Saturday, August 29, 2009

Error in NOAA’s sea surface temperature calculations means that the July 2009 SST was likely not any kind of a record

After crunching data this week from two of our satellite-based microwave sensors, and from NOAA’s official sea surface temperature (SST) product ERSST v3b, I think the evidence is pretty clear: The ERSST v3b product has a spurious warming since 1998 of about 0.2 deg. C, most of which occurred as a jump in 2001.

The following three panels tell the story. In the first panel I’ve plotted the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) SST anomalies (blue) for the latitude band 40N to 40S. I’ve also plotted SST anomalies from the more recently launched AMSR-E instrument (red), computed over the same latitude band, to show that they are nearly identical. (These SST retrievals do not have any time-dependent adjustments based upon buoy data). The orange curve is anomalies for the entire global (ice-free) oceans, which shows there is little difference with the more restricted latitude band.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)


From Geophysical Research Letters, August 2009

How will Earth's surface temperature change in future decades?

By Judith L. Lean & David H. Rind


Reliable forecasts of climate change in the immediate future are difficult, especially on regional scales, where natural climate variations may amplify or mitigate anthropogenic warming in ways that numerical models capture poorly. By decomposing recent observed surface temperatures into components associated with ENSO, volcanic and solar activity, and anthropogenic influences, we anticipate global and regional changes in the next two decades. From 2009 to 2014, projected rises in anthropogenic influences and solar irradiance will increase global surface temperature 0.15 ± 0.03°C, at a rate 50% greater than predicted by IPCC. But as a result of declining solar activity in the subsequent five years, average temperature in 2019 is only 0.03 ± 0.01°C warmer than in 2014. 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. We further illustrate how a major volcanic eruption and a super ENSO would modify our global and regional temperature projections.


4. Summary

[15] By representing monthly mean surface temperatures in terms of their combined linear responses to ENSO, volcanic and solar activity and anthropogenic influences, we account for 76% of the variance observed since 1980 (and since 1889 [Lean and Rind, 2008]) and forecast global and regional temperatures in the next two decades. According to our prediction, which is anchored in the reality of observed changes in the recent past, warming from 2009 to 2014 will exceed that due to anthropogenic influences alone but global temperatures will increase only slightly from 2014 to 2019, and some regions may even cool.

[16] Northern mid latitudes, especially western Europe, will experience the largest warming (of as much as 1 C), since this region responds positively to both solar and anthropogenic influences. Minimal warming is likely in the eastern Pacific ocean and adjacent west coast of South America, and parts of the mid latitude Atlantic ocean, which may cool slightly at southern latitudes in future decades.

[17] The major assumption associated with our forecasts is that 'past is prologue'; climate will continue to respond in the future to the same factors that have influenced it in the recent past and the response will continue to be linear over the next several decades. The demonstrated ability of our empirical model to reproduce the historical record of monthly surface temperature changes on a range of time scales from annual to multidecadal suggests that the same atmosphere-ocean interchange (both internal and forced) that governs annual surface temperature changes may also control climate change in the immediate future.

[18] While the ability of the climate system to depart from its historical response should not be underestimated (e.g., ocean circulation changes), the demonstrated ability of our empirical model to reproduce with some fidelity the historical surface temperature record, and in particular the geographic variations of the last decade, provides cautious confidence that a similar capability may be available for the next two decades in association with the expected climate forcings. Over this time scale, anthropogenic radiative forcing is forecast to continue growing at close to current trends with all of the different trace gas emission scenarios currently being employed, while the solar cycle changes can be anticipated within a range of uncertainty. If strong ENSO cycle events and/or volcanoes arise, they can be factored into the forecasts with the method described here. In future work we plan to characterize and forecast the seasonal responses to the natural and anthropogenic effects.



A new study in the journal "Science" by a team of international of researchers led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research have found that the sunspot cycle has a big effect on the earth's weather. The puzzle has been how fluctuations in the sun's energy of about 0.1 percent over the course of the 11-year sunspot cycle could affect the weather? The press release describing the new study explains:

The team first confirmed a theory that the slight increase in solar energy during the peak production of sunspots is absorbed by stratospheric ozone. The energy warms the air in the stratosphere over the tropics, where sunlight is most intense, while also stimulating the production of additional ozone there that absorbs even more solar energy. Since the stratosphere warms unevenly, with the most pronounced warming occurring at lower latitudes, stratospheric winds are altered and, through a chain of interconnected processes, end up strengthening tropical precipitation.

