David Kirkpatrick

January 29, 2010

There’s a joker in the global warming deck

Filed under: Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:23 am

And surprisingly it’s stratospheric water vapor. Water vapor in a thin wedge of the upper atmosphere seems to have a strong effect on surface temperatures, and might be the explanation for both the rapid rise of the 1990s and subsequent dire predictions for global temperature in the short term. All the more reason to let science do its job of reasoned skepticism, and not turn into political dogma.

From the first link:

Water vapor is a highly variable gas and has long been recognized as an important player in the cocktail of greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, halocarbons, nitrous oxide, and others — that affect climate.

“Current  do a remarkable job on water vapor near the surface. But this is different — it’s a thin wedge of the  that packs a wallop from one decade to the next in a way we didn’t expect,” says Susan Solomon, NOAA senior scientist and first author of the study.

Since 2000, water vapor in the stratosphere decreased by about 10 percent. The reason for the recent decline in water vapor is unknown. The new study used calculations and models to show that the cooling from this change caused surface temperatures to increase about 25 percent more slowly than they would have otherwise, due only to the increases in  and other greenhouse gases.

An increase in stratospheric water vapor in the 1990s likely had the opposite effect of increasing the rate of warming observed during that time by about 30 percent, the authors found.

July 8, 2009

No carbon plan at G-8 summit

Not really surprising given the global recession, among many other issues around climate change politics.

From the link:

The failure to establish specific targets on climate change underscored the difficulty in bridging longstanding divisions between the most developed countries like the United States and developing nations like China and India. In the end, people close to the talks said, the emerging powers refused to agree to the specific emissions limits because they wanted industrial countries to commit to midterm goals in 2020, and to follow through on promises of financial and technological help.

“They’re saying, ‘We just don’t trust you guys,’ ” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group based in the United States. “It’s the same gridlock we had last year when Bush was president.”

American officials said they still had made an important breakthrough because the G-8 countries within the negotiations agreed to adopt the 2050 reduction goals, even though the developing countries would not.

Of course if these guys would just listen to this carbon emmission plan out of Princeton University the world could be saved, or something like that.

(Head below the fold for the full Princeton release.) (more…)

July 2, 2009

Sea ice at 800 year low

Climate change is big news right now with cap-and-trade being debated in D.C., in the media and around the blogosphere. Global warming, dangerous anthropogenic interference, greenhouse gasses and polar ice reduction are words and phrases that are becoming very familiar to many people.

By any honest statistical reckoning it’s clear humanity is playing a large role in the current state of the climate, but at the same time I don’t completely buy into the extreme alarmism going on because as scientists such as Freeman Dyson are stating, we can’t model the complexity of the climate and we have no way of knowing exactly how the climate will react to a warmer planet. There are no easy answers and potentially very dire consequences in the coming decades if the worst of today’s predictions come to pass.

Where ever you stand on the issue of global warming, news like this is never good to read. As always, it’s a good idea to look at any research with as critical an eye as you can bring to the data, but even if the dates are off by even hundreds of years the ice in our oceans is dwindling at increasing rates.

The release:

The least sea ice in 800 years

IMAGE: There has never been so little sea ice in the area between Svalbard and Greenland in the last 800 years.

Click here for more information. 

New research, which reconstructs the extent of ice in the sea between Greenland and Svalbard from the 13th century to the present indicates that there has never been so little sea ice as there is now. The research results from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, are published in the scientific journal, Climate Dynamics.

There are of course neither satellite images nor instrumental records of the climate all the way back to the 13th century, but nature has its own ‘archive’ of the climate in both ice cores and the annual growth rings of trees and we humans have made records of a great many things over the years – such as observations in the log books of ships and in harbour records. Piece all of the information together and you get a picture of how much sea ice there has been throughout time.

