The Astonishing Math of Michael Ghil’s Climate Sensitivity

by Robert Ellison

Climate sensitivity is large in the vicinity of tipping points but moderate otherwise.

‘Prediction of weather and climate are necessarily uncertain: our observations of weather and climate are uncertain, the models into which we assimilate this data and predict the future are uncertain, and external effects such as volcanoes and anthropogenic greenhouse emissions are also uncertain. Fundamentally, therefore, therefore we should think of weather and climate predictions in terms of equations whose basic prognostic variables are probability densities ρ(X,t) where X denotes some climatic variable and t denoted time. In this way, ρ(X,t)dV represents the probability that, at time t, the true value of X lies in some small volume dV of state space.’ (Predicting Weather and Climate – Palmer and Hagedorn eds – 2006)

The schematic below makes the point visually. Model solutions diverge as a result of sensitive dependence to variable starting points and boundary conditions – to a boundary defined by the topology of the global strange attractor – the state space – for the particular set of equations. Model solutions bifurcate chaotically.   In climate a bifurcation is commonly called abrupt climate change – which are seen both in reconstructions of past climate changes and in modern records.   These difficult ideas are fundamental principles of climate science and have very practical implications for the evolution of climate this century.

Presentation1

Figure 1: Probabilistic model schematic (Source: Julia Slingo and Tim Palmer –       2011- Uncertainty in weather and climate prediction)

Julia Slingo is the head of the British Met Office and Tim Palmer is the head of the European Centre for Mid-Range Forecasting. The schematic shows small differences – within the limits of precision for data on both initial and boundary conditions – leading to diverging trajectories of solutions and a range of ultimate solutions that are both irreducibly imprecise and unknowable beforehand. The probabilistic forecast relies on running the model hundreds of times using small variations in initial and boundary conditions to at least estimate where the ballpark is. Even then there is no guarantee that it maps one to one to actual climate.

The trajectories of the multiple feasible solutions generated from slightly different starting and boundary conditions include the potential for chaotic bifurcation. Here is a schematic showing bifurcation in complex systems.

Presentation1Figure 2: Bifurcations in chaotic systems (Source: Jim Crutchfield – course notes for   Nonlinear Physics – University of California – Spring 2010)

Catastrophe theory originated with the work of the French mathematician René Thom in studying the dramatic changes in landslides and earthquakes. A small change in a control variable – μ – at a threshold causes a nonlinear shift called a bifurcation in the system.

The global strange attractor is simply the solution space possible for a set of nonlinear equations. The famous ‘butterfly’ plot of Edward Lorenz is the classic example. Lorenz used simplified Navier-Stokes equations for fluid motion – which are the core equations for weather and climate modelling – to build a convection model for the atmosphere.

The nonlinear Lorenz equations are:

dx/dt = P(y – x)
dy/dt = Rx – y – xz
dz/dt = xy – By

where P is the Prandtl number representing the ratio of the fluid viscosity to its thermal conductivity, R represents the difference in temperature between the top and bottom of the system, and B is the ratio of the width to height of the box used to hold the system. The values Lorenz used are P = 10, R = 28, B = 8/3. It simply gives values for changes in x, y and z with changes in time t – allowing the system of equations to be solved through time in three dimensions from an initial starting point.

Presentation1Figure 3: The Lorenz attractor periodic orbital – the strange attractor in the background and the soluion mapped using the values used by Lorenz

The figure above was created using an executable Java file downloaded here. The wings are known as attractor basins and the solution unpredictably shifts from one basin to the other through a saddle node bifurcation. Using slightly different inputs changes the trajectory of the solution through time – it diverges unpredictably from the original solution. This is math that is not in Kansas anymore.

Lorenz started his calculation in the middle of a run by inputting values truncated to three decimal places in place of the original six. By all that was known – it should not have made much of a difference. The rest is history in the discovery of chaos theory as the third great idea – along with relativity and quantum mechanics – of 20th century physics. It has applications in ecology, physiology, economics, electronics, weather, climate, planetary orbits and much else. In climate it is driving a new math of networks in complexity theory.

Michael Ghil is the Distinguished Research Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Ghil explored the idea with an energy balance climate model that follows the evolution of global surface-air temperature with changes in the global radiative balance. The plot originates from work for Ghil’s Ph.D. thesis in 1975 and was reproduced in a 2013 World Scientific Review article to illustrate this other paradigm of climate sensitivity.

The model has two stable states with two saddle node bifurcation points – the latter at the transitions from the blue to red lines from above and below. The control function – μ – here is a normalized insolation value. The current position is μ =1 with a global mean temperature of 287.7K.

It caused a bit of consternation in the 1970’s when it was realised that a very small decrease in insolation is sufficient to cause a rapid transition to an icy planet. Slightly below current insolation levels – or with higher albedo – there is a climate tipping point. Climate sensitivity – γ – is the tangent to the curve as shown. Climate sensitivity increases as you move down the upper curve to the left and becomes arbitrarily large as the system approaches bifurcation.

Presentation1Figure 4: Bifurcation diagram for the solutions of an energy-balance model (EBM), showing the global-mean temperature (T) vs. the fractional changeof insolation (μ) at the top of the atmosphere.(Source: Michael Ghil, A Mathematical Theory of Climate Sensitivity or, How to Deal With Both Anthropogenic Forcing and Natural Variability?)

The details of the model can be found here.

Climate sensitivity is large in the vicinity of tipping points but moderate otherwise. A variable sensitivity – as must be the case in such a finely balanced system as the Earth’s climate. While this is necessarily a simplified approach to a new mathematics of climate sensitivity – it is nonetheless a vastly more sophisticated concept – and overwhelmingly likely to be truer – than back of the envelope constant high or low sensitivity calculations.

In climate a bifurcation – equivalently a phase transition, a catastrophe (in the sense of René Thom), or a tipping point – is commonly referred to as an abrupt climate change.

Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small . . .  

Modern climate records include abrupt changes that are smaller and briefer than in paleoclimate records but show that abrupt climate change is not restricted to the distant past.’ US National Academy of Sciences, 2002, Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises.

The science of abrupt change on decadal scales in the modern record explain observations that have been a puzzle for decades – notably the ‘Great Pacific Climate Shift’ of 1976/1977.

‘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… 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. Similar behavior has been found in coupled ocean/atmosphere models, indicating such behavior may be a hallmark of terrestrial-like climate systems [Tsonis et al., 2007].

The subject of decadal to inter-decadal climate variability is of intrinsic importance not only scientifically but also for society as a whole. Interpreting past variability and making informed projections about potential future variability requires (i) identifying the dynamical processes internal to the climate system that underlie such variability [see, e.g., Mantua et al., 1997; Zhang et al., 1997, 2007; Knight et al., 2005; Dima and Lohmann, 2007], and (ii) recognizing the chain of events that mark the onset of large amplitude variability events, i.e., shifts in the climate state. Such shifts mark changes in the qualitative behavior of climate modes of variability, as well as breaks in trends of hemispheric and global mean temperature. The most celebrated of these shifts in the instrumental record occurred in 1976/77. That particular winter ushered in an extended period in which the tropical Pacific Ocean was warmer than normal, with strong El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events occurring after that time, contrasting with the weaker ENSO variability in the decades before [Hoerling et al., 2004; Huang et al., 2005]. Global mean surface temperature also experienced a trend break, transitioning from cooling in the decades prior to 1976/77 to the strong warming that characterized the remainder of the century.’ Kyle L. Swanson and Anastasios A. Tsonis, 2009, Has the climate recently shifted?

These multi-decadal climate shifts correspond precisely to changes in Pacific Ocean circulation, in global hydrological patterns and in changes in the trajectory of surface temperature. The multi-decadal Pacific Ocean pattern can be seen in El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) proxies for up to 1000 years. In theory we then have a mechanism – albeit a complex one – that better explains climate data than the old forcing paradigm.

Presentation1Figure 5: The cool ‘V’ characteristic of a cool Pacific decadal mode

The abrupt shifts in Pacific circulation involve changes in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in the north-eastern Pacific and coincident changes in the frequency and intensity of ENSO events. Increased frequency and intensity of La Niña occur with a cool mode PDO and vice versa. It is associated with changes in wind, currents and cloud that change the energy dynamic of the planet. Cool decadal modes cool the planetary surface and warm modes add to the surface temperatures. (e.g. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8703)

Although a significant factor in global climate on the scale of decades – the Pacific Ocean modes are part of a global climate system that is variable at many scales in time and space.

‘The global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems – atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’ Michael Ghil

The theory suggests that the system is pushed past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. It produces extremes of weather at phase transitions that Didier Sornette has called dragon-kings. Climate in this theory is an emergent property of the shift in global energies as the system settles down into a new climate state.

In the way of true science – it suggests at least decadal predictability. The current cool Pacific Ocean state seems more likely than not to persist for 20 to 40 years from 2002. There are scientific bonus points for having predicted this a decade or more ago – as some did. The flip side is that – beyond the next few decades – the future evolution of the global mean surface temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum.

Biosketch.  My degrees are in environmental science and engineering – but my bent is writing – technical, journalistic and creative. For a number of years I have been looking for a breakthrough way of expressing these ideas. A way of breasting the fog to explain these ideas in ways that are comprehensible to someone with a moderate education from either side of the divide. Is this it? I don’t know. They are intrinsically difficult if fundamental climate concepts that most people have not fully appreciated to date – and I have done my best. I am not a sceptic. Although if you question or challenge what are most commonly simplistic narratives of the climate war – you are inevitably metaphorically tarred and feathered. So I suppose I must be. That this happens to people like Judith Curry, Anastasion Tsonis and Lennart Bergstrom is a dismal episode in a querulous science.

JC note:  This is a guest post, that has evolved from comments made at Climate Etc. by Chief Hydrologist/Generalissimo Skippy/Robert Ellison.  As with all guest posts, keep your comments relevant and civil.

478 responses to “The Astonishing Math of Michael Ghil’s Climate Sensitivity

  1. The moth of the Holocene circles its way ever closer to the flame of the glaciated attractor. AnthroCO2 can only boost its orbit briefly.
    ==============

    • In the failure of climate science lies a lesson for us all. Societies also are in a constant fight against destabilizing forces at the boundaries. Ultimately, the center caves in and change for better or worse is both expected and unavoidable.

    • I’d guess that CO2 mitigation is closer to the economic chaos attractor than CO2 concentrations are to any climate attractor.

    • CO2 and every other (A)GW is kept to zero on a water planet by the water cycle. The GHE is set by cloud area and albedo.

      Here is my diagram: _______———_______——–_______

    • This is all good and valid stuff about attractors and uncertainty, but it has to be noted that there is only evidence of two stable regimes in climate: glaciation and inter-glacial. Even in periods with TEN TIMES more atmospheric CO2 than today.

      Beyond that the system is bounded by strong negative feedbacks, the principal one being the Plank feedback, that are not going to be over-ridden.

      If Slingo is getting into this she will presumably be trying to suggest we are dangerously close a boundary, with high sensitivity and in risk flipping into a catastrophically warmer state. There is not evidence that that is even possible.

      All this does is to point out the futility of climate modelling with the current lack of understanding of essential elements of the system , insufficient resolution to model key elements of climate and with unreliable historical data against which to calibrate models.

      If our society still exists at all in 2100 , get back to me about the state of climate modelling.

    • Robert I Ellison

      There are multiple climate states – many – there seem to be limits but many steps along the way.

  2. Is catastrophe theory just chaos theory with consequences…?

    • Wagathon, that’s really, really good. I can use it – and often. Thanks much.

    • The point of catastrophe theory was that there were very few catastrophe forms, I think seven up to a control space of three dimensions.

      As far as I know it has nothing to do with chaos.

      Tipping points hasn’t much to do with either.

      It’s more like if your solution changes form at some point, then you have a tipping point, rather than vice versa.

      I think of it as having to do with cows, mostly.

      • Imagine the surface of a large ball — partly comprised of large islands mostly surrounded by an even larger mass of fluid moving in swirling vortices as the result of revolutionary and rotational forces — charged with solar energy, and then this big volcano erupts and blocks out the sun, and water vapor relatively suddenly turns into a liquid and then all of a sudden, the liquid turns into a solid, and…

    • Robert I Ellison

      The common point is bifurcation.

      Even seen a bifurcated cow? It’s a catastrophe.

    • @Robert Ellison

      Well that is certainly beyond the normal tipping of cows.

    • Catastrophe theory is chaos theory with pretta (anag.) You could almost say it’s pretty chaos theory, but that would be a contradiction in terms.

  3. David Springer

    I agree. The tipping point the earth is flirting with is the end of the interglacial. Presumably CO2 moves us away from the tipping point but ironically it may be the other way around as a warmer ocean with larger surface area can cause more snow to accumulate in the winter helping glaciers persist through the summer. Uncertainty is legion.

    • An ocean with larger surface area keeps the albedo such that we absorb more energy than otherwise. Herman and I can’t settle this yet.
      =====================

    • pokerguy (aka al neipris)

      “Uncertainty is legion.”
      No doubt. And yet if I were bound and determined to worry about something, it would be the almost certain end of our current interglacial.

    • Don’t worry, pg; all seeing Neil deGrasse Tyson is assuring the Cosmos that glaciation is half a precession cycle away.
      =================

    • Heh, will the cosmos listen to him? We know the shills and marks will. Who could ask for anything more?
      ===========

    • But do those extended Holocenes come when he do call them?
      ==============

    • pokerguy (aka al neipris)

      “But do those extended Holocenes come when he do call them?”

      Like happy dogs, with tails awagging

    • Kim wrote: An ocean with larger surface area keeps the albedo such that we absorb more energy than otherwise. Herman and I can’t settle this yet.

      Yes the warm oceans have low Albedo and keep trying to warm. This keeps the Polar regions open longer to allow the ice to build more up during the warm times.

      This an important part of the wonderful Polar Ice Cycle.
      The oceans will cool and freeze after the ice on land advances enough. This may have already happened in the Southern Polar Oceans. or maybe not yet.

    • In the cooling phase, the land cools first and the oceans cool later. In a warming phase, the land warms first and the oceans warm later.

    • “The tipping point the earth is flirting with is the end of the interglacial.”
      —–
      Well, that’s not what the data and research are saying, but I suppose it makes for a good storyline.

    • R. Gates wrote: “The tipping point the earth is flirting with is the end of the interglacial.”

      If you are talking about moving from a Medieval Warm Period into a Little Ice Age, that will happen.

      If you are talking about moving from an interglacial, of the last eleven thousand years, into a Major Ice Age, that will not happen.

      To go into a major ice age, the oceans must be higher and warmer than they have been, in over a hundred thousand years, to provide the moisture for major ice sheets. We can’t get there from here. Where are you going to get enough water? It is locked up in ice.

    • The leap second data shows that less leap seconds are being added. That means the spin rate of the earth has increased. That means the oceans are now dropping and the ice placed closer to the spin axis.

      http://popesclimatetheory.com/page28.html

    • If you look to the heavens for temperature regulation, you will not get it right. Temperature is regulated tightly around a set point that has been in place for eleven thousand years. Whatever causes that is right here and not in the stars. The temperature that polar sea ice melts and freezes is the thermostat for earth.

    • **To go into a major ice age, the oceans must be higher and warmer than they have been, in over a hundred thousand years, to provide the moisture for major ice sheets. We can’t get there from here. Where are you going to get enough water? It is locked up in ice.**

      If you had to pick a region, where does major ice age start. North America or Europe or where? Antarctic polar sea ice getting larger?
      Do rising sea levels affect ocean circulation in terms of Bering straits?
      Ie:
      “BOULDER–In a vivid example of how a small geographic feature can have far-reaching impacts on climate, new research shows that water levels in the Bering Strait may have helped drive global climate patterns during ice age episodes dating back more than 100,000 years.”
      http://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/1243/bering-strait-influenced-ice-age-climate-patterns-worldwide

      Could a mere 10 meter rise affect Bering Straits enough to have much effect?

    • Could a mere 10 meter rise affect Bering Straits enough to have much effect? When the oceans are up 10 meters in the Bering Straits, it is up 10 meters all over the earth’s oceans.

      Ten meters does affect the whole world. The Bering Straits are are a small part of this. When oceans are warm and high and wet, it snows more.

    • **Could a mere 10 meter rise affect Bering Straits enough to have much effect? When the oceans are up 10 meters in the Bering Straits, it is up 10 meters all over the earth’s oceans.**
      Yes, but Bering Straits is currently about 50 meters deep, if global sea level increases by 10 meters, then Bering Straits will then be about 60 meter deep, and have a significant increase in potential volume of flow rate.

      So when sea level is 50 meters lower, then the Bering Strait is land bridge and cuts off any flow [though tides could make it variable and also frozen ice could be another variable factor]. When sea level is 40 meter lower, if not frozen solid, one will have constant flow. When 30 meter lower, you are more than doubling the rate as compared to when 40 meter lower. And when it goes from current sea level to 10 meter higher, there as significant increase [+20% of a increase in volume].

      **Ten meters does affect the whole world. The Bering Straits are are a small part of this. When oceans are warm and high and wet, it snows more.**
      Yes, but ref gave talks about 1.5 C temperature difference when Bering Strait is a land bridge [because it affects Atlantic ocean poleward flow]. So if one significantly [20%] increase flow of Bering straits, one just have this volume difference, but perhaps there also other factors.
      “This flow is instrumental to regulating the strength of a current known as the meridional overturning circulation, a key driver of heat from the tropics to the poles.” And:
      “With the flow of relatively fresh water from the Pacific to the Atlantic choked off, the Atlantic grew more saline. The saltier and heavier water led to an intensification of the Atlantic’s meridional overturning circulation, a current of rising and sinking water that, like a conveyor belt, pumps warmer water northward from the tropics.”

      Other than simple volume difference, as guess it seem one could also change in nature of the flow. A volume difference should result less average turbulence and 10 meter deeper water. And it seems that one could warmer surface water than we have now, but colder water at depth [50 to 60 meter depth]. So addition to volume the question was could 10 meter increase also alter “other things”.

    • Water into and out of the Arctic is a very important part of the Polar Ice Cycles. During the Major Ice Ages of the past water flow into and out of the Arctic was totally cut off and it took almost a hundred thousand years to melt enough ice sheets and get the water back into the oceans to get water flowing in the Arctic.
      Since the Younger Dryas event, during the last major warming, there has been enough water in the oceans to always keep water flowing in the Arctic. Now, a Little Ice Age does not last as long as Major Ice Ages Lasted. Now, the Arctic freezes over when it is cold and thaws when oceans are warmer. Small changes in temperature now turn the snowfall on and off by opening and closing the Arctic. This is the new, wonderful, normal.
      The temperature that Polar Ice melts and freezes is the thermostat for Earth’s Temperature.

    • Most of the Atlantic flow of water into the Arctic does circle around and flow out on the Atlantic side. Ask Tom Wysmuller to explain this to you.
      http://www.colderside.com/Colderside/Home.html

    • Ah, but right now, under today’s current conditions, the Antarctic sea ice set an all-time record last October at nearly 20 Mkm^2. For 3 years now (since May 20111) the Antarctic sea ice anomaly has been steadily increasing; as late as May 8 this year the Antarctic sea ice anomaly was 97% the size of Greenland. Three days ago, the Antarctic sea anomaly was “only” 16% of the entire Antarctic sea ice area. 1/6 MORE Antarctic sea ice than “normal” area for this date …. A bit more than the published minor “1 – 2%” isn’t it?

      Of course, in mid-September, the Arctic sea ice is at its annual minimum, and the Arctic sea ice minimums have been getting smaller the past 30 years. But do these smaller arctic minimums in mid-September really matter? At mid-September, at 3.0 Mkm^2, the edge of the Arctic ice is a rough cap over the pole varying between 79-81 north latitude. Even at noon, that means the sun is no higher than 8 degrees above the horizon. radiation even into a “dark” open ocean is no more than 50 watts at noon. But, reflection from that same open ocean at 5-8 degrees yields an albedo of 0.25 to 0.30. Even on clear days, very, very little energy is absorbed into the Arctic waters between August 30 and October 30.

      At the same time of year that the Arctic sun is only 4-8 degrees above the horizon, the edge of that ever-increasing Antarctic ice is at latitude 60-59-58 south. At 59 south latitude, every extra square km of “extra” Antarctic sea ice receives five times the solar radiation every day that an equal area of “melted” Arctic might have reflected. Solar elevation angles are very high, albedo of the newly-frozen ice is very high, and a lot of energy is reflected back into space.

      So, does an ice age start in the south? We are losing (reflecting) far more energy from that 16% “excess” sea ice around the Antarctic seven months of the year, than we are from that little bit of melted arctic sea ice the other five months.

    • –Even at noon, that means the sun is no higher than 8 degrees above the horizon. radiation even into a “dark” open ocean is no more than 50 watts at noon. But, reflection from that same open ocean at 5-8 degrees yields an albedo of 0.25 to 0.30. Even on clear days, very, very little energy is absorbed into the Arctic waters between August 30 and October 30.–

      The poles don’t receive much sunlight. Even the temperate region does not receive much sunlight. The tropics receive most of the sunlight. Or region where sun at noon is about 45 degree or higher above horizon receive the most sunlight. And such a condition occurs over entire year in tropics.
      At Equinox this angle of above horizon extend 45 degree north and south latitude. At poles it’s either beginning of 6 month daylight or end of 6 months of daylight and start of 6 months of night.
      So let’s say it’s northern hemisphere spring equinox, March 20th. At north pole sun will at 0 degrees above horizon- lighting the sky. If zoom down to arctic circle, and at noon, the sun will be about 23 degrees above horizon,
      and then zoom down to Milan, Italy at noon, sun will 45 degrees above the horizon. Going back to North pole, and waiting for midsummer or when sun is directly over Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees latitude, at the north pole the sun will be 23.5 degree above horizon, during the whole day and circling around. And on midsummer day and at midnight anywhere within the Arctic Circle, one has daylight- at least in sense sky will be lit [terrain and elevation will affect if you have direct sunlight. And at arctic circle at noon, sun will be higher than 45 degrees above the horizon- on midsummer day. So this at 66 degree latitude. But if instead one at say 75 degree, than it would less than 40 degrees at noon on midsummer day, and here one gets more days around the day midsummer of “midnight sun”. And near the north pole getting the most- or 6 months of no night.

      I would say that when the sun does not get above 10 degree over horizon, you would get plenty of light but not much much in terms of heat from the sunlight. Or if pointing at the sun and you getting 100 watts per square, then you are not going to warmed much by that sunlight. On Mars one get about 600 watts at moon, and Ceres probably get more than 100 watts per square meter at noon. Somewhere around 100 watts per square meter is the frostline in our solar system- where comets are warmed to about -150 C and start evaporating frozen CO2 and H20 from blazing sun in the hard vacuum of space. Or Jupiter distance is about 52 watts per square meter- and check out that Moon called Europa.

      So if the sun is at 10 degrees above horizon, the ocean water will reflecting a lot sunlight. But question is how much sunlight on clear day is reaching, say, a square meter of ocean. There two things reducing the amount of sunlight reaching a square meter of ocean: the angle of the sun and the amount atmosphere the sunlight must go thru because it’s at such low angle.
      If we remove the atmosphere [say, go to the Moon] and we point say solar panel at the sun, one would get full sunlight [1360 watts per square meter].
      And solar panel would near vertical [80 degrees]. But we want to know how much sunlight reaches it, if it’s level to the surface [as ocean generally are- other than waves].
      Now if instead the sun was at 30 degree angle, it’s going to cast shadow about twice it’s length. And so a panel on level ground, would get about 1/2 of the full sunlight- if sun was at 30 degrees. But at 10 degrees it would have longer shadow, about 5 times the length, or 1/5th the watts per square meter.
      Now, go back to having an atmosphere, and at 10 degree angle, the sun would also be going thru about 5 times more atmosphere.
      So when sun at zenith it goes thru 1 atmosphere, and at 10 degree angle it’s going thru 5 times more atmosphere.
      And of course one does one need to go to polar regions, as every day [twice a day] the sun wherever you are will be at 10 degree above horizon- near dawn and sunset.
      Or sun move about 15 degree per hour. Or 180 degree divided by 15 is
      12 hours, so within the hour after dawn or before sunset.

      The other problem is ocean has depth. So if took a solar panel point at the sun at 10 degrees over horizon [80 degrees] and then dropped under the water [at same angle]. The sunlight would need to go thru about 5 meter of water to 0 meters of water. Plus another factor is ocean diffracts the sunlight. [so that makes it a bit less than 5 meters of water the sunlight goes thru].
      So a lot less sunlight and nearly all goes towards heating surface water- plus don’t forget the water surface is reflecting large chunk of the sunlight.

  4. Freeman Dyson said, “any good scientist ought to be a skeptic.” Does Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC, believe that? No, but interestingly, even Pachauri finally concedes there has been no global warming over the last 17 years. The problem is that global warming alarmists like Pachauri and the UN-IPCC are only skeptical of anything that conflicts with a preconceived notion that they can accurately determine the average temperature of the globe and accurately tease out a trend in the data. Their vision of the future is the only proof they need that increasing atmospheric CO2 is the proximate cause for an inexorable warming trend and believe it is a crime that humanity does not admit its guilt for the CO2 that that is causing it — tipping the scales from a hunky-dory Earth to a glacier-melting, polar bear-drowning, ocean rising, specie-killing, snowless planet.

  5. George Turner

    There are several mega engineering projects we could do, such as removing a big hunk of Panama, widening or damming the Bering Straight or the narrows between Antarctica and Cape Horn, that would allow us to better explore the climate’s phase space. :)

    The science on this particular oceanic configuration is settled (I read it in the newspapers), so to advance our understanding we really need to poke this rock with a big stick.

  6. Why does this essay remind me of “punctuated equilibria”?

    • David Springer

      Punk Eek is about new species appearing suddenly in the fossil record then persisting for long periods of time without significant change. Stephen J. Gould famously said that the greatest secret in paleontology is that the evidence refutes the very theory upon which it is based – Darwinian gradualism.

      I suppose new climate states appearing suddenly followed by comparatively long periods of stasis is sort of like that. But evolution doesn’t repeat itself while the current bifurcating climate does.

  7. Robert Ellison

    Quick read was quite enjoyable–clear. Got to run but hope to get back to this.

  8. Trenberth’s ‘tradgedy’ is that he knew there was heat but couldn’t find it. For the mainstream media, the ‘tragedy’ is not that that they know climate changes but that the change is a catastrophe.

    The climate is neither the hottest ever nor the coldest. These are neither the best nor worst of times either. The mainstream has not gotten any smarter nor has education gotten any better. In other words, most everything is the usual chaos. The climate hasn’t changed much for over a decade–there has been no global warming in many years and very little warming since 1940–but, some things are different–e.g., now, chaos is a catastrophe and that is a tragedy.

    Fear always springs from ignorance ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  9. Actual temperature and sea level data shows that climate is extremely well bounded, on the high and low sides and it has stayed inside the same bounds for eleven thousand years.

    Climate models are not bounded. All of them go outside of the bounds all of the time.

    They do not include the Polar Ice Cycles. The temperature that Polar Ice Freezes and Thaws is the the Thermostat.

    It always snows more when the Thermostat turns the snowfall on. It always snows less when the Thermostat turns the snowfall off.

    Put this in the Models and they will become bounded, like real Earth Data.

    • A man-made fraction of a trace gas will not stop the snowfall that always happens when the Polar Oceans are thawed and delivering moisture for snowfall. The upper bound will not be violated. The cooling will always stop because the snowfall stops when the Polar Oceans freeze. Look at the data. A warm periods always follows a cold period and a cold period always follows a warm period.

      ALWAYS FOR ELEVEN THOUSAND YEARS IN THE SAME BOUNDS!

    • But what about increased area of the ocean lowering the albedo such that the Earth can continue to absorb energy? Somehow, I get the idea that the potential area coverable by albedo raising ice and snow will(can) dominate that greater ocean albedo lowering effect.
      ===========

    • IR cools the earth with temperature to the fourth power. That is powerful and it sets an upper bound for temperature, but that bound is much higher than earth has experienced for fifty million years. Earth temperature started coming down as Polar Ice Developed. You can watch the temperature come down and watch the regulation of temperature develop as the Polar Ice Cycles Evolved. The most recent million years had tighter regulation. The most recent eleven thousand years has had extremely tightly regulated bounds. The special event, Younger Dryas, put the ocean level at the proper level at the right time, during a the last major warming, to mutate the regulation into the modern cycle.

      Examine actual data.
      The data show a set point with powerful regulation.
      The temperature looks just like my house in summer.
      The temperature goes up until the thermostat turns on the cooling and then goes down until the thermostat turns off the cooling.

      Offer a different Theory that has a set point with powerful regulation around it.

    • A wonderful perpetual cycle machine.
      ===============

  10. This is all so much garbage cast in a just-so narrative. Why write down the Lorenz equations when we know that that does not describe the system? Is it because you are trying to fit the results to meet your agenda?

    It is very obvious that ENSO is predictable and lines up with the boundary conditions. This is a nonlinear system but by no means is it chaotic.

    What is left is that climate evolves alongside the overriding forcing. This forcing comes from the excess GHGs in the atmosphere.

    • Plants, and their prey, object to your excesses, Web.
      ==========

    • Robert I Ellison

      The Lorenz equations show why models are chaotic. Abrupt change in ocean and atmospheric circulation suggest that – as the NAS says – these changes are driven by internal climate processes rather than external forcing.

      The example is the Pacific Ocean.

      An abrupt transition from predominantly blue to predominantly red in 1976/77 in the ‘Great Pacific Climate Shift’ that can be eyeballed in without difficulty.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Why write down the Lorenz equations when we know that that does not describe the system? ”

      mistaking the part for the whole.

    • ceresco kid

      “This is all so much garbage…..” Coming from a man who supports a world view that clings to one failed prediction after another and he is criticizing a man who has a world view that is much more in line with the observational data. What is wrong with this picture?

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: It is very obvious that ENSO is predictable and lines up with the boundary conditions.

      It is pretty obvious that the ENSO has never actually been predicted to within any pre-specified accuracy over any pre-specified time. To call it “predictable” is a stretch.

      I think we can be confident that the distributions of the elements of the multivariate ENSO index will be pretty similar in the next 30 years to what they have been in the last 30 years. That is a sort of “prediction”; but I think you have something more precise in mind. But you have not shared with us what it is yet.

      The point of the Lorenz equations is that even a very simple and perfectly well uderstood system can exhibit non-intuitive and unpredictable behaviour. A very high dimensional system such as the climate system should be expected to be even more non-intuitive and unpredictable.

    • “…these changes are driven by internal climate processes rather than external forcing.”
      —-
      Completely an incorrect understanding of a dragon-king or abrupt climate changes. The climate system does not internally generate spontaneous reorganization– a terribly poor interpretation of the actual dynamics. Some external forcing and related feedbacks — either large and sudden, such as a volcano or asteroid impact, or the accumulated forcing from Astronomical forcing (Milankovitch), or of course, one of the most unique forcings the planet has seen– the Human Carbon Volcano.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small . . .

