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Posts Tagged ‘Warming’

R.I.P.

2009/11/22 1 comment

SciDev.net’s Plea: Get The Science Straight!

2009/09/16 2 comments

Questioning the soundness of climate-related science should not be the realm solely of climate skeptics. That’s what makes the following even more welcome.

Get the science straight on climate change and disease – Climate change’s complex links with insect-borne disease need solid research — not alarmism that distracts from other crucial factors

That’s the start of a courageous, no-holds-barred Sep 9, 2009 editorial by Sian Lewis on SciDev.net (“a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world“).

In normal times, Lewis’ words would sound obvious in the extreme (and no: SciDev.net is not a hotbed of hard-core AGW skeptics – read also this). But these times of “climate porn” (see also here and here) are not normal times at all.

A few excerpts from Lewis’ article:

  • research agendas must both respond to social needs and offer good science
  • fulfilling the second condition is more tricky
  • There is clearly a link between insect-borne diseases and climate
  • But a whole host of non-climate factors also influence disease transmission…
  • So we mustn’t go overboard, reading too much into the role of climate change at the expense of research into other triggers of these major diseases
  • good science is crucial for good policy
  • The task is urgent — but this must not lead to short-cuts

The editorial is an introduction to

a series of articles [that] explore the evidence for (and against) the notion that climate change will worsen the burden of insect-borne disease, highlights gaps in our knowledge, and provides advice to policymakers

Interestingly, given that

how well models can predict these effects is a particularly thorny issue in the debate“,

then

the solution, according to Jonathan Cox, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is to forget predictive modelling for the moment and focus on research with a better chance of improving disease control“.

“Forget predictive modelling”…if only!!

Northeast Passage’s “First Known Commercial Shipment”? Almost

2009/09/14 4 comments

Andy Revkin at DotEarth’s “Welcome to Earth’s ‘New’ Ocean: The Arctic” (about the navigation of the “Northeast Passage” by two German ships) has not yet found time to reply to my question as outlined below:

In Tom Nelson’s blog there is a link at Answer.com where several sources (including Wikipedia) repeat information about the Northeast Passage (Northern Sea Route) progressively becoming more and more easy to navigate during the last few centuries, of several expeditions going all the way decades ago, of commercial exploitation from 1877. Would Mr Revkin be so kind as to comment, and perhaps clarify what he and/or Lawson W Brigham exactly meant with “this is, indeed, a first“. – thank you in advance

Revkin’s actual words include “first known commercial shipment” and “Lawson W. Brigham, a longtime source for anything related to Arctic shipping, confirmed that this is, indeed, a first“. Yes but…a first of what? If “commercial exploitation began in 1877” then the latest “first” needs some good qualifier. Here’s what the Company managing those German ships actually claims in their website (sep 9):

We are all very proud and delighted to be the first western shipping company which has successfully transited the legendary Northeast-Passage

Trade magazine Break-bulk appears to confirm:

The two vessels will then be the first non-Russian commercial vessels to make it through the Northeast Passage from Asia to Europe

Was this all too difficult to read and understand? Would the explanation of the “non-Russian” bit have removed too much from the news for it to get any space in the newspaper?

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I am not sure if I will ever get an answer from Revkin.

What I am sure of though is that a little less ambiguity and a little more explanation on his part would have been quite welcome. Otherwise readers might get the impression that either the Northeast Passage is ready for leisure yachts, or that it has been forever closed by giant chunks of ice for millennia…

Neandertals At Risk Of Causing AGW Extinction

2009/08/03 1 comment

Another gem from the August issue of Scientific American, a few pages after David Appell’s climate double-entendre titled “Stumbling Over Data“: it’s time now for Kate Wong’s “The Mysterious Downfall of the Neandertals“, given the pride of cover to discuss the most up-to-date theories about the disappearance of those “bygone humans” around 28,000 years ago.

Here’s a detail of one of the theories:

[…] the isotope data reveal that far from progressing steadily from mild to frigid, [between roughly 65,000 and 25,000 years] the climate became increasingly unstable heading into the last glacial maximum, swinging severely and abruptly. With that flux came profound ecological change: forests gave way to treeless grassland; reindeer replaced certain kinds of rhinoceroses. So rapid were these oscillations that over the course of an individual’s lifetime, all the plants and animals that a person had grown up with could vanish and be replaced with unfamiliar flora and fauna. And then, just as quickly, the environment could change back again. […]

What else goes extinct then with our barrel-chested, stocky-limbed cousins in the space of a few sentences? Let’s see: unprecedented climate change; global warming endangering polar bears; life on Earth threatened by wild climate swings; collapsing global ecosystems; disappearing coral reefs; upcoming biodiversity crisis; etc etc etc.

Not only that…if our direct ancestors’ “somewhat wider range of cultural adaptations provided a slightly superior buffer against hard times“, why would those characteristics fail us now, their direct descendants more than 280 centuries later?

Unless of course we force ouselves to admit that our forefathers were wiser than us, stuck as we are into asking our so-called leaders to stop the solar cycle, or elicit volcanic eruptions

Scientists: Mediterranean Sea “Not Warming”

2009/06/24 5 comments

(via Piero Vietti’s Cambi di Stagione. My translation of course)

17 JUN 2009 From the ongoing OGS conference on Observational Oceanography in Trieste, Italy – Rome, 17 June (Apcom) – No water warming processes are likely to be undergoing in the Mediterranean. It’s one of the preliminary results obtained under MedArgo, the “sister project”, coordinated by OGS [the Italian National Institute on Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics].

