June 7, 2012

Asian Air Pollution Warms U.S. More Than U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

There is a just-published study that provides evidence that air pollution emanating from Asia will warm the U.S. as much as or even more than all U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Such a result effectively renders all EPA and other efforts at mitigating climate change in the U.S. by limiting homegrown GHG emissions mute.

Over at the web site Master Resource, there is a detailed discussion into how the warming effect from Asian air pollution compares with the warming effect of U.S. CO2 emissions. [Spoiler Alert] It turns out, that the two are pretty much on par with one another—which leads to the uncomfortable question: If the future temperature rise in the U.S. is subject to the whims of Asian environmental and energy policy, then what sense does it make for Americans to have their energy choices regulated by efforts aimed at mitigating future temperature increases across the US—efforts which may have less of an impact on temperatures than the policies enacted across Asia?

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August 5, 2011

The Lack of Recent Warming and the State of Peer Review

Over at the Cato Institute website, WCR’s Patrick Michaels has another one of his informative Current Wisdom pieces, a place where he “reviews interesting items on global warming in the scientific literature that may not have received the media attention that they deserved, or have been misinterpreted in the popular press.” The topic this time around is the recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Robert Kaufmann and colleagues in which they conclude that one of the primary reasons that the earth has not warmed up as advertised during the past 10 -15 years is that rapidly growing sulfur emissions from China (as a result of their increased usage of coal for power generation) have acted to offset a significant proportion of the greenhouse warming.

Pat explains why this hypothesis is, well, simply wrong.

Instead, natural variability is the primary reason, along with the possibility that the climate sensitivity (i.e., how much warming will occur as atmospheric greenhouse gas levels double) is on the low side of IPCC estimates (which range from 2.0°C – 4.5°C).

Pat also details the trials and tribulations that we encountered when trying to publish this finding several years ago.

Check out all the sordid details in the article The Current Wisdom: The Lack of Recent Warming and the State of Peer Review.




May 23, 2011

Less Cooling Means Less Warming

Filed under: Aerosols, Climate Forcings

We occasionally highlight articles from the scientific literature showing that the cooling impact of aerosol emissions from human activities has been overestimated. Such findings are important because they mean that warming from greenhouse gases has been similarly overestimated.

Climate models rely on aerosol cooling to keep warming in check—otherwise they predict far more warming to occur than has been observed. So, if aerosols produce less cooling, then this means that the climate models must compensate by producing less warming from greenhouse gases than they do presently. If they don’t, they will fail to replicate the observed temperature history.

In a paper soon to appear in Geophysical Research Letters, an M.I.T. research team led by Jason Cohen finds that by including in climate models aerosol-influencing processes that take place in urban environments, the total global-average negative forcing (i.e., cooling pressure) from aerosols is significantly less than when these urban processes are not considered—as is currently the case with all climate models.

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June 10, 2009

Sulfates and Global Warming

Usually when we think of global warming, we are led to believe that it is caused primarily by increasing greenhouse gases. After all, that is what all the fuss is about in Washington DC these days. But is that entirely true?

After all there are lots of other things going on all the while. For instance, to what degree has the global temperature record in recent decades been influenced by the variability in aerosol emissions?

This question has been the subject of a series of articles in recent years by Martin Wild and colleagues which look at the impacts of (primarily sulfate) aerosols on the earth’s climate. They typically conclude that sulfate aerosols play a larger role in multi-decadal climate fluctuations than the climate models generally give them credit for. And that models’ inability to properly handle the climate aspects of aerosols “may hamper the predictive skills of these models to project near future climate evolution.”

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April 14, 2009

The Cato Climate Ad, Joe Romm, and Swanson&Tsonis

For another look at how the results of the latest work by Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonis—which show, among other things, that the earth’s climate most likely shifted into a state which could result in a slowed rate of global warming lasting for another decade or so—are impacting the processes (both scientific and political) of climate change, see this piece over at MasterResource.org.




April 8, 2009

Has the climate recently shifted?

“Has the climate recently shifted?” is the title of a just-published paper in Geophysical Research Letters by researchers Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonis from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Their examination of this topic was undoubtedly prompted by the recent behavior of global temperature which shows that the rate of warming has dramatically slowed during the past 7-12 years.

