Monthly Archives: September 2011

Torpedoing Of The Use Of The Global Average Surface Temperature Trend As The Diagnostic For Global Warming

There is a new paper by Gerald Meehl of NCAR and other collaborators  that has been announced in the media; i.e. see in the International Business Tribune [h/t to Watts Up With That]

Global Warming on Temporary Hold Thanks to Deep Oceans

First, I am glad the authors implicitly acknowledge the importance of the ocean heat changes as the primary diagnostic of climate system heat changes, as I have urged in my papers

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335.

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 are two major issues, however, with the new study that the authors [that the news article reports on]  did not seem to recognize:

1.  If heat is being sequested in the deeper ocean, it must transfer through the upper ocean. In the real world, this has not been seen that I am aware of. In the models, this heat clearly must be transferred  (upwards and downwards) through this layer. The Argo network is spatially dense enough that this should have been see.

2. Even more important is the failure of the authors to recognize that they have devalued the use of the global average surface temperature as the icon to use to communicate the magnitude of global warming.  If this deeper ocean heating actually exists in the real world, it is not observable in the ocean and land surface temperatures. To monitor global warming, we need to keep track of the changes in Joules in the climate system, which, as clearly indicated in the new study by Meehl and colleagues, is not adequately diagnosed by the global, annual-averaged surface temperature trends.

The news article has the text [highlight added]

Global warming is temporarily on hold as the deep ocean currents and circulations absorb the sun’s heat before releasing it finally, scientists said on Sunday.

The study conducted by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia was published in the Sept. 18 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change.
 
The last decade saw an incessant growth in greenhouse gas emissions which ideally should have increased Earth’s temperature. However, Earth’s temperature didn’t increase vastly. Where was the “missing heat” going?
 
To find out the mystery, Gerald Meehl, lead author of the study that revealed the connection between global warming and temperature hiatus caused by ocean’s heat absorption, and scientists at the NCAR in Colorado ran five simulations on a computer model that studied the complex interactions between the atmosphere, land, oceans and sea ice.
 
The study revealed that temperature has already increased by several degrees in this century and will increase more in the coming days but the hiatus period will interrupt the increase. During this period, the missing temperature will lurk inside the deep ocean.

“We will see global warming go through hiatus periods in the future, however, these periods would likely last only about a decade or so, and warming would then resume. This study illustrates one reason why global temperatures do not simply rise in a straight line,” said Meehl.

Kevin Trenberth, a study author and NCAR scientist, said: “… this study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean, the heat has not disappeared and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”

They found the vast area deeper than 1,000 feet (305 meters) warmed by about 18 to 19 percent more during the hiatus periods than at other times. Meanwhile, shallower global oceans above 1,000 feet warmed by 60 percent less than during non-hiatus periods in the simulation.

The study also revealed the regional signature of oceanic warming during hiatus periods. During a hiatus, average sea-surface temperatures decrease across the tropical Pacific, while they tend to increase at higher latitudes.

Meehl says these patterns are similar to those observed during a La Niña event.

“Global temperatures tend to drop slightly during La Niña, as cooler waters reach the surface of the tropical Pacific, and they rise slightly during El Niño, when those waters are warmer,” he added.

A final comment on this paper, if heat really is deposited deep into the ocean (i.e. Joules of heat) it will dispersed through the ocean at these depths and unlikely to be transferred back to the surface on short time periods, but only leak back upwards if at all. The deep ocean would be a long-term damper of global warming, that has not been adequately discussed in the climate science community.

source of image

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New Paper “Land Use/Land Cover Changes And Climate: Modeling Analysis And Observational Evidence” By Pielke Sr Et Al 2011

We have a new paper that has been accepted for publication, that summarizes the current understanding of the role of land use/land cover changes on the climate system, as well as proposes approaches to further advance our understanding. The paper is

Pielke Sr., R.A., A. Pitman, D. Niyogi, R. Mahmood, C. McAlpine, F. Hossain, K. Goldewijk, U. Nair, R. Betts, S. Fall, M. Reichstein, P. Kabat, and N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, 2011: Land use/land cover changes and climate: Modeling analysis and observational evidence. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Invited paper, in press.

The abstract reads [highlights added]

Our paper summarizes the changes in landscape structure due to human land management over the last several centuries, and using observed and modeled data, documents how these changes have altered biogeophysical and biogeochemical surface fluxes on the local, mesoscale, and regional scales. Remaining research issues are presented including whether these landscape changes alter large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns far from where the land use and land cover changes occur. We conclude that existing climate assessments have not yet adequately factored in this climate forcing. For those regions that have undergone intensive human landscape change, or would undergo intensive change in the future, we conclude that the failure to factor in this forcing risks a misalignment of investment in climate mitigation and adaptation.

