by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye the past few weeks.
Cliff Mass has another hard-hitting post, on the U.S. National Weather Service’s Computer Gap. The post is chock full of insightful analysis and good recommendations. Of particular relevance to our discussions at Climate Etc.:
When U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell learned about the lack of computer power for U.S. numerical weather prediction at a luncheon I attended, she asked an important question of the head of the NWS: how can this be when Congress has appropriated large amounts of funds for weather and climate computers? He did not answer, but the answer is clear: nearly all of these resources have been unavailable for weather prediction–most are used for climate studies.
Beasties in the sky
My colleagues at Georgia Tech have published a provocative new paper:
Natasha DeLeon-Rodriguez, et al., “Microbiome of the upper troposphere: Species composition and prevalence, effects of tropical storms, and atmospheric implications,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2013): www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.121208911. Preprint link [here].
The paper is getting a lot of publicity. Excerpts from the Georgia Tech press release:
In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers used genomic techniques to document the presence of significant numbers of living microorganisms – principally bacteria – in the middle and upper troposphere, that section of the atmosphere approximately four to six miles above the Earth’s surface.
Whether the microorganisms routinely inhabit this portion of the atmosphere – perhaps living on carbon compounds also found there – or whether they were simply lofted there from the Earth’s surface isn’t yet known. The finding is of interest to atmospheric scientists, because the microorganisms could play a role in forming ice that may impact weather and climate. Long-distance transport of the bacteria could also be of interest for disease transmission models.
The microorganisms were documented in air samples taken as part of NASA’s Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) program to study low- and high-altitude air masses associated with tropical storms. The sampling was done from a DC-8 aircraft over both land and ocean, including the Caribbean Sea and portions of the Atlantic Ocean.
Links between warming and past droughts questioned
Princeton News reports:
A series of recent droughts from Australia to the United States has led some scientists to warn that global warming has already begun to increase worldwide drought. But new research from Princeton and the Australian National University in Canberra has found that this might not be the case.
In an article published in November in the scientific journal Nature, the researchers reported that errors resulting from a model commonly used to assess drought, the Palmer Drought Severity Index, had led to overestimates of the severity of drought worldwide.
Von Storch’s new book
Pierre Gosselin reports on Von Storch and Werner Krauss’ new book on climate change, society, and policy (in German). Excerpts from the book:
The climate debate is stuck in the mud, the credibility of climate scientists has been cast into doubt, and the policymakers’ ability to act on the issue of climate is minimal. We are sitting in the climate trap.”
The climate scientist [von Storch] had the suspicion that climate science was dragging around a ‘cultural rucksack’ that was influencing the interpretation of the data.
Some climate scientists were regular interview-partners and talkshow guests – and thus self-confidence became bigger, to the point that they knew the truth about climate change and thus became convinced that policy-making and society should follow the deeper insight of science.”
Without really being aware of it, climate scientists had taken over the role of prophets: They predicted the imminent end-of-the-world if society did not fundamentally change soon, reduced its emissions, and behaved more sustainably with the environment. The problem was not only the message, but also that they were were often completely way in over their heads with the role as mediator between nature and society.”
Oh my. I hope that someone will do an English translation of the entire book.
New perspectives on urban climate effects
Several new articles are challenging how we think about the urban impacts on climate. WUWT reports Waste heat – a bigger climate effect than once thought.
New energy sources: possibilities and prospects
The Energy Collective has a good article New energy sources: possibilities and prospects.
Funny side of climate change
Some climate cartoons from elephant journal.
JC comment: My big proposal has finally been submitted, sigh of relief. I have been pretty tied up the past 3 months writing proposals, so little time for blogging. Thanks again to all the guest bloggers who have provided posts that have kept the dialogue going.
Right now, Feb looks pretty open (i.e. no big looming deadlines), so I hope to post more frequently. I have a huge backlog of material to sort through. Hopefully coming next week are posts on sensitivity, U.S. climate policy, and academic publishing.