28 July 2009

NOAA Explains the Global Temperature "Slowdown"

An advance copy of NOAA's Annual State of the Climate Report has been made available (as low-res PDF here). In it is a box that seeks to explain why it is that global temperatures have not increased since January 1, 1999 (pp. 23-24). The report observes:
Observations indicate that global temperature rise has slowed in the last decade (Fig. 2.8a [ed.- above, caption below]). The least squares trend for January 1999 to December 2008 calculated from the HadCRUT3 dataset (Brohan et al. 2006) is +0.07±0.07°C decade–1—much less than the 0.18°C decade–1 recorded between 1979 and 2005 and the 0.2°C decade–1 expected in the next decade (IPCC; Solomon et al. 2007). This is despite a steady increase in radiative forcing as a result of human activities and has led some to question climate predictions of substantial twenty-first century warming (Lawson 2008; Carter 2008).

El Niño–Southern Oscillation is a strong driver of interannual global mean temperature variations. ENSO and non-ENSO contributions can be separated by the method of Thompson et al. (2008) (Fig. 2.8a). The trend in the ENSO-related component for 1999–2008 is +0.08±0.07°C decade–1, fully accounting for the overall observed trend. The trend after removing ENSO (the "ENSO-adjusted" trend) is 0.00°±0.05°C decade–1, implying much greater disagreement with anticipated global temperature rise.

Caption to Figure 2.8a: Monthly global mean temperature anomalies (with respect to 1961–90 climatology) since 1975, derived from the combined land and ocean temperature dataset HadCRUT3 (gray curve). (top blue curve) The global mean after the effect of ENSO that has been subtracted is also shown, along with (bottom blue curve, offset by 0.5°C) the ENSO contribution itself. Least squares linear trends in the ENSO and ENSO-removed components for 1999–2008 and their two std dev uncertainties are shown in orange.
To explore how rare an event it is to observe no warming over a period of more than a decade the authors ran a climate model (HadCM3) and compared the statistics from those runs to the observations as follows:
Ensembles with different modifications to the physical parameters of the model (within known uncertainties) (Collins et al. 2006) are performed for several of the IPCC SRES emissions scenarios (Solomon et al. 2007). Ten of these simulations have a steady long-term rate of warming between 0.15° and 0.25ºC decade–1, close to the expected rate of 0.2ºC decade–1. ENSO-adjusted warming in the three surface temperature datasets over the last 2–25 yr continually lies within the 90% range of all similar-length ENSO-adjusted temperature changes in these simulations (Fig. 2.8b). Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.
What does this mean? It means that model realizations with a long-term trend of 0.15 to 0.25 degrees warming per decade also show periods longer than a decade with no warming. How common are such periods? NOAA answers this question as well:
The 10 model simulations (a total of 700 years of simulation) possess 17 nonoverlapping decades with trends in ENSO-adjusted global mean temperature within the uncertainty range of the observed 1999–2008 trend (−0.05° to 0.05°C decade–1).
Lets see if I can sort this out probabilistically (readers please comment on the following math). In 10 x 70 years of simulation there are potentially 610 different decades (because you can't start a decade in the final 9 years of each simulation). If we subtract from the 610 the 170 decades that would begin as a member of the set of 17, as well as the 153 decades that would begin within the 9 years that precede each of the 17 decades (thus avoiding an overlap) that leaves a total of 287, allowing 278 potential decades. So 17 non-overlapping decades out of a set of 278 + 17 = 295 total decades is 5.8%. This is indeed larger than 5% but not by very much. It is safe to say, if my math is correct. of course, that even in the HadCM3 model simulations 10 years without warming is a rare event.

NOAA concludes by explaining that this discussion is moot anyway:
These results show that climate models possess internal mechanisms of variability capable of reproducing the current slowdown in global temperature rise. Other factors, such as data biases and the effect of the solar cycle (Haigh 2003), may also have contributed, although these results show that it is not essential to invoke these explanations. The simulations also produce an average increase of 2.0°C in twenty-first century global temperature, demonstrating that recent observational trends are not sufficient to discount predictions of substantial climate change and its significant and widespread impacts. Given the likelihood that internal variability contributed to the slowing of global temperature rise in the last decade, we expect that warming will resume in the next few years, consistent with predictions from near-term climate forecasts (Smith et al. 2007; Haines et al. 2009).
Until the "slowdown" reverses you can expect that people will continue to talk about it. Kudos to NOAA for being among the first to explicitly state what sort of observation would be inconsistent with model predictions -- 15 years of no warming.

53 comments:

  1. Dear Roger, this is curious. Zorita et al. (see the paper

    http://w3k.gkss.de/staff/storch/pdf/recordyears.pdf)

    said recently that the probability to have clustered by chance hot records is very low (I think they say lower than 0.001) but now NOAA says the probability of clustering of ten cool years is 5.8%? Curious.

    best

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1-rjb-

    I think that you have an apple and an orange here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's interesting. It looks as though ENSO should also have given a slight boost to global temperatures, aside form the 'radiative forcing' of CO2. Radiative forcing in climate models is one thing, but the actual effect of CO2 in a complex, chaotic, non-linear, not fully understood climate system is quite another. Some might say that solar activity has been falling since about 1980, that there is a 'solar amplfier,' and a 10 to 30 year solar lag. Also, Tsonis et al claim another 'climate shift' around 2000 and another 20 years of non-warming. Interesting times!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dr. Pielke sez:

    “Kudos to NOAA for being among the first to explicitly state what sort of observation would be inconsistent with model predictions -- 15 years of no warming.”

    Peer reviewed science sez:

    “Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade.”

    That would mean 20 years with no warming -- “inconsistent with model predictions”

    SBVOR sez:

    “My bet is we will see a continued and possibly accelerating cooling trend for considerably longer than ‘the next decade’ ”

    Domestically, we saw such a period from 1934 to 1979. And, there is no rational reason to think such a trend is any less likely today.

