December 14, 2011

Big Picture Items

Oftentimes, World Climate Report focuses on how elevated atmospheric levels of CO2 benefits various organisms or how observed changes in elements of climate in specific regions are not consistent with expectations from numerical climate model experiments. We could almost feature an article on climate change and hurricanes every week—these kinds of articles are found throughout the peer-reviewed scientific journals. But we don’t want to lose sight of the big picture—the term “global warming” implies that the world is indeed warming, humans are somehow responsible, and we better change our evil ways or we could inadvertently destroy of climate system. So here, we’ll review a couple of “Big Picture” articles from the recent scientific literature to see if things really are as cut and dry as they are implied.

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September 6, 2011

New Paper: Models Continue To Show Too Much Recent Warming

Filed under: Climate Changes, Volcanism

About a month or so ago, Science magazine published a paper by Susan Solomon and colleagues that concluded that aerosols in the upper atmosphere that were unaccounted for in earlier estimations, have, over the past 10 years or so, acted to offset about 0.07°C of warming that would have otherwise occurred. In other words, we shouldn’t be so hard on the climate models for failing to anticipate the dearth of warming over the past 10-15 years.

Or should we?

It turns out, that what the paper really says, is that the amount of global warming that should have occurred over the past 10-15 years (that is, if the climate models were getting things correct) is about 25% greater than the model-expected warming from the combination of increases in greenhouse gases and lower atmospheric pollution alone. Which means that the observed warming during this same time—which has been close to nil—is even harder to explain and makes the models look even worse.

But, of course, that is not at all how the results were spun to the press.

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August 5, 2011

Arctic Fires and CO2 Emissions

Filed under: Arctic, Polar

Last week, a widely-repeated pronouncement was made, that after an absence of more than 10,000 years, “wildfires have returned to the Arctic tundra” spurred by an apparent increase in lightning strikes and leading to carbon dioxide (CO2) releases from a traditional CO2 sink region. Another positive feedback to anthropogenic global warming. Oh yeah, and the fires will get worse and more widespread in the future.

But as with most dire global warming predictions, this one seems to lack grounding in reality.

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June 24, 2011

Local vs. Global Sea Level Rise

Filed under: Sea Level Rise

A recent study has attempted to use a long-term (~2,100 years), local (coastal North Carolina), determination of sea level derived from the build-up of salt marsh sediments to better characterize the behavior of global sea level (and by proxy, global temperatures) over the same multi-millennial time period. Based upon the results of this investigation, the research team led by Andrew Kemp from the University of Pennsylvania, concludes that there were four rather distinct periods of sea level rise over the past 2,100 years. Here is how they describe the first three:

Sea level was stable from at least BC 100 until AD 950. Sea level then increased for 400 y at a rate of 0.6 mm/y, followed by a further period of stable, or slightly falling, sea level that persisted until the late 19th century.

And then, and here’s the kicker (and why this paper received all the press coverage that it did, with headlines such as “Fastest Sea-Level Rise in 2,000 Years Linked to Increasing Global Temperatures“):

Since then, sea level has risen at an average rate of 2.1 mm/y, representing the steepest century-scale increase of the past two millennia. This rate was initiated between AD 1865 and 1892. Using an extended semiempirical modeling approach, we show that these sea-level changes are consistent with global temperature for at least the past millennium.

But can a paleo-record of sea level rise from basically one locality (e.g., coastal North Carolina) provide a good indication of the long-term history of global sea level rise? Obviously, the authors think so, but others are not so sure.

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May 2, 2011

Attempts to Box Us Out

We dedicated our last World Climate Report post to the findings from our just-published (and quite popular) paper in which we attempted a reconstruction of the warm season ice melt extent that has taken place across Greenland each year since 1784. Our goal was to develop a larger context in which to place the direct observations of ice melt across Greenland (available only since 1979) and to better be able to judge the reports of record high ice melt in recent years.

Our general conclusions were:

• several recent years (in particular 2007 and from preliminary observations 2010) likely had a historically high degree of surface ice melt across the Greenland ice sheet,

• on a decadal scale, there were several 10-yr periods during the 1930s through the early 1960s during which the average annual ice melt extent across Greenland was likely greater than the most recent 10 years of available data in our study (2000-2009),

• that the ice melt across Greenland was particularly low at the start of the era of satellite observations (which began in 1979), such that a sizeable portion of increasing ice melt observed by satellite-borne instruments since then could potentially be part of the natural variability about the mean state,

• that, for the next several decades at least, Greenland’s contribution to global sea level rise was likely to be modest.

But not everyone was enamored with our findings.

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A 225-year reconstruction of Greenland ice melt

Last week, the most popular article from among those recently published in the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres was one which presents a 225-yr reconstruction of the extent of ice melt across Greenland. We are happy to say that your obedient servants here at World Climate Report were part of the research team of this oft-downloaded paper.

The full citation (for those who may want to check it out) is:

Frauenfeld, O.W., P.C. Knappenberger, and P.J. Michaels, 2011. A reconstruction of annual Greenland ice melt extent, 1785-2009. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, D08104, doi: 10.1029/2010JD014918.

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April 20, 2011

Climate Coup

We are pleased to announce the latest addition to our blogroll category of “Books”—that being Climate Coup: Global Warming’s Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives—a fine publication edited by our own Dr. Patrick J. Michaels.

