Monthly Archives: November 2011

Response From Nicola Scafetta On His New Paper on Astronomical Oscillations and Climate Oscillations.

Roger A Pielke Sr asked me to respond to a comment sent to him by Gerhard Kramm of the University of Alaska on my recent paper

N. Scafetta, “A shared frequency set between the historical mid-latitude aurora records and the global surface temperature” Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2011.10.013.

Kramm’s final argument is that “Since the sunspot number may be considered as an indication for the sun’s activity, this weak correlation does not notably support Scafetta’s hypothesis.”

I believe that Dr. Kramm may be not really familiar with the topics addressed in my paper. The issue is complex and I will try to respond, but only a detailed study of my papers and of the relevant scientific literature can fully satisfy an interested reader.

In brief, Dr. Kramm argument is based on a total solar irradiance model based on the sunspot number record proposed by Schneider and Mass in 1975, that is 36 years ago! This proxy reconstruction claims that solar activity is practically constant plus a 11-year cycle. Because such a reconstruction does not resemble the temperature record in any way, Kramm concluded that it does not support Scafetta’s hypothesis.

I fully agree with Kramm that the solar irradiance reconstruction proposed by Schneider and Mass in 1975 does not support my hypothesis. However, Kramm did not appear to have realized that the solar irradiance reconstruction proposed by Schneider and Mass in 1975 is considered today to be severely obsolete.

Reconstructing the past total solar irradiance is not an easy task: there exists only proxy reconstructions not direct measurements. What people today know is that the sunspot record by alone is not an accurate representation of the solar activity and of the heliosphere dynamics.

The figure below shows some of the total solar irradiance reconstructions proposed during the last 15 years. Other records exist.

Figure:  Several proposed total solar irradiance (TSI) proxy reconstructions. (From top to bottom: Hoyt and Schatten, 1997; Lean, 2000; Wang et al., 2005; Krivova et al., 2007.)

As it is evident from the figure, different models have produced different solar irradiance reconstructions. And all of them differ from Schneider and Mass’ model adopted by Kramm to criticize my paper.

Even the total solar irradiance records obtained with satellite measurements are not certain. At least two possible reconstructions have been proposed: the PMOD (top) and the ACRIM (bottom) TSI satellite composites.


In my past papers I have analyzed the relation between some of the above reconstructions and the climate records in great details and what I got, for example in

N. Scafetta, “Empirical analysis of the solar contribution to global mean air surface temperature change,” Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 71 1916–1923 (2009), doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2009.07.007.

is summarized in the following figure


The figure shows the climate signature of the solar component alone against a reconstruction of the climate since 1600. Since 1980 I am adopting TSI reconstructions based on ACRIM and PMOD. The matching with the climate records is quite good for 400 years which includes the last 40 years if we use the ACRIM TSI composite. The temperature, though, presents an additional 0.2-0.3 oC warming that is probably the real net anthropogenic contribution (GHG+Aerosol+UHI+LUC+errors in combining the temperature records, etc) since 1900.

The figure above shows that the climate is mostly regulated by solar changes. However, the matching is not absolutely precise. The reason, in my opinion, is that the TSI proxy reconstructions proposed are not sufficiently accurate yet and there may be additional natural forcings.

So, in my more recent papers I have studied the oscillations of the solar system regulated by planetary orbits which very likely are the first cause external forcings acting on the sun and the heliosphere. Very likely, the Sun and the heliosphere oscillate in the same way and the Earth’s system will likely resonate with those oscillations too.

In my recent paper

N. Scafetta, “Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications”. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 72, 951–970 (2010), doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2010.04.015

I address the above issues and I found that indeed the climate system is characterized by the same oscillations found in the astronomical oscillation driven by planetary and lunar harmonics with major periods at 9, 10-10.5, 20 and 60 years.

