Category Archives: RA Pielke Sr. Position Statements

Pielke Sr Summary Of Several Climate Science Issues – October 2012

For the next two weeks, I am on travel and will not be posting. In this post, I want to summarize some of my viewpoints on climate science.

i) There has been global warming over the last several decades. The ocean is the component of the climate system that is best suited for quantifying climate system heat change.  The warming has been  less than predicted by the multi-decadal global model predictions; e.g.

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the  role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.

R. S. Knox, David H. Douglass 2010: Recent energy balance of Earth  International Journal of Geosciences, 2010, vol. 1, no. 3 (November) – In press doi:10.4236/ijg2010.00000

Levitus, S., et al. (2012), World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0-2000), 1955-2010, Geophys. Res. Lett.,doi:10.1029/2012GL051106.

Comment On Ocean Heat Content “World Ocean Heat Content And Thermosteric Sea Level Change (0-2000), 1955-2010″ By Levitus Et Al 2012

Comment On “Levitus Data On Ocean Forcing Confirms Skeptics, Falsifies IPCC” At Niche Modeling

ii) The use of a global annual average surface temperature is an inadequate metric to quantify global warming and cooling.  The documentation of the poor siting quality over land is one reason it is such a poor metric. For examples of papers and weblog posts that document this issue, see

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer.  Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335.

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.

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.

Torpedoing Of The Use Of The Global Average Surface Temperature Trend As The Diagnostic For Global Warming

Comments On “The Shifting Probability Distribution Of Global Daytime And Night-Time Temperatures” By Donat and Alexander 2012 – A Not Ready For Prime Time Study

iii) The involvement of citizen scientists to document the siting quality is a very significant achievement; e.g. see

Roger Tattersall’s   Surface Stations Survey

Watts Up With That http://www.surfacestations.org/

iv) The human addition to CO2 into the atmosphere is a first-order climate forcing. It is the largest  annual-global averaged positive  human radiative forcing.

IPCC: Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2007.

v) However, global warming is not equivalent to climate change. Significant, societally important climate change, due to both natural- and human- climate forcings, could occur even without global warming or cooling.

I propose these definitions be adopted in our statement

“Global Warming” is an increase in the global annual average heat content measured in Joules.

“Climate Change” is any multi-decadal or longer alteration in one or more physical, chemical and/or biological components of the climate system.

[from http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/definitions-of-global-warming-and-climate-change/

vi) The correct summary statement on climate, in my view, is that

Natural causes of climate variations and changes are important. In addition, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.

In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, these other first-order human climate forcings that are important to understanding the future behavior of Earth’s climate are spatially heterogeneous and include the effect of aerosols on clouds and associated precipitation, the influence of aerosol deposition (e.g., black carbon (soot), and reactive nitrogen), and the role of changes in land use/land cover. Among their effects is their role in altering atmospheric and ocean circulation features away from what they would be in the natural climate system. As with CO2, the lengths of time that they affect the climate are estimated to be on multidecadal time scales and longer.

Examples of reports and papers that document this more scientifically robust perspective include

Kabat, P., Claussen, M., Dirmeyer, P.A., J.H.C. Gash, L. Bravo de  Guenni, M. Meybeck, R.A. Pielke Sr., C.J. Vorosmarty, R.W.A. Hutjes, and S. Lutkemeier, Editors, 2004: Vegetation, water, humans and the climate: A new perspective on an interactive system. Springer, Berlin, Global Change - The IGBP Series, 566 pp.

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.

"Inadvertent Weather Modification" An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society (Adopted by the AMS Council on 2 November 2010).

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 limate: 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

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.

McAlpine, C.A., W.F. Laurance, J.G. Ryan, L. Seabrook, J.I. Syktus, A.E. Etter, P.M. Fearnside, P. Dargusch, and R.A. Pielke Sr. 2010: More than CO2: A broader picture for managing climate change and variability to avoid ecosystem collapse. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2:334-336, DOI10.1016/j.cosust.2010.10.001.

vii) Natural variations and longer term change have been significantly underestimated.  Also, climate prediction is an initial-value problem.

Pielke, R.A., 1998: Climate prediction as an initial value problem. Bull.  Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79, 2743-2746.

Rial, J., R.A. Pielke Sr., M. Beniston, M. Claussen, J. Canadell, P. Cox,  H. Held, N. de Noblet-Ducoudre, R. Prinn, J. Reynolds, and J.D. Salas,  2004: Nonlinearities, feedbacks and critical thresholds within the Earth's  climate system. Climatic Change, 65, 11-38.

"The Climate Is Not What You Expect" by S. Lovejoy and D. Schertzer 2012 [submitted to BAMS]

http://judithcurry.com/category/prediction/

vi) Attempts to significantly influence impacts from regional and local-scale climate based on controlling CO2 emissions alone is an inadequate policy for this purpose.  With respect to CO2 [and for all other human climate forcings], the emphasis should be on supporting technological developments to mitigate these threats; e.g. see

The Climate Fix, 2010: R. Pielke Jr. Basic Books http://theclimatefix.com/

vii) Policymakers should look for win-win policies in order to improve the environment.  The costs and benefits of the regulation of the emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere need to be evaluated together with all other possible environmental regulations.  The goal should be to seek politically and technologically practical ways to reduce the vulnerability of the environment and society to the entire spectrum of human-caused and natural risks including those from climate.

Pielke, R. A., Sr., 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, in Extreme Events and Natural Hazards: The Complexity Perspective, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 196, edited by A. S. Sharma et al. 345–359, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001086. [the article can also be obtained from here]

viii) Global and regional climate models have not demonstrated skill at predicting multi-decadal changes in climate statistics on regional and local climate in hindcast studies; e.g. see

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.

Examples of the substantial inadequacies of the climate models to provide skillful multi-decadal predictions are presented in the peer-reviewed papers reported on in these posts

Quotes From Peer Reviewed Paper That Document That Skillful Multi-Decadal Regional Climate Predictions Do Not  Yet Exist

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/the-hindcast-skill-of-the-cmip-ensembles-for-the-surface-air-temperature-trend-by-sakaguchi-et-al-2012/

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/more-cmip5-regional-model-shortcomings/

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/cmip5-climate-model-runs-a-scientifically-flawed-approach/

What we recommend in our Pielke et al (2012) paper in terms of an approach to mitigation and adaptation is, as written in its abstract,

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

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

When I return, I look forward to assessing further the above issues, and also invite readers on my weblog to submit guest posts to appear after I am back, which refute any of the above conclusions.

