Again Falsely Linking Smoking and Climate Science

Sarah Myhre is at it again, claiming climate science links storms to CO2 as certainly as smoking causes cancer.  Fossil fuel activists are obsessed with the smoking analogy, not least because oil companies have even deeper pockets than tobacco companies.

The analogy actually works against her on both sides.  Storms and CO2 are not correlated in the statistics, and she exaggerates the extent to which smoking results in cancer.  A previous post explains.

Original Post:  Climate Risky Business

A new theme emerging out of the IPCC Fifth Report was the emphasis on selling the risk of man-made climate change. The idea is that scientists should not advocate policy, but do have a responsibility to convince the public of the risks resulting from burning fossil fuels.

An article illustrates how this approach shapes recent public communications in support of actions on global warming/climate change.  Treading the Fine Line Between Climate Talk and Alarmism (Op-Ed)  By Sarah E. Myhre, Ph.D. | June 23, 2017.  Excerpts:

What is our role in public leadership as scientists? I would suggest a few action items: Work to reduce risk and cost for the public; steward the public’s interest in evidence; and be steady and committed to the scientific process of dissent, revision and discovery. This means communicating risk when necessary. We would never fault an oncologist for informing patients about the cancer risks that come with smoking. Why would we expect Earth scientists to be any different, when we’re just as certain?

As a public scholar with expertise in paleoclimate science, I communicate alarming, difficult information about the consequences to Earth and ocean systems that have come with past events of abrupt climate warming. As the saying goes, the past is the key to the future. 

We are living through a crisis of trust between the American public and climate scientists, and we must extend ourselves, as scientists and public servants, to rebuild transparency and trust with the public. I will start: I want the global community to mitigate the extreme risk of the warmest future climate scenarios. And, I want my kid to eat salmon and ski with his grandkids in the future. I am invested in that cooler, safer, more sustainable future — for your kids and for mine. Just don’t call me an alarmist.

This provides a teachable moment concerning the rhetorical maneuver to present climate as a risky business. The technique typically starts with a particular instance of actual risk and then makes a gross generalization so that the risk is exaggerated beyond reason.  From the article above:

Climate scientists are just as certain as oncologists are.

Herein lies the moral of this tale. The particular risk is the convincing epidemiological evidence linking lung cancer to smokers. The leap was claiming second-hand smoke puts non-smokers at risk of cancer. The statistical case was never conclusive, but the public was scared into enacting all kinds of smoke-free spaces.

Very few passive smoking/lung cancer studies are published these days compared to the glut of the 1980s and 1990s, but the handful that have appeared in recent years continue to support the null hypothesis. For all the campaigners’ talk of “overwhelming evidence”, the link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer has always been very shaky. It tends to be the smaller, case-control studies which find the associations while the larger, cohort studies do not (and, as the JNCI report notes, case-control studies “can suffer from recall bias: People who develop a disease that might be related to passive smoking are more likely to recall being exposed to passive smoking.”)

Gerard Silvestri, MD, of the Medical University of South Carolina, a member of NCI’s PDQ Screening and Prevention Editorial Board said (here):

“We’ve gotten smoking out of bars and restaurants on the basis of the fact that you and I and other nonsmokers don’t want to die,” said Silvestri. “The reality is, we probably won’t.”

To be clear, I don’t want smokers fouling my space in restaurants, and the policies are beneficial to me esthetically. But there was never any certainty about my risk of cancer, just the spoiling of clean air around me.  What was a matter of opinion and personal preference was settled politically by asserting scientific certainty of my health risk.

To draw the point finely, secondhand smoke shows how science is used by one group (anti-smoking activists) against another group (smokers) by mobilizing support for regulations on the basis of a generalized risk, raising concerns among the silent majority who otherwise were not particularly interested in the issue.

Climate as a Risky Business

Environmentalists have often employed risk exaggeration, beginning with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring full of innuendo about DDT without any actual epidemiological proof. Currently Junk Science provides a list of EPA exaggerations about environmental pollution, for example The scientific fraud that claims air pollution is killing people

In the climate field, any flat Polynesian island is of course at risk of flooding, and thus by extension they produce images of Manhattan under water. Global risk is trumpeted, ignoring all the local particularities of land subsidence, tidal gauge records, terrain drainage features, infrastructure, precipitation patterns, etc.

Any storm, drought, flood, or unusual weather likewise presents a particular risk in the locale where it occurs. The gross exaggeration is to claim that we are increasing the risk of all these events, and by stopping burning fossil fuels we can prevent them from happening.

Sarah Myhre’s research focuses on ocean dead zones (oxygen-depleted waters), which is a real and long-studied risk. Then comes her leap into the fearful future:

The surface and deep ocean will continue to absorb heat and CO2 from the atmosphere. The heating of the ocean will increase the stratification of water (i.e. ocean mixing will be reduced, as will the strength of thermohaline circulation). Ocean heating will also drive the thermal expansion of the interior of the ocean – this is one of the primary contributors to sea level rise.

The absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere will drive changes in the chemistry of surface and deep waters – there are significant biological consequences to acidifying the global surface ocean. Basically, we are looking at the fundamental reorganization of biological communities and ecological provinces in the ocean. These physical drivers (warming, stratification, acidification) all area associated with significant biological consequences.

