are small in comparison. The reason may be due to Hadley circulation which is itself linked to changes in sea surface temperature (ocean heat supply) and the Walker Circulation, that is, ENSO. Hadley circulation is the main mechanism for moving the surplus of energy at near the equator to high latitudes and plays a key role in the general circulation of the atmosphere. Changes in Hadley circulation affects convection and thus atmospheric moisture content and cloud cover which may in turn affect net solar heating as well as the transfer of heat from Earth to space.
Those who claim correlation using derivatives (differences) removes a linear trend miss the point. McLean et al use this method to construct Figures 5 and 6. It should be noted that detrended data was used purely to establish the time lag between the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and MGT in Figures 5 and 6. This time lag was then used in Figure 7 to show that close correlation between trends in temperature and changes in the Southern Oscillation Index seven months previously.
Figure 7 presents the data in its original form; namely, data that is not detrended, but with the time shift in SOI obtained from the detrended data. If an underlying trend existed, it would have shown up in Figure 7. One would see the temperature line rising away from the SOI line if, for example, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations had a significant influence. There is little or no sign of this.
The results in Figure 7 clearly show that the SOI related variability in MGT is the major contribution to any trends that might exist, although the McLean et al study did not look for this. The key conclusion of the paper, therefore, is that MGT is determined in most part by atmospheric processes related to the Southern Oscillation.
For more on trends, recent work by Compo and Sardeshmukh (Climate Dynamics, 32:33-342, 2009) is illuminating. The abstract includes the statement: “Evidence is presented that the recent worldwide land warming has occurred largely in response to a worldwide warming of the oceans rather than as a direct response to increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) over land.”

Please don't tell me anymore that "the debate is settled" because there is "overwhelming evidence" of anthropogenic climate change.

Related: Hockey Schtick post on a climate model including ocean oscillations and "sunspot integral" when combined correlates with temperature R^2=0.96. Note the correlation of CO2 to temperature is R^2=0.44.


  1. to 1.: Positive feedbacks do not violate 2nd law of thermodynamics. Albedo example from comment here: Neither in the positive cooling feedback nor in the positive warming feedback entropy is avoided. The energy comes from the sun. The sun burns out. Entropy is in the sun.
    Furthermore, Earth climate is not an isolated system, it receives energy from the sun and energy can leave the system into space.
    2. U.S. Climate Change Science Program says :
    "This difference between models and observations may arise from errors that are common to all models, from errors in the observational data sets, or from a combination of these factors. The second explanation is favored, but the issue is still open."
    Gavin Schmidt says (comments 9 & 10): "RSS is consistent with the models. You need to ask the satellite people when their structural errors will be small enough to provide a useful constraint."
    "For 1979-1999, the model's tropical T2 trends are 0.2 +/- 0.26 (95%), RSS is 0.14 +/- 0.26, for T2LT, models 0.22 +/- 0.26, RSS: 0.17 +/- 0.26 (95% CI, corrected for temporal autocorrelation). If you look at the T2LT-TS or T2-TS then the interannual variability is less and it is cleaner: RSS-HadISST = 0.058 +/- 0.035, models: 0.085 +/- 0.072. There is no question that RSS and the models match within respective uncertainties."
    So while the models point into the right direction, lesser uncertainty would strengthen the point.
    3. There are other papers positive feedback.
    4. What can I possibly say about a "yet-to-be-published-paper"? As long as it has not been published, it is just an opinion.
    Let's hope the new paper will be received with more applause than the last one.
    5. The current CO2 concentration is 388 ppm (see Widget). Precise measurements go back to the 50s. The increase is not in doubt at all. Neither are historical levels. Beck states a 150 ppm rise and absorption in a decade. That is not even remotely possible. You need 10 times the global industrial production of 2007 for that. We now produce 8 times more oil than 1945. And even then CO2 levels would show in the proxies (Treerings, sry, I said the T-Word)
    So the historical measurements are probably due to bad siting (combustion near, forests near). Current CO2 findings and estimates harmonize with all findings, be them ice cores, tree rings, data of industrial production, measurements from the 50s on.

