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10 key climate indicators all point to the same finding: global warming is unmistakable

Posted on 29 July 2010 by John Cook

A common theme expressed at Skeptical Science is that to understand climate, you need to look at the full body of evidence. To help people assess the evidence, NOAA have just published State of the Climate 2009. The report defines 10 measurable planet-wide features used to gauge global temperature changes. All of these indicators are moving in the direction of a warming planet.

Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, air temperature over oceans, sea level, ocean heat, humidity and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the Earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern hemisphere. Jane Lubchenco sums it up well:

"For the first time, and in a single compelling comparison, the analysis brings together multiple observational records from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the ocean. The records come from many institutions worldwide. They use data collected from diverse sources, including satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ships, buoys and field surveys. These independently produced lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion: our planet is warming."

I suggest checking out the site as it has some great resources. There's a short video introducing the report. My favourite line from this is Deke Arndt's line, "Climate trains the boxer but weather throws the punches". If you want a quick summary, jump to the press release. There's DIY Climate Indicators with interactive displays and access to data set. And of course there's the full report (6.6Mb PDF).

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Comments 101 to 146 out of 146:

  1. Geo Guy, don't forget that the spectrum of skepticism (disregarding the actual definition of the term) includes both those who believe the globe is warming but don't agree with mainstream attribution of that warming as well as those who don't believe the globe is warming at all. This site deals with both issues, so some of the discussion here is going to touch on topics devoid of attribution, rather only to do with various signals indicative of warming.

    At some time we'll probably see the former group disavow the latter but for the time being it's rather a muddle; some people go as far as to say there's no way C02 can help warm the globe and there's no warming in any case, others say it can but not much, still others say the globe is not warming but C02 could help it do so, etc. Meanwhile there's the mainstream group who have a more coherent collection of thought, sometimes called a "theory."
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  2. chris # 99 - the Scotese graph is simply a plot of results obtained by other studies involving stomata so I don't see any reason to dispute the information. The CO2 data he presented is from studies done by a variety of other scientists and contrary to your assertion that the CO2 data are based on weathering rates, they in fact are based on assessments of fossilized plant stomata. Perhaps you would do yourself a favour by spending some time to understand how stomata studies are undertaken. Certainly they cannot be any more flawed than the study of tree rings!

    As for the other reports, it is very likely the authors can come up with a positive relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature. The graph I post the link to does have periods where such a relationship appears to occur. However that in no way is definitive that if atmospheric CO2 rises so do temperatures. A case in point is the CO2 content for the Ordovician (4,00 to 5,000 ppm) while the earth experienced a well documented ice age. IF high CO2 results in higher temperatures, that relationship should appear throughout geological time. Such a relationship does not appear to exist hence the role CO2 has in rising temperatures should be questioned.

    As for my evidence as you requested in # 100, its simply that the thermodynamics of melting dense glacial ice cannot substantiate a 1 degree increase in local temperatures as the driving force behind the melting. It is more likely attributable to increased solar radiation combined with a weakening of the earth's magnetic field that are playing a significant role in what we are observing in our climate today.

    Finally as far as glaciers go, what we observe today is the result of events that happened 20 or 30 years ago and not from current temperatures etc.

    Regarding black carbon and its role in the melting of the ice cap on Greenland, National Geographic recently published an excellent article that goes into detail as to the role of carbon, where it originated from (China) and its effect on the Greenland ice cap. I doubt that the role has been fully integrated into scientific assessments as this information is relatively new.
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  3. doug_bostrom # 101 - I would agree with you on your statement and I'd place myself into the first category that you list. I am there because I believe there is a fair bit of data that would suggest while man made CO2 might be contributing to global warming, there are more natural factors that a driving the process than simply greater CO2. For instance there is evidence that solar winds can be a strong indicator of variations in global temperatures.

    SOLAR WIND NEAR EARTH: INDICATOR OF VARIATIONS IN GLOBAL TEMPERATURE; Theodor Landscheidt; Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity;
    Proceedings of 1st Solar & Space Weather Euroconference, 'The Solar Cycle and Terrestrial Climate',
    Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Spain, 25-29 September 2000 (ESA SP-463, December 2000)

    Another contributing factor to global temperatures is the el Nino effect. While a lot of studying has been done on the phenomenon, nobody has actually come out with a reason as to why it happens. We also know that over time. when an el Nino is in effect, it has an influence on global temperatures which I believe, if taken into account, the rise in temperatures since 1900 would not be as acute.

    I too have my own theory that can account for the increase in atmospheric CO2, and that the theory precludes the accumulation of CO2 from ground sources. Now if this theory holds true, then the whole purpose of the IPCC is thrown "out the door" which would make a lot of third world country leaders pretty upset.
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    Moderator Response: Geo Guy, if you want to argue with KR about El Nino, do so not on this thread but on It’s Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
  4. Geo Guy at 06:33 AM on 31 July, 2010

    That's not correct Geo Guy. The Scotese graph has got nothing to do with fossil stomata. Since I've linked to the original paper you can see that for yourself (look at Figure 13 in the Berner paper I linked to in my post above and read how this model was constructed; you'll see it's the same as in the Scotese graph you linked to).

    You're also wrong about the Ordovician. I linked to a skepticalscience page that discuss Ordovician CO2/temperature relationships. Your assertion is incorrect in the light of contemporary evidence. Click on the link.

    Unsupported assertions about the "thermodynamics of dense glacial ice" have zero explanatory value. It seems a shame not to make use of the abundant scientific evidence that bears on these's silly to say stuff that is obviously and demonstrably untrue!
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  5. Re: Geo Guy @ 102

    In reference to your contention of CO2 levels in the Ordovician not corresponding to temperatures, see Skeptic Argument # 104 here for a thorough treatment.