The conclusion ends with the text

For those regions that have undergone intensive LULCC, or will undergo intensive change in the future, failure to factor in this forcing has profound consequences.Investments in adapting to ongoing human-induced climate change and natural variability will remain founded on incomplete and potentially misleading information.This in turn leads to a higher risk of misaligned investment in climate adaptation, which is a vastly more expensive outcome than the costs of resolving the impact of LULCC on the Earth’s global and regional climate. Unless we undertake a thorough assessment of the role of LULCC on climate, an incomplete understanding of the role of humans in the climate system will persist.

source of image

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Filed under Climate Change Forcings & Feedbacks, Research Papers

Response From Anthony Watts

In response to my post

My Interactions With Skeptical Science – A Failed Attempt (So Far) For Constructive Dialog

Anthony Watts at Watts Up With That sent me the following e-mail

Hello Roger,
 
I’m changing the category tag for Al Gore, per your suggestion in your most recent weblog.
 
This tag started when Mr. Gore announced on National television (the Tonight Show) that  the Earth’s temperature  is “several million degrees” at “2 kilometers or so down”.  He also said the “crust of the earth is hot” too.
 
Reference: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/16/gore-has-no-clue-a-few-million-degrees-here-and-there-and-pretty-soon-were-talking-about-real-temperature/
 
For me, for Mr. Gore, who is looked to for valid opinions on science by millions of people, this was truly a moment of idiocy, and I thought the category label was deserved for that moment, especially since in the subsequent days, he made no attempt to correct that hugely erroneous statement.
 
But I agree, continued use of the category label is unwarranted and unfair, and from now on it will say simply “Al Gore”. The prior URL for previously tagged stories will no longer function. This is now the correct category URL: http://wattsupwiththat.com/category/al-gore/
 
Perhaps Skeptical Science will follow my lead and change their categories called “Christy Crocks” and “Spencer Slip Ups” to demonstrate that they follow their own complaints of unfair labeling with reciprocal actions.
 
You may include this with your weblog if you wish as an addendum/update.

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My Interactions With Skeptical Science – A Failed Attempt (So Far) For Constructive Dialog

Update: September 18 2011 – see Response From Anthony Watts

For the last several days, I have sought to engage the weblog Skeptical Science on climate science issues in response to their post

One-Sided ‘Skepticism

with comments on their weblog.

I had earlier posted on their website in

My Response To The Skeptical Science Post “One-Sided ‘Skepticism”

which started with my post

Scientific Robustness Of The University Of Alabama At Huntsville MSU Data.

Despite my raising science issues in my first post, the moderators of Skeptical Science have persisted on focusing on the issue of ad homimem attacks that I discussed as part of my post. They assume I only am critical of “one side” of the debate.  However, anyone who uses derogatory name calling significantly weakens their presentation of whatever viewpoint they expouse. I agree that the topic “Al Gore is an idiot”  at Watts Up With That is a derogatory term and that section on the weblog should be relabeled.  Instead of moving on, however, the moderators and comments at Skeptical Science persist on focusing on this subject.

The following comments from the Skeptical Science illustrate their inability to move on to discuss science issues. I thought their weblog would provide a much needed opportunity to constructively debate these issues but this, unfortunately, has not occurred. They refer me to “other threads” but the topics have been introduced in this thread.

I repost below several my comments and several responses from Skeptical Science [readers are welcome to go to their weblog to see the full exchanges]. This evening (September 17th)  they crossed out some of my comments, although you can still read them.

pielkesr at 06:54 AM on 17 September, 2011

Badgersouth – The six points are

•climate change as market failure,
•as technological risk,
•as global injustice,
•as over consumption,
•as mostly natural,
•as planetary “tipping points”.

Except for the 5th one from the top, they are policy issues. My expertise is in the WG1 focus (climate science).

Mike Hulme writes that these are “broadly consistent with the scientific knowledge assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” but the other 5 (and perhaps the last one although this requirements a quantitification of vulnerabilties) are not science issues, although people are using “science” claims to advocate for particular policies (e.g. see http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/09/somebody-send-paul-nurse-copy-of-honest.html).

Let’s focus on the science questions themselves in our discussions.

Response:

[Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Now please begin to address those.

pielkesr at 06:57 AM on 17 September, 2011

Dikran Marsupial – In answer to your question

‘With all due respect, you have not answered the question I asked. Can you present a statistical analysis that shows reasonable statistical power over decadal trends, yes or no? Pick any climate metric you like.’

look at
http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/gistemp-up-during-august/

and earlier posts.

Response:

[Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Now please begin to address those.  Sir.

Off-topic struck out

pielkesr at 07:08 AM on 17 September, 2011

We seem to be stuck in developing a discussion. KR in #76 has a constructive science comment. KR, however, misses that both of these papers highlight the importance of ocean heat content changes as the metric to diagnose global warming. This eliminates the need to focus on the so-called “climate sensitivity”. Nonetheless, this is a good start.

However, the other commenters are mostly missing the central science issues I have rasied. I will repeat my questions here:

1.Of the two hypotheses below, which one do you conclude is correct?

