Monthly Archives: August 2005

Linear Climate Trends or Sudden Transitions of Climate – Which is More Likely?

A recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters by K. Zickfeld and colleagues (“Is the Indian summer monsoon stable against global change?” provides an example of investigating multiple climate forcings. According to their study, sulfur emissions and/or land-use changes as they affect planetary albedo, or natural variations in insolation and CO2 concentrations, could trigger abrupt transitions between different monsoon regimes. While the paper uses a simple box model of the tropical atmosphere, it is a start at investigating a set of multiple climate forcings as causing rapid transitions of climate in India. Such rapid transitions are already part of the natural system; see 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.)

In contrast to the nearly linear, and monotonic predicted trends from the anthropogenic increases of CO2 such as reported by the IPCC, the occurrence of such sudden changes are more the norm and would have major societal impacts. Such nonlinear climate system responses, however, are likely to be impossible to skillfully predict. This provides further impetus to adopt the vulnerability perspective such as promoted by Jon Foley
(subscription required) and here on this Weblog (see our July 19 and 26 and August 16 2005 postings).

The August 11 2005 paper published in Science Express Reports (Sherwood S., J. Lanzante ,and Cathryn Meyer: Radiosonde daytime biases and late-20th century warming; subscription required), for example, perpetuate the emphasis on large-scale linear trend analysis, in their study of tropospheric temperature trends. This is because the General Circulation Models focus on global- and zonally-averaged temperature trends, and linear trends from the observations are being compared with linear trends from the GCMs. As quoted by one of the authors (Sherwood) in a New York times interview (free subscription required).

“Things being debated now are details about the models,” said Steven Sherwood, the lead author of the paper on the balloon data and an atmospheric physicist at Yale. “Nobody is debating any more that significant climate changes are coming.”

This statement is based on a linear analysis.

However, while their study of the accuracy of linear trends determined from radiosondes is scientifically interesting, if the Geophysical Research Letters study by Zickfeld et al. has merit, it is to show us that assessing large-scale linear trends is of little practical use in estimating our real threat from future climate change.

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What is the Relevance of a Tropical Average Surface Temperature Change to Organisms in the Tropics?

As we have discussed previously on Climate Science (see the July 11th posting: The Globally-Averaged Surface Temperature Trend – Incompletely Assessed? Is It Even Relevant?), the global-averaged surface temperature trend is a focus of the climate change debate. Indeed it has become an icon. This concept of surface temperature change has been extended to regions, such as reported at http://i-newswire.com/pr42191.html, where a statement by University of Washington ecologist Joshua Tewksbury is made regarding temperature changes in the tropics and reproduced below,

“Temperatures in the tropics don’t fluctuate that much, so the relatively small temperature shifts predicted by climate change models will be very large in relation to what organisms are adapted to tolerate,” he said. “It’s only going to be perhaps a 2-degree change, but in many tropical areas organisms have never experienced a 2-degree change.”

However, this statement, if reported correctly, is inaccurate. Organisms in the tropics experience a 2-degree change between day and night. In many parts of the tropics, the change from dry to wet seasons also produces temperature variations larger than 2 degrees. When landscape changes due to deliberate land management, such as deforestation, large, long-term temperature changes also occur. Moreover, temperature vary significantly over very short distances and with height near the surface. A shaded location under a tropical forest canopy has a different temperature than in a clearing a few meters away. What location is this average temperature change supposed to represent in the Tewksbury study?

This fixation on average temperature changes obscure the much more complex effect of climate on the environment. Indeed, it is the extremes such as drought to the extent that desiccates vegetation, or floods that wash away soil that are more threatening. As we discussed in

Pielke Sr., R.A., N. Doesken, O. Bliss, T. Green, C. Chaffin, J.D. Salas, C. Woodhouse, J.L. Lukas, and K. Wolter, 2005: Drought 2002 in Colorado – An unprecedented drought or a routine drought? Pure Appl. Geophys., Special Issue in honor of Prof. Singh, 162, 1455-1479, doi:10.1007/200024-005-2679-6. http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu/publications/pdf/R-285.pdf

with respect to the 2002 drought in Colorado, the assessment of the impacts of a long-term change in weather is complicated as each resource is influenced differently. A similar assessment of the threats to tropical organisms needs to be completed. This is the reason we have encouraged the adoption of a vulnerability approach to environmental risk as contrasted with using downscaling information from a general circulation model (GCM) of climate change (see http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu/publications/pdf/CB-42.pdf) . Tewksbury moves in the direction of a vulnerability perspective when he states

“What we find is that organisms in the tropics have very low tolerance,” he said. “The evidence suggests that the range of temperatures an organism experiences dictates its tolerance to changing climate, or defines the temperature envelope in which it can live.”

