The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group 2, (IPCC WGII) is finalizing its report in Yokohama, to be released March 31. There has been a lot of noise and several purported leaks on what the document will say.  Per IPCC – “The Working Group II contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report considers the vulnerability and exposure of human and natural systems, the observed impacts and future risks of climate change, and the potential for and limits to adaptation. The chapters of the report assess risks and opportunities for societies, economies, and ecosystems around the world.”

Above, useful summary by the increasingly impressive Al Jazeera. (the video also contains other reports, the IPCC stuff is front loaded..)

Guardian:

This will be the second of three reports on the causes, consequences of and solutions to climate change, drawing on researchers from around the world.

The first report, released last September in Stockholm, found humans were the “dominant cause” of climate change, and warned that much of the world’s fossil fuel reserves would have to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change.

This report will, for the first time, look at the effects of climate change as a series of risks – with those risks multiplying as temperatures warm.

The thinking behind the decision was to encourage governments to prepare for the full range of potential consequences under climate change.

Nearly 500 people must sign off on the exact wording of the summary, including the 66 expert authors, 271 officials from 115 countries, and 57 observers.

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I’ve posted on the misleading methods of Dr. Roger Pielke, the GOP congress’ replacement for crank “Lord” Monckton.
Normally I stay away from the “inside baseball” sniping that goes on between scientists and climate denial types, but this is above and beyond.

After a catastrophic debut essay that may have ruined Nate Silver’s new “538” Blog’s credibility right at the start, Pielke has not only been called out by leading climate scientists, he has now been very publicly thrown under a bus by his employer, Mr. Silver, in a Huffington Post interview.
Mr. Silver felt compelled to apologize for the thinly veiled threats (another Monckton touch) that Pielke issued to climate scientists mentioned in a critical blog posting at ClimateProgress.

This comes one day after Silver, in a “Daily Show” interview with Jon Stewart, where Silver was asked about the piece that leading scientists called misleading and inaccurate. Incredibly, Silver admitted that Pielke’s piece provoked so much justified outrage, that the blog would print a rebuttal of their own columnist.
““That’s a piece where we did have a lot of concern from our readers,” Silver admitted. “We don’t pay much attention to what media critics say, but that was a piece where we had, you know, 80 percent of our commentators weigh in negatively, so we’re commissioning a rebuttal for that piece.”

Huffington Post:

NEW YORK — Two prominent climate scientists say Roger Pielke Jr., a controversial writer at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, sent emails threatening possible legal action in response to their criticism of his findings for the data-driven news site.

Pielke says it’s “ridiculous” to characterize the emails as threats against Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, and Dr. Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. FiveThirtyEight, however, apologized to both men.

“Roger is a freelance contributor and his private communications do not represent FiveThirtyEight,” Silver said in a statement to HuffPost. “We had candid conversations with Michael Mann and Kevin Trenberth. We made clear that Roger’s conversations with them did not reflect FiveThirtyEight’s editorial values.”

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Above, NASA video discussing increased mass loss from Pine Island Glacier, the soft underbelly of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

More evidence that the Antarctic Sheet is waking up.

American Geophysical Union:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Six massive glaciers in West Antarctica are moving faster than they did 40 years ago, causing more ice to discharge into the ocean and global sea level to rise, according to new research.

The amount of ice draining collectively from those half-dozen glaciers increased by 77 percent from 1973 to 2013, scientists report this month in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Pine Island Glacier, the most active of the studied glaciers, has accelerated by 75 percent in 40 years, according to the paper. Thwaites Glacier, the widest glacier, started to accelerate in 2006, following a decade of stability.

Here, video from December with several scientist’s views on accelerating ice sheets, and what the Earth’s history says about ice.

The study is the first to look at the ice coming off the six most active West Antarctic glaciers over such an extended time period, said Jeremie Mouginot, a glaciologist at University of California-Irvine (UC-Irvine) who co-authored the paper. Almost 10 percent of the world’s sea-level rise per year comes from just these six glaciers, he said.

“What we found was a sustained increase in ice discharge—which has a significant impact on sea level rise,” he said.

The researchers studied the Pine Island, Thwaites, Haynes, Smith, Pope and Kohler glaciers, all of which discharge ice into a vast bay known as the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica.

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You may have seen the Cadillac Electric Hybrid Ad. I think it premiered during the Super Bowl, and has been bouncing around virally since then. I’m all about it because it sends the positive message that you can drive an electric car, care about the environment, and still be a smug, self absorbed a-hole. And that’s an important demographic to get on board.

Now Ford has a complimentary Ad, with a Detroit downtown feel, a more 21st century demographic, and a slightly different take on success.

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Dana Nuccitelli in The Guardian:

Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight blog have grown quickly in prestige and popularity due to successful predictions of American political election outcomes, especially after biased “unskewed” analysis based on wishful thinking predicted the opposite of data-driven sites like Silver’s and were proven wrong.

Silver recently launched a new FiveThirtyEight blog with the intent of applying this data-driven approach to a wide variety of subjects. He hired a variety of contributors to write about the subjects that are outside his expertise and comfort zone. For the topic of climate change, Silver decided to hire Roger Pielke, Jr.

Overall, the newly launched FiveThirtyEight seems to be taking a Freakonomics-style approach, looking for results that seem counter-intuitive. This approach worked well for Silver on the subjects of politics and sports, where much of the traditional analysis has been based on ‘gut feelings’ rather than on crunching data.

While data-driven analysis is laudable, when it comes to science, that’s already the norm. Scientific research is based on crunching data, and scientists additionally have the expertise necessary to correctly interpret the results. The approach of looking for counter-intuitive results without first understanding the underlying science led to inaccurate climate chapters in SuperFreakonomics and Silver’s The Signal and the Noise.

Thus many climate experts were concerned when they learned that Silver had hired Pielke. As Paul Krugman noted,

“…climate science has been developed by many careful researchers who are every bit as good at data analysis as Silver, and know the physics too, so ignoring them and hiring a known irresponsible skeptic [Pielke] to cover the field is a very good way to discredit your enterprise … Basically, it looks as if Silver is working from the premise that the supposed experts in every field are just like the political analysts at Politico, and that there is no real expertise he needs to take on board.”

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Above, graph from James Hansen illustrating the shifting bell curve of extremes as mean global temperatures rise.
Although the rise is only about a degree C for now, the shift in extreme events on the warm side means more and more occasions where human systems and infrastructure are hit by conditions not seen in human experience.

Stefan Rahmstorf in RealClimate:

Does global warming make extreme weather events worse? Here is the #1 flawed reasoning you will have seen about this question: it is the classic confusion between absence of evidence and evidence for absence of an effect of global warming on extreme weather events. Sounds complicated? It isn’t. I’ll first explain it in simple terms and then give some real-life examples.

The two most fundamental properties of extreme events are that they are rare (by definition) and highly random. These two aspects (together with limitations in the data we have) make it very hard to demonstrate any significant changes. And they make it very easy to find all sorts of statistics that do not show an effect of global warming – even if it exists and is quite large.

Would you have been fooled by this?

Imagine you’re in a sleazy, smoky pub and a stranger offers you a game of dice, for serious money. You’ve been warned and have reason to suspect they’re using a loaded dice here that rolls a six twice as often as normal. But the stranger says: “Look here, I’ll show you: this is a perfectly normal dice!” And he rolls it a dozen times. There are two sixes in those twelve trials – as you’d expect on average in a normal dice. Are you convinced all is normal?

