Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why correlations of CO2 and Temperature over ice age cycles don’t define climate sensitivity

This paper from a great headquarters of Warmism is something of a mess.  Its conclusion -- that there are so many unknowns in the paleoclimate record that it should not be used as a basis for generalizations -- most skeptics would wildly applaud.  The authors  limit themselves to talking about only one type of generalization but the same considerations surely throw all paleoclimate generalizations into doubt.

The other thing of interest is their comment on the long-term correlation beteween CO2 levels and temperature.  Skeptics have never questioned that.  Instead they point to the time lag involved:  Temperature rises PRECEDED CO2 rises -- exactly the opposite of what Warmist theory prescribes but fully understandable as warming oceans outgassing CO2 -- a normal physical effect

We’ve all seen how well temperature proxies and CO2 concentrations are correlated in the Antarctic ice cores – this has been known since the early 1990’s and has featured in many high-profile discussions of climate change.

For obvious reasons, we are interested in how the climate system will respond to an increase in CO2 and that depends on time-scale and what feedbacks we consider:

The “Charney” sensitivity is generally thought of as the medium-term response of the system, including all the fast feedbacks and some of the longer term ones (like the ocean). This is usually what is meant by climate sensitivity in normal conversation. On longer (multi-millennial) timescales we expect changes in vegetation and ice-sheets to occur and alter the response and that sensitivity is often described as the Earth System Sensitivity (ESS).

But let’s go back to the correlation from EPICA Dome C:

Using local temperatures, the straight line regression is ~3.9 ºC/(W/m2). Assuming that global temperature changes on these timescales are roughly half as large, that implies ~2 ºC/(W/m2) at the global scale, and given that 2xCO2 forcing is about 4 W/m2, that means a ‘sensitivity’ of ~8ºC for a doubling of CO2. This is very much larger than any of the standard numbers that are usually discussed. So what is going on?

The first point to recognize is that the ice age/interglacial variations are being driven by Milankovitch forcings (“orbital wobbles”). These have an almost zero effect in the global mean radiative forcing but make huge differences to the seasonal and regional solar fluxes. This makes these drivers almost uniquely effective at impacting ice sheets, hence temperature, the circulation, the biosphere, and therefore the carbon cycle. Notably, these drivers don’t fit neatly into a global forcing/global response paradigm.

Second, the relationship we are seeing in the ice cores is made up of two independent factors: the sensitivity of the CO2 to temperature over the ice age cycle – roughly ~100 ppmv/4ºC or ~25 ppmv/ºC – and the sensitivity of the climate to CO2, which we’d like to know.

The problem is perhaps made clearer with two thought experiments. Imagine a world where the sensitivity of the climate system to carbon dioxide was zero (note this is not Planet Earth!). Then the records discussed above would show a reduced amplitude cycle, but a strong correlation between CO2 radiative forcing and temperature. This relationship would be exactly the T to CO2 function. To take another extreme case, assume that that carbon cycle was insensitive to climate, but climate still responded to CO22, then we’d see no CO2 change and zero regression. In neither case would the raw T/CO2 regression tell you what the sensitivity to CO2 alone was.

Instead, to constrain the Charney sensitivity from the ice age cycle you need to specifically extract out those long term changes (in ice sheets, vegetation, sea level etc.) and then estimate the total radiative forcing including these changes as forcing, not responses. In most assessments of this, you end up with 2.5ºC to 3ºC in response to 2xCO2. To estimate the ESS from these cycles you’d need to know what the separate impacts the CO2 and the orbital forcing had on the ice sheets, and that is not possible just from these data. Constraints on ESS have thus come from the Pliocene (3 million years ago) or even longer Cenezoic time scales – giving a range roughly 4.5ºC to 6ºC. Lunt et al (2010) and Hansen et al (2008) have good discussions of this and we discussed it here too.

