Search This Blog

Loading...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cold Winter 2013/14 in United States - "Global warming? What global warming?" (Monckton)

The topic probably seems to be out of place a bit for the ones who live in the Northern Hemisphere, considering the current summer weather outside in many places of it. However, I still have seen it popping up as talking point presented by AGW-"skeptics" at various places. The following quote is exemplary:

"The last U.S. winter colder than this one was in 1911/12, before the First World War.
Thank you, America! Most of Britain has had an unusually mild and wet winter, for you have had more than your fair share of the Northern Hemisphere’s cold weather this season.
Global warming? What global warming?"

(Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, March 26, 2014, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/26/coldest-u-s-winter-in-a-century/)

What global warming? Apparently, it is being suggested that the surface temperatures of the winter 2013/14 were about the same as about 100 years ago, and this would refute global warming. Leaving aside for the moment that it already is scientifically not justified to take the weather pattern of a single season to draw conclusions about the longer-term climate trend, here is the global temperature anomaly and its geographical distribution for the winter (December, January, February) 2013/14 relative to the average winter of the reference period 1951-1980, based on the NASA GISS surface temperature analysis:


Some people may have felt cold in United States during the winter 2013/14. However, the global picture reveals something else. The larger part of the globe had a positive temperature anomaly during this winter compared to the reference period 1951-1980, and the globally averaged temperature anomaly amounted to plus 0.56 deg. C. The temperature anomaly in North America during the high winter season did not even deviate substantially from the average winter temperature of the reference period in a large part of the continent, except for Alaska where it was more than 2 deg. C above the reference period.

Many people in US perceived the winter 2013/14 as cold, because they have not been used any more to an average 20th century winter, due to the warming trend of the recent decades. The following figure shows the geographical distribution of the temperature anomaly for the average winter of the last 20 years compared to the average winter of the reference period 1951-1980:



Now, how does the winter of the year 1911/1912, which was mentioned by Monckton as pretext to deny global warming, looks like in comparison? Here is the geographical distribution of the surface temperature anomaly, again relative to the average winter of the reference period 1951-1980:


It looks very different to the winter 2013/2014. Whereas the winter surface temperatures 2013/2014 in United States were a regional cold anomaly within a generally warmer planet, the surface temperatures of winter 1911/1912 in United States do not stand out compared to the rest of the world. The anomaly is small relative to the reference period again, but large parts of the globe were colder during that winter than the average winter of the reference period. Thus it rather was relatively warmer in the United States than in many other parts of the planet, with respect to the magnitude of the anomaly. The globally averaged temperature anomaly relative to the average winter of 1951-1980 amounts to -0.45 deg. C.

Climate change is a change in the statistical properties of climate variables between different time periods, i.e., a change in the average of a variable (e.g., of temperature, precipitation, sea level, sea ice extend, etc.) or a change in other statistical moments (e.g., variance) of the variable over a time period, which should be sufficiently long. Data from only single years do not allow any conclusions whether climate has changed. This would be just weather, which can be quite variable from one year to the next. Therefore, I am going to show next how the average winter changed from the 29-year period 1881-1910 (it starts with winter 1881/1882 and ends with winter 1909/1910) to the 29-year period 1985-2014:


Here we have the global warming, denied by Monckton. The globally averaged increase in the winter surface temperature is 0.78 deg. C between the two 29-year periods. There has been a general surface temperature increase which is nearly global over the last century, with some regional exceptions. The magnitude of the temperature increase is not globally uniform. The Northern Hemisphere has warmed more than the Southern Hemisphere on average. There is an Arctic amplification, with the surface warming amounting to more than 4 deg. C in some Arctic regions. Land areas have warmed more than ocean areas on average. I have to mention a caveat here. The graphic presentation does not show, where the temperature change between the two time periods is statistically significant. There are likely some regions where it is not.

In short, any claims that the colder winter 2013/2014 in United States refuted global warming taken place over the last century are absolutely baseless.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rossiter, Delingpole, "Climate McCarthyism", and Conservative Hypocrisy

The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) is a Washington, DC, based progressive political think tank. According to its self-description:

"IPS is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. We work with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power."
(http://www.ips-dc.org/about)

Thus, they are not an academic research institution. They are an advocacy group with a political mission. Like the conservative Heartland Institute or the Heritage Foundation, but from another side of the political spectrum.

