Tag Archives: climate change

Polar Bears, Whales, Climate Science and Exxon

Wow!

What  a day. Four different articles in Section One of the Anchorage Daily News worthy of a post.  Most days nothing catches my eye.  Not today….well it is April Fools Day.

  1. UN Court orders Japan to halt Antarctic whaling was the feature page 1 story of the day.   The court voted 12 to 4 against the Japanese claim that killing up to 1000 whales a year was a form of scientific research.
  2. Researchers use DNA to trace lineage of polar bears was also a page one story.  A University of Alaska Fairbanks study used DNA evidence to demonstrate that the Polar Bear, Black Bear and Brown Bear have specific genetic histories.   The article went on to discuss the Endangered Species Act and the use of computer models to try to place the Polar Bear on the Endangered Species List.
  3. Exxon: Climate Change Policy Highly Unlikely to Limit Fossil Fuel Sales appeared on Page 3.   This article featured arguments between Exxon scientists and Environmental scientists about the relative costs and benefits of fossil fuels to society.  Surprise…they disagree.
  4. UN report: Global warming dials up our risks made it’s appearance on page 5.  The UN released a 32-volume report on climate on Monday.   This AP article discussed the impact climate change will have on food production.  The article talked about the impacts on poor people and the impacts on fine wine and coffee too.

There you have it, four wonderful April Fools Day treats in the first five pages of  my local paper.

Article 1 – Whaling in Antarctica

Apparently, last year the UN’s highest court had a trail.  In that trial, the Japanese government claimed that killing up to 1000 whales a year in the Antarctic was being done as a form of scientific research.

The Japanese position fails the laugh test.  When a legal position is so bad that others witnessing the lawsuit might actually laugh during the argument, that position has failed the laugh test.  Trust me, no lawyer wants to present a position that fails the laugh test.  Japan just failed.

This story says  something about Japan and about the UN too. 4 judges agreed with the Japanese position?!  And it took the court months and months to come to this conclusion?  World politics is a constant source of amazement.

Article 2 – Polar Bears

When I first started reading about Polar Bears, the conventional wisdom was that they became a distinct species about 200,000 years ago.   Perhaps two years ago, early DNA studies changed that to 600,000 and then another study last year said it could be as high is 4 million years.   This study pegs the change at 1.2 million years plus or minus.  And the study acknowledges that the time clock being used is approximate.

The lead scientist, Dr. Matthew Cronin, has been a vocal critic of the Endangered Species Act.   He has made, according to the article,  the following statements about the listing of the Polar Bear as an endangered species

It seems logical that if polar bears survived previous warm, ice free periods, the could survive another.

and

This is of course speculation, but so is predicting they will not survive, as the proponents of the Endangered Species Act listing of polar bears have done.

and

I don’t think you should base endangered species on predictions and models.  It should be focused on real-world problems.

All this was music to my ears. No so for Dr Steven C. Amstrup, principal author of the report recommending the ESA listing.  He called Dr Cronin’s study incautious and misleading.  Dr. Amstrup then pointed out that the current warming cycle was happening much more rapidly than had previous cycles.

Wrong.  The world is predicted by IPCC climate scientists to begin rapid warming soon. The World has been warming for over 200 years, but most of that has been natural climate variation.  The 2007 IPCC Climate Synopses predicted immediate warming.  The world was supposed to be about .2 degree C warmer than it is right now and that warming was supposed to accelerate with time.  The IPCC was wrong.

Warming to date is well within the normal range of the last 10,000 years.  The Earth warmed at a relatively rapid rate between 1993 and 1998, which also included a climate changing volcanic eruption and a strong El Nino.  Warming stopped and has been relatively stable since 1998 as this Satellite Temperature chart demonstrates:

https://i2.wp.com/www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_February_2014_v5.png

Perhaps Dr. Amstrup is just a tiny bit defensive.   He based all his arguments on climate models that have …at least so far…been wrong.