In my latest paper

N. Scafetta, “A shared frequency set between the historical mid-latitude aurora records and the global surface temperature” Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2011.10.013

I show that also the mid-latitude historical aurora records since 1700 are characterized by the same frequencies of the climate system and of the planetary system with major periods of 9, 10-10.5, 20 and 60 years. The mid-latitude historical aurora records represent a direct observation of what was happening in the ionosphere and give us an information complementary to the one that can be deduced from the sunspot record alone. The mid-latitude auroras from Europe and Asia, together with other available records from North America and Iceland reveal an interesting oscillating dynamics: Northern and Southern aurora records, which should be understood relative to the magnetic north pole not the geographical one, present a complementary 60 year cycle, for example, that matches the 60-year cycle observed in the temperature as suggested in the figure below


Figure:   (A) The 60 year cyclical modulation of the global surface temperature obtained by detrending this record of its upward trend shown in Fig.1. The temperature record has been filtered with a 8-year moving average. Note that detrending a linear or parabolic trend does not significantly deform a 60-year wave on a160-year record, which contains about 2.5 of these cycles, because first and second order polynomials are sufficiently orthogonal to a record containing at least two full cycles.  On the contrary, detrending higher order polynomials would deform a 60-year modulation on a 160-year record and would be inappropriate. (B) Aurora records from the Catalogue of Polar Aurora <55N in the Period 1000–1900 from 1700 to 1900 (Krivsky and Pejml, 1988). (B) Also depicts the catalog referring to the aurora observations from the Faroes Islands from 1872 to 1966. Both temperature and aurora records show a synchronized 60-year cyclical modulation as proven by the fact that the 60-year periodic harmonic functions superimposed to both records is the same. This 60-year cycle is in phase with the 60–61 year cycle associated to Jupiter and Saturn: see Figs.6 and 7.

Silverman (1992),

for example, showed the 60-year cycle complimentary pattern in the Faroes and Iceland aurora records in this figure.


 Where the 60-year cycle in the Faroes is negative correlated to the 60 year cycle in the temperature while the 60-year cycle in Iceland is positive correlated to the 60 year cycle in the temperature from 1880 to 1940. The same complementary dynamics exists between the mid-latitude European/Asian auroras (which are explicitly studied in my paper) and the American New England auroras (which occupy a northern region relative to the magnetic north pole despite their geographical latitude) for the 1800-1900 period.

This dynamics suggests harmonic changes in the physical properties of the magnetosphere and ionosphere, and upper atmosphere in general, that appear to be directly linked to astronomical oscillations. That may also suggest a change in the magnetosphere/ionosphere sensitivity to incoming cosmic ray flux, which can regulate the cloud system. Thus, my paper shows that a complex astronomical harmonic forcings of the upper atmosphere very likely exists and very likely alters the electric properties of the atmosphere which are known to be able to regulate the cloud system as discussed by Tinsley and Svensmark.

My hypothesis is that the Earth’s albedo is likely oscillating with the same frequencies that we found in the solar system and the temperature at the surface cannot but follow those oscillations too. In the paper, I show that such hypothesis fits the records that we have showing cycles in the cloud system and in the solar dimming and brightening patterns, also from an energetic point of view.

For example a recent paper by Soon et al. (Variation in surface air temperature of China during the 20th century ASTP 2011, showed  a very good correlation between the 60-year cycle in the temperature record (in this specific case referring to China) and the sunshine duration cover in Japan, which may be due to a cloud cover oscillation.


Figure:  Annual mean China-wide surface air temperature time series by Wang et al. (2001, 2004)  from 1880 to 2004 correlated with the Japanese sunshine duration of Stanhill and Cohen (2008) from 1890 to 2002 (from Soon et al. 2011).

Other references referring to cloud and sunshine oscillations are in my paper which presents a 60-year cycle.

In fact, in my paper I have argued that small oscillations of the albedo equal to 1-2% may induce climate oscillations compatible with the observations.

The final result of my paper is summarized in the following figure


Figure:  Astronomical harmonic constituent model reconstruction and forecast of the global surface temperature.(A) Four years moving average of the global surface temperature against the climate reconstructions obtained by using the function F1(t)+P1(t) to fit the period 1850–2010 (black solid) and the period 1950–2010(dash),and the function F2(t)+P2(t)  to fit he period1850–1950(dots). (B) The functions P1(t)  and P2(t) represent the periodic modulation of the temperature reproduced by the celestial model based on the five aurora major decadal and multidecadal frequencies. The arrows indicate the local decadal maxima where the good matching between the data patterns and the models is observed. Note that in both figures the three model curves almost coincide for more than 200 years and well reconstruct and forecast the temperature oscillations.

