UK-US Workshop Part III: Strategies for robust decision making for climate adaptation

by Judith Curry

This post discusses Workshop presentations on methodologies and application examples of decision analytical strategies to support robust decision making on climate adaptation.

This post is a follow-on to the two previous posts:

Perspective from the Grantham Institute

Simon Buckle and Emily Critchley of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change have written an overview article on the Workshop for Imperial College- London’s blog entitled Climate science to support resilience.  Excerpts:

The Workshop was an important opportunity to illustrate and discuss the diversity of methods already available that could supplement the insights gleaned from climate models and help inform robust decision making in the face of climate variability and change, whether by business, government or international organisations. These additional tools included, but were not limited to, formal methods of robust decision making, scenarios that capture a wider range of drivers beyond just greenhouse gas emissions, more effective exploitation of historical empirical data about climate variability globally and in specific regions, and the smarter use of climate models of all types to identify what can be said robustly on shorter (decadal) timescales and what cannot.

Commenting on the workshop, Dr Yvan Biot, Senior Scientist at the UK Department for International Development, said that, “the future doesn’t just happen – it is for us to create. The techniques I have learnt in this Workshop will help us select those activities that are most likely to create a better and more secure future for poor people in developing countries.”

The provision of these “climate services” to inform the way that decision makers think about risk is likely to become increasingly important in coming decades.  Discussion at the Workshop touched on the ethical dimensions and high professional standards required for the success of this emerging profession. The Workshop concluded that consideration should be given to developing a code of professional standards for practitioners, notably in terms of transparency, objectivity and full disclosure of data, assumptions and methods as well as an obligation to make available forecasts and projections on timescales that allowed those affected by risks to take action in time to mitigate their potential impact, which does not always happen at present.

Robust decision making for climate adaptation

Below is a summary of 4 Workshop presentations on this topic:

Robert Lempert –  Rand Corporation:  Information needs for developing robust adaptive strategies

Lempert laid out the challenge in this way.  Climate-related decisions involve incomplete information from new, fast-moving, and sometimes irreducibly uncertain science; many different interests and values; long time scales; near certainty of surprise.  How can we make plans more robust and adaptable while preserving public accountability?   Supply and demand of scientific information may be mismatched.  Decision support bridges supply and demand with a focus on decision processes.

Traditional approach to risk management works well well when the future isn’t changing fast, isn’t hard to predict, doesn’t generate much disagreement.  Predict then act methods can backfire in deeply uncertain conditions:  uncertainties are underestimated, competing analyses can contribute to gridlock, and misplaced concreteness can blind decision makers to surprise.  Believing forecasts of the unpredictable can contribute to bad decisions.  Deep uncertainty occurs when the parties do not know or do not agree on the likelihood of alternative futures or how actions are related to consequences.

Robust decision making manages deep uncertainty by running the analysis backwards: start with a proposed strategy, use multiple model runs to identify conditions that best distinguish futures where strategy does and does not meet its goals, identify steps that can be taken so strategy may succeed over wider ranges of futures.  Stakeholders debate about how much robustness they can afford – which is more useful than debating what the future will be.  Tradeoff curves help decision makers choose robust strategies.  RDM creates demand for decision support methods and tools for managing and summarizing large and diverse sets of information in a decision-relevant context.  See the presentation for detailed analysis of several case study applications.

Klaus Keller – Penn State:  Informing Robust Climate Adaptation Decisions

Adapting to climatic change (for example, in the design of coastal infrastructure) poses nontrivial conceptual challenges.  Relevant examples include (i) the deep uncertainty surrounding projections of the coupled natural and human systems, (ii) the diversity of priors and value judgments across stakeholders and decision makers, and (iii) the choice of appropriate decision-analytical frameworks.

Climate change adaptation imposes multi-objective trade-offs under dynamic and deep uncertainty.  Current adaptation analyses often neglect: known unknowns – leading to overconfidence; endogenous dynamics of imperfect learning; and relevant decision criteria.  Inverse decision analysis combined with mission-oriented basic science can help overcome these problems.  Uncertain parameters interact in nonlinear ways.  One at a time sensitivity analyses can miss important nonlinear interaction effects.

Roger Pulwarty – NOAA:  (In)forming adaptation decisions: are we doing and not learning?

Pulwarty asks the questions:  Adapting to what?  What are strategies for appraising and evaluating climate adaptation plans?  He emphasized the weather-to-climate continuum and the existing adaptation deficits.  Climate change adaptation is so difficult because of the cumulative nature of hazards, extremes and disasters; difficulty of proactive decision making  and taking advantage of learning and policy windows; and the challenges of information services to support adaptation in changing environments.

The following lessons have been identified (if not necessarily learned):

  • Acknowledge the cross-scale of climate, of early warning and adaptation response
  • Disciplinary challenges shape problem definitions, scenarios, and recommendations (e.g. primary consideration being climate model impacts versus vulnerability assessment)
  • Communication is critical but not sufficient. Need to understand the socialization of lessons learned by particular individuals and organizations through their own, direct brian and error experiences.
  • Rules for gathering, storing, communicating information are essential elements of operating procedures

Criteria for robustness need re-evaluation.  Understand adaptation as  being driven by crises, learning and redesign – role of “surprises” in shaping responses. Generate risk profiles and a portfolio of measures-and broader economic, social and environmental benefits. Approach climate model output far more critically than at present, especially for impact assessment and scenario development at the local level. Develop information systems for critical thresholds across climate time and space scales.

Key issues re improving the linkages between information and decision making: quality and pedigree of information available to decision makers at all levels; factors influencing whether or not such information will be used; factors influencing whether risk communications are trusted; prototyping strategies and practices for adapting the decision making systems to the different levels of decision makers.

Applications to U.S. drought and water resource adaptation are discussed.

Amanda Lynch – Brown University:  Climate Change Adaptation Policy Innovation: Subsidiarity, Diversity and Redundancy

—Reform of environmental policy and decisions is most likely to fail when a threat to a power or value position is perceived. —When this occurs, the credibility, admissibility, or domain of scientific knowledge is often called into question
—One model to explore this dynamic is the theory of diffusion of innovation.  The talk compares centralized, top-down innovation with decentralized innovation.

In a decentralized model of policy innovation, experiments in climate change adaptation arise from the operational levels of a system; from cohorts of practitioners or inventive individuals. In this model, innovations spread horizontally via communities of practice, with local adaptation rather than comprehensive adoption. This creates the potential for redundancy, and along with it, flexibility in the face of anomalous conditions. Like biodiversity in the natural world, this “innovation dividend” is a reserve of creative potential that enhances resilience in the face of future shocks. Diversity rather than efficiency is a goal value in the decentralized model, and yet it has been observed, particularly in cases concerning common good resources such as water, that allocative efficiency is enhanced. This can be explained by the fact that decision-making authority is set where the participants are optimally positioned to assess costs and benefits. This presentation will use this perspective to explore the ways in which the benefits of subsidiarity are being realized in the otherwise highly centralized Murray-Darling Basin Authority, which manages the arid river system formed from Australia’s three longest rivers.

JC reflections:  This series of presentations was in many ways the lynch pin of the Workshop.  Robust decision making strategies are the critical link between the supply of climate information and the demand from decision makers to support climate adaptation policies.

All of the talks recognize the existence of substantial uncertainty, and the lack of utility of the traditional ‘predict then act’ model for decision making.  Robust decision making provides a framework for making decisions under deep uncertainty, where the disagreement is deflected away from arguments about likely futures to the amount of resilience that can be afforded.

The need for a broader range of climate information than the global climate models was clearly identified in the first three talks, and Keller refers to the need for mission-oriented climate information.  This highlights the point that I made in Part I, where ‘mitigation science’ (e.g. sensitivity, attribution) is not the same kind of climate information need to support climate adaptation.  Exactly how to approach mission-oriented climate science to support adaptation decisions is discussed in some of the other presentations that will be discussed in future posts.

