Update on climate models and heat waves

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Climate Models Accurately Predict Warming

Climate models employ piles of data and sophisticated computational techniques to predict what will happen in the future. Sometimes they predict what happened in the past as well. That is important to test the models (because we might know what happened in the past), or to fill in the blanks (we don’t always know exactly what happened in the past) or to understand complex climate systems better.

If you glance at the science denier rhetoric (mainly on blogs, you won’t find much in the peer reviewed literature because it isn’t good science) you’ll see repeated claims that climate models that try to predict global warming don’t match the actual observations of global warming. Most of the time, this claim is simply wrong. Perhaps an improper measurement of warming (like temperatures up higher in the atmosphere where we actually expect cooling rather than warming) is being used, which constitutes a lie. In other cases observed warming is within the model projections, but tracks off to one side (usually the low side) of the average expectation, but remains within the margin of error. This is either a misunderstanding of how the science works, or a willful misrepresentation. (Again, a lie.) But there are actually two legitimate areas where certain climate models seem to overstate observed warming. A recent post by John Abraham at the Guardian explores these areas.

First there is the question of where the warming is observed. We measure warming in several parts of the Earth’s surface. (See “What does “Global Warming” Mean?) One is surface temperatures at about head height, over land, via a gazillion weather stations many of which have been in operation since the 19th century. The other is at the surface of the sea, using a combination of older measurements taken from ships and more recent satellite observations. In addition, we have measurements of the deeper ocean itself, usually averaged out over some depth such as the top 700 meters, or the top 2,000 meters. This combines older and new ship our buoy measurements but tend to not go back in far in time as the land and sea surface measurements.

John Abraham has spent a lot of effort looking at ocean temperatures at depth. He and I recently published this item, and he’s done a lot of additional work on it. The total amount of heat added to the Earth’s surface from anthropogenic warming (caused mainly by greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide) is divided between the ocean and the surface, with the ocean taking up much of that heat. I liken the system to a dog with a wagging tail. The ocean is the dog, the surface temperatures, making up a small part of the overall system and being much more variable, is the tail.

In “The oceans are warming faster than climate models predicted,” Abraham notes:

We separated the world’s oceans into the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian. All three of these oceans are warming with the Atlantic warming the most. We also calculated the ocean heating by using 40 state-of-the-art climate models. Over the period from 1970, the climate models have under-predicted the warming by 15%.

And here you can see a number of climate models superimposed over the observed heating in the top 700 meters of the ocean (the red line):


In a more recent post, Abraham asks the question, “ how have the models done at predicting the changes in air temperatures?”

As noted, global surface temperature is estimated in part from a bunch of thermometers around the globe, but these thermometers were not placed there for this purpose. They are weather stations set up to help track the weather, not to address questions of climate change. They are not evenly distributed, and there are huge gaps in the surface coverage, most notably in the Arctic and interior Africa, both regions where recent warming has probably been greater than elsewhere. In order for these temperature data to be used, they have to be carefully employed in a computational system that helps fill in the gaps. There are other complexities beyond our scope here. Suffice it to say that when a bunch of different groups of scientists (i.e., the British meteorology office, NASA, NOAA, the Japan Meteorological agency, and various university based groups) take on the task of estimating surface temperatures, they all do it a bit differently and thus turn up with slightly different curves.

This is true as well with sea surface temperatures. There is more than one way to measure sea surface temperature, or more exactly, to take existing data and turn it into a useful estimate of sea surface temperatures.

In addition, the data are cleaned up over time as mistakes are found, the basic computational approach used may be updated to make it more precise, and the overall approach to computation may be changed to make it more accurate.

Over time, two clear patterns have emerged. First, if you take all of the different measurements of surface temperature over time spanning from the 19th century to the present, lay them all out in front of you and step back about two meters and squint slightly, you can’t see the difference among them. They all look the same, they all tell the same story. They all have a handful of notable ups and downs along the generally upward march of surface temperatures with industrial pollution. You have to look at the graphs all on the same axes, together, to see the differences, and the differences are minor. This tells us that all the different approaches to processing a largely overlapping set of data end up with the same basic result. So many smart minds working with the best available science all produce the same result. How boring. But also, how reassuring that the science is being done right.