    Only 15 more to the end of the list...

    The Yooper
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  6. Geo Guy - I believe that muoncounter and in fact John Cook here on Skeptical Science have already pointed out the problems with the stomata data. It has extremely high variance, great dependence on other factors, and as an proxy for CO2, simply isn't as reliable as direct CO2 measurement from ice cores.

    High CO2 in the past is certainly a driver - but then there are other drivers such as solar output. The combination of the different forcings correlates quite well with temperature - it's not a single variable equation.

    Lastly, as to ice levels: We have continuous input (snow) and continuous output (melt and calving) from the various glaciers, ice shelves, ice caps, etc. - constant turnover. A 1 oC temperature rise can certainly change the output rate, leading to loss over time. It's not a transition temperature we're looking at, but a rate adjustment over a continuum.

    Although if we do reach some kind of transition point (whether albedo feedback, sufficiently reduced glacial backpressure, etc.), I expect these rates to change much faster than they have been.
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  7. Geo Guy - Two additional comments/questions.

    El Niño/La Niña - This is a cyclic phenomena, a redistribution of energy. It doesn't create or destroy energy, just moves it around for a year or two. It also doesn't correlate temporally with the temperature increase since 1850 - we've been through a lot of cycles since then. You would need a 300+ year cycle (at least 150yrs up before reversing) to account for that increase, and there is no evidence whatsoever for such a cycle.

    The added global temperature (and especially the increasing ocean heat content) point to an energy accumulation, which as it so happens matches the top of atmosphere radiative imbalance. Data matches theory, oddly enough!

    Secondly, if you have some theory for CO2 increase that doesn't include industrial emissions from fossil fuel consumption - present it! Of course, this source will have to account for the match between fossil fuel consumption and CO2 ppm increases, ocean acidification, and provide the isotope distribution that we are currently attributing to fossil fuels. I eagerly await what you have to say on this topic.
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  8. #100 chris at 04:16 AM on 31 July, 2010
    It's [black carbon] a significant but small fraction of the forcing from enhanced [CO2].

    Consider this Hansen paper for example.

    doi: 10.1073/pnas.2237157100
    PNAS January 13, 2004 vol. 101 no. 2 423-428
    Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos
    James Hansen and Larissa Nazarenko
    "It seems likely that East Asia snow has large BC amounts, because China and India are now the largest sources of BC emissions, and photographs reveal a thick brown haze filled with BC that butts against the Himalayas (22), but measurements are lacking."

    At the same time according to the testimony of prof. Tami C. Bond before the House Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming of the United States House of Representatives on March 16, 2010, black carbon emissions from Asia alone are larger than from the rest of the world combined.

    Unfortunately, as Hansen & Nazarenko states "measurements are lacking" (for God's sake, why?). Therefore it is very likely their assessment heavily underestimates the effect of black carbon on global climate, especially on NH snow cover, even if they admit "for a given forcing it [black carbon] is twice as effective as CO2 in altering global surface air temperature".

    The effect of that "thick brown haze" is indeed global, far from just "butting against the Himalayas".

    The root cause of diminishing climatic effects of black carbon or even neglecting it entirely seems to be a preoccupation with carbon dioxide. If soot had a large effect, it would not leave enough room for CO2 in model calculations.
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  9. BP #108

    I can see a significant problem with your hypothesis, to wit:

    CO2 fully mixes in the atmosphere, and as a result its effects are global. Black soot does not, so its primary effects are local. Do the climate models predict and observations confirm the local effects consistent with black soot playing a major role in climate change to date?

    Well because black soot is an indirect solar effect, we might expect it to be observed most in the day time if it was the major driver of climate change. However, instead we see more warming at night which is a signature of increased greenhouse gasses.

    Nice try, but it's yet more trying to chip around the edges to give an illusion of greater than justifiable uncertainty. You especially need to get rid of the emotional expressions that hint at conspiracy theory ("for God's sake, why"), and to stop presenting hypothesis as conclusion.
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  10. BP,
    You are arguing that scientists like James Hansen are too concerned about CO2 that they are ignoring black carbon by citing a paper by James Hansen about the problem of black carbon. To me that is a contradiction in terms. Dr. Hansen is very active in promoting lowering CO2 in the atmosphere. He also says that we should lower black carbon immediately as it is easier to control. Your suggestion that scientists ignore other issues while they promote control of CO2 is simply false. A glance at the IPCC report will show that it includes many sources of AGW, but CO2 is the largest. We do not yet debate the best ways of limiting global warming here on SS. When we do we will consider all sources of warming.
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  11. Chris # 104 - I post two graphs, the first is at:

    ..where CO2 from Antarctica ice core is compared to plant CO2 as a in my view the plot is about CO2 concentrations as deduced from plant stomata. The second graph I posted was to the CO2 vs temp graph which I agree has nothing to do with plant stomata. The two graphs were posted for two purposes. The first to show that there are valid arguments to support the contention that historical CO2 concentrations were higher than those determined from ice core data. The second was to show that over geological time a plot of temp vs CO2 indicates there is not a close correlation between the two, albeit there are periods where a correlation appears to exist. To me this suggests other factors are at play when it comes to the earth's temperature.

    I read the link regarding the Ordovician and I take exception to the statement "During the Ordovician, solar output was much lower than current levels." On what basis was this statement made? If you read further, no mention is made about solar output. Given that it is only in the last 40 years of so that we have been able to measure the sun's radiation and that proxies for those measurements go back to only about 1400, I believe the statement regarding solar variation in the Ordovician is simply a statement of convenience and bears no credibility.

