Wednesday, January 18, 2017

More About Today's GISS/NOAA Press Conference

The graphs I posted earlier today are from the joint GISS/NOAA press conference this morning, announcing that 2016 is officially the warmest year in both their records.

All their slides and graphs can be found here.

It's only the warmest year in the Hadley Centre's records, which go back further. Warmest than 2015 by 0.01°C. Their error bars are ± 0.1°C, so they say 2016 was "nominally" the warmest, though the difference wasn't statistically significant.

The difference between the three datasets is mostly in how they treat the Arctic, where there are few temperature stations but which is now warming very fast. The Met Office explains here.

A few notes I took while listening:
  • NOAA estimated the El Nino contributed about 1/4th to 1/3rd of their 2016-2015 difference. I didn't understand what GISS said about this, and will try to follow up.
  • Journalists asked more than once what message they would send to the Trump administration, and both times Deke Arndt of NOAA cautiously said (paraphrasing), we produce our results for the American people to use as they see fit. 
  • Gavin Schmidt, Director of GISS, said a few interesting things in response to questions.
    • 2016 is likely the warmest year for "many hundreds of years."
    • However, we're still not as warm as the Eemian, the last interglacial 125,000 yrs ago.
    • We've "clearly passed 1°C warming, and unlikely we'll go below that."
    • His personal prediction is that 2017 will be "still a top five year, I'm pretty confident, but unlikely to be a record year." And, "possibly the second warmest."
    • The Arctic is warming at 2-3 times the rate of the global mean.
  • Deke Arndt of NOAA gave a graph of their data with and without corrections ("adjustments," a word he didn't use). He stressed that the biggest difference between raw and corrected data is in sea surface temperatures, with a change in ship data collection from buckets thrown overboard to the engine intake method. And he and again reiterated that corrections reduce the long-term warming trend:

El Nino Years Compared

GISS, NOAA: 2016 Warmest Year on Record



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Global sea ice is at lowest level ever recorded | New Scientist

Zinke: "The glacier receded during lunch"

Confirmation hearing for Ryan Zinke, nominee for the US Department of Interior.
Bernie Sanders: "Is climate change a hoax?"

Ryan Zinke: "Climate is changing. That's undisputable. I'm from Glacier National Park. When my family and I ate lunch over a glacier...the glacier receeded during lunch."
Another clip.

Julian Asange to Arrive in US Shortly

Wikileaks started out well. But in the end Julian Assange proved to be just another tool.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Another Sleazy Photoshop from Pierre Gosselin

When last we met Pierre Gosselin, a climate change denier in Germany who blogs at, he was photoshopping pictures of the German countryside, adding fake wind turbines in order to conclude "Shocking Before-And-After Photos: How Wind Parks Are Devastating Idyllic German Countryside!"

Now he's add it again, photoshopping a screenshot of a famous James Hansen paper to try to make it look corrupt, provided by someone named Kenneth Richard:

And here's the actual Hansen paper:

Ha ha. 

Sure, the photoshop is obvious to me and you. (And more than the title has been altered.) But to other readers of his blog? New readers? To the worst kind of deniers?

What I can't understand is why a blogger thinks he can alter pictures and documents and still retain any credibility whatsoever.

The science needs better skeptics. As a first step, honest ones. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wacky Global Sea Ice

Here is the latest global sea ice extent, from the Arctic Sea Ice Blog:

Yes, Arctic SIE has been acting strangely, but Antarctic SIE has fallen very far:

I've read, on Twitter I think, someone speculate that changes in Arctic SIE looks like a signal, but the changes in Antarctic SIE looks like noise.

Or maybe this is what a tipping point looks like. (But someone told me several months ago that he thought the Arctic had already passed a tipping point.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Stunning Sessions Remark about "Truth"

From Slate, on yesterday's confirmation hearings of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General:
In what seemed to be the only moment gobsmacking enough to bring the Senate chamber to almost complete silence, in the late afternoon Sessions had this terse exchange with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Whitehouse suggested that lists were already circulating suggesting there might be purges or demotions of certain career appointees in the Justice Department. Whitehouse wondered whether Sessions would have a problem with career lawyers “with secular beliefs,” having in the past criticized department attorneys for being secular. Sessions replied that he has used that language about secular attorneys to differentiate between people who recognize objective “truth” and those who take positions “in which truth is not sufficiently respected.”