The second pattern emerges when we look at these graphs as they are produced over time. Various groups have said, “hey wait a minute, we’re missing this” or “we’re missing that” factor. Urban heat island effects may change the data! What about the Arctic! Interior Africa! Our satellites were recalibrated what does that do? Etc.

Over time, and honest, well informed, diligent effort by many groups to improve the measurement of the Earth’s surface temperature has resulted in a series of slightly different graphs, and in each and every case of which I’m aware, the resulting, more recent and better done graphs show more warming, and various periods of relative flatness have become steeper (going upwards).

So, what John Abraham has done is to take some of the more recently processed, better quality data and compared it to the usual models to see how well the models have done. They did well.

He based his discussion on a comparison of the most recent climate model simulations with actual global surface temperature measurements as numerically summarized by NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, shown here:


John has superimposed 2015 so far (the star).

This shows the most current computer model results and five current temperature data sets. The dark line is the average of the models, and the various colored lines are the temperature measurements.

The dashed line is slightly above the colored markers in recent years, but the results are quite close. Furthermore, this year’s temperature to date is running hotter than 2014. To date, 2015 is almost exactly at the predicted mean value from the models. Importantly, the measured temperatures are well within the spread of the model projections.

Too Hot

This is the year of the heatwave. We’ve had heat waves off and on for the last few years, but it seems that there are more now than ever before. While some have tried to argue that global warming can’t really cause warming (sometimes expressed as heat waves), it does.

Climate Scientist Stefan Rahmstorf has a blog post, in German, about a current heat wave in Europe. He notes (rough translation):

Europe is currently experiencing the second major heat wave this summer. On 5 July, according to the German Weather Service , a never before measured in Germany temperature reached 40.3 ° C in Kitzingen. But a month later, on August 7, this century record has been revised…One might speculate that a single heat wave could be simply due to chance. If you look at the temperature data, however, in their entirety it is immediately clear that extreme heat has become more common over several decades. (Apologies for errors in translation.)

And he shows this graph:


Percentage of global land area where the temperatures over a month were two or three standard deviations above the average from 1950 to 1980. Two standard deviations (orange) could be described as “very hot”, three standard deviations (dark red) as “extremely hot”. Source: Coumou and Robinson 2013

Meanwhile, in Egypt, there is another heat wave. According to ABC News,

Egypt’s state news agency says 21 more people have died due to a scorching heat wave, raising this week’s death toll to more than 60.

The official MENA news agency said Wednesday that the latest deaths are from the previous day, mostly elderly people. It says 581 people are in hospital for heat exhaustion.

The Mideast has been hit by a heat wave since late July. Egyptian summers are usually hot, but temperatures this week soared to 46 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit) in the south.

At least 40 people had died on Sunday and Monday, including detainees and patients in a psychiatric hospital, according to officials. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Tuesday’s death toll includes a German national living in the southern city of Luxor who died from heatstroke.

Additional items of interest:

It is not the sun: Corrected sunspot history suggests climate change not due to natural solar trends

It is not just the editorial page: Study Finds WSJ’s Reporting On Climate Change Also Skewed

It is not a hiatus or pause: The alleged hiatus in global warming didn’t happen, new research shows

It is not just the heat, it is also sea level rise: Catastrophic Sea Level Rise: More and sooner

We are expecting a major Carbon Dioxide sink to eventually stop grabbing CO2 and, possibly, to start releasing it: Global Warming: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Ice

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
*Please note:
Links to books and other items on this page and elsewhere on Greg Ladens' blog may send you to Amazon, where I am a registered affiliate. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, which helps to fund this site.

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38 thoughts on “Update on climate models and heat waves

  1. Much as i appreciate your effforts, such enthusiastic number crunching too much recalls McIntyre’s merry campaign of beating the data into the desired shape.

