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Examining the science of global warming skepticism, clearing up the misconceptions and misleading arguments that populate the climate change debate.
Updated: 13 hours 12 min ago

New research, January 8-14, 2018

January 19, 2018 - 5:49am

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

The Figure is from paper #30.

Climate change impacts

Impacts to mankind

1. Structural property losses from tornadoes in Florida

2. Evaluating Efficacy of Landsat-Derived Environmental Covariates for Predicting Malaria Distribution in Rural Villages of Vhembe District, South Africa

"The study has shown that suitable habitats of malaria vectors are generally found within a radius of 10 km in semi-arid environments, and this insight can be useful to aid efforts aimed at putting in place evidence-based preventative measures against malaria infections. Furthermore, this result is important in understanding malaria dynamics under the current climate and environmental changes. The study has also demonstrated the use of Landsat data and the ability to extract environmental conditions which favour the distribution of malaria vector (An. arabiensis) such as the canopy moisture content in vegetation, which serves as a surrogate for rainfall."

3. Benefits of increasing transpiration efficiency in wheat under elevated CO2 for rainfed regions

Impacts to nature

4. The Biosphere Under Potential Paris Outcomes

"We find that CC may cause major impacts in landscapes covering between 16% and 65% of the global ice-free land surface by the end of the century, depending on the success or failure of achieving the Paris goal. Accounting for LUC impacts in addition, this number increases to 38%–80%. Thus, CC will likely replace LUC as the major driver of ecosystem change unless global warming can be limited to well below 2°C. We also find a substantial risk that impacts of agricultural expansion may offset some of the benefits of ambitious climate protection for ecosystems."

5. Impact of Earth greening on the terrestrial water cycle

6. Trees Tolerate an Extreme Heatwave via Sustained Transpirational Cooling and Increased Leaf Thermal Tolerance

7. Historical and event-based bioclimatic suitability predict regional forest vulnerability to compound effects of severe drought and bark beetle infestation

8. Climate sensitivity functions and net primary production: A framework for incorporating climate mean and variability

9. Intensity and temporality of airborne Quercus pollen in the southwest Mediterranean area: Correlation with meteorological and phenoclimatic variables, trends and possible adaptation to climate change

10. Ocean acidification of a coastal Antarctic marine microbial community reveals a critical threshold for CO2 tolerance in phytoplankton productivity

"Our study identifies a threshold for CO2 tolerance in the phytoplankton community between 953 and 1140 μatm of CO2, above which productivity declines."

11. Are North American bird species' geographic ranges mainly determined by climate?

12. Strong evidence for changing fish reproductive phenology under climate warming on the Tibetan Plateau

"Using constructed water-air temperature relationships and historical air temperature records, we found that the reproductive phenology of G. selincuoensis was strongly advanced in the spring during the 1970s and 1990s, while the increased growing season length in the 2000s was mainly due to a delayed onset of winter. The reproductive phenology of G. selincuoensis advanced 2.9 days per decade on average from the 1970s to 2000s, and may have effects on recruitment success and population dynamics of this species and other biota in the ecosystem via the food web."

Climate change mitigation

13. Dealing with climate science denialism: experiences from confrontations with other forms of pseudoscience

"Climate science denialism is a form of pseudoscience. This contribution provides proposals for how to counter it, based on previous research on the demarcation between science and pseudoscience and on the author’s experience of tackling other forms of pseudoscience. Science denialism has much in common with other variants of pseudoscience, but it also has characteristics of its own. In particular, it is much more prone than other forms of pseudoscience to seek conflicts with genuine science. Like other science denialists, those attacking climate science have fabricated a large number of fake controversies in issues where there is no authentic scientific controversy. The defence of climate science against science denial has to take this into account. There is no reason to accept the denialists’ agenda or to treat their claims as legitimate alternatives to science. Climate science should primarily be presented to the public in ways that are independent of denialist activities, rather than reactively in response to those activities. Disclosures of the strategies, motives and funding of denialism are important contributions to the public understanding of the fake controversies. It is also important to document the scientific consensus and make it known. The public defence of climate science is an important and urgent undertaking, and active contributions by as many scientists as possible are needed."

14. A three-year experiment of annual methane and nitrous oxide emissions from the subtropical permanently flooded rice paddy fields of China: Emission factor, temperature sensitivity and fertilizer nitrogen effect

15. An investigation into the early stages of New Zealand's voluntary carbon market

16. Estimating water–food–ecosystem trade-offs for the global negative emission scenario (IPCC-RCP2.6)

17. Optimizing Messaging to Reduce Red Meat Consumption

"Taste and quality were the most important motivators for eating meat, while moral/ethical factors were the least. Forty-nine percent of respondents indicated they would reduce red meat intake after exposure to an information only message, while the social norms frame was more effective than others (χ2). Awareness of the environmental effects increased significantly after messaging for all 13 impacts."

18. Non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions in China 2012: Inventory and supply chain analysis

19. How do climate-related uncertainties influence 2 and 1.5 °C pathways?

20. Critical issues of energy efficient and new energy vehicles development in China

21. A comparative study on household level energy consumption and related emissions from renewable (biomass) and non-renewable energy sources in Bangladesh

22. Technical opportunities to reduce global anthropogenic emissions of nitrous oxide

23. Exploratory study of atmospheric methane enhancements derived from natural gas use in the Houston urban area

24. High-resolution spatial distribution and associated uncertainties of greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector

25. Oil demand forecasting for China: a fresh evidence from structural time series analysis

26. A socio-technical framework for examining the consequences of deforestation: A case study of wind project development in Northern Europe

27. The estimated impact of California's urban water conservation mandate on electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

28. Temporal restrictions on emissions trading and the implications for the carbon futures market: Lessons from the EU emissions trading scheme

Climate change

29. Correlation Lengths for Estimating the Large-Scale Carbon and Heat Content of the Southern Ocean

Climate Forcings and Feedbacks

30. Comparison of global observations and trends of total precipitable water derived from microwave radiometers and COSMIC radio occultation from 2006 to 2013

"Results show that these two TPW trends from independent observations are larger than previous estimates and are a strong indication of the positive water vapor–temperature feedback on a warming planet."

31. Sources of intermodel spread in the lapse rate and water vapor feedbacks

32. Isolating the Liquid Cloud Response to Recent Arctic Sea Ice Variability Using Spaceborne Lidar Observations

33. Cloud-assisted retrieval of lower stratospheric water vapor from nadir view satellite measurements


34. Influence of temperature fluctuations on equilibrium ice sheet volume

"The surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has a nonlinear response to warming. Cold and warm anomalies of equal size do not cancel out and it is therefore important to consider the effect of interannual fluctuations in temperature." ... "For recent simulations of the Greenland Ice Sheet, we estimate the bias to be 30 Gt yr−1 (24–59 Gt yr−1, 95 % credibility) for a warming of 3 °C above preindustrial values, or 13 % (10–25, 95 % credibility) of the present-day rate of ice loss. Models of the Greenland Ice Sheet show a collapse threshold beyond which the ice sheet becomes unsustainable. The proximity of the threshold will be underestimated if temperature fluctuations are not taken into account. We estimate the bias to be 0.12 °C (0.10–0.18 °C, 95 % credibility) for a recent estimate of the threshold."

35. Modelling present-day basal melt rates for Antarctic ice shelves using a parametrization of buoyant meltwater plumes

36. Using satellite laser ranging to measure ice mass change in Greenland and Antarctica

37. Linking the modern distribution of biogenic proxies in High Arctic Greenland shelf sediments to sea ice, primary production and Arctic-Atlantic inflow

38. The Greater Caucasus Glacier Inventory (Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan)

"Glacier margins were mapped manually and reveal that in 1960 the mountains contained 2349 glaciers with a total glacier surface area of 1674.9 ± 70.4 km2. By 1986, glacier surface area had decreased to 1482.1 ± 64.4 km2 (2209 glaciers), and by 2014 to 1193.2 ± 54.0 km2 (2020 glaciers). This represents a 28.8 ± 4.4 % (481 ± 21.2 km2) or 0.53 % yr−1 reduction in total glacier surface area between 1960 and 2014 and an increase in the rate of area loss since 1986 (0.69 % yr−1) compared to 1960–1986 (0.44 % yr−1). Glacier mean size decreased from 0.70 km2 in 1960 to 0.66 km2 in 1986 and to 0.57 km2 in 2014."

39. Recent glacier mass balance and area changes in the Kangri Karpo Mountains from DEMs and glacier inventories

"This study presents diminishing ice cover in the Kangri Karpo Mountains by 24.9 % ± 2.2 % or 0.71 % ± 0.06 % a−1 from 1980 to 2015 but with nine glaciers advancing. By utilizing geodetic methods, glaciers have experienced a mean mass deficit of 0.46 ± 0.08 m w.e. a−1 from 1980 to 2014. These glaciers showed slight accelerated shrinkage and significant accelerated mass loss during 2000–2015 compared to that during 1980–2000, which is consistent with the tendency of climate warming."

40. The Khurdopin glacier surge revisited – extreme flow velocities and formation of a dammed lake in 2017

41. Some mean atmospheric characteristics for snowfall occurrences in southern Brazil

42. Estimating active layer thickness and volumetric water content from ground penetrating radar measurements in Barrow, Alaska

43. Vegetation can strongly regulate permafrost degradation at its southern edge through changing surface freeze-thaw processes

Temperature and Precipitation

44. Urban Heat Island studies in South Asia: A critical review

45. Shifting the urban heat island clock in a megacity: a case study of Hong Kong

46. Retrieving Temperature Anomaly in the Global Subsurface and Deeper Ocean From Satellite Observations

47. Tropical Indian Ocean warming contributions to China winter climate trends since 1960

48. Have human activities changed the frequencies of absolute extreme temperatures in eastern China?

49. Detectability of Decadal Anthropogenic Hydroclimate Changes over North America

50. Observed soil temperature trends associated with climate change in the Tibetan Plateau, 1960–2014

51. Rainfall variability over Malawi during the late 19th century

52. Projected changes in future climate over the Midwest and Great Lakes region using downscaled CMIP5 ensembles

53. Multi-scale variability in North American summer maximum temperatures and modulations from the North Atlantic simulated by an AGCM

Atmospheric and Oceanic Circulation

54. Meridional Modes and Increasing Pacific decadal variability under anthropogenic forcing

55. Impact of climate change on Siberian High and wintertime air pollution in China in past two decades

Extreme Events

56. Heat Stress Changes over East Asia under 1.5°C and 2°C Global Warming Target

57. What has controlled the poleward migration of annual averaged location of tropical cyclone lifetime maximum intensity over the western North Pacific since 1961?

58. Multi-model ensemble projections of European river floods and high flows at 1.5, 2, and 3 degrees global warming

59. Assessing Flood Risk Under Sea Level Rise and Extreme Sea Levels Scenarios: Application to Ebro Delta (Spain)

60. Revising return periods for record events in a climate event attribution context

61. The characteristics of extreme cold events and cold air outbreaks in the eastern United States

Carbon Cycle

62. Detecting the permafrost carbon feedback: talik formation and increased cold-season respiration as precursors to sink-to-source transitions

"Carbon models suggest the permafrost carbon feedback (soil carbon emissions from permafrost thaw) acts as a slow, unobservable leak. We investigate if permafrost temperature provides an observable signal to detect feedbacks. We find a slow carbon feedback in warm sub-Arctic permafrost soils, but potentially rapid feedback in cold Arctic permafrost. This is surprising since the cold permafrost region is dominated by tundra and underlain by deep, cold permafrost thought impervious to such changes."

63. MODIS-based estimates of global terrestrial ecosystem respiration

64. Modelling the diurnal and seasonal dynamics of soil CO2 exchange in a semiarid ecosystem with high plant–interspace heterogeneity

65. Estimating regional-scale methane flux and budgets using CARVE aircraft measurements over Alaska


66. Salinity trends within the upper layers of the subpolar North Atlantic

67. Assessing water resources under climate change in high-altitude catchments: a methodology and an application in the Italian Alps

Other papers

68. Atmospheric depositions of natural and anthropogenic trace elements on the Guliya ice cap (northwestern Tibetan Plateau) during the last 340 years

69. C4 photosynthesis evolved in warm climates but promoted migration to cooler ones

70. Glacial cycles influence marine methane hydrate formation

71. Temperature and mineral dust variability recorded in two low-accumulation Alpine ice cores over the last millennium

A ‘new’ measurement of climate sensitivity?

January 18, 2018 - 1:48am

This was first posted on and Then There's Physics by SkS contributor Mark Richardson, who is currently a Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mark has a particular interest in the role of clouds in climate change. This post is a response to a suggestion that it is possible to more tightly constrain Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS). This article is all personal opinion and does not represent NASA, JPL or Caltech in any way.

The oceans are massive and their deeper layers haven’t caught up with today’s fast global warming. Unfortunately we don’t know exactly how far behind they are so it’s hard to pin down “equilibrium climate sensitivity” (ECS), or the eventual warming after CO2 in the air is doubled.

Blogger Clive Best proposes that data support an ECS range of 2–3°C, with a best estimate of 2.5°C. The 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) consensus range was 1.5–4.5°C with a best estimate of 3°C. He asks “why is there still so much IPCC uncertainty?” Here we’ll see that part of the reason relates to the oceans, and that surprisingly Best’s results actually agree with IPCC climate models.

