Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Great tits coping with climate change

Now that I have your attention, a new paper published in Science finds small European birds called great tits have adapted well and maintained their population numbers despite a slight warming over the past 37 years. According to the paper, "fledglings face less competition for winter nuts and other resources. So a greater percentage of the youngsters survive through the winter than previously did, and — so far — this survival uptick has kept the study population from shrinking." The authors determine "These findings imply that natural populations may be able to tolerate considerable maladaptation driven by shifting climatic conditions without undergoing immediate declines."

So far, the great tit has coped with climate change | Life

Its food supply out of sync, a European bird has escaped population decline – for now

Science News Web edition: April 25, 2013

Lively European birds called great tits haven’t kept up with climate changes that would require earlier nesting. Researchers have uncovered a quirk of population dynamics that’s giving the mistimed population some temporary protection.
Credit: Dreamstime via NIOO-KNAW
Though climate change has knocked little birds called great tits out of sync with their chicks’ food supply, the birds are maintaining their population numbers, a new study finds. But the way the tits cope may give them only a temporary reprieve.

“It’s buying them time,” says ecologist Tom Reed of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen.

Warmer springs mean that the peak food demands for Parus major chicks come later than the annual burst of local caterpillars. With less food, fewer young survive to leave their nests, Reed reports. 

However, the smaller resulting cohort of fledglings faces less competition for winter nuts and other resources. So a greater percentage of the youngsters survive through the winter than previously did, and — so far — this survival uptick has kept the study population from shrinking, Reed and an international team report in the April 26 Science.

These “quite acrobatic little birds” are close relatives of North America’s chickadees, Reed says. Decades ago, researchers set out nest boxes in a Dutch national park, and great tits readily moved in, forming a manageable study population.

Intense monitoring allowed Marcel Visser, also at Wageningen and a coauthor of the study, to realize that the nest timing was going wrong. In 1998, he and a colleague reported that the park’s great tits were one of the first documented examples of birds getting ecologically out of sync with food because of climate change.

Springtime in northern Europe had become unusually warm by the 1980s, and the trend has continued. The birds don’t migrate so they and the insects are exposed to the same weather. But caterpillars are more sensitive to a change in temperature, Reed says. The caterpillars and birds also take their temperature cues at different times in the spring. The differences mean the caterpillars tend to peak a lot earlier. The birds, unfortunately, haven’t kept pace.

With 37 years of data in the new study, researchers also detected that this mismatch is changing evolutionary pressures on the great tits. The breeding pairs that nest a bit earlier now produce more surviving offspring, so the population is getting a little nudge toward the new timing regimen. It remains to be seen whether the climate will change too fast for this slow adaptation to protect the population.

This kind of climate-induced mismatch between animals and their food supply has become a common worry among biologists. Pied flycatchers, small birds that spend winters in Africa, don’t return to Europe soon enough to catch the spring insect bonanza. In West Greenland,, migratory caribou miss the best grazing. And in Norway, puffins are declining as the spring bloom of plankton often misses the main hatching of herring and shrinks the -food supply later needed to feed puffin chicks.

Still unclear is whether any out-of-sync species besides the great tits would get some relief from the benefits of lessened competition among youngsters. “We should be very cautious about suggesting that this is a widespread response to [food-supply] mismatch,” says ecologist Sarah Burthe from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh. Many studies, she says, already show that animals raise fewer total offspring in years with significant mismatches.

Abstract of the paper:


Broad-scale environmental changes are altering patterns of natural selection in the wild, but few empirical studies have quantified the demographic cost of sustained directional selection in response to these changes. We tested whether population growth in a wild bird is negatively affected by climate change–induced phenological mismatch, using almost four decades of individual-level life-history data from a great tit population. In this population, warmer springs have generated a mismatch between the annual breeding time and the seasonal food peak, intensifying directional selection for earlier laying dates. Interannual variation in population mismatch has not, however, affected population growth. We demonstrated a mechanism contributing to this uncoupling, whereby fitness losses associated with mismatch are counteracted by fitness gains due to relaxed competition. These findings imply that natural populations may be able to tolerate considerable maladaptation driven by shifting climatic conditions without undergoing immediate declines.

