Climate clippings 32

The sun up close, with sunspots

The little ice age cometh – not!

You may have seen the headlines:

“Three different lines of evidence suggest that the sun, which is expected to reach its maximum sunspot and magnetic activity in the current cycle in 2013, might even be entering a prolonged quiet period similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period from 1645 to 1715 in which virtually no sunspots were observed.”

While the SMH was quite responsible, Fox News maxed it up:

Global Warming Be Damned, We Might Be Headed for a Mini Ice Age

The New Scientist tells us that last year:

researchers modelled what would happen to global temperatures if a grand minimum started now and continued until 2100. They found that it would lower temperatures by 0.3 °C at most.

That isn’t a new ice age: it’s a slightly less severe heatwave.

Skeptical Science has more, including this graph:

Grand solar Minimum temperature projection

See also RealClimate.

Pole-to-pole flights gather the data vital to predict climate change

There are no satellite measurements of CO2, and scientists are no longer satisfied with measuring it at isolated places like Mauna Loa on Hawaii. So the “Hippo” project has been mounted to sample 50 to 100 substances in the atmosphere, including CO2:

It will fly in regular up-and-down swoops, rising from an altitude of 1,000ft to a maximum of 45,000ft, and back down to 1,000ft. Between Anchorage and Hawaii, for instance, it will complete 28 dips, taking 150 air samples with each swoop. It will fly over the entire Pacific Ocean as far as the polar regions 85 degrees north and 55 degrees south, covering an area as far west as Australia and as far east as the Gulf of Mexico.

The purpose is to create dynamic models of how gases and other substances are represented and move in the atmosphere in order to improve the sophistication of climate models.

Hybrid cars based on flywheels

New Scientist
reports on a new flywheel technology for hybrid cars based on flywheels rather than batteries. The flywheel is light, only 4.5 kilograms, but spins at up to 60,000 revolutions per minute to store energy recovered from the engine and braking. It does this in a vacuum, otherwise the friction would rip it apart.

The power is delivered back to the drive system via gearing based on magnets, which make no physical contact.


2010 data makes recent warming statistically significant

Back in February 2010 you might recall this interchange between Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and the BBC:

Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?

Yes, but only just.

Now, according to the New Scientist, the addition of the 2010 data makes the 1995-2010 trend statistically significant.

What Jones is really telling us is that if you want to understand climate trends look at longer periods. It’s just dopey to cherry pick short periods.

Institutional investors reluctant to deal with climate risk

According to an Investor Group on Climate Change report published this week, some 98 per cent of global asset owners see climate change as a material risk across their portfolios.

But this apparent level of concern hasn’t matched attempts to grapple with climate-related investment risks and opportunities. Only 57 per cent of the global players had managed to specifically refer to climate change in their investment policies.

For example, the $70 billion Future Fund has not discussed climate change at any formal meetings since 2007.

Arctic melting

In a sense the new findings of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), a working group of the Arctic Council, tell us what we already know – the melting of the Arctic and Greenland ice sheets is accelerating and the release of methane from permafrost is a worry.

The issue is to identify the “tipping point” at which “the melting of Greenland cannot be stopped any more”.

“Recent research seems to indicate it is lower than we thought. We thought it was around 3 degrees (Celsius) of [global] warming – and it’s quite likely we might reach 3 degrees. New research seems to suggest it is actually lower and it would actually be crossed at 2 degrees.”

They also estimate sea level rise by 2100 to be 0.9 to 1.6 metres, giving a medpoint, not a maximum, of about 1.2m.

Ocean heading for mass extinction

There was a link on another thread but in case you missed it the
oceans are in trouble from acidification, warming and dead spots where there is a lack of oxygen. It’s not just the ocean we need worry about. We face mass extinctions on the land also:

“If we barrel along as we are right now, there’s an increasing risk that we will be entering into one of these mass extinction events,” he said.

“This is where you essentially get a runaway set of conditions which will be very unsustainable as far as human or any other life that we have on the planet today.”

“This comes back to the fact that the ocean is central to the climate and conditions across the entire planet.”

Here are links for Radio Free Europe item, the project press release and the
Workshop Summary at State of the

Climate Progress has a post.