    I’m content with the thick statistical tails that outcrop so conspicuously in the run of the mill GCM runs.

  2. Seriously? You honestly think that a concerted effort to get the numbers right is the same thing as a concerted effort to get the numbers wrong? Absurd, that is.

  3. “Concerted”? That would imply some measure of diligence and coherent activity.
    Obsessed, certainly.

  4. No, it just implies some degree of intentionality and coordination and/or planning. When crocodiles line up in a river to drive fish (which they do) that is concerted. They don’t really have brains.

  5. For your consideration:

    From Wikipedia “The amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface (which) had beeen steadily declining in recent decades, began to reverse around 1990. The switch from a “global dimming” to a brightenng trend happened just as the global aerosol levels started to decline”(31), (36)

    (Pinker, et al , 2005, gives 1983 as the date of the onset of brightening)

    This brightening necessarily resulted in greater insolation, but the IPCC diagram of radiative forcings has no component for warming due to aerosol removal.

    This is a huge error, since the Climate Sensitivity to the removal of SO2 aerosols is approx. .02 deg. C temp. rise for each net Megatonne of reduction in emissions.

    Instead, they wrongly attribute the warming to the accumuation of CO2 in the atmosphere. (Their diagram can be corrected by simply changing the CO2 designation to SO2)

    The brightening basically ended around year 2000, when global SO2 aerosol levels began to increase, after about 25 years of steadily decreasing emissions, due to rising pollution in the East.

    Between 2000 and 2005, net global SO2 emissions rose by a reported 5.58 Megatonnes, and caused an average temp. decrease of .09 deg. C. Thereafter, emissions resumed their decline, resulting in about a 4%
    increase in brightening over the past decade, and a continuing slow rise in the “background” temperature (when no natural fluctuatons such as El Nino’s, La Nina’s, and volcanic eruptions are occurring)

    Between 2005 and 2015, net SO2 emissions have decreased by approx. 15 Megatonnes. resulting in a background temp. rise of about 0.3 deg. C. since 2005.

    Continued reductions in SO2 emissions can only result in increasing temperatures! CO2, on the other hand, has no climatic effect.

  6. Reply to #6:

    Dr. Keating, in his final post, stated that temperatures continued to RISE in the 2000-2005 time period, when SO2 levels increased, and used that as proof that my thesis, (that all of the anomalous warming is due to the removal of dimming SO2 aerosols), is wrong.

    This is simply incorrect.

    Temperatures DECREASED by approx. .02 deg. C. during that time period, as I had pointed out shortly before, in my comments.

    In spite of his comments, there is excellent correlation between the decrease in SO2 aerosols and temperature increases for the 1972-2011 time period, for which there is data available on-line, if temporary
    temp. changes from El Nino’s, La Nina’s, and Volcanic eruptions are accounted for.

    I was unable to correct his misunderstanding since he has blocked me from his site.


  7. Sorry,above post unfinished. I was going to ask Burt if he denies the heat-trapping properties of CO2? His statement that C02 is climate neutral is the Big Lie – or just breathtakingly wrong. S02 is a red-herring

    1. Theoretically, CO2 is a heat trapping gas, but there is simply no evidence that it has caused any of the warming that has been experienced. All of the warming attributed to CO2 is either theoretical or wrongly inferred.

      On the other hand, SO2 aerosols have a strongly dimming effect, as was confirmed by the 1991 volcanic eruptions, where an injection of 23 Million tonnes of SO2 into the atmosphere caused O.45 deg. C. of global cooling (and 0.45 deg. C. of global warming when temperatures recovered to pre-eruption levels after they settled out). This represented a temp. rise of approx. .02 deg C. for each Megatonne of SO2 aerosol removed.

      Clean Air efforts between 1972 and 2000 removed a net 25 Million tonnes of SO2 emissions from the atmosphere.

      Their removal was detected by satellite obsverations as “Global Brightening”, which meant that solar heating of the earth’s surface HAD to occur, due to the cleaner air.

