Monday, April 30, 2007
It seems to me that any anthropogenic theory for climate change on Earth needs to explain this:
Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake.
Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.
Now, the linked article does offer a possible basis for distinguishing climate change on Mars from the sort I just caused on the 405:
The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds.
In a paper published in the journal Nature, she suggests that such winds can stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet’s temperature.
Either that, or Lori Fenton wants to make tenure.
The righty blogs are going wild on this one, but I couldn't find a single lefty blog reporting this story. Even though I'm sitting at a "beer garden" at LAX. So we will have to argue both sides. In the interests of completeness and in tribute to the intellectual honesty for which we are known far and wide, we offer this link to a 30-month old post by Steinn Sigurdson at RealClimate. It specifically -- almost tediously -- distinguishes the Martian case on any number of grounds, including other evidence that the shrinkage of the southern polar ice cap is the result of "regional" climate change rather than "global" trends. Ex ante, Sigurdson reported the impact of "giant dust storms" similarly to Lori Fenton (click through for the embedded links):
Globally, the mean temperature of the Martian atmosphere is particularly sensitive to the strength and duration of hemispheric dust storms, (see for example here and here). Large scale dust storms change the atmospheric opacity and convection; as always when comparing mean temperatures, the altitude at which the measurement is made matters, but to the extent it is sensible to speak of a mean temperature for Mars, the evidence is for significant cooling from the 1970's, when Viking made measurements, compared to current temperatures. However, this is essentially due to large scale dust storms that were common back then, compared to a lower level of storminess now. The mean temperature on Mars, averaged over the Martian year can change by many degrees from year to year, depending on how active large scale dust storms are.
See this in particular.
The "Mars" argument is really a subset of the "solar forcing" theory of climate change, which, I understand, the preponderance of climate scientists reject for reasons that certain appear to be very analytical. Not that I would know analytical climate science if it smacked me over the head.
Is MARVIN THE MARTIAN melting down the ice caps on mars to provide the water for his ELUDIUM Q-38 EXPLOSIVE SPACE MODULATOR becuase he wants to blow up the earth becuase it obstructs his view of venus? and as well as for all those INSTAN MARTIANS SQUAWK SQUAWK
Joe Conason actually had a column the other day about Halliburton benefitting from a more vigorous space program.
So when one man's sarcasm becomes another man's truth, I think it best to pop open a cold one, and linger over the strange days we live in.
I, personally, have been reading about 'Global Warming' since 1974, as I did a paper on it in high school (!Pravda!). And as the years have gone by, I have gotten even more skeptical of all the claims about it. Something is happening, but we really don't understand it well enough to model it or quantify it.
"Something is happening, but we really don't understand it well enough to model it or quantify it."
Several thousand scientists disagree with you. I'm not saying they're right, just that you're probably wrong.
It's the duty of people *not* in the field to be healthy skeptics of science conducted within it.
There is an all-too-natural human tendency to assume greater knowledge than exists of a subject in proportion to the amount of time spent studying it.
To use an over-used example, early opposition to the heliocentric solar system had the weight of knowledge, consensus of expert opinion, received knowledge of the ancients, to say nothing of enormously complicated models (involving epicycles and the like) which predicted celestial motion to a degree unmatched in heliocentric astronomy until several decades in.
Local familiarity with the immediate behavior of a system does not global knowledge of the system make.
Perhaps you can tell me the following:
What is the exchange rate of CO2 (atmosphere gas) to dissolved CO2 (ocean) for the different lattitudes around the world? Arctic, temperate, tropics?
Perhaps you can tell me what the mean albedo is for the planet, or how it changes seasonally, or varies from northern to southern hemispheres.
Or perhaps you can tell me how cloud shape and formation will affect the incident sunlight on the surface, and how the cloud deck will also affect the planet's albedo. No guessing now, we need real numbers.
This is a complex problem, with a huge number of variables, which even the experts can't agree on. There are significant assumptions in most supercomputer models as to many aspects of atmospheric physics and thermodynamics, which just may prove to be false
They can't even agree on the temperature levels measured by satellites at different levels of the atmosphere.
Yes, "we" (the human race, and especially the relatively small number of scientists that have spent years researching this) don't have enough numbers to make models that work forwards and backwards; backwards, as taking data from today and confirming the last century's weather, as it really happened.
We need to forget the politics and hyperbole and do the science for a while longer, before we decide to trash a significant amount of the world's GDP in pursuing an unquantified (and pressently unquantifiable) goal .
Food for thought, perhaps.
Catastrophic global warming is a religion--not science. Just like a religion, heretics are excommunicated--fired and denied tenure.