Clive Best mixes temperature data with a record of heating due to changes in gases in the air, solar activity, volcanic eruptions, air pollution and so on. Apparently without realising it, he accurately reproduced a textbook calculation including a reasonable way to try and account for the oceans lagging behind surface warming. This is a good start!

This calculation is often called a “one-box energy balance model” but by 2010 it was known to have issues with calculating ECS. Clive Best misses some of these because he uses a 1983 climate model to estimate that the oceans lag about 12 years behind the surface, which combined with the HadCRUT4 data gives an ECS of about 2.5°C.

But in a like-with-like comparison HadCRUT4 warms about as much as the IPCC climate model average since 1861. Given this agreement, anything that uses HadCRUT4 and gets a lower ECS than the model average 3.2°C has some explaining to do!

Figure 1: Temperature change over 150 years in abrupt 4xCO2 simulations of four climate models. Black lines are a one-box fit with ECS and response time (τ) allowed to vary. Legend lists model name, true ECS and fit parameters.

The reliance on a 1983 model is the explanation. The 1983 NASA GISS Model II was mostly designed for the atmosphere and had a simple ocean. For example, its ocean currents couldn’t change. Modern models are more realistic and the graphs to the right (Figure 1) show their temperature after an immediate 300 % increase in CO2. Each legend has the known model ECS, along with the ECS and time lag (labelled τ) calculated for the one-box model.

 The ECS is off and the time lag can be as long as 21 years instead of 12! On top of that the fits are bad because the oceans aren’t just 12 years “behind”, instead the system acts as if the ocean has multiple layers and each one can respond on a different timescale. Now let’s look at simulations of the climate since 1861 and the one-box fits.

Figure 2: Simulated temperature change from 1861–2015 inclusive in 4 climate models using historical-Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 scenarios (RCP8.5, blue). Model output is sampled in the same way as HadCRUT4. The thicker lines are fits using a one-box model with either the lag from Figure 1 or assuming a 12-year lag. Radiative forcing is the Forster et al. historical-RCP8.5 in all cases.

Consider the Figure on the left (Figure 2). Imagine living in the world of the top left panel. In this world we might read a blog that says ECS is around 1.7°C but in reality it would be 3.8°C. Now let’s compare the one-box and true ECS values for 18 models.

Figure 3: Model true equilibrium climate sensitivity (True ECS) as a function of that calculated as in Figure 2, using historical-RCP8.5 temperature change with the Forster forcing and a one-box model with a 12-year lag. All of the points are above the 1:1 black dashed line, showing that the one-box model underestimates true ECS in all 18 cases. The red line is a best fit to the models, although the fit is weak.

If this one-box calculation works, then it should give the right answer when applied to complex climate models where we know the answer (e.g. Geoffroy et al. (2013) do this sort of test). With this data being free online, anyone can work out that climate models with ECS from 2.3–3.8°C are consistent with the data & one-box approach. A little exploration shows us that the climate’s response time matters, and measured ocean heatingshows a single 12-year lag doesn’t make sense (Figure 3).

Clive Best asked why the IPCC give a range for ECS that’s bigger than his calculated 2–3°C. This post shows that partly this is because his approach missed lots of uncertainty related to ocean layering. A 2013 paper found that the way in which oceans delay warming could even affect future sea ice and clouds while a 2017 study brought together the key physics and data. The conclusion? Observational data support a “best estimate of equilibrium climate sensitivity of 2.9°C”, with a range of 1.7–7.1°C.

Flaws of Lüdecke & Weiss

January 16, 2018 - 2:56am

Once again a paper that looks at solar-climate connection turns out to be deeply flawed. It contains bad methodology, bad result handling, bad conclusions, and a biased reference list.

Data handling process of Lüdecke & Weiss (2017).

A few months ago, a new paper was published by Lüdecke and Weiss (LW17). Both Lüdecke and Weiss are known climate change contrarians. Serious problems have been reported from their previous work, which used some of the same methods that were used in this new one. The new paper has been published by Bentham Open, which has somewhat questionable reputation.

Climate change contrarians are liking this of course and recently I also encountered the paper when it was shown to me as a proof for something. I decided to take a more thorough look at the paper.

The reference list

The first thing that jumps out from LW17 is the papers they cite in their introduction section. You can immediately see that their review of existing research is biased. They cite Scafetta but not his critics. They cite Svensmark but not his critics. They cite Friis-Christensen & Lassen but not their critics (even F-C & L themselves have later agreed that the findings they reported in the paper cited by LW17 were not correct). They cite lots of papers that suggest some kind of influence of the sun on Earth's climate, but they leave the multitude of papers that state clearly that sun hasn't caused current climate change almost un-cited.

The reference list of LW17 is quite long which suggests that they have been relatively thorough in trying to find lot of references that support their argumentation. It also hints to the possibility that the biased reference list is by design and not just an accident due to sloppy paper search.

The methods of the study

The methods section (sections "The Data" and "Spectral Analysis") of LW17 contains some curious issues. Perhaps the worst aspect of the methods section is that they haven't described all the methods they used. Their later sections contain many steps that haven't been described with enough detail in the paper, such as making a representation of the temperature reconstruction from the three sine waves and the steps involved in solar variability - temperature comparison.

Moving on to the things they describe in the methods section, here's a quote describing one step in the LW17 data processing:

For Bün, HADCRUT4 and Pet respectively the most recent years which show unusual deviations from the remaining reconstructions were also omitted.

This is a kind of thing I have seen climate change contrarians using in their fraud accusations. Yet, I have seen climate change contrarians claiming to have read this paper thoroughly and accepting it as truth without a question, and even defending it fiercely.

Another thing is how LW17 have adjusted the satellite data to HadCRUT4 data. They took 1979 values for each and then shifted satellite data so that their 1979 values were the same (I'm not 100% sure that they did it exactly like this - they don't give the details - but I think that the process I described results in what they did). I think using only one year worth of data to align the two records is a bad idea. It's especially bad because there was an El Niño in 1979-1980. El Niño generally shows up more in satellite records than in surface temperature records so using an El Niño year as a baseline creates a bias between the two records (the satellite record runs a bit low after this). I would have used several years of data to align the two records, 10 years for example. They also seem to use only one year data to align their source reconstructions together.

LW17 have used temperature reconstructions from all over the world. This is good. They have also adjusted each reconstruction to a common baseline. This is also good. Their method to create a global data set out of them is a bad one, though. They have computed a simple mean of the reconstructions for each year. There is no area averaging or anything but just a simple mean. To illustrate why this is bad, they have only three reconstructions from the Southern Hemisphere (SH) while they have dozens of reconstructions from the Northern Hemisphere (NH) (making their reconstruction practically a NH one instead a global one). This means that the three reconstructions from SH are strongly out-weighted by the NH reconstructions. In a global temperature reconstruction both hemispheres should have an equal weight but in LW17 they don't have that, not even close.

Making the SH-NH imbalance even worse in LW17, two of the three reconstructions from SH only cover time-period from 1640 to 1987 and from 1640 to 1993 while they describe their reconstruction as "a global temperature mean G7 over the last 2000 years". Furthermore, the only SH reconstruction covering the full 2000 years is an ice core based temperature reconstruction from Antarctica which has temporal resolution of 17 to 50 years while the NH records have annual resolution. Hence, most of the LW17 temperature reconstruction is lots of NH records + one bad resolution SH record.

In addition, all the proxies are from land areas but LW17 use global instrumental and satellite data which includes also ocean surface area. Yet another thing is that the NH reconstructions in LW17 seem to be somewhat clustered around North Atlantic, which is a region known to show the Medieval Warm Period very clearly. Overall, the LW17 temperature reconstruction is a strange mix of reconstructions patched together with very questionable methods, and it really is just a NH reconstruction with an emphasis on North Atlantic region.

For the solar activity, LW17 use only one reconstruction that has been constructed from different sources. They seem to use the reconstruction as it is without tampering with it, which seems to be a good thing in the light of what was seen above.

The results of the study

In their analysis, LW17 concentrate on cycles only and mainly to past climate, so the study has only little relevance to current climate change. Causes of past climate changes do not mean that greenhouse gases couldn't cause climate change now, and the presence of cycles in Earth's climate don't negate the effects of greenhouse gases, but climatic cycles and greenhouse gas forcing can (and do) co-exist.

LW17 don't offer much new to sun-climate connection knowledge either because their main result is a possible correlation between the two which doesn't offer any information other than solar variability might have an effect on Earth's climate, which we knew already anyway.

But in addition to general insignificance of the study and the problems identified in the previous sections, there are further problems in the results section of the paper.

LW17 perform a Fourier transformation to their temperature reconstruction and then they select three strongest peaks from the Fourier transformation result. However, from their Figure 2 can be seen that one of the selected peaks (the 1000-year peak) is not statistically significant (it doesn't exceed what they call "false alarm line") while some of the statistically significant peaks (~65 year and ~50 year peaks) were not selected. LW17 do not discuss the issue. They just state that they have selected the three strongest peaks.

Next, LW17 use the three selected peaks to do an inverse Fourier transform. The result of this is a representation of their original temperature reconstruction. This hasn't been described in the methods section, and they don't also describe it in the results section adequately. They only mention that they have done an inverse Fourier transformation.

They compute a correlation between the original temperature reconstruction and the sine wave representation. Resulting correlation is quite good, but it doesn't mean much because they correlate an original series with a series that has been constructed from the original series. In practice, they just compute a correlation between two representations of a same signal. This would be okay if they would have just used the correlation to check that the temperature reconstruction from the three sine waves is a reasonably good representation of the original reconstruction, and then proceed with the actual analysis, but they seem to treat the correlation value as one of their most important results, and there’s no further analysis with the inverse Fourier representation.

LW17 continue their analysis under the section "Sun's Activity and Climate". For many readers, it probably will not be a surprise that this section also contains problems.

In this section, LW17 first discuss the Fourier transformation results of solar activity proxy series they are using. Their discussion is a stub one. Based on the peaks found, they mention that the three peaks selected from the temperature reconstruction can also be seen in solar activity series. Below is an excerpt of their Figure 2.

The Table 2 (T2) of LW17 claims to show "Strongest spectral peaks for the records Chr, Bün, McK, Vill-N, Vill-S, Pet, G7, and Stei for periods > 700 years, from 700 to 300 years, from 300 to 100 years, and < 100 years". From the figure above it can be seen that this is not the case. Highest peak of series "Pet" (ice core record from Antarctica) is very close to 0 (corresponding roughly to a wavelength of several thousand years) and the mentioned peak in T2 seems to be a double peak of which the weaker one seems to be better match in wavelength with the peak mentioned in T2. The mentioned peak of 499 years in T2 also seems to be a double peak and here better match seems also to be the weaker one. For both of the double peaks, it is of course difficult to estimate the situation from the graph, but it does seem that LW17 have selected the weaker ones of the mentioned double peaks to T2.

The series "Stei" (the solar activity proxy series) also shows stronger peaks than the ones mentioned in T2. Above 700 years there are two peaks clearly stronger than the mentioned 991-year peak. Also from 700 to 300 years there is one higher peak than the mentioned one.

The figure above shows also that it is easy to find matches for peaks when there are plenty of peaks to choose from. Highlighted is the selection of the peak in "Stei" that corresponds to the 188-year peak in "G7" (and in "Pet"). There are weaker peaks that are closer matches to the wavelength of 188-year peak than the highlighted 203-year peak. One of these is also clearly statistically significant at about 197 years.

Moving on past the selection of solar activity peaks, it should be noted that after LW17 have selected the peaks, they don't do much about them. They don't construct a representation of temperature and calculate correlations or anything like they did for temperature series but instead they just mention that the solar activity "shows the same periods" as temperature reconstruction based on the values presented in T2.

One further thing about the figure above, the solar activity series "Stei" shows lot of peaks and as discussed above, some of them are more meaningful than the ones LW17 emphasize. Why those peaks do not show up in the temperature reconstruction? This point has not been discussed by LW17.

Next step is a very curious one. They proceed to check the solar-climate connection further, but for some reason they drop their temperature reconstruction G7 and start using "Pet" which is the low-resolution ice core proxy from Antarctica. They don't justify this at all.

The method they use here is not described in detail. They only mention that they do a "wavelet analysis". At the end, however, their analysis here doesn’t extend beyond studying "eyesight similarities".


In their introduction section, LW17 created a false picture of the situation of current research status of the solar activity - climate connection by citing mostly papers that support LW17 argumentation and ignoring most of the papers that show results against their argumentation. They did a not-even-half-baked analysis containing lot of flaws. In their conclusion section LW17 then suggested that their flawed results are a "confirmation" for the false picture created in the introduction section.

We can also wonder what was the point of the Fourier-inverse Fourier exercise LW17 did (with subsequent eyesight "analysis"), because if you want to demonstrate a solar-temperature correlation, then why not just compute a correlation between them directly? It is curious that they didn’t do this at least as a side-note, surely it would (or should?) have been interesting also to them.

In my opinion, LW17 is throughout bad science - biased citing, bad research methods, strange interpretation of results, etc. Having seen and studied the paper, I cannot help wondering what this quote from LW17 acknowledgements section means: "We express our thanks to the referees for valuable comments." If the referees gave valuable comments and the resulting paper still is as bad as described above, how bad was this paper originally?

