by Judith Curry
A few things that have caught my eye over the past few weeks.
More on Extreme Weather
Andy Revkin has an article ‘More on Extreme Weather in a Warming Climate.’ It refers to a Nature Climate Change perspective by Coumou and Rahmstorf, with the following (predictable) abstract:
The ostensibly large number of recent extreme weather events has triggered intensive discussions, both in- and outside the scientific community, on whether they are related to global warming. Here, we review the evidence and argue that for some types of extreme — notably heatwaves, but also precipitation extremes — there is now strong evidence linking specific events or an increase in their numbers to the human influence on climate. For other types of extreme, such as storms, the available evidence is less conclusive, but based on observed trends and basic physical concepts it is nevertheless plausible to expect an increase.
Revkin’s article is worth reading for the comments from Martin Hoerling and Mike Wallace. From Martin Hoerling:
– Very few of the [cases of extreme weather listed in the paper] have undergone a scientific investigation of contributing factors, let alone human impacts. The fact is that extremes happen, have happened, and will continue to happen. For some, their character, preferred phase, and intensity may be changing (aside from temperature extremes, the detection and attribution evidence to date is weak).
– I suspect that if one engaged in grand mitigation today (as useful as that would be for many other purposes), many of the extremes listed in [the paper] would happen anyway, and will likely happen again.
– The matter of attribution, as raised in the second to last paragraph, is a much broader science that merely determining the change in probability due to greenhouse-gas forcing….which is an inherently difficult and uncertain undertaking. The piece ignores the broader context in which all manner of contributing factors is assessed to understand the magnitude of events, their temporal and regional specificity (e.g., why did the heat wave happen over Texas (rather than Washington), why did it occur in 2011 (and not 2009, or next year), and why did it break the previous records by a factor of 2. After all, the irony of extreme events is that the larger the magnitude the smaller the fractional contribution by human climate change.
– The piece often convoluting apparent “effects” of apparent changes in extremes in the last decade with causes not to arise till the latter part of the 21st century.
From Mike Wallace:
By exaggerating the influence of climate change on today’s weather and climate-related extreme events, a part of our community is painting itself into a rhetorical corner.
My opinion piece, “Weather and Climate-Related Extreme Events: Teachable Moments ” [link; go to the bottom of the page] to which Hoerling refers, serves as a counterpoint to Coumou and Rahmsdorf’s article. Before submitting it to Eos, as an experiment, I submitted it to Nature: Climate Change, where their article was published. I cannot say that I was surprised when the editors informed me that they would not be sending it out for review because “we are not persuaded that your article represents a sufficiently substantial contribution to the ‘climate change debate’ [my quotation marks] to justify publication in the journal”. Perhaps to ease the pain of rejection, the editor added, “more Commentaries are actively commissioned and […] we only rarely publish unsolicited contributions to the section”.
Although it may sound a bit like sour grapes, here’s the way that I’ve rationalized Nature’s editorial decision. I’ve become convinced that many of the editors of the high impact journals are inclined to cast opinion pieces as salvos in the ongoing war between climate change believers and skeptics. Articles like mine that take issue with the way in which the war is being waged are not particularly welcome. By soliciting opinion pieces and by selecting, from among the growing list of contributed articles, the very few that will be sent out for peer review, the editors promote their vision of what constitutes “groundbreaking” and “policy relevant” science. What if it is not the right vision?
By granting the editors of Nature and other high impact journals ever increasing power in deciding which of our articles should be singled out for emphasis in the news media, we risk losing control of the peer review process upon which our public image depends. The way to maintain control is to make a point of sending our most newsworthy scientific articles and opinion pieces to the journals of our own professional societies, in which the peer review process is editor-facilitated, rather than editor-directed. Dot.Earth could render our community a valuable service by ensuring that newsworthy articles published in our journals receive the public attention that they deserve.
JC comment: Bravo, Marty and Mike!
Tobis on disequilibrium
Michael Tobis has an interesting article, also referenced in Revkin’s piece. The title is Disequilibrium is not your friend. The key statement that caught my interest:
As applied to the climate system, consider it a plausibility argument: the more rapidly and extensively the system is disturbed, the more we would expect that unexpected behaviors will emerge, and the further from expectations they will be.
If this is the case, you cannot simply add “global warming” and “natural variability”. (Formally, arguments “from superposition” do not apply.) If a place is ten degrees above normal at a time of one degree of global warming, it does not make sense to say that one degree is due to climate change, and nine degrees “would have happened anyway”, even in a statistical sense. It implies that the dynamics of the system are the same under perturbation. Is that a realistic presumption in the absence of other evidence? I think it shows a weak understanding of general systems principles to make that case.
He then goes on to cite results from a new paper by Hansen.
JC comment: This is a topic that is well worth discussing. The nature of the extreme events depends on what kind of a regime you land in, after the climate shift. The general approach used by Hansen is worth critiquing and developing further, but how to interpret this kind of analysis in the context of attribution isn’t clear. I would take the longer time series (e.g. western Europe esp CET and eastern U.S.) and interpret the distribution of extremes in the context of a regional climate dynamics analysis.
(Un) common sense from ThinkProgress
At ThinkProgress, the former dominance of Joe Romm on climate issues is becoming increasingly diluted. See this guest post entitled Nine Low-Tech Steps For Community Resilience in a Warming Climate. Good suggestions.
In the not to be believed department, at Scott Mandia’s blog he has a post Support Climate Scientists and Look Cool Doing So!
Help the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) raise money to cover the costs of Dr. Mann’s legal defense as well as other scientists who face similar challenges. To help raise money and reward those that contribute, we have rounded up some cool designs and gifts. CSLDF thanks Nicole Martinez and Lunchbreath who were kind enough to donate their designs for this fundraiser.
- $25 gets you one of our t-shirts. They will be delivered a couple weeks after the fundraiser is over. We will check in with you about which design you want and what size.
- $50 gets two of the t-shirts.
- $75 gets all three of the t-shirts and our true gratitude.
- $150 gets you all three of the t-shirts and a copy of Climate Change: Picturing the Science signed by Joshua Wolfe (www.picturingclimatechange.com)
- $300 gets you a hockey stick signed by Mike Mann.
- $1000 gets you a 16×20 signed silver gelatin print by Joshua Wolfe.
I wonder how many hockey sticks have been sold.
I use drought tolerant grass and it has never made sense for the government to provide flood insurance. It has never made sense to live on the coast. Anyone that chooses to do so needs to be financially responsible for the consequences and if such people want insurance, they should fund from their own pockets.
Well, actually, most evacuees from there would move left.
no… most evacuees from there are already left and would have to move right… ironic isn’t it?
Excellent idea- say to Al Gore’s homes on the coast of CA. The climate is perfect- little need for any heating or cooling and their is lots of room in his mansion. Kind of like how Dr. Zhivago was required to share his home…….. http://www.fandango.com/doctorzhivago_v293088/plotsummary
Much further west. :-)
But not as far as Hawaii. :-)
Maybe they could live one of these nice structures- http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?_adv_prop=image&fr=slv8-hptb5&va=floating+city+on+water
Which would be a lot nicer to live on (in?) then the Waterworld tanker.
After having lived the lie for so long, many now feel compelled to continue preaching global warming alarmism even after Michael Mann has conceded, ‘Yes Virginia there really was a Medieval Warm Period.’
And now the Earth is in a cooling trend with no end to the cooling in sight. The cooling trend could last for decades. Many scientists predict that it will. And, the global warming alarmists cannot admit that either.
“What neither the IPCC, nor Mr. Ban, nor most media commentators seem to grasp is that the precautionary principle works both ways. Which is riskier, trying to follow the climate-change rhetoric of the IPCC and Green groups by warping world economics and politics to deal (impossibly) with climate change, or facing up to the economics and politics of the real world. Completely changing the world’s economic and political basis for something that actually may not happen – and will most certainly not occur exactly as predicted – is for me a much, much riskier proposition, especially when one takes into account the fact that there will be benefits, as well as problems, from climate changes. Just remember that, if one takes all the models that exist for climate change, not just those of the IPCC, the error bar is for a change of between -2 degrees Celsius to nearly 7 degrees Celsius (a nine degree Celsius error bar in all). Even I think that climate is likely to vary (all the time) within such a range. It tells us nothing. It is a tautology.” (Philip Stott)
Yes, Wagathon, after having misrepresented information on the energy source that creates, destroys and sustains life for 66.67 years, the dots are being connected:
Just spotted an article by Christopher Booker “In the eyes of Nature, warming can’t be natural”
The article critiques the papers published by Nature
Willis Eschenbach plotted all the temperature proxies together to claim you can’t tell if CO2 lagged temperature:
But the whole point of the Nature paper was that temperature rise in the northern hemisphere lagged the CO2 rise:
Eschenbach goes so far as to graph the proxies by proxy type, but not latitude. Funny that.
Eschenbach also tossed in an argument that Shakun cut the CO2 data off after 6000BC and smeared the scientists: “I’m sure you can see just what those bad-boy scientists have done. Look how they have cut the modern end of the ice core CO2 record short, right at the time when CO2 started to rise again …”
That’s an appalling smear. Don’t you see what Eschenbach has done there? For whatever reason Shakun didn’t show CO2 after 6000 BC, it can’t be for the fraudulent reason Eschenbach leads everyone to imagine. Because the CO2 rise is small after 6000BC and is easily compatible with a slight cooling trend.
But thanks to Eschenbach countless “skeptics”, including Booker, will now be pushing this argument to the public. I ask myself, is this kind of smear creation by Eschenbach deliberate? What do you think?
What’s more likely? That Shakun is a fraud, or Eschenbach is dishonest? Or neither?
Willis never said any of the authurs had done anything wrong by tunkating the series, others made that comment below the line.
Moreover, you are hand-waving, the authors of the paper used one CO2 measurement and a ‘global’ temperature proxy reconstruction. Willis showed that the proxies were, on the whole, quite crap and that the was no reasond to select the particular CO2 proxy chosen. It was yet another example of cherry-picking.
Milankovitch causes NH ice sheets to melt releasing vast quantities of water vapor into the atmosphere … which Shakun ignores.
Isn’t H2O a GHG?
The #1 GHG?
“Looking for headlines rather than promoting good science” seems to summarize the editorial process of Nature, as you have commented. Too bad.
“$300 gets you a hockey stick signed by Mike Mann.” Surreal!
I hear for 500 bucks, you can get an erased reel-to-reel tape signed by Richard Nixon.
And for those interested, $20,000 gets you a couple of milligrams of moon dust. (They kept too tight of control on the rocks. Dust is it.)
Thanks to Hargreaves and Annan, I see there is more realistic peer review than required by puff piece journals like Nature :)
For cloud fans, http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/3/73/2012/esdd-3-73-2012-discussion.html
“The author needs to review exactly what the rˆ2 statistic tells us. rˆ2 is proportional to slope: if the slope is zero, rˆ2 must be zero; as the slope increases, rˆ2 increases. Thus, the ﬁndings highlighted throughout M12 and the response that higher slopes have larger rˆ2 does not mean what the author seems to think it does. The higher rˆ2 does not mean the slopes are more reliable,…”? Is climate science the last refuge of the statistically impaired? Inquiring minds want to know :)
Uh, huh… words fail me.
Re: Weather event attribution
The Met Office and its pals around the world seem to believe that attribution of specific weather extremes to global warming is possible. Looking at one of their recent media (“give us lots more money, we’re worth it”) presentations, they say that:
> It is possible to make attribution statements about individual events.
> By calculating the odds of such events and the change in odds attributable to particular factors.
> Mis-attribution, eg by blaming every extreme weather event on climate change, could lead to poor adaptation decisions.
Which sounds quite reasonable, except that it’s certainly not made clear what statistical jiggery-pokery they would use to show whether the blocking high causing the Moscow heatwave in 2010 should be put into the ‘attributable’ or ‘misattributable’ category. They simply assume a large anthropogenic factor in the climate and try to work it back to specific weather events. They give examples of the UK cold winter of 2 years ago, and the Pakistan floods.
This is bound to open up another can of worms: scare stories for alarmists to present to governments, and for sceptics to debunk.
The slides in the presentation simply reek of preposterous hubris. This is going to be the next statistical bone of contention in the climate ‘debate’.
It’s a general principle of complex equilibria that the more they are disturbed, the more complex the processes involved in restoring their equilibrium.
This is a mathematical principle, not one requiring computer models nor observations to prove. It doesn’t take Chemistry, Biology, Physics or Climatology to know this principle for a fact.
As the root of Risk calculations for complex systems like regional climate basins, the general principle skews toward higher cost to participants with disturbance.
This is a direct statement of attribution of the cost of climate change to human activity. It doesn’t take Physics, or Biology, or Chemistry to know to a mathematical certainty.
All else is detail.
As applied to climate, it is not a fact. It is an assumption.
stan | April 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
It is an assumption.
It is an assumption made in Risk calculations.
The calculation of Risk has very real impacts in decisions made today.
Those decisions and their impacts are more expensive than they would be otherwise, due the need to take into account the assumption.
However, the assumption has been extensively tested, which you’d do if you were facing new expenses and wanted to know if they were justified — especially so if you were competing with others, and had to answer both to your customers and your backers.
If you have something definitive that shows the global climate is not a complex system of complex systems, or that so advances the mathematics used in Economics to move past this general principle, one believes there’s a Nobel Prize out there for you.
Please calm down. This sounds like a tautology, which is scientifically useless. The more complex the process, the more complex the process. Who can disagree with that?
Moreover, climate does not appear to be a complex equilibrium process. Quite the contrary, it is a far from equilibrium process, so the math is fundamentally different.
Indeed it is a dynamically complex system and we are unlikely to ever return to exactly the same state in anything less than an eternity.
In a complex dynamic system with some creative statistics, the blame could be placed nearly anywhere for nearly anything. I think Disco is to blame.. Never much cared for Disco.
