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.

Get Ready for an Annular Solar Eclipse

The rarest type of solar eclipse is going to occur in the U.S. in May. It occurs on Sunday, May 20. The path of the eclipse and timing are illustrated below:

click to enlarge

An annular eclipse is just like a total eclipse except it occurs when the moon is farther away from earth than usual. So, instead of a completely dark sun, you get a tiny yellow circle around the dark moon (see below).

We had a full annular eclipse visible from Wichita in 1994. The sky turned a very dark blue and the stars came out. The temperature dropped noticeably. You will have to have welder’s glass or a similar suitable viewing device.

I’m presenting this now, so if you’d like to see this rare event, you can make plans to go to the Southwest. Climatologically, the best area would be from New Mexico, west, where rain and thunderstorms are rare in late May. It will be visible from Albuquerque, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park (easy to access from Las Vegas) then northwest to the California-Oregon border.

The band from ABQ to Zion is, statistically, the best area for viewing. Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is a great way to get to Flagstaff, Winslow, Kingman, the Grand Canyon, and (don’t forget) Winona.

Farther east, it is tornado season on May 20th and thunderstorms might block your view.

Personally, I’m one for two on solar eclipses.

For the Wichita ’94 eclipse we dedicated WeatherData’s new office in the Farm Credit Bank Building. We had a spectacular day!

Three years earlier, I took our family to the July, ’91 total solar eclipse in Hawaii. Being a meteorologist, I did careful research as to the best place to watch (the eclipse would take place at 8am). That was on a boat in the channel between Maui and Hawaii where the totality would be longest. Being on the leeward side of the mountain, statistically, should have given us the best chance of clear skies.

So, the Smith Tribe got up at 4am, got on the boat with the other astronomical adventurers and we watched it get completely dark — under a rainy overcast!

Everyone on the boat was very disappointed, and some were crying, at the lost opportunity. My family, like everyone else, was very disappointed and grumbling about having been awakened so early to see so little.

As we pulled into the docks, my son, Brandon, said to me, “Well, Dad, I had a good time.”

I gratefully replied, “THANK YOU, Brandon!”

He quickly added, “Not!”

There were numerous other fiascos during that family trip. I kept waiting for Harold Ramis to contact us wanting to buy the rights to the story.

My advice: If you take children, make sure you have a second memorably fun thing to do. So, if Mother Nature does not cooperate, expedition will not always be known as The Trip Where Dad Dragged Us to the Middle of Nowhere and We Didn’t See Anything!

I’ll wrap up this posting with, Take it away Lindsay Buckingham!

Important Story About the Lack of ‘Global Warming’

If you read a single story about ‘global warming’ (or lack thereof) this month, please read this one. Some highlights:

He [Dr. Nicola Scarfetta] believes that as the Met Office model attaches much greater significance to CO2 than to the sun, it was bound to conclude that there would not be cooling. ‘The real issue is whether the model itself is accurate,’ Dr Scafetta said. Meanwhile, one of America’s most eminent climate experts, Professor Judith Curry of the  Georgia Institute of Technology, said she found the Met Office’s confident prediction of a ‘negligible’ impact difficult to understand.

‘The responsible thing to do would be to accept the fact that the models may have severe shortcomings when it comes to the influence of the sun,’ said Professor Curry. As for the warming pause, she said that many scientists ‘are not surprised’.

She argued it is becoming evident that factors other than CO2 play an important role in rising or falling warmth, such as the 60-year water temperature cycles in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

‘They have insufficiently been appreciated in terms of global climate,’ said Prof Curry. When both oceans were cold in the past, such as from 1940 to 1970, the climate cooled. The Pacific cycle ‘flipped’ back from warm to cold mode in 2008 and the Atlantic is also thought likely to flip in the next few years .

Pal Brekke, senior adviser at the Norwegian Space Centre, said some scientists found the importance of water cycles difficult to accept, because doing so means admitting that the oceans – not CO2 – caused much of the global warming between 1970 and 1997.

The same goes for the impact of the sun – which was highly active for much of the 20th Century.

