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Providing Insight
Into Climate Change
FoS Climate Science Newsletter - 2018

By: Ken Gregory

 

CliSci # 281      2018-03-31

 

State of the Climate Report

Emeritus Professor Ole Humlum of the University of Oslo prepared this new report on the state of the climate. He is the proprietor of the website Climate4you, that provides data and information on climate. Professor Humlum writes, “It is clear that temperatures in the troposphere are continuing to diverge from surface temperatures. In other words, they are warming more slowly than global warming theory says they should. The contrast with theory is even more marked in the stratosphere, where temperatures have barely changed for 23 years.” Some key findings are; at the end of 2017 the average global surface temperature was dropping back toward levels before the record 2015-16 El Niño episode; since 2003 the average global temperature estimates based on surface weather stations has steadily diverged in the warm direction from satellite-based estimates; and data from tide-gauges all over the world suggest an average global sea-level rise of 1-1.5 mm/year, while the satellite-derived estimates suggest a rise of more than twice the rate of about 3.2 mm/year.

 

Southern Ocean Sea Ice is Expanding

A South American research team of De Santis et al. (2017)  used passive microwave satellite data from 1979 to 2016 to assess the trends in sea ice extent for the Southern Ocean and five sub-regions. The trends were compared over time. The results show the positive sea ice extent trend has been increasing from about 1% per decade (1979-2006) to 1.6 % per decade (1979-2016). Four of the five regions show regions show positive sea ice trends. The only region with a negative trend is in the Bellingshausen-Amundsen Seas, where the trend is getting less negative in recent years. The trends were compared to meteorological variables which led the authors to conclude that the increase in sea ice extent is mostly due to thermodynamic effects of winds. However, one thing is certain; all of the climate models have failed to predict the increase in Southern Ocean sea ice extent. The models forecast that global warming was supposed to reduce sea ice extent, so something is fundamentally wrong with the climate models. See a review of the paper at CO2 Science.

 

Henrik & Jacob Svensmark Interview: The Connection Between Cosmic Rays, Clouds and Climate

Prof Henrik Svensmark & Jacob Svensmark discuss the connection between cosmic rays, clouds and climate with the GWPF’s Benny Peiser and Jonny Bairstow from Energy Live News in this video interview.  They explain that charged ions created by cosmic rays attach to small aerosols, also caused by cosmic rays, that cause the aerosols to grow large enough to become cloud condensing nuclei. Lower solar activity that is predicated over the next several decades is associated with low solar wind, that would allow more cosmic rays into the atmosphere. The cosmic rays create aerosol that grow with the help of charged ion into large aerosol that seed cloud droplets, enhancing clouds which reflect solar radiation. The scientists believe the lower solar activity will offset all of the warming effects of emissions, but this is still uncertain.

 

Climate Tutorial: Happer, Koonin, Lindzen (Climate Alarmism on Trial)

Dr. William Happer, President of the CO2 Coalition; Dr. Richard Lindzen and Dr. Steven Koonin have submitted a document to the court concerning lawsuits filed by Oakland, San Francisco, et al. against certain large oil companies in response to U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s request for a tutorial on climate change and climate science. Robert Bradley Jr. wrote this summary of the 31 page document. The document presents a large amount of data and evidence that CO2 emissions do not pose an imminent threat to the earth’s climate. Some conclusions are; climate changes of the past half-century are common in the geologic record, driven by powerful natural phenomena; human influences on the climate are a small (1%) perturbation to natural energy flows; it is not possible to tell how much of the modest recent warming can be ascribed to human influences; and there have been no detrimental changes observed in the most salient climate variables. Historical data show that weather extremes are not becoming more common globally.

 

Northern Snow Cover and Sea Ice Extent Are High

The snow and ice in the northern hemisphere has shown surprising extents despite increasing CO2 emissions. A post by Peter Gosselin presents a chart of northern hemisphere snow cover extent that shows the current snow cover is more than one standard deviation above the 1998 – 2011 average. A graph from the Finnish Meteorological Institute shows the northern snow mass has been exceptionally high. Sea ice volume has increased at a fast rate in March and are near normal levels. This large snow and ice extent seems to contradict the surface temperature measurements. Ocean temperatures have a major effect on ice extent. Gosselin writes “Below the earth’s surface we have kilometers of a vast dynamic ocean, whose mass is 100 times that of the atmosphere above us. …  The ocean is in a state of constant of flux involving huge complex currents and cycles with periods ranging from months to centuries. Very few of these cycles are understood to any appreciable extent. Scientists are still not able to forecast the ENSO.”

