Thursday, June 27, 2013

Judith Curry Does a Roy Spencer

Judith Curry has chosen the low road, recently traveled by Roy Spencer. She writes:
Scientists can shift their attention from religious adherence to consensus science and get on with the real work of trying to understand the dynamics of climate variability and change.
Again, this is another very unprofessional statement, written only to instigate conflict with other scientists with whom she disagrees but hasn't been able to best in the journals -- as if she's the only one doing science, and the rest are just practicing religion. That's just low. It's Anthony Watts-level baiting, and to me it's simply incompatible with the decorum and respect scientists have always given to one another.

It is sad to see. And it is telling -- the lack of scientific protest against Obama's speech this week says that the scientific arguments have essentially won the day. The oceans are warming, ice continues to melt, sea levels continue to rise -- denying such macroscopic indicators is simply no longer believable.

By all means, argue about the economics and the cheapest way to address the problem. But cheap shots from scientific quarters are unseemly and completely unnecessary.

Inhofe Campaign Slogan

Via Politico:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Peak Water?

Here's a very interesting graph of water usage in the US, versus Gross National Product, from the Pacific Institute:
Via Peter Gleick on Twitter.

"Fanatical Minorities...Getting Smaller All the Time"

Paul Krugman on today's Supreme Court decisions:
This is really amazing when you bear in mind that this very issue was used to mobilize the right-wing base in 2004. The change in attitudes in such a short period is awesome.

I haven’t seen a good analysis of this transformation. But whatever caused it, it’s a testament to American tolerance and open-mindedness. We have our fanatical minorities — but they are minorities, and they’re getting smaller all the time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stock Market Not Impressed with Obama's Speech

The market, at least, doesn't seem very impressed with Obama's speech on climate change. Here's the stock price of Arch Coal, the second largest US coal supplier:

Chart forArch Coal Inc. (ACI)

(Though it's still down about 10% from a week ago.) And here is the price of ANR, the largest US coal producer:

Chart forAlpha Natural Resources, Inc. (ANR)

"We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society."

Best line in Obama's speech:

"We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society."

Where to Watch Today's Address on Climate Change

President Obama's address on climate change is at 1:55 pm EDT. 
You can watch it live here:

Andrew Revkin has a good preview.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Study: Fracking is Affecting Some Water Quality

Update: Here's an AP story.
Due to an embargo break (which tells you someone thinks this is a hot story), PNAS just lifted the embargo on the paper “Increased stray gas abundance in a subset of drinking water wells near Marcellus shale gas extraction,” by Robert B. Jackson of Duke University, et al.

They looked at water wells within 1 kilometer of trhe Marcellus shale gas wells in northeastern Pennsylvania and southeastern New York, and found that
"...82% of the wells analyzed contained methane; on average, methane concentrations were 6-times higher for homes located less than 1 km from drilling sites than for homes farther away. Concentrations of ethane and propane were also higher for homes located within 1 km of drilling sites. Furthermore, the authors found that distance to gas wells was the most significant factor to influence drinking water methane and ethane concentrations. In some cases, the chemical signature of the gases in drinking water was characteristic of a Marcellus-like source, according to the authors."
From the article:

It will be interesting to see how this plays out....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

About the Pause

Re: The Pause

Raise your hands -- who here would judge the Medieval Warm Period based solely on what happened from 1002 A.D. to 1013 A.D.?

From 998 A.D. to 1013 A.D.?


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Speaking of Surprises....

Speaking of surprises: Who predicted the ozone hole?

No one, that's who.

What other surprises are out there, especially in an enhanced-greenhouse world?

We Live on Land, Not in the Oceans

Judith Curry writes:
Exactly how does focusing on the mean surface temperature miss the point? Global warming is pretty much defined in context of the mean surface temperature. People live on the surface, not in the ocean below 700 m.
OK. But people don't live on the surface of the ocean either, which is warming much slower than is the surface of the land.