    With regards to my argument on thermodynamics, it certainly does apply. Most undergraduate courses when I was at university had a simple lab assignment which was to take a set volume of ice, measure the heat needed to melt that ice and then take the resulting water, heat it with the same amount of energy that it took to melt the ice. In the end, the temperature that was reached was 140 F. When you deal with glacial ice, a lot more energy is needed to melt that ice. An uptick of less than 1 degree C over 100 years will not, in my view, provide enough energy to melt glaciers such as Greenland. I would contend the culprit is the initial sun radiation that hots the earth and not the reflected radiation.

    Daniel # 105 - see my comment above. That argument is predicated on the assumption that solar output was significantly lower than current levels which I believe is incorrect.

    KR # 107 - while I accept some of what you have posted, as you know using a mean or average temperature as many climate scientists seen to use, is very sensitive to outlier measurements. If you investigate global temperatures over the time period 1900 to the present, there were a number of instances where warm anomalies coincided with el Nino as demonstrated in the graph. However there does seem to be a close correlation between periods of el Nino activity and higher global temperatures. In order to have a greater degree of confidences that the warming is due to rising CO2, data sets should be filtered to exclude the el Nino effect. I do not believe that they have done that. apologies to the moderator..I answered a post that was in response to an earlier post.

    I don't dispute the contention that the earth seems to be heating up..I've posted that earlier in this blog. What I do contend is that the science does not support the contention that the increase in global temperatures are driven by increases in atmospheric CO2.

    I will post my theory regarding the source of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere in the near future. It is something I want to put together off line and to get it down to a minimum of words so I don't hog a lot of space here.
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  12. I believe the statement regarding solar variation in the Ordovician is simply a statement of convenience and bears no credibility.

    Be careful.

    The sun is a main sequence star; output during the Ordovician is predicted to have been some 3.5-5% less than during the present. Taking on a whole other realm of science (solar physics) to make an argument against C02 as a significant greenhouse gas is going to be difficult.
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  13. Re Geo Guy at 09:40 AM on 1 August, 2010, who said:

    "Daniel # 105 - see my comment above. That argument is predicated on the assumption that solar output was significantly lower than current levels which I believe is incorrect."

    Dude, I have to agree with Doug Bostrom (#112 above): dissing not only the physics of greenhouse gases AND the physics of stellar atmospheres because you don't like the results?

    Crowley and Berner looked into the issue of CO2, temperatures and solar output in the Ordovician in their paper here.

    Another good resource on the changes in the solar constant over time can be found here.

    Instincts, a willingness to learn and a normal level of skepticism are good things. I've seen you make some good insights when trying to explain your positions in previous posts. But your response above was...disappointing.

    You're capable of better than that.

    The Yooper
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  14. #103: "there is evidence that solar winds can be a strong indicator of variations in global temperatures."

    Well, you better be prepared to show that evidence, as there is a wealth of publicly accessible solar wind data out there.

    For example, here's a picture of the solar wind during that hot year all the deniers find so interesting (1998).

    And here's 1999

    As a cosmic ray researcher, I know those spikes relate to CMEs. But I wonder: What's the 'strong indicator'? Or will this be just another easily-repeated denier mantra based on a subjective read of the actual research?
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  15. Ned #94 Here's a serious question. Is there any "skeptic" reading this thread who is willing to categorically state that yes, CO2 is in fact a greenhouse gas? No caveats, no "allegedly", no "for the sake of argument". Just "yes".

    Yes. I consider myself a "skeptic". I believe that CO2 is greenhouse gas, I believe that increasing CO2 concentrations will warm the atmosphere and I also believe that the recent (~30 year) temperature record shows an increase. My main skepticism revolves around how much of the warming is anthropogenic, since much of this "appears" to determined by the GCM's. I am in the process of looking into this for myself.

    Ned, does that answer your question?
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    Moderator Response: There is a followup post summarizing the evidence for anthropogenic causes of the warming.
  16. Geo Guy - in regards to the thermodynamics of melting glaciers, 1 oC can matter a LOT.

    Glacier dynamics are an ongoing process. Snow falls every year, accumulating in central Greenland (for example). Glaciers move to the shore driven by ice pressure, at speeds dependent upon the amount of liquid lubricating their bases, back-pressure from the calving fronts, friction, etc etc. And they then calve off and melt into the ocean. The melting/calving isn't an on/off switch, it's a continuous process tied to temperature of the air and water around Greenland.

    An analogy; You have a queue of people for a concert, 100 people in line. Every minute 10 people get their tickets and enter the concert, and every minute 10 people arrive at the back to line up. The individuals in the line change, but you will always have 100 people in line.

    Now you give the ticket-sellers large expressos, and they work faster. 10 people/minute are still arriving, but 11 people per minute leave. The ongoing ticketing rate has increased. Not a state change, but a rate change.

    After an hour, will you still have 100 people in line? No - you'll be down to 40, and dropping.

    Increasing the rate of glacial melt more than increasing the rate of snow accumulation will decrease the total glacial icepack.
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  17. stmwatkins at 01:33 AM on 2 August, 2010

    ”My main skepticism revolves around how much of the warming is anthropogenic, since much of this "appears" to determined by the GCM's. I am in the process of looking into this for myself.”

    Yes, one needs to come to one’s own conclusion about the evidence.

    I would say ‘though that the question of how much of the warming is anthropogenic has got very little to do with GCM’s. Our understanding of the earth temperature response to enhanced greenhouse forcing comes largely from theoretical and empirical understanding of the greenhouse effect and analysis of CO2-temperature relationships in the past [see e.g. R. Knutti and G. C. Hegerl (2008), which reviews the scientific evidence for climate sensitivity to CO2 forcing]. The attribution of contributions to 20th century and contemporary warming comes from independent analysis of greenhouse gas forcing, from expert analysis of solar contributions from a large number of solar scientists, from independent analyses of the (cooling) contributions from manmade aerosols and volcanos and so on [see e.g. Lean and Rind (2008) and Hansen et al (2005)].

    The fact that this information is used to parameterize models doesn’t mean that our understanding of warming contributions comes from models. The value of models are (i) that they allow us to test the extent to which our understanding leads to verifiable predictions, and (ii) they allow us to test projections of future effects (e.g. warming) as a function of different scenarios (e.g. greenhouse gas emission scenarios). Otherwise models don’t really tell us anything that we don’t already know.

    The evidence simply doesn’t support a substantial solar contribution to warming over the 20th century. There has been no positive trend in solar parameters since the 1950’s and the last ~ 25 years has seen a reduction in the solar contributions (during the period of maximum warming). Without a positive solar contribution it’s pretty difficult to conjure up anything else that could give rise to the remorseful input of energy into the climate system during the 20th century and especially the last 30-odd years…

    R. Knutti and G. C. Hegerl (2008) The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to radiation changes Nature Geoscience 1, 735 – 743.

    Lean, J.L., and D.H. Rind, 2008: How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L18701.

    Hansen, J. et al. (2005) Earth's energy imbalance: Confirmation and implications. Science, 308, 1431-1435.
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  18. Re: stmwatkins at # 115 at 01:33 AM on 2 August, 2010 above:

    Let me see if I'm understanding you correctly:

    You base your reservations about accepting that humans are raising the global temperatures due to their fossil fuel burning (which injects massive qualities of long-sequestered CO2 into the worlds carbon cycle) because of a lack of faith in GCMs?

    GCMs are simply physics-based mathematical models which can be computed by pencil and paper by anyone with an understanding of the base mathematical concepts involved. There's no big mystery to them. The fact that everyone uses a computer to run them on is to simply save time. Model runs taking hours on a supercomputer would take months or more if computed by hand (and without the human-induced math errors).

    Are you aware of the predictive power of GCMs? GCMs have been correctly predicting many of the effects we are experiencing today. Real Climate has a nice topically recent (and convenient for our illustrative purposes) post on Wally Broecker. Back in the old days, On 8 August 1975, Wally Broecker published a landmark study on global warming, using some of the first GCMs, in which he predicted the rises we've seen today in both rising CO2 concentrations and the expected global temperature response.

    Thus, with a predictive ability from 35 years ago, to adequately predict what we have seen today, it seems clear that GCMs have a strong predictive power to model temperature responses due to rising CO2 concentrations.

    If your contention was that it's not the CO2 that humans release that's causing the temperature response, well that dark corner has been illuminated. Check out the text between Figure 2 and Figure 3 on this page here.

    Most people seem to find AGW overly complex (sometimes frustratingly so).
    But it really comes down to this:
    1. Greenhouse gases warm the planet (else there would be no liquid water on the Earth),
    2. CO2 is one of the, if not the most important, greenhouse gases (for many demonstrable reasons),
    3. CO2 is rising,
    4. The rising CO2 is driving global temperatures upwards (and the global temperatures are going up in a response appropriate to the well-understood radiative physics involved) as shown by multiple converging lines of evidence,
    5. The increasing CO2 concentrations are known to come from fossil fuel emissions (from its isotopic signatures),
    6. We humans are burning those fossil fuels;
    7. Thus the human attribution to global temperature increases.

    I would like to thank you for your honesty and candor. It is both rare and refreshing to hear that from someone professing to be a skeptic. I'm sure that a mind open to science and logic will come to a proper evaluation.

    Thanks for caring enough to post a comment!

    The Yooper
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  19. Crap, Chris beat me to it (must be a better typist than me). Sorry for any overlap!

    The Yooper
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  20. Geo Guy at 06:33 AM on 31 July, 2010

    Scotese graph

    It should be obvious Geo Guy that one cannot assess CO2-temperature relationships in the deep past from a crude sketch of a model of CO2 levels with a 10 million year temperature resolution, and a crude indication of temperature with an unspecified provenance and resolution. It's a nobrainer that we can only assess temperature-CO2 relationships from data where we have contemporaneous proxy CO2 and proxy temperature data. Since we have a huge amount of this data it would be daft not to use it to inform our understanding!

    Ordvician solar luminosity

    As Daniel and KR have pointed out, it's completely uncontroversial that our sun has evolved from its creation with a a progressive increase in solar outputs. 400-odd million years ago during the Ordovician the solar constant was around 4 % lower than now. Any of our theories of natural phenomena, whether contemporary or in the past, have to accommodate basic and well-established knowledge.

    thermodynamics of melting ice

    A 1 oC global temperature increase corresponds to a 2 oC or more raised Arctic temperature. As time progresses the temperature will continue to increase. We're already directly measuring increases in the rate of loss of Greenland polar ice mass and increased sea level rises. Therefore there must be something wrong with your "thermodynamic" argument. Obviously if your theory (1 oC of temperature rise can't cause large scale ice melt) doesn't accord with extant reality there must be something wrong with your theory.

    Of course we know that if one puts a block of ice in a chamber at a temperature 1 oC below the freezing temperature, and then raises the temperature to 1 oC above the melting temperature, all the ice will eventually melt. Likewise, in the real world those parts of polar and mountain glaciers that have historically been in an environment that averaged a temperature just below freezing point, and are now in an environment that averages a temperature a little above freezing point, will be melting. That's also a no-brainer. The real world is a little more complex. But thermodynamics cannot be by-passed...
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  21. Geo guy>
    (1) The estimate of historical solar output does not come from our observations of the sun, they come from astronomical data. By observing many stars that are generally similar to the sun one can build up a good picture of the evolution of a star with the general characteristics of our sun. One obtains rather sophisticated models, which are consistent with astronomical observations. Using these models, one can compute the outgoing radiation as a function of time. The solar output during the ordovician is estimated by this function (I think).

    (2) I do not understand why plant stomata are a good proxy for CO2 level. Is there some study underlying this? Can you give a link?
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  22. Re 117 & 118

    Thanks Daniel and Chris for the reply. My job is the development of physics based simulation codes (generally non Finite Element). I do not pretend any real knowledge of the GCM's that are currently being used and can not comment on them one way or another. But that does not mean that I trust them, without a peek under the hood (and in my opinion neither should you). Once I find out a few more things, I may post a question on the Are the models reliable thread.

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    Moderator Response: Thank you for recognizing that there are appropriate and inappropriate posts for comments! Most people assume that if initial discussion of a topic is appropriate for a given thread, that continued comments into excruciating detail also are justified on that same thread. Instead, we allow only the initial conversations to be on the original thread but then try to push detailed discussions to the more appropriate, specialized threads.
  23. Stmwatkins if you've not run into it before take a look at Spencer Weart's book (full text online). It has a useful history of GCM evolution and includes many references to deeper treatment via papers and the like.
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  24. Moderator Response (to #50 Berényi Péter at 22:58 PM on 29 July, 2010): This level of detail and sheer space consumption does not belong on this thread. Put future such comments in the Temp Record Is Unreliable thread. But if you post too many individual station records, I will insist that you instead post summary statistics.

    Understood. See the rest at that thread.
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  25. stmwatkins #122, it should also be stressed again that GCMs are only one of three (or more?) lines of evidence indicating the degree of warming from anthropogenic sources. Paleoclimate research has been conducted to determine how past swings of carbon dioxide have impacted past temperatures... thus giving us some idea of the impacts the CO2 increase we are currently causing will have. Also, direct measurements of current changes in CO2, temperature, and feedback effects like water vapor and albedo are used to compute the anthropogenic impact.

    So even if you were to conclude that the GCMs are complete nonsense which somehow match the paleoclimate and current direct measurement data by random chance... it wouldn't change the overall arc of climate science at all. The claim that AGW is 'all based on computer models' is fiction.
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  26. CBDunkerson #125

    I would like to change my use of the term skepticism to the term question and state that I have a very conservative science background. It appears that using the term "skeptic" is a bit like waving a red cape around here :) Also, I need to change my current job if I thought computer models were nonsense.

    My question was about differentiating the anthropogenic forcing from natural forcing, and that appears to be mainly through the GCM's. Like I stated in my initial post, I believe there is a anthropogenic component. My question is how much? Which I am slowly looking into.

    More to this thread topic.

    Is there some type of Arctic Sea Ice fantasy league going on? I am very conservative (no s-word used) on AGW issues but this is a bit daft. Increasing Arctic Sea Ice would be a good thing but it does not signify some type of scientific victory one way or the other.
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  27. Stmwatkins, indeed there is the rough equivalent of an Arctic Ice Fantasy League (AIFL, sounds legit!) in play. Not exactly to the level of hulking guys with five-o'clock shadows clutching fistfuls of sweaty money and chomping on stogies while hunched over a pair of dice, but near enough.

    September 2010 Arctic Ice Extent Handicapping Via ARCUS is one parlor where you can make your bets.

    Daft it is, at least on an inter-annual basis. Morbidly fascinating, too.
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  28. stmwatkins #126 wrote: "My question was about differentiating the anthropogenic forcing from natural forcing, and that appears to be mainly through the GCM's."

    Again, the point I am trying to make is that this is NOT the case. There is just as much evidence of the degree of anthropogenic forcings (as opposed to natural forcings) from direct measurement and proxy records as there is from GCMs. Take a look at the very next post after this one... which gives ten indicators that the warming is human induced. Notice that the GCM models aren't included. When you can measure an increase in surface IR radiation at the bandwidths impeded by CO2 you DON'T have to rely on a computer model which predicts that you will see that increase... you are observing it directly. When you can find proxies showing that past incidents where the climate was similar to current and then the temperature went up five or six Celsius (over several centuries) as atmospheric CO2 concentration doubled you DON'T have to rely on a computer model which predicts that will happen as humans double CO2 concentrations now.

    GCMs are nice, but they are NOT the 'main' drivers behind climate science at all. Indeed, it is precisely the other way around... the values we get from direct and proxy measurements of climate forcings are FED INTO the climate models.

    On the Arctic sea ice fantasy league, hey we have to get our climate fun where we can find it. Yes, 'extent' is a highly weather dependent factor and thus virtually impossible to predict accurately on an annual scale... but that's why its fun. As to a random yearly fluctuation not being a 'scientific victory'... entirely true, and something we've been trying to explain to many self-styled 'skeptics' for a LONG time. In 'skeptic' land any year which does not set a new record high/low indicates reversal of the trend. Thus, for the past two years the sleight increase in Arctic extent indicates a 'recovery'... despite the volume of ice continuing to decline. I for one thus look forward to 'new record' years so I don't have to listen to the butchery of statistics about the 'trend having reversed' for a while.
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  29. OK, so I really have NO idea where to post this, but since it's the exact opposite of what this thread is about:

    Reecntly, I was asked (well, gently bullied would be closer to the truth :D) to do a guest blog about climate after providing a couple of answers I stoled from SkS.

    Since there are already quite excellent articles / sites about "10 most used skeptic arguments" or "10 myths about climate change", my idea was something like "10 key skeptic peer-reviewed studies surviving longer than a few months before being totally trashed".