I think it was the weird 70’s clothes – or – did climate change cause the clothes fad? Hard to tease cause from effect here. The fabric was kind of strange also.
Polyester and Disco both correlate with the late 70s climate shift.
Disco is hot, so it’s plausible. Then it got really hot with the House in the 80s/90s.
Yep, has to be a combination of Disco and Polyester. An average person burns 306 Calories per hour dancing. A polyester leisure suit has to double that!
I am puzzled by the about 0.1Wm-2 for geothermal though. I though Web would cipher that for us. Isn’t that about 5e13 Joules per second? How many seconds in 40 years again? Seems I read somewhere that the ocean energy balance was about 0.34Wm-2 and that some how jumped straight across the upper mixing layer.
Of course, geothermal can’t be significant, it is only about the same as a long solar minimum, which has been proven with various models to be insignificant with respect to CO2 forcing.
Must be Disco, polyester and amplifiers turned to 11.
Captain D. – I’ve got it! It was the lighted dance floor what caused the geothermal heat discrepancy!
Disco – like sex – is not ergodic if you do it right.
I’m not sure Disco gets any more fun if you spend all your time making sure you’re correct about it.
And as ergodic means it will eventually occupy every possible position, Disco done wrong definitely sounds more entertaining.
‘ergodic – positive recurrent aperiodic state of stochastic systems; tending in probability to a limiting form that is independent of the initial conditions’ As usual Bart is not much fun or much right is essential physical understanding
David – my thought exactly. Complex when taking in energy, complex when dissipating.
abrupt climate change when shifting
“Bart R | April 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Reply
It’s a general principle of complex equilibria that the more they are disturbed, the more complex the processes involved in restoring their equilibrium.
This is a mathematical principle, not one requiring computer models nor observations to prove. It doesn’t take Chemistry, Biology, Physics or Climatology to know this principle for a fact.”
Lies, damned lies and using the word equilibrium to describe a steady state system.
If you don’t know what an equilibrium is and don’t know what a steady state is, don’t use either term. Your sentence is kinentic and thermodynamic nonsense. Quite clearly you don’t know how to describe a symple system, let alone a complex one.
Doc, the quote is mathematically correct per se. Whether it has anything to do with climate, or steady states, is the question.
David, no it bloody well isn’t mathematically correct per se.
I can make a complex three phase liquid system, water, propanol, chloroform and add a dye that has a different partition coefficient into all three. I shake and wait.
The system is perturbed, waiting allows the system to come to equilibrium. The time taken to arrive at equilibrium is KINETIC, the position the system come to is THERMODYNAMIC. The complexity of the system is immaterial to the thermodynamics, things do not go slow because they are complex and fast because they are simple. The nuclear physics involved in a thermonuclear fission/fusion device are very complex and over in a few microseconds. Where as the movement of pitch in response to gravity is very simple, but very slow.
At the moment, Bart like all living creatures is at disequilibrium with the universe, I can make him come to equilibrium rather easily, even though Bart is VERY complex. Should I for instance drive a stake through his heart, the very complex life-form which is Bart will very quickly attain thermal equilibrium with his surroundings.
Like Bart, the Earth is always at local disequilibrium. The Earth rotates and the energy input and output at any local are changing, just like Bart in fact. The temperature, anywhere, is a pseudo-steady state, not an equilibrium. Equilibrium thermodynamics cannot be used to adequately describe such as system, in the same way equilibrium thermodynamics cannot be used to describe biochemistry.
Calm down Doc. Nobody said anything about time, or living systems, in this simple quote. You are objecting to something that has not been said.
DocMartyn | April 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
I think we can all agree we’d much rather have bodies that haven’t been staked through the heart, and a planet that responds to external forcings by mechanisms that comes to dynamic equilibrium within a range that continues to sustain life pretty much as usual to one that just gets a crater in it and then immediately returns to the cold undifferentiated chill of the void.
So.. did a mathematician steal your first girlfriend, that you had such a strong reaction better fitting the previous topic?
So, Doc – you made a Lava lamp? I KNEW it had something to do with the 70’s.
Well, at least we know of a mitigation of last resort if need be, though I preferred Frank Zappa to the BeeGees :)
capt. d, just in passing, I gave first aid to Zappa after he was attacked on stage in London ca 40 years ago and sent flying into the orchestra pit, landed head first on concrete. Everyone else went hysterical; I jumped down, found him unconscious with his eyes open, one leg obviously badly broken, blood pouring from the back of his head. I used my sweater to staunch the flow.
Zappa had always seemed invinvcible, I had a different perpective when holding his head in my hands and thinking he might be dying.
Please tell me the origin of this principle
Who are you quoting?
I think you made it up.
Doing the rounds of the internet – it is not one of the foundational computational principles of complex systems. Which suggest anything other than equilibria. Complex equilibria is a multilpe chemical problem..
ghl | April 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
The quote is from http://planet3.org/2012/04/09/disequilibrium-is-not-your-friend/ (by Michael Tobis, which Dr. Curry linked to above).
It is related to another more powerful statement, that a complex system disturbed by an external forcing will find a new level.
The principle has been well-tested based on developments over a century in ‘biomathematics’, and is one of the most fundamental underpinnings of what later became Chaos Theory (http://hypertextbook.com/chaos/ for an introduction to that topic). You can find its origins in any competent text on the history of 20th century mathematic obscurata, but most people start instead with Lorenz (http://www.imho.com/grae/chaos/chaos.html). The derivation is not long, but I doubt I could do it so much justice as a decent reference work, or even a populist tome like http://www.amazon.com/Chaos-Making-Science-James-Gleick/dp/043429554X.
The precept is as mathematically incontrovertable as 2+2=4.
Accepting that there are difficulties in interpretation – for example, if you out and out destroy the chaotic system, you’ve ‘returned’ it to a deterministic state (say by driving a stake through its heart in some medical procedure) – applied to climate, it’s an absolutely reliable mathematical truth at some level.
Beyond straightforward application in Risk formulations, what that level is, what it means? That’s just details, for the most part.
Bart, what you say about chaos theory is literally meaningless. Chaos is deterministic. It is an oscillator so it has no level. It is different from complexity. Your mathematically incontrovertable precept is gibberish, although it is certainly possible to change the location of the attractor in the state space. If that is what you are talking about then you should start over.
David Wojick | April 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
I stand by my statements.
Parse them again.
Or make direct statements on the topic yourself.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on developing the ability to better predict regional weather than trying to determine if there is a link between global warming and extreme climate?
timg56 | April 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
More sense how, to whom.. and how does this touch on what I’ve said?
There is a link between human activity and changes in climate, we know this to a mathematical certainty; Chaos Theory predicts these changes will take the form of climate extremes, albeit which could mean so many different things as prolonged droughts or frequent floods due unchanging conditions or unpredicted sudden storms or snowfalls due rapidly changing conditions, because Chaos Theory is not really a terribly fine scalpel.
It’s very likely CO2 emission is the largest perturbation of the climate; it has many of the aspects one might speculate ought make it the biggest of the disturbing contributions.. but though the data we do have overwhelmingly supports this likelihood, we’ve collected very little of the sort of data it would take to confirm fine details; as we’ve known since the 1960’s the sort of data we ought be collecting, one laments at our shortsightedness.
Certainly, evidence for CO2 emission leading to eventual climate extremes is better than the evidence for Global Warming, and the evidence for Global warming rises to about 1000:3 confidence.
And guess what? The exact same measures as it would take to develop the ability to better predict regional weather would also be used in establishing the likelihood of that speculation.
FYI – my reply ended up at the bottom.
“The nature of the extreme events depends on what kind of a regime you land in, after the climate shift.”
This is true, but perhaps doen’t go far enough. The anthropogenic modification of the atmosphere is ongong and rapid, and there may be a series of “regimes” along the way, with certain thresholds and associated extreme weather pattern for each. If, for example, we had simply ramped up CO2 to 350 ppm, and stopped there, we might expect that once all fast and slow feedbacks had played out, a new cliimate regime might have been found, with a tendency toward certain types of weather patterns. As it stands, it is system still undergoing rapid change with the commitment to more net warming being added every year. Thus, the kinds of weather patterns we might have expected with 350 ppm, however different they would have been than if the Holocene had continued sans humans, might well be diffferent than the Earth at 450 or 560 ppm CO2. In other words, there could be Anthropocene I, II, III, etc.
And a comment about attribution in general. Even trying to dissect out the potential human-caused percentage of any extreme event is absurd, and really gets back to the impossible proposition of predicting the nonlinear chaotic behavior of a system. There are multiple, interacting, interrelated causal factors with associated feedbacks, and thus, rather than trying to find a proximate cause or ultimate cause, one needs to take a wholistic “regime” approach to causality, and simply get back to the probability of certain types of.events happening and identify what the tendencies and frequencies of Anthropocene (I, II, III or ?) extreme weather events will be. From this perspective, the approach and perspectives of both Hansen and Trenberth are right on target.
That’s an interesting thought, I hadn’t considered us blasting into another regime and just as we were scrambling to deal with that we suddenly blast into a different one a few decades later.
I think the assumpiton that the climate of 350 ppm CO2 would be the same as 450 or 560 ppm is unfounded based on the paleorecord, just as the climate was different between 180 ppm and 280 ppm. We have “blasted” through from the preindustrial level of 275 up to 392 pretty fast from a geological perspective– certainly nothing like that has occurred in at least several million years. The planet never really has got the chance to “catch” up in terms of displaying an equilibrium response. This is no different than how an ecosystem responds near a volcano. If the volcano continues to erupt, the ecosystem is continually disrupted. Only in the case of anthropogenic CO2, it is a human volcano going off around the entire planet.
Clearly CAGW is the world’s most metaphorical science. Perhaps that is all it is.
Death trains anyone? Blasting off on track nine.
Get a grip.
Yeah, kinda like quantum mechanics… our climate comes in discrete little quantum packets dictated by CO2 concentration. We’re on what now, like the 2nd or 3rd energy level from ground state? Awesome, I wish I had thought of that. Climate harmonics… where extreme weather vibrates in resonance with CO2…. it’s just magical.
R. Gates, these mythical lags. What are they? What causes these ‘lags’?
Can we have the kinetic and thermodynamic descriptions of these ‘lags’?
There are at least 3 very obvious “lags” to any significant change to climate forcing, and we see these throughout the paleoclimate record when looking at past climate change, such as coming and going to and from glacial periods.. But before discussing these lags, let’s called them something a bit more scientific and that would be both slow-feedback responses to forcing and the ocean’s heat capacity and thermal inertia..
First, let’s discuss the ocean itself. The ocean, as the prime reservoir of energy on the planet also has the greatest thermal inertia. We’ve been getting better and better at measuring the energy going into the ocean, and have seen that by far most of the warming the planet has seen has gone to the oceans. Somewhere around 23 x 10^22 Joules of energy over the past 40 years has gone into the top 2000m of the ocean due to the Earth’s energy imbalance This energy is still there, and growing, and will effect the clmate for centuries as it eventually comes back into the atmosphere.
But the next “lags” or slow-feedbacks to climate change are the cryosphere and biosphere. Both of these take many decades to fully respond to any given forcing, and thus, they are currently still responding to 392 ppm of CO2. The cryosphere has annual cycles, but ressponds over decades to changes in forcing. We see this in the paleoclimate record as glaciers grow or contract over thousands, recacting to small changes in solar insolation brough about through Milankovitch cycles and the resultant positive feedback creating by the outgassing of CO2 from the oceans. In the future, as CO2 continues to increase, we will never actually see the planet’s equilibrium response to CO2 to 392 ppm, and (assuming we stop at 450 or 560 ppm), our future generations may get the opportunity to see what the final equilibrium response to that future CO2 level, albeit many decades after that level is reached and has stabilized. Equally, the biosphere can take many decades to respond to warming as species slowly migrate to new areas, changing the landscape and eventually eventually even planetary albedo. The paleoclimate record shows the biosphere response is especially strong in polar regions, which makes sense as that’s where warming is the strongest as well..
That is an amazing number. If one assumes an energy imbalance of 1 watt/m^2, and integrate this over 40 years and over the areal cross-section of the earth, that accounts for 16 x 10^22 joules.
The excess energy is going somewhere and it doesn’t always have to be reflected in an atmospheric temperature rise.
To make an analogy consider the following scenario.
Lots of people understand how the heat sink works that is attached to the CPU inside a PC. What the sink does is combat the temperature rise caused by the electrical current being injected into the chip. That number multiplied by the supply voltage gives a power input specified in watts. Given a large enough attached heat sink, the power gets dissipated to a much large volume before it gets a chance to translate quickly to a temperature rise inside the chip. Conceivably, with a large enough thermal conductance and a large enough mass for the heat sink, and an efficient way to transfer the heat from the chip to the sink, the process could defer the temperature rise to a great extent. That is an example of a transient thermal effect.
The same thing is happening to the earth, to an extent that we know must occur but with some uncertainty based on the exact geometry and thermal diffusivity of the ocean and the ocean/atmospheric interface. The ocean is the heat sink and the atmosphere is the chip. The difference is that much of the input power is going directly into the ocean, and it is getting diffused into the depths. The atmosphere doesn’t have to bear the brunt of the forcing function until the ocean starts to equilibrate with the atmosphere’s temperature. This of course will take a long time based on what we know about temporal thermal transients and the Fickian response of temperature due to a stimulus.
Web, if the atmosphere is the chip, the space is the heat sink. Oceans cannot be the heat sink, because they are warming the atmosphere. The net energy flow is from the oceans to the atmosphere. The atmosphere can only cool by radiation to space.
And if I did the conversions properly, there are 1.386e+24 grams of ocean water. So the quantity of joules don’t look quite as big as all that.
So thats about 5.5e22 calories, which would raise the temperature of the ocean roughly 0.04 C. Correct?