The most likely scenario is a decided global cooling within the next 20 years, most truly informed scientists agree. That is going to surprise a lot of nincompoops!
Well David, I'm not a scientist, so I'm not going to try and speak with authority. I will try, however, to use my "natural intelligence" (ahem) to find some authorities who might be able to help you. Given your interest in the subject, I'm surprised that you haven't tried to find out these answers for yourself, but there you go.
"What is the exchange rate of CO2 (atmosphere gas) to dissolved CO2 (ocean) for the different lattitudes around the world? Arctic, temperate, tropics?"
I will definitely look this up, but I wanted to post this before the thread died.
"Perhaps you can tell me what the mean albedo is for the planet, or how it changes seasonally, or varies from northern to southern hemispheres."
Sure. Go to http://itg1.meteor.wisc.edu/wxwise/museum/a2/anialball.html and you'll find it presented in an easy-to-understand format by some nice Finns. There's some static seasonal maps at http://www.knmi.nl/onderzk/CKO/doc/EMIC/ReferenceRun/palb.html, provided by some nice Dutch people. What's interesting, of course, is that both of these are models, and the scientists that run them seem to be pretty convinced that do, in fact "have enough numbers to make models that work".
"Or perhaps you can tell me how cloud shape and formation will affect the incident sunlight on the surface, and how the cloud deck will also affect the planet's albedo. No guessing now, we need real numbers."
What do you mean by "real numbers"?
"This is a complex problem, with a huge number of variables, which even the experts can't agree on. There are significant assumptions in most supercomputer models as to many aspects of atmospheric physics and thermodynamics, which just may prove to be false."
Well, they may. Or they may not. You need to have a little bit more meat on the bones of that argument, I'm afraid. The "experts" acknowledge that there are assumptions in their models - that's why the test of any given model is whether it has reliable predictive capability, surely?
"They can't even agree on the temperature levels measured by satellites at different levels of the atmosphere."
I assume that you're talking about the disrepancies with the Microwave Sounding Unit satellites, and between those satellites and other measures and models. Those discrepancies have apparently been reconciled, and you can read about it at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=170. If you are talking about other satellite temperature measurements, please let me know which ones so I can read for myself.
"Yes, "we" (the human race, and especially the relatively small number of scientists that have spent years researching this) don't have enough numbers to make models that work forwards and backwards; backwards, as taking data from today and confirming the last century's weather, as it really happened."
Those scientists simply don't agree with you. Nearly all scientists - even those who are sceptical of global warming, or challenge it in some way - believe that modelling is sufficiently reliable and accurate to be useful. In fact, the IPCC FAQ question 8.1 goes into some discussion about models, explaining their strengths (based on physical principles, ability to simulate current climate, ability to reproduce features of historical climate) and weaknesses (difficulties with smaller-scale and local factors, leading to uncertainty in specific areas, e.g ENSO). The conclusion: sufficiently reliable to be useful, while still needing to develop in some key areas. Oh yes, and they've improved since the 1970s, when you did a paper in high school.
Now you can disagree with that "relatively small number of scientists", but you'll forgive me if I tend to go with them, rather than you. If you can point me to any research material showing large scale flaws in current climate modelling techniques, I'd be very interested to review it for myself. I'll leave the final word to Carl Wunsch, who was interviewed for the film "The Great Global Warming Swindle" and then later went on record to say that he had been seriously misrepresented. In an open letter, he said:
"I wanted to explain why observing the ocean was so difficult, and why it is so tricky to predict with any degree of confidence such important climate elements as its heat and carbon storage and transports in 10 or 100 years. I am distrustful of prediction scenarios for details of the ocean circulation that rely on extremely complicated coupled models that must run unconstrained by observations for decades to thousands of years. Nonetheless, and contrary to the impression given in the film, I firmly believe there is a great deal about the mechanisms of climate to be learnt from models."
Perhaps to sum up, with out bantering about conflicting data:
If a scientific theory is powerful and rugged, in the sense that it can make accurate predictions, then it can be seen as valid.
I have no doubt that there are a lot of smart people working on "global warming" science and collecting reams of good data. It's just that the theory, in the strict scientific sense, is still weak, in that it (theory) can't make solid predictions yet. It may in the years to come, or may not, but it would be more accurate to call it all "global warming hypothesis", with lots of data to indicate this is important to advance the science.
I am skeptical, not cynical or disbelieving. It is just that despite all the data and science performed, accurate theoretical models and consequential accurate predictions are still out of reach.
There is no lack of predictions, it's just that they are all muddled. Even previous UN reports had a "range" of possible outcomes which were based on intelligent "guesses" by the so-called experts.