New paper finds another amplification mechanism by which the Sun controls climate

A paper published today in the Journal of Climate finds tiny variations in solar activity over 11-year solar cycles have greatly amplified effects upon climate via changes in the Arctic Oscillation, North Pacific sea surface temperatures & sea level pressure, and via changes in stratospheric ozone from solar UV. The authors find the Arctic Oscillation evolves from a negative mode a few years before solar maximums to a positive mode at and following solar maximums. The IPCC claims the tiny variations in solar activity during solar cycles cannot affect climate, but this paper and many others demonstrate solar activity has greatly amplified effects upon climate via ocean oscillations, atmospheric oscillations such as the Madden-Julian oscillation and Quasi-biennial oscillation, stratospheric ozone, and sunshine hours/clouds.

The Surface Climate Response to 11-Yr Solar Forcing During Northern Winter: Observational Analyses and Comparisons With GCM Simulations

Lon Hood*
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.
Semjon Schimanke
Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Norrkoping, Sweden
Thomas Spangehl
German Weather Service, Offenbach am Main, Germany
Sourabh Bal
Department of Physics, Dream Institute of Technology, Kolkata, India
Ulrich Cubasch
Institute for Meteorology, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany

The surface climate response to 11-yr solar forcing during northern winter is first re-estimated by applying a multiple linear regression (MLR) statistical model to Hadley Centre sea level pressure (SLP) and sea surface temperature (SST) data over the 1880-2009 period. In addition to a significant positive SLP response in the North Pacific found in previous studies, a positive SST response is obtained across the midlatitude North Pacific. Negative but insignificant SLP responses are obtained in the Arctic. The derived SLP response at zero lag therefore resembles a positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). Evaluation of the SLP and SST responses as a function of phase lag indicates that the response evolves from a negative AO-like mode a few years before solar maximum to a positive AO-like mode at and following solar maximum. For comparison, a similar MLR analysis is applied to model SLP and SST data from a series of simulations using an atmosphere-ocean general circulation model. The simulations differed only in the assumed solar cycle variation of stratospheric ozone. It is found that the simulation that assumed an ozone variation estimated from satellite data produces solar SLP and SST responses that are most consistent with the observational results, especially during a selected centennial period. In particular, a positive SLP response anomaly is obtained in the northeastern Pacific and a corresponding positive SST response anomaly extends across the midlatitude North Pacific. The model response versus phase lag also evolves from a mainly negative AO-like response before solar maximum to a mainly positive AO response at and following solar maximum.

Monday, April 29, 2013

How the environmental left has lost sight of social justice

Notable & Quotable

Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus write that the environmentalist left has lost sight of social justice.

WSJ.COM 4/29/13: Environmentalists Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus writing at the Breakthrough Institute website, April 29:
Once upon a time, social justice was synonymous with equal access to modern amenities—electric lighting so poor children could read at night, refrigerators so milk could be kept on hand, and washing machines to save the hands and backs of women. Malthus was rightly denounced by generations of socialists as a cruel aristocrat who cloaked his elitism in pseudo-science, and claimed that Nature couldn't possibly feed any more hungry mouths.
Now, at the very moment modern energy arrives for global poor—something a prior generation of socialists would have celebrated and, indeed, demanded—today's leading left-wing leaders advocate a return to energy penury. The loudest advocates of cheap energy for the poor are on the libertarian Right, while The Nation dresses up neo-Malthusianism as revolutionary socialism. Left-wing politics was once about destabilizing power relations between the West and the Rest. Now, under the sign of climate justice, it's about sustaining them.

Warmist Mark Lynas asks forgiveness for unscientific crusade against genetically-modified crops

Pie-throwing environmentalist Mark Lynas, a longtime vocal leader of the anti-biotechnology movement, acknowledged at a recent farming conference he has unjustly demonized biotechnology and was wrong to oppose genetic crop improvements. Lynas helped create the anti-biotechnology movement in the 1990s and spent more than a decade sowing public fear about genetically modified crops. “So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it?” said Lynas. “Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.” Will Lynas now admit his global-warming scaremongering has also harmed the poor and is not supported by science?

