Category Archives: Climate Science Reporting

New Paper “Summer-Time Climate Impacts Of Projected Megapolitan Expansion in Arizona” By Georgescu Et Al 2012

Figure 1 from Georgescu et al 2012: with caption  “Observed time series of the mean summer-time temperature and diurnal temperature range at an urbanizing and non-urbanizing station”.

I was alerted to a news report on the excellent Nature Climate Change article by Matei Georgescu and colleagues.

Georgescu, M. et al 2012: Summer-time climate impacts of projected megapolitan expansion in Arizona. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1656

with the abstract [highlight added]

Efforts characterizing the changing climate of southwestern North America by focusing exclusively on the impacts of increasing levels of long-lived greenhouse gases omit fundamental elements with similar order-of-magnitude impacts as those owing to large-scale climate change. Using a suite of ensemble-based, multiyear simulations, here we show the intensification of observationally based urban-induced phenomena and demonstrate that the direct summer-time climate effects of the most rapidly expanding megapolitan region in the USA—Arizona’s Sun Corridor—are considerable. Although urban-induced warming approaches 4 °C locally for the maximum expansion scenario, impacts depend on the particular trajectory of development. Cool-roof implementation reduces simulated warming by about 50%, yet decreases in summer-time evapotranspiration remain at least as large as those from urban expansion without this mode of adaptation. The contribution of urban-induced warming relative to mid- and end-of-century climate change illustrates strong dependence on built environment expansion scenarios and emissions pathways. Our results highlight the direct climate impacts that result from newly emerging megapolitan regions and their significance for overcoming present challenges concerning sustainable development.

The news article by Rebecca Thomas on this new research article is reproduced below [with highlighting]

ASU study: Urban sprawl might cause higher summer temps

TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -We live in a desert and expect our summer heat.

But, how much worse can it get?

According to a new study by Arizona State University’s School of Geographical and Urban Planning and its School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, temperatures in a large portion of our state could jump between 2 to 7 degrees in the several decades as a result of urban sprawl.

They say because we live in the fastest growing megapolitan in the United States, we could see an expansion of what we’ve come to know as the “Heat Island Effect.”

Basically, the more concrete you have in terms of buildings and roads, the hotter it gets during the day.

And, because concrete and asphalt absorbs and then releases heat, it cools off less at night.

“Further potential urbanization can make things considerably warmer,” said Matei Georgescu, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

Using growth projections by the Maricopa Association of Governments for Arizona’s Sun Corridor, which includes Phoenix, Prescott, Tucson and Nogales, researchers identified potential temperature increases by 2050.

“Worst-case scenario locally, we’re looking at an increase during the summertime of 7 degrees,” said Georgescu.

Best-case scenario with less growth, we’re looking at a 2- to 3-degree increase in summer temps.

Georgescu says even if the Sun Corridor grows unchecked, maximum potential temperature increases could be cut in half by simply painting building rooftops white.

“What happens is a lot more of the incoming radiation is reflected back to space,” he said.

Looking ahead, Georgescu points out there are things we can do to offset the consequences of urbanization, such as planting trees for shade.

Using porous asphalt will prevent run-off and allow monsoon rain to be absorbed and then released back into the atmosphere.

“Direct evaporation is an immediate cooling effect, he said. So, it allows for an additional way to cool the local land surface.”

Georgescu stresses this is an important area of study because urbanization-induced warming can have up to three times the impact on our climate than green house gases.

“Really, what this tells you is there is tremendous opportunity for Arizona to grow sustainably and incorporate different strategies for adaptation and mitigation.

If you’d like to read more about this ASU study, it’s published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

This excellent study is yet another example of why the role in human climate forcings must broaden well beyond just the role of added greenhouse gases. We have urged this broader view, for example, in our paper

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.

Other news articles on the Georgescu et al 2012 study include

ASU Study: Arizona will only get hotter by Jared Dillingham

and

City Temps May Soar From Urbanization, Global Warming by Michael D. Lemonick

where the end of the article reads

“It’s possible, it’s practical, and it could cut the projected temperature increase in half,” Georgescu said. Unfortunately, he added, it doesn’t help at all with another urbanization-related problem. When you pave or build over undeveloped land, you seal in whatever moisture there is in the soil. It can no longer evaporate, which cuts off an important source of humidity, and ultimately, of rain.

