Thursday, November 1, 2012

The perfect spin


Scientific American has put up a detailed explanation of why hurricane Sandy may be linked to anthropogenic climate change: a chain of events that, critically, involves the North Atlantic Oscillation nudged towards a negative state by the melting of Arctic sea-ice. On the other hand,   realclimate explained in 2007 that climate change was threatening the Mediterranean region with more severe droughts because climate change would nudge the North Atlantic Oscillation towards a  positive state. The IPCC model suite of 2007 would show these trends  very clearly.
This seems harder to understand than the wave-particle dualism, but the explanation is easy: both arguments  are  realizations of a certain sort of climate noise. 

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's make a guess as to the genesis of this post. Eduardo thinks that the Sci Am piece is silly and inappropriately definitive. But just criticizing that is unremarkable, and so some counter point must be found. So a pretty innocuous post that has nothing to do with climate/weather connections and whose discussions on AGW/NAO changes seem sensible enough is found. Then a claim that this is all 'noise' can be made.

There is noise in the climate discussion and is exemplified by this kind of empty insinuation that fails to provide any actual context on what is actually expected/modeled/predicted and why.

But hey, if there is a cheap shot against realclimate, you should definitely take it.

eduardo said...

There is nothing that can be explained further, placed into context etc. Both links explain clearly what can be expected from model simulations and both describe physical explanations that lead to opposite conclusions. You only need to read them. Should I have repeated them here again ?

Scientific American is a widely read publication. So is realclimate.com. Perhaps what you didnt expect was such a clear contradiction between both.

The origin of this contradiction is the perceived need to find an explanation based on anthropogenic climate change for phenomena which may not need it. Not everything that happens is caused anthropogenic climate change. When the causes are not clear, it is better not to say anything

ghost said...

The realclimate blog article is written by Figen Mekik. It was a guest post. I do not see the name in the Sci Am article. So, Eduardo where is the connection to realclimate? I do not see it.

eduardo said...

Ghost,

was the guest post not published in realclimate ?

The fact that appeared in realclimate is not relevant. The post in realclimate reflects the 'consensus' that GHG will push the NAO to a positive state. The relevant point is that there are two contradicting explanations that are being provided to explain Mediterranean droughts, hurricane Sandy, recent European cold winters..
My point is, again, that there is no need to connect everything to climate change, and that the danger of doing is is precisely these blatant contradictions.

What I also find remarkable is that, faced with this contradiction, the knee-jerk reaction is to critisize the messenger, instead of reflecting on why it happens.

ghost said...

I understand your point, I agree with you. Totally. This kneejerk everything is connected to climate change is not a good approach.

But, I do NOT understand the connection to realclimate. There are different opinions that contradict each other. The opinions are expressed by different people at different time points in a different way. Sorry, I do not see any connection. And I believe, you did not quote realclimate by accident. What was your motivation?

For me, one scientific question is: did something change or is it just noise? The sea ice declined faster than thought. Did this decline change something to the consensus? Some papers blamed the decline for changing the NAO patterns, I believe. Is it just a variation?

Günter Heß said...

@Eduardo Zorita
Excellent observation. Thanks.
It is the nature of science and a scientific discussion that contradictory conclusions and findings get published.
I agree, the knee-jerk reaction is telling
Best regards
Günter

eduardo said...

@ ghost

The IPCC models in 2007 showed that GHG push the NAO to a more positive state. Many papers had shown that, some of them cited in the realclimate piece. There are some problems with that interpretation, for instance that the NAO trend in the 20th century had been mostly negative, until about 1970 or so.
The precipitation changes predicted by the different models do not tend to agree in many areas. Actually only in two: vary high latitudes and the Mediterranean. The explanation for the latter is the upward trending NAO.
The link to realclimate is simply that it was explained there in a lengthy piece. This piece was not a matter of opinion , it reflected the state-of-the art a that time and even now.
The IPCC models simulate a diminishing sea-ice cover, and so this putative effect is also included in all of them.

You are arguing, if I understood properly, that GHG forcing would push the NAO upwards, but if warming goes too quickly and ice-melts more rapidly, that would push the NAO downwards. Well, yes, that is possible. What would be the prediction for the NAO ? upward, downward or depending of what happens ?

Anonymous said...

Eduardo, can you or Hans perhaps explain to me how the paper in the link below fits the claim made in the SciAm article?
From my, admittedly lay, reading of that paper, there's no claim that the NAO will go in a negative phase due to melting ice, but rather the AO. There will be a link between the two, but I can't see exactly how this citation supports the claim made in the SciAm article. in fact, that article is the sole evidence provided, and it should be noted it isn't even a "study", but more like an "opinion" article.

http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/25-2_greene.html

hvw said...

AO and NAO are pretty much the same thing, at least in this qualitative context here.

But you are right that this article is not very much of an article. It reads like an exercise in geofantasizing. In extension, the SciAm story geofantasizes to connect some hurricane to climate change, and I guess that is Eduardo's concern. But they have to sell their magazine too and why would this be unacceptable here, but OK for the "global warming has stopped" fantasy?

eduardo said...

Yes, we should always disclose the opinions on which our facts are based

eduardo said...

@9

hvv,

I would expect higher standards from Scientific American than from the Daily Mail, at least it has been traditionally so over many decades. Perhaps not any more

Rog Tallbloke said...

It is interesting to note that the AO has gone positive at the last solar minima (maybe earlier ones too?). Now we have a weak sun since 2003, and the AO has gone strongly positive for a more sustained period. Coincidence?
http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/michele-casati-correlation-between-solar-activity-and-arctic-ice-extent/

Freddy Schenk said...

There was an interesting article of Roger Pielke Jr. published in The Wall Street Journal: Roger Pielke: Hurricanes and Human Choice.

With some additional days passed, the number of fatalities and damage increased meanwhile. Nevertheless, I like the article as it tries to falsify the impact of climate change on Sandy instead of only searching for warming arguments (without facts) as in the case of Scientific American.

From a scientific point of view, we should try equally hard to find arguments why Sandy is NOT caused by climate change as we search for arguments why Sandy MIGHT be influenced by warming already now or in a possible future.

Perhaps - as two bloggers criticised on Wetterzentrale, a well balanced article would be a mixture of highlighting the large range of natural variations and non-climatic human vulnerability (Pielke Jr.) and in the same time noting the possibly strong impact of small additional changes e.g. due to future global warming (e.g. Spiegel Online). At least both users (mis-)understood Pielke Jr. as denier of "dangerous climate change" as a protagonist of "Climate change prediction: Erring on the side of least drama?" - a point which in my view was not the issue of Roger and his article.

hvw said...

eduardo #11

You really judge the SciAm article to be of a lower standard than the Daily Mail article in question? Come on. Yes, they are unbalanced in that they select arguments for links from the literature, not against. But that is clearly stated, and they transport a mostly correct, it seems, interesting overview about how the arguments work. Large part deals with thermodynamic processes (Clausius-Clapeyron, increasing SST), which, in my humble intuition, are more robust than those slippery atmospheric dynamics.

eduardo said...

@14
hvv,

I meant that whereas I would seldom read an article in the Daily Mail in search of robust information, I would indeed read an article in Scientific American with interest, and I would expect that SciAm informs me in an unbiased and complete way. Whenever I read SciAm on any other debated question in which I am not as acquainted , say genetically modified food, energy, etc, I will not trust it. Probably this is the same reaction that a lay person would have confronted with this article.

When reading the article, you thought that the CC equation and increasing SST, gives you a maybe inaccurate but fair picture of the connection between hurricanes and climate change. More true is, however, that climate models simulate a diminishing number of tropical storms in a warmer world because the atmospheric column becomes more stable. The number of category 4-5 hurricanes is indeed projected to increase, but Sandy was not such a hurricane. This is the 'consensus' to date. I wonder why the article failed mention it. In this sense the article is superficial and , yes, biased. Unnecessarily, I would say.

hvw said...

Freddy, #13

Thanks for the pointer to the Brysse paper; looking forward to that one.

Otherwise, I mightily disagree.

the article ... tries to falsify the impact of climate change on Sandy
No it doesn't. This article is pure politics, rooted in cargo-science arguments, possibly with trace amounts of real science (his own research). How Sandy ranks with respect to some damage measure does not support his hypothesis (i.e. "don't worry, global warming will not result in anything bad relating to extreme weather events"). To mention that there has been a hurricane drought in the last 7 years in the US borders intellectual dishonesty, most readers will take that as information about a climatic trend; Pielke knows that this would be wrong. No word on necessary time intervals for trend detection though. Examples are carefully selected in terms of regional coverage and event type, and refer to loss data that is back-normalized with anthropo-trends to say something about the physical magnitude. This is a joker approach, for example in the one paper by him I read about this topic, there was no correction for improved forecasting, early warning measures and improved building structure. But why care, if on top of it we conveniently ignore more sane approaches, which normalize weather related loss with geophysical loss, or look directly at physical proxies for hurricanes. These studies come to the opposite conclusions. etc... etc...

Honestly, every article that talks about the Sandy-global change connection is politics (or a sad attempt at a good headline). Because scientifically, the answer is clear: Sandy, as part of the state of the atmosphere, would not have happened there and then without global warming, just as the light drizze currently outside my window. Weather is not climate. Period.

Since everything related to this topic is politics, those who are worried about the state of affairs should and must publicize text that reminds people of how vulnerable our civilization is, that we want to avoid possible changes that would lead to more and more intense extreme events, that global warming might well have catastrophic consequences, even for you there in your first world loft, and so on. People listen up now, so the opportunity has to be used to raise awareness. It makes little sense to demand lacking "scientific balance" in a political battle, where the opposing side has absolutely no scruples to misuse science and anything else they can get their hands on. The art in this of course is to stay scientifically honest and not be lured to meet the opponents on their home turf, intellectual lalaland, where the public is deliberately misinformed and numbers and references function as insignia of "science", the cult. Unfortunately, even good scientists are not immune to this.

Reiner Grundmann said...

hvw
I think it is dishonest to portray Roger Pielke as cargo scientist and close to climate denial.
All he is saying is that the data does not support the hypothesis that Sandy is an indication of climate change. There were more powerful and more frequent hurricanes in the past decades. Anyone who wants to check can go to his blog see for themselves.

If everything around Sandy is politics, how come that science matters? And if it matters, better stick to the facts, at least if you are a scientist. Don't you think? Or do you believe that the facts need to be massaged for the good purpose?


Your statement
"Sandy, as part of the state of the atmosphere, would not have happened there and then without global warming" seems plain wrong, even on your own standards (it can't be proven scientifically, it is politics)

"...just as the light drizze currently outside my window. Weather is not climate. Period."

This does not make sense at all. Are you saying everything that happens in the atmosphere is a consequence of climate change? If weather is not climate, how can you state that the drizzle outside your window would not have happened there and then without climate change?

hvw said...

eduardo #15

I agree that this article is biased in a sense that it selects the scientific knowledge and thus evokes a wrong picture of the overall picture of the issues. And I agree that this is a sad state of affairs, that there is no reliable source of information about any those value laden subjects, which you could trust to convey a fair picture to the non-expert audience. That Sandy did not fall into those categories for which the models predict an an creased frequency escaped my attention, so I was fooled too. Thanks for pointing it out.

But this is a general problem of science journalism, not just in global warming, and not just on this side of debate.

I still think that it is possible and desirable to use such events to raise awareness, even though not many seem to be able to do it without mis-representing the science. Sandy exemplifies the power, usefulness and success of NWP, which saved many lives here. Climate models share the same physics. Pointing this out might serve to re-calibrate some people's convictions that these GCMs are all virtual toys with no connection to reality. Just one possible angle.

Freddy Schenk said...

@hvv #16:

OK I agree partly with you, "tries to falsify" was not an optimal phrase here. If you state H0 = "Sandy is influenced by global warming" then you should try to falsify it by searching for arguments Ha = "Sandy is a normal phenomenon". That's not exactly what the article does. It rather goes one step back discussing (selectively) the basis of data, the often necessary adjustment and its possible interpretation in a socio-economical context. Personally, I’m annoyed by articles ignoring this fundamental level and directly start with H0 arguments.

I don’t know if Pielke Jr. should have added also the potential warming arguments here or if it is just us always expecting these kinds of arguments. Perhaps the clear increase of sea-level since 1856 in New York should have been mentioned. My interpretation would be here to take the wide range of extremes having occurred already in the past very seriously to reconsider and optimize already existing adaption strategies. This implies also to avoid or minimize any further alteration of the atmospheric composition as very small changes might have a large impact when natural variations show already how dangerous our planet Earth can be.

hvw said...

Reiner #17

[second half of your comment]
sorry, I was cryptic. The actual course of atmospheric dynamics and the actual weather is different from what it would be without AGW. As it would without, say, the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, or much smaller events. "Butterfly effect" says something to you. This is of course trivial and meaningless to the debate at hand. But, in my opinion, this is the only scientifically robust statement you can make about cause and effect regarding AGW and a particular storm.

If everything around Sandy is politics,..
Everything in the general media that talks for or against a causal relationship. Yes. Because this question is ill posed, because weather is not climate. You might find research that looks into atmospheric precursor conditions for such an event, and then speculate about how that could become more or less likely in the future. But even there, the AGW link should be at most a footnote to spice things up, the real value of such a study is a better understanding of atmospheric dynamics, and such topics are not covered by WSJ.

All he is saying is that the data does not support the hypothesis that Sandy is an indication of climate change.
That would be perfectly sane. But why then sling a bunch of numbers which are completely unrelated to the question? Why then present one, in my opinion not particular well suited, way of looking at these trends, but completely ignore other ways of looking at this, which yield the opposite result? Why cherry-pick disaster types and regions where we don't have good information, but exclude the equally long list where we have some confidence? Why feeding the fallacy that absence of evidence would imply evidence of absence? Why ignore the possibility of unforeseeable abrupt changes of the climate system? Why if not to evoke the impression of scientific authority to support your conclusion ("changes to energy policies wouldn't have a discernible impact on future disasters for the better part of a century or more."), which is just a political opinion, not more.

There were more powerful and more frequent hurricanes in the past decades. Yes, and your for example were fooled to believe that this says something about climate-scale trend. Right? Look at just one other "fact" please.

It is perfectly OK to argue your opinion and evoke your intuition as an expert in the field to support it. It is another matter to pretend that scientific facts (the stable ones) are supporting your position when they are not. And this is not even cargo-science. That is just silly. And yes, this also happens on the other side of the divide.

Hans von Storch said...

When reading about Sandy, two other cases come to my mind: Nargis in Myanmar and Katrina in New Orleans. In both cases, a strong but not exceptional storm (in terms of intensity, Nargis was possibly exceptional in terms of its track), a major storm surges developed and caused massive changes. In case of Myanmar more than 100,000 dead.

The storms and their tracks had been predicted well in advance; in all cases, including Sandy, preparational activities were absent (Nargis) or little (New York). In New Orleans there were even gaps in the flood walls. It has been reported that there was only one case in New York that sand bag walls were built - it was the foresight of a bank doing so for protecting its building.

In all the cases, the civil defense was insufficient, and little to nothing was set up to deal with the disaster, once it happened. Now, several days later, the situation is still grave, and people begin using it for their usual weltanschaulichen fight.

Mayor Bloomberg suggested that it is really the issue of climate change, which had been mismanaged. This argument implies that the situation is now different than a few years ago; that coastal and civil defenses were in order, the city did what it was supposed to do, but suddenly, there is this external force, Global Warming, which the city could not deal with. Thus, the mayor, this time Bloomberg, is not to be blamed, because it was something else. The same argument was used when many people died in France during the heat wave in 2003, or in the Heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe of Bert Brecht. Thus, I see Bloomberg's statement as a mere excuse for his own failure of running an efficient catastrophe preparation and management service in the city, of which he has responsibility. [Maybe, he did not act, because the public did not want to fund such an effort.]

Reading daily the International Herald Tribune, the international edition of NY Times, I can see the dilemma which some feel. The reporting about the storm is analytical, and one can read that Kevin Trenberth would assign very little influence of global warming to the meteorological condition (being otherwise an alarmist, he once got famous for deconstruction the 1988 heat wave, when Jim Hansen declared Global Warming to be here - in the US Senate, as being due to La Nina conditions), but in the commentaries of party-supporters like Krugman, one finds the source of the drama squarely associated with unchecked Global Warming.

For me, the drama of the three storm surges had its source in the vulnerability of people and infrastructure; the lack of preparedness. The usual rhetoric of climate catastrophe is not helpful for overcoming these structural problems. The inability of dealing with the hazard had in Myanmar to do with internal policies; the same is true in the US, whose political culture is difficult to understand for people for whom "wer nicht dieken will mut wieken" is an almost trivial norm. (But I have to agree that there were some who explained the drowning of Rungholt as divine response to human sins.)

The argument of hvw I found rather polemic and not really well thought of. (It would ruin my prejudices, if he would be from a coastal region, where most people have an understanding what a storm surge is, and what it means to live with such a phenomenon.) How would he have argued on the 15. November 1872? (Before answering, read Brückner's description of the debate about man-made climate change in the late 19th century.)

Reiner Grundmann said...

hvw 20
"Why cherry-pick disaster types and regions where we don't have good information, but exclude the equally long list where we have some confidence?"

Please can you provide details

"Why feeding the fallacy that absence of evidence would imply evidence of absence? Why ignore the possibility of unforeseeable abrupt changes of the climate system?"

Where does Pielke do this? He says that attribution of such changes is not contained in the past data.

I agree with Hans - your comment was entirely polemical.

hvw said...

Reiner #20,

Please can you provide details
Just compare Pielke's paragraphs 3,4,5,6 with SREX chapter 3.

"Why feeding the fallacy that absence of evidence would imply evidence of absence? [1]Why ignore the possibility of unforeseeable abrupt changes of the climate system?[2]"

Where does Pielke do this?

1) here: "But to call Sandy a harbinger of a "new normal," in which unprecedented weather events cause unprecedented destruction, would be wrong."
Fact (stable one) is: We don't know.

2) I am using "ignore" to indicate that he doesn't mention it. So the answer is "everywhere".

I agree with Hans - your comment was entirely polemical.

Partly polemical, yes. I am working on my skills to write as cleverly disguised polemics as Pielke does.

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

Pielke Jr. explicitly states: “There are no signs that human-caused climate change has increased the toll of recent disasters, as even the most recent extreme-event report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds.
That’s utter rubbish to be blunt. There are plenty of indications which suggest that weather-related natural hazards have already been increasing and will likely continue to do so in the future. While this might not be the case for hurricanes (although the Atlantic ACE index suggests otherwise), it can well be expected for droughts, heat waves, or floods. Finding no significant trends in the data doesn’t mean that there is no trend at all. That’s what the SREX report also mentions. Why does he fail to point that out? In doing so, in my point of view he clearly feeds the fallacy that absence of evidence would imply evidence of absence.

Let me ask you one question. Would you agree with his final statement?
The only strategies that will help us effectively prepare for future disasters are those that have succeeded in the past: strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations.
Do you agree that no mitigation effort is required at all? That runs counter to the precautionary principle and implies a stunning amount of irresponsibility. I can’t help but think that his reasoning is based only on ideology rather than science. It doesn’t help that he is discussing several valid points beforehand, if he eventually misuses this (incomplete) list of facts to make his political case. He speaks as a scientist and as such he pushes forward a fringe position which isn’t backed up or endorsed by the scientific community at all … unless you think that the majority of us are ruling out mitigation or precautionary measures.

As polemical as hvw’s comment might be, its bottom line is entirely true. Pielke Jr. once again plays down the risks wherever he can. In my opinion, this is pure dishonesty disguised with the label “honest broker”.

Reiner Grundmann said...

hvw
I agree that we don't know if there will be more frequent and more violent storms. But Pielke makes a specific statement with regard to Sandy: the keyword is "harbinger". Only if Sandy was a more violent storm (and maybe the second or third in such a series) could this be seen as a harbinger of a "new normal".

Rather than telling me I should read the SREX and compare to Pielke I'd rather listen to what you think is the discrepancy.

Karsten
Pielke as a good Hartwellian is all in favour of sensible mitigation policies. But the statement about disasters prevention and preparedness still stands, irrespective of what their causes are.

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

#25:

To focus exclusively on adaptation is silly at best and disastrous at worst. That has nothing to do with the Hartwell paper, not even remotely. As far as I know, it is ultimately also aiming at decarbonisation, i.e. mitigation. Please correct me if I am wrong. I fully agree that there are several strategies to get there, but Pielke Jr. doesn’t even mention fossil fuels. Again, that’s irresponsible and has nothing to do with a sensible mitigation policy. Or is it that you think a NO mitigation strategy is sensible? If this is case, I wholeheartedly disagree and so does the overwhelming majority of the community. Honestly, I am fed up with Pielke’s game of notoriously downplaying whatever kind of risk we might face. And I am certainly not the only one who thinks that way …

hvw said...

Reiner,

But Pielke makes a specific statement with regard to Sandy: the keyword is "harbinger".

No, the main statement is after the comma. Pielke generalizes: "But to call Sandy a harbinger of a "new normal," in which unprecedented weather events cause unprecedented destruction, would be wrong."

And in this generality, which he needs for his political agenda, he is just plain wrong. And opposed to politicians or certain-type skeptics he knows it. He mentions tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and droughts, because there are factoids available to support his agenda. He doesn't mention heatwaves because there aren't. He is talking as a scientist, as an expert, but he distorts the information and associated (un)certainty offered by the current body of knowledge. Reckless political game playing. And successful at that: We are talking about it.

Reiner Grundmann said...

hvw
I am sorry but I don't follow you. If you want to make the statement that Pielke is in denial of climate change mitigation (which is a stark claim) you need some evidence. What you present is
1 He has a dubious political agenda
2 He interprets disasters incorrectly

In your account, both are constituted mutually, so his wrong headed Sandy example follows from his political agenda, but his political agenda motivates his search for wrong headed examples. This circle is one you have constructed without any further evidence. Then you use it against him, as if it were an established fact. Chapeau!

Anonymous said...

Ich sehe den Artikel von Pielke jr. ebenfalls sehr kritisch.

And even under the assumptions of the IPCC, changes to energy policies wouldn't have a discernible impact on future disasters for the better part of a century or more.

Das klingt nun ja nicht so, als wäre Mitigation nötig. 'Für Hurricanes gilt das von Karsten weiter oben gesagte (absence of evidence ist nicht evidence of absence), und in Bezug auf Hitzewellen verstehe ich Pielkes Aussage überhaupt nicht mehr.


The only strategies that will help us effectively prepare for future disasters are those that have succeeded in the past: strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations. That is the real lesson of Sandy.

Das ist alles? Kein Wort zu Mitigation, kein Wort zur Hartwellschen Carbon Tax?

Wenn Pielke tatsächlich für Mitigation ist, dann verbirgt er es meisterhaft in seinen öffentlichen Auftritten. Heartland war so zufrieden mit Pielkes Wirken, dass man dort jahrelang Pielke jr. als Heartlandexperte auf der Homepage geführt hat.


Was ist Pielkes Hauptsorge?

Another danger: Public discussion of disasters risks being taken over by the climate lobby and its allies, who exploit every extreme event to argue for action on energy policy.

Hm, ja, das ist aber in der Politik normal, dass extreme Ereignisse benutzt werden, um eine bestimmte Politik durchzusetzen (z.B. Fukushima/Energiewende in D). Davon ist man in den USA weit entfernt, Sandy führte immerhin dazu, dass das Thema climate change durch Sandy dann doch noch in Medien und im Wahlkampf aufkam, obwohl beide Kandidaten es doch zu verstecken suchten.

Manche Medien begrüßen diese Wende, man lese statt WSJ z.B. mal Bloomberg Businessweek:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-01/its-global-warming-stupid

Pielke hat sich in seinem Blog ja leider nur zum reißerischen Titelbild geäußert, schade.

Reiner, Pielke hat in Teilen der Debatte einen ziemlich schlechten Ruf. Und ich meine, man muss zugestehen, dass sich Pielke diesen Ruf über lange Zeit hart erarbeitet hat.

Andreas

hvw said...

Reiner,

sigh. But a comment with such a nice compliment at the end needs to be answered.

If you want to make the statement that Pielke is in denial of climate change mitigation...
I wouldn't even know what that exactly means.

1 He has a dubious political agenda
The "dubious" is yours

2 He interprets disasters incorrectly
Hmm well, slightly besides the point.

Try this way:
Everybody here, me included, seems to agree that talk about how "Sandy" was or was not caused by global warming is not helpful and distracts from what can be learned from the incident. What that is has been laid out nicely by Hans von Storch above, and also by Pielke in his last paragraphs. Had he stuck to that, and topped it off with slapping Bloomberg for invoking climate change as a cheap distraction from his alleged failures, there would have been standing ovations from my side.

Instead though, he uses Sandy as a reason to argue how global warming is not and will not cause an increase of natural hazards. He knows that one storm is conceptually just not reconcilable with anything climate, but the public tends to confuse this. He fuels the confusion instead of to clarify and to educate. Next he utilizes the authority of science to knowingly evoke a false picture of what we know and don't know about global warming and natural hazards, en passant utilizing and reinforcing another common fallacy. This is just the opposite of how a responsible academic expert should behave, in my humble opinion. In Italy he would have one leg in jail already ;).

I am certain that his motives for this must be political, because I just can't imagine any other reason. This is supported by the predictability of his public and academic statements. As for the exact form and shape of this political agenda I have my thoughts, which I don't want to make public now.

Am I still arguing so elegantly circular?

RainerS said...

hvw,

I am not aware of Pielke stating AGW may not increase the danger of natural hazards in the future. Please relieve my of my ignorance.

What false pictures is he invoking and what common fallacies is he reinforcing?

If I recall correctly, Pielke jr. is in favour of a carbon tax to push research. Am I wrong?

Re his alleged political agenda: he said on is blog he´d be voting for Obama - just a clever scheme to distract enlightened critics like you? Or maybe Obama is payed by the fossil fuel lobby as well? Maybe you could share your "thoughts". Since nobody here knows your real name, what´s the harm?

And why don´t you take him on on his blog? There are times when we appears to be quite patient with commenters who don´t agree with his approach.

Also, congratulations for trying using your own words to introduce the "systemic causation" meme. IMHO, the "perfect" approach for anybody willing to obfuscate any issue in any field. That´s not quite the way open questions were dealt with when I was still in academia.

A personal remark: it is people like you and that "dotted" Karsten who helped me to reconsider my Zeitgeist-beliefs on a number of questions, most of them not related to climate change. Thank you for that!

eduardo said...

@ 18

hvw,

'But this is a general problem of science journalism, not just in global warming, and not just on this side of debate'

yes, I agree. But the correcting the records should be welcome those interested in science, independently of the colour of the journalist.


'I still think that it is possible and desirable to use such events to raise awareness, even though not many seem to be able to do it without mis-representing the science'

I think this is very dangerous. This was, I think, the reasoning underlying the hockey-stick paraphernalia - I mean not the Mann et al., paper in isolation but all around it - and it backfired.

'Sandy exemplifies the power, usefulness and success of NWP, which saved many lives here. Climate models share the same physics. #

That is an interesting point of view. I guess that if seasonal or even decadal predictions were successful, many more people would tend to accept long-term climate projections



RainerS said...

@29 Andreas,

hatte Sie schon vermisst auf diesem Thread!

Könnten Sie einem zeitlich überfoderten Menschen wie mir vielleicht auch ein wenig Unterstützung angedeihen lassen?

In welchen Teilen welcher Debatte hat Pielke einen schlechten Ruf? Ein wenig spezifischer wäre fein. Bisher hielt ich den Mann für einen Pedanten in seinem Wissengebiet, mit dessen epistomologischer Position ich durchaus konform gehen könnte,

Und sofern ich Climate Fix nicht zu hastig gelesen haben sollte (immer nur 20-30 Minuten beim Pendeln im Zug kann natürlich die Rezipierung beeinträchtigen), ist er für eine CO2-Steuer. Muss er das in jedem Blogpost wiederholen?

Generell: für die nächsten 20-30 Jahre erscheint eine lokale Adaption (no-regrets-actions) allemal sinnvoll. Und wenn man dann noch so böse Begriffe wie ROI und TOC kennt, wird´s vielleicht für den einen oder anderen Monomanen unübersichtlich, ändert aber nichts daran, was mittelfristig sinnvoll ist und was nicht.

Eine globalgalaktische Vereinbarung können wir uns abschminken. Das sollte jeder nach COP15 begriffen haben. Oder fast jeder...

Im übrigen fand ich es sehr gut, dass Sie sich hier für ein IV zur Verfügung gestellt haben. Bei vielen Posts einiger Kommentatoren hier habe ich massive Anfälle von kognitiver Dissonanz (dh konkret Widersprüche zwischen deren und meiner Wahrnehmung).

Bei Ihnen hätte ich allerdings nicht ein Physik-Studium vermutet, sodern eher etwas wie Informatik plus Kontakt zu jesuitischer Denkweise oder anderen Sophistereien. So kann man sich irren :)

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

@ #31
RainerS,

"I am not aware of Pielke stating AGW may not increase the danger of natural hazards in the future. Please relieve my of my ignorance."

Could you relieve me of my blindness and point me to the line in his WSJ piece where he makes mention of it?

I am not interested in what he said elsewhere, I can read what he said in this arcticle. And this article is not a Blogpost! As mentioned before, in this very article he clearly rejects any mitigation measures. In doing so, he is well in line with Obamas current policy. Therefore I see no conflict with his personal opinion if he votes for him. But more importantly however, it is absolutely irrelevant who someone is voting for and has nothing to do with our discussion. It boils down to mere distraction in my humbled opinion. No one is argueing against adaptation measures, nor am I in favor for global climate negotiations. But to argue against mitigation is indeed plain reckless. Scientists have to make their results public and they have to respond if they are asked. Thereby they have to honestly respresent the state of the science with all the potential dangers and with all the involved uncertainties. However, the higher the uncertainties, the stricter the precautionary measures, right? That's common sense as we surely agree. How these precautionary measures look like is not upon us to decide. Despite the fact that Roger Pielke Jr. is neither discussing potential future risks nor the limitations of his "analysis", he feels entitled to make policy statement.

And yes, those who don't call themselves "honest broker" (which is the overwhelming majority of active climate community as far as I know; I would even argue that only few people are familiar with this term, at least in my field) tend to take his word with a grain of salt. To be fair, many probably wouldn't even know him.

If you wish to track my occupation, you can now do so by clicking my name. Be sure, that my opinion is well in line with my colleagues (here and elsewhere). Whether this reinforces your Zeitgeist-belief is beyond my sway ...


@ #32
Eduardo,

"That is an interesting point of view. I guess that if seasonal or even decadal predictions were successful, many more people would tend to accept long-term climate projections"

Everyone who is familiar with the dynamics and physics of the climate system knows that there's a temporal gap with regard to the predictive model skills, which is a simple consequence of the decadal variability you are just referring to. While our skills to predict the next 10-20 years are indeed low, our confidence in the long-term projections (2050-2100) is fairly high (if we were to assume a specific emission scenario). May I hence ask which point you are trying to make? Would people know more of the physics, they would certainly tend to accept the long-term projections better.

Werner Krauss said...

@ K.a.r.S.t.e.N. #34

Please reconsider your statement:

"If you wish to track my occupation, you can now do so by clicking my name. Be sure, that my opinion is well in line with my colleagues (here and elsewhere)."

You mean it? You really use "being in line" as an argument to defend your point? Wow!

Werner Krauss said...

Rainer #33

"Eine globalgalaktische Vereinbarung können wir uns abschminken. Das sollte jeder nach COP15 begriffen haben. Oder fast jeder..."

Why does everybody give up on global negotiations? Of course, they won't "solve" the problem, but don't we need a global agreement, too? The local means nothing when not connected to the global, vice versa. This is true in respect to adaptation as well as mitigation. Just think of the volunteers and NGOs who do the dirty jobs: they often times rely on the "global" to legitimize their work. The global is an indispensable resource which we cannot give up easily.

Furthermore: Isn't contempt for "global negotiations" and "global politics" not just part of scientists' "habitus" or identity? Maybe we should discuss this in a new thread, but I realize here and elsewhere that contempt for the global turns into a commonplace - we have to re-open this box, urgently!

hvw said...

eduardo #18,

I think this is very dangerous. [to use such events to raise awareness]

Yes, maybe too dangerous for what I had in mind. Still it is a window of opportunity for climate science communication; whether you actively search for ways to communicate, or whether you just have to answer these phone calls from the local newspaper asking if that storm indicates that the end of the world is near. Some guidance, some recommended strategy would be helpful. Science associations could sit together with communication experts to foster a correct and coherent response from the science side.

That is an interesting point of view.

Incapable of good thinking myself, as I am frequently reminded on this blog, I had to steal this idea from Knutti. There is also a new paper linked, which I believe is quite important to digest, for climate scientist who are engaged in public outreach.

But the correcting the records ... independently of the colour of the journalist.

Yes indeed. You remind us of the necessary mental vigilance for sticking to the science and not be suckered into politically tainted perception. And that ain't easy for political beings, which we all are, as our social science friends will assure. Being picky about correctness seems even more important in "the own camp", in particular if that camp is labelled "science".

In that spirit:

K.a.r.S.t.e.N:
While our skills to predict the next 10-20 years are indeed low, our confidence in the long-term projections (2050-2100) is fairly high ..

There is some difference in epistemological oomph between "skill" and "confidence", isn't it?

Werner Krauss said...

@ Eduardo 18 and hvw #37

"I think this is very dangerous. [to use such events to raise awareness]"

Yes, indeed, but it is unavoidable and beyond your (our) control - "people" just do it. Thus, the question is not to raise this relation or not (which is done anyway), but how to phrase that relation in a meaningful (and scientifically bearable) way. And this indeed is a challenge.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Regarding the communication of science it may be worth pointing out that Sandy was not communicated properly to the US public in the North East. Believe it or not, there was no hurricane warning issued. Read the article in the New York Times here. It is in this context that calls for preparedness and adaption are made. What sense does it make to blame climate change in this situation (especially when Sandy is not exceptional)?

Werner Krauss said...

Reiner,

in times of climate change, there is nothing wrong about being prepared for hurricanes and have proper warnings. This is a lesson Sandy tells us, too. And Sandy is not at all a natural disaster. There is nothing wrong phrasing it this way. Even skeptics might agree.

Anonymous said...

@ hvw

A new and interesting paper by Knutti et al.?

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n11/full/nclimate1562.html?WT.ec_id=EXTERNAL&WT.mc_id=EMX_NatureClimate_1211_NovContent

Pielke Jr. on that subject: “New Nature CC paper, over next 55 years it may be difficult to detect human caused clim chg due to climate variability”

http://twitter.com/RogerPielkeJr/status/265893609688158208

By the way and when you quote a paper edited by Kerry E. Emanuel (see post 20) don't forget to read this here ...

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.ch/2010/11/82-billion-prediction.html

It might give us a better understanding of the Pielke bashing which seems to be quite popular among you and some of your friends.
Still hope he weighs in here and gives an appropriate answer to your weakly founded ad hom attacks.

V. Lenzer

Hans von Storch said...

It is quite entertaining to see a number of younger alpha-animals making definite claims. This time, again, on extreme events. First, some extreme events are and will change towards the worse, some may change in future towards the worse; some are presently become less serious (cold spells),. some will more so in the future. Some are not really changing beyond natural variability. In which category are storm surges? - They are in "may change in the future". The question is - when? Have they changed so far? - hardly.

Somebody wanted to sell the assertion "in which unprecedented weather events cause unprecedented destruction, would be wrong." as being false, thus "unprecedented weather events cause unprecedented destruction" would be right. Ok - now, what about this case, Elbe estuary - beginning in 1962, until about 1980 storm surges in Hamburg became worse and worse (+70 cm relative to Cuxhaven; no climate change, but lots of claims that it would be attributable to climate change, now falsified) - but where is the "unprecedented" destruction? Coastal defense in Hamburg and along the Elbe has enormously been improved in these years, and the destruction of the weaker 1962 event, was much stronger than that of 1976, when the surge was considerably higher. In 1962 we had lots of dike failures and more than 300 lives lost, in 1976 one or or two (no fatalities), since then no failures.

I find it almost unbelievable that somebody seriously considers mitigation a significant component in fighting the present hazard of storm surges. An analogue would be if you find a particular street crossing prone for accidents, and you want to fight it by enforcing no-drinking rules. The latter, no-drinking while driving, makes very much sense, but the crossing needs to be re-engineered, by changing rules or the configuration of streets, street lights etc.

And I can tell you if we would suggest our managers of coastal defense that using less energy would change their problem in any significant manner in the coming decades, they would simply throw us on the street, rightly so.

The lesson of Sandy is the same as Katrina and Nargis - "wer nicht dieken will mut wieken" (them, who do not build dikes, must leave). Any idea why we hear less about big storm surge disasters in Bangladesh in recent decades? Nor more Bola storms with 300,000 and more dead. (Minor ones - still there - Katrina would count as minor in that setting.) Because of reduced emissions?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

Hi All-

Several people have pointed me to this thread and the comments being made about my views. I do not recognize myself in many of the comments being made here;-)

There need be no uncertainty about my views, having written lots on the climate issue. Anyone wondering what my views may be, please feel free to ask, I'll be happy to respond.

Thanks!

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

@Werner #34:
Read "being in line" in a consensus sense. I see it as my duty to communicate the scientific consensus (if there is one). The consensus regarding the issue at hand is that both, adaptation AND mitigation is required. In this sense, the existing consensus clearly supports my argument. Or do you agree with Roger Pielke Jr. that ONLY "strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations" will help us to effectively prepare for future disasters? While this may well be the case for Hurricanes alone, sea level rise can't be stopped without mitigation and in turn, we can't protect every coastal city forever.


@hvw #37:
For the sake of consistency I should have used either "skill" or "confidence" both times. One might argue about long-term predictive skills, but I think it is fair to say that they are also higher then decadal predictive skills. Thanks for pointing that out!


@Reiner #39:
NOAA has issued explicit statements in advance as to why they are not issuing tropical warnings: www.co.hunterdon.nj.us
See terminology. The "personal plea" from Gary Szatkowski is also an interesting read.


@Hans #42:
Who made claims that storm surges in Hamburg would be attributable to climate change back then?
What has mitigation to do with present storm surges? Who considers mitigation a component in fighting present hazards? Mitigation is exclusively about future risks, mainly from sea level rise to which we can hardly adapt. It might well concern the far future, but that's not of relevance. Of course we change almost nothing within our lifetime, but science clearly suggests that we can significantly reduce risks in the coming centuries. So here is my question: Why shouldn't we care? Unless we consider ourselves as strictly and irreversibly self-centered, I see no reason not to think about mitigation (which is particularly true as research also suggests that a dual mitigation and adaptation strategy is cheaper in the long run than adaptation alone). If the managers of coastal defense don't care about the distant future, fine for me. But as a scientist, I have to disagree! It is upon the experts to provide long-sighted and prudent advice. Therefore even the slightest hint that we might reach certain tipping points in the not so distant future (we have plenty of evidence that there are tipping points in the climate system) should make us think about taking precautionary measures. Why is the "honest broker" camp so reluctant to clearly acknowledge this point? As already mentioned, it's not upon us to decide how to act rather than to point out that we have to act somehow. Not because climate change is the only problem we have, but because it potentially exacerbates the other problems quite severly.
Bhola was an extreme event and so was Sandy. Any extrem event raises interest. It is sad, that climate change only becomes a temporary issue if weather-related destruction is involved.


@Roger #43:
Thanks for stopping by. I'd like to ask you the same question I aimed at Werner: Do you really believe that ONLY "strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations" will help us to prepare effectively for future disasters? What about future sea level rise? Projections are uncertain, no doubt. Uncertainty though requires even stricter precautionary measures, or do you disagree?
As an aside: What about research which suggests that we are financially better off if we were to take mitigation+adaptation measures rather than just trying to adopt?

Hans von Storch said...

K.a.r.S.t.e.n.

1. Grassl.

2. For the foreseeable future (few decades), the measures suggested by Pielke are the only ones, sure. If you refer to long horizons of centuries, the situation will be different, but then also societal organization and technology will be different.

