February was an interesting month for global temperatures. While the global average did not change much, there was some significant activity in the regional temperatures. Every region of the Earth has a temperature anomaly of less than 0.5 °C. The main event that allowed this to happen was an enormous drop in the northern most regions that are reported by the UAH and RSS data sets. Both of these sources indicated a drop in excess of 1.7 °C in the Arctic region of the Earth.
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The last couple of days have been busy as readers have been driving some interesting discussions. On one page there was an unexpectedly interesting discussion about the Moon. It started with an error on my part that was corrected by a reader. It had to do with the predicted and actual surface temperature of the Moon. The impact of this could be significant, but that I simply don’t know yet, but the idea is an interesting one that will require some more information.
The predicted (blackbody) temperature of the Moon is 270K (-3°C). That is a warmer predicted temperature than the Earth has. This is because the Moon reflects away less energy than the Earth does. This predicted temperature is not the actual temperature of the Moon though. The Earth has a predicted temperature 254K (-19°C). It is warmer than that by 33 °C and the Greenhouse Effect is the common answer as to why the Earth is warmer than this. Since there is no atmosphere on the Moon, there cannot be a Greenhouse Effect, but the Moon is not the temperature that is predicted by the Stefen-Boltzmann equations. Most interesting is that it was much warmer during the night and cooler during the day than it was predicted to be.
One of my favorite aspects of writing articles for this website is I am constantly learning new things about the Earth and the climate. There are so many aspects to understand and there is always more to learn. Being open to new information is the true nature of the scientific method. It is also one that has broken down in the global warming debate because so few people are open to contrary findings.
The unexpected new piece of the puzzle that I stumbled across deals with the temperature of the land in different seasons. It focuses on the United States, but the behaviors described would apply to all regions of the Earth to some degree. Specifically it deals with how the temperature of the Earth itself varies at different depth over the course of the seasons. It is also a perfect example of how time lags show up in the climate cycles.
Dr. Hermann Harde from Helmut-Schmidt in Hamburg, Germany recently published a paper where he modeled the total impact of CO2 doubling for the Earth using the updated databases on the absorbance of greenhouse gases and water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere. This approach was different from previous studies ( Myhre 1998, Hansen 1998) in that it accounted for more layers in the atmosphere and also accounted for overlapping absorbance bands. It also uses three major climate zones instead of two. This may not be critical as the results for two of the zones was very comparable, but it is still useful to see the results.
The big difference that I see is the added layers in the atmosphere. Radiative heat transfer is meaningless over large distances except in a vacuum which our atmosphere is not. So a model that is approaching the effects of the atmosphere is far more useful than one that treats it as only a couple of different interacting layers. This matters because it decreases the temperature gradients between the layers and as a result decreases the amount of heat that is transferred. As I have stated many times, nature does not like temperature gradients and as a result they do not last long in nature. I expect that as studies approach a model without layers that the effects of CO2 will decrease. The basis for that view is simply the amount of long wave (LW) energy that is absorbed by the atmosphere is already small which is why forcing is used in place of net heat transfers.
March has arrived and the data for the Dec 2010 and Jan-Feb 2011 is now available. That means it is time to look at the snow coverage for the Northern Hemisphere for the entire winter as a whole. Let me start out by saying that my analysis always uses the sequential months for the year that starts on Jan 1 of the winter in question. So the first year of analysis which is the winter of 1972 includes the December of 1971 and then the January and February of 1972. I am not sure that everyone does that so it is possible that some variation could result in an analysis that uses the three months of the same calendar year.
Over the course of the three months the average snow coverage is 45.14 million km2. This year the snow coverage averaged 47.17 million km2. That puts the anomaly at 2.03 million km2, or 4.5% above average. The winter of 1978 had the most snow ever recorded at 48.4 km2. That is more than a million km2 higher than the current year. The lowest year ever was 1981 at an average coverage of 40.82 million km2. That year holds the record for the largest anomaly at a stunning -4.3 million km2. The magnitude of the anomaly that year is twice the anomaly of the winter that just finished. That should put the current anomaly into perspective. Winters in the past 40 years have varied by more than 7 million km2 on average. In that perspective 2011 is nothing special. It is above average, but well within the historical perspective of only 40 years.
The latest data from the Rutgers Snow Lab is available and that means it is time for more debunking the idea that global warming causes snowstorms. I will admit that since the warmists have decided to say that all weather is abnormal and that every snowstorm is caused by global warming they have made my job easier. Showing how ludicrous the latest claims are is easy. While the storms in the US were stronger than normal, they are certainly within the normal winter behavior.
2011 has been above average for 6 or 8 weeks so far with the remainder being normal. Only the latest week was statistically significant, but if it was counted for the week before it would still be within the 2 sigma.
In Part 1 I discussed many instances where the Earth’s climate responded quickly to changes that happen on a regular basis. Events like seasons and volcanic eruptions all can cause the climate to respond very quickly to these events. Despite this there is a persistent belief amongst warmists that there is much more warming that is going to happen as a result of the CO2 emissions that have already happened. This would indicate that the climate responds slowly to changes.
This is where the idea of thermal inertia enters into the picture. The usage of thermal inertia in the terms of climate change is a very unusual usage of the scientific term. In normal usage it only applies when the steady state equations won’t apply because of the delay in the heat transfer into an object. In climate they have used it to say that the entire depths of the oceans will warm as a result of CO2 levels. They have created a delay so even if there isn’t warming, they can say that warming is taking place, but it is happening deep in the oceans and that is why it isn’t seen. This allows them to say that the warming will keep going for 100 or even 1,000 years even if CO2 is stopped now.
On June 15, 1991 Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted over the course of 9 hours. That single eruption had a measurable impact on the Earth’s temperature for three years after the eruption. This is a very good case for studying how quickly the Earth’s temperature responds to changes in the climate system. The time that it takes for the Earth to respond matters a great deal in the climate debate. A quick response would indicate that even if CO2 does cause warming of the Earth’s climate, the effects are felt quickly and and not delayed far into the future. This would indicate that the full effects of 390 ppm of CO2 are in full effect and that the warming is already fully realized for the current emissions of CO2.
The eruption is useful for measuring the time lag because it is an event that happened at a single instance and then stopped. In engineering terms there was a step function change to the Earth’s atmospheric system on that date in June. The peak altitude of the eruption was 34 km (21 miles). The height of the eruption is what allowed the SO2 to reach the stratosphere. Once there it was able to slowly spread out and cover the entire Earth at the stratospheric level. This is why the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo had such an impact on the Earth’s climate. If the gas stayed in the much more humid troposphere it would have mixed with water and dissipated from the atmosphere much more quickly. Since it was in the dry stratosphere it stayed there for much longer.