MedArgo deals specifically with the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding countries and is part of EuroArgo, the European component of the international Argo project.

Argo’s objective is an intensive analysis of the seas to see what are the impacts of climate change and global warming on the waters of our planet and, consequently, also on its ecosystems. That is why 60 European scientists are comparing data and knowledge at the Second EuroArgo Conference on Observational Oceanography, being held in Trieste, and organized by OGS.

In order to study the chemical and physical parameters of the waters of the seas, OGS uses special tools called “float profilers” [?], battery-powered cylindrical tubes released into sea currents. Devices last between 3 and 4 years and collect 150-200 profiles before being abandones.

“These instruments – says Pierre-Marie Poulain, Head of the Remote Sensing Group at OGS and coordinator of MedArgo – go down to an average depth of 350 meters and remain there for five days. Then they do a quick foray to 2,000 meters and come back up, measuring the physical parameters of the water column and transmitting the data via satellite. Everything is done in real time: the data arrives at research centers, scattered throughout the world, where it is processed, managed and disseminated to the community of scientists.”

At present, there are around 3,000 profilers worldwide, spaced apart by about 300 kilometers. In the European seas there are 800 profiles, 23 of which in the Mediterranean Sea, with the objective of bringing the total to 30 for a complete coverage of the basin.

As well as coordinating the launching of the profilers, OGS is also involved in collecting the data recorded on the characteristics of currents, temperature and salinity. The researchers from Trieste are, in fact, among the few with the oceanographical skills needed to perform the necessary quality control.

MedArgo so far has collected a series of data that illustrate what is happening in the Mediterranean. “The Mediterranean current – adds Poulain – is an important engine of the local circulation, because it influences all motions of this enclosed sea. On the basis of information gathered so far, all we can anticipate is that at the moment there are no processes warming the waters. But we will have more details only at the end of the project, with the final data in hand.”

Behind Climate, Weather Is Still King

2009/02/22 5 comments

Twenty-third century historians debating who would be so anti-scientific as to associate an episode of extreme weather to climate, and especially to global warming, will have to look no further than two recent blogs on the recent Australian disaster:

A few things need to be firmly kept in mind:

With that in the background, let’s have a look at Brook’s work first. And it is not a pleasant one:

So, in Adelaide we have two freakishly rare extreme events happening with a 10 month period. How likely is that? Well, if the events are totally independent, we’d expect the joint likelihood of two such heatwaves (of 0.25% probability per year [the 2009 event] and 0.033% per year [2008 event], respectively), occurring within the same 12 month period, to happen about once every 1,200,000 years. Is that unlikely enough for you? But if there is ‘autocorrelation’ (dependencies between the two events due to a linked cause — such as climate change), this calculated probability is not valid.

If that isn’t a true example of why statistics have such a bad reputation (“lies, damned lies, and…”), then I do not know what is. And if that doesn’t show that Brook cannot properly talk about climate, as he doesn’t look like having even the faintest clue of what makes some days warmer than others, then I do not know what does.

And what does make some days warmer than others? Weather. By definition.

The 2009 Australian summer around Adelaide and Melbourne has seen some particularly hot days because of a peculiar weather pattern, with winds bringing hot, dry desert air towards the inhabited coast (there might have been also an intervening Foehn (warming) effect, but let’s keep that aside for the moment).

The underlying weather pattern has been described by the National Climate Centre at the Australian Government’s Bureau of Metereology:

The presence of a slow-moving high pressure system in the Tasman Sea, combined with an intense tropical low off the northwest coast of Western Australia and an active monsoon trough, provided the ideal conditions for hot tropical air to be directed over the southern parts of the continent

NASA’s Land Surface Temperature Anomaly picture reinforces this point: one can clearly see how warm air has been pushed towards Victoria, just as cool air towards Queensland. And an intervening band in the middle has then experienced whatever temperatures it usually experiences.

It’s just the same air movement. If you push “oceanic air” over Queensland, the existing “Queensland air” will move towards Victoria, and so on and so forth closing the high-pressure system circle somewhere to the East of Australia. You can get a similar result with a low-pressure system somewhere to the West too. If the two combine, so much more evident the Queensland cooling and Victoria warming. Does one need to be a veteran metereologist to understand such an easy point?

Even the briefest introduction to metereology and climatology should  make very clear to everybody how incredibly naïve and totally anti-scientific is the belief that “global warming” means hotter days in this or that part of the planet. In fact, the question Brook should have asked is: do that “slow-moving high-pressure system” and “intense tropical low” in those particular places, and that “monsoon trough”, have anything to do with (anthropogenic) climate change?

But of course Brook just about cannot get anywhere in that direction

the heatwave that struck Europe is 2003 provides a good way to illustrate my final point, thanks to a neat analysis published in Nature in 2004

Who knows, one day he may wake up to a 2007 paper, three years later that is, by Chase et al. published in the Geophysical Research Letters, asking “Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context?” and responding

Regression analyses do not provide strong support for the idea that regional heat or cold waves are significantly increasing or decreasing with time during the period considered here (1979–2003)

I am all for free speech, and Brook and the likes can keep on blaming perversity for the worst kind of climate change denial but there must be a point where they have to recognize how silly it is to appeal to science without understanding a iota of it.

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Karoly’s contribution is of a different quality, with no absolute-weather-beginner mistaken mention of reality-divorced probabilities (Karoly even talks, briefly, about weather patterns…).

His point appears to be a rather old one though. Why would heatwaves be attributable to anthropogenic global warming? Because Karoly himself, with Braganza, managed some time ago to simulate observations using climate models that include “increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases and aerosols” (see his 2004 paper referred to in the blog).

Actually, to be more precise, what happened is that Karoly and Braganza were unable to simulate observations using “natural climate variations alone“. Perish the thought that the problem might have been an inappropriate definition of those “natural climate variations”…

In any case, given the apparent strength of Karoly’s convictions dating from 2004, one might start wondering why the Chair for the “Detection and Attribution: State of Play in 2009” (Parallel Session 9) in Copenhagen would be Ann Henderson-Sellers of all people. Who she? The one claiming in the session’s very description that

the detection and attribution story was incomplete [at the time of the IPCC AR4 in 2007] due to ‘Key Uncertainties’ listed by IPCC

and listing in a September 2008 article, among the seven “Serious inadequacies in climate change prediction that are of real concern

  • The rush to emphasize regional climate does not have a scientifically sound basis […]
  • Until and unless major oscillations in the Earth System (El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) etc.) can be predicted to the extent that they are predictable, regional climate is not a well defined problem. […]

Notice how Henderson-Sellers goes on to say that “WGII is easily the weakest of the three reports. The reasons seem to be two-fold: (i) poor downscaling and (ii) the lack of a coherent methodology for impact study“.

I am sorry for Prof. Karoly but either Prof. Henderson-Sellers is very wrong on more than one point (and then what would she be doing as Chair of one session in Copenhagen?); or Karoly’s own 2004 work, and his present stance are just an example of what Henderson-Sellers describes as the rushed, scientifically unsound regional climate emphasis around a non-well-defined problem, plagued by poor downscaling and dealing with a climatic impact without a well-recognized methodology.

Does Karoly understand this problem? I think he does. Cue his large caveat about his large claim

Although formal attribution studies quantifying the influence of climate change on the increased likelihood of extreme fire danger in south-east Australia have not yet been undertaken, it is very likely that there has been such an influence

Karoly’s own language gymnastics is remarkable, with just about the right mix of “clear” and “likely” to pass most logic tests, in case things don’t turn up as expected. He’s not the first athlete to enter such a competition though.

Finally, it certainly doesn’t look too good when Karoly provides three papers linking “observed and expected increases in forest fire activity […] to climate change” but no mention of the lack of any comprehensive analysis (think of the absence of trends in fires around the Mediterranean region for example).

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It is rather sad to see what started as the science of climate turning pretty much into a parody, with reports and explanations forever running after the latest disaster. Very simply, this cannot be right.

Barbecued Climate Stations: Reality Catches Up With Fiction

For a bit of Sunday fun, compare the picture of the official NOAA USHCN climate station of record in Fairbury, NE (from WUWT’s “How not to measure temperature, part 75” of Nov 20, 2008) with the cartoon published on WUWT’s “Grilling the Data” of Sep 19, 2007

Official NOAA USHCN climate station of record in Fairbury, NE

Official NOAA USHCN climate station of record in Fairbury, NE

How do you want that data?

How do you want that data?

They have substituted a tree for the happy “I love UHI” chap and the sausages…perhaps the NOAA USHCN people are starting to get inspiration from WUWT jokes to locate their climate stations?

NASA Study Confirms Climatic Impact of Weather Station Relocation

2008/11/22 6 comments

UPDATE NOV 25: Anthony Watts did cover the mentioned LA weather station in a March 24, 2008 post. I was looking for the Earth Observatory link, while he mentions the JPL one. Still, my blog below adds to the story, by providing links to the original Poster Presentation and pointing out that many stations were moved around 1998-1999.

Perhaps there is a good reason why the study below is not mentioned in Watts Up With That or at surfacestations.org. Perhaps it’s just me unable to use Google properly. Or for some reason I am the first one making the connection.

So in full glare of all my ignorance I point to this Poster Presentation at the 16th Applied Climatology Conference, American Meteorological Society, Jan. 14-18, 2007, San Antonio, TX (joint with the 14th Symposium on Meteorological Observations and Instrumentation):

Patzert, W.C., S. LaDochy, J. K. Willis, and T. Mardirosian, 2007: Will the real Los Angeles stand up: Impacts of a station move on climate records (and record weather) (short Abstract) (long Abstract)

Some may remember seeing that study mentioned on NASA’s Earth Observatory (EO)’s “A Tale of Two Sites: Impacts of Relocating L.A.’s Weather Station” (Jan 17, 2007).

Since it’s a Poster Presentation, a brief note about the authors is due, to check their trustworthiness (you wouldn’t believe what is presented nowadays as “poster” in many scientific conferences):

“Mardirosian Mystery” aside: what is that they’ve found?