Jim2, or 5.5e19 Calories for the weight conscious.
That is wrong. It goes in the other direction.
That is wrong as the flow is the reverse of that.
In regards to the ocean and atmosphere and energy flow, most of the energy entering the ocean comes by way of SW radiation directly from the sun (of course passing through the atmosphere, but the atmosphere is not the source). Energy then flows back to the atmosphere from the ocean via evaporation and LW radiation, with some very minor conduction right at the ocean surface.
But this flow of energy from sun to ocean to atmosphere does not indicate the roll the atmosphere can play in regulation of the flow of energy to and from the ocean, even if it is not the source of that energy. Increased aerosols, from volcanoes or humans for example, can block the amount of SW radiation that enters the ocean, thus reducing the flow from the sun to the ocean. On the outbound side, increased greenhouse gases can reduce the amount of LW leaving the ocean by altering the thermal gradient at the ocean skin layer. More LW downwelling from the atmosphere means the the very top of the ocean skin layer (just a few mm thick) is a bit warmer, and thus, the ocean surface does not lose heat as fast. This warmer water is then downwelled into the deeper ocean, slowly, but steadily raising ocean heat content over many decades.
The skin is less than a millimetre and must be net cooler than the underlying water – net IR is up. Downwelling is an unlikely mechanism for deep mixing at best and is probably best seen as turbulent mixing and convection of the warmer sub-suface layer and this minor skin layer. Mixing to depth is more turbulent eddies from both the surface and from currents pushing over irregularities at the ocean bottom.
The question is what caused the warming. Both ERBE and ISCCP-FD suggest clouds – with IR ging in the wrong direction entirely. eg
Wong et al 2006
e.g. NASA – http://isccp.giss.nasa.gov/zFD/an9090_SWup_toa.gif
‘The overall slight rise (relative heating) of global total net flux at TOA between the 1980’s and 1990’s is confirmed in the tropics by the ERBS measurements and exceeds the estimated climate forcing changes (greenhouse gases and aerosols) for this period. The most obvious explanation is the associated changes in cloudiness during this period.’
‘In summary, although there is independent evidence for decadal changes in TOA radiative fluxes over the last two decades, the evidence is equivocal. Changes in the planetary and tropical TOA radiative fluxes are consistent with independent global ocean heat-storage data, and are expected to be dominated by changes in cloud radiative forcing. To the extent that they are real, they may simply reflect natural low-frequency variability of the climate system.’
Equiocal because the satellites don’t agree with ome patchy cloud cloud observations over land. The place to look for clouds is in marine stratocumulos regions – e.g. Burgmann et al 2008, Zhu et al 2007, Clements et al 2009, Dessler 2010 etc.
All of the missing energy (minor though it is) from CERES is in the shortwave. So really the most uncertain factor turns out to be a primary factor in recent warming and it all AGW falls in a bit of a heap.
Most warming in the ocean in the 1990’s was from less reflected SW and there was cooling in the IR – likewise associated with less cloud.
Can we get certainty out of this. Yes we are certain that there is secular cloud cloud change that moves – like global energy content itself – in both directions.
It is absurd to continue to neglect this.
Web, I’m looking at the heat exchange between the atmosphere and the oceans, that’s the issue here. All the fluxes (evaporation, net IR radiation and convection) are outgoing. Maybe you’re taking directly absorbed solar into account, but again, the issue is atmoshere/oceans heat transfer.
“The same thing is happening to the earth, to an extent that we know must occur but with some uncertainty based on the exact geometry and thermal diffusivity of the ocean and the ocean/atmospheric interface. The ocean is the heat sink and the atmosphere is the chip.”
Edim, the ocean is the heat sink. Work out the heat equation and you get the transient as a bonus.
‘The ocean, as the prime reservoir of energy on the planet also has the greatest thermal inertia’
Damn, I didn’t know that.
I had alsways assumed that the solid Nickel/Iron core and surrounding molten Nickel/Iron layer contained the greatest thermal mass and so contained the greatest thermal inertia.
I would have plumbed for the solid rock/molten rock interface as number two. I had always envisioned the ocens as a long way behind these; silly me.
The Nickel/Iron core has a lot of thermal inertia. We are well insulated from it and therefore it plays a very very small part in the heat balance of the earth surface and atmosphere. Between the core, oceans, surface and atmosphere of Earth, the ocean wins by huge margin.
A desert gets very hot in the day and very cold in the night. That is because the earth is very well insulated from the heat below.
I realize you’re being facetious, but heat from the very hot core of the planet only interacts with the surface (thus affecting the climate) in very small amounts…something like 0.1 wm2 averaged over the whole planet, and thus has an insignificant role to play in terms of heat exchange and climate. So of course when talking about heat storage and thermal inertia I was referring to a comparision between ocean and atmosphere. The oceans act as the active and functional climate and weather related heat storage mechanism on planet. As interesting side note: the times that major heat does come up from the interior to the surface and out the atmosphere (i.e. volcanoes) we actually get more net initial cooling from such events as the sulfate aersols block sunlight from reaching the surface.
only 0.1Wm-2? How many joules would that be in 40 years?
about 1.6 x 10^22 joules and 1.1 x 10^22 of that to the ocean.
O.K. R. Gates, let us try it your way. What do I get when I add heat, in the form of sunlight and atmospheric back (IR) radiation to the ocean.
Well I get three main things, 1) surface heating a light is absorbed through the top 20 meters or so of the surface, 2) I get evaporation and 3) I get an increase in potentital energy in the form of a chemical potential/density potential as a manifestation of increased salinity.
Then night falls. During the night, heat is transferred to the atmosphere and off into space.
In the equatorial deep water oceans the temperature change from Tmin to T max is a minimum of 5 degrees.
The movements of bulk water in the form of currents is of the order of plus/minus 1 degree per year as warms saline water can sink and cold less saline water can rise.
During the winter/summer season the difference in temperature is also about 5 degrees from the tropics of Cancer/Capricorn. So a body of water will have a annual summer/noon and winter/early morning temperature range of about 10 degrees; plus/minus 1 current noise.
There will be no lag in such a system. Each day and night the oceans are pumping out huge amounts of heat and during the day absorbing huge amounts of heat.
The system is dynamic, and intimately coupled to inputs. The system is very good at shedding heat, the system also is very good at avoiding converting heat into temperature.
Here is Roy Spencer’s UHA measurement of HEAT from the Earths lower atmosphere.
Now one can interpret this as either meaning that the Earth’s temperature bounces up and down half a degree every couple of years, or, one can realize that heat in the Earths system can be converted into may forms, and that temperature is only one of them.
That is wrong. The ocean acts as a net heat sink because the thermal gradient points in the direction of deeper waters, which are colder.
Greater downwelling LW from the atmosphere (due to increased GH gases) will alter the thermal gradient across the ocean skin layer, making it warmer at the top and thus reducing energy flow out of the ocean.. SW Solar energy is fairly constant to the planet, but the flow to and from the ocean can be regulated by the atmosphere. More aerosols and clouds reduce the amount of SW entering the ocean, more greenhouse gases regulate the amount of energy leaving both ocean and atmosphere.
SW is far from ‘fairly constant’.
The radiation reaching the Earth has not varied to the degree that the
oceans have been absorbing energy. No matter what, you will change
your perception, but for those who’d like to read a bit more science on the subject, I suggest:
Oh for God’s sake Loeb et al use net CERES.
Of course there is no missing energy – here it is – http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view¤t=vonSchuckmann-OHC.gif
But where did it come from -http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view¤t=CERES-BAMS-2008-with-trend-lines1.gif
It is obvious in CERES that the dominant change was in SW from cloud. I
The ocean heat content is consistent with the radiative power flux at TOA (AR4, Wong et al 2006) – which is dominated by SW changes in the satellite records.
You don’t understand water too well do you Mr Webby. Not that not konowing has stopped you before.
Well, I don’t think you understand physics. Heat flows in the direction of a thermal gradient.
There is no both a heat gradient from warmer to cooler and convection in the ocean. Which is greater? The fact that there is a warm layer over cool and not uniform temperature suggests the latter. I am tired of arguing baby physics with you.
Go away and do some basic thinking and reading about how these things work. First I am not here to educate you in fundamentals and second you arrogantly refuse to accept that you are wrong despite in any detail.
I am beginning to believe that climate skeptics are like toddlers who will test the limits to see what they can get away with. All you can do is be stern and say no, over and over again.
One last time, I wIll provide an equivalence. Build a large greenhouse around a large pool of water. Measure how fast the water heats up in comparison to the enclosed air, during a spell of sunny days. Then determine what takes longer to then cool down on suppression of sunlight. It isn’t the same greenhouse effect but is a sanity check and bounding condition.. This is a physics homework assignment.
Back to the greenhouses and pools? Let’s assume the the water is full of green pond scum and the sun rises – the energy content of the water will always increase first because it is warmed by visible light whereas the atmosphere is not. The atmosphere inside the greenhouse is warmed by – well I will leave that for your homework Webby.
That is incorrect. The oceans act like a high capacity heat sink when stimulated by a sustained thermal forcing function.
If no thermal forcing function exists then it will maintain whatever steady state it is in. Otherwise, the oceans will take up a portion of the excess heat with extremely long response times.
I have quite an elegant way of applying the heat equation to this system.
http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com see the post on the missing heat.
Here is some quire elegant data – http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view¤t=Wong2006figure7.gif – comparing ocean heat storage and TOA power flux from ERBS. All short wave warming and cooling in the LW. You are in principle wrong and in practice wronger still.
Going right into the ocean. To witness someone as aggressively retarded as the Chief is quite entertaining.
Space is colder than the deep ocean. Just sayin’.
If modeling the planetary climate was as simple as your pool in a greenhouse analogy, we would have figured out everything there possibly is to know a long, long time ago.
Perhaps it isn’t quite so simple?
Webby denying that sunlight warms water seems more an expression of psychopathology.
Obviously the excess solar heats the ocean atmosphere interface and it diffuses to deeper waters. You can see this play out at any number of TAO measurement locations. Not that you need to do this, as it is completely predictable from physical laws.
Lower effective thermal conductivity upwards. Isn’t that so cool to actually understand physics and be able to apply what you know mathematically?
The visible spectrum penetrates the water column. Some 3% of incoming solar energy penetrates more than 100m. Nothing you say has any meaning or rational content. This is what I linked to seemingly an eon ago – http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?n=939 – you should try to take on board what it says and try not be such an annoying and misguided little git. ‘Sunlight penetrating the surface of the oceans is responsible for warming of the surface layers. Once heated, the ocean surface becomes warmer than the atmosphere above, and because of this heat flows from the warm ocean to the cool atmosphere above.’ This is the exact opposite of what you so graciously insist on – and of which everyone has said is just nonsense. Why are you so madly persistent and bizarrely misguided? I am clueless as to your motivations and could care less.
As I have said before – I think you are as wacky as anyone on the net.
Web, I am trying to figure out that air heating the oceans thingy.
That is the Aqua data from 2003 to 2007, it had a few fairly good years. It is daily so it is noisy. I like noisy. I offset the 600 mb and 400 mb to compare them with the near surface layer. The ocean is in blue. The ocean shows warming when the sun is in the southern hemisphere. The air shows warming when the sun is in the northern hemisphere. Is it the common peaks of the air temps that are warming the ocean?
Get the data from the TAO project. Plot crosscorrelations from surface to multiple layers down.
One can always see a lagged correlation of temperature downward.
This confirms that heat diffuses toward lower temperatures with a rate proportional to the effective thermal conductivity. Not that one needs confirmation, since this is the outcome of thermal physics.
‘The equations that make up this model have used:
– the radiation absorbed from the sun and the atmosphere (as described in part one)
– the radiation emitted from the surface layer (the Stefan-Boltzmann equation)
– conductivity transferring heat between layers
If these were the only mechanisms for transferring heat, the ocean 1m – 10m deep would be extremely hot in the tropics. This is because the ocean where the radiation is absorbed cannot radiate back out.
For a mental picture think of a large thick slab of PVC which is heated from electrical elements within the PVC. Because it is such a poor conductor of heat, the inner temperature will rise much higher than the surface temperature, so long as the heating continues..
The reason this doesn’t happen in practice in the ocean is due to convection.
If you heat a gas or liquid from below it heats up and expands. Because it is now less dense than the layer above it will rise. This is what happens in the atmosphere, and it also happens in the ocean. The ocean under the very surface layer heats up, expands and rises – overturning the top layer of the ocean. This is natural convection.
The other effect that takes place is forced convection as the wind speed “stirs” the top few meters of the ocean. Convection is the transfer of heat by bulk motion of a fluid. Essentially, the gas or liquid moves, taking heat with it.’ – http://scienceofdoom.com/2010/10/23/does-back-radiation-heat-the-ocean-part-two/ –
Warm water rises to the surface where it cools to the atmosphere. You inevitably oversimplify based on false assumptions and continue to graciously insist on something that is fundamentally unphysical.
You really just repeat a couple of terms and insist that heat diffuses downward in the ocean as if it were a solid. Along with of course the insults and rehearsed whines about sceptics and sockpuppets. I am bored with it all – hence the re-adoption of the Terwilliger sockpuppet for the sake of spiritual equanimity – nothing you would understand.
Robert I Ellison
Diffusion is but a random walk of mobile particles or material. Due to the effects of entropy, the general motion is one of from regions of high concentration to regions of low concentration. For heat, which is not a particle or material, the diffusion is from regions of high temperature to regions of low temperature. The random walk can be assisted by material diffusion such as random eddies. This makes ocean heat diffusion an effective diffusion, one measured over and over again by oceanographers through the years. James Hansen used an effective value of the diffusion coefficient, which I noted above, to estimate the flow of heat downward as a result of surface and atmospheric warming.
I approve of the approach, as it obeys the laws of physics, and I can describe it mathematically with a master diffusion equation.
