Monday, May 18, 2009

The Gulf stream is broken

Well, not quite. But the ocean circulation of which it forms a part has been found to be much more complex than the Warmist models allow for:

News has come that the famed ocean conveyor belt, subject of countless TV documentaries and science lessons, is not as simple as scientists believed. The 50 year old model of global ocean circulation that predicts a deep Atlantic counter current below the Gulf Stream has been called into question by an armada of drifting subsurface sensors. As shocking as this news is to oceanographers it is even worse for climate modelers—it means that all the current climate prediction models are significantly wrong.

It is known by many names: the meridional overturning current (MOC), the thermohaline circulation (THC), and, popularly, the great ocean conveyor belt. It has been the subject of study by oceanographers for half a century and is known to be a fundamentally important part of earthly climate regulation. It is the primary mechanism for transferring heat from the tropics to higher latitudes, the proximate reason that the occasional palm tree grows on the south coast of England. Until now, scientists thought they had a pretty good handle on how the current flows, the mechanisms that drive the circulation and affect climate world wide.

A new report by Amy Bower of Wood’s Hole and Susan Lozier of Duke University et al., to be published in a forthcoming issue of Nature, has rocked the climate community's complacency. A bevy of subsurface RAFOS floats, drifting 2200 – 4900 feet (700 – 1500 m) deep, have shown several fundamental assumptions about the structure of the current to be wrong. RAFOS floats (SOFAR spelled backward) are floating instruments designed to move with the water and track the water's movements. It seems that 75% of the RAFOS floats escaped the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC) and drifted into open ocean. Only 8% of the RAFOS floats followed the DWBC conveyor belt current, according to the Nature report.

This confirms suspicions that that first began surfacing in the 1990’s, that things were not quite as neat and simple as oceanographers had thought. Earlier observations had led to the widely held view that the DWBC is the dominant pathway for the export of cold Labrador Sea Water (LSW) from its formation site in the northern North Atlantic towards the Equator. The new findings indicate that instead of the single, orderly current flow previously envisioned that the conveyor belt is actually comprised of many slower, more variable and possibly wandering eddies in the interior ocean. Quoting from the report:

"Here we show that most of the recently ventilated LSW entering the subtropics follows interior, not DWBC, pathways. The interior pathways are revealed by trajectories of subsurface RAFOS floats released during the period 2003–2005 that recorded once-daily temperature, pressure and acoustically determined position for two years, and by model-simulated 'e-floats' released in the subpolar DWBC. The evidence points to a few specific locations around the Grand Banks where LSW is most often injected into the interior. These results have implications for deep ocean ventilation and suggest that the interior subtropical gyre should not be ignored when considering the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation".

Triggered by a bunch of drifting ocean monitoring instruments, this new revelation represents a major paradigm shift in ocean circulation theory. Even more dramatic is the impact on current ocean circulation models, major components of the general circulation models (GCM) used to predict climate change. To understand how global climate changes in response to natural and human generated changes, it is essential to determine how quickly and by what pathways climate change signals are transported throughout the global ocean. Ocean currents not only redistribute surface warmth, the oceans themselves are a vast reservoir for heat and carbon dioxide, affecting both short term and long term climate change.

“Everybody always thought this deep flow operated like a conveyor belt, but what we are saying is that concept doesn't hold anymore,” said Duke oceanographer Susan Lozier. “So it's going to be more difficult to measure these climate change signals in the deep ocean.”

This has been a particularly disquieting week for the climate change establishment, with new discoveries regarding the importance of aerosols' impact on sea surface temperatures (SST) and cloud formation, and the halving of predicted sea-level increases due to ice sheet melting coupled with predictions of significant change in Earth's gravity field and rotational axis if Antarctica even partially melts. Add the news regarding the THC and one has to ask, how many revelations of erroneous assumptions are necessary before climate modelers admit that their computer programs are incapable of accurately predicting future climate change?

Climate skeptics are sometimes accused of selectively interpreting scientific data in order to bolster their case against anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The term used is “cherry picking.” When a theory makes certain predictions it is totally acceptable, even obligatory, to investigate those predictions. When a theory is based on certain fundamental assumptions regarding underlying science it is perfectly logical to question that theory when its underlying assumptions are shown to be in error. This is not cherry picking, it is how science works. It may discomfort those who complacently believe in the “consensus view” of AGW, but that is of no importance to science.

