Thursday, July 31, 2014

New paper finds another potential solar amplification mechanism

A paper published today in Non-Linear Processes in Geophysics, co-authored by CAGW skeptic and Professor of Geophysics Dr. Vincent Courtillot, finds a "change in regime of solar activity" during the 20th century correlated to the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO), a wind reversal that "dominates" variability of the lower stratosphere and in turn "affects a variety of extratropical phenomena including the strength and stability of the winter polar vortex."

Solar modulation of the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) has also been found by several other papers, and may represent one of several proposed solar amplification mechanisms modulating climate change.

According to the authors,
We propose that the HSV [half-solar-cycle] behavior of the irregularity index of ISSN [International Sunspot Number] may be linked to the presence of strong QBO [quasi-biennial oscillation] before 1915–1930, a transition and their disappearance around 1975, corresponding to a change in regime of solar activity.
Although the mechanism is not understood, the authors find good correlation between their "irregularity index of ISSN [International Sunspot Number]" and the strength of quasi-biennial oscillations, which "dominates variability of the lower stratosphere" and which may in turn control the jet stream and winter polar vortex that led to this winter's record US cold temperatures. 

Red curve is the solar geomagnetic aa index, blue line is the author's new 'Irregularity index of the International Sunspot Number'. The authors propose the highly variable irregularity index in the first part of the 20th century led to strong QBOs [quasi-biennial oscillations] "before 1915–1930,  a transition and their disappearance around 1975 corresponding to a change in regime of solar activity." 
Note also the strong increase in geomagnetic activity during the first half of the 20th century and sustained high levels thereafter to 2000.
Full paper available here:

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 21, 797-813, 2014

A. Shapoval1,3,4, J. L. Le Mouël2, M. Shnirman1,2, and V. Courtillot2
1IEPT RAS, Profsoyuznaya str. 84/32, 117 997 Moscow, Russia
2IPGP, 1 rue Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France
3Financial University, Leningradsky pr. 49, 125 167 Moscow, Russia
4National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, 101 000 Moscow, Russia

Abstract. We define, calculate and analyze irregularity indices λISSN of daily series of the International Sunspot Number ISSN as a function of increasing smoothing from N = 162 to 648 days. The irregularity indices λ are computed within 4-year sliding windows, with embedding dimensions m = 1 and 2. λISSN displays Schwabe cycles with ~5.5-year variations ("half Schwabe variations" HSV [half a solar cycle]). The mean of λISSN undergoes a downward step and the amplitude of its variations strongly decreases around 1930. We observe changes in the ratio R of the mean amplitude of λ peaks at solar cycle minima with respect to peaks at solar maxima as a function of date, embedding dimension and, importantly, smoothing parameter N. We identify two distinct regimes, called Q1 and Q2, defined mainly by the evolution of R as a function of N: Q1, with increasing HSV behavior and R value as N is increased, occurs before 1915–1930; and Q2, with decreasing HSV behavior and R value as N is increased, occurs after ~1975. We attempt to account for these observations with an autoregressive (order 1) model with Poissonian noise and a mean modulated by two sine waves of periods T1 and T2 (T1 = 11 years, and intermediate T2 is tuned to mimic quasi-biennial oscillations QBO). The model can generate both Q1 and Q2 regimes. When m = 1, HSV appears in the absence of T2 variations. When m = 2, Q1 occurs when T2 variations are present, whereas Q2 occurs when T2 variations are suppressed. We propose that the HSV behavior of the irregularity index of ISSN may be linked to the presence of strong QBO before 1915–1930, a transition and their disappearance around 1975, corresponding to a change in regime of solar activity.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New paper finds prior estimates of global aerosol forcing off by ± 20-50%, which models "depend critically" upon

From the Annals of Settled Science:

A paper published today in Nature Climate Change updates records of large volcanic eruptions from Antarctic ice cores and finds 
"Assessments of climate sensitivity to projected greenhouse gas concentrations underpin environmental policy decisions, with such assessments often based on model simulations of climate during recent centuries and millennia. These simulations depend critically on accurate records of past aerosol forcing" 
"that prior to the year 1500 the reconstructions [of volcanic eruptions] were either previously overestimating global aerosol forcing by 20–30% or underestimating it by 20–50%. This has implications for estimates of climate sensitivity" to CO2. 
"Simulations of climate impacts after large eruptions predict stronger cooling than is found from temperature reconstructions, although the reasons for the mismatch are widely debated."
Perhaps the reason why ""simulations of climate impacts after large eruptions predict stronger cooling than is found from temperature reconstructions" is because, as Willis Eschenbach has shown, the climate really cares little about radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere, and the real control knob is the emergent thermodynamics of the lower atmosphere.

Summary of the paper from Nature Climate Change:

Historical aerosol forcing from large volcanic eruptions are reconstructed from sulphate deposition measured in ice cores. This study updates these records by using a more extensive collection of Antarctic ice cores, which provide new records and accurate dating of published records. The results show that prior to the year 1500 the reconstructions were either previously overestimating global aerosol forcing by 20–30% or underestimating it by 20–50%. This has implications for estimates of climate sensitivity.

Nature Climate Change 4 693 doi: 10.1038/nclimate2293

Insights from Antarctica on volcanic forcing during the Common Era

Monday, July 28, 2014

Updated list of 63 excuses for the 18-26 year 'pause' in global warming

"If you can't explain the 'pause', you can't explain the cause"

RSS satellite data showing the 18 year 'pause' of global warming

An updated list of at least 29 32 36 38 39 41 51 52 63 excuses for the 18-26 year statistically significant 'pause' in global warming, including recent scientific papers, media quotes, blogs, and related debunkings: 

1) Low solar activity

2) Oceans ate the global warming [debunked] [debunked] [debunked]

3) Chinese coal use [debunked]

4) Montreal Protocol

5) What ‘pause’? [debunked] [debunked] [debunked] [debunked]

6) Volcanic aerosols [debunked]

7) Stratospheric Water Vapor

8) Faster Pacific trade winds [debunked]

9) Stadium Waves

10) ‘Coincidence!’

