Category Archives: Climate Change Metrics

Publication Of “Reply to “Comment On ‘Ocean Heat Content And Earth’s Radiation Imbalance. II. Relation To Climate Shifts’ ” by Nuccitelli Et Al. By Douglass and Knox 2012

David Douglass alerted me to his reply to

Dana Nuccitelli, Robert Way, Rob Painting, John Church, John Cook: 2012: Comment on “Ocean heat content and Earth’s radiation imbalance. II. Relation to climate shifts” . Physics Letters A

in

D.H. Douglass, R.S. Knox, 2012: Reply to “Comment on ‘Ocean heat content and Earth’s radiation imbalance. II. Relation to climate shifts’ ” by Nuccitelli et al. Physics Letters A

The first and last paragraphs of his Reply summarize with

Nuccitelli, Way, Painting, Church and Cook [1] comment on our Letter “Ocean heat content and Earth’s radiation imbalance. II. Relation to climate shifts” [2]. Their criticism is unwarranted on at least three essential grounds. (1) It is based on a misunderstanding of the climate shift concept, which is central to our Letter; (2) in making its claim of incompleteness because of neglect of the deeper ocean heat content, it ignores our statement of possible error and introduces incompatible data; (3) it over-interprets our comments about CO2 forcing. We expand on these points.

In sum, we show that the criticism of our results (change of slope in the implied FTOA at the climate shift of 2001–2002) by Nuccitelli et al. is unwarranted because they used different data of less temporal resolution. A more careful analysis of this data shows, in fact, consistency and not conflict with our results.

I recommend reading the Douglass and Knox original article, and both the Comment and Reply. The original article is

D.H. Douglass, R.S. Knox, 2012: Ocean heat content and Earthʼs radiation imbalance. II. Relation to climate shifts. Physics Letters A, Volume 376, Issue 14, 5 March 2012, Pages 1226-1229

source of image

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University Of Alabama At Huntsville October 2012 Lower Tropospheric Temperature Analysis

Phillip Gentry has provided us with the University of Alabama at Huntsville global lower  tropospheric temperature analysis. Their figures are posted at the top of this post, and their text below [click on the figures for a clearer version]

Global Temperature Report: October 2012

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.14 C per decade

October temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for October.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.30 C (about 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for October.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.36 C (about 0.65 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for October.

Tropics: +0.11 C (about 0.20 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for October.

September temperatures (revised):

Global Composite: +0.34 C above 30-year average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.35 C above 30-year average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.33 C above 30-year average

Tropics: +0.15 C above 30-year average

(All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month reported.)

Notes on data released Nov. 6, 2012:

The pause in the anticipated El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event — seen in the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific during the past two months — is now appearing in the tropical upper air, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. The absent El Niño shows up in the relative temperatures of the world’s parts: While October 2012 was the second warmest October in the satellite record for the Southern Hemisphere and fourth warmest for the north, the tropics were scarcely warmer than normal for the month — only the 13th “warmest” October in the 34-year satellite record.

Compared to seasonal norms, the coldest area on the globe in October was south central Saskatchewan to the east of Saskatoon, which was 2.28 C (about 4.1 Fahrenheit) cooler than normal for the month. The warmest area was in the central Bering Sea, where temperatures averaged 3.95 C (about 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms for October.

Archived color maps of local temperature anomalies are available on-line at:

http://nsstc.uah.edu/climate/

The processed temperature data is available on-line at:

vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAHuntsville, NOAA and NASA, John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal scientist, use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature data is collected and processed, it is placed in a “public” computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

Neither Christy nor Spencer receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from federal and state grants or contracts.

