Weekly Area of Snow Extent

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I got to thinking about snow the other day. It was occasioned by my look at the correlation (both positive and negative) of temperature and albedo. Albedo is a measure of how much sunlight is reflected from the clouds and the surface. The greater the albedo, the more sunlight is reflected. Here’s the graph that set me pondering:

correlation temperature and albedo ceres 10 yearFigure 1. Correlation between surface temperature and albedo. Negative correlation (blue and green) means the albedo goes down (less reflected sunlight) as the surface warms. Positive correlation (red and orange) means the albedo goes up (more reflection) as the surface warms. Gray line shows zero value.

In the red and orange areas, which are mainly in the tropics, the albedo goes up as temperatures rise. This is generally because clouds form as temperatures rise, reflecting more sunlight and cooling the earth. In the blue and green areas, on the other hand, the albedo goes down as temperatures rise. Over the extratropical land, much of this change is from snow and ice. As the land warms, snow melts and the albedo goes down. And as the land cools, snow falls and the albedo goes up. This is a positive feedback, with warming leading to increased solar energy, and cooling leading to less solar energy.

One thing that is highlighted by this map is that the positive feedback from the changes in sea ice are much smaller than the feedback from the changes in snow and ice on land, for several reasons.

The first one is the small area of the sea ice variations. Note that the feedback is only in the areas that are seasonally uncovered and covered by sea ice—permanently ice-covered areas don’t have much albedo change. Net annual variation in Arctic sea ice is about ± 5 million square kilometres. This is only about 1% of the area of the globe.

Another reason the changes on land are larger is that when snow melts, it exposes soil and plants, both of which have low albedos. But when sea ice melts, it reveals ocean … and the albedo of the ocean at low sun angles is already pretty high. As a result, the melting of the ice doesn’t change the albedo as much as the melting of the snow.

Another reason the land varies more is that snow extends much closer to the equator than sea ice. As a result, the sun rises much higher over snow than sea ice, and thus the snow intercepts more sunlight than the same area of ice up near the poles.

Another reason is that as you can see from Figure 1, the negative correlation of the albedo and temperature is greater over northern lands than northern oceans.

All of this has made the snow-covered areas of the northern hemisphere the main suspects in the onset of the ice ages. The generally accepted theory is that the so-called “Milankovitch” variations in the earth’s orbit change the amount of sunshine hitting the northern hemisphere. When the northern hemisphere summer sunshine gets weak enough, the snow on the northern land doesn’t melt back as far. This residual snow reflects more sunlight, which leads to cooler temperatures, which leads to more snow, which leads to more reflected energy … I’m sure you can see the end of this story, glaciers a mile thick covering Chicago.

Now, people seem to have a strange need to believe in some kind of existential threat hanging over our heads. There appears to be a desire to worry about something, as long as it is dire and a couple of decades away. In the past we’ve filled this need by worrying about the “population bomb”, or the “ecological footprint”, or the dreaded arrival of “peak oil”. Nowadays, it seems like “global warming” is taking over the role of the scourge du jour.

Me, I prefer to only concern myself with real possibilities of real harm. We’ve seen a couple of degrees warming since the Little Ice Age, and overall the effects have been beneficial to humans, plants and animals. I have no concern about the fabled Thermageddon of a couple degrees more warming—the effects are not grave, will likely be beneficial, and I have strong doubts that it will happen this century.

Another ice age, on the other hand, seems to be both inevitable and very destructive. And to raise the stakes, near as scientists can tell the next ice age either due or overdue … this is already the longest of the “interglacials”, the historical periods in between the ice ages.

So I would suggest that we keep a fairly close watch on the snow cover of the northern hemisphere. Because when the apparently  inevitable ice age comes ’round again, it seems to me that the first sign will be an increase in the snow cover in North America and Eurasia.

Fortunately, the good folks at Rutgers University have a dataset showing the weekly area of the extent of the snow in the northern hemisphere that goes back forty years or so. Here’s that data:

northern hemisphere weekly snow extent

Figure 2. Rutgers University snow extent data. Note the missing data prior to 1972. Data Source: Rutgers Snow Extent Data

So … how is the extent of the snow trending over time? Well, if we look at the complete data, which extends from 1972 to present, here’s how that breaks down:

decomposition rutgers snow extentFigure 3. Decomposition of Rutgers snow extent data. Top row is observations. Second row shows the trend in the 52-week mean. Third row is the regular seasonal variations. Bottom row is the residual variation once the seasonal and overall trends are removed. Note the different scales on all four rows.

