I Like “Forecast the Facts” “No” Video

Forecast the Facts” is an activist group that is attempting to “influence” television meteorologists to shill on behalf of global warming.  When you get to their home page they ask if the visitor believes that there is “solid evidence the earth is warming” (present tense).

Of course, the correct answer is “no.” The graph below — from the pro-global warming Hadley Center — demonstrates unquestionably that no warming has occurred for the past fifteen years. If anything, there has been cooling in the last six.

Temperature departure from long-term average from Hadley Center, Great Britain.

So, I clicked on “no.”

It then goes on to tell us that a growing number of people doubt global warming (correct!) and then it tells us 2011 was a “record year” for extreme weather. Since the topic is “global” warming and since they show hurricanes, let’s take a look at that claim. Here is the global hurricane index for both all and major (lower line) through 2011.

Dr. Ryan Maue's Global Hurricane Index

Notice it isn’t even close to a record for either category.  

So, I agree with its conclusion in the video that fewer people than ever believe in catastrophic global warming — and, for good reason.

I congratulate “Forecast the Facts” for recognizing that fact. 

More Concern About Global Cooling

Is the first decade+ of the 21st century the warmest in the past 100 years (as per Peter Gleick’s argument)?  Yes, but the very small positive trend is not consistent with the expectation of 0.2C/decade provided by the IPCC AR4.  In terms of anticipating temperature change in the coming decades, the AGW dominated prediction of 0.2C/decade does not seem like a good bet, particularly with the prospect of reduced solar radiation.                             —- Dr. Judith Curry, Climate Scientist

WattsUpWithThat has run two recent articles pertaining to the threat of global cooling. Based on my research, significant cooling would be far worse for humanity than warming.

The first article, by Dr. Nicola Scafetta, discusses the linking of solar-lunar cycles to earth’s temperature.

IPCC's 2007 forecast. The upper and lower bound of the of the green is the "95% confidence" interval (i.e., IPCC is 95% confident the monthly temperatures will fall within the green band). The blue is the sun-moon cycle forecast.

The IPCC’s forecast is failing miserably. Only 16% of the months since 2007 are within the green band when 95% are supposed to be within it. All of the misses are on the cold side. If the IPCC is too warm at four years then they are likely too warm at 40 years.

The second forecast is by David Archibald who forecast the solar slowdown far before it happened. It is downright frightening. Major cooling will cut world agriculture production.

David Archibald's forecast of the shifting corn belt as a result of global cooling induced by the sunspot cycle.

Finally, there is a third forecast of cooling, available here.

As I have said before, I have no idea whether the forecasts of cooling, warming, or status quo will be correct. I am confident the IPCC’s 2007 and, especially, 2004 forecasts are too warm.

How Good Are the Climate Models?

This blog has been highly critical of the computer models that are used to forecast future climate. A review article, just out, says:

There should be little confidence in climate models. The model simulations fail in their attempts to provide credible quantitative estimates of future climate change, on regional, or continental, or global scales. The models have shown little to no ability to reproduce observed features of current climate and past climate changes. Confidence in model estimates is greatly overstated by the IPCC for the most common of climate variables (e.g., surface temperature) used to present the supposition of manmade global warming. 

Details here.

Undoubtedly, climate models will begin to show skill at some point in the future. But, at this point, there is no reason to give them any credibility.

Breaking News: That Big Yellow Thing in the Sky Affects Climate!

From meteorologist Paul Hudson at the BBC:

For as long as I have been a meteorologist, the mere suggestion that solar activity could influence climate patterns has been greeted with near derision.
Quite why this has been the case is difficult to fathom. But it’s been clear for a long time that there must be a link of some kind, ever since decades ago Professor Lamb discovered an empirical relationship between low solar activity and higher pressure across higher latitudes such as Greenland.
Perhaps the art of weather forecasting has become so dominated by supercomputers, and climate research so dominated by the impact of man on global climate, that thoughts of how natural processes, such as solar variation, could influence our climate have been largely overlooked, until very recently.

We have come full circle — that what I was taught about climate at the University of Oklahoma in the early 1970′s is now thought of as a new revelation.  Here are some of the headlines out of the British Meteorological Office (until now, strong global warming advocates) this past week:

BRITAIN is set to suffer a mini ice age that could last for decades and bring with it a series of bitterly cold winters. And it could all begin within weeks as experts said last night that the mercury may soon plunge below the record -20C endured last year. Latest evidence shows La Nina, linked to extreme winter weather in America and with a knock-on effect on Britain, is in force and will gradually strengthen as the year ends. It coincides with research from the Met Office indicating the nation could be facing a repeat of the “little ice age” that gripped the country 300 years ago, causing decades of harsh winters.–Laura Caroe, Daily Express, 10 October 2011
Some scientists predict that the Sun is heading for a long slump in solar activity known as a Grand Solar Minimum. If this happens, it is possible that Britain could return to conditions similar to those 350 years ago when sunspots vanished during “the Little Ice Age”, when ice fairs were often held on the frozen Thames in London. –Paul Simons, The Times, 10 October 2011

So, what have the people of Great Britain* learned this week?