    So far I have Friis-Christensen (1991), which isn't really close to 10 yet. Any suggestions?

    PS @ John & other mods: if you know a better thread to post this, please tell. I really won't mind. :)
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  30. (Oops, I hit Submit instead of Preview. Anymoo, the question is still the same.)
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  31. #102: the stomata argument started wayyy back at #21. The geocraft website left out some critical bits from its source material (notably one of the Kouwenberg papers).
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  32. Here is a possible 11th indicator: wave height.
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  33. Its interesting how the debate is running around in circles do to climate change AKA Global warming. Here is an artical I wrote yesterday about the situation 'Carbon Tax' and the hole in the Universe


    Firstly I wish to state my ground on 'Global Warming' so as to avoid being labelled as 'another sceptic' who only serves my own self interests. I still doubt the cause as to whether 'Global Warming' is the result of;

    Solar influences.
    Natural climatic fluctuations.
    Human's influence on the environment.

    That being said, I feel that regardless of the cause, we, as a global population can not risk "sitting on our hands" and doing nothing on the premise that we may or may not be to blame for the recent rises in global temperatures.

    If we are not to blame, changing our wasteful attitudes & practises will not (in my opinion) be a negative step (beyond the obvious economic ramifications) and can only take us toward a more sustainable future for generations to come.

    If we are to blame, acting now will hopefully reverse some of the damage that we have already done and ultimately, give future generations a planet that can be habitable for many millennia to come.

    Human influence on the environment

    Since the industrialisation of modern society, humans have taken full advantage of the planets natural resources and have utilised them to our advantage. Whether it be for food, economic, technological or social gains, we have grown lax in our appreciation of the limited bounty our planet has to offer. We have only to look at Easter Island in the south-east Pacific to see the consequences (in this particular case - deforestation) of plundering limited natural resources until they are gone completely.

    With so many different influences that humans have had on the planet, we should be asking two questions, "What -of the many- influences caused by man has led us to a point where we are affecting the climate of our planet?" and "What can we do/change in our activities/lives that will reverse the damage already done?".

    As both questions are interwoven to each other it should be as simple as finding what major influences humans have made to our planet in the last 200 years.

    Did I say "simple"?

    It appears that is far from the truth as the scientific community is still debating as to whether humans are responsible - let alone the cause - for our planets change in climatic conditions. As I have stated above, this paper is not going into the debate as to whether humans are, or are not responsible for 'climate change'. I am assuming that "we are" for the reasons given in the introduction.

    So I will re-word the question.

    "What has mankind changed on the face of this planet more than anything else"?

    Surprisingly enough, there is a simple answer to what would seem like a question that could have many credible responses.

    We have removed roughly two-thirds of our planets forests and replaced them with either farms, residences or industry. In some cases all three can be found within a few kilometres from each other. In some countries, we have as little as one-twentieth of the original rain-forests left. According to forecasts, we may be only have 10% of our natural forests left by the year 2030C.E.

    So what has this got to do with the proposed 'Carbon tax' that the Australian government is proposing to liberate our troubled climatic woes?

    Everything and nothing!

    Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere

    Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen rather dramatically in the last 50 years. To quote some statistics, Carbon Dioxide has increased from roughly 300ppm (parts per million) to 390ppm. As I'm sure that any of you who do click on that link, will immediately notice that Carbon Dioxide is still a trace element. It is about as likely to influence climatic warming as turning on an air-conditioner in summer.

    So, is our current issue of global warming caused by over consumption of power and an industrialised society bent on consuming fossil fuels?

    Unfortunately, I fear the answer is no. It is more likely that deforestation is the real culprit in this debate.

    As much as I would like to think that we are taking a step in the right direction and that 'Carbon tax' will ultimately benefit our planet & all of its inhabitants. There seems little proof that imposing a tax for the purposes of reducing emissions will do anything but put more money in to government coffers.

    What can we do to reduce/eliminate the threat to our environment caused by "Global Warming"?

    The short answer does not exist. Much of the deforestation on our planet is caused by a need to create farms to feed the masses.

    The long answer involves careful legislation and western countries investing in our third-world brothers.

    It is pointless telling an Afghani farmer that he/she should reduce half his crop by planting trees that will produce no income whatsoever.

    It just isn't going to happen!

    However if we were able to educate that same Afghani farmer into producing crops that offer a more productive yield and can ultimately, introduce practises that help maintain the soil quality, such as planting trees in key parts of their fields. We may be able to begin a change that sees humankind turn the tide on deforestation and ultimately, combat "Global Warming".

    In conclusion

    Whether or not man is to blame for the change in our climatic conditions that are causing "Global Warming", I strongly urge that regardless of cause, it would be a folly to do nothing. Though to implement a 'Carbon tax' would be just as great a folly as it serves only political interests. It does absolutely nothing but segregate the population into "those for" versus "those against" and gives those who truly wish to make our planet a better place, a false sense of security.

    Opposing a 'Carbon tax' is not turning your back on our once pristine planet as many proponents for the tax would have us believe. I think that it does the opposite, it questions the motives of our politicians and brings forward the need for real solutions that won't just band-aid the problem but defeat it at its source.

    Remember that we are gambling our only habitat. To make the wrong move and focus our energies in the wrong direction could easily wipe out humankind altogether. We need to fix the problem and not just slap a tax on it and think that industry will find a solution for it.

    So the next time you are asked whether you support a 'Carbon tax'. Be confident that you can point out that the Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere has changed by less than 0.01%, but our planets forests are already less than 33% of what they were 200 years ago and that by 2030C.E. it is projected that there will only be 10% of them left.

