From the Horse’s Mouth. The New Study on Cosmic Rays and Climate.

August 31, 2011

Here’s the Nature podcast interview with Jasper Kirkby, author of the new study that has denialists all atwitter (again) over cosmic rays.

Briefly, the theory is that cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, and when colliding with gas molecules create tiny cloud seeding particles, (“cloud condensation nuclei”) and thus, so the theory goes, could increase cloud cover.

Low clouds, in particular, reflect sunlight, and exert a cooling influence.

Therefore, so the theory goes, when the sun is in an active state, solar magnetic fields are strong, shielding the earth from cosmic rays, not as many clouds form, making it warmer – even warmer than it would be from the more active sun.

In periods such as the Maunder Minimum, a period of very few sunspots from 1645 to 1715, solar activity would have been low, thus, – ->lower magnetic fields –> letting in more cosmic rays —> producing more clouds
—> cooling the planet.

Voila. The Little Ice Age.

Recently, experiments were undertaken by Dr. Kirkby (interviewed above) at the European Atom smasher facility, – CERN – to learn more about the particle interactions that might validate this theory. The publication of his recent paper on the results has been bouncing around in the denialosphere as yet another “final nail in the coffin of man-caused global warming”.

Dr. Kirkby’s take, as you hear in the interview — not so much.

From the Editor’s summary in Nature:
Even with the large enhancements in rate caused by ammonia and ions, they conclude that atmospheric concentrations of ammonia and sulphuric acid are insufficient to account for observed boundary layer nucleation.

There are more questions to answer.
If cosmic rays have an effect on climate, we should expect that, given the unequivocal warming of the last 40 years, there should be a corresponding trend in cosmic rays. And we don’t see one.

Moreover, solar experts tell us, the sun has been in an extended minimum for several years now.

Since we are in an extended solar minimum, that recent work suggests may get even deeper and longer,  the cosmic ray idea would predict —

low solar activity –>

lower solar magnetic fields –>

more influx of cosmic rays  –>

more ionizing of atmosphere  –>

more cloud nuclei  –>

more clouds  –>

greater reflectivity  –>

lower temps for the last few years, and more cooling to come.

There’s a problem with this idea. We are not observing such a cooling.


That’s the cliff notes version, as simple as I can make it – I hope not ridiculously distorted.

For those that need it – here’s more reading.

RealClimate

The Way Things Break

Skeptical Science Is the Sun causing global warming?
More Skeptical Science Can Cosmic Rays Cause Climate Change?

43 Responses to “From the Horse’s Mouth. The New Study on Cosmic Rays and Climate.”

  1. daveburton Says:

    That’s a pretty good summary, Peter, except for your usual boorish comparison of climate realists with holocaust deniers (“denialists”). Who don’t you drop the nasty name-calling, and treat the folks with whom you disagree with a little courtesy?

    Nobody can dispute that there’s a striking correlation between long periods of cold climate (like the Little Ice Age) and long periods of low solar activity (like the Dalton Minimum and Maunder Minimum). Consistent with that correlation, the 20th century’s warming has coincided with an extended period of high solar activity.

    Many thoughtful scientists think it’s no coincidence: the sun is driving the climate. But there’re a couple of problems with that hypothesis.

    1. Climate does not correlate very well with the 11/22 year solar cycles. The very striking correlation is over much longer periods (like 50+ years). AFAIK, nobody knows why.

    2. “High/low activity” doesn’t mean “high/low solar output.” The actual energy output from the sun doesn’t vary much over the 11/22 year solar cycles. So if all that matters for Earth’s climate is how much energy is emitted by the Sun (as is assumed in various climate models), then the variation can’t be affecting climate much.

    Some CAGW-skeptical scientists have hypothesized a solution to the puzzle. Suppose it isn’t just total solar irradiance that matters? Perhaps the solar wind / cosmic rays play a role. For instance, if cosmic rays trigger cloud formation, they could have a large effect on climate, and (unlike total solar irradiance) cosmic rays vary considerably with the behavior of the Sun.

