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The Weather Thread!


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It's a chilly one not just across the top half of the continent, but reaching into Texas and Northern Mexico today.

Seeing as it's an arctic airmass clearly coming over the north pole, we can only assume that it's the russians...because we say so! ;) :p

Cold from coming in from Canada haha .. Yeah let the Russian's take the blame lol


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And surely there will be zero issues or collisions, because everyone will be extra attentive and adjust their travelling habits regardless if they drive, walk or bike...

;) :p
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Is anything wrong with Forbes Climate Reporting?
Posted on 15 February 2017 by Sarah

Forbes has trotted out another entirely ignorant piece on climate change, "Is Anything Wrong With Natural, Non-Man-Made Climate Change?" this time by fake expert Mario Loyola, a lawyer with a background in European history. I guess Forbes considers those credentials give him the expertise to communicate the complexities of climate change. Presumably Forbes would hire a physicist as counsel for a lawsuit concerning corporate governance (Loyola's actual area of formal disciplinary expertise).

Loyola first invents a straw man in the form of a mythical ‘environmentalist’. Thisfantastical creature thinks climate change is bad only because it is caused by humans and would not object to catastrophic climate change if it was natural. Loyola goes on to claim that some people “flatly deny that temperatures and sea levels could be rising partly for natural reasons”. If such people exist, I have never met one. Most of us learn about natural climate change in elementary school when we first read that the climate of the dinosaurs was much different than our current one.

And most of us are able to recognize that multiple drivers combine to give an observed outcome. A car moves from the combined effects of the engine, the slope of the road, and the wind. Climate change is not either human-caused or natural; it is both. We also know that one driver can be much more important than others. The fact that your cat adds heatto your house doesn’t mean your furnace is irrelevant. According to Loyola logic, because natural volcanoes have caused catastrophic devastation in the past we shouldn’t try to prevent humans from releasing a nuclear bomb.

Loyola diligently searched the IPCC AR5 Summary for Policymakers to find a quote to bolster his claims that current climate change could be caused by something other than humans. He chose this one for his misinterpretation: ”It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and otheranthropogenic forcings together." If he had read and understood the report, he would know that his chosen quote about surface air temperatures doesn’t include heating of the oceans, which are absorbing 90% of the excess energy that is warming the planet.

Furthermore, in hunting for an IPCC statement to support his opinion Loyola skipped the statement just above it which is based on all the combined evidence, not just surface temperatures. “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” For sheer brazenness in selective quoting, I nominate Loyola for a cherry-picking trophy.

This figure shows how natural causes (NAT) compare to human drivers (GHG+ANT+OA) of recent climate change.
IPCC AR5 original caption: Figure 10.5. Assessed likely ranges (whiskers) and their mid-points (bars) for attributable warming trends over the 1951–2010 period due to well-mixed greenhouse gases, other anthropogenic forcings (OA), natural forcings (NAT), combined anthropogenic forcings (ANT) and internal variability. The Hadley Centre/Climatic Research Unit gridded surface temperature data set 4 (HadCRUT4) observations are shown in black with the 5 to 95% uncertainty range due to observational uncertainty in this record (Morice et al. 2012).

The notion that scientists don’t understand natural climate change or include it in their assessment of our current crisis is insulting to the thousands of researchers around the world who have spent decades studying the Earth system. These dedicated professionals have laboriously pieced together evidence from ice cores, ocean sediments, archeological and fossil records, and astronomy to build a coherent, consistent, and well-supported history of Earth’s climate.

Loyola is obviously unaware of Earth’s history, as he demonstrates when he laughably explains that because sea level rose by 300 feet at the end of the last ice age we shouldn’t worry about rising seas today. Undoubtably the few million humans on Earth 12,000 years ago were inconvenienced by sea level rise, while they were busy inventing agriculture. Following these absurd ideas, we learn that we shouldn’t worry that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has soared to levels never experienced in human history (or prehistory) because it was higher 254 million years ago, before dinosaurs even existed!

Amazingly, I found one statement in this sea of ignorance that I agree with: “Policies designed to guard against risks have to take uncertainty into account.” Given that we are uncertain whether human-caused climate change will be very bad, extremely bad, or catastrophic, I agree that it would be prudent to guard against those risks rather than throwing up smokescreens.


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Humans on the verge of causing Earth’s fastest climate change in 50m years
Posted on 17 April 2017 by dana1981

A new study published in Nature Communications looks at changes in solar activityand carbon dioxide levels over the past 420 million years. The authors found that on our current path, by mid-century humans will be causing the fastest climate change in approximately 50 million years, and if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest change in the entire 420 million year record.

Changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and in the combined solar and carbon dioxide forcing over the past 420 million years. Illustration: Foster et al. (2017); Nature Communications.

The study relates to a scientific conundrum known as the “faint young sun paradox” – that early in Earth’s history, solar output was 30% less intense than it is today, and yet the planet was warm enough to have a liquid ocean. A stronger greenhouse effect due to higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be one explanation.

