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Major Science study: Observations confirm “the short-term cloud feedback is likely positive”

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"Major Science study: Observations confirm “the short-term cloud feedback is likely positive”"

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Trenberth explains, “The work is sound and is a very useful contribution,” while Roy Spencer makes an unsound response.

Changes in clouds will amplify the warming of the planet due to human activities, according to a breakthrough study by a Texas A&M University researcher.

Andrew Dessler, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, says that warming due to increases in greenhouse gases will cause clouds to trap more heat, which will lead to additional warming. This process is known as the “cloud feedback” and is predicted to be responsible for a significant portion of the warming over the next century….

“I think we can be pretty confident that temperatures will rise by several degrees Celsius over the next century if we continue our present trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.”

A major new study in Science, “A Determination of the Cloud Feedback from Climate Variations over the Past Decade,” (subs. req’d) uses observations to answer what is probably the most important uncertainty in the climate models:  What is the feedback from clouds?

Now we can be confident the feedback is likely positive, and exceedingly unlikely to be negative enough to counter the many other positive, amplifying feedbacks.  In short, as Dessler says, “This work suggests that climate models are doing a pretty decent job simulating how clouds respond to changing climates.”  Recent studies have come to a similar conclusion — see Journal of Climate: New cloud feedback results “provide support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity.”

Because this is such an important issue — and because this study should be the final nail in the coffin of the central denier myth that the climate has a low sensitivity to CO2 — this post includes two videos explaining the study, an exclusive comment on the study by one of the leading experts on the cloud feedback (NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth), and Dessler’s debunking of the laughable conspiracy-laden response by a discredited disinformer (Roy Spencer).

Perhaps the most important point about the study is that it is the first of its kind based on actual observation, as the Texas A&M news release quoted above explains:

Dessler used measurements from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument onboard NASA’s Terra satellite to calculate the amount of energy trapped by clouds as the climate varied over the last decade.  He also used meteorological analyses provided by NASA’s Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Here is Dessler explaining the study in a short video:

As Dessler notes of the cloud feedback issue, “There’s never been a measurement of that using observations.”

Dessler put together a more technical videos — with charts — explaining the study (click here):

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, is one of the leading experts on cloud modeling.  He had been critical of some recent studies on the cloud feedback effect, so I asked for his thoughts on this study.  He replied:

The work is sound and is a very useful contribution.  It is a foil to some of the misleading work that Richard Lindzen has published (and which we have shown is wrong).  Kudos to Andy Dessler for trying to do this and doing it as well as it can be done.

He also offered some advice for improving the study, which I passed on to Dessler, and made the point about “the preliminary nature of the result owing to the short data record and the weather noise.”

Lindzen has been pushing the “clouds are a negative feedback” theory with bad analysis for a long time — see Lindzen debunked again: New scientific study finds his paper downplaying dangers of human-caused warming is “seriously in error”;  Trenberth: The flaws in Lindzen-Choi paper “have all the appearance of the authors having contrived to get the answer they got.”

Lindzen isn’t the only discredited disinformer desperately trying to push back against the tide of scientific analysis and observations.  Science magazine’s story, “El Ni±o Lends More Confidence to Strong Global Warming,” notes:

[Dessler's] result is “convincing evidence” that””at least on the scale of decades””clouds do not counter warming, says climate researcher Brian Soden of the University of Miami in Florida….

“This is a very important check of the models,” says climate researcher Qiang Fu of the University of Washington, Seattle. “It shows no evidence of a large negative cloud feedback.” But climate researcher Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, disagrees. He published one of the two papers finding evidence of a strongly negative cloud feedback. He finds in his own analyses signs that Dessler is seeing not only cloud changes caused by temperature changes but also temperature changes caused by natural cloud fluctuations. Such effects garble the true negative feedback beyond recognition, he says.

Spencer’s “interpretation is wrong,” says Soden, but even if Spencer were right that there’s a cause-and-effect problem, Dessler’s method of comparing observations and models “eliminates some possibilities, such as the models being egregiously wrong. It’s about as good as we can do with current data sets.”

Few of the climate science disinformers have been as wrong — dead wrong — as Spencer for as long.  He famously made a bunch of analytical blunders and spent years pushing the now long-overturned notion that the satellite data didn’t show significant warming (see “Should you believe anything John Christy and Roy Spencer say?“).  As RealClimate explained:

We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming , and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing “” indeed encouraging “” the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.

So after that history, we’re supposed to savor all Roy’s new cookery?

So I think the working assumption should be that when Spencer pushes some convoluted new analysis to justify his views, it’s more cookery — an assumption that has so far stood the test of time as Spencer’s claims have grown more absurd over time [see The Great Global Warming Blunder: Roy Spencer asserts (and Morano parrots), "I predict that the proposed cure for global warming - reducing greenhouse gas emissions - will someday seem as outdated as using leeches to cure human illnesses." Uhh, guys, doctors still use medicinal leeches!]

Yet more outrageous charges can be found in Spencer’s latest blog, “The Dessler Cloud Feedback Paper in Science: A Step Backward for Climate Research.”  Dessler easily swats aside the substance of what Spencer says in a new post on RC:

Dr. Spencer is arguing that clouds are causing ENSO [El Ni±o southern oscillation] cycles, so the direction of causality in my analysis is incorrect and my conclusions are in error.After reading this, I initiated a cordial and useful exchange of e-mails with Dr. Spencer (you can read the full e-mail exchange here). We ultimately agreed that the fundamental disagreement between us is over what causes ENSO. Short paraphrase:

Spencer: ENSO is caused by clouds. You cannot infer the response of clouds to surface temperature in such a situation.

Dessler: ENSO is not caused by clouds, but is driven by internal dynamics of the ocean-atmosphere system. Clouds may amplify the warming, and that’s the cloud feedback I’m trying to measure.

My position is the mainstream one, backed up by decades of research. This mainstream theory is quite successful at simulating almost all of the aspects of ENSO.

Dr. Spencer, on the other hand, is as far out of the mainstream when it comes to ENSO as he is when it comes to climate change. He is advancing here a completely new and untested theory of ENSO “” based on just one figure in one of his papers (and, as I told him in one of our e-mails, there are other interpretations of those data that do not agree with his interpretation).

Thus, the burden of proof is Dr. Spencer to show that his theory of causality during ENSO is correct. He is, at present, far from meeting that burden. And until Dr. Spencer satisfies this burden, I don’t think anyone can take his criticisms seriously.