Article 3 Exxon vs Environmentalists

This article seemed perfect to me for April 1st.   Exxon and the Environmental lobby differ on the relative value of fossil fuels.   Duh!  Talk about a firm grasp on the obvious.   The article can be summed up by a single paragraph about halfway through the article.

Exxon and the environmental groups agree that climate change is a risk and that society will take steps to reduce emissions from fossil fuels to slow the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  They differ, however, on how drastic society’s response could be, and what would cost more — severely restricting fossil fuel consumption or not doing so and allowing more carbon dioxide to build up in the atmosphere.

Exxon thinks emissions will peak in about 2030.  The peak level of emissions will be less a risk than the environmental lobby predicts.    I have no idea where the truth lies.  Vested interests are everywhere.   The article really broke no new ground and provided no new information.

Article 4 — UN Report on Climate

Our local paper ran an AP story titled UN Report: Global warming dials up our risks in today’s paper.  I cannot find the article at AP or at adn.com (The Anchorage Daily News website).  I found stories with the same title.   I also found a story with the same title written by the same AP writer, but the story was completely different.  The Anchorage Daily News has a history of editing AP articles, so I read the online AP article.   The two articles are completely different. I have never encountered this before.

It does feel a bit like an April Fools Day prank…on page 5 of the Anchorage Daily News.

My local newspaper version of the AP story is an awful story.  It focuses solely on food supply issues caused by global climate change.   I wish I could find a way to link it.   The article mixes starvation in India with fine wine and coffee in the developed world.  Global climate change will change food availability and costs according to the article.  And not in a good way.

The article talked about potential starvation in India.     Yep, as India goes from a country with a billion people to a country with 1.5 billion people, food is going to become more of an issue.   Perhaps birth control or lack thereof might be a part of India’s food supply problem.   Maybe even more important than carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere?

 

 

Advertisements

Dr. Hansen’s Dream World — part 2

It’s time to beat up on Dr. Hansen some more.  My last post only dealt with the introduction of  a new article published by Dr. Hansen and 17 other authors“Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature is the less than catchy title. This post deals with the first section of the body of the article, the section that deals with temperature.

Oh! First a sidebar…NASA (Dr. Hansen’s employer) Climate Research Funding  and Columbia University funding helped pay for the project.   I don’t mind NASA funding research, but I’d rather have them not use their own employees….it feels like we (the people of the United States) are paying them twice.

In part 1 of this discussion I mentioned that Dr. Hansen had been somewhat cavalier with his data selection.   I accused him of using regional data, and of cherry picking data.  But Dr. Hansen does so much more.  He uses old data, he misrepresents data and uses his own work as a resource.

He does all that within the first major section of the article, which is called Global Temperature and Earth’s Energy Balance.   In a subsection titled Temperature, he begins by showing temperature graphs.  The following graphs are displayed:

https://i2.wp.com/www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action

I find those charts difficult to read and I think they misrepresent the recent past.  Here are three other charts that better tell the story.   First is the East Anglia University chart that was prepared in 2010:

https://i0.wp.com/www.climatechangefacts.info/ClimateChangeImages/cru_gtc.gif

The total amount of temperature variation shown is less on the East Anglia chart than on the charts provided in the article.  A lot less.  Dr. Hansen has a rationale for using only average data, but I don’t like the choice.  The 13 year average data masks all recent data and makes details much more difficult to interpret.   It in effect spreads the El Nino data out for a long period of time.

I like the older (pre 2013) East Anglia charts.  The University changed something in 2013 that made 1998 look cooler relative to the rest of the chart.  I suspect data fudging and prefer the older charts.