11) Pine aerosols

12) It's "not so unusual" and "no more than natural variability"

13) "Scientists looking at the wrong 'lousy' data" http://

14) Cold nights getting colder in Northern Hemisphere

15) We forgot to cherry-pick models in tune with natural variability [debunked]

16) Negative phase of Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation

17) AMOC ocean oscillation

18) "Global brightening" has stopped

19) "Ahistorical media"

20) "It's the hottest decade ever" Decadal averages used to hide the 'pause' [debunked]

21) Few El Ninos since 1999

22) Temperature variations fall "roughly in the middle of the AR4 model results"

23) "Not scientifically relevant"

24) The wrong type of El Ninos

25) Slower trade winds [debunked]

26) The climate is less sensitive to CO2 than previously thought [see also]

27) PDO and AMO natural cycles and here

28) ENSO

35) Scientists forgot "to look at our models and observations and ask questions"

36) The models really do explain the "pause" [debunked] [debunked] [debunked]

37) As soon as the sun, the weather and volcanoes – all natural factors – allow, the world will start warming again. Who knew?

38) Trenberth's "missing heat" is hiding in the Atlantic, not Pacific as Trenberth claimed

[debunked] [Dr. Curry's take] [Author: “Every week there’s a new explanation of the hiatus”]

39) "Slowdown" due to "a delayed rebound effect from 1991 Mount Pinatubo aerosols and deep prolonged solar minimum"

[Before this new paper, anthropogenic aerosols were thought to cool the climate or to have minimal effects on climate, but as of now, they "surprisingly warm" the climate] 

42) Trenberth's 'missing heat' really is missing and is not "supported by the data itself" in the "real ocean":

"it is not clear to me, actually, that an accelerated warming of some...layer of the ocean ... is robustly supported by the data itself. Until we clear up whether there has been some kind of accelerated warming at depth in the real ocean, I think these results serve as interesting hypotheses about why the rate of surface warming has slowed-down, but we still lack a definitive answer on this topic." [Josh Willis]

43) Ocean Variability:

"After some intense work by of the community, there is general agreement that the main driver [of climate the "pause"] is ocean variability. That's actually quite impressive progress."

44) The data showing the missing heat going into the oceans is robust and not robust:

" I think the findings that the heat is going into the Atlantic and Southern Ocean’s is probably pretty robust. However, I will defer to people like Josh Willis who know the data better than I do."-Andrew Dessler. Debunked by Josh Willis, who Dessler says "knows the data better than I do," says in the very same NYT article that "it is not clear to me, actually, that an accelerated warming of some...layer of the ocean ... is robustly supported by the data itself" - Josh Willis

45) We don't have a theory that fits all of the data:

"Ultimately, the challenge is to come up with the parsimonious theory [of the 'pause'] that fits all of the data" [Andrew Dessler]

46) We don't have enough data of natural climate cycles lasting 60-70 years to determine if the "pause" is due to such natural cycles:

"If the cycle has a period of 60-70 years, that means we have one or two cycles of observations. And I don’t think you can much about a cycle with just 1-2 cycles: e.g., what the actual period of the variability is, how regular it is, etc. You really need dozens of cycles to determine what the actual underlying variability looks like. In fact, I don’t think we even know if it IS a cycle." [Andrew Dessler]

47) Could be pure internal [natural] variability or increased CO2 or both

"this brings up what to me is the real question: how much of the hiatus is pure internal variability and how much is a forced response (from loading the atmosphere with carbon). This paper seems to implicitly take the position that it’s purely internal variability, which I’m not sure is true and might lead to a very different interpretation of the data and estimate of the future." [Andrew Dessler]

48) Its either in the Atlantic or Pacific, but definitely not a statistical fluke:

It's the Atlantic, not Pacific, and "the hiatus in the warming...should not be dismissed as a statistical fluke" [John Michael Wallace]

49) The other papers with excuses for the "pause" are not "science done right":

" If the science is done right, the calculated uncertainty takes account of this background variation. But none of these papers, Tung, or Trenberth, does that. Overlain on top of this natural behavior is the small, and often shaky, observing systems, both atmosphere and ocean where the shifting places and times and technologies must also produce a change even if none actually occurred. The “hiatus” is likely real, but so what? The fuss is mainly about normal behavior of the climate system." [Carl Wunsch]

50) The observational data we have is inadequate, but we ignore uncertainty to publish anyway:

"The central problem of climate science is to ask what you do and say when your data are, by almost any standard, inadequate? If I spend three years analyzing my data, and the only defensible inference is that “the data are inadequate to answer the question,” how do you publish? How do you get your grant renewed? A common answer is to distort the calculation of the uncertainty, or ignore it all together, and proclaim an exciting story that the New York Times will pick up...How many such stories have been withdrawn years later when enough adequate data became available?"

51) If our models could time-travel back in time, “we could have forecast ‘the pause’ – if we had the tools of the future back then” [NCAR press release]

Additional related comments from climate scientists about the "pause"

1) My University screwed up the press release & didn't let me stop them from claiming my paper shows the "hiatus will last another decade or two." [Dessler]

2) "This [the 'pause'] is not an existential threat to the mainstream theory of climate." [Andrew Dessler]

3) "In a few years, as we get to understand this [the 'pause'] more, skeptics will move on (just like they dropped arguments about the hockey stick and about the surface station record) to their next reason not to believe climate science." [Andrew Dessler]

4)  "if you try really hard to mangle the data, and cherry pick very skillfully, you can make a case" for the "pause"

5) Michael Asten from Monash University’s School of Earth ­Atmosphere and Environment said that, while opinions on causes differed, the existence of the pause was settled. “Only activists dare claim the pause in global temperature does not exist,” Professor Asten said

and a roundup of climate scientists talking about no warming, from Jimbo at WUWT, and via Andrew Bolt's Herald Sun blog

Jimbo on Watts Up With That rounds up the climate scientists confessing to this lack of warming:

Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 5th July, 2005

“The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant….”

