April 11, 2012

Atmospheric Aerosols and the Death of Nature

Filed under: Climate Changes, Gulf Stream

Big news last week was that new findings published in Nature magazine showed that human emissions of aerosols (primarily from fossil fuel use) have been largely responsible for the multi-decadal patterns of sea surface temperature variability in the Atlantic ocean that have been observed over the past 150 years or so. This variability—commonly referred to as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO—has been linked to several socially significant climate phenomena including the ebb and flow of active Atlantic hurricane periods and drought in the African Sahel.

This paper marks, in my opinion, the death of credibility for Nature on global warming. The first symptoms showed up in 1996 when they published a paper by Ben Santer and 13 coauthors that was so obviously cherry-picked that it took me and my colleagues about three hours to completely destroy it. Things have gone steadily downhill, from a crazy screamer by Jonathan Patz on mortality from warming that didn’t even bother to examine whether fossil fuels were associated with extended lifespan (they are), to the recent Shakun debacle. But the latest whopper, by Ben Booth and his colleagues at the UK Met Office indeed signals the death of Nature in this field.


April 9, 2012

Are EPA Regulations Killing Us?

Filed under: Adaptation, Plants

Over at the website Master Resource, WCR’s Chip Knappenberger takes in intriguing look into whether EPA regulations aimed at mitigating extreme weather outbreaks through limitations on greenhouse gas emissions are really such a good idea.

New research has just been published, adding to an existing set of findings, that shows declines in heat-related mortality in the face of rising temperature. A logical extension of these results is that the more people become familiar with high heat, the better they become at dealing with it. The net result is that the risks form heat waves decline and public health and welfare improves.

This real-world string of events runs contrary to the EPA’s insistence that human emissions of greenhouse endanger the public health and welfare citing “longer, more intense and more frequent heat waves” as one of the resulting threats.

In his Master Resource article, Knappenberger explores this concept in more depth, as well as touching upon recent results in the psychological literature that lend support to the concept that “whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

The same adage is quite appropriate for climate change and extreme weather.

Be sure to see the entire artifcle “Is the EPA Endangering Public Health and Welfare by Attempting to Mitigate Extreme Weather?” which can be found here.

March 29, 2012

Acclimation to Ocean Acidification: Give It Some Time

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals

Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels lead to an increasing amount of CO2 being dissolved in the oceans which drives down the oceans’ pH level. This is often referred to as “ocean acidification” and included among the list of ills that energy production from fossil fuels imparts to the environment. Type “ocean acidification” into your Google search and you’ll quickly be confronted with a litany of potential impacts—all bad. The Center for Biological Diversity refers to it as global warming’s “evil twin.”

“We mean it this time” our greener friends are saying about this current apocalypse. But is ocean acidification any different than the population bomb, global starvation, acid rain, ozone depletion, global cooling, and global warming—all forecast to cause the end of the world as we know it, and all falling a bit short?
It’s beginning to look like the same old same old. In what will come as no surprise to World Climate Report regulars, alarmists are overdoing things just a little. Their biggest mistake comes in assuming that the oceans’ denizens cannot deal either with the pace or the magnitude of the projected changes to the oceans’ chemistry.

The more researchers look into this, the more they report findings to the contrary.


March 22, 2012

Tropical Forests Rejoice!

Filed under: Adaptation, Plants

When was the last time you heard good news about our tropical forests? Well, that’s just too long.

All we ever seem to hear about the tropical forests is that they are being destroyed, their destruction will exacerbate global warming, and on and on. You will even discover that some scientists think global warming destroyed the first tropical forests that evolved on our planet bringing rise to the dinosaurs! So it’s high time for some good news and World Climate Report is at your service!

A recent article in Landscape Ecology caught our eye with the title “Has global environmental change caused monsoon rainforests to expand in the Australian monsoon tropics?” Is someone really suggesting that global environmental change is causing rainforests to expand? We knew we would really like this one!


March 16, 2012

Atlantic Hurricanes: The Long and the Short of It

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Last May, we reviewed a paper on Atlantic basin tropical cyclone trends by Gabriele Villarini and colleagues that focused on a breed of storms called they called “shorties”—small tropical storms that lasted less than two days. The authors concluded that while the number of identified “shorties” has been increasing with time, the increase was primarily the result of changing (improving) observational practices not a changing climate. Now, we review a new paper that looks at the other end of the spectrum of Atlantic tropical cycles—“biggies” (our term)—intense Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. In a new paper, Andrew Hagen (University of Miami) and Chris Landsea (National Hurricane Center) conclude that changing observational practices have resulted in more Cat 4&5 hurricanes being identified in recent decades compared to past ones. Again, the increase is not due to a changing climate but changing detection technologies.

Whether talking about the total number of tropical cyclones (which is increasing because of detection technology) or their intensity (which is increasing because of detection technology) only a person unaware of this important research would say that there has been a climate-related trend.


March 12, 2012

Western U.S. Precipitation Extremes—How Did This Turkey Get Published?

When it comes to changes in future precipitation across the United States, climate models projections are all over the map. In other words, they provide no useful guidance for the future. But that doesn’t stop people from trying to sell them. Now comes a paper which clearly demonstrates a systematic failure of precipitation models and still calls the results “useful”. Reviewers…halloo??


February 27, 2012

Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and High Climate Sensitivity

A few months ago, we reported on a paper in the scientific literature (Schmittner et al. 2011) that concluded that there were only “vanishing probabilities” that the value of the earth’s climate sensitivity—the amount of global temperature change resulting from a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide content—was above 3.2°C, and that a climate sensitivity exceeding 6°C was “implausible.” Now, a new paper has been published (Olson et al., 2012) that finds that the 95% confidence range for the value of the earth’s actual climate sensitivity extends only to a value as great as 4.9°C. This is yet another in an expanding list of papers that strongly suggest that that the IPCC entertainment of the possibility that the earth’s climate sensitivity is extremely high (say, greater than 5-6°C, is wrong).

As apocalyptic climate change lurks among high sensitivity values, these new findings virtually eliminate the places where it could be hiding—and relegate talk of apocalyptic climate change to that of Loch Ness monsters, big foot, and woolly mammoths in Siberia.


February 15, 2012

Flowers Love CO2

Filed under: Adaptation, Plants

As this time of the years reminds us, flowers never go out of style. Whether it is to celebrate a holiday or make up for some bad behavior, flowers just get it done every time. This has been the case for generations and will be the case from now until eternity. There is a good reason why we have flower shops on every other street corner.

According to AboutFlowers.com, “the U.S. floral industry includes fresh cut flowers, cut cultivated greens, potted flowering plants, foliage plants and bedding/garden plants, making floriculture the third largest U.S. agricultural crop. The U.S. floral industry consists of more than 60,000 small businesses, such as growers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors and importers.” Total revenue for these businesses is over $35 billion annually with 67% of fresh flowers being imported largely from Colombia and Ecuador. Can you name the state leading fresh flower production? California dominates the market with 77% of the US production; Washington produces 6%, Hawaii is at 4%, and Florida, Oregon, and New Jersey each produce 3% of our fresh flowers.

Commercial flower growers are fully aware that higher levels of atmospheric CO2 produce great results in indoor greenhouses, and the industry has dreamed up many creative ways to cheaply produce the magic gas. There is no doubt the CO2 creates better flowers, but maintaining higher levels of CO2 can be expensive and in some cases, not cost effective. Flowers in the real world don’t have to worry about the financial cost of higher levels of atmospheric CO2 – it is coming to them absolutely free given emissions from fossil fuel consumption throughout the world. Flowers today are growing in a world of ever-increasing CO2 levels, and research continues to show us that the flowers are thrilled with the situation.


February 8, 2012

“A significant measure of negative feedback to global warming”

Filed under: Climate Forcings

A new paper just published in Geophysical Research Letters by Roger Davies and Mathew Molloy of the University of Auckland finds that over the past decade the global average effective cloud height has declined and that “If sustained, such a decrease would indicate a significant measure of negative cloud feedback to global warming.”

Davies and Molloy are quick to point out that part of the decline from 2000 to 2010 in cloud height is due to the timing and variability of El Niño/La Niña events over the same period, however, there still seems to be evidence that at least part of the decline may remain even when El Niño/La Niña variability is accounted for.

Figure 1 shows the history of the effective cloud height, as determined by Davies and Molloy from satellite observations, from March 2000 through February 2010. The dotted line is the linear trend through the data as determined by Davies and Molloy and has a value of -44 meters per decade (+/- 22m). However, clearly the trend is influenced by the large negative departure centered around the beginning of 2008 that was related to a moderate La Niña event in the Pacific Ocean. To avoid the influence of the this event, Davies and Molloy calculate the difference between the cloud heights during the first and last years of their record and still find a decline of 31 m/dec (+/- 11m). Although this latter technique doesn’t fully account for the El Niño/La Niña signal in the record, it does at least give some indication of the influence of the large negative departures in the latter half of the record, and indicates that the overall decline is not simply an artifact of a single event.

Figure 1. Deseasonalized anomalies of global effective cloud-top height from the 10-year mean. Solid line: 12-month running mean of 10-day anomalies. Dotted line: linear regression. Gray error bars indicate the sampling error (±8 m) in the annual average (source: Davies and Molloy, 2012).


February 6, 2012

The Sun: O Inconstant Star!

Filed under: Climate Forcings, Solar

As solar activity declines and rate of global warming follows suit, it is natural to wonder whether the two are in some manner related.

Science is all over the map on this one—and is hardly the “settled” stuff our greener friends want us to believe. One school holds that there is little-to-no detectable relationship between solar changes and surface temperatures, while another holds that there is a strong influence and that a projected period of low solar activity over the next several decades will offset much of the anthropogenic greenhouse-gas induced warming. Of course, there are also gradations in between these poles of opinion.


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