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Climate Hustle

Cool climate papers 2011

Posted on 4 February 2012 by Ari Jokimäki

The Skeptical Science audience largely were not monitoring my new research of last week feature during last year (this is painfully obvious from the visitor counts of my blog), so I think a glimpse of that might be in order. One of the points highlighting some selected papers of last week is to show that climate science is cool. Therefore I decided to make a selection of cool climate papers of last year. While I'm browsing through new climate related science and looking at certain research paper, I frequently think that this is cool. Below you can see some of the studies from last year I thought were cool. There is one paper for each week and I have subjectively decided which is the coolest paper of that week. I won't listen to complaints but you are welcome to show your own selections.

I should note that in some occasions these studies show results that are not very nice, so I'm not suggesting that those results are cool, but that the science of the study is cool. Sometimes I had to leave out some very cool studies because there were some other study in the same week I wanted to include. I would also like to note that generally all science is cool but these are kind of papers that highlight it.

Week 1: Jezek et al. used radar measurements to study Jakobshavn Glacier sliding in Greenland.

Week 2: Bar-Or et al. note that it is actually quite difficult to find cloud-free pixels from MODIS data.

Week 3: Pongratz et al. show that historic wars and epidemics did not have strong enough effect to Earth's carbon cycle so that they would be detected in ice core carbon dioxide records.

Week 4: Bernier et al. estimated the climate impact of black spruce forest turning to lichen-spruce woodlands in North-America.

Week 5: Kucharski et al. model simulations suggest that Atlantic warming causes eastern tropical Pacific to cool.

Week 6: Turtle et al. have observed that even if Titan, the moon of Saturn, has very weird weather system, it seems to have seasonal changes, which seem to occur in the tropospheric methane clouds.

Week 7: Yamano et al. found that Japan temperate area corals are expanding polewards at high speed - 14 km per year.

Week 8: Roquet et al. have equipped elephant seals with data loggers to measure ocean temperature and salinity.

Week 9: Therrell & Trotter analysed the weather and climate information in native american pictographic winter calendars.

Week 10: Schweger et al. studied why Holocene forests differ from those of previous interglacials and suggest that one important factor that wasn't present in previous interglacials is mankind burning stuff.

Week 11: D’Arrigo et al. studied NAO and ENSO reconstructions back in time and suggested that the anomalously cold winter 1783-1784 was not caused by the erution of volcano Laki, but that it was caused by similar combination of NAO-ENSO phases that made winter 2009-2010 so severe in some places of Northern Hemisphere. By the way, a recent study showed that eruption plume of Laki probably didn't reach stratosphere and therefore probably didn't cause the cold winter 1783-1784.

Week 12: Bokhorst et al. used infrared heating lamps and soil warming cables to simulate week-long extreme winter warming events in sub-arctic heathland to find out that winter warming events cause considerable plant damage by melting insulating snow.

Week 13: Kosintsev et al. used intestinal contents of a baby mammoth to reconstruct the environment where this mammoth called Lyuba lived over 40000 years ago.

Week 14: Webb et al. noted that grapes in Australian vineyards are attaining maturity earlier than before, so this must be one of the positive sides of global warming.

Week 15: Ding et al. suggest based on observational data that West Antarctic warming actually originates from central tropical Pacific.

Week 16: Caccianiga et al. studied ecosystems on the surface of glacier.

Week 17: Retallack studied fossil preservation through ages and argued that GHG-driven climate changes might help in fossil preservation. So, it seems that at least we leave lot of study material for future generations.

Week 18: Anderson reviewed the evidence on how important celebrities are in climate change communication.

Week 19: De Boeck & Verbeeck showed that while climate affects drought conditions, drought also affects climate.

Week 20: Rea et al. suggest that Earth's climate doesn't have a stationary state to which it returns after climate events.

Week 21: Roy & Peltier studied Earth's rotation parameters and suggested that global warming has affected Earth's rotation.

Week 22: Csank et al. made a tree ring based climate reconstruction that covers 250 years of Early Pliocene (4-5 millions of years ago).

Week 23: Lee & Sohn showed that dust events in Mongolia have increased and that they "appear to be caused by degraded surface vegetation and reduced soil moisture associated with intensified drought conditions".