In this blog I have showcased a dozen or more scientific papers that end with a statement saying “the climate models need to take this into account,” or words to that effect. Time after time the theory of global warming and the models it rests on have been shown to be lacking. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in large, fundamental ways (as is the case here) holes in the AGW theory keep appearing. The IPCC and the climate modeling crowd have constructed complex models of a chaotic system based on incomplete and erroneous assumptions —they have built a house of cards and asked us all to move in without checking the soundness of the foundation. Thankfully, anthropogenic global warming is dying the death of a thousand cuts —this is often the fate of flawed theories.

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Black Carbon and climate: Something else that the IPCC "forgot"

Black carbon, or soot, has been recognised as a pollutant for many generations. When coal was the main fuel for domestic heating and cooking, urban landscapes were shaded black, and it is only the last few generations which have been able to see the natural colour of famous buildings, previously often covered in a layer of soot. Readers of a certain age may also remember the inside of King’s college chapel, Cambridge, as black from the smoke of candles used to light it since the sixteenth century. But for European city-dwellers, this is now history. Coal has long been replaced by gas, electricity or coke in the home. And with coal gone, so has the soot.

Not so for hundreds of millions of poor people in developing countries. For them, wood or dung are the primary fuels for cooking stoves, often used indoors. It has long been recognised that this is a major contributor to respiratory disease, particularly among women and young children, who spend most time near the fires. But, ironically, it may take concerns about global warming for serious progress to be made.

A recent New York Times article makes the point in its headline: “Third-world stove soot is target in climate fight”. Although it mentions in passing the health benefit of replacing traditional stoves by cleaner, more efficient ones, the article is the first in a series (By Degrees) about “stopgap measures which could limit global warming”, so the main focus is clear.

Apart from the direct localised pollution caused by smoky fires, black carbon has a direct warming effect on the air when suspended in the atmosphere, and also contributes to melting of glaciers and polar ice by settling on the surface and changing its albedo. According to the article, recent research suggests that soot may be responsible for 18% of global warming, compared to 40% for carbon dioxide. And the effect on Arctic ice may be even more marked: black carbon could account for 40% of the loss.

Given the certainty of so many scientists that they understand the drivers of climate change, and that carbon dioxide dominates, it is sobering to note that the last IPCC Assessment Report, published just two years ago, makes no mention of the significant effect of soot. Moving from certainty that all drivers were accounted for to suddenly finding a basic 18% error is not calculated to build confidence in the state of knowledge. But the effect of black carbon now seems to be generally acknowledged, as witnessed by the recent unprecedented agreement of both climate activists and sceptics in the US Senate to instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to make a study of options to reduce levels of soot entering the atmosphere.

The problem is that, if climate modellers have completely left out a factor which appears to account for nearly one fifth of climate change, what else might they have overlooked or underestimated? The obvious answer is the role of the Sun, where most mainstream scientists dismiss the changes in total radiance as trivial in climate terms, while many sceptics insist that its effect is far more complex and significant than that. They also point to the well-established historical correlation between sun-spot numbers and weather patterns. Periods of low activity correlate with poor harvests and high food prices due to cooler weather in mid-latitudes. Since the Sun is now entering a period of extremely low activity, we can expect to see its influence on the weather over the next decade or so if a causative correlation is valid.

For policymakers, the attraction of targeting black carbon reductions to influence climate is that it does not build up in the atmosphere: once soot production is reduced, the amount in the air goes down quite quickly. So something can be done which can be expected to have an almost immediate impact. The pity is that this is the motivator for change, but if the end result is better health for subsistence farmers, then the policy is guaranteed to do some good.


The coming ice age

By David Deming (David Deming is a geophysicist and associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma)

Those who ignore the geologic perspective do so at great risk. In fall of 1985, geologists warned that a Columbian volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, was getting ready to erupt. But the volcano had been dormant for 150 years. So government officials and inhabitants of nearby towns did not take the warnings seriously. On the evening of November 13, Nevado del Ruiz erupted, triggering catastrophic mudslides. In the town of Armero, 23,000 people were buried alive in a matter of seconds.

For ninety percent of the last million years, the normal state of the Earth's climate has been an ice age. Ice ages last about 100,000 years, and are punctuated by short periods of warm climate, or interglacials. The last ice age started about 114,000 years ago. It began instantaneously. For a hundred-thousand years, temperatures fell and sheets of ice a mile thick grew to envelop much of North America, Europe and Asia. The ice age ended nearly as abruptly as it began. Between about 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, the temperature in Greenland rose more than 50 °F.

