Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jupiter As Seen From the Bottom

Wow. Just wow.

Image via NASA.

First Half-of-Year Records in Temperature and Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Source: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12305

On a NASA teleconference, Gavin Schmidt, Director of GISS, said this record is "Not solely due to El Nino event." GISS calculates about 40% of record is due to El Nino and 60% due to other factors, including very, very strong Arctic warming."

Other things he said:

"The trend is very clear, and it's due to greenhouse gases."

"2017 is not going to be as warm as 2016." [due to starting the year in a neutral or La Nina condition]

"If 2016 sets a record, it will be the third record year in a row, which is unprecedented in our record." (99% chance 2016 sets a record.)

"May have some cooling in coming years, but the trends are going to continue, obviously."

"Paris thresholds are long-term equilibrium temperatures changes.....We are dancing with those lower [Paris] targets."

"No statistically robust that there is a strong acceleration" of warming. [Natural noise too hard to disaggregate. Natural trends pretty stable....] "It's premature to talk about acceleration in the 21st century."

For Arctic sea ice:

Friday, July 15, 2016

"Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time."

North Brooklin, Maine

30 March 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man's curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.


(Signed, 'E. B. White')
From Letters of Note, via a comment at Slate

Thursday, July 14, 2016

La Niña Forecast: a Little Less Likely Than Last Month's

The IRI -- International Research Institute for Climate and Society -- at Columbia University just issued their ENSO forecast. It shows a little less likelihood of a La Niña forming this fall -- "about a 55-60% chance of La Niña during the fall and winter 2016" -- compared to last month's forecast of about 70%..

For comparison, here's last month's forecast:

Why does this matter? Only because...some people...are going to interpret a natural cooling fluctuation -- a La Niña -- as indication that manmade global warming is over, or was wrong, or a hoax, or a conspiratorial meme beamed into people's heads via picowaves.

Of course, the last year and a half has been a natural warming fluctuation, too. Mostly. This El Niño saw significantly higher surface and lower tropospheric temperatures, by about 0.3-0.4 C, than were seen in the large 1997-98 El Niño, which itself was about the same margin ahead of the big 1982-83 El Niño.

A better question is if the next La Niña is warmer than previous comparable La Niñas.

But naturally, if you accept AGW science, you feel somewhat confirmed by warmer upward fluctuations, and warmer downward fluctuations. It's sort of like this: imagine you saw Usain Bolt run as an 8-year old. That kid's fast, you think to yourself. Then you see him again when he's 12, and he's running even faster. He keeps making progress. Sure, he loses sometimes, but more often than not he wins, and when he does lose it's not by the margins he once did. This goes on for years and years -- he sets new records regularly, and when he doesn't, his time still brings up his average. And so it goes.

When you expect someone to run ever faster, it's interesting when he does and sets new records. More interesting than when he loses, even when it's by ever smaller margins. I mean, did you see him burst away from the field in Beijing?

PS: Yes, Usain Bolt is getting older and will someday be past his prime. It's not a perfect analogy -- climates don't get "old." Maybe the stock market is better, where ever higher records are expected over sufficiently long time periods.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Arctic Ice Extent Since 1850

From a new paper in Geographical Review by Walsh et al, and a press release from the University of Colorado. Note this is ice extent, which is more than just sea ice.

I'm looking to see if there's a time series plot....

Added: Here it is:

For comparison, the minimum sea ice extent in September 2012 was 3.62 Mkm2 (average for the entire month), so the ice extent was almost all sea ice at that minimum.

More About the McMillan et al result for Greenland Mass Balance

After this post last night about a new paper on Greenland ice loss over 2011-2014, I wrote to the lead author, Malcolm McMillan of  the University of Leeds in the UK.

He told me (as I suspected)
We don't look for an acceleration because the 4 year time period of our altimeter observations is too short to reliably detect this, given the large year-to-year changes in annual mass loss. So I wouldn't say that there is no acceleration, rather that, given its likely magnitude, it is not possible for us to reliably measure it over such a short time period.

For assessing accelerations in mass loss you really need to use the longer 10-20 year records which are better able to resolve this. You may be aware of it already, but in case you're not, the attached paper gives a nice analysis of the time periods required to detect certain accelerations.

I'm not aware of any reasons to expect the long-term acceleration to go towards 0.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Another Result on Greenland's Melt Rate

There's a new paper in GRL by Malcolm McMillan et al, "A high-resolution record of Greenland mass balance." They studied the period 2011-2014, mapping "recent Greenland Ice Sheet elevation change at high spatial (5 km) and temporal
(monthly) resolution." (They even modeled the firn, the granularity of the snow, because it influences the backscattered radar echo.) Their rate of ice loss, -269 Gt/yr, is close to other recent values, and (added 7/7) equivalent to a global mean sea level rise over this period of 0.74 ± 0.14 mm/yr, "approximately double the 1992–2011 mean." They find regions where glacier velocity has increased significantly in recent years -- "...only 0.9% of the total ice sheet area, have contributed more than 12% of the total mass balance during our study period."

