Earth's climate is controlled by the global balance of energy. Radiation from the Sun heats up the planet while heat energy is re-radiated into space through complex interactions of land, sea and air. The journal Nature Geoscience has just published an update about the balance that controls Earth's temperature and overall climate. Scientists conclude the global balance of energy flow within the atmosphere and at Earth's surface cannot be accurately measured using current techniques and is therefore uncertain. The current uncertainty in this net surface energy balance is an order of magnitude larger than the changes associated with greenhouse gasses. In short, previous estimates of climate change are invalid, swamped by fundamental uncertainty.
Long-wave radiation received at Earth's surface is significantly underestimated by earlier computer models. Precipitation estimates, related to surface radiation, are also out of whack. Those are statements made in “An update on Earth's energy balance in light of the latest global observations.” In that paper, an ensemble of authors, led by Graeme L. Stephens of Cal Tech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, discuss the seminal importance of Earth's energy balance to climate. Their conclusions to not bolster the case put forth by climate scientists and computer modelers in particular. Here is the article's abstract.
The AMO drives Europe's climate on a multidecadal time scale.
Climate change alarmists point to the past several decades of European weather to reinforce their claim that global warming has the continent in its grip. A new report shows that this recent warm spell is nothing abnormal or unprecedented—during the 1990s there was simply a return to conditions present during 1931-1960. The reason for the shift is warm ocean temperatures that are, in turn driven by variation in warm ocean currents from the tropics. The instrumental record shows that, relative to the average temperature of the rest of the world’s oceans, the temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean has fluctuated between anomalously warm and anomalously cool phases, each lasting several decades at a time. Palaeoclimate records suggest that similar variations extend much farther back in time. The observed pattern of multidecadal variation in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) has become known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
Climate change happens in cycles both long and short. The most dramatic long cycle that humans have experienced is the alternating ice age phenomenon of glacial and interglacial periods. Over the past 800,000 years or so, the world freezes for 100,000 years and then suddenly thaws for 15-25,000 years. Among the best known short cycles are the alternating El Niño/La Niña conditions in the Pacific, which gets blamed for bad weather in North America and failed monsoons in Asia. There are, however, a number of intermediate cycles that function on scales of decades to hundreds of years.
Paranthropus robustus, an extinct vegetarian hominin.
Science is fairly certain that there were “vegetarian cavemen,” but they didn't last. There was a pre-human species of man, who lived around 2.7 million to 1 million years ago, that many scientists think existed on a vegetarian diet. New research shows that the vegetarian branch of ancient humans died off long ago, while their meat-eating cousins lived on and thrived. The dietary specialization of this vegan leaning branch of early hominin is thought to have contributed to its demise because it was unable to adapt to the changing environmental conditions that took place approximately 1 million years ago. Perhaps there is a message in this for today's vegetarians—eat meat or you too will become extinct.
Heralded far and wide as a harbinger of global climate change, this year's record Arctic ice melt has the uninformed climate alarmists celebrating and the more knowledgeable scratching their heads. You see, this summer's ice retreat was predicted by no computer model and few scientists even though it possible. While climate scientists ponder what is wrong with their theories nature has carried on—no fuss, no muss, no drama. Circulation patterns are shifting and living creatures from zooplankton to megafauna are taking the change in stride. What has flummoxed environmental scientists is the simple and now demonstrated fact that successful life forms have a common trait—they are adaptable, something many scientists are not.
That ice in the Arctic has been shrinking during the summer is not news. For the past five years the summer pack ice extent was smaller than previously documented in the 34 year satellite record. This year's massive melt off has occurred under relatively normal weather conditions, with only one strong summer storm to hasten the break-up of the pack ice. But instead of vindicating their computerized prognostications, this year’s record loss has scientists questioning their models. Here is how the quandary was reported in Nature:
Computer models that simulate how the ice will respond to a warming climate project that the Arctic will be seasonally ‘ice free’ (definitions of this vary) some time between 2040 and the end of the century. But the observed downward trend in sea-ice cover suggests that summer sea ice could disappear completely as early as 2030, something that none of the models used for the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change comes close to forecasting.
