Category Archives: Science & Geopolitics

Discussions of global warming, water shortages, solar cycles, and other natural forces that shape our world.

Will a return of rising temperatures validate the IPCC’s climate models?

Summary: The pause in temperatures since roughly 2000 has become the hot topic in both climate science and climate politics. While scientists study its causes and estimate its duration, activists on both sides use it to work their tribes. On the Left they deny its existence, ignoring or misrepresenting the many papers about it. On the Right they use the pause to discredit climate models and even climate science. In this long and somewhat technical post an eminent climate scientist walks us though the debate.  (1st of 2 posts today.)

Will a return of rising temperatures validate the climate models?

Donald C. Morton, posted at Climate Etc, 15 December 2014

Reposted under their Creative Commons License

World of Equations

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Time Scales
  3. Natural Versus Anthropogenic Contributions
  4. Parameterization in Place of Physics
  5. Uncertainty in the Climate Sensitivity
  6. Applying Statistics to Biased Samples
  7. Nonlinearity and Chaos in Climate
  8. The Validation of Climate Models
  9. What Should We Do Now?
  10. About the Author
  11. For More Information

(1)  Introduction

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The coincidence of the current plateau in global surface temperatures with the continuing rise in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has raised many questions about the climate models and their forecasts of serious anthropogenic global warming.

This article presents multiple reasons why any future increase in temperature should not be regarded as a vindication of the current models and their predictions. Indefinite time scales, natural contributions, many adjustable parameters, uncertain response to CO2, averaging of model outputs, non linearity, chaos and the absence of successful predictions are all reasons to continue to challenge the present models. This essay concludes with some suggestions for useful immediate actions during this time of uncertainty.

What if the global climate began to warm again? Would all the criticisms of the climate models be nullified and the dire predictions based on them be confirmed? No one knows when the present plateau in the mean surface air temperature will end nor whether the change will be warmer or cooler. This essay will argue that the climate models and their predictions should not be trusted regardless of the direction of future temperatures.

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2014 will be the hottest year on record! Except for the details, which ruin that narrative.

Summary: Let’s look at the most recent hot story about climate change. It shows why the public knows so little about it, despite the intense coverage — and why so many are suspicious about what they’re told. Activists and journalists often prefer the simple politically useful narrative to the messy reality.  This is the second of today’s post, a follow-up to this morning’s How much did the world warm in November? How fast is it warming? See the numbers.

The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information — in the sense of raw data — is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.

— Sir Arthur C Clarke, interview with Nalaka Gunawardene, posted at OneWorld, 5 December 2003

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We start with the science, a press release from the UK Met Office, 3 December 2014 (the WMO put out a similar notice that day) — Excerpt:

The global mean temperature for January to October based on the  HadCRUT4 dataset (compiled by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit) is 0.57 °C (+/- 0.1) above the long-term (1961-1990) average. This is consistent with the statement from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today.

With two months of data still to add, the full-year figure could change but presently 2014 is just ahead of the current record of 0.56°C set in 2010 in the global series which dates back to 1850. The final value for this year will be very close to the central estimate of 0.57°C from the Met Office global temperature forecast for 2014, which was issued late last year.

Colin Morice, a climate monitoring scientist at the Met Office, said: “Record or near-record years are interesting, but the ranking of individual years should be treated with some caution because the uncertainties in the data are larger than the differences between the top ranked years. We can say this year will add to the set of near-record temperatures we have seen over the last decade.”

Note this looks at only one of the global temperature datasets; although the other surface temperature datasets agree (they rely on overlapping sources) neither of the 2 satellite datasets shows a record year.

For an example of accurate reporting on this see the Financial Times (whose demanding audience doesn’t tolerate lies and cant): “This year on course to be warmest on record“, 3 December 2014. They give accurate and precise news, put in context.