The Chief can’t and if he were to try, I would rip his math to shreds. That is all there is to it.
IR is emitted from surfaces which then warms the atmosphere. There is no physical mechanism for atmospheric warming without the emitted IR. If the problem is conceived as a high temperature atmosphere from which heat ‘diffuses’ by convection and turbulent mixing – then this is conceptually incorrect and any simple model based on the heat equation involving heat flow simply from the atmosphere to the ocean is physically implausible.
Simple models are sometimes useful even if physically incorrect. In this case you would call them a black box model and not infer too much physically about the system from the black box model. This is Webby’s problem – he has mistaken convenience for varacity.
I tend to think of the ocean and atmosphere as being radiatively coupled. That is that SW warms the ocean and land surfaces, the ocean and land warms and emits IR, the atmosphere absorbs IR and re-emits in all directions. So the only rational approach to assessing warming or cooling is with an energy conservation approach – which works best at TOA. That is – both warming and cooling if the atmosphere and oceans is involved.
d(S)/dt = Energy in – Energy in
Where d(s)/dt is the total global energy storage. It includes minor terms for enthalpy and kinetic and potential energy as well a heat – so the deceptively simple global budget is a complete description of Earth’s energy dynamic. We can tell many things from this. Principally that the warming in the CERES era was in the SW in as a result of cloud changes – although this has changed to cooling with the current 2 year La Nina. The ocean warms, convection brings the warm water to the surface where net IR is emitted to the atmosphere and ultimately to space.
This simple and obvious description of global power flux is correct without a doubt. The problem with Webby is that he is so aggressively beligerant that he leaves no rooom either to ignore me or to back down gracefully.
I leave open the possibility that he is sincerely deluded – that makes a great of sense. There are many examples of sincere – but nonetheless misguided – beliefs on the web.
Robert I Ellison
The Chief ignorantly shows an equation that does not describe the evolution of heat within the system. That is best described as a partial differential equation involving the change in the gradient of the temperature.
No wonder that the Chief explains everything in the exact opposite way that it actually turns out. Without a strong physics foundation, his intuition fails him.
Webby – the simple 1st order energy equation is used to define the accumulation of energy in the system in a way that is useful. You say that the heat equation is fundamental – that the atmosphere warms and then the heat diffuses into the ocean – and you can model this using the partial differential heat equation.
The reality is still that energy enters the ocean in SW and emerges as convection, latent heat and net IR upwards. Your model is not physically realisitic – and as I have said this before and you r one mode of so-called civilised discourse is insult and calumny – you can go to hell.
I said that the ocean/atmosphere interface (and the atmosphere because of its low heat capacity) heats first. The depths lag according to the physics of the heat equation. Thanks for telling me to go to you know where.
So here we have the ocean warming to 10m and more with SW and cooling with IR from the surface and with convection and latent heat. Because the warming is all radiative – it is all very nearly instantaneous. The heat is right there in the ocean. There is turbulent mixing – both at the surface and from the bottom and convection in the ocean. These are pretty quick processes as well. The atmosphere is warmed by the ocean – the physical mechanism is by IR emission from the surface.
This is the reverse of what you said – and insisted on so graciously. I just like to see you get trapped into one reinvention after another. Most amusing.
Instructive to understand that a heated volume will diffuse and disperse outward (in a planar sense, both up from the plane, and down from the plane) to maximize entropy. The Chief insists that the heat regroups and flows to regions of high temperature (i.e. higher heat concentration), which no rational scientist has ever suggested occurs naturally.
A heated volume of water will incease in volume and decrease in density if not constrained. A volume of warm water less dense that the surrounding water will rise bouyantly to the surface layer. So we have these two processes – turbulent mixing to depth and rising to the surface by convection. That the latter process dominates is evidenced by the layer of warm water above the thermocline. So yes warm water rises to warm water and collects there in a pool some 100m deep at the equator where it cools radiatively, conductively and by evaporation to the atmosphere.
Not sure that this would be a mystery to a 10 year old Webby – but it obviously is to you.
And that can be modeled as a diffusional process, with a diffusion coefficient of between 1 and 2 cm^2/am
It is good that you are catching on to what oceanographers view as the box diffusion model. The Chief once again bucks the consensus view of science so as to spread FUD., but can’t help the fact that the longer he engages in this discussion, the more he aligns with James Hansen’s view of the ocean as an enormous heat sink which latently buffers global warming.
Web, so the rate of diffusion in the ocean, which is 2 to 3 orders of magnitude slower than the rate of diffusion in the air, is significant but the air not? I thought it was the changes in the rates of change that indicated the rate of warming?
Web, this graph compares global, land and ocean temperatures by satellite (mid troposphere for better coverage) to the 5.35*ln(Cf/280). The land linear regression nearly perfectly matches the increase in CO2 forcing.
This graph is from 2003 to 2010 using the AQUA channels based on actual temperatures not anomalies. SST is on the right axis and the air layers on the left with the noted shifts to stack the plots.
The major air temperature warming is in the NH summer and the ocean warming in the SH summer. That makes it a bit more difficult for air temperature warming to diffuse into the oceans when the warming is not over the oceans don’t it?
Sorry, forgot to paste the first graph. BTW, isn’t diffusion in the air at standard temperature and pressure around 60 meters per day? That would be about 2000 kilometers in 3 months. Seems I have heard of a 3 month lag mentioned from time to time.
Are you scared to do the cross-correlation of surface temperatures with subsurface temperatures? Why are you scared? That it won’t tell you what you wish it would do?
The atmosphere and land has the lowest thermal capacity. That will always heat first. The ocean will lag behind this. Of course the ocean will absorb most of its heat from radiation forcing, but as I said elsewhere, some will come from convection and diffusion at the surface — this is something you can’t pretend to ignore just to make the argument look weaker than it is.
Heat always flows from regions of high temperature to low, as that is how the equations are derived. The thermal diffusivity will be lower between ocean/atmosphere compared to ocean/subsurface and that will come out of the wash when the transients are calculated.
Read this by Hansen:
Web, the average ocean temperature is 294K, the average land temperature is 273K. at most, only 80% of the warming at 273K could possibly impact the average ocean surface temperature. Since most of the warming is in region with average temperatures below 273K, the impact in those regions is even less. With three or more months of no solar input at all, there is little seasonal carry over of warming. Each years starts brand new, So it is kind of a waste doing many cross correlations until the problem is properly set up.
The T^4 factor makes averaging temperatures to determine a change in forcing a bit foolish. By just selecting regions that differ from Hansen’s projections, It is easier to get a feel for what part of the physics he missed.
I think you have a quote of the week in your post-
“So it is kind of a waste doing many cross correlations until the problem is properly set up.”
In an ideal world before the first card is punched for the compiler a complete design review would occur so that everyone was able to have their input on what the output of the data mining exercise could and could not tell us.
Sometimes the stupid hurts too much.
Again we get back to the idea that the physical process is not one of the atmosphere heating the ocean by dffusion. One may of course model anything by anything – but if the physical construct is incorrect as yours is then it is a pointless exercise that tells nothing about the real world.
The physical reaity is that the sun warms the oceans creating a warm layer 100m or more thick, energy is lost to the atmosphere which cools to space. It is simply the reality accepted by all reasonable people everywhere. I have linked to both sceptical science and science of doom. Yet you continue to insist on nonsense. Why?
The reason I stress science of doom and sceptical science is that they are uncompromised sources – not sceptical that is.
The physical mechanism for atmophere warming is absorption of IR from the surface – both land and ocean. Diffusion is minor and overwhelmed by other processes. One can’t say realistically that the major processes by far can be modelled by an equation relating to the very minor process by means of curve fitting. There is no physical veracity.
You keep insisting that people repeat some nonsensical calculation – that is nonsense from first principles. Why would we repeat something that is utterly misguided?
Web said, “Sometimes the stupid hurts too much.” Wouldn’t know :)
You have been given several good links why you are elevating a minor process to world class importance. Pretty much like you put down the conductive impact that I mention. One difference though, the conductive impact I mention is at the ocean surface to atmospheric boundary layer where the rate of diffusion from water to air is over 100 times the rate of air to water. That is an important thing to know if you are designing heat exchangers. Another thing that is kinda important is the Reynolds number at the boundary layer. More turbulent interaction, more heat transfer. All significant heat transfer is from the higher energy fluid (as in warmer) to the lower energy fluid. The Gulf Stream starts about 10 miles south of me. It travels to the Grand Banks off of Newfoundland where it can be more than ten degrees warmer than the local waters. What is the water temperature under the Gulf Stream off Newfoundland? What is the air temperature above the Gulf Stream off Newfoundland?
The ocean acting as a huge heat sink is probably the biggest factor in both the transient climate response and the eventual steady state value. With the arrow of entropy pointing the way toward a naturally and maximally disordered state, the heat sink is the ultimate destination for the excess energy. This excess amount is huge and it likely encapsulates a significant fraction of the energy balance. If the sink retains the excess and releases it very gradually while we return to a stable GHG forcing, then that would be the best outcome.
I have been saying over and over again that heat follows a gradient away from regions of high thermal concentrations towards regions of low thermal density. The atmosphere has low thermal capacity and like all systems with low capacitances, they tend to heat relatively quickly, unless a sink can naturally disperse the heat before it gets to build-up at all.
A model of effective diffusion that considers all of the the dispersive mixing paths is the only way to proceed. The dispersive formulation is my contribution.
You going to be civilised are you Webby – that’s a change.
Let’s assume that greenhouse gases stabilise in the atmosphere. With clouds, dust, ice, snow and vegetation remaining the same as well. A very big ask. Temperature and downwelling radiation also stabilise and we can assume that convection and latent heat change not at all as well. So that the net heat loss from the ocean doesn’t change and the ocean heat content remains the same as well.
Now imagine if greenhouse gases decrease. Downwelling radiation decreases and the ocean loses energy to the atmosphere. Now obviously most enerrgy is stored in the oceans but as the atmosphere cools so does the ocean. These are coupled radiatively (as well as with convection and latent heat) – there is no delay between atmospheric and ocean cooling. So there is no heat in the pipeline that can cause atmospheric temperature to increase once greenhouse gases decrease and atmospheric temperature likewise decreases leading to higher net upward IR from the ocean.
As I say – you may adopt a diffusion factor by curve fitting that subsumes all these other factors. But that doesn’t describe the system at all and doesn’t lead to a correct understanding of the physics. It is a black box model.
No, I am not going to imagine that, because that is not what is happening. Greenhouse gases are increasing and you have just created a strawman argument that reverses the sense of the heat sink.
I started with the analogy of a electronic heat sink. Of course if I shut the power off to the CPU, the heat sink will slowly cool.
There never was such a thing as “heat in the pipeline”. Those are talking points fabricated by fake skeptics.
‘Earth was out of energy balance during the recent solar minimum, more energy coming in than going out, which reveals that the largest natural climate forcing (solar variability) is overwhelmed by increasing greenhouse gases. The imbalance also proves that there is substantial additional global warming “in the pipeline” even without additional increase of atmospheric CO2.’
Um – guess who.
And the imbalance at solar minimum was all in the SW. But then JH doesn’t believe the satellites. Lucky his bosses in NASA do.
Long adjustment time of co2.
It was a term invented by Hansen for mixing of heat into the oceans to emerge later to add to surface warming. It doesn’t happen.
There is no long adjustment time for CO2 – but even if there were it can’t cause increased warming later on and has nothing to with Hansen’s idea of heat in the pipeline.
Chief lacks an intuitive feel for all natural phenomenon. If one takes several months worth of data from a location, the time series looks like this over a few days.
After a cross-correlation function is applied 75 meters downward, one sees an obvious yet small lag from that level as it mixes with the lower layers.
The lag is longer the farther the reach extends downward. The reason Chief lacks intuition on this is that he can’t handle the math. If one assumes a typical James Hansen diffusion coefficient of 1.5 cm^2/s, the diffusion is actually very slow over long distance. A Fickian diffusion would only displace 100 meters after 3 years at that rate. So the effect is fairly subtle and to detect it requires some sophisticated data processing. To deny this is happening takes some serious chutzpah.
Bottom-line is that the surface water is heated and it does mix with the deeper waters. Otherwise, one would not see the obvious thermal mixing as is obtained from the TAO sites:
It takes a deeply ignorant or belligerent personality to not admit that thermal mixing and en effective diffusivity is occurring. The only premise required is that an energy imbalance exists and that it will continue to occur as long as CO2 is above the historical atmospheric average. This imbalance shows up to a large extent in the oceans waters and is reflected as a temporal lag in global warming.
Hansen is so very right; Trenberth only muddied the waters when he spoke off the cuff about “heat in the pipeline”. One has to be forever vigilant about the contrarians twisting words and making up stuff about fundamental ideas from statistical physics.
You are back again Webby?
You keep talking about intuition as if it is any substutute for deductive reasoning. I think one problem visual reasoning skills – the ability to visualise process. I personally don’t know how one might understand anything complex without a detaled visualisation. You are otherwise left with words, maths and analogy. Hopelessly inadequate. Simple analogies to complex systems are likely to be incorrect as yours are. You keep twisting words as well. As I keep saying – if you don’t have the correct conceptual model – the maths are downright wrong. You keep harking to calculations – and I keep saying no the formulation is incorrect and misleading answers are the least you should expect.
Not once have I done anything but suggest that mixing occurs in the oceans both as surface mixing and as mixing to great depth in sub-surface eddies. It makes no difference at all – although I suspect that your lag is a diurnal artifact. The ocean gains and loses heat from day to night.
The fact really is that that the ocean warms from sunlight 3% of which penetrates past 100m. All of the energy in the ocean comes from the sun. The oceans lose heat by convection, as latent heat and as net IR up. If the atmosphere warms – more SW energy stays in the ocean. The effect is instantaneous. The analogy of a circuit board and heat sink is entirely misleading – physicaly incorrect because there is another heat source that is far more fundamental. The ocean gains heat from the sun and loses it from the surface 1mm.
Your suggestion that the heat ‘in the pipeline’ was Trenberth’s idea doesn’t wash. It was an invention of Hansen’s that even he has disowned. You not even knowing of it hint’s at the limitations of your climate education – which is I admit something I was aware of and keep alluding to.
Robert I Ellison
I showed you a cross-correlation of near-surface temperature with temperature 500 meters below the surface. Energy entering the ocean mixes and diffuses efficiently, which is exactly what an effective heat sink should and will do.
Here is another cross-correlation that I generated which clearly shows the strong correlation oscillations. This indicates that temperatures changes happen in unison and in a coherent fashion well below the surface.
The Chief tends to hide from empirical data, and would rather play out some fantasies in his head concerning how physics actually works.
In particular, he thinks that IR photons which enter the ocean get absorbed close to the surface (which is true) but then he comes up with a claim that they immediately boomerang and leave the surface as outgoing radiation (which is not true, i.e. the immediate part). Like all energy that gets absorbed in a liquid, the majority is first transferred to kinetic motion which then contributes to diffusion. The motion quickly disperses so that it is spread out far beyond the “skin” surface layer.
The net increase in radiation is only related to the change in temperature, and since this net increase is very small, as the temperature dilutes due to the dispersive diffusion, it will take a long time for the steady state energy imbalance to correct itself.
That is exactly what James Hansen and others are talking about when they say that the ocean is storing the excess energy imbalance as a sinked heat. And this is not realized as an average global warming until the ocean reaches a quasi-equilibrium such that the outgoing energy can balance against the incoming excess forcing. As long as there is excess CO2, we will have an excess forcing.
The physics always makes sense if you set up the premises properly.
It doesn’t make sense if you fabricate new laws or create wild premises, as those laws will contradict reality.
Webby – when will you realise that I don’t look at your nonsense because it is wrong from first principles. Downwelling IR is absorbed in the top 100 odd microns. IR up from the ocean is likewise from the top 100 microns. We are left with a skin that is cooler than the underlying water. It gains energy in IR and loses more at the same. We claim always was that this is a radiative process – the water emits and absorbs photons. This is the process. Net IR is upward and it all happens at the speed of light. That cold skin is then turbulently mixed into the water below – more energy is lost from the ocean and the process goes on. Energy is turbulently mixed both from winds and tide and in eddies formed when currents push over irregular surfaces at the bottom. Convection brings it to the surface.
As greenhouse gases increase the atmosphere warms and net downwelling IR increases. Net IR up from the ocean then decreases and the oceans accumulate energy that comes from the sun warming up. The atmosphere and oceans are a coupled system. One warms and the other does too and vice versa.
You have strayed further into incoherence Webby – all this to justify an idea of heat diffusing from the atmosphere to the ocean that is fundamentally unphysical. You continue to make up nonsense to justify this such as IR energy is not a boomerang. Bizarre. The net IR from the ocean is up and if your ideas don’t accord with this fundamental thermodynamic law you are just pissing in your pocket.
‘Greater downwelling LW from the atmosphere (due to increased GH gases) will alter the thermal gradient across the ocean skin layer, making it warmer at the top and thus reducing energy flow out of the ocean.. SW Solar energy is fairly constant to the planet, but the flow to and from the ocean can be regulated by the atmosphere. More aerosols and clouds reduce the amount of SW entering the ocean, more greenhouse gases regulate the amount of energy leaving both ocean and atmosphere.’
Here is a quote from Gatesy – another loser warminista – but a lot righter than you in this. Keep going Webby – I’m sure there are some lurkers still here who don’t know what a pathetic loser you are.
Oh the Gates quote was right at the top of this nest. I you had spent as much time thinking about it as inventing nonsense – you might be less of an idiot. Guess that wouldn’t be you then.
The Chief is reverting to his original antics of obfuscation.
All I am trying to do is explaining a significant effect — that of massive amounts of excess thermal energy uptaken by the ocean.
Funny how he can twist my accurate analogy of a heat sink into mush. I will present my complete math model to avoid any further ambiguity. That will stand on its own terms and we will see how it pans out.
Edim “The net energy flow is from the oceans to the atmosphere.”
Webby ‘That is wrong as the flow is the reverse of that.’
If your physics are wrong nothing you say makes any sense. It is such a simple thing. All of the energy in the ocean comes from sunlight. You are just a fool. It is very amusing as you twist in the wind trying to justify the idiotic. Of course the ocean accumulates energy – why would you try to suggest that is a surprise to anyone. I have said it half a dozen times in this nest. It is the pathways that are interesting – and the coupled nature of the system. You are such a lying idiot.
That’s why I said I will work to “avoid any further ambiguity”. Quite obviously the majority of the energy imbalance comes via the Earth’s atmosphere; I said that to disambiguate the amount that comes from the Earth’s core, which is about 0.08 watts/m^2, whereas that raining down from us is likely greater than 1 watts/m^2 if we believe in GHG forcing. So the amount that comes from the atmosphere is divided between visible light photons that are directly transmitted from the sun and the photons that bounce around between land and the atmosphere to eventually get absorbed.
The ocean will heat up from a unit-step forcing function according to a dispersive Fickian law of diffusion
This shows the typical lag according to a heat sink and will only near steady-state when the delta temperature is great enough to provide enough outgoing IR radiation to compensate the incoming atmospheric (solar + IR) energy flux.
That equation is insightful in that it creates a linear rise for small time which then goes into the square root law of conventional Fickian diffusion. The linear part comes out as a result of an effective diffusivity for D, which ranges around a mean value. The lag is that a unit step forcing function generates a latent response that is much slower than a unit step.
The model can be tweaked to handle increasing forcing functions as well, but this gives the salient characteristics.
Not really interested in the Earth’s core Webby. Why would you pretend that I said anything of the kind? I am not talking about energy imbalance either – any energy imbalance for increased greenhouse gases is transient. The atmosphere warms – the IR downwelling increases, the net IR upward from the ocean decreases and the ocean warms restoring net upward IR. It is all instantaneous or nearly so. The energy enters from the Sun – and leaves as IR, convection and as latent heat.
Beneath the waves there is turbulent mixing and convection that can’t really be considered realistically as either molecular (a la Fick) or heat diffusion (a la heat equation). The physical processes are vastly different yet you subsume it all as ‘effective diffusion’.
The true governing equation deriving from the 1st law of thermodynamics is the energy budget.
d(S)/dt = Ein – Eout
This is true at the surface of the ocean where the change in energy content in the ocean is determined by the energy in less the energy out – again as visible light in to >10m and IR out plus latent heat and convection in the atmosphere. It is clear that there can be only negligible lag in these energy fluxes. Regardless of where the change in heat is in the ocean it is there as a result of the energy imbalance at the surface and is to all intents and purposes occurring at the speed of light.
Now I said that I wasn’t interested in energy imbalances – but that was from greenhouse gases. The energy imbalance idea from greenhouse gases is another over simplified idea. What happens is that increased greenhouse gases absorb more IR in the atmosphere and the atmosphere warms. It then increases IR emission in all directions – including down – in accordance with the Steffan-Boltzmann law for a grey body thus tending towards energy equilibrium.
It is simpler to aggregate the oceans and atmosphere and consider energy both as heat content in the oceans and power fluxes at the top of atmosphere as here it is clear that all of the inputs and outputs are radiative and these are in practice more easily measured.
It is clear that oceans have warmed in the ARGO period – here is the graph from the von Schuckmann study – http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view¤t=vonSchuckmann-OHC.gif So we know that energy in was greater than energy out.
Did the atmosphere warm between 2003 and 2008? – http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_March_2012.png – Not noticeably – it was fairly steady until 2008 where it fell off the edge in the 2008 La Niña. So this warming in the ocean is not likely the result of thermodynamic coupling between oceans and atmosphere in a CO2 enriched atmosphere. Some minor influence may be there but is not detectable in the climate signal.
Was it solar related? http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/total_solar_irradiance_plots/images/tim_level3_tsi_24hour_640x480.png – Well no. TSI declined in the period.
The fact is that it all happened in the SW – http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view¤t=CERES-BAMS-2008-with-trend-lines1.gif – and this is the result of changes in cloudiness.
You have a pointless model that is deeply unphysical and tells less than nothing about the climate system – because it is conceptually inadequate. It is modelling the wrong thing in the wrong way. My 1st order differential energy budget is based on the 1st law of thermodynamics – completely describes the energy budget which must ultimately balance. It is a much more flexible framework for analysing relative influences on global energy content.
But you might note – but as it is you Webby I pretty much doubt it – that the ocean/atmosphere temperature is somewhat independent of the energy budget. As greenhouse gases accumulate the temperature of the atmosphere rises which causes the heat gradient across the ‘skin’ to decrease resulting in ocean warming. As greenhouse gases continue to accumulate the temperature of both ocean and atmosphere continues to edge up – all other things being equal which they rarely are. There is huge variability in climate on all scales. The energy budget, however, always trends to equilibrium.
I wouldn’t expect a civ such as yourself to understand anything about photonics or electromagnetic theory. The fact that you use the term “speed of light” shows how utterly ignorant you are about physics. I bet that you took one physics course, perhaps as a freshman, and you have been making it up ever since. It makes sense that you and your SkyDragon buddies are in cahoots over making a mockery out of essential physics.
What’s more, the same equation that you keep positing over and over, that of defining the imbalance of incoming and outgoing power, says that the difference must go into a latent store. That latent store is predominately the ocean. There is your 1st law of thermo that you keep bringing up.
Yet you are so belligerent and manipulative that you can’t admit to the ocean being a heat sink. The ocean is in fact a heat sink and your equation points out what is happening. That is how I started this thread long ago, by analogizing the ocean to a CPU’s heat sink. I also corrected the fact that other commenters had the net energy flow going the wrong way. I actually enjoy trying to come up with simplifying reductions to real physics and hope that this can help to get the point across.
But you and your SkyDragon agenda refuses to believe in the direction of the net energy flow, even though the one equation that you show supports that idea. Not surprising, in the fact that a civ can handle only one equation at best. And in your case, you make a mess out of the one equation. No wonder it gets your goat.
SW down approximately equals convection plus latent plus net up.
161 = 17 + 80 + 63 (Trenberth et al 2009)
The fact that you are an obsessively misguided moron makes no difference to how the numbers add up.
SW down approximately equals convection plus latent plus net IR up
161 = 17 + 80 + 63 (Trenberth et al 2009)
Just because you are an obsessive moron doesn’tmean that the numbers add up differently.
Huh. Uhm, so the Earth’s mantle isn’t the prime resevoir of energy and angular momentum with the greatest thermal inertia.
Why do you cease consideration of insulative warming, heat transport and conduction at the upper boundary of the aqueosphere? Even though humans don’t live at the bottom of the ocean or inside the planet’s core. it doesn’t imply that such unfamiliar environments should be tacitly ignored.
Nope, the Earth’s interior only releases about 0.1 wm2 over the whole surface. Hardly useful in affecting surface climate, except of course during volcanic events, and then we get cooling from the aerosols blocking the SW.
Yeah, Raving, 0.1Wm-2 is small. Heck, With the surface area of the Earth only 510 million kilometers squared and only a million meters in a kilometer, there is only 510 million million meters squared worth of 0.1 Watts per meter. That is only 51 million million Watts per meter per second. It is just like the solar thing. solar only changes by 1 Watt meter squared, the surface only receives 0.7 Watts m-2 of that and that has to be divided by 4 for the average at the troposphere and the surface only gets about two thirds of that or nearly 0.1Watt m-2. Those are so small it would take ages to have any impact.
Think about it, 0.1W is only 0.1 Joule per sec. There is less than 32 million seconds in a year so that would only be 1632 million million million joules per year, that is only 1632 with 18 zeros behind it.
That is why Jim2 and I agree it is probably something significant like Disco and polyester.
Maybe greater and lesser epicycles, and turtles all the way down.
No, it is thermal inertia all the way down. This means the theory is safe no matter what happens. In fact we can calculate the thermal inertia by starting with what we are trying to prove. Handy that.
And right down to the Earth’s core too!
Hey Web… what you think? Another candidate for your Klimate Klown Kar?
I really don’t think so. If a forcing function is placed on a system beyond what has been measured or inferred from past data, one can’t immediately bound the _intermediate_ responses. Many peculiar phase changes occur at specific temperatures. Take a guess at what temperature popcorn starts popping.
Well, the phase change of water to steam (vapor phase) has already occurred inside a popcorn kernel at a temperature lower than the one it takes to build up enough pressure to actually pop the kernel open, so to answer your question, around 350 F. But how that fits in with the phase changes you suggest is not equal. At least not that I can tell wrt to the definition of phase changes of materials I am familiar with. Suggesting our climate would (will) be noticeably or even measureably different at discrete amounts of CO2 as if it were phase changes is a stretch. Temperature change during the transient climate response to CO2 increase is hardly like a phase change of something like water which happens at very specific conditions of temperature and pressure. To suggest our climate will pass through a series of different types and levels of climate extremes/regimes that are measurable is.. well… a bit looney.
“To suggest our climate will pass through a series of different types and levels of climate extremes/regimes that are measurable…”
I should be more specific, within the next century or two…. where CO2 concentration is likely to double.
Thinking about the possibility of different climate regimes for different levels of CO2 seems to baffle some people. The world is much different at 180 ppm of CO2 than 280 ppm. There is no reason why 350 ppm would not be different than 450 ppm or 550 ppm in their equilibrium response. 100 ppm of CO2 could make a big difference in the crysopshere and biosphere responses, which are a big part of the equilibrium response. As it looks, we’ll never know as we’ve already blown throw whatever equilibrium response would have eventually occurred at 350, as we head toward 450 ppm, and perhaps even 550 ppm by the end of this century.