3. Tipping points: we have plenty of suggestion of such phenomena, but little evidence. Was the appearance of hering at the Bohuslän coast a manifestation of a tipping point?

4. Consensus: "Mitigation and adaption is required". I doubt that the scientific consensus is on "required" without further qualification. This is the language of science prescribing policies. It may well be that most scientists, as citizens, hold such a position, but this is a legitimate value-decision (which I share) and not science.

May I suggest that you - first - use a bit more moderate language (in general, not this time), and - second - that try to be a bit more nuanced? YOu once indicated that oine could learn bout you by clicking on your name. - This did not work for me, could you repeat (my guess is that you are a person younger than 35 from inland)?

Werner Krauss said...

Karsten,

"I see it as my duty to communicate the scientific consensus."

Please excuse me, but whenever I hear this sentence I know that we talk politics now. 100%, no exception, never. It's klimazwiebel- proof. No need to argue anymore, because SCIENCE will win in the end. You won already. I am out.

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

@Hans # 45:
1. Thanks. A bit more context would be welcomed ... which is not to say I doubt he made such claims.

2. If you grant me another question: Why do you think we can't mitigate? In fact, Germany is already doing that to some extent.

3. I think we have decent evidence for the existence of tipping points (e.g. Lenton et al. PNAS 2008). We have no evidence that we are even close to anyone of these, but we know they can happen. Again, why should we take the risk?

4. Agreed. I should have said mitigation and adaptation is desirable, though the latter is only partly under our control. Most science is explicitly endorsing mitigation. Whether it is therefore required or not is a value-decision. Although some people might argue that this is playing with semantics ...

Clicking my name worked in the previous posting. I forgot to put the link again by mistake. My fault. I am a postdoc (36) working in the UK who follows the blogosphere for several years now (posting on weather relevant issues for 12 years). I used to look at Roger Pielke Jrs work more nuanced at the beginning, but this has unfortunately changed over time. I apologize if my tone sounds too offensive, but I would expect a bit more balanced view from a self-proclaimed "honest broker" in an opinion piece. Yet, it seems to be widely endorsed here (which in turn shouldn't be too surprising given that you follow the same "honest broker" concept).



@Werner # 46:
If you dislike the word consensus, you may replace it with majority view. Even if I have a completely different personal opinion, as a scientist I must not conceal what the majority view is. It is a simple matter of responsibility and common sense.

RainerS said...

@34 Karsten, thank you for pointing me to your website. Interesting job you are doing.

I also enjoyed my post-doc "era". I also enjoyed being so sure about everything - back then.

However, working in business is somewhat more rewarding in the sense that inappropriate analysis of data gets you killed much more quickly than in academia. Jogs the mind :-)

My comment on Pielke´s political affiliation was aimed at hvw who probably has an entertaining conspiracy theory to share.

Hans von Storch said...

Thanks, K.a.r.S.t.e.n., this was helpful and clarifying. But where did I say that "we can't mitigate"? The question is how much and how fast. We (as humankind) did mitigate in the past 20 years, but we have unprecedented growth in atmospheric GHG concentrations, do we? "Mitigation" as well as "adaptation" are not issues of "yes" or "no" but of "how much".

Now, fracking - is this an efficient mitigation effort? Did anybody plan for this measure? My answers are - within the limits of what I understand - yes and no.

RainerS said...

@36 Werner,

Personally, I have not given up on intl. negotiations, I did not really believe in their success in the first place. The only aspect of the COP15 failure that surprised me was the bluntness the BRICs et al dismissed the European position. This was rather "un-Asian". Unfortunately, my predicting skills are not good in other areas - I never win in any lottery or sports bets.

And, sorry, I have no studies to back up my belief. Just gut feeling. My employer is doing business all over the world, and my jobs involves talking to many people from a number of countries, both within the company and on the customer side. No academics :-)
In the foreseeable future, the diversity of national interests appears to be too broad.

Additionally, for any intl. measures to make sense, viable technologies - adpated to the specific situation in a given country - are needed. Frankly, I don´t see them for some decades to come. Which is too bad, because we are offering - among other things - stuff used by the renewables industry. Since part of my salary depends on aggregated performance figures, my bank account would prefer a different state of affairs.


Hans von Storch said...

K.a.r.S.t.e.n. - I do not think that the concepts of "consensus" and "majority view" have much in common, but certainly not in science. Again, a reference to the history of our social activity, called scientific research, will reveal lots of examples. Therefore I am telling stories about the Elbe and Bohuslän.

Think of Feynman and his norm, that we should strive for extra efforts of showing that we are wrong - in most cases "we" are part of the majority.

I just attended a symposium by EU officials - no discussion allowed - who pretended that science was an ongoing success story; no mentioning that the whole train ran into (now considered: absurd) false majority-view concepts: ether, Lysenkoism, eugenics + rassicsm, to mention a few prominent ones (Lysenkoism was "consensus" in Soviet Union, with many supporters in the west.)

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

@RainerS #48:

Well, I am now quite sure how the majority of the community thinks about desired policy action. With regard to the science, as an aerosol researcher I couldn't be more aware of the physical uncertainties ;-). It is however not very comforting to know, that even if we get the climate impact of anthropogenic aerosols only halfway right (-0.9 W/m2 total TOA-Forcing with even stronger surface forcing) the 2 degree temperature limit would be nothing more than wishful thinking (putting aside that the 2 degree limit is of course scientifically questionable) . I really like the term "Faustian aerosol bargain" which may haunt us at some stage if China starts cleaning up their exhausts (as Europe and North America did in the last 30 years causing global brightening). Better hope we got it wrong ...

Anyways, I chimed in the Pielke case between you and hvw, because this was the reason for me to post here upon some sort of invitation from Freddy (#13) with whom I enjoyed fruitful discussions over there at Wetterzentrale for years. As I do widely agree with hvw - I am sorry to say that - what should a reader who considers climate change by virtue of his scientific expertise as a serious issue make of Pielkes proposition? I may recall the respective passage: "Another danger: Public discussion of disasters risks being taken over by the climate lobby and its allies, who exploit every extreme event to argue for action on energy policy."
That's utterly disingenuous and it's by far not the first time he made such nonsensical statements. It's a dangerous political game! On top of that, his double standards are quite telling when it comes to calling out the "other side" on doing the exact same thing he is just doing. Honestly, it lacks the basis for rational debate. I don't know in how far you can follow my reasoning in this regard.

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

@Hans #49 and #51:

My assertion is based on your endorsement of Pielkes Jrs. statement (2. reply in #45). He said: "The only strategies that will help us effectively prepare for future disasters are those that have succeeded in the past: strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations.".
This led me to the conclusion that you consider mitigation irrelevant for the foreseeable future as this is what Pielke Jr. clearly said. Granted, he mentioned that it is important to take action on energy policies before in his WSJ piece. But why is he contradicting himself then? Call me picky, but this sort of confusion is a pattern one can find on his blog and elsewhere all too often. Not very amusing given how many people quote him regularly as if he would represent the majority view. In polemical terms, I would one may call the don't-worry-be-happy view.

Otherwise I fully agree with all what you are saying. As for fracking, it is hard to understand why someone would invest in new fossil resources when solar energy and wind is literally available around the corner everywhere in the US. Plenty of it. If they want to become energy independent, why not putting an extra effort in renewables and the required infrastructure? It is paying off in the not too distant future by any means. Fracking is presumably the most inefficient way to mitigate GHG emissions.

With regard to consensus vs. majority view, I agree that the latter is more appropriate in most cases. And yes, they are clearly not the same. I wholeheartedly agree that we should question our current wisdom as strong as we can. But while we are doing that, we have to stick to the current status quo when we communicate our very wisdom to the public. If there is as much as stake as it is in climate science, we are better off to communicate the whole range of possible future changes and challenges - no matter how hard we try to disprove ourselves back there in the "ivory tower". Don't worry, be happy is certainly the wrong message in my humbled opinion.
Was the eugenics and racisms concept endorsed by scientists around the world or just a local phenomenon, reinforced by strong external pressure at that time? Given that I have been experiencing a high degree of scientific freedom whereever I worked so far, the chances that the whole "climate train" runs into a false concept seems quite unlikely these days. Almost everyone who I had the pleasure to work together with seemed fairly self-critical rather than overconfident of its own results. Nonetheless, good to be reminded of that what happened in the past (coincidentally, I recently read about the Lysenkoism issue). Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

Erratum to #53:

The last sentense in the first paragraph should read: "In polemical terms, one may call it the don't-worry-be-happy view."

In the last paragraph, replace "unlikely" by "small".

eduardo said...

@34,


Karsten,

'referring to. While our skills to predict the next 10-20 years are indeed low, our confidence in the long-term projections (2050-2100) is fairly high (if we '

I look at at the relevant figure from the IPCC report and the uncertainty in the simulated global mean temperature in 2100 within a given scenario is about 3 C. Given that for instance 3 C is more than the limit for dangerous climate change (2 C) and about half of the difference between glacial and interglacial states, I would not say that the confidence is high, unless you mean that , yes, all models simulate warming.

There is an implicit methodological tension in these type of assertions: from the policy-making point of view, all models agree, as they simulated warming. form the scientific point of view, they widely disagree, and nobody can pin down which models are the wrong ones.

The point I was trying to make can be better illustrated in the negative: if seasonal predictions, say the barbeque summer in the UK, turn out to be clearly wrong, this undermines the credibility of all climate science in the view of the general public. The argument then goes that if they were right, it would support all other climate projections as well. Maybe for the wrong reasons

eduardo said...

Karsten,

my reading of Pielke Jr. is that given the historical record of decarbonization of Western economies it will be virtually impossible to achieve the required reduction in emissions. So for anyone that takes the IPCC climate projections as correct, the only way of effective protection is.. protection. It would be foolish to rely on a forthcoming global climate agreement. I do not see that Roger would oppose such agreement, he just sees it as quite unlikely, and many would agree with him. Perhaps he can correct or confirm this view.