His use of the term “tolerance” is a start at moving towards a vulnerability view. However, using GCM predictions of average surface temperature changes in the tropics to define the threat to tropical organisms which exist within their local environment grossly simplifies the actual diversity of threats to them due to climate and other environmental influences.

Roger A. Pielke Sr.
Professor and State Climatologist
Department of Atmospheric Science
Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1371
phone:970-491-8293/fax:970-491-3314
http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu
http://climate.atmos.colostate.edu

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Resignation from the CCSP Committee “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere-Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”

I have reproduced my resignation communication below. I have consistently and patiently outlined overlooked issues associated with better assessing and understanding the spatial and temporal surface and tropospheric temperature trends that have occurred over the last few decades. The current discussion in the media based on the three Science Express articles misses the more significant issue of spatial trends in tropospheric temperature trends, which, as I overviewed in my July 28th blog : What is the Importance to Climate of Heterogeneous Spatial Trends in Tropospheric Temperatures?, is what results in long-term trends in weather patterns. It is not a globally-averaged surface or tropospheric temperature trend that should be the focus. For global heat changes, we should be looking in the oceans ( see http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu/publications/pdf/R-247.pdf).

I presented my views on the major issues at the 2003 Asheville meeting on this subject before I was appointed to the Committee:

Pielke, R.A., Sr., 2003: Unanswered Questions. Workshop on Vertical Temperature Trends, Panel Question 5: How well can the observed changes be reconciled with our understanding of the causes of temperature change and does this increase or decrease our confidence about the human impact on global climate change? Asheville, North Carolina, October 27-29, 2003. http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu/presentations/PPT-5.pdf

This views were further elaborated on at the 2004 Exeter, UK meeting in our talk

Pielke, R.A., Sr., C. Davey, and T.N. Chase, 2004: Unresolved Issues in Surface and Tropospheric Temperature Trends. U.S. Climate Change Science Program Workshop on Profiles of Vertical Temperature Trends, Exeter, England, September 13-17, 2004.
http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu/presentations/PPT-20.pdf,

as well at each of the Chicago meetings. In my written submission during the public comment period, I will elaborate on these issues.

Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 01:14:59 +0000

Dear Dr. Mahoney (with copies to Richard Moss and the CCSP Committee)

I am resigning effective immediately from the CCSP Committee “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere-Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”. For the reasons briefly summarized in my blog (http://ccc.atmos.colostate.edu/blog/), I have given up seeking to promote a balanced presentation of the issue of assessing recent spatial and temporal surface and tropospheric temperature trends. The NY Times article today was the last straw. This entire exercise has been very disappointing, and, unfortunately is a direct result of having the same people write the assessment report as have completed the studies.

Their premature representation of aspects of the report to the media and in a Senate Hearing before we finalized the report has made me realize that, despite the claims of some of them to the contrary, only the minimal representation of the perspective that I represent will be begrudgingly included in the report. I also learned earlier this week that a member of the Committee drafted a replacement chapter to the one that I had been responsible for and worked hard toward reaching a consensus, which was almost complete. This sort of politicking has no place in a community assessment. If such committees are put together with no intention of adequately accommodating minority, but scientifically valid perspectives, then it would be best in the future not to invite such participation on CCSP committees.

I will be submitting a statement as part of the public record when the report appears documenting the specific process and science issues I have with this report. On the science issues, the community at large can made a decision as to whether or not they have merit.

Respectively,

Roger A. Pielke Sr.
Professor and State Climatologist
Department of Atmospheric Science
Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1371
phone:970-491-8293/fax:970-491-3314
http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu
http://ccc.atmos.colostate.edu

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Comment on Today’s NY Times article “Errors Cited in Assessing Climate”

In today’s NY Times there is an article entitled “Errors Cited in Assessing Climate Data.” In the article the following text was presented: (excerpts below)

“Other climate experts, however, said that the new studies were very significant, effectively resolving a puzzle that had been used by opponents of curbs on heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

‘These papers should lay to rest once and for all the claims by John Christy and other global warming skeptics that a disagreement between tropospheric and surface temperature trends means that there are problems with surface temperature records or with climate models,’ said Alan Robock, a meteorologist at Rutgers University.