Modern research and historic records

“We have combined information about the climate found in ice cores from an ice cap on Svalbard and from the annual growth rings of trees in Finland and this gave us a curve of the past climate” explains Aslak Grinsted, geophysicist with the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

In order to determine how much sea ice there has been, the researchers needed to turn to data from the logbooks of ships, which whalers and fisherman kept of their expeditions to the boundary of the sea ice. The ship logbooks are very precise and go all the way back to the 16th century. They relate at which geographical position the ice was found. Another source of information about the ice are records from harbours in Iceland, where the severity of the winters have been recorded since the end of the 18th century.

By combining the curve of the climate with the actual historical records of the distribution of the ice, researchers have been able to reconstruct the extent of the sea ice all the way back to the 13th century. Even though the 13th century was a warm period, the calculations show that there has never been so little sea ice as in the 20th century.

In the middle of the 17th century there was also a sharp decline in sea ice, but it lastet only a very brief period. The greatest cover of sea ice was in a period around 1700-1800, which is also called the ‘Little Ice Age’.

“There was a sharp change in the ice cover at the start of the 20th century,” explains Aslak Grinsted. He explains, that the ice shrank by 300.000 km2 in the space of ten years from 1910-1920. So you can see that there have been sudden changes throughout time, but here during the last few years we have had some record years with very little ice extent.

“We see that the sea ice is shrinking to a level which has not been seen in more than 800 years”, concludes Aslak Grinsted.


Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00382-009-0610-z

July 23, 2008

Global warming and skepticism

There’s a distressingly anti-science aspect to the global warming scolds. Global warming is a problem and deserves a great deal of thought and effort, but the reality is dissenting points of view are arbitrarily dismissed and outright ignored.

Freeman Dyson wrote a piece for the New York Review of Books (from the Volume 55, Number 10 · June 12, 2008 issue) that is worthy of the time spent reading the article. His main point is the science involved in global warming is not nearly as cut-and-dried as it’s made out to be.

From the link:

Answering Lindzen in the next chapter, “Anthropogenic Climate Change: Revisiting the Facts,” is Stefan Rahmstorf, professor of physics of the oceans at Potsdam University in Germany. Rahmstorf sums up his opinion of Lindzen’s arguments in one sentence: “All this seems completely out of touch with the world of climate science as I know it and, to be frank, simply ludicrous.” These two chapters give the reader a sad picture of climate science. Rahmstorf represents the majority of scientists who believe fervently that global warming is a grave danger. Lindzen represents the small minority who are skeptical. Their conversation is a dialogue of the deaf. The majority responds to the minority with open contempt.

In the history of science it has often happened that the majority was wrong and refused to listen to a minority that later turned out to be right. It may—or may not—be that the present is such a time. The great virtue of Nordhaus’s economic analysis is that it remains valid whether the majority view is right or wrong. Nordhaus’s optimum policy takes both possibilities into account. Zedillo in his introduction summarizes the arguments of each contributor in turn. He maintains the neutrality appropriate to a conference chairman, and gives equal space to Lindzen and to Rahmstorf. He betrays his own opinion only in a single sentence with a short parenthesis: “Climate change may not be the world’s most pressing problem (as I am convinced it is not), but it could still prove to be the most complex challenge the world has ever faced.”

And this bit from KurzweiAI.net came across the wire today:

“Consensus” on Man-Made Warming Shattering
Canada Free Press, July 19, 2008

Physics & Society, The journal of the American Physical Society, has published “Climate Sensitivity Revisited,” a debate.

“There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution,” the paper notes.

“Global mean surface temperature has not risen since 1998 and may have fallen since late 2001. The present analysis suggests that the failure of the IPCC’s models to predict this and many other climatic phenomena arises from defects in its evaluation of the three factors whose product is climate sensitivity: radiative forcing delta F; the no-feedbacks climate sensitivity parameter k; and the feedback multiplier f.

The American Physical Society itself has issued a statement: It stands by its belief that human-emitted CO2 is “changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the earth‘s climate” and notes that Physics & Society is not peer-reviewed.

Read Original Article>>