Hypothesis 2a: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.

Hypothesis 2b: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate issue for the coming decades.

2. Of the two perspectives below [from Mike Hulme], which one do you agree with?

i) “The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes. Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.”

ii) “The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions, land use changes and aerosol pollution are all contributing to regional and global climate changes, which exacerbate the changes and variability in climates brought about by natural causes. Because humans are contributing to climate change, it is happening now and in the future for a much more complex set of reasons than in previous human history.”

As Mike Hulme writes

”….these two different provocations – two different framings of climate change – open up the possibility of very different forms of public and policy engagement with the issue. They shape the response.

The latter framing, for example, emphasises that human influences on climate are not just about greenhouse gas emissions (and hence that climate change is not just about fossil energy use), but also result from land use changes (emissions and albedo effects) and from aerosols (dust, sulphates and soot).

It emphasises that these human effects on climate are as much regional as they are global. And it emphasises that the interplay between human and natural effects on climate are complex and that this complexity is novel.”

What are your comments on Mike Hulme’s two perspectives with respect to climate policy?

3. What is your preferred diagnostic to monitor global warming?

The options include, for example, (i) the global annual average surface temperature anomaly in degrees Celsius; ii) the global annual average ocean heat anomaly in Joules; or iii) the global annual average radiative imbalance at the top-of-the atmosphere in Watts per meter squared.

What is your best estimate of the observed trends in each of these metrics over the last 10 years and the last 20 years?

4. What do the models’ predict should be the current value of these metrics.

5. What are your preferred diagnostics to monitor climate change?

6. Is global warming (and cooling) a subset of climate change or does it dominate climate change?

If Skeptical Science is serious regarding a constructive debate, lets start with these on your weblog.

Response:

[Daniel Bailey] Actually, Dr. Pielke, it is you who continues to miss the point.  This thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  A continuation of your policy of avoiding the tough questions casts you in a very poor light.

pielkesr at 21:04 PM on 17 September, 2011

Glenn Tamblyn – Thank you for a response on the science.

On the ocean data (particularly the upper 700m) it is considered spatially well sampled and robust since 2003. It will replace the surface temperatures as the diagnostic to monitor global warming. Surface air temperatures will always be important, of course, (e.g. growing season length etc) but it is not a measure of heat by itself.

With respect to your comment “In the long run, CO2 levels unaddressed will become the dominant driver where as currently it is just first among many.” I agree; added CO2 will remain a major concern. However, land still has many locations that can be altered, and other climate forcings, such as nitrogren deposition is accelerating and will be accumulating on land and in the oceans. The length of time to “purge” the system of this excess nitogren is unclear. The human role in climate system is more complicated than just the added CO2 and a few other gases as we summarize in
Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/r-354.pdf

Now on the moderator’s admonition

“[Daniel Bailey] Glenn, Dr. Pielke is exercising a ploy to divert this thread from its central focus: Dr. Pielke’s selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS. Which he still fails to own and address.”

I thought Skeptical Science was about science issues, as Glenn has done. I have discussed on my weblog “the ad hominems towards” Spencer and Christy on SkS, since SKS is not accurately reporting on the quality of their science which they have posted in peer reviewed papers.

The comments keep bringing up Anthony Watt’s website. First, I have worked with Anthony and he is devoted to the highest level of scientific robustness. Second, he does not have boxes with derogatory labels on them identifying individual scientists. SkS does. Anthony even has a link to SkS on his weblog.

If you want to be taken more seriously by others outside of your view on the climate issue, you should be provide more balance.

Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] We are very happy for you to discuss the science with us here at SkS, however please do so on the appropriate thread. SkS is organised this way in order to keep the discussion focussed. As we are unable to comment on the article on your blog it seems reasonable to have an article here devoted to the issue of your accusation of ad-hominems, so on this thread, please restrict your comments to that topic and that topic only. If our reporting of the science is incorrect then I strongly and sincerely encourage you to join the discussion on the relevant threads, your contribution will be greatly valued.

pielkesr at 04:37 AM on 18 September, 2011

Regarding the moderator comment –

“Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] We are very happy for you to discuss the science with us here at SkS, however please do so on the appropriate thread. SkS is organised this way in order to keep the discussion focussed. As we are unable to comment on the article on your blog it seems reasonable to have an article here devoted to the issue of your accusation of ad-hominems, so on this thread, please restrict your comments to that topic and that topic only. If our reporting of the science is incorrect then I strongly and sincerely encourage you to join the discussion on the relevant threads, your contribution will be greatly valued.”

You post a “rogues’ gallery” on your website [“Christy Croks”; “Lindzen Illusions!”; “Monckton Myths”; and “Spencer Slipups” and are then surprised a number of my colleagues, as well as myself, consider this as degrogatory. I do not necessarily agree with all of their statements, but you are not going to broaden the appeal of your weblog unless you move away from this approach and just focus on the science. Such labeling of individuals is not constructive.