Experts from various fields, relevant for the political mission of IPS support the IPS as "Associate Fellows":

"Associate Fellows are scholars who share their expertise with IPS through one of the institute's projects or program areas. IPS Associate Fellows represent some of the country's leading progressive leaders in a variety of areas from inequality, climate justice, foreign policy, and many others. Most work on a volunteer basis unless dedicated funds are raised for their work. Associate Fellows are invited or sponsored by an IPS project director to collaborate with the institute for one-year, renewable terms."
(http://www.ips-dc.org/about/assoc_fellows)

Thus, the relationships between Associate Fellows and the IPS are not relationships of employment. Instead, they are relationships of collaboration on a volunteer basis, usually without any financial compensation. The Associate Fellows are employed somewhere else, if they are employed.

Caleb S. Rossiter, Adjunct Professor with the School of International Service of American University, teaches "courses on African history and politics, U.S. foreign policy and research methods (with a focus on the use and misuse of statistics and models in the climate change debate)" according to his self-description. Obviously he does not work in climate research, he is not an academic expert on climate science. He is a layman in this field. Caleb Rossiter was one of the IPS's Associate Fellows. Until about a month ago.

Caleb S. Rossiter published an article in the Wall Street Journal on May 5, 2014, where he publicly expressed views on economical and political strategies, which apparently do not agree with the ones of IPS, combined with some ignorant claims about climate science, climate modeling, and climate change. Two days later, IPS decided to cut its ties with Caleb Rossiter. They do not want him as Associate Fellow anymore, because his and their views were not compatible anymore (Screen shot of email as published at Climate Depot):


The article in the Wall Street Journal may have been the point where IPS drew the line. However, when I saw Rossiter's rhetoric at his "Climate Change" blog, e.g., against the scientific knowledge presented in the reports of the IPCC, which are written by leading international experts on climate science who work and publish in the field (not by governments, contrary to what Rossiter claims), his conspiracy ideation about the IPCC, or his baseless attack against renowned climate scientist James Hansen, former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he likely had it coming for a little bit longer already. I also wonder why Rossiter, with his contrary views, would even want to work with a think tank like the IPS.

Considering the facts above, one could think not much has really happened. A collaborative relationship between a political advocacy group and an individual has been dissolved due to political incompatibility. It happens. Like divorce of a marriage because of sexual incompatibility. Something that is not really worth it on which to spend much time in the news.

Caleb S. Rossiter seems to display himself in this affair as a victim of evil censorship, though, according to Climate Depot:

"If people ever say that fears of censorship for ‘climate change’ views are overblown, have them take a look at this: Just two days after I published a piece in the Wall Street Journal calling for Africa to be allowed the ‘all of the above’ energy strategy we have in the U.S., the Institute for Policy Studies terminated my 23-year relationship with them…because my analysis and theirs ‘diverge.’"

This is just ridiculous. Is he prevented from speaking out freely anywhere, because IPS does not want to work with him anymore? Certainly not. It is like a guy is complaining about censorship, because his girlfriend dumped him. One thing does not have anything to do with the other one.

Equally ridiculous is the spin in the AGW denier blogosphere. There, the affair is displayed as a case of "Climate McCarthyism", like in an article by James Delingpole on the right wing Internet news outlet Breitbart, followed by more than 2400 comments, still counting, largely filled with whining and ranting by the conservative audience about "oppression of free speech", "liberal tyranny", and other absurdities, which may be a good basis for some psychological case studies about the mindset of many conservatives, e.g., to what degree this mindset is governed by absurd conspiracy fantasies or psychological mechanisms like projection.

Now, pretending to take all these crocodile tears seriously for a moment, which are displayed at Breitbart, regarding the allegedly oppressed free speech and the alleged lack of tolerance, one would have to conclude it would be logical then to welcome a climate scientist who has some knowledge on climate topics, even if his informed views counter the views of most of the audience at Breitbart News Network. Reality, as one really should expect, looks quite differently, though:






And finally:


What Irony. As much for free speech and tolerance on the side of conservatives and AGW deniers, once more, regarding views that are not in agreement with their party line, even if these views are coming from someone who is informed. It is the same pattern again and again. Many conservatives, including their opinion outlets, seem to be afraid of informed dissent, facts, and science.