Dr. Phil Jones – CRU emails – 7th May, 2009

‘Bottom line: the ‘no upward trend’ has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried.’

Dr. Judith L. Lean – Geophysical Research Letters – 15 Aug 2009
“…This lack of overall warming is analogous to the period from 2002 to 2008 when decreasing solar irradiance also countered much of the anthropogenic warming…”

Dr. Kevin Trenberth – CRU emails – 12 Oct. 2009

“Well, I have my own article on where the heck is global warming…..The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

Dr. Mojib Latif – Spiegel – 19th November 2009

“At present, however, the warming is taking a break,"……."There can be no argument about that.”

Dr. Jochem Marotzke – Spiegel – 19th November 2009

“It cannot be denied that this is one of the hottest issues in the scientific community.... We don’t really know why this stagnation is taking place at this point.”

Dr. Phil Jones – BBC – 13th February 2010

“I’m a scientist trying to measure temperature. If I registered that the climate has been cooling I’d say so. But it hasn’t until recently – and then barely at all. The trend is a warming trend.”

Dr. Phil Jones – BBC – 13th February 2010

[Q] B – “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming”

[A] “Yes, but only just”.

Prof. Shaowu Wang et al – Advances in Climate Change Research – 2010

“…The decade of 1999-2008 is still the warmest of the last 30 years, though the global temperature increment is near zero;…”

Dr. Robert K. Kaufmann – PNAS – 2nd June 2011

“… has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008…..”

Dr. Gerald A. Meehl – Nature Climate Change – 18th September 2011

“There have been decades, such as 2000–2009, when the observed globally averaged surface-temperature time series shows little increase or even a slightly negative trend1 (a hiatus period)….”

Met Office Blog – Dave Britton (10:48:21) – 14 October 2012

“We agree with Mr Rose that there has been only a very small amount of warming in the 21st Century. As stated in our response, this is 0.05 degrees Celsius since 1997 equivalent to 0.03 degrees Celsius per decade.”

Dr. James Hansen – NASA GISS – 15 January 2013

“The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing.”

Dr. Virginie Guemas – Nature Climate Change – 7 April 2013

“…Despite a sustained production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the Earth’s mean near-surface temperature paused its rise during the 2000–2010 period…”

Dr. Hans von Storch – Spiegel – 20 June 2013

“…the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) — a value very close to zero….If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models….”

Professor Masahiro Watanabe – Geophysical Research Letters – 28 June 2013

“The weakening of k commonly found in GCMs seems to be an inevitable response of the climate system to global warming, suggesting the recovery from hiatus in coming decades.”

Professor Rowan Sutton – Independent – 22 July 2013

“Some people call it a slow-down, some call it a hiatus, some people call it a pause. The global average surface temperature has not increased substantially over the last 10 to 15 years.”

And, no, they never saw this coming:

UPDATE: Oh, did they forget to mention the planet wouldn’t actually warm for a while? Their bad: 

Scientists have long been aware that climate change would not happen at a fixed rate and could include periods where temperatures remain stable for 10 to 20 years, but admitted they had failed to explain this to the public in the past.
Prof Rowan Sutton, Director of Climate Research at the University of Reading, said: “Within the field we have taken for granted that there will be variations in the rate of warming, it is totally accepted and is no surprise ...[it] would correct to say that wasn’t the message that we communicated more widely and that probably is a failing.”
UPDATE: C3 has updated the Wayne's World list of excuses for the "pause":


Climate Depot Analysis: ‘There have been at least 10 separate explanations for the standstill in global warming’ – 1) Low Solar Activity; 2) Oceans Ate Warming; 3) Chinese Coal Use; 4) Montreal Protocol; 5) Readjusted past temps to claim ‘pause’ never existed 6) Volcanoes 7) Decline in Water Vapor 8) Pacific trade winds 9) ‘Coincidence’ 10) ‘Stadium Waves’

‘Warming Interrruptus’ – Causes for The Pause

Quotable Global Warming Hiatus Quotes

Sunday, July 27, 2014

New paper finds 'high correlation between solar activity and Earth's temperature over centuries'

A new paper published in the Chinese Science Bulletin finds "high correlation between solar activity and the Earth's averaged surface temperature over centuries." 

The paper is written in Chinese, but has an English abstract [below] and a press release which states, 

"results demonstrate that solar activity and the Earth’s temperature have significant resonance cycles, and the Earth’s temperature has periodic variations similar to those of the solar activity (Figure 1).     
The study also implies that the “modern maximum” of solar activity agrees well with the global warming of the Earth during the past century. A significant correlation between them can be found (Figure 2). Especially, the correlation between the solar activity and the ocean temperature is higher than the correlation between the solar activity and the land temperature. These results, as pointed out by a peer reviewer, “provide a possible explanation for the global warming”.  
The global wavelet coherence between Sunspot number (a), Total Solar Irradiance (b) and the anomalies of the Earth's averaged surface temperature. The resonant periodicities of 21.3-year (21.5-year), 52.3-year (61.6-year), and... Click here for more information. 
It is left to the reader to translate the paper from Chinese, but it appears from the abstract and press release to support other work demonstrating that cumulative solar activity explains much of the global warming of the 20th century, indeed over the past 400 years. 

Has solar activity influenced Earth's global warming?

A recent study demonstrates the existence of significant resonance cycles and high correlations between solar activity and the Earth's averaged surface temperature over centuries. This provides a new clue to reveal the phenomenon of global warming in recent years.

Their work, entitled "Periodicities of solar activity and the surface temperature variation of the Earth and their correlations" was published in CHINESE SCIENCE BULLETIN (In Chinese) 2014 No.14 with the co-corresponding authors of Dr. Zhao Xinhua and Dr. Feng Xueshang from State key laboratory of space weather, CSSAR/NSSC, Chinese Academy of Sciences. It adopts the wavelet analysis technique and cross correlation method to investigate the periodicities of solar activity and the Earth's temperature as well as their correlations during the past centuries.

