Earth ChangesS

Smiley

Spotless Sun record days away

Inspect the image below. It is a photo of the sun taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Can you guess what day it was taken? Scroll down for the answer.
blank sun
© SOHOThe sun has looked remarkably blank lately; a sign that Solar Minimum is coming.

August 28th, today. But it could have been taken on any day of the past seven weeks. For all that time, the face of the sun has looked exactly the same--utterly blank.

According to NOAA sunspot counts, the longest string of blank suns during the current solar minimum was 52 days back in July, August and September of 2008. If the current trend continues for only four more days, the record will shift to 2009. It's likely to happen; the sun remains eerily quiet and there are no sunspots in the offing. Solar minimum is shaping up to be a big event indeed.

Spotless Days
  • Current Stretch: 48 days
  • 2009 total: 190 days (79%)
  • Since 2004: 701 days
  • Typical Solar Min: 485 days

Heart - Black

UK Weather supercomputer used to predict climate change is one of Britain's worst polluters

UK Met Super Computer
© Daily MailThe computer used 1.2 megawatts to run - enough to power 1,000 homes.

The Met Office has caused a storm of controversy after it was revealed their £30million supercomputer designed to predict climate change is one of Britain's worst polluters.

The massive machine - the UK's most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory - was installed in the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, Devon.

It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run - enough to power more than 1,000 homes.

The machine was hailed as the 'future of weather prediction' with the ability to produce more accurate forecasts and produce climate change modelling.

However the Met Office's Headquarters has now been named as one of the worst buildings in Britain for pollution - responsible for more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Fish

Death rate spikes among migrating whooping cranes

dying cranes
© APIn this Sunday, Jan. 15, 2006 file photo, a whooping crane eats a crab at the Aransas National …
A federal official says the world's only naturally migrating whooping cranes died at about twice their normal rate last year and will likely see an overall drop in numbers this year.

Tom Stehn, who oversees whooping crane conservation efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says 21 percent of a flock of whooping cranes that migrates between northern Canada and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas each year died off last year. Typically about 10 percent of the flock dies off.

Butterfly

Anthropogenic Global Cooling?

An email from Norm Kalmanovitch

There is a very good case to be made for anthropogenic global cooling from CO2 emissions. The beginning of rapid increases in global CO2 emissions started in 1945 with the rapid increase in post war industrialization that has seen CO2 emissions rise from under 4gt/year in 1945, to over 31.5gt/year today. This increase in CO2 emissions over the past 63 years has resulted in over 40 years of global cooling. The only time that there was a decrease in emissions was from 1979 to 1982 when the world was warming.

This forms a positive correlation of sufficient statistical significance to make a reasonable case for this relationship to be valid. Although correlation is not causation, there is nothing in the current science literature database that demonstrates any contrary evidence so based solely on "peer reviewed" science literature (as is the case for AGW), this hypothesis could be taken as valid.

The original paper on this topic by Svante Arrhenius in 1896 can be shown to be in error because at the time quantum physics had not yet revealed the physical process of interaction between the Earth's radiative energy and atmospheric CO2.

The only part of the Earth's thermal radiative spectrum that is affected by CO2 is the 14.77micron band, but Arrhenius, unaware of this fact used measurements limited to only 9.7microns and therefore was not actually measuring the effect from CO2. He also used an experimental source for thermal radiation that was at 100°C, and the radiative spectrum from this source includes the 4.2micron wavelength band of CO2 that is not part of the Earth's radiative spectrum, so he was not measuring the actual effect from the thermal radiation from the Earth.

Evil Rays

Climate Sensitivity Estimates: Heading Down, Way Down?

MIT climate scientists Richard Lindzen and collaborator Yong-Sang Choi soon-to-be published paper (Geophysical Research Letters, American Geophysical Union) pegs the earth's "climate sensitivity" - the degree the earth's temperature responds to various forces of change - at a value that is about six times less than the "best estimate" put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The smaller the climate sensitivity, the less the impact that rising carbon dioxide levels will have on the earth's climate. The less the impact that CO2 emissions will have on the earth's climate, the less the "problem" and ability to reverse the "problem."

Lindzen and Choi's findings should come as a solace to those folks who are alarmed about future climate and as a bulwark to those folks fighting to limit Congresses negative impact on U.S. energy supplies and our economy. Indeed, climate sensitivity to GHGs is the multi-billion dollar question in climate science. If climate sensitivity is low, then the earth's temperature doesn't react very much to variations in processes which impact it - such things as solar variations, volcanic eruptions, cloud cover fluctuations or changes in the concentration of greenhouse gases.

If, on the other hand, the climate sensitivity is high, then changes in the climate drivers can lead to large changes of the earth's average temperatures. Another way to think of it is that the lower the climate sensitivity, the more stable the earth's climate.

Sun

NCAR spots the "transistor effect" - Small solar activity fluctuations amplify to larger climate influences

Combo sun earth transistor
© unknown

Some months back, I mentioned that I felt the sun-earth connection was much like a transistor. This new NCAR study suggests this may be the case where small solar variances are amplified in the earth atmosphere-ocean system.

