VW and CO2 Obsession

How wrong-headed EU climate policy led to the VolksWagen debacle

 

Dominic Lawson explains it clearly in the UK Sunday Times, Sept. 27.

“Recent events have been a result of Europe’s concerted push to get its populations to abandon petrol for diesel as the fuel to power their cars. This is the real story behind the astonishing scandal of VW’s fraud upon the US Environmental Protection Agency. VW had installed software in its newer diesel cars that detected when the vehicles were being tested for noxious emissions and cut most of the smog-forming compounds caused by burning diesel.

When the cars were driven normally on the road by owners, the software “defeated” the pollution control. This greatly enhanced the vehicles’ performance. And so VW could claim — absolutely dishonestly — that it was selling high-performing diesel cars while conforming to stringent American “clean air” requirements.

Yes: America, frequently accused by Europeans of being a laggard in environmental protection, has stricter regulations governing air pollution than the eternally preachy EU. This is because of — and not despite — Europe’s obsession with climate change.

The UK government, after its signing of the Kyoto treaty, set up an incentive through vehicle excise duty to push consumers into buying diesel rather than petrol cars. The point is that diesel produces more oomph per gallon than petrol, so less of it is used for each mile’s driving and hence less CO2 is emitted in the course of any given journey.

However, it has always been known that burning diesel creates much more of the oxides of nitrogen that can cause terrible damage to the human respiratory system: more than 20 times as much of the stuff as burning petrol does. Because in America engine emission controls are related much more to overall air quality than in the EU, VW had a real problem getting its diesel cars into that market. Hence its scam.

The UK national obsession — at least in Whitehall — with CO2 means that British lives have been shortened to save future lives in Africa (the continent thought to be most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change). The developing world, meanwhile, is cracking on with fossil-fuel power generation, since its leaders understand that that is the fastest way to lift their countries out of poverty — and really save lives.”

The article appeared in in the UK Sunday Times:
http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/comment/columns/dominiclawson/article1611938.ece

H/t to http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/ who provide the full text with this comment:

The “rush for diesel” might seem an unmatchably counterproductive idiocy on the part of the EU member states, as they sought to prove themselves the saviours of the earth. In fact, it is merely one of a number of catastrophic components in the climate-change policy makers’ hall of infamy.

http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=c920274f2a364603849bbb505&id=ef5e92a067&e=a1aa1ed84d

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Arctic Ice Rebound

Update October 14, 2014 at the end of the post.

MASIE Proves Yearly Arctic Ice Recovering

You will be hearing a lot about 2015 having the fourth lowest minimum Arctic ice extent ever recorded.

Here is what they are not telling you:

masie annuallarge

MASIE has very helpfully provided their records for the last ten years.  Since stormy weather can affect both maximum and minimum ice extents, emphasis on March and September averages can be misleading. From a climate change perspective, a better metric is the average ice extent over the entire year. By that measure we gain a realistic perspective on the last ten years of Arctic ice fluctuation.

While Arctic ice varies a lot seasonally, the graph shows that it is not that variable annually during this decade. Fluctuating about +/- 4%, there was a slightly increasing trend, particularly in the last five years.  Here are the ice extents in M km2:

Year Annual  Average March Average Sept Average Sept Minimum March Max
2006 10.667 14.260 5.831 5.641 14.663
2007 10.414 14.543 4.298 3.987 14.907
2008 10.995 15.372 4.427 4.223 15.662
2009 10.825 15.005 5.091 4.871 15.326
2010 10.732 15.221 4.997 4.717 15.397
2011 10.564 14.832 4.511 4.303 15.110
2012 10.688 15.533 3.633 3.369 15.822
2013 11.119 15.230 5.083 4.677 15.505
2014 11.130 15.133 5.368 5.066 15.523
2015 11.263 14.625 4.564 4.442 14.910

The value for 2015 is for the record so far; the final number will be known at year end.  As for minimum extents, 2015 September average will likely be the fifth lowest in the last ten years, so ranked in the middle of the years in this period. For it to be the fourth lowest ever would require ignoring earlier history, especially the 1930’s and the age of the Vikings.