I raised the issue on my weblog that I view the SkS labeling as ad hominems because I have published with John Christy and have directly interacted with Roy Spencer. They do not deserve such labeling. If similar rouges’ gallerys were made of any other colleague who I have recently published with and/or closely worked with, I would also post on my website alerting the community who reads my blog of such a derogatory presentation.

This is the last statement I will be making on this thread, since, in response to the SkS request from Dikran Marsupial, the discussion of science issues on this thread, that some of your commenters have made in response to my questions, is discouraged.

I will defer from further involvement at SkS until (if SkS chooses) there is a separate post on the specific science issues I asked about earlier in this thread and on my weblog.

Please alert me when you do if you are interested in a scientific discourse with me. I do appreciate, that you did not exclude any of my comments in this thread.

Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] The discussion of the science is only discouraged on this particular thread. I (and I suspect many others here) would be very happy to discuss the scientific issues with you on the relvant threads). Your further participation here is very much encouraged.

Response from SkS:

 DB] “Would I be right in saying that Dr Pielke failed to answer any of the questions and requests pertinent to this thread made of him by the SkS team?”

10Roger on that.  The inescapable conclusion one is forced to draw is that Dr. Pielke under no circumstances will admit to having been wrong.  Thus, he cedes the Field of Truth to Skeptical Science.

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New Paper “Climate Forcing And Response To Idealized Changes In Surface” By Ban-Weiss Et Al 2011

Andy Revkin alerted us to a new, quite interesting paper on the role of land use and land cover change on the global climate system.

The new paper is

George A Ban-Weiss, Govindasamy Bala, Long Cao, Julia Pongratz and Ken Caldeira 2011 Climate forcing and response to idealized changes in surface latent and sensible heat 2011 *Environ. Res. Lett.* *6* 034032 (doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/6/3/034032)

The abstract reads [highlight added]

Land use and land cover changes affect the partitioning of latent and sensible heat, which impacts the broader climate system. Increased latent heat flux to the atmosphere has a local cooling influence known as ‘evaporative cooling’, but this energy will be released back to the atmosphere wherever the water condenses. However, the extent to which local evaporative cooling provides a global cooling influence has not been well characterized. Here, we perform a highly idealized set of climate model simulations aimed at understanding the effects that changes in the balance between surface sensible and latent heating have on the global climate system. We find that globally adding a uniform 1 W m−2 source of latent heat flux along with a uniform 1 W m−2 sink of sensible heat leads to a decrease in global mean surface air temperature of 0.54 ± 0.04 K. This occurs largely as a consequence of planetary albedo increases associated with an increase in low elevation cloudiness caused by increased evaporation. Thus, our model results indicate that, on average, when latent heating replaces sensible heating, global, and not merely local, surface temperatures decrease.

Their study approach includes the text

The model used in this study is the NCAR Community Atmosphere Model (CAM3.1) (Collins et al 2004) coupled to the Community Land Model (CLM3.0) (Oleson et al 2004) and a slab ocean model. The configuration used in this study has a finite-volume dynamical core and 2◦ × 2.5◦ (longitude × latitude) grid resolution. CAM3.1 has 26 horizontal layers. All simulations were run with a prescribed atmospheric CO2 concentration of 390 ppm, which is the approximate current level.

Simulating stationary climates. For each case (i.e. control, ↑L↓S, ↑L, and ↓S), we performed an ensemble of three 20-year simulations and then let one ensemble member of each case run for 100 model years. The global climate model used approaches stationarity within 30 years; ‘total responses’ are reported for means of the last 70 years of the 100-year simulations, representing a near-stationary climate state.

The conclusion starts with

Changes in land cover alter the partitioning of latent and sensible heat fluxes. Surface latent heat flux increases are expected from e.g. reforestation (e.g. Anderson et al 2011) and/or irrigation (e.g. Boucher et al 2004, Lobell et al 2006, 2009)

and ends with

This study points to the need for improved understanding between changes at Earth’s surface, and how they interact with fluxes at the top of the atmosphere to drive regional and global climate change.

This paper is an original investigation of the role of land use and land cover change on the climate system. We have been proposing for years that the IPCC move towards a broader assessment of the role of humans on the climate.  This includes assessment reports (essentially ignored in the 2007 IPCC WG1 report); i.e.

Kabat, P., Claussen, M., Dirmeyer, P.A., J.H.C. Gash, L. Bravo de Guenni, M. Meybeck, R.A. Pielke Sr., C.J. Vorosmarty, R.W.A. Hutjes, and S. Lutkemeier, Editors, 2004: Vegetation, water, humans and the climate: A new perspective on an interactive system. Springer, Berlin, Global Change – The IGBP Series, 566 pp

and

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

and a wide range of research papers; e.g.

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.

Chase, T.N., R.A. Pielke, T.G.F. Kittel, R.R. Nemani, and S.W. Running, 2000: Simulated impacts of historical land cover changes on global climate in northern winter. Climate Dynamics, 16, 93-105.

