Friday, February 27, 2015

Should We See Sea Level Rise to be Accelerating? (No)

One of the questions you sometimes hear is that, if more of the GHG-trapped heat is lately going into the ocean, why isn't sea level rise itself rising -- accelerating?

Here I'll show that, no, we should not be seeing more sea level rise, not now, via a back-of-the-envelope physics calculation. Really basic physics, like freshman year physics.

Alas, I don't expect anyone to follow this, or work through it and look for errors, or comment on it. Because Willie Soon. Because sexual harassment. Because climate McCarthyism. But I don't know how else to think about these questions. I find these kind of little calculations fun, and even sometimes wise. I wish they were done more often.

Sorry to get technical. But there's no other way to answer this question.

Everything starts, of course, with the definition of specific heat

dQ = mc dT = ρVc dT =ρAhc dT

where ρ is the density of sea water, V its volume, c its specific heat, and T its temperature, A is the area of the ocean, and h the ocean's height. (This is a simple model -- same temperature throughout, and I'll ignore any sea level rise from melting land ice, the so-called "eustatic" change. I'm doing a calculation of the "steric" changes.) (For some reason I have a mental block and can never remember which of these is which.) Then

dQ/Adt = ρch dT/dt

The left-hand side is how much heat is going into the ocean per unit area. That's fOF(t) where F(t) is the energy imbalance for the planet (which I'll take as the forcing due to GHGs, ignoring cooling forcings like aerosols from fossil fuel pollution, etc. Note that this is a significantly larger number than reality, which is more like the energy imbalance of 0.5 W/m2 of Loeb et al Nature Geo 2012), and fO is the fraction of that energy that goes into the ocean. fis about 93E%.

For the right-hand side, use the thermal expansion relation for water to give, assuming the area of the ocean stays the same (viz. the ocean is only expanding upward)

dT/dt = (1/αh) dh/dt

where h is the height of the ocean and α the thermal expansion coefficient of water. Then

F(t) = β dh/dt

where β = ρc/α = 1.6 x 10-11 m3/J, or 1/β = 6.1 x 1010 J/m3, an energy density.

The global radiative forcing is increasing linearly. In 2013 it was 2.916 W/m2, according to NOAA, and its slope is, if you calculate it, ε = 0.034 W/m2/yr. (The Loeb et al 2012 result noted above would likely a signifcantly lower epsilion. That will increase the numers below correspondingly.) Earth's actual energy balance is less than this, because of manmade pollutants -- chemicals like sulphuric acid that reflect away sunlight. But I'll go this for now, as an upper bound.

Put this all together, taking F=F0 = 2.916 W/m2 at t = t0 = now, and you get simply

d2h/dt2 = βεfO ≡ a = 0.017 mm/yr2

This is the acceleration of sea level rise, due to thermal expansion. It's not so very big, but it's happening year-after-year.

Here βε sets the scale for this problem -- a quantity that, by units alone, is the acceleration, up to a constant that is a pure number, with no units.

It's an amazing aspect of physics, which no one has ever really explained, not even Dirac, that physical systems never deviate much from their fundamental constants. That is, in this case, d2h/dt2 = βε*fO, but it doesn't equal 100 times βε or a billion times it, or 10^-21 times it. It's right in the sweet spot of the algebra -- a few times it, or the inverse.

Why? I don't know, and I don't know if anyone knows. But it does mean you can often make a good guess for the answer to a physics problem simply by doing dimensional analysis -- by deciding what constants are a necessary part of the answer, and seeing what combination of them works out to the units of the thing you're trying to calculate. It's trivial once you understand it, but powerful.

John Wheeler, who taught Richard Feynman, said you should never start a physics calculation before you know the answer. By this he means, do dimensional analysis first. That's how the system is going to respond to any external force.

Here beta is the fundamental unit of the system, and ε the cale of the input. It's not surprising the beta*epsilon shows up for the acceleration.

