Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #255

By Ken Haapala, President,The Science and Environmental Policy Project
Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

False Precision – Hottest Year Ever? NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA-GISS) and NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) issued dramatic press releases that 2016 was the hottest year since instrument measurements began. Both organizations focus on surface data, which has far from comprehensive coverage. According to NOAA-NCEI, 2016 was 0.07ºF warmer than 2015.

David Whitehouse, Science Editor for the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), stated that “Peter Stott, Acting Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said in no uncertain terms that, ‘a particularly strong El Nino event contributed about 0.2°C [about 0.4 ºF] to the annual average for 2016.’” Thus, based on the comment by Stott, the contribution of the El Niño was about 5 times larger than the reported increase in global temperatures from 2015 to 2016. The tiny, calculated margin is hardly worthy of dramatic press releases.

The tiny, calculated margin does not account for lack of global coverage in surface measurements, questionable adjustments in the data, and limited accuracy of the instrumentation. As presented on page 9 of the 2008 NIPCC report, by 1997 the number of 5º by 5º global grid boxes with both minimum and maximum readings fell to about 100 out of more than 2500 possible.

Further, as discussed in TWTW in December 2015, Anthony Watts, et al. demonstrated at the Fall 2015 conference of the American Geophysical Union, high quality temperature stations, Class 1 and 2 compliant, show a 30-year warming trend less than what is calculated by NOAA’s U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN)for the continental US (not including Alaska and Hawaii). The nationwide warming for the compliant stations is +0.204, while the NOAA adjusted data shows a warming of +0.324. The adjusted warming trend is even greater than the warming trend for the raw data for the non-compliant stations of +0.319.

How such U.S. data adjustments influence global surface temperature data is not clear.

As discussed in the January 7 TWTW which focused on satellite temperature measurements: “The central issue is not that 2016 was slighter “hotter” than 1998, but what will happen in 2017 and beyond. Both 1998 and 2016 were strong El Niño years (Pacific Ocean warming). After the spike in 1998, the El Niño was followed by a brief La Niña cooling, but then temperatures rebounded to about 0.2ºC above the 38-year mean. Will temperatures return to the 1998 to 2015 plateau or be above or below it? Unfortunately, despite spending over $45 Billion on “climate science” since 1993, the US does not have the capability of predicting significant weather events such as El Niños and La Niñas.”

However, these weather events are important to the US. For example, by most measures the drought in central and northern California has ended. Wet and dry periods for California appear to be influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Better recognition of these events may be more important to citizens of California and the Southwest than forecasts from climate models that do not have the ability to forecast atmospheric temperatures.

WeatherBell Analytics, a private weather group, is suggesting that activity in the Indian Ocean indicates that there may be a mild El Niño in 2017. What will happen to global temperatures remains to be seen. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy – NIPCC, and Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Quote of the Week. All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. – Albert Einstein (1937 & 1950)


Number of the Week: Plus or minus 1.8ºF


Sea Level Rise: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes questionable projections of sea level rise (SLR) to 2100 based on various CO2 emissions scenarios (story lines). These have been repeated in reports by followers of the IPCC such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and various government agencies. Such reports can influence decisions by local planning boards who think they are using the best science available. For example, Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel (CSAP) reported that

“Based upon a thorough assessment of scientific data and literature on SLR, the CSAP concludes that the Tampa Bay region may experience SLR somewhere between 6 inches to 2.5 feet in 2050 and between 1 to 7 feet in 2100.”

The 1-foot rise is from extrapolation of readings from local tidal gages. The 7-foot rise is from NOAA high estimates from IPCC and USGCRP reports.

Retired NASA meteorologist Thomas Wysmuller explored the correlation between CO2 and sea level rise. He found no measurable linkage between Sea Level and CO2! “For the past 2,000 years, Sea Level rise was unchangingly linear, increasing between 1 & 1.5 mm/yr.” The maximum rise is about 6 inches per century. This has continued for the past 135 years, even though CO2 concentrations have increased by 38%.

Local conditions, such as geological and human activity are more important to determine future local sea level rise than any projections from IPCC reports. For example, the Tampa Bay region is influenced by groundwater extraction, as is the Norfolk-Newport News area of Virginia. On the other extreme, the relative sea level of the Gulf of Bothnia is falling, because the land is geologically rising in rebounding from the mass ice sheets that once covered it. The Gulf of Bothnia is between Sweden and Finland.

