Monthly Archives: December 2011

Happy New Year!

I am taking off this week from posting and will start again on January 2 2012. Meanwhile, enjoy this Holiday week!

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Merry Christmas!!!

I wish everyone, on all sides of the climate science debate, an enjoyable Holiday Season!!!

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Further Confirmation Of Klotzbach Et Al 2009

Update:

After I wrote and scheduled  this post, I see that John Christy and Roy Spencer have a directly related weblog post titled

Addressing Criticisms of the UAH Temperature Dataset at 1/3 Century

which appeared yesterday.

As many of you may know, Gavin Schmidt was critical of our paper

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841

where we concluded that

 “This paper investigates surface and satellite temperature trends over the period from 1979 to 2008. Surface temperature data sets from the National Climate Data Center and the Hadley Center show larger trends over the 30-year period than the lower-tropospheric data from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems data sets. The differences between trends observed in the surface and lower-tropospheric satellite data sets are statistically significant in most comparisons, with much greater differences over land areas than over ocean areas. These findings strongly suggest that there remain important inconsistencies between surface and satellite records.”

We looked at the issues he raised and clarified our analysis further in

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: “An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841″, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655

where we concluded that the findings in our 2009 paper are robust. In our 2010 paper, we concluded that, with respect to our 2009 paper,

“….no changes are needed in our paper’s conclusions.”

There is now an independent confirmation of our results as reported by Steve McIntyre in his weblog post

Un-Muddying the Waters

on November 7 2011.  I expected a further response from Gavin Schmidt on this issue, but have finally decided to post on Steve’s post and comments as there has been no additional interaction’s on this subject that I am aware of.

In Steve’s post, he concluded that

“….the discrepancy between the revised downscaling of Klotzbach et al 2010 and Schmidt’s Nov 2009 realclimate post – is now totally reconciled. The amended numbers of Klotzbach et al 2010 appear reasonable.

Gavin Schmidt’s criticism of the downscaling over land in Klotzbach et al 2009 and of my original graphic in Closing BEST Comments post was justified, but his own figures for downscaling were incorrect. The diagnosis of the discrepancy was complicated by the fact that his actual method did not correspond to the most reasonable interpretation of his realclimate article. Thanks to Gavin’s clarifications, we now have what seems to be a definitive diagnosis of the discrepancy and where Gavin got wrongfooted. It seems to me that it would be constructive to note the resolution of the discrepancy in the original RC post.”

The significance of the discussion between Steve and Gavin is that the large discrepancy between the global annual average lower tropospheric and surface temperature anomalies remains.  The Muller BEST analysis does not in any way alter this conclusion.

The current discrepancy can be see in the three figures below. The BEST analysis is only for the land, but the ocean anomalies would have to be significantly negative to result in an anomaly plot close to the RSS analysis of lower tropospheric temperatures. The GISS analysis presented in the third figure shows that the positive temperature anomalies, which are much higher than the RSS (and, the UAH) lower tropospheric anomalies, persist in the global average.

Fig 1. Lower tropospheric global average temperature anomaly from RSS with the bottom axis  1979 to 2012 in yearly tick marks [from http://www.ssmi.com/msu/msu_data_description.html]

Fig 2. BEST global-land average surface temperature anomalies [from  http://berkeleyearth.org/faq/]

Fig 3. Global surface temperature anomalies from NASA GISS [ http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/]

 

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Example Of A Bottom-Up, Resource-Based Perspective On Environmental Risks – CBS 60 Minutes – “The Gardens of the Queen”

CBS 60 minutes presented an excellent example of the value of a bottom-up, resource-based prespective of risk as we have proposed 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.

We urge focusing on 5 resources –  water, food, energy, human health and ecosystem function.

The 60 minutes show, televised on December 18 2011, and reported by Anderson Cooper,  is titled

The Gardens of the Queen

and looks at ecosystem function of a tropical coral reef.

Excerpts of text from the show include from Anderson [highlights added]

Coral reefs are often called “the rainforests of the ocean.” They’re not just biologically diverse and stunningly beautiful, they’re a source of food and income for nearly a billion people. They’re also in danger. Scientists estimate that 25 percent of the world’s reefs have died off and much of what’s left is at risk. There is, however, one spot in the Caribbean that marine biologists describe as a kind of “under-water Eden,” a coral reef largely untouched by man.

