Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mark Steyn and the Expert Climatologist

A while back Mark Steyn said he's been out talking to people about the hockey stick. But it doens't appear to have made him any smarter.

On his blog yesterday, Steyn wrote that he knows what the scientific community thinks (wonder what journals he reads, and which conferences he attends), even if they won't admit it:
Actually, no. In public,"climate experts" rejected the notion. But in private - in fact - they well knew that "global warming has slowed or stopped".
which is nothing but Inhofeian conspiracy mongering. (Inhofe to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, 2012:  “I was actually on your side of this issue when I was chairing that [Senate Environment] committee and I first heard about this. I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost.”

But back to Steyn. His notion that global warming has stopped originates in this smug 2009 Washington Times essay:
I don't know how Mr. Friedman defines "young," but let's be generous: If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you're graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade. There has been no global warming this century. None.
Let us count the problems with this:
  1. Nine years is not a climateology relevant time period, and the statistical error bars are huge. With just rank-1 autocorrelation, 9-year trends are statistically significant only about 25% of the time
  2. So Steyn is drawing conclusions about the noise in the climate system. That's his right according to the First Amendment (except insofar as it constitutes libel). Except climate scientists study the signal, not the noise. 
  3. But let's play along with his obtuse 9-year period....and see what else was going on.
  4. The top 700 meters of the ocean gained 54 zettajoules in the first nine years of the 21st century. That's 54,000,000.000,000,000,000,000 Joules. (I wonder how Steyn thinks that happened.)
  5. That's an average of 210 trillion Watts. That's about 13 times the entire energy consumption of humanity
  6. It's 0.40 Watts per square meter of the Earth's surface, just in the top 1/4th of the ocean. (Argo's 0-2000 m data had only come out in 2005, but had already gained a 31 ZJ in four years, but not statistically significant, though.
  7. Average daily sea ice extent in the Arctic fell by 8% from 2000 to 2009. The yearly minimum was 31% smaller. Global sea ice extent dropped 4,000 km2. The daily Antarctic average gained 3%, and the yearly minimum gained all of 3%. 
  8. Arctic sea ice (3-dimensional) declined by 4,400 cubic kilometers, or nearly the volume of Lake Michigan. 
  9. The footprint of Greenland's ice area decreased by 355 square miles. Its volume of ice decreased by about 1.8 trillion tons, a number that then was already accelerating
  10. Sea level magically raised almost an inch (24 mm), even though global warming had "stopped."
None of this sounds like a world where global warming had stopped. Yes, the average global surface temperature was essentially unchanged in that time (though not on land, where we live and farm, where it was up by 0.09 C), and down in the lower troposphere (UAH: -0.06 C; RSS: -0.18 C, already a big difference that, until it's sorted out, suggests skepticism about both).

But then, short-term intervals are for suckers, and the thin surface sliver of the atmosphere is just about the worst place to diagnose the planetary energy balance created by AGW.

Steyn thinks this statement by Phil Jones supports his claim
The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn't statistically significant.
which is fine until you ignore the last two words of the second sentence. Otherwise, not so much.

Here's an attempt at a clever switch of time periods, from 9 years to 30 years:
Steyn in 2009: I don't know how [New York Times climate alarmist Thomas] Friedman defines "young" but let's be generous: If you're 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you're graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade. There has been no global warming this century. None. Admittedly the 21st century is only one century out of the many centuries of planetary existence, but it happens to be the one you're stuck living in.

Steyn yesterday: Consider, for example, the context in which I made my 30-year-hot-30-year-cool observation half-a-decade back. I'd written a column in which I remarked en passant.
and the dopey (and dishonest) implication that 9 years with no (global surface) warming represents the entire 21st century. (It's hard to believe any editor would let him get away with that, except at the Washington Times.)

And this statement:
In the mid-nineties, which climatologist and which model predicted the cooling trend of the turn of the century and the oughts? And, if they didn't, on what basis do you trust their claims for 2050 or 2100?
which shows yet again (see Barry Bickmore, who noted that Steyn called the hockey stick a "climate model") {snort}, that Steyn doesn't know what a climate model is, what they aren't (magical foreseer of future ENSOs, volcanoes, changes in solar irradiance and shifts in the big ocean cycles) or how they work.

And finally, Steyn again quoted what he wrote in 2009 (since blogger lacks puke green, I'll put the mindless parts in pink):
For the last century, we’ve had ever-so-slight warming trends and ever-so-slight cooling trends every 30 years or so, and I don’t think either are anything worth collapsing the global economy over.

Things warmed up a bit in the decades before the late Thirties. Why? I dunno. The Versailles Treaty? The Charleston?

Then from 1940 to 1970 there was a slight cooling trend. In its wake, Lowell Ponte (who I believe is an expert climatologist and, therefore, should have been heeded) wrote his bestseller, The Cooling: Has the new ice age already begun? Can we survive?

From 1970 to 1998 there was a slight warming trend, and now there’s a slight cooling trend again. And I’m not fussed about it either way.
The part in red is especially inane; Ponte was a gadfly, not a scientist. Here is what Reid Bryson: (one of the first notable contrarians about manmade global warming) wrote in the preface of Ponte's book:
"...There are very few pages that, as a scientist, I could accept without questions of accuracy, of precision, or of balance..."
In the freaking preface! Regarding the "expert climatologist" Ponte:
Lowell Ponte's diverse background includes being a reporter in Washington, D.C., a legislative aide in the California Assembly, one of two co-owners of a successful Hollywood public relations firm, a consultant and speaker for various corporations and trade associations, and dean of a distance-learning university.
Ponte even asserted that the strength of the gravitational force was weakening, because the Moon moves 4 cm/yr away from the Earth. What an "expert!"

Did Steyn intentionally misrepresent Ponte's credentials in order to give his own writing the appearance of authority? If so, is that fraudulent?

Luckily, Steyn has the privilege of writing for conservative rags that aren't exactly known for their fact checking; they're happy as long as he ladels out reddish, half-spoiled meat with a side of Islamophobia for readers who mainly want affirmation for their selfishness, no questions asked and no facts expected.

Steyn should stick to the rags, because he's clearly not going to make it as a science writer. (He doesn't have much going as a defendant, either.)

P.S.: In the preface!

Quote of the Day

“Terri believes we need to keep an eye on it; but she doesn’t believe we should put a meter on the business end of a cow, like the EPA does.”

- Heather Swift, spokeswoman for Republican Terri Lynn Land, who is running for a Senate seat in Michigan, when asked how much of climate change is caused by humans
Her opponent, Democrat Gary Peters, is making climate change an issue in their race, says Politico.

Note: It's really the burping that is the problem with cows, not the flatulence. Gizmodo: "According to researchers at New Zealand's largest Crown Research Institute, AGResearch, up to 95 percent of the emissions comes from the cow's mouth rather than its behind."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NEW DATA: Ocean Continues Above Average Warming

The April-June 2014 numbers are up for Ocean Heat Content: 0-700 meter and 0-2000 meters.

Compared to a year ago, the 0-700 m region has gained 8.6 zettajoules, and the 0-2000 m region has gained 23 ZJ.

In more comfortable units, those are 0.53 W/m2, and 1.43 W/m2.

Compared to the averages of the last 8.5 years (because that's one year after the 0-2000 m data begins), these are 160% and 210% higher, respectively.

NOAA's graphs aren't updated yet, so here's my plot:

Someday I will do this right and turn these into anomalies.

Monday, August 25, 2014

This Isn't Going to Help

Oh, Geez. I don't think this was a good idea. At all.

Tim Flannery
What follows are several portraits, all seemingly taken in a studio under controlled lighting, of scientists who are concerned about climate change -- one especially because of species extinction, another about an increase in extreme weather events, or, in the case of Tim Flannery, "DISRUPTION OF GLOBAL CIVILIATION."

I can understand their concerns. But the scientists obviously posed for the pictures, "OK, Dr. Flannery" said the photographer, "let's see you look worried.... Maybe a little more scrunch in your forehead?... A little more squint... There, that's perfect (CLICK).

It looks as fake as it is, and it also comes across as emotional manipulation. Probably we should be emotional about climate change, but come on, no one sits around all day looking worried, as if their checking account is low and the rent's past due.

Look for this to be widely mocked. I can't honestly blame anyone if they do.

Study: Cutting Emissions Pays for Itself

A study just published in Nature Climate Change finds that cutting carbon emissions has significant health and economic benefits. From an MIT press release:
“Carbon-reduction policies significantly improve air quality,” says Noelle Selin, an assistant professor of engineering systems and atmospheric chemistry at MIT, and co-author of a study published today in Nature Climate Change. “In fact, policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions improve air quality by a similar amount as policies specifically targeting air pollution.”
"The researchers found that savings from avoided health problems could recoup 26 percent of the cost to implement a transportation policy, but up to 10.5 times the cost of implementing a cap-and-trade program. The difference depended largely on the costs of the policies, as the savings—in the form of avoided medical care and saved sick days—remained roughly constant: Policies aimed at specific sources of air pollution, such as power plants and vehicles, did not lead to substantially larger benefits than cheaper policies, such as a cap-and-trade approach."
The numbers:
CAT = Cap-and-Trade
TRN = transportation sector
CES = Clean Energy Standard (electricity generation)
"Savings from health benefits dwarf the estimated $14 billion cost of a cap-and-trade program. At the other end of the spectrum, a transportation policy with rigid fuel-economy requirements is the most expensive policy, costing more than $1 trillion in 2006 dollars, with health benefits recouping only a quarter of those costs. The price tag of a clean energy standard fell between the costs of the two other policies, with associated health benefits just edging out costs, at $247 billion versus $208 billion."
Including the benefits of better health makes a big difference:
“If cost-benefit analyses of climate policies don’t include the significant health benefits from healthier air, they dramatically underestimate the benefits of these policies,” says lead author Tammy Thompson.
Of course, most U.S. Republicans don't care enough to help their constituents get health insurance, so why would they do anything about potential health benefits for them? Watch for the "I'm not a doctor" replies.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Where Solar Parity is Here Already

From an article in The Independent: "Oil industry on borrowed time as switch to gas and solar accelerates":
Citigroup said solar already competes in the growing regions of the world on "pure economics" without subsidies. It has reached grid parity with residential electricity prices in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and the US southwest. Japan will cross this year, Korea in 2018. It forecast that even Britain will achieve grid parity by 2020, a remarkable thought for this wet isle at 51 or 52 degrees latitude....

Roughly 29pc [%] of all electricity capacity added in America last year came from solar. The story is by now well-known. A McKinsey study found that installed solar power in the US across all sectors has dropped from $6 a watt to $2.59 in four years, largely due to the collapse in the cost of solar cells.
It's starting to look obvious that those regions of the world where electricity is scarce, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will get electricty via distributed solar energy, instead of building up an entire infrastructure of roads and pipelines to deliver fossil fuels. Which will obviate the "we can't stop using fossil fuels because the poor need cheap energy" argument. (That argument also does not prove that the wealthy OECD countries should get a pass on fossil fuels. They're rich enough now to switch to cleaner energy, and subsidize it for their country's poor if need be.)

And as fossil fuels are pushed out of the marketplace, their (cooling) aerosol pollution and the -1.9 W/m2 of cooling will go too.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Deep Atlantic Has Stored More Heat that the Rest of Oceans Combined

From Science magazine, on the Chen and Tung paper that finds the missing heat is in the deep Atlantic:
Covering 24 depths from the sea surface down to 1500 meters, the data suggest that over the last decade or so the Atlantic has been absorbing heat (red in the graphic above) that would have otherwise warmed the surface. Over the past 14 years, the authors write, water below 300 meters in the North and South Atlantic oceans has stored more energy than the rest of the global oceans combined. “We found the missing heat,” says one of the authors, oceanographer Xianyao Chen of the Ocean University of China in Qingdao. He and co-author Ka-Kit Tung of the University of Washington, Seattle, postulate that the mechanism is the “conveyor belt” current that moves salty tropical water to the North Atlantic, where it sinks, carrying heat with it.

Bringing Peace to the Hiatus War

A letter in Nature Geoscience says the hiatus and climate models can be reconciled by looking carefully at what changes in forcings have taken place in the last 15 years and running models with those changes:
Natural variability, radiative forcing and climate response in the recent hiatus reconciled, Markus Huber & Reto Knutti, Nature Geoscience (2014) doi:10.1038/ngeo2228, Published online 17 August 2014.
I'm at a conference and don't have a lot of time to blog today, so I'll just give their abstract and nut graph; their numbered references can be found here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Greenland -- On Its Way to being Green Again

A new paper in The Cryosphere finds some big numbers for ice melt.

Using satellite measurements of ice elevation in Greenland and Antarctica for 3 years -- January 2011 to January 2014 -- they found a combined melt rate for the two ice sheets of 503 ± 103 km3/yr. That's the fastest rate ever recorded.

75% of this comes from Greenland.

That's in line with the earlier results I wrote about a month ago (the number there was 537 km3/yr). And Greenland's melt is accelerating fast; from the numbers here and here I find the acceleration is roughly 30 km3/yr2, or a speedup in the melt rate of about 8% per year. That's a doubling in less than 10 years.

Why does it matter? Ask these people.

Today's YCC Radio Feature ... El Nino

Yale Climate Connections - August 21 2014

Yale CC graphic
Photo El Niño. Scientists are concerned that the next strong El Niño -- when it occurs and not if it occurs -- may pack a greater wallop and more widespread and costly damages across North America.


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Today's Solar Power 'Revolution': Powerful Insights from Energy Experts (VIDEO)

Neighbors Helping Neighbors to Pay Costs for Solar (Sara Peach)


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