    (Of course, clouds are complicated: e.g., daytime cloud cover has a cooling effect, nighttime cloud cover has a warming effect.)

    Climate alarmists have generally pooh-poohed the whole notion. Correlation doesn’t always mean causation, they note, and they (and their models) generally assume that the correlation between, for example, the Maunder & Dalton Minimums and the Little Ice Age is mere coincidence. (Mann’s “hockey stick” infamously even tried to paint the correlation out of existence.)

    This study demonstrates that the notion is not ridiculous. Cosmic rays can trigger cloud formation.

    But it doesn’t put the puzzle to rest.

    For one thing, we know that solar wind varies considerably over the 11/22 year solar cycle. So why don’t we see a strong correlation between climate and the solar cycle? Why is the observed correlation mainly over much longer time periods?

    Over the last dozen years or so, global temperatures seem to have plateaued. The tantalizing question is: which way will they go?

    If climate is mostly CO2-driven, then temperatures should resume rising. But if climate is mostly solar-driven, and if we really are headed into a new Dalton Minimum (which is not certain), then temperatures should fall.

    Of course, one possibility is that both sides of the debate could be partly right, and the dueling effects could mostly cancel, leading to approximate temperature stability.

    Obviously, there is plenty that is still not understood.

    —-

    On a related matter, did you notice the apparent solution to the puzzle of the “missing heat?”

    Various news stories have noted the “mystery of the missing heat.”
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88520025
    http://www.physorg.com/news183142998.html

    Now comes a new paper, “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance,” by Roy W. Spencer & William D. Braswell, of the University of Alabama in Huntsville:
    http://pop.org/content/un-climate-models-flawed-grossly-exaggerate-warming-effect
    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/8/1603/

    Spencer & Braswell analyzed data from NASA’s ERBS and Terra satellites, and found that the “missing heat” is escaping into space — in defiance of the IPCC-favored climate models which all predict that much more of it should stick around and warm the Earth.

    • mrwhylie Says:

      Over the last dozen years or so, global temperatures seem to have plateaued. The tantalizing question is: which way will they go?

      Does it matter? It will still be denied. The denialist reminds me of the jury in the Cassy Anthony trial. No matter the evidence they will always find doubt in their mind. As long as there’s doubt, there is no action and no accountability.

  2. greenman3610 Says:

    “This study demonstrates that the notion is not ridiculous. Cosmic rays can trigger cloud formation.”
    I think the author just said in the interview above that he in fact had not shown this.
    starting at 3:40 —
    “..we are only looking at the moment at the production of nanometer sized embryonic particles.. these are far too small to seed cloud droplets at this stage, …so at the moment it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic ray effect on CLOUDS and therefore CLIMATE..”

    so, the reason I posted this is that deniers, such as yourself, go on repeating nonsense noise that they picked up on some denialist website, rather than simply listening to what the scientist himself actually says in plain english — no math or science background required.
    There is some more information at the linked sites that expands on this even further.
    What’s boorish is that you completely ignore that and go right on with your script, oblivious to the information that Dr Kirkby and Nature Podcasting have worked so hard to put in front of you.

    • daveburton Says:

      I said that it “is not ridiculous” to think that cosmic rays could affect clouds and climate.

      Judging from your barrage of insults, I think you must disagree, which implies that you think it is ridiculous — so ridiculous, in fact, that you compare the idea with holocaust denial.

      Neither the interviewer, Geoff Brumfiel, nor the study’s lead author, Dr. Jasper Kirby, agree with you.

