Category Archives: Climate Change

Global Warming XVIII – It’s Mighty Hot Up Here!

My young and thoughtful correspondent, my darling Linnea, Wayne, and readers,

My correspondent noted that it is hotter in upstate New York than in Tampa. I feel a climate change and global warming essay coming.

Weather ReportWeather Report 2

Here you have it: Saratoga Springs is hot, hot, hot; hotter than Tampa.

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Climate Change XVIII – Reply to a comment

Wayne,

Our climate change and global warming correspondent, Greg Tomlinson, posted a comment about my post Climate Change XVI. I moved it here to be easily available to our readers and posted my reply below.

Bernard

Greg Tomlinson

February 14, 2018 at 7:13 am Edit

At this point, I no longer argue about whether the earth is warming or cooling. As I have mentioned previously, I believe that the integrity of much of the temperature data has been severely compromised by numerous “corrections” or “adjustments”. Also, stories about the declining polar bear population and shrinking Antartica ice shelves are simply fiction. On top of that, there is the problem of much of the AGW community (especially the folks at SkepticalScience) tending to attribute every severe weather event to global warming even though meteorologists generally tend to associate such events with cooling. Severe weather usually occurs when a cold front collides with warm moist air. Finally, there is the issue that many of those living in the lower 48 states are not seeing warming, but instead are getting longer colder winters. Of course, none of this would be convincing evidence at all to the AGW community, and I simply don’t have time nor energy to sort out fact and fiction among their thousands of claims, and as a “non-expert”, they wouldn’t take me seriously anyway.

There is one aspect of this global warming/cooling, however, that I still stand firmly behind. Whether the earth is warming, cooling, or neither, and that is that humans cannot possibly be causing it. The “control knob” theory of carbon dioxide is easily refuted by anyone with a home weather station. If the station reports any relative humidity less than 100 percent, then the control knob effect is disproven. Remember that for carbon dioxide to be the control of the radiative forcing feedback loop, the concentration of water vapor (the stronger GHG) must be dependent on temperature only. But the only way that can happen is if the water vapor concentration is fixed to its saturation value at all points in the atmosphere. If the H2O vapor concentration would ever drop below this value at any location, then by definition of saturtion, more H2O vapor could be added to the air without raising its temperature, thereby contradicting the requirement that the water vapor concentration must depend on temperature only. Since humans would need this non-existant “control knob” to significantly affect temperature, there is no way they can cause any reported warming (or cooling).

BTW, there are other other bazaar, anti-intuitive results that can be drawn from this CO2 control knob, including the “frozen” world prediction if there were no CO2 in the atmosphere at the time the earth was formed.

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Mr. Tomlinson,

Glad to hear from you again, and pleased that you “no longer argue about whether the earth is warming or cooling.” Informed people know that the Earth is warming because of human use of fossil fuels. Continue reading

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Global Warming XVII: “… it was getting too cold all over the place.”

Wayne,

In the week of this year’s Davos conference of world poobah’s and muckety-mucks, Donald Trump spoke to journalist Piers Morgan. There was so much ignorance on display that most commentators neglected to mention this disgraceful exchange: (I copied this extract from a transcript here.)

PM: Do you believe in climate change? Do you believe it exists?

DT: There is a cooling and there is a heating and I mean, look – it used to not be climate change. It used to be global warming. Right?

PM: Right.

DT: That wasn’t working too well, because it was getting too cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so OK, they’re at a record level. There were so many thing happening, Piers. I’ll tell you what I believe in. I believe in clear air. I believe in crystal clear beautiful water. I believe in just having good cleanliness in all. Now, that being said, if somebody said go back into the Paris Accord, if we could go back into the Paris Accord, it would have to be a completely different deal because we had a horrible deal, As usual, they took advantage of the United States. We were in a terrible deal. Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in. I like, as you know, I like Emmanuel… No, no, I like Emmanuel, I would love to, but it’s got to be a good deal for the United States.

I think that Trump is trying to repeat the climate change deniers’ truism, that the climate is always changing, getting warmer or cooler. Thus, why concern ourselves about the warming that may, or may not, be occurring now?

