Monthly Archives: March 2009

Narrow Thinking In A New PNAS Paper “”Irreversible Climate Change Due To Carbon Dioxide Emissions” By Solomon Et Al 2009

There is a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy. It is

Susan Solomon, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Reto Knutti, and Pierre Friedlingstein, 2009: “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions“. cgi.doi10.1073pnas.0812721106.

This paper has a number of issues with its scientific robustness, however, this weblog will focus on just one. It is the continued inappropriately too narrow view of how humans are altering the climate system.

The abstract includes the text 

“The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop.

Suppose another paper wrote

“The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to LAND USE CHANGE FROM HUMAN LAND MANAGEMENT is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after MANAGEMENT stops.”

[Note: Land use change is clearly a major issue in coming decades; e.g. see Feddema et al. 2005: The importance of land-cover change in simulating future climates, 310, 1674-1678; with its impacts on the landscape extending far into the future].


“The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to NITROGEN DEPOSITION is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after EMISSIONS OF NITROGEN COMPOUNDS INTO THE ATMOSPHERE , AND SUBSEQUENT DEPOSITION INTO THE OCEANS, AS WELL AS RUNOFF OF NITROGEN COMPOUNDS INTO THE OCEANS stop.”

[Note: Nitrogen deposition is clearly a major issue in coming decades; e.g. see Lamarque J.-F., et al. (2005), Assessing future nitrogen deposition and carbon cycle feedback using a multimodel approach: Analysis of nitrogen deposition, J. Geophys. Res., 110, D19303, doi: 10.1029/2005JD005825; with its impacts continuing far into the future.

The Solomon et al paper continues to erroneously perpetuate the narrow perspective that climate change is dominated by the human input of carbon dioxide and other well-mixed greenhouse gases.

The Solomon et al paper perpetuates the view that

The human influence is dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.

This hypothesis, however, has been clearly rejected as reported, for example, in my House testimony

“A Broader View of the Role of Humans in the Climate System is Required In the Assessment of Costs and Benefits Effective Climate Policy”

The hypothesis that has not been rejected is

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,

which is supported by the 2005 NRC Report

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.

Even if Solomon et al were correct on the long time period of effect of the radiative effect of CO2, they fail in their paper by not discussing all of the long term human disturbances of the climate system. What Solomon et al are doing is selecting just one human disturbance to highlight.  They fail, however to recognize and communicate to policymakers and the public that the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is just one symptom of a wide diversity of human influences on the climate system. By myopically focusing on just one symptom, they are misleading everyone in terms of what policy actions will have real effects on how humans are altering climate.

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Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Climate Science Misconceptions

An Interview with Roger Pielke, Jr. By The Energy Tribune

On May 16 2007, the Energy Tribune did an interview with me (see). Today, they published an interview with my son. It is titled An Interview with Roger Pielke, Jr., Center for Science and Technology Policy Research by Robert Bryce of the Energy Tribune. It is a well presented summary of his viewpoints and is worth reading!


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Filed under Climate Science Reporting

Publication Of The Comment/Reply On Our 2007 JGR Paper Which Raises Serious Questions On The Robustness of The Assessment Of Global Warming Using The Global Average Surface Temperature Trend

The Comment on our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

has appeared

Parker, D. E., P. Jones, T. C. Peterson, and J. Kennedy, 2009: Comment on Unresolved issues with the assessment of multidecadal global land surface temperature trends. by Roger A. Pielke Sr. et al.,J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05104, doi:10.1029/2008JD010450.

along with our Reply,

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2009: Reply to comment by David E. Parker, Phil Jones, Thomas C. Peterson, and John Kennedy on “Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05105,

These exchange has already been commented on in Climate Science (see), which included the very positive reviews of our Reply.

I just want to emphasize three major issues with this exchange:

1. The authors of the Comment [D. Parker, P. Jones, T. Peterson and J. Kennedy] should be recognized for their willingness to engage in constructive scientific debate. We need more such exchanges of viewpoints.

