Monday, May 10, 2010

We need to recognize the complexity and variety of climate influences

‘Researchers first became intrigued by abrupt climate change when they discovered striking evidence of large, abrupt, and widespread changes preserved in paleoclimatic archives. Interpretation of such proxy records of climate - for example, using tree rings to judge occurrence of droughts or gas bubbles in ice cores to study the atmosphere at the time the bubbles were trapped -is a well-established science that has grown much in recent years. This chapter summarizes techniques for studying paleoclimate and highlights research results. The chapter concludes with examples of modern climate change and techniques for observing it. Modern climate records include abrupt changes that are smaller and briefer than in paleoclimate records but show that abrupt climate change is not restricted to the distant past.’

US National Academy of Science (2002), Committee on Abrupt Climate Changes, Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises NAP – p19 ...

Abrupt climate change occurs on all scales from interannual ENSO events, to decades, ice ages and beyond. More important than the detail of specific abrupt climate changes is in understanding the principle in mathematical physics of abrupt change and applying it as a fundamental property of climate.

Abrupt change is not unusual in systems as diverse as the human heart, nervous systems, ant colonies, global economies or whole ecologies. Many physical (and social) systems exhibit abrupt (so called chaotic) changes. Weather has been known to be ‘chaotic’ since the 1960’s. All these systems share properties that are defined in terms of complex systems theory. Chief amongst these commonalities is that the systems are sensitive to small initial changes – the so called butterfly effect. Complex systems theory is a metatheory, a theory of theories, under which umbrella climate science is now to be located along with other dynamic and complex systems....

The classic example of abrupt climate change in the paleoclimatic record is the period of the Younger Dryas occurring around 12,800 to 11,500 years ago.

There was a sudden shift out of glaciation some 15,000 years ago. This was followed by an almost equally rapid cooling that culminated in the extreme cold period of the Younger Dryas lasting for 1300 years. The consequences of a modern descent into a similar climate mode, over as little as a decade, are unthinkable. Surface temperatures drive evaporation over oceans – as temperature cools aridity increases and there is less snow accumulation....

Four abrupt climate shifts can be seen in the past century. The instrumental temperature record itself contains evidence of abrupt shift. Using HadCrut3 data: increasing from 1909 to the mid 1940’s, declining to the late 1970’s, increasing to 1998 and declining since. The shifts are punctuated by extreme El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. Fluctuations between La Niña and El Niño peak at these times and climate then settles into a damped oscillation. Until the next critical climate threshold - due perhaps in a decade or two if the recent past is any indication.

Professor Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to calculate the times of abrupt climate shift. Using ocean and atmospheric indices - the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), (ENSO), and the North Pacific Oscillation (NPO) – to show these also shifted abruptly, in ‘synchronised chaos’ and at the same time as the changes in surface temperature regimes.

Our ‘interest is to understand - first the natural variability of climate - and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.

The simple mechanical analogy of Figure 1 has three degrees of freedom. The Earth climate system has hundreds. It must be remembered that all of these subsystems are operating interactively, as in Adams’ ‘cascade of powerful mechanisms.’ It is impossible to imagine yet alone analyse, describe or model with our current capabilities – but all of the changes in climate, warming and cooling, result from a spontaneous reorganisation of internal climate sub-systems when forced by small initial changes.

Anthropogenic carbon emissions add to initial changes (and increase climate instability) but none of the changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide are related in any direct or linear way to climate outcomes - any thinking about climate in terms of simple cause and effect is fundamentally flawed. Climate predictability beyond a decade at best is problematic - essentially because abrupt climate change at decadal scales is guaranteed but also because of the possibility of a larger climate shift.


Feedbacks from the Latest CERES data

by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Arguably the single most important scientific issue – and unresolved question – in the global warming debate is climate sensitivity. Will increasing carbon dioxide cause warming that is so small that it can be safely ignored (low climate sensitivity)? Or will it cause a global warming Armageddon (high climate sensitivity)?

The answer depends upon the net radiative feedback: the rate at which the Earth loses extra radiant energy with warming. Climate sensitivity is mostly determined by changes in clouds and water vapor in response to the small, direct warming influence from (for instance) increasing carbon dioxide concentrations.

The net radiative feedback can be estimated from global, satellite-based measurements of natural climate variations in (1) Earth’s radiation budget, and (2) tropospheric temperatures.