    To replicate that last chart, visit this NOAA page and enter the relevant parameters.

    Now, stepping back a bit, there is also no rational reason to believe that the 2,000 year long warming trend will not eventually resume. Did we have SUVs 2,000 years ago?

    Stepping back further still, we see that there is nothing even remotely unusual about current temperatures or current trends. Click here for easy access to all the cited sources pertinent to that last chart.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm a lukewarmer myself, so I'm comfortable with the warming signal being buried in climate noise for a decade, but I notice they only talk about models that go up to 2.5 degrees. It seems to me that the models that were predicting 5 degrees or even 10 degrees of warming are rendered somewhat less plausible.

    Maybe it's time to do more research on the chemical and biological consequences of elevated CO2 levels and less time on the physics.

    It is kind of hard to sustain alarm about climate change when the only serious consequence we have had to date is record crop yields!

    ReplyDelete
  6. But in the Lower Troposphere it is now twelve years without warming, not ten!

    http://digitaldiatribes.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/uahcooling200906.jpg

    And hardly cherry picking-it ends coming into an El Nino and begins coming into one. (in case you are wondering, RSS doesn't make a big difference, since they actually show more cooling since UAH started using AQUA than UAH does). How often does a twelve year interval of non warming occur in models in the LT? After all, that part of the atmosphere is generally expected to warm faster than the surface. I have to say that I think that the best argument for not rejecting alarm on this basis is that of Kyle Swanson that this may indicate a highly sensitive system, but I'm not terribly impressed by the logic.

    But IMAO the models have failed.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Svor--
    Of course there is are rational reasons to expect a cooling trend is less likely than between 1934 and 1979. Forcings due to anthropogenic warming are thought to be much larger now than bewteen 1934-1979. So, if internal variability of the planet has not changed, we should expect the probablity of decades with no warming to be lower now than back then. Also, some of the cooling at the tail end of 1934 and 1979 were associated with violent eruptions of stratospheric volcanoes in the 60s and 70s.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate."

    "Kudos to NOAA for being among the first to explicitly state what sort of observation would be inconsistent with model predictions -- 15 years of no warming."

    A very precarious explicit statement, given that the calculations with the models don't include the capability to resolve the physical phenomena and processes that are actually responsible for the natural variability.

    How has it been determined that the phenomena and processes occurring in a patch of the Pacific Ocean, a patch small relative to the total surface of the earth, can be an indicator that there exists a radiative energy imbalance for the composite of the earth's systems?

    Thanks for any assistance.

    ReplyDelete
  9. -7-Lucia,

    Do you understand that:

    1) Each molecule of CO2 has exponentially less warming effect than the one which preceded it?

    2) The planet is currently experiencing a CO2 famine?

    3) At the time of the Ordovician Ice Age -- an ice age very similar to the current ice age which began 30 million years ago and is ongoing today -- CO2 levels were about 12 times higher than today?

    See the following posts to substantiate all of the above:

    Atmospheric CO2 Over Time


    Temperatures Over Time - Part I


    Is CO2 a Primary Driver of Climate Change?


    And, again, click here to put current temperatures into proper perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  10. SVOR-
    Point of clarification: Do think cooling as seen between 1934-1979 is consistent with projections by the AOGCMs used by the IPCC? Or do you expect this cooling because you think the world is either not warming as quickly as predicted or the earth will cool?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yet the key point is that none of their models 10 years ago predicted what is happening now...

    ReplyDelete
  12. I don't think your math is right. The frequency of nonoverlapping <0 trend events is an incomplete description of the distribution of trends, because it neglects autocorrelation. I ran a quick numerical experiment with temperature as trend + pink noise (trend = .02C/yr, sd = .1C). The number of <0 episodes in a 1000yr simulation varies from 10 to 30 (roughly) as the noise correlation time varies from 20 to 5 years. Thus I don't think you can back out the p level from the # of episodes.

    The trend isn't really a good statistic to watch anyway, as it's sensitive to measurement error and the initial state. The b panel of NOAA's might be a better sort of metric, if the time axis weren't maddeningly reversed, and if it weren't normalized to 2008=0.

    ReplyDelete
  13. -12-Tom

    Well, the philosophy may be wrong, I'd agree with that. Add that to the issues model choice and so on.

    The issue is not rare event or not, just how rare, and on that we can get a range of legitimate views.

    ReplyDelete
  14. -10-Lucia,

    NOAA asserts that “[the IPCC computer model] simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more”.

    So no, to the best of my understanding, my expectation of a 30+ year cooling cycle would not be “consistent with projections by the AOGCMs used by the IPCC”.

    Nor would the prediction offered by this peer reviewed science be “consistent with projections by the AOGCMs used by the IPCC”.

    But, I may have even less confidence in the IPCC computer models than Dr. Ball does.

    In fact, I would suggest (as might Dr. Ian Plimer) that only those who adhere to a certain religious creed could even begin to have faith (a carefully chosen word) in the IPCC computer models.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Even with little or no INCREASE in warming, average temps remain higher than decades ago. The ice taken out of a freezer still melts, even if the room temperature is not increasing. Thus there are plenty of signs of continued warming.

    Meanwhile, increasing atmospheric CO2 levels are pumping more CO2 into the oceans, whose pH continues to shift accordingly, threatening corals, shellfish and plankton. Nutrient run-off and lack of ownership regimes means growing dead zones and crashing fisheries.

    We continue to drastically reshape the planet, all due to billions of economic actors who don`t "own" the consequences of their actions.

    Sure, models aren`t perfect. Do we need to build perfect models before we start acting? A model is just a model, after all; you can`t move to it if you don`t like the consequences of our ongoing real-lefe experiement on Planet Earth.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well, one thing is for certain.

