Paleoclimatologist Michael Mann has just released a paper discussing a slowdown in the North Atlantic Current, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation.  If you haven’t seen that video and post yet, go here.
Historically, scientists believe that a complete shutdown of that current happened about 12000 years ago, as the earth was coming out of the last glacial period, plunging a large part of the northern hemisphere back into ice-age like conditions, for most of a thousand years.
The movie “The Day After Tomorrow” was based on an exageratted, dramatized idea of what might happen if global warming caused a similar shutdown in the modern day.
As part of a wide ranging interview on the new paper, I asked Mike Mann to put the Younger Dryas in context of current conditions.

Below, ice core temperature proxies show the Younger Dryas in the paleo record. (NOAA)

Climate changes associated with the Younger Dryas, highlighted here by the light blue bar, include (from top to bottom): cooling and decreased snow accumulation in Greenland, cooling in the tropical Cariaco Basin, and warming in Antarctica. Also shown is the flux of meltwater from the Laurentide Ice Sheet down the St. Lawrence River. Sources: Alley (2000), Lea et al. (2003), EPICA (2004), Licciardi et al. (1999).

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Above, Senator Lindsay Graham blames Al Gore for Climate denial. Then asks if anyone knows what the Republican program on environment is, because he doesn’t.

Oh, but we do.

Christian Science Monitor:

Staking a position on climate change is a dilemma facing many GOP presidential hopefuls. The party lacks a coherent message on the issue, which is increasingly important to the US electorate. While Republicans have been clear and aggressive in pursuing energy policies that foster domestic oil and gas production, the party has been less uniform about how – or even if – emissions from those sources should be curtailed. The majority of voters – and, critically for Cruz, most Republicans – back government action to curb global warming, according to a January New York Times poll.

“I think there will be a political problem for the Republican Party going into 2016 if we don’t define what we are for on the environment,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina, who has worked on climate legislation with Democrats, told Roll Call in November. “I don’t know what the environmental policy of the Republican Party is.”

Though he voted for an amendment in January stating climate change is real, Mr. Cruz has repeatedly questioned the role humans play in it. Cruz has said global warming is not supported by data, despite scientific consensus to the contrary. And though questioning climate science polls poorly with the general electorate – only 27 percent were more likely to vote for a candidate staking such a position – the New York Times poll found 49 percent of Tea Party voters were more likely to pick a candidate who avoids taking a stand on climate change.

In other words: “It recruits more Tea Partyers than it repels,” Jon Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and author of the survey, told the New York Times.

UPDATE: John Stewart’s take on Ted Cruz announcement – poor quality vid, but still funny.

Skiing on Dirt in Tahoe

March 24, 2015

The first major Republican Presidential candidate for this election cycle is Senator Ted Cruz, who has made his disdain for climate science and science in general well known. Recently, Senator Cruz opined that snow and ice in New Hampshire disproved the last 300 years of physics.

Above, Governor Jerry Brown of California points out that this kind of insanity, would, in a more rational world, render one unfit to be considered for public office.

Perhaps that’s because Governor Brown has a front row seat on one of Climate Change’s emerging Greatest Hits – the California drought.  Here’s some pathetic pics of some very, very determined skiers at Lake Tahoe.

tahoedirtBusiness Insider:

Thanks to California’s historic four-year drought and hottest winter ever, many Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts have been forced to close early this year.

With little snowfall and over 60-degree temperatures, the few resorts that remain open have little snow left for skiers.

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coal_lossCoal Fighter Leslie Glustrom sends me the  powerpoint slide above.


Climate change could have a “huge impact” on China, reducing crop yields and harming the environment, the country’s top weather scientist has warned, in a rare official admission.

Zheng Guogang told Xinhua news agency that climate change could be a “serious threat” to big infrastructure projects.

Mr Zheng, the head of China’s meteorological administration, said warming temperatures exposed his country to a growing “risk of climate change and climate disasters”.

He said temperature rises in China had already been higher than the global average for the past century.

These are rare admissions from a Chinese official, BBC Asia analyst Michael Bristow says.

China’s leaders have acknowledged the damage from global warming but they usually do not lay out the full scale of the problems.


Perhaps I should cross my fingers before writing this, but it just may be that we have slipped, virtually without noticing, past a landmark in environmental and industrial history. Preliminary figures suggest that last year, for the first time, global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels failed to rise despite economic growth. Even more surprisingly, emissions seem to have fallen in China. Read the rest of this entry »

A reader pointed me to this brief (10 minute) but very informative video from Maryland Sea Grant at the University of Maryland.