The figure clearly shows that my harmonic model based on astronomical/lunar cycles, which is depicted in full in B, can reconstruct and forecast with a good accuracy the observed climate oscillations. For example, in B the harmonic model is calibrated during the period 1850-1950 and then it is shows to forecast the climate oscillations (in red) observed from 1950 to 2011. The model is also calibrated during the period 1950-2011 and it is shown to forecast the climate oscillations from 1850 to 1950. The upward trend in A in part produced by the longer solar trending as shown in a figure above and has not been added to the harmonic model yet. Indeed, by looking at the forecasting results in the above figure B I need to say that they perform far better than the IPCC general circulation models, which have never succeeded in forecasting anything.

Of course, I do not claim that my last papers respond to all questions and all related issues. On the contrary, many issues emerge and remain unexplained. This is perfectly normal in science, which is full of mysteries that wait to be explained. Also, my harmonic model may require other frequencies, for example the ocean tides are currently predicted with 35-40 harmonic constituents, while I used only four frequencies in my current model.

However, the merit of my present work, I believe, is to stress the importance of the natural variability of the climate, which has been mostly ignored by the IPCC 2007 modeling, and to show that climate variability is made of an important harmonic component very likely linked to astronomical oscillations and, therefore, the climate can in principle be forecast within a certain limit.

Also an anthropogenic component appears to be present, of course, but because the IPCC models do not reproduce the climate natural variability, those models have significantly overestimated the anthropogenic component by a very large factor between 2 and 4, as explained in my papers. This indirectly implies that the IPCC warming projections for the 21st century need to be reduced by a corresponding large factor. Moreover for the next 30 year the climate may remain steady instead of warming at the rate of 2.3 oC/century as predicted by the IPCC. Longer forecasts may require the addition of longer cycles not yet included in the current work. 

About the criticism of Dr. Kramm based on Schneider and Mass work in 1975, that is a 36-year old work, I cannot but stress that it is based on a severely poor understanding of the present knowledge. Indeed, Dr. Kramm does not seem to have spent much time reading the relevant scientific literature since 1975 and, in particular, my papers with their numerous references. It is evident that it is inappropriate criticize a work without even reading it or trying to become familiar with its topics and arguments which go far beyond the sunspot number record alone. But, apparently, not everybody understands such an elementary logic.

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“The Times They Are A-Changin”

There is a refreshing weblog post by Bill Hooke announced on the AMS website [h/t to Joe Daleo]. Hopefully, this means that the AMS will start moving away from its predominent focus on multi-decadal global climate models as the mechanism to assess climate and other environmental and social threats in the coming years.


in reference to this blog from William Hook:

Bills’ post includes the insightful comments

“First, we should remember that the Earth does its business through extreme events and always has…..Extremes are not suspensions of the normal order; they are its fulfillment.”
“Second, these extremes, like all nonlinear phenomena (forgive the lapse into pointy-headedness), are always integrating events”.
“Third, social change matters more to what extreme events and disasters portend for our future than does climate change”

These views are supportive what we present in our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2011: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press

where our abstract reads

We discuss the adoption of a bottom-up, resource–based vulnerability approach in evaluating the effect of climate and other environmental and societal threats to societally critical resources. This vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to local and regional water, food, energy, human health, and ecosystem function resources from extreme events including climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risks can be compared with other risks in order to adopt optimal preferred mitigation/adaptation strategies.

This is a more inclusive way of assessing risks, including from climate variability and climate change than using the outcome vulnerability approach adopted by the IPCC. A contextual vulnerability assessment, using the bottom-up, resource-based framework is a more inclusive approach for policymakers to adopt effective mitigation and adaptation methodologies to deal with the complexity of the spectrum of social and environmental extreme events that will occur in the coming decades, as the range of threats are assessed, beyond just the focus on CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases as emphasized in the IPCC assessments.