Anti-GMO Leader Asks Forgiveness for Unscientific Crusade

April 10, 2013 by Jeff Edgens

New paper finds IPCC climate models unable to reproduce solar radiation at Earth's surface

A new paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres finds the latest generation of IPCC climate models were unable to reproduce the global dimming of sunshine from the ~ 1950s-1980s, followed by global brightening of sunshine during the 1990's. These global dimming and brightening periods explain the observed changes in global temperature over the past 50-60 years far better than the slow steady rise in CO2 levels. The authors find the models underestimated dimming by 80-85% in comparison to observations, underestimated brightening in China and Japan as well, and that "no individual model performs particularly well for all four regions" studied. Dimming was underestimated in some regions by up to 7 Wm-2 per decade, which by way of comparison is 25 times greater than the alleged CO2 forcing of about 0.28 Wm-2 per decade. The paper demonstrates climate models are unable to reproduce the known climate change of the past, much less the future, that the forcing from changes in solar radiation at the Earth surface is still far from being understood and dwarfs any alleged effect of increased CO2.

Prior posts on the abject failure of climate models

Evaluation of multidecadal variability in CMIP5 surface solar radiation and inferred underestimation of aerosol direct effects over Europe, China, Japan and India

R. J. Allen 1, J. R. Norris 2, M. Wild 3

DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50426

Abstract: Observations from the Global Energy Balance Archive indicate regional decreases in all sky surface solar radiation from ~1950s-1980s, followed by an increase during the 1990s. These periods are popularly called dimming and brightening, respectively. Removal of the radiative effects of cloud cover variability from all sky surface solar radiation results in a quantity called “clear sky proxy” radiation, in which multidecadal trends can be seen more distinctly, suggesting aerosol radiative forcing as a likely cause. Prior work has shown climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 3 (CMIP3) generally underestimate the magnitude of these trends, particularly over China and India. Here, we perform a similar analysis with 173 simulations from 42 climate models participating in the new CMIP5. Results show negligible improvement over CMIP3, as CMIP5 dimming trends over four regions–Europe, China, India and Japan–are all underestimated. This bias is largest for both India and China, where the multi-model mean yields a decrease in clear sky proxy radiation of −1.3 ± 0.3 and −1.2 ± 0.2 W m−2 decade−1, respectively, compared to observed decreases of −6.5 ± 0.9 and −8.2 ± 1.3 W m−2 decade−1. Similar underestimation of the observed dimming over Japan exists, with the CMIP5 mean dimming ~20% as large as observed. Moreover, not a single simulation reproduces the magnitude of the observed dimming trend for these three regions. Relative to dimming, CMIP5 models better simulate the observed brightening, but significant underestimation exists for both China and Japan. Overall, no individual model performs particularly well for all four regions. Model biases do not appear to be related to the use of prescribed versus prognostic aerosols, or to aerosol indirect effects. However, models exhibit significant correlations between clear sky proxy radiation and several aerosol-related fields, most notably aerosol optical depth (AOD), and absorption AOD. This suggests model underestimation of the observed trends is related to underestimation of aerosol direct radiative forcing and/or deficient aerosol emission inventories.

Bravo! UK school curriculum removes climate change propaganda in favor of basic science

The 2014 UK school curriculum will omit climate change propaganda and pseudoscience in favor of teaching basic scientific principles. According to the Dept. of Education Secretary, Michael Grove, 
"One of the problems we have had with science in the past is that people have said 'in order to make science relevant you've got to link it to things which are contemporary' - climate change or food scares - but … what they need is a rooting in the basic scientific principles, Newton's laws of thermodynamics and Boyle's law."
Hopefully, the kids will now be armed with the scientific knowledge to recognize the junk science & political propaganda surrounding the issue of climate.

From the Marxist rag known as 'The Guardian':

PR smokescreen cannot hide the holes in climate teaching proposals

The new national curriculum provide a less in-depth introduction to climate change, and misses out vital information about risks

Children play with a giant globe at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012. Photograph: Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

The Department for Education this month ended a consultation on its controversial proposals for the national curriculum amid protests about its plans to cut back on the teaching of climate change.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, launched his review of the curriculum in January 2011, but it has been beset by problems and delays, including complaints about of a lack of transparency and resignation threats from key advisers. It has also been hit by criticisms over suggestions that climate change would be omitted from a new slimmed-down version of the curriculum, which would be taught in English schools from September 2014.

In June 2011, Tim Oates, who led the national curriculum review expert panel, told the Guardianthat climate change should not be compulsory for school lessons, on the grounds that it was a "topical issue".

Shortly after, Gove made the same point in an interview in the Times:

"One of the problems we have had with science in the past is that people have said 'in order to make science relevant you've got to link it to things which are contemporary' - climate change or food scares - but … what they need is a rooting in the basic scientific principles, Newton's laws of thermodynamics and Boyle's law."