Anderson Cooper stated that

 I’ve been diving in many places all over the world and I’ve never seen so many large fish. Like this grouper here. There’s about six or seven Caribbean reef sharks like this circling around right now. Scientists will tell you the presence of so many sharks and different species of sharks, is a sign of a very healthy reef.

David Guggenheim [an American marine biologist and a senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation in Washington, D.C.} said that

I went to Veracruz, Mexico, and I was told about the magnificence of the Veracruz Reefs. And when we got there, we saw that 95 percent of that reef had died and it had died quickly since the last time scientists were there. And I felt like I was going through a city, a magnificent civilization that had once stood there, but it was burned out. Nobody was there.

Scientists say the world’s reefs are being harmed by a complex combination of factors; including pollution, agricultural runoff, coastal development, and overfishing. It turns out fish are essential to the health of a reef. Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other leading institutions are also very concerned about climate change because they believe rising ocean temperatures are triggering a process called “bleaching” in which the coral weakens, turns white and often dies.

and

The reason this reef’s doing so well, Fabian Pina believes, is that it’s far from the mainland and well-protected.

Anderson Cooper stated that

Fabian [Fabian Pina is a Cuban marine biologist] and David have noticed some bleaching here, but the coral tends to recover after a few months, leading them to wonder whether there’s something about this reef that’s making it more resistant to threats.

David Gugenheim stated that

Maybe it’s because this ecosystem is being protected, it’s got a leg up on other ecosystems around the world that are being heavily fished and heavily impacted by pollution. So that makes it more resilient. That’s one of the theories that if we do what we can locally that these reefs have a better chance of being resilient to what’s happening globally.

There is a very important message from this news report. The risks to coral reefs are dominated by local interference by humans on its ecosystem function.  Such effects include local pollution (e.g. runoff from rivers and shorelines and from shipping; overfishing including the major predator species such as sharks).

What seems to be a minor, or even an inconsequential effect, is any warming of the ocean (i.e. global warming) despite the reference by NOAA in the CBS show  to bleaching (they also showed a calving glacier :-)).

Despite this short reference to  global warming in the CBS report, the report is quite an important addition to the broadening out of environmental issues beyond the myopic focus on global warming. The contrast between reef health near Veracruz, Mexico and the Cuba Preserve should convincingly show objective readers that coral bleaching from global warming is clearly not the largest threat to the health of tropical coral reefs.

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The Proposed Multi-Dimensional Growth Of The EPA In Climate Science

There is a news article by  of Fox News titled

EPA Ponders Expanded Regulatory Power In Name of ‘Sustainable Development’

which includes the text [highlight added]

“Environmental impact assessment tends to focus  primarily on the projected environmental effects of a particular action and  alternatives to that action,” the study says. Sustainability impact assessment  examines “the probable effects of a particular project or proposal on the  social, environmental, and economic pillars of sustainability”—a greatly  expanded approach.

One outcome: “The culture change being proposed here will require EPA to conduct an expanding number of assessments.”

As a result, “The agency can become more  anticipatory, making greater use of new science and of forecasting.”

The catch, the study recognizes, is that under the  new approach the EPA becomes more involved than ever in predicting the  future.”

In my post on May 15 2009

Comments On The EPA “Proposed Endangerment And Cause Or Contribute Findings For Greenhouse Gases Under The Clean Air Act”

I wrote

I have generally supported most EPA actions which have been designed to support environmental improvement. These regulations have resulted in much cleaner water and air quality over the past several decades; e.g. see

National Research Council, 2003: Managing carbon monoxide pollution in meteorological and topographical problem areas. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 196 pp.

However, the EPA Endangerment Findings for CO2 as a climate forcing falls far outside of the boundary of the type of regulations that this agency should be seeking.

The EPA on April 17, 2009 released this finding in “Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act”.

This report is a clearly biased presentation of the science which continues to use the same reports (IPCC and CCSP) to promote a particular political viewpoint on climate (and energy) policy).

The text includes the statements

“The Administrator signed a proposal with two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:

Action

“The Administrator is proposing to find that the current and projected concentrations of the mix of six key greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. This is referred to as the endangerment finding.