136 responses to “UK-US Workshop Part III: Strategies for robust decision making for climate adaptation

  1. Adaptation requires a robust economy and a society that knows there is no such thing as a free lunch. We should watch dead and dying Europe proceed apace — and see how that works out for them; and, in America, a return to an emphasis on individual liberty and free enterprise capitalism is overdue.

    • Wagathon,

      I would have though that robust decision making , in principle, would be good for everyone, and is what people have been attempting to practise for 200,000 years.

      Wikipedia says:

      Robust decision-making is an iterative decision analytic framework that helps identify potential robust strategies, characterize the vulnerabilities of such strategies, and evaluate the tradeoffs among them.[1] RDM focuses on informing decisions under conditions of what is called ‘deep uncertainty,’ that is, conditions where the parties to a decision do not know or do not agree on the system model(s) relating actions to consequences or the prior probability distributions for the key input parameters to those model(s).

      I expect modern analytical techniques are helping, and not just with application to climate change. What about for use in deciding investment strategies, e.g. how can we balance balance optimum and robust investment strategies for our investment portfolio? (see “Triumph of the Optimists: 1010 years of global investment returns

      And (21 minute video by CIO Yale University Endowment Fund portfolio management”

    • Wagathon,

      I interpret (perhaps misinterpret) your comment as making the point that robust decision analysis applied to adaptation to climate and weather events should not be aimed at directing policy to try to change the course of the climate or weather (i.e. the equivalent of trying to change the markets), but rather at trying to influence policies that make us best able to cope with the changes in climate and weather (just as robust decision making can help to make a portfolio more robust to whatever changes occurred in the financial markets). If that’s your point, I agree.

      Global financial markets incurred many, unexpected, ‘catastrophic’, black-swan events during the last century. Examples are: two world wars, New York Stock market crash and Great Depression, hyperinflation in Germany and Italy, Germany’s currency crashed and bond holders lost 100% of their investments (1922-23), the stock markets in Russia, Poland and another country (I can’t recall), collapsed completely.

      These events were note expected or predicted ahead. They were black-swans to the people at the time. But robust analysis can help us to have a more robust portfolio to better handle future black-swan events. I suspect similar applies to climate adaptation. There is a role for governments to lead, especially if it leads to more effective polices at lower cost instead of the massive waste governments are being forced to spend on ridiculous climate mitigation policies that have virtually no chance of returning a cent in avoided climate damages.

      Moving our focus from mitigation to adaptation is good, IMO. So I support more discussion on robust decision making if it can divert us away from the waste on futile mitigation policies.

      • Portfolio management is the efficient allocation of resources given a risk-free rate of return and Leftist stonkernomics have turned that approach on its head with monetary policies that does all it can to set the value of capital at zero. That’s economic suicide. Capital is stored labor. Why save if after a lifetime of sacrifice — after inflation — all your work is worth nothing?

      • I see. Thank you. Now I am fully informed. :)

        I can now get back to saving the planet.

      • Who gets the bill?

      • Please send your bill to the US Government, categorised as “Education”.

    • A good way to handle “climate change” would be to leave mitigation and adaptation to the states, where there is a mandate to be fiscally responsible.

  2. Robert I Ellison

    ‘The global coupled atmosphere–ocean–land–cryosphere system exhibits a wide range of physical and dynamical phenomena with associated physical, biological, and chemical feedbacks that collectively result in a continuum of temporal and spatial variability. The traditional boundaries between weather and climate are, therefore, somewhat artificial. The large-scale climate, for instance, determines the environment for microscale (1 km or less) and mesoscale (from several kilometers to several hundred kilometers)
    processes that govern weather and local climate, and these small-scale processes likely have significant impacts on the evolution of the large-scale circulatio.. (Fig 1; derived from Meehl et al. 2001).

    The accurate representation of this continuum of variability in numerical models is, consequently, a challenging but essential goal. Fundamental barriers to advancing weather and climate prediction on time scales from days to years, as well as longstanding systematic errors in weather and climate models, are partly attributable to our limited understanding of and capability for simulating the complex, multiscale interactions intrinsic to atmospheric, oceanic, and cryospheric fluid motions.’

    Useful modeling of large scale ocean and atmosphere circulation requires 1000’s times current computing power and is decades away at least. Even then it seems less than useful for the scale of flood or coastal protection at specific points. This is an engineering problem solved within the procedural constraints of professional engineering methodologies. With typically much uncertainty but developed within an ethical framework that creates legal responsibilities for outcomes.

    Engineers are responsible for public safety in ways unimaginable to academic scientists. The special place that engineering has in society comes with special responsibilities and liabilities. Thus this academic talkfest seems especially divorced from real world actions – much as they like to pontificate and pretend to be relevant.

    • This is just their way of saying they still need to be fed and we keep payin’ them to keep a fire lit under the AGW climate change charade.

    • “Engineers are responsible for public safety in ways unimaginable to academic scientists”


      Accountability is a very foreign country to those of the deep green persuasion – rather, we out here in Mugsville are to be persuaded that there is a higher calling to “save the planet”

  3. I agree with the notion that we need better climate data. In more places, more often and over a longer period of time.

    I would like us to invest in 30 years of good quality global observation to supplement out very partial sporadic data accumulated so far.

    Then we can fight about what climate sensitivity is or how much of the warming is natural versus caused by humans – and whether there is a cost/benefit to trying to adapt and/or mitigate.

    I predicate that the consensus answer for climate sensitivity will be different in 30 years than it is right now (with the good quality global data). Then we can make the models better, so they have a shot at matching the actual observations from that point forward. Right now the models are pretty useless imo.

  4. Robust decisions?

    Well, you could stockpile maple syrup, as the price of the stuff is bound to be driven by contracting supply.

    I’d get out of natural gas, though, as the rate we’re discovering additional leaks might make it feasible for people to just condense it out of the air instead of paying for it. (Yes, that’s a joke.)

    Buy land cheap at 7′ above sea level and hold onto it for 70 years to get waterfront property. And it looks like the future of the inflatable raft market is up-up-up. Scuba gear will be in demand for people who want to visit their childhood homes, so investing in that can’t go wrong.

    • Put climate change instead of global warming in my quote to accurately reflect what Holdren said

    • Bart, you write “Well, you could stockpile maple syrup, as the price of the stuff is bound to be driven by contracting supply.”

      I wonder where you live. My cottage is in Lanark County, which advertises itself as the “Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario”. We had an above average crop last year. This year we have had a wonderful winter for maple syrup, and, all being well, with suitable weather this spring, we could have another bumper crop. Here’s hoping anyway!

    • Jim Cripwell | February 15, 2014 at 10:09 am |

      In my experience, every backwater with a stand of trees in Canada calls itself something syrupy, to the extent maple syrup heists make front page headlines there. Makes little difference in the back woods that Vermont historically (with regrets to tony) overshadows all of Canada easily, though now other more southerly states are faltering, Vermont still outmatches every single region of Canada easily (

      Perhaps you’re not following the thread of how trend-buckingly unusual this winter has been, or that tapping and sugaring off have undergone a bit of a technological revolution with genetically-selected trees grown, groomed, topped and connected to vacuum pumps to maintain the level of production. Had this technology been used back when winters were seasonally reliable instead of “hey, it’s February and it’s cold, and what’s that fluffy white stuff that came out of the sky?” then one could draw a meaningful comparison.

      As it is, the maple syrup industry in your own province itself disputes your lackadaisy (

      “Fewer producers are tapping by the calendar every year,” he said, adding that they are also much more aware of the health of their trees.

      According to The Maple Daily, a news site dedicated to maple syrup, sugar maple trees now release their sap about 8.2 days earlier in the year and stop producing it 11.4 days earlier, resulting in a total of about 10 per cent loss in the duration of the maple production season.

      What is clear, Mr. Leuty said, is that over the next 50-100 years, the temperature changes will only increase more rapidly. And while that may seem like a long time, Mr. Leuty said, “for a sugar maple that’s not even half of the life of a tree, if it’s healthy.”