Week 24: Mims et al. showed an alternative for those who think that water vapor measurements from those expensive satellite projects are not to be trusted - you can simply point a cheap IR thermometer to the sky and measure away.

Week 25: Kourtev et al. studied bacteria in cumulus clouds and found that: "Cloud water bacterial communities appeared to be dominated by members of the cyanobacteria, proteobacteria, actinobacteria and firmicutes".

Week 26: Park et al. note that in future warm climate there will still be cold surges and that living things that have adapted to the warmer climate will suffer from the cold surges.

Week 27: Ballenger et al. reviewed the evidence to see if Younger Dryas climate chenge affected mankind of that time and find that there are significant cultural changes that coincide with the YD event.

Week 28: Camuffo & Bertolin present earliest temperature observations in the world - the Medici network (1654-1670).

Week 29: Kurtén et al. show that when a burst of methane is emitted to the atmosphere, it is not enough to just calculate its radiative forcing, but you also need to consider the feedbacks relating to the methane chemistry in the atmosphere.

Week 30: Jeong et al. suggest that future greening in the circumpolar high-latitude regions amplifies surface warming in the growing season because there will be more absorption of sunlight.

Week 31: Pleijel & Uddling found that wheat grain yield might or might not increase with elevated carbon dioxide but there will be less protein in wheat grain at any case.

Week 32: Muto et al. made borehole firn temperature measurements in East Antarctica and found a warming trend.

Week 33: Wanner et al. studied Holocene temperature and precipitation records and found no clear cyclicity in climate events and also that the events behaved spatially differently.

Week 34: Gao et al. found many reasons why the surface area of Lake Chad has decreased by more than 90%.

Week 35: Guirguis et al. showed that in climate appearances can be deceiving. They reported that last two winters were anomalously warm in Northern Hemisphere even if the cold events in some parts gained headline space.

Week 36: Gatebe et al. used airborne radiation measurements to show that ship wakes can increase ocean reflectance by more than 100%. They also calculated that the cooling effect from increased reflectance from ship wakes globally would be about 0.14 milliwatts per square meter.

Week 37: Arrigo & van Dijken showed another example of things you can do with satellites by measuring daily changes in Arctic Ocean phytoplankton. It seems that as soon as ocean gets free of ice, phytoplankton primary production increases.

Week 38: Diamond et al. suggested that tropical ants have lower warming tolerances than temperate ants despite greater increases in temperature at higher latitudes.

Week 39: Wik et al. spent some time counting gas bubbles in an Arctic lake ice and while studying the results they decided it might not tell much about the methane flux of the lake.

Week 40: VanCuren studied how albedo modification by building cool roofs would affect climate.

Week 41: Matuszko studied the effect of clouds on solar radiation and found that the greatest amount of solar radiation can be detected on Earth's surface when sky is partly cloudy.

Week 42: Haywood et al. note that while water vapor is strong greenhouse gas, it also causes dimming to sunlight.

Week 43: Inauen et al. found that glacier forefield plants increase their root biomass and decrease their above-ground biomass when carbon dioxide concentration increases.

Week 44: Macnab & Barber study shows that fish might be in for some bad times because it seems that fish parasites grow faster in warmer water.

Week 45: Attanasio et al. use Granger causality analysis to global temperature and get clear signal from greenhouse gases while getting no signal from natural forcing.

Week 46: Fyfe et al. show that climate model predicts decadal temperature trends skillfully.

Week 47: Rautiainen et al. show that the devil is in the details and make an analysis (with spectral measurements and such) the albedo of Scots pine shoots.

Week 48: Nesje et al. have studied ancient reindeer hunting artefacts, which is cool by itself, but these particular ones were recovered when ice in southern Norway, that had covered them for hundreds of years, melted. The artefacts were then used to gain information of past climate.

Week 49: Graven & Gruber determine radiocarbon emissions from nuclear power industry and estimate how they affect atmospheric radiocarbon concentration globally.

Week 50: Svensson et al. use new methodology and reveal previously unseen annual layers from Eemian interglacial in Greenland NGRIP ice core.

Week 51: Junkermann et al. demonstrate that technologies cleaning up coal power plant emissions might come with side effects to the climate, especially regionally.

Week 52: Chen et al. have made a tree ring reconstruction of temperatures back to 1850 in southeast China. Yes, I know that this doesn't sound particularly cool but these are winter temperatures they reconstructed.

