Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #294

The Week That Was: December 2, 2017 Brought to You by www.SEPP.org

By Ken Haapala, President, The Science and Environmental Policy Project

38.5 Years of Data: Using atmospheric data collected by satellites from January 1979 to June 2017, John Christy and Richard McNider of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) estimate the maximum effect increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) may have on atmospheric temperatures – an upper bound of climate sensitivity to increasing CO2. They do this by using widely accepted statistical techniques to eliminate the effects of two well established natural types of occurrences have on atmospheric temperatures – volcanoes and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Early in the 38.5-year atmospheric temperature record several volcanoes erupted emitting small particles and liquids, aerosols, which have a cooling effect. The major volcanoes were El Chichón (Mexico, 1982-3) and Mt. Pinatubo (Philippines, 1991). With the eruption, the highest point of Mount Pinatubo went from 1,745 meters (5,725 feet) to 1,486 meters (4,875 feet). This was a loss of 259 meters (850 feet) in elevation. The volcano released an estimated 22 million tons of sulfur dioxide, which caused a haze of sulfuric acid to form world-wide.

By contrast, ENSO events have a warming effect and appear with greater frequency later in the record. No one has been able to establish a relationship between ENSO and increasing atmospheric CO2. Frequent ENSOs were dismissed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a possible cause for global warming appearing in the temperature record, because they were considered weather events, not influencing climate.

The net effect of volcanoes in the early part of the record and ENSOs in the latter part of the record was a warming trend unrelated to carbon dioxide, which Christy and McNider tried to eliminate. In their efforts, Christy and McNider used four different sets of satellite data (two from UAH, and two from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS)) and five different sets of radiosonde data from weather balloons. In addition, to better understand global temperatures, rather than one single global number, they divided the globe from 82.5 degrees South to 82.5 degrees North into 66 latitude-bands of 2.5 degrees latitude each.

Their research indicates that the atmosphere is not as sensitive to greenhouse gas warming as claimed by the IPCC and its followers. This lack of response includes both types of warming claimed in the 1979 Charney Report published by the National Academy of Sciences – the direct effect of modest warming from CO2 as established in laboratory experiments, and the indirect effect of greater warming from increased water vapor as speculated by climate modelers.

Further, the research indicates that the latest types of models used by the IPCC greatly overestimate the influence of CO2, in general. Averaging the results of these models creates nothing more than a general overestimate.

Christy-McNider work does not eliminate other natural influences on atmospheric temperatures, such as changes in total solar energy hitting the earth. But if it stands, it does eliminate two natural influences that can be seen when one examines the complete satellite temperature record. This is an important advance towards estimating the influence of greenhouse gases on atmospheric temperatures, where the greenhouse effect occurs.

The authors calculate that the warming over the 38.5-year record, after the adjustments, averages 0.096K (C) per decade. [Even when averaged to decadal trends, the precision of these numbers may not be justified by the temperature measurements.]

Secondarily, the current work supports earlier word of Christy and McNider published in 1994 using only 15 years of satellite temperature data. The earlier work also showed that the atmosphere is not warming due to increasing greenhouse gases as speculated by the IPCC, and others. At that time, they calculated a warming averaging 0.09K (°C) per decade, closely matching the current research. Several commentators focused on the 23-year time difference in the studies, claiming there is no acceleration in warming. This is correct, but to TWTW the most important item is the 38.5-year response of the atmosphere to increasing CO2, or the lack thereof. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Quote of the Week. “Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Number of the Week: 1.3 Trillion barrels and 2 quadrillion cubic feet


The Disagreement: The UK Daily News published comments by some who objected to the Christy-McNider paper. Of course, one of the objections is the fact that when minor errors in the early record were pointed out, the record was adjusted accordingly. This is how science works. Apparently, those who continue to raise this objection are perfect in everything they do.

One commentator called the Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Science, sponsored by the Korean Meteorological Service, a third-rate journal. If there is anything third-rate, it is the western journals that refuse to publish competent research that questions the official “party-line” of the IPCC, and other government entities, that claim carbon dioxide emissions are a dire threat to humanity.

In the article, the silliest comments came from “Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network” who reportedly said, “that satellite observations, while good at measuring large temperature differences in the context of weather forecasts, are ‘not reliable for small decadal trends.’… ‘Bottom line,’ Tans wrote in an email to Dailymail.com, do not trust satellite records for long term temperature trends.’

“‘The relatively large spread of modeling predictions has zero impact on the conclusion, based on solid observations and established understanding of physics and chemistry that climate change is caused by human actions and that we are just seeing the beginnings of it,’ Tans told Dailymail.com.

“‘The models will improve as we are able to test them with future observations of how climate change is actually unfolding in the next decades and centuries.’”

Mr. Tans is identified as being in the carbon cycle and greenhouse gas group of the Global Monitoring Division, the Earth System Research Laboratory of NOAA, in Boulder Colorado. Perhaps he spoke before he understood a few points: 1) the greenhouse gas effect occurs in the atmosphere; 2) the research covered the entire atmospheric temperature record to June 2017; 3) coverage by the surface temperature data is poor; 4) the “established understanding of physics and chemistry” is the key issue; 5) if models cannot predict short-term trends, there is no logical reason to assume they can predict long-term trends and 6) if the models are based on “established understanding of physics and chemistry”, there are real problems with that understanding.