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.

More recent papers include

McAlpine, C.A., W.F. Laurance, J.G. Ryan, L. Seabrook, J.I. Syktus, A.E. Etter, P.M. Fearnside, P. Dargusch, and R.A. Pielke Sr. 2010: More than CO2: A broader picture for managing climate change and variability to avoid ecosystem collapse. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2:334-336, DOI10.1016/j.cosust.2010.10.001.

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.

We also have a new paper that was just accepted for publication (and we will update the url of it on my research website in the next few days) that complements the new Ban-Weiss et al 2011 article;

Pielke Sr., R.A., A. Pitman, D. Niyogi, R. Mahmood, C. McAlpine, F. Hossain, Kees Klein Goldewijk, U. Nair, R. Betts, S. Fall, M. Reichstein, P. Kabat, and N. de Noblet-Ducoudré, 2011: Land use/land cover changes and climate: Modeling analysis and observational evidence. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Invited paper, in press.

The Ban-Weiss et al paper is a much-needed perspective on the role of land use and land cover change as a first-order human climate forcing.

source of the image

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My Further Response To Skeptical Science’s Questions Of September 16 2011

Update: September 18 2011 – see Response From Anthony Watts

In response to my post

My Response To The Skeptical Science Post “One-Sided ‘Skepticism”

Skeptical Science posted  several specific questions as an update in their post

One-Sided ‘Skepticism’

 This is welcome as now we have something to specifically respond to. I will also be asking them questions later in this post.

Their update reads

Update: Pielke has responded, if you can call it a response, since he didn’t actually address anything we said here.  A total shifting of the goalposts, once again trying to deny Spencer and Christy’s constant propagation of misinformation.  In fact, Pielke’s response simply confirmed what we said in this post – he seems unwilling to read the content of our posts, and is totally unwilling to crtiicize (sic) his fellow “skeptics.” 

Dr. Pielke, we once again ask that you answer the question – do you or do you not approve of John Christy’s misleading testimony to US Congress, including his assertion that predictions of global cooling in the 1970s were the same as predictions of global warming today? 

As another example, do you agree with Roy Spencer when he said that as a result of addressing climate change, “Jogging will be outlawed. It is a little known fact that the extra carbon dioxide (and methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas) emitted by joggers accounts for close to 10% of the current Global Warming problem“? 

And do you agree with Spencer’s assertion that “warming in recent decades is mostly due to a natural cycle in the climate system — not to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning“?

Please stop changing the subject, stop pretending Spencer and Christy are faultless Saints, drop the charade, and answer our questions, Dr. Pielke.

My Response:     Here is their first question

“[D]o you or do you not approve of John Christy’s misleading testimony to US Congress, including his assertion that predictions of global cooling in the 1970s were the same as predictions of global warming today? 

I am not aware of John stating that the predictions of global cooling in the 1970s were the same as predictions today. The models were much more primitive than, so clearly they are not the same predictions, and I am certain John knows that. However, this issue is not particularly relevant (when raised by anyone) to the current important climate science questions.

The second question asked is

Jogging will be outlawed. It is a little known fact that the extra carbon dioxide (and methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas) emitted by joggers accounts for close to 10% of the current Global Warming problem“? 

This is a “tongue-in-cheek” statement. Of the comments from Roy, why would one be picked that was intended as a joke?

The third question is

warming in recent decades is mostly due to a natural cycle in the climate system — not to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning“?

as you must be aware, I have expressed a different view. We have discussed this, for example, in the posts

Relative Roles of CO2 and Water Vapor in Radiative Forcing

Further Analysis Of Radiative Forcing By Norm Woods

Is The Human Input Of CO2 A First Order Climate Forcing?

My view is that warming in recent decades is the result of a combination of natural climate variations (internal dynamics, solar irradiance) and of human input of greenhouse gases, including CO2, and of aerosols such as soot. This has dominated negative human radiative forcings (e.g. sulphates).

Roy’s seminal contribution on this topic is that variations in cloud cover as a result of long-term temporal variability in atmospheric circulations can result in significant variations in the global annual average top-of-the-atmosphere radiative imbalance.  Skeptical Science should recognize this scientific achievement, even though they disagree with his political views.

Now it’s my term to ask Skeptical Science several questions:

1. Of the two hypotheses below, which one do you conclude is correct?

Hypothesis 2a: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.
 
Hypothesis 2b: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate issue for the coming decades.
 
2. Of the two perspectives below [from Mike Hulme], which one do you agree with?
i) “The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes. Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.”

ii) “The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions, land use changes and aerosol pollution are all contributing to regional and global climate changes, which exacerbate the changes and variability in climates brought about by natural causes. Because humans are contributing to climate change, it is happening now and in the future for a much more complex set of reasons than in previous human history.”

