Tag Archives: weather

WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015

WMO_cropped_220The WMO Statement on the Status of the Climate in 2015 was released on 23 March. In short, the world continues to warm, the seas continue to rise, and the weather becomes hotter, wetter and drier, with continued extreme conditions.

The UN has a useful summary, or go to the new WMO site, or access the pdf document directly.

There were reports on ABC RN’s The World Today and at Climate Central, but the best I found with images that go beyond the report was on our ABC. I’ll pick out some of the elements that interested me. Continue reading WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015

Climate clippings 136

1. Will Hillary Clinton be too weak on climate change?


Campaign chair John Podesta tweeted:

Helping working families succeed, building small businesses, tackling climate change & clean energy. Top of the agenda.

Yet she herself has mentioned it only obliquely since announcing that she’s running. From the past we have this:

At the National Clean Energy Summit in September of last year, in her first major domestic policy address since stepping down from the state department, Clinton described global warming as “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world”. Continue reading Climate clippings 136

Climate clippings 129

1. Polar bears – uncertain future

The Mail on Sunday recently declared the polar bear in good shape on the basis of the opinion of biologist Dr Susan Crockford, who says:

“On almost every measure, things are looking good for polar bears … It really is time for the doom and gloom about polar bears to stop.”

It turns out that Crockford’s expertise is the archaeology of dead dogs and the identification of animal remains, and receives funding from the Heartland Institute to spread disinformation about human agency in climate change.

Information, reliable or not, is difficult to come by. This is a snapshot of one estimate of how the polar bear is travelling:

Polar bears_screenshot-2015-03-04-154610_575x539

In nine of the 19 populations of polar bears information is deficient.

On their future the best estimate is:

To keep polar numbers relatively healthy, though still lower than today, scientists suggest global temperatures should not exceed 1.25 degrees Celsius above the 1980-1999 average.

2. Arctic sea ice is getting thinner faster than expected

Measuring the thickness of the Arctic sea ice sheet is not a simple matter. data from disparate sources has been brought together for the first time.

in the central part of the Arctic Ocean basin, sea ice has thinned by 65% since 1975. During September, when the ice reaches its annual minimum, ice thickness is down by a stunning 85%.

3. UK auctions for renewables

Contracts worth £315 million have been awarded to 27 renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 2.1 gigawatts.

The majority of the 27 schemes are windfarms, including 15 onshore and two offshore schemes (the blue and green chunks below). The remaining contracts went to five solar farms (yellow) and five schemes that will burn or gasify waste to generate energy (black and grey).

UK_Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 15.48.48_600

By peak capacity the outcome looks rather different:

UK_Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 15.48.54_600

The auction was divided into two pots, with one pot reserved for “less established” technologies.

The big surprise was the prices, which were lower than expected.

4. Keystone XL pipeline bill vetoed

It’s important to note that the pipeline bill has been vetoed, not the pipeline.

Keystone is not dead. The bill was a political Tea party move to pre-empt State Department approval, which will now continue until a recommendation in made to John Kerry as Secretary of State.

Meanwhile Nebraska landowners are fighting a case in the courts. They claim state law giving TransCanada the right to drive the pipeline through their land under ’eminent domain’ is unconstitutional.

If the landowners succeed TransCanada does not have a route for the pipeline.

A longer post on the issue is here.

5. The IPCC reviews it’s processes

Every seven years the IPCC publishes three whopping reports followed by a Synthesis Report. Working Group 1 looks at the physical basis of climate change. Working Group 2 looks at impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Working Group 3 looks at mitigation. Each of these whopping tomes has a Summary for Policy Makers of about 30 pages.

The main decision is that the program will continue with some minor modifications. They will try to link the second and third volumes more specifically to the first, while producing the whole series within about 18 months.

More special reports on specific issued will be produced during the interim years.

They will try to make the summaries for policy makers more readable.

6. NZ infestation of flat-earthers climate denialists

The Dominion Post is the newspaper of record for New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Last Friday it featured an opinion piece by high profile climate denialists Bob Carter and Bryan Leyland titled Hypothetical global warming: scepticism needed. Gareth Renownden at Hot topic calls it

a “Gish Gallop” of untruths, half-truths and misrepresentations — a piece so riddled with deliberate errors and gross misrepresentations that it beggars belief that any quality newspaper would give it space.

He then identifies 24 specific errors or misrepresentations.

7. EU adopts climate change targets for Paris conference

The EU formally adopted on Friday climate change targets for December’s Paris conference including a 40 percent cut in emissions by 2030, climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.