“So one of our take-home messages,” he said, “is that to be truly sustainable, you can’t just focus on temperatures. The climate system isn’t only about warming.”

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Guest Post By Madhav Khandekar “Climate Catastrophe Or Media Hype?”

In response to Madhav Khandekar and Tom Harris’s interview in PJ Media titled

Climate Catastrophe or Media Hype?

which starts with

Subjected to a continual bombardment of catastrophism from climate activists, the public can be forgiven for assuming that recent extreme weather events, especially heat waves in North America, are unusual. Citizens would have little reason to suspect that most records for these phenomena were set many years ago.

But they were.

Madhav has provided us with the following summary:

” The current long, hot & dry summer in many parts of the US has prompted a number of climate scientists to sugget that this heat wave in the US and similar heat waves in Europe ( in 2010 & 2003) are linked to human-added CO2 over the past several years. I believe it is important to analyse past heat waves in the US and eslewhere before linking current heat wave to human-added CO2.

In the North American context, the decades of 1920s and 1930s ( known popularly as the Dust Bowl years) witnessed possibly the most anomalous climate of the 20th century, with recurring droughts and heat waves on the Great American Plains ( Canada as well as the US). The decade of the 1930s saw long and recurring droughts on the Canadian-America Prairies. There were locations (in Canada and US) where very little rain fell for the entire year or more in the 1930s! The highest temperature (at 45C)  ever recorded in Canada was in a town in Saskatchewan in July 1937. Toronto, the largest city in Canada recorded its highest temperature ( at 41C ) on three days in July 1936. Several locations in US Midwest and in the Canadian Prairies recorded unusually high temperatures during the 1920s and 1930s. Meteorologists and climate scientists still do not fully understand why the North American climate was so anomalous! Human-added CO2 was certainly NOT a factor for such the long and recurring droughts (and associated heat waves) then!

The European heat waves of 2003 and 2010 have been now attributed to large-scale atmospheric patterns ( with a blocking development) and NOT to increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2. In the monsoonal climate of India ( and south Asia) , a heat wave of few days to a week or longer duration often develops during the premonsoon months of April-June. Such heat waves ( with maximum temperatures at 43C and above) are associated with mid-tropospheric flow and possible delay in the arrival of monsoon rains. Heat waves in Australia are generally linked to ENSO phase producing less rainfall (reduced cloud cover) and dry soil condition. Heat waves in central Africa in particular, are associated with the movement of the ITCZ and associated rainfall patterns.

There is a definite need to understand the mechanics of heat waves in different parts of the world before linking recent heat waves in Europe and the US to human-added CO2.”

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Mike Smith’s Post “Science by Press Release: The Story About Washington, DC’s Heat”

Update: On the weblog Climate Depot it is written that

Climatologist Dr. Pielke Sr. Taunts Hansen

This is a complete mischaracterization of the intent of my post. I respect Jim Hansen, and, while I disagree with him on a number of climate issues, we agree on others (such as the domaint role of the oceans as the metric to diagnose global warming). In my post below, I am challenging Jim to reconcile his view that if the added CO2 footprint on the climate is so convincing, what is the purpose of the large funds being spent to make multi-decadal regional climate predictions in the coming decades.  The term “taunt” is perjorative and is not appropriate.

************Original Post********************************

Mike Smith, author of the outstanding book When the Sirens Were Silent and writer of the weblog “Mike Smith Enterprises Blog” has an insightful summary of Jim Hansen’s climate predictions.

Mike’s post was motivated by Jim’s op-ed article in the Washington Post based on his PNAS paper that appeared on Monday. I highly recommend reading Mike’s post of August 6 2012 that assesses the lack of skill in Jim’s forecasts

“Science by Press Release: The Story About Washington, DC’s Heat”

See also

Is Jim Hansen’s Global Temperature Skillful?” Guest Post by John R. Christy

In addition to Mike’s review, there is another implication from Jim Hansen’s claim in his Washington Post op-ed

Climate change is here — and worse than we thought

Jim wrote [highlight added]

In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present.

This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

Since Jim does not need a climate model to reach his conclusion, and since the climate models have shown no skill in predicting the changes in the regional climate statistics that he discusses in his post, he is actually telling us we do not need to spend the millions of dollars in making climate predictions for the impacts communities for the coming decades.

