Monthly Archives: April 2007

Another New Paper That Documents That Landscape Change In The Amazon Is A First-Order Climate Forcing

Yet another excellent paper has appeared which documents the very significant role of landscape change on the climate system (Thanks to Timo Hämeranta for alerting us to it!). The paper is

D’Almeida, Cassiano, Charles J. Vörösmarty, George C. Hurtt, José A. Marengo, S. Lawrence Dingman, and Barry D. Keim, 2007. The effects of deforestation on the hydrological cycle in Amazonia: a review on scale and resolution. International Journal of Climatology Vol. 27, No 5, pp. 633-647, April 2007

with the abstract

“This paper reviews the effects of deforestation on the hydrological cycle in Amazonia according to recent modeling and observational studies performed within different spatial scales and resolutions. The predictions that follow from future scenarios of a complete deforestation in the region point to a restrained water cycle, while the simulated effects of small, disturbed areas show a contrasting tendency. Differences between coarsely spatially averaged observations and finely sampled data sets have also been encountered. These contrasts are only partially explained by the different spatial resolutions among models and observations, since they seem to be further associated with the weakening of precipitation recycling under scenarios of extensive deforestation and with the potential intensification of convection over areas of land-surface heterogeneity. Therefore, intrinsic and interrelated scale and heterogeneity dependencies on the impact of deforestation in Amazonia on the hydrological cycle are revealed and the acknowledgement of the relevance of these dependencies sets a few challenges for the future.”

An important message from this observational and modeling paper includes the text,

“…a drastic deforestation scenario would result in a severe restructuring of land–atmosphere dynamics (Figure 2(d)), partially explaining why most AGCMs have predicted weakened water fluxes as a result of extensive deforestation. Small and localized areas of clearing, however, are insufficiently large to induce such an impact (Figure 2(b)), even though the accumulation of the local changes caused by such small clearings is exactly what affects the precipitation recycling in the basin as deforestation expands.”

“The second main factor linked to such scale dependency is the impact of land-surface spatial heterogeneities on the atmospheric circulation above mesoscale deforested areas. At this scale, strong gradients on the surface sensible heat flux may contribute to an increase in rainfall through the establishment of anomalous convective circulations (Figure 2(c)). In fact, the degree of
heterogeneity is expected to be as important as the size of the disturbance to the formation of the anomalous circulations just mentioned (Pielke, 2001).”

“Directly from the acceptance of such dependencies, it follows that the downscaling of predictions from basinwide scenarios of deforestation, or the upscaling of observations from disturbed catchment areas, may provide erroneous conclusions (Wood et al., 1988; Entekhabi et al., 1999).”


“Moreover, many modeling studies tend to employ pure macroscale, or mesoscale approaches (Figure 4(a)), leaving gaps within the range of applicable spatial resolutions and simulation times. These gaps may be linked to the inability of conventional AGCMs to correctly reproduce relevant subgrid processes like the enhanced convection potentially induced over heterogeneously deforested areas in Amazonia. Such anomalous circulations are presently being generated on the mesoscale, but, since they may evolve to higher scales (Baidya Roy et al., 2003), they must in fact be adequately represented by AGCMs through their parameterization schemes (Bonell, 1998). However, despite the intense research on this topic (Avissar, 1992; Henderson-Sellers and Pitman, 1992; Koster and Suarez, 1992; Dickinson, 1996; Liu et al., 1999, among others), a consistent representation of these processes has not been widely adopted by the macroscale modeling community yet. The parameterizations employed by the current generation of AGCMs tend to rely only on the quantification of turbulence effects, neglecting the influence of the heat fluxes associated with anomalous mesoscale circulations (Baidya Roy and Avissar, 2002).”

Clearly, the role of deforestation on climate is quite complex, and is still poorly understood. That this land management, however, is a first order forcing on the climate system including the regional and global hydrologic system should be accepted by policymakers.