The second row in Figure 3, entitled “trend”, shows the changes in the mean value over time. The snow area generally dropped during the first half of the record. Subsequently, it first rose and then remained level in the second half. So the good news is that we don’t appear to be started into an ice age. The other good news is that we also don’t seem to be headed for a time when our children won’t recognize snow … overall, like most climate records, not a whole lot going on. However, that is unlikely to last forever.

Finally, some speculation. I have long held that the main two ways that we affect local climate are through land use, and also via airborne soot (or “black carbon”) and “brown carbon”. Brown carbon is the airborne carbon from inefficient combustion of wood, coal and other fuels. In addition to coming from forest fires, brown carbon mainly comes from billions of cheap stoves and open cooking and heating fires in the developing world. Because of the prevailing winds, a goodly amount of the soot and brown carbon produced in the northern hemisphere falls on the northern snow and ice. And because the carbon compounds are dark in color, they are warmed by the sun. This leads to a more rapid melting of the snow. It has been suggested that this is the reason for the retreat of the European glaciers since the 1800s.

Now, humans have been dumping large quantities of soot into the atmosphere for quite some time now, ever since we managed to tame fire. And presumably, for all that time that soot has helped to melt the northern hemisphere snows and glaciers, so they didn’t start lingering further and further into summer. So … would it not be truly ironic if pollution, in the form of soot and brown carbon,  were all that has been holding off another ice age? And wouldn’t it be a cosmic joke if our efforts to clean up soot and brown carbon pollution were the straw that broke the back of the Holocene, and ushered in the new ice age?

Do I think that’s the case, that soot is all that is keeping the next ice age at bay? Y’know … I truly don’t have a clue whether that’s true or not. That’s one beauty of climate science, that there are so many mysteries.

I’m just saying, I’m keeping an eye on the snow extent …

w.

DATA AND CODE:

I’ve posted up a .csv file containing the Rutgers data here, and the R code to read it is here.

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milodonharlani

The Holocene is not the longest interglacial. The Eemian lasted longer, & considering just the last 500,000 years, MIS 11 was the longest. It was also probably the warmest. Going all the way back to the onset of the Pleistocene, there may have been longer interglacials, but I don’t know.

Wyguy

Good read Willis, I’m keeping my eyes on the snow cover too as I might want to get the car out of the garage.

I’ve shovelled all the low albedo I want to. So, if we don’t get much in Richmond and lot’s where I’m not, that’s just fine.

Thanks. Great read. Scrap all the climate models and concentrate on land use, welcoming the increased CO2 since it keeps the temperate region from going into an ice age, but does no damage to the tropics, since there is already a sufficient negative feedback from increased albedo.

Correction, I shovelled lot’s of low albedo on the farm and the high albedo when I lived in the frozen north. My kids who live in Michigan and Alaska can shovel the high albedo for me. I’ll stick to looking at the low variety.

tadchem

The areas of strongest NEGATIVE correlation would appear to be areas susceptible to formation and disappearance of glaciers – the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains of the US and areas of Tibet, Mongolia and Khazakstan. These would also seem to be areas where the ambient temperature cycles most frequently above and below 0° C.

Willis Eschenbach

milodonharlani says:
October 18, 2013 at 11:16 am

The Holocene is not the longest interglacial. The Eemian lasted longer, & considering just the last 500,000 years, MIS 11 was the longest. It was also probably the warmest.

Thanks, Milodon. Whether the Holocene is the longest interglacial depends on how you define “length” regarding an interglacial. It is either the longest or second longest depending on that definition. And there is also debate on the question of “warmest”.
My point remains. By all astronomical Milankovitch calculations, we should be falling back into an ice age somewhere around now. To date there’s no sign of it, which is good … but there’s always tomorrow.
All the best,
w.

Jeff L

“So … would it not be truly ironic if pollution, in the form of soot and brown carbon, were all that has been holding off another ice age? And wouldn’t it be a cosmic joke if our efforts to clean up soot and brown carbon pollution were the straw that broke the back of the Holocene, and ushered in the new ice age?”
—————————————-
As a geologist, I have often contemplated the same thing.
3 inches of fresh snow on the west side of Denver this morning & 2nd snow of the week. The snow season here on the Front Range is definitely getting off to a faster start than recent years.