Over time, solar output has grown stronger, and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have fallen due to an effect known as “weathering” of rocks and an increase in plant life. The authors of this study found that over the past 420 million years, the slow heatingof the sun and slow decline of the greenhouse effecthave roughly offset each other, leading to a fairly stable long-term global climate.

Changes in the solar and carbon dioxide forcings over the past 420 million years. Illustration: Foster et al. (2017); Nature Communications.

In particular, as shown in the first chart above, Earth’s climate has been fairly stable over the past several million years. The wiggles in the blue line represent transitions in and out of ice ages, due to wobbles in the Earth’s orbit around the sun, amplified by changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere(these are known as Milankovich cycles).

The bottom frame in the chart shows the change in forcing (global energy imbalance) caused by the combination of changes in solar activity and thegreenhouse effect. When the line is flat, the Earth’senergy balance is stable, and thus so is its climate. When there’s a steep change, something is upsetting that balance and causing a rapid climate change. The five colored lines toward the end of the chart show potential pathways we’ll follow, depending on how much fossil fuels humans burn over the coming decades.
In every case the line is already quite steep due to the hundreds of billions of tons of carbon pollution humans have dumped into the atmosphere thus far. The size of the global energy imbalance we’ve caused is already on par with those previous blue wiggles – Earth’s ice age transitions. If we keep burning lots of fossil fuels, we could soon cause higher carbon dioxide levels and faster climate change than the Earth has seen in 50 million years. If we burn all available fossil fuel reserves (the black “Wink12k” line), we’ll see faster climate change than in the entire 420 million year record.

It’s an alarming proposition. Climate deniers will often argue against taking action to curb carbon pollution because climate changed naturally in the past and carbon dioxide levels were higher in the past. One Republican congressman repeated these talking points in the latest House “Science” committee hearing. While both arguments are technically true, they miss several important points.

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Solar Forcing and Climate Change
Published by Steven Novella under Skepticism

A recent article in Principia Scientific International summarizes 20 recent studies showing that solar activity correlates with long term trends in climate change. This is an excellent example of how misinformation campaigns meant to sow doubt and confusion work.

First, we need to consider the source. PSI is not a scientific organization or publication, it is a propaganda front group trying to appear as a scientific organization. This is very common – giving an organization a neutral sounding scientific name that does not reflect its true agenda.

PSI claims, completely contrary to the scientific consensus, that CO2 is not even a greenhouse gas. They actually argue that it causes no warming at all, and in fact may have a cooling effect on the environment. They further argue that wind turbines cause illness, a claim that is demonstrably false.

To put their scientific credibility into perspective, they also maintain that:

Educated parents can either get their children out of harm’s way or continue living inside one of the largest most evil lies in history, that vaccines – full of heavy metals, viral diseases, mycoplasma, fecal material, DNA fragments from other species, formaldehyde, polysorbate 80 (a sterilizing agent) – are a miracle of modern medicine.

They claim vaccines don’t even work and are just full of “toxins” – what we call, “The toxin gambit.”

Right about now readers who might be sympathetic to the PSI’s point of view might think I am trying to poison the well. That is only a fallacy, however, when you make or imply connections that are not relevant. PSIs credibility is absolutely relevant – they are curating information for a specific propaganda purpose. They are not a reliable source of scientific information.

Solar Forcing

Regardless of the source, what about the 20 papers themselves? What these studies show is that, over a period of centuries, solar activity correlates with average climate temperature. This effect is known as solar forcing and it is not controversial. No one doubts that the total solar irradiance (TSI) affects the Earth’s temperature.

The temperature of the Earth is essentially determined by the equilibrium point at which TSI is balanced by longwave radiation from the top of the troposphere – energy in has to be balanced by energy out. So essentially the Earth warms until the total radiation out balances the radiation in and equilibrium is achieved.

So obviously TSI affects this equilibrium, but so too does radiation out, which is affected by the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases trap longwave radiation, so the temperature has to rise higher before reaching an equilibrium point. The more greenhouse gases there are, the higher the temperature has to be at equilibrium.

Interestingly, over the last 450 million years the TSI has be slowly increases (which is a function of stellar evolution). At the same time total CO2 in the atmosphere has been decreasing because of various negative feedback loops, keeping the Earth’s climate relatively stable.

So, getting back to the PSI article, there is nothing new or controversial over the notion of solar forcing. The question is – how much of a role is solar forcing playing in the recent warming we have been seeing? Scientists have thoroughly investigated that question and the evidence shows that it is minimal. Solar forcing is having only a tiny effect, and cannot explain the recent warming.

Meanwhile, the long term trend of slowly decreasing CO2 content in the atmosphere has been reversed since the industrial revolution with a dramatic increase in CO2.

What the PSI paper shows, however, is how easy it is to sow confusion with selective information. If you do a Google search on solar forcing you will find many climate change denying websites quoting the PSI paper as a source.

This is a common strategy – pile up a bunch of references to make it seem as if there is a compelling case, meanwhile the references are cherry picked, misrepresented, or taken out of context. None of the papers cited call into question the conclusion that recent forcing is due to CO2, or establish that solar forcing can explain a significant portion of recent warming.