      Perhaps you’re a syrup expert by virtue of where your cottage is, just as your region got lucky with an increasingly unusual and unreliable set of conditions a couple of times. But then, we know a six week production cycle that shortens by half a week every half a generation is doomed to obsolescence sooner than later. And you’ll be Lanark’s leading expert in something that doesn’t exist any more.

  5. All politics is local, as is all adaptation to climate change.

  6. For a taster of what a future of adaptation to climate change will look like in terms of cost and failure take a look at the ongoing floods in the UK.

    • Yeah, caused by absurdly green policies mandated from Brussels. Read all about, and weep floods of tears.

    • When it rains, it pours a salty taste.

    • Meh, ‘out pours a salty taste’ is better.

    • Yeah, lowlot, you’re not here to sponge it up

    • The kick-off for the UK adaptation strategy began when the elderly were forced to burn books to keep warm in the winter of 2010.

    • when small government goes bad

    • Have to laugh. Up a thread or two Joshua and his trusty sidekick Michael who regularly vie with each other for the title of “most annoying commenters in the history of climate blogs,” are feigning great indignation at the claim that there is an attempt on the part of certain climateerists, along with assorted enviro-loons like Bill McKibben, along with the compliant and moronic MSM, to link all “extreme weather events” to global warming (if which there’s been none for over 17 years). And here we have the entirely predictable lollywot with no probative evidence, doing exactly that.

      I can think of no category of extreme weather that has not been linked to AGW, nor can I think of any specific events that have attracted wide spread attention in the last 5 years, that have not been treated to the same attempted linkage.

    • This is perfect WRT to extreme weather/climate change linkage discussion

      This from a Willis post fresh from WUWT

      “….The US Under-Assistant Minister of Scientific Silly Walks, John Holdren, wandered way off of the party line. The party line in question, of course, is …

      “Although we can’t ascribe any given weather event to climate change, we still insist that blah blah blah …”

      Perhaps Holdren’s teleprompter was broken, but anyhow, here’s what he said (emphasis mine):
      During a call with reporters on Thursday evening, the assistant to the president on science and technology, John Holdren, said, without any doubt, the severe drought plaguing California and a number of other states across the country is tied to climate change.

      Now, that quote was bad enough, since everyone from the IPCC to my cat agrees that

      • There is no link between historical post-Little-Ice-Age warming and extreme weather, and

      • Droughts are more common in colder times than in warmer times, and

      • For the last decade and a half there’s been no statistically significant warming, certainly not enough to cause increased extreme weather.

      • We have neither the understanding nor the information necessary to ascribe ANY single weather event to climate change, and we’re a long ways from having either one.

      But despite Holdren going way off piste in his comment, it wasn’t truly of the quality needed for a quote of the week. It wasn’t concise enough for an epigram … or for an epitaph, for that matter.

      However, just when it all looked hopeless, Holdren rallied, came back and captured the gold by uttering the deathless words that will ring forever in the halls of climate academe:

      “Weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change.”

    • “Central government spending… in the UK is the ninth highest of the 27 member states of the European Union and represents 51% of GDP.” (wiki)

    • Somebodies pants are on fire!

      As in liar liar pants on fire.

      Because someone said “weather everywhere is being influence by global warming”.

      not what you quoted above. Here is the actual broadcast so you can check for yourself.

    • Droege,

      Take it up with Willis. To me, the quote you offer sounds very nearly as silly.

    • At WUWT, Willis has now backed off his original ’caused by’ so-called Holdren “quote” after being called out on it, but he still doesn’t understand how climate change can even influence the weather, so he says that is just as bad. I am sure that many “skeptics” here too think that climate change can’t even influence the weather, but some may disagree. If the mean summer temperatures at your locality have warmed by a standard deviation, as they have in most areas since 1950, don’t you think that the weather is even influenced? I think Willis has painted himself into a corner with this one.

    • Pokerguy,
      The way you posted it, one couldn’t tell whether it was you quoting someone or you quoting someone else quoting someone else. Pretty sloppy if you ask me.
      You should know better than to believe everything that is posted on WUWT.

      Do You?

  7. When did global warming and fleecing sheep become a shovel-ready Leftist government project? If the world is going to adapt, the world will require more energy.

    “And the reality is,” as Michael Crichton observed, “we are failing and have continuously failed to address the issues of the third world even though, everyone knows that… if you were to look at it from a humanitarian standpoint, if you were to look at it from the easiest way to do the most for environmental degradation as it‘s created around the world, you would address global poverty. But we‘re not. We‘re talking as we‘re talking tonight, we‘re all getting very heated about something that may or may not happen 100 years from now. And while we‘re doing, 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 people are dead.”

    • what developing countries really need is for developed countries to stop exploiting their resources. Instead developed countries should offer support in terms of technology and clean energy.

      • Here’s how adaptation works: a starving UK Leftist looks around and says, ‘Whoa… there are enough stupid people just on this island to support an army of global warming hosers, so, imagine if we go global!’

  8. I believe, Professor Curry, that the “cat is out of the bag” and the Climategate fiasco is now coming to its inevitable conclusion:

  9. The definition of politics is when peoples’ views — such as about climate change — correlate more with party affiliation than observation.

  10. “Robust decision making strategies are the critical link between the supply of climate information and the demand from decision makers to support climate adaptation policies.”

    I suspect they will get it cheaper by just saving up all the free weather information that is available on the internet.

  11. Judith – what are the numbers y’all use for planning? Do your numbers match my extrapolation from IPCC AR5? Are you planning on how to deal with 0.4 C in 40 years and 0.8 C in 80 years?

    IPCC AR5 says that we have already warmed 1.02 degrees C since 1850. If we stay on path to RCP4.5 (my bet is on this) and we subtract out the 1.02 we have already experienced, this puts future warming at

    0.4 C (+/- 3.3) at 2046-2065
    0.8 C (+/- 0.5) at 2081-2100
    1.3 C (+/- 0.5) at 2181-2200
    1.5 C (+/- 0.6) at 2281-2300

    per Table 12.2 from IPCC AR5 WG1 Chapter 12

    • Or is this table from IPCC referring to increased warming relative to year 2000? making the numbers
      1.4 C (+/- 3.3) at 2046-2065
      1.8 C (+/- 0.5) at 2081-2100
      2.3 C (+/- 0.5) at 2181-2200
      2.5 C (+/- 0.6) at 2281-2300

      Forgive my clumsiness – I am just trying to make sense of the IPCC report.

  12. Correction: warming 1850-1999 is only 9.01 C – so…
    0.5 C (+/- 3.3) at 2046-2065
    0.9 C (+/- 0.5) at 2081-2100
    1.4 C (+/- 0.5) at 2181-2200
    1.6 C (+/- 0.6) at 2281-2300

  13. Or is this table from IPCC referring to increased warming relative to year 2000?

    Forgive my clumsiness – I am just trying to make sense of the IPCC report.

    • The triumph of hope over experience.

    • For purposes of example, for the average temperature of the Earth in 3000, think of the temperature was in Sochi today — sometime between 5 pm and 6 pm as the sun ducked behind the clouds — when the temperature fell from 15°C to 11°C.

  14. I’m very recent to this debate as I’ve worked in industry for many years and had always assumed that the climate debate was settled. Frankly, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the detail. I don’t believe I’m alone in this, given a straw poll of my technical department, the majority of whom are science, either Physics (like me) or Engineering, graduates.
    Having heard of the pause through Simon Carr on Guido Fawkes Blog, I was very surprised to learn of the flattened temperature curve of the last decade or more (please don’t laugh).
    I’ve spent the last month or so trying to catch up and assess, based on my own analysis, where I thought the science sat.
    I have to say, I have found it extremely challenging. God knows how the man down the pub is supposed to make head or tail of it. I am also stunned by the political warp to the science but very impressed by the expertise and knowledge of many who write on this blog and others similar.
    It seems that there is very little middle ground – and very little give on either side. Everyone is convinced of the rightness of their position. Thoroughly entrenched.The science is currently moving against the establishment, but it may well move back again given the noisy nature of the trends and the brevity of the historically accurate data.

