Monthly Archives: February 2009

A New Paper “Impact Of Deforestation In The Amazon Basin On Cloud Climatology” by Wang Et. Al. 2009

Thanks to Fred Singer for alerting us to the following paper.

Jingfeng Wang, Frédéric J. F. Chagnon, Earle R. Williams, Alan K. Betts, Nilton O. Renno, Luiz A. T. Machado, Gautam Bisht, Ryan Knox, and Rafael L. Bras, 2009: Impact of deforestation in the Amazon basin on cloud climatology. PNAS, published online before print February 23, 2009, doi:10.1073/pnas.0810156106

The abstract is

“Shallow clouds are prone to appear over deforested surfaces whereas deep clouds, much less frequent than shallow clouds, favor forested surfaces. Simultaneous atmospheric soundings at forest and pasture sites during the Rondonian Boundary Layer Experiment (RBLE-3) elucidate the physical mechanisms responsible for the observed correlation between clouds and land cover. We demonstrate that the atmospheric boundary layer over the forested areas is more unstable and characterized by larger values of the convective available potential energy (CAPE) due to greater humidity than that which is found over the deforested area. The shallow convection over the deforested areas is relatively more active than the deep convection over the forested areas. This greater activity results from a stronger lifting mechanism caused by mesoscale circulations driven by deforestation-induced heterogeneities in land cover.”

An extract from the conclusions reads

 “The atmosphere over the study domain behaves more like that over oceans with CAPE dominated by the humidity factor. The forested patches in the Amazon may be viewed as ‘‘green oceans’’ surrounded by ‘continents’. ’Mesoscale circulations induced by the contrast between forested and deforested surfaces with the existing length scales, have been identified as the likely dominant lifting mechanism for convection based on the existing evidence. Boundary layer turbulence appears to play a secondary role in the situation considered in this study. A lack of lifting mechanism is responsible for suppressed convective activity over extensive homogeneous forest surfaces even though CAPE was abundant during the period of study.”

This new  study provides a clear demonstration of the role of landscape both as altering the atmospheric heat and moisture above it, as well as creating atmospheric circulations as a result of fragmented landscape change.

We have published similar conclusions in our papers; e.g. see

Lawton, R.O., U.S. Nair, R.A. Pielke Sr., and R.M. Welch, 2001: Climatic impact of tropical lowland deforestation on nearby montane cloud forests. Science, 294, 584-587.

Nair, U.S., R.O. Lawton, R.M. Welch, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2003: Impact of land use on Costa Rican tropical montane cloud forests: 1. Sensitivity of cumulus cloud field characteristics to lowland deforestation. J. Geophys. Res. – Atmospheres, 108, 10.1029/2001JD001135

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2001: Influence of the spatial distribution of vegetation and soils on the prediction of cumulus convective rainfall. Rev. Geophys., 39, 151-177.

Pielke, R.A. Sr., J. Adegoke, A. Beltran-Przekurat, C.A. Hiemstra, J. Lin, U.S. Nair, D. Niyogi, and T.E. Nobis, 2007: An overview of regional land use and land cover impacts on rainfall. Tellus B, 59, 587-601.

Ray, D.K., U.S. Nair, R.O. Lawton, R.M. Welch, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2006: Impact of land use on Costa Rican tropical montane cloud forests. Sensitivity of orographic cloud formation to deforestation in the plains. J. Geophys. Res., 111, D02108, doi:10.1029/2005JD006096.

This topic, of the effect of land use change on climate, was not adequately considered in the 2007 IPCC and 2009 CCSP Reports. This failure is one of the reasons that the policymakers are assuming, erroneously, that the climate is dominated by the radiative forcing of carbon dioxide.

Comments Off on A New Paper “Impact Of Deforestation In The Amazon Basin On Cloud Climatology” by Wang Et. Al. 2009

Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks

The Human Effect On The Climate System Involves A Diverse Set Of Heterogeneous Climate Forcings – A Focus On Carbon Dioxide Is Too Narrow

There continues to be a focus on carbon dioxide as the dominate human climate forcing (e.g. see). This is too narrow an approach to how society should reduce its risk to climate, and will have little actual affect on the weather and climate.