It’s also worth noting that the picture I’m painting of our disagreement (and backed up by the e-mail exchange linked above) is quite different from the picture provided by Dr. Spencer on his blog. His blog is full of conspiracies and purposeful suppression of the truth. In particular, he accuses me of ignoring his work. But as you can see, I have not ignored it “” I have dismissed it because I think it has no merit. That’s quite different.

Snap!

Spencer goes the full X-Files — hey, folks said I was using “jump the shark” too much — on his blog:

Dessler’s paper is being announced on probably THE best day for it to support the IPCC’s COP-16 meeting here in Cancun, and whatever agreement is announced tomorrow in the way of international climate policy.

I suspect – but have no proof of it - that Dessler was under pressure to get this paper published to blunt the negative impact our work has had on the IPCC’s efforts.

This is tinfoil-hat stuff.

No single scientific paper — not even a major one like this — could possibly influence the meeting in Cancun, which is the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), not IPCC!  There are hundreds and hundreds of scientific papers that provide more than enough motivation to act — including more than three dozen in the last year alone, see “A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice” and “Royal Society special issue details ‘hellish vision’ of 7°F (4°C) world — which we may face in the 2060s!

Dessler writes:

I would also like to respond to his accusation that the timing of the paper is somehow connected to the IPCC’s meeting in Cancun. I can assure everyone that no one pressured me in any aspect of the publication of this paper. As Dr. Spencer knows well, authors have no control over when a paper ultimately gets published.

In fact, the key phrase Spencer uses is one that pretty much sums up his entire body of work, especially his claims that the climate sensitivity is low:  “I … have no proof of it.”

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81 Responses to Major Science study: Observations confirm “the short-term cloud feedback is likely positive”

  1. mike roddy says:

    Excellent summary, thanks. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard the last of Lindzen and Spencer. They’ve been proved wrong before, and weren’t man enough to issue retractions.

  2. Michael says:

    Speaking of feedbacks, a recent study (from NASA!) claims that increased plant growth will be a negative feedback:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-12/nsfc-cp120710.php

    However, that seems doubtful because it doesn’t appear to account for increased droughts, heat stress, extreme weather and ocean acidification, as you have covered recently. Never mind the model shows a warming of less than 2°C per doubling of CO2 – without the feedback (which is only -0.3°C). Reminds me of the claims of increased growth because “CO2 is plant food!”:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/07/29/nature-decline-ocean-phytoplankton-global-warming-boris-worm/

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/08/19/climate-science-nasa-drought-drives-decade-long-decline-in-plant-growth/

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/10/20/ncar-daidrought-under-global-warming-a-review/

    [JR: Yes, a very dubious analysis. Post coming.]

  3. Lou Grinzo says:

    Mike: Of course they won’t back down. Why should they when they have an (ideologically) captive audience cheering their every word?

    What bothers me about this paper and the constant drip of “it’s worse than we thought” findings is that they don’t sort themselves into neat little categories, conveniently isolated from one another. Human beings tend to fall in love with our compartmentalization of reality, to the point where we often underplay or completely overlook the interactions between “different” forces at work. When we finally take several steps back and let all the little colored tiles in the mosaic resolve into a complete picture, it can lead to some jarring realizations, possibly even (dare I say it) alarm.

    Luckily, we (finally!) seem to be devoting more gray cells to that broader view and looking at the energy/water nexus (which I think should really be the energy, water, climate, food nexus) and, more generally, sustainability. More than ever, I’m convinced that the most important single book for people concerned about such things is Limits to Growth. And for those interested in doing something about it, especially here in the US, a close second to LtG is Merchants of Doubt, even though it will make you want to punch holes in walls.

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    Greenland Ice Sheet Flow Driven by Short-Term Weather Extremes, Not Gradual Warming, Research Reveals

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101208172318.htm

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    Michael @ 2 -
    The “Happy Plant Theory” works just fine , until the 3 feet of rainfall bus runs over it.

  6. Rob Honeycutt says:

    What always gets me about the skeptics who claim low climate sensitivity (Spencer, Lindzen and others) is how that position completely disagrees with any of the ice core records. I mean, if climate sensitivity is as low as Spencer and Lindzen claim then you’d never get glacial-interglacial periods. They have no mechanism to explain any record in the paleoclimate.

    Dessler’s done a great job here of lending some real world data to support the models. I look forward to seeing more data come out on this topic.

  7. Sailesh Rao says:

    Michael #2: The study shows that deliberately improving plant and tree growth today will have a beneficial effect. We don’t have to wait for doubled CO2 to induce better plant growth – reduced land foodprints can do the same as well.

  8. MapleLeaf says:

    In what capacity is Spencer in Cancun? Private citizen, shill for the “skeptics”? Anyone know who paid for his ticket….

  9. Former Skeptic says:

    Spencer: ENSO is caused by clouds.

    My first reaction to this:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    I could not believe it and had to read the email exchange on RC to see it with my own eyes. Spencer cannot be serious!

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    The “Happy Plant Theory”

    Of all the bull@%it ideas , none has taken it on the chin this year like this one.

    ” Palm oil has rallied 36 percent this year, headed for its second straight annual advance, on optimism that rising demand in China may strain global supplies curbed by rain and drought in producing nations. Global demand for eight vegetable oils will exceed output for the first time in eight years in 2010- 2011 and China’s import reliance is at “an alarming level,” Oil World said in a Nov. 19 report. ”

    Wheat is up 46 % this year.

    If it grows the price has jumped , check out the Cotton Daily Price :

    http://www.indexmundi.com/commodities/?commodity=cotton&months=60

    The idea that we’ll be eating more food because CO2 will make plants grow bigger and better is as dead as an armadillo on the interstate.

  11. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #9: What’s your problem? It’s well known that first the Sun and then the Earth were formed from clouds. The rest follows naturally! :)

  12. MarkB says:

    Nothing wrong with a scientist putting forth a hypothesis, even something as weird as ENSO being primarily caused by cloud changes. When they fail to gather any evidence for it and instead use it to criticize the work of others, and claim that work is being done for political reasons, they just look silly (heralded by ideologues of course).

  13. L. Carey says:

    MarkB @12 I think you are being very generous in your assessment of Spencer’s “novel” position on ENSO – “silly” is not the first term that pops into my mind.

  14. Mike says:

    The story is in Science News and Science Daily. USA Today now has an article.

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/12/clouds-climate-change-global-warming-negative-feedback-science/1

    After discussing the study they go on to Spencer’s response and play it as a he said she said. But the reporter did not seek out Spencer. Spencer is sending out e-mails to journalists.