Next is a 45 year chart I used in my last post.  It shows East Anglia data, and  2 satellite sets of data:

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7e/Satellite_Temperatures.png/800px-Satellite_Temperatures.png

and finally the current UAH chart:

https://i0.wp.com/www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_November_2013_v5.6.png

I like the UAH data best.  It is the most current and the most detailed.   I am fascinated by the changes in data from month to month.  The data Dr.Hansen chose makes it look like there is a steady march upward with a small pause at the end of the chart; the other charts tell a different, less ominous sounding story.

In the text that appears with the graphs, Dr. Hansen tells his story complete with multiple cites, including one to an article by an expert.   Yep, he cites himself.  He does that on 3 different occasions within the first two sub-section of the article.

A little further into the piece we get this statement:

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets began to shed ice at a rate, now several hundred cubic kilometers per year, which is continuing to accelerate.

An article by Edward. Hanna et al. is cited as the source material for the statement.   The article was published in Nature in June of 2013 and the article has this to say about Antarctica:

It remains unclear whether East Antarctica has been gaining or losing ice mass over the past 20 years, and uncertainties in ice-mass change for West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula remain large.

Parts of Antarctica are losing ice, other parts are not.  And there is lots of uncertainty. Surface ice adjacent to Antarctica is at record high levels according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

https://i2.wp.com/nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/2013/12/Figure4a-350x416.png

I am sure that if the world warms, ice will melt.  If enough melts it could become a serious problem. But Dr. Hansen overreached in this area.

The next sentence of the report (after the Greenland stuff) is as follows:

Mountain glaciers are receding rapidly all around the world  with effects on seasonal freshwater availability of major river.

Dr. Hansen provided two cite references for the Mountain glacier section.  Both were published in 2007.  That’s really old data in this field.  Recent studies blame some of the melting  not on carbon dioxide, but on particulate matter.   Air pollution turns the snow a slightly grey color, which causes it to melt faster.  It’s still a man caused problem, but the solution to the problem is to clean the air, not to eliminate carbon dioxide.

Oh…carbon black impacts melting in Greenland and the Arctic too.

The first of two cites supporting his argument for rapid melting referenced an article about the Andes; a part of the world that has not experienced significant warming.  The second site was the 2007 IPCC  Climate Change Report.   I was surprised to see this cite.  This part of the IPCC report is famous…or should I say infamous.  The Guardian ran a story on it in 2010.   The Guardian reported the following:

The UN’s climate science body has admitted that a claim made in its 2007 report – that Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035 – was unfounded.

The admission today followed a New Scientist article last week that revealed the source of the claim made in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was not peer-reviewed scientific literature – but a media interview with a scientist conducted in 1999. Several senior scientists have now said the claim was unrealistic and that the large Himalayan glaciers could not melt in a few decades.

In a statement, the IPCC said the paragraph “refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly.”

So, in 2010, the IPCC admitted the cite referenced by Dr. Hansen was flawed.  And his other cite was both regional and at an odd location.

The IPCC makes several statements  in their 2007 Synopses report.  Two are applicable here.  1) Warming has been regional  with most warming occurring over land in the Northern Hemisphere and 2) climate on a less than continental scale is subject to wild swings which makes it difficult to predict.

In finishing up the temperature section of the paper,  the article discusses the changes seen in the world. We are told the following:

Mega-heatwaves, such as those in Europe in 2003, the Moscow area in 2010, Texas and Oklahoma in 2011, Greenland in 2012, and Australia in 2013 have become more widespread with the increase demonstrably linked to global warming

The world is a big place.  I can make any argument I want to by picking my location.  If I want to sound alarmist about tropical storms, I can discuss the disastrous impacts of the Typhoon that destroyed so much of the Philippines.  If I want to sound calming, I can discuss the record low number of hurricanes  in the Atlantic during the same period.

Both events happened.  Both are regional.  And both happened in a part of the world that has not warmed significantly in the last 30 years.