As Wysmuller indicates on his web site, the high-end estimates of the IPCC, etc. exceed the average century sea level rise that occurred over 7,000 years when the great ice sheets covering much of northern Eurasia and most of North America melted. The great Laurentide Ice Sheet is no more except in Greenland and small parts of Canada.

Wysmuller gave presentations on the lack of linkage between CO2 and sea level rise at the 5th Annual World Congress of Ocean in Qingdao China in November 2016 and last week at NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston (not really connected with NASA-GISS in New York on Broadway).

The findings of the IPCC and USGCRP are not supported by the empirical evidence. The bureaucratically calculated social cost of carbon using these findings is not supported as well. See links under Changing Seas.


UK Tidal Lagoons: Some officials in the UK are proposing using tidal lagoons to generate electricity from the tides. The lagoons will use barriers, walled-in structures, to hold water during high tide and release it through turbines to generate electricity as the tide falls. The reverse can be applied when the tide is rising. One such proposed structure at Swansea Bay in Wales is being reviewed for UK funding. Tides in many areas of Britain exceed those of most of the US except for the Northeast, such as the Maine coastline.

A Report by Charles Hendry, formerly a minister at the former Department of Energy and Climate Change, appears to be favorable to the Swansea Bay project. Commentator Martin Livermore of the Scientific Alliance is cautiously optimistic. The expected high initial cost can be averaged over the long, expected life of the project. The report recommends a subsidy life of 60 years. Given the corrosiveness of salt water, how long the turbines and other components will last is an issue.

Energy commentator Euan Mearns is not optimistic. Mears writes:

“I have for a long time been more positively disposed to tidal power than either wind, wave or solar. I have been told repeatedly that because high tides occur at different times around the coasts of Britain, that a geographically dispersed suite of tidal power stations may substantially mitigate for intermittency. The data presented here suggest that this is not only untrue, it is the exact opposite of the truth. Roger Andrews reached the same conclusion in May 2015.”

“In fact, UK tidal lagoons will produce more intermittent electricity than any other form of renewable generation providing four spikes separated by four periods of zero production each day. It is often claimed that the predictability of tides is a virtue. This also means we can predict with certainty that this energy source will be a disaster for the public as well as the environment.”

The quest for a reliable, affordable, non-nuclear replacement for fossil fuels continues. See links under Alternative, Green (“Clean”) Energy — Other


Number of the Week: Plus or minus 1.8ºF. The January 7 TWTW presented Roy Spencer’s estimate that 2016 atmospheric temperatures “would have had to be 0.10 C [about 0.2ºF] warmer than 1998 to be significantly different at the 95% confidence level.” The NOAA-NCEI press release had the 2016 surface temperature 0.07ºF warmer than 2015, but with no estimate of statistical significance or error in measurement. The NASA-GISS had no estimate of error in measurement.

The most widely used instrument in US airports and other locations for temperature measurement is the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS). The user’s guide for ASOS states the specifications for accuracy of the temperature measuring instruments in the form of Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) and Maximum (MAX) Error. For an ambient temperature range of -58ºF to +122 ºF the RMSE is 0.9 ºF and the Maximum Error is plus or minus 1.8 ºF.

In the press releases, the appeared error in measurement is far less than the designed error of the instruments taking the measurements. How precision in measurement is significantly enhanced by numerical calculations is a mystery. See links under Measurement Issues – Surface, p. 12 for ASOS.



Barack Obama, in Late Flourish, Steps Up Preservation

Designations of monuments in the West stirs debate between environmentalists, ranchers

By Jim Carlton, WSJ, Jan 11, 2017


SUMMARY: The reporter produces an interesting table compiled from data from the National Park Service biggest monument creators. Presidents Reagan and G.H.W. Bush created none. J. Carter created 15 monuments encompassing 56 million acres; B. Clinton created 19 monuments encompassing 5.7 million acres; G.W. Bush created 6 monuments encompassing 218.8 million acres (mostly marine sanctuaries in the Pacific); and Obama created 26 monuments encompassing 550.7 million acres.

Some monuments may be underwater (marine). Often such monuments are created without major consideration of local residents and remove resources from productive use. The Antiquities Act in 1906 is often used and the act has no legal language for rescinding a national monument designation.



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