Jim supervises  such modeling at GISS (e.g. Gavin Schmidt). While I endorse the use of climate models to improve our understanding of climate processes and of assessing the limits on predictability, vast sums of money are being used (wasted – e.g. see) to just make multi-decadal climate forecasts for the impacts communities.  If Jim is to be consistent with his message, he would call for the end of funding for such multi-decadal regional climate predictions and redirect that funding to effective mitigation and adaptation activities.

If Jim would like to respond to this request for consistency, I would be glad to present his response as a guest weblog post. Jim has completed a guest post on my weblog in the past;

Guest Weblog By James E. Hansen

so there is a precedent for such a dialog.

If Jim elects to respond to Mike Smith (or  to John Christy’s) post, or to my comments on the need to redirect funding away from multi-decadal regional climate predictions, I will be glad to post unedited.

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My Involvement With The Watts Et Al 2012 And McNider Et Al 2012 Papers

With respect to the discussion paper

Watts et al, 2012: An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends [to be submitted to JGR]

and the JGR in press paper

McNider, R. T., G.J. Steeneveld, B. Holtslag, R. Pielke Sr, S. Mackaro, A. Pour Biazar, J. T. Walters, U. S. Nair, and J. R. Christy (2012). Response and sensitivity of the nocturnal boundary layer over land to added longwave radiative forcing, J. Geophys. Res.,doi:10.1029/2012JD017578, in press. [for the complete paper, click here]

I have been alerted that there is a lot of discussion on Twitter concerning my involvement with these studies, and that I did not disclose my connection.  In Watts et al 2012, I assumed this was quite clear as Anthony wrote in the acknowledgement in the paper

Special thanks are given to Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. for inspiration, advice, and technical proofreading of this study.

It seems the twitters did not actually read the Watts et al paper.

To be very specific, I did not play a role in their data analysis. He sent me the near final version of  the discussion paper and I recommended added text and references. I am not a co-author on their paper.

I am now working with them to provide suggestions as to how to examine the TOB question regarding its effect on the difference in the trends found in Watts et al 2012.  The TOB effect could result in a confirmation of the Watts et al conclusion, or a confirmation (from a skeptical source) that siting quality does not matter. In either case, this is still a game changing study.

I am a co-author on the McNider et al 2012 paper.  In reading the full list of authors, this is clear.

I recommend those who are communicating about my involvement in this research also read the entire papers before they comment.

I hope this sets the twittering to rest. :-)

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Comments On The Cato Report “ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts In The United States” By Michaels Et Al 2012

I have been alerted to an informative, much-needed detailed 2012 Cato Institute asssessment of the 2009 US government report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. See also Judy Curry’s excellent post on the Cato report at

Cato’s Impact Assessment

The web page that links to this 2009 US government  report starts with the grandiose claims that [highlight added]

This web page will introduce and lead you through the content of the most comprehensive and authoritative report of its kind. The report summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future.

and

In addition to discussing the impacts of climate change in the U.S., the report also highlights the choices we face in response to human-induced climate change. It is clear that impacts in the United States are already occurring and are projected to increase in the future, particularly if the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to rise. So, choices about how we manage greenhouse gas emissions will have far-reaching consequences for climate change impacts. Similarly, there are choices to be made about adaptation strategies that can help to reduce or avoid some of the undesirable impacts of climate change. This report provides many of the scientific underpinnings for effective decisions to be made – at the national and at the regional level.

The new report, to be published by Cato this fall, is titled

“ADDENDUM:Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”

with Patrick J. Michaels as Editor-in-Chief. I have been fortunate to know and respect Pat since we meet at the University of Virginia during my tenure there in the 1970s and early 1980s.  This Cato report is a very important new addition to providing policymakers with a more robust perspective of  climate science. It is refreshing to see a much more objective assessment than prepared by Tom Karl and others in the federal government.

As written in the draft cover letter by Edward H. Crane, President of the Cato Institute,

The Center for the Study of Public Science and Public Policy at the Cato Institute is pleased to transmit to you a major revision of the report, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”. The original document served as the principal source of information regarding the climate of the US for the Environmental Protection Agency’s December 7, 2009 Endangerment Finding from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This new document is titled “ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States”

This effort grew out of the recognition that the original document was sorely lacking in relevant scientific detail. A Cato review of a draft noted that it was among the worst summary documents on climate change ever written, and that literally every paragraph was missing critical information from the refereed scientific literature. While that review was extensive, the restricted timeframe for commentary necessarily limited any effort. The following document completes that effort.