      Modern climate records include abrupt changes that are smaller and briefer than in paleoclimate records but show that abrupt climate change is not restricted to the distant past.’ US National Academy of Sciences, 2002, Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises.

      Well I don’t think the NAS agrees Randal.

      ‘We develop the concept of “dragon-kings” corresponding to meaningful outliers, which are found to coexist with power laws in the distributions of event sizes under a broad range of conditions in a large variety of systems. These dragon-kings reveal the existence of mechanisms of self-organization that are not apparent otherwise from the distribution of their smaller siblings.’

      Nor really does Didier Sornette.

    • Skippy,

      You are confusing terms and concepts, and perhaps it is unintentional, I can’t be sure, but the climate system does not just suddenly and spontaneously reorganize. There is always some external forcing or forcings, to tip the system toward a state in which a cascading series of positive feedbacks rapidly overwhelm negative feedbacks, and the system reorganizes into a new state. Every such reorganization in the paleoclimate record has an associated external forcing or forcings, fast or slow, that lead to the tipping of the system. The tipping point is literally when the negative feedbacks are overwhelmed by the cascading positive feedbacks.

    • Rgates

      What is your definition of a climate reorganisation?. A change of temperature of half a degree c? 2 degrees c? A decade of heavy rain when previously the climate had been dry? a century of these new conditions? Thanks.

      Tonyb

    • Robert I Ellison

      Randal

      ‘‘Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small . . .

      Modern climate records include abrupt changes that are smaller and briefer than in paleoclimate records but show that abrupt climate change is not restricted to the distant past.’ US National Academy of Sciences, 2002, Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises.

      Abrupt climate changes were especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. Thus, greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events. The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected.’ NAS

      The first quote was in the head post – which talks – pictures and everything – about control variables – μ – which is used interchangeably with forcing in complex systems. Forcing is used in the title of the Ghil reference which is central to the post. The second quote is in the comments.

      You start of with a line that I am confusing the issue? Try reading and comprehending instead of just making unwarranted aspersions on my intellectual capacity – and you will waste less of everyone’s time with trivial, misguided and supercilious comment about stuff that everyone understands and that you seem to imagine you have just invented in a blinding insight. It’s all a bit odd.

      Seriously – step it up or I will add you to my ignore list with webby and Joshua. Won’t be nearly as much fun then – will it?

    • “Rgates

      What is your definition of a climate reorganisation?. A change of temperature of half a degree c? 2 degrees c? A decade of heavy rain when previously the climate had been dry? a century of these new conditions? Thanks.

      Tonyb”
      _____
      Certainly Tony, the best and easiest way to think about these climate shifts is to maintain full climate energy system perspective. In doing such, we can more clear see periods of energy accumulation in the system and energy dissipation, thus for example, the MWP was a period when the system was accumulating energy when compared to the overall period of the LIA from about 1300-1900 AD. Certainly within these larger periods there are natural fluctuations, but the general trend is what counts. As you’ve well pointed out, during the LIA there were periods of warmth and cold, but from an energy perspective, beginning around 1300, or just prior, the net energy in the climate system begin to decline before bottoming out in the mid-1700’s or so, and then began a slow rise (with setbacks of course).

      So within these larger climate regimes, lasting as they can many centuries, there are the sub-regimes, lasting a few decades, and both the major regimes and the sub-regimes are a combination of natural variability and the sum of all external forcings and associated feedbacks. Natural variability alone does not seem to be indicated in creating these major regime changes, such as we saw in the MWP or LIA. It takes some combination of external forcings to tip the system into an energy-accumulate or energy-dissipate mode. Volcanoes and solar insolation changes seem to be the main natural external forcing, with the thankfully very occasional asteroid. In modern times, it seems our HCV is the main external forcing now influencing the climate.

      In our modern period of warming, the general trend is of course a very strong gain in ocean heat content now for many decades, and lots of latent heat of fusion going into the the general global decline in glacial ice mass, dominated of course by Greenland and Antarctica ice mass losses. So, should the period of warming continue (caused as it most likely is by GH gas increases), this externally forced warming might lead the system to some true “tipping points” in which the system truly undergoes a radical change such as is recently reported to likely have occurred for Antarctic glaciers in which there now seems to be an inevitable loss.

    • Marler said:


      I think we can be confident that the distributions of the elements of the multivariate ENSO index will be pretty similar in the next 30 years to what they have been in the last 30 years. That is a sort of “prediction”; but I think you have something more precise in mind. But you have not shared with us what it is yet.

      Ok, I will share. This is the latest post on my ENSO / SOI modeling activity:
      http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/

      The model is very simple and it features an ENSO forcing driver that maps to the clearly periodic QBO, and features a sinusoidal wave equation modulation that is typically found in sloshing behavior.

      This is basic mathematical physics that apparently goes way over the heads of Cheef and his authority figures of Tsonis and Ghil;

    • ENSO is predictable in that we know it will always cycle.

      It is not predictable because we do not know when.


    • popesclimatetheory | May 30, 2014 at 10:46 pm |

      ENSO is predictable in that we know it will always cycle.

      It is not predictable because we do not know when.

      and your proof is exactly where?
      .

    • and your proof is exactly where?
      Actual past data. The timing has not been predicted with skill.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: d2x(t)dt2+[a−2qcos(2ωt)]x(t)=CWsin(Qt+ψ)+QBsin(Wt+ϕ)

      The initial conditions of x(0) and x'(0) are also included but are weaker terms than the long-term cyclic forcings. This has to do with the fact that climate is based on boundary conditions whereas weather is based on initial conditions as described by Andrew Lacis [3] . In this case, the boundary conditions are set by the ENSO forcing functions, which will synchronize over time, thereby over-riding the initial conditions of any point in time.

      That was a good link. Thank you. I do not know why you do not publish your work — I think that you ought to.

      But where was the prediction: over what time span, with respect to what data, and with respect to what standard of accuracy.

      It seems that you are working your way toward an actual prediction. I think that will be good. The link was dated May 27.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WEbHubTelescope: This is basic mathematical physics that apparently goes way over the heads of Cheef and his authority figures of Tsonis and Ghil;

      It does not go over anyone’s heads, and Robert Ellison treats Tsonis and Ghil as sources of very good scholarship, not “authority figures”. It should be noted that Tsonis and Ghil have published their work, and it is at least as sophisticated as yours. Your work is mostly curve-fitting, and the relationship to “mathematical physics” is at best heuristic (not what Robert Ellison called “homeopathic”, though that was a good joke, iimo.)

    • Why should I publish the work?

      The hypocrites in the denialist world have nothing but derision for what they consider the incestuous nature of climate science peer-review.

      They are hypocrites because they both demand peer review and deride it once it has been done.

      97% apparently isn’t good enough, eh?

    • Please name a scientific analysis that links theory to experiment that doesn’t include some variation of “curve fitting”?

      You can’t because everything at least has the concept of scaling. Scaling is fitting a curve from one manifold to another.

      What Ghil and Tsonis do is garbage because it is way too complicated for its own good. Yet that seems to impress the knuckle-draggers, like the Cheef.

      If you don’t believe me, look at Ghil’s web site that the Cheef seems to be fawning over:
      http://web.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd//RESEARCH/enso_regr.html

      Jeez, I don’t do anything as stoopid as Ghil does in picking out heuristic EOF functions from the observational data. That is about as mindless a data mining tactic as I have seen,

      Compare that to what I do, which is to come up with an actual physical model that uses known physical parameters. I then integrate the differential equation over one hundred years to come up with the solution.

      Do you not realize that integrating a differential equation over this long an interval can go haywire at any time (think CHAOS! LOL!) , yet this formulation does a good job in keeping sync over the interval. Why is that?

      Ummmm … because it is probably correct. And it has nothing to do with chaos. Who’d have thunk it? Not the knuckle-draggers, that’s for sure.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: 97% apparently isn’t good enough, eh?

      No it is not. Besides being based on a dubious method, it includes people who think that human land use changes cause climate changes.

      Please name a scientific analysis that links theory to experiment that doesn’t include some variation of “curve fitting”?.

      I agree that all science includes curve-fitting. This seems to be your first admission that your model includes some.


    • No it is not. Besides being based on a dubious method, it includes people who think that human land use changes cause climate changes.

      You mean like Cappy Dallas? He isn’t even in the 97%.


      I agree that all science includes curve-fitting. This seems to be your first admission that your model includes some.

      Just to scale a curve will require curve fitting. No one is seriously going to believe that one can estimate the amplitude of the SOI pressure difference from first principles and then overlay that time series with the data without rescaling the two to match to some degree.

      Cripes, I could put my model next to and without overlaying the actual data and you likely wouldn’t be able to distinguish the two.

      Hunting down a criminal from available evidence is essentially curve fitting. Tell the FBI that they can’t do curve fitting to identify a serial killer. I bet that would go over real well, har har.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope:Why should I publish the work?

      Somebody might read it.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: Cripes, I could put my model next to and without overlaying the actual data and you likely wouldn’t be able to distinguish the two.

      Same with Vaughan Pratt’s model for global mean temp. An actual prediction would carry more weight.

    • 97% apparently isn’t good enough, eh?

      The 97% is all inside the consensus clique.
      That is not good for anything.
      Science is always Skeptical.

      A 97% group does not do anything that resembles real science.

  11. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Chief Hydrologist/Generalissimo Skippy/Robert Ellison backs-off from the chaos-theory bafflegab prediction  It would seem that we are in cooling mode for decades.

    Are you backing away from your (oft-repeated) prediction of cooling, Skippy?

    That would be smart, given the mathematics of large-dimension dynamical flows and given also the global-scale observational data.

    The global climate’s state-space has millions of dimensions (not just four), eh Robert Ellison?

    “In brief, one’s intuition in higher dimensional space is not worth a damn!”
       — George Dantzig

    Conclusion  Mathematics-and-models-and-observational science all three agree that predicable climate-change emerges from chaotic weather.

    That principle is obvious to *EVERYONE* — especially young students, young scientists, and young voters — eh Climate Etc readers?

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Bafflegab just about describes it. I would top it off with a heaping of word salad.

      The issue with cheef is that he is a scientific hypocrite. First he asserts that climate is unpredictable and will veer off into any direction due to chaos. In the next moment he will assert that cooling is guaranteed for a “decade or three”.

      These two assertions conflict. And as Fan says, you can look up what cheef has written. Just google “decade or three” on this site.

    • I plain don’t understand why you consider this a contradiction, unless it is the way you’ve constructed his argument, Web.
      ===================

    • The linearities are predictable, the nonlinearities not. C’mon, now.
      ===============

    • He predikts a direktion. He predikts cooling.

      kimple enough or too khaotic for you?

    • Robert I Ellison

      Fundamentally, therefore, therefore we should think of weather and climate predictions in terms of equations whose basic prognostic variables are probability densities ρ(X,t) where X denotes some climatic variable and t denoted time. In this way, ρ(X,t)dV represents the probability that, at time t, the true value of X lies in some small volume dV of state space.

      The math of models shows that that what emerges is at best a PDF of solutions in a range that is irreducibly imprecise. It is moreover an imprecision that is unknown at this time.

      In each of these model–ensemble comparison studies, there are important but difficult questions: How well selected are the models for their plausibility? How much of the ensemble spread is reducible by further model improvements? How well can the spread can be explained by analysis of model differences? How much is irreducible imprecision in an AOS?

      Simplistically, despite the opportunistic assemblage of the various AOS model ensembles, we can view the spreads in their results as upper bounds on their irreducible imprecision. Optimistically, we might think this upper bound is a substantial overestimate because AOS models are evolving and improving. Pessimistically, we can worry that the ensembles contain insufficient samples of possible plausible models, so the spreads may underestimate the true level of irreducible imprecision (cf., ref. 23). Realistically, we do not yet know how to make this assessment with confidence. http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.long

      Models are not all that relevant for prediction of climate shifts.

      The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10136&page=1

      Perhaps more relevant to decadal shifts.

      “The winds change the ocean currents which in turn affect the climate. In our study, we were able to identify and realistically reproduce the key processes for the two abrupt climate shifts,” says Prof. Latif. “We have taken a major step forward in terms of short-term climate forecasting, especially with regard to the development of global warming. However, we are still miles away from any reliable answers to the question whether the coming winter in Germany will be rather warm or cold.” Prof. Latif cautions against too much optimism regarding short-term regional climate predictions: “Since the reliability of those predictions is still at about 50%, you might as well flip a coin.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822105042.htm

      In the probabilistic forecasts based on the ‘quasiperiodicity’ of these ocean states. Such as for US drought risk that I keep pointing at – from before the drought.

      Although long considered implausible, there is growing promise for probabilistic climatic forecasts one or two decades into the future based on quasiperiodic variations in sea surface temperatures (SSTs), salinities, and dynamic ocean topographies. Such long-term forecasts could help water managers plan for persistent drought across the conterminous United States (1). The urgency for such planning became evident when much of the U.S. was gripped by drought in 1996 and again in 1999–2003, evoking images of the dry 1930s and 1950s.
      http://www.pnas.org/content/101/12/4136.full.pdf

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/USdrought_zps2629bb8c.jpg.html?sort=3&o=138

      Draw your own conclusions about the likelihood of drought conditions persisting.

      In the way of true science – it suggests at least decadal predictability. The current cool Pacific Ocean state – which cools the surface of the planet – seems more likely than not to persist for 20 to 40 years from 2002. There are scientific bonus points for having predicted this a decade or more ago – as some did. The flip side is that – beyond the next few decades – the future evolution of the global mean surface temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum.

    • Kompelling, JKH; I respect you for your filiality, little else. Yet on I read you.
      ================

    • Robert I Ellison

      Let me reformat this – this is a copy of a comment that went into moderation for too many links.

      Fundamentally, therefore, therefore we should think of weather and climate predictions in terms of equations whose basic prognostic variables are probability densities ρ(X,t) where X denotes some climatic variable and t denoted time. In this way, ρ(X,t)dV represents the probability that, at time t, the true value of X lies in some small volume dV of state space.

      The math of models shows that that what emerges is at best a PDF of solutions in a range that is irreducibly imprecise. It is moreover an imprecision that is unknown at this time.

      In each of these model–ensemble comparison studies, there are important but difficult questions: How well selected are the models for their plausibility? How much of the ensemble spread is reducible by further model improvements? How well can the spread can be explained by analysis of model differences? How much is irreducible imprecision in an AOS?

      Simplistically, despite the opportunistic assemblage of the various AOS model ensembles, we can view the spreads in their results as upper bounds on their irreducible imprecision. Optimistically, we might think this upper bound is a substantial overestimate because AOS models are evolving and improving. Pessimistically, we can worry that the ensembles contain insufficient samples of possible plausible models, so the spreads may underestimate the true level of irreducible imprecision (cf., ref. 23). Realistically, we do not yet know how to make this assessment with confidence. http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.long

      Models are not all that relevant for prediction of climate shifts.

      The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected. http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10136&page=1

      Perhaps more relevant to decadal shifts.

      The researchers used a climate model, a so-called coupled ocean-atmosphere model, which they forced with the observed wind data of the last decades. For the abrupt changes during the 1970s and 1990s they calculated predictions which began a few months prior to the beginning of the observed climate shifts. The average of all predictions for both abrupt changes shows good agreement with the observed climate development in the Pacific.

      “The winds change the ocean currents which in turn affect the climate. In our study, we were able to identify and realistically reproduce the key processes for the two abrupt climate shifts,” says Prof. Latif. “We have taken a major step forward in terms of short-term climate forecasting, especially with regard to the development of global warming. However, we are still miles away from any reliable answers to the question whether the coming winter in Germany will be rather warm or cold.” Prof. Latif cautions against too much optimism regarding short-term regional climate predictions: “Since the reliability of those predictions is still at about 50%, you might as well flip a coin.”
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822105042.htm

    • Robert I Ellison

      Probabilistic forecasts are based on the ‘quasiperiodicity’ of these ocean states. Such as for US drought risk that I keep pointing at – from before the drought.

      Although long considered implausible, there is growing promise for probabilistic climatic forecasts one or two decades into the future based on quasiperiodic variations in sea surface temperatures (SSTs), salinities, and dynamic ocean topographies. Such long-term forecasts could help water managers plan for persistent drought across the conterminous United States (1). The urgency for such planning became evident when much of the U.S. was gripped by drought in 1996 and again in 1999–2003, evoking images of the dry 1930s and 1950s.
      http://www.pnas.org/content/101/12/4136.full.pdf

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/USdrought_zps2629bb8c.jpg.html?sort=3&o=138

      Draw your own conclusions about the likelihood of drought conditions persisting.

      In the way of true science – it suggests at least decadal predictability. The current cool Pacific Ocean state – which cools the surface of the planet – seems more likely than not to persist for 20 to 40 years from 2002. There are scientific bonus points for having predicted this a decade or more ago – as some did. The flip side is that – beyond the next few decades – the future evolution of the global mean surface temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum.

    • 3 people who find a contradiction, only lil kim, the weak rapper, cannot wrap the illogic.

      And nonlinearities do not immediately imply nonpredictability.

    • ==> “The current cool Pacific Ocean state – which cools the surface of the planet – seems more likely than not to persist for 20 to 40 years from 2002. ”

      Fascinating.

      So now it’s “more likely than not.”

      Looks like things have changed. Just one of many examples:

      Chief Hydrologist | November 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm |

      […]

      “It is almost certain (.99%) that the world is not warming for a decade to three yet post 2002.”

      I guess uncertainty means that “more likely than not” and “.99% [sic] certain” are interchangeable depending on what’s convenient.

    • David Springer

      Aside from agreement with a couple larger concepts like bifurcation between two great attractors and climate sensitivity a variable not a constant with sensitivity increasing near bifurcation tipping points I’m going to go ahead and agree with Sidles and Pukite that it’s mostly bafflegab. And after all, as two of the most prolific producers of bafflegab themselves, Fanny Sidles and Web Pukite are experts in the field.

    • OK, Web, ‘the non-linearities less so.’
      =========

    • David Springer

      What’s this about a US drought?

      http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

      No more than half the country is dryer than normal. Droughts are regional and migrate. The impact can be greater or less depending on where and for how long. For instance of lot of the area in drought conditions right now are New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. No agriculture no real impact. I’m not lawns and swimming pools and car washes in the desert as an impact. If there’s little agriculture the impact is inconvenience. A lot Texas that’s in a drought is either desert of marginal grazing for beef cattle so the impact is not huge there. The west coast especially California is a big deal as there happens to be a lot of agriculture there and parts of Texas along with lots of Oklahoma and Kansa are grain belt and have a larger impact. These are largely cyclical following ENSO and AMDO. Nothing climtalogically unusual or particularly unpredictable going on. The drought where I’m at in south central Texas is a repeat of the 1950’s. AMDO oscillation right on time.

    • Robert I Ellison

      In the way of true science – it suggests at least decadal predictability. The current cool Pacific Ocean state – which cools the surface of the planet – seems more likely than not to persist for 20 to 40 years from 2002. There are scientific bonus points for having predicted this a decade or more ago – as some did. The flip side is that – beyond the next few decades – the future evolution of the global mean surface temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum.

      Is this a difficult idea? We are in a cool mode – the PDO is negative – La Nina have increased in frequency and intensity – surface temps have not increased – it was all predicted – but it is likely to change within a few decades?

      As I have explained to Joshua before – the safe assumption is that these conditions will persist for another decade at least. As the Sun is cooling as well from near the Schwabe cycle peak – it is virtually certain that the world is not warming for a decade at least. Beyond that there be dragon-kings.

      Virtually certain is the IPCC expression for >99% probability assessed by pulling it out of your arse. Surely Joshua realizes that I was being deliberately ironic – perhaps not – how deliciously unintentionally ironic of him.

    • Robert I Ellison

      That seems pretty much the point of McCabe 2004 – Springer.

      -PDO +AMO

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/USdrought_zps2629bb8c.jpg.html?sort=3&o=138

      http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

      It seems a reasonable decadal forecast.

      • David Springer

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drought_in_the_United_States#1950s

        Anyone with a modest knowledge of US history doesn’t need a scientist to determine that 1950 + 60 years = 2010. The drought is right on time.

        Currently there is no overall drought in the United States as 52% of the country is normal or wetter than normal. 50% of anything above and below any arbitrary line is by definition a normal situation. The only thing noteworthy is that some very productive agricultural regions happen to be on the dry side. Sometimes the same regions are hit by major flooding. Stuff happens.

        Currently 38% of CONUS is in drought condition. That’s not even close to the top ten drought years and 2012, the greatest extent of the most recent drought, comes in at #6 with all the worse years either in the 1930’s or 1950’s.

        Write that down.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: In the next moment he will assert that cooling is guaranteed for a “decade or three”.

      Could you quote the guarantee that you attribute to him”

      FOMD came up with this: “It would seem that we are in cooling mode for decades.“

      That is not a guarantee.

    • So Marler covers for his hero by saying it is no guarantee.

      Well it is not math or physics either. It is just a random assertion by a random civ.

    • Chief –

      ==> ” Surely Joshua realizes that I was being deliberately ironic”

      Was the following “deliberately ironic” also?

      Chief Hydrologist | September 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      […]
      The world is not warming for a decade to three more,

      Dude.

      There’s lots more.

      You’re all over the map. You have ranged from absolutely sure, (but interestingly enough, your complete lack of respect for uncertainty doesn’t seem to show up on Judith’s radar), to mostly sure, to kind of sure, to it’s more likely to happen than not.

      When will you make up your mind? And when you do, will you include some confidence intervals/error margins? You know, like climate scientists do?

    • Josh,

      Thinking people can change or adjust their opinion, particularly if they gain more information. Did you consider that this may be what Robert has done in saying 99% at one time and now saying “more likely than not”?

      It’s a retorical question. Of course you didn’t. That would require honesty on your part.

    • Steven Mosher

      Robert

      Joshua has a fai question

      “When will you make up your mind? And when you do, will you include some confidence intervals/error margins? You know, like climate scientists do?”

      But let’s say the same thing with less snark.

      Robert:
      reading through your various writings and comments here it is hard to discern what your considered position is on the trajectory of the temperature over the next few decades.

      Could you describe your position and include estimates of uncertainty.

      Thanks in Advance.

    • Robert I Ellison

      You get scientific bonus points for predicting it a decade or more ago. Am I sure? I am virtually certain – >99%.

      The only thing that could but the kybosh on it is if the system prematurely shifted to a warmer mode.

      Frankly it is Sun driven in UV/ozone top down modulation of the Southern and Northern Annular Modes – pushing more or less polar ocean water into the north and south Pacific Ocean gyres.

      More cold facilitates cold, deep ocean upwelling off the Peruvian and Californian coasts – it biases the system to La Nina and negative PDO.

      We are at a 1000 year high point of El Nino frequency coincident with a 1000 year solar Grand Maxima.

      e.g. http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Vance2012-AntarticaLawDomeicecoresaltcontent.jpg.html?sort=3&o=167

      More salt is La Nina. Frankly – and I am always Frank and Earnest – I am Frank in New York and Earnest in Miami – I’m expecting the ENSO+PDO system to shift to yet cooler – rather than warmer – in the quiet Sun.

      Joshua is a dog with a very trivial bone.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Steven

      I had said it to often. Non-warming or even cooling for a decade to three yet.

      ‘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).’ http://www.pnas.org/content/106/38/16120.full

      If we stay in the same Pacific Ocean climate state – it is certain. If we prematurely move to a warmer Pacific Ocean climate state – unlikely. If we move to a yet cooler Pacific Ocean state – in my view pretty credible.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: So Marler covers for his hero by saying it is no guarantee.

      You have heard of “nondenial denials”; that is a “nonadmission admission.”

      Do you even care whether your writing is accurate?

    • If we actually knew what the climate attractor looked like, we might gain some understanding. Where are we on it? Where will the catastrophic changes occur? We don’t seem to know much.

    • Marler, Yea, if you like playing rhetorical games.

      I would prefer to scientifically model the systems that poseur fakes such as the Cheef and Tomas suggest are impossible to model.

      Such as ENSO
      http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/

      How do U like them apples?

    • This actually bears on the most effective climate argument for the consensus team, one they have managed to ignore for four years. But I never said they were smart, only that in the end they will win.

      This particular pause could actually be construed as supporting evidence for AGW. The stars have aligned against warming, to be sure. All the pseudo cycles are working to cap warming and the pause is real.

      But temperatures have not declined. To me this is disturbing. I look at what is happening and I think that natural variation should be lowering temperatures. The fact that it is not means to me that CO2 is putting a very strong floor under temperatures.

      I hope this is different from Trenberth’s staircase argument, but in the end it may be a distinction without a difference. But while he’s acting like someone in the Game of Thrones muttering ‘ENSO is coming’, I’m just sitting here wondering why temperatures aren’t declining.

    • jim2 | May 30, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
      If we actually knew what the climate attractor looked like, we might gain some understanding.

      Try this:

      http://jn.physiology.org/content/93/6/3356

      I had an idea that scatter plots could show 2 states of a system. The above is something like that. Scatter plotting the glacial and interglacials would show something like the image above.

    • “I’m just sitting here wondering why temperatures aren’t declining.”
      —–
      By what mechanism would they be? i.e., what combination of forcings can be strong enough to counter the forcing from the continual rise in
      GH gases?

    • Umm, R Gates, isn’t that what I just wrote?

    • Tom Fuller | May 30, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
      “This actually bears on the most effective climate argument for the consensus team, one they have managed to ignore for four years. But I never said they were smart, only that in the end they will win.

      This particular pause could actually be construed as supporting evidence for AGW. The stars have aligned against warming, to be sure……..But temperatures have not declined…..The fact that it is not means to me that CO2 is putting a very strong floor under temperatures.”

      Yep, no one else has noticed this or pointed this out.

      Just Tom.

      Oh well, I never said that Tom is smart.

    • **Tom Fuller | May 30, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
      “This actually bears on the most effective climate argument for the consensus team, one they have managed to ignore for four years. But I never said they were smart, only that in the end they will win.

      This particular pause could actually be construed as supporting evidence for AGW. The stars have aligned against warming, to be sure……..But temperatures have not declined…..The fact that it is not means to me that CO2 is putting a very strong floor under temperatures.”**

      We had rising sea levels for more than century, and large portion of what causing rising sea level is a warmer ocean.
      I would say the floor, is a warmer ocean.
      And a warmer ocean has little to do with CO2.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: How do U like them apples?

      That was a good link. Not the Burning Bush or The Tablets, but worth a read. As I wrote above, it is mostly curve-fitting. But perhaps there is some physics in your mind as you are doing it.

    • Tom Fuller wrote: But temperatures have not declined. To me this is disturbing. I look at what is happening and I think that natural variation should be lowering temperatures. The fact that it is not means to me that CO2 is putting a very strong floor under temperatures.

      The Roman Warm Period lasted a long time. The Medieval Warm period lasted a long time. This warm Period will last a long time. The cooling will come, but not right away. Natural variation will lower temperatures on a similar schedule to what has happened before. Why would you expect something different to happen now? This cycle has been the same for eleven thousand years. Warm, Cold, Warm, Cold, Warm, Cold, ………. Roman Warm time, cold time, Medieval Warm time, Little Ice Age, Modern Warm time. This is a well bounded cycle that has not stopped yet and the time for each part of the cycle has not changed. Give it more time. It takes a lot of years for more snowfall to build enough ice volume to advance and cool the earth again.

    • The physics is the easy part, Marler.

      Apply the continuity equation, separate out the spatial standing waves and you are there. In the post, I suggested that you look up a paper by Frandsen
      [1]J. B. Frandsen, “Sloshing motions in excited tanks,” Journal of Computational Physics, vol. 196, no. 1, pp. 53–87, 2004.

      Can’t hold your hand on everything. You might have to lift a finger yourself.

      BTW, I really do laugh at your passive-aggresive tone. To compensate, I am simply aggressive, so as not to give the impression that I have deep-rooted psychological problems such as you apparently have.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: BTW, I really do laugh at your passive-aggresive tone.

      What are some examples of my passive-aggressive writing?

  12. Looking back at the temperature record since 1850 it’s clear that multi-decadal forces are at work and are powering the climate. We are in a cooling phase that will likely last anther 10 years if past performance is a quite to future events.

    Man’s injection of gigatones of CO2 may be affecting these patterns but there is little evidence of any significant change in the current 60 year (30 warm / 30 cool) cycle.

  13. Walt Allensworth

    Dr. Richard B. Alley in his book “The Two Mile Time Machine” discusses how climate has flipped back and fourth between essentially upper and lower bounds for the last 400,000 years. This is based on GISP-2 and Vostok ice core data as well and deep ocean bottom sediment cores. The pre-historic climate forcing functions driving this temperature record are many and have complicated interactions. However, one has to go back 2 million years before temperatures exceed the lower or upper bounds delineated by GISP-2 & Vostok data.

    What IS clear from Alley’s work is that when temperatures are low they can be relatively easily tipped up, and when temperatures are high they can be relatively easily tipped down. He uses an analogy of a “three-year-old at a light switch” for the wild climate ride for the 90,000 years proceeding the Holocene interglacial.

    see: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/pd/tidescurrents/media/effect_influences_3.gif

    Notice how the temperature of Greenland never stays beyond the upper and lower bounds no matter how fast and wild the rates of change are. This argues for strong negative feedback mechanisms at these temperature boundaries and subsequently a highly variable TCR to CO2. In fact, the very concept of a TCR to CO2 is probably wrong-headed on a geological time scale.

    This evidence directly supports this article by Robert Ellison.

    • ‘never strays beyond’, but otherwise, very nice.
      ============

    • Robert I Ellison

      Richard Alley was the chair of the NAS committee of abrupt climate change.

    • Only a delusional libertarian would think Alley thinks temperatures are going to be tipped down in time to save humanity from pissant progressives.

    • Robert I Ellison

      As the title of the report was – Abrupt Climate: inevitable surprises – he would surely expect surprises.

    • David Springer

      “This argues for strong negative feedback mechanisms at these temperature boundaries and subsequently a highly variable TCR to CO2.”

      Agree. CO2 is most effective in dry air when it isn’t competing with water vapor and clouds for the same photons. So it sets a floor temperature because cooler air and cooler oceans mean lower specific humidity and fewer clouds. On the warm side negative feedback from warm oceans producing high albedo clouds that starve the ocean of the solar energy that warms it puts a cap on high temperature.

    • “David Springer
      Agree. CO2 is most effective in dry air when it isn’t competing with water vapor and clouds for the same photons.”
      No, no, no and thrice no. I asked the greatest mind that NASA has ever employed why it was not possible to measure a difference in either down welling IR or a change in the rates of heat/cooling of the Antarctic interior. Gavin stated that we don’t see a change due to increases in CO2 at this local because;
      1) the air is dry and so there is no amplification
      2) the altitude means that the effects are tiny, unlike the situation at ground level.
      Indeed, it is very sad that the only place on Earth were it should be possible to measure, directly, the effects due to atmospheric rising from 300 to 400 ppm, is the one place where Gavin assures us that there will be no measurable effect.
      This was in the days before RC pursued their hiding strategy.

