Hot, Hot, Hot. You will have noticed that the term “climate change” is now synonymous with “summer”. Since the northern hemisphere is where most of the world’s land, people and media are located, two typical summer months and a hot European August have been depicted as the fires of hell awaiting any and all who benefit from fossil fuels. If you were wondering what the media would do, apart from obsessing over the many small storms this year, you are getting the answer.
Fortunately, Autumn is on the way and already bringing cooler evenings in Montreal where I live. Once again open windows provide fresh air for sleeping, while mornings are showing condensation, and frost sometimes. This year’s period of “climate change” is winding down. Unless of course, we get some hurricanes the next two months. Below is a repost of seasonal changes in temperature and climate for those who may have been misled by the media reports of a forever hotter future.
[Note: The text below refers to human migratory behavior now resuming after being prohibited because, well, Coronavirus.]
Autumnal Climate Change
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 is already building again in the twilight, to reach its maximum in March under the cover of darkness.
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.
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.
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.
For example Svensmark has now a Cosmosclimatology theory supported by empirical studies described in more detail in the red link.
Christelle Lagace-Babim, left, and Elise Lagace walk along Rue Jacques-Cartier Friday, after checking out their home in Gatineau, Que., as significant rainfall continues to cause flooding. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)
A lot of verbage about global warming/climate change is worse than useless because the parties are using terms whose meaning is vague or equivocal, and thus no meaningful interaction occurs. Alarmists/activists claim climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous (Obama tweet). Skeptics/doubters respond that climate is always changing, has been both warmer and cooler in the past, long before humans did anything.
Swollen rivers and streams have threatened hundreds of homes in the Outaouais thanks to recent heavy rainfall — three times the normal amount since April 1.
University of Ottawa climate scientist Paul Beckwith says that’s due to a changing climate, and says we’re seeing its effects “on a day-to-day basis” in weather patterns.
Beckwith points to an increase in extreme weather events across North America as proof. “We’ve changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and the oceans with our greenhouse gases, so we’re seeing the consequences of this now,” he added. “It’s only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.”
Such reports mislead people to think of the climate acting like some kind of agent causing the weather to change in ways unfavorable to us. That confuses the relation between climate and weather, as we shall see below.
What is “Weather”?
Fortunately in science things get defined not theoretically but by observations and measurements. In science, weather is defined as the behavior we measure on a daily basis. In fact today’s automated weather equipment monitors the weather constantly. Let us consider an operational definition of weather to be the variables for which data is reported into global databases.
Each National Weather Service has its own additional particulars they track, but the common global definition of weather can be seen in the defined elements from the ECA&D weather data dictionary (European Climate Assessment & Dataset)
Weather Measurement Elements
What is weather: Eight variables are measured globally–Sunshine, Sea Level Pressure, Humidity, Cloud cover, Wind, Precipitation, Snow Depth, Temperature. With multiple measures of some variables, weather datasets consist of 13 common elements.
Sunshine (SS) in units of 0.1 hour. Total daily SS plus measures of hours for intervals during the day.
Sea Level Pressure (PP) in units of 0.1hPa Daily average PP plus measures for specific times and parts of the day.
Humidity (HU) in units of 1% of relative humidity. Daily average HU plus measures for specific times and parts of the day.
Cloud Cover (CC) in oktas (0 being clear sky, 8 being completely overcast). Daily average CC plus measures for specific times and parts of the day.
Wind Direction (DD) in degrees azimuth for the wind source (that is, a southerly wind comes from 180 degrees.) Daily average DD plus measures for different times of day, and the direction of maximum gust.
Wind Speed (FG) in units of 0.1 m/s. Daily average FG plus measures for speeds at different times and parts of the day.
Wind Gust (FX) in units of 0.1m/s. Daily average FX (24 hourly gusts) plus measures for maximums of different durations. (2 to 15 minutes).
Precipitation Amount (RR) in units of 0.1 mm. Daily total RR plus measures of amounts for intervals during the day.
Maximum Hourly Precipitation (MXR) in units of 0.1 mm. MXR for the day plus measures of amounts for intervals during the day.
Snow Depth (SD) in units of 1 cm. Mean daily SD plus measures of depths for intervals during the day.
Mean Temperature (TG) in units of 0.1C. Daily TG plus measures of various ways of calculating TG.
Minimum Temperature (TN) in units of 0.1C. Daily TN plus measures for different times and parts of the day.
Maximum Temperature (TX) in units of 0.1C. Daily TX plus measures for different times and parts of the day.
What is “Climate”?
Change in Frequency of Frost Days in Europe in the Period 1976-2006
To sort out the confusion between “weather” and “climate”, we can also look at how climate is measured and thereby defined. From the same ECA&D source is a climate indices database which is termed Indices of Extremes.
There is one datafile for each index. Each datafile gives information for all available stations in the ECA&D database. The indices are aggregated over the year, the winter-half (ONDJFM), the summer-half (AMJJAS), winter (DJF), spring (MAM), summer (JJA), autumn (SON) and each of the calendar months.
There are 74 indices grouped into twelve categories corresponding with different aspects of climate change. Some categories come directly from weather elements, while others are derivations.
The 74 indices are statistics built upon weather data, adding patterns of interest to humans. For example, temperature is greatly emphasized by adding various concerns with heat and cold on top of temperature records. Also, a compound category focuses on temperature and precipitation combinations and their favorability to humans.
What is Climate: Categories and Indices
Note that climate is operationally defined as statistical patterns of weather data. Some indices are simply averages of daily weather over long term periods. By convention, a 30-year average is used to define a climate baseline for a location.
Other climate indices are based on value judgments according to human interests. For example, heat and cold include many examples like growing days, good tourism days, heating degree days. In fact, a feature of climate is the imposition of human expectations upon nature, other examples being the sunshine indices Mostly Sunny and Mostly Cloudy days.
Andrew John Herbertson, a British geographer and Professor at Oxford, wrote in a textbook from 1901:
By climate we mean the average weather as ascertained by many years’ observations. Climate also takes into account the extreme weather experienced during that period. Climate is what on an average we may expect, weather is what we actually get.
Mark Twain, who is often credited with that last sentence, actually said:
Climate lasts all the time and weather only a few days.
The point is, weather consists of events occurring in real time, while climate is a statistical artifact. Weather is like a baseball player swinging in the batter’s box, climate is his batting average, RBIs, bases on balls, etc.
What is “Climate Change”?
The usefulness of climate indices is suggested by the last category called compound, where temperature and precipitation patterns are combined. In fact those two factors are sufficient to define distinctive local climate zones..
Based on empirical observations, Köppen (1900) established a climate classification system which uses monthly temperature and precipitation to define boundaries of different climate types around the world. Since its inception, this system has been further developed (e.g. Köppen and Geiger, 1930; Stern et al., 2000) and widely used by geographers and climatologists around the world.
Köppen climate zones as they appear in the 21st Century.
As an example, consider how the island of Hawaii looks with its climate zones indicated:
Note: This image comes from an interactive tool and uses a different color scheme than the global map above. The table below shows the thresholds by which zones are defined.
Tmin ≥ +18 °C
Tropical rain forest
Pmin ≥ 60 mm
Pann ≥ 25(100 – Pmin) mm
Tropical savannah with dry summer
Pmin < 60 mm in summer
Tropical savannah with dry winter
Pmin < 60 mm in winter
Pann < 10 Pth
Pann ≤ 5 Pth
Pann > 5 Pth
-3 °C < Tmin < +18 °C
Mild temperate with dry summer
Psmin < Pwmin, Pwmax > 3 Psmin, Psmin < 40 mm
Mild temperate with dry winter
Psmax > 10 Pwmin, Pwmin < Psmin
Mild temperate, fully humid
Not Cs or Cw
Tmin ≤ -3 °C
Snow with dry summer
Psmin < Pwmin, Pwmax > 3 Psmin, Psmin < 40 mm
Snow with dry winter
Psmax > 10 Pwmin, Pwmin < Psmin
Snow, fully humid
Not Ds or Dw
Tmax < +10 °C
Tmax ≥ 0 °C
Tmax < 0 °C
Köppen and Climate Change
The focus is on differentiating vegetation regimes, which result primarily from variations in temperature and precipitation over the seasons of the year. Now we have an interesting study that considers shifts in Köppen climate zones over time in order to identify changes in climate as practical and local/regional realities. The paper is: Using the Köppen classiﬁcation to quantify climate variation and change: An example for 1901–2010 By Deliang Chen and Hans Weiteng Chen Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Hans Chen has built an excellent interactive website (here): The purpose of this website is to share information about the Köppen climate classification, and provide data and high-resolution figures from the paper Chen and Chen, 2013: For more details on Chen and Chen see the post: Data vs. Models 4: Climates Changing
Summary: Climate Change Defined
Chen and Chen provide a data-based definition of “climate change”. Climate zones are defined by past temperature and precipitation ranges observed by humans. The weather datasets and climate indices inform us whether or not the patterns in a place are moving outside the norm for that location. Climate change appears as a shift in zonal boundaries so that one place starts to resemble a neighboring zone with a different classification. The table above shows the defined zones and thresholds.
The Chen and Chen analysis shows that almost half of climates around the world will get a year of weather outside of their normal ranges. Getting a decade of abnormal weather is much rarer. True climate change would be a shift enduring over a 30 year period which has been observed in less than 10% of all climate zones.
Summary: The Myth of “Global” Climate Change
Climate is a term to describe a local or regional pattern of weather. There is a widely accepted system of classifying climates, based largely on distinctive seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation. Depending on how precisely you apply the criteria, there can be from 6 to 13 distinct zones just in South Africa, or 8 to 11 zones only in Hawaii.