But what does he mean by “…it was getting too cold all over the place.” I’m sure that he is referring to his December tweets about the bitter cold Eastern weather, calling for “… some of that global warming now.” He misunderstands, or more likely is ignorant about, climate scientists’ predictions for the fate of polar sea ice, in the Arctic and offshore in the Antarctic, and the ice covering Greenland and Antarctica. None of the experts claimed that the Arctic sea ice would be gone by now. They can’t say exactly but it looks to them as if it will be gone in a few decades. Even now the Northwest Passage north of Canada or across the Russian arctic opens each summer to commercial shipping without accompanying ice breakers.

Skipping over his “beliefs”, which apparently are being undermined without Trump’s knowledge by Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, Trump displays his ignorance of the terms of the Paris Climate Accords and the US commitments to the world as part of that deal. Those commitments are voluntary. Each nation volunteered what it would do to meet the world’s goals. In addition, the wealthy advanced nations each promised funds to help poorer and developing nations to achieve their goals while continuing to increase their nations’ wealth. If Trump thinks that the US made imprudent voluntary commitments, all he has to do is issue new ones. There is nothing to re-negotiate, and, indeed, the deal is not open to re-negotiation.

It happens to be the case that the Paris Climate Accords are an excellent deal for the United States, and for all the other nations of the world, each of which has signed on. Trump is turning the US into a rogue state.

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Global Warming XVI: The Breadth of Evidence

Wayne,

Greg Tomlinson and I have been discussing global warming in a series of comments and replies to a blog post of mine from April 2017. Readers can review this discussion here1, here2, here3, here4, and here5. This back and forth primarily deals with the evidence that Earth’s average surface temperature has been increasing for many decades as the result of humans burning fossil fuels. As our discussion focuses, for the most part, on the details of the global average surface temperature record derived from thermometer measurement records, readers might get the impression that this is the single key data record that shows the Earth’s warming and that it is a close question as to whether the globe is warming or not. In fact, the results of analyzing temperature records are fully consistent with many other lines of evidence that the globe is warming. These other lines of evidence do not involve the detailed analysis of world-wide temperature records. I’ll describe a few of these, but there are, literally, dozens of such striking demonstrations that the globe is warming.

These examples are point measurements that suggest but do not tell us about global climate. Therefore, the professional researchers go through the immense trouble to produce a global average surface temperature. Even that is not the only global climate measure they produce. Indeed, the temperature record at each weather station is a point measurement.

Here’s a proxy temperature record from Japan that goes back to 800 AD. The graph is from an article in the Economist, but the data points are from a publication by a Japanese researcher. He and his colleagues investigated records of cherry blossom viewing going back 1200 years, nearly to the beginning of Japanese civilization. The vertical axis shows dates in April, except for a few early in May or late in March. The Economist writers have graphed the Japanese researchers’ data and averaged it. The date at which the blossoms reach their peak is a proxy for the temperature: earlier warm temperatures produce earlier peak blossoms. Dots lower on the chart are earlier in the season and reflect warmer springs. Of course, over the centuries there are wide variations. To my eyes, the peak blossom dates have moved earlier by about two weeks since the early or mid-1800s. What do your eyes see? Climate fluctuations known to scholars as the medieval warm period, around 1000 to 1200 AD or the little ice age around 1400 are European climate phenomena, not world-wide ones. The movement of the most recent 100 years or so is larger than any of the earlier fluctuations, in 12 centuries, and shows no sign of moderating.

 

Cherry blossoms tell us about the arrival of spring warmth. It’s getting warmer earlier. What about the arrival of fall’s chills? They are arriving later.

Gingko trees lose most of their leaves shortly after, indeed often during the night of, the first autumn freeze. People have been recording the date on which a gingko tree at the University of New Hampshire drops its leaves since the 1970s. Evidently the biology student amuse themselves with a betting pool. The school in Durham is close to New Hampshire’s short Atlantic Ocean coast. Here’s the data. Julian day, the vertical axis, is the day of the year beginning with January 1 as Julian Day 1. This year’s leaf fall was the second latest in this record. It looks to my eyes as if the trend line is now about 10 days later than it was in the late 1970s.

