July 13, 2012

The Heat Was On—Before Urbanization and Greenhouse Gases

Sure is hot out! And what better time for a paper to appear in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology describing the construction of the “all-time” records for various types of weather extremes for each of the 50 United States plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The paper details efforts of the U.S. State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) established by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and led by Dr. Karsten Shein. Basically, the SCEC dusted off old records and found other new sources. So now we have “new and improved” data (available here) for the value, the date and the location of the all-time high and low temperature, greatest 24-hr precipitation, greatest 24-hr snowfall and greatest snowdepth for 50 states and two territories. The statewide record extremes have been updated through 2011 and are subject to continuous updating.

This paper is an interesting read for those who perseverate on climate history and how it is constructed from a variety of observations both made from “official” (federal) observing stations as well as those deemed reliable from “non-official” observations (such as 12-oz soda bottles or credible “amateur” observer accounts). The new effort resulted in “the revision of 40 percent of the values” contained in the old dataset at NCDC and “underscored both the necessity of manual quality assurance methods as well as the importance of continued climate monitoring and data rescue activities to ensure that potential record values are not overlooked.”

It also is useful for putting the recent heat wave in perspective. Despite the 24/7 caterwauling, only two new state records—South Carolina and Georgia—are currently under investigation. And, looking carefully at Shein et al. dataset, there appears to be a remarkable lack of all-time records in recent years. This is particularly striking given the increasing urbanization of the U.S. and the consequent “non climatic” warming that creeps into previously pristine records. Everything else being equal—and with no warming from increased greenhouse gases—most statewide records should be in or near big cities. But they aren’t.


June 22, 2012

Not So Hot in East China

While the IPCC is big on the idea that the warmth of the late 20th and early 21st century in the Northern Hemisphere is unprecedented in recent centuries, apparently that finding does not apply universally over longer timescales.

According to the Summary of Policymakers from the IPCC Fourth Assessmnet Report:

Average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the second half of the 20th century were very likely higher than during any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely the highest in at least the past 1,300 years.

This is basically a verbal description of the “hockeystick”-like temperature progression of the past millennia or so.

How that representation came to be and just how scientifically accurate it is a story unto itself, and one which continues to be assessed and reassessed over at the Climate Audit website. An interesting discussion has been taking place there as to yet another methodological flaw in the mathematics involved in multiproxy reconstructions. And another oft-discussed issue there is the very selective use of only particular proxy temperature records which are combined to produce the now-too-familiar hockeystick shape.

One proxy record that most definitely was not included in the assembly of the hockeystick is a just-published proxy reconstruction of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from the East China Sea.


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.


September 16, 2011

Riding to the Defense of Climate Models

As the observed rate of rise in the global average temperature continues to be much less than climate models project, there are a growing number of knights in shining armor, riding to the rescue of the damsel in distress (the damsel, of course, being the climate models). The rescue attempt generally employs two strategies, namely that 1) there is a bunch of stuff that has going on that the models couldn’t possibly have known about (so it is unfair to hold this against them), and 2) the climate models aren’t really doing that badly anyway.


July 25, 2011

2011 Temperature Watch

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Halfway through 2011, the year-to-date (January-June) average temperature for the United States is just 0.15°F above the long-term (20th century) average. Although it is certainly too soon to say for sure (especially considering that a good portion of the country has been stuck in an extended heat wave), there is a good case to be made that when the final numbers are in at the end of December, that 2011 will go down as another in a recent string (which now stands at three years and counting) of rather unremarkable years when it comes to the national annual average temperature. The current run of near-normal years is growing evidence that the collection of relatively warm years experienced in the U.S. from 1998-2007 neither represented a new climate state in the U.S. nor a sustained uptick in the rate of warming which could be reliably extrapolated into the future.

Over at MasterResource.org, Chip Knappenberger elucidates why this is the case—catching us up on the temperatures thus far in 2011 and reviewing the recent behavior of the U.S. annual average temperature record.

The bottom line is presented in Figure 1 (below). Figure 1 includes a projection of the 2011 final end-of-the-year temperature placed in the context of the full U.S. temperature history from 1895-2010, and shows that the warm period from 1998-2007 in the United States appears to be over.