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Announcement Of New Paper “Importance Of Background Climate In Determining Impact Of Land-Cover Change On Regional Climate” By Pitman Et Al 2011

Andy Pitman and Clive McAlpine have alerted us to a new modeling study paper that has just appeared. It is

A. J. Pitman, F. B. Avila, G. Abramowitz, Y. P.Wang, S. J. Phipps and N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, 2011: Importance of background climate in determining impact of land-cover change on regional climate. Nature Climate Change.: 20 November 2011 | DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1294

The abstract reads [highlight added]

Humans have modified the Earth’s climate through emissions of greenhouse gases and through land-use and land-cover change (LULCC). Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warm the mid-latitudes more than the tropics, in part owing to a reduced snow–albedo feedback as snow cover decreases. Higher concentration of carbon dioxide also increases precipitation in many regions, as a result of an intensification of the hydrological cycle. The biophysical effects of LULCC since pre-industrial times have probably cooled temperate and boreal regions and warmed some tropical regions3. Here we use a climate model to show that how snow and rainfall change under increased greenhouse gases dominates how LULCC affects regional temperature. Increased greenhouse-gas-driven changes in snow and rainfall affect the snow–albedo feedback and the supply of water, which in turn limits evaporation. These changes largely control the net impact of LULCC on regional climate. Our results show that capturing whether future biophysical changes due to LULCC warm or cool a specific region therefore requires an accurate simulation of changes in snow cover and rainfall geographically coincident with regions of LULCC. This is a challenge to current climate models, but also provides potential for further improving detection and attribution methods.

The paper is another contribution to examining the role of land use/land cover change on the climate system. I have just a few comments. First, they write that

“….global-scale future LULCC is probably small when compared with past changes’.

In the tropical regions, and perhaps in the boreal forests, the assumption of a small direct icrease in area of human land management of the climate system in the coming decades is not likely correct (e.g. see). In the tropical humid forests, deforestation such as in the Congo and in the Amazon are likely, unfortunately, to still  occur as population continues to grow. In semi-arid regions such as the Sahel, overgrazing is likely to expand. The boreal forest is vulnerable to not only logging, but the removal of large areas of trees by human caused fires.

My second comment is on the role of irrigation (and its areal coverage) which will also likely grow as populations demand more cropland (e.g. see). Some irrigated large areas actually use fossil water (i.e. mined from aquifers where the water has accumulated centuries ago).

Their paper concludes with the text

The need to correctly locate changes in rainfall, temperature and snow over regions of intense LULCC presents a significant challenge for climate models. The capacity of climate models to capture the background regional climate depends in part on the horizontal resolution of the model. A rigorous assessment  the relationship between climate model resolution and region simulation skill is lacking. Although finer spatial resolutions may improve global-scale simulations, how fine a model needs to be to enable reliable co-location of changes in rainfall and temperature with LULCC is unknown. Most climate models also lack many processes that might affect how LULCC affects precipitation and associated processes (see Supplementary Information). Further, there is emerging evidence that coupled ocean models are required in LULCC experiments, because these amplify the perturbation and enable effects to be captured distant from the perturbation. This suggests that, although the large-scale signal from LULCC on future climates is probably known, much higher-resolution fully coupled model simulations need to be conducted to build confidence in how LULCC interacts with a changing climate at regional scales. Our use of a coarse resolution model and fixed SSTs probably affects many aspects of our results and we are not suggesting that we have necessarily co-located changes due to CO2 with LULCC correctly. However, our main conclusion that changes in rainfall and snow caused by increases in CO2 dominate how LULCC affects climate, thereby necessitating climate models to correctly locate changes in rainfall and temperature relative to LULCC, is very probably robust.