Now the equations are no different from basic kinematics of an accelerating car. With a = 0.017 mm/yr2, we find the present rate of sea level rise to be

S0 = S(t0) = (dh/dt)|t=t0 = βfOε = 1.4 mm/yr

where S(t) is the rate of sea level rise (= dh/dt), which is about what you'd expect, since SLR is now 3.2 mm/yr and about half of this is steric. As is expected, we get

S(t) - S0 = a*(t-t0)

How long will it take sea level rise to double, from today's S0 to 2*S0? Call that time D. Then

D - t0 = S0/a = F0/ε = 85 years

How much sea level acceleration should we expect to see, for the thermal expansion of seawater, 20 years in the future?

S(20 years in the future) - S0 = 0.3 mm/yr

But note that CU's uncertainty on the rate of sea level rise is +/- 0/4 mm/yr. So what we'd expect is within the error bars.
Suppose though that what caused the hiatus is more heat going into the ocean. Should sea level rise be noticeably jumping up in that case?

No. We have
S0 = β*F0*fO

So if fO goes from, say, 93% to 95%, current sea level should rise only by a factor of only 0.95/0.93 = 1.02 so S0 -> (1.4 mm/yr)*1.02 = 1.43 mm/yr, which just isn't going to be noticeable with today's error bars.

Rick Perry and Texas CO2: He Brags About Being Average

At today's CPAP conference in DC -- where the only real question is how far Republican candidates can suck up to the rabid conservative base -- Rick Perry, Republican governor of Texas, tried to establish some environmental creds, according to the partisan blog Daily Caller:
He made the argument that though Texas added 5.6 million people to its population and 1.4 million jobs in the last seven years, they have also managed to be environmentally friendly.

“During that same period of time, using thoughtful and incentive-based regulations, we reduced our carbon monoxide levels, which by the way, is a real pollutant,” he said. “Nitrous Oxide levels were down by 16.2 percent, ozone levels down by 15 percent, and our CO2 levels were down–whether you believe in this whole concept of climate change or not–CO2 levels were down by 9 percent in that state.”
Not so fast.

The EIA has state-by-state CO2 emissions, up to 2011. Over the seven year period 2004-2011, Texas CO2 emissions went from 718.8 Mt CO2 to 655.5 Gt CO2, a decrease of 8.8%. That rounds to 9%, as Perry said

But during that time, the US as a whole went from 5.97 CO2/yr (2004) to 5.44 CO2/yr (2011), a decrease of ... 8.8%.

So Perry's grand accomplishment was (drum roll....)  to remain average.

Lord help us if this man ever gets elected President.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Prediction of February's GISTEMP

What will NASA GISS give for February's global average surface temperature anomaly?

Despite all the frigid temperatures in the northeastern part of the U.S., it's going to be high. Because that region is only on order a percent of the globe or less, and elsewhere it's been average to quite warm.

How warm?

I've been following the University of Maine climate reanalyzer for several months, noting its daily temperaure anomaly for the globe, and comparing that to the GISS monthly anomaly numbers. There's a decent correlation (see graph).

As they say, click to expand
Based on this correlation, and the Reanalzer's daily numbers for February, my guess is that GISTEMP's anomaly for February will be +0.82°C.

We'll see.

If true, that would be the second-warmest February in GISS's records, after only 1998's +0.86°C. That was the peak of the warmth caused by 1997-98's El Nino, and temperatures declined from there, so the year was 0.07°C below 2014 {± uncertainties, error bars, statistics, probability, and all that.}

It really has been remarkable how quickly temperatures that once seemed extreme (1998) now seem routine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Answer not a fool....

"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him."

- Proverbs 26:4

The Sharp Increase in the Cost of Fighting US Wildfires

I'm posting this only because it took a lot of work to produce, for something else I'm working on about U.S. wildfires

It's an increase of about 5% per year, in real (inflation-adjusted) money.

Is this worrying? I don't know. It probably is if your job is to fight wildfires. Or if you ever have to hope they put out the fire that's heading your way.

Data from National Interagency Fire Center and the FRED economic database.