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Comments 1 to 14:

  1. Very nifty post. Obviously, I need to spend more time on your blog as well as here at SkS.
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  2. Ari, I appreciate your posts here and I keep your site open in a tab in Firefox. It's just that there is soooo much info on your site, it is hard to know where to start - or to stop once I get going. You are doing valuable work. Please keep it up.
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  3. Thanks so much for this excellent list and links.

    Nice to note that so many are free of cost - and those behind paywall offer abstracts for free.
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  4. Aha!!! So you admit that climate is cool! ;)
    I. Dennai
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  5. Fear not Ari - these are all extremely interesting. I appreciate the time and trouble taken to assemble these.

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  6. "Week 14: Webb et al. noted that grapes in Australian vineyards are attaining maturity earlier than before, so this must be one of the positive sides of global warming."

    Errr ... not so much, unless getting drunk is your goal. Ripening earlier means that you have the higher sugars, but less time to develop the tannins and flavors you need for a balanced wine. Climate change also brings with it greater incidence and severity of extreme weather events (which wine grapes hate). Climate change may be of some slight benefit to winemakers, but only in areas that were cool to begin with, like the Mosel ... and would certainly not be good for areas like the newer Queensland plantings or even older and more established ones like the Hunter Valley.

    You might check this out for more info, should you be interested.
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  7. Thank you all. :)

    #2, Doug H, perhaps I should insert a start here sign there somewhere.

    #3, rpauli, I bet many of the behind the paywall ones have free copies somewhere in the Internet by now. Those can be found rather easily by inserting the name of the paper to Google.

    #4, tmac57, yep. Our diurnal scale climate here is very cool currently (-15 deg. C and snowing).

    #6, Old Mole, thank you for the info. Here in Finland it's sort of national hobby to get drunk every now and then, so perhaps I had that in mind. ;) But at any case, you offer very good example of something that might first appear as positive side of climate change but when consulting the details it necessarily isn't so positive after all.
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  8. Thanks for putting in the effort, Ari. I just went through your list and read 15 or 20 of the abstracts, and have bookmarked the list to come back for more browsing.

    Many of these are papers I hadn't seen, in journals I wouldn't normally read. But you're right, they are cool and diverse.
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  9. Diversity is indeed one thing I want to show with the "new research of last week" series (and this extract of it). It is also a deliberate effort to include mostly papers that wouldn't get much publicity otherwise. So I tend to note papers outside Nature/Science/PNAS.
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  10. I typically visit agwobserver about once per week. It's an excellent site for keeping up with the latest climate change studies, and as a reference when looking up research on a particular topic.
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  11. Thanks for all the effort, but don't you think that, given the subject matter, overuse of the word 'cool' is best avoided?
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  12. Thanks Ari,
    I appreciate the effort that has gone into this list. A great deal of interesting papers here. While scrolling through I noted a few that are relevant to blog articles I have written in the past.

    Sometimes it's the offbeat 'cool' research that can attract the most public attention. The most visited article on my climate blog is: Whales and Climate Change: the role of Whale poo in absorption of CO2. Hardly 'core' climate research but it taps in to environmental concern over commercial whaling and climate change.
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  13. I think I need some help with this one: "Week 40: VanCuren studied how albedo modification by building cool roofs would affect climate." I understand that this reduces the radiative forcing, and cools the local environment. Has this study modelled possible effects on the global level?

    I raise this because Mark Z. Jacobson and John E. Ten Hoeve released a study online (Free PDF) in October 2011 (see my blog article), but peer-reviewed published in AMS Journal Feb 2012 - Effects of Urban Surfaces and White Roofs on Global and Regional Climate (abstract) - that argues that their model results "show that conversion to white roofs cooled population weighted ground and air temperatures over the simulation. However, feedbacks of the local changes to the large scale resulted in a gross global warming, but smaller in magnitude than the UHI. Whereas, the population-weighted air temperature decrease due to white roofs was ~0.02 K, the global temperature increase was ~0.07 K."

    Perhaps they are both correct, just looking at the subject from different levels? Can someone with more physics background advise?
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  14. Takver, the obvious next question is; if in VanCuren that white roofs add warming of 0.07k to gross global temperatures, would black roofs provide gross global cooling? It does sounds counter intuitive. Or is there a shade of grey that provides the maximum cooling?
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