Monthly Archives: March 2009

A 2007 Article “The Current Debate on the Linkage Between Global Warming and Hurricanes” by Shepherd and Knutson 2007

I was very recently alerted to an excellent article that was published in 2007 regarding a discussion on the relationship of tropical cyclone activity to climate change. It is worth reading. The article is

Shepherd, J. M. and T. Knutson, 2007: The current debate on the linkage between global warming and hurricanes . Geography Compass, 1(1), 1-24.

The abstract reads

“Following Hurricane Katrina and the parade of storms that affected the conterminous United States in 2004-2005, the apparent recent increase in intense hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin, and the reported increases in recent decades in some hurricane intensity and duration measures in several basins have received considerable attention. An important ongoing avenue of investigation in the climate and meteorology research communities is to determine the relative roles of anthropogenic forcing (i.e., global warming) and natural variability in producing the observed recent increases in hurricane frequency in the Atlantic, as well as the reported increases of tropical cyclone activity measures in several other ocean basins. A survey of the existing literature shows that many types of data have been used to describe hurricane intensity, and not all records are of sufficient length to reliably identify historical trends. Additionally, there are concerns among researchers about possible effects of data inhomogeneities on the reported trends. Much of the current debate has focused on the relative roles of sea-surface temperatures or large-scale potential intensity versus the role of other environmental factors such as vertical wind shear in causing observed changes in hurricane statistics. Significantly more research – from observations, theory, and modeling – is needed to resolve the current debate around global warming and hurricanes.”

Comments Off on A 2007 Article “The Current Debate on the Linkage Between Global Warming and Hurricanes” by Shepherd and Knutson 2007

Filed under Climate Science Reporting, Research Papers

Health Benefits Of Air Quality Control Should Never Be Sacrificed By Delaying The Clean-Up Of Aerosol Emissions For Climate Reasons

There have rather puzzling recommendations made recently in which improvements in air quality are recommended as being delayed in order to retain the radiative cooling effect of certain aerosols, particularly sulphates. Examples of such a recommendation are reported in the Climate Science weblogs

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

Further Comments on the Question “Can The Climate System ‘Mask’ Heat?”

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

This recommendation is made despite evidence presented in the first weblog listed above, for example, that “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).”   Such a recommendation applies to all types of aerosols which includes aerosols that contribute to radiative cooling (e.g. see Chapter 2 in the 2007 IPCC report and Chapter 2 in the 2005 NRC report for reviews of these negative radiative forcings).

I have worked throughout my career to improve air quality. This includes two terms on the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission where we implemented (and I supported) efforts such as the oxygenated fuels program to reduce atmospheric CO, strictregulations on wood and coal burning in residential fireplaces and stoves, and on asbestos concentrations. I was a member of an NRC committee that rejected an attempt to exempt certain locations such as Fairbanks Alaska from the national CO health standard; see

National Research Council, 2003: Managing carbon monoxide pollution in meteorological and topographical problem areas. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 196 pp,

and also an NRC committee to communicate the major concerns of overgrazing, which includes an increase in dust emissions into the atmosphere; see

Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China, 1992: Grasslands and grassland sciences in Northern China, Office of International Affairs, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 214 pp.

I have taught graduate classes in air pollution at the University of Virginia and Colorado State University (even a class on the U.S. Wilderness System in which the preservation of pristine air quality is a major issue that we discussed).  I also was on  a committee in Fort Collins that mandated that the permit to construct and operate a brewrey near the city require the burning of natural gas rather than coal.

The motivation for all of these activities is to reduce human mortality and morbidity and to minimize negative environmental effects from air pollution.  

Thus, when I see attempts to delay implementation of any air quality improvement, which will cost lives, in order to provide a climate effect (i.e. through the delay in reducing sulphate emissions), we need to recognize that the priorities of those making such climate recommendations are misplaced.

 

 

Comments Off on Health Benefits Of Air Quality Control Should Never Be Sacrificed By Delaying The Clean-Up Of Aerosol Emissions For Climate Reasons

Filed under Climate Science Op-Eds

A Set Of Presentations On Video – “Climate Science Seminar: Climate Change And Its Causes: A Discussion About Some Key Issues”

There was an interesting diverse viewpoint set of talks on February 26, 2009 at EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics titled “Climate Science Seminar: Climate Change and Its Causes: A Discussion about Some Key Issues“. {thanks to Nicola Scafetta for altering us to this!]. 

The presentations are by Nicola Scafetta, Judith Lean, Richard Lindzen and Karl Wunsch.

We need more such meetings where alternative viewpoints on climate science are presented.

Comments Off on A Set Of Presentations On Video – “Climate Science Seminar: Climate Change And Its Causes: A Discussion About Some Key Issues”

Filed under Climate Science Meetings

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“. http://www.pnas.org 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].

or

“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.

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

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!

 

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

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,
doi:10.1029/2008JD010938.

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 (http://www.wmo.ch/pages/prog/gcos/index.php?name = monitoringprinciples) which include the availability of full metadata such as photographic documentation; and as well for the rescue and digitization of all historical data.”

Comments Off on 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

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.

 

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

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