New paper and stunning video from the Space Station – UHI much?

Professor Ross McKitrick has just released a new paper on UHI, after reading it, it reminds me of this video from the space station. Weather stations exist in the points of light that define humanity at night, even in rural out of the way places, like the Arctic, where there’s a point of light, indicating humanity and energy use, you’ll likely find a weather station used to monitor climate. Like the dark, humans don’t like the cold either, so where there’s light, there’s heat.

Ross McKitrick writes:

I have released a new discussion paper addressing some ongoing issues in the analysis of surface temperature data and its potential contamination by non-climatic local changes. It is not meant to be the last word, so much as a glimpse of what the last word might sound like when it is eventually spoken.


http://www.uoguelph.ca/economics/sites/uoguelph.ca.economics/files/2012-02.pdf

ENCOMPASSING TESTS OF SOCIOECONOMIC SIGNALS IN SURFACE CLIMATE DATA

Abstract: The debate over whether urbanization and related socioeconomic developments affect large-scale surface climate trends is stalemated with incommensurable arguments. Each side can appeal to supporting statistical evidence based on data sets that do not overlap, yielding inferences that merely conflict with but do not refute one another. I argue that such debates can only be resolved in an encompassing framework, in which both types of results can be demonstrated on the same data set, in such a way that apparent support for one conclusion occurs as a restricted case of a more general specification that supports the other, and where the restrictions can be tested. The issues under debate make such data sets challenging to construct, but I give two illustrative examples. First, insignificant differences in warming trends in urban temperature data between windy and calm conditions are shown in a restricted model whose general form shows temperature data to be strongly affected by local population growth. Second, an apparent equivalence between trends in a data set stratified by a static measure of urbanization is shown to be a restricted finding in a model whose general form indicates significant influence of local socioeconomic development on temperatures.

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69 thoughts on “New paper and stunning video from the Space Station – UHI much?

  1. No doubt there has been some effect of urban crawl on land temperature measurements.

    But sometimes I think we fail to see the woods for the trees, I say this, because the whole concept of weighting land and ocean measurements based on surface area is flawed.

    We have about 30% of the globe covered by land, but the oceans contain about 15 times the amount of thermal energy that is in the land surfaces I understand. Whatever the exact ratio is, I would suggest that should be the way we weight land v. ocean temperatures.

    This would better reflect what I call the “thermal inertia” of the oceans compared with the land. You can see the reason for this if you visualise a more extreme example. Suppose that the whole system were represented by a sheet of paper and a sheet of somewhat thicker iron having the same area as the paper. Would that “climate” be governed equally by the paper and the iron? Hardly.

    So, by all means fine tune the land measurements with some adjustment for urban crawl if there are reasons for such crawl being at a lower rate in the future. But weight your end result such that all land only counts about 6% to 7% rather than 30%. So your urban crawl adjustments may not be worth all the trouble after all.

  2. I suppose that when the day comes when the whole world has been urbanised, this topic will become irrelevant.

  3. Amazing as Carl Sagan said “Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred.”

  4. Extraordinary video. A good reminder that, even if we are not (as yet?) catastrophically screwing up the climate our presence and effect on the Earth is considerable.
    Notwithstanding the extent to which environmentalism been hi-jacked, fundamentally the principles are sound. One of the great tragedies of the CAGW scare is that it’s demise may have far-reaching and damaging effects on the way we treat our planet.

  5. What a lot of lightning there is around the place – and Israel looks to be so bright at night that one wonders if the Three Kings would be able to see any stars, new or otherwise, nowadays!

  6. There is a book called ‘Dirt – The Erosion of Civilisations’ (Dirt being the Americanisation of what Europeans might call ‘soil’ or especially ‘topsoil’)
    For anyone with any sort of interest in agriculture, it has got to be required reading. It is admittedly alarmist but, the scary thing is, by keeping your eyes open and your brain in gear plus a bit of elementary history, anyone can see and verify what the book says.
    My current fave theory is that – the farmers did it – and they had no choice. This is always the case since the hunter/gatherers started staying at home and bureaucracy came into existence.
    As a slight aside…… cultivation and ploughing especially are ‘the problem’ described in the book. The topsoil is disturbed and basically, has nothing else to do but get washed away. Classic example= look at any pictures of reported floods and what do you see?
    Brown water.
    Floodwater should not be brown and is so because of all the topsoil its carrying away. Historic floods were crystal clear. Humanity’s problem is that its soils are being washed away faster than they’re being replaced. To really break your heart, check out what happened on Easter Island.

    Back to my new theory on warming and CO2.
    Q. What do farmers do?
    A. Plough their field(s) in spring.
    Why? Apart from the obvious burying of weeds and stuff, a lot of it is ‘to warm the soil up
    In my part of the world, they’re actually covering fields with clear plastic in order to grow ‘forage maize’ for dairy cows. Bizarre.
    Hence the farmers, (read= rural population) are doing all they can to warm their fields so that their crops grow faster/better.
    Plus, modern crops, until well established leave lots of dark coloured earth between the rows. More solar absorption and especially in the spring/early summertime when the sun is getting to its hottest.
    Add that to the existing Urban Heat Island effect plus, note that ‘industrial scale ploughing only really took off after WWII, when a lot of graphs showing rising CO2/temps have their (xy) origin.
    Next, ploughing (topsoil) releases vast amounts of CO2.

    http://ecosystemghg.ceh.ac.uk/docs/2006andOlder/DEFRA_Report_2004_Section3.pdf

    This document refers to a place quite near me and measures 10 tons per hectare per year. Run that over 1.5 billion Ha of worldwide land under cultivation and you get a lot of CO2. I’ve seen estimates of CO2 release at over 10 times that for very peaty soils, drained swamps etc.

    Hopefully you see what I’m getting at.. the farmers are doing their level best to heat their land, it releases huge amounts of CO2 in the process plus, the timescale is about right. The SUVs and coal stations may have impact but I’m guessing that ‘Worldwide Farming Inc’ is the real reason for the supposed CAGW. The guilt trip rules and is allied to a general lack of self-confidence in (western) societies generally. Another theory of mine says that alcohol consumption is a contributory cause to that.

    Thanks for reading.

  7. What a great Video. Man is awesome, imagine a kangaroo doing that!

    What it does show is how much cloud there is out there.

    Do those IPCC knuckle heads include clouds in their models???

  8. *****
    Pete in Cumbria UK says:
    February 7, 2012 at 4:11 am

    The topsoil is disturbed and basically, has nothing else to do but get washed away. Classic example= look at any pictures of reported floods and what do you see?
    Brown water.
    Floodwater should not be brown and is so because of all the topsoil its carrying away. Historic floods were crystal clear.

    ****

    Quite true. When I lived in a forested area, there not only wasn’t any “mud” in floodwaters, there wasn’t any floodwaters at all unless the water table came above the stream banks.

    Now, I must say, here in communist MD they have regulated stream-bank intrusion & require buffer-zones of vegetation. This has helped a great deal in my nearby forest-farm mix of land areas & helped reduce the “mud”, tho it’s still obvious in the more serious floods. The water in my border stream is usually quite clear & supports a large population of brown trout, blue-gills, suckers & crayfish (even a couple muskrats, snapping turtles & green & great-blue herons).

  9. Anthony:
    Can you give Ross’s paper its own thread? It looks to be a very clever, rigorous and robust approach to a fundamental issue and hopefully will set a standard that future research will need to follow.

  10. Wow! What a job to have a view like that out of your office window. Three cheers for the good ol’ US of A for the ISS, and more generally their positive attitude instead of the stifling bureaucracy and political correctness that burdens so much of business in Europe.

    Anyway, leaving aside the obvious population centres and energy usage on Planet Earth, the worst aspect revealed by the video is the obvious light pollution. Just when are we going to deal with this shocking waste of energy and the impact the light leakage has on everyone’s view of the night sky.

  11. A wonderful earth view…”those were the days my friend”… a view now only possible for russians and chinese. A kind of “electric earth” where global warmers, climate changers, “greens” and all those opposed to progress will make it blackout, to achieve their most cherished goal of a complete deprived of live planet.

  12. Pete in Cumbria UK says:
    February 7, 2012 at 4:11 am
    Another theory of mine says that alcohol consumption is a contributory cause to that.
    ________________________________
    Alcohol contributes to the warming, or the theory?
    /

  13. I’ve read the discussion paper and can recommend it. (Aside of the use of “insignificant” instead of “non-significant”, which I’ve already nit-picked.)

    An important observation in the paper is that if you use the wrong measure of urbanisation, you can demonstrate that, if anything, rural sites have a higher temperature trend than urban sites. But as McKitrick points out, such an observation is actually expected if there is a UHI effect, because the rural sites are further down the classic “log population-temp bias” relationship.

  14. Pete in Cumbria UK says:
    February 7, 2012 at 4:11 am

    [It’s the farming, stupid.]

    Absolutely a big factor. In addition, in many cases lots of trees and other plants were cut down to make way for farming. Not only do we have a big source, but we reduce the possible sinks.

  15. Peter in Cumbria/beng…
    I challenge the assertion that flood waters were clear, and are now brown due to all the topsoil being washed away. The Mississippi River has flowed brown as far back as I can remember, 365 days a year. Many rivers in the southern U.S. are normally brown. If that was from topsoil, it would have been depleted centuries ago.

  16. What a refreshing dip in a clear concise statistical tour de force. When real scientists do statistical analysis, it looks like this paper. What a marvelous exposition!

    Thank you very much for your efforts!

  17. Floodwater should not be brown and is so because of all the topsoil its carrying away. Historic floods were crystal clear.

    I grew up in Missouri, and I know the smell I’m getting here ain’t from topsoil. In other words, this is a complete load of crap. Not bull crap, but horse crap, to boot.

  18. The International Space Station caught a cloud-free eastern seaboard of the US. The spacecraft tracked up from New Orleans to Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, Boston, Montreal, Halifax and finally past St John’s Newfoundland.

  19. Off on a tangent, but…….

    The floodwater turbidity depends on the source of the floodwater (not surprisingly). During last year’s record Missouri River flood, the water clarity at Omaha was much better than normal. This was due to the source being snowmelt from the mountains and having an opportunity to “settle” through the six reservoirs in Montana and the Dakotas.

    Other Missouri River floods, where the water came from heavy rains downstream of the major reservoir system, were very brown.

  20. I live in a remote rural area about 50km from a small city. My car thermometer which being honest isn’t a great thermometer but it still gives a close reading on what the temperature is outside always shows the city to be a degree to 3 degrees more than outside the city, this reading is the same if I begin my journey from the city or home and there is no change in elevation.

    Another thing you tend to notice is that snow melts faster in urban areas than rural, and I mean on rooftops and other hard to clear areas.

  21. Off-topic Anthony, but of interest to readers!

    [snip . . tips&notes is the place to repeat this]

  22. Jack Savage says:
    February 7, 2012 at 3:08 am
    One of the great tragedies of the CAGW scare is that it’s demise may have far-reaching and damaging effects on the way we treat our planet.

    So long as we pay our carbon taxes we are not damaging the environment. We have paid for our sins (at least in BC) and are therefore absolved. Everyone knows it was CO2 and acidification that wiped out the salmon and cod fisheries. Now we are paying our CO2 taxes they will come back and with them all the jobs lost.

    I hear that Canada fisheries alone employs 5000 scientists to guard the largely extinct salmon and cod. No one is actually employed fishing, but we have a lot of scientist paid to guard the spots where fish once lived. Every year the scientists assure us that next year the fish will return. They have studied the question and are sure of the answer. The answer is always, next year.

  23. OT, But to say flood waters were clear before agriculture is to deny a very large portion of the erosion that defines the topography of this planet and frankly insane. We now return you to reality and Ross McKitrick.

  24. Pete in Cumbria UK says:
    February 7, 2012 at 4:11 am
    Another theory of mine says that alcohol consumption is a contributory cause to that.

    I’ll drink to that.

  25. Tom in Florida says it’s amazing to be able to realize that the envelope of atmosphere is so tiny. It’s probably worse than you think. What you’re seeing in the video as a bright band that looks like it might be the edge of the atmosphere is airglow, light from excited atoms and molecules which occurs at similar altitudes to aurorae (80km++). This is far above where most of the air in the atmosphere is. Notice how the clouds (even the tropical thunderstorms) appear pretty much flat against the surface of the earth. Nearly all the air and all the weather is within a few km of the surface. There really isn’t very much of it! Sobering stuff indeed.

  26. Erosion is an ongoing, natural process. There’s a reason we only have a few inches of topsoil in most places, and not several feet. (And that reason is not because the earth is only 10K years old.)

    Yes, farmers have accelerated erosion in many places, but to say flood waters were clear before farming is baseless. Remember all the accounts of Lewis and Clark and the clear, clean waters of the Missouri? No?

  27. @John says:
    February 7, 2012 at 7:31 am
    Well, at least he said this ain’t the last word. ;^) And for the “farming is the cause” crowd, note that we have the options of farming and warming or not farming and starving.
    As an aside: I’m sure the Colorado River ran clear until those aboriginals along the rim of the Grand Canyon started planting corn.

  28. Seeing the lightning reminds me… it seems like I read ages ago that one could rather easily record lightning strikes all over the world with very simple equipment… and that the number of lightning strikes increases as temperature increases… so has anyone, anywhere kept track over the last twenty or thirty years? It seems to me that a graph showing global lightning strikes would be much more reliable than thousands of weather stations, each corrupted in their own way.

  29. Return to caves.
    Wear animal skins.
    Eat food raw and cold.
    Lighting by fireflies.
    Plant by hand.
    Walk everywhere.

    Hansen, Branson, and Gore…
    YOU FIRST !

    It’s really “HOT” being a modern Homo Sapiens…
    and that’s the way it is…

  30. “Amazing as Carl Sagan said “Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred.””

    Which he went on to demonstrate quite well when he tried to claim the Persian Gulf would suffer years of decreased sunlight due to Saddam’s torching of oil wells.

  31. Nigel Harris says:
    February 7, 2012 at 7:40 am
    “Nearly all the air and all the weather is within a few km of the surface. There really isn’t very much of it! Sobering stuff indeed.”

    Sobering indeed. Only about 6 miles (10km) thick. Imagine a place near you that is only 6 miles (10km) away, now take the horizontal line to that place and make it vertical. That’s all there is.

  32. “Historic floods were crystal clear.”

    Balderdash and poppycock. Two words: “Nile flood”.

    AFAIK, neither the Ohio nor the Mississippi have EVER been clear waters, either historically or in legends.

  33. The BBC, who use the UK Met Office data for their weather forecasts, have routinely been stating that where overnight temperatures in London may be -1 deg C that in the rural areas outside it will be -6 or -7 deg C.

    That difference in temperature of 5 or 6 deg C represents a massive energy release / loss in urban centres like London. With forecasting like that based on temperature readings how come the Met Office (and I think the BBC) only take UHI to be a degree or less?

    Tonight i’ve been told it seems to be heading towards -10 to -13 deg C, pretty cold for England, although I imagine London will be around -2 or -3 at worst.

  34. So, UHI is an accepted theory, but there is no chance that using billions of tons of oil, coal, etc releasing enormous amounts of CO2 won’t cause any problems. I would claim this is the pot calling the kettle black.

    Not to mention that when temperature records are reviewed, we look at anomolies from the long term trend, not absolute temperatures. So if UHI merely increased the local temperature, we wouldn’t see a long term increase in temperature… of course, we do see long term increases so UHI is not the culprit.

  35. Sensor operator says:
    February 7, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I call shenanigans on that statement. UHI is real. Urbanization doesn’t happen overnight. It can take a few decades to convert a more rural or even suburban area to urban. That slow growth adds a little more of the UHI each year until it has become a full-blown “urban” heat island. Therefore, your logic is flawed. In simplistic terms, think of UHI as the feeling on your feet when walking barefoot. Walk 15 steps on a lawn and then 15 steps on a driveway or road paved with asphalt during a sunny summer day. Care to bet which one will clearly demonstrate an increased heat capacity? It is that considerable difference in heat capacity that causes the UHI effect.

    Also, for most of us skeptics, it’s not that CO2 has no effect. It’s more of an argument about degree (no pun intended). I, like many others here, believe that the amount of warming attributed to CO2 is purposely overestimated.

  36. Pete in Cumbria UK says:
    February 7, 2012 at 4:11 am …

    What documentation do you have that “historic floods were crystal clear”?

  37. As someone who has flown from several of these airports and past by a couple more, they are really not in a “urban area”. Check out mapquest or equivalent. Many are miles from downtown and have two or more sides open to non-developed areas.

    I’m still not sure this allows Hansen to adjust a cooling trend in cities, per CG2 e-mail # 1057

    Everybody wants to add an estimate of what UHI bias might be into their error bars, but it seems to me that rather than trust folk lore that there is a uhi bias, they first need to find one systematically in the network. Until they do that, the former is just hand waving to appease the know-littles. Jim Hansen adjusts his urban stations (based on night-lights) to nearby rural stations, but if I recall correctly (I’ll send that paper shortly), he warms the trend in 42 percent of the urban stations indicating that nearly half have an urban cold bias. Yet error analyzers want to add a one sided extra error bar for uhi…..
    Regards,
    Tom

    Peter Thorne Climate Research Scientist

  38. The light in that video is exaggerated using extremely sensitive sensors and various zoom techniques that enhance the light emitted from the earths surface.

    Like looking at a swarm of fire flies through a pair of powerful binoculars.

  39. Re: Clear floodwater. Maybe I gilded the lily a bit there, certainly farming in/on river valleys depends on silt being washed down. What I said was based that on two things. One being a quote from the ‘Dirt’ book about settlers moving west across the USA and the other from the fact that the ‘Yellow River’ in China used to be called something else entirely.
    Also, and as the Dirt book explains and people here have fallen into exactly that trap – these things happen over multi-generational timescales. In the same way that a present day resident of Easter Island has no idea about how the stone statues got where they are, does anyone REALLY know what colour the Missouri/Mississippi/Ohio rivers ran 500 years ago when they were in flood?
    I’m not on a farmer bashing exercise, not least because I am one, it just dawned on me that it might be an alternative explanation for the current hysteria about rising global temperatures and simultaneous increases in CO2 levels. I’m wondering out loud if there is the possibility that even very rural thermometers are not reading what people think they are.
    My 50 year farming experience actually points to a deterioration of climate. Whether that is cooling or not is wide open to debate but if we ask a warmist we know what the answer will.
    E.G. 40 years ago as a kid, I helped neighbours to harvest wheat around here. Nobody has done that for 30+years now. 20 years ago, myself and neighbours grew barley – it has a shorter season. Now only winter barley has any chance of timely planting time and decent weather for harvest. 30 years ago, on the last weekend of May, the local Young Farmers Club used on of my fields as a carpark for their annual fundraising BBQ. Riding an ATV across that field is dodgy at that time of year now. Also now, it is a serious struggle just to maker a few bales of hay, there aren’t the number a consecutive dry days needed any more. Even making silage with 800HP machines at 10 acres per hour is a rush before the weather turns the fields into quagmires. Something is going on.
    Further to my ‘dark soils’ idea, something else that has darkened the rural environment is the use of nitrogen fertilizer – crops given plenty of nitrogen are a much darker shade of green than under nourished crops. Again, this is something that ‘took off’ after WWII.
    So, my theory expands to= farmers are keeping the planet warm (are now winter temps in the USA decreasing at 3’F per decade as we read here recently) and that the current ‘pause’ in global temperature rise might be explained by the much increased use of ‘no till’ agriculture (esp in the USA) to plant and raise GM and Roundup Ready crops.
    Lots to think about innit……..

  40. It seems to me a comprehensive review of all the ways that urban areas affect the energy balance of the planet is what is required.
    1) How do urban areas affect local albedo, and how does this change from country to country? (i.e. rooftop colors, and the types of materials used in roads and parking lots changes from country to country). Urban areas with large square footages of white rooftops will (just as ice in the Arctic) reflect more SW back into space, and thus, not generate as much LW radiation.
    2) How much heat is actually generated by urban areas, rather than simply being absorbed SW in those areas? Blacktop and dark rooftops actually absorb solar SW radiation, so this does not create any additional heat globally, however, some actual heat is generated by power plants, cars, trucks, etc. This non-solar heat that is generated in urban areas mostly comes from the burning of fossil fuels, but also certainly some comes from nuclear power plants and thus is also heat in to earth’s system that is not directly solar. It is this non-solar derived heat from urban areas that could contribute to global temperatures.
    3) Once some average amount of heat generated by a certain square mile of urban area (averaged over the whole planet, as it will vary from country to country) can be calculated, then this would represent an additional external forcing on the climate system globally, as this heat certainly isn’t just going to disappear in the wind, but will be spread globally. Whatever this figure is currently for the global UHI contribution in w/m2 should then be compared to the w/m2 in forcing that the additional greenhouse gas concentrations add above the pre-industrial levels to get an idea of scale. It could turn out that the global contribution from UHI is quite small compared to the forcing from anthropogenic greenhouse gases, or it could be substantial. Either way, it would be interesting to compare the two.

    One interesting final thought—the excess heat generated in urban areas, that is, heat that is not just LW that was converted from solar SW, but truly generated by activities in urban areas like from factories, cars, etc. is primarily energy that was buried underground millions of years ago in the form of organic matter, which was of course converted sunlight. Thus, in converting this “ancient sunlight” from fossil fuels into heat, we are actually creating more entropy (i.e. heat) today. Our urban areas are really very large factories that convert usable energy (stored sunlight from millions of years ago) into non-usable energy (i.e. entropy). To what level this creation of waste heat adds an additional external forcing to the system on top of the forcing from the additional greenhouse gases is of interest here.

  41. That ‘stunning video from space’ seems to me to show the curvature of the Earth to be small while also showing the atmosphere also to be small.

    Is this a photographic trick or is it an accurate representation of the size of the Earth and the atmosphere?

  42. For me one of the most interesting findings was shown on figure 3. This shows, on the assumption that the relationship between urban warning and population is logarithmic, that a small but growing population could have a higher rate of perceived warming due to UHI than a large population growing at a similar relative rate. The conclusion that UHI studies need to consider population growth is an important one. That major temperature series do not do this but, in so far as they account for UHI, do so on the assumption that stations are classified for once and for all.

    I have two further comments. Firstly the use of monthly data might mask important effects. There are of course great variations from place to place but in general wind speed is highest at the time of day when temperatures are at a maximum and lowest at the time of minimum temperatures. Secondly on all the graphs temperatures are higher in windy conditions. It is possible that wind and non-windy months come from different populations.

  43. I noticed that the paper included Edmonton’s international airport as obviously “urban”. But, it is located well outside the built-up area of the city and temperatures there are lower than within the city (as measured by a vehicle thermometer when driving into or out of the city).

  44. R. Gates:

    Both number’s one and two of your point arrive at this destination: They’re small enough to be swamped by the measurement errors. Roofed areas, roads, and cities combined are reported to be less than 1% of the land area. Even arbitrarily assigning albedos of either 1 or 0 thus leads to not much change in the overall albedo.

    Point three is something you can look up actually. All energy consumption on earth ends up as waste heat eventually – so you just need to study reports of energy production or consumption. (aka oil + gas + nuclear + wind + hydro…)

    Last stat I saw: Human energy consumption 474 exajoules per year. (4.74 x 10^20 J).
    Incoming solar radiation: 1.74 yottajoules per year. (5.48 x 10^24 J)

    That’s around one ten-thousandth of the incoming radiation.

    But the converse of points #1 and #2 is: “Why in the name of all that’s holy are 99+% of all surface stations inside that 1% that’s touched by humans?” The list of stations is public, and plugging the actual stations into Bing Maps finds an amazing percentage that are inside city limits. Both the true ‘warming effect’ of cities in general, and also the micro-site issues of placing stations primarily for weather measurement and ease have resulted in a decidedly poor surface measurement system. Which then proceeds to use the wrong error, and apply UHI corrections in the wrong direction.

  45. Doug Cotton is dead on. I don’t understand why any alleged scientist can’t see that the thermal mass of water is so much greater than land. It seems pretty obvious that the majority of the earth’s heat is trapped in the oceans, and thus that climate is largely driven by chaotic upwellings and downwellings of these 1/3 Pacific Ocean sized thermal masses. Why anyone would think that man, who inhabits such a tiny percentage of the earth’s only 1/3 land area in an earth-wide minuscule density, is a main culprit for anything regarding climate borders on insanity. The large system inputs dwarf us by many orders of magnitude. The whole alarmism thing is such an obvious ploy for wealth distribution. Only those duped by slick, charismatic talkers, politicians, activists, etc. can’t see the obvious.

  46. Pete in the UK,
    Volcanoes are the best soil fertilizers, and they’re really on the job the last couple of decades. But the do perturb weather, there I said it, even if everyone is tired of hearing it.
    “does anyone REALLY know what colour the Missouri/Mississippi/Ohio rivers ran 500 years ago when they were in flood?”
    Having been raised in unfarmed hill country observing cutbanks on rivers and streams as they widen or even change course, I can assure you those rivers were quite muddy. Witnessed muddy cut banks collapse with trees and even cows on them. I’m not 500 years old but I’ve spent virtually all free time possible away from a television or PC and whereabout the water flows. Have seen a few vegetated and rocky mountain pouroffs stay clear in flood, but that’d be about it.

  47. Sensor operator says:
    February 7, 2012 at 10:19 am
    So, UHI is an accepted theory, but there is no chance that using billions of tons of oil, coal, etc releasing enormous amounts of CO2 won’t cause any problems. I would claim this is the pot calling the kettle black.

    Not to mention that when temperature records are reviewed, we look at anomolies from the long term trend, not absolute temperatures. So if UHI merely increased the local temperature, we wouldn’t see a long term increase in temperature… of course, we do see long term increases so UHI is not the culprit.

    As alluded to by Josh, your conclusions would have merit if and only if the extent of the urban heat islands had been fixed over the “long term”, whatever that is. Critics derided the location of St Patrick’s cathedral at the time of it’s construction as being too far from the city center! It is constructive to contemplate what the temperature record might have shown had a few generations of curates been of a meterological inclination. And thus, across the land. Someone with more time and resources might consider a time survey of various urban areas and their weather stations to see if something interesting might be found.

  48. Remarkable work by Ross M.

    I really hope Muller, Mosher, Zeke and a few others examine this paper in detail. I sense a few punctured egos and a bit of face palming will be going down soon.

  49. Roger Sowell,

    Stephen Oppenheimer discusses this in Eden in the East. His idea is that Delta formation in the great rivers is a result of sea level rise over the last 10k years. Sedimentation would help this process but is not the primary cause. Interesting idea.

  50. As for river colour, I am not sure about times of flood, but when John Oxley surveyed what would become the Brisbane river he found….

    The first thing Oxley noticed was the coral reef at the mouth and after crossing the mouth, he found a wide river with deep channels, crystal clear water and a white sandy river bed that reflected the sun’s rays even though it was 10 metres deep.

    Muddy to varying degrees now, all the time.

  51. Keith Minto says:
    February 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Coral reef at the mouth of the Brisbane River? BS.
    Try off the crystal clear beach of 1770. 400 klms north.

    Who are these libelous men, whose phobias I must fear?

  52. The massive Mississippi and Nile river deltas extending far out into their respective oceans say that the “clear water flood” has not, can not, and will not ever happen. Roaring water which has the capacity to round off rocks into smooth stones will have little problem carrying away any and all soil it encounters.

  53. While farmers may be speeding up the process, geologically rivers and streams have worn down whole continents and deposited thousands of feet of sedimentary rocks of all shapes and sizes , not just shales and mudstones. Our contribution is rather puny Farmers are aware and moving to minimal tillage farming and others measures to conserve soils and not have to watch their farm blowing out to sea as in the great US dustbowls. Geoff Broadbent

  54. PaulsNZ says:
    February 7, 2012 at 2:59 am
    Amazing as Carl Sagan said “Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred.”
    >>>>>>>>>

    Dr. Sagan was indeed a well-spoken scientist.

  55. As far as Dr. McKitrick’s seeming confidence that UHI is primary bias in the temperature record, that would have to overturn a substantial amount of work done thus far that indicates a slight or possibly cooling bias.

    Menne, et al, 2010 and the BEST station quality paper seem quite convincing that the temperature record is indeed showing an actual warming trend. Also, individual folks have coded up programs to grid-average the stations, and some have shown that after throwing out the poor siting quality stations the trend is still upward.

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