The 30-yr trend of CRUTEM4, which only includes land measurements, is 0.28°C/decade -- 1.5°F of warming in just three decades.

The 15-yr trend is 0.11°C/decade.

By contrast, the 30-yr trend for HadCRUT4, which measures the entire surface, land + ocean, is 0.17°C/decade. The 15-year trend is 0.05°C/decade.

Clearly land is warming much faster than the ocean. Where does this fit in the calculations?

It seems to me the real question is: does the Earth system have an energy imbalance? If so -- if more energy is coming in than leaving at the top of the atmosphere, then there will be warming. Sometimes it will be mostly in the oceans, sometimes larger on land, almost always melting ice and raising sea level.

That's the real question. And if it's a mystery why the ocean has lately been taking up more heat than it was before, how is that comforting? What other unexpected and unforeseen changes lie in our future? Will the next one be to our benefit, or our detriment?

WUWT: Ocean Misunderstanding and Confusion

Willis Eschenbach has a post at WUWT that is a masterpiece of misunderstanding and befuddlement.

In their never-ending quest to show that all findings of standard climate science are wrong, Willis tackles ocean warming, in "Forcing the Ocean to Confess."

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present 0-2000 m
Now, even my cats could look at the plot to the right and see the top half of the ocean is strongly and steadily gaining heat:

But not Willis. His work leads him to the following conclusion:
"...neither the average forcing, nor the trend in that forcing, are significantly different from zero. It’s somewhat of a surprise.

"The third is that in addition to the mean not being significantly different from zero, only a few of the individual years have a forcing  that is distinguishable from zero.

"Those were a surprise because with all of the hollering about Trenberth’s missing heat and the Levitus ocean data, I’d expected to find that we could tell something from the Levitus’s numbers."
What was Willis able to whip up in a little spreadsheet that disproves what all the professionals have determined? Some bad physics, that's what.

To see if ocean heat content (OHC) is increasing, most people would just calculate its trend, which is an approximate for its first derivative d(OHC)/dt, where t is time.

Instead, Willis first takes the annual difference in OHC, calls that the forcing (which it isn't really, but that's another story), and calculates the trend of that.  He finds it slightly positive, though not significant at the 95% confidence level:

annual forcing into out of the ocean

But that's equivalent to calculating the second derivative of OHC, i.e. the acceleration of the ocean's heat gain.

Willis gets himself all confused including autocorrelation in the statistics of the trend, which is a topic for another day. What's more relevant is that he doesn't understand what he's calculating, and why it says little about ocean heat content.

The trend of a function and the trend of its first derivative can have very different uncertainties, because the latter is a difference of differences, which often can fluctuate more than a first difference.

Here is an clean example that makes Willis's error explicit, without the malarky of all the statistics. Suppose the ocean heat content for year Y is

OHC(Y) = kY

where k is a positive constant. Obviously this ocean is gaining heat year after year, with a slope of k units per year.

Then what Willis is calling the "forcing" (again, it isn't really), and what he's plotting above using the real OHC data, is

F(Y) = {OHC(Y) - OHC(Y-1)}/A

where A is the area of the ocean. In this example F(Y) = k/A for all years, i.e the "forcing" is a constant. Hence it has a trend of zero (0).

But that doesn't mean the ocean isn't warming, viz. gaining heat. Clearly it is.

A constant forcing means warming. Only a zero forcing means no warming.

Willis sort of tries to cover his huge error by saying the "forcing" he's calculating isn't statistically different from zero. He finds the mean of the annual values to be 0.2 ± 0.3 W/m2.

But again, that number has a different interpretation that the one Willis tries to give it, because it's a mean and not a trend. The average forcing is positive, i.e. most years have a "positive" flow of heat into the ocean. Some years don't, and you could use the standard deviation above to find out what percentage of years don't.

But the average forcing is positive. The ocean is, on average, gaining heat. But remember, this is the second derivative of OHC(t), not the first. The first is clearly positive, and has strong statistics.