In July 2005, Climate Science published a weblog that highlighted the importance of spatial variations in  climate forcings on the weather and climate that we experience. This perspective emphasized that the correct approach to climate policy is to recognize and respond to the actual diversity of human climate forcings. The scientific literature supports the conclusion given below:

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

These forcings include

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

This July 2005 weblog What is the Importance to Climate of Heterogeneous Spatial Trends in Tropospheric Temperatures? is repeated today

“The 2005 National Research Council report concluded that:

“regional variations in radiative forcing may have important regional and global climate implications that are not resolved by the concept of global mean radiative forcing.”

And furthermore:

“Regional diabatic heating can cause atmospheric teleconnections that influence regional climate thousands of kilometers away from the point of forcing.”

This regional diabatic heating produces temperature increases or decreases in the layer-averaged regional troposphere. This necessarily alters the regional pressure fields and thus the wind pattern. This pressure and wind pattern then affects the pressure and wind patterns at large distances from the region of the forcing which we refer to as teleconnections.

The regional diabatic forcing can be caused by land-use/land-cover change (e.g. , Chase et al. 2000) or by aerosol emissions. Even natural surface variations such as in ocean color produce such teleconnections in a general circulation model (see Atmospheric response to solar radiation absorbed by phytoplankton )

There is debate, however, regarding whether the magnitude of the regional diabatic forcing is large enough to result in long distance teleconnections. However, observed multi-decadal trends in tropospheric-averaged temperatures are large enough to result in large-scale circulation trends (see, for example, A Comparison of Regional Trends in 1979-1997 Depth-Averaged Tropospheric Temperaturesfor the magnitude of the 1979-1997 regional trends). Thus land-use/land-cover changes and aerosol clouds that produce regional tropospheric temperature anomalies of a similar magnitude (or larger magnitude) would be expected to have significant teleconnection effects.

If this is true, than regional diabatic heating due to human activities represents a major, but under-recognized climate forcing, on long-term global weather patterns. Indeed, this heterogenous climate forcing may be more important on the weather that we experience than changes in weather patterns associated with the more homogeneous spatial radiative forcing of the well-mixed greenhouse gases (see the NASA press release, which is based on the multi-authored paper 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).

Comments Off on The Human Effect On The Climate System Involves A Diverse Set Of Heterogeneous Climate Forcings – A Focus On Carbon Dioxide Is Too Narrow

Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Uncategorized

Well-Written News Article Based On A Recent Climate Change Symposum

On February 10 2009, an informative article was published by Takashi Kitazume of The Japan Times. It is titled  “Climate Change Symposum: Rethinking a global post-Kyoto solution –
Initiatives to counter climate change have to be ecologically sustainable and economically viable.

The article reads in part

“New ways of thinking on climate change are needed if the world is to create a workable post-Kyoto Protocol framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, European scholars told a recent symposium in Tokyo.

Solutions to climate change must be ecologically sustainable and economically viable, the scholars said, stressing that the participation of all major emitters is crucial to building an effective tool against the rapidly expanding concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Four experts from Europe spoke at the Jan. 21 symposium organized by the Keizai Koho Center under the theme, “Climate change: Considering post-Kyoto frameworks with European scholars.” Akihiro Sawa, a senior executive fellow at the 21st Century Public Policy Institute, served as moderator of the discussions.

“At the same time, Korhola [Atte Korhola, a University of Helsinki professor] noted that no linear relationship has been established between the increased emissions and the rise in global temperature. “There is absolutely global warming . . . but data also show that global warming has slowed and stabilized during the last 10 years” even as greenhouse gas emissions increased at an unprecedented rate, the professor said.”

“The professor also expressed concern that the target to increase the share of biofuels to 10 percent of energy consumption in transportation ‘can lead to many, many types of ecological disasters.’

“It increases the use of water, increases the price of food, increases deforestation, increases land erosion and degradation,” he said. There may be good solutions to come in the future “but now the EU is forcing us to employ inefficient and very expensive ways to use first-generation biofuels that are causing much more harm than the benefits that are arising from their use,” he added.

Korhola said one of the problems in conventional ways of thinking on global warming is the view that climate change is a pollution problem — just like acid rain or ozone depletion — and that you can solve these environmental problems by legislation.

“That worked with acid rain. It was easy, and relatively cheap to solve the problem of sulfur emissions from factories and energy generation,” the professor said. “But climate change is a totally different problem. . . . It’s a multidimensional problem, not one-dimensional like all previous global environmental problems.”

This is the type of informative news reporting that we need more of!

Comments Off on Well-Written News Article Based On A Recent Climate Change Symposum

Filed under Climate Science Meetings

New Paper By Lee et al. 2009 on the East Asian Monsoon and the Role of Land Surface Processes

There is yet another paper on the role of landscape as an important weather and climate forcing on the regional scale (and, in this case the global circulation, since the Asian monsoon significantly affects global patterns.

The paper is Lee, E., T. N. Chase, and B. Rajagopalan (2008), Highly improved predictive skill in the forecasting of the East Asian summer monsoon, Water Resour. Res., 44, doi:10.1029/2007WR006514(subscription required for full paper).

The abstract reads

“The East Asian summer monsoon greatly influences the lives and property of about a quarter of the people in the world. However, the predictive skill of the monsoon is very low in comparison with that of the Indian summer monsoon because of the complexity of the system which involves both tropical and subtropical climates. Previous monsoon prediction models emphasized ocean factors as the primary monsoon forcing. Here we show that preseason land surface cover is at least as important as ocean indices. New statistical forecast models of the East Asian summer monsoon using land cover conditions in addition to ocean heat sources double and triple, respectively, the predictive skill of the northern and southern East Asian summer monsoon forecasting models relative to models using ocean factors alone. This work highlights the, as yet, undocumented importance of seasonal land cover in monsoon prediction and the role of the biosphere in the climate system as a whole. We also detail the physical mechanisms involved in these land surface forcings.”

Comments Off on New Paper By Lee et al. 2009 on the East Asian Monsoon and the Role of Land Surface Processes

Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Research Papers

Another Failure At A Comprehensive Assessment of Climate – The Revised CCSP Report By Karl Et Al 2009

The Second Public review draft of the Unified Synthesis Product (Global Climate Change in the United States) is posted. Comments will be accepted from 13 January through 27 February 2009. See also Federal Register notice. (posted 13 January 2009). The full CCSP report is available.

Climate Science has posted on the first draft of this report; see

Comments On CCSP Report Unified Synthesis Product Global Climate Change in the United States By Roger A. Pielke Sr.

CCSP Draft Report Comments as Submitted by Professor Ben Herman of the University of Arizona

Guest Weblog: A Comment On The Report “Unified Synthesis Product Global Climate Change in the United States” By Joseph D. Aleo

 The Co-Editors are

Thomas R. Karl,
NOAA National Climatic Data Center

Jerry M. Melillo,
Marine Biological Laboratory

Thomas C. Peterson,
NOAA National Climatic Data Center

The comments that we provided were not responded to [at least that we can find]. This CCSP report is nothing more than a rehash of the same material as presented in the first version.  If you accept the perspective of the Editors, you can use this report to promote your political agenda.

However, if you want a true balanced perspective of climate issues in the United States, it is not going to satisfy that need. 

The Report is a failure in presenting the diversity of viewpoints that appear in the peer reviewed literature. Policymakers who use this report to promote particular policy actions are either cherry picking for their own advocacy or remain oblivious that there are other scientifically well supported perspectives.

Interested readers can look at the Public Comment that I submitted for the first CCSP report, where the comments regarding how Tom Karl handled that report are certainly applicable to the current report also;

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

Also, for an overview as to what is missing in the Karl et al 2009 perspective, see

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

Comments Off on Another Failure At A Comprehensive Assessment of Climate – The Revised CCSP Report By Karl Et Al 2009

Filed under Climate Science Misconceptions, Climate Science Reporting, Uncategorized

Updated CO2 Emission Inventory Provided By Kevin Gurney Of Purdue University

Kevin Gurney of Purdue University has alerted us to a valuable source of information on the emission inventory of CO2 into the atmosphere. Climate Science has weblogged on this Vulcan project previously (see).

The e-mail from Kevin Gurney announcing the release is


Today we are releasing a new version of the Vulcan data product, version 1.1……This version has a number of improvements including an improved area source module, better mobile diurnal emissions representation,and better residential and commercial time structure.

We have also released a portion of the vulcan inventory on Google Earth. You can see information down to the county level by sector and per capita. We included the geocoded powerplant and airport emissions. A flyover has been created and it is up on YouTube at:

You can also now donate directly to the Vulcan project.

As always, all of the Vulcan information can be accessed from the vulcan website at:

In the associated press release, this project is described further (see). An excerpt reads

“The Vulcan layer on Google Earth shows carbon dioxide emissions in metric tons at the state level, county level and per capita. It also breaks down emissions by the different sectors   the emissions, including aircraft, commercial, electricity production, industrial, residential and transport.”

An important perspective on this climate forcing is also presented in the press release where it is written

“Carbon dioxide is the most important human-produced gas contributing to global climate change, Gurney said.”

Climate Science agrees with this statement as it accurately reflects that the atmospheric concentrations of this gas is the one undergoing the most change from the pre-industrial atmosphere.

What is a critically important next step, however, is to do the same kind of analysis for the other human climate forcings including inventories of the input into the atmosphere and locations of deposition of human-caused aerosols including sulphates, nitrogen compounds and soot, as well as of the alteration of the landscape by human management in terms of how the surface fluxes of heat, moisture, momentum and trace gases such as carbon dioxide are altered.

Such a comphrehensive inventory would provide policymakers with information on all of the first order human climate forcings. This inventory is needed since, as reported in testimony to Congress (see) and concluded in a National Research Council Report (see)

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




Comments Off on Updated CO2 Emission Inventory Provided By Kevin Gurney Of Purdue University

Filed under Uncategorized

New Plans To Regulate CO2 As A Pollutant

There is renewed emphasis on the need to regulate CO2 as a pollutant; e.g. see

US EPA To Reconsider Pollution Ruling On CO2

BREAKING: Obama Pledges to Regulate CO2 from Coal Plants

Climate Science has weblogged in the past on this issue:

Comments On The Plan To Declare Carbon Dioxide as a Dangerous Pollutant

A Carbon Tax For Animal Emissions – More Unintended Consequences Of Carbon Policy In The Guise Of Climate Policy

Will Climate Effects Trump Health Effects In Air Quality Regulations?

Supreme Court Rules That The EPA Can Regulate CO2 Emissions

Science Issues Related To The Lawsuit To The Supreme Court As To Whether CO2 is a Pollutant

The regulation of CO2 will open a pandora’s box with respect to government regulation. The text in the most recent weblog on this subject stated that

What the listing of carbon dioxide as a pollutant would do is to implicitly declare that any human activity that affects climate could be considered a pollutant. This would logically mean, for instance,  that the EPA could regulate land use since, as extensively documented in the peer reviewed literature (e.g. see), landscape change is a human climate forcing.

This plan to regulate CO2 as a pollutant (since it is a human climate forcing) would give them the legal rationale to permit the implementation of additional federal regulations for other human climate forcings including the zoning of how land is developed.  Everyone should realize the implications and significance of this potential expansion of federal authority.  There may be societal benefits to such broad climate regulation authority, however, this issue should be more effectively discussed and debated than it has been up to the present.

Comments Off on New Plans To Regulate CO2 As A Pollutant

Filed under Uncategorized