The Great Ginkgo Leaf Dump

 

 

This interesting chart is from a New York Times article: How Much Warmer Was Your City?

You enter your city in the window. They have data from many cities around the world. I’ve just put in the Tampa data because I live and teach here.

The horizontal axis shows the days of the year, grouped by month. The vertical axis shows temperatures for each day in Fahrenheit degrees. For each day, the black vertical bar shows the high and low temperature for that day. The dark gray shows the normal temperatures for that day, and the lighter gray shows the record high and the record low for that day. By the way, you can see that last December was unusually warm in Tampa. You can see the general sweep of the seasons from temperate to steamy hot to temperate.

If the climate in Tampa were stable, you’d expect to see a few record highs and a few record lows throughout the year. The records could, just randomly, come at any time. So, an unusually hot winter day or an unusually cold summer day. Perhaps, you’d see 4 record lows and 6 record highs one year, then 5 record lows and 5 record highs the next, and so on. But in 2016 Tampa had 15 record highs and 0 record lows! The small vertical arrows mark the records. This suggests that the climate has warmed relative to the long term historical climate.

I encourage you to visit this site and enter your own city.

 

 

Alaskan rivers freeze during the long cold winters, and the ice breaks apart in the spring as weather warms. People have been recording, and betting upon, the breakup date for more than a hundred years. Here’s the data for two rivers in Alaska: Ice Breakup on Two Alaskan Rivers.

This is from the still worthwhile EPA site: Climate Change Indicators, which has many similar records from distinctive sources, all of which are broadly consistent with a warming climate.

Notice that in the graph, upward is earlier in the year, which is also presumed to mean warmer earlier. To my eyes, it looks as if the breakup is about 0 days later than it was a hundred years ago.

The figure figure shows the date each year when ice breaks up at two locations: the town of Nenana on the Tanana River and Dawson City on the Yukon River.

Data sources: Nenana Ice Classic, 20164; Yukon River Breakup, 20165
Web update: August 2016

 

Here is data about arctic sea ice coverage from the excellent National Snow and Ice Data Center: Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice News.

This data arises from systematic recording from satellites in polar orbits that have been collecting data since the 1970s. You can see the line for the 1981-2010 median. The two shades of gray show plus and minus 25% and plus and minus 45%. The year 2012 was the record low, but you can see that recent years have all been outside the usual range. Indeed, in recent years cargo ships, with strengthened hulls but no accompanying ice breakers, have traversed the famous Northwest Passage over the top of Canada, and over the tip of Russian and Siberia. These are much shorter routes Asia to Europe and the eastern US.

There is much more useful material at this site, about Antarctic sea ice, for example.

Figure 2a. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of November 2, 2017 along with daily ice extent data for five previous years. 2017 is shown in blue, 2016 in green, 2015 in orange, 2014 in brown, 2013 in purple, and 2012 in dotted brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

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Carbon Dioxide Control Knob Discussion V

Wayne,

Greg Tomlinson and I have been discussing in comments a blog post from last April:

Global warming XIII – The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob . I think that his comments and my replies will be informative to our readers, who aren’t likely to notice items from six months ago. Therefore, I’m going to create new blog posts each of which contains a comment and a reply with titles The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob I, II, III, and so on.

Here’s the fifth:

October 7, 2017 at 3:19 am Edit

I’m afraid there is strong evidence that most of your statements in this comment are based on “corrected” (ie. falsified) temperature data. Several indisputable facts point in that direction. As you probably remember, NOAA presented a paper by Thomas R. Karl et. al. in 2015 which basically rewrote the entire temperature record from 1880 onward, allegedly to help eliminate data “biases”. On several occasions, NASA did similar doctoring of their data. How can they possibly know if their adjusted data in any more accurate that the original readings taken over 100 years ago? Nowadays, however, you can’t go to the NOAA or NASA websites and pull up data for the year 1995 and expect to get actual measurements taken in 1995. Instead, you will get “corrected” data that was probably calculated sometime after 2010. If you want 1995 data taken in 1995, you will need to go the NASA archives, assuming they still exist. Since most climate researchers are not aware of this, they use the currently posted NASA and NOAA data without question. If you ask them “Where is the data that convinced the IPCC we are in a warming hiatus?”, they will probably respond with “WHAT warming hiatus?” since the new “corrected” data eliminates all level and downward temperature trends. Unfortunately, our government agencies have become extremely deceitful in this manner. Is this any way to do science?