These feedback estimates have been mostly constrained by the availability of the first measurement: the best calibrated radiation budget data comes from the NASA CERES instruments, with data now available for 9.5 years from the Terra satellite, and 7 years from the Aqua satellite. Both datasets now extend through September of 2009.

I’ve been slicing and dicing the data different ways, and here I will present 7 years of results for the global (60N to 60S) oceans from NASA’s Aqua satellite. The following plot shows 7 years of monthly variations in the Earth’s net radiation (reflected solar shortwave [SW] plus emitted infrared longwave [LW]) compared to similarly averaged tropospheric temperature from AMSU channel 5.

Simple linear regression yields a net feedback factor of 5.8 Watts per sq. meter per degree C. If this was the feedback operating with global warming, then it would amount to only 0.6 deg. C of human-caused warming by late in this century. (Use of sea surface temperatures instead of tropospheric temperatures yields a value of over 11).

Since we have already experienced 0.6 deg. C in the last 100 years, it would also mean that most of our current global warmth is natural, not anthropogenic.

But, as we show in our new paper (in press) in the Journal of Geophysical Research, these feedbacks can not be estimated through simple linear regression on satellite data, which will almost always result in an underestimate of the net feedback, and thus an overestimate of climate sensitivity....

How Does this Compare to the IPCC Climate Models?

In comparison, we find that none of the 17 IPCC climate models (those that have sufficient data to do the same calculations) exhibit this level of negative feedback when similar statistics are computed from output of either their 20th Century simulations, or their increasing-CO2 simulations. Those model-based values range from around 2 to a little over 4.

These results suggest that the sensitivity of the real climate system is less than that exhibited by ANY of the IPCC climate models. This will end up being a serious problem for global warming predictions. You see, while modelers claim that the models do a reasonably good job of reproducing the average behavior of the climate system, it isn’t the average behavior we are interested in. It is how the average behavior will CHANGE.

And the above results show that not one of the IPCC climate models behaves like the real climate system does when it comes to feedbacks during interannual climate variations…and feedbacks are what determine how serious manmade global warming will be.


Letter signatories were only 12% of NAS

By Luboš Motl

Yesterday, 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences - which has 2100 members in total - signed an open but originally paid letter in Science: "Climate Change and the Integrity of Science"

As ABC and other media wrote, the researchers are "deeply disturbed by political assaults on scientists".

"For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet," they argue. The first three paragraphs say:
We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial - scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That's what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of "well-established theories" and are often spoken of as "facts."

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5 billion years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14 billion years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today's organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend. (p. 689)

That's a set of remarkable misinterpretations of the actual findings. Indeed, science is never certain. But rational actions of the humans should reflect the current ideas about the probabilities of various outcomes rather than unscientific, ideological preconceptions masked as various kinds of "precautionary principles". There is an overwhelming evidence that the climate change in the next decades, century, or two - regardless of its causes - will be harmless while attempts to "phase out" carbon out of our lives would be devastating.

I know almost no one on the list - and it's great not to see most of the NAS members I know well. However, it's still sad to see people like Paul Crutzen, Kerry Emanuel, Wally Gilbert, Carl Wunsch, and others on this blacklist. I have no idea why they haven't managed to convince Rev James Hansen to sign the letter; he's been an NAS member since 1996.

Such letters usually create lots of noise but we shouldn't forget that the signatories represent just a fringe minority of the National Academy of Sciences so this letter doesn't directly imply that the whole academy is rotten.


Let the Sun Set on Solar Subsidies

The country that leads the clean energy economy will lead the global economy. We’ve heard some version of that story a number of times from President Obama, whether it be in his State of the Union address or trying to sell the stimulus at wind and solar manufacturing plants across the country. Countries like Spain and Germany are leading the race in the clean energy; as President Obama says, “they’re making real investments in renewable energy.” But what’s at the finish line? If Spain and Germany provide any indication, it’s a slumping economy, and both countries are cutting back the subsidies:

E&E reports:
Only two years ago, Spanish solar energy companies feasting on generous government subsidies expanded at a feverish pace, investing €18 billion (then worth roughly $28 billion) to blanket rooftops and fields with photovoltaic panels. They briefly turned the country into the top solar market in the world.

Then came a monumental case of sunburn. The market crashed under a wave of subsidy cuts, fears of possible forced tariff paybacks and allegations of fraud involving energy produced at night being sold as solar power to collect super-premium prices.

