AR4 comments now available

G points out that the IPCC AR4 comments are now available. Presumably due to JA’s efforts :-).

A quick browse didn’t throw up anything funny (the Courntey bit is pathetic rather than funny).

I made a minor comment to the historical review section, commenting that “Reference to Hawking unneeded: original cite to Einstein enough” (I told you it was minor) which was “accepted”. But then the next comment in line is “Reference to Hawking is inappropriate…” which is “rejected”. Weird.


A weird one. Planktos is a for-profit company that appears to intend to sequestrate CO2 by causing algal blooms. Anyone with more info on this is invited to comment.

And they will sell you CO2 offsets. For example: The average international flight is 9-20 hours long and produces 2 tons of CO2 per passenger. 4 tons of CO2 equivalents will be retired on your behalf to negate 100% of your carbon footprint for this return flight is only $20. How can the average flight be 9-20 hours long and yet produce exactly 2 tons?

But more importantly, why should you believe that they ar doing anything to earn this money? They say At sea, Planktos uses a process called iron replenishment to restore declining plankton growth in the open seas. We revive plankton populations by adding iron dust to the ocean. Iron is a critical micronutrient needed by plankton for photosynthesis. It normally reaches the oceans in wind-borne iron-rich dust from arid lands, but that dust supply has fallen 30% over the past 30 years, resulting in a 10% decline in plankton populations since the late 1970s. Extensive research projects have shown that adding tiny amounts of iron can powerfully regenerate plankton growth. Stimulating plankton blooms not only captures global warming CO2, but also restores ocean ecosystems, as plankton is the base of the food chain. but are rather short on any details: who says iron dust has fallen? how much extra plankton has planktos created? how much CO2 has that sequestered? has anyone verified this? And so on… But perhaps In 2007, Planktos will begin plankton restoration… is the answer: they haven’t actually started yet.

Their science page is a bit thin on science. But the share price seems to be doing OK (no this is not a plug). But will it survive the EPA declaring it illegal?. More from ETC.

Doing this commercially seems to be wildly premature: both because we dont know if it will work (so how can you sell credits, apart from the obvious answer of “anyone can sell credits to anyone dumb enough to buy them”) and we don’t know it won’t have unplesant side-effects.

[Update: the SOLASS statement is worth reading: …Given our present lack of knowledge, the judgement of the SOLAS SSC is that ocean fertilisation will be ineffective and potentially deleterious, and should not be used as a strategy for offsetting CO2 emissions… -W]

[Update: silly me: RC did this a while ago -W]

How unusual was autumn 2006 in Europe?

Gosh this is fun… you wait ages for a paper on a warm event and then 2 come along together :-).

Anyway, thanks to FB for pointing out How unusual was autumn 2006 in Europe? in Climate of the Past. This is almost but not quite the same thing as the 2003 event so I had all the code ready and submitted a little comment. Since its on-line open access you can see it, just click on the interactive discussion.

Looking in the Chase et al. style hemispheric context, 2006 doesn’t look so unusual, even when looking at T1.5m.

Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context?

Asks RP Sr’s paper in GRL (or rather, ask Thomas N. Chase, Klaus Wolter, Roger A. Pielke Sr and Ichtiaque Rasool). Interestingly, they conclude “not really”. This of course is contrary to what everyone knows, so their paper has been ignored, to RP’s annoyance. And if I had demonstrasted conclusively that a well known thing was wrong, and everyone just steamed ahead and ignored this inconventient fact, I’d be annoyed too. But has he indeed demonstrated this?

I thought I’d have a closer look at the data.
Continue reading “Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context?”

Wot Klaus thinks!

We now know what Vaclav Klaus thinks. And the answer is… some very stupid things. On the “science”, he says No in answer to “If it is a reality, is it man-made?” and “if it is a reality, is it a problem?”. This is explicit enough. Unfortunately the very next question reveals the weakness of his understanding, as he fails to grasp the difference between climate and weather (see this, thisand this).

Next Q is “Why do you disbelieve the science when every serious national scientific establishment appears to support it?” to which his answer is “I do not disbelieve the science, but I see a big difference between science and “national scientific establishments”. Which is an evasion, or a lie, depending on how you look at it. There are large piles of papers out there attributing warming to human activity; and saying that T will go up if we keep on. VK’s gives no reason at all for disbelieving all that (unless he is suggesting that because lots of people believe it, it must be wrong? I don’t think so). And then he recommends Singers book. Oh dear.

Overall: nothing very interesting; std.septic_tripe. We do at least know he doesn’t believe humans have contributed to the warming; but he has ducked out of any kind of estimates of future change; and he has presented no reasons at all for why he thinks any of his nonsense. Perhaps Lubos really is running his mind.

The Earth today stands in imminent peril?

Not quite “we’re all going to die” again, but close. But this time by James Hansen, and published in Proceedings of the Royal Society.There is an the Indescribably-over-hypeded write up of it. Featuring:

nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change. Those are not the words of eco-warriors but the considered opinion of a group of eminent scientists writing in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Continue reading “The Earth today stands in imminent peril?”

Piers Corbyn

Prompted by a fight at wikipedia over whether PC is an astrophysicist, a meterologist, a meterological consultant, or something else, I looked at “weather action”s website for his proofs of success (ah, for those who don’t know, PC claims to predict UK weather a year or so in advance via a “solar weather” technique whose details are obscure, since he won’t publish them. The solar-weather link is unclear, as indeed is his method of predicting solar a year in advance. It makes him inclined to disbelieve CO2-GW (since its all solar, guv) and he got into TGGWS confusing weather and climate).

And I find: Forecasts with proven skill. The betting I can’t verify; the Wheeler paper (JASTP, 2001, p28-34) I can read (according to WoK, its never been cited). It is full of caveats: firstly that forecasts are intrinsically hard to verify; second that due to ambiguities the only thing verified was a yes/no to a gale anywhere in the lowland UK. So PC’s first point (predicting major storm, flood or freezing) is wrong: it was only gales that were looked at. OTOH the four most notable storms were predicted, and the 5th was missed by 48h (PC counts this as “predicted” and the paper includes it).

The main result of the paper is a table of probabilities for the chances of the forecast being better than chance. This is complicated by the strong annual cycle in the data: there are very few gales in summer. So the measure of “skill” they use includes a credit for forecasting no gale, and no gale occurring: but this is a trivial task for the summer months. The result is (to my eye) a slightly strange set of probabilities of being achieveing these results by chance: 0.0001 for all-year; 0.008 for excluding summer; and 0.19 for winter (October to March). Which is to say, not statistically significant (by the usual 5% test) for winter; but highly significant for all-year. I rather suspect that this may be an artefact of the statistics, but I can’t be sure (should the results really vary that much for period-considered?).

The paper concludes “The results provide little evidence to dismiss the observed success rates as being attributable to mere chance…”. But of course thats exactly what people continue to do, for a variety of reasons: mostly the mistrust of the technique (as being largely unknown, and implausible in the bits that are known); partly reluctance to accept an outsider; partly (I guess) being suspicious of the statistics used (in the paper, not by PC). Its a bit of a shame more verification isn’t done; there may be reluctance on both sides.


Nature has a brief report on a PNAS paper, “Transient climate-carbon simulations of planetary geoengineering” by H. Damon Matthews and Ken Caldeira. BTW, before I get going, look at the sidebar on the right of PNAS – there is a “google scolar” search link built in. The abstract is:

Geoengineering (the intentional modification of Earth’s climate) has been proposed as a means of reducing CO2-induced climate warming while greenhouse gas emissions continue. Most proposals involve managing incoming solar radiation such that future greenhouse gas forcing is counteracted by reduced solar forcing. In this study, we assess the transient climate response to geoengineering under a business-as-usual CO2 emissions scenario by using an intermediate-complexity global climate model that includes an interactive carbon cycle. We find that the climate system responds quickly to artificially reduced insolation; hence, there may be little cost to delaying the deployment of geoengineering strategies until such a time as “dangerous” climate change is imminent. Spatial temperature patterns in the geoengineered simulation are comparable with preindustrial temperatures, although this is not true for precipitation. Carbon sinks in the model increase in response to geoengineering. Because geoengineering acts to mask climate warming, there is a direct CO2-driven increase in carbon uptake without an offsetting temperature-driven suppression of carbon sinks. However, this strengthening of carbon sinks, combined with the potential for rapid climate adjustment to changes in solar forcing, leads to serious consequences should geoengineering fail or be stopped abruptly. Such a scenario could lead to very rapid climate change, with warming rates up to 20 times greater than present-day rates. This warming rebound would be larger and more sustained should climate sensitivity prove to be higher than expected. Thus, employing geoengineering schemes with continued carbon emissions could lead to severe risks for the global climate system.

Nature picked out the bit about precip: it gets drier. The commentary explains this: more CO2 but constant T means more efficient veg use so lower evap so lower (tropical?) ppn. But the commentary also points out that this may only be a model effect.

As for the rest, its fairly obvious: put in stratospheric aerosols and you can reduce T. This isn’t the first paper to do this (though its the first one I’ve noticed); it claims to be the first to do it in a transient rather than 2*CO2 model; but its only an EMIC. And in fact they don’t “put in aerosols”; they just reduce incoming solar to match CO2 forcing. The T response (fig 1) is then fairly small tropical cooling and polar warming. The other “exciting” but bleedin’ obvious result is that if the geoengineering fails then it gets warmer very quickly.

I should probably add… one of the problems with these schemes is to achieve a global balance. For example, there was a scheme to increase the albedo of marine stratocumulus regions. Fine, but if done enough to keep *global* T constant it would have caused massive local decreases whilst allowing massive polar warming. This paper is “cheating” by allowing themselves to do it trivially globally.

Overall: interesting to see people doing this as a thought experiment. Needs a lot of refinement to be more realistic. Would be scary if done in reality.