I find, using the pentadal temperature anomalies (the OHC results are here) a temperature trend of 1.25 ± millikelvin/yr, which translates into a OHC trend of

0.34 ± 0.02 W/m2
(1-sigma, no autocorrelation, total area of the ocean)

Now, autocorrelation will increase the uncertainty by a small factor (usually it's around 3), but hardly by a factor of 17! (Willis messes that up, too, but it's tangential to the main point.)

The ocean is gaining heat, i.e. warming. Willis's methodology is wrong, confused, and...well, too-often typical.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Killing the "Cooling Since 2002" Meme

The driver of the climate clown car is trying to cook up a new meme, based on this unfortunate Judith Curry post -- global cooling since 2002.

Of course, it isn't true when you look at the entire Earth, but it isn't even true if you only look at the surface -- neither cooling nor warming is statistially signficant in such a short time period.

Here's the trend since 2002 for the GISS global surface temperature:

The uncertainty is huge. There is simply too much inertia and too much noise in the climate system to say anything climatologically meaningful over such a short time period, which in this case is heavily influenced by two La Ninas near the end of its interval.

I don't, of course, expect anything like a commitment to the truth from Morano, but certain other people ought to know better.

"The tragic consequences of 'the American way of life'"

"So we have reached the point in history where we must face up to the tragic consequences of 'the American way of life,' a way of life also lived in other affluent countries, albeit typically with less intensity and ideological conviction. The same qualities that made the United States a great nation -- relentless optimism, commitment to know-how, determination to expand -- have become the enemies of its preservation and, collaterally, the preservation of the rest of humanity. A nation that has expansion running in its blood can barely conceive of contraction, and so the question we well soon be forced to ask is how much of the rest of the world will be sacrificed to prolong the dream of affluence?"

-- Clive Hamilton, Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering
"...if the meek are ever going to inherit the Earth then they had better be quick."

-- Clive Hamilton, Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Army Corps Opts-Out of Its Mission Statement

The Army Corps of Enginners opted to ignore its Mission Statement today, telling Congress it won't comprehensively review proposed Pacific Northwestern coal export terminals.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not conduct an all-encompassing review of the three coal export projects proposed in the Northwest, rejecting requests from  Oregon and Washington's governors and project opponents.

Jennifer Moyer, acting chief of the Corps' regulatory program, told a House subcommittee today that the agency would review the three proposed export terminals separately, and would not directly address some of the opposition's top concerns. All three projects seek to export Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia through the Northwest.

"Many of the activities of concern to the public, such as rail traffic, coal mining, shipping coal outside of U.S. territory, and the ultimate burning of coal overseas, are outside the Corps' control and responsibility," Moyer said in prepared testimony.
ACE's Mission Statement reads:
Mission Statement: Provide vital public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen our Nation's security, energize the economy, and reduce risks from disasters.
And its Vision Statement is:
Vision Statement: A GREAT engineering force of highly disciplined people working with our partners through disciplined thought and action to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to the Nation's engineering challenges.
There's simply no way you can argue that the proposed exports, which would total 110 million tons annually, might not possibly increase "risks from disasters" (and hence require a review) or not constitute a "sustainable solution." That amount of coal would, when burned, emit about 250 million tonnes of CO2 a year (about 5% of US emissions), costing, according the EPA's social cost of carbon, over $9 billon annually.

+1 for politics, -1 for the environment. Science is left to softly weep over in the corner, its hankie thoroughly soaked by now.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Steak For Me, But Not For Thee

From an article about Google's Balloon Internet project that could provide Internet access everywhere on Earth:
Temple University communications professor Patrick Murphy warned of mixed consequences, pointing to China and Brazil as places where Internet service promoted democratic principles but also contributed to a surge in consumerism that has resulted in environmental and health problems.

"The nutritional and medical information, farming techniques, democratic principles those are the wonderful parts of it," he said. "But you also have everyone wanting to drive a car, eat a steak, drink a Coke."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

BEST Paper: AMO is Best Correlation with Global Temperatures

And to think I just gave Judith Curry grief for ignoring ocean warming.

OK, it's not exactly the same thing, but the BEST team has a paper out in JGR: Atmospheres:
Muller, R. A., J. Curry, D. Groom, R. Jacobsen, S. Perlmutter, R. Rohde, A. Rosenfeld, C. Wickham, and J. Wurtele (2013), Decadal variations in the global atmospheric land temperatures, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 118, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50458.
Its abstract reads:

Their most relevant figure is

showing that the AMO has a better correlation with surface temperatures than does the PDO. (But not by a huge amount. But I need to read the paper in full to better understand.)

The AMO is currently in its warm phase, since the mid-1990s, and the PDO its cool phase. So, I think, this finding would imply a new cooling influence on surface temperatures (countering the enhanced greenhouse effect) until about the mid-2020s....

Is a Geoengineering Experiment Now Taking Place?

There is an intriguing statement by UK climate scientist Piers Forster in an RTCC article; near its end he says,
"There is one experiment we’re currently undertaking – we’re trying to look at rescuing Arctic Ice by stimulating aeroplanes flying from Spitzbergen in Norway – and dump out a lot of Sulphur Dioxide, and we’re trying to look at that as a very short term protection against the loss of Arctic Ice."
It's unclear what "simulation" means -- I've written to ask him for more details. If it's actually planes dumping sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, even on a small scale, that would be a huge deal, since no one has yet to do more than study such proposals, and there are all kinds of reasons why such "solar radiation management" (SRM) may be a bad idea. (I wrote about some of the ethical questions here.) Even as an experiment, it would be a huge step in a direction no one has yet dared to go.

A Record for the Pause?

In what may be a record for the claimed length of The Pause in global surface temperatures, a columnist in South Africa named David Gleason writes,
Between 1995 and last year carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rose 10%, but global temperatures not at all.
This is complete nonsense. HadCRUT4 shows the globe warming 0.17°C (0.31°F) since January 1995, a number that is very statistically significant(*).

How that equals zero, I have no idea.

By the way, the David Rose Hole still exists, barely. There is still a 9-month period from 5/1997 to 1/1998 where there is warming-til-today, but whose statistical significance falls below 95% -- all the way to 89%. (*Again, no autocorrelation.)

(*) This conclusion doesn't includes autocorrelation. Slope uncertainties that take autocorrelation into account are nearly impossible to calculate using Excel, if you want to calculate them for a range of dates, because you need to create an array of the residuals for each interval. And I just haven't gotten around to writing a Python or R script to do it. Using the SkS trend calculator, I find that the HadCRUT4 trend since Jan-1995 is 0.095 ± 0.109 °C/decade (2σ), which is not quite statistically signficant warming at the 95% confidence level, though it is at the 92% level -- the large uncertainty simply showing that it's usually difficult to make statistically signficant conclusions about climatologically short time intervals (as I wrote about in the Sidebar here).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stunned by a Judith Curry Post

I'm sorry, but I simply cannot understand this kind of thing from a scientist.

Judith Curry writes:
This period since 2002 is scientifically interesting, since it coincides with the ‘climate shift’ circa 2001/2002 posited by Tsonis and others. This shift and the subsequent slight cooling trend provides a rationale for inferring a slight cooling trend over the next decade or so, rather than a flat trend from the 15 yr ‘pause’.
I simply cannot fathom why any scientist would make such claims about short time periods - they are not representative of climate, but of natural variability.

I try, I really try when I write my articles, to include alternative voices. But anymore the (so-called) skeptics are getting increasingly ridiculous: this quote by Curry, Roger Pielke Jr's claim that Marcott et al bordered on misconduct, or John Christy's flogging an Anthony Watts blog post in front of Congress a mere couple of days after it appeared on a blog and before it was submitted for peer-reviewed. (And where, can I ask, has this finding yet appeared in the peer-reviewed literature? Nowhere, that's where.)

I have the utmost respect for the values of science and want to believe that all scientists are coming from an intellectually honest place.

But when I read things like this, I am simply stunned.

Is "The Big Burp" Underway?

The "Big Burp" would be the thawing of permafrost -- frozen soil -- that underlies much of the Arctic.

It contains an estimated 1,400-1,850 gigatons of carbon -- man's carbon emissions to date are about 385 GtC, from burning fossil fuels and land use changes.

That's 3.5 to 5 times as much as has been emitted so far.

Of course, this thawing will occur over centuries.

And it's why it's ridiculous to look only at the global average change in surface temperatures.

This is something you'd completely miss if you buy that global warming paused 17 years 4 months ago, as Lord Monckton recently claimed. It's not true anyway, but even if it was, such a broad brush stroke misses important regional changes, such as the fact that the North Pole region has warmed by 0.80°C in that time period, according to UAH data for the lower troposphere.

The NASA scientists say:
"Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures - as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years.... As heat from Earth's surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic's carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming."
They don't give any numbers -- I guess they will have to wait for their papers. But there is a surprisingly small amount of methane in our current atmosphere: only about 5.2 Gt.

Are atmospheric methane levels increasing? Yes, but only a little. Here is the graph of monthly CH4 measurements from a station in Yonagunijima, Japan. It just happens to be a station I found that updates only a month or to after the present, and is relatively far north:

So after whatever caused last decades pause in CH4 levels -- the consensus seems to be related to the implosion of the Soviet Union, though no one I've read seems especially sure -- methane levels are on the rise again.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Zvuki mu

Via: The World

Roy Spencer Writes....

Roy Spencer writes:
Forgive me if I sound frustrated, but we scientists who still believe that climate change can also be naturally forced have been virtually cut out of funding and publication by the ‘humans-cause-everything-bad-that-happens’ juggernaut.
Of course, few scientists would agree to sign on to the Cornwall Alliance's Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which says
"Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history."
The Declaration says a lot more, but that's enough.

I can understand how a "scientist" would be upset about being cut out of funding. But by signing the Cornwall Alliance declaration, Spencer has explicitely removed himself from the realm of science and has instead taken up a religious view of the world, and hence of climate.

I simply cannot understand how such a person expects to receive funding to do science, when he has made it very clear that his views are based on religion.

Religion should be funding him, not science.

About the Plateau

Justin Gillis writes, in a very good article in the New York Times:
As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.

Rarely do they mention that most of the warmest years in the historical record have occurred recently. Moreover, their claim depends on careful selection of the starting and ending points. The starting point is almost always 1998, a particularly warm year because of a strong El Niño weather pattern.

Somebody who wanted to sell you gold coins as an investment could make the same kind of argument about the futility of putting your retirement funds into the stock market. If he picked the start date and the end date carefully enough, the gold salesman could make it look like the stock market did not go up for a decade or longer.

But that does not really tell you what your retirement money is going to do in the market over 30 or 40 years. It does not even tell you how you would have done over the cherry-picked decade, which would have depended on exactly when you got in and out of the market.

Scientists and statisticians reject this sort of selective use of numbers, and when they calculate the long-term temperature trends for the earth, they conclude that it continues to warm through time. Despite the recent lull, it is an open question whether the pace of that warming has undergone any lasting shift.
Unfortunately, I don't think Justin's article will change anything.

But personally, I'm getting a little tired of the "plateau." Arguments about it it simply aren't scientific.

Of course, I've done my own reporting on the subject.

Does UAH Have a Cool Bias?

By the way, there is a claim literature that UAH's mid-tropospheric temperatures are biased cool:

Po-Chedley, Stephen, Qiang Fu, 2012: A Bias in the Midtropospheric Channel Warm Target Factor on the NOAA-9 Microwave Sounding UnitJ. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 29, 646–652.

whose abstract says:
"The analysis reveals that the UAH TMT product has a positive bias of 0.051 ± 0.031 in the warm target factor that artificially reduces the global TMT trend by 0.042 K decade−1 for 1979–2009. Accounting for this bias increases the global UAH TMT trend from 0.038 to 0.080 K decade−1, effectively eliminating the trend difference between UAH and RSS and decreasing the trend difference between UAH and NOAA by 47%."
That would essentially eliminate the RSS-UAH discrepency I pointed out. (Actually I noted this paper last year, but forgot about it until I read this HotWhopper post.)

(Why is it UAH's biases always seem to be on the cool side??)

This claim prompted a response by Christy and Spencer, which brought its own response from the original authors last month, saying
The main finding by Po-Chedley and Fu was that the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) microwave sounding unit (MSU) product has a bias in its NOAA-9 midtropospheric channel (TMT) warm target factor, which leads to a cold bias in the TMT trend. This reply demonstrates that the central arguments by Christy and Spencer to challenge Po-Chedley and Fu do not stand.
Obviously this correction, if indeed true, would bring UAH into agreement with RSS but not with the model results as claimed by Spencer. I am still puzzled how it is that the average model trend doubled from 2007 to 2013.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Kind of on the Authoritarian Side

"You can have a democratic surveillance state which collects as little data as possible and tells you as much as possible about what it's doing, or you can have an authoritarian surveillance state which collects as much as possible and tells the public as little as possible. And we are kind of on the authoritarian side."

-- Paul Krugman

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Mid-Trop Tropical Cooling

Here is a graph of UAH's measurements of the middle tropical troposphere, showing the 10-year change in the 10-year moving average (viz. decade-over-decade) with some cooling in the middle part of last decade:

Hot Spot or Not?

Here is what the U.S. Climate Change Science Program wrote in their 2006 report.

John Christy of UAH and Carl Mears of RSS were both lead authors on this section, which concluded that uncertainties prevented any definite comparison between models and measurements.

Below is a rather complicated chart from this report. The relevant box is 3rd from the top, for the tropical troposphere.

The large red rectangle is the range of the models.
The blue rectangle is the range of the observations.
The red line is the average of all models.
The dots ought to have error bars on them, but don't.

This data is only for 1979-1999, so there has been 13 more years of data since.

Note that back then both UAH and RSS measured much larger trends (and again different) than they do now:

RSS: ≈ 0.17°C/decade
UAH: ≈ 0.09°C/decade

with the model average being ≈ 0.18°C/decade. Since then RSS and UAH have seen essentially no change in the middle troposphere in the tropics, and in fact some cooling.

The models though, according to Spencer, show an average warming of about 1.2°C over their 34 years, or about 0.35°C/decade, twice the rate of their 1999 versions.

RealClimate says, "The models have large differences in their tropical variability (which depends on their representation of El Nino-like processes in the Pacific)."

So the measurements have cooled considerably, and the models have warmed considerably. Which, if either, is right?

Friday, June 07, 2013

Keeping Portland Weird

Up to 8,000 riders are expected.

What Carbon (Should) Cost You

The EPA just raised the number they use for the social cost of carbon from $22 to $36 per metric ton of CO2. Brad Plumer has more background.... So what does this cost the average American -- or, rather, what would it cost if Americans were required to pay for their carbon pollution?

Here are some numbers:

The carbon intensity numbers and conversions come from this useful EPA page. Abbreviations: MJ = megajoule = 0.28 kilowatt-hours (kWh) = 239 food calories; t = tonne = metric ton = 1,000 kg. 12,000 kWh is about what the average household uses in electricity every year.

Right now the US has emitted 5.30 gigatons of CO2 in the last 12 months, which has a social cost of $191 billion, or 1.2% of GDP. That's higher than I would have guessed, but doesn't seem absurdly high.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Speaking of "Epic Fails"

CMIP5-73-models-vs-obs-20N-20S-MTRoy Spencer has a very unprofessional post, gloating over the failure of climate models to accurately project middle troposphere temperatures in the tropics.