Figure 1. Projected value for the U.S. annual temperature for 2011 based on data for the first six months of the year. The blue dot at the end is the current year-to-date (January through June) temperature anomaly. The grey bar represents the region where there is about a 2/3rds chance that the 2011 annual temperature will end up being. The hash marks above and below the grey bar indicate the region where there is about a 95% chance the 2011 annual temperature will ultimately fall, and the vertical line represent the limits of the 2011 annual temperature, based on observations from 1895-2010. The elevated temperatures from 1998-2007 are circled—this warm period now seems to be over. (Data source: U.S. National Climatic Data Center)

Knappenberger concludes:

“If 2011 ultimately turns out to come in in-line with the central projections in Figure [1], it will strengthen the suggestion that the unusually high temperature that characterized the 10-yr period from 1998-2007, were just that, unusual, and do not best represent either the expected trend or the climate state of the U.S. for the next several decades to come.”

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!

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.


February 8, 2011

Mixing Politics into “Scientific” Papers

There is a paper in this week’s Science magazine by a long list of authors led by Ulf Büntgen from the Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research that unabashedly throws political commentary into the conclusions of their scientific research paper (i.e., it is not an opinion piece).

The work largely is an unremarkable retelling of the climate social history of Western Europe over the past two millennia or so, with a rather remarkable conclusion.

Anyone familiar with the history of European civilization and how is has been shaped by climate—a story that has been well known for some 30 or 40 years (and probably longer)—will find little new in the Büntgen et al. work.

Factually, that is.

What will come as a surprise to climate history buffs is their take of this well-known story and its implication for the future.


January 7, 2011

Calling BS on Peter Gleick’s Climate BS Nominees

It has just come to our attention that in his infinite wisdom Dr. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, has decided to bestow “The 2010 Climate B.S.* of the Year Award” (*B.S. being defined by Dr. Gleick as “bad science”) which he unveiled about a week ago over at The Huffington Post (itself a consistent source of climate B.S.*).

One of Dr. Gleick’s nominees for his B.S. award is World Climate Report’s own Dr. Patrick Michaels for, according to Gleick:

Long-time climate change skeptic Patrick Michaels testified before the House Science and Technology Committee and misrepresented the scientific understanding of the human role in climate change and the well-understood effects of fundamental climatic factors, such as the effects of visible air pollution. Including these effects (as climate scientists have done for many years) would have completely changed his results.

This is simply untrue.

The logical behind the analysis Dr. Michaels presented to Congress (which is derived from this WCR article), has been discussed at length over at the blogs MasterResource and Climate Etc. There, it was firmly established that it would have been illogical for Dr. Michaels to have included the effects of “visible air pollution” (which we take Dr. Gleick to mean sulfate aerosols) when partitioning the observed warming among its contributors.

A simple analogy makes it clear why considering overall losses (e.g., the cooling influence of sulfate aerosols) is not necessary when divvying up the cash on the barrelhead (e.g., the amount of observed warming).

Let’s say that I (Chip Knappenberger) put 10 dollars into a pot, and Pat Michaels further adds another 10 dollars. We have thus each contributed 50% to the $20 in the pot. Now, let’s say that Dr. Gleick comes by and swipes $15, leaving only $5. Who does that remaining $5 belong to? Well, logically, 50% of it belongs to me and 50% of it belongs to Pat—neither of us can claim the entire $5 even though each of us originally contributed an amount more than what is remaining. Our proportionate claim would be the same whether Dr. Gleick took nothing at all, or whether he took $19.99 (if he took the full $20, then Pat and I would have nothing left to divvy up). So, on a percentage basis, it does not matter how much of the original contribution that Dr. Gleick made off with—of whatever is left, one-half is attributable to me and one-half is attributable to Pat.

The same is true when divvying up the amount of observed warming. How much potential warming may have been offset by sulfate aerosols doesn’t matter one iota when apportioning the observed warming among the various factors that have contributed to it—which is precisely what Pat set out to do in his testimony.

Dr. Gleick’s proposition (echoing the objection that Ben Santer raised during the testimony) that Pat was misleading Congress by not including the cooling effects of “visible air pollution” is in error.

We call B.S. on Dr. Gleick’s B.S.

October 19, 2010

Lessons of the Loch Sunart Monster

Have you ever met a cryptozoologist? Cryptozoologists study and search for animals which are considered to be legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biologists. Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster are all favorite subjects of these “scientists.”

Cryptozoologists believe that the Loch Ness Monster may live in lochs (fiords or fjords) inland in the western half of Scotland. Loch Ness is one of many lochs in western Scotland, so the famed monster may be found in a variety of different locations. In the eyes of some global warming alarmists, there is a potential monster in Loch Sunart taking the form of a sediment core from the bottom that is capable of reconstructing the temperature history of the area over a long time period, and characterized by a head that it much higher than its middle or tail. It seems that The Loch Sunart Monster may have a very interesting story to tell.


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