There are no independent climate assessments of the IPCC report “Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change” that have been funded and sanctioned by the NSF, NASA or the NRC.
On Monday December 8, 2008 I attended a meeting to discuss whether the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council should convene a meeting titled “Detection and Attribution of Solar Forcing on Climate”. The strawman outline for this meeting was
Strawman for Meeting on December 8, 2008
Detection and Attribution of the Solar Influence on Climate Change
Summary: The NRC will convene a one-day meeting that will consider the timeliness and utility of a study or workshop that would be focused on applying current understanding to help clarify an ongoing debate on the contribution of solar variability to the observed climate change, both regionally and globally.
Background: The relatively recent changes observed in the Earth’s climate have been attributed primarily to human activity: [IPCC AR4]
Increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases;
Global changes to land surface, such as deforestation; and
Increasing atmospheric concentrations of aerosols.
Despite an emerging scientific consensus that natural causes cannot explain the observed warming, either in the past few decades, or during the industrial epoch, a rancorous and sometimes political debate over solar versus anthropogenic causes of climate change continues, especially in the popular media. Indeed, absent resolution of enduring claims that solar variability has caused significant (30-70%) recent surface global temperature increases, it is difficult to envision policymakers here or abroad undertaking what are likely to be, at least in the short term, unpopular and/or economically painful measures to slow global warming.
In order to understand the solar influence on climate and the atmosphere, it is essential to also understand the contributions of volcanic aerosols, as well as anthropogenic greenhouse gases and tropospheric aerosols, and other human influences such as land use changes, all of which contribute to the observed climate. Furthermore, because there is growing evidence that responses of the climate system to these various influences likely engages and modifies existing circulation patterns, it is necessary to understand pervasive climate processes (e.g., ENSO, NAO, QBO) and centers of action, and their responses to radiative forcings.
Also in need of clarification is the current wide disparity regarding how to achieve and quantify attribution. IPCC studies have primarily utilized simulations by general circulation models, which thus require that the models be sufficiently understood and validated to engender confidence that simulated global and regional fingerprints are realistic. An array of results using various statistical analyses of observations suggests that deficiencies of the climate models may compromise their ability to simulate responses to small radiative forcings, such as by solar variability (Stott et al.; Camp and Tung).
The study under consideration would augment and advance two recent NRC reports on 1) Radiative forcing and 2) Responses, by assessing how the extended complexities of the climate system likely precludes such a separation of forcings and responses, especially in the case of solar variability. A third NRC report assessing surface and atmospheric temperature trends is also relevant since the atmospheric responses to solar forcing becomes increasingly stronger, relative to anthropogenic (and other) influences, at increasing heights above the surface, so that the attribution of anthropogenic change in the troposphere and stratosphere is unlikely to be the same as that of surface temperature. In addressing the regional and altitudinal, as well as global signatures, of climate change the study would also serve to compile current understanding that will be relevant for the next IPCC (for which regional change is expected to be a priority).
Stott, Peter A.; Jones, GarethS.; Mitchell, John F. B. (2003), “Do Models Underestimate the Solar Contribution to Recent Climate Change?” (PDF), Journal of Climate 16 (24): 4079–4093,
Camp, Charles D.; Tung, Ka-Kit (2007), “The Influence of the Solar Cycle and QBO on the Late Winter Stratospheric Polar Vortex”, J. Atmos. Sci., 64, 1267-1283.
The Agenda for the Study Planning Meeting was
The Attribution of Solar Forcing to Recently Observed Climate Change
Convened jointly by the:
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (Space Studies Board)
Division on Earth and Life Sciences (Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate)
December 8, 2008
The National Academies Keck Center – Room 204
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
8:30 am Coffee and pastries available
9:00 Background and Participant Introductions Art Charo, SSB
9:15 Meeting Objectives Chris Elfring, BASC
9:30 Solar Influences and Climate: Overview and Current State of the Science
Judith Lean, NRL
10:15 IPCC AR4 and Thoughts on Directions for Future Research
Caspar Ammann, NCAR
10:45 Perspectives from the Modeling Community and Update on Research Results
Regarding GCRs and Solar Variability Drew Shindell, NASA GISS
11:30 Recent Work on Solar Forcing and Response K.K. Tung, Univ. of Washington
12:00 pm Working Lunch
Suggestions for Future Research (12:25-12:45) Roger Pielke Sr., Univ. of Colorado
12:45 Comments on the Methodologies Employed by Scafetta and West
Gavin Schmidt, NASA GISS
1:15 Roundtable Discussion with Agency Officials
2:00 Discussions All Participants
Is there a need for an NRC study?
If so, what are the key elements of such a study?
Comments on the “strawman” task statement
Meeting Adjourns No Later Than 4:00 PM
The group that were invited to attend this December 8th meeting (with their IPCC involvement] were
Caspar Ammann (NCAR) [IPCC Contributor]
Don Anderson NASA HQ
Jay Fein NSF
Isaac Held (NOAA GFDL) [Lead Author IPCC Chapter 11]
Tom Karl (NCDC) [IPCC Contributor]
Chick Keller (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Judith Lean (Naval Research Laboratory) [Lead Author IPCC Chapter 2]
Roger A. Pielke Sr. (University of Colorado)
Drew Shindell (NASA GISS) [IPCC Reviewer]
Gavin Schmidt (NASA GISS) [IPCC Contributor]
Terry Nathan (UC Davis)
Ka-Kit Tung (University of Washington)
There were also a few others present including Chris Elfring (for just the early part of the meeting, Walter Robinson of the NSF, and from the NRC Martha McConnell and Art Charo (who chaired the meeting).
I welcomed the convening of this meeting and the excellent strawman proposal as it was recognition of the need to build onto
National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.
Most of the several powerpoint talks that were given at the planning meeting, however, are not being made available by the presenters [a very unusual arrangement; as contrasted with other meetings such as the 2006 SORCE meeting – see]. The talks were each very informative, so it is unfortunate that they have chosen not to share.
The titles were
Solar Influences and Climate: Overview and Current State of the Science by Judith Lean (which was an excellent balanced presentation)
IPCC AR4 and Thoughts on Directions for Future Research by Caspar Ammann
Perspectives from the Modeling Community and Update on Research Results Regarding GCRs and Solar Variability by Drew Shindell
Recent Work on Solar Forcing and Response by Kat-Kit Tung [with unpublished materials removed]
The Need To Assess Spatial Variations In Climate Forcings – Suggestions For Future Research by Roger A. Pielke Sr.
Comments on the Methodologies Employed by Scafetta and West by Gavin Schmidt
My main recommendations for an NRC Panel were to
1. Report on the regional modulation of solar forcing by such effects as land cover/land use change and aerosols.
2. Appoint scientists who do not have a significant vested interest in the outcome of the report
Judith Lean summarized her conclusions of the talks as follows
1. The evidence for a solar influence on climate is becoming more robust [although she and the others disagreed with the Scafetta and West Physics Today study]
2. Models do not do a good job at representing the solar influence
3. The solar cycle should be used to improve model performance
4. There is a need for an NRC study on this issue.
Except for Judith Lean, Art Charo and myself, however, there was no support for the Strawman proposal. The proposal for a formal NRC Panel was rejected by the others, unless it was very narrowly focused, such as on “decadal forecasts”. The agency representatives (from NASA and the NSF) were similarly not willing to support such a study.
The reason, undoubtedly preordained before we even met on that Monday, is that a significant number of the members of the Committee were (and presumably still are) active participants of the IPCC assessment, as documented above.
Thus, the intensity of the dismissive and negative comments by a number of the committee members, and from even several of the agency representatives, with respect to any view that differed from the IPCC orthodoxy, made abundantly clear, that there was no interest in vesting an assessment of climate to anyone but the IPCC.
The IPCC is actually a relatively small group of individuals who are using the IPCC process to control what policymakers and the public learn about climate on multi-decadal time scales. This NRC planning process further demonstrates the intent of the IPCC members to manipulate the science, so that their viewpoints are the only ones that reach the policymakers.
If the NSF, NASA and the NRC are going to appoint and accept recommendations by groups with a clear conflict of interest to protect their turf [in this case the IPCC], they will be complicit in denying all of us a balanced presentation of the physical science basis of climate change, including the role that humans have.
The obvious bias in the 2007 IPCC WG1 report is illustrated in the weblogs
As it stands now, there are no independent climate assessments of the IPCC WG1 report funded and sanctioned by the NSF, NASA or the NRC.
The agency representatives at the NRC planning meeting on December 8 2008, either are inadvertantly neglecting the need for independent oversight, or they are deliberately ignoring this lack of an independent assessment because the IPCC findings fit their agenda on the climate issue. In either case, the policymakers and the public are being misled on the degree of understanding of the climate system, including the human role within in it.