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“Hurricanes: Their Nature And Impacts On Society” Published In 1997 By Pielke Jr. and Pielke Sr. Available As A PDF

Our book

Pielke, R.A., Jr. and R.A. Pielke, Sr., 1997: Hurricanes: Their nature and impacts  on society. John Wiley and Sons, England, 279 pp.

is available as a pdf. The material is not updated for more recent storms (since 1997) but the recommendations and information on tropical cyclones may useful in the discussion of the impacts of Sandy. Of particular interest related to such late season hurricanes is the text on Hurricane Hazel (1954) where we wrote that

Hazel joined with another storm system to devastate inland communities from Virginia to Ontario, Canada. Washington, DC experienced its strongest winds ever recorded……..In 1954, Hurricane Hazel…..underwent a similar rapid acceleration to a speed of 60 mph (27 meters per second), as strong south to southwesterly winds developed to the west of the storm. Hazel crossed the North Carolina coastline at 9:25 am on 15 October, and reached Toronto, Canada only 14 hours later where it resulted in 80 deaths (Joe et al. 1995). At that time, it was the most destructive hurricane to reach the North Carolina coast. Every fishing pier was destroyed over a distance of 170 miles (270 km) from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Cedar Island, North Carolina. All traces of civilization were practically annihilated at the immediate waterfront between Cape Fear and the South Carolina state line.

We reported that

“….tropical cyclones can become absorbed into developing mid-latitude storms thereby infusing added moisture and wind energy from the tropical cyclone and resulting in a more intense mid-latitude storm than otherwise would occur.

Clearly, this later behavior is what made Sandy a much stronger storm than either a mid-latitude or hurricane would have been separately. In contrast to Hazel, however, Sandy was not as strong a hurricane. It also tracked towards the west as it interacted with the developing mid-latitude storm rather than accelerating northward as Hazel did.  This resulted in the large fetch of easterly and southeasterly winds into northern New Jersey, Long Island and New Your City which produced the large storm surge.

Our book also discusses the impacts of tropical cyclones which includes extreme winds, storm surge, tornadoes, flash flooding and riverine (i.e. large river) flooding. The analysis has yet to be completed, but I suspect that storm surge will attributed, by far, to  largest economic damage.

Also, with a storm of this magnitude, the National Hurricane Center, the National Center for Environmental Prediction, the media and public officials must be recognized and commended for their early warming. This has resulted in a much lower loss of life than would have otherwise occurred.

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Further Analysis Of The Size Of Tropical Storm and Hurricane Force Winds in Sandy

The above outstanding analysis of the wind field of Hurricane Sandy by NOAA’s AOML Hurricane Research Division [h/t Frank Marks] further documents the size of tropical storm and hurricane force winds. As noted in their caption, these winds are valid for marine exposure over water and open terrain exposure over land. Other time periods and analyses can be viewed at their website – Sandy Wind Analysis.

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The Size Of Hurricane Sandy – How Does It Compare?

Hurricane Sandy became  a very large tropical cyclone as it morphed into a hybrid large low pressure system. The figure above from our book

Pielke, R.A., Jr. and R.A. Pielke, Sr., 1997: Hurricanes: Their nature and impacts  on society. John Wiley and Sons, England, 279 pp. Hurricane Sandy provides examples of sizes of tropical cyclones that occurred in the past. The largest, Tip in 1979, was from the western North Pacific Ocean.

The size of Sandy, as reported by the National hurricane Center, is given for two time periods late in its lifetime below.

1100 AM EDT SUN OCT 28 2012

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…75 MPH…120 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NE OR 45 DEGREES AT 14 MPH…22 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…951 MB…28.08 INCHES

HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 175 MILES…280 KM…FROM
THE CENTER…AND TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 520
MILES…835 KM.

1100 AM EDT MON OCT 29 2012

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…90 MPH…150 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NNW OR 330 DEGREES AT 18 MPH…30 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…943 MB…27.85 INCHES

HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 175 MILES…280 KM…
MAINLY SOUTHWEST OF THE CENTER…AND TROPICAL-STORM-FORCE WINDS
EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 485 MILES…780 KM.

For comparison with the figure from the book, the distance between 5 degrees of latitude in the figure below is 555 km (300 nautical miles or 345 statute miles ).  Tip had tropical storm winds out to ~700km on the east side and  hurricane winds out to about ~175 km from the eye.

