Saturday, September 06, 2008

Environment Minister for Northern Ireland calls global warming fears 'hysterical psuedo-religion'

The Environment Minister Sammy Wilson has angered green campaigners by describing their view on climate change as a "hysterical psuedo-religion". In an article in the News Letter, Mr Wilson said he believed it occurred naturally and was not man-made. "Resources should be used to adapt to the consequences of climate change, rather than King Canute-style vainly trying to stop it," said the minister. Peter Doran of the Green Party said it was a "deeply irresponsible message."

Mr Wilson said he refused to "blindly accept" the need to make significant changes to the economy to stop climate change. "The tactic used by the "green gang" is to label anyone who dares disagree with their view of climate change as some kind of nutcase who denies scientific fact," he said. The minister said he accepted climate change can occur, but does not believe the cause has been identified. "Reasoned debate must replace the scaremongering of the green climate alarmists."

John Woods of Friends of the Earth said Mr Wilson was "like a cigarette salesman denying that smoking causes cancer". "Ironically, if we listen to him Northern Ireland will suffer economically as we are left behind by smarter regions who are embracing the low carbon economy of the future."

It is the latest clash between Mr Wilson and green groups since his appointment as environment minister in June.


Landsea reponds to new hurricane study

Chris Landsea [] is Science and Operations Officer at NOAA/NWS/National Hurricane Center 11691 S.W. 17th Street Miami, Florida. The comments below are his own and are not made on behalf of NOAA

Below are some comments I've sent to various reporters that have asked me my opinion about their study: I have read through the new paper (and the Supplementary Information) by Elsner et al. being published today in Nature. As is usual for a study led by Elsner, the statistical methodology is excellent. However, because of concerns with the data being utilized, I do not agree with the conclusion in the paper that "clearly show that the strongest tropical cyclones are getting stronger" around the world.

First off, I do not disagree with the finding that there has been a sizable increase in intensity for hurricanes in the Atlantic since the early 1980s. This is reconfirming work going back to conclusions that Goldenberg et al. initially showed in Science in 2001. My interpretation is that the Atlantic basin shows quasi-cyclic variations and that the current busy era (1995 onward) is quite similar to that which occurred from the late 1920s to the late 1960s (and the 1870s to the early 1900s). This current paper cannot address this cyclic variability for the Atlantic, as it starts with data in 1981.

Nor do I disagree with the findings that for the Northeast Pacific, the Northwest Pacific and the South Pacific there is either no change in intensity or a very minor, not statistically significant increase for up to 95% of all the tropical cyclones as is shown in the paper.

Where I believe that the study may not be reliable is in two key aspects: the treatment of the Indian Ocean tropical cyclone data and in the use of the data for the most extreme winds. Readers of this paper and the earlier groundbreaking one by Kossin et al. in Geophysical Research Letters in 2007 would note a huge difference in the South Indian and North Indian tropical cyclone intensity trends. In Kossin et al.'s earlier paper, the Indian Ocean basins had no trend in the number of extremely intense tropical cyclones, while in the current paper the Indian Ocean basins show a dramatic trend in intensities for the strongest third of the storms.

Why the big change between the two papers? It is mentioned in the Supplementary Information that a correction was applied to the infrared cloud top temperatures measured for the Indian Ocean tropical cyclones because of the very large change in the satellite view angle that occurred in 1997 (with the launch of Meteosat-7 satellite). This alteration the authors introduced would make for a more realistic (warmer) cloud top temperature for pre-1997 tropical cyclones.

However, while cloud top temperature is the most important factor for the average tropical cyclone, being able to accurately measure the eye temperature is crucial in correctly ascertaining the intensity of strong tropical cyclones. Because of the very oblique look-angle in pre-1997, one would not be able to see the warm eyes (and thus correctly identify the strongest cyclones). Correcting only for the cloud top temperatures but not taking into account unobserved warm eyes might well be fine for the average tropical cyclone, but it is not for the strongest storms. These big trends in the Indian Ocean tropical cyclone intensities may not be real.