  1. The news (burying the lede, it’s at the end):”… The WMO said the average global land and sea surface temperature between January and October was about 0.57C higher than the average recorded between 1961 and 1990. It was also 0.09C above the average for the past 10 years.”
  2. Context:  “Mr Stott said it was “remarkable” to see a record year of heat occur in the absence of an El Niño, a warming water pattern in the eastern Pacific that has boosted temperatures in the recent past. But he added it was still too early to know whether 2014 signalled an end to the so-called pause in the rate of global warming during the past decade.”
  3. Political background (news seldom just happens): “The news came as thousands of delegates to this year’s UN climate negotiations in Lima arrived for the last big round of talks before a global climate-change deal is due to be sealed in Paris at the end of next year.”

Most of the major media follow the same format, but omit the FT’s scientific and political context (e.g., on CNN and The Guardian). They prefer instead to hype the warming.

Liberals tend to get their news from activists like Joe Romm at ThinkProgress. He goes straight for innumeracy, omitting all numbers and provides word salad instead. He quotes a UN official (WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud) who denies the pause — after several years during which climate scientists study its causes and forecast its duration. And he ignored Dr. Morice’s warning.

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How much did the world warm in November? How fast is it warming? See the numbers.

Summary: How warm was the world in November? How fast is it warming? See the numbers. They might surprise you.

The world has been warming for 2 centuries. Seldom mentioned is how much it has warmed, which allows alarmists to more easily arouse fear (e.g., see Joe Romm’s latest; difficult to read graphs but no numbers). For the answer we turn to the NASA-funded global temperature data from satellites.  This post shows the numbers: the warming since 1979 is small (so far; the future might be quite different). The truth is out there for people willing to see it. Only with it can we prepare for our future.

Click to enlarge the graphs. This is the first of two posts today.

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
— conclusion of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I

Global Warming

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Contents

  1. What do satellites tell us about global warming?
  2. Was this the hottest November?
  3. The long-term history of warming
  4. Who produces this satellite data & analysis?
  5. For More Information

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(1) What do satellites tell us about global warming?

Satellites provide the most comprehensive and reliable record of the atmosphere’s warming since 1979.

The November 2014 Global Temperature Report
by the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville
(Blue is cold; red warm}. Click to enlarge.

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U AL-Huntsville November 2014 temperature map

Click to enlarge. From the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville

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See the equivalent graph from the surface temperature stations of the Climate Anomaly Monitoring System (CAMS) of the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) at the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP).

Key points from the UAH report (prepared under contract for NASA), which show a world that has warmed since 1979, but only slightly (few alarmists know this; even fewer admit it):

  1. The global composite temperature in November was +0.33°C (0.60°F) above the average for November during 1981-2010.
  2. Global climate trend of temperature starting in 16 November 1978: +0.14°C  (0.3°F) per decade.
  3. Anomalies are computed per the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommended method, comparing the current temperatures vs. a 30 year base period ending with the latest decade.

That warming has not, however, been uniform around the globe.

  1. The fastest warming has been over the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic portions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Those areas have warmed at the rate of 0.49°C per decade, or more than 1.76°C (about 3.17°F) in 36 years.
  2. The oceans surrounding the Antarctic are cooling at the rate of 0.02°C per decade, or 0.07°C since December 1978.
  3. The Northern Hemisphere is warming more than twice as fast as the Southern Hemisphere (0.19°C per decade vs. 0.09°C per decade).
  4. The contiguous 48 U.S. states have an average warming rate of 0.22°C (almost 0.40°F) per decade during the past 36 years. That means the average atmospheric temperature over the lower 48 has warmed by 0.79°C or about 1.43°F during that time.

(2) Was this the hottest November?

Before we look at the numbers, Colin Morice (climate monitoring scientist at the UK Met Office) warns us that…

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Nine years after Katrina, climate activists have earned their reward. We might pay dearly for it

Summary: We rely on warnings about threats from our watchmen, experts or amateurs, who see danger before we can. Our ability to respond depends on the clarity of their warnings. Sometimes we don’t listen; sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes we suffer because they minimize the danger or exaggerate the time until it arrives. Climate activists have practiced another form of alarm: exaggerating the certainty of the danger and minimizing the time until it hits. That works well, unless they’re wrong about both the timing and scale. Now all we can do is hope that the threat is small and distant, since we’re doing little to prepare.