Global warming is one of the hottest and most debatable issues at present. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claimed that the release of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases contributed to 90% or even higher of the observed increase in the global average temperature in the past 50 years. However, the debate on the causes of the global warming never stops. Research shows that the current warming does not exceed the natural fluctuations of climate. The climate models of IPCC seem to underestimate the impact of natural factors on the climate change, while overstate that of human activities. Solar activity is an important ingredient of natural driving forces of climate. Therefore, it is valuable to investigate the influence of solar variability on the Earth's climate change on long time scales.

This innovative study combines the measured data with those reconstructed to disclose the periodicities of solar activity during centuries and their correlations with the Earth's temperature. The obtained results demonstrate that solar activity and the Earth's temperature have significant resonance cycles, and the Earth's temperature has periodic variations similar to those of solar activity (Figure 1).

This study also implies that the "modern maximum" of solar activity agrees well with the recent global warming of the Earth. A significant correlation between them can be found (Figure 2).

As pointed out by a peer reviewer, "this work provides a possible explanation for the global warming".


See the article:

ZHAO X H, FENG X S. Periodicities of solar activity and the surface temperature variation of the Earth and their correlations (in Chinese). Chin Sci Bull (Chin Ver), 2014, 59: 1284, doi: 10.1360/972013-1089

High Correlations between Solar Activity and the Earth's Averaged Surface Temperature Proved by NSSC Scientists

Global warming, namely the unequivocal and continuing rise in Earth’s climate, is one of the hottest and most debatable issue at the present time. As a scientific intergovernmental and international body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) once claimed that the release of the anthropogenic greenhouse gases contributed to as much as 90% or even higher of the observed increase in the global average temperature in the past 50 years. However, worldwide scientists are still skeptical and debate on the possible explanation of the global warming never ends. Research shows that the IPCC’s model tends to underestimate the impact of natural factors on the climate change, while overestimate that of the human activities.

As a matter of fact, solar activity is an important ingredient of natural driving forces of climate. A recent study done by space physicists at the State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, the National Space Science Center (NSSC) have demonstrated the high correlations between solar activity and the Earth’s averaged surface temperature during centuries. The result will to a large extend provide a new clue to reveal the cause of global warming in recent years.

Supported by NSSC’s “Five Key Cultivation Directions” Fund, Dr. ZHAO Xinhua and Dr. FENG Xueshang combined the measured data with those reconstructed to disclose the periodicities of solar activity during centuries and their correlations with the Earth’s temperature based on the wavelet analysis technique and cross correlation method. Their results demonstrate that solar activity and the Earth’s temperature have significant resonance cycles, and the Earth’s temperature has periodic variations similar to those of the solar activity (Figure 1). 

The study also implies that the “modern maximum” of solar activity agrees well with the global warming of the Earth during the past century. A significant correlation between them can be found (Figure 2). Especially, the correlation between the solar activity and the ocean temperature is higher than the correlation between the solar activity and the land temperature. These results, as pointed out by a peer reviewer, “provide a possible explanation for the global warming”.

Their work, entitled Periodicities of solar activity and the surface temperature variation of the Earth and their correlations was published on CHINESE SCIENCE BULLETIN (In Chinese) 2014 No.14. It was reported by the global source for science news, EurekAlert!, both in Chinese and in English entitled Has solar activity influence on the Earth's global warming? on June 3 and June 4, 2014, respectively.

Figure 1: The global wavelet coherence between Sunspot number (a), Total Solar Irradiance (b) and the anomalies of the Earth’s averaged surface temperature. The resonant periodicities of 21.3-year (21.5-year), 52.3-year (61.6-year), and 81.6-year are close to the 22-year, 50-year, and 100-year cycles of solar activity. (Image by NSSC)
  Figure 2: Comparisons between the 11-year running averaged Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) and the temperature (T) anomalies of the Earth (global, land, ocean). (Image by NSSC)

Periodicities of solar activity and the surface temperature variation of the Earth and their correlations

ZHAO XinHua*, FENG XueShang* 

State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, Center for Space Science and Applied Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China


Based on the well-calibrated systematiCmeasurements of sunspot numbers, the reconstructed data of the total solar irradiance (TSI), and the observed anomalies of the Earth’s averaged surface temperature (global, ocean, land), this paper investigates the periodicities of both solar activity and the Earth’s temperature variation as well as their correlations on the time scale of centuries using the wavelet and cross correlation analysis techniques. The main results are as follows. (1) Solar activities (including sunspot number and TSI) have four major periodic components higher than the 95% significance level of white noise during the period of interest, i.e. 11-year period, 50-year period, 100-year period, and 200-year period. The global temperature anomalies of the Earth have only one major periodic component of 64.3-year period, which is close to the 50-year cycle of solar activity. (2) Significant resonant periodicities between solar activity and the Earth’s temperature are focused on the 22- and 50-year period. (3) Correlations between solar activity and the surface temperature of the Earth on the long time scales are higher than those on the short time scales. As far as the sunspot number is concerned, its correlation coefficients to the Earth temperature are 0.31-0.35 on the yearly scale, 0.58-0.70 on the 11-year running mean scale, and 0.64-0.78 on the 22-year running mean scale. TSI has stronger correlations to the Earth temperature than sunspot number. (4) During the past 100 years, solar activities display a clear increasing tendency that corresponds to the global warming of the Earth (including land and ocean) very well. Particularly, the ocean temperature has a slightly higher correlation to solar activity than the land temperature. All these demonstrate that solar activity has a non-negligible forcing on the temperature change of the Earth on the time scale of centuries.

Full paper [in Chinese] available here 

Why the IPCC exaggerates greenhouse warming of the oceans by at least 2.5 times

A new paper finds the deep oceans have cooled contrary to alarmist claims of deep ocean warming by Trenberth's "missing heat" from carbon dioxide. Trenberth's theory, one of at least 14 excuses for the ~18 year 'pause' of global warming, now appears to be dead in the water. 