    The NOAA approch (looking for simulated instance of similar periods) is statistical nonsense.

    Repreat after me.

    Post sample testing
    Post sample testing

    What was the forecast 10 year trend (including estimated confidence intervals) of these models in 1999.

    All else is flawed.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Tom Fiddaman--
    I think you could back out the p-value for the frequency of excursions in the model from the fraction of time when you had certain conditions existing. However, the error in your estiamte of the p-value depends on how much data you have. You need a lot of data before you get a decent bound on the 'p' value.

    I read the text in the report more closely now. This model only provided 1 realization for the A1B scenario in the IPCC. (I don't know if it had many B1 scenarios.) Since I only have A1B scenarios downloaded, I can't say whether it's one of the more variabile models. In anycase, I now think these 10 runs are entirely new post AR4 runs. I don't have easy access to them to be able to make any judgement about whether their climate looks earthlike or not.

    Also, I can't tell from the brief discussion how they corrected the model runs for ENSO. (I assume the computed some ENSO index based on gridded data in the model, but I'm not sure.)

    It will be interesting to read more when more information is available.

    ReplyDelete
  18. -17-lucia

    They used the ENSO-correction from the Thompson "bucket intake" sea temp study.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lucia - I agree, in principle you could back it out, just not with Roger's simple accounting, and not without a little more information about the model variability (which presumably we could get by looking at some runs).

    SBVOR - marginal CO2 forcing doesn't decline exponentially; it declines as the inverse of concentration (d/dx ln(x)=1/x).

    Gekko - you could probably find some TAR runs and see what the distribution looks like, though I'm not aware of archived sensitivity experiments (just central estimates). My guess is you'd find current temps near the low end but within the 2SD range. In any case, an after-the-fact experiment with an archived model is as good as an archived forecast if your purpose is model validation.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Roger--
    But did they use Thompson's exact correction for ENSO? Or did they use his method to come up with an equivalent ENSO adjustment in for the models, or did they use his specific correlation?

    I used his correlation in a past blog post to do a comparison to "about 2C/century" and I applied the same one to both Hadley and GISS. In principle, one should create a GISS specific one for GISS, and a model specific one for each model. But... I didn't want to go do that, so for a blog quality analysis, I just used the on in the paper, which was based on Hadley.

    Presumbably, for their discussion of the statistics to make sense they had to correct the models trends using the equivalent correction based on the relation between ENSO in the model and surface temperatures in the model. Otherwise, if the model noise is somehow different, they risk introducing a heck of a lot of noise into their computation of the ENSO adjusted trends. This could potentiall increase the spread of ENSO adjusted trends--but more likely would just decrease it less than it ought decrease given the true ENSO relationship in the model.

    ReplyDelete
  21. -20-Lucia

    Yes, good questions. i suspect we'll never know, unless the text box one day appears in the peer-reviewed literature as a stand-alone analysis.

    However, I do think that we are getting into a zone of "underdetermination"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underdetermination

    Using simple or complex methods, it is clear that the recent "slowdown" in global temps is a rare event. If it goes on for a few more years questions will continued to be raised. If it does not, they won't. If it goes on for 5 to 10 more years, underdetermined methodological questions will be less relevant.

    ReplyDelete
  22. "We continue to drastically reshape the planet, all due to billions of economic actors who don`t 'own' the consequences of their actions."

    If you think the CO2 we're introducing is "drastically reshap(ing) the planet" what about all the roads and cities we've built, all the trees we've cut down, all the farms we've planted, and all the rivers we've dammed?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Mark! I strongly agree that man has certainly been reshaping the planet, and for millenia (maybe even forestalling an ice age).

    The result has been substantial material progress, with a loss of uncosted ecosystem services, waves of species extinctions, and degraded wild resources that we have begun to address only locally, after growing wealth forced political and institutional changes.

    http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2007/09/28/too-many-or-too-few-people-does-the-market-provide-an-answer.aspx

    It is quite obvious by the energy being put into political battles about our remaining natural commons problems (climate, ocean resources, tropical forests, species, and local pollution) that people greatly value these resources, even though they don`t own them (and are not regulated effectively).

    The question is whether we will overcome probems of collective action and make significant progress on the remaining issues (via efforts that are manifested in Kuznets curves) in time to forestall near-permanent degradation and other costly losses.

    We don`t even need models to see that we need to act. The question is whether we continue to allow the privileged to continue to plunder unowned and/or "public" resources. Do we share a planet that we need to manage, or not, and if so, how?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Roger, you asked for comments on your math regarding non-overlapping decadal length subsets. I believe your math to be wrong.

    Consider a thirty year dataset. According to you, it contains three non-overlapping 10-year subsets, viz:

    1-10

    11-20

    21-30

    However, you also have:

    2-11

    12-21

    and

    3-12

    13 - 22

    and

    4 - 13

    14 - 23

    and so on. I'm sure you can see the difficulty.

    While the wording in their posting is not entirely clear, I strongly suspect that they have not thrown out decade-long flat periods simply because they do not start in years 10, 20, 30, etc.

    The result of this is that there are many, many more possible non-overlapping decade-length datasets, so the odds are much, much smaller that this current flat spell is natural.

    Thanks for all of your good work,

    w.

    ReplyDelete
  25. -24-Willis

    Thanks, and agreed. Your logic is exactly how I arrived at 295 total decades from 110 X 70 year runs.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Roger--
    I agree. We are at the point that there some methods of analyzing the difference between projections and observations say the difference is definitely statiticaly significant. These ways involve using the observed "weather noise" to estimate the uncertainty in the determinatino of the trend.