According its web site, the vision of the Global Monitoring Division is: “A society that has access to and uses the best possible information on atmospheric constituents that drive climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and baseline air quality.”

Paul Homewood has other comments on the article in the Daily Mail. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, which Homewood challenges.


Surface Temperature Data: In another post, Paul Homewood presents data on surface temperatures showing how poor the coverage is, especially before 1950. Yet, the IPCC and US government entities such as NOAA, NASA-GISS continue to use this spotty data to claim the dangers of CO2 emissions. Homewood links to a paper by Matthew Menne, published in 2012 by the American Meteorological Society

As one can observe from the various global graphs on covering stations, much of the world is not covered prior to 1950, and the coverage is spotty even in 2010. In a graph showing a time series of the number of stations with maximum and minimum temperature, precipitation, snowfall, and snow depth, we see that prior to 1940, there was very few stations outside of North America reported maximum and minimum temperatures. Even in 2010, only about 25% of these stations were outside of North America. This is just one of many reasons why TWTW is not impressed by surface temperature records.

In the first of several posts on a CATO blog, Patrick Michaels and Ryan Maue advocate using a surface temperature record, which they consider is superior to all other surface temperature records – the JRA-55 dataset. It is from the Japan Meteorological Office and the term refers to a 55-year “reanalysis” of data.

Michaels and Maue describe some of the problems with the surface data, including the data from Berkeley Earth. They briefly explain that the JRA-55 dataset is obtained using electronic thermometers calibrated twice a day, when weather balloons are released, globally. Such a procedure avoids many of the problems associated with surface measurements. Interestingly, prior to the 2015-16 El Niño, the JRA-55 data indicated an average 0.10 degrees C per decade, similar to that calculated by Christy and McNider.

The future posts on this dataset should be interesting. See links under Measurement Issues – Surface.


A Veneer of Certainty: Rupert Darwall wrote an essay on the “settled science” titled “A Veneer of Certainty Stoking Climate Alarm.” It focuses on the transcript of a 2014 climate workshop held by the American Physical Society and chaired by Steve Koonin. It included three climate scientists who support the climate change orthodoxy and three climate scientists who do not—all of whom were questioned by a panel of physicists. Judith Curry participated in the workshop, and wrote the foreword to Darwall’s essay. She regards Darwall’s essay an elegant argument in support of a climate red team / blue team assessment. Darwall writes:

“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal for red/blue team assessment is a logical progression from the workshop. The hostile reaction it elicited from leading consensus advocates strongly suggests that they fear debate. Climate scientists whose mission is to advance scientific understanding have nothing to fear and much to gain. Those who seek to use climate science as a policy battering ram have good reason to feel uncomfortable at the prospect. The biggest winner from a red/blue team assessment will be the public. If people are to buy into policies that will drastically alter their way of life, they should be fully informed of the consequences and justifications. To do otherwise would represent a subversion of democracy.”


Reflecting on the workshop, in a post on Climate Etc. Curry writes:

“The thing that really clicked in my brain was this statement by Bill Collins:


We understand a lot of the physics in its basic form. We don’t understand the emergent behavior that results from it.” [Boldface in the original.]

Collins was a lead author on the Fourth and Fifth Assessment Reports of the IPCC. That sentence may summarize the entire issue, how is the atmosphere responding to increased CO2? As discussed above, it is not warming as modelers claimed. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Tale of Two Journals: Since a UK member of the climate establishment attempted to smear the Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Science, sponsored by the Korean Meteorological Service, for publishing the work of Christy and McNider, it is timely to comment on an article defending the climate establishment published in BioScience, a publication of Oxford Academic. That article attempts to justify the listing of polar bears as “threatened” under the US Endangered Species Act. The listing was based on poorly tested models on what will happen to polar bears if the Arctic undergoes significant summer ice melt.

The BioScience article is little more than an attack on Susan Crockford, who has written extensively that the polar bears are thriving, despite recent years of significant summer ice melt. They fatten up in the late winter and spring, not in the summer, and have been doing so for hundreds of thousands of years. This period includes the last interglacial, when sea levels were higher than today, and the Arctic may have been considerably warmer, with less ice.

Saving the polar bear has been a strong money-raising icon of the World Wildlife Fund. In a post on Fabius Maximus, Larry Kummer demolishes the arguments by the climate establishment. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy and Questioning the Orthodoxy.


Number of the Week: 1.3 Trillion barrels and 2 quadrillion cubic feet: Writing in the Washington Times, economist and statistician Kevin Dayaratna states that the Institute for Energy Research estimates that the US has 1.3 trillion barrels of recoverable shale oil and more than 2 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas. The exact numbers are not that important, but the extent is very important. (The 2017 BP Statistical Review put proven world oil reserves at about 1.7 trillion barrels.)

In the 1970s, using “state-of-the-art” computer models, in the “Limits of Growth”, the Club of Rome claimed that the world would run out of oil and other resources about the end of the 20th century. What subsequently became the Department of Energy created “state-of-the-art” computer models forecasting that the US would run out of natural gas and oil about the same time.

[Prior to about 1984, few people realized that computer models can be subject to the mathematics of “Chaos,” and the predictions diverge when carried forward many years — all due to tiny numerical differences in the initial conditions.]

Unfortunately, President Carter believed these forecasts, and US government policy was based on these false beliefs. The models included assumptions that lacked rigorous testing.

These mistakes exemplify why government policies should not be based on models that lack rigorous testing – testing which the IPCC models have never undergone.


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