MASIE dataset is here:
https://nsidc.org/data/masie/

Background on MASIE and NOAA:
https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-measuring-arctic-ice-but-were-afraid-to-ask/

And Arctic Ice is Rebounding As We Speak

Now let’s put this year’s minimum in perspective.  2014 daily ice extent minimum was ~5M km2 on day 262.  2015 extent went below 5M on day 240 and has now regained back to 5M on day 268.  So the reduced ice extent this year lasted for exactly 28 days.  Why is this fact not mentioned in articles talking about the 4th lowest extent recorded?  How can a 28-day event (produced by a major storm) be called “climate change” when it is so temporary and natural?

masie day 268

For the current 2015 ice watch report see:

https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/arctic-ice-recovery-race/

Update October 14, 2015

There was some criticism of this article following publication.  I addressed the issues in subsequent posts:

Flap Over Arctic Ice Rebound

Ice House of Mirrors

Arctic Ice Made Simple

Arctic Ice Recovery Race Sept. 26

Update September 26:  2015 ice extent goes over 5M km2.

The daily ice extent minimums are behind us, and now the story is how fast is this year’s recovery of ice compared to last year.

In the MASIE estimates, the daily minimums were quite close in time: 2014 day 262 and 2015 day 260. NOAA showed 2015 minimum extent on day 251 with gains sufficient for NOAA to nearly synchronize with MASIE extent by day 262.

From last year’s MASIE records we know that ice recovered in 2014 at a rate of 41k km2 per day to the end of September, for a total addition of ice extent of 451k km2. NOAA showed a comparable gain in 2014 ice over the same period: 39k daily for a total gain of 429k km2.

As of day 268, Sept. 25, ice extent is recovering much faster this year than last, about twice the rate, and MASIE is again showing higher extent than NOAA.

First the daily situation:

September 25 day 268 results from MASIE. 2015 is back over 5M km2. Both years gain back considerable ice. 

While 2014 gained 105k of ice, 2015 gained 64k recovering back up to 34% of the spring maximum..

2015 ice extent now trails 2014 by 6.4%, which is about 344k km2 difference.

Extent in BCE region is building ice now at 75% of last year, with Chukchi and East Siberian seas adding 47k. Most seas increased ice and most importantly, the Central Arctic is now 193k above its minimum 24 days ago.

masie day 268

The graph shows that a gap opened when 2015 ice dropped at the time of an Arctic cyclone late August.  The differential of almost 1M km2 has now been cut to 350k km2. and closing. 2015 ice extent was lower than 5M km2 for only 27 days.

2015 Recap:

The first 25 days of September 2015 are in the books, so with 5 days to go this is an outlook on the melt season conclusion beyond the daily minimums.

For most of the season, 2015 Arctic sea ice extent was tracking 2014. In fact the July average extent was slightly higher than 2014. Then weather intervened in the last week of August. A large and strong cyclone centered over Chukchi Sea began breaking up ice in the BCE Region and affecting CAA (Canadian Archipelago) and the Central Arctic.  In addition, most of the summer the Arctic Oscillation (AO) was in negative phase, meaning fewer clouds, more direct insolation and ice melting.  More discussion of these two factors is at the end of this post.

The effects of this storm are seen in the rapid increase in water extent ( 482k km2 in one week) so that August 31 2015 had less ice than did 2014 at minimum September 19. Water extent continued to grow, and then stabilized once the storm abated and the AO went from negative to neutral.  Now the ice is growing beyond the daily minimum.

Comparing MASIE and NOAA Ice Extents.

Month 2015 2015 2015 2014 2014 2014
Ave. MASIE NOAA MASIE-NOAA MASIE NOAA MASIE-NOAA
Feb 15.032 14.498 0.534
March 15.170 14.758 0.413
April 13.650 13.954 -0.304 14.318 14.088 0.230
May 12.646 12.485 0.161 12.916 12.701 0.215
June 10.841 10.889 -0.049 11.324 11.033 0.292
July 8.713 8.411 0.302 8.482 8.108 0.374
August 5.961 5.658 0.303 6.353 6.078 0.275
Sept 4.596 4.521 0.075 5.364 5.220 0.144
Oct 7.697 7.232 0.464

The table shows July 2015 was above 2014 but late August weather caused a drop in monthly averages.  The August average shows ice extent dropped ~2.7M km2 from July, compared to a 2014 loss of ~2.0M. That difference persisted until the minimum was reached. NOAA typically reports a lower extent than MASIE, a difference that averaged ~300k km2.  Then in one week MASIE dropped while NOAA plateaued, and until recently NOAA September extents were quite close to MASIE, some days showing a higher number.