2. The Referees’ comments supported the conclusions that we reached in our Reply. Moreover, Parker et al were silent on the other issues that we raised in our 2007 JGR paper. They wrote

“We note Pielke et al.‘s [2007] many concerns with the historical global mean land surface air temperature record, which range from the inclusion of nocturnal temperature observations to the importance of factoring in humidity. We will, however, limit our comments to two of Pielke et al.‘s [2007] eight aspects where our additional analyses have shed considerable light.”

This reinforces our conclusion that there are very significant issues with the use of the surface temperature trends as a quantitative metric to diagnose global warming or cooling which they did not even attempt to refute in their Reply.

3. Both the Comment and the Reply support the following recommendation that is made in the Comment

“We nevertheless agree with Pielke et al. [2007] in aspirations for an improved global network monitoring all Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Essential Climate Variables including humidity as well as temperature; for universal adherence to the GCOS Climate Monitoring Principles ( = monitoringprinciples) which include the availability of full metadata such as photographic documentation; and as well for the rescue and digitization of all historical data.”

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Filed under Climate Change Metrics, Research Papers

A Excellent Seminar At The University of Colorado at Boulder “What Goes Around Comes Around” By Gregory R. Carmichael

On Friday, March 6 2009, Professor Gregory R. Carmichael of the Department of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering at The University of Iowa presented one the most insightful talks I have ever attended. The title of this talk was “What Goes Around Comes Around”.

There were several very important findings that were presented, which include

1.We know that regional control strategies are needed to meet local air quality targets”. [from slide 4]

This perspective recognizes that it is regional weather and climate that needs to be focused on in order to improve air quality.

2. with respect to air pollution Large and small sources combine resulting in a global reach of pollution…..The majority of impacts are domestic, BUT Intercontinental transport of PM2.5 is associated with 100,000 premature mortalities world-wide of adults 30 years and older. Intercontinental transport of PM2.5 into USA results in ~1200 excess deaths! (tightening the U.S. 8-hour O3 standard from 84ppbv to 75ppbv, is annually projected to prevent 1,300 to 3,500 premature deaths in the United States at a cost of $7.6-8.8 billion USD each year [EPA, NAAQS RIA, 2008]) [from slide 11]”.

The global reach of pollution that Professor Carmicheal finds is in agreement with one of the findings in the 2005 NRC report that

“Regional variations in radiative forcing may have important regional and global climatic implications that are not resolved by the concept of global mean radiative forcing. Tropospheric aerosols and landscape changes have particularly heterogeneous forcings.”

3. As air quality standards become more stringent the importance of distant sources increases. [The] contribution of Asia pollution to  [the] USA is growing — we estimate that it is nullifying 15% of our emission reduction efforts !!”

This conclusion also supports the 2005 NRC conclusion that is presented under #2.

4. Full application of advanced emission control technologies can reduce health impacts in China by 43% in 2030; optimized saves 80% of costs”.

Professor Carmichael showed that this benefit also results in an 8% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions even with a focus on air quality benefits 

This conclusion shows that by focusing on improving air quality can also result in a reduction of greenhouse gases. However, as shown in #5, delaying the reduction of certain types of aerosols (e.g. sulphates) in order to retain a global average radiative cooling will result in early deaths than otherwise would not occur.

5. “350,000 excess deaths per year in India and China due to outdoor exposure risk for each 20mg/m3 (of fine aerosols of less than 2,5 microns). In addition to a WHO estimate of 381,000 and 407,000 (deaths) for China and India, respectively, from indoor air pollution caused by solid fuel use.”

This conclusion documents the immediate benefit of reducing fine particles in the atmosphere regardless of the impact on the emissions of greenhouse gases.

The only part of his talk which I disagreed with was his conclusion to decrease black carbon emissions faster than sulfates [from slide 19]. As Professor Carmichael reports in #4, excess deaths can be reduced if fewer fine particles are emitted into the atmosphere that is breathed. It does not matter if these are sulphates or black carbon (or other aerosols).  A delay in reducing sulphates simply to retain their globally cooling effect would condemn many people to an early death.