The  analyses from NHC [shown below] show that Sandy’s size of tropical storm and hurricane winds were comparable to Tip, but, fortunately, the hurricane winds were much less in Sandy.  Also, the radius of hurricane winds, appears to have contracted substantially at and right after landfall.

Clearly, Sandy was a giant tropical cyclone, and rivals the largest ones in size that occur in the Pacific Ocean. A major difference with Tip, however, is that Tip attained wind speeds of up to 190 mph (305 km/h) and a central pressure of 870 millibars (25.69 inches of mercury) – see, while Sandy was a much more modest hurricane.  This suggests the potential that if a major hurricane (such as Hazel from 1955) followed the same path as Sandy as it merged with a midlatitude storm system, a truly worse-case superstorm could occur.  Thus the worse-case scenario, even with the current climate, did not happen with Sandy.

Regardless, how, or if, the risk from hurricane landfalls of this type increases in the future, a prudent policy path would be to reduce the risk from all plausible hurricane landfalls. through more effective land use planning. 

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September 2012 Lower Tropospheric Temperature Anomaly Analysis From The University of Alabama At Huntsville

Phillip Gentry has provided us with the September 2012 lower tropospheric temperature anomaly analysis from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. It is presented below [click each image for a clearer view]. Note the large spatial variations in the temperature anomalies.

Global Temperature Report: August 2012

Changing satellites as instruments die

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.14 C per decade

September temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.34 C (about 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for September.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.35 C (about 0.63 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for September.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for September.

Tropics: +0.15 C (about 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for September.

August temperatures (revised):

Global Composite: +0.21 C above 30-year average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.21 C above 30-year average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.20 C above 30-year average

Tropics: +0.06 C above 30-year average

(All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month reported.)

Notes on data released Oct. 8, 2012:

September 2012 was the third warmest September in the 34-year satellite temperature record, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Three of the last four Septembers were warmer than September 1998, during the El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event “of the century.” The last September that was cooler than the 30-year baseline seasonal norm was in 2000.

Compared to seasonal norms, the coldest spot on the globe in September was (again) at the South Pole, where the Antarctic spring temperature averaged 3.31 C (almost 6 degrees Fahrenheit) colder than normal. The “warmest” spot was just north of Monbetsu, Japan, where temperatures in September averaged 3.72 C (about 6.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms.

The temperatures reported in this report are from different instruments than have been used in the recent past, Christy said.

“Some things are just out of our control,” he said. “In the past three years our backbone satellite – NASA’s AQUA, which has been operating since 2002 – has experienced an increase in ‘noise.’ Until now, however, the differences between temperature values recorded by AQUA and two other satellites, NOAA 15 and NOAA 18, were within 0.1 C. That is within our typical margin of error for monthly global values and not of much concern.

“In September, the difference jumped to 0.2 C. Looking at the daily values, that gap was increasing as the month ended. It appears that for our climate project, AQUA is no longer useful.”

AQUA has on-board propulsion that allows it to maintain a stable orbit, which means the temperature data it collected was also stable. Orbital drift (east or west) and orbital decay cause systemic changes in temperature data, either warmer or cooler depending on which way the satellite’s orbit is shifting. While the UAHuntsville team has developed and published techniques for correcting errors caused by orbital drift or decay, data from a satellite in a stable orbit is easier to process and should be more reliable.

There is, however, no technique to correct for a failing instrument.

“We haven’t used NOAA-15 or NOAA-18 in the past few years because they each are drifting in orbit,” Christy said. “NOAA-15 is moving to slightly warmer temperature and NOAA-18 to slightly cooler. It is clear, however, that the slight differences between the temperature values they report (less than 0.1 C) are small and their average will be very close to the actual temperatures, as their errors will cancel each other out.

“We have implemented a simple solution for the data problem, which we will call version 5.5 of the UAHuntsville satellite dataset,” Christy said. “For the data beginning in January 2010 we will use the average of NOAA-15 and NOAA-18, and will leave out AQUA. The only change is the source of data. As it turns out, the long-term global climate trend doesn’t change, because the real problem only developed in the past month.”

The UAHuntsville team is working now on version 6.0 of the dataset, which will more precisely account for issues like the small orbital drifts in NOAA-15 and NOAA-18. There is no schedule for the release of the new dataset: “We are taking our time and having an independent scientist write the new code from scratch, to insure that it is testable and transportable. That takes time. Until the new version is released, the values provided by version 5.5 will give us more accurate information than relying on the instrument on the AQUA satellite.”

Archived color maps of local temperature anomalies are available on-line at:

http://nsstc.uah.edu/climate/

The processed temperature data is available on-line at:

vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAHuntsville, NOAA and NASA, John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal scientist, use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature data is collected and processed, it is placed in a “public” computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

Neither Christy nor Spencer receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from federal and state grants or contracts.

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New Paper “An Empirical Study Of The Impact Of Human Activity On Long-Term Temperature Change In China: A Perspective From Energy Consumption” By Li And Zhao 2012

Figure from Li and Zhao (2012) –  Spatial distribution of high, mid and low energy consumption region in China. Data for Tibet and Taiwan are absent. Green spot is the provincial capital cities of China.

Jos de Laat has alerted us to a new paper. It is

Li, Y. and X. Zhao (2012), An empirical study of the impact of human activity on long-term temperature change in China: A perspective from energy consumption, J. Geophys. Res., 117, D17117, doi:10.1029/2012JD018132.

The abstract reads [highlight added]

Human activity is an important contributor to local temperature change, especially in urban areas. Energy consumption is treated here as an index of the intensity of human induced local thermal forcing. The relationship between energy consumption and temperature change is analyzed in China by Observation Minus Reanalysis (OMR) method. Temperature trends for observation, reanalysis and OMR are estimated from meteorological records and 2 m-temperature from NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis 1 for the period 1979–2007. A spatial mapping scheme based on the spatial and temporal relationship between energy consumption and Gross Domestic Production (GDP) is developed to derive the spatial distribution of energy consumption of China in 2003. A positive relationship between energy consumption and OMR trends is found in high and mid energy consumption region. OMR trends decline with the decreasing intensity of human activity from 0.20°C/decade in high energy consumption region to 0.13°C/decade in mid energy consumption region. Forty-four stations in high energy consumption region that are exposed to the largest human impact are selected to investigate the impact of energy consumption spatial pattern on temperature change. Results show human impact on temperature trends is highly dependent on spatial pattern of energy consumption. OMR trends decline from energy consumption center to surrounding areas (0.26 to 0.04°C/decade) and get strengthened as the spatial extent of high energy consumption area expands (0.14 to 0.25°C/decade).

Excerpts from this paper include

Besides the impact of land use change on climate, the thermal impact induced by human activity within city plays significant role and should not be ignored. One of them is the anthropogenic heat released from energy consumption. Several studies have shown that anthropogenic heat is important to the development of UHI. Simulation results from a case study in Philadelphia suggested that anthropogenic heat contributes about 2~3C to the nighttime heat island in winter [Fan and Sailor, 2005].

The conclusion contains the text

Our results show significant warming has occurred for most stations in China and the magnitude of warming is closely related to energy consumption, which represents the intensity of human activity. For high and mid energy consumption group, OMR trends decline with the decrease of energy consumption. OMR trends for high and mid energy consumption group is 0.20 and 0.13C/decade respectively. Stronger warming is observed for station with high energy consumption, which usually locates in or near cities. Therefore, the strong warming is more likely a consequence of the local thermal forcing induced by human activity.

It seems that stations belong to high and mid energy consumption group in this study are affected
by human impact to a discernible extent. Just as De Laat[2008] demonstrated, anthropogenic heat released from energy consumption may very well have contributed to the observed temperature change patterns.Thus, it may raise more attention to consider the influence of human activity on surface temperature records in the past and next decades.

This study provides even more motivation for Anthony Watts to expand his station siting quality project to the entire globe!

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