Friday, January 31, 2014

No "hiatus" (pause/stop) in global ocean warming up to year 2013

Although much of the public focus regarding global warming is on the temperature increase near Earth's surface, the Arctic sea ice decrease, global glacier retreat or other phenomena at the surface, which are more visible to the human eye, from a point of view of physics, the heating up of the oceans is the most important factor regarding the changes in the energy balance of the Earth system. About 90% of the energy accumulation due to the perturbation in the radiative balance at the top of the atmosphere, caused by the increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, is taking place in the oceans[1]. The importance of the oceans arises from their capability to store an enormous amount of heat due to the high specific heat capacity of water combined with the large mass of water in the oceans. To put things in perspective, the heat increase related to warming up only the upper most 3.5 meters of the global ocean body by x degrees is sufficient to warm up the whole mass of the atmosphere by about the same amount of x degrees.

Monitoring the oceans gives crucial information about the ongoing climate change in the Earth system. Following figure shows the global average of the annually averaged temperature anomaly in the oceans between the surface and three different depths, 0-100 meters, 0-700 meters, and 0-2000 meters over time, based on data provided by Ocean Climate Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The figure includes the year 2013 as the most recent data point. The colored shadings show the standard error of the data times two. The black lines display local regression (Loess) fits with the 95% confidence intervals of the fits as grey shadings. The graphic was created using the package ggplot2[2] of the statistical computing and graphics environment R.
 
(Data source: NOAA/NESDIS/NODC Ocean Climate Laboratory,  http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/)

A few things can be see in the figure:

1. The temperature increase, which is visible in the oceans for the average over 100, 700, and 2000 meters depth since the mid 1970s is largest in the upper most 100 meters and becomes smaller with adding deeper layers to the averaging. The perturbation of the energy balance comes from the top and takes decades to penetrate into deeper layers of the oceans.

2. The temperature increase has been nearly linear for the average over the upper most 100 meters depth for the last decades, amounting to about 0.07 Kelvin per decade. To put things in perspective again, the same amount of heat related to this average temperature increase in those 100 meters would increase the average temperature of the whole atmospheric mass by about 2 Kelvin per decade. Luckily for humankind, most of this accumulated heat will not warm up the atmosphere, but penetrate into the deeper layers of the oceans. The exact amount of atmospheric warming in the next decades and centuries will depend on how efficiently heat accumulated in the upper layers of the oceans is being sequestered into the deeper layers of the oceans.

3. Because of this quasi linearity of the temperature increase in the upper most 100 meters, one can conclude that the increase has been accelerating between a depth of 100 and 700 meters. It is not possible to conclude whether an acceleration is present between 700 and 2000 meters depth, since the acceleration seen for the average over 2000 meters depth could come from the acceleration in the layer between 100 and 700 meters.

4. The globally averaged ocean temperature anomaly in the upper most 100 meters shows large interannual variability. The temperature swings can amount to about 0.2 Kelvin within a few years, for example between the years 1998 and 2004.

5. No "hiatus" of the ocean warming is visible in the new century for any of the temperature averages over the various depths. The confidence interval for the upper most 100 meters allows for some lowering of the temperature increase after the year 2005 with a low probability (but equally for some acceleration of the temperature anomaly).

In recent years, the talk has been a lot about the fraction of the energy sequestered into the deep and abyssal layers of the oceans (the so called "missing heat"). In my opinion, there has been some misdirection in the talk about the consequences of this regarding global warming at the surface. The argument has been put forward that concerns about global warming were exaggerated, since the deep oceans interacted with the atmosphere only on long time scales and the heat sequestered into the deep oceans was not coming back to the surface. However, it should be clear from the above that the heat accumulated in the deep oceans is not needed for continuing global warming at the surface and of the lower atmosphere. There is plenty of accumulated heat around in the upper layers of the oceans, which interact with the atmosphere on much shorter time scales, particularly the layers of the oceans which are above the thermocline in the oceans. The amount of heat accumulated in the upper layers of the oceans is more than sufficient for global warming at the surface and in the troposphere to continue for the decades ahead. This heat accumulation has not stopped and it will not stop as long as the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing unabated due to human activities.