 

CliSci # 280      2018-03-14

 

Fewer People Die From Climate-Related Natural Disasters

Bjørn Lomborg writes on his Facebook page “Fewer and fewer people die from climate-related natural disasters.” He presents a graph that shows deaths per year of climate-related deaths and no-climate-related deaths (earthquakes, Tsunamis, volcanos). The data is from the International Disaster Database. The story is reported at WUWT. The climate related deaths declined from 485,000 per year in the 1920s to 34,000 per year in the 2010-2017 period. This is a 93% decline over a period when the global population increased by a factor of four. There is likely under-reporting in the earlier decades, so the decline in deaths may be underestimated. “The individual risk of dying from climate-related disasters has declined by 98.9%. Lomborg writes “our increased wealth and adaptive capacity has vastly outdone any negative impact from climate…”.

 

Aerosol Effects on Cloud Water Amounts

 A study published March 7, 2018 in Nature Communications says that in climate models, “the mass of liquid water is assumed to increase monotonically with increasing aerosol loading. However, recent satellite observations shows that the liquid water mass can decrease with increasing aerosol loading, implying that climate models overestimate the aerosol effect. This paper reproduces the satellite-observed liquid water mass responses using a global simulation with explicit representations of cloud microphysics. The authors report that the decrease in liquid water in clouds is due to the response of evaporation and condensation processes to aerosol perturbations, which are not represented in climate models. The negative aerosol-cloud interactive in climate models need to be “significantly reduced and the uncertainty range  could even include positive values. The total aerosol effect is the sum of the aerosol-cloud interaction and the direct aerosol effect without clouds. Using the results of this study, Frank Bosse wrote a post where he estimates the total aerosol effect is about half of that given by the climate models’ mean. This implies that aerosols cannot offset the large positive feedbacks assumed in climate models and the climate models must reduce the greenhouse gas sensitivity in order to match the historical temperature record.

 

The Solar Variability Effect on Climate

Javier wrote an interesting essay showing the strong effect of the millennium solar cycle (or Eddy solar cycle) on Earth’s climate. He uses a solar activity reconstruction from Steinhilber et al., 2012 which uses both 14C and 10Be isotopes. A frequency analysis on the data shows that the millennium cycle (actually 980 years) is by far the most prominent. This is very similar to the Asian monsoon frequency analysis, which also has the most prominent frequency at the same periodicity. Javier uses the Bond series of ice-rafted debris that is a proxy for iceberg activity and climate. The match is very good except during the period between 4100 – 1800 before BP (1950). A wavelet spectrum of solar activity over the past 9400 years by Steinhilber & Beer 2013 shows that the 980 year cycle fall in power over the 4100 – 1800 BP period, explaining why there is a poor solar-climate match over that period. The modern warming corresponds to a period of high Eddy cycle solar activity. Javier also shows that there are several time lags corresponding to different indirect solar effects. There is a 10 to 40 year time lag between solar forcing and Greenland temperatures that are related to the slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. Multiply time lags means that there is roughly a 20 year time lag for the full effect of solar variability to be felt on climate.

 

Subsidize Fossil Fuels to Optimize the Net Benefits

I was the Key Note Speaker at the IEEE IAS ESTMP Workshop at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Calgary on March 12.   The first part of that alphabet soup is IEEE = Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In the presentation I presented evidence of low climate sensitivity to greenhouse gas emissions. I estimate the net global benefit of CO2 emissions is about US$5/tCO2 based on output of the FUND economic model with a transient climate response of 0.85 °C/double CO2. The private benefit of fossil fuels according to calculations by Richard Tol, the developer of the FUND model, is US$411/tCO2, so the total benefit of fossil fuel use including the effects of emissions is US$416/tCO2. See page 26 of the presentation. Even if CO2 emissions caused a net social cost, say $30/tCO2, which is equivalent to the Alberta CO2 tax, the private benefit of fossil fuels overwhelms the alleged social cost. Therefore, calls to eliminate fossil fuel use are crazy, as they ignore the benefits to consumers of fossil fuels. The private benefit of fossil fuels for residential electricity is US1875/tCO2. If there is a net social cost of CO2 emissions and if the tax and royalty rate on fossil fuels is equal to that of other sources of energy sources, increasing the cost of fossil fuels by that social cost would cause the optimal amount of fossil fuel usage and optimal CO2 emission, as long as there are no subsidies to other sources of energy, and no other climate policies. The optimum is achieved when the marginal benefit of fossil fuels is equal to the marginal cost of producing the fuel plus the alleged social costs. However, since using a realistic estimate of climate sensitivity with the FUND model gives a net social benefit of emissions, the use of fossil fuels should be subsidized to optimize the net benefits.


