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2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #7

Posted on 15 February 2014 by John Hartz

  • Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict
  • Climate change means we will have to get used to flooding
  • Freezing out the bigger picture
  • Greens call for clear-out of 'climate change deniers'
  • Ice storm paradox: It's colder because the Earth is warmer
  • Obama prepares plan for deeper greenhouse gas pollution cuts
  • Scientists certain human activity causes climate change
  • Study sounds ‘El Niño Alarm’ for late this year
  • The 'pause' in global warming is not even a thing
  • UK floods making climate sceptics hot under the collar
  • What iIs climate geoengineering?
  • Winter weirdness: Is Arctic warming to blame?

Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict

The record rainfall and storm surges that have brought flooding across the UK are a clear sign that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.

Many commentators have suggested that we are suffering from unprecedented extreme weather. There are powerful grounds for arguing that this is part of a trend.

Four of the five wettest years recorded in the UK have occurred from the year 2000 onwards. Over that same period, we have also had the seven warmest years.

That is not a coincidence. There is an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, in line with what is expected from fundamental physics, as the Met Office pointed out earlier this week. 

Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict, Op-ed by Nicholas Stern, Comment is Free, The Guardian, Feb 13, 2014


Climate change means we will have to get used to flooding

The political blame-game is in full swing over who is at fault for the current flooding crisis. But ministers debating local dredging operations in Somerset is a sideshow.

It will be a miracle if the winter of 2013-14 does not go down as the wettest on record – and frankly, it is difficult to see what could have been done to prevent massive disruption given the rainfall. But why is this happening?

The immediate answer is that the UK is “stuck” in a weather pattern – a common feature of our climate. But what is uncommon is the exceptional intensity of the rain and waves.

Climate change means we will have to get used to flooding by Nigel Arnell The Independent, Feb 11, 2014 


Freezing out the bigger picture 

Scientists refer to global warming because it is about, well, the globe. It is also about the long run. It is really not about what happened yesterday in Poughkeepsie.

The entire United States, including Alaska, covers less than 2 percent of the surface of the earth. So if the whole country somehow froze solid one January, that would not move the needle on global temperatures much at all.

Freezing Out the Bigger Picture by Justin Gillis, By Degrees, New York Times, Feb 10, 2014


Greens call for clear-out of 'climate change deniers'

The Green Party of England and Wales has called for a purge of government advisers and ministers who do not share its views on climate change.

Any senior adviser refusing to accept "the scientific consensus on climate change" should be sacked, it said.

Party leader Natalie Bennett said the rule must apply to all senior advisers, including those with no responsibility for environmental issues.

Greens call for clear-out of 'climate change deniers' by Ross Hopkins, BBC News, Feb 14, 2014


Ice storm paradox: It's colder because the Earth is warmer 

With the American South locked in a deep freeze, you can be sure that plenty  of the folks suffering through the snow and ice storms are interpreting the big  chill as more proof that global warming is a hoax. “Warming?” they scoff. “How  can the planet be warming when it’s so darn cold?”

People in other parts of the world seem to have no great difficulty  understanding the science but, in the good old USA where quite a few people  consider science just another political opinion, it is going to take a lot  longer to get most people to accept the cold facts about a warmer  world.

Ice storm paradox: It's colder because the Earth is warmer by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times, Feb 13, 2014


Obama prepares plan for deeper greenhouse gas pollution cuts

The Obama administration is quietly working on new greenhouse gas emissions targets to deliver to the United Nations, even as it struggles to craft regulations that will enable the United States to meet its current carbon-cutting goals.

With Republicans striking out at President Obama's climate change agenda as part of an effort to unseat vulnerable Senate Democrats in November, the administration is hardly advertising its effort. But according to officials involved in the process, the treacherous political terrain has not stopped the administration from forging ahead with developing new emissions goals.

Obama Prepares Plan for Deeper Greenhouse Gas Pollution Cuts by By Lisa Friedman and ClimateWire, Scientific American, Feb 11, 2014


Scientists certain human activity causes climate change

The problem with the public conversation about climate change is that not everyone plays by the same rules.

The majority of scientists follow the scientific method — a systematic approach to building knowledge. Starting in the 1820s, scientists began accumulating evidence, through the slow process of hypothesis testing and data collection, that adding carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere would warm the planet.

Now, after almost two centuries of research, scientists are as certain that human activity causes climate change as doctors are that cigarette smoking causes cancer.

Scientists certain human activity causes climate change, Op-ed by Simon Donner, Vancouver Sun, Feb 11, 2014


Study sounds ‘El Niño Alarm’ for late this year

A new study shows that there is at least a 76 percent likelihood that an El Niño event will occur later this year, potentially reshaping global weather patterns for a year or more and raising the odds that 2015 will set a record for the warmest year since instrument records began in the late 19th century.

The study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, builds on research put forward in 2013 that first proposed a new long-range El Niño prediction method.  

Study Sounds ‘El Niño Alarm’ For Late This Year by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Feb 7, 2014


UK floods making climate sceptics hot under the collar

The UK floods are not just causing misery for thousands of people around the country whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted. They are also making a few climate change sceptics hot beneath the collar.

No doubt they are finding it an uncomfortable experience to realise that their misleading attempts to inform the public into believing that climate change poses no threat to the UK are now being undermined by the irrefutable evidence provided by the record rainfall and storm surges.

UK floods making climate sceptics hot under the collar by Bob Ward, The Guardioan, Feb 14, 204


The 'pause' in global warming is not even a thing

The idea that global warming has "paused" or is currently chillaxing in a comfy chair with the words "hiatus" written on it has been getting a good run in the media of late.

Much of this is down to a new study analysing why one single measure of climate change – the temperatures on the surface averaged out across the entire globe – might not have been rising quite so quickly as some thought they might.

The 'pause' in global warming is not even a thing by Graham, Readfearn, Plaen tOz, The Guardian, Feb 11, 2014


What Is Climate Geoengineering?

Climate geoengineering advocates have long argued over how to actually define the term "geoengineering." The precise details of that definition are important for various reasons, not the least of which is that it will determine what likely is to be subjected to the scrutiny and potentially complex and difficult legal governance processes that such a global scale climate-tweak effort would necessarily involve.

What Is Climate Geoengineering? Word Games in the Ongoing Debates Over a Definition by Richard Smolker, Truthout, Feb 12, 2014


Winter weirdness: Is Arctic warming to blame?

For Alaskans who have basked in record warmth, Atlantans who abandoned cars during a January snowstorm, or Californians enduring drought, this winter's extremes have been nothing if not memorable.

Drought or unusual warmth is in sync with the effects that climate scientists expect from global warming. But what about wintertime invasions of Arctic air into the US Deep South or into China, where, a new study indicates, record cold events became more frequent over the past 10 to 20 years?

For some climate scientists, January's extremes and the atmospheric patterns that nurtured and sustained them are fresh bits of information to apply to these intriguing questions: Has global warming's effect on the Arctic set the stage for persistent weather patterns that lead to extremes? If so, is the decline in Arctic sea ice the stage manager for the wintry events?

Winter weirdness: Is Arctic warming to blame? by Pete Spotts, The Christian Science Monitor, Feb  9, 2014

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Comments 51 to 97 out of 97:

  1. Dikran Marsupial,

    In one post @49 you managed the trifecta of: a) quoting me out of context, b) making a strawman argument, and then c) accusing me of trolling.

