Monthly Archives: July 2006

Climate Science Weblog Recognized

The Climate Science weblog has been recognized by Nature magazine as among the top 50 science weblogs. It is still far behind Real Climate, but we are pleased that it is providing an additional, much needed, perspective on the issue of climate variability and change.

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Multi-decadal Climate Forecasts to Be Disseminated

A news release has reported that

“Japan is planning ultra long-range 30-year weather forecasts that will predict typhoons, storms, blizzards, droughts and other inclement weather, an official said Tuesday.

The project, to start next year, will harness the powers of one of the world’s fastest supercomputers and is an offshoot of ongoing research by the country’s science ministry to map global warming trends for the next 300 years.

Using the Earth Simulator supercomputer, housed in a hangar-sized building in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, Japan’s science ministry hopes to calculate long-term patterns in the interaction of atmospheric pressure, air temperatures, ocean currents and sea temperatures, said Tomonori Otake, an official with the ministry’s earth environment bureau……..

The machine tracks global sea temperatures, rainfall and crustal movement to predict natural disasters over the next centuries. As part of the project, Japan eyes forecasts for the entire planet for areas as small as 1.9 square miles.

But don’t plan on locking in sunny weather for that planned family picnic in July 2036. These forecasts are only general trends.

‘Just like the daily forecast, we can’t give a percentage for how accurate they are,’ Otake said.”

This is an amazing press release. As discussed frequently on the Climate Science weblog, accurate multi-decadal predictions of the weather features listed in the press release have not been demonstrated. This lack of skill is even admitted in the quote that “we can’t give a percentage for how accurate they are”. Then what is their purpose?

Clearly, as also discussed as recently as in the weblog of July 17, 2006, there is considerable overstatement in the area of climate forecasting.

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2ND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON GLOBAL WARMING AND THE NEXT ICE AGE

The 2ND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON GLOBAL WARMING AND THE NEXT ICE AGE
AND AEROSOL WORKSHOP ON CLIMATE PREDICTION UNCERTAINTIES is being held this week. The talks and posters, which are listed below, promise a very important and informative meeting.

Institutional Hosts: Terry Wallace and Doug Beason
Technical Hosts: Petr Chylek, and Manvendra Dubey
Sponsored by LANL CSSE(ISR) and IGPP(EES) , Univ. of Washington, Seattle and the Amercian Meteorlogical Society

Monday July 16, 2006

Welcome: LANL Senior Management 8.30-9.20

J. Douglas Beason, Associate Director, Threat Reduction
Allan Bishop, Associate Director, Theory, Sim. & Comp.
Mary Neu, Associate Director, Chem. Life & Earth Sciences
Introduction: P. Chylek, Conference Chair 9.20-9.30

Climate Change

Chair: John Christy

C. Folland, et al., Decadal to Inter-Decadal Climate Variability 9.30 – 9.55
V. Ramaswamy, Global Climate Change in the 20th Century 9.55 -10.20
G. North, Sensitivity of Climate to Changes in CO2 10.55-11.20
C. Essex Virtual Butterfly Effect 11.20-11.45
S. Schwartz, Response Time of Global Mean Surface T 11.45-12.05

Remote Sensing: In Memory of Yoram Kaufman (Part 1)

Chair: Gerald North

Daphne Kaufman, Memory of Yoram 1:30-1.35
L. Remer, Using MODIS Aerosol Products 1.35-2.00
Y. Kaufman, V. Martins, L. Remer, Aerosol Effect 2.00-2.25
B. Cairns, Polarimetric Remote Sensing, NASA Glory 2.25-2.50
W. Feldman*, Remote Sensing of Mars 2.50-3.15
D. Tanre, Polarization and Anisotropy of Reflectance 3.15-3.40
C. Popp et al., AOD Retrieval over Central Europe 3.40-4.05

Remote Sensing: In Memory of Yoram Kaufman (Part 2)

Chair: Chris Folland

Koren, Pushing the Envelope of Aerosol Research 4.15-4.40
P. Alpert, et al., Global Dimming or Local Dimming? 4.40-5.05
T. Takemura, et al., Aerosol Effect on Climate System 5.05-5.25
B. Henderson, et el., Overview of MTI 5.25-5.45
R. Kahn, Using Passive Remote Sensing Aerosol Data 5.45-6.05

