Tag Archives: climate change

The volcanos did it

Why did the glaciers below the equator retreat 17,700 years ago (17.7 ka)?  A series of volcanic eruptions spanning 192 years down there did it according to Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. vol. 114 pp. 10035 – 10040 ’17.  No one was driving SUVs then and mankind had barely invented farming in the old world.   Have we had an usual amount of volcanic activity in the past 100 to 1,000 years? Here’s the summary.

“Glacial-state greenhouse gas concentrations and Southern Hemisphere climate conditions persisted until ∼17.7 ka, when a nearly synchronous acceleration in deglaciation was recorded in paleoclimate proxies in large parts of the Southern Hemisphere, with many changes ascribed to a sudden poleward shift in the Southern Hemisphere westerlies and subsequent climate impacts.

We used high-resolution chemical measurements in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide, Byrd, and other ice cores to document a unique, ∼192-y series of halogen-rich volcanic eruptions exactly at the start of accelerated deglaciation, with tephra identifying the nearby Mount Takahe volcano as the source. Extensive fallout from these massive eruptions has been found >2,800 km from Mount Takahe. Sulfur isotope anomalies and marked decreases in ice core bromine consistent with increased surface UV radiation indicate that the eruptions led to stratospheric ozone depletion. Rather than a highly improbable coincidence, circulation and climate changes extending from the Antarctic Peninsula to the subtropics—similar to those associated with modern stratospheric ozone depletion over Antarctica—plausibly link the Mount Takahe eruptions to the onset of accelerated Southern Hemisphere deglaciation ∼17.7 ka.”

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Correctly taken to task by two readers and some breaking news

I should have amended the previous post to say I mistrust unverified models.  Here are two comments

#1 Andyextance

  • “Leaving aside the questions of the reliability of models in different subjects, and whether all of your six reasons truly relate to models, I have one core question: Without models, how can we have any idea about what the future might hold? Models may not always be right – but as long as they have some level of predictive skill they can often at least be a guide.”

    Absolutely correct — it’s all about prediction, not plausibility.

#2 Former Bell Labs denizen

“And yet you board a commercial airliner without hesitation, freely trusting your life to the models of aerodynamics, materials science, control system theory, electronics, etc. that were used in designing the aircraft. Similar comments apply to entering a modern skyscraper, or even pushing the brake pedal on your automobile.
Perhaps what you are really saying is that you don’t trust models until their correctness is demonstrated by experience; after that, you trust them. Hey, nothing to disagree with there.”
Correct again
Breaking news
This just in — too late for yesterday’s post — the climate models have overestimated the amount of warming to be expected this century — the source  is an article  in
Nature Geoscience (2017) doi:10.1038/ngeo2973 — behind a paywall — but here’s the abstract
In the early twenty-first century, satellite-derived tropospheric warming trends were generally smaller than trends estimated from a large multi-model ensemble. Because observations and coupled model simulations do not have the same phasing of natural internal variability, such decadal differences in simulated and observed warming rates invariably occur. Here we analyse global-mean tropospheric temperatures from satellites and climate model simulations to examine whether warming rate differences over the satellite era can be explained by internal climate variability alone. We find that in the last two decades of the twentieth century, differences between modelled and observed tropospheric temperature trends are broadly consistent with internal variability. Over most of the early twenty-first century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed; warming rate differences are generally outside the range of trends arising from internal variability. The probability that multi-decadal internal variability fully explains the asymmetry between the late twentieth and early twenty-first century results is low (between zero and about 9%). It is also unlikely that this asymmetry is due to the combined effects of internal variability and a model error in climate sensitivity. We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early twenty-first century is partly due to systematic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in the model simulations.
 
Unfortunately the abstract doesn’t quantify generally smaller.
 
Models whose predictions are falsified by data are not to be trusted.
 
Yet another reason Trump was correct to get the US out of the Paris accords— in addition to the reasons he used — no method of verification, no penalties for failure to reduce CO2 etc. etc.  The US would tie itself in economic knots trying to live up to it, while other countries would emit pious goals for reduction and do very little. 
In addition, \ I find it rather intriguing that the article was not published in Nature Climate Change   –,http://www.nature.com/nclimate/index.html — which would seem to be the appropriate place.  Perhaps it’s just too painful for them.

A bit of history

I’ve been reading Nature since I’ve been able to afford a subscription, e.g. since about 1972. To put their undoubted coming hysteria about Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement into perspective, consider the fact that they bought the arguments of the Club of Rome, hook line and sinker. The Wikipedia article is quite sanitized, but here’s a direct quote from the jacket flap of the club’s book “The Limits to Growth” which came out in 1972.

