Tipping points – easy come, easy go

Yesterday, I highlighted an alarming story from the University of Exeter and East Anglia that saw tipping points behind every rock and tree.

Now today comes a peer reviewed study in Nature Geoscience that says no tipping points are expected from CO2 rise.

What we have here, is “settled science” in action.

From the University of Washington

Atmospheric carbon dioxide buildup unlikely to spark abrupt climate change

There have been instances in Earth history when average temperatures have changed rapidly, as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) over a few decades, and some have speculated the same could happen again as the atmosphere becomes overloaded with carbon dioxide.

New research lends support to evidence from numerous recent studies that suggest abrupt climate change appears to be the result of alterations in ocean circulation uniquely associated with ice ages.

“There might be other mechanisms by which greenhouse gases may cause an abrupt climate change, but we know of no such mechanism from the geological record,” said David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor.

Battisti was part of a team that used a numerical climate model coupled with an oxygen-isotope model to determine what caused climate shifts in a computer-generated episode that mimicked Heinrich events during the last ice age, from 110,000 to 10,000 years ago. Heinrich events produced huge numbers of North Atlantic Ocean icebergs that had broken off from glaciers.

The simulations showed the sudden increase in North Atlantic sea ice cooled the Northern Hemisphere, including the surface of the Indian Ocean, which reduced rainfall over India and weakened the Indian monsoon.

Battisti noted that while carbon dioxide-induced climate change is unlikely to be abrupt, the impacts of changing climate could be.

“When you lose a keystone species, ecosystems can change very rapidly,” he said. “Smoothly retreating sea ice will cause fast warming if you live within a thousand kilometers of the ice. If warming slowly dries already semi-arid places, fires are going to be more likely.”

Previous studies of carbonate deposits from caves in China and India are believed to show the intensity of monsoon precipitation through the ratio of specific oxygen isotopes. The modeling the scientists’ used in the current study reproduced those isotope ratios, and they determined that the Heinrich events were associated with changes in the intensity of monsoon rainfall in India rather than East Asia.

###

The research is published online June 19 by Nature Geoscience. The lead author is Franceso Pausata of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Norway. Besides Battisti, other co-authors are Kerim Nisancioglu of UNI Research in Norway and Cecilia Bitz of the UW.

The work was funded by the Norwegian Research Council and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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48 thoughts on “Tipping points – easy come, easy go

  1. It is portant to stay connected to this blog and get an aggregated POV. Watts puts up article by Warmists and Gloom and Doomists then on another day he’ll put up articles (peer reviewed no less, as if that means anything anymore) which negates the earlier claims. Nice unsettled hodge-podge of argument here.

    What science ought to be. Messy and debated.

  2. David Battisti seems an interesting fellow, with an impressive publication list:

    http://worldsciencefestival.com/participants/david_battisti

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~david/

    Unfortunately, he doesn’t list this pub yet, and the PR piece doesn’t even give a title. Not listed in Nature Geosci June TOC either. He does have a co-author on an Antarctic warming paper by Eric Steig,

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n6/abs/ngeo1129.html

    — which sounds a cautionary note.

    Link/title anyone? TIA, Pete Tillman

  3. Apparently there’s peer-reviewed, then there’s peer-reviewed. The peer-reviewed material has the right answers, whereas the other peer-reviewed material doesn’t. I hope that clears things up.

  4. a model that coupled to another model….

    … meanwhile, back in the real world…… no change, nothing to see, move along.

  5. Meanwhile the BBC reports a new tipping point in the oceans, where the sheer weight of human produced pollution is pushing marine life to total extinction.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13796479

    I think the whales and the North Atlantic cod are not reading the script, since both are making a big comeback. Perhaps they have developed into super-marine life, invincible. A bit like “Jaws”. I can imagine a Hollywood movie now: “Revenge of the super-cod”.

  6. AW This story is massive. I knew it all along that Hathaway and co were rigging the data or trying to make us believe that sun was going up when in fact everybody knew for a fact the opposite

    http://www.climatedepot.com/r/11547/Report-Whistleblower-Outs-NASA-for-Hiding-Data-of-Global-Cooling–NASA-caught-hiding-sunspot-data

    THis could really demolish the whole thing much quicker than thought if MSM takes it on bassically the party is over and maybe we shall see a lot of dismissal etc occuring over coming weeks not years

  7. I feel sorry for Dr. Battisti. He’ll never get one of those cherry positions as an IPCC lead author with that kind of attitude.