An Example of Willie Soon's (Bad) Science

Regardless of any issues of Willie Soon's funding and what he should have disclosed, there is also this: his science is bad. Quite bad. It would be bad even for a first-year graduate student. Or an advanced undergraduate. And it's easy to understand why it's bad.

If you assume Soon was doing honest research, and that the oil money found him instead of the other way around (which I can accept), you have to wonder what they thought they were paying for. As Gavin Schmidt said, "The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless.”

Here's the example I know best, from the Soon and Baliumas 2003 paper in Climate Research, "Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years." They concluded (from the abstract)
Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.
The first thing to note about their methodology is that it's not quantitative. Forget all the research of paleoclimate scientists who had worked diligently to understand temperaure proxies and tree rings and how to incorporate these findings into quantative, mathematical models. Soon told me they weren't even trying to be quantaitative:
"I was stating outright that I'm not able to give too many quantitative details, especially in terms of aggregating all the results," Soon says.
So what were S&B doing, if it wasn't quantitative? They settled for categorizing -- grouping the research done by others into supporting or not supporting a Medievel Warm Period (MWP), and the same for the Little Ice Age, and seeing if they were "anomalous."

So how did they define "anomalous?" Very loosely. I'll focus on their Medievel Warm Period:

But look at this. Anomalous wetness or dryness has no a priori connection to temperature. So a 50-year period would be counted as evidence for the MWP even if the temperature was perfectly constant.

In fact, the temperature could have been decreasing all that time, and they'd  have still count it as "anomalous" if it was unusually wet or dry.

Worse, the "stipulated interval" for the MWP was 800 to 1300 A.D. So if the years 800-850 AD were unusually dry, that interval would count as evidence for a global MWP, regardless of what the temperature did over those 50 years, or the full 500 years.

So you can see how this classification was either (a) nonsense, or (b) trickery.

In either case, it's impossible to take seriously. It's so bad I don't see how S&B could have taken it seriously.

What do they mean by "unusually?" Or "objectively discernible," which they use in the table that lists their categorizations? They never really say, especially quantitatively.

They also wrote:
Past researchers implied that unusual 20th century warming means a global human impact. However, the proxies show that the 20th century is not unusually warm or extreme.
First of all, we don't need proxies for the 20th century -- we have thermometers. Second of all, the warming since 1975 started 28 years before their paper -- so it can't be included, by their definition. And the warming in the early 20th century happened from about 1910 to about 1945 -- only 35 years. Again, not long enough for them to include.

So, by definition, Soon and Baliunas do not find any "unusual" warming in the 20th century. Slick, huh?

These are some pretty glaring issues with paper. Anyone smart reader can understand them, which makes me suspect S&B thought they would publish this paper in an obscure place that no one would notice, and then have (just) a citation to be used by those who don't really care about the science. But I don't know their motivations.

Stoat has another good example of Soon's poor science: talking about land temperatures on an "aquaplanet" -- a planet that, by definition, has water across its entire surface.

And the fact that Soon's work jumped around -- from the MWP & LIA to solar reconstructions to polar bears to mercury -- doesn't speak well of him as a scientist, in this day and age. Instead it showed a lack of expertise.... It looks like he was casting about for material that could get funded, being sure to hit all the hot spots. Like he was writing term papers.

Added: By the way, Soon's correspondence (not about this paper) with Southern Company Services (SCS) called his work a “deliverable.” That's one of those corporate term that, along with "milestone" and "world class" and "value added," etc., that gets hijacked into your brain when you work in corporate America. (You're usually too tired and stressed to resist.) I'm not surprised SCS would use it. I don't see what's so bad about it. Don't all grant winners, from the government or otherwise, have to give some accounting for their grant money?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

1958 Film Mentions Manmade Global Warming

This 1958 film, The Unchained Goddess, mentions AGW:

It was one of four educational films made by Bell Laboratories, and was directed by, of all people, the legendary director Frank Capra. The scientist in the film is an actor, Frank Baxter,

Wikipedia says the its television broadcast had "a disappointing audience share and many critical press reviews." Would be fun to put a copy of this in a time capsule.