    “Climate change skeptic Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, in an e-mail sent to journalists today … [said] … the only clear evidence of feedback found in his analysis of the same satellite data was of strongly negative cloud feedback.”

    I think it is essential to let the MSM know how far outside the mainstream Spencer is. Framing!

  15. Rob Honeycutt says:

    I have admit, I’m with former skeptic. The whole “clouds drive the ENSO” line is a real facepalm.

  16. Bryson Brown says:

    It may be irrelevant, strictly speaking, but Spencer is an advocate of ‘intelligent design’ and a skeptic about (natural) evolution too. Ignoring evidence and dismissing hypotheses you don’t like gets easier with practice, I suspect.

  17. MapleLeaf says:

    Spencer is way, way over the line here. He is desperately looking for attention– emailing journalists and calling press conference to berate someone else and their research?

    I defended Spencer when he invested so much efforts convincing fellow “skeptics” that the Greenhouse effect is real. In fact, he gained some respect form me during that episode. That respect has now evaporated– perhaps it is in a cloud somewhere.

    Spencer claims the negative feedback is in operation now? Really? Umm, the reality suggests otherwise– long term rates of warming are unchanged from those in the 80s, and the most recent 30-yr trend is the highest at any time since 1880 (GISTEMP).

    To prove Dessler wrong, Spencer has to demonstrate that the delayed oscillator effect– well established as being the cause of ENSO events– is wrong. So far Spencer has provided very little evidence to support his hypothesis. He is wading into very deep waters here and it could totally sink his reputation. Or, he is right and he has made a huge contribution to science.

    I’m betting on the former outcome. To overturn a theory requires exceptional evidence, and Spencer has not delivered the goods.

    In short, Dessler shows that there is very likely a short-term positive feedback, and perhaps, a very small negative one. So even if the feedback is negative, it is so small that it is likely going to be inconsequential in the greater scheme of things.

  18. Steve Bloom says:

    Bob, as far it goes the method of using a model to isolate the magnitude of a specific feedback is fine. We need that information for all of the feedbacks. What seems shaky about these results (I haven’t read the paper) is the claim that they can calculate sensitivity accurately even though they have only partial information on countervailing feedbacks (e.g. wildfire). Also, the low sens models (I suspect they used an EMIC rather than a GCM) are on very shaky ground. But the most peculiar thing is the claim in the press release that this is a “new” feedback. Obviously it isn’t.

    Joe, on the subject of the low sense GCMs (I suspect a low sens EMIC would have the same problem built in), see this recent paper (title/conclusions pasted below) from Knutti and colleague showing that those models are getting Arctic warming wrong, which mean they’re getting it wrong globally. He seems to be on something of a campaign to get them eliminated from the IPCC ensemble. Also, as this is a pretty tricky subject, maybe try getting a response from the new fast response science team.

    Ocean heat transport as a cause for model uncertainty in projected Arctic warming

    In summary we show that the northward ocean heat transport contributes largely to the uncertainty in future Arctic climate projections based on correlations across the CMIP3 models. There is always a possibility that correlations occur by chance, or that they reflect that all models make similar simple assumptions. But we have demonstrated that the correlations across multiple variables provide a consistent picture and can be understood in terms of physical processes. Furthermore, the climate of the Arctic is determined by multiple components and processes that are represented quite differently in the various models. We are therefore confident that the correlations are indicating real differences in the physics of the models.

    Comparing the CMIP3 Arctic temperature simulations with observations suggests that the expected Arctic warming is rather at the upper end of the simulated range because mean simulated temperatures of 1981-2000 are generally 1-2K too low compared to corresponding observations (Chapman and Walsh 2007). The Barents Sea is an exception with a cold bias of 6-8K (Chapman and Walsh 2007). Increasing model resolution on average indeed leads to more accurate results in case of Arctic climate simulations. The median of the cold composite of the amount of grid cells covering the area 60◦N- 90◦N is 768 compared to 4608 of the warm composite. We showed that the warm composite models simulate the current Arctic climate more accurately than the cold composite. Note that the resolution of a model may only be part of the story, as resolution is often also correlated with the overall complexity of a model. The number of people working on it, the experience in building a model, the amount of computational power and the amount of money spent on model development are also important factors for a model are expected to be correlated with resolution. Excluding the low resolution models in this specific case reduces the spread in future projections. This implies that the true future polar warming is likely to be at the upper end of the simulated range by the CMIP3 models. The lower end of the polar warming projections is then moved up from about 2.5K to about 4K. This means that a temperature increase of about 4-8K is expected by the end of this century in a SRES A1B scenario. (emphasis added)

    That’s a big change indeed. Note that this conclusion would carry over to the current generation of models.

  19. Steve Bloom says:

    Oops, in one place in my last comment I said “low sense” instead of “low sens,” but I suppose they both work. :)

  20. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #16: “I defended Spencer” More proof that Canadians are polite to a fault! :)

  21. Greg says:

    What’s the necessary plug-in for this QuickTime video. My latest version still requires it. Thanks!

  22. catman306 says:

    Will someone please refresh my memory and provide another example of negative feedback in our present day climate change situation besides volcanic dust?

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    Here’s that phrase again -
    ““We’ve never seen it like this before; it just keeps on coming,” farmer Philippa McGaw said on Thursday after her Crookwell, New South Wales, property received 150 millimetres in 18 hours. ”

    Australia battles worst floods in decades

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article941485.ece

  24. Colorado Bob says:

    A continuation of the pattern of much above-average Atlantic hurricane activity we’ve seen since 1995 is on tap for 2011, according to the latest seasonal forecast issued Wednesday by Dr. Phil Klotzbach and Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State University (CSU). They are calling for 17 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. An average season has 10 – 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 intense hurricanes. The new forecast is a very aggressive one, since only six seasons since 1851 have had as many as 17 named storms; 19 seasons have had 9 or more hurricanes. The 2011 forecast calls for a much above-average chance of a major hurricane hitting the U.S., both along the East Coast (49% chance, 31% chance is average) and the Gulf Coast (48% chance, 30% chance is average).

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1708#commenttop

  25. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #21: The big one is the “Planck feedback” that results from the atmosphere losing more heat to space as it warms. Clouds are the other big one, although as we see it’s now clear that it’s trending positive. An example of a small one is the recent slight increase in Antarctic sea ice, which increased albedo a bit. Desertification is in part a negative feedback, also due to increasing albedo, although the loss of the vegetation itself is a positive one due to CO2 lost to the air and a reduction of the vegetative sink; I can’t recall what the net effect is. This isn’t a complete list, but I think it’s representative. Unfortunately it’s much easier to recall the positive ones.