    Do not blindly oppose 'Carbon tax' as you will only get labelled as someone who doesn't care for the environment or our children's future. Instead start the conversation on how we can increase the worlds forests, you may be surprised at your ability to turn a negative situation into a situation where we can all offer our thoughts on potential solutions to the 'Global Warming' crisis.

    I am sure that there are many strategies that can be used to re-populate the forests of our planet but, I fear I am ill equipped to suggest what would be considered sound legislation in regard to re-forestation.

    The Original document can be found at
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  34. RickyPocket: "I still doubt the cause as to whether 'Global Warming' is the result of;

    Solar influences."

    As this 'possibility' is overwhelmingly disproven by evidence supplied in the, It's the Sun, argument response at the very top of the 'skeptic' arguments list it is clear that you have not bothered to read up on the science or this site at all.

    Thus I would hope that the moderators remove your copy/pasted manifesto (and this reply) as pure spam. It contains nothing more than a laundry list of the usual provably false 'skeptic' claims already addressed on this site.
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  35. RickyPockett at 15:47 PM, I think the effects of deforestation is something that is yet to be fully understood and thus has not been properly quantified and accounted for in the global climate system.
    Deforestation is not of recent advent, but began in earnest with the large scale building of wooden boats. Obviously this began the rapid reduction of timbered areas in coastal areas and along waterways.

    Knowledge that has been accumulated shows that the difference between forested and non-forested land on how far precipitation penetrates inland can be many thousands of kilometres, with the forested areas acting as a "pump" driving moisture inland that otherwise would quickly runoff back into the oceans, but this idea has only really began to be seriously considered over the past 5 years.

    This effect on the water recycling system plays into the atmospheric circulation, affecting wind circulation and cloud distribution patterns and thus the areas of differential heating.
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  36. RickyPockett, you would do well to read the following, which answer all the beliefs you seem to hold - starting with the main link from the article you are posting in (which you seem not to have read) :

    State of the Climate

    Newcomers Start Here

    The Big Picture

    Evidence for global warming

    Is there a Scientific Consensus on Global Warming ?

    Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature

    CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas?

    The economic impacts of carbon pricing
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  37. With regard to the hope from RickyPockett that the trees will save us, a recent paper suggests things are not quite as simple as some would like to believe :

    Tree Growth and Fecundity Affected More by Climate Change Than Previously Thought

    The above link leads on to this one :

    Northern Forests Do Not Benefit from Lengthening Growing Season, Study Finds

    And there are plenty more from that link to suggest that perhaps we might be better to include tree-planting as part of an overall carbon-mitigation policy that has other plans which will be quicker and more reliable - such as shown in A Plan for 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, or Climate Emergency: Time to Slam on the Brakes, or A Real-World Example of Carbon Pricing Benefits Outweighing Costs, or The Prudent Path, or Carbon Pricing Costs vs. Benefits.
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  38. You have removed a post in response to #133. Why?

    If there's a reason, why have not you removed that one in the first place?
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  39. In response to negative feedback from some of the people that have obviously taken offence at my article. I offer this reply and encourage criticism;

    134. CBDunkerson. Firstly, I think that the first point I would like to make is that the keyword here is “doubt”. As a definition this is not an affirmation or a declination.

    As this 'possibility' is overwhelmingly disproven by evidence supplied in the, It's the Sun, argument response at the very top of the 'skeptic' arguments list it is clear …

    For the record, the Fig.1 on the graph from the link you have provided actually shows us that the ‘Solar Maxima’ in the late 1800’s is still below the ‘Solar Minima’ from the 1950’s to date. Hence (from this graph) in the last 100+ years we can ascertain that the sun actually has increased WRT (with respect to) Solar Irradiance. In the last 50 years the Sun has decreased WRT Solar Irradiance but the levels are still higher than they were in the late 1800’s.

    I am not stating that the sun is to blame in my reply but, I certainly not stating that it isn’t. If we knew exactly how the sun worked there would be uproar in the scientific community every time NASA sent a satellite in to space to study ‘Solar activity’.

    The short of it is, we still do not know exactly how the Sun influences our planet and stating that;

    “… overwhelmingly disproven by evidence supplied…”

    only discredits any arguments that you have because it labels you as being biased.

    Thus I would hope that the moderators remove your copy/pasted manifesto (and this reply) as pure spam. It contains nothing more than a laundry list of the usual provably false 'skeptic' claims already addressed on this site.

    Expressing an opinion is now spam?

    I hate to break it to you but I do not get paid for writing a blog. I have even foregone putting advertising on my page at for that exact reason. Kudos to you, for proving my actions to be justifiable.

    136. JMurphy I’m very sorry but I can’t seem to get the links to work. If it is not too much trouble I would appreciate it if you could please repost the links.

    137. JMurphy Surprisingly enough, I was having a debate/argument with my own father last night on the lack of evidence supporting the benefits of planting trees and the “Parity Effect” of trees only recirculating carbon in the environment and to this I countered – If trees were only absorbing carbon to be later released in the decomposition stage after the tree has died, there would be no coal.

    To try and clarify this, a good friend of mine from my engineering class when I was studying at uni, worked in the coal industry and pointed out to me that underneath the Hunter Region (near Newcastle, NSW, Australia) is a coal field. He stated to me that you can dig down a metre in any residential area that had been built above felled forests and find coal deep and thick. I inquired as to why that was and was given the reply that as trees shed their leaves, sticks & branches, the forest floor ends up as a natural compost sealant, slowly suffocating the previous layers and compressing them, until ultimately leaving a pure layer of carbon. Carbon that is not bound to Oxygen as one would find with CO or CO2 but in a captured state.

    By this fact alone, we can come to the conclusion that trees are not in fact in a state or parity, as some would have us think but, in fact do actually remove Carbon from the Environment. Albeit a slow process that can take many (many) years, it is in fact the leaves of the tree that are our friend in this case - remembering that it is in the leaves that the process of chlorophyll happens.