At the same time, the increased sunlight at solar maximum causes a slight warming of ocean surface waters across the subtropical Pacific, where Sun-blocking clouds are normally scarce. That small amount of extra heat leads to more evaporation, producing additional water vapor. In turn, the moisture is carried by trade winds to the normally rainy areas of the western tropical Pacific, fueling heavier rains and reinforcing the effects of the stratospheric mechanism.

The top-down influence of the stratosphere and the bottom-up influence of the ocean work together to intensify this loop and strengthen the trade winds. As more sunshine hits drier areas, these changes reinforce each other, leading to less clouds in the subtropics, allowing even more sunlight to reach the surface, and producing a positive feedback loop that further magnifies the climate response.

These stratospheric and ocean responses during solar maximum keep the equatorial eastern Pacific even cooler and drier than usual, producing conditions similar to a La Nina event. However, the cooling of about 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit is focused farther east than in a typical La Nina, is only about half as strong, and is associated with different wind patterns in the stratosphere.

Are these new findings relevant to scientific analyses of man-made global warming? The Christian Science Monitor reports:

For those wondering how the study bears on global warming, Gerald Meehl, lead author on the study, says that it doesn't - at least not directly....

Global warming is a long-term trend, Dr. Meehl says in a phone conversation. By contrast, this study attempts to explain the processes behind a periodic occurrence. But, he says, a model finally able to reproduce a complex phenomenon observed in the real world does suggest that our climate models - the same ones we use to predict what will happen to global climate as we ratchet up co2 concentrations - are improving. And that will, inevitably, have an effect on the climate discussion.

A recent paper in Eos considers the evidence that we could be in for an extended period with few sunspots:

"Why is a lack of sunspot activity interesting? During the period from 1645 to 1715, the Sun entered a period of low activity now known as the Maunder Minimum, when through several 11- year periods the Sun displayed few if any sunspots. Models of the Sun's irradiance suggest that the solar energy input to the Earth decreased during that time and that this change in solar activity could explain the low temperatures recorded in Europe during the Little Ice Age."

Doesn't the Eos paper suggest that sunspot activity may not just affect weather but climate too?


Another Warmist attempt to silence dissent


The EPA whistleblower saga took a new turn this week with a report that EPA was considering shutting down the agency unit in which Dr. Alan Carlin works. Dr. Carlin is the senior EPA analyst who authored a 100-page study last March, which severely criticized the scientific basis for the agency's position on global warming. CEI broke the story in late June, when it unveiled a series of emails to Dr. Carlin from his boss, stating that his study would not be disclosed, and that Dr. Carlin was to stop working on global warming issues, because criticizing EPA's position would only cause trouble.

Dr. Carlin works in EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), whose function is, in its words, "analyzing the economic and health impacts of environmental regulations and policies, and ... informing important policy decisions with sound economics and other sciences." EPA has long been criticized for the tunnel-vision, cost-be-damned nature of many of its policies. (See, for example, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's 1995 book, Breaking the Vicious Circle: Toward Effective Risk Regulation, written before he joined the court.) Economists are the most likely professionals within EPA to examine the real-world effects of its policies. For that reason, the NCEE is potentially a major restraining force on the agency's out-of-this-world regulatory ambitions. Wouldn't it be great for EPA to get this office out of the way?

Hopefully, the publicity and scrutiny that Dr. Carlin's report has received since it became public will carry over to EPA's plans for NCEE, and this agency, with its hollow commitment to scientific integrity and transparency, won't get its wish.


GE's green lobbying is killing U.S. factory jobs

"Government did us in,” says Dwayne Madigan, whose job will terminate when General Electric closes its factory next July. Madigan makes a product that will soon be illegal to sell in the U.S. - a regular incandescent bulb. Two years ago, his employer, GE, lobbied in favor of the law that will outlaw the bulbs. Madigan’s colleagues, waiting for their evening shift to begin, all know that GE is replacing the incandescents for now with compact fluorescents bulbs, which GE manufactures in China.

Last month, GE announced it will close the Winchester Bulb Plant 80 miles west of D.C. As a result, 200 men and women will lose their jobs. GE is also shuttering incandescent factories in Ohio and Kentucky, axing another 200 jobs. GE blamed environmental regulations for the closing. The first paragraph of the company’s July 23 press release explained: “A variety of energy regulations that establish lighting efficiency standards are being implemented in the U.S. and other countries, in some cases this year, and will soon make the familiar lighting products produced at the Winchester Plant obsolete.”