      In the intro, the interviewer says:

      “…they can create small particles that might help clouds to form. Clouds cool things down, so lots of cosmic rays, more clouds, cooler climate. But there’s a missing link in all of this. Do cosmic rays really lead to those first seeds? To find out, Jasper Kirkby is conducting an experiment…”

      You chose to quote a tiny excerpt from the interview, which is basically a disclaimer attached to their result. But what is that result? It is the context for the disclaimer, yet you omitted it. So here it is:

      3:40 “…for all the particle formation that we’ve looked at so far, cosmic rays substantially enhance the production rate of these particles, by up to a factor of ten at natural cosmic ray levels. But it is important to stress that we are only looking, at the moment, at the production of nanometer-sized embryonic particles. These are far too small to seed cloud droplets at this stage. So, at the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic ray effect on clouds and therefore climate, but it’s a very important first step.”

      In other words, Dr. Kirby is saying that the study doesn’t prove the possible cosmic ray effect on actual clouds because they didn’t get that far yet. They only studied the effect on nucleation, which is, by definition, just the first step. But it obviously suggests that cosmic rays could have a large effect.

      Dr. Kirby obviously does not think that the hypothesis that cosmic rays affect clouds and climate is ridiculous. If he thought it was ridiculous then he wouldn’t have used the adjective “possible” to describe it, and he wouldn’t have said (as he did at the end of the interview) that his goal is to answer the question, and he wouldn’t have begun the interview by vividly contrasting the huge importance of clouds on climate with the much smaller importance of AGW on climate:

      0:55 “It’s a very big effect, actually. The net effect of all the clouds on earth is about 30 Watts per square meter of cooling. All of the anthropogenic contribution is estimated to have added about 1-1/2 Watts per square meter over the 20th century. So you can see that a very small systematic change in the amount of cloud cover could have a very big correction on our understanding of what the radiative forcing is on the atmosphere. We have to understand clouds. And, underneath clouds, it really implies aerosols behind them.”

      The article is behind a pay-wall, but here are some excerpts from the abstract:

      Atmospheric aerosols exert an important influence on climate through their effects on stratiform cloud albedo and lifetime and the invigoration of convective storms.

      Despite extensive research, fundamental questions remain about the nucleation rate of sulphuric acid particles and the mechanisms responsible, including the roles of galactic cosmic rays and other chemical species such as ammonia.

      We find that atmospherically relevant ammonia mixing ratios of 100 parts per trillion by volume, or less, increase the nucleation rate of sulphuric acid particles more than 100–1,000-fold.

      Ions increase the nucleation rate by an additional factor of between two and more than ten at ground-level galactic-cosmic-ray intensities, provided that the nucleation rate lies below the limiting ion-pair production rate.

      Clearly, the authors are interested in cosmic ray triggered nucleation because of its potential “important influence on climate.” Their experiment wasn’t designed to create clouds, it was designed to test whether cosmic rays could trigger nucleation. The result: they do.

      As noted in the interview, they only looked at formation of “embryonic” nuclei, not the progression into clouds, and as noted in the abstract, “fundamental questions remain.” But this study obviously lends support to the hypothesis that cosmic rays might have “an important influence on climate.”

      • daveburton Says:

        I speculate, too, that cloud albedo is not the only plausible mechanism through which this could lead to cooling. When water vapor condenses into clouds, and then falls as rain, it reduces the atmospheric concentration of an important GHG: water vapor.

  3. Nathan Weiss Says:

    You cite UAH satellite data, which measures 71% ocean temperatures. Their data also shows that the water in the great lakes is over 100 degrees at the moment (a fairly well-documented flaw).

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I cite UAH data because it’s the set most loved by climate deniers, who say it is free from error, and the machinations
      of evil scientists (who are distorting the ground based thermometers, dontcha know…)
      by all means go to http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/, where you can view the current GISS
      data, or download the data there and graph it yourself.
      You can also play with data and plots at http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/

    • daveburton Says:

      Say what, Nathan? I don’t understand what are you talking about.

      To what does the 71% refer?

      And where has anyone or anything associated with UAH ever suggested that water in the Great Lakes has ever reached 100F?

      What is “fairly well-documented,” and where?


  4. […] Kirkby, spoke about his paper in a Nature podcast.  Peter Sinclair makes the podcast available at From the Horse’s Mouth: The New Study on Cosmic Rays and Climate.  My colleague, Dr. Christian Shorey, summed up the podcast this way: His research can’t be […]


  5. Thank you for explaining this fascinating research. If all goes well, CERN will publish peer reviewed results in 5-10 years. If highly certain, Cosmic Ray variability will be added to climate models. In the meantime, “alarmists” and “deniers” should avoid inductive logic. (I heard everybody loves cats. Therefore, nobody loves dogs. And boy do I hate dogs.) The uncertain CR forcing and the highly certain GHG forcing are independent external forcings.

  6. Nick Palmer Says:

    daveburton wrote:
    “except for your usual boorish comparison of climate realists with holocaust deniers (“denialists”)”

    Do you ever wonder why deniers keep getting insulted about their intelligence? It’s because they make remarks like that. Over and over again, even after they have been corrected. Do you know the word incorrigible?

    When you get described as denialists or deniers no-one is imputing that you are Hitler apologists or 2nd World war holocaust deniers. What they are saying is that you have a type of personality that can stay in denial of reality, despite mountains of evidence against your views, by clinging to tiny little scraps of ambiguous evidence that can be twisted to support those views. Like alcoholics who deny they have a problem, or addicts in general you are IN DENIAL OF REALITY. That is why you get described as denialists!

    That ionising particles can cause nuclei formation that can lead to “cloud” formation was already known to anyone who ever watched a cloud chamber (Wilson chamber) in a physics lesson. That happens because of the sensitive super-saturated vapour conditions inside the cloud chamber.

    Kirkby suggested that the cooling effect of any extra cloud formation is quite large in comparison with that from Mankind’s excess green house gases – if this research eventually shows that the nano nuclei can grow and get big enough to “force” cloud droplet formation, then the denialists who want to continue plugging this red herring still have to explain why we haven’t seen very large and fast swings in planetary temperature in synchrony with cosmic ray flux, coronal mass ejections etc. The whole Spencer/Christy derived “clouds will save us” meme still looks highly dubious.

    • daveburton Says:

      The word “denier” is inescapably linked with the phrase “Holocaust Denier,” and the reason climate alarmists use it is to insult climate realists/skeptics by insinuating (or, in your case, stating outright) that the skeptics are in denial of reality just like Holocaust Denier nuts.

      That is the opposite of the truth. The best science and clearest evidence supports the skeptics.

      The alarmists who continue to insist that, for example, sea levels will rise dramatically in response to increased atmospheric CO2, are the folks who cannot reconcile their ideology with reality, and chose to believe what their ideology demands rather than what reality demonstrates. The truth is that the models which say sea level rise must accelerate in response to increased atmospheric CO2 have been falsified, because we’ve had well over half a century of increasing CO2 levels which have been accompanied by no acceleration in sea level rise at all.

      What does that say about the alarmists’ personalities?

      Dave

      • greenman3610 Says:

        I used to avoid the term “denier” until a very high profile darling of the denier community specifically and knowingly lied to my face during a debate.
        I now know that, at the top, at the core, this movement is run by sociopaths.
        Since then, I have freely used the term denier.
        Moreover, “holocaust denier” is only one shade of the term – I think more specifically it relates to the emotional dysfunction of conservatives who have been driven nearly mad, when, having swept into power in 2008 in the US, completely controllling all branches of government, and through applying all the principles that they claim to hold dear, came up with the most catastrophic 8 years in the history of the US.
        The cognitive dissonance of having this light shown on the depths of their convictions is what fuels a good deal of the furiously irrational hatred for Al Gore, who they know was in fact the popular choice in 2000.
        For those people, I offer an update on the last decade, to help them begin their process of re-entering the reality based world, and eventually healing. Here it is.
        a) Saddam Hussein did not attack us
        b) there were no weapons of mass destruction
        c) Obama was not born in Kenya
        d) Climate change is real

        Have a nice day.

      • Nick Palmer Says:

        daveburton wrote:
        “The word “denier” is inescapably linked with the phrase “Holocaust Denier,””

        Yes, you would like to push that because it suits your rhetoric doesn’t it?

        The description of the psychological trait of denial long predates the emergence of the connection wth the holocaust. Look it up.

        “That is the opposite of the truth. The best science and clearest evidence supports the skeptics.”

        That statement really nails your colours to the mast. They do say if you want to tell a lie, make it a big one. Seriously, that is a mind-bogglingly big and stupid lie.

        There are only a few credible scientists who are lauded by the denialist/”sceptic” community. Lindzen, Christie, Spencer (I’m starting to struggle already!).. maybe Singer, Carter, Michaels. I think you will find (if you choose to look…) that all of them are on camera on Youtube as agreeing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that it has increased because of us and will continue to increase unless we do something about it. They also agree, on camera, that the world is warming up and that CO2 is a cause and that further increasing CO2 will further warm the planet.

        Their only significant difference from the mainstream position is that they dispute the accepted climate sensitivity, believing it to be a lot less than the 3C that is the mid point of the “establishment’s” best estimate (from multiple independent lines of evidence). They may be right. What if they are wrong? If too many listen to all those people who quote their work to claim that we have nothing to worry about and thereby cause sufficient political momentum to delay or stop adequate CO2 reduction/mitigation measures being implemented in time, then the deniers will be responsible for all the horrors that follow. People like you daveburton, who listen only to sources that say what you want to hear, will be responsible.

        It comes down to the Dirty Harry dilemma. Is there a serious “climate change bullet” left in the gun or is there not? Any normal personality would choose not to take the risk. In the film, the punk, in denial of reality, felt lucky and was shot. That was his right to take that chance. People like you choosing to risk the climate change bullet means exposing not only yourself but every other person (not to mention the rest of planetary life) to the results of an experiment on the atmosphere that has never been done before. That just seems so unutterably insane that I wonder how some can live with themselves.

        Re: we’ve had well over half a century of increasing CO2 levels which have been accompanied by no acceleration in sea level rise at all.

        Where on earth do you get your information? Wattsupwiththat?

        Depending on where you look, the 20th century average is about 1.6mm/year. The rate since the ’90s is about 3.1 mm/year. Sure looks like an increasing rate to me, or does your pathological “scepticism” not allow you to admit that? Also bear in mind that the bigger rate increases will happen because of land based ice melt, which is just getting going.

        click for CSIRO graph

        You also quote:

        Now comes a new paper, “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance,” by Roy W. Spencer & William D. Braswell, of the University of Alabama in Huntsville:

        Denialist/sceptics have clutched at this straw paper, like they clutch at all straws that may back up their prejudices yet the editor who published it has resigned claiming he should not have published it click for BBC news.

        My bottom line is that denialists dispute, with pathological intensity, anything which supports the idea that we probably have a very serious threat to face which needs fixing ASAP, while simultaneously accepting uncritically amlost any old garbage that tends to undermine that idea. That is not balanced. That is not true scepticism. That is denialism.

        • daveburton Says:

          Nick asked,

          Re: “we’ve had well over half a century of increasing CO2 levels which have been accompanied by no acceleration in sea level rise at all.”

          Where on earth do you get your information? Wattsupwiththat?

          Nick, I attempted to post a detailed response, with extensive documentation of the fact that coastal tide gauges (for the last 75+ years) and satellite data (for the last ~18 years) both show that there has been no acceleration at all in rate of sea level rise in response to increased CO2 emissions and levels. In fact, the satellite data and the preponderance of tide gauge data both show slight deceleration.

          But Peter (greenman) has informed me that he will not allow it.

          If you’d like me to email it to you, please contact me by email. You may find my address here:
          http://www.burtonsys.com/email

          • greenman3610 Says:

            I am not allowing book length posts.
            Feel free to post a specific point, and defend it.

