Year in review – top science stories

by Judith Curry

The ‘best of 2015’ lists are starting to appear.

Here is a roundup of what I have spotted so far.

Climate

The top climate stories are about politics and policies, and extreme weather events (no science)

Science

And now for the science:

Discover Magazine: Top 100 stories of the year 

  • #4 Climate at the Crossroads (Paris)
  • #14  Hot answer to a solar mystery
  • #25  Antarctica under siege by hidden forces
  • #30 West scorches as drought intensifies
  • #31 Fiery 2015 may become the new normal
  • #43  CO2 time bomb from thawing permafrost more like a slow leak
  • #84 No, tropical deforestation rates are not falling

Images

These are pretty spectacular, well worth a click

Misc 

JC reflections

Very few stories from climate science (rather than politics or extreme event taxonomy) have made it into these lists.

I remember the heady days when actual climate science would make it into the Discover Magazine’s top 100 list [papers I coauthored landed on two of these lists: 2005 (#1) and 2009 (#47)].

Your choice for top climate SCIENCE story of the year?

 

 

123 responses to “Year in review – top science stories

  1. Pingback: Year in review – top science stories | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. Curious George

    Top climate POLITICS only.

  3. A lovely list and pre happy new year Dr C.

    I esp like the fungi article and nature pics. Great article that inspires one to BE a fungi fan. And those pictures … amazing. Now there’s a good use for our human preoccupation with documenting stuff.

    A for the climate frontier, the macro observation of non science representatives in the top 100 is that despite the very poor science concerning CAGW, we appear to be moving into Phase 2 of mass movement … how to create and sustain a new energy vision.

  4. My vote for best climate stories in 2015:

    1) Testimony by Curry, UAB crowd, Steyn to US. House of rep and Senate.

    2). Pause not busted.

    George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

  5. Top story of 2015

    The New Denialists:

    Who are these terrible New Denialists?

    New members of the climate ‘deniers’ club: James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel, Tom Wigley . . . and Bill Gates.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/17/cop21-failure-terror-begins-crazed-greenies-eat/

    After COP21 Failure The Terror Begins: Crazed Greenies Eat Their Own

  6. Mushrooms as Rainmakers: How Spores Act as Nuclei for Raindrops by Hassett MO, Fischer MWF, Money NP (2015) PLoS ONE 10(10): e0140407.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140407

    Millions of tons of fungal spores are dispersed in the atmosphere every year. These living cells, along with plant spores and pollen grains, may act as nuclei for condensation of water in clouds. Basidiospores released by mushrooms form a significant proportion of these aerosols, particularly above tropical forests. Mushroom spores are discharged from gills by the rapid displacement of a droplet of fluid on the cell surface. This droplet is formed by the condensation of water on the spore surface stimulated by the secretion of mannitol and other hygroscopic sugars. This fluid is carried with the spore during discharge, but evaporates once the spore is airborne. Using environmental electron microscopy, we have demonstrated that droplets reform on spores in humid air. The kinetics of this process suggest that basidiospores are especially effective as nuclei for the formation of large water drops in clouds. Through this mechanism, mushroom spores may promote rainfall in ecosystems that support large populations of ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic basidiomycetes. Our research heightens interest in the global significance of the fungi and raises additional concerns about the sustainability of forests that depend on heavy precipitation.

    Not that I’m suggesting it as the “top”, but certainly interesting and potentially paradigm-changing.

  7. Dr. Curry — Could you give us links to a couple of 2015 CE posts that you thought were especially insightful that we could benefit in re-reading.

    • a post on blog year in review will be coming in a few days, stay tuned

      • Stephan-I imagine our experiences are not that different, but maybe we noticed different things. I think Richardwarthout sees the trees that make up the Forrest.

        I’m thinking you are a SoCo guy. Did the guys in cubes originate and champion Kemper? I can’t imagine it was not someone with power who had a vision. Is it the folks in the cubes not the PSC who is pushing the solar? Look north to Kentucky. The entities there have always used industry methods/models and approaches – but when the in public service commission cracked down – the results as to planned resource additions changed dramatically.

        I’ve been to many rate hearings and seen many dueling economists argue methods and approaches. You can find consultants pushing any way you want.

        Some of my experience was that I saw a lot to of pushback to natural gas in the 90s. Folks liked coal -they can see the coal pile and count as on its availability. The studies before I got to one employer back then had stacked the deck against CTs to favor an alternative technology by making the CTs burn diesel. That was a senior management directive. It took a lot of models and runs and logic and sweat to get the top on board with a huge CC as the next addition. With hindsight it should have been a no-brainer.

        While it may sometimes be inaapropriate. I think senior management has a major role to play. The goal is not to simply pick the lowest cost addition in the most likely scenario. You want a n alternative that performs well across a myriad assortment of scenarios. That provides hedges and reduces risks. Like you say as for a 401 k. I wouldn’t put my retirement in the hands of someone who just does “technical”. analysis. I want a portfolio that performs well across many scenarios. I might not see enough, but my take is a lot of the studies favoring intermittently are limit d in scenario analysis to stack the deck.

      • Oops- the above belongs on the chain below. My apologies. I blame holiday craft beers.

      • Planning Engineer Whoops! I didn’t see your post until now. I was gone before the CCS project (to ethanol ag & engineering).

        Let me think fully about what you’ve written.

        As an aside, unquestionably the biggest disappointment in my professional life has been with IGCC’s (coal and biomass). The technology has just not achieved the improved efficiency heat rate that is expected. I wonder if this same type of issue will present itself with supercritical power plants.

        Perhaps I need to clarify what I experienced on the “balanced portfolio generation mix” point I brought up. I never saw this aspect directly reflected in our quantitative analysis.

        The “balanced portfolio mix argument” has been used by many Electric Utility CFO’s on not becoming too dependent on natural gas (for base, intermediate, or peaking loads). The usual context of the comments is in testimony before Congress to support Federal incentives for nuclear, wind, and solar.

        Of course, things like tax incentives are then reflected in our planning models.

      • Stephan,

        Good point that tax incentives are reflected in our models. Some solutions that win in our models may place a bigger burden or provide a reward to the greater society. Whether incentives can make solar more affordable or not depends on what your frame of reference is. Maybe you describe solar as more cost effective than I do because you are crediting the incentives and not counting the costs they impose elsewhere. Speaking just within my company and to my customer base I might talk about the cost-effectiveness of solar based on a consideration of incentives as you do. Speaking more generally in terms of society and policy as a whole, as I do in this blog, for me the cost of solar should include what the utilities end up paying as well as the cost of the incentives and other foregone benefits.

        Think of the situation where available rebates for electric vehicles makes them cost 10% less for the owner or leasee. You can clearly describe them as cost competitive and even cheap if you want from the customers perspective. But the cars subsidized in that manner ultimately cost considerably more from a societal perspective and could be described as expensive.

        So yes solar is more widely affordable and cost effective today from perspectives which credit subsidies but not their costs. I have never meant to argue that solar programs don’t work out for some subset of the population, but to me that should almost gone without saying. When I say it’s tends to be costly and of questionable economics I am speaking F the bigger picture.

      • Planning Engineer — I doubt you will see this post (I’ll bookmark it as to our future discussions).

        Again, where I sometimes balk at your and Rud’s comments is over the context. Probably 99.9% of CE Blog readers have no idea of the engineering and economics involved in integrated system planning (as taught by leading engineering schools like the Univ. of Chicago and applied by Electric Utilities).

        I have a very high level of esteem and respect for our engineers who apply this “Process” (which would make NASA proud as to the complexity) — and reject the common “conspiracy theories” I often see here at CE. This includes so many aspects where people have no idea what they are talking about — such as tax law — i.e., normalization (versus flow-through) requirements of IOUs on tax benefits.

        2 sticking points I often have are:

        1. Applying a micro to a macro. People often cite some individual micro characteristic of a Renewable technology and then ubiquitously apply it to the macro integrated grid (i.e., make a “General Policy” conclusion). You just can’t do this.