“Will this be the world that your grandchildren with thank you for? A world where industrial production has sunk to zero. Where population has suffered a catastrophic decline. Where the air, sea and land are polluted beyond redemption. Where civilization is a distant memory. This is the world that the computer forecasts. What is even more alarming, the collapse will not come gradually, but with awsome suddenness, with no way of stopping it”

Well, it’s 45 years later and their grandchildren have seen no such thing. Nature’s online available archives go back to 1975, but I’ve been unable to find a link to one of their articles. If anyone out there has found one, post a comment.

When we were down in New Haven, I picked up a book by a Yale Prof, Paul Sabin called “The Bet” concerning the intellectual conflict between Paul Ehrlich — he of the population bomb and Julian Simon. Ehrlich said we’d run out of just about everything shortly (presumably because of too many people), so economist Simon bet him that we wouldn’t. The intellectual war began in earnest in the 80’s and dragged on for a decade or so.

I recommend the book. In it you will find John Holdren, Obama’s ‘science’ advisor, also a devout malthusian, although with a degree in physics.

Perhaps Nature has it right this time, and that the models of warming which failed to predict the climate stasis of 17 years duration (the term pause gives away the game implying that temperature will continue to increase) are a reliable guide to the future.

Even if Nature is right, the Paris Agreement was terrible, no verification, no penalties for missing targets etc. etc. A massive expansion of governmental control and clamps on economic expansion, for minimal benefit.

So relax. Protest if you wish, it’s a cheap display of virtue which costs you nothing, even though you’re quite willing to fight global warming down to the last coal miner.

Yes it’s hot, but

A few years ago, before things calmed down, hurricanes were predicted to become more frequent and more severe. So although global warming fans predicted higher temperatures, they also predicted this. Here’s an example

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/study-projects-more-frequent-and-stronger-hurricanes-worldwide-1620
and another — http://time.com/3706888/hurricane-warning-study/

So far this year (and the major part of the hurricane season is about to begin) the Atlantic hurricane season is the quietest it’s ever been. There have only been 4 tropical storms this year and no hurricanes at all not even one. One of the 4 storms occurred in January, which is rather bizarre.

Scientific theories when faced with a falsified prediction are usually modified or abandoned.  Not so with global warming.  It’s just been rebranded as climate change.

There is a rather imperfect measure of the amount of power produced by the storms of the season, called Accumulated Cyclonic Energy (ACE). The average per year is an ACE of 110. This year (so far) it’s only 6.

ACE is calculated as the square of the wind speed every 6 hours, and is then scaled by a factor of 10,000 for usability. The ACE of a season is the sum of the ACE for each storm and takes into account the number, strength, and duration of all the tropical storms in the season. The caveat to using ACE as a measure of the activity of a season is that it does not take the physical size of the hurricane or tropical storm into account which is why it’s imperfect.

If you know any physics, ACE is velocity squared * time — which is not the dimension of energy (it’s acceleration). I wonder if satellite radar is good enough to give us ground windspeed over small areas, which could be summed over the hurricane area if the division was fine enough. This would allow us to tell big storms from smaller ones. Unfortunately, there would be no way to compare this new measure to ones in the past such as ACE.

The climate gods have a sardonic sense of humor

Things haven’t been going too well for Global Warming. First, there has been essentially no change in global mean temperature for 14 – 17 years (depending on which of 4 measures you use). So Global Warming was rebranded as Climate Change. Then, we’ve been told that climate change would lead to more and more ‘extreme weather events’ (translation hurricanes, tornadoes etc. etc.) So in one of the coolest New England summers within memory and with nearly half of the 6 month hurricane season gone, we have a very quiet, not to say comatose, hurricane season.

At the onset of the 2014 season NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predicted a 70% chance of a below average season. The numbers they expected were

8 – 13 Named storms (top winds over 39 mph — not very impressive)

3 – 6 Hurricanes (top winds over 74 mph)

1 – 2 Category 3 storms (sustained winds over 110 mph)

This was updated 7 August to a 70% probability of an even less exciting season

7 – 12 Named storms (top winds over 39 mph — not very impressive)

3 – 6 Hurricanes (top winds over 74 mph)

0 – 2 Category 3 storms (sustained winds over 110 mph)

So instead of extreme weather events, we have extremely boring (but pleasant) weather and just 2 named storms which turned into hurricanes. No category 3 events, and as of this writing, the Atlantic is extremely quiet. This has been blamed on dry air from Africa and (amazingly enough) unusually cool water temperatures in the Atlantic. Recall that it has been argued that the stability of global temperature over the past decade is due to heat going into the deep ocean where we can’t see it.