Study finds that global warming exacerbates refugee crises

January 15, 2018 - 3:28am

The refugee crisis – particularly in the Mediterranean area – has received large amounts of new attention in the past few years, with people fleeing from Syria and entering the European Union emblematic of the problem. There has been some research connecting this refugee problem with changes to the climate. In particular, the years preceding the Syrian refugee crisis were characterized by a severe drought that reduced farm output and led to economic and social strife there.

Separating out the influences of climate change from general social instability may be impossible, because they are intimately linked. But we do know that climate change can cause social and economic instability. We also know that these instabilities can boil over into larger problems that lead to mass exodus. The problem isn’t knowing the connection between climate and refugees exists – rather the problem is quantifying it. 

All of this is important because we want to be able to plan for the “now” as well as the “tomorrow.” If we are already seeing climate-related migrations, can you imagine what’s in store in the next few decades as temperatures and extreme weather continue to increase?

A very recent publication appearing in the journal Science investigates this complex subject. The paper, Asylum Applications Respond to Temperature Fluctuations, was published by Anouch Missirian and Wolfram Schlenker from Columbia University. It focused not just on Syria and the Mediterranean area, but expanded their study to be worldwide.

The researchers identified 103 countries that contributed to asylum applications to the European Union. Collectively, these nations submitted 350,000 applications to the EU per year. The authors combed the weather histories from these 103 source sites and explored how the weather varied in the 2000–2014 time period. 

They found that when temperatures in agricultural areas and seasons at the source countries varied away from an optimal value (of about 20°C), the number of people seeking asylum increased. And the increase wasn’t just proportional. They found it was nonlinear, meaning that initial increases in temperature only mildly changed the asylum application numbers. But as temperatures varied more and more, the number of seekers increased more quickly.

After making this connection to observations, the authors then projected into the future. Using a collection of climate models that are able to predict Earth’s future climate, the authors estimated that on a business-as-usual emissions pathway (where countries don’t meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions), asylum applications will increase by almost 200% by the end of the century. On the other hand, under a modest warming scenario, where humans take some meaningful action to reduce emissions, the increase falls to about 30%. Again, this shows that what humans do today to combat climate change really matters.

What was also interesting is that temperature is a better metric for this problem than precipitation. I wouldn’t have guessed that initially; my naïve expectation would be that precipitation changes would also be very good at allowing prediction of asylum seekers. But it turns out temperature is much better. The discussion by the authors also demonstrated how many moving parts there are to this problem. Not only are the economic, climate, and social situations in the source country important, but those factors in the destination country are also critical. People migrate to where they expect better conditions.

I spoke with the authors who told me this about their choice of using temperature as the metric for asylum applications:

There is an emerging literature linking various sectoral outcomes in a country to weather shocks (conflict, agricultural yields, energy demand, mortality, labor productivity, labor supply, etc.). Using temperature shocks is ideal from a statistical perspective; our statistical model is not new, but well established

With much study on the topic in recent years, I wanted to know what contribution this new paper had made (that wasn’t known already). They said this:

Click here to read the rest

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2

January 13, 2018 - 11:04am
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week.  Editor's Pick

Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam 

Harvesting rice. Phuong D. Nguyen /

The Vietnamese Mekong Delta is one of Earth’s most agriculturally productive regions and is of global importance for its exports of rice, shrimp, and fruit. The 18m inhabitants of this low-lying river delta are also some of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change. Over the last ten years around 1.7m people have migrated out of its vast expanse of fields, rivers and canals while only 700,000 have arrived.

On a global level migration to urban areas remains as high as ever: one person in every 200moves from rural areas to the city every year. Against this backdrop it is difficult to attribute migration to individual causes, not least because it can be challenging to find people who have left a region in order to ask why they went and because every local context is unique. But the high net rate of migration away from Mekong Delta provinces is more than double the national average, and even higher in its most climate-vulnerable areas. This implies that there is something else – probably climate-related – going on here.

Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam by Alex Chapman & Van Pham Dang Tri, The Conversation UK, Jan 9, 2018 

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New research, January 1-7, 2018

January 12, 2018 - 3:46pm

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

The figure is from paper #20.

Climate change

1. Climate Change on Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves: Results From a Regional Downscaled Ocean and Sea-Ice Model Under an A1B Forcing Scenario 2011–2069

"Over the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves during the projection period, the model shows general trends of warming, freshening, and decreasing ice. From 2011 to 2069, the model projects that under A1B sea surface temperature will increase by 1.4°C; bottom temperature will increase by 1.6°C; sea surface salinity will decrease by 0.7; bottom salinity will decrease by 0.3; and sea-ice extent will decrease by 70%. The sea level will rise by 0.11 m at the St. John's tide-gauge station because of oceanographic change, and the freshwater transport of the Labrador Current will double as a result of freshening."

2. Quantifying the effects of historical land cover conversion uncertainty on global carbon and climate estimates

Temperature and precipitation

3. A Comparative Study of Atmospheric Moisture Recycling Rate Between Observations and Models

4. Long-term rainfall regression surfaces for the Kruger National Park, South Africa: a spatio-temporal review of patterns from 1981 to 2015

5. The land and its climate knows no transition, no middle ground, everywhere too much or too little: a documentary-based climate chronology for central Namibia, 1845–1900

Extreme events

6. Intra-annual variability of heat wave episodes over the east coast of India

7. Quantifying the effect of autonomous adaptation to global river flood projections: application to future flood risk assessments

8. Projected signals in climate extremes over China associated with a 2 °C global warming under two RCP scenarios

9. Global mortality from storm surges is decreasing

"The occurrence of very substantial loss of life (>10 000 persons) from single events has however decreased over time. Moreover, there is a consistent decrease in event mortality, measured by the fraction of exposed people that are killed, for all global regions, except South East Asia. Average mortality for storm surges is slightly higher than for river floods, but lower than for flash floods. We also find that for the same coastal surge water level, mortality has decreased over time. This indicates that risk reduction efforts have been successful, but need to be continued with projected climate change, increased rates of sea-level rise and urbanisation in coastal zones."

Atmospheric and oceanic circulation

10. Multi-model evidence for an atmospheric circulation response to Arctic sea ice loss in the CMIP5 future projections

11. Large uncertainty in the relative rates of dynamical and hydrological tropical expansion

Climate forcings

12. Trends and Variability of Surface Solar Radiation in Europe based on Surface- and Satellite-based Data Records

"The results show an overall brightening period since the 1980's onwards (comprised between 1.9 and 2.4 W/m2/decade), with substantial decadal and spatial variability. The strongest brightening is found in Easter Europe in spring. An exception is found for Northern and Southern Europe, where the trends shown by the station data are not completely reproduced by satellite data, especially in summer in Southern Europe. We conclude that the major part of the observed trends in surface solar radiation in Europe is caused by changes in clouds and that remaining differences between the satellite- and the station-based data might be connected to changes in the direct aerosol effect and in snow cover."

13. Effects of model resolution and parameterizations on the simulations of clouds, precipitation, and their interactions with aerosols


14. Late summer frazil ice-associated algal blooms around Antarctica

15. Spring snow-albedo feedback analysis over the Third Pole: results from satellite observation and CMIP5 model simulations

16. Heterogeneous decadal glacier downwasting at the Mt. Everest (Qomolangma) from 2000 to ~ 2012 based on multi-baseline bistatic SAR interferometry

17. Future snowfall in the Alps: projections based on the EURO-CORDEX regional climate models

Carbon cycle

18. Carbon stocks and losses to deforestation in protected areas in Brazilian Amazonia

"In 2014, a total of 33.4 Pg C or 57.0% of all carbon stored in Legal Amazonia was held in protected areas and 32.7 Pg C or 58.5% of all the carbon stored in the Amazonia biome was held in protected areas. By 2014, carbon lost due to clearing in protected areas in Legal Amazonia and the Amazonia biome totaled, respectively, 0.787 (or 2.3%) and 0.702 (or 2.1%) Pg C if one assumes that previously each protected area was entirely covered by native vegetation."

19. Historical carbon fluxes in the expanding deforestation frontier of Southern Brazilian Amazonia (1985–2012)

"We show a 36% reduction in 1984s biomass carbon stocks, which led to the emission of 611.5 TgCO2 between 1985 and 1998 (43.6 TgCO2 year−1) and 959.8 TgCO2 over 1999–2012 (68.5 TgCO2 year−1). Overall, fragmentation-related carbon losses represented 1.88% of total emissions by 2012, with an increasing relevance since 2004."

20. Inorganic carbon and water masses in the Irminger Sea since 1991

21. The extent and predictability of the biodiversity–carbon correlation

22. Trends and variability of global fire emissions due to historical anthropogenic activities

23. Shrubland carbon sink depends upon winter water availability in the warm deserts of North America

Climate change impacts

Impacts to mankind

24. What helps people recover from floods? Insights from a survey among flood-affected residents in Germany

"We found that the amount of damage and other flood-event characteristics such as inundation depth are less important than socio-economic characteristics (e.g., sex or health status) and psychological factors (e.g., risk aversion and emotions)."

25. ENSO and Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in Association with Canadian Wheat Yield Variability

26. Is the participatory formulation of policy strategies worth the effort? The case of climate change adaptation in Austria

27. Climate change can reduce shrimp catches in equatorial Brazil

"Considering that both temperature and precipitation were important determinants of shrimp productivity, we estimated how such productivity would be affected by climate change. Our results suggest that these fisheries could collapse in a warmer and drier future, which is a possible scenario for the region."

28. The risk of tardive frost damage in French vineyards in a changing climate

"The risk of tardive frost will likely increase in the continental regions of France."

29. Household and community responses to impacts of climate change in the rural hills of Nepal

30. Mind the gap: The role of mindfulness in adapting to increasing risk and climate change

Impacts to nature

31. Basal resistance enhances warming tolerance of alien over indigenous species across latitude

"Using springtails as an exemplar taxon, widely known to have species-specific effects on below- and aboveground dynamics, we show that across a wide latitudinal span (16–54°S), alien species have greater ability to tolerate climate change-associated warming than do their indigenous counterparts. The consequences of such consistent differences are profound given globally significant invasions of soil systems by springtails."

32. Tree cover shows strong sensitivity to precipitation variability across the global tropics

33. The dark side of Lepidoptera: Colour lightness of geometrid moths decreases with increasing latitude

34. Distribution of planktonic biogenic carbonate organisms in the Southern Ocean south of Australia: a baseline for ocean acidification impact assessment

35. A mineralogical record of ocean change: Decadal and centennial patterns in the California mussel

"Shell mineralogy has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, despite evidence for consistent mineral structure in the California mussel, Mytilus californianus, over the prior 2500 years. We present evidence for increased disorder in the calcium carbonate shells of mussels and greater variability between individuals. These changes in the last decade contrast markedly from a background of consistent shell mineralogy for centuries."

36. What to eat in a warming world: do increased temperatures necessitate hazardous duty pay?

37. Observed trends of soil fauna in the Antarctic Dry Valleys: early signs of shifts predicted under climate change

"However, total abundance of soil fauna appears to be declining, as positive trends of the less common species so far have not compensated for the declining numbers of the dominant species."

38. The impact of sea ice conditions on breeding decisions is modulated by body condition in an arctic partial capital breeder

39. Canadian boreal forest greening and browning trends: an analysis of biogeographic patterns and the relative roles of disturbance versus climate drivers

Climate change mitigation

40. Analysis of 100% renewable energy for Iran in 2030: integrating solar PV, wind energy and storage

"A 100% renewable energy system for Iran is found to be a real policy option."

41. The role of regulatory learning in energy transition: The case of solar PV in Brazil

42. Distributions of carbon pricing on extraction, combustion and consumption of fossil fuels in the global supply-chain

43. Black carbon emissions from biomass and coal in rural China

44. China’s national emissions trading scheme: integrating cap, coverage and allocation

45. Emission factors of greenhouse gases from layer and broiler barns in Cameroon

46. Smart home technologies in everyday life: do they address key energy challenges in households?

"There is a risk that SHTs will lead more energy intensive ways of life."

47. Is coal extension a sensible option for energy planning? A combined energy systems modelling and life cycle assessment approach

"When compared to the reference scenario, the results show that coal extension could favour the penetration of renewables in the long term. Notwithstanding, this would come at the expense of undesirable increases in climate change and human health impacts. Consequently, the implementation of the sustainability dimension in energy plans could avoid a “coal conundrum” situation in Spain."

48. Willingness to know and talk: Citizen attitude toward energy and environmental policy deliberation in post-Fukushima Japan

49. A discussion on China's vehicle fuel policy: Based on the development route optimization of refining industry

50. The impacts of economic structure on China’s carbon dioxide emissions: an analysis with reference to other East Asian economies

51. Complexity ethics and UNFCCC practices for 1.5 °C climate change

52. Gendered discourse about climate change policies

53. Factors affecting energy-saving behaviours and energy efficiency investments in British households

54. Comparative Well-to-Tank energy use and greenhouse gas assessment of natural gas as a transportation fuel in Pakistan

"The results indicate that petroleum fuel have WtT efficiencies in the range of 82–86% while WtT efficiencies of natural gas based fuels are in the range of 75–88%. The results reveals that WtT GHG emission associated with CNG produced from indigenous natural gas sources are 16% and 21% higher than the gasoline and diesel fuel produced from ingenious crude oil, respectively. As compared to other countries, the WtT GHG emissions results of Pakistani petroleum and natural gas based fuels are 10% and 29 higher than those of the Europe mainly due to higher methane emission."