    But, if one uses variability across models, the uncertainty in larger, and we find the disagreement may have to persist a little longer. But even using the variability across models, one is beginning to have to hunt around for things like "ENSO adjusting" etc to explain negative trends. So, we are geting to the point were we must conclude events like this are fairly rare.

    Those with great confidence in models may not think the slow down unexpected enough to decide model projections are off. Still, trends this low certainly don't inspire a lot of confindence in the accuracy of models.

    ReplyDelete
  27. -15-TokyoTom sez:
    “Even with little or no INCREASE in warming, average temps remain higher than decades ago… [blah, blah, blah]”

    This post is for that comment.

    -15-TokyoTom sez:
    “Meanwhile, increasing atmospheric CO2 levels are… [blah, blah, blah]”

    Shouldn’t we pat ourselves on our backs for restoring CO2 levels to something just a tiny bit closer to “normal” levels?

    -15-TokyoTom sez:
    “We continue to drastically reshape the planet… [blah, blah, blah]”

    This post is for that comment.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Climate modelers are not usually interested in short term predictions, which is confusing to a Public that hears about 'warming' then sees a few years of climate variability, so fall prey to climate change "skeptics".

    That's why I like the UK's Met Office decision to start doing short term, decade length predictions, using actual, detailed "starting conditions" now that the oceans are measured much better (satellite, buoys). El Nino, NAO, things like that fall out of this shortterm prediction.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6939347.stm
    With supercomputers now hitting petaflops (1000 teraflops) and climate system measurements getting better all the time, these 10 year predictions will be good for people to get more confidence in climate science.

    ReplyDelete
  29. -28-L.F.Stone,

    When your petaflop computers can accurately forecast my local weather 6 hours in advance, let me know.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have been rained on around here when your computers -- just 6 hours earlier -- assured me there was literally 0% chance of rain in my area.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people are gullible enough to place their faith in hideously incomplete computer programs as opposed to observational data.

    Is that what the iPod generation has come to?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Yes Tom-how? What is your plan? I've asked you before-what is your scheme to save the world? No vague answers now! Be specific!

    ReplyDelete
  31. S3VOR
    Do you watch Cable Access TV for your weather predictions ? They probably just make stuff up.
    Try Weather.com or NOAA. I have no problems with 6 hour weather predictions.

    Do you have any good observational data for the Earth's climate a century from now ?

    I guess you're not gullible enough to ever place your "faith" in the new Boeing Dreamliner airplanes:
    Cray Supercomputers Play Key Role in Designing Boeing 787 Dreamliner
    800,000 Simulation Hours Helped Create Design For Highly Successful Commercial Aircraft

    The fact that they had to redesign the wing/fuselage connection slightly shows that the computer program was 'hideously incomplete' - oh no! It wasn't perfect the first time!

    But you can make your "observations" after they start flying... and you can make your "observations" of Earths climate in 2100, 91 years from now.

    BTW, you are missing the point of the Vostok temperature records: it doesn't matter if the Eemian was warmer than the Holocene, and it doesn't matter if the end of the Permian (251 million years ago, during the massive die-off) was 10 to 30 deg C warmer than today:
    http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2005/permian.shtml
    YES, the climate varies, and YES, man has only affected it recently. So what ?
    The point is, we don't want to knock the Climate out of that nice band in which agriculture, and the Civilization which it has enabled, developed:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Holocene_Temperature_Variations.png
    See that thick black line ? That's the Global temperature during the Holocene (Vostok data is the blue line, a regional temperature proxy).
    That black line never went above 0.5 deg C. It has now already gone above 0.6 deg C (2005), and the projections are a possible 2 to 6 deg C by the end of this century. That's literally 'way off the chart'.
    A few small bands of humans survived by hunting and gathering in the Eemian - so what, that doesn't mean modern Civilization would.

    ReplyDelete
  32. SBVOR, how very nice to meet you, too.

    I`m glad that despite all of the "blah, blah, blahs" you threw in there, you found my points worth engaging.

    Can I make a few points and ask you a few questions in return?

    1. I pointed out that, even with some slight apparent cooling of average temps over the past decade, it remains significantly warmer than the 70s and 80s, so that significant melting and other climate changes are still occurring.

    Do you disagree? Sorry, but your linked post doesn`t address this at all, but simply provides records for temps up to 400,000 years ago.

    2. I noted that increasing atmospheric CO2 levels are pumping more COw2 into the oceans, changing pH levels and stressing ocean life and ecosytems.

    Do you disagree? Sorry, but your linked post, with records for atmospheric levels of CO2 reaching back to 600 million years is of NO relevance to what rapidly escalating CO levels are doing NOW (and the foreseeable future) to ecosystems and life that have evolved for lower levels.

    3. I note that your linked post refers to how the rise of photosynthetic organisms greatly altered the environment, making it hostile to anaerobic bacteria.

    It is very curious that you use this to imply not only (a) that mankind has no reason to value any of the rest of creation that our various activities imperil, but (b) that those who care about biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are the real threat to mankind, not what we are doing to our own nest.

    On point (a), are you suggesting that the relatively low value you apparently place on the rest of nature (as we have known it during the Holocene) is more important than the values that other peole have?

    On point (b) isn`t the real question simply how society should best take into account differing perceptions of risk and value, keeping in mind that heavy governmental interference may be unduly costly, even counterproductive?

    Is this the part of the discussion that you find least important, and most tedious? If so, perhaps you might leave it for others.

    4. I noted that man continues to drastically alter the planet and ecosystems, due to continuing externalities (mainly due to an absence of clear and enforceable private or community property rights).

    Do you disagree? Again, your linked post is simply inapropos, even as it notes that life was very diverse millions of years ago.

    This, of course, entirely begs the question - the diversity was of something ELSE than what we have right now. Is it your preference that we swap present life for what existed 450 million years ago?