    • Peter Lang

      Walt Allenswroth,

      What IS clear from Alley’s work is that when temperatures are low they can be relatively easily tipped up, and when temperatures are high they can be relatively easily tipped down.

      What might we do to delay the time until temperatures tip down again?

      What sort of policies might the world adopt to delay that ‘tip down’ tipping point and minimise the severity of it if and when it does occur?

      • Walt Allensworth

        Peter Lang – excellent questions, and in fact they are questions that Dr. Alley asks in “The two mile time machine.” Alley professes that (as of 2000 when the text was written) this question cannot be answered by anybody because we don’t know enough. Maybe now, 14 years later, it can… but I doubt it.

        I gather that Alley is most concerned about the scenario that closes off the global conveyor from the northern Atlantic (thermohaline cycle) which would cause temperatures in Europe to plunge. This has been brought about in the past by large releases of cold fresh water into the Atlantic. A good example of this is the enormous temperature plunge in the early Holocene observed in GISP-2 ice core data at about T-8300 years.

        see: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JLOufiCvgi4/UTpiI5RjiJI/AAAAAAAAA3I/00ntCZwtHVI/s1600/GISP2-9k4k.gif

        Alley suspects (I hope that I get this right) that a huge ice dam catastrophically failed that was holding back glacial melt-water in the Hudson Bay and Great-lakes area. This dumped an exceedingly large amount of fresh-water into the North Atlantic and it shut down the conveyor, plunging temperatures on earth by about 3C in just a few hundred years, and it took a couple of hundred years to recover. So in some ways, warming can cause cooling on time-scales that would be pretty devastating to humans. He then speculates that a similar event today could cause a similar drop. Since we are overdue for another ice-age, could such an event trigger the next ice age?

        It is interesting to speculate what large land-based ice fields are available to cause such an event? Greenland? Antarctica? That’s probably about it. Earth today has far less ice than it had at the Holocene optimum 8,000 years ago. This is probably a good thing from a climate stability perspective!

        Anyhoo… these line of speculation are getting pretty thin. What I love about Dr. Alley is that he does not bellow about “settled science.” In fact he says many times in his book that “we just don’t know” about a lot of things that politicians today are saying are completely settled science. Who do I believe? Alley of course.

  14. Doug Proctor

    I’m a petroleum geologist, 60 years old, 25 years as a professional. I am an “analyst” in that I am always looking at things around me and wondering why they are what they are. I have discovered that every time – 100% – I look closely at something, it turns out to not be what I more naively thought it was. The cause of CAGW is one of those not-what-I-thought-it was things.

    Every socio-political, environmental-philosophical, theologically (Man is Evil, Nature is Innocent in the Way He Intended) driven view of how we structure our group lives and manage our personal ones has an interest in the CO2-reduction story. Hard analyses quickly shows that scientific uncertainty is trumped by emotional and intellectual intolerance of uncertainty: if we don’t quite know, we must act defensively RIGHT NOW. We crave demonstrable certainty, and we get that by insisting action close to us be taken immediately. The thing is, the action is not for “us”, immediately, but for our close social environment: we want to see the City Council and our neighbours busy with the Recycling Team while we continue to ponder our individual response to the crisis.

    CAGW is deterministic. If it is subject to the rules of catastrophy or chaos theory, it is only in the amplifying ways: temperatures can only go up, though we are told that step-functions to huge temperatures are possible. Really? Is unidirectional CAGW, including “catastrophic”, i.e. sudden, extreme shifts, compatible with the math used to explain it? I see chaotic situations as going either way: the breakdown of Russian society throws Russians onto the streets at the same time as creating oligarchs.

    The more I look and think, the more skeptical I become of what is being said. Not necessarily of the future becoming what is feared, but of what is being said. And that is the basis of the action demanded of me: not because of a known outcome but of a claimed outcome derived from specific statements.

    The eco-green is certain of the outcome. How and why we are to get there is not necessary to be how and why it is said we are going to get there. But get there we will. The skeptics say we will get where we get because of this or that, and if we cannot support this or that, we aren’t going to act as proposed. The complexity or recognized range of outcomes is not pertinent to the eco-green. He bowls on a lane without gutters, and a ball large enough for a strike every time. The rest of us bowl on regular lanes with regular balls. That’s why we want to know far more about the specifics before we mortgage our house on the outcome.

    Nothing is as simple as it first appears. That’s why God gave us a brain instead of just a fixed set of reflexes.

    • True, an average weather is meaningless. Climate is as weather does. “The lesson is,” says Tomas Milanovic (How simple is simple), “that even if global may often seem simpler than local, the laws of nature always work in the other direction – from local to global… the often repeated statement Climate is not weather is misleading. The right statement is “Climate is uniquely dependent on weather because its properties can only be derived from a known weather by averaging it over some arbitrary space or time domain.”

    • Doug, good post. I don’t “crave demonstrable certainty” – indeed, I understand that everything is in a state of constant change – so, like you, can take a more detached perspective.

    • Peter Lang

      Doug Proctor,

      +100.

      Would you like to volunteer an answer to my question just above your comment: https://judithcurry.com/2014/05/30/the-astonishing-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/#comment-577362

    • Peter

      My very large team of researchers is very generously funded by huge sums of money from Big Oil but the prime objective is to gather evidence of the past climate, likely temperatures and extreme events first, which can then be analysed in more detail. ( I don’t need to put a sarc tag on regarding the oil funding do I?)

      Undoubtedly my overview shows that warmer periods have a more stable climate although extreme events can op up at any time the frequency and range of them seems to be reduced in warm periods. The detail demonstrat8ing this will have to wait.
      tonyb

    • Peter Lang

      Hi Tony B,

      I understand. If you have some spare cash, can you send me some? :)

    • Thanks for reminding us that Proctor is an apologist for Big Oil.

  15. Robert, thanks for the interesting article.
    Scott

  16. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse


    The multi-decadal Pacific Ocean pattern can be seen in El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) proxies for up to 1000 years. In theory we then have a mechanism – albeit a complex one – that better explains climate data than the old forcing paradigm.

    The ‘choice’ between the “old forcing paradigm” and this ENSO mechanism is not a binary operator.

    Forcing does not cease to exist because of internal variability.

    And we know from the peleo-record that forcing matters more over the long term.

    Climate data cannot be explained at all without accounting for the increase in GHG forcing, let alone “better” without it.

    • What difference does that make to you now?

      http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2014/05/29/study-world-on-the-brink-of-a-sixth-great-extinction/

      You have so much to worry about today.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Abrupt change is a result of emergent bahaviour in the system. The forcings change relatively slowly and the system chaotically shifts into a new state that include clouds, ice, dust, vegetation and other changes.

      Most of the paleoclimatic changes were of this nature.

      ‘The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change… Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation..’ Wally Broecker

      I find it difficult to reconcile anthropogenic forcing with this notion of a system that shifts radically when pushed past a threshold.

      Michael Ghil has a diagram showing three possibilities. Only the third is relevant.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Ghil_sensitivity_zps369d303d.jpg.html?sort=3&o=141

      It shows abrupt increase but also an increase in variance. But it is against a background of global change that can be dramatic. In the satellite era the data shows – for instance – that clouds changed dramatically at the 1998/2001 climate shift.

      I don’t have a crystal ball – but the continuation of the current state for decades seems plausible – beyond that I would expect surprises rather than a steady evolution of climate.

    • Chief

      From my own research it is obvious that through history we can see periods of dramatic decadal changes with some periods being more unsettled than others. For example the MWP from 900 to 1200 was relatively settled the sporadic LIA and the transition period between the two were certainly often turbulent.

      John Kington is a renowned British climatologist who has worked at both CRU and the Met Office.

      HIs book published in 2010 lists the decades from 800AD onwards. it is rare to find two decades that are similar to each other from around 1200AD onwards. The period from 1560 onwards was often up and down like a yo yo with the 1690 to 1740 being probably the most dramatic which caused phil jones to examine this era and admit that natural variability was greater than he had hitherto realised.

      Does that prove great sensitivity to forcing, if so what were the forcings?

      In the context of history the modern era is unremarkable except for its benign nature. The most extreme events occurred during those cold periods of the LIA-there were often warm periods of the LIA which has become a mis used phrase.

      tonyb

    • The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse


      I find it difficult to reconcile anthropogenic forcing with this notion of a system that shifts radically when pushed past a threshold.

      Why?

      Is it impossible for two modes of climate change to act concurrently?

      Is it impossible for anthropogenic forcing to do the “pushing”?

      Give your readers a scientific reason why should anyone care what Robert Ellison finds difficult to reconcile.

    • Heap on the FUD and act like you are having difficulty reconciling thoughts and then you transfer those notions to your gullible denialist readership.

      Bingo. ABCD.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘Abrupt climate changes were especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. Thus, greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events. The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected.’ NAS

      I was expressing ignorance. I’m not sure – fancy that. I think that Newton’s fourth rule entitles me to take the satellite data at face value. This makes CO2 a minor factor in recent warming – and the system is powerful enough for it to go anywhere it wants. Including the possibility of catastrophic change in as little as 10 years. I expect surprises.

    • Yes, you express ignorance and then assert that the world will cool for “a decade or three”.

      How convenient for you to dial in ignorance at your service.
      This endears you to your gullible denialist readership.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The starting climate state is not surprising.

    • The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse


      I was expressing ignorance. I’m not sure – fancy that. I think that Newton’s fourth rule entitles me to take the satellite data at face value. This makes CO2 a minor factor in recent warming – and the system is powerful enough for it to go anywhere it wants. Including the possibility of catastrophic change in as little as 10 years. I expect surprises.

      Meh. The “system” is governed by the laws of physics.

      You make it sound as though planetary climate is facing some sort of difficult choice and is ‘conflicted’ – perhaps by ‘paradigm-paralysis’…

      As for CO2 being a “minor factor in recent warming” – Do you have an alternate physical explanation for the secular changes in global temperatures – one that would include a completely new scientific understanding of the radiative properties of CO2 and of thermodynamics?

      ‘Cause if you don’t, you are expressing ONLY ignorance – albeit, with many more words than are normally required.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘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.’ AR4 – WG1 – s3.4.4.1

      It seem very real – and for many reasons – not least Newton’s fourth rule – I take the data at face value. The anomalies are very accurate – and without data nothing is known. That’s the lesson of science is it not?

      Again – the system response in both IR and SW is quite large.

      ‘Climate forcing results in an imbalance in the TOA radiation budget that has direct implications for global climate, but the large natural variability in the Earth’s radiation budget due to fluctuations in atmospheric and ocean dynamics complicates this picture.’ http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~jnorris/reprints/Loeb_et_al_ISSI_Surv_Geophys_2012.pdf

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/cloud_palleandlaken2013_zps3c92a9fc.png.html?sort=3&o=112

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/cloud_palleandlaken2013_zps3c92a9fc.png.html?sort=3&o=112

      Note the shift at the turn of the century. Which is captured as well by Project Earthshine.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Earthshine-1.jpg.html?sort=3&o=144

      ‘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.’

    • Bob Ludwick

      @ TVRJH

      “Climate data cannot be explained at all without accounting for the increase in GHG forcing, let alone “better” without it.”

      Neither can it be explained unless we understand ALL the factors that influence climate, plus the relative magnitudes and signs of their influence.

      Neither can climate be predicted far into the future unless all the factors the affect it are known and predictable over the time frame of the prediction.

      Do we know and understand all the above and are we capable of the required prediction?

      More relevant to the current situation, do we understand all the factors affecting climate well enough to have reason to believe that we can control the climate, now and into the foreseeable future, by controlling the amount of CO2 injected into the atmosphere by human civilization?

      If in fact we CAN drive the climate to a ‘set point’ (presumably the Temperature of the Earth, since that is the variable being cited as cause for alarm) by controlling ACO2, what IS the target set point, who or what body determined it, and what factors were considered in making the determination?

    • Jeb: You really need to read the Pleistocene paleo literature more closely. There is no consensus yet on the role that GHGs play following climate triggers that shift from ice to warm. If GHG drove long-term forcing, why do D-O events abort again and again and again during glacial periods?

      Abrupt climate change is caused by asymmetrical forcings (where the net forcing is ~ +/-zero) that leverage huge asymmetrical feedbacks that cascade into other feedbacks until a “stop” is reached. We know from the paleo record that we don’t understand all of the first-order forcings/events/feedbacks that cause glacial cycles.

    • The deniers love high climate sensivity unless CO2 is involved.

      ABCD.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Denier just doesn’t really cut any ice. Changes in CO2 push the system and may – theoretically – push the system past a tipping point.

    • Robert,

      The ice WEB cuts is when he’s fishing in January. The rest of the time he’s apparently playing video games and pretending he’s a climate modeller.

    • The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

      Bob Ludwick:

      Neither can it be explained unless we understand ALL the factors that influence climate, plus the relative magnitudes and signs of their influence.

      You mean like this?:

      Of course, the influence of the gravitational attraction of Barnard’s star has been omitted.


      Neither can climate be predicted far into the future unless all the factors the affect it are known and predictable over the time frame of the prediction.

      You mean like this?:

      and this:


      Do we know and understand all the above and are we capable of the required prediction?
      More relevant to the current situation, do we understand all the factors affecting climate well enough to have reason to believe that we can control the climate, now and into the foreseeable future, by controlling the amount of CO2 injected into the atmosphere by human civilization?

      Yes.
      Humans already control the climate – going from 280 to 400 ppm atmospheric CO2 in 150 years IS demonstrably affecting the climate now, and, given the residence time of CO2, for the foreseeable future.

      So – in a word, yes.

      Uncertainties exist – but they do not exclude scientific knowledge.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignoramus_et_ignorabimus

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘Meh. The “system” is governed by the laws of physics.’

      The system is completely determinant but so complex as to present daunting challenges to understanding. For many parameters the only feasible approach is data. This applies to ocean heat, clouds, winds and currents both surface and deep.

      The third great idea of 20th century physics has something to do with it.

      Data suggests that the system response is powerful enough to take the system in unexpected directions.

    • “I find it difficult to reconcile anthropogenic forcing with this notion of a system that shifts radically when pushed past a threshold.”
      ——–

      This would mean that you don’t have a real good grasp of either.

    • Robert I Ellison

      What twaddle Randal. I have already admitted ignorance – I don’t think you actually read anything. Just see a sentence you can be dismal and querulous about and race off to post a quite trivial and derogatory comment. It wears very thin.

      I am inclined to the view that the two are mutually exclusive. That the system is best viewed as control variables making relatively small changes that initiate abrupt change to a system that has a very different quasi-equilibrium. The system seems powerful enough to offset warming – so the new starting point could be cooler. The process of destabilizing the system begins again. It is the difference between a system driven primarily by internal feedback processes – e.g. thermohaline circulation driven by a freshening and warming Arctic or runaway ice – and one which temperature is ratcheted up and there is small chaotic variability around a higher mean. The latter seems intrinsically unsatisfactory given the potential scope of chaotic variability.

      I think the former is a better way of thinking about it – it focuses on the real source and quantum of uncertainty in the system and the risks of a dynamic climate sensitivity.

    • ““I find it difficult to reconcile anthropogenic forcing with this notion of a system that shifts radically when pushed past a threshold.”

      To which Skippy Ellison replied:

      “I am inclined to the view that the two are mutually exclusive.”
      _____
      The fact that Skippy cannot see that an external forcing, be it a super-volcano, HCV, asteroid, or slow changes to solar insolation brought about by astronomical forcing are precisely the kinds of things that can create a radical shift in the climate system should be of some concern to those who might otherwise think Skippy to be the super-genius he’d like everyone to think he is. There is absolutely nothing about an external forcing that is any way mutually exclusive from a climate system shifting radically when pushed passed a threshold– in fact, the two can be most intimately connected. External forcings are exactly the kinds of things that push the climate system passed certain thresholds!

    • Exactly right RG. The Cheef practices bafflegab, with a twist of sounding authoritarian via literary pretensions. It has many of his gullible CE acolytes gasping at awe of his “super-genius”.

    • “Abrupt change is a result of emergent bahaviour in the system.”
      ——-
      Well, not really, more likely a super-volcano or asteroid or rapid changes in GH gas forcing or astronomical forcing resulting in insolation changes– in other words, some external forcing.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small . . .

      Modern climate records include abrupt changes that are smaller and briefer than in paleoclimate records but show that abrupt climate change is not restricted to the distant past.’ US National Academy of Sciences, 2002, Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises.

      ‘Abrupt climate changes were especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. Thus, greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events. The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected.’ NAS

      The first quote was in the head post – which talks – pictures and everything – about control variables – μ – which is used interchangeably with forcing in complex systems. Forcing is used in the title of the Ghil reference which is central to the post. The second quote is in the comments.

      You start of with a line that I am confusing the issue? Try reading and comprehending instead of just making unwarranted aspersions on my intellectual capacity – and you will waste less of everyone’s time with trivial, misguided and supercilious comment about stuff that everyone understands and that you seem to imagine you have just invented in a blinding insight. It’s all a bit odd.

      Seriously – step it up or I will add you to my ignore list with webby and Joshua. Won’t be nearly as much fun then – will it?

    • Peter Lang

      Tony B

      From my own research it is obvious that through history we can see periods of dramatic decadal changes with some periods being more unsettled than others. For example the MWP from 900 to 1200 was relatively settled

      From you research is there evidence that the climate in the warmer times, like the MWP, was more stable (less volatile) than in the colder times (like the LIA)?

    • Peter

      You asked

      ‘From you research is there evidence that the climate in the warmer times, like the MWP, was more stable (less volatile) than in the colder times (like the LIA)?’

      You can have one off extreme events at any time, however by far the greatest concentration of them-clusters if you like- and the greatest intensity of them, seem to occur during the cold periods of the LIA. The warm interludes within the LIA-which were very warm-seem to be more settled.

      The transition periods when there was greater episodes of warm and cold in greatest juxtaposition also seemed to be very turbulent, presumably because of the energy being created and the likely temperature differentials.

      tonyb

    • Peter Lang

      Tony B,

      That’s very interesting. It’s what I suspected. Can you give me a link to a short summary, or table or charts that show that conclusion in a way I can present very simply to others?

    • Peter. Your 3.52

      As regards a short summary, please see my reply just posted to you

      https://judithcurry.com/2014/05/30/the-astonishing-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/#comment-577508

      Which should be taken in conjunction with my longer article here;

      https://judithcurry.com/2011/12/01/the-long-slow-thaw/

      I have been amassing historical references from many sources over the last two years. I am currently trying to put it together in a readily accessible format which will hopefully include a summary of decadal weather plus the numerous references that support the evidence. This is VERY time consuming. However it will also hopefully provide pointers to the likely state of sea levels. As regards this latter subject did you see my exchanges with Rud yesterday?

      best regards

      Tonyb

    • Peter Lang

      Tony B,

      Thank you again. I did read your post on Climate Etc. when it was posted. Very interesting. I saw some of your comments yesterday, but I’ll go back and re-read them.

      I am not seeing haven’t seen the bit if information I am looking for. I am hoping to compare the standard deviation of temperatures in warm periods compared with in cold periods. But perhaps you don’t have data that is suitable for such analysis.

      It’s great to hear you are compiling all the data and preparing a shor summary and it will be ready by breakfast tomorrow (Aust. Eastern Standard Time) :)

  17. Theo Goodwin

    “Although a significant factor in global climate on the scale of decades – the Pacific Ocean modes are part of a global climate system that is variable at many scales in time and space.

    ‘The global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems – atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’ Michael Ghil”

    Excellent article, Mr. Ellison. What you have written strikes me as enlightened scientific common sense. By contrast, mainstream climate science, “consensus science,” dutifully ignores the position held by Ghil and insists that linear forcing from manmade CO2 is the primary explanation for climate change. I suggest that you extend your article by explaining that the assumption of linear forcing raises difficulties for the mathematics that you have presented.

  18. I think the best argument for a policy of co2 mitigation is that we can’t know for sure if there’s a bifurcation point somewhere with higher co2 levels. After all, the current combination of high
    Co2 concentration and continent configuration is entirely “untested”. On the other hand, a sudden change to a warmer climate may still be desirable if it finally moves earth out of the ongoing ice age ;-)

    • David Springer

      Yes, periods of great fecundity are not found during ice ages. The melt that follows them are periods of great fecundity when vast expanses of cold and snow turn into vast expanses of primary production in the food chain. A normal characteristic of the earth’s climate is no polar ice caps. The past 4 million years are unusual in that respect. Anyone interested in further greening of the earth cannot rationally support anything that would chill it from where it is today. I call the irrational in that case “ice huggers”. Ironically many if not most ice huggers are also tree huggers who aren’t smart enough to experience any cognitive dissonance from embracing ice and trees simultaneously.

    • It’s still a mystery to me how warming came to be demonized. What a catastrophic miscalculation for the would be world shakers. I blame Walt Disney and the march of the dinosaurs in Fantasia.
      ===============

      • Walt Allensworth

        “It’s still a mystery to me how warming came to be demonized.”

        I have pondered this until the obvious answer appeared. It is change that is demonized. Anything different is bad. Back in the 1970’s we had a global cooling scare. Cooling was demonized. Now it’s warming. Politicians prey on mans fear of change and use it for control. “Send me all of your money and elect me your leader and I will fix it!”

        A very excellent discussion on this practice can be found here: http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/pratkanis.htm

    • pokerguy (aka al neipris)

      Hard to imagine what would happen to the civilized world as we currently know it, if (when) the interglacial ends. Clearly, it would not be good. For one thing, I’d have to do my grocery shopping 500 miles to the south as the local Stop N’ Shop would be buried under a mile of ice.

    • Peter Lang

      Espen,

      After all, the current combination of high
      Co2 concentration and continent configuration is entirely “untested”. On the other hand, a sudden change to a warmer climate may still be desirable if it finally moves earth out of the ongoing ice age ;-)

      That seems reasonable to me.

      It may also move the climate to a more stable state so it is less volatile – as we move up and to the right and away from the tipping point at Tc on Figure 4 in the post (Ghil’s Figure 1.1).

  19. stevefitzpatrick

    That there are at least two stable climate regimes (warm interglacial/ice age) is pretty clear. I don’t think being able to describe this in terms of Lorenz attractors is terribly informative.

    At the end of the day, the processes involved are physical and the system behavior can be described though those physical processes if they are well enough understood, whether those processes are linear or non-linear. More important from the perspective of public policy toward GHG emissions is whether or not there is credible evidence for processes which could switch the current warm interglacial state into a new much warmer regime that ‘locks in’ a climate which is fundamentally different from today’s climate.

    I have seen nothing that convinces me this is plausible; prior to a couple of million years ago, the climate appeared to be free of cyclical ice ages over 50+ million years, and so much more stable than the last 2 million years. There is no record between 2 million and 50 million years ago indicating sharp transitions between two warm states, with one much warmer than the other. The ‘locking in’ of an ice age makes physical sense because of a large increase in Earth’s albedo from year-round ice/snow over large continental areas; I can see nothing equivalent on the warm side of the present interglacial temperatures which could ‘lock in’ much warmer (AKA catastrophic) temperatures.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Lorenz explains models – abrupt climate change requires a theory of abrupt climate change.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      stevefitzpatrick asserts [utterly blindly] “I can see  nothing equivalent  plainly the massive and unprecedented anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gases on the warm side of the present interglacial temperatures which could ‘lock in’ much warmer (AKA catastrophic) temperatures.”

      Willful blindness by stevefitzpatrick (aka “denialist cognition”), illumination by NASA/FOMD (aka “scientific cognition”).

      FURTHER ILLUMNATIONS 
      Energy-balance science by James Hansen (and many colleagues)

      History and economics by Naomi Oreskes (and many colleagues),

      Morality and stewardship by Pope Francis (and many colleagues).

      Conclusion  The light is dawning upon young scientists and young family-starting voters, eh Climate Etc readers?

      “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

         — Maya Angelou

      This doctrine is wonderful poetry, and wise statesmanship, and centuries-old Free Quaker moral testimony … and well-grounded climate-change science too.

      That testimony is ever-increasingly obvious to *EVERYONE* in the whole world, eh Climate Etc readers?

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • David Springer

      “That there are at least two stable climate regimes (warm interglacial/ice age) is pretty clear. I don’t think being able to describe this in terms of Lorenz attractors is terribly informative.”

      Yup. +1

    • David Springer

      Reason by Fitzpatrick, hyperbole by FOMD.

    • Steve Fitzpatrick

      fanny,
      Non litiges cum fatuis.
      I always apply this rule.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Steve Fitzpatrick proclaims Non litiges cum fatuis.”

      Pride-in-ignorance by Steve Fitzpatrick, humor by FOMD!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • If you take the last 400K of temperatures recorded in the ice-cores, smooth between points, and sample at the same rate, i.e. one point every 8,000 years, you find a bimodal distribution of warm and ice ages.

  20. Matthew R Marler

    Chief Hydrologist/Generalissimo Skippy/Robert Ellison:

    The idea that climate sensitivity is not constant is important.

    For a more elaborate discussion of ENSO, see Henk Dijkstra: Nonlinear Climate Dynamics. You recommended Dijkstra’s earlier book Nonlinear Physical Oceanography, which I bought, and then Amazon helpfully recommended his later book.

    I don’t see any useful quantitative answers coming out of Ghil’s (and your) approach any time soon, though. With a chaotic system, “How far you can see depends on where you are” (that’s a title of a good paper in statistics I could track down if you are interested), but without a lot of extremely precise data you can’t tell “where you are”. In particular, you can not tell from recent history whether you are near or not near a “tipping point”.

    By some conjectural calculations we are already past the point where the Earth ought to have “tipped” into an Ice Age, and the only likely candidate for why we are not freezing already is the CO2. I doubt that the modeling approach you wrote of in this essay is any help in shedding light on that conjecture.

    Thank you for your essay.

    • David Springer

      “I don’t see any useful quantitative answers coming out of Ghil’s (and your) approach any time soon, though.”

      True but it’s useful to know which questions have no useful answers in the offing so you can focus on questions which can be answered.

    • Matthew R Marler

      David Springer: True but it’s useful to know which questions have no useful answers in the offing so you can focus on questions which can be answered.

      and “directions for future research”.

    • “I don’t see any useful quantitative answers coming out of Ghil’s (and your) approach any time soon, though.” Matt, I don’t think that is Robert’s intention. He’s trying to understand a process and its capacity for sudden change. This to me (a non-mathematician – see my later post) does not suggest a basis for clear, quantified predictions for coming decades. What it does to is reinforce my policy view of increasing our capacity to deal well with whatever future befalls, given the obvious difficulties in foreseeing what will be. If we continue to have tipping points similar to those Robert notes in the 20th C, no big deal. If we don’t have the capacity to foresee more significant changes, then that perhaps is a place for further research. If the most likely major tipping is towards major cooling, that, to me and many others, is of more concern than potential warming, and those who insist on “doing something” (cf Doug Proctor’s post) would be well advised to drop anti-warming measures.

    • He is not “trying to understand a process and its capacity for sudden change”. He is simply piling on the FUD .

    • Matthew R Marler

      Faustino: ” Matt, I don’t think that is Robert’s intention. He’s trying to understand a process and its capacity for sudden change. This to me (a non-mathematician – see my later post) does not suggest a basis for clear, quantified predictions for coming decades.

      I agree that is not his intention. Comparison of calculated model output to actual data is a feature of science, and eventually this approach has to produce some demonstrably accurate models or it will have no utility. The GCMs have a solid basis in physics, but their perpetual inaccuracy shows them to be inadequate for policy. Ghil’s approach may eventually produce better models, which would be valuable for policy, but has not done so yet.

      Dijkstra, in Nonlinear Climate Dynamics, is closer to having a model for ENSO. It’s a better worked example than in Ghil’s paper cited by Ellison.

      We are bound to have another post on sensitivity; Ghil’s work provides a different definition of sensitivity, but is no help in determining whether, given the climate as it is now, sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is closer to 0K or 4K. Much as I like the work summarized in Ellison’s post, this limitation is important and should be remembered.

    • maksimovich

      Dijkstra, in Nonlinear Climate Dynamics, is closer to having a model for ENSO. It’s a better worked example than in Ghil’s paper cited by Ellison.

      Actually no,they are both singing from the same song sheet.
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2002RG000122/abstract

      Where as wind instruments are only possible in a three dimensional world (Rayleigh’s theorem) and are not possible in flatland (abbott 1884)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland

    • Robert I Ellison

      We have 2 definitions sensitivity.

      dμ/dt =γ and
      T/F = γ

      The first suggests that sensitivity to all sorts of things is variable and what seems more important than the actual value of γ
      at any time is the idea of bifurcation. Instead of a number for sensitivity for then look for diagnostics for bifurcation.

      e.g. http://www.pnas.org/content/105/38/14308.fullhttp://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucess21/00%20Thompson2010%20off%20JS%20web.pdf

      Sensitivity as a constant ceases to be of any especial significance. How can we tell the significance of changing CO2 in the atmosphere?

      If we accept the paradigm both of chaotic models and abruptly changing climate – T is unpredictable and so γ in the second equation is unknowable.

      Six of one and half a dozen of the other it seems – but at least in the former case you are looking in the right ballpark.

      There has been considerable puzzling and much progress on climate shifts.

      e.g. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00626.1

      Predicting shifts numerically is now as accurate as tossing a coin.

      Here’s a preprint of the Dijkstra & Ghil paper – looks interesting – I will have a look. Thanks.

      http://web.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd/PREPRINTS/2002RG000122.pdf

      • I just took a look at the Dijkstra & Ghil paper, would take me about a week to fully digest, seems to be extremely profound

    • Matthew R Marler

      Marler: Dijkstra, in Nonlinear Climate Dynamics, is closer to having a model for ENSO. It’s a better worked example than in Ghil’s paper cited by Ellison.

      Maksimovich:Actually no,they are both singing from the same song sheet.

      Maksimovich does not actually contradict my comparisons: “closer to”, “better worked”. But thank you for the link, and yes they are singing from the same song sheet.

    • Some of these models by Dijkstra and others are based on delay difference equations which are related to the Mathieu equation that I am using to model ENSO. Go to the Azimuth blog if you want to actually engage with creative mathematicians and physicists on this topic:
      http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/warming-slowdown-2/

    • Matthew R Marler wrote:

      I don’t see any useful quantitative answers coming out of Ghil’s (and your) approach any time soon, though.

      This was also my reaction regarding chaos to Roberts response to John Reid in “How Simple is Simple” [ mwgrant | May 25, 2014 at 11:23 pm | ]. What I did not appreciate as much then was that Ghil’s approach may lead to qualitative answers that are discriminating between alternative approaches and thus important. [The same holds for other deep or fundamental approaches.]

      For example, it might be perfectly plausible to see fluctuations in climate sensitivities (order parameters) in the vicinity of critical points arising from the increasing occurrence of local spatial regions characterized as being in one or the other of the multiple emerging candidate states. The closer the system is to a critical point the larger these localized subregions. To my mind this begins to look a lot like the much publicized advent of regional extremes (relative to the old climate.) However, as the system passes through the critical point and move further from it the fluctuations are dampen eventually ceasing as one of the emerging climate evolves as the new norm. [Here the analogy draws heavily on the behavior of phase transitions such as the ferromagnetic transition, gas-liquid transition, liquid-liquid transitions, etc.]

      This suggests several things that may be important. First, at the time of the transition climate sensitivities are essentially undefined due to the fluctuations. That calls into question of the efficacy of even using the concept in a quantitative fashion. Second, once the system passes the region near the critical point the averaging of the possible emergent states is a meaningless or at best a highly flawed exercise. (I noticed a talk where Inez Fung did this–getting a nice flat-line average climate. How common the practice is and its basis are unknown to me at this time.) Third, getting back to the local emergent regions that would be occurring near the critical point: can observations be made and partially quantified? Fourth, application of fluctuation-dissipation theorems in the vicinity of the critical point may prove interesting in linking rate processes and thermodynamic quantities–even at a qualitative or semi-qualitative level. Fifth, well frankly, it may be easier to ascertain the number of angels on the head of a pin, but as Judith senses, this approach/es is/are pretty deep and profound–and frankly shoving the science in that direction has to be a really good thing. It needs some fundamental cohesion at the foundation.

      The point here is not that any specific above are valid–I certainly do not know. Instead I am merely pointing out the potential importance and utility to even qualitative answers–particularly when rooting about at a deep fundamental level. I missed this point myself a few days ago.

      In any case this has been an interesting post.

      Best regards,
      mwg

    • Matthew R Marler

      mwgrant: What I did not appreciate as much then was that Ghil’s approach may lead to qualitative answers that are discriminating between alternative approaches and thus important.

      I think that’s the right attitude. The potential is there. The GCMs also have potential. They deserve something I might call “skeptical respect”, because the don’t have the accuracy I think we need.

      You wrote a good post there, imo.

    • mwgrant | June 2, 2014 at 12:29 am |

      Good post. How to move things forward ala Ghil? He said something, This or That. Reminded me of the PDO, the AMO. And this that Ellison mentioned: http://sparkleberrysprings.com/v-web/b2/images/climate07/04mcabefig4lg.png
      There’s so much potential for Climate Scientists to lead Science with the types of things Ghil is doing.

    • Robert I Ellison | June 2, 2014 at 4:49 pm |

      “Proposed explanations for these and other examples of abrupt climate change (aircraft stalls) usually invoke the existence of thresholds in external conditions (stall speeds) where the climate system (aircraft) is particularly sensitive, or even has a tipping point, similar to that of a canoe where one leans over too much to one side. In models such tipping points correspond to bifurcations where, at a critical value of a control parameter (air speed), an attractor (lift attractor) becomes unstable, leading to a shift to an alternative attractor (gravity attractor). The underlying mechanism causing such extreme sensitivity at particular thresholds is typically a positive feedback. (air flow separation past the wing)” – Slowing down as an early warning signal for abrupt climate change

      As they say, pull back to go up. Pull back more to go down. A Cessna 172 near an engine idled stall becomes sluggish. Large control movements don’t seem to do much. A control yoke that seems mushy is a signal to push it forward. Flying a low speeds requires concentration and a light touch. A 172 is very stable, but it is easily stall-able if you make it stall.

      More bifurcations:

      A pilots nightmare airplane. The elevator (small wing on the tail) in the lower diagram can’t do anything as it has no airflow. If unable to break a sustained stall, one wing may stall completely first, rolling the plane.

      With such an expensive plane above and experienced pilots how could it stall? Wind gusts on an approach. If something seems wrong you drop the noise. Too slow is vulnerability.

  21. Rud Istvan

    Very nice posting. Is a mathematical way to describe the underlying basis for natural variability under the presumption that things like Navier Stokes are the basic governing equations.
    It is worth pondering this presumption, because it may not be true. The turbulent chaos at micro scales may statistically wash out at macroscales, the analogy being to Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. For example, take the self regulating (damped negative feedback) perspective concerning CO2 forcing. Variant on adaptive iris. Equatorial warming gives rise to more afternoon Tstorms. Not only does that increase albedo, they move latent heat of evaporation into the troposphere, where it remains after the rain falls. That heat is better positioned to radiate away. Inability to model this precisely owing to chaos theory washes out with an accurate statistical macro description of the aggregate statistical behavior around the tropics for all Tstorms as CO2 forcing (or whatever) varies. But the current GCMs are not designed to do that, either. And if they were, hind cast tuning would have got the parameterization wrong because only on one of Ghils attractor lobes.

    IMO, the longer the time period the more generally the ‘tipping point’ hypothesis might hold. By direct analogy to Thoms work, the world is a very big sandpile, and the amount of sand added annually is small. At some point out many decades, the precautionary principal and mitigation fail to make sense economically. My own choice is anything after 2050, since Gaias Limits pointed out two other factors that will almost certainly pinch human welfare harder by then at current rates of population and economic growth.
    Also by direct analogy to Bifurcations and Lorentz’ work, attractor state transitions are still continuous; abrupt but not immediate. A major state shift (say ‘permanent’ southwest US drought just as a thought experiment) taking place over five years is a very different thing than if taking place over 50 years. The ‘suddenness’ of Bifurcation/tipping points decadal to multidecadal variation, amount and rate, would seem to be an area for fruitful study of the sort ClimateReason is doing. At a minimum, if would give boundaries for resilience planning.

    • David Springer

      “Very nice posting. Is a mathematical way to describe the underlying basis for natural variability under the presumption that things like Navier Stokes are the basic governing equations.
      It is worth pondering this presumption, because it may not be true. The turbulent chaos at micro scales may statistically wash out at macroscales, the analogy being to Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics and thermodynamics.”

      Exactamundo.

      +1

    • Robert I Ellison

      Thank you. The math describes the behaviour of models – the behavior of abrupt climate change is observed in both paleoclimatic and modern records and requires a theory. The link is bifurcation and thus the dynamic sensitivity of Michael Ghil.

      Tsonis and colleagues investigated multi-decadal shifts using ocean and atmospheric indices defined as a network of nodes on an underlying global system. This uses data to identify process. The periodicity of these abrupt changes have been known for decades – but the exact details are still mysterious.

      In principle – the abrupt changes are the result of multiple negative and positive feedbacks internally generated in interactions of powerful sub-systems – as Ghil described. Observed bifurcation that is vaguely understood in other words – that is nonetheless the fundamental nature of climate.

      If we take ENSO as an indictor of variability in global climate – there is a Holocene spanning proxy that suggest some limits to drought and flood.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/ENSO11000.gif.html?sort=3&o=226

      Unfortunately the limits far exceed anything we have seen in the last century.

      The NAS reports suggests that CO2 may increase the instability of the system. With mitigation – I would start with the easy bits – the ones with multiple paybacks.

      The climate equation is thus.

      Impact = population X affluence X (CO2 from fossil fuels + black carbon + tropospheric ozone + land clearing + loss of soil carbon + nitrous oxide + methane + sulphide)

      Population pressures are the easiest to address. In principle the 8 Millennium Development Goals – http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ – are in combination the best approach to constraining population growth. Ignore for a moment that this is a UN program and so doomed to failure. All of our western governments have committed to raising aid to 0.7% of GDP and this is probably best not sent off to the World Bank but used to supplement existing bilateral aid programs.

      You may note that the eradication of extreme poverty is one of the laudable goals. This is in fact best achieved by free trade and the adoption of democracy and models of fair, transparent and effective market regulation. Perhaps it might be best not to use the US as a model. Affluence allows the moderation of most factors in the brackets of the equation – it is quite a good thing for people and the environment.

      This is as good a starting point for actual progress on development and multi-gas mitigation as any – http://thebreakthrough.org/blog/Climate_Pragmatism_web.pdf

      But other than returning the human race to a hunter gatherer state – the only thing that is going to moderate the burning of fossil fuels is technological innovation. This is not a quandary but an opportunity. I am proposing a billion dollar global energy prize stumped up by the UN. That should get people’s attention. Maybe Wally will win a prize. And no I don’t care that giving people cheap and abundant energy would be like giving a child a machine gun.

    • Steven Mosher

      ‘ It is worth pondering this presumption, because it may not be true.’

      yup.

    • Chef Skippy said:

      “Impact = population X affluence X (CO2 from fossil fuels + black carbon + tropospheric ozone + land clearing + loss of soil carbon + nitrous oxide + methane + sulphide)”

      —-
      Really am amazed that on a post about abrupt climate changes, dragon-kings, chaos, etc., that you’d forget to mention one of the most important things— feedbacks– and specifically interrelated positive feedbacks, in which the system quickly reorganizes through the cascading effect of these feedbacks. Negative feedbacks to balance the system become overwhelmed– exactly as is happen with the Human Carbon Volcano.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Impacts include feedbacks – the RHS are the primary drivers.

    • “Robert I Ellison | May 30, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
      Impacts include feedbacks – the RHS are the primary drivers.”

      Yes, indeed, but they are a special class of impact that either accelerates or decelerates the change going on. When negative feedbacks are overwhelmed, the cascading positive feedbacks reorganize the system, or, in the most extreme case, completely destroy the system.

    • Gates,

      How do you know the feedbacks are all positive and overwhelmingly so?

    • Robert I Ellison

      The purpose of the ‘equation’ was not to be quantitative – but to put a range of policy options in the broader social and development context. CO2 is the smaller part of the problem – the low hanging fruit are the sweetest.

    • The only way a dynamical system can remain as a “system” is through a balancing act of positive and negative feedbacks. Thus, there are always some of both. When one overwhelms the other, the system , a tipping point is reached and the system reorganizes.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Not quite right.

      ‘The global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems – atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’ Michael Ghil

      The theory suggests that the system is pushed past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. It produces extremes of weather at phase transitions that Didier Sornette has called dragon-kings. Climate in this theory is an emergent property of the shift in global energies as the system settles down into a new climate state.

    • “The theory suggests that the system is pushed past a threshold…”
      —-
      And what does the “pushing”? It is called an external forcing.

    • Robert I Ellison

      That is the point of the bifurcation diagram.

    • Rub, do you know why fire doors open outwards?
      If you have inward opening doors, you can plot the rate of movement through the door at people density. Starting at zero, as people go to the door, open it, go out. Increase the number of people and the rate goes up, and goes up until people approaching from the side, start to close the doors, then the rate falls rapidly, and in the end, flow stops and all the people die in the fire.
      There are a number of hydrolic/pneumatic valves that operate the same way.
      Kinetic’s and thermodynamic’s are quite different; there are whole fields of chemistry that are thermodynamically rich and kinetically poor, like reactions of hydroxyl radical, and ones that are kinetically rich, and thermodynamically poor, like the oxidation of nitrogen oxides in aqueous solution.

    • maksimovich

      Really am amazed that on a post about abrupt climate changes, dragon-kings, chaos, etc.,

      Climate changes abruptly ie the role of chance such as fridays Sangeang volcanic excursion.

    • “Climate changes abruptly ie the role of chance such as fridays Sangeang volcanic excursion.”

      —-
      Yep. And as amazing as this is, imagine a volcano 1000 times more powerful erupting. Exactly such a thing happened a few times in the past 1,000 years. Once at the beginning and once in the middle of the LIA. The impact on tropospheric temperatures was severe and immediate, but the longer-term impact on oceans was even more severe from an energy standpoint and lingered for decades each time. The thermal inertia of the oceans and related impacts on sea ice is the key.

    • Peter Lang

      The NAS reports suggests that CO2 may increase the instability of the system.

      Is this supported by paleoclimate evidence – especially before ice accumulated at the poles?

      What about for the cold periods such as the LIA and Dark ages compared with the Roman and MWP?

      What does TonyB’s reseach have to say on this?

    • Peter

      You ask about CO2 and instability in recent historic times.

      Here is my article on co2 as related to CET

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/08/the-curious-case-of-rising-co2-and-falling-temperatures/

      Since that chart CET has sunk to around 0.3C anomaly but hopefully has now bottomed out. I have researched thoroughly to around the 1080’s up to 1400 and then the period you can see in the graph. The 1400’s themselves are as yet a closed book to me.

      However if you very roughly replicate the ups-including the modern era-with nowhere near as serious downs as during the LIA, with, as you head through the 12th and 11th century being consistently (but not always) warmer than the modern era , it can be seen that there was considerable temperature/climate changes to wamer and colder than today, not influenced by CO2..

      The climate instability can be well perceived in this extended contemporary record which includes the great volcano of 1258 which was supposed to have been the trigger for the LIA. The trouble is that there had already been a down turn BEFORE the volcano and the climate improved again immediately after, with many oscillations . It is difficult to see how either co2 or Volcanos have a great or lasting effect from the evidence we currently see

      ——– ——.
      1247 very unseasonable weather in late winter especially cold and rainy and windy

      1249 very mild winter so that neither snow nor frost covered the face of the earth nor bound it in their customary weather, trees were seen to be sprouting in February. Winter was turned into summer but intense cold came at end of March and lasted until middle of May that made people shiver that casting off linen they were compelled to resume double clothing.
      1252 very hot and dry summer, very wet autumn heat of the sun so great that all the earth became dry no fruit grew on trees. At end of harvest there was great flooding breaking bridges mills and houses adjoin the rivers

      Matthew paris notes in most of march and the whole of the months of april and may the ground was burnt up by the sun the wind continuing from south west north or east. The sun rose up to its solstitial culmination and its immoderate and intolerable heat so burned up the earths surface and multiplied its warmth that the herbage withered away. Moreover the heat continued into the night and generated flies flea and other injurious pests.
      He also writes in april may june and july heat and drought prevailed intolerably without beneficial sprinkling of rain or dew. Meadows were stripped of their grass, plant foliage withered. According to john de taxter ‘this year many died from the excessive heat of the summer. There was much thunderstorms. Robert of Gloucester noted in 1270 ‘in the year of grace 1252 the summer was so dry and hot that even until this day there has been none hotter .’short cold spell around oct 13 which was very wet.

      1253 dry summer and wet autumn with in spring and summer a prolonged drought. Flooding in autumn which dried up after the feast of St Michael happened in spring (drought) contrary to the nature of the season, for at the time of the equinox with the whole weather moderate there is customarily peace in the elements
      Brooks and glasspole believe 1252 and 1253 to be the driest of which we have any historical account; see Meteorological magazine 63 1928, page 4.

      1254 cold weather in jan and feb ceasing on march 12th. ‘ Mathew paris notes ‘also on this day march 12th the bitter frost ceased which had continued nearly the whole winter that is since the night of the circumcision. ‘
      Much north and easterly wind continually blowing in the spring for three months and several days which blasted the flowers and fruit about the calends of july namely in the time of the solstice quite suddenly inundations of rain broke forth with very violent hail of a kind not seen before which lasted for an hour or more breaking off tiles and parts of houses and stripping branches of trees.
      M paris notes; Very unseasonable summer from the day of ascencion to the feat of all saints hardy two or three serene days passed without continual disturbance of the air.
      In the autumn all the ground bounded by and in the neighbourhood of the sea which they had sown diligently was saturated by salt and found to be devoid of crops as the sea had occupied the land during the winter time
      1255 gales in feb and march. From the feast of st valentine for a month a violent wind with heavy rains day and night both by land and sea caused unheard of disturbance.
      There was then very unsettled weather the north wind blowing nearly the whole spring which is very inimical to the flowers and sprouting trees. And through the whole of april neither shower nor dew moistened the dry earth or gave it any warmth. The air was parched by the blowing of the north and east wind.
      In this summer there was a drought due to the east winds continuing from mid march to the calends of june.
      Rain followed and on the third of the ides of july a great tempest of hail in the trent valley marvellously beyond the ordinary nothing like it had been seen before with widespread destruction of crops by floods of water in the valley of the trent such as had not happened for a long time
      1255/6 a great gale and rain the whole winter from the feast of all saints until whitsun-this is likely to refer to nov 1st 1255 to june 4th 1256
      1256 severe thunderstorms july 25 gales on oct 5th and oct 26th which was unprecedented overturned houses and shook down stones. Possibly duplicates a great storm from oct 26th 1254
      Another thunderstorm on nov 16th and on dec 28th, this latter one was very severe with much flooding it was accompanied by a fierce whirlwind. ‘the thunder sounded a sad prophecy for it was in the middle of winter and the cold was more like that of February. Unsettled weather then lasted for three months.
      1257 from the first day of February until the first of may the whole of england was turned into a bog and a quagmire by the turbulent winds and the foul storms. (this description might refer to 1256)
      Excessive rains in summer with much flooding destruction and loss of hay. Another chronicler noted that before the octave of st benedict there commenced such floods of rain that the earth was downed bridges houses and mills borne away, roads made impassable. Probably lasted until august as some crops were saved.
      Mathew paris notes; the past year was sterile and meagre whatever was growing was choke by the floods of autumn for there was neither a temperate nor a serene day nor was even the surface of the lakes hardened up by the frost as is usual, nor were icicles hanging but there were continued inundations of rain until the purification of the blessed virgin
      1258 the serene air of autumn and its temperateness continued until the end of January so that nowhere and at no time was the surface of the water frozen up. But from that time to the end of march the north wind continually blew frost snow and intolerable cold prevailed the face of the earth was bound up cultivation was suspended ad young cattle were killed.
      The north wind blew continually, when april may and the principal part of june had passed the flowers of plants had scarcely germinated.
      Great tempest of flooding rain, snow ice thunder and lighting on the 12th of june causing great flooding on the river seven around bristol and Shrewsbury. Much loss of life. Note; This might refer to 1259.)
      General scarcity and expense of wheat due to inundations of previous year. In 1258 autumn crops nearly rotted by autumn rain. Very late and tedious autumn on account of the continual and persistent rains.
      Matthew paris notes; now this past year was very dissimilar to all previous years that is it was unhealthy and mortal stormy and exceedingly rainy so much so that although in summer time the harvest seemed promising by the time of autumn continual heavy rains choked the crops .
      Terrible thunderstorm on december 1st.

      http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/09/26/1307520110 Mount Rinjani erution probably May to Oct 1257
      http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2013/09/130930-volcano-science-historic-eruption-indonesia-rinjani-mystery-disaster/
      http://www.volcano.si.edu/
      (volcano info provides a spread sheet of eruptionsas excel-saved as ‘volcanos’

      1259 everything grew in moderate abundance and the dry weather presented an unexpected sufficiency.
      1260 great and prolonged summer drought so that barley and oats remained hidden in the ground even until autumn . however showers then caused germination but they didn’t ripen due to lack of warmth.
      Great thunderstorm on june 23.
      MP noted, in this summer great and enormous portents happened in the air so that some people said the last judgement was near.so many continuous thunderstorms that hardly anyone was bold enough to leave his house. (the London annals confirms these storms)
      During the christmas period there was such continued fine weather and serenity of the air that one would have said that it was pleasant summer time rather than winter.
      ——- ——– —-
      tonyb

    • Peter Lang

      Tony B,

      Thank you for this. Very interesting. Do you have the temperature data in a format so you can plot mean and standard deviation, and compare these (especially the standard deviation for warm periods and cold periods? If my hypothesis is correct, the standard deviation would be lower during the warm periods and and higher during the cold periods. Are you bale to test that hypothesis?

      If it is true, then warmer is better from the point of view of having a more stable climate.

  22. “This is math that is not in Kansas anymore.”

    What does the yellow brick road represent?

  23. Robert Ellison

    Thank you for this essay which seems to recapitulate many of the ideas collated from the literature. I find my thinking coalescing; i.e., piecemeal concepts put into a theme. Easier for me to ponder.

    Your statement:

    “I find it difficult to reconcile anthropogenic forcing with this notion of a system that shifts radically when pushed past a threshold.”

    I too have been meaning to raise this issue with you. The physics of CO2 contained in a flask, sitting on a lab bench, poking light beams at it and measuring some consequence seems so unlike the open weather and climate systems in which CO2 has to compete for infra-red radiation. An open system seems to go against a monotonically concentration of a trace gas and tipping point yielding new climate regimes.

    In two examples of Ghil’s possible non-equilibrium models, CO2 was depicted as some sort of forcing that resulted in an elevation of surface temperatures. That seems to get back to linear thinking again.

    ” I think that Newton’s fourth rule entitles me to take the satellite data at face value. This makes CO2 a minor factor in recent warming – and the system is powerful enough for it to go anywhere it wants.”

    This makes abrupt climate change being related to processes not yet elucidated and barely hinted at; which makes the study of climate very fresh and interesting.

    CO2 focus is a minor detour from our beginning to understand natural climate variation.

    Last and probably least, the concept of momentum with regards to Lorenz and initialization of his models. Is there momentum of some substances or state that precedes entering the initialization of the model, before running the model, that influences the rate of change in the model runs? Fig 1 from Slingo and Palmer.

    Again, thank you for this summarizing essay. It helps a lot, for me.

  24. Figure 4. Combines sensitivity with abrupt changes. I find slope changes easy to visualize and follow. It makes the point to me that like a stock market bubble which is unsustainable. that near vertical slopes, must collapse. About that red line, it seems it’s showing that a regime change can misfire and go back to the previous upper state. Given the right situation, would we see what was called a ‘Do Loop’? The system would be making multiple attempts to shift. Could the S-Curve diagram be reworked with a possible explanation of our current state, to show the ENSO process? The figure 4 diagram worked for me and has much explanatory power.

    • Peter Lang

      Ragnaar,

      You may be well ahead of me in interpreting this diagram, so ignore the rest if it is BS. I’ve been pondering it for quite a while.

      I interpret that our current position is on the top blue line at μ =1 which is at T = 287.7 K. This is slightly above Tc which is at about 273 K.

      If insolation increases and we move to the right, to a position below the top blue line and above the red line, then we would move up to the top blue line. Any time the planet is above the red line it will warm and move up to the top blue line.

      Any time the planet is below the red line it will cool and move down to the bottom blue line.

      Once at the bottom blue line, insolation would have to more than double (i.e. increase to 2.1 μ) to get us out of the extreme ice age. Then we’d warm up to the top blue line (and end up very hot at about 360 K).

      If insolation decreases from where it is now (i.e.μ = 1.0) to Tc (i.e. μ = 0..99, a decrease of just 0.1 μ from our current insolation) the planet’s temperature would drop 100 K into an extreme ice age (a factor of 10 greater drop than actually occurs between glacial and interglacial periods). I realise the diagram is schematic, but I’d like to understand what was the basis of Ghil’s figures on the vertical axis. Are they just made up or are they derived from some sort of analysis. If the latter, then I lose some confidence in the paper because it suggests there was no obvious attempt to match it to reality.)

      Any helpful comments would be appreciated.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The average temp is about right – 16 degree C.

      Your interpretation seems fine.

      The model is based on energy equations – with variable albedo especially. It is more a snowball Earth scenario. He then proceeds to more complex models in a hierarchy of models.

      e.g. http://www.ipam.ucla.edu/programs/clws2/

    • Peter Lang

      Robert I Ellison,

      Thank you. The bit that doesn’t seem right to me is the drop from 273 K at Tc to 175.4 K if insolation decreases from μ =1.0 to μ = 0.99. That’s a drop of about 100 K which seems to be nearly a factor of 10 too high.

    • Peter Lang

      Correction: makes that a factor of 2 to 5, not a factor of 10.

    • Peter Lang | May 31, 2014 at 3:20 am |

      With the large drop down at 1.0, I think of that as a minor problem. The drop may be 5.0 C. Also the system has momentum so an immediate temperature drop is more likely to be lagged. I see figure 4 as an illustration of how some non-linear systems work and what can a match up this picture to? Elsewhere I mentioned putting the tradewinds on horizontal scale and the IPWP on the vertical.

      Consider ice forming on the little lake behind my office in Minnesota in November. Wind speed which prevents ice is on the horizontal axis. Open water with more on top is on the vertical scale. As the wind drops and conditions have been set up by it being November, this type of diagram captures the critical short term events. We get a huge drop in open water quickly. Now that ice has formed, wind becomes much less the control parameter and 2 weeks later, wind is irrelevant. Wind gains power as we approach ice out. It is almost always the wind the sweeps the weakened ice to one side of the lake to clear it.

      At other parts of the year, the lines will have different slopes which is to say, the lines drift. Many inputs go into the shape of the evolving lines.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The mean temperature drop in snowball Earth would be perhaps some 70 degrees C – depending on the ultimate albedo – so in the right ballpark.

    • Peter Lang, “I interpret that our current position is on the top blue line at μ =1 which is at T = 287.7 K”

      One of the problems is that while the temperature may be about 288K degrees the effective temperature is about 303 K degrees. Effective because a portion of the energy is converted to latent heat. At 303 K degrees, the S-B equivalent energy is about 480 Wm-2 or about twice the applied energy for a 30% albedo. If a doubling of CO2 causes a 3.7Wm-2 increase then the effective energy would increase by about 7.4 Wm-2 (doubled just like the input energy) with a slightly larger portion going to increased latent energy. If albedo and the latent to sensible heat ratio remain constant you would have a nice, tidy, nearly linear problem. However, since latent energy produces over 80% of the albedo you have a complex feedback relationship that can vary “surface” temperature in a number of ways, albedo, latent heat loss, convective heat loss and mass lass (or gains) since it is an open dissipative system.. So a lot of the “chaos” is simply due to the selected metric, “surface temperature”. If you stick to comparing energy to energy and avoid the temperature conversion non-linearity, the problem is simplified.

      In other words, most of the “chaos” is self induced due to picking a crappy frame of reference.

    • “So a lot of the “chaos” is simply due to the selected metric, “surface temperature”. If you stick to comparing energy to energy and avoid the temperature conversion non-linearity, the problem is simplified.”

      Yep, the real climate bifurcation points always involve external forcings that change the total net energy of the system. Energy flux within the system is akin to creating black-swan events, with the real tipping points being dragon Kings.

    • R. Gates, “Yep, the real climate bifurcation points always involve external forcings that change the total net energy of the system.”

      That is true if the boundaries of the “system” properly consider the properties of the system. Since “surface” temperature is not always enveloped in the radiant boundary problem and some “internal” responses traverses the effective 240Wm-2 radiant boundary layer (Brewer-Dobson circulation for example), you have to be careful what you call “external” forcing and the time frame for responses.

    • “…you have to be careful what you call “external” forcing and the time frame for responses.”
      ——
      Agreed. And from a total system energy perspective it becomes a bit easier to define– external forcings cause the net energy of the system to increase or decrease, and are not not a direct effect from some other external forcing.

    • Peter Lang

      Ragnar, thank you for your comments.

      With the large drop down at 1.0, I think of that as a minor problem. The drop may be 5.0 C.

      I agree the temperature changes from glacial to interglacial have been about 5 to 13 C, as shown by this NASA chart: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php But the Ghil chart shows that when insolation falls below the tipping point, which is about a 2% reduction in insolation from where we are currently at (according to the Ghil chart), then the temperature would drop 100 K and insolation would have to more than double to lift us out of that.

      Robert I Ellison,

      Thank you.

      The mean temperature drop in snowball Earth would be perhaps some 70 degrees C – depending on the ultimate albedo – so in the right ballpark.

      Well, perhaps. But I am don’t think showball Earth is likely scenario. The last Snowball occurred before the planet had a wonderful thermostat – vegetation cover! I think the glacial-interglacial cycles are a much more realistic scenario to discuss. I would suggest Ghil’s chart would be more meaningful and valuable if it was based on the realistic temperature change of about 10 K over the Pleistocene glacial- interglacial cycles. The fact it doesn’t match with this reality devalues it somewhat IMO.

      Capt Dallas,

      Thank you for your comment. I don’t really understand how to interpret your comment. Are you saying that the climate would be more volatile if insolation was higher? If so, that this empirical evidence doesn’t support that conclusion – see Figure 15:21 here: http://eprints.nuim.ie/1983/1/McCarron.pdf

      Robert I Ellison, Ragnar and Capt Dallas, Tony B, R Gates others welcome,

      I’m about to post a more detailed comment on a premise I draw from the Ghil chart. I’d appreciate comments on it. I’ll post the comment at the bottom so the comments can be together and easy to follow any discussion that follows.

  25. Very easy to predict ENSO for two reasons. One it has the property of an oscillating system with a reversion to the mean. Second, it is well described by a differential equation with nonlinear parameters that follows boundary conditions rather than initial conditions.

    And this is all in the context of a globally warming climate

    • Please provide a dozen citations on the accurate predictions of ENSO cycles, strengths, etc.


    • Howard | May 30, 2014 at 4:21 pm |

      Please provide a dozen citations on the accurate predictions of ENSO cycles, strengths, etc.

      Sorry, I am a skeptic in the same way RG is. I don’t do argument by authority.
      I work these problems out on my own and determined that the ENSO system is more predictable than commonly thought.
      http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/

      You have a problem with that?

      Interesting to know your response because most skeptics around these parts don’t listen to authority either.

    • Web
      You keep saying this but I haven’t seen either of your prediction or the differential equation. Perhaps I missed it as I read as much as possible but often miss many posts. Have you provided that information?

    • Nevermind I see you have it here and below thanks.

    • Circular references that are great at hind-casting worthless, WHT. The funny thing is that I agree with your conceptual premise that ENSO is currently masking warming. It seems, however, you are too ignorant of actual earth process physics on small and large spatiotemporal scales to fully appreciate why ENSO cannot actually be predicted and why .

    • Robert I Ellison

      QBO -> ENSO -> QBO -> ENSO – iterate endlessly.

      It is all so painfully obvious to anyone but webby.

    • Robert I Ellison

      I should just go back to ignoring him – bye webby.

    • The QBO is a nearly periodic forcing function. The ENSO is not.

      If what you say is true, then the two should converge to a common periodic function. Yet ENSO remains erratic.

      So the Chief runs away to hide because he can’t deal with logic.

  26. Abrupt climate change means 5C warming by 2100 and a 20 foot sea level rise this century due to elevated CO2 is entirely possible.

    You know what they say, plan for the worst.

    • Robert I Ellison

      As I have said – I am a climate catastrophist (in the sense of René Thom ).

      But CO2 is the smaller part of the problem. Came back with ideas to pragmatically address the big picture.

    • Unless it changes in the opposite direction lolwot.

      What you gonna do then?

    • you can’t seriously think it will go in the opposite direction.

      Beside as I said, plan for the worst. Heading back to 20th century levels is not the worst!

    • Ignore the millennial at your perennial.
      =============

    • Robert I Ellison

      Yes I seriously think it can go in the other direction. At the very least – surface non-warming – or even cooling – is possible for decades. It must be true – I read it in peer reviewed climate science.

    • lolwot,

      So, you don’t believe in ice ages? You know beyond all doubt that there are only positive feedback loops in the climate system? You can demonstrate how every bit of evidense available to us guarantees that warmer is worse?

      That’s not a crystal ball you are looking into. It’s your tv set, tuned to the horror channel. Try it off, step outside, and bask in the sunlight.

  27. Robert I Ellison

    Steven Mosher | May 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm |

    ‘ It is worth pondering this presumption, because it may not be true.’

    yup.

    I have learnt that I need to make the distinction between models and climate clearer.

    The set of model equations is chaotic. Uncertainties in data propagate in calculations through time. Multiple starting points and differences in boundary conditions generate multiple solutions that diverge to a range of solutions. Thus the best that they can do is to generate a pdf of potential climate states.

    The chaos of climate is from a different source. The interaction of physical subsystems each with ‘characteristic times’ from hours to millennia that include but go far beyond turbulence.

    ‘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 circulation.’

    A UNIFIED MODELING APPROACH TO CLIMATE SYSTEM PREDICTION – James Hurrell, Gerald A. Meehl, David Bader, Thomas L. Delworth , Ben Kirtman, and Bruce Wielicki: BAMS December 2009 | 1819: DOI: 10.1175/2009BAMS2752.1

    It all seems a very inadequate way of expressing things – but it is all there is. Observation of abrupt change and climate states that seem to be an emergent property of the system itself is where it starts and finishes.

  28. “The ENSO cycle is present in all relevant records,
    going back 130 kyr…” and, “obvious features of the records… are the irregular oscillations occurring about
    every 4 years (2-7 years is usually taken as defining the ENSO band). Some time periods such as the late 19th or 20th centuries are marked by numerous high amplitude oscillations, while others (e.g. the 1930s) are rather quiet.”

    Was you ever bit by a dead-wrong school teacher? Sort of makes you wonder how such obvious natural events escaped the attention of the CRUgaters until you remember they smoothed over the MWP and LIA too. Oh well, so much for the catastrophe of it all.

    (Source for quoted material: ‘The evolution of El Niño, past and future,’ by Mark A. Cane)

  29. Before turning to model projections of the future, we briefly consider what can be learned from the changes since the rise of CO2 began in earnest in the late 19th century. Trenberth and Hoar (1997), noting that greenhouse gas concentrations rose sharply in the past few decades, argued that the increase in the frequency and amplitude of ENSO events in the 1980s and 1990s was highly unusual, significantly different from the behavior in the preceding century, and thus attributable to anthropogenic causes. Rajagopalan et al (1997) used a different statistical model to formulate their null hypothesis and concluded that the behavior was not significantly different from that in the earlier part of the instrumental record (also see Wunsch, 1999). The arguments are technical and inconclusive; the reader is invited to compare the last quarter of the 20th century with the last quarter of the 19th century in Figure 1 and decide if the level of ENSO activity in the two eras is strikingly different. By some measures the 1877 El Niño was more powerful than any of the events in the 20th century. Record drought in India, as well as severe droughts in Ethiopia, China, Northeast Brazil and elsewhere, all contributed to what is fairly described as a global holocaust (Davis, 2001).

    (Ibid.)

    • Robert I Ellison

      The 1976/77 ‘Great Pacific Climate Shift’ was inevitably slated to global warming. No real evidence was of course possible. That it shifted again in 1998/2001 put the kybosh on that idea and it sank without a trace.

      This is a high resolution ENSO proxy – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/moy2002/moy2002.html – the data is downloadable easily enough and it is fun to compare vales. The 1998 El Nino had a red intensity of 90. There were comparable and bigger El Nino in the 1870’s. But it pales to values seen at other times.

      ‘According to Fig. 5, a series of intense El Nino events (high red color intensity) begins at about 1450 BC that will last for centuries. In that period normal (La Nina) conditions have all but disappeared. For comparison, the very strong 1998 El Nino event scores 89 in red color intensity. During
      the time when the Minoans were fading, El Nino events reach values in red color intensity over 200.’ http://www.clim-past.net/6/525/2010/cp-6-525-2010.pdf

    • “The 1976/77 ‘Great Pacific Climate Shift’ was inevitably slated to global warming. No real evidence was of course possible. That it shifted again in 1998/2001 put the kybosh on that idea and it sank without a trace.”

      This gets to the “wicked” nature of the problem of AGW. How the internal variability of the system is altered by, or mixed into, the external forcing is the key issue when looking at these “shifts”. Mann’s perspective on the AMO is exactly this point, and thus, makes it difficult to properly access things like the “stadium wave”.

      • We cannot get out of the way of their own functional ignorance. They refuse to see the world as it is. “In so complex a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system as climate,” says Philip Stott, “not doing something at the margins is as unpredictable as doing something. This is the cautious science; the rest is dogma.”

  30. Our comprehensive coupled general circulation models are impressive… The ENSO cycle, however, is not their forte. Present attempts to summon the ENSO of the future bring forth a motley and uncertain set of responses… The quality of ENSO simulations has improved dramatically in the past decade… But for the present, the future of ENSO lies in depths of vast uncertainty, beyond our summons.

    (Ibid.)

  31. Robert,

    I was able to follow along. Perhaps trailing the pack, but I at least think I understand what you wrote. Thanks.

  32. Stephen Segrest

    Two layman questions on Dr. Curry’s categories of Hypothesis I, II, or III:

    (1) In Hypothesis I and II only with regard to CO2, both Hypotheses “eventually” end up at the same place. Only the progression is different. So for Hypothesis II folks (again only regarding CO2), the current “Pause” is no big deal — right?

    (2) If a layman had to choose only one thing about Hypothesis III to better technically understand — what should this “one thing” be?

    • Hasn’t CAGW theory failed given that increases in atmospheric CO2 have followed and not preceded increases in global warming?

    • Hasn’t CAGW theory failed given that increases in atmospheric CO2 have followed and not preceded increases in global warming?
      Co2 has risen for five thousand years without a matching increase in temperature.
      http://popesclimatetheory.com/page38.html

    • True, “there is the information from the long term antarctic ice core and some from recent paper in the arctic,” says Dr. Daniel Botkin (former CAGW-believer turned skeptic), “that suggest that carbon dioxide does not lead temperature change, it may actually lag it significantly or may not lead it at all.”

  33. The picture presented here is qualitative and to me is openly presented that way. No heartburn here; I refer to a picture because it is not a formal theory. Certain physical characteristics of chaotic systems are suggested to be consistent with limited climate observations. Considering only that one might dismiss ed the picture in a hurry–as I did on ‘How simple is simple’. However, based on what is presented here and how it is present this approach to explanation has more appeal as a conceptual tool. A particular tease in my mind is the parallel to phase transitions where symmetry breaking is is so fundamental in the description and how it is manifested in macro (global) parameters–thinking here of climate sensitivity or perhaps a more fundamental successor? In addition, one might speculate on what roles math tools like scaling laws, renormalization,etc., could play. Fun stuff and potentially conceptually useful insights may be there, but it is very far from quantitative prediction. [Again IMO Ellison is clear enough on this and his prediction is IMO appropriately qualitative.]

    In a completely different vein, I have no problem or confusion of Ellison’s use of the Lorenz equations as an example of a chaotic system. However, the use of those equations along with the initial mapping figure did omit one detail in working from general to specific: Only the variables and BCs are variable; ideally one wishes to maximize the suffering and go with fully stochastic DEs!

    • …A particular tease in my mind is the parallel to phase transitions where symmetry breaking is is so fundamental in the description and how it is manifested in macro (global) parameters i.e., order parameters–thinking here of climate sensitivity or perhaps a more fundamental successor?…

  34. Figure 1. I found this one helpful: https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/images/fig3.preview.gif
    It’s similar to yours but in my case it has more explanatory power with the two possible outcomes.

    “For a number of years I have been looking for a breakthrough way of expressing these ideas.”

    dx/dt = P(y – x)
    dy/dt = Rx – y – xz
    dz/dt = xy – By

    Do I really understand the above? No. On my list of things to do, is an attempt to do so. If the above equations were presented to a legislative panel, I’d say the presenter would have no shot of moving things forward. Compared to your 2 figures I’ve commented on, the pictures are going to be more successful. But I am coming from my point of view which seems to be picture dependent.

    300 meters under the surface:

    The above hopefully animates. What are we seeing? Are we capturing that rare and important thing? Tremendous energy…

    • Robert I Ellison

      Ragnaar,

      This is simple and fun for all. We know what P, R and B are – and assume some staring points x, y and z and that dt is whatever time step you want. You can then work out dx, dy and dz – which is simply movement in x, y and z dimensions. You then add dx, dy and dz to your starting point for a new x, y and z and make the calculation again. Abut 6 million times. I haven’t actually done it.

      The little Java applet linked is a fun little toy – you can changes the point and plot multiple curves in different colours by grabbing the dot and moving it – you can change the 3D view, etc.

      We are seeing in your animation El Nino rapidly propagating across the Pacific.

      This I found on the Michael Ghil’s Theoretical Climate Dynamics group website yesterday – http://web.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd//RESEARCH/enso_regrfcst.html

      Looks reasonable to me.

  35. Robert Ellison, this would be a much better discussion without the reference to the PDO. The PDO as defined by JISAO and all of the supporting papers is inversely related to the surface temperature of the North Pacific, and therefore cannot impact global surface temperatures in the way that is suggested in your post. See:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/the-201415-el-nino-part-5-the-relationship-between-the-pdo-and-enso/

    It would make much more sense if you were to use the less commonly used term PDV (for Pacific Decadal Variability), to represent the multidecadal variations of ENSO, in which El Niño events dominate for some periods, while in others La Niña events dominate.

    Regards

    • Robert I Ellison

      Are you overthinking this Bob? The cold blue V in the sst anomalies at the top are the result of cold upwelling on the eastern margin of the Pacific. Apart from fisheries – the obvious clue for cold upwelling – the periods of the PDO are coincident with warming and cooling of the global surface, patterns of global hydrology, qualitative changes in ENSO, changes in wind fields, etc. The big cold blue V cools the planet by sequestering atmospheric heat. It also cools with cloud feedbacks anti-correlated with SST.

      e.g. http://www.drroyspencer.com/Clement-et-al-cloud-feedback-Science-2009.pdf

      It also seems to correspond to global energy dynamics.

      e.g. http://www.benlaken.com/documents/AIP_PL_13.pdf

      The latest shift is associated with a step change in cloud.

      But it is incorrect to think of any of this as separate from the global climate dynamic – chaotic oscillators as network nodes on the global system. In the context of a chaotic system I am less inclined to be dogmatic about causality than in looking at break points in the global system.

    • Robert I Ellison says: “Are you overthinking this Bob?”

      Not at all. Using the right dataset is fundamental to any research effort, and the PDO (the spatial pattern of the sea surface temperature anomalies of the extratropical North Pacific) is the wrong dataset for this discussion.

      Robert I Ellison says: “The cold blue V in the sst anomalies at the top are the result of cold upwelling on the eastern margin of the Pacific.”

      “The cold blue V in the sst anomalies” is a basic response to ENSO.

      Robert I Ellison says: “The big cold blue V cools the planet by sequestering atmospheric heat.”

      Wrong. The vast majority of the heat exchange from the tropical Pacific to the atmosphere is through evaporation. “The big cold blue V” indicates the ocean is releasing less heat than normal (through evaporation), not sequestering it.

      Robert I Ellison says: “It also cools with cloud feedbacks anti-correlated with SST.
      e.g. http://www.drroyspencer.com/Clement-et-al-cloud-feedback-Science-2009.pdf”

      The region studied by Clement et al (115° to 145°W, 15° to 25°N) is primarily within the tropical Pacific, which means it is outside (primarily) the region used to determine the PDO. And it was an awfully small region upon which to confirm the results of a climate model. And you, Robert, are making global assumptions about a teenie little region in the northeast tropical Pacific. Looks like Clement et al went in search of one portion of the global oceans where one climate model gave the results they were looking for. I also could find no reference of ENSO in that paper, which has similar multidecadal variations and is the dominant mode of natural variability for the tropical Pacific…and the Pacific…and the globe. I wouldn’t take the results of Clement et al too seriously.

      Robert I Ellison says: “It also seems to correspond to global energy dynamics.
      e.g. http://www.benlaken.com/documents/AIP_PL_13.pdf
      The latest shift is associated with a step change in cloud.”

      That shift represents a problem with the ISCCP data. Apparently you didn’t read the paper, Robert. Palle and Laken write, just above their Figure 2:

      “For ISCCP, however, several significant jumps are clearly evident in Figure 2, connected to a shift in mean cloud anomalies. This suggests that spurious changes exist within the ISCCP data that may have contributed to long-term changes, as suggested by numerous authors [2, 3, 9]. A calibration artifact origin of these changes appears to be highly likely, as can be seen in Figure 3 where geographically-resolved long-term ISCCP trends are shown.”

      Robert I Ellison says: “But it is incorrect to think of any of this as separate from the global climate dynamic – chaotic oscillators as network nodes on the global system. In the context of a chaotic system I am less inclined to be dogmatic about causality than in looking at break points in the global system.”

      The breakpoints exist in the sea level pressure data and ENSO data, which are what cause the PDO.

      Regards

    • Peeking beneath the waves, there must be great insight here. Laissez les contretemps roll on.
      ============

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘Wrong. The vast majority of the heat exchange from the tropical Pacific to the atmosphere is through evaporation. “The big cold blue V” indicates the ocean is releasing less heat than normal (through evaporation), not sequestering it.’

      Losing less heat? I am inclined to think it is the same thing.

      Clements is rich in observation in the areas of upwelling. I like it. The cold blue V is -PDO + La Nina – the spatial signature of ENSO is the central Pacific.

      ‘That shift represents a problem with the ISCCP data. Apparently you didn’t read the paper, Robert. Palle and Laken write, just above their Figure 2:’

      But it is cross correlated with SST – which was the point. It is as well captured by Project Earthshine.

      ‘Linear trends from ISCCP also suggest that the dataset contains considerable features of an artificial origin. Despite this, an examination of ISCCP in relation to the MODIS dataset shows that over the past ten years of overlapping measurements between 60°N–60°S both datasets have been in close agreement (r = 0.63, p = 7×10-4). Over
      this time total cloud cover has been relatively stable. Both ISCCP and MODIS datasets show a close correspondence to Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) over the Pacific region, providing a further independent validation of the datasets.’

      ‘The breakpoints exist in the sea level pressure data and ENSO data, which are what cause the PDO.’

      The PDO is the result of more or less upwelling off the US coast – cold and nutrient rich water fueling biological productivity. It has nothing to do with ENSO except that both have the same decadal periodicity. Which is the intriguing problem.

    • “‘Wrong. The vast majority of the heat exchange from the tropical Pacific to the atmosphere is through evaporation. “The big cold blue V” indicates the ocean is releasing less heat than normal (through evaporation), not sequestering it.”
      —-
      This is correct. There is less latent and sensible heat flux from ocean to atmosphere during La Niña dominant periods and overall global ocean heat content increases.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The heat comes from the Sun and – nominally – less is lost to the atmosphere. So it hiding away and sequester is exactly the right word.

      This is a trivial idea endlessly rehashed.

      It is complicated by cloud changes. That’s where it gets interesting.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Clementetal2009.png.html?sort=3&o=157

  36. Former CAGW believer turned skeptic, Daniel B. Botkin confirmed to Congress this week what Judith Curry and others have said since the last UN-IPCC report was released–i.e.,

    I was concerned that there was a human induced climate warning… but since the middle of the 1990s, there is evidence that is running against that… there are several lines of evidence that are suggesting that it [AGW] is a weaker case today, not a stronger case.

  37. Interesting article and discussion.

    Considering the uncertainty, the way forward seems clear. Continue to study (climate money should go toward collecting data and studying it, not solar and wind subsidies), but in the meantime, promote policies that increase prosperity and decrease poverty. And avoid policies that do the opposite. When and if we determine that CO2 is harmful, we will be in better shape to address it if we are rich than if we are poor.

    Making the world poorer in an attempt to lower CO2 emissions doesn’t make any sense to me. First of all, we really don’t know that the CO2 is hurting anything. Second, even if it is, we don’t know whether our attempts will slow down CO2 emissions enough to help (proposed and enacted policies to date have had little influence on CO2 levels). Explain again why we should continue and expand policies that put a damper on the creation of wealth and make it harder for people to get out of poverty?

  38. …temperature change is not tracking carbon dioxide very well… it [CO2] may actually lag it significantly or may not lead it at all, and if that is the case that is still an open but important scientific evidence. (Former CAGW believer turned skeptic, Daniel B. Botkin, speaking this week at a U.S. Congressional Hearing)

  39. Nice post that does a good job explaining singularities and how a sysmulation might produce probibillity statistics.

    We don’t know climate dynamics, error sources and probability distribution so trying to get meaningful climate probability statistics using a Monte-Carlo is not going to happen. This coupled with a climate system that is nonlinear, full of singularities and numerically ill posed makes the problem truly wicked.

    Early in my career I analyzed aircraft inertial navigation system performance using a Monte-Carlo simulation. (Monte-Carlo method is to use a random number generator that generates an error with statistic that of the error sources IIRC there were about a 20 different error sources. I would run the simulation and around a 1000 times each time with new errors. Once the runs were complete I would generate performance statistics. Any fewer runs and the statistics were unreliable. We were doing a lot of flight testing so I could compare simulation and flight test probability distributions functions. It became clear that one had to have the DYNAMICS, and ERROR DITRBUTIONS or the simulation did not match the flight test data.

  40. Chalk it up to apocalypse fatigue. By my best guess, global warming is the eighth environmental Armageddon I have lived through. Who even remembers that, according to some of our most esteemed scientists, “acid rain” was going to cause an “ecological silent spring”? Like so many global catastrophes, it was a bit exaggerated.

    ~Patrick J. Michaels, The EPA’s Political Futility, National Review (May 30, 2014)

    By

    • The wonderful thing about CO2 is they can couple it to anything. CO2 + water gives carbonic acid. Presto-chango, acid rain (and oceans) is back!

  41. https://judithcurry.com/2014/05/26/the-heart-of-the-climate-dynamics-debate/#comment-571993

    Lacis convinced me that his AGW argument was mostly correct . Nevertheless he has kept the door open for unknowns

    These deductions based on the radiative transfer analysis performed on temperature-absorber structure of the atmosphere are fairly robust and self-consistent. Their principal certainty/uncertainty is directly constrained by how well the GCM generated atmospheric structure resembles the real-world, keeping in mind the “smooth continuity” that is expected for the climate system response for both the real-world and climate GCMs.

    In other words … The temperature absorber structure is in close proximity to that which is presumed. It remains consistent with the modeled results. For me this is an assertion of ‘here & now’ .

    If sea currents, wind patterns or other macro bounding qualities evolve over time the real world gets changed . The anticipated atmosphere gas and temperature structure evolves in a unexpected direction

  42. Those of us who pioneered the use of mathematical models in aerospace applications in the 1950’s are quite used to the step function changes in so called constants typified by Ellison’s Figure 2 above, even though we also had to build our own computers to calculate them.

    Consider the situation that arises when one of a pair of moving wings hits the stops in the thin air above 50,000ft. This pair of wings serve as both ailerons and elevators. Obviously the dynamics of each wing had to be modelled separately to calculate the result. This is the kind of non-linearity we modelled routinely when we produced the first ever full 3D working model of a twist-and-steer missile. See WRE report SAD20 Nov.1959.

    The point is that non-linearity of the Figure 2 kind can be expected in a climate model with an on/off character. This of course highlights the lack of public discussion of the models that IPCC sponsors.

    • Did you ever work on helicopter rotors profiles?

    • DocMartyn: Yes, one of my scientists did (Ted Packer) who later went to the University of Singapore. I do know it saved the deployment of Wessex helicopters to SE Asia.

    • Cool. I knew a lot of RC helicopter makers and fliers; they have real problems in design, but not prototype testing.
      Really, really tricky.

  43. The Navier Stokes equations aren’t chaotic or catastrophic. It’s just that in three dimensions that flows go to shorter and shorter scales (unlike two dimensions, where flows go to larger scales), so you can’t follow the flows numerically.

    That doesn’t say anything about climate sensitivity at all.

    It just says that you can’t do an ensemble average because you can’t compute any member of the ensemble, let alone a lot of them. So you can’t say much.

    Climate may be as insensitive as hell and it won’t help you solve it.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The Lorenz equations are non-linear with a couple attractor basins and a saddle node bifurcation. Gee I bet Lorenz would have been surprised that he didn’t discover the 3rd great idea in 20th century physics – sorry guys all a mistake.

      Bifurcation – called abrupt change in climate – is the common feature that has implications for climate sensitivity.

      What you theoretically can do is a systematically designed family of model solutions using perturbed physics methods that together produce a pdf of feasible solutions. The opportunistic ensemble is pretty unsatisfactory all round.

      Strike 3 – he’s out.

      I’m out of here too – thanks guys – I have a couple of ideas for a rewrite. Still not sure if it is actually publishable or just bloggable – either way.

      Robert I Ellison
      Chief Hydrologist

    • Robert I Ellison,

      The Lorenz equations you use don’t necessarily produce a predictable output. For example, the output may possess bifurcations and eventual chaos, limit cycles, intermittent chaos, noisy periodicity, initial chaos which settles to a steady state, regular toroidal knots and other behaviours.

      Periodicity may appear, and then disappear. Many solutions converge to zero, or appear to fly off to infinity.

      Just to complicate the issue, digital computers do not handle numerical precision well, in respect to arbitrarily small differences in initial parameters. Therefore, it sometimes appears that two values close together, producing similar behaviour should encompass all values between those numbers, and should result in similar solutions for those numbers. Alas, it ain’t necessarily so!

      Whether short scale weather changes leading to a different climate description over an arbitrary period are due to bifurcations, natural oscillations, is unknown at present. For example an electronic square wave may change from a maximum value to a minimum value almost instantaneously. This may result from the simple addition of the odd harmonics of the fundamental sine wave, rather than chaos. Depending on the system involved, it may appear to result from either – or maybe neither.

      As you point out, it’s all fun. As far as I can see, the future is still unknowable – although many scientists and Warmists have trouble accepting this. You may yet move away from the Dark Side, towards the blinding light of Uncertainty. It’s quite nice on this side.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Flynn – just go away. Don’t even try to comment on technical threads – it just leaves you looking silly.

    • Mike Flynn

      Robert Ellison,

      I hope you won’t mind if I politely ignore your request to go away.

      If you have a fact or two to contradict what I observe, please produce one. I’m not sure what you do, but I change my thinking if introduced to new facts. You haven’t produced any, so I won’t change my thinking.

      Global warming due to increased CO2? Absolute nonsense. Lack of physical basis backed up by failure to demonstrate global temperature increases in line with CO2 increases provides little support to the global warming hypothesis.

      Neither chaos nor coincidence can create energy from nothing, in general. A rise in temperature to the surface of the Earth either requires additional energy, or a resumption from a state of previous cooling – say removal of extensive dense daylight cloud cover, which temporarily increased albedo.

      I congratulate you for your posting, but I ask what you imagine the point is – saying that climate sensitivity is increased near a bifurcation sounds impressive, but conveys no useful information. What sensitivity is involved? How does one know if a bifurcation is approaching, or even exists? How may we profit from these assumptions? And so on.

      You always have the option of ignoring me, but you seem loath to take up that option. Oh well, I’ll just have to live with it, I guess!

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • I have trouble distinguishing Ellison from Flynn. Or is it Flynn from Ellison? One is an Ostrich and the other is a Kangaroo, with math skills to match.

    • David Springer

      webby

      lol +1

  44. The short term stuff is really complicated. The long term bounding is extremely simple. When oceans get warm and polar sea ice thaws, it always snows until cooling happens. When oceans get cold and polar waters are frozen it always snows not enough until warming happens. This bounding cycle is really simple. Look at actual data.

    Temperature has been tightly bounded for eleven thousand years.

    If you think this is not due to the polar ice cycles, offer a different theory. I frequently throw out this challenge and no one ever responds.

    There is only one theory with a set point and with a forcing that bounds that always works.

  45. The WUWT ENSO meter finally got above the E.N.-Neutral line and stayed there.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      BREAKING NEWS from WUWT
      Nenana Ice Classic
      sets new record for latest ice-out

      “The Nenana Ice Classic is a pretty good proxy
         for climate change in the 20th century”

      !!! The WUWT “USUAL SUSPECTS” ARE FROTHING !!!

      NZ Willy says: “We can now call it the Neener-Neener Ice Classic! :-)”

      Oh wait. That was 2013, not 2014.

      The 2014 Nenana Ice Breakup is among the earliest-ever.

      Although WUWT readers will never know it … thanks to the cone of science-silence that Anthony Watts so scrupulously sustains.

      Question  Does WUWT‘s incessant cherry-picking deliberately foment denialism’s “cone of silence”?

      The world wonders!

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • So, the local paper there in Alaska reports May 20, but one page on the ice out site reports April 25. So, more obfuscation by FOMBS.

    • And more anecdotal irrelevance from DimJim2.

    • From the article:

      Kenai couple claims $318,500 Nenana Ice Classic jackpot
      Sean Doogan
      May 20, 2013

      A tripod used in the Nenana Ice Classic fell off the Tanana River ice at 3:41 p.m. on Monday, May 20. But because of daylight savings, the actual time the ice went out is 2:41 p.m., according to Ice Classic organizers.

      After hanging on to set a record, the Tanana River ice in Nenana finally gave way Monday afternoon at 3:41 p.m. local time, netting a Kenai couple $318,500. Warren and Yvonne Snow were declared the winners when the river began flowing, tripping a clock mounted to the familiar black-and-white tripod.

      http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130520/97-year-old-nenana-ice-classic-sets-record-latest-breakup-river-1

    • I see I made a mistake. That was 2013. Oops!

    • And, the article linked by FOMBS is also from 2013. As I said, FOMBS obfuscates as usual. And WHT didn’t catch on. Hmmm …

    • Who pays attention to anecdotes other than to point out how pointless they are in comparison to the bigger statistical picture.

      You are the worst violator of this rule-of-thumb that I have ever seen, jim2. Not only on climate but in terms of anecdotally reporting fossil fuel data.

      In peak oil circles you would be laughed at as a cornucopian shill.

    • WHT says: In peak oil circles you would be laughed at …
      *****
      A badge of honor if ever I’ve seen one.

  46. Using your figure 4, put tradewinds on the horizontal axis and IPWP heat content on the vertical axis. 1.0 is now the tipping point which causes a potential El Nino. The scaling and slopes would have to change some. For instance the jump down would be less in distance.

    The next question is what about recovery? I think the line reforms itself after the El Nino to one that is boringly linear. Running straight from Southwest to Northeast. At a certain point during recovery, the line kinks itself back to the figure 4 shape. Kinking may signal or be consistent with the beginning of positive feedback and the potential for a collapse.

    If I am making sense, I know it’s asking for a lot for someone to make an animation of such a thing. Would it have an educational value? To clarify something, the tradewinds may not be the actual control parameter and only be consistent with it.

  47. Robert, thanks for a very clear exposition to a non-mathematician.

    (I did have high maths skills in my teens, but stopped studying it at 15. My very linear maths teacher could not cope with the fact that I could instantly provide the answer to complex problems but could not explain the mechanism; the processing occurred (almost) instantly in my subconscious, with no workings whatsoever at the conscious level of my mind. He didn’t want me in his senior class. I’m probably the least maths-literate poster at CE, in spite of which I was fairly successful as an economist. I wouldn’t be admitted to an economics course now.)

    Following your post, we should perhaps promote you to Field-Marshal. (I’m writing before checking for any refutations from more learned commenters.)

    • Robert I Ellison

      Hi Michael,

      I’m afraid I must decline – my career in the ranks of the climate war is finished and I happily return to the civilian pursuits of a natural philosopher in the garden of knowledge.

      This has passed muster by Michael Ghil hisself – and we couldn’t possibly match that. He is as nice as pie – and suggested that the newest advances were in random dynamical systems – but that it might be a bridge too far.

      Cheers

  48. The only thing astonishing is the lack of awareness of basic physics.

    Take the case of ENSO …. ENSIO stands for El Nino / Southern Oscillation. The fact that it is an oscillation is stated right there in the name. So let’s deconstruct ENSO. First consider that since it is an oscillation, it must obey some sort of wave equation. The solution of the simplest wave equation is a sinusoidal waveform.. This comes about as the second derivative is a scaled version of itself with a sign change.

    If the ENSO and particularly the standing wave phenomenon characterized by the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was a simple sinusoid, it would be a concise solution. In actuality, the oscillation is only quasi-periodic with erratic peaks and valleys. The fundamental period is there but it is buried in the waveform, and difficult to discern.

    The way this can come about is due to perturbations to the ideal wave equation, which will then modify the sinusoidal solutions. One common perurbation is called the Mathius equation. This is essentially a wave equation with a sinusoidal modulation in time applied to the characteristic frequency, falling into the class of nonlinear differential equations. This can come about in any number of ways and must exist due to the modulation of the ocean both seasonally and over multiple years.

    The Mathieu equation basis functions are analogous to the sine and cosine functions but they show the erratic peaks and valleys that we are looking for. So far, so good.

    As the solution to the Mathieu equation is known and well-characterized we can evaluate the SOI with respect to a parameterized Mathieu equation forced by a running boundary condition. As it is well known that the Quasi-Biennial Oscillations of atmospheric wind speed is known to impact ENSO, we use that as a starting point.

    Then we can evaluate for a solution and compare that to the historical SOI time series:

    Contrary to the special pleadings of the chaos fanboys, this solution is NOT sensitive to initial conditions, but instead it is guided by the much stronger boundary conditions of the QBO forcing.

    The idea that chaos rules is a butchery of science. What we actually have with ENSO is a rather mild perturbation of an ideal wave equation (which would nominally generate a sine wave) giving instead an erratic quasi-periodic waveform that is very amenable to further analysis.

    By amenable to further analysis, I mean it can be evaluated for long term stability, mean value, excursions, and even used for prediction at some point in time.
    http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/

    Consider further that this approach is in the class of the simple solutions that climatologist Isaac Held supports. It is actually so simple that a diffEq representation of SOI can be typed in a Wolfram/Alpha box and it will return with a chart of the time series.

    Yet this is in stark contrast to the scientific defeatists such as the Cheef and Tomas. I refer to them as defeatists because they can’t get over the fact that the earth’s lithosphere is not some unwieldy object immune to further analysis. It’s in fact just basic physics that we can apply a perturbation and get back interesting results that can aid in our intuition. Their defeatist attitude would suggest that nothing is humanly possible to gather any further understanding and that any confidence in CFD computations is misplaced. Well … just the fact that we can get close in modeling ENSO with a one-liner lays waste to this defeatism.

    Further, its absolutely nuts that Cheef anc company they propagate the FUD that a butterfly flapping its wings can change the natural process of the earth with its huge built-in inertia. This is not that kind of chaotic system. Climate is a system subject to boundary conditions, not initial conditions.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: The Mathieu equation basis functions are analogous to the sine and cosine functions but they show the erratic peaks and valleys that we are looking for. So far, so good.

      “Mumbo-jumbo, rhubarb, rhubarb”

      There are zillions of functions to choose from. You chose those based on a loose analogy. Now you are estimating parameters. One of these days perhaps you’ll have an accurate prediction. You have done a lot of work, so publish it.

    • No there aren’t Marler.