  26. Steve Bloom says:

    I almost forgot to mention, catman, volcanic dust is a forcing, not a feedback (since it’s not a change resulting from something else in the climate system).

  27. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #23: Jeez, is Phil *still* on the payroll there? Hard to believe…

  28. Ed Hummel says:

    Roy Spencer’s ludicrous positions can be traced back very easily to the fact that he is a creationist who also happens to believe that laissez faire capitalism is God’s gift to humanity. His arguments and thought threads are all shaped by the fact that he doesn’t have any use for paleoclimate studies because of his religious beliefs. That’s why he can make such claims on climate sensitivity that fly in the face of what the paleo studies show. He spelled it all out in black and white in a book he published a few years ago. I can’t remember the name of it off the top of my head, but maybe someone else has come across it and can remember the title. I remember starting to read it since I wanted to know just why a supposedly legitimate climate scientist with an extensive background in government and academic research could hold such contrarian views. It only took me a few paragraphs to realize I was reading the same worn out ideas that I had read in creationist literature. Eventually, he finally admitted that one could not believe any paleoclimate data or studies since no one was actually there to record what happened! That’s one of the principal creationist arguments against interpreting the fossil record. But what really floored me was his assertion that the most important chapter in a book that was supposedly about climate was the one in which he “explained” the “laws” of free enterprise, laissez faire capitalism!!!! That assertion alone was enough to make me question anything Roy Spencer says about anything. Maybe it’s just prejudice on my part, but I’ve never understood how a real scientist could also be a creationist and completely reject all the historical sciences which happen to include a huge mass of human knowledge about how the universe works. Anyway, that’s my humble take of Dr. Roy Spencer.

  29. Ed Hummel says:

    I just looked up Spencer’s book that I read a few years ago and it’s called Climate Confusion. I noticed also that he just came out with a new book called The Great Global Warming Blunder that is being touted by Anthony Watts on his WUWT blog. Enough said!!!

  30. Colorado Bob says:

    Google News search -

    “The central evidence contained in the paper is weak at best, and seriously misleading at worst,” Spencer wrote of the paper in reply to a query.
    more by Roy Spencer – 5 hours ago – Houston Chronicle (2 occurrences)

    http://news.google.com/news/more?pz=1&cf=all&ncl=dJ3bnA62OHLNxyM0CA7i_egCaYVLM&region

  31. Ed Hummel says:

    Oops, I just noticed that Spencer put out his “Blunder” book last April, so I imagine that some may have already known about it. He has the gall to claim that the reason the vast majority of climate scientists hold that external forcings are the major drivers in climate change is because they overlook the fact that internal perturbations lead to changes in cloud cover which then lead to changes in albedo, etc. I know that the cloud effects are his and Lindzen’s pet ideas on any minor changes in climate that happen. But to accuse everyone else of ignoring such a basic phenomenon and not even taking it into account is criminal!! When is this guy going to finally be disgraced into oblivion?

  32. Steve Bloom says:

    Note that my comment 17, describing some interesting new results on sensitivity, just cleared moderation.

  33. MapleLeaf says:

    Steve @31 and17,

    “He seems to be on something of a campaign to get them eliminated from the IPCC ensemble.”

    Can you please elaborate on that? Are you referring to Knutti wanting to eliminate AOGCMS from AR5?

    As for their work suggesting of higher EQS, that is very scary. Right now a strong negative cloud feedback would very welcome…pity that the data and physics are suggesting otherwise.

  34. Barry says:

    On feedbacks, Hansen points out in his book and talks that the earth’s history shows that feedbacks have been reinforcing in both directions in the short and medium term.

    Cooling trends cause self-reinforcing cooling feedbacks and warming trends cause self-reinforcing warming.

    Ice albedo is one example. Permafrost carbon sink/source is another. Water vapour. And so on.

    I think he says that warming tends to be quicker and cooling slower in part because you can melt ice faster than you can build it up.

    In the long run there are feedbacks that slow and stop both warming and cooling. Rock weathering for CO2 removal for example.

    Lots on this in his book “Storms of my Grandchildren”.

  35. Barry says:

    Hansen talks about the size of the CO2 sink on landmasses and how that has increased so far with increasing CO2 and warming.

    He says the data shows that the continents and oceans have removed about 45% of fossil CO2 for decades. This sink rate has stayed fairly constant despite our increasing volume of fossil CO2.

    This means that oceans and continents are absorbing MORE CO2 as the years go by. As warming has increased and CO2 increased the ocean/land sinks have increased the amount of CO2 they take up.

    He says the ocean sink is pretty well measured to be about 30% I believe, meaning that the land masses are absorbing more CO2 as the years go by…and that the absolute size of the land sink has been growing.

    He says this is one of the few bright spots for hope in getting atmospheric CO2 back to safe levels.

    So maybe this is what NASA is getting at. A projection that this trend continues?

    The problem clearly is that major ecosystems are experiencing tipping points, like pine forests in western N.A. from beetles, boreal forests from fires, amazon from drought and fires and so on.

    As far as food is concerned that is a different issue. The fact that plants on land masses seem to be increasing CO2 uptake doesn’t mean food crops do well. It just talks about net primary productivity which could be anything.

  36. Marco says:

    MapleLeaf @8: Spencer is in Cancun on the CFACT payroll, just like Monckton.
    http://www.heraldonline.com/2010/12/09/2678072/meet-the-skeptics-at-cfacts-cop16.html

  37. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #32: Yes. That, or require them to be rewritten to eliminate the problem. The difficulty is that there’s a lot of prestige involved in having a model in the CMIP ensemble, so some serious politics will be involved with making such changes. But if they’re wrong, they’re wrong. Just look at the Barents now.

    Re #34: Figures.

  38. MapleLeaf says:

    Marco @34,

    Thank very much. Oh dear, so Spencer has tied his wagon to Monckton and Maorano? CFACT does a good job on its site of making their goals sound admirable and laudable, they do sound like admirable goals, but then they go and pay for Monckton and Morano? Something doesn’t add up. Either they are a front group or seriously misguided and have been duped by Monckton’s lies.

    Did some digging. Advisory members include Seitz, Michaels, Baliunas…

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Committee_for_a_Constructive_Tomorrow

    Joe, do you know about this revelation? Perhaps some digging needs to be done. Spencer may now be firmly entrenched in the politics.

