The Northeast snowstorm of 2010 by satellite view

The Northeast snowstorm of 2010 by satellite view. Gosh, a December 28th satellite photo of the snowstorm in the Northeastern US, the “Image of the Day” at the NASA Earth Observatory website, must mean that Global Warming is a fraud! Just ask Anthony Watts.

Jeff Masters includes it with his top US weather events of 2010 and makes this insightful comment (italics mine):

The Northeast has seen an inordinate number of top-ten snowstorms in the past ten years, raising the question of whether this is due to random chance or a change in the climate. A study by Houston and Changnon (2009) on the top ten heaviest snows on record for each of 121 major U.S. cities showed no upward or downward trend in these very heaviest snowstorms during the period 1948 – 2001. It would be interesting to see if they repeated their study using data from the past decade if the answer would change. As I stated in my blog post, The United States of Snow in February, bigger snowstorms are not an indication that global warming is not occurring. The old adage, “it’s too cold to snow”, has some truth to it, and there is research supporting the idea that the average climate in the U.S. is colder than optimal to support the heaviest snowstorms. For example, Changnon et al. (2006) found that for the contiguous U.S. between 1900 – 2001, 61% – 80% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters with above normal temperatures. The authors also found that 61% – 85% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters that were wetter than average. The authors conclude, “a future with wetter and warmer winters, which is one outcome expected (National Assessment Synthesis Team 2001), will bring more heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches than in 1901 – 2000.” The authors found that over the U.S. as a whole, there had been a slight but significant increase in heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches than in 1901 – 2000. If the climate continues to warm, we should expect an increase in heavy snow events for a few decades, until the climate grows so warm that we pass the point where winter temperatures are at the optimum for heavy snow events.

Antarctic Ice Cores: The Sample Rate Problem

Antarctic Ice Cores: The Sample Rate Problem. Geologist David Middleton returns to tell us that those Antarctic ice cores that seem to support the climatology conspiracy consensus can’t be trusted. After-all, the ice doesn’t permanently capture the CO2 level at the exact instant it begins to form. Also, maybe CO2 got sucked out of the old ice. And everyone knows that only second-by-second CO2 samples can be trusted.

Actually, David is suggesting that the ice CO2 levels blend a bit. He wants us to think that maybe there have been large fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 that have been blurred together and are no longer seen in the ice samples, maybe the modern CO2 trend just happens to be an ordinary large natural swing in CO2, and that we just happen to be at the peak of one of those “swings”.

Although, if the ice cores chanced to suit denialist wishes I’m sure they’d be just fine. In this case the erratic plant leaf stomata CO2 proxy values (sotto voce: does David know that they are a computer model?) are praised because they show large fluctuations that can be used to “prove” that there has been wide variation in the modern era and hence today’s CO2 levels are perfectly natural.

This puzzling quote comes from one of the apparently supporting papers, CO2 diffusion in polar ice: observations from naturally formed CO2 spikes in the Siple Dome (Antarctica) ice core (italics mine):

“Smoothing of the CO2 record by diffusion is one to two orders of magnitude smaller than the smoothing by diffusion in the firn at the depth of 287m (gas age = 2.74 kyr BP) in the Siple Dome ice, and so does not degrade the record.”

So… scientists know about this crazy diffusion thing and have been able to assess it as being insignificant. So what’s David really trying to do?

USA record lows outpace record highs 19 to 1 this week

USA record lows outpace record highs 19 to 1 this week. Anthony Watts wants you to think that “snow” (somewhere) equals “cold” (everywhere) and therefore Global Warming is a fraud. His convincing evidence? One week of US data.

In 2009 Gerald Meehl published a report in ScienceDaily that the denialists have tried to undercut ever since titled Record High Temperatures Far Outpace Record Lows Across US. He used 60 years of data.

60 years beats seven days. Source: ScienceDaily.

The last paragraph in Anthony’s post shows that he knows his headline was not only misrepresentative but also only momentarily accurate (italics mine):

*Note: some people clicking on the interactive map will see different numbers, since that map will record new highs and lows as this post ages. The headline was originally based on 16 highs during the week (see the highs map for a ratio of 21 to 1) then by the time the post editing was completed and the post made, the number of highs was up to 18, giving an 18.6 to 1 (~19 to 1 in the title) ratio. Later in the day the number of record highs in the one week period increased as new weather occurred (on Dec 31) and reports came in. The numbers were accurate at the time the post started. Weather records, like weather itself are dynamic with the forward moving one week period the interactive map generator uses, so please don’t assume error if you click on the interactive map and the numbers don’t match now, or in the future. – Anthony

Clean Coal (Say WATT?) – Our Energy Future

Clean Coal (Say WATT?) – Our Energy Future. More Christmas Guest pudding from Ira Glickstein. He’s excited that The Atlantic apparently now “supports coal”. James Fallows’ latest article is Why the Future of Clean Energy is Dirty Coal. He suggests that electricity can be produced by redesigning coal power plants to reduce their carbon emissions. Doesn’t seem like quite the “warmist” reversal Ira wants to proclaim.

“No coal ever!” only exists in the make believe world where environmentalists want us to go back to living in caves. In the real world environmentalists want to move as fast as possible to cleaner non-carbon energy sources, not stop energy usage.

Coal is central to current power generation in many places, so the more we can improve its utilization the better. But there’s no “clean” version, and it is not “cheap”. Extracting it damages the environment and so does burning it. China is probably the world’s largest consumer of coal power, but they are also the most active in pursuing “alternative” energy.

So… What were your saying Ira? Oh, you prefer direct carbon taxes to “cap-and-trade”. Me too. Bet you Anthony’s readers don’t like either.

Time Magazine blizzard science sets low standard for green journalism

Time Magazine blizzard science sets low standard for green journalism. Ryan Maue complains about biases of the “liberal media” (that would be Time Magazine). Apparently environmental journalist Bryan Walsh says that while most unusual weather events can’t be tied to “climate change”, the 2010 Christmas snowstorms fit into an expected climate pattern. Now that is an outrage!

Ryan’s evidence: a Star Trek clip from YouTube. But is Ryan arguing against heavier snowfall under Global Warming (apparently not), or the origin of this particular blizzard? It seems he’s trying to accuse Walsh of saying the blizzard was caused by “climate change” which isn’t something that Walsh claimed.

How I learned to stop smoking and love Global Warming

How I learned to stop smoking and love Global Warming. Christmas Guest pudding from archaeologist Michael A. Lewis, Ph.D. Unlike most denialists, he believes in tree ring data. Good luck defending that in the comments! He also knows that modest Arctic warming a thousand years ago is proof of natural global warming in the same time period. Somehow. Funny, the Yamal tree-ring proxy chart he includes doesn’t particularly show that.

Lewis falls into the trap of seeing the forest and not the trees. He sees nothing worrying over the long timescales he’s used to thinking in, so why worry?

Two problems. First, the current rate of change is completely unprecedented, so his incurious lack of concern is ill-advised. Second, his own work on changing Arctic populations shows that climate change, whether natural or not, can have massively disruptive impacts. The existing Dorset Inuit disappeared and were completely replaced by the Thule Inuit. It must have sucked to be Dorset.

CO2: Ice Cores vs. Plant Stomata

CO2: Ice Cores vs. Plant Stomata. More Christmas Guest pudding! Geologist David Middleton takes on the “Warmista Junk Science”. I think he was a classmate. [Update: No, thank god] How depressing to see him parroting the decrepit “Hockey Stick” aspersions and casting about for excuses to prefer weaker data that ‘suggests’ results that suit his purpose.

Ironically David reflexively deplores “Mike’s Nature Trick“, which boils down to plotting temperature proxies over just the period for which they can be demonstrated to be reliable, but mimics it in his arguments. He tries to deprecate the widely accepted ice core data by combining sparse, erratic, leaf stomata temperature proxies and the insensitive (10 million year increments!) GEOCARB III geochemical model of Phanerozoic atmospheric CO2. This apparently requires lots of very busy charts to give the impression of analysis, but lets him simultaneously claim that ice cores don’t capture the variability the way the stomata proxies allegedly do and that the ice core CO2 is too low in CO2 when compared to the monotonic GEOCARB III data. Nice “trick”.

After all those charts, what is David’s compelling “analysis”? Wishful eyeballing.

In his conclusions David repeats the debunked denialist claim that the “carbon cycle lags behind the climate cycle and thus does not drive the climate cycle” and that “anthropogenic contribution to the carbon cycle since 1860 is minimal and inconsequential.” Yeah, the carbon cycle lag was true over geological time when organic productivity was linked to natural climate variation. The problem now is that carbon release by man has turned the feedback response into the driver and is proceeding at a rate that is an order of magnitude faster. Claiming that the anthropogenic contribution is minimal is just a baseless assertion. Plugging your ears and singing “lalalalalala” isn’t going to change these things.

This is just another case of a denialist who can’t find a successful argument resorting to fabricating one, and David has embraced as many old denialist themes as he can. Naturally he’s greeted by the usual thoughtful exclamations of his Copernican brilliance in the comments that will one day be embarrassing to read. I suppose that in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, but why do so many of Anthony’s readers feel compelled to praise such pedestrian efforts? It seems like a hollow attempt at self-reassurance.

What argument could David have made about ice core data without exposing his bias? That they are not sensitive to short-term CO2 variations. Unfortunately this would lead to a new question: so what?

Lump of coal award: to IPCC lead author Kevin Trenberth for hiding the decline (or the lack of increase) in global temperatures

Lump of coal award: to IPCC lead author Kevin Trenberth for hiding the decline (or the lack of increase) in global temperatures. Alec Rawls awards Kevin Trenberth a lump of coal for not picking his words perfectly in a causal e-mail that was later stolen. Fair enough, right?

Alec will have to answer to Santa directly for his deliberate new misrepresentation of Trenberth’s remarks.

Upcoming paper in Nature – Greenland ice sheet melt: “it’s weather, not climate”

Upcoming paper in Nature – Greenland ice sheet melt: “it’s weather, not climate”. Anthony Watts tacks a fabricated quote onto a press release about a pending UBC paper in Nature on the behavior of Greenland’s ice-sheet. Somehow this makes the paper denialist ammunition.

So surges in meltwater can overwhelm existing drainage capacity and hence accelerate ice flow. Well, that’s it for Global Warming, isn’t it? Clearly all glacial melting is simply due to a decades-long series of random weather events.

IPCC Official: “Climate Policy Is Redistributing The World’s Wealth

IPCC Official: “Climate Policy Is Redistributing The World’s Wealth. This one’s a bit out of order, but Anthony Watts’ world government paranoia is just to classic to pass up. Anthony has received instructions from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a denialist lobby group, that he should suggest to his readers that an IPCC official has admitted that Climate Change policies are really just a way for environmentalists and their cronies to steal money from decent Americans.

But what did Ottmar Edenhofer really say (italics mine)?

Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.

First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.

That sounds like commie talk to me! Or, maybe, it sounds like rationality. There are serious economic implications to attaching the real costs of carbon emissions to the industries and products that generate them. And the transfer he is talking about is from carbon-intensive industries to… humanity. Read some intelligent comments about this at Rabett Run.