The trouble for Oates and Gove is that they were displaying an utter ignorance of the history of science. The study of climate change is much older than the discovery of plate tectonics or the structure of DNA, for instance, with Svante Arrhenius in 1896 publishing the first calculations of how much global warming will occur as the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase.

After much delay, the Department for Education published in February 2013 details of the stripped down curriculum at key stages 1-3, for pupils up to age 14.

Climate change has been all but removed. It is explicitly referred to only in the programme of study for science in KS3 chemistry, which states that pupils should be taught about "the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the impact on climate".

This is more specific than the current national curriculum for science, introduced in 2007, which states that courses should include "human activity and natural processes can lead to changes in the environment" and describes pupils' performance as exceptional if they "describe and explain the importance of a wide range of applications and implications of science in familiar and unfamiliar contexts, such as addressing problems arising from global climate change".

And at KS4, the new national curriculum for science includes "carbon dioxide and methane as greenhouse gases", and, bizarrely, "carbon capture and storage", while ignoring all other methods of emissions reduction, such as renewables.

However, the new national curriculum for geography omits any explicit reference to climate change, indicating only that pupils should be taught about "weather and climate". In contrast, current KS3 geography is expected to cover "interactions between people and their environments, including causes and consequences of these interactions, and how to plan for and manage their future impact". These lessons "should include the investigation of climate change", during which pupils learn about "how their consumption of energy has a global impact on physical systems such as climate".

Given these radical changes, it was perhaps not surprising that learned societies and universities have objected to the cuts to climate change teaching and the removal of any reference to its societal impacts or ways of tackling it through mitigation and adaptation.

In its consultation response, the Royal Meteorological Society stated: "We strongly advocate that the topic of climate change be added to the geography curriculum to complement coverage of the scientific basis of climate change in the science curriculum".

And the Geographical Association recommended that pupils at KS3 lessons should be "required to understand how human activity, including how the human use of natural resources (currently listed as a human 'process') can impact upon natural systems at a range of scales (including the global scale eg climate change)".

But rather than listening to the advice of these experts, the Department for Education has launched an extraordinary spin offensive to try to divert criticism. It issued a press release insisting "it is not true that climate change is being removed from the national curriculum", and claiming that "the new national curriculum will give pupils a deeper understanding of all climate issues, including climate change".

However, this PR smokescreen cannot hide the gaping holes in the department's proposals. As I and colleagues point out in our consultation response, the new curriculum provide a less in-depth introduction to climate change for pupils, and misses out vital information about risks that will be created by "business as usual" emissions of greenhouse gases, as well as options for managing these risks through adaptation and mitigation.

These omissions would undermine the core knowledge base of pupils who will experience firsthand those impacts of climate change that are now unavoidable and who will be faced in their lifetimes with important decisions and choices about how to manage and respond to climate change risks.

If Gove continues to ignore our warnings about the deficiencies in his proposals, the new national curriculum will end up failing to provide pupils with the essential knowledge, skills and understanding that they need to be educated citizens.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New paper demonstrates temperature drives CO2 levels, not man-made CO2

A recent paper published in Nature Climate Change finds a disconnect between man-made CO2 and atmospheric levels of CO2, demonstrating that despite a sharp 25% increase in man-made CO2 emissions since 2003, the growth rate in atmospheric CO2 has slowed sharply since 2002/2003. The data shows that while the growth rate of man-made emissions was relatively stable from 1990-2003, the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 surged up to the record El Nino of 1997-1998. Conversely, growth in man-made emissions surged ~25% from 2003-2011, but the change in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 has flatlined since 1999 along with global temperatures. The data demonstrates temperature drives CO2 levels due to ocean outgassing, man-made CO2 does not drive temperature, and that man is not the primary cause of the rise in CO2 levels.

Man-made CO2 emissions shown in black, growth rate of atmospheric CO2 shown in blue
Fig. 2 from Francey et al. The CO2 growth rate has declined in 2002 despite increasing emissions

Plot for yourself here a single graph that simultaneously demonstrates the clear observational evidence that 
  • temperature drives CO2
  • CO2 does not drive temperature
  • man is not the primary cause of the rise in CO2 levels
The effect follows the cause; the cause does not follow the effect. Short-term global temperature changes precede CO2 levels by about 1 year as shown by observations, and by 800+ years in ice core data.