The Administrator is further proposing to find that the combined emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, and HFCs from new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. This is referred to as the cause or contribute finding.”

As Climate Science has shown in the past; e.g. see

New Plans To Regulate CO2 As A Pollutant

Comments On The Plan To Declare Carbon Dioxide as a Dangerous Pollutant

A Carbon Tax For Animal Emissions – More Unintended Consequences Of Carbon Policy In The Guise Of Climate Policy

Will Climate Effects Trump Health Effects In Air Quality Regulations?

Supreme Court Rules That The EPA Can Regulate CO2 Emissions

Science Issues Related To The Lawsuit To The Supreme Court As To Whether CO2 is a Pollutant

the “cause” for their endangerment finding can cover any human caused climate forcing.

In my May 15 2009 post, I gave an example of how their finding could be rewritten to cover other human climate forcings. As another example, based on our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., A. Pitman, D. Niyogi, R. Mahmood, C. McAlpine, F. Hossain, K. Goldewijk, U. Nair, R. Betts, S. Fall, M. Reichstein, P. Kabat, and N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, 2011: Land  use/land cover changes and climate: Modeling analysis  and  observational evidence. WIREs Clim Change 2011. doi: 10.1002/wcc.144

the paragraph above for an EPA Action could be rewritten as

The Administrator is further proposing to find that certain land use changes result in a threat of climate change. This is referred to as the cause or contribute finding.”

The EPA. according to this news report, could be developing justification to move into areas of regulation that they have not been involved with in the past, including land management.

They also, as implied in the article,  reply on multi-decadal climate predictions of societal and environmental impacts, which, as has been shown 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

and weblog posts; e.g. see

The Huge Waste Of Research Money In Providing Multi-Decadal Climate Projections For The New IPCC Report

have NO predictive skill.  The EPA would be seeking broader regulatory ability to influence policy but without a sound scientific basis.

I have always been a strong supporter of clean air and water, as exemplified with my two terms on the Colorado Air Quality Commission during the administration of Governor Romer (D).  I have published numerous papers and taught classes on air quality including  the use of mesoscale and boundary layer models to develop improved proceedures to assess the risk of pollution from power plant plumes, vehicular emissions, and other sources of these contaniments.  The EPA has been a leader in the effort to reduce human and environmental exposure to toxic and hazardous pollutants.

However, the broadening of the EPA into climate forcings based on model predictions, as reported in the Fox News article,  is a significant concern.

I would be interested in a dialog with them, based on the bottom-up, resource-based vulnerabiltiy persepective presented 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

to see what areas of risk should fit within their regulatory framework. As we wrote in that paper, the bottom-up, resource-based framework

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.”

In my view, this is the way forward with respect to assessing “sustainability”, and discussions should be undertaken to ascertain if the EPA is the right venue to do this.

As reported in the Fox News article, however, the EPA is considering the broadening out of their regulatory authority, but without building on a sound scientific foundation.  There is no evidence that their approach to sustainability uses the inclusive, bottom-up assessment approach, such as given in our 2011 paper.

If the EPA persists in using the top-down IPCC approach to develop impact assessments, they will inevitably develop seriously flawed policy responses.

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Meeting Announcement “Non-CO2 Influences Of Land Cover Changes On Climate” At The European Geosciences Union General Assembly – Vienna, 22 – 27 April 2012

I received this meeting announcement today. I am pleased to see this much need broadening beyond CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases. The use of carbon stocks as the measure of climate change is, by itself, insufficient to characterize the climate system. The meeting will add important new insight into non-CO2 climate forcings. The information on the meeting follows.

I wanted to bring to your attention a session entitled “Non-CO2 influences of land cover changes on climate” at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly (Vienna, 22 – 27 April 2012), that Pierre Bernier, Vivek Arora, Alvaro Montenegro and I are organizing. Abstracts must be submitted by 17 January 2012. We hope that you can participate. It would be a chance to get researchers in this field to come together to present and discuss findings.