TUESDAY, JULY 18, 2006

Solar Variability and Cosmic Rays

Chair: Didier Tanre

P. Brekke, New Knowledge about the Sun 8.00-8.20
R. Willson, Solar Radiation 8.20-8.40
D. Rosenfeld, Cosmic Rays 8.40-9.00
E. Palle, Solar Acticity and Cosmic Rays 9.00-9.20
N. Scaffeta, Solar Variability and Global Warming 9.20-9.40

Climate Change: Observations

Chair: Ross McKitrick

J. Veizer, Climate, Water and Carbon Cycle 9.50-10.15
J. Christy, Surface and Tropospheric Temperature Changes 10.15-10.40
R. Pielke, Sr., Multi-decadal Surface Temperature Trends 10.40-11.05
P. Chylek et al., Greenland Climate Change 11.05-11.25
Q. Fu, Global Warming Seen from Satellites 11.25-11.45

Lunch

The Next Ice Age

Chair: V. Ramaswamy

G. Kukla, Interglacials Marked by Global Cooling 1.15-1.40
A. Berger, M.-F. Loutre, A Postponed Next Ice Age? 1.40-2.05
L. Franzen, Peatland/Ice Age Hypothesis 2.05-2.30
J. Sachs, Cooling of the NW Atlantic and Gulf Stream 2.30-2.50

Hurricanes and Global Warming

Chair: R. Pielke Sr.

W. Gray, Tropical Cyclone Activity and Global SST 3.00-3.25
J. Reisner, Why Di Hurricane Models Fail 3.25-3.45
X.-M. Shao et al., Hurricane Lightning 3.45-4.05
S. Fernandez, Predicting Hurricane Impacts 4.05-4.25
J. Marusek et al., Forecasting Extreme Weather Events 4.25-4.45

Poster/Oral Presentations I

Chair: C. Zender

T. Kubar, Tropical high clouds 5.00-5.03
C. Johanson, Antarctic radiosonde temperature records 5.03-5.06
B. Hammerschmidt et al., Columnar Water Vapor 5.06-5.09
C.Lai, Biochemistry of clathrate hydrates 5.09-5.12
D. McDonnell et al., Riparian Canopy Evapotranspiration 5.12-5.15
M. Reiter, Ground surface temperature changes in the Albq. Basin 5.15-5.18
E. Palle, Earth albedo changes 5.18-5.21
A. Dessler, Testing Climate models Using AIRS data 5.21-5.24
E. Richard, Earth magnetism 5.24-5.27
J. Marusek, Cosmic rays and hurricanes 5.27-5.30
B. Abubakar, New challenges leading to global warming 5.30-5.33
B. Abubakar, New challenges threatening the ozone layer 5.33-5.36
P. Kithil, Oceanic Forced Upwelling 5.36-5.39
Ginnebaugh: Air pollution impacts of ethanol 5.39-5.42

Dinner Speaker
G. Geernaert, Climate Change & Regional Security

WEDNESDAY, JULY 19, 2006

Aerosols and Climate

Chair: D. Rosenfeld

C. Tomasi et al., Aerosols in Polar Region 8.00-8.25
S. Kinne, Aerosol Direct radiative Forcing 8.25-8.50
M. Jacobson, Fossil-Fuel Soot and Global Warming 8.50-9.15
P. Buseck, et al., Soot Aggregates 9.15-9.40
C. Zender, Polar Climate and Absorbing Aerosols 9.40-10.05
A. Heymsfield et al., Droplet Freezing in Maritime Clouds 10.05-10.30

Climate Change and Climate Sensitivity

Chair: C. Essex

R. McNider, Climate Feedback in Stable Nocturnal BL 10.40-11.00
A. Hall, Snow Albedo Feedback 11.00-11.20
P. Spichtinger, et al., Impact of Cirrus Clouds 11.20-11.40
S. Gray et al., Multi-decadal and Multi-century Modes 11.40-12.00
J. Heikoop et al., Paleoclimate Record from the Valles Caldera 12.00-12.20

Climate and Energy

Chair: R. McNider

R. McKitrick, Temperature Trends and Economic Activity 1.45-2.10
H. Ziock, CO2 Emission: The Issue of Scale 2.10-2.30
G. Guthrie, Sequestering CO2 underground 2.30-2.50
M. Dubey et al., Global Hydrogen Economy 2.50-3.10

Oceans, Ice, and Rivers

Chair: A Hall

S. Elliot, Biochemistry in LA Ocean Models 3.20-3.40
W. Merryfield, Abrupt transitions in Arctic summer sea ice extent 3.40-4.00
H. Volz, Sea surface emissivity 4.00-4.20
E. Kennel, Fertilizer runoff an ocean warming 4.20-4.40
K. Eggert, Amazon Basin run-off simulations in global context 4.40-5.00