To be noted if you look at the graph in http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/atlantic-tropical-threat-possible-gulf-coast/32555368, which is of hurricane frequency vs. date, and try to mentally integrate the area under the curve in your head, that only about 20% of the hurricanes have occurred by this time. Peak frequency is 2 weeks from now (11 September) and the frequency of 20 August is half maximal.

Would anyone like to guess when (not if) this will be blamed on Global Warming/Climate Change? I’d be very surprised if it weren’t, and if it is, remember that a theory which can explain anything explains nothing.

The Empire Blinks

Physicists 100+ years ago were perturbed that the precession of the perihelion of Mercury as predicted by Newtonian mechanics was off by 38 arc seconds (roughly one part in 1/100,000). It took relativity to straighten things out.

None of the climate models mentioned in Science in 2009 [ Science vol. 326 pp. 28 – 29 ’09 (2 Oct ’09 ) ] predicted a pause in warming as long as we are currently experiencing (17 years and counting), even when they were run for a total of 700 years. The longest pause found was 15. They should be run again for many more years with the faster computers of today, to see if they produce the present pause. If not, the models, and their recommendations should be abandoned.

It is a perversion of language to call the absence of continued warming a pause, because this implies (without actually saying so) that the warming will continue after a bit, something for which there is no evidence. Global warming in fact has stopped for 17 years. What it does when there is some sort of change from the stasis, is anyone’s guess. Models which didn’t predict the stasis are of no help.

The mainstream scientific press is finally sitting up and taking notice. This week’s Nature (16 Jan ’14) has an editorial (pp. 261 – 262) and a news item (pp. 276 – 278) concerning the pause. It is claimed that the Pacific is taking up the heat, without heating up much. The heat capacity of water is USED to define the calorie — it is 1 calorie per gram of water — in contrast the heat capacity of methane with the same molecular mass is 1/116th of water. So there’s plenty of heat capacity in the ocean.

Adding a new parameter to explain unexpected results is good science when the system being explained is complex. Consider the additions to the central dogma of molecular biology — introns, exons, microRNAs, ceRNAs, reverse transcription etc. etc. Certainly global climate is equally complex. However, more than a little humility is in order.

This begs the point about whether the ocean as a heat sink was included in the model cited in 2009. If it was, the model had better predict the pause. If it wasn’t and if the latest explanation given for the pause is correct, the model should be thrown out along with its recommendations.

There Is Nothing So Tragic As A Beautiful Theory Destroyed By An Ugly Fact. — Sherlock Holmes

The fact that Nature came to deal with the pause is significant. They were quite defensive when ClimateGate came out — see https://luysii.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/the-empire-strikes-back-nature-on-climategate/

Count Floyd rides again

We were fortunate to live close enough to Canada in the ’80’s that we could watch SCTV each week, a 90 minute mockery of Canadian TV put on by Second City, Toronto contingent. They were an incredibly talented bunch — John Candy, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Howard Ramis, Martin Short. One character was Count Floyd (Joe Flaherty), the host of Monster Chiller Horror Theater. Dressed like a vampire from Transylvania, he would howl, look at the camera and say ‘scary kids, scary’. The films were invariably terrible and not scary, so the Count was reduced to saying things like “Vow, kids…vasn’t it SCARY vhen the vaitress put ketchup on those french fries?”

Which brings us to the predictions about the late hurricane season– https://luysii.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/where-are-the-hurricanes-2013-edition/ As late as early August, when very little had happened (see the previous link) NOAA was predicting an above average Hurricane season — http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130808_atlantichurricaneupdate.html. Scary kids, scary

Well, we know what happened. A better way to measure how severe a hurricane season actually was, is something called ACE (Accumulated Cyclonic Energy). It essentially multiplies the the square of the maximum wind speed of hurricanes and tropical storms by the time the storm stays strong. (Why the square? Answer at the end). It’s a much better indicator of seasonal strength than the number of named storms, which are gamed to make the predicted numbers. Several tropical storms this year lasted less than a day with wind speeds under 45 miles an hour.

The ACE this year was the 6th lowest (35) since 1951. The range is 17 to 250, and the median is in the 90s.

It’s been a bad year for the Climate Change crowd. Global mean temperature has now entered its 18th year without any increase. So what used to be called Global Warming has been rebranded as Climate Change.

