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ICECAP in the News
Jan 14, 2008
Global Warming? The Built-In Nonsense Detector

By Reid Bryson, Ph.D., D.Sc., D.Engr.

Hardly a day goes by without a news article in the paper containing a reference to someone’s opinion about “Global Warming”. A quick search of the Internet uncovers literally hundreds of items about “Global Warming”. Issues of atmospheric science journals will normally have at least one article on climatic change, usually meaning “Global Warming” or some aspect thereof. Whole generations of graduate students have been trained to believe that we know the main answers about climate change and only have to work out the details.

Why then do I bother you by introducing this section with such a ludicrous title? I do it because, as one who has spent many decades studying the subject professionally, I find that there are enormous gaps in the understanding of those making the most strident claims about climatic change. In order to read the news rationally,the educated reader needs a few keys to quickly sort the patently absurd from the possibly correct. I propose to supply some of those keys to give the reader at least a rudimentary nonsense detector. Read more here.

Jan 09, 2008
Marine Photosynthesis and Oceanic pH

Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso on CO2 Science

As the global temperatures flatten, the alarmists’ attention has been focused more on arctic ice and the idea of ocean acidification as seen in stories like ”Ocean Acidification or “Why You Should Be Scared About Rising CO2 Emissions Even If You Are A Climate Change Skeptic”.

In this well-documented story on CO2 Science, the Idsos’s provide considerable evidence that this is not at all the case. They start out:

Based on four theoretical constructs - a geochemical model, an ocean general-circulation model, an IPCC CO2 emissions scenario for the 21st century, and a logistic function for the burning of earth’s post-21st century fossil-fuel reserves - Caldeira and Wickett (2003) calculated that earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentration could approach 2000 ppm around the year 2300, leading to a concomitant surface oceanic pH reduction of 0.7 units, a change they describe as being much more rapid and considerably greater “than any experienced in the past 300 million years.”

What will be the result for earth’s coral reefs and other calcifying marine organisms if this unprecedented - but purely theoretical - surface oceanic pH reduction actually comes to pass? Kleypas et al. (1999) and Buddemeier et al. (2004) have claimed that the projected increase in the air’s CO2 content, together with its simulated decline in surface ocean water pH, will dramatically decrease coral calcification rates, which they say could lead to a major slow-down, or even reversal, of reef-building and the potential loss of reef structures.

There are, however, some good reasons for believing otherwise. This includes the fact that marine photosynthesis tends to increase surface oceanic pH, countering the tendency for it to decline as the air’s CO2 content rises. Adding to these findings the fact that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations tend to stimulate marine photosynthesis, it can be appreciated that doom-and-gloom stories of impending extinctions of earth’s marine calcifying organisms due to a CO2-induced decrease in oceanic pH are merely that - stories, without any basis in fact. Read more detail here.

Jan 08, 2008
Important New Papers Showing Significant Warm Biases in Temperature Trends

By Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science

Two important new posts the last few days on the Climate Science site suggest issues with station data overstate the degree of global warming. In the first post, ”A New GRL Paper Multi-Decadal Surface Temperature Trends Are Overstated When Minumum Temperatures Over Land Are Used” Roger reports on a new GRL paper by Lin et al. in the GRL ”An Examination of 1997-2007 Surface Layer Temperature Trends at Two Heights in Oklahoma” the authors found long term near-surface daily minimum temperature trends at a single level on light wind nights will not produce the same trends as for long term temperature trends at other heights near the surface.  This is important since reports of multi-decadal temperature trends and temperature anomalies have been based on the measurement of air temperature at a single height above the ground.

This means that a significant warm bias exists in the 2007 IPCC Report on the trends of the global average radiative forcing, since they base their estimate on a surface air temperature trend that includes minimum temperatures over land. This bias, which occurs whenever the nighttime surface boundary layer is stably stratified over land and the winds are light is, therefore, very significant at high latitudes in the winter, where much of the warming is reported to have occurred.

In the second post, A New JGR Paper Published - “Unresolved Issues With The Assessment Of Multidecadal Global Land Surface Temperature Trends”, Roger and his co-authors document various unresolved issues in using surface temperature trends as a metric for assessing global and regional climate change. Roger notes this analysis, as well as other studies such as the McKitrick and Michaels JGR paper, ”Quantifying the Influence of Anthropogenic Surface Processes and Inhomogeneities on Gridded Global Climate Data’ should be a wake up call that erroneous information is being communicated to policymakers and others on the actual radiative imbalance of the climate system. The 2007 IPCC ignored assessing these unresolved issues which, as a consequence, result in a warm bias in their conclusions on the magnitude of global warming.

Jan 07, 2008
Powering our Future or Wrecking the Economy?

By Brian Leyland

The draft New Zealand Energy Strategy is dominated by the Government’s conviction that climate change (more properly described as “man-made global warming") is happening and that we must develop renewable energy to save New Zealand from disaster. The strategy ignores the uncertainties in the evidence claimed to support the belief that man-made global warming is real and dangerous. It cannot explain why, before the days of man-made CO2, the world was warmer during the Middle Ages, Roman and Minoan warm periods. The whole of the Energy Strategy is based on the assumption that the “scenarios” and “projections” of dangerous warming generated by unproven climate models are accurate predictions. The surface temperature record used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that the world has not warmed since 1998. If cooling continues for a few more years then the hypothesis, the theories and the computer models supporting claims that CO2 causes dangerous man-made global warming, will have to be re-examined. 

The strategy ignores the increasingly strong evidence that solar emissions related to the sunspot cycle and cosmic rays have a major influence on our climate. Unlike the carbon dioxide driven hypothesis, this theory explains climate change in the past and predicts that the climate will cool until 2030.  One proven effect of increased CO2 is that it has enhanced plant growth by about 15 per cent. To an agricultural nation like New Zealand, this provides a significant economic benefit. Why is it ignored? It seems to me that the Government has been badly advised. The primary duty of any scientific adviser is to report on the science objectively and to make sure that the politicians understand the uncertainties in the science.

Bryan Leyland is a power engineer and consultant.

Jan 04, 2008
North Atlantic Warming Tied to Natural Variability; but Global Warming May be at Play Elsewhere

By Duke University in PHYSORG

A Duke University-led analysis of available records shows that while the North Atlantic Ocean’s surface waters warmed in the 50 years between 1950 and 2000, the change was not uniform. In fact, the subpolar regions cooled at the same time that subtropical and tropical waters warmed. This striking pattern can be explained largely by the influence of a natural and cyclical wind circulation pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), wrote authors of a study published Thursday, Jan. 3, in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science.

Winds that power the NAO are driven by atmospheric pressure differences between areas around Iceland and the Azores. “The winds have a tremendous impact on the underlying ocean,” said Susan Lozier, a professor of physical oceanography at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences who is the study’s first author. “The take-home message is that the NAO produces strong natural variability,” said Lozier in an interview. “The simplistic view of global warming is that everything forward in time will warm uniformly. But this very strong natural variability is superimposed on human-caused warming. So researchers will need to unravel that natural variability to get at the part humans are responsible for.”

See more here.

See full size image here

Dec 31, 2007
Update: Cause Versus Effect In Feedback Diagnosis

By Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in Climate Science

On August 8, 2007, I posted here a guest blog entry on the possibility that our observational estimates of feedbacks might be biased in the positive direction. Danny Braswell and I built a simple time-dependent energy balance model to demonstrate the effect and its possible magnitude, and submitted a paper to the Journal of Climate for publication.

The two reviewers of the manuscript (rather uncharacteristically) signed their names to their reviews. To my surprise, both of them (Isaac Held and Piers Forster) agreed that we had raised a legitimate issue. While both reviewers suggested changes in the (conditionally accepted) manuscript, they even took the time to develop their own simple models to demonstrate the effect to themselves.

Of special note is the intellectual honesty shown by Piers Forster. Our paper directly challenges an assumption made by Forster in his 2005 J. Climate paper, which provided a nice theoretical treatment of feedback diagnosis from observational data. Forster admitted in his review that they had erred in this part of their analysis, and encouraged us to get the paper published so that others could be made aware of the issue, too.

This issue is critical because, to the extent that non-feedback sources of cloud variability cause surface temperature change, it will always look like a positive feedback using the conventional diagnostic approach. It is even possible to diagnose a positive feedback when, in fact, a negative feedback really exists. Read more here.

Dec 20, 2007
Cold in India

By Dr. Madhav Khandekar

Find below a picture of residents in India’s Kasmir valley region were there is a cold spell for the past few days and people are keeping themselves warm by making coal-fires or wood fires right on the streets while selling their merchandise!

Elsewhere in Rajasthan State (Northwest of India, the state is adjoining Pakistan) several locals have witnessed low temp for the past few days. Mount Abu a tourist spot recorded a low of -1.8C a few days ago, while nearby State of Gujarat also had cold weather for the past few days.

In Kashmir, it is quite common for many men as well as women to keep a small coal-fired stove (called ‘segri’ in Hindi ) and this little stove can be even ‘tucked in “ in a long garment! This is how people there have been keeping warm during the cold days of December & January.


Dec 19, 2007
Evidence For A Lack Of Water Vapor Feedback On The Regional Scale

By Roger Pielke Sr.

An essential component of the IPCC perspective of global warming is that atmospheric water vapor must increase in order to amplify the radiative warming effect of carbon dioxide. Without this amplification, the global warming that would be due to just carbon dioxide would be quite modest. The multi-decadal global models predict such an amplification, with the claim that the relative humidity remains nearly constant as the atmosphere warms. The atmospheric depth total column water vapor (called precipitable water) is a useful metric for this purpose.

Our paper on this approach, currently under review, is Wang, J.-W., K. Wang, R.A. Pielke, J.C. Lin, and T. Matsui, 2007: Does an atmospheric warming trend lead to a moistening trend over North America? Geophys. Res. Letts., submitted, with the abstract:

An increase in the atmospheric moisture content has been generally assumed when the lower-tropospheric temperature increases, with relative humidity holding steady. Rather than using simple linear regression, we propose a more rigorous trend detection method that considers time series memory. The autoregressive moving-average (ARMA) parameters for the time series of lower-tropospheric temperature (Tcol), precipitable water vapor (PWAV), and total precipitable water content (PWAT) from the North American Regional Reanalysis data were first computed. We then applied Monte Carlo method to replicate ARMA time series and collected samples for estimating the variances of their OLS trends. Student’s t tests showed that the Tcol from 1979 to 2006 was significant and positive; however, the PWAV and PWAT were not. This suggests that atmospheric temperature and water vapor trends do not follow the conjecture of constant relative humidity. We thus urge further evaluations of lower-tropospheric temperature and water vapor trends for the globe.

While the analysis at a location or even over North America needs to be expanded globally, the lack of a long-term increase in precipitable water even on a large regional scale or point location should be disquieting to the global climate modelers, as the water vapor in a column is a result of water vapor transport over large distances. Read more here.

Roger is Senior Research Scientist, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado in Boulder and Emeritus Professor of the Department of Atmospheric Science Colorado State University

Icecap Note: This work provides observational evidence that supports the Spencer, Brasswell, Christy and Hnilo findings about precipitation systems acting as a thermostat, which in turn supports Lindzen’s 2001 adaptive iris idea. The Earth has mechanisms to keep temperatures within bounds.

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