    First, you ignored the first half of my comment, thereby distorting my argument.  If you hadn't selectively quoted me you would have seen that my full comment was:

    " I would make a case that climate sensitivity was both higher and lower at different points in our planet's history, and will diminish if temperatures continue to rise. Were this not the case, the planet would have experienced runaway warming (or cooling) in the past when temperatures and CO2 levels were much higher (and lower) than they are today."

    You only quoted the second part, starting at "Were this not the case..."  Then you linked to a reference that has nothing to do with the point I was making.

    Why do I say the post had nothing to do with my argument?  Because it concluded:

    "Thus arguments that Ordovician glaciation disproves the warming effect of CO2 are groundless. On the contrary, the CO2 record over the late Ordovician is entirely consistent with the notion that CO2 is a strong driver of climate."

    Since I'd already acknowledged above that "the forcing component of increased GHG concentrations is straightforward enough,"  I'm already on-the-record as being in agreement with this article's conclusion.

    I wasn't arguing that CO2 doesn't impact temperatures.  I was arguing that sensitivity is not a constant across all climactic states. An argument which you selectively omitted.

    Lastly, you accused me of trolling because before responding to Tom Curtis I failed to consult with a 3+ year old SkS post on the Late Ordovician, which refuted a claim I never made.  Really?

    0 1
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Snark, accusations, some attitude issues and a failure to read comments and responses carefully by both sides are creating unnecessary heat in an otherwise useful discussion. Could everyone please dial it back and focus the issues? kudos to Russ R for spelling out his position in @41 and to Tom Curtis for a considered response. More like this please.

  2. Rob Honeycutt,

    "You might actually take the time to read Otto 2013 before making such assertions as that they estimate CS at 2C."

    I did read Otto et al (2013).

    Quote:

    "The most likely value of equilibrium climate sensitivity based on the energy budget of the most recent decade is 2.0 °C, with a 5–95% confidence interval of 1.2–3.9 °C,..."


    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] It would save a lot of tedious detail if you would spell out why you think a CS of 2 is nothing to worry about, preferably with reference to impacts in the IPCC WG2. Since I would assume that you reject the Stern review, it would also help discussion if you spell out what sources inform your opinion when discussing impacts and costs. Thank you.

  3. Russ...  But can you not see that you're doing exactly what Otto et al are cautioning against? 

    Their conclusion is not that ECS is lower that other estimates. They're saying their results are consistent with other estimates.

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  4. Russ... I have to ask you honestly when you read this...

    "The most likely value of equilibrium climate sensitivity based on the energy budget of the most recent decade is 2.0 °C, with a 5–95% confidence interval of 1.2–3.9 °C,..."

    Do you not get what they are talking about when they say "based on the energy budget of the most recent decade"?

    They're not saying the most recent decade gives them a better estimation of ECS (which you seem to be implying). They state that that may not be the case, and that their estimations remain consistent with previous estimates of ECS.

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  5. Russ @47:

    1) Fundamentally the Transient Climate Response (TCR) is a function of feedbacks and thermal inertia.  By definition, the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) is the response after thermal equilibrium with the oceans is reached, and, ergo, is not a function of inertia.  On the other hand, thermal inertia is a confounding factor in calculating the ECS from empirical data.  Getting these details right matters.

    Turning to the substance of your comment, you claim that "...geological evidence points to a planet see-sawing between two relatively stable equilibrium climate conditions, which suggests high sensitivity in the middle of the range, and low sensitivity at either end of the range".  That, however, is the reverse of the true situation.  As global temperature falls, ice sheets creep towards the equator in the NH.  As the edge of the ice sheet, and perhaps more importantly, the southern limit of winter snowfall creeps closer to the equator, it must deal with more direct sunlight, with the consequence that the albedo effect becomes greater and you have a stronger climate sensitivity.  Conversely, with rising temperature, humidity rises, and with it the strenght of the water vapour feedback.  In fact, water vapour concentration rises with the fourth power of temperature so that in the right conditions, increasing temperature mean that water vapour can force a runaway greenhouse effect.  The right conditions include strong enough insolation, and fortunately for the Earth is safe from that outcome - but that does not preclude an increasing climate sensitivity with increased temperature due to a strengthening WV feedback.

    As noted by Dikran Marsupial, your evidence for the convenient ECS plateau we are supposed to occupy also has it wrong.  The Earth has in fact experienced at least two, and probably more runaway cooling events.  Further, our nearest neighbour, Venus, has experienced a runaway warming event (which unlike the cooling events are not, for practical purposes, reversible).  Physics does not change between planets.  If increasing temperatures drives increasing climate sensitivity from the WV feedback (necessary for a runaway warming event) in Venus, then they drive the same effect here.  Fortunately we are protected from the final outcome of such an event by lower insolation, and had greater protection in the past when the Sun was cooler, though CO2 concentrations were higher.

    That raises another point, for the strength of feedbacks also depends on the strength of insolation.  Consequently, climate sensitivity would have been lower in the deep past than now with the same configuration of continents (the additional factor effecting climate sensitivity).  That is something that should be born in mind when looking at paleoclimate results, particularly from the deep past (pre-tertiary).

    To summarize, your comforting belief is the opposite of what would be expected from basic principles.  Further, it is based on claims that runaway cooling and warming events do not happen, despite the fact that several runaway cooling events have occurred on Earth, and a runaway warming event has occurred on our nearest, and most physically similar planet.  Rather than being at a local high in terms of climate sensitivity, we are likely at a local low, with higher climate sensitivities likely for both warmer and cooler conditions.

    2)  Despite my heavy emphasis on observational estimates of ECS in my preceding post, many of which are paleo estimates (for which estimates of anthropogenic aerosol forcing, and thermal inertia are irrelevant), you again focus solely on computer models.  The evidence climate scientists present for their theories are not restricted to the evidence you feel you may be able to rebut.  Simply ignoring contrary evidence as you are currently doing is no basis on which to form views about scientific facts.

    So, seeing you choose to ignore it, here is again a presentation of observational climate sensitivity estimates, in this case all from paleodata:

    In addition to ignoring all the inconvenient empirical estimates, you again focus on Otto et al.  The two main problems with Otto et al (IMO) are that they are only a partially observational estimate, and the method is erratic in its results, suggesting we should not place a large amount of weight on those results, and certainly not to the exclusion of other results.

    First, to estimate ECS, Otto et al require an estimate of the increase in Global Heat Content (GHC) over the reference period from 1860-1879.  There are no ocean heat content measures over that period on which to base an observational estimate.  As they need a value for that period, they used model data to provide their baseline reference.  Otto et al's result is critically dependent on this model determined value.

    Further, Otto et al had no observational estimates of forcings over the period 2006-2010, and used the RCP 4.5 projections instead.  Consequently their values for the final decade have even less of an empirical basis then the other values.

    It is possible to eliminate the model dependence by applying their method, and using 1970-1979 as the reference period.  The results for each decade is as follows:

    1980s: 3.49 C/doubling 

    1990s: 2.70 C/doubling

    2000s:2.58 C/doubling

    The range of values obtained in that excercise also indicates the erraticness of the method.  This method is heavilly influenced by decadal variations in the data, and effect partially concealed in their published results by the long time span used in the estimate, and by an odd discrepancy between their estimate of GHC in the 1970s and that obtained from other sources.

    For completeness, two further problems with Otto et al are the use of HadCRUT4 which does not include the Arctic and hence underestimates recent warming.  In addition, the HadCRUT4 record prior to 1880 consists effectively of the North Atlantic region (including the east coast of the US, and Western Europe), plus the sea routes to Brazil, South Africa, India and Australia.  It is not a global record, and is heavily biased by data from the North Atlantic.  There is a reason, a very good reason, why GISS and the NCDC start their temperature records in the 1880s (by which time temperature records are almost global, with the exclusion of Antarctica).  

