Wednesday 23 January 2013

A real paper on the variability of the climate

I am searching for papers on the variability of climate and its natural variability and possible changes due to climate change. They are hard to find.

The New Climate Dice

This weekend I was reading a potential one: the controversial paper by James Hansen et al. (2012) popularly described as "The New Climate Dice". Its results suggest that variability is increasing. After an op-ed in the Washington Post, this article attracted much attention with multiple reviews on Open Mind (1, 2, 3), Sceptical Science and Real Climate. A Google search finds more than 60 thousand webpages, including rants by the climate ostriches.

While I was reading this paper the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group send out a newsletter announcing that they have also written two memos about Hansen et al.: one by Wickenburg and one by Hausfather. At the end of the Hausfather memo there is a personal communication by James Hansen that states that the paper did not intend to study variability. That is a pity, but at least saves me the time trying to understand the last figure.

Reinhard Böhm

That means that the best study I know on changes in variability is a beautiful paper by Reinhard Böhm (2012), who unfortunately recently passed away, an enormous loss. His paper is called "changes of regional climate variability in central Europe during the past 250 years". It analyses the high-quality HISTALP dataset. This dataset for the greater Alpine region contains many long time series; many of the earliest observations were performed in this region. Furthermore, this dataset has been very carefully homogenized.

Reinhard Böhm finds no change in variability, not for pressure, not for temperature and not for precipitation. His main conclusions are:
  • The first result of the study is the clear evidence that there has been no increase of variability during the past 250 years in the region.
  • We can show that also this recent anthropogenic normal period [1981-2010, red.] shows no widening of the PDF (probability density function) compared to preceding ones.
  • It shows that interannual variability changes show a clear centennial oscillating structure for all three climatic elements [pressure, temperature and precipitation, red.] in the region.
  • For the time of being we have no explanation for this empirical evidence.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change is a Fraud

Have you ever been called a proponent of the theory Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (CACC) or Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW)? Typically just the abbreviation. No? Then you probably never commented at a climate "skeptic" blog and suggested that possibly some aspect of climate science might be sound, if only by accident.

Photo of a wild fire by Zach Dischner used under a creative commons CC BY 2.0 license.

My guess would be that the "proponents of CAGW" are supposed to be scientists and people that tend to believe climatologists over climate "skeptics". So what does the scientific literature say about catastrophic climate change? In the Web of Science, you can find one article for the term "Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change". For comparison there are "approximately 75,755" articles on "Climate Change".

This article is "the evolution of an energy contrarian", an autobiographical essay by a gas company manager and researcher Henry R. Linden. It does not make the impression that it was reviewed.
Abstract: An analysis of the forces that have shaped energy and energy-related environmental policies is presented through the eyes of an active participant in their evolution over the past 53 years. ... Today, proponents of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, again claiming scientific consensus, threaten to create even greater energy market distortions at large social and economic costs. The author traces his conversion to energy contrarian to the general failure of consensus and to his own misjudgments in these critical policy areas.
(my emphasis)

Furthermore, there is one article for the term "catastrophic anthropogenic global warming", while there are "approximately 17,866" articles on "global warming". This article is another single-author paper and written by Alan Carlin (Wikipedia | his blog) for the Special Issue on Advances in Environmental Economics with guest editor Alan Carlin(!). This journal publishes very fast: one article of the special issue was published in 1 month, while Carlin's article took the longest, but it was still published within 3 months.

Abstract: Economic analyses of environmental mitigation and other interdisciplinary public policy issues can be much more useful if they critically examine what other disciplines have to say, insist on using the most relevant observational data and the scientific method, and examine lower cost alternatives to the change proposed. ...
The economic benefits of reducing CO(2) emissions may be about two orders of magnitude less than those estimated by most economists because the climate sensitivity factor (CSF) is much lower than assumed by the United Nations because feedback is negative rather than positive and the effects of CO(2) emissions reductions on atmospheric CO(2) appear to be short rather than long lasting. ...
The risk of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming appears to be so low that it is not currently worth doing anything to try to control it, including geoengineering.
(my emphasis)

You got to love it when an economist from the RAND company knows better what the climate sensitivity is as climatologists ("United Nations"). The irony is that this paper, which is a peer-review catastrophe, explains at length why citing non-reviewed works is fine and the peer reviewed literature on the climate sensitivity needs to be ignored.

This "paper" should never have been published in the scientific literature. Fortunately, it is well hidden in a journal on public health were no climatologist or economist will find it. In this way, the peer-review system did do its filtering job.