Research centre under fire for ‘adjusted’ sea-level data

This one keeps coming through in feeds, so we’d better deal with it. The University of Colorado’s Sea Level Research Group decided in May to add 0.3 millimeters, about the thickness of a fingernail, every year to its actual measurements of sea levels. The reasons relate to glacial isostatic adjustment.

Over the next century that would make a difference of about an inch.

If you were an evil scientist trying to cook the books, that isn’t how you’d go about it.

Meanwhile, scientists have constructed a proxy of sea level rise from the salt marshes of North Carolina. According to RealClimate they came up with a graph that looks a bit like a hockey stick:

North Carolina sea level proxy

Yes, Michael Mann was involved in the research.

42 thoughts on “Climate clippings 32”

  1. It’s not surprising that the Future Fund hasn’t discussed climate change, as chairman David Murray stated in a recent interview in the Fin that he thinks it’s all nonsense because carbon dioxide is essential to life – or words to that effect.

  2. Brian,

    Your report on flywheels in cars reminds me of a story I read when I was a kid of a boy putting a flywheel on his bike. It was not, IIRC, for regenerative braking, but rather to allow a quick getaway, by pedalling the flywheel up to speed when waiting at a junction. It worked well, but a design flaw became apparent when the boy arrived at a hill.

    I always wanted to try it for myself but, alas, my mechanical skills were nowhere near adequate.

  3. I read the article. Orientation of the flywheel could be important!
    Of more importance is the fact that the energy stored in a flywheel is
    1/2 mV2. The ones I studied years ago had carbon fibre rotors in a vacuum, if they came apart they simply smeared thamselves all over the the inside of the containmnet vessel.
    Where can I get few ?

  4. Huggbunny,

    Yes, I think it would have to be vertical axis. Who knows, that might actually lend some stability to the car, in the same way that bicycle wheels lend stability to bikes.

  5. Jess,

    Yes, remarkable. I saw those on a Wallace and Gromit TV program, believe it or not. (Well, it kind of makes sense)

    When I was a kid, I did fit a sail (spinnaker) to my bike. It actually worked pretty well when the wind got up.

  6. Jess,

    Well, with that as a prototype, you can build your own full-scale version.

    Not many beaches in Canberra though.

  7. jumpnmcar, thanks for the link to Der Spiegel. It’s an interesting article.

    I’m not sure what your concern is but you should realise that Stefan Rahmstorf is a joint author of the scientific paper and also the author of the RealClimate post. It’s hazardous making one-line commentaries out of science so complex.

    In that post he also links to their Potsdam Institute material.

  8. Complex indeed Brian.
    Iv e looked at so many graphs over so many time scales in so many locations in my own little search for the truth that a red flag appears in my head when i see things like ” this location most suites my predictions”.
    Their graph is really 2000 years in Nth Carolina , ok
    What of 7000 years in Holland?
    Or 140,000 years

    I really am about to give up and just ignore the whole thing.

  9. jumpnmcar, long term sea level rise is straight forward. It moves with GHGs and temperature as these graphs show.

    Short term, which with sea level is really anything up to a millennium, is not so easy, except that the direction is up.

    Stefan Rahstorf is a seriously intelligent scientist who cut his teeth working as a physicist on general relativity theory. He talks about the prospects for sea level rise in this article.

    His best guess was a one meter rise this century, assuming three degrees warming, and up to five meters over the next 300 years.

    But please note this:

    Three million years ago the planet was 2-3 degrees warmer and the sea 25-35 meters higher, and 122,000 years ago 2 degrees warmer and 10 meters higher

    That was when CO2 and other GHGs were at levels roughly the same as now.

  10. A thought for you, CarJumper. In all of the graphs, no matter what the duration, the only thing that matters is the inclination right at the very end. That is the bit that we have to live with, the bit that are cities, which are protected by insurance that we all rely upon and contribute to, are built to assume that nothing will ever change.

    So by all means, switch off and ignore, just don’t forget when you are called upon to contribute your vote that we all have a stake in what happens in the near future. Let’s just be sure that it is not a miss stake.

  11. BliBy said,

    “””A thought for you, CarJumper. In all of the graphs, no matter what the duration, the only thing that matters is the inclination right at the very end.”””
    Or the decline?

    Look, you may be happy to ignore the 1000s of scientists that disagree with you, but i’m not.

    Some of the American ones, names and all.