The introduction of the report states that

This report summarizes the science that is missing from Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, a 2009 document produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) that was critical to the Environmental Protection Agency’s December, 2009 “finding of endangerment” from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. According to the 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA must regulate carbon dioxide under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments subsequent to finding that it endangers human health and welfare. Presumably this means that the Agency must then regulate carbon dioxide to the point at which it longer causes “endangerment”.

The conclusion of the Cato report reads

Climate change assessments such as the one produced by the USGCRP suffer from a systematic bias due to the fact that the experts involved in making the assessment have economic incentives to paint climate change as a dire problem requiring their services, and the services of their university, federal laboratory, or agency.

I have just a few comments and recommendations for the final Cato report.

1. The 2005 National Research Council report

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

should be discussed. The  2009 US government report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States focuses on greenhouse gases at the expense of other human climate forcings. The findings in the 2005 NRC report were ignored.  The need to broaden out the consideration of non-greenhouse gas climate forcings is summarized in the article by AGU Fellows 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.

I testified to a congressional subcommittee on the need for a broader view in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2008: A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the   Assessment of Costs and Benefits of Effective Climate Policy. Written Testimony for the Subcommittee on Energy and   Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing “Climate Change:   Costs of Inaction” – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman. June 26, 2008, Washington, DC., 52 pp.

A major finding is the global warming is just a subset of “climate change”.  Climate also always has involved change, with or without the human influence. See my discussion on these subjects in my post

The Need For Precise Definitions In Climate Science – The Misuse Of The Terminology “Climate Change”

and in Shaun Lovejoy’s paper that I posted on in

Excellent New Paper “The Climate Is Not What You Expect” By Lovejoy and Schertzer 2012

2. The failure of the climate models to show any decadal and longer regional predictive skill should be highlighted. I recently summarized this failure in the post

CMIP5 Climate Model Runs – A Scientifically Flawed Approach

and in our articles

Pielke Sr., R.A., and R.L. Wilby, 2012: Regional climate downscaling – what’s the point? Eos Forum,  93, No. 5, 52-53, doi:10.1029/2012EO050008.

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: 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.

3. The role of land use change as a climate forcing should be discussed in detail. Examples of papers with this perspective include

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, 2:828–850. doi: 10.1002/wcc.144.

Avila, F. B., A. J. Pitman, M. G. Donat, L. V. Alexander, and G. Abramowitz (2012), Climate model simulated changes in temperature extremes due to land cover change, J. Geophys. Res., 117, D04108, doi:10.1029/2011JD016382

4. The very significant problems with the land surface temperature data sets, as used to diagnose global warming, should be presented in detail in the report. Papers that document this issue include

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with   the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

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.

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.

Fall, S., A. Watts, J. Nielsen-Gammon, E. Jones, D. Niyogi, J. Christy, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res.,  116, D14120, doi:10.1029/2010JD015146.Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union.

McNider, R.T., G.J. Steeneveld, B. Holtslag, R. Pielke Sr, S.   Mackaro, A. Pour Biazar, J.T. Walters, U.S. Nair, and J.R. Christy, 2012: Response and sensitivity of the nocturnal boundary layer over  land to added longwave radiative forcing. J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2012JD017578, in press.

5. My experience with the arrogance of the writers of one of the earlier reports used to generate the  2009 report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States have been documented in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“. 88 pp including appendices.

and in

My Comments For The InterAcademy Council Review of the IPCC

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The 2012 Norwegian Climate Research Report – Reinforcing The Need To Broaden Climate Science Assessments

I was alerted to a report [h/t Robert Pollock] titled

Norwegian climate research – an evaluation

In Section 2.1.1.6 (Future Directions), as Robert altered us to, there is this interesting text [highlight added]

Although the expressed political needs regarding science results primarily relate to the impact of anthropogenic greenhouse gasses, there is also a need for increased research on the impact of human activity on land cover and land-use change, especially in relation to the albedo and the biogeochemical and hydrological cycles. Furthermore, a good understanding of the climate system cannot be reached without a dedicated effort to understand the contribution to climate change from natural climate processes. The geological history very clearly documents a strong climate forcing associated with solar variability, although the exact mechanism has not been identified. This should call for a coherent international effort, but surprisingly, the worldwide scientific effort to increase our understanding of the natural variations is very limited, and this is most probably related to the limited funding available for basic, not agenda-driven research. Therefore, in addition to implementing the recommendations of Klima21, this committee recommends an increased effort in research on the natural causes of climate change, in particular the activity variations of the sun, the mechanism of cloud formation, and the multi-decadal variations in ocean current systems.