I can't imagine any other science where a professional scientist would openly mock the work of his colleagues in this manner, as if it's all a competition between good and evil -- especially by a group that has seen its own share of epic failures over the years.

Surely this result, which I doubt is anything new to modelers, says more work on modeling and understanding climate is needed. (Remember, that is the whole point of all this: understanding climate and its changes.)

But then there is this: the linear trend for the entirety of the two datasets on middle tropospheric temperatures in the tropics is

RSS MT 20S-20N:   0.090 ± 0.028 °C/decade 
UAH MT 20S-20N:   0.030 ± 0.028 °C/decade

That's right -- their trends differ by a factor of three, with UAH by far the lowest -- a fact which is neatly hidden away in Spencer's graph by taking their average. (Added 6/8: How can Spencer claim "...the observations (which coincidentally give virtually identical trends)...."?)

Most people would consider that a failure of its own, and quite a bad one.

Maybe the people doing the measurements should be paying attention to getting their own piece of the science right, and they ought not be giving everyone else cause to wonder if perhaps their own data is extremely inaccurate or biased low.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

More With the Ice

More about ice spikes and the like....

This from a reader: a 7.5 cm protrusion from a rock pothole:

IceBladeIMG_5670 (2)

The caption gives a clear explanation:
Water expands when it freezes and as it typically freezes along the edges first in a confined space the tendency is for the volume of water in the center to be slightly raised as it freezes. Ice cubes made in a freezer usually have a somewhat convex surface. When factors such as water purity, the rate of freezing and the preferred growth of ice in crystalline planes are considered, expansion of freezing water can result in a variety of interesting structures, such as linear spikes with triangular cross-sections.
And in a variation of this physics, here's a underwater icicle formed in salt water, from the BBC (skip ahead to 1:45):

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

"Weather Whiplash," Clearly Explained

Here's a very clear explanation of how the loss of Arctic sea ice can be influencing weather extremes, or, as Neven puts it, causing "weather whiplash." From Peter Sinclair via the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.

Monday, June 03, 2013

A Paradox of History?

"These campaigns are bewildering until we remember that resisting environmental regulations, including energy efficiency measures, has become a sign of red-blooded faith in the prevailing system, the particular conservative construction of the American way of life. The ideological framing of environmentally benign technology has a long history in the United States. When Sherwood Rowland, the American chemist who would share the 1995 Nobel Prize with Paul Crutzen, advocated a ban on ozone-destroying consumer products, the aerosol spray-can industry suggested he was a KGB agent bent on destroying capitalism.  While renewable energy industries in the United States face constant political attacks, in China investment in green technologies is surging. It would be a paradox of history if it turned out that democracy in America had become so dysfunctional that it could be held hostage by an anti-environmental minority while a totalitarian government in China took decisive action on the threat of global warming, and in the process assumed the mantle of world leadership in which an emergent ‘Chinese way of life’ proved superior to its American counterpart.

Even so, it seems clear that the United States is at a stage in its history where it is having difficulty making good decisions in its own long-term interests, let alone those of the the rest of the world. The era in which judgements must be made about geoengineering has begun; within two or three decades a momentous choice will need to be made about deployment of Earth-changing technologies. Although the United States is not short of intelligent, thoughtful and deeply concerned people, from today’s vantage point it is hard to see it regaining enough political composure to be able to reflect carefully on the implications of doing so."

-- Clive Hamilton, Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Video of an Ice Spike Being Formed

Here's a video of an ice spike being formed, made in the ice lab of Edward Lozowski at the University of Alberta. (Movie by Lesley Hill, Russ Sampson and Edward Lozowski, with technical help by Kenny Lozowski.) Video rate is about 50 times normal.

Via Stephen Morris of the University of Toronto, who has a lot of interesting pages on unusual physics of everyday phenomena, including this Flickr page of ice spike photos.