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2014 SkS Weekly Digest #12

Posted on 23 March 2014 by John Hartz

SkS Highlights

The final two installments of Bob Lacatena's detailed account of the hack of the SkS website in early 2012 were posted during the past week. They are: A Hack By Any Other Name — Part 6 and A Hack By Any Other Name — Part 7 . If you haven't had the time to read all seven posts, you should definitely peruse Part 7 because it very nicely ties everything up. 

Toon of the Week

 2014 Toon 12

 h/t to I Heart Climate Scientists

Quote of the Week

“We haven’t seen glaciers in the Rocky Mountains or the interior of British Columbia as small in several thousand years,” he* said. “They are rapidly converging on a configuration we haven’t seen in the record for a number of years.”

*Mike Demuth, research scientist and glaciologist with Natural Resources Canada

Glaciers in Western Canada still receding despite cold, snow by Colette Derworiz, Calgary Herald, Mar 16, 2014

SkS in the News

Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature (John Cook et al, Environmental Research Letters) is referenced and linked to in:

The SkS article, Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature is linked to twice by Eric Zuesse in his article, Republicans Confident About Their Ignorance of Global Warming posted on  

In his skcd xkcd blog post, What if? Soda Sequestration Brandon Seah Randall Munroe links to the SkS article, Comparing emissions to CO2

The SkS rebuttal article, Is there a scientific consensus on global warming?, is referenced and linked to in:

SkS Spotlights

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest non-government general science membership organization and the executive publisher of Science, a leading scientific journal.

Its mission is “advance science for the benefit of all people.” Its goals include providing a voice for science on societal issues and promoting the responsible use of science in public policy. There may be no more pressing issue intersecting science and society than climate change and the What We Know initiative was born in response to that reality.

The What We Know initiative is dedicated to ensuring that three “R’s” of climate change communicated to the public.

  • The first is Reality — 97% of climate experts have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening.
  • The second is Risk — that the reality of climate change means that there are climate change impacts we can expect, but we also must consider what might happen, especially the small, but real, chance that we may face abrupt changes with massively disruptive impacts.
  • The third R is Response — that there is much we can do and that the sooner we respond, the better off we will be.

The What We Know initiative will include outreach to scientists, economists, community leaders, policy makers and the public at large over the following months via meetings and media outreach.

To guide the What We Know initiative, AAAS convened a group of prominent experts in climate science to address the fact that many Americans still erroneously believe that the scientific community is divided on the issue and that Americans are largely unaware of the full spectrum of climate risks – both what is likely to happen and what might happen — that human-caused climate change presents to Americans now and in the future. 

SkS Week in Review 

Coming Soon on SkS

  • CSLDF Fundraiser (Scott Mandia)
  • Pielke downplays climate damages on FiveThirtyEight, misrepresents his own research (Dana, Albatross, & ThingsBreak)
  • The Carbon Bubble - Unburnable Fossil Fuels - Seminar (Andy Skuce)
  • Honey, I mitigated climate change (Ari Jokimaki)
  • Climate Models Show Remarkable Agreement with Recent Surface Warming (Rob Painting)
  • 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #13 (John Hartz)

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Comments 1 to 12:

  1. Mauna Loa--March 22 - 399.98ppm--So barely over a degree below 400, not enough to of set 6 days mostly well above that number. So the last week's official average is above 400 for the first time this year and only the second time in history (and for millions of years before history started, iirc): " Week beginning on March 16, 2014: 400.76 ppm "

    News worthy??

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  2. I think you meant 'xkcd' and not 'sckd'. If so, then you probably meant "Randall Munroe" instead of "Brandon Seah" (who is Brandon Seah anyway?).

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  3. icefest @2, Brandon Seah is the person who asked a question of Randall Munroe, which Randall Munroe then answered in the post linked to above. 

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  4. California, which has been in the news for its warm and dry winter, had an overall average temperature of 48F from December to February. According to NCDC, this was about 4.5F above average and the hottest winter by 2F since records began in 1895. NCDC

    What's very concerning is a winter like this could become more typical by late century even if our emissions are kept from passing 500 ppm. In a higher emissions scenario,
    in which CO2 concentration reaches 500 ppm by mid-century and reaches 800-900 ppm by late century, California can expect an average year to be at least 3F warmer than this one by late century. EPA  When the average temperature increases by that much, you can expect water to be a severe issue even in years with normal rainfall, as mountain snow-pack will retreat and evaporation will increase.

