Volcanoes + computer models = Little Ice Age (not the Sun, stupid)


Still irrelevant

As soon as it becomes clear that the Sun has more to do with climate change than anything our puny civilisation can throw at it, the wheels will finally come of the global warming gravy train. So it is little wonder that those with snouts in the trough will do anything to play down the effect of the Sun to ensure that man-made CO2 becomes the only “control knob” on the climate system.

Just as “we must get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”, now we have “we must get rid of the Little Ice Age”. And finally, they’ve worked out how: blame volcanoes (with a little help from a computer model, naturally):

The Little Ice Age was caused by the cooling effect of massive volcanic eruptions, and sustained by changes in Arctic ice cover, scientists conclude. [Note that Black says “was caused by” not “may have been caused by” – clearly no doubt here – Ed]

An international research team studied ancient plants from Iceland and Canada, and sediments carried by glaciers.

They say a series of eruptions just before 1300 lowered Arctic temperatures enough for ice sheets to expand.

Writing in Geophysical Research Letters, they say this would have kept the Earth cool for centuries.

The exact definition of the Little Ice Age is disputed [not to mention its very existence by some, like Michael Mann – Ed]. While many studies suggest temperatures fell globally in the 1500s, others suggest the Arctic and sub-Arctic began cooling several centuries previously.

The global dip in temperatures was less than 1C, but parts of Europe cooled more, particularly in winter, with the River Thames in London iced thickly enough to be traversable on foot.

What caused it has been uncertain. The new study, led by Gifford Miller at the University of Colorado at Boulder, US, links back to a series of four explosive volcanic eruptions between about 1250 and 1300 in the tropics, which would have blasted huge clouds of sulphate particles into the upper atmosphere.

But here’s the clincher:

Aerosols from volcanic eruptions usually cool the climate for just a few years.

When the researchers plugged in the sequence of eruptions into a computer model of climate, they found that the short but intense burst of cooling was enough to initiate growth of summer ice sheets around the Arctic Ocean, as well as glaciers.

The extra ice in turn reflected more solar radiation back into space, and weakened the Atlantic ocean circulation commonly known as the Gulf Stream.

“It’s easy to calculate how much colder you could get with volcanoes; but that has no permanence, the skies soon clear,” Dr Miller told BBC News.

“And it was climate modelling that showed how sea ice exports into the North Atlantic set up this self-sustaining feedback process, and that’s how a perturbation of decades can result in a climate shift of centuries.” (source)

When you see the phrase “plugged into a computer model” you know what you’re dealing with.

But “phew” at least for now. What a relief. The headbangers can go on ignoring the Sun and collecting the funding. For now…

"Sea cucumber poo" helps fight climate change


There's a sea cucumber pooping in this photo somewhere

From the You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up Department. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the award for Most Bizarre Thing To Allegedly Help Climate Change goes to:

Tropical sea cucumbers and their faeces could save coral reefs from the harmful impacts of climate change, scientists have found.

Scientists at One Tree Island, the University of Sydney’s research station on the Great Barrier Reef, say sea cucumbers reduce the impact of ocean acidification on coral growth.

“When they ingest sand, the natural digestive processes in the sea cucumber’s gut increases the pH levels of the water on the reef where they defecate,” Tree Island director professor Maria Byrne said. (source)

Look, I know they’re trying to be nice here by giving the sea cucumber some credit in all of this, but really, the sea cucumber doesn’t do anything except crimp off a few lengths now and again. It’s the shit that does the job. Bravo.

Geriatric wheat caused by climate change


She's only 21. Damn you AGW.

Naturally, all the solar schmolar stuff discussed here earlier today is completely ignored by Your ABC, which instead picks on an alarmist research paper about premature ageing in wheat:

Extreme heat can cause wheat crops to age faster and reduce yields, a US-led study shows, underscoring the challenge of feeding a rapidly growing population as the world warms.

Scientists and farmers have long known that high heat can hurt some crops. Now a study led by Stanford University reveals how the damage is done by tracking rates of wheat ageing, or senescence.

Depending on the sowing date, the grain losses from rapid senescence could reach up to 20 per cent, the scientists found in the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change [abstract here].

Lead author David Lobell and his colleagues studied nine years of satellite measurements of wheat growth from northern India, tracking the impact of exposure to temperatures greater than 34°C to measure rates of senescence.

They detected a significant acceleration of ageing that reduced the grain-filling period. The onset of senescence imposes a limit on the time for the plant to fill the grain head.

“What’s new here is better understanding of one particular mechanism that causes heat to hurt yields,” says Lobell. He says that while there had been some experiments showing accelerated ageing above 34°C, relatively few studies considered temperatures this high.

“We decided to see if these senescence effects are actually occurring in farmers’ fields, and if so whether they are big enough to matter. On both counts, the answer is yes.”

