March 24, 2006

No News is Bad News

There is not much new in a collection of articles about global warming and sea level rise in the latest issue of Science. As such, it is mostly recycled and repackaged information that the head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Donald Kennedy, can take down from New York Avenue in DC to Capitol Hill, to scare politicians into doing what it wants, which is an immediate cap on U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide.

Never mind that even a 25% reduction will have an undetectable effect on the rate of global temperature rise in the foreseeable future, and that it will cost a lot. Science crammed its March 24th issue with five articles (including commentary and editorials) devoted to melting ice and sea level rise—including one (Overpeck et al., 2006) which proclaims “[I]t is highly likely that the ice sheet changes described in this paper [leading to an—egad—global sea level a rise of 12-18 feet] could be avoided if humans were to significantly reduce emissions early in the current century” is hardly surprising.


March 21, 2006

Solar Warming?

Filed under: Climate Forcings, Solar

Just when you were starting to believe that variations in the amount of energy coming from the sun weren’t responsible for much of the observed surface warming during the past 20 years, comes along a paper in Geophysical Research Letters from two researchers at Duke University, Nicola Scafetta and Bruce West, that concludes otherwise:

We estimate that the sun contributed as much as 45–50% of the 1900–2000 global warming, and 25–35% of the 1980–2000 global warming. These results, while confirming that anthropogenic-added climate forcing might have progressively played a dominant role in climate change during the last century, also suggest that the solar impact on climate change during the same period is significantly stronger than what some theoretical models have predicted.


March 16, 2006

Global Warming Not Featured in New Hurricane Study

Filed under: Hurricanes

The latest Science magazine features a paper linking increasing sea-surface temperatures to global increases in the most severe hurricanes, but it does NOT mention global warming as the cause. Think the newspapers won’t?

Over the last few decades, hurricane climate experts have largely eschewed linkages between global warming and increases in the number or strength of hurricanes. That is, until late last summer, when a series of highly publicized papers claimed otherwise. The papers pointed out that sea-surface temperatures (SSTs), the essential fuel of hurricanes, have been increasing in the primary hurricane-development regions pretty much globally since 1970 (the start of global satellite hurricane track and intensity records). Over that time, hurricane intensities have also been on the rise. And since global warming causes SSTs to rise, that must be the cause of the recent spate of strong hurricanes.

The problem with this logic is that hurricanes require a very specific environment to flourish.

(Read more at Tech Central Station)

March 15, 2006

An Extreme View of Global Warming

Filed under: Climate Extremes

The notion that human-induced climate change will make for more extreme weather has become writ large on the public consciousness. It makes for good headlines, so surely it must be true. Well, new analyses suggest it might be false (at least for the United States).

Ken Kunkel of the Illinois State Water Survey recently presented some new results (updating some of his earlier work) and a summary of some recent papers on extreme weather in the continental United States at the Climate Specialty Group’s plenary session at the Association of American Geographers annual conference in Chicago. His analysis shed some new light on long-term extremes in heavy precipitation and heat and cold waves based on the availability of some new data.


March 3, 2006

Antarctic Ice: The Cold Truth

Filed under: Antarctic, Polar, Sea Level Rise

This week Science Magazine’s on-line SciencExpress reports that Antarctica has been losing large amounts of ice mass over the past three years, contributing to sea level rise at a rate of 0.4 ± 0.2 mm/year. This comes on the heels of a paper published by Science two weeks ago that reported that Greenland was also losing big chunks of ice and contributing to sea level rise at a rate of 0.57 mm/yr.

If this sounds like one of those repeating news stories — Coup in Haiti, Osama Sends a Tape, etc. — it is. And so is the response. Natural variability is sufficiently large on yearly and multidecadal time scales that it is simply impossible to conclude that anything other than natural variability is at play in either of these two stories.

(Read more at Tech Central Station)

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