Spain’s subsidies for solar were four to six times higher than those for wind. Prices charged for solar power were 12 times higher than those for fossil fuel electricity. Germany and Spain received about 75 percent of the world’s photovoltaic panel installations that year.

Spain is not the only European country cutting solar subsidies. On July 1, Germany will cut the price paid for electricity from roof-mounted solar panels by 16 percent and that from larger solar power stations by 15 percent. France cut its solar subsidies in January by 29 percent after the installed capacity more than doubled from 105 megawatts in 2008 to 250 megawatts last year. Italy, considered by analysts the first market where solar is likely to become competitive without subsidies, is considering a gradual decrease in tariffs between 2011 and 2013.”

It would be encouraging to see solar and wind be cost competitive without subsidies and reducing government dependence will determine if that can be the case. Germany’s Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen is taking a more sensible approach, saying, “Our solution is innovation instead of subsidies.” That’s an approach we can support and it should be the approach for all energy sources.


A confused Republican

Today’s Greenwire (subscription required) includes an edited transcript of an interview with Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that recalls Bill Clinton’s famous line, “It all depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

Graham was at pains to explain his position on the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill. On the one hand, he asserted that, “I’m in this to win.” On the other hand, he pulled the rug out from under Kerry and Lieberman two weeks ago when he backed out at the last minute from a press conference at which the bill was to be unveiled, and he is not expected to join them when they introduce the bill next week. Sen. John Cronyn (R-TX) aptly described Graham as the hokey pokey man: “You put your right foot in. You take your right foot out. I’m not sure where he [Graham] is right now.”

Although the bill includes a cap-and-trade program for the electric power sector, which is to be extended over time to other sectors of the economy, Graham is still asserting that it’s neither a cap-and-trade bill nor a global warming bill. He stated: “It’s not a global warming bill to me. Because global warming as a reason to pass legislation doesn’t exist anymore.” He also explained: “There is no bipartisan support for a cap-and-trade bill based on global warming.”

Permit me to translate Graham’s Clintonese: “We want capntrade even if the original and central rationale is no longer credible, and oh, by the way, we’re not calling it capntrade anymore. I’m in this to win but I’ll be a no-show when Kerry and Lieberman introduce the non-global warming, non-capntrade, global warming-capntrade bill.”


Europe's Carbon Mafia, And Ours

Huge corruption

The carbon trading system being pushed here has spawned crime and fraud across the pond. Cap-and-trade is not about saving the planet. It's about money and power, and absolute power corrupting absolutely.

All across Europe authorities have been conducting raids, rounding up individuals involved in a new version of Climate-gate. This time the data aren't corrupted. Europe's Emissions Trading System is. The system is so sick, it's turned out to be a scam built upon a scam.

Twenty-five people have been arrested in raids by British and German authorities as part of a pan-European crackdown on carbon credit VAT tax fraud.

U.K. officials announced raids on 81 offices and homes, nabbing 13 people in England and eight in Scotland. The operation involved 450 investigators from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs office.

German authorities raided 230 locations, including the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and the offices of RWE, one of the largest energy firms in Europe. The German operation involved 1,000 investigators targeting 50 companies and 150 suspects.

The amount of money involved in carbon trading is huge and the temptations vast. While our Congress demagogues about banks and their "complex financial instruments," they are simple compared to cap-and-trade, which as we have noted involves essentially the buying and selling of air. Throw in an oppressive value-added tax and you have a recipe for corruption and fraud.

Last December, Europol, the European criminal intelligence agency, announced that Emissions Trading System fraud had resulted in about 5 billion euros in lost revenues as Europe's carbon traders schemed to avoid paying Europe's VAT and pocket the difference. In announcing the raids, the agency said that as much as 90% of Europe's carbon trades were the result of fraudulent activity.

"Carbon markets are highly susceptible to fraud, given their complexity and the fact that it's not always clear what is being traded," says Oscar Reyes of Carbon Trade Watch.

Climate change has been found to be a fraud. Now the system to fight it has been. Yet it's that system the administration and others want to establish here through cap-and-trade legislation such as Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer.

As we also have noted, the mechanism for such phantom carbon trading here has already been established in the form of the Chicago Climate Exchange. The Joyce Foundation in 2000 and 2001 provided the seed money to start CCX when Barack Obama sat on its board.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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