The second key aspect is whether this dataset is appropriate for examining trends in the most intense tropical cyclones. Given the 8km resolution of the infrared satellite measurements, it is often the case that extremely intense tropical cyclones would have an eye that would barely - if at all - be resolved.

Moreover, the second author had stated previously that there is "a caveat to our analyses that limits its usefulness in the discussion [of trends in extreme tropical cyclones]. This regression-toward-the-mean aspect makes it less suitable for capturing the most extreme cases (Cat 5 intensities)." It is curious that the second author would previously issue caution in using this dataset for examining extreme tropical cyclone intensity trends and yet now in the current paper that is exactly what the authors are doing with the dataset and that is the focus of the paper: how have the extremely strong tropical cyclones changed? I would probably agree with what the second author said a few months ago, that this dataset is not very suitable for such analyses because of both the resolution and the regression methodology.

Lastly, just a comment about how the authors conclude that the new findings are "consistent with the theory". It's not. The latest numerical modeling and theoretical studies suggest a rather tiny 1-2% stronger tropical cyclones per degree C warming of the oceans (see, for example, Knutson et al. 2008 in Nature Geosciences or Emanuel et al. 2008 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society). Instead here they find a huge increase of 5-12% stronger per degree C. This is not consistent at all, as Elsner et al. are getting a much bigger sensitivity than the extremely small increase suggested by all of the modeling and theoretical studies.

So overall, the paper has some elegantly calculated statistics, but these are generated on data that are not - in my opinion - reliable for examining how the strongest tropical cyclones have changed around the world.


Pielke Sr. rips AP's Borenstein for 'misleading the public' on hurricane/warming?

There was a news release by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, entitled "Global warming's toasty water connection to Gustav." Among the statements in the text are
"Global warming has probably made Hurricane Gustav a bit stronger and wetter, some top scientists said Sunday, but the specific connection between climate change and stronger hurricanes remains an issue of debate."

"Measurements of the energy pumped into the air from the warm waters - essentially fuel for hurricanes - has increased dramatically since the mid 1990s, mostly in the strongest of hurricanes, according to a soon-to-be published paper in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems by Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo."

"Warmer water makes the surface air warmer, which means it could contain more moisture. That means more hot moist air rises up the hurricane, serving as both fuel for the storm and extra rainfall coming back down, said Peter Webster, professor of atmospheric sciences at Georgia Tech."

Both the article and the statements by the scientists, however, mislead the public into thinking there is a clear relationship between global warming and Atlantic hurricane activity. This is a gross oversimplification of hurricane dynamics. Hurricanes respond to their immediate environment, not a global average increase in heat! The primary requirements for hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean Basin can be summarized as follows:

1. A preexisting source of circulation (more precisely a source of horizontal vorticity; examples of vorticity in the North American region, including part of the tropics and subtropical Atlantic can be viewed at These preexisting circulations can occur, for example, from mesoscale convective systems that exit the west coast of Africa (with origins in the Ethiopian Highlands) which can develop into the so-called Cape Verde hurricanes. Circulations can also occur associated with the southern end of cold fronts as they enter the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean.

2. A moist tropospheric atmosphere in which the circulation is embedded, which provides a favorable environment for sustained deep cumulonimbus clouds (the moist environment for deep cumulus convection in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and tropical Atlantic can be viewed at A deep moist layer provides a favorable environment for prolonged deep cumulus convection to coexist with the circulation.

3. Weak changes of the large scale horizontal wind speed with altitude (i.e. low vertical wind shear). The upper tropospheric winds, which are an appropriate measure of vertical wind shear, can be viewed at Low vertical wind shear permits the accumulation of heat from mesoscale clusters of deep cumulus so that pressures fall in the center of the circulation, thereby favoring further deep cumulus convection.