Some persons may want to use hurricanes like Sandy as a way to nudge policy makers towards a climate agreement, although the science may still be uncertain . It might happen that climate change will exacerbate other type of extremes, and not precisely hurricanes. In that case, that strategy will backfire

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

@Eduardo #55 and #56:

Thanks for clarification.
What I said about decadal predictions holds also true for seasonal predictions. We have barely no skills in predicting seasonal climate, neither globally, nor locally. We are able to tell what ENSO is going to do the next 3 months which provides some clue about typical circulation patterns we might expect to continue or change. But for Europe? Even NAO predictions are hardly skillful beyond a fortnight, although there is a tendency for certain atmospheric patterns to be more persistent. What I am saying is: Seasonal predictions are purely random (at least for lay peoples purposes; different picture for professional energy traders), while long-term projections are fairly safe, given that we know that all models point at least in the same direction. The public needs to understand, that "failure" of seasonal or decadal prediction does not mean we can't make skillful statistical predictions of how the average weather is going to be like one century ahead from now (despite the large uncertainties).

I agree that it is worrying that some "persons" are misinterpreting science in the climate action camp (an everlasting problem I guess). No one doubts they do. And yes, that may well have a backfire effect. IMHO they should instead focus on uncertainties and general climate change related risks, as I think they stand imperatively for precautionary action (action means mitigation). Hence, whenever I had the chance to write an op-ed I'd point both these issues clearly out. I would agree with their call for action (plus pointing out why) but would vividly reject their misguided argument at the same time. No conflict here (Pielke omiited the first part). Also no need to discuss the "how much" or the type of mitigation. Nor is it required to think about the political scale. Local, regional, national ... I don't care. Keep looking for a global agreement is waste of time. Some might argue it is outright foolish to do so.

RainerS said...

# 52 Karsten, do not worry about aeresols - there are quite a few countrys standing by to add their fair share in the near future. Some industries are already relocating from China to countries like Vietnam to reduce costs. Not just textile. Vietnam is about to set up steel production amounting to half the German output - for starters. And when/if/as soon as India gets going, we will have all the classic air pollution we desire for years to come.

I still don´t catch why you are feeling about Pielke the way you are. IMHO, his basic stance on AGW is quite clear and do not need any ceterum censeo. To make it more easy for you two understand my PoV: I am a Physicist working in B2B communication for almost two decades. Main imperative here: do not makes claims you cannot live up to. Or your customer is an ex-customer.

That´s one reason I think Pielke is right. When you oversell, it will backfire, sometime, somehow. You´ll reduce your creditibility. Period.

Second reason, why people in the climate game should heed Pielke´s advice: Hyping claims e.g. Sandy was caused by AGW distracts from the stochastic nature of this type of event. Whether any Sandys take place twice in fifty years, or maybe three times is completely irrelevant when planning for adaption measures. The mainstream climate guys are talking about centuries, so why is it so hard to comprehend it´s important to try to be able to deal with the next decades to come first and not whine about missing mitigation agreements.

RainerS said...

#52 Karsten continued:

Third reason: Blaming AGW for natural disasters - or just a single, specific one - shifts resonsibilities. To phrase it in a polemic way: if Bloomberg had cared more about NYC´s resilience than trans fats, some people might still be alive. Or, if he cared more about helping the needy than ideology, Bloomberg wouldn´t interfere with food donations in the way he does (if this is not an April fool´s hoax):
http://now.msn.com/hard-to-swallow-bloomberg-bans-food-donations-to-homeless-shelters

---just one example for the policies of well-to-do pseudo-greens.

Feeding billions to African dictators to combat AGW under some UN scheme to make Westerners feel better also isn´t going to help the climate.

Reason No 4: using Science Consensus to push a specific set of energy policies is, IMHO, a bad idea in general, and currently on the way to failure in Germany, and to a somewhat lesser extent, in the UK. Massively subsidizing state-of-yesterday-art "renewables" hurts the economy, doesn´t help the climate in a discernable manner and draws resources from R&D. The public will notice, even while the MSM try to play it down and try to put the blame on energy prodcucers.

Reason No. 5 - game changers like fracking. I believe I don´t have to educate anybody reading this blog on recent developments in the US. NG fracking will also change the setting for the chemical industry. Fracking technology will aid oil extraction. No peak oil, no peak gas for a long time to come.

Other possible game changers: China set up a program for Thorium nuclear reactors in early 2011. Give them 25+ years. And that´s just what appears to be viable today.

When it comes to coal: even in Germany, there are at least 20 billion tons Anthacite and more than 70 billion tons of Lignite. What do you think will happen if prices go up?

Don´t get me wrong: "Science and Policy" set-ups are kinda nice to have. When going gets rough, consider yourself lucky to have a gov-paid job, but basic economic considerations might, just might, prevail.

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

RainerS #58/#59

Depends on which aerosol type prevails ;-)

I take issue with Pielke Jr. regarding two things: 1. He continuously turns a blind eye on the denialati, while criticizing mainstream science in a rather offensive and attacking manner. Has he ever called Christy when he misinformed the US congress? Has he ever criticized his father for misinforming the general public (Pielke Sr. likes to deliberately focus on noise rather then the signal in order to make his desired point)? 2. Instead, he is playing semantics when people like Christopher Field present their science based viewpoint to the US congress as well (btw, this incident made me change my mind regarding the veracity of Pielke Jrs. arguments). In doing so, he follows his typical pattern of downplaying whatever kind of risk there is. We have plenty of reason to think that some types of disaster will indeed increase. Not to mention that the real threat is related to secondary risks such as ecosystem failure, habitat loss, and subsequent migration of climate refugees.
Once he has acknowledged these risks publicly, I am willing to engage with him. Until he hasn't done so, I don't trust him anymore. I don't care what his stance on AGW is. He knows good enough that he has to accept AGW in order to get his voice heard in the mainstream media (Revkin and Bojanowski are his typical clients). I don't care whether he is right on Sandy or not (he certainly is and I never claimed anything different). As long as he fails to put this into a wider context, I will keep blaming him for obfuscation. He knows exactly, that the WSJ piece leaves any reader with the impression that there is nothing to worry about. But that's only the case if one focuses on Hurricanes (if we are lucky). But the piece isn't just about Hurricanes, as the final paragraph clearly demonstrates. Hence my objections.
To cut a long story short: I don't need advise from someone who doesn't apply the same standard to everyone.


"The mainstream climate guys are talking about centuries, so why is it so hard to comprehend it´s important to try to be able to deal with the next decades to come first and not whine about missing mitigation agreements."


Because we can't change the course of the next 20 years! As easy as that. In essence, all we're doing now is for our children. Let's talk about precautionary adaptation rather than mitigation. Do you believe anyone is spending one dime to prepare for a risk which isn't properly communicated as such? No one would. The exact same story as for mitigation. And even if we were to know for sure how severe things may turn out to be, we can't say which place gets hit hardest the next time. People have always been having a a false sense of security and will keep having it for the rest of their lives. That's a perfectly good thing as we would otherwise worry day in and day out. Therefore, in a perfect world politics would lower the risk by chipping in some rational argument. Unfortunately, politics is people. Same problem again. In the end, the solution is simple. Either people start caring about the future of the planet, or they don't ...

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

Further RainerS #58/#59

I am sure you know as good as I know that the average Joe (also in Germany) doesn't know much about climate change. It is neither an issue, nor is it likely to become an issue any time soon. Why? Certainly not because it got oversold. Instead we have media who are willing to exaggerate to such a staggering extent that it hurts. This ranges from serial denial (even conspiracy) to shear panic. Distortion of scientific findings and quote-mining of scientists are commonplace. How would an average citizen know what's right and what's wrong? So yes, the media is overselling almost everything. But at the very same time, the media tends to distort the scientific reality. The question would be: What does all this have to do with the scientific community? The only one I know of who gets frequently criticized by colleagues is James Hansen for pulling no punches when in comes to communicating the risk. To his credit, he correctly predicted the 2010 global temperature in 1981. But apart from him ... who else were to blame for overselling? Who pushes a particular energy policy? There is a lot of scientific literature on what might be the best solution and scientists may point to this very literature if they are asked to make recommendations. I know of no one who is overly excited about solar energy in Germany (for obvious reason). And of coures this is subject to debate. No doubt about that.


To wrap up, I don't see a problem with overselling. The problem is between science and media and the gap has been constantly growing wider and wider in recent decades. It has to do with the tendency of the media to sell its product. It is amplified by the shedload of denier nonsense which is flooding the internet (and regurgitated by certain media outlets). How to solve that problem? I don't know! Perhaps policymakers have to make up for that in a sensible fashion? Depends on whether they are caring about the future of the planet, or not ;-).
If they decide not to care - I can certainly live with that. I am stormchaser and meteorologist. I love any kind of severe weather. The more severe the better. But I am not sure if everyone would agree with me on that ...

Werner Krauss said...

Hey, sounds like a real physicists' Stammtisch! The average Joe, BBQ in England; weather / opinion sensitivity of the public; idiotic politicians; overselling media; the steal industry in Vietnam and the Pielkes - no stone left unturned! If anybody ever needed a proof that climate modelers just have opinions like you & me, here it is! Next round of beer is on me,guys!

Neven said...

If I may go on-topic (late to the party):

Scientific American has put up a detailed explanation of why hurricane Sandy may be linked to anthropogenic climate change: a chain of events that, critically, involves the North Atlantic Oscillation nudged towards a negative state by the melting of Arctic sea-ice. On the other hand, realclimate explained in 2007 that climate change was threatening the Mediterranean region with more severe droughts because climate change would nudge the North Atlantic Oscillation towards a positive state.

Where's the contradiction? I don't see how the NAO couldn't move to an overall more positive state, BUT be predominantly negative in Fall when the Arctic Ocean starts to refreeze. The NAO isn't one or the other, like the PDO or AMO, but can fluctuate on short time-scales. Why does this negate possible effects in the Mediterranean?

Either way, it isn't that far-fetched to believe that diminishing Arctic sea ice can influence the NAO at the start of the freezing season (September-November) as there are many million square kilometers of open water that used to be ice-covered around that time. All that water has to release heat and moisture to atmosphere before it can freeze over. The question is not 'does this influence atmospheric patterns', but rather 'how could it not?'.

In this video Dr Jennifer Francis from Rutgers University explains the link between Arctic sea ice and blocking patterns, like the one that forced Sandy to make an unprecedented swerve towards the US East coast. Coincidence? Maybe yes, maybe no.

hvw said...

Werner, buying beer is an excellent start! If next you tell a mathematician - physicist - meteorologist joke, your rapport is almost there.

Neven said...

Sorry, wrong link. Maybe yes, maybe no.

Neven said...

Following.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Andy Revkin has a very interesting comment up on the New York Times Dot Earth. The title is Why Climate Disasters Might Not Boost Public Engagement on Climate Change.

I recommend it strongly.

eduardo said...

@ 63 Neven,

one can construct many hand-waving arguments that seem very logical at first sight but that turn out not to be true. For instance, since global warmer tropical sst should provide more energy, we should have more hurricanes in the future. The truth is that the number of hurricanes is modulated by many other factors as well, many of which are not known. One of the them is wind shear and he stability of the atmospheric column, which in a warmer world increases. result: in a warmer world there should be fewer hurricanes, and hat is what climate models simulated, the same climate models that otherwise we put so much confidence on. Thats the rational of using complex climate models: the take into account all different processes that often pull the system in different directions.
In the case of the NAO, the majority of models of the IPCC 2007, if not all, simulate a lon-term positive trend of the NAO in autumn. In the models the sea-ice is melting, andyet the NAO keeps strengthening even until 2100. What the Scientific American should have explained is why in this case the IPCC global models are wrong in hat respect. The realclimate blog correctly showed what is believed from the analysis of climate model simulations.

On a more technical explanation, the influence of the heat flux from the ocean on the NAO at short time scales of weeks and months is very weak, and only using quite sophisticate statistical methods it can be barely discerned from the strong the much stronger random internal variability due to the atmospheric turbulence

Neven said...

@ eduardo

In the case of the NAO, the majority of models of the IPCC 2007, if not all, simulate a lon-term positive trend of the NAO in autumn. In the models the sea-ice is melting, andyet the NAO keeps strengthening even until 2100.

Well, the CMIP3 models used for AR4 were totally wrong with regards to the decline of Arctic sea ice (I recently wrote a blog post on that for the ASI blog), so I wouldn't be surprised if they get predictions for the NAO wrong as well. A lot has happened since 2007 in the Arctic regions.

For instance, from the RealClimate piece you linked to:

"These are tough questions to answer definitively, but it is likely that AGW will continue to keep the NAO index positive because both atmospheric CO2 rise and stratospheric ozone depletion cause a strong polar night vortex. The North Pole is dark and very cold in the winter. This creates a large temperature difference between high latitudes and subtropics."

Due to Arctic Amplification the Arctic regions are getting much less cold, with anomalies of +10-20 °C in many places, such as now on Vize Island, in the Kara Sea, between Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya.

Perhaps, like you say, this hasn't a discernible direct influence on the NAO, but it is bound to have an influence on that temperature gradient between equator and (North) pole. Was this on the scientific radar back in 2006/2007? I don't know, but now it is. Again, a lot has changed in just 5 years.

If you look at this collection of Arctic sea ice graphs, you can see how anomalously low ice cover is in the Kara/Barentsz Sea region (Baffin Bay is lagging as well, and Beaufort just froze up). The page also has maps showing air and sea surface temperatures.

I lack the knowledge and expertise to put everything in its proper perspective, so forgive me my handwaving, but I'm still having a hard time getting convinced that all that open water is not having any influence whatsoever. I'm not saying it caused that blocking ridge that made Sandy veer off in a very peculiar way, but I don't think it should be ruled out either. How could it not have any influence?

What the Scientific American should have explained is why in this case the IPCC global models are wrong in hat respect.

I have a hunch that the author of the piece didn't know about the CMIP3 projections for the NAO. People definitely should know that in the Arctic things are progressing much faster than anticipated by people and models, and that this is likely to have consequences.

eduardo said...

@ 69

Neve wrote

'Well, the CMIP3 models used for AR4 were totally wrong with regards to the decline of Arctic sea ice (I recently wrote a blog post on that for the ASI blog), so I wouldn't be surprised if they get predictions for the NAO wrong as well. A lot has happened since 2007 in the Arctic regions.'

This is why I wrote in my previous comment that the predictions of a more positive NAO continue all the way from the present through 2100, when in the models you have a much stronger reduction of sea-ice cover than now.The mechanisms you are invoking are simply not present or not important enough in climate models.

You may also consider that, assuming this mechanism is important, we would have seen Sandy in September, when the strongest sea-ice reduction takes place and not in November. By the same token we should be seeing a positive trend of autumn hurricanes in the last 15 years, which, if I am not mistaken, is not observed either.

To discuss these type of mechanisms is perfectly valid within the scientific realm, where one often presents all sorts of crazy hypothesis that in the end get weened out or get traction. The problem is when you present those hypothesis to the general public on very thin 'ice' , as if they were the last scientific consensus, when actually they are in clear contradiction with a broader corpus of results.
If the journalist in Scientific American really wished to inform the readers he could have done so presenting his hypothesis within that broader framework and with all the caveats that it probably, although not surely, is wrong.

This example, in my opinion , nicely illustrates the differences between sound scientific journalist and advocates

Neven said...

The mechanisms you are invoking are simply not present or not important enough in climate models.

It is only logical that CMIP3 models do not project a mechanism caused by retreat of Arctic sea ice, when they project a much slower retreat of sea ice than has been observed.

Are the CMIP5 models any better in this regard? I know that they simulate observations a tad better.

You may also consider that, assuming this mechanism is important, we would have seen Sandy in September, when the strongest sea-ice reduction takes place and not in November. By the same token we should be seeing a positive trend of autumn hurricanes in the last 15 years, which, if I am not mistaken, is not observed either.

Again, I'm not saying the mechanism caused Sandy. I'm saying the mechanism might have caused that blocking pattern or high-pressure ridge near the South of Greenland, and this in turn caused Sandy to make a rather sharp left-turn.

The difference between September and November, is that a very large part of the Arctic Ocean is in complete darkness now, temperatures are much lower, and the water 'wants' to freeze. But it cannot freeze until it has released its heat (with moisture to go) to the atmosphere. That is one of the things that are causing considerable temperature anomalies in the Arctic during winter.

And these anomalies are getting bigger because of anomalously high SSTs during the melting season. See for instance this SST anomaly map from the Danish Meteorological Institute on last August 11th.

The size and scope of these anomalies is relatively new, and so whether they have any effect at the start of the freezing season remains to be seen. But if they do and they do cause an increase in blocking events, we might see that unprecedented swerve Sandy made happen more frequently with other storms as well. How often I don't know, but what I do know is that it can cause over 50 billion dollar in damages that wouldn't have occurred if Sandy's storm path had just continued along the coast (what storms usually do when they are that far away from the coast) and died in the North Atlantic.

The problem is when you present those hypothesis to the general public on very thin 'ice' , as if they were the last scientific consensus, when actually they are in clear contradiction with a broader corpus of results.

The author of the piece in SciAm isn't presenting this mechanism as the scientific consensus. He presents it more as interesting speculation coming from researchers from Cornell University. Of course, they are not the first. Since a couple of years more and more researchers have started to look into this (there's a small overview here).

If the journalist in Scientific American really wished to inform the readers he could have done so presenting his hypothesis within that broader framework and with all the caveats that it probably, although not surely, is wrong.

I agree that he could have stressed the fact that the CMIP3 models from 2006 got it completely wrong, and that models still cannot keep up with observed changes in the Arctic.

And if I were him I would have put more stress on that blocking ridge of high-pressure systems instead of invoking the NAO, as the latter doesn't tell us much other than the pressure difference between that Iceland Low and the Azores High.

He has obviously just started to look into this, as more people should I believe, because if the mechanism is there and the sea ice cover keeps getting smaller during the melting season, then we have a whole different ball game on our hands.

eduardo said...

Neven,

I am afraid that you are not reading what I am writing. Models do not project in the future a smaller sea-ice retreat than it is observed now. Models simulate now a smaller retreat than it is observed now, but they do project for the next decades a muçh larger retreat of sea-ice than it is observed now. Actually , they project a sea-ice free summer after 2050 or so. Even then, in 2050 and in 2100 for than matter, the simulated NAO goes up, and not down. Therefore, the vanishing sea-ice in the models does not produce a negative NAO

Sorry, either we are referring of something different which I am misunderstading, or I am lost about how to explain this more clearly. Please try to read the argument without preconceived ideas.

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

Eduardo #72,

I'm afraid I also object to your apparent contradiction. The point Neven is trying to make is that the strong (and unexpected) decline in Arctic sea ice simply overwhelms the expected/projected NAO tendency due to slow GHG warming. GHG warming alone would reduce the tropospheric temperature gradient as well, but the increasing stratospheric temperature gradient and hence the stratospheric jet feeds back strongly to the tropospheric polar jet. As a consequence, the tropospheric westerlies tends to strengthen slightly despite the decreasing near-surface temperature gradient. What's happening now is, that the tropospheric temperature gradient decrease is waaaaayyyy too strong to get compensated by the very slow GHG-induced increase in the stratospheric temperature gradient. This leads to a slow down of the polar jet, frequently breaking Rossby waves and more meridional (and persistent) weather patterns. In the long-run, this at the same time is suggestive of a reversal in the NAO tendency once the GHG-forcing further strengthens while the arctic amplification doesn't (though I couldn't exactly tell how strong the Arctic amplification can get in the light of the potential early spring melt and late autumn refreeze). Hope that sounds reasonable. I am happy to provide a more detailed explanation if that what I said doesn't make sense to you. And I might add, that I also consider the sea-ice link far from being established. At this stage it is a mere hypothesis ... a plausible one though ...


Werner #62,

interesting way to discuss things ... but enjoy your beer anyways! It's cider for me ...

eduardo said...

@73,
Karsten,

I think you are puting forward the hypothesis I mentioned in my comment 7:

the NAO should go up driven by GHG, but there is a time window, when sea-ice melts and pushes the NAO downwards for a few years (how many?), until GHG takes over again.

I have some problems with this explanation:

-it is not testeable (for how long and when should the NAO decline occur embedded in the overall positive trend ?

-why we do not see a period of NAO decline in the climate simulations, not and not later when sea-ice melts in the models ?

-why we do not see an increasing trend of autumn Atlantic hurricanes now when sea-ice is melting ?

-why nobody predicted that hurricanes with larger extension should happen under climate change ?

Basically what you are proposing is a post-hoc convoluted explanation of a phenomemnon that was not predicted and is not seen in the simulations for the future, only to avoid a contradiction.


Well, you are free to believe in that, of course.

Neven said...

Please try to read the argument without preconceived ideas.

I'm afraid that's impossible. ;-)
But I'll try to be as conscious as possible of my preconceived ideas.

Models do not project in the future a smaller sea-ice retreat than it is observed now. Models simulate now a smaller retreat than it is observed now, but they do project for the next decades a muçh larger retreat of sea-ice than it is observed now. Actually , they project a sea-ice free summer after 2050 or so. Even then, in 2050 and in 2100 for than matter, the simulated NAO goes up, and not down. Therefore, the vanishing sea-ice in the models does not produce a negative NAO

Yes, I understand what you mean, and like I said a couple of times now: the models could be wrong. How and why, I don't know. Changes in the Arctic are very fast at the moment. Science has a hard time keeping up.

-why we do not see an increasing trend of autumn Atlantic hurricanes now when sea-ice is melting ?

Because diminishing has nothing to do with Atlantic hurricane cyclogenesis? Could have something to do with a potential increase in frequency and intensity of Arctic cyclones, though. I've written extensively about the big Arctic summer storm in August. If we see another one of those in the next 2-3 years, I'm raising the alarm.

The same of course for another Sandy-like storm path in the next decade.

Neven said...

Because diminishing has nothing to do with Atlantic hurricane cyclogenesis?

Diminishing sea ice. Sorry.

eduardo said...

@76,

I should have been more clear and ask whether we see a trend in Sandy-like hurricanes. If I understand you properly you are arguing that this is the very first event following this causality chain

Anyway, Hans suggested a new excercise related to North Atlantic cyclogenis driven by sea-ice melt, which will be open in a new thread and may lead, with sugestions from all of you, to a simulation with a climate model

Neven said...

If I understand you properly you are arguing that this is the very first event following this causality chain

Yes, if I'm not mistaken, I believe it was said that Sandy's storm path was unprecedented. I have looked at storm tracks of storms that made landfall that far North, but didn't see anything similar to Sandy. Maybe I didn't look good enough.

IF there is a causality chain, I would say that this is a first. Of course, there are more effects tied to the causality chain where a weakening of the jet stream causes outbreaks of Arctic cold over the US or Europe. Or a positive anomaly of winter snow cover on the Northern Hemisphere.

eduardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eduardo said...

By Kerry Emanuel

Neven said...

Wow, that's a great piece by Emanuel. Thanks for linking, Eduardo.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Interesting to see Emmanuel making an argument advanced by some social scientists in the 1980s, namely that policy making should be insensitive to scientific conjectures (Collingridge and Reeve, Speaking Truth to Power).

However, his last sentence betrays the analysis. The word 'scientifically' has no place in the logic of his argument.

eduardo said...

I see the tension in Emanuel's piece between the truth-seeking scientist and the policy advisor. In some areas, like climate change, I think that both activities are incompatible: a scientist wants to achieve an answer to some questions, and this answer should be, in some sense, correct, with time playing no role; a policy-advisor is needed to design informed decisions, together with many other aspects, so that these decisions are now the best possible given the present state of knowledge and the present circumstances.
I suspect that this tension is what is shredding climate research(ers).

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

@eduardo #73 and #80:

Correct, you actually made the same point in #7 already. I agree, it'll be very hard to test this explanation as long as we have no control of the sea-ice behavior (or the cryosphere in general) in the models. For the time being, our predictive skills will remain at the lower end of the confidence spectrum. However, if we use prescribed sea-ice information to force the model, we should be able to get a qualitative idea of how far we can expect the NAO to be pushed towards its negative state. It won't enable us to say for how long this might be the case, but again, we should at least get a rough estimate of the NAO preference state as a function of future Arctic sea-ice behavior. I am not aware of any modeling study which explicitly tried to entangle these two competing effects (GHG warming vs accelerated Arctic amplification) in the long-run yet. I'd be delighted, if someone could point me to a relevant paper on that matter. Whether the winter WACCy pattern (Warm Arctic Cold Continent) is just a climate singularity, a result of the weak solar forcing, or the positive feedback of the sea-ice decline is beyond what I'd be able to say with any degree of confidence. Likely a mixture of all the effects.
In any case, trying to explain things which we haven't anticipated to happen for me is just pure curiosity. Closing gaps in our understanding and seeking causes for apparant contradictions is what science is all about. It is exciting to watch scientific ideas unfold, being discussed, rejected, and potentially accepted at some future stage. Convince me of another potential mechanism and I'll be with you. It has not so much to do with believe ... although I confess that I strongly believe in the laws of physics.

With regard to the autumn Atlantic hurricane trends, I think you'd need at least some 50 years of observations to separate a signal from the noise. While we wouldn't necessarily expect an increasing trend in Atlantic hurricane activity, they would make landfall more often as blocking patterns further north become more likely (and of course only as long as the WACCy pattern persists). How much more likely? I don't know. I'd guess we'd see every 22th Hurricane to make landfall along the US Atlantic coast north of Carolina now, when it was every 23th before (numbers are not real but illustrative). With regard to size and dynamics of hurricanes: As long as I haven't seen cloud resolving model projections at a global scale, I don't trust them at all. Just my personal modellers point of view ;-).

Thanks for sharing the link to the FP piece from Kerry Emanuel. Great article which is one of the best I've read so far on the subject.

RainerS said...

Emanuel´s piece appears to me to be just another attempt to invoke the precautionary principle combined with the fat-end probability meme. Nothing new here. What´s missing are the "what to do" suggestions, so there is not even anything to discuss here in terms of viable options - or am I missing something?

RainerS said...

@karsten #60/61

just tell me what kind of aerosols you prefer. Will talk to our engineers to check whether it´s feasible within the framework of the respective country´s environmental regulations ;-)

Re overselling: I wasn´t talking about overselling of (c)AGW in general (different, much more complicated story, indeed), but about attaching certain events to it. Main danger from my point of view - as stated above - is the shifting of responsibilities. Almost everything - as well as the opposite outcome - may be attributed to climate change these days, citing peer reviewed papers.

Wrong incentive on the local, regional or sometimes even national level.
Hey, I am the president of the Maledives, just ordered to build new airfields using coral sands from off our islands to boost tourism. In case we are inundiated, it´s because of rising sea levels due to climate change - you pay! Nice try.

And excuse me for possibly appearing overtly arrogant. I do have children. Three of them, last time I checked. Not easy these days to nudge them in the direction of being part of any solution in terms of problem solving instead of being paralysed by presumed imminent self-inflicted doom for manking. We succeeded with the oldest one, number two will need more effort.

Also, please spare me with "caring about the future of the planet". The planet will be fine, even in case humankind messes up due to (c)AGW. Do you like Sci-Fi-books? Check put Stephen Baxter´s "Evolution". But I digress.

What really strikes me - although it is certainly interesting to witness "science at work" - is the nit-picking going on in blogs at times.

Why should anyone care - except in hindsight - who said what and when and under what circumstances if this is an emergency to "save the planet"? Go and sort out your queries with the Pielkes of this world directly, will you?

Thinking about it: may you eventually agree the odds achieving any intl. mitigation targets are low? If so, what´s your Plan B? After all, you are the Science and Policy guy. I am open to any suggestions not involving drastic "cuts" in world population and/or suspending democracy/rule-of-law/freedom of speech. Enlighten me :-)

K.a.r.S.t.e.N said...

@RainerS #86:

Sulfate will do the job. They can hide the (temperature) rise quite a while ;-)

Re kids (and apologies for diverting OT): Not sure, whether you're gonna believe me. There's one fundamental guideline for me personally, which is: Raise your kids in the most neutral way you are possibly can (hard sell, I know ... no one will ever reach that goal, no doubt about that). No politics whatsoever. Teach them what most people would believe is common sense and they will make their way. If they ask questions: Try to provide an unbiased reply. Honestly, it's annoying to see how people misuse their own childs to push their own political agenda.

Having said that, any "saving the planet" agenda has to be directed to those in charge ... based on sound science. As I said earlier, my impression is that more and more people gave up to believe that we will ever see intl. agreements. So did I. Instead, encourage national governments to mitigate in a smart way (solar where solar makes sense; outphasing of nuclear power without panicking) as it may turn out to be an advantageous strategy, while those who join the party late might falling behind. It's a gamble. You can win or you can loose. As far as science is concerned, the odds to win seem a bit higher. Plan B is already plan A if you like. For more details on mitigation/adaption: I'm afraid it's not my area of expertise anymore. Ask the real policy guys (those who acknowledge the risk in the first place). I have my opinion based on a bunch of reports and publications, but feasibility is currently beyond me.

Whatever is going to happen, the planet will indeed be fine. Yet flora and fauna won't. Speaking as a science nerd, watching live the biggest experiment humankind has ever conducted is a truly amazing experience. Strangely enough, being trapped in the same "false sense of security" pitfall as everyone else, I'm not too worried about the future. There is always this "we will find a solution" meme lingering in my mind, which tends to invoke some sort of optimism. Unjustified or not? I have no freakin clue. History tells us scary stories though ... and also reality often beggars belief. If I were to judge the future of mankind on the basis of the comment section of WUWT, I'd say we are doomed with no escape. Fortunately, I'm inclined to believe that most people are sane ...

RainerS said...

@86, Karsten

Oh no, not Sulfates again, that´s so 20th century :-)
When doom is imminent, however, many exhaust cleaning devices in basic industries can be operated in a way to fullfil your requirements.

And please do not worry about flora and fauna. They will be fine, also, possibly depending on the phylum. But, hey, evolution will take care of that ;-)

Back to something more serious: You said

"Instead, encourage national governments to mitigate in a smart way (solar where solar makes sense; outphasing of nuclear power without panicking) as it may turn out to be an advantageous strategy, while those who join the party late might falling behind".

In case you are referreing to Germany´s energy policy, I beg to differ. But since this is talking us even further from the original topic of this thread, I´ll leave it at that and perhaps will send you a mail on this topic. Actually, EU and more specifically German energy policies where one reasons for me to have a closer look into the climate debate...I wondered what Science might have possibly informed THAT kind of policies...