Atmospheric verification of anthropogenic COemission trends

Nature Climate Change 3, 520–524 (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate1817 

Abstract: International efforts to limit global warming and ocean acidification aim to slow the growth of atmospheric CO2, guided primarily by national and industry estimates of production and consumption of fossil fuels. Atmospheric verification of emissions is vital but present global inversion methods are inadequate for this purpose. We demonstrate a clear response in atmospheric CO2 coinciding with a sharp 2010 increase in Asian emissions but show persisting slowing mean CO2 growth from 2002/03. Growth and inter-hemispheric concentration difference during the onset and recovery of the Global Financial Crisis support a previous speculation that the reported 2000–2008 emissions surge is an artefact, most simply explained by a cumulative underestimation (~ 9PgC) of 1994–2007 emissions; in this case, post-2000 emissions would track mid-range of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenarios. An alternative explanation requires changes in the northern terrestrial land sink that offset anthropogenic emission changes. We suggest atmospheric methods to help resolve this ambiguity.

New paper finds IPCC models predicted decrease in Antarctic sea ice, which is currently near record highs

A paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres finds "most climate models from the [IPCC] archive simulate a decrease in Antarctic sea ice area over the recent past," however, "average Antarctic sea ice area is not retreating but has slowly increased since satellite measurements began in 1979." Further, the authors find the latest generation of IPCC climate models "have not improved" over the prior generation, and "show an unrealistic spread in the mean state that may influence future sea ice behavior."

The paper, co-authored by Climategate co-conspirator Susan Soloman, attempts to save face for the models, claiming the increase in Antarctic sea ice is still within natural variability. With Antarctic sea ice currently near 'unprecedented' high levels, how long can this IPCC model flimflam persist?

Historical Antarctic mean sea ice area, sea ice trends, and winds in CMIP5 simulations

Irina Mahlstein 1,2,3,*, Peter R. Gent 4, Susan Solomon 5


In contrast to Arctic sea ice, average Antarctic sea ice area is not retreating but has slowly increased since satellite measurements began in 1979. While most climate models from the CMIP5 archive simulate a decrease in Antarctic sea ice area over the recent past, whether these models can be dismissed as being wrong depends on more than just the sign of change compared to observations. We show that internal sea ice variability is large in the Antarctic region, and both the observed and modeled trends may represent natural variations along with external forcing. While several models show a negative trend, only a few of them actually show a trend that is significant compared to their internal variability on the timescales of available observational data. Further, the ability of the models to simulate the mean state of sea ice is also important. There presentations of Antarctic sea ice in CMIP5 models have not improved compared to CMIP3, and show an unrealistic spread in the mean state that may influence future sea ice behavior. Finally, Antarctic climate and sea ice area will be affected not only by ocean and air temperature changes but also by changes in the winds. The majority of the CMIP5 models simulate a shift that is too weak compared to observations. Thus, this study identifies several foci for consideration in evaluating and improving the modeling of climate and climate change in the Antarctic region.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New paper finds another non-hockey-stick in China

A paper published today in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology reconstructs temperatures from 1834-2010 in southeastern China, and shows temperatures at the end of the record in 2010 were cooler than multiple other periods in the past including the 1930's, early part of the 1900's and during the 1800's.

The paper, co-authored by Climategate participant Ed Cook, attempts to claim the rate of temperature rise from 1948-2010 is unprecedented, but it is obvious from examination of the data presented in Figure 5 that the temperature rise rate and amount from ~1910-1935 was both faster and greater than from 1948-2010 [2nd graph below]. Furthermore, it is obvious that the peak reached at the end of the 20th century is related to the record 1997-1998 El Nino natural ocean oscillation, and that temperatures have cooled since.

Fig. 5. January-July minimum temperature reconstruction in the Dabie Mountains, southeastern China. (a), comparison of actual and reconstructed temperatures for 1956 to 2010; and (b), the reconstructed temperature from 1834 to 2010.

Unprecedented January-July warming recorded in a 178-year tree-ring width chronology in the Dabie Mountains, southeastern China

  • a School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Institute for Climate and Global Change Research, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
  • b Nanjing Institute of Geography & Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
  • c Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964, USA
  • d Department of Geography, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, China


We built a 202-year tree-ring width chronology from HIGH elevation sites.
The chronology explained 57.6% variance of actual January-July minimum temperature.
The reconstructed temperature matches three nearby temperature reconstructions.
The recent warming and temperature increase rate are unprecedented [not].