The authors are, in my view, too optimistic regarding the skill of the large-scale multi-decadal global climate models, as has been reported frequently on my weblog (e.g. see).  Thus, their claim that “the large-scale signal from LULCC on future climates is probably known” is conjecture, as is their statement that the main conclusion that changes in rainfall and snow caused by increases in CO2 dominate how LULCC affects climate, thereby necessitating climate models to correctly locate changes in rainfall and temperature relative to LULCC, is very probably robust”. 

The dominance of CO2, that they present in their paper, remains a hypothesis. For example, they  do not include the natural and human inputs of aerosols from industrial and vehicular emissions, and also aerosols (e.g. mineral dust) from land degradation as affected by land management and land use/land cover change.  Aerosols have a diverse range of effects on the climate system even at global scales (e.g. see and see) which include major effects on precipitation processes.

Nonetheless, despite while there is an overconfidence in their conclusions,  this paper adds to our understanding of the role of land use/land cover in the climate system.

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Comment By Gerhard Kramm On Nicola Scafetta’s Paper “A Shared Frequency Set Between The Historical Mid-Latitude Aurora Records And The Global Surface Temperature”

In response to the post

New Paper “A Shared Frequency Set Between The Historical Mid-Latitude Aurora Records And The Global Surface Temperature” By N. Scafetta 2011

Gerhard Kramm of the Univeristy of Alaska sent the following e-mail which I have reproduced below with his permission. I am asking Nicola to respond in a separate post.

Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2011 16:44:38 -0900
From: Gerhard Kramm To: Roger A Pielke Sr  Subject: Your comments on Scafetta’s paper

Dear Roger,

With respect to your comments on Scafetta’s paper, I would like to send a diagram to you that I created two years ago. It shows the solar constant (blue line) computed with Eq. (1) by Schneider and Mass (1975). S & M mentioned that Kondratyev and Nicolsky used this formula which is, obviously, attributed to Angstroem, where the sunspot numbers of the Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC) at the Royal Observatory of Belgium were used (see attachment). Obviously, if the sunspot numbers become too large the solar constant is decreasing. This seems to be reasonable because the sunspots are much colder than their surroundings. Unfortunately, I found not enough background material about Angstroem’s empirical formula.

The diagram also shows the globally averaged near-surface temperature (HadCRUT3, red line). It seems to me that the temperature is correlated with the minimum values of the computed solar constant, but the amount of the correlation coefficient is small. Since the sunspot number may be considered as an indication for the sun’s activity, this weak correlation does not notably support Scafetta’s hypothesis.

Best regards


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Absolute Global Average Temperature Analyis From the IPCC Models From Lucia at the Weblog “Blackboard”

Lucia has a very informative post from 2 1/2 years ago that relates to the discussion on Tamino’s weblog Open Mind and Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations  weblogs. The post is

Fact 6A: Model Simulations Don’t Match the Average Surface Temperature of the Earth.

from 2 March, 2009.


Lucia writes in her post

“….there are a number of historical observations of climate that models “predict” poorly.

One of these is the average global surface temperature in non-anomaly degrees C for the entire 20th century.

My understanding is that letting people learn that models don’t predict the surface temperature accurately is considered “confusing”. One is not supposed to discuss “confusing” things as it could “confuse” people and “confused” people may come believe models based on physics may produce biased predictions of global surface temperatures in non-anomaly degrees C.”

The reason this matters is that if the average global surface temperature is biased (warm or cold), the regional temperatures are likely at least as biased. Since the impacts community needs the actual temperatures, not the anomalies from a biased average, this is a serious flaw in most of the models as Lucia, so ably summarized in her figure.

Also, in terms of predicting the outgoing longwave radiation from the surface (which is proportional to the 4th power of the absolute temperature), a -1C error, as one example from the biases displayed in Lucia’s figure, corresponds to ~1.4% error in that calculation.

Perhaps by 2011, these errors have been corrected. However, if they have not, this is another demonstration of the challenges faced by the multi-decadal IPCC type models to provide skillful predictions to the impacts community.

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Tamino Disparages Bob Tisdale’s Analysis Of Model Predicted Trends In SSTs

UPDATE #2: Bob Tisdale has responded also in his post

 Tamino Misses The Point And Attempts To Distract His Readers

UPDATE: I understand that Tamino’s real name is Grant Foster.

