Saturday, September 20, 2014

New paper describes another potential solar amplification mechanism

A new paper published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events, which have been linked to solar activity and may act as a solar amplification mechanism, can have significant effects on weather/climate of the lower atmosphere [troposphere] via effects on convection, convective cloud formation, and water vapor feedback. 

According to the authors,
"It is generally believed that such changes in the stratosphere do not affect the troposphere, due to the difference in air density between the two" and "the influence from above (i.e., from the stratosphere) is generally neglected"
but the authors instead find this 'settled' 'consensus' belief to be incorrect and that changes in the stratosphere (some of which relate to solar activity) can have profound influences on the weather/climate of the troposphere via effects on cloud formation and deep convection. 

Sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events have also been linked to changes in the the quasi-biennial oscillation [QBO], and the QBO is also linked to changes in solar activity. According to the authors, the "Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) has a significant influence on tropical convective activity" similar to that found in this paper, although they did not find a direct link between the MJO and sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events. The MJO has also been linked to solar activity.

The paper joins many others describing potential solar amplification mechanisms and illustrates the complexity of determining indirect but large-scale effects from tiny changes in solar activity on weather and climate.

Sudden Stratospheric Warming Split the Polar Vortex in Two



Weather forecasting in tropical regions is challenging due to the unstable nature of
the atmosphere there and its sensitivity to various extratropical disturbances. The impact
of the extratropical circulation on the tropics, such as the lateral propagation of
tropospheric Rossby waves, has been studied previously (e.g., Kiladis and Weickmann,
1992; Funatsu and Waugh, 2008). The influence from above (i.e., from the
stratosphere) is generally neglected, but under certain circumstances, such as during
a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event, stratospheric meridional circulation
change can modify convective activity as will be shown later.

Early satellite measurements showed that enhanced poleward eddy heat fluxes in
the extratropical stratosphere induce tropical cooling through changes in the mean
meridional circulation (Fritz and Soules, 1970; Plumb and Eluszkiewicz, 1999; Randel
et al., 2002). It is generally believed that such changes in the stratosphere do not
affect the troposphere, due to the difference in air density between the two. Indeed,
tropical temperature change induced by the intraseasonal mean meridional circulation
is apparent 5 only in the layer around 70 hPa and above (Ueyama et al., 2013).
However, this does not imply that the stratospheric meridional circulation has no
impact on the atmosphere below the 70 hPa level. A possible impact of stratospheric
meridional circulation on cumulus heating has been suggested by Thuburn and Craig
(2000) in a simplified general circulation model experiment. Stratospheric upwelling
effects on tropical convection is also confirmed by a more realistic general circulation
model forecast study (Kodera et al., 2011a). These models make use of cumulus
parameterization to account for the effect of convection into large scale circulation.
Therefore, model sensitivity should be dependent on the parameterization [fudge factor] used. 
Stratospheric effect on tropical convection is also found in non-hydrostatic models that treat
the convection explicitly.

Although it is not fully understood yet how stability influences anvil cloud-top height,
Chae and Sherwood (2010) showed with observational data and a regional nonhydrostatic
model experiment that the variation of static stability near the tropopause
due to a change in the stratospheric upwelling, influences cloud height even the cloud
height peaks only near 12 km (or 200 hPa). Using a global non-hydrostatic model simulation,
Eguchi et al. (2014) also found that increased tropical upwelling due to a SSW
event reduces the static stability in the upper Tropical Tropopause layer (TTL), which
leads to an increase of deep convective activity in the troposphere.
Temperature response to stratospheric upwelling becomes unclear in the region
lower than the tropopause because clouds form in response to adiabatic cooling associated
with upwelling. Stratospheric temperature decrease, but minimal temperature
change in the TTL, results in a decrease in static stability in the upper TTL (Li and
Thompson, 2013). In the regions where deep convective clouds are frequent, stratospheric
influence further penetrates deeper in the troposphere (Eguchi and Kodera,
2010; Kodera et al., 2011b). Once the distribution of convective clouds is modified,
this effect can be amplified within the troposphere through a feedback involving water
vapour transport (Eguchi and Kodera, 2007).

Here, we focus on the role of overshooting and deep convective clouds in
stratosphere–troposphere dynamical coupling in the tropics, and present case studies
of two of the recent largest SSW events in January 2009 and January 2010 (Harada
et al., 2010; Ayarzagüena et al., 2011). It should be noted, however, that not all major
SSW events necessarily have large tropical impacts, as this depends on the latitude of
the wave breaking (Taguchi, 2011).

Summary and discussion

The results of our analysis of changes in tropical circulation associated with large
SSWs [Stratospheric Sudden Warmings] during January 2009 and January 2010 can be
summarized as follows.