Poster/Oral Presentation

Chair Hans Moosmuller 5.15-5.45

Leahy: SSA of biomass burning aerosols
Chakrabarty: Refractive indices of biomass aerosols
Q. Fu*: Parameterizations of Small ice cirrus
Lewis: Scattering and absorption by wood smoke
Zhang: Regional impacts of rising Asian emissions
Henderson: Nauru island aerosols by remote sensing
Kok: Mineral dust aerosol enhancements by electric forces
Mahowald: Global trends in visibility: Dust
Robinson: MODIS radiances: noise and calibration
Patadia: Sattalite estimates of direct radiative forcing
Diehl: Global emissions inventory and trends of aerosols
Loeffler: Aerosol single scatter albedo in Mexico City

THURSDAY, JULY 20, 2006

Opening Remarks: M. Dubey, Workshop Chair 8.00-8.05

Aerosol and Cloud Interactions and Feedbacks

Chair: Steve Schwartz

W. Cotton: Simulation of aerosol-cloud interactions 8.05-8.30
S. Menon: Representing aerosol-cloud int. in global models 8.30-8.55
W. Conant: Unraveling aerosol-cloud interactions 8.55-9.20
D. Rosenfeld: A new paradigm: air pollution+covection 9.20-9.45

Chair: Qiang Fu

A. Nenes: Aerosol cloud int.: What do observations tell us 10.00-10.25
J. Reisner: Cloud resolving analysis of DYACOMS-data 10.25-10.50
Magi: Direct forcing by biomass burning in S. Africa 10.50-11.15
G. McFarquhar: Cloud feedbacks 11.15-11.40
:X Li: Aerosol Indirect Effect in deep precipitations 11.40-12.00

Aerosol-Clouds from Space

Chair: N. Mahowald

Harshvardhan: Aerosol Cloud Interactions from Space 1.15-1.40
S. Christopher: Satellite derived Aerosol direct forcing 1.40-2.05
S. Massie: Aerosol Indirect Effect over India 2.05-2.30
Tad Anderson: Spaceborne LIDAR 2.30-2.55

Dust and Natural Aerosols

Chair: Harshvardhan

N. Mahowald: Climate response to dust 3.05-3.30
I. Sokolik: Dust modeling 3.30-3.55
R. Miller: Constraints on Dust Cycle 3.55-4.15
G. Jennings: Marine aerosols 4.20-4.45
Obenholzner: Chemical & physical data on volcanic aerosols 4.45-5.05

Aerosol and Cloud Microphysics and Radiation

Chair: C. E. Kolb

S. Martin:Aerosol transformations and climate change 8.00-8.25
P. Arnott: Humidity effects on aerosol absorption 8.25-8.50
H. Moosmuller: SSA measurements of smoke 8.50-9.15
B. Henson*: Soot-water uptake model for CCN 9.15 -9.40

Chair: S. Martin

S. Lee: Sulfuric acid nucleation in lower troposphere 10.00-10.25
A. Caboussat: Thermodynamics of organic aerosols 10.25-10.50
H. Moosmuller: ShWave aerosol measurements for climate 10.50-11.15
A. Davis: 3-D radiation effects in clouds 11.15-11.40

Aerosols and Pollution in Megacities

Chair: M. Jacobson

C. E. Kolb: Megacity Respiration 1-1.25
R. G. Pinnick: Urban aerosols in Adelphi, Maryland 1.25-1.50
L. Paredes-Miranda: Absorption & Scattering in Mexico 1.50-2.05
S. Olsen: Radiative forcing by Mexico City emissions 2.05-2.30
T. Rahn: Hydrogen cycle in Mexico City 2.30-2.55

Closing Remarks: Lessons Learned and Path Forward
Steve Schwartz and M. Dubey 2.55-3.15

ADJOURN

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The Publication of Forecasts in Peer-Reviewed Papers

There is a Perspective article in Science on June 23rd by Bradley et al. entitled “Threats to Water Supplies in the Tropical Andes” Subscription required) which illustrates a serious problem in climate science. The article highlights with a figure, simulations of

“Global warming in the American Cordillera. Projected changes in mean annual free-air temperatures between (1990 to 1999) and (2090 to 2099) along a transect from Alaska (68°N) to southern Chile (50°S), following the axis of the American Cordillera mountain chain. Results are the mean of eight different general circulation models used in the 4th assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (15), using CO2 levels from scenario A2 in (16). Black triangles denote the highest mountains at each latitude; areas blocked in white have no data (surface or below in the models).”