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Bad news for climate contrarians – 'the best data we have' just got hotter
Posted on 3 July 2017 by John Abraham

A new paper just published in the Journal of Climate is a stunning setback for the darling of cherry-picking for contrarian scientists and elected officials. Let’s walk though this so we appreciate the impact.

The vast majority of scientists know that the climate is changing, humans are the main reason, and there are going to be severe consequences. We have decades of measurements that prove our understanding of this process. There is simply no debate or dispute.

Despite this, there are a shrinking number of contrarian scientists, elected officials, and industry representatives that have spent endless time trying to downplay the impact. They have variously argued that the climate isn’t changing, that the changes won’t be very much, or that there are no viable solutions to the problem. Much of their position relies upon finding evidence that the current observations of warming are not great. That is, the Earth is not warming as fast as predictions.

To support this incorrect (and intellectually dishonest) position, contrarians have scoured the data for any evidence at all that suggests the Earth is not warming. They have skipped oceans (which account for 93% of the warming). They skip the Earth’s surface temperature, ignore ice loss, ignore sea level rise, and in fact ignore everything except some select regions of the atmosphere. Their fallback position is that since a part of the atmosphere seems not to be warming very fast, this means the Earth isn’t warming or that climate models cannot be trusted. I know I know, this sounds dumb, and it is. But it is their current argument.

But let’s pretend we are contrarians and let’s ignore the entirety of the Earth system except for this very small part. Do they have a point? There has been a lot of dispute about exactly how fast these atmospheric temperatures have been rising. Measurements are best made by weather balloons or by satellites. The satellites are convenient because they orbit the Earth quickly and can gather lots of information that is quite uniform across the globe. But satellites have their problems.

First, they are not stable. They drift in altitude and their orbits drift horizontally. As a consequence, satellite users have to correct their data to make sure these drifts don’t give a false impression of heating or cooling. The satellites also have other issues. For instance, they have to be calibrated and they have to be stable in time. You want to ensure the temperature sensors don’t change during the satellite’s lifetime. You want to make sure that you know the location where the measurements are taken.

In reality, the satellites make smeared measurements over a vertical column in the atmosphere. Part of that column is the lower level (called the troposphere). Another part is higher in altitude (called the stratosphere). The area of concern for this study is the troposphere (in fact the lower troposphere). But, if your smearing isn’t processed correctly, you may be measuring the stratosphere and think it is the troposphere (or vice versa). We call that potential “contamination.”

In short, you have to be really careful about satellite measurements, there is a lot of uncertainty. Despite this, contrarians have tried to tell us that satellites are better than thermometers, better than models, better than anything at measuring climate change.

One of the groups that has promoted satellite measurements, and downplayed climate change is from the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). In the past, they have falsely claimed that the atmosphere was cooling (it wasn’t, they had made a mistake). Over the years, people have found multiple errors in their work and data, and it seems every time an error was discovered, the satellites we revised warmer and in better agreement with thermometers and climate models. To counter the UAH group, another institution began processing satellite data (Remote Sensing Systems, RSS). The RSSgroup has been very helpful over the years finding and correcting errors in the UAH data.

RSS was responsible for this new publication. In updating their analysis, they find that prior to about 2000, the old and new analysis were very close to each other. However after that, the improved analysis shows a much more rapid warming. Just in the time period for the so-called “hiatus” – the temporary slowdown in surface and lower atmospheric warming that’s now ended. Compare the red (new) analysis to the grey (old) in the image below.

Comparison of new (red) and old (grey) RSS lower troposphere temperature analysis. Illustration: Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief.

Not only that, but the improved analysis shows that the atmospheric (lower troposphere) temperatures are warming faster than the Earth’s surface.

Comparison of NASA surface temperatures with RSS satellite temperatures. Illustration: Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief.

This means that the results from satellites are now in-line with all the other signals from the climate. This is an incredibly consistent pattern.

But what about those contrarians? Are there other data that contradict the current results? Yes, as seen in the third image, below. The image shows that the RSS and UAH data agree pretty well until around 2000. After that, the UAH data nearly flatlines but the RSSdata continues warming.

Comparison of lower troposphere temperature estimates from satellite data from two groups (RSS and UAH) showing a disagreement starting around the year 2000. Illustration: Zeke Hausfather, Carbon Brief.

So what are the corrections made by the RSS team? As I mentioned earlier, the orbits of the satellites change over time which means that locations where measurements are made at a given time of the day change (it drifts). To account for these changes, RSSused a combination of satellite comparisons, climate models, and something called climate reanalysis to estimate changes in the temperature with time. They included measurements from other instruments as a check, such as weather balloons. RSS also identified bad data – when multiple measurements were made and one of the measurements disagreed substantially with the others, it was suspect. They also caught a calibration error that lead to changes in warming rate.

For those who only follow climate science on the periphery, they may have heard phrases like “global warming stopped 15 years ago,” “climate models got it wrong,” “we don’t really know if it is warming,” etc. There is now no reason whatsoever to believe these claims. We who work in the field knew these assertions were baseless, but now hopefully the people making them will retract.

This study also shows how science works.

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