55. Annual methane and nitrous oxide emissions from rice paddies and inland fish aquaculture wetlands in southeast China

56. Nitrogen pollution: a key building block for addressing climate change

57. ‘Raising the temperature’: the arts in a warming planet

58. Environmental effects of Arctic oil spills and spill response technologies, introduction to a 5 year joint industry effort

59. Interpreting Images of Fracking: How Visual Frames and Standing Attitudes Shape Perceptions of Environmental Risk and Economic Benefit

60. Science Literacy or Value Predisposition? A Meta-Analysis of Factors Predicting Public Perceptions of Benefits, Risks, and Acceptance of Nuclear Energy

61. How do landowners learn about high-volume hydraulic fracturing? A survey of Eastern Ohio landowners in active or proposed drilling units

Other papers

62. Decline in Antarctic Ozone Depletion and Lower Stratospheric Chlorine Determined From Aura Microwave Limb Sounder Observations

63. Effects of undetected data quality issues on climatological analyses

The Key To Slowing Global Warming

January 10, 2018 - 6:27am

We all know that global warming is causing climate change characterised by increasingly severe weather events which damage property, destroy food crops and is likely to have catastrophic effects with multi metre sea level rise later this century. Strong winds and floods, forest fires and droughts are more common and cause damage which, each year, is more expensive to repair and may eventually be beyond repair.

We also know that the prime cause of global warming is human activity involving the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – to meet our energy needs for transport propulsion and electricity generation. At the same time, we are actively engaged in destruction of carbon sinks – forests and woodlands, warming oceans - in order to meet the needs of a burgeoning population, while also increasing the number of methane producing animals and crops such as cattle, chickens and rice.

Most of us realise that if we are to avoid catastrophic events in the future – or indeed survive as a species on this planet – we must, at the very least, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What has to be done?  It’s simple. Reduce and eventually stop burning fossil fuels, the major source of greenhouse gasses, and do so as rapidly as possible. We recognize the need to plant trees to replace those cut down and to modify our diet by replacing meat with other similar tasting nutritious products enabling reduction of animal herds and their emissions. Yet action taken globally is just the opposite of these measures.

There are two approaches to curbing use of fossil fuels: (a) make them more expensive by imposing a carbon tax on them and (b) provide an alternative renewable energy source which is cheaper, cleaner and more readily available.

A Carbon Tax

There are several problems with the first approach, the most significant of which are:

Participation: Although every country burns fossil fuels only 42 or 15% of 195 U.N Member Countries have any form of carbon tax. Those that do not have a carbon tax include Russia – a major emitter - most African nations and many Central, South American and Asian countries.

Application: Even when imposed, a Carbon tax is not always applied to all parts of a country. Japan is classified as having a Carbon Tax, even though it is only applied to the Greater Tokyo Area.

Tax Rate: The rate applied varies from country to country and in no jurisdiction does it appear sufficient to reduce emissions on its own. In some countries (Zimbabwe, South Africa) the rates are so low, they are totally ineffective and revenues tend not to be used to promote clean energy technology.

Exemptions: The tax is not uniformly applied to all sectors of the economy that produce carbon emissions. Several countries exempt their export sectors from the tax in order to maintain a trade advantage. Others only apply it to a single product, e.g. petrol or electricity generation but not both.

Oversight: There appears to be no international agency responsible for monitoring and reporting on the use/lack of use of a carbon tax by each country or its effectiveness in reducing carbon emissions globally.

Another problem is that a Carbon Tax penalizes users of fossil fuels, including the largest individual users, businesses. Producers and retailers of goods and services will pass those increased costs on to their customers and this can have an all-pervasive inflationary effects throughout the economy. Because of this its introduction is resisted by many countries and half-heartedly applied by others, making it ineffectual as a means of reducing fossil fuel consumption and not applied at all by a majority of countries.

There is no independent agency with responsibility for reporting on the way in which a carbon tax is applied or monitoring its effectiveness in reducing the emissions of individual countries. Consequently, there is no uniformity in the way such a tax is applied, no CO2 emissions reduction targets set and no uniform reporting of the extent to which they are achieved. As a result, emissions continue to rise and in 2017 are approaching 37 Gt/annum.

Clean Electricity

The second approach is to replace fossil fuels – used by every country - with energy generated from renewable sources - solar, wind, thermal, tidal and hydro, all of which are free. Solar and wind are available in all countries while thermal, tidal and hydro are available to most others. All offer an alternative to the use of fossil fuels, though at present, only thermal can assure continuity of supply sufficient to meet the growing, though fluctuating demand for electricity for domestic, industry and transport use.

In 2017 the cost of renewable energy continued to fall with wind energy in the USA as low as $20/mWh, solar thermal dispatchable falling to around $50/mWh with grid-scale photovoltaic below $40/mWh compared to existing coal-fired generation at $40/mWh and new coal fired generation at $60-$70/mWh.

The above shows that renewable sources are cheaper than new coal-fired generation and that the cost of solar is fast approaching that of existing coal fired power stations and is likely to be less by 2020. In Australia, where 75% of coal fired power stations are fast approaching their use-by-date(1), it is no longer commercially viable to replace them with fossil fuel generators. A similar situation exists in many other countries dependent on coal fired power.

Wind generation is already cheaper than burning fossil fuels and the cost of generating electricity by solar voltaic and solar concentrator technology is rapidly falling as its use increases. To ensure that electricity supply from renewable sources is both adequate and reliable, development of higher capacity and cheaper energy storage for quick and sustained release to the grid or major consumers during periods of sudden disruption and short term increase in demand, is essential.

This development is also essential to enable increased range of electric vehicles (EV’s) and reduction in their cost to the point where they are cheaper to own and operate than vehicles propelled by internal combustion engines. When this occurs - and it is likely within the next 5 years – there will be rapid and sustained uptake of EV’s for domestic, business and industrial use, expected to result in a decline in demand for and use of oil-based fuels, possibly by 50% by 2040 or sooner.

The singular difference between the two approaches, imposing a tax to discourage use of fossil fuels and replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy sources is that the former imposes an additional burden while the latter offers an incentive in the form of financial relief. Given the choice, nations and consumers will always resist additional costs but embrace measures which reduce their costs.

Energy Storage

Ability to reduce the cost and increase storage capacity of electricity is key to rapid displacement of fossil fuels as the source of generating electricity since it enables:

  • Solar and wind generators to provide dispatchable energy, making them a reliable alternative to use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.
  • Grid stability by both rapid and sustained discharge from storage facilities.
  • Use for transport propulsion providing high range and low cost will rapidly displace use of oil and its derivatives.

With the limited exception of solar concentrator facilities, solar and wind generators can only supply electricity when the sun shines and the wind blows. To meet demand, these generators must have capacity to produce and store electricity for release to the grid and consumers 24/7.

To this end, large scale storage may best be provided by pumped hydro where water is pumped to an elevated level using surplus energy generated when the sun shines/wind blows. Water is then released to spin a turbine during hours of darkness or calm, ensuring continuity of electricity supply. Most countries have numerous sites suitable for such schemes.


 The largest lithium-ion battery storage facility in the world – built by Tesla at Jamestown, South Australia in 2017. Photo: Neoen.

The facility has a total generation capacity of 100 megawatts, and 129 megawatt-hours of energy storage. The facility is capable of going from zero to 30MW (and vice versa) in 4 seconds and is able to ensure grid stability. Its capacity and versatility is expected to put downward pressure on electricity prices.

Grid-scale battery technology allows small but very rapid responses of less than 1 second to changes in grid stability, as well as providing much larger discharges for a limited period.

Vehicles of all kinds now propelled by oil-based fuels will, over the coming decade be replaced by motors fuelled by battery stored electricity. Technology advances have already increased the capacity of batteries enabling the building of road vehicles with a range of up to 500 km. However, battery costs, now around $140/kWh, need to fall below $100/kWh before the cost of electric vehicles (EV’s) can be priced at or below comparable vehicles propelled by fossil fuels.

When this occurs, likely before 2023, uptake of EV’s will be both rapid and sustained, displacing diesel, petrol and other oil-based fuels now used. Market forces will ensure that this change occurs. Given the choice of a fossil-fuelled vehicle or a cheaper to own and operate, equally reliable EV, consumers will buy electric.


As the effects of global warming increase (fires, severe storms, property loss, crop failures, floods), pressure will grow for all countries to adopt and apply financial measures (a carbon tax) which effectively curb CO2 emissions. There can be little doubt that financial measures can achieve this – but not the way they are currently applied. To overcome shortfalls described above, an international authority with responsibility for reporting annually on the effectiveness of financial measures and the performance of each UN Member Country, would appear to be needed.

These pressures, combined with market forces and national legislation banning fossil fuelled vehicles, will also put pressure on builders to produce and sell electric vehicles which are superior in terms of price and performance. This is beginning to happen with global electric vehicle sales likely to exceed 1 million in 2017. Sales are likely to rapidly increase and within the next 5 years cause a significant decline in the demand and use of oil-based products.

The transition from fossil fuel generation of electricity to renewable energy sources has already started and is irreversible. After 2020 it is unlikely that any fossil fuelled power station will be built anywhere in the world and, thereafter the use of existing stations is likely to decline with increasing speed. This trend will be enhanced by cheaper, denser and more compact storage of energy, enabling better management of local, national and international grids.

The present state of technology for improved battery storage, on which this transition largely depends, is not fully known since, for commercial reasons, advances in this area are kept secret. What is known is that battery costs continue to fall and their capacity continues to rise, giving more and more certainty it will result in use of fossil fuels ceasing before 2050, possibly sooner.


(1) The Retirement of Coal Fired Power Stations.  Engineers Australia submission to the Standing Committee for Environment and Communications inquiry. 10 November, 2016.

The 'imminent mini ice age' myth is back, and it's still wrong

January 9, 2018 - 2:08am

This post has been incorporated into the rebuttal to the myth A grand solar minimum could trigger another ice age

Roughly every two years we’re treated to headlines repeating the myth that Earth is headed for an imminent “mini ice age.” It happened in 20132015, and again just recently at the tail end of 2017.

This time around, the myth appears to have been sparked by a Sky News interview with Northumbria University mathematics professor Valentina Zharkova. The story was quickly echoed by the Daily MailInternational Business TimesSputnik NewsMetroTru News, and others. Zharkova was also behind the ‘mini ice age’ stories in 2015, based on her research predicting that the sun will soon enter a quiet phase.

The most important takeaway point is that the scientific research is clear – were one to occur, a grand solar minimum would temporarily reduce global temperatures by less than 0.3°C, while humans are already causing 0.2°C warming per decade

The global mean temperature difference is shown for the time period 1900 to 2100 for the IPCC A2 emissions scenario. The red line shows predicted temperature change for the current level of solar activity, the blue line shows predicted temperature change for solar activity at the much lower level of the Maunder Minimum, and the black line shows observed temperatures through 2010. Illustration: Adapted from Feulner & Rahmstorf (2010) in Geophysical Research Letters by

So the sun could only offset at most 15 years’ worth of human-caused global warming, and once its quiet phase ended, the sun would then help accelerate global warming once again.

The ‘mini ice age’ misnomer

The myth ultimately stems from a period climate scientists have coined “The Little Ice Age” (LIA). This was a modestly cool period running from about the year 1300 to 1850. It was particularly cold in the UK, where the Thames River sometimes froze over, and ‘frost fairs’ were held.

A team led by University of Reading physicist and solar expert Mike Lockwoodwrote a paper reviewing the science behind frost fairs, sunspots, and the LIA. It included the figure below showing northern hemisphere temperatures along with sunspot number and the level of volcanic particles in the atmosphere over the past millennium:

Sunspot number, northern hemisphere temperatures, and volcanic aerosol optical depth (AOD) around the time of the Little Ice Age. Illustration: Lockwood et al. (2017), News & Reviews in Astronomy & Geophysics

During full blown ice ages, temperatures have generally been 4–8°C colder than in modern times. As this figure shows, during the LIA, temperatures were at most only about 0.5°C cooler than the early 20th century. Thus, Lockwood calls the Little Ice Age “a total misnomer.” As the authors put it:

Compared to the changes in the proper ice ages, the so-called Little Ice Age (LIA) is a very short-lived and puny climate and social perturbation.

For comparison, temperatures have risen by a full 1°C over the past 120 years, and 0.7°C over just the past 40 years.

The minimal solar minima influence on the climate

The Maunder Minimum was a period of quiet solar activity between about 1645 and 1715. It’s often referred to interchangeably with ‘Little Ice Age,’ but the latter lasted centuries longer. In fact, three separate solar minima occurred during the LIA, which also included periods of relatively higher solar activity. Other factors like volcanic eruptions and human activities also contributed to the cool temperatures. In fact, a 2017 paper led by the University of Reading’s Mathew Owens concluded:

Climate model simulations suggest multiple factors, particularly volcanic activity, were crucial for causing the cooler temperatures in the northern hemisphere during the LIA. A reduction in total solar irradiance likely contributed to the LIA at a level comparable to changing land use [by humans].