Enhanced stratospheric wave activity produced a cooling in the tropical stratosphere
through a strengthening of the BD circulation. This influence penetrated downward into
the troposphere through a change in the cloud formation. Among the variables representing
different convective activity, COV shows the highest correlation with the lower
stratospheric vertical velocity. This result is reasonable because the COV clouds can
penetrate above the tropopause and interact directly with the stratospheric circulation.
The reason of low correlation of the OLR [outgoing longwave radiation] with stratospheric
upwelling originates from the fact that the tropospheric variation lags by about a week (Fig. 1).

The results obtained from our two case studies are consistent with earlier results
from an independent composite analysis of the winters between 1979 and 2001
(Kodera, 2006), which revealed that the tropospheric convective activity in the equatorial
SH is enhanced following the stratospheric equatorial upwelling induced by upward
propagation of planetary waves during the NH winter.

As for a process which relates tropical stratospheric upwelling and the tropospheric
convective activity, investigation between the diabatic heating in the TTL and the 
stratospheric vertical velocity is crucial. Direct measurement of such quantities are difficult,
but a global non-hydrostatic model study (Eguchi et al., 2014) confirmed the relationship
suggested in the present result.

The characteristics of the convective activity changed following the stratospheric
event. When stratospheric upwelling was suppressed before onset of the event, convection
tended to cluster around the equatorial Maritime Continent or western Pacific
region depending on the phase of ENSO. When the stratospheric upwelling increased,
convection expanded over a wide range of longitudes in the tropical summer hemisphere.
In other words, tropical circulation changed from a more Walker like (east–
west) configuration to a more Hadley (north–south) type.

The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) (Madden and Julian, 1994) has a significant
influence on tropical convective activity. One would ask whether or not the present
phenomenon is associated with the MJO. The features of the MJO in January 2009
and 2010 differed significantly as can be seen in Fig. 5. A convective centre remained
stationary over the Maritime Continent prior to the onset of the 2009 stratospheric
event, after which an eastward propagation was initiated from the Indian Ocean. In
contrast, an eastward propagating convective centre became almost stationary over
the western Pacific after the onset in January 2010. In spite of the differences in the
MJO in January 2009 and 2010, circulation changes related to the stratospheric events
showed similar features during both winters, suggesting that the present phenomenon
is independent of the MJO.

Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 14, 23745-23761, 2014

K. Kodera1,2, B. M. Funatsu3,4, C. Claud4, and N. Eguchi5
1Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
2Climate and Ecosystems Dynamics Division, Mie University, Tsu, Japan
3LETG-Rennes COSTEL, Université Rennes 2, Rennes, France
4Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France
5Research Institute for Applied Mechanics, Kyushu University, Kasuga, Japan

Abstract. This paper investigates the role of deep convection and overshooting convective clouds in stratosphere–troposphere dynamical coupling in the tropics during two large major stratospheric sudden warming events in January 2009 and January 2010. During both events, convective activity and precipitation increased in the equatorial Southern Hemisphere as a result of a strengthening of the Brewer–Dobson circulation induced by enhanced stratospheric planetary wave activity. Correlation coefficients between variables related to the convective activity and the vertical velocity were calculated to identify the processes connecting stratospheric variability to the troposphere. Convective overshooting clouds showed a direct relationship to lower stratospheric upwelling at around 70–50 hPa. As the tropospheric circulation change lags behind that of the stratosphere, outgoing longwave radiation shows almost no simultaneous correlation with the stratospheric upwelling. This result suggests that the stratospheric circulation change first penetrates into the troposphere through the modulation of deep convective activity.

Friday, September 19, 2014

WSJ Op-Ed: Climate Science Is Not Settled. We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy

Physicist Dr. Steven Koonin, who is the Chairman of the American Physical Society [APS] subcommittee in charge of revising the APS 2007 Climate Change Statement, reveals in this Wall Street Journal op-ed his skepticism of the so-called "settled" climate "consensus," and notes the fundamental unanswered problems of climate sensitivity to CO2, feedbacks, the many problems inherent in climate models, the lack of understanding and "several dozen" excuses for the 18+ year "pause" of global warming, the missing AGW 'hot spot', lack of acceleration of sea level rise [which means there is no evidence of a man-made influence on sea levels], the IPCC's willful omission of these problems in the Summary for Policymakers, and other fundamental issues regarding the fictitious so-called "settled" "consensus."

Dr. Koonin also served as Undersecretary for Science in the US Department of Energy during President Barack Obama’s first term.

The forthcoming revision of the APS Climate Change Statement will likely reflect Chairman Koonin's skeptical views, which has some rabid warmists very worried that "the APS has been arrogantly negligent in its handling of the coming Climate Change position statement," that Chairman Dr. Koonin has "hit the fan," and "this sucks."

Physicist Dr. Steven Koonin

Climate Science Is Not Settled

We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy, writes leading scientist Steven E. Koonin

Sept. 19, 2014 12:19 p.m. ET       THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The crucial scientific question for policy isn't whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will. Mitch Dobrowner

The idea that "Climate science is settled" runs through today's popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.