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Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Climate Change Regulations, Vulnerability Paradigm

A NASA Press Release “Drought, Urbanization Were Ingredients for Atlanta’s Perfect Storm”

There is a very interesting news release on March 11 2009 by NASA that documents yet another major influence of land surface processes on weather and climate.

It is

Drought, Urbanization Were Ingredients for Atlanta’s Perfect Storm

The news release reads

“At 9:38 p.m. on March 14, 2008, a severe thunderstorm that formed just north of Atlanta caused damages across a 6-mile swath of the city as it strengthened into a tornado, barely missing the downtown Georgia Dome arena where thousands were watching a college basketball game that had gone into overtime. 

 On March 14, 2008, a tornado swept through downtown Atlanta, its 130 mile-per-hour winds ripping holes in the roof of the Georgia Dome, blowing out office windows and trashing parts of Centennial Olympic Park. It was an event so rare in an urban landscape that researchers immediately began to examine NASA satellite data and historical archives to see what weather and climatological ingredients may have combined to brew such a storm.

Though hundreds of tornadoes form each year across the United States, records of “downtown tornadic events” are quite rare. The 2008 Atlanta tornado — the first in the city’s recorded history — was also unique because it developed during extreme drought conditions.

In a NASA-funded study, researchers from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens found that intermittent rain in the days before the storms, though providing temporary drought relief, may have moistened some areas enough to create favorable conditions for severe storms to form and intensify. Additionally, the sprawling urban landscape may have given the storms the extra, turbulent energy needed to spin up a tornado. The researchers reported their findings in January at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society.

“The Atlanta tornado, though forecasted well, caught us by surprise because it evolved rapidly under very peculiar conditions during a drought and over a downtown area,” said Dev Niyogi, an assistant professor of regional climatology at Purdue and lead author of the modeling study. “We wanted to know why it hit Atlanta during one of the longest, harshest droughts the southeast has experienced. Was it a manifestation of the drought? Does urban development have an effect on such a storm?”

Such questions are becoming more relevant as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA, and other institutions investigate the relationships between extreme water cycle events (such as drought), land cover change, weather, and climate change.

See animation (3 Mb)
The animation shows how, in the days leading up to March 14, 2008, pockets of rain fell between drought-ravaged areas that saw no rain, setting up boundaries of dry and moist air. These boundaries along with urban-rural land cover boundaries produce circulations and rising air similar to a sea breeze. They may also serve as localized regions of enhancement for existing storms or initiation of new storms. Modeling studies suggest that these boundaries may have been a factor in the storms that produced the Atlanta tornado.

 n the southeastern U.S., tornadoes are quite common in the spring when upper level wind patterns, surface moisture, and surface weather features promote severe weather. But moisture was scarce in the weeks leading up to the March 2008 Atlanta tornado, and likely should have suppressed a storm, according to atmospheric scientist Marshall Shepherd of UGA. Shepherd, Niyogi and colleagues recently completed a 50-year climatological assessment that finds tornadic activity is often suppressed during droughts in the Southeast.

To get to the bottom of how such a storm could have developed despite the drought, Purdue researchers Niyogi, Ming Lei, and Anil Kumar, along with Shepherd, investigated reports of isolated rain showers that had swept through parts of Alabama and northwest Georgia in the 48 hours prior to the tornado. They suspected that these “wet pockets” might have triggered, but more likely enhanced, the initial thunderstorms.

The scattered rainfall fell between areas that received no rain, setting up pockets of high humidity between areas of warm, dry air. The wet and dry areas may have acted as weak atmospheric fronts or may have promoted air circulation and evaporation that could have intensified the storms. A similar phenomenon promotes severe thunderstorms in Florida, where moist sea breezes interact with dry interior air masses.

