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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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dana1981

Dana Nuccitelli is an environmental scientist at a private environmental consulting firm in the Sacramento, California area. He has a Bachelor's Degree in astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master's Degree in physics from the University of California at Davis.

Dana has been researching climate science, economics, and solutions since 2006, and has contributed to Skeptical Science since September, 2010.  He also blogs at The Guardian, and is the author of Climatology versus Pseudoscience.  He has published climate-related papers on various subjects, from the build-up of heat in the Earth's climate system to the expert consensus on human-caused global warming.

Follow him on Twitter.

Publications

Nuccitelli, D., Way, R., Painting, R., Church, J., & Cook, J. (2012). Comment on ocean heat content and Earth's radiation imbalance. II. Relation to climate shifts. Physics Letters A.

Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S.A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., Way, R., Jacobs, P., & Skuce, A. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2), 024024+. 

Cook, J., Oreskes, N., Doran, P. T., Anderegg, W. R., Verheggen, B., Maibach, E. W., Carlton, J. S., Lewandowsky, S., Skuce, A. G., Green, S. A., & Nuccitelli, D. (2016). Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming. Environmental Research Letters, 11(4), 048002.

Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Skuce, A., Way, R., Jacobs, P., Painting, R., Honeycutt, R., Green, S.A. (2014). Reply to Comment on ‘Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature: a Reanalysis’. Energy Policy. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2014.06.002

Nuccitelli, D. A., Abraham, J. P., Benestad, R. E., & Mandia, S. A. (2013). Comment on: Akasofu, S.-I. On the Present Halting of Global Warming. Climate 2013, 1, 4–11. Climate, 1(2), 76-83.

Abraham, J., Cook, J., Fasullo, J., Jacobs, P., Mandia, S., & Nuccitelli, D. (2014). Review of the consensus and asymmetric quality of research on human-induced climate changeCosmopolis2014(1), 3-18.

Benestad, R. E., Hygen, H. O., Dorland, R. V., Cook, J., & Nuccitelli, D. (2013). Agnotology: learning from mistakes. Earth System Dynamics Discussions, 4(1), 451-505.

Nuccitelli, D., Richter, M. J., & McCall, B. J. (2005). A search for interstellar carbon-60. In IAU Symposium (Vol. 235, p. 236P).

Encrenaz, T., Bézard, B., Greathouse, T., Holmes, S., Richter, M., Nuccitelli, D., & Forget, F. et al. (2006, February). Ground-based high-resolution IR spectroscopy of Mars: H2O and H2O2 mapping, search for CH4, and determination of CO2 isotopic ratios. In Second Workshop on Mars Atmosphere Modelling and Observations, held February.

 

Recent blog posts


Déjà vu: as with tobacco, the climate wars are going to court

Posted on 18 July 2016 by dana1981 & JohnMashey

Investigative journalism has uncovered a “web of denial” in which polluting industries pay “independent” groups to disseminate misinformation to the public and policymakers. The same groups and tactics were employed first by the tobacco industry, then fossil fuel companies. Big Tobacco has been to court and lost; now it’s Big Oil’s turn. Political leaders are choosing sides in this war.

Research by Inside Climate News revealed that Exxon did top notch climate science research in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which revealed the dangers its products posed via climate change. Soon thereafter, Exxon launched misinformation campaigns by funding “think tanks” and front groups to manufacture doubt about climate science and the expert consensus on human-caused global warming.

exxon knew vs did

What #ExxonKnew vs what #ExxonDid. Illustration: John Cook, SkepticalScience.com

Exxon wasn’t alone. Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, and other fossil companies have similarly funneled vast sums of money to these groups. Last week, Senate Democrats, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and vice presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken signed a Resolution expressing congressional disapproval of the fossil fuel industry’s misinformation campaign.19 Senate Democrats also took to the floor of the Senate to speak out against the web of denial, with repeated references to the tobacco/fossil connections.

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking about the web of denial on the Senate floor.