My training as a computational physicist—together with a 40-year career of scientific research, advising and management in academia, government and the private sector—has afforded me an extended, up-close perspective on climate science. Detailed technical discussions during the past year with leading climate scientists have given me an even better sense of what we know, and don't know, about climate. I have come to appreciate the daunting scientific challenge of answering the questions that policy makers and the public are asking.

The crucial scientific question for policy isn't whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will. Geological and historical records show the occurrence of major climate shifts, sometimes over only a few decades. We know, for instance, that during the 20th century the Earth's global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself.

Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, "How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?" Answers to that question at the global and regional levels, as well as to equally complex questions of how ecosystems and human activities will be affected, should inform our choices about energy and infrastructure.

But—here's the catch—those questions are the hardest ones to answer. They challenge, in a fundamental way, what science can tell us about future climates.

Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere's natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.

A second challenge to "knowing" future climate is today's poor understanding of the oceans. The oceans, which change over decades and centuries, hold most of the climate's heat and strongly influence the atmosphere. Unfortunately, precise, comprehensive observations of the oceans are available only for the past few decades; the reliable record is still far too short to adequately understand how the oceans will change and how that will affect climate.

A third fundamental challenge arises from feedbacks that can dramatically amplify or mute the climate's response to human and natural influences. One important feedback, which is thought to approximately double the direct heating effect of carbon dioxide, involves water vapor, clouds and temperature.

Scientists measure the sea level of the Ross Sea in Antarctica. National Geographic/Getty Images

But feedbacks are uncertain. They depend on the details of processes such as evaporation and the flow of radiation through clouds. They cannot be determined confidently from the basic laws of physics and chemistry, so they must be verified by precise, detailed observations that are, in many cases, not yet available.

Beyond these observational challenges are those posed by the complex computer models used to project future climate. These massive programs attempt to describe the dynamics and interactions of the various components of the Earth system—the atmosphere, the oceans, the land, the ice and the biosphere of living things. While some parts of the models rely on well-tested physical laws, other parts involve technically informed estimation. Computer modeling of complex systems is as much an art as a science.

For instance, global climate models describe the Earth on a grid that is currently limited by computer capabilities to a resolution of no finer than 60 miles. (The distance from New York City to Washington, D.C., is thus covered by only four grid cells.) But processes such as cloud formation, turbulence and rain all happen on much smaller scales. These critical processes then appear in the model only through adjustable assumptions that specify, for example, how the average cloud cover depends on a grid box's average temperature and humidity. In a given model, dozens of such assumptions must be adjusted ("tuned," in the jargon of modelers) to reproduce both current observations and imperfectly known historical records.

We often hear that there is a "scientific consensus" about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn't a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences. Since 1990, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has periodically surveyed the state of climate science. Each successive report from that endeavor, with contributions from thousands of scientists around the world, has come to be seen as the definitive assessment of climate science at the time of its issue.

There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. Pictured, an estuary in Patgonia.

For the latest IPCC report (September 2013), its Working Group I, which focuses on physical science, uses an ensemble of some 55 different models. Although most of these models are tuned to reproduce the gross features of the Earth's climate, the marked differences in their details and projections reflect all of the limitations that I have described. For example:

• The models differ in their descriptions of the past century's global average surface temperature by more than three times the entire warming recorded during that time. Such mismatches are also present in many other basic climate factors, including rainfall, which is fundamental to the atmosphere's energy balance. As a result, the models give widely varying descriptions of the climate's inner workings. Since they disagree so markedly, no more than one of them can be right.

• Although the Earth's average surface temperature rose sharply by 0.9 degree Fahrenheit during the last quarter of the 20th century, it has increased much more slowly for the past 16 years, even as the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by some 25%. This surprising fact demonstrates directly that natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity.

Yet the models famously fail to capture this slowing in the temperature rise. Several dozen different explanations for this failure have been offered, with ocean variability most likely playing a major role. But the whole episode continues to highlight the limits of our modeling.

• The models roughly describe the shrinking extent of Arctic sea ice observed over the past two decades, but they fail to describe the comparable growth of Antarctic sea ice, which is now at a record high.

• The models predict that the lower atmosphere in the tropics will absorb much of the heat of the warming atmosphere. But that "hot spot" has not been confidently observed, casting doubt on our understanding of the crucial feedback of water vapor on temperature.

• Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.

• A crucial measure of our knowledge of feedbacks is climate sensitivity—that is, the warming induced by a hypothetical doubling of carbon-dioxide concentration. Today's best estimate of the sensitivity (between 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars.

These and many other open questions are in fact described in the IPCC research reports, although a detailed and knowledgeable reading is sometimes required to discern them. They are not "minor" issues to be "cleaned up" by further research. Rather, they are deficiencies that erode confidence in the computer projections. Work to resolve these shortcomings in climate models should be among the top priorities for climate research.