‘Nature is about to carry out a very interesting experiment,’ he said. ‘Ten or 15 years from now, we will be able to determine much better whether the warming of the late 20th Century really was caused by man-made CO2, or by natural variability.’

I’ve always been skeptical that CO2 is the driving force in climate as claimed by Al Gore and the IPCC. But, to me, here is the bigger concern:

Solar cycle 24 is expected to have lower than average energetics.
Cycle 25, in the words of one astronomer, is “off the charts low.”
I’ve circled the two cycles in question. 

There is no question there is a growing number of astronomers (including some at NASA) who believe the current and predicted drop off (to record low levels) of solar activity is a sign of danger. The Little Ice Age is believed by many to have been triggered by the low solar activity of the Maunder and Dalton Minima. The predicted Cycle 25 would be even lower than during those two periods.

Will this occur? No one knows. We have been (foolishly in my view) focusing our climate research almost exclusively on CO2 rather than solar effects. The irony, of course, is that if the sun were to cause a great cooling, the added CO2 in the atmosphere would, at least to an extent, mitigate the cooling!

If I were a policymaker, I would be spending diverting resources to research to learn to grow high-yield crops with shorter growing seasons plus other measures that could mitigate the effects of a colder world. Otherwise, we may face the starvation that occurred in the late 1960′s and 70′s, the last time earth’s temperature cooled. Only today, the world has more mouths to feed than it did 40 years ago. A significantly cooler climate, without mitigation, is a catastrophe waiting to occur.

Hadley Center earth temperature data since 1850.

The cooling period (circled) was when The Population Bomb and Famine 1975! were written. The impetus was the millions who starved (remember Biafra, for example?) and the crop failures in Russia, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

So far, the U.S. has spent more than $80,000,000,000 (and counting) on global warming research. It is long past time to take some of this money and put it into researching and possibly mitigating what could be a far bigger problem: global cooling.

We don’t have a cooling — or warming — crisis at present. Am I predicting cooling? Actually, no. I do not believe we know enough to make that prediction.

But, with world temperatures flat to cooling for well into a second decade and with the improved confidence in predictions of low solar activity, I urge the U.S. to start diverting funds earmarked for warming research into urgent research for mitigating cooling — should it occur. 

We can’t breed hardier crops overnight. The time to start on this is now.

The Solar Storm

From the Wall Street Journal online:

Delta Air Lines Inc. said Tuesday that it was rerouting some transpolar flights between Asia and the U.S. to avoid the impact of the largest solar storm in almost a decade.
The Atlanta-based carrier said some flights to Detroit from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul took a more southerly routing on overnight flights, though a spokesman said planes flew faster to keep schedules intact. Tuesday departures from the U.S. were expected to follow similar routes.

The solar storm has been the topic of a great deal of interest here at the AMS meeting (see below).

This Will "Unsettle" the Science!

headline from The

The head of Russia’s Sun Sector Research, Dr. Habibullo I. Addussamatov, at Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences believes that — due to the very low level of solar activity the past few years — we are going to begin 100 years of cooling.

The English version of his paper is here. It is only moderately technical, so please feel free to read it for yourself.

I’ve blogged on this topic before, as recently as June, 2011. The number of scientists who believe the problem is cooling is steadily growing.

Significant cooling would be far worse for humanity than warming – I doubt any reasonable scientist would disagree with that statement. The science is far from settled!

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

What We Didn’t Hear Yesterday

Now that we have begun a new decade since the attacks of 9/11, I believe it is time to take a fresh look at the TSA and airport security.

As a person who has spent an entire career developing techniques to save lives and manage risks, the expenditure of $57,000,000,000 on airport security is at best excessive and at worst largely a waste.

What do I mean as “excessive”? Given that cockpit doors are locked and that passengers would fight back against any attempt to hijack a plane, spending that amount of money — given the far more serious threats we are hardly addressing — is nonsensical.

We just saw 46 deaths and (preliminary estimate) $15,000,000,000 in damage due to weak Hurricane Irene. Just imagine what a category 4 hurricane (which occurred in 1938) could do to the Northeast given today’s population!  Want $10/gallon gasoline? Just put a cat 3 or greater hurricane into the Houston Ship Channel. We have put too many fuel production eggs in that basket. These are just two examples where some smart planning and investment of small sums could greatly lessen our society’s vulnerability.

And, there are huge — huge — threats that are not even on most people’s radar. A giant solar storm or an EMP attack would, given our complete lack of preparation, take us back to 1870. That’s right, 1870: No electricity. Our homes and businesses would be dark, our modern autos would not run, we could not pump gas and your local pharmacy would quickly run out of medicine. The power would stay off for months.

As Sen. John Kyl said in 2005:

The Sept. 11 commission report stated that our biggest failure was one of ‘imagination.’ No one imagined that terrorists would do what they did on Sept. 11. Today few Americans can conceive of the possibility that terrorists could bring our society to its knees by destroying everything we rely on that runs on electricity. But this time we’ve been warned, and we’d better be prepared to respond.

That was six years ago and nothing has been done.

There is a bill before Congress to address this threat by reinforcing the electric grid that I believe should be passed immediately.

It is time to stop the expansion of airport security and the TSA. That is fighting the last war.

We need to direct the vast sums of money for new TSA body-scanning machines into better disaster preparedness and fixing these huge vulnerabilities.

Yet Another Reason to Have a Home Disaster Center…

…with at least seven days of water and food, batteries, flashlight, fire extinguisher, essential medicines, etc. I try never to let my gas tank get too close to empty.

Why do I bring this up? NOAA is again warning of the danger of a major solar storm which is very similar to the threat posed by a EMP bombs…which has been a major topic in the blogsphere the last few days (see here and here for just two examples).

Does China have an EMP bomb? Heck if I know. I’ll let President Obama worry about it.

But, to us, it does not matter: the basics of disaster preparedness are pretty much the same, regardless of the threat. The art and science of being able to cope with disasters is, by definition, the ability to cope with the unexpected. Just be prepared to be self-sufficient for an extended period of time — then live your life with the peace of mind preparedness brings.

If You Like to Get Into the Science of Global Warming…

…there is a post that will be of great interest to you at Judy Curry’s blog. The conclusion is that the atmospheric sensitivity to a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration is 1.6°C. As you know, my guesstimate is 1.5°C, so it is very similar to the figure I use.  If those values are indeed correct, it means that GW is not a major problem.

And, here’s more…

There is a new paper out that says (paraphrasing), “the more you know about science, the less you believe in global warming.” I read the paper (so you don’t have to) and while the authors have a large survey sample as these things go, the paper suffers because the authors seem convinced that not believing in GW is a bad thing. That leads to some rather tortured reasoning in the latter parts of the paper.

The true believers over at Real Climate have a posting about the now-widely forecast solar minimum (something you’ve been reading about here since the earliest days of the blog in 2009). The posting is informative and balanced until author Gavin Schmidt says,

According to these results, a 21st-century Maunder Minimum would only slightly diminish future warming. Moreover, it would be only a temporary effect since all known grand solar minima have only lasted for a few decades. Critics of this result might argue that the solar forcing in these experiments is only based on the estimated change in total irradiance, which might be an underestimate, or that does not include potential indirect amplifying effects (via an ozone response to UV changes, or galactic cosmic rays affecting clouds). However, our model reproduces the historic Maunder minimum with these estimates of solar irradiance.

Considering that we have, at best, rudimentary observations of solar activity in the 17th Century and no real understanding of why the sun behaves as it does, it seems an extreme act of faith to be touting how well their model (computer simulation) reproduces a Maunder minimum-type event.

His faith in his model leads Gavin to proclaim that the atmosphere will still warm even if a solar event of the Maunder magnitude occurs. Given how bad his (IPCC’s) forecasts have been over the last ten years, it stretches credulity to believe he can make accurate forecasts given major changes in the condition of the sun. This is especially true since his forecasts are already too warm without the sun going completely into a funk. There is more on the topic of the IPCC’s forecasts versus reality here.

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.”