Even worse, a recent event could have been scripted by the Onion: “Ship carrying Climate Scientists to Antarctica to Publicize Sea Ice loss due to Global Warming trapped in Sea Ice. Rescue by helicopter is Planned.” I’m not making this up.

Addendum 3 Jan ’14 — Now the Chinese Icebreaker to which the climate scientists were brought by helicopter is also stuck in the ice. Life imitates the Onion. Al Gore — call your office.

Addendum 4 Jan ’14 — Clearly the affair was partly (or entirely) a publicity stunt as reporters from the BBC and the Guardian were members of the expedition. Fox News apparently wasn’t invited.

Addendum 5 Jan ’14 — A picture is shown of a Green Party Senator elect in Australia doing calisthenics on board the Russian ship. Certainly, all scientific expeditions must have a politician of the Green persuasion on board — in order to be free of any sort of bias.

Addendum 7 Jan ’14 — The Times covered the event quite fairly in today’s Science section. They say the ship was ‘carrying scientists and adventure tourists’– no mention of the press or the Green senator from Australia. Skeptics are quoted fairly ‘they pointed out that a group whose journey was meant to highlight the effects of global warming was trapped by a substance that was supposed to be melting’ All this in the first paragraph, not buried later on.

Then lots of technical detail was added, in particular that comparing the two poles is really comparing apples and oranges — the North pole being open ocean surrounded by land while the South pole is land surrounded by open ocean. They do note that Antarctic ice is increasing in some areas and decreasing in others, but the net increase is 1%/decade. No figures are given for the % of Arctic ice loss.

Here’s a link from Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/18/arctic-sea-ice-shrinks-record-low. Look at the figure showing the extent of ice for each month and its standard deviation over a 30 year period. The maximum extent occurs in March and the standard deviation range is between 14.5 and 16 for the past few 30 years. The minimum extent occurs in September and ranges between 5 and 8 — 2012 was a record low. This year will come in (according to their chart) at the low end of the range (but within it). So it doesn’t look as though maximum Arctic sea ice extent has budged in the past 30 years. The September range has always been twice that of the the March range. Whether this is cherry picking the data I leave up to you.

The question could easily be settled, and hopefully someone has done it, simply by integrating the area under the curve for each year and plotting the results vs the year. A trend should be obvious.

Addendum 8 Jan ’14 — The leader of the expedition (Chris Turney) was given space to defend its purpose in the current Nature vol. 505 p. 133 ’14. The 19 comments so far are brutal. Have fun.

Closer to home, after seeing a movie the day after Christmas, we went to a bar for some food. Playing on the zillions of flat screens (they must be pretty cheap now) was something called the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsetta Bowl. I’m not making this up either.

The wind velocity is squared because kinetic energy is mass times velocity squared.

The short (but useful) life of Gabrielle

In an appalling use of the definition of Tropical Storm we now have Gabrielle. Recall that to be a Tropical Storm winds must exceed 38 mph. Many such storms were predicted, and like a high school wrestler taking diuretics and laxatives to make weight Tropical Storm Gabrielle was born today between 000 and 300 Greenwich Mean time. Winds have been no higher than 40 miles/hour, until its demise today between 1200 – 1500 GMT when its winds sunk to 35 mph and it became a Tropical Depression. It is about to cross over the island of Hispaniola (fortunately not its Haitian western end). It lasted about as long as Tropical Storm #6 Fernand.

At least they are not calling it a Tropical Cyclone, which they did in previous years, linguistically correct but semantically confusing it with the much worse Cyclones in the Pacific (which have a different definition).

It’s one way to make what increasingly appears to be a defective model work. For more details see — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/where-are-the-hurricanes-2013-edition/

Addendum 10 Sep ’13 — Gabrielle has strengthened in the past few hours, and is now a tropical storm again, with winds 2 mph over the minimum. I’m surprised they didn’t rename it so they could count it twice.

Where are the Hurricanes — 2013 Edition

When Sandy hit last year, the air was filled with dire predictions that this was just the start, and that global warming (which seems to have morphed into climate change, since although among the hottest on record, there has been no INcrease in global temperature in the past 16 years) was at it’s root.

So you can have it both ways — it’s hot, but it also isn’t getting warmer. [ Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. vol. 108 pp. 11790 – 11793 ’11 ] “Data for global surface temperature indicate little warming between 1998 and 2008. Furthermore, global surface temperature declined .2 C between 20005 and 2008.”

More to the point an article in Science 2 October ’09 pp. 28 – 29 (sorry I don’t have the volume number — it should be 326 if my calculations are right) noted this. The most interesting part was the response of the climate modelers, who reran their simulations 10 times for a total of 700 years, and found 17 episodes of stagnating temperature lasting a decade or more. The longest period of stagnation was 15 years, and I think we’re now at 16 years. The modelers would have had more credibility if they’d published this when their models first came out.