    It,s not settled yet. OK

    I think I’ll just leave the whole subject alone for 12 months and see where we’re at then. 🙂

  12. jumpnmcar, on your first link, see the fourth item in the post:

    2010 data makes recent warming statistically significant

    What Jones is really telling us is that if you want to understand climate trends look at longer periods. It’s just dopey to cherry pick short periods.

    Your second link is tired old chestnut. Go to Item 117 in Skeptical Science’s Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says.

  13. All I’m saying, JumpnCar, is that it is horrendously expensive to be wrong about climate change being real, and only mildly inconvenient if the skeptics are right. I think, though, that a 3 year break will yield a lot to talk about. There will be a lot of new technology to optionally adopt as well.

  14. Jumpinmcar said:

    I think I’ll just leave the whole subject alone for 12 months and see where we’re at then

    In my experience going back about seven years on the internet discussing these matters, one of your kind says something like that at regular intervals, but the data fails to change in their favour — quite the reverse — and instead of acknowledging that, they repeat the claim.

    I’m at a loss to imagine what they think will occur in 12 months to change the basic physics underlying the mainstream science.

    Nothing and nobody worth talking to will be jumping in your car if this is where you hope to go, IMO.

  15. jumnmcar, Skeptical Science have what I think is the best yet article on the North Carolina data. They’ve compared their data with other data available and the conclusion seems to be:

    This analysis suggests that our data can be expected to track global mean sea level within about ±10 cm over the past two millennia, within the uncertainty band shown for our analysis.

    Scientists with the competence of Vermeer and Rahmstorf aren’t going to make silly mistakes or make statements they can’t justify.

  16. Just looking at those graphs, jumpncar, at nofreewind, the “trend lines” look quite wrong to me. I suspect that they are someones scribble to make a point, because the areas above and below the curves appear to me to not be consistent with the supposed trend line.

  17. That 117 link was interesting, so too the comments below it.
    I do respect your efforts and tolerance with me Brian, but i’m over it, for a good while.
    I’m also fed up with condescending,sanctimonious school teachers like Fran and others.

    I’ll leave it at that.
    Thanks again.

  18. Yes Bilb, the charts are wrong because they’re generated with a simple ordinary least squares regression. How hilarious that the corner of the internet which attacks the hockey stick would use OLS regression for time series data.

    jumpnmcar, that post you linked to is wrong in pretty much every single sentence.

  19. ICanJumpCars @9, 16:

    I really am about to give up and just ignore the whole thing.

    I think I’ll just leave the whole subject alone for 12 months and see where we’re at then. 🙂

    Is that a threat or a promise?

  20. jumpnmcar, you might find comfort in seductive denialist-speak in relation to warming and sea-level rise, but the upward trend in CO2 is undeniable. Have a look at graphs of the last 50 years, then since 1750 and finally over the last 10,000 years.

    The last looks more like an ice pick than a hockey stick.

    The inexorable effect will be to acidify the oceans, which inevitably will destroy the Great Barrier Reef. Those alive during the second half of this century will judge us.

  21. It is worth noting that the melting of thick ice-sheets follows a “run away” pattern. This is because temperatures are higher at lower attitudesaltitudes. As the surface melts down it will move to the warmer lower altitudes and thus melt faster and….. Given that the Greenland ice sheet surface level is dropping at current temperatures the sheet will continue to melt and sea levels rise even if temperatures stabilize right now.
    There is a qualification that should be made here. Warming of the arctic sea and/or changing wind patterns may result in more snow falling on the ice sheet. This could be enough to reverse the lowering of the ice sheet even though global temperatures continue to rise.
    The run away works in the other direction once conditions change sufficiently to start a net raising of the ice field surface.

  22. John D, I think you mean that temperature change is greater at higher latitudes, don’t you, or have I got your meaning all wrong?

    Extra snow is a factor, but so is rain in Greenland. Greenland seems definitely on a negative trajectory.

    In Antarctica, I think the latest is that land ice is on a melting trajectory, according to Skeptical Science. Also the East Antarctica sheet is resting more on below sea land, with lakes and such under it. See here and here.

    During the Eemian a couple of metres of sea level rise above present levels came from Antarctica, which is not a good sign.

  23. Brian: What I said was right. It gets colder the further you go up the mountain. When the top of the ice sheet melts the top gets lower which means that the temperature at the top of the sheet rises which….. Relevant issue when you are talking about ice sheets that are thousands of metres thick.

  24. John D, what you said was attitudes, which I read as latitudes, when you meant altitudes.

    I’ve corrected it in the comment.

  25. A CHINESE government-controlled mining giant has spent $213 million buying up 43 farms so it can explore for coal outside the NSW township of Gunnedah.

    Depressing on so many levels.

    For mine, only on one level. Being coal.

    Chinese? Don’t care, I’m internationalist. Lots of sinophobia around the traps these days.

    Farms v mines? Really, our very very largest mines don’t in the scheme of things have that big a footprint, nothing that could ever threaten resource security. If we were ever even vaguely concerned about food security, we’d simply eat less meat, voila, problem solved.

    Permanent scarring of the landscape? Dunno, quite possibly not. Would need to be done well. But we all rely on mined products, every single day. It is an inescapable cost of modern living, one that all of us have basically accepted.

    But new coal mines? Totally friggin outrageous.

  26. Brian @31,

    Yes, I’ve noticed before that when John D has attitude you give him latitude.

  27. And we are just coming out of the little ice age, Inigo Jones rest in peace.

  28. I&U, I’ll pay that one!

    But, you see, it’s because I’m such a nice person too 🙂

  29. A J curve. What’s optimisitic about that?
    Nor is the sense you get, re the coal mine, encouraging.
    Never mind, we can lazily smirk in the knowledge that others will cop the consequences of current human behaviour and what ever natural forces are at work.
    As for the other issue, the style seems familiar, a sort of idiot Chris Pyne sort engagement in online form.

  30. Not sure about that lazy smirk Paul, I have always thought that the error margin in assuming the speed of change could go both ways. New research certainly questions the ‘gradual’ path of change predicted by the current climate models.

  31. Ah … perennial oddball Miscount Monckton is at it again. Monckton goes on the attack over ‘climate f@scist’ tag

    Lord Christopher Monckton has launched an attack on the term “climate change denier”, saying it seeks to group global-warming doubters with extreme f@scism.

    This is an old saw, which need not be refuted here again but the attached argument he runs is telling. I am amused about the implication that he might be Ok with some form of “non-extreme” f@scism. Perhaps he’s keener on common or garden variety f@ascism?

    One week after making headlines for likening Australian economist Ross Garnaut’s climate advocacy to N@zism, Lord Monckton said there was a double standard emerging within the climate debate and the media … he was on the front foot at a speaking engagement in Perth this morning, saying the media’s habit of dubbing him a “climate change denier” was “accusing me in effect of being on a par with that nastiest form of f@scism which is holocaust denial”.

    Now that’s obviously wrong. The nastiest form of f@scism is industrial scale mass murder, torture, and other extra-legal brutalities inflicted by f@scists. Holocaust denial is not a form of f@scism at all. It’s simply a particularly offensive piece of ratbaggery that winks at an apolgia for the actions of actual f@scists.

    There is very plainly a nasty double standard here … what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

    This however is most interesting. In Monckton’s view, words are not to be treated as tools in achieving a meeting of the minds, so that the inferences each of us makes of the world can be compared and contrasted. Not at all. Words are weapons in a cultural struggle, fit to use as one pleases, as long as one can say that someone else has used them against you in a given way. Since one can decide for oneself how they’ve been used, it follows that one can use words just as one pleases, much as Humpty Dumpty proposed in that famous passage from the Lewis Carroll classic.

    Someone has called him a denier — that makes him the same as the nastiest kind of f@ascist — and so he can call anyone perveived by him as associated with the other side in the culture wars something similar. That explains why, despite his recent concession that calling Garnaut a N@zi was “catastrophically stupid” he felt entitled to do it. Stupid or not, he was, by his own abysmal ethical and intellectual standards, warranted in doing so.

    What this underlines, again, is that far from Monckton’s antics being an instantiation of the principle of free exchange of views on matters of public policy, his activity is simply a continuation of his involvement in the culture wars and his desire to lash out at those who have offended him. He sets no store at all by intellectual integrity or rigour, but wants the right to effect the metaphorical equivalent of turning a gourmet dinner into a food fight, starting with the sauce intended for both goose and gander.

    Could there be a clearer case of someone condemning himself before reasonable folk than Monckton today? Maybe, but none springs to mind.

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