I Get Mail....

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Posts
Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2015 23:21:48 -0600
From: Peter Kostyniuk <>

Hi David!

I keep coming across some of your posts that you make on certain blogs.  I have to admit that your comments make me laugh and you definitely keep me in good humour for the balance of the day after I read some of your posts.  Sometimes I get involved in doing other things and then I recall something you wrote that I had read earlier, and then I chuckle to myself.  I don't think I've had a bad day for months now because of the stupidity that you write.  Keep up the good work.

Actually, maybe you should consider a career in comedy.  You're the type who can say something with a straight face that makes others say, "Are you serious", then shake their heads and then laugh.

Don't stop posting.  I need my daily fix of laughter to keep me in good spirits.  So rather than looking for comedy, I just look for your name on some of the blogs that I read.



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Did Willie Soon Lie to Congress?

Part of the background for today's NY Times article on the corporate money received by Willie Soon is this case study by Greenpeace. It shows Soon received $58,380 in 2001-2002 from the American Petroleum Institute for a study on the sun's influence on climate over the last 1000 years, and $60,053 in 2003 to study "1000 years of solar variability," which apparently was the funding for his and Baliunas's infamous Climate Research article that led to several journal editors resigning.

In the CR article they acknowledge the American Petroleum Institute as one of their funders:

That paper was published January 31, 2003, and I reported on it for Scientific American in June 2003. I asked them how much money they had received from the various funders, including the API, but they wouldn't tell me. (In fact, they would only answer questions in a list I emailed to them, with no followups.) Soon was receiving grants from the API as early as 1994.

But on July 29, 2003 Soon testified before the Environment and Public Works committee of the U.S. Senate. Here's his initial testimony, which doesn't seem to include any questions he was asked:

Hmm.... A 1998 memo by Joe Walker, a PR representative for the American Petroleum Institute, lays out the Action Plan for Walker's Global Climate Science Team. It includes, among several other points

That sure sounds like an "advocacy position." Was Soon, who had been dealing with the American Petroleum Institute since at least 1994, really not have been aware of the API's position on the Kyoto treaty? (Was anyone?) Maybe, but it seems a very big stretch.

Maybe something is finally going to come from all this. The New York Times article quotes both the director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center and the secretary for science at the Smithsonian Instute (I couldn't get a comment from the Center's director back in 2003), who finally seem concerned about Soon's failure to disclose funding sources when journals he published in required it.

That, rather than the accuracy of his testimony to Congress, could be Soon's undoing. I've never understood why the  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which does a lot of good work, would keep Soon on their staff. Could it have been the grants he was bringing it?

Stoat finds Soon's statement that "I would never be motivated by money for anything" "astonishing." Gavin Schmidt told the NY TImes, “The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless." But maybe not pointless to everyone -- the US never did sign the Kyoto treaty.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

GISS Temperature Numerology

I say numerology, because three decades or more are needed to see changes in climate (and the 30-yr trend for GISS's global temperature anomalies is still 0.16°C/decade).

But if there was going an end to the (equally un-climactic) "hiatus," you'd expect it to first show up in short-term trends. Like this:

Or like this:

Also, have you noticed the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscaillation) is apparently starting to flip? Last year it was positive for the first time in eight years:

while the AMO is remaining steady:

This is just numerology. But kind of interesting, if you're trying to read the tea leaves.

Current Very Weak El Nino Now Equivalent to Huge '97-98 El Nino

Here's an update to the world's temperature compared to the 1997-8 massive El Nino:

Even though the Nino3.4 anomaly hasn't reached an El Nino phase yet (5 consecutive months of an anomaly above 0.5 C are rquired to be an "official" El Nino), last years's index has been much below that of the big 1997-98 El Nino.

But temperatures have been running higher. Significantly higher.

So in less than 20 years, the warming that resulted from a huge El Nino is now seen from a weak-to-nonexistent El Nino.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015