Sincerely

Neil Bird (on behalf of Pierre, Vivek and Alvaro)

Ps. Please forward this email to colleagues that may be interested

BG2.4 Non-CO2 influences of land cover changes on climate

Convener: P.Y. Bernier [cid:image001.gif@01CCBB48.AF8D3C50] <javascript:void(0)> Co-Conveners: D. N. Bird [cid:image001.gif@01CCBB48.AF8D3C50] <javascript:void(0)> , V. Arora [cid:image001.gif@01CCBB48.AF8D3C50] <javascript:void(0)> , A. Montenegro [cid:image001.gif@01CCBB48.AF8D3C50] <javascript:void(0)> Abstract Submission<http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2012/abstractsubmission/10343>

Convener Login<http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2012/sessionmodification/10343>

Changes in land cover properties that accompany land use changes can impact climate. Changes in carbon stocks are used as a convenient proxy for these climate impacts, but changes in other land cover properties can also affect the climate in ways that can amplify or diminish the effect of carbon stock changes. This session will be open to presentations on changes in albedo, latent heat transfer and other mechanisms through which land cover changes affect climate at regional to global scales.

http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2012/session/10343

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What Climategate 2.0 Says About The Prediction Of Multi-Decadal Regional Climate Change

Marcel Crok has alerted us to the post by Maurizio Morabito titled

On The Slow, Painful (and Deadly) Demise Of The IPCC

at the weblog The Unbearable Nakedness of Climate Change

Their post involves the discussion of the predictive skill of multi-decadal regional climate change. It is essential to recall that the climate models must not only be able to skillfully predict current climate statistics but also how these statistics would change due to the human intervention of the climate system.

Vast amounts of money are being spent (and wasted) claiming that such multi-decadal climate change predictions are accurate and can be used by the impacts community. See, for example, my recent post

The Huge Waste Of Research Money In Providing Multi-Decadal Climate Projections For The New IPCC Report

Misleading Climate Science – An Example Of Multi-Decadal Regional Climate Predictions With No Demonstrated Skill On That Time Scale

I have reproduced  On The Slow, Painful (and Deadly) Demise Of The IPCC post below, including retaining the highlighted text.

Climategate 2.0 is helping filling some knowledge gaps, for example in the way the IPCC has been slowing killing itself, and several thousands humans to. The following concerns Regional Projections, and it’s a tragedy of communication.

Willingly or not, the IPCC has become a source of deadly confusion exactly because it has provided the information its audience wanted, even if it was scientifically unprepared to prepare that information.

It’s the year 2000 and the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) is being prepared. As we can see in file 0598.txt, there is a frank exchange of opinions about WG1-Chapter 10 “Regional Climate Information – Evaluation and Projections”, between Filippo Giorgi (Coordinating Lead Author), Hans Von Storch (Lead Author), Jens H. Christensen (Lead Author) (my emphasis of course):

Giorgi:

Under the “encouragement” of Sir John, we also decided to add a text box on what we can say about regional climate change over different continents. This will probably be the most-read part of the chapter, so we need to be very careful with it. I and Peter will produce a draft to circulate. I know that originally we did not want to do this, but this is what they are asking us to do and it is now very clear that it is the main purpose of the chapter, so we have to do it.

Von Storch:

First, I don’t think that John Houghton is particularly qualified in saying anything about regional assessments. So far as I know he has no relevant official capacity in the process,and he has not been particularly helpful in SAR. Actually, I consider him a politically interested activist and not as a scientist.[…] I do not agree [about adding the text box]. What were the arguments we originally did not want to do this? What are the new arguments overriding our previous concerns? I am sure that people would love to read this statement in New York Times. We don’t feel confident to make a statement, and then, suddenly, under the encouragement of Sir John, we include it? This is truly embarrassing. If the purpose of the Chapter is to produce statements on regions, and we found we can not do that, what should the assessment be? Simply: “We can not do it at this time, but we have a variety of techniques to derive scenarios. However, for various reasons, we can not say that they are consistent, even if there is some convergence.”

Giorgi:

This is an important point […] In my eyes Sir John represents the typical reader of this report and if he made that comment and “encouragement” it means that our chapter is not sending the proper message (after all he is one of the chairs of IPCC WGI). You may remember that I was always of the opinion that we were talking too much about techniques and too little about climate change. Now I think that we need to change that to the extent possible: reduce technical issues, increase climate change information. We actually already have a lot of that information in there, especially in the AOGCM part. What Sir John asked was to make it more “legible”, and we decided in Auckland to make it in the form of a box. We cannot invent information of course, but we can condense it in this box by including 1) the info relative to what AOGCMs sy for different continent, which is already there; 2) all possible other info from the techniques. If there is none or if we can say nothing we’ll say we cannot do it for that specific region. but I think we need to do something because the way it is, the chapter does not address the right audience, which is not only made up only of scientists.

