The yearly lukewarm report

UPDATE: Andrew Revkin has a similar story today, see below.

Robert Bradley, who runs Master Resource, a blog about energy and climate, gave me unsolicited permission to reprint this article to increase its reach, and I’m happy to do so. At the same time, I’d like to recommend to readers that you visit and bookmark Master Resource as it has many stimulating essays, such as this series about the spin surrounding Hurricane Sandy  – Anthony

Global Lukewarming: Another Good Intellectual Year (2012 Edition)

by Chip Knappenberger

 ”While we await global temperatures to start rising again, there are signs that the overall rise won’t be as fast as we have once been led to believe…. [A] future characterized by modest rather than extreme climate change elevates the role of adaptation relative to mitigation in most discussions.”

As global temperatures in 2012 further cement a modest warming rate in response to anthropogenic climate influences, the light burns ever brighter for the “lukewarmers”—those intrepid souls who accept that human activities are impacting the character of the world’s climate, but hold the opinion that, when taken together, these influences are–and will be–relatively modest. 

While lukewarmers’ individual opinions of whether or how to do “something” about anthropogenic climate change vary, a future characterized by modest rather than extreme climate change elevates the role of adaptation relative to mitigation in most discussions.

A year ago, in this space, I highlighted some positive lukewarmer developments in 2011. These included findings that the observed temperature trends over (and within) the past 3 decades are lower than climate model projections and that the climate sensitivity—that is, how much the average global temperature will rise under conditions of a doubled atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide—has likely been overestimated.

Here, I review some significant events from 2012. Many continue these same themes. I am sure that there are others that did not make my list. If your favorite is not here, please feel free to include a brief description of it in the Comments section below.

Temperatures in 2012

First, let’s have a look at the global average temperature for 2012. I am sure that most readers are already aware that in the U.S. the annual average temperature was the highest ever recorded (since 1895). But the U.S. makes up only about 2% of the globe and such small areas, especially located in the Northern Hemisphere extratropics, are subject to large regional variations.

Figure 1 shows the pattern of annual average temperature anomalies across the globe in 2012. Notice that the contiguous U.S. happens to be in the bulls-eye of higher than average temperatures. If you spent 2012 in Alaska, you’d probably be wondering what all the fuss was about, because there the state experienced its 11th coldest year on record (since 1918).


Fig. 1. The pattern of annual average temperature anomalies for 2012 (figure from the National Climate Data Center, details available here).

But, rather than regional temperature anomalies, what I want to look at is the global temperature.

Figure 2 shows the global temperatures as compiled for the earth’s surface as well as for the lower atmosphere from 1979-2012. I show just a single compilation for each, although there are several such compilations available. The differences among the various compilations are interesting, but not large enough to alter the general picture of the situation. The data in Fig. 2 begin in 1979, the year that satellite observations of the lower atmosphere begin and very near the beginning of the second warming period of the 20th century—the one which is largely associated with rising anthropogenic emissions into the atmosphere.


Fig. 2. Annual average global temperature anomalies from the surface (red, HadCRUT4) and from the lower atmosphere (blue, UAH MSU), 1979-2012.

As Figure 2 shows, the global average temperature in 2012 fell below the overall linear trend line and pretty much on the same plateau as temperatures have been since 2001. Together, this has the effect of putting a bit of negative pressure on the trend in global temperatures since 1979 and further establishing it as falling below expectations (especially during the 21st century).

While we await global temperatures to start rising again, there are signs that the overall rise won’t be as fast as we have once been led to believe.

Climate Sensitivity

In 2012, several papers were published in the scientific literature which provided evidence that the climate sensitivity lies towards the low end of the range of estimates provided in the most recent assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC concluded that:

“[The equilibrium climate sensitivity]is likely to be in the range 2°C to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values.” (emphasis in original)

Compare that assessment with some findings from the literature published during the past year.

From Ring et al. (2012):

Additionally, our estimates of climate sensitivity using our [simple climate model] and the four instrumental temperature records range from about 1.5°C to 2.0°C. These are on the low end of the estimates in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. So, while we find that most of the observed warming is due to human emissions of [long-lived greenhouse gases], future warming based on these estimations will grow more slowly compared to that under the IPCC’s “likely” range of climate sensitivity, from 2.0°C to 4.5°C.

From van Hateren (2012):

The millennium-scale response to doubling of the CO2 concentration found here, 2.0 ± 0.3°C, thus has presumably not yet reached full equilibrium, and can therefore only be cautiously compared with the equilibrium climate response of the 2007 IPCC report (Meehl et al 2007). It is at the lower end of the range considered likely (2-4.5°C), and lower than its best estimate (3°C).