The findings will be featured in a report on temperature trends in the lower atmosphere that is the first product to emerge from the Bush administration’s 10-year program intended to resolve uncertainties in climate science.

Several scientists involved in the new studies said that the government climate program, by forcing everyone involved to meet five times, had helped generate the new findings.”

The report that is referred to is the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product (CCSP) “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere-Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences.” I am Convening Lead Author on the Chapter “What measures can be taken to improve the understanding of observed changes?”

This CCSP report, however, has not been finalized and important scientific discussions continue on its contents and how they are to be characterized. It is grossly inappropriate for members of the Committee to discuss the findings, in any manner, until it is formally completed and released. This is particularly the case as important parts of the report remain under discussion. To do otherwise is to play politics with the report in the media.

My concern is with the efforts by the committee to limit its focus and not recognize important science issues found in the peer-reviewed literature. In retrospect, this should not have been surprising as many of the members of the Committee are colleagues who have published together and share a similar perspective. A conflict between different perspectives on the science of climate change, with both sides supported by the academic literature, was evident in the first draft of the CCSP report which went out for review by the National Research Council and in my related minority report. The editor of the draft CCSP report, Tom Karl, refused to allow my minority report to be submitted to the NRC Committee for their formal review and response, or even voted on by the members of the CCSP Committee. It would have been fairly straightforward to enage in a more inclusive process, rather than resort to procedural steps to block inclusion of inconvenient perspectives.

The shenanigans continue — without my previous knowledge, an ad hoc replacement version of Chapter 6 was introduced three days ago which significantly conflicts with the version that I have led preparation of, and which we were close to finalizing. The original version of Chapter 6 that went out for NRC review was at that time accepted by everyone on the Committee, These revisions are also being performed with each of the other Chapters.

Yet several members of the Committee immediately adopted the new version which is in substantive conflict with the protocol of preparing the report. This is not how science assessments should work. Different viewpoints should be accommodated.

Science operates by taking into account legitimate, if differing perspectives. In this case, members of this CCSP committee are trying to enforce a perspective on climate science that may be widely shared, but not universally so among qualified scientists, as reflected in the peer-reviewed literature. A great irony here is that the work I’d like to see reflected in the report reflects a more systematic and pervasive human influence on climate, but others want to see a narrow focus targeted at recent political controversies. The committee is overreaching by trying to enforce a narrow perspective on climate science. In the end, this cannot be good for the scientific community.

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Is CO2 a Pollutant?

A recent news article illustrates a popular understanding of carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Referring to carbon permit trading it reports:

“These brokers don’t trade stocks or bonds or gold or oil. What they trade is pollution. To be exact, they buy and sell the right to foul the air with carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that the U.S. National Academy of Sciences says causes global warming.”

The term “foul” has a number of definitions according to the Webster New World Dictionary, but the most appropriate in the context of the above quote is that it means:

“so offensive to the senses as to cause disgust; stinking; loathsome” and “extremely dirty or impure”; disgustingly filthy.”

A “pollutant” is defined as:

“a harmful chemical or waste material discharged into the water or atmosphere.”

To “pollute” is to:

“make unclean, impure, or corrupt; defile; contaminate; dirty.”

The American Meteorological Society’s Glossary lists the definition as:

air pollutionThe presence of substances in the atmosphere, particularly those that do not occur naturally. These substances are generally contaminants that substantially alter or degrade the quality of the atmosphere. The term is often used to identify undesirable substances produced by human activity, that is, anthropogenic air pollution. Air pollution usually designates the collection of substances that adversely affects human health, animals, and plants; deteriorates structures; interferes with commerce; or interferes with the enjoyment of life. Compare airborne particulates, designated pollutant, particulates, criteria pollutants.

The question is: How does atmospheric carbon dioxide fit into this definition? Carbon dioxide does occur naturally, of course, and is essential to life on Earth, as it is an essential chemical component in the photosynthesis process of plants. This is in contrast with other trace gases in the lower atmosphere such carbon monoxide, ozone, and sulfur dioxide which are have direct health and environmental effects on humans and vegetation. Indeed, when combustion is optimized, less carbon monoxide and more carbon dioxide are produced. There are no positive effects that I am aware of at any level of these pollutants in the lower atmosphere.