    I have a screaming urge to point out at this point that, there was an article about five years ago in ‘New Scientist Magazine’ that trees will in fact contribute to the CO2 (amongst other things, most notably nitrites) in the atmosphere until they reach maturity. This – I hope – will make us all (humankind) come to the realisation that carbon is in fact an inherent part of our planets ecosystem and follows the laws of thermodynamics as such that we cannot destroy or remove carbon. The carbon will always be there and can only be “moved around” except, – of course - in the case of nuclear reactions.

    For the record, I am NOT a “Climatologist” nor am I a “Chemical Engineer” I am a lowly music teacher who decided to trade a good income working as a Mechanical Engineering in return for spending more time with my four children as the grow.

    In essence, I do have a vested interest in the subject of “Climate change” and “Global Warming” as I wish for future generations of this planet (our children) to have a chance to grow up in a world that has a sustainable source of power, shelter & food.

    I think that discrediting someone because their opinion as they may or may not be accepted by the general consensus (and this applies to this column as well as the world outside of it) is a step in the wrong direction.

    I can also accept that my article only brushes on one aspect of the causes of “Global Warming” and as such will be viewed by extremists from both sides of the debate as being wrong.

    My intentions were not to divide us in the debate on “Climate Change”. It is time that we stopped saying that “I’m right” & “you are wrong” for the sake of our ego’s and start accepting that there are many views on “Climate Change” there are many possible answers that can be given as to its cause.

    My intentions were solely to point out that putting a tax on “carbon emissions” so that corporate industry can be the ones responsible for finding a solution to the damage that we have incurred to our planet as a whole is not (in my honest opinion) the way to solve this problem.

    No doubt I will have pissed off more than a few of you in my statements, but, I encourage you to have an open mind and to debate this problem with well thought out responses.

    Kudos to all of you for caring about this subject with the passion you have already shown.

    With my deepest regards

    Ricky Pockett
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    Moderator Response: One of the (few) rules here is to stay on topic. You were pointed to a relevant thread, so please continue the conversation about that topic on that thread. You can post a pointer to that thread, here. Another example is your contention that the Sun's high radiance for the past 50 years supports the influence of the Sun on current warming. There is a post and a comment thread for that, so please use them: "Climate Time Lag."
  40. RickyPocket (incredibly long post) @139

    "I think that discrediting someone because their opinion as they may or may not be accepted by the general consensus (and this applies to this column as well as the world outside of it) is a step in the wrong direction."

    Indeed. Which is why regulars here are forever insisting on data and peer reviewed literature to back up opinion. Without evidence opinion is without value.

    "My intentions were not to divide us in the debate on 'Climate Change'. It is time that we stopped saying that 'I’m right' & 'you are wrong' for the sake of our ego’s and start accepting that there are many views on 'Climate Change' there are many possible answers that can be given as to its cause."

    Ego does not enter into it, facts are what matter. There can be many views on climate change but only those that are backup up with evidence have any scientific value. Lacking that they are worse than worthless. They add nothing to the discussion and serve only to distract from the science.
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  41. And Ricky, if you have trouble distinguishing between valid arguments and disinformation, stick to arguments that are supported by peer-reviewed research (and if getting your arguments from likes of Co2"science", check that the peer-reviewed research says what the arguer implies).
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  42. Scaddenp @142

    I'm sorry I don't understand the reference to Co2"science".

    Can you please clarify?
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    Moderator Response: Also see my moderator's response on your previous comment.
  43. is disinformation site, good at claiming papers say things that they dont.
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  44. FYI scaddenp I am not repeating/rewriting someone else's opinion and I have never been to the website you mention nor any like it before today beside this one.

    I found a link to this article on twitter minutes before posting my article here as it seemed like a well known place of like minded people who may actually want to hear what I had to say.Given the fact that I come from the engineering community.

    My article is posted on my blog which is MY OWN OPINION and is only referenced with links to wikipedia because I wanted an unbiased reference list and I did not want to associate with any green groups for fear of political backlash.

    For the third time my blog can be found at Though given the attitude of the responses I have found here I doubt that any of you have even been there, much less have checked the references I have quoted on the said article.

    To the nameless Moderator.
    I find it amazing that you asked me to take my comments to another part of your website (which I must admit I couldn't find a reference to - Quote "You were pointed to a relevant thread, so please continue the conversation about that topic on that thread.") and then attack my comment because you obviously failed to understand the point I made (quote "Another example is your contention that the Sun's high radiance for the past 50 years supports the influence of the Sun on current warming. There is a post and a comment thread for that, so please use them: "Climate Time Lag.") regarding
    the suns influence on a graph from THIS website.

    You have a gutless attitude to tell me to take this elsewhere(without a link) while simultaneously attacking a point I made in my post that I am obviously only going to be reprimanded further if I try to respond. WOW

    Feel free to remove my posts from this site.

    I will never return.

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    Moderator Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] Actually, JMurphy already had given you a TON of quality threads that completely rebut & overturn every point you were making, starting here.

    And gutless (your term) is not sticking around to defend your not-so-strongly-held positions on a topic (climate change) that so many here know far more about, and want to help you learn, than do you.

    And I have been to your site.

    If it's an honest, open dialogue you seek, and you honestly wish to learn more about this topic without accusations and recriminations, then I will dialogue with you. Anything else, it's your loss.

  45. RickyPockett, if you click on any red text which appears underlined when you hover your mouse-point over it, you will be taken to the relevant link automatically. Well, you should be, anyway !
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  46. Addendum : If you are using the (see all) Comments section, the links will be in blue.
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