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2015 SkS Weekly News Roundup #16B

Posted on 18 April 2015 by John Hartz

2015 hottest year to date, could top 2014 record

By the reckoning of the three main agencies that track global temperature, 2015 has so far been the warmest year in more than a century. Coming immediately after the hottest year on record, the ranking serves as a reminder of how much the globe’s overall temperature has risen thanks to the ever-growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

With the year only a quarter through, it’s difficult to say definitively how 2015 as a whole will turn out. But with an El Niño event currently in place that could help keep temperatures at record or near-record levels for the remainder of the year, 2015 may be poised to eclipse 2014’s newly minted record, though climate scientists are cautious on such pronouncements.

Land & Ocean Temperature Departure from Average: Jan-Mar 2015

How surface temperatures around the world varied from the 20th century average over the period from January to March 2015. Credit: NOAA

“We expect that we are going to get more warm years, and just as with 2014, records will be broken increasingly in the future. But perhaps not every year,” said Gavin Schmidt, who leads NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies.

2015 Hottest Year to Date, Could Top 2014 Record by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, Apr 17, 2015

'3D Cryosat' tracks Arctic winter sea ice

Although Arctic sea ice set a record this year for its lowest ever winter extent - that was not the case for its volume, new data reveals.

'3D Cryosat' tracks Arctic winter sea ice by Jonathan Amos, Science & Environmnent, BBC News, Apr 17, 2015

CEOs to world leaders: Get off your asses and fix climate change

For raging environmentalists, sometimes the hardest part of each day is just deciding where to direct their endless frustration. Will it be a heartless corporation? Inactive government? That person on the bus ignorantly sipping a bottle of Evian water? (Hey, at least they’re taking public transportation.)

Well, today, 43 CEOs of major international corporations might be off the hook. In an open letter to world leaders, these bigwigs, whose companies collectively raked in $1.2 trillion last year, politely asked for some actual shit to get done at the Paris climate talks this December.

They want solid emissions-reduction targets from each country, a price on carbon, an increase in renewable energy research, and an end to deforestation (among other things). In return, they pledge to reduce their companies’ carbon footprints, consider climate change when making big decisions in their big boardrooms, and act as “ambassadors for climate action” who will raise awareness about climate change and shift the public dialogue toward solutions, rather than debate. Geez. So now they get to be CEOs and ambassadors?

CEOs to world leaders: Get off your asses and fix climate change by Suzanne Jacobs, Grist, Apr 17, 2015

Circular economy could bring 70 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030

Odds are, your mobile phone is less than two years old. Today’s economy is built on a “fast turnover” principle. The faster we replace our gadgets the better – not only our phones, but most items we consume.

This leads to a staggering inefficiency in the way we manage the Earth’s resources, with increased pollution, loss of ecosystems and substantial losses of value with each product disposed. A new study from The Club of Rome, a global thinktank, highlights that moving to a circular economy by using and re-using, rather than using up, would yield multiple benefits.

This Swedish case study, the first in a series of reports in 2015, suggests that 2015 is a key window of opportunity to start modernising the EU economy, while boosting jobs and tackling climate change ahead of the UN climate change conference, COP 21, in Paris in December.

Circular economy could bring 70 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030 by Anders Wijkman, Sustainable Buisness, The Guardian, Apr 15, 2015

Climate plans put world on track for warming above agreed limits

Plans by 34 nations for fighting climate change beyond 2020 would leave the world on track for warming well above the limits agreed with the U.N., and Moscow's strategy is especially weak because it lets Russia's greenhouse gas emissions rise, experts said on Friday.

The United States, the 28-nation European Union, Russia, Mexico, Switzerland, Norway and Gabon have so far submitted strategies to the United Nations, meant as the building blocks of a global deal to be agreed in December at a summit in Paris.

"We regret that so few ... have been submitted," said Miguel Arias Canete, European Climate Action and Energy Commissioner. So far, national plans cover about 30 percent of world emissions.