Whitehouse replied, with a leading, and perhaps slightly conclusory question: “And a secular person has just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a person who is religious, correct?” At which point Sessions responded, “Well, I’m not sure.” For a few seconds the Senate chamber seemed to go completely silent.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Basic Energy Balance and the Famous Factor of 4

We all know the equation for the average surface temperature of a spinning Earth with no atmosphere, the so-called "brightness temperature":


for ε = 1, S = 1365 W/m2, and α = 0.3. The factor of four comes from accounting for the spherical, spinning Earth (see any climate science textbook, chapter 1 or 2).

So this is interesting:
"The spherical Earth assumption gives the well-known So/4 expression for mean solar irradiance, where So is the instantaneous solar irradiance at the TOA. When a more careful calculation is made by assuming the Earth is an oblate spheroid instead of a sphere, and the annual cycle in the Earth's declination angle and the Earth-sun distance are taken into account, the division factor becomes 4.0034 instead of 4.", pg 7.

It'd be fun to calculate this, someday, when I have the time. But unfortunately I don't have it now.

When I was an undergraduate, I took undergraduate Classical Mechanics in my junior year, from a really great professor at UNM. Dr Finley taught many of the upper division undergraduate classes I took, and I learned more from him than any other teacher in my life, including in his graduate-level special relativity class my senior year, where he introduced us to four-vectors and tensors and their notations.

Dr Finley was fantastic. One of the most memorable things he did was, in junior year classical mechanics, introduce us to perturbation theory (and special functions) by calculating the gravitational field for a nonspherical Earth. First we did the oblate spheroid, but even better was for the pear-shaped Earth, a more realistic model of our planet.

These were the same calculations NASA had to do to launch rockets or send one to the Moon.

The UNM classroom we always used had chalkboards on all four sides of the classroom, and chairs/desks that swiveled. He'd start over on the far one side of the classroom, and by its end we'd all swiveled our desks 360 degrees to follow what him had calculated, all around the classroom.

I don't remember now exactly what special functions these perturbative calculations required -- Legendre polynomials, I think. But it was a wonderful introduction to not just realistic classical mechanics, but perturbation theory, which then was very handy later when learning quantum field theory, where scattering cross sections are calculated (for QED) one order of perturbation, in α (≈ 1/137), at a time.

When the department ordered a new computer -- this was 1981 -- and put it in his office, he let a good friend and I unpack it and set it up. Then he let us play with it. This was the day before Thanksgiving, and my friend Norman and I sat there for about 18 hours, figuring it out and its programming. IIRC, we calculated the scattering of electrons from various crystal types, ending up with a 2-D surface where the electrons had landed after scattering. When Dr Finley came back in the next morning, Thanksgiving morning, to pick something up, around 10 am, we were still there programming, having been up all night. He encouraged us to go home. I rode my bike the 10 miles back to my parents' house, and I think I slept all the way through Thanksgiving dinner.

Sometimes you only recognize when you were happy much after the fact. Or maybe you just forget all the problems you had then. Does the difference really matter, decades afterwards?

Friday, January 06, 2017

RSS Total Troposphere Temperature Set a Record in 2016

Unlike UAH, RSS found 2016 to be a record breaking year, +0.17°C (0.31°F) warmer than 1998. (2010 is third warmest.)

"In addition, 9 out of 12 months for 2016 were the warmest of that month ever recorded in the satellite record.....

"The record warmth was caused by long-term global warming combined with the strong El Niño event that occurred in the winter and spring of 2015-2016. "

They're measuring slightly different regions -- RSS's number is for the Temperature Total Troposphere (TTT), whereas UAH's number is for the lower troposphere. And slightly different sections of the globe -- RSS's measurements go from a latitude of 80 south to 80 north, whereas UAH covers the entire globe, 90S-90N.

(to be continued)