In August, 1999, the National Weather Service (NWS) moved the official downtown Civic Center weather station to the University of Southern California (USC) campus, a 3.78 miles (almost 6 km) distance to the southwest of its previous location near city center at the Department of Water & Power (DWP) […]

By moving the official LA downtown weather station location, weather is now recorded as cooler, drier and less extreme than at its original DWP location […] there appears to be a discontinuity in the records. Maximum and mean temperatures are cooler, especially Tmax. Minimum temperatures are similar for the two sites. DWP also records higher rainfall amounts, although there is great variability monthly and inter-annually. Extremes occur less often at USC than DWP. […]

Moving a weather station away from the city resulted in cooler, drier, and less extreme weather. And in a “discontinuity in the records”. That appears to vindicate all the work done by Anthony Watts and surfacestations indeed.

Consequences? For example:

[…] In the 2004-5 water year (July 1-June 30), the USC rain total was 37.25” (946.2 mm), second only to 1883-84, which had 38.18” (969.8 mm). However, DWP recorded 38.32 (973.3 mm), which would have been the wettest year on record for downtown Los Angeles had not the station moved […]

[…] At USC, the all-time record for highest temperature minimum for the date June 4th was set with 68oF (previous record being 66F in 1997). At DWP, the Tmin was 70F. […]

We are talking 973.3-946.2=27.1mm and 70F-66F=around 1C overestimated in downtown LA compared to the new site. In the first case, we would have heard about “yet another climate record” having been broken. In the second case, we would have been told a temperature value that is more wrong than the total estimated temperature increase from 1850 to today.

And it’s just one station, where they were “fortunate in that the original location (DWP) is still in operation and can be compared to the new site“. Sounds ominous doesn’t it? It means that most of the time, a new station’s measures are simply attached to the previous one’s, with no time provided for suitable medium-term comparison.

Actually, it’s worse. From the EO:

The National Weather Service moved the station [in 1999] as part of a nationwide effort to locate all official weather stations on ground-level sites in natural settings

In other words, there are many weather station records that are for all intents and purposes useless for comparing recent data to measure done before around 1999.

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And before somebody says that the above would have resulted in a spurious cooling trend for LA: it doesn’t matter. What matters is always the quality of the data.

And if NASA says that many weather stations have poor quality records, doubts on the very existence of an ongoing, potentially worrying global warming can only increase.

Has anybody noticed how the “warming trend” has almost stopped…exactly since 1999?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Climate Change

2008/11/21 9 comments

(yes, it has already been used: here, here, here, here, here)

Will human civilization survive the giant climate shifts that will be caused by our SUVs (or by any other cardinal sin brought about by the comforts of modern life)? And what about humanity?

Who knows?

But one thing I am now more sure of. The biosphere will do just fine. Plenty of animals and plants and bacteria and archeas and viruses will prosper if the world will get warmer, if it will get cooler, or if it will continue as before (whatever the meaning of “continue as before” is).

And it’s all written loud and clear in scientific, peer-reviewed literature. For example:

Jeffrey P. Severinghaus and Edward J. Brook, “Abrupt Climate Change at the End of the Last Glacial Period Inferred from Trapped Air in Polar Ice“, Science, 29 October 1999: Vol. 286. no. 5441, pp. 930 – 934 DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5441.930 (Abstract)

The last glacial period was terminated by an abrupt warming event in the North Atlantic ~15,000 years before the present, and warming events of similar age have been reported from low latitudes […] the Greenland Summit warmed 9 ± 3°C over a period of several decades, beginning 14,672 years ago […]

Jørgen Peder Steffensen et al., “High-Resolution Greenland Ice Core Data Show Abrupt Climate Change Happens in Few Years“, originally published in Science Express on 19 June 2008, Science 1 August 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5889, pp. 680 – 684 DOI: 10.1126/science.1157707 (Abstract, free Full Text)

The last two abrupt warmings at the onset of our present warm interglacial period, interrupted by the Younger Dryas cooling event, were investigated at high temporal resolution from the North Greenland Ice Core Project ice core […] A northern shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone could be the trigger of these abrupt shifts of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation, resulting in changes of 2 to 4 kelvin in Greenland moisture source temperature from one year to the next.

Let’s also keep in mind that 8 ice ages and 8 warm ages have happened during the last 800,000 years.

What can we conclude?

  1. Abrupt climatic changes happen quite often
  2. There is a sizable amount of evidence of climate changes more abrupt than anything experienced in recorded human history. In other words, present-day temperature changes are neither special nor unprecedented
  3. All existing species have gone through several rounds of those abrupt climatic changes. ADDENDUM: And since there is no evidence for periodic widespread extinction episodes linked in any way to the changes in climate, we can rest assured that the overwhelming majority of species adapt to cooler and warmer environments
  4. With or without humanity, another climate change is bound to happen. And another. And another. (etc etc)

Hence, there is very little sense in all the cries about global warming being the destroyer of life on Earth, or of any species in particular.

Note that Humanity itself has survived everything that has been thrown at it. If anybody is seriously worried, rather than overcomplicated and resultless negotiations on carbon emissions, they should dedicate all their efforts to mantaining civilization (=adaptation).

And if we take the LIA into account: who can seriously think that present-day humanity has feebler defences than 1650’s?