Previous tree-ring studies indicate that tree growth at high elevations is strongly limited by temperatures in the southeastern China, where the climate is dominated by the East Asian monsoon. Based on this result, we built a highly replicated 202-year tree-ring width chronology from high elevation sites in the Dabie Mountains, southeastern China. The most reliable period of the chronology is from 1834 to 2011 according to a subsample signal strength cutoff of 0.85. Based on this chronology, January-July minimum temperature was reconstructed for the last 178 years, with an explained variance of 57.6% during the instrumental period 1956–2010. The reconstructed temperature series matches reasonably well with three other tree-ring based temperature reconstructions at decadal time scales in the region. The coldest periods are 1891–1898 and 1904–1914, however, the longest cold period is from 1948 to 1973. The warmest period is 1990–2010. Both the recent (1990–2010) warming and recent (1948–2010) temperature increase rate are unprecedented [not] during the past 178 years in the study region.

New paper finds climate-cooling effect 'stronger than volcanoes'

Back to the drawing board again for climate models...

Climate-cooling effect 'stronger than volcanoes' is looking solid

Could be time to massage those hot models again

A newly discovered mechanism for cooling the planet - potentially, according to its discoverers, more significant even than the well-known chilling effects of volcanic eruptions - has now been further investigated.

The mechanism in question is the action of difficult-to-study atmospheric molecules known as "Criegee intermediates", whose existence was first theorised in the 1950s by German chemist Rudolf Criegee but not confirmed until recent years by boffins using methods which have only lately become available.

Criegee intermediates act to produce extra sulphuric acid - a well-known and powerful atmospheric aerosol which causes additional clouds to form, which in turn cools the climate. This mechanism is seen in action after major volcanic eruptions, which hurl huge amounts of sulphates into the sky causing acid to form and resulting in easily detectable global cool spells - for instance the one following the eruption of Mount St Helens.

According to Professor Carl Percival, Criegee intermediates released naturally into the atmosphere by living ecosystems have a constant cooling effect which could be at least as big as that produced by volcanic eruptions. Last year, after the initial confirmation that at least one of the tricky chemicals existed and worked as described, he said:

"This new source of atmospheric sulphates is at least as important as the one we knew about already, and in some cases it can dominate."

Sulphur-based aerosols are already acknowledged by all sides in the climate debate as a major factor in climate modelling, so the added effect potentially produced by Criegee intermediates could mean a serious adjustment downwards for future climate forecasts.

However the actual effect to be assigned was highly uncertain, as nobody could say for sure how quickly the exotic chemicals would do their work. The state of play has now moved forward somewhat, however, as Percival and his fellow scientists have moved on to measure the effects of a second Criegee intermediate: namely CH3CHOO.

“One of the main questions from our first study was if this increased reactivity would be observed for other Criegee intermediates, so with these findings we now have additional evidence that Criegee intermediates are indeed powerful oxidisers of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide," explains Percival in a statement issued today by his university, Manchester.

“What this study suggests is that the biosphere could have a significant impact on aerosol production and thus potentially climate cooling via the formation of Criegee intermediates," he adds. "The next steps will be to carry out modelling studies to quantify the impact of Criegee intermediates on climate and to quantify the level of alkene present in various environments.”

As and when that work is completed, it might perhaps go some way towards explaining the generally flat global temperatures seen over the last decade and more, which are increasingly puzzling for those climate scientists who had expected them to keep going up at the rate they did between 1970 and the 1990s.

Percival and his colleagues' latest study is published by the journal Sciencehere.

New paper finds global sea levels will rise only about 5 inches by 2100

A new peer-reviewed paper by sea level expert Dr. Nils-Axel Morner concludes that Australian government claims of a 1 meter sea level rise by 2100 are greatly exaggerated, finding instead that sea levels are rising around Australia and globally at a rate of only 1.5 mm/year. This would imply a sea level change of only 0.13 meters or 5 inches by 2100. Dr. Morner also finds no evidence of any acceleration in sea level rise around Australia or globally.

From the conclusion of the paper:

In view of the data presented, we believe that we are justified to draw the following conclusions: 

(1) The official Australian claim [2,3] of a present sea level rise in the order of 5.4mm/year is significantly exaggerated (Figure 3). 

(2) The mean sea level rise from Australian tide gauges as well as global tide gauge networks is to be found within the sector of rates ranging from 0.1 to 1.5 mm/year (yellow wedge in Figure 3). 