[1] Trenberth, K. E. and Fasullo, J. T. (2013), An apparent hiatus in global warming? Earth's Future. doi: 10.1002/2013EF000165.
[2] Wickham, H. (2009). ggplot2: Elegant graphics for data analysis. Springer New York,  http://had.co.nz/ggplot2/book.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The story of my visit at Bob Tisdale's blog "Climate Observations"

Bob Tisdale is a little bit a strange fellow. He has a very odd belief that global warming, including the one of the oceans is caused by the El Nino-La Nina (or ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation) cycle. El Nino is characterized by a strong ocean heat and sea surface temperature anomaly in the Central and Eastern equatorial Pacific ocean. La Nina is the counterpart, characterized by a negative heat and sea surface temperature anomaly. The equatorial Pacific produces El Ninos and La Ninas every few years, with global reach through the atmospheric circulation, leading to temperature and precipitation anomalies even in remote regions of the planet, mediated through so called teleconnections. Sometimes warm or cold phases occurs in a row only interrupted by neutral conditions. It is a major mode of internal chaotic variability in the ocean-atmosphere system. Bob Tisdale understands as much. However, he does not seem to understand that El Nino-La Nina cannot generate by itself a global ocean warming trend, because the ocean does not heat itself. A net influx of energy into the oceans is needed to cause a secular warming trend of the whole body of ocean water. The energy must come from somewhere. Bob Tisdale cannot explain where it comes from. The axiom here is, like for all the AGW-"skeptics", global (ocean) warming cannot, never ever, be caused by the radiation effect of increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gases. All the arguments are built around this axiom.

This figure (added to the post after original posting) shows the increase in the ocean heat content since 1955, for which needs to be explained what the energy source for all the heating of the   oceans is:

I paid a visit at Bob Tisdale's blog, because I accidentally had seen that he had written and published on his blog an open letter to Daily Show host Jon Stewart who had made fun of AGW-denialism (here and here). After introducing himself, what an important personality he was, in the AGW-denial blogosphere, who even publishes at such an important blog as wattsupwiththat, Bob Tisdale explained to Jon Stewart how utterly wrong established climate science was regarding anthropogenic global warming.

Well, I had had the impression before that Bob Tisdale was someone among the AGW-"skeptics" with whom one at least could talk and who is able to maintain civility, damn was I wrong. What a bully and jerk, filled with delusions of grandeur, and at the same time with the need of getting reassured from his comrades. He very quickly started to show the usual reaction of fake skeptics, when they are losing the argument. He resorted to ad hominem attacks and other evasion tactics. Apparently, when he felt that the lack of physical soundness in his "theory" was pointed out too much and confronted with the inconvenient reality of empirical data, it turned out he is just another one who can't take it when he is being contradicted:
 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An independent confirmation of global land warming, not using temperatures from meteorological stations

It has been hypothesized in some scientific publications (e.g., Pielke et al, JGRA, 2007, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229) and sometimes outright asserted (by AGW "skeptics" or in some media outlets; e.g., here, here, and here) that temperature analyses like GISTEMP, HadCRUT, or NCDC were not reliable, and the global warming, seen in these analyses over the last century, using direct temperature measurements from meteorological stations was largely just an artefact of faulty measurements, data adjustments (homogenization), the urban heat island effect, and other factors.

Gilbert P. Compo, Prashant D. Sardeshmukh, Jeffrey S. Whitaker, Philip Brohan, Philip D. Jones, and Chesley McColl have just published a new study (for the abstract: Compo et al., GRL, 2013, doi:10.1002/grl.50425), where the land near surface air temperature is derived using a state-of-the-art data assimilation system (20th Century Reanalysis). The temperature is calculated from other variables (surface pressure) and parameters in the reanalysis. The measured land surface air temperature is not part of the input data. Thus, any possible contamination of the measured land near surface air temperature by other factors than the state of the atmosphere does not have any effect on the land near surface temperatures calculated in the reanalysis system. The correlation between the land near surface temperature, calculated from other variables in the data assimilation system, and the land near surface temperature data series, derived using direct measurements over land is very high. This increases the confidence in that the statistically significant global warming trend of the atmosphere near the surface, seen in the GISTEMP, HadCRUT, or NCDC analyses over the last century is real, and those data sets can be used as reliable references for other scientific analyses.

