Climate change

Lindzen explains the climate system

The following are excerpts from a lecture presented by Dr. Richard Lindzen to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in October, 2018. Dr. Lindzen was Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until his retirement in 2013. He is the author of over 200 papers on meteorology and climatology and is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and of the Academic Advisory Council of GWPF.

Each of the following sections has more to it. Read the entire lecture here:
https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2018/10/Lindzen-AnnualGWPF-lecture.pdf

The climate system

The following description of the climate system contains nothing that is in the least controversial, and I expect that anyone with a scientific background will readily follow the description. I will also try to make the description intelligible to the non-scientist.

The system we are looking at consists in two turbulent fluids (the atmosphere and the oceans) interacting with each other. By ‘turbulent,’ I simply mean that it is characterized by irregular circulations like those found in a gurgling brook or boiling water, but on the planetary scale of the oceans and the atmosphere. The opposite of turbulent is called laminar, but any fluid forced to move fast enough becomes turbulent, and turbulence obviously limits predictability. By interaction, I simply mean that they exert stress on each other and exchange heat with each other.

These fluids are on a rotating planet that is unevenly heated by the sun. The motions in the atmosphere (and to a lesser extent in the oceans) are generated by the uneven influence of the sun. The sun, itself, can be steady, but it shines directly on the tropics while barely skimming the Earth at the poles. The drivers of the oceans are more complex and include forcing by wind as well as the sinking of cold and salty water. The rotation of the Earth has many consequences too, but for the present, we may simply note that it leads to radiation being distributed around a latitude circle.

The oceans have circulations and currents operating on time scales ranging from years to millennia, and these systems carry heat to and from the surface. Because of the scale and density of the oceans, the flow speeds are generally much smaller than in the atmosphere and are associated with much longer time scales. The fact that these circulations carry heat to and from the surface means that the surface, itself, is never in equilibrium with space. That is to say, there is never an exact balance between incoming heat from the sun and outgoing radiation generated by the Earth because heat is always being stored in and released from the oceans and surface temperature is always, therefore, varying somewhat.

In addition to the oceans, the atmosphere is interacting with a hugely irregular land surface. As air passes over mountain ranges, the flow is greatly distorted. Topography therefore plays a major role in modifying regional climate. These distorted air-flows even generate fluid waves that can alter climate at distant locations. Computer simulations of the climate generally fail to adequately describe these effects.

A vital constituent of the atmospheric component is water in the liquid, solid and vapor phases, and the changes in phase have vast impacts on energy flows. Each component also has important radiative impacts. You all know that it takes heat to melt ice, and it takes further heat for the resulting water to become vapor or, as it is sometimes referred to, steam. The term humidity refers to the amount of vapor in the atmosphere. The flow of heat is reversed when the phase changes are reversed; that is, when vapor condenses into water, and when water freezes. The release of heat when water vapor condenses drives thunder clouds (known as cumulonimbus), and the energy in a thundercloud is comparable to that released in an H-bomb. I say this simply to illustrate that these energy transformations are very substantial. Clouds consist of water in the form of fine droplets and ice in the form of fine crystals. Normally, these fine droplets and crystals are suspended by rising air currents, but when these grow large enough they fall through the rising air as rain and snow. Not only are the energies involved in phase transformations important, so is the fact that both water vapor and clouds (both ice- and water-based) strongly affect radiation. Although I haven’t discussed the greenhouse effect yet, I’m sure all of you have heard that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that this explains its warming effect. You should, therefore, understand that the two most important greenhouse substances by far are water vapor and clouds. Clouds are also important reflectors of sunlight.

The unit for describing energy flows is watts per square meter. The energy budget of this system involves the absorption and re-emission of about 200 watts per square meter. Doubling CO2 involves a 2% perturbation to this budget. So do minor changes in clouds and other features, and such changes are common. The Earth receives about 340 watts per square meter from the sun, but about 140 watts per square meter is simply reflected back to space, by both the Earth’s surface and, more importantly, by clouds. This leaves about 200 watts per square meter that the Earth would have to emit in order to establish balance.

The sun radiates in the visible portion of the radiation spectrum because its temperature is about 6000K. ‘K’ refers to Kelvins, which are simply degrees Centigrade plus 273. Zero K is the lowest possible temperature (-273?C). Temperature determines the spectrum of the emitted radiation. If the Earth had no atmosphere at all (but for purposes of argument still was reflecting 140 watts per square meter), it would have to radiate at a temperature of about 255K, and, at this temperature, the radiation is mostly in the infrared.

Of course, the Earth does have an atmosphere and oceans, and this introduces a host of complications. So be warned, what follows will require a certain amount of concentration. Evaporation from the oceans gives rise to water vapor in the atmosphere, and water vapor very strongly absorbs and emits radiation in the infrared. This is what we mean when we call water vapor a greenhouse gas. The water vapor essentially blocks infrared radiation from leaving the surface, causing the surface and (via conduction) the air adjacent to the surface to heat, and, as in a heated pot of water, convection sets on. Because the density of air decreases with height, the buoyant elements expand as they rise. This causes the buoyant elements to cool as they rise, and the mixing results in decreasing temperature with height rather than a constant temperature. To make matters more complicated, the amount of water vapor that the air can hold decreases rapidly as the temperature decreases. At some height there is so little water vapor above this height that radiation from this level can now escape to space. It is at this elevated level (around 5 km) that the temperature must be about 255K in order to balance incoming radiation. However, because convection causes temperature to decrease with height, the surface now has to actually be warmer than 255K. It turns out that it has to be about 288K (which is the average temperature of the Earth’s surface).