Climate Coup is published by the Cato Institute and is available through Cato or through Amazon.

Here is how the Cato Institute describes Climate Coup:

Global warming alarmism is invading nearly every aspect of our society. Despite convincing evidence that climate change does not portend an apocalyptic future, children are inundated with that idea in schools. Poor countries shake down rich ones in the name of climate “justice.” Lawmakers try to impose tariffs and sanctions on nations that don’t agree with their environmental views. The military uses climate change as a reason to enlarge its budget. And courts are compelling the government to restrict the amount of energy we use and the way we use it.

Climate Coup provides an antidote to this, gathering together myth-breaking insights and data from a team of experts on the pervasive influence global warming alarmism is having on health, education, law, national defense, international development, trade, and academic publishing.

”Global warming’s reach has become ubiquitous,” writes the editor, Patrick Michaels. “This book documents how far unelected bureaucracies have pushed this issue into our lives.”

Each author details the width and depth of the impact global warming alarmism is having on his or her area of expertise. The coverage includes:

-How the Constitution’s limited government restraints have been torn away, allowing global warming policy to be dictated by the president.

-The deliberate abdication of legislative authority by Congress to further concentrate regulatory power in the executive and judicial branches.

-How outrageous exaggerations of global warming fuel budget expansion within the Defense Department.

-How students are subjected to forms of climate change education that are akin to social engineering.

-How trade policies do nothing about climate change but erode market freedoms.

-Ending the myth that global warming reduces the quality of life in developing countries.

-An examination of the unrealistic and unsupported public health claims made about global warming.

Climate Coup confronts the exaggerations, opportunism, and myths about global warming that are all too pervasively altering the shape of our lives and provides the tools and insights necessary to push back against the takeover.

Climate Coup is edited by Dr. Patrick Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute. According to Cato, “Dr. Michaels is widely acknowledged by climate alarmists as today’s most effective synthesizer of the nonapocalyptic view of climate change. He is a distinguished senior fellow in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He has also authored multiple books on global warming, including Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know.”

Climate Coup includes individual chapters contributed by:

Roger Pilon
Evan Turgeon
Ross McKitrick
Ivan Eland
Sallie James
Indur M. Goklany
Robert E. Davis
Neal McCluskey

For those interested in hearing more about what Climate Coup is all about, the Cato Institute is hosting a Book Forum on Wednesday May 4, 2011. The Book Forum will be streamed on-line, and will feature speakers Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, MIT and Bob Ryan, Fellow and past president of the American Meteorological Society and meteorologist for WJLA / ABC 7 News. The discussion will be moderated by Patrick J. Michaels.

Be sure to tune in to see all the fun!




April 7, 2011

Sea Level Rise: Still Slowing Down

Back in the summer of 2009, we ran a piece titled “Sea Level Rise: An Update Shows a Slowdown” in which we showed that the much ballyhooed “faster rate of sea level rise during the satellite era” was actually slowing down.

We suggested that this observation would help the IPCC to adjudicate an issue that it raised in its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report:

“Whether the faster rate [of sea level rise] for 1993 to 2003 reflects decadal variability or an increase in the longer term trend is unclear.”

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March 23, 2011

Global Greening Continues: Did We Cause It?

You know the story. Humans are burning fossil fuels and because of their actions, the world is now warming at an unprecedented pace. This warming is stressing ecosystems throughout the world with devastating consequences to vegetation from one end of the earth to the other. If we do not act fast, we will destroy the planet and have a tough time facing our grandchildren. We can all hear it now—why didn’t you do something when there was still time to save the Earth?

Two articles have appeared recently in the scientific literature with results that may make us reconsider this entire affair. The first appears in the Journal of Geographical Sciences dealing with worldwide trends in the vigor of vegetation since the early 1980s—the results may surprise you, but they did not surprise us given all that has been written on this subject and certainly covered at World Climate Report.

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March 14, 2011

Volcanism Caused by Global Warming?

Filed under: Volcanism

We all know that if you are impacted by a flood, drought, tornado, hurricane, heat wave, wildfire, tsunami, earthquake, landslide, or anything else you can dream of, you might as well just go ahead and blame global warming—after all, if you don’t someone else most assuredly will. Whether or not you’d be correct, though, is another story entirely.

Over the past year, a number of volcanic events have been in the news from Europe to Hawaii and now the big earthquake in Japan and resultant tsunami has a lot of folks asking “can we blame all of this global warming.” Literally one day after the earthquake in Japan, The Daily Caller ran a story entitled “Some respond to Japan earthquake by pointing to global warming” starting with the sentence “Hours after a massive earthquake rattled Japan, environmental advocates connected the natural disaster to global warming. The president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Staffan Nilsson, issued a statement calling for solidarity in tackling the global warming problem.”

Another a story at Grist was titled “Today’s Tsunami: This is What Climate Change Looks Like” (but this Grist story was softened after severe critcism from the Center for Environmental Journalism). Even in far away places like Nunavut Canada, people are pushing a global warming/earthquake link.

And back when volcanoes were closing down air traffic in Europe, Reuters (April 16, 2010) carried a story worldwide entitled “Ice cap thaw may awaken Icelandic volcanoes”. Here is an excerpt from that story:

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