With the September daily ice starting out lower than 2014 the monthly average will end up smaller.  The September first 25 days average is shown, a figure that should rise and end the month over 4.6M km2. It is now evident the minimum has occurred, and the recovery is under way.

In any case, I am not alarmed over open water in the Arctic. Steadily increasing and above average September ice extents signify the coming of the next ice age, a genuine threat to human life and prosperity.  Fortunately, that is not the indication this year.

Current and Recent Weather in the Arctic

In addition to the storm, the negative AO has been conducive to accelerating ice melting by increased insolation.

September 16 Arctic Oscillation Forecast from AER:

The AO, which has remained almost consistently in negative territory since late June, has resulted in near record low AO values for July and August. The AO is predicted to first trend positive through the weekend and pop into positive territory early next week. However by midweek the AO is predicted to return back into negative territory and remain negative through early October.

“The positive trend in the AO and the setting sun may have brought an early end to the Arctic sea ice melt season but not before sea ice extent achieved its fourth lowest value since observations began.  It is likely that the extremely low AO values observed in July and August are reflective of atmospheric conditions (sunny and warm) that were conducive to rapid sea ice melt.”

https://www.aer.com/science-research/climate-weather/arctic-oscillation

The Alaska Dispatch News reported August 27 on the storm effects at Barrow, Alaska:

“The service has issued a coastal flood warning for Barrow until Friday morning, along with a high surf advisory for the western part of the North Slope and a gale warning for much of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Seas up to 14 feet were forecast for Thursday in the Chukchi. . .Thursday’s high waves and flooding are products of a large storm that’s being felt as far as Southcentral Alaska, where high winds are forecast, Metzger said. “It’s a pretty big low-pressure system that’s over the Arctic Ocean,” he said. ”

https://www.adn.com/article/20150827/high-winds-causing-big-waves-flooding-barrow

a quarter million square KM of arctic ice in the CAB, adjacent to the Beaufort and Chukchi. 20150829

This storm is reminiscent of the 2012 event that resulted in the lowest ice, greatest water extent this century. The high winds, waves and swells have several effects: Gales push ice floes, opening water between them and pushing them toward warmer waters; Ice pieces are churned and fractured increasing the melt rate; Wave action can flood ice packs or can cause compacting, further reducing extent.

Speaking Climate Truth to Policymakers

Rational people charged with making national energy policies need an antidote to the biased and alarmist IPCC “Summary for Policy Makers (SPM)”  As most are aware, that document purports to be summarizing the science proving humanity is causing dangerous global warming by using fossil fuels.  Those who understand the IPCC process are also aware that the SPM wording is negotiated among politicians and the scientific reports are adjusted accordingly.

A timely discussion of this issue is provided by someone with experience in briefing governmental officials on issues requiring choices.  Michael Kelly writes in Standpoint Magazine:

“A well-briefed minister knows about the general area in which a decision is sought, and is given four scenarios before any recommendation. Those scenarios are the upsides and the downsides both of doing nothing and of doing something. Those who give only the upside of doing something and the downside of doing nothing are in fact lobbying.”

Turning to Lord Stern’s policy advice, Kelly says:

“In his introduction he makes it clear that he has consulted many scientists, businessmen, philosophers and economists, but in his book I find not a single infrastructure project engineer asked about the engineering reality of any of his propositions, nor a historian of technology about the elementary fact that technological breakthroughs are not pre-programmable. Lord Stern’s description of the climate science is an uncritical acceptance of the worst case put by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), one from which many in the climate science community are now distancing themselves.”

Kelly provides considerable contextual information in his article, which is accessible here:
http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/features-october-2015-michael-kelly-climate-change-poor-pay-the-price

He summarizes this way:

“Those building the biblical Tower of Babel, intending to reach heaven, did not know where heaven was and hence when the project would be finished, or at what cost. Those setting out to solve the climate change problem now are in the same position. If we were to spend 10 or even 100 trillion dollars mitigating carbon dioxide emissions, what would happen to the climate? If we can’t evaluate whether reversing climate change would be value for money, why should we bother, when we can clearly identify many and better investments for such huge resources? The forthcoming Paris meeting on climate change will be setting out to build a modern Tower of Babel.”

Ruth Dixon has also assessed the flaws in the alarmist position which Stern is expressing.

https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/flawed-policies-for-climate-action/

Watching a UN Train Wreck

Bjorn Lomborg is someone I have long respected because he cares a lot about world problems and works hard on programs and projects to actually improve people’s lives.