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  6. Could I make a request to other participants on this forum that they leave it to me to respond to Russ in relation to his responses to my post @28 and following discussion.  I know there is plenty to respond to in what he writes, and of necessity I am not covering all points.  However, just from the points I am covering it is becoming plain that Russ is very, and inconsistently selective in which evidence he will admit.  Adding more voices to the debate will distract from that point, and also make it less likely the discussion will continue to the end where it covers those areas Russ incorrectly percieves as his strong points. 

    2 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] This is a reasonable request and I would ask participants note the "No dogpiling" rule. Corrections or further elucidations of comments would help but please dont add new distractions.

  7. You got it, Tom. 

    I'll just sit in the corner over here and grind my teeth. ;-)

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  8. This thread has gone way off topic.

    To put things back on track, I want to recall the reason this whole haywire discussion started: Russ@1 critique that the two of the articles above (by Nicholas Stern and Justin Gillis) are using seemingly contradictory arguments to suit the common cuase, to quote Russ:

    you [presumably Nick & Justin] can't use an argument (i.e that specific weather is clear evidence of climate change) when it suits your cause (as with heat in Australia) and then turn around and argue the opposite when it doesn't suit you (as is being done with the cold in the US)

    Russ does not explain what he means by "specific weather" and "your cause", but later @4, he explained that he means "particular local weather event" and "your belief that global warming is a serious problem that requires urgent policy action".

    Mod [JH] asserted the articles do not apear contradictory if you read them in full.  Why no one picked on that? Indeed, after reading them, I found out that:

    1. Both Nick & Justin are talking about global weather events. Nick is talking about several "extreme event", like recent floods in UK, typhoon in Philipines, heat waves in OZ, to prove his point that weather has gone crazy worldwide, with unprecedented damages. Justin is taking about recent cold and warm temperature extremes, arguing that the globe is indeed warming on average, despite his fellow US citizens opinions: "it cannot be global warming because it's so cold here". So it is clear for me, that both article do not talk about "particular local weather event" only, as suggested by Russ@1@4

    2. I note that only one author (Nick) is advocating policy actions in his article. Justin does not talk about any policies. So, it's incorrect suggest that a "belief that global warming is a serious problem that requires urgent policy action" is a commonpiece of those two.

    Therfore I conclude, that Russ in his post@1 either:

    - intentionally misrepresents the content of the articles he's commenting about, or

    - does not care about the content of the articles and if his comments are accurate and in the proper context

    In either case, he uses the distorted interpretation of the articles as an excuse to create a strawman argument, according to his agenda. In the ensuing discussion, he's been jumping from topic to topic, continuing to cherry-pick the data and selective-quoting from articles presented to him, creating further strawman arguments.

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  9. Rob @57, thanks.  I hope the dental bills are not too high ;)

    Chriskoz @58, my understanding of the weekly news roundups is that they do not have a specific topic.  For that reason I switched the discussion with Russ from another thread so we could explore a wide range of issues necessary to show that the issues he raised, and which I quoted @28 do not allow inaction on climate change as a rational choice (or at least, not if we take equity to be a genuine value).  I certainly do not want my discussion of those issues to interfere with discussion of other independent issues Russ has raised here.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Your understanding is correct.

  10. Tom, sure, best of luck, it is fortunate that Russ has someone with the patience to go over all of this in detail, lets hope that he can make some use of it.

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  11. Chris:

    I think everyone sees what is going on and understands why.  Tom has decided that he has the patience to continue with this discussion anyway.  I think this is a good learning experience for the rest of us to see how to deal with this type of intrangience, which is common on other blogs.  If nothing else, it shows that SkS interacts with people who think blog posts trump peer review.

    I have learned a lot from reading Tom's last couple of posts.  It will be interesting to see  where it goes.

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  12. Unrelated to what will hopefully be a fruitful discussion between Tom Curtis & Russ R., I see the Vancouver Sun opinion piece describes some recent misinformation efforts by Tom Harris (who you may recall was sending young minds down the path of denial while teaching at my alma mater).

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  13. @62

    Here is the link and a couple of excerpts...

    "It is not surprising that language has always been an important weapon of war. Delivered with rhetorical flare, language has driven ordinary citizens to perform heroic acts of self-sacrifice in defence of their countries, while pushing others to incomprehensible acts of stupidity and barbarism.

    Rhetoric is key in the political battle over climate change. With global warming virtually non-existent during the past 17 years..."

    And of course...

    "Carbon is a solid, naturally occurring, non-toxic element found in all living things. It forms thousands of compounds, much more than any other element. Medicines, trees, oil, even our bodies are made of carbon compounds."

    If Tom will allow me, I believe what he is trying to say is Carbon is harmless and that there is "virtually" no warming; along with saying that language (albeit purposefully mendacious and manipulative) can encourage stupidity. I do believe he got this last part right; the first part not so much.

    Opinion: Climate rhetoric undermines rational decision-making   FEBRUARY 4, 2014

    LINK

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    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Shorten link that was breaking page format.

  14. I would say Tom Harris' title is correct - climate rhetoric can and does undermine rational decision-making; only it happens that it is his content (and his climate-related work in general) that constitutes the undermining rhetoric.

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  15. @64

    His is a tsunami of irony; he decries the use of manipulative and misleading rhetoric by using manipulative and misleading rhetoric...”Hey kettle, you’re black!” Said the pot unabashedly and with a total lack of self awareness.
    Not sure what I enjoy more, his fluid use of language and the wave upon wave of subtle yet obvious sophistry or that awesome goatee.

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  16. Thank you Tom,

    I don't have the bandwidth to maintain numerous parallel debates threads (I have a full time job and a fiancée who's becoming increasingly annoyed with me for paying more attention to climate blogs than to her.)

    I'll make a few concluding comments to others here been patiently awaiting responses, and I'll continue discussion with you.

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  17. Rob Honeycutt,

    "Their conclusion is not that ECS is lower that other estimates. They're saying their results are consistent with other estimates."

    This looks like a pretty unreasonable attempt to spin the result as nothing new for sensitivity...  It implies a marked lowering of the IPCC "likely" range. Although the paper does not explicitly mention it, the "likely" range for equilibrium climate sensitivity using the full 40y of data seems to be about 1.3-3C (reading off the graph by eye, the lower end may be off a bit due to the nonlinear scale).

    Please note, this isn't my opinion.  I'm quoting James Annan, and last I checked, he's a bona fide, peer-reviewed climate scientist, whom SkS has often cited in the past.

    ""Russ... But can you not see that you're doing exactly what Otto et al are cautioning against? "

    "Do you not get what they are talking about when they say "based on the energy budget of the most recent decade"? They're not saying the most recent decade gives them a better estimation of ECS (which you seem to be implying)."

    I'll be discussing this in detail with Tom Curtis. Stay tuned.


    [-snip-]

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Snark not necessary or constructive.

    [PS] If you want a serious discussion, then by all means go ahead. If you simply want to troll other commentators, then please find another venue for your entertainment.

  18. I have to say that it ought to be obvious that if someone agrees to step out of a discussion in order for there to be clarity, then continuing the discussion with them is rather bad form.  This is especially the case if you start by making an accusation such as "This looks like a pretty unreasonable attempt to spin the result as nothing new for sensitivity...".

    This seems to me to be a shameless attempt to get Rob back into the discussion in order to avoid the clarity of a one-to-one discussion with Tom.  I can't imagine why you might want to avoid the clarity of a one-to-one discussion with Tom! ;o)

    I suggest we don't rise to the bait and leave Tom to discuss this with Russ.