The targets were agreed on by leaders of the 28 European Union member states at a summit in October, but the confirmed benchmarks have now been officially sent to the UN, Canete said.

The EU was the second after Switzerland to publish its submission.

In other EU news, the Commission is to spend €100 million on projects aimed at connecting energy networks across the continent.

8. El Niño finally arrives

El Niño has finally arrived at a time of the year when they usually decay. It’s weaker than usual and is unlikely to have much impact on world weather.

9. US weather conundrum

Last week I reported (Item 1) that the planet had just experienced the hottest 12 months, while it was freezing in eastern North America during January and February and into March.

Because winter includes December and December was mild, no state had a record low winter. In fact the East’s brutal cold was offset by record warmth in the West, which was caused by warmth in the Northern Pacific. The experts think this pushed the jet stream out of shape, bringing Arctic air further south in the east.

It seems the Northern Pacific warmth has now moved to the Central Pacific, causing the weak El Niño referred to above.

Reminder Climate clippings is an open thread and can be used for exchanging news and views on climate.

Climate clippings 109

1. Home solar power plus battery storage

It’s on the way, according to reports in Climate Progress and RenewEconomy. They are reporting on reports emerging from HBSC, Citigroup and UBS, so the big end of town is taking notice.

Initial interest is in short storage to cater for the peaks, but it seems that full storage systems will become competitive before the end of the decade.

For the next ten years battery technology is likely to remain lithium ion, with newer technologies introduced later.

2. Oceans warming faster than thought

The top 700 metres of the ocean have been warming 24 to 55% faster since 1970 than previously thought. The problem has been poor sampling in the Southern Ocean.

Of course this means that the whole planet has been warming faster than previously thought, since over 90% of the extra heat goes into the ocean.

3. Human hands caused 2013 heat

To me 2013 seems like a long time ago, but it is remembered for breaking a lot of heat records in Australia.

January 7 was our hottest day on record – 40.3°C.

January was the hottest month on record.

The 2012-13 summer was the hottest on record.

September was the hottest on record, exceeding the previous record by more than a degree; this was the largest temperature anomaly for any month yet recorded.

September-November was the hottest on record.

The whole year of 2013 was the hottest on record.

Five studies have now been done establishing human agency in these events. We don’t just need to be concerned about our grandchildren. Climate change caused by humans is happening now.

4. NOAA explains record Antarctic sea ice growth

First of all the record does not represent a dramatic increase on the recent average:


By comparison the loss of land ice has tripled in the last five years alone.

NOAA have now given a more detailed explanation of how the increase, counterintuitively, may be related to global warming. Firstly, it’s the wind:

NOAA first points out that “much of this year’s sea ice growth occurred late in the winter season, and weather records indicate that strong southerly winds blew over the Weddell Sea in mid-September 2014.”

Secondly, the melting land ice itself may have an effect:

Most of Antarctica’s ice lies in the ice sheets that cover the continent, and in recent decades, that ice has been melting. Along the coastline, ice shelves float on the ocean surface, and much of the recent melt may be driven by warm water from the deep ocean rising and making contact with ice shelf undersides.

How does the melting of land ice matter to sea ice formation? The resulting meltwater is fresher than the seawater. As it mixes with the seawater, the meltwater makes the nearby seawater slightly less dense, and slightly closer to the freezing point than the ocean water below. This less dense seawater spreads out across the ocean surface surrounding the continent, forming a stable pool of surface water that is close to the freezing point, and close to the ice onto which it could freeze.

5. Marshall Islands expendable

The United Nations chose 26-year-old Marshall Islands poet and mother Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner to be among the keynote speakers at the UN’s climate summit in New York recently. Here she is at the mike with her husband and child:


Marshall Islands sits on average about 2 metres above sea level. Already she’s seen waves crashing into their homes and their breadfruit trees wither from salt and droughts.

Jetnil-Kijiner was confident in her speech that, no matter how difficult, climate change would be solved, and her daughter would be able to go on living in the Marshall Islands.

“No one’s drowning, baby,” she said. “No one’s moving. No one’s losing their homeland. No one’s becoming a climate change refugee…We are drawing the line here.”

She said, accurately I think, that saving the Marshall Islands meant “ending carbon pollution within my lifetime.”

Some 125 world leaders were present. Some, like ours stayed away, having more important things to do. Anyone present with half a brain must have known that is not going to happen. The Marshall Islands is expendable.