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1 comments


We just broke the record for hottest year, nine straight times

Posted on 11 July 2016 by dana1981 &

2014 and 2015 each set the record for hottest calendar year since we began measuring surface temperatures over 150 years ago, and 2016 is almost certain to break the record once again. It will be without precedent: the first time that we’ve seen three consecutive record-breaking hot years.

But it’s just happenstance that the calendar year begins in January, and so it’s also informative to compare all yearlong periods. In doing so, it becomes clear that we’re living in astonishingly hot times.

June 2015 through May 2016 was the hottest 12-month period on record. That was also true of May 2015 through April 2016, and the 12 months ending in March 2016. In fact, it’s true for every 12 months going all the way back to the period ending in September 2015, according to global surface temperature data compiled by Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way. We just set the record for hottest year in each of the past 9 months.

CW13 running

Running 12-month average global surface temperature using data compiled by Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way. Illustration: Dana Nuccitelli

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10 comments


New research: climate may be more sensitive and situation more dire

Posted on 5 July 2016 by dana1981 &

Scientists use a variety of approaches to estimate the Earth’s climate sensitivity – how much the planet will warm as a result of humans increasing greenhouse effect. For decades, the different methods were all in good general agreement that if we double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Earth’s surface temperatures will immediately warm by about 1–3°C (this is known as the ‘transient climate response’). Because it would take decades to centuries for the Earth to reach a new energy balance, climate scientists have estimated an eventual 2–4.5°C warming from doubled atmospheric carbon (this is ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity’).

However, a 2013 paper led by Alexander Otto disrupted the agreement between the various different approaches. Using a combination of recent climate measurements and a relatively simple climate model, the ‘energy budget’ approach used in Otto’s study yielded a best estimate for the immediate (transient) warming of 1.3°C and equilibrium warming of 2.0°C; within the agreed range, but less than climate model best estimates of 1.8°C and 3.2°C, respectively.

This new energy budget approach, which was replicated by several subsequent studies, seemed to indicate the Earth’s climate is a bit less sensitive to carbon pollution than previously thought. As a result, the IPCC adjusted its estimated range for equilibrium climate sensitivity from 2–4.5°C in its 2007 report to 1.5–4.5°C in its 2014 report. This suggested perhaps a slightly less dire climate situation.

New finding: disagreement due to apples-to-oranges comparison

Later in 2013, Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way published a paper finding that climate scientists had been underestimating global surface warming, largely because of a lack of measurements in the rapidly-warming Arctic. Additionally, while climate models simulate surface air temperatures (the temperature of the air a few meters above the Earth’s surface), over the oceans, climate scientists measure sea surface temperatures. It turns out that the water surface isn’t warming quite as fast as the air above it. Thus looking at modeled surface air temperatures versus measured global land-ocean surface temperatures is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

A new study in Nature Climate Change led by Mark Richardson in collaboration with Kevin Cowtan, Ed Hawkins, and Martin Stolpe accounts for these differences to make an apples-to-apples comparison. They find that the use of sea surface temperatures biases the Otto result low by about 9%, and the lack of Arctic observations by another 15%. When observations are adjusted to estimate surface air temperatures (red bars in the figure below), or when models are adjusted to estimate land-ocean surface temperatures (blue bars), the estimated transient climate response from climate models and the Otto approach are in close agreement.

apples to apples

Like-with-like comparisons of transient climate response estimates between models and observations. In the upper two bars, the observed estimates are adjusted to match the method used for the models. In the lower three bars the model outputs are treated in the same way as the observations. Illustration: Richardson et al. (2016); Nature Climate Change.

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1 comments


The inter-generational theft of Brexit and climate change

Posted on 27 June 2016 by dana1981 &

In last week’s Brexit vote results, there was a tremendous divide between age groups. 73% of voters under the age of 25 voted to remain in the EU, while about 58% over the age of 45 voted to leave.

View image on Twitter

This generational gap is among the many parallels between Brexit and climate change. A 2014 poll found that 74% of Americans under the age of 30 support government policies to cut carbon pollution, as compared to just 58% of respondents over the age of 40, and 52% over the age of 65.