This is what is known as the greenhouse effect. It is an interesting curiosity that had convection produced a uniform temperature, there wouldn’t be a greenhouse effect. In reality, the situation is still more complicated. Among other things, the existence of upper-level cirrus clouds, which are very strong absorbers and emitters of infrared radiation, effectively block infrared radiation from below. Thus, when such clouds are present above about 5 km, their tops rather than the height of 5 km determine the level from which infrared reaches space. Now the addition of other greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide) elevates the emission level, and because of the convective mixing, the new level will be colder. This reduces the outgoing infrared flux, and, in order to restore balance, the atmosphere would have to warm. Doubling carbon dioxide concentration is estimated to be equivalent to a forcing of about 3.7 watts per square meter, which is little less than 2% of the net incoming 200 watts per square meter. Many factors, including cloud area and height, snow cover, and ocean circulations, commonly cause changes of comparable magnitude.

It is important to note that such a system will fluctuate with time scales ranging from seconds to millennia, even in the absence of an explicit forcing other than a steady sun. Much of the popular literature (on both sides of the climate debate) assumes that all changes must be driven by some external factor. Of course, the climate system is driven by the sun, but even if the solar forcing were constant, the climate would still vary. This is actually something that all of you have long known – even if you don’t realize it. After all, you have no difficulty recognizing that the steady stroking of a violin string by a bow causes the string to vibrate and generate sound waves. In a similar way, the atmosphere–ocean system responds to steady forcing with its own modes of variation (which, admittedly, are often more complex than the modes of a violin string). Moreover, given the massive nature of the oceans, such variations can involve time scales of millennia rather than milliseconds. El Niño is a relatively short example, involving years, but most of these internal time variations are too long to even be identified in our relatively short instrumental record. Nature has numerous examples of autonomous variability, including the approximately 11-year sunspot cycle and the reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field every couple of hundred thousand years or so. In this respect, the climate system is no different from other natural systems.

Of course, such systems also do respond to external forcing, but such a forcing is not needed for them to exhibit variability. While the above is totally uncontroversial, please think about it for a moment. Consider the massive heterogeneity and complexity of the system, and the variety of mechanisms of variability as we consider the current narrative that is commonly presented as ‘settled science.’

The popular narrative and its political origins

Now here is the currently popular narrative concerning this system. The climate, a complex multifactor system, can be summarized in just one variable, the globally averaged temperature
change, and is primarily controlled by the 1-2% perturbation in the energy budget due to a single variable – carbon dioxide – among many variables of comparable importance. This is an extraordinary claim based on reasoning that borders on magical thinking. It is, however, the narrative that has been widely accepted, even among many sceptics.

Many politicians and learned societies go even further: They endorse carbon dioxide as
the controlling variable, and although mankind’s CO2 contributions are small compared to the much larger but uncertain natural exchanges with both the oceans and the biosphere, they are confident that they know precisely what policies to implement in order to control carbon dioxide levels.

The evidence

At this point, some of you might be wondering about all the so-called evidence for dangerous climate change. What about the disappearing Arctic ice, the rising sea level, the weather extremes, starving polar bears, the Syrian Civil War, and all the rest of it? The vast variety of the claims makes it impossible to point to any particular fault that applies to all of them. Of course, citing the existence of changes – even if these observations are correct (although surprisingly often they are not) – would not implicate greenhouse warming per se. Nor would it point to danger. Note that most of the so-called evidence refers to matters of which you have no personal experience. Some of the claims, such as those relating to weather extremes, contradict what both physical theory and empirical data show. The purpose of these claims is obviously to frighten and befuddle the public, and to make it seem like there is evidence where, in fact, there is none.

Conclusion

So there you have it. An implausible conjecture backed by false evidence and repeated incessantly has become politically correct ‘knowledge,’ and is used to promote the overturn of industrial civilization. What we will be leaving our grandchildren is not a planet damaged by industrial progress, but a record of unfathomable silliness as well as a landscape degraded by rusting wind farms and decaying solar panel arrays. False claims about 97% agreement will not spare us, but the willingness of scientists to keep mum is likely to much reduce trust in and support for science. Perhaps this won’t be such a bad thing after all – certainly as concerns ‘official’ science.

There is at least one positive aspect to the present situation. None of the proposed policies will have much impact on greenhouse gases. Thus we will continue to benefit from the one thing that can be clearly attributed to elevated carbon dioxide: namely, its effective role as a plant fertilizer, and reducer of the drought vulnerability of plants.

See also:
Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect
An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

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Main temperature database used by IPCC found to contain multiple errors

An audit of the HadCRUT4 dataset, the primary global temperature database used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found multiple errors.

HadCRUT4 is also the dataset at the center of “ClimateGate” from 2009, managed by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University.

The paper, An Audit of the Creation and Content of the HadCRUT4 Temperature Dataset by John McLean (PhD), was first published as a PhD thesis and now as a book. Get the book for $8 here. Read the original thesis here (free download).

The audit found more than 70 areas of concern about data quality and accuracy.

Australian researcher John McLean says that HadCRUT4 is far too sloppy to be taken seriously even by climate scientists, let alone a body as influential as the IPCC or by the governments of the world.