  2. 6. To your first statement: This is no contradiction at all. Solar levels were a lower in the past. So GHG wasn't a similar powerful force, but needed higher concentrations for the same effect.
    The lag doesn't prove CO2 warming wrong. Because the later warming can at least partially be attributed to CO2. You can light a piece of paper with a butane lighter. The first ignition is due to butane. Then it burns because of paper. Doesn't prove that paper doesnt burn.
    7. Satellite measurements show an increased greenhouse effect and no saturation.
    Harries et al 2001 compares longwave radiation measurements of IRIS and IMG, Griggs 2004 added NASA AIRS, and Chen 2007 added the AURA satellite to the park, all confirming the greenhouse effect by measuring long wave radiation. No saturation.
    8. Ocean Oscillation? Is that Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) or El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)?
    Concerning ENSO it is the sceptics who do not take it into account, otherwise noone would start the "cooling trend" in a very strong El Nino year (1998).
    PDO has no trend.

    So what remains at the end of the day?
    2. is a good point that needs to be further investigated and more precise measures to be taken to either refute the theory or confirm it.
    3. is tipping its balance toward heavily toward positive feedback, but feedbacks in general are a very disputed point and very important to look at. But I think its more about clouds currently and not about water vapor.
    4. will be interesting when the heavyweight champion of sceptics enters the ring again.
    1., 5., 6., 7. and 8. are plain wrong.

    And sorry, the evidence just grabs into each other like a multidimensional zipper. Coherent with 500 years of natural sciences. From physics, geology, astronomy, oceanography, meteorology. Measured with thermometers, buoys, satellites, gravity indexes, etc. etc.

    Thousands of scientists, tenthousands of man years and publications.

    I do not say all is known. But concentrating on what we do not know for sure and on what action do we have to take because of what we know would be really useful for our children and grandchildren. The more we wait, the higher the cost for mitigation and adaption.

  3. Great post! There is one small typo at the beginning: it should read that CO2 concentration grew from .03% to .0388% in the 20th and not from .003% as it is written.


  4. Tucano: thanks I have corrected

    1. The theory of global warming, and the climate models that support it, are predicated upon the assumption that the sum of the positive feedbacks can exceed the sum of the negative feedbacks. This isn’t right. As Einstein might have quipped, this isn’t even wrong. This is a gross violation of everything we have learned about physics for hundreds of years. This contradicts principles of physics that were laid down by generations of scientists stretching all the way back to Newton, Archimedes and even Aristotle. This is the very essence of the myth of perpetual motion.

    The planet as a system has a certain amount of energy being fed into it. Being a highly complex system, various fluctuations in various systems occur over the short term. In the long term however, the amount of energy fed into the system, equals exactly the amount of energy radiated out. It may take a month or a trillion years, but that’s the number. That’s not an estimate or an approximation. The sum is exactly zero. A greenhouse layer can cause a short term increase in the amount of energy retained. In the long term, the amount of energy going into the system must equal exactly the amount of energy coming out. Either that or entropy doesn’t work and perpetual motion does. The negative feedbacks must exactly equal the positive feedbacks in the long term and any theory or model that presumes otherwise has a built in error.

    If the climate is highly sensitive, then the negative feedbacks must appear as quickly as the positive and cool any warming shortly after it appears. If the climate is highly insensitive, then the warming of the last 180 years cannot be due to CO2 increases that began 90 years ago, and will be cancelled by negative feedbacks that were initiated equally long ago. No amount of torturing the data can change this.