We don't know what causes ice ages to begin or end. In 1875, a janitor turned geologist, James Croll, proposed that small variations in Earth's orbit around the Sun were responsible for climate change. This idea enjoyed its greatest heyday during the 1970s, when ocean sediment cores appeared to confirm the theory. But in 1992, Ike Winograd and his colleagues at the US Geological Survey falsified the theory by demonstrating that its predictions were inconsistent with new, high-quality data.

The climate of the ice ages is documented in the ice layers of Greenland and Antarctica. We have cored these layers, extracted them, and studied them in the laboratory. Not only were ice ages colder than today, but the climates were considerably more variable. Compared to the norm of the last million years, our climate is remarkably warm, stable and benign. During the last ice age in Greenland abrupt climatic swings of 30 °F were common. Since the ice age ended, variations of 3 °F are uncommon.

For thousands of years, people have learned from experience that cold temperatures are detrimental for human welfare and warm temperatures are beneficial. From about 1300 to 1800 AD, the climate cooled slightly during a period known as the Little Ice Age. In Greenland, the temperature fell by about 4 °F. Although trivial, compared to an ice age cooling of 50 °F, this was nevertheless sufficient to wipe out the Viking colony there.

In northern Europe, the Little Ice Age kicked off with the Great Famine of 1315. Crops failed due to cold temperatures and incessant rain. Desperate and starving, parents ate their children, and people dug up corpses from graves for food. In jails, inmates instantly set upon new prisoners and ate them alive.

The Great Famine was followed by the Black Death, the greatest disaster ever to hit the human race. One-third of the human race died; terror and anarchy prevailed. Human civilization as we know it is only possible in a warm interglacial climate. Short of a catastrophic asteroid impact, the greatest threat to the human race is the onset of another ice age.

The oscillation between ice ages and interglacial periods is the dominant feature of Earth's climate for the last million years. But the computer models that predict significant global warming from carbon dioxide cannot reproduce these temperature changes. This failure to reproduce the most significant aspect of terrestrial climate reveals an incomplete understanding of the climate system, if not a nearly complete ignorance.

Global warming predictions by meteorologists are based on speculative, untested, and poorly constrained computer models. But our knowledge of ice ages is based on a wide variety of reliable data, including cores from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. In this case, it would be perspicacious to listen to the geologists, not the meteorologists. By reducing our production of carbon dioxide, we risk hastening the advent of the next ice age. Even more foolhardy and dangerous is the Obama administration's announcement that they may try to cool the planet through geoengineering. Such a move in the middle of a cooling trend could provoke the irreversible onset of an ice age. It is not hyperbole to state that such a climatic change would mean the end of human civilization as we know it.

Earth's climate is controlled by the Sun. In comparison, every other factor is trivial. The coldest part of the Little Ice Age during the latter half of the seventeenth century was marked by the nearly complete absence of sunspots. And the Sun now appears to be entering a new period of quiescence. August of 2008 was the first month since the year 1913 that no sunspots were observed. As I write, the sun remains quiet. We are in a cooling trend. The areal extent of global sea ice is above the twenty-year mean.

We have heard much of the dangers of global warming due to carbon dioxide. But the potential danger of any potential anthropogenic warming is trivial compared to the risk of entering a new ice age. Public policy decisions should be based on a realistic appraisal that takes both climate scenarios into consideration.


Eco house fails even before it opens

'Breakthrough Technology’ or broken technology?

It was supposed to be a shining example of the green movement — a completely independent solar-powered house with no gas or electrical hookups. Seven months ago, officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $900,000 house owned by the city of Troy that was to be used as an educational tool and meeting spot. But it never opened to the public. And it remains closed. "It is disappointing that we can't tour, but the summit will still be of great value. I don't think it's reflective of the technology."

Frozen pipes during the winter caused $16,000 in damage to floors, and city officials aren't sure when the house at the Troy Community Center will open. "It's not safe right now, and there's no estimated opening time because it depends on when we can get funding," said Carol Anderson, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

That surprised the Oakland County Planning and Economic Development Department, which advertised tours of the house for its Tuesday Oakland County Green Summit. "No, I didn't know anything about it," said Steve Huber, spokesman for county planning. Bret Rasegnan, planning supervisor for the department, said the solar tours have been removed from the finalized agenda for the summit.