But they don't seem to find any downward acceleration in these years:

They don't calculate an acceleration in their paper.... Has melt acceleration stopped, or is this just a blip upward? I would be surprised if it has stopped -- this latest paper only covered a 3-year period, while the others (below) were all over 10 years. That makes it a difficult to detect an acceleration -- just look at any 3-year interval on their graph -- the all look straight.

In any case, here is my collection:

Note 7/13: this is a change from the earlier table; the "--" means the four years in the McMillan et al study was too short an interval to reliably detect an acceleration. See here

Added 7/13: I give some remarks and clarifications by Malcolm McMillan here.

Gauging Greenland's Melt

An interesting video by Peter Sinclair for Yale Climate Connections.

These guys in the field always seem to be having a great time out there....

One of the scientists says it's looking like meltwater runoff is greater than dynamical ice discharge. That's also what was found in the 2014 Enderlin et al paper I wrote about here.

Monday, July 11, 2016

La Nina is Looking a Bit Shy This Year

The planet seems a little hesitant to jump into a La Nina, as measured by the sea surface temperature anomaly in the Nino 3.4 region.

Still, the last forecast for a La Nina this fall is over 70%, from Columbia's IRI. The forecasts come out monthly, usually around the middle of the month. Should be a new one soon.

Of course, should a La Nina happen the global mean surface temperature will drop, and that will mean manmade global warming is over and was never true in the first place and there's no greenhouse effect either because, like, the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Dummies.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Response to the Weekly Standard Review of "Struggling for Air"

Here's another review of Struggling for Air by Revesz and Lienke, by Brian Potts in the Weekly Standard, a conservative publication. (I put some of my impressions of the book here.)

He emailed me to let me know about his article. You should read it too. I don't agree with what he wrote here:
But the first problem with Revesz and Lienke's conclusions in the book is that they completely ignore a critical component: cost.
As far as I know, there was nothing in the Clean Air Act that said cost was a factor; its charge, specified by Congress, was to identity and regulate emissions that had adverse effects "on public health and welfare."

But actually we do know the cost:

"How the Clean Air Act Has Saved $22 Trillion in Health-Care Costs,"
Alan H. Lockwood, The Atlantic 9/7/12.

So I get tired of hearing about cost, and especially about one-way interpretations of it, because the true cost is that coal causes health problems that are greater than the benefit it provides -- benefit as measured by the market price.

Coal's pollution kills people. It causes more heart attacks, more premature death, more asthma attacks. Conservatives, who should care deeply about the impact and cost such of negative externalities, instead not only ignore them, but whine about them.

It seems they think it is OK, and there is no cost, to rain pollution down on people's head.

I've cited these studies before, but this study, by the once-darling (to pseudoskeptics) environmental economist William Nordquist of Yale:
"Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy," Nicholas Z. Muller, Robert Mendelsohn, and William Nordhaus, American Economic Review, 101(5): 1649–75 (2011).
found that generating electricity with coal or oil creates negative value -- that is, it sends the economy backwards. And kills people in the process.

This 2010 study by the National Academy of Sciences found that in 2005 there was at least $120 billion in damages done to the country, in 2007 dollars. 
(Why would anyone express damages in the year 2005 in anything but either dollars in the ydollars in the year the report was written, 2010? Talk about heads-in-the-clouds scientists.)

The cost of a fuel or power source is NOT what you see at the gas pump or on your monthly utility bill.

Don't the words "conservative" and "conservationist" come from the same root word? Yes, they do:

Which Side Are You On?

"Once again, the difference in policy views is clear, and can be coolly stated: those who insist on the right to concealed weapons, to the open carrying of firearms, to the availability of military weapons—to the essentially unlimited dissemination of guns—guarantee that the murders will continue. They have no plan to end them, except to return fire, with results we know. The people who don’t want the regulations that we know will help curb (not end) violent acts and help make them rare (not non-existent) have reconciled themselves to the mass murder of police officers, as well as of innocent men and women during traffic stops and of long, ghostly rows of harmless civilians and helpless children. The country is now clearly divided among those who want the killings and violence to stop and those who don’t. In the words of the old activist song, which side are you on?"

- Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, July 8, 2016, "The Horrific, Predictable Result of a Widely Armed Citzenry"