Updating a methodology that they had previously developed and used to identify several changes in the climate state that occurred during the 20th century, Swanson and Tsonis examined the temperature data from recent years to see if another state change had taken place:

Here, a new and improved means to quantify the coupling between climate modes confirms that another synchronization of these modes, followed by an increase in coupling occurred in 2001/02. This suggests that a break in the global mean temperature trend from the consistent warming over the 1976/77–2001/02 period may have occurred.

In other words, the authors think that they have identified another in a string of break points that signal a change in the general state of the earth’s climate.

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August 10, 2007

Future Air Pollution Levels and Climate Change: A Step Toward Realism

Filed under: Aerosols, Climate Forcings

Guest Commentary

Joel Schwartz
Visiting Fellow
American Enterprise Institute

What happens to future air pollution if the climate warms? Efthimios Tagaris and colleagues (Tagaris et al., 2007) have come closer than anyone before them in providing a realistic answer to this question. They predict that between 2001 and 2050, mean summer 8-hour ozone levels over the U.S. will decline by 11% to 28%, depending on the region, with an average decline of 20%. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) will decline by 9% to 32%, with an average decline of 23%.

Tagaris et al.’s results stand in marked contrast to previous studies, nearly all of which predict higher air pollution levels over the U.S. in the future (e.g., Knowlton et al. (2004), Mickley et al. (2004), and Sitch et al. (2007)).

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August 8, 2007

Clouding Asian Warming

In 1998, Balling et al. published an article in Climate Research dealing with summer and winter warming rates in several widely-used gridded temperature time series. As seen in Figure 1 below, the Balling crew (which includes several World Climate Report team members) found that winters were warming far more than summers, based on near-surface thermometer records, for a large part of northern and central Asia over the period 1946-1995. We repeated the analyses for the satellite-based lower-tropospheric temperature measurements over the period 1979-1995 and found the same red blob (wamer temperatures) over northern and central Asia. We suggested in the article that the build-up of greenhouse gases would most impact the coldest and driest air masses of the world, which just happen to be the air masses that cover northern and central Asia in the winter. Elevated greenhouse gas concentrations in warm and moist air masses would have less of an effect given the overwhelming greenhouse effect of naturally occurring water vapor. We had produced what appeared to be a smoking gun – the greenhouse “fingerprint” looked rather obvious in our analyses. Of course, finding that the coldest and driest air masses of the planet were warming slightly is seen by some as a blessing and not a great cause for concern – are residents of northern Siberia really worried about their winters being a bit warmer?


Figure 1. Seasonal difference (winter minus summer) in temperature trends (°C per decade) for the thermometer-based near-surface data over the period 1946-1995 (from Balling et al., 1998).

Well, the smoking gun has become a bit cloudier given a recent article in Nature entitled “Warming trends in Asia amplified by brown cloud solar absorption.”

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May 10, 2005

Global Warming: Something New Under the Sun?

Filed under: Aerosols, Climate Forcings, Solar

That appears to be what is happening, judging from three papers in the May 6 issue of Science.

These three papers argue that the amount of incoming solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth has increased dramatically in the last two decades. While the values vary from paper to paper, in toto the new studies suggest that the increase in solar radiation absorbed at the earth’s surface had almost 10 times as much warming power during that time as the concurrent increases in carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas. Therefore, the warming observed over the past 20 years must have little to do with changes in greenhouse gases.

Before you kill the greenhouse effect, please note that we think this is a lot of hooey. But if you accept these results, that’s where you have to go.
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April 5, 2005

Is soot, not CO2, to blame for the loss of Arctic ice?

There are three primary tools that global warming alarmists use in their arguments that anthropogenic enhancements to the world’s naturally occurring greenhouse effect are causing the climate to behave as it never has before and this will ultimately be catastrophic. They are 1) the “hockey stick” temperature reconstruction for the past 1,000 years, which purports to show that left to its own devices, the global average temperature changes very little, yet it jumps at the slightest provocation from mankind; 2) the IPCC 21st century temperature projections which show a range of possible warming by century’s end that spans 1.4 to 5.8ºC (of course, the alarmist attention is given to the high end projection); and 3) the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has been steadily declining for the past several decades and will be entirely gone in the summertime in the next 50 years as a result of rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases. With the latest publication by NASA scientists Dorothy Koch and James Hansen, the final of these arguments now joins the first two in being soundly repudiated.
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