  39. MapleLeaf says:

    Steve @35,

    Thanks. Hmm, I have a lot of respect for Knutti, so if he is suggesting removing the crap CMIP members, I am all for it. Or, as you say, they need to address the issues. Most models seem to be grossly underestimating the Arctic ice loss and that is obviously a huge issue and that in turn has knock-on effects.

    PS: Marco, my post to you is stuck in moderation.

  40. Some European says:

    Good powerpoint video by Dessler.
    He sounds like a very good communicator. Add him on the team alongside Alley et al.
    When Schneider left the team, I really thought nobody could fill in the gap, but it turns out there are still some pretty talented people around to take over his job.

    Indeed, I had never heard of the lapse-rate feedback. Everybody raise your hands if you had.

    His conclusion that this is sort of the final nail in the science-based lukewarmer coffin seems very correct. However, that’s not going to win over Spencer, Michaels or Lindzen anymore, since they’ve lost track of science a while ago.

  41. Sou says:

    I do wish Spencer could come and stop global warming here. We’ve just come out of the longest, driest, hottest drought ever, with more and larger fires than ever before recorded. Now we’re having record rain dumps. I measured about 190mm in about 12 hours, more than twice the monthly average in just half a day. No-one in the town had ever seen anything like it – and many of us are oldies! And that’s just one day of many this season, albeit the most rain of all of them. Flood after flood and the most widespread ever seen here in Australia. La Nina usually means wet here, but not usually this wet.

    Climate change is here and now. I don’t understand those who can’t see it happening, if not where they live then they must see it elsewhere in the world – the Arctic, Pakistan, Russia etc etc.

  42. Prokaryotes says:

    Related

    The Venusian atmosphere supports opaque clouds made of sulfuric acid, making optical observation of the surface impossible. Information about the topography of Venus has been obtained exclusively by radar imaging.

    The atmosphere of Venus is in a state of vigorous circulation and super-rotation.[5] The whole atmosphere circles the planet in just four Earth days, much faster than Venus’ sideral day of 243 days. The winds supporting super-rotation blow as fast as 100 m/s (~220 mph).[5] Venusian winds move at up to 60 times the speed of the planet’s rotation, while Earth’s fastest winds are only 10% to 20% rotation speed

    Venus’s sulfuric acid rain never reaches the ground, but is evaporated by the heat before reaching the surface in a phenomenon known as virga.[34] It is theorized that early volcanic activity released sulfur into the atmosphere and the high temperatures prevented it from being trapped into solid compounds on the surface as it was on the Earth.[35]

    The clouds of Venus are capable of producing lightning much like the clouds on Earth. The Venusian atmosphere has been found to be sufficiently out of equilibrium as to require further investigation

    Through studies of the present cloud structure and geology of the surface combined with the fact that the luminosity of the Sun has increased by 25% since around 3.8 billion years ago,[42] it is thought that the atmosphere of Venus up to around 4 billion years ago was more like that of Planet Earth with liquid water on the surface. The runaway greenhouse effect may have been caused by the evaporation of the surface water and the rise of the levels of greenhouse gases that followed. Venus’ atmosphere has therefore received a great deal of attention from those studying climate change on Earth.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Venus#Clouds

    Venus has an extremely dense atmosphere, which consists mainly of carbon dioxide and a small amount of nitrogen. The atmospheric mass is 93 times that of Earth’s atmosphere while the pressure at the planet’s surface is about 92 times that at Earth’s surface—a pressure equivalent to that at a depth of nearly 1 kilometer under Earth’s oceans. The density at the surface is 65 kg/m³ (6.5% that of water). The CO2-rich atmosphere, along with thick clouds of sulfur dioxide, generates the strongest greenhouse effect in the Solar System, creating surface temperatures of over 460 °C (860 °F).[36] This makes the Venusian surface hotter than Mercury’s which has a minimum surface temperature of −220 °C and maximum surface temperature of 420 °C,[37] even though Venus is nearly twice Mercury’s distance from the Sun and thus receives only 25% of Mercury’s solar irradiance. The surface of Venus is often said to resemble Hell. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus#Atmosphere_and_climate

  43. J Bowers says:

    Re. #4 Colorado Bob: “Greenland Ice Sheet Flow Driven by Short-Term Weather Extremes, Not Gradual Warming, Research Reveals”

    Bob, that’s really scary given the amount of unusual positive temperature anomaly happening in Greenland.

  44. Mike Roddy says:

    Barry, #35:

    How good is the science indicating that the landmass sink is increasing? There is plenty of evidence indicating otherwise- it’s not just agriculture that is having problems with global warming, but forests, too, as you pointed out.

    I don’t know how they achieve these kinds of landscape scale measurements, and it’s possible scientists are only extrapolating. Can you enlighten us here?

  45. catman306 says:

    Thanks, Steve Bloom and Barry for bringing me up to date on negative forcings. Maybe snow cover in the northern hemisphere will help. If it doesn’t quickly melt.

    http://www.wunderground.com/US/Region/US/2xSnowDepth.html

    Lapse rate forcing
    Main article: Lapse rate
    The atmosphere’s temperature decreases with height in the troposphere. Since emission of infrared radiation varies with temperature, longwave radiation escaping to space from the relatively cold upper atmosphere is less than that emitted toward the ground from the lower atmosphere. Thus, the strength of the greenhouse effect depends on the atmosphere’s rate of temperature decrease with height. Both theory and climate models indicate that global warming will reduce the rate of temperature decrease with height, producing a negative lapse rate feedback that weakens the greenhouse effect. Measurements of the rate of temperature change with height are very sensitive to small errors in observations, making it difficult to establish whether the models agree with observations.[20] [21]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_feedback#Lapse_rate

  46. Esop says:

    If we look at the current channel 4 of Spencers very own UAH records, we can see that the temperature for the near surface layer is just about to break the all time high record.
    In addition , sea ice is currently at the lowest recorded for this date.

    This despite:
    -One of the most powerful La Ninas on record
    -Max cooling effect from the lowest solar minimum in more than a century
    -Negative PDO (this alone should have caused a dramatic temp drop according to most deniers)
    -Arctic air has flooded into lower latitudes, causing a strong cold bias in the measurements, since the resulting much warmer temperatures in large regions of the Arctic aren’t being measured by the satellites.

    It certainly looks like 2010 will be the hottest on record in Spencers dataset. He is probably not thrilled about it.

  47. darth says:

    The study Michael refers to in comment #2 above is already being reported:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/08/new_model_doubled_co2_sub_2_degrees_warming/

    The newspaper article’s conclusion:

    “It now appears, however, that the previous/current state of climate science may simply have been wrong and that there’s really no need to get in an immediate flap. If Bounoua and her colleagues are right, and CO2 levels keep on rising the way they have been lately (about 2 ppm each year), we can go a couple of centuries without any dangerous warming. There are lots of other factors in play, of course, but nonetheless the new analysis is very reassuring.”

    Expect to see and hear this replayed all over the place. Paging the rapid response team!

  48. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Give due credit.
    Talk of Knutti & “colleague” actually refers to the dissertation of Irina Mahlstein. You can find the whole dissertation online. The paper by Irina Mahlstein and Reto Knutti is from the dissertation.

  49. Mike says:

    From the plant paper: “All simulations … are carried out for 30 years forward.”

    The Register piece is BS.

  50. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Re # 2 – (“happy plants”) the press release makes too little sense. Has anyone seen the paper?

    Sensitivity = 3. Then a reduction of .3 is found, resulting in 1.94 That’s fancy arithmetic!
    Not to mention that no one can get sensitivity to three significant figures.
    As noted above, it is doubtful that plants will transpire less water in higher temperatures.

    Worse, the discussion is about energy from the sun that has already been absorbed rather than reflected. That energy will only leave our planet as IR radiation. If it is redistributed by a plant as latent heat this gets it higher in the atmosphere, so it might escape a little sooner. If as the paper predicts, less energy is immediately moved upward as latent heat, how could this reduce sensitivity?

    I hope the paper makes more sense than the press release.

  51. progressive engineer says:

    I saw this on Curry’s blog about the email exchange between Spencer and Dessler.

    http://geotest.tamu.edu/userfiles/216/emailExchange.pdf

  52. Michael T. says:

    NASA reports November 2010 as the warmest November on record:

    Data set:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

    Global map:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/do_nmap.py?
    year_last=2010&month_last=11&sat=4&sst=1&type=anoms&mean_gen=11&year1=2010&year2=2010&base1=1951&base2=1980&radius=1200&pol=reg

  53. Colorado Bob says:

    J Bowers @ 43 -

    Yep , it was 51F on the southwest coast of Greenland yesterday, and this pattern is nearing it’s 1 month mark. If Russia can have a 6 week heat wave in the high 90′s, so can Greenland.

  54. Mike says:

    I had to go teach a class. Here is the plant paper:

    http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/gl1023/2010GL045338/2010GL045338.pdf

    It may require a sub. Here is the free abstract:

    http://europa.agu.org/?view=article&uri=/journals/gl/gl1023/2010GL045338/2010GL045338.xml&t=gl,bounoua

    The simulations all start at 350 ppm and go to 700 ppm in 30 years. They compare their new model with two earlier models they developed in the late 1990′s. I am NOT a climatologist, but I do not think any of these models are meant to capture all known feedbacks. The authors just want to see the change in the plant feedback when they add in some new factors about how plants respond to CO2. It remains for others to incorporate the approach into the more realistic models. When this is done it is likely the projected rise in temperature with be a bit less (by 0.3C globally and 0.6C over land) then without this new plant feedback factor.

    They also note that after the 30 years more warming will come even if CO2 is held at 700 ppm.

    [JR: The study is pretty lame, all things considered. I'll do a post.]

  55. Colorado Bob says:

    Sou @ 41 -
    I have been following the events in Australia , hell man it’s wet at Alice Springs, but you folks haven’t really cooled off much over vast areas of the country ………

    http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/awap/temp/index.jsp?colour=colour&time=latest&step=0&map=maxextrm%2Fhi&period=week&area=nat

  56. Mike says:

    The Dessler paper is getting wider coverage. Time had a nice short piece, good for taping to the office door. The NYT gives Spencer some coverage but the context makes clear he is an outlier.

    http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2010/12/09/2923/

    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/12/10/10climatewire-new-theory-of-climate-effects-of-clouds-trig-50353.html

    The Times story points out the link bewteen Spencer and Morano: “Spencer appeared in Cancun accompanied by Marc Morano, founder of Climate Depot,…”

    Morano was the guy behind the Swift boat smearer. Look up the Esquire article on him.

    And this is from Wikipedia: Spencer states: “I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world… Science has startled us with its many discoveries and advances, but it has hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer.”

  57. Esop says:

    #43 (J Bowers). The Greenland temps are out of control. Pretty scary when the ice over there is still melting in December.
    It seems like mother earth is on a suicide mission, trying to convince the public that all is a-ok by sending frigid air into populated areas while the overall temperature is skyrocketing.
    On second thought: perhaps it is just a strategy of Gaia to get rid of those pesky parasites called humans.

  58. Esop says:

    #52 Michael:
    With GISS setting a November record, that means that 2010 could be on top for that dataset as well, and not only UAH.
    I expect that the MSM will make the November record front page news, just like they do every single day with the cold local temps in parts of Europe.

  59. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #35: “The fact that plants on land masses seem to be increasing CO2 uptake”

    True but misleading. Just a few months ago Joe posted on a paper by Zhao and Running showing that global land plant growth (Net Primary Productivity = NPP), after increasing from the start of measurements (IIRC in the mid-’80s) through about 2000, subsequently went flat to slightly declining. Due to an increasing drought trend in that period, there are fewer plants around to do the absorbing. Just such a trend is predicted, although we can’t be certain that this is it just yet. But it does illustrate neatly how countervailing factors can overwhelm a particular feedback. This actually reflects a well-known horticultural principle, Liebig’s Law of the Minimum (article in WP).

  60. Steve Bloom says:

    Sorry, Pete. When I typed that passage I hadn’t yet looked up the paper, and I couldn’t recall her name. I should add that when I refer to a campaign, I mean Knutti has a bunch of papers with a large variety of co-authors (including some quite big names, in particular from NCAR where he was a post-doc), all aimed at getting rid of the under-performing models.

    Also, re #50, as I mentioned above the plant paper used a low-sens model thst was down around 2 to begin with, so at least they got their sums correct. Their sins are doing that calculation at all and claiming (in the press release) that they’re describing a “new” feedback.

  61. Some European says:

    @51
    November hottest on record?
    What about Spencer’s +.38?
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/12/nov-2010-uah-global-temperature-update-0-38-deg-c/
    How can UAH and NASA be so far apart?
    Yes, I know what everybody’s thinking…

    But apart from that: how is it we are heating again during what seems to be the deepest La Niña in over 30 years?
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/people/klaus.wolter/MEI/

    Am I missing something here?