You shouldn’t be, because this experiment is simply inconclusive. It shows no evidence for the dice being loaded, but neither does it provide real evidence against your prior suspicion that the dice is loaded. There is a good chance for this outcome even if the dice is massively loaded (i.e. with 1 in 3 chance to roll a six). On average you’d expect 4 sixes then, but 2 is not uncommon either. With normal dice, the chance to get exactly two sixes in this experiment is 30%, with the loaded dice it is 13%[i]. From twelve tries you simply don’t have enough data to tell.

Hurricanes

In 2005, leading hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel (MIT) published an analysis showing that the power of Atlantic hurricanes has strongly increased over the past decades, in step with temperature. His paper in the journal Nature happened to come out on the 4th of August – just weeks before hurricane Katrina struck. Critics were quick to point out that the power of hurricanes that made landfall in the US had not increased. While at first sight that might appear to be the more relevant statistic, it actually is a case like rolling the dice only twelve times: as Emanuel’s calculations showed, the number of landfalling storms is simply far too small to get a meaningful result, as those data represent “less than a tenth of a percent of the data for global hurricanes over their whole lifetimes”. Emanuel wrote at the time (and later confirmed in a study): “While we can already detect trends in data for global hurricane activity considering the whole life of each storm, we estimate that it would take at least another 50 years to detect any long-term trend in U.S. landfalling hurricane statistics, so powerful is the role of chance in these numbers.” Like with the dice this is not because the effect is small, but because it is masked by a lot of ‘noise’ in the data, spoiling the signal-to-noise ratio.

Heat records

The number of record-breaking hot months (e.g. ‘hottest July in New York’) around the world is now five times as big as it would be in an unchanging climate. This has been shown by simply counting the heat records in 150,000 series of monthly temperature data from around the globe, starting in the year 1880. Five times. For each such record that occurs just by chance, four have been added thanks to global warming.

You may be surprised (like I was at first) that the change is so big after less than 1 °C global warming – but if you do the maths, you find it is exactly as expected. In 2011, in the Proceedings of the National Academy we described a statistical method for calculating the expected number of monthly heat records given the observed gradual changes in climate. It turns out to be five times the number expected in a stationary climate.

Given that this change is so large, that it is just what is expected and that it can be confirmed by simple counting, you’d expect this to be uncontroversial. Not so. Our paper was attacked with astounding vitriol by Roger Pielke Jr., with repeated false allegations about our method (more on this here).

European summer temperatures for 1500–2010. Vertical lines show the temperature deviations from average of individual summers, the five coldest and the five warmest are highlighted. The grey histogram shows the distribution for the 1500–2002 period with a Gaussian fit shown in black. That 2010, 2003, 2002, 2006 and 2007 are the warmest summers on record is clearly not just random but a systematic result of a warming climate. But some invariably will rush to the media to proclaim that the 2010 heat wave was a natural phenomenon not linked to global warming. (Graph from Barriopedro et al., Science 2011.)

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James Cameron’s long awaited Climate special on Showtime will premier April 13. I’m told it’s pretty good.
Have reservations about Hollywood stars as messengers, but it seems to work for some.

Mashable:

The Showtime documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” executive produced by James Cameron, features an exclusive interview with Barack Obama, Mashable has learned — a segment that may provide rare insight into the President’s thinking on climate science and policy.

The interview was taped during the week of March 16, individuals with knowledge of the segment said. The show premieres April 13.

While he has given speeches on climate change, including one address in June at which he rolled out the administration’s Climate Action Plan, Obama has not given lengthy interviews solely on this subject.

The White House has not responded to a request for comment.

The interview is in keeping with the mission of the series, which is to take a science-based deep dive into the multifaceted threats climate change poses, as well as the array of available solutions. The series, which was funded in part by Cameron, was shot in far-flung locations as varied as the Greenland ice sheet, Indonesia, and the burning forests of the American West.

Episodes feature celebrity correspondents including former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also is credited as a producer, Matt Damon, Ian Somerhalder, Jessica Alba, and TV newscasters Chris Hayes of MSNBC and Leslie Stahl of CBS’ 60 Minutes