4. Warm ocean temperatures at or above about 26C (79F) in the upper tens of meters or more (the sea surface temperatures in the in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and tropical Atlantic can be viewed at ). The warm ocean provides heat and moisture fluxes into the deep cumulus convection, which is the fuel for the hurricane. The warm ocean also provides the moisture to sustain a moist troposphere. The temperatures in the Atlantic Basin are above average at present (i.e. see, although elsewhere in a number of regions of the tropics, the sea surface temperatures are below average (e.g. see

What this short summary tells us is that hurricanes develop and move in response to regional weather features, not a global average warming!

Moreover, as has been discussed on Climate Science frequently, humans are altering circulation in many ways beyond that associated with global average heat changes (e.g. see). Indeed, in one study that focused on the tropics and subtropics (see), we found from observations of the spatial distribution of human-caused aerosols in the atmosphere in the lower latitudes, that the aerosol effect on atmospheric circulations, as a result of their alteration in the heating of regions of the atmosphere, is 60 times greater than due to the heating effect of the human addition of well-mixed greenhouse gases!

The focusing on global warming as the reason for any hurricane (or making it more likely to occur or become more intense) ignores that natural variations are not only more important than indicated by the AP news story, but also that the human influence involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited global warming [which, of course, has not occurred since at least mid-2004!].

The bottom line conclusion is that the claim of a direct linkage between a global average metric (i.e. global warming) and hurricanes fails to accurately communicate that the hurricanes develop and respond to regional weather patterns. If there are to be skillful predictions of how natural and human caused climate variability and change affect hurricanes, it must have a regional focus.

More here

'An Inconvenient Truth' exaggerated sea level rise

More modelling in lieu of data but maybe it's better modelling. The work explores the physical limits on glacial melting and finds that a sea-level rise of even .8 of a meter (31.5 inches) by 2100 requires an acceleration of existing processes. See abstract below

Al Gore's Oscar-winning environmental documentary exaggerated the likely effects of global warming on sea levels, a new study shows. The film, An Inconvenient Truth, suggested that the sea would rise up to 20ft "in the near future" as the ice in Greenland or Western Antarctica melts. Other documentaries have picture Britain deluged with water, showing the House of Commons submerged.

However, while some mainstream predictions project sea levels 2 to 4 meters higher by 2100, a new study published today in Science concludes that a rise in sea level between 0.8 and 2 meters is much more likely.

While scientists agree that sea levels rose by six inches over the course of the 20th century, estimates of future rises remain hazy, mostly because there are many uncertainties, from the lack of data on what ice sheets did in the past to predict how they will react to warming, insufficient long-term satellite data to unpick the effects of natural climate change from that caused by man and a spottiness in the degree to which places such as Antarctica have warmed.

Prof Tad Pfeffer at University of Colorado in Boulder, Dr Joel Harper at University of Montana and Dr Shad O'Neel at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, reached these conclusions after studying the ice and water being discharged from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. "We simply don't understand the physics of ice dynamics well enough to make accurate model predictions," says Dr Harper. "There are just too many uncertainties. So what we did is flip the problem on its head."

Unlike most past studies that try to add up the individual sources of ice and water discharge from the glaciers into the sea, their experiment calculated how much ice and water lost from Greenland and Antarctica that it would take for the world's seas to raise two meters. Then they calculated how fast contributing glaciers would need to move in order to dump that much ice into the sea. Their findings show that predictions of a two meter rise in sea level by 2100 would require significantly faster ice velocities from Greenland and Antarctica than has ever been reported before.

"We found you would need to have phenomenal calving, (calving is what happens when ice sheets meet the ocean and break apart to form icebergs)" said Dr Harper, who has lived and worked on the Greenland ice cap the past two summers, studying the increased melting there.

So if the glaciers continue to break up and melt like they are right now for 100 years, a two meter rise in sea level by 2100 would not be possible. For the Greenland ice sheet to do this, the glaciers moving into the island's calving fjords would have to increase their speed to 28.4 miles per year and sustain that speed until the end of the century.

For that reason, Prof Pfeffer and his colleagues argue that current projections of sea level rise should be updated to include more realistic rates of glacier break-up and melting in Greenland and Antarctica. They argue that their projection of as little as 0.8 meter rise in sea level by 2100 is much more realistic.