  5. 2. As Gavin himself is fond of saying, this is "rubbish". No statistical significance by now:model fails. Looks like they are going to have to wait a very very long time to get statisical significance with CO2 steadily rising and earth cooling. Lindzen, Christy, & many others have pointed out this short- coming.
    3. Ok, other papers advocate violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. #1 is from 1967 and it is a one page synopsis of a thesis with nothing there to go on. #2 by same author is a paleoclimate study with all the inherent problems of those. I'm placing my bets on the 2009 paper I cited using actual satellite data.
    4. ok we'll discuss when it is published.
    5. did you know Mauna Loa station where the CO2 has been measured since the 50's & which is in the Widget is on top of the 2nd most active volcano in the world, which happens to be adjacent to the 1st most active volcano in the world, and that Mauna Loa has the world-wide monopoly on the calibration standard of all other CO2 measurements? That they have to reject over 80% of the measurements as influenced by the 2 volcanos, but won't let anyone look at how they do the adjustments? And more refs:


  6. 6. Disagree & really don't understand your point. I added a graph on the post linked at "did not warm the planet"
    7. Absorption by CO2 declines logarithmically. Graphic is in the Plimer video on this site & I have it somewhere myself & will post when I find, but adding additional CO2 will make very little difference because those absorption bands are already very close to saturation.
    8. PDO does have about a 60 year periodicity. Look at the graphic over on the right & my post fourier analysis of climate & climate modeling linked at end of post above.

    Sorry but I've looked at the 1000s of years of science too and everything tells me the only thing wrong about it is a small clique of corrupt climatologists led by Hansen who came up with this seriously deficient politically-driven model and kept up the facade. The model ignores the sciences of geology, geophysics, chemistry, & physics to name a few but just happens to fully support his radical political views.

    e.g. he recently highly endorsed a book that concludes "The only way to prevent global ecological collapse and thus ensure the survival of humanity is to rid the world of Industrial Civilization"

    I don't want this site to discuss politics so that's all I'm going to say.

  7. to 1: Earth is not a closed system. Energy enters it from the sun, energy leaves it into space. AGW happens because less energy leaves it due to higher concentration of CO2. No problem with 2nd law of thermodynamics at all.
    Of course 2nd law of thermodynamics is valid. If you look at it from the solar system level, it is valid, because the sun, while burning, adds entropy.
    2. Well, I already said that the prediction from the model and the observations have too much uncertainty.
    3. Positive feedbacks are not a violation of 2nd law of thermodynamics. Neither are negative feedbacks. Earth atmosphere isn't a closed system when it comes to energy.
    5. global CO2 concentration, measured by over 300 stations in over 66 countries in the World Data Center for Greenhouse Gases.
    6. The cycles that stars take during their existence are well known. Solar level was lower then. CO2 is not the only driver of climate. So when energy influence from the sun is lower, GHG effect has to be higher to accomplish the same effect. Furthermore CO2 was not 1000 times higher, but maybe 20 times ( Royer 2006. ). If you are interested in CO2 and it's role over the the last 500 million years, you might want to take a look at Richard B. Alley's lecture at the AGU fall meeting 2009. He is a funny guy.
    7. Absorption of CO2 is logarithmical, true. Measurements of satellites show the absorption effect is not saturated. 4 different satellites.
    What brings me to something that really angers me. Why is it that sceptics are not true to themselves?
    You "place your bets" on satellite data if it furthers your point. But when it doesn't, satellite data (from 3 different studies and 4 different satellites) is just some paper.
    When someone somewhere in the scientific world makes a mistake, it is "the PROOF of the hoax!", mistakegate!, whatever. When Lindzen makes his faults in Lindzen & Choi 2009, noone cares.
    The so called sceptics have the highest demands for highest quality in the littlest details when it comes to climate science. But on the other hand papers that are plain junk like Beck's "The real history of CO2" are cited without end. Now THAT'S a violation of thermodynamics, when gigatonnes of CO2 just appear from nowhere and are gone a decade later!

    Sceptics have double standards when it comes to quality work. And double standards are not science, but religion.

  8. reports on a rebuttal from Trenberth to be published: