Monthly Archives: December 2008

Issue Advocacy By The UK Met Office And The University Of East Anglia

Staff at the UK Met Office and the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom continue to communicate erroneous information on the changes of heat content within the climate system. On December 30 2008, the UK Met Office website published the news article

Pacific continues to influence climate

The article reads in part

2009 is expected to be one of the top-five warmest years on record, despite continued cooling of huge areas of the tropical Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon known as La Niña.

According to climate scientists at the Met Office and the University of East Anglia the global temperature is forecast to be more than 0.4 °C above the long-term average. This would make 2009 warmer than the year just gone and the warmest since 2005.

During La Niña, cold waters rise to the surface to cool the ocean and land surface temperatures. The 2009 forecast includes an updated decadal forecast using a Met Office climate model. This indicates a rapid return of global temperature to the long-term warming trend, with an increasing probability of record temperatures after 2009.

Professor Chris Folland from the Met Office Hadley Centre said: “Phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña have a significant influence on global surface temperature. Warmer conditions in 2009 are expected because the strong cooling influence of the recent powerful La Niña has given way to a weaker La Niña. Further warming to record levels is likely once a moderate El Niño develops.”

These cyclical influences can mask underlying warming trends as Professor Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, explains: “The fact that 2009, like 2008, will not break records does not mean that global warming has gone away. What matters is the underlying rate of warming – the period 2001-2007, with an average of 14.44 °C, was 0.21 °C warmer than corresponding values for the period 1991-2000.”

Until and unless the major weather and climate groups can more accurately present accurate global warming/cooling assessments, the news media will continue to miscommunicate reality to the public and policymakers, as discussed, for example, in the Climate Science weblog Erroneous News Article In The Times. As I wrote in that weblog

The writers of the Time article, and other journalists who write similar misinformation, damage the liklihood of responsible environmental actions as a result of their overstatement and erroneous communication to the public and policymakers of climate science.”

This communication of misinformation is not isolated to the media but is embedded within the climate science community, as illustrated by the December 30 2008 UK news release. Indeed, to assume that a La Niña can mask warming that otherwise would occur ignores the obvious that the La Niña is an integral part of the climate. Its controls on the global average temperature illustrate that other effects besides the radiative effect of added CO2 exert a major influence on the climate system.

Finally, the documentation that the UK Met Office is working as a political advocate is obvious from their webite. For example, they write (see)

“The Met Office offers world-leading expertise to help you make strategic decisions about weather and climate change impacts. We offer an understanding of the future through risk analysis and long-range forecasting, enabling you to make better informed decisions.”

and (see) where their training overview writes

“The scientific evidence is overwhelming — our climate is warming. These changes will affect all organisations.

To plan effectively for the future, influencers and decision-makers in Government and the public sector need to understand how the climate will change and how this may impact their organisation. The new Met Office climate change seminars will equip you with the knowledge of climate change you need to:

  • Make the best decisions for your organisation, so that the plans you make today safeguard your future success in a changing climate.
  • Using the latest research from the world-leading Met Office Hadley Centre – the authoritative voice on climate change – our seminars will build an understanding of why and how our climate is changing and the likely impacts.
  • Focusing on how we can plan for the future, our seminars also explore some of the options available for organisations to reduce (mitigate) and prepare for (adapt to) climate change.

What you’ll learn

By the end of our seminars, you will:

  • understand why and how our climate is changing and the likely impacts
  • be equipped to dispel scepticism about climate change in your organisation and ensure your colleagues’ engagement
  • know the steps you need to take to factor climate change into the decisions you make for your organisation

Who should attend

This seminar is designed for professionals in Government and the public sector. It’s particularly appropriate for those with responsibility for, or interest in, planning, projects and policies. No prior scientific training is required.”

The UK Met Office would benefit by reading the book The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics by Roger A. Pielke Jr. in order to recognize that they are clearly “Issue Advocates” rather than a government agency that is presenting the diversity of perspectives on the climate issue to policymakers and the public.

 

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Erroneous News Article In The Times

Thanks to Andrew Forster of Local Transport Today in the UK for alerting us to the erroneous news article from the Times on December 27 2008 titled

The war on carbon – Arguments of 2009: Can Copenhagen save the planet?