This is a continuation of a scare called Climate Change Is Suffocating The Oceans.  Once again climate alarmists/activists have seized upon an actual environmental issue, but misdirect the public toward their CO2 obsession, and away from practical efforts to address a real concern. Some excerpts from scientific studies serve to put things in perspective.  See Ocean Oxygen Misdirection

As a paleoclimate expert the author knows the climate and sea levels have changed many times in the past, and often shifted quickly in geological terms.

And yet the evidence shows clearly that CO2 follows as an effect of changing temperatures, not the cause.

Summary

Warmists are of the opinion that because of burning fossil fuels, our modern climate no longer compares to paleoclimates, a claim in fact that humans are overriding natural forces. But the message from the ice cores is clear: Through the ages, CO2 responds to temperatures and not the other way around.

The other message is also clear: Climates change between warm and cool, and warm has always been good for humans and the biosphere. We should concern ourselves with Adaptation, preparing for the cold times with robust infrastructure and reliable, affordable energy.

See also CO2 and Climate Change for the Ages

See also Claim: Fossil Fuels Cause Global Warming
Updated 2017  Fossil Fuels ≠ Global Warming

Footnote:

Actuaries are accountants specialized in risk statistics like morbidity and mortality, usually working in the insurance industry.

Question:  What is the difference between an Actuary and an Auditor?
Answer:  The Auditor is the one with a sense of humor.
(Old joke from days working at KPMG)

See also:  Cavemen Climate Comics

Tsonis Explains Oceans Making Climate

 

THE LITTLE BOY El Niño and natural climate change by Anastasios Tsonis is a newly published GWPF report discussing how the ocean drives climate fluctuations.  This adds to a continuing theme of this blog, Oceans Make Climate, coined by Dr. Arnd Bernaerts, also expressed as Oceans Govern Climate.  The whole PDF is worth reading.

My own effort to describe these ocean oscillations is Dynamic Duo: The Ocean-Air Partnership which discusses how several of these oscillations operate, including the ENSO (El Nino) cycle:
Other posts provide background on climate effects from oceans.

Climate Report from the Water World discusses the linkage of global temperatures to ocean temperatures (SST).

Empirical Evidence: Oceans Make Climate presents in situ measurements of the ocean-air heat exchange flux.

All essays on this theme are found in the Category: Oceans Make Climate

Tropics Lead Ocean Warming in August

August Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) are now available, and we see an upward spike in ocean temps everywhere, led by sharp increases in the Tropics and SH, reversing for now the downward trajectory from the previous 12 months.  It seems likely the Tropical warming in particular factored into the active hurricane season peaking this month and next.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.

The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through August 2017.

In May despite a slight rise in the Tropics, declines in both hemispheres and globally caused SST cooling to resume after an upward bump in April.  Then in July a large drop showed in both in the Tropics and in SH, declining over 4 months.  The sharp upturn in August in the Tropics is the unusual feature this month, along with SH rising, resulting in a global average matching the previous two Augusts. Meanwhile the NH is peaking in August as in the past two years, but somewhat lower.  Despite the August warming, ENSO has gone below neutral toward La Nina, and no one expects a rise like 2015 in the coming months.

Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 were first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back to its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added two bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year. Also, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.

Note:  Last month someone asked about HadSST calculations, especially as the Global appeared to be a simple average of NH and SH, which would be misleading.  My query to Met Office received this clarifying response:

My colleague in the Climate Monitoring and Research team has advised the following:

For HadSST3, we take an area-weighted average of all the grid boxes with data in to calculate the global average. We don’t calculate the two hemispheric series and then average them. In the case of SST, this wouldn’t work because the southern hemisphere ocean area is larger than the northern hemisphere.

Kind regards,  Misha,  Weather Desk Climate Advisor

Summary

We have seen lots of claims about the temperature records for 2016 and 2015 proving dangerous man made warming.  At least one senator stated that in a confirmation hearing.  Yet HadSST3 data for the last two years show how obvious is the ocean’s governing of global average temperatures.

USS Pearl Harbor deploys Global Drifter Buoys in Pacific Ocean

The best context for understanding these two years comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

  • The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;
  • SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;
  • A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature these years.

Solar energy accumulates massively in the ocean and is variably released during circulation events.

 

Arctic Ice Refreezing

We are about 4 days away from the annual Arctic ice extent minimum, which typically occurs on or about day 260 (mid September). Some take any year’s slightly lower minimum as proof that Arctic ice is dying, but the image below shows day 260 over the last 10 years. The Arctic heart is beating clear and strong.

Click on image to enlarge.

Recent posts noted that 2017 Arctic ice extents were stabilizing and then coasting to a halt.  Now we are seeing a reversal with ice growing in all but one region.  While the daily average extent over the last 10 years bottomed out on day 260, years like 2016 and 2009 hit minimum on day 254.  This year’s extent was at 4.7M km2 for a week, hit bottom at 4.6M on day 253, and 3 days later is now up to 4.8M km2.  SII (Sea Ice Index) 2017 is similar to MASIE, though a bit lower lately. The graph below shows September comparisons.
Note that as of day 256, 2017 has gone 250k km2 above average, 500k km2 above 2007 and 2016, and 1300k km2 greater than 2012.  All regions are adding ice, with Central Arctic the only exception.  That is likely due to Central Arctic sea already full of ice at 3.1M km2.  The image below shows impressive refreezing in the Canadian Archipelago.

Click on image to enlarge.

Over this decade, the Arctic ice minimum has not declined, but looks like fluctuations around a plateau since 2007. By mid-September, all the peripheral seas have turned to water, and the residual ice shows up in a few places. The table below indicates where we can expect to find ice this September. (Shows day 260 amounts with 10 year averages)

Arctic Regions 2007 2010 2012 2014 2015 2016 Average
Central Arctic Sea 2.67 3.16 2.64 2.98 2.93 2.92 2.91
BCE 0.50 1.08 0.31 1.38 0.89 0.52 0.87
LKB 0.29 0.24 0.02 0.19 0.05 0.28 0.17
Greenland & CAA 0.56 0.41 0.41 0.55 0.46 0.45 0.46
B&H Bays 0.03 0.03 0.02 0.02 0.10 0.03 0.03
NH Total 4.05 4.91 3.40 5.13 4.44 4.20 4.45

BCE (Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian) on the Asian side are quite variable as the largest source of ice other than the Central Arctic itself.   Greenland Sea and CAA (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) together hold almost 0.5M km2 of ice at minimum, fairly consistently.   LKB are the European seas of Laptev, Kara and Barents, a smaller source of ice, but a difference maker some years, as Laptev was in 2016.  Baffin and Hudson Bays are almost inconsequential.

For context, note that the average maximum has been 15M, so on average the extent shrinks to 30% of the March high before growing back the following winter.

Footnote

Some people unhappy with the higher amounts of ice extent shown by MASIE continue to claim that Sea Ice Index is the only dataset that can be used. This is false in fact and in logic. Why should anyone accept that the highest quality picture of ice day to day has no shelf life, that one year’s charts can not be compared with another year? Researchers do this, including Walt Meier in charge of Sea Ice Index. That said, I understand his interest in directing people to use his product rather than one he does not control. As I have said before:

MASIE is rigorous, reliable, serves as calibration for satellite products, and continues the long and honorable tradition of naval ice charting using modern technologies. More on this at my post Support MASIE Arctic Ice Dataset

 

TV Monetizes Hurricane Irma

Weather reporters do a stand-up as the force of the winds caused by Hurricane Irma hit Miami. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Chicago Tribune on Sept. 11 published Swept away by TV coverage of Hurricane Irma by Dahleen Glanton, Contact Reporter.

It is a fine reflection piece by a media insider on how commercial media covers extreme weather events. She recounts her journey of discovery becoming critical and eventually repelled by the coverage from her own media colleagues. Excerpts below with my bolds.

I didn’t leave the house on Sunday. The hurricane story unfolding on my television set was too gripping to walk away for even a few minutes.

Television anchors kept warning us that much of Florida could be washed away by gigantic surges of ocean water in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The pictures coming out of Cuba and the Caribbean already had proved how devastating this storm could be. I was terrified for everyone in its path.

But that wasn’t the only reason I, and so many others, sat glued to the TV all day. Cable news television gave us a virtual front row seat to the developing storm, providing a riveting performance that was full of adventure, suspense and drama.

The show presented on the TV news was designed to be entertaining. It was meant to keep us captivated for hours, mesmerized by the “heroic” sacrifices of journalists who risked their lives to show us what it is like to stand outside in the midst of a deadly storm.

They described the predicted surge as “a killer water event” and the reporters vowed to run to safety before it occurred. But if we just kept watching — even through commercial breaks — they promised, we would see it for ourselves.

For many of us, this was an uneasy proposition. No one was excited about the possibility of people losing their homes and businesses, perhaps even lives, but the prospect of seeing a hurricane dance up close was too tempting to turn down.

Reporters went up to people who had ventured outside, including one man walking his three-legged dog, and warned them to go back inside before it was too late. The camera panned in on a bird as the reporter surmised that perhaps it had flown with the hurricane from as far away as Cuba. Birds follow hurricanes, he told us. These birds know when it’s safe to come out.

The reporters in their plastic rain slickers with the network’s logo on the back kept explaining that they were doing all this for us. Regardless of what the critics said about their reckless behavior, “We’re here so you don’t have to be,” they insisted.

The surge never happened Sunday, and we should be grateful for that. What we saw on TV was typical of a hurricane — howling winds, swaying trees and metal stop signs shaking in the distance. The anti-climatic ending left us confused.

How could a 10- to 15-foot surge hyped all day long for Florida’s west coast suddenly turn into one of about 3 feet? How could TV meteorologists presented on air as experts and reporters billed as experienced storm chasers get it so wrong?

I still don’t know the answers. But it didn’t take long to figure out that the cable news coverage from Florida on Sunday wasn’t about us at all. It was all about their ratings.

This was a new experience for me. For more than a decade, I covered hurricanes in the South for the Tribune. Hunkered down in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina, I never had the chance to see how a big storm was covered on national TV.

What I saw on Sunday was both shocking and intriguing.

As a journalist who has covered many hurricanes and tornadoes, I know what it takes to tell a story. Standing in front of a water-splashed camera holding a limb from a fallen tree is not necessary to show the strength of a storm.

I understand that television relies on the power of optics. It is true that a TV camera can paint a picture much more vividly than I could by writing about it on a computer.

While I’m sure some people who have relatives and friends in Florida were grateful for the in-depth coverage, too much of what we saw on Sunday was manufactured drama. Networks took advantage of a heartbreaking situation and made a mockery of it.

Surfing through the channels, the visuals were all the same. Reporters, wobbling in the bristling wind, their words barely audible as they attempted to convince us that it was OK for them to do what they were warning others not to do.

In one scene, a reporter tried to convince us that the concrete wall he was standing in front of would protect him from the surge. He demonstrated how he could bend down and take refuge from the wind if he needed to.

In the same breath, he warned of flying debris — roof shingles and street signage that could transform into projectiles so fierce that they could knock you out.

On another channel, a well-known meteorologist swayed and stumbled on a sidewalk while the eye of the hurricane went through Naples, Fla. The wind nearly took his breath away and viewers could barely understand what he was saying.

When we did manage to hear a thing or two, it was nothing of importance.

“This is a mid-level Category 3. Imagine if it was a Category 4 or 5?” he boasted. “This is a story you can tell your children and grandchildren.”

The anchor watching from the studio in New York seemed somewhat embarrassed. He offered this explanation for the perilous acts.

“So we can see what this does to our natural bodies and our world,” he said.

There were no surprises, though. We saw exactly what we expected to see when someone is standing outside in a hurricane.

The irony is that the people who would perhaps benefit from such a display didn’t get to see it at all. Millions of people across Florida were without electricity during the height of the storm.

It’s probably safe to bet they weren’t using up their limited cell phone access watching a news anchor in New York explaining what was going on in their back yards.

This show wasn’t meant for them at all. It was for people like you and me who were sitting in our nice dry homes with a bag of popcorn in one hand and the TV remote control in the other.

All of us should be honest about that.

dglanton@chicagotribune.com

Conclusion:

This could be a tipping point.  We may be witnessing the dawning of skeptical awareness at the Chicago Tribune, bastion of political correctness regarding all things climate related. One of their own catches them “Jumping the Shark.”

“Jumping the shark” is attempting to draw attention to or create publicity for something that is perceived as not warranting the attention, especially something that is believed to be past its peak in quality or relevance. The phrase originated with the TV series “Happy Days” when an episode had Fonzie doing a water ski jump over a shark. The stunt was intended to perk up the ratings, but it marked the show’s low point ahead of its demise.

 

 

Arctic Ice Coasting Sept. 12

Crystal Serenity touring in the Arctic Northwest Passage 2016 and 2017.

With the most typical day for annual minimum a week away, watching Arctic ice is like watching an ocean liner coasting to a halt before reversing engines.  A recent post reported that ice extents  are stabilizing around 4.7M km2 in recent days, and more importantly, some refreezing in the central seas.  As discussed in Arctic Heart Beat, the marginal shelf seas seldom have ice at annual minimum, typically on or about day 260.  The image below shows the progression of ice extents from 2007 to 2017 on day 254 with six days to go.

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Yesterday was day 254 and the graph below shows 2017 compared with other years and the decadal average during the last 3 weeks.

For the last week MASIE and SII are showing the same extent, now about 70k km2 above the 10 year average.  Only four years in the decade had more ice on this day.  2007 is 300k km2 lower, 2016 500k km2 lower, and at the bottom is 2012 1.1M km2 below 2017.  A recent post on August storms discussed the dramatic impact on 2012 and 2016, which is evident as well in the chart.  The table compares 2017, decadal average and 2007 for the regions containing ice at this time.

Region 2017254 Day 254
Average
2017-Ave. 2007254 2017-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 4652293 4583359 68934 4349612 302681
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 393863 480306 -86443 599679 -205815
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 131705 173275 -41570 74733 56973
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 279268 286737 -7468 311 278957
 (4) Laptev_Sea 205794 149612 56182 247496 -41702
 (5) Kara_Sea 18486 29190 -10705 62274 -43788
 (6) Barents_Sea 4313 25209 -20896 7384 -3071
 (7) Greenland_Sea 107969 211322 -103353 324789 -216820
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 45146 22235 22911 21406 23740
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 370958 262283 108675 210083 160875
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1432 11057 -9625 16552 -15120
 (11) Central_Arctic 3092201 2931173 161028 2783651 308551

The deficits continue to be on the Pacific side, especially Beaufort, and also Greenland Sea is down this year.  These are more than offset by large surpluses in the Central Arctic and Canadian Archipelago, and also Laptev.  East Siberian sea also has surplus ice this year compared to 2007.

aer Atmospheric and Environmental Research

September 5, 2017 Dr. Judah Cohen of AER posted his monthly forecast for the Arctic and NH based on the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).  Excerpts below.

The AO is currently slightly negative (Figure 1), reflective of mostly positive geopotential height anomalies across the Arctic and mixed geopotential height anomalies across the mid-latitudes of the NH (Figure 2). Geopotential height anomalies are mostly negative across Greenland and Iceland (Figure 2), and therefore the NAO is slightly positive.
Figure 1. (a) The predicted daily-mean near-surface AO from the 00Z 5 September 2017 GFS ensemble. Gray lines indicate the AO index from each individual ensemble member, with the ensemble-mean AO index given by the red line with squares.

The AO is predicted to straddle neutral next week as geopotential height anomalies remain mixed across the Arctic. Similarly, with mixed geopotential height anomalies stretching across Greenland and Iceland, the NAO will likely be near neutral as well.  

(Note: AO and NAO are signed differently than one might expect; the reference point is outside the Arctic itself.  Thus negative phases of these indices mean higher pressures in the Arctic and lower outside, while positive phases indicate lower pressures in the Arctic.  Now that the Arctic sun is setting, the main issue for ice extent is storminess which requires low Arctic pressures.)

Impacts

It is the first week of fall, a season of transition from summer to winter. One important sign IMO of this seasonal transition is the return of the polar vortex in the stratosphere. The models predict the possible formation of the polar vortex sometime next week. Starting in October, I will be watching variability in the polar vortex for signs of pattern changes in the weather across the NH.

Another sign of the seasonal transition is the minimum in Arctic sea ice extent, which will be achieved in the coming days and/or weeks. The trajectory of sea ice melt has slowed since early August. In my last blog I suggested the possibility that the sea ice minimum could be similar to the years 2008 and 2010 and that is looking more likely but is difficult to predict. Over the coming months, I will be following Arctic sea ice variability for signs of the severity of the upcoming winter. Our understanding for how anomalies in sea ice extent influence the weather in the mid-latitudes is still immature IMO but I do think that important progress has been made recently.

Another sign of the transition from summer to winter is the return of snowfall to the NH. Snowfall over the sea ice in August probably helped retard the melt of sea ice and snowfall is now even occurring over Siberia and Alaska but is still very regionalized. Again I will be monitoring the advance of snow cover extent across the continents for signs of the strength of the polar vortex and the possible resultant weather.

Finally I find it interesting that while the atmospheric circulation has transitioned from the dominant summer pattern across Eurasia it has not across North America. The dominant summer pattern across Eurasia was ridging across Europe (with the exception of Northern Europe) and East Asia but with troughing in Western Asia. The forecast for the coming weeks is the opposite with troughs across Europe and East Asia but ridging in Western Asia. This is an overall cooler pattern than the dominant summer pattern. However across North America there are no similar signs of transition. The dominant summer pattern was strong ridging across western North America and troughing in eastern North America and at least for now that pattern looks to continue for much of the month of September. I don’t know the reason behind the persistent western ridge/eastern trough pattern across North America but how long this pattern can persist will obviously have important implications for the weather across North America in the coming months.

Summary

Bottom line, looks like September weather will be ordinary in the Arctic with seasonal cooling in the NH.  Dr. Cohen also thinks the annual ice extent minimum will be near average for the decade.  While the monthly average is final only at September end, this week will set the tone and likely result.

 

 

Autumnal Climate Change 2017

 

geese-in-v-formation

Seeing a lot more of this lately, along with hearing the geese  honking. And in the next month or so, we expect that trees around here will lose their leaves. It definitely is climate change of the seasonal variety.

Interestingly, the science on this is settled: It is all due to reduction of solar energy because of the shorter length of days (LOD). The trees drop their leaves and go dormant because of less sunlight, not because of lower temperatures. The latter is an effect, not the cause.

Of course, the farther north you go, the more remarkable the seasonal climate change. St. Petersburg, Russia has their balmy “White Nights” in June when twilight is as dark as it gets, followed by the cold, dark winter and a chance to see the Northern Lights.

And as we have been monitoring, the Arctic ice has been melting from sunlight in recent months, but will now begin to build again in the darkness to its maximum in March.

We can also expect in January and February for another migration of millions of Canadians (nicknamed “snowbirds”) to fly south in search of a summer-like climate to renew their memories and hopes. As was said to me by one man in Saskatchewan (part of the Canadian wheat breadbasket region): “Around here we have Triple-A farmers: April to August, and then Arizona.” Here’s what he was talking about: Quartzsite Arizona annually hosts 1.5M visitors, mostly between November and March.

Of course, this is just North America. Similar migrations occur in Europe, and in the Southern Hemisphere, the climates are changing in the opposite direction, Springtime currently. Since it is so obviously the sun causing this seasonal change, the question arises: Does the sunlight vary on longer than annual timescales?

The Solar-Climate Debate

And therein lies a great, enduring controversy between those (like the IPCC) who dismiss the sun as a driver of multi-Decadal climate change, and those who see a connection between solar cycles and Earth’s climate history. One side can be accused of ignoring the sun because of a prior commitment to CO2 as the climate “control knob”.

The other side is repeatedly denounced as “cyclomaniacs” in search of curve-fitting patterns to prove one or another thesis. It is also argued that a claim of 60-year cycles can not be validated with only 150 years or so of reliable data. That point has weight, but it is usually made by those on the CO2 bandwagon despite temperature and CO2 trends correlating for only 2 decades during the last century.

One scientist in this field is Nicola Scafetta, who presents the basic concept this way:

“The theory is very simple in words. The solar system is characterized by a set of specific gravitational oscillations due to the fact that the planets are moving around the sun. Everything in the solar system tends to synchronize to these frequencies beginning with the sun itself. The oscillating sun then causes equivalent cycles in the climate system. Also the moon acts on the climate system with its own harmonics. In conclusion we have a climate system that is mostly made of a set of complex cycles that mirror astronomical cycles. Consequently it is possible to use these harmonics to both approximately hindcast and forecast the harmonic component of the climate, at least on a global scale. This theory is supported by strong empirical evidences using the available solar and climatic data.”

He goes on to say:

“The global surface temperature record appears to be made of natural specific oscillations with a likely solar/astronomical origin plus a noncyclical anthropogenic contribution during the last decades. Indeed, because the boundary condition of the climate system is regulated also by astronomical harmonic forcings, the astronomical frequencies need to be part of the climate signal in the same way the tidal oscillations are regulated by soli-lunar harmonics.”

He has concluded that “at least 60% of the warming of the Earth observed since 1970 appears to be induced by natural cycles which are present in the solar system.” For the near future he predicts a stabilization of global temperature and cooling until 2030-2040.

 

For more see Scafetta vs. IPCC: Dueling Climate Theories

A Deeper, but Accessible Presentation of Solar-Climate Theory

I have found this presentation by Ian Wilson to be persuasive while honestly considering all of the complexities involved.

The author raises the question: What if there is a third factor that not only drives the variations in solar activity that we see on the Sun but also drives the changes that we see in climate here on the Earth?

The linked article is quite readable by a general audience, and comes to a similar conclusion as Scafetta above: There is a connection, but it is not simple cause and effect. And yes, length of day (LOD) is a factor beyond the annual cycle.

Click to access IanwilsonForum2008.pdf

It is fair to say that we are still at the theorizing stage of understanding a solar connection to earth’s climate. And at this stage, investigators look for correlations in the data and propose theories (explanations) for what mechanisms are at work. Interestingly, despite the lack of interest from the IPCC, solar and climate variability is a very active research field these days.

A summary of recent studies is provided at NoTricksZone: Since 2014, 400 Scientific Papers Affirm A Strong Sun-Climate Link

Ian Wilson has much more to say at his blog: http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/

Once again, it appears that the world is more complicated than a simple cause and effect model suggests.

Fluctuations in observed global temperatures can be explained by a combination of oceanic and solar cycles.  See engineering analysis from first principles Quantifying Natural Climate Change.

For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 1:9)

Original post in 2015 included this commentary with Dr. Arnd Bernaerts

ArndB comments:

Fine writing, Ron, well done!
No doubt the sun is the by far the most important factor for not living on a globe with temperatures down to minus 200°C. That makes me hesitating to comment on „solar and climate variability” or “the sun drives climate” (currently at NTZ – link above), but today merely requesting humbly that the claimed correlation should be based at least on some evidence showing that the sun has ever caused a significant climatic shift during the last one million years, which was not only a bit air temperature variability due to solar cycles that necessarily occur in correlation with the intake and release of solar-radiation by the oceans and seas.

Interestingly the UK MetOffice just released a report (Sept.2015, pages 21) titled:
“Big Changes Underway in the Climate System?” by attributing the most possible and likely changes to the current status of El Niño, PDO, and AMO, and – of course – carbon dioxide -, and a bit speculation on less sun-energy (see following excerpt at link)

Click to access Changes_In_The_Climate_System.pdf

From p. 13: “It is well established that trace gases such as carbon dioxide warm our planet through the “greenhouse effect”. These gases are relatively transparent to incoming sunlight, but trap some of the longer-wavelength radiation emitted by the Earth. However, other factors, both natural and man-made, can also change global temperatures. For example, a cooling could be caused by a downturn of the amount of energy received from the sun, or an increase in the sunlight reflected back to space by aerosol particles in the atmosphere. Aerosols increase temporarily after volcanic eruptions, but are also generated by pollution such as sulphur dioxide from factories.
These “external” factors are imposed on the climate system and may also affect the ENSO, PDO and AMO variations……

My Reply:

Thanks Arnd for engaging in this topic.

My view is that the ocean makes the climate by means of its huge storage of solar energy, and the fluctuations, oscillations in the processes of distributing that energy globally and to the poles. In addition, the ocean is the most affected by any variation in the incoming solar energy, both by the sun outputting more or less, and also by clouds and aerosols blocking incoming radiation more or less (albedo or brightness variability).  See Nature’s Sunscreen

The oscillations you mention, including the present El Nino (and Blob) phenomenon, show natural oceanic variability over years and decades. Other ocean cycles occur over multi-decadal and centennial scales, and are still being analyzed.

At the other end of the scale, I am persuaded that the earth switches between the “hot house” and the “ice house” mainly due to orbital cycles, which are an astronomical phenomenon. These are strong enough to overwhelm the moderating effect of the ocean thermal flywheel.

The debate centers on the extent to which solar activity has contributed to climate change over the last 3000 years of our current interglacial period, including current solar cycles.

 

Lomborg Warns: Don’t Be Distracted by Climate Change

A woman stands in the flood water in Sariakandi, Bangladesh, on Aug. 20.PHOTO: TURJOY CHOWDHURY/ZUMA PRESS

Lomborg lucidity is again on display in his recent WSJ article The Climate-Change Distraction
It’s confusing, causally incorrect and diverts resources from real solutions to real problems. By Bjorn Lomborg  Sept. 7, 2017. Full text with my bolds

Climate change has been blamed for a dizzying array of absurd woes, from the dwindling number of customers at Bulgarian brothels to the death of the Loch Ness monster. Most of us can see through these silly headlines, but it’s far harder to parse the more serious claims when they’re repeated in good faith by well-meaning campaigners.

Consider the recent assertion by Unicef’s Bangladesh head of mission that climate change leads to an increase in child marriages. Between 2011 and 2020 globally, more than 140 million girls under the age of 18 will become brides, leading to curtailed education and reduced lifetime earnings, more domestic violence, more deaths from complications due to pregnancy and increased mortality for the young brides’ children. By all accounts, child marriage must be taken seriously.

In Bangladesh, nearly 75% of women between the ages of 20 and 49 reported that they were married before they turned 18, giving the country the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world. As the Unicef head tells it, climate change has been a major cause, as warmer weather has worsened the flooding, pushing people to the cities, leading to more child marriages.

This entire string of logic is wrong. The frequency of extreme floods in Bangladesh has increased, it’s true, but studies show their magnitude and duration have in fact decreased. And Bangladesh is far better at adapting today than it was a generation ago. In 1974, a flood killed 29,000 people and cost 7.5% of the country’s gross domestic product. A slightly larger flood in 2004 killed 761 people and cost 3.3% of GDP.

Nor is Unicef right to claim a connection between flooding and urbanization. A study published in the Journal of Biosocial Science found that living in cities doesn’t increase the likelihood of child marriages in Bangladesh. Rather, it was “significantly higher among rural women.” According to another study, published in the Chinese Journal of Population Resources and Environment, the average age of marriage in cities is 16.15 years, compared to 15.08 years in rural areas.

This isn’t surprising. Across the world, there’s a convergence between low urbanization rates and higher child-marriage rates. In Africa, the three worst countries for child marriage—Chad, Mali and Niger—also have the lowest levels of urbanization.

Given the weak links between warming, flooding, urbanization and the contrary link between urbanization and child marriage, climate policies would be the least effective in addressing the problem. Copenhagen Consensus research shows that we need to focus instead on nutrition and education, political opportunities for girls and women, and improving women’s rights to inherit and start a business.

A program in southern Bangladesh run by Save the Children, for example, has demonstrated the significant effects of even a modest financial incentive: The program regularly gave cooking oil to parents of unmarried girls between the ages of 15 and 17, conditional upon confirmation that the girls remained unmarried. The program found that these girls were up to 30% less likely to marry before the age of 16 and up to 22% more likely to remain in school. Each dollar spent on such conditional transfer programs does about $4 of social good.

It’s these kinds of efforts that make it more likely girls will continue in school and engage in productive jobs, reducing child marriage. Talking about climate is confusing, causally incorrect and diverts important resources away from more effective interventions.

A similar argument can be made for another challenge often linked to global warming: malaria. In this case, the science is unambiguous. Rising temperatures mean that malaria-carrying mosquitoes can become endemic in more places.

But looking mainly to global-warming policies means missing the most important levers of tackling malaria. Malaria is a consequence of poverty: The worst affected are those poorer households in rural areas with less ability to purchase mosquito nets and treatment. Focusing on what we could achieve in the future through global-warming policies takes our attention away from what we could accomplish today.

Over the past 15 years, more than six million lives have been saved from malaria. This didn’t happen because we cut CO 2 and managed to marginally change temperatures.

If climate policies like the Kyoto Protocol had been fully enacted, temperature reductions would have saved just 1,400 lives from malaria each year, at a price tag of about $180 billion a year. By contrast, just $500 million spent in one year on direct antimalaria measures such as mosquito nets, sprays and treatment could save 300,000 lives.

None of this means that we should ignore climate change. But to respond properly we need to stick to the facts and maintain a sense of perspective, avoiding tenuous connections and ineffective solutions that ultimately divert resources away from fixing the real problems.

Mr. Lomborg is the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and the author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” and “Cool It.”

See more at Lomborg Lucidity

Bjorn Lomborg knows what works to alleviate and address actual human suffering rather than modelled future disasters.  With his focus on the here and now, and realistic assessment of relief programs, he should be the UN spokesperson, not Dicaprio.

More from Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus Center at Watching a UN Train Wreck

Cavemen Climate Comics for Sunday

 

This storm season is frightening and has climatists freaking out.  Perhaps some comic relief is in order. This post is a collection of cartoons that put modern awarenesses into cavemen conversations. It was inspired by a great cartoon from Rick McKee of the Augusta Chronicle which appears near the end.  H/T  WUWT.

As we shall see, some modern ideas aren’t far removed from stone age thinking.  For example, the cartoon above portrays the invention of environmentalism to repudiate technology advances

Then we have the inevitable social pressure to put down backward people.

Virtue signaling provides a way for the unevolved to fit in.

Eventually, social media overwhelms scientific progress.

Of course climate social discourse depends on magical thinking.

Rick McKee of the Augusta Chronicle H/T  WUWT.

Footnote:

Postmodern social media also have unfortunate side effects.

Postscript

On a more serious note, these events remind me what Michael Crichton wrote in State of Fear (2004).

Our planet is five billion years old, and it has been changing constantly all during that time. […] Our atmosphere is as violent as the land beneath it. At any moment there are one thousand five hundred electrical storms across the planet. Eleven lightning bolts strike the ground each second. A tornado tears across the surface every six hours. And every four days, a giant cyclonic storm, hundreds of miles in diameter, spins over the ocean and wreaks havoc on the land.

The nasty little apes that call themselves human beings can do nothing except run and hide. For these same apes to imagine they can stabilize this atmosphere is arrogant beyond belief. They can’t control the climate.

The reality is, they run from the storms.

More at In Praise of Michael Crichton

Early Arctic Minimum?

It is a few days earlier than usual, but MASIE shows ice extents  stabilizing near 4.7M km2 in recent days, and more importantly, some refreezing in the central seas.  As discussed in Arctic Heart Beat, the marginal shelf seas seldom have ice at annual minimum, typically on or about day 260.  The image below shows the progression of ice extents from 2007 to 2017.

Yesterday was day 251 and the graph below shows 2017 compared with other years and the decadal average during the last 3 weeks.

At this point MASIE and SII are showing the same extent, about 100k km2 above the 10 year average.  2007 is 250k km2 lower, 2016 500k km2 lower, and at the bottom is 2012 1.1M km2 below 2017.  The table compares 2017, decadal average and 2007 for the regions containing ice at this time.

Region 2017251 Day 251
Average
2017-Ave. 2007251 2017-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 4716948 4619900 97048 4467771 249177
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 409067 492365 -83298 643868 -234801
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 133345 185601 -52257 95240 38105
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 279966 301146 -21180 311 279655
 (4) Laptev_Sea 196236 152840 43396 252479 -56243
 (5) Kara_Sea 22449 30277 -7828 59593 -37144
 (6) Barents_Sea 23123 20028 3095 5882 17240
 (7) Greenland_Sea 116132 196719 -80586 315125 -198993
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 46799 21575 25224 17173 29626
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 374084 268736 105348 236583 137501
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1191 11933 -10743 22646 -21455
 (11) Central_Arctic 3113399 2937746 175653 2817614 295785

The deficits continue to be on the Pacific side, especially Beaufort, and also Greenland Sea is down this year.  These are more than offset by large surpluses in the Central Arctic and Canadian Archipelago, and also Laptev.  East Siberian sea also has surplus ice this year compared to 2007.

aer Atmospheric and Environmental Research

September 5, 2017 Dr. Judah Cohen of AER posted his monthly forecast for the Arctic and NH based on the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).  Excerpts below.

The AO is currently slightly negative (Figure 1), reflective of mostly positive geopotential height anomalies across the Arctic and mixed geopotential height anomalies across the mid-latitudes of the NH (Figure 2). Geopotential height anomalies are mostly negative across Greenland and Iceland (Figure 2), and therefore the NAO is slightly positive.
Figure 1. (a) The predicted daily-mean near-surface AO from the 00Z 5 September 2017 GFS ensemble. Gray lines indicate the AO index from each individual ensemble member, with the ensemble-mean AO index given by the red line with squares.

The AO is predicted to straddle neutral next week as geopotential height anomalies remain mixed across the Arctic. Similarly, with mixed geopotential height anomalies stretching across Greenland and Iceland, the NAO will likely be near neutral as well.  

(Note: AO and NAO are signed differently than one might expect; the reference point is outside the Arctic itself.  Thus negative phases of these indices mean higher pressures in the Arctic and lower outside, while positive phases indicate lower pressures in the Arctic.  Now that the Arctic sun is setting, the main issue for ice extent is storminess which requires low Arctic pressures.)

Impacts

It is the first week of fall, a season of transition from summer to winter. One important sign IMO of this seasonal transition is the return of the polar vortex in the stratosphere. The models predict the possible formation of the polar vortex sometime next week. Starting in October, I will be watching variability in the polar vortex for signs of pattern changes in the weather across the NH.

Another sign of the seasonal transition is the minimum in Arctic sea ice extent, which will be achieved in the coming days and/or weeks. The trajectory of sea ice melt has slowed since early August. In my last blog I suggested the possibility that the sea ice minimum could be similar to the years 2008 and 2010 and that is looking more likely but is difficult to predict. Over the coming months, I will be following Arctic sea ice variability for signs of the severity of the upcoming winter. Our understanding for how anomalies in sea ice extent influence the weather in the mid-latitudes is still immature IMO but I do think that important progress has been made recently.

Another sign of the transition from summer to winter is the return of snowfall to the NH. Snowfall over the sea ice in August probably helped retard the melt of sea ice and snowfall is now even occurring over Siberia and Alaska but is still very regionalized. Again I will be monitoring the advance of snow cover extent across the continents for signs of the strength of the polar vortex and the possible resultant weather.

Finally I find it interesting that while the atmospheric circulation has transitioned from the dominant summer pattern across Eurasia it has not across North America. The dominant summer pattern across Eurasia was ridging across Europe (with the exception of Northern Europe) and East Asia but with troughing in Western Asia. The forecast for the coming weeks is the opposite with troughs across Europe and East Asia but ridging in Western Asia. This is an overall cooler pattern than the dominant summer pattern. However across North America there are no similar signs of transition. The dominant summer pattern was strong ridging across western North America and troughing in eastern North America and at least for now that pattern looks to continue for much of the month of September. I don’t know the reason behind the persistent western ridge/eastern trough pattern across North America but how long this pattern can persist will obviously have important implications for the weather across North America in the coming months.

Summary

Bottom line, looks like September weather will be ordinary in the Arctic with seasonal cooling in the NH.  Dr. Cohen also thinks the annual ice extent minimum will be near average for the decade.  While the monthly average is final only at September end, the next week will set the tone and likely result.