This is a remarkable recognition by an internationally well-respected group of climate scientists that there is a need to move beyond the inappropriately narrow focus of the IPCC on the global annual average radiative forcing from CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases. The Norwegian report reinforces the conclusion reached in the USA report

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

where the Executive Summary includes the finding that

Despite all these advantages, the traditional global mean TOA radiative forcing concept has some important limitations, which have come increasingly to light over the past decade. The concept is inadequate for some forcing agents, such as absorbing aerosols and land-use changes, that may have regional climate impacts much greater than would be predicted from TOA radiative forcing. Also, it diagnoses only one measure of climate change—global mean surface temperature response—while offering little information on regional climate change or precipitation. These limitations can be addressed by expanding the radiative forcing concept and through the introduction of additional forcing metrics. In particular, the concept needs to be extended to account for (1) the vertical structure of radiative forcing, (2) regional variability in radiative forcing, and (3) nonradiative forcing. A new metric to account for the vertical structure of radiative forcing is recommended below. Understanding of regional and nonradiative forcings is too premature to recommend specific metrics at this time. Instead, the committee identifies specific research needs to improve quantification and understanding of these forcings.

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Another Example Of Weather Risks Due To Atmospheric Circulation Patterns “Argentine Wheat Sowing Slowed By Cold, Dry Weather”

As the USA drought and heat continues to significantly affect crops, I came across an interesting news article on a weather threat in South America that is due to cold and dry weather. The article Hugh Bronstein of Reuters is titled

Argentine wheat sowing slowed by cold, dry weather

Excerpts read [highlight added]

CBOT wheat prices rise for four straight weeks

* Adverse global crop weather fans supply worries

* Argentine growers shy from wheat to avoid export curbs

“BUENOS AIRES, July 13 (Reuters) – Dry, cold weather slowed Argentine wheat planting last week as farmers struggled to penetrate their frost-covered fields, the government said on Friday, further complicating a season marked by low output expectations. Argentina is the world’s No. 6 wheat exporter and principal supplier to neighboring Brazil. But plantings are set to fall 17 percent versus the previous crop year to 3.82 million hectares.”

The lack of rain over the last seven days was aggravated by low temperatures and frost throughout Buenos Aires province,” the Agriculture Ministry said in its weekly crop report. Buenos Aires accounts for more than half of Argentina’s total wheat output. In the district of Bragado, in the northern part of the province, “frosts have delayed the advance in the planting of winter wheat,” the report said. Chicago Board of Trade wheat prices have risen for four straight weeks, up 38.1 percent in that period, as adverse crop weather in major producers such as the United States and Australia fans supply worries. “

“Argentina, the world No. 3 soybean exporter, suffered a six-week drought in the December-January dog days of the Southern Hemisphere summer. The heat wave struck just as 2011/12 soy and corn plants were in their most delicate stage of flowering. The dry spell melted original expectations of a bumper crop and heavy May rains swamped some fields in Buenos Aires province, bogging down harvesting combines and forcing farmers to leave their late-seeded soy to rot.”

“….heat and drought continued to eat away at U.S. crop prospects. Argentina is also the world’s No. 2 corn exporter and the government estimates this season’s production at 20.1 million tonnes after the drought dashed early expectations of a 2011/12 crop well over the 23 million tonnes harvested in 2010/11.”

In terms of risks from weather extremes, the current threat to crops further illustrate that a global average surface temperature anomaly is not a useful metric to assess risk. Agriculture has always been at risk from weather extremes and this threat will continue into the future regardless of whether or not there are alteration in local and regional climate from human and/or natural forcings and feedbacks. A prudent way to reduce risk is to first develop mitigation and adaptation policies to weather extremes we have already experienced, and then build in a buffer in case more extreme events actually occur in the coming decades.