I think that changes in global albedo caused by solar induced cloudiness variations override the balance between the reflective capabilities of the equatorial and poleward regions which Willis has noted.
If solar activity were to remain stable then the former would pretty much balance the latter with variations in ice and snow towards the poles matching opposite sign variations in equatorial cloud activity.
More snow and ice towards the poles would cool the system by reflecting more solar energy but the reduced climate activity would result in less active equatorial clouds and more solar energy into the oceans to compensate.
Less snow and ice towards the poles would warm the system by reflecting less solar energy but the increased climate activity would result in more active equatorial clouds and less solar energy into the oceans to compensate.
That would be in accordance with the various thermostat theories that have been around for some time.
However, I suggest that when solar variations occur that balance is upset and the proportion of ToA insolation getting into the oceans can change without a sufficient compensating change elsewhere and that will drive changes in the energy content of the entire climate system (which includes the oceans).
I have previously explained how solar variations are amplified because the sun can alter global cloudiness by changing the gradient of tropopause height between equator and poles via UV effects on ozone amounts and ozone distribution in the stratosphere.
My New Climate Model describes the consequent cascade of events that results in the observed climate changes.
The effects of soot and aerosols et al in the troposphere would only slightly influence the balance between snow, ice and equatorial clouds. The big game changer is solar induced variations in global cloudiness, albedo and the proportion of ToA insolation that enters the oceans

Latitude

don’t forget, when Antarctic ice is out to 60 south…..that’s the equivalent of all of Alaska and most of Canada

In case I’m still the first person to mention this, the second paragraph has an error. I think sentence six should be “And as the land cools, snow falls and the albedo goes up.”
[Thanks, fixed. -w.]

milodonharlani

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 18, 2013 at 11:33 am
No matter how you define it, MIS 11 (the Vigo interglacial) & the Eemian were longer than the Holocene to date. A lot longer in the case of the Vigo (~31,000 years).
http://onlinebiblio.lneg.pt/multimedia/associa/base%20mono/34834.pdf
Peak warmth of the Vigo is somewhat controversial.
Opinions differ as to the probable length of the Holocene. Some think it will be a super-interglacial, possibly lasting up to two 26,000-year equinoctial precessions, instead of the usual fraction of one (the Vigo excepted). Other students of the subject agree with you that it might not even equal the ~16,000-year Eemian, which is also my not very well-informed opinion.

Adam from Kansas

My first reply here in a while, but funny you should mention the fact that you were thinking about snow.
It wasn’t long after my first read of the article that I started seeing snowflakes coming down in our area. (I’m not kidding, Wichita Kansas in mid October, and it’s snowing). To my knowledge this is even earlier than the 1992 snow that fell around Halloween (despite this one not accumulating yet). It seems to me like you’re right on the money of there being no danger of kids not knowing what snow is (or maybe the EPA’s newly minted CO2 regulations worked a lot faster than we thought and the planet’s now saved, joking by the way).
On top of that, the last spotting of flakes earlier this year was May 1st, which was part of an unusually drawn out series of cold snaps. If our early snowflake spotting becomes a good hint of what to expect during the Winter, than it looks like those forecasting severe cooling and rising snow-cover might be onto something. If the soot up north is indeed delaying the more severe cooling, than perhaps one should consider emitting more of it so we can maintain our growing seasons (and with the extra CO2 become ever more productive).

MJPenny

Willis, it is nice to know I am in the same boat with you in thinking that land use and soot are the main two affects on local climate. This is where we take most of our measurements of weather to “create” local/regional/world climate values. We measure in areas most affected by land use changes and soot production.

Seems like a new and important look at the data. Willis’ conclusions fit with the ice-core records showing the fall-off in temperature since the Holocene optimum is more gradual than after previous optima. The analysis also suggests that humans are in a position to make the next ice-age rather mild.

David L. Hagen

Willis
Before dismissing “peak oil”, look at the data graphed by petroleum geologist Jeffrey Brown in The Export Capacity Index
At historic trends to date, China and India will consume ALL Available( Oil) Net Exports in 15 years by about 2028. Global public debt has doubled in the last decade and fuel prices skyrocketed to as high as the economies could bear. Those “hidden” trends promise severe fiscal consequences far before any thermageddon or ice age.
See ASPO-USA http://peak-oil.org/2013/09/the-export-capacity-index/
Actuary Gail Tverberg at OurFiniteWorld.com has numerous presentations with further sobering evidence for the strong of heart. Now how do we provide enough liquid fuel to keep transport and our economies moving? (PS Shale oil is not a long term answer.)

