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2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #37A

Posted on 10 September 2013 by John Hartz

  • A climate alarm, too muted for some
  • Arctic sea ice delusions strike the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph
  • Coping with climate change in Greenland
  • Examining the recent slow-down in global warming
  • Global cooling? London newspapers having a row over climate change in the Arctic
  • Here comes the story of no hurricanes
  • Our fossil-fueled future: world energy in 2040
  • Scientists studying solar radiation management
  • The President and the pipeline
  • Warming climate begins to taint Europe's blood
  • We are underestimating climate change and underfunding innovation
  • West Nile virus season to last longer as climate changes

A climate alarm, too muted for some

This month, the world will get a new report from a United Nations panel about the science of climate change. Scientists will soon meet in Stockholm to put the finishing touches on the document, and behind the scenes, two big fights are brewing.

A Climate Alarm, Too Muted for Some by Justin Gillis, New York Times, Sep 9, 2013

Arctic sea ice delusions strike the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph

When it comes to climate science reporting, the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph are only reliable in the sense that you can rely on them to usually get the science wrong. This weekend's Arctic sea ice articles from David Rose of the Mail and Hayley Dixon at the Telegraph unfortunately fit that pattern.

Arctic sea ice delusions strike the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph by Dana Nuccitelli, The Climate Consensus-the 97%, The Guardian, Sep 9, 2013

Coping with climate change in Greenland

“When you’ve been living here (Greenland) a long time, you really notice the change,’’ said singer Nive Nielsen, 34. “There’s a huge difference from when I was a child. We used to have so much snow we could pretty much sink in it when we jumped off bridges and stuff. Games we would play when we were kids seem impossible now.

“Even hunters or people who live off the land, they’re often out and then they’ll point at stuff and tell me where there used to be a huge glacier and it’s all gone,” Nielsen said. “It’s crazy how much it’s changed.”

Coping with Climate Change by Nancy San Martin, Miami Herald, Sep 7, 2013 

Examining the recent slow-down in global warming

With upcoming release of IPCC Fifth Assessment Reports beginning late in September, there will be a sharp focus on specific issues like projected sea-level rise but also on broader issues like climate sensitivity and the decade-and-a-half-long slow-down in the rate of overall warming. Let’s begin by examining that slow-down in depth, and just what is involved in taking Earth’s temperature … 

Examining the Recent Slow-Down in Global Warming by Zeke Hausfather, The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, Sep 10, 2013

Global cooling? London newspapers having a row over climate change in the Arctic

The kerfuffle over climate change is heating up anew thanks to relatively cooler temperatures atop the globe that have resulted in a lot more sea ice this summer than last.

Warming skeptics are ballyhooing the turnaround, with the tabloid conservative newspaper The Daily Mail on Sunday screaming, "And now it's global COOLING!" and U.K.'s right-wing Telegraph publishing a similar article.

The pieces rocketed across the Internet, but many say the change is a one-year reversal in line with long-term warming trends. While the Arctic sea ice in August stretched farther than it did 12 months ago, it remained hundreds of thousands of square miles below the long-term average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center(NSIDC).

Global cooling? London newspapers having a row over climate change in the Arctic by Alex DeMarban, Alaska Dispatch, Sep 9, 2013

Here comes the story of no hurricanes

From a PR standpoint, it was surely an ingenious idea: Let’s name hurricanes after leading members of Congress who deny that humans are causing global warming! That’s the gist of the “Climate Name Change” campaign that launched last month, and the promotional video has already garnered over 2 million YouTube views.

There’s just one problem: Thus far this season, the hurricanes haven’t shown up. In fact, the dearth of hurricane-strength Atlantic storms up until now, despite blockbuster pre-season forecasts, counts as downright mysterious. “We’ve never seen this level of inactivity with the ocean conditions out there now,” says meteorologist Jeff Masters, who is co-founder of Weather Underground, a popular meteorological website. There has even been speculation that 2013 might rival 2002, a year in which the first hurricane of the season didn’t form until Sept. 11.

Here comes the story of no hurricanes by Chris Mooney, Grist, Sep 7, 2013

Our fossil-fueled future: world energy in 2040 

What sort of fabulous new energy systems will the world possess in 2040?  Which fuels will supply the bulk of our energy needs?  And how will that change the global energy equation, international politics, and the planet’s health?  If the experts at the U.S. Department of Energy are right, the startling “new” fuels of 2040 will be oil, coal, and natural gas -- and we will find ourselves on a baking, painfully uncomfortable planet.

It’s true, of course, that any predictions about the fuel situation almost three decades from now aren’t likely to be reliable.  All sorts of unexpected upheavals and disasters in the years ahead make long-range predictions inherently difficult.  This has not, however, deterred the Department of Energy from producing a comprehensive portrait of the world’s future energy system.  Known as the International Energy Outlook (IEO), the assessment incorporates detailed projections of future energy production and consumption.  Although dense with statistical data and filled with technical jargon, the 2013 report provides a unique and disturbing picture of our planetary future.

Our Fossil-Fueled Future: World Energy in 2040 by Michael Klare, The Huffington Post, Sep 10, 2013

Scientists studying solar radiation management

The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, a volcano in the Philippines, blasted enough fine particles and sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere to envelop the Earth in a high-altitude cloud for the better part of two months. When scientists checked in 1992, they determined that the cloud had deflected enough sunlight to cool the planet by about 1 degree.