          • Nick Palmer Says:

            I’ve emailed daveb, warning him in advance that I don’t regard much coming from Morner as credible, these days (if db is going to use him as a source).

          • greenman3610 Says:

            it was on that level – appeals to steven goddard, among others.
            wayy too long, and I told him this is not a forum for gish galloping.

  7. mrwhylie Says:

    In twenty years or so, If we look back and see that these paid professional denialists intentionally and knowingly put the world population at risk for profit, they could be brought up on crimes against humanity.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      there will eventually be the climate equivalent of the tobacco trials. IN fact, a lot of the discovery has already been done, specifically in the tobacco proceedings themselves. – as the same anti science activists that were mouthpieces for the tobacco industry continue to play the same role for the climate denial industry.

    • daveburton Says:

      Since the widespread fraud in climatology is being committed by the paid professional alarmists, rather than the climate realists, I recommend that you don’t hold your breath waiting for that, MrWhyLie.

      Take, for example, the alarmist predictions that increased atmospheric CO2 will trigger catastrophic sea level increases, often said to be a meter of more over the next 90 years. They are supported by fraudulent graphs which (by tricks reminiscent of “Mike’s Nature trick”) show fake accelerations in sea level rise.

      The real data actually shows that the (glacially slow) rate of sea level rise hasn’t increased at all in nearly a century, despite more than half a century of increasing CO2 emissions and levels. In fact, both coastal tide gauges (over the last ~80 years) and satellite data (over the last ~18 years) show that the rate of sea level rise has declined slightly. So alarmists at NASA and elsewhere commit fraud to Hide The Decline.

      This particular fraud is costing many people a great deal of money, by duping regulators into imposing wasteful and useless restrictions on development for “risk management.” That’s a boatload of lawsuits waiting to happen.

      • mrwhylie Says:

        Tell it to the navy…

        • daveburton Says:

          I’ll see your Navy Admiral, and raise you one Nobel prize-winning physicist:
          http://tinyurl.com/GiaeverExitsAPS

          • greenman3610 Says:

            except you are talking about a geriatric scientist in another field with no experience in climate, vs a phd meteorologist and oceanographer in his prime with decades of field experience, direct observation and practical application, who is connected to the most sophisticated technical apparatus on the planet.

            The fact that you do not get that distinction reflects all the more on your judgement, which you have been so richly demonstrating for us.
            please continue. You are making my case.

  8. daveburton Says:

    Nick Palmer wrote: “I’ve emailed daveb, warning him in advance that I don’t regard much coming from Morner as credible, these days (if db is going to use him as a source).”

    greenman3610 wrote: “it was on that level – appeals to steven goddard, among others.”

    Not Mörner. Worse. NOAA, PSMSL, Church & White, Houston & Dean, NASA & U. Colorado.

    I cited Goddard only for his pointed commentary on the IPCC’s obfuscation of the data to create the illusion of a possibility of acceleration, not for the data, itself.

    This was my rejected message: http://www.burtonsys.com/climate/sea_level_reply_to_nick.html

    The first and most important fact that anyone interested in climate change needs to know about sea level is simply this: in response to well over half a century of increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions and rising atmospheric CO2 levels, the rate of sea level rise has not increased at all.

    The second most important thing to know is a consequence of the first: Anyone professing to be an expert who falsely claims that the rate of sea level rise is increasing cannot be trusted, because they are either incompetent, or dishonest, or both.

    The third most important thing to know is also a consequence of the first: The climate models and calculations (e.g., Rahmstorf, et al) which predicted acceleration in rate of sea level rise have been falsified.

  9. Nick Palmer Says:

    daveburton’s email contained a lot of stuff but his main point seems to be that if you plot unadjusted data from assorted tidal gauges etc, one mostly does not see an increasing rate of sea level rise.

    “I get my information by analyzing tide station data, mainly the raw data from GLOSS-LTT tide stations, but also processed data from (for instance) Church and White”

    Clearly, the only arguable point here is the validity of adjusting the raw data to take into account other factors that would otherwise skew the results (see later).