Suppose one of your graduate students gathered data for his/her thesis, and then “corrected” that data to fit the original hypothesis. Would you or your university accept that thesis? If not, then please don’t expect me, the Trump administration, nor the American people in general to buy these NASA/NOAA arguments when they would most likely be used to justify economy destroying carbon taxes and regulations.

Greg Tomilinson

Mr. Tomlinson,

You are thoroughly informed about global warming denier debating points. Unfortunately, these arguments or assertions are misleading or mistaken. Your argument also falsely impugns the integrity not just of the climate scientists involved, but of the scientific enterprise.

NOAA, NASA, and the British Hadley group do not “doctor” their data. They all adjust and correct it however. You can read a description of what they do here:

No climate conspiracy: NOAA temperature adjustments bring data closer to pristine

This is written by a climate scientist involved in the research and published in the Guardian.

Thorough, not thoroughly fabricated: The truth about global temperature data: How thermometer and satellite data is adjusted and why it must be done.

This is written by a scientist who is also a science journalist.

And

Explainer: How data adjustments affect global temperature records.

This one is written by one of the climate scientists involved in the global temperature research.

You are correct that the scientists go back to the original raw data records and recalculate corrections as more data become available. The corrected data sets are labeled, for example, HADCRUT1, HADCRUT2, and so on.

You are mistaken that climate scientists are unaware of this, and you are mistaken that the original raw data sets are not available. Here you can find the raw data that researchers used to produce HADCRUT4. The raw data for the NASA and NOAA datasets are also available and easy to find.

The new corrected data does not “eliminate all level and downward temperature trends.” Indeed, comparing a century’s data, the corrected data reduces the warming between the first half of the 20th century and the second half. Here’s the data for you to see for yourself.

“The figure below shows the global surface temperature record created from only raw temperature readings with no adjustments applied (blue line). The red line is the adjusted land and ocean temperature record produced using adjusted data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the difference between the two in grey.” This is from the third link above.


Neither our government agencies nor the world’s academic climate researchers have been deceitful. Their methods and data have been and are open for all to review in the best traditions of the scientific enterprise.

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The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob Discussion IV

Wayne,

Greg Tomlinson and I have been discussing in comments a blog post from last April:

Global warming XIII – The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob . I think that his comments and my replies will be informative to our readers, who aren’t likely to notice items from six months ago. Therefore, I’m going to create new blog posts each of which contains a comment and a reply with titles The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob I, II, III, and so on.

Here’s the fourth:

October 1, 2017 at 3:43 am Edit

What you pointed out about aerosols increasing from human industry and volcanic eruptions demonstrates my point. There are factors other than CO2 that affect earth temperatures just as much or more. These aerosols caused a net cooling trend for about 30 years despite increased CO2 levels during those times. It is probably the sun, however, that is the most important driver of temperatures. The “warming hiatus” noted by the IPCC in 2005 was well correlated with a drop in solar activity that started within the first few years of the 21st century.

Greg Tomlinson

October 3, 2017 at 7:25 pm Edit

Mr. Tomlinson,
No one asserts that CO2 is the only, or even the most important, factor that contributes to the Earth’s climate or temperature. Indeed, you are correct that the Sun is the most important factor. Climate scientists investigate both the sizes and changes in the various factors when they assess changes in the climate. It happens to be the case, that humans have grabbed the CO2 control knob and are turning it strongly to the right, increasing CO2 levels to ones not seen for millions of years.
There has been no hiatus in global warming. Variations in the Earth’s global average surface temperature are larger than the annual change in the underlying temperature trend caused by warming. In addition to aerosols, produced by volcanoes and humans burning fossil fuels, there are also fluctuations in ocean currents and temperatures known popularly as El Nino that contribute to short term global temperature fluctuations. It happens that 1998, a strong El Nino year, produced a record high average global surface temperature. For several years after this as the El Nino weakened, temperatures did not exceed 1998. Each of the last three years, 2014, 2015, and 2016 have exceeded 1998, each setting a new record. This year looks as if it will again set a record.
While global warming deniers declared that the Earth was now cooling, global warming continued unabated. Indeed, most of the increasing heat energy goes into the world’s oceans.

