CO2 Sensitivity is Multi-Modal – All bets are off

Guest Post by Ira Glickstein

A multi-modal probability distribution, such as the graphic below [from Schmittner 2011], cries out “MULTIPLE POPULATIONS”. Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (expected temperature increase due to a doubling of CO2 levels, all else being equal) is distinctly different for Land and Ocean, with two peaks for Land (L1 and L2) and five peaks for Ocean (O1, O2, O3, O4, and O5).

When a probability distribution includes more than one population, the mean may, quite literally, have no MEANing! All bets are off.

Example of a Multi-Modal Distribution

According to the basic tenets of System Science (my PhD area) probability distributions that inadvertently mix multiple populations often lead to un-reliable conclusions. Here is an easy to understand example of how a multi-modal distribution leads to ridiculous results.

Say we graphed the heights of a group of infants and their mothers. We’d get a peak at, say 25″, representing the average height of the infants, and another at, say 65″, representing the mothers. The mean of that multi-modal distribution, 45″, would represent neither the mothers nor the infants – not a single baby nor mother would be 45″ tall!

If some “alien scientist” re-measured the heights of the cohort of children and their mothers over a decade, the mean would increase rapidly, perhaps from 45″ to 60″. If that “alien scientist” did not understand multi-modal distributions representing different populations, he or she might extrapolate and predict that, a decade hence, the mean would be 75″! Of course, actual measurements over a second decade, as the children reached their adult heights, would have a mean that would stabilize closer to 66″ (assuming about half the children were male). The “alien scientist’s” extrapolation would be as wrong as some IPCC predictions seem to be.

Implications of Multi-Modal CO2 Sensitivity

Schmittner says:

The [graph shown above], considering both land and ocean reconstructions, is multi-modal and displays a broad maximum with a double peak between 2 and 2.6 K [1 K = 1ºC], smaller local maxima around 2.8 K and 1.3 K and vanishing probabilities below 1 K and above 3.2 K. The distribution has its mean and median at 2.2 K and 2.3 K, respectively and its 66% and 90% cumulative probability intervals are 1.7–2.6 K, and 1.4–2.8 K, respectively. [my emphasis]

The caption for the graphic says:

Marginal posterior probability distributions for ECS2xC. Upper: estimated from land and ocean, land only, and ocean only temperature reconstructions using the standard assumptions (1 × dust, 0 × wind stress, 1 × sea level correction of ΔSSTSL = 0.32 K…). Lower: estimated under alternate assumptions about dust forcing, wind stress, and ΔSSTSL using land and ocean data.

So part of the cause of multi-modality is due to different sensitivity to dust, wind, and sea surface temperatures for the combined Ocean and Land data, and part due to differences between Ocean and Land. But, that is only part of the story. Please read on for how Geographic Zones seem to have different sensitivities.

Geographic Zones Have Different Sensitivities

Another Schmittner 2011 graphic, shown below, indicates how different the Arctic, North Temperate, Tropics, South Temperate, and Antarctic zones are. Indeed, there is a startling difference between the Arctic and Antarctic.

Zonally averaged surface temperature change between the LGM and modern. The black thick line denotes the climate reconstructions and grey shading the ±1, 2, and 3 K intervals around the observations. Modeled temperatures, averaged using only cells with reconstructions … are shown as colored lines labeled with the corresponding ECS2xC values.

The thick black line represents the “climate reconstruction” (change in temperature in ºC) between current conditions and those of about 20,000 years ago during the Last Glacial Maximum. The LGM was the coldest period in the history of the Earth in the past 100,000 years. Note that the Tropics were about 2ºC cooler than they are now, the South Temperate zone was about 3ºC cooler, the North Temperate zone about 4ºC cooler, and the Antarctic about 8ºC cooler. However, according to the climate reconstruction, the Arctic was about 1ºC WARMER than it is today!

The estimated CO2 level during the LGM is 185 ppm, quite a bit below the estimated Pre-Industrial level of about 280 ppm, and about half that of the current measured level of about 390 ppm. Thus, IF CO2 DOUBLING CAUSED ALL of the temperature increase from the LGM to the present, the sensitivity for the geographic zones would range from +8ºC (Antarctic) to +4ºC (South Temperate) to +3ºC (North Temperate) to +2ºC (Tropics) to -1ºC (Arctic).

Of course, based on the Ice Core temperature records for several ice ages over the past 400,000 years, the warming 20,000 years after a Glacial Maximum tends to be significant (several degrees). Thus, while increases in CO2, all else being equal, do cause some increase in mean temperatures, it is clear from the Ice Core record, where temperature changes lead CO2 changes by from 800 to 1200 years, that something else causes the temperature to change and then the temperature change causes CO2 to change. Thus, it would be wrong, IMHO, to assign more than some small fraction of the warming since the LGM to CO2 increases.

The colored lines in the above graphic correspond to modeled temperatures based on different assumed CO2 sensitivities, ranging from 0.3ºC to +8.4ºC. The darker blue line, corresponding to a sensitivity of 2.3ºC, is the best match for the thick black climate reconstruction line.

IPCC CO2 Sensitivities are Mono-Modal and have “Fat Tails”

So, how do the IPCC AR4 Figure 9.20 graphs of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity compare to the Schmittner 2011 results? Not too well, as the graphic below indicates!

...Comparison between different estimates of the PDF (or relative likelihood) for ECS (°C). All PDFs/likelihoods have been scaled to integrate to unity between 0°C and 10°C ECS. ...

First of all, notice that NONE of the individual IPCC graphs are multi-modal! Yet, taken as a group, there are several distinct peaks, indicating that each of the researchers characterized only one of a number of multi-modal peaks, and were inadvertently (or purposely?) blind to the other populations. Thus, the IPCC curves, taken as a group, seem to support Schmittner’s results of multi-modality.

For example, compare the green curve (Andronova 01) to the red curve (Forest 06). They hardly overlap, indicating that they have sampled different populations.

There is another, less obvious problem with the IPCC curves. Notice that they each have a relatively “normal” tail on the left and what is called a “Fat Tail” on the right. What does that mean? Well, a “normal curve” has a single peak, representing both the mode and the mean, and two “normal” tails that approach zero at about +/- 3ơ (Greek letter sigma, representing standard deviation). A mono-modal curve may skew to the left or right a bit, which would put the mode (peak) to the left or right of the mean.

The problem with the IPCC curves is that, in addition to the skew, the right-hand tail extends quite far to the right, out to 10ºC and beyond, before approaching zero. According to Schmittner 2011:

High sensitivity models (ECS2xC > 6.3 K) show a runaway effect resulting in a completely ice-covered planet. Once snow and ice cover reach a critical latitude, the positive ice-albedo feedback is larger than the negative feedback due to reduced longwave radiation (Planck feedback), triggering an irreversible transition … During the LGM Earth was covered by more ice and snow than it is today, but continental ice sheets did not extend equatorward of ~40°N/S, and the tropics and subtropics were ice free except at high altitudes. Our model thus suggests that large climate sensitivities (ECS2xC > 6 K) cannot be reconciled with paleoclimatic and geologic evidence, and hence should be assigned near-zero probability….[my emphasis]

Based on the above argument, I have annotated the IPCC figure to “X-out” the Fat Tails beyond 6°C. I did that because any sensitivity greater than 6°C would retrodict a “total snowball Earth” at the LGM which contradicts clear evidence that the ice sheets did not extend equatorward beyond the middle of the USA or corresponding latitudes in Europe, Asia, South America, or Africa. Indeed, if Schmittner is correct, the tails of the IPCC graphs that extend beyond 5°C (or perhaps even 4°C) should approach zero probability.

Conclusions

Schmittner 2011 contradicts the IPCC climate sensitivity estimates and thus brings into question all IPCC temperature predictions due to human-caused CO2 increases.

It is clear from the several, widely-spaced peaks in the IPCC AR4 Figure 9.20 curves that Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity is indeed multi-modal. Yet, ALL the individual curves are mono-modal. Thus, the IPCC figure is, on its face, self-contradictory.

If Schmittner 2011 is correct that sensitivity beyond about 6°C is impossible based on the fact that Tropical and Sub-Tropical zones were not ice-covered during the LGM, the Fat Tails of all the IPCC Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity curves are wrong. That calls into question each and every one of those curves.

The multi-modal nature of CO2 sensitivity indicates that the effects of CO2 levels are quite different between geographic zones as well as between Ocean and Land. Thus, the very concept of a whole-Earth Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity based on a doubling of CO2 levels may be misplaced.

Finally, if CO2 is as strong a driver of surface temperatures as the IPCC would have us believe, how in the world can anyone explain the apparent fact that, given a doubling of CO2 levels, the modern Arctic is about 1°C COLDER than the LGM Arctic?

BOTTOM LINE: The Climate System is multi-faceted and extraordinarily complex. Even the most competent Climate Scientists, with the best and purest of intentions are rather like the blind men trying to characterize and understand the elephant. (One happens upon the elephant’s leg and proclaims “the elephant is like a tree”. Another happens to grab the tail and says with equal certainty “the elephant is like a snake”. The third bumps into the side of the elephant and confidently shouts “No, the elephant is like a wall!”) Each in his or her way is correct, but none can really understand all the aspects nor characterize or predict the behavior of the actual Climate System. And, sadly, not all Climate Scientists are competent, and some have impure intentions.

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Robert of Ottawa

Sorry, THIRD paragraph. Editors need editors too 🙂
[REPLY: Yes, I guess they do. Read the sentence again. -REP]

Eyal Porat

Took me some time, but finally I understood what is said here.
It seems so obvious, considering the enormity an unknown sides of the climate system that it is absolute hubris trying to give predictions on base of the current science, let alone dictate actions…
And, it seems to me there is no “global mean temperature”. It is a fiction.

R. Gates

Ira said:
“Thus, while increases in CO2, all else being equal, do cause some increase in mean temperatures, it is clear from the Ice Core record, where temperature changes lead CO2 changes by from 800 to 1200 years, that something else causes the temperature to change and then the temperature change causes CO2 to change. Thus, it would be wrong, IMHO, to assign more than some small fraction of the warming since the LGM to CO2 increases.”
———–
Of course, that “something else” that causes temperatures to start to change would be Milankovitch cycles with the follow through warming coming from CO2 released from warming oceans as well as less being absorbed by phytoplankton, leading to the rise in CO2 from the LGM to the Holocene maximum of about 100ppm over a period of approximately 10,000 years. The kick-start is the Milankovitch cycle with the thermostat being CO2. After the Holocene climate optimum, CO2 levels were generally steady to falling slightly, like they do during all interglacials, until of course the modern industrial era when CO2 levels rose as much in a few hundred years as they had in the previous 10,000. The small modulations of this long-term climate pattern that we’ve seen for several million years come from solar fluctuations of various durations and intensities, ocean cycles (which are just modulations of solar activity) and of course volcanic activity. The central question is: what will the effect be of raising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years over a time-frame so short so as to not find a parallel in the geologic record?

James

The fact that different authors get peaks at different points does not necessarily imply a multimodal population. I chalk it up to tremendously large error bars myself (Lindzen convinced me that positive feedback estimates are incredibly uncertain).
-J

mpaul

The average human has one testicle and one ovary.
The issue of climate sensitivity *is* the core issue. I think Ira make some very substantial arguments here.

davidmhoffer

R. Gates;
The central question is: what will the effect be of raising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years over a time-frame so short so as to not find a parallel in the geologic record?>>>
If you knew the slightest thing about physics, which you seem to take a certain amount of time, effort and pride to demonstrate you would know the answer.
The long term effects of (for example) doubling of CO2 via a rise over a long period of time are precisely and exactly the same as the long term effects of doubling of CO2 over a short period of time. If doubling of CO2 results in +1 degree, then doubling of CO2 results in +1 degree no matter if it takes 100 years or 10,000 to reach double. Since we know from the very geological record you cite, that high levels of CO2 did NOT result in significantly higher temperatures, the obvious conclusion is that climate sensitivity to CO2 is exceedingly low so as to be insignificant.