Thus, it is more informative to define anthropogenic inputs of carbon dioxide as a climate forcing, as was done in the 2005 National Research Council Report. This provides the recognition that carbon dioxide does not have direct health effects as implied by the news article that carbon dioxide “fouls” the air, but it does significantly affect our climate. Of
course, carbon monoxide, ozone and sulfur dioxide are also climate forcings. When these other atmospheric constituents are referred to in news articles and elsewhere, we would benefit by a distinction between an “air pollutant” and a “climate forcing” depending on the context.

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Comment from Jim Hansen on the August 2 Climate Science Posting

E-mail from Jim Hansen – August 3, 2005

It is implied, in the posting on Roger Pielke Sr.’s web site of a commentary by Pielke and Christy on our paper http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2005/2005_HansenNazarenkoR.pdf, (or reprints available from Darnell Cain <dcain@giss.nasa.gov>) that I discouraged Science from publishing their commentary. On the contrary, I encouraged Science to publish the commentary, as shown by the note (given verbatim below) that I sent to Science along with our response to the commentary.

Indeed, we want people to think about the significance of the precisely inferred planetary energy imbalance. Not only is the imbalance the “smoking gun” confirming the greenhouse mechanism, it is a quantitative metric of the planet’ss status, and it terminates any odd notions such as Dick Lindzen’s “iris” effect. The energy imbalance shows that there is no “leak” allowing the excess energy to escape to space. The planet will have to warm (~0.6°C more) to restore energy balance.

The ‘authoritative’ (sounding) 2nd referee doesn’t realize how small the fluctuations of the global mean energy balance with space are, even in the presence of realistic ENSO and large scale ocean dynamics variability, in the absence of external forcings. The measured/inferred imbalance, as a decadal-mean global-mean, is huge. It implies a correspondingly large external forcing that has yet to be responded to. Any doubts about this interpretation should be erased by a few more years of data. Accurate measurements are continuing and the number of profiling floats is increasing. This planetary metric will become more precise and has the potential to become very useful as the record gets longer. However, to be most useful, its significance needs to be widely recognized. Hopefully any doubting oceanographers have an open mind — I don’t think that we have a decade to convince them.

Regards, Jim Hansen

· The Pielke and Christy commentary, [our official response,] and reviews by two Science referees, are available from the Pielke web site.

· The note that I sent to Science along with our official response:

Here is our response to Pielke and Christy, which Darnell Cain is submitting via the requested electronic method. Although we do not agree with the criticisms of Pielke and Christy, several other people have asked similar or related questions, so I believe that it is worth addressing them.

It seems to me that the Pielke and Christy commentary is an example of the way that “global warming” critics tend to view relevant data (with, in my opinion, a bias, though, who knows, I may have a different bias). The good thing about the present topic is that it can be understood by the average Science reader (more readily than the technicalities involved in combining MSU measurements from different satellites).

Perhaps the exchange also draws attention to the potential of the planetary energy imbalance to cut through the fog of debate about global warming and provide a precise metric of the task humanity faces if it wishes to stabilize climate. That point was made in our original paper, but was buried amongst much greater detail.

The referenced 2005 paper (“Efficacy of climate forcings“), described as submitted to JGR in our original paper, has been accepted for publication.

Response by Roger Pielke Sr. – August 4, 2005

I am glad your attention was drawn to our posting on my blog. Since your e-mail was a widely distributed communication, I will post. Just one comment here; it is incorrect to refer to me as a “global warming critic”. As I clearly articulated in my BAMS article, the ocean heat content change is the appropriate metric to assess global warming. Indeed, to my knowledge, my article was the first to use the change in Joules to diagnose the Earth’s radiative imbalance on the multi-year to multi-decadal time scale. The Ellis et al. 1978 paper introduced this diagnostic approach. In my BAMS paper we reported on the global warming in units of watts per meter squared.

Regards,

Roger

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Why is Land Use/Land Cover a First-Order Climate Forcing?

As recognized by the National Research Council in 2005, land-use/land- cover change is a first- order climate forcing. However, its role as a regional and global climate influence is not widely recognized, except as it effects the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and the global average surface albedo. In the summary figure from the IPCC Statement for Policymakers (see Figure ES-2 here), in terms of the global mean radiative forcing, only albedo effects of land use/land cover change are identified.

However, numerous studies have shown that the effect of land-cover/land-use change is to alter temperatures and precipitation in regions where the change occurs, as well as weather globally through teleconnections (see, for example, The influence of land-use change and landscape dynamics on the climate system: relevance to climate-change policy beyond the radiative effect of greenhouse gases and The climatic impacts of land-surface change and carbon management, and the implications for climate change mitigation policy).

The reason for this influence is described in a presentation I gave entitled “Land-Use/Land-Cover Change as a Major Climate Forcing: Evidence and Consequences for Climate Research.” In the talk, I asked the question “why should landscape effects, which cover only a fraction of the Earth’s surface, have global circulation effects?”. The answer can be summarized as follows:

  1. Land-use/land-cover change alters the surface fluxes of heat and water vapor from what they were before the change. This alteration in the fluxes affects the atmospheric boundary layer, and the energy available for thunderstorms.
  2. As shown in pioneering work by Joanne Simpson and Herbert Riehl, globally from 1500-5000 thunderstorms (which are referred to as “hot towers”) are the conduit to transport heat, moisture and wind energy to higher latitudes. Since thunderstorms occur only in a relatively small percentage of the Earth’s surface, a change in their spatial patterns would be expected to have global consequences.
  3. Most thunderstorms (by a ratio of about 10 to 1) occur over land
  4. The regional alteration in tropospheric diabatic heating has a large influence on the climate system (see my July 28th blog)
  5. Global climate effects occur with ENSO events since they are of large magnitude, have long persistence, and are spatially coherent. Regional land-use/land-cover changes have the same and larger spatial scales (see Australian Land Clearing, A Global Perspective: Latest Facts & Figures for changes in landscape in the 1990s). Regional land-use/land-cover changes have a large magnitude, long persistence, and are spatially coherent.

We should, therefore expect global climate effects from land-use/land-cover change. The next IPCC needs to focus more on this first-order climate forcing than they have in the past. The question of searching for a “discernable effect on the climate system” misses the obvious in that we have been altering regional and global climate by land-use/land-cover change for decades. The goal of “preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, article 2, 1999), by focusing on CO2, has overlooked the first order climate forcing of land-use/land-cover change in altering the surface heat and water vapor fluxes.

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Are Mountain Glaciers in Western North America Retreating and, If So, Is the Retreat Accelerating?

The advance and retreat of glaciers over time has been associated with large scale climate change since it is a longer term integrator of temperature, cloudiness, precipitation as well as being influenced by their own internal dynamics, including liquid water flow within the ice. My class in the Spring of 2005 (see the “Glaciers and Ice Sheet” section) summarized a list of papers which discuss this issue.

There is one web site that is particularly interesting, as it highlights three benchmark glaciers in western North America. There are qualitive reports of rapid glacial retreat (free subscription required), but the information on this web site for the Gulkana, Wolverine and South Cascade Glaciers is quantitative. The annual net and seasonal mass balance figures for the three glaciers are quite informative as we see that most of the annual loss is due to summer melt rather than a decrease in winter accumulation.

Our conclusion is that there is a net annual melting of the three benchmark glaicers, but the melt is not accelerating. Similar presentations of data for other locations around the world would be very useful, and web links to their information are welcome to be posted on the Climate Science Website.

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Further Information on Whether Arctic Sea Ice is Melting?

In response to a question from Steve Bloom regarding Arctic sea ice trends web site, I have reproduced the question, my response, and Bill Chapman’s clarification. This exchange on a science issue is very informative, and illustrates the need for continuted communication on climate metrics. The data has now been corrected on The Cryosphere Today web site. July 2005 now shows up as well below average. Thanks again Steve for your input on this.

Comment by Steve Bloom – August 1, 2005:

NASA just put up this page regarding the current state of Arctic sea ice:
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=16978.

Quoting from the page, “Except for a small area in the East Greenland Sea, Arctic sea ice has retreated almost everywhere in June 2005. The month set a new record low: 6 percent below the long-term mean for June sea ice extent.” This appears to directly contradict your post, and 6% seems like a very large difference indeed. Could you explain?
Thanks.

Comment by Roger Pielke Sr. – August 1, 2005:

Steve-thanks for bringing this web site to our attention. As published in the two papers we completed on arctic sea ice (see Insolation-Weighted Assessment of Northern Hemisphere Snow-Cover and Sea-Ice Variability and Actual and insolation-weighted Northern Hemisphere snow cover and sea-ice between 1973–2002), we agree
there has been a decline in its long term coverage.

However, refer to the latest areal coverage data from the University of Illinois web site. While, there was well below average sea ice coverage this past winter, the rate of melt in the spring was slower than average. This data source shows near average coverage in June. This does not conform to the statement in the NASA press release that the “month set a new record low: 6 percent below the long-term mean for June sea ice extent.” Who is correct? Is this science cherrypicking?

At the very least, the data from the UIUC web site should have been cited as conflicting with their conclusions about June. I welcome discussion on this conflict between reports on the data. I also look forward to seeing what the ice coverage will be this September (last September, it was near its 1979-2000 average coverage according to the UIUC web site).

Query to Bill Chapman – August 2, 2005:

Hi Bill

I have the question (from my weblog) regarding the interpretation of your sea ice analysis relative to the NASA press release. Would you be willing to answer as a guest on my weblog?

With Best Regards
Roger

Reply from Bill Chapman – August 2, 2005:

Roger,

I would be glad to answer on your weblog, but I couldn’t find this exact discussion at first glance.

In any event, I will answer here and you can add my input to the weblog in any way you see fit.

Your message sent up a red flag here since the data I use on my “Cryosphere Today” website should be very similar to what the NSIDC uses. The only difference is that I use a more “raw” form of the data – the so called NSIDC “real-time sea ice product” for my most recent data and the more quality-controlled NSIDC product for data that is more than a month or two old. NSIDC likely used the quality-controlled product. More importantly, there was a bug in my recent departure calculations, evidently. When I learned of these differences from you, I looked at my recent ice anomalies for my basin subregions for June, 2005. They were, for the most part, largely negative. Yet, as you point out, the hemispheric average was only slightly negative for June, 2005.

After a detailed look at the timeseries, it appears that my automated system somehow grabbed the same days data for several episodes in May. This made my departures be the current days ice area minus the 1979-2000 means for a week in the future. This time of the year, a 7-day offset like that can be a big deal.

The bug has been corrected at the Cryosphere Today and the data has been updated to include as much “quality controlled” data as possible. The resulting timeseries is now more consistent with what NSIDC has reported, i.e., that June 2005 was a light ice month. (I will take their word for it being a record).

Interestingly, July 2005 looks like it is even lighter. I agree that August/September will be very interesting to follow.

Thank you very much for pointing out the discrepancy in the data sources. I’m very sorry for the confusion. This is a new type of bug and I’ll have to keep a more vigilant eye out for similar glitches in the future. I’m surprised, and glad so many people take an interest in watching the day-to-day and month-to-month variations in the cryosphere.

Thanks again.

Bill

Further comment from Bill Chapman – August 2, 2005:

Roger,

One other note on this discussion. The 6% June departure may be a bit of overhype due to the geography of the Arctic basin. With the Bering Strait constricting the geography of the Pacific hemisphere, the potential ice area variability is decreased when the ice is retreating north through the Bering Strait. Once the ice edge is either north of the strait (deep summer), or south of the strait (deep winter), the potential for large variations in area and extent is much higher. Therefore, small actual changes in thespring season (June) likely show up as large percentage changes because of the unique geography of the western Arctic.

Bill

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Pielke and Christy Comment on Hansen et al. Science paper entitled “Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications.”

John Christy and I submitted a comment on the Hansen et al. 2005 paper entitled “Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications” (subscription required). Unfortunately, Science chose to reject it based on the response from Jim Hansen and the two reviews. While we agree on the value of using ocean heat storage changes to diagnosis the radiative imbalance of the climate system, as was published in 2003 (Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335; ), our concern regarding their Science paper remains.

The rejection of the comment raises the issue of balanced dissemination of alternate perspectives on science issues. In contrast to an original article, comments on papers should normally be published, so that the community can discuss and debate the issue. Otherwise, two reviewers and the Editor of the journal (in this case Science) decide on whether the community will have the opportunity to view another perspective. In this case, Science rejected to present our Comment.

During my tenure as Co-Chief Editor of the Monthly Weather Review and Co-Chief Editor of the Journal of Atmospheric Science, we would not reject comments on papers that are contributed by scientists working in a related research area. Whether or not you agree with the issues we raised in our comment, it should have appeared in the journal where the original paper was published.

View the rejected comment (PDF)
View Hansen’s response (PDF)
View the Science reviewers’ responses (PDF)

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