Here’s a temperature chart that shows, on the right, a short horizontal line that exhibits the supposed hiatus to which you refer. Indeed, you can see that by picking each local maximum global average surface temperature going back 50 years, that we have an uninterrupted string of hiatuses. Hmmm.


Bernard

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The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob Discussion III

  • Wayne,

    Greg Tomlinson and I have been discussing in comments a blog post from last April:

    Global warming XIII – The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob . I think that his comments and my replies will be informative to our readers, who aren’t likely to notice items from six months ago. Therefore, I’m going to create new blog posts each of which contains a comment and a reply with titles The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob I, II, III, and so on.

    Here’s the third:

  • I’m afraid CO2 is not the best “insulation” for the atmosphere as indicated by the cooling trend that occurred between the early 1940s and 1970s. In fact the fear of global cooling persisted into the late 1970s. During this entire cooling period, however, CO2 levels continued to rise as they did throughout the entire 20th century. This indicates to me that, all else being equal, the earth may well be cooler without CO2, but there are other factors much more important in determining earth’s temperature. What worries me much more than the greenhouse warming resulting from anthropogenic CO2 emissions is how our government and others (including the UN) are going to react to this “crisis”. We simply cannot afford any more economy-crippling taxes and regulations that our last president tried to impose on us. Fortunately, it appears our current president and EPA director are working to undo the damage.

    Greg Tomlinson

September 30, 2017 at 4:08 pm Edit

Mr. Tomlinson,
No one claims that CO2 is the best insulation or the only one. Water vapor is a more important greenhouse gas, for example. It happens, however, that CO2 is the control knob that humans have rotated to the right and are continuing to turn.
Researchers believe, based on substantial evidence, that the cooling you cite was the result of increased atmospheric aerosols, which are one of the other factors that influence the extent to which incoming solar radiation reaches the surface. These aerosols increased as industrial production returned to normal and then grew after World War II, and they increased because of several major volcanic eruptions. World-wide efforts in the 1960s and 1970s to reduce poisonous pollution from coal burning led to a decrease in aerosols and an increase in solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface. Once these aerosols lessened, CO2 induced warming resumed.

As for your political and economic concerns, economists call costs that one economic actor imposes on others an externality. For example, a manufacturer who takes clean water from a river to use in production, and then returns the contaminated water to the river is imposing costs on downstream water users. They must spend to clean up the water before they use it. The water-polluting upstream manufacturer imposes costs upon downstream manufacturers who require clean water.Economists usually prescribe taxes on the polluter with revenues used to clean up the dirty river water or regulations to require that the polluter clean up the water. These government interventions are necessary because the polluter’s products do not reflect the actual costs of their production, a market failure.
President Obama, and presidents going back to Richard Nixon, who created the EPA, have been putting in place sensible regulations to protect Americans health.
EPA Administrator Pruitt, an industry shill and known enemy of the EPA’s mission, is systematically working to destroy the EPA. He is pushing out public-spirited knowledgeable scientists and replacing them with polluters.
Regulations that require coal mine owners to provide safe working conditions for their miners and to protect nearby streams and rivers, and regulations that power plants that burn coal not spew acid rain causing sulfur dioxide, low levels of mercury and radioactive uranium, and micro-particles of soot into the atmosphere have significant and measurable benefits to our health and the health of the environment. They are not the cause of the decline of employment in the coal industry, which economists tell us arises from increasing mechanization and competition from less expensive fuels such as natural gas.
Delusional Donald Trump, who has asserted that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to destroy American business, will cause great harm, not just to the citizens of the United States, but to all humans living today and to come.
Bernard

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