Climate plans put world on track for warming above agreed limits by Alister Doyle, Reuters, Apr 17, 2015

Darkening ice speeds up Greenland melt, new research suggests

Scientists have noticed a curious thing happening as rising temperatures melt the Greenland ice sheet. The ice that's left is getting darker, making it more susceptible to further melting, according to new research presented at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) conference in Vienna.

Scientists have identified three ways in which the gleaming white ice sheet is getting darker, each contributing to the normally-reflective ice sheet absorbing more of the sun's energy.

Darkening ice speeds up Greenland melt, new research suggests by Robert McSweeny, The Carbon Brief, Apr 17, 2015

Dutch citizens are taking their Government to Court over climate change

A group of Dutch citizens headed to court this week in a bold effort to hold their government accountable for its inaction over climate change.

The case, which opened at The Hague on Tuesday, was first filed by the Urgenda Foundation, a sustainability group, and 900 co-plaintiffs in the Netherlands in 2013.

The plaintiffs' lawyers argue that the current policies of the Dutch government are insufficient to halt climate change, and that the government is thus illegally endangering its citizens. They are asking the court to force the Netherlands to reduce its carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, a far greater reduction than the government is currently aiming for.

The stakes are high for the Netherlands. Rising sea levels are a major concern for the low-lying country, where 60 percent of gross domestic product is produced below sea level.

The case also has the potential to set a stunning legal precedent — that governments are required under human rights law to protect their citizens from climate change.

Dutch Citizens Are Taking Their Government To Court Over Climate Change by Charlotte Alfred, The Huffington Post, Apr 17, 2015

Flood damages in Europe to increase 200% by the end of the century

Flood damages across Europe as the climate warms are likely to be considerably higher than previously thought, according to new research.

Without efforts to reduce emissions, extreme river floods now occurring every 100 years will become twice as likely in the next three decades, according to scientists from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre.

That means we can expect climate-related damages to land, property and people across Europe to increase by an average of 200% by century-end, say the authors.

The researchers presented their results at this year's European Geosciences Union (EGU) conference in Vienna earlier today.

Flood damages in Europe to increase 200% by the end of the century, scientists warn by Roz Pidcock, The Carbon Brief, Apr 15, 2015

How to tell if the article about climate you are reading is B.S., in four easy steps

This may turn out to be one of the most important years in world history. The leading nations of the world are finally making serious pledges to address the greatest preventable threat to health and well-being of humanity, leading up to the Paris climate talks in December.

The success or failure of those talks may well determine the course of the next thousand years of human history. Whatever changes we are too greedy or myopic to stop from happening in the first place are “irreversible” on that timescale, as the world’s leading scientists and governments explained in November.

So, for the next 9 months (and beyond) you are going to be bombarded with countless articles, op-eds, studies, and manifestos on this most vital of topics. A few will be important, but 95% will be a waste of your time or, worse, actually leave you less well-informed than you were before.

How To Tell If The Article About Climate You Are Reading Is B.S., In Four Easy Steps by Joe Romm, Climate Progress, Apr 17, 2015

Obama: "No greater threat" than climate change

As the nation's capital gears up for a large Earth Day celebration this weekend, President Obama issued a warning on the dangers global warming pose to the planet.

"Climate change can no longer be denied - or ignored," the president said in a video Saturday. "The world is looking to the United States - to us - to lead."

"Today, there's no greater threat to our planet than climate change," Mr. Obama continued. "This is the only planet we've got. And years from now, I want to be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we did everything we could to protect it."

Obama: "No greater threat" than climate change by Reena Flores, CBS News, Apr 18, 2015

The Arctic is ‘unraveling’ due to global warming, and the consequences will be global

We often hear that climate change is radically reshaping the Arctic, a place many of us have never visited. As a result, it can be pretty hard to feel directly affected by what’s happening up in a distant land of polar bears, ice floes and something odd called permafrost.

new booklet from the  National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council wants to change that. Synthesizing much past academy work on the Arctic region, the booklet– being released just before the United States assumes the chairmanship of the eight-nation Arctic Council later this month — blazons this message: “What Happens in the Arctic Doesn’t Stay in the Arctic.”