  8. woops…..
    Tipping points have been the big scare tactic….
    We can’t predict it, we can’t see it coming, but if we don’t change our ways BANG

    …..then it’s too late

  9. ‘“There might be other mechanisms by which greenhouse gases may cause an abrupt climate change, but we know of no such mechanism from the geological record,” said David Battisti, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor.’

    Genuine physical scientists are finding their voice. Note the word ‘mechanism’ and how it is used. From their research, from the geological record, these scientists know of no mechanism by which CO2 could cause an abrupt climate change. That’s the way genuine physical scientists think and talk. No Warmista would dare use the word ‘mechanism’ or the phrase ‘physical hypothesis’, except to dismiss a question. Warmista do not deal in physical mechanisms or physical hypotheses and they should not because they are not physical scientists.

  10. The counter-arguments are quite convincing, ie, prove it doesn’t work this way.

    BTW: That’s supposed to be sarcasm, but it really isn’t.

  11. So if it is not CO2, what is it? Is just the Sun or something else? It’s Ok it’s just knocking down the alarmists but it’s time to think about another model of climate change. We can not simply critisize but must provide alternative explanations. Yes, the climate does change but where is it going in the next fifty years (not that it matters me but it will to my children and grandchildren)?

  12. @ Ryan:9:39
    I saw that one also, we now have ‘shocking’ points as well as ‘tipping’ points.
    What is ‘shocking’ in a scientific frame please people, this is just too much woolly woolly touchy feely and that a group of ‘scientific experts’ came up with it speaks volumes for modern science. Its gone down the pan.
    Slightly O/T- (A glimpse of stocking used to be something shocking yet 400 people went skinny dipping off Wales yesterday and the BBC have pictures of that)
    What’s the point anyhow of there experts using such words, the only ‘tipping point’ our policy-makers know is that time, while in a flash restaurant in Cancun/Copenhagen or Kyoto maybe, when they feel obligated to bung the waiter a few quid for his effort – at taxpayer’s expense of course.

  13. “The simulations showed the sudden increase in North Atlantic sea ice cooled the Northern Hemisphere, including the surface of the Indian Ocean, which reduced rainfall over India and weakened the Indian monsoon.”

    This is where I questions Svensmark’s Cosmic Ray theory. As is well known, a cooler atmosphere holds less moisture and therefore becomes dryer. In the UK, thanks to the very cold start to the year, we have had one of the driest spring seasons I can remember.

    In the UK, warm South-Westerly breezes off the atlantic bring plenty of gulf stream moisture, clouds are a therefore regular feature of our weather. This spring however we had a prolonged period of cold Northerly and North-Easterly winds. This air was as dry as it was cold. The result being that until the recent change in direction of the prevailing winds and weather patterns we had country wide drought warnings.

    Having worked outdoors for the entire period of the recent so called “global warming” period, I have seen first hand that warmer air does indeed hold more moisture. Again in contradiction to Svensmark’s Cosmic Ray theory, most UK summers are warm, wet, and overcast. We tend to get most of our sunny weather when the atmosphere cools off in the Autumn.

    Yet as I understand Svensmark’s theory, as the sun’s solar output decreases, so the comics ray’s increase causing increased cloud cover leading to global cooling form increased albido.

    But here in this study as quoted above, we see that Northern Hemisphere cooling, which leads to oceanic and atmospheric cooling, actually reduced rainfall over India and weakened the monsoon.

    I have always felt that Svensmark’s theory has cause and effect the wrong way round. I accept that small particles in the air can help to attract and accumulate water vapour, but cold = dry and warm = wet is what observation tells us.

  14. Grumpy Old Man says:
    So if it is not CO2, what is it? Is just the Sun or something else? It’s Ok it’s just knocking down the alarmists but it’s time to think about another model of climate change. We can not simply critisize but must provide alternative explanations. Yes, the climate does change but where is it going in the next fifty years (not that it matters me but it will to my children and grandchildren)?

    Why must we provide alternative explanations? Does the lack of alternative explanations make AGW automatically correct? Or is it possible that WE SIMPLY DON’T KNOW?

  15. “Franceso Pausata of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Norway..”

    What? Bjerknes Centre? What a surprise! Very strange.

    Could it be connected to the fact that the Norwegian government seems to slowly admit that the Mongstad gas powerplant cannot be a “zero CO2 emitter” ? ….could that be it?

  16. What I really want to know by what mechanism they get increasing N hemisphere sea ice extent.

    And is not S hemisphere already expanding? Why does everyone ignore Antarctica?

    Will says:
    June 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Will in this case you are describing local weather patterns for the U.K.

    For example here in California, it is just the opposite. When it is hot, it is dry, and when it is cold, it is wet. Our cold wet weather comes straight out of the Gulf of Alaska….not exactly a warm region. When we get high pressure in the right place to block the lows coming off the Pacific, it heats up and hot dry air comes off the Continental interior. It must just be the opposite for the U.K.

    The obvious question is that if colder=drier, where do all those glaciers come from in an “ice age?”

  17. ‘the same could happen again as the atmosphere becomes overloaded with carbon dioxide.’

    And what does this mean exactly? Overloaded in whose opinion? What level of CO2 is the ‘right’ one? Surely all the evidence from market gardeners growing veg in greenhouses indicates that more CO2 is better for plants and better for us in the long run. I really wish some warmist somewhere would give us the definitive ‘correct’ level of CO2! Some religious people believe in a literal Garden of Eden where all was perfect. It seems that warmists believe in something similar – a state of global grace where, at some undefined time in the past, all was in perfect balance – the right amount of CO2, the right amount of ice at the poles etc. So when was this and what were those mythical ‘right’ amounts??? Anyone??

  18. Grumpy Old Man says:
    June 20, 2011 at 10:21 am
    “So if it is not CO2, what is it? Is just the Sun or something else? It’s Ok it’s just knocking down the alarmists but it’s time to think about another model of climate change. We can not simply critisize but must provide alternative explanations. Yes, the climate does change but where is it going in the next fifty years?”

    This is the classic error in Scientific Method. The person who proposes a new hypothesis and the critic of that hypothesis are not in symmetric positions. To criticize a hypothesis, you do not have to offer another to replace it. Science is the critical enterprise par excellence. The good scientist who puts forth a new hypothesis does so for the purposes of (A) informing other scientists about his synthetic insight and (B) inviting criticism of his hypothesis. The proposing scientist will be the harshest critic of his own work and he will eagerly assist others as they criticize it. There are two ways that a new hypothesis can be successful. Through the work of many scientists, it can become reasonably well-confirmed and constitute an addition to scientific knowledge, though it is always subject to disconfirmation. The other way is that the hypothesis can be found to conflict with experience and then rejected or revised. In the case of rejection, the achievement is that this path is found to be one that is likely a dark alley.

    As regards the practical question, (1) please do not assume that there is climate change (everything looks perfectly normal to me) and (2) no one has a clue where we are going in fifty years, but maybe climate science will be out of its infancy in fifty years.

  19. peterhodges says:
    June 20, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Peter, the UK is a very small lush green Island. It has no dry continental interior. The weather I have described in my original post is anything but local.

    Your interpretation of wet weather may well differ somewhat from mine.

    It is a fact that warmer air holds more moisture, yet you seem to be implying otherwise. But warmer air that has come from a desert is obviously not going to contain much moisture is it!

    California is sandwiched between the ocean and the desert and Rockies. I would be surprised if air flowing East from the continental interior contained much moisture at all. I think in your case you could describe it as local weather. In the UK, if it is warm and wet from the South-West we call it gulf-stream weather and if dry and cold from the North=East we call it Siberian weather.

    I know California well enough to say that any wet weather will seem cooler because most days are sunny and dry. This is because you are on the West coast and the Earth is turning West to East. Therefore most of your weather comes from the continental interior and contains little moisture.

    In East coast areas like Florida or Islands and land masses where the weather comes from the ocean, higher temperatures are usually accompanied by higher humidity. The globe has 70% of the surface covered in oceans, therefore I don’t think it is misleading to say that warm = wet and cold = dry. As this is the case for most of the world. Places like California being the exception.

    This is attested to by the study in question, in the following quote:

    “The simulations showed the sudden increase in North Atlantic sea ice cooled the Northern Hemisphere, including the surface of the Indian Ocean, which reduced rainfall over India and weakened the Indian monsoon.”

    It is as I have said, the reason I question Svensmak’s Cosmic Ray hypothesis.

    With regards your point: “The obvious question is that if colder=drier, where do all those glaciers come from in an “ice age?”

    If snow does not melt away because it is too cold, It will accumulate over many hundreds of thousands of years, remember the ice-cores? This process of glaciation is from the poles towards the equator. I’m not saying there will be no clouds or precipitation in a colder climate.

  20. Will – good to see that someone is observing rather than simply opening their mouth to be spoonfed whatever our politicians want us to swallow.

    I think, however, you have confused two things. The periodic change in the earth’s inclination to the sun produces the seasons but is not a measure for solar radiation or magnetic changes at the sun.

    On the other hand the solar cycles can change independently of the seasons on earth.

    Prolonged periods of clouds result in decreasing temperatures despite their nighttime thermostat action. Believe me we saw that here in Queensland where we rarely saw the sun from November 2010 to April 2011 – we rarely ran our air conditioner but the savings in electricity were moderated by the necessity to run clothes dryers.

  21. Ryan says:
    June 20, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I think the whales and the North Atlantic cod are not reading the script, since both are making a big comeback. Perhaps they have developed into super-marine life, invincible. A bit like “Jaws”. I can imagine a Hollywood movie now: “Revenge of the super-cod”.

    References? I was not aware the cod is making a big come back. Good story, if true.

  22. Grumpy Old Man says:
    June 20, 2011 at 10:21 am

    …(not that it matters me but it will to my children and grandchildren)?

    Don’t you see the mistake you are making?

    The climate never mattered to us when we were children; why should it matter to them?

  23. Oh my, Will. When you are in a hole, stop digging. When you are making a fool of yourself, stop typing.

    “I know California well enough to say that any wet weather will seem cooler because most days are sunny and dry. This is because you are on the West coast and the Earth is turning West to East. Therefore most of your weather comes from the continental interior and contains little moisture.”

    Do you not even know such simple facts as which way the Jet Stream in the NH blows? Have you never even looked at a synoptic chart of the North Pacific? Your lack of knowledge about such simple facts is jaw dropping.

  24. Will @10:46 —

    Your cold=dry, wet=moist meme has not held up here on the west coast of North America. In Vancouver it has been cold-to-cool since September, and damnably wet. Grey, miserable drizzle almost incessantly. We may need some rethinking of that meme.

  25. Dear Mr. Hultquist,

    I wish I could be as charitable toward Will as you. However, his sentence seems to describe more than the Santa Ana winds.

    Here in extreme northern California, also known as Oregon, on the West Coast of the North American Continent,
    our weather, summer and winter, comes almost exclusively from the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific is pretty cold, and that’s why our West Coast weather is nice, and damp, and cool. Even in LA, the moisture comes from the Pacific to cool things off. And folks in San Francisco, or Sacramento, for that matter, would be greatly surprised to have any weather arriving from the center of the continent.

  26. Don’t you see the mistake you are making?

    The climate never mattered to us when we were children; why should it matter to them?
    ========================================================================================
    It matters to them as far as I can tell because they are being indoctrinated in schools about global warming/climate change and it is happening because their parents are causing it. Blame Greenpeace!

  27. A GOOGLE search using the term: Whales making a comeback brings up several links all positive, such as:

    Thrilling and unexpected observations published in early January 2009 reported unusually large numbers of North Atlantic Right Whales in the Gulf of Maine off the northern New England Coast (USA). Aerial surveys saw 44 individuals on December 3, 2008 about 70 miles south of Bar Harbor, Maine, when a typical daily observation at this time is 3 to 5 Right Whales. On December 4, 2008, three Right Whales were seen 80 miles east of Gloucester, Massachusetts, (an area east of where this author led whale watches some years ago); and on December 14, 41 Right Whales were observed just west of Jordan Basin.

    We can cautiously smile. The North Atlantic Right Whale has proven more resilient than whale biologists thought but this is no time to relax. http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/ecology/north-atlantic-right-whales/8091

    http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=979&bih=475&q=whales+making+a+comeback&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=

  28. Will
    I also praise you for using observation. But it has its limitations, and UK weather patterns are not a useful model. Here in New Zealand, for example, we have a largely maritime climate but the degree of variation – compared to the UK – would make your head spin. Almost without exception, however, when it is warm, it is dry. The cooler, winter months are by far the wettest. Or should I say ‘have the highest precipitation’, because they bring metres of snow to the southern Alps. The summers in alpine Central Otago are very hot and very dry. Where I live, in the north island, the climate is maritime sub tropical but the pattern is the same. 2010/2011’s combination of La NIna and PDO has lead to a strange divergence between us and Aus. They’ve had awful weather – cold and wet – while we have had the longest Indian summer on record. It’s midwinter’s day tomorrow and I’m going fishing – it’lll be 17C, sunny and still.

    Which brings me to fish. Not sure about the comeback Cod or even whales. But I do know exactly why the cod and other species disappeared around the British coasts from when I fished for them as a boy.

    Anyway, here in NZ, the sea fishing is getting better and better. (trout fishing is the opposite due to the dairy boom and pollutions, but that’s another story). And it wasn’t bad to start with. Snapper numbers are unbelievable, and many are good 2kg+ fish. Huge numbers of juvenile KIngfish (can’t wait till they grow over winter). This summer, the number of blue penguins floating around the Hauraki Gulf was astronomical, with fledglings in tow. (Anecdotally, they appear to have eaten themselves out of existence, with a lot of dead and sick young ones getting washed up. Nature takes no prisoners.)

    All this, just out from one of the biggest cities in the southern hemisphere. If we’ve reached a tipping point, it seems to be upwards.

  29. Not one but two models coupled together!! All these guys in climate science are so good with the models, why don’t they use those modeling skills and build a stock market model and make some real cash?

  30. Wayne Richards says:
    June 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Mike Fox says:
    June 20, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/1999-10/940285087.Es.r.html

    Orkneygal says:
    June 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Who is talking about Jet streams?

    The only fools are those with no questions.

    Ross says:
    June 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I appreciate your response, thank you. Unfortunately you have completely missed my point. Please see the link above.

    It is a fact that warm air can hold more water vapour than cool air, which I feel, exposes a weakness in the Svensmark hypothesis resulting from a misunderstanding of cause and effect.

    As I understand Svensmark:

    Increased solar output = fewer cosmic rays which = fewer clouds and therefore less albido.

    My understanding is:

    Increased solar output = warmer atmosphere and ocean which = increased evaporation which = increased precipitation and cloud cover / albido.

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/futurepsc.html#precipitation

  31. If warming slowly dries already semi-arid places, fires are going to be more likely.”

    until there is nothing that grows that can burn.

  32. Will, UR witless. More water vapour in the air does NOT lead directly to more precipitation, etc. Ever hear of Relative Humidity? Warmer air holds more water quite happily. Doesn’t dump it unless hit by a large mass of COLD air.

    Clouds form preferentially when there are little thingies for the water vapour to condense onto. More cosmic rays make more little thingies in the air. Less CR makes less thingies. Does ums git it yit?

  33. Brian Hall says:
    June 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Cloud formation, or condensation of water vapour if you prefer, is caused by a lowering of temperature and pressure. Which is why clouds predominantly form at around 5000m.

    Is there a large dense band of little thingies that has formed at 5000m Brian?

    I see your logic has not improved much since I last spoke with you Brian. Neither has your ability to communicate.

  34. Of course this is mostly based on models. If we don’t believe models that don’t give us the results we like, we shouldn’t believe models that give results we DO like, without validating all the models. I take this with as much a grain of salt as any other model simulation.

  35. To Peter D. Tillman

    I’m Francesco S.R. Pausata. You can find the title in the list of publication in Battisti website! It’s an online advance publication and here is the link

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo1169.html

    We barely mention the CO2 in our paper in the last sentence and anyway as a speculation:
    “That dynamics internal to the climate system can create changes in the Indian monsoon comparable to that associated with large orbital forcing makes us reconsider what the climate system may be capable of doing in response to more modest forcing, such as increasing greenhouse gases.”

    Our study doesn’t have anything to do with tipping points!!! David was only presenting our work saying that CO2 rising is slow(er) compared to the abrupt climate change we studied …etc etc …

    It also true that from the geological record we are not aware of mechanism link to CO2 increase since we never experienced on the Earth history (as far as the records go back!!) such a fast co2 increase!

    FSR

  36. On the last paragraph I meant:

    We are not aware in case of such a rapid CO2 increase during interglacial condition …. since we never had a similar case before on Earth … it doesn’t mean we can exclude an abrupt climate change …we just don’t know from geological record!

  37. Will says:
    June 21, 2011 at 4:42 am

    As I understand Svensmark:

    Increased solar output = fewer cosmic rays which = fewer clouds and therefore less albido.

    My understanding is:

    Increased solar output = warmer atmosphere and ocean which = increased evaporation which = increased precipitation and cloud cover / albido.

    The two processes aren’t mutually exclusive.

  38. Gilbert says:
    June 24, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Just one year prior to Hansen testifying to congress in 1988, that he was 99% certain that manmade global warming was occurring, from the New Scientist:

    Title: Towards a cold greenhouse

    Bottom left of the page.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=0uLgn2nma4EC&pg=PA31&lpg=PA31&dq=toward+a+cold+greenhouse&source=bl&ots=hIVERC4gSO&sig=ccrvey1IXQhWlAJUK4L4s7XEO_o&hl=en&ei=HlPuTdjXIrLTiALs7K31AQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q&f=false

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