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Follow Up On The AMS Statement On “Climate Change’

In response to my post

Contradictory Statements By The American Meteorological Society – Comments On The New Statement Titled “Climate Change”

I communicated to the Committee members of our Statements on Weather Modification (of which I am a member and in which Danny Rosenfeld is the Chair).  With their permissions, I have reproduced our e-mail exchanges below with several members of the Committee (with their permission). These colleagues are each internationally well-respected scientists:

1. Danny Rosenfeld of the University in Jerusalem

2. Alan Robock of Rutgers University

3.  Bob Bornstein of San Jose State University

The bottom line conclusion by Danny in his last e-mail fits with my view of this subject.

My Initial E-Mail To Danny

Hi Danny

In your request for input you asked whether we should consider revising any of the policy statements. The release today of the AMS Statement on Climate Change clearly ignores what we concluded in our Statement on Inadvertant Weather Modification. Thus I recommend consideration of a revision that corrects their excessively narrow view on how humans are altering the climate and the impact of natural variations in climate such as reported, for example, in Shaun Lovejoy’s new paper

“The Climate Is Not What You Expect” By S. Lovejoy and D. Schertzer 2012 [submitted to BAMS]

that I posted on in

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

I have posted today on the conflict between the two AMS Statements (the new one on Climate Change and ours on Inadvertant Weather Modification) in my post

Contradictory Statements By The American Meteorological Society – Comments On The New Statement Titled “Climate Change”

I would, based on their new Statement, be interested in addressing this issue in a revised Statement on Inadvertant Weather Modification. .

Best Regards

Roger

Danny’s Reply

Hi Roger,

It seems to me that the new AMS statement on climate change does recognize the roles of aerosols, land use changes and other factors apart from CO2. See the quote below.

“Human activity also affects climate through changes in the number and physical properties of tiny solid particles and liquid droplets in the atmosphere, known collectively as atmospheric aerosols. Examples of aerosols include dust, sea salt, and sulfates from air pollution. Aerosols have a variety of climate effects. They absorb and redirect solar energy from the sun and thermal energy emitted by Earth, emit energy themselves, and modify the ability of clouds to reflect sunlight and to produce precipitation. Aerosols can both strengthen and weaken greenhouse warming, depending on their characteristics. Most aerosols originating from human activity act to cool the planet and so partly counteract greenhouse gas warming effects. Aerosols lofted into the stratosphere [between about 13 km (8 miles) and 50 km (30 miles) altitude above the surface] by occasional large sulfur-rich volcanic eruptions can reduce global surface temperature for several years. By contrast, carbon soot from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels warms the planet, so that decreases in soot would reduce warming. Aerosols have lifetimes in the troposphere [at altitudes up to approximately 13 km (8 miles) from the surface in the middle latitudes] on the order of one week, much shorter than that of most greenhouse gases, and their prevalence and properties can vary widely by region.

Land surface changes can also affect the surface exchanges of water and energy with the atmosphere. Humans alter land surface characteristics by carrying out irrigation, removing and introducing forests, changing vegetative land cover through agriculture, and building cities and reservoirs. These changes can have significant effects on local-to-regional climate patterns, which adds up to a small impact on the global energy balance as well.”

Changes in aerosols and land use are major components in the anthropogenic-forced changes of Earth energy budget, and we cant get both weather and climate right without quantifying their effects, and much less the climate change.

But I would defend the emphasis on the greenhouse gases as being pointed out in the new statement as the dominant cause for warming trend in the last half century. While aerosols have not risen systematically during that period (re global deeming and brightening), CO2 and other GHGs did.

What do I miss here?

Best regards,
Danny

My Follow-Up

Hi Danny

Thank you for the quick reply. The paragraph that I highlighted in my post

“It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide. The most important of these over the long term is CO2, whose concentration in the atmosphere is rising principally as a result of fossil-fuel combustion and deforestation.”

conflicts with our Statement and a wide range of other findings reported in the literature. Their statement of hindcast model quality of climate change can easily be shown to be false.

Best Regards

My Further Comment

P.S. The AMS Statement itself contradicts itself. It writes

“Land surface changes can also affect the surface exchanges of water and energy with the atmosphere. Humans alter land surface characteristics by carrying out irrigation, removing and introducing forests, changing vegetative land cover through agriculture, and building cities and reservoirs. These changes can have significant effects on local-to-regional climate patterns, which adds up to a small impact on the global energy balance as well.”

yet earlier highlights that

“…the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide. The most important of these over the long term is CO2..”

It is clear the Statement was not even probably vetted for internal inconsistencies. If they write

‘the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases”

and later write

“Humans alter land surface characteristics by carrying out irrigation, removing and introducing forests, changing vegetative land cover through agriculture, and building cities and reservoirs. These changes can have significant effects on local-to-regional climate patterns’

yet dismiss their importance because they add “up to a small impact on the global energy balance ….”

trivialize, as I read the Statement, their role in climate change.

Roger

Bob Bornstein’s Comment

Hi all

I agree with Danny that aerosols are acknowledged as a source of change, but we could further discuss a possible revised statement (if the AMS is willing to accept one from us at this time) at our Jan committee meeting.

My Reply to Bob

Hi Bob.  Acknowledging aerosols as a source of change is not the issue. It is their identification of CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases as the dominant climate forcing. It is just one of a suite of first order human climate forcings, in my view.  If we share that view, then the AMS Statement is not accurate.

Best Regards

Roger

Alan Robock’s Comment

Dear All,

I see no conflict between the two AMS statements. The new one addresses global climate, and recognizes regional impacts of aerosols and land surface changes, which is what the older statement says. What is the problem? Blog posts and submitted papers are not sufficient evidence to do anything. I don’t understand what changes would be made in the Statement on Inadvertant Weather Modification. Anyway, it addresses weather and not climate.

My Reply to Alan

Hi Alan

I list peer reviewed papers that conflict with the AMS Statement. These are not submitted papers. The blog posts are just used to communicate these papers and the NRC assessment to others. Also we discuss climate in our Inadvertent Weather Modification Statement.

Alan’s Reply

Dear Roger,

Yes, you can post my comments as long as you include this one:

Clearly regional climate change is affected by land use and aerosols. But for the global average climate, the dominant forcing is the increase of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Global warming is reduced by the net effect of tropospheric aerosols, but it continues because the greenhouse gas emissions and current concentrations still produce a net positive radiative forcing.

Your claims seem to imply that greenhouse gas emissions are not a serious environmental hazard. Don’t you think that global warming is dangerous and that continued greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, should be reduced as soon as we can? Or are you against mitigation?

My Reply to Alan

Hi Alan

Thank you for your permission. I will certainly include what you wrote.

In terms of your question, I agree with you that the continued elevation of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is a major concern. We are entering uncharted territory, and the less regrets approach must be to seek effective ways to limit this increase in CO2.

My even greater concern, however, with respect to CO2 is in its biogeochemical effect (to the biosphere). Even if there were only a relatively small contribution to global warming from CO2, the effect on plant diversity (e.g. genetic response), plant function, etc could be very significant, and we do not understand the risks that society and the environment face from this biogeochemical effect.

Progress to develop effective mitigation and adaptation policies are being significantly hampered, in my view, by

i) the assumption that the multi-decadal global models are providing us with skillful predictions for the coming decades(and skillful hindcast attribution simulations); the are not – e.g. see

CMIP5 Climate Model Runs – A Scientifically Flawed Approach

where peer reviewed papers indicate that this assumption has failed so far

and

ii) that a focus on global warming when we communicate to policymakers, rather than on all of the climate forcings and feedbacks, is one reason that action on mitigating climate risks (including from added CO2) has been so ineffective. We need a more inclusive approach; win-win policies; e.g. see

A Win-Win Solution to Environmental Problems

to build consensus has to how to move forward [I subscribe to the approach my son advocates in his book "the Climate Fix" with respect to how to deal with the CO2 part of climate].

I hope this clarifies my perspective. In terms of the new AMS Statement on Climate Change, they fail, in my view, to accurately present the issue of climate.

Best Regards

Roger

Danny’s Further Comment

Hi Roger,

I don’t really see the problem with the AMS statement on climate change.

It does not undervalue the role of aerosols and land use in altering the climate. It merely states that the trend in the anthropogenic climate forcing was dominated by increasing GHG (while other components of the forcing had not such a clear rising trend during the last 50 years). Then it makes the connection between the trends in rising GHG and global temperatures.

Otherwise, your reservations might come across as if you dispute the notion that increasing GHG is causing increasing global temperatures. Did you really mean that?

Best regards,
Danny

My Reply to Danny

Hi Danny

I disagree with this claim

“the anthropogenic climate forcing was dominated by increasing GHG”.

This claim is clearly inaccurate. I am surprised that you accept this as your work shows that aerosols from human activities have altered CCN concentrations globally.

Flood or Drought: How Do Aerosols Affect Precipitation? by Daniel Rosenfeld, Ulrike Lohmann, Graciela B. Raga, Colin D. O’Dowd, Markku Kulmala, Sandro Fuzzi, Anni Reissell, Meinrat O. Andreae, Science 5 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5894, pp. 1309 – 1313 DOI: 10.1126/science.1160606.

In that paper you wrote

“….before humankind started to change the environment, aerosol concentrations were not much greater (up to double) over land than over the oceans… “

In the paper

Andreae and Rosenfeld, 2008: Aerosol–cloud–precipitation interactions. Part 1. The nature and sources of cloud-active aerosols. Earth System Reviews.

you wrote

“There is now clear and rapidly growing evidence that atmospheric aerosols have profound impacts on the thermodynamic and radiative energy budgets of the Earth…”

“Model calculations and observations in remote continental regions consistently suggest that CCN concentrations over the pristine continents were similar to those now prevailing over the remote oceans, suggesting that human activities have modified cloud microphysics more than what is reflected in conventional wisdom.”

I could list similar findings with respect to LULCC.

The increasing GHG did not dominate anthropogenic climate forcing over the last decades. Unfortunately, the human effects are more serious than that.

With respect to your question as to whether I dispute the notion that increasing GHGs is causing increasing global temperatures, clearly added CO2 and other greenhouse gases is a first-order positive radiative forcing. Clearly, I agree that increasing GHGs are contributing to an increase.

Its relative contribution to the observed global warming (which is best diagnosed by changes in upper ocean heat content), however, is still uncertain due to

i) aerosol effects; where you wrote in your June 2, 2006 Science Perspective article on the role of aerosols entitled “Aerosols, Clouds, and Climate

“These aerosol effects are poorly quantified and represent the greatest uncertainty in our understanding of the climate system.”

ii) solar effects – e.g. see

Lean, J. L., and D. H. Rind (2009): How Will Earth’s Surface Temperature Change in Future Decades?,
Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2009GL038932, in press. (accepted 9 July 2009).

iii) natural variations – e.g. see

“The Climate Is Not What You Expect” By S. Lovejoy and D. Schertzer 2012 [submitted to BAMS]

iv) land use/land cover effects – which in a global average change in heat content seem to average out, but have large regional effects on climate and the resultant effect on cloud cover is not known; e.g.

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.

Finally, it seems that we have a disagreement as to what is meant by anthropogenic climate forcing. In my view, it is much more than a change in the global average temperature (or global average TOA radiative imbalance).

Global scale effects on climate can occur due to alterations in regional atmospheric and ocean circulations due to regionally heterogeneous human-caused aerosol and land use/land cover changes, even if the global average radiative imbalance was not changed. In my view, this is the more serious issue, as droughts, floods, hurricane tracks, etc are associated with regional circulations patterns (including the NAO, PDO, ENSO etc), with a global average increase in average temperature only a relatively small contributor; e.g. see John Neilsen-Gammon’s analysis

http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2012/07/twenty-times-more-likely-not-the-science/

I wrote on the misleading use of the term “climate change” in my post

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

where I propose these two definitions

Global Warming is an increase in the global annual average heat content measured in Joules.

Climate Change is any multi-decadal or longer alteration in one or more physical, chemical and/or biological components of the climate system.

The 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

reinforces the need for this broader view.

In terms of seeking to mitigate and adapt to the effect of humans on the climate system, I have concluded that the focus on CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases as the dominate concern is not only inaccurate, but will lead to poor policy decisions.

Finally, do I have your permission (and Alan yours too) to post our e-mail exchanges on my weblog?

Best regards

Roger

Danny’s Comment [my highlight added]

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your elaboration and clarifications. I agree that my statement to which you did not agree:

“the anthropogenic climate forcing was dominated by increasing GHG”.

should be qualified to the climate scale.

Here we need indeed to separate the effects on regional and weather scales from the global and climate scales, as Lovejoy has now so nicely defined.

The amounts of anthropogenic aerosols on a global scale probably have already peaked. But the GHG concentrations keep accelerating. This means that the GHG dominate the trend of the globally averaged long term trend of the temperature, but at the regional scale other effects may dominate the trends of temperature and other parameters.

The meaning of the main points that I have been making in the publications that you have referenced are:

1. On a regional scale, the aerosols can be the dominant anthropogenic climate forcing.

2. On a global scale, the aerosols might be in par with the GHG. We just don’t know.

The inability to quantify the possibly large radiative forcing prevents us from quantifying adequately the climate sensitivity and hence from predicting the expected global warming due to a given added GHG-induced radiative forcing. This does not contradict the AMS statement that “the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past  half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse  gases”.

This is in fact a discussion on the boundary between weather modification and climate change. The impacts on the ecosystems certainly happen at the regional scales.

So where do we put the distinction between weather modification and climate change?

Roger, Your discussion has been very helpful to recognize this as a major question and the confusion that it incurs, which we as a committee need to address, and perhaps negotiate with the AMS committee on climate variability and change.

Thanks and best regards, Danny

My Reply to Danny

Hi Danny

Thank you for the further follow up. You raise an important issue -

What is the distinction between weather modification and climate change?

In the 2005 NRC report, we defined climate in Figure 1-1 [http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11175&page=12] as

“The climate system, consisting of the atmosphere, oceans, land, and cryosphere. Important state variables for each sphere of the climate system are listed in the boxes. For the purposes of this report, the Sun, volcanic emissions, and human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases and changes to the land surface are considered external to the climate system.”

It seems to me that weather is necessarily a component of the climate system. One can separate by averaging time (i.e. long term statistics), but this is clearly quite arbitrary. We often, for example,talk about the “microclimate” of a location and use this information to explain variations in local weather observations. Many use “seasonal climate predictions” when what they really mean are “season averaged weather statistics”.

On Shaun Lovejoy’s paper, he and I discussed more on the chaotic character of the climate system in a set of e-mails as reported in my post

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

There does need to be a clearer (overdue in my view) definition of terminology and the AMS committees provide one effective set of venues to do this.

On your comment that the aerosol effect may have peaked, hopefully this is true. I agree it is not true for the GHGs. However, it is also not true of LULCC; e.g. see

Fragkias, F. and K.C. Seto, 2012: The rise and rise of urban expansion Urban land area has expanded globally during the past few decades – a trend that looks set to continue in the foreseeable future. IGBP Newsletter, 78. March 2012.

in my post

2012 IGBP Article “Cities Expand By Area Equal To France, Germany And Spain Combined In Less Than 20 years”

Can I post our e-mail exchanges? Alan (and Bob) have okayed his.

Best Regards

Roger

Danny’s Reply

Hi Roger,

Yes, you can post our email exchange.

Best regards, Danny

source of image

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Summary Of Two Game-Changing Papers – Watts Et al 2012 and McNider Et Al 2012

UPDATE #2: To make sure everyone clearly recognizes my involvement with both papers, I provided Anthony suggested text and references for his article [I am not a co-author of the Watts et al paper], and am a co-author on the McNider et al paper.

UPDATE: There has been discussion as to whether the Time of Observation Bias (TOB) could affect the conclusions reached in Watts et al (2012). This is a valid concern.  Thus the “Game Changing” finding of whether the trends are actually different for well- and poorly-sited locations is  tenative until it is shown whether or not TOB alters the conclusions.  The issue, however, is not easy to resolve. In our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., T. Stohlgren, L. Schell, W. Parton, N. Doesken, K. Redmond, J. Moeny, T. McKee, and T.G.F. Kittel, 2002: Problems in evaluating regional and local trends in temperature: An example from eastern Colorado, USA. Int. J. Climatol., 22, 421-434.

this is what we concluded [highlight added]

The time of observation biases clearly are a problem in using raw data from the US Cooperative stations. Six stations used in this study have had documented changes in times of observation. Some stations, like Holly, have had numerous changes. Some of the largest impacts on monthly and seasonal temperature time series anywhere in the country are found in the Central Great Plains as a result of relatively frequent dramatic interdiurnal temperature changes. Time of observation adjustments are therefore essential prior to comparing long-term trends.

We attempted to apply the time of observation adjustments using the paper by Karl et al. (1986). The actual implementation of this procedure is very difficult, so, after several discussions with NCDC personnel familiar with the procedure, we chose instead to use the USHCN database to extract the time of observation adjustments applied by NCDC. We explored the time of observation bias and the impact on our results by taking the USHCN adjusted temperature data for 3 month seasons, and subtracted the seasonal means computed from the station data adjusted for all except time of observation changes in order to determine the magnitude of that adjustment. An example is shown here for Holly, Colorado (Figure 1), which had more changes than any other site used in the study.

What you would expect to see is a series of step function changes associated with known dates of time of observation changes. However, what you actually see is a combination of step changes and other variability, the causes of which are not all obvious. It appeared to us that editing procedures and procedures for estimating values for missing months resulted in computed monthly temperatures in the USHCN differing from what a user would compute for that same station from averaging the raw data from the Summary of the Day Cooperative Data Set. This simply points out that when manipulating and attempting to homogenize large data sets, changes can be made in an effort to improve the quality of the data set that may or may not actually accomplish the initial goal.

Overall, the impact of applying time of observation adjustment at Holly was to cool the data for the 1926–58 with respect to earlier and later periods. The magnitude of this adjustment of 2 °C is obviously very large, but it is consistent with changing from predominantly late afternoon observation times early in the record to early morning observation times in recent years in the part of the country where time of observation has the greatest effect. Time of observation adjustments were also applied at five other sites.

Until this issue is resolved, the Game Changer aspect of the Watts et al 2012 study  is tenative. [Anthony reports he is actively working to resolve this issue on hold ] The best way to address the TOB issue is to use data from sites in the Watts et al data set that have hourly resolution.  For those years, when the station is unchanging in location, compute the TOB.  The Karl et al (1986) method of TOB adjustment, in my view, needs to be more clearly defined and further examined  in order to better address this issue. I understand research is underway to examine the TOB issue in detail, and results will be reported by Anthony when ready.

*************ORIGINAL POST****************

There are two recent papers that raise serious questions on the accuracy of the quantitative  diagnosis of global warming by NCDC, GISS, CRU and BEST based on land surface temperature anomalies.   These papers are a culmination of two areas of uncertainty study that were identified in the paper

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.

The Summary

  • One paper [Watts et al 2012] show that siting quality does matter. A warm bias results in the continental USA when poorly sited locations are used to construct a gridded analysis of land surface temperature anomalies.
  • The other paper [McNider et al 2012] shows that not only does the height at which minimum temperature observations are made matter, but even slight changes in vertical mixing (such as from adding a small shed near the observation site, even in an otherwise pristine location) can increase the measured temperature at the height of the observation. This can occur when there is little or no layer averaged warming.

The Two Papers

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]

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]

To Provide Context

First, however, to make sure that my perspective on climate is properly understood;

i) There has been global warming over the last several decades. The ocean is the component of the climate system that is best suited for quantifying climate system heat change [Pielke, 2003] e.g. see the figure below from NOAA’s Upper Ocean Heat Content Anomaly for their estimate of the magnitude of warming since 1993

ii) The human addition to CO2 into the atmosphere is a first-order climate forcing; e.g. see Pielke et al (2009) and the NOAA plot below

However, the Watts et al 2012 and McNider et al 2012 papers  refute a major assumption in the CCSP 1.1 report

Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere – Understanding and Reconciling Differences

that variations in surface temperature anomalies are random and this can be averaged to create area means that are robust measures of the average surface temperature in that region (and when summed globally, provide an accurate global land average surface temperature anomaly).  Randomness, and with assumption of no systematic biases, is shown in the two papers to be incorrect.

In the chapter

Lanzante et al 2005: What do observations indicate about the changes of temperatures in the atmosphere and at the surface since the advent of measuring temperatures vertically?

they write that [highlight added]

“Currently, there are three main groups creating global analyses of surface temperature (see Table 3.1), differing in the choice of available data that are utilized as well as the manner in which these data are synthesized.

My Comment: Now there is the addition of Richard Muller’s BEST analysis.

Since the network of surface stations changes over time, it is necessary to assess how well the available observations monitor global or regional temperature. There are three ways in which to make such assessments (Jones, 1995). The first is using “frozen grids” where analysis using only those grid boxes with data present in the sparsest years is used to compare to the full data set results from other years (e.g., Parker et al., 1994). The results generally indicate very small errors on multi-annual timescales (Jones, 1995). “

My Comment:  The “frozen grids” combine data from poor- and well-site locations, and from different heights.  A warm bias results. This is a similar type of analysis as used in BEST.

The second technique is sub-sampling a spatially complete field, such as model output, only where in situ observations are available. Again the errors are small (e.g., the standard errors are less than 0.06ºC for the observing period 1880 to 1990; Peterson et al., 1998b).

My Comment:  Again, there is the assumption that no systematic biases exist in the observations. Poorly sited locations are blended with well-sited locations which, based on Watts et al (2012), artificially elevates the sub-sampled trends.

The third technique is comparing optimum averaging, which fills in the spatial field using covariance matrices, eigenfunctions or structure functions, with other analyses. Again, very small differences are found (Smith et al., 2005). The fidelity of the surface temperature record is further supported by work such as Peterson et al. (1999) which found that a rural subset of global land stations had almost the same global trend as the full network and Parker (2004) that found no signs of urban warming over the period covered by this report.

My Comment:  Here is where the assumption that the set of temperature anomalies are random is presented. Watts et al (2012) provide observational evidence, and McNider et al (2012)  present theoretical reasons, why this is an incorrect assumption.

Since the three chosen data sets utilize many of the same raw observations, there is a degree of interdependence. Nevertheless, there are some differences among them as to which observing sites are utilized. An important advantage of surface data is the fact that at any given time there are thousands of thermometers in use that contribute to a global or other large-scale average. Besides the tendency to cancel random errors, the large number of stations also greatly facilitates temporal homogenization since a given station may have several “near-neighbors” for “buddy-checks.” While there are fundamental differences in the methodology used to create the surface data sets, the differing techniques with the same data produce almost the same results (Vose et al., 2005a).

My Comment: There statement that there is “the tendency to cancel random errors” is shown in the Watts et al 2012 and McNider et al 2012 papers to be incorrect. This means their claim that  “the large number of stations also greatly facilitates temporal homogenization since a given station may have several “near-neighbors” for “buddy-checks.”  is erroneously averaging together sites with a warm bias.

Bottom Line Conclusion: The Watts et al 2012 and McNider et al 2012 papers have presented the climate community with evidence of major systematic warm biases in the analysis of multi-decadal land surface temperature anomalies by NCDC, GISS, CRU and BEST.  The two paper also help explain the discrepancy seen between the multi-decadal temperature trends in the surface and lower tropospheric temperature that was documented in

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.

I look forward to discussing the conclusions of these two studies in the coming weeks and months.

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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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A Mistaken Priority For The USA Space Program

I have had a very minor role in the use of models to improve our understanding of the Martian climate system; e.g. see

Ye, Z., M. Segal, and R.A. Pielke, 1990: A comparative study of daytime  thermally induced upslope flow on Mars and Earth. J. Atmos. Sci., 47,  612-628.

Rafkin, S.C. Randell, A. Rothchild, T. I. Michaels, and R.A. Pielke, Sr., 2012: Wind-Enhanced Interaction of Radiation and Dust (WEIRD) and the growth and maintenance of local dust storms on Mars.The International Journal of Mars Science and Exploration, submitted.

I was also on a JPL review committee that discussed, based on a Mars versions of the models MM5 and RAMS, where the risks were too large for the Martian Rovers - Spirit and Opportunity to land. Currently, I continue to work with Scot Rafkin of Southwest Labs in Boulder Colorado, developer and leader on the Martian (and now also the Titan) versions of the Mars Regional Atmospheric Modeling System  (see).

Thus, I was disappointed to see NASA’s decision to deemphasize planetary exploration using robotics in order to spend funds on the much more expensive human space program (although some planetary missions are retained; see). With the development of high-capacity and high-performance computing and robotics, the need for human space missions has become much less needed.

Indeed, it seems the only reasons are political competition with other countries (e.g. China) and to show that humans can live in space. Most of us are certainly intrigued by human space flight (Star Trek Next Generation is a great motivational reason :-)), but the actual additions to our scientific knowledge, other than the effects on humans of being in space, have been slight. The greatest scientific achievements in space have been on the planetary, asteroid and solar missions, and in the Earth orbiting satellites (both looking at Earth and looking outward at the vast and diverse material that makes up the Universe.

Thus it was a disappointment to read the BBC article by Jonathan Amos

Where now for Mars exploration?

The article has the text [highlight added]

It’s the planetary scientists who probably have the glummest faces a day after President Obama announced his 2013 budget request for Nasa.

Planetary science loses 20% of its current $1.5bn budget, with Mars exploration taking the single biggest hit, down from $587m this year to $360m next year – a 39% reduction.

The chief casualty, as I predicted last week, is the Americans’ joint missions to the Red Planet with Europe in 2016 and 2018.

It means that in the space of 12 months, Nasa has now pulled the plug on five major missions it was planning with Europe:

Lisa gravitational wave observatory

International X-Ray Observatory

Europa-Jupiter System Mission

and now

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter in 2016

and ExoMars rover in 2018.

Charles Bolden and his new science chief, “Hubble repairman” John Grunsfeld, think they have a workable scenario.

They want future efforts at the Red Planet to be a better fit with human spaceflight ambitions. That is, future robotic ventures at Mars must do stuff which feeds into an eventual manned mission that Barack Obama has said should be a goal for the 2030s.

Congress should reject this approach and insist on sustaining a robust planetary program even if this reduces the funding, for the time being, for human space travel. When we have the luxury to do a human mission to Mars, those  funds can be added back. But if the current reduction in non-human space activities persists, we will have less scientific knowledge in which to base human travel to Mars and elsewhere.

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Ignored Request For NSF To Respond On The Lack Of Value Of Regional Downscaling Of Climate Forecasts Decades From Now

I am posting below an e-mail I sent in late June to Jay Fein and Margaret Cavanaugh at the National Science Foundation regarding what I view as fatal problems with impact studies in the coming decades based on multi-decadal global climate predictions. These impact studies are based on an assumed skill at downscaling to regional and local regions where these impacts would occur.

from: Roger A Pielke Sr to”Fein, Jay S.” <xxxxxx> with a cc to “Cavanaugh, Margaret A.” <xxxxxx>

Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 11:04 AM

subject: NSF

Dear Jay

 I have not heard further from you or Margaret on the major issues I have raised with the funding by NSF of regional impact studies based on multi-decadal global climate model predictions.  I would appreciate your (and/or Margaret’s or other NSF program manager responses) to the substantive concerns (one could consider these as hypotheses which need to be tested) raised in my post

The Failure Of Dynamic Downscaling As Adding Value to Multi-Decadal Regional Climate Prediction
http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/the-failure-of-dynamic-downscaling-as-adding-value-to-multi-decadal-regional-climate-prediction/

which are

“1. As a necessary condition for an accurate prediction, the multi-decadal global climate model simulations must include all first-order climate forcings and feedbacks. However, they do not [see for example: NRC, 2005; Pielke Sr. et al., 2009].

2. These global multi-decadal predictions are unable to skillfully simulate major atmospheric circulation features such the Pacific Decadal Oscillation [PDO], the North Atlantic Oscillation [NAO], El Niño and La Niña, and the South Asian monsoon [Pielke Sr., 2010; Annamalai et al., 2007].

3. While dynamic regional downscaling yield higher spatial resolution, the regional climate models are strongly dependent on the lateral boundary conditions and interior nudging by their parent global models [e.g., see Rockel et al., 2008]. Large-scale climate errors in the global models are retained and could even be amplified by the higher spatial resolution regional models.

4. Since as reported, the global multi-decadal climate model predictions cannot accurately predict circulation features such as the PDO, NAO, El Niño, and La Niña [Compo et al., 2011] they cannot provide accurate lateral boundary conditions and interior nudging to the regional climate models.

5. The regional models themselves do not have the domain scale (or two-way interaction) to skillfully predict these larger-scale atmospheric features.

6. There is also only one-way interaction between regional and global models which is not physically consistent. If the regional model significantly alters the atmospheric and/or ocean circulations, there is no way for this information to alter the larger-scale circulation features which are being fed into the regional model through the lateral boundary conditions and nudging.

7. When higher spatial analyses of land use and other forcings are considered in the regional domain, the errors and uncertainty from the larger model still persists thus rendering the added complexity and details ineffective [Ray et al. 2010; Mishra et al. 2010].

8. The lateral boundary conditions for input to regional downscaling require regional-scale information from a global forecast model. However the global model does not have this regional-scale information due to its limited spatial resolution. This is, however, a logical paradox since the regional model needs something that can only be acquired by a regional model (or regional observations). Therefore, the acquisition of lateral boundary conditions with the needed spatial resolution becomes logically impossible.

Finally, There is sometimes an incorrect assumption that although global climate models cannot predict future climate change as an initial value problem, they can predict future climate statistics as a boundary value problem [Palmer et al., 2008]. With respect to weather patterns, for the downscaling regional (and global) models to add value over and beyond what is available from the historical, recent paleo-record, and worse case sequence of days, however, they must be able to skillfully predict the changes in the regional weather statistics.

 There is only value for predicting climate change, however, if they could skillfully predict the changes in the statistics of the weather and other aspects of the climate system. There is no evidence, however, that the model can predict changes in these climate statistics even in hindcast. As highlighted in Dessai et al. [2009] the finer and time-space based downscaled information can be .misconstrued as accurate., but the ability to get this finer-scale information does not necessarily translate into increased confidence in the downscaled scenario [Wilby, 2010].”
These issues have passed peer review 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.
http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/r-365.pdf

I have also submitted comments to the National Science Board as I report in my post

My Comments On “NSB/NSF Seeks Input on Proposed Merit Review Criteria Revision and Principles”
http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/my-comments-on-nsbnsf-seeks-input-on-proposed-merit-review-criteria-revision-and-principles/

This is based on my documented negative experiences with the NSF program with respect to climate research in

My Experiences With A Lack Of Proper Diligence And Bias In The NSF Review Process For Climate Proposals

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/my-experiences-with-a-lack-of-proper-diligence-in-the-nsf-review-process-for-climate-proposals/
I plan to post on my request for information from you on my science issues regarding downscaling in order to obtain multi-decadal regional climate impacts. While, as you requested, I will not reproduce your e-mails but I will report that I have contacted you on this.

Quite frankly, in my view, this is a waste of large amounts of NSF funding on climate. However, I welcome responses, which I can post, that seek to refute this conclusion in order to facilitate a much overdue debate on these questions.

Sincerely

Roger

The failure of Jay Fein and Margaret Cavanaugh of the National Science Foundation to even have the courtesy of a reply to the issues I am raising illustrates a failure in accountability of this US federal agency. They hold the authority over funding these multi-decadal climate prediction impact studies without any oversight over the scientific robustness of this methodology. Huge amounts of money are being wasted in this misuse of modeling.

My recommendation is that a Congressional subcommittee examine whether their expenditures of funds for these impact studies is an effective use of federal tax dollars. In my view, it is not only a waste of money but is misleading policymakers on the actual spectrum of risks that society and the environment face in the future, as outlined 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.

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Congressional Testimony – June 26 2008

Judy Curry will be testifiying this week as she has reported on her weblog; see

Uncertainty gets a seat at the “big table”

Climate Etc. Skip to contentHomeAboutBlog Rules ← Older posts Uncertainty gets a seat at the “big table.” Part II

I was fortunate to also testify in 2008 [my written testimony is available below]

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

My oral testimony [which I read at the Hearing] is reproduced below

Oral Testimony

“A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits Effective Climate Policy” by Dr. Roger A. Pielke Sr. Senior Research Scientist, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

For the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce – Honorable Rick Boucher, Chairman

June 26 2008

The human addition of CO2 into the atmosphere is a first-order climate forcing. We need an effective policy to limit the atmospheric concentration of this gas. However, humans are significantly altering the climate system in a diverse range of ways in addition to CO2. The information that I am presenting will assist in properly placing CO2 policies into the broader context of climate policy.

Climate is much more than just long-term weather statistics but includes all physical, chemical, and biological components of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and glacier-covered areas. In 2005, the National Research Council published a report “Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties” that documented that a human disturbance of any component of the climate system, necessarily alters other aspects of the climate.

  • The role of humans within the climate system must, therefore, be one of the following three possibilities
  • The human influence is minimal and natural variations dominate climate variations on all time scales;
  • While natural variations are important, the human influence is significant and involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to the human input of CO2;

The human influence is dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide

My written testimony presents evidence that the correct scientific conclusion is that

The human influence on climate is significant and involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to the human input of CO2.

Modulating carbon emissions as the sole mechanism to mitigate climate change neglects the diversity of the other, important first-order human climate forcings. As a result, a narrow focus only on carbon dioxide, to predict future climate impacts, will lead to erroneous confidence in the ability to predict future climate, and, thus, costs and benefits will be miscalculated. CO2 policies need to be complemented by other policies focused on the other first-order climate forcings.

In addition, the 2005 National Research Council Report concluded that a global average surface temperature trend offers little information on regional climate change. In other words, the concept of “global warming”, by itself, does not accurately communicate the regional responses to the diverse range of human climate forcings. Regional variations in warming and cooling for example, such as from tropospheric aerosols and landscape changes, as concluded in the National Research Council report, have important regional and global impacts on weather.

The human climate forcings that have been ignored, or are insufficiently presented in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and CCSP [US Climate Change Science Program] reports include

  • The influence of human-caused aerosols on regional (and global) radiative heating
  • The effect of aerosols on clouds and precipitation
  • The influence of aerosol deposition (e.g. soot; nitrogen) on climate
  • The effect of land cover/ land use on climate
  • The biogeochemical effect of added atmospheric CO2

Thus climate policy that is designed to mitigate the human impact on regional climate by focusing only on the emissions of CO2 is seriously incomplete unless these other first-order human climate forcings are included, or complementary policies for these other human climate forcings are developed.

Moreover, it is important to recognize that climate policy and energy policy, while having overlaps, are distinctly different topics with different mitigation and adaptation options.

A way forward with respect to a more effective climate policy is to focus on the assessment of adaptation and mitigation strategies that reduce vulnerability of important societal and environmental resources to both natural and human caused climate variability and change. For example, restricting development in flood plains or in hurricane storm surge coastal locations is an effective adaptation strategy regardless of how climate changes.

In conclusion, humans are significantly altering the global climate, but in a variety of diverse ways beyond the radiative effect of carbon dioxide. The CCSP assessments have been too conservative in recognizing the importance of these human climate forcings as they alter regional and global climate. These assessments have also not communicated the inability of the models to accurately forecast future regional climate on multi-decadal time scales since these other first-order human climate forcings are excluded. The forecasts, therefore, do not provide skill in quantifying the impact of different mitigation strategies on the actual climate response that would occur as a result of policy intervention with respect to only CO2.

I also recommend reading my public comment on the CCSP process [which was used as part of the 2007 IPCC WG1 report]

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

I reported in that Comment that

“The process for completing the CCSP Report excluded valid scientific perspectives under the charge of the Committee. The Editor of the Report systematically excluded a range of views on the issue of understanding and reconciling lower atmospheric temperature trends. The Executive Summary of the CCSP Report ignores critical scientific issues and makes unbalanced conclusions concerning our current understanding of temperature trends.”

The documentation for this bias in provided in the Comment and also in the weblog post

E-mail Documentation Of The Successful Attempt By Thomas Karl Director Of the U.S. National Climate Data Center To Suppress Biases and Uncertainties In the Assessment of Surface Temperature Trends.