The U.S. legislation in question was a provision in the 2007 energy bill that required all bulbs sold in the U.S.—beginning in 2012 for some wattages—to meet high efficiency standards.

Given the steady death of U.S. manufacturing, this factory was going to close sooner or later, anyway. Workers tell me they were happy when they heard in June that the factory was staying open at least through mid-2011—a plan GE abandoned the next month. But the light bulb law is clearly the main driver in closing this factory. After all, the product they make here will be contraband by 2014. "That was the nail in the coffin,” Madigan says.

These men, waiting in the shade in front of the employees’ entrance to the plant on a hot afternoon, all know another pertinent fact about the light-bulb law that is killing their jobs: GE lobbied in favor of it.

Why did GE, founded by Thomas Edison, lobby to kill the incandescent light bulb? The company said in 2007 it wanted to make sure it was working under a single federal efficiency standard, rather than a patchwork of state regulations. GE also touts its compact fluorescents as one of the green products in its “eco-magination” initiative.

The workers don’t buy the green arguments, pointing to the mercury gas that’s in the fluorescents. “It’s illegal to dump mercury in the river, but not in the landfill,” two of them say in unison—it’s become a dark joke at the factory.

Robert Pifer, who will also be laid off in July if he doesn’t find a new job by then, has an explanation for GE’s support of the light-bulb law and its shift to the more expensive fluorescents. “Are they not just trying to force-feed people stuff they don’t want to buy?”

So, GE gets environmentalist brownie points for selling “clean” light bulbs, and they also get to charge more for their bulbs. But there’s another advantage—they save on labor with fluorescents, because they make the fluorescents in China. Not only are wages lower there, but so are the regulatory burdens, both environmental and labor. The Times of London recently reported, “Large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which forms part of the compact fluorescent lightbulbs.”

CFLs, however, are probably not the light bulb of the future. Right before it started lobbying for a federal light bulb law, GE announced that it would start making high-efficiency incandescent by 2010. GE doesn’t say where it will manufacturer its high-efficiency incandescent bulb, but all signs suggest it won’t be here in Winchester.

GE spokesman Peter O’Toole responded by pointing out GE has relocated its manufacturing of Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters to Kentucky, from China. They promise 400 new “green-collar” jobs, offsetting the loss of the light-bulb jobs—but not in Winchester.

I ask the men what they plan to do when the factory closes down. Some say they’ll retire. Others can only shrug their shoulders. Pifer says he’ll just have to take a job at less than half of what he currently makes. “I live paycheck to paycheck,” Pifer tells me. He has a son, and he owns a house nearby, he says. “So what am I going to do when I’m earning $11 an hour?” These men are the victims of the green revolution —a revolution their employer is leading.



Report from Australia

Trading of emission permits around the world will become a financial rort [racket] that fails to reduce carbon emissions - and will ultimately be scrapped in favour of a simple carbon tax, a former senior official in the Clinton administration has forecast. Robert Shapiro, former US undersecretary of commerce and author of Futurecast, predicted that the US Senate would reject the emissions trading scheme proposed by President Obama, which is now before it.

Speaking by video to the Trade 2020 conference convened by Austrade and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Dr Shapiro said 'cap and trade' systems as proposed by the US and the Australian governments to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow trade in permits do not work as intended. "Cap and trade has proved very vulnerable to vested interests, and therefore too weak to deliver the necessary emission reductions'', he said. ''Cap and trade creates trillions of dollars of new financial instruments to be traded, and subjected to the next financial fads. China and India will never accept a cap and trade regime.''

A better solution is to impose a carbon tax on emissions and return the revenue from it to households so people are not made worse off, Dr Shapiro said. A similar approach in Sweden has cut emissions there by 8 per cent since 1990 while GDP rose about 40 per cent.

CEDA research director Michael Porter strongly supported Dr Shapiro. CEDA today will release a report urging the Rudd Government to scrap its emissions trading scheme in favour of a carbon tax. Dr Porter warned that a carbon market would not be trading carbon, ''it'll be trading derivatives''. International trade in permits will mean the integrity of a permit is only as good as the weakest supervisory regime.

Economists are divided over which is the better way to fight climate change. Emissions trading has won widespread support because it is a market-based solution that, in theory, will deliver certain emission reductions at the lowest cost, as companies that can't reduce emissions cheaply instead buy permits from companies that can.



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope you realize that you have many American scientists and scientifically minded people following this and your heath blob like crazy, knowing that it come out after midnight since you are on the other side of the planet. At bedtime I always find myself longing for an update, and it's usually indeed there! So you are late night TV for me.