Week in review – science & policy edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

New study finds most of East ice sheet should remain stable. [link]

Linking global temperature and Arctic sea ice changes [link]

On the possible contribution of natural climatic fluctuations to the global warming of the last 135 years [link]  Punchline: half

Identification of the driving forces of climate change using the longest instrumental temperature record [link] Punchline: solar, El Nino

An astonishing Antarctic ice core could give us new insights into the Earth’s atmosphere from 2,700,000 years ago: [link]

Bias in ground-truths can lead to an overestimation of albedo by up to 10%, a study finds. [link]

Observations, Reanalyses and the Elusive Absolute Global Mean Temperature [link]

Linking the Tropical N Hemisphere Pattern to the Pacific Warm Blob and Atlantic Cold Blob [link]

On the inherent predictability of precipitation across the United States [link]

China: Warm periods in the 20th century are not unprecedented during the last 2,000 years [link]

Scientists have discovered 91 more volcanoes lurking beneath the melting West Antarctic Ice Sheet. [link]

Ocean-induced melt beneath Petermann Glacier Ice Shelf in Northwestern Greenland [link]

Evidence for ice-ocean albedo feedback in the Arctic Ocean shifting to a seasonal ice zone [link]

Internal and external forcing of multidecadal Atlantic climate variability over the past 1200 years [link]

Contribution to sea level rise from the melting of ice sheets & glaciers has increased significantly in last 10 yrs [link]

Excellent article: Peter Bauer explains past, present and future of climate modeling towards in a European setting [link]

Connecting Tropical Climate Change with Southern Ocean Heat Uptake [link]

Remote control of the North Atlantic Oscillation predictability via the stratosphere [link]

Impact of Volcanic Aerosols on Stratospheric Ozone Recovery [link]

Space and time variability of the Southern Ocean carbon budget [link]

Three-dimensional Southern Ocean upwelling pathways [link]

Contributions of climate feedbacks to changes in atmospheric circulation [link]

Dodgy greenhouse gas data threatens Paris accord [link]

Atmospheric circulation and hydroclimate impacts of alternative warming scenarios for the Eocene [link]

Proistosescu and Huybers followup:  Sensible questions on climate sensitivity [link]

Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays [link]

Draft IPCC  Working Group I AR6 outline submitted to the Plenary for consideration. Outline and background info: [link]

Impacts and adaptation

New global analysis shows that urban floods are intensifying, countryside drying up [link]

‘s inferno: how will the world’s hottest city survive climate change? [link]

Long-term trends in daily temperature extremes in Iraq [link]

NE U.S. at particular risk for effects of climate hazards. [link]

Global Warming Reality Check: India’s Foodgrain Output Up 5-Fold In 60 Years [link]

Uncertainty of climate change impacts on long-term hydropower generation—case of Ecuador [link]

The Radical Plan to Cool Down Los Angeles as the World Heats Up [link]

It wasn’t Florida’s imagination–sea level rise really did get worse recently. [link]

Potential to save lives with heat warning forecasts in Bangladesh: [link]

Social, hydro-ecological and climatic change in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh [link]

From Basket Case to Test Case: Bangladesh as a “Weak Power” Climate Leader [link]

How climate change impacted Viking societies [link]

Pielke Jr: ‘World is presently in an era of unusually low weather disasters’ [link]

Social science & policy

“What Are Oceans Laws Trying to Protect?”[link]

An alternative framework for negotiating climate policies [link]

This is a solid analysis of the uber-politicization of the climate issue in the US. [link]

Decision support method for GHG emission management in industries [link]

Extreme insurance and the dynamics of risk [link]

About science

Tracing the links between basic research and real-world applications [link]

How far should you go to secure academic impact in policy making? [link]


102 responses to “Week in review – science & policy edition

  1. Pingback: Week in review – science & policy edition – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. Judith ==> Week In Review is one of my favorite Climate Etc features. always look forward to it — always find something interesting I had missed on my own. Thank you.

  3. Why did it take a student with a passion for volcanoes to find evidence that West Antarctica might have 3 times the number of volcanoes previously known? The establishment scientists should have been all over that puppy by devoting resources to find out the facts long ago. Any other science would have automatically asked the question “How many volcanoes are there?”, for no other reason than scientific curiosity. But the disincentives are endemic in this put on field, sorry excuse for science.

    • cerescokid, Struggling to explain. Eventually you would think scientists would be embarrassed in light of so much ignorance:


      ordvic | August 5, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Reply

      Struggling to explain

      The Swiss online Baseler Zeitung (BAZ) here reports: “In Greenland July this year has been the coldest ever. That has left climate catastrophists struggling to explain it.”