The article provides two cites for the statement saying these items are demonstrably linked to global warming.  One cite provides a statistical argument for extreme weather whenever there is any warming or cooling.  It is in effect an argument that says extremes will appear whenever the average weather changes.   Climate has not been changing recently, so Dr. Hansen’s conclusion seems to be unsupported by the cite. The second site deals with one event, the 2013 drought in Australia.  No link was provided to that reference.

In Part 3, I’ll look at Dr. Hansen’s evaluations as to why climate politics has stalled and what needs to be done.  Stay tuned.

What’s a Humberto

Humberto is the first hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.  It formed off the coast of Africa yesterday.  CNN filed a report.  If Humberto had formed a few hours later it would have set a record as the latest first hurricane in Atlantic Hurricane reported history, whatever that means. After all a mere 100 years ago we didn’t even name storms.

https://i1.wp.com/s.imwx.com/dru/2013/09/f29c450f-d958-4b3b-8bb8-ac702c83e1c3_320x180.jpg

The Atlantic season runs from June through November each year and peaks on September 10th.  In a normal year we would have had 3 named hurricanes by now.  Humberto formed off the coast of Africa.  Had it formed 50 years ago we might have missed it.  It is a relatively small storm that will likely not last very long and will probably never threaten land.   It might not have been counted at all just 50 years ago.

2005 was a really bad year for hurricanes, particularly if you lived in Florida or in New Orleans and points East when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast.   Al Gore used the Katrina event as proof of global warming gloom and doom in his 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth.  He went on and on and on.   Every year since Al published his docudrama, hurricanes have been less severe than 2005.   We have now had seven and one half years of relatively mild hurricanes since the record setting season of 2005.

Why is it that bad hurricane years are equated to proof that global warming is serious and imminent while mild seasons prove nothing?     Hmmm.  One bad season, seven going on eight good ones. Maybe Mr. Gore was wrong?   Time will tell.

Sea Level — A S.W.A.G. Game

Sea level has been rising steadily since the end of the little ice age some 250 years ago.  It has been averaging about .2 mm per year or about 7 inches per century.  The rate of change has been surprisingly stable as this chart of San Francisco demonstrates:

Sea level in San Francisco has been trending downward since 1998.  This second chart of the same information makes it a bit easier to see the recent decline:

So if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily rising, and the world is a degree warmer than it was 200 years ago, why has sea level has not been rising since it peaked in 1998?

Sea level is a trailing rather than a leading indicator of climate.  And the delay can be as much as a thousand years!  The world warms and then the ice melts.  As fresh water stored over land decreases, sea level rises.  If it stays warm long enough, the deep oceans begin to warm.  As they warm, they expand and sea level rises even more.

The current rising sea level process began about 20,000 years ago as we came out of the last ice age cold cycle.  Here is a chart of that rise in sea level:

Temperature in the Holocene peaked about 10,000 years ago as this chart demonstrates:

The world is a bit cooler than it was 10,000 years ago.  Sea level has been slowly rising the entire period.  Imagine the world of 130,000 years ago when it was much warmer than it is today.

And finally we’ll look at a chart prepared of a Greenland Ice Core:

Greenland is in a cool cycle right now.  It’s a bit warmer than it was a few hundred years ago, but the current period is cold for Greenland in the last 10,000 years.  Greenland is some 2 degrees C cooler than it was just 3000 years ago.  It is worth noting that according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center Greenland has been covered in ice for 18 million years.

When I look at the last two charts I must give Mother Nature her due.  Sea level has been rising since we came out of the last ice age some 20,000 years ago.   And that’s a good thing!   We don’t want the climate we had even 15,000 years ago.  Sure we had lots more land above sea level, but much of it was frozen.   Think Greenland …then imagine the Northeastern USA and you’ll get the idea.

The IPCC appears to be ready to predict (in their 2014 Climate Report) a rise in sea level of from 10 inches to 3 feet and they attribute it to man caused events (according to a NY Times article).   I suspect wild ass guessing.

Changes in sea level we see in the next 86 years are more likely than not a function of the climate we have been having for thousands of years.  The IPCC thinks most variation seen before 1950 is natural climate variation. That’s a lot of change.  How do they know the current changes are not natural climate variation.  How can they know?

One tenet of the IPCC climate change group is that it is cheaper to try to mitigate climate change than it is to adjust to it.  I’m not so sure, I fear they underestimate nature.

  • When I look at the San Francisco chart I see a relatively steady increase since the beginning of the chart in 1850.
  • When I look at the Greenland chart, I see lots on natural climate variation.   Greenland has been lots warmer in the recent past than is today…and that was a natural event.  Will carbon dioxide make it warmer than it otherwise would be. Probably.  But it could get lots colder soon too if history is a guide.  How much of any short term  change is natural and how much is man caused?  I don’t know.
  • When I look at the last 150,000 years I’m glad we live in the warm time we live in.

When I step back and look at the big picture…a steady increase in sea level seems possible as long as we don’t start another ice age cool cycle.  It could be accelerated by an increase in melting from Greenland and Antarctica.  Greenland had an average melt year in 2013 and Antarctic Ice has been actually increasing in recent years.   Sea level has been declining since 1998.

What will the future bring?   I don’t know but I do know this:   Many of the changes in sea level that are a result of today’s weather will show up hundreds of years from now….even if the IPCC is right.

And when I look at the IPCC….I see guessing…..wild ass guessing.

400 year old plants come to life in Canadian Arctic

I just finished an article in The Atlantic.  The article is titled Jurassic Park is Real…for 400 year old Arctic Mosses. Yeah, it’s a stupid title ..but just go with it.  It turns out that mosses that have been under glaciers for 400 years come back to life as the glacier melts.   This discovery surprised the scientists doing the research.  They did not expect the glaciers to melt so rapidly and they did not expect the plants to come back to life.

As I read the article I was fascinated by the way the conventional wisdom of the day was being changed by new information….science at work.

And then I got to thinking about climate change.  These plants were on glaciers way up north in Arctic Canada, very near the Arctic Ocean.

Just 400 years ago they were growing plants, that surprised me.  I would have guessed the glacier ice in that specific location to have been around for a longer span of time.   These plants were knocked off by the end of the little ice age.   Wow.   I wonder what it was like up their during the height of the medieval warming period around a 1000 years ago?

This region appears to be changed by fairly small changes in temperature….and it may actually be  trailing rather than a leading indicator of regional climate.    The plants were destroyed near the end a cooling period and it took 250 years of warming to rediscover them.  I suspect the whole Arctic ecosystem could be a trailing rather than a leading indicator.

World temperatures peaked in 1998.  Since then there has been a very slight cooling as this UAH worldwide temperature chart demonstrates.

Ice melting in the Arctic has continued to melt ever more rapidly as 2012 was a  record year with ice being the lowest in history; if you can call a data base that started in 1979 significant.

Small data base, lots of noted change, what does it all mean?   Beats me.   How can one really know.  One thing is certain, the changes the plants saw 400 years ago were a part of natural climate variation.

Each summer our local paper includes several Arctic warming articles full of global warming gloom and doom.  How can we be sure the change we are now seeing is man caused?   I suspect widespread SWAG. I remain convinced that  too many hawkish climate scientists underestimate the power of natural climate variation!

Snow in Anchorage

Each morning I walk to the end of my driveway and collect the morning paper while coffee brews in the kitchen.  Today, May 16th, I dodged snowflakes.  Yep, it’s 35 degrees F and snowing right now at my house in South Anchorage.

Two posts ago I complained that global warming had left Alaska, at least for April.   Well May is cold too.   Really cold.   There’s still some winter snow in my yard and our normal summer planting weekend is only a bit over a week away.

The weather man is predicting more snow and a low of 27 on Saturday.   I’ve lived in Alaska since 1972 and this is by far the coldest spring I have ever seen.  No wonder I’m a global warming skeptic.