An excerpt reads,

“The stakes at Copenhagen could not be much higher. Global surface temperatures have risen by a tolerable three quarters of a degree celsius over the past century, but the rate of increase is accelerating. The Kyoto Protocol has had negligible impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and projections for the mean global temperature rise in the next century range from 1.1 to 6.4 degrees. Whether fast or very fast, the Earth is heating up.

There will be continued argument about the science of climate change over the next 12 months, but not, except on the conspiratorial fringe, about the threat. Climate change is real and worsening, and there is an overwhelming likelihood that much of it is man-made.”

This is a erroneous report on the climate system! The rate of increase is NOT accelerating. There is absolutely no question that global warming has stopped for at least 4 years (using upper ocean data) ; e.g see

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.
http://www.climatesci.org/publications/pdf/R-334.pdf

and over 7 years using lower tropospheric data; e.g. see

Figure 7 TLT in http://www.ssmi.com/msu/msu_data_description.html.

With respect to the surface temperature trends [which have a warm bias in any case, as we have documented in our peer review papers; e.g. see], a good set of analyses on this subject has been posted over the last few years at http://rankexploits.com/musings/ [you should scroll back over the last several months to view; it is an excellent comparison with model predictions]. As discussed on that website, even with the warm biased global average surface temperature trends, the models have over-predicted warming. The GISS data itself even shows recent cooling in the ocean sea surface temperatures [see their figure for Monthly-Mean Global Sea Surface Temperature; http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2008/ where it has cooled since 2002.

The writers of the Times article, and other journalists who write similar misinformation, damage the likelihood of responsible environmental actions as a result of their overstatement and erroneous communication to the public and policymakers of climate science.

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“Forecasting the Future of Hurricanes” by Anna Barratt In Nature

There was a recent Nature news article

Barratt, A., 2008: Forecasting the future of hurricanes. Nature News. Published online December 11, 2008. doi:10.1038/news.2008.1298.

The article is  titled

A meteorologist’s new model zooms in on how climate change affects Atlantic storms.

by Anna Barnett

“The world’s most advanced simulation of extreme weather on a warming Earth completed its first run on 5 December. Greg Holland at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, is leading the project, which nests detailed regional forecasts into a model of global climate change up to the mid-21st century. Under the model’s microscope are future hurricane seasons in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, along with rainfall over the Rocky Mountains and wind patterns in the Great Plains.”

This type of article perpetuates the myth that the climate science community currently has the capability to make skilled regional multi-decadal predictions [in this case of hurricane activity]. Such claims to not conform even to the statements by IPCC authors.

For example, see An Essay “The IPCC Report: What The Lead Authors Really Think” By Ann Henderson-Sellers where she reports that

“The rush to emphasize regional climate does not have a scientifically sound basis.”

Even Kevin Trenberth, one of the Lead IPCC authors, has written (see)

“the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate.”

[see the Climate Science posting on the Trenberth essay - Comment on the Nature Weblog By Kevin Trenberth Entitled “Predictions of climate”.]

The Nature article Forecasting the future of hurricanes is yet another example of not critically and objectively assessing claims made by climate scientists. What ever happened to objective journalism in Nature?

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Yet Another EGU Meeting That Demonstrates The Diversity Of Climatte Forcings: “Biospheric Feedbacks In The Climate System In The Past, Present, And Future”

Thanks to Martin Claussen, Victor Brovkin, and Ning Zeng there is another meeting which shows the complexity of the climate system. It is

“Biospheric feedbacks in the climate system in the past, present, and future”  (Session CL21) at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna, 19 – 24 April 2009. Convener: Claussen, M.  Co-Conveners: Brovkin, V.; Zeng, N.

The meeting outline is given as

Contributions are welcome in the field of:
a) Global scale vegetation dynamics and feedback with climate system dynamics

b) Interaction between vegetation feedbacks on a local scale and global scale feedbacks
c) Global and continental scale anthropogenic land cover change, past, present, future
d) Lifespan of the biosphere, astrobiology
e) Concepts and simplified models of climate-ecosystem feedbacks
f) Comprehensive dynamic global ecosystem models
h) Global data sets for feedbacks assessment

Solicited presentation:
“Climate-Vegetation Feedbacks on different scales” by Dekker SC, de Boer HJ and Rietkerk M

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 13 JANUARY 2009. The deadline for registration is 31 MARCH 2008.
Details about the conference and submission of abstracts can be found at:
http://meetings.copernicus.org/egu2009/

While the policy community and media continue to erroneously hammer that the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is the dominate human climate forcing, the several meeting at the EGU this Spring (see and see, also) illustrate that the climate, in reality is much more complex and difficult to predict than has been communicated by the IPCC and CCSP reports to the politicians and public.

 

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Other Sea Ice Data Websites

Thanks to A.T.J. de Laat of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI), Climate Science has listed several other sea ice data urls below.

http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/cgi-bin/seaice-monitor.cgi

http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

http://arctic-roos.org/observations

http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/ice-area-and-extent-in-arctic

Best Wishes for the Holidays to Everyone!

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Aerosol-Precipitation Interactions Meeting – Another Example Of The Breadth Of Human And Natural Climate Forcings

Thanks to Meinrat O. Andreae for alerting us to yet another meeting at the EGU meeting in April which further documents the diversity of first order climate forcings. The meeting is at the EGU
General Assembly in Vienna, 19 – 24 April 2009 is

AS1.15  Aerosol-Precipitation Interactions
Conveners:           M. O. “Andi” Andreae, Ulrike Lohmann, Danny Rosenfeld

“This session will explore recent progress in our understanding of the interactions between atmospheric aerosols and precipitation and their implications for the Earth’s climate. We encourage contributions on the role of aerosols in the formation and evolution of water and ice clouds, on the impact of aerosols on cloud microphysical properties, and especially on the processes that lead to the formation of precipitation. Presentations that address the impact of clouds, precipitation and hydrological processes on the sources and burdens of atmospheric aerosols are also welcome. The session further encourages presentations on the implications of aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions for climate and atmospheric chemistry. The presentations will include reports on field campaigns and laboratory studies, as well as theoretical investigations, microphysical, meso- and global- scale modeling studies.”

The deadline for abstracts is on 13 JANUARY 2009.

Details about the conference and submission of abstracts can be found at:
http://meetings.copernicus.org/egu2009/

These meetings at the EGU underscore that a focus on just CO2 as the dominate human climate forcing, as is promoted by the IPCC and CCSP reports, is scientifically flawed.

These meeting support the second hypothesis listed in the weblog

Three Climate Change Hypotheses – Only One Of Which Can Be True

that

while natural variations are important, the human influence is significant and involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings (including, but not limited to the human input of CO2.

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Update By Mark Serreze On Current Sea Ice Coverage

There has been quite a bit of commentary on the web with respect to the current absence of continued freeze up of Arctic Sea ice as monitored by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.  Mark Serreze has graciously permitted Climate Science to post the explanation for this lack of increase. His comment follows:

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions about this. We are quite certain that the almost complete lack of increase in ice extent since about December 10 is real. Satellite-derived ice extent from the SSM/I (Special Sensor Microwaver/Imager) used to create the time series on our website was checked against extent based on the AMSR (Advanced Microwave Sounding Radiometer) instrument. AMSR shows the same pattern.  This gives us independent confirmation. The past 10 days has seen a very unusual atmospheric pattern.  It has been very warm over the  Arctic Ocean, and wind patterns have favored a compact ice cover.  While the lack of increase in ice extent is certainly quite unusual as well as interesting,  we would not read too much into it right now, at it is just weather. It will be interesting to see  what happens over the next week.  [The] issue with Chapman’s site, apparently,  is that they are looking at area (concentration weighted) versus extent (part of ocean covered with ice with at least 15% concentration)  The compaction that seems to be going on could give a flat line  in extent but still a rise in area.  In other words,  the issue  may be that we are looking at two different measures of ice conditions. Also,  it’t not clear (I’ll have to check) how current Chapman’s data are.  We had a delay in posting for awhile because of some data dropouts. “

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An Upcoming Meeting “Interactions Between The Carbon And Hydrological Cycle And The Climate System”

Christian Beer of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry has notified the community of an upcoming important meeting on Interactions between the carbon and hydrological cycle within the climate system. In the past, ecologists have tended to focus on the carbon cycle while hydrologist and atmospheric scientists have emphasized the water cycle. The linkage between these two climate processes is an integral part of climate as has been reported in detail in books such as

Bierkens, M.F.P.,  A.J. Dolman, and P.A. Troch (Eds): 2008 Climate and the Hydrological Cycle, IAHS Special Publications 8. ISBN 978-1-901502-54-1. 344 pp;

Cotton, W.R. and R.A. Pielke, 2007: Human impacts on weather and climate, Cambridge University Press, 330 pp;

Kabat, P., Claussen, M., Dirmeyer, P.A., J.H.C. Gash, L. Bravo de Guenni, M. Meybeck, R.A. Pielke Sr., C.J. Vorosmarty, R.W.A. Hutjes, and S. Lutkemeier, Eds., 2004: Vegetation, water, humans and the climate: A new perspective on an interactive system. Springer, Berlin, Global Change – The IGBP Series, 566 pp;

Matsuno, T., and H. Kida, Eds., 2001: Present and Future of Modeling Global Environmental Change: Toward Integrated Modeling. Terra Scientific Publishing Company, Tokyo, Japan, 458 pp;

Tenhunen, J.D., and P. Kabat, Eds., 1999: Integrating Hydrology, Ecosystem Dynamics, and Biogeochemistry in Complex Landscapes.  John Wiley and Sons Ltd., 384 pp;

Visconti, G., et al., Eds., 2001: Land-atmosphere interactions. In: Global Change and Protected Areas, Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, 521 pp.

as well as in our papers; e.g. see

Pielke Sr., R.A., G. Marland, R.A. Betts, T.N. Chase, J.L. Eastman, J.O. Niles, D. Niyogi, and S.W. Running, 2003: The influence of land-use change and landscape dynamics on the climate system: Relevance to climate-change policy beyond the radiative effect of greenhouse gases. Chapter 9 in Capturing Carbon and Conserving Biodiversity: The Market Approach, I.R. Swingland, Ed., Earthscan Publications Ltd., London, 157-172.

The Eurpopean Geophysical Union Session is titled

“BG1.8 Interactions between the carbon and hydrological cycle and the climate system”

and will be held at the EGU General Assembly 2009, Vienna, Austria, 19-24 April 2009 convened by Christian Beer and Markus Reichstein (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany).

The information on the meeting reads

“The carbon and hydrological cycles are coupled in different ways and at different time scales over land. At short time scales, for instance, stomatal conductance relates carbon and water exchanges between the canopy and atmosphere (water-use efficiency), and the decomposition of organic matter depends on soil moisture. At longer time scales, soil moisture status impacts carbon allocation and even plant composition within the ecosystem. Both processes have effects on rooting pattern. Disturbances, especially fire, are also dependent on moisture leading to subsequent pulses of carbon to the atmosphere and major changes in physical properties of the land surface. The sum of all these interactions may have significant impacts on the regional and global climate systems. Therefore, an improved understanding of the interaction of carbon and water cycles is crucial for future climate predictions.

This symposium aims at bringing together a wide range of studies that address the relation between the water and carbon cycle at scales ranging from plot level, through catchment and regional to global scales. Both modelling and observational studies are solicited.”

The deadline for submitting abstracts is January 13, 2009. The abstract submission procedure is at
the program of the biogeosciences division on the website link  http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/sessionprogramme/BG
Once there,  click on “abtract submission” under session BG1.8.

This session provides an opportunity to implement some of the findings and recommendations in the 2005 NRC report that climate involves interactions across spatial scales of physical, chemical and biological processes. The NRC report is

National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

 

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Vegetation Fire Emissions And Their Impact on Air Pollution And Climate By Langmann et al. 2009

Yet another paper has appeared that documents the role of vegetation as a first order climate forcing. It is

Langmann et al., 2009: Vegetation fire emissions and their impact on air pollution and climate. Atmospheric Environment, Volume 43, Issue 1, 107-116.

The abstract reads

“Gaseous and particulate emissions from vegetation fires substantially modify the atmospheric chemical composition, degrade air quality and can alter weather and climate. The impact of vegetation fire emissions on air pollution and climate has been recognised in the late 1970s. The application of satellite data for fire-related studies in the beginning of the 21th century represented a major break through in our understanding of the global importance of fires. Today the location and extent of vegetation fires, burned area and emissions released from fires are determined from satellite products even though many uncertainties persist. Numerous dedicated experimental and modeling studies contributed to improve the current knowledge of the atmospheric impact of vegetation fires. The motivation of this paper is to give an overview of vegetation fire emissions, their environmental and climate impact, and what improvements can be expected in the near future.”