I’m not sure if they’ve run the models again to find periods of stasis longer than 15 years. They should.

Update 30 Aug ’13 — The hiatus in warming is quite real, and this week Nature published a paper online trying to figure out why this might be so. It has to do with La Nina. All very lovely, but this mechanism wasn’t contained in the model, so why should we trust it. Here’s the link — http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12534.html The editorial [ Nature vol. 500 p. 501 ’13 ] says “Although a prolonged hiatus in warming does not necessarily contradict prevailing theory, this one came as a surprise” — I’ll say.

Which brings us to the current hurricane season. There haven’t been any, and none are in sight. Historically mid August to mid September is the time of greatest likelihood of hurricanes. The graph of hurricane likelihood peaks sharply here– see this link http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/tropical-atlantic-hurricanes-gulf/16915197. On 25 August we’re nearly at the top of the curve.

What we’ve had so far are a bunch of very piddling tropical storms. They are defined has having winds of from 39 to 73 miles an hour — more than that is a Hurricane. We’ve had 5 complete tropical storms — here are their durations in days — 2, 1, 3, 3, 2, and their peak winds 55, 40, 55, 50, 35, 40. Less than impressive. Not even close to hurricane force.

Fernand (tropical storm #6 was born today 25 August 5PM), and I doubt it will last long, as it’s about to make landfall in Mexico. (Update 26 August 8:30 AM — Fernand we hardly knew ye. Downgraded to a tropical depression presently — maximum winds 35 mph, barely over 12 hours after being upgraded from same. Just like a teenaged wrestler taking diuretics and dieting to make weight, the people deciding what is and what isn’t a tropical storm, will count Fernand as a tropical storm so their predictions will work out just the way they want.)

So we’ve had predictions of more frequent and more violent hurricanes, and of continued rises in global temperature — neither of which have happened (this year for hurricanes and the past 15 – 16 years for global temperature).

Let’s assume that we have no hurricanes at all this year, and a few more of the piddly tropical storms we’ve seen so far. They fit the definition, but are unimpressive. The average northeaster on the Jersey coast is worse. Also, if anyone knows, how long does the wind have to be above 38 miles an hour for something to be called a tropical storm? I can’t seem to find this anywhere.

A variety of responses are possible. The most scientific would be to re-evaluate the models, or run them for longer periods, to see just how likely such behavior actually is (e.g. could the models even predict it).

The absolute worst would be to explain the absence of the hurricanes by global warming. This would make global warming what Karl Popper called an unfalsifiable theory, something inherently not scientific. A theory that can explain everything, explains nothing. Ditto for a theory that makes an incorrect prediction, doubles back and predicts the opposite.

As Neils Bohr said “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

Where are the hurricanes?

For the past few years, every time there was a severe storm, tornado, or a hurricane the global warming crowd would inform us that this was to be expected from global warming and that it would only get worse as things heated up.   The term climate change came into use, because, up until this year there had been no significant change in earth’s temperature for a decade, and some sea surface temperatures were actually cooler.

Well, he who lives by the model, dies by it.  This year we finally have a very hot year, so the hurricane season should have been horrendous.

There has been 1 hurricane, and it is now 14 August, smack in the middle of the season. Even the few storms we’ve had have been puny.  Here they are

Alberto — A tropical storm which formed off the coast of S. Carolina, and held even this weak category for a mere 54 hours from 19 – 21 May

Beryl — A tropical storm – again off the Carolinas, lasting all of 39 hours

Chris — Another tropical storm — but hardly tropical, as if formed in the ocean North of Maine, and lasting 2 days

Debby — Tropical storm  lasting 3 days — at least it was what a normal person would call tropical, occurring in the Gulf of Mexico

Ernesto — Tropical storm — lasted from 1 to 7 August — I don’t think it ever made it to a hurricane.  Jaffar (see comments) said it did become a hurricane just before landfall — thanks Jaffar

Lastly

Florence — Tropical storm — lasted 2 days, mostly near Africa, never got halfway across the Atlantic

Pretty small beer.

As of 14 August  — they’re watching something about 1500 miles East of Florida, which the predictions show turning around and heading toward Spain.

So the global warming model is 50% right this year — hardly confidence inspiring.

Tropical Depressions have maximum winds under 39 miles/per/hour

Topical Storms have winds between 39 and 73,

Category 1 Hurricanes have winds between 74 and 95 mph