    IMHO I believe that Judith Curry has taken the most sensible road in her recent initiative (assuming I’ve understood correctly):
    – Involve key global institutions whose pragmatic approach may be independent of the current orthodoxy (“God” is on the side with the best artillery).
    – Work on a robust bottom-up rather than top-down risk based approach (because fundamentally the trend over the past 150 years is gradually upwards, whatever the cause).
    – Local is better than global.
    – Use the pause to engage those experts in the establishment who, up until now, may have been concerned to voice contrary opinions.
    – Try to build bridges to the modelling community (who must currently be under the most intense pressure).
    – Use her personal expertise to influence the decision making process.

    Please keep blogging – pro or ante, it’s an education.

    • Generalissimo Skippy

      ‘A vigorous spectrum of interdecadal internal variability presents numerous challenges to our current understanding of the climate. First, it suggests that climate models in general still have difficulty reproducing the magnitude and spatiotemporal patterns of internal variability necessary to capture the observed character of the 20th century climate trajectory. Presumably, this is due primarily to deficiencies in ocean dynamics. Moving toward higher resolution, eddy resolving oceanic models should help reduce this deficiency. Second, theoretical arguments suggest that a more variable climate is a more sensitive climate to imposed forcings (13). Viewed in this light, the lack of modeled compared to observed interdecadal variability (Fig. 2B) may indicate that current models underestimate climate sensitivity. Finally, the presence of vigorous climate variability presents significant challenges to near-term climate prediction (25, 26), leaving open the possibility of steady or even declining global mean surface temperatures over the next several decades that could present a significant empirical obstacle to the implementation of policies directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions (27). However, global warming could likewise suddenly and without any ostensive cause accelerate due to internal variability. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, the climate system appears wild, and may continue to hold many surprises if pressed.’

      This succinctly puts the entire question into the right framework. A residual warming – after subtracting decadal variability – of at most 0.08 degrees C/decade – the likelihood of the hiatus persisting for a decade to three at least – the political difficulties for mitigation that will ensue from this – and the dynamic and perhaps extreme sensitivity (negative or positive) of a climate system that is wild. The last refers to abrupt change as a result of emergent behavior as small changes in solar activity – or even perhaps with anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission – cascade through powerful climate subsystems.


      Believe this and you will earn the unending ire of the sp@ce c@dets. A term that derives from spaceship cults – and is short for the Borg Collective Cult of AGW groupthink sp@ce c@dets. I have to add the @ symbol – otherwise it goes straight to spam – and yes I think that’s pretty funny too.

    • The ‘modelling community’ have only one way to relieve the intense pressure they are under. They must start to produce reliable, robust, repeatable models with empirically confirmed predictive skill that reflect the world *as it is*, not the one the textbooks tell us *we should be in*.

      But since the very idea of looking out the window or consulting actual data appears to run totally contrary to the oaths taken on admission to ClimateModelology101, I don’t hold out much hope for them.

      Their predicament is entirely of their own making. A less hubristic bunch would have taken the action needed a decade or more ago. But – perhaps led by Hansen and Schmidt and others whose confidence in the infalibility of their pronouncement was not matched by any ability to make them – they have painted themselves into a corner. And Mother Gaia shows no signs of giving them a way out. The models are crap and the inconvenient truth is becoming more obvious to more people by the day.

      And to mix metaphors from this very damp part of the Thames Valley, the modellers are up Chertsey Creek without a paddle. Tough.

    • IAN

      I am an R&D engineer that had been dragged into this pantomime unwittingly. As always the devil is in the detail – the minor stress fracture setting off a tumbling domino effect that obscures the original flaw. Where all interested parties point the finger or adhere to popular theories. The whole mess is so bad that I have tried to ensure nobody in the climate biz deals with the data, preferimg engineers, economists, maths etc to assess the validity of the data refinements.

  15. A lot of “skeptics” won’t like this robust decision making strategy because it looks too much like a precautionary principle.
    “Robust decision making manages deep uncertainty by running the analysis backwards: start with a proposed strategy, use multiple model runs to identify conditions that best distinguish futures where strategy does and does not meet its goals, identify steps that can be taken so strategy may succeed over wider ranges of futures. “

    • Talking of robustness.
      “The president also was announcing that the budget he’ll send to Congress next month will include $1 billion for a proposed “climate resilience fund” to invest in research and pay for new technologies to help communities deal with the impact of climate change. The proposal is likely to face stiff resistance from lawmakers wary of new spending and divided on the subject of global warming.”
      This was part of an article on his visit to drought-stricken California today.

    • Starting with the target and working backwards is a key tool in mission planning under uncertainty

    • the word most often abused in the climate science: robust

    • Here is an example of robust decision making by pols who knew that another drought would come along sometime. Tear down the dams and free the rivers. Save the snail darters and screw the farmers and consumers of food.

    • The flow of money to climate studies is the most robust thing about climate studies.

    • Another word for robust could be “no regrets”.

    • Yes, having funds to build dams, help farmers through droughts or urban areas through water shortages is a form of resilience that is backed by Obama’s type of proposal. Big government to some is building resilience to others.

    • You are just making crap up, jimmy. To what purpose? Why don’t you just be quiet and let Pekka do the talking.

    • Unfortunately from my experience it is the No 1# rule of the emissions fraudsters to ignore any evidence which points to any other probable cause.

    • donnie, even though you are trying to disagree, you are agreeing and even providing examples where robust decision making includes building resilience, which is also, like it or not, what Obama said in California yesterday. Part of building resilience is figuring out what the priorities are, which is where the impact research comes in.

  16. = Commenting on the workshop, Dr Yvan Biot, Senior Scientist at the UK Department for International Development, said that, “the future doesn’t just happen – it is for us to create. The techniques I have learnt in this Workshop will help us select those activities that are most likely to create a better and more secure future for poor people in developing countries.”

    =The provision of these “climate services” to inform the way that decision makers think about risk is likely to become increasingly important in coming decades.

    More delusions of adequacy. The future comes from a mass of events and decisions, which we in almost all cases can neither foresee nor control. It will not be “selected” by Biot or any other central planner, the world is far too vast, varied and complex for that. Nor will “climate services” be central to decision-making, as the business section indicated, the climate is a minor factor, particularly when decisions are made – as they usually are – with a short term horizon, rarely more than ten years. Decisions made with a longer horizon are almost always overcome by events.

    Lempert of Rand Corp: “Believing forecasts of the unpredictable can contribute to bad decisions.” Quite. RC have a far better take than Biot.

    Some sense also from Pulwarty and Lynch.

    I am not at all surprised that the person with the least grasp is a bureaucrat in an International Development agency.

    • +100

      Nor will “climate services” be central to decision-making, as the business section indicated, the climate is a minor factor, particularly when decisions are made – as they usually are – with a short term horizon, rarely more than ten years. Decisions made with a longer horizon are almost always overcome by events.

      Lempert of Rand Corp: “Believing forecasts of the unpredictable can contribute to bad decisions.” Quite. RC have a far better take than Biot.

      I am not at all surprised that the person with the least grasp is a bureaucrat in an International Development agency.

      I agree with all this.

  17. Umm, excuse me for just a moment. Assuming that climate sensitivity comes in somewhere between 1 and 3C, planning for adaptation should not be considered a ‘wicked’ problem. I apologize to those who think otherwise, but it isn’t.

    The key resource constraint is fresh water availability. Not only can this be planned for, existing groups and regulatory agencies worldwide are already addressing this. Expanding their remit to include the effects of climate change is not only reasonable, in some places it is being done.

    The key environmental threat due to climate change will be sea level rise and its dark sister, storm surge. And again, areas already suffering from these phenomena are trying to address them and institutions exist and mechanisms to adapt to current conditions can be augmented without drastic change.

    Plans exist, costs have been estimated, effects have been calculated. Fresh water availability and protection against sea level rise and storm surge most likely accounts for a very large percentage of all the effects of projected climate change. If we focus on those issues now we will have, in my opinion, done our duty. And if by happy chance climate change is less damaging than we estimated, we will have helped those affected by those phenomena here and now, to their great benefit.

    A sense of perspective is called for.

    • It seems the cost of adaption to projected sea level rise is negligible (e.g. 0.005% of cumulative GDP to 2100 for a 1 m sea level rise.)

      $0.2 trillion for 0.5 m sea level rise [1]
      $1 trillion for 1 m sea level rise [1]
      $20,000 trillion cumulative GDP to 2100

      [1] Anthoff, et. al. (2010, Figure 10 and 11,

    • Woops. Mistake. That should have read:

      “It seems the estimated damage cost of projected sea level rise is negligible (e.g. 0.005% of cumulative GDP to 2100 for a 1 m sea level rise.)”

    • The problem with Toms idea is, even if we accept a 1-3C increase (and personally I don’t), That doesn’t tell us WHAT to prepare for. More rain? less? What about snow? Anything? Everything?

      Yes, EVERYTHING. because everything has been predicted to be caused by AGW. Even contradictory things, simultaneously.

    • We cannot(will not?, may not?) mitigate by cutting CO2 emissions; it’s a poison pill way too bitter to swallow. Which leaves adapting as changes come, keeping paramount in mind that warming is a net benefit, as it sustains more total life and more diversity of life.

    • There is a nice little curiosity here, which Peter will appreciate. I say ‘cannot’ mitigate, instead of ‘may not’ mitigate by use of the fascinating measuring tool, the existence of CO2 free nuclear power. This is a perfectly rational option if CO2 actually were the poisonous agent some make it out to be. But it isn’t pollution, and there is an option if it were.

      Do we believe CO2 is pollution which we can avoid by the use of the nuclear option? Clearly not, else we are mad.

      Now, about that last point.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      I think Tom’s perspective is reasonable and accurate, but this statement:

      “Fresh water availability and protection against sea level rise and storm surge most likely accounts for a very large percentage of all the effects of projected climate change.”

      I would disagree with. Certainly rising oceans and the related more intense storm surge are important parts of the effects but the bigger perspective is that warmer oceans lead to an enhanced hydrological cycle, with the atmosphere carrying more frequent and larger “rivers of moisture” to various parts of the planet. Massive and catastrophic precipitation events should be planned for as “once in a hundred year” floods begin to happen once a decade or more frequently. Every bit of research tells us to prepare for an enhanced hydrological cycle in a warmer world, and this enhanced cycle will affect more than just coastal regions.

    • Gates you might take a look at what the ipcc cites
      As the largest component of the damage function
      Before you merely disagree

    • My interpretation of Richard Tol (2011) “The economic impact of climate change in the 20th and 21st Century” is that the cost of energy is projected to by far the highest cost of climate change beyond mid century. Energy costs overwhelms all the other damage costs from about mid century (if energy costs are as high as this study assumes they will be). ‘Ecosystems’ and ‘water’ are relatively minor negative costs and greatly exceeded by the ‘Agriculture’ and ‘Health’ benefits of climate change for all this century and (extrapolating beyond the graph out to beyond 4C warming. Sea level rise and storms have no net damage cost. See Figure 3 here:

      I suggest lowering the cost of energy should be amongst the most beneficial ‘actionable’ adaptation actions we could activate.

      I have a suggestion on this. Any one want to hear it? :)

  18. Robert Lempert – Rand Corporation presentation is good.

    We should have been doing this for the past 25 years:

  19. The Workshop concluded that consideration should be given to developing a code of professional standards for practitioners, notably in terms of transparency, objectivity and full disclosure of data, assumptions and methods as well as an obligation to make available forecasts and projections on timescales that allowed those affected by risks to take action in time to mitigate their potential impact, which does not always happen at present.

    I agree with some earlier comments (e.g., Ian8888, I think): just hand this part over to engineers. That is their expertise, not scientists’. Engineers have been doing this for many thousands of years. The Pyramids are still standing. The Roman aqueducts are still standing. The Roman roads have lasted a couple of thousand years. The Niagra Falls hydro electric generators were designed, over 100 years ago, with adjustments to compensate for tilting due to differential land uplift as the land is rising after removal of the ice load, around 15,000 years ago. The civil and mechanical engineers provided allowance for over 100 years of adjustment.

    • Judging by Klaus Keller’s truly terrifying academese, we may be in danger of superimposing a weird adaptation cult on top of an already out-of-control alarmist industry…where the first, but not only, casualty is the English language. (Don’t laugh, French and German…they’re coming for you next!)

      As Peter was saying, maybe just engineer stuff better to meet all likely eventualities? Like, don’t build or do the wrong things in the wrong places? Maybe don’t put nukes in geologically unstable locations? If your city gets blown away once, eg Darwin, rebuild it so it probably won’t get blown away again (eg Darwin). Don’t assume a number won’t come up because some expert eighty years ago had a theory about warming or New Ice Age or the Mayan calendar. He’s comfy in the grave – you’re stuck with the weather that’s actually happening.

      Without dragging “our kids” and “the grandchildren” into it again, a lot of good infrastructure has managed to last and serve over centuries – unless you think the aqueducts etc had it easy because monstrous climatic extremes only kicked in after the breakup of ABBA.

      While we’re spending (and oh how we are spending!), what about lots more active, unbiased, wet-feet research into volcanism, oceans and whatever is big and can hold a temperature? (Seems amazing that volcanology is underfunded, but it is.)

      Should we not just get curious again?

  20. KIM

    Who are you? You used a quote from one of my news letters, which have a narrow circulation!

    • Well, I steal everything and attribute when I remember where it came from. This one could be co-incidence; more likely the same mundane minds running in the same muddy channels.

  21. Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

    In Grantham Institute’s article: they want “scenarios that capture a wider range of drivers beyond just greenhouse gas emissions”. And JC had already seen “the need for a broader range of climate information than the global climate models”.
    I agree, but how to get this?. If we do not know what drives global temperature (or what drives the precipitation patterns), how can we assess scientifically to the public and private sectors?.
    In my honest opinion (of a simple physicist), the main assessment we can provide, in decadal timescales, is the uncertainty. We do not know, for example, what global surface temperature will have the Earth in 2050, or we do not know if between 2040 to 2045 there will be less or more rain in Asia than between the years 2000 to 2005. The only thing that we know for sure is that IPCC’s claimed projections (i.e., predictions) will not become true as they are based in fictitious values of climate sensitivity and total aerosol RF.


      I have unfortunate experience with ICL’s Grantham Inst. going so far as trying to get the university rector and legal dept to overview their work. On another occation where one of their worthies said he had done some WRF’s on a particular area & the results came back negative. Both myself and the chief exec at RMetS tried continuously to see these so called negative results. The current standpoint is that nothing was done and the prof just lied about the outcome. This may partly explain why Prof Hardaker, previous chief exe at RMetS was relieved to tell my “I am leaving the profession”. The willingness of the emissions fraudsters to distort the whole picture by lies and deception is far greater than even the most sceptical sceptic would imagine.

    • The irony here is that the fear of exposure has created an out of control positive feedback loop. There will come a time when the egregiousness is just too much to bluff through. Oh what an error, to so spurn Gaia, and fall for those made up models, strutting in ghillie skin.

    • Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

      Hello Conor, about those GHG-emission-dependent climate models of the Met Office (you talked about in your UK Parliament written testimony); I agree with you: they seem to be meaningless.
      But I do not see, in that theory relating Blue Nile Rainfall Atlantic temperature, the cause-effect link between that rain and that other oceanic temperature. May be you could ask Judith Curry to let yourself explain as an invited post in her blog.

    • Antonio (aka “Un fisico”:

      In your 7:30 am post you ask “if we do not know what drives global temperature….how can we assess scientifically to the public and private sectors?”

      I have been proposing an alternate explanation of global warming–which so far has not been refuted (ignored, but not refuted)–which identifies the driver of global warming (apart from any changes in solar output) as the cleanliness of the air

      The cause of the 1975-2000 temperature rise was simply a side effect of the 1970 Clean Air Act, et al, and had nothing to do with greenhouse gasses..

      Just as global temperatures recover from the temporary cooling caused by a large volcanic eruption after the pollution has settled out, natural warming will occur when other pollutants are removed from the atmosphere. Natural warming occurred as the Clean Air Act was implemented–as it had to–and “paused” when that degree of cleansing was completed. Further warming will occur as the latest EPA regulations begin to take effect, and when China, etc. clean their air.

      Thus, apart from solar effects, the main driver of global climate change is
      simply the amount of aerosol and particulate pollution in the air!

    • Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

      Burl, you need to support your theory with measurements. May be you could upload a pdf with all this into googledocs and send us a link. At least, I will review/criticise it.

  22. R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

    pokerguy said:
    “For the last decade and a half there’s been no statistically significant warming, certainly not enough to cause increased extreme weather.”
    This single statement has many incorrect but common fake-skeptic notions imbedded in it that is can be useful to take it apart to see why they are fake-skeptic in nature.

    Of course pokerguy begins with the #1 fake-skeptic notion, quickly trying to equate tropospheric temperature fluctuations (which are driven on the decadal timeframes by ocean cycles) with “no warming”. The climate system itself continued to accumulate energy quite strongly over the past decade as measured by the broadest measurements of energy accumulation. Thus, there has been statistically significant warming of the full climate system over the past decade, and the real measure of global warming, this larger measurement of energy accumulation continued.

    The other glaring error in pokerguy’s statement was his incorrect assumption that it is warming of the troposphere that might be related to extreme weather events. The actual dynamic situation is that it the oceans and the energy accumulated in the oceans that drive the weather – including the extreme weather- of the climate system. The oceans are the dog that wags the tropospheric tail.

    This fall and winter is a perfect example of that ocean dog wagging the tropospheric tail as the OHC in the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, being at record levels has generated everything from a massive killer typhoon to altering jet stream patterns wreaking havoc and extreme weather world wide. Thus, those who don’t see why increasing OHC is such a big deal, forget that that heat content of the ocean is what drives the weather and hydrological cycle of the entire global climate system. Warmer oceans = enhanced activity.

    • “For the last decade and a half there’s been no statistically significant warming, certainly not enough to cause increased extreme weather.”

      R Gates,You simply made that quote up. Unbelievable…

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist


      There is a better than 95% probability that I did not make up that quote:

    • RG –

      In a thread just downstairs, in response to Judith, I spoke of how “skeptics” twist the uncertainty in what “realists” say to build strawmen. The specific point of reference at that time was Melanie’s straw man about what realists say about the “causes” of extreme weather, and Judith’s response about what Holdren has said.

      And then shortly thereafter, I find that Willis wrote a whole post building a straw man founded on a misquote of Holdren.

      It’s almost like I planned it.

      As if icing on the cake, PG says that you made up a quote that he, himself, had excerpted/

      Too funny.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      My mistake, which I apologize to you for pokerguy, was attributing the actual quote to you. It was simply a quote you had cut and pasted from another fake-skeptic.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist


      They do indeed twist in the wind, with their legs flailing about, they often score “own goals” and then deny even that.

    • And no, the two things…that is what I actually said, and your agenda serving “interpretation” of what I said, are not the same. I never said anything about “statistically significant,” and the word “certainly” is also made up. I cited the lack of warming as a piece of data that seems to me to weaken these endless attempts at linkage between extreme weather and global warming.

      If this proves ultimately incorrect, it’s an honest error on my part.. Unlike yours.

    • “My mistake, which I apologize to you for pokerguy, was attributing the actual quote to you. It was simply a quote you had cut and pasted from another fake-skeptic.”

      R Gates: I actually accept your apology, as nasty as it’s framed. To tell you the honest truth,, I’m relieved it was a simple mistake. The alternative was too depressing.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      Not sure of your attempts to claim you did not post exactly what I said you posted. Anyone can follow the link right back to your post here on CE and see that it contains both the word “certainly” and phrase “statistically significant.” What is the basis of your attempt to not claim these words, whether you cut and pasted them from another fake-skeptic or not, they were most definitely in your post.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      Maybe there is a lesson for both of us here- be sure of what we are cut and pasting. I try to use a line like this:

      To separate out what someone else said from my thoughts. Your post was long and perhaps that’s how I got confused about what you were saying versus what you were quoting. I like how JC handles it as well when she uses a definite break, as in…

      My Thoughts:

      Either way, I’ll try to be more careful in attribution to you. I would never make something up and claim someone else said it. And finally, you’re right, my apology was a bit nasty since I called you a fake-skeptic in it, but if you quote fake-skeptics, you are open to that.

    • RG – which are the “broadest measurements of energy accumulation” you mentions. If surface/troposphere/ocean temperatures are only proxies for the energy accumulation, as they are driven by PDO/etc., what are the measurements which are not proxies that confirm “this larger measurement of energy accumulation” such that you can definitively state that “statistically significant warming of the full climate system over the past decade” has “continued?”

      Is this a theoretical argument of the form “We measure the energy coming in from the sun, and we measure the GHG – such that when we apply basic physics, we know with statistical certainty that energy is accumulating. AND, until someone demonstrates a mechanism by which that energy can be released ‘back into space,’ the only question left is ‘where is the energy being dynamically stored in the climate system.'”

      Or are there non-temperature-proxy measurements that you are referring to.

      Thanks, Mark

    • This appears to be a case where pokerguy cut and pasted some words from Willis without actually reading them all, and then didn’t recognize the quote when it was pointed out to him. Simple error.

    • “Maybe a lesson to us both”

      Gates: I concede I was lazy in that cut and paste. I did not read it through carefully enough. Which is not to say I’d not have put it up anyway, because I would have. I don’t have to agree with every detail of something someone else wrote to like it enough to post it, nor does such a posting necessarily imply full agreement with all details…

      The discussion of extreme weather and its relation to global warming strikes me as wickedly complex. Out of self-protectoin I would never claim certainty, or anything like it. What bothers me particularly are confident claims like Holdren’s re California drought.

      That said, I should have read it through. When I saw your supposed quote, it seemed entirely made up.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      Mark L.,

      The broadest, most stable measurements we have for the total energy in the Earth climate system are OHC, sea level, and total planetary glacial mass. All of these are indeed proxies, but they are far better than the highly variable and ocean dependent sensible tropospheric heat. The additional metric of sensible tropospheric heat is a rather poor proxy for total energy in the climate system as the troposphere contains such a relatively small amount of the total energy in the climate system. Sensible heat also misses the larger metric of moisture content plus temperature (moist enthalpy) as has been pointed out by Pielke Sr. in the 2006 paper on the subject. So if you want to include tropospheric energy, you really need to measure moist enthalpy and not just sensible heat. Sensible tropospheric heat might be a decent proxy over very long time frames at best.

      Over the past decades in particular OHC measurements, sea level measurements, global glacial mass measurements all indicate the same strong continued accumulation of energy in the climate system. One are of the ocean in particular that is worth noting is the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool. This is the largest single repository of ocean heat on the planet and it has been running at the highest levels ever measured. The IPWP affects weather around the world as the flow of latent heat from this region into the atmosphere is enormous and has effects on weather patterns globally. There has recently been a team of dozens of scientists from around the world using drones to fly above this region to measure energy exchanges between the ocean and troposphere and between troposphere and stratosphere to begin to understand how the very warm IPWP can affect the global weather patterns so profoundly.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist


      The unusual weather of this winter, really a global phenomenon, is related to very unusual jet-stream patterns. To the extent that we can find the reasons for these patterns we can begin to understand the potential relationship to the energy imbalance created by increasing GH gases. The suggestion has been made that the very warm IPWP is related to much of this chaotic weather as the latent heat flux from the IPWP can cause the kind of changes we have seen in jet-stream patterns. If a warmer IPWP (i.e. increasing OHC in the pool) can be related to the highest GH gas concentration in millions of years, then we can trace the smoking gun back to the connection between crazy winter weather globally and increasing GH gases. There are dozens of researchers studying the GH gas/IPWP/weather connection at this very moment. Here’s a link:

    • It’s just the AMO going negative. Get used to it. You have about 30 years of it coming.