The bottom line is that you can’t estimate Earth System Sensitivity solely from correlations over ice age cycles, no matter how well put together the temperature data set is.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)


As I discussed in the last post, a new paper titled, "The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism" with John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky has a number of problems, including the one where Cook falsely claimed his own work and the work of others shows there is a consensus global warming is a "global problem." Cook and his co-authors know fully well none of the work they cite shows anything of the sort.

Another issue I commented on is how the paper claims global warming "contrarians" have incoherent belief systems in which they are content to believe contradictory things. This concept is founded on a paper by Michael Wood in which he misused basic statistical tests to draw conclusions about groups of people he had 0 data for. Lewandowsky has also used this same bogus approach to statistics in papers to portray global warming skeptics are conspiracy nuts even when his subjects overwhelmingly said they didn't believe in the conspiracies he smeared them with.

A related issue to this is how these authors give specific examples of how "contrarians" supposedly contradict themselves. In the previous post, I pointed out one key problem to this - the paper cites arguments from different people. That two different "contrarians" might hold contradictory beliefs is completely uninformative. Even climate scientists hold contradictory beliefs. It's called disagreement. It's a normal part of life.

Given that, the only real basis for this paper's headline is the set of examples where an individual supposedly contradicts himself. I discussed the headline example used in the paper in that last post, but today, I'm going to discuss a few of the other ones the authors offer.

In addition to the headline example, the paper lists nine supposed contradictions in its Table 2. Three are attributed to Ian Plimer, the same person the headline example comes from. Two more are attributed to Anthony Watts and the last is attributed to John Christy. All told, there are four people said to contradict themselves. That is not an impressive sample.

It gets worse when you look at the actual examples. For instance, Monckton is said to contradict himself because one time he said this:

Warming at the very much reduced rate that measured (as opposed to merely modeled) results suggest would be 0.7-00.8 K ...at CO2 doubling. That would be harmless and beneficial

Before showing what that supposedly contradicts, I should point out looking at the source of the quote shows that typo was added by the authors of the paper. The source correctly writes "0.7-0.8 K" not "0.7-00.8 K." That doesn't matter for the idea the quote contradicts this:

Throughout most of the past half billion years, global temperatures were 7∘ C ...warmer than the present

The authors offer no explanation for how these two quotes contradict one another. Perhaps a reader could guess at what the authors were thinking, but the simple reality is believing past temperatures were significantly higher than they are now does not contradict the idea the planet would warm by less than a degree if CO2 levels in the atmosphere would double. A person who things other than CO2 have a far greater influence on temperatures may believe this without there being any contradiction.

Similarly, the authors say Monckton contradicts himself because he said:

Since late in 2001, when a naturally-occurring reduction in cloud cover that had caused rapid warming over the previous 18 years came to an end, there has been nearly a decade with virtually no change in temperature

Showing in 2010 Monckton believed there had been virtually no warming for nearly a decade. The authors claim this contradicts what he said the next year:

His GISS surface-temperature dataset, on which he bases his claims, not only suffers from insufficient adjustment for the artificial warmth given off by cities (the urban heat-island effect), but also from evidence of repeated, successive tamperings with the data from earlier decades this century so as artificially to increase the apparent overall rate of “global warming”

Again, the authors do nothing to explain how these ideas are contradictory. They are not. Believing there has been virtually no warming for about ten years in no way contradicts the idea a particular data set (GISS) suffers from data problems and inappropriate adjustments which increase the apparent rate of global warming.

The only "contradiction" is Monckton said there had been virtually no warming for about 10 years and GISS has inflated the rate of warming. That's not a contradiction though. The GISS record extends over 100 years. The rate of warming in it could be inflated even if a particular 10 year period didn't show any warming at all.

The final supposed contradiction by Monckton is he said:

...the Greenland ice sheet rests in a depression in the bedrock created by its own weight, wherefore “dynamical ice flow” is impossible, and the IPCC says that temperature would have to be sustained at more than 5.5 C above its present level for several millennia before half the Greenland ice sheet could melt


Since the warming itself has not yet brought global temperatures to the levels seen in the mediaeval warm period, when we were growing wine-grapes in Scotland and our Viking cousins were farming parts of south-western Greenland that remain under permafrost today, and since the warming has now ceased, it is nonsensical to suggest that the effects of that warming are anything other than insignificant and generally beneficial

I cannot begin to guess what the supposed contradiction here is supposed to be. Monckton says there were parts of Greenland which were used for farmland hundreds of years ago that are now covered in ice. He also says "dynamical ice flow" is impossible and it would take extreme circumstances for half of Greenland's ice sheet to melt.

