Atmosphere

New Climate Models Fall Short

The IPCC is working up to releasing pieces of its next climate report, starting in 2013. This has the world's climate scientists scrambling to get their latest work included in that dubious document. Foremost among those struggling for primacy of place are the computer modelers, those who study their own created worlds instead of the natural one around them. This report promises to be more contentious than the last one (AR4) in that the modelers have been racing to incorporate the effects of aerosols, soot and other airborne particulates that had previously been give scant attention. Early results suggest that aerosols have a much greater impact on regional climate than scientists had realized and that aerosols and clouds are providing some big surprises.

Flatulosaurus Heats Up the Mesozoic

A new Current Biology paper proposes that the accumulated output of dinosaur flatulence could have changed the global climate during the age of the dinosaurs. Insert dinosaur fart joke here. No, seriously, this is a real report in an actual scientific journal. It just happens to be on a subject that the news media could not resist blowing out of proportion on their best day. Given that much of the CO2 in Earth's atmosphere was emitted by some form of living creature this is a serious area for study by environmental scientists. So after giving the chattering media magpies some time to calm down, here is a more serious take on this heady topic.

Fossil Raindrops and the Faint Young Sun

It is accepted that the ancient Sun was considerably cooler than our local star is today, so much so that Earth a few billion years ago should have been a lifeless frozen ball. But scientists have also shown that the planet was not frozen—shallow seas warmer than any modern ocean abounded with microbial life. A recent study, detailed in the journal Nature, is a good example of the sometimes convoluted, even improbable reasoning is used to get a handle on earthly climates during eons long vanished. Using the fossilized impact dimples from rain drops that fell 2.7 billion years ago, researchers have calculated new limits on the density of Earth's atmosphere. This, in turn, has implications on the development of the ancient atmosphere and what role greenhouse gases may have played in warming the young Earth.

Stop Them, Before They Model Again

Just when it looked like the climate catastrophists had slunk back into well deserved academic obscurity, a new report in the journal Nature Geoscience has resurrected claims of Earth's impending climatic demise. A new computer climate study says to expect increases in temperature of up to 3°C by 2050, confirming or exceed predictions made by the IPCC reports. Can this model based report be considered any more accurate than previous attempts? Have modeling techniques suddenly improved? Or is this report's appearance in a major scientific journal the signal of a renewed round of scaremongering by eco-alarmists?

So Insensitive

The dire results of anthropogenic global warming have become passé. Treated by the news media and climate alarmists as established scientific fact, the IPCC's vision of a dystopian future, a world ravaged by global warming, is feed to our children in school, TV shows and Hollywood movies. What is never mentioned is that even the IPCC's predictions encompass several ranges of possible outcome, all predicated on a seemingly simple but mysterious factor called climate system sensitivity. A recent study, published in the journal Science, used spatially more complete paleoclimate data for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in an effort to improve previous estimates of climate sensitivity. The new results have not been widely reported in the news media because, according to the researchers, “these results imply a lower probability of imminent extreme climatic change than previously thought.”

The IPCC May Have Outlived its Usefulness - An Interview with Judith Curry

As the global warming debate increases in its intensity we find both sides deeply entrenched, hurling accusations and lies at one another in an attempt to gain the upper hand. This divide within the scientific community has left the public wondering who can be trusted to provide them with accurate information and answers.

Any Way The Wind Blows

The climate associated with global oceans undergoes natural variability with many time scales. A recent report in the Journal Science identifies atmospheric blocking over the North Atlantic as a major factor in such variability on time scales as short as a week. The correspondence between blocked westerly winds and warm ocean can be seen in recent decadal episodes, particularly from 1996 to 2010. It also describes much longer time scale Atlantic multidecadal ocean variability (AMV), including the extreme northern warming of the 1930s to 1960s, which predates the rise of human CO2 emissions that alarmists are convinced is causing all recent global warming.

Winter Sun

The impact of solar irradiance variations on Earth’s surface climate has been debated by many in the past. Based on correlations between solar variability and meteorological changes, the Sun-climate link seems obvious but, as is often stated, correlation does not prove causation. Previously, any link was disputed because the amount of energy delivered by the Sun was deemed too small to have a significant impact. New satellite measurements indicate that variations in solar ultraviolet irradiance may be larger than previously thought, forcing a reevaluation of the impact of solar variation. A recent report in the journal Nature Geoscience claims to show just that—a link between the 11 year solar cycle and Northern Hemisphere winters.

Scry Me A River

Nostradamus, the famous prognosticator, was said to have received his visions of the future by scrying—staring into a pool of ink for hours on end. The climate science equivalent of a gazing pool is the computer climate model, huge collections of complicated computer code that supposedly crank out frightening visions of the future. Most of the discussion about climate change has centered on the global aspects of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but now a number of climate mystics are turning their modeling dark arts to doing regional predictions. Why? The better to frighten the public and elicit funding from government coffers. Unfortunately, as climate researchers struggling to sharpen their fuzzy picture of what the future holds one fact has been ignored—there is even more uncertainty in regional models than in the global ones.

The Sun's Hidden Power

No phenomenon in astronomy has been studied more closely than solar flares, gigantic eruptions on the Sun that can affect Earth's climate and even disrupt power grids. Scientists have been watching the Sun with ground based instruments and orbiting satellites for years, so it might be thought that we know a lot about such eruptions. Well think again. A new report from NASA has revealed that, like earthquakes, solar flares often have aftershocks. Moreover, the aftershocks can emit bursts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation more powerful than the original eruption. Combine this new finding with the recently uncovered linkage between fluctuating UV levels and El Niño, and the Sun-Climate connection looks stronger than ever.

A Walk In The Clouds

Given that the Sun powers Earth's climate system and provides the energy for all life on our planet, it should come as no surprise that changes in solar activity can affect climate conditions. Because total solar irradiance varies only slightly, climate scientists have discounted our variable star as a driver of climate change. At the end of the 20th century, Heinrich Svensmark, of the Danish Space Research Institute, and Eigil Friis-Christensen proposed that solar activity may be a controlling factor for climate by changing low level cloud cover. Not surprisingly this idea was disparaged by mainstream climate science, since it would diminish the importance of greenhouse gases, CO2, the IPCC's favorite daemon, in particular. Now, after several years of experimentation at CERN, the preliminary results are in and it looks like Svensmark and Friis-Christensen were right after all.

Climate Science's Tangled Web

Recent days have seen a number of announcements about our changing climate. As it turns out Arctic ice is rebounding, sea levels are dropping and things just are not going according to the IPCC's plan for catastrophic global warming. Faced with reversal after reversal, it might seem logical for mainstream climate scientists to admit that they are wrong, that global warming is not taking place at a breakneck pace, but this has not happened. Instead, climate change apologists are weaving a tangled web of excuses—hot is cold, wet is dry, up is down. No matter what happens to the world we live in, the root cause according to the doomsayers is always the same: it's always global warming's fault.

The Kingdom Of Darkness

North America, after suffering through a lingering cold, wet spring, is now experiencing a bout of record setting summer heat. Once again, the sizzling summer temperatures are being blamed on global warming. The prophets of climate catastrophe claim to be exposing mankind's folly by shining the light of science on humanity's sins against nature. Perhaps it is time to recall the words of Thomas Hobbs who described the Kingdom of Darkness as “nothing else but a confederacy of deceivers that, to obtain dominion over men in this present world, endeavour, by dark and erroneous doctrines, to extinguish in them the light.” With sweltering weather as their cover, minions of the ecological Kingdom of Darkness are again on the march.

Quiet Sun, Deadly Sun

Much fanfare was associated with the reappearance of sunspots earlier this year, marking the beginning of a new period of high solar activity. Now come a number of reports saying the Sun is most likely headed for a prolonged period of low activity, possibly rivaling the Maunder minimum. Three independent studies of the Sun's dynamics all predict that the next solar cycle will be significantly delayed and might even be skipped. The Maunder minimum is associated with a prolonged period of climate cooling known as the Little Ice Age. Whether Earth's climate is headed for a significant cooling trend has become a matter of heated debate, while at the same time NASA is warning that a quite Sun can also be a deadly Sun. In the 1850s, following a period of low sunspot activity, the largest coronal ejection event ever witnessed caused havoc with telegraphs and ship's compasses around the world. Such an ejection today could cause widespread power outages and failure of electronic equipment. Will our star turn both quiet and deadly?

Alaskan Ice

The glaciers of Alaska and northwestern Canada are a major contributor of fresh water to the world's oceans. They have long been considered important contributors to global sea level, but their remoteness has complicated efforts to measure changes in ice mass. As described in a new perspective article, published in the May 27 issue of Science, satellite measurements of Earth's gravitational field and improved on-site measurements have been used to generate global maps of water-mass variation, confirming the large role Alaska glaciers play in global sea-level regulation. Climate change advocates would claim that global warming will melt Alaska's glaciers, flooding low lying countries, but determining the rate at which the glaciers are melting is not a simple thing. Far from solving the puzzle, the new observations are revealing unexpected complexities in the magnitude and rate at which Alaska glaciers respond to climate.

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