Modeling to the 2nd degree: back to the future

More gloomy outlook worries from this NCAR press release: Climate conditions in 2050 crucial to avoid harmful impacts in 2100

Scientists are unraveling a chain of events that led to large-scale warmings and coolings across the Northern Hemisphere during past ice ages. As ice sheets expanded, water levels dropped in the narrow Bering Strait (left) and cut off the flow of relatively fresh water from the northern Pacific through the Arctic into the saltier Atlantic. This altered ocean currents, increasing the flow of Atlantic water northward from the tropics and producing warming in the north Atlantic (right, shown in dark red) that melted ice sheets and affected climate patterns and sea levels across much of the world.

BOULDER–While governments around the world continue to explore strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a new study suggests policymakers should focus on what needs to be achieved in the next 40 years in order to keep long-term options viable for avoiding dangerous levels of warming.

The study is the first of its kind to use a detailed energy system model to analyze the relationship between mid-century targets and the likelihood of achieving long-term outcomes.

“Setting mid-century targets can help preserve long-term policy options while managing the risks and costs that come with long-term goals,” says co-lead author Brian O’Neill, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The study, conducted with co-authors at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, is being published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was funded by IIASA, a European Young Investigator Award to O’Neill, and the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor.

The researchers used a computer simulation known as an integrated assessment model to represent interactions between the energy sector and the climate system. They began with “business as usual” scenarios, developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2000 report, that project future greenhouse gas emissions in the absence of climate policy. They then analyzed the implications of restricting emissions in 2050, using a range of levels.

The team focused on how emissions levels in 2050 would affect the feasibility of meeting end-of-century temperature targets of either 2 or 3 degrees Celsius (about 3.5 degrees or 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively) above the pre-industrial average.

—–Mid-century thresholds—–

The study identifies critical mid-century thresholds that, if surpassed, would make particular long-term goals unachievable with current energy technologies.

For example, the scientists examined what would need to be done by 2050 in order to preserve the possibility of better-than-even odds of meeting the end-of-century temperature target of 2 degrees Celsius of warming advocated by many governments.

One “business as usual” scenario showed that global emissions would need to be reduced by about 20 percent below 2000 levels by mid-century to preserve the option of hitting the target. In a second case, in which demand for energy and land grow more rapidly, the reductions by 2050 would need to be much steeper: 50 percent. The researchers concluded that achieving such reductions is barely feasible with known energy sources.

“Our simulations show that in some cases, even if we do everything possible to reduce emissions between now and 2050, we’d only have even odds of hitting the 2 degree target-and then only if we also did everything possible over the second half of the century too,” says co-author and IIASA scientist Keywan Riahi.

The research team made a number of assumptions about the energy sector, such as how quickly the world could switch to low- or zero-carbon sources to achieve emission targets. Only current technologies that have proven themselves at least in the demonstration stage, such as nuclear fission, biomass, wind power, and carbon capture and storage, were considered. Geoengineering, nuclear fusion, and other technologies that have not been demonstrated as viable ways to produce energy or reduce emissions were excluded from the study.

—–The 2-degree goal—–

Research shows that average global temperatures have warmed by close to 1 degree C (almost 1.8 degrees F) since the pre-industrial era. Much of the warming is due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases, predominantly carbon dioxide, due to human activities. Many governments have advocated limiting global temperature to no more than 1 additional degree Celsius in order to avoid more serious effects of climate change.

During the recent international negotiations in Copenhagen, many nations recognized the case for limiting long-term warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but they did not agree to a mid-century emissions target.

“Even if you agree on a long-term goal, without limiting emissions sufficiently over the next several decades, you may find you’re unable to achieve it. There’s a risk that potentially desirable options will no longer be technologically feasible, or will be prohibitively expensive to achieve,” O’Neill says.

On the other hand, “Our research suggests that, provided we adopt an effective long-term strategy, our emissions can be higher in 2050 than some proposals have advocated while still holding to 2 degrees Celsius in the long run,” he adds.

—–Cautions—–

The researchers caution that this is just one study looking at the technological feasibility of mid- and end-of-century emissions targets. O’Neill says that more feasibility studies should be undertaken to start “bounding the problem” of emissions mitigation.

“We need to know whether our current and planned actions for the coming decades will produce long-term climate change we can live with,” he says. “Mid-century targets are a good way to do that.”