David Schofield

R. Gates says:
December 18, 2011 at 10:40 am
“.. The central question is: what will the effect be of raising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years over a time-frame so short so as to not find a parallel in the geologic record”
I think that’s been our sceptical argument all along – it’s an unanswered question.

DirkH

R. Gates says:
December 18, 2011 at 10:40 am
“The kick-start is the Milankovitch cycle with the thermostat being CO2. After the Holocene climate optimum, CO2 levels were generally steady to falling slightly, like they do during all interglacials, until of course the modern industrial era when CO2 levels rose as much in a few hundred years as they had in the previous 10,000.”
So you’re saying Antarctica is warming like hell?

Very interesting. There seems to be a minor mix-up: At the beginning of the subsection “Geographic Zones Have Different Sensitivities,” the graphic has the North Temperate zone at 4 deg. C cooler at the LGM and the South Temperate zone 3 deg. C cooler; but the author’s text immediately following the graphic has this reversed.
[Leigh: THANKS, fixed. Ira]

Gary Pearse

R. Gates says:
December 18, 2011 at 10:40 am
“The central question is: what will the effect be of raising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years over a time-frame so short so as to not find a parallel in the geologic record?”
I’ll let others deal with the correctness of this statement (there have been periods of very much higher CO2 and there have been relatively rapid temp changes with out a clear connection to CO2). All I want to say is that “the central question” after more than a century of warming still remains a question – maybe not so central though now. The frightening warming over about 30 years seems to have reached a hiatus since about 1995 (Phil Jones pointed this out and Trenberth bemoaned the travesty of no change) and in a few years this hiatus looks to be lasting at least 20 years. Surely this takes the “C” off of CAGW at least, because now we know that the galloping warming still can’t out shine natural variability. Maybe it even takes the “A” off in terms of strength of the effect when you consider that all the projections, models, paleo alarm gongs that predicted the hurricanes, sea level acceleration (it too has taken a bend for the flats), snow not being a thing of the past and it returning even to Kilimanjaro, Lake Chad filling up again….. So what we may be left with is a GW cycle that may have run its course. You have to be at least disappointed that things haven’t turned out as was supposed to be 95% certain.

ferdberple

Sunrise and sunset are relatively short as compared to night and day, yet sunrise and sunset are the “statistical average”. According to climate science, sunrise and sunset are what we should expect to see most of the time.
The assumption that there is but a single average temperature is at the heart of climate science. This assumption has never been proven. Indeed there is much evidence that this assumption is wrong.
When you build a house on a poor foundation, you do not get a good result.

DJ

Ira’s height analogy starts out this thread…and I went to Tamino’s to see what was over there on Schmittner….and found Johnny’s Growth!
http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/johnnys-growth/#more-4536

Nic Lewis

Interesting post. I am dubious of the validity of the Schmittner 2011 sensitivity PDF in view of its abnormal, multi-modal shape. I suspect that some methodological issue with the study may be more responsible than the existence of multiple populations, although you may be right – I haven’t looked into it in any detail.
However, I have investigated the AR4 WG1 sensitivity studies in some detail, and I disagree with the statement:
“It is clear from the several, widely-spaced peaks in the IPCC AR4 Figure 9.20 curves that Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity is indeed multi-modal. Yet, ALL the individual curves are mono-modal.”
I think that the differing peaks in AR4 WG1 Figure 9.20 instead reflect the fact that most of those studies (possibly all) have an incorrect central estimate of climate sensitivity. That is not surprising, if one examines the eight studies in detail and sees the extent of their dependence on simulations by GCMs and/or other pretty complex climate models, substantially differing assumptions as to ocean heat uptake and forcings (such as from aerosols), and differing choices of mathematical/statistical methods (some of which are of questionable validity).
Only one of the eight IPCC Figure 9.20 studies (Forster & Gregory 2006) is wholly observationally based, and the IPCC distorted its equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) PDF by multiplying its height, at each value of ECS, by the square of ECS, greatly increasing the fatness of its upper tail.

DirkH

Schmittner combines paleo reconstructions with climate models to arrive at his probabilities, so I wouldn’t give much on his results. We know that the GCMs are incapable of predicting the current climate, in other words, they are wrong; so his results will be affected by that. When the foundation is bogus, what builds on top of that is likely to be even more wrong.
Schmittner’s paper says “Significant discrepancies occur over Antarctica, where the model underestimates the observed cooling by almost 4 K, and between 45-50° in both hemispheres, where the model is also too warm. Simulated temperature changes over Antarctica show considerable spatial variations”
Yeah, they just never get Antarctica right.

nc

So is there any reliable figures with the so called rise in C02 that differentiates between man caused and natural C02. Seems most everyone yelling CAGW leaves that part out.

John B

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Nathan Urban, one of the Schmittner et all co-authors:
————
Q: Does this study overturn the IPCC’s estimate of climate sensitivity?
No, we haven’t disproven the IPCC or high climate sensitivities. At least, not yet. This comes down to what generalizations can be made from a single, limited study. This is why the IPCC bases its conclusions on a synthesis of many studies, not relying on any particular one.
While our statistical analysis calculates that high climate sensitivities have very low probabilities, you can see from the caveats in our paper (discussed further below), and my remarks in this interview, that we have not actually claimed to have disproven high climate sensitivities. We do claim that our results imply “lower probability of imminent extreme climatic change than previously thought”, and that “climate sensitivities larger than 6 K are implausible”, which I stand by. I do not claim we have demonstrated that climate sensitivities larger than 3 K are implausible, even though we calculate a low probability for them, because our study has important limitations.
——-
http://newscience.planet3.org/2011/11/24/interview-with-nathan-urban-on-his-new-paper-climate-sensitivity-estimated-from-temperature-reconstructions-of-the-last-glacial-maximum/
So, definitely somewhat short of a “Nail in the coffin”.
And you do realise they use models, don’t you?

R. Gates

Gary Pearse said: (to R. Gates)
“So what we may be left with is a GW cycle that may have run its course. You have to be at least disappointed that things haven’t turned out as was supposed to be 95% certain.”
——-
As I’ve got no personal “horse in this race”, it would be hard for me to be disappointed or encouraged, but I would suggest that this race is far from over, and in fact is probably coming to one of its most interesting points. We seem to have a rather quiet sun period ahead for a few cycles at least, perhaps not dissimilar to that which we saw during the Dalton minimum, or perhaps, as some suggest, even as deep as the Maunder. Either way, it will be a splendid time for see the true effects and forcing due to solar influences stacked up against the ever increasing levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, with modulation by aerosols tossed in for good measure. Indeed, with all the many ways we have of measuring the many variables of earth, sun, ocean, atmosphere, etc., this will be a most exciting time to following the study of climate. Many favorite theories from both sides of the AGW issue will be tossed aside or seriously modified, and by 2030, we’ll all be the wiser for it.

Syl

I think the emphasis on temperature is misplaced. First, there’s Yellowstone and other super volcanoes. Yellowstone is perhaps ‘overdue’ and when she blows the effect on the life that’s left will be so overwhelming that all this discussion will seem quaint.
Second, I’m fascinated by the reconstructions of CO2 levels over the past 500 million years or so. Basically the CO2 level has gone in one direction–down–while life has proliferated. From the Devonian through the Carboniferous it fell off a cliff as life exploded.
CO2 levels even now are the lowest they’ve been in half a billion years. It looks to me that life (well plant life which is food) removes CO2 from the atmosphere with amazing efficiency. More life means less CO2. We NEED CO2 and we’re actually doing something about it! We should be patting ourselves on the back.
Anything else, like temperature or sea level rise we merely adjust to because nothing is as important to life as food.

John B

The next bit from the same interview is also interesting:
“It is rare that a single paper overturns decades of work, although this is a popular conception of how science works. Many controversial results end up being overturned, because controversial research, almost by definition, contradicts large existing bodies of research. Quite often, it turns out that it’s the controversial paper that is wrong, rather than the research it hopes to overturn. Science is an iterative process. Others have to check our work. We have to continue checking our work, too. Our study comes with a number of important caveats, which highlight simplifying assumptions and possible inconsistencies. These have to be tested further.
There is a great quote from an article in the Economist that sums up my feelings, as a scientist, about the provisional nature of science.
“In any complex scientific picture of the world there will be gaps, misperceptions and mistakes. Whether your impression is dominated by the whole or the holes will depend on your attitude to the project at hand. You might say that some see a jigsaw where others see a house of cards. Jigsaw types have in mind an overall picture and are open to bits being taken out, moved around or abandoned should they not fit. Those who see houses of cards think that if any piece is removed, the whole lot falls down.”
Most scientists I know, including myself, are “jigsaw” types. We have to see how this result fits in with the rest of what we know, and continue testing assumptions, before we can come to a consensus about what’s really going on here.”

I think I like this guy!

Andrew30

R. Gates says: December 18, 2011 at 10:40 am
[what will the effect be of raising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years over a time-frame so short so as to not find a parallel in the geologic record]
Simple: Carbon Dioxide goes up and the Temperature remains the same.
Average Global Temperature Data from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia below, indicates no change in the last 13 years, while Carbon Dioxide has risen by about 30%.
Year Deviation from the base period 1961-90, degrees C
1998 0.529
1999 0.304
2000 0.278
2001 0.407
2002 0.455
2003 0.467
2004 0.444
2005 0.474
2006 0.425
2007 0.397
2008 0.329
2009 0.436
2010 0.470
2011 0.356
Source: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3vgl.txt

Scarface

Thanks Ira, for this very clear post. This strenghtens my opinion that the atmosphere is completely indifferent to any change in CO2, due to the fact that:
A. there is no way to determine how sensible it is because of the fact that that depends of the circumstances as described by you, and
B. the evidence leads to negative feedback in reaction on any change in temperature as described by Lindzen.
We have a remarkable stable climate and earth and atmosphere have survived 4 billions years without burning everything into oblivion. What else can be the conclusion when it’s also known that CO2-levels follow temperature: CO2-levels follow climate conditions. That’s all there is.

Well done! The explanatory examples helped a great deal.

Good to see such a study. Next could someone look at the temporal aspects. Since CO2 releases, human-inspired and otherwise, generally occur close to the ground, and many will have diurnal variations, as well as seasonal ones, it would be unwise to ignore the effects on climate which occur before the assumed high degree of mixing within the local and regional troposphere, and between hemispheres (north and south, Pacific and non-Pacific) has had time to take place. I would imagine that CO2 releases near, for example, the ITCZ, will have different effects from those on during winter in northern Europe. I wouln’t, a priori, expect either effect to amount to much, but such a study might contribute to a more conclusive ‘putting CO2 in its rightful place’ which I think we do need. Not least since the corruption of the IPCC has rendered their pronouncements all but worthless.

Pat Moffitt

Manabe and Wetherwald (1974) The effects of Doubling CO2 concentration of the climate of a general circulation model cautioned this point as well:
“The models of Rasool and Schneider (1971) and Manabe and Wetherald (1967) are globally averaged models. However, the climate of the planet Earth is maintained by the nonlinear coupling between various processes, such as the poleward heat transfer by the atmospheric and oceanic circulations, as well as the vertical heat transfer by reactive transfer and convection. Thus it is clear that one cannot obtain a definitive conclusion, using globally averaged model, concerning the effect of an increase in CO2 upon climate.”
The title of Wanabe and Wetherwald’s paper was also a remarkably honest way to represent their work as the result of a model rather than a representation that it actually represented the complexity of the natural system.

John B

nc says:
December 18, 2011 at 11:52 am
So is there any reliable figures with the so called rise in C02 that differentiates between man caused and natural C02. Seems most everyone yelling CAGW leaves that part out.
—————
Not at all. We know the rise in CO2 is “man caused” because we are emitting about 30Gt per year and the atmosphere is retaining about half of that, the rest being taken up by the oceans. There are also isotopic studies that confirm the source of the CO2 as being from fossil fuels.That the rise in CO2 is “man caused” is one of the few things in climate science that can be considered effectively a certainty.
Need links?

crosspatch

Thus, it would be wrong, IMHO, to assign more than some small fraction of the warming since the LGM to CO2 increases.

What I find interesting is this sudden notion that CO2 was the cause of the late 20th century warming when it was of nearly the same duration and rate as earlier periods of warming.
Let me give an example by analogy.
Imagine that there is a town on a beach someplace and for many years people really didn’t pay much attention to the tides. They knew that the level of the sea varied and simply accepted that … it just varies and it is what it is and sometimes it varies more than at other times and nobody was really much concerned about attempting to control the tides, they simply lived with the hand nature dealt them.
Now lets say the town grows and needs more fresh water and they figure out a way to distill sea water into fresh water. Let’s also suppose there is a guy, let’s call him Jim, doesn’t much like the enterprising people who are making the water because they are making a handsome profit from it. Jim also takes notice of the tides. One day he notices that they are having an unusually low tide. He immediately comes to the conclusion that the water plant is removing water from the ocean and that is the reason the tide is getting lower. He does not draw any attention to the fact that the tides have been this low in the past and that, in fact, they have been varying on a rather regular cycle where tides that time of year tend to be more extreme than at other times of year. Jim decides to alarm up the population and tells them that if the tides continue to decline at the current rate, the harbor will go dry and the livelihood of all the fisherman will be destroyed and the water plant MUST be closed down right away and we must reduce the number of people in the town so that they can survive on the existing sources of water without the operation of the plant.
Well, a strange thing happens. The change in tides reverses. Now the tides begin to increase. Jim is shown to be wrong. At the same time, the people of the town, their attention drawn to this sea, begin to use it for recreation and they start swimming and wading in it in droves. Jim doesn’t much care for the businesses that have sprung up to cater to these people as they are making a handsome profit, especially the swimwear manufacturers. One day Jim is sitting on his porch watching the people playing in the water with contempt when he puts an ice cube in his glass and notices the level of the water rises. He puts another piece in and it rises even more.
Now he gets an idea. He goes to his buddies Phil and Mike who also hate the swimwear people. He explains that he believes he can convince the town council that all those people swimming in the water is causing the tides to rise. And according to his calculations, the rate of growth of swimmers seems to correlate with the rate of the rise of the tides. And if things continue as they are, left unchecked, the number of swimmers will grow to a number that causes the tides to flood the entire city. So Jim begins to sound the alarm. The city council creates a committee to study the problem which Phil joins and gains great influence over. They produce an assessment that validates Jim’s warning. Then they decide to look for someone to help them implement changes to avert disaster. Mike volunteers to (for a fee) consult with the town to create ways to solve the problem. Regulations are drawn up that would limit the number of people who can swim at any given time. They will be charged a swim tax. In addition, it is decided that the attractive swimwear is one reason for the increase in this recreational activity so a tax is placed on that as well. The mayor of the town then has the families of his council create a new business producing very unattractive swimwear in which Mike and Jim and Phil invest. Nobody likes the new swimwear but the government subsidizes it and combined with the tax on the old swimwear, it does become an affordable alternative. The beach and old swimwear tax pays for the subsidy on the new swimwear, the old swimwear people start to lose money, Mike profits handsomely from his consultation, the politicians kin and cronies profit from the new swimwear, Jim is happy that the evil swimwear company and the businesses catering to the swimmers are not doing so well.
But the people HATE the taxes and they hate the swimwear but they go along because they don’t want their town to go under water. Well, just as this is being put into place, something strange happens, the tides begin to reverse and they begin to start to decline again. And about that time, and old timer pipes up and says “Hey, this happens every year. The tides come in and the tides go out … they have been ever since I was born. And the tides are high every year at this time. Remember last spring when we had such high tides?” Now Jim is getting worried. If the townsfolk find out that they have been tricked, he is going to have a very difficult time. He tries to tell the people that the old timer doesn’t know what he is talking about, he’s just a crazy old man who has never been to school and can’t possibly know what he is talking about. Jim goes on to explain that the tides are actually still rising but the rise is “hidden” because the winds have shifted and are now blowing the water out to sea and that the hidden buildup will return with a vengeance when the wind turns and all that water comes flooding back in, the town will be in even worse condition. While he can’t exactly be sure where the water is going, it is obvious that the wind has changed, isn’t it? So who are you going to believe, that crazy old-timer who has never been to school or me, a person who has been to many years of school?
Since the end of the little ice age, we have seen a rise in temperatures. We have also seen that it seems to rise for about 30 years, take a 30 year hiatus, rise for another 30, drop for 30, and rise again. The HadCRUT3 data clearly show a late 19th century rise, a cooling, an early 20th century rise, a cooling and a late 20th century rise that seems to have stopped about 7 years or so ago.
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2004/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2004/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1975/to:2004/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1975/to:2004/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1942/to:1975/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1942/to:1975/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1911/to:1942/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1911/to:1942/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1879/to:1911/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1879/to:1911/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from/to:1879/plot/hadcrut3gl/from/to:1879/trend
Only the late 20th century rise is said to be CO2 related. It is claimed that if we don’t do anything, the rise will continue and accelerate and we will all be flooded and our crops burned out. But it stopped in about 2004. Now we are told the heat is “hidden” someplace but will pop back out of its hiding place with a vengeance when whatever is causing the current cooling stops. Nope, do NOT look at the previous cycles of natural variability, we don’t have natural variation anymore, all climate change is human caused (or something). Do not pay any attention to that previous cyclical variation.
Sorry for such a long comment, I just thought the analogy was a parallel for what is going on with climate change.

Theo Goodwin

The point that Ira makes here is of the most fundamental importance for the claim that climate science is something other than a baby in the birth canal. I would like to make the same point using different terminology. Climate scientists have given no attention to the “systematic” aspects of their so-called science. In particular, when they compare various kinds of temperature measurements they do not have a clue whether or not two measurements should be classified as the same kind of event. The ultimate reason for this inability is that they have no unified set of physical hypotheses that apply to all events of temperature measurement. Actually, the situation is worse than that because they do not have some set of physical hypotheses that apply to just one kind of temperature measurement.
They use common sense entirely and treat proxy tree ring width measurements as comparable to thermometer measurements of air temperature. In doing this, they are Begging the Question (arguing in a circle) as to what makes a temperature measurement comparable to another. It is their duty to create a scientific system that explains why temperature measurement event X is comparable to temperature measurement event Y but they have done no work on this.
Ira, you nailed them. I am so pleased that you made this contribution to our understanding that climate science is a baby in the birth canal and is not a genuine science in any meaningful sense of the phrase. This is a hugely important contribution. You deserve a MacArthur Genius Grant for this one. (Fat chance any skeptic will ever get one.)

R. Gates

Andrew30,
Your use of short-term temperature series, subject as it is to short-term climatic forcing and variations, is inappropriate when looking at the longer-term effects as from CO2. You’d just as well use your short-term series to prove that Milankovitch cycles have no effect on the climate, as it too, can’t be seen in your short-term series.

Bill Illis

I agree Ira that the different modes should give one pause.
But the real reason there are all these different estimates is because “they are just making up the data and the math that goes into them”.
I’ve delved into most of those papers and they do not use real data and new math just appears out of nowhere. For example, does anyone think the high Arctic was +1.0C in the ice ages. Alley 2000 says the Greenland ice cap was -20.0C, the north Atlantic proxies are -5.0C, the sea floor north of Canada shows glacial grooves which pushed right out to the continental shelves. The 0.15C/W/m2 impact of Mount Pinatubo somehow proves 0.75C/W/m2 when GHGs are involved.

Ira:
I believe you’ve erred. Contrary to your understanding, the notion of the equilibrium climate sensitivity (TECS) references no statistical population; there can be no population, as TECS is not an observeable feature of the real world. Rather than referencing a statistical population it references a statistical ensemble; the elements of the latter are the projections of various models.

Andrew30

R. Gates says: December 18, 2011 at 10:40 am
[what will the effect be of raising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years over a time-frame so short so as to not find a parallel in the geologic record]
R. Gates says: December 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm
[Your use of short-term temperature series, subject as it is to short-term climatic forcing and variations, is inappropriate when looking at the longer-term effects as from CO2. ]
R. Gates, you did ask about short-term. Perhaps you have a problem with sort-term memory, so I have grouped your statements in one place (above) so you can refresh your goal posts.
Carbon Dioxide goes up and Temperature stays the same, for Natural Reasons.

Jordan

The above article makes a lot of sense.
Aggregate statistical properties of multi modal distributions cannot be reliably interpreted. This neatly compliments the objection that average temperature has no physical meaning.
Arguments constructed on the validity of global mean temperature must therefore justify themselves on both of the above points.
If peer review does not insist on this, our most prestigious scientific journals could be infected by sub-prime scientific philosophy. (Ho Ho, as they say)

DirkH

R. Gates says:
December 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm
“Andrew30,
Your use of short-term temperature series, subject as it is to short-term climatic forcing and variations, is inappropriate when looking at the longer-term effects as from CO2. ”
R. Gates, absorption and re-radiation of LWIR is near-instantaneous, so that’s obviously not a “longer-term effect”. What other longer term effect could there be? Ah, yes, an accumulation of energy, measurable as heat. So, CO2 could theoretically lead to such an accumulation, and we could call that a longer-term effect. But we can’t find the heat. Even Kevin Trenberth can’t find it. And when no energy accumulates, what’s left? What “longer-term effect” do you suspect that we can’t measure?

Andrew30

Question was:
[what will the “effect be of raising CO2” to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years over a “time-frame so short” so as to not find a parallel in the geologic record]
Response was:
Carbon Dioxide goes up and the Temperature stays the same.
R. Gates says:
Your use of short-term temperature series [which was the original question], subject as it is to short-term climatic forcing and variations [as asked in the original question], is inappropriate when looking at the longer-term effects as from CO2 [redirect original question from short-term].
You’d just as well use your short-term series [actually not Anrdew30s but rather CRU Time Series] to prove that [Straw man redirect attempt begin] Milankovitch cycles have no effect on the climate [Straw man redirect attempt end], as it too [re-enforce straw man], can’t be seen in your [again not Andrew30’s but rather CRU] short-term series [re-direct from original question copmplete].

pat

Very interesting. And this assumes a CO2 effect that as yet has not occurred, ie a continuum of warming.

DirkH

John B says:
December 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm
“There are also isotopic studies that confirm the source of the CO2 as being from fossil fuels.That the rise in CO2 is “man caused” is one of the few things in climate science that can be considered effectively a certainty.”
Dr. Murry Salby has a different opinion about the antropogenic isotope “fingerprint”, namely that it is not distinguishable from natural sources:
Jo Nova:
http://joannenova.com.au/2011/08/blockbuster-planetary-temperature-controls-co2-levels-not-humans/
Podcast:
http://www.thesydneyinstitute.com.au/podcast/global-emission-of-carbon-dioxide-the-contribution-from-natural-sources/
A year earlier, Dr. Roy Spencer said:
“1. The interannual relationship between SST and dCO2/dt is more than enough to explain the long term increase in CO2 since 1958. I’m not claiming that ALL of the Mauna Loa increase is all natural…some of it HAS to be anthropogenic…. but this evidence suggests that SST-related effects could be a big part of the CO2 increase.
2. NEW RESULTS: I’ve been analyzing the C13/C12 ratio data from Mauna Loa. Just as others have found, the decrease in that ratio with time (over the 1990-2005 period anyway) is almost exactly what is expected from the depleted C13 source of fossil fuels. But guess what? If you detrend the data, then the annual cycle and interannual variability shows the EXACT SAME SIGNATURE. So, how can decreasing C13/C12 ratio be the signal of HUMAN emissions, when the NATURAL emissions have the same signal???
-Roy”
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/01/25/double-whammy-friday-roy-spencer-on-how-oceans-are-driving-co2/

crosspatch

About your -2C cooling of the tropics during the last glaciation, you might want to have a look at:
http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/bush9901.pdf

1. Introduction
One of the more perplexing problems confronting scientists attempting to reconstruct the climate of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) is the mounting evidence for tropical cooling of ~6C [Guilderson et al., 1994; Stute et al., 1995; Rind and Peteet, 1985; Thompson et al., 1995]. This cooling is significantly larger than the -2C proposed by the Climate: Long-Range Investigation, Mapping, and Prediction (CLIMAP) Project [1981] as well as by other studies [Broecker, 1986; Lyle et al., 1992].

If that is the case, it puts the tropics closer in like with Antarctica

DirkH

John B says:
December 18, 2011 at 11:59 am
“[That scientist:] “Those who see houses of cards think that if any piece is removed, the whole lot falls down. Most scientists I know, including myself, are “jigsaw” types. We have to see how this result fits in with the rest of what we know, and continue testing assumptions, before we can come to a consensus about what’s really going on here.”
I[John:] think I like this guy!”
I think he’s wrong about the house of cards vs. jigsaw classification with regard to IPCC consensus science.

John B

DirkH says:
December 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm
John B says:
December 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm
“There are also isotopic studies that confirm the source of the CO2 as being from fossil fuels.That the rise in CO2 is “man caused” is one of the few things in climate science that can be considered effectively a certainty.”
Dr. Murry Salby has a different opinion about the antropogenic isotope “fingerprint”, namely that it is not distinguishable from natural sources:
Jo Nova:
http://joannenova.com.au/2011/08/blockbuster-planetary-temperature-controls-co2-levels-not-humans/
Podcast:
http://www.thesydneyinstitute.com.au/podcast/global-emission-of-carbon-dioxide-the-contribution-from-natural-sources/
A year earlier, Dr. Roy Spencer said:
“1. The interannual relationship between SST and dCO2/dt is more than enough to explain the long term increase in CO2 since 1958. I’m not claiming that ALL of the Mauna Loa increase is all natural…some of it HAS to be anthropogenic…. but this evidence suggests that SST-related effects could be a big part of the CO2 increase.
2. NEW RESULTS: I’ve been analyzing the C13/C12 ratio data from Mauna Loa. Just as others have found, the decrease in that ratio with time (over the 1990-2005 period anyway) is almost exactly what is expected from the depleted C13 source of fossil fuels. But guess what? If you detrend the data, then the annual cycle and interannual variability shows the EXACT SAME SIGNATURE. So, how can decreasing C13/C12 ratio be the signal of HUMAN emissions, when the NATURAL emissions have the same signal???
-Roy”
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/01/25/double-whammy-friday-roy-spencer-on-how-oceans-are-driving-co2/
——————————-
I trust you are equally skeptical about these guys’ results.
So, if the rise in CO2 is not due to man:
1. Where is our 30 Gt / year going?
2. Why is the ocean a net sink of CO2, not a source (it’s getting more acidic/less alkaline due to CO2 take-up)?
3. Where is the extra CO2 coming from if it’s not the oceans and it’s not fossil fuel burning?

Kelvin Vaughan

It’s not getting hotter. The temperature is spending more time at the hot end of the normal range. Using anomolies is misleading. If you look at the hadcrut3vgl plot you can see the reduction over time.
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3vgl.txt

This just tells me that systems science is not physics, and climate science is so bad that systems scientists think they can improve it. Sorry, but they cannot — because they don’t understand that climate science is a fundamental failure now, and cannot be saved by mere statistical re-interpretations of consensus-approved evidence (I remind you that the consensus disapproves, and ignores, evidence it doesn’t like). Compare this to my simple Venus/Earth temperature comparison, which not only invalidates the greenhouse effect entirely (CO2 climate sensitivity is zero), reforms the physics of atmospheric warming, and confirms the Standard Atmosphere as the equilibrium state of the atmosphere (predominant over any and all variations from that state), but also invalidates the radiative transfer theory (which believers say “proves” the greenhouse effect) as the ruling physics of atmospheric warming. Very few want to face this fact, that the physics of atmospheric warming has gone wrong, simply because climate scientists chose to forget the Standard Atmosphere, and instead embrace the “greenhouse effect” and a “runaway climate” bogeyman.

crosspatch

Another thing that may not be fully appreciated is that the oceans were saltier at the LGM than they are today. This is for two reasons. First was the transfer of water out of the oceans onto land which left more salt in the oceans and the second was due to brine rejection due to the increased ocean extent.
This would have resulted in some changes in ocean circulation. For example, today the North American Deep Water is more saline than the Antarctic Bottom Water. During the LGM, this situation was reversed. The Southern Ocean was apparently much saltier during the LGM than it is today. Basically, there are so many things that increase temperatures in various regions that it is difficult to tell how much change is due to a variation of a single factor. A wind change, for example, can have a huge impact on Greenland or Iceland or Svalbard temperatures. A change in salinity can, too, can alter the themohaline circulation. Today being more “thermo” than during the LGM and at the LGM being more “haline” than today.