While the inflated rates often quoted by environmentalists are not completely out of the question, the authors argue that they should not be adopted as a central working hypothesis.

However, a rise of just a metre or more would wipe out the Norfolk Broads and the Wash, boosting the risk of devastating storm surges. And the new estimate does exceed that of thee latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report projects between 18 to 60 centimetres (7.2 to 24 inches) of sea level rise by 2100.

Dr David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey, commented: "while lower than a few of the wilder projections made by a fringe of activists, a rise of 0.8 to 2.0 metre in a century would cause enormous loss of life in the developing world and enormous cost in the developed world. "These are big numbers, higher than the IPCC projections that governments generally use as the basis for policy-making."


Journal abstract follows:

Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise

W. T. Pfeffer et al.

On the basis of climate modeling and analogies with past conditions, the potential for multimeter increases in sea level by the end of the 21st century has been proposed. We consider glaciological conditions required for large sea-level rise to occur by 2100 and conclude that increases in excess of 2 meters are physically untenable. We find that a total sea-level rise of about 2 meters by 2100 could occur under physically possible glaciological conditions but only if all variables are quickly accelerated to extremely high limits. More plausible but still accelerated conditions lead to total sea-level rise by 2100 of about 0.8 meter. These roughly constrained scenarios provide a "most likely" starting point for refinements in sea-level forecasts that include ice flow dynamics.

Science 5 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5894, pp. 1340 - 1343

Open Water Circling North Pole? Not Quite

The article below is by Revkin of the NYT. After his initial burst of interest in the facts below he goes on to some boilerplate Warmist propaganda. He has to

There have been some breathless headlines in the last few days about the North Pole's being an "island" for the first time in 125,000 years. Aside from the fact that 90 degrees north sits in the middle of a 2.5-mile-deep ocean, that's quite a statement considering two things: first, no one has been routinely monitoring sea ice along both coastlines between then and now, and second, the region was clearly warmer than it is today (in summers) around 8,000 to 10,000 years ago - on both the Siberian and North American sides.

And one of the groups focusing most closely on possible Arctic shipping lanes, the National Ice Center operated by the Navy and Commerce Department, says flatly that the satellites are misreading conditions in many spots and that there is too much ice in a critical spot along the Russian coast (highlighted in the smaller image above) to allow anything but ice-hardened ships to get through. In an e-mail message Wednesday, Sean R. Helfrich, a scientist at the ice center, said that ponds of meltwater pooling on sea ice could fool certain satellite-borne instruments into interpreting ice as open water, "suggesting areas that have substantial ice cover as being sea-ice free." The highlighted area is probably still impassible ice, including large amounts of thick old floes, he said. I sent the note to an array of sea-ice experts, and many, including Mark Serreze at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, concurred.

The article excerpted above WAS here but has since been deleted! LOL! It is however still at the moment viewable in the Google cache


As part of his grab for the center, he supports both

John McCain formally accepted the Republican Party's presidential nomination here on Thursday in a speech extolling the virtues of both oil drilling and green energy.

The Arizona senator received one of his loudest rounds of applause when he lashed out at his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, and characterized the dispute over oil drilling as a matter of international relations and security as well as economics.

"We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much," McCain said. "We will attack the problem on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we'll drill them now."

He added: "Sen. Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet."

McCain's speech comes a day after Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, his vice presidential pick, said her state was ready to provide more energy for America. "The fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all," she said.

McCain went out of his way to tout green technology. In addition to building more nuclear power plants, he said: "We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar, and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles."

A comparison of McCain and Obama's energy plans shows that the Republican opposes existing federal government ethanol production targets and would eliminate a tariff on Brazilian ethanol, a move that would expose U.S. producers to more competition. Obama supports the ethanol regulations (one factor that has led to higher corn prices), wants to raise automotive fuel-efficiency rules, and is not willing at the moment to support expanding nuclear power.

Last month, Obama signaled he might be open to new offshore drilling in some circumstances.



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