R. Gates, what baffles me is how you can have such faith in the CO2 hypothesis. Do you also believe that CO2 precedes warming, like in this paper?
How much of the ~315 – 390 CO2 ppm growth since ~1960 is caused by climatic warming factors, in your opinion?
“Thinking about the possibility of different climate regimes for different levels of CO2 seems to baffle some people.”
I don’t think it baffles anyone. It comes down to how sensitive you believe the climate to be in response to increases in CO2. Despite the sensitivity (whatever it really is), the real world dictates we are never in equilibrium. We can not standardize the climate at different CO2 concentrations and I recognize you understand this.
(Sorry… had technical problems and hit the post comment button before I was finished with my comment.)
Having said that, the apparent difference between weather extremes as an indicator of any changed climate regime is very small if negligable between 280 and 390 ppm. The signal appears to be quite small wrt to the noise of natural variation. Your making a wild guess/supposition with regard to something that is not measurable vs current natural variation data at hand. What models have predicted wrt to extreme weather has not come to pass and in that respect Hansen and Trenberth have not been on target.
I guess I find it silly to make suppositions like this when there is absolutely no way of verifying or refuting such claims. So I beleive we will continue to hear comments made after each extreme weather event along the lines of ‘this is exactly what is predicted in a changed climate world of elevated CO2’ and they will, for me, continue to be unfounded comments until a real signal can be detected over the noise of current natural variation.
I fear that you are often more interested in theoretical climate models than accounts of extreme weather events from the past and evidence of previous climate shifts.
Britain is fortunate in having an especially rich chronology of extreme events, nowhere better drawn together than by Hubert Lamb in his book ‘Hitoric storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe.’ ‘Freak weather’ by Graham Mc Ewan also does a fine job of drawing historic events together and that these were often strange and calamitous can be seen in this title page of a book cover printed in 1682 for a special booklet circulating in Oxford;
“A strange relation of the sudden and violent tempest which happened at Oxford May 31 1682 together with an enquiry into the probable cause and usual consequences of such like tempests and storms.”
So even back then we were searching for reasons for things that were out of the ordinary, but by no means unique.
If you recall I made this comment in my article ‘The long slow thaw’ after reading many thousands of contemporary accounts of the weather from around 1400 to 1720;
“The overwhelming impression I formed from reading the accounts of the vagaries of the climate of yesteryear was that they sounded exactly like today, with perhaps greater variability, extreme events and colder bits thrown in, although after the last few bitter winters the striking similarities with the past have become even closer. It is difficult to determine any evidence of notable climate change in recent years leading to a dramatic change in our climate or a surge in temperatures. What we can observe is a transition from the anomalously intermittently cold periods of the LIA together with lots of examples of climate variability.
Most notably the modern observer might feel that our current era seems to have lost the extreme winters of yesteryear- which in turn have had a considerable impact on the overall mean average temperature in the last few decades. However, once again history can show us that this apparent dearth of cold winters has had numerous precedents in our past.
Reginald Jeffery observed in his book ‘Was it Wet or was it fine,’ “By 1708 the middle aged would say where are our old winters?”
My favourite individual account was one describing how six large oaks were wrenched by the wind from the hill, complete with roots and half the hill and was deposited hundreds of yards away. Britain has many villages that were snuffed out almost overnight when they were overcome by waves or sudden sandstorms.
Evidence of climate shifts in the wider world is given in my article immediately after the quote above from Section 7. A shorter version was carried here
Climatereason – If this were true, the climate models would have accurately back-casted the loss of the trees and that hill. Now let go of this silly notion that history has anything of value to add to the climate debate.
I am by no means “not interested” in accounts of past weather extremes,
as I am, as stated before, very much a student of history. But the
occurrance of past events, and the occurrance of new events under our current climate regime don’t have to have the same causes just because they are similar. I do in fact put a fair amount of credibility in the Coumou and Rahmstorf analysis, and at least think it is on the right track. It ties back directly to what Trenberth and Hansen have been saying related to looking at the character, frequency, intensity of events in total, rather than trying to make specific attribution of any single event.
Overall Tony, I enjoy reading what you and others write about past climate and history with much interest, but I don’t make the logical mistake of believing that similar effects must have the same causes. When my curtains move in the middle of the night, it could be because I left my window open and there is a breeze coming in, or it could be my cat moving along behind the curtain and wall :)
R Gates 3.11
Provide proof that you have a cat AND that you have curtains :)
I have no proof that I have either, but model simulations tell me it is more likely that I do than I do not. :)
“It ties back directly to what Trenberth and Hansen have been saying”
i.e. complete bollocks. Or will you explain the fluxes in Trenberth energy diagram and Hansen’s lack of water-wings when he goes for a coffee in NYC?
The causes are irrelevant as long as the intensities are similar. I often hark back to this ENSO proxy showing red sediment shift in a South American lake. We know there are floods and droughts far more serious than seen in the last century. Long periods of intense cyclones and floods in my own neighborhood, the drought starting some 3,500 years ago that brought down the Minoan civilisation, the drying of the Sahel starting round 5,000 years ago. Now we have we have another influence that is not noticeable against background variability. You have no clue about the nature and extent of natural variability and pretend that you can pick changes with any confidence at all.
This little exchange ranks as the best so far – due to the existence (or not) of a certain cat and set of curtains.
PS – have you considered the moving curtains (if they exist) could be due to the furnace fan coming on and the vent being below the (assumed) curtains?
It’s no good citing facts. Facts are for wimps. If it’s not in a computer model, it’s not science. :-)
“$300 gets you a hockey stick signed by Mike Mann.”
Sounds wasteful. Some good hockey sticks are over $300 without a signature. If there is one thing I could potentially agree with alarmists about is not to be wasteful, but they are always just as wasteful as everyone else.
Wonder how much for Scott’s underwear.
As least we shouldn’t have to be concerned with skid marks, as he wears his on the outside.
Thanks for noting the “Nine Low-Tech Steps….” I had missed that post. On the other hand I did read another post over at Climate Progress http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/04/11/462218/study-no-relationship-between-renewable-energy-targets-and-higher-electric-rates/
In my state, CA, we have lots of electrical energy service providers. Some of those providers were required to meet the 20%RES (recently increased to 33%) and other providers we not required to do so. For example PG&E, SCE and San Diego, the big three IOU’s service providers, behaviors were modified to meet the mandates. On the other hand Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) was not required to change their behavior. I think an evaluation of the effects of a RE mandate should look into the details not grand averages.
The California Public Utilities Commission recently released a report to the legislature on our RE efforts- http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/NR/rdonlyres/3B3FE98B-D833-428A-B606-47C9B64B7A89/0/Q4RPSReporttotheLegislatureFINAL3.pdf
Lets see what they said (in part)
…….”Figure 6 below shows the weighted average TOD-adjusted cost of contracts approved by the CPUC in that year. From 2003 to 2011, contract costs have increased from 5.4 cents to 13.3 cents per kWh. One important reason for this this increase is that the IOUs contracted with existing renewable facilities at the beginning of the RPS program and with mostly new facilities in later years. In order to meet the ambitious 20% and 33% RPS targets, the IOUs have to contract with new facilities, which require higher contract costs to recover the capital needed to develop a new facility…..”
TOD = Time of Delivery and is explained in Footnote 8 of the report- “Actual renewable energy payments are adjusted by each IOU’s individual TOD factors and the time that a project generates electricity. For example, since solar PV generates electricity on peak, its electricity is more valuable and the solar PV generator receives a higher payment based on the TOD adjustment.”
If we were really interested in answering the does a RE mandate effect the price someone pays for a kwh question we could look at some details from the three ISO’s. It just so happens that PG&E- just published some data for us in their ‘Rate Design Window 2012 Application” and it’s referenced here http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/published/proceedings/A1202020.htm Low and behold they have some data for us- Page 2-7 Table 2-4 PG&E cumulative Impacts of the 33% RPS on NON-CARE residential rates-
RPS Premium (1000s) = $1,159,000.
Residential Share (1000s)= 486,000
Cumulative Class Average Rate Increase= $.0.015
Cumulative Tier 3/4 Rate Increase= $0.048”
Much of the application covers who should pay for the increased costs. To get a feel for the costs this is stated- “Line 10 (page 1-14) “Absent any change in the residential rate design methodology, the differential between Tier 2 and Tier 4 rates, which was 18.9 centers per kWh in Jan 2012 (33.5 vs 14.6 cents per kWh), is forecasted to increase by 65 percent to 31.1 cents in 2022 (50.5 vs 19.4 kWh). The gap is already far in excess of what is equitable on a cost of service basis, and the failure to address this problem will rapidity worsen the situation.”
Next on might ask how what LADWP rates looked like from 2003 till now- to match the dates noted by the CPUC above. I haven’t checked the historical data yet, but I have a fairly good idea what it looks like as their prices are much lower then any of the ISO’s today. LADWP and all public electrical utilities in the state are going to be required (mandated) under our new 33%RES to change their behavior. So if one is interested in cause (RE mandates) and their effects (generation costs and later retail prices) in the electrical market keeping an eye on the costs and prices at LADWP seems appropriate. The data from the CPUC and PG&E all ready tell us their is a positive correlation!
And yes, I am in favor of RE when and where it’s appropriate.
Why is it that some providers were required to use RE and others were not?
Good question that I do not have an answer for as I am not all that familiar with the workings of who is regulated by our statewide Public Utilities Commission (who gets to make sense of the legislation that is passed by our legislators).
From a practical matter I think it has something to do with the public utilities already having oversight of their activities by their customers (public) via their boards that were elected officers. For example the statewide PUC does not get involved in how my local water district allocates costs for their services. On the other hand they do have responsibilities for what, and how, the three big private electrical service provide their services. As and FYI, the three big ISO’s were required-about 12 years ago- by the state to divest themselves of certain assets as part of our deregulation efforts in the electrical market. That didn’t work out to well for the customers of the ISO’s as Enron figured out how to manipulate the market. We are still paying for that debacle by the way.
“Why is it that some providers were required to use RE and others were not?”
The “Deregulation” in California back around 2000 was aimed at hobbling the Investor Owned Utilities (IOU). They were considered to be an unfair competition for the public utilities because they could produce and sell power cheaper than such as LAWP and SMUD. Only the IOUs are subject to these rules.
As an example of the force applied to the IOUs, PG&E was forced to sell all its cheap power generating hydro plants (dozens of them) and several gas fired plants. Similar restrictions were placed on Southern Calif Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.
The renewable power requirements are placed on the IOUs but not on the public utilities. That is California’s way when dealing with private corporations.
I believe it varies by state, but public utility districts, municipally owned utilities and co-ops are generally viewed as cost recovery rather than for profit and as such not subject to the same regulation as private, investor owned utilities.
Further citing FoxNews, Menzie Chinn highlighted
Roy Spencer counters:
New Evidence Our Record Warm March was Not from Global Warming
April 13th, 2012
(By eye, it looks like the March 2012 value of 2.5 knots was about five times the ~0.5 standard deviation!)
For those who DO believe in Classical statistics, See the 2012 IPCC Special Report on Extremes and disasters
The great question now is what caused this massively higher southern flow in the US (and northern flow somewhere else).
There does not appear to have an unusual variation in the Artic Oscillation etc.
Could this March 2012 event have been the atmospheric equivalent of a rogue wave? See: Monsters of the deep
Huge, freak waves may not be as rare as once thought The Economist Sep 17th 2009
See WUWT Atmospheric Oscillations
e.g. Artic Oscillation
Appropriate in what sense? It’s virtually useless relative to any meaningful impact on global CO2 and the cost is “off-scale-high” relative to conventional sources, particularly natural gas power plants.
The data has taken another lurching advance this week, if any of it is believable.
Estimates of ice loss by Himalayan glaciers pre-2012: 50 billion tonnes p.a.
Estimates of ice loss by Himalayan glaciers Feb 2012: 4 billion tonnes p.a. (US team, published in Nature).
Today: “A French team, comparing 3-D satellite maps from 2000 and 2008, said the glaciers had not lost mass over this period and may even have grown a tiny bit, at 0.11 millimetres (0.04 of an inch) per year.”
My projection for the year 2035 (I picked this year at random) is that the glaciers will be so massive they will grind the entire Himalayan mountain range into gravel.
Sadly, the scientists involved don’t want to upset anybody: ‘Julie Gardelle of the University of Grenoble in southeastern France told AFP “But it does not detract in any way from the evidence for overall global warming,” ‘.
They always say that! They always, always say that! It reminds me of a wonderful line given to John Adams in the musical 1776, addressed to more genteel members of the Continental Congress: “Good grief, this is a revolution dammit! We’re going to have to upset somebody!”
cui bono – you appear to be distoring the scientists findings. Their paper clearly refers to a specific region only and not all glaciers as you have not made clear in your selective quoting.
From the abstract “The fate of glaciers in the greater Himalaya is widely discussed, but poorly known. A new measurement in the central Karakoram mountain range suggests that glacier mass change in this region contributes to sea-level rise nearly 0.05 mm per year less than has been thought.”
The rest is behind a firewall but the authors own words in an interview by the BBC state “Right now we believe that it could be due to a very specific regional climate over Karakoram because there have been meteorological measurements showing increased winter precipitation; but that’s just a guess at this stage.”
Or this “Apparently, the situation in the Karakoram is a little different (from elsewhere), which means that the glaciers are stable for the time being,” Julie Gardelle of the University of Grenoble in southeastern France said.
Typical ‘skeptical’ approach?
Hello again Louise –
Ah, Richard Black again, spinning faster than a neutron star on steroids.
Haven’t we been here before?
“The Karakoram range covers 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq. miles).”
“Its glaciers account for nearly three percent of the world’s area of ice outside the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.”
So nothing major then.
And the figures for 50 billion vs. 4 billion is for all the Himalayan glaciers, which “supply water to a billion people”.