From Hargeaves et al. (2012):

We estimate the equilibrium climate sensitivity to be about 2.5°C with a high probability of being under 4°C, though these results are subject to several important caveats.

From Aldrin et al. (2012):

The [climate sensitivity] mean is 2.0°C… which is lower than the IPCC estimate from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC,2007), but this estimate increases if an extra forcing component is added, see the following text. The 95% credible interval (CI) ranges from 1.1°C to 4.3°C, whereas the 90% CI ranges from 1.2°C to 3.5°C.

Figure 3 puts all of these results together. It shows the IPCC climate sensitivity best estimate and range, along with that computed from the articles mentioned above and some notable findings published in 2011. Clearly, there is increasing evidence that the IPCC estimate should be shifted towards the left (i.e., to lower values). It’ll be interesting to see if indeed this occurs in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, which is due out later this year.


Fig. 3. Climate sensitivity estimates from new research published since 2010 (colored), compared with the range given in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (black). The arrows indicate the 5 to 95% confidence bounds for each estimate along with the mean (vertical line) where available. Ring et al. (2012) present four estimates of the climate sensitivity and the red box encompasses those estimates. The right-hand side of the IPCC range is dotted to indicate that the IPCC does not actually state the value for the upper 95% confidence bound of their estimate. The thick black line represents the IPCC’s “likely” range.

Other Lukewarmer Developments

Defusing the Methane Time Bomb

One necessary part of rapid and extreme global warming is that a series of positive feedbacks kick in to boost a modest warming from carbon dioxide increases alone (an increase of about 1.2°C for a doubling of the atmospheric concentration) into something much more alarming. One such positive feedback that has been posited is known as the “methane bomb.” The idea is that as the globe warms (especially in the Arctic), methane (a greenhouse gas with more warming power than carbon dioxide) is released in increasing amounts from the ocean seabed and the land from thawing permafrost. More warming, more methane release, more warming, etc.

But, contrary to disaster, there doesn’t seem to be much of an increase in methane. Yes, methane is increasing in the atmosphere, but not at a particularly quick pace, and most of the increase seems to be coming from some place other than the arctic. The preliminary indications from a study examining methane release from the seafloor in the Greenland Sea hit the presses last year and concluded that “[a]bove all the fear that the gas emanation is a consequence of the current rising sea temperature does not seem to apply… the observed gas emanations are probably not caused by human influence.” And this wasn’t the first time that results counter to the methane bomb have been reported. And there was even some new results suggesting that plants are helping to uptake methane. Good news for lukewarmers.

Carbon sink still strong and growing

Another block in the foundation of alarming global warming is that the earth’s natural carbon sinks will saturate and more and more of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities will remain in the atmosphere. Currently this number stands at around 45 percent, with natural sinks—primarily the oceans and plant biomass—taking up about 55 percent of our emissions. A paper by Ballantyne et al. (2012) showed that these percentages have remained pretty constant for the past 50 years, which means that the natural carbon sink has been expanding as our carbon dioxide emissions have increased.

Not that this should come as too much of a surprise as it is well known and demonstrated by literally thousands of scientific studies that atmospheric carbon dioxide is a plant fertilizer, so the more that there is, the better plants grow.

Here is how Ballantyne et al. summarized their results:

From a global mass balance perspective, net uptake of atmospheric CO2 has continued to increase during the past 50 yr and seems to remain strong. Although present predictions indicate diminished [carbon] uptake by the land and oceans in the coming century, with potentially serious consequences for the global climate, as of 2010 there is no empirical evidence that [carbon] uptake has started to diminish on the global scale.

It is not looking good for this scare scenario—another plus for lukewarmers.

Greenland/Antarctica/Sea Level

Perhaps the single greatest threat from climate change (from a human perspective) is the potential of a large and rapid rise in sea level. This could occur if Greenland and/or Antarctica lost a large amount of ice in a short period of time. While such a catastrophic occurrence is expected by some, and to a lesser but still problematic degree by others, more and more evidence comes in that suggests that the rate of sea level rise will be much slower, proving a better opportunity for it to be dealt with.

Noteworthy studies from the past year include King et al. which found that the rate of ice loss from Antarctica has not been accelerating and amounts to less than one-hundredth of an inch per year.

Less and less does it look like rapid, catastrophic sea level rise is a possibility.

Bottom Line

The bottom line remains the same as what I wrote last year, with additional evidence of support.

Here is what I wrote then:

So what I have documented is a collection of observations and analysis that together is telling a story of relatively modest climate changes to come. Not that temperatures won’t rise at all over the course of this century, but that rather than our climate becoming extremely toasty, it looks like we’ll have to settle (thankfully) for only lukewarm.

My guess is that 2012 will hold more good news for lukewarmers, both in terms of supportive scientific findings, and also in a migration of folks towards the middle of this issue. As the being lukewarm becomes a bit more comfortable, I imagine that more folks will be drawn in.

I was right for 2012. I imagine that I will be right for 2013 and beyond.

Happy lukewarming to everyone!

References

Aldrin, M., et al., 2012. Bayesian estimation of climate sensitivity based on a simple climate model fitted to observations oh hemispheric temperature and global ocean heat content. Environmetrics, doi:10.1002/env.2140.

Ballantyne, A. P., 2012. Increase in observed net carbon dioxide uptake by land and oceans during the past 50 years. Nature, 488, 70-72, do:10.1038/nature11299

Chambers, D., M.A. Merrifield, and R. S. Nerem, 2012. Is there a 60-year oscillation in global mean sea level? Geophysical Research Letters, 39, doi:1029/2012GL052885.

Hargreaves, J.C., et al., 2012. Can the Last Glacial Maximum constrain climate sensitivity? Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L24702, doi:10.1029/2012GL053872.

King, M., et al., 2012. Lower satellite-gravimetry estimates of Antarctic sea-level contribution. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11621.html

Moon, T., I. Joughin, B. Smith, and I. Howat, 2012. 21st-century evolution of Greenland outlet glacier velocities. Science, 336, 576-578, doi:10.1126/science.1219985

Ring, M.J., et al., 2012. Causes of the global warming observed since the 19th century. Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, 2, 401-415, doi:10.4236/acs.2012.24035.

Sundqvist, E., et al., 2012. Atmospheric methane removal by boreal plants. Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L21806, doi:10.1029/2012GL053592

van Hateren, J.H., 2012. A fractal climate response function can simulate global average temperature trends of the modern era and the past millennium. Climate Dynamics, doi:10.1007/s00382-012-1375-3.

Zwally, H.J., et al., 2012. Mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses. Presentation to the SCAR ISMAA Workshop, July 14, 2012, Portland Oregon.

==============================================================

UPDATE:  Rob Bradley writes in comments:

As coincidence would have it, Andrew Revkin posts on this same subject at Dot Earth today:

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/a-closer-look-at-moderating-views-of-climate-sensitivity/

“But on one critically important metric — how hot the planet will get from a doubling of the pre-industrial concentration of greenhouse gases, aka ‘climate sensitivity’ — some climate researchers with substantial publication records are shifting toward the lower end of the warming spectrum.”

And he ends:

“I can understand why some climate campaigners, writers and scientists don’t want to focus on any science hinting that there might be a bit more time to make this profound energy transition. (There’s also reluctance, I’m sure, because the recent work is trending toward the published low sensitivity findings from a decade ago from climate scientists best known for their relationships with libertarian groups.)

Nonetheless, the science is what the science is.

Thus, this post.”

Anthony: About the same time, I got an email from Andy announcing his post, and I queried him on this passage, writing:

Thanks, I found this argument odd:

This is also not a “single-study syndrome” situation, where one outlier research paper is used to cast doubt on a bigger body of work …

“bigger body of work”….

Scientific truth is not measured by weight nor by volume, it is measured by the mere existence of a single kernel of it.

The cause of ulcers, plate tectonics, and Newtonian physics are good examples of bodies of work overturned by a single kernel of scientific truth.

 

Revkin replied that “sure. i agree of course. “

About these ads

36 thoughts on “The yearly lukewarm report

  1. I think the idea that 2012 was the warmist ever for NA is disputed. and effectively refuted by the finding that NOAA is gaming the data.

  2. there are signs that the overall rise won’t be as fast as we have once been led to believe…
    ==============
    but we were told the science is settled……………………………….snark/

    It’s not settled today either…if these bozos could predict the future…..they would win the lotto and be out of here

  3. As coincidence would have it, Andrew Revkin posts on this same subject at Dot Earth today:

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/a-closer-look-at-moderating-views-of-climate-sensitivity/

    “But on one critically important metric — how hot the planet will get from a doubling of the pre-industrial concentration of greenhouse gases, aka ‘climate sensitivity’ — some climate researchers with substantial publication records are shifting toward the lower end of the warming spectrum.”

    And he ends:

    “I can understand why some climate campaigners, writers and scientists don’t want to focus on any science hinting that there might be a bit more time to make this profound energy transition. (There’s also reluctance, I’m sure, because the recent work is trending toward the published low sensitivity findings from a decade ago from climate scientists best known for their relationships with libertarian groups.)

    Nonetheless, the science is what the science is.

    Thus, this post.”

  4. How 2012 Ended on Six Data Sets

    Note the bolded numbers for each data set where the lower bolded number is the highest anomaly recorded in 2012 and the higher one is the all time record so far.

    With the UAH anomaly for December at 0.202, the average for 2012 is (-0.134 -0.135 + 0.051 + 0.232 + 0.179 + 0.235 + 0.130 + 0.208 + 0.339 + 0.333 + 0.281 + 0.202)/12 = 0.161. This would rank 9th. 1998 was the warmest at 0.42. The highest ever monthly anomaly was in April of 1998 when it reached 0.66. The anomaly in 2011 was 0.132 and it came in 10th.

    With the GISS anomaly for December at 0.44, the average for 2012 is (0.36 + 0.39 + 0.49 + 0.60 + 0.70 + 0.59 + 0.51 + 0.57 + 0.66 + 0.70 + 0.68 + 0.44)/12 = 0.56. This would rank 9th. 2010 was the warmest at 0.66. The highest ever monthly anomaly was in January of 2007 when it reached 0.93. The anomaly in 2011 was 0.54 and it came in 10th.

    With the Hadcrut3 anomaly for December at 0.233, the average for 2012 is (0.206 + 0.186 + 0.290 + 0.499 + 0.483 + 0.482 + 0.445 + 0.513 + 0.514 + 0.499 + 0.482 + 0.233)/12 = 0.403. This would rank 10th. 1998 was the warmest at 0.548. The highest ever monthly anomaly was in February of 1998 when it reached 0.756. One has to back to the 1940s to find the previous time that a Hadcrut3 record was not beaten in 10 years or less. The anomaly in 2011 was 0.340 and it came in 13th.

    With the sea surface anomaly for December at 0.342, the average for the year is (0.203 + 0.230 + 0.241 + 0.292 + 0.339 + 0.352 + 0.385 + 0.440 + 0.449 + 0.432 + 0.399 + 0.342)/12 = 0.342. This would rank 8th. 1998 was the warmest at 0.451. The highest ever monthly anomaly was in August of 1998 when it reached 0.555. The anomaly in 2011 was 0.273 and it came in 13th.

    With the RSS anomaly for December at 0.101, the average for the year is (-0.060 -0.123 + 0.071 + 0.330 + 0.231 + 0.337 + 0.290 + 0.255 + 0.383 + 0.294 + 0.195 + 0.101)/12 = 0.192. This would rank 11th. 1998 was the warmest at 0.55. The highest ever monthly anomaly was in April of 1998 when it reached 0.857. The anomaly in 2011 was 0.147 and it came in 13th.

    With the Hadcrut4 anomaly for December at 0.269, the average for 2012 is (0.288 + 0.208 + 0.339 + 0.525 + 0.531 + 0.506 + 0.470 + 0.532 + 0.515 + 0.524 + 0.512 + 0.269)/12 = 0.436. This would rank 10th. 2010 was the warmest at 0.54. The highest ever monthly anomaly was in January of 2007 when it reached 0.818. The anomaly in 2011 was 0.399 and it came in 13th.

    If you would like to see the above month to month changes illustrated graphically, see:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/wti/from:2012/plot/gistemp/from:2012/plot/uah/from:2012/plot/rss/from:2012/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2012/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2012/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2012

    On all data sets, the different times for a slope that is at least very slightly negative ranges from 8 years and 3 months to 16 years and 1 month.

    1. UAH: since October 2004 or 8 years, 3 months (goes to December)
    2. GISS: since May 2001 or 11 years, 7 months (goes to November)
    3. Combination of 4 global temperatures: since November 2000 or 12 years, 2 months (goes to December) (Needs to be confirmed)
    4. HadCrut3: since April 1997 or 15 years, 9 months (goes to December) (Needs to be confirmed)
    5. Sea surface temperatures: since March 1997 or 15 years, 10 months (goes to December)
    6. RSS: since December 1996 or 16 years, 1 month (goes to December)
    RSS is 193/204 or 94.6% of the way to Santer’s 17 years.
    7. Hadcrut4: since November 2000 or 12 years, 2 months (goes to December.)

    See the graph below to show it all.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1997.25/trend/plot/gistemp/from:2001.33/trend/plot/rss/from:1996.9/trend/plot/wti/from:2000.9/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2000.8/trend/plot/uah/from:2004.75/trend

    This analysis indicates for how long there has not been significant warming at the 95% level on various data sets.
    For RSS the warming is NOT significant for over 23 years.
    For RSS: +0.126 +/-0.136 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1990
    For UAH, the warming is NOT significant for over 19 years.
    For UAH: 0.143 +/- 0.173 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1994
    For Hacrut3, the warming is NOT significant for over 19 years.
    For Hadcrut3: 0.098 +/- 0.113 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1994
    For Hacrut4, the warming is NOT significant for over 18 years.
    For Hadcrut4: 0.098 +/- 0.111 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1995
    For GISS, the warming is NOT significant for over 17 years.
    For GISS: 0.116 +/- 0.122 C/decade at the two sigma level from 1996
    (If you want to know the times to the nearest month that the warming is not significant for each set, they are as follows: RSS since September 1989; UAH since April 1993; Hadcrut3 since September 1993; Hadcrut4 since August 1994; GISS since October 1995 and NOAA since June 1994.)

  5. I wish the current trend in the skeptic camp to give us Lukewarmers a kicking at every turn will abate.

  6. Bigger body of work makes sense when you are talking about estimating a parameter such as sensitivity.

    The issues:
    1. What records of forcings to use
    2. What records of temperature to use
    3. What estimation methodology.

    There are multiple records and multiple methodological approaches all with limitations.
    So a body of work that takes different approaches to the same problem is more important than a single report which could cherry pick sources and methods.

    So, for example, one approach that uses land surface temperature and another that uses ocean heat content, both getting the same answer is better than either one separately.

  7. As more and more years pass with no return to the halcyon days of rapid global warming that were typical of the late 20th century, more and more people of the 21st century are turning away from the AGW fear-mongery. And even politicians are slowly abandoning the sorts of panic-stricken carbon strangulation policies that have been so zealously touted by special interest groups.

    Canada’s current government, for example, has pulled our country out of the Kyoto agreement entirely, though there are still many laggard politicos who have not yet seen the light.

    (the light of the Sun, of course, the more likely driver of most of the observed global temperature changes)

  8. “While we await global temperatures to start rising again, there are signs that the overall rise won’t be as fast as we have once been led to believe.”

    Since the models are not working why assume the temperature will rise, they could fall and where will the lukewarmers be then?

  9. “First, let’s have a look at the global average temperature for 2012. I am sure that most readers are already aware that in the U.S. the annual average temperature was the highest ever recorded (since 1895).”

    Where does 1934 come in this series?????????

  10. If the “lukewarmers” are right, and I believe we are, the term may not be descriptive for very long. The essence of the position is that human effects on climate are modest, which to many of us means modest compared to natural effects, and with the sun entering what portends to be at least a couple of weak solar cycles those natural effects are likely headed in the cooling direction.

    “Lukecoolers” won’t be viable either because nothing in the lukewarmist position says that natural effects have to be luke-anything. They can be extreme, in which case we would be talking about cooling being a luke-bit less cold than otherwise.

    Okay, maybe that works: if we just understand “lukewarmer” to mean “lukewarmer than things would be without people.”

  11. On his WeatherBELL site Dr. Ryan Maue says, “Looking at the rest of the globe using the NCEP CFSv2 data — the initial conditions for the Climate Forecast model — Global temps were about 0.1°C above the 30-year mean of January 1981-2010.”

    Admittedly it could be a short-term down-spike, however when thirty years have passed and the temperature is only a tenth of a degree above average, even Chicken Little yawns.

  12. I quote Knappenberger:

    ”While we await global temperatures to start rising again, there are signs that the overall rise won’t be as fast as we have once been led to believe…. [A] future characterized by modest rather than extreme climate change elevates the role of adaptation relative to mitigation in most discussions.”

    Just exactly why are you waiting global temperatures to start rising again? There is no warming now and there has not been any for the last 16 years while carbon dioxide kept increasing. Your theory of greenhouse warming demands that increasing carbon dioxide must cause warming. Sixteen years with no warming ought to be enough to tell you that carbon dioxide is not going to warm the world, ever. And your Figure 2 is all screwed up. First, forget about HadCRUT4 and use just UAH. Second, there is no greenhouse warming during this period and your curve fit is completely wrong. The left and right halves of this dataset must not be fitted to the same straight line. The Super El Nino divides it in half and true temperature curve for this region consists of two horizontal lines, one to the left of it and one to the right of it. Both are no-warming zones. They do not join because in between is a step warming of 0.3 degrees. Its cause is warm water carried across the ocean by the super El Nino. This step warming is the only warming that exists within the last 33 years. Now to climate sensitivity. When greenhouse warming comes up they always cite the work or Arrhenius. You may not be aware of this but if you use the original Arrhenius method to calculate sensitivity you will get 1.1 degrees for doubling of CO2, not 3 degrees. The IPCC realized from the start that 1.1 degrees will not scare anyone so they decided to use the help of water vapor to jack up the Arrhenius heat. It goes like this. First, carbon dioxide warms the air. That warm air can now hold more water vapor. The greenhouse effect from that extra water vapor will then cause additional warming that gets added to the original warming from carbon dioxide. Their computers tell us that this can triple or raise even more the original warming from carbon dioxide. This is called positive water vapor feedback. And that is where all those dangerous predictions of warming come from. But this is all wrong as Miskolczi’s analysis of radiosonde measurements proves. He showed that atmospheric absorption of long-wave radiation was constant for 61 years while at the same time carbon dioxide increased by 21.6 percent. This substantial amount of carbon dioxide did not increase IR absorption by the atmosphere by one whit. And it is this absorption of energy that is needed by the greenhouse gases to create their eponymous warming. No absorption means no greenhouse effect, case closed. And this settles the sensitivity issue: true sensitivity for doubling of carbon dioxide is exactly zero. It also tells us that water vapor feedback is negative, not positive, as IPCC claims. That being the case, all model predictions of dangerous warming ahead are false. And since many of them have been used to justify global warming laws and and regulations these laws and regulations have been passed under false premises. They have to be voided.

  13. “As global temperatures in 2012 further cement a modest warming rate in response to anthropogenic climate influences, the light burns ever brighter for the “lukewarmers”—those intrepid souls who accept that human activities are impacting the character of the world’s climate, but hold the opinion that, when taken together, these influences are–and will be–relatively modest.”
    There’s no getting around the fact that, modest as it is, it’s still a belief based on very scant evidence. They seem to be blissfully unaware of the lack of continued warming the past 16 years. Notice too the weasel words “human activities” and the confused vagueness of the phrase “impacting the character of the world’s climate”.

  14. I agree with Steve Mosher in that this topic (climate sensitivity) is not a subject where there will be a single paradigm altering publication. The paradigm that CO2 keeps heat the atmosphere is not being challenged here, only the level by which increases in the current levels of CO2 will translate into increased temperatures. However, recourse to the “cherry-picking” mantra in order to dismiss any individual paper is little more than another appeal to authority – and in this case it is an authority which is looking seriously flawed. As data collection increases, even existing models will give different results, as well as contributing to the development of – hopefully – better models. With this being the case, each new result should not be seen as adding to a body of work, but actively considered as to whether it should replace previously published work. The retention of older publications, now superseded by better data collection or analysis, simply increases the error. The “scientific body of work” needs to be regularly culled to keep the main body healthy.

  15. Billy Liar says:

    “Is there any evidence (or a proof) that the ‘Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity’ is a constant?”

    There is pretty solid evidence that sensitivity is not constant:

    Luke-warmers are living in the past. Most all of the CO2 effect already took place, in the first 20 ppmv. Anything added to the current 395 ppmv causes no measurable warming. The effect is just too minuscule to worry about.

  16. I consider myself a lukewarmer but I put the bounds on the sensitivity due to CO2 at > 0 but less than 1.2.
    1.2 is supposedly what you would expect to get with NO feedbacks. Given that the earth appears to be a stable planet, then the feedbacks would almost certainly be net negative THUS, lower than the upper bound of 1.2 but greater than zero.

  17. Since the models are not working why assume the temperature will rise, they could fall and where will the lukewarmers be then?

    Lukewarmers include anyone who thinks sensitivity is between 0.1-2.5C, basically (boundaries of that high end vary, of course). So it’s a wide range, and includes Lindzen and Christie and many others considered “deniers”. The only people it doesn’t include on this side of the debate, are those who think there is literally no warming effect from CO2, which is a pretty small crowd.

  18. Falling temps don’t mean that sensitivity is zero, only that natural forcings can easily overwhelm it not just in the short term, but even in the long term. It would mean that falling temps would fall even more steeply, without those GHG forcings.

  19. ”While we await global temperatures to start rising again, there are signs that the overall rise won’t be as fast as we have once been led to believe…. [A] future characterized by modest rather than extreme climate change elevates the role of adaptation relative to mitigation in most discussions.”

    I haven’t a clue which way global temperatures (whatever that means and for what it’s worth) are headed and I remain unconvinced that anyone else knows with the slightest bit of certainty. I’m certain that climate will change but I don’t know when, where, how much, and in which direction.

    Anyone want to bet the farm on a number (global temperature) that’s been fudged beyond recognition? I’m out. Please bet quietly amongst yourselves.

    (Wait up. I am willing to bet all I own that the Antarctic will remain a good place to store ice cream for the next 80 generations. Heck! Make that a hundred generations. Any takers?)

  20. Poptech says:
    February 4, 2013 at 11:44 am
    It is good to see the English Major Steven Mosher, giving his “advice” so we know which to ignore.
    =
    While in most sciences the lack of science degree would be a hindrance, in climate science it is a positive boon!

  21. A. If we start with 1 molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere, how many times does this have to double before we reach the current situation?

    B. After we subtract the effects of H2O in warming the atmosphere, how much warming is actually due to CO2?

    C. Divide B by A and you have your answer.

    Current situation = 1.07 x 10^40 molecules of CO2 in the atmosphere. = 2 ^ 43.

    Earth is 33C warmer due to GHG, of which CO2 is 20% responsible = 6.6C warming in total from CO2.

    Therefore, CO2 sensitivity

    = 6.6C / 43 doublings
    = 0.15C per doubling of CO2.

  22. TheBigYinJames says:
    February 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

    I wish the current trend in the skeptic camp to give us Lukewarmers a kicking at every turn will abate.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Be happy to just as soon as the politicians decide to leave our energy alone and quit indulging in The Broken-Window Fallacy

    We are looking at closing 10% of our energy resources Graph and that is just those plants that have announced closures. In October 2011 it was 28.3 GW of generating capacity would close and by June 2012 it had increased to 34 gigawatts (GW) of capacity retiring because of the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Rule. The EPA modeling predicted the regulations would only shut down 9.5 GW of electricity generation capacity. The reality is that over 35 GW of power generating capacity will likely close. graph of closures.

    Those plants will be replaced with energy capacity costing eight times or more the current price

    Obama’s war on coal hits your electric bill
    The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity – almost all natural gas – was $136 per megawatt. That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt…. These are not computer models or projections or estimates. These are the actual prices that electric distributors have agreed to pay for new capacity. The costs will be passed on to consumers at the retail level….

    Those are $$$$ out of our pockets to pay for a might be, possibly could be, a minor problem in the future.

    Here is a Graph: Forecast Price of Residental Energy 1996 to 2031 As those costs are rising causing the price of everything to also rise, American wages are declining.

    Meanwhile More than 1,000 New Coal Plants [are] Planned Worldwide financed by our tax dollars that are given to the World Bank by the US government. World Bank: Record sums were invested last year in coal power. You can see the major leap in loans for coal fired plants in the last year in this Graph of World Bank spending on coal fired plants in the third world. US coal will not just sit in the ground either. Coal’s not dying — it’s just getting shipped abroad Along with the jobs that that coal supports.

    To add insult to injury we will get saddle with and have to pay for SMART Meters and a SMART Grid and SMART appliances so power companies saddled with unstable inefficient “GREEN ENERGY” can shut off our home power!

    Energy InSight FAQs
    With smart meters, CenterPoint Energy is proposing to add a process prior to shutting down whole circuits to conduct a mass turn off of individual meters with 200 amps or less (i.e. residential and small commercial consumers) for 15 or 30 minutes, rotating consumers impacted during that outage as well as possible future outages.

    There are several benefits to consumers of this proposed process. By isolating non-critical service accounts (“critical” accounts include hospitals, police stations, water treatment facilities etc.) and spreading “load shed” to a wider distribution, critical accounts that happen to share the same circuit with non-critical accounts will be less affected in the event of an emergency. Curtailment of other important public safety devices and services such as traffic signals, police and fire stations, and water pumps and sewer lifts may also be avoided.

    And the Financiers are jumping for joy:

    We see an attractive long-term secular trend for investors to capitalize on over the coming 20–30 years as today’s underinvested and technologically challenged power grid is modernized to a technology-enabled smart grid. In particular, we see an attractive opportunity over the next three to five years to invest in companies that are enabling this transformation of the power grid.

    http://downloads.lightreading.com/internetevolution/Thomas_Weisel_Demand_Response.pdf

    More info in my comment HERE

  23. brokenyogi says:
    February 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm
    Falling temps don’t mean that sensitivity is zero, only that natural forcings can easily overwhelm it not just in the short term, but even in the long term.
    =========
    Which means that the “unexplained” warming in the late 20th century might simply be due to natural causes.

    This is the crux of the matter. The argument for CO2 warming is that the late 20th century warming can only be explained by CO2. However, the current lack of warming, if it is due to natural causes, then the unexplained warming could also be due to natural causes, which means the observational evidence that CO2 causes warming no longer exists.

    This is reinforced by the unexplained minoan warming, the roman warming, the medieval warming and the modern warming. If the last 3 warming were absent CO2, why must CO2 be the cause and why has the warming halted even though CO2 has not?

    Therefore the belief that CO2 causes warming is simply a theoretical belief, without evidence in Fact. One might as well throw gold in the ocean and ask Poseidon to calm the seas. Instead, we have the new priests, the Gores, who would save us even without Poseidon. All we need do is give them our gold.

    You can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time.

  24. Billy Liar says:
    February 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Is there any evidence (or a proof) that the ‘Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity’ is a constant?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No, graph and Support for the saturated greenhouse effect leaves the likelihood of AGW tipping points in the cold

    Also everyone forgets that both H2O and CO2 absorb incoming sunlight as well as outgoing earthshine. This means instead of ‘warming’ the better word is ‘modify’ the day/night temperature extremes.
    Sleepalot @ July 21, 2012 at 4:53 am pointed out the actual effects of the GHG water vapor on the temperature by comparing high vs low humidity. I took the data a few steps further here and here

    The effect of the addition of water vapor (~ 4%) is not to raise the temperature but to even the temperature out. The monthly high is 10C lower and the monthly low is ~ 10C higher when the GHG H2O is added to the atmosphere in this example. The average temperature is about 4C lower in Brazil despite the fact that Algeria is further north above the tropic of Cancer. Some of the difference is from the effect of clouds/albedo but the dramatic effect on the temperature extremes is also from the humidity.

    ALTITUDE:
    Barcelos, Brazil elevation ~ 30 meters (100 ft)
    Adrar, Algeria ~ Elevation: 280 metres (920 feet)

    One would expect a drop in temperature of ~ 4C due to altitude for Adrar, Algeria so the difference between locations, taking into account altitude is ~ 8C higher in Adrar which is further north but with much lower humidity.

    A look at the actual wavelengths for energy interaction with CO2: Graph Both CO2 and H2O interact with wavelengths in the solar as well as the earthshine bands.

    The most important vibrational and rotational transitions for CO2 is
    Center……Band interval
    667…………..540-800

    961
    plus…………..850-1250
    1063.8

    2349………….2100-2400

    Visible and near-IR absorption bands
    2526………….2000-2400
    3703………….3400-3850
    5000………….4700-5200
    6250………….6100-6450
    7143………….6850-7000

    Chart from http://irina.eas.gatech.edu/EAS8803_Fall2009/Lec6.pdf

  25. “First, let’s have a look at the global average temperature for 2012.”

    Do we have to? It’s so meaningless.

  26. Why do climate scientists all use a linear best fit? Surely they can see that this waveform is a far better fit to a sine wave which by a strange coincidence also is the result from using filter circuits designed to remove noise from electronic signals.
    We know there are cyclic patterns which show up more clearly in selected climate aspects like rainfall, as is clear if you have seen the chart the met office should have published on UK rainfall, but having extracted these patterns they can be used to verify if they are also present in other aspects of climate data. It is obvious that the lunar cycle affects tides so is it so likely that they also affect the flow of ocean currents and given there is a difference between lunar year and the earth year that makes a coincidental peaks at around thirty three years there is a likely cyclic pattern here as well.
    Is the current training in climate studies the right basis for their qualification I seriously wonder given they ignore both biological aspects to a huge degree and volcanic to an even greater one and as for the mathematical pattern recognition training that seems to be first grade level if that.

  27. Groan. Just how, and just by just whom, was the LIA-rebound warming disentangled from, and found not responsible for, the localized 2012 US warming? Show your work; where was its influence subtracted from the claimed warming?

    Bollocks. Lukewarmers are lame syncophants.

  28. Ferd,

    I’m with you that we don’t know if the late 20th century warming was man-made, or to what extent, but I have to disagree with you on this:

    Therefore the belief that CO2 causes warming is simply a theoretical belief, without evidence in Fact

    No, it’s not merely theoretical. We have proven, settled laboratory science on the radiative physics of GHGs, and that’s a fact. What’s theoretical is the amount of warming that will actually produce in nature, outside the lab. The radiative physics alone would suggest a warming of no more than 1.2C per doubling of CO2. But since we can’t directly calculate all the complex interactions of this radiative physics with the actual atmosphere, land, and oceans, we don’t know what the actual sensitivity is. And that’s the issue. Even if there are negative feedbacks which reduce that warming to zero in effect, it’s still there a real part of the climate system, something factual to take into account.

    So the real debate is about the feedbacks, not the factuality of GHG warming effects. Just the net result in the climate system of that warming effect.

    Sorting out the influence of changing GHG concentrations from other causes of warming is a very tough question, and I don’t think we are anywhere near a final answer. I lean towards a fairly low sensitivity, but I don’t really know for sure. It may even turn out to be truly negligible. I wouldn’t be much surprised. And if that were the case, it would be interesting to know why that is. But we’re not very close to an answer on that bigger issue just yet.

  29. Ferdberple, an amusing calculation, but I reckon you got some numbers wrong: by my reckoning, there are currently 3.15*10^40 molecules of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is between 2^134 and 2^135. So your answer should be 6.6/134 = 0.05 degrees C.

Comments are closed.