There is a webcast Thursday October 28 2010 titled “NSF Webcast for Reporters: Will Clouds–the Wild Card of Climate – Speed Or Slow Warming?” by David Randall of Colorado State University (h/t to Joe D’Aleo). Randall was one of the two convening lead authors of Chapter 8 on Climate Models and their Evaluation in the 2007 IPCC report, and has been selected as one of the two convening lead authors of Chapter 7 on Clouds and Aerosols for the next IPCC assessment.
I raise two issues in this post with respect to this webcast.
1. Clouds are not the only “wild card” as implied by the title of his talk. For example, Chapter 8 of the 2007 IPCC report, which Randall was one of the two convening lead authors, was not a balanced assessment of climate models. As I wrote in
Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change: Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp.
Chapter 8 of the IPCC Report is …. poorly written on this subject where while they write
“Evaluation of the land surface component in coupled models is severely limited by the lack of suitable observations. The terrestrial surface plays key climatic roles in influencing the partitioning of available energy between sensible and latent heat fluxes, determining whether water drains or remains available for evaporation, determining the surface albedo and whether snow melts or remains frozen, and influencing surface fluxes of carbon and momentum. Few of these can be evaluated at large spatial or long temporal scales. This section therefore evaluates those quantities for which some observational data exist”
they fail to identify the rich peer-reviewed literature on this subject but only provide a very limited presentation on this subject in the Chapter.
Indeed, while land processes are discussed in the Report, the focus is on its role in the carbon budget and in its effect on the global average radiative forcing.
To document missing papers….. we have cross-referenced Climate Science with the IPCC WG1 Report on just one aspect of the above two topics (regional radiative forcing and nonradiative forcing), namely the role of land use change within the climate system [see the Appendix in the section Documentation Of IPCC WG1 Bias by Roger A. Pielke Sr. and Dallas Staley - Part II in Pielke 2008].
The highlighting by the NSF of the IPCC finding in the Workshop announcement for David Randall’s presentation that
“Clouds are “the largest source of uncertainty” in projections of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)”
perpetuates the narrow view of the IPCC that
“Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate issue for the coming decades.”
which is refuted in our article
Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.
The only robust, non-refuted hypothesis, as we show in our article, is that
“Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.”
I agree with David Randall that clouds are a wild card in the assessment of climate variability and long term change. However, there are quite a few “wild cards” including the diverse range of effects of aerosols, of land use-land cover change, and of natural effects, all of which remain incompletely represented in the multi-decadal global climate models. David Randall failed to include this broader perspective when he was convening lead author of Chapter 8 in the 2007 IPCC report, and appears to be persisting in this narrow view.
2. My second issue is that the NSF comes across as an advocate for a particular perspective (i.e. that there is a main”wild card”) without presenting to reporters that there are other scientifically sound viewpoints in the climate science community.
The NSF is already funding research which compromises the scientific method; e.g. see
I urge reporters and others who participate in this webcast ask questions on other “wild cards” in the understanding and assessment of the predictability of the climate system.
The e-mail announcement for their webcast is reproduced below
From: Whiteman, Lily M [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2010 9:58 AM
To: Whiteman, Lily M
Subject: NSF Webcast for Reporters: Will Clouds–the Wild Card of Climate Change- Speed or Slow Warming?
This is an automated e-mail. Please do not respond to this message.
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230
“Where Discoveries Begin”
For Immediate Release
Lily Whiteman, NSF, (703) 292-8310, email@example.com_
_LIVE, INTERACTIVE WEBCAST FOR REPORTERS: WILL CLOUDS–THE WILD CARD OF CLIMATE CHANGE–SPEED OR SLOW WARMING?_
NSF invites media to participate in a webcast briefing on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 1:00 p.m., EDT
Cloud behavior will help determine how warm the planet becomes as climate change continues.
Credit: Kristina Rebelo
_Credit and Larger Version_
Clouds are “the largest source of uncertainty” in projections of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This uncertainty arises because different types of clouds exert different forces on climate: Some clouds help cool the Earth and some clouds help warm it. So far, no one knows which effect will win out as the climate continues to change. This uncertainty begs some of the most critical (and most fascinating) questions about climate change: Will clouds help speed or slow global warming? Why is cloud behavior so difficult to predict? And, in the midst of such uncertainty about clouds, how in the world are scientists learning to project the behavior of these ephemeral, ever-changing, high-altitude phenomena? To help give the role of clouds in climate change its due, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will host a webcast with a leading authority on clouds and climate change: David Randall, director of the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes and a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University. The webcast will be held on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 1:00 p.m., EDT.
Following the webcast, NSF will release a multi-media package about clouds and climate change titled, “Clouds: The Wild Card of Climate Change.” This package–which will provide a wealth of information to reporters, policy makers, scientists, educators, the public and students of all levels–will be posted on NSF’s website at _http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/_
Who: Cloud and climate change expert David Randall, director of the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes and a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.
What: A media briefing via teleconference and webcast to discuss why clouds are the wild card of climate change.
When: Thursday, Oct. 28, at 1:00 p.m., EDT. How to Participate: Reporters in the United States may participate by teleconference or Internet. To participate by teleconference, call (888) 603-7924. Passwords are needed to access the presentation and to ask questions during the live event. To obtain the password to participate in the teleconference and to obtain the URL and password to access the webcast, e-mail
Lily Whiteman at firstname.lastname@example.org_ (mailto:email@example.com) . Before and
during the event, e-mail questions for David Randall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.