Jimbo

I vaguely recall Warmists have pointed to NH declining Spring snow extent since 1967. If this starts to go up, for whatever reason, then start worrying.
Winter snow extent upward trend since 1967.
Autumn snow extent slight upward trend since 1967.

milodonharlani

Jimbo says:
October 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm
No worries. With nuclear fusion power, people can just point giant blow driers at the accumulating snow during the next Less Little Ice Age Cold Period, c. AD 2650.

GregF

Willis (or anyone),
Why are the oceans outside the tropics mostly negatively correlated? (eg. yellow / green / blue) while the oceans in the tropics are mostly positively correlated? (eg. orange / red).
One thing even I know is it has nothing to do with snow and ice.
And since we know snow and ice aren’t the cause of the variation of correlation over the oceans, it seems like a huge jump to assume it is the cause over land.
I think the albedo correlation aspect of this blog post needs some major support before it is meaningful.

Willis Eschenbach

milodonharlani says:
October 18, 2013 at 11:55 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 18, 2013 at 11:33 am
No matter how you define it, MIS 11 (the Vigo interglacial) & the Eemian were longer than the Holocene to date. A lot longer in the case of the Vigo (~31,000 years).

Thanks, Milodon. I just downloaded the data from the Epica ice core, and upon re-examination, by and large I have to say that the EPICA data agrees with you … and my point still remains.

Now, when I look at that, I say “Yikes! We could have another ice age at any time”. In part it’s the length of the Holocene, and in part it’s that the other interglacials rose to a peak temperature … and very soon thereafter, they started dropping quickly to glacial temperatures.
The Holocene, on the other hand, rose to a peak, but has only been dropping very slowly. It has maintained a fairly flat plateau for a long, long time now. I see nothing in the historical record to indicate that we couldn’t enter another ice age tomorrow …
w.

There is a classical paper which calculated astronomically that the next ice age is not due for 50000 years.
Berger A and Loutre MF (2002) An exceptionally long interglacial ahead? Science 297 (5585): 1287-8

Willis Eschenbach

David L. Hagen says:
October 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Willis
Before dismissing “peak oil”, look at the data graphed by petroleum geologist Jeffrey Brown in The Export Capacity Index
At historic trends to date, China and India will consume ALL Available( Oil) Net Exports in 15 years by about 2028.

Like I said … folks love to obsess about claimed future disasters a couple of decades away, and David, your post just proves my point.
Me, I’ve been listening to Peak Oilers since King Hubbert first published his predictions in 1956. According to them, global doom and disaster has been a couple of decades away for that entire time. You’re just the latest in a very, very long line of failed serial doomcasters saying we should be very, very afraid …
w.

John A

As the land warms, snow melts and the albedo goes down. And as the land cools, snow falls and the albedo goes up. This is a positive feedback, with warming leading to increased solar energy, and cooling leading to less solar energy

No Willis, it is not a positive feedback. It is a variable response to solar heating. But surfaces do not continue to become infinitely black (nor do they start as perfect reflectors)
It is this sort of sloppy use of scientific terms that exasperates me. There is no positive feedback anywhere in the climate system – that is a misapplication of the term positive feedback by James Hansen and other equally deluded people. From unphysical “positive feedbacks” programmed in to climate models come many of the most preposterously scary climate stories that many here rightly lampoon.
If there were any positive feedbacks in the climate system we would all be dead.

Duster

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 18, 2013 at 11:33 am
***
My point remains. By all astronomical Milankovitch calculations, we should be falling back into an ice age somewhere around now. To date there’s no sign of it, which is good … but there’s always tomorrow.

As much as I dislike pointing to anything as a “trend,” if you consider the “trend” in temperatures (based on ice core proxies) since the peak temperatures of the early Holocene the overall pattern has been steady, gentle cooling. So, the signs may in fact be right there in front of us all. It is probably worth considering that no interstadial has been identical in length, degree or “shape” to any other.

Willis Eschenbach

Hans Erren says:
October 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

There is a classical paper which calculated astronomically that the next ice age is not due for 50000 years.
Berger A and Loutre MF (2002) An exceptionally long interglacial ahead? Science 297 (5585): 1287-8

Hans, good to hear from you. That is indeed an interesting paper, saying that we’re at the low end of the 400,000 year eccentricity cycle, and thus the interglacial might be much longer.
So … the bad news is, there’s no bad news about ice ages to worry about?
Dang … I was hoping that the coming ice age would drive the population bomb folks from the headlines …
All the best,
w.