    5. In short, your multi-linked post provided, on top of the "blah, blah, blah" ad homs, a tour of data that are interesting, but of no relevance to the points I raised.

    Non sequiturs served with poo, in other words.

    I`m interested in a conversation; are you?

    ReplyDelete
  33. IF Stone
    Either you know nothing at all about computer modeling or you are obfuscating. Those stress analysis and fluid flow models for aircraft have been tested and validated against theory and experiment before they are relied upon. And for stress analysis they can be very close to 100% accurate. But even that isn't good enough - the constant mantra in engineering design is that you never trust either the code or the user of the code. So there are independent tests by theory and experiment for each new project, then a design review of the results then another design review then a 3rd party review, then flight tests with no passengers. Do you see the difference in approaches? Climate models have none of that! To trust an unvalidated computer model which has 20 adjustable parameters, each with wild margins of error, and which gives wildly varying outputs, most of which do not even follow the known observations just would not happen in engineering. That is blind faith, not science.

    ReplyDelete
  34. ref: L.F Stone: from your own link:

    "A small number of records, not used in this study, have been interpreted as indicating much larger temperature variation during the Holocene (5+ °C) than the records represented here. In many cases, critics have interpreted these changes to reflect seasonal, rather than annual variations in temperature, or very unusual local changes. However, the possibility exists that the current reconstruction underestimates long-term variability."

    Now, if the variability is larger than we have previously thought,why should we worry?

    ReplyDelete
  35. -32-TokyoTom,

    1) I notice you purport to be an “enviro lawyer”. That explains your line of “reasoning” (and, in my view, your financial motivation).

    2) The ice has been melting for the last 18 to 20 thousand years. So what? Furthermore, the only reason we have any year round ice anywhere on this planet is because we are currently experiencing one of the three coldest ice ages in the last 600 million years. The “normal” condition -- for 80% of the last 1 billion years -- is for there to be no year round ice anywhere. Have you no pity for those organisms which evolved for those conditions?

    3) I thoroughly addressed all your points in my previous comment and the associated links. The root of your argument is that things are changing and we must, at any cost, make a futile effort to create -- for the first time in the history of the universe -- a static environmental condition. That is why I suggest you read this link first and then reexamine my previous comment and all associated links.

    While you’re at it, watch the late great George Carlin address your “concerns”.

    4) If you, once again, simply repeat the same line of “reasoning”, I will not take the bait.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I.F. Stone,

    1) I use Weather.com (the hour by hour forecast).

    2) Quoting your own link:

    “Since there is no scientific consensus on how to reconstruct global temperature variations during the Holocene, the average shown here should be understood as only a rough, quasi-global approximation to the temperature history of the Holocene.”

    In this regard, I side with Roger’s father when he asserts:

    “The needed focus for the study of climate change and variability is on the regional and local scales.”

    Vostok, in my view, is one of the very few places on the planet where we can reasonably assess current conditions and trends over an appropriate time scale.

    In my view, any attempt to assess and/or compare global temperatures any further back than 1979 (when the NASA satellites started collecting data) has very little value -- except to propagandists (noting that I.F. Stone was a “journalist” and, according to the Venona Cables, quite possibly a Soviet agent).

    ReplyDelete
  37. jgdes:
    Are you sure you know what dozens of climate science institutions have been doing with their climate models for the last 30 years ?

    Did you know about this study ?
    http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2009/bolling-allerod-warming.jsp
    Even with the continents in different places and the atmosphere very different, the models were very insightful.

    Did you know climate models are used to do 'hindcasts' all the time, to see how well they can handle known starting conditions and how these progressed ?
    http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/3/pdf/i1520-0477-89-3-303.pdf

    "an unvalidated computer model" ? The models are constantly improved, and tested with known climate data: now that supercomputers can reach petaflops, they have much better spatial and temporal resolution than in the 1980's. The 'parametrization' you speak of was a modeling shortcut for things like clouds at different heights back when supercomputers were like today's PCs; they are now modeled based on first principles. And every year, they are checked against another year of new data.

    Did you know the Met Office Hadley Center is now making decadal predictions so the public can get quicker feedback from these GCM models ?
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2007/pr20070810.html
    2014 is likely to be 0.3 deg C warmer than 2004: if not, feel free to laugh and criticize.

    Did you know the climate models are evaluated all the time for their accuracy and predictive powers ?
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter8.pdf

    It's not like engineers understand computer models better: they just get to build stuff and see that the wings don't connect to the fuselage correctly...
    Climate modelers don't get to build planets to ruin. Or wait till 2100 and see if we really are screwed before they suggest we do something...

    ReplyDelete
  38. SBVOR:
    Weather.com can't forecast rain correctly for your location 6 hours in advance ? Where do you live, on a cargo ship ?

    Perhaps the Holocene was not as stable as the temperature proxies have suggested: perhaps the global temperature was outside of the 0.5 deg C band when the Mayan Civilization was destroyed by prolonged drought:
    http://tinyurl.com/nufj8m
    That would be nice to know; maybe some old civilizations wouldn't have collapsed if the Holocene were as stable as many thought. Oh, good.

    I'm perfectly willing to evaluate new studies of the Holocene climate in which agriculture and Civilization developed, and how the extremely rapid CO2 dumping into the atmosphere might or might not blow that climate away.

    But keep in mind that the expected human-caused changes of 2 to 6 deg C is *globally* - some regions will be much, much warmer (like the Arctic):
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/global_warming_update5.php

    I think the early satellites had poor instrumentation and fast decaying orbits: I don't trust any measurements before 2004.

    I hope, when worldwide agriculture collapses, that Vostok is still the coldest place on Earth. That will be reassuring.