None of that is contradictory. According to Monckton, hundreds of years ago when it was warmer a small part of the Greenland ice sheet (far less than the half he says would take enormous warming to melt) wasn't there, either because it had melted or hadn't existed in the first place. Colder temperature since then have caused the ice sheet to grow and cover those areas. That's not contradictory at all.

Neither is it contradictory for Anthony Watts to say:

The reality is that the Earth’s climate system is far more complex than that: It isn’t just a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, it is a dynamic ever-changing one, and climate is tremendously complex with hundreds of interactive variables and feedbacks


“Global warming” suggests a steady linear increase in temperature, but since that isn’t happening, proponents have shifted to the more universal term “climate change,” which can be liberally applied to just about anything observable in the atmosphere

Saying the earth's climate system is extremely complex cannot possibly contradict beliefs about semantic meanings and choices. What words means and which words people use cannot possibly contradict the idea our planet's climate is complex. The quotes simply have nothing to do with one another.

The next "contradiction" by Watts at least involves two quotes dealing with the same general subject. First:

As attested by a number of studies, near-surface temperature records are often affected by time-varying biases ...To address such problems, climatologists have developed various methods for detecting discontinuities in time series, characterizing and/or removing various nonclimatic biases that affect temperature records in order to obtain homogeneous data and create reliable long-term time series


In the business and trading world, people go to jail for such manipulations of data

Interestingly, the authors provide a faulty reference for the second of these quotes. I've provided the correct link just above, but this is the one the authors gave. A hyphen is missing in it.

The URL given by the authors does not have a hyphen between "hottest" and "year" like it should have. Anyone who tried to check this reference would have found it didn't work. That's a bit weird.

Anyway, there is simply no contradiction here. Simply stating climatologists have developed methods of adjusting data to "create reliable long-term time series" does not mean you believe that is okay or that in the business or trading world a person could do such without going to jail. A person can describe what other people do without endorsing it as okay. On their face, these quotes simply cannot contradict one another.

The real problem, however, is these quotes are not discussing the same thing. The authors of this paper left out important context for the interview they quoted. Here is an expanded quote:

"Is history malleable? Can temperature data of the past be molded to fit a purpose? It certainly seems to be the case here, where the temperature for July 1936 reported ... changes with the moment," Watts told FoxNews.com.

"In the business and trading world, people go to jail for such manipulations of data."

This is a reference to the fact past temperature data continuously changes. That is, rather than just look at past data for problems and fix them, the methodologies used may look at past data for problems to fix, adjust the data, then re-visit the next day and adjust it in a different way. A person can easily believe it is okay to adjust past data for problems without believing it is okay to keep adjusting that data in different ways every month, week or day.

This post is running long. I hope you'll forgive me for that. However, nearly every single "contradiction" the authors list in this table is fake, and I feel it is worth demonstrating this. People need to understand just because two quotes are placed side-by-side and labeled, "Contradictory and incoherent arguments advanced by the same individuals" does not mean the quotes are actually contradictory. For instance, when Ian Plimer is quoted as saying:

Replacement of high altitude forests by mixing with low altitude forests to create greater species diversity has happened in previous times of warming and would be expected in another warming event

This is a simple claim. If the planet warms, the habitable range for forests will increase. That would cause trees to spread into areas they hadn't been before and mixing with the trees of those areas. Because I wasted $15 on the quoted book by Plimer, I can tell you the reason he brought this up is the increase in number of species he believes this mixing would cause. His idea in no way contradicts:

Even if the planet warms due to increased atmospheric CO2, it is clear that plants will not feel the need to migrate to cooler parts of our planet

Even though the authors claim it does. Migration involves leaving one area and moving to another. That is not what happens when plants' or even animals' habitable range increases. Trees spreading to other areas while still also existing in the original area have spread out and expanded, but they haven't migrated.

That these quotes don't contradict one another should have been obvious to the editor and reviewers of this paper. For instance, this quote by Plimer:

The proof that CO2 does not drive climate is shown by previous glaciations

Cannot possibly contradict:

The global warmth of the Cretaceous has been attributed to elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere

That Plimer says past warmth "has been attributed to elevated levels of CO2" in no way means he believes that attribution is correct. In fact, anyone who is unfortunate enough to waste money buying this terrible book will find Plimer followed that statement by saying:

However, there are some suggestions that the Cretaceous climate was decoupled from the CO2 content of the atmosphere.

The authors of this paper conveniently leave that out though. Because they do, their readers won't know Plimer said some people have attributed past warmth to CO2 levels while other people disagree. They'll just think he said some people have attributed past warmth to CO2 levels.

There are still two more entries in this table, and I don't think either constitutes an actual contradiction. I think this post has ran on long enough though, and the last two examples are a bit murkier. I'll let you readers examine them for yourselves. Before I go though, I want to highlight a remarkable detail of what the source of one of the remaining quotes used is. You can find it here:

Based on emails from both Steven Sherwood and John Christy, and based on Carl Mears’ blogpost, I can report that all three agree that

1) Yes, amplified warming in the tropical troposphere is expected.

And that

2) No, the hot spot in the tropics is not specific to a greenhouse mechanism.

Notice that I changed the wording of question/statement 2 here, because the word “fingerprint” was interpreted differently by John Christy than how we meant it.

In his email to us, John Christy wrote regarding Q1: “Yes, the hot spot is expected via the traditional view that the lapse rate feedback operates on both short and long time scales.” Regarding Q2 he wrote: “it [the hot spot] is broader than just the enhanced greenhouse effect because any thermal forcing should elicit a response such as the “expected” hot spot.” Further elaborations in the email exchange, e.g. regarding whether to call this a fingerprint, involved interpretations as to the meaning of (a lack of) a hot spot, which we will defer for the moment.

The next issue that we’ll take up is encapsulated in Q3:

3) Is there a significant difference between modelled and observed amplification of surface trends in the tropical troposphere (i.e. between the modelled and the observed hot spot)?

That is a comment on a blog post by one Bart Verheggen. Verheggen has not been mentioned in this post. The reason is this "contradiction" is supposedly by John Christy. Verheggen's quote is used as a source because his comment says, "In his email to us, John Christy wrote...."

Yes, that's right. John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky published a paper claiming global warming "contrarians" contradict themselves in which they rely on sources like secondhand quotes from people provided by commenters on blog sites. In any realm other than science, that would be considered hearsay.


The Media Was Totally WRONG Predicting Global Warming Would Cause This Island ‘To Vanish’

Rolling Stone Magazine published a lengthy write-up of the national security dangers of global warming in 2015, and claimed the strategically located Diego Garcia atoll was “sure to vanish” as sea levels rose.

A recent study, however, completely contradicts that claim and casts doubt on other predictions global warming-induced sea level rise will swallow up whole islands and force thousands to  leave their homes.

“If rising oceans are indeed linked to global warming and are a force to be reckoned with, then the oft-described (by climate alarmists) unprecedented global warming and sea level rise of the past few decades should surely have made their mark on these low-lying land areas by now,” reads a blog post on science site CO2 Science.

“But is this really the case?” asks the blog run by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a group chaired by climate researcher Dr. Craig Idso.

CO2 Science cited a recent study spearheaded by scientists with the National Coral Reef Institute in Dania Beach, Fla. Their study found that while Diego Garcia’s physical coastline has changed over the past five decades, the island’s net area has not.

Researchers found, “the amount of erosion on Diego Garcia over the last 50 years is almost exactly balanced by the amount of accretion, suggesting the island to be in a state of equilibrium.”