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Wood Burning As A CO2 Emission Reduction Concept! Is This A Serious Proposal?

When I read the news article from Reuters entitled

“UK plans to cut emissions by felling more trees”

[thanks to Benny Peiser for alerting us to it],

I thought at first the proposal was a joke.

The article states,

“Britain hopes to slash carbon emissions by burning more home-grown wood under a new government plan announced on Wednesday.”


“The carbon released into the atmosphere by burning wood is partially absorbed by growing more trees, which means lowering emissions from the energy sector compared to coal, gas or oil.

Rather than importing other biofuels, which can come from environmentally-questionable sources, Britain should use its own woodland areas in an environmentally sustainable way, the plan’s backers say.”

Having served for two terms on the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, where we imposed strict emission requirements on wood burning stoves, the noxious emissions from even relatively efficient burning of wood still affects human health and also visibility [the fine particles (less then 2.5 microns}, in particular, are a serious health issue].

Without even considering the effect on biodiversity, this is a poor idea. Indeed, it provides a clear example of the myopic view that policymakers have by focusing almost exclusively on CO2 as the environmental issue of concern. In the air quality community, combustion that results in CO2 is considered a good idea, as the pollutants that effect health (such as CO) are less when the direct combustion products are primarily CO2 and H2O with only small amounts of toxic emssions.

An encouragement to burn more wood (which is much less energy efficient than fossil fuels), is a really poor idea.

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The Correction To The Lyman Et Al 2006 Paper Is Available

The correction to the Lyman et al paper “Recent cooling of the upper ocean” is available. It is

“Correction to ‘Recent Cooling of the Upper Ocean'” by Josh K. Willis, John M. Lyman, Gregory C. Johnson and John Gilson

While this correction eliminates the cooling that they reported in the 2006 paper, the warming of the 1990s and very early 2000s has not continued. This absence of global ocean warming (which is consistent with the absence of a significant global average sea surface temperature anomaly trend for the last few years) is a challenge to the modelers and to the conclusions of the IPCC with respect to the ability to skillfully predict global warming. Indeed, it appears that with respect to the challenge on Climate Science of A Litmus Test For Global Warming – A Much Overdue Requirement, the models have failed so far.

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New Paper On The Assessment of Tropospheric Temperature Trends By The University of Alabama Research Group

A new article has appeared

Christy J. R., W. B. Norris, R. W. Spencer, J. J. Hnilo (2007), Tropospheric temperature change since 1979 from tropical radiosonde and satellite measurements, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D06102, doi:10.1029/2005JD006881

which updates the assessment of tropical tropospheric temperature trends. The abstract of the paper is

“Temperature change of the lower troposphere (LT) in the tropics (20°S–20°N) during the period 1979–2004 is examined using 58 radiosonde (sonde) stations and the microwave-based satellite data sets of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH v5.2) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS v2.1). At the 29 stations that make both day and night observations, the average nighttime trend (+0.12 K decade−1) is 0.05 K decade−1 more positive than that for the daytime (+0.07 K decade−1) in the unadjusted observations, an unlikely physical possibility indicating adjustments are needed. At the 58 sites the UAH data indicate a trend of +0.08 K decade−1, the RSS data, +0.15. When the largest discontinuities in the sondes are detected and removed through comparison with UAH data, the trend of day and night releases combined becomes +0.09, and using RSS data, +0.12. Relative to several data sets, the RSS data show a warming shift, broadly occurring in 1992, of between +0.07 K and +0.13 K. Because the shift occurs at the time NOAA-12 readings began to be merged into the satellite data stream and large NOAA-11 adjustments were applied, the discrepancy appears to be due to bias adjustment procedures. Several comparisons are consistent with a 26-year trend and error estimate for the UAH LT product for the full tropics of +0.05 ± 0.07, which is very likely less than the tropical surface trend of +0.13 K decade−1.”

Excerpts from the paper read

“We have and will continue to examine various families of radiosondes to document inhomogeneities which create problems for time series analysis. To date, using a number of tools, we have discovered both positive and negative biases in many types of radiosondes [Christy and Norris, 2004, 2006]. As noted here, many shifts appear to be spuriously negative, but there are also many, including some of the largest in magnitude, which appear to be spuriously positive. Thus in total these would seem to have a relatively small impact on lower-tropospheric trends of large-scale averages. Given the results of the current versions of the data sets and experiments presented here, we see that all (except RSS and one RSS-adjusted sonde experiment) indicate trends for the tropical lower troposphere that are less than that of the surface (+0.125 K decade−1). This yields trend ratios of troposphere versus surface of less than 1.0, which is smaller than the ratio of 1.3 generated from climate model simulations for this time period.”


” A key difference between the UAH and RSS data sets occurred around January 1992 when a significant positive shift occurred in the RSS data relative to UAH. This date coincides with the inclusion of data from the newly launched NOAA-12 satellite and the latter part of NOAA-11’s time series when large corrections needed to be applied. Further comparisons with sonde and other data sets between the periods before and after January 1992 show consistency with the UAH data but a relative positive shift in the RSS data of 0.07–0.13 K. The upward shift in the RSS data relative to UAH and the other data sets cannot be explained by potential discontinuities in those data sets at this time. We speculate that the upward shift in RSS data likely relates to warming due to corrections applied to NOAA-11. Overall, the results presented here indicate consistency with the estimated UAH LT trend of +0.052 ± 0.07 K decade−1 for the entire tropics. With a corresponding surface trend of +0.125 K decade−1, the ratios of the present versions of UAH, sonde and reanalyzes tropospheric warming trends versus the surface trend are less than 1.0 while for RSS the ratio is 1.2.”

This study documents the value of the University of Alabama microwave satellite analysis in assessing long term trends in tropospheric temperatures. Current information on their analysis of long term trends and anomalies can be found at

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A New Paper – “Climate change In Amazonia Caused By Soybean Cropland Expansion


Pielke Sr., R.A., 2005: Land use and climate change. Science, 310, 1625-1626.

I wrote

“Change and variability in land use by humans and the resulting alterations in surface features are major but poorly recognized drivers of long-term global climate patterns …Along with the diverse influences of aerosols on climate these spatially heterogeneous land use effects may be at least as important in altering the weather as changes in climate patterns associated with greenhouse gases…”

A new paper which I was alerted to by John Fleck (thanks!), provides a particularly effective demonstration of this conclusion. The paper is

Costa, M. H., S. N. M. Yanagi, P. J. O. P. Souza, A. Ribeiro, and E. J. P. Rocha (2007), Climate change in Amazonia caused by soybean cropland expansion, as compared to caused by pastureland expansion, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L07706, doi:10.1029/2007GL029271.

and the abstract reads,

In the last two decades, the strong increase of pasturelands over former rainforest areas has raised concerns about the climate change that such change in land cover might cause. In recent years, though, expansion of soybean croplands has been increasingly important in the agricultural growth in Amazonia. In this paper we use the climate model CCM3 to investigate whether the climate change due to soybean expansion in Amazonia would be any different from the one due to pastureland expansion. The land component of the model has been updated with new findings from the Large-Scale Biosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), and a new soybean micrometeorological experiment in Amazonia. Results show that the decrease in precipitation after a soybean extension is significantly higher when compared to the change after a pastureland extension, a consequence of the very high albedo of the soybean.”

Excerpts from the paper read,

“In August 2005, the Brazilian Amazon deforestation was approximately 560,000 km2, equivalent to 15% of the total original rainforest cover, and is increasing at the average rate of 19,350 km2 a year ( Although historically most of the changes in land cover are conversions from rainforest to pasturelands, in recent years the expansion of soybean croplands has been increasingly important in the agricultural growth in Amazonia.”