The model, however, has not been validated. In the article, they admit that

“Unfortunately, few instrumental observations are available above ~4000 m. The magnitude of recent temperature change in the highest mountains is therefore poorly documented.”

Thus, we have modeling results which are not quantitatively compared with observations used to make a 90 year prediction.

To publish such forecasts in Science magazine, or elsewhere is not science. Regardless of your views on how society should mitigate and/or adapt to the human influences on the climate system, the publication of such articles, other than as opinion editorials, promotes an inaccurate and inappropriate view of our understanding of climate.

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News Release on The Dissertation Award of Christopher Davey

The Desert Research Institute has prepared a news release on Dr. Davey’s American Association of State Climatologists Dissertation Award on July 7 2006. The title of the news release is

“DRI’s Davey receives inaugural climatology award for new approach to evaluating global climate change, heat trends”

The text of the release reads,

“Reno, Nev. — Christopher Davey of the Desert Research Institute’s Western Regional Climate Center was awarded the inaugural Ph.D. Dissertation Medal in Applied Climatology from the American Association of State Climatologists, or AASC, for his paper entitled “Differences between near-surface equivalent temperature and temperature trends for the Eastern United States.” Traditional approaches to measuring heat content at the Earth’s surface have only involved looking at air temperature. However, Davey factored in humidity as well as air temperature, the combination of which is called equivalent temperature.

“While much attention is being given to global warming and global climate change, it is important to know that heating of the Earth’s surface can’t be judged simply by air temperatures,” Davey said. “Humidity holds heat that is not directly measured by air temperature, which can affect how we measure the heat content at the surface of the Earth.”

Davey and his co-authors Roger Pielke, Sr. and Kevin Gallo, compared temperature trends with equivalent temperature trends around the eastern United States from 1982 to 1997, including Oklahoma, Florida, North Dakota and Washington DC. In addition, they compared these trends with a variety of land cover that occurs in the eastern United States, like deciduous and evergreen forests, grasslands and pastures.

The results indicate that several factors influence heating and cooling trends on the Earth’s surface, including land use or the amount and type of vegetation in an area, and seasonal changes. For instance, equivalent temperature trends are relatively warmer than traditional temperature trends in the winter and are relatively cooler in the fall.

Davey’s paper will appear in the August edition of the journal “Global and Planetary Change.”

Davey received the $500 award and travel expenses paid to the AASC’s annual conference in June where the medal was presented to him. The association includes representatives from state climate offices across the nation along with partners in the National Weather Service, National Climate Data Center, Regional Climate Centers and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. The AASC uniquely serves the nation by representing state and local level stakeholders in climate services. ”

The paper in “Global and Planetary Change” is

Davey, C.A., R.A. Pielke Sr., and K.P. Gallo, 2006: Differences between near-surface equivalent temperature and temperature trends for the eastern United States – Equivalent temperature as an alternative measure of heat content. Global and Planetary Change, in press.

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Open Arctic Ocean Commentary by Harvey Nichols, Professor of Biology (NOTE: Dr. Nichols is on vacation until 8/24/06 – Comments will be answered upon his return)

While welcoming the June 1, 2006, publication in “Nature” of three papers (refs. 1,2,3) revealing the sedimentary evidence of an early Tertiary ice free Arctic Ocean I wondered why science writers fail to mention the data which indicate that summer ice free oceanic conditions also existed in the far north within the last ~ 10,000 years of the Holocene period? This would add perspective for those who seem to worry that such a near-future event, driven by 20th & 21st century gas emissions, would be unprecedented in geologically recent times, and these data might modulate the current concern about polar bear extirpation, since Ursus maritimus survived such ice loss just a few millennia ago.

I write as a long-term student of paleo-environmental change in the arctic, and needless to say I have no connection whatsoever with funding or influence by the hydrocarbon industry. I am sympathetic to the plight of the southernmost population of polar bears in Hudson Bay, but note that they have demonstrated a remarkable ability in the late Quaternary period to evolve from the brown bear species to the fully maritime modern ‘ice bear’ and to survive many climatic changes.

I recall that in 1966 the Rand Corporation published the “Proceedings of the Symposium on the Arctic Heat Budget and Atmospheric Circulation” (ed. J.O. Fletcher) in which the Russian climatologist Dr. M. I. Budyko wrote the introductory paper “Polar Ice and Climate” (pp. 5 – 21, cf. page 12). Dr. Budyko calculated that a mean summer increase of Arctic Ocean air temperature of 4 degrees Celsius for a period of a few years to a few decades would cause loss of the summertime ice cover (the ‘ice pack’).

In 1967 (refs. 4 & 5) I published initial palynological studies of the history of the Canadian Boreal forest – tundra ecotone which suggested that the arctic tree-line had moved northwards 350 to 400 km beyond its modern position (extending soils evidence collected by Irving and Larsen, in Bryson et al. 1965, ref. 6) during the mid-Holocene warm period, the Hypsithermal. The climatic control of the modern arctic tree-line indicated that prolonged summer temperature anomalies of ~ + 3 to 4 C were necessary for this gigantic northward shift of the tree-line, thus fulfilling Budyko’s temperature requirement for the melting of Arctic Ocean summer ice pack. A more extensive peat stratigraphic and palynological study (Nichols, 1975, ref. 7) confirmed and extended the study throughout much of the Canadian Northwest Territories of Keewatin and Mackenzie, with a paleo-temperature graph based on fossil pollen and peat and timber macrofossil analyses. This solidified the concept of a +3.5 to 4 degree (+/- 0.5) C summer warming, compared to modern values, for the Hypsithermal episode 3500 BP back at least to 7000 before present, again suggesting that by Budyko’s (1966) calculations there should have been widespread summer loss of Arctic Ocean pack ice. By this time J.C. Ritchie and F. K. Hare (1971, ref.8) had also reported timber macrofossils from the far northwest of Canada’s tundra from even earlier in the Hypsithermal.

The first proof of the pudding came with Bent Fredskild’s 1969 (ref. 9) publication of pollen diagrams from the polar desert of Pearyland in northeast Greenland, taken from near the 200 km long Independence Fiord, frozen (in the 1960’s) all year round. Dr. Fredskild notes (ref. 9, page 580) that the first hint of ice free Arctic Ocean came from sub-fossil timbers incorporated in isostatically uplifted beach sediments and paleo-eskimo fire pits or hearths at 4500 BP. The timbers presumably came down the great Siberian rivers (Ob, Yenisei, Lena, etc. and the Mackenzie River in northwest Canada) and floated throughout the summer ice free Arctic Ocean, to be buried in shoreline deposits which later became raised beaches. Dr. Fredskild reported that charred driftwood from these sources were found in every Independence-1 hearth, primarily from 4000 to 3600 BP. The youngest dating on charred driftwood was 2700 BP, and he remarked that the polar basin and fiords became permanently frozen ca. 2500 years ago, with no further driftwood in the fiord beaches after that time. Bearing in mind the current concern about ecosystem effects from an ice free ocean, the palynological data recorded a more vegetated environment with sedges, grasses and arctic (dwarf) willows, allowing grazing by musk-ox, and occupation by quasi-Inuit peoples who hunted those and other animals, facilitated by a milder and moister summer climate. From slides which Dr. Fredskild gave me, it seems that the present day polar desert, with a plant cover of perhaps only 5 – 10%, might have resembled the present day mostly vegetated ‘high arctic’ ecosystems in southern Greenland and northern mainland Canada, during the ice- free episode.

There are several additional reports within the last decade which I think confirm the above hypothesis of Holocene summers episodically free of Arctic Ocean pack-ice, and their summaries are available from the Net:

Arthur Dyke, James Hooper and James Savelle (1996) published “A history of sea ice in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago based on postglacial remains of the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus)” in Arctic, vol. 49 (3), pp.235- 255. A very large number of radiocarbon dates on whale bones showed that both early and mid Holocene times experienced pack-ice free conditions, with an episode from 5000 to 3000 years BP demonstrating whale populations beyond recent historical limits, and a reportedly more complex history of ice formation and melting than revealed in other proxy data.

J.Knies, Nowaczyk, N., Muller, C., Vogt, C., and R. Stein, (2000), “A multiproxy approach to reconstruct the environmental changes along the Eurasian continental margin over the last 150000 years” in Marine Geology, vol. 163, # 1, pp. 317-344. “Sustained periods of open water were largely restricted to substages 5.5, 5.1, and the Holocene as indicated by distinct carbonate dissolution and higher accumulation of marine organic matter.”

J-C Duplessy, E. Ivanova, I. Murdmaa, M. Paterne, and L. Labeyrie, ( 2001): “Holocene paleoceanography of the northern Barents Sea and variations of the northward heat transport by the Atlantic Ocean” in “Boreas” vol. 30, # 1, pp. 2 – 16. Marine sediment cores representing the entire Holocene yielded foraminifera which showed that a temperature optimum (the early Hypsithermal) developed between 7800 and 6800 BP, registering prolonged seasonal (summer) ice free conditions, and progressing to 3700 BP with temperatures similar to those of today, after which a relatively abrupt cooling occurred. The authors note that foram assemblage changes were linked to alterations in the flow of Atlantic waters and the oceanic conveyor belt.