Extreme Weather

Troubles lies ahead

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“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson, perhaps apocryphal

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Art Horn (meteorologist) set the background for this sad story in his 9 October 2010 post:

Four hurricanes made landfall on the United States during the 2004 season. All of them hit Florida. … Then there was 2005. The hurricane season of 2005 was one for the record books. The long term average number of named tropical storms in the Atlantic basin is 11. In 2005 there were an amazing 27. The long term average number of hurricanes is 6. In 2005 there were a record 15. Actually the hurricane seasons of 1933 and 1887 were probably very similar in the number of tropical storms and hurricanes. There were no satellites to see all the storms back … This was also the year of hurricane Katrina. …

Making the most of this moment was Al Gore, as in this speech at Sierra Club’s National Environmental Convention and Expo in San Francisco on 9 September 2005. Excerpt:

Winston Churchill, when the storm was gathering on continental Europe, provided warnings of what was at stake. And he said this about the government then in power in England — which wasn’t sure that the threat was real — he said, “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.” He continued, “The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis. It is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences.

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Everything you wanted to know about California’s drought (except when it will end)

Summary: For decades scientists warned us that the American southwest had experienced long brutal droughts. We did nothing to prepare. Now we reap the consequences, as California experiences the worst droughts of the past century. With no end in sight, we must mobilize to mitigate the damage. Which might prove severe. This can become a blessing, if we learn from it. While we bicker about the climate change in 2100, which depends on innumerable and unknowable factors (how much coal will we burn?), scientists warn us that we’re unprepared for the inevitable occurrence of past extreme weather.  Katrina and Sandy were normal, as is this drought. More exciting weather is coming.  This is the second of two posts today.

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
— Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earth; bio here), a comment posted at Climate Etc

Preparing for Extreme Weather

From the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center

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Contents

  1. The California drought: it’s bad
  2. Climate Science Research gives us worse news
  3. Articles about this and past California droughts
  4. Useful Sources of Information
  5. For More Information
  6. The Hydro-Illogical Cycle

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(1)  The California drought: it’s bad

It’s bad, with no end in sight.

  1. California Facing Worst Drought on Record“, NOAA, 20 January 2014
  2. California breaks drought record as 58% of state hits driest level“, Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2014
  3. Groundwater: California’s big unknown“, NOAA, 27 August 2014 — We’re in trouble if that starts to run out.

How bad is it? Let’s look at the past year (the California “water year” runs from October to September). The average is 23″; 1924 was the driest year at 9″; the last 12 months was 12″. Six of past 8 years were dry. The new “water year” started in October a little dry: 0.7″ vs average of 1.2″. But not as bad as 1917 – 1934: a 17 year-long period with only one year of ab0ve-average rainfall (including the record low of 1924)! Click all images to expand.
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California: Annual precipitation

From the California Climate Tracker website. Click to expand.

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Do we all share the pain? Not equally. California is like that.

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“Disasters & Climate Change”, an important new book illuminating the debate

Summary:  Here’s a recommendation about a brief, powerful, and timely book about climate change (one of the great public policy issues of our time).

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change

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Review of

The Rightful Place of Science:
Disasters & Climate Change

by Roger Pielke Jr.

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Let’s cut to the chase. There are two important things to know about this book. First, this is a valuable contribution to the public debate about climate change, a brief, clearly written, thoroughly documented description of state of the knowledge about one aspect of climate change: the current trends in disasters.  It’s essential reading for any layperson interested in this vital issue, no matter what your political tribe. It’s especially valuable as assertions that we’re suffering the effects of extreme climate have become frequent page-one features in the news media. Prof Pielke shows the research and benchmarks the research vs the most recent conclusions of the IPCC.