Joseph Murphy

Mostly beneficial?!?! Willis, I will take the extra step and say man’s release of carbon into the atmosphere is the single greatest thing we have ever done for this planet, by far.

Snow … heh … in Kansas north of Dodge City according to the operator I talked with on 40 meters this morning using an antenna 8 foot square only 6 feet above ground at its lowest point (a tuned QW loop fed with a ferrite xformer next to the cap; input Z of the actual loop about 22 Ohms and a flat 1:1 match at the tuned freq with the xformer) …
.

milodonharlani

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm
The typical pattern is for interglacials to achieve their peak warmth early, then decline toward the next glacial. That’s what the Eemian did & Holocene is doing, for instance.
But they’re all different, varying in duration for example from ~8000 to ~31,000 years. Of course no one can know how long the Holocene will last. It might come to an end in 390 or 39,000 years. My guess is more like 3900 years, but that’s just from extrapolation of the past 5000-year cooling trend, which might not work any better than did IPCC’s extrapolation of one decade’s warming out to twelve.

apachewhoknows

It is just weather, yet so much fun to post this on the CO2 fear blogs.
They are skiing today at Arapaho Basin Col.
http://www.arapahoebasin.com see web cams for the lines .

Alan Robertson

It’s snowing in Dodge City as we speak. There is at least one geo- engineering scheme which involves releasing large amounts of sulfur dioxide in order to form clouds and thus increase albedo.. SO2 isn’t soot, but is another pollutant which we’ve worked to curtail.

JimS

@Willis: “Hans, good to hear from you. That is indeed an interesting paper, saying that we’re at the low end of the 400,000 year eccentricity cycle, and thus the interglacial might be much longer.
So … the bad news is, there’s no bad news about ice ages to worry about?
Dang … I was hoping that the coming ice age would drive the population bomb folks from the headlines …”
Unfortunately, given the past record for the last million years, there have been 10 major glaciation periods lasting from 80-95,000 years, and each one occurred when earth’s eccentricity was low. The only Melankovitch cycle that is keeping away the glaciation now is the obliquity, for precession and eccentricity are favouring glaciation. We have from tomorrow to maybe another thousand years or so, but it will come. That paper, I believed nattered on about the impact of C02. Well, if C02 has a significant impact on climate, then I retract my above analysis.

milodonharlani

JimS says:
October 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm
You’re correct. Eccentricity has just started to dive, headed for a major low in about 30,000 years:
http://www.jgiesen.de/kepler/eccentricity1.html

geran

Interesting and timely, thanks Willis.
(We just got our first cold front this week. Average daily temp has dropped 22ºF.)

timetochooseagain

If you break the snow data down season by season you’ll find some curious behavior that figure 3 makes it hard to see. Namely, while figure 3 describes the residuals from the year length interval smooth and the *average* season cycle as “random” in point of fact it has a significant non random component: some kind of change in the seasonal cycle-although it is much smaller than the season cycle itself. Look at the graphs they have for each season: winter trending slightly up, fall slightly up, spring noticeably trending down. I think summer also shows a down trend, but for some reason the site doesn’t have a graph for it.
What does it mean? Heck if I know!

JDN

@Willis: How does CERES measure albedo? I was just looking it up and found “top of atmosphere” mentioned. I sure don’t know the method and potential drawbacks. Is there a nice primer on the method?

Berényi Péter

Willis, how do you get the full CERES dataset? I would like to check a most curious claim, which, if true, tells us something very important about the way terrestrial albedo is regulated. It also indicates a hidden symmetry, utterly missing from computational climate models. As it is a common feature of them, it is not only about implementation, but a lack of understanding of physics they are supposed to be based on.
Symmetries observed in nature are usually our best guide to simplify theories.
Journal of Climate, Volume 26, Issue 2 (January 2013)
doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00132.1
The Observed Hemispheric Symmetry in Reflected Shortwave Irradiance
Aiko Voigt, Bjorn Stevens, Jürgen Bader and Thorsten Mauritsen