As the Reuters news article wrote

But the United Nations expects global food demand to double by 2050 as world population hits 9 billion. Argentina, which boasts a fertile Pampas grains belt bigger than the size of France, will be key to feeding an increasingly hungry world.

which means risk would increase even in the absence of changes in local and regional climate statistics.

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News Article “Drought, Heat Bad For Skiers, Good For Mountaineers” By Christopher Smith

I was interviewed for the news article in the Boulder i Journal by Christopher Smith titled

Drought, heat bad for skiers, good for mountaineers

It is an excellent article. It also accurately summarizes my viewpoint on the climate issue. That part of article reads [highlight added]

Future climate unpredictable

It will take more than a couple of sprays to eradicate one of the worst local droughts.

Denver reached 100 degrees five consecutive days in its warmest June ever (records began in 1872).

As of last week, 100 percent of Colorado fought a D2 (“severe”) drought as labeled by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Nearly three-quarters of the state reached “extreme,” with a few pockets of “exceptional,” the scale’s most intense rating.

Boulder has received 59 percent less precipitation than average since April 1, according to Western Regional Climate Center data.

A few pessimistic predictions suggest, due to a general warming trend some project to continue, local ski resorts will watch business recede faster than the U.S. economy amid Wall Street banking strife. Don’t let doomsayers worry you just yet.

Portending some long-term trend based on this year’s weather is dangerous.

Dr. Roger A. Pielke Sr., one of the most distinguished meteorologists and climate researchers in the state, points to a 2005 study suggesting cyclical oceanic surface temperatures correlate to U.S. drought patterns and have a much greater impact on global climate than previously understood.

Since 1995, the North Atlantic (warm) and Pacific (cool) Oceans have combined for a climate proven to produce severe dry weather across much of the Western United States.

“This has been a record year for warmth and dryness,” Pielke Sr. said. “It is comparable to the climate that occurred in the 1930s, although that drought lasted longer and the heat was actually even greater.”

In July 1934, decades before “global warming” entered the lexicon, more than 80 percent of the United States was in moderate, severe or extreme drought, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Less than half the country is experiencing some level of drought right now.

Large-scale climate projections find it difficult to recognize patterns even in “hindsight” mode, many climatologists believe.

In any event, skiers should not fear. It’s next to impossible to predict Colorado’s climate.

“There is no predictive skill on how Colorado’s weather will be in the coming years, despite claims from some to the contrary. Indeed, the climate system is much more complex than you typically hear. Not only is the human influence more complex, but natural climate forcings and feedbacks are incompletely understood,” Pielke Sr. said.

“It is too early to predict what will occur this winter, but typically there is no significant correlation between weather we have now and what will occur months from now.”

This is a refreshing, well written article.

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Filed under Climate Science Reporting, RA Pielke Sr. Position Statements

An Example Of The Failure To Properly Respond To Climate Risk By The Obama Administration

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These last few weeks have involved wildfires destroying hundreds of homes, an organized thunderstorm system called a derecho resulting in several million homes without electric power, and a drought causing agricultural loss in large areas of the central USA. So how does the US government respond?

As reported in the Hill in the article by Ben Geman (h/t Marc Morano) [highlight added]

Obama official: US climate views shifting amid wild weather

A senior Obama administration scientist said this year’s heat and Western wildfires are altering perceptions of climate change in the United States.

Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in Australia on Friday that many have previously regarded climate change as a “nebulous concept,” The Associated Press reports.

Many people around the world are beginning to appreciate that climate change is under way, that it’s having consequences that are playing out in real time and, in the United States at least, we are seeing more and more examples of extreme weather and extreme climate-related events,” she said at a university in Canberra, AP reports.

“People’s perceptions in the United States, at least, are in many cases beginning to change as they experience something first-hand that they at least think is directly attributable to climate change,” she said.

Lubchenco “said that while it was impossible to attribute any single weather event to climate change, the pattern of extreme events was consistent with forecast consequences of increasing greenhouse gas emissions,” AP reports.

She is the second Obama administration official to weigh in this week on the nexus between the violent U.S. weather and climate change.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano linked climate change with the wildfires hitting Colorado.
Napolitano said “there’s a pattern here” as she noted the summer wildfires as well as the East Coast heat wave and the high-velocity winds that whipped through the mid-Atlantic late last week.

For other comments on the extreme weather by senior members of the Obama administration see Judy Curry’s post

Week in review 7/6/12

with statements by Jane Lubchenco, Undersecretary of NOAA, Morris Sherman, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Resources and Natural Environment, and Janet Napolitano, Secretary Homeland Security.

The clear implication is that the Obama administration is going to continue with the top-down, global climate model approach to respond to extreme weather events. Their focus will be on mandating reductions in CO2 emissions as a way to reduce the occurrence of these extreme events.

However, as discussed in our article

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: 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.

the top-down approach is too narrow, and will likely result in poor policy choices since all mitigation and adaptation responses to weather extremes are not being considered.

For example, with respect to the three extreme weather events listed earlier in this post there are a number of bottom up responses that should be adopted regardless of how or if weather patterns change in the future:

1. With respect to homes lost in wildfires, one way to reduce risk is to require homes built in those areas have fire resistant construction. This means that shake roofs be prohibited. When I lived in Fort Collins, our covenants actually required us to have skaked roofs! This is no better than having kindling for a roof top. A number of the homes lost in Colorado Springs appeared to have shake roofs which will often combust just from a single ember!

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2. With respect to the recent power outages in the eastern USA, this has been a perennial problem. Tropical storms and hurricanes, ice storms and thunderstorms have caused large losses of power in the past due to trees and branches breaking electric lines (e.g. see hurricanes for Maryland). The obvious solution is to place the electric lines underground as much as possible, as they do in Colorado, Florida and elsewhere.  The cost for this reduction of risk certainly will be less than the losses incurred by the power outages that will inevitably occur again.

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3. With respect to the drought, crop insurance certainly is a response by many farmers.  However, this is just a short-term stop-gap approach. What is needed is the development of pipelines to ship water across large distances. This has been proposed in Colorado   and California  (Big Straw project; see and see) and is worth considering throughout agricultural regions of the country.  Canada, for example, with its vast  fresh water supplies from inland lands could provide the USA with a source of irrigation water during times of drought.

image from WUWT 

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None of these approaches depend on whether weather patterns are changing or not. They make sense regardless. This approach is much better than appears to be adopted by the Obama administration. In the upcoming election, it could be another point of contrast in policy, if the Romney campaign adopts a broader based, resource-focused approach to reduce the risks of society to the climate.

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Filed under Climate Science Reporting, Politicalization of Science, Vulnerability Paradigm

Global Temperature Report: June 2012 From The University Of Alabama At Huntsville

Philip Gentry has provided us the June 2012 lower tropospheric temperature analysis. The report is below and the figures he provided are above.

Global Temperature Report: June 2012

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

June temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.37 C (about 0.52 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for June.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.54 C (about 0.79 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for June.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.20 C (about 0.25 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for June.

Tropics: +0.14 C (about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for June.

May temperatures (revised):

Global Composite: +0.29 C above 30-year average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.44 C above 30-year average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.14 C above 30-year average

Tropics: +0.03 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 July 6, 2012:

Compared to global seasonal norms, June 2012 was the third warmest in the 34-year satellite 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. It was the second warmest June in the Northern Hemisphere, second only to June 1998, during the El Nino Pacific Ocean warming event “of the century.” It was the seventh warmest June in the Southern Hemisphere and the 11th warmest in the tropics, where rising temperatures may hint at the approach of another El Nino.

Compared to seasonal norms, the “warmest” place on Earth in June was in central Russia south of the Taz River. Temperatures there averaged as much as 6.25 C (about 11.25 degrees F) warmer than seasonal norms. The coolest spot was near the South Pole, where winter temperatures for the month averaged 4.09 C (about 7.36 degrees F) cooler than June norms.

Warmest Junes: Global Average

1998  0.51  2010  0.39 2012  0.37 2002  0.32 2011  0.32 1991  0.28 2005  0.22 2007  0.16  2006 0.12 1987  0.10

Warmest Junes: Northern Hemisphere   1998   0.57 2012  0.54  2010   0.49 2011  0.38 2005   0.29  1991   0.25 2007   0.24  2002   0.23  1995  0.21 2006  0.20

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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Filed under Climate Change Metrics, Climate Science Reporting