The Pointlesseness of Climate Data

2008/11/16 4 comments

Brett Anderson of Accuweather links to a Nov 5, 2008 Earth Observatory article by Rebecca Lindsey, “Correcting Ocean Cooling“, examining how Josh Willis “determined that there were errors” in his “Recent Cooling of the Upper Ocean” work.

(both the 2007 correction and 2006 original are available at this link)

Brett explains that:

“After applying a correction, the historical record shows a relatively steady increase (ocean heat content) in line with what’s shown by climate models”

I am sorry but it does sound fishy that all the hard digging was done only because the data were too cool. One is left with the lingering feeling that no such an effort ever materializes for data that shows warming (talk about WARMING BIAS there…)

And in fact: taking the Earth Observatory article at face value, one can indeed figure out the real reason behind Willis’ revisiting of his original data. At the time of publication of the original article (2006):

Willis described the [original] results as a “speed bump” on the way to global warming

Apparently, he soon convinced himself his data was not right. In February 2007, Willis said to his wife:

“I think ocean cooling isn’t real”

Why? Because:

In fact, every body was telling me I was wrong

And what was Willis’ own “tipping point”?

It wasn’t until that next year of data came in that the cooling in the Atlantic became so large and so widespread that Willis accepted the cooling trend for what is was: an unambiguous sign that something in the observations was “clearly not right.”

In all likelihood, had the original data shown warming, and/or the “next year of data” shown widespread warming, few if anybody would have told Willing that he was “wrong“. Chances are he would not have re-analysed anything at all.

The real irony can be extracted from the end of the EO piece:

We need multiple, independent, overlapping sets of observations of climate processes from space and from the Earth’s surface so that we can create long-term climate records—and have confidence that they are accurate. We need theories about how the parts of the Earth system are related to each other so that we can make sense of observations. And we need models to help us see into the future.

But for years, Willis has been stressing that

Argo data show no warming in the upper ocean over the past four years, but this does not contradict the climate models

Now, obviously the corrected data do “not contradict the climate models” either.

And so it really does look like there is no need for “multiple, independent, overlapping sets of observations“. Any and every data is always unable to “contradict the climate models“.

Why do people still bother to measure anything related to climate when the end result is pre-ordained, one wonders.

Arctic Sea Ice: Animation of Thirty Years

2008/10/31 7 comments

Among the general boredom of reading about the latest awfully hollow “demonstration” that humans are at fault by way of exclusion (and in the process, finding the fingerprint of human-induced rise in temperature in places such as Antarctica where temperature has not risen…unless it’s the Peninsula they are referring to), here some animations of how arctic sea ice has appeared between 1979 and 2008, around October 28, according to Cryosphere Today (note: some years are missing, and for other years I had to take the nearest available image)

Animated Arctic Sea Ice - around Oct 28

Animated Arctic Sea Ice - around Oct 28

You may have to click on the images above to be able to properly see the animated GIFs.

One could be forgiven to think the following:

  • there isn’t much of a polar ice cover “shrinking trend”, but rather a lot of expansions and contractions, plus a freakish small configuration in 2007
  • the 2008 cover is very simiar to 2000’s, apart from an ice-free area East of Novaya Zemlja
  • one can almost sea the warm water flowing in through the Bering Strait, sometimes reaching East as far as Banks Island (1987, 1998)
  • the “losses” in sea ice in the Baltic and northwestern Siberia may or may not relate to a change in data processing between 2003 and 2005

Note how different the last 3 years look, as they include the snow cover exactly when, say, the ice in the White Sea suddenly goes.

October Snow in London

2008/10/27 1 comment

The BBC is forecasting a sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy day for Oct 29 in London, UK.  Guess that’ll make it very difficult for such a forecast to be wrong.

But how often has it snowed in October in relatively mild England? From the Hollinsclough website:

1762, 1783, 1784, 1785, 1825, 1829, 1836, 1838, 1880, 1885, 1888.

Those values are confirmed at Netweather.tv.

Another website indicates snow in London on Oct 29 in 1922, and other episodes in England in 1925, 1926, 1934 (as snow showers), 1950, 1964, 1974, 1992, 2000.

Taking all the above as “true”, the average wait is 12.5 years (stdev: 13.1). A snowfall in two days’ time would therefore be not exceptional, really.

Also, there is no much sign of a warming either. The ongoing average has been between 10.8 and 15.75 years since 1825.

OCT 29 UPDATE: It actually did snow in London, but not where I live so I will proceed to shrug it off as a non-event 😎 . No, really: the BBC and the Evening Standard reported it as the first London snow in October since 1934: I suspect the actual date depends on the definition of “London”.

Evidence of Climate Change in Northeastern Italy

2008/09/17 11 comments

What happens when somebody finally gets down to identify actual climatic patterns in a specific area, without the AGW/GHG credo?

This is what happens: Static and Dynamic Agroclimatology in the Veneto region – Analysis of the 1956-2004 period, PhD thesis by Alessandro Chiaudani

(Main text is in Italian, but there is a summary in English between pages 8 and 9, and most graphs should be self-explanatory).

In particular one of Chiaudani’s findings may sound truly ironic:

an important aspect of climate evolution is represented by abrupt changes with different phases separated by break-points

In other words, at regional level it is possible to identify…TIPPING POINTS…that make local climate switch from one “climatic homogeneous phase” and another.