      This solar heating due to aerosol removal is ignored by the IPCC and is instead inferred to be due to CO2 accumulations.

      CO2 is the red herring. SO2 aerosol removal is the actual cause.

      I would be happy if someone could show me where I am wrong. Otherwise, global Clean Air efforts are the cause of Climate Change, and will only make things worse unless they are halted.

  8. Burl, we have been through this before. You ignore that Pinatuba injected particulates into the *stratosphere*, whereas the SO2 emissions from anthropogenic emissions simply do not reach that high. Also, you ignored the lifetime differences.

    Of course, the IPCC does *not* ignore the aerosols. That stuff is actually measured and directly included in the GCMs (hint: look for AOD, aerosol optical depth). You ignore the measurements. You ignore the facts. We have shown you where you are wrong already before. You have not done anything with that information. Reason? Likely because it contradicts what you hold so dear: “ABC”, anything but CO2.

    1. Marco:

      You are missing the point of my last posts, which is that satellites detected a brightening of the earth’s surface that could only have been due to the removal of anthropogenic SO2 emissions from the troposphere. This fact obviates all of your stated objections.

      The brightening, which stopped around 2000, closely tracked the reduction in SO2 aerosol emissions, and had to cause increased surface warming.

      As I have mentioned before, the removal of a net 25 Megatonnes of SO2 emissions, 1972-2000, resulted in a temperature rise of approx. .02 x 25 = 0.6 deg. C. by 2000. Since this represents all of the warming that occurred, there can have been no additional warming due to greenhouse gasses.

      I am simply going where the facts lead me, and I see no climatic effect due to CO2. But PROVE me wrong, if you can.

  9. Let’s give Burl the benefit of the doubt, and examine the putative ineffectiveness of CO2 on planetary temperatures, along with the equally putative effects of SO2 on surface temperatures.

    Since considering these issues for planet Earth has turned out to be so contentious, let us retire to another, more neutral planet, one much like Earth (as much a twin as we know of presently) and allow Burl to demonstrate the truth of his claims as regards.. Venus.

    Venus, as we’ve known since first visiting it more than 50 years ago, has an atmosphere that contains nitrogen, CO2, and SO2. In fact, CO2 makes up 96% of the Venusian atmosphere, but, per Burl, that has no significant impact on its surface temperature…

    What is significant, as Burl has sought to bring to our attention, is the fact that the atmosphere of Venus contain 2000 times as much SO2 as Earth’s: 150 ppm compared to a miniscule 75 ppb.

    Now, given that Burl is correct, we observe that the high concentrations of SO2 in the atmosphere of Venus has had such an overpoweringly strong cooling effect on its climate, that the surface temperatures of Venus, as a result, average a very chilly -60C.

    So we see that… Wait. Wait a minute. That’s the average surface temperature of Mars. My mistake. Let’s get this right. Okay, the average surface temperature of Venus is a comparable.. Um… The, uh, surface temperature of Venus is, um, actually it’s +462C… Heh, heh.

    Well, it seems that nature has rather soundly invalidated Mr Henry’s hypothesis… We’ll have to admit that climate scientists actually know something about what they spend their careers studying, and agree with them that SO2 has essentially NO affect on mean surface temperatures, whereas CO2 concentration is a profoundly strong determination of planetary surface temperatures.

    Sorry, Burl — we tried! Too bad you got it wrong about CO2 and SO2… How about you turn your attention towards how we can keep the carbon in the ground? I think mankind needs assistance there.

  10. Brainstorms:

    Thank you for your comments.

    However, your comment “SO2 has essentially NO effect on mean surface temperatures” is incorrect in the sense that I have been faulting it.

    It is simply a strongly dimming aerosol that reduces that amount of sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface. When it is removed, it allows stronger sunshine to strike the earth.

    An analogy would be the cooling experienced on a sunny day, when a cloud passes by.

    The amount of warming experienced by the removal of SO2 aerosols can be shown to be approx. .02 deg. C. for each net megatonne of reduction in anthropogenic SO2 emissions.

    This can quickly lead to much higher temperatures, if continued, and will not be easily mitigated.

  11. I am finding myself increasingly irritated by the spin in this. It starts with a fundamental distinction between a prediction and a projection.

    Global climate models don’t “predict” anything. They are not designed to “predict” anything. They make “projections” based upon known physics, known start conditions, and hypothetical scenarios for the future.

    It is time for the influential science community to quit confusing the two terms. The terms are not interchangeable. Your whole post used “prediction” when “projection” would be the appropriate term.

    The denier community LOVES “prediction.” Because it gives them a foothold on an argument whenever a “projection” is off. Hence, a person like you is now in their battlefield, arguing the accuracy of “predictions” that were never predictions to begin with.

    On the other hand, use of the term “projection” is not good for alarmists. The reason is that it places a natural focus on uncertainty. When politics are involved, uncertainty is the biggest problem When advocating for policy measures.

    This means we have deniers and alarmists arguing over the accuracy of predictions. When in a literal sense no predictions were ever made. And thus indicating what an AGW believer/non-alarmist like me has been saying for years: that climate science and climate politics are adjuncts for each other.

    Is there are downside from your perspective on educating people on the difference between projections and predictions? If so, then there is position advocacy at work. If not, then please put stuff out there reflective of this minor but crucial distinction.

    Only then can we get busier on the science.

  12. I am puzzled, Burl. I am also agnostic on CO2 and warming effects.

    You say that cleaning the air has removed substances which previously had a dimming effect. That would certainly be the case here, where massive improvements in air quality have occurred since 1950. No smog any more. Great for asthmatics.

    However, wouldn’t that just return things to where they were before? To be exact, wouldn’t that mean that there should have been a reduction in temperatures during the industrial period, and that air cleaning would result in a return to how things were before? This doesn’t seem to be what has happened.

    Or, have I misunderstood you? I’m perfectly willing to be corrected if so – this isn’t my field!

  13. JerryC,

    Projections have various degrees of predictive skill.

    Realclimate has a couple of FAQs on models. See the entry on skill:

    How good are the models now?
    “Let’s review the successful predictions of the models.”
    (near the bottom of the page)
    Unfortunately Levenson’s original page is no longer available:

    “Alarmist” is a denialist term, and confusing the line between science and politics is a denialist tactic. These are seductive to the politically naive of any stripe.

  14. “You are missing the point of my last posts, which is that satellites detected a brightening of the earth’s surface that could only have been due to the removal of anthropogenic SO2 emissions from the troposphere. This fact obviates all of your stated objections.”

    I also already pointed out your disastrously poor understanding of the difference in lifetime between tropospheric and stratospheric aerosols, meaning that you cannot just compare *amounts*, but should compare *time-averaged amounts*. One particle in the stratosphere can stay there over a year, whereas one particle in the stratosphere survives maybe a few days. So that one particle in the stratosphere can scatter light for much, much, much longer than that one particle in the troposphere. You need to emit something like 100 times as many particles in the troposphere to get the same scattering effect as in the stratosphere.

    And then you say the only possibility for the observed ‘brightening’ is removal of SO2 emissions? Well, I can easily come up with another option, like decreased cloud cover. And you know what, those damn know-nuffin’ climate scientists have pointed that out, too!
    Let’s see if you are able to understand this publication and are capable of really grasping the point, rather than abuse it like Monckton did.

    Also quite contrary to your claims is the continued heat accumulation in the oceans since 2000. All this completely contradicts your hypothesis, and thereby your hypothesis is proven wrong.


  15. Marco:

    Lets see, now: Global Brightening began shortly after S02 emissions began to decrease (as would be expected), and basically ended when rising Eastern emissions halted the decrease (as would also be expected).

    You need to explain why cloud cover
    first decreased and then increased to give the same pattern, if that is your explanation.

    Regarding ocean warming since 2000, between 2000 and 2015 there has been a reduction in net SO2 emissions of approx. 15 Megatonnes, for an additional global temperature rise of about 0.3 deg.C.
    It is not surprising that the oceans would continue to warm. (The most warming has occurred in the Atlantic Ocean, nearest to where the majority of the emissions decrease has occurred).

    I may have commented on aerosol lifetimes before, but my understanding is as follows:

    With respect to anthropogenic SO2 emissions from intermittent sources, they will generally settle out within a few days. The conversion of SO2 to
    Sulfuric Acid (the SO2 aerosol) happens very quickly, so it acts as a dimming aerosol even in that short time.

    However, the bulk of anthropogenic SO2 emissions come from relatively constant sources, such as power plants, factories, foundries, vehicle exhausts, home heating units, maritime shipping, and the like. The atmosphere is never free of their dimming aerosols since they are constantly beig renewed. As such, they have a much longer “effective” lifetime than stratosperic aerosols, ending only when the emitting sources are either modified to reduce emissions, or are shut down.

    The reduction in the quantity of these aerosols showed up as global brightening!.

  16. Brainstorms (#19)

    First, some backgrouind on my thinking.

    My analysis initially was an attempt to understand why the warming that began circa 1970 plateaued around year 2000, even though CO2 levels continued to rise at a slightly increasing rate.

    One potential explanation was that the rise in temperatures was actually due to a different mechanism than the accumulation of greenhouse gasses.

    For example, the climatic response to the Mount Pinatubo eruption (cooling, then recovery to pre -eruption levels as the injected aerosols settled out) suggested that the removal of anthropogenic SO2 aerosols due to Clean Air efforts could be the actual cause of the observed warming.

    The 1991 volcanic eruptions injected 23 million tonnes of SO2 aerosols into the stratosphere (along with fine particulates which settled out within a few weeks), and caused 0.45 deg. C. of global cooling (and the same amount of subsequent warming when they settled out). This represented a temperature change of approx. .02 deg. C.for each net Megatonne of SO2 aerosols added or removed.

    To test my hypothesis, using published data, I determined the cumulative net amount of SO2 added or removed 1972-2011, and, at various intervals, multiplied that amount by .02 to determine whether the calculated temperature matched the values reported by NASA and GISS.

    Somewhat to my surprise, they matched so closely that there was no possibilty of any additional warming
    from any other source, such as greenhouse gasses.

    I also looked at the 1930’s, where SO2 aerosols decreased by about 29 Megatonnes due to reduced industrial activity, and temperatures, especially in the USA and Europe, increased as a result (see the GISS temperature maps). .02 x 29 projected a temp. rise of 0.59 deg. C, but average global temperatures
    were in the .30’s because of the very strong La Nina’s in that period (no El Nino’s), meaning the .02 factor held
    there, also.

    I have not attempted to examine earlier times, but it does explain what has happened over the past few decades.

  17. What it all comes down to is there are some who say global warming is a hoax, and others say it isn’t. The ones who believe it is real have science on their side. To believe it isn’t real, you must ignore science. But also, consider the possibility that convincing people to use less fossil fuels is part of a sinister plot to… What? What is in it for the hoaxsters? Who is going to make more money because of the belief in climate change? Is being more efficient a punishment? Can you not survive without your hummer? Can you not stand the idea of renewable energy? Why? Burning fossils is kind of stupid. The ammount of fossils burned is quantifiable. One power plant close to me burns 14,000 tons of coal every day. That’s 14,000 tons. Does this translate into 14,000 tons of co2 per day? No. Much much more. High school chemistry can explain why. Again, this is one power plant, and one day of consumption. Total output of co2 from this one generating station in Ghent ky is over 12.9 million tons per year.
    It doesn’t take fancy math and lots of algarythms and ocean sensors and graphs and such to understand that this isn’t sutainable. Co2 is a byproduct of animal life.
    If you have seen pictures of the earth at night, and you see the areas illuminated by artificial lights, you know that humans have taken over the planet. The planet is infested. Fossil fuels are too easy. For 2.76$ I can move my 2900 lb car about 27 miles in about as many minutes. It’s pretty nice to be able to do that work so easily. Just like splitting bones for marrow, or working by firelight, fossil energy is a lever that we have exploited to our benefit. We have time to do other things when we can travel 60 miles in an hour. Do people think this is normal? Do people thing we can keep on like this?
    You don’t need charts and graphs, you don’t need a phd. I’m a goatherd. I’m not the smartest guy. One power plant uses 14,000 tons of coal per day. Does that not make you say wow? Does that “feel” ok? I’m not even sure there’s a way back now. I wonder if there is a lag time, with global warming. I mean, if we stopped burning fossils and emitting co2 ten years ago, how long until the co2 already released had it’s full effect?
    It rained a lot this year. With my silly simple mind I wonder if this is a mechanism to put out the fire? If the earth is like a big machine that self regulates, what is the reaction to increased co2? What does the earth “think” is happening? Something is burning. In Ghent, what is burning is 14,000t of carbon per day.

