James Hansen, formerly head of NASA GISS published a new study Tuesday March 22nd in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, claiming global warming, sea level rise, and severe storms, could be (paraphrasing) “worse than we thought”. Just a 2°C rise would see the world suffering through massive sea level rise and super storms that would hurl giant boulders to the tops of mountains:
According to the Washington Post and activist writer Chris Mooney:
Standing atop a 60-foot cliff overlooking the Atlantic, James Hansen — the retired NASA scientist sometimes dubbed the “father of global warming” — examines two small rocks through a magnifying glass. Towering above him is the source of one of the shards: a huge boulder from a pair locals call “the Cow and the Bull,” the largest of which is estimated to weigh more than 1,000 tons.
While there is a suggestion in the scientific literature that the boulders were simply left behind after surrounding rocks eroded away, Hearty and another leading Bahamas geology expert, Pascal Kindler of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, agree that the boulders are older than the surface upon which they rest and, thus, probably were moved by the sea. Even the tourist placard near here takes their side, saying the ocean “lifted them atop the ridge.” But exactly how it could have done that is another matter.
Added: Here is a view of both rocks.
Hansen’s theory has drawn some criticisms from the scientific community.
A scientific study conducted on the cow and the bull, for example, concludes the boulders could be the last remaining remnants of karst towers, or not, but definitely not deposited by tsunamis
Hansen’s doomsday paper suffers from another major flaw: it depends on a slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which transports warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic where it warms the atmosphere.
Hansen and his co-authors list…
“slowdown and eventual shutdown of the Atlantic overturning circulation with cooling of the North Atlantic region”
…as one of five impacts just 2°C of global warming would have on the planet.
In an article in The Atlantic, Hansen is quoted as saying:
At the heart of the findings is his argument that cold meltwater from Greenland is weakening an important internal current in the Atlantic Ocean, called AMOC, that keeps weather across the entire planet temperate. Once this current is shut down, then the Atlantic near the Arctic will stay cold and heat will build up in the southern latitudes, creating the potential for extreme weather of mythical proportions.
“I believe we are already watching the beginning of this cooling, southeast of Greenland,” Hansen says. “In that case, extra cooling and extra warming along the United States East Coast are not natural fluctuations. The warm water is the reason that [Hurricane] Sandy retained hurricane-force winds up to the New York City area.”
“Have we passed a point of no return? I doubt it, but it’s conceivable,” he adds. “But if we wait until the real world reveals itself clearly, it may be too late to avoid sea-level rise of several meters and loss of all coastal cities.”
Where Hansen falls flat:
Hansen’s big problem is a new paper published yesterday and first highlighted on WUWT demonstrates that despite all the warming seen in the last century, the AMOC remains unaffected:
In an email from the lead author Albert Parker, he noted:
[The AMOC is] apparently quite stable and not following the anthropogenic CO2 emissions
Indeed, the data supports this:
It looks like Hansen’s “flying boulders” are grounded, at least for now.
The AMOC shutting down due to global warming was the main scientific plot point in the science fiction movie “The Day After Tomorrow”. In the movie, after the AMOC shut down, it spawned tornadoes in Los Angeles, floods in New York City and caused the Northern Hemisphere eventually freeze over. But remember, this is climate science fiction, not real attributable effects that would hold up under scientific scrutiny.
A number of climate scientists have been highly critical of Hansen’s new study, both in the 2015 version that was initially rejected, and the present one. Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry called the initial paper a “backfire”.
According to the website Climate Home, UK Climate scientist Peter Thorne said the 2015 draft report was “highly political” and questioned whether or not the paper should have been submitted to the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Thorne also said Hansen was “unprofessional” and “grossly inappropriate.”
“I expect this kind of thing of my kids,” Thorne told Climate Home. “I do not expect this behaviour to be out there in the public domain for all to see amongst leading scientists in the field.”
Even normally “say anything” Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press declined to cover the Hansen paper:
Ouch! (h/t to Dr. Ryan Maue)
This article in The Atlantic indicates the process to get the paper peer-reviewed was a contentious one. Hansen had to tone down some of his rhetoric:
As Revkin noted Tuesday, the peer-review process was not for naught: The final paper was altered, sometimes significantly, from its July 2015 draft. For example, while last year’s version of the paper claimed absolute certainty in its title—
Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2° C global warming is highly dangerous
—this year’s final version scales that language back:
Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2° C global warming could be dangerous
Now the paper has at last been peer reviewed and published. The Times and thePost both covered its release on Tuesday, the latter with the headline: “We had all better hope these scientists are wrong about the planet’s future.”
Then there’s the “hottest year ever” and the Hottest February ever according to NASA GISS and Gavin Schmidt:
Assuming that data is correct, and not just mostly artifacts of NASA GISS processing and other problems, where’s the big uptick in severe weather that is supposed to accompany such things?
Hansen even made a video, trying to look like Indiana Jones in the process:
Maybe James Hansen is just having another “Jor-El episode”, as Steve McIntyre noted back in 2007:
It’s as though Hansen, who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, has a Jor-El complex: Jor-El being familiar to young boys of a certain age as Superman’s father who (per Wikipedia):
“was a highly respected scientist on the planet Krypton before its destruction. He foresaw the planet’s fate, but was unable to convince his colleagues in time to save their race. Jor-El was, however, able to save his infant son, Kal-El, sending him in a homemade rocketship to the planet Earth just moments before Krypton’s demise.
At least Hansen doesn’t dress up in tights like some other “climate scientists”, such as “Supermandia”.
Note: within about 15 minutes of publication, this article was updated to fix some broken links, and the reference to AP’s Seth Borenstein added.