“The decrease in precipitation associated with an expansion of soybean is considerably different from the decrease in precipitation associated with a pastureland expansion: for the same amount of deforestation, the precipitation decrease is much higher over soybean than over pastures, when compared to the rainforest control runs…”

Clearly, this is a role in the human forcing of the climate system that the 2007 IPCC Statement for Policymakers failed to address. The only issue with the paper is that they did not explore the teleconnection effect of the regional change in climate on locations at long distances from Amazonia. As shown in

Werth, D., and R. Avissar, 2002. The local and global effects of Amazon deforestation, J. Geophys. Res., 107, 8087, doi:10.1029/2001JD000717

the effect at large distances can be quite significant. They wrote in their abstract

“…..Amazon deforestation is producing a detectable signal throughout the Earth, and this finding underscores the importance of human activity in that region. ”

As shown in the new Costa et al article, the type of replacement landscape of the forest matters as a first-order climate forcing which has been neglected by the IPCC.

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Correction To Paper on Recent Ocean Cooling To Be Available Soon

The correction to the paper

Lyman, J. M., J. K. Willis, and G. C. Johnson (2006), Recent cooling of the upper ocean,
Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L18604, doi:10.1029/2006GL027033

will be available soon. The cooling will be shown to have been removed; however, the warming of the 1990s and up to 2002 will be shown not to have persisted. This will still be a challenge for the global climate modelers to explain, since the IPCC perspective of global warming requires a more-or-less monotonic increase in Joules within the climate system, in the absence of a major volcanic eruption (i.e. see A Litmus Test For Global Warming – A Much Overdue Requirement).

The possibility of the availability of the Argo data in near real time and displayed in the same format as the sea surface temperature anomalies (see) will be a very major contribution to climate science. This will include the comparison of the global climate models with this critically important metric to monitor global average warming and cooling, and its spatial variations. An important question is whether the lack of continued global warming in recent years will be temporary, or is this further evidence that the climate system is more complex than concluded in such assessments as provided by the IPCC.

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Will Climate Effects Trump Health Effects In Air Quality Regulations?

With the legal decision in the United States to define CO2 as a pollutant (see), the important question on how to include this climate forcing in the assessment of emssion controls with respect to the traditional primarily health related pollutants need to be considered. For example, should the climate forcing of CO2, which is claimed will result in major changes in the environment, be a more important consideration than the health effects of pollutants such as produced by fuels that are intended to reduce the emission of CO2.

Biofuels have received considerable attention as at least a partial replacement for fossil fuels. However, there are already issues raised by its use [e.g. see (and thanks to Laure M Montandon for alerting me to this article). A major concern are the possible carcinogens and other toxic gases and particles that would be part of the emissions from vehicles or other combustion sources that use this fuel.

There is a summary available entitled “Biodiesel Emissions Compared to Other Fuels
Fuel Types”
which provides some insight into this issue. The values in the table presented in this summary are the difference with respect to diesel, whose emissions are a well known health hazard as identified by the American Lung Association, where they write,

“Diesel exhaust is a mixture containing over 450 different components, including vapors and fine particles. Over 40 chemicals in diesel exhaust are considered toxic air contaminants by the State of California. Exposure to this mixture may result in cancer, exacerbation of asthma, and other health problems.

For the same load and engine conditions, diesel engines spew out 100 times more sooty particles than gasoline engines. As a result, diesel engines account for an estimated 26 percent of the total hazardous particulate pollution (PM10) from fuel combustion sources in our air, and 66 percent of the particulate pollution from on-road sources. Diesel engines also produce nearly 20 percent of the total nitrogen oxides (NOx) in outdoor air and 26 percent of the total NOx from on-road sources. Nitrogen oxides are a major contributor to ozone production and smog….

Diesel exhaust has been linked in numerous scientific studies to cancer, the exacerbation of asthma and other respiratory diseases. A draft report released by the US EPA in February 1998 indicated that exposure to even low levels of diesel exhaust is likely to pose a risk of lung cancer and respiratory impairment. And in August 1998, the State of California decided that there was enough evidence to list the particulate matter in diesel exhaust as a toxic air contaminant – a probable carcinogen requiring action to reduce public exposure and risk.”

While biofuels including biodiesel may improve on traditional diesel, health concerns regarding its use will exist. In any regulation on CO2, if it results in increased emssions of gases and aerosols with health issues, then the climate concerns of human inputs of CO2 will have trumped the health effects of the replacement fuels.

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New Climate and Environmental Change Weblog Launched

A new weblog has been launched called Icecap.

Its mission, as they state on their website is

“ICECAP, International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, is the portal to all things climate for elected officials and staffers, journalists, scientists, educators and the public. It provides access to a new and growing global society of respected scientists and journalists that are not deniers that our climate is dynamic (the only constant in nature is change) and that man plays a role in climate change through urbanization, land use changes and the introduction of greenhouse gases and aerosols, but who also believe that natural cycles such as those in the sun and oceans are also important contributors to the global changes in our climate and weather. We worry the sole focus on greenhouse gases and the unwise reliance on imperfect climate models while ignoring real data may leave civilization unprepared for a sudden climate shift that history tells us will occur again, very possibly soon.

Through ICECAP you will have rapid access to our experts here in the United States and to experts and partner organizations worldwide, many of whom maintain popular web sites or insightful blogs or newsletters, write and present papers, have authored books and offer interviews to the media on climate issues. We spotlight new findings in papers and reports and rapidly respond to fallacies or exaggerations in papers, stories or programs and any misinformation efforts by the media, politicians and advocacy groups.

Included is a section called All About Climate where users are able to interactively access all the latest thinking on climate topics along with lists of references, stories, links and experts (with contact information).

ICECAP is not funded by large corporations that might benefit from the status quo but by private investors who believe in the need for free exchange of ideas on this and other important issues of the day. Our working group is comprised of members from all ends of the political spectrum. This is not about politics but about science.

We are an open society that welcomes your membership and appreciates your endorsement and support.”

Climate Science wishes them success in joining with other climate weblogs such as Prometheus, RealClimate , Climate Audit and others in providing interested scientists and the public the diversity of views on climate variability and change!

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20% Discount Available for Human Impacts on Weather and Climate – New Discount Flyer

There is a discount available to our blog readers interested in purchasing Dr. Pielke’s new book entitled Human Impacts on Weather and Climate written with William Cotton. The previous flyer that we posted provided ordering details through England, but this flyer is for the United States.

The flyer allows a 20% discount off of the list price. See attached

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TIME Magazine on Global Warming: A Guest Weblog by Hendrik Tennekes

TIME magazine’s April 9 double issue, showing a worried and lonely penguin on the cover, running “The Global Warming Survival Guideâ€? as a banner line, is representative of the public perception of climate change.

As a young faculty member at Penn State forty years ago, I quickly learned what my colleagues thought of the TIME/LIFE empire: “LIFE is the magazine for people who cannot read, TIME is the magazine for people who cannot think.â€? I am tempted to agree today. But I will resist, because TIME merely follows the anticipated wishes of its subscribers, much as both parties in Congress are slaves to their perception of the wishes of taxpayers. If I want to say anything, I will have to focus on TIME’s interpretation of the perception of its subscribers in the USA.

What does this perception amount to? That is straightforward:

1: Climate Change equals Global Warming
2: Carbon dioxide emissions are to blame
3: Adaptation equals strengthening coastal defenses
4: Global Warming comes without global responsibility

Let me deal with item 2 first. In a light-footed but moralistic mood, TIME gives “51 Things You Can Do to Make a Difference.â€? Sure, like lowering your thermostat setting in the winter (wear sweaters instead), and turning your air conditioning no lower than 80 degrees in summertime. Yes, these are sensible adjustments to a looming energy shortage. By all means, ride a bike to the office, as many Boulder citizens do. I lived there for half a year in 1987, and rode a bike to my NCAR office on Marine Street as often as weather permitted. I considered that a sensible way of getting the necessary exercise and reducing gasoline expenses at the same time. But one doesn’t need Climate Change as an excuse for energy conservation. Most of the 51 points TIME magazine lists make sense as personal contributions to energy policy concerns. Climate change is an irrelevant underpinning of TIME’s list of things to do. Incidentally, many of TIME’s subscribers in Europe and other continents might feel somewhat offended by the energy conservation measures listed in the magazine. Such measures have been common practice to them for many years.

When I turn to item 4, the issue there, in my opinion, is that we have to look at the Third World first when we wish to apply Roger Pielke Jr.’s vulnerability paradigm. TIME magazine seems to cater primarily to the feelings of wealthy urbanites, who tend to be rather narcissistic. Possible flooding of Holland (of which more below) pales compared to repeated flooding of Bangladesh. I find it repulsive that Dutch dredging companies are happy to construct fancy islands for the wealthy residents of Dubai, but don’t even bother to consider alternatives for flooding defenses in Bangladesh. And the magazine weasels around on the dangers for New Orleans. “The earth’s weather system is too complex to pin blame for Katrina definitively on global warming,â€? it writes, “but unusually strong hurricanes are exactly what scientists expect to see as global warming intensifies.â€? Well, this is what TIME subscribers apparently like to hear. Sorry for you, Roger Jr. How often do we have to repeat that twenty years of warnings by the US Corps of Engineers were summarily ignored by local, state, and national politicians?

Item 3 hits home for this Dutchman. TIME embraces adaptation (no mean feat, after all these years), but does not spend a single line on adaptation measures other than strengthening coastal defenses in lowland areas. It is quite specific on the Netherlands:

“The greatest flood danger to the Netherlands comes from the North Sea, which is more powerful and unpredictable than the Dutch rivers. Dutch law has historically required North Sea defenses to deliver a 1-in-10,000 years level of protection. “And now the Parliament wants to raise the North Sea standard to a 1-in-100,000 years level of protection,â€? says Pier Vellinga, a senior government adviser and professor at Wageningen University and Research Center. Vellinga calculates that to maintain the higher level of protection, the Netherlands would have to commit about $ 1.3 billion annually, 0.2% of its GDP. The alternative is the prospect of losing its coastal cities altogether. “We want foreign visitors and investment to keep coming to the Netherlands,â€? Vellinga says, “so we must assure them this will remain a safe place.â€?

It is not hard to provide a context for Dr. Vellinga’s statements. He is Holland’s most prominent climate alarmist and spin doctor, who recently was hired by the Board of Regents of Wageningen University. Vellinga is an effective fund raiser, that’s why. The $1.3 billion he mentions is four times as high as the current estimate by the Ministry of Public Works, based on IPCC projections of about a foot of sea-level rise. I need not go into detail here, because the Director of Holland’s Environmental Assessment Agency, Klaas van Egmond, deemed it necessary to go on state television news last Thursday, April 5. He stated that North Sea protection is well taken care of as long as sea-level rise is less than five feet. Instead, van Egmond stated, river flooding requires priority. The IJssel branch of the Rhine may have to be re-engineered in order to divert flood waters of the Rhine to the former Zuyder Zee, the inland lake in the center of the Netherlands, van Egmond said. I want to add that, apart from everything else, Vellinga has got his priorities mixed up. And I am proud of Dr. van Egmond. It his is job to make assessments and to speak up when needed. He did so forcefully last week. More power to him.

As to item 1, it needs no comment here. ClimateScience was started to fight this disingenuous simplification of climate change. We have a long way to go, fighting all these odds. I wish us well.

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