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  19. Russ... I've already shown you where it states otherwise in Otto et al, but I'll give the discussion of this over to Tom.

    [edit] If you don't have the bandwidth it will be helpful if you keep the discussion directed toward Tom and not bait me with additional comments that I would need to respond to.

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  20. Russ started this discussion @1 with the question :

    What exactly would constitute evidence against climate change? Or is climate change an unfalsifiable hypothesis?

    There is an excellent post at Bart Verheggen's blog (written by Jos Hagelaars and Hans Custers) that has an extended answer to Russ's question.

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  21. As a point of clarrification, here are the estimated Equilibrium Climate Sensitivities from Otto et al:

    The important values are the "likely" range, of approximately 1.1 to 4.2 C per doubling of CO2 for the full 1970-2009 period, which compares to the "likely" range of 1.5 to 4.5 C per doubling of CO2 given by the IPCC AR5; and the 95% confidence interval of 0.9 to 5.0 C per doubling 95% confidence interval for the full period.  The later range is drawn, not from the graph but from their specific statement in the text, which states:

    "The most likely value of equilibrium climate sensitivity based on the energy budget of the most recent decade is 2.0 °C, with a 5–95% confidence interval of 1.2–3.9 °C (dark red, Fig. 1a), compared with the 1970–2009 estimate of 1.9 °C (0.9–5.0 °C; grey, Fig. 1a). Including the period from 2000 to 2009 into the 40-year 1970–2009 period  delivers a finite upper boundary, in contrast with earlier estimates calculated using the same method14. The range derived from the 2000s overlaps with estimates from earlier decades and with the range of ECS values from current climate models10 (ECS values in the CMIP5 ensemble13 are 2.2–4.7 °C), although it is moved slightly towards lower values. Observations of the energy budget alone do not rule out an ECS value below 2 °C, but they do rule out an ECS below 1.2 °C with 95% confidence. The upper boundary is lowered slightly, but is also very sensitive to assumptions made in the evaluation process (see Supplementary Section S2). Uncertainties include observational errors and internal variability estimated from control simulations with general circulation models."

    You will notice that they state the 95% confidence range, but only display the 90% confidence range on the graph.

    There is also a confusing point in the graph, in that the broad bands are stated as being the 17% to 83% confidence interval (from which Russ derives his estimate), but the ovals are stated to "... represent likelihood contours enclosing 66% two-dimensional confidence regions".  That is, they represent the 17-83% confidence contour allowing for the fact that there is uncertainty not only in the width of each line, but also in its relative placement.  I would argue that that is the better comparison to the IPCC values, but Russ's determination of the values is certainly a reasonably reading of the graph.  Certainly his "likely" range is more directly comparable to the 90%, or 95% confidence ranges that will become crucial later in the discussion.

    For comparison, the IPCC do not give a "most likely" (ie, modal) value, nor a mean nor median value in their estimate (unlike in AR4).  They give a likely (17-83%) range of 1.5-4.5 C, and a 1-90% range of 1 to 6 C.

    With regard to interpreting Otto et al's comments, I believe Rob Painting has it right.  It must be always kept in mind that the confidence intervals given by Otto et al are the confidence intervals based on only the data they look at, and using only the method that they use.  Clearly adding more data may change the confidence interval, and need not necesserally narrow it.  Further, using different methods on the same data may also change the outcome.  Otto et al (with the possible exception of Nic Lewis) are well aware of that.  Hence they insist that their results are in the same ball park as other results and reinforce our confidence in that general ball park far more than they create confidence that the specific limits found by any particular study.  Looked at this way, Rob Painting is merely recognizing that there are many other emperical studies, which cannot simply be ignored or trumped by a single study no matter how much we like its results.  The combined confidence intervals of the many studies is highly unlikely to have its confidence intervals exactly match those of any individual study.  It is, however, likely that its central value (whether mode, median or mean) will lie within the 95% confidence interval of the vast majority of the individual studies.   

    Given that this is merely to restate the point I made @55 above (point 2) in different language (IMO), I would appreciate it if Russ would not respond explicitly to this post, but include any arguments he has on this point in his response to my post @55.

    1 0
    Moderator Response:

    [PS] If this discussion is going to focus on climate sensitivity, then consider also the "climate sensitivity is low" article

  22. Rob Honeycutt,

    I owe you an apology for my last post @67, as it amounted to, in sports terminology, a "late hit".

    Sorry.

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  23. Apology accepted and appreciated, Russ. I'll let Tom take it from here.

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  24. Tom Curtis @55,

    You made several points, so I'll have to address them in batches.

    "As global temperature falls, ice sheets creep towards the equator in the NH. As the edge of the ice sheet, and perhaps more importantly, the southern limit of winter snowfall creeps closer to the equator, it must deal with more direct sunlight, with the consequence that the albedo effect becomes greater and you have a stronger climate sensitivity."

    Agree entirely.  Ice albedo (IA) feedback will gain strength at an increasing rate as the transition zone extends further toward the equator.  There should be two effects, more insolation (as you mentioned) and a larger surface area to operate over.  Both effects should be proportional to the cosine of latitude.  Assuming they're multiplicative, then the strength of IA feedback should increase proportionally to cos2 of latitude, or around 4x if the leading edge advances from 60N&S to near the equator.

    But when you play out the scenario in reverse, IA feedback will weaken substantially as ice retreates to the pole.  From 60 to 70 degrees the magnitude of feedback would diminish by approximately half.  From 60 to 80 degrees it would decline to 1/12 of its magnitude.  Which aligns exactly with what I wrote above:  "I would make a case that climate sensitivity was both higher and lower at different points in our planet's history, and will diminish if temperatures continue to rise."

    You continue:

    "Conversely, with rising temperature, humidity rises, and with it the strenght of the water vapour feedback. In fact, water vapour concentration rises with the fourth power of temperature so that in the right conditions, increasing temperature mean that water vapour can force a runaway greenhouse effect. The right conditions include strong enough insolation, and fortunately for the Earth is safe from that outcome - but that does not preclude an increasing climate sensitivity with increased temperature due to a strengthening WV feedback."

    There are two fundamental differences I can immediately think of between IA and WV feedbacks.  

    First, IA starts from a permanently frozen pole, and as it advance, each additional degree has an increasing effect.  WV feedback experiences the opposite.  It starts from a permanently humid equator, but as it advances poleward, for each incremental degree it has less surface area and less insolation to drive it.  If my math is correct, applying the same cos2 approximation, the entire extratropics north and south of 23 degrees latitude would have the same WV feedback effect as the tropics.  In other words, if the earth became suddenly "tropical" right to the poles, the entire magnitude of WV feedback would only double.

    Second, WV feedback doesn't act alone... it comes part and parcel with a couple of other factors that limit its feedback effect.  First, as you add heat to sea areas (or moist land areas) water evaporates, rises and condenses, transporting heat up through the atmosphere (often violently).  It also makes for an instant increase in cloud albedo.  Both of these effects constitute not just negative feedback, but an effective "wall".  Sea surface temperatures never get above ~30C because thunderstorms (or occasionally tropical cyclones) limit further temperature increases and bring temperatures back down.

    So, I would agree that WV feedback will increase as temperatures rise, but at a diminishing rate.

    Moving on:

    "As noted by Dikran Marsupial, your evidence for the convenient ECS plateau we are supposed to occupy also has it wrong. The Earth has in fact experienced at least two, and probably more runaway cooling events."


    Since I'm insufficiently familiar with the evidence for or against the "Snowball Earth" theory, no argument here.  I'll happily accept that this happened in the planet's distant past.