  



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

American Geophysical Union's statement on human-induced climate change

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has revised and reaffirmed its position on climate change caused by human activities, which was adopted for the first time in the year 2003. Position statements like this by the AGU expire after four years, unless it is reaffirmed. I personally agree with this statement. Here, I document the text:

"Human-induced climate change requires urgent action.

Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.

'Human activities are changing Earth’s climate. At the global level, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases have increased sharply since the Industrial Revolution. Fossil fuel burning dominates this increase. Human-caused increases in greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed global average surface warming of roughly 0.8°C (1.5°F) over the past 140 years. Because natural processes cannot quickly remove some of these gases (notably carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere, our past, present, and future emissions will influence the climate system for millennia.

Extensive, independent observations confirm the reality of global warming. These observations show large-scale increases in air and sea temperatures, sea level, and atmospheric water vapor; they document decreases in the extent of mountain glaciers, snow cover, permafrost, and Arctic sea ice. These changes are broadly consistent with long-understood physics and predictions of how the climate system is expected to respond to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases. The changes are inconsistent with explanations of climate change that rely on known natural influences.

Climate models predict that global temperatures will continue to rise, with the amount of warming primarily determined by the level of emissions. Higher emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to larger warming, and greater risks to society and ecosystems. Some additional warming is unavoidable due to past emissions.

Climate change is not expected to be uniform over space or time. Deforestation, urbanization, and particulate pollution can have complex geographical, seasonal, and longer-term effects on temperature, precipitation, and cloud properties. In addition, human-induced climate change may alter atmospheric circulation, dislocating historical patterns of natural variability and storminess.

In the current climate, weather experienced at a given location or region varies from year to year; in a changing climate, both the nature of that variability and the basic patterns of weather experienced can change, sometimes in counterintuitive ways -- some areas may experience cooling, for instance. This raises no challenge to the reality of human-induced climate change.

Impacts harmful to society, including increased extremes of heat, precipitation, and coastal high water are currently being experienced, and are projected to increase. Other projected outcomes involve threats to public health, water availability, agricultural productivity (particularly in low-latitude developing countries), and coastal infrastructure, though some benefits may be seen at some times and places. Biodiversity loss is expected to accelerate due to both climate change and acidification of the oceans, which is a direct result of increasing carbon dioxide levels.

While important scientific uncertainties remain as to which particular impacts will be experienced where, no uncertainties are known that could make the impacts of climate change inconsequential. Furthermore, surprise outcomes, such as the unexpectedly rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice, may entail even more dramatic changes than anticipated.

Actions that could diminish the threats posed by climate change to society and ecosystems include substantial emissions cuts to reduce the magnitude of climate change, as well as preparing for changes that are now unavoidable. The community of scientists has responsibilities to improve overall understanding of climate change and its impacts. Improvements will come from pursuing the research needed to understand climate change, working with stakeholders to identify relevant information, and conveying understanding clearly and accurately, both to decision makers and to the general public.'

Adopted by the American Geophysical Union December 2003; Revised and Reaffirmed December 2007, February 2012, August 2013."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Emerging new El Nino?

There has been some interesting development in the equatorial subsurface temperatures in the Pacific for the last two months. The positive temperature anomaly, which has been dominant in the upper 300 meters of the equatorial water body of the Western Pacific has spread eastward. Now we have a positive subsurface anomaly over the whole longitude range from 130E to 100 W. Only the far Eastern Pacific still shows a negative anomaly.






















(Source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf, pg. 11)

The last model simulations are from June 2013. Most of the models predicted ENSO neutral conditions through 2013 back then.





















(Source: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf, pg. 26)

I am curious what the new model simulations, initialized with updated input data are going to say.

If one looks at the table of cold and warm episodes of ENSO, there has not been any period longer than four years from the end of an El Nino to the start of the following El Nino, going back to the year 1950. We are in the third year since the end of the last El Nino episode now. If it does not happen this year a new El Nino really will be due next year. Otherwise it would be unusual, if none occured compared to the frequency of occurrence for the period between 1950 and present.