If you watched the new video about the slowing of the North Atlantic Circulation, then you’ll be primed to take in this multi-dimensional view of factors influencing sea level rise in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region. Turns out there are a number of counter-intuitive factors that are going to make for devastating rise in these regions, as soon as mid century.


In 2013, scientists released new projections for future sea level rise for the Chesapeake Bay and for Maryland, Virginia and nearby Mid-Atlantic coastal areas. In these regions, sea levels are rising faster than the global average, the result of subsiding lands, a slowing Gulf Stream and melting land ice in Antarctica.

The disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow” was based on long term scientific concerns about global warming’s impact on the North Atlantic Current, also called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, – what most people think of as “The Gulf Stream” – although that is a simplification.
The movie was obviously over the top in terms of the projected impacts, but after a decade in which science has downplayed the possibility of such an event, a new paper shows that the circulation is indeed slowing down.
This could signal potential impacts on weather, the food chain, and circulation of oxygen and nutrients throughout the ocean.
I’ve been interviewing key authors of the paper, Lead author Stefan Rahmstorf, as well as paleoclimate expert Mike Mann, and Glaciologist Jason Box.
This is a paper that could have substantial impact, and might very well be distorted or sensationalized,  – so bookmark this post as a damper for overhyped speculation, as well as a warning about real impacts.

Lead Author Stefan Rahmstorf in RealClimate:

The North Atlantic between Newfoundland and Ireland is practically the only region of the world that has defied global warming and even cooled. Last winter there even was the coldest on record – while globally it was the hottest on record. Our recent study (Rahmstorf et al. 2015) attributes this to a weakening of the Gulf Stream System, which is apparently unique in the last thousand years.

The whole world is warming. The whole world? No! A region in the subpolar Atlantic has cooled over the past century – unique in the world for an area with reasonable data coverage (Fig. 1). So what’s so special about this region between Newfoundland and Ireland?


Fig. 1 Linear temperature trend from 1900 to 2013. The cooling in the subpolar North Atlantic is remarkable and well documented by numerous measurements – unlike the cold spot in central Africa, which on closer inspection apparently is an artifact of incomplete and inhomogeneous weather station data.

It happens to be just that area for which climate models predict a cooling when the Gulf Stream System weakens (experts speak of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation or AMOC, as part of the global thermohaline circulation). That this might happen as a result of global warming is discussed in the scientific community since the 1980s – since Wally Broecker’s classical Nature article “Unpleasant surprises in the greenhouse?” Meanwhile evidence is mounting that the long-feared circulation decline is already well underway.

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Today, Senator Ted Cruz announced he is running for President, the first, no doubt of a string of avowed climate science deniers that will be vying for the Chief Executive job.

Above, on his NBC “Late Night” show, Seth Meyer interviewed Senator Cruz a few weeks ago, and questioned the Senator’s stance on climate change.  I think Seth let the Senator get away with a few whoppers.
I’ve offered to run a seminar for talk show hosts in this political season, to prep them for situations just such as this, which are bound to come up again.

If anyone knows Seth, pass this along. My hourly rates are reasonable.

Dear Mr Meyers

A few weeks ago Senator Ted Cruz appeared on your program – significant because the Honorable Senator is now running for President of the United States.

I greatly appreciate that you challenged Mr Cruz on his denial of climate science, and I hope you’ll continue to challenge future political guests on this critical issue.
That said, I think you let Mr Cruz get away too lightly with three talking points that are often heard, and can be effectively knocked down.

Let’s take the first one – “I just came back from New Hampshire, where there’s snow and ice everywhere.”  We are supposed to infer, apparently, that because there is snow, in winter, in New Hampshire, that there is no global warming.
I suggest you have your graphics guys blow up a few key graphs. Here’s one. (click it for a larger version)


Ask your guest if they have looked at a temperature map of the globe, where they would see that New Hampshire, (or wherever the cold spot of the moment is) is an anomaly in a sea of warmth, as this February 26th, 2015, map from the University of Maine shows. Ask them if a President should have a global view, or one that ends at our shores, or the state line of New Hampshire.

Let’s take the next one: “Satellite data demonstrate that for the last 17 years there’s been zero warming, none whatsoever.”

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