    But I'd focus your attention on more geologically "recent" episodes of cooling, which should be more relevant to today's conditions and concerns.  In each of the last periodic glacial episodes over the last million or so years, temperatures have fallen, the IA feedback effect you mentioned would have increased, but no runaway cooling resulted.  Some other negative feedback mechanism(s), (possibly WV feedback) overwhelmed the increasingly positive IA feedback, slowing the rate of cooling.  In other words, net feedback fell, and the temperature ultimately stabilized.  Which again, aligns with what I wrote:  "...geological evidence points to a planet see-sawing between two relatively stable equilibrium climate conditions, which suggests high sensitivity in the middle of the range, and low sensitivity at either end of the range".

    Nonetheless, I think we've established that net feedback (and ultimately climate sensitivity) is not going to be constant across all climactic conditions.  It is the sum total of multiple mechanisms (of which we've only discussed a couple), each of which will behave differently under different conditions.  Would you agree?

    More later.

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  25. Russ R @74, before discussing your points, I think we need a point of clarrification about feedbacks.  Specifically, feedbacks are responses to changes in temperature.  As such, any feedback response produces a further response, which in turn produces a further response and so on.  In principle this reiteration proceds for ever, but in practise, after a few repetitions the feedback response is swamped by normal variability and it gets washed out of the system.

    The final temperature response to a given initial change of temperature is given by the formula:

    ΔT = T0/(1-Σg)

    where ΔT is the final change in temperature, T0 is the initial change in temperature, and Σg is the sum of gains for each individual feedback, ie, gwv, glr, gcl, galb etc.  

    If gxx is positive, then it reduces the denominator, and increases the final temperature response.  Ergo, it is a positive feedback.  Conversely, if gxx is negative, then it increases the denominator, and hence decreases the final response.  It should be obvious from this that so long as Σg < 1, then ΔT is finite, and the total feedback response will eventually lead to a stable condition.  Consequently, there is no need for a positive feedback that some negative feedback should overwhelm it to stop it running away.  That is only necessay if the sum of the feedback gains is greater than 1.  In simpler terms, if each iteration of the feedback response results in a further temperature increase less than the preceding temperature increase, the response will self damp even though the net feedbacks are positive.

    Turning now to the details of your post:

    Ice Albedo:  The IA feedback involves not just the change in albedo, but the actual advance of the ice.  Between approximately 80 and 20 degrees of latitude, the surface temperature rises by approximately 1 degree C per 145 km advance towards the tropics, requiring a 1 C fall in temperature for the ice to advance that distance.  The IA feedback will be determined by the balance that allows the fall in temperature to result in a sufficient advance in the ice, and consequent increase in albedo to account for it.  Among the complexities are that ice sheets do not advance significantly over water (which limits their advance to the NH), and that polar amplification will make the temperature/latitude slope steeper with a cooling climate, thereby dropping temperatures at the poles and making the initial advances easier, but also requiring a greater decrease in temperature for each km of ice advance.  That later effect weakens the IA feedback effect, which in turns means your BOE calculations are over calculations of the strength of the effect.

    Water Vapour:  You mount several counter arguments against the possibility of any significant increase in the strength of the water vapour feedback.  The first is based on geometry.  It incorrectly assumes that:

    1)  The greenhouse effect due to water vapour in the tropics is saturated, such that in increase in the strength of the WV feedback can only occur by an advance to the poles.  But, in fact, the strength of the greenhouse effect of a substance depends on the altitude of effective emission to space of that subtance.  In the tropics that altitude for WV is about 4-5 km, but the tropopause is about 18 km, allowing a considerable increase in height, and hence strenght of the WV greenhouse effect.

    2)  The brightness of OLR is a function of solar incident angle (effectively the pink line), whereas it is a function of temperature at the effective altitude of emission (effectively the green line), which is much more even between tropics and polar regions:

    Consequently your calculation of the upper limit of the WV feedback is completely in error.  There is in fact no practical upper limit on the strenght of the WV feedback.

    You further argue that the formation of clouds, and a purported limit on sea surface tempertures at about 30 C forms '... an effective "wall" ' to increasing WV feedback strength.  

    I will first note that the formation of clouds is not a "wall" to the WV feedback, but an independant feedback.  Further, your assumptions about that feedback are simplistic.  An increase in WV concentration may, for example, result in more rapid formation of heavy rain drops, so that clouds dissipate by rainfall more rapidly.  More certainly, they will result in larger diameter cloud particles, an effect which reduces cloud albedo.  Further, much of the additional cloud may simply be in the form of thicker clouds due to stronger updrafts, resulting in no significant increase in albedo at all.  In sum, while it is probable that increased WV will result in more cloud and a greater cloud albedo, the strength of that increase is far from certain with an number of known factors complicating the issue.

    What is worse, you simply ignore the cloud GreenHouse effect.  Again, stronger updrafts created by the condensation of more WV will probably result in higher upper boundaries of clouds, and more high cloud, both of which significantly increase their greenhouse effect.  The balance of the change in GHE and change in Albedo from clouds is not known, but likely a small positive forcing.  Treating clouds simplisticly to arrive at a conclusion of a strong negative feedback is not science.

    Even worse is your treatment of sea surface temperatures.  You simply claim as fact, and without evidence that approx 30 C is an upper limit on sea surface temperatures.  That is an extraordinary claim, as there is literally no mechanism to drive such a limit.  It is the more extraordinary as SST as high as 32 C and above have been observed on the Earth's surface:

     (The 32 C regions stand out better at original resolution)

    That is 5 C above the average tropical SST, so that no higher temperatures have been observed is easily explained in that 5 C increase above average is huge in a body with the thermal inertia of large stretches of ocean - particularly given that winds cause turbulence to deptths of 100 - 700 meters, mixing surface with cooler below surface waters on an ongoing basis.

    Not only are SST above 30 C known today, much higher SSTs were known in the past:

    "The middle Cretaceous (125–88 Ma) greenhouse world was characterized by high atmospheric CO2 levels, the general absence of polar ice caps, and much higher global temperatures than at present. Both δ18O-based and model-based temperature reconstructions indicate extremely high sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) at high latitudes. However, there are a number of uncertainties with SST reconstructions based on δ18O isotope data of foraminifera due to diagenetic overprinting effects and tenuous assumptions with respect to the δ18O value of Cretaceous seawater, the paleoecology of middle Cretaceous marine organisms and seawater pH. Here we applied a novel SST proxy (i.e., TEX86 [tetraether index of 86 carbon atoms], based on the membrane lipids of marine crenarchaeota) derived from middle Cretaceous sedimentary rocks deposited at low latitudes. The TEX86 proxy indicates that tropical SSTs in the proto–North Atlantic were at 32–36 °C during the early Albian and late Cenomanian–early Turonian. This finding agrees with SST estimates based on δ18O paleothermometry of well-preserved foraminifera as well as global circulation model calculations. The TEX86 proxy indicates cooler SSTs (27–32 °C) for the equatorial Pacific during the early Aptian, which is in agreement with SST estimates based on δ18O paleothermometry."

    (My emphasis)

    Frankly, I feel as though you are devolving to argument by mere assertion.  You have now merely asserted as fact several false claims, including that SST do not exceed approx 30 C, and that cold and warm runaway events do not happen.  Your only counter argument to refutation of those points has been an appeal to a false account of positive feedbacks.

     

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  26. Not engaging in the conversation directly; just tossing in a few recent and relevant references to supplement Tom's points:

    Zhou et. al 2013 - "An Analysis of the Short-Term Cloud Feedback Using MODIS Data."