There is a new post at the weblog Open Mind [which is certainly a misnomer]

Tisdale Fumbles, Pielke Cheers

 which disparges the weblog post by Bob Tisdale

17-Year And 30-Year Trends In Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies: The Differences Between Observed And IPCC AR4 Climate Models

and my and Anthony Watts’ responses in our posts

An Excellent Multi-Decadal Global Climate Model Hindcast Evaluation By Bob Tisdale

Santer’s “17 years needed for a sign of climate change” compared against the IPCC models

The claim on Tamino’s weblog is that

Apparently Tisdale just doesn’t understand that when you average across a large number of models, you wipe out most of their natural variability. If you then look for variability in that multimodel mean you won’t find it. Tisdale really fumbled the ball — again.

However, Tamino does not understand the significance of the Tisdale analysis.  He presents the figure

and then states that

Note that the individual model runs show much more variability than the multi-model mean. In fact they show variability comparable to that shown by the observed data.

However, since to my knowledge the GISS runs were not completed as an initial value problem, Tamino does not tell us how much of varaitions in the trends over time  are from the prescribed forcings and how much from the internal dynamics from the model. Since he presents all of the models with a similar behavior in the trends, this suggests an external forcing is affecting each of the model realizations.  He needs to clarify why this similar behavior occurred.

Tamino is correct that model realizations of nonlinear geophysical systems always produce more variations than their ensemble average. In weather forecasts, attention is given both to the ensemble mean and the realizations in terms of prediction of weather patterns.

  However, Tamino does not seem to appreciate that if the ensemble average is so poor, that the  GISS model, as a tool to provide realistic climate projections for impact assessments decades into the future, is “potentially” only of value in predicting a long term slow change of SSTs. A simple global energy balance model would be just as good for that purpose.   Tamino confirms what we have been reporting (e.g.see) on the fatal limitations of the IPCC models for impact studies.   The impact community does not know which realization to use for their impact study, even if one of those forecasts were actually correct.

Tamino is telling us [even though he does not realize it] that the IPCC AR4 prediction below is than useless, except for the multi-decadal trend [which is also failing] as shown in Bob’s figure below.

Moreover, the challenge in using the multi-decadal global climate models is to provide skillful predictions of the CHANGES in the statistics of the variability and time and space of variables such as SST. Bob Tisdale, by examining the ensemble result has provided a valuable new analysis. 

Instead of being insulting, Tamino should have contacted Bob Tisdale to work with him to produce a mutually agreed to paper.

Unfortunately, Tamino writes

Certainly the models need more work. Certainly they should be examined with a critical eye. Just as cleary, Bob Tisdale is not the right person to do this. Neither is Roger Pielke Sr.

It is this type of disparagment that continues to plague climate science. It is too bad Tamino could not rise above this.

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An Excellent Multi-Decadal Global Climate Model Hindcast Evaluation By Bob Tisdale

Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly

As readers of my weblog know, I have been reporting that multi-decadal global climate model forecasts for the coming decades must be tested using hindcast predictions for decades that have already occurred.  Bob Tisdale on his weblog Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

has an excellent such evaluation in his new post

17-Year And 30-Year Trends In Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies: The Differences Between Observed And IPCC AR4 Climate Models

His conclusion of this evaluation reads

Comparing the 204-month and 360-month hindcast and projected Sea Surface Temperature anomaly trends of the coupled climate models used in the IPCC AR4 to the trends of the observed Sea Surface Temperature anomalies is yet another way to show the models have … shown no skill at replicating and projecting past and present variations in Sea Surface Temperature on multidecadal bases. Why should we believe they have any value as a means of projecting future climate?

The entire post should be read. I also urge Bob to submit this analysis to a peer-reviewed research journal so it can be assessed by the entire climate community.

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The Latest Report From The IPCC Is Seeking To Rationalize The Failure Of Global Multi-Decadal Climate Models To Skillfully Predict Extreme Events In The Next Few Decades

With the increasingly realization that the multi-decadal global climate models are failing to be able to skillfully predict changes in regional climate statistics (such as extreme weather events) in the coming decades, there is an attempt to seek other ways to claim such forecasts can be made.