As Mike Hulme writes
 “….these two different provocations – two different framings of climate change – open up the possibility of very different forms of public and policy engagement with the issue. They shape the response.

The latter framing, for example, emphasises that human influences on climate are not just about greenhouse gas emissions (and hence that climate change is not just about fossil energy use), but also result from land use changes (emissions and albedo effects) and from aerosols (dust, sulphates and soot).

It emphasises that these human effects on climate are as much regional as they are global. And it emphasises that the interplay between human and natural effects on climate are complex and that this complexity is novel.”

What are your comments on Mike Hulme’s two perspectives with respect to climate policy?

3. What is your preferred diagnostic to monitor global warming?

 The options include, for example, (i) the global annual average surface temperature anomaly in degrees Celsius; ii) the global annual average ocean heat anomaly in Joules; or iii) the  global annual average radiative imbalance at the top-of-the atmosphere in Watts per meter squared. 
 
What is your best estimate of the observed trends in each of these metrics over the last 10 years and the last 20 years?
 
4. What do the models’ predict should be the current value of these metrics.
 
5. What are your preferred diagnostics to monitor climate change?
 
6. Is global warming (and cooling) a subset of climate change or does it dominate climate change?
I can respond to more of the Skeptical Science questions and will ask more of them, but lets see first if a constructive dialog will occur.
 
 

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Set #5 Of The Photographs Of Surface Climate Observing Sites

This post presents the next three photographs of surface climate observing sites that I introduced in my post on August 11 2011

Quality Of Global Climate Surface Observing Sites

Some of these sites are reasonably well-sited while others are not. There is, however, a clear need to document each of those sites that are used in the Global Climate Reference Network.

1.Mazatlan, Mexico

2. Manzanillo, Mexico

3. La Paz, Mexico

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My Response To The Skeptical Science Post “One-Sided ‘Skepticism”

Update: September 18 2011 – see Response From Anthony Watts

The weblog Skeptical Science has criticized my post

Scientific Robustness Of The University Of Alabama At Huntsville MSU Data

in their post

One-Sided ‘Skepticism’

They include the text

In a recent post on his blog, Roger Pielke Sr. criticized our performance in meeting those goals.  We at SkS are always open to constructive criticism.  Unfortunately, Dr. Pielke has not actually offered any.  In fact, it appears that Pielke has not even bothered to make the effort to read the series he is criticizing.  He seems to think Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups pertain to satellite temperature data analysis:

“As a result of the persistent, but incorrect (often derogatory) blog posts and media reports on the robustness of the University of Alabama MSU temperature data….The ad hominem presentations on this subject include those from the weblog Skeptical Science who have sections titled Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups

Unfortunately for this piercing critique, these two series of articles do not touch upon the topic of the satellite temperature data. Indeed, the only time SkS has mentioned this work was when we used it as an example of the self-correcting nature of the scientific process.  What the series have bored in on are the wide range of topics relevant to global warming concerning which Spencer and Christy have propogated (sic) numerous myths and copious misinformation.  This frequent myth propagation by Spencer and Christy is an unfortunate reality which it seems Pielke would like to sweep under the rug.

The weblog post continues with

Pielke’s One-Sided Criticisms

What we find strange is that, although Pielke often rushes to the defense of Spencer and Christy, he never criticizes them for blatant errors of logic and fact that they have made; even though he is happy to criticize more mainstream climate scientists.  His critiques seem a tad one-sided.

First, the title of the section of their weblog link as “Christy Croks” is clearly ad hominem. Second, Skeptical Science writes with respect to Christy Croks and Spencer Slip Ups

 “…these two series of articles do not touch upon the topic of the satellite temperature data”

Really…..here are two statements that are made on Skeptical Science on Christy Croks and Spencer Slip Ups that directly connect to their analysis of satellite temperature data.

The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming.

Evidence is building that net cloud feedback is likely positive and unlikely to be strongly negative.

With respect to what is written in  “Christy Croks”, lets look at three of the claims Skeptical Science makes that supposedly  “correct” John’s croks. On the three examples from Skeptical Science

1. Skeptical Science writes

A large amount of warming is delayed, and if we don’t act now we could pass tipping points.

However, there is NO delayed warming when we measure in units of heat (Joules).  A measurement of the heat in the oceans at two different time periods tells us what heating has occurred over this interval; e. g .see

Palmer, M. D., D. J. McNeall, and N. J. Dunstone (2011), Importance of the deep ocean for estimating decadal changes in Earth’s radiation balance, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L13707, doi:10.1029/2011GL047835.

C. A. Katsman and G. J. van Oldenborgh, 2011: Tracing the upper ocean’s ‘missing heat’. Geophysical Research Letters (in press).

as I have posted on in Additional Information On The “Ocean’s Missing Heat” By Katsman and van Oldenborgh 2011]. 

2. Skeptical Science writes

The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming.

This is easy to show as being wrong. Just look at the lower tropospheric temperature (see) and upper ocean heat  data (see).