Main points:

The Hadley data is one of the most cited, most important databases for climate modeling, and thus for policies involving billions of dollars.

McLean found freakishly improbable data, and systematic adjustment errors, large gaps where there is no data, location errors, Fahrenheit temperatures reported as Celsius, and spelling errors.

[The improper transposition of Fahrenheit temperatures to Celsius is serious. Fahrenheit 40 is a cool temperature but Celsius 40 is equivalent to 104 Fahrenheit. This erroneous transposition is real “man-made global warming.”]

Almost no quality control checks have been done: outliers that are obvious mistakes have not been corrected. For instance, one town in Columbia spent three months in 1978 at an average daily temperature of over 80 degrees C (176 F). One town in Romania stepped out from summer in 1953 straight into a month of Spring at minus 46°C. These are supposedly “average” temperatures for a full month at a time. St Kitts, a Caribbean island, was recorded at 0°C for a whole month, and twice!

Temperatures for the entire Southern Hemisphere in 1850 and for the next three years are calculated from just one site in Indonesia and some random ships.

Sea surface temperatures represent 70% of the Earth’s surface, but some measurements come from ships which are logged at locations 100km inland. Others are in harbors which are hardly representative of the open ocean.

When a thermometer is relocated to a new site, the adjustment assumes that the old site was always built up and “heated” by concrete and buildings. In reality, the artificial warming probably crept in slowly. By correcting for buildings that likely didn’t exist in 1880, old records are artificially cooled. Adjustments for a few site changes can create a whole century of artificial warming trends.

Details of the worst outliers:

For April, June and July of 1978 Apto Uto, Colombia had an average monthly temperature of 81.5°C, 83.4°C and 83.4°C respectively. (178 to 182 Fahrenheit)

The monthly mean temperature in September 1953 at Paltinis, Romania is reported as -46.4 °C (in other years the September average was about 11.5°C).

At Golden Rock Airport, on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean, mean monthly temperatures for December in 1981 and 1984 are reported as 0.0°C. But from 1971 to 1990 the average in all the other years was 26.0°C.

Bad data and bad modeling assumptions make IPCC temperature simulations diverge widely from really. That’s why we should not believe the IPCC when they cry “wolf” and say it’s the end of the world unless we give them billions of dollars and get rid of fossil fuels.

The primary conclusion of the audit (as noted by Anthony Watts) is that the dataset shows exaggerated warming and that global averages are far less certain than have been claimed.

One implication of the audit is that climate models have been tuned to match incorrect data, which would render incorrect their predictions of future temperatures and estimates of the human influence of temperatures.

Another implication is that the proposal that the Paris Climate Agreement adopt 1850-1899 averages as “indicative” of pre-industrial temperatures is fatally flawed. During that period global coverage is low – it averages 30% across that time – and many land-based temperatures are very likely to be excessively adjusted and therefore incorrect.

 

Why is it that a PhD student working from home can find mistakes that the British Met Office, a £226 million institute with 2,100 employees, could not. Significantly, the Met Office, in a statement, said they do not disagree with any of his claims.

Maybe, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in his farewell address:

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

The fake two degree political limit on global warming

Climate change in perspective – a tutorial for policy makers

The Hothouse Horror (Ho Hum)

A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) speculates on major warming in our future. It has sent the gullible, alarmist press into a twitter of claiming that we must do something immediately. Trouble is, this very speculative paper says major warming may, might, could, perhaps occur sometime within the next few centuries to thousands of years.

Here is the abstract:

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values. [full paper here]

 

What? Me worry? Dr. Judith Curry (retired Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology) opines: “A paper about climate outcomes on a millennial time scale would seem to be completely irrelevant to any conceivable policy. Even if our understanding of all of these climate processes were certain (reality check: we are dealing with deep uncertainty with regards to future climate outcomes), geologic and solar wild cards will almost certainly come into play to produce climate surprises.”

The horrid hothouse described in the paper is actually the normal temperature for planet Earth according to geological evidence (except during ice ages). Current global average surface temperature is about 57°F (14°C) versus a “normal” temperature of 77°F (25°C) as shown on the graphic below:

 

During times of “normal” (very warm) temperatures life was abundant and robust. If (or when) we return to those temperatures we will have to adapt as it gets warmer and sea level rises.

My impression of this paper is that its sixteen co-authors are taking advantage of the political climate to get their names on a paper published in a professional journal, something very important to academics.

On the other hand, we might first have to adapt to colder temperatures. Scientists who pay attention to solar cycles have noticed that the magnetic strength of the sun is declining with each cycle. This means that more cosmic rays will enter the atmosphere and produce more clouds and hence more cooling. The graphic below shows the gradual decline of temperature during our current inter-glacial period and the cyclic nature of warm-cold periods. Speculation is that we are about to enter one of the cold spells of the Holocene or even that the relatively benign inter-glacial period is coming to an end.

Here is an example:

The Next Ice Age

By Dr. S. Fred Singer

While most people still worry about global warming, I am more concerned about the next Ice Age. A glaciation would present a serious problem for survival of our present civilization, akin to a nuclear winter that many worried about 30 years ago.

Natural warming of the Earth reached a peak 65 million years ago. The climate has been generally cooling ever since. Antarctic ice sheets started growing 25 million years ago. In the last 2.5 million years, the Earth entered the period of Ice Ages [the geological name is The Pleistocene] and has been experiencing periodic glaciations where much of the land was covered by miles-thick ice sheets.