###

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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lowercasefred

As far as their simulations go – GIGO.
Sea levels were down for about 100,000 years (remember the “land bridge”), during which time there would have been no flow from the Pacific to the Arctic. We are supposed to believe that this “all of a sudden” made the glaciers melt at the end of the last glacial period?
Maybe the person who wrote the short article botched the explanation, or maybe I don’t understand, but if that’s what they’re selling, I’m not buying.

Martin Brumby

“Modelling”
Sorry, there is about as much chance of my taking this latest study seriously as there is of the Hubble telescope examining a black hole spotting a little man with a flashlight looking for the circuit board. (H/T The Big Bang Theory)

John Bunt

“Much of the warming is due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases, predominantly carbon dioxide, due to human activities.”
If the premise is wrong, then all of the modeling is wrong.

Henry chance

This modeling is famous for assuming clouds and a variety of other variables remain constant. They of course are unable to test their model in a controlled study. So these models may be 2,3 or 4 degrees too hot or it may cool.

I have to admit – my thoughts were precisely as Martin Brumby states above. “Climate models” is a null phrase in my book.
But it really doesn’t matter what the models say. We already know the solution: world-wide socialism and the destruction of the Western economic system – hopefully with as much lowering of our nasty standard of living as is possible.

dearieme

Our careers are sinking, send help.

WOLF! WOLF! oh yeah they went extinct with thousands of birds and mammals sorry continue on……

—–Cautions—–
Post-normal science can cause oral cancer and is detrimental to healthy brain and respiratory function.

Our careers are sinking, send help.
Actually we know there’s no help any more, but at least we can claim payment for delivering last year’s goods.

kadaka

Modeling to the 2nd degree? How inaccurate, misleading, and downright vile do the models of these climate “scientists” have to be to get a 1st degree conviction?

supercritical

O/T, but is there anything on the heat that is released by human oxidising all that carbon every year. Is this heat measured via the UHI effect? Where does this heat go?
And, if CO2 itself has such a powerful warming effect, how about using it as a double-glazing filler-gas? If there was enough of it used, could it significantly reduce heating bills?

I wonder why they ignored fusion? The first commercial scale plant is planned to be in service within a decade or so. It is virtually guaranteed to be a technology option by 2050.
I consider fusion the most likely long term replacement for the fleet of coal plants.
With or without CO2 as an issue, coal plants still have a lot of negative environmental impacts that make fusion preferable.

rbateman

So, what this di-assuming model is predicting is that
1.) We will enter a Mini Ice Age in the same manner as a regularly scheduled Ice Age
2.) The Mini Ice Age will reach maturity and reverse itself in 40 years in a scaled-down veriosn of the Big Ice Age 80,000 yrs and
3.) By 2050 massive warming will ensue.
And all this is based on a further assumption that cold is good and warm is bad.
That’s 1 unproven assumption and one big stretch of correlation.
If we are supposed to accept this Hollywood Thriller then it’s ok to peddle Sci-Fi grafted onto the Real World and the fruit produced is palatable.
And in the meantime, while the Earth falls into this Ice Age we will cut off the means to survive (energy use) in order to save the Planet by 2100.
Nicely painted into a no-win situation.
Which leads me to ask: Are we talking serious science here, or are we poring over a sci-fi script for the latest blockbuster doomsday thriller?

John

Looking for the actual article, I instead found this article in PNAS even more interesting:
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/01/07/0906531107.abstract
Abstract:
“Decadal-scale climate variations over the Pacific Ocean and its surroundings are strongly related to the so-called Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) which is coherent with wintertime climate over North America and Asian monsoon, and have important impacts on marine ecosystems and fisheries. In a near-term climate prediction covering the period up to 2030, we require knowledge of the future state of internal variations in the climate system such as the PDO as well as the global warming signal. We perform sets of ensemble hindcast and forecast experiments using a coupled atmosphere-ocean climate model to examine the predictability of internal variations on decadal timescales, in addition to the response to external forcing due to changes in concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, volcanic activity, and solar cycle variations. Our results highlight that an initialization of the upper-ocean state using historical observations is effective for successful hindcasts of the PDO and has a great impact on future predictions. Ensemble hindcasts for the 20th century demonstrate a predictive skill in the upper-ocean temperature over almost a decade, particularly around the Kuroshio-Oyashio extension (KOE) and subtropical oceanic frontal regions where the PDO signals are observed strongest. A negative tendency of the predicted PDO phase in the coming decade will enhance the rising trend in surface air-temperature (SAT) over east Asia and over the KOE region, and suppress it along the west coasts of North and South America and over the equatorial Pacific. This suppression will contribute to a slowing down of the global-mean SAT rise.”

Pet

Oh! Now it’s Mid-century? what happened to “time is running out?
Do I hear Bi-centennial?
Millenial?
Semi-Era-ish?
Can I get a mid – Eonic?
Now we’re talking rationally.

Antonio San

Some French blogger, likely from the Jussieu LMD a IPCC contrbutor, was blaming the lack of precision of the 5 to 10 y models run on the butterfly effect, explaining with a straight face that this is the reason why mthe same models predictions should be taken with a higher level of confidence when they predict the climate in 2100… The same luminary who calls himself ICE on the blogosphere also explained that if we run climate models for 5 to 10 years we should get a good answer for the 5 to 10 years predictions. Yes he might even be able to predict yesterday’s weather today too!
So I decided to take this ICE seriously and figured that in order to know with confidence the climate 5 years from now I should look at what was told at least 20 years ago because of this butterfly!
Hansen made predictions and oooooppppsss: we all know what they are worth now do we?
So Mister ICE, looks like the butterfly effect tricked you… LOL

Tom in Florida

“They began with “business as usual” scenarios, developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2000 report”
In the beginning, they were wrong.

John W.

“The researchers used a computer simulation known as an integrated assessment model to represent interactions between the energy sector and the climate system. ”
With over 20 years professional experience in Systems Analysis/Systems Engineering, this was a new one. It turns out that “integrated assessment models” began their “life” in the 1980s as tools to “inform decision makers” in “environmental policy.”
Or, as the ethically challenged in our community used to do, “tell me the answer you want and I’ll build a simulation that gives it.”
Hope these clowns accepted some government money so they can be prosecuted.

Hoi Polloi

Call me stupid, but winds are now predominantly from North/East, while in milder winters they were mostly South/West. Simple explanation for the heavy snowfall and cold snaps.
Now, where can I apply for a research grant?

Susan C.

lowercasefred
not only that: as glacial conditions were just getting going, even before sea levels dropped enough to expose the Bering Strait, year-round sea ice would almost certainly have blocked the Strait for decades (or even centuries) before the continental ice sheets developed [because the Strait is so shallow, cold winters of the 20th century saw sea ice blocking the passage well into summer – wouldn’t take much colder to block it year round].
In other words, blocked flow of Pacific water thru the Bering Strait into the Arctic would have been a feature throughout the entire period, not just at the height of it.

Jack Hughes

Modeling to the second degree. This means you get a first degree in Media Studies then get your second degree in Applied Playstations.

Tom in Florida

“This altered ocean currents, increasing the flow of Atlantic water northward from the tropics and producing warming in the north Atlantic (right, shown in dark red) that melted ice sheets and affected climate patterns and sea levels across much of the world.”
No mention that at that time Earth’s inclination was approaching max, 24.5 degrees, along with NH summer solstice approaching perihelion. Happens every 100,000 years or so.

CAS

Let’s see if they can get it right for 5 years from now, or even just 3 years ahead, then perhaps consider listening. There would still be plenty of time to adapt then.

Doug in Seattle

This waste of research money provides us with another pile of IF’s that fail to provide a foundation for spending trillions of dollars (Pounds, Euro’s etc.) of the people’s money.

Ray

They have to CAUTION the readers… to the effect that this is only one study but surely they need more money to produce more GIGO models…

John

Is the theory in the underlying article (which I couldn’t locate) that the Bering strait land bridge formed only roughly 14,000 to 16,000 years ago, thus causing the gulf stream to bring more warm water north late in the last Ice Age?
If that is the theory, it might be in error. This link suggests that the Bering Strait land bridge first appeared 70,000 years ago and finally disappeared about 11,000 years ago:
http://whyfiles.org/061polar/anthro.html

Claude Harvey

How can we keep our AGW gravy train rolling and continue selling it to a shivering population in the face of grotesquely failed predictions? Why, that’s easy! What we do is to shift our hysterical, computer generated, prognostication time-line far enough out into the future that Mother Nature cannot make us out to be liars or fools within our working careers. Eureka!
Here’s our new story: “Mother Nature is now simply squatting down for leverage like a cliff diver preparing to leap off into the smoldering AGW abyss!”
CH

wsbriggs

vboring (14:21:11) :
“I wonder why they ignored fusion? The first commercial scale plant is planned to be in service within a decade or so. It is virtually guaranteed to be a technology option by 2050.”
I hate to burst your bubble, but this is “Big Physics”, and just like the Climate Folks, they’re dependent on the Gov handouts. Just like the Climate Folks (I’m being nice here) they have disparaged any research which wasn’t “Peer Reviewed” – especially here in the US. Now there are blooming research groups all over the world who have generated more energy in single experiments in low energy nuclear reactions than the big boys experiments combined.
But in one thing you are correct, it will be 2050 before any of the alternatives are commercially viable. Science won’t be rushed, it took over 40 years to get the reactor.

wsbriggs, I think you need to /r/ polywell fusion before making such sweeping generalizing dismissals…

The Brittas Empire

For only a few million, we could create an intervention center where out of control warmists could be removed from their indoctrinating minders for a week or so and could be re-habilitated back into mainstrem society. We could then send them back into the hive to try and save it from itself.
Very good value?

Rebivore

“chain of events” … “As ice sheets expanded, water levels dropped in the narrow Bering Strait (left) and cut off the flow of relatively fresh water from the northern Pacific through the Arctic into the saltier Atlantic. This altered ocean currents, increasing the flow of Atlantic water northward from the tropics and producing warming in the north Atlantic (right, shown in dark red) that melted ice sheets and affected climate patterns and sea levels across much of the world.”
Is it me, or are others also wondering what this has to do with CO2? (Aside from the absolute requirement to mention AGW in order to get their paper published.)

jorgekafkazar

vboring (14:21:11) : “I consider fusion the most likely long term replacement for the fleet of coal plants.”
I fully agree.
“With or without CO2 as an issue, coal plants still have a lot of negative environmental impacts that make fusion preferable.”
The drawbacks of coal have been exaggerated and are less than the drawbacks of not having the resultant energy. But I agree that fusion will be available in 30 to 40 years…IF we take funds from AGW hoax modeling and put them into fusion research.

The drawbacks from coal are actually worse than nuclear fission power, given one coal plant emits more radioactive heavy metal isotopes into the environment in one year than the entire nuclear industry does. And they can sell the radioactive fly ash as filler to cement plants, which winds up in home foundations… Personally I could give a fig about their CO2 emissions.

Brian

I just realized that if I converted all the AGW/climate baloney I’ve read over
the last ten years alone it would be enough to solve the world hunger issue!
What a confused bunch of, yes, baloney.

rbateman

Tom in Florida (14:35:29) :
Now you know thier computers can’t handle that many variables all at once.
When in doubt, punt (look out the window, stupid).

Steve in SC

Making it up as we go along.
Much like the bridge across the Sahara Desert.
They had to tear it down because too many people were fishing off of it causing traffic problems.

I agree with lowercasefred (13:54:36). Low sea level during the Wisconsin Glaciation, and the exposed the Bering land bridge, could not have been the drivers of our Holocene Interglacial, since the land bridge was exposed for tens of thousands of years and Holocene warmth came on suddenly. So that part of the report is messed up.
But it is unclear to me where the chart in the post came from, because I also failed in my attempt to find the actual research paper.

hunter

Fusion has been a ‘decade or two away’ for the last five or six decades.
Fission is just fine.
Coal is OK, inreality.
None of this makes this gigo study any more significant or meaningful.
AGW promoters are over paid SF writers, churning through endless derivative iterations of their apocalypse scenario.

Obama’s nominee to head the TSA is on video claiming Global Warming is just as important as terrorism.
http://hotair.com/archives/2010/01/11/tsa-nominee-global-warming-deserves-parity-with-war-on-terror/
Amazon.com sells pitchforks, but where do I get a torch? On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t commit such thought crimes.

MalcolmS

Many people consistently regard nuclear fusion as the long-term solution, but this was necessarily excluded from this study because of the time-scale required. Yet I understand that Generation IV nuclear reactors, of which a prototype ran in Idaho during the early 1990’s, can use existing nuclear waste as fuel, and in turn result in much reduced-waste with a half-life of only a few hundred years. There is enough existing fuel to meet the world’s energy requirements for hundreds of years to come, while providing a practical solution to the problem of present-day reactor waste. Moreover, such Generation IV reactors are intrinsically safe, and cannot melt-down, while the fuel is of no use to terrorists.
If a determined effort was made to build and deploy such reactors, instead of endless ineffectual wind-turbines, the whole scenario by 2050 could be completely changed. The proposed sums of money consumed by carbon-trading would be better spent addressing this objective, and could completely transform all the assumptions underlying future energy requirements and CO2 emissions.

kadaka

vboring (14:21:11) :
I wonder why they ignored fusion? The first commercial scale plant is planned to be in service within a decade or so. It is virtually guaranteed to be a technology option by 2050.

What news are you reading? Maybe you better add some info here. ITER looks years away from construction, if they do still proceed given the rising costs and the worldwide economic slump, and so far is scheduled to not be turned on until 2018. And it is not for electricity generation. DEMO will follow it, and will be for electricity generation, but is not scheduled for its “test” phase until 2038. But as should be expected, new materials, techniques, and who-knows-what-else will be designed and created before and during its design work, which isn’t slated to start until 2017, the new stuff will be incorporated, with likely some more new stuff worked in during construction… 2038 looks exceedingly hopeful.
Before we see working fusion reactors supplying electricity, I would instead expect “natural fusion” to be used, just stick a solar array in orbit and beam the power down here. That seems a lot more promising and possibly a lot cheaper as well.

Jeremy

The researchers caution that this is just one study looking at the technological feasibility of mid- and end-of-century emissions targets. O’Neill says that more feasibility studies should be undertaken to start “bounding the problem” of emissions mitigation.
They are saying that they have spent all the money they got last year and have come to an all important groudbreaking conclusion – WE NEED MORE FUNDING FOR “MORE FEASABILITY STUDIES TO START BOUNDING THE PROBLEM”.
My guess is that “bounding the problem” will take much more funding of the global warming gravy train and could take at least as long as these guys can keep making things up and/or they retire…

Brian P

we need fusion power, too bad it looks to be off in the fucture

debreuil

I’m not sure what the problem is, but the solution is definitely sending me more money, and right away.

mbabbitt

The sense of panic within the article is palpable: the world will come to an end if we don’t completely change our evil ways. And then they add this caveat, “The researchers caution that this is just one study.” Yeah, well, duh. If that’s the case, why don’t you first do your due diligence and have your work checked independenly before putting this tripe out as science?

I’m sorry, but when it comes to climate science, ozone layer science, tobacco science, nuclear winter science, ocean acidification science, peak oil science, over population science and dental decay science, I’m a skeptic and proud of it!

Layne Blanchard

You can also go to the history channel and watch a nice story about a family of dinosaurs… complete with reptilian mind readings so you will understand what they were thinking…. Science is so amazing…

wayne

So O’Neill’s model now says even an ice age will melt the arctic caps!
My model computations say the exact opposite, the arctic cap will melt little in an ice age. The drop in ocean levels as re-glacierization will drastically drop the Atlantic flow over the north Atlantic ridge east of Greenland, so little melting at all.
But your program and my program do as instructed, don’t they. That’s why programmers love models, they’re good dogs!

is ‘climate model’ and oxymoron, perhaps?

RE: John @14:43
If we have learned anything from recent dendro, it is that we don’t actually “know” anything before recorded history, we just “surmise” from proxies.
How do we actually “know” when the land bridge formed (I think it did, based on the movement of culture from the fertile crescent to the new world) and when it disappeared?

tokyoboy

No problem. In 2050 none of us will be at work and some of us will have passed away. —- O’Neill

kadaka

mikelorrey (15:05:43) :
wsbriggs, I think you need to /r/ polywell fusion before making such sweeping generalizing dismissals…

Polywell fusion? You mean this? It’s so deep in military funding I doubt it’ll ever see civilian use, if it does work. It looks like there is a better chance the weaponized version will be stolen and used against civilians, before it gets used to generate electricity for civilians.
Come on, look at the funding for it. It’s being kept alive with dribbles from the Stimulus Bill. I don’t see that leading to a working reactor anytime soon. The project has now become “jobs saved or created,” and not much else.