    I think I will just sit around and do nothing until Science is completed. I hear they are having problems with the theory of gravity these days, too:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitation#Anomalies_and_discrepancies

    As for I.F. Stone being a Soviet agent, that's just one of those urban legends like Bush's grandfather helping Hitler:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar

    ReplyDelete
  39. SBVOR,

    1. I note that you contine to prefer ad homs to addressing arguments.

    Of what relevance are my "motivations" to my point that even with the recent temperature stabilization/slight cooling, it is a FACT that temperatures remain relatively warmer, and that melting and climate changes resulting from higher temps continue apace?

    None, of course. Thanks for visiting my profile, even though you rather clearly misunderstood it. I do not practice environmental law, though I`ve done alot of work on oil and gas projects.

    I`m your haste to plug your ears you somehow missed that "enviro" modifies the type of libertarian I consider myself to be; namely, one who cares about property rights and the roots of resource problems (which are merely disputes between people over preferences regarding resources that are not shepherded via property rights). That is, I am not at all in favor of typical regulatory approaches to most environmental problems. Ever hear of ""free market" environmentalism?

    2. Again, this does not address my point about ocean pH changes.

    But to address your arguments, I admit that I selfishly care more about mankind and the life we presently share the planet with than that which prevailed under much warmer conditions 600 million years ago.

    3. You`ve got problems distinguishing the people you respond to with the versions that are already in your head. NOWHERE have I argued that we must, at any cost, make the obviously futile attempt to maintain the environment in a static position.

    I`ve already read all of your links. As I said, they are simply irrelvant to the points I`ve made. Instead of throwing a bunch of facts at arguments, how about trying to simply trying to address what I say?

    ReplyDelete
  40. re: #37

    "Did you know climate models are used to do 'hindcasts' all the time, to see how well they can handle known starting conditions and how these progressed ?"

    Hindcasts don't count as validation; never have, never will.

    "The 'parametrization' you speak of was a modeling shortcut for things like clouds at different heights back when supercomputers were like today's PCs; they are now modeled based on first principles."

    Nope, still parameterizations, especially clouds. Clouds will be parameterized for decades to come. As an example, what are the controlling parameters for initiation of nucleation of raindrops? What is the net evaporation rate from a forest canopy and the ground beneath it? And, clouds have been known for over at least a 100 years to be one of the most important unknowns with respect to interaction with increasing temperatures.

    When the real-world aspects of the problem are factored in, many (almost all), of the 'first principles' get bitten by reality. Let's take the case of radiative energy transport in a participating medium containing aerosols and solid particulate matter, as an example. Clouds, too; see above.

    The more complex the real physical phenomena and processes, the more necessary parameterizations become. But at the same time, the numerical values for the parameters used in these simple algebraic approaches become extremely fuzzy numbers. The effects of the uncertainties in these numerical values should be propagated through the calculational models as a function of time. They have never been correctly treated. The real uncertainty bounds from the AOLBGCMs using the what-ifs / scenarios / EWAGs very likely grow exponentially with time.

    Some aspects of the AOLBGCMs are based on models of first principles. The truly important physical phenomena and processes relative to climate change, however, are all represented by heuristic / ad hoc parameterizations. Check especially, the feedbacks. Can you name a single physical phenomena or process that is based on strict and complete first principles unmodified by any aspects for application to climate change calculations?

    And then there are the numerical solution methods. That's where all the numbers come from after all. Are any of the first principles of numerical analysis / solution methods applied to the discrete approximations to the continuous equations?

    And finally, there is the computer software itself. Are any of the first principles of software engineering applied to any of the software?

    There is nothing wrong with using models of first principles; it's done all the time in both Science and engineering. There is something wrong with insisting that the climate models are based on first principles. We see that all the time, and it's wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Andrew, thanks for your questions. You can earn a response by being a little more specific and a little less hysterical.

    Perhaps a good start might be to try, like in ordinary conversation, to address yourself specifically to what others (in this case me, if you`re interested) have to say. SBVOR has left you an opening.

    I must say that I`m a bit disappoined that Rob Bradley`s place (MasterResource) hasn`t helped your discussion skills, but then again, it`s hard to have a real discussion in an echo chamber. (As you know, I would have been happy to engage you there, but Rob banned me - right in the middle of discussions with Chip Knappenberger, Marlo Lewis andTom Tanton.)

    ReplyDelete
  42. -39-TokyoTom,

    1) Since you continue to harp on the one area I have not yet specifically addressed (ocean acidification) I will first note that the oceans are currently on the alkaline side of neutral and are expected to remain substantially alkaline well beyond 2100.

    I will then offer readers the views of a scientist as an antidote to the uninformed histrionics of an eco-lawyer who is obviously terrified of anything which represents “change” of any sort:

    “Recall that the oceans' pH was around 8.17 in 1800, now it is around 8.10. The figure is decreasing as we are adding carbon dioxide (or carbonic acid, if you allow me to combine it with water) to the system. It will stay above 7.8 at least until 2100.

    Related commercial break: Prof Roy Spencer: More CO2, please

    The neutral value of pH is 7.0 and it is the average optimal pH for living creatures. While Coke has around 2.5 :-), fish tend to tolerate pH between 5.0 and 9.0. The readers with an aquarium know much more. Some of the fish prefer the lower values and some of them prefer the higher values. You should not be surprised that I think that 7.0 might be the optimal "democratic" value of pH. We are helping the oceans to get closer to the optimal value but we are still extremely far from it.

    However, the environmentalist conclusion is very different. The pH is changing and everything that is changing is always changing in the bad direction. By definition, a change is bad. That's the main reason why the tautology known as ‘climate change’ should also become a reason for concern, according to some people. But is the decrease of the pH a bad thing?”


    Click here to read the rest.

    2) Despite your unsubstantiated protestations to the contrary, I thoroughly addressed all your other points in my previous comments and the associated links.