“[T]he areas of shoreline erosion and extension bear little relationship to prevailing ocean climate, a finding which should guard against attempts to predict sites of future land loss through natural processes.”

In other words, the island hasn’t really shrunk, despite a reported sea level rise of five millimeters per year. The study comes more than a year after Rolling Stone said the Indian Ocean atoll was “sure to vanish.”

“The U.S. naval base on Diego Garcia, a small coral atoll in the Indian Ocean, like the nearby Maldives, is sure to vanish,” Rolling Stone reported in 2015 in a lengthy article on how global warming will overwhelm U.S. military bases.

Diego Garcia still has a military installation and played a key role during the Cold War in keeping a U.S. presence in the region. It also protected shipping lanes coming out of the Middle East.

Rolling Stone put Diego Garcia on a long list of military bases vulnerable to global warming. The magazine published the article just one month after President Barack Obama linked global warming to national security in his State of the Union address.

“The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security,” Obama said. “We should act like it.”

Obama has been sounding the alarm on global warming and national security for years. His Pentagon has called it a “threat multiplier,” warning that extreme weather could help topple unstable governments and spur refugee crises.

Indeed, scientists and environmentalists often point to island nations some of the world’s first “climate refugees.” Fiji, Kiribati and other islands are begging rich countries for aid and even a place to resettle should sea levels overwhelm them.

But Rolling Stone’s prediction Diego Garcia will “vanish” may be overblown, if recent research holds.

“It delivers is a damming indictment of alarmist projections of low-lying island demise in response to CO2-induced global warming,” CO2 science reported.

Studies are mixed on the fate of low-lying island nations.

A study by scientists from Australia and New Zealand found that despite the 33-island Funafuti Atoll seeing “some of the highest rates of sea-level rise… over the past 60 [years],” the island chain has actually grown in size.

“Despite the magnitude of this rise, no islands have been lost, the majority have enlarged, and there has been a 7.3% increase in net island area over the past century (A.D. 1897–2013),” reads the study on the South Pacific islands. “There is no evidence of heightened erosion over the past half-century as sea-level rise accelerated.”

The Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands saw accelerated sea level rise since 2000, sparking concerns the island would soon be swallowed up by the seas.

Sea level rise rapidly decelerated in recent years, and the atoll seemed to be going through an El Nino-sparked trend — as opposed to an accelerating trend from global warming.

“It’s obvious that the apparent acceleration in sea-level at Kwajalein was transient, and did not indicate the beginning of an accelerating trend in sea-level rise,” Anthony Watts, a veteran meteorologist, wrote in March.

“To me, it looks like sea-level at Kwajalein is inversely correlated with ENSO. When the current El Niño ends, so will the current dip in sea-level at Kwajalein, probably,” Watts wrote.


Germany’s All-Time Record High Set In 2015 Looks Dubious …Likely Due To UHI / Instrumentation Error

At the Germany-based European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE), Helmut Kuntz writes that Germany’s all-time record high temperature recorded last year, 2015, is likely an artifact of the urban heat island effect (UHI) and instrumentation error margins.

In 2015 the Kitzingen weather station located in southern Germany set a new all-time high when it reached 40.3°C — twice: on July 5 and August 7 — breaking the earlier record of 40.2°C set on 27 July 1983 in Gärmersdorf. The whopping margin: a whole 0.1°C! Photo right: Kitzingen station.

So why is Kitzingen suddenly so hot?

EIKE guest writer Josef Kowatsch has often claimed that the UHI has played a major role in producing the warming effect over the past decades. Recently that claim got a boost of support from University of Wurzburg climate researcher Prof. Heiko Paeth, who in an interview with MAIN POST daily here on September 7, 2016, stated that it likely has more to do with station siting then it does with a climate trend.

According to Prof. Paeth, the high reading can be traced back to Kitzingen having certain special features.

First the town of Kitzingen is located at a relatively low elevation some 20 km east of Wurzburg — situated in the Main Valley at the bottom of a sort of a bowl where heat can collect.