Judy Curry will have an opportunity tomorrow to present her views and I look forward to reading her testimony and those of our other colleagues.

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Summary Of Climate Science Issues

Today I want to summarize several major conclusions with respect to climate science.  I have provided examples of peer reviewed papers and reports that bolster these conclusions. Recently, I was asked by a senior program manager at the National Science Foundation to comment on the need for a broader assessment of the climate issue by the National Academy of Sciences. While I am not optimistic that the Academy will do this (or even if the program manager will pursue further), it does provide a glimmer of hope. With the release of report “Climate Change Assessments, Review of the Processes & Procedures of the IPCC“ (see), there is finally a basis to provide more inclusive climate assessments.

Regardless, I have listed below in bullet form, a number of conclusions on climate science. They can be considered as hypotheses and interested credentialed climate science readers of my weblog are invited to present evidence which refutes these hypotheses.

  • Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades [e.g. see Pielke et al 2009].
  • The role of humans within the climate system involves much more than global warming [NRC, 2005; Kabat et al 2004]
  • The IPCC global climate model multi-decadal simulations are inaccurately called “projections” or “predictions”. They are truthfully “sensitivity experiments”. [e.g. see Pielke 2002].
  • The IPCC global climate model multi-decadal simulations are considered by that community to be boundary-value problems (i. e. a deviation from current climate is primarily due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide). The real climate system, however, is an initial value problem as the values of climate variables at any given time (in the ocean, land, continental ice and atmosphere) matter in terms of how the climate system evolves over the coming decades. [e.g. see Pielke 1998].
  • The dynamic downscaling of IPCC global climate model multi-decadal simulations to regional scales has not so far provided added skill above what is possible using statistical downscaling from the global climate models models [e.g. see Castro 2005]
  • The global average surface temperature trend is a grossly inadequate metric to assess global warming and cooling. The monitoring of upper ocean heat content is the much more appropriate method to make this assessment and the data, since about 2003, are excellent for this purpose [.e.g. see Pielke 2003 and Pielke 2008].

There are several policy implications from these conclusions:

  1. The presentation (and funding of model simulations) of regional climate impacts decades into the future is flawed science. It represents a waste of money as there is no demonstrated predictive skill on this time and space scale, or, in fact, any opportunity to validate these predictions until these decades have passed.
  2. A focus on CO2 as the dominate human climate forcing is also a flawed, incomplete scientific perspective. It can easily lead to policy decisions that are costly yet accomplish little if anything in terms of actual mitigation of the role of humans in the climate system.  Policies focused on controlling the emissions of greenhouse gases must necessarily be supported by complementary policies focused on other first-order climate forcings.
  3. Climate policy is not synonymous with energy policy. While there are indeed overlaps,  much of these two topics are separate from each other.
  4. Integrated assessments within the framework of vulnerability, with an emphasis on risk assessment and disaster prevention, offer an underutilized approach to climate issues (e.g. for water resources see].

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Post On Die Klimazwiebel “Roger Pielke Sr. Claims To Have Found Errors In WGI-Report Of IPCC AR4″

Hans von Storch invited me to submit a summary of the issues with the accuracy of the 2007 IPCC WG1 report. It has now appeared on his weblog Die Kkimazwiebel under the title

Roger Pielke sr. claims to have found errors in WGI-report of IPCC AR4

I presented, as defined on Hans’s weblog,

“three significant errors – with error meaning “an inaccurate or flawed analysis of the available, scientifically legitimate knowledge available in time of the deadline of AR4″.

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Climate Policy ≠ Energy Policy [At Least It Shouldn't!]

There continues to be confusion that controls on the emissions of CO2 and other human of greenhouse gases is the main response that is needed with respect to climate policy. That is, if we can control these emissions, we can prevent a dangerous intervention into the climate system.

Unfortunately, the climate system is not that simple. The need for a broader perspective was summarized 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.

where we wrote

“If communities are to become more resilient to the entire spectrum of possible environmental and social variability and change [Vörösmarty et al., 2000], scientists must properly assess the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the choices made by modern society and anticipate the demands for resources several decades into the future.”

In 2008, I discussed the relationship of climate policy with energy policy which I reproduce below [from  Roger Pielke Sr.’s Perspective On Adaptation and Mitigation]

There is considerable discussion on the relative roles of adaption and mitigation with respect to the findings in the 2007 IPCC report (e.g., see).  Thus, I have concluded that it is worthwhile to specifically define my views on this subject, as I did on the related subject of the human role within the climate system; see

Roger A. Pielke Sr.’s Perspective On The Role Of Humans In Climate Change

First, it needs to be emphasized that climate and energy policies, while there are overlaps, are distinctly different issues. As reported on Climate Science (e.g. see and see), the 2007 IPCC approach, and other related reports, are actually energy policy proposals cloaked in the guise of climate change.

Following is a short summary of my view on climate and energy policies with respect to adaptation and mitigation:

  • Climate policy in the past has been, with the limited exception of deliberate weather modification (see), focused on adaptation. Dams, zoning so as to limit habitation in flood plains, etc are examples of this adaptation. 
  • For the coming decades, adaptation still needs to be the primary approach. As reported in the 2005 National Research Council report (Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties) the human influence on the climate system involves a diverse range of forcings. Thus, a focus on controlling the emissions of carbon dioxide by itself (i.e. mitigation) is an inadequate approach for an effective climate policy.
  • Energy policy, however, clearly must emphasize an active management policy since a vibrant economy and society requires energy. However, all energy sources are not the same in terms of how they affect the environment and their availability. For example, the dependence of the United States, Europe and other countries on oil from politically unstable regions of the world needs to be eliminated.
  • The current focus of the IPCC and others on climate change with their emphasis on global warming, as a guise to promote energy policy, therefore, is an erroneous and dishonest approach to communicate energy policy to policymakers and the public. The optimal energy policy requires expertise and assessments that involves a much broader community than the climate science profession.

The take home message is

“…..the 2007 IPCC approach, and other related reports, are actually energy policy proposals cloaked in the guise of climate change”.

The use of a narrow focus on climate (as represented by the emphasis on just one human climate forcing type – CO2 and few other greenhouse gases) as the vehicle to effect energy policy changes is very seriously flawed. [see also the post from yesterday  - http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/05/reality-check.html].

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