Results show the existence of a climatic breakpoint in the ’80 with a consequent change of climatic phase. This change point is particularly evident for temperatures and evapotranspiration […] The evidence of a change of phase in the ’80 is strengthened by (i) analysis of phenological data regarding some Veneto crops (grapevine, maize and soft wheat) (ii) analysis of climatic data of other Italian regions (Emilia Romagna and Piemonte) (iii) climatic and phenological analyses referred to other European regions

So it is exactly by throwing out the fashionable all-encompassing fixation with CO2, and by looking for breakpoints in some measured climate-related variables, that Chiaudani is able to identify specific climatic changes, rather than the usual vague scenarios of increasing floods and drought episodes.

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However, Chiaudani’s work is not compatible with the ever-increasing temperature trends that are part-and-parcel of the AGW crowd.

And whatever Hansens has to say about tipping points, the existence of one of them around 1980 cannot easily live together with the notion that we are slowly but steadily bringing the whole planet to ruin by emitting CO2, and a catastrophe is looming (Chiaudani finds some interesting correlation between the 1980’s climatic changes the winter-time NAO index, and the EAWR – East Atlantic West Russian index).

Hence, as supreme paradox, for once that there is evidence for climate change, do not expect it to be any popular among people that blame human activities for…climate change.

Alpine Melt Reveals…There’s Nothing Special About Today’s Climate

2008/08/27 3 comments

An interesting piece of news from the BBC that screams out very loud “there is nothing special about today’s climate“.

Yet, it’s all to be read between the lines, as the “greenhouse gases” are taken as the current warming’s culprit as a matter of course (i.e. without thinking).

Basically, alpine archeologists are having a field day (ha! ha!) with retreating glaciers exposing very, very ancient human artifacts. It should go without saying that if humans were up there at a time when gore-tex had not been invented and mountaineering superstores were not around, it must have been considerably warm. Also, everything buried under a glacier must have been there before the glacier trundled by.

So it must have been warm around 3,300BC and 4,500BC. How about the rest of the time? I have found this graph online. Once again, it’s in Italian, but should not be difficult to decypher. It shows how temperatures have changed in the Western Alps during the last 11,000 years (Western Swiss Alps, I understand, as the graph is supposed to be from the University in Berne):

Western Alps temperatures during the last 11,000 years

Western Alps temperatures during the last 11,000 years

Quick analysis:
  • Present temperatures are relatively high compared to the past
  • The 16C threshold has been touched, for the 5th time in 10,000 years
  • It’s the 7th time that temperatures are on the way up, even without considering the increase immediately following the last Ice Age

Furthermore: whoever put that arrow shooting skywards, must be a comedian (or an involuntary comedian). Climatechangeology is a naked science indeed.

Climate Models Are Correct (And Useless)

2008/08/26 2 comments

Climate models are correct indeed. Because, as Bill Clinton would love to say, it depends on what the definition of “correct” is.

In the real world, climate models cannot be falsified by a single observation (modelists say it’s “only weather”), or by a set of short-term observations (they call it “just a specific trajectory”).

In theory, one could wait a sufficient number of years in order to statistically check if the world has actually got warmer, but in practice models don’t include volcanoes, clouds, solar activity, etc: therefore, even if observations diverge from the models, all the modelists will do is find a “culprit” that can justify the discrepancy.

For the 1940-1970 cooling climate, they say “it was the aerosols”. Never mind that it could be a made-up story.

RealClimate’s own Gavin has said in the recent past, there is no interest in verifying if models are correct or not. Instead, the “right question” appears to be: “are there analyses that will be made over the next few years that will improve the evaluation of climate models?”

It should go without saying that in such a situations, models have no predictive capability beyond chance and they are for all intents and purposes useless.

Imagine modelling a human being as a heart pump with tubes coming in and out, and then when the patient dies of tuberculosis, having the superciliousness to state “the model is correct” instead of understanding that humans have a pulmonary system too (and a lot of other systems).

About Debate-Challenged Climate Scientists

2008/08/20 4 comments

A truly awful and extremely funny remark from the recent “Trip Report” by Goddard’s Climate Supremo Jim Hansen:

My guess is that scientists may not fare very well in”…”you-tube “debates” between scientists and contrarians

Why is it funny? Because what Hansen is likely trying to do is rationalize the failure of people like Gavin Schmidt to “win” any debate they are invited to.

As I have already stated, the inherent inability of Mr Schmidt and others in putting forward a cogent argument when publicly challenged, may be the reason why the RealClimate blog’s comment policy leans so much towards censorship.

Why is that statement awful? Because as a skeptic of the Carl Sagan/James Randi/Michael Shermer/Isaac Asimov variety I have followed debating scientists for more than two decades, and have seen them not just “fare very well”, but “win” hundreds of debates against believers in all sorts of fallacies, including the fakery of the Moon landings, UFOs, astrology, the paranormal, etc etc.

Why would climate scientists, and only climate scientists, be unable to survive a public challenge, whilst scientists studying evolution for example win all their debates hands down?

What is the difference? What is special about AGW?

Could the underlying problem be that, as Hansen inadvertently admits, nothing truly important has happened in terms of climate as yet, and the evidence for AGW if not for an upcoming disaster is flimsy? Direct quote from Hansen himself:

It is extremely dangerous to wait for real-world events to be so large that they overwhelm special interests and their contrarian lawyers

In other words, “real-world events” have not been large enough to justify AGW.

ps The “danger of waiting”, by the way, is exactly what some people have been claiming for many years…those people, that is, fond of carrying “The End of the World is Nigh” plaquards.

Lynas’ “Six Degrees” of (Computed) Half Blindness

2008/08/19 2 comments

I have decided to read debate-challenged Mark Lynas‘ “Six Degrees – Our Future on a Hotter Planet” on the basis of the surprisingly moderate review by Eric Steig on RealClimate.

Just as revealed by Steig, I must confess I tend to stay away from popular-science books that appear to overstate their argument. And Lynas’ book’s English cover does sport a giant wave crashing on top of a half-submerged Big Ben, with lightning out of a dark cloud and a citation from the Sunday Times defining the book as “terrifying” (on the back, the Financial Times describing it as “apocalyptic”).

Obviously, HarperCollins (the Publisher) thought it important for sales to make Lynas look like an incorregible alarmist with a penchant for “climate pornography”. Apparently, the author has lamented being “misconstrued” but I suspect the author doesn’t control much of what appears on the cover of a book, and how the contents are popular-pulverized in the Press.

In any case, the choice of quoting from Dante’s Inferno was all Lynas’.

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What do I make of it? I cannot say the book is “alarmist”, in the sense of trying to pump up the evidence for impending catastrophes. Lynas has obviously tried to stick to “available science”: but that’s exactly the main shortcoming of the book, that looks like a victim of the neurological condition called “neglect” (eg see “Hemispatial Neglect”.

“Neglect” happens when a patient simply cannot be made aware of something that is in front of them. For example in the case of “visual neglect”,  the patient may be able to describe in detail a whole image apart from some area or object in it, that simply do not register at a conscious level at all.

Analogously, current “available science” in Climatology, for whatever reason, consistently and invariably depicts what could go wrong in a warmer planet, “neglecting” what could go right.

Does anybody seriously believe that the current climatic conditions are some kind of “optimum”, so that even a 1C variation upwards can mainly bring bad news?

In the book, one would rather expect a rather even situation at the beginning, for a one- or two-degree change, getting worse as the chapters go by. You can see the actual figures in my blog “Numerical Analysis of Mark Lynas’ “Six Degrees” Claims“.

It’s 4 bad news, and 2 catastrophes, for every bit of good news.

Now, if Lynas, or any scientist, truly believes that a warmer planet will mean bad news will outnumber good news by 4 to 1 (or including catastrophes, by 7 to 1), a very, very good discussion of the reasons behind that would not only be welcome, but strictly needed.

Otherwise, as with so many other things in terms of climate, it will just be yet another extraordinary claim with no extraordinary evidence backing it.

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By the way…the preponderance of bad and catastrophic news makes it for a boring reading after a few pages of totally-predictable barrage. Lynas slips time and again (with no apparent awareness) in what management consultants would call a “reverse sh*t sandwich” situation: instead of hiding the bad between two goods (the classic “sh*t sandwich” of many performance feedback sections), it’s the good bits that have to survive in-between bad news.

For example, at page 37 we are told about coral bleaching, then the hope is thrown that the coral might survive after all, but the sandwich is completed with an expert stating it will be too hot for the coral to survive.

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Lynas’ solution to the problem is discussed at length but appears to pivot on the concept of “making policy by invoking survival of the species”. Having been unable to see much good in warming, Lynas shows a similar degree of intellectual neglect in trying to sweep aside every other problem there is in the world. Well, perhaps…but again, if stopping global warming by 1 or 6 degrees is more important than fighting malaria or hunger, we should be told exactly why.

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A final gem demonstrating my whole point, from page 278:

“people were better off and healthier in Britain under food rationing during the Second World War”

Where does that incredible statement comes from???

Either Lynas is training as a stand-up comedian, or he can truly be half-blind to the things of the world indeed.

Why Climate Change is Unbearably Naked

2008/08/05 6 comments

What do I find so impossibly sloppy to bear, about Climate Change in its contemporary definition, as the result of human activities (also known as “Anthopogenic Global Warming” or AGW, and usually associated to CO2 emissions caused by humans)?

Yesterday’s incredible (counter-)discovery by Anthony Watts on CO2 measurements getting corrected upwards after having gone downwards “for the first time in history” provides an opportunity for a non-exhaustive list (I may add links to each point next week) of all that depaupers Climate Change of actual meaning:

  • Climate models are all based on forcings, something that cannot be measured. The tool has become the cause.
  • Those same models are demonstrably “right” whatever happens, either warming or cooling (once again, as all they show is that forcings are supposed to do)
  • Proponents are fixated on negativities (not just the newsmedia and the Stern Report…I have some interesting findings about a recent book on Climate Change, and I will publish them this week or next)
  • Climate change is improbably comprehensive in its effects, and yet “Attribution”, the ability to pinpoint a particular change as having something to do with Climate Change, is still up in the air
  • The IPCC itself cannot see much evidence for change in 2/3 (two-thirds!) of the planet
  • The “truth” is that temperatures are going up but if one looks at actual measurements, they are continuously adapted and adjusted. Measurement stations are not increasing in the number, and locations are far from perfect.
  • And now of course, on-the-fly upward adjustments of CO2 data appear just as values begin to go “the wrong way”.

I personally agree with Watts when he writes: “While nefarious motives may not be there, its just damn sloppy IMHO, and given this is the crown jewel for CO2 data I expect far better“.

And please don’t get me wrong…I am perfectly aware that such generalized sloppiness is part-and-parcel of modern Science, with genetists looking for Mendelian transmission of what is not Mendelian and a whole generation of Cosmologists trained on calling 96% of the Universe as “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”, two names for the same thing (“Total Ignorance”).

“Institutionalized Science” is of course 80% rubbish, as per the famous 80/20 rule.

But the whole Climate debate is much more than Science. And for that, there is still so much it needs to be dressed with, before it can be shown as properly thought of, and ready for being a solid basis for a revolution in societal mores.

If I read about “scientists demonstrating that train travel is impossible” I may get a laugh, as people at the time surely did. But when I see all the massive propaganda machine put in place to convince people to turn carbon-free by way of guilt, there isn’t much to be amused of.

If the keys to absolute gullibility are ever found, we may as well all turn back to live up the trees.

Why Rational Skepticism is Proper Response to AGW Claims

2008/07/21 4 comments

Many thanks to Ed Darrel at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub for pointing once again to the extraordinarily compelling case put together by Patrick Frank in “A Climate of Belief“, an article for the Skeptic society’s online magazine, Vol.14, no.1, May 2008, that:

the claim that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for the current warming of Earth climate is scientifically insupportable because climate models are unreliable

I had mentioned it at the time but had not had the time or memory to read it again. For those in need of a quick, heavily emphasized (by me) quote:

The proper response to adamant certainty in the face of complete ignorance is rational skepticism. And aren’t we much better off accumulating resources to meet urgent needs than expending resources to service ignorant fears?

Here a longer extract, from the final remarks (my emphasis):

It’s not that we, “lack … full scientific certainty,” it’s that we lack any scientific certainty. We literally don’t know whether doubling atmospheric CO2 will have any discernible effect on climate at all.

If our knowledge of future climates is zero then for all we know either suppressing CO2 emissions or increasing them may make climate better, or worse, or just have a neutral effect. The alternatives are incommensurate but in our state of ignorance either choice equally has two chances in three of causing the least harm. Complete ignorance makes the Precautionary Principle completely useless. There are good reasons to reduce burning fossil fuels, but climate warming isn’t one of them.

Some may decide to believe anyway. “We can’t prove it,” they might say, “but the correlation of CO2 with temperature is there (they’re both rising, after all), and so the causality is there, too, even if we can’t prove it yet.” But correlation is not causation, and cause can’t be assigned by an insistent ignorance. The proper response to adamant certainty in the face of complete ignorance is rational skepticism. And aren’t we much better off accumulating resources to meet urgent needs than expending resources to service ignorant fears?

So, then, what about melting ice-sheets, rising sea levels, the extinction of polar bears, and more extreme weather events? What if unusually intense hurricane seasons really do cause widespread disaster? It is critical to keep a firm grip on reason and rationality, most especially when social invitations to frenzy are so pervasive. General Circulation Models are so terribly unreliable that there is no objectively falsifiable reason to suppose any of the current warming trend is due to human-produced CO2, or that this CO2 will detectably warm the climate at all. Therefore, even if extreme events do develop because of a warming climate, there is no scientifically valid reason to attribute the cause to human-produced CO2. In the chaos of Earth’s climate, there may be no discernible cause for warming. Many excellent scientists have explained all this in powerful works written to defuse the CO2 panic, but the choir sings seductively and few righteous believers seem willing to entertain disproofs

Against-AGW-Consensus Article on the FPS Before Monckton’s

2008/07/20 2 comments

I can’t help but laugh at the incredible somersaults being performed by the Council of the American Physical Society (APS) to reaffirm thieir unshakeable belief in AGW, after allowing the publication in their “Forum on Physics & Society” (FPS) of an article by Christopher Monckton, “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered“.

Note: there is one thing I agree with the APS. Monckton’s paper has not undergone any scientific peer review. You see, he’s a Lord (a Viscount, no less) whilst on the “Council of the APS”‘s side there is obviously no trace of nobility. They have been “discorteous” indeed.

Time will tell about the position (and nobility) of Jeffrey Marque, the Editor of the FPS that has seen his July 2008 comments severely rebuked by the Executive Committee of the FPS. Who’s going to choose what will be published in the October 2008 issue, is anybody’s guess.

Interestingly, the FPS and the APS did not make too much of a fuss in the past, when publishing “heretical” climate-related opinions. For an example, see Gerald E. Marsh’s “Climate Stability and Policy” in April 2008.

Mr Marsh is not exactly your average AGW proponent: he argues that current CO2 levels are too low and contributing to climate instability, suggests that even 750ppmv could still be not enough to stop an upcoming, catastrophic Ice Age. and recommends that the IPCC switch its focus towards “determining the optimal range of carbon dioxide concentrations that will stabilize the climate, and extend the current interglacial period indefinitely”.

For some reason, the above did not cause any digestive pain at the FPS, either with its Editor, with its Executive Committee, or with the Council of the APS itself.

Is Monckton’s paper simply too hot to handle? Plenty of nutrients for conspiracy theorists there, no doubt.

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