        2. Penetration Levels — Rarely (if ever) is this put in context e.g., where today’s level of solar penetration in the U.S. is ~one half of 1%. Almost all of the “Integrated System” problems/challenges discussed would only occur at high penetration levels.

        As I have repeatedly said — In using a state-of-the-art “Engineering Process“, if the penetration level of Renewables on an inflexible system is say 1% (or less) — so be it. But if an integrated system has things like a fleet of shiny new natural gas combined cycle units, access to large hydro (e.g., Canadian) resources, peaking load shapes that line up nicely with off-shore wind, etc. a penetration level which still has high system reliability can be much higher.

    • All the posts by Planning Engineer and all the others that showed weather dependent renewables are a high cost way of generating electricity and canot make a large contribution to reducing global GHG emissions for starters.

      • Planning Engineer — Do you agree with Mr. Lang’s statement on what you have written? A simple yes or no would be OK with me.

      • Stephen -fuzzy thought from a mountain cabin – relating to Peter’s post I would say: Weather dependent renewables are often a high cost way to generate electricity. My posts show that many costs are not considered. Renewables are not currently making a large contribution to reducing global GHG emissions. (German experience). Based how you see the world working, I think it’s reasonable to advance as Peter does (I assume he is speaking more n the near term versus long term) that my posts support such a conclusion. I also think it’s reasonable for someone to read my posts coupled with their perspective that reductions in CO2 are essential and valuable to draw the conclusion that we have a lot of work to do, that there are costs that will have to be paid, tradeoffs endured, and challenges met. Alternatively my posts could be use to support a view that maybe we ought to look at more equitable and just ways (cutting recreational air travel for example) to reduce carbon rather than raising heating and cooling costs for pensioners. I don’t mind anyone using my postings for traditional or alternative and creative approaches. I just don’t like those that deny costs and capabilities and have such an unbalanced sense of optimism for anything seemingly green.

      • Planning Engineer,

        Thank you for commenting. It’s good to hear from you and to know you are still following CE (or perhaps you received a prompt :)

        You might be interested in a recently published excellent report on the cost to largely decarbonise the GB electricity system by 2030: ‘Managing Flexibility Whilst Decarbonising the GB Electricity Systemhttp://erpuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ERP-Flex-Man-Full-Report.pdf ? Your comments would be interesting.

        The ERP is co-chaired by Prof John Loughhead FREng, Chief Scientific Advisor to DCEE. ERP members include a broad spectrum of stake holders from electricity industry, academics, government agencies and environmental NGOs).
        The ERP analysis considers and does sensitivity analyses on important inputs and constraints that are rarely included in analyses intended for informing policy analysts regarding policy for a whole electricity system.

        From the Introduction:

        In light of the increasing penetration of variable renewables the ERP undertook to examine issues around grid flexibility and stability. A model was developed to balance not just the need for energy but also ensure the supply of services critical to the operation of the grid. This was used to produce robust modelling of a real GB system across a wide range of scenarios, supported by more stylised analysis to explore the fundamental constraints within which a secure technology mix must lie. This section introduces the main issues facing the GB system and the lessons from other grids, the GB modelling work is described in the following sections.

        As well as the high level conclusions there is some guidance offered on specific topics, such as some preliminary work on storage. This work highlights a valuable and necessary approach to considering the GB system as a whole. With less focus on the specifics, the power of this is in setting the direction of travel and defining the solution space.

        From the Executive Summary:

        A zero- or very low- carbon system with weather dependent renewables needs companion low carbon technologies to provide firm capacity.

        The modelling indicates that the 2030 decarbonisation targets of 50 or even 100 g/kWh cannot be hit by relying solely on weather dependent technologies like wind and PV alone. Simple merit order calculations have backed this up and demonstrated why this is the case, even with very significant storage, demand side measures or interconnection in support. There is a need to have a significant amount of zero carbon firm capacity on the system too – to supply dark, windless periods without too much reliance on unabated fossil. This firm capacity could be supplied by a number of technologies such as nuclear, biomass or fossil CCS.

        Figure 11 shows that 31 GW nuclear by 2030 would achieve the 2030 targets at least cost (for the mix of the three main technologies considered in this chart). This chart shows the cost would require a £70/t carbon price plus another 3.5% electricity price increase.

        Figure 14 shows that the least cost option (of realistically available options) for achieving the 100 g/kWh requirement by 2030 is with 31 GW of nuclear power. Pumped hydro energy storage is hugely expensive and the worst option of all by far is to close existing nuclear plants (if their lives can be extended).

        If I am interpreting Figure 10 correctly, it says that, in 2012, 7.9 TWh energy storage would have been sufficient to allow a 100% wind and solar powered GB system to meet demand (after demand side management and short term storage).

        If you do have a detailed understanding of the ERP analysis, I’d really like to know what you think. I’d like to discuss it in comments, especially the costs, financial viability and the practically of achieving the target by 2030. An ‘Energy Matters’ post would be great.

      • Peter – yes in addition to the postings, I try to keep up with discussions as best I can. I specifically try to follow you and a number of other posters but I haven’t figured out how to get limited alerts, so I am a bit hit or miss.

        From scanning the link you provided, it looks pretty good to me. I want to give it more attention later. I have a related piece I am just wrapping up to run sometime in January.

      • That’s great news you have a post coming in January. I feared you’d gone ‘walk-about’ (an Aussie term).

        Here’s some more on the ERP report in case you missed it when I posted on another thread.

        The 2015 ERP report Managing Flexibility Whilst Decarbonising the GB Electricity System analyses the costs of reducing emission from the GB electricity system with various mixes of electricity generation technologies.

        I’ve eyeballed from Figures 5 and 6 some values of CO2 emissions intensity for different mixes of new wind and new nuclear capacity in the GB electricity system (see columns 1 to 3 in the table below). The rows are ordered by decreasing CO2 emissions intensity. The fourth column is eyeballed from Figure 11 (left chart); it is the change in total system cost per MWh above what the system cost would be with the current system with a £70/t CO2 carbon price added (A £70/t CO2 carbon price would not be sufficient to drive any changes in the electricity system needed to achieve the CO2 emissions reduction targets). The columns are: Wind, GW’; ‘Nuclear, GW’; ‘CO2, g/kWh’; ‘TSC, % change’.

        Wind, GW Nuclear, GW CO2, g/kWh TSC, % change
        56
        0 180 8.0%
        30 10 140 3.2%
        56
        11
        100 11.4%
        30 20 60 7.7%
        56 18 50 ~15%
        42 20 50 11.0%
        0 31
        50 ~3.0%
        0 32
        40 ~4.0%

        0 35 25 7.7%

        For comparison, France’s CO2 emissions intensity was 42 g/kWh in 2014; Britain could achieve that with 32 GW of new nuclear and 0 GW new wind.

        The table shows the least cost options to achieve the greatest reductions in CO2 emissions intensity of electricity is with mostly nuclear and little or no new wind. GB could achieve the same emissions intensity as France with 32 GW of new nuclear, 0 GW of new wind for a ~4% real increase in cost of electricity.

      • The table didn’t post correctly. I’ll try again:

        Wind, GW Nuclear, GW CO2, g/kWh TSC, % change
        56 0 180 8.0%
        30 10 140 3.2%
        56 11 100 11.4%
        30 20 60 7.7%
        56 18 50 ~15%
        42 20 50 11.0%
        0 31 50 ~3.0%
        0 32 40 ~4.0%
        0 35 25 7.7%

      • Planning Engineer — Obviously, you and Rud are very smart people. Where I sometimes balk at both of your comments is in their context.

        For example, your statement: “Weather dependent renewables are often a high cost way to generate electricity“. In “context”, fossil fuel peaking load generation options like a simple combustion turbine with a very low capacity factor are also a high cost way to generate electricity. Often you just don’t give a “whole picture”.

        My position on Renewables needs no context. I believe generation decisions must always be made using state-of-the-art integrated system planning engineering & economics (e.g., including things like ELCC). This is performed using software models that have been heavily peer tested for decades, updated, and extensively used within the Industry (Utilities, Regulators, Energy Organizations) — such as the GE models. If the resulting Renewables penetration level from this type of engineering analysis is less than 1%, then so-be-it (but in reality, it isn’t this low).

        My view needs no context as to what what State (e.g., California) or Country (e.g., Germany) we are talking about. Just follow the engineering. Anything other than this is the wrong path — period, end of story IMO.

        This view fits my personal view in opposing a U.S. Federal Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard — which would put decision making in the hands of Politicians rather than our engineers.

        Often you and Rud write negatively about Renewables — but you don’t make the context clear to CE Readers. Many to most of the problems you talk about would only be present at penetration levels much, much higher than say, solar’s current ~one-half of 1%.

        The overwhelming majority of the U.S. is not like Germany, nor California, or Hawaii (during weekends).

      • Planning Engineer and Rud — Your comments to Mr. Lang’s linked study will be interesting.

        This Study is a example of “strawman arguments” that so many people advance.

        Right up front in the assumptions in the Mr. Lang linked study, one has to reject Dr. Curry’s position on TCR and accept a CAGW IPCC scenario.

        The study is also has a myopic strawman — making AGW all about non fossil fuel energy options. As COP21 emphasized, there needs to be multiple approaches to address AGW (e.g., including “Fast Mitigation” which Dr. Curry writes favorably about):

      • Stephen Segrest:

        The study is also has a myopic strawman — making AGW all about non fossil fuel energy options.

        That’s a strawman. It’s a strawman by you. It’s a lie. The report says nothing of the sort. If you say nit does, then quote the passage. The UK government has set targets for decarbonisation of the UK electricity grid by 2030. The ERP analysis models the total system cost of achieving those targets with different technology mixes.

        Your strawman! Your intellectual dishonesty!

      • SS,

        “This view fits my personal view in opposing a U.S. Federal Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard — which would put decision making in the hands of Politicians rather than our engineers.”

        Policy, by definition, is in the hands of politicians. Sloppy science, motivated reasoning, and crony capitalism are all inputs to the process. In the case of California, the world’s largest experiment with renewables, the decisions are made by unelected but politically appointed public utility commissioners. They are all Governor Jerry “moonbeam” Brown appointees, with the most recent chairman a former renewables advisor to Governor Moonbeam. We have the most expensive electricity rates in the nation.

        There are glimmers of hope. Our local County Supervisor, a former Republican turned Independent so he could get elected in a county that went gaga (80%) for Obama, stated that he would work on lowering rates because many of his constituents burn wood for heat to avoid the high electricity costs. As a result of the wood burning we have, in these gourgeous sylvan seaside mountains, some of the worst air quality in the country. Black carbon, particulates, CO2 – we got it all. The Monterey Bay Area Unified Air Pollution Control District, with an EPA stick in it’s ribs, is on a campaign to end wood burning in this area. Every day I see the vents pumping out a stream of smoke like a coal fired locomotive, SUVs and Suburus with faded Obama and “Occupy Democrat” stickers and they think they are just great environmentalists. Meanwhile every oak and madrone in the neighborhood is destined for the firebox, birds be damned.

        There are those pesky unintended consequences – good engineers deal with them all the time.

        Next up, lots of juicy contracts for storage awarded to the cronies of the democrats “occupying” the halls of the powerful and pervasive state of California.

      • Stephen, Sorry I don’t have time to give your comments due attention. I will look more closely at the link with your comments in mind. Reading what you wrote you appear tO have less tolerance for “renewables” than I do. Personally I don’t have any major problems with uneconomically doublng current solar output the US. There are better and worse things we could do with the money. We’d learn some things front that and it might spur other benefits. But the context we are living in today is that there are much more ambitious called for greater renewables. My postings address the large misperceptions that many operate under. I think there is a lot of solar built when other option exist which would be more economic. I don’t think there are many cases where conventional resources are. built when solar would be more economical. So my comments are apt for the context we see today.

        A lot of engineers think in black and white and that works in some limited spheres, but not widely. I think there is always context and you can never tell the complete whole balanced truth either. We just muddle through and try to get a picture that is good enough with enough of the story from all sides to provide some sembalance of balance.

      • Personally I don’t have any major problems with uneconomically doublng current solar output the US. There are better and worse things we could do with the money.

        This is the number one justification that I hear from the 20 – 30 college educated age bracket. It’s typically coupled with … it’s far better than piss in away wads of cash fighting wars over oil.

        The justification typically comes after they realize the significance of LIA, MWP and other recent climate periods.

      • Planning Engineer — Your last comment kinda blows my mind. I spent ~25 years doing this stuff with 2 major electric utilities. I’ve testified before PUCs and Congress.

        I never had a senior management person ever try and influence the results of the process of integrated system planning & engineering economics. In an arena of public testimony and FOI, how could some subjective influence (advancing Renewables) be “hidden”? All the data (and code) is always available to the PSC Staff (and their consultants).

      • Stephen Segrest,

        So why do you keep dodging the important issue for policy analysis?

        Since you criticised the ERP report (with pathetic ‘arm waving’ and ‘strawman argument’) why do you dodge the request to show something better – more credible, more comprehensive that explains the cost of achieving the UK governments CO2 emissions targets for the GB electricity system with a variety of technology mixes, assumptions, sensitivity analyses and taking into account the important constraints.

        When are you going to provide a “whole picture” analysis that does a better job than the ERP report does of explain the cost of achieving the UK governments CO2 emissions targets for the GB electricity system?

      • Mr. Lang — As I’ve stated before, you are 1 of 3 people on CE I will not respond to.

        I just don’t think you’re very good professionally (in engineering) and are mean spirited.

      • Stephen segrest,

        The feelings are mutual. I feel exactly the same about you. You are incompetent in what is relevant for policy analysis, options and whole of system cost analysis of options. You don’t understand the big picture. So you try to divert and avoid addressing the relevant questions and issues.

        You seem to be driven by your green beliefs and agenda, make disingenuous comments, continually ‘arm waving’ and using ‘strawman arguments’ while accusing others of doing so (usually wrongly and invariably without explaining what you interpret to be a strawman and why).

        You can’t or wont provide total system cost comparisons of options to meet requirements.

        You lose out on every argument and so you pick up you bat an ball, run home and cry to mumma.

        Since you think you are so good and so knowledgeable, why don’t you you answer the simple question I asked you. Put up or shut up.

      • richardswarthout

        Stephen

        “Planning Engineer — Your last comment kinda blows my mind. I spent ~25 years doing this stuff with 2 major electric utilities. I’ve testified before PUCs and Congress…….I never had a senior management person ever try and influence the results of the process of integrated system planning & engineering economics…”

        It appears that the senior management person of whom you speak of was not the senior enough. Above him/her there was surely some politicking going on. The only way solar got into the mix in Georgia was federal government arm twisting.

        Richard

      • Stephen, I don’t know where to begin with the question/challenge you raise. Surely you recognize all kinds of subjective data projections go into studies. There are many ways to weigh risks and different weights that can be placed on various values. Such studies are as much art as science. Perhaps in the short term when the answers work, you can have set assumptions just turn the crank and live with the results. Maybe that has been your experience. But with pressure and motives background assumptions changes and results follow. Back in the 80s a west coast utility I worked for spent a lot on geothermal – it’s never worked as hoped. Was Kemper clean coal a wise move for Missssippi? I don’t think anyone else’s studies looked much like the ones that justified it.

        What do the studies that justify significant solar assume about natural gas? That the proven reserves will provide plentiful cheap natural gas? I’m afraid they don’t show that.

      • Planning Engineer — Of course assumptions have to be made. But I (personally) never experienced “Senior Management” forcing any specific assumptions into the extremely complex quantitative process.

        Yes, future fuel costs are a very problematic area. The approach I experienced on this was to use a probability distribution based on historical price patterns and also outside consultants on natural gas (future crystal ball). The point I’m trying to make is that yes, assumptions can of course turn out to be incorrect. But there was a logical, systematic process that was not “stacked” to favor any specific technology.

        With regard to generation projects like coal and nuclear, the System Planners would have provided to senior management things like the capital cost price point (cost overruns) where the decision would be different. It was Senior Management’s responsibility to perform “due diligence” on the probability of cost over-runs (that would be born by the Utility in an EPC).

        But of course, maybe your System Planning experiences were/are different.

      • richardswarthout — Of course, I’d be very familiar with how the Southern Co. does System Planning. What you suggest as to subjectivity (arm twisting) driving the process is, IMO, inconceivable. If what your saying is true, certainly someone like a large industrial (or several large industrials) would have intervened demanding to see the quantitative decision making process.

      • One aspect not mentioned here on CE on Integrated System Planning is having enough of a diversified generation mix portfolio to hedge risk — Just like one’s 401-K.

        While different people would have different perspectives as to mix — I can say what is isn’t: 99.5% natural gas; 0.0% nuclear, 0.5% renewables.

      • richardswarthout

        Stephen

        Planning Engineer’s mention of token, but illogical, use of solar is in the realm of reality. Your notion that system planning drives the train is not the whole story. It appears you’ve been around the block, and you’ve gotta know the role of politics, both governmental politics and intramural politics, when large sums of money are involved. From my experience it is a challenge to keep the roaches out of the pot. From what I’ve read, the solar piece in Georgia’s plan is an example of what PE described; it is a very small chunk of the whole and mostly involves military installations.

        Note: I’ve started to read Rud’s “Blowing Smoke” and it brings new perspectives that might influence your thinking and the thinking of many skeptics. It tells us that peak oil is at the threshold and that we have no choice, fossil fuel alternatives are in the near future; regardless of AGW fears.

        Note2: I had a geothermal engineer look at my house in southeast Michigan and found that for $15K a 50% cut in home cooling and heating requirements is possible. Doesn’t work for me, but my church, and other such buildings, might benefit.

        Richard

      • richardswarthout

        Stephen

        You say:
        “One aspect not mentioned here on CE on Integrated System Planning is having enough of a diversified generation mix portfolio to hedge risk — Just like one’s 401-K…While different people would have different perspectives as to mix..”

        And previously you said:
        “I never had a senior management person ever try and influence the results of the process of integrated system planning & engineering economics.”

        This infers that at no time has your senior management had a say in the subjective aspects of Integrated System Planning. That is hard to believe.

        Richard

      • More so than my misplaced post above, I think Richard… makes the point in a nice succulent manner,

      • Succinct. Damn spell checker.

      • PE,

        Go with succulent, especially when holiday craft beers are involved! Richard might just appreciate that characterization describing his words!

      • richardswarthout

        PE & Danny

        Thank you for the complements. Great way to end the year. A succulent drink to you and all. Chears!

        Richard

      • Stephen Segrest

        @ https://judithcurry.com/2015/12/27/year-in-review-top-science-stories/#comment-754900 you said:

        Obviously, you [PE] and Rud are very smart people. Where I sometimes balk at both of your comments is in their context.

        For example, your statement: “Weather dependent renewables are often a high cost way to generate electricity”. In “context”, fossil fuel peaking load generation options like a simple combustion turbine with a very low capacity factor are also a high cost way to generate electricity. Often you just don’t give a “whole picture”.

        Segrest, you begin with a ridiculous strawman argument. No one is suggesting using OCGT for powering a large proportion of an electricity system. But many people, including you on previous threads, have advocated that electricity systems should be powered by a large proportion of weather dependent renewables.

        You attempted to discredit the ERP report, but provided no valid, reasonable reasons for your dismissive comments. The ERP report shows “whole picture” – i.e. total system costs for mixes of technology options for those that are likely to be viable and able to make a significant contribution to meeting the CO2 emissions targets for the GB electricity system by 2030. These are estimates of total system costs. They’ve considered the most significant constraints and done sensitivity analyses on the important inputs. Figure 14 shoes that nuclear is the cheapest of the viable options, wind and solar are expensive, pumped hydro is extremely expensive and the worst scenario of all is shutting down existing nuclear plants (if their life can be extended).

        I think this is an excellent analysis of the total system cost. You tried to discredit it with ignorant comments including totally misrepresenting it with your strawman argument

        I suggest you need to put up or shut up. If you are honest and have any professional integrity, you should acknowledge the ERP is a good report and you know of no serious authoritative critique that shows it is significantly flawed.

        You’ll also acknowledge it shows that 31 GW new nuclear and no new weather dependent renewables is the least cost way for GB to achieve the 2030 CO2 emissions target of 50 g/kWh. 32 GW new nuclear would achieve the same CO2 emissions intensity as Franc’s electricity system.

  8. There are a lot of good candidates last year, but I have to go with Zwally’s article on Antarctic ice mass growth for shear impact on the debate. Karl’s “pause buster” article may be more important long term because it is such an obvious misstatement of fact. But, right now I go with Zwally.

  9. OK, I’m a year late to this party, but here’s the most important science story of 2014-15;

    The world’s oldest rock, a 4.4 billion year old zircon crystal, has been uncovered in Western Australia’s Jack Hills region. According to Nature Geoscience, this new discovery has demonstrated that the Earth’s crust formed soon after our plant formed, with the zircon crystal being a remnant of this, .Feb 24, 2014

    The rocks were uncovered in the Narryer Gniess Terrane region
    Prior to this discovery the oldest rocks uncovered were thought to be between 3.8 and 4.28 billion years old, and were found in the Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt, in Canada.

    This new discovery has also shown, due to the zircon’s oxygen isotopic composition, that there was already water on the surface of the Earth at this time,
    The Earth is believed the have formed only 4.5 billion years ago, and these rocks have shown that water could have existed on the earth’s surface within 150 million years of it originally forming.

    The oldest rock ever dated was a non-terrestrial meteorite, which is believed to be 4.56 billion years old.

    http://www.australianmining.com.au/news/world-s-oldest-rocks-found-in-australia

    • richardswarthout

      PL

      There goes the theory of my children; that I am the oldest rock!

      Richard

      • Richard – Meet the Stramatolytes

        They’ve been living for 3,500 million years, and continue to live happily today:

        “The rock like structure is produced by the excretions of a type of blue-green algae that is thought to have originated some 3,500 million years ago and for 2,850 million years they were the only evidence of life on the planet. There are some 50 species of cyanobacteria found at the Hamelin Pool site alone. They are the simplest form of single cell life known to exist.

        Population densities have been estimated at 3,000,000,000 per square metre and the structures they create can be 10,000,000 times larger than the individual organisms.”
        http://www.wanowandthen.com/Wordls-Oldest-Life-Forms.html

        Mike Flynn – meet the Ediacarans, your 565 million year old ancestors
        http://austhrutime.com/ediacaran_fauna.htm

      • richardswarthout

        Peter Lang

        Being a rock is more appealing than being algae or bacteria, living with a billion others as creepy as me. But perhaps if I was one I’d like them better, might even fall in love.

        Richard

      • And here I thought “That’s All Right Mama” by Arthur Crudup was the oldest Rock.

      • But not the oldest life! ;-)
        “When did life on Earth begin? Scientists have dug down through the geologic record, and the deeper they look, the more it seems that biology appeared early in our planet’s 4.5-billion-year history. So far, geologists have uncovered possible traces of life as far back as 3.8 billion years. Now, a controversial new study presents potential evidence that life arose 300 million years before that, during the mysterious period following Earth’s formation.”
        http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/10/scientists-may-have-found-earliest-evidence-life-earth
        Abstract – “Evidence of life on Earth is manifestly preserved in the rock record. However, the microfossil record only extends to ∼3.5 billion years
        (Ga), the chemofossil record arguably to ∼3.8 Ga, and the rock
        record to 4.0 Ga. Detrital zircons from Jack Hills, Western Australia
        range in age up to nearly 4.4 Ga. From a population of over 10,000
        Jack Hills zircons, we identified one >3.8-Ga zircon that contains
        primary graphite inclusions. Here, we report carbon isotopic measurements on these inclusions in a concordant, 4.10 ± 0.01-Ga
        zircon. We interpret these inclusions as primary due to their enclosure
        in a crack-free host as shown by transmission X-ray microscopy
        and their crystal habit. Their δ13CPDB of −24 ± 5‰ is consistent with
        a biogenic origin and may be evidence that a terrestrial biosphere
        had emerged by 4.1 Ga, or ∼300 My earlier than has been previously
        proposed.” More here –
        http://www.pnas.org/content/112/47/14518.full.pdf

    • This, from the ABC, gives more information: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/02/24/3950076.htm

      Ancient zircon crystals discovered in Western Australia have been positively dated to 4.374 billion years, confirming their place as the oldest piece of Earth ever found, according to a new study.

      The research reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, means Earth began forming a crust far sooner than previously thought, following the giant impact event which created the Earth-Moon system 4.5 billion years ago.

      “That age is 300 million years older than the oldest previously dated age [of other crystals], and only 100 million years after the magma ocean,” says the study’s lead author Professor John Valley of theUniversity of Wisconsin.

      “This is when Earth started making protocontinental crust, which is chemically differentiated from the mantle. The chemical evidence from the zircons is a good fit for what we call intermediate composition … halfway between granite and basalt.”

      More … http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/02/24/3950076.htm

    • Peter Lang,

      I like things like this (from one of the links in your story) –

      “The Jack Hills quartz pebble conglomerate itself is not all that old (3.3 to 3.7 b.y.), but it is made up of fragments from some very old rocks that either don’t exist any more, or haven’t yet been found.”

      3.3 to 3.7 billion years old – but not all that old by comparison. Contrast climatological assertions based on 30 or 50 or even 500 years!

      And geologists still admit that the science is not settled – even with a few billion years of history as a guide! Maybe they should take a bit of advice from climatologists on jumping to baseless conclusions.

      Cheers.

      • Mike Flynn – meet the Ediacarans, your 565 million year old ancestors
        http://austhrutime.com/ediacaran_fauna.htm

      • Peter Lang,

        Thanks for the link. It’s nice to read about real science for a change.

        Happy New Year!

        Cheers.

      • Thus when geologists speak of something be “sudden” or “catastrophic” like ice sheet “collapse” they may not be speaking in internet time but in geologic time….

      • Craig Loehle,

        You wrote –

        “Thus when geologists speak of something be “sudden” or “catastrophic” like ice sheet “collapse” they may not be speaking in internet time but in geologic time….”

        On the other hand, they may be talking about the time that events like the Younger Dryas, and similar, took to occur. So your “may not” is true but completely meaningless. Ah, Warmism. Deny, divert, confuse.

        But just in case I’m wrong, show me where a geologist (not a climatologist, of course), talking of something being sudden in relation to ice sheet collapse, is referring to geologic time. You might like to define geologic time, in scientific (not climatological) terms. A million years? A billion? A couple of hundred, or less?

        Wriggly, wriggly, Warmist Worm. Deny. Divert. Confuse.

        How’s the CO2 heating effect going? Or is that irrelevant too?

        Cheers.

      • Mike Flynn,

        You ask “please define ‘geologic time’.

        Well it depends. Here is Chapter 15 from the Geology of Ireland. It deals with “Cenozoic: Tertiary and Quaternary (until 11,700 years before 2000)

        Of particular interest is Figure 15:21. It shows rapid, abrupt climate changes from near glacial temperatures to near current temperatures in 7 years (14,600 years ago) and 9 years (11, 600 years ago). The figure caption says:

        Figure 15.21 The stable isotope record (∂18O) from the GRIP ice core (histogram) compared to the record of N.pachyderma a
        planktonic foraminiferan whose presence indicates cold sea temperatures) from ocean sediments (dotted line). High concentrations
        of IRD from the Troll 8903 core are marked with arrows. After Haflidason et al. (1995). The transition times for critical
        lengths of the core were calculated from the sediment accumulation rates by the authors and these gave the following results:
        Transition A: 9 years; Transition B: 25 years; and Transition C: 7 years. Such rapid transitions have been corroborated from the
        recent NGRIP ice core data.

        It’s on p391. Do have a look.

        Other figures and text nearby show that life loved warming and thrived during the warming periods.

        Conclusion: Warming is good.

      • Conclusion: geologic time is anything from minutes, (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, land slides, tsunamis, deep sea turbidity slides, meteor impacts) to billions of years.

      • Peter Lang,

        But, but . . .

        Climatologists know everything, don’t they? Geologic time is . . is . . . , well, anything a climatologist wants it to be. If you say short, it’s long. If you say long, it’s short. Time is time, in my view.

        A Warmist Wonderment, is what geologic time is.

        I’m with you, warm good. Cold bad.

        Cheers.

    • I vote fer the zircon discovery, gittin’ down ter bed_rock
      science.

      ‘The age confirmation closes the gap between the Moon-
      generating impact, and the formation of Earth’s crust,
      according to Professor Samuel Bowring of the
      Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

      Bowring, who wrote an accompanying opinion piece on
      the research, believes the findings indicate Earth’s water
      didn’t need to come from asteroids, during a period known
      as the late heavy bombardment 3.9 billion years ago.

      Instead, it suggests water was present in the liquid magma
      ocean that formed the zircon crystals.

      “We’ll never know how much water there really was, but
      the simplest interpretation of those zircons coming from
      granitic rocks, is that we had a hydrous planet right from
      the very beginning,” says Bowring.’

      • Beth,

        I learnt that the planets water came from degassing of the mantle in 1966. Green and Ringwood, of ANU Research School of Earth Sciences, are credited with having first explained what is now considered the accepted theory of the formation of the planet. They were rewarded by being one of the few scientists who were given some of the moon rocks from the first moon landing to do research on. One of the samples is on display at the Tidbinbilla Tracking station outside Canberra (next time you come to Canberra, I’ll take you there, and show you the dams I build in my early career). Green and Ringwood went on to invent Synroc, the method of nuclear waste disposal. As you as a serf would recognise, they learnt everything from humble me.

      • Thank you, Peter, an epic invite!

  10. The articles listing the top climate stories tell the tale of a slow-mo science and a gridlocked public policy debate: my guess is that none of the items on those lists will be remembered even ten years from now.

    The story of climate in 2015 is that nothing big happened.

    But the two bickering sides in the policy debate had fun (lots of name-calling), so perhaps the year was not wasted. Neither seems especially interested in finding a way to break the jam.

    • Editor, I tend to agree politically.
      Meanwhile, Ma Nature is weighing in. She will eventully break the political logjam. Big time. My opinion is that will result in a cleansing flood, no different than spring melt on the Wisconsin and Missouri rivers feeding the Mississippi. Sweeping away a lot of pseudoscience, renewable nonsense, and unconstitutional regulation.

      • Rud,

        I agree. Either way this ends, I expect the social and political consequences will be large.

        Climate scientists have bet big on a catastrophic outcome arriving soon. As has the Left. They might find the losses tough to take, should the weather disappoint them.

        Ditto for the Right, should a climate catastrophe arrive.

        Perhaps they should look for ways to find common ground or break the policy gridlock, even if it means coloring outside the lines.

      • Climate scientists have bet big on a catastrophic outcome arriving soon.

        Rubbish. Climate scientists are studying our climate; past, present, future and presenting possible outcomes that depend on what pathways we might follow in the future. Maybe one stumbling block to breaking the jam is those who continually misrepresent others?

      • Given the demographics of the opposing beliefs, I do not see it ending. Rather it may become a permanent political stalemate, like gun control. Environmental impact assessment (which this issue is) is so nebulous scientifically that it may never be resolved.

        Fracking may well take over as the new green battleground. See
        http://www.psr.org/resources/fracking-compendium.html?referrer=http://www.psr.org/?referrer=https://www.google.com/
        in the style of the IPCC. Anti-fracking promotes renewables too.

      • ATTP,

        You wrote –

        “Rubbish. Climate scientists are studying our climate; past, present, future and presenting possible outcomes that depend on what pathways we might follow in the future.”

        You can’t even define climate, apart from saying it is the average of weather. To claim this is science is the operation of a weak mind. To claim that climate scientists study the future climate, as you do, is to venture into the realms of fantasy.

        Study the future? Surely you jest! Even fortune tellers draw the line at promoting such fraudulent claims. Any reasonable, rational person knows it is impossible to study that which has not yet occurred.

        But of course, Warmists are neither reasonable nor rational. Denying reality, they believe they can escry the future by adjusting past weather.

        There’s physics, and then there’s Warmist fantasy – take your choice.

        Cheers.

      • ATTP, I thought about your statement here : “Climate scientists are studying our climate; past, present, future and presenting possible outcomes that depend on what pathways we might follow in the future.”

        The first part seems accurate to me as I looked up Climate Science so to speak. This definition is from wiki: “Climatology (from Greek κλίμα, klima, “place, zone”; and -λογία, -logia) or climate science is the study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time.[1] This modern field of study is regarded as a branch of the atmospheric sciences and a subfield of physical geography, which is one of the Earth sciences. Climatology now includes aspects of oceanography and biogeochemistry. Basic knowledge of climate can be used within shorter term weather forecasting using analog techniques such as the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the Northern Annualar Mode (NAM) which is also known as the Arctic oscillation (AO), the Northern Pacific (NP) Index, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). Climate models are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the weather and climate system to projections of future climate.”

        The second part “presenting possible outcomes that depend on what pathways we might follow” made me wonder. Now that is plural and I take it to mean you are talking about the models. A simplistic view of this would be that specifically CO2 is suppose to warm the atmosphere in a quantitative measure and depending on how much we have already released and will continue to release into the atmosphere we will have a net (or gross) rise in temperature. To me that differs significantly from wiki that says: “Climate models are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the weather and climate system to projections of future climate.” Of course I’m pointing to “outcomes that depend on what pathways we follow” in your definition vs what they say is the definition. Now I could say Oh you naughty boy that’s advocacy and just point out you shouldn’t say that anymore, but we all know that is very true especially as I pointed out in my simplistic view the models are about CO2 and warming. We don’t see, for example, models projected way into the future showing how much CO2 might be needed (or some other measure) to prevent an ice age due to Milankovitch cycles. To be fair you could argue that “outcomes that depend on what pathways we follow” is simply projections but I think that is the crux of what Editor is pointing out. I agree with your rebuke of him about quoting, however He says; “Climate scientists have bet big on a catastrophic outcome arriving soon.” It seems to me you are talking about the same thing he looks at it as a big bet you look at as pathway projections. If the models prove to be wrong then the hypothesis is ready for the dustbin or needs readjusting and that is the bet. Their ‘bet’ or ‘pathway’ could be either right or wrong. How is bet and pathway different?

      • I somehow missed the entire quote:
        “Climatology (from Greek κλίμα, klima, “place, zone”; and -λογία, -logia) or climate science is the study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time.[1] This modern field of study is regarded as a branch of the atmospheric sciences and a subfield of physical geography, which is one of the Earth sciences. Climatology now includes aspects of oceanography and biogeochemistry. Basic knowledge of climate can be used within shorter term weather forecasting using analog techniques such as the El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the Northern Annualar Mode (NAM) which is also known as the Arctic oscillation (AO), the Northern Pacific (NP) Index, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). Climate models are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the weather and climate system to projections of future climate.

      • ATTP: “Climate scientists are studying our climate; past, present, future and presenting possible outcomes that depend on what pathways we might follow in the future”

        Always the unintentional humor from ATTP! As if anyone believes that describes the involvement of climate scientists (as a group) in the public policy debate about climate change.

        A simple thought experiment illustrates the stakes for climate science as an institution: consider a scenario where we implement no public policy measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions AND by 2030 we get no substantial adverse climate change. How will the public look back on the statements of 1988-2015 by climate scientists in the policy debate? How will people regard all those well-publicized confident predictions of catastrophic outcomes if we do nothing (here are nine such studies published in 2015)?

      • Fabius,

        Always the unintentional humor from ATTP! As if anyone believes that describes the involvement of climate scientists (as a group) in the public policy debate about climate change.

        And once again you go from climate scientists to the public policy debate. It’s not all about the public policy debate. There are very many climate scientists who are not involved in the public policy debate and who are simply doing what might reasonably described as climate science.

        consider a scenario where we implement no public policy measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions AND by 2030 we get no substantial adverse climate change

        Why don’t we start by considering a scenario where you first indicate that you understand the concept of a probability distribution function. I think it’s a highly unrealistic scenario, but it might be possible. I note you seem to have ignored my point about you misrepresenting what others have said.

      • Ken Rice says:

        ” There are very many climate scientists who are not involved in the public policy debate and who are simply doing what might reasonably described as climate science. ”

        Accepted.

        Now what about those scientists who are very much involved in the public debate? Or the politicians who echo the talking points (clichés would be more accurate) of certain climate scientists? Or the climate scientist wanna be’s (like our buddy Scooter Nuccitelli or his running mate John Cook)? Or the folks like Peter Glieck, Stephen Lewandowski, Josh Halprin and yourself who love inserting yourself in the debate to let everyone who do not agree with the consensus messaging know we are all in denial?

        Where is the acknowledgment that these people do in fact exist and clearly have no issue with ignoring or circumventing good scientific process?

  11. Top ‘climate science’ story depends on how one defines ‘climate science’.
    On the one hand, we have Karl following in the tradition of Mann.
    On the other hand, we have Zwally interpreting IceSat for Antarctica, accompanied by Mcintyre’s demonstration that previous Antarctic GRACE was flawed by spurious GIA estimates.
    Been a good year for skeptics, overall.

  12. We should wait til 2016 to make any climate or weather lists, as this last week of weather is unusual to say the least.

    St Louis will experience the 2nd worst flood of record.

    Usually don’t get these kinds of deluges in December.

    • This is the sort of drivel that makes me wonder how someone can consider themselves a scientist.

      Since when is an unusual week of weather considered to be evidence of climate change?

      When you say usually, what is that referring to exactly? In your memory? And if so, what is the method used for calibrating that memory?

      And I guess I missed the rule change where certain people determined that weather is climate afterall, after being very vocal in saying a cold snowy winter or two is not evidence against global warming. Must have been around the time they starting saying that global warming can lead to record cold and snow. You know, that polar vortex thingy.

    • Floods in the UK and South America, fires in Australia, all ongoing too.

      • And we get the BBC news telling us that the heavy rains we’re having is because warmer air holds more water.
        That being the case, heaven help us when summer comes around.

      • Warm oceans that are not frozen provide more moisture for rain and snow. The air can only hold so much moisture, but there is no known limit on how much moisture can pass through from warm oceans to provide moisture for rain and snow.

  13. Please contact me as soon as you can, I have an important business proposal to make regarding your blog.

    • Derin Cag,

      I am the agent. Send me a $ million to start negotiations.

    • Derin Cag,

      Peter Lang is an impostor. Any important business proposals need to go through me. How much are you offering? Please send me your bank account details and password to demonstrate good faith.

      I remain, sir,

      Your humble and obedient servant,

      Mike Flynn.

  14. stevenreincarnated

    I think the biggest climate science news story is the shifting of the consensus view towards some sort of recovery in the Arctic. The consensus has built a huge sandcastle up there. Hey, it looked good while it lasted.

    I think the biggest climate political news is how the Paris agreement was treated. It reminds me of the times we have decided to just declare victory and go home.

  15. My nominee: Increased Carbon Dioxide Causes Cooling in Antarctica.

    Not because this wasn’t known, but it wasn’t, so far as I know, published before.

    Does this also explain cooling ( as per UAH-LT MSU ) in other glaciated high terrain ( Greenland & the Himalayas )? Does this ( more simply ) explain Hansen’s Rube Goldberg disaster story? Increase in Antarctic Sea Ice? Cooling Southern Ocean?

    • After reading the paper I have a few concerns:
      -It makes the same statement (that Antarctica is colder than the stratosphere) like ten or fifteen times.
      -If it’s really that simple, how come no one has published this before?
      -East Antarctica holds 80-85% of the world’s ice. If true, this paper basically puts the kibosh on the most aggressive sea level rise scenarios – which aren’t talked about much in the blogs, but which do make it into headlines and documentaries.

      Thus it seems it would have enormous relevance for the climate debate, but why isn’t anyone talking about it?

      More specifically number of papers have speculated (some would say fantasized) with what would happen to Antarctica in case temps went up 2ºC, or in case we burnt all fossil fuels tomorrow, or whatever other scenario. These papers are usually paywalled so I haven’t read them – but it seems the CO2-cools-East-Antarctica paper would make them… wrong? Pointless?
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v526/n7573/full/nature15706.html
      http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/8/e1500589
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v526/n7573/full/526327a.html

      There was also the rejected Hansen paper along the same lines.

      I guess my opinion on radiative physics doesn’t count much… so if an expert can comment it would be greatly welcome.

      • -It makes the same statement (that Antarctica is colder than the stratosphere) like ten or fifteen times.
        -If it’s really that simple, how come no one has published this before?

        Perhaps because it is simple. But maybe the best science is?

        It does seem contravert the ‘ice-at-risk’ meme, at least for the higher elevations.

        But there are questions. Cooling at the higher elevations would seem to mean more cascading cold air masses from the high terrain, but there is warming at the sea level stations. Then again, the sea level stations are by and large around the coast, and subject to latent heat exchanges.

  16. Top science story of 2015: Climate, it happens…

  17. Pope Francis encyclical earlier this year sure put climate at the top of his list… funny (NOT) he didn’t mention it in his holiday / Christmas address !!!

    re scientists think that the emissions of Antarctic emissions of methane, my thinking is if this would have resulted in significant greenhouse gas warming then the ACTUAL climate sensitivity to manmade fossil fuel based CO2 related warming during this period applying this correction would be EVEN SMALLER than that was determined e.g., by Lewis and Curry 1.3-1.5oC for doubling of CO2 which is of course is much smaller than the 3oC (1.5-4.5oC range) claimed by IPCC. Is my thinking correct? How significant was the Antarctic effect that is now being referenced.

  18. JC reflections

    ”Your choice for top climate SCIENCE story of the year?”

    My choice: ” Nearly 200 nations agreed to limit their carbon emissions in order to prevent significant global warming later this century. ” This is one of the most unscientific decisions what politicians can make. My forecast is that during some coming years even institutional scientists will be forced to confess that the assessments of IPCC on anthropogenic warming are totally wrong.

    As far as I am aware the target of the conference in Paris to cut anthropogenic CO2 emissions, in order to limit warming of climate to 2-1,5C, has clearly resulted from political and ideological endeavours. There is no valid, scientific bases. It bases only on hypothetical results of climate models adopted by IPCC, which have no due evidence in reality.

    Judith Curry, you et al. have proved that using empiric observations on temperature measurements instead of the hypothetic results of climate models makes the climate sensitivity drop about fifty per cent. Already this means that there is no need to cut anthropogenic CO2 emissions to reach the target of Paris.

    In addition, Scafetta and Lindzen present still lower climate sensitivities, and Cripwell, Arrak and Wojick have expressed that the climate sensitivity is so minimal that you can not distinguish it from zero.

    In my comment https://judithcurry.com/2011/08/04/carbon-cycle-questions/#comment-198992 there have been proved that CO2 content in atmosphere follows temperature and not vice versa. Historically longer trends of CO2 changes in atmosphere have been caused by changes of global temperatures: according to geologic observations during last 100 million years, in 10 million years trends, changes of atmospheric CO2 contents have followed global temperature changes; during glasials and interglasials CO2 content in atmosphere have followed global temperature changes; in my comment above I have proved that even the last century CO2 content in atmosphere has, in decadal trends, followed global temperature and not vice versa; and the last about 18 years prove that an increase of CO2 content in atmosphere has no distinguishable influence on global warming.

    In my comment above you can also find that in the recent total increase of CO2 content in atmosphere the share of anthropogenic emissions has been only about 4 % CO2 at the most.

    In my comment above you can further find that I rely on Bob Tisdale’s openminded examinations on sea surface temperatures of the last century. I myself have interpreted results of him in order to solve the mechanism of recent increase on CO2 content in atmosphere:

    ‘Bob Tisdale presents in his link http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/multidecadal-changes-in-sea-surface-temperature :

    ”Figure 15 compares annual Global SST anomalies to the average NINO3.4 SST anomalies for those three periods. Global SST anomalies rose from 1910 to 1944 because El Niño events dominated, and because the SST anomaly patterns (caused by the changes in atmospheric circulation) associated with El Niño events persisted. Because La Niña events dominated from 1945 to 1975, and because the SST anomaly patterns associated with La Niña events persisted, Global SST anomalies dropped. And Global SST anomalies rose again from 1976 to 2009 because El Niño events dominated, and because the SST anomaly patterns associated with El Niño events persisted”

    When interpreting Tisdale’s claim on Global SST anomalies and on NINO3,4 SST anomalies during 1976-2009 you can find that during the same time period there has been no essential rising or sinking trend on the tropical sea surface temperatures. Instead, the global mean sea surface temperature has had a continuous trend of warming. What is the meaning of this? It means that the global sea surface temperatures used by Endersbee in his calculations have been controlled by warming of the sea surface waters outside the tropical sea surface i.e. mainly the warming of the sea surface waters of higher latitudes where the sea surface CO2 sinks are. As a consequence, the partial pressure of CO2 has been rising in these as sinks acting surface waters, which has been making CO2 absorption from the atmosphere to the sea surface sinks become slower. Because of that, the CO2 content in the atmosphere has been increasing. It means that more CO2 from the total CO2 emissions to the atmosphere has remained in the atmosphere to increase its CO2 content, in order to reach a new dynamic balance between CO2 emissions and absorptions. As the warming of oceans is the dominating reason for the increased content of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and as nowadays the human yearly portion ( about 8 GtC CO2) of the all yearly CO2 emissions ( little over 200 GtC CO2) to the atmosphere is about 4 %, the human role on the recent yearly increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is also about 4 %. For instance when CO2 content in the atmosphere increases 2 ppm per year, the human portion of that is only about 0.08 ppm.

    The same principle based on Bob Tisdale’s link above can be used to explain Ernst-Georg Beck’s claims on the rise of CO2 content during the first part of 20th century, including the drop of the CO2 content during the La Niña dominated years 1945-1975. Being direct measurements, the CO2 contents in the atmosphere used by Beck are accurate enough for those purposes. Whereas the ice core proxy values of carbon dioxide content used by IPCC are incompatible with any one of direct measured values, because they are mean values of some centuries, even at their best.’

    As a summary the next conclusion proves that the actions agreed in the Paris conference to cut anthropogenic CO2 emissions have no distinguishable influence on global warming:

    A. There is no evidence according which anthropogenic CO2 emission could cause global warming.

    B. Instead there are plenty of proofs according which anthropogenic emissions to atmosphere do not cause any distinguishable global warming, for instance:

    1. There is known only natural global warming

    2. Historically increasing trends of CO2 content in atmosphere have always followed warming and not vice versa.

    3. During the recent nearly two decades the climate temperature has not increased even though the CO2 content in atmosphere has mildly accelerating increased.

    4. All CO2 emissions from sources to atmosphere and all CO2 absorptions from atmosphere to sinks together determine the CO2 content in atmosphere. Recently CO2 content in atmosphere has increased about 2 ppm a year. The anthropogenic share in this total increase is only about 4 % i.e. minimal, which means that anthropogenic CO2 emissions do not dominate the increase of CO2 content in atmosphere.

  19. Great pictures! “Large Magellanic Cloud” isn’t that a van Gogh?
    and the weevil, which committee does he sit on?

  20. Regarding the oil spill cleanup method, I submitted a method to easily capture and recover the vast majority of the oil during the gulf spill, using a simple to implement process. I sent it to the coast guard, the state governor, and the white house. I was at NASA at the time, and tried to get support through NASA to get the process out. I was ignored on all sides. My conclusion was that the fix is in on this and most problems. I am including the writeup for your evaluation: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cVFurqCxQgo64DzzSn0hcKYlsjvjLUZG5Dq5bid9BGE/edit?usp=sharing
    If anyone can find why this would not work, please respond.

  21. Excuse the post I just made. It was for the previous entry (week in review).

    • Not an uncommon problem posting in the wrong posted “topic”. Done it myself. Week-in-reviews need to have which week is being reviewed in the main listing. Lots of “week-in-reviews”: 52 weeks and several subposting topics. Of course, this heading is “year-in-review-top-science-stories”.

  22. For too many people, this will be the top story. At least there are some commentators on CNBC who are fighting the good fight. From the article:

    Call it the Year of Living Warmly.

    It’ll be a few more days before it’s official, but 2015 will go down in the record books as the warmest year since those books were first kept 135 years ago.

    In parts of the U.S., this year will be remembered for unusually warm weather when the season typically brings snow and ice. On much of the East Coast, December has felt like spring, complete with early blooming flowers and sprouting daffodils.

    But the warming trend also has brought more extreme weather in other parts of the country, with severe storms causing tornadoes across the Midwest and snowstorms in Texas and New Mexico.

    Read MoreScenes from the severe holiday storms

    Last month brought the highest monthly temperature, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the average global surface temperature running 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 135-year average.

    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/28/feeling-a-little-warm-this-year-2015-will-set-a-record.html

  23. I’m going to tentatively pick Watts et al., 2015 story as the top climate science story. I reserve the right to withdraw if the code and data aren’t made available when the full paper is published.

  24. I am partial to studies that seek to explain the bases of multidecadal climate phenomena. One from this year is the Marcus Length of Day study.

    Natural climate variability with a cycle on the same order as the human lifetime is one of the most convenient coincidental gifts that the peddlers of climate science fraud might have been given.

  25. From the article:
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcers helped convict 185 Americans of environmental crimes this year, with each of these eco-convicts getting sentenced to eight months in prison on average for crimes ranging from biofuel fraud to illegally removing asbestos.

    EPA enforcement data for 2015 shows the agency opened 213 environmental cases which resulted in 185 people convicted and sentenced to 129 years in prison. EPA has been opening fewer cases in recent years to focus more on “high impact” cases.

    “The focus on high impact more complex cases results in fewer investigations overall,” EPA notes in its presentation showing agency enforcement activities for the year. EPA says its criminal enforcement focuses “on complex cases that involve a serious threat to human health and the environment or that undermine program integrity.”
    Every year, EPA agents help put dozens of Americans in prison for breaking U.S. environmental laws. Environmental crimes range from spilling coal ash into public waterways, to pretending to produce biofuels, to illegally cleaning up asbestos in buildings.

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/12/28/epa-sends-185-to-jail-over-environmental-crimes/

  26. Comment that is just a quote about the EPA is in moderation.

  27. “Your choice for top climate SCIENCE story of the year?’

    Pass.

  28. Year in review – top science stories
    There were way too many stories about sensitivity to CO2 and not near enough stories about Natural Variability,

    • I try not to be too sensitive about CO2. I think it’s lovely stuff. I breathe it out, and plants eat it. Then I eat the plants, or what they get eaten by. Then I breathe out more CO2.

      Seems like a win-win situation to me!

      Cheers.

      • Mike Flynn,

        I’ve been laughing and chuckling ever since you posted your comment about Peter Lang is an I poster and you are the real agent. I didn’t post a comment there because I was hoping there’d be more comments and I didn’t want to spoil further discussion.

        I love the way Judith allows humour on CE threads rather than banning O/T comments.

        Cheers

      • Peter Lang,

        I was hoping you’d be amused. I think a few people have a somewhat small bump of amusement, (phrenologically speaking), so I attempt to stimulate it, given half a chance.

        I agree with you about Judith allowing humour, although often others think I’m being serious when I’m joking, and vice versa.

        Please fell free to poke fun at me any time – I deserve it! In the meantime, have a very Happy and wonderfully Prosperous New Year!

        Cheers.

      • Yep. I have noticed that a little too much ‘humour’ and people get the impression that you are not serious.

  29. Wriggly, wriggly, Warmist Worm. Deny. Divert. Confuse.

    Wow well done … you articulated what it feels like very well.
    Definitely a top phrase of 2015.
    Would love to see a cartoonist develop the warmist worm mascot ???

  30. This paper is interesting. Smith et al 2015 questions whether models are overestimating the meltwater release from the Greenland Ice Sheet.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4313838/

  31. A second paper with implications for the Arctic is Yeager et al 2015, entitled “Predicted slowdown in the rate of Atlantic sea ice loss.”
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL065364/full

  32. Under the category of “A story that never will be a story” we have the Sydney tidal gauge record from NOAA that shows a trend from 1886 with a rise of .65mm/yr with no acceleration depicted at all since 1993 even though the satellite data show 3.2mm/yr. With no apparent isostatic rebound forces at work, the obvious question is why.
    http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_global_station.htm?stnid=680-140

  33. F. Laliberte et al: “Constrained work output of the moist atmospheric heat engine in a warming climate”, Science, 30 Jan 2015, vol 347, p 540 – 543.

  34. ““Constrained work output of the moist atmospheric heat engine in a warming climate”, ”

    Ah, a reference to the evaporative cooled, water/ice controlled, heat engine that Climate really is at last in the Literature.

  35. One of the top stories on ResearchGate this past year was entitled “Stalin’s science. It explained the emergence of lock-step consensus science after WWII.

  36. richardswarthout

    My vote for top story of the last half century: the slow discovery of the mind. There is much written on the subject and it helps to understand why people think what they think.

    Richard

  37. From the article:

    Kansai Electric, the utility most dependent on nuclear power before the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, will begin fueling Takahama No. 3 on Friday, according to a statement released on its website. The company aims to restart the unit in late January or February, according to a presentation last month. It is slated to be the third Japanese reactor to restart under post-Fukushima safety rules.

    Profit Boost
    Firing up both units will boost Kansai Electric’s profits by as much as 12.5 billion yen ($104 million) a month, according to Syusaku Nishikawa, a Tokyo-based analyst at Daiwa Securities Co. The two reactors at the Takahama facility, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Kyoto, were commissioned in 1985 and have a combined capacity of 1,740 megawatts.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-24/japan-nuclear-restart-on-track-after-kansai-electric-court-win

  38. Politicus USA
    Real Liberal Politics
    The Top Climate Stories Of 2015 – And Why They Matter
    http://www.politicususa.com/2015/12/29/pope-president-paris-people-top-climate-stories-2015.html

    Liberalism: The age of impassioned ignorance
    http://personalliberty.com/liberalism-age-impassioned-ignorance/

  39. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #208 | Watts Up With That?