Climate scientists say that episodes of extreme heat are becoming more frequent and more prevalent across the globe, presenting huge challenges for growing crops. (source)

Lobell has been reported frequently in the past on the same subject of decline in wheat yields arising from climate change, and not everyone is convinced by the link Lobell claims:

While the paper [an earlier paper covering similar ground in Science in May 2011] is “an interesting contribution to the discussion,” says John Reilly, an agricultural and energy economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, its conclusions are “not compelling.” Many caveats and uncontrollable factors—including the price of crops, the latitude at which they are planted, and specific advances in technology—could contribute to the changes in trend that the authors see, weakening their link between yields and warming. “It’s a careful set of work, but it’s just a hard area to work in,” Reilly says.

Reilly points out that IPCC predicts an increase, not a decrease, in global crop production, as more CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial for plant growth. But Lobell says his analysis suggests that any advantage this CO2boost confers is already being pushed to its limit, because warming itself harms crops. (source)

More research needed, perhaps?

UPDATE: The ABC does cover a couple of climate stories today, interestingly the Wall Street Journal letter reported here. The ABC firstly smears the WSJ as “Murdoch-owned” just to set the scene, and after interviewing William Kininmonth (a meteorologist) wheels out who else but Tim Flannery (a mammalogist) to complain that the letter is signed by some who aren’t climate scientists. Oh the irony. Flannery flannels on about Republicans and fails to address any of the substantive issues. Read the transcript here.

And just in case that was a little too “sceptic-friendly” Auntie then rolls on, without pausing for breath, into a decent Green-friendly alarmist story here. The transcript fails to mention that the dominant cause of the issue in question is changes in wind patterns arising from loss of ozone, but the ABC and CSIRO pin it firmly on man-made greenhouse gases. How convenient. I have an email in to the authors of this study asking for some clarifications. I wonder if I’ll get an answer…

"The Cold Sun"


"The Cold Sun"

The Sun will be playing a “starring” role in the climate over the next few decades, if predictions of a forthcoming solar decline are proved correct. This is going to be a very interesting time for all sides of the climate debate, because when the Sun decides to take it easy for a few years, it will, with luck, demonstrate clearly the magnitude of the effect the our nearest star has on our terrestrial climate, and how it compares to that of man-made greenhouse gases.

As we have seen, the AGW consensus team (“The Cause”) like to assure us at every turn that the only mechanism by which the Sun can alter the climate is by means of changes in solar irradiance. Earlier this week, the Met Office insisted that a predicted reduction in solar output over the next few years would be too small to offset greenhouse gas warming.

IPCC AR4 dismisses solar irradiance changes as too small to have any significant effect on our climate, but at the same time rates understanding of indirect solar effects as “very low”. Despite this, AR4 was still able to claim that “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations” (Summary for Policymakers, p10).

How the IPCC could have made that leap of faith is a matter of political expediency rather than scientific certainty. But that’s the IPCC for you – a political organisation making political statements.

Svensmark and Calder’s “The Chilling Stars” (Amazon link) set the scene for novel mechanisms by which the Sun could modulate the Earth’s climate, apart from the traditional method of changes in solar irradiance. The most prevalent of these is modulation of cosmic rays via solar wind.

Put simply, increasing solar wind from an active Sun shield the planet from galactic cosmic rays (GCR), resulting in a reduction in cloud cover and consequent increase in global temperature. Conversely, when the Sun is dormant, the reduced solar wind allows more GCR, which act as cloud formation nuclei, thereby increasing cloud cover and reducing global temperature.

Recent experiments at the CLOUD facility have confirmed that the mechanism appears to have a basis in science.

Now we have articles appearing which indicate that Solar Cycle 25 could be the smallest in 300 years. If this were indeed the case, we could be looking at a “Grand Minimum” like the famous Maunder Minimum in the 17th century, during which the River Thames regularly froze and fairs were held on its icy expanses.

And from No Tricks Zone in Germany, news that a prominent environmentalist, Fritz Vahrenholt, has abandoned the faith and is predicting global cooling:

Fritz Vahrenholt wrote one of the standard books for the environmental protection movement, was the most well-known green-type social democrat, and today leads a company that is investing billions in renewable energy. But now not even he believes any longer in the forecasts of the IPCC and the Potsdam Institute concerning climate warming. More on that in tomorrow’s FOCUS (only in the print edition, not online). Also there is an interview with physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, who feels global cooling is far more problematic than a warming.”

Vahrenholt has written a book, Die kalte Sonne, The Cold Sun, which Amazon.de describes thus:

The IPCC is certain: global warming is man-inflicted. But are the infamous greenhouse gases indeed primarily responsible for our climate? And why is it not warmer? Vahrenholt and Lüninghave in the course of their studies intensively engaged with the different climate models. They come to the conclusion that global warming over the past 150 years is part of a natural cycle that is characterised primarily by the sun. The next decades will likely lead to a slight cooling rather than further heating. This provides time to develop renewable energy sources focused and make this change in an economically rational and sustainable manner.

Let’s hope for an English version sometime soon.

One thing is certain – if there is a solar decline as predicted and temperatures are unmoved as a result, we must accept that it is therefore more likely that the GHGs were the dominant cause of the modern warming. However, if temperatures fall significantly, then The Cause will have some serious thinking to do.

Green subsidies axed to ease Spain's financial crisis


¿Qué?

If you were advising the Spanish government on how to get out of the financial hole they are in, I guess you would say, what is the largest, most pointless waste of money right now? And the answer is:

Spain halted subsidies for renewable energy projects to help curb its budget deficit and rein in power-system borrowings backed by the state that reached 24 billion euros ($31 billion) at the end of 2011. 

“What is today an energy problem could become a financial problem,” Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria said in Madrid. The government passed a decree today stopping subsidies for new wind, solar, co-generation or waste incineration plants.

The system’s debts were racked up as revenue from state-controlled prices failed to cover the cost of delivering power. Costs have swollen in the past five years because of an increase in regulated payments for the power grid, support for Spanish coal mines and subsidies for renewable energy plants.

“It’s clear they have to make major cuts,” said Francisco Salvador, a strategist at FGA/MG Valores in Madrid. “The government has already ruled out a significant increase in prices, so the cuts will fall in many places and the spotlight is on renewables, but not just on renewables.” (source, via GWPF)

When the patatas fritas are down, expensive, unreliable and inefficient “renewable” energy subsidies are the first to get the chop.

Forget global warming – it's global cooling we should worry about


Global cooling ahead?

For some time now, the indications have been that solar activity and sunspot number are heading towards a minimum in the next few decades. Will it be a Dalton-style or a Maunder-style minimum? If the latter, we should be looking forward to significant cooling.

We reported on a recent press release from the Met Office a few days ago (Solar decline “unlikely to offset greenhouse warming”: Met Office), where the warmist spin was that reductions in solar irradiance were insignificant and would not halt CO2-induced global warming.

And yes, if you put on your AGW-blinkers, forget 90% of the science of solar physics, focus only on solar irradiance and ignore the plethora of indirect effects on the climate which are related to the Sun, that’s probably correct.

But now others are speaking out on this narrow interpretation:

The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

Notice how the data were released “without fanfare”, and consider how the data would have been released if they showed continued warming [here’s a clue, it would have been shouted from the rooftops]. As usual, inconvenient data is slipped out to avoid anyone noticing.

Meanwhile, leading climate scientists yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food.

Because cooling is really bad news compared to a gentle warming. So be careful what you wish for…

Solar output goes through 11-year cycles, with high numbers of sunspots seen at their peak.

We are now at what should be the peak of what scientists call ‘Cycle 24’ – which is why last week’s solar storm resulted in sightings of the aurora borealis further south than usual. But sunspot numbers are running at less than half those seen during cycle peaks in the 20th Century.

Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona – derived from magnetic-field measurements 120,000 miles beneath the sun’s surface – suggest that Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be a great deal weaker still. 

According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a  92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

Yet, in its paper, the Met Office claimed that the consequences now would be negligible – because the impact of the sun on climate is far less than man-made carbon dioxide. Although the sun’s output is likely to decrease until 2100, ‘This would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08C.’ Peter Stott, one of the authors, said: ‘Our findings suggest  a reduction of solar activity to levels not seen in hundreds of years would be insufficient to offset the dominant influence of greenhouse gases.’

These findings are fiercely disputed by other solar experts.

‘World temperatures may end up a lot cooler than now for 50 years or more,’ said Henrik Svensmark, director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at Denmark’s National Space Institute. ‘It will take a long battle to convince some climate scientists that the sun is important. It may well be that the sun is going to demonstrate this on its own, without the need for their help.’

Indeed so. Thanks to the Sun’s likely forthcoming decrease in output, we will have a real-world experiment to observe, which may finally reveal the level of influence our nearest star really has on our climate.

Read the rest here.

NASA captures Cyclone Iggy


Cyclone Iggy (click for full size)

ScienceDaily (Jan. 27, 2012) —

NASA satellites are providing valuable data to forecasters as Tropical Cyclone Iggy nears Western Australia. NASA’s Aqua satellite provided visible and infrared data on Iggy, observing colder cloud tops and strengthening storm. Iggy has already triggered warnings and watches along coastal areas.

Meteorology (ABM) has issued a Cyclone Warning for coastal areas from Mardie to Ningaloo including Exmouth and Onslow. ABM has also issued a Cyclone Watch east to Port Hedland and south to Coral Bay. In addition, a Blue Alert has been posted for “People in or near coastal and island communities between Mardie and Coral Bay including the communities of Mardie, Onslow, Exmouth and Coral Bay need to prepare for cyclonic weather.”

Because of low wind shear and warm waters, Iggy is expected to continue strengthening on its approach to the Australian coastline. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast as of January 27 takes the center of Iggy’s center very close to Learmouth on January 30 and 31 before turning to the southwest and heading back to sea.

Read it here.

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