Data from the new paper can be used to derive that the world's oceans have warmed only about 0.008°C over the past 19 years from 1992-2011, and imply that the IPCC exaggerates net greenhouse forcing on the oceans by at least a factor of 2.5 times. 

According to the author Dr. Carl Wunsch, one of the world's most respected oceanographers, 
"A total change in [world ocean] heat content, top-to-bottom, is found (discussed below) of approximately 4 × 10^22 Joules in 19 years, for a net heating of 0.2±0.1 W/m2, smaller than some published values (e.g., Hansen et al., 2005, 0.86±0.12 W/m2 ; Lyman et al., 2010, 0.63±0.28 W/m2; or von Schuckmann and Le Traon, 2011, 0.55±0.1 W/m2; but note the differing averaging periods), but indistinguishable from the summary Fig. 14 of Abraham et al. (2013). Perhaps coincidentally, it is similar to the 135-year 700 m depth ocean rate of 0.2±0.1 W/m2 of Roemmich et al. (2012)."
Although the paper does not compare these estimates to those of the IPCC, using the "IPCC formula" for forcing from CO2 [which includes alleged positive feedback from water vapor], we find that over the same 19 year period studied by Dr. Wunsch that greenhouse gas forcing allegedly increased by 0.505 W/m2 given the increase in CO2 levels from 356.38 ppm in 1992 to 391.63 ppm in 2011:

5.35*ln(391.63/356.38) = 0.505 W/m2

However, Dr. Wunsch notes above that over the same period the world oceans warmed by only 0.2 ± 0.1 W/m2, or 2.5 times less than the IPCC alleged forcing from greenhouse gases. Note this is assuming that all ocean warming over that period was from greenhouse gas forcing and none from ocean oscillations, solar amplification mechanisms, clouds, global brightening, natural variability, etc. The actual greenhouse forcing on the oceans after feedbacks and natural variability is thus most likely to be a minimum of 2.5 times less than the IPCC claims. 

Dr. Wunsch also finds a forcing of 1 W/m2, if continuously maintained, would change global mean ocean temperature by only about 0.04C.
"Consider, for example, that greenhouse gas warming of the ocean [since ~1850]  is widely believed to be of order 1 W/m2 (e.g., Hansen et al., 2005) or less. The volume of the ocean is about 1.3 × 10^18 m3 . Using a mean density of 1038 kg/m3, the total mass is about 1.34 × 10^21 kg, and with a heat capacity of roughly 3.8 × 103 J/kg/◦C, the global heat capacity is approximately 5.4×10^24 J/◦C. A heating rate of 1 W/m2, if maintained for 20 years, produces an energy content change of about 2.2 × 10^23 J for a change in global ocean mean temperature of about 0.04◦C."
Per the IPCC formula above, the alleged increase in greenhouse forcing over the recent 19 years is 0.505 W/m2, which would thus translate to an ocean warming of only 0.505*.04 = 0.02C. Dr. Wunsch finds the oceans have warmed only 0.2 W/m2 over the 19 years, which would translate to only a very tiny 0.2*0.04 =  0.008C. 

The estimated ocean heating rates in Dr. Wunsch's paper are also much less than prior estimates:
These findings are understandable in the context of the ~18 year pause in surface warming [thus no change in the temperature gradient between the atmosphere and ocean surface] and because longwave infrared radiation from greenhouse gases cannot heat the oceans.

Full paper by Dr. Wunsch available here


A Very Unsettled Science: Just a few of the most urgent unsolved questions in climate science

A recent paper published in Frontiers in Earth Science briefly describes twelve of the "grand challenges" in atmospheric research over the next several years. According to the author, this "non-exhaustive" list only mentions "a few of the most urgent unsolved questions and naturally remains incomplete."

The few of the most urgent unsolved questions include climate forcings, feedbacks, data series of adequate length to determine trends and correlations, better representation of errors, the carbon cycle, representation of clouds & deep convection, the complex dynamics in urban areas, closure of the surface energy and heat balance with observations, effect of aerosols, extending weather forecasts beyond 2-7 days, non-linear fluid dynamics and chaotic interactions, understanding of the nature of the interaction between atmospheric and land surface processes, climate sensitivity to CO2 and other greenhouse gases, the hydrological cycle, the dynamics of deep convection, the role of the tropopause in atmospheric dynamics, development of mesoscale models, improvement in the parameterizations used in the wave-based models of weather and climate, remote sensing of the regional and global cycles of clouds and precipitation necessary for climate monitoring & verification of model outputs, establishment of source-sink relationships for atmospheric water vapour, the effects of the main modes of climate variability on the variability of the moisture regions, how the transport of moisture occurs in a changing climate, a more complete picture of solar forcing in climate models, etc., etc.

And these are only a few of the grand challenges of understanding the atmosphere, not to mention any of the more exhaustive list of grand challenges of understanding the oceans, which control the atmosphere. 

The next time someone naively suggests that the infant field of climate science is "settled" or able to claim 95% or 97% confidence in climate prognostications, show them this "non-exhaustive" list of deep challenges that must be "settled" first. Likewise, when anti-science alarmists claim skeptics are "climate science deniers," ask them specifically which of these "unsolved questions" in climate science you "deny".

Emphasis added:


Front. Earth Sci., 29 October 2013 | doi: 10.3389/feart.2013.00001

Grand challenges in atmospheric science

EPhysLab, Facultade de Ciencias, Universidade de Vigo, Ourense, Spain

As a subject of study, the atmospheric sciences encompass all the processes that occur in the atmosphere, together with its links with other systems, mainly the hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and outer space. As such it is an extensive discipline and the task of describing the main challenges is not an easy one, and entails a fair degree of overlap with some of the other grand challenges in the earth and environmental sciences. As a special overlapping could occur with climate sciences it is worth to remember that atmospheric processes differ from climate ones in the temporal scale, being the latter those occurring over long periods, typically higher than 30 years, but in any case long enough to produce meaningful averages. Atmospheric processes are central to configure the state of the climate but also to many of the forcings and feedbacks that determine the magnitude of climate change and its possible impacts. Additionally, there has been impressive progress of late in the atmospheric sciences in terms of the benefits provided to individuals and organizations. The flow of atmospheric “information” is of considerable importance in decisions related to health, agriculture, energy, power, and the environment. This “Grand Challenges” article focuses on the atmosphere, although the strong interaction with other parts of the earth and its environment, together with the societal implications involved, is a common theme in all the challenges described.