He has an insider’s take on preparations for the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, and it is not pretty. From his point of view, national leaders can do a lot to make the world a better place, but that is looking less and less likely. The problem is not ill will or selfishness. It is the enormous overreach of activists’ ambitions.

Bjorn Lomborg:

“With the so-called Agenda for Sustainable Development having been quietly finalized by diplomats and United Nations bureaucrats last month, the leaders are expected just to smile for the cameras and sign on the dotted line. Unfortunately, they are missing a one-in-a-generation opportunity to do much more good.

The agenda is the result of years of negotiations. Aiming for inclusivity, the UN talked to everyone. But, however admirable that approach may be, it did not prove successful. Indeed, looking at the agenda they produced – more than 15,000 words and a headache-inducing 169 development targets – one might conclude that they simply threw everything they had heard into the document.”

Lomborg gives numerous examples, and concludes:

“It is not that the new promises are not well-intentioned. The problem is that they do not reflect effective prioritization, which is critical when resources are limited.

In short, many of the targets are either marginally useful or highly problematic. Making matters worse, collecting data on the 169 promises could cost almost two years of development aid. As a result, the agenda will leave the world’s poorest far worse off than they could be.

In lofty language, the UN claims that the Agenda for Sustainable Development’s 169 targets are “integrated and indivisible.” This is nonsense. Cutting them back is what should happen.”

At Lomborg’s think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a panel of Nobel laureates studied more than 1,800 pages of peer-reviewed analysis, in order to determine which potential targets would achieve the most good – something that the UN never did. Channeling the entire development budget to the 19 targets that the panel identified would do four times more good than if we spread it across the UN’s 169 targets, with a large share of those benefits going to the world’s worst-off people.
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/unsustainable-development-goals-by-bj-rn-lomborg-2015-09

Bjørn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, founded and directs the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which seeks to study environmental problems and solutions using the best available analytical methods. He is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It, and the editor of How Much have Global Problems Cost the World?

Pause Deniers Busted

Updates October 3 and 30 below

With Paris COP drawing near, the lack of warming this century is inconvenient and undermines the cause.

As Dr. Judith Curry said, “I have been expecting to start seeing papers on the ‘hiatus is over.’ Instead I am seeing papers on ‘the hiatus never happened.’”

One that was trumpeted came out of my Alma Mater, Stanford.  They garnered the expected headlines from the usual places:

Global Warming “Hiatus” Never Happened: Eos

There never was any global warming “pause.”:  Washington Post

The text is here: Debunking the climate hiatus

http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/969/art%253A10.1007%252Fs10584-015-1495-y.pdf?originUrl=http%3A%2F%2Flink.springer.com%2Farticle%2F10.1007

The write up has statistical razzle-dazzle and lots of opaque sentences, but let’s not get lost in the weeds.

Let’s not talk about the multiple tamperings to the land records they chose to study.  Let’s even overlook their including the bogus upward adjustments to the SSTs by Karl et al.  Bob Tisdale dissected that here: https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/noaancdcs-new-pause-buster-paper-a-laughable-attempt-to-create-warming-by-adjusting-past-data/

We don’t need to get into the technicalities of why they stopped with 2013 data, the suitability of the tests applied or their interpretations of the results.

Here’s what you need to know about this study:

They ignored the satellite records (RSS and UAH), the gold standard of temperature measurements, because the absence of warming there is undeniable.

For the land and ocean datasets they analyzed, they ignored the huge divergence between observations and the predictions (projections) from climate models.

Conclusion:

Natural variability in the climate system has neutralized any warming from increased CO2 this century, and also offset most, if not all of the secular rise in temperature since the Little Ice Age.  The models did not forecast this; they can only project warming, and do so at rates several times higher than observations.  The models fail for three reasons:  high sensitivity to CO2; positive feedback from water vapor; and lack of thermal inertia by the oceans.

For more on climate models and temperature projections:
https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/temperatures-according-to-climate-models/

The Stanford football team was impressive beating highly-rated Southern Cal on their home field last Saturday.  The work of the research team, however, looks like pandering rather than science.  They need to up their game: No cookies.

Update October 3

I found the time to look into the details of this paper and the statistical trick comes to light.

They took as the null hypothesis: “Temperatures are not rising.”  After applying several statistical tests, they conclude that the statement is not supported by the data, so we cannot say with certainty temperatures are not rising.

And what about the other null hypothesis: “Temperatures are rising.”  Silence.

I suspect they didn’t want to admit that the same statistical tests would also disprove that statement.

A reasonable person concludes: When you can not say for sure that temperatures are not rising, or that they are rising, that would surely indicate a plateau in temperatures.

Update October 30–Another classic from Josh

A Welcome Voice in the Climate Debate

Someone has written a book much needed, adding a welcome voice into rational consideration of climate matters. The book is entitled: Doubt and Certainty in Climate Science, it is free and can be downloaded here:

https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/longhurst-final.pdf

About the author

Alan R. Longhurst is a biological oceanographer who has studied the ecology of the continental shelf of the Gulf of Guinea (1954-63), and the trophic structure and flux of energy through the pelagic ecosystems of the eastern Pacific (1963-71), the Barents Sea (1973), the Canadian Arctic (1983-89) and the Northwest Atlantic (1978-94). He coordinated the international EASTROPAC expeditions in the 1960s and directed the NOAA SW Science Center on the Scripps campus at La Jolla (1967-71), the Marine Ecology Laboratory at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (1977-79) and was Director-General of that Institute (1970-86). He has published 80-odd research papers and his most recent books are “Ecological Geography of the Sea” (Elsevier, 1998 & 2007) and “Mismanagement of Marine Fisheries” (Cambridge, 2010).

I recommend this climate science book as readable, thorough, considerate, and well-documented.  He also gives insightful personal experiences from his oceanographic career. I particularly appreciate his emphasis on the ocean’s complex role in climate dynamics. Also his discussion of surface temperature measurements  has echos in my own analyses of the records.

For a review and overview by Dr. Judith Curry, her post is here:

http://judithcurry.com/2015/09/20/new-book-doubt-and-certainty-in-climate-science/

Longhurst concludes with this:

Perhaps the one thing that would shake the collective certainty would be if the simple, single value used to represent global surface temperature continued to languish at around the same value as it has for the last 15 years for, say, another 5 years? Of course, it may not – simply because the next Nino will quickly reduce the area of cold, upwelled water exposed at the sea surface and global SST will suddenly rise, as it did in 1998. In fact, as I write, this is occurring and the anticipated announcement has already been made NOAA that this year we experienced the warmest July ever recorded.

But if a new Gleissberg cycle makes itself felt when the equatorial Pacific has settled back into its ‘normal’ Trade Wind state, and if the new cycle overwhelms the effect on SAT measurements of urbanisation and land use change so that the GSMT index cools significantly, then the earth sciences will have a heavy bill to be paid in the arena of public support. And the more so if a Convention concerning measures agreed to be taken has already been signed into effect…

Arctic Ice Minimums Compared

Update Sept. 20, 2015: 2014 and 2015 Minimums Established, 11 days ago in NOAA, 2 days ago in MASIE

In the annual match of the ocean vs. Arctic ice, Mother Nature has blown the whistle. Results are little confusing, since NOAA shows the lowest extent 11 days ago, and MASIE only 2 days ago. Moreover, MASIE dropped a lot of ice in the recent period and is now showing less ice than NOAA.  Usually, MASIE is higher by 2-300k km2.

Still, for the climate record it will be the September average that counts, and the platform is firmed up for that result.

First the daily situation:

 

September 19 day 262 results from MASIE. 2014 loses a lot while 2015 gains a lot of ice extent.

While 2014 lost 46k of ice, 2015 gained 70k recovering well above the previous annual daily ice minimum..

2015 ice extent now trails 2014 by 10.6%, which is about 538k km2 difference. Day 262 is the 2014 daily ice extent minimum. Day 260 was 2015 minimum, according to MASIE.

masie day 262

Comparing 2014 and 2015 at Annual Minimums

Ice Extents Day 2014262 Day 2015260 Ice Extent
Region Ann Min Ann Min km2 Diff.
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 5066134 4442258 -623876
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 655536 484880 -170656
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 235122 187420 -47701
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 455832 219274 -236559
 (4) Laptev_Sea 1212 44701 43489
 (5) Kara_Sea 64255 1778 -62478
 (6) Barents_Sea 132741 18 -132723
 (7) Greenland_Sea 210190 236707 26517
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 18245 57136 38891
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 341623 228074 -113549
 (10) Hudson_Bay 862 47674 46811
 (11) Central_Arctic 2949375 2933456 -15919

The table shows the effects of weather in the western Arctic.  In August 2015 lost 700k km2 more than 2014, a differential that persisted to the minimum.  The reductions occurred in the BCE region and in the near by CAA (Canadian Archipelago).  In addition in the east, Barents melted out early and entirely, and nearby Kara become mostly open water.

Elsewhere, on the Canadian side, Hudson and Baffin Bay along with the Greenland Sea had more ice, and the Central Arctic was nearly the same as in 2014.

2015 Recap:

The first 19 days of September 2015 is in the books, so here is an outlook on the melt season conclusion beyond the daily minimums.

For most of the season, 2015 Arctic sea ice extent was tracking 2014. In fact the July average extent was slightly higher than 2014. Then weather intervened in the last week of August. A large and strong cyclone centered over Chukchi Sea began breaking up ice in the BCE Region and affecting CAA (Canadian Archipelago) and the Central Arctic.  In addition, most of the summer the Arctic Oscillation (AO) was in negative phase, meaning fewer clouds, more direct insolation and ice melting.  More discussion of these two factors is at the end of this post.

The effects of this storm are seen in the rapid increase in water extent ( 482k km2 in one week) so that August 31 2015 had less ice than did 2014 at minimum September 19. Water extent continued to grow, and then stabilized once the storm abated and the AO went from negative to neutral.  Now the ice is growing beyond the daily minimum.

Comparing MASIE and NOAA Ice Extents.

Month 2015 2015 2015 2014 2014 2014
Ave. MASIE NOAA MASIE-NOAA MASIE NOAA MASIE-NOAA
Feb 15.032 14.498 0.534
March 15.170 14.758 0.413
April 13.650 13.954 -0.304 14.318 14.088 0.230
May 12.646 12.485 0.161 12.916 12.701 0.215
June 10.841 10.889 -0.049 11.324 11.033 0.292
July 8.713 8.411 0.302 8.482 8.108 0.374
August 5.961 5.658 0.303 6.353 6.078 0.275
Sept 4.545 4.463 0.082 5.364 5.220 0.144
Oct 7.697 7.232 0.464

The table shows July 2015 was above 2014 but late August weather caused a drop in monthly averages.  The August average is now complete and shows ice extent dropped ~2.7M km2 from July, compared to a 2014 loss of ~2.0M. That difference has persisted up to today. NOAA typically reports a lower extent than MASIE, a difference that averaged ~300k km2.  Then in one week MASIE dropped while NOAA plateaued, and now NOAA September extents are quite close to MASIE, some days showing a higher number.

With the September daily ice starting out lower than 2014 the monthly average should end up much smaller.  The September first 19 days average is shown, a figure that should rise and end the month near 4.6M km2. This presumes the minimum has definitely occurred, and the recovery is in effect.

In any case, I am not alarmed over open water in the Arctic. Steadily increasing and above average September ice extents signify the coming of the next ice age, a genuine threat to human life and prosperity.  Fortunately, that is not the indication this year.

Current and Recent Weather in the Arctic

In addition to the storm, the negative AO has been conducive to accelerating ice melting by increased insolation.

September 16 Arctic Oscillation Forecast from AER:

The AO, which has remained almost consistently in negative territory since late June, has resulted in near record low AO values for July and August. The AO is predicted to first trend positive through the weekend and pop into positive territory early next week. However by midweek the AO is predicted to return back into negative territory and remain negative through early October.

“The positive trend in the AO and the setting sun may have brought an early end to the Arctic sea ice melt season but not before sea ice extent achieved its fourth lowest value since observations began.  It is likely that the extremely low AO values observed in July and August are reflective of atmospheric conditions (sunny and warm) that were conducive to rapid sea ice melt.”

https://www.aer.com/science-research/climate-weather/arctic-oscillation

The Alaska Dispatch News reported August 27 on the storm effects at Barrow, Alaska:

“The service has issued a coastal flood warning for Barrow until Friday morning, along with a high surf advisory for the western part of the North Slope and a gale warning for much of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Seas up to 14 feet were forecast for Thursday in the Chukchi. . .Thursday’s high waves and flooding are products of a large storm that’s being felt as far as Southcentral Alaska, where high winds are forecast, Metzger said. “It’s a pretty big low-pressure system that’s over the Arctic Ocean,” he said. ”

https://www.adn.com/article/20150827/high-winds-causing-big-waves-flooding-barrow

a quarter million square KM of arctic ice in the CAB, adjacent to the Beaufort and Chukchi. 20150829

This storm is reminiscent of the 2012 event that resulted in the lowest ice, greatest water extent this century. The high winds, waves and swells have several effects: Gales push ice floes, opening water between them and pushing them toward warmer waters; Ice pieces are churned and fractured increasing the melt rate; Wave action can flood ice packs or can cause compacting, further reducing extent.

Anti-Racketeering Initiative

There’s a lot of buzz lately over a letter from some US academics asking for prosecution of those questioning consensus climate science. It is proposed that this offense can be considered as organized crime under the RICO legislation:  the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

One commenter (h/t Hans Erren) at the Climate Etc. Discussion said:

Wikipedia defines a racket as: A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as for a problem that does not actually exist, that will not be put into effect, or that would not otherwise exist if the racket did not exist. Conducting a racket is racketeering. Particularly, the potential problem may be caused by the same party that offers to solve it, although that fact may be concealed, with the specific intent to engender continual patronage for this party.

Clearly the academics (many of whom are not physical scientists) missed their target. The IPCC fits perfectly the definition of a racket and could be pursued under RICO. Though I don’t think the courts are qualified to settle this or any science.

Still, “If the Glove Fits, You cannot Acquit!”

 

The Climates, They are A-changing.

Updated below with comments and additional links September 17-19

Seeing a lot more of this lately, along with hearing the geese  honking. And in the next month or so, we expect that trees around here will lose their leaves. It definitely is climate change of the seasonal variety.

Interestingly, the science on this is settled: It is all due to reduction of solar energy because of the shorter length of days (LOD). The trees drop their leaves and go dormant because of less sunlight, not because of lower temperatures. The latter is an effect, not the cause.

Of course, the farther north you go, the more remarkable the seasonal climate change. St. Petersburg, Russia has their balmy “White Nights” in June when twilight is as dark as it gets, followed by the cold, dark winter and a chance to see the Northern Lights.

And as we have been monitoring, the Arctic ice has been melting from sunlight in recent months, but will now begin to build again in the darkness to its maximum in March.

We can also expect in January and February for another migration of millions of Canadians (nicknamed “snowbirds”) to fly south in search of a summer-like climate to renew their memories and hopes. As was said to me by one man in Saskatchewan (part of the Canadian wheat breadbasket region): “Around here we have Triple-A farmers: April to August, and then Arizona.” Here’s what he was talking about: Quartzsite Arizona annually hosts 1.5M visitors, mostly between November and March.

Of course, this is just North America. Similar migrations occur in Europe, and in the Southern Hemisphere, the climates are changing in the opposite direction, Springtime currently. Since it is so obviously the sun causing this seasonal change, the question arises: Does the sunlight vary on longer than annual timescales?

The Solar-Climate Debate

And therein lies a great, enduring controversy between those (like the IPCC) who dismiss the sun as a driver of multi-Decadal climate change, and those who see a connection between solar cycles and Earth’s climate history. One side can be accused of ignoring the sun because of a prior commitment to CO2 as the climate “control knob”.

The other side is repeatedly denounced as “cyclomaniacs” in search of curve-fitting patterns to prove one or another thesis. It is also argued that a claim of 60-year cycles can not be validated with only 150 years or so of reliable data. That point has weight, but it is usually made by those on the CO2 bandwagon despite temperature and CO2 trends correlating for only 2 decades during the last century.

One scientist in this field is Nicola Scaffeta, who presents the basic concept this way:

“The theory is very simple in words. The solar system is characterized by a set of specific gravitational oscillations due to the fact that the planets are moving around the sun. Everything in the solar system tends to synchronize to these frequencies beginning with the sun itself. The oscillating sun then causes equivalent cycles in the climate system. Also the moon acts on the climate system with its own harmonics. In conclusion we have a climate system that is mostly made of a set of complex cycles that mirror astronomical cycles. Consequently it is possible to use these harmonics to both approximately hindcast and forecast the harmonic component of the climate, at least on a global scale. This theory is supported by strong empirical evidences using the available solar and climatic data.”

He goes on to say:

“The global surface temperature record appears to be made of natural specific oscillations with a likely solar/astronomical origin plus a noncyclical anthropogenic contribution during the last decades. Indeed, because the boundary condition of the climate system is regulated also by astronomical harmonic forcings, the astronomical frequencies need to be part of the climate signal in the same way the tidal oscillations are regulated by soli-lunar harmonics.”