    The root of your argument is -- still -- that things are changing and we must, yes -- at any cost, make a futile effort to create -- for the first time in the history of the universe -- a static environmental condition.

    That is why I suggest you read this link first and then reexamine my previous comments and all associated links.

    While you’re at it -- again -- watch the late great George Carlin address your “concerns”.

    ReplyDelete
  43. -38-I.F. Stone,

    I guess we need to create a new category of “deniers” -- those who, subsequent to the 1995 to 1997 declassification of the Venona Cables, continue to deny the complicity of many among the American Left with Stalin.

    You see, on this question, even PBS has finally thrown in the towel.

    Those who are not among the blind “denier” camp can read the book (one of many) and examine the documents and decide for themselves whether I.F. Stone was both a “journalist” and a Soviet agent or not.

    But, to employ “The Myth of Moral Equivalence” (between Bush & Stone) in a futile attempt to blindly dismiss these allegations as merely “one of those urban legends” is the very height of willfully blind ignorance (the very most common trait among Leftists).

    ReplyDelete
  44. Tom-not trying to sound "hysterical". Okay, so here is my more specific question:

    You believe that AGW is an issue worth addressing (regardless of just how big a deal it is? I can't tell) but, if I understand you correctly, you don't support such things as Capn'Trade or a Carbon Tax. So, given that you think that reducing emissions is a worthwhile goal, what policies or changes do you suggest be put into place to result in such a reduction?

    ReplyDelete
  45. Andrew, I might be the only libertarian here, but how about (1) consumers demanding (and firms providing) more information on (a) the GHG intensity of various products and (b) on the GHGs generated by public and private cos, and (2) those concerned with the issue using moral suasion?

    I have a number of posts at my blog that summarize libertarian proposals on climate; if you need help, send me an email I`d be happy to steer you to them.

    ReplyDelete
  46. "It is quite obvious by the energy being put into political battles about our remaining natural commons problems (climate...) that people greatly value these resources,..."

    I think the most obvious conclusion from the "energy" put into political battles regarding climate change is just how screwed up are virtually everyone's priorities.

    "We don`t even need models to see that we need to act."

    I think the real world data (e.g., satellite lower tropospheric temperature trends since satellites started measuring temperature) show that temperatures are increasing more slowly than predicted.

    "The question is whether we continue to allow the privileged to continue to plunder unowned and/or 'public' resources."

    Your use of the word "privileged" reminds me of an old Henny Youngman joke (possibly stolen):

    "How's your wife?"

    "Compared to what?"

    When you say "privileged," I'm certain you're not comparing current generations with future generations. Future generations are likely to be far wealthier and healthier.

    "Do we share a planet that we need to manage, or not,..."

    Well, it would depend on the particular circumstance, but the general answer would be, "not."

    If you're talking about global thermonuclear war, then yes, we do share a planet that we ought not to leave as smoldering, radioactive rubble.

    But if you’re talking about climate change, I don’t agree that we need to “manage” the earth to attempt to provide a certain temperature in 2050 or 2100. Such attempts are foolish wastes of resources that could be much better spent on other things.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Mark, I understand where you are coming from on climate, but my comments were addressed at a wide arrange of commons problems, and not only climate.

    It is very clear that we have a number of commons problems that we would do well to focus on solving, mainly by strengthening and extending property rights regimes and, in many cases, ending ruinous "public" ownership regimes that lie at the root of kleptocracy abroad and bureaucratic mismanagement and ongoing interest-group wars at home.

    Climate differs mainly in that it is probably the most difficult problem to address and since so many rent-seekers are entangled in it.

    ReplyDelete
  48. SBVOR, you persist in saying that by throwing a bunch of links at me, you`ve addressed these points, but since I must be stupid, I can`t figure it out. Also, since I`m a lawyer (and radical "hystrionic" "enviro" to boot) I`d rather like to keep our discussion, such as it is, actually on the thread. That way other people have less difficulty in seeing that you must clearly must be right, rather than just taking your word for it.

    Here again are those points:

    1. I pointed out that, even with some slight apparent cooling of average temps over the past decade, it remains significantly warmer than the 70s and 80s, so that significant melting and other climate changes are still occurring.

    Do you disagree? You have not responded.

    2. I noted that increasing atmospheric CO2 levels are pumping more CO2 into the oceans, changing pH levels and stressing ocean life and ecosystems.

    Do you disagree? You have finally responded, with an unsupported ad hom accusation of "uninformed hystrionics"? Here`s support for my view; I look forward to your proof that I`m hystrionic and uninformed:

    http://www.google.co.jp/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4RNWN_enJP213JP214&q=ocean+acidification+coral+reefs+plankton+shellfish&btnG=Search

    I see you`ve finally thrown out a quote by Roy Spencer, who has no biological expertise but has nevertheless acknowledges that we have and continue to significantly alter ocean pH in a relatively short period of time. He further graces us with his opinion that the changes, which will continue for the foreseeable future, will bring us to an "optimal "democratic" value of pH".

    Spencer simply does not address the costs of these changes on ecosystems (and sources of livelihood) that humans now values; the implicit message is that Spencer prefers an unknown future over current ecosystems, and all those billions of people who like things perfectly well as they are now can just go rot: they`re merely radical elitist enviros, after all.

    3. I noted that man continues to drastically alter the planet and ecosystems (atompshere, oceans, tropical forests, elsewhere), due to continuing externalities (mainly due to an absence of clear and enforceable private or community property rights).

    Do you disagree? You have not responded, except to proffer links that confirm that life was very diverse millions of years ago. By implication, you are acknowledging that higher atmospheric CO2 IS changing the biosphere significantly. It appears to be your preference that we swap present life for what existed 450 million years ago, and that those who disagree with you somehow elite, hysterical radicals.