Comment on the above:

Troy, Michigan, is in my Detroit backyard and the troubles of the celebrated Troy solar house (dubbed ALOeTERRA, which means “to nourish the earth,” natch) that Greg Pollowitz reported above are noteworthy for a number of reasons.

The first is that this anti-global-warming temple’s closure is due to water damage caused by frozen pipes — a result of 2009’s record-cold Michigan winter.

The house is also one of “breakthrough technologies” that Energy Sec. Chu is targeting with DOE’s new, $400 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (see here). In fact, the house — designed by a Lawrence Tech University (Mich.) team — was the winner of an alternative energy competition, the Solar Decathlon, which already receives substantial funding from the DOE.

The house, reports green-friendly Metromode, is billed “as a showcase on how regular people can conserve energy in housing.” But at $900,000, this 800-square-foot green house is hardly in the price range of “regular folk.”

Of course, building a solar house in a state that is in winter overcast six months out of the year might seem a tad ambitious. But its green builders promised that the home’s full-roof solar panels would not only provide electricity, but also charge a home battery system that would store energy for all heating needs.

Or not.


Indiana Says 'No Thanks' to Carbon trading

No honest person thinks this will make a dent in climate change

This week Congress is set to release the details of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that purports to combat global warming by setting strict limits on carbon emissions. I'm not a candidate for any office -- now or ever again -- and I've approached the "climate change" debate with an open-mind. But it's clear to me that the nation, and in particular Indiana, my home state, will be terribly disserved by this cap-and-trade policy on the verge of passage in the House.

The largest scientific and economic questions are being addressed by others, so I will confine myself to reporting about how all this looks from the receiving end of the taxes, restrictions and mandates Congress is now proposing.

Quite simply, it looks like imperialism. This bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering powers -- California, Massachusetts and New York -- seeking to exploit politically weaker colonies in order to prop up their own decaying economies. Because proceeds from their new taxes, levied mostly on us, will be spent on their social programs while negatively impacting our economy, we Hoosiers decline to submit meekly.

The Waxman-Markey legislation would more than double electricity bills in Indiana. Years of reform in taxation, regulation and infrastructure-building would be largely erased at a stroke. In recent years, Indiana has led the nation in capturing international investment, repatriating dollars spent on foreign goods or oil and employing Americans with them. Waxman-Markey seems designed to reverse that flow. "Closed: Gone to China" signs would cover Indiana's stores and factories.

Our state's share of national income has been slipping for decades, but it is offset in part by living costs some 8% lower than the national average. Doubled utility bills for low-income Hoosiers would be an especially cruel consequence of the Waxman bill. Forgive us for not being impressed at danglings of welfare-like repayments to some of those still employed, with some fraction of the dollars extracted from our state.

And for what? No honest estimate pretends to suggest that a U.S. cap-and-trade regime will move the world's thermometer by so much as a tenth of a degree a half century from now. My fellow citizens are being ordered to accept impoverishment for a policy that won't save a single polar bear.

We are told that although China, India and others show no signs of joining in this dismal process, we will eventually induce their participation by "setting an example." Watching the impending indigence of the Midwest, and the flow of jobs from our shores to theirs, our friends in Asia and the Third World are far more likely to choose any other path but ours.

Politicians in Washington speak of a reawakened appreciation for manufacturing and American competitiveness. But under their policy, those who make real products will suffer. Already we observe the piranha swarm of green lobbyists wangling special exemptions, subsidies and side deals. The ordinary Hoosier was not invited to this party, and can expect at most only table scraps at the service entrance.

No one in Indiana is arguing for the status quo: Hoosiers have been eager to pursue a new energy future. We rocketed from nowhere to national leadership in biofuels production in the last four years. We were the No. 1 state in the growth of wind power in 2008. And we have embarked on an aggressive energy-conservation program, indubitably the most cost-effective means of limiting CO2.

Most importantly, we are out to be the world leader in making clean coal -- including the potential for carbon capture and sequestration. The world's first commercial-scale clean coal power plant is under construction in our state, and the first modern coal-to-natural gas plant is coming right behind it. We eagerly accept the responsibility to develop alternatives to the punitive, inequitable taxation of cap and trade.

Our president has commendably committed himself to "government that works." But his imperial climate-change policy is government that cannot work, and we humble colonials out here in the provinces have no choice but to petition for relief from the Crown's impositions.