Each climate over time experiences shifts toward warming or cooling, and wetter or drier periods. One example: Fully a third of US stations showed cooling since 1950 while the others warmed. It is nonsense to average all of that and call it “Global Warming” because the net is slightly positive. Only in the fevered imaginations of CO2 activists do all of these diverse places move together in a single march toward global warming.
This post was focused on the distinction between weather and climate, so extreme weather events were not discussed, since by definition such events are weather. Still the quote at the beginning shows that activists are working hard to attribute attention-grabbing events as proof of global warming/climate change.
Mike Hulme wrote a series of articles describing the unsuccessful effort to link extreme weather to climate change and said this: In recent decades the meaning of climate change in popular western discourse has changed from being a descriptive index of a change in climate (as in ‘evidence that a climatic change has occurred’) to becoming an independent causative agent (as in ‘climate change caused this event to happen’). Rather than being a descriptive outcome of a chain of causal events affecting how weather is generated, climate change has been granted power to change worlds: political and social worlds as much as physical and ecological ones.
How long have we been talking about climate change now? On a grand scale at the latest since James Hansen’s appearance in the US Senate in 1988, when he explained that mankind’s use of fossil substances is causing the atmosphere to warm up. At least since this statement, climate change has been discussed as the greatest danger to mankind. But is the discussion on the right track or are we talking past key issues? Science would also like to clarify this question in a binding manner for so-called skeptics. To date, both groups are far from it. 12 years ago the Heartland Institute (HI), a voice in the skeptic camp,published a booklet on “7 Theories of Climate Change”, and the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) a corresponding text, (updated: (08/19/22): “ Human Versus Natural Causes”.
Both explanations do not in any way indicate that they sufficiently take into account the fundamental mechanisms for short-term and long-term changes in atmospheric weather processes.
For analyzing the situation, the question is not about James Hansen’s 1988 Congressional testimony on CO2 induced global warming, or meanwhile the reasoning of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2021) that “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land”. The issue is: whether this point can be sufficiently understood, when the discussion is by far too narrow to address all actions by man with a potential of affecting the atmospheric system.
To do this, it is necessary to know how CO2 warming is currently differentiated from other potential causes and then to ask oneself whether this is sufficient to ensure a comprehensive risk discussion.
1. Bio-thermostat — rising temperatures and levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere trigger biological and chemical responses that have a cooling effect, like a natural thermostat.
2. Cloud formation and albedo — changes in the formation and albedo of clouds create negative feedbacks that cancel out all or nearly all of the warming effect of higher levels of CO2.
3. Human forcing besides greenhouse gases — mankind’s greatest influence on climate is not its greenhouse gas emissions, but its transformation of Earth’s surface by clearing forests, irrigating deserts, and building cities.
4. Ocean currents — global temperature variations over the past century-and-a- half and particularly the past 30 years were due to the slow-down of the ocean’s Thermohaline Circulation (THC).
5. Planetary motion — natural gravitational and magnetic oscillations of the solar system induced by the planet’s movement through space drive climate change.
6. Solar variability — changes in the coronal ejections and magnetic fields of the sun cause changes in cloud formation, ocean currents, and wind that cause climate to change.
(A)The topics in comparison
The topics (a-e) and (1–6) are widely comparable in substance, but only partly so in more precise individual points. With the topics (a+b and 5+6) one can ask oneself to what extent these are of importance in the upcoming discussion. Earth’s rotation is about hundreds of thousands of years. Also, the solar radiation does not fluctuate to an extent that causes significant climate changes in relatively short periods of time (50–200 years). The EPA states that satellites measured the amount of energy the earth has received from the sun since 1978 have not shown a net increase in the sun’s output, even as global surface temperatures have risen.
By and large the topics ( c) Changes in the Earth’s Reflectivity and (d) Changes in Naturally Occurring Carbon Dioxide Concentrations are differently presented, but address the same subjects as the HI topic 1+2.
Surprisingly HI doesn’t mention EPA’s point: Volcanic Activity (d); whereas it mentions instead (point 3): Human forcing by clearing forests, irrigating deserts, and building cities. Both areas are extraordinarily important for understanding the earth system, but do not reach the dimension of CO2-induced warming by far. Even the last great volcanoes, Tambora (1815) and Krakatoa (1883), brought weather changes only over a few years. Man will not be able to prevent volcanic activities. But the world should be prepared for that.
The points raised by HI in (3) are a far less dangerous aspect than vulcans; although one should nevertheless understand the connections. For example, the Romans certainly endangered their breadbasket in North Africa by cutting down forests from Spain to Turkey, and the deforestation large areas of the Northern Hemisphere since the 18th century, most likely contributed to the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850 and to the rise in global temperatures. As far as irrigating deserts and building cities are still relevant today, this hazard potential is far below that of a larger volcanic eruption.
(B)What is missing? Water in the Air! Water in the Ocean!
The great deficiency of the current ‘climate debate’ is the missing focus on water. We mean all water in the air, soil and the oceans. The ratio is that the ocean hold about 1000 times more than the atmosphere and the soil. Only mentioning the “Ocean currents” (Heartland point (4)) is only a minor aspect in the overall system that drives the enteral weather pattern. The EPA fails to mention this at all.
Understanding climate change without trying to understand global water masses
is like trying to bake a cake without flour.
This shortcoming also leads to constant reference to ‘natural causes’. The atmospheric system is governed by the laws of physics, nothing is natural. Instead, it would have to be more correctly admitted that the full mechanism is not (yet) understood. As it is unlikely that we will ever succeed in fully understanding the entire global water system, but that should not be an excuse to deny the priority of the water complex.
The discussion, as represented by the IPCC and EPA, but also by the so-called skeptics, such as the Heartland Institute, is still far away from this.
Fig. 7.1. Changes in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and solar activity are consistent with temperature changes. Top, above average solar activity reduces poleward transport causing warming. Bottom, the ascending half-period of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation causes an even bigger reduction in transport and has a bigger temperature effect. Middle, temperature evolution for the past 120 years is consistent with the effect of these two factors on transport. Data from SILSO sunspots (top), HadCRUT4 deseasonalized temperature (middle), and AMO deseasonalized (bottom), have been smoothed with a gaussian filter.
A recent post was Seven Theories of Climate Change, summarizing an array of explanations for fluctuations in temperatures and precipitation over Earth’s surface. Now, thanks to Javier Vinós & Andy May, we have a new hypothesis combining solar variability with oceanic/atmospheric oscillations to explain the climate record. An introduction to their findings is published at Climate Etc. The Winter Gatekeeper Hypothesis (VII). A summary plus Q&A. Excerpts in italics with my bolds and some added images. My first exposure to meridional cooling was provided by Clive Best, and later on is a repost of that understanding consistent with Vinós & May.
Update September 24, 2022 at end Richard Lindzen Weighs In
A synopsis of the Winter Gatekeeper hypothesis
The IPCC assessment reports published since 1990, reflect a scientific consensus that natural forces, including solar activity and ocean-atmosphere oscillations, like the Atlantic and Pacific multidecadal oscillations, had a net zero effect on the observed global average surface temperature changes since 1951. The IPCC consensus does not allow for changes in the poleward (meridional) transport of energy to have significantly affected this average temperature over the past 75 years.
The Winter Gatekeeper hypothesis proposes that changes in the meridional transport of energy and moisture are the main way the climate changes now and in the past.
Meridional transport variability has many causes and forces that act simultaneously and in different time frames on the climate system. They integrate into a very complex poleward energy transportation system. Among these are multidecadal ocean-atmosphere oscillations, solar variability, ozone, stratospheric-reaching tropical volcanic eruptions, orbital changes, and changing luni-solar gravitational pull. Meridional transport is therefore an integrator of internal and external signals.
It is not the only way the climate changes, but evidence suggests it is the main one.
The Winter Gatekeeper hypothesis does not disprove greenhouse gas effect induced climate change—manmade or otherwise—in fact, it acts through it. But it does not require changes in the atmospheric content of non-condensing greenhouse gases to cause significant climate change. Therefore, it does refute the hypothesis that CO2 is the main climate change control knob.
Meridional transport moves energy that is already in the climate system toward its exit point at the top of the atmosphere at a higher latitude. It is carried out mainly by the atmosphere, in both the stratosphere and troposphere, with an important oceanic contribution. The greenhouse effect is not homogeneous over the planet due to the unequal distribution of water vapor, and it is stronger in the wet tropics, weaker over deserts, and much weaker at the poles in winter. When meridional transport is stronger, more energy reaches the poles. There it can more efficiently exit the climate system, particularly during the winter, when there is no Sun in the sky. Most polar imported moisture in winter freezes, emitting its latent heat. Additional CO2 molecules increase outward radiation, as they are warmer than the surface. The net result is that all imported energy into the polar regions in winter exits the climate system at the top of the atmosphere (Peixoto & Oort, 1992, p. 363), and increasing the energy transported there at that time can only increase the loss.
When meridional transport is stronger, the planet loses more energy and cools down (or warms less) in a non-homogeneous way, because the net energy loss is greater in the polar regions. However, as more energy is directed toward the poles, the Arctic region warms, even as the rest of the world cools or warms more slowly. When meridional transport is weaker, less energy reaches the poles and exits the climate system. Then the planet loses less energy and warms, while the Arctic cools, because it receives less energy from the lower latitudes.
Figure 12: The effect of strong and weak Atlantic THC. Idealized portrayal of the primary Atlantic Ocean upper ocean currents during strong and weak phases of the thermohaline circulation (THC) Source: Bill Gray: H20 is Climate Control Knob, not CO2
Most of the energy is transported through the lower troposphere and ocean track. As a result, changes in multidecadal ocean oscillations produce a greater effect on climate in the multidecadal timeframe than changes in solar activity. Solar changes have a stronger effect on stratospheric energy transport. Even so, there is a non-well defined link between changes in solar activity and changes in the multidecadal oscillations that result in major multidecadal climate shifts right after 11-year solar cycle minima (see Part IV). Nevertheless, modern global warming started c. 1850, when the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation increased its amplitude and period (Moore et al. 2017). The overall multidecadal oscillation (aka the stadium wave) currently has a period of c. 65 years, and the 20th century included two rising phases of the oscillation, explaining its two warming phases (1915-1945, and 1976-1997; Fig. 7.1).
Meridional transport was further reduced during the 20th century by the coincidence of the Modern Solar Maximum (Fig. 7.1 at top): A long period of above average solar activity between 1935 and 2004. It is the longest such period in at least 600 years. Solar activity acts mainly on stratospheric energy transport, but since it affects the strength of the polar vortex and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (see Part II), it also influences tropospheric transport.
As it can be seen in Fig. 7.1, most of the warming during the 20th century can be explained by the combined effect of the ocean multidecadal oscillations and the Modern Solar Maximum on meridional transport. No other proposed factor can satisfactorily explain the early 20th century warming period, the mid-20th century shallow cooling, and the late 20th century strong warming period, without resorting to ad-hoc explanations. In a single century two periods of reduced transport (warming), coincided with the ascent of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and the effect of the modern solar maximum.
This resulted in 80 years of diminished transport that contributed to the greatest warming in 600 years, triggering political and scientific alarm.
Background Post Arctic “Amplification” Not What You Think
This post is challenging the notion of Arctic Amplification itself. The term is bandied about with the connotation that man-made global warming is multiplied in the Arctic and responsible for weather extremes.
As the animation above shows, there have been in recent years alternating patterns of unusually cold or warm weather in the Northern Hemisphere. There are several problems in the attempt to link these events to global warming/climate change, i.e. claiming causation from a slow increase in baseline global average temperatures.
Arctic Amplification is an artifact of Temperature Anomalies
Arctic Surface Stations Records Show Ordinary Warming
Arctic Warmth Comes from Meridional Heat Transport, not CO2
Clive Best provides this animation of recent monthly temperature anomalies which demonstrates how most variability in anomalies occur over northern continents.
1. Arctic Amplification is an artifact of Temperature Anomalies
Beyond the issues with the measurements and the questionable adjustments, there is a more fundamental misconception about air temperatures in relation to “climate change.” Clive Best does a fine job explaining why Global Mean Temperature anomalies do not mean what people think. Below is my synopsis of his recent essay entitled Do Global Temperatures make sense? (link)
Background: Earth’s Heat Imbalance
ERBE measurements of radiative imbalance.
The earth’s temperature at any location is never in equilibrium. It changes daily, seasonally and annually. Incoming solar radiation varies enormously especially near the poles which receive more energy per day in summer than the equator.
The earth cools primarily by moving heat from hot tropical regions towards high latitudes where net IR radiation loss cools the planet, thus maintaining a certain temperature profile.
Key Point: GMT Anomalies Are Dominated by the Highest Latitudes
The main problem with all the existing observational datasets is that they don’t actually measure the global temperature at all. Instead they measure the global average temperature ‘anomaly’. . .The use of anomalies introduces a new bias because they are now dominated by the larger ‘anomalies’ occurring at cold places in high latitudes. The reason for this is obvious, because all extreme seasonal variations in temperature occur in northern continents, with the exception of Antarctica. Increases in anomalies are mainly due to an increase in the minimum winter temperatures, especially near the arctic circle.
To take an extreme example here is the monthly temperature data and calculated anomalies for Verkoyhansk in Siberia. Annual temperatures vary from -50C in winter to +20C in summer. That is a seasonal range of 70C each year, and a year to year anomaly variation of ~8C is normal. The only global warming effect evident is a slight increase in the minimum winter temperatures since 1900. That is not due to any localised enhanced greenhouse effect but rather to an enhanced meridional heat transport. Temperatures in equatorial regions meanwhile have only ~4C seasonal variations, and show essentially no warming trend.
2. Arctic Surface Stations Records Show Ordinary Warming
Locations of 118 arctic stations examined in this study and compared to observations at 50 European stations whose records averaged 200 years and in a few cases extend to the early 1700s
A recent extensive analysis of Northern surface temperature records gives no support for Arctic “amplification” fears.
The Arctic has warmed at the same rate as Europe over the past two centuries. Heretofore, it has been supposed that any global warming would be amplified in the Arctic. This may still be true if urban heat island effects are responsible for part of the observed temperature increase at European stations. However, European and Arctic temperatures have remained closely synchronized for over 200 years during the rapid growth of urban centres.
And the warming pattern in Europe and the Arctic is familiar and unalarming.
Arctic temperatures have increased during the period 1820– 2014. The warming has been larger in January than in July. Siberia, Alaska and Western Canada appear to have warmed slightly more than Eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Northern Europe. The warming has not occurred at a steady rate. Much of the warming trends found during 1820 to 2014 occurred in the late 1990s, and the data show temperatures levelled off after 2000. The July temperature trend is even slightly negative for the period 1820–1990. The time series exhibit multidecadal temperature fluctuations which have also been found by other temperature reconstructions.
3. Arctic Warmth Comes from Meridional Heat Transport, not CO2
Key Point: Heat Distribution Changes, not Global Temperatures
Rising CO2 levels modify that radiation imbalance profile slightly. Surface temperatures in the tropics are not really warming at all. Any excess heat induces more clouds and more convection while surface temperatures remain constant. What really happens is that the meridional radiation profile changes. Slightly more heat is transported polewards so that hot places are shifting more heat to cold places which are doing the warming. If CO2 levels stop rising then a new temperature and radiation profile would rather quickly be reached. This is then called ‘climate change’ but any such changes are concentrated in colder regions of the world. The global ‘temperature’ itself is not changing, but instead the global distribution of temperature is changing.
Key Point: More Atmospheric Heat means Warming in the Coldest Places
Temperatures at the poles during 6 months of darkness would fall well below -150C if there was no atmosphere, similar to the moon. Instead heat is constantly being transported from lower latitudes by the atmosphere and ocean and so that temperatures never fall much below -43C. If more heat is transported northwards than previously, then minimum temperatures must rise, and this is what we observe in individual measurements.
Long term changes in temperature anomalies occur mainly in northern continents in winter months. This is not because the earth as a whole is warming up but rather that meridional heat transport from the equator to the poles has increased and the largest effect on ‘anomalies occurs in winter. The average absolute temperature of the earth’s surface is unknown. Basing the evidence for climate change on the 150 year trend in global averaged temperature anomalies still biases the result towards higher latitudes where most of the stations are located.
When heat is released into the atmosphere from the oceans, it is transported toward the poles to dissipate into space. Places in higher latitudes are warmed, not by radiative effects of greenhouse gases in those locales, but by the incursion of warmer air from the equator.
What happens if more CO2 is added into the atmosphere? No one knows, but there are many opinions, a popular one being that more heat is retained in the atmosphere. But in that case, that additional heat will be shed by the planet in exactly the same manner: transport to the poles with slightly less extremely cold air at the higher latitudes.
Why in the world would we pay anything to prevent a little bit of warming in the world’s coldest places?
London, 23 September – A prominent climate scientist has warned that the picture of climate change presented in the IPCC’s narrative is simplistic, ill-conceived, and undermined by observational evidence. In a new discussion paper, Professor Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) points out that the official picture, focusing narrowly on carbon dioxide as a warming agent, becomes implausible when applied to the details of the climate system. According to Lindzen,
“If you are going to blame everything on carbon dioxide, you have to explain why, on all timescales, temperatures in the tropics are extremely stable while those in high latitudes are much more variable. The IPCC’s story is that small amounts of greenhouse warming near the equator are ‘amplified’ at high latitudes. But neither theory nor data support the idea of amplification.”
Instead, says Lindzen, this pattern – of stable tropical temperatures and fluctuating ones in high latitudes – is mostly a function of natural processes in the atmosphere and oceans; in other words, changes in oceanic and atmospheric currents that transport heat poleward while drawing varying amounts of heat out of the tropics. These changes in transport affect the tropics, but they are not determined by the tropics.
“The changes in the earth’s so-called temperature are mainly due to changes in the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles – at least for major changes. The changes in tropical temperature, which are influenced by greenhouse processes, are a minor contribution.”
Excerpts from the Introduction in italics with my bolds.
In the past few years, confidence in the AGW theory has declined dramatically. New research points to natural causes of the modern warming, and stabilizing (by some measures, falling) global temperatures have called attention to long-recognized shortcomings of the AGW theory. Tens of thousands of scientists have signed petitions expressing their dissent from the so-called “consensus” in favor of AGW. Opinion polls show a majority of the public in the U.S. and in other countries no longer believes human activity is causing global warming. Evidence of the decline of the AGW theory is presented in the postscript to this booklet.
The demise of the AGW theory makes this a good time to look at other theories of climate change put forward by prominent scientists but overlooked in the rush to judgment. This booklet identifies seven theories – AGW plus six others that do not claim man-made CO2 is a major cause of climate change.
Each theory is plausible and sheds light on some aspects of climate change that were hidden or obscured by too great a focus on the AGW theory.
In some respects these theories are not mutually exclusive: solar variability could be the sustaining force behind what I have called the “cloud formation and albedo” and “ocean currents” theories as well as being its own theory, though the mechanisms in each case differ slightly. Most physicists don’t study biology or chemistry and so don’t pay much attention to biological and chemical feedbacks. If they did, they would probably recognize that such processes play a bigger role in controlling climate than previously believed.
Deeper analysis also reveals that these theories are not all trying to answer the same questions or necessarily achieve predictive power. Trying to discern a human effect on climate is not the primary objective of biologists studying the effect of higher levels of CO2 on plants or of physicists measuring the amount of energy leaving Earth’s atmosphere. While they are “experts” on climate change, they are not part of the search for a “human fingerprint” on Earth’s climate. Nor are they qualified to make predictions based on their narrow expertise, as Kesten Green at the University of South Australia and J. Scott Armstrong at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania have tried to explain.
The six theories of climate change that do not involve man-made greenhouse gas emissions
are incompatible, though, with the AGW theory.
If evidence exists that negative feedbacks offset whatever warming is caused by man-made greenhouse gases, then the warming during the past 50 years could not be due to the burning of fossil fuels. Similarly, if solar variability explains most or all of the variation in temperatures in prehistoric as well as modern times, then there is no room for speculation about a large role for man-made CO2 .
Over time, the science of climatology will become somewhat more exact, based on examination of the historical record and newly assessed empirical evidence. It probably will not be illuminated much by mathematical models that cannot generate reliable forecasts of a system that even proponents of the anthropogenic global warming theory admit is naturally chaotic. We cannot adequately measure the enormous quantity of data necessary to feed the models, and we are not even sure which variables should be included.
The uncertainty that pervades climate science today, as climate scientist Mike Hulme has written,
is a function of the limits of science itself.
The object of this essay is not to say which of these seven theories is right or “best,” but only to present them to the reader in a format that allows reflection and balanced consideration. Such dispassionate interest in the subject has been lacking in recent years, and the scientific debate has suffered for it.
It being August and end of the Greenland Ice Sheet melting season, the media is replete with warnings about how the Greenland glacier is melting and will flood the coastlines with a foot or more of sea level rise. For Example:
Study: Greenland ice melt will raise sea levels by nearly a foot Axios
Greenland ice sheet losing ice faster than forecast, now irreversibly committed to at least 10 inches of sea level rise Phys.org
Melting Greenland ice sheet will raise seas by nearly a foot USA Today
Melting of Greenland Ice Sheet Poised to Trigger Almost a Foot of Sea Level Rise Common Dreams
Greenland’s Melting Ice Sheet Has ‘Passed The Point of No Return’, Scientists Say science alert
The scare du jour is about Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) and how it will melt out and flood us all. It’s declared that GIS has passed its tipping point, and we are doomed. Typical is the Boston.com hysteria: Zombie ice from Greenland will raise sea level 10 inchesExcerpts in italics with my bolds.
Greenland’s rapidly melting ice sheet will eventually raise global sea level by at least 10.6 inches (27 centimeters) — more than twice as much as previously forecast — according to a study published Monday.
That’s because of something that could be called zombie ice. That’s doomed ice that, while still attached to thicker areas of ice, is no longer getting replenished by parent glaciers now receiving less snow. Without replenishment, the doomed ice is melting from climate change and will inevitably raise seas, said study co-author William Colgan, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.
“It’s dead ice. It’s just going to melt and disappear from the ice sheet,” Colgan said in an interview. “This ice has been consigned to the ocean, regardless of what climate (emissions) scenario we take now.”
One of the study authors said that more than 120 trillion tons (110 trillion metric tons) of ice is already doomed to melt from the warming ice sheet’s inability to replenish its edges. When that ice melts into water, if it were concentrated only over the United States, it would be 37 feet (11 meters) deep.
Study lead author Jason Box, a glaciologist at the Greenland survey, said it is “more like one foot in the grave.”
Time is the key unknown here and a bit of a problem with the study, said two outside ice scientists, Leigh Stearns of the University of Kansas and Sophie Nowicki of the University of Buffalo. The researchers in the study said they couldn’t estimate the timing of the committed melting, yet in the last sentence they mention, “within this century,” without supporting it, Stearns said.
Annual Greenland Fluctuations in Perspective
Panic is warranted only if you treat this as proof of an alarmist narrative and ignore the facts and context in which natural variation occurs. For starters, consider the last six years of GIS fluctuations reported by DMI and summarized in the twelve graphs below. Note the noisy blue lines showing how the surface mass balance (SMB) changes its daily weight by 8 or 10 gigatonnes (Gt) around the baseline mean from 1981 to 2010. Note also the summer decrease between May and August each year before recovering to match or exceed the mean.
The other six graphs show the accumulation of SMB for each of the last six years including 2022. Tipping Point? Note that in both 2017 and 2018, SMB ended about 500 Gt higher than the year began, and way higher than 2012, which added nothing. Then came 2019 dropping below the mean, but still above 2012. Finally, both this and last year exceeded the 30-year average. Note also that the charts do not integrate from previous years; i.e. each year starts at zero and shows the accumulation only for that year. Thus the gains from 2017 and 2018 do not result in 2019 starting the year up 1000 Gt, but from zero. Nor will the gains in 2021 and 2022 be added to the base.
While they may appear solid, all ice sheets—which are essentially giant glaciers—experience movement: ice flows downslope either through the process of deformation or sliding. The latest results suggest that the movement of the ice on the GIS is dominated by sliding, not deformation. This process is moving ice to the marginal zones of the sheet, where melting occurs, at a much faster rate.
“The study was motivated by a major unknown in how the ice of Greenland moves from the cold interior, to the melting regions on the margins,” Neil Humphrey, a professor of geology from the University of Wyoming and author of the study, told Newsweek. “The ice is known to move both by sliding over the bedrock under the ice, and by oozing (deforming) like slowly flowing honey or molasses. What was unknown was the ratio between these two modes of motion—sliding or deforming.
“This lack of understanding makes predicting the future difficult, since we know how to calculate the flowing, but do not know much about sliding,” he said. “Although melt can occur anywhere in Greenland, the only place that significant melt can occur is in the low altitude margins. The center (high altitude) of the ice is too cold for the melt to contribute significant water to the oceans; that only occurs at the margins. Therefore ice has to get from where it snows in the interior to the margins.
“The implications for having high sliding along the margin of the ice sheet means that thinning or thickening along the margins due to changes in ice speed can occur much more rapidly than previously thought,” Maier said. “This is really important; as when the ice sheet thins or thickens it will either increase the rate of melting or alternatively become more resilient in a changing climate.“
“There has been some debate as to whether ice flow along the edges of Greenland should be considered mostly deformation or mostly sliding,” Maier says. “This has to do with uncertainty of trying to calculate deformation motion using surface measurements alone. Our direct measurements of sliding- dominated motion, along with sliding measurements made by other research teams in Greenland, make a pretty compelling argument that no matter where you go along the edges of Greenland, you are likely to have a lot of sliding.”
The sliding ice does two things, Humphrey says. First, it allows the ice to slide into the ocean and make icebergs, which then float away. Two, the ice slides into lower, warmer climate, where it can melt faster.
While it may sound dire, Humphrey notes the entire Greenland Ice Sheet is 5,000 to 10,000 feet thick.
“In a really big melt year, the ice sheet might melt a few feet. It means Greenland is going to be there another 10,000 years,” Humphrey says. “So, it’s not the catastrophe the media is overhyping.”
Humphrey has been working in Greenland for the past 30 years and says the Greenland Ice Sheet has only melted 10 feet during that time span.
The Greenland ice sheet is more than 1.2 miles thick in most regions. If all of its ice was to melt, global sea levels could be expected to rise by about 25 feet. However, this would take more than 10,000 years at the current rates of melting.
Background from Previous Post: Greenland Glaciers: History vs. Hysteria
The modern pattern of environmental scares started with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring claiming chemicals are killing birds, only today it is windmills doing the carnage. That was followed by ever expanding doomsday scenarios, from DDT, to SST, to CFC, and now the most glorious of them all, CO2. In all cases the menace was placed in remote areas difficult for objective observers to verify or contradict. From the wilderness bird sanctuaries, the scares are now hiding in the stratosphere and more recently in the Arctic and Antarctic polar deserts. See Progressively Scaring the World (Lewin book synopsis)
The advantage of course is that no one can challenge the claims with facts on the ground, or on the ice. Correction: Scratch “no one”, because the climate faithful are the exception. Highly motivated to go to the ends of the earth, they will look through their alarmist glasses and bring back the news that we are indeed doomed for using fossil fuels.
For the first time, warm waters that originate in the tropics have been found at uniform depth, displacing the cold polar water at the Helheim calving front, causing an unusually high melt rate. Typically, ocean waters near the terminus of an outlet glacier like Helheim are at the freezing point and cause little melting.
NYUAD researchers, led by Professor of Mathematics at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Principal Investigator for NYU Abu Dhabi’s Centre for Sea Level Change David Holland, on August 5, deployed a helicopter-borne ocean temperature probe into a pond-like opening, created by warm ocean waters, in the usually thick and frozen melange in front of the glacier terminus.
Normally, warm, salty waters from the tropics travel north with the Gulf Stream, where at Greenland they meet with cold, fresh water coming from the polar region. Because the tropical waters are so salty, they normally sink beneath the polar waters. But Holland and his team discovered that the temperature of the ocean water at the base of the glacier was a uniform 4 degrees Centigrade from top to bottom at depth to 800 metres. The finding was also recently confirmed by Nasa’s OMG (Oceans Melting Greenland) project.
“This is unsustainable from the point of view of glacier mass balance as the warm waters are melting the glacier much faster than they can be replenished,” said Holland.
Surface melt drains through the ice sheet and flows under the glacier and into the ocean. Such fresh waters input at the calving front at depth have enormous buoyancy and want to reach the surface of the ocean at the calving front. In doing so, they draw the deep warm tropical water up to the surface, as well.
All around Greenland, at depth, warm tropical waters can be found at many locations. Their presence over time changes depending on the behaviour of the Gulf Stream. Over the last two decades, the warm tropical waters at depth have been found in abundance. Greenland outlet glaciers like Helheim have been melting rapidly and retreating since the arrival of these warm waters.
Then the Hysteria and Pledge of Alligiance to Global Warming
“We are surprised to learn that increased surface glacier melt due to warming atmosphere can trigger increased ocean melting of the glacier,” added Holland. “Essentially, the warming air and warming ocean water are delivering a troubling ‘one-two punch’ that is rapidly accelerating glacier melt.”
My comment: Hold on. They studied effects from warmer ocean water gaining access underneath that glacier. Oceans have roughly 1000 times the heat capacity of the atmosphere, so the idea that the air is warming the water is far-fetched. And remember also that long wave radiation of the sort that CO2 can emit can not penetrate beyond the first millimeter or so of the water surface. So how did warmer ocean water get attributed to rising CO2? Don’t ask, don’t tell. And the idea that air is melting Arctic glaciers is also unfounded.
Consider the basics of air parcels in the Arctic.
The central region of the Arctic is very dry. Why? Firstly because the water is frozen and releases very little water vapour into the atmosphere. And secondly because (according to the laws of physics) cold air can retain very little moisture.
Greenland has the only veritable polar ice cap in the Arctic, meaning that the climate is even harsher (10°C colder) than at the North Pole, except along the coast and in the southern part of the landmass where the Atlantic has a warming effect. The marked stability of Greenland’s climate is due to a layer of very cold air just above ground level, air that is always heavier than the upper layers of the troposphere. The result of this is a strong, gravity-driven air flow down the slopes (i.e. catabatic winds), generating gusts that can reach 200 kph at ground level.
Arctic air temperatures Some history and scientific facts are needed to put these claims in context. Let’s start with what is known about Helheim Glacier.
Holocene history of the Helheim Glacier, southeast Greenland
Helheim Glacier ranks among the fastest flowing and most ice discharging outlets of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). After undergoing rapid speed-up in the early 2000s, understanding its long-term mass balance and dynamic has become increasingly important. Here, we present the first record of direct Holocene ice-marginal changes of the Helheim Glacier following the initial deglaciation. By analysing cores from lakes adjacent to the present ice margin, we pinpoint periods of advance and retreat. We target threshold lakes, which receive glacial meltwater only when the margin is at an advanced position, similar to the present. We show that, during the period from 10.5 to 9.6 cal ka BP, the extent of Helheim Glacier was similar to that of todays, after which it remained retracted for most of the Holocene until a re-advance caused it to reach its present extent at c. 0.3 cal ka BP, during the Little Ice Age (LIA). Thus, Helheim Glacier’s present extent is the largest since the last deglaciation, and its Holocene history shows that it is capable of recovering after several millennia of warming and retreat. Furthermore, the absence of advances beyond the present-day position during for example the 9.3 and 8.2 ka cold events as well as the early-Neoglacial suggest a substantial retreat during most of the Holocene.
Helheim Glacier is the fastest flowing glacier along the eastern edge of Greenland Ice Sheet and one of the island’s largest ocean-terminating rivers of ice. Named after the Vikings’ world of the dead, Helheim has kept scientists on their toes for the past two decades. Between 2000 and 2005, Helheim quickly increased the rate at which it dumped ice to the sea, while also rapidly retreating inland- a behavior also seen in other glaciers around Greenland. Since then, the ice loss has slowed down and the glacier’s front has partially recovered, readvancing by about 2 miles of the more than 4 miles it had initially retreated.
NASA has compiled a time series of airborne observations of Helheim’s changes into a new visualization that illustrates the complexity of studying Earth’s changing ice sheets. NASA uses satellites and airborne sensors to track variations in polar ice year after year to figure out what’s driving these changes and what impact they will have in the future on global concerns like sea level rise.
Since 1997, NASA has collected data over Helheim Glacier almost every year during annual airborne surveys of the Greenland Ice Sheet using an airborne laser altimeter called the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM). Since 2009 these surveys have continued as part of Operation IceBridge, NASA’s ongoing airborne survey of polar ice and its longest-running airborne mission. ATM measures the elevation of the glacier along a swath as the plane files along the middle of the glacier. By comparing the changes in the height of the glacier surface from year to year, scientists estimate how much ice the glacier has lost.
The animation begins by showing the NASA P-3 plane collecting elevation data in 1998. The laser instrument maps the glacier’s surface in a circular scanning pattern, firing laser shots that reflect off the ice and are recorded by the laser’s detectors aboard the airplane. The instrument measures the time it takes for the laser pulses to travel down to the ice and back to the aircraft, enabling scientists to measure the height of the ice surface. In the animation, the laser data is combined with three-dimensional images created from IceBridge’s high-resolution camera system. The animation then switches to data collected in 2013, showing how the surface elevation and position of the calving front (the edge of the glacier, from where it sheds ice) have changed over those 15 years.
Helheim’s calving front retreated about 2.5 miles between 1998 and 2013. It also thinned by around 330 feet during that period, one of the fastest thinning rates in Greenland.
“The calving front of the glacier most likely was perched on a ledge in the bedrock in 1998 and then something altered its equilibrium,” said Joe MacGregor, IceBridge deputy project scientist. “One of the most likely culprits is a change in ocean circulation or temperature, such that slightly warmer water entered into the fjord, melted a bit more ice and disturbed the glacier’s delicate balance of forces.”
In addition consider Greenland Ice Math
Prompted by comments from Gordon Walleville, let’s look at Greenland ice gains and losses in context. The ongoing SMB (surface mass balance) estimates ice sheet mass net from melting and sublimation losses and precipitation gains. Dynamic ice loss is a separate calculation of calving chunks of ice off the edges of the sheet, as discussed in the post above. The two factors are combined in a paper Forty-six years of Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance from 1972 to 2018 by Mouginot et al. (2019) Excerpt in italics. (“D” refers to dynamic ice loss.)
Greenland’s SMB averaged 422 ± 10 Gt/y in 1961–1989 (SI Appendix, Fig. S1H). It decreased from 506 ± 18 Gt/y in the 1970s to 410 ± 17 Gt/y in the 1980s and 1990s, 251 ± 20 Gt/y in 2010–2018, and a minimum at 145 ± 55 Gt/y in 2012. In 2018, SMB was above equilibrium at 449 ± 55 Gt, but the ice sheet still lost 105 ± 55 Gt, because D is well above equilibrium and 15 Gt higher than in 2017. In 1972–2000, D averaged 456 ± 1 Gt/y, near balance, to peak at 555 ± 12 Gt/y in 2018. In total, the mass loss increased to 286 ± 20 Gt/y in 2010–2018 due to an 18 ± 1% increase in D and a 48 ± 9% decrease in SMB. The ice sheet gained 47 ± 21 Gt/y in 1972–1980, and lost 50 ± 17 Gt/y in the 1980s, 41 ± 17 Gt/y in the 1990s, 187 ± 17 Gt/y in the 2000s, and 286 ± 20 Gt/y in 2010–2018 (Fig. 2). Since 1972, the ice sheet lost 4,976 ± 400 Gt, or 13.7 ± 1.1 mm SLR.
Doing the numbers: Greenland area 2.1 10^6 km2 80% ice cover, 1500 m thick in average- That is 2.5 Million Gton. Simplified to 1 km3 = 1 Gton
The estimated loss since 1972 is 5000 Gt (rounded off), which is 110 Gt a year. The more recent estimates are higher, in the 200 Gt range.
200 Gton is 0.008 % of the Greenland ice sheet mass.
Annual snowfall: From the Lost Squadron, we know at that particular spot, the ice increase since 1942 – 1990 was 1.5 m/year ( Planes were found 75 m below surface) Assume that yearly precipitation is 100 mm / year over the entire surface. That is 168000 Gton. Yes, Greenland is Big! Inflow = 168,000Gton. Outflow is 168,200 Gton.
So if that 200 Gton rate continued, (assuming as models do, despite air photos showing fluctuations), that ice loss would result in a 1% loss of Greenland ice in 800 years. (H/t Bengt Abelsson)
Once again, history is a better guide than hysteria. Over time glaciers advance and retreat, and incursions of warm water are a key factor. Greenland ice cap and glaciers are part of the Arctic self-oscillating climate system operating on a quasi-60 year cycle.
Michael Foley writes at Quora(Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.)
Q: Why do most scientists believe that the climate is changing?
A: Because it is. But most scientists do not believe
human activity is the cause of the change.
The 97% of scientists belief fraud, which has been proven to be a fraud over and over again, was based on a review of the scientific literature on climate. Over 10,000 papers were reviewed and of those only about 2,000 mentioned climate change of those 1,900 were eliminated for various reasons (some of those reasons were bias based) resulting in 100 papers. Of those 100 papers 97 concluded that man’s activity may have a roll in climate change. They ranged from very likely to maybe, which is what came to be reported as the 97% figure.
There is no argument that the climate is changing,
it always has and will always continue to change.
From ice cores and ocean sediment cores it has been established that the earth has regular and generally predictable 2 major climate cycles. They are classified as a Greenhouse cycle (defined as a period where there are NO PERMANENT ice sheet anywhere on earth) and Ice Ages ( defined as periods where there are permanent ice sheets in at least 1 Hemisphere).
Each of these major cycles has several sub cycles. Ice ages have 2 major sub cycles called Interglacial and Glaciation. 73% of earth’s existence has been during a a Greenhouse period. The remaining 27% has been in at least 5 ice ages. We are currently in an Ice age. To be more exact we are living in an Interglacial phase of the current Ice age which has been going on for around 11,500 years. The 2 subcycles also have additional subcycles which last on average of 500 years. The two last such mini cycles are known by the names the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period.
The little ice age ended in the late 1800’s with 1880 being the generally used end date. Interesting enough climate alarmists almost exclusively use this date as the start date for any chart or graph they use in support of their theory. It is also important to realize that man made global warming (by burning fossil fuels and thereby contributing to atmospheric CO2) is a theory and has such remains an unproven theory.
Despite the claim of some who say the science is settled and that there is a scientific consensus.
Both of these claims should raise red flags for anyone who has even an elementary school level of science education. For starters, science is NEVER settled, our scientific understanding and knowledge is constantly changing and theories that have been accepted for decades, centuries and millennia are proven false or modified almost daily. For example, the Big Bang theory is no longer a credible theory of how the universe started. But is still generally accepted in the general public. Secondly, science is not about a consensus period. Science is a search for the true. Either a theory is true or it is false. In order for a theory to reach a level of scientific acceptance requires the use of the scientific method, which involves testing the theory and retesting, them releasing all the information and data gathered in the testing to allow it to be reviewed by others and allowing others to try and duplicate the original experiment.
If just one of these efforts fails to confirm the results of the original finding theory is not validated. Therefore a consensus believing something is the case is irrelevant.
A consensus used to believe that the earth was flat, that the earth was the center of the universe, that the sun orbited around the earth and each of these beliefs were strongly defended. When you look at the efforts of the climate alarmist research and testing of their theory you find that not one of their efforts has resulted in a conclusion that the theory is correct. Not only that but those experiments that have claimed to support the theory have never released their data sets or methodologies for review.
The first graph appeared in the IPCC 1990 First Assessment Report (FAR) credited to H.H.Lamb, first director of CRU-UEA. The second graph was featured in 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) the famous hockey stick credited to M. Mann.
The most famous of these is Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph that purported to show a relatively stable climate prior to the mid 1900’s. This graph became the poster child for the UN’s IPCC 1st climate assessment report. Man refused to release the data sets he used or let others review his methods or computer programs that came up with the hockey stick. However, Mann’s hockey stick graph eventually was proven to be a fraud. The IPCC quietly dropped it from their 3rd assessment. Each IPCC assessment has adjusted the predicted climate change downward to where the latest report has a predicted climate change resulting from human activity to be 2 to 3 degrees C over the next 100 years.
The original MBH graph compared to a corrected version produced by MacIntyre and McKitrick after undoing Mann’s errors.
However, even that amount remains nothing more than a computer model prediction which has not been proven.
Why so many people are so willing to accept a theory without any evidence and are so willing to accept the demanded changes to how we live with no evidence is a truly remarkable thing. Climate alarmist will point to every weather event as proof of man’s destruction of the planet. Even when the science has proven time and again that the supposed weather events are in fact well within the natural cycle of events. All of these claims and efforts are efforts to bring within the human experience (life time) evidence of climate change and the man made use of fossil fuels has the cause.
Even though NONE of the predictions made over the last 50 years has come to fruition. NOT ONE OF THEM. How can a group promoting and claim and being wrong every single time still be consider credible, is simply incredible. Some, maybe most are sincere in their belief but instead of using the evidence that is available they are simply Lemmings. Others, the politicians and those with an economic stake in turning the economy upside down are acting out of basic greed. Greed for power and money.
Climate changes occur on geologic timeframes,
which are measured in thousands and millions of years, not in human life times.
‘Although these vulnerable glaciers were relatively stable during the past few millennia, their current rate of retreat is accelerating and already raising global sea level,’ said Dr Dylan Rood of Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, who co-authored the study.
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is home to the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers, and has been thinning over the past few decades amid rising global temperatures. The Thwaites glacier currently measures 74,131 square miles (192,000 square kilometres) – around the same size as Great Britain. Meanwhile, at 62,662 square miles (162,300 square kilometres), the Pine Island glacier is around the same size as Florida. Together, the pair have the potential to cause enormous rises in global sea level as they melt.
‘These currently elevated rates of ice melting may signal that those vital arteries from the heart of the WAIS have been ruptured, leading to accelerating flow into the ocean that is potentially disastrous for future global sea level in a warming world,’ Dr Rood said.
‘We now urgently need to work out if it’s too late to stop the bleeding.’
The colossal West Antarctic ice sheet hides what appears to be the largest volcanic region on the planet, according to the results of a study carried out by researchers at the University of Edinburgh (UK) and reported in the journal Geological Society.
Experts have discovered as many as 91 volcanoes under Antarctic ice, the largest of which is as high as Switzerland’s Eiger volcano, rising 3,970 meters above sea level.
“We found 180 peaks, but we discounted 50 because they didn’t match the other data,” explains Robert Bingham, co-author of the paper. They eventually found 138 peaks under the West Antarctic ice sheet, including 47 volcanoes already known because their peaks protrude through the ice, leaving the figure of 91 newly discovered.
Source: volcanofoundation with glacier locations added
The media narrative blames glacier changes on a “warming world,” code for our fault for burning fossil fuels. And as usual, it is lying by omission. Researcher chaam jamal explains in her article A Climate Science Obsession with the Thwaites Glacier. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
It appears that costly and sophisticated research by these very dedicated climate scientists has made the amazing discovery that maps the deep channels on the seafloor bathymetry by which warm water reaches the underside of the Thwaites glacier and thus explains how this Doomsday glacier melts.
Yet another consideration, not given much attention in this research, is the issue not of identifying the channels by which the deep ocean waters flow to the bottom of the Doomsday Glacier, but of identifying the source of the heat that makes the water warm. Only if that source of heat is anthropogenic global warming caused by fossil fuel emissions that can be moderated by taking climate action, can the observed melt at the bottom of the Thwaites glacier be attributed to AGW climate change.
However, no such finding is made in this research project possibly because these researchers know, as do most researchers who study Antarctica, that this region of Antarctica is extremely geologically active. It is located directly above the West Antarctic Rift system with 150 active volcanoes on the sea floor and right in the middle of the Marie Byrd Mantle Plume with hot magma seeping up from the mantle.
Contrary to recent widespread media reports and dire predictions by a team of earth scientists, Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier – the second fastest melting glacier on the continent – is not on the brink of collapse. The notion that catastrophe is imminent stems from a basic misunderstanding of ice sheet dynamics in West Antarctica.
Because the ice shelf already floats on the ocean, collapse of the shelf itself and release of a flotilla of icebergs wouldn’t cause global sea levels to rise. But the researchers argue that loss of the ice shelf would speed up glacier flow, increasing the contribution to sea level rise of the Thwaites Glacier – often dubbed the “doomsday glacier” – from 4% to 25%.
But such a drastic scenario is highly unlikely, says geologist and UN IPCC expert reviewer Don Easterbrook. The misconception is about the submarine “grounding” of the glacier terminus, the boundary between the glacier and its ice shelf extending out over the surrounding ocean, as illustrated in the next figure.
A glacier is not restrained by ice at its terminus. Rather, the terminus is established by a balance between ice gains from snow accumulation and losses from melting and iceberg calving. The removal of ice beyond the terminus will not cause unstoppable collapse of either the glacier or the ice sheet behind it.
Other factors are important too, one of which is the source area of Antarctic glaciers. Ice draining into the Thwaites Glacier is shown in the right figure above in dark green, while ice draining into the Pine Island glacier is shown in light green; light and dark blue represent ice draining into the Ross Sea to the south of the two glaciers.
The two glaciers between them drain only a relatively small portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet, and the total width of the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers constitutes only about 170 kilometers (100 miles) of the 4,000 kilometers (2,500) miles of West Antarctic coastline.
Of more importance are possible grounding lines for the glacier terminus. The retreat of the present grounding line doesn’t mean an impending calamity because, as Easterbrook points out, multiple other grounding lines exist. Although the base of much of the West Antarctic ice sheet, including the Thwaites glacier, lies below sea level, there are at least six potential grounding lines above sea level, as depicted in the following figure showing the ice sheet profile. A receding glacier could stabilize at any of these lines, contrary to the claims of the recent research study.
As can be seen, the deepest parts of the subglacial basin lie beneath the central portion of the ice sheet where the ice is thickest. What is significant is the ice thickness relative to its depth below sea level. While the subglacial floor at its deepest is 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) below sea level, almost all the subglacial floor in the above profile is less than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) below the sea. Since the ice is mostly more than 2,500 meters (8,200 ft) thick, it couldn’t float in 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) of water anyway.
Those committed to blaming humans for rising atmospheric CO2 sometimes admit that emitted CO2 (from any source) only stays in the air about 5 years (20% removed each year) being absorbed into natural sinks. But they then save their belief by theorizing that human emissions are “pulses” of additional CO2 which persist even when particular molecules are removed, resulting in higher CO2 concentrations. The analogy would be a traffic jam on the freeway which persists long after the blockage in removed.
In the 2 years following the June 15, 1991 eruption of the Pinatubo volcano, the natural environment removed more CO2 than the entire increase in CO2 concentration due to all sources, human and natural, during the entire measured daily record of the Global Monitoring Laboratory of NOAA/Scripps Oceanographic Institute (MLO) May 17, 1974 to June 15, 1991.
Then, in the 2 years after that, that CO2 was replaced plus an additional increment of CO2.
The Pinatubo Phase I Study (Bromley & Tamarkin, 2022) calculated the mass of net CO2 removed from the atmosphere based on measurements taken by MLO and from those measurements then calculated the first and second time derivatives (i.e., slope and acceleration) of CO2 concentration. We then demonstrated a novel use of the Specific Impulse calculation, a standard physical calculation used daily in life and death decisions. There are no theories, estimates or computer models involved in these calculations.
The following calculation is a more conservative demonstration which makes it obvious that human CO2 is not increasing global CO2 concentration.
The average slope of the CO2 concentration in the pre-Pinatubo period in MLO data was 1.463ppm/year based on the method described in Bromley and Tamarkin (2022). Slope is the rate of change of the CO2 concentration. The rate of change and slope of a CO2 concentration with respect to time elapsed are identical to the commonly known terms velocity and speed.
June 15, 1991 was the start of the major Pinatubo volcanic eruption and April 22, 1993 was the date of maximum deceleration in net global average atmospheric CO2 concentration after Pinatubo in the daily measurement record of MLO.
The impulse calculation tells uswhether a car has enough braking force to stop before hitting the wall, or enough force to take the rocket into orbit before it runs out of fuel, or, as in the analogy in the Phase Pinatubo report (Bromley & Tamarkin, 2022), enough force to accelerate the loaded 747 to liftoff velocity before reaching the end of the runway, or enough force to overcome addition of human CO2 to air.
MLO began reporting daily CO2 data on May 17, 1974. On that day, MLO reported 333.38 ppm. On June 15, 1991, MLO reported 358 ppm. 358 minus 333 = 25 ppm increase in CO2. This increase includes all CO2 in the atmosphere from all sources, human and natural. There is no residual human fraction.
25 ppm * 7.76 GtCO2 per ppm = 194 GtCO2 increase in CO2
For this comparison, attribute to humans that entire increase in MLO CO2 since the daily record began. This amount was measured by MLO and we know this amount exceeds the actual human CO2 component.
11.35 GtCO2 per year divided by 365 days per year = 0.031 Gt “human” CO2 added per day. Assume that human emissions did not slow following Pinatubo, even though total CO2 was decelerating precipitously.
Hypothetically, on April 22, 1993, 677 days later, final velocity v of “human” CO2 was the same 0.031 per day. But to be more conservative, let v = 0.041 GtCO2 per day, that is, “human” CO2 is growing faster even though total CO2 is declining sharply.
Jh = 2.17 Newton seconds is the specific impulse for our hypothetical “human” CO2 emissions.
♦ 2.17 Newton seconds for hypothetical “human” CO2 emissions ♦ -55.5 Newton seconds for natural CO2 removal from atmosphere
In this conservative calculation, based entirely on measurements (not theory, not models, and not estimates), Earth’s environment demonstrated the capacity to absorb more than 25 times the not-to-exceed amount of human CO2 emissions at that time.
The data and graphs produced by MLO also show a reduction in slope of CO2 concentration following the June 1991 eruption of Pinatubo, and also shows the more rapid recovery of total CO2 concentration that began about 2 years after the 1991 eruption. This graph is the annual rate of change of total atmosphere CO2 concentration. This graph is not human CO2.
During the global cooling event in the 2 years following the Pinatubo eruption, CO2 concentration decelerated rapidly. Following that 2 year period, in the next 2 years CO2 accelerated more rapidly than it had declined, reaching an average CO2 slope which exceeded MLO-measured slope for the period prior to the June 1991 Pinatubo eruption. The maximum force of the environment to both absorb and emit CO2 could be much larger than the 25 times human emission and could occur much faster.
We do not know the maximum force or specific impulse. But it is very safe to infer from this result that human CO2 emissions are not an environmental crisis.
Theoretical discussion and conclusion
These are the experiment results. Theory must explain these results, not the other way around.
Bromley and Tamarkin (2022) suggested a theory how this very large amount of CO2 could be absorbed so rapidly into the environment, mostly ocean surface. This experimental result is consistent with Henry’s Law, the Law of Mass Action and Le Chatelier’s principle. In a forthcoming addendum to Bromley and Tamarkin (2022), two additional laws, Fick’s Law and Graham’s Law are suggested additions to our theory explaining this experimental result.
There are several inorganic chemical sources in the sea surface thin layer which produce CO2 through a series of linked reactions. Based on theories asserted more than 60 years ago, inorganic and organic chemical sources and sinks are believed to be too small and/or too slow to explain the slope of net global average CO2 concentration. Our results strongly suggest that the net CO2 absorption and net emission events that followed the Pinatubo eruption are response and recovery to a perturbation to the natural trend. There is no suggestion in our results or in our theory that long-term warming of SST causes the slope of net global average CO2 concentration. We have not looked at temperatures or correlation statistics between temperature and CO2 concentration because they are co-dependent variables, and the simultaneity bias cannot be removed with acceptable certainty. References to 25 degrees C in Bromley and Tamarkin (2022) are only in theoretical discussion and not involved in any way in our data analysis or calculations. References to 25 degrees C are merely standard ambient temperature, part of SATP, agreed by standards organizations.
When CO2 slope and acceleration declined post-Pinatubo, why was there a recovery to previous slope, plus and additional offset? The decline and the recovery were certainly not due to humans or the biosphere. As we have shown, CO2 from humans and biosphere combined are over an order of magnitude less than the CO2 absorbed by the environment and then re-emitted. That alone should end fears of CO2-caused climate crisis. Where did the CO2 go so rapidly and where did the CO2 in the recovery come from? Our data suggests that in future research we will find a series of other events, other volcanoes, El Ninos and La Ninas, etc. that have similarly disrupted the equilibrium followed by a response and recovery from the environment.
Tom Segalstad produced this graph on the speed of ocean-CO2 fluxes:
Recently, Dr. John Robson of the Climate Discussion Nexus (CDN) interviewed CERES co-team leader, Dr. Ronan Connolly, on the role of the Sun in recent climate change. Excerpts from ICECAP in italics with my bolds, followed by a video and my transcript from the closed captions.
CDN have now published their 20 minute “explainer” video including extracts from this interview and discussion of some of CERES’ recent scientific research. Although the video covers quite a few technical points, they are explained in a very clear and accessible manner.
Topics covered include:
The significance of the debates between the two main rival satellite estimates of solar activity trends since 1978, i.e., PMOD and ACRIM.
How using either PMOD or ACRIM to calibrate the pre-satellite era solar data can give very different estimates of how much solar activity has changed since the 19th century and earlier.
How politics and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have downplayed the possible role of solar activity in recent climate change.
The urbanization bias problem of current thermometer-based estimates of global temperature trends since the 19th century.
They say you should not look directly at the sun but when it comes to climate a lot of people take that advice to ridiculous extremes. That bright yellow ball in the sky is basically earth’s only source of energy though a very small amount radiates from the planet’s hot core. The sun’s output has been measured to a high degree of precision by satellites in orbit since the late 1970s. and we now know that it varies over time.
Since it is our only source of energy, if it gets stronger it stands to reason that it could warm the climate.
Indeed there was a time about 20 years ago when many scientists believed that the sun had gotten a bit brighter during the 1980s and 1990s. And they even argued it was enough to explain much of the warming that had taken place.
But now agencies like the UN IPCC ( intergovernmental panel on climate change), NASA and others insist the change in solar output never happened. They say the warming can only be explained by greenhouse gases, so do not look at the sun.
People, something pretty basic doesn’t add up here.
If satellites are measuring the sun’s energy precisely, how can there be disagreement about what it’s been doing? The answer unfortunately is that there’s a gap in the satellite record, a gap that came about after the 1986 space shuttle challenger disaster. And as happens too much in this field, the gap quickly went from being a scientific problem to a political one. And the way that gap was handled is a story that deserves a little sunlight.
I’m John Robson and this is a climate discussion nexus backgrounder on the ACRIM gap controversy
The name ACRIM comes from an instrument called the Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor that satellites use to measure solar output. And the amount of solar energy that hits the earth’s atmosphere is called the total solar irradiance or TSI measured in watts per square meter.
On average the sun provides about 1367 watts of energy per square meter continuously on the upper atmosphere. For comparison, all the carbon dioxide ever released from using fossil fuels is estimated by the IPCC to have added about 2 watts per square meter of energy to the atmosphere. And so given the overwhelming role of solar output in the total it shouldn’t take much of a change in the sun’s output to have a global influence on the climate.
We also have data on solar output from the pre-satellite era. For centuries astronomers have been keeping track of the number of dark circles or sunspots that appear on the surface of the sun. Galileo even wrote a book about them. The sunspot count rises and falls on a roughly 11-year cycle which provides clues to the changing strength of solar energy in the past. Scientists can also use evidence from chemical signatures in the earth, called cosmogenic isotopes, to reconstruct solar activity. As usual when you go backward in time on climate it’s only proxy data, and it’s considerably less precise than modern measurements.
Source IPCC Assessment Report #1
But by comparing proxies to satellite data since 1979 we get some idea of how to interpret the clues. In the IPCC’s first report in 1990 they presented a graph that summarized the prevailing view of the sun’s history over the 19th and 20th centuries. It showed the familiar sunspot cycle and also suggested average solar output grew stronger in the second half of the century but they said the changes were not large enough to cause much warming unless there are positive feedback mechanisms that amplify those changes.
But that qualification is not trivial because in fact the notion that carbon dioxide is the driver of warming itself depends on a series of positive feedback mechanisms.Because on its own the warming effect of CO2 is quite small. So there have been various proposals for amplifying mechanisms to increase its impact, which we’ll look at in more detail on another day.
When it comes to the sun basically the argument is that the sun doesn’t just affect how bright it is outside, it also influences how cloudy it is. And since some kinds of clouds have a major role in reflecting heat back into space if more solar output not only adds a bit of heat but also suppresses that kind of cloud formation, it can translate into a lot of surface warming.
So key point here: By the time of the IPCC’s third assessment report in 2001, their views about the sun’s history were getting more uncertain not less uncertain. In AR3 in 2001, instead of having just one reconstruction of solar output, the IPCC now had multiple different ones to choose from. The reconstructions all agreed that solar output followed the sunspot cycle and they all agreed that solar output had increased over the 20th century.
Fig. 6.5 Reconstructions of total solar irradiance (TSI) by Lean et al. as well as Hoyt and Schatten 1993 updated.
But they disagreed over whether the increase was a lot or little and whether it had happened all at once early in the century or more gradually over the whole span. Since these differences arose from statistical estimates using proxy records, it didn’t look as though there would be an easy way to resolve the disagreements.
So attention turned to the modern satellite record with precise measurements of TSI available since 1978. It should have been possible to compare them with surface temperatures to see if there was any relationship. Unfortunately there was the problem we referred to at the outset: A big gap in the data. The satellites that carried the ACRIM system were first launched in 1978. From time to time satellites wear out and need to be replaced. A replacement satellite is supposed to be launched early enough so its ACRIM system overlaps with the existing one allowing the instruments to be calibrated to each other giving scientists a continuous record.
But as you can see, there’s a gap in the ACRIM record from June 1989 to October 1991. and that gap was a consequence of the space shuttle challenger disaster in January of 1986 that caused NASA’s satellite launch program to be suspended for several years.
By the time a new ACRIM system could be put into orbit in 1991 the old one had already been offline for two years. And the only data available to fill the gap was from a different monitor called the earth radiation budget system or ERB which flew on the Nimbus 7 satellite launched in 1978 as part of a separate series. That satellite didn’t have an acronym and unfortunately the ERB system was not meant to monitor solar output with much precision. Its sensors were pointed toward the earth so it could monitor the climate system and it only had a view of the sun during brief intervals of its orbit.. Also it generated two data series, called ERB and ERBS in the diagram, and they disagreed with each other regarding what the sun did during the ACRIM gap.
Still it was something to work with. In 1997 the lead scientist working on the ACRIM system RIchard Willson of Columbia University used the satellite data and all available information on the behavior of the onboard sensors in the various satellites to construct a composite ACRIM record. A comparison of the minimum points in the solar cycle suggested an increase in TSI from the early 1980s through to the end of the 1990s, after which solar output flattened out.
Since this broadly matched the progress of temperatures after 1980 it opened the door to the possibility that the sun might be responsible for some or all of recent climate changes. The alarmists didn’t like that result at all. In fact they reacted like that far side cartoon with the astronauts going blast the controls are jammed we’re headed right for Mr Sun.
So a few years later a different team led by Claus Fröhlich and Judith Lean published a new reconstruction of the same data that showed: Voila, no upward step, just the standard solar cycle steady downward trend after 1980. It’s called the PMOD reconstruction after the name of Fröhlich’s institute the Physical Meteorological Observatory in Davos. It had the convenient effect of ruling out the sun as a factor in climate change.
Now when I say convenient I do mean in the political sense. The authors made no secret of their motivation. In a recent article reviewing the whole episode scientist Ronan Connolly of the center for environmental research in earth science (CERES) massachusetts found some telling quotes from the authors and others working in the field. In a 2003 interview discussing the motivation for their research author Judith Leanstated the fact that some people could use Willson’s results as an excuse to do nothing about greenhouse gas emissions. It is one reason we felt we needed to look at the data ourselves. And in a later review published in 2014 Pia Zacharis of the international space science institute in switzerland conceded that the data adjustments are still a matter of active debate and have prevented the TSI community from coming up with a conclusive TSI composite so far.
But she went on to observe a conclusive TSI time series is not only desirable from the perspective of the scientific community but also when considering the rising interest of the public in questions related to climate change issues, “thus preventing climate skeptics from taking advantage of these discrepancies within the TSI community by for example putting forth a presumed solar effect as an excuse for inaction on anthropogenic warming.”
We spoke with scientist Ronan Connolly recently to discuss the ACRIM gap and how the IPCC handled the controversy. So the PMOD rival group took the ACRIM data and they’ve applied a series of adjustments which got rid of that rise in solar activity in the 80s and 90s, replacing it with a decline. The net effect shows a declining, effectively according to the PMOD, solar activity has been generally decreasing since at least 1970s.
If the ACRIM composite is correct then that would be consistent with a solar contribution because some of the warming in the 80s and 90s could be due to the solar activity. And then the reduction in warming, the pause or even a slight decline depending on the metric, that could be due to a reduction in solar activity. But if PMOD is correct then solar activity can’t really explain any of the global temperature trends during the satellite era.
Which gives us two things to think about.One is that if the sun’s output did get stronger over the 1980s and 1990s that means it bears some of the blame or gets some of the credit for warming the planet over that interval. Which is a valid argument for not blaming everything on greenhouse gases, especially since the sun’s subsequently quieting down coincides with two long pauses in any warming detected by satellites.
Second, the other thing is that we have scientists talking as if their motivation is not just finding the truth. It’s preventing so-called inaction on climate change and feeling no need to hide such a motive. On the contrary they seem to be broadcasting it. And if you’re going to come right out and tell us that your goal is to push a policy agenda whether it’s scientifically justified or not, don’t act surprised when we ell you we’re skeptical about your results.
One group that wasn’t skeptical was the IPCC in their fourth assessment report or AR4 in 2007 they showed both the Willson series here in violet and the Piedmont series which is green. But in their next report in 2013 while they still mentioned the Willson series they dropped it from their calculations and said from now on they would only use the PMOD series that told them what they wanted to hear.
Namely that with no increase in solar output there’s no way to blame the sun for global warming so it must be all your fault
Which is one way to do science but what kind of way? My own experience is that there’s a lot of scientists that feel a lot of pressure to conform their work to the IPCC. The IPCC has become a very dominant political body within the scientific community.
How did the PMOD team come up with a different answer than Willson’s group? By arguing that one of the sensors on the ERB system was defective and experienced an increase in its sensitivity during its time in orbit, adding an artificial upward trend to its readings. The PMOD team corrected this supposed defect by pushing the later part of their data downward, thus erasing the increase and getting the result they were looking for.
But did the ERB system actually suffer this malfunction? In 2008 Richard Willson and another of his co-authors physicist Nicola Scafetta of the university of Naples tracked down Dr Douglas Hoyt, the scientist who’d been in charge of the ERB satellite mission at the time but had since retired. And they asked him and Hoyt emailed them back the following:
Dear Dr. Scafetta:
Concerning the supposed increase in Nimbus 7 sensitivity at the end of September 1989 and other matters as proposed by Fröhlich’s PMOD TSI composite:
1.there is no known physical change in the electrically calibrated nimbus 7 radiometer or its electronics that could have caused it to become more sensitive. At least neither Lee Kyle nor I could never imagine how such a thing could happen. And no one else has ever come up with a physical theory for the instrument that could cause it to become more sensitive.
2. The Nimbus-7 radiometer was calibrated electrically every 12 days. The calibrations before and after the September shutdown gave no indication of any change in the sensitivity of the radiometer. Thus, when Bob Lee of the ERBS team originally claimed there was a change in Nimbus 7 sensitivity, we examined the issue and concluded there was no internal evidence in the Nimbus 7 records to warrant the correction that he was proposing. Since the result was a null one, no publication was thought necessary.
3. Thus Fröhlich’s PMOD TSI composite is not consistent with the internal data or physics of the Nimbus 7 cavity radiometer.
4. The correction of the Nimbus 7 tsi values for 1979 through 1980 proposed by Fröhlich is also puzzling. The raw data was run through the same algorithm for these early years and the subsequent years and there is no justification for Freulich’s adjustment in my opinion.
Sincerely Douglas Hoyt
Yeah puzzling, though we can think of other words like suspicious. So let’s look again at the various reconstructions of solar output. In the 2007 IPCC report here’s the range they admitted was possible from the 1600s to the turn of the century. And typically the uncertainty increases as you go backwards, but there are ways to try to decrease it. In that review article I mentioned by Ronan Connolly and 22 co-authors, when they surveyed the various ways experts have used the satellite and proxy records, they found 16 possible reconstructions of solar activity since 1600: Eight yielding fairly low variability and eight fairly high variability.
To illuminate solar influence on temperature these authors also took a close look at the other side of the equation, surface temperature data, and constructed a new climate record for the northern hemisphere using only rural weather stations and data collected over the sea surface to avoid contamination from urban heat islands. Then they coupled this with tree ring proxy data to assemble a temperature estimate covering the same interval as the solar series.
Putting the solar and temperature data together depending on which solar reconstruction you pick the sun turns out to explain either none of the observed warming or all of it or somewhere in between. So we can get a result from nothing to almost all of the temperature changes since 19th century in terms of solar activity depending on whether ACRIM is correct or PMOD is correct.
Now that result doesn’t mean we get to cherry pick the result we like and say, aha we’ve proven that the sun causes all climate change. But neither can the alarmists go, aha we’ve proven that the sun causes none of it. And the trouble is they do it when they put out reports confidently declaring that warming is all due to greenhouse gases.
They don’t tell you that their calculation is based on using one specific solar reconstruction and a lot of temperature data from cities which have grown bigger and hotter since the start of the 21st century.
I’m going to leave you here with one more quote from another scientist working in the solar measurement field. In a 2012 review paper physicist Michael Lockwood discussed all the difficulties in trying to reconstruct solar output and measure its current effects and lamented: “The academic reputation of the field of sun climate relations is poor because many studies do not address all or even some of the limitations listed above. It is also a field that in recent years has been corrupted by unwelcome political and financial influence as climate change skeptics have seized upon putative solar effects as an excuse for inaction on anthropogenic warming.”
It’s strange when scientists insist that there’s political and financial corruption in their field but it only ever goes in one direction. And it’s not the direction the funders want because, don’t forget, climate research is funded overwhelmingly by governments who believe in a man-made global warming crisis. And it’s also weird when they say that people drawing logical conclusions about the policy implications of the sun having a significant impact on climate are “just making excuses.”
I don’t expect these scientists want any advice from me but I’m going to give it to them anyway.
When you keep telling us that your motivation is to promote a costly policy agenda whether it’s scientifically justified or not;
and you keep getting caught trying to conceal the fact that you’re not nearly as certain about your conclusions as the IPCC keeps claiming;
and you keep getting caught fiddling data series;
and when challenged you substitute abuse for argument;
It makes the general public more skeptical and not less.
So please look up, because for the climate discussion nexus, I’m John Robson and I am looking at the Sun.