Over the next few years, progress in the atmospheric sciences is essential if understanding of the basic processes and their modeling is to improve; this will require genuine advances in observational, conceptual, and technological approaches. For this reason the following non-exhaustive list of 12 selected challenges includes those related to observations and data assimilation, those covered within the traditional disciplines (atmospheric physics and chemistry, atmospheric dynamics and weather forecasting), those concerned with the interactions between the atmosphere and its boundaries, and those related to the atmospheric component of climate studies.

Challenge 1: Data Assimilation

The challenges in terms of data assimilation for earth observation over the next years relate to technical and general thematic aspects, as well as to the ability to take advantage of new and exciting opportunities in earth observation systems. The benefits of addressing these challenges are likely to include improvements to reanalyses, improvements to weather forecasting, an improved observational system, and an improved foundation on which the elements of climate models can be built. Among the technical challenges, five areas are most significant: (1) the assimilation of coupled data to account for links between different elements of the earth's system; examples include the coupling of the atmosphere and the ocean, of the ocean and the cryosphere, and of the atmosphere and the land; (2) assimilation of ensemble data to account for natural variability and/or to represent errors in the earth system—here, the technical effort will focus on the design of realistic ensembles; (3) performing data assimilation at increased spatial resolutions, representing the earth system at finer scales (mesoscale and finer), including theoretical developments to account for changes in balance conditions; (4) better representation of errors (random and bias) in the observations and models used in data assimilation, including the representation of forecast errors, model errors and online bias correction; (5) extension and consolidation of the joint state estimation and the inverse modeling approach in order to study biogeochemical cycles (e.g., the carbon cycle). The overarching challenge here is the consolidation and integration of the community data assimilation efforts of the meteorological and space agencies, of research and operational activities, and from in situ and satellite observational platforms, including all continental and global collaborations, and the effective application of these efforts toward the development of new missions in earth observation.

Challenge 2: Small Scale Processes in the Atmosphere

Several challenges are apparent in terms of our fundamental understanding of small scale processes and related applications, many of which are in currently being actively debated and studied. First, increased computational power allows the more detailed simulation of fluid mechanics problems, thus, even stably stratified flows are now modeled by direct numerical simulation. At the same time, these advanced computational techniques also require a new generation of parameterization schemes for numerical weather prediction (NWP) and climate modeling. At high resolutions, for example, the complex dynamics that occur in urban areas cannot be neglected and specific NWP schemes to represent these are required. At smaller grid sizes the so-called gray zone of turbulence is approached in NWP, and the impact of this must be understood and quantified. There is some room for improvement in terms of the representation of clouds and of the diurnal cycle of deep convection, and the same also applies to the physical processes that govern the stable boundary layers and the diurnal cycle, and the intermittent nature of turbulence, especially under calm conditions. In addition, higher resolutions also require more advanced techniques to allow the interpretation of the observations made. In boundary-layer meteorology, the closure of the surface energy balance and the heat budget in field observations requires further attention. Finally, the data challenges facing meteorology will also increase, due in particular to the greater availability of both professional and crowd-sourced observations (Muller et al., 2013).

Challenge 3: Air Pollution Chemistry

The key components of a program to address the most important challenges for researchers in air pollution chemistry may be described under the following three headings: (1) Indoor Pollution and health: given the tendency for people to remain largely indoors for work, school, and leisure, it is important to study the impact of indoor pollution on human health as a result of indoor emissions and/or the infiltration of the external ambient air. In recent years the processes that govern indoor air quality have changed markedly as result of modifications to building regulations with the aim of better energy efficiency. There are still considerable unknowns in relation to the sources, compounds and processes that affect indoor air quality and its impact on human well being. (2) Dust and air quality: with continuous improvements in the characteristics of vehicle emissions, the effects of aerosol pollution in urban areas can now increasingly be traced to other sources of emissions, such as the transport of natural dust and the resuspension of road dust, mainly in southern European areas with drier climates in areas affected by the transport of dust from the deserts of North Africa. An understanding of these impacts and the application of mitigation measures (for road dust resuspension) are both areas of future research. (3) Biomass burning: with climate change and concerns about the impact and cost of fossil fuels, biomass combustion is now commonly used for domestic heating in Europe. In many urban areas, principally in winter, domestic biomass has been found to be an important source of air pollution by particulates. Ar present some emphasis is being placed on the evaluation of the impact of biomass burning in terms of urban air quality as well as in terms of the study of the emission characteristics of biomass burning equipment and installations, as well as on the impact of the composition of biomass burned particles on human health.

Challenge 4: Aerosol-Cloud Interactions

There is no doubt that aerosol particles are actively involved in cloud formation via the supply of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice nuclei (IN). It has been suggested that changes in aerosol concentrations will alter cloud lifetimes and precipitation efficiency, and hence affect the radiative forcing of the earth system. Great efforts have been devoted to this topic, resulting in rapid developments in terms of knowledge, methodologies, and techniques (e.g., Wang, 2013). Despite this progress, it is still difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions about the climatological effects of aerosols at regional and global scales. In contrast, aerosol-cloud interactions at molecular and microphysical scales have become more and more predictable and its modeling more deterministic. There appears to be a significant gap in our knowledge between the small-scale (molecular and microphysical) processes and the large-scale (regional/global) events in this area. We suggest that there remains a need to synthesize multi-scale results to identify clearly the problems involved and to improve the current set of tools and methodologies required to close the gap.