Our Nobel Prize Moron

By Alan Caruba

I know you’re thinking the title refers to Al Gore, but no, it belongs to Paul Krugman, an economist best known as a New York Times columnist, and winner in 2008 of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science. He is widely regarded as an expert in international economics and has very impressive curriculum vitae. By all the standards of our times, the man is a genius.

Anyone who has worked for an institution of higher learning as I once did soon loses his awe of PhDs. Their expertise is usually very narrow. The intellectual hot house which they share also includes immense pressure to demonstrate through research and publication that they are productive. There is a herd mentality and some vicious politics that goes on as well.

Krugman may know about economics, otherwise known as the “dismal science” because I suspect the capacity to be very wrong is equal to or greater than the chance of getting things right. Most certainly, his May 15 column, based on a trip to China demonstrated he knows nothing about meteorology, climatology, the science of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Nobel Prize winner demonstrated what a moron he is when he strayed into the usual discredited blather associated with “global warming.” He spouts the nonsense about greenhouse gas emissions like some Red Guard reading from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.

“The scientific consensus on prospect for global warming,” wrote Klugman, “has become much more pessimistic over the last few years.” Firstly, the Greens have been predicting global warming since the 1980s, always concluding it was due to arrive ten, fifteen, twenty or fifty years from now. This is usually a good indicator of how flawed and false such predictions actually are.

Second, there is no such thing as a scientific “consensus” about global warming, unless you include the growing consensus that it is a huge scam designed to further a hidden agenda to destroy the economies of industrialized nations.

In March I attended the 2nd annual Climate Change Conference sponsored by The Heartland Institute. It was wall-to-wall seminars by climatologists and others demonstrating why carbon dioxide in particular plays no role whatever in determining the Earth’s climate trends and never did.

But for Klugman, like Al Gore, facts are of no value when writing about global warming. “Indeed, the latest projects from reputable climate scientists border on the apocalyptic. Why? Because the rate at which greenhouse gas emissions are rising is matching or exceeding the worst-case scenarios.”

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Since carbon dioxide, a gas as vital as oxygen to all life on earth, plays no role in climate change, this assertion is just a regurgitation of Al Gore’s boldfaced lies. As to worst-case scenarios, that is the stock-in-trade of the Greens who conjured up the global warming hoax. It is based entirely on flawed and deceptive computer models.

The Earth has been cooling for the past ten years and, given the low activity of the Sun, the primary determinant of the Earth’s climate and temperature, solar scientists and others are predicting we could be on the cusp of a new little ice age or worse---a full-scale ice age that will render civilization’s short rise moot as nations find themselves buried under miles of ice for the next 100,000 years until the next interglacial period. It is, quite simply, colder everywhere.

Krugman’s main criticism of China, where he had visited prior to writing his column, was that “In January, China announced that it plans to continue its reliance on coal as its main energy source and that to feed its economic growth it will increase coal production 30 percent by 2015.” Good for China! I wish that the United States would permit, nay encourage, coal-fired plants to provide the electricity we will need by 2015 and beyond.

The opposite, however, is happening in the United States which has elected a President who’s on record saying he’d prefer to “bankrupt” any company that dared to build a coal-fired plant. Meanwhile, coal is the source of just over 50 percent of all the electricity we currently use!

If the U.S. continues to refuse to permit more coal-fired plants and continues to delay the building of more nuclear plants, we will not have the energy the economy needs to grow and Americans will begin to experience blackouts and brownouts like the banana republic we shall surely become.

Krugman was annoyed that the Chinese, more than a billion of them, seem to believe they have as much right to a lifestyle similar to ours, most of which was built on the availability of cheap energy and remains dependent on its affordability. If Congress passes the insane “cap and trade” emissions legislation, it will crash the nation’s economy. And they know it!

“The burden should fall,” wrote Krugman, “on those foreign consumers instead, that shoppers who buy Chinese products should pay a ‘carbon tariff’ that reflects the emissions associated with these goods’ production.” So, instead of benefiting from affordable Chinese exports, Americans should pay more for something—global warming—that is not happening and punish China and themselves in the process.

It just gets worse from that point on as Krugman writes that, “Sooner than most people think, countries that refuse to limit their greenhouse gas emissions will face sanctions, probably in the form of taxes on their exports.”

Great! That’s just what we need with China, a trade war! If this is the best a Nobel Prize winning economist has to offer then the process of destroying our economy is already under way. Lesser mortals will instantly identify his remedies as idiotic.



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 is a mirror of this site here.


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