Abstract
While the concentration of landmasses and atmospheric aerosols on the Northern Hemisphere suggests that the Northern Hemisphere is brighter than the Southern Hemisphere, satellite measurements of top-of-atmosphere irradiances found that both hemispheres reflect nearly the same amount of shortwave irradiance. Here, the authors document that the most precise and accurate observation, the energy balanced and filled dataset of the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System covering the period 2000–10, measures an absolute hemispheric difference in reflected shortwave irradiance of 0.1 W m-2. In contrast, the longwave irradiance of the two hemispheres differs by more than 1 W m-2, indicating that the observed climate system exhibits hemispheric symmetry in reflected shortwave irradiance but not in longwave irradiance. The authors devise a variety of methods to estimate the spatial degrees of freedom of the time-mean reflected shortwave irradiance. These are used to show that the hemispheric symmetry in reflected shortwave irradiance is a nontrivial property of the Earth system in the sense that most partitionings of Earth into two random halves do not exhibit hemispheric symmetry in reflected shortwave irradiance. Climate models generally do not reproduce the observed hemispheric symmetry, which the authors interpret as further evidence that the symmetry is nontrivial. While the authors cannot rule out that the observed hemispheric symmetry in reflected shortwave irradiance is accidental, their results motivate a search for mechanisms that minimize hemispheric differences in reflected shortwave irradiance and planetary albedo.

KevinM

THis is another chart where I would have reversed the color choices. Blue for cooling, red for warming.

milodonharlani

JimS says:
October 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm
Obliquity of the ecliptic (ε), or axial tilt, during the Proterozoic Snowball Earth episodes might have been shockingly large (although less than right after the hypothesized Moon-creating impact):
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/001282529390004Q
“For ε > 54°, climatic zonation and zonal surface winds would be reversed, low to equatorial latitudes would be glaciated in preference to high latitudes, and the global seasonal cycle would be greatly amplified.”
Don’t know how well this hypothesis has stood the test of time.

John A. Fleming

Seems like there’s an easier way. Somewhere north and east of Great Slave Lake, find a stable patch of high-summer snow/ice in a hollow, not in a shadowed river valley, not in a north-side mountain snowfield. If you can find one (there may not be any such), just come back every summer and photograph it. You may find it at the boreal forest tree-line.
If you can’t find any such stable summer snowpatch, there’s nothing to worry about yet. From tiny acorns do mighty oaks grow.

Dick Roper

“So … would it not be truly ironic if pollution, in the form of soot and brown carbon, were all that has been holding off another ice age? And wouldn’t it be a cosmic joke if our efforts to clean up soot and brown carbon pollution were the straw that broke the back of the Holocene, and ushered in the new ice age?”
That was the background plot for the novel Fallen Angles (Niven, Flynn, Pournelle). The Warmistas & Greens had won the war against fire, and the glaciers began marching south once again. Quite prescient, having been released way back in 1991.

This is a good link for developing snow cover and the historical data does seem to suggest increasing periods of above average cover in recent years:
http://moe.met.fsu.edu/snow/

Geoff Sherrington

Hi Willis,
While some places north of the Equator have early cold, parts of Oz have had early warm and bushfires. The episode near Sydney is not over, but already we have had multiple assertions that global warming is the cause. A classic case is this on a University/CSIRO/Met Bureau blog named “The Conversation”, http://theconversation.com/sydney-fires-caused-by-people-and-nature-19327 The blogger wrote –
………………………………..
Mike Hansen, Mr
From one arm of the Murdoch newspaper empire “EXTREME weather events, including destructive bushfires, will become more frequent as a result of climate change, according to scientists working on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
The scientists behind the fifth assessment report from the United Nation’s climate science panel, which is due out later this year, have met this morning in Hobart. Scott Power from the Bureau of Meteorology, who is serving as a coordinating lead author in the report, said temperature increases in Australia will accelerate if emissions are not curbed in the next ten years.”
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/bushfires/extreme-bushfires-to-hit-more-often/story-fngw0i02-1226554168018#sthash.8Istt1w2.dpuf
From the shock jock arm
“The Greens MP infuriated many when he tweeted that “Tony Abbott’s plan means more bushfires for Australia & more pics like this of Sydney”. The article includes this tweet from a clueless climate science denier troll who was among the herd of clowns who lined up to abuse Bandt. “You are a pimple on the arse of a snake” That apparently passes for news among this group of shock jocks masquerading as journalists.
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/greens-mp-adam-bandt-tries-to-make-political-mileage-out-of-fires/story-fni0xqrb-1226741900565
Perhaps the staff writers responsible for that drivel should be forced to read their own newspapers – that it indeed would be cruel punishment.
…………………….
Acknowledgement goes to blog lead story author Professor Ross Bradstock; and to Mike Hansen, contributor.
…………………….
While I would like to respond, I’ve been LOCKED OUT by the moderators – after 3 snips wherein I gave references to science that is not agreeing with the Party Line.
…………………….
This is a call for you many readers to hop in and put the case that I cannot. As many of you as possible. Protest both censorship and the Hansen blog above, if your science knowledge suggests a reply is needed. (The Bradstock lead article is quite balanced and not the problem). How about a strong rally round?