There have been about 17 glaciations, each lasting approximately 100,000 years, separated by short inter-glacials lasting about 10,000 years.

We are approaching the likely end of the present warm inter-glacial, called the Holocene. It’s time to prepare for the next glaciation to see how we can overcome it – or at least postpone its onset. Read more (Singer is a physicist and a Professor emeritus of environmental science, University of Virginia.) I’m with Fred.

If Dr. Singer is right, then we all should triple our “carbon footprints” assuming you believe that carbon dioxide emissions play a significant role in controlling global temperature.

An article in Science 2.0: “Not As Scary As It Seems: Planet At Risk Of Heading Towards “Hothouse Earth” State” [link] Gives a summary and comments on the paper. They say “Hothouse earth does not make us extinct – still a very habitable planet” and “In short, it is a hypothesis not yet supported by evidence.”

A summary of climate change principles and state of the science – a rebuttal of climate alarmism

This post collects several past articles which review the science and bring together some main points on the state of the climate debate. These points show that the politically correct, carbon dioxide driven meme is wrong. Readers can use these articles to counter climate alarmist. Read each article for more details.

Climate change in perspective

Climate change is a major issue of our times. Concern is affecting environmental, energy, and economic policy decisions. Many politicians are under the mistaken belief that legislation and regulation can significantly control our climate to forestall any deviation from “normal” and save us from a perceived crisis. This post is intended as a primer for politicians so they can cut through the hype and compare real observational data against the flawed model prognostications.

The data show that the current warming is not unusual, but part of a natural cycle; that greenhouse gases, other than water vapor, are not significant drivers of climate; that human emissions of carbon dioxide are insignificant when compared to natural emissions of greenhouse gases; and that many predictions by climate modelers and hyped by the media are simply wrong.

 

A simple question for climate alarmists – where is the evidence

“What physical evidence supports the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the principal cause of global warming since 1970?”

(Remember back in the 1970s, climate scientists and media were predicting a return to an “ice age.”)

I have posed that question to five “climate scientist” professors at the University of Arizona who claim that our carbon dioxide emissions are the principal cause of dangerous global warming. Yet, when asked the question, none could cite any supporting physical evidence.

 

Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth

Rather than being a “pollutant.” Carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth as we know it. Earth’s climate has been changing for at least four billion years in cycles large and small. Few in the climate debate understand those changes and their causes. Many are fixated on carbon dioxide (CO2), a minor constituent of the atmosphere, but one absolutely necessary for life as we know it. Perhaps this fixation derives from ulterior political motives for controlling the global economy. For others, the true believers, perhaps this fixation derives from ignorance.

 

Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect

The “greenhouse effect,” very simplified, is this: solar radiation penetrates the atmosphere and warms the surface of the earth. The earth’s surface radiates thermal energy (infrared radiation) back into space. Some of this radiation is absorbed and re-radiated back to the surface and into space by clouds, water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, and other gases. Water vapor is the principle greenhouse gas; the others are minor players. It is claimed that without the greenhouse effect the planet would be an iceball, about 34∘C colder than it is.* The term “greenhouse effect” with respect to the atmosphere is an unfortunate usage because it is misleading. The interior of a real greenhouse (or your automobile parked with windows closed and left in the sun) heats up because there is a physical barrier to convective heat loss. There is no such physical barrier in the atmosphere.*There is an alternate hypothesis:

 

What keeps Earth warm – the greenhouse effect or something else?

Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell proposed in his 1871 book “Theory of Heat” that the temperature of a planet depends only on gravity, mass of the atmosphere, and heat capacity of the atmosphere. Temperature is independent of atmosphere composition. Greenhouse gases have nothing to do with it. Many publications since, have expounded on Maxwell’s theory and have shown that it applies to all planets in the Solar System.

The Grand Canyon of Arizona provides a practical demonstration of this principle.

 

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

The U.S. government’s National Climate Assessment report and the UN IPCC both claim that human carbon dioxide emissions are “intensifying” the greenhouse effect and causing global warming. The carbon dioxide driven global warming meme makes four specific predictions. Physical evidence shows that all four of these predictions are wrong.

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is; it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” – Richard Feynmann

 

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

In this article, we will examine the Earth’s temperature and the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere at several time scales to see if there is any relationship. I stipulate that the greenhouse effect does exist. I maintain, however, that the ability of CO2 emissions to cause global warming is tiny and overwhelmed by natural forces. The main effect of our “greenhouse” is to slow cooling.

 

How much global warming is dangerous?

The United Nation’s IPCC and other climate alarmists say all hell will break loose if the global temperature rises more than an additional 2º C (3.6ºF). That number, by the way, is purely arbitrary with no basis in science. It also ignores Earth’s geologic history which shows that for most of the time global temperatures have been much warmer than now. Let’s look back at a time when global temperatures are estimated to have been as much as 34ºF warmer than they are now. Hell didn’t break loose then.

 

Effects of global warming on humans

The EPA’s “endangerment finding” classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant and claimed that global warming will have adverse effects on human health. Real research says the opposite: cold is deadlier. The scientific evidence shows that warming is good for health.

 

Geology is responsible for some phenomena blamed on global warming

Melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets have been blamed on global warming, but both have a geologic origin. The “Blob” a recent warm ocean area off the Oregon coast, responsible in part for the hot weather and drought in California, has been blamed on global warming, but that too may have a geologic cause.

 

The 97 percent consensus for human caused climate change debunked again

It has been claimed that 97% of climate scientists say humans are causing most of the global warming. An examination of the numbers and how those numbers have been reached show that only 8.2% of scientists polled explicitly endorse carbon dioxide as the principal driver.

Read also a more general article: On consensus in science

Conclusion:

The basic conclusion of this review is that carbon dioxide has little effect on climate and all attempts to control carbon dioxide will be a futile and expensive exercise to no end. All the dire predictions are based on flawed computer models. Carbon dioxide is a phantom menace.

 

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H. L. Mencken

Nitrogen in rocks identified as major plant fertilizer not considered by climate models

Organic nitrogen compounds such as ammonia (NH3) act as plant fertilizers. Robust plant growth consumes more atmospheric carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis. However, atmospheric nitrogen (N2) is relatively inert. It is converted to organic nitrogen compounds by bacteria in the top soil layers. (See nitrogen fixation) Climate models have assumed that the atmosphere is the only source of nitrogen and have therefore underestimated its fertilization effect and also underestimated the capability of plants to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. New studies show that much nitrogen comes from rocks, some already in useable organic form. Weathering of rocks releases this organic nitrogen.

“A considerable amount of the nitrogen in igneous and sedimentary rocks exists as ammonium ions held within the lattice structures of silicate minerals. In sedimentary rocks, the ammonium is held by secondary silicate minerals; in igneous rocks, the ammonium is contained largely within potassium-bearing primary minerals. Analyses indicated that most of the nitrogen in igneous rocks, and from one-tenth to two-thirds of that in sedimentary rocks (shales) occurred as fixed ammonium.” (Source)

Nitrate deposits in arid and semi-arid regions provide another source of nitrogen.

“Nitrogen bearing rocks are globally distributed and comprise a potentially large pool of nitrogen in nutrient cycling that is frequently neglected because of a lack of routine analytical methods for quantification. Nitrogen in rock originates as organically bound nitrogen associated with sediment, or in thermal waters representing a mixture of sedimentary, mantle, and meteoric sources of nitrogen.” (Source)

A new study, reported by Science Daily, concerns research conducted by University of California – Davis published April 6, 2018.

“For centuries, the prevailing science has indicated that all of the nitrogen on Earth available to plants comes from the atmosphere. But a study from the University of California, Davis, indicates that more than a quarter comes from Earth’s bedrock.”

“The discovery could greatly improve climate change projections, which rely on understanding the carbon cycle. This newly identified source of nitrogen could also feed the carbon cycle on land, allowing ecosystems to pull more emissions out of the atmosphere, the authors said.”

“Geology might have a huge control over which systems can take up carbon dioxide and which ones don’t.”

“While there were hints that plants could use rock-derived nitrogen, this discovery shatters the paradigm that the ultimate source of available nitrogen is the atmosphere. Nitrogen is both the most important limiting nutrient on Earth and a dangerous pollutant, so it is important to understand the natural controls on its supply and demand. Humanity currently depends on atmospheric nitrogen to produce enough fertilizer to maintain world food supply. A discovery of this magnitude will open up a new era of research on this essential nutrient.”

Study citation: B. Z. Houlton, S. L. Morford, R. A. Dahlgren. Convergent evidence for widespread rock nitrogen sources in Earth’s surface environment. Science, 2018; 360 (6384): 58 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4399.

Looks like “climate science” is still not settled. For instance, a 2003 study published in the same Science journal claimed, “there will not be enough nitrogen available to sustain the high carbon uptake scenarios.” Investor’s Business Daily opines: “with more nitrogen available, plant life might be able to absorb more CO2 than climate scientists have been estimating, which means the planet won’t warm as much, despite mankind’s pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.”

 

See also:

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

Tuvalu and other Pacific islands resist sea level rise and add land area

Climate alarmists have long been predicting that global warming induced sea level rise would make low-lying Pacific islands disappear and cause thousands of “climate refugees” to seek new homes. Here are some examples:

Smithsonian.com, August, 2004: Will Tuvalu Disappear Beneath the Sea? Global warming threatens to swamp a small island nation.

Mother Jones, December, 2009: What Happens When Your Country Drowns?

Washington Post, August, 2014: Has the era of the ‘climate change refugee’ begun?

Bloomberg, November, 2017: A Tiny Island Prepares the World for a Climate Refugee Crisis.

The University of Arizona has been complicit in this hype; see my Wryheat post: University of Arizona dances with sea level.

These alarmist claims have not come to pass because of the geologic processes that build these islands.

A new paper published in Nature Communications on Feb. 9, 2018, shows that despite sea level rise, most islands are increasing in land area.

A University of Auckland study (Patterns of island change and persistence offer alternate adaptation pathways for atoll nations, Paul S. Kench, Murray R. Ford & Susan D. Owen) examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery. The paper claims that local sea level has risen at twice the global average (~3.90 + 0.4 mm.yr-1). That translates to about six inches over the 43-year period. However, the study found eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, increasing Tuvalu’s total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average. (Read Full paper in Nature).

Here is figure 3 from that paper followed by its caption:

Caption for Tuvalu fig 3 (ha = hectares): Examples of island change and dynamics in Tuvalu from 1971 to 2014.