Channel TLT Trend Comparison

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present

Skeptical Science can accurately state that the climate system is warmer today than it was several decades ago. However, the weblog is in error in stating that the “most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming”. There has not been warming significantly, if at all,  since 2003, as most everyone on all sides of the climate issue agree. The real world evidence in these two figures document their erroneous statement.

3. Skeptical Science writes

Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.

Unfortunately, the weblog does not define what they mean by “successfully”, however, there is not even good data for the air (e.g. lower troposphere) or oceans back to 1900! Even with the land near surface temperatures, the models are doing quite poorly in comparison to the recent observations; e.g. see

GISTemp: Up during August!

where Lucia writes

The multi-model mean trend since 1980 is outside the ±95% uncertainty intervals computed using “red correction”; these are illustrated with mustard yellow solid and dashed lines. That means we would deem the multi-model mean inconsistent with this observation if we used red-correction (as is frequently done in climate science.)

The shortcomings in the IPCC models is illustrated by reports from what Skeptical Science would presumably call “mainstream”; e.g. see

Insightful Interview In EOS Of Dr. De-Zheng Sun “Climate Dynamics: Why Does Climate Vary?”

A New Paper “Dreary State Of Precipitation In Global Models” By Stephens Et Al 2010

Summary

The failure of Skeptical Science  to present  diverse viewpoints on these issues (and on the others in the posts on Skeptical Science) indicates that their weblog is not balanced in the presentation of the existing research findings in climate science.  John Christy and Roy Spencer are very well-respected climate scientists by most everyone in this science community.

Skeptical Science would do more of a service to the science community if they accurately presented their (and my viewpoints), even when they disagree,  rather than disparage those who disagree with them. As Skeptical Science is currently presenting their information on climate on their weblog, everyone just needs to recognize that the weblog is not presenting all peer reviewed perspectives.

source of image

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Discussion Of The Bottom-Up, Resource-Based Assessment of Vulnerability – “Wells Of Wisdom” By Robert L. Wilby

As we discussed in our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairuku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2011: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. AGU Monograph on Complexity and Extreme Events in Geosciences, in press. 

there is a much more inclusive approach to assess the risk we face in coming decades from climate, and other environmental threats, rather than basing such assessments on the use of multi-decadal global climate (IPCC-type) model predictions that are then downscaled to local and regional areas. There is a new essay that adds significantly to this discussion. It is

Robert L. Wilby, 2011: Adaptation: Wells of wisdom. Nature Climate Change Volume: 1, Pages: 302–303 DOI: doi:10.1038/nclimate1203 Published online 26 August 2011

The abstract reads

Managing climate risks to fresh waters has so far been approached by designing action plans. Now adaptation protocols are integrating knowledge of water-system vulnerabilities into more flexible strategies to keep taps running and ecosystems healthy.

Excerpts from Rob’s article include [highlight added]

Writing in Journal of the American Water Resource Association, Casey Brown and colleagues propose a flexible framework for combining information from climate models with the best features of ‘bottom up’ (or vulnerability-led) approaches to water management.

Water resource managers tend to prefer to plan for a discrete set of futures, whereas climate change scientists bring a
greater a priori acceptance of uncertainty. Thus managers’ scenario-led strategies suppose that climate model projections are sufficiently reliable to make informed investment and planning decisions, placing emphasis on issues of scale and on climate processes that are poorly described in models. This can generate very wide predictions of river flows and lake and groundwater levels, of which the usefulness has been questioned, prompting appeals for greater investment in super-computing and climate modelling.

Brown and colleagues began from a different starting point….Brown and his team developed a management process that could evolve with changing circumstances.

Their first task was to integrate information about regional climate change with stakeholders’ perceptions ofvulnerabilities. For this they organized a series of technical meetings in which stakeholder groups from commercial shipping, coastal systems, hydropower, tourism and so on, met to define ‘coping zones’ in terms of the lake levels that they considered acceptable, survivable and intolerable. These lake levels then served as a common metric against which projections of climate change could be evaluated.

My Comment:   There is a caveat to part of this text.Unfortunately, as we discuss in our Pielke et (2011) paper, there is no demonstrated skill that the multi-decadal regional climate predictions have ANY skill in predicting changes in climate statistics from what already occurred in the historical and recent paleo-record.  This does not mean that changes in these statistics are not occurring, but that we have no skill in such a prediction.

The paper continues

The next step was to work out what regional climate states could tip the system into the less desirable coping zones, allowing the authors to home-in on the climate risk information that is most critical to designing the regulation of water releases into the lake. With reference to the most vulnerable features of the plans, tailored questions could then be asked of climate models about which of these states is more probable than others.

My Comment:  As I wrote above, the multi-decadal regional climate predictions have not shown skill at predicting changes in climate statistics. A more robust approach, as we presented in Pielke et al (2011) is to use the historical record, the paleo-record and worst case sequences of past weather events, but with today’s (and estimates of future) societal conditions.

The article continues

The plans for Lake Superior that result from their work will take the form of a portfolio of adaptation options that are appropriate for a range of conditions. They will be published in March 2012. As conditions change, different plans may
be implemented. Non-climatic drivers of the water balance, such as population growth, economic development, shifting societal priorities or changes in land cover could later alter stakeholders’ definitions of the coping zones, as well as the extent to which the lake levels fluctuate between them. But with an adaptive management process such changes can be incorporated and the regulation plans for the lake adjusted. Monitoring data will keep the plan in line with evolving conditions. Overall, this strategy should avoid ‘lock-in’, whereby future options are limited by earlier decisions.

My Comment: This dynamic approach to adaptation should be encouraged as Rob Wilby succinctly and effectively discusses. This permits adjustment in the response to risk that are periodically reassessed as new information is obtained.

Rob continues

Some experts contest that climate models were not originally conceived to solve adaptation problems and that palaeohydrological evidence could do a better job of testing system performance under extreme conditions that have actually occurred. Others assert that water management is already in crisis in large parts of the developing world, and that the imperative is not uncertainty about the future, but the certainty of present scarcity.

My Comment: I certainly fit into this set of colleagues. I would add the historical and worst case sequence of observed weather events to this list, and not just the “palaeohydrological evidence”.

Final Comment: I welcome Rob Wilby’s excellent essay and look forward to more colleagues joining us and moving towards the bottom-up, resource-based assessment of risks.

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A 4500 Year Assessment Of Hurricane Risk Along the Florida Gulf Coast – Lane Et Al 2011 – A Decadally-Resolved Paleohurricane Record Archived In The Late Holocene Sediments Of A Florida Sinkhole

I was alerted by Phil Lane of  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and MIT to an important new paper on multi-century risk of hurricane landfall along the Florida Gulf coast. The paper is

Lane, P., Donnelly, J.P., Woodruff, J.D., Hawkes, A.D., 2011. A decadally-resolved paleohurricane record archived in the late Holocene sediments of a Florida sinkhole. Marine Geology. v. 287. p. 14-30. doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2011.07.001

The abstract of the paper reads [highlight added]

A 4500-year record of hurricane-induced storm surges is developed from sediment cores collected from a coastal sinkhole near Apalachee Bay, Florida. Recent deposition of sand layers in the upper sediments of the pond was found to be contemporaneous with significant, historic storm surges at the site modeled using SLOSH and the Best Track, post-1851 A.D. dataset. Using the historic portion of the record for calibration, paleohurricane deposits were identified by sand content and dated using radiocarbon-based age models. Marine-indicative foraminifera, some originating at least 5 km offshore, were present in several modern and ancient storm deposits. The presence and long-term preservation of offshore foraminifera suggest that this site and others like it may yield promising microfossil-based paleohurricane reconstructions in the future. Due to the sub-decadal (~7 years) resolution of the record and the site’s high susceptibility to hurricane-generated storm surges, the average, local frequency of recorded events, approximately 3.9 storms per century, is greater than that of previously published paleohurricane records from the region. The high incidence of recorded events permitted a time series of local hurricane frequency during the last five millennia to be constructed. Variability in the frequency of the largest storm layers was found to be greater than what would likely occur by chance alone, with intervals of both anomalously high and low storm frequency identified. However, the rate at which smaller layers were deposited was relatively constant over the last five millennia. This may suggest that significant variability in hurricane frequency has occurred only in the highest magnitude events. The frequency of high magnitude events peaked near 6 storms per century between 2800 and 2300 years ago. High magnitude events were relatively rare with about 0–3 storms per century occurring between 1900 and 1600 years ago and between 400 and 150 years ago. A marked decline in the number of large storm deposits, which began around 600 years ago, has persisted through present with below average frequency over the last 150 years when compared to the preceding five millennia.”

The conclusion includes the text

The Mullet Pond record indicates that the most active interval for tropical cyclones in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico during the late Holocene was 2800 to 2300 cal. yrs. B.P. Large storm deposits were rarely detected between 1900 and 1600 cal. yrs. B.P. and after 400 cal. yrs. B.P. A decline in the number of large storm deposits, which began around 600 years ago, has persisted through present with below average frequency over the last 150 years when compared to the preceding five millennia. However, given the stochastic nature of hurricane landfalls, any trend in basin-wide hurricane frequency during the late 20th century would not be detectable in a single sedimentary record. With an approximately 7-year temporal resolution and a record mean storm frequency of 3.9 events per century, Mullet Pond provides a richer and more detailed archive of storm activity than other existing paleohurricane records.

This is quite an important study. While a long-term trend in basin-wide hurricane frequency cannot be detected from a single location, this data does tell us that significant long-term variations in large-scale circulation features must occur in this region of the world, as such circulations control the path of hurricanes.  This is yet another study which documents the complex temporal variability of the climate system.

source of image

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