Yet a public official reading only the IPCC's "Summary for Policy Makers" would gain little sense of the extent or implications of these deficiencies. These are fundamental challenges to our understanding of human impacts on the climate, and they should not be dismissed with the mantra that "climate science is settled."

While the past two decades have seen progress in climate science, the field is not yet mature enough to usefully answer the difficult and important questions being asked of it. This decidedly unsettled state highlights what should be obvious: Understanding climate, at the level of detail relevant to human influences, is a very, very difficult problem.

We can and should take steps to make climate projections more useful over time. An international commitment to a sustained global climate observation system would generate an ever-lengthening record of more precise observations. And increasingly powerful computers can allow a better understanding of the uncertainties in our models, finer model grids and more sophisticated descriptions of the processes that occur within them. The science is urgent, since we could be caught flat-footed if our understanding does not improve more rapidly than the climate itself changes.

A transparent rigor would also be a welcome development, especially given the momentous political and policy decisions at stake. That could be supported by regular, independent, "red team" reviews to stress-test and challenge the projections by focusing on their deficiencies and uncertainties; that would certainly be the best practice of the scientific method. But because the natural climate changes over decades, it will take many years to get the data needed to confidently isolate and quantify the effects of human influences.

Policy makers and the public may wish for the comfort of certainty in their climate science. But I fear that rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is "settled" (or is a "hoax") demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on. It should not be confined to hushed sidebar conversations at academic conferences.

Society's choices in the years ahead will necessarily be based on uncertain knowledge of future climates. That uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction. There is well-justified prudence in accelerating the development of low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.

But climate strategies beyond such "no regrets" efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity.

Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about "believing" or "denying" the science. Despite the statements of numerous scientific societies, the scientific community cannot claim any special expertise in addressing issues related to humanity's deepest goals and values. The political and diplomatic spheres are best suited to debating and resolving such questions, and misrepresenting the current state of climate science does nothing to advance that effort.

Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.

Dr. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama's first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP, where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.

New paper: Dubious claims about California ocean habitat derived from tree-rings

Headlines today proclaim "Nearly 600 Years of Tree Rings Show Altered Ocean Habitat" due to an alleged weakening of the California Pacific Ocean coastal upwelling current, based on a paper published in Science.

Examination of the assumptions and data from the paper, however, illustrates how alarming claims in the press can be manufactured from very little scientific evidence. 

Questionable claims include:

1. Assuming the California Pacific Ocean upwelling current strength and variability are closely correlated to tree-rings, which is the proxy used, rather than ocean sediments or an actual ocean proxy.

2. Claiming [in article below the abstract] that the California Pacific Ocean upwelling current strength has weakened in the latter half of the 20th century, while the data below shows no such trend in the tree-ring proxy.

3. Claiming that the California Pacific Ocean upwelling current strength has become more variable because the moisy tree-ring proxy record has a few extra one-year-long dips as indicated by red arrows at the top of the graph below. 

a) these could simply be due to random variation in the very noisy record

b) tree-rings can be related to many factors other than precipitation and temperature, including cloud cover/cosmic rays, solar activity, CO2 plant food levels, ocean & atmospheric oscillations, etc., thus the alleged "increased variability" may not be related to upwelling current changes. 

c) the authors find these dips correlated to El Ninos, which were not exceptionally strong or variable during the latter 20th century, and have become less frequent and weaker since the beginning of the 21st century.

Thus, the paper is based upon multiple questionable assumptions that do not warrant the claims of an alarming trend in marine productivity due to an alleged weakening of coastal upwelling along the California coast.

Tree-ring data from the paper

Editor's Summary:

Rings of ocean upwelling

Coastal upwelling along the coast of California has become more variable than during nearly any period in the past 600 years. Black et al. used a 576-year tree ring record to construct a record of wintertime climate along the California coast. Because wintertime climate depends heavily on coastal upwelling, they were able to determine that upwelling variability has increased more over the past 60 years than for all but two intervals during that time. The apparent causes of the recent trend appear to be unique, resulting in reduced marine productivity and negative impacts on fish, seabirds, and mammals.

Science 19 September 2014:
Vol. 345 no. 6203 pp. 1498-1502
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253209

Six centuries of variability and extremes in a coupled marine-terrestrial ecosystem

Bryan A. Black, et al

Reported trends in the mean and variability of coastal upwelling in eastern boundary currents have raised concerns about the future of these highly productive and biodiverse marine ecosystems. However, the instrumental records on which these estimates are based are insufficiently long to determine whether such trends exceed preindustrial limits. In the California Current, a 576-year reconstruction of climate variables associated with winter upwelling indicates that variability increased over the latter 20th century to levels equaled only twice during the past 600 years. This modern trend in variance may be unique, because it appears to be driven by an unprecedented succession of extreme, downwelling-favorable, winter climate conditions that profoundly reduce productivity for marine predators of commercial and conservation interest.