Inter-generational theft

The problem is of course that younger generations will have to live with the consequences of the decisions we make today for much longer than older generations. Older generations in developed countries prospered as a result of the burning of fossil fuels for seemingly cheap energy.

However, we’ve already reached the point where even contrarian economists agree, any further global warming we experience will be detrimental for the global economy. For poorer countries, we passed that point decades ago. A new paper examining climate costs and fossil fuel industry profits for the years 2008–2012 found:

For all companies and all years, the economic cost to society of their CO2 emissions was greater than their after‐tax profit, with the single exception of Exxon Mobil in 2008

For much of the time during which developed nations experienced strong economic growth as a result of fossil fuel consumption, we were unaware of the associated climate costs. We can no longer use ignorance as an excuse. And yet the older generations, who experienced the greatest net benefit from carbon pollution, are now the least supportive of taking responsibility to pay for it. The longer we delay, the more devastating the consequences will be for the younger generations.

Similarly, today’s youth who are early in their career paths will face the harshest consequences of the Brexit vote that was dominated by older voters. As Jack Lennard put it:

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40 comments


97% global warming consensus paper surpasses half a million downloads

Posted on 23 June 2016 by dana1981 &

In 2013, a team of citizen science volunteers who collaborate on the climate myth debunking website SkepticalScience.com published a paper finding a 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming in peer-reviewed research. Over the past 3 years, that paper has been downloaded more than 500,000 times. For perspective, that’s 4 times more than the second-most downloaded paper in the Institute of Physics journals (which includes Environmental Research Letters, where the 97% consensus paper was published).

The statistic reveals a remarkable level of interest for a peer-reviewed scientific paper. Over a three-year period, the study has been downloaded an average of 440 times per day, and the pace has hardly slowed. Over the past year, the download rate has remained high, at 415 per day.

Follow-up paper second-most-read

The 97% study and other consensus research has been attacked and misrepresented, which led to a follow-up paper in which authors of seven previous climate consensus studies collaborated to settle the question once and for all. The two key conclusions from the paper were:

1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists.

2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.

That follow-up paper, published two months ago, has already been downloaded 45,000 times. Interestingly, the 2013 consensus paper has returned to the top spot as currently the most-read paper in Environmental Research Letters, with the 2016 follow-up study coming in second.

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2 comments


The Grand Oil Party: House Republicans denounce a carbon tax

Posted on 13 June 2016 by dana1981 &

On Friday, the US House of Representatives voted on a Resolution condemning a carbon tax. As The Hill reported:

Lawmakers passed, by a 237-163 vote, a GOP-backed resolution listing pitfalls from a tax on carbon dioxide emissions and concluding that such a policy “would be detrimental to American families and businesses, and is not in the best interest of the United States.”

Six Democrats voted with the GOP for the resolution. No Republicans dissented.

The oil industry is scared of a carbon tax

ExxonMobil officially supports a carbon tax, but the company did not comment on the House Resolution prior to the vote. Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute, which is a key lobbying group of the oil industry, including ExxonMobil, publicly supported the anti-carbon tax resolution, as did Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) suspects that the Resolution itself originated from the oil industry:

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19 comments


Trump and global warming: Americans are failing risk management

Posted on 8 June 2016 by dana1981 &

Currently, about 40% of Americans support Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and about 40% of Americans are not worried about global warming. While short of a majority, this is a substantial fraction of the American public failing to grasp the risks associated with a Donald Trump presidency and potentially catastrophic climate change impacts.

In Business InsiderJosh Barro recently wrote about the former:

Trump calls for a huge risk premium because, while he probably wouldn’t be a disastrous president, the low-probability disasters that he might cause would be immensely costly. Some of them involve nuclear weapons and global mass deaths. Pricing those risks in properly should push his share price comfortably below Clinton’s, even if you think she is very bad.

In most cases, Americans are good at managing risks. We buy insurance for our homes, cars, and health. We wear seat belts in cars, and far fewer Americans smoke today than just a few decades ago.

risk

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10 comments


Scientists debate experimenting with climate hacking to prevent catastrophe

Posted on 1 June 2016 by dana1981 &

On his late-night talk show, Jimmy Kimmel recently invited climate scientists to explain that they’re not just messing with us about global warming.