A Nanumaga reef platform island (301 ha) increased in area 4.7 ha (1.6%) and remained stable on its reef platform.

B Fangaia island (22.4 ha), Nukulaelae atoll, increased in area 3.1 ha (13.7%) and remained stable on reef rim.

C Fenualango island (14.1 ha), Nukulaelae atoll rim, increased in area 2.3 ha (16%). Note smaller island on left Teafuafatu (0.29 ha), which reduced in area 0.15 ha (49%) and had significant lagoonward movement.

D Two smaller reef islands on Nukulaelae reef rim. Tapuaelani island, (0.19 ha) top left, increased in area 0.21 ha (113%) and migrated lagoonward. Kalilaia island, (0.52 ha) bottom right, reduced in area 0.45 ha (85%) migrating substantially lagoonward.

E Teafuone island (1.37 ha) Nukufetau atoll, increased in area 0.04 ha (3%). Note lateral migration of island along reef platform. Yellow lines represent the 1971 shoreline, blue lines represent the 1984 shoreline, green lines represent the 2006 shoreline and red lines represent the 2014 shoreline.

 

The reason that these islands are gaining area is that as the sea rises, coral reefs grow higher and trap coral debris and sand to build up the island. The science of coral reef atolls is not new. This process was first described by Charles Darwin in 1842: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. Fitzroy, R.N. during the years 1832 to 1836. London: Smith Elder and Co. (Link to Darwin’s full description).

This figure from Darwin’s paper shows that coral atolls originate around a volcanic island or seamount. As sea level rises (or land sinks) the corals grow to remain in shallow water and the coral debris and sand cause an atoll island to form. That the corals were able to overcome a recent six-inch rise in sea level may not seem very much, but remember that these islands have been around a long time and dealt with a 400-foot rise in sea level since the depths of the last glacial epoch.

The findings of the new paper cited above support previous studies. For instance:

Kench et al., 2015, Coral islands defy sea-level rise over the past century: Records from a central Pacific atoll, Geological Society of America, in Geology Magazine, March 2015. (Source)

“Funafuti Atoll, in the tropical Pacific Ocean, has experienced some of the highest rates of sea-level rise (~5.1 + 0.7 mm/yr), totaling ~0.30 + 0.04 m over the past 60 yr. We analyzed six time slices of shoreline position over the past 118 yr at 29 islands of Funafuti Atoll to determine their physical response to recent sea-level rise. Despite the magnitude of this rise, no islands have been lost, the majority have enlarged, and there has been a 7.3% increase in net island area over the past century (A.D. 1897–2013). There is no evidence of heightened erosion over the past half-century as sea-level rise accelerated. Reef islands in Funafuti continually adjust their size, shape, and position in response to variations in boundary conditions, including storms, sediment supply, as well as sea level. Results suggest a more optimistic prognosis for the habitability of atoll nations and demonstrate the importance of resolving recent rates and styles of island change to inform adaptation strategies.”

See also:

The Sea Level Scam

UPDATE: A new paper published 19 September 2018 finds: 

Over the past decades, atoll islands exhibited no widespread sign of physical destabilization
in the face of sea-level rise. A reanalysis of available data, which cover
30 Pacific and Indian Ocean atolls including 709 islands, reveals that no atoll lost
land area and that 88.6% of islands were either stable or increased in area, while
only 11.4% contracted. Atoll islands affected by rapid sea-level rise did not show a
distinct behavior compared to islands on other atolls. Island behavior correlated
with island size, and no island smaller than 10 ha decreased in size. This threshold
could be used to define the minimum island size required for human occupancy
and to assess atoll countries and territories’ vulnerability to climate change. Beyond
emphasizing the major role of climate drivers in causing substantial changes in the
configuration of islands, this reanalysis of available data indicates that these drivers
explain subregional variations in atoll behavior and within-atoll variations in island
and shoreline (lagoon vs. ocean) behavior, following atoll-specific patterns.
Increasing human disturbances, especially land reclamation and human structure
construction, operated on atoll-to-shoreline spatial scales, explaining marked
within-atoll variations in island and shoreline behavior. Collectively, these findings
highlight the heterogeneity of atoll situations. Further research needs include
addressing geographical gaps (Indian Ocean, Caribbean, north-western Pacific
atolls), using standardized protocols to allow comparative analyses of island and
shoreline behavior across ocean regions, investigating the role of ecological
drivers, and promoting interdisciplinary approaches. Such efforts would assist in
anticipating potential future changes in the contributions and interactions of key
drivers. Read paper: http://sci-hub.tw/10.1002/wcc.557

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fake two degree political limit on global warming

It is a prime tenet of global warming alarmism that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions in order to “limit the increase in global temperatures to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels, or risk hitting a tipping point where the impact becomes irreversible” and all hell will break loose. This two-degree number has been adopted by the IPCC and by many governments, and is the primary goal of the Paris Climate Accord (in addition to extracting money from developed nations).

Does that number, two degrees Celsius, have any basis in science? Here is some history on how it developed (graphic from Carbon Brief).

It seems that the number was accepted without much question. Where did the number come from? Emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) based at the University of East Anglia during “Climategate” revealed that Dr. Phil Jones, head of CRU, inadvertently admitted that the number was “plucked out of thin air” and has no basis in science.

In this context, “pre-industrial levels” means prior to the year 1850 which marked the end of the “Little Ice Age.” The globe has been warming (on and off) from that since 1850.

And guess what? According to the Berkeley Earth global average surface air temperature record, Earth has already warmed more than two degrees Celsius since the early 1800’s pre-industrial levels. (Source) See any irreversible tipping points yet?

Let’s examine Earth’s temperature history of the past 600 million years to see if two degrees Celsius is a big deal in Earth’s history. Estimates of temperature and CO2 content are based on geologic, biologic, and isotopic evidence.

Sources for figure above:

Berner, R.A. and Kothavala, Z, 2001, GEOCARB III: A Revised Model of Atmospheric CO2 over Phanerozoic Time, American Journal of Science, Vol. 301, February, 2001, P. 182–204.

Scotese, C.R., http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Carboniferous_climate.html

Notice in the figure above that for most of the past 600 millions years, global temperatures have been 5- to 12 degrees Celsius higher than they are now, i.e. a warmer world is the norm. There has been no “run-away” warming and life has been robust and flourishing, especially during the steamy Cretaceous Period when global temperatures are estimated to have been at least 12 degrees Celsius higher than now.

Dear politicians, the two degrees Celsius goal is a political one, not a scientific one. No matter what you do, you cannot stop climate change. Adapt to it and stop wasting trillions of dollars on this unnecessary and futile effort.

“The forcings that drive long-term climate change are not known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate change.” — James Hansen, “Climate forcings in the Industrial era”, PNAS, Vol. 95, Issue 22, 12753-12758, October 27, 1998.

“In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible.” — Final chapter, Draft TAR 2000 (Third Assessment Report), IPCC.

While controlling emissions from burning fossil fuels may have some beneficial effects on air quality, it will have no measurable effect on climate. It will have great detrimental effects on the economy and our standard of living. The greatest danger of climate change is that politicians think they can stop it.

See also:

Impact of Paris climate accord and why Trump was right to dump it

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

Effects of global warming on human health

The EPA’s “endangerment finding” classified carbon dioxide as a pollutant and claimed that global warming will have adverse effects on human health. Real research says the opposite: cold is deadlier.  The scientific evidence shows that warming is good for health. This is discussed in detail in chapter 7 of Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts published by the Heartland Institute. See links to the entire publication at: http://climatechangereconsidered.org/climate-change-reconsidered-ii-biological-impacts/

Here are the key findings based on extensive review of the scientific literature:

• Warmer temperatures lead to a net decrease in temperature-related mortality, including deaths associated with cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and strokes. The evidence of this benefit comes from research conducted in every major country of the world.

• In the United States the average person who died because of cold temperature exposure lost in excess of 10 years of potential life, whereas the average person who died because of hot temperature exposure likely lost no more than a few days or weeks of life.

• Some 4,600 deaths are delayed each year as people in the U.S. move from cold northeastern states to warm southwestern states. Between 3 and 7% of the gains in longevity experienced by the U.S. population over the past three decades is due simply to people moving to warmer states.

• Cold-related deaths are far more numerous than heat-related deaths in the United States, Europe, and almost all countries outside the tropics. Coronary and cerebral thrombosis account for about half of all cold-related mortality.

• Global warming is reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases related to low temperatures and wintry weather by a much greater degree than it increases the incidence of cardiovascular diseases associated with high temperatures and summer heat waves.

• The adverse health impacts of cold temperatures, especially with respect to respiratory health, are more significant than those of high temperatures in many parts of the world, including Spain, Canada, Shanghai, and Taiwan. In the subtropical island of Taiwan, for example, researchers found low minimum temperatures were the strongest risk factor associated with outpatient visits for respiratory diseases.

• A vast body of scientific examination and research contradict the claim that malaria will expand across the globe and intensify as a result of CO2-induced warming.

• Concerns over large increases in vector-borne diseases such as dengue as a result of rising temperatures are unfounded and unsupported by the scientific literature, as climatic indices are poor predictors for dengue disease.

• While climatic factors largely determine the geographical distribution of ticks, temperature and climate change are not among the significant factors determining the incidence of tick-borne diseases.

• The ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content is not only raising the productivity of Earth’s common food plants but also significantly increasing the quantity and potency of the many health-promoting substances found in their tissues, which are the ultimate sources of sustenance for essentially all animals and humans.

• Atmospheric CO2 enrichment positively impacts the production of numerous health-promoting substances found in medicinal or “health food” plants, and this phenomenon may have contributed to the increase in human life span that has occurred over the past century or so.

• There appears to be little reason to expect any significant CO2-induced increases in human health-harming substances produced by plants as the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration continues to rise.

Read the full report for details and supporting references.

For more background, see papers linked to in How Climate Has Affected Human History.

These papers show that humanity prospered during warm times (e.g. the Renaissance period) and suffered during cold times (e.g. the “Dark Ages”).

See also:

Dump EPA endangerment finding

Fourth National Climate Assessment is junk science

Will global warming weaken the North American Monsoon?

Arizona gets most of its rain from thunderstorms during the summer, a period called the North American monsoon (see Arizona Monsoon for background and the anatomy of thunderstorms). By government decree, the monsoon season lasts from June 15 through September 30. In actuality, rains usually start in early July following the rain-dance ceremony of the Tohono O’odham people. In 2017, there were unusually heavy rains in July and below normal rain in August and September.