    Evan & Norris 2012 - "On global changes in effective cloud height."

    Keep in mind that ENSO plays a significant role in triopical cloud top height and that the measurements discussed in Evan & Norris cover slightly more than the last decade, a decidedly La Nina-ish period.  Nevertheless, after accounting for a systematic error in sampling, a positive trend in CHT is found for the period. 

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  27. Many here follow the Arctic Sea Ice.  For those who don't, this sea ice map from Feb 20 shows astonishing melting near the North Pole.  The North Pole is not imaged since the satalites do not fly directly over it, but it is clear that there are open areas of ocean at the North Pole in the middle of winter!  It will be interesting to see what the NSIDC has to say about this in their monthly comment around March 7.  Of course the total sea ice extent is near record lows.  Another interestng melt season ahead.

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  28. Tom Curtis @75,

    First, apologies for the long delay.  I'm not leaving you hanging; I've been out of town on a business trip.  Second, apologies for the rushed nature of this comment.  I appreciate and respect the time and thought you put into your responses, and I would give mine a similar amount of time if I could.  But I'd rather give you a brief response than keep you waiting.

    Your points, one by one.

    Feedback in General:  Thanks for the refresher.  My experience with feedback (and feedback loops) comes from economics, where feedback mechanisms are quite common and lead to all sorts of chaotic phenomena (asset bubbles, liquidity crises, bank runs, etc.).  

    Ice Albedo:  No disagreement.  We still agree that the strength of IA feedback will not be constant, but will vary with temperature.

    Water Vapour:  I won't dispute your first point (that WV is not saturated in the tropics and can move to higher altitudes in addition to higher latitudes).  You also correctly point out my mistake for applying the same BOE cos2 assumption as with IA feedback.  I will simply agree that WV feedback will gain strength as temperatures rise.

    I am going to disagree with your last two points.  I don't think it requires anything more than simple assertion to argue that the addition of heat to surface water causes it to evaporate, and rise, and then subsequently condense, and fall back to the surface.  I will also simply assert that vertical heat transfer can occur by convection in addition to radiation,which your response ignores.  My last assertion of the day will be that in any tropical ocean location, the surface temperature after an afternoon rainfall is lower, not higher, than before.

    Second, regarding "the wall" I referred to, I invite you to look at the seasonal temperature chart of any tropical island (far enough from continents to not be affected by land).  Like this one for example:  Note the upper boundary, just above 30C

    You'll note that there's a pretty hard line right around 30C, that forms an upper temperature boundary.  I'm not going to argue whether that's closer to 30C or 32C.  Just that an upper bound exists.  The colourful map you showed confirms this.  What I'd like is your opinon on why such a limit exists at all?  I would argue that as this temperature is approached, a "heat-dump" mechanism is triggered by evaporation and convection.

    Lastly, on the subject of runaway cold events, would you agree that no such events have occured in the last 10 million years?  Yet that period has seen numerous rapid temperature increases and declines, during which polar ice has advanced and retreated rapidly during transitions.  Yet in every single instance, the temperature stabilized and no runaway cooling occured.

    I'll continue to respond to your comment @55 when I have time.

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  29. Tom Curtis @55,

    Continuing with your points:

    "Despite my heavy emphasis on observational estimates of ECS in my preceding post, many of which are paleo estimates (for which estimates of anthropogenic aerosol forcing, and thermal inertia are irrelevant), you again focus solely on computer models."

    Can we agree on a few things:

    1. Observational data are preferable to modeled "data".
    2. Direct measurements more reliable than proxies.
    3. Longer data periods are preferable to shorter periods.
    4. Recent data are more relevant to current conditions than ancient data.
    5. Higher resolution data (both spatially and temporally) is better than lower resolution data.

    If you agree with those, you might see why one might give some weight to a study using recent, higher resolution data, that doesn't rely on proxies, with the caveat that some of the data are modeled and the time period (decades) is relatively short.

    Taking a step back, your objection to my referencing a peer-reviewed study by an assortment of well-credentialed climate scientists, and your argument that I should instead base my beliefs on other peer-reviewed scientific studies means only one thing... there is no scientific consensus on climate sensitivity. If there were a consensus, you wouldn't have needed to make an argument... the papers would have said effectively the same thing.

    But let's look at what the IPCC AR5 says: "No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on values across assessed lines of evidence and studies."

    The word "consensus" seems to be thrown around rather freely to mean whatever someone wants it to mean, but one thing it can't possibly mean is "a lack of agreement".

     

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Please explain what you mean by "modeled 'data' " and provide an example of such 'data'. Thank you.

  30. Mod inline @79, I assume he means data produced from a climate model, eg, model derived climate sensitivity estimates.

    Full response to Russ @78 and @79 tomorrow.

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  31. Russ R @78 & 79, first, sorry for my very tardy response.

    Second, thankyou for your agreement that the WV feedback increases in strength with rising temperature.  As we are near a minimum for the ice albedo feedback, the implication is that we are at, or near a minimum climate sensitivity with respect to the current configuration of continents, and that increasing temperatures will increase climate sensitivity rather than decrease it.

    Having said that, your agreement seems half hearted.  You go on to say:

    "I don't think it requires anything more than simple assertion to argue that the addition of heat to surface water causes it to evaporate, and rise, and then subsequently condense, and fall back to the surface."

    Actually, that does require more than assertion.  The tendency of rising water vapour to condense is a function of temperature.  In an isothermal atmosphere, it would not condense as it rises, and as I recently learned, an atmosphere without greenhouse gases would be isothermal (or an immeasurably close approximation to isothermal).  What you think you can claim by simple assertion is a contingent fact, depending on empirical conditions.

    What is worse, it as a drastic oversimplification.  As I have already discussed the potential impact of cloud top height, you know that your "simple assertion" glosses over a lot of relevant detail that can change the conclusions you seek.  Another example is cloud droplet size.  In optically thick clouds, increasing cloud droplet size decreases albedo.  With more water vapour in the air, cloud droplet size is likely to increase (a fact evident everyday with the large, heavy droplets of rain found in the tropics).  Consequently warming air will likely reduce cloud albedo per unit area, but may increase cloud area.  You seem to be prepared to "simply assert" that the former effect is irrelevant, and only the later need be considered.  Certainly you "rebutted" evidence that warmer temperatures will increase the GHE of clouds by your "simple assertion".

    Frankly, in the face of these and other complexities, your simple assertion has all the logical elegance, and persuasiveness of (snip)

    You also simply asserted that "... vertical heat transfer can occur by convection in addition to radiation,which your response ignores", which is odd given that none of my points relied on denying or ignoring that, and one (increased cloud height with increased temperature) directly relied on the fact that heat can be transferred by convection.

    Your last simple assertion was that "...in any tropical ocean location, the surface temperature after an afternoon rainfall is lower, not higher, than before".  That may be true, or not.  I have seen, and you have provided no data on that fact.  It is probable, IMO, in that tropical rainfall tends to start around 2-3 pm (ie, once the day starts cooling), and finish one to two hours later.  Your imputation that the cooling is due to the rainfall is, therefore, very dubious.  Rather, on nearly all afternoons in the marine tropics, it cools in the afternoon after about 1-2 pm, and that cooling may well result in precipitation.  (I notice that you are carefull to cherry pick your assertion by limiting it to afternoon rainfall.  Morning rainfall, I am sure, is accompanied on most occassions by a warming with time.)

    Moving on, you continue to attempt to defend your claim of a wall in sea surface temperatures.  This time you do so by showing that if you average an unspecified number of years data of averages of approximately 30 days data (monthly averages) the temperatures do not show extremes.  That was, of course, obvious from the moment you took averages.

    If instead of looking at averages, you look at daily temperatures you find things are more variable:

    In this case, the daily temperatures are for 2010, Kiritimati, Kirribati.  For Tarrawa, Kirribati, temperatures have reached as high as 40 C, both in March and December.  What is more, maximum (and average) temperatures in Kirribati have been increasing.  In the case of maximum temperatures, they have increased by 0.18 C per decade since 1950, or by 1.1 C over that period.  Neither local maximum temperature records, nor the increase over time seem aware of the wall you are so confident in.

    There are good physical reasons to think the very high maximum temperatures occassionally experienced in Kirribati are not perfectly reflected in SST.  Indeed, had they been, they would have broken the world record SST of 36.67 C (Persian Gulf).  But that record itself shows your wall to not exist.  Likewise the higher SST in past eras determined by proxies show the wall to not exist.  The "wall" is a figment of the imagination, having no physical basis, and stands refuted by actual temperature records from instruments and proxies.

    Perhaps you will not shift the wall up to 36 C.  If so, you will make the fallacy of the reasoning behind the wall plain to all.  For any set of circumstances, there must be some SST which is not in fact exceded.  What that temperature is is a function of the particular circumstances.  The existence of a de facto limit in no way proves that it is an absolute limit, such that if circumstances change it will not be exceeded.  Treating it as such is simple a non sequitor.

    (More later)

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] snipped portion unlikely to promote constructive debate,

  32. Tom Curtis @81,

    No need to apologize for the tardy response.

    What you should, however, be apologizing for is what amounts to the most egregious cherry pick I've ever seen.

    You showed a daily high temperature at Kirimati on Oct 26, 2010 of 37C as evidence to counter my "wall" argument about tropical ocean temperatures.

    Without further comment, here are the full daily records at that station back to 2000:

    2000

    2000

    2001

    2001

    2002

    2002

    2003

    2003

    2004

    2004

    2005

    2005

    2006

    2006

    2007

    2007

    2008

    2008

    2009

    2009

    2010

    2010

    2011

    2011

    2012

    2012

    2013

    2013

    2014 (ytd)

    2014

     

     

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  33. While we are on the subject of "egregious cherry pick"s, I wonder why we are using sea temperatures from a Central Pacific island to illustrate maximun sea temperatures?  Kirimati is one of the farthest east islands in the Pacific.  Everyone knows that the highest temperatures in the Pacific are always in the Western Pacific.  The trade winds push the hottest water west.  The claim that it is desirable to get away from continental effects is not sufficient to choose an area strongly affected by upwelled cold water coming from the coast of South America. A location where sea temperatures are not artificialy lowered would be a much better location to use for this example. November in Rabul is already 30.2 average and 31.2 maximum.

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  34. Russ R @82, I find it seriously offensive that mister "only studies which find low climate sensitivity are valid" should accuse me of cherry picking.

    In this case, you are claiming that there is a wall on ocean temperatures at, or about 30 C.  As already explained, that tropical ocean temperatures are very stable is hardly surprising.  They are ocean temperatures, with a large thermal mass.  They are tropical temperatures, with near contant insolation over the year.  And they are smoothed (mixed) both vertically across the thermocline, and laterally by both currents and wind so that large excursions are unlikely.  That smoothing was not enough for you.  You presented as evidence of the "wall" data that was a multi-annual montly average.  That is, you presented as evidence of an upper limit on temperatures data that had any excursions beyond that limit smoothed out.

    As to my purported cherry pick, to falsify the claim that a temperture series never exceeds 32 C, I need present only one example of a record above 32 C.  That you then accuse me of "cherry picking" because I focus on an instance that falsifies your claim shows cutzpah, I'll grant you.  It does not show intellectual integrity.  In fact it shows rather the opposite, in that you gloss over the fact that my supposedly "cherry picked" example is not the only example of such a high temperature in the data shown, or even the highest shown (see also 2005 which has a day with a maximum temperture higher than 37 C).  It also glosses over the fact that I pointed to two monthly records for a nearby station of 40 C, and to the highest recorded SST which is well in excess of your "wall".

    If you are going to accuse me of cherry picking for pointing to instances that falsify your claims, this discussion is over.  If you want it to continue, I expect an apology.  If that is not forthcoming, I have done more than enough to show that on the science of climate change you are ignorant, and in fact dismiss any data you find inconvenient from consideration. 

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  35. Tom Curtis,

    Do you honestly believe that the 37C measurement you're pointing to is any more accurate or reliable than the 13C outlier in 2007 or the 2C reading in 2006?

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  36. Following one of Tom's links I found this graph:

    Major climate features of the West Pacific Ocean

    original site Interestingly, Russ's temperature graph was just above it (Russ does not link data).

    Kiritimati is located just above the "d" in Trade Winds, approximately 3,000 miles from the warm pool.  Tarawa is just below the "K" in Kirabati, approximately 500 miles from the warm pool and 1000 miles from the center of the warm pool.  I note that the warm pool is not near any continents. Russ is trying to support his wild claim that ocean temperatures are limited by using data 3,000 miles from the hot locations of the Pacific ocean.  It is impossible to support Russ's wild claim using this data. Data from warm areas must be used.  Tom's explaination that the temperature is stable from thermal mass and current mixing completely explains the ocean temperatures at Kiritimati.

    The temperatures Russ is currently arguing over are land temperatures.  It is difficult to understand how land temperatures could possibly relate to a "wall" for ocean temperatures. It wastes our time when Russ makes these distracting arguments for arguments sake.

    Russ  has provided no citations to support his wild claim that ocean temperatures are limited.  This would be in the peer reviewed literature if it was even a remote possibility.  It is a waste of time for Russ to cite land temperatures 3,000 miles from the hottest ocean to support his wild claim.  

    It is sloganeering to continue to post unsupported arguments.  At a scientific blog peer reviewed data is required.  Russ should be required to support his arguments like everyone else.

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  37. Russ R @86, the possibility that the reading was spurious occurred to me when I first saw it.  However, to accept it as spurious we need to also treat the similar reading in 2005 as spurious, and the (at least) two readings of 40 C at Tarawa as spurious.  In fact, for Tarawa, the highest recorded temperatures by month are:

    Jan: 38 C

    Feb: 34 C

    Mar: 40 C

    April: 34 C

    May:  33 C

    June: 38 C

    July: 34 C

    Aug: 34 C

    Sep:  37C

    Oct:  34 C

    Nov:  34 C

    Dec:  40 C

    That's five out of twelve monthly records you will want to elliminate as spurious, plus two from Kirimati.  You realy don't like data that contradicts your claims.  Do you?

    Further, all that is required for a very high land temperature on Kirrimati or Tarawa is a very still day, such that air over land has longer to heat up and ocean water warms rapidly at the surface due to decreased wind driven mixing (and lagoon water even more so due to shallow depth).  I wonder, how could an Island that lies in the Inter Tropical Conergence Zone experience a day or two with little or no wind?

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  38. For the record, Tarawa has a minimum recent recorded temperature of 14 C, and several in the vicinity of 17C.   I therefore have no grounds to reject the 13 C recorded in Kirimati as spurious.  The 2 C and 0 C, on the other hand, are suspicious, having no analogue temperatures in nearby stations, nor any ready explanation (that I can think of).

    Also, as an addendum to my prior post - the 2010 record temperature at Kirimati coincides with a day with zero cloud cover, very low humidity, and very low wind speeds - a combination that supports my hypothesis as to the cause, and that it is not spurious.

    A further addendum - Russ R has not shifted the grounds of criticizing that falsifying data.  He is no longer claiming a cherry pick as such, but has not apologized for his unwarranted accusation.

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  39. Tom Curtis @87 & @88,

    1. If your record day in Kirimati in 2010 had "very low humidity" why would it be in any way relevant to my argument about the convective behaviour of water vapour?
    2. The data I presented covered 14.2 years or around 5187 days... you're pointing to 2 of those days.  I'm pointing to the other 5185 days (99.96% of the data record) which show a remarkably consistent upper boundary.  (Where I come from, when you present an argument, but your data actually makes the exact opposite case, we call that an own goal.)
    3. Tarawa's weather station is located at an Bonriki International Airport. I'll leave it to you to ponder what an asphalt covered airstrip might do to daily max temperature readings.
    4. Pointing at the Persian Gulf SST as refuting evidence of how water vapor behaves in the tropics is a bit curious since the Persian Gulf is not in the tropics, its humidity is often negligible, and its geography as a body of water is analagous to that of an inflatible wading pool in a parking lot.

    And yes, I'm still calling your October 26, 2010 Kirimati high temperature an "egregious cherry-pick"... the data are in plain view above.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] You are now skating on the thin ice of excessive repetition which is banned by the SkS Comments Policy.

  40. michael sweet, 

    Allow me to refer you to the definition of "sloganeering" the comments policy:

    • No sloganeering. Comments consisting of simple assertion of a myth already debunked by one of the main articles, and which contain no relevant counter argument or evidence from the peer reviewed literature constitutes trolling rather than genuine discussion. As such they will be deleted. If you think our debunking of one of those myths is in error, you are welcome to discuss that on the relevant thread, provided you give substantial reasons for believing the debunking is in error. It is asked that you do not clutter up threads by responding to comments that consist just of slogans.

    If you would kindly point me to the main article that "debunks" my argument, then I'll put it to rest.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] What exactly is your "argument"?

  41. RussR wrote " Sea surface temperatures never get above ~30C because thunderstorms (or occasionally tropical cyclones) limit further temperature increases and bring temperatures back down."

    and later complained

    RussR wrote "The data I presented covered 14.2 years or around 5187 days... you're pointing to 2 of those days. I'm pointing to the other 5185 days (99.96% of the data record) which show a remarkably consistent upper boundary."

    You made an assertion, if you say that something can't happen, then pointing out a single occasion on which it did happen is not a cherry pick, it is a counter example that proves your assertion to be incorrect.  Now if you were genuinely interested in scientific discussion, you would admit that your assertion was incorrect, and possibly revise it.  Instead you have attempted to bluster your way out of it by accusing Tom of cherry picking.  Sorry, I am not impressed, you are just continuing your trollish behaviour demonstrated earlier in the thread.  If you want to retain a shred of credibility, then just man up and admit your assertion was incorrect.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] It is also incumbent upon Russ R to provide references to published and peer-reviewed scientific papers which support his assertion.

  42. Russ R. - I believe that the thread on Tropical Thermostats and Global Warming would the most relevant discussion, where Chris Colose states that:

    ...there is no compelling physical justification to suggest that the tropical sea surface temperatures must be pegged at some maximum value independent of the forcing, or that clouds/evaporation must act as some sort of tropical regulation mechanism.

    I suggest taking further discussion of any 'thermostat' hypothesis there. 

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Thank you for ferreting out the Chris Colose article. I also agree that any further discussion of Russ R's assertion about sea surface temperatures take place on its comment thread.

  43. Dikran Marsupial @91,

    "Now if you were genuinely interested in scientific discussion, you would admit that your assertion was incorrect, and possibly revise it."

    Very well, you've made your case.  I accept that I was incorrect and in light of the data, will revise my argument from "never" to "less than 0.1% of the time".

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [JH] You have reverted to your snarky persona. If you continue down this path, there will be consequences.

  44. KR@92,

    Thanks for the link.  As I promised to michael sweet, I will "put it to rest" here, and take any further "thermostat" arguments to that thread.

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  45. I have posted a comment on the thread suggested by KR.  I have looked at Eschenbach's data, for at least he provided some (unlike Russ).  I show from that data that it contradicts, rather than supports, Eschenbach's hypothesis, both because it shows a more poorly defined upper limit on temperatures in warm months than in cooler months; and because large scale statistical features of the data that Eschenbach attributes attempt to explain in light of his hypothesis, which therefore would be evidence for his hypothesis, are in fact a consequence of the actual pattern of insolation found in the tropics (which is not what is often naively supposed to be the case).  As those patterns have a sufficient explanation in facts that are both well established by theory and observation, they are not evidence of some hypothetical alternative explanation.  

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  46. Russ R @89:

    1)  Your hypothesis is that high temperatures will automatically result in high humidity.  A failure of that connection is further refutation of that hypothesis, not justification for ignoring the data.

    2)  The data you presented does not show a "remarkably consistent upper boundary".  It shows a distribution, with daily maximum temperatures ranging between 18 C and 27 C.  The mean is close to 29 C, with a standard deviation around 1- 2 C.  To show "a remarkably consistent upper boundary" you need to show the actual statistical distribution, and show that it has a sharp cut off.  You have not even made an attempt at that.  Nor have you defined the supposed "upper boundary" to even know whether it lies at 1 or 2 standard deviations from the mean.  Rather, you have hedged your claim to make it unfalsifiable.  When it was found that you had not hedged it enough, you provided ad hoc reasons to ignore contrary data.  And now, you use an arbitrary binning method to ignore the fact that the data do not show a consistent upper limit at all.  The only trope of pseudo-science your missing is the conspiracy theory.

    3)  You introduced Tarawa, not me.  If you objected to the data, you should have mentioned that before detailed analysis showed it did not support your opinion.  It is very revealing, however, that you consider the data source suitable when it supports your views, but unsuitable when it does not.

    4)  The Red Sea also shows temperatures comfortably above you supposed upper limit.  It is over 100 km wide at nearly all points, and has an average depth of 490 meters.  Therefore if the supposed mechanism of your upper limit worked, it would work in the Red Sea.  But yet again, we will find, any data that falsifies your views will be excluded by you as irrelevant on specious grounds.

    Russ R @93:

    "Dikran Marsupial @91,

    "Now if you were genuinely interested in scientific discussion, you would admit that your assertion was incorrect, and possibly revise it."

    Very well, you've made your case. I accept that I was incorrect..."

    Yet still no apology for the false accusation of cherry picking.

    Well, who cares anymore.  Russ has so trashed his intellectual reputation that I see no point in further discussion with him regardless of any apology or lack of it.  As the good book says, "Do not cast your pearls before swine."

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  47. RussR wrote: "Very well, you've made your case. I accept that I was incorrect and in light of the data, will revise my argument from "never" to "less than 0.1% of the time"."

    This is the sort of facile smart-alec response that I would expect from someone who is merely trolling, and so your credibility here slips another notch.  If you were genuinely interested in the science you would have made a serious attempt to revise your scientific position, rather than just add a post-hoc loophole in an attempt to limp on for a while longer.  Nobody is fooled by this, I am always amazed by Tom's patience, and the difference between his attitude and your speaks volumes, pity you seem unable to follow his example.

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Russ R is on a very short leash with respect to compliance with the SkS Comments Policy. He has been warned multiple times about the need to comply. Any future posts he makes on the 'thermostat' hypothesis will be summarily deleted for violating the "excessive repetition" prohibition. Russ may respond to the new materials posted in response to his last post, provided his response is substantial, and not (yet again) merely dismissing contrary data because it is inconvenient.

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