His conclusion about the science (spoiler):

This short volume has sought to answer a straight-forward question: Have disasters become more costly because of human-caused climate change? Only one answer to this question is strongly supported by the available data, the broad scientific literature, and the assessments of the IPCC:

“No. There is exceedingly little evidence to support claims that disasters have become more costly because of human-caused climate change.”

Of course, a lack of evidence does not prevent people from believing in God, aliens, or for that matter, a small celestial teapot orbiting the Sun in the asteroid belt. People may indeed have very good reasons for believing in any of these things for which data and observational evidence are unsupportive, unavailable, or inconclusive. The issue of disasters and climate change will be no different. And of course, science evolves. There may be future research which overturns present understandings. If and when that happens, our assessment of what the science says should change accordingly.

Thus, the conclusions presented here should be interpreted as an indication of the current state of scientific understandings, and not a prediction of what a future scientific assessment might say in the years to come. Nonetheless, one point should be abundantly clear. The evidence available today points to a clear answer to the central question at the focus of this short volume: Human-caused climate change has not led to a detectable increase in the costs of disasters.

But the climate is changing. It would be a mistake to conclude that because the evidence shows that human-caused climate change has not led to demonstrable in-creases in the costs of disasters that (a) climate change is not occurring, or (b) we need not worry about it.

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Let’s prepare for past climate instead of bickering about predictions of climate change

Summary: Another post about our FAILure to learn from experience. During the past decade scientists have given scores or hundreds of warnings that we’re not prepared for the re-occurrence of past natural events.  While we bicker about the possibility of future climate change, we remains poorly prepared for normal extreme events. Articles on the FM website have discussed solar storms, mega-tsunamis, and massive volcanoes. Today we look at the latest warming: about storms. The past has brought storms far larger than anything we’ve seen in the modern era. Let’s prepare for their return. Katrina and Sandy were warnings we have FAILed to head.

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
— Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earth; bio here), a comment posted at Climate Etc

Superstorm

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Heightened hurricane surge risk in northwest Florida revealed from climatological-hydrodynamic modeling and paleorecord reconstruction

Ning Lin et al
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
27 July 2014

Excerpt (citations omited; red emphasis added)
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Storm surges and associated waves are responsible for much of the tropical cyclone (TC)-related deaths and
damage. Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killed more than 6000 people
in that country alone, largely due to its storm surge. Storm surge was also a major cause of the over 138,000
fatalities during Cyclone Nargis (2008), the worst natural disaster in Myanmar’s history.

Recent U.S. TC surge events include Hurricane Katrina of 2005 in the Gulf of Mexico, which caused over 1800
fatalities and more than $80 billion in damage, and Hurricane Sandy of 2012 on the Northeastern Seaboard, which caused over 70 fatalities and more than $65 billion in damage. As the most fatal and destructive aspect of TCs, storm surges exact a heavy toll on society. Moreover, coastal populations and sea levels are both rising — a combination that ensures that coastal communities will become increasingly vulnerable to storm surges, which themselves may also intensify under the changing climate. Mitigation of future TC surge disasters requires us to understand the risk — the scale and probability of TC inundation events.

The main obstacle to assessing the risk is the shortness of the historical/instrumental TC record (over a few decades up to a couple hundred years). As a way to extend the hurricane/typhoon records to prehistory, paleohurricane research has emerged as a promising tool for reconstructing long-term TC activity. Identifying and dating TC-related deposits in coastal environments makes it possible to estimate the frequencies of intense TCs at a site and determine how they may have evolved over thousands of years. Such records also provide unprecedented access to natural evidence on hurricane-climate relationships.

… We demonstrate this approach of combining climatological-hydrodynamic modeling and historical and prehistorical records to study surge risk by applying it to the Apalachee Bay area on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Storms, then and now

… the storm model was constructed using observations from only the last two decades of the twentieth century (1981–2000), which may have been unusually favorable for North Atlantic hurricane activity compared to the previous decade.

… The preservation of these event beds with significantly more coarse material than any of the recent beds suggests more intense hurricanes producing higher levels of surge than those documented historically. …

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