(3) The claim of a recent acceleration in the rate of sea level rise [2,3,12] cannot be validated by tide gauge records, either in Australia or globally (Figure 3). Rather, it seems strongly contradicted [19,21,24,39-41]

The practical implication of our conclusions is that there, in fact, is no reason either to fear or to prepare for any disastrous sea level flooding in the near future.

Nils-Axel Morner, Albert Parker

We revisit available tide gauge data along the coasts of Australia, and we are able to demonstrate that the rate may vary between 0.1 and 1.5 mm/year, and that there is an absence of acceleration over the last decades. With a database of 16 stations covering only the last 17 years, the National Tidal Centre claims that sea level is rising at a rate of 5.4mm/year.We here analyse partly longer-term records from the same 16 sites as those used by the Australian Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Project (ABSLMP) and partly 70 other sites; i.e. a database of 86 stations covering a much longer time period. This database gives a mean trend in the order of 1.5 mm/year. Therefore, we challenge both the rate of sea level rise presented by the National Tidal Centre in Australia and the general claim of acceleration over the last decades.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Analysis finds the Sun explains climate change, not CO2

From the new SPPI & CO2 Science report:

"There is little need to ascribe a unique cause to late 20th-century global warming (such as elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations), as this latest warming is merely a run-of-the-mill relative warming, sitting atop a solar-induced baseline warming that has been in progress for the past four centuries."

"In considering Qian and Lu's findings, it is important to note that, once again, no help from greenhouse gas emissions was needed to reconstruct the past thousand-year history of Earth's global mean temperature; it was sufficient to merely employ known oscillations in solar radiation variability. And as for the future, the two authors predict that "global-mean temperature will decline to a renewed cooling period in the 2030s, and then rise to a new high-temperature period in the 2060s." Given the cessation in warming observed in the surface and lower tropospheric temperature records over the past decade, it appears their prediction is well on its way to being validated. 

Clearly, there is much to recommend the overriding concept that is suggested by the data of these several papers, i.e., that the Sun rules the Earth when it comes to orchestrating major changes in the planet's climate. It is becoming ever more clear that the millennial-scale oscillation of climate that has reverberated throughout the Holocene is indeed the result of similar-scale oscillations in some aspect of solar activity. Consequently, as Mayewski et al. (2004) suggested a decade ago, "significantly more research into the potential role of solar variability is warranted, involving new assessments of potential transmission mechanisms to induce climate change and potential enhancement of natural feedbacks that may amplify the relatively weak forcing related to fluctuations in solar output." We only hope that more scientists will take note and examine the intriguing relations between our nearest star and our planet's temperature."

[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
The claim that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have been responsible for the warming detected in the twentieth century is based on what Loehle (2004)[1] calls "the standard assumption in climate research, including the IPCC reports," that "over a century time interval there is not likely to be any recognizable trend to global temperatures (Risbey et al., 2000), and thus the null model for climate signal detection is a flat temperature trend with some autocorrelated noise," so that "any warming trends in excess of that expected from normal climatic variability are then assumed to be due to anthropogenic effects." If, however, there are significant underlying climate trends or cycles-or both-either known or unknown, that assumption is clearly invalid.

Paper finds temperatures during Roman & Medieval warm periods were warmer than previously thought

A paper published in Nature Climate Change finds prior temperature reconstructions from tree-rings "may underestimate pre-instrumental [pre-1850] temperatures including warmth during Medieval and Roman times." Many reconstructions show temperatures during the Medieval and Roman periods were warmer than the present, and this study suggests they were even warmer than previously thought.

From the latest NIPCC Report:

Tree-ring width vs. tree-ring latewood maximum density

Reference: Esper, J., Frank, D.C., Timonen, M., Zorita, E., Wilson, R.J.S., Luterbacher, J., Holzkamper, S., Fischer, N., Wagner, S., Nievergelt, D., Verstege, A. and Buntgen, U. 2012. Orbital forcing of tree-ring data. Nature Climate Change 2: 862-866.

According to Esper et al. (2012), "solar insolation changes, resulting from long-term oscillations of orbital configurations (Milankovitch, 1941) are an important driver of Holocene climate (Mayewski et al., 2004; Wanner et al., 2008)," and this forcing "is substantial over the past 2,000 years, up to four times as large as the 1.6 W/m2 net anthropogenic forcing since 1750 (IPCC, 2007)." Furthermore, and very importantly, they say that their "evaluation of long-term temperature reconstructions, even over the past 7,000 years from across northern Eurasia, demonstrates that TRW-[tree-ring width]-based records fail to show orbital signatures found in low-resolution proxy archives and climate model simulations."