There has been a wave of triumphal announcements by climate change proponents recently, almost giddy over the summer shrinkage of the Arctic ice sheet. “Lowest level ever!” they proclaim, thought that is not quite true. Nonetheless, The Arctic pack ice has been receding over the last decade or so, but that is only natural. You see, there is a well known, if poorly understood, linkage between the ice at the north pole and the ice in and around Antarctica—and the ice around Antarctica is doing quite well. Satellite radar altimetry measurements indicate that the East Antarctic ice sheet interior increased in mass by 45±7 billion metric tons per year from 1992 to 2003. This trend continues today, reinforcing recent scientific investigations into this millennial scale oscillation between the poles. According to studies, this is how things have been for hundreds of thousands of years.
By now everyone who pays attention to climate matters has heard the news, the Nations Ice and Snow Data Center (NSIDC) has proclaimed a new record low for the Arctic ice sheet. The dweebs over at RealClimate are beside themselves with joy, smugly celebrating the impending ecological doom of all mankind. “Take to the lifeboats, the seas are a risin'.” Ok, maybe they are not quite that ecstatic, but this “record” is being used as a see-I-told-you-so to prop up anthropogenic global warming. Here is what the NSIDC had to say in their press release:
Arctic sea ice cover melted to its lowest extent in the satellite record yesterday, breaking the previous record low observed in 2007. Sea ice extent fell to 4.10 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles) on August 26, 2012. This was 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) below the September 18, 2007 daily extent of 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles).
Click source to read FULL report from Doug. L Hoffman
A study of ancient volcanic ash found at key archaeological sites across Europe suggests that early modern humans were more resilient to climate change and natural disasters than commonly thought. The study, which appeared in PNAS, analyzed volcanic ash from a major eruption that occurred in Europe around 40,000 years ago. The volcano spewed so much ash that the event probably created winter-like conditions and a sudden colder shift in climate. Scientists have generally suggested that the spread of modern humans, and the decline of our cousins the Neanderthals, was primarily due to ancient volcanic eruptions and deteriorating climate conditions, but this study shows that stone-age man rolled with the punches and shrugged off the sudden shifts in climate. This new evidence flies in the face of modern predictions that a shift of a few degrees in average yearly temperature will decimate human populations world wide.
The Response of Humans to Abrupt Environmental Transitions (RESET) project is a research initiative launched in 2008 and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (UK). It brings together archaeologists, vulcanologist, geochemists, oceanographers and paleontologists to investigate the chronology of major phases of human dispersal and development in Europe and North Africa during the past 100,000 years and examine the degree to which these phases were influenced by abrupt environmental transitions (AETs). RESET funded the paper, “Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early modern humans to natural hazards,” by John Lowe et al. that appeared in the July 23 issue of PNAS. Here is a summary of the authors' motivation and findings:
One of the main problems with the “theory” of anthropogenic global warming is its reliance on rising atmospheric CO2 levels to force a global rise in temperature. This is predicted by climate change proponents by running large, complex computer models that imperfectly simulate the physics of Earths biosphere: ocean, land and atmosphere. Central to tuning these general circulation models (GCM) is a parameter called climate sensitivity, a value that purports to capture in a single number the response of global climate to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. But it has long been known that the Earth system is constantly changing—interactions shifting and factors waxing and waning—so how can a simple linear approximation capture the response of nature? The answer is, it can not, as a new perspective article in the journal Science reports.
Occasionally, someone one within the mainstream of climate science manages to publish a report that reveals what is widely known but hardly ever talked about: the story presented to the public regarding the cause of global warming is a gross over-simplification that is more useful in misleading the uninitiated than accurately predicting future climate change. In “A Long View on Climate Sensitivity,” Luke Skinner, from the Godwin Laboratory for Palaeoclimate Research at the University of Cambridge, has made one of these rare admissions of reality. To be sure, Dr. Skinner is an orthodox climate scientists and adheres to the articles of AGW faith. Here is the first paragraph of the perspective:
Humanity is engaged in an unprecedented climate experiment, the outcome of which is often framed in terms of an equilibrium “climate sensitivity.” This parameter encapsulates the amount of global warming that may be expected as a result of a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, which is equivalent to an additional 3.7 W m−2 of energy available to warm Earth's surface. The current best estimate of climate sensitivity is similar to the earliest estimates by Arrhenius and Callendar, ranging from 2° to 4.5°C. Constraints on the lower limit of this range are much tighter than they are on the upper limit, with small but finite probabilities for very large climate sensitivities. Although the geological record provides strong support for climate sensitivities in this range, it also reminds us that a single value of climate sensitivity is unlikely to provide a complete picture of the climate system's response to forcing.
Click source to read FULL report from Doug L. Hoffman
That large changes in solar radiation can affect Earth's climate is widely accepted. However, the hypothesis of solar-induced centennial to decadal climate changes, which suggests feedback mechanisms in the climate system amplifying even small solar variations, has not found acceptance among orthodox climate scientists. The climate change clique would rather place their money on greenhouse gasses—human generated CO2 in particular. It is true that satellite-based measurements of total solar irradiance show that mean variations during solar cycles do not exceed 0.2 W m−2 (~ 0.1% of the Sun's energy output). It has also been noted that relatively large variations of 5–8% in the ultraviolet (UV) frequencies can occur, though how this could change global climate remained a puzzlement—but perhaps no longer. From studying a significant climate shift 2,800 years ago, a group of scientists have concluded that large changes in solar UV radiation can, indeed, affect climate by inducing atmospheric changes.
NASA satellites detected widespread melting in July 2012.
Melting glaciers are once again in the news, along with the associated threat of rising sea levels. NASA satellites have reported wide spread melting across Greenland which has the climate change alarmists all atwitter. But the NASA satellites are providing data never before available, so it is hard to say if the summer melting pattern is unusual. Meanwhile, some 80 year old scientific data has revealed that this is not the first time that there has been a period of glacial retreat in Greenland. This formerly lost data shows that many land-terminating glaciers underwent a more rapid retreat in the 1930s than in the 2000s. Even more interesting is that the two periods of retreat were interrupted by a period of widespread advance from 1943 to 1972. Greenland's glaciers seems to be oscillating with a period of around a century.
Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. A series of photos detailing the extent of Greenland's glaciers were collected during 1932 and 1933 by an expedition led by the Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen. Due to political conflict between Norway and Denmark at the time, most of those photos were classified as secret and effectively lost for 80 years. Recently rediscovered, the photos document glacier conditions at the start of a previous warming event that was comparable in magnitude to the present one for southeast Greenland. This warm period persisted from the early 1930s to the early 1950s, and featured anomalously warm temperatures of both air and ocean.
Click source to read FULL report from Doug L. Hoffman
The last interglacial period (LIG)—the Eemian—is commonly believed by scientists to have been warmer than the current Holocene interglacial. Along with that balmier climate there is evidence that sea levels were significantly higher than today. Previous studies have pegged Eemian sea levels at 4 to 6m higher than today. Recently, a new investigation raises that estimate, reporting that ancient sea levels peaked between 6.6 and 9.4 m (~20 to 30 feet). Modern day accounts of flooding in low lying coastal areas and tropical islands abound, with ominous suggestions of links to global warming. How high the oceans will rise is a topic of debate for IPCC members, the news media and assorted climate alarmists, but they are asking the wrong question. Instead, they should ask why are sea levels so low?
Perhaps no speculative outcome of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is more threatening than a significant rise in sea level. Given that most of Earth's human population lives in littoral regions, the prospect of flooded cities and millions of refugees fleeing inundated coastal plains is a threat that strikes fear in the hearts of people everywhere. Predicting future sea-level rise requires an understanding of various climate conditions and potential ice-sheet instability. Unfortunately, efforts to accurately forecast the rising and falling of sea levels have proven inadequate. To try and gain some insight into the mechanisms at work, scientists have been studying the warm period prior to our own—the Eemian interglacial that occurred ~125,000 years ago.
In a report in the July 13, 2012, edition of Science, A. Dutton and K Lambeck present a new assessment of Eemian sea levels based on a a new global database of U-Th ages and elevations of fossil corals. In “Ice Volume and Sea Level During the Last Interglacial,” the authors argue that during the previous warm period significantly more Antarctic ice must have melted to generate the calculated ancient sea levels. Here is the article’s abstract, which sums up their findings nicely: