N. Atlantic Keeps Its Cool

RAPID Array measuring North Atlantic SSTs.

For the last few years, observers have been speculating about when the North Atlantic will start the next phase shift from warm to cold. Given the way 2018 went and 2019 is following, this may be the onset.  First some background.

. Source: Energy and Education Canada

An example is this report in May 2015 The Atlantic is entering a cool phase that will change the world’s weather by Gerald McCarthy and Evan Haigh of the RAPID Atlantic monitoring project. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

This is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and the transition between its positive and negative phases can be very rapid. For example, Atlantic temperatures declined by 0.1ºC per decade from the 1940s to the 1970s. By comparison, global surface warming is estimated at 0.5ºC per century – a rate twice as slow.

In many parts of the world, the AMO has been linked with decade-long temperature and rainfall trends. Certainly – and perhaps obviously – the mean temperature of islands downwind of the Atlantic such as Britain and Ireland show almost exactly the same temperature fluctuations as the AMO.

Atlantic oscillations are associated with the frequency of hurricanes and droughts. When the AMO is in the warm phase, there are more hurricanes in the Atlantic and droughts in the US Midwest tend to be more frequent and prolonged. In the Pacific Northwest, a positive AMO leads to more rainfall.

A negative AMO (cooler ocean) is associated with reduced rainfall in the vulnerable Sahel region of Africa. The prolonged negative AMO was associated with the infamous Ethiopian famine in the mid-1980s. In the UK it tends to mean reduced summer rainfall – the mythical “barbeque summer”.Our results show that ocean circulation responds to the first mode of Atlantic atmospheric forcing, the North Atlantic Oscillation, through circulation changes between the subtropical and subpolar gyres – the intergyre region. This a major influence on the wind patterns and the heat transferred between the atmosphere and ocean.

The observations that we do have of the Atlantic overturning circulation over the past ten years show that it is declining. As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative (colder surface waters) phase. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.

Cold “blobs” in North Atlantic have been reported, but they are usually winter phenomena. For example in April 2016, the sst anomalies looked like this

But by September, the picture changed to this

And we know from Kaplan AMO dataset, that 2016 summer SSTs were right up there with 1998 and 2010 as the highest recorded.

As the graph above suggests, this body of water is also important for tropical cyclones, since warmer water provides more energy.  But those are annual averages, and I am interested in the summer pulses of warm water into the Arctic. As I have noted in my monthly HadSST3 reports, most summers since 2003 there have been warm pulses in the north atlantic.
amo december 2018
The AMO Index is from from Kaplan SST v2, the unaltered and not detrended dataset. By definition, the data are monthly average SSTs interpolated to a 5×5 grid over the North Atlantic basically 0 to 70N.  The graph shows the warmest month August beginning to rise after 1993 up to 1998, with a series of matching years since.  December 2016 set a record at 20.6C, but note the plunge down to 20.2C for  December 2018, matching 2011 as the coldest years  since 2000.  Because McCarthy refers to hints of cooling to come in the N. Atlantic, let’s take a closer look at some AMO years in the last 2 decades.

May is a transitional month, and does serve to show the pattern of North Atlantic pulse related to the ENSO events. In the last two decades, there were four El Nino events peaking in 1998, 2005, 2010 and 2016.  All those years appear in the May AMO record as over 20.4C, a level not previously reached in the North Atlantic. Note the dropoff to 20.2C the last two years.

This graph shows monthly AMO temps for some important years. The Peak years were 1998, 2010 and 2016, with the latter emphasized as the most recent. The other years show lesser warming, with 2007 emphasized as the coolest in the last 20 years. Note the red 2018 line is at the bottom of all these tracks.  The short black line shows that 2019 began slightly cooler than January 2018, and tracking closely since.

With all the talk of AMOC slowing down and a phase shift in the North Atlantic, it seems the annual average for 2018 confirms that cooling has set in.  Through December the momentum is certainly heading downward, despite the band of warming ocean  that gave rise to European heat waves last summer.

amo annual122018

 

N. Atlantic Keeps Cool Oct. 2019

RAPID Array measuring North Atlantic SSTs.

For the last few years, observers have been speculating about when the North Atlantic will start the next phase shift from warm to cold. Given the way 2018 went and 2019 is following, this may be the onset.  First some background.

. Source: Energy and Education Canada

An example is this report in May 2015 The Atlantic is entering a cool phase that will change the world’s weather by Gerald McCarthy and Evan Haigh of the RAPID Atlantic monitoring project. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

This is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and the transition between its positive and negative phases can be very rapid. For example, Atlantic temperatures declined by 0.1ºC per decade from the 1940s to the 1970s. By comparison, global surface warming is estimated at 0.5ºC per century – a rate twice as slow.

In many parts of the world, the AMO has been linked with decade-long temperature and rainfall trends. Certainly – and perhaps obviously – the mean temperature of islands downwind of the Atlantic such as Britain and Ireland show almost exactly the same temperature fluctuations as the AMO.

Atlantic oscillations are associated with the frequency of hurricanes and droughts. When the AMO is in the warm phase, there are more hurricanes in the Atlantic and droughts in the US Midwest tend to be more frequent and prolonged. In the Pacific Northwest, a positive AMO leads to more rainfall.

A negative AMO (cooler ocean) is associated with reduced rainfall in the vulnerable Sahel region of Africa. The prolonged negative AMO was associated with the infamous Ethiopian famine in the mid-1980s. In the UK it tends to mean reduced summer rainfall – the mythical “barbeque summer”.Our results show that ocean circulation responds to the first mode of Atlantic atmospheric forcing, the North Atlantic Oscillation, through circulation changes between the subtropical and subpolar gyres – the intergyre region. This a major influence on the wind patterns and the heat transferred between the atmosphere and ocean.

The observations that we do have of the Atlantic overturning circulation over the past ten years show that it is declining. As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative (colder surface waters) phase. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.

Cold “blobs” in North Atlantic have been reported, but they are usually winter phenomena. For example in April 2016, the sst anomalies looked like this

But by September, the picture changed to this

And we know from Kaplan AMO dataset, that 2016 summer SSTs were right up there with 1998 and 2010 as the highest recorded.

As the graph above suggests, this body of water is also important for tropical cyclones, since warmer water provides more energy.  But those are annual averages, and I am interested in the summer pulses of warm water into the Arctic. As I have noted in my monthly HadSST3 reports, most summers since 2003 there have been warm pulses in the north atlantic.


The AMO Index is from from Kaplan SST v2, the unaltered and not detrended dataset. By definition, the data are monthly average SSTs interpolated to a 5×5 grid over the North Atlantic basically 0 to 70N.  The graph shows the warmest month August beginning to rise after 1993 up to 1998, with a series of matching years since.  December 2016 set a record at 20.6C, but note the plunge down to 20.2C for  December 2018, matching 2011 as the coldest years  since 2000.
October 2019 confirms the summer pulse weakening, along with 2018 well below other recent peak years since 2013.  Because McCarthy refers to hints of cooling to come in the N. Atlantic, let’s take a closer look at some AMO years in the last 2 decades.

This graph shows monthly AMO temps for some important years. The Peak years were 1998, 2010 and 2016, with the latter emphasized as the most recent. The other years show lesser warming, with 2007 emphasized as the coolest in the last 20 years. Note the red 2018 line was at the bottom of all these tracks.  The short black line shows that 2019 began slightly cooler than January 2018, then tracked closely before rising in the summer months, though still lower than the peak years. Now in October 2019 is again tracking close to 2018 as the coolest years in the North Atlantic.

amo annual122018

 

Climate Change Thinking for Open or Locked-Down Minds

William Happer provides a framework for thinking about climate, based on his expertise regarding atmospheric radiation (the “greenhouse” mechanism).  But he uses plain language accessible to all.  The Independent Institute published the transcript for those like myself who prefer reading for full comprehension.  Source: How to Think about Climate Change  Some excerpted highlights in italics with my bolds,

clouds_from_space_1200x650

 

This presentation by Dr. William Happer was delivered at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona, that was held on February 19, 2021. The Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor Emeritus of Physics at Princeton University, Dr. Happer is the author of the foreword to the Revised and Expanded Third Edition of the Independent Institute book, Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer, David R. Legates and Anthony R. Lupo.

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The Climate Crusade for a False Alarm

The best way to think about the frenzy over climate is to consider it a modern version of the medieval Crusades. You may remember that the motto of the crusaders was “Deus vult!”, “God wills it!” It is hard to pick a better virtue-signaling slogan than that. Most climate enthusiasts have not gone so far, but some actually claim that they are doing God’s work. After decades of propaganda, many Americans, perhaps including some of you here today, think there really is a climate emergency. Those who think that way, in many cases, mean very well. But they have been misled. As a scientist who actually knows a lot about climate (and I set up many of our climate research centers when I was at the Department of Energy in the early 1990s) I can assure you that there is no climate emergency. There will not be a climate emergency. Crusades have always ended badly. They have brought discredit to the supposed righteous cause. They have brought hardship and death to multitudes. Policies to address this phony climate emergency will cause great damage to American citizens and to their environment.

Part of the medieval crusades was against the supposed threat to the holy sites in Jerusalem. But a lot of it was against local enemies. The medieval Inquisition really did a job on the poor Cathars, on the Waldensians of southern France, and on the Bogomils in the Balkans. Climate fanatics don’t know or care any more about the science of climate than those medieval Inquisitors knew or cared about the teachings of Christ.

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Don’t Confuse CO2 with Air Pollution

Just about everyone wants to live in a clean environment. I do, and I am sure everyone here does. This is a photograph of Shanghai, and that’s real air pollution. You can just barely see the Bottle Opener Building in the back through all the haze. Some of this is due to burning coal. But a bigger fraction is due to dust from the Gobi Desert. They have had this type of pollution in Shanghai since the days of Marco Polo and long before. Part of it is burning stubble of the rice fields, which is traditionally done before planting next year’s crop. This is real pollution. I would not want to live in a city like that. If there is anything to do that would make it better, I would certainly support that.

But, none of this has anything to do with CO2. CO2 is a gas you cannot see, smell or taste. So, hare-brained schemes to limit emissions of CO2, which is actually beneficial, as I will explain a little bit later, will only make it harder to get rid of real pollutants like what I just showed you in Shanghai.

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Like all wind farms it is now falling to pieces we can’t dispose of.

Renewable energy is what I would call the inverse Robin Hood strategy—you rob from the poor to give to the rich. Utilities are permitted to raise rates because of their capital investments in inefficient, unreliable renewables. They junk fully depreciated coal, gas and nuclear plants, all of which are working beautifully, and producing inexpensive, reliable energy. But regulated profits are much less. Taxpayers subsidize the rich, who can afford to lease land for wind and solar farms. Tax incentives pander to the upper class who live in gated communities and can afford to buy Tesla electric cars. They get subsidies from the state and federal government. They even get subsidized electrical power to charge up their toys. The common people have little spare income for virtue signaling. They pay more and more for the necessities of life in order to subsidize their betters.

Climate Facts to Replace Hysteria

You cannot spend a lifetime as a professor and not relapse from time to time into giving a classroom lecture. So, you will have to expect to be lectured for a few minutes. The good news is that there will be no quiz. But for those of you who share my view that this climate hysteria is serious nonsense, it helps to know what the facts are. I hope I can arm some of you with the real scientific facts.

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Climate involves a complicated interplay of the sunlight that warms us, and thermal infra-radiation that escapes to space. Heat is transported from the tropics to the poles by the motion of warm air and ocean water. We all know about the Gulf Stream that carries huge amounts of heat to northern Europe, even to Russia. Movements of air in the atmosphere also carry a lot of heat, as we know from regular cold spells and hot spells.

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Here is a picture of Earth’s energy budget. I mentioned we are warmed by the Sun. About half of the sunlight eventually gets to the surface. What prevents it all from reaching the surface are clouds and a small amount of scattering and absorption by the atmosphere. Other parts of America, like New Jersey, now are covered with clouds. Those areas do not get any sunlight directly. But the half of sunlight that does reach the ground heats it. You can notice that in the afternoon, if you go outside. If you are a gardener like me, you can put your hands in the soil and it is nice and warm. It makes the corn grow. But that heat has to be released. If you keep adding heat to the ground, it gets hotter and hotter. So, the heat is eventually released by radiation into space which is that red arrow going up on the viewgraph. But for the first few kilometers of altitude, a good fraction of that heat is not carried by radiation, but by convection of warm, moist air. CO2 has no direct effect on convection near the surface. But once you get up to 10 kilometers or so, most of the heat is transported by radiation.

By the way, I have the meter running now. Remember that the outside air is 400 parts per million CO2. I am not sure you can see the meter but I will read it for you. It is 580 in here. It is not a whole lot higher than the 400 outside. It was at 1,000 parts per million where we were having lunch. CO2 levels are never stable near Earth’s surface. People are panicking about one or two parts per million of CO2. Now, the meter reads 608 parts per million—that is probably because I breathed on it. Hot air sets it off. I sometimes take the meter out onto my back porch. At the end of a summer day the CO2 levels on my back porch drop to maybe 300 parts per million, way below the average for outside air. That is because the trees and grass in my backyard have sucked most of the CO2 out of the local air during the day. If I get up early the next morning and I look at the meter, it is up to 600 parts per million. So just from morning to night CO2 doubles in the air of my back yard. Doubles and halves, doubles and halves. At least during the growing season that is quite common. And we have these hysterics about CO2 increasing by 30 or 40 percent. It is amazing.

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So, why the frenzy over CO2? It is because it is a greenhouse gas. That is true. This is a somewhat deceptive picture. What it shows in red is sunlight, and the horizontal scale on the top panel is the wavelength of the sunlight. Radiation wavelengths for sunlight are typically about a half a micron (half a millionth of a meter). That is green light, the color of green leaves. The thermal radiation that cools the Earth is that blue curve to the right of the upper panel, and that is a much longer wavelength, typically around 10 microns. So, the wavelength of thermal radiation is 10 to 20 times longer than the wavelengths of sunlight. It turns out that the sun’s energy can get through the Earth’s atmosphere very easily. So essentially all sunlight or at least 90 percent, if there are no clouds, gets to the surface and warms it. But radiation cooling of the surface is less efficient because various greenhouse gases (most importantly water vapor, which is shown as the third panel down, and CO2, which is the fourth panel down) intercept a lot of that radiation and keep it from freely escaping to space. This keeps Earth’s surface temperature warmer than it would be (by about 20 or 30 degrees). The Earth would be an ice cube if it were not for water vapor and CO2; and when I say water vapor, you should understand that I really mean water vapor and clouds, the condensed form of water. Clouds are at least as important as greenhouse gases and they are very poorly understood to this day.

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This is an important slide. There is a lot of history here and so there are two historical pictures. The top picture is Max Planck, the great German physicist who discovered quantum mechanics. Amazingly, quantum mechanics got its start from greenhouse gas-physics and thermal radiation, just what we are talking about today. Most climate fanatics do not understand the basic physics. But Planck understood it very well and he was the first to show why the spectrum of radiation from warm bodies has the shape shown on this picture, to the left of Planck. Below is a smooth blue curve. The horizontal scale, left to right is the “spatial frequency” (wave peaks per cm) of thermal radiation. The vertical scale is the thermal power that is going out to space. If there were no greenhouse gases, the radiation going to space would be the area under the blue Planck curve. This would be the thermal radiation that balances the heating of Earth by sunlight.

In fact, you never observe the Planck curve if you look down from a satellite. We have lots of satellite measurements now. What you see is something that looks a lot like the black curve, with lots of jags and wiggles in it. That curve was first calculated by Karl Schwarzschild, whose picture is below Planck’s picture. Schwarzschild was an officer in the German army in World War I, and he did some of his most creative work in the trenches on the eastern front facing Russia. He found one of the first analytic solutions to Einstein’s general theory of relativity while he was there on the front lines. Alas, he died before he got home. The cause of death was not Russian bullets but an autoimmune disease. This was a real tragedy for science. Schwarzschild was the theorist who first figured out how the real Earth, including the greenhouse gases in its atmosphere, radiates to space. That is described by the jagged black line. The important point here is the red line. This is what Earth would radiate to space if you were to double the CO2 concentration from today’s value. Right in the middle of these curves, you can see a gap in spectrum. The gap is caused by CO2 absorbing radiation that would otherwise cool the Earth. If you double the amount of CO2, you don’t double the size of that gap. You just go from the black curve to the red curve, and you can barely see the difference. The gap hardly changes.

The message I want you to understand, which practically no one really understands, is that doubling CO2 makes almost no difference.

Doubling would replace the black curve by the red curve. On the basis of this, we are supposed to give up our liberties. We are supposed to give up the gasoline engines of our automobiles. We are supposed to accept dictatorial power by Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, because of the difference between the red and the black curve. Do not let anyone convince you that that is a good bargain. It is a terrible bargain. The doubling actually does make a little difference. It decreases the radiation to space by about three watts per square meters. In comparison, the total radiation to space is about 300 watts per square meter.

So, it is a one percent effect—it is actually a little less than that, because that is with no clouds. Clouds make everything even less threatening.

Finally, let me point out that there is a green curve. That is what happens if you take all the CO2 out of the atmosphere. No one knows how to do that, thanks goodness, because plants would all die if you took all the CO2 out of the atmosphere. But what this curve is telling you is that the greenhouse effect of CO2 is already saturated. Saturation is a jargon term that means CO2 has done all the greenhouse warming it can easily do. Doubling CO2 does not make much difference. You could triple or quadruple CO2 concentrations, and it also would make little difference. The CO2 effects are strongly saturated.

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You can take that tiny difference between those curves that I showed you, the red and the black curves, and calculate the warming that should happen. I was one of the first to do this: in 1982 I was a co-author of one of the first books on radiative effects of CO2. On the right panel is my calculation and lots of other people’s calculations since. It is a bar graph of the warming per decade that people have calculated. The red bar is what has actually been observed. On the right is warming per decade over 10 years, and on the left, over 20 years. In both cases the takeaway message is that predicted warmings, which so many people are frantic about, are all grossly larger than the observed warming, which is shown by the red bars. So, the observed warmings have been extremely small compared to computer calculations over any interval that you consider. Our policies are based on the models that you see here, models that do not work.

I believe we know why they do not work, but no one is willing to admit it.

Nobody knows how much of the warming observed over the past 50 years is due to CO2. There is good reason to that think much of it, perhaps most of it, would be there even without an increase in CO2 because we are coming out of the Little Ice Age. We have been coming out of that since the early 1800s, before which the weather was much colder than now. The green curve is measurements from satellites, very much like the measurements of a temporal scanning thermometer. You can look down from a satellite and measure the temperature of the atmosphere. The satellites and balloons agree with each other, and they do not agree with the computer models. This is very nice work by John Christie at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

The alleged harm from CO2 is from warming, and the warming observed is much, much less than predictions. In fact, warming as small as we are observing is almost certainly beneficial. It gives slightly longer growing seasons. You can ripen crops a little bit further north than you could before. So, there is completely good news in terms of the temperature directly. But there is even better news. By standards of geological history, plants have been living in a CO2 famine during our current geological period.

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This is the greening of the Earth measured from satellites. This picture shows areas of the Earth that are getting greener over the 20-year period. What you notice is that everywhere, especially in arid areas of Sahel (you can see that just south of the Sahara) it is greening dramatically. The western United States is greening, western Australia is greening, western India is greening. This is almost certainly due to CO2, and the reason this happens is that CO2 allows plants to grow where 50 years ago it was too dry. Plants are now needing less water to grow than they did 50 or 100 years before.

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When you raise all these hard, scientific issues with the climate alarmists, the response is “how can you say that? 97 percent of scientists agree that there’s a terrible emergency here that we have to cope with.”

Here there are several things you should say. First of all, in science truth is not voted on. It is not like voting on a law. It is determined by how well your theory agrees with the observations and experiments. I just showed you that the theories of warming are grossly wrong. They are not even close and yet we are making our policy decisions based on computer models that do not work. It does not matter how many people say there is an emergency. If it does not agree with experiments and observations, the supposed scientific basis for the emergency is wrong. The claim of a climate emergency is definitely wrong.

Secondly, even when scientists agree, what they agree on can be wrong. People think of scientists as incorruptible, priestly people. They are not that at all. They have the same faults as everybody else, and they are frequently wrong.

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The clincher actually came when the USA finally declassified the World War II North Atlantic Magnetic Anomaly data which we had been sitting on for 10 years. The data showed mirror-image conveyor belts of newly-formed oceanic crust, starting at the mid-Atlantic ridge and going out left and right toward America, and toward Europe. So, there was absolutely no question that the seafloor was spreading. That is the one bit of evidence that Wegner did not have, but he had lots of other evidence that should have persuaded people.

This is just one example. I could tell you about many other scientific consensuses that made no sense. This one is interesting because it had no political background. It was pure science, but it does illustrate the fallibility of scientists, and the group-think that goes on in science. If you wanted to advance as a young geologist you could write a paper scorning Wegner in 1950 and get promoted right away, even though your paper was completely wrong. And, once you get tenure, you are there for good.

So, the takeaway message is that policies that slow CO2 emissions are based on flawed computer models which exaggerate warming by factors of two or three, probably more. That is message number one. So, why do we give up our freedoms, why do we give up our automobiles, why do we give up a beefsteak because of this model that does not work?

Takeaway message number two is that if you really look into it, more CO2 actually benefits the world. So, why are we demonizing this beneficial molecule that is making plants grow better, that is giving us slightly less harsh winters, a slightly longer growing season? Why is that a pollutant? It is not a pollutant at all, and we should have the courage to do nothing about CO2 emissions. Nothing needs to be done.

 

Climate Scare in US South

A recent study published in Science predicts there will be no comfort for US southerners in the future.  As reported in the Atlantic

The American South Will Bear the Worst of Climate Change’s Costs
Global warming will intensify regional inequality in the United States, according to a revolutionary new economic assessment of the phenomenon.

The study, published Thursday in Science, simulates the costs of global warming in excruciating detail, modeling every day of weather in every U.S. county during the 21st century. It finds enormous disparities in how rising temperatures will affect American communities: Texas, Florida, and the Deep South will bleed income in the broiling heat, while some chillier northern states gain moderate benefits.

“We are really sure the South is going to get hammered,” says Solomon Hsiang, one of the authors of the paper and a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. “The South is really, really negatively affected by climate change, much more so than the North. That wasn’t something we were expecting going in.”

First of all, this comes from model projections, not from observed temperatures and precipitation.

The graph shows daily maximums, averaged annually for the southern region as defined by the National Weather Service (NWS). The rise since 1895 is less than 1F, not even noticeable. You can also clearly see a quasi-60 year cycle, and that we are coming off the warmer phase with a cooler phase likely ahead.

Precipitation over the same period of 120 years shows a slight rise, nothing dramatic, and also oscillating with scattered peaks and valleys.

Secondly, all forecasting was done using the worst-case scenario

Out of five scenarios in IPCC report RCP8.5 is the most extreme. Neither AR5 nor the paper describing RCP8.5 call it a “business as usual” scenario, because it is not. Such a scenario would assume continuation of existing trends through 2100. A worst-case scenario assumes trends change for the worse. RCP8.5 assumes population growth at the 90th percentile of the probability forecast for 2100 (i.e., not considering real-world factors) and near-stagnation of technological progress.

Thirdly the models show no skill at all at regional forecasting, never mind their deficiencies at the global scale.

Roger Pielke Sr. repeatedly points to the elephant in the room about these papers — the ignored assumption that climate models’ predictions about global climate (when fed accurate predictions about emissions) are a sufficiently skillful basis for public policy — and that downscaling these models produces regional forecasts also useful for making public policy. There is little evidence of either. See here for a discussion of the literature about model validation (see the end section here for links to the literature). He says there is even less evidence for their skill at regional levels. He reviewed the literature validating regional downsizing five years ago, and relatively little progress has been made since then.
From Larry Kummer, US Economic Damage from Climate Change

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Adaptation by humans is not allowed.