In fact, climate scientists are so worried that we’re going to fail to prevent catastrophic consequences that some are studying how we can hack the climate, also known as “geoengineering.” This approach is essentially viewed as a last-ditch, “break glass in case of emergency” desperation option in the event of such a failure. Some climate scientists view this as a potentially reasonable way to deal with climate change, but others disagree. It’s a controversial topic.

Scientists have proposed various ways that we might use geoengineering to stave off a climate emergency, but one of the most popular involves pumping particles into the atmosphere. Volcanic eruptions spew tiny sulfur dioxide particles (aerosols) into the atmosphere, which reflect sunlight and act to temporarily cool the planet. If humans were to similarly pump aerosols into the atmosphere, in theory we could offset some global warming. This is known as albedo (whiteness) modification, because we would be modifying the Earth’s reflectivity.

If the idea of mimicking a continuous volcanic eruption makes you nervous, you’re not alone. A National Academies of Science (NAS) report warned that the potential side-effects of this type of climate hacking are not well understood or quantified. Moreover, it would not solve the problem of ocean acidification – sometimes referred to as “global warming’s evil twin” – a major threat to marine ecosystems that only 20% of the British public has ever heard of.

Hotter and more acidic oceans form a one-two punch that’s killing off coral reefs, for example with the mass bleaching event that’s currently ongoing. Coral reefs are home to 25% of marine fish species, so this is a critical concern. It’s carbon that’s causing the world’s oceans to become more acidic, so we can only solve the problem by cutting carbon pollution or by removing it from the atmosphere.

Recently the US Senate appropriations committee passed a spending bill that mysteriously included funding for the computational study of albedo hacking.

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9 comments


Donald Trump wants to build a wall – to save his golf course from global warming

Posted on 26 May 2016 by dana1981 &

Donald Trump has consistently expressed his conspiratorial and misinformed beliefs that global warming is a hoax.

Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee - I'm in Los Angeles and it's freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!

Trump is also the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president in 2016, and were he elected, would be the leader of the country with the second-highest net carbon pollution in the world. These are frightening thoughts.

However, as reported by Politico, Trump acknowledges the reality and threats posed by human-caused global warming when it comes to protecting his own assets, and in keeping with his affinity for building walls:

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27 comments


Climate denial arguments fail a blind test

Posted on 23 May 2016 by dana1981 &

As we saw in the recent legal ruling against Peabody coal, arguments and myths that are based in denial of the reality of human-caused global warming rarely withstand scientific scrutiny.

In a new study published in Global Environmental Change, a team led by Stephen Lewandowsky tested the accuracy of some popular myths and contrarian talking points sampled from climate denial blogs and other media outlets. The scientists searched the blogs for key words related to Arctic sea ice, glaciers, sea level rise, and temperature to identify the most popular arguments. Not surprisingly, they found some common myths:

nearly two-thirds of all mentions of temperature on the three top contrarian blogs included a claim of “cooling”; and likewise more than a quarter of all mentions of arctic ice alluded to its “recovery”, and so on.

Using their search results, the authors put together language that was representative of the most common arguments made on the climate denial blogs about these subjects. To ensure that their example arguments accurately depicted contrarian claims and rhetorical techniques, they also consulted climate experts, who confirmed their representativeness. Interestingly, the climate experts identified many of the same mistakes that my colleagues and I found in our 2015 study attempting to replicate climate contrarian research (cherry picking data, for example).

The authors then used the same data and arguments as the contrarian blogs, but changed the climate variables to something related to economics, and presented them to economists and statisticians:

For example, the [glaciers] scenario pairs the claim that “our country’s rural population is growing, not shrinking” with a figure that showed the change in population for numerous individual villages, akin to a figure depicting the mass balance of individual glaciers.

In addition, an alternative statement was constructed for each scenario that summarized the mainstream scientific interpretation of the climate data, again translated into economic or demographic terms (e.g., “almost all of the rural regions of the country are losing population”).

The tests involved common contrarian myths that:

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4 comments



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