    What are we going to do? I wonder if I should bother to have children. By the time they are my age, at this rate, I think earth will be a very hard place to live. I’m finding it hard to come to terms with the idea that the population needs to drastically drop. Is this what plagues are for? Ice storms trim trees. Wind storms spread seeds. Rain storms wash the surface. Is there a fire storm coming? See that’s how simple my mind is. I can’t understand science stuff. I was born in the USA.

  18. Well shucks maybe it is volcanic sulphur dioxide. This power plant released 50,000 tons by its self in 2006. But volcanoes emitted 23 million. Everybody knows there’s nowhere near 460 coal power plants in the world. There’s only 1300 in the United States… See? I’m not a math whiz. So yeah it’s probably volcanic sulphur dioxide, which totals about 1/4 of the output from coal burned in the us alone. I wonder how many coal fired power plants are in china. At least 10 or 11.

  19. Burl, you earlier claimed the absence of warming from 2000 onward fitted your hypothesis. Now you claim it is expected to have warmed. Could you please get your story straight?

    Also, could you please provide evidence that the Atlantic has warmed most? The maps of ocean SST, and 0-700 and 0-2000 m heat content I have seen all contradict that claim.

    Finally, it appears your understanding of lifetime is insufficient to understand my point, and it also appears you have had no desire to read the paper I referenced, despite it being so important for your claims.

  20. “I wonder how many coal fired power plants are in china. At least 10 or 11.”

    You did mean “per city”, didn’t you?

  21. Robert Forde (#16).

    You raise an excellent point. As SO2 is removed, one would expect temperatures to approach the same levels as they were during the industriai age, when there were probably fewer than 2 Megatonnes of SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere. Instead, we see increased warming.

    The question I would ask is why was it so cold then? With only a small amount of dimming aerosols present, the sun should have caused copious warming.

    I can only speculate. Perhaps there were multiple volcanic eruptions around the Pacific rim that spewed SO2 into the stratosphere, but were unknown to the West. Here, ice cores might show traces of volcanic dust, or acidic layers.

    Perhaps the output of the sun decreased, or our solar system passed through a large, diffuse interstellar cloud. Or warming from the energy output and useage of the billions of people now alive was not a factor back then.

    Whatever the reason, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to extrapolate current conditions back to the industrial age.

  22. Marco (#26)

    1. I believe that I had stated that there was no statistically significant warming for the past 15 years, or so, based upon the comments of others (The Pause). This may still be true because of the temporary temperature excursions due to El Ninos and La Ninas.

    However, there is also a continuing small upward trend because of the continued net decrease in global SO2 emissions (about 2 Megatonnes per year), leading to around .04 deg. C.
    of temp. increase in the “background” temp. per year.

    2. I believe that information came from a paper discussed on ClimateEtc. but I was unable to find it. However, if you Google “Is the Atlantic warmer than the Pacific” one receives the following answer:
    “Although it might seem illogical, the Atlantic Ocean is warmer. For any given latitude, the Atlantic proved to be about 16 degrees F (9 degrees C.) warmer than the Pacific Ocean off the US. coast–quite a difference.”