Their future research recommendations include the text

“We offer suggestions for further research as a consequence of the major uncertainties persisting in today’s vegetation fire emission estimates related to their application to estimate environmental and climate impacts…… Currently, no single satellite products can provide quantitative estimates of vegetation fire emissions with reasonable accuracy and consistency across the globe …….The detailed information on the spatial distribution of fires from polar-orbiting systems should be combined with detailed temporal information from geostationary platforms to determine realistically the diurnal variation of the burning activity similar to the use of satellite data for numerical weather prediction…An integrated effort to synthesize the available information is needed in order to generate an operational system for accurate global fire emissions monitoring…….These data need to be integrated into a state-of-the-art numerical model by so-called data assimilation which provides the most efficient and consistent method for integrating a large variety of observational data in near real time as demonstrated by operational systems for numerical weather prediction…..”

As we show in our papers

Lin, J.C., T. Matsui, R.A. Pielke Sr., and C. Kummerow, 2006: Effects of biomass burning-derived aerosols on precipitation and clouds in the Amazon Basin: A satellite-based empirical study. J. Geophys. Res., 111, D19204, doi:10.1029/2005JD006884.

Matsui, T., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2006: Measurement-based estimation of the spatial gradient of aerosol radiative forcing. Geophys. Res. Letts., 33, L11813, doi:10.1029/2006GL025974

the effect of vegetation fires (biomass burning) can have an effect on atmospheric processes, including alterations in wind circulations, that are very significant effects on the climate, yet whose effects have not been adequately investigated in climate assessments.

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Current Climate Impact of Heating From Energy Usage By A.T.J. de Laat 2008

A new paper has just been published in EOS Transactions Forum.

de Laat, A.T.J., 2008: Current Climate Impact of Heating from Energy Usage. EOS Transactions FORUM, Vol. 89, No. 51, doi: 10.1029/2008EO510005, 16 December 2008.

The introduction of this excellent article reads

“Present-day waste heat production as a result of energy use is a climate forcing that has not drawn much attention, although Chaisson [2008] recently discussed its potential future climate impact. Current global primary energy consumption amounts to 15.5 TeraWatts (U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) base year 2005; see Table 1). The global average primary energy consumption (0.03 watts per square meter) is relatively small compared to other anthropogenic radiative forcings, as summarized in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [2007] report. Nevertheless, despite its relatively small magnitude, waste heat may have a considerable impact on local surface temperature measurements, as outlined below.”

Other excerpts read

“For large energy consuming countries such as the United States, China, and India, the energy
consumption is of the order of 0.2-0.4 watts per square meter. For smaller developed countries
such as France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan, energy consumption per square meter
is larger, exceeding 1 watt per square meter. For small, densely populated countries such as the
Netherlands, energy consumption exceeds 4 watts per square meter. On a city scale, such as
central New York or Tokyo, energy use can exceed 100 watts per square meter [Makar et al.,
2006].”
 

“….Block et al. [2004] used a regional climate model to investigate the magnitude of
warming in Western Europe caused by adding 2 watts per square meter of energy at the model
land surface. Although the model simulation was performed for just 3 months during spring, the
results nevertheless indicate that warming does occur, and—under favorable conditions—it can
on average be as large as 1°C for the 2 watts per square meter surface forcing.”

“To answer these questions requires a detailed analysis of all available surface station data, which unfortunately appears to be a monumental task. Not only would it involve analyzing thousands of station records in detail, but every location would have to be investigated-for its proximity to waste heat sources, the type of waste heat sources, and the historical changes of those sources (which may not be available when going further back in time)-as well as local and regional weather and climate variations, in order to estimate the footprint of the waste heat source. Regional climate models and large eddy models may further assist in estimating the footprint of regional local scale energy use. Such analyses would help to narrow down uncertainties associated with estimating the current-and future-impact of waste heat.”

This paper presents evidence of another important human climate forcing that has not been adequately investigated and reported on in climate assessments.

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