Friday, January 31, 2014

New paper finds another solar amplification mechanism that controls climate

A paper published today in the Journal of Climate finds a "robust response" of the East Asian monsoon to short-term changes in solar activity over 11-year solar cycles. Using observations from the last 5 solar cycles, the authors find tiny 0.1% changes in solar irradiance are amplified to induce a shift in location and increased variability of the East Asian monsoon rain band. The East Asian monsoon in turn has profound effects on Asian climate and interacts with other global atmospheric oscillations. 

The paper adds to hundreds of other peer-reviewed publications finding solar amplification mechanisms via effects on natural atmospheric and ocean oscillations such as the Southern OscillationNorth Atlantic Oscillation, Scandinavian Pattern,Quasi Biennial Oscillation (QBO), Indian Summer Monsoon, El Nino Southern Oscillation [ENSO], East Asian Monsoon, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Madden-Julian Oscillation, and others. Other amplification mechanisms include via ozone and sunshine hours/clouds.

Robust response of the East Asian monsoon rainband to solar variability

Liang Zhao1,2 and Jing-Song Wang1,*
1 National Center for Space Weather, Beijing, China 100081
2 Mailbox 5111, Beijing, China 100094
This study provides evidence of robust response of the East Asian monsoon rainband to 11-year solar cycle and first identify the exact time period within the summer half-year (1958–2012) with the strongest correlation between the mean latitude of the rainband (MLRB) over China and the sunspot number (SSN). This period just corresponds to the climatological mean East Asian Meiyu season, characterized by a large-scale quasi-zonal monsoon rainband (i.e., 22 May to 13 July). Both the statistically significant correlation and the temporal coincidence indicate a robust response of the Meiyu rainband to solar variability during the last five solar cycles. During the high-SSN years, the Meiyu MLRB lies 1.2° farther north and the amplitude of its interannual variations increases when compared with low-SSN years. The robust response of monsoon rainband to solar forcing is related to an anomalous general atmospheric pattern with an up-down seesaw and a north-south seesaw over East Asia.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BREAKING: Climate Denier Obama Admin Used NSA Spying to Sabotage 2009 UN Climate Summit

Breaking tonight on Huffington Post & Twitter:

  1. Obama Admin. using NSA spying to sabotage Copenhagen climate negotiations is pretty f'ing epic treachery

  2. Same state dept that is whitewashing KXL was taking all the NSA's intel on Copenhagen and wrecking the summit

  3. w/NSA intel in hand, US delegation 'just sat back' and undermined European efforts to 'rescue' Copenhagen summit

  4. Obama admin. clearly never wanted Copenhagen talks to work, NSA made sure nothing serious would happen

  5. Denier: Obama Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit to undermine talks

    Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit

    Posted: 01/29/2014 9:17 pm EST | Updated: 01/29/2014 10:30 pm EST

    WASHINGTON -- The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    The document, with portions marked "top secret," indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that "analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries' preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies."

    "Second Party partners" refers to the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with which the U.S. has an intelligence-sharing relationship. "While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event," the document says.

    The Huffington Post published the documents Wednesday night in coordination with the Danish daily newspaper Information, which worked with American journalist Laura Poitras.

    The December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen was the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brings together 195 countries to negotiate measures to address rising greenhouse gas emissions and their impact. The Copenhagen summit was the first big climate meeting after the election of President Barack Obama, and was widely expected to yield a significant breakthrough. Other major developed nations were already part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions limits, while the United States -- the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases when the protocol went into effect in 2004 -- had famously declined to join. The two-week meeting was supposed to produce a successor agreement that would include the U.S., as well as China, India and other countries with rapidly increasing emissions.

    The document indicates that the NSA planned to gather information as the leaders and negotiating teams of other countries held private discussions throughout the Copenhagen meeting. "[L]eaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding sidebar discussions with their counterparts -- details of which are of great interest to our policymakers," the document states. The information likely would be used to brief U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama, among others, according to the document.