      Citing the Danish Meteorological Institute, the BAZ comments that the -33°C reading earlier this month was “the coldest July temperature ever recorded in the northern hemisphere“, smashing the previous record of 30.7°C.

      ordvic | August 5, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Reply

      I don’t know why they are struggling:


      The Little Ice Age_ by Brian Fagan

      “Although the causes of the Little Ice Age are not completely understood, much of it had to do with the actions of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a “seesaw” of atmospheric pressure between a persistent high over the Azores and an equally prevalent low over Iceland. Using charts and maps, Fagan showed how the NAO governs the position and strength of the North Atlantic storm track and thus Europe’s rainfall. The NAO index shows the constant shifts in the oscillation between these two areas, with a high NAO index indicating low pressure around Iceland and high pressure in the Azores, a condition producing westerly winds, powerful storms, more summer rains, mild winters, and dry conditions in southern Europe. A low NAO index signaled high pressure around Iceland, low pressure in the Azores, weaker westerlies, much colder winters, with cold air flowing from the north and east. The exact reasons for the shifts in the NAO result from a complex interaction between sea-surface temperatures, the Gulf Stream, distribution of sea ice, and solar energy output. Additionally, several massive volcanic eruptions had an effect on the climate of the time, notably Soufriere on Saint Vincent in the Caribbean in 1812, Mayon in the Philippines in 1814, and the titanic Tambora eruption in Indonesia in 1815 (the latter with one hundred times the ash output of Mount Saint Helens).”

    • Ceresco kid

      I remember posting here some 5 years ago that during a dinner at Cambridge uNiversity a leading volcanologist told me there were 10000 more underwater volcanoes than previously thought, many of them in the Antarctic. So the knowledge was there.

      I guess it takes a long time to get funding, carry out research and then get a paper published.

      Presumably over the next few years many other underwater volcanoes will be scientifically identified.


    • Considering the oceans cover 2/3 of the planet we are pretty ignorant about what’s down there. I think the abyssal plains cover more than 50% of the Earth’s surface. They are the flattest, smoothest and least explored regions on Earth. Makes you wonder if instead of spending billions of dollars to send humans to explore Mars we should finish understanding the deep ocean that might yield more near term benefits. The whole space program is a outgrowth of the military so it benefits from dual use research while oceanographic research falls mostly under pure research and is much harder to find funding for.

      I did see a research paper recently that made a important discovery about the complexity of genome of microscopic organisms at different depths. This may help us understand why we have such large dead zones in the oceans. It may not be human pollution.

      Just below the depth of sunlit layer, the team observed a sharp transition in the microbial communities present. They reported that the fundamental building blocks of microbes, their genomes and proteins, changed drastically between depths of about 250-650 feet.
      “In surface waters, microbial genomes are much smaller, and their proteins contain less nitrogen — a logical adaptation in this nitrogen-starved environment,” said Daniel Mende, post-doctoral researcher at the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and lead author on the paper. “In deeper waters, between 400-650 feet, microbial genomes become much larger, and their proteins contain more nitrogen, in tandem with increasing nitrogen availability with depth.”

  4. “On the possible contribution of natural climatic fluctuations to the global warming of the last 135 years [link] Punchline: half”


    Punchline: the warming seen cannot be explained as “natural”
    Aside: there is a possibility based on statistical models, that 50% contribution from natural oscilations, cannot be ruled out. In short, they assumed that
    50% of the warming was forced, and then statistically demonstrated that the remaining 50% COULD HAVE been produced by “natural” ( that is, unexplainable) processes.

    it also could have been unicorns.

    The job of science of course is to open up our minds to these “other” potential causes. But it doesnt stop there. Its not enough to merely note that it COULD HAVE BEEN 50% natural, or that it could have unicorns. These types of arguments are EVERPRESENT. The always haunt every scientific explanation. it could have been something else. The next step, of course, is to precisely identify these “other causes” and then work to eliminate them them as explanations.

    • “Punchline: half”
      Seems to faintly echo the AR5 SPM:
      “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”

      But it comes from a dubious publisher.

      • IPCC really means 100%, with a very low probability tail extending to 51%. Which is where the half comes from.

      • Reading the paper they actually BUSTED the null hypothesis.
        They show that the increase in temperatures cannot be from natural causes. ( or rather that it has a very low probablity,( see also shuan lovejoy)

        That is the punchline.

      • Exactly. If you take the time to read the paper, you are entitled to your own punchline.

    • Steven Mosher: it also could have been unicorns.

      That is always your favorite hypothetical mechanism.

      A good explanation for the apparent 1,000 year periodicity in the temperature data has not yet been promoted and thoroughly substantiated, but no one other than yourself is suggesting unicorns.

      • could be leprachuans.

        You realize that appealing to “natural variation” as a cause ( confusing effect for cause) is actually more stupid than pointing at unicorns.

      • It could also be gorillagators. That’s a cross between a gorilla and an alligator. Happens more than you would think.

        Anyway, Paris is burning:

        ‘Dodgy’ greenhouse gas data threatens Paris accord

        “These flaws posed a bigger threat to the Paris climate agreement than US President Donald Trump’s intention to withdraw, researchers told BBC Radio 4’s Counting Carbon programme”

      • Steven Mosher: You realize that appealing to “natural variation” as a cause ( confusing effect for cause) is actually more stupid than pointing at unicorns.

        The identifier “natural variation” is merely shorthand for “the cause is something other than human intervention”. Where exactly in the chain of causation something like ENSO fits, as a result of what causes it or as a cause of what it produces, it’s “natural variation”.

        Is there better evidence for leprechauns causing global temperature fluctuations than there is for cosmic rays? If it were up to you, would there ever be speculation about so-far-incompletely-known causal mechanisms? Those are questions, and you usually eschew answering questions.

    • Their model allows 0.5 degree positive and negative perturbations every 500 years just from natural variability. This is not seen in any proxy global record and would dwarf anything the sun and volcanoes have been seen to do. Lovejoy, in a much better statistical approach, determines that solar and volcanic effects have a standard deviation of 0.2 degrees, so what we have now is five standard deviations and growing at about one more standard deviation per decade.

      • Statistical approaches assume falsely that solar effects are understood. Same for a host of other natural effects, from chaos to ocean circulation changes (which is a forcing).

        Ignoring known unknowns is one of the central fallacies of alarmist, basically an argument from deliberate ignorance. The CSSP starts off with it, saying in effect “We are sure it is due to humans and we cannot think of any alternative so it must be humans.”

        This is advocacy not science. It is exemplified in the CMIP modeling, where volcanoes and a tiny bit of direct solar variation are the only allowable natural factors. The so-called statistical approaches make the same basic fallacious assumptions.

      • Is the sun any stronger today than it was a century ago? No. So we can rule that one out as being a factor in the degree of warming since then. Next. Similar for volcanoes. Again, we have long-term observations for sunspots and volcanoes and you are just ignoring them. No models needed.

      • Stronger in what respect? The sun has many variable force like features that reachEarth, quite a few of which were unknown 100 years ago, hence unmeasured. Some were likely much stronger 100 years ago while others were much weaker, not that we know which. Nor do we know what difference these differences make as far as climate is concerned. This makes your statement epistemically wrong headed.

        Many of these unknowns are well known. This makes the models toy-like and unrealistic. The modelers say they only include those mechanisms that are well enough understood to model. Given the well known unknowns this immediately makes the models unrealistic, because it does not include them.

      • In your solar physics expertise, which of those would not be related to actual total solar irradiance cycles? Has anything been proposed that doesn’t strengthen when the sun does or vice versa? Or is this just more unicorns stuff at this point, which says it must be something other than the quantifiably massive CO2 forcing that we know has been added in the intervening period and which does fit the data?

    • May. Could; could or may.

      It was found however, that natural fluctuations of climate may appreciably contribute to the GW. The return pe- riod of climatic episodes with 0.5 ̊C warming during the 135 years (half of the observed GW) was less than 500 years. The result testifies that the role of ex- ternal factors (emission of greenhouse gases, solar activity etc.) in the GW could be less than often presumed.

      So yes, 110% could end up being 105%, or, it could end up being 120%.

      • JCH: May. Could; could or may.

        Among my favorite words, as in more than 50% or less than 50% of warming since 1885 may have been caused by the increase of CO2 concentration. If only James Hansen et al had used those words more frequently and prominently starting in the 1980s.

    • All of the warming can be explained by natural climatic fluctuations.

  5. Dr Roger Pielke Jr says that we have had a run of unusually good luck when it comes to climate disasters. He then says that because of the statistical phenomenon of Regression to the Mean, we must inevitably expect some really mean (pun) weather, to catch up. The history of Nature is full of examples of departures from the norm that never regressed to the previous mean. The underlying factors changed. Humans are taller today because of better nutrition. We’re not going to regress to three feet tall, unless nutrition changes. Methinks that the good Doctor is not talking with his scientific hat on.

    • It’s called “Gambler’s Fallacy”. It has recently cropped up in hurricane forecasting. We are due for some big ‘uns.

  6. Dr Curry, the link for “New global analysis shows that urban floods are intensifying” is not working.

  7. re: This is a solid analysis of the uber-politicization of the climate issue in the US.

    My take from this analysis is that the climate messengers have not yet reached a sufficient level of condescension for the likes of me to yield to their superiority.

    • Plus the debate was around long before the movie. But Gore was big then too. In 1999 I started the Climatechangedebate.org listserv, which is still quite active.

      Early on we featured the Gore-Unibomber quiz. This took 5 passages each from Gore’s “Earth in the Balance” and the “Unibomber manifesto” and challenged readers to tell them apart. Very few could. It was very popular.

      Given all the climate debate events in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I am pretty sure that a lot of people knew about it. But Gore has certainly played a large part in the politicization. That much is true.

  8. If cheating is a greater threat than Donald (according to the ever reliable BBC) we must be in a living catastrophe :

    Potent, climate-warming gases are being emitted into the atmosphere but are not being recorded in official inventories, a BBC investigation has found.

    Air monitors in Switzerland have detected large quantities of one gas coming from a location in Italy.

    However, the Italian submission to the UN records just a tiny amount of the substance being emitted.

    Levels of some emissions from India and China are so uncertain that experts say their records are plus or minus 100%.

    These flaws posed a bigger threat to the Paris climate agreement than US President Donald Trump’s intention to withdraw, researchers told BBC Radio 4’s Counting Carbon programme.

    Everyone knows the Donald is the greatest 21st century disaster!

    • … Donald is the greatest 21st century disaster!

      So you’re saying, no Nobel?

      • “Donald is the greatest 21st century disaster!”
        After he showed very limited understanding of our immigration and healthcare systems I am going to be very skeptical he’s smart enough to understand the long term effects of his actions and he will sign anything they put in front of him. When he issues orders sometimes they ignore him like his transgender military ban. Dangerous is not the first word that comes to mind.

      • Just imagine how silly it would have seemed at the time the global warming hoodwink was conceived to have named it ‘climate change’ instead. Bush didn’t fall for all the global warming alarmism nor did Trump.

  9. It’s the sun, stupid. We better renew our subscriptions to the Old Farmer’s Almanac before planting season.

  10. “So, without good data as a basis, Paris essentially collapses. It just becomes a talkfest without much progress.”

    In other words, George Bush was either a genius or the bravest man alive — we forget America’s ‘Tank Man’ — Bush stood up to the global warming hegemony, refusing to sign the Kyoto Agreement like the lone Chinaman in Tiananmen Square.

  11. “Internal and external forcing of multidecadal Atlantic climate variability over the past 1200 years [link]”

    Another fine example of the team ( briffa and osborne) Ignoring natural variation..


    hey wait! If two members of the orginal team actually look at natural variability, what do we make of the skeptical theory that warmists blame everything on C02?

    oh, busted.

    • Oh Mossshhher the once Great and Powerful, has it occurred to you that you damage your holy cause each time you post?

      • How is he damaging his cred by pointing out that the consensus team has actually been studying natural variability?

        Isn’t the skeptic position that natural climate variability hasn’t been studied enough?

      • How does one example of two members of the team looking at natural variability, through their little biased climate consensus eyeballs, bust the theory that the warmists blame everything on CO2?

      • That’s your theory that warmunists blame everything on CO2 and yes it’s busted.

      • That’s propitious. I was just thinking that it’s the CO2 monomania that gets them – can’t see anything else. I wouldn’t normally follow mosh threads – but wondered whether Bobby had at long odds said something interesting. I can call him Bobby – I am Bobby too. Naw.

    • Steven Mosher

      The next step, of course, is to precisely identify these “other causes”

      One of the linked papers above answers this. That climate oscillates from strong internal dynamics is so obvious that it’s embarrassing that we’re even discussing this question. BTW good to see Keith Briffa doing something much more useful than dendro proxies.


      Internal and external forcing of multidecadal Atlantic climate variability over the past 1,200 years
      Jianglin Wang, Bao Yang, Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist, Jürg Luterbacher, Timothy J. Osborn, Keith R. Briffa & Eduardo Zorita

      Nature Geoscience 10, 512–517 (2017) doi:10.1038/ngeo2962
      Received 31 January 2017 Accepted 24 April 2017 Published online 29 May 2017

      The North Atlantic experiences climate variability on multidecadal scales, which is sometimes referred to as Atlantic multidecadal variability. However, the relative contributions of external forcing such as changes in solar irradiance or volcanic activity and internal dynamics to these variations are unclear. Here we provide evidence for persistent summer Atlantic multidecadal variability from AD 800 to 2010 using a network of annually resolved terrestrial proxy records from the circum-North Atlantic region. We find that large volcanic eruptions and solar irradiance minima induce cool phases of Atlantic multidecadal variability and collectively explain about 30% of the variance in the reconstruction on timescales greater than 30 years. We are then able to isolate the internally generated component of Atlantic multidecadal variability, which we define as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. We find that the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation is the largest contributor to Atlantic multidecadal variability over the past 1,200 years. We also identify coherence between the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation and Northern Hemisphere temperature variations, leading us to conclude that the apparent link between Atlantic multidecadal variability and regional to hemispheric climate does not arise solely from a common response to external drivers, and may instead reflect dynamic processes.

  12. Identification of the driving forces of climate change using the longest instrumental temperature record [link]

    OK, but needs more work; all they have so far are frequencies. What is missing is an analysis of the closeness of the fit between the estimated “drivers” and the estimated responses — something parametrized that can be used to model the next few cycles and see how close the fit is in out-of-sample data.

    Alternative title: “Frequency Analysis of CET Data”.

  13. Sea level rising around Florida in some place, I thought the land was sinking. Soft substrata, concentrated heavy buildings land sinks. But perhaps I’m wrong

    • Yes, land subsidence contributes to Florida’s flooding.

      Shimon Wdowinski, from the Florida International University, has studied land subsidence in Miami using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) observations, and reaches the following conclusions:

      – Preliminary InSAR results detected localized subsidence, up to ~3 mm/yr, mainly in reclaimed land located along the western side of Miami Beach.
      – Although the detected subsidence velocities are quite low, their effect on the flooding hazard is significant, because houses originally built on higher ground have subsided since the city was built, about 80 years ago, by 16-24 cm down to flooding hazard zones.
      – The combined effect of subsidence and SLR further expose the subsiding areas to higher flooding hazard than the rest of the city.

      The results show a good correlation between the subsiding areas and some of the tide flooded areas (Figure below) in the western part of the city.

      The report has been presented at the Florida Atlantic University 3rd Sea-Level Rise Summit “Connected futures from Alaska to Florida.” May 3-5, 2016. Fort Lauderdale.

      Ross Clark, a journalist, asked Al Gore about this after seeing his new documentary where Florida’s floodings were blamed only on sea level rise, and got called a “denier”

      “When I put all this to Al Gore and ask him whether his film would be stronger if it acknowledged the complexities of sea level rise — why it is rising in some places and not in others — I am expecting him to bat it away, saying that it doesn’t counter his central point and that there is a limit to what you can put into a film pitched at a mass audience, but his reaction surprises me. As soon as I mention Professor Wdowinski’s name, he counters: ‘Never heard of him — is he a denier?’ Then, as I continue to make the point, he starts to answer before directing it at me: ‘Are you a denier?’ When I say I am sure that climate change is a problem, but how big a one I don’t know, he jumps in: ‘You are a denier.’

      That is a strange interpretation of the word ‘deny’, I try to say. But his PR team moves in and declares ‘Time’s up’, and I am left feeling like the guy in Monty Python who paid for a five-minute argument and was allowed only 30 seconds. On the way out, a frosty PR woman says to me: ‘Can I have a word with you?’ I wasn’t supposed to ask difficult questions, she says, because ‘this is a film junket, to promote the film’.

      Surely if you are going to make a film claiming climate change to be a grave threat to the world, you ought to be prepared to answer detailed questions about it. – The Spectator”

  14. On the inherent predictability of precipitation across the United States [link]

    ” Predictability increases monotonically with temporal averaging.”

    This article is complete bunk.

    A time for reflection. The mid-West, and in particular the Great Lakes reflect a considerable portion of the US fresh water systems. The Army Corps of Engineers (US ACE, Detroit District along with NOAA) keeps very close tract of the water levels via water level gauges of the Great Lakes for economic reasons (great lakes bulk freighter carriers tonnage capacity) and makes predictions of future Great Lakes water levels beginning in November for the following year forecast. Many considerations go into the forecast including Great Lakes ice cover AND precipitation in the Great Lakes drainage regions of Northern Ontario Canada and the surrounding Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and the lower portion of the Province of Ontario. A pretty broad area.

    This year was a colossal screw-up. Not only did the forecast for the following year not predict the precipitation in the Great Lakes catchment region, they were off by more than a foot, and in Lake Ontario, three feet water levels higher are than predicted. Even when the predictions were revised a foot or more higher in April of this year, Great Lakes continue to exceed these prediction levels. That is, the 5 month forecast: April through July) were still predicted to be lower than actual tidal gauges used as monitors dispersed throughout the Great Lakes region.

    What went wrong? Models of course. ALL models were wrong, and in this case, to the detriment of ore carriers and others, the water levels would have allowed more tonnage per trip than the USACE would have predicted back in April 2017.

    I read through the above article and said to myself: these people are nuts! They trust in their models. The data screams at them that they are wrong and still, they persist in their delusional state.

    Give enough rope to NOAA and they will hang themselves…and the did.

  15. I will give a shout out to two new platforms.



    Looks like an Issue tree..



    Blogging is dead.

    What would have been cool is if Kialo had done a cryptocurrency around their platform.

    Steemit is cooler but harder to grasp if you dont get crypto.
    basically Judith could make money from her Posts by Joining Steemit.

  16. “Over the past million years, glacial–interglacial cycles have had a period of about 100,000 years, similar to the 100,000-year period of change in the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit. However, the change in incoming solar radiation—insolation—at this timescale is small, and therefore difficult to
    reconcile with the amplitude of the glacial cycles1–5. This issue, known as the 100-kyr problem, is compounded by a lack of explanation for the transition of the length of the cycles from 41,000 to 100,000 years at the mid-Pleistocene transition 1.2 million years ago. Individual discrepancies have been explained, for example, through interactions between other orbital frequencies such as obliquity and the 413,000-year period of eccentricity but a unified explanation is lacking. Here we show that climate oscillations over the past four million years can be explained by a single mechanism: the synchronization of nonlinear internal climate oscillations and the 413,000-year eccentricity cycle.” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258807321_Synchronization_of_the_climate_system_to_eccentricity_forcing_and_the_100000-year_problem

    It takes days to weeks and months to digest an important paper of course – for me even decades with the original space/time paper. This one I have recently found – and I don’t know how important it is but it looks like fun. Here they consider the 100kyr glacial problem through a synchonous chaos lens. Synchronous chaos as an idea unifies spatio/temporal chaos and temporal chaos. Spatio/temporal chaos underlies the dynamics of climate. Spatio/temporal chaos results in quasi standing waves everywhere in the system. We give names to the most significant of them – and they have an important something called persistence – merely the tendency for data in weather and climate to cluster around a point and then shift.

    There are important periods in quasi standing waves in the Earth system – including the 20 to 30 year scale of ENSO and PDO that shows a modulator – in the papers terms – in a synchronized beat and dynamic climate response. Now we may call it unicorns – but I’m not convinced. I’m inclined to suspect the Hale cycle. This is spatio/temporal chaos at very different scales – one from orbits and one from the sun illustrating “simple rules at the heart of climate’s complexity”.

    I hypothesized here “that upwelling in the Pacific Ocean is modulated by solar activity over periods of decades to millennia – with profound impacts on communities and ecosystems globally. The great resonant systems of the Pacific respond at variable periods – the tempo increased last century for instance – of La Niña and El Niño alternation. There are variations in this tempo at 20 to 30 years that – throwing this out there – suggest a trigger in the 22 year Hale solar cycle of magnetic reversals. The solar butterfly flutters and the cyclone ensues. Longer term indicators of solar activity show changes over millennia that mirror the state of upwelling in the Pacific. The mechanism proposed is a spinning up of the Pacific trade winds and surface gyres as a result of colder and denser polar air. Low solar activity spins up the great ocean gyres producing more frequent La Niña and a cooler northeastern Pacific (more upwelling) – and vice versa. With a cooling Sun – it suggests that the next Pacific climate shift – due in a 2018-2028 window – will be to yet cooler conditions in the Pacific Ocean. This has implications for global heat content, hydrology and biology.”

    • Robert

      It is clear that nonlinear and chaotic dynamics play a role in the glacial cycle. The timing of interglacials indicates that the system is a periodically forced nonlinear oscillator, with the dominant forcing being obliquity.
There is a very compelling correlation between the the obliquity cycle and temperature lagged by 6,500 years, posted here recently by Javier. This must surely of central importance to the whole question of glacial-interglacial timing and causation.

      Every 2 or 3 obliquity peaks – lagged by 6,500 years by the ocean’s thermal inertia, induces an interglacial.

      Which obliquity peaks induce interglacials and which do not is straightforwardly predictable from precession and eccentricity. Regarding precession, it is not precession per se but the modulation of precession that is the critical factor, that is, the oscillation in the amplitude of the precession peaks. This modulation follows eccentricity – the maximal peaks of precession modulation occur at the peaks of eccentricity.

      It is obvious from orbital considerations why precession modulation should follow eccentricity. In fact it simplifies analysis of Milankovich forcing to consider precession modulation and eccentricity as one and the same phenomenon. (This would also include insolation at 65N, which exactly follows eccentricity and precession modulation.)

      And that’s all it is. An obliquity peak – thermally lagged by 6,500 years, coinciding with a peak of precession modulation/eccentricity, causes an interglacial. Due to different timings, sometimes an eccentricity peaks will fall exactly half way between two lagged obliquity peaks. In this case you get a double-headed interglacial, as occured 200k and 600k years ago and will happen again 200k years in the future.

      • Ptolemy2

        The simpel model of Tzedakis et. al. :


        correctly predicts every complete deglaciation of the past million years by applying an insolation measure (caloric summer half year) and elapsed time since the previous deglaciation. No need for nonlinear and chaotic dynamics.

      • teerhuis
        Yes the model of Tzedakis is compelling.
        The “model” I outlined of obliquity modulated by eccentricity/precession also predicts correctly all the interglacials since the MPR. I haven’t checked before that.
        A periodically forced nonlinear oscillator is still a nonlinear chaotic phenomenon despite the fact that it is periodically forced. The forcing can be strong (simple relationship to forcer) or weak (complex relationship to forcer).

      • The the first paper discusses the Pleistocene transition for instance – the explanation departs from the usual one of interactions of orbital changes.

        Non-linear and chaotic processes are always required – btw – to explain the depth of the planetary response to small changes. in insolation.

    • Before the MPR obliquity alone was sufficient always to induce an interglacial.

      However due to long term gradual cooling, after the MPR the system became less sensitive to interglacial induction and only the coincidence of all the Milankovich forcings was enough to start an interglacial.

      This was discussed by Renee Harmon in this recent WUWT post:


      If this secular cooling continues then eventually the earth will enter continuous glaciation with no interglacials, for some tens of millions of years.

    • BTW you’re not the first to suggest the alignment of ENSO to the solar (sunspot) cycle:


      White WB, Liu Z. Non‐linear alignment of El Nino to the 11‐yr solar cycle. Geophysical Research Letters. 2008 Oct 1;35(19).

  17. A paleoclimatologist does history and gets it wrong.

    The Vikings moved from northern Norway were there was some cod to Iceland where there was lots and lots of cod. The cod had migrated north when the North Atlantic got warmer during the MWP.

    As one of the people who commented on this article pointed out, societies that are failing because of climate change do not send out raiding parties for easy pickings from other peoples. They move away from the bad climate conditions or go into decline (like the Mayans). The Vikings were not in decline. They Vikings expanded because their population was expanding.

    When the North Atlantic climate changed from the MWP to the LIA the cod migrated back to the Grand banks where the Basques (who also fished Iceland) followed and founded the rumors of a new land across the ocean.

    • Similarly, the Mongol hordes were the result of and extended period of favorable weather called the MWP that allowed their population (and the population of their ponies) to expand to the point of becoming a continental super power.

  18. Dr Curry, thank you again for assembling these.

  19. Climate sensitivty questions. Another feeble RealClimate attempt to reconcile CMIP5 sensitivity with observational energy budget sensivity. It fails for at least two reasons. 1. The models are running indefensibly hot compared to observational reality, as Christy’s 29 March Congressional testimony showed. 2. Unavoidable parameter tuning drags in the attribution problem, as my two Models guest posts at WUWT discussed in detail.

  20. Climatic history shows this period of time in climatic history is not only NOT unique but is no where near the warmest the globe has been over the past 10,000 years much less further back in time long before the ridiculous AGW theory came about and the models which predict it.

    Where is all that warmth we are still stuck in the same temperature range, and further if I am correct year 2017 is the transition year to a cooler global climate going forward due mostly to very low solar activity.

  21. Re: “On the possible contribution of natural climatic fluctuations to the global warming of the last 135 years [link] Punchline: half”

    Another misrepresentation of the scientific literature. What the paper actually says:
    “Thus, the probability that the half of the contemporary GW is
    produced by natural random oscillations of temperature is more than 0.25.”

    So according to this paper, there’s a >25% that natural oscillations contributed 50% of the observed warming. And from this, Curry infers that natural oscillations contributed 50% of the observed warming. This is hilarious, for at least two reasons.

    First, Curry previous acted as if the meaning of the word “most” was unclear (it means “majority” or “>50%) when the IPCC used the term, yet now she now understands percentages well enough to thinks that >25% chance is enough for accepting a claim:
    “Comment on “Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster” by J. A. Curry and P. J. Webster”, page 1685:

    Second, Curry and her followers made negative comments about how NASA said 2014 was the warmest year on record up to that point, when there was a ~38% chance this was the case. Examples:

    In making these comments, Curry + her followers conveniently forgot the difference between a “plurality” and a “majority”. A year can have the majority of the probability for being the warmest year. Or a year can receive a plurality of the probability for being the warmest year. If a given year gets the plurality, then this means that year is most likely to be the warmest year. After all, it has a higher percentage than any of the other years. That’s what happened here: 2014 got the plurality of the percentage, and thus 2014 was most likely the warming year on record, up to that point. That was confirmed by multiple research groups, including BEST:
    “Estimating changes in global temperature since the pre-industrial period”, figures 5 and 3:

    But Curry’s followers objected anyway, since they claim 38% chance is not enough. Which makes it pretty ironic that Curry will now offer conclusion just because there’s a >25% of the conclusion being true. Lulz.

    • (1). “On the possible contribution of natural climatic fluctuations to the global warming of the last 135 years [link] Punchline: half”

      (2).“Thus, the probability that the half of the contemporary GW is produced by natural random oscillations of temperature is more than 0.25.”

      I wonder if this clown could explain why (1). is incompatible with (2). It seems that “possible” is not contradicted by “probability”… “is more than 25%”.

  22. Re: “Identification of the driving forces of climate change using the longest instrumental temperature record [link] Punchline: solar, El Nino”

    Another misrepresentation of the scientific literature. The paper specifically says that the longer-term, millennial-scale factors modulated the short-term effects from the Sun and El Nino:

    “The driving forces of climate change were investigated and the results showed two independent degrees of freedom —a 3.36-year cycle and a 22.6-year cycle, which seem to be connected to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation cycle and the Hale sunspot cycle, respectively. Moreover, these driving forces were modulated in amplitude by signals with millennial timescales.”

    So what were these longer-term, millennial scale factors? Well, the paper says:

    “As for the most important long periodic signals of 1000 years, a reasonable speculation is that they represent the impacts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) on the climate system. This long period signal is topmost modulated which controls all scale-components, while GHGs is almost the unique factor to directly heat the air by absorbing the longwave radiation from the Earth surface. Thus, it should be considered that this millennial signal may be an impact of GHGs.
    This result differs from the conclusions in Scafetta’s papers [e.g. refs 17, 18, 19], where this millennial period scale (983 years in his papers) is regarded as a harmonic of the solar cycle, but here we prefer to regard it as the GHG signal for the physical energy of the climate system.”

    Oh look, it’s greenhouses gases (GHGs) like CO2.

    Is there some reason why Curry left this point out from her discussion of the paper, and instead made it look like the paper was saying that it was just the Sun and El Nino that were the driving forces? I can think of a few reasons why “skeptics” on the scientific consensus on CO2-induced global warming might not want to mention what I quoted above.

    This is why it pays to READ the scientific literature, as opposed to just relying on “skeptic” blogs to accurately report what the scientific literature says.

    • Well I’m rather entertained at what you are reading into my 30 character tags, which are designed to help the reader decide whether or not they want to click on the article and actually read it.

    • “The driving forces of climate change were investigated and the results showed two independent degrees of freedom —a 3.36-year cycle and a 22.6-year cycle, which seem to be connected to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation cycle and the Hale sunspot cycle, respectively. Moreover, these driving forces were modulated in amplitude by signals with millennial timescales.” https://www.nature.com/articles/srep46091

      So we have an ENSO cycle – and I love the faux precision of the numbers – a Hale solar magnetic (not sunspot) cycle and a 1000 year cycle that might be speculated to be greenhouse gases. Or perhaps volcanoes. Or something else.

      But these powerful natural cycles are bubbling along under the surface – and I use that term advisably – given Tomas’ spatio/temporal chaos governed mountain river. The 20 to 30 year cycles seem very likely to continue for a bit. The next one is due in a 2018 to 2028 window. And the Pacific state seems modulated by something.

      The proxy below shows levels of salt a Law Dome ice core. More or less salt More salt is a cool Pacific state (less eastern margin upwelling) with ENSO periodicity and the familiar 20 to 30 year patterns of rainfall and biology globally.

      The Pacific state is modulated over a millennia. The details of the ocean and atmospheric links are fascinating – it is postulated that it starts with solar uv/ozone chemistry modulating ocean and atmospheric circulation throughout the system.

      The Hale beat may be a switch of sorts – signalling changes in the Pacific State at the 20 to 30 year scale. And then literally shifts again to another state and these shifts add up over time to long term climate. At all scales. The first rule of spatio/temporal chaos is that it is scale independent. Again the modulator seems quite evidently solar.

      “The sunspot cycle happens because of this pole flip — north becomes south and south becomes north—approximately every 11 years. Some 11 years later, the poles reverse again back to where they started, making the full solar cycle actually a 22-year phenomenon. The sun behaves similarly over the course of each 11-year cycle no matter which pole is on top, however, so this shorter cycle tends to receive more attention.” NASA

      The Hale beat itself is spatio/temporal chaos modulated though n-body gravity interactions in the solar system – but the waxing and waning of the 11 year butterfly may set the tone of Earth climate’s resonant frequencies.

  23. Ecmwf and weather/climate models. “Showed a tropical Atlantic portion at 2.5Km resolution to resolve convection cells”. The finest equatorial resolution in CMIP5 is ~1 degree, about 110km. Typical is 280 km. UCAR says doubling resolution (say 110 to 55 km) is 10x computational intensity. The CFL constraint on numerical solutions to partial differentials guarantees >8x. So reaching 2.5 km resolution globally is 7-8 orders of magnitude beyond the best present supercomputers. NEVER going to escape parameterization, which requires tuning, which drags in the attribution probem, which means GCM climate models are a permanent exercise in futility. Again, details in two guest posts on models at WUWT.
    That said, for 4-5 day weather forecasting, 2.5km is feasible and ECMWF appears better than the US GFS.

  24. I have just finished revisiting a comment from yesterday.

  25. “Fossil fuel exploitation that would trigger a rise in carbon emissions is necessary to support the country financially in its break from Denmark, leaders say, despite it being one of the most climate-affected places in the world” – The Guardian

    So Greenland is looking for independence. I imagine they have more ice than they want. Now they are supported by Denmark and given money that would end with their independence. So it’s take the money, or make their own money.

  26. My latest: “The National Academy of Sciences teaches climate advocacy not science.”

    “The prestigious US National Academy of Sciences is off the rails when it comes to teaching kids about climate change. They have an exhaustive lesson plan for middle and high school kids that teaches a great deal of alarmist advocacy and very little science. NAS has clearly lost sight of its role as the trusted science advisor to the US Government. Al Gore could have written this lesson.” Read more at the linked article.

    NAS at its worst.


    Our project:

  27. I was interested in the link “What are these laws trying to protect?” It mentions in the article the cost of supporting the marine monuments.

    It should be noted that ships that support marine monuments are like ‘franchises at a distance’ that do not maintain their various required quality control mechanisms

  28. “The team, from the Plasma Science and Fusion Center of the MIT, added trace amounts—1 percent—of helium-3 to the traditional combination and tested the new combination at the Alcator C-Mod tokamak. The results showed that the hydrogen-deuterium-helium plasma got wrigglier and hotter, producing 10 times more energy than before.”


  29. “In the US fuel costs average about 3 cents per kWh. For residential users, the retail price averages about 12 cents per kWh, or four times as much as the fuel cost.”

    “In my view, the typical value of intermittent electricity is the value of the fuel the intermittent electricity replaces–in other words, the cost of coal, natural gas, or uranium replaced. This is the case because using intermittent electricity doesn’t generally reduce any costs for an electric utility, other than its fuel costs. It still needs to provide backup power around the clock to customers with solar panels. Because of the variability in production, it still needs pretty much the same capacity as in the past, and it needs the same staffing for each of the units, even though some of them might be operating for a smaller percentage of time.”

    One way of structuring this is to pay home producers of solar only for the cost of fuel not used. They are still imposing costs on the utility. For instance back up costs.

  30. “Marx never even came close to achieving this – and since then, economics has veered between stability and instability theories, about every 25 years.”

    “Romer’s huge mea culpa on behalf of mainstream economics is a sign that, after a decade-long hunt for trolls and gremlins as the cause of crisis, academia now has to begin the search for the cause of instablity inside the system, not outside it.”


    Seems similar. The climate system is stable. It’s quasi-stable. The glacier inter/glacial progression.

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