Andrew30

DirkH says: December 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm
What “longer-term effect” do you suspect that we can’t measure?
It only takes a small amount of mass to hide the missing heat.
The missing energy has coalesced in to Higgs-Bozos in Europe and the gravitational effect has caused the mass of multiple satellites and recent satellites launches to re-enter the atmosphere. This has slowed the post-1950 mass loss of Earth and prevented the removal of vast amounts of energy (E=MC2) from the planet. What is needed for the investigation are more expensive gravity wave detectors (not located near rail lines) to quantify the catalytic effect of Carbon Dioxide in the Photon to Higgs-Bozos conversion.

Peter Miller

The inclusion of this kindness was totally unnecessary – this group are hell bent on ruining the world economy to cure a non-existent problem.
“And, sadly, not all Climate Scientists are competent, and some have impure intentions.”

Arno Arrak

What a waste of time and effort. Carbon dioxide sensitivity is simply zero, no matter how you slice it. It follows from Ferenc Miscolczi’s work on absorption of infrared radiation by the atmosphere. Using NOAA database of weather balloon observations that goes back to 1948 he was able to show that the transmittance of the atmosphere to outgoing IR has been constant for the last 61 years. During that same time period the amount of carbon dioxide in the air increased by 21.6 percent. This means that he addition of this amount of carbon dioxide to air had no effect whatsoever on the absorption of IR by the atmosphere. This is an empirical observation, not derived from any theory. Time to put away those nineteenth century calculations by Arrhenius and Tyndall and listen to what nature tells us about infrared absorption by the atmosphere. First of all, with no absorption from added carbon dioxide there can be no enhanced greenhouse effect, hence sensitivity is zero. This result does not mean that there is no theory, however. There is one, and it is this Miskolczi theory that nature follows, not something from the nineteenth century that IPCC is still pushing. This Miskolczi theory sets a cap on the total absorption of IR by the atmosphere so that if any greenhouse gas should increase this increase is compensated for by reduction of water vapor in the air. This is possible because unlike other gases there is an infinite supply of it from the ocean. According to this, adding more carbon dioxide simply lowers the amount of water vapor in the air and keeps the total absorption unchanged. Miskolczi’s observations of the NOAA weather balloon data are only possible if this is what actually happens. Note that this is the exact reverse of what IPCC climate models assume. That carbon dioxide which was added to air did not miraculously disappear and does absorb but this absorption is compensated for by the reduction of water vapor in the air that automatically takes place. Miskolczi also calculated the theoretical value of the required cap to atmospheric absorptivity and found that it must have an optical thickness of 1.86 in the infrared. This corresponds to a 15 percent transmittance for outgoing infrared radiation by the atmosphere. Next, using seven subsets of the NOAA database to calculate separate values for this optical thickness he found them all to come very close to the theoretical value of 1.86. This result was reported to the EGU meeting in Vienna last April. All I can say is, why are these guys still babbling about sensitivity?

Richard G

R. Gates says: “The central question is: what will the effect be of raising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years over a time-frame so short so as to not find a parallel in the geologic record?”
*******************************
A short answer: The effect will be an explosion of growth by the plant kingdom followed by an expansion of the animal kingdom, enabled by the increased carrying capacity of the biosphere’s primary energy storage medium. Carbohydrate from CO2.

Edim

1. Where is our 30 Gt / year going?
One part remains in the atmosphere (in warmer years more), the other part goes into reservoirs (oceans mostly, in colder years more)
2. Why is the ocean a net sink of CO2, not a source (it’s getting more acidic/less alkaline due to CO2 take-up)?
Because of the anthropogenic input. Atmospheric CO2 is determined by climatic factors (temperature). So, the anthropogenic emissions will be distributed between the atmosphere and the oceans according to the climatic factors.
3. Where is the extra CO2 coming from if it’s not the oceans and it’s not fossil fuel burning?
Extra CO2 in the atmosphere is mostly from the oceans, maybe a small part is from burning carbon.

Oso Politico

Apart from all the theories and models, what seems to me to be the basic problem in understanding the relationship between all of the factors (finite?) in climate change is the lack of reliable and replicable data. How long will it take to get ‘reliable’ date? Who knows? I know I won’t be around when that question is answered. The Warmistas call upon the Precautionary Principle, and demand that something be done now, in spite of the lack of understanding about climate. On the other hand, there is the age-old advice to physicians: First, do no harm.

davidmhoffer

R. Gates;
As I’ve got no personal “horse in this race”, it would be hard for me to be disappointed or encouraged>>>
Really? Then why did you defend Al Gore’s on air experiment to the point that you were willing to bet it was accurate and clingingto your position was becoming increasingly idiotic? Why did you over a considerable period of time claim to be 25% skeptic and 75% warmist until you were challenged to produce a single instance in which you presented a skeptical point of view?
Really R. Gates, you must be wondering why it is that I go out of my way to debunk you, perhaps you even feel like I’m picking on you. I am. The notion that you do not have a “horse in this race” doesn’t hold up to even a brief scrutiny of your many comments on this site over a considerable period of time. That, in a nutshell, is the crux of the problem. People claiming one thing and saying another.
Your claim to be neutral is nothing but a smoke screen to try and provide your pro-warmist comments with more credibility than they otherwise deserve. All you need do to get me to stop picking on you is to approach the topic with facts and logic instead of smokescreens painting yourself as something you clearly are not.