IPCC Climate Synopsis Critique – Part 1

Any frequent reader of this blog knows I think the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been practicing sloppy science for at least the last 20 years. Wild Ass Guesses are their stock and trade.   I thought I’d take a few blogs to better explain myself.

Today’ Subject: Climate Forcing

The IPCC has been writing Synopsis Reports since 1992.  The latest is nicknamed AR4 (The 4th Assessment Report).  It was published in September of 2007.  UN Scientists (and politicians too because it is the UN) are working on AR5 right now.  It should be ready for public consumption in 2014.

The IPCC says the following in bold print in the beginning of section 2.4 of the 2007 Report:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.

The term very likely is a defined term in the document which means that they are more than 90% certain but less than 95% certain.  Unfortunately most is not a defined term.  I’d guess they mean greater than 50 percent.  The document  never defines most and  is silent about all other possible reasons the world has warmed.  Man caused greenhouse gases (GHG) are the only subject discussed.

The document begins with the statement that the IPCC is 90% certain that man is responsible for more than 50% of the increase in worldwide temperatures since 1950.  The rest of the document is constructed around the assumption that man is responsible for measured changes seen in recent years.

Recent temperature increases are considered confirmation that they are correct.  Temperatures that are well within the range of normal climate variation.   OK?

Early in Chapter 2 of the 2007 Report,  a graph is presented that explains the forcing agents behind global climate change (Figure 2.4).  Here it is:

This chart drives me crazy!  LOSU means level of scientific understanding.  This chart says the IPCC knows a lot about long lived greenhouse gases (high LOSU) and nearly nothing about everything else including Aerosols and the Sun (both are low LOSU).  It also says that greenhouse gases are 22 times more important than changes in the Sun.  The math looks like this:

(1.66+.48+.16+.34)/.12= 22

Everything shown on the chart is anthropogenic except Solar Irradiance. If so, where do ice ages come from?

The IPCC states that before 1950 most warming was natural climate variation.   The AR4 document appears to be saying that variation in Solar Radiation reaching the earth surface is always a very small number and only contributes to warming, and never contributes to cooling.

Here is an Antarctic Ice Core, the Vostok Ice Core: (http://rubyelephant.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/vostok-ice-core.jpg)

Wow look at all that natural variation;  400,000 years worth.  About 12 degrees C of natural climate variation. 3 degrees warmer than 1950 and 9 degrees colder.  And even today we are within the very tight range of the last 11,000 years…a period of nearly no change.

The temperature changes in a cycle that averages about 100,000 years.  Today, and for the last 11,000 years, it has been warm.  Less warm than 130,00o years ago but much more stable. Solar Irridiance must have been much less than it is today just 20,000 years ago.

The IPCC says in the Synopses document that their Solar data is based upon the time period from 1750 to 2005.  It appears that the IPCC has taken a period of stable warming climate…and then assumed that is the only condition that can exist.  If they had started say….500 years earlier… the results would have been different.

Look at the Aerosol numbers in the chart. It could be very small or bigger than carbon dioxide….and the IPCC admits to now knowing much about it

And carbon dioxide appears to be a trailing rather than a leading indicator as this image demonstrates:

130,000 years ago, carbon stayed stable while temperature dropped.   And it lasted for 20,000 years.  About 20,000 years later temperature rose rapidly while carbon dioxide levels drifted a bit lower.  Recent data shows wild increases in carbon dioxide without the corresponding temperature rise.  A less than perfect correlation.

Other  Vostok ice core images include dust particles in the graph.  They show sudden increases in dust during some of the cooling periods.  My guess….super volcano eruptions.

The IPCC admits to lots of areas where their knowledge is weak and they admit that Aerosols could be very important (the number could be large), they have used a simplistic model of the sun and admit they don’t know much about many important subjects. And they are 90% sure man is mostly responsible.

Can you say SWAG.

Science the IPCC way.