Researchers from Princeton University, using a new precipitation model, claim that global warming will decrease the rain of the monsoon. From the abstract of their paper published in Nature:

Future changes in the North American monsoon, a circulation system that brings abundant summer rains to vast areas of the North American Southwest, could have significant consequences for regional water resources. How this monsoon will change with increasing greenhouse gases, however, remains unclear, not least because coarse horizontal resolution and systematic sea-surface temperature biases limit the reliability of its numerical model simulations. Here we investigate the monsoon response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations using a 50-km-resolution global climate model which features a realistic representation of the monsoon climatology and its synoptic-scale variability. It is found that the monsoon response to CO2 doubling is sensitive to sea-surface temperature biases. When minimizing these biases, the model projects a robust reduction in monsoonal precipitation over the southwestern United States, contrasting with previous multi-model assessments.

Let’s see how this model premise has worked so far:

The graph below, from NOAA data, shows that year-to-year precipitation varies quit a bit. The overall trend is for increasing precipitation with global warming, not a decrease.


A plot of annual precipitation reflects the high temperatures and drought conditions of the first half of the 20th Century, but there is no apparent trend for more recent warming.

This new model, as all climate models, assumes that carbon dioxide is the major forcing of global temperature, an assumption for which there is no physical evidence.

See:

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

Why Hurricanes Can’t Be Blamed On Global Warming

The leftish press and Hollywood climate experts have been claiming that the recent rash of dangerous hurricanes is due to global warming. Dr. Roy Spencer, U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, takes exception to these claims in a short blog post and in a new E-bookavailable from Amazon for $2.99. The E-book is about 11,000 words long and contains 17 illustrations. I recommend you read it.

In the book, Spencer explains the origin of hurricanes and gives a history of U.S. hurricanes from colonial times to present time, including comments on hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Spencer notes that geological studies of sediments in coastal lakes in Texas and Florida show that “catastrophic hurricane strikes were more frequent 1,000 to 2,000 years ago than in the most recent 1,000 years.” Hurricanes making landfall in Florida show a downward trend in both number and intensity (that trend includes hurricane Irma). Spencer says that hurricanes in tropical Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico are not limited by sea surface temperatures.

He also notes that “ two major hurricane strikes endured by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1635 and in 1675, have yet to be rivaled in more modern times.”

“…Most Atlantic hurricanes can be traced back to African easterly waves [of low wind shear].  These waves draw their energy from the temperature contrast between the hot air over the Sahara Desert and the cooler air over the Sahel, and as they leave the west coast of Africa they ‘kick start’ the organization of rain shower activity over the tropical eastern Atlantic Ocean.”

You will have to read the E-book to delve more deeply into the mechanics of hurricanes. Here is an excerpt:

If you were to go up inside the eye at the altitude where jets fly, you would find the air temperature there is 10 or 20 deg. F warmer than normal for that altitude. This warmth is caused by air being forced to sink in response to rising air in the showers and thunderstorms surrounding the eye. This ‘subsidence warming’ is a universal feature of all precipitation systems, but only in hurricanes is it highly concentrated into one relatively small area. All of the warm rising air in billowing rain clouds must be exactly matched by sinking air elsewhere, and in the case of hurricanes, that sinking air is most concentrated and intense in the eye of the storm.  For more common rain systems, the warming is much weaker as it is spread over huge areas hundreds or even thousands of miles in diameter. Only a few miles away from the eye is the heavily raining eyewall of the hurricane; this is where the strongest surface winds occur.

Spencer also has a chapter on “The Effect of Sea Level Rise on Hurricane Storm Surge” in which he shows that sea level rise has been mostly if not entirely natural, with no convincing evidence that it has accelerated from human-caused global warming.

Separate from Spencer’s data, Dr. Chris Landsea of NOAA Hurricane Research Division presents at table of Atlantic hurricanes beginning from 1851. You will see that there is no sign of influence by global warming. Landsea has this caveat about the data: “The Atlantic hurricane database (or HURDAT) extends back to 1851. However, because tropical storms and hurricanes spend much of their lifetime over the open ocean – some never hitting land – many systems were “missed” during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries (Vecchi and Knutson 2008). Starting in 1944, systematic aircraft reconnaissance was commenced for monitoring both tropical cyclones and disturbances that had the potential to develop into tropical storms and hurricanes. This did provide much improved monitoring, but still about half of the Atlantic basin was not covered (Sheets 1990). Beginning in 1966, daily satellite imagery became available at the National Hurricane Center, and thus statistics from this time forward are most complete (McAdie et al. 2009).” See data

Back in 1999, Landsea et al. published a paper which found “that multidecadal variability is more characteristic of the region. Various environmental factors including Caribbean sea level pressures and 200mb zonal winds, the stratospheric Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, African West Sahel rainfall and Atlantic sea surface temperatures … show significant, concurrent relationships to the frequency, intensity and duration of Atlantic hurricanes.” (Source)

Dr. Neil Frank, former Director National Hurricane Center:

“Over the past several weeks numerous articles suggest Harvey and Irma were the result of global warming. The concept is a warmer earth will generate stronger and wetter hurricanes. A number of people have said Irma was the most intense hurricane in the history of the Atlantic while Harvey was the wettest and both were good examples of what we can expect in the future because of global warming. What does a fact check reveal about these two hurricanes?”

Frank shows that neither of the above contentions is true, read more.

See also:

Houston’s long history of flooding

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

An examination of the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists