Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thirty Year Timeout for Global Warming

Let me get this right. We have a cooling event without cause and we must be prepared to discount it as significant for thirty years. I am trying to imagine any other field of human endeavor that would accept such a specious argument. It in fact boggles the mind. The heart of good science is to acknowledge the data and ask where it takes you.

In this case, the data is flowing strongly against the proposed theory and its expected data structure. The data is not waffling anymore as it did the previous several years. It has completely undone all the previous warming and is still trending downward.

Attempting to preserve a pet theory by giving it a thirty year time out is unbelievable. It might have been better to do what most other scientists have done by either becoming silent or beating a hasty retreat.

In 2007, the sea ice melt had entered terminal breakup if the seven year temperature regime was maintained. The temperature reversal was almost immediate and is continuing. We have made some progress to understanding what drives this reversal and I can assure you it has zip to do with human meddling.

My response was to recognize the new data and explain its meaning. It really is that easy. My continuing concern is that the community has a long lead time in getting data interpretations out into the hands of the public. It took a minimal understanding of theory to recognize that present trends meant an ice free 2012. NASA and others were already into temperature reversal data before their related stories came out. This means that I am generally reading out of date news stories on climate subjects.

Today we are continuing to suffer through a cold miserable winter comparable to the low end on the averages for the past fifty years. I also have no reason to anticipate anything else for the next few years.

The only variable able to show significance is solar sunspot activity and it continues to be very quiet. If it got active tomorrow, the lag time will still be a couple of years.

Global Warming: On Hold?

Michael Reilly, Discovery News

March 2, 2009 -- For those who have endured this winter's frigid temperatures and today's heavy snowstorm in the Northeast, the concept of
global warming may seem, well, almost wishful.

But climate is known to be variable -- a cold winter, or a few strung together doesn't mean the planet is cooling. Still, according to a new study, global warming may have hit a speed bump and could go into hiding for decades.

Earth's climate continues to confound scientists. Following a 30-year trend of
warming, global temperatures have flatlined since 2001 despite rising greenhouse gas concentrations, and a heat surplus that should have cranked up the planetary thermostat.

"This is nothing like anything we've seen since 1950," Kyle Swanson of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said. "Cooling events since then had firm causes, like eruptions or large-magnitude
La Ninas. This current cooling doesn't have one."

Instead, Swanson and colleague Anastasios Tsonis think a series of climate processes have aligned, conspiring to chill the climate. In 1997 and 1998, the tropical Pacific Ocean warmed rapidly in what Swanson called a "super El Nino event." It sent a shock wave through the oceans and atmosphere, jarring their circulation patterns into unison.

How does this square with temperature records from 2005-2007, by some measurements among the warmest years on record? When added up with the other four years since 2001, Swanson said the overall trend is flat, even though temperatures should have gone up by 0.2 degrees Centigrade (0.36 degrees Fahrenheit) during that time.

The discrepancy gets to the heart of one of the toughest problems in climate science -- identifying the difference between natural variability (like the occasional March snowstorm) from
human-induced change.

But just what's causing the cooling is a mystery. Sinking water currents in the north Atlantic Ocean could be sucking heat down into the depths. Or an overabundance of tropical clouds may be reflecting more of the sun's energy than usual back out into space.

"It is possible that a fraction of the most recent rapid warming since the 1970s was due to a free variation in climate," Isaac Held of the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Princeton, New Jersey wrote in an email to Discovery News. "Suggesting that the warming might possibly slow down or even stagnate for a few years before rapid warming commences again."

Swanson thinks the trend could continue for up to 30 years. But he warned that it's just a hiccup, and that humans' penchant for spewing
greenhouse gases will certainly come back to haunt us.

"When the climate kicks back out of this state, we'll have explosive warming," Swanson said. "Thirty years of greenhouse gas radiative forcing will still be there and then bang, the warming will return and be very aggressive."

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