    In other words, even by late this century the southern Central Valley could approach the environment depicted in the cartoon.

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  5. icefest & Tom Curtis:

    The errors you pointed out have been corrected. Thank you for bringing them to our attetnion.

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  6. Dave,

    When I went to the NCDC website I found that California was only 0.8F (!) higher than the previous warmest winter.  Since these records are usually broken by 0.1 degree, that is a significant record.

    I have only seen one mention of the record heat in California in the mainstream media.  The cold, which was typical weather 50 years ago, is widely reported as record cold, even though no records were set.  This is the problem we face with global warming: the media only reports what fossil fuel companies want people to hear.

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  7. It may just be coincidence, but a lot of media like to use the 'hottest', 'coldest', 'wettest', 'driest' line with monotonous regularity. But they are not usually talking about actual records being broken; they are 'hottest' or 'coldest' in 50 yrs or 20 yrs or however long it was since the last time it was that 'hot' or 'cold'. Could be interesting to see if this is more commonplace within media outlets that play up the denial and doubt although for a lot of media content it is just poor quality. Ultimately it diminishes the perceptions people have of real records being broken. Whilst the science on climate depends on accurate information, action on climate depends on public perceptions and this misuse of these superlatives muddies public perceptions in a subtle but influential way.

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  8. A good article about recent landslide event near Arlington WA, (over SR530 - the road I used to travel very often) can be arguably linked to AGW. That's the dry winter followed by very wet early spring: 7.14 inches of rain has fallen this month, well above the normal of 4.57 inches, undoutedly contributed to the hill instability.

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  9. Michael Sweet: Yes, you are correct. Thanks for checking my numbers! I must have been accidentally looking at January-February when I wrote 2F warmer than any other winter. For those 2 months, there is one previous winter (1986) I overlooked that was within 1.2F of this year's January-February.

    I did see a few articles over the past couple of months in the LA Times referring to the warm temperatures (one on rattlesnakes coming out early and another on struggling ski resorts). But I take your point about where the media focus has been, and that when they cover California, it's mainly been on the lack of precipitation. I'll assert that, assuming no change in precipitation (it's projected to generally decrease), warmer years by several degrees in California will generally promote more frequent and intense drought conditions.

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  10. Michael Sweet @6, it is not strictly true that no cold records were set.  For individual stations, over the 365 days to March 22nd, in general cold records outnumbered warm records.  That is misleading if we only look at the number of records, however, for in all time records, warm records outnumbered cold records 4.2 to 1, it what is acknowledged as a cold year relative to the recent record.  The actual data are:

    Period ending 22th/3/2014
    All Time_________188_______________45_________4.18

    (Note, data updates daily, so linked data will not correspond with data shown after 25th)

    In general, there will be 30 daily records per montly record, and 12 montly record per all time record.  The actual ratios over the last 365 days are 21.74 eaily records per montly record, and 20.9 montly record per all time record.  Because daily records are far more common than all time records, it is the all time records that are most significant.

    Further, these are records for individual stations.  Divisional, State, and Regional records (in that order), are far more significant than those for individual stations.  In that respect, California set an all time warm record for the winter season, while no state set an all time cold record to my knowledge.

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  11. Tom,

    You are correct, I wrote in haste.  I should have said no significant cold records in the CONUS.  There were no monthly cold records.  There were no record cold winters set. The only significant record set was the hottest winter in California. I have not even heard of any individual cities that set cold records longer than a few days.  

    DAK: We agree that it was exceptionally hot (I wonder why) in California last winter.  As you said, the record for hottest winter was shattered.  Since drought and heat feed off each other, it will be interesting to see how hot it is in California this summer.

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  12. Here is a map from NOAA Western Regional Climate Center that shows temperature anomalies for the California 2014 winter. One picture says it all. Here is the URL for a larger version.

    California 2014 winter temperature anomaly

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