    • R Gates,
      You seem to be off of your game a bit in response to that pasted quote. It seems that you accepted the premise of no warmer temps the last 17 years. All anyone has to do is look at Roy Spencers UAH chart to see the 13 month running center is all mostly above the base line whereas the previous 17 center line is below the base. The current 17 year record definitively shows up warmer than the previous 17 years

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist


      The more important metric over the past 10 years or 20 years is OHC. The quote was relating extreme weather to a warmer troposphere when it is a warmer ocean that drives extreme weather.

    • Oh, I was just going by ‘no statistically significant warming’. I’ve looked at the sst anamoly that shows spots of warmer ocean and I know you have explained it before but is it really set in stone that warm oceans cause extreme weather? I guess that is what they wrote for Obama to say yesterday in Fresno. It seems like I’ve read otherwise and didn’t Dr Curry have a post on that recently that disputed that?

    • R. Gates, A Skeptical Warmist

      “… is it really set in stone that warm oceans cause extreme weather?”
      What is “set in stone” is that the oceans are the climate systems local energy reservoir as they store the largest amount of solar energy that arrives on Earth. Thus, if that reservoir has more energy, then storms can be more extreme. Increasing GH gases lead to a warmer ocean, a warmer ocean enhances the hydrological cycle, the hydrological cycle (primarily reflected in the latent heat flux from ocean to atmosphere) is what drives weather.

    • Gates,
      That was a great explaination. Out of the park home run. I can understand that as far as precip, storms, floods etc but I don’t see it as far as droughts. I just read the ‘extreme events’ part of the AR5 chp 1 and chp 10. They said that an understanding of it has increased since AR4 and attribute it to changing ocean patterns. It is also considered to be regional. They give it very low confidence with regards to AGW. To me this means cold ocean patterns lead to drought. If that is the case it should mean droughts would more likely be associated with a colder climate than a warmer one.

    • I know Obama was saying not necessarily more of but rather more extreme when they do come along. That reminds me of the dos equis beer guy … I don’t often; but when I do … I don’t know if I buy that, neither the beer nor the Obama rama.

  23. Now, that quote was bad enough, since everyone from the IPCC to my cat agrees that


    • For the last decade and a half there’s been no statistically significant warming, certainly not enough to cause increased extreme weather.

  24. Climate change impact on weeds

    by Barakat Abu Irmaileh Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Amman, Jordan

    in Food Security and Climate Change in Dry Areas Conference Proceedings


    The impact of climate change on single species and ecosystems are likely to be complex. However, opposed to crops, weeds are troublesome invaders, ecological opportunists and resilient plants with a far more genetic diversity. Weed populations include individuals with the ability to adapt and flourish in different types of habitats. Weeds benefit far more than crop plants from higher levels of CO2 and the implications of this for agriculture and public health are grave. Weeds are able to respond rapidly to disturbances giving them a competitive advantage over the less aggressive species, most crops. With increasing certainty that the Earth’s climate is changing and that significant warming is inevitable regardless of future emission reductions, it has become progressively more important to identify potential vulnerabilities and adaptive responses in managed ecosystems.

    Enhancing CO2 levels, not only increases growth rates of many weeds, but may lead to changes in their chemical composition. Interactions between climate change and crop management in any agro-ecosystems may turn some currently benign species into invasive species, thus leading to changes in weed composition. As climatic zones shift, weeds that are capable of rapid dispersal and establishment have the potential to invade new areas and increase their range. Developing techniques for managing the increasing burden of the upcoming weed situations will be essential.

    I haven’t actually read the whole thing yet, and some aspects seem to contradict my own searches of the primary literature, but it brings up important issues.

    One important issue it seems to leave out is the role of micro-evolution in ecosystem adaptation. Most plants use some sort of long-range spore dispersal mechanism to achieve gene transfer among isolated populations (e.g. symbiotic insects, windblown pollen, or water-born microspores for ferns and other “lower” types). When formerly isolated populations of marginal, niche and opportunistic species undergo widespread expansions due to global changes (in e.g. CO2), this long-range dispersal will result in large amounts of natural hybridization. Some of these hybrids will probably be better pre-adapted to the new conditions, moving into highly invasive niches formerly not occupied.

    Remember: CO2 is plant food, and “sleeper weeds” are plants.

    • Rapid genetic adaptation precedes the spread of an exotic plant species by Katrien Vandepitte, Tim De Meyer, Kenny Helsen, Kasper Van Acke, Isabel Roldán-Ruiz, Joachim Mergeay, Olivier Honnay Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/mec.12683 (paywalled, accepted for publication)


      Human activities have increasingly introduced plant species far outside their native ranges under environmental conditions that can strongly differ from those originally met. Therefore, before spreading, and potentially causing ecological and economical damage, non native species may rapidly evolve. Evidence of genetically based adaptation during the process of becoming invasive is very scant however, which is due to the lack of knowledge regarding the historical genetic makeup of the introduced populations and the lack of genomic resources. Capitalizing on the availability of old non-native herbarium specimens, we examined frequency shifts in genic SNPs of the Pyrenean Rocket (Sisymbrium austriacum subsp. chrysanthum), comparing the (i) native, (ii) currently spreading non-native, and (iii) historically introduced gene pool. Results show strong divergence in flowering time genes during the establishment phase, indicating that rapid genetic adaptation preceded the spread of this species and possibly assisted in overcoming environmental constraints.

      The key question is to what extent species that are “pre-adapted” for explosive expansion due to increased pCO2 act the same as newly introduced species. Given that the time-frame for the sort of “rapid genetic adaptation” discussed in this article is similar to that of the exponential increase in atmospheric pCO2, there could easily be hundreds of latent “sleeper weeds” busily adapting, soon to break out and invade agriculture.

    • AK – nice try, but water vapor isn’t plant food – it’s water. CO2, OTOH, IS plant food. The carbon is integrated into the structure of the plant, as one would expect of food. Denialists will attempt to deny it, but there it is – the truth, a rare commodity in climate science.

    • @jim2…

      CO2, OTOH, IS plant food.

      I can’t tell if you’re really that ignorant, or deliberately ignoring what I said.

      Yes, CO2 is plant food, and “sleeper weeds” are plants. The risk is there, and all your ignorant attempts at straw man arguments can’t hide it.

  25. Robert I Ellison

    There are fundamental measures of the Earth system – disconcerting when a discussion of these disappears into the aether for no apparent reason.

  26. Robert I Ellison

    ‘It is hypothesized that persistent and consistent trends among several climate modes act to ‘kick’ the climate
    state, altering the pattern and magnitude of air-sea interaction between the atmosphere and the underlying ocean. Figure 1 (middle) shows that these climate mode trend phases indeed behaved anomalously three times during the 20th century, immediately following the synchronization events of the 1910s, 1940s, and 1970s. This combination of the synchronization of these dynamical modes in the climate, followed immediately afterward by significant increase in the fraction of strong trends (coupling) without exception marked shifts in the 20th century climate state. These shifts were accompanied by breaks in the global mean temperature trend with respect to time, presumably associated with either discontinuities in the global radiative budget due to the global reorganization of clouds and water vapor or dramatic changes in the uptake of heat by the deep ocean.’

    There are two ways of looking at global cloud – satellite and Earthshine.

    An increase in cloud radiative forcing to the late 1990’s, a step jump and modest change since.

    ‘Earthshine changes in albedo shown in blue, ISCCP-FD shown in black and CERES in red. A climatologically significant change before CERES followed by a long period of insignificant change.’