He has concluded that “at least 60% of the warming of the Earth observed since 1970 appears to be induced by natural cycles which are present in the solar system.” For the near future he predicts a stabilization of global temperature until about 2016 and cooling until 2030-2040.

https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/nicola-scafetta-global-temperatures-and-sunspot-numbers-are-they-related-yes-but-non-linearly/

A Deeper, but Accessible Presentation of Solar-Climate Theory

I have found this presentation by Ian Wilson to be persuasive while honestly considering all of the complexities involved.

The author raises the question: What if there is a third factor that not only drives the variations in solar activity that we see on the Sun but also drives the changes that we see in climate here on the Earth?

The linked article is quite readable by a general audience, and comes to a similar conclusion as Scaffeta above: There is a connection, but it is not simple cause and effect. And yes, length of day (LOD) is a factor beyond the annual cycle.

http://www.lavoisier.com.au/articles/greenhouse-science/solar-cycles/IanwilsonForum2008.pdf

It is fair to say that we are still at the theorizing stage of understanding a solar connection to earth’s climate. And at this stage, investigators look for correlations in the data and propose theories (explanations) for what mechanisms are at work. Interestingly, despite the lack of interest from the IPCC, solar and climate variability is a very active research field these days.

A summary of current studies is provided at NoTricksZone:

http://notrickszone.com/2015/09/14/already-23-papers-supporting-sun-as-major-climate-factor-in-2015-burgeoning-evidence-no-longer-dismissible/#sthash.2MviVRWR.dpbs

Ian Wilson has much more to say at his blog: http://astroclimateconnection.blogspot.com.au/

Once again, it appears that the world is more complicated than a simple cause and effect model suggests.

For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 1:9)

Update Sept. 17: Commentary with Dr. Arnd Bernaerts

ArndB comments:

Fine writing, Ron, well done!
No doubt the sun is the by far the most important factor for not living on a globe with temperatures down to minus 200°C. That makes me hesitating to comment on „solar and climate variability” or “the sun drives climate” (currently at NTZ – link above), but today merely requesting humbly that the claimed correlation should be based at least on some evidence showing that the sun has ever caused a significant climatic shift during the last one million years, which was not only a bit air temperature variability due to solar cycles that necessarily occur in correlation with the intake and release of solar-radiation by the oceans and seas.

Interestingly the UK MetOffice just released a report (Sept.2015, pages 21) titled:
“Big Changes Underway in the Climate System?”
by attributing the most possible and likely changes to the current status of El Niño, PDO, and AMO, and – of course – carbon dioxide -, and a bit speculation on less sun-energy (see following excerpt at link)
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/8/c/Changes_In_The_Climate_System.pdf

From p. 13: “It is well established that trace gases such as carbon dioxide warm our planet through the “greenhouse effect”. These gases are relatively transparent to incoming sunlight, but trap some of the longer-wavelength radiation emitted by the Earth. However, other factors, both natural and man-made, can also change global temperatures. For example, a cooling could be caused by a downturn of the amount of energy received from the sun, or an increase in the sunlight reflected back to space by aerosol particles in the atmosphere. Aerosols increase temporarily after volcanic eruptions, but are also generated by pollution such as sulphur dioxide from factories.
These “external” factors are imposed on the climate system and may also affect the ENSO, PDO and AMO variations……

My Reply:

Thanks Arnd for engaging in this topic.

My view is that the ocean makes the climate by means of its huge storage of solar energy, and the fluctuations, oscillations in the processes of distributing that energy globally and to the poles. In addition, the ocean is the most affected by any variation in the incoming solar energy, both by the sun outputting more or less, and also by clouds and aerosols blocking incoming radiation more or less (albedo or brightness variability).

https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/the-climate-water-wheel/

The oscillations you mention, including the present El Nino (and Blob) phenomenon, show natural oceanic variability over years and decades. Other ocean cycles occur over multi-decadal and centennial scales, and are still being analyzed.

At the other end of the scale, I am persuaded that the earth switches between the “hot house” and the “ice house” mainly due to orbital cycles, which are an astronomical phenomenon. These are strong enough to overwhelm the moderating effect of the ocean thermal flywheel.

The debate centers on the extent to which solar activity has contributed to climate change over the last 3000 years of our current interglacial period, including current solar cycles.

Update September 19

Additional studies showing a solar-climate connection are here: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=de&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kaltesonne.de%2Fsonne-macht-klima-neues-aus-europa%2F