 

CliSci # 279      2018-03-02

 

Polar Bears Are Thriving, New Report Shows

The Global Warming Policy Foundation issued a new report on the state of polar bears authored by polar bear expert Dr. Susan Crockford of the University of Victoria. The report shows the global polar bear numbers have been stable or risen slightly since 2005 despite that summer sea ice declined to a level where it was predicted to cause a 67% decline in polar bear numbers. Abundant prey and adequate sea ice in the spring and early summer since 2007 explain why global polar bear numbers have not declined. The record low sea ice extent in March 2017 had no impact of polar bear health or survival. The US Geological Survey estimate the global polar bear population at 24,500 in 2005. The current estimate is 28,500 polar bears with a relatively wide margin of error, about ±5,000. Several subpopulations have never been comprehensively surveyed.

 

Sea Level Rise in Four Parts

Dr. Judith Curry has published a series of four blog post about the science of sea level rise. Part 1 give an introduction which shows statements from IPCC reports an sea level rise (SLR) and compares those to tidal ranges and storm surges. The last IPCC report says global sea levels rose by about 19 cm from 1901 to 2010, and the projected rise from 1996 to 2091 (95 years) is about 48 cm for the RCP6.0 scenario. Tides can change by 11 m and storm surges can reach 9 m. Part 2 discusses causes of SLR and the geological evidence for past SRL. The rate of SLR was during the last interglacial was higher than the rate during the 20th century. Part 3 reviews SLR during the 19th and 20th century. The rates are estimated from tide gauges and by summing the components that contribute to SLR. “Recent analyses of 20th century sea level rise find significantly lower values than were cited in the IPCC AR4 and AR5. These lower values between 1900-1990 are more consistent with integral constraints from mass budget analyses.” Part 4 reviews SLR during the satellite era. Complex adjustments are required to convert the satellite signal to SLR, and the errors may be substantial. The radar wave travel time through the atmosphere is affected by the amount of water vapor, effects of the ionosphere, the ocean surface state including wave height, tides and atmospheric pressure. Short term SLR is strongly correlated with ENSO. There was a significant increase in SLR during the 1990, but this is mainly due to increases in the Indian Ocean and the southern Pacific region. There are still large uncertainty in the SLR estimates, and even larger uncertainty in the fraction of the SLR that is caused by mankind versus by nature.

 

A simple Climate Model Matched to Observation Gives Low Climate Sensitivity

Dr. Roy Spencer published a study using a simple climate model whose parameters are matched to the HadCRUT4 temperature record, the ocean heat content changes and ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation). The model includes estimates greenhouse gas and aerosol forcing and ENSO related radiative forcings. Some parameters are adjusted to best match the observations. The resulting climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 concentrations is 1.54  °C, which is only 45% of the IPCC model average of 3.4 °C.  This explains why the climate models overestimate warming compared to the measurements. The model well matches the strong warming trend from the 1890s to 1945 and the cooling to 1975.  These temperature trends are explained by the ENSO radiative forcing, which the IPCC models lack. The IPCC climate models do not match these periods. A major result of the study is that the usual (IPCC) interpretation of a comparison of radiative fluxes to temperature to estimate climate sensitivity is very flawed as this gives an interpreted climate sensitivity of 3.25 °C even though the actual climate sensitivity specified in the model is only 1.45 °C.  The top-of-atmosphere radiative fluxes cannot be used to diagnose the climate sensitivity because the ENSO radiative forcing due to cloud changes decorrelate the feedback flux relationship to temperature. In my opinion, the climate sensitivity estimate from the model is still significantly too high because long term recovery from the Little Ice Age and urban heat island warming included in the temperature index is falsely attributed to greenhouse gases.

 

Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation modulates Arctic Sea Ice

The Arctic sea ice extent has declined in recent years due to the warm phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Ascillation (AMO) that began in 1996. This paper published last month investigated the relationship between the AMO and the Arctic sea ice in the Atlantic sector. The study reports that the cold phase of the AMO increases Ural blocking, the snowpack and a cold Eurasia continent in the winter. The increased Ural blocking and larger snowpack leads to a weakened stratospheric polar vortex and a negative Arctic Oscillation phase at the surface in February. During the warm AMO phase, the stratosphere-troposphere coupling is suppressed and there is no negative AO anomaly in February. The cold AMO phase regulates the atmospheric response to the Arctic sea ice decline.