    3. No, I have not yet read the paper, but it is moot. Regardless of what it says, Global Brightening occurred when global Clean Air efforts eliminated Megatonnes of SO2 emissions that were in the atmosphere and had not previously
    fallen out.

    But I’ll take a look at it now.

  23. Burl,

    1. 0.04 degrees a year is 0.6 degrees of warming over the past 15 years (twice as much as you stated earlier), and double the warming rate you claimed for the period of 1972-2000. Again, get your story straight, Burl.

    2. you originally claimed the Atlantic was warming fastest. Now the best you can do is stating that the Atlantic is warmer than the Pacific…and only around the US coast. Of course, scientists know these differences have to do with ocean currents, but what do them scientists know, eh? They dun no nuffin’!

    3. funny to just dismiss a paper you have not read, because you know it will contradict your deeply held belief. Thanks for letting us see the way you think.

  24. Bah.

    Greg, I borked the formatting on a couple of posts in moderation. Can you leave the last and delete the others?


  25. Marco:

    You do a good job of holding my feet to the fire!

    1. I was not clear in my remarks. What I intended to convey was that the amount of backgound warming since 2010 has been about .04 deg. C per year (representing a decrease of about 2 Megatonnes in SO2 emissions per year, the same as in 2011). This would be 10 Megatonnes, which is probably too, low based upon current temps., so I
    estimated an additional 5 Megatonnes, giving an 0.3 deg. C rise 2010-2015. Eventually, hard data should be available.

    With respect to the 15 year period 2000-2015, reductions in SO2 emissions totaled about 18.7 Megatonnes, giving an expected background temp. rise of about 0.37 deg. C, to 0.77 deg. C (from 2000’s 0.4 deg. C.)(avg. temp. for 2015, Jan-Jul is 0.76 deg. C)

    2. No time to do any more searching, but the paper is out there

    3.I read the papers that you pointed to, and found the later (2005) paper “From Dimming to Brightening: Decadal Changes in Solar Radiation at Earth’s Surface” to be the most informative.

    All of their reported data supported what I have been saying.

    There were a couple of interesting statements:

    Regarding the brightening, they stated “This is found under all-and clear-sky conditions, indicating that processes in both cloud-free and cloudy atmospheres conntributed to the brightening”

    This eliminates any contributon from clouds as a cause of the brightening.

    They also spoke of “the dramatic increase in the planetary albedo…for 2002/2003” but did not offer an explanation. This is the period when net SO2 emissions temporarily increased because of pollution from the East, which would have increased the planetary albedo, SO2 being a reflective aerosol..

    In spite of numerous suggestions in the paper that reduced aerosols should have a climatic effect, in their PEER-reviewed conclusions, they stated “The absence of dimming since the mid-1980’s may profoundly affect surface climate. Whereas the decline in solar energy could have counterbalanced the down-welling longwave energy from the enhanced greenhouse effect before the 1980’s, this masking of the greenhouse effect and related impacts may no longer have been effective thereafter, enabling the greenhouse signals to beome more evident in the 1990’s ”

    What nonsense! They did not even consider the fact that cleaner air will cause greater insolation.

  26. “… did not even consider the fact that cleaner air will cause greater insolation.”
    Sigh. You thus did not understand the paper.

    Discussion done, at least from my side. I have no interest going around in circles with you not understanding scientific papers.

  27. Marco:

    So what did I not understand?

    The body of the paper was excellent, but there was nothing in it that supported their speculative conclusion that it unmasked “down-dwelling longwave energy from the enhanced greenhouse effect of the 1980’s”

    They correctly admitted that “the absence of dimming since the 1980’s may profoundly affect surface climate” but failed to realize that the brightening meant that the earth’s surface would naturally warm up because of the cleaner air, and not due to unmasked greenhouse gasses.

    And the amount of warming is approx. .02 deg. C. for each net Megatonne of reduction in SO2 aerosol emissions!

    No, it appears that you are the one who is incapable of understanding the paper.

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