6. Climate outlook, October to December

In brief, warmer and drier than average, apart from Tasmania, which looks good for rain. There’s more detail and maps here.

This is what the rainfall prospect looks like:

Oct-Dec 2014_cropped_600

And maximum temperature:

Temp Oct-Dec 2014_cropped_600

Six of eight international climate models suggest a late season El Niño, or near El Niño, ENSO state is likely.

Climate clippings 104

This edition begins with the weather and ends with a sad tale of revenge and tribalism as the basis for climate policy.

1. June the hottest on record

When we have some cooler than normal weather people are apt to say “So much for global warming!” They should realise how small a part of the globe we are.

The warmest May on record for the planet has been followed by the warmest June:

June 2014_201406-600

In fact June was the highest departure from average for any month on record.

The last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985. The last below average June was in 1975 when Gough Whitlam was PM!

2. El Niño still favoured

The majority of models still favour a spring El Niño:

Warming in the tropical Pacific Ocean since the beginning of 2014 has primed the climate system for an El Niño in 2014, although an atmospheric response is yet to be observed. As a result, the transition towards El Niño conditions has slowed in recent weeks. While five out of eight climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggest El Niño will become established by October, all have eased their strength over the past few months. Three models suggest an El Niño will not occur in 2014, while another indicates only a brief period of El Niño-like conditions.

3. Temperatures poised to rise rapidly

El Niño years are often associated with a higher than average temperature rise. However, there’s another reason temperatures may be about to rise. You may recall that around 93% of the extra global warming goes into the ocean and only 2.3% into the atmosphere:


In recent years the trade winds have speeded up causing deep mixing in the ocean, taking warm water deeper displacing cooler water which rises to the surface to be warmed. Sooner or later this will stabilise, with more heat going into the atmosphere.

The article also points out the recent correction of the Hadley Centre temperature record, adding in an estimate for the polar regions, where there are no weather stations. This correction virtually eliminates the famous ‘pause’. The heavy lines show the corrected data:


4. Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new energy in Denmark


A new analysis from the government of Denmark found that wind power is by far the cheapest new form of electricity in the country. New onshore wind plants coming online in 2016 will provide energy for about half the price of coal and natural gas plants, according to the Danish Energy Agency (DEA), and will cost around five cents per kilowatt hour.

5. Abbott bets the house on coal

Meanwhile our visionary PM bets the house on coal as the world price is collapsing and countries turn to renewables.

The price for thermal coal has plunged more than 10 per cent in the last two months as the presumed major customers – China and India – make it clear that renewable energy is offering a competitive alternative to coal and gas.

The current spot market has been below the cost of production.

China may cease to import coal in a few years. The Europeans are talking about ramping up targets for emission reductions, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Indians are

building of “mega” capacity solar farms, off-grid solar pumps for irrigators, solar installations over canals, cuts in tariffs for solar components and a doubling of the tax on coal – has been followed by an announcement that the country will look to expand a “rent-a-roof” program from solar installations initially begun in Gujarat, the home state of new PM Narendra Modi, who has promised a “saffron revolution” of solar power.

Tata Power is providing interest free loans up to $4,000 for rooftop solar.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance last week predicted solar would beat coal plants on costs by 2020. Chile has announced a whole series of large scale solar plants. On and on it goes.

Here in Sydney there was concern at the Clean Energy Week conference that Abbott can cripple renewables by doing nothing. According to one speaker

even if the 41,000GWh target was retained, and long term certainty provided, the removal of the carbon price will make it difficult to obtain financing for wind and solar farms from financial institutions.

That’s because the carbon price and the RET were designed to work together. If the carbon price is removed, then there is a massive shortfall in revenue when the certificates issued under the RET expire in 2030…

John D has been calling it but here’s a dramatic graph showing how large scale investment has stopped in its tracks:


6. Tribal wars and revenge

I couldn’t find a decent review of Ian Chubb’s excellent book Power failure, which traces climate policy in Australia from before the 2007 election to the installation of the Abbott government. The link in the heading is to a revealing interview with the author by The Fifth Estate. Chubb:

“[Climate change denial] is a cultural issue for the Coalition. It’s nothing to do with rationality or reason or the future or business – it’s tribal. While this government is in power we can’t recreate the consensus.

“For this government burning coal to make electricity is the equivalent to eating red meat – if you don’t, you’re a sissy. So this government will never have sympathy for making renewable energy – only sissies do that. The government has attempted to shut down everything to do with renewable energy.”

He the goes on to talk about revenge, tribalism and well-flung mud.