William Astley

The Milankovitch insolation theory is not correct. There are at least 7 specific observational paradoxes to support that assertion. For example the forcing mechanism that ends interglacial periods causes cooling at both poles. As insolation at the two poles is 180 degrees out of phase, the southern pole cools when insolation is maximum in the southern hemisphere. Interglacial periods end abruptly not gradually. There is evidence of cyclic abrupt climate change in the paleo record. The mystery is what is physically capable of causing cyclic abrupt climate change. Insolation changes at 65 N are not the cause of the glacial/interglacial cycle. The cause of the glacial/intergalacial cycle is what causes Heinrich events. The confusion is the orbital configuration at the time of the Heinrich event amplifies the mechanism.
The planet is currently in the orbital configuration that amplifies the actual cause of the glacial/interglacial cycle. It appears we are going to be able to observe what causes a Heinrich event. Observational evidence to support that assertion will be 1500 cycle cooling, record Arctic sea ice, record Antarctic sea ice, and record cold winters in the Northern Hemisphere. The 1500 year cycle cooling is due to Maunder minimum solar magnetic cycle modulation of planetary cloud cover. This 1500 year cycle will be particularly rapid as there was a relate mechanism that was the ion modulation of planetary cloud cover. The physical cause of the Heinrich event follows the 1500 year cycle cooling.
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=24476
Glacial Records Depict Ice Age Climate in Synch Worldwide
“Because the Earth is oriented in space in such a way that the hemispheres are out of phase in terms of the amount of solar radiation they receive, it is surprising to find that the climate in the Southern Hemisphere cooled off repeatedly during a period when it received its largest dose of solar radiation,” says Singer. “Moreover, this rapid synchronization of atmospheric temperature between the polar hemispheres appears to have occurred during both of the last major ice ages that gripped the Earth.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Five_Myr_Climate_Change.svg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles
Milankovitch cycle Problems (William: In your face anomalies which indicate theory failure.)
2.1 100,000-year problem
2.2 Stage 5 problem
2.3 Effect exceeds cause
2.4 The unsplit peak problem
2.5 The transition problem
2.6 Identifying dominant factor
http://www.agu.org/pubs/sample_articles/cr/2002PA000791/2002PA000791.pdf
The 41 kyr world: Milankovitch’s other unsolved mystery
As I have stated there is a very impressive set of mature investigated astronomical anomalies that support the assertion that there are fundamental errors in the stellar model which explain past and current correlations to solar magnetic cycle changes.
http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/transit.html
According to the marine records, the Eemian interglacial ended with a rapid cooling event about 110,000 years ago (e.g., Imbrie et al., 1984; Martinson et al., 1987), which also shows up in ice cores and pollen records from across Eurasia. From a relatively high resolution core in the North Atlantic. Adkins et al. (1997) suggested that the final cooling event took less than 400 years, and it might have been much more rapid.
Until a few decades ago it was generally thought that all large-scale global and regional climate changes occurred gradually over a timescale of many centuries or millennia, scarcely perceptible during a human lifetime. The tendency of climate to change relatively suddenly has been one of the most suprising outcomes of the study of earth history, specifically the last 150,000 years (e.g., Taylor et al., 1993). Some and possibly most large climate changes (involving, for example, a regional change in mean annual temperature of several degrees celsius) occurred at most on a timescale of a few centuries, sometimes decades, and perhaps even just a few years.

Jim G

Albedo and the Milankovich ( incident TSI ) cycles undoubtedly have something to do with glaciation but so does the absolute quantity of snow fall. The more you get the longer it lasts here in the mountains, ceterus paribus. And, of course ceterus is rarely paribus. But all those other variables involved in causing large quantities of snow are also an issue. We get perennial mountain glaciers with consecutive high snow fall years. Summer cloud cover (albedo) helps a great deal in causing them to last through the summer.
Climate is, in the end, chaotic except when viewed in the geologic time frame and then it is cyclical but still not predicable in any useful sense. Too many unkown, or at least unquantified, variables ie impacts and volcanism just to name a couple that are at present not only unkown but unknowable in the future sense.