Simulated northern hemisphere temperature changes resulting from individual climate factors, as compared to the observed changes in the top panel. The bottom panel shows a simulation with no changes to climatological factors, to illustrate the level of natural variability in the climate. Illustration: Owens et al. (2017), Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate

Several studies have investigated the potential climate impact of a future grand solar minimum. In every case, they have concluded that such a quiet solar period would cause less than 0.3°C cooling, which as previously noted, would temporarily offset no more than a decade and a half’s worth of human-caused global warming. These model-based estimates are consistent with the amount of cooling that occurred during the solar minima in the LIA.

Is another grand solar minimum imminent?

Although it would have a relatively small impact on the climate, it’s still an interesting question to ask whether we’re headed for another quiet solar period. Zharkova thinks so. Her team created a model that tries to predict solar activity, and suggests another solar minimum will occur from 2020 to 2055. However, other solar scientists have criticized the model as being too simple, created based on just 35 years of data, and failing to accurately reproduce past solar activity.

Ilya Usoskin, head of the Oulu Cosmic Ray Station and Vice-Director of the ReSoLVE Center of Excellence in Research, published a critique of Zharkova’s solar model making those points. Most importantly, the model fails in reproducing past known solar activity because Zharkova’s team treats the sun as a simple, predictable system like a pendulum. In reality, the sun has more random and unpredictable (in scientific terms, “stochastic”) behavior:

Click here to read the rest

Evaluating biases in Sea Surface Temperature records using coastal weather stations

January 8, 2018 - 7:47am

Science is hard. Some easy problems you can solve by hard work, if you are in the right place at the right time and have the right skills. Hard problems take the combined effort of multiple groups looking at the problem, publishing results and finding fault with eachother's work, until hopefully no-one can find any more problems. When problems are hard, you may have to publish something that even you don't think is right, but that might advance the discussion.

The calculation of an unbiased sea surface temperature record is a hard problem. Historical sea surface temperature observations come from a variety of sources, with early records being measured using wooden, canvas or rubber buckets (figure 1), later readings being taken from engine room intakes or hull sensors, and the most recent data coming from drifting buoys and from satellites.

Figure 1: Three types of buckets used in early sea surface temperature observations. From Folland (1995).

These different measurement methods give slightly different readings, with the transition from bucket to engine room observations during the second world war being particularly large: this represents the single largest correction to the historical temperature record, and reduces the estimated warming since the mid 19th century by 0.2-0.3 C compared to the uncorrected data (figure 2).

Figure 2: Difference between the historical temperature record using only raw observations, and using observations corrected for the effects of different measurement methods. The corrected data show less warming on a centenial timescale. From Zeke Hausfather.

Different approaches have been used to address the problem of combining different kinds of sea surface temperature observations. Records from the UK Met Office and from Japan use information about how the temperature was measured to correct for the type of instrument. The record from the US agency NOAA takes a different approach, using air temperature observations from ships to correct the water temperature readings. If both methods gave the same result, this would increase our confidence in the resulting record. But unfortunately the two approaches give rather different answers (figure 3).

Figure 3: Existing sea surface temperature records from the UK Met Office (HadSST3), from the US agency NOAA (ERSST), and from Japan (COBE-SST2). The lower panel shows the difference between the other records and the UK record.

We wanted to determine which approach was right, so we looked for another source of data which could be used to work out how to combine different types of sea surface temperature observations. Coastal weather stations provide air temperature observations covering the whole of the sea surface temperature record, and can be compared against sea surface temperature observations from ships passing close to the coast (Jones 1991). We assembled a dataset of about 2000 coastal weather stations, of which about 400 were located on small islands or peninsulas (figure 4).

Figure 4: Coastal weather stations used to detect the effect of different observation types in the sea surface temperature data.

Coastal air temperatures warm faster than sea surface temperatures, so first we had to scale the weather stations to preserve the sea surface temperature trend for recent decades. Then we used the coastal weather stations to determine the correction required to combine the sea surface temperature observations for each month in the record. This allowed us to create a new sea surface temperature record (figure 5).

Figure 5: Our new sea surface temperature record (the Hybrid SST) is compared to existing records from the UK Met Office (HadSST3), and the US agency NOAA (ERSST). For a comparison of the bucket correction to Jones (1991) see this figure.

Unfortunately the resulting record does not agree with either the UK or US sea surface temperature records. It does rule out an unexplained and contentious warm spike in the US record during World War 2. It also tends to reject an unexplained cool feature around 1910 which is present in all existing records. When our new record is compared with the average of many climate model simulations, the differences between the models and the observations are rather different than for existing records, and tend to be slightly reduced (figure 6).

Figure 6: Comparison of global temperature records based on either the UK Met Office sea surface temperature record (HadSST3), or our coastal hybrid record. The smoothed records are compared to the average of climate model simulations from the CMIP5 project. The lower panel shows the differences between each set of observations and the models

If the new record were correct, then it would suggest that climate models have been doing a better job than we thought, and there is little evidence of any difference between the models and observations in the total amount of warming. However we do not necessarily trust our new record, because of the assumptions we had to make in constructing it. The most important result of our work may therefore be to identify places where extra attention should be given to addressing problems in the existing sea surface temperature records. A secondary result is that caution is required when trying to draw conclusions about any differences between the models and the observations, whether it be to identify internal cycles of the climate system or problems in the models, because the differences that we do see are mostly within the range of uncertainty of the observations.

Some other relevant papers on this issue include:

2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #1

January 6, 2018 - 10:55am
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week.  Editor's Pick Show this cartoon to anyone who doubts we need huge action on climate change


This story focuses on a scenario from climate scientist Joeri Rogelj, which would give us a 66 percent chance at limiting warming to 2 degrees, which would requires no emissions by 2065, followed by negative emissions. But a previous version of this story said we would need to reach no emissions by 2050, which is part of a scenario in which we give ourselves a 50 percent chance at staying under 1.5 degrees warming — a far less realistic goal.

Show this cartoon to anyone who doubts we need huge action on climate change by Alvin Chang and David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Jan 5, 2018 

Links posted on Facebook

Sun Dec 31, 2017

Mon Jan 1, 2018

Tue Jan 2, 2018

Wed Jan 3, 2018

Thu Jan 4, 2018

Fri Jan 5, 2018

Sat Jan 6, 2018

New research, December 25-31, 2017

January 5, 2018 - 5:09pm

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

Climate change mitigation

1. Renewable technologies in Karnataka, India: jobs potential and co-benefits

"We show that enhancing green economy offers benefits that include the creation of jobs, but also delivers a much wider set of socio-economic and environmental welfare gains for emerging economies such as India."

2. Social acceptance of new energy technology in developing countries: A framing experiment in rural India

3. Public acceptance of household energy-saving measures in Beijing: Heterogeneous preferences and policy implications

4. Conceptualization of energy security in resource-poor economies: The role of the nature of economy

5. Climate Risk Management and the Electricity Sector

6. Multidimensional stress test for hydropower investments facing climate, geophysical and financial uncertainty

7. Assessing the role of artificially drained agricultural land for climate change mitigation in Ireland

8. Changing climate policy paradigms in Bangladesh and Nepal

Climate change

Temperature and Precipitation

9. Estimating sea surface temperature measurement methods using characteristic differences in the diurnal cycle

"Compared to existing estimates, we found a larger number of engine room-intake (ERI) reports post War World II and in the period 1960 – 1980. Differences in the inferred mixture of observations lead to a systematic warmer shift of the bias adjusted SST anomalies from 1980 compared to previous estimates, while reducing the ensemble spread. Changes in mean field differences between bucket and ERI SST anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere over the period 1955 – 1995 could be as large as 0.5 °C and are not well reproduced by current bias adjustment models."

10. PRECIS-projected increases in temperature and precipitation over Canada

11. Spatial and temporal variations in extreme temperature in Central Asia

"Results show that: (1) from 1981 to 2015, all extreme temperature values exhibited increasing trends on an annual scale, but maximum temperature (TMAX) increased faster than the minimum temperature (TMIN), leading to an overall increase in the diurnal temperature range (DTR)."

12. Quantifying recent precipitation change and predicting lake expansion in the Inner Tibetan Plateau

13. Trends of precipitation characteristics in the Czech Republic over 1961–2012, their spatial patterns and links to temperature and the North Atlantic Oscillation

14. Emergent behavior of Arctic precipitation in response to enhanced Arctic warming

15. Evaluating biases in Sea Surface Temperature records using coastal weather stations

"A preliminary sea surface temperature reconstruction homogenized using coastal weather station data suggests significant changes to the sea surface temperature record, although there are substantial uncertainties of which only some can be quantified. A large warm excursion in versions 4 and 5 of the NOAA Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature during World War 2 is rejected, as is a cool excursion around 1910 present in all existing records. The mid-century plateau is cooler than in existing reconstructions."

16. A comparison of recent trends in precipitation and temperature over Western and Eastern Eurasia

17. The importance of ocean dynamical feedback for understanding the impact of mid-high latitude warming on tropical precipitation change

18. Soil Moisture–Temperature Coupling in a Set of Land Surface Models

19. Non-linear trends and fluctuations in temperature during different growth stages of summer maize in the North China Plain from 1960 to 2014

Extreme events

20. Dominant Role of Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation in the Recent Decadal Changes in Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclone Activity

21. Storm Surge Reconstruction and Return Water Level Estimation in Southeast Asia for the 20th Century

22. Windstorms and forest disturbances in the Czech Lands: 1801–2015

Atmospheric and oceanic circulation

23. The interconnected global climate system – a review of tropical-polar teleconnections

24. The connection between the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation and the Indian summer monsoon in CMIP5 models

25. A multivariate estimate of the cold season atmospheric response to North Pacific SST variability


26. Temperature and snowfall in western Queen Maud Land increasing faster than climate model projections

"We determine that the recent snowfall increases in western Queen Maud Land (QML) are part of a long-term trend (+5.2±3.7% decade-1) and are unprecedented over the past two millennia. Warming between 1998 and 2016 is significant and rapid (+1.1±0.7 °C decade-1)."

27. Accurate coastal DEM generation by merging ASTER GDEM and ICESat/GLAS data over Mertz Glacier, Antarctica

28. Brine Convection, Temperature Fluctuations and Permeability in Winter Antarctic Land-Fast Sea Ice

29. Multiphase Reactive Transport and Platelet Ice Accretion in the Sea Ice of McMurdo Sound, Antarctic

30. Large Eddy Simulation of Heat Entrainment Under Arctic Sea Ice

31. Contribution of deformation to sea-ice mass balance: a case study from an N-ICE2015 storm

32. Diagnosing sea ice from the north american multi model ensemble and implications on mid-latitude winter climate

33. Influence of glacier melting and river discharges on the nutrient distribution and DIC recycling in the Southern Chilean Patagonia

Carbon Cycle

34. Carbon dioxide fluxes in the city centre of Arnhem, A middle-sized Dutch city

35. Current and future decadal trends in the oceanic carbon uptake are dominated by internal variability

Climate forcings

36. On the climate impacts of upper tropospheric and lower stratospheric ozone

Climate change impacts

Impacts to mankind

37. Understanding smallholder farmers’ capacity to respond to climate change in a coastal community in Central Vietnam

"Our findings show that farmers nowadays experience more extreme climate variability. Farmers report increasing stresses due to temperature increase and droughts." ... "Farmers report several barriers to implement adaptation strategies including; market price fluctuations, lack of skilled labour, lack of climate change information, and lack of capacity to learn and apply techniques in their daily practice."

38. Barometric pressure change and heart rate response during sleeping at ~ 3000 m altitude

39. Lightning-related fatalities in Romania from 1999 to 2015

40. Using simulations to forecast homeowner response to sea level rise in South Florida: Will they stay or will they go?

41. Assessing the role of farmer field schools in promoting pro-adaptive behaviour towards climate change among Jamaican farmers

42. Australian wheat production expected to decrease by the late 21st century

43. Barriers to implementing climate resilient agricultural strategies: The case of crop diversification in the U.S. Corn Belt

44. Climatically driven yield variability of major crops in Khakassia (South Siberia)

Impacts to nature

45. Climate warming and land-use changes drive broad-scale floristic changes in Southern Sweden

"Our results suggest that climate warming and changes in land use were the main drivers of changes in the flora during the last decades. Climate warming appeared as the most influential driver, with northern distribution limit explaining 30–60% of the variance in the GLMM models. However, the relative importance of the drivers differed among habitat types, with grassland species being affected the most by cessation of grazing/mowing and species of ruderal habitats by ongoing concentration of both agriculture and human population to the most productive soils. For wetland species, only pH optimum was significantly related to species performance, possibly an effect of the increasing humification of acidic water bodies. An observed relative decline of mycorrhizal species may possibly be explained by decreasing nitrogen deposition resulting in less competition for phosphorus. We found no effect of shortage or decline of pollinating lepidopterans and bees."

46. Advances in flowering phenology across the Northern Hemisphere are explained by functional traits

47. The efficiency of phenological shifts as an adaptive response against climate change: a case study of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean

48. Phenological cues intrinsic in indigenous knowledge systems for forecasting seasonal climate in the Delta State of Nigeria

49. Predicting autumn phenology: How deciduous tree species respond to weather stressors

50. The roots of the drought: Hydrology and water uptake strategies mediate forest-wide demographic response to precipitation

51. Latitudinal variation in responses of a forest herbivore and its egg parasitoids to experimental warming

On its hundredth birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming

January 1, 2018 - 2:25am

Benjamin Franta (@BenFranta) is a PhD student in history of science at Stanford University who studies the history of climate change science and politics. He has a PhD in applied physics from Harvard University and is a former research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

It was a typical November day in New York City. The year: 1959. Robert Dunlop, 50 years old and photographed later as clean-shaven, hair carefully parted, his earnest face donning horn-rimmed glasses, passed under the Ionian columns of Columbia University’s iconic Low Library. He was a guest of honor for a grand occasion: the centennial of the American oil industry. 

Over 300 government officials, economists, historians, scientists, and industry executives were present for the Energy and Man symposium – organized by the American Petroleum Institute and the Columbia Graduate School of Business – and Dunlop was to address the entire congregation on the “prime mover” of the last century – energy – and its major source: oil. As President of the Sun OilCompany, he new the business well, and as a director of the American Petroleum Institute – the industry’s largest and oldest trade association in the land of Uncle Sam – he was responsible for representing the interests of all those many oilmen gathered around him.

Four others joined Dunlop at the podium that day, one of whom had made the journey from California – and Hungary before that. The nuclear weapons physicist Edward Teller had, by 1959, become ostracized by the scientific community for betraying his colleague J. Robert Oppenheimer, but he retained the embrace of industry and government. Teller’s task that November fourth was to address the crowd on “energy patterns of the future,” and his words carried an unexpected warning:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am to talk to you about energy in the future. I will start by telling you why I believe that the energy resources of the past must be supplemented. First of all, these energy resources will run short as we use more and more of the fossil fuels. But I would [...] like to mention another reason why we probably have to look for additional fuel supplies. And this, strangely, is the question of contaminating the atmosphere. [....] Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. [....] The carbon dioxide is invisible, it is transparent, you can’t smell it, it is not dangerous to health, so why should one worry about it?

Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [....] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe.

How, precisely, Mr. Dunlop and the rest of the audience reacted is unknown, but it’s hard to imagine this being welcome news. After his talk, Teller was asked to “summarize briefly the danger from increased carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere in this century.” The physicist, as if considering a numerical estimation problem, responded: 

At present the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 2 per cent over normal. By 1970, it will be perhaps 4 per cent, by 1980, 8 per cent, by 1990, 16 per cent [about 360 parts per million, by Teller’s accounting], if we keep on with our exponential rise in the use of purely conventional fuels. By that time, there will be a serious additional impediment for the radiation leaving the earth. Our planet will get a little warmer. It is hard to say whether it will be 2 degrees Fahrenheit or only one or 5. 

But when the temperature does rise by a few degrees over the whole globe, there is a possibility that the icecaps will start melting and the level of the oceans will begin to rise. Well, I don’t know whether they will cover the Empire State Building or not, but anyone can calculate it by looking at the map and noting that the icecaps over Greenland and over Antarctica are perhaps five thousand feet thick.

And so, at its hundredth birthday party, American oil was warned of its civilization-destroying potential.

Talk about a buzzkill.

How did the petroleum industry respond? Eight years later, on a cold, clear day in March, Robert Dunlop walked the halls of the U.S. Congress. The 1967 oil embargo was weeks away, and the Senate was investigating the potential of electric vehicles. Dunlop, testifying now as the Chairman of the Board of the American Petroleum Institute, posed the question, “tomorrow’s car: electric or gasoline powered?” His preferred answer was the latter:

We in the petroleum industry are convinced that by the time a practical electric car can be mass-produced and marketed, it will not enjoy any meaningful advantage from an air pollution standpoint. Emissions from internal-combustion engines will have long since been controlled.

Dunlop went on to describe progress in controlling carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and hydrocarbon emissions from automobiles. Absent from his list? The pollutant he had been warned of years before: carbon dioxide.

We might surmise that the odorless gas simply passed under Robert Dunlop’s nose unnoticed. But less than a year later, the American Petroleum Institute quietly received a report on air pollution it had commissioned from the Stanford Research Institute, and its warning on carbon dioxide was direct: 

Click here to read the rest

2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #52

December 31, 2017 - 2:39pm

Happy New Year!... Story of the Week... Analysis of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week...  SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year from the all-volunteer, SkS author team!

Story of the Week...

How We Know It Was Climate Change


Flooding south of Houston in September in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Credit Barbara Davidson for The New York Times

This was a year of devastating weather, including historic hurricanes and wildfires here in the United States. Did climate change play a role? Increasingly, scientists are able to answer that question — and increasingly, the answer is yes.

My lab recently published a new framework for examining connections between global warming and extreme events. Other scientists are doing similar research. How would we go about testing whether global warming has influenced the events that occurred this year?

Consider Hurricane Harvey, which caused enormous destruction along the Gulf Coast; it will cost an estimated $180 billion to recover from the hurricane’s storm surge, high winds and record-setting precipitation and flooding. Did global warming contribute to this disaster?

The word “contribute” is key. This doesn’t mean that without global warming, there wouldn’t have been a hurricane. Rather, the question is whether changes in the climate raised the odds of producing extreme conditions. 

How We Know It Was Climate Change, Opinion by Noah S Diffenbach, Sunday Review, New York Times, Dec 29, 2017

Analysis of the Week...

The President Doesn't Care to Understand Global Warming

President Trump departs for holiday travel to his Mar-a-Lago estate on Friday, December 22

In the first novel ever written about Sherlock Homes, we learn something peculiar about the London detective. Holmes, supposedly a modern man and a keen expert in the workings of the world, does not know how the solar system works. Specifically he is unfamiliar with the heliocentric Copernican model, which, upon its slow acceptance in the 17th century, revolutionized Western thought about the place of our species in the universe.

“What the deuce is it to me?” Holmes asks his sputtering soon-to-be sidekick, Dr. Watson. “You say that we go ’round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

Brains are a kind of “little empty attic,” says the detective, and they should be filled only with furniture that’s useful to one’s line of work. Holmes doesn’t doubt the Copernican model; he simply has no use for it in solving murder cases. “Now that I do know it,” he adds, “I shall do my best to forget it.”

Thursday night, as record lows gripped most of the country’s northern half, President Trump clarified that he does not understand another revolution in our knowledge of the natural order of things: the theory of human-driven climate change.

The President Doesn't Care to Understand Global Warming by Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, Dec 29, 2017 

Toon of the Week...


Quote of the Week...

I like to think of the Earth’s climate like a heavy train. A train cannot stop quickly; the brakes have to be applied far ahead of an obstacle. The ocean is our “climate train.”

US government climate report looks at how the oceans are buffering climate change by John Abraham, Climate Consensus - the 97%, Guardian, Dec 26, 2017 

Coming Soon on SkS...
  • On its hundredth birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming' (Ben Franta)
  • 2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño, thanks to global warming (Dana)
  • SkS Year in Review (Baerbel)
  • Guest Post (John Abraham)
  • New research this week (Ari)
  • 2018 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #1 (John Hartz)
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Waming Digest #1 (John Hartz)
Poster of the Week...


SkS Week in Review...  97 Hours of Consensus...



John Mitchell's bio page and Quote source

High resolution JPEG (1024 pixels wide)

2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #52

December 30, 2017 - 1:51pm
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week.  Editor's Pick

Vive la résistance: 10 ways people stood up for the planet in 2017


Grist / Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty Images

One year ago, we wondered what would happen after a man who called climate change a Chinese hoax was elected president of the United States.

Certainly, 2017 will be remembered for a series of cringe-worthy political appointments, disappointing regulatory repeals, and controversial executive actions — not to mention Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Agreement. But it was also a year that birthed a new band of scrappy resisters who fought the climate-change denying, regulation-repealing powers that be.

As a result, 2017 was actually a pretty impressive year for resistance — and here are some of the efforts that led that charge: 

Vive la résistance: 10 ways people stood up for the planet in 2017 by Justine Calma, Grist, Dec 27, 2017

Links posted on Facebook

Sun Dec 24, 2017

Mon Dec 25, 2017

Tue Dec 26, 2017

Wed Dec 27, 2017

Thu Dec 28, 2017

Fri Dec 29, 2017

Sat Dec 30, 2017

New research, December 18-24, 2017

December 29, 2017 - 6:06am

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

The figure is from paper #62.

Climate change impacts

1. The Sectoral and Regional Economic Consequences of Climate Change to 2060

"The model results show that damages are projected to rise twice as fast as global economic activity; global annual Gross Domestic Product losses are projected to be 1.0–3.3% by 2060. Of the impacts that are modelled, impacts on labour productivity and agriculture are projected to have the largest negative economic consequences. Damages from sea level rise grow most rapidly after the middle of the century. Damages to energy and tourism are very small from a global perspective, as benefits in some regions balance damages in others. Climate-induced damages from hurricanes may have significant effects on local communities, but the macroeconomic consequences are projected to be very small. Net economic consequences are projected to be especially large in Africa and Asia, where the regional economies are vulnerable to a range of different climate impacts. For some countries in higher latitudes, economic benefits can arise from gains in tourism, energy and health. The global assessment also shows that countries that are relatively less affected by climate change may reap trade gains."

2. An ecophysiological perspective on likely giant panda habitat responses to climate change

"In general, SAA [suitable activity area] in the hottest month (July) would reduce 11.7-52.2% by 2070, which is more moderate than predicted bamboo habitat loss (45.6-86.9%). Limited by the availability of bamboo and forest, panda's suitable habitat loss increases, and only 15.5-68.8% of current HSH would remain in 2070."

3. Temperature is the main correlate of the global biogeography of turtle body size

"Mean annual temperature was the main correlate of body size for the whole group and for terrestrial turtles in both approaches, having a positive correlation with this trait. Body sizes of aquatic turtles were not influenced by any of the tested variables. In the cross-species approach we also found that temperature variation since the LGM was an important positive correlate of body size in terrestrial turtles."

4. Screening criteria for increased susceptibility to heat stress during work or leisure in hot environments in healthy individuals aged 31–70 years

5. Agricultural policy and climate change: An integrated assessment of the impacts on an agricultural area of Southern Italy

6. Combined effects of climate and land-use change on the provision of ecosystem services in rice agro-ecosystems

7. Mainstreaming climate change adaptation into the European Union’s development assistance

8. Re-thinking the present: The role of a historical focus in climate change adaptation research

9. Differentiating environmental concern in the context of psychological adaption to climate change

10. Designing connected marine reserves in the face of global warming

11. Sensitivity to ocean acidification differs between populations of the Sydney rock oyster: Role of filtration and ion-regulatory capacities

12. Effects of ocean acidification with pCO2 diurnal fluctuations on survival and larval shell formation of Ezo abalone, Haliotis discus hannai

13. Experimental evidence for reduced mortality of Agaricia lamarcki on a mesophotic reef

14. Tolerance and potential for adaptation of a Baltic Sea rockweed under predicted climate change conditions

15. Long-term increases in tropical flowering activity across growth forms in response to rising CO2 and climate change

16. Observed and simulated sensitivities of spring greenup to preseason climate in northern temperate and boreal regions

17. Challenging a 15-year old claim: The NAO index as a predictor of spring migration phenology of birds

18. Contrasting above- and belowground organic matter decomposition and carbon and nitrogen dynamics in response to warming in High Arctic tundra

Climate change mitigation

19. The impact of the US retreat from the Paris Agreement: Kyoto revisited?

"We find that differences across the two treaties relating to the first three factors are more likely to reduce the negative ramifications of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement compared to the Kyoto Protocol. However, the increased urgency of deep decarbonization renders US non-participation a major concern despite its declining share of global emissions. Moreover, key design features of the Paris Agreement suggest that other countries may react to the US decision by scaling back their levels of ambition and compliance, even if they remain in the Agreement."

20. Echo Chambers of Denial: Explaining User Comments on Climate Change

"The results show that users adapt to the dominant opinion within the respective media outlet: user comment sections serve as echo chambers rather than as corrective mechanisms. Climate change denial is more visible in user comment sections in countries where the climate change debate reflects the scientific consensus on climate change and user comments create niches of denial."

21. Public attitudes about climate policy options for aviation

"The findings indicate that there is significant support across demographic groups for a large number of policies, particularly those that place financial or regulatory burdens on industry rather than on individuals directly. Support for aviation policies strengthens with pro-environmental attitudes and is weaker among people who are aeromobile. Though self-interested considerations appeared to dominate policy option preferences, concern for fairness may also shape policy acceptability."

22. The effectiveness of climate clubs under Donald Trump

23. Beyond headline mitigation numbers: we need more transparent and comparable NDCs to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change

24. Mapping states’ Paris climate pledges: Analysing targets and groups at COP 21

25. Cost-effectiveness of reducing emissions from tropical deforestation, 2016–2050

26. International organizations, advocacy coalitions, and domestication of global norms: Debates on climate change in Canada, the US, Brazil, and India

27. The role of economic perceptions in influencing views on climate change: an experimental analysis with British respondents

28. Challenges to addressing non-CO2 greenhouse gases in China’s long-term climate strategy

29. Economic and environmental effects of a CO2 tax in Latin American countries

30. The welfare effects of energy price changes due to energy market reform in Mexico

31. Narrative matters for sustainability: the transformative role of storytelling in realizing 1.5°C futures

32. Reconstructed and Projected U.S. Residential Natural Gas Consumption During 1896-2043

33. Technical skills, disinterest and non-functional regulation: Barriers to building energy efficiency in Finland viewed by energy service companies

34. Trade-offs and synergies between universal electricity access and climate change mitigation in Sub-Saharan Africa

35. Seasonal fuel consumption, stoves, and end-uses in rural households of the far-western development region of Nepal

36. Discussion on the effectiveness of cement replacement for carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reduction in concrete

37. Quantifying drivers of variability in life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of consumer products—a case study on laundry washing in Europe

38. Climate engineering and the ocean: effects on biogeochemistry and primary production

39. Cleaning up nitrogen pollution may reduce future carbon sinks

Climate change

40. Will half a degree make a difference? Robust projections of indices of mean and extreme climate in Europe under 1.5°C, 2°C, and 3°C global warming

"Compared to 1.5°C world, a further 0.5°C warming results in a robust change of minimum summer temperature indices (mean, Tn10p and Tn900p) over more than 70% of Europe. Robust changes (more than 0.5°C) in maximum temperature affects smaller areas (usually less than 20%). There is a substantial non-linear change of fixed-threshold indices, with more than 60% increase of the number of tropical nights over southern Europe, and more than 50% decrease in the number of frost days over central Europe."

41. Temperature and humidity based projections of a rapid rise in global heat stress exposure during the 21st century

"We project that by 2080 the relative frequency of present-day extreme wet bulb temperature events could rise by a factor of 100–250 (approximately double the frequency change projected for temperature alone) in the tropics and parts of the mid-latitudes, areas which are projected to contain approximately half the world's population. In addition, population exposure to wet bulb temperatures that exceed recent deadly heat waves may increase by a factor of five to ten, with 150–750 million person-days of exposure to wet bulb temperatures above those seen in today's most severe heat waves by 2070–2080. Under RCP 8.5, exposure to wet bulb temperatures above 35 °C—the theoretical limit for human tolerance—could exceed a million person-days per year by 2080. Limiting emissions to follow RCP 4.5 entirely eliminates exposure to that extreme threshold."

42. Interactions between hydrological sensitivity, radiative cooling, stability and low-level cloud amount feedback

43. The impacts of oceanic deep temperature perturbations in the North Atlantic on decadal climate variability and predictability

44. Autumn Cooling of Western East Antarctica Linked to the Tropical Pacific

45. High resolution temperature datasets in Portugal from a geostatistical approach: variability and extremes

46. North Pacific Influences on Long Island Sound Temperature Variability

47. Changes in surface air temperature over China under the 1.5 and 2.0 °C global warming targets

48. A new assessment of modern climate change, China—An approach based on paleo-climate

49. Changes in “hotter and wetter” events across China

50. Comparing proxy and model estimates of hydroclimate variability and change over the Common Era

51. Intensified East Asian summer monsoon and associated precipitation mode shift under the 1.5 °C global warming target

52. Spatial distribution of the daily precipitation concentration index in Southern Russia

53. Alpine foreland running drier? Sensitivity of a drought vulnerable catchment to changes in climate, land use, and water management

54. Breakdown of the relationship between Australian summer rainfall and ENSO caused by tropical Indian Ocean SST warming

55. ENSO modulation of seasonal rainfall and extremes in Indonesia

56. On the fragile relationship between El Niño and California rainfall

57. Relationships of Rainy Season Precipitation and Temperature to Climate Indices in California: Long-Term Variability and Extreme Events

58. Large-scale heavy precipitation over central Europe and the role of atmospheric cyclone track types

59. Attributing drivers of the 2016 Kenyan drought

60. 20th-century regional climate change in the central United States attributed to agricultural intensification

61. Future projections of active-break spells of Indian summer monsoon in a climate change perspective

62. Gradients of column CO2 across North America from the NOAA Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network

63. Influence of vegetation growth on the enhanced seasonality of atmospheric CO2

64. Modeling the origin of anthropogenic black carbon and its climatic effect over the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding regions

65. Non-Redfieldian Dynamics Explain Seasonal pCO2 Drawdown in the Gulf of Bothnia

66. Low pCO2 under sea-ice melt in the Canada Basin of the western Arctic Ocean

67. Satellite evidence that E. huxleyi phytoplankton blooms weaken marine carbon sinks

68. Unravel causes for the changing behavior of tropical Indian Ocean in the past few decades

69. Comparison of methodologies for cloud cover estimation in Brazil - A case study

70. Evaluation of different methods to model near-surface turbulent fluxes for a mountain glacier in the Cariboo Mountains, BC, Canada

71. Analysis of thickness changes and the associated driving factors on a debris-covered glacier in the Tienshan Mountain

72. Arctic sea-ice loss in different regions leads to contrasting Northern Hemisphere impacts

73. Impact of winter Ural blocking on Arctic sea ice: Short-time variability

74. How much should we believe correlations between Arctic cyclones and sea ice extent?

75. Prospects for seasonal forecasting of iceberg distributions in the North Atlantic

76. The role of ions in new particle formation in the CLOUD chamber

Other papers

77. Tree-ring growth shows that the population decline started decades before the Black Death in Norway

"Since many of these fast-growing trees germinated in the early-14th century and the number of dated buildings drops dramatically several decades before the plague, the Black Death can hardly be the only reason for the population decline in Norway and some environmental impact must have occurred decades earlier. The dendroclimatological evidence of cold and wet summers in the years before the plague is suggestive, but historical sources also pinpoint famine due to crop failure. They also tell of farms being abandoned several decades before the plague and mention periods of heavy rainfall and famine in the early-14th century."

78. Evidence for the thermal bleaching of Porites corals from 4.0 ka BP in the northern South China Sea

"The results show that growth hiatuses and mortalities mainly occurred in summer, with high SST (31 – 34 °C) and SSS (32.8 – 38.4). In addition, abrupt negative shifts of 2 – 3‰ in δ13C were observed in almost all of the surfaces of growth hiatus and mortality, indicating adramatically reduced level of photosynthetic activity in symbiotic zooxanthellae. Because of the above reasons, we conclude that the frequently observed mortality and growth discontinuity of Porites corals from the mid-Holocene is evidence for thermal bleaching events in the past. That is, coral bleaching has occurred 3800-4200 years ago and is not a new phenomenon."

79. Biome stability in South America over the last 30 kyr: Inferences from long-term vegetation dynamics and habitat modelling

80. Creating a seamless 1 km resolution daily land surface temperature dataset for urban and surrounding areas in the conterminous United States

81. The Arctic System Reanalysis Version 2

82. Historical cropland expansion and abandonment in the continental U.S. during 1850 to 2016

83. The climate of the Common Era off the Iberian Peninsula

From the eMail Bag: Carbon Isotopes, Part 2: The Delta Notation

December 28, 2017 - 3:43am

We occasionally receive excellent questions and/or comments by email or via our contact form and have then usually corresponded with the emailer directly. But, some of the questions and answers deserve a broader audience, so we decided to highlight some of them in a new series of blog posts.

In Part 1, we learned about carbon isotopes: how 14C forms in the atmosphere, how different isotopes move through the Carbon Cycle, and how isotopic measurements reveal clues about our changing climate. In this post we will look at how measurements of changing isotopic ratios are described.

Here, again, is the IPCC graph (Figure 1) illustrating the rise in atmospheric CO2 (panel a, black saw-toothed line) and the decreasing 13C:12C ratio in the same CO2 (panel b, red line).

Figure 1. Recent CO2 concentrations and emissions. (a) CO2 concentrations over the period 1970 to 2005 from Mauna Loa, Hawaii (black) and Baring Head, New Zealand (blue). In the lower right of the panel, atmospheric oxygen (O2) measurements from flask samples are shown from Alert, Canada (pink) and Cape Grim, Australia (cyan). (b) Annual global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement manufacture in GtC yr–1 (black) through 2005. Annual averages of the 13C/12C ratio measured in atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa from 1981 to 2002 (red) are also shown. The isotope data are expressed as δ13C(CO2) ‰ (per mil) deviation from a calibration standard. Note that this scale is inverted to improve clarity. (IPCC, AR4)

One of our readers was puzzled by this graph (which appears in our rebuttal "How do human CO2 emissions compare to natural CO2 emissions?") and emailed us these questions about it:

Can you help me interpret the red line? Does it indicate a decline (negative change) in the C13 isotope (i.e.  -7.7 = -7.7 parts per thousands) or are the values showing a ratio of C13/C12 because of the delta symbol? If the red values do represent a ratio can you illustrate with a hypothetical example how a negative value was calculated; for instance how do you get a negative value by comparing C13 with C12 (I would have thought a ratio would produce a fraction of some sort)?

The concentration of atmospheric CO2 is most commonly measured in parts per million (ppm) as seen in the top (a) panel of the graph. The current value is about 405 ppm, which means that for every million molecules in a sample of air there are 405 CO2 molecules. This can be shown as a fraction or a ratio:

or as a decimal: 0.000405

We can also turn this into a percentage:

The carbon isotope ratios are measured in something quite different: the δ-value or notation: δ13C(CO2)‰, or "delta 13C (of CO2) per mil". The "per mil" (symbol: ‰) might lead you to think that this too is a measure of concentration, except, instead of a percentage ("per cent" or "per 100") the carbon isotopes might be a measure of "per mil" or "per 1000". But this is not the case. (Or try this link if that last one doesn’t work.)

Here is the equation used to calculate the δ-value:

Notice that this equation contains a multiplication by 1000, which is where the "per mil" comes from. The values are multiplied by 1000 because they are very small numbers and this multiplication trick makes the values more "user-friendly". Look again at the IPCC graph which gives the δ-value in 1981 as -7.6‰, the "per mil" symbol tells us that the original value was multiplied by 1000, thus the original value was -0.0076.

But what does -0.0076 mean? Has the 13C decreased by 0.0076...somethings?

Look again at the δ-value equation. You can see that the top part of the fraction within the bracket is the ratio of 13C:12C from some sample containing carbon. The bottom part of the fraction is another 13C:12C ratio from a standard sample which has a known, unchanging ratio of 13C:12C. For carbon isotopes, the standard used is a limestone formation from South Carolina called the Pee Dee Belemnite (or PDB)1, which has an unusually high amount of 13C.

The δ-value is basically a ratio of ratios and can be thought of as a scale to compare different isotope ratios (Figure 2). The standard sample is the zero point of this scale. If there is more 13C in our sample than in the standard, then the δ-value will be positive; if there is less 13C in our sample than in the standard, then the δ-value will be negative. The δ-value doesn't give us a specific number about our sample, as in x ppm of 13C, rather it tells us the relative difference between the sample and the standard.

Figure 2. Isotopic ratios of samples are compared to an unchanging isotopic ratio of a standard. The standard defines the zero point of the scale. Samples with more 13C than the standard will have positive δ13C values, while samples with less 13C than the standard will have negative δ13C values.

Why not just give us the specific numbers of carbon isotopes? (Show me the data!) Isotope ratios are measured by mass spectrometers but it is impossible for these devices to perfectly measure the 13C to 12C ratio in a sample. Lauren Shoemaker, in her in-depth NOAA website on isotopes, explains:

Isotope ratio mass spectrometers measure relative isotopic ratios much better than actual ratios. By comparing to a standard, the precision of the data values are much, much better since all values are relative to a given standard.

She also points out that δ-values make it "easier to compare results both among isotope laboratories and within a single laboratory over a long time period".

Delta-values also make the numbers associated with isotopic ratios much more "user-friendly". To see this let's work through some examples using the δ-value formula. The IPCC graph shows that in 1981 the δ-value for atmospheric CO2 was -7.6‰. The PDB standard ratio is 0.011237. With these two numbers we have enough information to calculate what the 13C:12C ratio was in 1981:

This works out to a ratio of 0.0111516 for the 1981 sample. For 2002 the δ-value was -8.1‰, which gives a ratio of 0.0111459.

Let’s broaden our view out a bit further than that twenty year time span. This graph in Figure 3 (from CSIRO, the Australian agency for scientific research) shows that before the Industrial Revolution the δ-value was -6.5‰. In today's atmosphere, the 13C:12C ratios give a δ-value of -8.5‰.

Figure 3. There has been an increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 (in red), as identified by the trend in the ratio of different types (isotopes) of carbon in atmospheric CO2 (in black, from the year 1000). CO2 and the carbon-13 isotope ratio in CO2 (δ13C) are measured from air in Antarctic ice and firn (compacted snow) samples from the Australian Antarctic Science Program, and at Cape Grim (northwest Tasmania). (Copyright CSIRO Australia).

The table below shows the δ-values for various times along with the corresponding isotopic ratios, expressed both as decimals and as percentages of 13C and 12C in the atmospheric samples. You can see why scientists use δ-values rather than the actual 13C:12C ratio numbers, which only show changes far to the right of the decimal points! These ratios change by very small amounts over time, but they clearly illustrate big changes in the atmosphere's composition of 13C and 12C, pointing to the fossil fuel origins of more and more of the atmosphere's CO2.

Here is one final comparison to help make the δ-values more understandable. Annual global average temperatures are usually presented as anomalies with reference to some "base period". Figure 4 is a familiar graph of this from NASA-GISS with data from 1880 to 2016. The "base period" for this graph is 1951-19802, the annual temperatures for these thirty years are averaged together and this is set as the zero point of the anomaly scale. So, the base period is like the standard sample used as the zero point in the δ-notation scale. Then, each individual year's data point is compared to that zero point. If a year's temperature was warmer than the base period, then the anomaly for that year is positive, such as 2016's record high anomaly of 0.99°C. This is comparable to positive δ-values. Years with colder values than the base period would be negative, like 1904's record low value of -0.5°C. This is similar to the negative δ-values described above.

Figure 4. Land-ocean temperature index, 1880 to present, with base period 1951-1980. The solid black line is the global annual mean and the solid red line is the five-year lowess smooth. The blue uncertainty bars (95% confidence limit) account only for incomplete spatial sampling. (NASA-GISS).

In both instances, δ-values and temperature anomalies, cumbersome numbers are converted into more meaningful and useful values. In the case of δ-values, very very small changes in isotopic ratios in the natural environment are more easily described, and we can see more clearly how the Earth's climate system works and changes over time.

1. "The original PDB sample was a sample of fossilized shells of an extinct organism called a belemnite (something like a shelled squid) collected decades ago from the banks of the Pee Dee River in South Carolina. The original sample was used up long ago, but other reference standards were calibrated to that original sample. We still report carbon isotope values relative to PDB but now use the term "VPDB" ["Vienna Pee Dee Belemnite"] to indicate that the data are normalized to the values of that standard." (USGS).

2. Any time period, and any length of time, may be used. A thirty year period is often used because thirty years is a long enough time to describe "average" climate variables.


US government climate report looks at how the oceans are buffering climate change

December 26, 2017 - 1:44am

In the recently released US Global Change Research Program Report, one of the chapters I was most interested in was about the changes we’ve observed in the world’s oceans. The oceans are really the key to the climate change issue, whether that be in quantifying how fast it’s happening or how much will happen in the future. As humans emit greenhouse gases (particularly carbon dioxide), we see some major changes that cannot be explained naturally.

The oceans are important because they act as a buffer; that is, they absorb much of the effects of greenhouse gases. In fact, the oceans absorb a lot of human carbon pollution. This is a big help for us because without the oceans, the climate would change much faster. 

But in a certain way, the oceans are hurting us too. Since the oceans absorb so much of our carbon pollution and the resulting heat (93% of the extra heat), they turn a short-term problem into a long-term problem. Just like a fly wheel can be used to store rotating energy in a machine, the oceans store heat energy and chemical energy that can later manifest itself. The oceans also impact our psychology. The pollution we emit today will have effects for many years (partly because of the oceans). We cannot just stop emitting pollution and think this problem will immediately go away. We have to plan ahead. And, importantly, we have to stop emitting before most of the effects are evident.

I like to think of the Earth’s climate like a heavy train. A train cannot stop quickly; the brakes have to be applied far ahead of an obstacle. The ocean is our “climate train.”

Okay with that, what did this new report show? There were four key findings the authors cited. First, as I mentioned, they report that the oceans are absorbing almost all the heat from greenhouse gases. Over the past six decades, the amount of heat at all levels of the ocean has increased. This heating will continue into the future with approximately 5°F warming by the year 2100. This may not sound like much, but it is really enormous heating for water. When oceans warm, sea levels rise (warming water expands). Warm water also evaporates much faster to the air so that the atmosphere becomes more humid, resulting in more heavy rainfalls and flooding.

The figure below shows the changes in ocean heat (OHC) measured in Joules (a unit of energy).

Ocean heat content data. Illustration: USGCRP report, originally from Cheng et al., 2017

A second conclusion is that the heat may lead to major changes in the ocean currents. There is a really important flow of ocean waters called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. It is a stream of water that passes from the warm tropics up toward Europe. Then the water gets cold and dense, sinks, and flows back towards the equator. This current is responsible for the warm wet weather in England, for example (compared with other locations with the same latitude). The report discusses a potential weakening of this current. If the current were to weaken (or stop altogether), there would be major effects to the weather in Europe and North America.

A third conclusion from the report is that the oceans are absorbing a lot of the human carbon pollution. For instance, the oceans currently absorb more than one-quarter of carbon from burning fossil fuels. One consequence of this is the oceans are becoming more acidic. The carbon dioxide is changing the ocean chemistry.

The simple way to think about this is to consider a soda. If you shake a soda and then open the soda, it will fuzz and bubble. This happens because sodas are carbonated beverages. When a soda fizzes, the carbon dioxide is leaving the liquid. What we are doing to the oceans is the reverse process. We are putting carbon dioxide into the ocean waters. Through various chemical processes, it makes the oceans more acidic and that matters for animals that make shells. For many of these animals – particularly those at the base of the food chain – acidic waters can dissolve shells or make them hard to form in the first place. This really matters because if the food chain collapses, then marine ecosystems and human society suffer.

Click here to read the rest

Some curious things about Svensmark et al. reference list

December 25, 2017 - 8:14pm

The hypothesis of significant effect of cosmic-rays to climate has been shown wrong many times. This is a pet hypothesis of Henrik Svensmark, who continues to push papers on the subject to scientific journals. A few days ago, the journal Nature Communications published a paper of Svensmark (& co-workers). I checked out its reference list because I think that some indicators of the quality of a paper can be found simply by checking the reference list, and how references are used.

S17 reference list - first impressions

I immediately noticed a few things about S17 reference list. I made some tweets (@AGWobserver) where I mention them:

The Kulmala et al. paper I mention there is this one: "Atmospheric data over a solar cycle: no connection between galactic cosmic rays and new particle formation". It shows results against Svensmark's hypothesis, but it is not cited by S17. The mentioned paper list in my tweets is this one from my blog AGW Observer: "Papers on the non-significant role of cosmic rays in climate".

One Kulmala team paper S17 cites is "Detecting charging state of ultra-fine particles: instrumental development and ambient measurements" (Laakso et al. 2007). S17 uses it in this context: "Cosmic rays are the main producers of ions in Earth’s lower atmosphere21." (21 is the S17 reference list number for the Laakso et al. paper.) This is strange because Laakso et al. don't say anything about cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are mentioned only in their reference list in the title of Eichkorn et al. (2002) paper, and Laakso et al. refer to it in this context: "Ion mass spectrometers have been used successfully in the studies of new particle formation in the upper atmosphere (Eichkorn et al., 2002)." Furthermore, as Svensmark's cosmic ray hypothesis relies on ion induced nucleation, it is noteworthy that one of Laakso et al. conclusions is this: "During a large fraction of days considered here, the contribution of ion-induced nucleation to the total nucleation rate was either negligible or relatively small." To me it seems that either S17 is citing a wrong paper here, or then the cosmic ray ion production thing is implicitly in Laakso et al. results and I just don't see it.

Svensmark et al. paper was also discussed in …and Then There's Physics. In the comments there, one commenter ("dikranmarsupial") noted an issue that relates to the reference list issues I'm discussing here:

It is hard to see how this made it through peer review when it cites early work on the CLOUD project, but not it’s negative (for the argument of the paper) outcome. Surely reviewers competent to review the paper would be aware that the CLOUD project doesn’t support Svensmark’s hypothesis?

S17 reference list - comparison with other paper

I decided to look S17 reference list further. I chose a comparison paper, Gordon et al. (2017, "G17"), which is a research paper on the same issue than S17. Both papers have been published and submitted to their journals during 2017, S17 in May 10 and G17 in March 24, so S17 is a bit newer in that sense. S17 was published in December 19 and G17 in August 24, so also in that sense S17 is newer. I emphasize newer here because it suggests that references in S17 reference list should be as new or newer as references in G17 reference list.

The reference list of S17 contains 39 entries while the reference list of G17 contains 85 entries. As the papers are on the same subject, it seems that S17 reference list is a little short. However, scope of G17 seems to be somewhat broader, so reference list length doesn't necessarily tell anything.

I also compared the temporal distributions of papers in the reference lists of these two papers. Result can be seen in this graph:

It is quite clear from the graph that S17 reference list focuses on older papers than G17 reference list. highest peak of temporal distribution of S17 is 2005-2009, while corresponding highest peak of G17 is 2010-2014. Also, G17 distribution is rather sharply concentrated on the more recent times, while S17 distribution is more spread out in time, and it almost seems as if the most resent research is being avoided in S17 reference list (the share of 2015-2017 papers is very low in S17 compared to G17).

2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #51

December 24, 2017 - 1:25pm

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Graphic of the Week... SkS Spotlights... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Merry Christmas!

Story of the Week...

Macron Tries To Keep the Paris Agreement Alive

There was a moment last week—as television cameras showed dozens of heads of state, business leaders, and A-list celebrities filing off a riverboat into the newly completed Seine Musicale venue in Paris' suburbs—when it seemed as though the international climate process might get the financial help it desperately needs.

In the end, the December 12th event convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to mark the two-year anniversary of the landmark Paris Agreementproduced a flurry of new announcements and initiatives that could eventually shift the world's economy onto a greener, more sustainable pathway. But the new commitments fall far short of the hundreds of billions—some say trillions—of dollars that must be mobilized in order to achieve the Paris Agreement's goals of limiting climate change and helping poor countries survive its worst effects.

The big announcements at the summit included the unveiling of the Climate Action 100+ pledge, from 225 institutional investors managing more than $26 trillion, to pressure the world's 100 largest companies to implement more environmentally sustainable policies. A total of 16 countries, including Brazil and Norway, said they would start adopting policies to make their economies carbon-neutral by mid-century. And 36 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, jointly called for the international shipping sector to take on binding climate commitments for the first time.

Macron Tries To Keep the Paris Agreement Alive by Eric J Lyman, Pacific Standard, Dec 19, 2017

Toon of the Week...

Hat tip to Stop Climate Science Denial

Graphic of the Week...

Original cartoon by John Cook

SkS Spotlights...

Climate Liability News is a not-for-profit news site dedicated to reporting on the issues at the intersection of climate change impacts and law. Those issues include government and corporate responsibility and accountability for global warming and its consequences across society and around the world. Through hard-nosed, uncompromising journalism, we seek to advance a greater understanding and wider public discussion of the role of the law in addressing the wide-ranging impacts of of climate change.

Climate Liability News is a project funded by donations to Climate Communications & Law, a new 501(c)3 nonprofit. Climate Communications & Law seeks to deepen the public’s understanding of the issue of climate change and how its impacts are being dealt with by the legal system in the United States and around the world.

The editorial content of CLN is not subject to approval or influence by CCL donors. 

Coming Soon on SkS...
  • Some curious things about Svensmark et al. reference list (Ari)
  • The US government's climate report on the oceans (John Abraham)
  • From the eMail Bag: Carbon Isotopes - Part 2 - The Delta Notation (David Kirtley)
  • To beat 'alternative facts', scientists propose 'technocognition' (Dana)
  • New research this week (Ari)
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #52 (John Hartz)
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Waming Digest #52 (John Hartz)
Poster of the Week...


Climate Feedback Reviews...


Climate Feedback asked its network of scientists to review the article, Jerry Brown Blames Climate Change for California Fires: ‘The New Normal’ by Joe Pollak, Breitbart, Dec 9, 2017

Five scientists analyzed the article and estimate its overall scientific credibility to be 'very low'.

A majority of reviewers tagged the article as: Biased, Cherry-picking, Flawed reasoning, Misleading.

Review Summary 

This article in Breitbart criticizes a statement by California Governor Jerry Brown, who said that the recent dangerous fires are “the new normal” for the area. The article correctly lists a number of factors that contribute to wildfires, including weather patterns and the construction of homes in areas at risk of fire. The article represents the contribution of climate change to wildfire trends as unknown, and a matter of debate for climate scientists.

Scientists who reviewed the story found this to be misleading. The article fails to explain the ways in which climate change can clearly influence the factors that control wildfires. A number of published studies have found that climate change is an important contributing factor to wildfire behavior in the western United States.

See all the scientists’ annotations in context

Breitbart article on California fires misleads by omitting explanation of climate’s influence, Climate Feedback, Dec 19, 2017

SkS Week in Review... 


97 Hours of Consensus...



Philip Mote's bio page

Quote derived with author's permission from:

"Global warming refers to an increase in the planet's average temperature, and there's no question that that's happened over the last 100 years. Over the last 50 years, it's increasingly clear that that warming, the more recent warming, is because of human activities.And there are other associated changes with climate change, not just changes in temperature but also changes in rainfall patterns and so on that might happen." 

High resolution JPEG (1024 pixels wide)

2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #51

December 23, 2017 - 12:07pm
A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week.  Editor's Pick

Iceland's most trusted politician is a feminist environmentalist who is the 'antiTrump'


Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir meets people at a stand of her party set up at the Kringlan shopping mall in Reykjavik on Oct. 25, 2017. Credit: Halldor Kolbeins/AFP/Getty Images

Iceland's new prime minister is a feminist and environmentalist who is among the youngest leaders in the world. She has a degree in literature with a special interest in Icelandic crime novels. She appeared in a  music video 20 years ago with an Icelandic band, Bang Gang. And she's considered Iceland's most trusted politician by numerous polls.

Her name is Katrín Jakobsdóttir, 41, and she's a mother of three boys and comes from a family of poets and professors. Her new coalition government took power at the end of November, and it spans the political spectrum in Iceland from her Left-Green Movement to the Independence Party to the Progressive Party.

Jakobsdóttir talks with The World's host Marco Werman about everything from what it's like to lead a coalition that straddles the left-right political divide to commuting by bicycle. 

Iceland's most trusted politician is a feminist environmentalist who is the 'antiTrump' by Traci Tong, PRI, Dec 19, 2017 

Links posted on Facebook

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