Niyogi and Shepherd also found evidence that storm intensity was amplified by the heat-retaining effects of Atlanta’s buildings and streets. The “heat island” effect leads to warmer air temperatures in urban areas because impervious surfaces like glass, metal, concrete and asphalt absorb, reflect, and store heat differently than tree or grass-covered land. Urban environments heat the air and cause moisture to rise quickly, creating a “thunderstorm pump” that can fuel or intensify storms. In March 2008, the differences in soil moisture and Atlanta’s sprawling land cover may have provided the perfect blend for storms to intensify.

“A thunderstorm, energized by moist pockets within a drought region, grew into a tornado-causing severe thunderstorm because of weather instabilities it encountered at the rural-urban boundary,” Niyogi explained.

“Drought and urbanization do not cause the thunderstorms or tornado, but ultimately they added fuel to the fire of an already energized storm,” he added. “The variable rain bands created patches of land that were wet and dry, green and not green. The combination created surface boundaries that can destabilize the weather system and energize an approaching storm, providing the one-two punch.”

Niyogi, Shepherd, and colleagues used the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite to assess the state of ground vegetation immediately before and after the storm, as well the long-term differences before and during the drought. The researchers also examined rainfall estimates captured by NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission satellite to identify the unusual bands of rainfall two days before the tornado.

Finally, they examined soil moisture data from the Japanese Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer – Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite to evaluate the intensity of the drought at the time of the tornado. When these real drought and urban land cover conditions were included in the team’s atmosphere-land surface computer models, the simulations produced a more intense storm that mirrored reality.

“Our findings highlight the difficulty in de-tangling the influences of the atmosphere and of Earth’s surface within the weather-hydroclimate system,” said Shepherd. “Soil moisture and urban land cover are not well-represented in weather models, but a new look at satellite data offers a fresh opportunity to improve forecasts.”

“With many studies suggesting more potential for urbanization and droughts in our future,” Niyogi added, “it will be important to see if this kind of intense storm development could happen more frequently in future climates.”

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Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Climate Science Reporting

A New Paper On Solar Climate Forcing “ACRIM-Gap And TSI Trend Issue Resolved Using A Surface Magnetic Flux TSI Proxy Model By Scafetta Et Al 2009

At the December 2008 NRC meeting “Detection and Attribution of Solar Forcing on Climate” [see] there was extensive criticism by Gavin Schmidt and others on the research of Nicola Scafetta with respect to solar climate forcings.  He was not, however, invited to that December meeting.

There is now a new paper that he has published that needs to be refuted or supported by other peer reviewed literature (rather than comments in  a closed NRC meeting in which the presentors would not share their powerpoint talks). 

The new paper is

Scafetta N., R. C. Willson (2009), ACRIM-gap and TSI trend issue resolved using a surface magnetic flux TSI proxy model, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L05701, doi:10.1029/2008GL036307.

The abstract reads

“The ACRIM-gap (1989.5-1991.75) continuity dilemma for satellite TSI observations is resolved by bridging the satellite TSI monitoring gap between ACRIM1 and ACRIM2 results with TSI derived from Krivova et al.’s (2007) proxy model based on variations of the surface distribution of solar magnetic flux. ‘Mixed’ versions of ACRIM and PMOD TSI composites are constructed with their composites’ original values except for the ACRIM gap, where Krivova modeled TSI is used to connect ACRIM1 and ACRIM2 results. Both ‘mixed’ composites demonstrate a significant TSI increase of 0.033%/decade between the solar activity minima of 1986 and 1996, comparable to the 0.037% found in the ACRIM composite. The finding supports the contention of Willson (1997) that the ERBS/ERBE results are flawed by uncorrected degradation during the ACRIM gap and refutes the Nimbus7/ERB ACRIM gap adjustment Fröhlich and Lean (1998) employed in constructing the PMOD.” 

