lukewarming? …

Warming of the atmosphere the past half century has contributed immensely to civilizations well being. Topped with the large increases in atmospheric CO2, the benefits in cropping and food supplies is immeasurable.

The story setting out how the theory goes, begins here:

It’s more like global LUKEwarming

Turning to the investigation of climate change: What do we know about climate?  Climate has always changed, is changing, and will always change. There were times when the earth was much colder or warmer than it is now, and during both those circumstances CO2 levels were at times higher or lower than now. Solar cycles, volcanic activity, greenhouse gasses, ocean currents, and macro weather patterns such as El Nino/La Nina all have an effect on climate. Our understanding of climate most evidently suggests there is much we don’t understand about climate.  It would therefore stand to reason that any investigation of the human influence on climate should begin with a broadly exploratory study of climate and the factors influencing climate.

However, that has not been the case. The International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) temperature modeling is based in the following deductive reasoning:  CO2 is a relatively abundant greenhouse gas.  The noncontroversial physics of atmospheric CO2 predicts that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations should result in a temperature increase of 1.1 – 1.2 degrees C.  The IPCC computer modeling further incorporates a 2-3X or more amplification of the predicted CO2 temperature increase, postulating that CO2 increased temperature will warm the oceans creating more water vapor – a greenhouse gas – and thereby amplify the CO2 greenhouse gas temperature effect.

So how well has this deductive reasoning predicted the observed reality.

John Christy, a climate expert from the University of Alabama, gave the following report on climate change to a joint meeting of Senate and House committees on Dec. 8, 2015.

He first compared the observed temperature data to the IPCC computer modeled temperature for the middle troposphere.   The troposphere is the earth’s active weather zone, and extends from the surface to around 40,000 feet.  The observed temperature record was a product of two different temperature measurements – balloon data and satellite data.

The balloon data is the compilation of four separate data sets from weather balloons launched twice a day simultaneously across the world so to get a snapshot of the physical properties of that day’s atmosphere.  These balloon launches have occurred twice daily since 1979.  The satellite temperature recordings go back 35 years and are derived from measuring the vibration of diatomic oxygen in the lower atmosphere which turns out to produce a much more accurate temperature measurement than standard mercury-in-glass instruments.

The data demonstrates that for the 36-year period from 1979 to 2015, the observed tropospheric temperature was less than that predicted by the mean of the 102 computer models, and at times significantly so.  Over that time period, the observed warming has been roughly one-third of that predicted by the models.  This data also shows the observed tropospheric temperature increase over the last 10 years has been less than 0.05 degrees C.

Dr. Christy also compared the most recent revision of each of the five observed global temperature records to that of the average of the 108 IPCC climate models predicted temperatures.  His analysis demonstrates for all periods from 10 years (2006-2015) to 65 (1951-2015) years in length, the observed temperature trend was in the lower half of the climate model temperature predictions, and for several periods, the observed trend lies very close (or even below) the 2.5th percentile of those predictions.

This empirical data also demonstrates a “pause” or “slowdown” in the rate of global warming has taken place over the past 15 years – a period during which more than 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere.

This pause only recently has been acknowledged in the climate change scientific journals. One such article, whose authors included Michael Mann, the Penn State climatologists accused of fudging data to create the famed hockey stick shaped global warming prediction, states, “It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims.”

Climate scientists have proposed over 40 explanations for the warming hiatus including particulate matter from small volcanoes and pollution, ocean movements, data gathering problems, natural variability, and several more. The 40-plus explanations can’t all be right, but all potentially provide insight into better understanding climate change. The pause tells us that there is significant underlying natural climate variability. The pause tells us that our knowledge of climate change is limited and incomplete.  The pause tells us that the science is not settled.

Given that the observed rate of warming in the satellite-sensed and balloon data is barely a third of that predicted by global climate models, it is both reasonable and prudent to cut the modeled temperature forecasts for the rest of this century by 50 percent.

Most experts believe that warming of less than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels will result in no net economic or ecological damage.  In fact, for up to two degrees of total warming, the benefits will generally outweigh the harmful effects. Warming of up to 1.2 degrees Celsius over the next 70 years (0.8 degrees have already occurred), most of which is predicted to happen in cold areas in winter and at night, would extend the range of farming further north, improve crop yields, slightly increase rainfall (especially in arid areas), have a continued greening effect on the earth, and lower winter-related deaths.

What conclusions should be drawn from the observed – as opposed to computer predicted – temperature data?

Our knowledge of climate and climate change remains limited and incomplete. The science is not settled!  Secondly, models are not evidence.  Finally, given the huge political and economic implications of climate policy, climate change study merits a vigorous, broad and open-ended investigation – not research to confirm a pre-ordained conclusion.

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley)
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