Challenge 5: Weather Prediction

Phenomena described by fluids are complex, however, the appearance of the laws of fluid motion is deceitfully simple, equations governing these laws are non-linear, what implies multiple (and hard to understand) types of feedback effects. The atmosphere and the temporal evolution of its state does not deliver from this problem. In any case one of the flagships of the body of research on atmospheric sciences over the last few decades has been the establishment of reliable forecasting in the 2–7-day range, in view of the enormous potential economic benefits; however, such techniques still suffer from problems derived from the collection and utilization of data, which are mostly collected over the oceans. The use of new data from satellites and ground-based remote sensing could help in this regard, as could the correct maintenance of traditional data sets such as the now some what outdated global rawinsonde network. Improvements in measurements of water vapour and land surface properties are also priorities. The physical challenges continue to be the same as they were when defined more than a decade ago (National Research Council, 1998), namely: a better understanding of the nature of the interaction between atmospheric and land surface processes, the hydrological cycle, the dynamics of deep convection, the role of the tropopause in atmospheric dynamics, a fresh impetus in the development of mesoscale models and an improvement in the parameterizations used in the wave-based models of weather and climate. An example of the importance of these improvements is orographic gravity wave drag, whose parameterization in weather and climate prediction models needs to be updated given the importance of some effects shown to be important in recent research. Among these is the impact of wind shear on both the surface drag and the wave momentum flux (and its dissipation), and the drag produced by trapped lee waves, whose energy propagates, and is dissipated, downstream of their source rather than upwards. The implications of these orographic gravity waves for clear-air-turbulence (CAT), a very serious aviation hazard, have not been satisfactorily quantified. Most CAT forecast methods use empirical predictors not explicitly linked to gravity waves, but it is well known that directional shear (which is ubiquitous in nature) leads to gravity wave breaking, which may be an important source of CAT. The trapping of gravity waves in the lee of mountains or hills leads to the formation of unsteady, turbulent, closed circulations known as rotors, which are also a serious aviation hazard. Our understanding of the conditions necessary for the onset of these flow structures is incomplete, and will no doubt benefit from recent advances in mountain wave theory.

Challenge 6: Remote Sensing for Meteorology and Climate

Ground-based and satellite remote sensing has provided major advances in our understanding of both the weather and the climate systems, as well as the changes in these (Yang et al., 2013), by allowing the quantification of the processes and spatio-temporal states of the atmosphere, land, and oceans. The intensive use of satellite imagery in meteorology, and spatial patterns of sea level rise, provide good examples of this. The duration of the time series concerned are usually too short to allow their use for capturing long term trends of many climate variables, so one major challenge is to extend the durations of these time series. Remote sensing of the regional and global cycles of clouds and precipitation is also necessary for climate monitoring and the verification of model outputs. There are two notable challenges in atmospheric physics; the first is to design innovative studies focusing on cloud microphysics and the relationship with the physics of lightning discharge, together with all aspects related to the observation and measurement of atmospheric electricity, and the second is to develop new passive radiometer and radar studies to help us to understand the structure of clouds and precipitation with special emphasis on tropical warm rain processes, mid-latitude light precipitation, snowfall, cloud liquid and ice water content, precipitable water and water vapour profiles. One hydrometeorological challenge is to extend and improve our observations and modeling of the atmospheric and continental parts of the water cycle in order to allow its closure (e.g., mountain areas, polar regions).

Challenge 7: The Atmospheric Branch of the Hydrological Cycle

Among the many challenges related to the hydrological cycle, those concerned with the atmospheric transport of moisture must receive special mention because of their existence entirely within the realm of the atmospheric sciences. Here we consider the most pressing of the challenges described in the recent review of Gimeno et al. (2012). The diagnosis of moisture sources has become a major research tool in the analysis of extreme events (e.g., floods, droughts), and can be thought of as a basic tool for regional and global climatic assessments; it is therefore, necessary to check the consistency of the different approaches used to establish source-sink relationships for atmospheric water vapour. Of key importance is the improvement of our understanding of how sources of moisture affect precipitation isotopes; this is important in and of itself but it is also crucial for correctly interpreting the most prominent paleoclimatic archives including ice cores and cave sediments. A further challenge is the better understanding of the role of the transport of moisture as the main factor responsible for meteorological extremes (heavy rainfall via structures such as low level jets and atmospheric rivers, or drought via the prolonged diminished supply of water vapor from moisture source regions). In order to assess whether the moisture source regions have remained stationary in past years, it is necessary to understand the effects of the main modes of climate variability on the variability of the moisture regions, and how the transport of moisture occurs in a changing climate. These unsolved questions constitute a substantial challenge for climate scientists.

Challenge 8: Interaction of Scales in Climate Simulation

The interaction among various spatial and temporal scales results in what we call climate. (Lorenz 1967) was among the first to emphasize the importance of scale interactions in explaining some of the key characteristics of climate observed in various regions. The non-linear character of most of these scale interactions has made them difficult to model, and as a consequence this still constitutes a source of uncertainty in climate simulations. Some empirical methods have been proposed to downscale the output from climate models but these are still somewhat controversial (Pielke and Wilby, 2011), particularly when used to interpret long term climate projections at a regional scale. The use of boundary conditions from an global model in which coupled interactions among all the major subsystems of the climate system (atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, and cryosphere) are predicted has a number of problems as the retention of large-scale climate errors in the global models, its great dependence on the lateral boundary conditions or the lack of two-way interaction between the regional and global models. The role of small scale atmospheric processes, usually in short lived phenomena, turns to be highly relevant particularly in tropical regions, where mesoscale convective systems interact with large scale circulations, and are of crucial importance in the hydrological cycle. For example, tropical cyclones may result in very wet or dry years in some regions depending on their activity and trajectory. This element is rather difficult to simulate in climate models, but its contribution to regional climate is beyond doubt and must be better understood in order to incorporate it into climate modeling systems.