      Mathieu equations are the simplest generailzations of the Hill differential equation, which is the first-order approximation of a periodic differential equation.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_differential_equation

      The amount of mileage that one gets out of a linear differential equation is astounding. The amount of mileage one can get out of perturbations to the linear differential equation has barely been tapped. It’s obvious that this is happening in the sloshing characteristics of the ocean. Somebody ought to do the simple approximation, and as it turns out … it’s yours truly.

      I know how to solve these because I have solved much more difficult problems of nonlinear periodic potentials in solid state physics. You do know how a computer works, eh?

    • nottawa rafter

      Tubble

      Let me know when the CAGW predictions start becoming accurate. There are more failed predictions than OctoMom has kids.

    • Web, that prediction is difficult is very bitter. But please, drain that glass with a little dignity.
      =================

    • Hoser,
      Let me know when you want to add something to the scientific discussion.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: You do know how a computer works, eh?

      In between plugging it in and using programs such as assembly language (that was a long time ago), firefox and chromecast, I find it full of mysteries. My other languages included PL/1, Fortran-77, Fortran-90, MACSYMA, Mathematica, and SAS.

      When the wind is south-southwest, I can tell the difference between a prediction and a data point; and between a tested model and an untested model.

  49. Robert I Ellison

    Let’s try and drag it back to the point. It is interesting that there is no one arguing boundary value problems in models outputs – or discussing the fine points of climate sensitivity .

    Contrary to all of the assertions that climate is a ‘boundary value problem’ in which models converge to an average – it is evident that models behave in specific ways because of sensitive dependence to small differences in initial conditions and in boundary conditions. There are multiple solutions from feasible combinations of inputs and boundary conditions. There is a range of feasible solutions mapping to the topology of the strange attractor for the equations. Systematically designed families of solutions based on hundreds of runs with slightly different parameters theoretically give the minimum possible range – an estimate of irreducible imprecision for the set of equations and precision of input. By the nature of the equations there is a limit to precision that may be quite wide.

    Ghil proceeds from zero dimensional equations of global incoming and outgoing energy to derive a one dimensional climate model whose physical realism involves changes of albedo with temperature and of a changing greyness factor to capture effects of greenhouse gases. The ‘Ghil-Sellers’ 1-D model shows that these theoretical climate dynamic solutions have 2 stable solutions depending on the insolation parameter. He evolves a hierarchy of models that provide successively more complex and sophisticated definitions of climate sensitivity – but the 1-D model defines broadly the concept of climate sensitivity in a climate system that bifurcates.

    Sensitivity to a number of factors increases as the system approaches tipping points in the system.

    dT/dμ = γ

    This contrasts with what conventional definition:

    Ts/F = γ

    The contrast is between a dynamic and static climate sensitivity – with the latter being inconsistent with the nature of the system.

  50. Robert I Ellison

    ‘In very simple linear analyses (Battisti and Hirst, 1989; Cane et al, 1990) the period is set by the competition between the direct and delayed signal as determined by the coupling strength. In a more realistic nonlinear model this general statement still holds, but the periods tend to stay within the 2-7 year band. There is no satisfactory theory explaining why this is so, or more generally, what sets the average period of the ENSO cycle. There is broad disagreement as to why the cycle is irregular; some attribute it to low order chaotic dynamics, some to noise –weather systems and intraseasonal oscillations — shaking what is essentially a linear, damped system.’
    http://water.columbia.edu/files/2011/11/Cane2005Evolution.pdf

    This is a pleasant read for anyone interested in an ENSO overview.

    ENSO is a random dynamical system. It intensity, frequency – and period -varies dramatically over decades to millennia. The longest data set can be found here – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/moy2002/moy2002.html

    There is evidence that the period changed from 2-5 year to 2-7 years last century.

    e.g. http://ecite.utas.edu.au/81621

    A suggestion is top down modulation – both of ENSO and the QBO.
    e.g.

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/2008/08069lean/ndx_lean.pdf

    Webby uses a solution for standing waves in an elliptical bathtub which he apparently modulates with the QBO – having apparently given up on the Chandler wobble I suppose. ENSO and the QBO is a bit if a chicken and egg thing. Neither is more predictable than the other – so it seems a dead end.

    Poor boy seems to be having a bit of breakdown and flailing around wildly.

    • It appears that the Cheef has scored an Own Goal by hunting down the references that support my ENSO model.

      Knew I could count on the Cheef. Way to go.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Nothing supports webby’s nonsense.

    • If I don ‘t include the QBO forcing I can’t recreate the time series over that long an interval.

      [1]M. Taguchi, “Observed connection of the stratospheric quasi‐biennial oscillation with El Niño–Southern Oscillation in radiosonde data,” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012), vol. 115, no. D18, 2010.

      Thanks for the own goal Skippy!

    • Robert I Ellison

      Yes – we know that the QBO is the atmospheric reflection of ENSO. That was the point. They are part of the same system and neither are predictable from first principles.

    • Robert I Ellison | May 31, 2014 at 2:56 pm |

      Yes – we know that the QBO is the atmospheric reflection of ENSO. That was the point. They are part of the same system and neither are predictable from first principles.

      Observe the mind of a dim-witted thinker. The QBO is much more predictable than ENSO and has a much more distinct and singular periodic component.

      Nonlinear transfer functions will transform the periodicity to something that is much less predictable, unless you know what you are doing.

      JC SNIP

  51. At the risk of sounding like rgates, you are largely talking about the surface temp and associated changes here. If you look at the energy in the system as a whole then you do see a continuous increase in energy rather than just climatic shifts. At the very least this must mean there is room for a role for external forcing.

    My other point is on ‘falsifiability’. There is often a lot of complaint about the impossibility of disproving the theories on any meaningful timescale. It seems to be true here as well. Initially I thought with a possible El Nino developing this year then a super-El Nino might disprove Roberts case. But as I read the discussion while Robert favours continuation of flat temperatures or maybe even negative over the next decade or 3, he doesn’t rule out a sudden flip to the warming phase. Essentially we are in a position where just about any condition is not incompatible with the theory. Sound familiar?

    In an uncertain science the whole thing sounds too vaguely certain.

    • Many flips imaginable, only one lethal to the gymnast. Is the spotter, CO2, capable?
      ===========

    • it’s my understanding that most gymnasts survive their athletic career.

    • Ah, apt, and thanks. Most interglacials survive their prime.
      ==========

    • “HR | May 31, 2014 at 8:18 am | Reply
      At the risk of sounding like rgates, you are largely talking about the surface temp and associated changes here. If you look at the energy in the system as a whole then you do see a continuous increase in energy rather than just climatic shifts. At the very least this must mean there is room for a role for external forcing.”
      ——
      No risk in standing up for solid thermodynamics and basic science. Looking at the climate system from a net energy and energy flow perspective is ultimately the only valid approach. The big, externally forced tipping points of the system, always change the net energy in the system.

    • The problem is, HR, that no one has found physical evidence of the “CO2 Control Knob” (CCK).

      In hypothesis, as CO2 increases, it will have a knock-on effect and increase water vapor. This is the primary feedback hypothesized. Without this particular feedback, the CCK is meaningless.

      Since it is the amount of water vapor in the air that matters, lets’ look at total water vapor.

      http://www.climate4you.com/GreenhouseGasses.htm#Atmospheric%20water%20vapor

      Scroll down to second figure. We see that total column water vapor has actually decreased as CO2 increases. No CCK here. There is a step change around 1998 coincident with the 98 El Nino. The article mumbles something about an instrumental artifact, but TCWV actually takes a step down. I have to wonder if it wasn’t all due to the 98 El Nino after all – just another inconvenient truth for the Hockey Team is my guess.

      At any rate, perhaps we can take another tack in our search for the CCK. Let’s see if the Face of the Earth can tell the tale.

      Examination of the figure reveals … NO! … It can’t be!! … it appears insolation determines the total water vapor, not CO2, which is a well-mixed gas. CO2 seems to have no effect whatsoever. You might argue that increasing CO2 has added to the total water vapor, but the lie to that is exposed in the first figure above.

      Does anyone have actual data that can convict CO2 of increasing water vapor? No hand-waving is allowed.

    • I’ve wondered if CO2 desiccates, but that would be a fearsome heresy.
      ========

    • Jim2, that’s a point I’ve been trying to make for a long time.
      For water vapour to be a positive feedback, the specific humidity in the atmosphere above the ERL has to increase. As this relies on temperature, and temperature relies on altitude, as radiative forcing increases the altitude of the ERL, the temperature, and therefore the water vapour above it – but to no greater an extent than it was at the lower ERL altitude. Compounding this is the fact that atmospheric pressure, and therefore partial pressure, decreases with altitude, and so water vapour would tend to decrease slightly at altitude with increasing CO2 forcing.
      The graphs you linked to seem to confirm this.

    • jim2
      A quick google search finds evidence for an increase in water vapour. AR5 is reporting general agreement on the subject, with some ‘anomalies’ to explain. Have you thought that the data set you favour might be an outlier? have you checked other data sets? generally it looks like a tricky problem to crack but most attempts by scientist find the opposite to the data you show.

    • HR – present your datasets. Show me what you are talking about. You accuse me of cherry picking, but at least I have something to show. Put up or shut up.

    • JC SNIP

      HR is right.

      A 33C increase of temperature from the expected 255K temperature of the earth will increase the specific humidity a factor of 8 assuming a heat of vaporization of water of 0.4 eV. That’s 3 doublings of water vapor, which means that water vapor likely has a sensitivity of 11C per doubling.

      Since 1950, the SST has increased about 0.5C which means that specific humidity should have increased by 3%.

      A Wolfram/Alpha calculation of Arrhenius vapor pressure
      http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=exp%28-A%2F%28k*%28T%2Bd%29%29%29%2Fexp%28-A%2F%28k*%28T%29%29%29+where+A%3D0.4%2C+k%3D8.6e-5%2C+T%3D289%2C+d%3D0.5

      Check with the data, 3% spot-on.
      http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/data/timeseries/timeseries.pl?ntype=1&var=Specific+Humidity+%28up+to+300mb+only%29&level=1000&lat1=90&lat2=-90&lon1=-180&lon2=180&iseas=1&mon1=0&mon2=0&iarea=1&typeout=2&Submit=Create+Timeseries

      What is the portion of H20 contributing to warming?
      How about dT = 11 * ln(1.03)/ln(2) = 0.47 C

      That’s why CO2 is considered the Control Knob of the GHG’s in Lacis’s words. The CO2 gets the earth warming and then the water vapor generates a self-limiting positive feedback that contributes to further warming.

    • How exactly does an increase in the altitude of the ERL, due to CO2 forcing, bring about an increase in water vapour above the ERL?

    • …that should be water vapour forcing.

    • WHT still can’t tell a calculation from data. Poor WHT. He believes that if you write it as an equation, it just has to be true … just has to be.

    • many, like jim2, are frightened by math. it scares them, so they make stuff up.

    • jim2 I wasn’t really accusing you of cherry picking (well maybe I was) but that wasn’t really my point. I doubt the data set you favour, not you. It seems only fair to want to find something that corroborates what that data says. But it’s just not there. The best I can come up with is AR5 (sections 2.5.4 and 2.5.5
      http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_Chapter02_FINAL.pdf

      From 1/2 a day of google scholaring I get very little data showing recent global trends and a lot of discussion about difficulties in generating data sets. Several collaborative initiatives such as

      http://www.globvapour.info/
      http://www.sparc-climate.org/activities/water-vapour-ii/

      Do not seem to have generated any trend graphs.

      You’re right that all WHT offers is theory, although theory that makes sense. I would be nice to see something in terms of reliable global data sets,

    • Thank you, HR. Do you disagree that total column water vapor is the right metric? I’ve seen some use specific humidity, but that varies with altitude and it seems a bit unwieldy because it doesn’t include all the water vapor. Also, because it varies with altitude, it invites cherry picking. Total water vapor includes all the water and is a single number.

      What do you think?

    • @WebHubTelescope (@WHUT) | May 31, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
      You have done a calculation based on some theoretical assumptions, then compared that to the output of a climate model which is also based on probably the same theoretical assumptions. You present output from a reanalysis – which uses a climate model. Nice try, but you don’t seem to grasp the basics here.

    • jim2 projects his inadequacies with respect to science on to me.

      Here is a more complete writeup with respect to quantifying CO2 and H2O contributions to GHG warming.
      http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2013/03/climate-sensitivity-and-33c-discrepancy.html

      This is also a bifurcation analysis but it isn’t a high-falutin bifurcation that Ghil holds pretensions to. The reality is that the GHG positive feedback is self-limiting and the solution of the quadratic equation defines the stable limiting points.

      It isn’t very complicated but is unfortunately way too deep for jim2 to comprehend.

    • Jim2 I don’t know the answer to that. Looks to me that a lot of effort is going into validating data sets. Using different data sources to cross-check. For the most part it seems as though scientists are holding back on making pronouncements about the water vapour feedback trend in the peer-reviewed literature although I did see a few I thought a bit wonky

    • WHT there really is a difference between theory and observation. We are talking about observation here and you keep repeating the theory.

    • HR, the data says that there has been an increase in specific humidity of about 3% in the lower reaches of the atmosphere since 1950.

      What more do you want?

  52. Ulric Lyons

    “The science of abrupt change on decadal scales in the modern record explain observations that have been a puzzle for decades – notably the ‘Great Pacific Climate Shift’ of 1976/1977.”

    It was fueled by strong La Nina conditions from 1973 to early 1976, driven by higher speed solar wind in those years:

    Close analogues to the planetary ordering of solar activity in those years can be found at 1865-66, 1933-35, 1948-49, and 2003, all very warm years on CET: http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/tcet.dat
    The next event of this type happens at 2044-46, and here, I can pinpoint some remarkably warm North Hemisphere land temperature conditions in July and August 2045:

    • Love ya’ Ulric, but I can’t decide whether to be snarky or to stand in awe at your confidence. I’m tempted to ask Bob and Robert what will be happening in the tropical Pacific 7-8/45. Instead, I’ll ask you to find a planetary alignment that you can predict about sooner than 30 years from now, preferably like next week.
      ==============

    • We need action, now, or electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket starting next week.
      ================

    • And relax; I think it’s the sun but can’t decide whether it’s internal dynamic oscillations or whether the sun is externally forced.
      ==========

    • It’s the stupid, son.

    • Ulric Lyons

      Kim said:
      “I think it’s the sun but can’t decide whether it’s internal dynamic oscillations or whether the sun is externally forced.”

      I have found a repeatable and very intriguing logic to the various permutations of heliocentric configurations of the bodies, that the nature of suggests some kind of magnetic switching processes at play. Maybe facilitated by the radial distribution of the magnetic connections that the Sun has with each body.

  53. “Robert I Ellison | May 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    Steven

    I had said it to often. Non-warming or even cooling for a decade to three yet.”
    —–
    La Niña conditions do not mean non-warming of the system. If we have learned anything from the “pause”, has it not been this extremely important fact? The myopic attraction to looking at tropospheric sensible heat as a proxy for energy in the system leads to many false conclusions, but sadly for some, that’s precisely what they want.

    There is some very good research indicating that during the Pliocene warmth, The last time CO2 was this high, La Niña conditions may have prevailed:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/307/5717/1948.short

    • Have you figured out yet that the Human Carbon Cornucopia delays the Great Frozen Water Sheet?
      ==============

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘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. Similar behavior has been found in coupled ocean/atmosphere models, indicating such behavior may be a hallmark of terrestrial-like climate systems [Tsonis et al., 2007].’

      This was in the head post. Two possibilities – and they probably both occur.

      The surface temp is not increasing. At the limit this implies that the background rate of surface warming is considerably less than assumed from recent – 1976 to 1998 – warming.

      The other mechanism is much more intriguing and can only be understood with data.

      Here is Argo – graphed in the Global Marine Atlas using the Roemmich, D. and J. Gilson, 2009 Argo climatology updated by the Scripts Institute.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/OceanHeat_zpsb71f0636.jpg.html?sort=3&o=1

      Here is LW flux in CERES.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/CERES_EBAF-TOA_Ed28_anom_TOA_Longwave_Flux-All-Sky_March-2000toDecember-2013_zps8db123ce.png.html?sort=3&o=14

      Here is SW flux.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/CERES_EBAF-TOA_Ed28_anom_TOA_Shortwave_Flux-All-Sky_March-2000toDecember-2013_zpsfa182355.png.html?sort=3&o=12

      The most obvious increase in ocean heat is from 2010 – far too short a period to say much against the background of substantial interannular variability. The entire Argo record is too short to say much. You can compare and contrast ocean heat and CERES/MODIS – the former tracks the latter as it must. There is no trend in net CERES to the end of 2013 – implying that the planet has not warmed since the start of the program.

      What I find most intriguing is the step change in albedo post the 1998/2001 climate shift. It was captured in ISCCP-FD as well.

      e.g http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/ProjectEarthshine-albedo_zps87fc3b7f.png.html?sort=3&o=89

      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.

      I deliberately leave the distinction between the two possibilities open. There are too many uncertainties to be definitive – but it is definitely leaning in one direction.

    • Robert I Ellison

      BTW

      ‘The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) system during the Pliocene warm period (PWP; 3–5 million years ago) may have existed in a permanent El Niño state with a sharply reduced zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradient in the equatorial Pacific Ocean1. This suggests that during the PWP, when global mean temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were similar to those projected for near-term climate change2, ENSO variability—and related global climate teleconnections—could have been radically different from that today.’ http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v471/n7337/full/nature09777.html

      The state of the Pacific in the Pliocene seems hardly settled. It seems quite irrelevant anyway. The Quaternary seems in part at least to have been ushered in with the shoaling of the Isthmus of Panama. This changed radically the global dynamic which tends to invalidate comparisons with earlier times.

    • “The state of the Pacific in the Pliocene seems hardly settled. It seems quite irrelevant anyway.”

      Only I suppose if it does not support your rather skewed and distorted perspective. Others (experts, unlike yourself) think the Pliocene represents an extremely interesting and relevant period of time since it was the last time GH forcing was this strong and thus, the influence of that forcing on
      ENSO a very interesting thing to study.

    • Robert I Ellison

      It is irrelevant to ENSO because the shoaling of the Isthmus of Panama changed fundamentally the ENSO dynamic.

      Thought I explained that.

  54. michael hart

    Without wanting to sound flippant, it would surprise me if sensitivities [of various kinds] were not greater near a tipping point.

    Now all we need to do is be able to accurately describe and predict tipping points and then the “climate sensitivity” phrase may start to take on some useful meaning.

    Re-defining or re-phrasing the problem doesn’t always bring a solution closer. Sometimes it merely illuminates just how far away we are.

  55. David Springer

    Well, that was fun watching Chief Generalissimo Kangaroo Skippy Ellison get spanked by just about everyone. But ultimately about as useful as teats on a tomcat.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Didn’t add to your knowledge Springer? C’est la vie. I doubt that we could do that with a sledgehammer.

    • David Springer

      Prison colony inmates are certainly experts when it comes to sledgehammers.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Does this pass muster as valid comment or is Judy just ignoring springer and hoping he will go away?

      He drops in with these sort of comments on a regular basis. Usually gratuitously aimed at me it seems – it seems an obsessive campaign of harassment carried well past the point of any point at all. Do I really care? Should I just ignore him instead of stoking the fires of his malice and resentment for shallow amusement? Nah.

      He is usually calling someone much smarter – which isn’t difficult – stupid in a content less and vituperative snark at the schoolyard level of wit. It is a tawdry and spiteful expression of a petty mind. .

      • When I check the comments, my dashboard shows them in reverse chronological order, so I am quickest to moderate comments that have been most recently made. I try to get to all the comments, but sometimes I miss some.

  56. This Ellison character said at 11:52 AM before it was evidently removed:


    webby has difficulty distinguish his arse from his elbow.

    Wow, that takes some doing. To be censored from commenting on your own top-level post.

    Congratulations on quite an achievement! Astonishing actually.

    • Robert I Ellison

      I was surprised that such a modest response to a constant steam of mean spirited calumny disappeared.

      Webby has one comment. The extraordinary delusion that a solution of the wave equation for standing waves in an elliptical bathtub modulated against itself and fitted to the SOI on a blog somewhere is leading edge climate science. Liberally spiced with vituperative hyperbole.

      ENSO is a random dynamical system. It’s intensity, frequency – and period -varies dramatically over decades to millennia. The longest data set can be found here – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/moy2002/moy2002.html

      It shows a richness of behavior which – ‘decade by decade and century by century, testifies to the fundamentally chaotic nature of the system that we are attempting to predict. It challenges the way in which we evaluate models and emphasizes the importance of continuing to focus on observing and understanding processes and phenomena in the climate system. It is also a classic demonstration of the need for ensemble prediction systems on all time scales in order to sample the range of possible outcomes that even the real world could produce. Nothing is certain. ‘ Slingo and Palmer, 2023

      Nothing is certain but that the extraordinary madness of the blogosphere will generate endless intellectual dead ends.

    • So he has two sets of data with zilch to show with respect to analysis.

      I have selected the recent data and have something to show.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘ENSO causes climate extremes across and beyond the Pacific basin; however, evidence of ENSO at high southern latitudes is generally restricted to the South Pacific and West Antarctica. Here, the authors report a statistically significant link between ENSO and sea salt deposition during summer from the Law Dome (LD) ice core in East Antarctica. ENSO-related atmospheric anomalies from the central-western equatorial Pacific (CWEP) propagate to the South Pacific and the circumpolar high latitudes. These anomalies modulate high-latitude zonal winds, with El Niño (La Niña) conditions causing reduced (enhanced) zonal wind speeds and subsequent reduced (enhanced) summer sea salt deposition at LD. Over the last 1010 yr, the LD summer sea salt (LDSSS) record has exhibited two below-average (El Niño–like) epochs, 1000–1260 ad and 1920–2009 ad, and a longer above-average (La Niña–like) epoch from 1260 to 1860 ad. Spectral analysis shows the below-average epochs are associated with enhanced ENSO-like variability around 2–5 yr, while the above-average epoch is associated more with variability around 6–7 yr. The LDSSS record is also significantly correlated with annual rainfall in eastern mainland Australia. While the correlation displays decadal-scale variability similar to changes in the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), the LDSSS record suggests rainfall in the modern instrumental era (1910–2009 ad) is below the long-term average. In addition, recent rainfall declines in some regions of eastern and southeastern Australia appear to be mirrored by a downward trend in the LDSSS record, suggesting current rainfall regimes are unusual though not unknown over the last millennium.’ http://ecite.utas.edu.au/81621

      ‘The ENSO cycle is present in all relevant records, going back 130 kyr. It was systematically weaker during the early and middle Holocene, and model studies show that this results from reduced amplification of anomalies in the late summer and early fall, a consequence of the altered mean climate in response to boreal summer perihelion. Data from corals shows substantial decadal and longer variations in the strength of the ENSO cycle within the past 1000 years; it is suggested that this may be due to solar and volcanic variations in solar insolation, amplified by the Bjerknes feedback.’ The evolution of El Niño, past and future
      Mark A. Cane

      ‘intensity) begins at about 1450 BC that will last for centuries. In that period normal (La Nina) conditions have but disappeared. For comparison, the very strong 1998 El Nino event scores 89 in red color intensity. During the time when the Minoans were fading, El Nino events reach values in red color intensity over 200.’ http://www.clim-past.net/6/525/2010/cp-6-525-2010.pdf

      There is endless analysis of what is probably the most obvious characteristic of ENSO. How the extraordinarily popular delusion that ENSO sums to zero over any period is a mystery of the climate war.

    • Robert I Ellison

      … sums to zero over any period survives…

  57. son of mulder

    This is a very good essay that captures the reality of how chaotic behaviour prevents a realistic prediction of future climate. No surprise to me as I’ve often argued this point, sometimes being ridiculed, many times. The points I take issue with are in the quotations eg

    “Fundamentally, therefore, therefore we should think of weather and climate predictions in terms of equations whose basic prognostic variables are probability densities ρ(X,t) where X denotes some climatic variable and t denoted time. In this way, ρ(X,t)dV represents the probability that, at time t, the true value of X lies in some small volume dV of state space.”

    I disagree, just because chaotic behaviour means that an analytic solution is not possible does not mean the option of a probabalistic approach will be any more useful. How does one know that the time development of the probability function is not chaotic? eg bifurcation in the probability function may happen. Can anyone answer this?

    “The probabilistic forecast relies on running the model hundreds of times using small variations in initial and boundary conditions to at least estimate where the ballpark is. Even then there is no guarantee that it maps one to one to actual climate.”

    Have they run the probabalistic model hundreds of times, hundreds of times to establish that there is some constant ballpark. Otherwise it is just an assumption that the result obtained from one lot of hundreds of times represents some sort of constant ballpark. So am I wrong on this?

    There is no point talking about climate sensitivity in the vicinity of a tipping point. It’s like plotting the distance travelled by a ball when thrown at angle x to the horizontal at a varying velocities. It travels farther with a higher initial velocity but if it suddenly can travel beyond the edge of the cliffe where the experiment is taking place then distance travelled from a slight increase in velocity is suddenly much greater. That’s because the definition of sensitivity to initial velocity breaks down.

    With climate, if cloud distribution suddenly changes because of a climate bifurcation, so insolation will suddenly change and sensitivity may jump dramatically up or down hence change in T as a measure of sensitivity is not useful. Sensitivity is hence only useful away from tipping points no matter what causes them.

    • Robert I Ellison

      All good points.

      There is no guarantee that the state space for the equations equates to future global climate. I think it is probably unlikely beyond tipping points – and there are likely to be several of those this century.

      There is a regional probability forecast for the UK that I am aware of – otherwise no.

      I did make the point that sensitivity in general increases as climate moves towards bifurcation and is mathematically undefined at bifurcation.

      I tend to agree – climate is an emergent property of the system between bifurcations.

    • Robert I Ellison

      I should add that they are all good points that show a sophisticated understanding. Well done.

    • Mike Flynn

      Son of Mulder,

      I agree. The problems that you mention, particularly the naive belief that varying inputs slightly must result in similar outputs completely misses the point that arbitrarily small initial condition differences may result in enormously different outcomes. Chaos – in action.

      Similarly, the futility of trying to temporally anticipate a bifurcation, especially in a system which may or may not be exhibiting such behaviour in that part of its evolution, is manifest.

      And so on – not quite ad infinitum.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • son of mulder

      Robert I Ellison | May 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm |

      “I did make the point that sensitivity in general increases as climate moves towards bifurcation and is mathematically undefined at bifurcation.”

      I see no justification for increase (or decrease) just the undefined bit. All is normal then catastrophe, followed by new system configuration . Unless the sensitive variable is subject to a runaway driven by itself, a positive feedback type scenario.

  58. Berényi Péter

    The flip side is that – beyond the next few decades – the future evolution of the global mean surface temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum.

    On the cold end we do have a tipping point for sure. It can clearly be seen in the climate history of the past several million years. Cooling started about 3 million years ago, presumably with the closure of the Isthmus of Panama, which prevented subtropical water exchange between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Since then climate is utterly chaotic, even on a million years timescale, fluctuations becoming increasingly large in amplitude while slowing down. Also, temperature is much more stable during interglacials than otherwise, which indicates a climate sensitivity increasing with decreasing temperatures and large continental ice sheets present in the Northern hemisphere.

    On the other hand there is no indication whatsoever of a tipping point at the high end, quite the contrary. With increasing temperatures the curve is becoming smooth, which tells us that climate sensitivity is decreasing. It is so at least until the current configuration of continents is preserved.

    With ever increasing amplitude of glacial cycles together with their slowdown, where the upper temperature limit seems to be pretty much fixed, but the lower one decreasing, it is not inconceivable that the next glacial inception will push the climate system to a cold phase permanently, where it gets stuck for millions of years. It only needs a large Eurasian ice sheet extending down to the subtropics. In the lowermost temperature range seen in climate history, temperature is getting a bit more stable again, which indicates the presence of such a state not much below that of the last glacial maximum.

    In other words, palaeoclimate of the last several million years exclude the existence of a (meta)stable climate state with temperatures much above present, but indicate one with at least Slushball Earh characteristics.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The Earth began a long cooling trend in the Oligocene, 34-24 million years ago. There are two main theories. First, this is when India collided with Asia, throwing up the Himalayas and the vast Tibetan plateau. Some argue that this led to a significant change in global weather patterns. For example, these regions became icy and the Earth’s albedo increased. Second, this is when the supercontinent Gondwanaland finally broke up, with Australia and South America separating from Antarctica. Some argue that the formation of an ocean completely surrounding Antarctica led to the cooling weather patterns: water can now go round and round without ever getting pushed into the tropics.

      Why did glacial cycles start in the Pleiocene and intensify in the Pleistocene? The so-called Panama Hypothesis is that the closure of this seaway caused a more intense Atlantic thermohaline circulation, enhanced precipitation over Greenland and North America, and ultimately larger ice sheets.

      The “Panama Hypothesis” states that the gradual closure of the Panama Seaway, between 13 million years ago (13 Ma) and 2.6 Ma, led to decreased mixing of Atlantic and Pacific water Masses, the formation of North Atlantic Deep water and strengthening of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, increased temperatures and evaporation in the North Atlantic, increased precipitation in Northern Hemisphere (NH) high latitudes, culminating in the intensification of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation (NHG) during the Pliocene, 3.2–2.7 Ma.

      Hi Péter

      I have added your link to my elibrary – thanks.

      I can’t rule out a step increase in temps at the next shift – that would be amusing. At some stage – however – higher temps seem calculated to produce a break point in Atlantic thermohaline circulation. It has to change sometime and the runaway ice sheet feedbacks overwhelm the puny CO2 changes.

      More cold water pushed up in the Peruvian current – btw – biases the system to cold upwelling and La Nina. It happens with negative polar annular modes – which push cold weather into lower latitudes – and a quiet Sun. With an open Arctic and low 65 degree N summer insolation – the system seems poised for a cold shift.

      Cheers

    • There has not been an HCV in the past several million years until now. The only know analogue in the paleoclimate record is the CO2 release that preceded the larger and more potent methane release of the PETM.

  59. son of mulder

    Berényi Péter | May 31, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Reply

    “climate sensitivity increasing with decreasing temperatures”

    What is the evidence for this? Temperature response to CO2 is logrithmic hence a doubling of CO2 is proportional to log2, why should other forcings be proportionally bigger as temperature lowers. Boltzmann radiation is the great moderator as temperature rises, but it is as temperature falls as well. Or are you suggesting as temperature falls there will be fewer clouds so insolation rises; but then water vapour feedback falls and so helps to compensate. If it gets to a point where H2O is drained from the atmosphere then sensitivity will only be CO2, will it not, apart from an increasing negative feedback from snow albedo. hence sensitivity will have fallen.

    • Robert I Ellison

      A small increase in albedo – due perhaps to THC changes in the context of negative AO and low NH summer insolation – leads to runaway ice feedbacks. Why does it bottom out in glacials? Perhaps an increase in THC.

  60. Peter Lang

    Does Ghil’s chart mean climate would be more stable (less volatile) at higher insolation?

    Can we interpret Ghil’s chart (see Figure 1.1 here: http://web.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd//PREPRINTS/Math_clim-Taipei-M_Ghil_vf.pdf ) to say that the climate would be more stable (less volatile) with higher insolation and therefore with high GHG concentrations in the atmosphere? From Ghil’s Figure 1.1 interpret and postulate as follows:

    • starting at current temperature (287.7 k) if insolation increases (e.g. higher CO2 concentration) we’d move to the right along the upper blue line and to higher temperature.
    • This would mean we’d be further away from the red line, i.e. further from the threshold where we crash down to the lower blue line.
    • Moving to higher insolation and higher temperature would increase the safety margin from crashing into a catastrophic 100 K temperature drop.
    • Moving to higher insolation and higher temperature would reduce climate sensitivity – the angle gamma on Ghil Figure 1.1 would reduce as we move to the right along the upper blue line.
    • Reduced climate sensitivity suggest the climate would be less violatile.

    Empirical evidence the climate is less volatile when warmer.

    See Figure 15:21 here: http://eprints.nuim.ie/1983/1/McCarron.pdf. Notice the much greater volatility during the cold periods (16 – 10 kya) compared with the warm periods (10 kya to present).

    Interpretation of Ghil chart:

    The planet’s current position is on the top blue line at μ =1 which is at T = 287.7 K. This is slightly above Tc which is at about 273 K.

    If insolation increases and we move to the right, to a position below the top blue line and above the red line, then we would move up to the top blue line. Any time the planet is above the red line it will warm and move up to the top blue line.

    If the planet gets below the red line it will cool and move down to the bottom blue line.

    Once at the bottom blue line, insolation would have to more than double (i.e. increase to 2.05 μ) to get us out of the extreme ice age. Then we’d warm up to the top blue line (and end up very hot at about 360 K).

    If insolation decreases from where it is now (i.e. μ = 1.0) to Tc (i.e. μ = 0.98), a decrease of just 2% from our current insolation, the planet’s temperature would drop 100 K into an extreme ice age.

    [As an aside Ghil’s 100 K temperature drop is roughly an order of magnitude greater drop than the ~10 K drop that actually occurred between glacial and interglacial periods over the past 800,000 years: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php). I understand Ghil’s chaart is schematic, but the order of magnitude discrepancy between reality and the 100 K temperature drop shown in the Ghil chart throws doubt on the analysis.]

    Questions

    Can Ghil’s chart be interpreted to mean the climate would be more stable at higher insolation?

    Would we have a greater safety factor against crashing into catastrophic cooling if insolation is higher?

    Should we allow atmospheric CO2 concentrations to increase?

    Should we spread black carbon across the planet?

    Should we continue to clear forests?

    If the answer to the above is “No”, why?

    • The fact that the upper-left bifurcation point( µc ,Tc ) in Fig. 1.1 is so close to present-day insolation values created great concern in the climate dynamics community in the mid-1970s, – Ghil

      Interesting topic. I get it. It was the cold earth worry of the 70s. I had tried to transfer it into the glacial-interglacial framework when I should’ve been reading the paper. My 5.0 C number was also off as I was thinking of the change in the tropics only.

      So using a cookie cutter approach, I’d hope the diagram can be re-scaled to the expected glacial-interglacial cycle for purposes of trying to understand and teach how it might work.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The Ghil chart is a physically based 1-D model of climate. The interesting bit is the emergence of bifurcation.

      The red line seems to embody ice albedo feedbacks – runaway on the red line thus unstable.

      1. Yes – further away from the tipping point.

      2. Perhaps. Moving to include other factors such as Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation – perhaps not.

      3. No – see 2. We might move away from one tipping point to another.

      4. No. Ditto.

      5. No. Think of the squirrels.

      I would err in the direction of minimizing anthropogenic changes where feasible and pragmatic on the principle that we don’t know where the tipping points are or what would push us over. I don’t lose sleep over it.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Wrong place – A small increase in albedo – due perhaps to THC changes in the context of negative AO and low NH summer insolation – leads to runaway ice feedbacks. Why does it bottom out in glacials? Perhaps an increase in THC.

    • I agree that in a glacial period Ghil’s figure 1.1 indicates that sensitivity is high. That the bigger risk a lowering of temperatures. The safer thing to do is to stay on the upper blue line. I am not sure about your questions. We have about 10 C of safety margin at present.

      How does did occur that sensitivity is high in his diagram? To get out of a glacial, I guess you need it. At the same time it seems to be a two edged sword.

    • Peter Lang,

      The Ghil chart specifically presents a simple logarithmic progression for increasing GH gas forcing in the upper section, without any bifurcation points along that upper section. This is a model based assumption and simplification and of course such simple models cannot incorporate Dragon King, “tipping points” that inevitably exist in the climate. In other words, the “stable” upper section of 1.1 is a result of the mathematical simplified model, as specifically, as we all know, models are always wrong. There is in fact, some evidence in the paleoclimate record for tipping points in which extreme instability would occur at GH gas forcing above current levels. Just one example of this would be the potential for methane hydrate destabilization.

      • Gates,

        I’m sure everyone recognises it is a simplified model, as I said. So you’ve added nothing constructive other than add you motivated reasoning. My point was, IF the chart is taken as valid for the purposes of the discussion, does it suggest that moving to higher insolation would reduce the volatility of the climate? That was my question.

        IMO is ti s reasonable question to sake, because the alarmists are continually trying to argue that the climate will be more volatile if it warms. But I’ve seen no persuasive evidence of that. And empirical evidence seems to say the opposite is the case. Here is one example: http://eprints.nuim.ie/1983/1/McCarron.pdf Contrast the volatility during the cold times and warm times over the past 16,000 years.

        Ghil’s paper seems to give a possible explanation as to why the climate might be less volatile when warmer.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘To obtain this result, it suffices to make two assumptions: (i) that = ( T) is a piecewise-linear function of  T, with high albedo at low temperature, due to the presence of snow and ice, and low albedo at high  T, due to their absence; and (ii) that m = m(  T) is a smooth,
      increasing function of  T that attempts to capture in its simplest from the greenhouse effect of trace gases and water vapor.’

      The basic equation for energy in and out are the standard ones. They don’t specifically address forcing from greenhouse gases the temperature increase that results. The bifurcation emerge spontaneously from the 1-D model – but there are of course other tipping points from other factors. Atlantic THC in the right conditions perhaps the most significant.

    • R Gates:
      I am just doing my best here. When sensitivity gets high approaching Tc, we may see a large temperature drop for a small change in u. We may say, that could be a dragon king.

    • Peter Lang

      I am also trying to keep the discussion simple. And also focus on my main question. My main question (apologies for the distraction with my sarcastic extra question in the original comment) is: IF the concept Ghil’s chart suggests is correct, does it follow that the climate would be less volatile at higher insolation and higher temperature on the upper blue line?

      I understand (perhaps misunderstand) that increasing GHG concentrations in the atmosphere would increase ‘insolation’ – as I think the term is meant in Ghil’s paper.

      My physical explanation of why the climate might be more volatile when the planet is colder is because there is a larger area of snow and ice, and the area of snow and ice can expand and contract rapidly. So the albedo changes rapidly. However, when the planet is free of ice sheets (which has been the case for 75% of the past half billion years), the albedo does not change as quickly. So, it seems, the climate is less volatile when there is no ice and volatility increases as the area of snow and ice increases.

      It seems to me this physical explanation aligns with the Ghil Figure 1.1 – i.e. climate volatility reduces as the planet warms and moves further away from the red line and as the climate sensitivity decreases (angle gamma on Ghil Figure 1.1 increases as we move towards Tc and decreases as we move to the right along the upper blue line).

      if my suggestion is correct, it would suggest that at least one of the scaremongers’ assertions about increasing storm frequency and intensity might not be valid. In fact the opposite might be the case.

    • Peter Lang

      Robert I Ellison,

      I’ve just re-read p3-4 of Ghil. Thanks for pointing out that the high and low points a mu = 1.0 are high point = current temperatures and low point = iceball Earth. I withdraw this part of my comment:

      [As an aside Ghil’s 100 K temperature drop is roughly an order of magnitude greater drop than the ~10 K drop that actually occurred between glacial and interglacial periods over the past 800,000 years: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php). I understand Ghil’s chart is schematic, but the order of magnitude discrepancy between reality and the 100 K temperature drop shown in the Ghil chart throws doubt on the analysis.]

      I still feel it would be good if he had produced a similar diagram for the glacial and interglacial states.

  61. It is abundantly clear that climate is inherently too complex to be forecast via numerical modeling using GCMs The IPCC models outputs thus provide no basis for rational discussion of future temperature trends and future climate and energy policies. A different approach is required. The past is the key to the future. For forecasts of the timing and amount of the possible coming cooling using the 60 and 1000 year quasi periodicities in the temperature data and the neutron count and 10Be data as the most useful proxy for solar activity see
    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com/2013/10/commonsense-climate-science-and.html

  62. Ghil’s figure 1.8. I realize it’s only model of ENSO. But what if it’s reasonable close to what happens? It’s over my head but I think it’s something important. Now if the ENSO data could be put into the figure 1.8 form I am thinking that would be a great thing.

  63. Some posts above suggest a need for some new terminology:

    Flippant point: a sudden and amusing change in climate;

    Flipping point: a sudden and aggravating change in climate;

    Tipping point: place for unloading CAGW rubbish.

  64. Dave Peters

    R. E. — Has anyone pointed out how uncoolly the PDO seems phased by the recent mega-Kelvin wave?

    • Robert I Ellison

      Here’s the wave in the equatorial pacific.

      Here it is in a sectional view.

      Is this is mega Kelvin wave? It looks pretty ordinary to me.

      Here’s a forecast predicting a weak El Nino by the end of the year – the models are nothing special either.

      http://web.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd//RESEARCH/enso_regrfcst.html

      Will an El Nino change the multi-decadal dynamic of the PDO? Which is largely driven by the north Pacific gyre. Not likely – it is already cooling off.

      I would suggest reading less Robert Scribbler and more at mainstream sites.

    • Robert Ellison,

      Will the recent Indonesian volcano eruption interfere with the formation or intensity of the up and coming El Nino? Do volcanic eruptions impact El Nino’s global surface temperature impact?

    • Robert I Ellison

      Volcano? What volcano? I check the headlines on my msn home page. Watch some funny videos. Who’s bonking whom. Who’s on The Voice. What wacky hijinks Sheldon Cooper is up to. Nicole Kidman splits from Keith Urban. Keith appears on The Voice. Nicole wants another baby. You know – the important stuff.

      It will cool down the Indo-Pacific warm pool. But the warm water seems well and truly in the east and in the discharge phase with warm water deflected north and south at the equator.

      It is very early. Do you think it has shot it’s load and all that left is disappointment?

    • Robert I Ellison

      PS – what do you think the chances are for Keith Urban and Katy Perry getting together?

    • Pinatubo apparently erupted more SO2, and sent ejecta higher into stratosphere, as compared to Sangeang Api.
      “The 1991 eruption of Pinatubo produced about 5 cubic kilometers of dacitic magma and may be the second largest volcanic eruption of the century. Eruption columns reached 40 kilometers in altitude and emplaced a giant umbrella cloud in the middle to lower stratosphere that injected about 17 megatons of SO2, slightly more than twice the amount yielded by the 1982 eruption of El Chichón, Mexico. The SO2 formed sulfate aerosols that produced the largest perturbation to the stratospheric aerosol layer since the eruption of Krakatau in 1883. The aerosol cloud spread rapidly around the Earth in about 3 weeks and attained global coverage by about 1 year after the eruption.”
      http://pubs.usgs.gov/pinatubo/self/
      But it seems Sangeang Api should also spread across the tropics of Earth in about a month or so.

    • Robert Ellison

      Thank you for your response.

      Important things first: The Huffington Post (Canada) has Katy Perry hooking up with Prince Harry. So, Keith Urban and Katy Perry are, well, interesting individuals; KU & KP hookup is not as likely as…well El Nino.

      From the NOAA picture of 5/31/2014, the heat is already on the Pacific Eastern Coast and we have…El Nino now? For a first class El Nino to develop, does it require some more umph? a little more heat from the West making its way East? If so, then my thought, with a little aerosol shade in the West, maybe El Nino takes a siesta in the East.

  65. Towards a mathematical theory of climate sensitivity
    Ghil

    Similar to the paper Ellison referenced.
    At about 19 minutes he mentions an ensemble forecast of a Paris storm. It appeared to him there were 2 outcomes from the models, sort of. As opposed to an average outcome grouped around 1 outcome. This leads somewhere interesting.

    • Robert I Ellison

      It does indeed.

    • Thanks for this excellent link Ragnaar. The video is well worth the viewing for the background and context provided in the first half and motivation in the second half.

      The bimodal outcomes you mention are indeed notable. But even before that I was struck by an off-hand remark Ghil made:

      “A GCM is something clearly semi-empirical.”

      That one term (semiempirical) bundles both structural (model) uncertainty and parameter uncertainty. It says not only what GCMs are but what they are not…all in one word. It is ashamed that that term has not been more frequently used. Well. I like it.

  66. Robert I Ellison
    A number of quick interesting diagrams by Ghil:
    http://www.ima.umn.edu/talks/workshops/3-5-7.2001/ghil/ghil.html

    This one shows an interpretation of what it is:

  67. Fernando Leanme

    Please recall that I´m not a climatologist, but I do have experience running 3D dynamic models intended to mimic nature. Our models are similar to climate models in the sense that we have to match existing data as much as possible, then we kick them forward into forecast mode.

    Like climatologists, we only have a partial sample of past conditions, and we also lack the ability to make a description of what we call the static grid (I suppose for climatology this would be the continents´outlines, sea floor topography, the earth´s rotation, thermodynamic properties of fluids and mixtures, and so on).

    This means many of us have started to run these models over and over, changing the starting parameters using some sort of probality distribution of a given property (this issue, the probability distribution of starting parameter is worth by itself a debate which resembles WW III with nukes and everything).

    The models we run can be projected for say half a century, and I found that when a model is run for such a long time it has to include what I call the dynamic human response to model behavior.

    In other words, in your case let´s say the world does start warming according to conventional theory, and the transient climate response is 2.5 degrees C to doubling. My contention is that if the incoming data does confirm such a high TCR then there´s an arbitrary human response. When I was faced with model behavior which indicated a discontinuity was likely (such as the post above seems to indicate) then I had to include some sort of human dynamic response to events. I don´t know if I make myself clear, but these models which assume a constant human behavior pattern are not going to reflect what goes on in real life.

    For example, the RCP8.5 scenario used by the IPCC is hogwash because it assumes “business as usual” when we know the path to such an extreme forcing (which I think is impossible) will not allow the starting conditions to remain valid (for example they assume an exploding human population when the world is baking, which makes the model completely inconsistent).

    ALso, what I found from my simple minded research into the subject is that human response tends to be chaotic and quite often is irrational. So you have a chaotic system with a variable climate sensitivity and you have to superimpose a human response to the climate as it evolves which also tends to be chaotic and irrational.

    I also found that if we work ahead of time to prepare decision makers not to make irrational decisions (for example with better data aquisition and analysis and proper training of decision makers) there´s no assurance whatsoever such preparation will work.

    The survey data also showed the eventual decisions we needed to respond to the incoming data flows and new analysis were not forthcoming in time, and quite often they were negated by key events (in this case one example of a key event negating a quality decision would be a forthcoming election).

    I guess I wrote this piece because I´m starting to think this whole issue is so wrapped in human behavior and politics the science seems to take a secondary role. Your climate models are run for 100 years assuming an inflexible set of drivers (such as the rate of CO2 emissions) when these are variable.

    Over and beyond the weaknesses we have modeling such complex systems with giant grids and parameterizations we know are somewhat iffy, we also have to account for large unknowns such as the evidence we have that transient climate response is itself quite variable. And I have the sense the scientific community doesn´t even understand very well what drives such variability. I´d say you are up the creek without a paddle, to be polite.

    • Fernando Leanme, My questions to you would be:

      Does your Theory and Models include that when the oceans get warm, polar sea ice melts and snowfall rates are cranked way up?

      Does your Theory and Models include that when the oceans get cold, polar oceans freeze and snowfall rates are cranked way down?

      Do you properly account for the Polar Ice Cycles?

      Temperature has gone from warm to cold to warm to cold, everytime, in very tight bounds, for eleven thousand years.

      Can your Models run and stay inside tight bounds and always reverse and go the other way? Mother Nature’s data does.

    • Fernando,

      You raise an interesting point related to the arbitrary human response component. But it opens a whole different set of issues as well. With geoengineering being considered, the potential for creating an entirely new set of problems by trying to cure one set does arise. You show that the human response needs to be considered as part if the chaotic nature of the system, but also why models for these chaotic systems will always be wrong.

  68. If you want to end the interglacial, just make the ozone disappear.

  69. The strongest correlation of the ENSO indices is with the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) of upper atmospheric winds. The QBO is much more clearly periodic than ENSO, yet there seems to be some mutual interaction between the two.

    As with many of these phenomenon, it is often difficult to determine which is the originating factor, or whether there is some type of self-organization going on between the factors.

    So what I am struggling with in the ENSO / QBO correlation is how one behavior is so erratic (ENSO) while the other is much more predictable (QBO). The arrow of entropy would suggest that QBO would be the driver since it is much more ordered — yet what causes the QBO to create its more regular oscillation? The literature suggests that it is underlying oceanic waves, which points it back to ENSO.

    So there is likely an underlying periodic nature to ENSO, which is only revealing its erratic nature via the sloshing dynamics of constructively or destructively interacting waves, simulated either by a Mathieu equation or a delayed action oscillator. Bottomline is that the order is there, but it is difficult to extract.
    And once we can extract that order, prediction may become easier.

    That’s the reason I started looking at ENSO. It is the biggest natural variability contributing factor to the global temperature — yet our inability to predict it becomes a tool for global warming skeptics to use as a bludgeon to claim uncertainty of outcomes. And therefore a way to marginalize climate scientists claims of continued warming.

    • Matthew R Marler

      WebHubTelescope: Bottomline is that the order is there, but it is difficult to extract.
      And once we can extract that order, prediction may become easier.

      Yes. (Accurate) Prediction may become easier.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Conflating random and stochastic dynamical systems?

      ‘The concept of random dynamical systems is a comparatively recent development combining ideas and methods from the well developed areas of probability theory and dynamical systems. Due to our inaccurate knowledge of the particular model or due to computational or theoretical limitations (lack of sufficient computational power, inefficient algorithms or insufficiently developed mathematical and physical theory, for example), the mathematical models never correspond exactly to the phenomenon they
      are meant to model. Moreover, when considering practical systems we cannot avoid either external noise or inaccuracy errors in measurements, so every realistic mathematical model should allow for small errors along orbits. To be able to cope with unavoidable uncertainty about the ”correct” parameter values, observed initial states and even the specific mathematical formulation involved, we let randomness be embedded within the model. Therefore, random dynamical systems arise naturally in the modeling of many phenomena in physics, biology, economics, climatology, etc.’
      http://www.pims.math.ca/files/kleeman_6.pdf

      ‘A stochastic dynamical system is a dynamical system subjected to the effects of noise. Such effects of fluctuations have been of interest for over a century since the seminal work of Einstein (1905). Fluctuations are classically referred to as “noisy” or “stochastic” when their suspected origin implicates the action of a very large number of variables or “degrees of freedom”. For example, the action of many water molecules on the motion of a large protein can be seen as noise. In principle the equations of motion for such high-dimensional dynamics can be written and studied analytically and numerically. However, it is possible to study a system subjected to the action of the large number of variables by coupling its deterministic equations of motion to a “noise” that simple mimics the perpetual action of many variables.

      The coupling of noise to nonlinear deterministic equations of motion can lead to non-trivial effects (Schimansky-Geier 1985; Horsthemke 1985; Haenggi, Talkner and Borkovec, 1990; Haenggi and Marchesoni 2005). For example, noise can stabilize unstable equilibria and shift bifurcations, i.e. the parameter value at which the dynamics change qualitatively (Arnold 2003). Noise can lead to transitions between coexisting deterministic stable states or attractors. More interestingly still, noise can induce new stable states that have no deterministic counterpart. At the very least, noise excites internal modes of oscillation in both linear and nonlinear systems. In the latter case, it can even enhance the response of a nonlinear system to external signals (Jung, 1993; Gammaitoni et al., 1998; Lindner et al. 2004).

      It is often thought that the action of noise merely amounts to a blurring of trajectories of the deterministic system. That is indeed the case for “observational” or “measurement” noise. However, in nonlinear systems where noise acts as a driving force, noise can drastically modify the deterministic dynamics. We discuss these issues using a basic level of description which couples a stochastic process to a deterministic equation of motion: the stochastic differential equation (SDE).’
      http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Stochastic_dynamical_systems

      I’d scarcely imagine that the un-dynamic duo know what the difference is – or be able to understand why they are both relevant to ENSO.

      I see we have Randall’s profound scientific qualification have been revealed – a government propaganda video producer. He should document webby’s homeopathic curve fitting in Wilma’s basement.

  70. Robert I Ellison

    It is far from uncertain – the planet is cooling for a decade to three yet due to a chaotic bifurcation in ocean and atmospheric circulation in the 1998/2001 climate shift.

    How difficult is that idea?

    I have substantially rewritten this for publication – thank you all for your insights.

    Life is too short for bad coffee
    Robert I Ellison
    Chief Hydrologist

    • “…the planet is cooling for a decade to three.”
      ____
      Please let us know when the “planet” (an unscientific and rather wimpy evasive term) is going to start cooling.

    • Meanwhile, rather then reading your rather predictable (and unscientific) “planet is cooling” nonsense, better to use eyeball time and brain power on real climate science:

      http://www.amazon.com/Climate-life-International-Geophysics-Budyko/dp/0121394506

    • RG, I swear the guy is a rainman.
      Cheef says he’s an excellent driver and that the planet will cool for a decade or there.
      An idjit savant w/o the savant.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Obviously there are some without much of the way of insight.

      Surface not warming – http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/HadCRUT4vCERES_zpse5107cfd.png.html?sort=3&o=65

      Ocean – well – what can we say – http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/OceanHeat_zpsb71f0636.jpg.html?sort=3&o=1

      They don’t have a lot to show for all the p-ss and wind.

      Anyway my highly revised version – wholly rewritten in break through science journalism style – impeccably concise and informative on this leading edge climate science – with more science to add to the considerable amount already there – from actual global leaders in climate science – has been submitted to the NY Times and Scientific American.

      I can only shrug my shoulders at the noisy and querulous nonsense, There is no scepticism – they have simply mistaken leading edge science as something that confounds their simple self righteous narrative.

      I said it at the top. If you question or challenge what are most commonly simplistic narratives of the climate war – you are inevitably metaphorically tarred and feathered. So I suppose I must be a sceptic. That this happens to people like Judith Curry, Anastasion Tsonis and Lennart Bergstrom is a dismal episode in a querulous science.

      What we see is blooming fools lecturing people with credentials and achievements over decades in the field. Rarely in the history of history have we seen such a jackass display.

    • …has been submitted to…
      Good luck.

    • Skippy Ellison,

      I’ve got no problem with your general characterization of chaotic systems and bifurcation points, etc. but only your unscientific, wimpy and evasive “planet is cooling” nonsense.

      Good luck on your submissions. Should Scientific American quote you as saying the “planet is cooling” it will only confirm my decreasing respect for them.

    • Robert I Ellison

      https://judithcurry.com/2014/05/30/the-astonishing-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/#comment-578072

      One mans wimpy is another mans considered position on the evidence giving sufficient weight to indeterminancy and imprecision.

    • No way that ENSO can show cooling for “decade or three”. It is an oscillating systems with reversion to the mean properties. If it is does show a prolonged cooling, it means a standing wave is building up stronger than is typical and that standing wave will snap back with a vengeance.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘The greatest excitement among scientists as well as the public is currently being generated by interdecadal variability, i.e., climate variability on the timescale of a few decades, the timescale of an individual human’s life cycle [Martinson et al., 1995]. Figure 1b represents an up-to-date ‘‘blowup’’ of the interannual-to-interdecadal portion of Figure 1a. The broad peaks are due to the climate system’s internal processes: Each spectral component can be associated, at least tentatively, with a mode of interannual or interdecadal variability [Plaut et al., 1995]. Thus the rightmost peak, with a period of 5.2 years, can be attributed to the remote effect of ENSO’s low-frequency mode, while the 7.7-year peak captures a North Atlantic mode of variability that arises from the Gulf Stream’s interannual cycle of meandering and intensification. The two interdecadal peaks, near 14 and 25 years, are also present in global records, instrumental as well as paleoclimatic [Kushnir, 1994; Mann et al., 1998; Moron et al., 1998; Delworth and Mann, 2000; Ghil et al., 2002b].’ Dikstra and Ghil 2005

      http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8703

      https://judithcurry.com/2014/05/30/the-astonishing-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/#comment-578259

      It is because the Pacific system is a random dynamical system with obvious periodicities and variability at all timescales. No matter what science says – it supports his bathtub conceptualization. To a carpenter with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

      He is so last century – or maybe the one before that.

    • The best model of ENSO is one of a sloshing Pacific ocean due to inertial motion of the spinning earth. The term sloshing has a precise scientific meaning in the hydrodynamic literature.
      If we model the sloshing using the equations formulated through the latest research
      [1]J. B. Frandsen, “Sloshing motions in excited tanks,” Journal of Computational Physics, vol. 196, no. 1, pp. 53–87, 2004.

      Then we can come up with a pretty good representation of the ENSO index

      The derivation is here:
      http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/

      No doubt that we can continue to improve on this model, given the simplicity in the representation. We are clearly not dealing with a perfect sinusoid here, but the underlying order does exist, contrary to the foolish assertions made in this blog post by the poseur hydrologist who shows no facility for solving problems.

      This is a call to arms to get some real scientists involved in this topic.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘The subject of decadal to inter-decadal climate variability is of intrinsic importance not only scientifically but also for society as a whole. Interpreting past variability and making informed projections about potential future variability requires (i) identifying the dynamical processes internal to the climate system that underlie such variability [see, e.g., Mantua et al., 1997; Zhang et al., 1997, 2007; Knight et al., 2005; Dima and Lohmann, 2007], and (ii) recognizing the chain of events that mark the onset of large amplitude variability events, i.e., shifts in the climate state. Such shifts mark changes in the qualitative behavior of climate modes of variability, as well as breaks in trends of hemispheric and global mean temperature. The most celebrated of these shifts in the instrumental record occurred in 1976/77. That particular winter ushered in an extended period in which the tropical Pacific Ocean was warmer than normal, with strong El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events occurring after that time, contrasting with the weaker ENSO variability in the decades before [Hoerling et al., 2004; Huang et al., 2005].’

      Calling real scientist – stat. If he doesn’t get this it is extreme progressive denial and bodes ill for the ability to progress.

      It is clearly visible in the MEI of Claus Wolter.

      ENSO is a random dynamical system – random implying that the control variables are unknown – with two dominant feedbacks in atmospheric circulation patterns and ocean dynamics.

    • “ENSO is a random dynamical system.”
      ____
      Not even close, but nice try. It is clearly part of a deterministic dynamical and chaotic system with nothing at all truly random about it.

    • Robert I Ellison

      I conflated the terms a little – obviously that doesn’t matter to Randy because he is not even on the same page.

      ‘The concept of random dynamical systems is a comparatively recent development combining ideas and methods from the well developed areas of probability theory and dynamical systems. Due to our inaccurate knowledge of the particular model or due to computational or theoretical limitations (lack of sufficient computational power, inefficient algorithms or insufficiently developed mathematical and physical theory, for example), the mathematical models never correspond exactly to the phenomenon they
      are meant to model. Moreover, when considering practical systems we cannot avoid either external noise or inaccuracy errors in measurements, so every realistic mathematical model should allow for small errors along orbits. To be able to cope with unavoidable uncertainty about the ”correct” parameter values, observed initial states and even the specific mathematical formulation involved, we let randomness be embedded within the model. Therefore, random dynamical systems arise naturally in the modeling of many phenomena in physics, biology, economics, climatology, etc.’
      http://www.pims.math.ca/files/kleeman_6.pdf

      ‘A stochastic dynamical system is a dynamical system subjected to the effects of noise. Such effects of fluctuations have been of interest for over a century since the seminal work of Einstein (1905). Fluctuations are classically referred to as “noisy” or “stochastic” when their suspected origin implicates the action of a very large number of variables or “degrees of freedom”.’

      http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Stochastic_dynamical_systems

      http://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/system/files/private/active/0/Michael%20Ghil%20-%20Lecture.pdf

      Do I hear an uniformed yet bumptious noise? Randy would do well to Google some terms before imaging that a slogan gives him supranatural knowledge.

    • R. Gates | June 2, 2014 at 6:58 pm |

      “ENSO is a random dynamical system.”

      _
      ___
      Not even close, but nice try. It is clearly part of a deterministic dynamical and chaotic system with nothing at all truly random about it.

      Right on, RG. It shows the desperation of folks such as RobbIE and Tomas, as they have no alternative choice but randomness to blame for climate change.

      Randomness is a great FUD term because it gives them an out — the great unknown — as an explanatory factor. Unfortunately, used in the improper context, it is the crutch of the weak-minded and folks that just want to give up. It seems to match their agenda — instill FUD and walk away.

    • “Robert I Ellison | June 3, 2014 at 1:30 am |
      I conflated the terms a little. . .

      ——
      Skippy Skippy Skippy. Randomness and Chaos are like conflating cats and dogs or day and night. You are a silly man Skippy. Dangerous because you are educated enough to sound almost factual. And all you can do to those who are able to see through your nonsense is launch your little ad homs at them.

      You can fill hundreds of pages with your endless cut and pastes, but in the end, like ENSO, your posts sum to exactly zero net energy added to the system.

    • Skippy,

      Mr. T has an important message for you:

    • Robert I Ellison

      As if I am going to bother with bumptious whines.

  71. Quietly, with almost unnoticeable impact on global attitudes, a stone has been tossed into the pool of AGW politics and science.

    The earth’s climate is capable of doing global warming and cooling ALL BY ITSELF.

    No external drivers required.

    Simple harmonic models based on simple cycles are simply not good enough. Chaotic models show its just dong what it was always gonna do.

    If that damned al Gore hadn’t flapped his arms and made it all worse.

  72. Had Enough, Gonna Read Fiction

    The only tipping point I see in this whole “debate” is that common sense has been tipped down the toilet by vested interest using alarmist politics as the wheelbarrow.

  73. R0bert Ellison You and most of the commentators here are still concerning yourselves with the mathematical minutiae of processes with decadal or multidecadal periodicities. Commentators also seem to refer to some mystical process of natural variability which actually means “we don’t know what the hell is happening.”
    If you detrend all quasi periodicities of 60 years or less it is quite obvious that the main periodicity of interest is the quasi- millennial cycle in the temperature record. The timing and shape and amplitude of this periodicity is shown on Figs 3 and 4 at
    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com/2013/10/commonsense-climate-science-and.html
    It seems likely that we are at or slightly past a peak in this periodicity which is about to repeat ie 2000 – 3000 will be roughly similar to 1000 – 2000.
    This gives the general trends to be expected for the next thousand years. Simply convolve this with the 60 year periodicity to get a reasonable forecast
    of decadal trends in the likely coming cooling and check against the neutron count to see if solar activity is consistent with the suggested cooling trend — it is.
    See the same link for forecasts of the timing and amount of the suggested cooling.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The theory suggests that the system is pushed by control variables past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Control variables pushing change in the system include greenhouse gases and warming – as well as such things as solar irradiance, solar UV and orbital eccentricities.

      There is little doubt that some of these control variables have a quasi regularity and the planet responds within limits of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation. But the response is internal and abrupt. It is a random dynamical system. With random implying multiple control variables interacting unpredictably.

      ‘The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change… Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation.’

  74. Robert you say
    “We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change… Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation.’”
    Not so. Of course it is possible to make perfectly useful predictions without knowing how the system is engineered.
    Babylonian astronomers were able to forecast eclipses without knowing anything about Keplers laws. Just look for repeating patterns in the temperature record and project them forward as in the link in my comment above.
    On the scale of several hundred thousand years – the Milankovich cycles will get you into the ballpark. Especially the eccentricity 405000 year cycle which is seen in the geological record back at least 450,000,000 years.
    On that basis we are now approximately at the same point as MIS 11.
    No periodicities in temperature and climate will repeat exactly because the system never repeats exactly. In reality everything only happens once . The context of the general state of the system at any particular time always needs to be born in mind.

    • Robert I Ellison

      That’s a quote from Wally Broecker.

      Milankovich cycles are themselves chaotic – it is an N-body orbital problem. It biases the system to specific responses – specifically the survival of NH snow packs through summer. The source of the snow packs are a warm and open Arctic – which also contributes to the state of the Arctic Oscillation and the penetration of cold conditions further south. The result is a tipping point resulting in runaway ice sheet feedbacks.

      As Broecker says – without understanding the mechanics no credible prediction can be made.

  75. The Milankovitch cycles are not chaotic in any meaningful sense. As I said 405000 year eccentricity cycles are seen back 450 +/- million years.
    The latest ephemerides are good back 45 – 50 million years before the iterations diverge. Certainly the state of the system as a whole can change fairly rapidly (1976/77) as you pointed out earlier, but in relation to the amplitude of the 1000 year quasiperiodiclty variation those changes while they may be step-like are not large and certainly not chaotic.

  76. The link you gave relates to theoretical mathematics .The solar system is a system of harmonic oscillators whose oscillations have harmonized and stabilized over millions of years. The Ephemerides are empirically based on billions of observation points from the position of all the planets moons comets, trajectories of satellites and space probes. etc .These are now predictable with great accuracy for millions of years into the future. How do you think we can fly probes to intercept comets? Chaos theory doesn’t enter into it.

  77. Thanks for excellent link.
    which says
    “Although the numerical simulations all indicate chaos in planetary orbits, in a qualitative sense the planetary orbits are stable—because the planets remain near their present orbits—over the lifetime of the sun. However, the presence of chaos implies that there is a finite limit to how accurately the positions of the planets can be predicted over long times. Of all of the planets, Mercury’s orbit appears to exhibit changes of the largest magnitude in orbital eccentricity and inclination. Fortunately, this is not fatal to the global stability of the whole planetary system owing to the small mass of Mercury. Changes in the orbit of the Earth, which can have potentially large effects on its surface climate system through solar insolation variation, are found also to be small. ” and
    “Thus it seems that the present wide dynamical separation among terrestrial planets (>26RH) is possibly one of the significant conditions to maintain the stability of the planetary orbits in giga-year time spans. ”
    Thus we don’t need to worry about planetary chaos over any time span of interest to humans.

  78. Robert I Ellison

    …. in a qualitative sense the planetary orbits are stable…

    Big planets are hard to move – but chaotic gravitational influences are at work. These are probably best seen in the evolution of the barycenter.

    The location of the barycenter is a chaotic N-body problem that drives the evolution of the solar magneto. This drives changes in TSI and sets up chaotic resonances with the earth system. It is chaos all the way down.

  79. Mike Flynn

    Robert I Ellison,

    You are making a goodly number of assertions, ranging from astonishing math, to chaos all the way down. I don’t find the math(ematics) particularly astonishing, and I point out that demonstrating that a given dynamical system is chaotic is not as easy as just saying it must be so. Asserting that one can raise the temperature of a body by surrounding it with CO2 is another assertion often made with precious little to support it.

    Dr Norman Page may be merely pointing out that chaotic systems are often self referential and scale invariant. One can still make assumptions about planetary movements, and prepare charts indicating the phases of the Moon in advance, for example.

    Chaos can be tricky, and arbitrary assumptions can bring unexpected grief. I assume you will agree with me, but maybe not.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    • Robert I Ellison

      I always start with the assumption that you don’t have a freakin’ clue about anything – and that any response to meaningless twaddle is self defeating

      The 3 body problem?

      BTW – which bit is mere assertion?

      ‘ N-body systems are difficult and have some seriously unstable points. But for many examples, with precise measurements and small timesteps, you can get astonishingly accurate predictions using stepwise evaluation of the differential equations. They’re very good, but far from perfect. To give you a sense of what I mean by that: we can predict pretty much exactly where the earth will be at any point for the next 10,000 years. But there are several asteroids whose orbits come very close to earth (very close in astronomical terms that is), and we can’t be absolutely certain of where they’ll be 30 years from now. The best we can do is talk in terms of probabilities.’

      Because of slight chaotic perturbations in orbits – the Sun describes a chaotic orbit around the barycenter. Which seems to be the important bit in Earth climate – including modulations of cosmic rays on long timescales.

      It is chaotic all the way down – and Flynn’s brain is an example.

    • Mike Flynn

      Robert I Ellison,

      You wrote –

      “Because of slight chaotic perturbations in orbits – the Sun describes a chaotic orbit around the barycenter. Which seems to be the important bit in Earth climate – including modulations of cosmic rays on long timescales.”

      What are you trying to say? That the Sun is important in relation to the Earth’s weather?

      This may be a revelation to you, but is accepted by CO2 induced global warming unbelievers such as myself – surprise, surprise! If you ever come up with something I can’t establish for myself, do let me know.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • Robert I Ellison

      That there are chaotic perturbation to the Sun’s magnetosphere that drive subtle changes in solar output.

    • Mike Flynn

      Robert I Ellison,

      You wrote –

      “That there are chaotic perturbation to the Sun’s magnetosphere that drive subtle changes in solar output.”

      Whew! I’m glad I can disregard the rather unsubtle changes in the actual energy output from the Sun, then. It’s all in the perturbations of the Sun’s magnetosphere!

      I was a bit worried about the output from the Sun’s photosphere, and Earthly conditions such as the atmosphere, particulate matter, condensation nuclei, topographical variations, surface absorptivity, emissivity, planetary rotation and all the rest. I thought things like these might cause variations in weather, but I am reassured to know that the continuing fine weather in my locality is due to chaotic perturbations in the Sun’s magnetosphere!

      Thank you for your advice. Your Nobel prize is probably in transit as I write.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Since irradiance variations are apparently minimal, changes in the Earth’s climate that seem to be associated with changes in the level of solar activity – the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice age for example – would then seem to be due to terrestrial responses to more subtle changes in the Sun’s spectrum of radiative output. This leads naturally to a linkage with terrestrial reflectance, the second component of the net sunlight, as the carrier of the terrestrial amplification of the Sun’s varying output.’ http://bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/literature/Goode_Palle_2007_JASTP.pdf

  80. Tomas Milanovic

    Very nice posting. Is a mathematical way to describe the underlying basis for natural variability under the presumption that things like Navier Stokes are the basic governing equations.
    It is worth pondering this presumption, because it may not be true. The turbulent chaos at micro scales may statistically wash out at macroscales, the analogy being to Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics and thermodynamics.

    .
    If somebody tells you that Navier Stokes are NOT the governing equations of the system then you can immediately put him on your ignore list because he is either a fool or a troll.
    This would mean that the system doesn’t conserve energy and momentum what doesn’t exist in our Universe.
    So be very sure that this is true and not worth any pondering : The system is governed by Navier Stokes is as valid as saying that the system conserves energy and momentum.
    .
    To the second part mentionned a pseudo analogy.
    Statistical mechanics and thermodynamics cross from microscopical to macroscopical because they suppose kinetic energy conservation, uncorrelated and independent molecular movements.
    Fluid dynamics violate all 3 hypothesis so there is no and can be no analogy with statistical mechanics and fluid dynamics.
    The consequence of that is that turbulence exists not only on microscopical scales but also macroscopical. Ever seen a cloud ? An example of macroscopical turbulence.
    .
    So indeed the right way to study the system is to use the paradigm described by Robert Ellison and used by scientists like Ghil, Tsonis, Ruelle, Takens and more.
    Some people complained that f.ex Ghil didn’t make predictions yet.
    Well it’s mainly due to the fact that there are (still) too many people hanging on simplistic and wrong linear models where the climate “science” started some 30 years ago.
    We have some (very low level) examples of these primitive approaches on this thread too.
    But there are reasons for optimism – as students learn modern maths and concepts of non linear dynamics, they are more and more able to understand and master these techniques.
    But it will take some time until we have a realistic model able to predict probability distributions because probability distributions are the only thing that can be predicted in such systems.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘Perhaps we can visualize the day when all of the relevant physical principles will be perfectly known. It may then still not be possible to express these principles as mathematical equations which can be solved by digital computers. We may believe, for example, that the motion of the unsaturated portion of the atmosphere is governed by the Navier–Stokes equations, but to use these equations properly we should have to describe each turbulent eddy—a task far beyond the capacity of the largest computer. We must therefore express the pertinent statistical properties of turbulent eddies as functions of the larger-scale motions. We do not yet know how to do this, nor have we proven that the desired functions exist.’ Edward Lorenz

      Hi Tomas,

      You clarified something for me. Turbulence of the oceans and atmosphere is of course inevitable and ongoing – but within this are regime like structures that persist for hours to millennia ‘that are, although fully deterministic, subject to abrupt and seemingly random change.’ Slingo and Palmer, 2012

      Cheers

    • Robert I Ellison

      Oh – and of course making a prediction based on an inadequate theoretical basis is technically known as pulling it of your arse. We could likewise make a prediction and it would mean as little.


    • But there are reasons for optimism – as students learn modern maths and concepts of non linear dynamics, they are more and more able to understand and master these techniques.

      Look at the “own goal” that Tomas has scored.
      What is my approach doing but applying a nonlinear conservation model to the problem of understanding ENSO.
      http://contextearth.com/2014/05/27/the-soim-differential-equation/

      Since the fit is so good

      Tomas will have a lot of work to do to explain why it is wrong.

      By the way, this has no impact on the larger AGW picture as ENSO is only a perturbation on the climate evolution, demonstrating a zero-sum addition to what is happening.

      Tomas will have to restrain himself when he writes these emphatic “just-so” stories, as they always come back to bite him.

    • Robert I Ellison

      It is fitting an elliptical bathtub equation – http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Mathieuplots_zps3ec1411a.png.html?sort=3&o=7 – to the SOI using God knows what physically incompetent nonsense

      The SOI is a zero sum game until you actually sum it – JC SNIP

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/SOI-GHD_zpse2645883.png.html?sort=3&o=48

    • Nice “own goal” there RobbIE.

      The figure does show that ENSO sums to zero over time as the running integral of SOI spends equal time above and below zero.

      That’s the definition of zero-sum.

      Keep scoring own goals and we can add it to the tally sheet.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Come now Judith – Which of SOI is a zero sum game until you actually sum it – then it is denialist scumbag pseudo science is objectionable? It was a parody of reactions to contradicting the memes of the climate war.

      I am puzzled by webby’s tendentious interpretations however – however I am often puzzled by webby.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/SOI-GHD_zpse2645883.png.html?sort=3&o=48

      The sum went to a high point in 1976, declined to 1998 and has meandered along since. Anyone recognize the familiar multi-decadal periodicity?

    • So what .. the multidecadal variability also reverts to a mean value of zero.

      Another Own Goal by RobbIE !!

    • Robert I Ellison

      The mean has little meaning. There is one mean and variance for 30 odd years – and then another for 30 years. None of the means of the means add up to zero over the Holocene.

      Here’s the data – sum it.

      ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/paleolimnology/ecuador/pallcacocha_red_intensity.txt

      For anyone else who actually has a working brain.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/ENSO11000.gif.html?sort=3&o=226

  81. Tomas Milanovic

    Edit
    Of course I meant :
    Fluid dynamics violate all 3 hypothesis necessary to derive statistical mechanics so there is no and can be no analogy between statistical mechanics and fluid dynamics.

  82. Tomas Milanovic

    Turbulence of the oceans and atmosphere is of course inevitable and ongoing – but within this are regime like structures that persist for hours to millennia ‘that are, although fully deterministic, subject to abrupt and seemingly random change.’ Slingo and Palmer, 2012

    Yes this is right Robert.
    Actually turbulence is a word I don’t like to use much because it means generically the whole ensemble of those “regime like structures”.
    Again a cloud is a good example.
    What do you see ? Turbulence ?
    No, what you see are structures at all scales from mm to 100 m.

    • Robert I Ellison

      I see turbulence everywhere – especially in cloud – it happens spontaneously at high Reynolds No’s.

      In hydrology we speak of regimes that are decades long involving qualitative changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation.

  83. Robert Ellison you say
    “The location of the barycenter is a chaotic N-body problem that drives the evolution of the solar magneto. This drives changes in TSI and sets up chaotic resonances with the earth system. It is chaos all the way down.”
    Not so – the system is far from chaotic, There are very regular and predictable patterns in the suns position relative to the barycenter. There is a large literature on this subject. The best analysis is probably Fairbridge and Sanders .”The Suns Orbit,AD750 – 2050:Basis for New Perspectives on Planetary Dynamics and Earth Moon Linkage ” in ” Climate History Periodicity and Predictability” Rampino et a Van Nostrand 1987l
    This book is a must for serious players in the climate game.
    What we have is periodicities and resonances all the way down from days to millions of years. These produce recognizable patterns in climate and weather in time and space which gradually change through geological time as the configurations of the tectonic plates change.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Not so – Norman

      The N-body problem is undoubtedly chaotic – which in the physics sense does not imply disorder. Solar system orbits are calculated using perturbation theory. Whether there is a quasi stability in a system dominated by a central mass is another question.

      Non-linear dynamics occur within the Sun itself – e.g. – http://inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:21065881 – and in the Earth system. It is chaos all the way down.

  84. Robert All this discussion of chaos ,non linear differential equations ,navier stokes etc is really beside the point as far as I’m concerned since these methods are inherently unable to produce useful forecasts of the system as a whole. see

    Think of the temperature record ( I suggest the SSTs) as the output of a virtual computer which kindly does all the calculation of the multiple non linear equations for you. There are obvious quasi periodicities there by simple eyeball inspection. It is very reasonable to project these forwards. It looks like that by convolving the 60 and 1000 year quasi periodicities forward, forecasts can be made which may reasonably expected to prove skillful.
    See Figs 3,4,5,6 at
    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com/2013/10/commonsense-climate-science-and.html
    .There are also forecasts there of the possible timing and amount of a coming cooling.
    I’m continually amazed at the ability of the establishment scientists and indeed almost all the blogosphere to avoid what, to me, seems blatantly obvious. I guess stating the simple and obvious wouldn’t produce much in the way of publications, grants, academic advancement, consultancies ,government jobs, trips to conferences and in the UK Knighthoods and Lordships.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Chaotic systems imply non-warming – or even cooling – for 20 to 40 years from 2002. Beyond that there be dragon-kings.

  85. In my above comment change (I suggest the SSTs) to ( I suggest the SSTs with regard to the 60 year periodicity for example)

  86. Robert Heres my global forecast from the link
    4/02/13 ( Global)
    “1 Significant temperature drop at about 2016-17
    2 Possible unusual cold snap 2021-22
    3 Built in cooling trend until at least 2024
    4 Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2035 – 0.15
    5 Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2100 – 0.5
    6 General Conclusion – by 2100 all the 20th century temperature rise will have been reversed,
    7 By 2650 earth could possibly be back to the depths of the little ice age.
    8 The effect of increasing CO2 emissions will be minor but beneficial – they may slightly ameliorate the forecast cooling and help maintain crop yields .
    9 Warning !! There are some signs in the Livingston and Penn Solar data that a sudden drop to the Maunder Minimum Little Ice Age temperatures could be imminent – with a much more rapid and economically disruptive cooling than that forecast above which may turn out to be a best case scenario.

    How confident should one be in these above predictions? The pattern method doesn’t lend itself easily to statistical measures. However statistical calculations only provide an apparent rigor for the uninitiated and in relation to the IPCC climate models are entirely misleading because they make no allowance for the structural uncertainties in the model set up. This is where scientific judgment comes in – some people are better at pattern recognition and meaningful correlation than others. A past record of successful forecasting such as indicated above is a useful but not infallible measure. In this case I am reasonably sure – say 65/35 for about 20 years ahead. Beyond that certainty drops rapidly. I am sure, however, that it will prove closer to reality than anything put out by the IPCC, Met Office or the NASA group. In any case this is a Bayesian type forecast- in that it can easily be amended on an ongoing basis as the Temperature and Solar data accumulate. If there is not a 0.15 – 0.20. drop in Global SSTs by 2018 -20 I would need to re-evaluate.”
    NB the date of the forecast was 4/02/13
    Since then I think that the neutron count suggests that a Dalton minimum is more likely than a Maunder minimum in the immediate future.

    • Dr. Page:

      I also think that chaos theory, the love child of post-modern academic thought, provides little credible explanation for multidecadal and longer oscillations of climate variables. Contrary to Mandelbrot, who found no spectral evidence for any distinction between weather and climate in proxy data available to him, I find considerable such evidence in instrumented measurements. The critical question that remains unanswered is the bandwidth of multidecadal oscillations, which determines their predictability. Guided by no less an authority than Yogi Berra, I insist that “good predictions are tough to make–especially about the future.”

      P. S. Thank you for the sober-eyed Chris Essex video.

  87. 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 circulation.

    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.’ A UNIFIED MODELING APPROACH TO CLIMATE SYSTEM PREDICTION
    by James Hurrell, Gerald A. Meehl, David Bader, Thomas L. Delworth , Ben Kirtman, and Bruce Wielicki: BAMS December 2009 | 1819: DOI:10.1175/2009BAMS2752.1

    ‘The derivation of the Navier–Stokes equations begins with an application of Newton’s second law: conservation of momentum (often alongside mass and energy conservation) being written for an arbitrary portion of the fluid. In an inertial frame of reference,’ Wikipedia

    It is believed that these fundamental nonlinear partial differential equations capture the dynamics of fluid motion in 3 dimension. It is a little more difficult than that given the scale of eddies – microscopic upwards – and the box grid of practical computer models.

    The dynamic evolution of eddies creates regime structures in the atmosphere and oceans. Clouds, cyclones and anticyclones, tornadoes, cold fronts – as well as decadal and probably longer shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation.

    ‘… which suggests that nonlinear systems, such as the atmosphere, may exhibit regime-like structures that are, although fully deterministic, subject to abrupt and seemingly random change.’ Slingo and Palmer 2012

  88. Robert This is a wonderful example of the typical climate modelers obfuscatory mathspeak which adds exactly nothing to our understanding and which being interpreted means – climate is very complex – there may be some observable patterns in the system which, if you buy us more computer power and renew our grants we may be able to determine- but our forecasts may nevertheless be wrong because of random changes which we can’t explain.

  89. Robert I Ellison

    Norman – you have misunderstood the nature of stochastic dynamical systems of the planets, the Sun and the Earth.

    Why do you expect to convince me of your astromancy?

    • It’s easy to forget that Mother Nature never went to college, never gathered
      citations for a term-paper, nor wrote a computer program. Yet her powerful
      workings continue to befuddle those who have and rely primarily on that for
      their understanding of her ways.

      The au courant rationale of “chaos all the way down,” with butterfly
      flappings potentially initiating hurricanes, is the wisdom of schoolboys
      about women. It turns Kolmogorov’s insight and empirical experience with
      turbulent energy cascades bass ackwards. I forget who penned the ditty:
      “Big whirls leave little whirls which feed on their velocity; and little
      whirls have lesser whirls and so on to viscosity…” That
      far-more-realistic dynamical conception points to EXTERNAL energy inputs
      into Earth’s climate system as the driver of the multidecadal and longer
      oscillations that are unmistakably present in empirical data.

      It’s not Norman who misunderstands nature.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Abrupt change in the Earth climate system is a defining idea linking small and large scale patterns in climate. The dynamic evolution of eddies in coupled ocean/atmosphere dynamics – described in first principes by the Navier-Stokes equations of fluid motion – form stochastically forced resonant regimes in the Earth system at all scales in time and space. Clouds, cyclones and anticyclones, storm fronts, hydrological regimes, decadal and longer patterns of ocean and atmospheric circulation and glacials and interglacials.

      This was actually discussed – outside the realms of pontificating about astromancy and making prognostications likely only to be true by accident that is. We have clues about the nature of stochastic forcing but little understanding of how that stacks up in the resonant system.

    • The Lotka–Volterra system of equations is an example of Kolmogorov model.
      dx/dt and dy/dt  represent the growth rates of the two populations over time.
      This can happen without forcings into the system:

      The system appears chaotic.
      What happens if we add more snowshoe hare’s to the system?

    • Skippy:

      Mathematical presumptions about the climate system are easy to make, but
      difficult to sustain empirically. The N-S equations have never been solved
      analytically; even with the Boussinesq approximation they remain formidable. More to the point here, dynamical systems are by no means always resonant, nor necessarily chaotic. In fact, random dither often quenches potential jump resonances in real-world nonlinear systems. We know precious little about the forcing and dynamics of multidecadal oscillations. Being a good mother, nature regularly spanks her upstart children when they presume too much upon her.

      Raggnar:

      Are you seriously claiming that the EXTERNAL food supply for preyed-upon hares has no bearing on their population?

    • Robert I Ellison

      John S

      Annoying claptrap that proceeds from narrative to ill informed narrative.

      https://judithcurry.com/2014/06/05/what-is-skepticism-anyway/#comment-585358

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change… Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation.’ Wally Broecker

      The objective is to better explain climate data not make up just so stories.

    • If the system is Hares, Lynx and Food, and Food is held constant to simplify things, the system would I think exhibit chaotic behavior. Dropping the food by 10% would also change the outcome but not stop the chaotic behavior in most cases.

      Looking for a 3 variable graph, Predator, Prey, and Food I struck out.
      Deer, sort of food graph:

      Which reminds me of the roughly 1998 dragon king. Why am I talking about deer? Figure out how to do something successfully, keep doing it.

    • Skippy:

      CYA tactics, recognizable in a New York minute! That would never fly in any mature scientific discussion where lives, fortunes, or national security are stake, but is relied upon by those whose career is writing student-level blog comments.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘Lorenz was able to show that even for a simple set of nonlinear equations (1.1), the evolution of the solution could be changed by minute perturbations to the initial conditions, in other words, beyond a certain forecast lead time, there is no longer a single, deterministic solution and hence all forecasts must be treated as probabilistic. The fractionally dimensioned space occupied by the trajectories of the solutions of these nonlinear equations became known as the Lorenz attractor (figure 1), which suggests that nonlinear systems, such as the atmosphere, may exhibit regime-like structures that are, although fully deterministic, subject to abrupt and seemingly random change.’ Slingo and Palmer

      CYA? I had to look I up. Foolish just so stories about how the system might not abruptly change simply don’t fly – might not have resonant, regime like structures in ocean and atmospheric circulation is obscurantist cr@p from – a purveyor of annoying claptrap that proceeds from narrative to ill informed narrative.

      If you want to continue this – wait 5 minutes and if I don’t show up – continueon your own.

    • Skippy:

      What speaks volumes about your scientific qualifications is persistent
      failure to distinguish between mathematics and real-world physics along
      with characterization of empirically-gained knowledge about dynamical
      systems as “claptrap.” Wiki-expertise polemics may impress the
      scientifically benighted, but elicit only laughter amongst those who
      actually do sound science, instead of merely reading about it.

  90. Robert I don’t expect to convince you of anything. Also I’m not engaged in astromancy – my forecasts are empirically based on the quasi periodicities in the global temperature record itself and the neutron count and 10 Be data as the best proxy for solar activity.
    I say in the link
    http://climatesense-norpag.blogspot.com/2013/10/commonsense-climate-science-and.html
    “NOTE !! the connection between solar “activity” and climate is poorly understood and highly controversial. Solar ” activity” encompasses changes in solar magnetic field strength, IMF, CRF, TSI ,EUV,solar wind density and velocity, CMEs, proton events etc. The idea of using the neutron count as a useful proxy for changing solar activity and temperature forecasting is agnostic as to the physical mechanisms involved.”
    Obviously it would be nice to be able to trace all the connections and understand the processes involved in producing the earths temperature record including the orbital – solar activity relationships but it is not necessary in order to make acceptable and likely skillful predictions. I would be happy if I could, say, bring that idea into your mind.
    Keep in mind also the utility, in all scientific endeavours, of entertaining multiple working hypotheses.
    This latter approach ,while scientifically fruitful is not very useful if your object is to provide a guide for policy makers or propaganda for a particular position as is the case of the IPCC
    I note that your approach seems to produce similar results to mine for the next 20 – 30 years- clearly you must be doing something right!!

    • Matthew R Marler

      Dr Norman Page: Robert I don’t expect to convince you of anything. Also I’m not engaged in astromancy – my forecasts are empirically based on the quasi periodicities in the global temperature record itself and the neutron count and 10 Be data as the best proxy for solar activity.

      You have admirably addressed the shortcomings of Ghil’s approach; and you have hammered home the fact that other approaches have at least produced some computable approximations (inadequate to date) to actual climate data. As the saying goes, you have fairly beaten this horse to death. As the other saying goes, have you also tried to throw out the baby with the bathwater? Some insights into how the climate functions, lacking accurate mathematical approximations to the observed process, can be gained by reading the papers and books of Ghil and Henk Dijkstra.

  91. Robert I Ellison

    ‘Recent scientific evidence shows that major and widespread climate changes have occurred with startling speed. For example, roughly half the north Atlantic warming since the last ice age was achieved in only a decade, and it was accompanied by significant climatic changes across most of the globe. Similar events, including local warmings as large as 16°C, occurred repeatedly during the slide into and climb out of the last ice age. Human civilizations arose after those extreme, global ice-age climate jumps. Severe droughts and other regional climate events during the current warm period have shown similar tendencies of abrupt onset and great persistence, often with adverse effects on societies.

    Abrupt climate changes were especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. Thus, greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events. The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected.’ NAS

    Abrupt changes are inevitable several times this century – how they manifest and why is a different question. NAS

    It has reached the stage where it matters little what the IPCC or sceptics say about future trajectories of climate. Surprises are to be expected.

    Wally Broecker –the ‘father of global warming’ – suggests that predictions about the future of climate are problematic. Broecker has characterized what we are doing as poking a stick at a wild and angry beast. The science of stochastic nonlinear dynamical systems – and of abrupt climate change – suggests that he is correct. It creates a dilemma. The world may not be warming for decades at least – but this comes at the price of inherent instability of the climate system.

    The reduction of pressures on the system – CO2 from fossil fuels, black carbon, tropospheric ozone, land clearing, loss of soil carbon, nitrous oxide, methane, sulfide -which are compounded by population and development issues – is therefore prudent and this has implications for resource constraints and economic growth.

    ‘In a world of limited resources, we can’t do everything, so which goals should we prioritize? The Copenhagen Consensus Center provides information on which targets will do the most social good (measured in dollars, but also incorporating e.g. welfare, health and environmental protection), relative to their costs. Some of the world’s top economists have assessed the targets from the 11th session Open Working Group document into one of five categories, based on economic evidence: Phenomenal, Good, Fair, Poor and not enough knowledge.’ http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/final_un_ccc_2015.pdf

    There is currently an opportunity to combine aid, environmental and climate factors into a coherent policy position. I suggest that this is best achieved through integration of the Copenhagen Consensus analysis of the UN proposed 2015 extension of the Millennium Development Goals. The aim is a policy position that can serve as a guide and focus for aid to achieve the biggest bang for the development buck and create progress at the same time on the environment and climate change.

    In a relatively short order the world will require an abundance of low cost, low carbon energy. I would add another line item in the energy section – to propose a $1B triennial global energy prize to support innovation in energy technology, energy efficiency and energy systems – to be judged by a panel of eminent persons. It is to be contributed to by world governments, corporations and individuals. There is room also to expand on rebuilding organic matter in global agricultural soils.

    There is an opportunity to add rhetorical flourish in the spirit of Hayek. Enlightenment liberals can grasp the science and policy high ground or wallow in the dross of implausible and unproven speculation – in utter ignorance of abrupt climate change and stochastic dynamical systems.
    ‘We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a programme which seems neither a mere defence of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism… Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.

    It is clear that this is an opportunity that should not be lost. Your choice – but I am moving on.

    ‘Preamble on Climate Science and Policy for the Future of Humanity and the Natural World

    The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change.’ Wally Broecker

    Abrupt climate change happens on scales of decades to many millennia. It suggests a larger role for natural variability but also an inherent instability in the complex and dynamic Earth system. Instability to which we theoretically may be driving the system towards. The further out we get the greater the impetus to instability – although it also suggests little warming – if any – for decades. This latter seems the core of the political impasse we are at in climate politics – but it is a false dichotomy. There are many states possible in the climate system – and the world will shift between them unpredictably. It seems more than time therefore that the political impasse was broken in favour of pragmatic – and politically feasible – solutions.

    Anthropogenic forcing of climate is a multi-gas problem with population and development dimensions – CO2 from fossil fuels, black carbon, tropospheric ozone, land clearing, loss of soil carbon, nitrous oxide, methane, sulfide – compounded by population and development issues. Carbon dioxide is the smaller part of the overall problem.

    Population adds to all of the pressures on climate and the environment. Development allows room for amelioration of all these problems – including population pressures. Early and substantial progress can be made on a multi-gas strategy – in conserving and restoring ecosystems and in sequestering CO2 in repaired agricultural soils – with benefits for incomes, health, agricultural productivity and the environment.

    In principle the UN’s 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are in combination the best approach to constraining population growth. Ignore for a moment that this is a UN program and so doomed to failure. All of our western governments have committed to raising aid to 0.7% of GDP. We commend this as a low cost way of achieving early successes on climate change while having global social and economic benefits.

    This century is critical for the future of humanity and the environment in many ways. It would be better if we consciously made a decision to seize the moment and move forward to sensibly build a rich and diverse global civilisation.’

  92. Pingback: Where do we go from here? « DON AITKIN