Friday, February 05, 2016

Still no success in measuring ocean heat

A good laugh today.  Below we have an article from Prof. John Abraham, famous for taking on Lord Monckton and getting a scarifying reply.  He repeats the usual claim that all the greenhouse heat is being gobbled up by the oceans.  And he tells us that it is therefore very important to measure the heat in the oceans.  And he creates the impression that we can measure it and have confirmed the Warmist claim

He finds temperature measurements old hat however.  He wants to measure heat. That is his academic specialty so no surprises there.  What he thinks tells the tale about global warming is the "earth's energy imbalance" (EEI).  And to measure that you have to measure the heat in the oceans.  The oceans are proposed as the place where the EEI is to be found. He then gives a long and thoroughly persuasive account of just how difficult measuring ocean heat is.

But he takes heart from a recent study by Schuckman et al. (2016) which, he says, gives us the answers we need.  So has Schuckman in fact given us an accurate measure of ocean heat content?  From what Abraham says, you would think so.  He uses weasel words but that is the impression.

In my usual pesky way, however, I went back to the original academic journal article and had a good look at it.  And the result is hilarious.  I reproduce below two snippets from towards the end of the article.

They are a complete confession of failure to measure EEI -- and the oceans are the alleged chief repository of EEI.   So the Schuckman article too says we cannot yet  measure ocean heat content. So we now have it from Warmist experts that the  claim about heat-gobbling oceans is just theory, not fact.  LOL.

There is a word for Prof. Abraham in Australian slang.  He is a Galah.  A Galah is a pretty but very foolish Australian parrot that sometimes kills itself by dive-bombing cars etc.  Prof. Abraham is about that silly.

Human emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are causing the Earth to warm. We know this, and we have known about the heat-trapping nature of these gases for over 100 years. But scientists want to know how fast the Earth is warming and how much extra energy is being added to the climate because of human activities.

If you want to know about global warming and its future effects, you really need to answer these questions. Whether this year was hotter than last year or whether next year breaks a new record are merely one symptom of a warming world. Sure, we expect records to be broken, but they are not the most compelling evidence.

The most compelling evidence we have that global warming is happening is that we can measure how much extra heat comes in to the Earth’s climate system each year. Think of it like a bank account. Money comes in and money goes out each month. At the end of the month, do you have more funds than at the beginning? That is the global warming analogy. Each year, do we have more or less energy in the system compared to the prior year?

The answer to this question is clear, unassailable and unequivocal: the Earth is warming because the energy is increasing. We know this because the heat shows up in our measurements, mainly in the oceans. Indeed the oceans take up more than 92% of the extra heat. The rest goes into melting Arctic sea ice, land ice, and warming the land and atmosphere. Accordingly, to measure global warming, we have to measure ocean warming. Results for 2015 were recently published by Noaa and are available here.

A recent paper by Karina von Schuckmann and her colleagues appeared in Nature Climate Change, and provides an excellent summary of our knowledge of the energy balance of the Earth and recent advances that have been made. The article describes the complexity of the situation. The Earth is continuously gaining energy from greenhouse gases, but there are also natural fluctuations that cause both increases and decreases to the energy flows.

For instance, volcanic eruptions may temporarily reflect some solar energy back to space. Natural variability like the El Niño/La Niña cycle can change heat flows and how deep the heat is buried in the ocean. The energy from the sun isn’t constant either; it varies on an 11-year cycle, but by less than 0.01%. With all of this and more happening, how do we know if an energy imbalance is natural or human caused? How do we separate these effects?

The effort to separate human from natural effects is seen to be possible when one considers how the imbalance is measured in the first place. There are multiple complementary ways to make these measurements. Each technique has advantages and disadvantages and they have to be considered together.

One way is through satellites that orbit the Earth. These satellites can measure the heat entering the atmosphere and the heat leaving the system. The difference between them is the imbalance. Currently, the longest operating satellite measurement for this is from Nasa and is named Ceres (Clouds and Earth’s Radiation Energy System). The difficulty is that the energy imbalance is only about 0.1% of the actual energy flows in and out, and while the changes can be tracked, their exact values are uncertain.

Another way to measure the imbalance is to actually take the ocean’s temperature. Temperature tells us how much heat a system has. If the temperature is increasing, it means the energy within the system is increasing as well – the system is out of balance. Not only do we have to measure the ocean temperatures accurately, but there is a need to measure the temperatures year after year after year exceedingly accurately to much better than a 0.1°C margin. What really matters is how the temperature is changing over long periods of time.

While it may sound easy to measure the oceans, it is actually quite challenging. The oceans are huge (and deep) and difficult to access. The need is for enough measurement locations at enough depths and with enough precision to get an accurate temperature.

In recent years, we have relied upon a system of automated ocean measurement devices called the Argo fleet. These devices are scattered across the globe and they autonomously rise and sink (down to 2,000 meters) and record temperatures and salinity during their travels. Because of the Argo fleet, we know a lot more about our oceans, and this new knowledge helps us ask better questions. But the fleet could be made even better. They do not measure the bottom half of the ocean (below 2,000m depth) and they do not fully cover regions near or under ice or near shores.

Furthermore, a 10-year trend is much too short to make long-term climate conclusions. We have to stitch Argo temperatures to other instruments, which have been measuring the oceans for decades. That stitching process has to be done carefully so that a false cooling or warming trend is not introduced.

Another way is through ocean levels. As the oceans warm, the water expands and sea levels rise. So, just by measuring the changing water levels, it is possible to assess how much heat the oceans are absorbing. The drawback to this method is that oceans are also rising because ice around with world is melting, particularly in Greenland and Antarctica. As this melted ice water flows into the oceans, it too causes sea levels to rise. So, it’s important to separate how much of ocean level rise is from heat-expansion and how much is from ice melting.

And another way is through the use of climate models, which are computer simulations of the environment. Very powerful computers are used to calculate the state of the climate at millions of locations across the globe, in both the oceans and in the atmosphere. The calculations use basic physics and thermodynamics equations to track the thermal energy at each of the locations.

So, there are many ways to measure the Earth’s energy imbalance. While all methods are telling us the Earth has a fever, they differ in details and better synthesis of all the information is essential to improve the knowledge of what Earth’s energy imbalance is. Right now, the Earth is gaining perhaps as much as 1 Watt of heat (a Joule per second) for every square meter of surface area. Considering how large the Earth is, this is an incredible amount of heat being gained day and night year after year. This is over 1 zettaJoules (sextillion Joules) per year.

What I like about this new paper is the recommendations for the future. Perhaps the most important recommendation is that we need to continue to make accurate measurements of the Earth’s temperatures, especially in the oceans. We need to extend those temperate measurements to deeper locations (below 2,000 m) and make measurements near shores, in the Polar Regions, underneath ice, etc. This will require a sustained funding of our measurement systems and a long-term view of the Earth’s changing climate.

Fully understanding where the excess heat is going in the Earth system is a first step to making good predictions as to what its consequences are for the future climate and the oceans.


Alabama scientist proves to Congress global warming projections ‘don’t match facts’

WASHINGTON — Alabama’s state climatologist during Congressional testimony on Wednesday warned members of the U.S. House that global warming projections, many of which have been used to justify the Obama administration’s climate agenda, have been wildly inaccurate when compared to real data.

"I would not trust model projections on which all policy is based here because they just don’t match facts," said Dr. John Christy, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) who has been Alabama’s State Climatologist since 2000.

To illustrate his point, Christy displayed a simple chart before the committee that shows how wildly inaccurate global warming projections have been once compared to real data.

The red line on the chart below shows the average temperature increase that all of the global warming models projected over the last several decades. The green circles and blue squares at the bottom are the climate variations that actually occurred.

"This particular chart has caused considerable anxiety for the climate establishment who want to believe the climate system is overheating according the theory of how extra greenhouse gases are supposed to affect it," Dr. Christy stated calmly. "The message here is very simple: the theory does not match the observations as measured independently by both satellites and balloons."

"It is a bold strategy on the part of many in the climate establishment to put one’s confidence in theoretical models and to attack the observed data," he continued. "To a scientist, this just doesn’t make sense."

This is the second time Dr. Christy has made climate-related news in recent weeks. In January he found himself at odds with many scientists and media outlets who were claiming 2015 was the hottest year on record.

"2015 Was Hottest Year in Historical Record, Scientists Say," read a headline atop the New York Times.

"The whole system is warming up, relentlessly," warned Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

"At some point, you would think most climate change deniers would throw in the towel," added Peter Hannam, Environment Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Dr. Christy agrees with his colleagues that the climate is always changing, but believes their alarmist rhetoric — and even some of their research — is misguided at best, and perhaps even deliberately misleading.

The temperature data cited by most global warming alarmists comes from surface-level measurements, which are notoriously inaccurate.

A 2009 study of the surface-level reading stations found many of them "located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat." Sixty-eight stations were found to be "located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas."

Dr. Christy notes that there are more accurate ways to measure temperature data, but they are often ignored by climate scientists because they do not affirm their predetermined outcomes.

"The deep atmospheric temperature – a much better metric for monitoring climate – as measured by satellite sensors was the 3rd warmest year since 1979," he said of 2015. "If no mention is made of what the bulk of the atmosphere is doing, then these folks are withholding important information."

Dr. Christy laid out his approach to climate science during testimony before the U.S. Senate last year.

"I build data sets from scratch to answer questions about climate variability and to test assertions people make about climate change," he said. "That’s really what the scientific method is all about."

It is that commitment to starting "from scratch" that has made him a particularly bothersome thorn in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) side in recent years.

While Christy does not deny the Earth’s climate is changing, he vehemently rejects the assumptions at the core of the EPA’s growing list of environmental regulations.

In its Clean Power Plan, the EPA is pushing for a 750 million metric ton reduction in CO2 emissions, which it seeks to achieve in large part through regulations on existing power plants, especially coal-fired plants.

A study released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year predicts the environmental mandates in the plan will ultimately cost the United States more than 220,000 jobs.

According to the study, the proposed regulations will have a disproportionate impact on southern states, where energy costs would jump by $6.6 billion per year over the next decade-and-a-half. The "East-South-Central" region of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky would see its GDP shrink by an estimated $2.2 billion and would lose 21,400 jobs as a result of the plan.

Dr. Christy on Wednesday testified that such onerous regulations will do little to nothing to actually impact the climate.

"If the United States had disappeared in 2015, no more people, no cars, no industry, the impact on the climate system would be a tiny few hundredths of a degree over 50 years – and that’s if you believe climate models," he concluded.


Climatologist Douglas offers alternative viewpoint on global warming

SPOKANE — Theories about increasing global temperatures fail to take into account the impact of factors other than the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the cyclic nature of climate, a well-known meteorologist told farmers on Feb. 2.

Art Douglas, professor emeritus at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., spoke about global warming during his presentation at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

One problem he sees is relying on air temperature records. "I trust sea surface temperatures more than I do air temperature," Douglas said. "Air temperature is screwed up by cities. You have a whole mix of things that can screw up an air temperature record."

Much has been said because the last two years were the warmest on record, with the globe warming by 0.7 degrees centigrade.

However, Douglas said that carbon dioxide and global temperature patterns from the last 50 years seem to match cyclical patterns going back 400,000 years.

He showed two charts — one of the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and one of the air temperatures — that were produced using Antarctic ice core samples and go back 400,000 years. In those cycles, global temperatures increase as the amount of carbon dioxide increases — and both cycle lower after reaching a peak before building back up.

Douglas said the recent warming trend can be attributed 50-50 to human activity and natural climate variability.

Assigning contributions to global warming solely by each carbon dioxide emissions ignores the impacts of other climate cycles and sun spots, Douglas said.

"Historically speaking, we’re in a very cold period and a low CO2 period in terms of the planet," Douglas said.


The Surprising Way Ships' Wakes Could Help Ease Global Warming

It's all about making the Earth's surface more reflective.

The wakes of large ships could be used to curb global warming, scientists argue.

The shipping industry gets blamed for its share of environmental ills, from air and water pollution to collisions that kill whales and other marine animals.

But in a new paper published last week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, scientists argue that the wakes of big ocean-going vessels might actually be used to curb global warming.

The scientists say that dramatically extending the lifetimes of the foamy wakes (and making them a bit brighter) would boost the Earth's surface reflectivity (what scientists call albedo) and reduce the extent to which sunlight warms our planet.

Wake bubbles typically pop within a matter of minutes. But "if we could make the bubbles in the wake last for 10 days, then I believe this scheme could potentially reduce global warming to some extent," Dr. Julia A. Crook, a research fellow in the Institute for Climate & Atmospheric Science at the University of Leeds in England, told The Huffington Post in an email.

Crook and her co-authors maintain that their climate model shows the scheme could bring a 0.5-degree Celsius reduction in the Earth's average surface temperature by 2069, helping to offset the 2-degree warming expected by then.

According to Crook, the effect is comparable to those achieved by other so-called geoengineering schemes that have been proposed in recent years.

Of course, those bubbles won't resist popping just because we want them to. The scheme calls for the ocean-going ships to pump out a stream of chemicals known as surfactants as they move along. Surfactants help prevent popping by affecting the surface tension of water -- at the same time making the wakes a bit whiter than they would be ordinarily.

But it's not clear whether the scheme would be safe for marine life. And then there's the matter of its effect on air quality.

"Previous research suggests surfactants reduce the amount of CO2 uptake by the ocean, which would mean by adding surfactant we might cause atmospheric CO2 to go up," Crook said. "But by how much and whether the resulting warming from the extra CO2 would outweigh the increased albedo is unknown. This could be a show-stopper."

Dr. David Keith, a professor of applied physics and public policy at Harvard and a noted expert on geoengineering, said real-world feasibility and cost are other key issues.

"Nobody doubts that if you can make the bubbles last it makes the sea whiter," Keith said. "That’s easy. The hard part is whether you can make the bubbles persist and do it in sea water."

To fully assess the scheme's cost, safety and feasibility, he said, it will take more than a climate model. It will take real-world experiments.


Finally, America May Be Catching On to Ethanol Racket

The results of the Iowa caucus proved that even Iowans—long seen as fervent proponents of ethanol—don’t view Washington’s favoritism to it as necessarily still required.

Much like many campaigns out there, the Renewable Fuel Standard that mandates the use of biofuels in our gasoline has been full of empty promises. When Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and expanded the mandate in 2007, policymakers promised reduced dependence on foreign oil, a new source of cleaner energy to lower gas prices, a stronger economy, and an improved environment.

This was certainly wishful thinking, as none of it has come true.

Instead, the policy has resulted in adverse effects to the economy and the environment and demonstrated the folly of the government attempting to centrally plan America’s energy future.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.  We’ll respect your inbox and keep you informed.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 first mandated that renewable fuels be mixed into America’s gasoline supply, primarily using corn-based ethanol. The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act increased the quotas significantly.

By 2022, there must be 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol and a total of 36 billion gallons of biofuels blended into the nation’s fuel supply, including soybean-based biodiesel. The program does not end in 2022, however, but grants the Environmental Protection Agency authority to set yearly targets.

The mandate has harmed Americans in a number of ways. Ethanol has only two-thirds the energy content of petroleum-based gasoline, so drivers pay more. In addition, the Renewable Fuel Standard has not delivered on the promise of reducing dependence on oil and protection from high prices.

Because ethanol contributes such a small percentage of the overall transportation fuel market (a mere 5 percent in 2014), it has failed to tamp down prices, which mostly continued to climb from 2002 to 2012 despite increased mandated ethanol use and high oil prices allegedly making ethanol more competitive.

Supply and demand (largely of crude oil) will determine the price at the pump, and the contribution of the Renewable Fuel Standard as a transportation fuel is a mere drop in the bucket against the nation’s entire fuel use.

The Renewable Fuel Standard also artificially diverts food to fuel, driving up prices at the grocery store.

A few years ago, 40 percent of America’s corn crop went to ethanol production. In 2012, the amount of corn used to produce ethanol in the U.S. exceeded the entire corn consumption of the continent of Africa and in any single country with the exception of China.

Now, if market forces drove corn production away from food use and toward transportation fuel because it were more profitable, there would be no problem. But that’s not what is occurring here. Producers are diverting food to fuel because of the government-imposed mandate, and since corn is a staple ingredient for many foods and an important feedstock for animals, families are hit with higher prices from a wide range of food products.

Policymakers hailed biofuels as the green solution to dirty oil. But, in its first of three reports to Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency projected that nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, ground-level ozone, and ethanol vapor emissions, among other air pollutants, increase at different points in the production and use of ethanol.

A study by Iowa State University researchers concluded that incentivizing more biofuel production with government policies leads to more adverse environmental consequences caused by farming, the use of fertilizers, and land-use conversion for agricultural production, resulting in increased soil erosion, sedimentation, and nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into lakes and streams.

Though the mandate benefits a select few in the Midwest, the Renewable Fuel Standard spreads the cost to the rest of Americans, including many in the agricultural community. The biofuels mandate gives preferential treatment to the production of corn and soybeans at the expense of other agricultural products and artificially eliminates the risk and competition necessary to drive innovation and economic growth.

The problem with the Renewable Fuel Standard is not the use of biofuels themselves, but rather that it is a policy that mandates the production and consumption of the fuel.

Having politicians centrally plan energy decisions best left for the private sector distorts markets and demonstrates the high costs and unintended consequences of government control.

Congress should admit that the Renewable Fuel Standard is costly to the economy and the environment, benefiting a select group of special interests. Importantly, Congress should recognize that the federal government has no business determining what type of fuel we should use and how much of it we should consume each year.

The only viable solution to this broken policy is to repeal the biofuels mandate altogether.


Australia: Climate science on chopping block as CSIRO braces for shake-up

Global warming research to be re-oriented towards mitigation

The CSIRO's climate science divisions are expected to be pared back as part of a massive shake-up of the organisation.

The ABC understands cuts are expected to be made within the Oceans and Atmosphere and Land and Water divisions and up to 350 positions in the organisation will change.

The organisation will attempt to redeploy as many staff as possible into emerging areas such as data science, but there are likely to be redundancies in the process.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said the changes would see the organisation move away from measuring and monitoring climate change, to instead focus on how to adapt to it.

"It's inevitable that people who are gifted at measuring and modelling climate may not be the same people who are gifted at figuring out what to do about it how to mitigate it," he said.

"Some of the climate scientists will be able to make that transition and some won't."

Dr Marshall said the shake-up was about renewal for the organisation and addressing the low turnover rates of staff.

"On the good side that means people love working for CSIRO but on the bad side most companies have much higher turnover than we do," he said.

The good thing about turnover is it creates a career path for junior scientists to aspire to.

In a statement, a spokesman for Science Minister Christopher Pyne said:  "This is an operational decision of the CSIRO.   After an extensive review, the management of the CSIRO have stated the need to re-organise the organisation to better fulfil its mission as outlined in its strategic plan"

In 2014, the Federal Government slashed more than $110 million from the organisation's budget, prompting national protests.

But scientists became far more optimistic when the Prime Minister launched the National Innovation and Science Agenda in December last year.

Malcolm Turnbull committed $90 million to the CSIRO to support increased commercialisation of research.

He also announced $75 million of funding to a CSIRO business unit known as Data61, which will focus research on areas such as cybersecurity and robotics.

At the time, Science Minister Christopher Pyne said organisations like the CSIRO were "among the best in the world".



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