In today’s Reuters news article by Elias Biryabarema

Extreme weather to worsen with climate change

there is a remarkable confession by Chris Fields, who is co-author of a new report from The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] and also Co-Chair of the current IPCC WG2 report due in 2014. This new report is discussed at

Climate Panel Charts Extreme Weather in a Warming World and  by Andy Revkin


Friday Funny: Zombie head exploders and the new IPCC report by Anthony Watts.

The following is part of the text from the Reuters news report

Sceptics have questioned the models the IPCC uses to make its climate predictions, but Fields defended the science: “There are many cases in which just from observations, we’ve seen a change,” he said.

“Climate models are only some of the tools used to make future projections. Some … are based on projecting historical data forward or what we know about the physics of the system. Lots of observations are built in for us to test how they work.”

The models are starting to be “thrown under the bus”, but Chris does not document these other “tools”.

He does move in the more scientifically robust direction when he is reported as saying

“The clear message from this report is that there are a lot of smart things we can do now that reduce the risk of losses in disasters,” co-author Chris Fields told Reuters.

This is a sound approach, and is what we propose in our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2011: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press. 

I discuss this also in my post

Two Perspectives On Vulnerability – The IPCC view And The Bottom-Up Perspective

As I have written often, the more robust approach can be summarized

“There are 5 broad areas that we can use to define the need for vulnerability assessments : water, food, energy, [human] health and ecosystem function. Each area has societally critical resources. The vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to these resources from climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risk from natural- and human-caused climate change (estimated from the GCM projections, but also the historical, paleo-record and worst case sequences of events) can be compared with other risks in order to adopt the optimal mitigation/adaptation strategy.”

Hopefully, Chris Field will continue to move towards this more robust approach to reduce the risks that society and the environment may face in the coming decades.

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The Deletion Of NOAA’s Climate Service As A Separate Group Within NOAA In The Federal Budget

Congress zeros out a request for 346.2 million dollars for a Climate Service from NOAA;

FY 2012 Department of Commerce Appropriations (11/15/11)

This funding was requested by Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of NOAA, who wrote [highlight added]

“Climate: NOAA’s FY 2012 request supports steps needed to improve our climate services, including establishing a Climate Service line office within the Agency on par with the National Weather Service and other line offices. NOAA needs to better understand and characterize the Nation’s vulnerability to climate change. Building on the past two decades of experience, NOAA proposes a $4.7M increase for monitoring atmospheric carbon sources and determining the distribution of fossil fuel emissions across the United States, and $3.0M to support regional climate services.”

Since the National Weather Service already provides a framework to provide essential weather and climate information, this Climate Service is a redundancy and is just another example of those who accept the IPCC perspective seeking to implement its advocacy mission.

The House Committee report appropriately recognizes this when they write

The recommendation does not include the establishment of a climate service as proposed in the budget request. Instead, the recommendation funds NOAA programs in accordance with the current NOAA organizational structure.

This  decision by the House of Representatives and the Conference Committee (which reconciles House and Senate bills)  is a good one.

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Comments On The Physics Today Article “Science Controversies Past and Present” By Steve Sherwood

Professor Steven Sherwood

In the  October 2011 issue of Physics Today, there is a 6 page  article that presents an inappropriately narrow perspective on climate science, as well as ridiculing those who disagree with the author [this is one of two such articles with this viewpoint -I will post on the second article this coming week].