    The document does not detail how the agency planned to continue gathering information during the summit, other than noting that it would be capturing signals intelligence such as calls and emails. Previous disclosures have indicated that the NSA has the ability to monitor the mobile phones of heads of state. Other documents that Snowden has released indicate that the U.K.'s intelligence service tapped into delegates' email and telephone communications at the 2009 G-20 meetings in London. Other previous Snowden disclosures documented the surveillance of the G-8 and G-20 summits in Canada in 2010, and the U.N. climate change conference in Bali in 2007.

    The document also refers to some intelligence gathered ahead of the meeting, including a report that "detailed China's efforts to coordinate its position with India and ensure that the two leaders of the developing world are working towards the same outcome." It refers to another report that "provided advance details of the Danish proposal and their efforts to launch a 'rescue plan' to save COP-15."

    The Danish proposal was a draft agreement that the country's negotiators had drawn up in the months ahead of the summit in consultation with a small number key of countries. The text was leaked to The Guardian early in the conference, causing some disarray as countries that were not consulted balked that it promoted the interests of developed nations and undermined principles laid out in previous climate negotiations. As Information reports, Danish officials wanted to keep U.S. negotiators from seeing the text in the weeks ahead of the conference, worried that it may dim their ambitions in the negotiations for proposed cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

    The Danes did share the text with the U.S. and other key nations ahead of the meeting. But the NSA document noting this as "advance details" indicates that the U.S. may have already intercepted it. The paragraph referring to the Danish text is marked "SI" in the Snowden document -- which most likely means "signals intelligence," indicating that it came from electronic information intercepted by the NSA, rather than being provided to the U.S. negotiators.

    That could be why U.S. negotiators took the positions they did going into the conference, a Danish official told Information. "They simply sat back, just as we had feared they would if they knew about our document," the official said. "They made no constructive statements. Obviously, if they had known about our plans since the fall of 2009, it was in their interest to simply wait for our draft proposal to be brought to the table at the summit."
    Members of the Danish delegation indicated in interviews with Information that they thought the American and Chinese negotiators seemed "peculiarly well-informed" about discussions that had taken place behind closed doors. "Particularly the Americans," said one official. "I was often completely taken aback by what they knew."

    Despite high hopes for an agreement at Copenhagen, the negotiations started slowly and there were few signs of progress. Obama and heads of state from more than 100 nations arrived late in the second week in hopes of achieving a breakthrough, but the final day wore on without an outcome. There were few promising signals until late Friday night, when Obama made a surprise announcement that he -- along with leaders from China, India, Brazil and South Africa -- had come up with the "Copenhagen Accord."

    The three-page document set a goal of keeping the average rise in global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius, but allowed countries to write their own plans for cutting emissions -- leaving out any legally binding targets or even a path to a formal treaty. Obama called the accord "an unprecedented breakthrough" in a press conference, then took off for home on Air Force One. But other countries balked, pointing out that the accord was merely a political agreement, drafted outside the U.N. process and of uncertain influence for future negotiations.
    The climate summits since then have advanced at a glacial pace; a legally binding treaty isn't currently expected until 2015. And the U.S. Congress, despite assurances made in Copenhagen, never passed new laws cutting planet-warming emissions. (The Environmental Protection Agency is, however, moving forward with regulations on emissions from power plants, but a new law to addressing the issue had been widely considered as preferable.)

    The revelation that the NSA was surveilling the communications of leaders during the Copenhagen talks is unlikely to help build the trust of negotiators from other nations in the future.

    "It can't help in the sense that if people think you're trying to get an unfair advantage or manipulate the process, they're not going to have much trust in you," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists and a seasoned veteran of the U.N. climate negotiations. Meyer said he worried that the disclosure might cause the parties to "start becoming more cautious, more secretive, and less forthcoming" in the negotiations. "That's not a good dynamic in a process where you're trying to encourage collaboration, compromise, and working together, as opposed to trying to get a comparative advantage," he said.

    Obama has defended the NSA's work as important in fighting terrorism at home and abroad. But the latest Snowden document indicates that the agency plays a broader role in protecting U.S. interests internationally.

    National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment directly on the Snowden document in an email to the Huffington Post, but did say that "the U.S. Government has made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations." She noted that Obama's Jan. 17 speech on the NSA "laid out a series of concrete and substantial reforms the Administration will adopt or seek to codify with Congress" regarding surveillance.

    "In particular, he issued a new Presidential Directive that lays out new principles that govern how we conduct signals intelligence collection, and strengthen how we provide executive branch oversight of our signals intelligence activities," Hayden said. "It will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances; our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of our companies; and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. And we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis, so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by the President’s senior national security team."

    Read the full document here.

New paper debunks claim that global warming increases violence

A paper published today in Nature Climate Change debunks the alarmist claim that global warming and extreme weather cause increased violence, wars, and human conflict. 

Extreme temperatures and violence

Published online
Ascribing violence to extreme weather and climate change risks anchoring a modern form of environmental determinism.
In his book Civilization and Climate, Ellsworth Huntington (1876–1947) noted1 that “Almost any American or European who has travelled or resided within the tropics will confess that he has occasionally flown into a passion, and perhaps used physical violence, under circumstances which at home would merely have made him vexed.” This begs the question — why is there no violent conflict when severe droughts, heavy floods or hot temperatures hit rich countries. One reason is that high levels of social and political stability exist in comparatively developed countries: farmers' crops fail, but they have insurance; property is damaged, but recovery centres are available to house victims; the injured are treated in hospitals; state agencies rush to assist. When disasters strike truly destitute societies with low levels of social stability, it compounds already poor governance, economic marginalization and substantial environmental vulnerabilities.
Some studies in environmental security are in danger of promulgating a modern form of environmental determinism by suggesting that climate conditions directly and dominantly influence the propensity for violence among individuals, communities and states. For example, increased temperatures have recently been shown to be correlated with more violence and decreased temperatures with less violence234, leading to the claim that climatic anomalies are linked to social conflict at all scales and across all major regions of the world. The implication is that poor people act violently for natural reasons. However, such de-politicized analyses remove violence from its local, social and political contexts, and reduce conflict to an immediate and unmediated function of physical, biological and physical–geographical signals. Instead, the impression is given that environmental conditions determine conflict occurrence, type and rate, in line with an environmental determinist perspective that has been widely discredited as a lens for academic research about social instability. We caution against a renewed environmental determinism in the study of a climate–conflict link.

New paper finds Australian tropical cyclones are currently at 'unprecedented' lowest levels in 550-1,500 years

A paper published today in Nature finds "Australian tropical cyclone activity [is currently] lower than at any time over the past 550–1,500 years" and "we show, on the basis of a new tropical cyclone activity index (CAI), that the present low levels of storm activity on the mid west and northeast coasts of Australia are unprecedented over the past 550 to 1,500 years."

"Other studies project a decrease in the frequency of tropical cyclones towards the end of the twenty-first century in the southwest Pacific, southern Indian and Australian regions. Our results, although based on a limited record, suggest that this may be occurring much earlier than expected."

The paper adds to many other peer-reviewed publications finding global warming decreases storm activity, and that climate models predict decreased storm activity in the future, opposite to the claims of climate alarmists. 

Nature 505, 7485 (2014). doi:10.1038/nature12882

Authors: Jordahna Haig, Jonathan Nott & Gert-Jan Reichart

The assessment of changes in tropical cyclone activity within the context of anthropogenically influenced climate change has been limited by the short temporal resolution of the instrumental tropical cyclone record (less than 50 years). Furthermore, controversy exists regarding the robustness of the observational record, especially before 1990. Here we show, on the basis of a new tropical cyclone activity index (CAI), that the present low levels of storm activity on the mid west and northeast coasts of Australia are unprecedented over the past 550 to 1,500 years. The CAI allows for a direct comparison between the modern instrumental record and long-term palaeotempest (prehistoric tropical cyclone) records derived from the 18O/16O ratio of seasonally accreting carbonate layers of actively growing stalagmites. Our results reveal a repeated multicentennial cycle of tropical cyclone activity, the most recent of which commenced around ad 1700. The present cycle includes a sharp decrease in activity after 1960 in Western Australia. This is in contrast to the increasing frequency and destructiveness of Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones since 1970 in the Atlantic Ocean and the western North Pacific Ocean. Other studies project a decrease in the frequency of tropical cyclones towards the end of the twenty-first century in the southwest Pacific, southern Indian and Australian regions. Our results, although based on a limited record, suggest that this may be occurring much earlier than expected.