Now, with the planet warming inexorably and the threat of long-term climate change looming, some experts are wondering whether the time may one day come when humans want to deliberately attempt such “solar radiation management.” The idea is being investigated by, among others, the National Academy of Sciences, which is conducting research funded by the CIA, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The academy has invited experts to discuss the idea Tuesday.

Scientists studying solar radiation management as a way to cool planet by Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post, Sep 8, 2013

The President and the pipeline

The campaign to make the Keystone XL the test of Obama’s resolve on climate change.

The President and the pipeline by Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, Sep 16, 2013

Warming climate begins to taint Europe's blood

A whole new set of ungovernable pathogens are being loosed on the world's blood supplies. A warming climate has allowed blood-borne tropical diseases to flourish where once they were unheard of, and they're getting around.

Warming Climate Begins to Taint Europe's Blood by Erica West, ClimateWire, Scientific American, Sep 10, 2013

We are underestimating climate change and underfunding innovation

Sustainability has become a race between two kinds of destruction. The destructive power of a changing climate reduces our economic activity and forces us to divert available funds toward remediation and repair, threatening our ability to incubate and fund 'creative destruction', first named by Joseph Schumpeter. Creative destruction replaces the old and unsustainable with new products, services and processes of greater value.

By destroying what we have already built and forcing us to repair or write off old infrastructure, natural disasters undermine our ability to invest in the future. The increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters that climate change is causing threaten the innovation we so desperately need.

We are underestimating climate change and underfunding innovation by Alison Kemper and Roger Martin, Guardian Sustainable Business blog, The Guardian, Sep 9, 2013

West Nile Virus Season to Last Longer as Climate Changes

Warm weather brings ice cream, beach days, and other joys of summer but it also brings the incessant buzz of mosquitoes. While a number of mosquitoes will bite and leave little more than a red welt, others, especially in the southern half of the U.S., can transmit West Nile virus, which can cause potentially lethal West Nile fever, encephalitis and meningitis. New research provides doses of good and bad news about how a changing climate will affect the southern house mosquito, which is the main mosquito that transmits West Nile across the southern tier of the U.S.. 

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examines how changes in temperature and precipitation by mid-century could affect the mosquito, and by extension, the length and severity of West Nile virus season.

West Nile Virus Season to Last Longer as Climate Changes by Brian Kahn, Climate Central, Sep 9, 2013

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Printable Version  |  Link to this page


Comments 1 to 6:

  1. A technical question:

    this link here:

    lead me to an admin page. Why?

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Link Fixed, Thanks for bringing this to our attention. 

  2. forgot: it was from here:

    "Here comes the story of no hurricanes"

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  3. Here's a myth to add to your list:


    There is an upper bound on global warming from water vapor condensation effects, when water evaporates from the surface it takes a lot of energy with it, when the water vapor condenses into droplets at high altitude it releases that thermal energy as long wave radiation. Because the condensation takes place at relatively high altitude the thermal energy released has an easier time escaping because a large portion of the greenhouse gasses that reflect long wave radiation are below the condensation layer.

    Because of this energy convection effect so long as Earth has surface water to evaporate and condense at high altitude there is a limit to how warm the surface can get."

    Posted by: Allen W. McDonnell | September 09, 2013 at 18:36


    I've seen variations on this arguments articulated elsewhere, so it seems to be one that has some circulation. It seems to overlook the fact the water vapor itself is a GHG, so the fact that there is more of it in the atmosphere is going to "limit the limit" that is proposed here. But I'm sure you folks can find other ways this argument falls down or states only a small part of the truth in such a way as to be misleading.

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  4. There's plenty of discussion out there on the point.  Schneider and Trenberth dribble this football quite a bit.  The topic gets talked about in different spots at SkS, but I don't think there's a solid article on it.  Maybe Colose or SoD could do a guest post on it.  Trenberth did a rather plain English summary a few years ago, but I can't find it.

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  5. wili@3:  I may be totally off base here, but I'll hazard a guess.  If CO2 warms the atmosphere, it holds more water vapor.  That doesn't mean it evaporates more water vapor off the Earth's surface, just that it can hold more.  Of course, there's the matter of the energy imbalance, yet that is quite small as a fraction of the total values of solar energy and Earth radiation.  So, there might be a smidge more actual evaporation going on, but (I'm guessing) just a smidge.  In that case, there would be little to no actual increase in condensation either (mass balance).  If true, then why would evaporation/condensation increase its surface 'cooling effect' in a globally warmed world?  Yes, the cycle is kind of a heat-pump, but why would this heat-pump become more efficient in the future as a 'negative feedback' to AGW?  (this is different from saying the kinds of cloud cover might change to favor clouds that cool rather than warm).

    It's often mentioned that precipitation patterns will change with AGW.  More droughts expected, but also more flooding when rain does fall.  However, I don't think the amount of evaporation/condensation going on is supposed to shift greatly, on a global basis.  I'll admit I'm guessing here, but if so perhaps others can correct me.

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  6. ubrew12 @5.
    As you sort of suggest, the changing pattern of precipitation under AGW is more defined than whether or not total global precipitation will increase.

    The links are to AR4, since when we have had five more years to add to the record which have included the two rainiest years on record. So it will be interesting to see what AR5 has to say on the matter.

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