The paper is

Steven Sherwood, 2011: Science controversies past and present. Physics Today. October 2011. ISSN: 0031-9228

The author, Steve Sherwood is a codirector of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

The abstract for this article is

Reactions to the science of global warming have followed a similar course to those of other inconvenient truths from physics.
Excerpts from the article are [highlight added]
“Science—especially the science behind climate change—is under fire. The climate issue has sparked a vigorous, and at times surreal, public debate that seems to pit experts against one another on even the most basic facts, such as whether human greenhouse gas emissions dominate natural ones, whether added carbon dioxide alters the planetary emission of thermal radiation to space, and whether global temperatures are rising……… The climate debate has spread far beyond the confines of any of those scientific circles and into the media and public sphere, where politicization and vitriol are legion.”
My Comment:  Steve Sherwood is careless with his facts (and the referees failed to identify such errors),  where he wrote  “human greenhouse gas emissions dominate natural ones“. The human input of CO2 is dwarfed by the natural input and extraction annually; e.g. see the figure below from NOAA’s ESRL. What Sherwood should have said (and the referees should have insisted on) was that “the annual averaged human greenhouse gas emissions dominate annual averaged changes in  natural  emissions and extraction“.
CO2 Trend for Mauna Loa
Sherwood continues with
Although nearly all experts accept that the greenhouse gases emitted by humans have caused significant warming to the planet and will likely cause much more, only about half the US public agrees, even after years of heavy media coverage. How did we get into such a mess? What are the implications for science, for how it should be communicated, and for how debates should be interpreted? Some insights may be gained by noting that global warming is not the first “inconvenient truth” in physics….
My Comment:  I agree nearly all experts accept that the added greenhouse gases are a positive radiative forcing.  However, Sherwood trivializes the climate issue by focusing on just this one human climate forcing. He perpetuates the myth that the addition of CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases dominates changes in climate; i.e. hypothesis #2b in
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. 
We refuted Steve Sherwood’s claim in that paper as well as in
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.
 Steve continues
Greenhouse warming today faces an even greater array of bogus counterarguments based on the uninformed interpretation of data from ice cores, erroneous views about natural carbon sources, alleged but unobserved alternative drivers of climate change, naive expectations of the time scales over which models and observations should match, and various forms of statistical chicanery and logical fallacy. Many of the arguments sound reasonable to an inexpert but intelligent layperson. Critics use the alleged flaws to attempt to discredit the entire field.
My Comment:  “Many of the arguments sound reasonable to an inexpert but intelligent layperson” because they better fit with reality!  For example, he writes about “alleged but unobserved alternative drivers of climate”  but fails to identify what these are. This is another clear failure in the article.  There are a multitude of other human and natural climate forcings, as summarized, for instance, in the book The Climate Fix and in Pielke Sr 2008.
Steve then insults those who disagree with him.
Debates between mainstream scientists and silver-tongued opponents cannot be won by the side of truth no matter how obvious the fallacies may be to an expert. Incredibly, as recently as the mid-19th century, a highly charismatic figure calling himself “Parallax” devoted two decades of his life to crisscrossing England arguing that Earth was flat. He debated legitimate astronomers—sometimes teams of them—in town-hall-type settings and wowed audiences.10 For similar reasons, Einstein himself gave up debating his critics early in the 1920s.
The hubris in the article is amazing
As another example from the article, the adoption of the Copernicus view of the solar system is equated in importance with his scientific view of  global warming.  Sherwood writes
It took both Copernicanism and greenhouse warming roughly a century to go from initial proposal to broad acceptance by the relevant scientific communities.
 In the caption to Figure 3, Steve writes
Greenhouse warming and its perceived policy implications challenge widely held libertarian ideals and provoke economic fears, as evidenced by the negative correlation between acceptance of anthropogenic climate change and coal production, especially among the wealthiest nations.
The article ends with the text
Sadly, some new textbooks in climate and atmospheric physics are being written with long prefaces explaining why students should believe what the textbook says, despite contrary information from their parents, radio talk show hosts, or the internet. Normally a textbook does not have to defend itself. Since modern science, and physics especially, is done primarily at the pleasure of the taxpaying public, such developments should concern all scientists.
At the same time, history tells us that in the end, science will probably come out fine. Whether the planet will is another matter.
Is is disappointing that this article appeared as a “feature article” rather than an opinion piece in Physics Today or elsewhere. It is yet another example of using a scientific journal to advocate a particular perspective on the climate change issue and to disparage those with whom they disagree.

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Filed under Climate Science Misconceptions, Climate Science Reporting