The projections presume that humans will not adapt in response to changing conditions, even though we have always done so, and presently have unprecedented capacities.

Matthew Kahn explains this clearly in Climate Change Adaptation Economics

An econometric research team follows the following recipe. First, it takes historical data and estimates how weather conditions correlate with economic conditions. For example, when it is extremely hot in a county — do we observe based on past data that the county’s per-capita income is lower than usual. The research team takes these past correlations and takes a climate change model (that tells you a guess of what will be future climate conditions by county) to predict future economic outcomes under the assumption that the historical correlation between weather and economic outcomes persists into the future.

This bold writing violates the Lucas Critique. Robert Lucas is one of the University of Chicago’s greatest economists. I was not one of his greatest students but I learned from him that as the “Rules of the Game” change that forward looking decision makers re-optimize. He studied this issue in the context of government counter-cyclical macro policy (i.e tax cuts during recessions) but the same point applies in the case of climate change. (my bold)

Let me explain;

Suppose it has always been 90 degrees in Phoenix in April but moving forward it will now be 105 degrees on average in Phoenix in April because of climate change. This is what I mean by a change in the Rules of the Game. The key stochastic process’ core parameters have changed. The climate scientists estimate such relationship using geocoded time series data. They spread their findings (through the New York Times and through wild bloggers such as Joe Romm).

Investors (those who invest in durable buildings, businesses, families) who live and work in a specific area such as Phoenix have strong incentives to take pro-active actions to reduce their exposure to hotter Aprils. They have thousands of adaptation strategies (and richer people have even more). One of the points I argue in Climatopolis is that induced innovation will take place because of Paul Revere style forecasts of hotter summers. Demand creates supply! I haven’t even mentioned government at the local, state or federal level. While many adaptation strategies are private goods (think of air conditioners), there are also public goods (sea walls, air cooling centers). If government changes its investments because of the new “Rules of the Game”, then the poor’s well being can improve in the face of a changing climate even if they can’t afford any of the private adaptation strategies. We are not passive victims here. The greatness of capitalism is that the set of alternatives we have to choose from keeps growing due to innovation and product differentiation. Each of these private and public goods helps us to individually and collective adapt.

As these changes takes place, the historical correlations between climate and economic losses are attenuated. This is why I don’t have much confidence in the predictions reported in the new Science Paper.

Summary

Alarmist blinders could not be more obvious. Their only solution is spending many trillions of dollars attempting to prevent future warming and climate change by reducing CO2 emissions (so-called “Mitigation”). The much more rational and time-honored policy of Adaptation would mean watching for changes and challenges to actually appear then mobilizing resources in response. But that would mean waiting because nothing is yet happening outside the normal range of temperatures and precipitation.   Unacceptable to true believers.

See also Climate Gloom and Doom

The Climate Water Wheel

Updates 1 and 2 at bottom.

I recently came across this comment:

“During the height of the day at the equator, 1361 joules/m2/second (less 30% Albedo) is coming in from the Sun but the surface temperature only increases as if 0.0017 joules/m2/second is absorbed (or impacts the temperature at 2 meters). The extra 959.9983 joules/m2/second flows away from the surface effectively almost as fast as the energy is coming in.

Your calculator says surface temperatures should increase to 87C.

At night, virtually no radiation is coming in (and the upwelling less downwelling radiation) says the surface should be losing about 100 joules/m2/second but it actually only loses 0.001 joules/m2/second.

This is the real-world now versus the theoretical.” Bill Illis

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/13/a-conversation-with-an-infrared-radiation-expert/

And then Derek John posted this:

I was intrigued by the wheel in the diagram, but also puzzled about the numbers. In comparison to the moon, the earth’s temperature decrease is small, but still the image shows overnight cooling on average from 20C to 10C, in contradiction to the Illis comment above.

Digging deeper, I read in Wikipedia that diurnal SST (Sea Surface Temperature) is measured to vary on calm days by about 6C. But what it said next opened my eyes: “The temperature of the ocean at depth lags the Earth’s atmosphere temperature by 15 days per 10 meters (33 ft), which means for locations like the Aral sea, temperatures near its bottom reaches a maximum in December and a minimum in May and June.”

You see? Illis is talking about the accumulation of heat, and the diagram shows surface temperatures, “surface” being the key word. In infrared remote sensing methodology the radiation emanates from the top “skin” of the ocean, approximately the top 0.01 mm or less. A 6C change there is nothing compared to the massive thermal capacity underneath.  After all, the top 2 meters of the ocean match the entire heat in the overlaying atmosphere. And land surface temperatures aren’t measuring the surface, but rather the air 1 meter up. Sure the soil cools off at night, but go down even a few centimeters, and the warmth remains. People would not have built and lived in underground villages in places like Cappadocia if the land gave up its heat so readily.

And so I can understand something else Bill Illis said:

“The energy represented by a solar photon spends an average 43 hours in the Earth system before it is lost to space. Some spend just a millisecond while a very, very tiny percentage might get absorbed in the deep ocean and spend a thousand years on Earth or longer. In essence, the Earth has accumulated 1.9 days worth of solar energy. If the Sun did not come up tomorrow, it would take around 86 hours for at least the land temperature to fall below -200C.”
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/13/a-conversation-with-an-infrared-radiation-expert/#more-33954

6m (20ft) flywheel, weighs 15 tonnes. Used at Gepps Cross, Adelaide, South Australia Meatworks

The Oceans function as a Thermal Energy Flywheel

I’m speaking metaphorically, since flywheels like the one pictured above store rotational energy, and thereby maintain a steady rate, resisting periodic fluctuations. It seems that oceans have the same effect on the climate, by storing thermal energy from the sun. That’s where most of the 1.9 days of solar energy is circulating. The general term would be “accumulator”, such as rechargeable batteries, capacitors, or hydroelectric reservoirs. But I want to use flywheel because it is always in motion like the seas. And there is a precedent:

“The ocean is truly the flywheel of the climate system. By definition, a flywheel gains its efficiency from interactions with other parts of the system. Climate is determined, to a large extent, by the rates of energy transfer across the sea surface. It is these rates that determine the lag times and feedback loops and so ultimately the character of climate fluctuations in the oceans and elsewhere.”

Eric B. Kraus, 1987, ‘Oceans, Climate of’, in: Rhodes W. Fairbridge (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of Climatology (Earth Science), 1987, p.638-642

Models Missing the Ocean Flywheel

Climate science has been obsessed with only a part of the system, namely the atmosphere and radiation, in order to focus attention on the non-condensing IR active gases. The climate is framed as a 3D atmosphere above a 2D surface. That narrow scope leaves out the powerful non-radiative heat transfer mechanisms that dominate the lower troposphere, and the vast reservoir of thermal energy deep in the oceans.

As Dr. Robert E Stevenson writes, it could have been different:

“As an oceanographer, I’d been around the world, once or twice, and I was rather convinced that I knew the factors that influenced the Earth’s climate. The oceans, by virtue of their enormous density and heat-storage capacity, are the dominant influence on our climate. It is the heat budget and the energy that flows into and out of the oceans that basically determines the mean temperature of the global atmosphere. These interactions, plus evaporation, are quite capable of canceling the slight effect of man-produced CO2.”

In 1991, when the IUGG and its associations met in Vienna for their General Assembly, the presidents and the secretaries-general of the four associations I’ve mentioned, discussed the program we would propose to forward to the International Commission of Scientific Unions (ICSU) for consideration at the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference. We all decided not to prepare any programs!

In our joint statement, which I paraphrase here, we noted that “To single out one variable, namely radiation through the atmosphere and the associated ‘greenhouse effect,’ as being the primary driving force of atmospheric and oceanic climate, is a simplistic and absurd way to view the complex interaction of forces between the land, ocean, atmosphere, and outer space.”

Furthermore, we stated, “climate modeling has been concentrated on the atmosphere with only a primitive representation of the ocean.” Actually, some of the early models depict the oceans as nearly stagnant. The logical approach would have been to model the oceans first (there were some reasonable ocean models at the time), then adding the atmospheric factors.

Well, no one in ICSU nor the United Nations Environment Program/World Meteorological Organization was ecstatic about our suggestion. Rather, they simply proceeded to evolve climate models from early weather models. That has imposed an entirely atmospheric perspective on processes which are actually heavily dominated by the ocean.”

http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/ocean.html

Efforts to Model the Ocean Flywheel

In the real world, radiative heat loss is determined by the temperature differential, fixed at the top of the atmosphere by the vacuum of space, and maintained at the bottom of the atmosphere by the oceans. The surface temperatures are noisy because the water is always in motion, made chaotic by flowing over and around irregular land masses. But the oceans’ bulk keeps the temperature within a remarkably tight range over the millennia.

More recently, the computer-driven models are coupled with ocean models, but often these are appendages, added on trying to improve the performance of atmospheric circulation. One of the features of these models is the setting used for the oceans’ “inertia”, which affects how slowly the artificial system responds to changes. The flywheel is a better metaphor since the oceans are always in motion while stabilizing temperatures and climate.

 

Some models are starting to have dynamic linking of ocean heat storage and circulation to the atmosphere. Results are proving interesting:

Climate Sensitivity to Changes in Ocean Heat Transport
Marcelo Barreiro et al 2011
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI-D-10-05029.1

“According to our model, if the OHT increases further from present-day values, it would cool the global climate. Moreover, it shows large sensitivity to relatively small changes: a 25% increase in OHT cools the climate by more than 4 K (Fig. 2a). Further increases (beyond 25%) would also cool the climate but more gradually. The transition from a warming to a cooling effect of increased OHT is not gradual but abrupt. To better resolve this transition, we ran additional experiments for c = 1.05, 1.1, 1.15, and 1.20. Our results show that the occurrence of a warmer climate with increased OHT is valid for c < 1.15, which is for less than a 15% increase in the present-day values. Thus, in this model, the current climate is such that the ocean heat transport is close to its maximum positive influence.”

“To date, our understanding of the climatic response to changed OHT comes mainly from atmospheric models coupled to fixed oceans (e.g., W03, H05). Our results point out that not only is the lack of dynamical adjustment an important issue when using these models, but also that the parameterization of low clouds can result in cloud–SST radiative feedbacks of different strengths. In the end, only through the use of coupled models that allow the interaction between these processes will it be possible to address this question fully. Nonetheless, we believe the results presented here can serve as a guide for future explorations of the role of the oceans in climate.”

Another Gift from the Seas

It turns out that not only do the oceans maintain the mild habitat to which we are adapted, they also leave a climate record on the ocean floor. On longer time scales, the ocean flywheel is overwhelmed by orbital changes to the incoming solar energy, triggering regime shifts between the “Hot House” and the “Ice House”. Between shifts, the flywheel maintains the new steady state.

From Christopher R. Scotese, PALEOMAR Project

“There are also d18O isotopes which have proven to be very reliable proxies for temperature in the distant past. There are even International Standards for how to use these proxies to estimate temperature. Search Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water if you want to know more about this.

The climate history charts in the article at the main post are based on this proxy of course.

There are d18O isotopes which have been dated going back all the way to 2.6 billion years ago. In total, there are 40,000 dated dO18 proxies covering the periods back to this time. 40,000 reliable proxies is more than enough to make a call about this history.

Here are the temperature estimates and all of the CO2 estimates over the last 40 million years (the data used in the paper are in this chart but I am using all the reliable numbers that there are, so rather than 8 data points, there is a total of 16,000 datapoints here between temps and CO2).”

When one runs the numbers in the proper way with these isotopes, one gets very close to Scotese’s temperature history. They can produce a higher resolution history than Scotese, however, which matches to a “T” the major developments in climate history that we know about from other disciplines like geology, paleontology etc.”  Bill Illis

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/15/strong-evidence-for-rapid-climate-change-found-in-past-millenia/#comment-1908208

Summary

Dr. Stevenson summarizes:

“Contrary to recent press reports that the oceans hold the still-undetected global atmospheric warming predicted by climate models, ocean warming occurs in 100-year cycles, independent of both radiative and human influences.”

“Inland locations are less restrained by the oceans, so the surface air experiences a wider temperature range than it does over the oceans. Land cannot store heat for long, which is why hot days are quickly followed by cold nights in desert regions. For most of the Earth, however, the more dominant ocean temperatures fix the air temperature.”

“This happens through several means:

(1) The oceans transport heat around the globe via massive currents which sweep grandly through the various ocean basins. As a result, the tropics are cooler than they would be otherwise, and the lands of the high latitudes are warmer. The global circulation of heat in the oceans moderates the air temperatures around the whole world.

(2) Because of the high density/specific heat of sea water, the entire heat in the overlying atmosphere can be contained in the top two meters of the oceans. This enormous storage capacity enables the oceans to “buffer” any major deviations in temperature, moderating both heat and cold waves alike.

(3)Evaporation is constantly taking place at the surface of the seas. It is greatest in the tropics and weakest near the polar regions. The effect of evaporation is to cool the oceans and, thereby, the surface atmosphere.”
http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/ocean.html

Conclusion

In the real world climate, water in all its phases is the heart of the matter, and atmosphere is ancillary. Since Copernicus we all think of our planetary system with the sun in the center. We should be thinking of our climate system with the oceans in the center.

How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean. Arthur C. Clarke

I have been trying to make sense of these things, and this post is the result. Thank you to Bill Illis, Robert Stevenson and Arnd Bernaerts for writings I just discovered and which crystallized my thinking. Ron Clutz

Update 1 April 24: Discussion with David A. Is elevated to a post here:
https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/on-the-energy-highway-with-david-a-all-watts-are-not-created-equal/

Update 2 April 25: This essay mentions d18O from ocean sediments as a proxy for climate change. Below is linked an interesting study using these to reconstruct Norwegian Sea SST over several centuries

Comment by kennethrichards at Paul Homewood website:

And the warmer oceans during the MWP and modern times are explained (> 99% significance) by the solar variations at these times…the “medieval and modern [solar] maxima.”
—–
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2010JC006264/full

“Here we present an exceptionally well-dated marine sediment sequence in the eastern Norwegian Sea which records 1–2°C variations of temperature in northward flowing Atlantic waters that are robustly correlated with various estimates of solar activity spanning the last 1000 years. The temperature and solar proxy variations appear to be synchronous within dating errors, which, together with the large amplitude of the temperature signal and its correlation into central Europe, suggests strong coupling of the regional atmospheric and oceanic responses to the Sun.”

Solar forcing of ocean SST . . .Hummmm.  The plot thickens.

Sun and Noah