    He implies that the IPCC sliced together cherry picked data to create a false graph:

    “The IPCC achieves the appearance of acceleration by splicing together sea level graphs measured at different locations. Since the rate of sea level increase or decline varies drastically from one location to another, by splicing graphs from different locations they can create the appearance of either acceleration or deceleration, as desired”

    If db is correct, and as the planet has warmed over this period, he appears to have shown that sea water does not expand when it absorbs heat which is a stupendous scientific feat!!

    Hmmm – although I don’t want to prolong this, it occurs to me that, as water has that peculiar property between 0-4 degrees C of “shrinking” as it gets warmer, coupled with the fact that the Arctic is warming more than most, maybe some of daveburton’s alleged lack of increase in rate is down to very cold Arctic sea <4degC being warmed and thereby contracting and counteracting the expanding seas in the warmer parts of the world where the sea temperature is over 4 degrees. I am not so Dunning-Kruger that I believe for one minute that ocean scientists have missed this point though! Possibly db did…

    • greenman3610 Says:

      all I can say is, Dave, alert the US Navy. You’ve discovered something they missed.

    • daveburton Says:

      Nick, my point is that the data (measurements) show very clearly that there has been no increase at all in the rate of sea level rise in response to anthropogenic CO2. Since 1958, atmospheric CO2 is up 24%, but the rate of sea level rise has not increased at all.

      W/r/t detecting the (lack of) acceleration in rate of SLR, it doesn’t matter whether you apply GIA corrections to the tide gauge data or not, as long as you do so consistently. But if you change the amount of correction you apply to the tide gauges, or if you switch from using GIA VM2 to GIA VM4 or some other set of adjustments, or if you switch to using different coastal tide station locations, or if you switch from using tide station data to using satellite data, then you’re cheating, like Mike’s Nature Trick.

      There are many factors that can affect coastal sea levels. However, a warming or cooling (density change) of the surface layer of the oceans is not one of them. It does have the potential to ever-so-slightly affect satellite-measured sea levels in the open ocean, but it cannot affect coastal sea levels at all.

      That’s just basic physics.

      If you’re unconvinced, then ask yourself why the freezing and melting of floating ice & slush has no effect on coastal sea levels. After all, it is simply water changing density, like when surface water warms in the ocean.

      When surface water warms, or when ice forms on the surface of the sea, its density goes down, so it rises up in place, without affecting coastal sea levels at all. It has no effect on coastal sea levels because its displacement (mass) doesn’t change.

      Think of icebergs (or the arctic icecap). They are just areas of reduced water density with corresponding locally elevated sea levels. But melting them has no effect at all on coastal sea levels, elsewhere, because their displacement doesn’t change.

      (In contrast, density changes in the lower layers of the oceans do affect coastal sea levels. But since it takes hundreds of years for surface heat to make its way down to the lower layers, hypothetical anthropogenic warming cannot have much affected the temperatures in the lower layers of the oceans, yet. )

  10. Nick Palmer Says:

    daveburton wrote:

    When surface water warms, or when ice forms on the surface of the sea, its density goes down

    You appear to have completely missed my point which is that when surface water (and deep water) between 0-4 degrees C warms, its density increases which means its volume decreases. A small decrease in volume in the deep ocean will, by a “leverage” sort of effect, have a disproportionately large effect on coastal tidal gauges of sea level which is no doubt what causes the excitement you feel when you think you have discovered a smoking gun hole in AGW science.

    Bear in mind that, if the decrease in volume as the colder seas warm up from 0-4 is a one shot deal. As soon as the waters cross the 4 degrees mark coastal sea levels will start to rapidly increase.

    It is unobvious factors like these that means science MUST apply adjustments to the raw data to get at the objective underlying reality and simplistic armchair critics who think they are the next Galileo need to realise this.

    “Mike’s Nature trick” was the opposite of cheating, as has been exhaustively explained before – unfortunately some are too egocentric to realise it.


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