 

Projections of Future Tropical Cyclone Damage

A model study using a climate model and a tropical cyclone damage model was used to simulate economic damages due to tropical storms in response to warming. The study claims the damage model produces reasonable damage estimates compared to observations. The damage estimates are highly dependent on the internal variability of the coupled system, so damages uncertainly is ±40%.  The model result indicate that the number of cyclone will decline in the future but the intensity of strong storms will increase. There is little benefit is seen from mitigation. The projected  increase in the vulnerable assets increases damages by more than three-fold, so future growth will swamp the potential changes in tropical cyclones.

 

United States Hurricane Landfall Frequency and Damages

A new study reports that since 1900 neither the frequency nor intensity of US landfalling hurricanes show significant trends, including the devastating 2017 season. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) significantly impact the US landfalling hurricane activity. There are more US landfalling hurricanes during La Niña and the positive phase of the AMO. The growth of coastal populations and wealth are the overwhelming drivers of hurricane-related damages. Losses from future hurricanes have significant potential to dwarf those of the past based on societal change alone.

 

97 New Papers Published in the First 8 Weeks of 2018 Support a Skeptical Position on Climate Alarm

Kenneth Richard reports “In just the first 8 weeks of 2018,  97 scientific papers have been published that cast doubt on the position that anthropogenic CO2 emissions function as the climate’s fundamental control knob…or that otherwise serve to question the efficacy of climate models or the related “consensus” positions commonly endorsed by policymakers and mainstream media sources.” Climate science is far from settled, but it is becoming very clear that the IPCC’s position on climate is far too alarmist. Natural mechanisms play a large role in climate change. The recent warming, sea levels and extreme weather are well within the range of natural variability. Climate models are far too sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions and current emissions mitigation policies are ineffective and even harmful to the environment.


 

CliSci # 278      2018-02-12

 

Pacific Islands Nation of Tuvalu Is Growing in Size

A study published in Nature Communications found that 8 of the 9 atolls and almost three-quarters of the 101 reef islands of Tubalu grew in size between 1971 and 2014, increasing Tuvalu’s total land area by 2.9%, even though sea level rose at twice the global average.  The authors used satellite imagery and aerial photography to document the changes in the islands’ areas. Tuvalu is a nation comprising of 9 major islands and many minor islands in the tropical Pacific Ocean.  The paper challenges the usual narrative that low-lying island nations would be swamped as the sea levels rise. The study found that factors such as wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms could offset the erosion caused by rising sea levels. Rather than accepting their homes are doomed and looking to migrate to countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the researchers say they should start planning for a long-term future.  See a Breitbart article here.

 

Ultraviolet Flux Decrease Under a Grand Minimum from Observation of Solar Analogs

A team of scientists from California identified 33 sun-like stars to estimate the decrease in ultraviolet (UV) radiation on Earth associated with our sun entering into a grand-minimum state. The scientists used 20 years of observations by the satellite International Ultraviolet Explorer to find the solar analogues.  The authors estimate a range of UV flux of 9.3% over solar cycle 22 and a reduction of 6.9% below solar cycle minimum under a grand minimum. Solar activity has declined over the last three solar cycles and most solar scientists believe that the sun may be entering a grand minimum state of low solar output. The reduced UV energy from the Sun sets into motion a sequence of events on Earth beginning with a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer. That thinning, in turn, changes the temperature structure of the stratosphere, which then changes the dynamics of the lower atmosphere, especially wind and weather patterns. A cold period in the northern hemisphere during the 17th century is attributed mainly to the Maunder Minimum, which was a grand minimum of solar activity. See a blog post here.

 

Global Sea-Level Reconstruction and Its Budget Over 1958–2014

A new paper, Frederiske et al, 2018, used tide gauge records combined with observation of vertical land motion, estimates of ice-mass loss, land water storage and atmospheric pressure to reconstruct sea level changes on basin and global scales, which are compared to the estimated sum of the contributing processes. The authors show that the sea level rise and acceleration can be explained by the sum of contributors, as well as a large part of the decadal variability. The global sea level reconstruction shows a trend of 1.5 mm/yr over 1958 to 2014, compared to 1.3 mm/yr for the sum of contributors. Over the same period, there was an acceleration of 0.07 mm/yr2. Sea level rise from 1993 to 2015 was 2.76 mm/yr, which is 0.29 mm/yr less than the 3.05 mm/yr (GIA not included) recorded by satellite altimetry data.