  • The sun’s output affects the climate
  • That if solar output drops too much, the earth could have another Little Ice Age. 
Reader’s of this blog have known about the solar = climate link since almost its beginning two years ago and I, most recently, posted a three-part series on this very topic
It is important to note that significant cooling of the earth is far more serious than warming. If growing seasons shorten, given earth’s record population, mass famine may result. 
Click to enlarge. Slide from my global warming presentation.

During the latter part of the period of world cooling from 1944 to 1978, there were multiple, major crop failures that caused millions of deaths due to famine. Given the much larger population of earth today, shorter growing seasons would mean a worse repeat of the famines of the ’70′s.

*The U.S. media has largely ignored this important story.
Hat tips to: Bishop Hill and Anthony Watts

The "Nina," "Pinta," and the "Global Warming"

Just when you think the pro-global warming movement could not come up with anything more ridiculous, they manage to out-do themselves. Article from Science News:

He goes on to say,

Mr. Nevle inadvertently makes the case to continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere. The effects of a Little Ice Age today would be catastrophic given the much larger population of the world. With the shorter growing seasons many millions would starve.  The effects of another ice age, little or otherwise, would make global warming seem like a picnic.

More on the potential for global cooling on the blog tomorrow morning.

Correcting Misconceptions About ‘Global Warming’

Readers of this blog have brought to my attention certain things alleged during the (just ended) 24 hours of Al Gore. Because of all of our new readers (thank you!) let me summarize the science of some of things brought up as “major concerns” and why I do not view ‘global warming’ as a major environmental problem.

Temperatures Continue to Warm
No, they do not. Atmospheric temperatures peaked in 1998 and have showed no warming since.

The more important metric of earth’s temperature is ocean heat content. It has been stable since about 2003:

It is not correct to say that “earth’s temperatures are rising.” They are not.

Sea Levels

“sea levels are rising”

For some reason, when I go to YouTube to capture the discussion about accelerating sea levels so I can repost it here, the video skips past that part of the discussion. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it that the panel discussed a half meter rise in the next 50 years.

There is no evidence that sea level rise is accelerating.

University of Colorado

In order for sea levels to rise half a meter in the next 50 years, the rate of increase would have to more than double. There is no sign that will occur. Here is the more recent data which shows sea levels are falling.

sea level has been falling the past year (purple circle)

There is absolutely no sign of an acceleration in sea level rise. 

The Computer Models That Forecast “More Extreme Weather”
The computer models have consistently forecast too much warming over the last 20 years and have shown little or no skill at forecasting regional trends. For a discussion go here and here.

As documented on this blog on numerous occasions, hurricane numbers and intensity are trending down not up.

There is no evidence the weather is becoming more extreme and the computer models have no skill at making those types of predictions. 

So, if you are concerned about these topics due to comments made during the event, you can rest easy.

This May Be Serious

On several occasions (here and here, to cite two examples), I have blogged about the quiet sun and the potential for it might cause global cooling. Even scientist friends of mine who are global warming advocates privately admit that significant cooling would be worse for humanity than warming. But, they quickly add, there’s no chance of that happening (or words to that effect).

Anthony Watts has a posting up that several researchers believe the sun’s funk is not over and that we might go into another Maunder Minimum. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

The concept became notable after John A. Eddy published a landmark 1976 paper in Sciencetitled “The Maunder Minimum”.[1] Astronomers before Eddy had also named the period after the solar astronomer Edward W. Maunder (1851-1928) who studied how sunspot latitudes changed with time.[2] The periods he examined included the second half of the 17th century. Edward Maunder published two papers in 1890 and 1894, and he cited earlier papers written byGustav Spörer.
Like the Dalton Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Maunder Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures.

World per capita food production is currently at record levels in part enabled by longer growing seasons due to the warmer temperatures (as opposed to the late 1960′s and ’70′s when hunger was widespread).  But what if there was sustained cooling as with the other solar minima? The earth simply could not grow enough food to sustain current population levels. 
I’m not saying that will occur, but the odds certainly are not zero. If Maunder and similiar solar minima have occurred in the past, they will occur in the future. 
There is so much evidence accumulating that a problem might exist, that even National Geographic – one of the most vocal of the global warming proponents — is printing it. 
But, they can’t let go of global warming. Below the headline they write,

“We have some interesting hints that solar activity is associated with climate, but we don’t have any reasons for that association,” said Dean Pesnell, project scientist for NASA‘s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
Also, even if there is a climate link, Pesnell doesn’t think another grand minimum is likely to trigger a cold snap.

Solar activity might be associated with climate? Dr. Pesnell (education in physics, not atmospheric science) needs to take a meteorology 101 course.
When it comes to the atmosphere, there are few things I will guarantee but one is that there is an association between solar activity and climate. We may not understand it but we know it exists. It is past time to put all the focus on the effects of global warming and start thinking about how we feed the world in case cooling occurs.

I will credit Dr. Pesnell with popping one of the major pro-GW balloons:  The science is hardly ”settled.”

A Better Way Forward in Climate Risk Assessment

“Recent research and observations of the climate system have shown that the climate system is more complex than concluded in the 2007 IPCC WG1 report, and, moreover, is not evolving as predicted by the multi-decadal global climate models. Moreover, these models do not appear to be capable of providing skillful predictions of regional and local societally and environmentally important impacts in the coming decades. Examples and reasons for this lack of forecast skill are presented…

As an alternative approach, we are developing a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability assessment perspective. There are 5 broad areas that we can use to define the need for vulnerability assessments : water, food, energy, human health and ecosystem function. Each area has societally critical resources. The vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to these resources from climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risk from natural- and human-caused climate change (estimated from the GCM projections, but also the historical, paleo-record and worst case sequences of events) can be compared with other risks in order to adopt the optimal mitigation/adaptation strategy. Examples of this approach will be presented.”

The above is from an abstract to his paper,

“A Way Forward In Climate Science Based On A Bottom-Up Resource-Based Perspective”

that he presented at Wageningen University in the Netherlands yesterday.

Global Cooling, Part 3 of 3

We are hearing that Great Britain is experiencing the coldest December in 1,000 years.  We also know that atmospheric temperatures more or less stopped warming in 1998 and ocean heat content (the more important metric of the earth’s temperature) is steady or slightly falling.  These measurements are markedly different than the forecasts of warming made by the International Panel on Climate Change, the group cited by most global warming proponents.
As discussed in Part II, what if these indications of cooling are just that: Signs of cooling? Since many (see here and here) are advocating cooling and desire to spend tremendous sums of money to make it happen, I must ask if this is a situation where we need to be careful what we wish for.
What might be the source of the cooling? Less energy from the sun.
When I was in meteorology school, before satellites measured the sun’s output from above the earth’s atmosphere, we were incorrectly taught about “the solar constant.” That is, the sun’s output was thought to be the same year after year, in spite of astronomers observing a variety of sunspot changes over the centuries.
Some thought the number of sunspots might affect the weather but they were generally outside the mainstream of scientific thinking. 
Now, we know the sun’s output varies. Still, the IPCC has generally thought the effect of the sun’s changes on climate are minimal. 
Looks like we are about to find out whether the IPCC’s hypothesis is correct. 
Below is a forecast of sunspots made by the National Oceanic and Administration in 2006.   Sunspot numbers were predicted to peak at about 150 in early 2010.  That forecast is the solid white line below. The dotted white lines indicate the “confidence interval,” that is NOAA was 95% confident the actual value would fall between the two dotted lines (i.e., a peak between 130 and 170).
The blue line is the sunspot numbers up until last month (latest available data). To put it mildly, the original forecast was wildly inaccurate.
More importantly, the previous solar cycle (the one that peaked in 2001) lasted much longer than normal and some scientists believe that, in itself, is a sign of cooling.  Other scientists believe there are connections between both cosmic rays and clouds and/or the sun’s magnetic output (which is currently at very low levels) are tied to earth’s temperatures.
To demonstrate what appears to be a strong correlation, please look at the graph of world temperatures for the last 2,000 years. 
Now, I have focused on the last 500 years of temperature data and put it next to graph of sunspot activity. There appears to be a strong correlation. 
Closeup of Temperatures the last 500 Years
The solid black line is the sunspot number. Temperatures (compare to graph above)
plummet at the Maunder Minimum with a
 secondary drop associated with the Dalton Minimum.
There are astronomers that are predicting that we are starting to experience another “Dalton Minimum.” If so, and if the correlation of sun to earth’s temperature is correct, major cooling may indeed occur.
Since a significant number of environmental groups want cooling to occur, it must be a good thing, right?  Hardly!
Here is a chart of earth’s temperatures (as measured by thermometers) since 1850.
Note the cooling that occurred from about 1945 to 1978.  This is when the MSM, and some of the same people that have been recently warning of warming, were warning of cooling.
The mid-century cooling correlated with starvation and the worst,
in terms of loss of life, hurricane in history. Click to enlarge.

When temperatures reached their nadir, world food supplies severely contracted and major starvation – involving millions of people – occurred.  

Books like The Population Bomb and Famine 1975! were written explaining that the world would have to blockade select nations and allow their populations to starve to death so that others could survive.  The Population Bomb begins,

The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970′s the world 
will undergo famines — hundreds of millions of people will starve to death. 

Horrible famines occurred in the 1970′s but ended. Why? The unexpected warming of earth’s temperatures combined with The Green Revolution.  Warmer weather means longer growing seasons; more CO2 in the air means crops grow more efficiently, and – in some cases – crops can be grown over larger areas of the world.
Today, while there is of course starvation in the world, it is not due to absence of food. There is sufficient food today to feed everyone. But, corrupt governments and faulty distribution prevents some of it from getting to the people who need it.
But, what about the future?
Given our experiences in the late 1960’s and 1970’s – and a larger world population today – it is likely that mass starvation would again commence if temperatures were to drop to the levels of the Dalton Minimum (DM).  We simply could not grow enough food in the colder climate. In a DM scenario, the extra CO2 in the atmosphere might a form of “insurance” keeping temperatures warmer than they otherwise would be.
I have no opinion whether this will occur. As pointed out in Part II, no one has demonstrated skill in forecasting future climate. But, as a person who is a strong advocate of mitigating  risks, we cannot focus solely on the risk posed by global warming when the apparent consequences of significant cooling are far more serious. 
The bottom line: As my friend Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., says, we need to build a more resilient society to extremes of weather – regardless of what those extremes might be. 

Global Cooling, Part 2 of 3

Among many in the climate science community, global warming is a given. There is no consideration given to the earth losing heat and cooling.
But is the chance of cooling really zero?  And, if it is not zero, what might the implications of cooling be? This is Part 2 of a three-part essay on global cooling. Part 1 is below.
Lets examine whether the “consensus” regarding continued warming is well-founded. 
World history is made up of cooling periods and warming periods. Here is a graph of temperatures for the last 2,000 years:
The Roman Warm Period was in progress at the time of Christ. Temperatures plummeted a few centuries later. Rome fell as civilizations relocated to escape the cold.
Temperatures warmed again about a thousand years ago. During the Medieval Warm Period, wine grapes were grown in Newfoundland and Leif Ericson set up a settlement in Greenland (which he described as “green”).  Over the next few centuries, temperatures dropped so much that the glaciers advanced and the world experienced the Little Ice Age. Temperatures have been in recovery mode since.
It is very likely that humans have influenced temperatures and other aspects of climate, especially in the past few decades as fossil fuel use has increased. Because of solar activity, volcanoes, cosmic rays, and climate feedbacks (i.e., other factors equal warmer temperatures equal more clouds which should produce cooling) it is impossible, at the present state of the science, to know the exact extent of man’s influence.
Climate scientists attempt to investigate the extent of man’s influence through the use of climate models. The models are complex computer simulations of the atmosphere, the ocean, the sun, and demographic trends.  The value of these simulations is limited because, to cite just one example, we don’t understand the role of clouds and tiny dust particles in regulating incoming solar radiation and outgoing “long wave” radiation. With so much about the sun, cosmic rays, and other influences not understood, the models cannot be relied upon to make accurate forecasts (see Part 1 for examples of wildly incorrect climate forecasts). In fact, the models are so unreliable, we do not use them to make 90-day climate forecasts. How can we believe they can make accurate 90-year forecasts?
It is not just my opinion that the forecasts are unreliable.  You can download a 2007 paper from The Wharton School that concludes, “We have been unable to identify any scientific forecasts to support global warming. Claims the earth will get warmer have no more credence than saying it will get colder.”
Mainstream climate scientists are starting to agree. Within the last week, Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. writes:
There is no evidence that the global climate model multi-decadal predictions (and even shorter term runs on a year or less into the future) have the needed skill. [to make accurate forecasts]
My conclusion: There is no demonstrable skill at forecasting climate. 
With that background, lets ask a question:  What if all of the recent evidence of colder weather means just that:  The earth is starting to cool.
Now, I want to clearly state: I don’t know whether the earth’s heat content will increase, decrease, or stay the same in future decades. Neither does anyone else.
As a risk management professional, I’m asking whether major cooling or warming is the greater threat and should we prepare for either? 
I’ll offer some thoughts tomorrow.

UPDATE: New Year’s Eve. Here is an article about botched environmental forecasts

It Isn’t Just Your House/Neighborhood/Town!

Everyone’s perception of rain/snow “splitting before it gets to us.”
(click to enlarge)  Cartoon courtesy of xkcd.com/831/

It seems that, from coast to coast, I get asked about whether there is some feature that “causes the weather to split” in the questioner’s locality. Of course, there are areas like the Hawaiian Islands where the upwind side of the islands get a lot of rain and the leeward sides get less. This is normal in mountainous terrain. This discussion is about the flatlands.

Here in Wichita, the culprit that causes “the Wichita split” is believed by many to be the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers downtown. But, these splits rarely exist.

Thunderstorm twenty miles from my backyard.

The problem is that we can see more weather than we experience.  For example, take three equally-sized thunderstorms that move across exactly one third of your county at one hour intervals. Everyone receives the same amount of rain.  Yet, you’ll likely perceive you “missed out.” Why? Because you saw three thunderstorms but only experienced one of them.

Yes, there are such things as random “pocket droughts” where areas (by coincidence) miss out on a number of rains and local dry conditions develop. Over time, those even out.

Better Computers, Better Forecasts (But Not Right Away)

NOAA has announced its new computer facility which will be used to improve weather and climate models.

Meteorologists use the computer models as “guidance” in formulating the final forecasts that are seen in the media and provided by commercial weather companies. This new facility will continue the gradual improvement in day-to-day forecasts we have seen the last 15 years. One caution, dramatically better forecasts will not occur overnight. It is more of a “brick by brick” process.

Nobody Out Here But Us Rubes

The New York Times does it again, criticizing the good citizens of the U.S. about “flunking climate 101” when it is the editors who don’t seem to know the science.

According to the NY Times, the following statements are unequivocally true:

As the report’s authors found, 42 percent of those surveyed “incorrectly believe that since scientists can’t predict the weather more than a few days in advance, they can’t possibly predict the climate of the future.”

climate models can accurately predict the future

How absurd.  The climate models (see a few posts down or click here), as even climate scientists themselves say are, at best, primitive. We have no way of knowing how good the predictions of climate models will be in 50 years. But, since we do know they cannot accurately predict the climate of the next year (even in the aggregate), it is absurd to state as fact that they have skill decades into the future. 

The article further goes on, regarding the results of the poll,

And one-third [of U.S. citizens] believe, incorrectly, that most scientists in the 1970s were predicting an ice age.

Since I’m not sure what “scientists” means here (all scientists, climate scientists only?), the fact is that many were. The following is quoted verbatum from Time of June 24, 1974:

As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Telltale signs are everywhere —from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest.Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html#ixzz12TziabLr

[side question: if it was OK for Baffin Island to be snow-free then, why is it not OK now?]

To expect the average citizen to know the exact percentage of “scientists” who were predicting global cooling in 70′s (more than three decades ago) is — again — absurd.

Go ahead and read the Times’ article. I think you’ll agree with me that it reveals a citizenry that is remarkably well informed and balanced in a complicated area of science.  

Roger Pielke, Sr. on Climate Policy

Roger has a great post of climate-related hypothesis (somewhat technical) at his blog this morning along with a statement of basic policy positions. The posting is here. I agree with each of these:  

There are several policy implications from these conclusions:
  1. The presentation (and funding of model simulations) of regional climate impacts decades into the future is flawed science. It represents a waste of money as there is no demonstrated predictive skill on this time and space scale, or, in fact, any opportunity to validate these predictions until these decades have passed.
  2. A focus on CO2 as the dominate human climate forcing is also a flawed, incomplete scientific perspective. It can easily lead to policy decisions that are costly yet accomplish little if anything in terms of actual mitigation of the role of humans in the climate system.  Policies focused on controlling the emissions of greenhouse gases must necessarily be supported by complementary policies focused on other first-order climate forcings.
  3. Climate policy is not synonymous with energy policy. While there are indeed overlaps,  much of these two topics are separate from each other.
  4. Integrated assessments within the framework of vulnerability, with an emphasis on risk assessment and disaster prevention, offer an underutilized approach to climate issues (e.g. for water resources see].

Number three cannot be overemphasized. There are many good reasons to start moving toward smarter energy sources regardless of climate issues.