A key statement in the conclusion reads

“This finding has evident repercussions for climate change and solar physics. Increasing TSI between 1980 and 2000 could have contributed significantly to global warming during the last three decades [Scafetta and West, 2007, 2008]. Current climate models [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007] have assumed that the TSI did not vary significantly during the last 30 years and have therefore underestimated the solar contribution and overestimated the anthropogenic contribution to global warming.”

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Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Research Papers

New Paper “Amplification Of The North American ‘Dust Bowl’ Drought Through Human Induced Land Degradation” By Cook Et Al

There is a new paper that is in press in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is

“Amplification of the North American ‘Dust Bowl’ drought through human induced land degradation By B. I. Cook, R. L. Miller and R. Seager.

This paper was also presented on Monday, March 9 2009 at the Univeristy of Colorado in Boulder at INSTARR.

The abstract reads

“The ‘Dust Bowl’ drought of the 1930s was highly unusual for North America, deviating from the typical pattern forced by ‘La Nina’ with the maximum drying in the central and northern Plains, warm temperature anomalies across almost the entire continent, and widespread dust storms. General circulation models (GCMs), forced by sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from the 1930s, produce a serious drought, but one that is centered in southwestern North America and without the warming centered in the middle of the continent. Here we show that the inclusion of forcing from human land degradation during the period, in addition to the anomalous SSTs, is necessary to reproduce the anomalous features of the Dust Bowl drought. The degradation over the Great Plains is represented in the GCM as a reduction in vegetation cover and the addition of a soil dust aerosol source, both a consequence of crop failure. As a result of land surface feedbacks, the simulation of the drought is much improved when the new dust aerosol and vegetation boundary conditions are included. Vegetation reductions explain the high temperature anomaly over the northern U.S. and the dust aerosols intensify the drought and move it northward of the purely ocean-forced drought pattern. When both factors are included in the model simulations, the precipitation and temperature anomalies are of similar magnitude and in a similar location compared to the observations. Human-induced land degradation is likely to have not only contributed to the dust storms of the 1930s, but also amplified the drought and these together turned a modest SST-forced drought into one of the worst environmental disasters the U.S. has experienced.”

The conclusion has the text

“The results from this study suggest a mechanism that could explain some of the anomalous drought patterns during the last thousand years, as seen in proxy reconstructions from tree ring records (20, 21). The ‘Dust Bowl’ drought was likely unique during the instrumental era, but similar drought patterns can be found during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) (4). Typical North American droughts during the MCA were longer lasting (on the order of decades) and more intense (21), and were accompanied by large scale dune mobilization over parts of the Great Plains (22). This movement of dunes implies a near-complete loss of vegetation cover (in this case induced naturally by an intense and persistent drought), and the possibility of a productive dust source and subsequent aerosol and vegetation feedbacks. Additionally, we note there are several areas in the world today where human land degradation (manifesting as loss of vegetation cover and increased vulnerability to wind erosion) and drought, potentially worsened by the subtropical drying that is projected to occur as a consequence of global warming (23, 24), have the potential to interact, leading to future ‘Dust Bowl’ droughts in some
developing regions (14). Both issues will require an integrated modeling approach, similar to the current study.”

The full paper will appear soon in the PNAS.

This excellent study highlights that land surface processes represent a first order climate forcing that must be included as a necessary condition to obtain realistic simulations of climate processes. This is a finding recommended in the 2005 NRC report

Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties.

and in our published papers e.g. see

Pielke Sr., R.A., G. Marland, R.A. Betts, T.N. Chase, J.L. Eastman, J.O. Niles, D. Niyogi, and S. Running, 2002: 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. Phil. Trans. A. Special Theme Issue, 360, 1705-1719.

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

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Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Climate Models

Further Comments Regarding The Concept “Heating In The Pipeline”

Climate Science has shown why there is, at present,  no “heat in the pipeline” [or an equivalent term “unrealized heat”]; e.g. see

Is There Climate Heating In “The Pipeline”?

Can The Climate System “Mask” Heat?

We were alerted to two weblogs that incorrectly discuss this issue and further illustrate why this concept is being misinterpreted. These weblogs are

The 2008 bravenewclimate weblog includes the text

“In brief then, we are NOT currently feeling the impact of 450 ppm CO2-e. Because of aerosols and other cooling factors, we are most probably experiencing the partial result of the extra energy being trapped by about 375 ppm CO2-e. Indeed, we are not even feeling all of that, at least in terms of changes in air temperature, because so much energy is currently going into heating large bodies of water and melting huge chunks of ice.”

The writer of this weblog is in error as, since mid-2003, there has not been heating of large bodies of water, and the amount of melting of ice, in term of Joules, is quite small (see Table 1 in this paper).

Their weblog also states

However, this offsetting effect is unlikely to remain in the future as improved pollution controls are expected to significantly reduce the cooling effect of aerosols over the course of coming decades: Meinshausen et al (2006).

The improvement of controls on industrial and vehichular emission would reduce that aerosol source, however, grassland and forest burning as well as dust from land management practices such as overgrazing (e.g. that result in desertification) are unlikely to be reduced as population continues to grow in the tropical and subtropical latitudes, and forest fires continue in the high boreal latitudes. The aerosol contribution to the climate system will remain with us indefinitely.

The 2009 bravenewclimate weblog specifically defines the term “heating in the pipeline”. They write

“Warming ‘in the pipeline’ is a term used to describe lags and inertia in the climate system…. there is a ‘missing’ quanta of  warming, which is being hidden by a number of poorly understood factors.

The error in the above is that the authors of the weblog (and the IPCC) are using surface temperature trends to quantify climate system heat changes. With temperature changes in response to heating or cooling, there are lags (e.g. it takes time to heat a pot of water on the stove). However, by using the appropriate metric of heating and cooling (i.e. Joules) there is NO lag or ineria. The heat is either being added or it is not.  There is NO hidden heat.

Finally, their weblog makes the recommendations

“That is, there is still a fair chance that we can ‘hold the 2°C line’, if strong mitigation of greenhouse gases is combined with the following three actions: (i) a slow, rather than instant, elimination of aerosol cooling, (ii) a directed effort to first remove warming aerosols like black carbon, and (iii) a concerted and sustained programme,  over this century, to draw-down excessive CO2 (geo- and bio-engineering) and simultaneously reduce non-CO2 forcings, such that the final equilibrium temperature rise will be lower than would otherwise be expected on the basis of current concentrations.”

The argument that we should slowly reduce aerosols, with the first removal being of black carbon, assumes that climate change, as represented by global warming is more important that the health benefits of reducing these aerosols. As reported on Climate Science, this is a misplaced approach which jepordizes millions of lives who need better air quality; e.g. see

Misconception And Oversimplification Of the Concept Of Global Warming By V. Ramanthan and Y. Feng.

In the above Climate Science weblog, I wrote

This “tradeoff” [of climate benefits at the expense of health benefits from air pollution] is a seriously misleading recommendation. There are no tradeoffs with respect to air pollution abatement! Health benefits of reducing air pollution should be a worldwide goal irrespective of how it alters the global average radiative forcing.



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Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Climate Change Metrics, Climate Science Misconceptions, Climate Science Reporting

New Report On The Lack Of Recent Global Warming

There is an interesting article on at MSNBC from the Discovery Channel titled

“Warming might be on hold, study finds Authors sense hibernation, but warn of ‘explosive’ rise later”

by Michael Reilly.

This article finally (although implicitly) acknowledges in the media that there a substantive issue with the predictions of the IPCC and CCSP models.

It includes the revealing comments that

“according to a new study, global warming may have hit a speed bump and could go into hiding for decades.”


 “It is possible that a fraction of the most recent rapid warming since the 1970’s was due to a free variation in climate,” Isaac Held of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Princeton, New Jersey wrote in an email to Discovery News. “Suggesting that the warming might possibly slow down or even stagnate for a few years before rapid warming commences again.”