    Your linked post, with records for atmospheric levels of CO2 reaching back to 600 million years is of NO relevance to what rapidly escalating CO levels are doing NOW (and the foreseeable future) to ecosystems and life that have evolved for lower levels.

    4. You have not responded to these questions:

    Are you suggesting that the relatively low value you apparently place on the rest of nature (as we have known it during the Holocene) is more important than the values that other people have?

    Isn`t the real question simply how society should best take into account differing perceptions of risk and value, keeping in mind that heavy governmental interference may be unduly costly, even counterproductive?

    ReplyDelete
  49. SBVOR (cont.):

    5. Again, you repeat an unsupported strawman for my position: "The root of your argument is -- still -- that things are changing and we must, yes -- at any cost, make a futile effort to create -- for the first time in the history of the universe -- a static environmental condition."

    This is clearly wrong. First, my premise is that things are changing - oceans (pH, fisheries like cod, Chesapeake oysters, West Coast salmon, bluefin tuna), atmosphere/climate & other commons (tropical forests) - and man very clearly is either wholly or partly responsible. Second, my point is that without solving institutional problems - mainly stemming from the lack of clear and enforceable property rights, these problems will continue to worsen, for the benefit or some but at the cost of others.

    Further, I have clearly demonstrated a sensitivity to cost of redressing institutional failure. You, on the other hand, seem to prefer that magically thinking that ignoring problems makes them costless.

    "eco-lawyer who is obviously terrified of anything which represents “change” of any sort"

    More foaming, unsubstantiated rhetoric. I`m not "terrified" of any sort of change; this is nothing more than projection on your part. And as said, I`m a lawyer, but not an eco-lawyer; oil & gas and finance are more like it.

    It might be tough, but here`s hoping you can both calm down and trouble to get your facts straight. As for responding on point to comments, this appears to be beyond your ability to focus.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Tom-that's a massive improvement over our prior discussions. I would approve of that idea in particular-But the problem as I see it is that those who care about the issue seem more interested in communicating that information through price controls-how might one convince them that it would be better to get companies to label products that way? The problem as I see it is that those who are concerned are at the moment to small a consumer power base to generate much interest among producers-they are a "niche market" and there may be money in getting them to buy (more expensive) "low carbon" products, but my guess is that at present, the cost of communicating the information is considered by them to be greater than the increased revenue from getting at that market.

    You know, I think the very first policy that should be enacted is a repeal of all energy subsidies, especially ethanol, since it actually has higher emissions over its life cycle. It would also inject some much needed reality into the "renewables" debate (uneconomical energy sources would be revealed for the naked emperors they are).

    ReplyDelete
  51. "Climate differs mainly in that it is probably the most difficult problem to address and since so many rent-seekers are entangled in it."

    I disagree. Climate differs mainly because climate is a situation in which people in the distant future (50-100+ years) will theoretically be harmed. And those people are almost certain to be much more "privileged," in terms of wealth and healthy life expectancy, than we are today.

    So those who advocate sacrifice to address climate change are advocating that the less-well-off should sacrifice for hypothetical benefit of the more-well-off of the distant future. That's how climate change is different from most environmental problems.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Mark, as an aside, many are benefitting and while others are being harmed - facing costs of adaptation - from climate change right now.

    I don`t entirely disagree w/ you, but what you describe is not funadamentally different from the time shift manifested with other externality problems, where some shift costs to a less clearly identified set of others - at least until the "others" notice and get their act together enough to put a stop to it (Coase, transaction costs, Kuznets curves etc.)

    "So those who advocate sacrifice to address climate change are advocating that the less-well-off should sacrifice for hypothetical benefit of the more-well-off of the distant future."

    While I agree that the time issue is more keen for climate change (as we are now experiencing the effects of changes made over decades/centuries before us), I`d venture a guess that very few who want to do something about climate perceive this as you. Rather they are weighing their own preferences for their own future and that of their descendants.

    Further, your argument is itself perverse; rather than recognizing that knowledge and technological progress are intimately tied to decisions to act to maximize current preferences with regard to externalities, you implicitly suggest that we enthusiastically export all problems to the future, where our children can magically solve them. This ignores that applying the elbow grease of current concerns to (create institutions to) reduce externalities is usually itself a wealth-creating activity, which is why we have property rights, etc., etc.

    There is of course a present-value cost-benefit analysis involved in these individual decisions, but we can hardly blithely assert that our children will be better off (or that we owe it to them) if we wipe out the last of bluefin tuna, ocean fisheries, coral reefs, mangroves, tropical forests, create massive dead zones, etc. Like it or not, we have to face and struggle with the question of appropriate institutions for addressing these and other issues.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Andrew, "a massive improvement over our prior discussions"? Give me a break; our previous discussions at MasterResource before Rob Bradley banned me barely broached what appropriate policy should be.

    As to purely voluntary activities, they are clearly growing, as consumers are demanding more information and some leaner and more nimble firms see market (and cost) advantages by leveraging their smaller footprint. But the public policy issues are whether, in the case of an open-access commons, such voluntary actions will ever be of a sufficient scale in time to be significant, and whether the likely costs of particular policy course exceed their likely benefits.

    "the very first policy that should be enacted is a repeal of all energy subsidies,"

    Good point, though I note that you`re venturing on libertarian thin ice (common ground with me) if you ever suggest that people ought to pressure government to do ANYTHING, including regulate less.

    I also note that this was pretty much the same point I was arguing with Tom Tanton about coal (and its pollute-free pass under the CAA for grand-fathered facilities and lack of liability for health damages generally) when Rob rather uncermoniously pulled the plug on me (criticism of coal being verboten on his blog).

    You can find a few blog posts where I get my not-sufficiently-libertarian hands dirty on discussing climate policy here: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/search.aspx?q=libertarian+climate

    ReplyDelete