Here are four potential ways, drawing both upon the new report and much of our prior reporting here, that changes in the Arctic will reverberate well beyond it and, in some cases, have planet wide consequences:

The Arctic is ‘unraveling’ due to global warming, and the consequences will be global by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Apr 16, 2015

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked 2 percent in 2013

After two years of decline, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere because of human activity increased 2 percent in 2013 over the previous year. That surge was fueled, in large part, because of a growing economy, falling coal prices and a cold winter, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday in its annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

Emissions across nearly all sectors grew in 2013, with increased GHG emissions from electricity generation, more vehicle miles traveled on the nation’s roadways and greater industrial production, according to the EPA.

The news of the increase in U.S. human-caused GHG emissions comes at a critical moment in the global battle against climate change, particularly after the International Energy Agency announced last month that global carbon emissions related to energy consumption have stabilized for the first time in a growing economy.

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Spiked 2 Percent in 2013 by Bobby McGill, Climate Central, Apr 16, 2015

Warning over aerosol climate fix

Any attempts to engineer the climate are likely to result in "different" climate change, rather than its elimination, new results suggest.

Prof Ken Caldeira, of Stanford University, presented research at a major conference on the climate risks and impacts of geoengineering.

These techniques have been hailed by some as a quick fix for climate change.

But the impacts of geoengineering on oceans, the water cycle and land environments are hotly debated.

They have been discussed at a meeting this week of 12,000 scientists in Vienna.

Researchers are familiar with the global cooling effects of volcanic eruptions, seen both historically and even back into the deep past of the rock record.

With this in mind, some here at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly have been discussing the possible worldwide consequences of pumping sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere to attempt to reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet.

Warning over aerosol climate fix by Simon Redfern, BBC News, Apr 16, 2015

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Comments 1 to 17:

  1. Some of you may be familiar with the latest antics of Tony Abbott, the Australian PM. He is giving 4 million dollars to the discredited climate contrarian Lomborg. 

    If you think this is a bad idea, please sign the petition:

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  2. About the new research by Marco Tedesco - "Darkening ice speeds up Greenland melt" on CB.

    I don't have access to the actual article refered only as Tedesco et al. 2015 - apparently only submitted, not accepted yet.

    But the albedo timeline graph, as presented by CB, suffers from cherry-picked point (1996) to show the apparent trendline change in albedo so that it looks more "alarming". That's the same type of deception science deniers use to point out that "it hasn't warmed since 19xx" and debunked by the escalator.

    The main fallacy the deniers' method is that when you want to show the change of trends in a signal, you have to draw the trend lines so that the lines are continuous - the are not "steps" between their ends. Otherwise your trend changes are escalator-like bunkum. For that reason, I would not accept Tedesco et al. 2015 if I was reviewing it. Hopefully reviewers will be helpful there and let Marco fix this mistake in this article on an interesting subject.

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  3. Chriskoz,

    The data in the graph you do not like goes back to 1980.  That is likely the start of the satelite data.  It generally is not cherry picking when you show all the data.  If you do not like their fitted line you are welcome to draw your own.  It is obvious that most of the change has taken place in the last ten years.  The article in CB discusses the 2014 data and links the data.  I presume the 2014 data was not included in the paper because it was not available when the paper was written.  Your dismissal of a paper without reading it because you do not like the way they worked up the data is unsupported.  

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  4. #1:


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  5. RE: Climate plans put world on track for warming above agreed limits

    The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), compiled by scientists, said pledges so far put the world on track for average temperatures in the year 2100 three to four degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than they were in pre-industrial time. That is well above a U.N. goal of a maximum 2 degrees C (3.6F) rise.

    All I can think of is Marcott's Wheelchair.


    Marcott's Wheelchair graphic

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  6. Finally pulled myself together and finished the Norwegian translation of "It's not bad"!

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  7. Thanks for another great roundup.

    Minor point--the second title "'3D Cryosat' tracks Arctic winter sea ic" is missing the final 'e.'