Ulric Lyons

“In the red and orange areas, which are mainly in the tropics, the albedo goes up as temperatures rise. This is generally because clouds form as temperatures rise, reflecting more sunlight and cooling the earth.”
That’s a contradiction, you cannot have a temperature rise, and cooling. We could simply say that the tropics get more cloudy as they warm.
“In the blue and green areas, on the other hand, the albedo goes down as temperatures rise. Over the extratropical land, much of this change is from snow and ice. As the land warms, snow melts and the albedo goes down.”
There is an awful lot of temperate zone land there that is blue that never or hardly ever gets snow, that must be just down to diminishing cloud cover.

Willis Eschenbach

John A says:
October 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm

As the land warms, snow melts and the albedo goes down. And as the land cools, snow falls and the albedo goes up. This is a positive feedback, with warming leading to increased solar energy, and cooling leading to less solar energy

No Willis, it is not a positive feedback. It is a variable response to solar heating. But surfaces do not continue to become infinitely black (nor do they start as perfect reflectors)
It is this sort of sloppy use of scientific terms that exasperates me. There is no positive feedback anywhere in the climate system – that is a misapplication of the term positive feedback by James Hansen and other equally deluded people. From unphysical “positive feedbacks” programmed in to climate models come many of the most preposterously scary climate stories that many here rightly lampoon.
If there were any positive feedbacks in the climate system we would all be dead.

Mmmm … we need to distinguish between a couple of things.
First, there can be (and are) individual positive feedbacks in the climate system. The important issue is the net feedback, the sum total of all the positive and negative feedbacks.
Next, your idea that any amount of net positive feedback would kill us all from runaway heating is not correct. In fact, that only happens when the feedback factor is greater than 1. As an example, consider a feedback factor of + 0.5.
If the input is say 16 units, a feedback of +0.5 adds another 8 units to the total output. Of course, there is feedback on that new 8 units, which gives us 4 more units. Feedback on that 4 units gives 2 more units, feedback on that gives 1 more unit, and on ad infinitum.
The final result, therefore, will be 16 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 1 + 0.5 … which is 32. In general, the final state of a no-gain system will be the input times (1 / (1 – feedback)). So if the feedback is +0.5 as in the example, the final state is the input (16) times (1 / (1 – 0.5), which is 16 * 2. Runaway feedback only occurs when the feedback factor is greater than one.
Please note that I agree with you that it is highly unlikely that the net feedback is positive …
w.

The problem with atmospheric composition (as opposed to mass) being permitted to alter the energy balance would mean that there would need to be a permanent negative feedback of 1 in order to retain long term energy balance with energy coming in from the sun wouldn’t it ?

Willis Eschenbach

Ulric Lyons says:
October 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm

“In the red and orange areas, which are mainly in the tropics, the albedo goes up as temperatures rise. This is generally because clouds form as temperatures rise, reflecting more sunlight and cooling the earth.”
That’s a contradiction, you cannot have a temperature rise, and cooling. We could simply say that the tropics get more cloudy as they warm.

They do … but that fact of increasing clouds reduces the warming. Now, something that reduces the warming is usually described as having a “cooling effect”, as in the sentence “Increasing clouds have a cooling effect on the daily temperature rise”.
I hate this stupid semantic argument about “warming” and “cooling”. In all cases, there is an implied “relative to the condition without them” that strict grammarians seem to ignore completely. Here are a few examples:
We say the clouds have a cooling effect in the tropics because it ends up cooler than it would be with no clouds. We say the greenhouse gases warm the earth because the earth is warmer than it would be with no GHGs. We say a blanket warms us in bed because it’s warmer than it would be without a blanket. We say that putting fins on an engine cools the engine because it ends up cooler than it would be without the fins.
Now, a strict grammarian would object to all of those uses of “warms” and “cools”. I get told things like “A blanket can’t warm you, it’s not a source of energy”“. I know, but that’s how the language is used, and fighting the way a language is actually used is a futile quest.
It is that implied clause, “than it would be without them”, that you and other strict grammarians are missing out on in this and similar cases.
w.

Willis Eschenbach

Ulric Lyons says:
October 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm

… There is an awful lot of temperate zone land there that is blue that never or hardly ever gets snow, that must be just down to diminishing cloud cover.

An interesting issue, Ulric. To the diminishing clouds I’d add the loss of plant cover in the fall. The plants are very good at absorbing sunshine, they all have pretty low albedo compared to bare ground.
I’d also include frost. Lots of places which don’t get snow often get frost.
w.

Ulric Lyons

Willis Eschenbach says:
“They do … but that fact of increasing clouds reduces the warming.”
OK you could say that they dampen the warming, but without any warming, there would be no cloud increase.