Swanson thinks the trend could continue for up to 30 years. But he warned that it’s just a hiccup, and that humans’ penchant for spewing greenhouse gases will certainly come back to haunt us.

“When the climate kicks back out of this state, we’ll have explosive warming,” Swanson said. “Thirty years of greenhouse gas radiative forcing will still be there and then bang, the warming will return and be very aggressive.”

First, these statements clearly indicate that the IPCC and CCSP global model predictions (which are being used as the basis for making expensive and difficult to implement government policies) are seriously flawed. 

Second, the authors are inaccurately reporting on climate physics, as they claim that “Thirty years of greenhouse gas radiative forcing will still be there and then bang, the warming will return and be very aggressive”. This statement, unfortunately, incorrectly assumes that the heat for these 30 years would accumulate in a hidden location (i.e. “unrealized heat) and then suddenly reappear after this time period.

As was discussed yesterday on Climate Science in the weblog Is There Climate Heating In “The Pipeline”? , however, this is an inaccurate statement on how the climate system actually works. If the heating were to suspend for 30 years, and then recommenced, the rate of heating would be determined by the radiative imbalance at that time.

Finally, if the global heating continues to remain suspended (for whatever reason) in the coming years, it will seriously damage the credibility of the climate science community as represented by IPCC and CCSP assessments.

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Filed under Climate Change Metrics, Climate Science Reporting

Is There Climate Heating In “The Pipeline”?

A new paper has appeared (thanks to Timo Hämeranta for alerting us to it!) [also to Marcel Crok to alerting me to the typo in the original posting]

Urban, Nathan M., and Klaus Keller, 2009. Complementary observational constraints on climate sensitivity. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L04708, doi:10.1029/2008GL036457, February 25, 2009. in press,

which provides further discussion of this question.

The abstract of this paper reads

“A persistent feature of empirical climate sensitivity estimates is their heavy tailed probability distribution indicating a sizeable probability of high sensitivities. Previous studies make general claims that this upper heavy tail is an unavoidable feature of (i) the Earth system, or of (ii) limitations in our observational capabilities. Here we show that reducing the uncertainty about (i) oceanic heat uptake and (ii) aerosol climate forcing can — in principle — cut off this heavy upper tail of climate sensitivity estimates. Observations of oceanic heat uptake result in a negatively correlated joint likelihood function of climate sensitivity and ocean vertical diffusivity. This correlation is opposite to the positive correlation resulting from observations of surface air temperatures. As a result, the two observational constraints can rule out complementary regions in the climate sensitivity-vertical diffusivity space, and cut off the heavy upper tail of the marginal climate sensitivity estimate”.

A key statement in the text of their paper reads

“Surface temperature observations permit high climate sensitivities if there is substantial unrealized “warming in the pipeline” from the oceans. However, complementary ocean heat observations can be used to test this and can potentially rule out large ocean warming. Ocean heat observations are compatible with high sensitivities if there is substantial surface warming which is penetrating poorly into the oceans. Again, complementary surface temperature observations can test this, and can potentially rule out large surface warming.”

By “unrealized warming in the pipeline”, they mean heat that is being stored within the ocean, which can subsequently be released into the ocean  atmosphere. It is erroneous to consider this heat as “unrealized warming”, if the Joules of heat are actually being stored in the ocean. The heat is “realized”; it would just not be entering the atmosphere yet.

As discussed in the Physics Today paper

 Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55,

there has been no heating of the upper ocean since mid-2003. Moreover, there has been no heating within the  troposphere (e.g. see Figure 7 of the RSS MSU data).

Thus, there is no “warming in the pipeline” using the author’s terminology, nor any heating within the atmosphere! Perhaps the heating that was observed prior to 2003 will begin again, however, it is scientifically incorrect to report that there is any heat that has not yet been realized within the climate system.

The answer to the question posted in this weblog “Is There Climate Heating In “The Pipeline”? is NO.



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