Secondly, he tells the MAIN POST that fresh, westerly winds that normally act to cool Germany in the summertime have been obstructed by a commercial district built not long ago where once a US base had been located. The Main Post writes:

What remains is an obstacle for the air flow from the west. The town has blocked off its fresh air feed-in duct, says Paeth. ‘That could be an explanation for the heat.'”


Grinding westerners under the federal boot

The federal government owns an estimated one-third of all the land in the United States. But this is only a rough estimate, because even the federal government does not actually know how much land it controls.

For those living on the East Coast who rarely encounter federal land, this may not seem like an important issue, but in western states, the vast amounts of land owned or controlled by the federal government are among the most important issues that states must face.

And the Obama administration is using the power of that land ownership to grind westerners under the federal boot, a kind of neo-feudalism where an absentee landlord federal government keeps western states and the citizens who live there as vassals and serfs.

Federal land ownership is heavily concentrated in the western states: in the 13 states west of Texas, the federal government owns or administers more than half of all land. In San Juan County, Utah, for example, only 8 percent of the land is privately owned, with only another 8 percent owned by the state of Utah.

And this land is overwhelmingly not used for national parks or military bases, which only amount to about 12 percent of federal land nationwide, and just 10 percent in San Juan County.

Federal lands are administered by a constellation of federal bureaus and agencies — with sometimes overlapping ownership and regulatory responsibilities — which compete to restrict and harass the people who live on or near federally controlled land.

Often already poor, western counties that contain federal land are deprived of tax revenues from those lands, leaving even less revenue to provide basic services to their citizens. Life in much of the West is a constant struggle with the federal bureaucracy simply to live and work.

While the oppressive burden of federal land is not a new issue in the West, the Obama administration — often in service to its far-left environmentalist allies — has taken a particularly aggressive and destructive attitude toward life in the West.

The Interior Department, in particular, has repeatedly sought to restrict or eliminate agricultural activities and energy development on federally administered land. In rural western counties like San Juan County, these industries often are the only sources of decent-paying jobs.

These federal efforts have frequently been stymied by litigation or the intervention of western members of Congress seeking to protect their constituents.

Rather than be deterred, however, the Obama administration has reached for a tool beyond the power of the courts or Congress known as the Antiquities Act. This act, passed in 1906, allows the president to unilaterally designate so-called national monuments to protect antiquities or historic sites.

In areas designated national monuments, productive activities are heavily restricted or even banned. These are precisely the sorts of restrictions that federal agencies have been prevented from imposing through traditional means.

Last year, Garfield County, Utah, declared a state of emergency owing to restrictive federal land-management policies, particularly stemming from the Grand Staircase National Monument designation declared by President Clinton in 1996, which was done without consultation or notification of local Utahans.

Twenty years later, timber harvesting has been eliminated, livestock are being pushed off the range, and mineral development has ceased. In an ominous sign for the future health of the community, the county has seen school enrollment plunge by 67 percent since the monument designation, leaving the county struggling to afford to keep schools open.

San Juan County, one of the poorest counties in the country and adjacent to Garfield County, is the next target of these anti-development monument-makers. Not content with the economic damage to southern Utah that resulted from the previous monument designation, radical environmentalists are lobbying for the creation of another massive monument in San Juan County to be called Bears Ears.

The Antiquities Act specifically notes that designated monuments should be confined to the smallest possible area to protect the targeted antiquities. The proposed Bear Ears monument would cover nearly 2 million acres, about the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

It is laughable to pretend that this huge area is needed to protect antiquities. Rather it’s yet another step in the crusade by radical environmentalists to put as much land off limits to productive use as possible, a pattern that is repeated all across the western states.

These national monument designations are just regulation by another means. Though couched in the flowery language of conservation, monument designations are about the raw exercise of presidential power, seizing control of land without regard to the impact on the affected states and citizens.

Feudalism was abolished in Europe hundreds of years ago. The Obama administration should learn from history and abandon its neo-feudalism in the West.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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