And, from your interpretation “global warming” seems to leave significant bits of the globe untouched (see also under Antarctica).
I don’t believe much of the stuff that passes for data nowadays. Just pointing out that perhaps the situation in the Himalayas is rather different from that assumed in AR4, and not just because someone nicked a date from the WWF which was a few centuries out.
Besides, everyone knows that Mt. Everest is only 72 feet tall (GISS adjusted height).
Dr Curry – what is your opinion of scientists who inflate their scientific comclusions in the press releases when these are not supported by their published papers?
Here is a different take on Spencer’s study. Seems the warmists can’t coordinate their stories very well.
“Recent studies by Scripps scientists have found that over the last 50 years the southern Sierra snowpack has gotten larger while the northern Sierra pack has shrunk. Although they have predicted the overall state snowpack would decrease over time as a result of climate change, nobody has claimed that it has happened yet, Dettinger said.”
“Mike Dettinger, a climatologist and research hydrologist at the Scripps Institute”
Does he also moonlight as a writer at The Onion?
And let’s see … is it true that climate scientists have NOT claimed the snow pack there is lessening? Here is an organization with a climate scientist on its board … what does their web site say?:
“The ecosystem’s high-mountain snow pack melt regulates the region’s water cycle. But higher temperatures are reducing snowpack and shifting snowmelt earlier, putting species at risk in this global biodiversity hotspot.”
They should check out the snow pack in the North Cascades.
After just a little research on the web, what I find is climate scientists trying to spin Christy’s results to make him look like a liar. They should be ashamed of themselves. Everyone here obviously has access to the Internet – they can do their own research and reach their own conclusions.
You’re referring to “bounded rationality”.
For some, it’s what they use to keep from making irrational statements; for others, it’s what they use to keep from acknowledging rational ones they do not want to face.
It is shocking Louise, just shocking!
to be fair, press releases are not usually written by the scientists and very likely the scientists don’t even see the release before it goes to the public. While in grad school I interned in the Public Affairs office. They were responsible both for PR and Government Relations. I don’t recall press releases being run by anyone outside of the department.
Hi tim56 – this was not a case of press releases but of direct quotes from the author of the paper given in interviews over-hyping the science that wasn’t actually supported in the paper.
Sorry. I missed that.
So, Louise, what is your opinion of the study now?
I’d pay $300 if I could give Mike the Gordie Howe treatment with the signed hockey stick.
For $300, you should at least get an effigy of Mike to beat around the head.
R. Gates = commenting frequency in the “Joshua” range. ;)
I have a sense that the catastrophe folks are in a rush to get their message out before AR5. They have accepted all manner of promotion of their position and squelched any contrary notions. Its kind of a flood of consensus utterances and the target date is last date for input to AR5.
I noticed the same thing with BEST. Congressional testimony in June, more data means more right the data done the manipulated way, even before a glimpse of the data, all rushed out and promoted before Durban. Critique was lacking until after Durban and even full critique is languishing, waiting patiently for all the BEST.
As input date to AR5 approaches, expect more science by press release, Nature’s editors “hiding the decline”, junk science and unqualified analysis.
Only after AR5 is sent off to the printers, final galley, will we hear…” now what was it you were saying a while ago?… you have my full attention.”
Is this Madison Avenue Public Relations or what? Agenda over all else! (last phrase in German of course)
The paper by Coumou and Rahmstorf is just awful. A cherry-picked list of events over the last decade, combined with unprecedented over-use of the word ‘unprecedented’. Virtually no scientific content.
Hansen’s paper has little to do with extreme weather. His analysis covers seasonal weather (three-month periods) and most of the publicized extreme weather events (except perhaps for droughts) in recent decades covered shorter time periods. Many extreme events seem to be associated with lows or highs that remain in one place for an usually long period, producing “normal deviation” in temperature or rainfall that last for an unusually long period of time. Has anyone connected such phenomena to GHG’s?
What defines ‘extreme’ weather? If the Moscow Heatwave (blocking high) or the Pakistani floods (lots of rain) can be assigned a probability of being due to global warming, why not the little late afternoon shower we had here this afternoon, followed by a brief pleasant sunny spell?
The absurdities multiply…
$25 gets you one of our t-shirts. They will be delivered a couple weeks after the fundraiser is over. We will check in with you about which design you want and what size.
$50 gets two of the t-shirts.
$75 gets all three of the t-shirts and our true gratitude.
What a hoot! It seems that they assume that their readers can’t multiply by 2 or 3. Plus, you only get their ‘true gratitude’ if you buy 3 – otherwise, apparently, you are an ungrateful skinflint. I love also that the notion of quantity discounts to stimulate sales has apparently passed them by. Way to woo customers, not.
And these people want to restructure the world economy. They couldn’t sell a beer in a brewery.
You’ll get a better range of offers by subscribing to Wasteland 2 on Kickstarter – be quick, only a day left.
Picture this: (Scenario 1: about 1600 AD.)
In La Mancha lived an pld fashioned gentleman who passed much of his time reading books of knight errantry, so that, after a while, he began to lose the use of his reason. He then thought it necessary to turn knight errant and roam the country side redressing all manner of grievances ..
On his adventures the knight discovered some 30 or 40 windmills which he believed to be terrible giants with immense extended arms. The knight resolved to deprive these monsters of ther lives and take their wealth as lawful prize. (The outcome, dear reader, you know…)
We travel 400 years into the future: (Scenario 2.)
In an affluent western nation lived a progressive gentleman who passed much of his time reading a science journal called ‘Nature’ and other literature relating to tree rings and hockey sticks, so that after a time he began to lose the use of his reason. He then thought it necessary to become a green knight errant and roam the country side redressing all kinds of grievances…
On his adventures the knight discovered many large oil rigs and other large energy producers which he observed to be terrible giants breathing flames, and he resolved to deprive these monsters of their lives and take their wealth as lawful prize.
(The outcome, dear reader, is still in the pipe line…)
Ah! Mann of La Manncha
Goddam edit on 1st line …’old’ fashioned.
The alarmist attack dog has rabies.
Climate models are incorrect.
Models Vs Observation => http://bit.ly/HnYPQf
It seems as if the melt season in the Arctic is getting off to a rather slow start. It is such early days yet, so I am sure it would be foolish to put any trust in these first few weeks. But maybe, just maybe, when we come to September 2012, the prediction of an ice free summer in the Arctic in the near future, as made by the proponents of CAGW, is not going to look too promising. I can always hope.
Tony, now there’s a title for a comedy skit : ‘Mann of La Mancha.’
Comedy? More a tragedy of errors :)
“Over the last half-century, leftist intellectuals have identified two great scapegoats for the world’s woes. First, Marxism designated capitalism as responsible for human misery. Second, “Third World” ideology, disappointed by the bourgeois indulgences of the working class, targeted the West, supposedly the inventor of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism. The guilty party that environmentalism now accuses—mankind itself, in its will to dominate the planet—is essentially a composite of the previous two, a capitalism invented by a West that oppresses peoples and destroys the earth. Indeed, environmentalism sees itself as the fulfillment of all earlier critiques. “There are only two solutions,” Bolivian president Evo Morales declared in 2009. “Either capitalism dies, or Mother Earth dies.”
So the planet has become the new proletariat that must be saved from exploitation”
I just saw an interview last week of two authors whose recent book states that the West and colonialism are at fault for the aids epidemic in Africa.
Their reasoning? That before European nations came to the continent and operated river steamers and built roads and railroads, the natives who were having intercourse with monkeys were unlikely to travel far from their v from their locale. The advent of western civilization – by means of colonialism – allowed the spread of the disease.
The Greeks got it … the Janus mask of.comedy and tragedy :-) :-(
Hubris first, then Nemesis.
It is not at all clear to me that more extreme weather is necessarily bad.
It could be that the more we are exposed to it, the better we become at dealing with it, and in the end, the overall rate of mortality declines. The data show this clearly for heat waves, but perhaps the phenomenon could apply more broadly.
It’s all bad, all the time. Otherwise how are we going to atract viewers (or generate grant money)?
Climate models are the last refuge of climate scoundrels. Meanwhile, back on planet earth…that is the real planet earth with real temperatures and actual weather…we have confirmation of what all but the most deluded already knew…that the March heat wave was, just like it’s cousin the Russian heat wave of 2010…nothing but natural variability.
Loaded dice? NO question about it. And we all know who’s loading them.
Capt dallas @ 15/4 7.45pm:
Yeah…Disco music, tsk!
The JacKsons :-( Monotonous beat music for people who can’t hear … good.
When you think of all that innovative, quirky, nuanced terrific music of the 1970’s and 80’s. Pink Floyd, XTC, Kraftwerk, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Human League ..HL still playing.
Still, guess disco’s better than line dancing though. Green knights probably like it, suits their collectivist psychology and doesn’t use up too much energy.
This may be an example of developments that pessimistic people, as some here tend to be, wouldn’t anticipate.
“Coskata, together with its strategic collaborator Total Petrochemicals, is also developing “microorganism-based technology” to produce propanol, a three-carbon building block for making propylene, from the same feedstocks the company would use to produce cellulosic ethanol. Over time, according to Coskata, it expects to eventually expand its platform to produce valuable four, five and six carbon chain chemicals, adding that it has already demonstrated at lab-scale the production of propanol, butanol, butanediol, hexanol, organic acids and certain fatty acids.
As a result of its low-cost syngas fermentation process, Coskata sees market growth for its biochemicals, stating, “We are able to immediately address the 23 billion gallon global fuel-grade ethanol market,” the company stated in its S-1 filing. “Our cellulosic ethanol will also address the 1.7 billion gallon global industrial ethanol market and can be converted into ethylene, a $140 billion market. In the future, our propanol production technology, combined with alcohol dehydration technology to produce propylene from propanol, under development by Total Petrochemicals together with IFP Energies Nouvelles & Axens, is expected to target the $100 billion global propylene market.””
RE Scott Mandia,
I wonder whether he simply has a taste for the spotlight (i.e. attention) or is possessed of a loose screw or two.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful and if making a wager would bet on him being a nice person. He just does some weird stuff. (He’d probably feel right at home here in Portland.)
Severin Borenstein had a paper published last week entitled “Effective and Equitable Adoption of Opt-In Residential Dynamic Electricity Pricing”
I hadn’t seen this before-
” Before proceeding, however, it is worthwhile to state explicitly four fundamental goals of residential tariff design:8
I. Revenue Adequacy: In aggregate, revenues raised from residential tariffs should cover the cost of providing power to the residential sector.9
II. Efficient Pricing: Prices should reflect the marginal cost of providing power at the time and location it is provided so that the customer has efficient incentives to consume.
III. Minimizing Volatility: Customers should be able to insure in some way against excessive volatility in their electricity bills.
IV. No Undue Cross-Subsidization: Persistent cross subsidies among customers should be avoided except to the extent that they are designed explicitly to help customers who are deemed needy or disadvantaged.”
I assume the CPUC will have time to digest this new paper before deciding how we are going to pay for our RE projects.
I don’t know enough about Chaos Theory to determine absolutely, but it sounds like a rather specious connection. I suspect that the only thing it might predict is that extremes are possible, but nothing about the nature, extent or frequency.
You say that CO2 is very likely the largest perturbation of climate, but isn’t that still at question? It only is so if the feedbacks being attributed to it are accurate. If the assumptions being used are not, then the degree of perturbation drops.
But all of this is besides the po my point. There currently seems to be a lot of effort to identify weather events with global warming. However the effort appears to mostly puof the public releations sort and not scientific research. There are no identified links and studies of frequency and intensity of various “extreme” weather events over time periods hasn’t identified any increases. About the only thing going up is the amount of reporting we see about them.
So, rather than spend tax dollars trying to identify links, why don’t we instead focus on improving regional forecasting and modelling? As I understand it, that is not the same as modelling global climate and trying to make predictions (or projections) decades into the future. If unlimited resources were available – sure, lets do both. But resources are rarely unlimitied and I know I’d rather have the focus of my tax dollars on something that is demonstratably useful. Having a projection of “global” climatic conditions 50 years in the future is hardly useful.
You can’t control tax dollars of other sovereign nations. Get use to it.
Once again your comment makes no sense.
Timg56 was advocating that the US discontinue investing in the development of GCMs that are not yielding anything of value for US taxpayers, and move to develop regional weather and climate models that would provide value.
Seems like a good idea actually.
timg56 | April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
I suspect that the only thing it might predict is that extremes are possible, but nothing about the nature, extent or frequency.
More a connection that is difficult to interpret than specious. The principle predicts that ‘extremes’ are inevitable, but tells nothing about their nature, extent or frequency. Which, of course, is one of the points of Chaos.
A huge meteor the size of Rhode Island could crash into the Earth, dig out a crater half the size of the Moon, and so far as Chaos Theory can tell might have no more impact on the climate than the proverbial butterfly fluttering its wings. (Though the butterfly would need to be very, very well-positioned and well-timed.)
The CO2 perturbation question is still a question, in that Chaos Theory can’t directly answer it, and Physics, Biology and Chemistry can only in terms of how well they deal with complexity — which is limiting. And no, feedback arguments have little power to dislodge CO2 as an external forcing, per se. There may be remote teleconnections or their feedbacks we’re unaware of or underappreciate.
As for your tax dollars, are you really sincerely proposing that I vouch for your superior ability to make spending decisions for government, given that I’d prefer if government were involved in far fewer spending decisions overall?
I think you are peddling misapprehensions of various sorts. Extremes tend to happen at times of chaotic bifurcation (moisy bifurcation or dragon-kings). So much so that it is a diagnostic of sorts – although a little late when the thermohaline circulation stops as a result of warming and an ice free Arctic and you find yourself under 200m of ice in Minnesota within a decade. The extremes then damp out over a long time to more stable glacial environments (slowing down or an increase in autocorrelation).
Here is a simple mechanical analogy from the NAS.
