June 30, 2010

China’s 2,000 Year Temperature History

We constantly hear that the warmest years on record have all occurred in the most recent decades, and of course, we are led to believe this must be a result of the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases. In most places, we have approximately 100 years of reliable temperature records, and we wonder if the warmth of the most recent decades is unusual, part of some cyclical behavior of the climate system, or a warm-up on the heels of a cold period at the beginning of the record. A recent article in Geophysical Research Letters has an intriguing title suggesting a 2,000 year temperature record now exists for China – we definitely wanted to see these results of this one.

The article was authored by six scientists with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, the State University of New York at Albany, and Germany’s Justus-Liebig University in Giessen; the research was funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the United States Department of Energy. In their abstract, Ge et al. tell us “The analysis also indicates that the warming during the 10–14th centuries in some regions might be comparable in magnitude to the warming of the last few decades of the 20th century.” From the outset, we knew we would welcome the results from any long-term reconstruction of regional temperatures.


April 5, 2010

Bassmasters Rejoice: Higher Temperatures Mean Bigger Fish

Here is the question of the day – who is Kevin VanDam (KVD)? Have a look at the picture below and now think about the question. Come on … admit it to the world – you have watched bass fishing on ESPN stations and you know that KVD is one of the world’s best bass fishermen. KVD has won the Bassmaster Classic three times (2001, 2005, and 2010) and many would argue KVD is simply the greatest bass fishermen who has ever lived. Leading pro bass fishermen are well paid (KVD won $500,000 for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic alone), they are well-sponsored, they have their own TV shows, iPhone apps, and video games, and they endorse countless products in the bassmaster line. Top anglers are superstars in their sport, and if you haven’t heard, pro bass fishing will be the next NASCAR (time will tell). The stuff is on TV all the time, and if you want to see KVD in action (and 1,000s show up for the pro events), there are events all over the USA – get into the sport and follow the women’s tour and junior’s tour as well! If KVD can win millions, why can’t you?

World Champion Kevin VanDam and a couple of live, freshly-caught largemouth bass
(Micropterus salmoides)


March 2, 2010

Most of the Observed Warming since the Mid-20th Century Likely Not from Human GHG Emissions?

Filed under: Temperature History

A few weeks ago, over at the blog MasterResource.org, WCR’s Chip Knappenberger took a look at just how confident one should be regarding the amount of warming that anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have caused since the mid-20th century.

The IPCC claims that it is “very likely” that “most” of the warming since then has been the result of human GHG emissions. In IPCC parlance, “very likely” means with a greater than 90% likelihood. The EPA parrots the IPCC’s claim in the Technical Support Document for their Endangerment Finding (TSD, p. 2):

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations.

But, in his MasterResource.org article, Knappenberger shows that this statement is not supported by recent findings in the scientific literature—findings that have appeared in the literature subsequent to the publication of the IPCC’s statement. He concluded that the IPCC’s statement—especially the likelihood designation—should be re-evaluated in light of what we know now.

In some sense, however, Knappenberger’s analysis did not go far enough. While he used middle-of-the-road estimates for the warming influence of some non-GHG factors, in some cases he was being too conservative—like when it comes to the non-climatic influences on local thermometers—and, further, he failed to include a potential impact from solar changes.

So here, we take Knappenberger’s analysis a bit further, and show that it is easy to demonstrate, using the contents of the peer-reviewed scientific literature, that anthropogenic GHG emissions could be responsible for less than one-third of the warming in the extant global temperature records.


February 26, 2010

Quick Response to Ben Santer’s Comments at RealClimate

Ben Santer has an article over at RealClimate defending himself against some claims made recently by Fred Pearce in a series of articles Pearce did for the U.K.’s Guardian in recent weeks.

In particular, Santer discusses a 1996 paper that he (and colleagues) published in Nature magazine in which they reported to have identified a human fingerprint on global temperature change. Well, actually, in his RealClimate article Santer primarily discusses his Response to a Comment that WCR’s Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger published in Nature that pointed out that had Santer et al. used the full observational period of record available at the time they published their original paper (instead of a truncated one), that Santer et al.’s statements “about the strength of the evidence for human alteration of the lower tropospheric climate must be tempered.”

In Santer’s RealClimate piece, he claims that in his Response to our Comment, that he “demonstrated that this criticism was simply wrong.” And that “[u]se of a longer record of atmospheric temperature change strengthened rather than weakened the evidence for a human fingerprint.”

At RealClimate, Santer provided this link to his Response to our Comments. Here, for completeness’s sake, we provide a link to our Comment.

We invite you to read them both and see for yourself.

Personally, we are incredulous that Santer maintains, even to this day, that had they used the full period of available record—which he admits would have shown a decline in the correlation between models and observations—that this somehow “strengthened rather than weakened the evidence for a human fingerprint.”

We can only wonder what he would have concluded had the full dataset of observations maintained or strengthened his original correlation! Somehow we doubt that had the updated data strengthened the correlation between models and observations, that Santer would have come out and declared this as evidence the human fingerprint was fading.

(There is lots more regarding this issue (and others discussed by Santer in his RealClimate article) that resides in our back pages. To investigate for yourself, use our ‘back issues’ search function and enter “Santer”)

January 8, 2010

UPDATE: 2009 Another Normal Year in the U.S.

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Back at the end of October, we gave you all a preview of what how the U.S. average annual temperature was shaping up for 2009. At the time we postulated that we were headed for another pretty normal temperature year (on the heels of 2008’s pretty normal temperatures). Now, after the 3rd warmest November on record was followed by the 14th coldest December, the final numbers for 2009 are in and we were pretty much right on the button.

The annual average temperature for the U.S. in 2009 was 53.13°F, just a smidgen above the long-term (1901-2000) average. This now marks two years in a row in which the U.S. annual average temperature has returned back to normal after its recent 10-yr stint in the much above normal category.

Now we await 2010.

It shouldn’t take too much longer before we can come to the determination that the 1998-2007 warm period was more a part of natural variability than a sign of anthropogenic climate change.

Figure 1. U.S. annual average temperature, 1895-2009 (source: National Climatic Data Center)

November 13, 2009

U.S. Record Temperatures—A Closer Look

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

A new paper that is soon to appear in the journal Geophysical Research Letters finds that across the U.S. daily record high temperatures are being set at about twice the frequency of daily record low temperatures and that this ratio—number of record highs to the number of record lows, has been growing larger over the past 50 years.

The popular press seems to be particularly taken with this finding, although headline proclamations fail to disclose important details of the actual findings reported by the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s (NCAR) Gerald Meehl and colleagues.

Although you can hardly blame the press, because the NCAR press release did much to lead them down this muddy path.


November 9, 2009

Another Normal Year for U.S. Temperatures?

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Early last January, when the final 2008 numbers were in for the U.S. annual average temperature, we ran an article titled “U.S. Temperatures 2008: Back to the Future?” in which we noted that “The temperature in 2008 dropped back down to the range that characterized most of the 20th century.”

2009 seems to be following in 2008’s footsteps.


October 26, 2009

“AP IMPACT: Statisticians reject global cooling”

This is an interesting headline.

We thought the debate is over global warming.

Apparently, not.

Last week, a poll by the Pew Center for the People and the Press showed that there has been an erosion of the percentage of American’s who think that the earth is heating up.

And now, the AP’s Seth Borenstein is out there trying to find out whether or not the earth is cooling!

How things have changed during the past 10 years.


October 20, 2009

Baffling Island

There is a bit of press covering a just-published paper that concludes that the current climate and ecological conditions in a remote lake along the north shore of Canada’s Baffin Island are unique within the past 200,000 years—and anthropogenic global warming is the root cause. Which of course, spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Somehow, that temperatures there were several degrees higher than present for a good third of the past 10,000 years and that there has been virtually no temperature trend in the area during past 50 years—the time usually associated with the greatest amount of human-caused “global warming”—was conveniently downplayed or ignored.

Go figure.


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.

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