I’ve had folks who should really know better tell me about the “coming mini-ice age”.  The resurgence of that perennial crock in recent weeks makes clear that people whose job it is to communicate science, too often drop the ball. Read the rest of this entry »

Glaciologist and Dark Snow Project Chief Scientist Jason Box was recently featured prominently in a story about climate scientists coming to grips with  the implications of their work.


That story, and others, have lead some to draw the conclusion that Dr. Box’s views on coming climate impacts and sea level are extreme or on the high end, or that he views our situation as hopeless.

In particular, Dr. Box’s now-famously viral tweet of last summer:

effedWhere a lot of journalists read the “f’d”, but forgot the “if” – as Jason explains.

I’m glad he took the time to set some of those notions straight in the video above.

Another good example is Dr. Box interview on the Bill Maher show last summer.  Dr Box explained that in the past, at current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, sea levels were up to 70 feet higher – the main question being, how long it takes to reach those levels, which he  says are “.. beyond our lifetime.”

As so often happens, Bill Maher’s set-up question kind of muddies the issue.
You can hear the exchange which starts at 1:54.

Below, a couple of explanatory vids that show Dr. Box’s views to be firmly in the mainstream of climate science. Read the rest of this entry »

Jason Box at Dark Snow Project:

Sensors in Earth orbit give us the capability to monitor vast areas, daily, in near real-time. As part of the Dark Snow Project, I’ve been working with daily NASA MODIS MOD14A1 data to map the occurrence of fire activity. The map below illustrates the single most active day so far in 2015 for North America with fires ravaging central western Canada and interior Alaska.

fireseason15Through 18 July, 2015, these data indicate the cumulative radiative power of North American fires to be the highest on record in the period of observations beginning in 2000. For July, 2015 fire power is 2.5 times the sixteen summer average 2000-2015.


More at the Dark Snow Link.

shellrig1Shell Oil’s recently approved arctic drilling project, although a source of great rancor for both oil industry partisans and environmentalists, may be less than meets the eye.
One more reason to consider that the Obama administration, choosing its battles carefully, may have chosen to go ahead and let Shell beat its brains out one more time.

Houston Chronicle Fuel Fix blog:

Shell is set to launch a new round of Arctic drilling within days, after receiving critical federal permits that could force the company to halt work thousands of feet above potential oil deposits.

Under the limited Interior Department drilling permits, Shell can only focus on one well at a time, and it cannot penetrate potential oil- and gas-bearing zones some 8,000 feet underground, at least until a damaged company-contracted icebreaker returns from repairs in Oregon.

That ship, the MSV Fennica, is meant to keep ice from encroaching on Shell’s drilling operations and is designed to install critical equipment on top of a damaged well in an emergency.

Federal regulators insist that emergency capping stack must be on hand and ready to deploy within 24 hours of an incident. But they decided to follow the same approach used during Shell’s last attempt at Arctic exploration in 2012 when other emergency equipment was unavailable, by allowing initial top hole drilling only. Three years ago, that meant Shell’s wells stopped about 1,300 feet down.

The permits illustrate again the Obama administration’s struggle to balance oil and gas development on land and at sea with a green agenda, including strengthening environmental protections and combating climate change.

Read the rest of this entry »

Commonwealth Club:

Climate One at The Commonwealth Club announced today that Dr. Chris Field will be awarded the fifth annual Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. Dr. Field is Director of the Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University. The $15,000 award is given to a natural or social scientist who has made extraordinary scientific contributions and communicated that knowledge to a broad public in a clear and compelling fashion. The award was established in honor of Stephen Henry Schneider, one of the founding fathers of climatology, who died in 2010.

A Fair Critique?

July 23, 2015


Ya think?

Climate clueless Chuck Todd of NBC’s Today show was doing a Facebook chat the other day when someone actually asked a relevant question.

Hat tip to Media Matters.

sealevelKevin Trenberth in The Conversation:

There’s a new study that’s getting a fair amount of attention in the climate science community and the popular press.

Published online in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the paper argues that melting from Greenland and Antarctica will occur faster than previous projections, leading to rapid sea level rise of several meters, potentially this century. It looks at the prehistoric record to conclude that ice sheets are vulnerable to “non-linear” disintegration, or rapid melting from higher temperatures. It builds on a study published last year that found that melting in West Antarctica was effectively unstoppable.

hansensmallThe lead author of the study is Dr James Hansen, the former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and now adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, who has become a high-profile activist for policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among its most alarming conclusions are:

Our analysis paints a different picture than [the United Nations] IPCC (2013) for how this…phase is likely to proceed if GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions grow at a rate that continues to pump energy at a high rate into the ocean. We conclude that multi-meter sea level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization.

As a climate scientist, I find that the study from Hansen et al is provocative and intriguing. But it is rife with speculation and “what if” scenarios. It has many conjectures and huge extrapolations based on what I see as quite flimsy evidence, but evidence nonetheless. In that regard, it raises good questions and topics worthy of further exploration, but it is not a document that can be used for setting policy for addressing climate change, although that appears to be its intent.

tren_smallModels and paleo-data

The paper is long. It hinges upon interpretation of paleo, or prehistoric, and other data that is apt to be somewhat controversial because of dating uncertainties and conversion of proxy data to geophysical quantities.

It uses a model that does not, in my view, have a very good climate simulation. There are no differences between model results and observations shown, and some errors appear to be large. No mention is made of short-term phenomena, including the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) or Pacific decadal variations that dominate interannual and decadal variability in the real world, and which are a key to understanding the recent hiatus in the rate of rising surface temperatures. This absence is significant because recent trends based on short-term fluctuations are not representative of longer-term trends, although frequently interpreted as such.

Read the rest of this entry »

hansen_dlAvailable from link here.

Among the tidbits – evidence of coming superstorms?



Above, NOAA released some images yesterday comparing the current El Nino set-up with the historically huge event of 1997-98.  The big difference in the images is the extensive red “Blob” off the west coast of North America – a new development that has scientists puzzled, and was the subject of a recent video, see below.

Portland Oregonian:

This year’s burgeoning El Niño looks a lot like the last strong El Niño of 1997-98 in an image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The side-by-side images from 1997 and July 2015 by the agency’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory show a broad swath of warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures extending from the mid-Pacific Ocean at the equator to the coast of South America.

El Niño’s warmer waters appear a bit larger in the 1997 image, but the image from July 2015 also shows a large pool of warm water along the northwest coast of the United States.

That pool has been dubbed “The Blob” and may have an even longer-lasting detrimental effect on sea life,  scientists say.

Chris Harvey, a fisheries biologist with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, said the unprecedented warm blob off Alaska is sending currents of warm water down the coasts of Washington and Oregon.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dark Snow team contributed to the production of this video. Looks good.


Tiny particles suspended in the air, known as aerosols, can darken snow and ice causing it to absorb more of the sun’s energy. But until recently, scientists rarely considered the effect of all three major types of light-absorbing aerosols together in climate models.

In a new study, NASA scientists used a climate model to examine the impact of this snow-darkening phenomenon on Northern Hemisphere snowpacks, including how it affects snow amount and heating on the ground in spring.

The study looked at three types of light-absorbing aerosols – dust, black carbon and organic carbon. Black carbon and organic carbon are produced from the burning of fossil fuels, like coal and oil, as well as biofuels and biomass, such as forests.

supportdarksnow Read the rest of this entry »