Nearly 600 Years of Tree Rings Show Altered Ocean Habitat

By Kelly Dickerson, Staff Writer | September 18, 2014 02:35pm ET

Ocean currents that deliver important nutrients to shallow, coastal waters have become weaker and more variable over the last half-century, which could affect fish and other marine animals that nourish themselves in these nutrient-rich waters, according to a new study.

Data records spanning almost 600 years have shown that the strength of coastal upwelling off the west coast of North America has become more variable since 1950. Researchers pieced together this long-term look at ocean trends from an unlikely source: tree rings.

Coastal upwelling happens when winter winds lift deep, nutrient-rich waters up to the shallow layers of the sea. These nutrients fuel phytoplankton growth in the sunlit surface waters. Since 1950, California has experienced more winters with weak coastal upwelling than in the last five centuries. Researchers found that years with weak upwelling were associated with slower growth in fish populations and lower reproduction rates for seabirds, the researchers said.

But the weather pattern that causes the coastal upwelling also blocks storms from coming ashore. This causes drought and stunts the growth of trees. Blue oak trees along the California coast are particularly sensitive to winter precipitation, Bryan Black, assistant professor of marine science at the University of Texas at Austin, told Live Science.

Trees grow a new ring every year. By looking at a cross-section cut through the bark of a tree, scientists can count up the rings and determine a tree's age. Differences in the ring sizes reveal good seasons and bad seasons, with a thick ring signaling that the tree had a good growing season. The researchers found an inverse relationship between tree growth and the well-being of the marine ecosystem, Black explained.

"The winters we see robust growth in the trees, we see poor growth in the marine ecosystem," Black said.

Coastal upwelling happens during the winter when a strong, high-pressure weather system develops along the west coast of the continent. The system spins clockwise and brings in winds from the north. That spin combines with the rotation of the Earth to move the waters off shore and stir up clouds of nutrients. Phytoplankton at the surface rely on this seasonal influx of nutrients. These organisms are the backbone of the marine ecosystem and support huge populations of fish and seabirds.

Some variation in coastal upwelling from year to year is normal, but most direct data records don't go back more than 70 years. This makes it difficult for marine scientists to spot any long-term trends. By studying tree-ring patterns, however, researchers can piece together a much longer record of how coastal upwelling has changed.
To determine how upwelling influenced marine life, the researchers used data on yearly fish population growth since the 1940s, along with data on seabird egg laying and the survival of baby seabirds since the 1970s. By comparing the tree-ring data to the fish and seabird statistics, the researchers found that years with weak upwelling and lots of tree growth correlated with years when fish and seabird populations suffered.

Based on tree ring measurements taken by David Stahle, a tree ring expert and professor of geoscience at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the team found that four out of the 10 weakest upwelling years in the past 600 years occurred after 1950. Seven out of 10 weakest years have happened since 1850 [the end of the Little Ice Age].

While the data show there are years in which bird and fish populations don't fare well, "it's not necessarily indicative of a long-term decline," Black said, since the bird and fish populations usually bounce back within a couple years after a bad season.
Black said it's unclear if climate change is causing the recent high variation in coastal upwelling.

"California climate can be very extreme," Black said. "The 20th century is particularly variable in the context of the last few centuries, but it's not necessarily unique to history."

The upwelling does appear to be linked to the weather pattern El Niño, and climate records have shown El Niño to be unusually variable over the past century. [not according to many other papers - El Nino's were much more intense & variable in the past]. Black said the area has certainly entered a highly variable time, but even a 600-year data record doesn't come close to capturing the whole picture. The recent variation could be part of a larger cycle that scientists can look back far enough to see.

The researchers hope to use [falsified] climate models to predict future variability in coastal upwelling. Details of the study were published online today (Sept. 18) in the journal Science.

New paper finds global sea levels rose < 7 inches during 20th century, with no acceleration

A paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans finds global sea level rise during the 20th century was only 1.77 mm/yr or 6.96 inches per century, and with no statistically significant acceleration.

The paper joins many other papers finding global sea level rise of less than seven inches per century, with no acceleration. In fact, at least two recent papers find significant decelerations of sea level rise during the 21st century "pause" in global warming, a deceleration of 31% since 2002 and deceleration of 44% since 2004 to less than 7 inches per century. There is no evidence of an acceleration of sea level rise, and therefore no evidence of any effect of mankind on sea levels. Sea level rise is primarily a local phenomenon related to land subsidence, not CO2 levels. 

