You are currently browsing the archives for March, 2011.
The basic idea behind global warming is that CO2 is one of the main (if not the main) variables that dictates the temperature of the Earth. This is so prevalent that when a researcher says that the CO2 levels are the highest level in 15 million years, it makes the news. Somehow there is the perception that a certain CO2 level somehow causes a certain temperature. This is of course ridiculous.
The idea from this is based on the bad science idea that correlation equals causation. With that idea in mind the worst and most misleading chart of all time is the one made famous by Al Gore.
There has been a lot of discussion about the difference between the satellite and station methods of measuring the global temperature and which is better. This is one of the more contentious aspects of the global warming debate. It gets people very agitated. There are serious problems and benefits with both methods, but my main method has been to compare their response to climate events. In that regard there is no question that the satellite method registers a greater response to events. This is shown in the following two posts.
Detecting the Global Warming Temperature Signal
Proving the Problem with the Station Data
I will not repeat any of the arguments from those articles here. Instead I will focus on the difference between the two methods and why I feel that the satellite method is more accurate and responsive at detecting changes in the global temperature.
According to the theory of global warming, anything that changes the radiative energy balance of the Earth will cause a change in temperature that is correlated to the change of energy. The “consensus” is that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will increase the energy at the surface by 3.7 W/m2. This additional energy will increase the temperature of the Earth by 3 °C.
So in this case, the climate sensitivity is described as temperature impact as a result of the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. In proper scientific form the climate sensitivity is the change in temperature as a result of a change in energy.
Climate Sensitivity = delta T / Delta E (K/Wm2)
I am going to change topic here for a moment because I am tired of the generally useless discussion going on about the intervention in Libya. There are unending discussions about the decision to enter the conflict and even more about the lack of leadership by President Obama.
They are missing the point. President Obama may be a very reluctant warrior in this case, but there is nothing wrong with being cautious about entering an armed conflict. That type of caution is warranted whenever an important decision must be made. The reason President George W. Bush is considered a war monger is because he was determined to enter into conflict with Iraq, regardless of the reason.
The theme of the week turned out to be a comparison of how the satellite and station data behave. I started out with the observation that the station data is responding less to ENSO events than it has in the past. It is a steady progression of decreasing response. Then I showed how the station data is poor in comparison to the satellite data at detecting the effects of volcanic eruptions. I asked how can the station data have better resolution at detecting global warming if it is significantly inferior at detecting the climate effects of a volcanic eruption or the ENSO.
Now I am going to show what happens to the two types of data if the above events are removed from the global temperature anomaly since 1979. That is 31 years of global temperature, but with the main events removed from the record. For the ENSO and volcanic events in the past 31, the station data has averaged only 60% of the response that the satellite data has. So what does the warming of the past 31 years look like if those events are removed?
When was the last time an article popped up stating that something was a “unequivocal” sign that global warming was upon us? Okay, to be honest those happen just about every day. There was even an article questioning if the earthquake in Japan might have been caused by global warming. That is a textbook example of FUD. That absurdity is…. well I have no further comment on it.
There are many different parts of the climate that can be looked at. The sea level rise is a popular one, but it hasn’t been very cooperative lately. The Arctic sea ice is still popular and will get lots of attention in this year. Of course the Antarctic sea ice isn’t behaving in the same manner so that is a tough sell for the warming being global. Blaming the lack of snow might work, until the increasing snow was caused by global warming. Since the impacts of global warming seem to be a moving target it can be tricky knowing what is supposed to be an effect and what isn’t.
I have been comparing the response of global temperature to particular events that happen to the Earth’s climate. A quick look at any of the satellite records show that a good starting point is the ENSO cycle (El Nino/La Nina) in the Pacific Ocean. This led me to looking into how the station data sets (GHCN, CRU) respond to comparable events that cause a change in global temperature anomaly.
On average a significant ENSO event will cause the average temperature of the Earth to change by 0.27 °C. An El Nino in the positive direction and the La Nina in the negative direction. In fact the global temperature response is a good indicator in the overall strength of the ENSO event. The El Nino in 1998 stands out as an enormous event both as an El Nino and an increase in the global temperature, at least in the satellite temperature data.
The world we live in is a dangerous place. Witness the horrific toll that earthquakes have taken in the last decade. The earthquake in Japan will likely be the 7th one in the past decade to kill more than 10,000 people. The total fatalities from these 7 earthquakes will exceed 700,000 lives in less than 10 years. Most of these events are quickly forgotten by those that see a few images on the news and then it is forgotten within a a week or two. Some of them are remembered longer. To refresh your memory here is the list of the 7 deadliest earthquakes in the last decade.
I have previously discussed the temperature set that I have put together for my usage here. It has been updated a bit since then and people have been asking questions so I guess this would be a good time to provide an update and compare it to other temperature sets. It is important that people understand what the temperature set I use is and where it comes from. I have always been transparent about my usage of the blended temperature set.
There are two reasons I chose this particular path. The first is that it is scientifically proper to chose one temperature source and then stick to it. Each of the different sets has different benefits and problems. Often times it is possible to determine the conclusion of a persons argument based on the temperature set they chose to use. A person that is using the UAH set is probable to be a skeptic. An argument using the GISS temperature set is likely to be a warmist. I consider that simple bias as a good reason to go a different route and stick to it.
I have avidly been paying attention to the news out of Japan about the earthquake and tsunami that are likely to have killed more than 10,000 people. This is a sad and devastating disaster to the people of Japan. It is made worse by the fear that is spreading as a result of the problems at the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima facility.
There is clearly danger from this situation. The latest news I have found is that the radiation levels are now high enough to cause substantial risk to human life. Engineers and technicians are often called upon in these types of situations to risk their lives to save others. It would seem that there are 50 such people now working in a radioactive and explosive environment to prevent an even worse catastrophe. I have no doubt that these people volunteered for this duty.
The safety of nuclear power can be debated afterwards, but for now I hope that all of us will send our thoughts to these people that are risking everything to save others. While many others were evacuated, the ones that are staying now are true hero’s and I wish them the best of luck in this increasingly dire situation.