There are 2 stable states and 3 possible outcomes. Not enough energy and the ball will be displaced but not cross onto the other side. It will rattle about and settle into an equilibrium. Enough energy and the ball will be displaced onto the other side. It will likewise rattle about and then setlle into a groove. The third possibility is the most exiting of all when tremendous energy dislodges the ball from the track, it rolls off the table and under the sofa to plot the overthrow of the known universe.
Don’t thank me I am here to help.
Robert I Ellison
Beyond Boom and Bust
Brookings and Breakthrough Institute on the failures of green energy to become self sufficient.
“Despite this recent success, however, nearly all clean tech segments in the United States remain reliant on production and deployment subsidies or other supportive policies to gain an expanding foothold in today’s energy markets.”
My executive summary of their executive summary – Green energy in unsustainable as anything other than a government boondoggle, but we should subsidize it anyway.
Here ya go Web,
That is Mauna Loa forcing 5.35*ln( monthly/280) versus UAH global land only in red. The blue is the CO2 forcing estimate. Nearly a perfect match with the regressions 0.0082 versus 0.0080. Not a validation of either, but rather strong coincidence.
That is GISS 45N to 45 South versus UAH tropics. No clue why there is no standardization in regions, that’s kinda dumb, but that is what I got to work with without redesigning the system. Note that GISS makes a huge jump around 1988 to 1989. That is a change in instrumentation. When the new MMTS (ASOS?) were introduced, there was no overlapping measurement period to verify the new digital equipment. That is not all that smart either, I am not in charge though. The Antarctic surface stations read high mainly because they are operating at the extreme low end of their ranges and unattended. drifting snow tends to make things difficult. That was indicated in O’Donnell et al. 2010 and not yet corrected. So it appears the surface station data for the southern hemisphere is crapola.
You can cipher your butt off until the cows come home, but if you are comparing your ciphering to crapola, the results are still crapola.
So when I say there is no reason to spend time cross correlating your crapola, that is why. You need to validate the data before leaping to conclusions.
P.S. The louvered housing for the MMTS has a much smaller volume than the original Cotton Regional Shelters and are base mounted as in a on a pole.
A typical pole would be galvanized steel, which just happens to be a pretty good conductor. With that pole occupying a large percentage of the mounting base, it can tend to produce elevated readings.
That is the new Climate Reference Network in the US. Note there are redundant sensors top mounted with over sized shields to reduce base conduction error :)
This is in my area. Glasshouses and stones. It is not only Climate Scientists who need to tighten their quality control, all of us do.
Poor lab technique slows cancer therapy.
We need to fingerprint each cancer cell line with a full DNA sequence… — Steve Coles
“Lab Mistakes Hobble Cancer Studies But Scientists Slow to Take Remedies”
by AMY DOCKSER MARCUS
Thursday. April 20, 2012; 10:25 PM EDT (WSJ) — Last year, cancer researcher Robert Mandic got news no scientist wants to hear. After publishing a paper on a rare head-and-neck cancer, he learned the cells he had been studying were instead cervical cancer. He notified the journal Oral Oncology, which retracted the article. To base something on wrong data is bad, so it needst o be reported and I did,” said Dr. Mandic, a researcher at the University Hospital Giessen and Marburg in GERMANY. “But it wasn’t pleasant to call.”
Dr. Mandic entered a largely secret fellowship of scientists whose work has been undermined by the contamination and misidentification of cancer cell lines used in research labs around the world.
Cancer experts seeking to solve the problem have found that a fifth to a third or more of cancer cell lines tested were mistakenly identifiedwith researchers unwittingly studying the wrong cancers, slowing progress toward new treatments and wasting precious time and money.
In hundreds of documented cases that undermine a broad swath of research, cancer samples that were supposed to be one type of tumor have turned out to be another, through either careless laboratory handling, mislabeling or other mistakes.
It is a problem hiding in plain sight. Warnings to properly test cancer cell lines have sounded since the 1960s, a decade after scientists started making human cancer cell lines.
But researchers who yelled loudest were mostly ignored by colleagues fearful such a mistake in their own labs would discredit years of work.
Leaders in the field say one of the biggest obstacles to finding a cancer cure may not be the many defenses nature affords malignancies, but the reluctance of scientists to
address the problem.
“Screaming and shouting, it doesn’t do any good. No one takes any notice for reasons I don’t understand,” said John Masters, a Professor of Experimental Pathology at University College London, UCL. “The whole ethos of science is to strive for the truth and produce a balanced argument about the evidence. Yet, all this crap is being produced.”
Dr. Masters said cell banks report that 20 percent of cell lines sent for inclusion in their repositories for use by researchers are improperly identified. He was co-chair of an international committee of scientists that released voluntary guidelines this year to begin solving the problem. They call for, among other measures, routine profiling of cell
lines using a DNA technique employed in forensics called “short tandem repeats,” or STR.
Much of cancer research seeks answers to questions of basic biology, so the proper identification of cell lines may be less important, said Dr. Masters. But when seeking cancer treatment for a specific tumor, he said, such mistakes “are an utter waste of public money,charity money and time.”Worse, he added, “It may be causing drugs to be used which are inappropriate for that particular type of cancer.” Cancer research relies on cell lines that originate in patient tumors. The cells are usually grown in plastic containers and, with the proper nutrients, can live indefinitely in a laboratory. Scientists store them in freezers for years. The cells mimic particular kinds of tumors, giving researchers a way to understand what drives a disease or to test promising drug treatments. It may take a year or more to find the right combination of nutrients to keep cancer cells growing. Once a line is established, scientists often share them with colleagues, who then grow them in their own labs. The problem is that many scientists don’t test the cells when shipping or receiving a batch. The most famous and ubiquitous human cancer cell line was the firstan aggressive, fast-growing cervical cancer taken from Henrietta Lacks of Maryland before her death in 1951. It has been shared with scientists world-wide in the decades since, playing a broad role in medical research spanning polio to hemophilia.
The so-called HeLa cells, named for Ms. Lacks, also have taken over other cancer cell lines, many times unknown to researchers.
These mix-ups are maddeningly difficult to pinpoint: an improperly sterilized pipette, a lab worker momentarily distracted, a misread label or a typo on a record sheet.
Cell repositories in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Japan have estimated that 18-36 percent of cancer cell lines are incorrectly identified. Researchers at Glasgow University and CellBank Australia found more than 360 such mistaken cell lines, including 100 that turned out to be the late Ms. Lack’s cervical cancer cells. “All of this sharing of cell lines, it’s a bit like having unprotected sex,” said David Tarin, a Pathologist at the University
of California, San Diego. Dr. Tarin himself is at the center of a lingering debate over the true identity of a famous breast cancer cell line known as MDA-MB-435. Dr. Tarin has spent 25 years working with that cell line – or so he thinks. A body of research suggests that MDA-MB-435 isn’t breast cancer; many scientists now believe the cells growing in labs and used in decades of research are Melanoma.
The line originated at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, using cells from a 31-year-old woman who died in 1976, less than a year after she was diagnosed. The cell line was among the most widely used in metastatic breast cancer research.
In 2000, scientists at Stanford University, working in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, started testing the 60 cell lines in the institute’s permanent collection.
Michael Eisen, then part of the Stanford team, said they found something surprising about the breast cancer cell line: genes that mimicked melanoma. “It stuck out as problematic,” said Dr. Eisen. At the time, the scientists didn’t suspect contamination. They thought the breast cancer patient also might have had undiagnosed melanoma.
Other scientists, following up on the observations at Stanford, demonstrated that MDA-MB-435 behaved like melanoma because it likely was melanomain particular, a skin-cancer cell line called M14. As word spread, Michael D. Johnson of Georgetown University Medical Center and a team of colleagues tested stocks of MDA-MB-435 from their lab and others around world. He said the group assumed their laboratory cell lines were the “real ones,” and that other scientists’ lines had been corrupted. Instead, the group found every one of the cell lines tested was melanoma, not breast cancer. Decades of research had been built on insights from research using that cell line. Now, said Dr. Johnson, “I’m not going to use them to study breast cancer. I don’t believe they are breast
Dr. Tarin disagrees, citing his own study that showed breast cancer tumors can have melanoma-like genes. Increasingly, medical journals won’t accept research on breast cancer involving the MDA-MB-435 cell line, throwing into question decades of experiments and innumerable published papers based on the line.
Seeking to solve the problem, a committee led by ATCC, a nonprofit group based in Manassas, Va., released guidelines this year to establish standards to authenticate cancer cell lines. ATCC is working with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, to establish a central repository and database of cell lines that have undergone genetic testing and whose origins can be verified.
The National Institutes of Health have, so far, not required cell line authentication as a condition of receiving federal grants. The NIH in 2007 called for more stringent peer-review when cell lines are used in papers submitted for publication. Journals of the American Association For Cancer Research now require authors to disclose how and when their cell lines were tested.
One challenge is getting scientists to acknowledge their cell line is contaminated. The prevailing attitude, according to researchers, is that the other lab’s cell line may be
contaminated but not mine.
Osamu Tetsu, a head-and-neck cancer researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, did a study in
2009 that concluded all six known cell lines used by researchers studying
adenoid cystic carcinoma were contaminated.
All of the work done on the rare cancerpublished papers, research, drug studieshad been conducted with mislabeled cell lines, Dr. Tetsu concluded. He called the findings “catastrophic.” Jeffrey Kaufman, Executive Director of the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation, said the group lost about $150,000 on a project that had to be scrapped. He alerted Dr. Mandic, who had a lab perform STR profiling on his cell line, which came from a colleague, who got it from another scientist a decade earlier. Tests revealed it was Ms. Lack’s cervical-cancer cell line.
The scientist cited in Dr. Tetsu’s paper as the source of one of the corrupted cell lines said his lab wasn’t responsible. Ruy Jaeger of the University of São Paulo in BRAZIL wrote in an E-mail to The Wall Street Journal that his cell line was, in fact, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. He also pointed out he had not directly provided the line used in the published paper.
Dr. Tetsu said he tested a cell line created from Dr. Jaegar’s line by a scientist in the U.S. The only way to resolve the dispute, said Dr. Tetsu, would be to perform STR profiling of Dr. Jaegar’s cells and compare them to the DNA of the original cancer patient.
The problem is particularly damaging for research into such rare cancers as adenoid cystic carcinoma, which strikes 1,200 people in the U.S. each year. The lack of a good cell line slows research and few in the field have the time or resources to create new lines.
More broadly, the sharing of cell lines is such an intrinsic part of scientific culture, Dr. Tetsu said, that “it is almost impossible to stop.”
University of Washington scientist Stanley Gartler warned about the practice in 1966. He had developed a pioneering technique using genetic markers that would distinguish one person’s cell from another. Using the process, he tested 20 of the most widely used cancer cells lines of the era. He found 18 of the lines weren’t unique: They were Ms. Lacks’ cervical cancer. “People were upset,” said Dr. Gartler, who published his findings a year later in the journal Nature. “No one wants to admit they made a mistake.”
Dr. Gartler, an 88-year-old professor emeritus, said a decade after publication of his findings he attended a conference and introduced himself to a scientist. Dr. Gartler recalled the man told him, “‘I heard your talk on contamination. I didn’t believe what you said then and I don’t believe what you said now.’ ”
That became a long-held view. Nearly 40 years later, Dr. Masters, in a study of scientific papers published between 2000 and 2004, found nearly a 1,000 citations of the same contaminated cancer lines revealed in Dr. Gartler’s 1966 findings, which have since been replicated many times using more advanced techniques. “They are either crooks or stupid,” said Dr. Masters.
Financial donors to cancer research are unaware of the problem, Dr. Masters said, and “it would be a pity if money stopped going to cancer research” because scientists fail to
test their cell lines, a procedure that costs about $200.
From San Diego, Dr. Tarin wrote to the ATCC to say his studies show that MDA-MB-435 is a breast cancer line, not melanoma. He has not heard back.
Yvonne Reid, who works for the ATCC and was a member of the committee that wrote the new guidelines, said, “It is hard to come down for one or the other” without testing tissue from the breast-cancer and melanoma patients who originated the cell lines. Donald Morton, who was part of the team at UCLA that in the 1980’s grew the original melanoma line now believed to have contaminated MDA-MB-435, said his cell line has genetic markers that match the original patient with melanoma. Dr. Morton, currently the Melanoma Program Director at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, CA, said he would share frozen tissue samples from the melanoma patient with scientists seeking to test against contaminated cell lines. His melanoma cells, Dr. Morton said, are indeed melanoma. “What happened after that cell line left my Lab,” he added, “I cannot say.”
Write to Amy Dockser Marcus at firstname.lastname@example.org A version of this article appeared April 21, 2012, on page A1 in some U.S. Editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Lab Mistakes Hobble Cancer Studies But Scientists Slow to Take Remedies.
I work with glioma. The most commonly used cells line is U87. I use primary cell cultures, taken right from theater, straight into tissue culture. You can kill U87’s with stern looks, 10% of primary glioblastoma survive anything.
I wanted to get human cells ith known chemotherapy resistant genes; you cannot get them with full documentation, showing their genetic origin and mRNA levels of resistant proteins. You can get cells from ATCC, but you have to have ‘faith’ in the whole chain of researchers and technictions. I am having to make my own.
Good for you, Doc, but a shocking story. I’m a naturally trusting person, I worked as a newspaper and radio reporter many years ago, I found as a consumer that every time a story was published on something I knew, it was wrong; and that as a professional, the story was the thing, when I found there was no story in a lead I was vilified for not getting the story. In the latter part of my years as a government economic policy adviser, I found that I was considered a threat at the highest levels because of, I quote, my “honesty, integrity, intellect and analytical rigour.” I’ve endeavoured to maintain very high standards of truth and honesty, sadly, it’s far from universal.
As we don’t yet have a Week in Review for this week, I thought I’d post this here.
Chief quoted numbers from Trenberth: