The law of unintended climate consequences at work – study says 23% of warming in Europe since 1980 due to clean air laws

(Via the HockeySchtick)

A paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters finds that clean air laws which greatly reduced sulfur dioxide emissions explain 81% of the “brightening” of sunshine and 23% of the surface warming in Europe since 1980. However, the authors note “this phenomenon is however hardly reproduced by global and regional climate models.”

According to the paper,

“observed surface solar radiation, as well as land and sea surface temperature spatio-temporal variations over the Euro-Mediterranean region are only reproduced when simulations include the realistic aerosol variations” which the authors state are “however hardly reproduced by global and regional climate models”

“Global brightening” is a well-known global phenomenon which may partially be due to clean air laws reducing sulfate and black carbon aerosols, as well as natural changes in cloud cover. “Global brightening” and “global dimming” show high correlation with global temperatures, yet as this paper notes are “hardly reproduced” by climate models. Another of many highly important variables including ocean oscillationssolar amplification mechanisms, convection, clouds, etc., etc. which climate models do not adequately simulate.

Note: Sulfur dioxide is an actual air pollutant, unlike harmless, essential, & beneficial carbon dioxide, despite the widespread scaremongering propaganda labelling CO2 as “carbon pollution”

The paper at GRL:

Contribution of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols to the changing Euro-Mediterranean climate since 1980

Pierre Nabat et al

Abstract

Since the 1980s anthropogenic aerosols have been considerably reduced in Europe and the Mediterranean area. This decrease is often considered as the likely cause of the brightening effect observed over the same period. This phenomenon is however hardly reproduced by global and regional climate models. Here we use an original approach based on reanalysis-driven coupled regional climate system modelling, to show that aerosol changes explain 81 ± 16 per cent of the brightening and 23 ± 5 per cent of the surface warming simulated for the period 1980–2012 over Europe. The direct aerosol effect is found to dominate in the magnitude of the simulated brightening. The comparison between regional simulations and homogenized ground-based observations reveals that observed surface solar radiation, as well as land and sea surface temperature spatio-temporal variations over the Euro-Mediterranean region are only reproduced when simulations include the realistic aerosol variations.

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48 thoughts on “The law of unintended climate consequences at work – study says 23% of warming in Europe since 1980 due to clean air laws

  1. So we can mitigate global warming by just polluting more. That’s good to know should we actually ever need to lower temperatures.

  2. So we can mitigate global warming by just polluting more… assuming of course that the models are correct….

    Models … ???

  3. But…but…but… I was told (obsessively, I might add) that the sun had nothing to do with Temps!

    How can less pollution leading to more sun lead to higher temps if the sun has nothing to do with temps?

  4. @DS, we know not the power that those four CO2 molecules per 10,000 parts have. They seem to glow all by themselves, and make everything too warm.

  5. Let’s not forget that in the UK (at least) the Clean Air Act led directly to the replacement of millions of domestic coal fires with much-more efficient gas fires.

    That ensured far less CO2 & ‘waste’ heat being dumped into the atmosphere.

    The net change was probably not proportional across Europe, but did the report’s writers factor that into their model?

  6. As I’ve pointed out over at HS, this is mostly a mis-attribution problem ( though they are on the right lines ).

    The change in the stratosphere was due to the after effects of the two major eruptions. This is clearly visible in the UHA lower stratosphere temp data:

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=902

    It may well be the case that a lot of human airborne pollution got flushed out by the same mechanism that removed the volcanic aerosols, but the “brightening” was due more to nature than to emissions regs.

    It may be fair to say that had we not cleaned out act up the aerosol pollution would have built back up. We’ll have to see whether the Chinese can help out there. ;)

    I derived the following form ERBE data and it seems to match Mt .Pinatubo surprisingly closely:

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=955

    The cumulative integral shows that the change in radiation and the climate response to the eruption started shortly after the event and ran on to the end of the data.

    The does not seem compatible with the change being due emission regulations.

  7. So we can run coal fired power [stations] with the scrubbers on if its a bit cold and turn them off it’s a bit warm.

    We have solved the problem of AGW – the answer is coal!

  8. I’ll take warming over SO2 any day! Unfortunately, it sounds like this paper is big on models and not on data, although I have not read the paper.

  9. With respect to auto emissions, the advent of computer controlled fuel injection had a enormous
    effect, but didn’t become anywhere near universal on new cars (or very effective), until well after the first clean air laws were passed , circa early/mid 1970’s or thereabouts. But it took quite a long time for the auto population to become predominately fuel injected, since no one was going to throw way or junk a perfectly good car just because it had a carburator. So the emission reductions ocurred at a fairy regular rate, over several decades. I find it hard to believe that climate models were designed that did not take this massive change into account. This does provide a good example of why models so often fail. It actually should be fairy easy to roughly estimate the reduction, since the auto data is available : which and how many cars of all makes/models were registered in a given year, including their emission profiles, for all of the years starting in 1980.

  10. Well in California; due to Cal EPA , and CARB rules, our air is now cleaner than it was at the time the very first covered wagon crossed the border, into the California Territory.

    But it is happily getting dirtier, as the preferred business opportunity of the new invaders; excuse me that’s Illegal Aliens; well I meant to say; “Undocumented ” immigrants, is “Dust Blowing.”

    Well they call it “Leaf Blowing”, and we are the world capital for that business.

    My Domestic Environmental Technician, will blow my leaves over onto your yard, so your domestic environmental technician can blow them over to the next guy’s yard, and both of them will blow a lot of dust up in the air.

    This morning, while waiting in my car, for the bank to open, a Corporate Environmental Engineer, came along and blew both leaves, and dust onto my car, so I had to close up all my windows, and put the AC on, while he then blew the leaves and dust off my car.

    So we are working on curing the California too clean air problem; well at least our new amnestasized Democrat voters are.

    But we still don’t have any rain; we’re waiting for that global warming out in the Pacific to kick in.

  11. The reason this matters is it has a direct impact on the rate of future warming. It’s not an argument for more pollution.

  12. George

    We have exactly the same sort of operatives over here in the UK.

    The effort expended in blowing the leaves from their driveway into the street must surely be Much greater than the effort needed to pick up the debris with a dustpan and broom and dispose of it.

    Tonyb

  13. A paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters finds that clean air laws which greatly reduced sulfur dioxide emissions explain 81% of the “brightening” of sunshine and 23% of the surface warming in Europe since 1980. However, the authors note “this phenomenon is however hardly reproduced by global and regional climate models.”

    Are they saying that direct observation and measurements do not necessarily represent global and regional climate models?

    Who knew?

  14. They “found” a correlation. Whoop-de-doo. Whatever effect man’s aerosols have had, are having, or will have is probably, like CO2, too small to matter. It’s not going to save us from the coming cooling, in other words.

  15. We have to remember that whilst removal of pollution has increased sunshine and therefore temperatures, that many of the locations that took accurate readings in the 19th century would have had their values artificially lowered by the effects of this pollution which appeared as everything from a haze to full blown fog.

    In London the city readings were often somewhat lower than places in the country due to this effect. It is the city readings, such as Kew, that have survived.

    Tonyb

  16. Contribution of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols to the changing Euro-Mediterranean climate since 1980 ”
    It’s always heartwarming to know that only human produced aerosols have any effect on the environment, just as only human produced carbon dioxide effects climate. However, I am a little confused when the title refers to “sulphates” and the paper talks about sulfur dioxide.

  17. Solved the pause — hiatus problem, it is the result of all the new coal plants in China and India emitting sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. The pause will end when China and India shut down their coal plants. Perhaps, this is the reason EPA wants to shut down U.S. coal plants.

  18. Actual models assume an increase in aerosols in order to help explain the fact that the world hasn’t warmed as much as the original models had predicted.
    ooops

  19. “Bruce Cobb says:
    July 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    They “found” a correlation. Whoop-de-doo. Whatever effect man’s aerosols have had, are having, or will have is probably, like CO2, too small to matter. It’s not going to save us from the coming cooling, in other words.”

    Actually, I think aerosols and soot (black carbon) would have more of an effect, since they are akin to applying SPF45 sunscreen. And right now, there’s not a good way to study it, because the clean up has been well established AND there’s no way of going back to before the various clean air laws were passed and implemented.

    But, they wouldn’t be causing warming, so much as suppressing what it should be, kind of like putting up an umbrella, at the beach.

  20. Sooooooooo. We get “cleaner” air,the temp goes up. But if we “dirty” it,the temp goes down??? Sorry. Can’t read whole thing as have appt……however something doesn’t jive here.

  21. Kelvin Vaughan says: July 25, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    So shutting down all the coal fired power stations will lead to more warming.

    Modern coal-fired power stations produced insignificant aerosols. The main aerosol of concern is particulate matter less than 2.5 micros (PM2.5). Environment Canada data shows that coal-fired power plants in Canada produce only 0.23% of all human-caused PM2.5 emissions. Coal-fired power plants in Alberta produce only 0.44% of all human-caused PM2.5 emissions. Shutting down coal-fired power plants would have no effect on climate or on aerosol-related health. Data from Environment Canada 2011_NPTES_Feb2013_ENG.xls

    The Pembina Institute is lobbying for shutting down coal-fired power plants by falsely claiming they cause 6% of human-caused PM2.5 emissions.

    http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/3/prweb10574400.htm

  22. From Mark and two Cats on July 25, 2014 at 12:45 pm:

    Reminds me of the California couple who refrained from watering their lawn during the current drought to avoid a $500 fine, but were fined $500 for not watering their lawn.

    California Normal. To keep the Greens happy you should be allowed to have your lawn be in a natural state, which in these weather conditions would be desert with scrub brush.

    You could save water by paving over your lawn. On top you could use a rubberized sealant, perhaps white to combat global warming, or green. As enterprising companies can now “stamp” and colorize common concrete into a realistic depiction of a hand-lain colorful stone walkway or patio, someone should be able to “print” a textured lawn.

    Then there’s always Astroturf. Yards enhanced by plastics for people enhanced by plastics, very fitting.

  23. 23 ± 5 per cent of the surface warming simulated for the period 1980–2012 over Europe.

    Uhm….since the planet hasn’t been warming since the late 90’s, that would mean without the warming due to aerosols…. Europe would actually have been cooling instead for the last 15+ years. Well there ya go. Not only is natural variability large enough to cause the pause, it swamped the warming from brightening too.

  24. george e. smith says:
    July 25, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    _____________________________________

    I’m confused isn’t hotter wetter? Or is that one of those it depends (with a stay dry liner).

  25. You can tell this is done by high-end scientists because they say 81 ± 16 per cent. The cheap guys are more likely to round things to numbers like 80 ± 15 per cent. (You can be 97 per cent sure of that.)

  26. “I’m confused isn’t hotter wetter? ”

    No , hotter is colder, and wetter is dryer, You have not been paying attention have you?

  27. So Global Warming is the fault of the British parliament. Can’t say I’m too surprised. Time to go back to the good old days. Lift these oppressive government regulations and let people cough themselves to death.

  28. Since the 1980s anthropogenic aerosols have been considerably reduced in Europe and the Mediterranean area.
    ///////////////
    I presently live on the shores of the Med, and I can think of very little heavy industry around the Med (Southern Spain, Southern France, West/South coast italy and onto Greece). I am not so familar with the African shore, and there is some petro-chemical shipments from those shores).

    I can’t envisage any significant industry that would have been cleaned up in the Mediterranean area, and if anything the air will be less clean due to the vast expansion in tourism, and flights into the area, and there is now a motorway running along the Med which wasn’t there in the 1980s.

    The air around the Med often has high quantities of particulate matter, being the sands from the Sahara. When it rains (I think where I am that there has only been 3 or 4 days of rain so far this year, the rain is often red due to the sand in the air).

    Aerosol particulates may in addition to acting as a ‘block’ for incoming solar, may also lead to more rainfall. In clouds, pollution/particulate matter acts as a nuclei and helps seed the formation of larger water droplets thus promoting rain.

    More pollution/particulate matter more rain more cooling, whereas less pollution/particulate matter less rain less cooling.

    Of course, warmer sea temperatures may lead to more evaporation and more water vapour perhaps masking the above, but then again the warmer atmosphere will be able to hold more water vapour, so these may largely cancel out. Thus the issue remains seeding.

    So did the authors check the correlation with rainfall to see whether the cleaner air has resulted in less rainfall?

  29. And there you have it. If the Greens want to cool the planet, all they need to do is to build as many high-sulfur hydrocarbon fueled power generators. If that’s not enough, then convert all SUV’s and transport vehicles to steam engines burning the same fuels. And if event that’s not enough, require all homes to install and burn sulfur as part of their heating systems. And if …

  30. Joe Pub;
    Since CO2 has negligible effect on temperatures, it doesn’t matter if they adjusted it on not.

  31. “Note: Sulfur dioxide is an actual air pollutant, unlike harmless, essential, & beneficial carbon dioxide, despite the widespread scaremongering propaganda labelling CO2 as “carbon pollution””

    This was one of the more clever executive/buruecratic manuvers, by defining CO2 as a pollutant it opened the door for the EPA to “manage” CO2 since the EPA’s mandate is to manage pollutants – Congress need not get involved writing laws or anything like that.

    The dishonesty is epic, CO2 is no more a pollutant than salt is a poison. But at this rate, who knows, maybe we will have salt defined as a poison opening the door to the federal government managing potatoe chip saltiness.

  32. I once did a factory tour at chemical company BASF in the early 90s. The guy said that after they had upgraded the production with air filters, a plant that is dependant on a certain sulfur (?) concentration in the environment disappeared in the area.

    Go figure…

  33. “””””…..North of 43 and south of 44 says:

    July 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    george e. smith says:
    July 25, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    _____________________________________

    I’m confused isn’t hotter wetter? Or is that one of those it depends (with a stay dry liner)……”””””

    I said no such thing.

    Please stop posting “george e. smith says”, followed by something, or anything, that I did not ever say.

    If you are citing me; use MY words; they mean exactly what I intended them to mean. Other words, have other meanings.

    I choose to not use other words..

  34. Very soon there will be not much industry in the western countries with the rise of the Peoples Republic of China with no Carbon Tax and cheap labour.

  35. I can believe it. Those ‘lazy, hazy days of summer’ of the 1960s to ~1990s are much reduced now in the mid-Appalachians.

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