He describes the current policy situation as current policy situation as a “ridiculous and expensive mess”. Two things might change it. One is leadership from the US. The other is that nasty things may have to happen from the climate itself.

My sense is that the damage to confidence wrought by this mob is such that a change of government with new policies may not be enough. We need the Tea Party to get real before confidence can be restored.

I need to say more about Chubb’s book which is clear-eyed about the strengths and weaknesses of both Rudd and Gillard. Anyone wondering why some of Rudd’s colleagues thought he had to go should read this extract in The Age.

Climate clippings 102

This week we start with trouble at the top and bottom of the world and finish with trouble with our leading media magnate and politician.

1. Geenland at a tipping point?

THE cracks are beginning to show. Greenland’s ice sheets slid into the sea 400,000 years ago, when Earth was only a little warmer than it is today. That could mean we are set for a repeat performance.

If Greenland goes, West Antarctica also goes, giving 13 metres of sea level rise from those sources. If that happens there will also be a complete loss of other glaciers and ice caps, thermal expansion and some partial melting from East Antarctica. A mess!

The question is how soon and what can we do? The answer is we need more research and we need to think more in terms of centuries.

We should be thinking about the next 500-1000 years, how ice sheet decay can be minimised, stabilised and headed in the other direction. Our plans for the next 50-200 years should be made in the light of this.

This image from the article shows a part of Greenland where the ice is quite dynamic.These areas are expected to grow.

New scientist_mg22229752.600-1_300

Here’s an image from another article:


2. Big trouble in the Antarctic has been brewing for a long time

David Spratt at Climate Code Red:

“A game changer” is how climate scientist Dr Malte Meinshausen describes newly published research that West Antarctic glaciers have passed a tipping point much earlier than expected and their disintegration is now “unstoppable” at just the current level of global warming. The research findings have shocked the scientific community. “This Is What a Holy Shit Moment for Global Warming Looks Like,” ran a headline in Mother Jones magazine.

Meinshausen says this is new information. He says that the beaches we know and love all around the world will disappear. He also wonders what other nasty surprises lie this side of a 2°C temperature rise. Spratt says we told you ages ago it was coming, by James Hansen, for example and by himself and Philip Sutton in 2007.

This NASA image shows the temperature changes from 1957 to 2006:


Hansen warned; Meinshausen says it’s happening. Spratt warns:

It’s par for the course for climate policy-makers to hope for the best, rather than plan for the worst. More than once this blog has warned that sea-level rises are being underestimated by Australian policy-makers, and that the tens of millions of dollars being put into adaptation planning for sea-level rises of no more than 1.1 metres by 2100 will be a waste of money, and all that work will have to be done again. And now that has come to pass.

3. Huge ‘whirlpools’ in the ocean are driving the weather

GIANT “whirlpools” in the ocean carry far more water than expected and have a big impact on the weather – though as yet we don’t know exactly what.

The areas of swirling water are 100 to 500 kilometres across. These “eddies” generally move west, driven by Earth’s rotation, until they stop spinning. Now, for the first time, the amount of water and heat they carry has been measured.

Article and image available also here.


4. Gorgeous BioCasa_82

Nestled into the pastoral landscape of Treviso, Italy, BioCasa_82 is a beautiful home that boasts some seriously energy-efficient technologies.


The house is made from 99% recyclable materials and scores

117 points out of 136, according to the American protocol LEED Platinum, and 10 out of 11 points in regards to innovation in design, the building is a real gem in the European building practice.

According to the carbon footprint analysis, BioCasa_82 yields 60% less emissions than traditional buildings. Its photovoltaic system produces around 14kWh/mq of electricity, and a high-efficiency geothermal plant provides heat, hot water and cooling. These strategies are complemented by a rainwater harvesting system.

5. Rupert Murdoch doesn’t understand climate change basics

That is everyone’s problem since he owns a world-wide media empire.

Many of Murdoch’s news outlets are also among the worst when it comes to getting climate science wrong and disseminating climate myths and misinformation. Inaccurate media coverage is in turn the primary reason why the public is so misinformed about global warming.

I won’t go into the details, but Climate Progress observes that he ‘lowballed’ the numbers and minimized possible impacts. Here in Oz:

”We can be the low-cost energy country in the world,” he said. “We shouldn’t be building windmills and all that rubbish.”

Elsewhere Graham Readfearn finds that Tony Abbott’s views on climate are seriously crap.

Reminder: Use this thread as an open thread on climate change.