  27. Robert I Ellison

    BTW – here is an interesting discussion of the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool –

  28. Robert I Ellison

    This one has been recently updated.

    The new one can be found here.

    The new one seems more consistent with satellite measurements. The long term TSI reconstruction uses annual means and the ACRIM daily values – hence the apparent differences.

  29. Robert I Ellison

    Are cold NH winters associated with low solar activity?

    ‘Solar activity during the current sunspot minimum has fallen to levels unknown since the start of the 20th century. The Maunder minimum (about 1650–1700) was a prolonged episode of low solar activity which coincided with more severe winters in the United Kingdom and continental Europe. Motivated by recent relatively cold winters in the UK, we investigate the possible connection with solar activity. We identify regionally anomalous cold winters by detrending the Central England temperature (CET) record using reconstructions of the northern hemisphere mean temperature. We show that cold winter excursions from the hemispheric trend occur more commonly in the UK during low solar activity, consistent with the solar influence on the occurrence of persistent blocking events in the eastern Atlantic. We stress that this is a regional and seasonal effect relating to European winters and not a global effect. Average solar activity has declined rapidly since 1985 and cosmogenic isotopes suggest an 8% chance of a return to Maunder minimum conditions within the next 50 years (Lockwood 2010 Proc. R. Soc. A 466 303–29): the results presented here indicate that, despite hemispheric warming, the UK and Europe could experience more cold winters than during recent decades.’


    Judy won’t write, phone etc. Woz it something I said – shud have tried the roses and chocs last week. On Monday I get back to the chairman of the E&CC parliamentary committee with a plan for him to force a meeting with me and Dr Gadien at the met office, to get them to put their heads where the sun dose shine. Watch this space.

    • Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

      Ok Conor. As I couldn’t see your theory in a peer reviewed publication, I was hoping to see it in blogs like this one.
      Anyhow, Conor, last night I was thinking about that possible cause-effect link between that rain on the ethiopian highlands and the atlantic equatorial temperature, and I realized that MAY BE there is no such link: may be atlantic temperature variations could just be explained by oscillations in the flow of oceanic currents (plus the fact of that asymmetric shape in Africa between northern and southern hemispheres). Anyhow your observations could be extremelly important in order to explain hurrican frequencies in the US East Coast. I will be following your work, all the best.

  31. Robert I Ellison

    I had seen your truly magnificent video link of the earth’s albedo – then cringed at the magnitude of the deception. On the albedo scale the planetary albedo chart should infact show almost everything above 70N as being a flat line rather than a curve. The energy values should be converted into GWH (gigawatt hours per day or whatever). The image shown in the vid-clip is like the shister builder telling the nice little ole lady that she has to spend $100,000 dollars to fix the broken tiles on her roof. You have been taken in by a fraud! The planets largest weather system is the ITCZ: intertropical convergence zone at the thermal equator. Mid summer it should have comprised 85 to 90% cloud reflecting 80% of incoming solar radiation (10KWH/day). In your clip it is a minor sniffle compared to the polar events. This is a travesty of the highest magnitude and I do sincerely hope that at some time in the future we should all be entertained by public lynchings, where the perpetrators of this global fraud can dance from the end f the rope that they have so justly woven for themselves.


    Google ‘The Nile Climate Engine’ (NiCE). The same meteorological event that provides the rainfall across Sub Saharan Africa is that which provides the strata-cumulis cloud mass across the Equatorial Atlantic mid summer. Thus altering the sub saharan rain you alter the cloud mass, thus inversely affect the Equatorial Atlantic SSTs. Rainfall on the Ethiopian Highlands is indicative of the precursors to the formation of this Easterly Wave strata-cumulus that links these items within the same system (ITCZ). Deliberate and fraudulent efforts have been made in key institutions to dismiss these facts, because the resultant SST variability provides every criteria and temperature variability to produce Global Warming. The data in the NiCE presentation is an honest and accurate refinement of solid and credible SST, rainfall and river flow records.

    • Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

      Conor, I had already seen your video in youtube. But, as I said above, I don’t believe in your NiCE theory.
      In my humble opinion of only a physicist (no PhD, no educator, no academic, …), it seems to me more reliable that heating of indic and southern atlantic oceans drive precipitation patterns in equatorial Africa (rather than the orther way around).
      My alternative explanation for equatorial atlantic strata-cumulis cloud alteration (that it might be due to oscillations in oceanic current flows in southern atlantic ocean and to the geographic african asymmetric distribution of land between northern and southern hemispheres), is only an idea.

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  34. Antonio (AKA “Un fiscio”)

    You write that I need to support my theory with measurements

    What I am offering is a “theory” based upon factual observations (ala Alfred Wegner) where specific meaurements serve little purpose.

    It is well known that the climatic response to a major eruption is temporary global cooling, followed by recovery to essentially the original temperature levels as the pollution settles out. This has been observed over and over and it can be considered to be a “Law of Nature” that natural warming will occur whenever pollution settles out of the atmosphere..

    Significant reduction in atmospheric pollution occurred after implementation of the Clean Air Acts of 1970 and 1990, and similar efforts abroad. Natural warming occurred, as it had to, per the “Law of Nature” cited above, but the warming was wrongly attributed to coincidentally-rising CO2 levels.

    This warming “paused” when no further significant cleansing was occurring (or was being offset by the growing pollution from China, India, etc.

    The most recent example of the above was the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, and graphs of global temperatures of that era clearly show the decrease and recovery of global temperatures. It is interesting to note that the global cooling (and subsequent recovery) in the northern hemisphere was on the order of 0.5 to 0.6 deg C, not far from the warming caused by the Clean Air Act, suggesting that similar amounts of pollution were removed from the atmosphere

    (see “The Atmospheric Impact of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo Eruption, by Stephen Sellf, et al).

    All of the above is hugely important, since current efforts to reduce warming will, unfortunately, cause more warming. It also eliminates fears of escalating temperatures due to the misguided greenhouse gas hypothesis.

    • Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

      Burl, a theory “where specific meaurements serve little purpose” is a little scary. What happens if the Clean Air Acts has a negligible impact on the global polution?. May be polution in the US has been reduced but it was increased in China, Mexico, ….
      Furthermore, how can we apropriatelly modelize total aerosol radiative forcing?. There are intercomparison studies like this:
      but the values given (to the sensitivities in eq. (2) on pg 14/26), are they based in measurements or in models of models?. That is why I said that IPCC bases its claims in fictitious values of the total aerosol RFs.


    Even if your reduced rain on the African sub Saharan were the result of SST in ajoining oceans, there would still be a resultant reduced cloud flux across the equitotial Atlantic, producing increased SST in the fashion demonstrated in the NiCE presentation. You cannot divorce effect from cause. Soooo which is the chicken and which the egg???? The Nile/rainfall relationship presents a conundrum that can not be dismissed lightly: it is either coincidental or not. Given the river management ambitions, yet the relationship between these events being constant in this timeframe, it is prudent to ensure that we establish facts rather than rely on speculation and guesswork based upon incomplete knowledge.

  36. Antonio:

    As I had noted in my previous post, the Clean Air Acts in the U.S, were also accompanied by similar efforts abroad, so the total decrease in pollutant levels would be far from neglible. In addition, off-setting pollutant levels in China and India in the 1970’s-1990’s, while warming was occurring, were far lower than they are now.

    Also, the timing of the warming parallels the implementation of the Air cleaning efforts, which strengthens the argument that they were responsible for the warming.

    Further, this has happened before. The warming of the 1930’s was also caused by cleaner air, caused by thousands of polluting factories and other activities around the world shutting down during the Great Depression. The warming ended with the increased industrial activity of the World War ii era.

    At least in the United States, today’s somewhat elevated temperatures mirror those of the 1930’s, which had the same origin.

    See: “The Race for the Title of Warmest Year on Record” The 25 hottest years in the United Staes. .About. com/weather

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