 

Climate Influences on Caribou Body Condition and Abundance in Northern Canada

A paper published last month shows that the body condition and population of caribou in northern Canada are strongly correlated with the Arctic Oscillation (AO), where the positive phase of the AO in summer were associated with warmer temperatures, more vegetation, better body condition of caribou and increased fertility. The AO is an atmospheric oscillation where during the positive phase the atmospheric pressure over the Arctic is lower than average, which results in warmer  winters in northern regions as warmer air is able to move further north. The caribou herd populations followed the direction of the AO. From 1988 to 1996, the AO was positive corresponding to population growth, and from 1997 to 2016, the AO was in the negative phase causing cooling when the caribou populations declined. “The positive AO intensity in the summer corresponds to warmer average temperatures and a longer growing season and improved foraging conditions for caribou. This leads to caribou in better physical condition going into winter, perhaps reducing adult winter mortality, and increasing rates of fecundity and late-winter calf survival.”

 

Ozone Layer Isn't Healing After All

Ozone is created by ultraviolet radiation interactions with oxygen in the stratosphere. The ozone layer protects us from most of the sun’s harmful ultra-violet radiation. Halogen-containing ozone-depleting substances were banned by the Montreal Protocol, effective January 1, 1989. A paper published this month reports that the total column amount of ozone between the earth and the top of the atmosphere has stopped declining, but no clear increase has been observed at latitudes between 60° S and 60° N. Ozone in the lower stratosphere between 60° S and 60° N has continued to decline since 1998 while the upper stratosphere ozone was recovering, but the decline in the lower stratosphere was greater so the total stratosphere ozone continued to decline. The ozone in the troposphere has been increasing, which compensates for the stratospheric ozone decreases. The reasons for the continued reduction of lower stratospheric ozone are not clear and atmospheric models do not reproduce these trends.

 

Critiquing Marvel el al’s paper on Climate Sensitivity from Observations

Kate Marvel, Gavin Schmidt of NASA and others recently published a model-based paper that claims estimates of climate sensitivity (CS) based on observations of historical data are biased low. Critiquing other people’s work is a very important part of the scientific method.  Climatologist Nic Lewis published a critique of this paper on two climate blogs, Climate Audit and Climate Etc. The Marvel paper shows that climate models project stronger positive feedbacks in the far future, but Nic writes “the fact that models project more positive climate feedbacks in the future does not in any way prove that the models are correct in doing so.” Nic shows that the paper presents three invalid arguments to support this conjecture. The paper argues that a CO2 increase from a doubling to a quadrupling causes more temperature change than the first doubling, but this is explained by the fact that CO2 forcing increases slightly faster than logarithmically with its concentration, rather than from stronger feedbacks. Observation-based estimates of CS extrapolate only from about 1.4 to 2 times CO2, where the logarithmic assumption is valid. The paper argues that CS inferred from recent history of 26 years is lower than that from an abrupt quadrupling of CO2, but observational studies use very long periods. That 26 year period is unsuited for CS estimates because there was strong volcanic forcing during the early part of the period which biases the calculations. In short, we see no reason to assume that feedbacks become stronger in the future, so CS estimates based on historical data are likely valid for the next few centuries.


 

CliSci # 277      2018-02-02

 

Oceans Cool Off Previous 3 Years

Blogger Ron Clutz presented a plot of sea surface temperatures (SST) showing the global SST declined by 0.94 °C from Jan 2016 to Dec 2017. He writes, “All parts of the ocean are clearly lower than at any time in the past 3 years. For Reference: Global SSTs are the lowest since 3/2013 … Tropics SSTs are the lowest since 3/3012”. The period is dominated by the recent, strong El Nino that peaked in January, 2016. Weak La Nina conditions are forecast to persist throughout 2018. The tropical troposphere temperature in January 2018 dropped 0.38 °C, the third largest monthly decline in the UAH satellite record. This is the lowest tropical temperature since June, 2012. La Niña conditions are usually defined as when the sea surface temperatures in a region in the tropical Pacific named Nina3.4 [5N-5S, 170W-120W] is more than 0.5 °C cooler than the 1951 – 2000 average. We were in mild La Niña conditions in September and October, and strong La Niña in November. There is a several month delay between the cooling at the sea surface and in the lower troposphere.

 

The Cosmogenic Isotope Record and the Role of The Sun in Shaping Earth’s Climate

Euan Mearns wrote a excellent article on the “hard scientific evidence” from cosmogenic isotope variations that the sun has a major effect on earth’s climate. Cosmogenic isotopes 10Be and 14C are used to study the solar variability. 10Be and 14C are radioactive isotopes of beryllium and carbon, respectively. Both are caused by cosmic ray collisions with oxygen and nitrogen atoms. The cosmic ray flux varies inversely with the solar magnetic field strength. High solar intensity and magnetic field strength deflect the cosmic rays away from the earth. This changes the amount of 14C found in trees and carbonate minerals and the amount of 10Be measured in snow and ice, so both isotopes are excellent proxies for solar variability. Mearns presents a graph showing a strong correlation between 10Be (solar activity) and temperature from a Greenland ice core record. Sediment cores from the north Atlantic show the sediments dropped by melting ice bergs which match the record of known climate events. The drift ice record matches the 14C and 10Be records with very strong correlations. Isotope records from stalagmites also show very strong correlations between the 14C solar proxy and climate. This provides strong evidence that the sun controls Holocene climate fluctuations. 

 

German CO2 Reductions to Cost US$2.8 Trillion More by 2050 

A new study by the German Federation of Industry has found that it would cost Germany up to an additional US$2.8 trillion to reach its Paris Accord emission reduction targets of 2050. Germany currently emits 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions. This suggests that reducing global emissions by 95% would cost up to US$140 trillion if costs are proportional in other countries. The study is reviewed by P. Gosselin. The German news website Welt discusses the study.Meanwhile, Germany’s CO2 emissions have not fallen at all since 2009, a period of 7 years despite emissions reduction expenditures of 20 to 40 billion US dollars per year.

 

The Resilience of a Coralline Red Algae to Ocean Acidification

CO2 Science reviewed a paper by Donald et al (2017) that examined the boron isotopic composition of a coralline red algae to investigate how its pH was impacted by ocean acidification. The calcareous organisms were grown in four seawater pH conditions. The researchers found that the organisms increased the pH at the site of calcification, counteracting the seawater pH by 1.2 pH units. By increasing the pH at the organisms surface it increased its rate of calcification, which the authors say is “most likely due to CO2 fertilization of algal photosynthesis”. The reviewer said this coralline red algae may improve its calcification rate in the decades and even centuries to come.

 

Amplification of Arctic Warming by Past Air Pollution Reductions in Europe

A paper Navarro et al (2016) used an Earth System model with comprehensive aerosol physics to show that sulfate aerosol reductions in Europe from 1980 to 2005 may explain 0.54 °C of Arctic warming over the period. The SO2 emissions have declined by 60%. The measured warming  (70N – 90N) is 0.85 C (average of HadCRUT4 and NCDC), so sulfate emissions may explain 63% of the warming. The Arctic warming is amplified mainly in fall and winter, but is initiated in the summer. The summertime energy surplus reduces sea ice cover which causes heat transfer from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere. The sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere scatter sunlight causing cooling, so the reduction of these aerosols causes warming. The aerosols make clouds more reflective and long-lived. Black soot on snow and greenhouse gases may have together causes 37% of the arctic warming.

 

Multidecadal Variability in Temperatures Related to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation

A paper, Stolpe et al 2018, used computer models to simulate how variations in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) affects hemispheric and global air temperatures, and ocean heat content. The AMOC is a system of Atlantic Ocean currents that includes a northward flow of warm water in the upper layers of the Atlantic, including the Gulf Stream, and a southward flow of colder deep water. The system moves heat from the tropics to the North Atlantic. The AMOC variations are chaotic, so the simulations show a large spread of air temperatures. Deep convection in the Labrador Sea controls these temperature trends. A strengthening AMOC lead to decreased heat storage in the Atlantic and more heat in the top 300 m of the global oceans. The abstract claims that the AMOC is a “control knob” on deep-ocean heat storage. Global air temperatures are significantly altered on multi-decadal time scale by the AMOC variability. Chaotic ocean processes might have caused much of the recent warming.

 

Does Replacing Coal with Wood Lower CO2 Emissions?

The European Union has declared that biofuels are carbon-neutral and provides financial incentives for burning wood, causing a surge in wood usage for generating electricity. A study by Sterman et al 2018 published in Environmental Research Letters shows that the immediate impact of replacing coal with wood is to increase CO2 emissions. The authors calculate that the payback time for this carbon debt ranges from 44 to 104 years after clearcut, depending on the forest type and assuming the land remains forest. Replacing hardwood forest with faster growing pine plantations raises the CO2 impact. The projected growth in wood use would increase CO2 levels for at least a century because new carbon dept continuously exceeds CO2 uptake by replanted forests.


 

CliSci # 276      2018-01-17

 

Climate Models Underestimate Cooling Effect of Daily Cloud Cycle

A paper published in Nature Communications compared the diurnal, or daily, cloud cycle as measured by satellites and reanalysis data to that projected by a suite of climate models and found that the climate models underestimate the cooling effect that clouds have on a daily basis, particularly over land. The researchers found that the discrepancies over the daily cycle increased the margin of error of climate model projections. The daily cloud cycle error results in the models warming the earth’s surface with an extra 1 to 2 W/m2 of solar energy.  This is a significant error as it is large compared to the estimated forcing of greenhouse gases from pre-industrial times to 2011 of 2.3 W/m2 reported in AR5. The models have too little cloud cover in the early afternoon when the sun’s intensity is the greatest. The poor performance of the climate models in simulating the diurnal cloud cycle indicates deficiencies in modeling the behavior of water vapour and surface heating which affect cloud formation. The paper is here and a summary is here.

 

Global Ocean Temperatures During the Last Glacial Transition

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography published results in the Journal Nature  of a new method to determine the global average ocean temperatures. The method involves measuring the ratio of three noble gases, argon, krypton and xenon, trapped in Antarctic ice cores. As the oceans warm, these gases are released into the atmosphere in known quantities, so the ratio of the quantity of the gases allows for the calculation of the average global ocean temperature, from the ocean floor to the surface. The study focused on the period 8,000 to 22,000 years ago, which includes the last glacial transition. The average global ocean temperature increased from 0.9 °C to 3.5 °C. The authors claim that the measurement precision is about 0.2 °C. The warming of the past 50 years is only about 0.1 °C.  The news release is here. A WUWT article about the study is here.

 

Sea Level Rise Acceleration (or Not)

Judith Curry has started a five part blog post examining sea level rise. The first part shows statements from the five IPCC assessment reports. The 5th report states “It is very likely that the mean rate of global averaged sea level rise was … 2.0 [1.7 to 2.3] mm yr–1 between 1971 and 2010.  … Global mean sea level rise for 2081−2100 relative to 1986–2005 will likely be in the ranges of 0.33 to 0.63 m for RCP6.0”. For context, she compares these changes to tidal ranges that can be up to 11 m. Storm surges can reach 9 m. Ground water and petroleum extraction has cause subsidence of 3 m in Houston since 1920. Curry writes “emissions reductions will have little or no impact on the course of sea level rise this century.” Eliminating emissions would reduce sea level rise by only a small fraction in the most vulnerable locations where most relative sea level rise is due to subsidence. In comments, I wrote “Using this estimate [ECS = 1.0 °C] and a 5% discount rate, the FUND model shows that the sea level rise impact is only -0.0049% of  gross domestic product (GDP). That can be compared to the agriculture impact of +0.461% of GDP, and the sum of all global impacts is +0.353% of GDP.” The + sign means that impacts are beneficial.

 

The Antarctic Centennial Oscillation: A Natural Cycle That Influences Global Temperature

An open access paper published in the journal Climate (Davis et al 2018) provides an assessment of the role of the Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO) in global climate change. The oscillation is recorded in ice cores from Antarctica and according to the paper can be traced over the last 226 millennia. The ACO varies in intensity over millennial periodicity. The authors found that the ACO oscillate in phase with glacial cycles and planetary orbital forces. The authors conclude that properties of the ACO “can explain the current global warming signal.”  See more here.

 

Tornadoes Are Becoming Less Frequent Since 2005

Dr. Lüning and Prof. Vahrenholt reviews the recent frequency of tornadoes in the USA. The reported frequency of tornadoes have increased to 2005, but much of the increase may be due to better radar that can record small tornadoes. A graph here by NOAA shows that the frequency of F3 and stronger tornadoes declined significantly since the 1970s. Tornado activity is influenced by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), an oscillation of the pattern of Pacific Ocean surface temperatures. The PDO affects the route of the jet stream which trigger tornado- producing storms. A paper (open access) by Lepore et al 2017 found that the ENSO state can be used to improve the prediction of tornadoes. The December to February (DJF) ENSO state can be predicted several month in advance. The paper shows that the predicted ENSO state available in early October can improve forecasts of severe convective storms that create tornadoes in March to May of the following year.

 

485 Scientific Paper Published in 2017 Support Climate Skepticism

Kenneth Richard compiled a list of 485 scientific papers that cast doubt on the “consensus” position of climate alarmism. The papers are categorized into three parts,

1. Natural mechanisms of climate change
2. Unsettled science, failed climate modeling
3. Natural climate change observation, reconstruction

 

An Analysis of Climate Forcings from the Central England Temperature (CET) Record

A paper published in the British Journal of Environment & Climate Change used the world’s longest instrument temperature record to attribute greenhouse gas emissions to one-third of the temperature increase from the mid-late 18th century to the present day, and two-thirds to natural climate change. The author found that the temperature variations of the Central England Temperature (CET) record from 1659 to late 18th century can be explained by fluctuation in the solar output alone. Solar forcing is required to explain the temperature decline at the end of 17th century, the rapid temperature rise in the early 18th century and the temperature decline to the early 19th century as shown by this graph. The paper says “There is good correspondence with [total solar irradiance] TSI throughout the CET record, with warm events correlating with high TSI and cool phases correlating with plateaus or decreases in TSI.”


 

CliSci # 275      2018-01-02

 

Cosmic Rays Supports Growth of Aerosols into Cloud Condensation Nuclei

A paper by Henrik Svensmark et al published in Nature Communications last month shows that the flux of cosmic rays, which are modulated by changing solar activity, creates ions that significantly promotes the growth of aerosols to a size that enhances cloud formation by several percent. A decreasing solar wind  increases the cosmic ray flux which increases the amount of cloud condensing nuclei (CCN), increasing cloud cover which reduces the solar energy reaching the earth’s surface, causing cooling. Experiments performed in a reaction chamber found that an increase in ionization results in a faster aerosol growth, which lowers the probability for the growing aerosol to be lost to existing particles, and more aerosols can survive to CCN sizes. The effect would be significant only in pristine marine settings away from pollution where the density of aerosols is small. The paper says “The mechanism could therefore be a natural explanation for the observed correlations between past climate variations and cosmic rays, modulated by either solar activity or caused by supernova activity in the solar neighborhood on very long time scales.”. See a discussion here. Several studies of cloud data shows that the ionization effect on total cloud cover is small, see here.

 

Weak Stratospheric Polar Vortex States Linked to Cold Extremes

The extra-tropical stratosphere is characterized by a strong circumpolar westerly jet, named the polar vortex, that confines the coldest air at high latitudes. A paper published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society shows the polar vortex was weakened in the winter resulting in cold extremes in mid-latitude Eurasia. In this region, 60% of the observed cooling since 1990 can be explained by the increased frequency of weak stratospheric polar vortex states.

 

Impact of Volcanic Eruptions on Fluctuations of Arctic Sea Ice Extent

A paper published in the Journal of Climate shows that large volcanic forcing is necessary to explain the start of the Little Ice Age. Volcanic eruption were followed by a positive response of the Atlantic Multidecadal Overturning Circulation, followed by a centennial-scale enhancement of the Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent. Decreasing solar activity of the Maunder Minimum added to the sea ice extent and further cooled the climate during the Little Ice Age.

 

20th-Century Climate Change in the Central USA From Agricultural

A paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, Alter et al 2017, used regional climate model simulations and observational analysis to determine that in the central United States, the observed rainfall increase, the decrease in temperature and the increase in humidity during the summer over the 20th century is attributed mainly to agricultural intensification, with natural variability and greenhouse emissions playing secondary roles. Human activity has caused a significant long-term cooling trend (-0.35°C between the 1940s and 2009) and higher rainfall totals via the mechanism of “agricultural intensification” – a photosynthesis-associated increase in the air’s water vapor or humidity levels due to an explosive (400%) increase in crop production and yield since the 1940s. The author’s say the post 1940’s cooling trend conflict with the climate model simulations which project a warming trend. See more here.

 

Ocean Surface Temperature Variability: Large Model–Data Differences

This paper compared decadal to millennial sea surface temperature variability to that simulated by global climate models. The abstract says “SST [sea surface temperature] variability obtained from coral, foraminifer, and alkenone records are shown to be consistent with one another and with instrumental records in the frequency bands at which they overlap. General circulation models, however, simulate SST variability that is systematically smaller than instrumental and proxy-based estimates. Discrepancies in variability are largest at low latitudes and increase with timescale, reaching two orders of magnitude for tropical variability at millennial timescales.” The authors used an Earth system model that extends over the last 1,200 years and a set of 8 CMIPS models. The models include greenhouse gas and volcanic forcings, land use changes, but only the total solar irradiance component of solar forcings. At low latitudes (30°S−30°N), the proxy estimates average 45 times greater variance than is associated with model SST variability at multi-centennial timescales and this discrepancy grows to more than a factor of 100 at millennial timescales. A graph of the SST variation discrepancy at various timescales is here. This indicates a major problem with the models.

 

Germany Electricity Prices Keep Rising

The prices of electricity in Germany are among the world’s highest largely due to the transition to highly variable wind and solar power. The price of electricity for a representative household was 28.2 Euro-cents per kWh in 2017. The price is expected to rise to 28.44 Euro-cents per kWh on January 1, 2018. By comparison, the average price of residential electricity in the USA in October 2017 was 12.84 US-cents per kWh, equivalent to 10.92 Euro-cents per kWh. The average price in Germany is 2.6 times that in the USA.


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