References not fully cited in the text:

1: Kathryn Moran et al. (2006) “The Cenozoic paleoenvironment of the Arctic Ocean”, Nature, vol. 441, pp. 601 – 605.

2: Henk Brinkhuis et al. (2006) “Episodic fresh surface waters in the Eocene Arctic Ocean” Nature 441 pp.606 – 609.

3: Appy Sluijs et al. (2006) “Subtropical Arctic Ocean temperatures during the Palaeocene/Eocene thermal maximum”, Nature 441, pp. 610 -613.

4: Harvey Nichols (1967a) “The post-glacial history of vegetation and climate at Ennadai Lake, Keewatin, and Lynn Lake, Manitoba (Canada)”, Eiszeitalter und Gegenwart, vol. 18, pp. 176 – 197.

5: H. Nichols (1967b) “Pollen diagrams from sub-arctic central Canada”, Science 155, 1665 – 1668.

6: Reid A. Bryson, Irving W. N. and J.A. Larsen, (1965), “Radiocarbon and soils evidence of former forest in the southern Canadian tundra”, Science, 147, 46 – 48.

7: H. Nichols (1975): “Palynological and paleoclimatic study of the late Quaternary displacement of the Boreal Forest – tundra ecotone in Keewatin and Mackenzie, N.W.T., Canada. INSTAAR University of Colorado Occasional Paper # 15, pp. 87.

8: J.C Ritchie and F. K. Hare (1971) “Late-Quaternary vegetation and climate near the arctic tree-line of northwestern North America”, Quaternary Research, vol. 1, #3, pp. 331 – 342.

9: Bent Fredskild (1969) “A postglacial standard pollendiagram fromPearyland, North Greenland”, Pollen et Spores, vol.XI, # 3, pp. 573 -584.

Harvey Nichols, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology

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December 2006 AGU Session on Global Heat Content and the Earth’s Energy Budget: Tools for Understanding Climate Change

The December 11-15 2006 American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco has a session entitled ” Global Heat Content and the Earth’s Energy Budget: Tools for understanding climate change” .

The Conveners are: Josh Willis of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, John Lyman of the NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The abstract of the meeting reads,

“By altering the composition of the atmosphere, human beings have driven the Earth out of radiative balance. In response, the Earth is absorbing excess heat. The World’s oceans have by far the largest heat capacity of any component of the Earth’s climate system and as it warms, the majority of this heat is absorbed by the oceans. Global ocean heat content may therefore provide a proxy for measuring the Earth’s energy balance. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the large thermal inertia of the oceans will result in a lag between the radiative forcing that causes climate change and the response of Earth’s surface temperature. As such, any climate change caused by changes in the Earth’s radiative balance must depend critically on the uptake, storage and transport of heat by the oceans.

Many recent advances have occurred in the observation of ocean heat content, the simulation of ocean heat uptake in climate models, deep ocean temperature measurements, and the direct observation of the Earth’s radiative balance from space. Nevertheless, there remains a great deal of debate regarding the fidelity of the observational record of ocean heat content, the ability of climate models to simulate it, and the implications for modeling and prediction of future climate change. This session aims to provide an interdisciplinary forum for discussion of these and related issues. We seek contributions that clarify the relationship between ocean heat content and the Earth’s radiative balance. We encourage submission of observational and modeling results regarding global and regional changes in ocean heat content, heat transport, and the Earth’s radiation balance. Theoretical and modeling studies that assess the importance of ocean heat uptake and transport to the modeling and projection of climate change are also encouraged.”

In the context of climate system heat changes (which is “global warming when the global average is positive), this is a very important meeting. As discussed in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society paper “Heat storage within the Earth system”, the global ocean heat storage changes can provide a very good estimate of the radiative imbalance of the climate system. As concluded in that paper,

•The earth’s heat budget observations, within the limits of their representativeness and accuracy, provide an observational constraint on the radiative forcing imposed in retrospective climate modeling.

• A snapshot at any time documents the accumulated heat content and its change since the last assessment. Unlike temperature, at some specific level of the ocean, land, or the atmosphere, in which there is a time lag in its response to radiative forcing, there are no time lags associated with heat changes.

• Since the surface temperature is a two-dimensional global field, while heat content involves volume integrals, the utilization of surface temperature as a monitor of the earth system climate change is not particularly useful in evaluating the heat storage changes to the earth system. The heat storage changes, rather than surface temperatures, should be used to determine the radiative imbalance of the climate system.

During the period from mid-1993 through mid-2003, as reported in Willis et al in 2004 there was global warming as measured by ocean heat content change. As reported in that paper, and summarized on the Climate Science weblog (e.g. see), a large part of the trend in global, oceanic heat content during that time period was caused by regional warming at midlatitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.

One comment on the anouncement for the AGU meeting is that the statement

“”By altering the composition of the atmosphere, human beings have driven the Earth out of radiative balance”,

should more appropriately be

“”Through the diversity of human climate forcings, human beings have altered the radiative forcing of the climate system”.

This need to generalize beyond just atmospheric composition changes has been discussed frequently on the Climate Science weblog (e.g. see and see).

The question now is whether the ocean warming has continued since mid-2003. The multi-decadal global climate models forecast the continued accumulation of heat (barring a major volcanic eruption). If the heating has not continued it will raise serious issues on understanding of the climate system as represented by those models. This weblog will post the information on the recent climate system heat changes as soon as available for distribution.

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Real Climate Post of June 28 2006 on Geo-engineering

The weblog Real Climate had a very revealing statement recently on their weblog with the title “Geo-engineering in vogue…”.

Referring to an upcoming paper by Paul Crutzen, the weblog includes the text,

“Would it work? In most of the cases under discussion the target is the global mean temperature, and so something that balances the global radiative forcing of greenhouse gas increases is likely to ‘work’. However, having no global mean forcing is not the same as having no climate change. A world with higher GHGs and more stratospheric aerosols is not the same as a world with neither.”

This statement still shows the insistence that “the target is the global mean temperature”. There is a start, however, in recognizing that the issue is more complicated, as I agree that a

” world with higher GHGs and more stratospheric aerosols is not the same as a world with neither.”

However, this is also true for the diversity of human climate forcings such as land use/land cover change, and aerosol emissions, as documented in the 2005 National Research Council report. A world with the diversity of recognized human climate systems is not the same as the world without them. The radiative forcing due to the human input of CO2 is just one of a variety of first order climate forcings.

It is time to move beyond the focus on a global averaged surface temperature as the icon of climate change. This slight movement by Real Climate to broaden the discussion of climate is encouraging, but remains very tentative. The authors of Real Climate, of course, are welcome to comment on the Climate Science weblog on whether or not there is a need to move beyond the global average surface temperature trend as the target to communicate the impact of human climate forcings to policymakers.

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TV Special “Global Warming” to Air July 16, 2006

I was invited to review the upcoming two-hour July television special presentation on the Discovery Channel entitled “GLOBAL WARMING” which is hosted by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw and produced by the Discovery Channel, the BBC and NBC News Productions.

The special premieres Sunday, July 16, 9-11 PM. As I was informed

“…the special presents the facts and leaves it up to the viewers to determine their own truth about global warming.”

The Science Committee chosen to advise on the special and to provide interviews include Dr. James Hansen Chief, NASA Institute for Space Studies; Dr. Greg Holland Director, Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division National Center for Atmospheric Research, Dr. Mark Serreze Senior Research Scientist National Snow and Ice Data Center, Dr. Stephen Pacala Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Princeton University and Dr. Michael Oppenheimer Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs Princeton University.

The news release for the show states,

“The international team of experts, including NASA’s top climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, and Princeton University professors Michael Oppenheimer and Stephen Pacala, will discuss the current realities of global warming and predict the future of the planet. Many of the experts will address natural warming and cooling cycles going back 600,000 years, and discuss if the present warming trend is unnatural.”

These scientists have published influential peer reviewed papers on the subject of climate. However, their perspective on climate change is very well known, and they are frequently quoted in the media . Moreover, as anyone who has read this weblog realizes, they present a narrow view of the issue of natural and human climate variability and change. The presentation in this special is very similar to the HBO “Too Hot to Handle”.

It is a disappointment that this show, hosted by Tom Brokaw, did not use the two hours to present a balanced view on the spectrum of perspectives on the human influences on the climate system. The show relied on just a few scientists with a particular personal viewpoint on this subject which misleads the public on the broader view that is actually held by most climate scientists. The show should have presented perspectives such as reported in the 2005 National Research Council Report “Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties” . This Report not only included a diversity of authors, but was peer reviewed.

The show also contains errors and misconceptions. Three examples are presented here. Rapid glacial retreat is not a new observation, nor are all glaciers retreating (see). The Grand Pacific glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, for example, retreated 48 miles from 1794 to 1879, and a further 17 miles by 1916. Large masses of glacial ice breaking from the Antarctic continent are not a new feature of this region (e.g. see, where the crack on an ice mass that subsequently ruptured in 2002 was seen “about as long as people have been going to Antarctica”). Greg Holland’s suggestion that we may need a “category 6” Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale is not supported by any research that I am aware, or even what such a new category would mean.

My class “Human Impacts on Weather and Climate“, which I taught at Colorado State University in the spring of 2005 and will teach at the University of Colorado in Boulder in the spring of 2007, has the students examine claims made in the media and published papers to determine if they are scientifically sound. Media presentations, such as this Discovery Channel special, are an ideal candidate for the students to evaluate.

The special ends with recommendations to reduce the emissions of CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 and fossil fuels are explicitly mentioned as the “villains”. However, the reduction of emissions, in conjunction with improved energy efficiency, reduces a wide variety of gaseous and aerosol emissions into the atmosphere, as well as saving money! Why not start with these benefits, which include, but are not limited to CO2? If the global climate starts to cool, does this mean that we should not adopt energy efficiency?

A scientifically balanced presentation would discuss the broad variety of human forcings (as has been discussed often on this weblog) which collectively are altering our climate. The show would also mention that of the reported global warming that has occurred, only at most about 28% can be attributed to CO2 (see).

Finally, I summarize the eight bullet summary points that are headlined on this weblog. The special could have focused on these issues, each of which has peer reviewed papers that provide scientific support.

Summary Conclusions on Climate Change and Variability:

1. Focus on the regional and local scales.

2. Global and zonally-averaged surface temperature trend assessments do not provide significant information on climate change and variability on the regional and local scales.

3. Global warming is not equivalent to climate change.

4. The spatial pattern of ocean heat content change is the appropriate metric to assess global warming.

5. Most climate assessments have overstated the role of the radiative effect of the anthropogenic increase of CO2 relative to the role of the diversity of other human climate forcing on global warming, and more generally, on climate variability and change.

6. Global and regional climate models have not demonstrated skill at predicting climate change and variability on multi-decadal time scales.

7. Attempts to significantly influence regional and local-scale climate based on controlling CO2 emissions alone is an inadequate policy for this purpose.

8. The identification of the spectrum of threats to regional and local societal and environmental resources of importance should be the framework to interact with policymakers.

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Filed under Climate Science Reporting

What is a “Normal” Temperature?

An excellent paper appeared in the June 2006 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Christopher Holder, Ryan Boyles, Peter Robinson, Sethu Raman and Greg Fishel entitled “Calculating A Daily Normal Temperature Range That Reflects Daily Temperature Variability“.

The abstract reads,

“Normal temperatures, which are calculated by the National Climatic Data Center for locations across the country, are quality-controlled, smoothed 30-yr-average temperatures. They are used in many facets of media, industry, and meteorology, and a given day’s normal maximum and minimum temperatures are often used synonymously with what the observed temperature extremes “should be.â€? However, allowing some leeway to account for natural daily and seasonal variations can more accurately reflect the ranges of temperature that we can expect on a particular day—a “normal range.â€? Providing such a range, especially to the public, presents a more accurate perspective on what the temperature “usuallyâ€? is on any particular day of the year. One way of doing this is presented in this study for several locations across North Carolina. The results yield expected higher variances in the cooler months and seem to well represent the varied weather that locations in North Carolina tend to experience. Day-to-day variations in the normal range are larger than expected, but are retained rather than smoothed. The method is simple and applicable to any location with a complete 30-yr record and with a temperature variance time series that follows a bell curve. The normal-range product has many potential applications.”

In 1987, we (Pielke, R.A. and N. Waage) published a paper in the National Weather Digest entitled “A definition of normal weather” which complements the Holder et al study. The abstract reads,

“This paper clarifies the distinction between abnormal, and above and below average weather, using standard statistical analyses. Abnormal maximum and minimum temperatures are defined as requiring at least two standard deviations from the mean; otherwise even though they could be above or below average, the weather is still “normal”. July and January maximum and minimum temperatures for Denver, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Bismarck are presented as examples of this analysis.”

These two papers demonstrate that reports of unprecedented maximum and minimum temperatures in the media and published papers need to quantitatively document that the temperatures are actually outside the range of what is “normal” for that location.

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Filed under Climate Change Metrics, Climate Science Misconceptions