    This looks like yet another ‘faster than we thought’. Those GISS numbers are really scaring me.

  62. MapleLeaf says:

    Michael T @51,

    Wow, I must admit I am surprised by that global SAT anomaly for November. The UAH ch 5 temperatures plummeted from being at record highs in early November to being below average by the end of the month– but then again, we do know that the satellite data are very sensitive to ENSO events.

    GISTEMP says the period December 2009 until November 2010 was the warmest on record, easily beating the previous record set in 2005.

    Looking at the SATs, the global SAT anomlaies have been increasing since July 2010. In contrast, in 1998, the SAT anomalies peaked in June and then decreased until October when they bottomed out.

    In November 2010 the global SAT anomaly was +0.74 C, compared to only +0.42 C in 1998.

    The climate system is responding very differently to the transition from the recent moderate El Nino to this strong LA Nina, than it did to the transition from the super El Nino in 1997-1998 to the moderate La Nina in mid- to late 1998.

    My point of all this is where is this supposed strong negative cloud feedback that is meant to kick in? We have just had the warmest 12 months on record and the warming, according to NASA, continues unabated. What gives?

    I think we all here know what a big part of the answer is to the above questions…..

    Michael and readers I just saw this images on NASA’s Earth Observatory, Joe might also wish to highlight it:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=47628

    That images speaks for itself.

  63. Barry says:

    Mike Roddy #44, I got the info on land masses being increasing net sinks for fossil CO2 from pages 117-120 in Hansen’s book “Storms of my Grandchildren”.

    Data he quotes:

    8.5 GtC annual from fossil fuels
    —-
    4.5 GtC (55%) stays in atmosphere
    3.0 GtC (30%) goes into oceans
    1.0 GtC (15%) goes into vegetation and soils

    Hansen updates the critical charts from his book online. You can view the chart on airborne fraction of fossil fuel CO2 as figure 16 on his website here: http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/UpdatedFigures/

    This chart shows the seven year mean of CO2 airborne fraction has remained around 55% for many decades. This means 45% sink by oceans and land masses has been maintained for decades.

    If you read Hansen you find out he isn’t a big fan of climate models to determine stuff like this. He says models have their place, and he has worked on them for 30 years, but they don’t cover all the variations in the complicated climate. What he relies on is the earth itself. Both in the past and currently. As he says, it is the one “model” that includes every feedback gets everything exactly right.

    If you haven’t read his book, I highly recommend it. It covers a lot of climate science I never got elsewhere. Plus the political history of climate that he had front row seat on for decades is instructive.

  64. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #54: “The simulations all start at 350 ppm and go to 700 ppm in 30 years.” If so the +2C sounds better, but of course there’s no comparison at all to GCM sensitivity. It starts to sound like the press release is more the problem. Also, as I’m sure many here will know, that CO2 increase scenario describes an utter catastrophe. The only way such a thing could happen is via a major collapse of the sinks. The upshot is that it’s almost entirely unrealistic.

  65. MapleLeaf says:

    Some European @59,

    Good points. I know, very strange. The RSS “global” lower-troposphere anomaly for November 2010 was even lower than that for UAH at +0.312. Again, the satellite data respond quite dramatically to ENSO events, but I too am surprised about the magnitude of the GISS anomaly. We’ll have to wait until about 15 December when NCDC will release their numbers.

    The last time we had a La Nina event of equivalent strength to the current event was 1975-1976. In 1976 the mean global SAT anomaly was -0.16 C. Predictions for 2011 are calling for an global anomaly near +0.44 C (range +0.28 C to 0.60 C).

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/2010/pr20101202b.html

    Even if we come in at the low end of that range, that is still about 0.45 C warmer than the previous event. And there is a lot more aerosol loading in the atmosphere now because of pollution (i.e., cooling), and the sun is just emerging from a prolonged minimum…..

    I wonder how long until a moderate to strong La Nina year produces global SATs warmer than 1998? I’m thinking the 2020′s.

  66. Some European says:

    @MapleLeaf
    Just a minor correction: “GISTEMP says the period December 2009 until November 2010 was the warmest on record, easily beating the previous record set in 2005.”
    Shouldn’t that be: the previous record of June 2009 – May 2010? (I’m too lazy to look it up. If I remember correctly, that was the last time the 12-month running mean beat the record.)

    Isn’t GISS the dataset that extrapolates polar temps while others leave them out? So we might expect other numbers coming out to be slightly more moderate.

    There used to be a time when I secretly hoped for record temperatures because it would finally silence the deniers. Now that I know that it doesn’t have much of an effect, I just want to wake up from this nightmare.

    .74?? This can’t be happening!!

  67. Colorado Bob says:

    Current rainfall rates in the Hawaiian Islands, are 3 to 4 inches an hour . Looks like they’re going with the Australian method of curing a drought.

    http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/west/nepac/flash-wv.html

  68. MarkB says:

    Some European (#59),

    Aside from the baseline adjustment (what everyone’s thinking)…

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/notes

    woodfortrees hasn’t updated their data with November’s GISS value yet, but it would mark the first time the baseline-adjusted value is higher than UAH all year.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:2010/offset:0.24/plot/gistemp/from:2010

    This is mainly due to el Nino switching to la Nina. The full troposphere is more sensitive to large ENSO anomalies than the surface, as MapleLeaf points out. Expect surface temperatures to be generally above lower troposphere until at least la Nina subsides.

    This doesn’t really answer the question as to why GISS jumped while la Nina is firmly in place. On the other side of it, lower troposphere values are much higher than November of the last few la Ninas (1998, 1999, 2007). Too much noise (internal variation and statistical) to really come to any hard conclusions on monthly data. The other surface records might give a clue. The GISS monthly map indicates a very warm Arctic (sea ice seems to support that). Data sets that exclude the Arctic make the implicit assumption that the Arctic anomaly is the same as the rest of the world, which is naive.

    One can speculate that the cooling effects of a deep solar minimum have subsided, and of course atmospheric CO2 continues to increase.

  69. MapleLeaf says:

    Hi SomeEuropean,

    I am trying to post this while working on a paper. Sorry, my wording was not accurate and confusing– I was not referring to the 12-month running mean temperatures (I wish they would add a plot of that to the GISS site). The period November 2009 though 2010 was the warmest November though December period on record in the GISTEMP data (+0.65 C). Does that make more sense? Sorry for the confusion.

    “Isn’t GISS the dataset that extrapolates polar temps while others leave them out?”

    Yes, not ideal, but (IMHO) better than what HadCRUT does. For example, HadCRUT allocates the same anomaly to the high Arctic area as for the remainder of the globe. Quite frankly, without stations, the poles are going to be a problem, even the MSU satellite data do not cover them. The best we have now are the ECMWF-interim data. According to Screen and Simmonds (2010):

    “The trends at the near-surface (herein the atmospheric levels at 950–1,000 hPa) are +1.6, 0.9, 0.5 and 1.6 C per decade, averaged over the Arctic (herein latitudes 70–90 N) during winter, spring, summer and autumn, respectively.” [period 1989-2008]

    Source:
    http://sciences.blogs.liberation.fr/files/arctique-ann%C3%A9es-2000-tures.pdf

    Compare those numbers with the long-term rate of warming in global temperatures of +0.22 C per decade for the same period in the GISTEMP data!

  70. Some European says:

    Thanks MarkB and MapleLeaf for the responses which are frankly above my level of understanding. This way I can learn.
    The only conclusion I can draw so far from the GISTEMP – the color-coded anomaly map seems to support that – is that the Arctic must have fallen completely off the charts. As in: even worse than all the previous records.
    That’s what you call a death spiral.

    Enjoy the work on your paper!

  71. MarkB says:

    MapleLeaf writes:

    “Quite frankly, without stations, the poles are going to be a problem, even the MSU satellite data do not cover them. ”

    I don’t think this is correct. It’s true for RSS, which doesn’t cover north of 82.5. But UAH does. Someone more knowledgeable can chime in, but from what I understand, there are problems with satellite measurements at the poles – enough that RSS chooses not to include it.

    I believe the warming trend from UAH is nearly 1 C over the last decade in the Arctic, well beyond the global average.

    http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt

    These aren’t like comparisons, though. Theory predicts surface warming at the Arctic will be considerably more than higher up in the troposphere, when considering all combined historical forcings.

    See Figure 1c:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/tropospheric-hot-spot.htm

    All things considered, GISS extrapolation is likely to be pretty accurate and virtually certain to be more accurate than data that doesn’t include it.

  72. MapleLeaf says:

    SomeEuropean@ 68,

    Thanks and you are welcome. Yes, the Arctic amplification is really kicking in. Consequently the AO is going to drop off the charts again in a week or so. Given your handle/name, you might be interested to know that Europe (especially eastern Europe)is very likely going to be plunged, yet again, it into icy cold next early week. The eastern seaboard of the USA will also get hammered with unusually cold weather.

    Mother Nature has a weird sense of humour. Someone suggested using the term “climate disruption”, I was hesitant to adopt that at first, but now I’m beginning to think that term is quite appropriate!

  73. Steve Bloom says:

    The Arctic dipole should result in a relative warming of the Arctic and a relative cooling of the mid-lats (exactly what we’re seeing), which ought to result in a warmer GISS record and cooler sat records.

    The meteorological year is D-N, and is better than the calendar year for climate/weather statistics since it doesn’t split the winter season. GISS has the meteorological year as a separate column on their tabular data page (along with the calendar year), but they don’t do the running 12-month mean calculation there (nore does it get updated monthly AFAIK, but of course it can be calculated from the data easily enough). The running mean being the best of the lot, it would be good if they would include it in the tabular data and provide an updated graph.

    (ML, your comment said N-D.)

  74. MapleLeaf says:

    MarkB @65,

    Thanks. I did not know UAH included the poles– you learn something new every day ;) That might explain why the UAH data have been slightly higher than RSS of late (if I recall correctly, I’m doing this on the fly, but I recall that the trend of the UAH temps is higher than that for RSS since 2000). At the end of the day though, I think that RSS is much more reliable and superior than UAH.

    “All things considered, GISS extrapolation is likely to be pretty accurate and virtually certain to be more accurate than data that doesn’t include it.”

    I agree, but some “skeptics” use that as a point to try and discredit GISS.

    Anyhow, we probably should not go too far off topic and I need to get back at it.

    Have a nice weekend all.

  75. Michael T. says:

    MapleLeaf #60

    I was surprised as well. I was expecting the November anomaly to at least be lower than October. But 0.74 is the warmest November in the NASA record. The previous record warm November was last year, Nov 2009, at 0.68 when the ’09-’10 El Nino was intensifying. So we have a very strong La Nina now and this November breaks the record set last year with the moderate El Nino. 2010 will easily be the warmest calendar year on record.

  76. Russell says:

    Any alliteration antic as ‘Discredited Disinformer’ is fatally flawed- Joe must choose sides in the war against cliche’

  77. American_Idle says:

    Dessler added: “And as far as my interest in influencing the policy debate goes, I’ll just say that I’m in College Station this week, while Dr. Spencer is in Cancun.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2010/12/10/10climatewire-new-theory-of-climate-effects-of-clouds-trig-50353.html

  78. Some European says:

    Thanks all.
    The paper by Screen and Simmonds answers precisely the question I was going to pose (maybe in the weekend open thread).
    If I understand correctly, the albedo feedback plays a very large part in recent arctic warming. Which leads me to see this as yet another underestimated factor in climate sensitivity. I’m only a layman so I might be drawing the wrong conclusions here but it sure looks to me as though that’s very bad news. And the november anomaly confirms that.
    Brace yourselves. This century is going to be a bumpy ride.
    How ironic that the people who hold the keys to solving this problem are now being deluded by severe winters in their area. Nature isn’t making the enigma any easier for humans to solve.

  79. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Everybody-

    Looks like Dressler’s paper is available directly from his university:

    A Determination of the Cloud Feedback from Climate Variations over the Past Decade

    Also somebody posted information that Spencer is in Cancun at CFACT expense.

    Funding for CFACT:

    Media Transparency: Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow – Funders

    Looks like roughly half a million from ExxonMobil (that we know about, this source does not list contributions from private individuals) and roughly two million from Richard Mellon Scaife, major funder and instigator of the Clinton impeachment effort.

    Scaife often funds in apparent coordination with Koch and ExxonMobil, with regard to paid climate denier funding.

    So, yeah, CFACT funding puts it firmly in the paid climate denier camp, IMO.

  80. hi y'all says:

    I’m shocked and proud that this work is being done at the ultra-right wing university, Texas A&M. Thing is, climate scientists are largely honest people and this Dessler has some guts, as most of the Aggies would call his research a bunch of hoo-ha without ever reading a single word of it or listening to a second of his presentation. They are mostly right-wing ostrich heads in the sand.