No statistically significant acceleration. Source from a prior paper of the authors below

Reconstructed sea level trends. Note in bottom graph, sea levels dropped along much of the west coast of North and South America between 1955-2009. Source from a prior paper of the authors below

Global and regional sea level change during the 20th century

Manfred Wenzel and Jens Schröter

Sea level variations prior to the launch of satellite altimeters are estimated by analysing historic tide gauge records. Recently, a number of groups have reconstructed sea level by applying EOF techniques to fill missing observations. We complement this study with alternative methods. In a first step gaps in 178 records of sea level change are filled using the pattern recognition capabilities of artificial neural networks. Afterwards satellite altimetry is used to extrapolate local sea level change to global fields. Patterns of sea level change are compared to prior studies. Global mean sea level change since 1900 is found to be 1.77 ± 0.38 mm year−1 on average. Local trends are essentially positive with the highest values found in the western tropical Pacific and in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar where it reaches about +6 mm year−1. Regions with negative trends are spotty with a minimum value of about −2 mm year−1 south of the Aleutian Islands. Although the acceleration found for the global mean, +0.0042 ± 0.0092 mm year−2, is not significant, local values range from −0.1 mm year−2 in the central Indian Ocean to +0.1 mm year−2 in the western tropical Pacific and east of Japan. These extrema are associated with patterns of sea level change that differ significantly from the first half of the analyzed period (i.e. 1900 to 1950) to the second half (1950 to 2000). We take this as an indication of long period oceanic processes that are superimposed to the general sea level rise.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Arctic & Antarctic sea ice extent demonstrates the bipolar seesaw theory of climate

Sunshine Hours has posted today a "mirror graph" of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice which illustrates the bipolar seesaw theory of abrupt climate change in action. It is well known that glaciation and deglaciation of the North and South poles are not synchronous and frequently out of phase or in opposite phases, similar to the "mirror graph" below of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice trends since 1979. This is entirely consistent with Milankovitch theory, the 1000-1500 year Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation [AMOC] and other shorter-term ocean oscillations [e.g. the AMO], and the 1st law of thermodynamics which allows for relatively constant solar energy input to be shifted in location while conserving energy. 

Further, the seesaw theory of abrupt climate change is far more plausible than the ludicrous, stretched-thin theory that global warming is causing record-high levels of Antarctic sea ice and more record-high levels of snow and cold. In fact, climate models robustly predicted the opposite of what has caused the recent record-cold US weather.
Schematic of the bipolar seesaw. North Atlantic temperature changes are mirrored by equal amplitude South Atlantic changes of opposite sign. Southern Ocean temperatures are relaxed toward this South Atlantic temperature. Source: Modeling the Bipolar Seesaw.
The seesaw theory of climate is also entirely consistent with conservation of energy, unlike Trenberth's theory of "missing heat" from man-made CO2 "hidden" somewhere within in the climate system. 

Seesaw theory in action:

Arctic/Antarctic Mirror Graph Day 260

For those who say Antarctic Sea Ice Extent increases are small and have nothing in common with Arctic losses:
Mirror Sea Ice Extent for Day 260 From 1978

Sunday, March 30, 2014

New paper supports the bipolar seesaw theory of abrupt climate change
A paper published today in Nature finds "clear" evidence of a "hydrologic seesaw in which latitudinal migrations of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) produce simultaneous wetting (increased precipitation) in one hemisphere and drying in the other." According to the authors, these shifts can have "serious effects on temperate climate systems. Furthermore, our result implies that insolation-driven ITCZ dynamics may provoke water vapour and vegetation feedbacks in northern mid-latitude regions and could have regulated global climate conditions throughout the late Quaternary ice age cycles."

The paper provides additional, "clear" evidence supporting the "bipolar seesaw theory of abrupt climate change." "Theoretical models and observational data have long suggested that the Northern and Southern Hemisphere climates behave in a seesaw-like fashion: when the northern ocean warms, the southern ocean cools and vice versa." 

Glacials and interglacials on the northern and southern hemisphere somehow do not seem to correspond. This has led to a ‘thermal bipolar seesaw theory,’ whereby an off-mode in the thermohaline circulation leads to an ice age in Europe, but excess heat storage down south.
Given that ice cores show a lag between Arctic and Antarctic climate changes of 300-1500 years, it begs the question given that Antarctic sea ice is at record highs and Arctic sea ice has declined during the satellite era, whether this may represent part of a natural seesaw pattern, shifting heat via the thermohaline circulation from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere and explaining why less warming has been observed in the Southern Hemisphere since 1850.

Mid-latitude interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw over the past 550,000 years

Nature advance online publication 30 March 2014. doi:10.1038/nature13076

Authors: Kyoung-nam Jo, Kyung Sik Woo, Sangheon Yi, Dong Yoon Yang, Hyoun Soo Lim, Yongjin Wang, Hai Cheng & R. Lawrence Edwards

An interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw—in which latitudinal migrations of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) produce simultaneous wetting (increased precipitation) in one hemisphere and drying in the other—has been discovered in some tropical and subtropical regions. For instance, Chinese and Brazilian subtropical speleothem (cave formations such as stalactites and stalagmites) records show opposite trends in time series of oxygen isotopes (a proxy for precipitation variability) at millennial to orbital timescales, suggesting that hydrologic cycles were antiphased in the northerly versus southerly subtropics. This tropical to subtropical hydrologic phenomenon is likely to be an initial and important climatic response to orbital forcing. The impacts of such an interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw on higher-latitude regions and the global climate system, however, are unknown. Here we show that the antiphasing seen in the tropical records is also present in both hemispheres of the mid-latitude western Pacific Ocean. Our results are based on a new 550,000-year record of the growth frequency of speleothems from the Korean peninsula, which we compare to Southern Hemisphere equivalents. The Korean data are discontinuous and derived from 24 separate speleothems, but still allow the identification of periods of peak speleothem growth and, thus, precipitation. The clear hemispheric antiphasing indicates that the sphere of influence of the interhemispheric hydrologic seesaw over the past 550,000 years extended at least to the mid-latitudes, such as northeast Asia, and that orbital-timescale ITCZ shifts can haveserious effects on temperate climate systems. Furthermore, our result implies that insolation-driven ITCZ dynamics may provoke water vapour and vegetation feedbacks in northern mid-latitude regions and could have regulated global climate conditions throughout the late Quaternary ice age cycles.


The north–south climate seesaw [Nature 2009]

Theoretical models and observational data have long suggested that the Northern and Southern Hemisphere climates behave in a seesaw-like fashion: when the northern ocean warms, the southern ocean cools and vice versa. So far, however, the data have indicated a much muted response in Antarctic climate compared to the Arctic. An analysis of new records from an ocean core from the South Atlantic — including planktonic foraminifera assemblages, Mg/Ca ratios, temperature and ocean productivity data — shows that the South Atlantic cooled essentially instantaneously with the warming in the North Atlantic during the last deglaciation. This first concrete evidence of an immediate seesaw connection also provides a link between the rapid warming in the North Atlantic and the more gradual Antarctic response, and suggests a mechanism potentially driving rapid Northern Hemisphere deglaciation.

NEWS AND VIEWSClimate change: Southern see-saw seen

The bipolar see-saw hypothesis provides an explanation for why temperature shifts in the two hemispheres were out of phase at certain times. The hypothesis has now passed a test of one of its predictions.
Jeffrey P. Severinghaus

ARTICLEInterhemispheric Atlantic seesaw response during the last deglaciation

Stephen Barker, Paula Diz, Maryline J. Vautravers, Jennifer Pike, Gregor Knorr, Ian R. Hall & Wallace S. Broecker

Dr. Richard Lindzen: Global warming/climate change is extreme in terms of special interests believing in catastrophe despite lack of evidence

Reflections on Rapid Response to Unjustified Climate Alarm

The Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science today kicks off its rapid response center that will identify and correct inappropriate and generally bizarre claims on behalf of climate alarm. I wish them luck in this worthy enterprise, but more will surely be needed to deal with this issue.
To be sure, there is an important role for such a center. It is not to convince the ‘believers.’ Nor do I think that there is any longer a significant body of sincere and intelligent individuals who are simply trying to assess the evidence. As far as I can tell, the issue has largely polarized that relatively small portion of the population that has chosen to care about the issue. The remainder quite reasonably have chosen to remain outside the polarization. Thus the purpose of a rapid response Center will be to reassure those who realize that this is a fishy issue, that there remain scientists who are still concerned with the integrity of science. There is also a crucial role in informing those who wish to avoid the conflict as to what is at stake. While these are important functions, there are other issues that I feel a think tank ought to consider. Moreover, there is a danger that rapid response to trivial claims lends unwarranted seriousness to these claims. 
Climate alarm belongs to a class of issues characterized by a claim for which there is no evidence, that nonetheless appeals strongly to one or more interests or prejudices. Once the issue is adopted, evidence becomes irrelevant. Instead, the believer sees what he believes. Anything can serve as a supporting omen. Three very different previous examples come to mind (though there are many more examples that could be cited): Malthus’ theory of overpopulation, social Darwinism and the Dreyfus Affair. Although each of these issues engendered opposition, only the Dreyfus Affair led to widespread societal polarization. More commonly, only the ‘believers’ are sufficiently driven to form a movement. We will briefly review these examples (though each has been subject to book length analyses), but the issue of climate alarm is somewhat special in that it appeals to a sizeable number of interests, and has strong claims on the scientific community. It also has the potential to cause exceptional harm to an unprecedented number of people. This has led to persistent opposition amidst widespread lack of interest. However, all these issues are characterized by profound immorality pretending to virtue. 
Malthus’ peculiar theory wherein the claimed linear growth of food loses out to the exponential growth of population has maintained continuous popularity in the faculty lounge for about two centuries. It is, therefore, worth noting that Malthus had no evidence that food supply would increase only linearly. Nor did he have evidence for exponential population growth. Malthus initially went so far as to estimate an e-folding time for population of 25 years, based on the population of North America, and ignoring the role of immigration. Although Malthus, himself, eventually acknowledged these problems, the enthusiasm for his anti-human conclusions remains strong. Neither the green revolution nor the diminution of famine amidst increasing population dissuades them. The fact that Chad is poor and the Netherlands is rich never strikes the believer as odd. Apparently, the growth of cities, the movement of workers from the farm to the city, and, for much of the developed world, immigration, all served to convince people of means that there were too many other people around, and Malthusian theory formed a framework for something they were (and are) eager to believe.
Social Darwinism and its corollary, eugenics, represents another case of a theory without support that was widely accepted with, at times, horrid consequences. Darwin’s “The Origin of the Species” had immense influence. It presented a theory whereby natural selection and what were essentially mutations could account for biological evolution. While it offered valuable insights into the development of finch beaks, it was hardly meant to describe societal evolution. Nevertheless, the notion of ‘survival of the fittest’ applied to society had obvious appeal to those who perceived themselves to be the fittest and who naturally regarded the application as scientifically justified. It was a small step to eugenics which was the counterpart of modern day environmentalism during the first third of the twentieth century, and was supported by all the ‘best’ people (including George Bernard Shaw, Margaret Sanger, Alexander Graham Bell, and Theodore Roosevelt) despite the fact that there actually was a mathematical theorem (the Hardy-Weinberg Theorem) that showed that the impact of eugenics on the gene pool would be negligible. Needless to add, mathematics is of no importance to the ‘best’ people. Malthusian population fears continue to the present, but eugenics was rendered unfashionable by the obvious implications presented by the Nazis.
While science is a common vehicle for such misuse, the Dreyfus Affair shows that other vehicles exist. In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was accused of passing secret French military information to the Germans. There was, in fact, no evidence to support this accusation. Nevertheless, there was again a strong desire on the part of many people in France to believe the accusation. To be sure, there was the endemic anti-Semitism in France. However, there was also the humiliation of France’s loss in the Franco-Prussian War, and the desire to blame such loss not on the army, but on the perfidy of a group that some considered to be ‘outside’. (The Nazis’ ‘stab in the back’ theory for the German loss in WW1 represents a similar instinct). Dreyfus was tried (several times) and sentenced to Devil’s Island. Prominent Frenchmen (Emile Zola in particular) , incensed by the obvious injustice campaigned for Dreyfus, and the issue literally split France in half (partly because the conflict between Catholics and Secularists also entered the Affair). Dreyfus was eventually exonerated after the identification of the actual spy became undeniable.
The current issue of global warming/climate change is extreme in terms of the number of special interests that opportunistically have strong interests in believing in the claims of catastrophe despite the lack of evidence. In no particular order, there are the leftist economists for whom global warming represents a market failure, there are the UN apparatchiks for whom global warming is the route to global governance, there are third world dictators who see guilt over global warming as providing a convenient claim on aid (ie, the transfer of wealth from the poor in rich countries to the wealthy in poor countries), there are the environmental activists who love any issue that has the capacity to frighten the gullible into making hefty contributions to their numerous NGOs, there are the crony capitalists who see the opportunity to cash in on the immense sums being made available for ‘sustainable’ energy, there are the government regulators for whom the control of a natural product of breathing is a dream come true, there are newly minted billionaires who find the issue of ‘saving the planet’ appropriately suitable to their grandiose pretensions, etc., etc. Strange as it may seem, even the fossil fuel industry is generally willing to go along. After all, they realize better than most, that there is no current replacement for fossil fuels. The closest possibilities, nuclear and hydro, are despised by the environmentalists. As long as fossil fuel companies have a level playing field, and can pass expenses to the consumers, they are satisfied. Given the nature of corporate overhead, the latter can even form a profit center. The situation within science itself is equally grim. Huge sums of government and private funding have become available to what was initially a small backwater field. Science becomes easy when emphasis is on malleable models supported by hugely uncertain data that can be readily found ‘consistent’ with the models supplemented by fervidly imagined catastrophic ‘implications.’ Indeed, uncertainty is often exaggerated for just this purpose. Opposition within the scientific community is immediately met with ad hominem attacks, loss of funding, and difficulty in publishing.
Of course, science is not the only victim of this situation. Affordable energy has been the primary vehicle for the greatest advance in human welfare in human history. This issue promises to deny this to the over 1 billion humans who still lack electricity. For billions more energy will be much less affordable leading to increased poverty. Poverty, itself, is a major factor in reduced life expectancy. It requires a peculiarly ugly obtuseness to ignore the fundamental immorality of this issue.
Although all these issues have strong political consequences, it is by no means clear that their origin is, itself, political. I would suggest that a more likely situation is that politics is always opportunistically seeking some cause that fits its needs. However, once an illusional issue becomes a passionate belief, it becomes impervious to argument. Given how dangerous some illusional positions are, it is an important problem to know how to avoid them. This is a problem that is truly worthy of Cato’s attention. Rapid response can only do so much; belief seems to inevitably trump objective reality when one is free to choose ones narrative.