As an alternative to the non-responding TRW data, Esper et al. spent a full three years developing "a 2,000-year summer [June, July, August] temperature reconstruction based on 587 high-precision maximum latewood density (MXD) series from northern Scandinavia," based on living and subfossil pine (Pinus sylvestris) trees associated with 14 lakes and 3 lakeshore sites located north of 65°N latitude.

In discussing this new proxy, the twelve researchers report that over the period 138 BC - AD 2006 there was a regional cooling trend of -0.31±0.03°C per 1,000 years, which phenomenon, in their words, "is missing in published tree-ring records," but "is in line with coupled general circulation models (Zorita et al., 2005; Fischer and Jungclaus, 2011)," indicative of "albedo-driven feedback mechanisms and substantial summer cooling over the past two millennia in northern boreal and Arctic latitudes."

"These findings," according to Esper et al., "together with the missing orbital signature in published dendrochronological records, suggest that large-scale near-surface air-temperature reconstructions (Mann et al., 1999; Esper et al., 2002; Frank et al., 2007; Hegerl et al., 2007; Mann et al., 2008) relying on tree-ring [width] data may underestimate pre-instrumental temperatures including warmth during Medieval and Roman times," as they say is also the case with the study of Frank et al. (2010), while adding that the MXD data suggest that "large-scale summer temperatures were some tenths of a degree Celsius warmer during Roman times than previously thought."

Additional References:

Esper, J., Cook, E.R. and Schweingruber, F.H. 2002. Low-frequency signals in long tree-ring chronologies for reconstructing past temperature variability. Science 295: 2250-2253.

Fischer, N. and Jungclaus, J.H. 2011. Evolution of the seasonal temperature cycle in a transient Holocene simulation: Orbital forcing and sea-ice.Climate of the Past 7: 1139-1148.

Frank, D., Esper, J. and Cook, E.R. 2007. Adjustment for proxy number and coherence in a large-scale temperature reconstruction. Geophysical Research Letters 34: 10.1029/2007GL030571.

Frank, D.C., Esper, J., Raible, C.C., B�ntgen, U., Trouet, V., Stocker, B. and Joos, F. 2010. Ensemble reconstruction constraints on the global carbon cycle sensitivity to climate. Nature 463: 527-530.

Hegerl, G.C., Crowley, T.J., Allen, M., Hyde, W.J., Pollack, H.N., Smerdon, J. and Zorita, E. 2007. Detection of human influence on a new, validated 1500-year temperature reconstruction. Journal of Climate 20: 650-666.

IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (Solomon, et al., Eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K. 1999. Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and limitations. Geophysical Research Letters 26: 759-762.

Mann, M.E., Zhang, Z.H., Hughes, M.K., Bradley, R.S., Miller, S.K., Rutherford, S. and Ni, F. 2008. Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105: 13,252-13,257.

Mayewski, P.A., Rohling, E.E., Stager, J.C., Karlen, W., Maasch, K.A., Meeker, L.D., Meyerson, E.A., Gasse, F., van Kreveld, S., Holmgren, K., Lee-Thorp, J., Rosqvist, G. Rack, F., Staubwasser, M., Schneider, R.R. and Steig, E.J. 2004. Holocene climate variability. Quaternary Research 62: 243-255.

Milankovitch, M. 1941. Kanon der Erdbestrahlung und seine Anwendung auf das Eiszeitenproblem. Koniglich Serbische Akademie.

Wanner, H., Beer, J., Butikofer, J., Crowley, T.J., Cubasch, U., Fluckiger, J., Goosse, H., Grosjean, M., Joos, F., Kaplan, J.O., Kuttel, M., Muller, S.A., Prentice, I.C., Solomina, O., Stocker, T.F., Tarasov, P., Wagner, M. and Widmann, M. 2008. Mid- to late Holocene climate change: An overview.Quaternary Science Reviews 27: 1791-1828.

Zorita, E., Gonzlez-Rouco, F., von Storch, H., Montavez, J.P. and Valero, F. 2005. Natural and anthropogenic modes of surface temperature variations in the last thousand years. Geophysical Research Letters 32: 10.1029/2004GL021563.