Challenge 9: Extreme Events

In recent years the effects of different meteorological and climate phenomena have gained in importance in the eyes of the media and the population as a whole, partly as a consequence of extreme events such as the heatwaves in Europe (2003), Russia (2010), or USA (2011), or the deadly and extremely costly hurricanes that have hit densely populated areas in recent years, including New Orleans (Katrina, 2005) and the Metropolitan area of New York (Sandy, 2012). Likewise, prolonged periods of drought have caused severe problems for cereal producers, including in southern Australia (2002–2010), or the south-western USA, or via the increased likelihood of forest fires (Amazonia, 2005 and 2010). Some of these extreme events are closely related to the occurrence of vigorous circulation patterns such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), or to blocking and the displacement of storm tracks and the jet stream. By definition, extremes are rare in a time series, there is therefore, a pressing need, linked to the analysis of extreme events, to extend the climatic series as far as possible, and for this reason reconstructions of the past climate based on instrumental, historical and proxy data continue to be indispensable. The recent IPCC report (IPCC, 2013) shows that this growing interest in climatic extreme events must be addressed within the wider context of climate change, given that the expected changes in global, regional and even local climates are most likely to be felt through changes in the magnitude and frequency of extreme events.

Challenge 10: Solar Influence on Climate

It has been estimated that about 8% of recent global climate change can be attributed to solar variability, but this figure must be treated with caution given that a number of aspects of solar forcing and the mechanisms coupling solar variability to the earth's climate system remain poorly understood (Gray et al., 2010). With the increasing complexity and sophistication of atmospheric and climate models, and the need for increased accuracy of the predictions made, it is important to able to include a more complete picture of solar forcing in these models. Sources of solar forcing can be divided into radiatively and particle driven components. The scientific focus for the radiatively driven forcing is currently shifting from the global to the regional responses as driven by variations in solar spectral irradiance (SSI). A number of questions remain about the nature of the variations in SSI, how these should be implemented in models, and how they will change in future solar cycles if the sun moves away from its current grand maximum of solar activity toward a new maunder minimum. The particle driven component is further divided into energetic particle precipitation (EPP) and cosmic ray (CR) effects. The EPP effect initially influences the upper stratosphere and lower thermosphere. While the chemical effects of EPP on the atmosphere are now well understood, there is a pressing need to understand further dynamical effects, as well as the potential mechanisms and magnitudes in terms of the earth's climate. The potential influence of EPP on climate is an emerging research area, and is one that is assuming a greater importance now that climate models are extending to higher altitudes that are more directly influenced by EPP. EPP provides one of the key transport pathways from the lower thermosphere down to the stratosphere and beyond, down to the troposphere via stratosphere-troposphere coupling in the polar regions. The effect of EPP could also become more pronounced in the near future as radiative forcing becomes more influenced by a move to maunder minimum types of solar activity. The CR driven component is currently considered to be the least well understood of the sources of solar forcing, although dedicated ongoing international research efforts are being made to address this question. Resent results have suggested that although CRs may stimulate aerosol nucleation, in global terms these effects are not great, and questions remain on the physical mechanisms linking CRs and aerosol nucleation.

Challenge 11: Urban Weather and Climate

The urban heat island (UHI) is perhaps the best known effect of the presence of cities on the local microclimate; the air temperature in a city at night can be much higher (up to 10°C or more) than in the surrounding area. Urban Climate, an emerging branch of meteorology 20 years ago, is now a mature field of research. It covers a range of topics, from fundamental theoretical studies to more applied research, having as its main goal the application of climatic knowledge to the better design of cities around the world. Micrometeorology has always been a core area of interest in urban studies because of the scales involved. Urban climatology instrumentalists have pioneered the continuous development of instrumentation and process analysis ever since the 1970s. The processes leading to the formation of the UHI (mostly physical in nature due to the 3D shape and the materials that make up the urban fabric), emerged from these early studies. Today, a number of challenges remain in relation to the measurement of this rather complex urban boundary layer. New short-range teledetection instruments are being used to gain a specialist view of the physical processes involved. Such instrumental developments will inevitably continue. Urban climate was only tackled by atmospheric modellers when the atmospheric models reached a sufficiently high resolution (a few km) to be able to represent cities explicitly. The first models representing the exchanges of energy and water between urban surfaces and the atmosphere appeared in the early 2000s (see reviews inMasson, 2006 and Martilli, 2007), and are now being used more and more in numerical weather forecasting models. The first international intercomparisons of urban models (Grimmond et al., 2010,2011) discussed some obvious means of improvement, for example in the representation of urban vegetation. In addition, approximately 15 years later than atmospheric models, regional climate models now have spatial resolutions compatible with urban scales. This of course presents a new challenge in the proper representation of cities in climate models. Similarly, urban meteorology studies cannot be limited to physics or chemistry, but must take account of the behavior of the inhabitants. Although biometeorological studies already exist, especially in terms of levels of human comfort, the interactions between the meteorological and social worlds, both in terms of human comfort but also in terms of meteorologically dependant energy use, for example, still form one of the main challenges for urban meteorologists.

Challenge 12: Ozone Depletion and Recovery

Although stratospheric ozone concentration minima are still seen in many regions, signs of recovery are beginning to be perceived. In the Antarctic stratosphere the concentration of halocarbons peaked around the year 2000 and then began to diminish. Current projections suggest that complete recovery could occur around the year 2050. This means that one of the major challenges is to ensure the continued monitoring both of ozone and of ozone-depleting gases in order to guarantee the recovery. Improvements in the basic understanding of processes, and simulations thereof, are especially important in the context of a changing climate. Both directions must be simulated, i.e., how a changing climate will affect the ozone layer, and how the recovery of the ozone will affect weather and climate. The so-called climate-chemistry models (CCMs, Lamarque et al., 2013) appear to be of key importance in this case.

The foregoing list of challenges for the next few years in atmospheric sciences research relates only to a few of the most urgent unsolved questions and naturally remains incomplete. The challenges described herein must not be considered to be the likely principal research topics in Frontiers in Atmospheric Science; any interesting work linked to the umbrella of atmospheric science should find accommodation in the journal.