AGAIN, I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW FROM ALL OF YOU WHETHER WE SHOULD HAVE A BOX IN THERE WITH INFORMATION FOR REGIONS OR NOT. I DO BELIEVE THAT THIS WOULD BE THE MOST READ PART OF THE CHAPTER, WHICH WOULD BE A PROOF THAT NOW WE ARE MISSING THE TARGET. SO LET EVERYONE ELSE KNOW.

Christensen:

I just want to add my opinion on this. I do agree with the point that we have to offer the regional information available. By setting up the box with the regions, we will provide the obvious assessment over many regions, which Hans has put forward so simple: The quality of the global models are too poor to give any clear information about regional climate change. We can state for the various regions, where there is some information, to what extend there is agreement between models etc. However, even agreement amongst models does not at this stage allow for any thorough assessment about uncertainties about changes. This must come out crystal clear, even if this will be the message for all regions! At least we will make out point about assessing regional climate change very clear this way.

Months later, the report comes out. Houghton’s text box has become “Box 10.1: Regional climate change in AOGCMs which use SRES emission scenarios” (page 600 here). Caveats are in place:

Introduction This box summarises results on regional climate change obtained from a set of nine AOGCM simulations undertaken using SRES preliminary marker emission scenarios A2 and B2. […].These results should be treated as preliminary only.

However, Christensen’s cautionary suggestion is totally reversed, and agreement among models is seen as a measure of certainty of changes “relatively speaking”:

Agreement across the different scenarios and climate models suggests, relatively speaking, less uncertainty about the nature of regional climate change than where there is disagreement

It’s now 2007. The equivalent chapter is AR4 WG 1-Chapter 11 “Regional Climate Projections“. Christensen is now a Coordinating Lead Author, Giorgi a Review Editor. And what has happened to the chapter?

  1. The “Summary of the Third Assessment Report” is mostly a summary of Box 10.1 described above. Everything else has been thrown in the classical bin
  2. The whole chapter in 2007 is actually a giant version of Box 10.1 in 2003
  3. Amazingly (and unscientifically) we’re being spoken of some “robust findings on regional climate change for mean and extreme precipitation, drought and snow”
Giorgi’s “target” has been achieved. The “most read part in the chapter” has become the whole chapter. A description of the current knowledge has become less important than providing what people asked. The audience has won, and the science has lost.
Then it gets worse.
Even in 2007, regional changes described by the IPCC are for the 2080-2099. Captions are very explicit on the subject. For example look IPCC AR4 WG1 report, section 11.2  about Africa. In particular, figure 11-2 is about “Temperature and precipitation changes over Africa from the MMD-A1B simulations“. Both in the text and in the caption, the projected time period of 2080-2099 is clearly indicated.
In 2011 however, Chris Funk feels compelled to write a column for Nature, published on Aug 3 as “We thought trouble was coming“, describing “how his group last year forecast the drought in Somalia that is now turning into famine — and how that warning wasn’t enough” and in particular lamenting that
The global climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were never intended to provide rainfall trend projections for every region. These models say that East Africa will become wetter, yet observations show substantial declines in spring rainfall in recent years. Despite this, several agencies are building long-term plans on the basis of the forecast of wetter conditions..

Those agencies might have foolishly misunderstood the IPCC message. Perhaps, they believe too much in it, missing therefore the small print indicating wetter conditions are expected 70 years since.

And so we have gone full circle. Originally provided by scientists ready to stretch the science on the “encouragement” by Sir John Houghton, in the space of a single decade Regional Projections have gone on to become an unwittingly deadly tool.

As added information, I was invited to serve as one of the contributing authors of the regional modeling part of the 1995 IPCC report [of which Fillipo Giorgi was also involved with]. I resigned from the IPCC as documented in the letter below (see also my post on this letter)

The erroneous IPCC presentation of multi-decadal regional climate prediction skill continues today (2011).  The views I expressed in the letter are further bolstered by these Climategate 2.0 e-mails.

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