    Something to consider for inclusion in the next roundup:

    Russian Ecologists Warn Summer Could See Repeat of Devastating 2010 Wildfires – or Worse

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] The missing "e" has been inserted. Thank you for pointing this out and for the positive feedback.

  8. Chiskoz @2,

    I agree that  the step looks odd, and I'd be interested in knowing if the timing of that step point was data-driven or chosen arbitrarily. The majority of the initial data points after the step are above the second trend line, so it is odd to suggest, as the graph does, that the first part of the second trend line accurately reflects the beginning of a downward trend.

    If nothing else, the division of the data into two groups needs better justification in the figure legend.

    Does anyone have a link to the original paper?

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  9. Edit... I mean the points are above the continuation of the first trend line

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  10. I'm certainly interested in the Greenland albedo stuff and welcome any debate about cherry picking of data as it should always be a legitimate line of enquiry. Are there any links to the contentious data being discussed?

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    Cherry picking accusations could be made but it is part of the process of trying to find a trend and then establishing why... life is sinusoidal and any departure from that begs for an explanation. This could be part of normal sinusoidal behaviour (hence the legitimate complaint of unfair cherry picking of data/starting points) but given that the context of previous data is there how can it be cherry picking for the sake of deception... this is cherry picking for the sake of tying to establish realationship!!

    This is the process of science...

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  12. source


    This shows the possibility of continuing normal sinusoidality: or does it?

    This is the graph I am currently interested in btw but please: all questions about cherry picking of data for deception need to be considered and discussed- I will always agree with that!!

    Graphical Information is well known to prove deceptive and must be carefully interpreted, like any data- it's just graphical information can be quite powerful in the mind.

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  13. ah, yes: I was going to raise the very same question about this last graph being cherry picked for its ripe data... the plot doth thicken methinks!


    (..and I'm not altogether sure I'm too happy about it mind you!!)

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  14. bozza, there are statistical methods that can be used to determine whether or not it is appropriate to use a single linear trend for the whole data, two seperate trends, a sinusoid, etc.  One such is the akaike information criterion.   There are others.   If the the authors of the paper used such a criterion to establish the appropriateness of using two linear trends, then it is not cherry picking.  If they did not, there case for using two linear trends has not been made (at best) and it may be cherry picking.  If such methods do not show the two trends to be appropriate and they did not perform the test, then it is cherry picking.  Unfortunately I do not have the paper so I cannot comment on whether or not they justified their choice of two trends or not, nor whether the choice is justified independently of whether they attempted to do so.

    I will note that in the well known cases of denier cherry picking, it has been shown quite frequently by Tamino that the AIC does not justifiy their choice, and that they are definitely cherry picking.

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  15. To clarify what I have said above... I am certainly not accusing scientists of cherry-picking. I haven't even read their paper. I am just saying the break into two trends looks odd, and the article should provide more information about what motivated the selection of that particular break point. (The paper should also provide this information, but for all we know it does this already.)

    I would be (pleasantly) surprised if the statistical tests used to break one trend into two produced that particular break point, but I know it is hazardous to pit visual intuition against maths. Until we read the original paper, this is all guesswork.

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  16. The Cryosat article above links to a new site where they are now providing recent arctic sea ice data on an ongoing basis. In the past, Cryosat results were only released a few times per year.

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  17. Leto @1,
    There is more reason to oppose the support of Lomborg than the fact that he is a discredited denier of the constantly improving understanding of climate science.

    Bjorn Lomborg is also one of the many 'financial analysts' whose evaluations are based on the belief that it is OK for part of a current generation of humanity to benefit in a way that cannot be continued into the distant future and that creates consequences for others, especially future generations, as long as the benefit the current generation get can be shown to exceed the costs inflicted on others, even if only a few in the current generation benefit.

    That is essentially the belief behind a comparison of the 'lost opportunity or cost to some in a current generation' to the 'added costs expected to be dealt with by others, particularly future generations'.

    And many of those type of analysts go further than that fundamentally absurd belief. They overstate the 'lost opportunity or cost of the few in the current generation' and understate the 'consequences others will suffer'.

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