From EurekAlert

Small fluctuations in solar activity, large influence on the climate

Sun spot frequency has an unexpectedly strong influence on cloud formation and precipitation

Our sun does not radiate evenly. The best known example of radiation fluctuations is the famous 11-year cycle of sun spots. Nobody denies its influence on the natural climate variability, but climate models have, to-date, not been able to satisfactorily reconstruct its impact on climate activity.

Researchers from the USA and from Germany have now, for the first time, successfully simulated, in detail, the complex interaction between solar radiation, atmosphere, and the ocean. As the scientific journal Science reports in its latest issue, Gerald Meehl of the US-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and his team have been able to calculate how the extremely small variations in radiation brings about a comparatively significant change in the System "Atmosphere-Ocean".

Katja Matthes of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, and co-author of the study, states: ,Taking into consideration the complete radiation spectrum of the sun, the radiation intensity within one sun spot cycle varies by just 0.1 per cent. Complex interplay mechanisms in the stratosphere and the troposphere, however, create measurable changes in the water temperature of the Pacific and in precipitation".

Blackbox

Warming May have Peaked. Has Western Civilization Peaked with It?

Historic Glacial Cycles
© unknown

The only constant in nature is change. We have been able to reconstruct the past using proxy data like fossils, isotopes, polar and glacial ice. They tell us our climate has varied considerably over the last 450 thousand years. The long glaciations (typically 100,000 years) are tied to variations in the sun-earth orbital parameters. They are followed by periods of 10-15,000 years of warmer interglacials.

During the interglacials, global temperatures rise 18F but vary perhaps 2 degrees in millennium length ups and downs. Every great civilization in history has reached its peak during the warm periods during the interglacials periods. Civilizations (Eqyptian, Minoan, Roman) thrived in the warm periods as crops could be grown more successfully in more places allowing for other societal advancement pursuits. They are tied to peaks in solar activity. They have been followed by cooling periods (and civilization declines) as solar activity declined (as it did in what we call the little ice age or Maunder Minimum) with crop failures, famines and migrations.

Newspaper

Spurious Warming in New NOAA Ocean Temperature Product: The Smoking Gun

After crunching data this week from two of our satellite-based microwave sensors, and from NOAA's official sea surface temperature (SST) product ERSST v3b, I think the evidence is pretty clear:

The ERSST v3b product has a spurious warming since 1998 of about 0.2 deg. C, most of which occurred as a jump in 2001.

The following three panels tell the story. In the first panel I've plotted the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) SST anomalies (blue) for the latitude band 40N to 40S. I've also plotted SST anomalies from the more recently launched AMSR-E instrument (red), computed over the same latitude band, to show that they are nearly identical. (These SST retrievals do not have any time-dependent adjustments based upon buoy data). The orange curve is anomalies for the entire global (ice-free) oceans, which shows there is little difference with the more restricted latitude band.

Binoculars

TRMM Satellite Suggests July 2009 Not a Record for Sea Surface Temperatures

NOAA/NCDC recently announced that July 2009 set a new record high global sea surface temperature (SST) for the month of July, just edging out July 1998. This would be quite significant since July 1998 was very warm due to a strong El Nino, whereas last month (July, 2009) is just heading into an El Nino which has hardly gotten rolling yet.

If July was indeed a record, one might wonder if we are about to see a string of record warm months if a moderate or strong El Nino does sustain itself, with that natural warming being piled on top of the manmade global warming that the "scientific consensus" is so fond of.

I started out looking at the satellite microwave SSTs from the AMSR-E instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. Even though those data only extend back to 2002, I though it would provide a sanity check. My last post described a significant discrepancy I found between the NOAA/NCDC "ERSST" trend and the satellite microwave SST trend (from the AMSR-E instrument on Aqua) over the last 7 years...but with the AMSR-E giving a much warmer July 2009 anomaly than the NCDC claimed existed! The discrepancy was so large that my sanity-check turned into me going a little insane trying to figure it out.

So, since we have another satellite dataset with a longer record that would allow a direct comparison between 1998 and 2009, I decided to analyze the full record from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI). The TRMM satellite covers the latitudes between 40N and 40S, so a small amount of N. Hemisphere ocean is being missed, and a large chunk of the ocean around Antarctica will be missed as well. But since my analysis of the ERSST and AMSR-E SST data suggested the discrepancy between them was actually between these latitudes as well, I decided that the results should give a pretty good independent check on the NOAA numbers. All of the original data that went into the averaging came from the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) website, (Link). Anomalies were computed about the mean annual cycle from data over the whole period of record.

Satellite

Something's Fishy With Global Ocean Temperature Measurements

In my previous blog posting I showed the satellite-based global-average monthly sea surface temperature (SST) variations since mid-2002, which was when the NASA Aqua satellite was launched carrying the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E). The AMSR-E instrument (which I serve as the U.S. Science Team Leader for) provides nearly all-weather SST measurements.

The plot I showed yesterday agreed with the NOAA announcement that July 2009 was unusually warm...NOAA claims it was even a new record for July based upon their 100+ year record of global SSTs.

But I didn't know just how warm, since our satellite data extend back to only 2002. So, I decided to download the NOAA/NCDC SST data from their website - which do not include the AMSR-E measurements - to do a more quantitative comparison.